Some Trinidad and Tobago Computer Society website updates…..and a look back at 20 years online.

Not accurate depiction of new web host (screenshot of the TTCS website in 1999)

Over the past few weeks, the TTCS has transitioned to a new web host. One of the key benefits and goals was to implement https:// ( Read from Google why https:// is important) instead of http:// throughout the site.

A challenge to implement https:// throughout was a large number of passive mixed content affecting (350+ links) according to https://www.missingpadlock.com/, due to content (images, documents) still being served from ttcs.wordpress.com when we were using wordpress.com as a blog off the static ttcsweb.org website from around 2007 to 2010/11. Also (over 600 crawl errors were detected due to broken links from web content spanning 20+ years online with links from ttcsweb.org.

So over the past three  weeks, a lot of post re-editing was done to ensure that the online website history of the TTCS from 1995 to now is now fully within our  WordPress CMS. In going through this excercise, I thought I’ll share some history of how the TTCS was “on the web” since 1997.

History of TTCS online

1997-1999

We used http://www.opus.co.tt/ttcs/ thanks to Opus Networx. We started with a two versions of the site, a framed and non framed version.

1999

Around 1999, we eliminated the framed version in favour of the non framed version.

Internet Archive link of opus.co.tt/ttcs from April 2009

1999 – ttcsweb.org used

At the end of 1999, we decided on getting ttcsweb.org which was donated by Opus Networx. The first design went like this :

Internet Archive link of ttcsweb.org circa Sept 2000

end of 2000 – redesign of ttcsweb.org

Using more colour schemes! This was still using tables for layout

Internet Archive link of ttcsweb.org circa 2000

2002 – redesign of ttcsweb.org

The redesign of the main page went live on April 6th, 2002 used CSS instead of HTML tables or Javascript for layout.

2003

In October 2003, the site was redesigned again

Internet Archive Link of ttcsweb.org in 2003

This core design which validated as HTML v4.01 strict stayed with ttcsweb.org until 2011. We started paying for web hosting around 2005 and still do to this day

All of these previous versions were static HTML files, meaning no content management system like WordPress or Drupal was used. Just creating and editing HTML files directly and using FTP to upload to the web server.

Notepad was the key editor used to edit the html files up to 1998-1999 under Windows 3.x, but in the Win98SE days from 1998 to 2002, a editor called xEdit was used with provided syntax highlighting and the ability to edit multiple files via a tabbed notebook UI. Under Windows XP, Programmer’s Notepad was used and around 2010 or so, used Notepad++.

Around 2004, a program called a HTML preprecessor called PPWIZARD was used to generate the html files from text files around 2004 which aided in reusing code snippets throughout the site.

We experimented with blogger in 2004 in preparation for a 2004 tech meeting, but didn’t continue using it.

In 2006, a wiki at Pbwiki was created to allow for members to collaborate on content and in 2007 a “blog” at wordpress.com (ttcs.wordpress.com) was added at to allow for easier posting and subscribing to updates.

Which helped somewhat but then this created challenges of having content scattered over multiple platforms and that TTCS content was not under one domain name. The website had been designed without concepts of mobile or responsive web design so a redesign again was needed.

Hence the moves to move content to WordPress from 2011 first under cs.tt and now ttcs.tt. This was indeed a laborious process, especially for the static files which required manual creation of category posts and pages to be created and copy and paste. And copy and paste. And copy and paste. And editing. And editing. 🙂

As part of the migration to the new host for ttcs.tt, we’ve removed the ttcs.wordpress.com, pbwiki content and the static files from ttcsweb.org so that all of the content will be findable under ttcs.tt. http://ttcsweb.org/ and http://cs.tt redirects to ttcs.tt.

Having said that, we are using the default theme. Anyone wishing to help come up with a improved theme, please contact the TTCS at [email protected] .

(Update : 27 Sept 2016 – expanded discussion of text editors used to code the website and expanded on what PPWIZARD did. )

 

Cybercrime Bill 2017

The Cybercrime Bill 2017 was introduced in the House of Representatives by the Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago Honourable Faris Al-Rawi on May 6 2017.

The purpose of the Cybercrime Bill, 2017 is to provide for the creation of offences related to cybercrime and for other related matters in Trinidad and Tobago and if passed would repeal the Computer Misuse Act 2000

View/Download:

 

 

Password Tips for Kids (and Adults)

Kids are online all the time and many of the sites they use require accounts with passwords. For  2017, here are some tips for kids to help them keep their passwords safe. These apply to adults as well!

Don’t use anything that others can guess about you like your name or your birthday. The best passwords are ones that are hard to figure out.

Mix it up. Good passwords use a combination of letters, numbers and symbols. You can even substitute symbols for letters like using $ instead of an S.

Use a different password for each site. This way, if someone guesses your password on one site, they won’t have access to information on all of the sites you use.

Don’t let anyone know your password (except your parents). Your parents are the only ones who should know your passwords. Don’t tell anyone else, even your friends.

Always log out. When you are using a computer or other device that your share with others, you should always log out after you are done.

Don’t write your password down and leave it in a place where others can see it. A password should be easy to remember but hard to guess. If you have to write your password down, make sure to keep it in a safe place where only you can get it.

ICT-related Laws and Policies in Trinidad and Tobago

These series of posts on the Trinidad and Tobago Computer Society’s website documents the various Information and Communication Technology (ICT) related laws and policies that have been introduced and/or proposed in Trinidad and Tobago either in the Trinidad and Tobago Parliament or by various Government ministries, and the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT) since 1999.

The Trinidad and Tobago Computer Society has commented on many of these policies and links to our comments have also been provided.

Furthermore. we have also linked to local copies of policies that have disappeared with the removal and/or redesign of government websites over time.

ICT Related Laws and Policies sorted by Year

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2006

2005

2004

2003

2001

2000

How laws are passed in Trinidad and Tobago

(This is a layperson’s understanding of the process. A lot of information was obtained from the Trinidad and Tobago Parliament’s website.)

Laws are introduced and passed in the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago which consists of the President of Trinidad and Tobago and two bodies, a House of Representatives and a Senate. The House of Representatives has forty one (41) elected representatives of the constituencies in Trinidad and Tobago. The Senate has 31 senators appointed by the President, sixteen on the advice of the Prime Minister ; six on the advice of the Leader of the Opposition; and nine Independents appointed by the President.

Proposed laws are introduced in either in the House of Representatives or in the Senate as a Bill (Note: certain types of Bills known as “Money Bills” cannot be introduced in the Senate) . The Bill is debated and after a vote, is passed with or without amendments. This Bill (as passed) is then introduced in the other chamber of Parliament where it is similarly debated, possibly amended and voted on.

If there are no amendments to the Bill in the second chamber, then the Bill is passed.

If there are amendments to the Bill in the second chamber, the amendments have to be voted by the chamber where the Bill was first introduced.

Once the Bill in its final form has been approved by both the House of Representatives and the Senate, the Bill as passed becomes an Act. Depending on the the legislation, the Act comes into effect on the Date of Assent, and/or when proclaimed by the President.

 

Articles

Here are several miscellaneous computer related articles, opinions and essays by fellow TTCS members. If you wish to contribute an article, email us at [email protected]

Note : Any opinions expressed by contributors are not necessarily that of the TTCS.


 

Trinidad and Tobago Tech Groups and Email lists

ICT-related Laws and Policies in Trinidad and Tobago

Computer Suppliers in Trinidad and Tobago

All Purpose Windows troubleshooting and upgrading USB or DVD drive

History of Bulletin Board Systems (BBSes) in Trinidad and Tobago

Rules for the TTCS discussion list

Trinidad and Tobago Wi-Fi hotspots

History of the Society of Computer Users (SCU) from 1990 to 1996

Interview with the TTNIC administrator

Windows XP Service Pack 2

Year 2000

 

 

 

 

TTCS comments on “Towards the Treatment of Over The Top (OTT) services” policy document submitted to Telecom Authority of Trinidad and Tobago

tatt-pdf-image-of-towards-the-treatment-of-ott-services

 

The Trinidad and Tobago Computer Society (TTCS ; http://ttcs.tt/) has submitted its comments on the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT) document “Towards the treatment of Over The Top Services”

The TTCS comments can be viewed at TTCS-comments-on-TATT-Towards-the-treatment-of-OTT-services-public-July20-2015 (PDF ; 369K)

A general comment:

“For the past two decades, TATT has presided over a telecommunications sector which has experienced significant and ongoing growth for all commercial actors. The TATT “light touch” approach is one of the main factors contributing to the success of the sector. The status quo, as facilitated by TATT, should be maintained as the market can and will continue to innovate in the provision of value added services as it has already done for the benefit of clients, consumers, service providers and the country as a whole.

The TTCS fears that any change in the status quo *at the present time* will lead to a stifling of innovation and lead to significantly reduced domestic competition overall.

The treatment of Over The Top (OTT) services is *fundamentally* a Network Neutrality (NN) issue. Once the Telecommunications Authority makes a final decision on where it stands
regarding NN/zero rating of services, its way forward on topics such as OTT becomes much less complex and simple to execute. Over the top services (OTT) can be broad enough to
apply to any service provided over the Internet as a whole, or any future network. If TATT is to consider competition described by providers as “unfair,” then Zero Rated services should also be considered by the Authority in greater detail.

Attempting to make a final decision on OTT without any final decision on NN issues may needlessly complicate the country’s future regulatory landscape, and create precedents
which may limit future regulatory agility and sector innovation and growth. One of the realities of a competitive marketplace is that service providers must innovate constantly or else perish.

The TTCS believes that any regulator should have no vested interest in stifling future sources of innovation in order to preserve revenue streams for service providers. More significantly, any request by service providers that TATT *must* intervene in the regulatory environment in order  to mitigate any loss or potential loss of revenue as a result of technological changes in the sector misunderstands the responsibility of a regulator for the entire sector, and not just one part of it. Increased and differentiated competition and innovation in the telecoms space is to be encouraged, not stifled.

The Trinidad and Tobago Cyber Security Agency Bill, 2015

The Trinidad and Tobago Cyber Security Agency Bill, 2015 was introduced as the same time as the Cybercrime Bill 2015 by the Minister of National Security Brigadier General Carlton Alfonso on May 1 2015.

It seeks to establish a the Trinidad and Tobago Cyber Security Agency (TTCSA) to act as a national point of contact for all cyber security related concerns and other related matters. The functions of the TTCSA are to:

(a) act as the national point of contact for all cyber security related matters;

(b) establish a national computer incident response team to be known as the “Trinidad and Tobago Cyber Security Incident Response Team” (hereinafter referred to as “TT-CSIRT”);

(c) refer matters to the police, where evidence of an offence under the  Cybercrime Act, 2015 comes to its knowledge;

(d) prepare, review and update periodically and in any event at least annually, a national cyber security strategy and prepare such plans as are necessary for the successful implementation of such strategy;

(e) collaborate with the relevant public body in the collection of relevant information which would facilitate the analysis of current and emerging risks, including those risks which could produce an impact on the resilience and availability of data communications networks and on the authenticity, integrity
and confidentiality of the information accessed and transmitted through such
networks;

(f) provide advice on cyber security related matters, including situational awareness information, to the Minister, the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service or such other competent national bodies as are necessary;

(g) enhance cooperation between different actors operating in the field of cybersecurity by holding consultations with, interalia, various industries, universities, public sector bodies and private sector and civil society bodies;

(h) contribute to the awareness raising, and the availability of, current, objective and comprehensive information on cybersecurity by, inter alia, promoting exchanges of current best practices, including methods of alerting users and facilitating cooperation and collaboration between public and private sector initiatives.

(i) develop and publish standards for products and services on cyber security;

(j) establish and publish baseline cyber security requirements and standards for
various sectors including operators of critical infrastructures;
(k) conduct research and development in the area of cyber security and identify critical research and development needs, gaps and emerging trends for future research;

(l) promote the development of training and education programmes including the accreditation and certification of cyber security academic programmes;

(m) advise the Minister on research in the area of cyber security as well as on the effective use and adoption of risk preventative technologies;

(n) promote risk assessment activities, interoperable risk management solutions and studies on cyber security management solutions within public and private sector bodies;

(o) collaborate with the relevant public body in the provision of educational guidelines to the national community, as to the appropriate use of the national network infrastructure;

(p) establish internal and joint procedures between the public and private sectors  to manage the incidents and mitigate the threats associated with them;

(q) provide appropriate strategic insights to policy and decision-makers and public bodies in order to strengthen the national network infrastructure;

(r) develop a National Cyber Security Contingency Plan;

(s) coordinate cyber security exercises; and

(t) express independently its own conclusions and orientations and give advice on matters within its scope and objectives.

The Bill lapsed with the end of the Parliamentary session on June 17 2015.

 

 

 

 

Cybercrime Bill 2015

The Cybercrime Bill 2015 and the Trinidad and Tobago Cyber Security Agency Bill 2015 were introduced in the House of Representatives by the Minister of National Security Brigadier General Carlton Alfonso on May 1 2015.

The Cybercrime Bill 2015 seeks “to provide for the creation of offences related to cybercrime and related matters” and if passed would repeal the Computer Misuse Act 2000

The key changes between the Cybercrime Bill 2014 and the Cybercrime Bill 2015 were:

  • the penalties were adjusted for the various cybercrime offences
  • Clause 17 in the 2014 bill re: creating the offence of child pornography through the use of ICT was removed in the Cybercrime 2015 bill

However, the Cybercrime Bill 2015 lapsed with the end of the Parliamentary session on June 17 2015.

 

 

Trinidad & Tobago Computer Society Statement to Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad & Tobago on the proposed acquisition of Columbus International by Cable & Wireless Communications

cable&columbus

Trinidad & Tobago Computer Society (TTCS) Statement to the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago
on the proposed
acquisition of Columbus International by
Cable and Wireless Communications.

This comment is submitted by the Trinidad and Tobago Computer Society (TTCS ; http://cs.tt ) in response to the request for comments on the proposed acquisition of Columbus International Inc.(CII) by Cable and Wireless Communications (CWC)  published by the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT) on January 5th, 2015. The TTCS has commented on various ICT issues over the past decade as it relates to the interests of end users.

The proposed acquisition can lead to high ownership concentrations in the provision of voice and broadband Internet services throughout the Caribbean as well as in subsea fiber connections. This acquisition may also reduce the probability of healthy competition in mobile telephony services in some jurisdictions. The concerns with the proposed merger between the parties (absent speculation on changes in corporate allegiance) revolves around five main pillars:

  • Potential decrease in market efficiency (competition vs effective duopoly/oligopoly – more benefits to firms rather than consumers);
  • Reduced consumer options for voice and broadband internet services (with an effective CWC/CII and Digicel duopoly);
  • Higher cost of voice and broadband Internet services (concentration of market power among fewer firms);
  • Reduced quality of service in voice and broadband Internet services (common with a concentration of market power among fewer firms);
  • A potential underserving of remote or otherwise ‘less-profitable’ areas by the new corporate entity, and
  • An increase in corporate compliance issues (arising out of the attitude of a merged CWC/CII towards consumers, employees and government regulators, based on experience and past local and regional attempts to “game” the regulators by CWC imposing additional charges and changing service terms).

Ultimately, the TTCS sees the proposed merger as having the potential to reverse two decades of progress in liberalizing the local telecommunication sector and that residential, business and government consumers may lose many of the benefits of competition.

Furthermore, the TTCS notes with concern that TATT has only allowed for a one week comment period on this complex issue. We believe that extending this comment period as well as increased advertising would increase the participation of the general public in this critical decision.

Government Laptop ‘Spyware’

A father whose daughter is the recipient of a government-issued laptop has reportedly uncovered ‘spyware’ on the computer, according to a recent article published in the Trinidad Guardian.

Julien Dedier has stated that while searching for malware on his daughter’s computer, he discovered that it was taking pictures using the in-built camera and transmitting them to an undisclosed location.

If the computer was used at all by Mr. Dedier or his daughter prior to the spyware being found, we must consider the possibility that it was inadvertently installed through normal usage – browsing of the internet and downloading of music and games for example.

It is also possible that the anti-theft software installed on the laptops might, in fact, be the ‘spyware’ in question, and it may have been triggered to legitimately start sending location and image data automatically as part of its normal operation in response to what it may have perceived as a theft situation.

While TTCS does not condone any unnecessary breach of privacy by the Government through these laptops, many questions remain unanswered about this matter, and we urge the authorities to investigate thoroughly and respond by informing the public of the outcome of the investigation.

UPDATE 01: Response from the Minister of Education: http://www.trinidadexpress.com/news/Nothing-wrong-with-laptops-274038691.html

Ryan Shripat