Now pull the other one

Was hoping to use Skype to communicate from HK, but this article has put its integrity in doubt — didn’t know it was made by the Kazaa people, either:

My friend Google tells me that Skype is apparently reading from the BIOS on certain Windows machines, glad I do not run Windows or let it onto my network! But what is the story here? Aha, Skype uses the BIOS information to identify specific machines, perhaps to limit connections, perhaps for something else, Skype doesn’t say.

Google also tells me that Skype seriously obscures its code (.pdf). Why? What do they have to hide? Maybe this is to be expected from a company that ran roughshod over copyright law when they built Kazaa. Even Skype’s CEO, is afraid to set foot in the US for fear of being immediately arrested upon arrival. I guess money can’t buy you everything can it Niklas Zennerström? No Disney World vacations for you!

On a serious note Skype, why not open up a little? Let us know what you are doing on our computers. Start by answering these simple questions;

1. Does Skype contain backdoors or Malware?

2. How can we know without just taking your word? You only provide a “black box” which is impossible to see inside. You are purposely vague about what you do with the information from the BIOS you obtain.

3. Can I refuse to become a SuperNode? (SuperNode = no firewall + fast cpu + lots of bandwdth. This is one of the reasons why many universities ban Skype, because universities often have computers on their network that become SuperNodes.)

Until I get more information, I am going to apt-get [sic?] remove skype and send to to the trash on my Apple machines. I will stick with my Apple tools and things available under the GPL, at least that is software I can trust.

My plan’s to get the next revision of the MacBook in HK (it’s about 10% cheaper there too, thanks to currency weakness). This should be around April or May, I think. I can run iChat then. Even MSN, finally, perhaps. See how.

Meanwhile, have been doing laundry and random packing — if all goes well, the movers will arrive sometime next week to pack the books and whatnot, and I’ll be all set. The cold dread grows, but is slowly turning tepid.

And now, for something a little timely:

Signs of hope may lie in the steely scientific consensus on the human origins of climate change and in the increasing recognition by big business that something must be done — a message that major corporations are transmitting clearly to the White House.But the major stumbling block remains the President’s Office itself.

While Congress moves steadily greenwards, America’s policy remains dictated by a knot of advisers in the White House Council on Environmental Quality with close links to the oil industry. It is not yet clear whether they will attend this week’s meeting.


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