Three products to avoid because they hijack your browser and decrease security, with links to details: AVG Antivirus. Comodo Internet Security. TrendMicro Antivirus.
Apparently there are still a few people unclear on whether net neutrality is a good thing for innovation and freedom of speech. Let me clear that up by looking at who’s on each side, excluding political mouthpieces. Netflix, Google, Microsoft, Kickstarter, Reddit, Vonage, Amazon, Yahoo, eBay, Dish Network, Etsy, Facebook, Tumblr, Dropbox, Automattic (of WordPress fame), BitTorrent, Mozilla, and Level 3 (probably the biggest Internet backbone interconnect company) were all in favor of net neutrality.
There’s a kerfuffle ongoing about whether the UN is trying to take over the Internet. The problem proposal: “31B 3A.2 Member States shall have equal rights to manage the Internet, including in regard to the allotment, assignment and reclamation of Internet numbering, naming, addressing and identification resources and to support for the operation and development of basic Internet infrastructure.” What nobody seems to be talking about is why this proposal has been brought forward.
A lot of people are concerned about SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act. There are plenty of pages that say that it will destroy the Internet, but very few that explain clearly exactly why. It has also become clear that the politicians writing the law have no idea how the Internet actually works. So here is my attempt to explain it all. Let me start by explaining DNS, using a situation that doesn’t involve computers, that hopefully anyone can understand.
…no online database will replace your daily newspaper…no computer network will change the way government works. … Yet Nicholas Negroponte, director of the MIT Media Lab, predicts that we’ll soon buy books and newspapers straight over the Intenet. Uh, sure.” We’re promised instant catalog shopping–just point and click for great deals. We’ll order airline tickets over the network, make restaurant reservations and negotiate sales contracts. Stores will become obselete. So how come my local mall does more business in an afternoon than the entire Internet handles in a month?
The Guardian: In recent years networking sites like MySpace and Facebook have seen remarkable growth and become some of the most heavily trafficked destinations on the internet. But Danah Boyd, a researcher at the University of California and internet sociologist, says populations of different networks are now divided on a rough class basis. Her evidence, collected through a series of interviews with US teenagers using MySpace and Facebook over the past nine months, shows there is a clear gap between the populations of each site.
AP reports: Saying surfing the web is equivalent to reading a newspaper or talking on the phone, an administrative law judge has suggested that only a reprimand is appropriate as punishment for a city worker accused of failing to heed warnings to stay off the Internet. In his decision, Spooner wrote: “It should be observed that the Internet has become the modern equivalent of a telephone or a daily newspaper, providing a combination of communication and information that most employees use as frequently in their personal lives as for their work.
In part 1, I enumerated the approaches to spam eradication I was aware of, and explained my conclusion that the only approach which will work is an economic approach. In part 2 I discussed various options for tackling spam economically, ending with the one I think would actually be acceptable and useful: attention bonds.
Now I’ll run through (and shoot down) a few of the objections commonly brought up when the possibility of involving actual cash in e-mail sending is raised.
In Part 1 I took a “from first principles” look at the spam problem, and concluded that the only way to actually solve the problem was to make people pay to send e-mail.
Now, it’s time to look at what I mean by that—because there are almost as many ways to implement “pay to send” as there are ways to implement filtering.
This is going to be a bit more technical than part 1. I’m going to assume you know basically how SMTP e-mail works. If not, there are tutorials available.
A great many words have been written on the subject of e-mail spam. Effort has been poured into all kinds of technological measures against it. In my view, many of these efforts have been a waste of time, because they have failed to address the fundamental problem of spam.
To explain my thinking, I’ll start with some basic statements:
Your attention is a valuable resource. If you doubt this, you need only look at the amount of money spent on advertising in an attempt to acquire your attention.
Therefore, your inbox is a valuable resource. Many people, perhaps most people, now check e-mail multiple times a day. In fact, according to some surveys college students spend more time on the Internet than watching TV. They check their e-mail inbox more than they look at ad breaks.
SMTP e-mail allows anyone to send mail. There’s no centralized registration required in SMTP; there’s no control over the growth of the SMTP e-mail network. While some servers restrict which SMTP clients may connect to them, there’s essentially no control over who sends mail, as it’s always possible to open a new web e-mail account, buy a new ISP dial-up account, or whatever.
SMTP e-mail is free for the sender. Sure, many people pay for their Internet access; but once you have an Internet connection, sending e-mail basically doesn’t cost you anything—it has marginal cost.
Now, let me re-cast those four statements:
We have unrestricted access for anyone in the world to use arbitrary amounts of a valuable resource.
Can you think of any case where there has been a system like that, and it has worked? I can’t. The canonical example is the tragedy of the commons, but there are plenty of others, including the Cambridge ‘Green Bike’ scheme and the overfishing of cod.
In order to avoid a “tragedy of the commons” situation, we need to alter the situation so that one of the statements above is no longer true. Let’s go through them again and consider our options.