The Investigatory Powers Bill for architects and administrators

OK, it’s not the end of the world. But it does change things radically, should it pass third reading in its current form. There is, right now, an opportunity to effect some change to the bill in committee stage, and I urge you to read it and the excellent briefings from Liberty and the Open Rights Group and others and to write to your MP.

Anyway. What does this change in our threat models and security assessments? What aspects of security validation and testing do we need to take more seriously? I’m writing this from my perspective, which is from a small ISP systems perspective, but this contains my personal views, not that of my employer, yada yada.

Continue reading The Investigatory Powers Bill for architects and administrators

SURHUL, UCU and referendums

Apologies if you’re not a student, student of Royal Holloway, or otherwise in the mood for some politics. If you just read my blog for the geek stuff, move on.

I don’t like politics. I stay out of it when I can and when I get involved it’s because I actually think things are too important for me to just hide away. Student politics has a habit of turning nasty on a dime and I can do without the stress.

So why on earth am I bringing this mess to my humble home away from Facebook? Well, simple: I think it’s too important not to. Specifically a lot of people seem to misunderstand the issue and Facebook’s a crap place for good discussion and explanation. SURHUL tried to put up a page explaining both sides of the motion but I and several other people on both sides think it’s crap. So here’s my take on it. Continue reading SURHUL, UCU and referendums

Nebulous

A few days ago I said I’d blog about Nebula, a project myself, Makurid and others have been working on on and off for a few weeks now. So here we go:

After seeing Mynxee get some wheels in motion with CSM5, I felt a bit annoyed at my inability to contribute a lot to the workings of the CSM. At my age, I am not eligible to run for candidacy, as the drinking age is 21 in Iceland and CCP don’t want delegates they can’t take down to the pub (At least, I guess – the age of majority is 18, so it’s not a legal thing). Anyway, I decided to use my normal approach to fixing problems: There’s an app to be written for that…

So with the help of Selene from EOH Poker, we rallied a whole 3 CSM and ex-CSM people into a collaborative text editor, and wrote a spec. The tool in question was to manage proposals as they went through the CSM process – with the wiki and AH forums being identified as inadequate by both the CSM and CCP, but with no activity from CCP on providing a solution, I saw this as an opportunity to get the community involved and really push to get some CSM processes streamlined. We called it Nebula, and formed a new team of developers, with an open source codebase and instructions on how to contribute. We actively sought out new developers and tried to encourage other third party developers to get involved, and were met with mostly positive results. Team Excellence was born.

The CSM involvement we had was good. We ended up with a spec that was, as the title of this blog suggests, a little nebulous, but had most of the major concepts well sketched out and defined. We got to work.

It’s now been a fairly long time since we last had CSM contact, though those who have been trying to get involved in this (Mynxee and  Trebor to name a couple) have done so well, and continue to provide input; the main issue we have is that out of the 8 (since Ankh was removed) active CSM members and 5 reserves (or 9 and 4, depending how you look at it- either way, a total of 13 players), we’ve gotten in touch with and received input from three at most.  This is worrying for a number of reasons.

If the chairwoman of the CSM is having this much difficulty in managing to have some people meet and discuss matters for even a one-off meeting or event, then I start to wonder how well the communication works between meetings on other issues. For example; I posted a long while ago about the API in the assembly hall forum. The matter has been taken up by two CSM members, including Mynxee, and may be raised at a future meeting. I got an evemail from Dierdra Vaal a couple of weeks later, asking me if I thought anything was wrong with the API and if I’d support him raising an issue about it. This is the sort of thing that irks and worries me – if there’s no real communication between CSM members except during their meetings with CCP, then how the hell do they hope to present any sort of unified face to CCP or address issues that are concerns to the playerbase, and not individuals within the CSM? With no communication outside of those meetings, issues aren’t being discussed till it’s far too late to be discussing them, people are missing entire issues, and this all has a knock-on effect on how much the CSM actually achieves.

Frankly, I couldn’t imagine being a member of the CSM without there being a mandatory-usage CSM delegate IRC channel or some similar chat mechanism – heck, even a mailing list or forum – where the CSM can talk amongst itself, and get the ego trips out of the way before CCP gets involved. And I suspect that the fact that a lot of people on the CSM see no problem with the current state of affairs is a good indication of just where the priorities of those members lie – because it’s certainly not with the playerbase as a whole. The CSM is bigger than EVE’s petty squabbling of alliances and corporations; we’re talking about an elected council of people who can help steer the course of a company which is putting food on the table for hundreds, and innovating hugely. The CSM as an entity and as an idea does not deserve the majority of the people it has been saddled with so far.

Nebula as it stands is frozen, awaiting information from the CSM and the motivation of the developers to work on it. I know that myself and Makurid, who thus far have written the vast majority of the code, are having more and more difficulty finding the motivation to work on any EVE Online projects, let alone projects that involve such a depressing facet of EVE, and indeed force us to try and interact with it. Certainly for now, I will be stepping aside as a developer of Nebula, and reducing the amount of time I spend on my other EVE projects. Aside from anything else, as fun as it used to be, EVE apps don’t put food on the table, and wherever my career may go, developing the apps I’ve built further may not be the smartest move – there’s other projects, other opportunities. It’s just a shame that at the moment, EVE doesn’t seem to be working out for myself and other third party devs.