How Verizon and a BGP Optimizer Knocked Large Parts of the Internet Offline Today →

June 25, 2019 · 12:02

Tom Strickx on Cloudflare’s blog:

Today at 10:30UTC, the Internet had a small heart attack. A small company in Northern Pennsylvania became a preferred path of many Internet routes through Verizon (AS701), a major Internet transit provider. This was the equivalent of Waze routing an entire freeway down a neighborhood street — resulting in many websites on Cloudflare, and many other providers, to be unavailable from large parts of the Internet. This should never have happened because Verizon should never have forwarded those routes to the rest of the Internet. To understand why, read on.

There have been smaller and larger outages over the past few years, with AWS failures triggering the biggest problems for users. These lasted for mere hours at worst and I’m sure darker scenarios is still to come. What will the fallout of a serious (week- or month-long) internet outage entail?


Cloudflare Introduces Warp — A VPN for Their 1.1.1.1 DNS Service →

April 3, 2019 · 14:33

Matthew Prince:

We built Warp because we’ve had those conversations with our loved ones too and they’ve not gone well. So we knew that we had to start with turning the weaknesses of other VPN solutions into strengths. Under the covers, Warp acts as a VPN. But now in the 1.1.1.1 App, if users decide to enable Warp, instead of just DNS queries being secured and optimized, all Internet traffic is secured and optimized. In other words, Warp is the VPN for people who don’t know what V.P.N. stands for.

There will be both a free tier and a paid subscription for Warp. I’m in the queue, waiting to get in, and really hoping Cloudflare lives up to their promises of privacy. Since I have been using their 1.1.1.1 DNS service for the past year, it’s been rock solid, and I haven’t read about any scandals on the subject, so keeping my fingers crossed on this one.


The Bullshit Web →

August 3, 2018 · 11:08

Nick Heer:

An honest web is one in which the overwhelming majority of the code and assets downloaded to a user’s computer are used in a page’s visual presentation, with nearly all the remainder used to define the semantic structure and associated metadata on the page. Bullshit — in the form of CPU-sucking surveillance, unnecessarily-interruptive elements, and behaviours that nobody responsible for a website would themselves find appealing as a visitor — is unwelcome and intolerable.

Whenever I stumble upon a web page which falls under Nick’s “bullshit” category, I just close it. This includes sites that demand I turn off my script blocker, which I use to block “CPU-sucking surveillance” and similar items.

It’s really past time that we started cleaning up this dump that we created.


European MEPs Vote to Reopen Copyright Debate Over ‘Censorship’ Controversy →

July 5, 2018 · 16:34

Natasha Lomas, for TechCrunch:

A 318-278 majority of MEPs in the European Parliament has just voted to reopen debate around a controversial digital copyright reform proposal — meaning it will now face further debate and scrutiny, rather than be fast-tracked towards becoming law via the standard EU trilogue negotiation process.

Crucially it means MEPs will have the chance to amend the controversial proposals.

I hope they have experts on hand to explain the possible ramifications of this reform proposal.


EU Takes First Step in Passing Controversial Copyright Law That Could ‘Censor the Internet’ →

June 21, 2018 · 10:45

James Vincent, writing for The Verge:

This morning, the EU’s Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) voted in favor of the legislation, called the Copyright Directive. Although most of the Directive simply updates technical language for copyright law in the age of the internet, it includes two highly controversial provisions. These are Article 11, a “link tax” which would force online platforms like Facebook and Google to buy licenses from media companies before linking to their stories; and Article 13, an “upload filter” which would require that everything uploaded online in the EU is checked for copyright infringement. (Think of it like YouTube’s Content ID system but for the whole internet.)

EU lawmakers critical of the legislation say these Articles may have been proposed with good intentions — like protecting copyright owners — but are vaguely worded and ripe for abuse. “The methods to address the issue are catastrophic and will hurt the people they want to protect,” Green MEP Julia Reda told journalists earlier this week. After this morning’s vote, Reda told _The Verge_: “It’s a sad day for the internet … but the fight is not over yet.”

This is un-fucking-believable.


The EU Wants to Break the Internet →

June 19, 2018 · 16:50

K.G Orphanides, writing for Wired:

A proposed new European copyright law wants large websites to use “content recognition technologies” to scan for copyrighted videos, music, photos, text and code in a move that that could impact everyone from the open source software community to remixers, livestreamers and teenage meme creators.

In an open letter to the President of the European Parliament, some of the world’s most prominent technologists warn that Article 13 of the proposed EU Copyright Directive “takes an unprecedented step towards the transformation of the Internet from an open platform for sharing and innovation, into a tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users.”

What I’m doing here right here in this post — quoting a relevant passage from another article — could become illegal. If I read Article 13 correctly, I can’t even link to Wired without written permission. This goes way beyond the scope of memes, which I think K.G puts too much focus on.

We have 17 hours or so before this goes up for vote. You can voice your concerns here (including tweeting at MEPs).


The Earth Is Flat Because YouTube Videos Say It Is →

June 12, 2018 · 11:10

Alan Burdick, for The New York Times:

If you are only just waking up to the twenty-first century, you should know that, according to a growing number of people, much of what you’ve been taught about our planet is a lie: Earth really is flat. We know this because dozens, if not hundreds, of YouTube videos describe the coverup […]

The modern case for a flat Earth derives largely from “Zetetic Astronomy: Earth Not a Globe,” a book published, in 1865, by a smooth-talking English inventor and religious fundamentalist named Samuel Rowbotham. I found a copy at a bookseller’s table in the corridor just outside the conference ballroom, alongside books about the Revelations and New Testament apocrypha. The vender, a friendly woman who looked to be in her late sixties, offered her thoughts on Earth’s flatness and the enshrouding secrecy; I moved on when she got to “the Jews.”

John Gruber comments:

[…] before the internet, kooks were forced to exist on the fringe. There’ve always been flat-earther-types denying science and John Birch Society political fringers, but they had no means to amplify their message or bond into large movements.

Thom Holwerda had a few words to say too:

The internet is one of the greatest inventions of mankind, but it’s also having dark, unsettling effects on our society that we need to address. I don’t have any solutions, but we better start doing a better job of arming ourselves against the constant barrage of attacks on science, or we risk our society descending into chaos.


I have been thinking about this issue over the past few days and have begun to imagine how quickly we could wake up in a world where these sort of ideas are the new norm and round-Earthers become the group of people who are considered “kooks”, to use Gruber’s words. Politics are a great example of how quickly a certain point of view can take over the minds of a country or continent and we don’t have to look far — these are all things that are happening today in multiple countries around the world. I love the internet but I can’t help but wonder if humans, as a species growing up in many contrasting environments, won’t be able to handle our cultural and psychological differences.


Google and HTTP →

May 29, 2018 · 13:00

Dave Winer:

I’ve been writing about Google’s efforts to deprecate HTTP, the protocol of the web. This is a summary of why I am opposed to it.

This isn’t their first attempt and it won’t be their last foray into trying to influence the internet, but hopefully it won’t affect us as much as it could, especially since we do have alternatives to Google Search and Chrome.


How to Get Webmention Working Under WordPress

April 26, 2018 · 14:56

I learned about Webmention from Manton Reece, after he launched Micro.blog. Basically, Webmention is a standard for having conversations on the web, between different websites. These can be interpreted as comments or whatever a site’s owner wants them to be, e.g. likes, etc. To get these running under WordPress, you will need to either code Webmention into your theme or take the easy path and install two plugins…

Continue reading →


Facebook Won’t Disclose What Information It Has Gathered on Non-users →

April 16, 2018 · 12:13

David Ingram, for The Huffington Post:

Zuckerberg said on Wednesday under questioning by U.S. Representative Ben Luján that, for security reasons, Facebook also collects “data of people who have not signed up for Facebook.”

Lawmakers and privacy advocates immediately protested the practice, with many saying Facebook needed to develop a way for non-users to find out what the company knows about them.

“We’ve got to fix that,” Representative Luján, a Democrat, told Zuckerberg, calling for such disclosure, a move that would have unclear effects on the company’s ability to target ads. Zuckerberg did not respond. On Friday Facebook said it had no plans to build such a tool.

While I don’t want Facebook to keep any records about me or my doings online, I do strongly support an open internet, which technically means that I consent to this sort of behaviour. There will always be bad actors in the world and the internet is no different. I can however attempt to block as much of Facebook as possible, by using an appropriate DNS and content blocker or host file.


1.1.1.1 — The Fastest, Privacy-First Consumer DNS Service →

April 2, 2018 · 11:44

Matthew Prince, writing on Cloudflare’s blog:

Cloudflare’s mission is to help build a better Internet. We’re excited today to take another step toward that mission with the launch of 1.1.1.1 — the Internet’s fastest, privacy-first consumer DNS service.

This is amazing news! An ISP’s DNS service allows them to collect a huge amount of data about your internet habits. This is where Cloudflare comes in, not analysing user data and wiping logs after 24 hours — they’re only kept for that long to prevent abuse and to debug any issues they might be having.

The problem is that these DNS services are often slow and not privacy respecting. What many Internet users don’t realize is that even if you’re visiting a website that is encrypted — has the little green lock in your browser — that doesn’t keep your DNS resolver from knowing the identity of all the sites you visit. That means, by default, your ISP, every wifi network you’ve connected to, and your mobile network provider have a list of every site you’ve visited while using them.

DNS can also be used as a censorship tool…

In March 2014, for instance, the government of Turkey blocked Twitter after recordings showing a government corruption scandal leaked online. The Internet was censored by the country’s ISP’s DNS resolvers blocking DNS requests for twitter.com. People literally spray painted 8.8.8.8, the IP of Google’s DNS resolver service, on walls to help fellow Turks get back online. Google’s DNS resolver is great, but diversity is good and we thought we could do even better.

When I first saw this on on Twitter last night, I was certain it was an April Fool’s joke. No sane person would launch something ilke this on that day, right?

[…] This is the first consumer product Cloudflare has ever launched, so we wanted to reach a wider audience. At the same time, we’re geeks at heart. 1.1.1.1 has 4 1s. So it seemed clear that 4/1 (April 1st) was the date we needed to launch it.

Never mind that it was a Sunday. Never mind that it was on Easter and during Passover. Never mind that it was April Fools Day — a day where tech companies often trot out fictional services they think are cute while the media and the rest of the non-tech world collectively roll their eyes.

We justified it to ourselves that Gmail, another great, non-fictional consumer service, also launched on April 1, 2004. Of course, as Cloudflare’s PR team has repeatedly pointed out to me in the run up to launch, the Gmail launch day was a Thursday and not on Easter. Nearly every media briefing I did this week ahead of the launch the reporter made me swear that this wasn’t a joke. And it’s not. I swear. And the best way to prove that is go to 1.1.1.1, follow the instructions to set it up, and see for yourself. It’s real. And it’s awesome.

In the meantime, since DNS isn’t secure and can still be monitored, Cloudflare has spoken with a few of the people behind the biggest browser and operating systems manufacturers and asked their opinion on the matter.

What’s needed is a move to a new, modern protocol. There are a couple of different approaches. One is DNS-over-TLS. That takes the existing DNS protocol and adds transport layer encryption. Another is DNS-over-HTTPS. It includes security but also all the modern enhancements like supporting other transport layers (e.g., QUIC) and new technologies like server HTTP/2 Server Push. Both DNS-over-TLS and DNS-over-HTTPS are open standards. And, at launch, we’ve ensured 1.1.1.1 supports both.

We think DNS-over-HTTPS is particularly promising — fast, easier to parse, and encrypted. To date, Google was the only scale provider supporting DNS-over-HTTPS. For obvious reasons, however, non-Chrome browsers and non-Android operating systems have been reluctant to build a service that sends data to a competitor. We’re hoping that with an independent DNS-over-HTTPS service now available, we’ll see more experiments from browsers, operating systems, routers, and apps to support the protocol.


If you want to start using 1.1.1.1 (and 1.0.0.1) as your main (and alternative) DNS, just open 1.1.1.1 in your browser and follow the instructions. You will also find more precise setup instructions, for Android, various gaming consoles, Linux, routers, Windows, Macs and iOS devices on their developer site.

Finally, these are addresses you will need to use and/or remember (IPv4 and IPv6):

  • 1.1.1.1
  • 1.0.0.1
  • 2606:4700:4700::1111
  • 2606:4700:4700::1001

I just checked 1.1.1.1’s performance and it appears to be the fastest DNS out there, avergaing 14.01 ms worldwide and 11.34 ms in Europe over the last 30 days. Google’s 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4 are significantly slower, clocking in at 34.51 ms and 24.43 ms respectively.

I’m in.


It’s Time for an RSS Revival →

April 1, 2018 · 07:18

Brian Barrett, for Wired:

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication (or Rich Site Summary) and it was first stitched into the tapestry of the open web around the turn of the millennium. Its aim is straightforward: to make it easy to track updates to the content of a given website in a standardized format.

In practice, and for your purposes, that means it can give you a comprehensive, regularly updated look at all of the content your favorite sites publish throughout the day. Think of it as the ultimate aggregator; every morsel from every source you care about, fed directly to you […]

I first started using RSS heavily back in 2008 or so and have been using it on a daily basis since then. That’s over a decade now (or close to it, depending if my memory serves me correctly).

RSS is one of the foundations of the web. It allows us an extremely simple way to follow posts on a website without actually remembering to check for new content. Or even visiting that site. It also allows us to read just the words of our favourite writers, on sites with many other wordsmiths, without having to wade through ever single post. RSS is a timesaver. It makes life easier. It works on extremely slow internet connections. It’s automatic.

RSS is wonderful.


Anatomy of a Moral Panic →

September 25, 2017 · 09:25

Maciej Cegłowski:

On September 18, the British Channel 4 ran a news segment with the headline, ‘Potentially deadly bomb ingredients are ‘frequently bought together’ on Amazon.’

The piece claims that “users searching for a common chemical compound used in food production are offered the ingredients to produce explosive black powder” on Amazon’s website, and that “steel ball bearings often used as shrapnel” are also promoted on the page, in some cases as items that other customers also bought.

The ‘common chemical compound’ in Channel 4’s report is potassium nitrate, an ingredient used in curing meat. If you go to Amazon’s page to order a half-kilo bag of the stuff, you’ll see the suggested items include sulfur and charcoal, the other two ingredients of gunpowder. (Unlike Channel 4, I am comfortable revealing the secrets of this 1000-year-old technology.)

Quality journalism is rapidly becoming a niche, and US TV news stations are one example — they’re basically unwatchable. I recently turned on CNN for a few minutes and it was a circus — a far cry from the professionalism I remember from their first few years of broadcasting.

I assume things will get better in the future, but I believe only a handful of publications will retain quality, and it will get a lot worse before that happens.


Fuck Facebook →

June 2, 2017 · 11:28

John Gruber:

The Internet Archive is our only good defense against broken links. Blocking them from indexing Facebook content is a huge “fuck you” to anyone who cares about the longevity of the stuff they link to.

Treat Facebook as the private walled garden that it is. If you want something to be publicly accessible, post it to a real blog on any platform that embraces the real web, the open one.

Even though I have a Facebook account1, I hate what the company is doing and what it stands for. They are however so successful, that many people don’t even realise that they’re “on the internet” when “they’re on Facebook”, as noted by Leo Mirani for QZ:

[…] a closer look at the data […] shows that 11% of Indonesians who said they used Facebook also said they did not use the internet. In Nigeria, 9% of Facebook users said they do not use the internet […]

Considering the substantial percentages—about 10% of Facebook users in our surveys—the data suggest at the very least that a few million of Facebook’s 1.4 billion users suffer from the same misconceptions.

The web would actually be a better place without Facebook, even if it meant Instagram had to die in the process.

  1. Because “I have to.”

Google’s Proprietary Fork of HTML Is Taking Over the Open Web →

May 22, 2017 · 08:14

Nick Heer:

Consider this: Google owns the most popular search engine and the biggest video hosting platform in most countries, operates one of the most-used email services on Earth,1 has the greatest market share of any mobile operating system, makes the most popular web browser in many countries, serves the majority of the targeted advertising on the web, provides the most popular analytics software for websites, and is attempting to become a major internet service provider. And, to cap it all off, they’re subtly replacing HTML with their own version, and it requires a Google-hosted JavaScript file to correctly display.


Theresa May to Create New Internet That Would Be Controlled and Regulated by Government →

May 21, 2017 · 21:18

Andrew Griffin, reporting for The Independant:

Theresa May is planning to introduce huge regulations on the way the internet works, allowing the government to decide what is said online.

Particular focus has been drawn to the end of the manifesto, which makes clear that the Tories want to introduce huge changes to the way the internet works.

“Some people say that it is not for government to regulate when it comes to technology and the internet,” it states. “We disagree.”

The direction taken by the UK in recent years is nothing short of horrifying and perhaps the worst thing that will happen to the internet in its history. At the same time I cannot fathom why the people don’t protest this more. This quote, from V for Vendetta springs to mind immediately:

People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.


A Discussion About the Breaking of the Internet →

March 24, 2016 · 12:38

Mike Roberts:

Kik has been around for a while and we thought that the name “kik” on Azer’s NPM package could have caused confusion. In fact, once Azer had made it clear that he wasn’t going to change the name, we decided to use a different name for an upcoming package we are going to publish to NPM. We did hope that Azer would change his mind, but we were proceeding under a different package name even when we were told we could have the name Kik.

They reached out to Azer, using extremely friendly wording in their email:

We don’t mean to be a dick about it, but it’s a registered Trademark in most countries around the world and if you actually release an open source project called kik, our trademark lawyers are going to be banging on your door and taking down your accounts and stuff like that — and we’d have no choice but to do all that because you have to enforce trademarks or you lose them.

Yeah, I don’t take lightly to threats either.


Randi Harper and FreeBSD — a Lesson in How Not to Treat Another Person →

January 4, 2016 · 10:56

Randi Harper:

I had talked to someone from the FreeBSD Foundation earlier on the phone about what was happening. During this same conversation, they actually said “maybe you should be nicer.” Literally. Said. That. To. Me. After this person had witnessed my talk and seen all the shit that had happened in the past year, I was tone policed by the FreeBSD Foundation…

A week later, I received an email from this person threatening to involve the FreeBSD Foundation lawyers…

I cannot even begin to imagine what went through the heads of the people at FreeBSD. Their (and many others) behaviour is completely unacceptable. I see these types of stories every few weeks and I just cannot understand why people would choose to act in this manner. I feel for Randi and anyone else ever placed in similar situations.


‘It’s Easier on the Web’ →

November 30, 2015 · 14:00

Alex Austin:

In the past four weeks, there were 45,000 new apps submitted to the iOS App Store alone. The chances that any of them will ever break into the top 1000 are effectively 0%, and even if they did, they’re still not seeing any amount of traffic to build a successful business.


‘Forty was Definitely Prolific’ →

November 25, 2015 · 08:24

Jason Fagone:

By August 2014, Finley had reached out to the F.B.I.’s Atlanta field office, asking if the bureau could help with a swatting case in which the suspect was a minor. He was told the swatter would have to be ‘‘prolific.’’ Finley asked what that meant. He knew the swatter had made hoax calls to 11 police departments in that one January alone. How many swattings is prolific? No one Finley spoke to at the bureau could say. But Finley kept tracking Obnoxious, kept calling the F.B.I. with updates — he could connect the guy to 20 swatting calls, then 30 calls. When he got past 40 about a month later, he finally found a special agent named Andrew Young. Forty was definitely prolific.