Archive for the ‘Editorial’ Category

A Rant on the Direction of ClearOS, Apps and the Marketplace

Something about this new “apps” paradigm ClearOS has entered has been gnawing away at my subconcience ever since I wrote my little critique on 6.3. In a post on the ClearOS forum regarding missing IPsec support I think I was able to finally articulate the off-ish smell that has been driving me mental.


I can’t seem to find the IPsec app for ClearOS 6.3

I see the paid “dynamic vpn” app in the market place and it appears to reference an independent IPsec app.

The Dynamic VPN app is an extension to ClearOS’s IPSec VPN app. The service allows IPSec to be used in situations where either one or both of the gateways are on a dynamic IP address issued by the ISP or in cases where instability using unmanaged IPSec tunnels exists.




The unmanaged IPsec tool has been unmaintained for a few years and was dropped in version 6. It’s open source, so if someone wants to revive unmanaged IPsec, go right ahead.

Yeah I love the whole “It’s OSS, you do it if you like it so much!” attitude at the same time architectural decisions seem to have become increasingly marketing-driven. If it was too much trouble to update the old IPsec module why not cut out all the paid bits of the for-profit Dynamic VPN app? Smells a little fishy.

Maybe I will make it. If you hire me. Unfortunately, I have to put food on the table and the people who pay for my time have very little use for a webconfig interface once I have it rolling. Being someone who has contributed little more than some help on the forums and a couple VM images I wouldn’t be so whiny if this wasn’t a functionality ClearOS didn’t already have at one point.

I’m beginning to question the logic of continuing to use ClearOS when I have to do so many things myself; I’m a Gentoo admin so it goes without saying that I love to do everything myself – but I use this crazy, neat little redhat system because it used to save me countless hours and let me respond to network crises quickly.

It feels like the foundation has cut off its nose to sell its face. A lot of stuff seems to be missing or half baked just so they could roll out this new “Marketplace” paradigm in time for RHEL 6. A paradigm which itself rubs me all sorts of wrong ways.

It’s a shame they gambled on buzzword dollars rather than building on an already great platform. I hope I’m dead wrong; that the gamble pays off and we end up seeing a whole bunch of quality third party “apps” from the community but the sad truth is that functionality was always there and we didn’t see a whole lot of participation back in the day (and I’m not pretending to have been any help!).

On the surface, it looks like this new app framework was designed mostly with the intent to make it easier for paid services to be integrated. I wonder which kind of apps the Foundation staff members will be focusing most of their attention on now. They certainly don’t seem worried about the lack of a free IPsec app despite every crappy embedded router’s support for it and highly critical Advanced Bandwidth rules have been bumped two versions (so far!).

Oh well, I know only too well that we all gotta make that dolla. Maybe the corporate makeover (and hopefully increased revenue that follows) is what Clear needs to propel itself to new heights of greatness. I sincerely hope so.

UPDATE You should really read the thread; Dave Loper did a great job of explaining why things have gone this way and what the path forward looks like. I’m a lot more optimistic now.

Wall Street Journal Says Big Screens are Bandwidth Hogs

Wall Street Journal contributor Clint Boulton gaffed in a blog entry Monday titled “CIOs Beware: New Macbook Pro Will Be a Bandwidth Hog.”

Clint argues that larger screens take up more bandwidth, apparently forgetting that there is a difference between screen resolution and the actual resolution content is delivered in:

…Better quality displays require more network bandwidth, which allows users to increase data consumption. Consider that experts told CIO Journalearlier this year that the new iPad, which includes a Retina display of 2048-by-1536 resolution with 3.1 million pixels, would slow enterprise networks to a crawl and increase data costs from carriers. Now imagine how a Macbook with 5.1 million pixels — two million more than the new iPad — will increase data traffic in office networks.

CIOs would do well to monitor network usage and make sure their employees aren’t watching too much high-definition content on YouTube and other data-hungry websites. CIOs whose policies for content consumption are lax must be prepared to increase bandwidth. Another option might be for CIOs to require workers who want to bring their own high-powered devices to the office to bring their own bandwidth as well. At the very least, CIOs might want to follow the lead of companies such as Google, which give employees a monthly “bill” for the IT services that they consume, and make the usage a matter of record throughout the company.

Apparently Clint is doing everything he can to meet his publishing quota, this bollocks is a continuation of his March 22 article, “The New iPad Could Create High-Speed Headaches for CIOs

The rotten “experts” (with an s) in all this seem to be Amtel CEO P.J. Gupta who “sells software that sets alerts and notifications on bandwidth consumption.”

One wonders how this technically challenged sap managed to get a gig writing articles for Chief Information Officers when he can’t tell the difference between a sales pitch and objective analysis. I can see the HR people at WSJ are top notch.

Despite all the corrective comments the article hasn't been pulled or edited.

Fixing Africa: Kony 2012 and The Rise of Oh-Dearism

I’m among the thousands who have watched the recently distributed Kony 2012 film and like many of its viewers felt briefly compelled to help carry out its sole objective: dissemination. I would be a hypocrite to help propagandise; I’ve never really cared “enough” about the plight of Africans and to start pontificating now would be insincere and superficial. Of course, by writing this little opinion piece I am helping the film in its mission, but not for the sake of the movement – noble though the cause may be.  Rather, I’d like to comment on how it vividly illustrates the major flaw shared by many recent internet-based, movement-oriented documentaries: a fairy-tale-like faith in the power of social networking.

"Around here our ambition throws a non-perishable item in the donation bin at Christmas and pats itself on the fucking back because it thinks it's done something decent." - Matthew Good

I don’t want single out Kony 2012 so I’ll drag the Venus Project’s  Zeitgeist and The Reality of Me  into the ring as well. While I give both of these documentaries high marks for at least attempting to pose some solutions to the problems they raise they are not readily practical (relying on yet-uninvented technology, for example), cover very little ground in terms of urban engineering and rely on an oversimplified faith in what I can only describe as “natural society.”

What all three share in common is their overt declaration that the mere act of spreading them tangibly and directly helps  further their cause.  Rather than empower the viewer I would argue that banking on viral marketing more than educational utility helps fuel the disaffected sense of “Oh-Dearism” they are trying to overcome. Oh-Dearism is a term coined by documentarian Adam Curtis to describe the vision of the world provided to us by the mainstream media over the past several decades in which the motives behind man’s inhumanity to man are too complicated to understand and are written off as inexplicable – a world to which the only reaction can be “Oh dear.”

Curtis’ bit on Oh-Dearism ironically also holds a chilly warning for third-world do-gooders:

Their chance came in 1968 with the Biafran civil war in Africa. Western politicians were doing nothing as thousands starved, so a group of radicals began to organize a campaign to help the dying children. Propaganda films were made that portrayed the conflict dramatically as a new holocaust, celebrities held 48-hour vigils and the television news eagarly covered it. Then Blue Peter held an appeal for Biafra, and the response astonished everyone.


What Biafra began reached its high point in 1985 with Live Aid. Michael Burke’s news reports of the famine in Ethiopia had shocked the west. Bob Geldof then used television to create an extraordinary event of global altruism. It showed we together could do more to save the world than our ineffectual and corrupted politicians.

And it also made us feel good about ourselves.

Those running Live Aid thought they had transcended the corruption of politics. But actually, the money they raised may have had its own corrupting and destructive effects in Africa. The dictator of Ethiopia was fighting a civil war and some have claimed that he used western aid to fund the war, and to prolong it for another six years. Médecins Sans Frontières has said that this may have led to as many deaths as were actually saved by the aid.

But this wasn’t reported, because it was too complicated.

And it wouldn’t have made us feel good about ourselves.

I won’t argue the fact that building awareness is the first step in starting a movement but you have to understand the people you’re trying to move. North Americans, by and by, aren’t going to get off their ass and put a dent where it hurts (their wallet) unless they are both impassioned and provided with a short list of clear and simple objectives. They must be educated and given a means to put that education to use. It is not necessary to reach out to the creative, passionate people who can make their own cues – they come around on their own. If the objective is truly massive participation the target audience is the average slob – and they have to be inspired to do more than post a link on facebook and feel self-satisfied.

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Made in Canada  •  There's a fox in the Gibson!  •  2010-12