09 Dec

Cyberpunk is here and it’s not all shiny

This is the future that Gibson wrote of all those years about. Largely dominated by megacorps, but with fringers nipping between the gaps. Maybe it’s better, since the fringers are one step ahead for now, and although Twitter is a corporate entity, it’s going to be very hard for them to shut down clever use of their service. Some people may setup alternatives, indeed there is much talk of darknets.. but they sound more like ghettos than areas of freedom. The biggest freedom would be to break the centralised nature of DNS.. and boy would that be both liberating and (from an architecture point of view) scary.

09 Dec

I am Julian Assange

 Something bad happened. Governments around the world, and the U.S. government in particular, decided freedom of speech was no longer allowed on the internet. WikiLeaks was the target. They put massive pressure on EasyDNS.net, Paypal, VISA, Mastercard, Amazon, Twitter, Facebook and PostFinance (Switzerland) to cease business with WikiLeaks. They all caved in, choosing to side with the elites rather than holding true to the principles of freedom. Governments launched DDoS attacks on the WikiLeaks website and forced it offline, while demanding the founder be tried for treason. Others called for him to be assassinated.

fingerSomething wonderful happened. The little people recognized that their freedom was being stamped on by the governments. They grew angry. The Governments had blocked every method of donating to WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks pleaded with them to clone its site, to reproduce it in the thousands so that the Government DDoS attacks would be futile. They responded. As of now there are over 1,300 clones up and running and growing every hour. The Government DDoS attack have failed. WikiLeaks is still accessible to anybody who wants – and they have a choice of over 1,300 places to access WikiLeaks.

Something wonderful happened again. The little people decided it was not fair that the commercial companies had betrayed them. They decided to act. Just like DDoS attacks had been launched against WikiLeaks, the little people launched DDoS attacks against PayPal. Mastercard was taken offline for a day. VISA was down for hours. EasyDNS.net enjoyed only sporadic access to the internet. The Swedish government website was taken down due to the attacks. Next in line are Twitter, who are currently suppressing the #wikileaks tag from appearing in its trending topics and who have banned the account of #anon_operation – the little people that were involved in keeping twitterers updated on ‘Operation Payback.’

The government is stunned. What they thought as being smart – the taking down of WikiLeaks and finally grabbing control of the internet – has provoked a backlash from the ordinary punter who have taken the route of a Governments worst nightmare. They have self organised, loose collections of people that voluntary offer bandwidth and their computers in support of the ‘payback operation.’ The little people, instead of sitting down and being quiet, have given the proverbial middle finger to the Government and the companies that acted with gross unfairness.

operaton paybackWhat you are witnessing is the beginnings of a war. A war over the freedom of the internet. On the one hand you have the Government. They want to tell you what sites you can access, what you can read, they want to monitor you to make sure you are doing nothing that displeases them. You’ll know you are on their side if you agree that WikiLeaks should have been taken down by the Government. On the other side, are the people that want to retain the privacy and freedom currently afforded by the internet, without the sinister big-brother eye glaring down upon their every typed word.

Today it’s WikiLeaks. Tomorrow, it a complete record of everything you’ve done online stored for five years and anything the government deems against its interests, taken off-line.

So what can little old you do? You can spread the word. Make sure everybody knows about the undemocratic actions of the companies listed. Contact EasyDNS.net, Paypal, VISA, Mastercard, Amazon, Twitter, Facebook and let them know what you think of their actions. There is only one thing more they fear than the government – YOU. YOU are their business, their lifeblood. YOU are how they make money.

If you have a blog or website, repost this article. We’re giving you permission right here, right now to repost it. Or write your own. Everyone needs to get involved in spreading the word. The little people don’t expect to win this battle, but there is always the next one.

You can do more though. If you have a server, consider hosting a mirror of WikiLeaks. The more people do it, the more we’ve won. You can find instructions here.  http://213.251.145.96/mass-mirror.html

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24 Nov

End of an Era

The carrier Ark Royal is sailing from Newcastle upon Tyne on it’s last journey as a British ship on it’s way to Germany. The ship is being decommissioned as part of the UK spending cuts, on it’s 25th Anniversary. At the same time the Harrier jump jet force is being stood down, a similarly momentous end to great service in the UK services.

This affects us directly, my son is a Captain in the Royal Marines and also a Harrier pilot in the Fleet Air Arm, so as of 15th December he no longer had a role. Not that this necessarily means the end of his career or even his flying days, although I can’t see him going back to commanding amphibious infantry again. I am surprised and pleased to say that he seems to be holding up well despite the bad news.

Ann and Matthew met up with Mike and HyunMi in Newcastle over the weekend, and Ann watched as the Ark Royal sailed out of the Tyne on it’s last trip, Mike on the deck at attention. Later that afternoon Mike led the last 4 Harriers off the deck, he was the first of the last flight, his plane with a special red tailfin.

You can see it here, eve though they seemed to have changed the actual flight sequence.

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/3244315/Final-Harrier-jet-leaves-Brit-ship.html?OTC-RSS&ATTR=News

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-tyne-11830653


19 Sep

We’re having a weekend in Berlin, prior to the big INNOTRANS trade show I am attending this week (NewRail has a big trade stand) and it’s Ann’s birthday today.

I got her a Kindle and it’s awesome and I amd just going to have one for Xmas.

She has a bad cold now.. Matt has had it for a week and it’s a bad one, so that’s not nice for her.

My HTC Hero is in the dog kennel after the 2.1 upgrade rendered it useless at making phone calls, so it’s a total reinstall for it when I can calm my temper, and if it doesn’t behave it’s going on ebay and I may well go ultra old school and just have a "phone" for a while.

The OpenQuest game is going well.. I think. It’s curing me of any nostalgia for old skool adventures, I am yearning for some talkie-talkie bits, and the fragility of d100 characters in a D&D setting is appalling.. if it weren’t for hero points everyone would be on their 4-5th character. And hero points are frankly a huge fudge. Not that that means that BRP is duff.. but it’s not built for the very old skool dungeons in the first half of Savage North. Mind you, it gets a lot more roleplaying based after the first arc..

We’ve lost Paul M but we have gained an old friend of Jag’s called RIchard who is lovely and definitely a great new addition to the group (he also wargames and is a great modeller.. we must keep him..). We need more bodies tho’ to balance the ebb and flow we all have.

The big scary news is that we have put the house on the market, we have a "For Sale" sign and all that. The fact that I can barely face leaving my house, that the sheer costs of moving are crippling, and that I am torn apart at the thought of leaving all my friends is giving me nightmares. However I have to be able to manage my research team as it grows to 5-7 people, I need to integrate into the Tyne and Wear region and I need to free myself up write papers rather than project manage. If the house sells soon we’ll be in rented accomodation by Christmas, if not then we may take it off the market again in Nov and start again next April-May.

31 Jul

Amazon Kindle White not available in UK!

Amazon have failed me:

Hello Tom,

The White version of the kindle is currently only available on the Amazon.com store.

Unfortunately there will not be a white version available on the Amazon.co.uk store and you can’t order it from the
US store as you will be redirected to the UK store

Please let me apologies for any inconvenience this may cause.

Thank you for your interest in kindle.

Did I solve your problem?

Now how can Ann have a Kindle that matches her Macbook?

05 Jul

Continuum 2010: Sunday

Sunday, the last..

Up far too early since, despite being in bed by 1.30.. I blogged and read rpg books until 2.30. Had shower, ate quite a good breakfast and then played an AWESOMELY good game of Savage Earthdawn which EvilGaz ran. I think 3 or 4 of the players were Smart Party and as such the gaming was fast, competent and well paced. Gaz is a great GM and I have loved Earthdawn for years although never run it. It rocked for me.

Then, after a quick visit to the B&B to mark down stock, I joined the rather fine Serenity freeform. Much fun, as I played the incompetent and venal Lt. Tillman. Faded a bit by 5pm, but by 6-ish I was assassinated by the hot dog seller. [I just knew he was an urban guerilla, or possibly a street vendor, or both.] Great game, maybe I didn’t fully rise to it but had a good time.

I then hit the tiredness wall and having already dropped out of Scott Dorwood’s horror game I dropped out of DrMoos’ Toon game and instead talked to people. At first I was almost unconscious, but got back my wind as the night progressed ending with an impromptu storytelling session where Oliver Dickinson delivered a new Griselda story and Jamie “Trotsky” Revell regaled us with one of his.

I made quite good return on the B&B and got rid of a lot of stuff, talked to a lot of friends, old and new, and had my best con in a long time.. but Furnace is coming soon and that’s always a great blast.

Tired now, I have a cup of tea, so a few more pages of rpg books and then sleep, and tomorrow on the train to Nochet.. I mean Newcastle..

04 Jul

Continuum 2010: Saturday

I have had a great day again. Sensibly I didn’t play all day, leaving me time to read my scenario for tonight, and also help out on the B&B stall again. Then I joined the Chivalry and Clockwork game being run by Ken Walton of Cakebread and Walton, and had an absolute blast as all my 17th century religious and political upbringing came flowing out in an awesome game and setting (YMMV). This is what I shall spend my credit note with Cubicle 7 on!

Then I ran the ‘How to run a Mini-Con’ panel with Graham S, Darran S and Neil S and I have to say it was great panel and we had an appreciative audience that seemed genuinely interested.

In the evening I ran Nathan B’s charming Winter Song OpenQuest game with 6 dear friends (4 I knew already, 2 we befriended in the game) and suffice to say, they convrted the orcs and dragons to Christianity and saved the kingdom and the werewolf..

Good chat with Graham, Newt, Tim, Stephen and off to bed to write this and sleep.

FULL day Sunday..

02 Jul

Continuum 2010: Late Friday Night

Well, day one of Continuum 2010 is finished and wrapped, and I’ve done quite a bit. Graham rolled up about 1pm and we unpacked all our Bring and Buy stuff from his boot. I wasn’t doing the B&B but it seemed unfair to pass the organisation to someone else so Graham and I ticketed up and organised the stand, both our stuff and many others. It’s a slow job and took us until about 7pm to complete, but I quite enjoyed playing shopkeeper and it meant I could chat to my god friend Bob “Grim” from Reapers Revenge and the staff of Mongoose Publishing. We sold quite a lot of stuff and handed it on to Dave Williams who will be running it for the rest of the Con. I picked up the new Traveller Little Black Books from Mongoose: The Traveller Rulebook, Mercenary, High Guard and Scout. The pocket size (and they really are pocket sized) and the price point (£10) means they hit the sweet spot for me. Problem is, and this is a sad sign of age, that I will probably not be able to read them without glasses on, but hey.. I have glasses..

Popped to the signup boards and signed up for lost of games. Met Simon Beaver, popped up to the D101 games room, picked up my complimentary copy of OpenQuest, said hi to many people and had a fairly weak vegetable curry. [Mind you fish and chips for lunch was good..]

After dinner I went and played in Darren Driver’s Dragon Age roleplaying game. I’ve followed this game in development as the author, Chris Pramas, blogged about it as he and his company Green Ronin wrote and published it. It’s light, nice mechanics and captures a very dark yet familiar D&D style. It remind me a lot of Basic D&D, and I know Chris wanted that kind of easy-starter feel.. but the mechanics are much better and easier. We played it very dark an grim and my female PC seduced and murdered her way inside the party until Sean Varney’s female mage did for me.. before my PC’s dragon mother did for his.. Big thanks to all, and especially Jaran Wood and Sverre Larre who played into my witches hands so well and happily only to discover she wasn’t very nice after all!