It’s been a while since I’ve given you an update, so here goes: Next week I’ll be looking at developing a whole new service for communications. For now, however, it’s more on what I’ve been doing for our top secret project (which anybody has been able to find out about, we invited people to focus groups about but nobody showed up, and which you’ll hear more about from just about everybody very shortly) – LUNA.

LUNA stands for Lincoln University Network Access, which we know is technically incorrect because Lincoln University is either in Nebraska or New Zealand but it sounds cool. It’s the nickname for a huge set of updates to the workings of the network access controller which is responsible for connecting people in University accommodation to the internet. You know, the thing which asks you for your username and password and sometimes dumps you into the mysterious quarantine.

Over the past week or so I’ve been patiently dismantling a copy of all the webpages you see and re-assembling them into something a bit more user friendly. The big changeover will happen over the Christmas break, and here’s what you can expect to see:

The first thing most people will spot is that the webpages look a bit more refined around the edges, are written in less technical terms, take a more step-by-step approach to getting you through problems and are generally easier to get around.

The next big change for most people will be that we’re going to turn on scanning for all kinds of things, forcing your computer to be up to date and secure before you can get online. You will be required to have an up-to-date operating system (with critical and security patches and the latest service packs), an up-to-date anti-virus package (even Mac users) and an up-to-date anti-malware package. At this point I can hear people screaming “I don’t want you to scan my computer!”, so this is my attempt to assuage your fears. We’re not scanning the contents of your computer – all that happens is you download an application which runs a set of tests for either specific files or specific registry entries. When it’s done looking for things (you’ll note that at no point does it look inside things) it tells the network servers the results and then closes. It leaves no trace of running, doesn’t install anything and doesn’t change any settings. Nor does it scan your documents, look through your internet history, go digging for unlicensed software, tell us the contents of your music collection, let us know your bank details or anything else privacy breaking. To be perfectly honest we’ve got more interesting things to do than look through your browser history.

The final change, and one you should enjoy, is that we’ll be turning on registration for games consoles. That’s right, you’ll be able to hook up your Wii, DS, GameCube, PlayStation 2, Playstation 3, PSP, Xbox or Xbox 360 to the internet after a short registration process. Merry Christmas!