Monday, June 18, 2007

This blog has moved

There's an idiom in the software industry: "eating your own dog-food". If you've built some software, it's not right to ask other people to use if you don't. Hence, I've moved my blog to Qatar Journal.

Every user of Qatar Journal can have a blog on the site, so if you'd like one, you need to visit the signup page, choose a username, enter your email address (twice) and click 'Create Account'. Users can also choose to receive a nightly summary of all the local news headlines.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Is Qtel a bit simple?

I've been banned from QatarLiving. I'm sure the ban wasn't intentional, but I've been banned nonetheless. This morning, it was obvious that QatarLiving discussions were being attacked by someone with the intent of disruption. There was some speculation about who was responsible. Eventually, someone at the website banned the IP address of the attacker.

Unfortunately, Qtel employs a few Internet filters, and everyone behind a particular filter has the same public IP address. Thus, a system which is meant to make the web safer for Qatar's surfers has rendered one of the most popular discussion sites in Qatar completely inaccessible. This has happened before, of course. At the beginning of the year, Wikipedia saw a fair amount of abuse coming from a single IP address, and blocked the entire country from anonymous posting. It's not as if people don't know a solution to these problems - it's just that no one at Qtel is willing to make the fix.

Setting up a decent filtering proxy should be trivial, but Qtel's implementation masks users' true IP addresses from the sites they visit, and restricts the ability of site operators to punish abusers. How simple is Qtel? I'd say it's plain stupid.