Elliott C. Back: Internet & Technology

MPAA Needs No Evidence To Sue You

Posted in bit torrent,bittorrent,Copyright,DMCA,iPhone,iPod,P2P by Elliott Back on June 30th, 2008.

The following remark was made by Marie. L. van Uitert, MPAA attorney in the Jammie Thomas trial. She wrote in a brief:

It is often very difficult, and in some cases, impossible, to provide such direct proof when confronting modern forms of copyright infringement, whether over P2P networks or otherwise; understandably, copyright infringers typically do not keep records of infringement. Mandating that proof could thus have the pernicious effect of depriving copyright owners of a practical remedy against massive copyright infringement in many cases.

The rest of the brief goes on to list the reasons why the MPAA feels it should not have to meet the full burden of proof in its case (i.e. proving actual distribution). For them, the existence of a location where the copyright material could be copied is sufficient grounds for prosecution. When you take this off the internet, this is equivalent to suing some for 12 * $150,00 for loaning someone a CD they later copied.

For more coverage, see Wired and TorrentFreak.

April Fool’s Day 2008 Collection

Posted in Holiday by Elliott Back on April 1st, 2008.

Last year I wrote a post detailing April Fool’s day pranks in 2007 around the web that was both funny and well received, so this year I’m going to do it again! Let’s start with the worst, political humour:

The goons at Editorial Cartoonists sure know how to make a point

Next Blizzard Entertainment is porting World of Warcraft to the console with their new title, Molten Core:

Yeah, it’s for the Atari 2600 console. ROCK ON!

“Blizzard got its start in console gaming, and we’ve always been excited about returning to this arena,” stated Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. “Additionally, we’ve wanted to reintroduce the 40-player raid dungeon experience for some time. With World of Warcraft: The Molten Core, we’re able to do both.”

Another treat from Blizzard is the Tauren Marine from Starcraft 2:


While most tauren were satisfied with their agrarian culture and primitive existence, the Confederacy was able to lure away large numbers of young bulls for a life of adventure and violence along the galactic rim. Other tauren referred to these adventurers as ‘mad cows,’ and they were ostracized from the rest of their kine.

Finally, Blizzard gives a new Class for World of Warcraft, the Bard. Endowed with the power of music, he hits awesome riffs and combos for extra damage!

A nice touch is the upside down “axe” as guitar

Armed with a trusty axe, killer riffs, and a ton of attitude, the guitar-wielding bard is the second hero class to be introduced in the upcoming Wrath of the Lich King expansion for World of Warcraft. The bard excels both as a solo performer and as part of a solid group lineup, able to front in a number of roles as varied as his musical repertoire.

YouTube did the unthinkable, and Rickrolled everyone who visited one of their featured videos. So, there have been over 3,707,338 visits to Rick Astley-Never Gonna Give You Up so far today:

Come on, even if you goatse.cx’d them it wouldn’t be that funny

Our friends at Google went nuts today, dropping literally dozens of April fools jokes. Here are the highlights. If you go to Google Documents and create a new document, you can click File, then “New Airplane:”

This is adorable!

Additionally, there’s an “I’m feeling lucky” button on the Calendar which adds random hot dates to your schedule, archiving of pop-up and scratch and sniff books, Virgle, a manned mars station, and the ability to send GMail email in the future … or the past:


Our researchers have concluded that allowing each person more than ten pre-dated emails per year would cause people to lose faith in the accuracy of time, thus rendering the feature useless.

Adsense for real life is hilarious

Adsense for Conversations: “a new type of monetization solution that “puts the ‘context’ in contextual advertising”. Now, in just a few simple steps, you can begin displaying ads that are relevant to the topics you’re discussing — in an unobtrusive screen above your head.”

Computer nerd stuff retailer Think Geek has some skippable April Fool’s Products, including a peeing simulation for the wii, a usb pregnancy test, and caffeine cereal. Yeah, you didn’t miss anything there. On the other hand, the Pirate Bay is moving to Sinai, Egypt. Meanwhile, even the world’s largest criminal computer hackers running the Storm Worm sent out some April 1st spam:

Yet no 0day for the lulz. Lucky us!

Not surprisingly, Anil Dash gets anal about April Fool’s day jokes, declaring “your April Fool’s Day joke sucks.” He’s right about Techcrunch’s “we’re suing Facebook” joke that just makes Michael Arrington, the founder and editor of the blog, look like a massive jerk.

Those are the big highlights, but for more, please check out Wikipedia’s April 1, 2008 entry. It’s full of more links than I could ever gather, read, or take screenshots of!

Bandwidth & Connections Limiting: A How To Guide for Linux

Posted in bit torrent,bittorrent,Code,Computers & Technology,My Blog,Performance,Scalability by Elliott Back on June 20th, 2006.

I wanted to host for my brother the latest WoW patch, but at a hefty 450 MB, I didn’t want to blow all my bandwidth on it either. I am setting a limit for the download at 2.5 TB of bandwidth, and limiting it to 5mbs at 10 connections a second. My hardware is RHEL 4 running on a P4 with Plesk 8. In the guide to follow, you’ll see a few steps that wouldn’t be needed on a non-plesk system. To setup bandwidth limiting for the host, we need to be able to compile a new apache module against our system, and then install and configure it.

Step 1: The prereqs

First I needed to setup a yum repository for FC4. This can be accomplished by issuing an RPM command:

rpm -ivh rpm.livna.org/livna-release-4.rpm

Now that you can access the RPM packages, we need to install http-devel using yum:

yum install httpd-devel

If all went well, we can now extract, compile, and install mod_cband for apache:

cd /tmp
wget cband.linux.pl/download/mod-cband-
tar xzvf mod-cband-
cd mod-cband-
make install

If all went well, restart apache with the new module (you can check httpd.conf to make sure the module is going to be loaded):

/etc/init.d/httpd restart

Step 2: Configuration

Here’s where the Plesk part gets annoying. We can’t just edit our vhosts file, because plesk writes over it all the time. Instead, we edit a /home/httpd/vhosts/*/subdomains/*/conf/vhost.conf file. Mine looks like this:

CBandScoreboard /var/www/scoreboard
CBandPeriod 4W
CBandDefaultExceededCode 509
CBandLimit 2500G
CBandSpeed 5000 5 10
CBandRemoteSpeed 1600 3 1
<Location /cband-status>
SetHandler cband-status
<Location /cband-status-me>
SetHandler cband-status-me

What does this mean? (1) Use /var/www/scoreboard to log usage and limits (2) Reset the limit count every 4 weeks (3) Throw a 509 error when the limits are exceeded (4) Allow 2.5TB per period (5) Allow 5mbs with 5 requests a second and 10 connections at a time oeverall (6) Allow 1.6mbs with 3 requests a second and 1 connections at a time per client (7) Allow us to access a page at /cband-status to view the status.

You’ll also need to issue commands to make the scoreboard directory, and to allow apache to own it:

mkdir /var/www/scoreboard
chown apache:apache /var/www/scoreboard

Finally, Plesk requires you to inform it of your work:

/usr/local/psa/admin/sbin/websrvmng -u --vhost-name=yourdomain.com

If you restart Apache now, everything should work!

/etc/init.d/httpd restart

Step 3: An Example

You can take a peek at my status page right now if you’d like. It looks a bit like this:


Update: Fixed a little formatting.

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