Monday, December 17, 2007


This past week, I attended GK3 organised by the Global Knowledge Partnership in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The conference was held at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre which is an outstanding conference venue, surrounded by a range of hotels within walking distance.

The conference itself was a somewhat eclectic mix of people covering civil society, private sector, public sector, social entrepreneurs and others, all with an interest in ICT for Development (another buzzword! ICT4D) and knowledge sharing.

There were numerous sessions organised around the conference covering all sorts of topics (full details available online here. The sessions were a bit of a mish-mash and their relevance really depended on one's background and level of engagement with the topics under discussion.

I did have a feeling that there were too many topics under discussion; with an attempt to somewhat throw things together for a session to happen for the sake of covering a topic, perhaps a bit more focus would have worked better. Then again maybe it was just me......

The greatest value I saw for GK3 was as a meeting place. It brought together a large mix of people together in one venue and was great for networking with folks from across a range of sectors and professions.

Would I attend "GK4"? Most probably, if I can manage it.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

IGF 2007: Emerging Issues session and the need for “IGF for Dummies”

Much was said and debated at this session, and what was said covered a diverse range of issues. One observation: (as one would expect in a multi-stakeholder environment) different groups push different issues from technical to non-technical to social responsibility to policy to something somewhere in-between (and outside!).

Talking to some IGF delegates who were “rookies” and some with non-technical as well technical backgrounds, they do get a bit bewildered/confused about what happens at IGF. I think what is missing is an “IGF for Dummies” session, run just prior to the official IGF start to bring folks up to date, as apart from the usual suspects at IGF there are also a whole bunch of people who tend to walk around in somewhat of a daze from room to room, and who may not see and hear what they thought they would. Some may say this can be done locally/regionally, and whilst this is important, the “IGF for Dummies” session is important for those people who actually end up attending IGF.

IGF 2007: ISOC Visibility @ IGF Rio

This year ISOC was highly visible at IGF (and yes I am happy!). In the “Village Square” ISOC had the premium booth and was pretty much the first thing anyone entering the section saw. The 11 ISOC Ambassadors were given lanyards (good one Kevin) to hold their security IDs and this meant we stood out with our white lanyards with ISOC logos blazing on them. As far as I know, the ISOC Ambassador group has been active in various sessions, manning the ISOC booth, as well as networking and talking to people present here.

Congratulations to ISOC HQ for the initiative, and I hope it was valuable to all concerned.

IGF 2007: Consumer Protection and Data Breach Notification

I was a Panellist for this session on Day 3. When I was first approached to be on this panel, I had some idea of the background surrounding the issue, but only when I read through some of the literature provided by the organisers did I get a real appreciation of how grave the issue is, indeed it is potentially a disaster waiting to happen. When we add the attempts to get the next 1 billion online to the mix, the ramifications are potentially even worse. As Hank Judy pointed out, there is a lot of software out there which is pirated and therefore unlikely to get security updates and these machines are highly susceptible to nasty use and abuse.

This week the EU announced a new proposal for data breach notification, which applies to systems connected to publicly available networks. It goes without saying that the next billion coming online, a majority of which are from the developing world, will face substantial data breach issues as they embrace e-commerce and the use of online technology to effect financial and other transactions. It is possible that in the rush to embrace technology, and in the absence of appropriate legislation, some security measures may be overlooked, paving the way for massive data breaches and possible theft of financial and other information. This adds to my earlier stated security concerns with the next billion coming online. Its not only the next billion online, but also a new billion vulnerable online.

I hope that the IGF pays attention to these wider issues related to Internet development, and more attention is paid to such “under the radar” issues. Kudos to David Satola and Henry (Hank) Judy for organising the session, and its a pity the IGF Secretariat allocated what was a lousy time slot (in the face of numerous open slots published in the agenda). I hope David and Hank continue to work on this for the IGF and further work is done at IGF Delhi and beyond. I also hope that consumer protection issues (related to electronic transactions, storage, etc. in particular) become an important part of national policy formulation in developing and emerging countries. This was also evident by comments from the audience.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

IGF 2007: Governance Frameworks for Critical Internet Resources

I was on the panel for this workshop and though, in my opinion, the theme of the workshop was quite clear, the discussions that ensued got fragmented into a discussion on the old ICANN debate. Of course some do say that the Critical Internet Resources theme is a veil for the old ICANN debate. My final comment on the panel was “The Internet is a dynamic beast and Organisations and debates must also be dynamic in nature. In response to the call for institutional competition for ICANN, I would really like to know how exactly this may be implemented, and I fear this will lead to yet another never-ending debate. I would rather we expend our energies on what already exists and try and make that better, rather than attempting to re-invent the wheel”.

IGF 2007: Dynamic Coalition on Access & Connectivity for Remote, Rural and Dispersed Communities

I was involved in the organisation of this workshop and it turned out to be a rather good session, though we had some logistics problems in the beginning with Videos that did not start playing and microphones that did not work.

The session started with a presentation by Janna Anderson from Imagining the Internet on a survey they carried out at IGF Athens and it was interesting to hear comments that were relevant then, and continue to be relevant now.

This was followed by commentary from Dr. Vint Cerf on some of the Access & Connectivity challenges in different regions and some possible solutions.

Dr Cerf’s comments led into a panel discussion on Digital Inclusion issues and the role Government, Private Sector and Civil Society can play. The Panellists were a diverse group representing Private Sector, Government and Civil Society. Examples of Government-Private Sector success stories were presented by Guillherme Saraiva from Comcast Brazil. We were honoured to have the Hon. Gunnar Hökmark, Member of the European Parliament, on the Panel and he offered some perspectives on the role of Governments in creating enabling environments and the value of regulatory reform. Hakikur Rahman from ISOC Bangladesh represented the Civil Society voice on the Panel, having been involved in ICT development for over 20 years. He presented some perspectives on how Civil Society is also an important part of delivering ICT for development, in particular in rural communities.

The ensuing audience interaction was also very valuable with some great examples being provided of access and connectivity initiatives around the world. One example was of India deploying 100,000 ICT centres for e-Government initiatives, and efforts in the Dominican Republic to introduce computers to village communities which has led to an explosion of computer use with more villagers investing in computing technology. One other comment I found of interest was by Arun Mehta of India who said that technology exists for disabled access to ICT, and this in itself is a practical way in which to provide exposure to ICT for an illiterate population - people may not be able to read and write, but they can speak and understand speech, which is what systems developed for the blind do by delivering an oral version of what is on the screen.

We had a peak headcount of around 85, and this was very encouraging. We hope to further build on the Dynamic Coalition and start planning early for IGF Delhi.

Monday, November 12, 2007

IGF 2007: IGF Delhi 2008 Dates

The dates have been announced by the Indian Delegation as 8th to 11th December in New Delhi, India, and the five themes from this year will continue.

Update: Venue for IGF 2008 is going to be the Taj Palace Hotel

IGF 2007: John Klensin @ Opening Session

We just heard from John Klensin, where he gave a brief overview of Internet development, and emphasised that the problems today are not necessarily all new - they have existed in one form or another for some time. He also stated that multi-lingual content on the Internet has existed for a while (with Japanese Kanji in use since the 1980s), and that criminal elements tend to use technology more efficiently then the rest of the world, and using the Internet for stalking, criminal activity, pornography is just a mere extension of the existing (non-virtual) world. I can’t say I disagree.

IGF 2007: And we are away!

IGF Rio has kicked off!

The usual roll call of guest speakers is ticking along. In the opening session, there was some reference to the old ICANN/DNS Adminstration story, but it was good to see some of the guest speakers picking up on this, and re-stating what the focus of IGF should be, and highlighting that all present should expend their energy on the more pressing global issues such as getting the rest of the world online.

It is also somewhat interesting that a large number of the speakers are stressing on different issues (which collectively equate to the various IGF themes) , and I guess this is based on their priority areas.

In terms of numbers, there appears to be less in the room, then there was at IGF Athens, but people are still arriving.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I, the Domain Name Tasting victim.....

I have recently been a "victim" of the domain name tasting "scam". A domain name (.COM) which is somewhat related to me (which was owned by someone else) expired and as I knew from whois (which is another debate on its own) that the expiry date was coming up, I kept a watch on when it would become available so I could register it. To cut a long story short, it took me nearly 6 weeks to get the domain.

Each type the domain dropped off the 5 day grace period as it is not something that would generate ad revenue, it would be picked up by a different registrant, dropped again, picked up by another and so on. Of course they all had links on the domain's default page inviting me to purchase it for a fee (or I had the option of using a domain registrar's pre-buy service, at a premium over the normal domain registration price). I refused to take up either of these and persisted with my course of action of checking regularly.

After much research and analysis I came to the conclusion that, to get the domain name, I had to try and register at a time when the robots/scripts used by these dodgy registrants had not triggered. I found this time to be around 2 - 3 am West Coast USA time, and thus 6 weeks into my adventure I succeeded in registering the domain at 2:38am.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Getting it not so right

I needed to install a new server, and having thus far run Mandriva on my servers, I stick with it, Mandriva 2007 in this instance. During the install process I get all excited when I see a big splash saying easy to use great system and network backup software free in this edition for upto 50GB of data. I install the server OS, wrestle with upgrades and dependencies for my other applications, finally get everything how i want and need, and then decide, OK time to see how good this new backup thingy is that the Mandriva Install screen was raving about. So I install it, doesnt complain, all looks good, check with the CLI, going well and executable exists, daemon loads and then install the GUI (which is the big rave since its the bees knees, not the usual CLI stuff). I install the GUI package, all is well, and then execute. Bang! Mandriva tells me sorry mate, the Java package you have installed is not compatible with the application you are running. OK, no problem, I install other Java packages, try again, nope, same old same old. Trawl the web and find out that the Mandriva Java package is different from the Sun one and not 100% compatible. Find a sun-compat package, but only for 2006, none for 2007. Do test install and structure is different so no go. So I sit back stare at the command prompt for a while and ask the question, if you know you don't have the necessary and right dependencies/packages to make this work, why rave about it during the install process, and advertise it so loud and clear? Sometimes its things like this that make one lament at good old Windows (shudder?! but I liked NT4) and about Ubuntu and other Linux Distros (which no doubt will have their own set of drama, but that is another story). (sigh!)

Obviously the command prompt said nothing just sat and blinked at me. I am pretty certain I saw a smirk in the blink too......

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Reflections on Bali

Unfortunately I did not have much time to look around Bali. Took a walk to the markets just outside the resort complex (Nusa Dua) and did a bit of a lightning trip to Kuta before catching my plane back. People are generally very friendly and courteous.

The shopping is great, and in the markets a bit of determined bargaining will work wonders to the price. Balinese craftsmanship is exlempary and I only wish I could have taken some of the artefacts and furniture home. Maybe a purchasing trip to Bali to outfit a house/apartment could be really worth it. I like linen clothing and there was some nice stuff I picked up - shirts and the like. A visit to the shopping centres is recommended as well, more expensive than the markets but gives you and idea of pricing. Matahari around Kuta Square is good as is the quite large Centro Discovery Mall facing the beach. There is DVD's galore at ridiculous prices (try around USD 1.50) but they are not exactly the most legit version, much the same goes for software.

Taxis are cheap, but only catch one which uses a meter if you don't want to get ripped off. Ask as soon as you get in to the taxi, and get off if the driver does not agree. There are no shortage of taxis. Stick to ones which are part of large fleets. These are easily identifiable with newer vehicles in good condition, well dressed drivers and lettering on the side doors with phone numbers and company name. I stuck with the Blue Bird Taxis group which worked fine for me.

As you move around Bali, you will likely get approached by many locals giving you a scratch-it ticket. Scratch this and you win a prize they will tell you. Well not exactly, its a bit of a scam to sell you stuff, so avoid them. They can be insistent and say they are not selling you anything and its all free, etc. I took one from one gentleman and gave it to another down the road and said Here, you win this time. You may also come across some asking you to fill in a survey form about your visit to Bali. It's pretty much a different spin on the same scam.

All in all, Bali was not too bad. I did not care much for the beaches, coming from the Pacific Islands that's a given. I do intend to go back one day perhaps and spend a bit more time looking around.

And most importantly, my primary benchmark for a country I visit: Bintang is the local beer, and it ain't too bad either. Best served extra chilled with a skewer of satay or two!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

I've been to Bali too

Well not quite like the Red Gum song, but somewhat close.

I had to organise somewhat of a last minute dash to Bali. After much discussion (over a considerable length of time), there was light at the end of the tunnel with the establishment of APRALO Asia Pacific Regional At Large Organisation, part of ICANN's At Large Advisory Committee. We hoped to sign off on the MOU and Operating Principles and finally get moving with the real work.

There was an impressive turnout with 12 out of 13 ALS' present. After day-long deliberations, we did reach consensus on the MOU and Operating Principles with some 10 of the present ALS' provisionally signing off on the documents, with the others needing to refer back to their Organisations. Progress at last!

We also decided on a timeframe for election of APRALO officers and ALAC Reps, and should finalise this by mid-March or so.

I also managed to (in the limited time I had) attend some of the APRICOT 2007 proceedings. David Meyer's Telecommunications Perfect Storm is worth a look. Vijay Gill's (Google) talk during the APOPS Plenary on How an ISP might attain Tier-1 status was interesting as well, I don't have a link to his presentation though.

We also managed to pull together an ISOC Chapters meeting, which was fruitful. In attendance were Australia, Hong Kong, Japan (who I learned were the first ISOC Chapter to be formed), Pacific Islands and Taiwan. It was good to meet up with old friends and make some new ones.

Friday, January 05, 2007

And Hello! Two Double Oh! Seven

The new year is well and truly here. It was back to work today and straight into the deep end.

So what does 2007 hold? Well, when the Chinese New Year rolls around in a couple of weeks or so, it will be the year of the Pig (and I understand the Fire Pig). As I understand it, based on this, it should be a"fireworks year" with prosperity highlighted, amongst other things.

In the technology world, and in particular the Internet, we will have the second IGF later in the year in Rio. This should be interesting as it will indicate what lies ahead for IGF as an institution. Some say it will most likely be a very political IGF, given its location and so on. Time will tell, let's just hope it does not deteriorate and its real objectives are maintained.

On the ICANN front, this year will see the terms of two people on the Board of Directors (both of whom I know very well and respect) finish their terms. These are Vint Cerf and Alejandro Pisanty. They also happen to serve as Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the ICANN Board respectively. With Vint's departure (this is his second term, and a person normally is only allowed to serve twice) some ask where to now for ICANN?

On the ISOC front, we have an assortment of new staff coming aboard (or have come aboard in the months preceding the new year). Now let's see if these new staff actually deliver on all the promises. I also hope the ISOC presence and visibility at IGF Rio is better than what we had at IGF Athens.

On the IPv6 front, we intend to run the first IPv6 Summit later this year. The Advisory Panel for the IPv6 Forum Pacific Islands is just about done and we expect to announce later this month. IPv6 uptake remains slow though, and I don't see this changing this year.

I am also working on a host of other projects and initiatives and you will hear about them right here on this fine channel as they progress.

On the home front, Fiji has a new Prime Minister (interim though) and let's hope the country can just get on with it, instead of dwelling on the past and could-haves and would-haves.

On the sports front, the Poms have been hammered in the Ashes, and I expect the ODI will go much the same! The Rugby World Cup is scheduled for later in the year in France and that should be all fun (and I am told it is already next to impossible to get hotel bookings for that period).

And should not a James Bond movie have been released this year? After all its Two 007! Well OK, maybe 2 should have been released this year....

Best wishes for a safe, prosperous and fun 2007!!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Farewell to Two-Oh-Oh-Six

final 2006 sunset in fiji

2006 is over and done with and it has been an interesting year in all respects. I was going to do a recap.............but here is a picture instead.

This is what sunset looked like at the Coral Coast in Fiji just before it started dipping over the horizon.

Best wishes for the new year!