Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Information world

Tredegarville School held its Harvest Festival this morning, and I attended to say a prayer and give the blessing at the end. It was good to see that it was given a dimension of global social justice by some of the content about haves and have-nots. Even at primary school level with such an international constitutency of pupils, this is an important dimension of the learning agenda.

I went on from there to celebrate Mass at St German's as Fr Roy Doxsey was away, and went from thence to St John's for the midday Eucharist. I was expecting someone to turn up afterwards, who had emailed a request for counselling, but they didn't show up, so I went over to the City Centre Management office to pick up more copies of the publicity leaflets about the free shuttle bus that's going to link all the central bus stop nodes. I was unable to acquire sufficient leaflets at yesterday's meeting to cater for all the worshippers, weekday and Sunday, whom I'll see between now and the bus' public launch next week, so I walked over to get some.

Walking down Westgate Street, munching a pork pie as I went, I heard a voice call out faintly after me from a table of drinkers outside the pub. As this is far from unusual, I tend to ignore it when it happens, not least when I'm lunching on the move. Half an hour later, I returned to church, to find a man sitting on the front bench. One of the volunteers helping set up the 'Cards for Good Causes' shop in the north aisle said that the man had come in looking for a priest to talk to. We met as he was about to leave, told me his story and asked if I would pray with him. It was the man outside the pub. Well, it was a lot easier to pray with him in church that outside the pub. Pubs and clubs have never been a strong point in my ministry, I must confess.

I had a courtesy call from TalkTalk when I got home, and I was able to report that all was now OK. The caller explained that they didn't openly publicise the routine for getting one's access key allocation modified when a user changed computer, because this was capable of abuse. As the logging system couldn't identify the specific computers covered by the product license, any key exchange routine had to involve a help-line call to confirm identity and circumstance. This would prevent a user deploying the software on multiple computers in excess of the three specified.

Given the sophisticated nature of F-Secure's product, that response surprised me. Internet linked routers can identify the unique identity (the MAC address) of all computers connected to them, in use at any time. It wouldn't be impossible for this information to be accessed without compromising the security of any computer on that network - but for all I know doing so may be legally questionable, too difficult or too expensive to administer.

This brave new world of the age of information is nothing if not complex.

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