Thursday, June 23, 2005

And I almost stopped blogging

Some time ago I posted a call to ban Secure Computing, the company that makes SmartFilter.
The reason: these guys are selling their software to Tunisia, which uses it to block pornography and political debate.

Today I got a comment from Mr. David Burt, PR manager, explaining that secure computing do not licence software to Iran, due to its strick adherance to the US embargo, and any Iranian ISP using SmartFilter was doing it illeagaly.

I almost flogged myself in public, but then I re-read my original post. Hang on Dude, I say, I was talking about Tunisia. What about Tunisia? You know, they are using your software to shut people up. I even warn him that I'm going to post his response.

Here it is:
We sell to ISPs where the law allows.  It's really up the customer how they use
our software.
right. thanks. have a nice day.

full e-mail thread starts here:

We sell to ISPs where the law allows.  It's really up the customer how they use
our software.

David Burt
Public Relations Manager

Secure Computing(r)
Securing connections between people, applications, and networks(tm)

1-206-336-1541 (Direct Phone)
1-800-971-2622 (Main Phone)
1-206-683-9508 (Mobile Phone)
1-206-834-1788 (Fax)
-----Original Message-----
From: Yishay Mor []
Sent: Thursday, June 23, 2005 4:22 PM
To: Burt,David
Subject: Re: [Yishay's blabber] 6/23/2005 03:15:16 PM

First, filtering pornography is a breach of freedom of information. Although it may be acceptable in private institutions, it is not
justifiable on a national scale.
More importantly, apparently they filter much more:

I would like to thank you for your responsiveness to my queries. With due respect, I think it is only fair to note that I intend to quote this
conversation on my blog. Please advise me what is Secure Computing's general policy on providing software to countries which use it to
repress civil liberties, with reference to Tunisia as a test case.


Yishay Mor

Burt,David wrote:

<>We do sell SmartFilter to an ISP in Tunisia. They use it to block pornography sites.

David Burt
Public Relations Manager
Secure Computing(r)
-----Original Message-----
From: Yishay Mor []
Sent: Thursday, June 23, 2005 3:50 PM
To: Burt,David
Subject: Re: [Yishay's blabber] 6/23/2005 03:15:16 PM

Dear David,

I just noticed - my blog post referred to the use of SmartFilter in
Tunisia, not Iran. I'd like to hear your comment on that please.


Yishay Mor

Burt,David wrote:
We don't have a press release or the statement online.  However AFP news
reported much of the statement here:

David Burt
Public Relations Manager

Secure Computing(r)
-----Original Message-----
From: Yishay Mor []
Sent: Thursday, June 23, 2005 8:24 AM
To: Burt,David
Subject: Re: [Yishay's blabber] 6/23/2005 03:15:16 PM


Since this was posted as an anonymous comment, I'd like to verify its authenticity.Also, if you have a press release on-line, please point me
to it so that I can link to it.

Best regards, and apologies for targeting you unjustly,

- Yishay Mor

Anonymous wrote:

Secure Computing has sold no licenses to any entity in Iran, and any use of Secure's software by an ISP in Iran has been without Secure
Computing's consent and is in violation of Secure Computing's End User License Agreement. We have been made aware of ISPs in Iran making
illegal and unauthorized attempts to use of our software. Secure Computing is actively taking steps to stop this illegal use of our
products. Secure Computing Corporation is fully committed to complying with the export laws, policies and regulations of the United States.
It is Secure Computing's policy that strict compliance with all laws and regulations concerning the export and re-export of our products
and/or technical information is required. Unless authorized by the U.S. Government, Secure Computing Corporation prohibits export and
reexport of Secure products, software, services, and technology to Iran and destinations subject to U.S. embargoes or trade sanctions.

David Burt, Public Relations Manager
Secure Computing(r)
1-206-336-1541 (Direct Phone)
1-206-683-9508 (Mobile Phone)

Posted by Anonymous to Yishay's blabber

Bedtime story

Last night I dreamt I was smoking. In my dream, I absent mindedly took a fag from the pack, and went outside to smoke. After I had smoked half of it, I suddenly remembered that I had stopped 3 months ago. I immediately squashed it, and went up home, full of remorse.

In the morning, when I realized it was a dream, my first thought was fuck, why didn't I smoke the whole stick.

Die, story! Die!

Looks like the LAT Wikitorial story is becoming an internet phenomena in its own right. The long tail, as always, has a long and thoughtful commentary about it. I'll try to keep it short, so that old media guys can understand:

  • TalkBacks are for loonies.
  • Blogs are for opinions.
  • Wikis are for facts.
To demonstrate, I'm not going to add a link here as a talk back to Ha'aretz's piece on the Wikitorial.

Are you guys listening?

There's a fine thread from Anil Dash's NYT hack to the LA Times Wikitorial farce (and they blame shlashdot? get real, guys!). And no, its not I won't repeat a story that has been told in more than one place, and by better story tellers than me.
What I'm trying to get at is about the subtle power shift between old and new media, and how old media doesn't get it. It's still locked in its hubris, thinking oh, this internet thing is a nice toy, lets have a go. Like the BBC h2g2. I mean, " It's like an encyclopedia, only better because all the entries are written by people like you!" hello?

All the guys from LAT or NYT had to do was a bit of journalistic research. Not in their archives, but somewhere reliable, like, you know, Wikipedia.

So maybe it is, in a way.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Democratic Middle Eastern Union Votes To Invade U.S.

MECCA—The 14 democratic member nations of the Middle Eastern Union
unanimously voted to declare war on the U.S. Monday, calling the North
American country a "dangerous rogue state that must be contained."
"The United States of America has repeatedly violated international law
and committed human-rights abuses at home and abroad," MEU President
Mohamed Rajib said at a Monday security-council meeting. "MEU weapons
inspectors have confirmed that the U.S. continues to pursue their
illegal ununhexium-weapons program. Our attempts to bring about change
through diplomatic means have repeatedly failed. Now, we are forced to
take military action."

Calm down, its only the onion. The US isn't really a rouge state defying
democracy and colonializing the world.


I'm getting a bit sick of blogger's interface.
First, the mail-in blog feature. It only accepts plain text, it adds stupid tags on to that, and it leaves stuff as unpublished. So I have to enter the management console and edit each and every post.
Then, when I do, it screws them up. Most often the links disappear, or some funny <> show up.

I suppose I should report these issues, but, you know, there's enough alternatives out there.


Joi Ito -> Chris Anderson -> the long tail -> The funniest page on the web and the second funniest page on the web