Today I emailed Julie Collins MP, and senators Catryna Bilyk, Carol Brown, Jacqui Lambie, Helen Polley, Lisa Singh and Anne Urquhart concerning data retention. For the record, and in case it helps anyone else who wants to contact their representatives and senators, here’s what I wrote:
I am writing regarding the Telecommunications (Interception and Access)
Amendment (Data Retention) Bill 2014. As I am sure you are very busy,
I will be as brief as I can.
The distinction the bill makes between metadata (so-called “non-content
data”) and content is grossly misleading; once you have enough of it,
metadata is just as privacy invasive, if not more so, than the actual
content of communications, and as such should only be collected with
proper judicial oversight, i.e. after a warrant is obtained.
Retaining this data for the entire Australian population is mass
surveillance, nothing more, nothing less, and is completely
inappropriate in a modern democratic society.
Tinkering around the edges as Labor is suggesting with amendments to
protect journalists’ sources is misguided at best; the only way to
protect such sources effectively would be to not retain the sources’
data either, and given that you can’t know who they are, the only way
to achieve this would be to not retain anyone’s data at all.
Finally, mandatory data retention won’t help to catch any criminal with
even a shred of intelligence, as it can be trivially circumvented by
the use of overseas communications providers, virtual private networks
and the like.
In summary, I am completely opposed to mandatory data retention in
Australia. As my representative, I’m asking you to reject this bill.
I saw this on Twitter today:
I’m going to leave aside the possibility that this is a plot by someone else to ruin Justin D’Agostino’s life by forging an email to Kelly Ellis, as I’ve seen similar sentiments posted too many times (i.e. more than never), and I’m fucking sick of it.
Assuming for a moment that the egg-donor hypothesis is correct, if you are insufficiently evolved to control your urges (or if you share any of the opinions stated in the email above), then you are insufficiently evolved to warrant employment. Please leave and make room for someone else.
At linux.conf.au the other week, a friend asked if I’d ever considered a career writing a web comic. I forget exactly how it came up, but it might have had something to do with the STONTIH Deathmatch t-shirt I was wearing at the time, or may have been due to someone mentioning the talk Florian Haas and I gave at LCA 2011 with the live cartooning.
Anyway, the answer was “no, not really”, largely because I sincerely enjoy my gig at SUSE (we’re hiring ATM, BTW), but also partly because I honestly don’t come up with enough interesting stuff often enough, and consider it unlikely I’ll ever make a living off it. Still, I have put a handful of bits and pieces up on Redbubble over the last few years, so I thought I’d engage in a bit of narcissism and promote it shamelessly and obviously. In chronological order then, from oldest to newest, I have produced:
As I mentioned on Twitter last week, I’m very happy SUSE was able to support linux.conf.au 2015 with a keynote giveaway on Wednesday morning and sponsorship of the post-conference Beer O’Clock at Catalyst:
For those who were in attendance, I thought a little explanation of the keynote gift (a Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 8″) might be in order, especially given the winner came up to me during the post-conference drinks and asked “what’s up with the tablet?”
To put this in perspective, I’m in engineering at SUSE (I’ve spent a lot of time working on high availability, distributed storage and cloud software), and while it’s fair to say I represent the company in some sense simply by existing, I do not (and cannot) actually speak on behalf of my employer. Nevertheless, it fell to me to purchase a gift for us to provide to one lucky delegate sensible enough to arrive on time for Wednesday’s keynote.
I like to think we have a distinct engineering culture at SUSE. In particular, we run a hackweek once or twice a year where everyone has a full week to work on something entirely of their own choosing, provided it’s related to Free and Open Source Software. In that spirit (and given that we don’t make hardware ourselves) I thought it would be nice to be able to donate an Android tablet which the winner would either be able to hack on directly, or would be able to use in the course of hacking something else. So I’m not aware of any particular relationship between my employer and that tablet, but as it says on the back of the hackweek t-shirt I was wearing at the time:
Some things have to be done just because they are possible.
Not because they make sense.
A few days ago I told Andrew Wafaa I’d write up some notes for him and publish them here. I became hungry contemplating this work, so decided cooking was the first order of business:
It turned out reasonably well for a first attempt. Could’ve been crispier, and it was quite salty, but the pepper and chilli definitely worked (I’m pretty sure the chilli was dried bhut jolokia I harvested last summer). But this isn’t a post about food, it’s about some software I’ve packaged for managing Ceph clusters on openSUSE and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.
For Hackweek 11 I thought it’d be fun to learn something about creating Android apps. The basic training is pretty straightforward, and the auto-completion (and auto-just-about-everything-else) in Android Studio is excellent. So having created a “hello world” app, and having learned something about activities and application lifecycle, I figured it was time to create something else. Something fun, but something I could reasonably complete in a few days. Given that Android devices are essentially just high res handheld screens with a bit of phone hardware tacked on, it seemed a crime not to write an app that draws something pretty. Continue reading
Since the Senate passed legislation expanding your surveillance powers on Thursday night, you’ve copped an awful lot of flack on Twitter. Part of the problem, I think – aside from the legislation being far too broad – is that we don’t actually know who you are, or what exactly it is you get up to. You could be part of a spy novel, a movie or a decades-long series of cock ups. You could be script kiddies with a budget. Or you could be something else entirely.
At times like this I try to remind myself to assume good faith; to remember that most people are basically decent and are trying to live a good life. Some people are even trying to make the world a better place, whatever that might mean.
For those of you then who are decent people, and who are trying to keep Australia safe from whatever mysterious threats are out there that we don’t know about – all without wishing to impinge on or risk destroying the freedoms that we enjoy here – you have my thanks.
For those of you involved in the formulation of The National Security Legislation Amendment Bill 2014 (No 1) – you who might be reading this post as I type it, rather than after I publish it – I have tried very, very hard to imagine that you honestly believe you are making the world a better place. And maybe you do actually think that, but for my part I cannot see the powers granted as anything other than a direct assault on our democracy. As Glenn Greenwald pointed out, I should be more worried about bathroom accidents, restaurant meals and lightning strikes than terrorism. As a careful bath user with a strong stomach and a sturdy house to hide in, I think I’m fairly safe on that front. Frankly I’m more worried about climate change. Do you have anyone on staff who can investigate that threat to our national security?
Anyway, thanks for reading, and I’ll take it as a kindness if you don’t edit this post without asking first.
The Australian government often engages in public consultation on a variety of matters. This is a good thing, because it provides an opportunity for us to participate in our governance. One such recent consultation was from the Attorney-General’s Department on Online Copyright Infringement. I quote:
On 30 July 2014, the Attorney-General, Senator the Hon George Brandis, and the Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull MP released a discussion paper on online copyright infringement.
Submissions were sought from interested organisations and individuals on the questions outlined in the discussion paper and on other possible approaches to address this issue.
Submissions were accepted via email, and there was even a handy online form where you could just punch in your answers to the questions provided. The original statement on publishing submissions read:
Submissions received may be made public on this website unless otherwise specified. Submitters should indicate whether any part of the content should not be disclosed to the public. Where confidentiality is requested, submitters are encouraged to provide a public version that can be made available.
This has since been changed to:
Submissions received from peak industry groups, companies, academics and non-government organisations that have not requested confidentiality are being progressively published on the Online copyright infringement—submissions page.
As someone who in a fit of inspiration late one night (well, a fit of some sort, but I’ll call it inspiration), put in an individual submission I am deeply disappointed that submissions from individuals are apparently not being published. Geordie Guy has since put in a Freedom of Information request for all individual submissions, but honestly the AGD should be publishing these. It was after all a public consultation.
For the record then, here’s my submission:
Last Thursday night was the TasLUG OpenStack 4th Birthday meetup. We had some nice nibbly food, some drinks, and four OpenStacky talks:
- An update from the OpenStack Foundation (presented by me, with slides provided by the Foundation).
- A talk about the NeCTAR cloud and using the command line tools to work with images, by Scott Bragg.
- A talk on spinning up instances with Nova and Heat, by Stewart Wilde.
- A talk by me on Ceph, and how it can be used as the storage backend for an OpenStack cloud.
We also had some posters, stickers and fridge magnets made up. The fridge magnets were remarkably popular. If you weren’t at TasLUG last night, and you want a fridge magnet, first download this image (the full-res one linked to, not the inline one):
Then, go to Vistaprint and place an order for Magnetic Business Cards, using this image. You can get 25 done for about $10, plus shipping.
Finally, I would like to publicly thank the OpenStack Foundation for supporting this event.