Friday, 30 January 2015

The Protocol of the Elders of OpenID

OpenID logo
I had a dream the other night, brought on by a rather elusive and stubbornly intractable software problem I'd been tussling with in my mind for some time (for the developer, that's where the issues so often lay), accompanied by questions – indeed pleas – along the lines of “Why me? What have I done to deserve all this grief? For God's sake, beam me up or something! Get me out of here!” which alternated with half-hearted assertions (that are actually true for solutioneers in a majority of cases) that “There must be a solution to, and a logical reason for this. I just haven't found it yet.”

In the dream, I became aware that there was a stream of information or a channel involved that I had not factored in, as I had not appreciated that it was a part of the system that I was attempting to diagnose. In a certain sense (and this is how I pictured it in my dream), there was something “going right over my head” and I'd been oblivious to this reality.

Is there such a thing as free will?

And then my mind turned to the question of whether there is any such thing as free will (following on from me questioning whether I was fated or doomed to tussle with these problems or if I could simply walk away)? And the answer that was presented to me was both “The matter is out of your hands” and simultaneously “The matter is in your own hands”, and “It's all a matter of protocol.”

Friday, 9 January 2015

[Technical] An off-the-grid networking project

Alternate Net is a project that I've been working on for some time. It will allow people to create a network of web sites independent of the ICANN regulatory body that is responsible, amongst other things, for managing the Internet's domain name system (DNS). While ICANN works with regular domains like ".com", Alternate Net will bypass the regular network of DNS name servers and use the custom top level domain ".altnet".

home.altnet, the home of Alternate Net.

This has been done before, of course, and it's popularly called “The Dark Net” since the web sites and other resources in such private networks do not show up and cannot be accessed from web browsers and other devices that are tied to the official DNS servers. If someone types in a domain like "some-site.altnet" into their web browser, regular DNS servers will send back an NXDOMAIN response (domain not found). Unfortunately, the Dark Net has acquired a very poor reputation, since it hosts all manner of unsavoury, illicit and illegal content and activities – and that is the last thing we want.