Internet Technology

Just your average family…living sort of like the Jetsons.

I think we are a pretty normal family. Well, probably more geeky than many, so put us about one or two years ahead of average joe, joette, and the little joelets, in their use of tech. And i have been noticing one of those changes in techland here surrounding my own test case family. Let me expound, explain, and expand. Or expostulate, even.

Currently, we share one internet connection at two houses, ie the modem at each house logins to the one account.

At house of much citrus tree goodness, there is 79years old but miles younger in attitude, the magic that is my dad, aka grandpa , who is tech Scrooge – computers are bah humbug, digital free to air is confusing enough for him, and this from a former engineer! He lives there with our no 2 daughter, the darkly delightful scarily smart and alliteratively amazing ms 19 – and her MacBook Pro. Youngest three visit frequently and have sleepovers, so that means usage is pretty consistent.

HRH gorgeous eldest daughter at 25 has her own place, but is welcome to cup o’bandwidth if needed – it isn’t – lovely lad she lives with works for an ISP, so all the bandwidth they can eat;)

So, here at casa de tractor (3 here so far – himself loves them), we have the youngest three –
Ms almost 17, the budding chef and creator of joy and delight wherever she goes. Linux laptop/family 27″ iMac(was mine, but ours is more accurate)/iPhone.
Ms 10, born performer, dancer of unique and stunning dances, actor of amazing stories, singer of magic songs, and dreamer of wonderful dreams, and her iPad 1/family 27″ iMac.
Master 8, only son, sunshine, intelligence, geeky dude++, full of beans, and the only child I have met who could find a way to get dirty in a clean room, and his Android tablet/family 27″ iMac.
And us –
The Bloke, aka himself, Gorgeous Man, engineer, tractor fiend, and go to man for all systems solutions. Linux laptop, Linux desktop, swears one day he will use the family 27″ iMac, Galaxy Samsung 2 phone.
And me, researcher, developer, engineer, user of wheelchair and delightful new scooter, (speed demon at over 9km/hr with it too!), and lover of all things geek. iPhone/13″ MacBook Air/iPad 2/family 27″ iMac.
Round off with –
Various ring in laptops and mobile phones and wireless devices needed for both The Bloke and I to use as part of our roles on The Serval Project. Storage of nearly 8tb now in just external hdds, a fee portable 500gbs are useful for my frequent traveling/work/sharing between households.

So, the tablets for kids are recent – the iPad 1 is a secondhand acquisition from a friend, the Android one is one I do some UI dev on for The Serval Project, and in between is perfect for Master 8. Introducing tablets to the smaller two was a recent tentative experiment that is now a gratefully embraced fixture. To our surprise, it has reduced fighting, and actually the two are often found harmoniously side by side, sharing games and sites. There is more socializing happening now than before! Let me enlarge on that with a discussion on how we use the tech.

They both have games and books and apps that we approve of only. ABC Australia has a wonderful app, IView which is a huge success (the Android tablet which shall not be named – stupid Acer – is lovely hw tech but awful version – Honeycomb blegh, and fails to play iView via its website, there being no native app. A Cyanogen Icecream Sandwich tablet version which is promised is LONGED for here). The BBC iPlayer is hammered by both Ms 9 and myself, documentary junkies we are. Both provide tv, both current and beloved in memory. I also stream through network from the storage mentioned above. The little ones and I grab a tablet, (and if more,when himself &/ ms 17, via the 27″ as a family together), curl up together to share viewing often. The tech is rarely isolating, and is more interactive shared than passive television.

I DO police their apps, and viewing permissions though, and take advantage of parental controls (again, sadly, Android sucks in that department too*). The two TVs lie gathering dust, himself occasionally lapsing back into older habits, not using devices for viewing programs beyond YouTube videos of restoring Jensen Interceptors (like the one half done in our shed), tractors and odd bulbs – he has such endearing and interesting hobbies! So, all in all, we are pretty switched on tech wise – but I foresee that we are just slightly ahead of an inevitable trend…

So the point of all this is how a slightly, ok hugely, geeky family is seeing the future now. I am fascinated by how this has all developed, and evolved, partly due to work requirements and demands, and partly due to my geek love of tech, but most of all by both the eager adoption and surprising rejection of different tools by the kids. Linux laptops were exciting but quickly discarded – the tablets proving to be the most intuitively used, and thus a hit with the small ones. Again, the iPad is clear winner in that*.

The most interesting thing, to return to bandwidth, has been usage. Two years ago, 100gb was heaps. Now, we have just upgraded from 600gb to a 1tb plan. We don’t have cable or anything like that, all our watching is based around free to air or streamed video via apps. So while we aren’t wealthy by any stretch, we are just a foreshadowing of what tech will be like for everyone – casual, ubiquitous, and above all, highly consumed!

*look, I want to ADORE Android. Open Source FTW!!! And I like the Galaxy s2 hardware, and some of the newer handsets are stunning, even nicer form factors by miles to the currently a tad blocky chocolate bar iPhone 4. But after using an iPhone and iPad, I realize, and have observed in others, (especially the agnostic to brand but not experience and usage kids), that no matter how good the hardware, (and some of it is very very good indeed), the core operating system doesn’t matter as much as the way you use it, the way it looks and feels and responds. And app availability – less than a third of what they have in the iPad could we find equal or similar options for on Android Marketplace.

I really want Android to succeed, to drive iOS into better product races – for both of them to have to constantly strive to make things better for consumers. But honestly, in tablet land there is no competition. And the Apple approach to an iEcosystem(tm no doubt) is second to none, though Amazon is attempting it. But only in the US for now, so from our pov, so what? apple is here, and now, and it just works, or close enough to. Google apps are seamless on Android, and I am a google girl through and through, but I can use my beloved apps perfectly well on iOS.

As I so often say to anyone who hasn’t been forewarned and can thus run away, the UI, the part it plays in the user experience (which is not JUST UI, but rather has UI as a core major component, ), is the key to the whole thing. Here Android is polished engineering, but not anywhere near polished User Experience. And fragmentation by desperately adding on vendor niceties just shows the flaws, not fixes them.

An audience, an audience, my kingdom for an audience – The Drum (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

An audience, an audience, my kingdom for an audience – The Drum (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).


Annabel Crabb is one of the preeminent, (and if not the most popular, certainly listed highly among them), voices in political reporting in Australia. Unlike many of her peers, she has embraced the changes the Internet has wrought in her profession. She not only reports using the new tools, she discusses the changes themselves. Here is one of her speeches on the subject captured in her blog.

The lure of Ada

Ada, Lady Lovelace (the poet Lord Byron's daug...

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Ada was my second programming language. I had used Basic on CP/M to do many things, pushing my Amstrad CPC 6128 well beyond its comfort zone. I went on to PCs, and finally ended up at Flinders University (the observant reader has noticed The Serval Project is based there, yes, it is a homecoming to be there). At the time, Java was still regarded as ‘new’ (oh, so many years ago). SO we did a modified version of ADA 83 – not even the modern, Object Oriented ADA of today, but an older, and still more simplified version. Verbose as anything, I actually quite LIKED this language. Though i would have preferred Java, to be honest. But it got me curious – ADA is such an odd name. And I discovered, pre Wikipedia, what ADA was named after.

Yes, ADA is an American Defence language, but it is named after the first programmer ever – Lady Ada Augusta Lovelace , only legitimate child of Lord Byron, that cad and poet.

A great and gifted mathematician, she contributed a set of notes containing an algorithm for  Charles Babbage‘s Differential Engine – regarded as the first computer. Should it have been built, these notes would have been run as the first program.

As a woman doing work in an industry i utterly love, that inspires me, and delights me daily, how can i not admire her? Like many of us, a working mother, she managed to combine her passion and her intellect with a family – no easy task at any point, but in her time, almost unheard of! So, i take time out to honour her memory, and be inspired by her, and all the wonderful talented women out there working in our amazing industry, and to hope many more join!

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The vile power of anonymity

I don’t agree with everyone online. I am also strongly opinionated. We will pause for collective gasps of shock. Ok, over that? Good.

Does my disagreement with them give me the right to abuse, stalk, harass them? Obsess over every grotty little detail I can pathetically seek to find, like a creepy stalker?

The fact I think Fred Phelps is creepy dangerous does not give me the right to provide him unsolicited abuse, (unlike his vile practices, that he has, in my occasionally humble opinion, brainwashed his near cult into emulating).

Anonymity (the relative anonymity, at least), that being online bestows on us, seems to remove basic lessons in human social skills. The ability to use good manners. To reflect on potential pain. The fact that the person you spit your vitriol at is actually a fellow human, not a series of electrons after all. There are people who make mistakes, who have other opinions, who are actually still stumbling around through life like the rest of us.

I love the benefits the Internet brings. It can build amazing communities for the lonely, and empower the disenfranchised, educate those with limited access to knowledge. It is a deeply powerful tool. Like all tools, it is two edged and dangerous when wielded by those who have underlying agendas. I am sickened by this descent into abusive hostility when faced with disagreement – the argument of the playground, the kindergarten.

I often wonder if people who behave so badly are role playing out their responses to times of being bullied, or feeling powerless, of adolescent sufferings. For adolescent cruelty is deeply apparent in such responses. The cruelty of thoughtless high school students.

I hope we evolve better mechanisms, and start to enforce better behaviour by our lack of accepting such rudeness and hostility.

I f you can read this tale, (Mom, Don’t Read This – Skepchick), and not feel outraged – no matter how much or little you agree with where the tale started  – then please, examine the basic set of human rules for interaction we should all have been educated with, instantly.


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Fooey, Facebook, Farewell.

I know, I tried once before. I didn’t manage it. But tbh, the last few months have seen me avoid Facebook, except to update The Serval Project Page. I now have an identity to do that, and find I am merely annoyed and overwhelmed by Facebook. I have so much happening in life, that I avoid responding. It is making me rude. I don’t like being that. And I guess the story today of cookies from Facebook tracking you even when logged out was the final straw. Also see this ridiculous Facebook Timeline (Facebook Invaded My Privacy, And All I Got Was This Lousy Timeline). Enough already.

I find am actually interested in engaging people now the dread of it Facebook had instilled in me is gone. But why the dread?

I think the simple answer is, many people do a lot on Facebook, and I just became overwhelmed. Guiltily, the unanswered messages piled up.  Facebook, like me when the kids rooms are beyond my acceptability limit, turned into a screaming +10 monster of nagginess. Actually, I am much more mellow…I just remove tech from their reach until fixed – or unleash Daddy (the Gary Larson cartoon featuring a small boy in front a whiteboard with formulae, and a professorish man with a pointer standing next to it, with caption ‘eventually Billy came to dread his father’s lectures as a form of punishment’ is terribly apt here:) ).  Anyway, Facebook is starting to feel like the Internet‘s version of the beginnings of an abusive relationship. Questioning me endlessly about what I am doing, who I am seeing. Tracking me endlessly. Demanding endlessly. That is a lot of endlessly:) Yes, hyperbole, but I honestly came to dread Facebook emails.

I do participate more on Google+, I have found. That might be temporary, but I am more comfortable there. Twitter I don’t mind dipping in and out of, but have never found the right tool to wade through the flood of information. I would love to, so recommendations, please!

So, henceforth, all will centre back with my blog, Google Plus, (this is me) and sometimes, Twitter (me there too). My blog updates Twitter. I update Google+, until APIs from Google allow me to blog-> + the same way,with a nifty plugin. Posterous occasionally will be kept in mix to update log, Tumblr,(which just mirrors this blog, so nbd), and Twitter all at once, in lazy fashion.

So if you want to actually interact, Google Plus, or here on blog:)

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Love for @Dreamhost

I have to say, with no payment from them, that Dreamhost is the host of my dreams. It is fantastic interface, great pricing, run by an Aussie, (ok that makes zero difference, but I thought I might mention it), has the wittiest newsletters, (I actually look forward to them!), and speedy tech support that talks at whatever level you need (I HATE Being talked down to, I have run my own servers and have done a lot fo web dev, so I grok a lot of the process).


So thanks, guys:)

Serval working on standards

As I mentioned in a more personal level post, I am presenting at the IEEE 802 Wireless Interim Meeting. We are proposing improvements to Adhoc mode for 802.11 ah/b/g/n. There are limitations with the current standard we have identified as prohibitive to mesh networking:

  • Cell-splitting / BSSID synchronization / interface hangs problems / outright device incompatibility: partly due to poor implementation of ad-hoc in WiFi drivers, partly due to complexity of ad-hoc specification.
  • Purpose of SSID and BSSID is to separate traffic. For ad-hoc mesh networks we want to prevent separation.
  • Beacons deplete available bandwidth, and not required for ad-hoc networks.
  • Indoor range of 802.11b/g/n on cell phone is ~ house: need several house range to form suburban meshes.
  • Outdoor range of 802.11b/g/n on cell phone is ~village: need several km to form rural/remote meshes. 

These limitations effectively mean that we need to break the standard to achieve our networking requirements. Obviously, this is far less than ideal. So we are proposing (and this is in incredibly simplified terms),  an ‘Innovation Space’, a narrow band where mesh networking can grow as a field while retaining standards. So we are proposing (again, smplified somewhat):

  • S1G Packet Radio WiFi/ Cellular baseband radio
  • Leave Mesh Routing in Software
  • Use of  Variable & Low Bit-Rates
  • Wifi over Baseband Processor
We believe the benefits will assist in growing the emergent field of mesh networking, within a standards based framework, and allow for an enhanced reach of communications, using ubiquitous technology, with non prohibitive costs – manufacturers will have no cost change, there will be little to no adverse disruption. However, in terms of positive outcomes for an entire field of research, the change to our ability to innovate and develop will be quite fundamental
Projects like Digitata and Village Telco have been very supportive in assisting us with our submission. I would like to thanks all the Serval team - especially Jeremy, Paul, and Corey for their assistance in this presentation. Also Elektra, Batman genius, has been incredibly informative, and generous with her extremely busy time.
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Mesh Networks in Authoritarian Regimes

Social networking may have a reputation for pointless trivia, however it is rapidly emerging as the most pressing threat to authoritarian dictatorships. The same social networks we use to plan a night out are being used to overthrow unpopular governments. Unfortunately the means to access the Internet is centrally managed corporations – it’s easy for an embattled government to simply disconnect an entire city or country from the Internet. As we have seen in Egypt… the Internet as we know it can be shut down at the whim of government.

Paul Gardner Stephen is a fellow of Flinders University in Southern Australia. He is the founder of the Serval project, an open-source project which aims to turn every-day mobile phones into nodes of an indestructible mesh network.

And the Serval Project is something i happen to be, very proudly, co-founder of.
Mesh Networks in Authoritarian Regimes, with Dr. Paul Gardner-Stephen, founder of the Serval Project by salimfadhley

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Internet access guide 2025: Dystopian humor

Philipp Lenssen‘s “How to Access the Internet (A Guide from 2025)” is a wicked, satirical extrapolation of the current trends in network control, censorship and regulation. You’ll LOL* in terror:

Getting your Internet Surfing License is a necessary prerequisite in making the web safe for everyone. Before governments made the ISL mandatory, people often found themselves lost in the myriad of web sites, naively double-clicking Hit The Monkey to Win iPad ads, finding themselves spammed by pop-unders. Acquiring the license typically takes only between 2-5 days of education by your local Surf Training School. You will need to carefully prepare for the final test, in which you are required to answer simple questions like:

* What is a pyramid scheme, and do they really work?
* How do I replace the solar cells on my cyber glove?
* Why exactly is it bad for people to badmouth their governments or big companies online?
* Why is it illegal to surf without a RealIdentity card?
* In which year did Google buy the internet?

This is hysterically funny:) Long has there been a feeling among geeks that people need a licence to use computers – why not extend that to the Internet?
(them series of tubes is hard to navigate at times…) ;)

Posted via email from timelady’s posterous

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