Archive for July, 2006

somewhere in the passing clouds…

Friday, July 28th, 2006

somewhere in the passing clouds

somewhere in the passing clouds, the face you just can’t live without

Inspired by The Lightning Seeds‘ “Touch and Go” (Album: Dizzy Heights)

Original lyrics:

Faces change but
somewhere in the passing crowd
the face you just can’t live without

A good track to lose yourself in this tiny little pic take with my crappy phone is Moby‘s Hymn.

I-names Launch Celebration

Wednesday, July 19th, 2006

Les sent me this bottle of Shiraz so I can join the I-names registry launch – remotely. After the official launch, and we verified that everything was going well, the registry team gathered at his office. I was the telephone on Les’s desk, cheering and toasting everyone for the hard work. Except I did not open the wine because it was early morning for me here in the outback. So, I took a photo of it with my new Canon 350D and kept it until now. It turned out to be very tasty. Normally I don’t dig red wines much because it’s just too “bloody”, but this one’s different. This one taste like I-names :)

Penny's Hill Red Dot Shiraz

OpenDNS – Technical Review

Wednesday, July 19th, 2006

I have serious doubts about the new OpenDNS service.

The idea is simple – point your DNS resolver to their name servers. What you get in return is faster cached results and phishing site blocking. They make money by advertising on the pages returned when you make a spelling mistake in the domain name. OpenDNS also claims to have “caches at the major intersections of the Internet” though I have not been able to get to anywhere but their California Verio site (tried tracerouting from Australia, US east coast and west coast.) So, I’m not sure if they are using anycast.

Having done some preliminary technical evaluation of the service, here are my thoughts (feel free to disprove me):

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Skype Reverse-Engineered

Friday, July 14th, 2006

VoIPWiki reports that the Skype protocol was successfully cracked by a company in China, who promised to release a demo version by end of August. This is amazing – not the news itself, but the extent to which they have gone. Several reverse-engineering reports have been issued but no one has built a working prototype until now.

This goes to show that: obfuscation is obfuscation – it will not last, not if you’re as popular as Skype.

What does this mean?

Many are predicting / recommending that the eBay company documents its protocol. I can safely say that they will not. This is only news to techies; it may make its way to NYT but people will forget. In fact, as long as it works, they will not lose any market share.

However, it would be great if the Chinese company would publish their findings so that the protocol can be enhanced by others and a more efficient, and certainly open protocol can be created to benefit users.

Think about the 3 main advantages that Skype possesses:
1. Proprietary protocol – which allows them to have tight control over the evolution of the protocol.

2. Good NAT traversal technology – this is the main point. This is critical to their success.

3. Good codec – the GIPS codecs work extremely well. This also ties back to the first point – they know what codecs their clients can support which is much better what gets negotiated in a heterogenous SIP environment.

It’s all in the app. Now, I’d like to see an open source effort is dedicated to making a product work well with the protocol design rather than wasting time trying to obfuscate it!

Proposal: IDNA Browsers Advertising Capability in User-Agent header

Wednesday, July 12th, 2006

This is a proposal to the major browser producers supporting IDNA to advertise their IDN capabilities. One way of doing it is to include a token in the User-Agent HTTP request header. According to RFC2616, the User-Agent header is used for

“statistical purposes, the tracing of protocol violations, and automated recognition of user agents for the sake of tailoring responses to avoid particular user agent limitations.”

This will serve at least 2 purposes:

1. Allows web sites to encode anchor URLs in the native page encoding or HTML entities (&#xXXXX;) for clients that advertises IDNA support. For other clients, punycode can be used for baseline compatibility.

2. Provides IDN versioning information. There have been sprouts of discussions over the next version of Nameprep profile (or even a new IDNA, maybe even a new IDN solution). This would be a good preparation for things to come, regardless of which direction the future takes us.

Below are some examples of popular browser User-Agent strings I pulled from my logs (and my proposed addition):

Firefox: *
Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:1.8.0.4) Gecko/20060508 Firefox/1.5.0.4 IDN/RFC3490

Googlebot (which I believe is IDNA compliant):
Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1;+http://www.google.com/bot.html) IDN/RFC3490

Internet Explorer 6:
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322; .NET CLR 2.0.50727) IDN/RFC3490

Opera:
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.0; Windows ME) Opera 5.11 [en] IDN/RFC3490

Safari:
Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; PPC Mac OS X; en) AppleWebKit/312.8 (KHTML, like Gecko) Safari/312.6 IDN/RFC3490

Other possibilities for advertising this capability exists, such as a custom header X-IDN-Version. The same information could possibly be exported to Javascript via the navigator.userAgent field, or some other custom Javascript API (this is more an example of what should NOT be done rather than a recommendation.)

* To achieve the result in Firefox, type this into the URL bar (in a single line):

javascript:Components.classes["@mozilla.org/preferences-service;1"].getService()
.QueryInterface(Components.interfaces.nsIPrefBranch)
.setCharPref("general.useragent.extra.idna","IDNA/RFC3490");

This should take effect immediately. Go to http://www.wannabrowser.com/ and verify that “IDNA/RFC3490” is displayed in the “HTTP User Agent” box.

What’s in an i-name?

Monday, July 10th, 2006

The project that I’ve been working for almost a year at NeuStar is very much centered around a marketing term “i-name”. Many have pretended to be interested so I shall attempt to explain it 1.

But before I go on to answer the poetic question, let me first explain what an i-name is.

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Psychic Lying Vending Machines of 2015

Monday, July 10th, 2006

James tipped me off to iDA’s iN2015 IT Masterplan. It a vision and roadmap to Singapore’s IT-laden future. In fact, it is quite realistic and very imaginable. I love iDA’s ad campaigns; don’t know about you but I find them really funny.

I think they can stretch our imagination further. Let me help them out…

The original (To see the actual thing, go to http://www.in2015.sg/experience.html and mouse over “3.00pm”) :

iDA iN2015

My version:

iDA iN2015 spoof

If you can’t read it, here’s what it said:

The TCM knowledge-empowered vending machine senses his sore throat and knows that chocolate is too heaty for him. So, it temporarily displays “Unavailble – try again tomorrow” under the Choc Chip flavour. David thought, “It’s 2015 for God’s sake! You’d think they would’ve triggered the re-order level days ago and had it replenished by now.”