Tag Archives: darknet

Built in Filter and Algorthm failure

I enjoyed Jon Udell’s thoughts on Filter Failure.

The problem isn’t information overload, Clay Shirky famously said, it’s filter failure. Lately, though, I’m more worried about filter success. Increasingly my filters are being defined for me by systems that watch my behavior and suggest More Like This. More things to read, people to follow, songs to hear. These filters do a great job of hiding things that are dissimilar and surprising. But that’s the very definition of information! Formally it’s the one thing that’s not like the others, the one that surprises you.

One of the questions people have when they think about Perceptive Media is the Filter bubble.

filter bubble is a result state in which a website algorithm selectively guesses what information a user would like to see based on information about the user (such as location, past click behaviour and search history) and, as a result, users become separated from information that disagrees with their viewpoints, effectively isolating them in their own cultural or ideological bubbles. Prime examples are Google‘s personalised search results and Facebook‘s personalised news stream. The term was coined by internet activist Eli Pariser in his book by the same name; according to Pariser, users get less exposure to conflicting viewpoints and are isolated intellectually in their own informational bubble.

The filter bubble is still being heavily debated to if its real or not but the idea of filters which get things wrong to add a level of serendipity sounds good. But I do wonder if people will be happy with a level of fuzziness in the algorithms they become dependable on?

I’m always on the lookout for ways to defeat the filters and see things through lenses other than my own. On Facebook, for example, I stay connected to people with whom I profoundly disagree. As a tourist of other people’s echo chambers I gain perspective on my native echo chamber. Facebook doesn’t discourage this tourism, but it doesn’t actively encourage it either.

The way Jon Udell is defeating the filters, he retains some kind of control. Its a nice way to get a balance, but as someone who only follows 200ish people on Twitter and don’t look at Facebook much, I actively like to remove the noise from my bubble.

As I think back on the evolution of social media I recall a few moments when my filters did “fail” in ways that delivered the kinds of surprises I value. Napster was the first. When you found a tune on Napster you could also explore the library of the person who shared that tune. That person had no idea who I was or what I’d like. By way of a tune we randomly shared in common I found many delightful surprises. I don’t have that experience on Pandora today.

Likewise the early blogosophere. I built my echo chamber there by following people whose lenses on the world complemented mine. For us the common thread was Net tech. But anything could and did appear in the feeds we shared directly with one another. Again there were many delightful surprises.

Oh yes I remember spending hours in Easy Everything internet cafes after work or going out checking out users library’s, not really recognizing the name and listening to see if I liked it. Jon may not admit it but I found the dark net provides some very interesting parallels with this. Looking through what else someone shared can be a real delight when you strike upon something unheard of.

And likewise the blogosphere can lead you down some interesting paths. Take my blog for example, some people read it because of my interest in Technology, but the next post may be something to do with dating or life experience.

I do want some filter failure but I want to be in control of when really… And I think thats the point Jon is getting at…

want my filters to fail, and I want dials that control the degrees and kinds of failures.

Where that statement leaves the concept of pure Perceptive Media, who knows…? But its certainly something I’ve been considering for a long while.

Reminds me of that old saying… Its not a bug, its a feature

UK Pirates Are Big Box Office Spenders

Been a bit of noise about the UK darknet from a survey OFCOM did recently, a lot of the findings Musicmatch already highlighted in their study previously…

Pirates Are Big Box Office Spenders

the comprehensive study suggests that many pirates spend as much as 300 per cent more on media than a person that doesn’t download.

The information was retrieved as part of a survey of just under 4,500 internet users, aged 12 and older. In conclusion, the researchers found that of the 16 per cent that said they downloaded, the majority were termed, “hybrids,” because they also paid for movies, music, concerts and such like. Ultimately it was found that these hybrids, could spend much, much more than those that didn’t pirate at all. In a three month test period, 100 per cent legal movie fans spend around £35. Comparatively, the hybrid pirates – which are sounding more and more like something out of Davy Jones fish-head crew – spent almost £60 in the same period.

Torrent Freak goes into much more detail, even the RIAA agrees with some of the higher level results.

What I want to know is, will this change the TV ecosystem in anyway? I unfortunately don’t think so…

Another head in the sand moment…?

The History of File-Sharing

Anonymous DDC_1660_1

The Darknet is something I deep into for research purposes and to get an idea of whats emerging… However I keep having to defend the innovation, expertise and pure genius of the darknet. I use darknet in lei of a better word to describe the underground world of hackers. Crazy because theres so many examples out there.

Torrentfreak recently did a history of file-sharing which has plenty of examples of hackers and developers scratching there own itches.

BitTorrent has catapulted into a mainstream filesharing mechanism which is fast, efficient, and difficult to stop. Early versions of BitTorrent required centralized trackers to operate, but have later become able to utilize trackerless “torrents.” Increasingly BitTorrent users have grown concerned with their privacy. Indexes such as YouHaveDownloaded.com have been able to maintain logs of every file downloaded by IP, which has raised significant awareness to whether it is safe to download files through BitTorrent. In addition, many ISPs have been known to cap speeds when detecting BitTorrent downloads. As a result of these privacy concerns millions of BitTorrent users have signed up with Anonymous VPN services to mask their IP-addresses when downloading…

Welcoming the App Bazaar

App Store

I know theres tons of blogs and views beating up Android for its different device capabilities and how un-developer friendly it is (sure I blogged about this before?) but I’m calling ball on it all. Ok I’m not a developer but frankly opportunistic developers/people are seeing the beyond this whole fragmentation debate and thinking theres lots we can do here.

Being a free and open kind of guy, I draw lines between Apple/Microsoft’s app stores and Cathedral, Android/The Web and the Bazaar/Market. Yes I went thereEric S Raymond on your ass (not literally of course)

Amazon just recently celebrated their first birthday of their own app store, which you can install alongside Google’s market I mean play store (I can’t be the only one who thinks this sounds like a Durex thing?). There were reports that the Amazon store was actually making the developers using it more revenue than Google’s play store. This can be seen as a good and a bad thing, but for me the choice is a good thing. Google set out give people the choice in a over protected market and they have achieved some great things, including opening the door for other companies to make a tidy business.

A long time ago I gave a thumbs up to Boxee for doing something similar. This is old hat for GNU/Linux for example which has had the ability to add repositories from anywhere you trust (or don’t trust, even!). For example I’m a fan of OMGUbuntu and Webupd8, both which run their own repositories or if you prefer app stores as such.

I haven’t even began to play with some of the repos in XBMC yet, but I remember seeing quite a few for Boxee which were all aimed at providing p0rn and nothing else. And to be fair its a business model which I could imagine would work very well. Certainly something Google and Amazon may not want in their own stores, but theres certainly enough demand to warrant its own ecosystem (like it or not). The same is very true of the darknet stores such as the jailbroken Cydia store.

Media ahead of the curve: Welcometothescene

Welcome to the scene series 2 ep 19

Does anyone remember welcometothescene by Jun Group?

I wrote about it a while back here and here.

For me this was way too early for a lot of reasons but in a world where hackers are dominating the headlines and endless war against piracy this series could actually work very well now. The style is also being duplicated by the likes of some recorded google hangouts I’ve seen recently.

The drama slowly unfolds and although I’ve not seen series 2, I expect the risky move to do very slow drama has been reconsidered. It wasn’t gripping but intriguing enough…

The method of distribution at the time was very radical, creative commons licensed and freely shared on bit torrent (and even e-donkey, geez do you remember that?). Even created in sharing friendly formats like Divx, Xvid, etc… Although quite a obvious move now… back in the day this was pretty amazing and people lapped it up as soon as they could get there hands on it.

Yes Welcome to the scene deserves a place in my ahead of the curve series.

The hierarchy of darknet video encoding

Some people make the grave mistake of thinking the darknet is full of kiddies messing with stuff to defeat drm and commit mass copyright.

They are so wrong and what they fail to understand is some of the smartest people are working together.

If you need any proof of this, see the recent changes in Standard Definition x264 release standards… Frankly the darknet puts the standard process of the likes of Ultra Violet to shame…

The whole NFO file is here.

-ªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªª¼
- -
- The SD x264 TV Releasing Standards 2012 -
LªªªªªªªTTªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªTTªªªªªªª-
-ªªªªªªª++ªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªTªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªTªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªª++ªªªªªªª¼
- Lªªª[ INTRO ]ªªª- -
- -
- x264 has become the most advanced video codec over the past few years. -
- Compared to XviD, it is able to provide higher quality and compression at -
- greater SD resolutions. It also allows better control and transparency over -
- encoding settings. With CRF in the mix, we can also ensure that a diverse -
- array of material will get the most appropriate bitrate for them and not -
- arbitrary and fixed sizes. This standard aims to bring quality control back -
- to SD releases. There are many standalone players/streamers such as TviX, -
- Popcorn Hour, WDTV HD Media Player, Boxee, Xtreamer, PS3, XBOX 360, iPad, & -
- HDTVs that can playback H264 and AAC encapsulated in MP4. -
- -
- The SD x264 TV section was formed to separate releases from the ruleless -
- world of TV-XviD. This document will cover the rules and guidelines for -
- only SD resolution x264 television rips. -
- -
LªªªªªªªTTªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªTTªªªªªªª-
-ªªªªªªª++ªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªTªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªTªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªª++ªªªªªªª¼

I would go as far to as to say some of the best video encoders and there results are in the darknet including the likes of Yify, Froggie100, etc. Of course I’m not condoning what they do but its amazing they are able to squeeze a HD video down to a 700meg CD.

Question: How do you do it? Making movies so small, yet such good quality?

Answer: Magic hehe. But in all seriousness I use a combination of software and settings that I have found to work best. For beginner encoders I recommend Handbrake and Format Factory, very powerful tools that do a really good job.

A future without DRM

Bittorrent

I wasn't sure if I should title this post with a ! or ? So I decided to leave it for now. Anyway with DRM getting worst than ever according to BoingBoing, I found this post about Bittorrent's future without DRM a breeze of air. If you don't know, Bittorrent made a deal with a few movie studios to distribute there content across the bit torrent network. Then everyone shouted fowl because its content included Windows DRM. Well Bittorrent Inc have come out and said they see DRM as a current solution but they expect Add supported content will eventually win over.

The reason its bad for content providers is because typically a DRM ties a user to one hardware platform, so if I buy my all my music on iTunes, I cant take that content to another hardware environment or another operating platform. There are a certain number of consumers who will be turned off by that, especially people who fear that they may invest in a lot of purchases on one platform today and be frustrated later when they try to switch to another platform, and be turned off with the whole experience. Or some users might not invest in any new content today because theyre not sure if they want to have an iPod for the rest of their life.

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VPN tunnel your way to safe ground with Hamachi

Hamachi on windows

What is Hamachi?

Hamachi is a UDP-based virtual private networking system. Its peers utilize the help of a 3rd node called mediation server to locate each other and to boot strap the connection between themselves. The connection itself is direct and once it's established no traffic flows through our servers.

Hamachi is not just truly peer-to-peer, it is verifiably secure peer-to-peer.

Believe it or not, but we are able to successfully mediate p2p connections in roughly 97% of all cases we dealt with so far (few tens of thousands as of early March). This includes peers sitting behind different firewalls and/or broadband routers (aka NAT devices).

Oh my goodness, if you have not tried out Hamachi and want access to your home network from elsewhere. You need to try it out! I heard it about it ages ago but dismissed it because I didnt really see the need. Well that was before I learned about how insecure Wifi can be. So during hearing this week's Security Now podcast

I spent a hour checking out Hamachi. At the moment it runs on Windows and Linux but after verison 1.0 (there currently 0.99) it will be developed for the Mac too. I dont see why you cant run the Linux version on a Mac command line but I'm sure there is a reason. So anyhow once you got it installed you can follow the Wizard which is a little too simple but good for those not deeply into networking, its easy to escape at anytime.
Once your setup its just a matter of making a new network or joining another one. You can easily make one and the the security is then all hanged off your stupidly impossible to crack password. GRC recommends some 63 character password string which can be generated here at the High security password generator. I actually went for a stupid 96 ASCII character password with all types of characters. I'll switch it down to 63 because Hamachi uses a 256bit AES crypto for authentication. After setting the password and name of the network you can go to another machine and do the same but this time hit join and enter the same details.

Before you know it your on a new type of network. Actually a 5.x.x.x IP address. I didnt even know you could actually have one of those for a network, I always thought 10.x.x.x was the lowest things went. Ok so once you got two machines on the same p2p network your away. I was able to tunnel out of my work network and on my own computer at home and launch VNC and access the net and machines attached to the same physical network. Everything is accessable and the speed is amazing. Oh yeah by the way, I only had to open one port on Smoothwall for it to work, most firewalls and NAT environments can be traversed without opening ports and port forwarding according to the Hamachi creators. I did nothing to the work network, like Skype it just worked. Crazy but true. I also tried using Hamachi with some of the sniffing tools out there and glad to say it works perfectly. All traffic is secured and even insecure connections like POP3 retrivial can not be discovered as it all looks like normal web traffic. Honestly I cant wait for version 1.0 of Hamachi. Its solved so many of my problems its untrue.

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