Monthly Archives: August 2013

This week we have a slight detour in our podcasting scheduling. I originally intended this show to go out last Wednesday but the original audio had way too much echo so we ended up re-recording in the recording studio environment at Knowle West Media Centre in Bristol.

The podcast this week is in two parts. Deliberately.

The first part is with Cliff Perry of Red Hat, the guy managing the developers and timeline for Red Hat Satellite and the Spacewalk community project. He holds the record for the most popular ever podcast ever published in my podcast catalogue. Over 7000+ people downloaded the show we recorded in 2012 talking about Satellite so we're bringing it up to date with a new show with 5.6 release around the corner and the engineering roadmap to 6.0 already ramped up.

This is where we then diverge. I've already said that we recorded this in a studio for once, not in a motorway service station or rented office space or on the run as is the norm. The studio was kindly lent to us by one of the UK's most creative and diverse environments located in an area of massive social deprivation in Bristol. At the centre, Knowle West Media Centre in Bristol this week was Young Rewired State, one of thirty five venues across the United Kingdom taking part in the global programme that has already this year taken in so many territories worldwide. I encourage you to visit their website and to read more about what it is they accomplish working with young people all over the world. In Bristol this week like so many other locations across the country children and teenagers got together, ninety percent of them without having ANY programming capability or exposure to learn to use open source and open data to build market ready applications for mobile devices and online portals in a five day window. Working together with mentors in groups made up of people they had never met they were exposed to Python, Java, HTML, CSS, MySQL etc etc. I visited Tuesday to record our initial failed recording and then again for the day on Thursday and in between decided with Cliff that this was something Red Hat should be involved with supporting. Google and Facebook already amongst the sponsors and supporters.

Our support is different in that we can provide something that they can't. Targeted listening and awareness of the initiative and also the ongoing program globally. My shows are listened to in approaching thirty nine countries worldwide and syndicated across multiple platforms and clients so if we can get the word out not just in the form of us talking, but also the kids themselves.

So Friday we re-recorded the Red Hat Cloud podcast for CloudEvangelist which you can download below but also after Cliff and I discussed stuff we recorded a second show.

Part two of the podcast is interviewing one of the leaders at Knowle West Media Centre, Hannah, and then four of the young people coding and building these apps and experiencing Young Rewired State, Ben, Katy, Hal and Cliff Perry's son Rhys. This is the first time any of them had ever spoken into a microphone so an experience for them to add to the week they'd already had. We've made it available to you entirely as an optional download as it is nearly 40 minutes long however it touches on a lot of areas we all need to think about:

How do we engage and put back into the community in Cloud or using Cloud ? How do we behave in a socially and moral way to promote inclusion and also to promote equality in the workplace and hiring regardless of gender ? How do we make sure the next generations of technical people who may be the founders and creators of new technology are given a good grounding. All of these affect all of us reading this. So if you want to listen to episode one, maybe also think about listening to part two and doing it with an open mind as we make it light hearted and fun as well as authoritative. At Red Hat we are all about being open, connecting with the world around us, digital inclusion for all and making the Cloud and the internet a better place that gives back.

These podcasts are an example of how we should all be doing it.

Footnote:

I want to thank the amazing staff at Knowle West Media Centre you are an utter inspiration and we will work together again very soon. That's a given.

Download Cliff and I talking shop and some YRS stuff - here in MP3 format, part two of the podcast you can grab here

Late last year I released a podcast (available from the link above) with Cliff Perry talking Red Hat Satellite and Spacewalk. It still remains the most listened to show I have ever broadcast. Nearly seven thousand people have listened to it so today with later versions of Satellite released and version 2.0 of Spacewalk out there it's time we caught up. We recorded briefly a months ago in Boston Logan Airport for a wrap up podcast post Red Hat Summit. That also got a lot of traffic so let's hope what we record later in Bristol is just as popular.

What we ended up recording was two podcasts, one talking tech, Spacewalk and Satellite and then something quite special which I am mixing right now.

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Recently anyone in the UK cannot help to have seen the announcements from David Cameron of his intentions to create a rule enforcing filtering on UK consumer / residential / business broadband internet connectivity to curb the issues of child pornography as well as hate crime related and terrorism / fundamental religious sites.

Before we deep dive into my thoughts lets get the qualifications to talk on the topic out the way.

In August 2000 I co-created a firewall technology you might have heard of called SmoothWall, most of you know it as a GPL Linux firewall but on the back of that I created a company SmoothWall Ltd which provides exactly this filtering and protection to millions of children in schools across the UK and the US - in fact it's the market leader in filtering. In 2001 when I had the idea for SchoolGuardian and got William Anderson to knock up the concept graphics and marketing aids to help us get it to market little did I know it would become the defacto standard used by schools across the globe to this day, in fact Richard Moore current SmoothWall CEO and I were only discussing how proud we are of what it's turned into only last week.

When I exited SmoothWall I took a year out working with what I can describe as government services in the UK and US whose activities maintain the integrity of our daily lives, and then for two years I was Head of Internet Security for NTL the residential internet service provider (also with responsibility for the safety of Tesco Internet users). The mail anti abuse and the gateway protection services working with our network teams to use Linux technology to develop filters and dynamic technologies to keep users safe and platforms available to the 7m users on the network. I also sat on ISPA (Internet Service Providers Association) and advised amongst others the Home Office up to and around the time of the 7th July bombings in London. Since then I've been a certified "specialist" CLAS consultant certified by GCHQ our intelligence headquarters.

So I feel more than qualified from both a technology, platform and industry perspective to pass comment.

The Governments proposition

The UK Government would like to enforce an opt out filter on all users meaning all users have to opt in -  or out of censorship. That's per household before you assume per device. Anyone already spotting the chinks in the paper thin value prop of this plan ? All users opting in or out essentially are saying "Yes I am an adult I would like access to pornography please register my details on your database", do not doubt there will be a database - the UK government loves databases, doesn't quite know how to store, query or use them efficiently but it does love collating them.

The "porn" filter isn't just a "porn" filter - sources within the ISP community have confirmed to me that the list of blocked sites is being extended across other areas hate, drink / drug / eating disorder / suicide etc etc. And unfortunately with false positives and blocking errors you can guarantee that to maintain any form of usable internet connectivity (and freedom of thought and expression) a universal opt-out is the only common sense decision.

Talk Talk who already have a service for protecting kids in the UK will testify that it's not very efficient. The Guardian describing it aptly:

"Cameron praised HomeSafe when launching his scheme – but it emerged that the system collects data about every URL that customers try to access. The system holds a list of "banned" URLs determined to contain pornographic content; every request via TalkTalk's system is routed through Huawei's system and checked against the list, but requests from customers who have opted to view pornography are ignored. That, campaigners argue, means there is in effect no "opt out" from the filters – only from their application."

If moronic, frankly disturbed people want to get smutty illegal content they will and no filters will stop them - period. If anybody believes the the Internet Watch Foundation and CEOP actually have a value add to this proposition think again. I worked with the IWF at NTL and was seriously unimpressed. Talking to friends in three ISPs that perspective remains the same, well meaning folk who are trying to empty an ocean with an egg cup with take down orders and a lack of intelligent cohesive engagement, even when the likes of SmoothWall engage to help them.

Let's be blunt. If the Government put this into practice any of us can circumvent it in under sixty seconds without opting out simply by taking simple steps and we'd remain entirely off the radar of UK tracking auditing and logging. This whole soundbyte seems entirely driven by a very badly briefed Prime Minister whose advisors are absolutely clueless technically and don't realise that the rest of the world are laughing at them - audibly and publically.

When Jimmy Wales the founder of Wikipedia (a UK appointed Cabinet Adviser) stands up and says it's ridiculous then maybe David Cameron's office will get the six ball pen wielding back office advisors to get back round the white board and ask them to engage the communal brain cell to actually back down and not make their master look like the technological doofus of the European Union. Worse still it makes our political leadership look technically backward at a time when technology is critical to the growth of commerce and the push and increase of broadband based industries.

Put the money you would have spent in this utterly inane cat and dog chase into replacing SOCA, into proper crime reporting and auditing and better liason with the ISPs who are not engaged with properly. Get them to assist our intelligence and guidance steering teams to write proper good practice guides on all relevant topics so we don't end up with knee jerk badly drafted badly thought out and badly delivered mantra like this. The government MUST engage with bodies such as The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), ISPs and the tech companies who can tell them how to not look like the silly boy in the class with his hand in the air craving attention.

We all want to keep our children safe. However none of us need a Government who don't understand technology then stand up and wave a big sign saying "invest in other countries as we really really are clueless when it comes to the internet".

In big 80 point Arial Bold thats exactly what you've done Mr Cameron.