Australia’s Internet Filter

Disclaimer: the idea for this post began as a comment on Renai Le May’s great Australian ICT site, Delimiter.

A lot has been written about the proposed Australian Internet Filter, but I want to look at it from a slightly different point of view.

Today, June 28 2010, we saw the first female Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard, announce the lineup for the new cabinet. Not a lot changed. Many geeks around Australia had hoped that Victorian Senator Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy would be pro- or de-moted and that Senator Kate Lundy would replace him. But he’s a Labor “power broker” and has just had a big win with the Telstra/NBN deal. It was always pretty unlikely and it didn’t happen.

So Conroy, who is rabid about the Internet Filter retains the Ministerial portfolio to implement it. What is more important is that the Australian Labor Party (ALP) reiterated their commitment to its implementation. And the way that I look at it, we need to stop being so negative about this. Turn the frown upside down!

Just consider that, even if the entire geek population votes against Labor at the election, they are fairly likely to retain power (Tony Abbott as PM, seriously?). And even if every Victorian votes “below the line” in the Senate, and Conroy is disenfranchised, the policy will still be there, and Julia Gillard will proclaim from on high that “WE HAVE A MANDATE!” So, let’s just accept the inevitable – we are going to have a filter.

Let’s think about it this way instead: the ALP, with Conroy as their spokesperson, is giving us a massive challenge. The challenge for all geeks is not how to defeat the proposed filter – we know that is but a trivial challenge – but to find out in how many ways. To paraphrase the Bard: “How can I subvert thee? Let me count the ways”.

Blog about it. Twitter about your blog posts. Send emails to your friends. All demonstrating your powers of uber-geek and how we can all get around the filter.

Remember to publicise what, but more importantly why you are doing this. And you must remain positive. We can term it “A Challenge to Conroy” or something catchy like that, but stay on message that you are accepting this as a challenge.

Geeks of Australia, go forth and find as many ways as possible! Subvert^H^H^H^H^H^H^H accept my challenge to you all!

Western Digital 1TB external hard disks and Ubuntu Linux

A few weeks ago I bought myself two Western Digital 1TB external hard disk drives. I am using one for backups and one which I have connected via USB to my NAS as an expansion drive. This drive has its own share on the NAS, which I can mount on my Ubuntu Linux laptop via the SMB protocol. This replaced a 750GB drive doing the same job.

Interestingly, I have noticed that when I go to mount the share it, occasionally it throws an error message. I never got this with the 750GB drive, so initially I thought that the drive was faulty. It took me a while to figure it out and the actual cause was quite simple. These drives are WD Caviar Green “GreenPower” drives, which put themselves to “sleep” after a period of not being used. They take a few moments to wake up and spin up again. When Ubuntu initiates the mounting process, it times out when the drive doesn’t respond and throws the error message. Try about 10 seconds later and the drive has woken up and is responding and works just fine, mounting successfully. I hope this helps someone if they have a GreenPower or “Eco” drive of any sort, and are having problems with mounting them in Ubuntu. Just wait a few seconds and try again; it’s not a Linux problem, but the way that the drives go to “sleep” and then take a few moments to come alive and be responsive.