Netflix neutrality

In the net neutrality debate, a rarely mentioned aspect is the widespread practice amongst ISPs of over-subscribing bandwidth. Before streaming video became readily available and popular, this was viable, even reasonable, since few users managed to actually saturate their links for extended periods of time. Now that customers are suddenly demanding to get what they were sold, the ISPs find that they simply cannot provide this while keeping current prices. Continue reading

Church of JPEG

Some time has passed since I last wrote about the antics of the IJG, purveyor of the well-known JPEG image manipulation library. With the major Linux distributions as well as the Firefox and Chrome browsers having switched to the libjpeg-turbo fork, there has been little reason to pay attention to the IJG. Nevertheless, I decided to have a look at what they’ve been doing the last few years, and I was not disappointed. Continue reading

Trolls in trouble

Life as a patent troll is hopefully set to get more difficult. In a memo describing patent trolls as a “drain on the American economy,” the White House this week outlined a number of steps it is taking to stem this evil tide. Chiming in, the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (where patent cases are heard) in a New York Times op-ed laments the toll patent trolling is taking on the industry, and urges judges to use powers already at their disposal to make the practice less attractive. However, while certainly a step in the right direction, these measures all fail to address the more fundamental properties of the patent system allowing trolls to exist in the first place. Continue reading

Neutral net or neutered

In recent weeks, a number of high-profile events, in the UK and elsewhere, have been quickly seized upon to promote a variety of schemes for monitoring or filtering Internet access. These proposals, despite their good intentions of protecting children or fighting terrorism, pose a serious threat to fundamental liberties. Although at a glance the ideas may seem like a reasonable price to pay for the prevention of some truly hideous crimes, there is more than first meets the eye. Internet regulation in any form whatsoever is the thin end of a wedge at whose other end we find severely restricted freedom of expression of the kind usually associated with oppressive dictatorships. Where the Internet was once a novelty, it now forms an integrated part of modern society; regulating the Internet means regulating our lives. Continue reading