Bristol No2ID

[Bristol No2ID Logo]The Bristol branch of the national campaign against ID cards and the hideously Orwellian National Identity Register have stepped up a gear lately and are making news locally and nationally. This week Bristol City Council voted unanimously to oppose the ID card scheme as Bristol No2ID members demonstrated outside the council buildings.

Previously Dave Gould gave Home Office Minister Andy Burnham a fantastic grilling in front of the TV cameras during an ID card propaganda roadshow in the Galleries shopping centre. Dave’s been particularly active in the local group and deserves a lot of credit for his persistance – he certainly puts me to shame, as I’ve recently missed both a meeting and the Demo last Tuesday 🙁

Anyway, here’s a token contribution as I lend what little Google Juice I can muster towards the new Bristol No2ID website. There’s a mailing list, too, so get yourselves signed up if you live in the area and care about your civil liberties – they’re being reomved faster than you might think.

Posted in Uncategorized

Autumn in retreat

Apropos my post of a week or so back, it seems autumn’s been and gone already. Here’s a shot of our local park a week ago:

[Swings in Victoria Pary (Autumn)]

And here’s the same spot earlier today (althought there are still some leaves on the trees):

[Swings in Victoria Pary (Winter)]

It’s been a strange few weeks – only a month ago you could get away with wearing a T-shirt and the leaves were still green. We wake up this morning to find a clear, crisp day, most of the leaves gone and a layer of fine snow dusting the rooftops and gardens around us.

[Snow on the rooftops of south Bristol]

My favourite weather, by far. The snow’s mostly melted now, but the sky’s still clear and the sun’s out.

Posted in Uncategorized

More on securing SSH

Just a brief post to flag that I’ve re-written my earlier post on securing SSH servers to include quite a lot more detail. I’d be very interested in any feedback and suggestions on this, particularly stuff I’ve missed out or any mistakes that may have slipped in, so please get in touch if you’ve any comments (I really must implement a commenting system here at some point).

GDFAF: Going Deaf For A Fortnight

[GDFAF Logo]Pete Ashton, Birmingham-based weblogger extraordinaire, has come up with a what I think is a brilliant idea: he is Going Deaf For A Fortnight. In his own words:

Okay, this is the start of a 14 day series of posts, Going Deaf For A Fortnight in which I go to a gig in a small venue in Birmingham every night to see bands I mostly have never heard of before and then write about them here. By the end of it I expect to have attained a good overview of the Birmingham small gigs scene, to hopefully have discovered some good tune-smiths and to probably have descended into a nightmarish Gonzo-style meltdown. We shall see.

At the time of writing he’s half way through and he’s posting some great stuff. If you live in Birmingham and enjoy live music then you really should check out these posts (Clare and Dave? Ever read this?). He’s building up a fascinating snapshot of the live music scene in Brimingham and spicing it up with his own observations and commentary so it’s not just about the bands themselves but contains observations on stuff like the composition of the audiences and the techniques used by the bands to promote themselves in the age of the internet.

And it’s not just reviews. He’s photographing the gigs and posting the photos to a set over on Flickr, and he’s just put a podcast of music by bands he’s seen online. Interesting stuff and a great example of what you can do with your weblog – personal publishing from the underground music scene! The only drawback, at least from his perspective, is the cost so he’s soliciting for donations from people who’ve been enjoying the series (Pete, if you ever read this, I’m unemployed and skint right now – hence the token donation), so if you fall into that category perhaps you could help him out.

Posted in Uncategorized

Sony, DRM and your computer

There’s been a lot of coverage on this recently, but that’s no reason not to mention it here – especially because this kind of arrogant disregard for people really irritates me and I want the coverage to extend as far and wide as possible. The more people know about this kind of thing the better, so if you ever play music on your computer, you may want to read this.

It’s been revealed recently that the software bundled with certain recent Sony releases uses some arguably dubious techniques to hide itself and make itself almost impossible for the average user to remove. The CDs with this software aim to enforce Sony’s copyright by only allowing customers to play the CD on their computers using the music player bundled with the CD, so the average customer has little choice but the install the software if they want to play their legally-purchased CD on their machine.

You might think that protecting copyright is fair enough, but think about these points:

In summary: the music companies appear to have little or no respect for their customers and place their copyright enforcment needs ahead of your computer’s and your data’s security. Be very careful before installing anything supplied by a music company on your computer, because it appears that you cannot be sure what it is or what it is doing.

If you have already installed this software and are concerned about it, detailed removal instructions can be found at Mark’s Sysinternals Blog but they are not for the faint-hearted. You may be better off waiting for the anti-virus vendors to release removal kits, such as this proposed one from Sophos.

Posted in Uncategorized

Hoary to Breezy

I just upgraded the Kubuntu Hoary Hedgehog partition on my iBook to Breezy Badger. I left it a while to allow any obvious problems with the new release to be ironed out. What a breeze it proved to be:

$ sudo sed s/hoary/breezy/g -i /etc/apt/sources.list

$ sudo apt-get update

$ sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

Then it took about 36 minutes to download the 500-odd Megs of required files over my 2 Mbps line and about another 20 or 30 minutes to perform the upgrade. During this time, it asked me three questions: permission to stop some services, what default language to use, and whether to replace the global Xsessions file.

Everything looked fine. Everything still seemed to be working. A reboot resulted in a nice new login screen and no odd behaviour. Logging-in took me to my familiar desktop. Touch wood, but it all seems to have Just Worked. Very impressive.