There has been a lot of talk lately in the news about the potential for the implementation of a two tier internet, that is to say a global collection of networks in which some traffic is given priority over others, not necessarily for reasons of efficiency but for those of financial incentive - those that can afford to pay can prioritise their internet traffic or take advantage of less restrictive access to the content of others.

This is something I wanted to muse over a little before committing thoughts to my blog because it is something close to my heart. Having given it some thought though it is actually a less savoury prospect than I had ever imagined and I was never in favour of a two tier internet in the first place.

At present the internet is a place in which content is indiscriminately accessible to all; something I publish is available to a user in, say, Australia as readily as it is to someone who lives up my street. Likewise someone on a cheap ISP can also access my published content in exactly the same way as someone on a more expensive provider.

Two Tier Internet means that for the first time some publishers will be able to dictate which “class” of consumer will be able to access their content and what is worse even if the publisher intends to allow everyone equal access the ISP could be equally restrictive if it took their fancy. My internet might not be the same as your internet and this means that whole areas of the internet could be completely invisible to you without you even knowing it. Sure, you might be able to hit IP addresses but they would time out as if there was no machine responding if they weren’t on your tier.

I cannot stress enough how damaging this will be to the whole ethos of the internet. Tim Berners Lee (creator of the world wide web in case you didn’t know) said himself that the connections we use to share data should be freely accessible to all and that the whole way in which the internet works relies on us all being on one network in which we all have the potential to be equal players. If the very creator of the web intended us to have one internet and believes it would be damaging to split it up, why should legislators who have no technical knowledge have the right to say it shouldn’t be that way? Quite simply they are taking the piss.

I’m not going to jump on a high horse about the quality of the content I have to distribute to the world, especially since some of it is probably pretty crap in the eyes of some who might come across it, but I sure as hell don’t want to see someone else deciding who should see it or not based on who is lining their pockets. I put it online because I want everyone in the world with a connection to be able to read, listen to, watch or download it as they wish. If a day comes when I can no longer do that, the one place on earth where we are all still truly free, the internet, really will be dead and the world will be a much darker place.

I wish to congratulate everyone who has successfully passed resit examinations this year in Leeds School of Computing. You’ve worked hard and deserve to be back in the best department in the university! Bring on freshers week :D

Last night was the School of Computing end of year ball and it was a superb night enjoyed by all. Huge thanks to CompSoc for organising the event, it was very well run.

A group of us started off the evening in style by getting a limo to the venue and then we had champagne and wine on arrival with a live acoustic music set which was very enjoyable. Dinner was well planned and the food really rather tasty. Its always difficult to cater for such a large group and they did it brilliantly. Dinner discussion was, for the mostpart, kept away from computers and the school in general which was a relief for many I think although the odd comment about techie things did crop up largely due to me - whoops! I also got the chance to scare some physics students about the complexity of their second year of study which was rather amusing (the ball was a combined affair with the physics and nursing departments of the university).

The rest of the evening was centered around a rather cheesy disco, a well stocked bar and a casino. I hit the blackjack tables and did rather poorly so it was a good job we got free chips to start us off! After we had all blown our chips and the tables had closed for the evening we moved into the disco and danced around insanely to some brilliant 80s and 90s dance nostalgia. Priceless photo award of the evening goes to Matt who led a rather large conga around the hall for a good 5 minutes or so!

All in all it was a superb evening and well deserved break at the end of the year for all the hard work we have been craking on with of late. As ever I had my camera at the ready and you can see a whole load of photos from the night in my gallery

I was pleased to hear in the DEC-10 computer lab yesterday that some of the staff in the School of Computing read my blog. This is not just good in a sense that I have more readers but because so much of my life revolves around the school its nice to know yet another group of people inside of it take an interest in what I have to say. Its also a further example of how much interaction there is between staff and students here, and is something that I feel has a real benefit in it for everyone in the school.

Now that I know I have staff readership though I may well write a little bit more about the school and computing as a field of study. Suggestions on article topics in comments please :)

I heard the other day that the next scheduled install fest (where school of computing students can bring their PCs along to the school of computing of an evening and have Linux installed on their systems and find out more about the operating system from those who use it every day) was going to be cancelled due to health and safety reasons.

This made me furious and I’m going to tell you why. Our whole lives are seemingly decided by authority, not for the purposes of law enforcement, national security or public health but because we “might cause ourselves harm”. My point is a very simple one, shouldn’t that kind of decision be up to us? If I put my fingers in a university plug socket and get a shock is it the university’s fault for having plug sockets? Of course not, its mine, for being a prat and sticking my fingers in there in the first place. This means that I should be allowed to use plug sockets because its my fault if anything bad happens.

Why then do we have rules that prevent us from doing something as simple as plugging in an electrical device with the reason cited that the organisation responsible for the existance of the plug socket is held reposnsible for anything that happens to me while using it?

I feel like we have been living in a nanny state for too long. Stupid health and safety rules need to be abolised as do the laws about organisational and individual responsibility to others that cause those rules to have a reason for exising. Whats wrong with us? Can’t we use our own brains anymore? The answer is yes, we can, its just someone is telling us we can’t. Its time for them to be given a kick out the door - permanently.

Last night I polished off yet another piece of coursework. They have been arriving thick and fast lately and its nice to be able to start putting some of them to bed. So far this semester I’ve been very happy with how the courseworks have gone. The poster for our group project gained us a good mark from our peers in our workshop group which was nice, especially considering most people rated their own poster higher than others rated it, whereas ours tallyed well. My website for the web development coursework looked good and fulfilled all the criteria and more, and my submission last night of my animation for graphics seemed to fit the spec and be rather innovative too. Hopefully I’ll get a good mark in these two in the next couple of weeks when the results come back.

Theres no rest though, I have a presentation next week and an essay due, both for my computing ethics module. Futhermore its nearly the end of term which means I really need to have all outstanding work licked by then so I can have a decent break. Heres hoping I can get it all together.

For the sake of the sanity of the rest of those who study or work in the School of Computing please stop trolling on the newsgroups. Its annoying, wastes time and doesn’t help anyone, least of all yourself. That is all.

The first iteration of our group software development project is over which means we had to submit a project plan for the rest of it. Things look very promising; the timing works out almost perfectly as we have two weeks leway at the end in case there are any overruns and we need to adjust things and we have allocated slightly over the amount of time we think things will take to each task and we are still under the overall number of man hours we are supposed to take for the project.

I guess it could be said that this all looks far too neat and that there are bound to be complications when we start coding in earnest, but I guess we will just have to wait and see on that one. What is a shame is how much other coursework we have on top of the project, but thats life I guess - full steam ahead!

You would have thought that hard core dance music would be confined to a nightclub, or perhaps your own front room at a push if you were throwing your own party and the guests were that way inclined. You would be wrong however as in the DEC-10 computer lab the other night while I was trying to concentrate on coursework someone over on the windows machines (a coincidence perhaps?) decided it would be a great idea to play a dance music radio station as loud as the tinny little internal speaker of the machine he was seated at would go.

This is both inconsiderate and darn right annoying to boot. If you want to listen to music in the computer labs there are headphone sockets on the front of all the machines, its not like a small, portable set of headphones isn’t cheap either. Seriously, do people have no thoughts for those who prefer silence or the sound of their own music in their headphones to work to? *sigh*

I’ve found out that our exam results are to be released on Monday from our tutors so I’m now waiting with somewhat baited breath to see how I’ve done. Its that annoying time when its been long enough since the exams to have forgotten how you thought you did and not close enough to results day to allow you to decide if you are optimistic or pessimistic about the outcome. Still hopefully all will be well and I can get on with enjoying work for the second semester modules.

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