Thursday, January 31, 2008

Simple access-control status display

I had a chance to talk to my business partners about computer networking security. One of the participants told me that a secure networks should not be mixed up with the unsecure ones. He said in a trusted operating system environment, you would see a red window and a green window, when you handle the different security levels of the information in the windows. You can't copy-and-paste the pieces between the red and green windows, unless an overriding procedure is accepted, and recorded. While I think you can do something more to assist visually-handicapped people, this simple definition of security models should be incorporated with many Web and other Internet applications as soon as possible.

A few years ago I had a chance to see a presentation of similar ideas [1], which described the difference between Microsoft and Symantec products on telling the security level of the Web pages to the users. I thought Symantec's simple color-based access control looked much better than the IE's massive pairs of (not necessarily trivial) parameters.

Access control is often very complex, but the ideas should easily get through to the users. This simple principle has not been popular yet in the world of computer software and Internet applications.

Related link:
[1]Steven Furnell: Fostering the usability of information security solutions, at OECD-APEC Workshop on Security of Information Systems and Networks, Seoul, Korea, 6 September 2005.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A speculation: SMTP may disappear from the global Internet soon

Long time ago in the late 1990s, I was a system administrator, maintaining a bunch of SMTP (mail transfer agent) servers. Since 2007 I have quitted running SMTP servers at home. The number of SPAM messages have rapidly increased since then; 95% of my received mail messages are considered SPAM and unread now. I've been watching this on multiple mailboxes using different SPAM-filtering algorithms, and the trend is mostly the same. Only 5% of mail messages are meaningful to me, including those from my business partners and mailing lists.

On a DNS operator meeting last year, I was joking to one of the participants that the current SMTP (email) and DNS will cease to exist much sooner than we expect, due to the complexity of the running systems. People tend to believe they are always up and running, but the reality is that a lot of sysadmins are killing themselves to get the systems up and running.

I think DNS surely has a lot of economic incentives to keep it alive as it is now. For example, domain names are protected under intellectual property rights and the international treaties. So somebody will keep the system alive, although the implementation details may change.

On the other hand, many people have already seen the limitation of email; they are not pervasive as they were a decade ago. People are fed up with SPAM, and try not to rely on email too much. Many of them have already been using other messaging systems, such as the one implemented in various SNSes. In other words, they put a lower priority to email in general.

Some people say the easiest way to deal with SPAMmers is to constantly change the mail addresses, which I do not think so. I think SPAMmers nowadays exploit all the traceable resources of mail addresses, so the leading time you can gain by changing the email address is getting smaller and smaller every day. The hardest part to fix, and the impossible part to fix, is the promiscuity of SMTP, to accept everything without authentication. Many people have said this and I know this is a mere repetition, but it is a fact we must recognize.

Recently I tend to feel more than ever that I really don't care about the medium or protocol, as long as I can stay connected to the people who I want to. Of course it might get harder to meet new unknown people and communities, but I think that role has already been replaced by open blogs and the update notifiers or RSS readers.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The fall and decline of Mixi

How Alexa finds the difference between,, and

You will see how the Japanese SNS giant Mixi is smaller than the rest of the world. Even worse, Mixi is losing the users, at least from the PC/Internet domain.

Mixi's markering target is shifting towards the Keitai (cell phone) users, which will not show up on the Alexa pageview statistics. I think this is a bad change of tactics, at least for their business. The number of Keitai users (of cell-phone users in and only in Japan) has already been saturated and does not have much room to grow any more. If Mixi depends on the ad business, the revenue will decline.

And I feel the emptiness of Mixi every day as one of the users; less number of diary articles, less frequent updates, and the persistent scanning by bots. It's getting more and more like a deserted city.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

New Year Resolution 2008

Dear Kenji: this is your new year resolution for 2008.

a) Love your job. Love computers, coding, experimenting, and hacking.

b) Redesign your financial portfolio, and how to earn money.

c) Re-learn abstraction and principles of Internet and electronics.

d) Continue reducing home computer system; downsize and outsource.

e) Optimize online activities; publicize your works and minimize rants.

f) Do not waste time on DXing; spend time for more creative activities.

g) Practice DJ and recordings; stop wasting time on thinking about music.

h) Always STAY FIT; eat less, go out of your house and move around.

i) Interact with real people; love your family, respect your friends, and nurture productive relationships.