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Public Service Announcement

Attention: if, by some chance, you surf the web from an institution which has such a hair up its ass that it has wildcard-blocked all URLs containing the character string "blog" (hint: USAF Cyber Command, I'm talking about you), you can still read this particular blog bog. Just point your browser at my bog instead of my blog. That's:

Got that?

As you were.

(In other news: thousands of America-hating hackers terrorists all around the world hastily insert "blog" into their domain names, to avoid the unwanted attention of the USAF Cyber Command tasked with tackling threats to national security on the high stoned cyber frontier. Blog: it's the new Stealth!)



Heh. Our local library used to block the word 'mail', because of some webmail service which crashed their machines. I discovered this when I went there to look up a postal code.


From some of the comments, it would seem that they could do with a few "Careless Talk Costs Lives" posters like this one as Windows wallpaper.


My business partner always says: "beware the idiots, because they're creative". Here you presented one more evidence for this fact.


Follow the excellent example of Randall Munroe of



What you really need is another XKCD inspiration; a URL that incorporates an exploit against the censor poxy proxy, in the same way little Bobby ;DROP TABLES students' name incorporates an SQL injection attack.


The security-poster industry, at least in the darker grey parts of the intelligence-industrial complex, never went away; I suspect the National Cryptologic Museum shop at Fort Meade (open to the public, free admission 0900-1600 Mon-Fri, not all that far from your DoD talk) will sell you some examples, though the more impressive ones I saw were at the shop near the employee's canteen, which is somewhat not open to the public.

Entertainingly, whilst the posters have been updated with cyber-security advice, the style of art has remained remarkably similar since 1942.


Working in Government in Australia (a job I accepted even after I'd read The Atrocity Archives - what was I thinking?) and fortunately there's no real restriction on blogs. Porn, gambling and whatever the filters decide is 'inappropriate content', yes. And BoingBoing, for some reason. But the thing that really grates is the block on Facebook, MySpace &c. I can understand blocking access to the samn things - but it's set up in such a way that a page which even mentions MySpace et all is blocked ...


Funny thing. I have noticed that any project using the word "Cyber" is doomed to failure. It's a code word for receiving funding without useful and measurable benefits: Cyber-war, cyber-terrorism, cyber-tracking, cyber-insertion, etc. The equivalent projects that produce results use different wording: information warfare, technological terrorism, tactical intrusion, etc.


I for one look forward to spending time contemplating Charlie's bog.


Charles @7: that's because the prefix "Cyber-" is a sign of complete cluelessness about technology combined with a willingness to push any appropriate button that will cause the public trough to disgorge the folding stuff. Because the folks with their hands on the purse strings don't usually have more than a tenuous grasp on the technical issues, either.


"Cyber-"; a memetic virus, delivered by an injection attack on bureaucracy itself. Others: "terrorism", "security"...


While we're on the subject of Public Service Announcements, would it be terribly rude to point out this bit of news that broke while you were out of the country?

Three of the UK's larger ISPs -- including BT, Virgin Media and Carphone Warehouse AKA Talk Talk -- announced plans to send customers' entire clickstreams to a marketing company with connections to rootkit-ing spyware. This would include not just visited URLs, but also page content (such as all your email, should you use webmail).

The Register has more details here:

I have a lengthy letter/rant I'll be sending to my MP, amongst other interested officials. I can pass it on if people are interested.


I'm after it, too: who needs remote control?

I've already altered my etc/hosts/, filed a grievance with the Information Commissioner, and decided which ISP to churn to. I may yet issue a complaint under the Data Protection Act.


It's things like this that long ago caused me to substitute the phrase "idiot proofing" to "idiot training" whenever coding specifically to robustify my software apps. Like TB, idiocy develops immunity anti-idiocy measures over time. I've resigned myself to training better idiots. Call it "Sense Resistance Meme Evolution".


Blogspot is basically a spam hole. I'm considering blocking it myself. If users really absolutely positively MUST MUST MUST read blogs on the company dime, they can damn well ask me for access.

Of course, then SOMEONE WOULD KNOW WHAT THEY WERE DOING. As though I didn't already...


Alex@12 - That's not enough. You also need to use DNS servers not under ISP control to escape Phorm's data gathering. Preferable encrypted DNS. I'm on a BT connection here and can't change (shared house) so I'm currently reading up on how to make the BT hub use encrypted DNS...


I've already done that...g


Hmm. I run a DNS server on my colo box -- I guess I'll just point the household boxen at it (and then see about telling it to blacklist phorm).


This is off topic, but considering the RPG nature of Halting State and the blog post Gary Gygax, World Dictator? thought you should know that sadly it's been reported Mr. Ernst Gary Gygax has passed away after a long bout with bad health.


Would it be possible to have something like a proxy server which used https?

Phorm say thay can't get marketing data from httos transactions, but I've seen reports that few site properly handle errors when setting up an https connection, and will set up a non-encrypted connection rather than report an error.


Hey Charlie... too bad you can't use this "blog URL blocked" thing as an excuse to avoid this scrap over at Rudy Rucker's blog... he just called you a fundamentally spurious, computronium-snorting ascete. What are you going to do about it?

Actually I'm paraphrasing. What he really called you was "one of my favorite writers". But he does have a problem with computronium (actually, as a computational biologist, so do I... the length scales quoted in Accelerando are WAAAY too large to simulate a brain cell. Neurons are regulated by big puffs of nitrous oxide that swirl throughout the brain... cells themselves are tiny ecosystems... hard AI proselytizers really need to examine their hatred of moist wet flesh... having said all that, I loved Accelerando, thanks!)



Talking of blocking - I've just sent you another "halting State" e-mail, and it's been blocked as "spam" (It says) ...

What wnet worng? Was it 'cause there was an URL in the body-text?

Or something else?


G. Tingey @21: gets 25-35,000 emails a day, of which less than 1% are non-spam, so the spam filtering is truly vicious. (Try the mail feedback form?)(


Didn't fancy having a /bog-standard/ blog then?



Just did that, and it bounced that as well, claiming I'm using a "Spamming Tool".

Uh? All I wanted to do was comment on a couple of Edinburgh pubs, and forward a URL .....

SUGGESTION: Use a (supposedly) SPAM-proof mailing box - one where you either have to resend, by hitting more than one button and/or using one of the "recognition" password-boxes (I don't know what they are actually called) where a semi-random alphameric is generated, and the sneder has to manually copy that to the appropriate box before he/she/it/they can send.

I notice that Feorag at PaganPrattle uses a repeat-system.



The mail feedback tool is now whitelisted ...


So you have created the Bog of Eternal Stross. Jim Henson would be proud.


Charles Merriam @ 7: Funny thing. I have noticed that any project using the word "Cyber" is doomed to failure.

Quite right. Just ask Tobias Vaughn and John Lumic.


Charlie @ 25 .. I've just retried, and it STILL bounces my message. I even tried removing the "front" of the URL included in the message, and it still didn't like it. I realise that this meassge is just semi-relevant chit-chat, but it is annoying. And probably to you as well, with repeated groans from me surfacing.

Any suggestions? You can see my home e-mail address, so would an almost-blank query from you get bounced if I used it to reply?


On the sub-topic of Phorm: I asked my ISP, the Phone Co-op, and they say they won't sign up to that. But it appears they get their bandwidth from BT Wholesale: that won't be affected, I hope?


Not sure about BT Wholesale. Anyone got any input ...?


Probably not. The eldritch tentacled horror from beyond time is installed behind BT Retail's billing system, so BT Wholesale should be unaffected.


no armour class for obama ?


@6 (Guise): Boing-Boing is blocked because it's gadget-P0rn ;) DUH!



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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on March 1, 2008 9:16 PM.

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