Life, Teams, and Software Engineering

Category: Life (page 1 of 2)

Data Ownership in The Cloud

There has been a lot of conversation recently regarding the consequences of leaving your data in the cloud (see this), but it is hardly a new topic (this, and this). The thing that sets the Megaupload case described in the linked EFF article apart is that the Government, or at least this particular Agency, has opined that unless you store your data on infrastructure that you own yourself that it is no longer your property.  I’m not a lawyer and I’m not going to pretend to be one, but while their argument may have legal grounds depending on the terms and conditions of the services in question, it definitely has no moral ground and really none based on precedent already made in other property rights cases.

  • If I create something and attach it to an email in Gmail and send it to someone, does Google now own that?
  • If I’m an author and write my book on Google Docs, does Google own it?
  • If I store source code in Github does Github own it?  Github’s hosting provider?

To be fair, Google clearly states that data stored in Google Apps is not owned by them (here), but would that stop a Federal agency who decided there was something to be found?  I’d like to think so, but the world is far from perfect.

If the answer to any of the above questions is yes, then the answer to all of them must be yes, and vice versa.  It’s past time that the we explicitly define property rights as they pertain to content stored on the Internet.  Since Congress isn’t accomplishing much I think it falls to the service providers to make it very clear to their customers what content they own, and what content they don’t.  They must also decide that warrants will be required to gain access to user data (that isn’t already publicly available, ala Twitter or Blogger), rather than making “strategic” business decisions that allow Federal Agencies to access the data just to avoid possible legal headaches.  I have no evidence that this is actually happening, but I can’t imagine that such proposals have not been made or at least considered.

Residents who lease property are afforded the same Fourth Amendment protections on the leased premises as people who own their residence (lien or not).  Your landlord cannot give the authorities access while you are in good standing and even then not without a warrant.  It’s simply not their permission to give.  Should this same concept not transfer to services on the web?  You may not own the actual container in either case, but it doesn’t change the fact that you own the contents.

Coincidentally the first commenter on the third link above makes the same connection between data stored on the cloud and papers or other materials stored in your apartment.

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Open Doors

I have left one great team at Booz Allen for another at Rough Stone Software.  In October I made the difficult decision to leave my team at Booz Allen for Rough Stone, a growing consulting company in Pittsburgh.  It will be a pretty big shift in technology from working primarily with native desktop applications in C and C++ to Web Development and new business domains in .NET, but I’ll manage.  At the very least I know the Booz Allen core values will stick with me.  I hope to have the opportunity to not only contribute technically but also to lead and help Rough Stone and our client’s businesses grow into the future.

At Rough Stone our mission is no different than what I’m used to: help our clients get value creating products to market as quickly as possible and with as little waste as possible.  Great partners are always working as if they will be replaced tomorrow.  This requires transparency, honesty, and a treatment of time (and by extension money) as if it was your own.  This is what separates great partners from someone just out to bill hours and even from other, just good, partners.  It goes against basic instincts to work this way but it’s a requirement in order to maintain good business relationships and build a brand centered not on just technical excellence, but integrity.

I hope that by having more regular access to technology like most people in the world that I’ll be able to write more regularly, if as nothing more than an escape.  I’ll probably end up going “off topic” more regularly to touch on other topics that interest me in order to post more regularly.  Then again, that has been said every year for the last several so only time will tell.

Stay tuned.

First Real Test for Net Neutrality?

First, read this.

Is this the first instance of an access provider giving preferential treatment to data based solely on where it originates?  Is removing the limitation of an arbitrary bandwidth cap truly “preferential” or a legitimate business decision?

Now I admit that Comcast claims this is on their “internal networks” and so this is why it won’t count towards bandwidth limits, but I’m willing to bet that it costs the same to maintain the equipment it travels on no matter where the bits are coming or going.  I’m also willing to bet that the route the data follows is 99% the same as data coming from a service like Netflix on the “real internet” (granted with less “distance” to travel).

I’m sure their argument could still be made, however, but at the end of the day it’s a fine line.  What’s to stop them from standing up their own version of another bandwidth intensive service like Spotify, iTunes, Pinterest or Backblaze and giving preferential treatment to their version?  Granted, these hardly consume the bandwidth video streaming services like Netflix consume (as of today), but at what point does such a practice become anti-competitive?

I suppose since they’re not actively targeting traffic coming from a service like Netflix or Backblaze (e.g. through throttling or reduced quality of service) that they’re not really doing anything wrong?  But again, where is the line?

Either way, bad news for Netflix and possibly any other number of media streaming or bandwidth-heavy services.  Maybe Netflix should get with Verizon to open a similar door on their networks.

New Digs!

It’s been quite some time since I’ve done anything substantial with my blog so I decided to centralize all my web presence.  As I’m sure you’ve already noticed I have a totally new layout that should be more readable and more friendly overall.  You’ll also notice that we’re now at my domain, bakermatt.com.  That sure was a fun time with Blogger, let me tell you.

To my left I have my various ‘social networks’ listed with Github, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.  Above I have some of my more useful projects listed as well as my resume 2.0 in various forms at re.vu and about.me.  I’ve also integrated Disqus for comments and overall conversation/social integration.  Way better than the built in Blogger comment engine.

I’ll have some more on topic content over the next couple days and hopefully I can gain some momentum with writing again.

Template Messed Up

Ya, so my template is messed up.  Apparently backing up and restoring your template in Blogger doesn’t guarantee that it will restore exactly as you left it.  I’ll get to it soon enough, along with some actual content since it’s been forever and a half since I posted anything.

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