Technology updates

Blogicon’s new home will be, and the new caretaker is Jason DeFillippo.

Note that the move is still in process – check later today or tomorrow to see if it’s complete. When the move is finished, I’ll redirect Blogicon requests to the new home, but you’ll want to change your links.

Also, I have updated my LINK tag to meet the newest change. Note to aggregation folks – can you change your beasties to poll less frequently? I post throughout the day, but not every five minutes.

Constant hits by XML aggregators, tired am I to quote Yoda.



Chris Locke posted a powerful piece of erotica to his weblog on Sunday. As a fair warning: if explicit sexuality offends you, don’t click the link.

It’s interesting, but weblog links to the Daniel Pearl decapitation video dotted Daypop 40 when it first appeared, RSS absolutely dominated Daypop and Blogdex this weekend, but post a note containing sex and the silence is deafening.


(UpdateChris’ permalinks are all screwed up. Pun not intended.)

Just Shelley Travel

See you in St. Louis

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it’s off to pack I go.
No time for sleep
I’ve a schedule to keep
And movers to hold if I’m slow.

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it’s off to photo I go.
No time for sleep
I’ve a schedule to keep
And pictures to capture the flow.

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it’s off to write I go.
No time for sleep
I’ve a schedule to keep
And books to show what I know.

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it’s off to drive I go.
No time for sleep
I’ve a schedule to keep
And places to see before snow.

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it’s off the weblog I go.
No time for sleep
I’ve a schedule to keep
And I’m outta here, gotta blow.



My whole life has been, in some ways, a journey into understanding belief, particularly as it is defined within religion. Perhaps in spite of how it is defined in religion.

When I was young I lived in a small town and in my earliest years attended a small church of the Pentecostal faith — tent meetings, laying on hands, speaking in tongues, the whole thing. However, my mother felt I should explore other religions so I attended Lutheran and Methodist and Catholic churches with my friends, particularly liking the latter because I could wear cool hats and scarves (forgive me, I was young). However, until I moved away from the small town, I stayed with the “bible thumpers”.

(And the members of this church were exemplary examples of their faith — once I left twin kittens with one member to care for while I was away. She left them outdoors during a cold snap and they froze to death. When, at the tender age of 12, I displayed grief and anger at their loss, she stated that after all, “…they were only cats.” And when the minister of the church who basically built the church with his own hands admitted to making a mistake and having an affair and asked for forgiveness, his flock had him disbarred from his church and literally drove him out of town.)

When I moved to Seattle, my quest for “belief” in the nature of religion continued, except I started to follow more esoteric paths.

I tried out Yogi, primarily because I was such a Beatle’s fan. I stayed in Salt Lake City for a few months and learned about the Mormon faith. I also sat quietly by the side of a close friend as she rediscovered her Jewish roots, and watched, enviously, as she gained such inner strength from her newly refound faith. How incredibly ironic that she fell in love and had a child with an Iranian. Perhaps he and she found a common thread in their mutual beliefs. Or perhaps they just fell in love.

I tried out the gentle beliefs of the Wicca as well as the way of Peyote with Carlos Castanada.

My most interesting path followed was my tenure in the infamous Children of God, known today as the Family.

It’s difficult to have freedom of belief when your every move is watched, your every utterance listened to, and carefully corrected. A senior member would be with me always, including when I went to the bathroom. I was literally never alone.

Once I wrote a question about what I was hearing in my lessons in my Bible, only to have the head of this particular group sit beside me, open my bible, and proceed to tell me that the Devil always seeks to make us question our faith. Considering that I was in my teens, impressionable, and at the time in love with this particular person, I was profoundly impacted. My belief was firmly molded.

The only thing that saved me from the cult was one day when I was called into the main office to take a phone call. I looked around the room as I was speaking (with my father, who was not happy with my decision), and saw the loot “donated” by the members of the flock, piled so high it reached the ceiling at one point.

Didn’t Jesus throw the moneychangers from the Temple?

Once a crack appears in a belief, unless the belief is founded on solid ground, it crumbles quickly.

Do I believe there is a God? There is a soul? That we are on earth for a purpose?

I believe in all religions, and I believe in none of them. I believe we have a soul, and I also believe that what we are is what we have today and nothing else exists. I believe in all of these things, contrarian as they are, because I have the ability to believe and the freedom within me to practice my belief as I prefer…

…in the privacy of my own mind, body, and whatever I hold to be “spirit”.


Next Generation P2P?

John Robb at Userland has defined a set of constraints for what he considers to be next generation of P2P. I appreciate that he’s put Userland architecture interests online — it generates conversation. However, I am concerned about the interpretation of “P2P”, for what is, essentially a lightweight server system.

Requirement one: The ability for individual users to create subnets where authorization is required before use is enabled.

It’s interesing that people talk about sub-nets and authorization. For true P2P security, the same rules of trust and security must be established with all peers, sub-net participants or not. Rather than create new authentication and security for each individual sub-net, the same security mechanisms and trust definitions must apply to all P2P nodes. Otherwise, any one P2P node that’s on a wire that has physical access to the secure sub-net is a point of vulnerability. And I guarantee that there will be one node that’s connected to the Internet, making all nodes insecure.

However, applying security measures across all possible P2P nodes is going to be a burden on a system — security takes bandwidth. And that’s not the biggest issue — security within P2P nodes implies control. Most forms of authentication and authorization are based on these functions being provided by a central server.

As we’ve seen recently with Morpheus, central points of entry make a P2P system vulnerable.

If this issue is straight user signon and authorization to access of services, then you’re not talking about P2P — you’re talking about a more traditional server/client application. A true P2P system must have a way for each peer to establish a secure connection and determine identity and accessibility without reliance on any specific server.

Yeah. “Gack” is right.

Requirement two: The ability to publish structured content such as a complete web site or web app to a multi-million person network without flooding the publisher’s PC.

I know where this one is going, and I’m sorry, but this is based on a flawed vision: pushing content out to an individual client rather than having the client connect to a centralized source. In addition, this isn’t really a requirement for P2P, but a specific application’s functional need. It’s important to keep the two separate as we discuss the requirement in more detail.

At it’s simplest, published content is nothing more than files, and any P2P file system will work, including Freenet and Gnutella. But in reality, with published content we’re talking about structure as well as files. In addition, the published content also implies an ability to access and re-access the same publication source again and again in order to get fresh content.

Traditional P2P file transfer systems are based on the concept that you’re after a specific resource, a single item — you don’t care where you get it. For published content, the source is a key factor in the peer connection.

As for the issues of scalability, again, traditional P2P networks don’t have an answer that will work in for this requirement because of that single port of content. This would be equivalent to a Gnutella network and only one node on that network has Michael Jackson’s Thriller. As relieved as we are about this, this does put some serious limitations on a P2P-based resource system.

However, once we get beyond the stretch to the P2P paradigm this requirement necessitates, the same concepts of store and forward of Freenet could work for this requirement, except that you’re not talking about intermediate nodes storing an MP3 file — you’re talking about the possibility of massive amounts of information being dumped on each individual intermediate node.

The only way for this to work would be to stripe the material and distribute the content on several nodes, basically creating a multi-dimensional store and forward. Ugh. Now, what was the problem with the web?

Requirement three: The ability to connect subscribed users in a given subnet to each other via Web Services in order to enable a new class of applications that share information (but don’t utilize centralized resources).

The whole principle behind P2P is connecting peers to each other. However, maintaining a true connection in order to successfully conduct a transaction, that’s the key. I once wrote the following functionality for a P2P transaction:

Transaction reliability — the old two-phase commit of database technology appears again, but this time in a more challenging guise.

Transaction auditing — a variation of the two-phase commit, except that auditing is, in some ways, more fo the business aspect of the technology.

Transaction security — we need to ensure that no one can snoop at the transaction contents, or otherwise violate the transaction playing field.

Transaction trust — not the same thing as security. Transaction trust means that we have to ensure that the P2P service we’re accessing is the correct one, the valid one, and that the service met some business trust criteria (outside of the technology realm with the latter).

Service or Peer discovery — still probably one of the more complicated issues about P2P. How do we find services? How do we find P2P circles? How do market our services?

Peer rediscovery — this is where the iron hits the cloud in all P2P applications I know of. You start a communication with another peer, but that peer goes offline. How do you take up the conversation again without the use of some centralized resource? Same could also be applied to services.

Bi-directional communication — This is a reference to HTTP’s asymmetric nature. Peers share communication; otherwise you’re only talking about the traditional web services model.

Interesting challenge. As far as I know, at no one has met it yet…at least nothing that can handle complex data with a single point of origin.

Outside of the listed requirements, John discusses that the next generation P2P systems needs some form of development environment. He states, “Notice, that in this system, the P2P transport is important but generic — it is just a pipe.” He also says “… this system it doesn’t have to be completely decentralized to avoid legal action.”

Last time I looked, decentralization was the basis of P2P. And can we all forget the damn copyright issues for once and focus on what P2P was meant to be: total enablement of each node within the Internet?

John, you have specified requirements of which some, but not all, can be met by P2P-based functionality. Let me emphasize that “some but not all” response again.

You’re really not packaging requirements for the next generation of P2P systems; what you’re packaging is the requirements for “Next Generation Radio”. It’s important not to confuse this with what’s necessary for P2P systems.

I am Superwoman. What makes me Superwoman? Because I meet all the requirements for being Superwoman. And what are the requirements for being Superwoman?

Being me.

It just doesn’t work that way.