Apr 29 2009

Shortening URLs

Category: InternetTeknovis @ 9:56 pm

Sometimes URLs can become very long, and this can be problematic in certain circumstances. I usually notice then when I send or receive an email containing a URL, but the email software forces a line break in the middle of the URL. Therefore, the link cannot be clicked :( I am also notice this in Twitter, because the URL can consume a lot of my valuable characters!

Luckily, there are several websites that allow you to rewrite a long URL as a short URL.The websites that I am aware of are (in no particular order):

I have not used any of these enough yet to determine which is best!

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Apr 28 2009

eflow Website

Category: Internet,ReviewsTeknovis @ 10:46 pm

Tonight I had to use the eflow website for the first time. I am lucky that I do not have to ever suffer the M50! This is a motorway that almost circles the capital city (Dublin), and it is the busiest road in Ireland. There is a toll to pass one bridge on the motorway, and until recently you could pay the toll at the bridge using cash. I have never understood why you could not pay using your credit card like most of the EU! Recently a barrier free system was introduced, and infrequent travellers must now pay the toll online within 48 hours.

This morning some Spanish friends of mine arrived in Ireland. They rented a car at the airport, and the set-off for the west of Ireland. I was talking to them this evening by phone to determine if they had passed the toll bridge on the M50. I know that they travelled on the M50, because they told me that they were on a road that looked like a motorway except everybody was parked. Yup – that is the M50 :( However, they were not sure if they crossed the toll bridge.

As a precaution, I got the registration number of their rented car, and I visited the eflow web site. My expectation was that I should be able to enter the registration number, and that the website should tell me what was due. This however is not possible!

Indeed, the website is so bad that I can enter any random Irish registration number and pay for any small number of trips!

So I paid the toll in the end for the rented car, even though I am not sure if it was due or not.

Next I thought that I would phone eflow to try and confirm if the toll was due or not. Unfortunately, eflow only advertise a 1890 phone number. I detest these, as I describe in Say No To 1890!. The national number provided on SayNoTo1890 went to voicemail because it was after 17:00 when I phoned, even though the eflow website states that customer service is open until 23:00 :(

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Apr 27 2009

Employee Privacy on Facebook

Category: InternetTeknovis @ 11:11 pm

Yet another employee getting into trouble with her employer due to the information she published on Facebook‘Ill’ worker fired over Facebook.

And still there will be more…

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Apr 26 2009

Google Latitude Used to Retrieve Stolen Purse

Category: Location Based ServicesTeknovis @ 8:12 am

I read an interesting article during the week that described how Google Latitude was used to locate, apprehend, and arrest the thief of a stolen purse! I guess that this is great advertising for Google! To read the full article see Google nabs purse snatcher.

The most interesting thing that I learned from this article is that the telcos charge the police for this location information, and the charge varies depending on how fast the police want this information! I wonder if this only occurs in the US, or if it occurs in the EU also.

I am surprised that the telcos are not required to supply this location information free-of-charge due to either freedom of information (the mobile phone owner’s location information) or emergency services legislation!

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Apr 25 2009

Irish Government Abandons eVoting

Category: eGovernment,SecurityTeknovis @ 9:03 pm

The Irish Government has finally decided to abandon the badly conceived eVoting system that it purchased several years ago!

Ireland uses a proportional representation system, and it is not uncommon for counting to take several days. Therefore, the eVoting system was intended to produce almost instant results. However, it was determined by an independent commission that the system did not provide a sufficiently secure and verifiable audit trial.

For more details about this story see Gormley scraps e-voting system, or the harshly written Ireland scraps evoting in favour of ‘stupid old pencils’.

I am delighted with this decision, because I think that the purchased eVoting system would have provided fewer verifiable audit facilities than the current paper based system. This is a pity, especially when you consider that a well specified system could have provided a significantly more verifiable audit trial. For example, every voter could have been supplied with a unique random identifier after he/she voted. The voter could then use this number online later to determine this his/her vote was correctly recorded, and contributed to the overall result.

Perhaps the best feature of the paper based voting system is that it provides very entertaining viewing :D

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Apr 24 2009

“Baby Shaker” iPhone Application

Category: iPhoneTeknovis @ 9:16 pm

Apple have removed the controversial Baby Shaker application from the application store! I guess that it is not surprising, since Apple try not to endorse any applications that are objectionable!

To read more about this see ‘Baby Shaker’ game pulled from Apple’s iPhone App Store. There is also a great video demonstration!

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Apr 23 2009

Internet Censorship by Belgian Government

Category: eGovernment,InternetTeknovis @ 4:43 pm

I just read that the Belgian Government has ordered 17 ISPs to block access to four websites. According to the largest ISP, this is the first time that this has occurred. The censored websites in this case contain details of convicted paedophiles. For more details about this see Belgium govt blocks access to website.

In general, I am in favour of making information public. However, I am also a strong supporter of privacy. So I do not know yet if publishing this information is good or bad.

However, I do think that trying to block access to these websites by forcing ISPs to police network traffic is both stupid and ineffective. In my opinion, this type of action only raises the profile of the censored websites! I suppose that it is typical of pushing a political solution into a technical arena.

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Apr 22 2009

Ubuntu or Kubuntu

Category: LinuxTeknovis @ 9:08 pm

The latest versions of Ubuntu and Kubuntu will be released tomorrow. These will be version 9.04, and they are known as Jaunty Jackalope.

I have never used Linux as my main desktop operating system before, but I have had limited experience of using it on servers. My main reason for wanting to try it is that I am getting tired of all the bugs, security weaknesses, and limited functionality of Windows. My reasons for choosing Ubuntu or Kubuntu are that they both come ready for use, and I know that they are configured securely! So I think that now is a great time to try them!

My initial plan is to install both operating systems on my computer using VMware. I will then start using them as my main operating systems until I can decide which I prefer. At that stage I might format my hard disk, and reinstall ;) The main applications that I will need are:

My understanding is that the main difference between Ubuntu and Kubuntu is the window managers that they use (GNOME versus KDE). However, reading the documentation they both seem to come with different application sets. This is confusing me slightly. I am also not clear why they both need to reinvent the browser!

Hopefully, all will become clear over the following weeks ;) I will keep writing about my progress here!

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Apr 21 2009

RTE Launches On-Demand TV Player

Category: Internet,TelecomsTeknovis @ 7:37 pm

Today RTE launched its on-demand video player, which is unimaginatively called RTÉ Player. I have not had a chance to try it yet, but I already watch a lot of RTE current affairs content on demand. Perhaps my biggest misgiving about the new player is the fact that it is browser based, rather than utilising a separate standalone application.

For more details about this story see RTÉ launches catch-up TV service.

The BBC launched a similar on-demand video player over a year ago called the iPlayer. This caused excessive network usage at that time for BT, and this resulted in extra charges to end-users. This highlighted the increasing problems in the relationship between content producer and content distributor. Ultimately, they will both need to work together! To read more about this see Jaw Jaw, Not War, War.

The next logical step in the roll-out of IP based video on-demand is to supply end-users with set-top boxes. Indeed, this is already being considered for the iPlayer according to BBC, ITV and BT plan to bring iPlayer-style services to TVs. I wonder will RTE do this also!

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Apr 20 2009

AsmXml

Category: Software DevelopmentTeknovis @ 10:27 pm

I have been doing a lot of work in the last three weeks with XML, Schemas, and WSDLs. It has been a while since I worked with these, so it is very enjoyable!

The XML documents that are based on the files that I am working with will be small, and therefore they will be relatively easy to process with limited resources. However, there are methods of improving the performance of processing XML documents.

One such method is to use the AsmXml parser. This is an XML parser that has been written in assemble language! I am aware of this thanks to a friend, but I am not sure if he is actually using this in a production environment!

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