April 15, 2006

Miscellaneous Thoughts

It's good that ICANN's GNSO has adopted a definition of the purpose of Whois that construes the purpose of the database as being merely for the limited purpose of making technical adjustments to the net.  This may redound onto NTIA (part of the US Dep't of Commerce) with regard to NTIA's obligations under the Privacy Act of 1974 (5 USC 552a) with regard to NTIA's privacy-busting regulations over the .us ccTLD.  You see, now that NTIA dictates policy for .us it's going to be rather hard for NTIA to continue to pretend that the Whois information of .us is not a system of records under the Act.  And the act does require the agency (NTIA) to conform the use of the information to the purposes for which the information is needed to fulfill an agency mission.

Way, way, way back in another era I was offered a position as an attorney in the office of the counsel to NTIA.  During that time NTIA was a strong proponent of computer and network privacy.  It is amazing how completely NTIA has flipped over the intervening years from an advocate of privacy protection into an agency that now works with considerable zeal to destroy privacy on the internet.

Changing the subject - I just drove back from Phoenix to Santa Cruz and we took the detour to see the wildflowers (especially California poppies) between Lancaster and Gorman (California highway 138, Lancaster Road).  It's a late wildflower season but it looks like its going to be a spectacular one.  Right now the patches range from a few acres to several hundred acres.  But I expect that between now and the end of April that the flowers will overshadow the scenes from Wizard of Oz.  If you are in the vicinity of LA you should consider taking a look.  I'm probably going to detour back through the area on my way to Las Vegas for Interop at the end of April.

Interop - yes, once again (as I've done nearly every year since 1987) I'll be working behind the scenes.  This year I'll be at the iLabs running network impairment systems (my Maxwell product) to evaluate and demonstrate the susceptibility of VOIP systems to various kinds of network conditions ranging from simple packet loss and jitter to actively hostile conditions.  Even with good network conditions I don't think VOIP call quality would have been acceptable unless cell phones had so badly reduced our expectations regarding voice quality and transmission delay.  And with predatory providers operating under the euphemism of "network neutrality" and with increasing levels of internet congestion at exchange points (driven by net services such as entertainment grade video), we may have VOIP users longing for the "toll grade" quality of Ma Bell's network of 1990.

That is, I hope to be in Las Vegas.  A note to myself: Next time I decide to paint a bathroom to surprise my wife I'll get somebody else to pick up and reseat the toilet.  The amount of pain that can come from a scrunched back, and the time it takes to heal, are amazing.  It's really put a crimp on my activities, particularly things like air travel.  I'm forced to walk like Quasimodo in slow motion.  Even relatively simple tasks - like standing in the kitchen while preparing a dinner for a dozen people (something I really enjoy doing) have become excursions through a world of pain that I never knew existed.

(Since other people are doing it: Music played on the box as I write this: The Duhks, Four Blue Walls; Suzanne Vega, Harbor Song.)

Posted by karl at April 15, 2006 1:37 AM