Posts Tagged internet

Stop SOPA Redux

Tomorrow is a world-wide day of protest against SOPA and PIPA, as they are being discussed in the United States Congress.  As I discussed last month, these bills must be stopped, or the Internet as we know it today will be no more.   To explain in technical terms, SOPA and PIPA are a Really Bad Idea.

My personal contribution will be to take down the site for my book, and replace it with a banner, courtesy of

If  you have a website and care about the future of the Internet, why not join in?  If you don’t but still want to participate, blog or microblog – tell your friends, family,  and acquaintances about this historic event.

We must stop SOPA and PIPA, and ensure that Chinese-style and Iranian-style Internet censorship does not happen in America.


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Stop SOPA!

The news coming out of Washington these days is never good, but this current techo-political issue is absolutely huge. If we don’t stop SOPA, the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act, the Internet as a place of free speech and economic innovation will be no more. While this may sound like hyperbole, I assure you it is not. Read this open letter written by many of the world’s top Internet engineers (and my colleagues at the IETF) published on the Electronic Frontier Foundation Website.

This act, if it passes, will modify the core technology of the Internet, the Domain Name System (DNS). The ability for the Internet to grow, perform well, and be free of political interference and meddling are at stake.

This bill is being pushed by Hollywood and other intellectual property holders who claim that online piracy costs billions in revenue and jobs for them. History has shown that the most successful way to stop online privacy is to make content available online at reasonable prices and terms. Remember music piracy? No longer a problem due to the current availability of online music. In fact this act would likely cost billions in lost jobs and profits for Internet startups that would never happen.

I am also a stakeholder in this debate. I hold several patents and copyrights on several books. I have used existing tools to have copyright violating content removed from websites – the current mechanisms do work and do not need replacing by draconian and sweeping approaches that have been shown to fail in (repressive) countries that have implemented them.

And finally, these changes will eliminate the engine of innovation that is the Internet. Now some will not miss this – their entrenched business models will continue. However, during this time of global economic stagnation, to kill one thing that could get us out this is ludicrous.

Stop SOPA. It is as simple as that. Contact your representative today.

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Connect with SIPconnect

Just a few days ago, the SIP Forum’s SIPconnect recommendation was published! This is an interesting milestone for something that I’ve spent most of last decade of my working life on.

SIP, or Session Initiation Protocol, is used on the Internet for making phone calls. In technical terms, it is a signaling protocol.

I was involved very early in the development of SIP. It was my introduction to the world of open Internet standards, something I believe very strongly in. Let me explain.

In the early days of computers, everything was proprietary, which in thus situation means that it was unique and different for every brand and type of computer. As hard as it is to imagine today, there wasn’t even a common standard for representing characters – a simple text document would have to be converted in order to display correctly (some examples, for those of you interested were EBCIDIC, Baudot, and ASCII – which became the standard?). The same was true for networking – each manufacturer had their own protocols and interfaces – it was virtually impossible (by design) to connect them together.

Fortunately we have come a long way since then, and the Internet, with its open standards helped a lot.  I’ve enjoyed working on open standards with the Internet Engineering Task Force or IETF for quite a few years now.

SIPconnect is a great example developed by a not-for-profit that I am proud to be involved with, the international SIP Forum. SIPconnect is a standard that helps connect a telephone network with a business phone system, known as a PBX in the business, when the connection is made over the Internet instead of old fashioned wires and leased lines. It isn’t very exciting but it solves an important problem for both service providers and businesses. In short, it does what a standard does best, and works behind the scenes to reduce costs and increase efficiency.

Here is good article by Russell Bennet entitled “Finally, a SIP Trunking Standard that Makes Sense” which gives some good background on PSTN Trunking and SIP Trunking with SIPconnect.

Unfortunately, there are lots of examples today where standards are not being followed, and single-company, proprietary systems are in use. Some of the most prominent examples relate to some of the most popular hand held and personal electronic devices used by many people (including myself!)

But standards are always evolving, and business models change – today’s successful proprietary lock in is replaced by next year’s standard. Technology is both fast moving and fast changing.

For today, I’m happy to celebrate the publication of this SIP document and remember all my friends and colleagues who have worked so hard on it over the years!

As we jokingly say as we raise our glasses, “SIP, SIP!”

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My First Foray into Fiction

I started writing Counting from Zero about a year ago on a high speed train heading out of Tokyo – sound familiar?

The book was really born much earlier.  I had previously written four technical books and enjoyed the experience greatly.  But the subject matter, Session Initiation Protocol or SIP, was extremely narrow and technical, and so not of interest to very many people.  I had been thinking for a while about writing a book for a wider audience, and I was thinking along the lines of Internet security.  Then I got the idea of trying to incorporate some useful technical information into a work of fiction.

I had written various pieces of fiction over the years, but just for my family and friends.  (There are a few Star Trek fanfic stories out there that hopefully will never find their way to the Internet!)  Instead of thinking about the plot, I first thought about the characters.  This was a lot of fun!  Once I felt like I knew Mick, Kat, Lars, Gunter, and Liz, I started getting ideas about situations I wanted to put them in, and the plot began to take shape.  I re-read some of my favorite authors such as Jane Austen, Neal Stephenson, and Mark Twain for inspiration.  At the suggestion of my best friend from high school, Steve George, I added the Security and Other Lies blog chapter interludes.  The book slowly took shape.

I wrote most of the book while traveling: on airplanes, in hotel rooms, in airports, and on trains.  I have spent time in nearly every setting of the book.

Then, I reached that place of decision: what to do with the Counting from Zero manuscript once I had a draft complete.  Next time I’ll talk about how I became an eBook publisher.

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