Mar 05, 2001

Trace who is linking to your site
Free Speech
3/5/2001; 10:40:28 PM

From Hack the Planet:  'The Register: Trace who is linking to your site. "A British company has come up with what it claims to be the first true map of the Web. The LinkMap will let site owners track inbound links to their sites, and is aimed at deep linking." And all this time I was using obsolete stuff like Google and referer logs...'

Ooops, did I just block your IP address? Guess you can't see me...

Why would anyone hire this company for this service? For a few hundred dollars worth of programmer time, any competant web programmer can create a relatively fool-proof hack to control these problems. This company's services are going to have to be priced pretty cheaply to make it worthwhile. Or maybe I'm just not thinking like a committee made up of lawyers, managers, and executive types.

Mar 05, 2001

Stomp the identity thieves
Privacy from Companies
3/5/2001; 8:55:38 PM

'Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the country, and there's no doubt that the Internet makes it easier. But while some argue that sequestering personal information from the Web is the only solution, I have seen the future of identity theft, and I believe that approach would prove a complete disaster....

'Regardless of motives, what makes all this thievery possible is the system by which people are issued identification documents, and the practices of verifying identity. The perpetrator only needs to learn a few personal details about his or her target. The credit industry accepts a certain level of risk in doing business, and creditors are more than willing to service anyone who can "verify" personal information against the details already on file with major credit-reporting agencies.'

Apparently, Kevin Mitnick is still allowed to write about computers.

Mar 04, 2001

LinkBack woes: The Ultimate Woe
3/4/2001; 10:25:26 PM

Well... I've got a confession. I toasted a 20 GB hard drive, with many unique copies of many things that I have now lost forever, including several tens of personal, irreplacable music files that I wrote and tons of other things. A quick slip of the finger was all it took, and now it's all gone, despite several days of frantic attempts at recovery.

The sick part is, I do back my important stuff up. Unfortunately, for one good reason or another, all three of my independant backup systems are down. Not failed, just down, and I hadn't had time to re-replicate everything.  Lesson learned, I suppose.

Anyhoo, it's spring break, so I'm going to re-write LinkBack from scratch... which, believe it or not, was pretty much the plan anyhow. Perhaps in the final analysis this will be a root gain.

A bit of software engineering wisdom I've learned in my oh-so-extensive experience with software (that's sarcasm!): Sometimes, the best thing that can happen to you is a complete loss of source code. Re-implementing from scratch frequently produces a superior design, with superior flexibility, speed, and ease-of-comprehension. And it usually doesn't take as long as you think it will to re-implement.

Of course, the hard part is throwing the code out. I've only done so voluntarily twice, each time with excellent results. I also clearly recognize two points in my life where I should have tossed the code, but didn't, and paid for it.

Many software design methodologies advocate a prototype that you later burn. My experience is that this is very good idea.

Anyhow, hope to have it done by the end of the week, which means you can hope for it by the end of the year Actually, if I get back into school with this undone, it could be a while, esp. as I think I've figured a way to combine school and hobby this semester, and write a plug-in for Radio Userland as an assignment. Still gotta talk to the prof on that one and see if he's OK with a project done in an environment he knows nothing about. He'll certainly green-light the project, as long as he's OK with that.

Mar 04, 2001

Napster Clone's Curious Terms
3/4/2001; 9:19:12 PM

'Aimster encrypts everything that is moved around its network, including all files and directories. It is impossible for anyone outside the system to monitor the network without circumventing the security. Breaking the encryption is illegal under the DMCA because the network and its programming code are copyrighted.

'This leaves copyright owners such as the music and movie industries unable to access the network to monitor the traffic without first breaking the very law they helped get pushed through Congress in 1998.'

Interesting. I saw some people on Slashdot suggest that this would not last long before a "clarification" from Congress made this illegal, but still, it's hardly the first time a custom-made law for some industry came back to bite that very industry hard. For instance, Cringley talks about the Telecommunications Act of 1996 in one of his recent columns, which is now considered a problem by the very industry that wrote the law.

Mar 03, 2001

The real Slim Shady
General IP Issues
3/3/2001; 11:26:14 PM

'But here's the Internet, which at a very fundamental level is all about copying. Consider email, the single most-used application on the Net. You don't ever really "send" a message when you use email. Instead, you make a chain of copies. When you hit the Send button, your ISP's or company's mail server makes a copy of the message. Another mail server, somewhat closer to your message's destination, gets yet another copy, and then another server, then another, and so on until a copy arrives at the recipient's mail server. When that person downloads their message, they make one final copy on their own hard drive, and there it is -- the message has "arrived." Except, unlike a letter, the email message hasn't really traveled, it's merely spawned a handful of copies....'

'As the W.E.L.L.'s old motto goes, "You own your own words." Maybe it's time to formalize that statement legally. Perhaps something akin to "identity right" or "author right" will come to replace copyright.'

I've been calling this the right to integrity... you have the right for people to know that what they see is what you wrote. There's already elementary provision for this in some ways in the copyright system (the so-called "moral rights", in particular the right to be credited for your work, which cannot be sold or bartered), but up until now it's just been an afterthought. It will not be for much longer.

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