Tag Archives: Internet

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What is the Internet?


I have long ranted against people who confuse the Internet with the (World Wide) Web or social media or basically the part of the Internet they are familiar with.

Well now I no longer have to rant. I can just point people to this: The internet, explained – Vox.

The writers are Vox have done a fine job of explaining what the Internet is. Take a few minutes and read it. I’ve been on the Internet since the late 80s (email was the main use back then).  While it is constantly evolving, the fundamental aspects of the Internet don’t change much. Read that piece and you will be good for a few decades.

 

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Can you break the Internet?

Short answer: no. Longer answer can be found here: What Would It Take to Shut Down the Entire Internet?

It’s possible to mess up the Internet, but it is a lot harder than you think. Read the piece and find out why.

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What the Internet is (and what it is not)

This is what the Internet is:

The internet is the wider network that allows computer networks around the world run by companies, governments, universities and other organisations to talk to one another. The result is a mass of cables, computers, data centres, routers, servers, repeaters, satellites and wifi towers that allows digital information to travel around the world.

The Internet is a network of networks. Much of what people believe the Internet is actually runs on top of it: the Web, social media, email, gopher, what have you.People often say “I liked the Internet when..”. They are talking about the platforms they use on the Internet. Things popular on the Internet now — hello Facebook! — will be a relic in the future.  Technologies running on the Internet come and often go,  but the Internet itself is relatively constant and changes slowly.

The quote highlighted above is from this article: What is the internet? 13 key questions answered | Technology | The Guardian. It’s a good introduction to the Internet at a basic level.

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Finding your way with maps (via @austinkleon)

Austin Kleon has a great piece here on the importance of maps, and not as a means of getting around: Finding your way with maps

I love maps too. Especially hand drawn maps. And ancient maps.

I worry that our phones may be ruining hand drawn maps. When I used to take my son to hockey, I would draw my own maps to get to various obscure rinks. Later, I found out about Waze and it was so superior I stopped drawing my own maps. It’s too bad: it would be fun for my son years from now to have those old maps (which I never kept).

This is a map too.

It’s not really about how to get around. It’s a map showing the relationship between things. In this case, the organizations and their computers that made up the Internet in 1969. It does something old maps do: they show us the two dimensions of space and the one dimension of time.

Read Kleon’s piece. You’ll want to go look at maps afterwards, and you’ll be glad.

I create a super simple set of tools to secure your Ubuntu server

And you can get it here: blm849/supersimplehardening: A super simple way to harden your server.

I create a lot of Ubuntu test servers, and I find that as soon as I create a Ubuntu server on a cloud environment, it gets immediately attacked by automated software. This is obviously a concern. A bigger concern is that when I went  searching for recommendations on how to harden such a server, I found  a wide variety of recommendations! It can be hard to know what to do. Still, I needed something. As a result, I created this package of scripts. The scripts do a number of things:

  • prevent direct root login to your server via ssh. This was one of the things I saw consistently happen and once someone cracks the root access on your machine, it’s game over.
  • stop some basic security holes, like IP spoofing
  • download some useful software, like logwatch, ufw and others
  • upgrade all software on the server

This is just a very very limited number of things to prevent attacks. But it is better than nothing.

If you install Apache, PHP, MySQL or other software on your machine, there are even more attacks that will be launched against it. I recommend you get a firewall up and running and at least run logwatch on a regular basis to look for potential attacks being launched against you.

Finally, if it is important for you to secure your server, don’t stop with my scripts. Go out and consult with IT security specialists right away.

Good luck!

Want to send a fax without a fax machine? Now you can!

How? By using: Free Fax • Free Internet Faxing. I haven’t used it, but you can send free faxes to anywhere in the U.S. and Canada, apparently.

If you are dealing with organizations that refuse email as a valid way to receive information and insist on a fax, this could save your day.

 

The timeline of the World Wide Web

If you are going to talk about the Web or the Internet, it pays to know the history of it. The people at Pew put together the key dates and events of the World Wide Web here: Web History Timeline | Pew Research Center. Of course the history of the Internet is even older.

A very useful thing to consult whenever you read some think piece on “The Internet used to be X or Y”.

That story during the Paris attacks recently about a man named Zouheir, a Muslim, who saved thousands of lives? It’s mostly false.

As Snopes.com says:

An uplifting social media rumor about the purportedly heroic actions of a security guard named Zouheir during the Paris attacks was largely inaccurate.

For the details, see Zouheir: The MUSLIM Who Saved Thousands of Lives? : snopes.com.

More and more, whenever I see something viral, I check Snopes.com.

Why aren’t we becoming more productive with all this new technology?

Vox raises that question here: All this digital technology isn’t making us more productive – Vox, and it implies that because people are slacking off on the Internet. I think that is incorrect, and here’s why.

The chart that Vox piece has shows big producitivity gains from 1998-2003 and smaller gains after that.

From 1998-2003 was the peak adoption of the Internet by companies. In the early 1990s, companies started to adopt email. In the later 1990s companies started adopting the Web. To me it is not surprising that companies would become more productive and they shifted away from snail mail and faxes to email. And then companies shifted further and started offering services over the Web, I imagine they became much more productive.

Slacking off on the Internet has been a problem since the Web came along. I know, because I used to monitor web server traffic.  I don’t think that is the issue.

I think it is more likely that companies grabbed the big productivity gains from the Internet at the beginning, and then those gains slowed down after.

So what about smartphones? Have they made people more productive? I think they have, but I also think that the gains in being able to access information remotely may have been overtaken by the sheer amount of information to deal with. Being able to deal with email remotely makes you productive. Having to deal with way more email than you ever had to in the 1990s because now everyone has it makes you unproductive.

Furthermore, many of the features on smartphones are aimed at personal use, not professional use. I think smartphones make us more productive personally,  but less so professionall.y

 

In 1996, James Fallows wrote about Microsoft, the Internet, and even something called Java

I remember all this, but for those of you who feel like the Web has always been with us, it’s worthwhile reading his piece, The Java Theory in The Atlantic.

He didn’t know it at the time, but everything was about to change. I enjoyed reading it, first with hindsight, and then reading it while imagining/remembering what it was like then.

Worthwhile.

ifttt 101. Yes, you need to take this course. It will change your life.


Of all the things on the Internet, ifttt is one of my favorites. It could be yours too. Simply, it is a way to take two of your favorite things on the Internet and combine them into something even better.

First, to learn more about it, go here: How to Supercharge All Your Favorite Webapps with ifttt.

Second, once you read that, go to the site and browse the recipes. Or try and create your own: it isn’t hard.

I especially encourage it for anyone trying to update several forms of social media at the same time. You can link Facebook, Instagram, WordPress, Tumblr, Google, Blogger…you name it. With some practice, you will find recipes that help you keep all your social media in sync and working automatically.

I also encourage people who are interested in the Internet of Things. Or people who want to supercharge their phone. Or…well, just browse the recipes and you’ll likely see one that makes things easier for you.

To all the journalists that think Internet censorship in Turkey is a new thing

I found this in less than a minute: Censorship of YouTube – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Here is the extract for Turkey:

Turkish courts have ordered blocks on access to the YouTube website. This first occurred when Türk Telekom blocked the site in compliance with decision 2007/384 issued by the Istanbul 1st Criminal Court of Peace (Sulh Ceza Mahkeme) on 6 March 2007. The court decision was based on videos insulting Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in an escalation of what the Turkish media referred to as a “virtual war” of insults between Greek, Armenian and Turkish YouTube members. YouTube was sued for “insulting Turkishness” and access to the site was suspended pending the removal of the video. YouTube lawyers sent proof of the video’s removal to the Istanbul public prosecutor and access was restored on 9 March 2007. However, other videos similarly deemed insulting were repeatedly posted, and several staggered bans followed, issued by different courts:

  • the Sivas 2nd Criminal Court of Peace on 18 September 2007 and again (by decision 2008/11) on 16 January 2008; the Ankara 12th Criminal Court of Peace on 17 January 2008 (decision 2008/55);[72]
  • the Ankara 1st Criminal Court of Peace on 12 March 2008 (decision 2008/251);
  • the Ankara 11th Criminal Court of Peace on 24 April 2008 (decision 2008/468). the Ankara 5th Criminal Court of Peace on 30 April 2008 (decision 2008/599);
  • again, the Ankara 1st Criminal Court of Peace on 5 May 2008 (decision 2008/402);
  • again, the Ankara 11th Criminal Court of Peace on 6 June 2008 (decision 2008/624).
  • again, based on “administrative measures” without court order following corruption scandal, relating several govermental officials including Prime Minister Erdogan on March 27th, 2014 The block in accordance with court decision 2008/468 of the Ankara 11th Criminal Court of Peace issued on 24 April 2008, which cited that YouTube had not acquired a certificate of authorisation in Turkey, was not implemented by Türk Telekom until 5 May 2008.

Although YouTube was officially banned in Turkey, the website was still accessible by modifying connection parameters to use alternative DNS servers, and it was the eighth most popular website in Turkey according to Alexa records. Responding to criticisms of the courts’ bans, in November 2008 the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stated “I do access the site. Go ahead and do the same.”

In June 2010, Turkey’s president Abdullah Gül used his Twitter account to express disapproval of the country’s blocking of YouTube, which also affected access from Turkey to many Google services. Gül said he had instructed officials to find legal ways of allowing access.[75] Turkey lifted the ban on 30 October 2010.

In November 2010, a video of the Turkish politician Deniz Baykal caused the site to be blocked again briefly, and the site was threatened with a new shutdown if it did not remove the video.

In March 27, 2014, Turkey banned YouTube again. This time, they did so mere hours after a video was posted there claiming to depict Turkey’s foreign minister, spy chief and a top general discussing scenarios that could lead to their country’s military attacking jihadist militants in Syria.

It’s not a new thing: stop writing about it like it is new.