Blog Archive: December 2012

Mon, 31 Dec 2012 23:56:58 UTC

More network problems

Posted By Greg Lehey

Another drop-back to GPRS mode on my network connection today: Dec 31 14:12:35 nerd-gw fstats: +CGREG  1  81E3  8FC8E66 Dec 31 14:12:41 nerd-gw fstats: +CGREG  1  81E3  142 That 3-character code in the last column appears to be an indication that the cell only does GPRS. The result is immediate: 64 bytes from icmp_seq=74 ttl=54 time=88170.030 ms 64 bytes from icmp_seq=75 ttl=54 time=87189.031 ms 64 bytes from icmp_seq=76 ttl=54 time=86198.000 ms Tried restarting the ppp process, with only limited success: it came back in GPRS mode again, but soon changed to UTMS: Dec 31 14:17:46 nerd-gw fstats: +CGREG  1  F40  8FC48E8 Dec 31 14:17:52 nerd-gw fstats: +CGREG  2 ...

Mon, 31 Dec 2012 17:53:00 UTC

Freedom for Users, Not for Software

Posted By Benjamin Mako Hill

I finally published a short essay I wrote about a year ago: Freedom for Users, Not for Software. Anybody who has hung around the free software community for a while will be familiar with the confusion created by the ambiguity between "free as in price" versus "free as freedom." In the essay I argue that there is a less appreciated semantic ambiguity that arises when we begin to think that what matters is that software is free. Software doesn't need freedom, of course; Users of software need freedom. My essay looks at how the focus on free software, as opposed to on free users, has created challenges and divisions in the free software movement.

Mon, 31 Dec 2012 16:37:01 UTC

All outages are due to a failure to plan

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

I can't take credit for this, as a co-worker recently introduced me to this point. All outages are, at their core, a failure to plan. If a dead component (for example, a hard drive) failed, then there was a lack of planning for failed components. Components fail. Hard disks, RAM chips, CPUs, mother boards, power supplies, even ethernet cables fail. If a component fails and causes a visible outage, then there was a failure to plan for enough redundancy to survive the outage. There are technologies that, with prior forethought, can be included in a design to make any single component's failure a non-issue.

Mon, 31 Dec 2012 12:44:16 UTC

Terms of Service as a Security Threat

Posted By Bruce Schneier

After the Instagram debacle, where it changed its terms of service to give itself greater rights over user photos and reversed itself after a user backlash, it's worth thinking about the security threat stemming from terms of service in general. As cloud computing becomes the norm, as Internet security becomes more feudal, these terms of service agreements define what our...

Mon, 31 Dec 2012 11:27:45 UTC

Whats entropy?

Posted By Cory Doctorow

I sat down with the fascinating crew at the Titanium Physicists podcast to serve as their special physics-ignoramus guest in an episode about entropy (MP3)

Mon, 31 Dec 2012 11:24:49 UTC

Little Brother on stage in print!

Posted By Cory Doctorow

The next issue of Theatre Bay Area will feature the full text of Josh Costello's theatrical adaptation of my novel Little Brother, which was incredibly well-received on stage in San Francisco last year.

Sat, 29 Dec 2012 23:09:14 UTC

The new cvr2

Posted By Greg Lehey

It's been over a week since I got the new Ethernet card, a prerequisite to swapping the bodies of dereel (test machine) and cvr2 (TV recorder). The latter machine is much faster, just what I need to install Microsoft on and run DxO Optics Pro at a bearable speed. The problem is that the Ethernet chip on the dereel motherboard was damaged thanks to a Powercor power surge. Thus the new Ethernet card. Problem: it didn't work in the motherboard for which it was intended. It worked fine in cvr2, but that has a functional interface on the motherboard. Was it the difference between FreeBSD (dereel) and Linux (cvr2)?

Sat, 29 Dec 2012 04:11:09 UTC

Joining MPEG clips

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yesterday I took a couple of not-very-good video clips of Yvonne and Chris riding horses. Yvonne wanted to join them together, something that I've tried before with only limited success. Finally got round to writing a minimal script to do the joining, in the process determining that yes, indeed, there's some problem with the avidemux2 audio. So mencoder it is: joinmpeg ()   {   RESULT=$1   TMP=/tmp/clip$$   shift   cat $* > $TMP   mencoder -forceidx -oac copy -ovc copy $TMP -o $RESULT   rm $TMP   }

Fri, 28 Dec 2012 21:38:44 UTC

Links for Friday, December 28, 2012

Posted By Jeff Barr

KHK Stock Gears – “8399 types of Stock Gears for Robots.“ Welcome to RobotShop U.S.A. – “RobotShop, the World’s Leading Robot Store for Personal and Professional Robot Technology. Here you will find personal robots, professional robots, robot toys, robot kits … Continue reading →

Fri, 28 Dec 2012 21:16:09 UTC

Friday Squid Blogging: William Gilly, Squid Researcher

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Good article. As usual, you can also use this squid post to talk about the security stories in the news that I haven't covered....

Fri, 28 Dec 2012 18:34:37 UTC

I Seem to Be a Verb

Posted By Bruce Schneier

From "The Insider's TSA Dictionary": Bruce Schneiered: (V, ints) When a passenger uses logic in order to confound and perplex an officer into submission. Ex: "A TSA officer took my Swiss army knife, but let my scissors go. I then asked him wouldn't it be more dangerous if I were to make my scissors into two blades, or to go...

Fri, 28 Dec 2012 12:37:49 UTC

Becoming a Police Informant in Exchange for a Lighter Sentence

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Fascinating article. Snitching has become so commonplace that in the past five years at least 48,895 federal convicts -- one of every eight -- had their prison sentences reduced in exchange for helping government investigators, a USA TODAY examination of hundreds of thousands of court cases found. The deals can chop a decade or more off of their sentences. How...

Thu, 27 Dec 2012 19:02:46 UTC

Breaking Hard-Disk Encryption

Posted By Bruce Schneier

The newly announced ElcomSoft Forensic Disk Decryptor can decrypt BitLocker, PGP, and TrueCrypt. And it's only $300. How does it work? Elcomsoft Forensic Disk Decryptor acquires the necessary decryption keys by analyzing memory dumps and/or hibernation files obtained from the target PC. You'll thus need to get a memory dump from a running PC (locked or unlocked) with encrypted volumes...

Thu, 27 Dec 2012 17:00:00 UTC

My Best Christmas Present  Root Domain Support for Amazon S3 Website Hosting

Posted By Werner Vogels

I have been a big fan of the Amazon S3 Static Website Hosting feature since its launch and this blog happily is being served from it. S3 is not only a highly reliable and available storage service but also one of the most powerful web serving engines that exists today. By storing your website in Amazon S3, you suddenly no longer have to worry about scaling, replication, performance, security, etc. All of that is handled seamlessly by S3. As such I am very happy that the Amazon S3 team has finally knocked off the last piece of dependency on an external infrastructure piece.

Thu, 27 Dec 2012 12:21:53 UTC

Public Shaming as a Security Measure

Posted By Bruce Schneier

In Liars and Outliers, I talk a lot about the more social forms of security. One of them is reputational. This post is about that squishy sociological security measure: public shaming as a way to punish bigotry (and, by extension, to reduce the incidence of bigotry). It's a pretty rambling post, first listing some of the public shaming sites, then...

Wed, 26 Dec 2012 23:44:25 UTC

Package installation complete?

Posted By Greg Lehey

Continued installing packages on my FreeBSD reference virtual machine today. With a couple of minor issues, it went very well, much faster than compiling ports. That's not only because I didn't need to compile: I also didn't need to answer configuration questions, nor address strangenesses in the build. And it used the best part of 2 GB of traffic. About the only hold-up was that postfix wanted me to answer a question about the default mail configuration. Things aren't over yet. A number of these packages printed out information, some possibly important, that scrolled off the top of the screen. A good thing that I've saved a transcript of the installation.

Wed, 26 Dec 2012 23:02:49 UTC

Control point detector or random number generator?

Posted By Greg Lehey

After my experience with Subhash's panoramas a couple of weeks ago, I was interested to see this thread in the Hugin mailing lists. Another case where somebody had extreme difficulties assembling a panorama. He made his images available, so I had a try. Once again, It Works For Me: But another person responded, also with an image: He had had more difficulties, but had managed to get past them. But his image is different. Yes, it's not cropped, but if it were, parts would be missing that are present on my image.

Wed, 26 Dec 2012 20:00:00 UTC

For Everyone

Posted By Tim Bray

Our family gathering is small this year; only five. Even at that size, when everyone likes the same book, thats remarkable. Im talking about Giants Beware!, a graphic novel by Jorge Aguirre (who doesnt have a Wikipedia entry, someone get on it). All five of us read it, cover to cover, on Christmas day. Granted, my 6-year-old daughter is an unusually good reader, and my 82-your-old mother is unusually bookish and open-minded, but still. The book is funny, deft, well-drawn, and a total page-turner. Its a little tougher than what the six-year-old gets from her first-grade library, and she groused out loud, demanding that everyone stop talking so she could concentrate.

Wed, 26 Dec 2012 17:50:21 UTC

Cryptography Engineering Available as an eBook

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Finally, Cryptography Engineering is available as an ebook. Even better, it's today's deal of the day at O'Reilly: $27.50 (50% off) and no copy protection. (The discount won't show until you add the book to your cart.)...

Wed, 26 Dec 2012 12:05:50 UTC

Hackers Use Backdoor to Break System

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Industrial control system comes with a backdoor: Although the system was password protected in general, the backdoor through the IP address apparently required no password and allowed direct access to the control system. "[Th]e published backdoor URL provided the same level of access to the company's control system as the password-protected administrator login," said the memo. The security of this...

Tue, 25 Dec 2012 23:39:25 UTC

FreeBSD upgrade procedure, next attempt

Posted By Greg Lehey

After accepting the failure of my previous ways of trying to keep up to date with FreeBSD, continued today with the virtual machine approach. I had a base machine with no ports. How should I install them? There's this thing called PKGNG (Package New Generation) which should enable me just to download binary packages, and thus eliminate this eternal configuration that the Ports Collection requires. Problem: As a result of a recent security incident, no official packages are available. So for the time being, at any rate, I have to download binary packages the old way, with pkg_add -r. I already had most of the infrastructure for that in place, but discovered I had never put it to the test.

Tue, 25 Dec 2012 22:53:32 UTC

Copyright puzzles

Posted By Greg Lehey

I don't use the various file-sharing services on the Internet. I disagree strongly with the copyright holders' heavy-handed protection of their rights, but currently they have the law on their side, and I don't intend to break the law. But more and more it's becoming clear to me that the whole business is lopsided. I can, for example, buy a DVD or a CD with multimedia content. I own the medium, but not the content. Recent developments, of course, get rid of the medium, so I don't own anything. Either way, I am not allowed to give this content to anybody else, and that's what the file-sharing services do.

Mon, 24 Dec 2012 20:00:00 UTC

Low-stress Inbox

Posted By Tim Bray

Ive long been aware of the Inbox Zero notion, and never really got it. My Google inbox has 6,457 messages and my personal inbox 5,096; none are unread and I feel no stress. Recently Ive noticed that lots of people have huge numbers of unread emails staring them in the face, more or less all the time I guess. This would drive me crazy in about fifteen minutes. So, as a Christmas present to the world, here is my recipe for maintaining an unread count of zero; a condition Ill call Low-stress Inbox. You Decide When to Read Set up your mail so that when youre not looking at it, there are no bright red numbers anywhere on your screen pestering you about whats unread.

Mon, 24 Dec 2012 18:59:13 UTC

Peruvian Spider Species Creates Decoys

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Clyclosa spiders create decoys to fool predators....

Mon, 24 Dec 2012 12:31:48 UTC

Phishing via Twitter

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Interesting firsthand phishing story: A few nights ago, I got a Twitter direct message (DM) from a friend saying that someone was saying nasty things about me, with a link. The link was a shortened ( link, so it was hard to see exactly what it pointed to. I followed the link on my cell phone, and got to a...

Mon, 24 Dec 2012 00:51:23 UTC

Sending the Christmas Letter

Posted By Greg Lehey

After writing our Christmas letter, the next thing was to send it, of course. The idea was to post it as status on facebook and also send it as email to a list of people we know. Yvonne sent me a list of her contacts, and then I added my own from my ~/.mail_aliases file. How old that is! There are people in it whom I haven't communicated with for 20 years, and sadly I know of at least 7 who are dead. The death of Dennis Ritchie is well known, of course, and at my age you'd expect people to gradually start dying off.

Mon, 24 Dec 2012 00:44:38 UTC

More weather station pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

It's been very hot latelytoday we had a top temperature of 41.3°, unusual for so early in the summer. But that's not what my weather software showed: in fact, it showed nothing. Further investigation showed that the external transmitter wasn't transmitting the humidity, and that one of the few functions I hadn't written myself, dewpoint(), wasn't handling 0 humidity correctly, returning NaN. So for the first time in well over a year I had to modify the software. It's not done: it seems that the station is also reporting random incorrect temperatures, over 10° from what they should be.

Sun, 23 Dec 2012 23:52:28 UTC

More panorama processing

Posted By Greg Lehey

Continued with my TIFF-based panorama processing today. Some of the numbers are amazing: === grog@eureka (/dev/pts/8) ~/Photos/20121222 266 -> du -scm . ../Hugin-build-eureka/ 41593   . 4216    ../Hugin-build-eureka/ 45808   total   PID USERNAME    THR PRI NICE   SIZE    RES STATE   C   TIME   WCPU COMMAND 47437 grog          1 108    5 10971M  4488M CPU1    0   6:21 100.00% enblend 23871 grog          1  28    5  1063M   479M select  2  57:56  1.37% hugin That du output is in megabytes: the project used over 45 GB of disk, most of it in deletable TIFF files.

Sat, 22 Dec 2012 23:33:23 UTC

More TIFF processing

Posted By Greg Lehey

Last week my experiments with TIFF images in the intermediate processing of panoramas weren't overly encouraging, but I had this recollection of surprising sharpness in the details while processing the garden centre panorama. So today I decided to try it again. I thought that last week I had cleaned up most of the strangenesses in processing TIFFs, but today I found many more. The really frustrating one seems to be that ImageMagick's convert doesn't copy EXIF data for TIFFs. I can copy it myself, but it takes about 30 seconds per image, at least partially because exiftool copies the entire image, all 75 MB of it.

Sat, 22 Dec 2012 23:00:00 UTC

An Album for Each Year - 2012 Version

Posted By Werner Vogels

About 5 years ago I joined a challenge to list "a favorite album for every year of your life." The challenge has two restrictions: only one album per year and there can be no repeats of artists. I added for myself the restriction that I should actually own the album, which restricts the set to choose from significantly and also makes for some peculiar choices. My list stopped in 2007, so now that 2012 is almost at its end it is a good moment to add the next 5 years to the list 1958: Jerry Lee Lewis, Great Balls of Fire 1959: Ray Charles, What I'd Say 1960: Miles Davis, Sketches of Spain 1961: Robert Johnson, King of the Delta Blues Singers 1962: Booker T & MG, Green Onions 1963: James Brown, Live at the Apollo 1964: John Coltrane, Love Supreme 1965: Bob Dylan, Highway 61 Revisted 1966: Cream, ...

Sat, 22 Dec 2012 14:58:00 UTC

The Cost of Collaboration for Code and Art

Posted By Benjamin Mako Hill

This post was written with Andrés Monroy-Hernández for the Follow the Crowd Research Blog. The post is a summary of a paper forthcoming in Computer-Supported Cooperative Work 2013. You read also read the full paper: The Cost of Collaboration for Code and Art: Evidence from Remixing. It is part of a series of papers I have written with Monroy-Hernández using data from Scratch. You can find the others on my academic website. Does collaboration result in higher quality creative works than individuals working alone? Is working in groups better for functional works like code than for creative works like art? Although these questions lie at the heart of conversations about collaborative production on the Internet and peer production, it can be hard to find research settings where you can compare across both individual and group work and across both code and art.

Sat, 22 Dec 2012 00:14:36 UTC

multimedia, technology

Posted By Greg Lehey

While going through TV programmes on cvr2 today, discovered I didn't have any programme data for PRIME7. That must have happened the last time I ran the channel configuration through Shepherd. Irritating, but no big deal. So I re-ran configuration, and then ran mythfilldatabase to get the data. Not quite what I expected: 2012-12-21 17:09:47.283 XMLTV config file is: /home/mythtv/.mythtv/.xmltv 2012-12-21 17:09:58.249 FAILED: xmltv returned error code 256. 2012-12-21 17:09:58.249 Error in 1:1: unexpected end of file 2012-12-21 17:09:58.249 Updating icons for sourceid: 1 2012-12-21 17:09:58.249 New DB connection, total: 4 2012-12-21 17:09:58.250 Connected to database 'mythconverg' at host: localhost 2012-12-21 17:09:58.250 No programs found in data.

Fri, 21 Dec 2012 22:58:14 UTC

Friday Squid Blogging: Laughing Squid

Posted By Bruce Schneier

The small San Francisco film and video company is celebrating its 17th anniversary. As usual, you can also use this squid post to talk about the security stories in the news that I haven't covered....

Fri, 21 Dec 2012 18:12:11 UTC

This Week's Overreactions

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Schools go into lockdown over a thermometer, a car backfiring, a bank robbery a few blocks away, a student alone in a gym, a neighbor on the street, and some vague unfounded rumors. And one high-school kid was arrested for drawing pictures of guns. Everywhere else, post-traumatic stupidity syndrome." (It's not a new phrase -- Google shows hits back to...

Fri, 21 Dec 2012 18:05:44 UTC

Happy hols!

Posted By Cory Doctorow

Today, on a very special Cory Doctorow podcast, the podcasting debut of Ms Poesy Emmeline Fibonacci Nautilus Taylor Doctorow! MP3 Link

Fri, 21 Dec 2012 12:20:05 UTC

Amazon Replacement-Order Scam

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Clever: Chris Cardinal discovered someone running such a scam on Amazon using his account: the scammer contacted Amazon pretending to be Chris, supplying his billing address (this is often easy to guess by digging into things like public phone books, credit reports, or domain registration records). Then the scammer secured the order numbers of items Chris recently bought on Amazon....

Fri, 21 Dec 2012 09:23:20 UTC

Links for Friday, December 22, 2012

Posted By Jeff Barr

Time to clean out my browser menu before the holidays: BrickPicker: The End of Life is the Start of Profits) – “Missing out on a great LEGO set is a gut-wrenching feeling that happens all too often for the casual … Continue reading →

Fri, 21 Dec 2012 02:04:33 UTC

An implementation of generic lambdas is now available

Posted By Herb Sutter

For those interested in C++ standardization and not already following along at, here’s an item of likely interest: An implementation of generic lambdas (request for feedback)Faisal Vali This week, Faisal Vali shared an initial “alpha” implementation of generic lambdas in Clang. Faisal is the lead author of the proposal (N3418), with Herb Sutter and [...]

Thu, 20 Dec 2012 12:32:21 UTC

China Now Blocking Encryption

Posted By Bruce Schneier

The "Great Firewall of China" is now able to detect and block encryption: A number of companies providing "virtual private network" (VPN) services to users in China say the new system is able to "learn, discover and block" the encrypted communications methods used by a number of different VPN systems. China Unicom, one of the biggest telecoms providers in the...

Thu, 20 Dec 2012 10:36:02 UTC

Why the entertainment industrys release strategy creates piracy

Posted By Cory Doctorow

The Guardian

Thu, 20 Dec 2012 10:35:45 UTC

Why entertainment industry release windows drive piracy that we all have to pay for

Posted By Cory Doctorow

My latest Guardian column, "Why the entertainment industry's release strategy creates piracy," looks at the weird entertainment industry practice of defending their right not to sell us the things we want to buy, and the rather more odious practice of asking the public to foot the bill for this strategy: In a real marketplace, the … [Read more]

Thu, 20 Dec 2012 01:21:00 UTC

New Ethernet card

Posted By Greg Lehey

Finally received the Ethernet card that I had bought on eBay nearly a month ago. Why Ethernet card? Thanks to Powercor, one of my motherboards (currently running dereel) lost its USB and Ethernet ports, and I'm running it with an ancient 3com 3C509 PCI card. But it makes sense to use it as a replacement for cvr2, the video recorder box, which has a much more powerful processor which I could use to run DxO Optics Pro natively, in the hope that it would then be considerably faster than in a VM. I don't need USB for cvr2, but I do need Ethernet and 2 PCI slots for the tuners.

Wed, 19 Dec 2012 12:47:27 UTC

Information-Age Law Enforcement Techniques

Posted By Bruce Schneier

This is an interesting blog post: Buried inside a recent United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime report titled Use of Internet for Terrorist Purposes one can carve out details and examples of law enforcement electronic surveillance techniques that are normally kept secret. [...] Point 280: International members of the guerilla group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) communicated with...

Wed, 19 Dec 2012 09:44:45 UTC

APIs, Libraries, and Code

Posted By Diomidis D. Spinellis

Lets say you want to display a JPEG-compressed image, calculate Pearsons correlation coefficient, parse an XML file, or create a key-value store. You can often choose between using the functionality of the applications platform (Java EE or .NET), calling one of several available external libraries, or writing the code on your own. It isnt an easy choice because you have many factors to consider. Specifically, you must take into account the tasks complexity, as well as the licensing, quality, and support of competing alternatives.

Wed, 19 Dec 2012 03:00:00 UTC

The Back-to-Basics Readings of 2012

Posted By Werner Vogels

After the AWS re: Invent conference I spent two weeks in Europe for the last customer visits of the year. I have since returned and am now in New York City enjoying a few days of winding down the last activities of the year before spending the holidays here with family. Do not expect too many blog posts or twitter updates. Although there are still a few very exciting AWS news updates to happen this year. I thought this was a good moment to collect all the readings I suggested this year in one summary post. It was not until later in the year that I started to recording the readings here on the blog, so I hope this is indeed the complete list.

Wed, 19 Dec 2012 00:53:48 UTC

GPS navigator strangeness

Posted By Greg Lehey

While in town, dropped in at Gays, coming from the direction of the Botanical Gardens. My GPS navigator went crazy. The route is pretty much straight down Gillies St, but it wanted me to turn left and head through Victoria Park. That was with the profile shortest route, which it clearly wasn't, so waiting at the lights crossing Sturt St I tried fast, and it told me to turn right, which is also clearly wrong. Carried on straight ahead and got there, and it still wanted me drive about 3 km in a circle and then come back to where I was.

Wed, 19 Dec 2012 00:31:38 UTC

Yet Another Upgrade Strategy

Posted By Greg Lehey

It's been over 10 years since I first tried to find a simplified way of staying up to date with FreeBSD. I still haven't succeeded. It's becoming an issue again: teevee is running relatively well, but the installation is about 18 months old, and it's running firefox 6.0. Not that much of a problem, but for reasons I don't understand it now pops up an additional Please upgrade tab every time I open a new tab. I can't upgrade from their site, because they don't have versions for FreeBSD, and I can't upgrade to the latest and greatest because I'd get caught in a dependency nightmare.

Tue, 18 Dec 2012 20:00:00 UTC


Posted By Tim Bray

After a dry bright summer and a forgiving autumn, winter is biting down hard; day after day of lashing rain and single-digit-°C temperatures. And dark. Dark, dark, dark. When the sun comes out, its surprising. It wasnt even really out, just a gap in the clouds big enough for a stray beam to catch this old house. Like a performer in the spotlight, reaching back for a little more. In winter north of 49°, you take what you can get.

Tue, 18 Dec 2012 12:38:47 UTC

Nasty Samsung Phone Exploit

Posted By Bruce Schneier

There's a new exploit against Samsung Galaxy phones that allows a rogue app access to all memory. A hacker could copy all of your data, erase all of your data, and basically brick your phone. I haven't found an offical Samsung response, but there is a quick fix....

Tue, 18 Dec 2012 04:05:04 UTC

Open calendar project?

Posted By Greg Lehey

Mail from Julian Stacey, whom I know from my visits in München nearly 20 years ago. Though he's been living there for ever, and is married to a German, he remains somewhat British, and it seems that he's been maintaining a file /usr/share/calendar/calendar.british, which should be part of the FreeBSD calendar program that I'm currently looking at, but somehow it doesn't exist (/usr/share/calendar/calendar.australia, for example, does exist). The message was in reply to a message from Peter Tynan, who has been doing something similar for Debian Linux. But his file didn't look very Linux-like: /*  * United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland  * compiled by Peter R Tynan  *  * $FreeBSD$  */ I queried that, but it seems that Linux doesn't have its own calendar program.

Tue, 18 Dec 2012 03:47:39 UTC

Emacs highlighting: can of worms

Posted By Greg Lehey

So now I have this nice white space highlighting running with Emacs, and it's a great improvement. Only one problem: by default trailing white space is highlighted in red, which on the one hand is somewhat irritating, but on the other hand a real problem: a single space at the end of the line looks just like a cursor, and I kept trying to input data there. Time to change the colour. But how do you do that? GNU Emacs has changed a lot since I first installed revision 18.39 in late 1989, and it looks like there is a whole new infrastructure around the display.

Mon, 17 Dec 2012 18:39:05 UTC

Possible Decryption of World War II Pigeon Message

Posted By Bruce Schneier

A Canadian claims that the message is based on a WWI codebook. A spokesman from GCHQ remains dubious, but says they'll be happy to look at the proposed solution....

Sun, 16 Dec 2012 23:08:34 UTC

Hardware failures: picking up the pieces

Posted By Greg Lehey

Spent quite some time attending to yesterday's hardware failures. In the case of the GPS navigator, there's an alternative to assuming the battery is dead: what if it didn't get charged? The indoor charger is a generic USB device, but the one I used wasn't the one it came with, and it looked a little anaemic. So I tried the correct one andit worked! One problem solved, one to go. Into town to buy a new disk. After some consideration, it made sense to buy a 2 TB external drive with USB 3.0 connection and use it for photo backups. It's becoming clear that eSATA is no longer a viable option.

Sun, 16 Dec 2012 22:55:06 UTC

Photo processing progress

Posted By Greg Lehey

Into the office this morning to continue with my photo processing. The remainder of the photo processing with DxO Optics Pro hat taken 6 hours, 12 minutes, and just copying the TIFFs and reinstating the EXIF data took 20 minutes. Processing with TIFF is really slow. I should do some comparisons to see whether it's worth it. This time I gave up and tried it with JPEG instead. Eventually got all but one panorama processed, the garden centre one, which suffered because of the light wind. Interestingly, the control point detection was even worse with JPEG than with TIFF, but at least one of the control points in the TIFF was completely wrong, half an image apart.

Sun, 16 Dec 2012 00:33:37 UTC

Multiple failures

Posted By Greg Lehey

As if the photo processing wasn't frustrating enough, a couple of other things ganged up to annoy me. After this morning's excursion, put the GPS navigator on to charge, and came back a little later to see the charge indicator showing purplenormally it's red (for charging) or blue (for charged). And the thing didn't work. More playing around brought a bright, uneven screen, which then died. Resetting helped enough to get the thing to start booting before crashing. And when I reconnected the charger, it didn't charge. All suggests a dead battery, which isn't user-replaceable. I've only had the thing 18 monthslooks like I need a new one.

Sat, 15 Dec 2012 23:51:13 UTC

Still more panorama experiments

Posted By Greg Lehey

The weather this morning was not good enough for my house photos, and I had planned to put them off until tomorrow, but by mid-afternoon things had picked up, and I managed to get them done. This time I had decided to create TIFF images, after a suggestion from Subhash. Not easy: I needed to modify most of my scripts, and there were all sorts of problems. DxO Optics Pro creates TIFF files which are dubious to say the least. Here's what ImageMagick's ambiguously named convert has to say: 20121215: Unknown field with tag 50341 (0xc4a5) encountered.

Sat, 15 Dec 2012 01:20:23 UTC

Emacs indentation progress

Posted By Greg Lehey

Continued playing around with my Emacs indentation macros today, and finally got not just what I wanted, but more. Now I can finally place the braces where I want them, indented with the block which they delimit:       if (mytime.tm_year < 0)                   /* not a valid year, */         {         basetm = localtime (&base);             /* get base in struct tm format */         mytime.tm_year = basetm->tm_year;       /* use this year */         hms = argv [*arg];                      /* and reinterpret this value as hms */         }       else         hms ...

Sat, 15 Dec 2012 00:53:34 UTC

Focus stacking: how?

Posted By Greg Lehey

Lots of new flowers in the garden, but the weather's been pretty moist, so I took photos from the protection of the verandah. That means telephoto lenses, and that means focus issues. So I took two photos from the same place with different focus, intending to merge them to show both foreground and background in focus: The problem is that the images are of different size .

Fri, 14 Dec 2012 22:44:32 UTC

Friday Squid Blogging: Giant PVC Squid

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Neat art project. Another link. As usual, you can also use this squid post to talk about the security stories in the news that I haven't covered....

Fri, 14 Dec 2012 20:01:00 UTC

Heading West

Posted By Benjamin Mako Hill

This week, I accepted a job on the faculty of at the University of Washington Department of Communication. I've arranged for a post-doc during the 2013-2014 academic year which I will spend at UW as an Acting Assistant Professor. I'll start the tenure-track Assistant Professor position in September 2014. The hire is part of a "big data" push across UW. I will be setting up a lab and research projects, as well as easing into a teaching program, over the next couple years. I'm not going to try to list all the great people in the department, but UW Communication has an incredible faculty with a strong background in studying the effect of communication technology on society, looking at political communication, enagement, and collective action, and tracing out the implications of new communication technologies  in addition to very strong work in other areas.

Fri, 14 Dec 2012 19:08:51 UTC

Review of my LISA '12 half-day tutorial on Time Management for Sysadmins

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

Ben Cotton write an excellent summary of my half-day tutorial from LISA this year:

Fri, 14 Dec 2012 18:24:13 UTC

Book Review: Against Security

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Against Security: How We Go Wrong at Airports, Subways, and Other Sites of Ambiguous Danger, by Harvey Molotch, Princeton University Press, 278 pages, $35 Security is both a feeling and a reality, and the two are different things. People can feel secure when theyre actually not, and they can be secure even when they believe otherwise. This discord explains much...

Fri, 14 Dec 2012 13:28:14 UTC

The History of Security Economics

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Ross Anderson recalls the history of security economics (presentation and paper.)...

Thu, 13 Dec 2012 23:54:18 UTC

Emacs C indentation

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've been using versions of Emacs for ever, about half the history of digital computers. It's wired into my fingers. But Emacs hasn't stayed the same. One of the very first things I wrote for MINCE (MINCE Is Not Complete Emacs), in about 1980, was a set of functions for indenting C sources. When I got GNU Emacs, I hacked the indentation macros to match. And gradually the indentation functionality in the Emacs distribution increased, to the point that it became desirable to change to it. But how? I have my own style of indentation that nobody else seems to use, and my attempts to adapt to it ultimately came to nothing.

Thu, 13 Dec 2012 23:46:03 UTC

More Hugin experiments

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've been doing more thinking about the control point mismatches that have been plaguing Subhash (mainly) and me this last week or so. One unexamined clue was the problems I had in August, where the control point detectors discovered control points in exactly the same location on each image. Could this be a problem with the sensor, maybe dirt or flawed pixels? And conversion to JPEG would be enough to hide them, but TIFFs are too accurate a representation? Tried multiple conversions of August's images, using both CPfind and panomatic. Nothing. I couldn't reproduce it. OK, that's enough for the moment.

Thu, 13 Dec 2012 18:33:14 UTC

The Internet in North Korea

Posted By Bruce Schneier

How Internet censorship works in North Korea....

Thu, 13 Dec 2012 12:19:23 UTC

QR Code Scams

Posted By Bruce Schneier

There's a rise in QR codes that point to fraudulent sites. One of the warning signs seems to be a sticker with the code, rather than a code embedded in an advertising poster. This brings up another question: does anyone actually use these things?...

Thu, 13 Dec 2012 10:53:42 UTC

Announcing the 20-city US tour for HOMELAND, the sequel to Little Brother

Posted By Cory Doctorow

As I mentioned yesterday, the sequel to Little Brother is coming out in February. Called Homeland, it picks up the action shortly after Little Brother ends, and features the continuing and exciting adventures of the characters from the first book. Tor, my publisher, have posted the first cut at the 20-city US tour schedule (the … [Read more]

Wed, 12 Dec 2012 23:42:33 UTC

More hugin stitching issues

Posted By Greg Lehey

Subhash sent me his photos to look at overnight, along with a project file. The photos stitched perfectly! The project file, on the other hand, was a complete disaster. He described what he had done, and it all made sense. So what's the problem? He keeps all his images in DNG format, and converts them to TIFF before processing. I don't have the same tools as he does: I extract the raw image from the DNG using the Adobe tool and then process it with DxO Optics Pro. But I've seen problems with TIFF images and Hugin before. Could it be something similar?

Wed, 12 Dec 2012 20:45:48 UTC

Vint Cerf's keynote at LISA '12

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

Did you miss the Usenix LISA live stream of Vint Cerf's keynote? Video is online:

Wed, 12 Dec 2012 18:59:30 UTC

Detecting Edited Audio

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Interesting development in forensic analysis: Comparing the unique pattern of the frequencies on an audio recording with a database that has been logging these changes for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year provides a digital watermark: a date and time stamp on the recording. Philip Harrison, from JP French Associates, another forensic audio laboratory that has been logging...

Wed, 12 Dec 2012 17:33:07 UTC

Changes in the Way we View Computing

Posted By Diomidis D. Spinellis

The Association for Computing Machinery recently released the 2012 version of the ACM Computing Classification System (CCS). This is the work of 120 volunteers and marks significant changes over the previous version, which was released in 1998. To create it the volunteers mined ACM Digital Library search terms and used the services of a specialist company that creates ontologies. To see what has changed in the past 14 years in the way we view computing, I used Wordle to create word clouds from the 1998 and the 2012 versions.

Wed, 12 Dec 2012 12:06:26 UTC

Drone Flights Over the US

Posted By Bruce Schneier

The EFF has been prying data out of the government and analyzing it....

Tue, 11 Dec 2012 23:19:16 UTC

Subhash's panorama problems, continued

Posted By Greg Lehey

Subhash is still having problems with Hugin, so I got him to send me his latest batch. He has asked me not to show them, but there's not much to see: It Worked For Me. Why not for him? More investigation needed.

Tue, 11 Dec 2012 23:03:14 UTC

More calendar pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

Spent most of the day looking at calendar(1). What I had expected to be a simple bug fix goes much further; partially code is missing, in many cases it's (almost) duplicated, and I'm left wondering whether to apply a band-aid or rewrite the parser. But then, there's always a tendency to reinvent the wheel. More thought needed.

Tue, 11 Dec 2012 19:03:22 UTC

The National Cyber Security Framework Manual

Posted By Bruce Schneier

This book is available as a free pdf download: The National Cyber Security Framework Manual provides detailed background information and in-depth theoretical frameworks to help the reader understand the various facets of National Cyber Security, according to different levels of public policy formulation. The four levels of government -- political, strategic, operational and tactical/technical -- each have their own perspectives...

Tue, 11 Dec 2012 16:55:45 UTC

Microserver Market Heats up: Intel Atom S1200 (Centerton) Announcement

Posted By James Hamilton

Since 2008, Ive been excited by, working on, and writing about Microservers. In these early days, some of the workloads I worked with were I/O bound and didnt really need or use high single-thread performance. Replacing the server class processors that supported these applications with high-volume, low-cost client system CPUs yielded both better price/performance and power/performance. Fortunately, at that time, there were good client processors available with ECC enabled (see You Really DO Need ECC) and most embedded system processors also supported ECC.   I wrote up some of the advantages of these early microserver deployments and showed performance results from a production deployment in an internet-scale mail processing application in Cooperative, Expendable, Microslice, Servers: Low-Cost, Low-Power Servers for Internet-Scale Services.

Tue, 11 Dec 2012 12:08:25 UTC

Dictators Shutting Down the Internet

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Excellent article: "How to Shut Down Internets." First, he describes what just happened in Syria. Then: Egypt turned off the internet by using the Border Gateway Protocol trick, and also by switching off DNS. This has a similar effect to throwing bleach over a map. The location of every street and house in the country is blotted out. All the...

Tue, 11 Dec 2012 00:30:14 UTC

Virtual hardware problems

Posted By Greg Lehey

I do my test building in a virtual machine, and today it hung. The console messages were unnerving: Dec 10 17:31:12 swamp: kernel: (ada0:ata0:0:0:0): WRITE_DMA. ACB: ca 00 ff bb 74 40 00 00 00 00 00 00 Dec 10 17:31:12 swamp: kernel: (ada0:ata0:0:0:0): CAM status: Command timeout Dec 10 17:31:12 swamp: kernel: (ada0:ata0:0:0:0): Retrying command Dec 10 17:31:12 swamp: kernel: g_vfs_done():ada0s1a[WRITE(offset=3917053952, length=65536)]error = 6 Dec 10 17:31:12 swamp: kernel: (ada0:ata0:0:0:/: got error 6 while accessing filesystem Dec 10 17:31:12 swamp: kernel: 0): lost device Dec 10 17:31:12 swamp: kernel: /: got error 6 while accessing filesystem Dec 10 17:31:12 swamp: kernel: (pass0:/: got error 6 while accessing filesystem Dec 10 17:31:12 swamp: kernel: ata0:0:0:/: got error 6 while accessing filesystem Dec 10 17:31:12 swamp: kernel: 0): passdevgonecb: devfs entry is gone Dec 10 17:31:12 swamp: kernel: g_vfs_done():ada0s1a[WRITE(offset=3917250560, length=16384)]error = 6 ...

Mon, 10 Dec 2012 22:48:58 UTC

More calendar fun

Posted By Greg Lehey

For various reasons, I've had more to do with the calendar(1) program than I would have expected, notably when Chris Yeardley tidied it up for a university project. And then at the end of last month I discovered this: 25 Nov* First Sunday of Advent (4th Sunday before Christmas) That's nonsense, of course. The earliest date for the first Sunday in Advent is 27 November. So what did it say for the real first Sunday in Advent, 2 December?

Mon, 10 Dec 2012 20:54:03 UTC

CFP: Runtime Environments, Systems, Layering and Virtualized Environments (RESoLVE 2013)

Posted By Robert N. M. Watson

This year, we presented two papers at RESoLVE 2012 relating to the structure of operating systems and hardware, one focused on CPU instruction set security features out of our CTSRD project, and another on efficient and reconfigurable communications in data centres out of our MRC2 project. I’m pleased to announce the Call for Papers for RESoLVE [...]

Mon, 10 Dec 2012 20:00:00 UTC

Which Cameras?

Posted By Tim Bray

Right at the moment, the Most Interesting Camera in the World is clearly the Sony RX-1. Its started to hit the streets; for example, check out some early pix from Duncan Davidson. Theyre good! The concept is brilliant, and I salute The Most [well, only] Interesting Part of Sony for it. But I probably wouldnt get one even at a less-stupidly-high price. Heres what I think: You should have a modern interchangeable-lens camera whose sensor can deal with darkness, and most of the time you should mount a difficult opinionated prime lens on it and walk around with that. Also, you should have a high-quality pocket camera with a reasonably big reasonably fast zoom and a sensor thats only moderately afraid of the dark.

Mon, 10 Dec 2012 19:04:05 UTC

Bypassing Two-Factor Authentication

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Yet another way two-factor authentication has been bypassed: For a user to fall prey to Eurograbber, he or she must first be using a computer infected with the trojan. This was typically done by luring the user onto a malicious web page via a round of unfortunate web surfing or email phishing attempts. Once infected, the trojan would monitor that...

Mon, 10 Dec 2012 15:17:45 UTC

The Internet of the Dead

Posted By Cory Doctorow

Here's a podcast of my recent Locus column, The Internet of the Dead: I had begun my trip with a few days in Toronto, attending to a strange and new kind of memorial ritual for a close friend who had died unexpectedly in June. My friends name was Erik Possum Man Stewart, and Id known … [Read more]

Mon, 10 Dec 2012 11:56:12 UTC

Buy Your Own ATM Skimmer for $3000

Posted By Bruce Schneier

I have no idea if this is real. If I had to guess, I would say no....

Mon, 10 Dec 2012 02:44:00 UTC

Asocial Science

Posted By Benjamin Mako Hill

Random people on the Internet want to know: Why is economics asocial science?

Sun, 09 Dec 2012 18:05:00 UTC

What's your "LISA '12 moment"?

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

Every year at Usenix LISA it seems that there is a moment where someone says something that makes me want to jump up and shout, "OMG! Learning that just paid for my entire conference!" It may be something an instructor says at a tutorial, a presenter says at a paper or Invited Talk. Often it is something you learn from the person you just happened to start chatting with while on line waiting for lunch. If you have a "LISA Moment", I encourage you to tweet it with hashtag #lisa12 #moment or post it as a comment to this post.

Sat, 08 Dec 2012 20:00:00 UTC


Posted By Tim Bray

Its a new thing on the Internet, a planetary-scale augmented-reality game being played on a real planet: ours. Its fun to play, particularly if you have kids. And interesting, I think, for anyone who cares about issues of Life Online, even non-gamers. If you want to know the basics, hop on over and read the overexcited pitch at Google Play and the calmer Ingress in Wikipedia. Go ahead, Ill wait. Back now? Heres whats actually interesting about the game. Numbers This has only been running since mid-November, and its hard to get an invite, but a lot of people are playing.

Fri, 07 Dec 2012 22:04:33 UTC

Squids on the Economist Cover

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Four squids on the cover of this week's Economist represent the four massive (and intrusive) data-driven Internet giants: Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon. Interestingly, these are the same four companies I've been listing as the new corporate threat to the Internet. The first of three pillars propping up this outside threat are big data collectors, which in addition to Apple...

Fri, 07 Dec 2012 01:21:52 UTC

Book signing at LISA: Taming Information Technology

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

In the past I've said good things a few different times about "Taming Information Technology: Lessons from Studies of System Administrators" by Eser Kandogan, Paul Maglio, Eben Haber and John Bailey. Eben will be at Usenix LISA next week, in San Diego, doing a book signing during the Wednesday afternoon break on the expo floor. He'll have a limited number of copies for sale at a huge discount (I hear it's $40/book while supplies last). See you there!

Fri, 07 Dec 2012 01:21:52 UTC

Book signing at LISA: Taming Information Technology

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

In the past I've said good things a few different times about "Taming Information Technology: Lessons from Studies of System Administrators" by Eser Kandogan, Paul Maglio, Eben Haber and John Bailey. Eben will be at Usenix LISA next week, in San Diego, doing a book signing during the Wednesday afternoon break on the expo floor. He'll have a limited number of copies for sale at a huge discount (I hear it's $40/book while supplies last). See you there!

Thu, 06 Dec 2012 23:40:47 UTC

Why I don't like Facebook

Posted By Greg Lehey

Everybody uses Facebook today, even most of the people I know. And I spend a lot of time talking in IRC, which is arguably something very similar, and I also keep this diary. But try as I might, I can't get to like Facebook. Why? There are a number of reasons: The format is neither like a conversation (IRC) nor like letter-writing (email). It falls somewhere in between. Arguably there's nothing wrong with that, but I can't find a use for it.

Thu, 06 Dec 2012 16:59:03 UTC

Comedy and Cryptography

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Not the sort of pairing I normally think of, but: Robin Ince and Brian Cox are joined on stage by comedian Dave Gorman, author and Enigma Machine owner Simon Singh and Bletchley Park enthusiast Dr Sue Black as they discuss secret science, code-breaking and the extraordinary achievements of the team working at Bletchley during WW II. Audio here....

Wed, 05 Dec 2012 20:00:00 UTC

Gonna Hang Out

Posted By Tim Bray

Theres this notion of a Google+ Event, which combines G+, YouTube, and Moderator; its trying to be a new way to do an online conversation. Some of the outreach people at Google (i.e. in jobs like mine) are going on the road a lot less and Eventing a lot more, these days. So Im going to try it tomorrow (Thursday): Life, Identity, and Everything. The idea is, I and Breno (an Identity tech lead here) will talk a little bit about what were up to (OAuth, OpenID, AccountChooser, bearer tokens for n00bs, and so on), and I mean a little bit; single-digit minutes.

Wed, 05 Dec 2012 12:01:00 UTC

Roger Williams' Cipher Cracked

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Another historical cipher, this one from the 1600s, has been cracked: Senior math major Lucas Mason-Brown, who has done the majority of the decoding, said his first instinct was to develop a statistical tool. The 21-year-old from Belmont, Mass., used frequency analysis, which looks at the frequency of letters or groups of letters in a text, but initially didn't get...

Wed, 05 Dec 2012 08:40:35 UTC

Programming Languages vs. Fat Fingers

Posted By Diomidis D. Spinellis

A substitution of a comma with a period in project Mercury's working Fortran code compromised the accuracy of the results, rendering them unsuitable for longer orbital missions. How probable are such events and how does a programming language's design affect their likelihood and severity? In a paper I recently presented at the 4th Annual International Workshop on Evaluation and Usability of Programming Languages and Tools I showed results obtained by randomly perturbing similar programs written in diverse languages to see whether the compiler or run-time system would detect those changes as errors, or whether these would end-up generating incorrect output.

Tue, 04 Dec 2012 23:48:27 UTC

Friends computers, more pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

While in town, dropped in to the Friends of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens with intent to attach an Ethernet cable for the third computer and a USB cable extension for Lorraine Powell, who hates fiddling round behind the computer. It turned out that the third computer already had a cableit looks like I had done it myself and forgotten. And I couldn't attach the USB cable because the computer only had two sockets at the back, and they were both in use. It's a funny looking little metal cube with strange controls on the frontI'm continually looking for the power buttonso I investigated and discovered a couple of secret flaps, one hiding a DVD drive, and the other a set of connectors, including two USB sockets!

Tue, 04 Dec 2012 18:30:09 UTC

New at LISA: Watch the tutorials via live-streaming!

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

As you know, I'll be teaching 3 tutorials at LISA this year (Intro To Time Management, Advanced Time Managemente, and Ganeti/Build a private cloud). If you can't attend in person you can still watch over the internet. The cost is about the same as being there, and there will be a chatroom so that you can ask questions just like in-person attendees. However, you save money of travel and hotel. See you there at the conference or via the interwebz!

Tue, 04 Dec 2012 18:06:54 UTC


Posted By Herb Sutter

On yesterdays thread, I just wrote in a comment: @Jon: Yes, C++ is complex and the complexity is largely because of C compatibility. I agree with Bjarne that theres a small language struggling to get out  Ive participated in private experiments to specify such a language, and you can do it in well under [...]

Tue, 04 Dec 2012 15:41:17 UTC

Heres what ICT should really teach kids: how to do regular expressions

Posted By Cory Doctorow

The Guardian

Tue, 04 Dec 2012 15:40:56 UTC

Computer classes should teach regular expressions to kids

Posted By Cory Doctorow

My latest Guardian column is "Here's what ICT should really teach kids: how to do regular expressions," and it makes the case for including regular expressions in foundational IT and computer science courses. Regexp offer incredible power to normal people in their normal computing tasks, and we treat them as deep comp-sci, instead of something … [Read more]

Tue, 04 Dec 2012 00:20:46 UTC

Internode: 3 ADSL dropouts per day are normal

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've put in a ticket with Internode support about the continued poor quality of service I've had with my wireless Internet connection, which continues. I made the mistake of supplying not only the obvious information, like the remote termination requests, but also supporting information like the frequent cell hopping. So I get a reply saying that cell hopping is normal, and ignoring the real problem. From my reply to them: You also haven't addressed this part of the ticket: Apart from this, I continually receive remote termination requests: Nov 29 09:55:42 nerd-gw ppp[63956]: tun0: LCP: deflink: RecvTerminateReq(7) state = Opened Nov 29 09:55:42 nerd-gw ppp[63956]: tun0: LCP: deflink: LayerDown Nov 29 09:55:42 nerd-gw ppp[63956]: tun0: LCP: deflink: SendTerminateAck(7) state = Opened Nov 29 09:55:42 nerd-gw ppp[63956]: tun0: LCP: deflink: State change Opened ...

Mon, 03 Dec 2012 21:34:30 UTC

Perspective: Why C++ Is Not Back

Posted By Herb Sutter

John Sonmez wrote a nice article on the weekend  both the article and the comments are worth reading. Why C++ Is Not Back by John Sonmez I love C++. [&] There are plenty of excellent developers I know today that still use C++ and teach others how to use it and there is nothing [...]

Mon, 03 Dec 2012 20:00:00 UTC

Play services

Posted By Tim Bray

Theres a new release of Google Play services, which brings some love to the long-unrevised Maps API, and introduces Photo Sphere APIs. The world hasnt figured out how big a deal Play services is; one of the highest-impact changes in Androids history. Historically, big new features in Android required Framework revisions, which require major releases with updates right down into the Linux kernel, which only ship twice a year, and which arent reliably made available on older devices. Play services allows the Android group to ship major new features (OAuth 2.0, Mapping, and Photo Sphere so far) in a way that is auto-refreshed on all compatible devices back to 2.2 Froyo.

Mon, 03 Dec 2012 13:24:27 UTC

Feudal Security

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Its a feudal world out there. Some of us have pledged our allegiance to Google: We have Gmail accounts, we use Google Calendar and Google Docs, and we have Android phones. Others have pledged allegiance to Apple: We have Macintosh laptops, iPhones, and iPads; and we let iCloud automatically synchronize and back up everything. Still others of us let Microsoft...

Mon, 03 Dec 2012 00:22:06 UTC

More X hangs!

Posted By Greg Lehey

While working on the panoramas, ran into an old enemy: the X hang with the cursor jumping between the screens. Not once, but twice in quick succession. I suppose I should report the bug, but they want me to log in, and I'm not sure I want to share my account details with them.

Sun, 02 Dec 2012 23:13:41 UTC

Fisheyes and stitching suboptimal panoramas

Posted By Greg Lehey

My investigation of fisheye lenses is on hold for the moment. The lens I was looking at fetched a record $532, far more than I had thought it was worth. But the discussion goes on, and on the Hugin discussion Erik Krause pointed me at this description of the projection of the Samyang lens. Much more to learn. On the German list a side topic sprang up: Subhash wanted a tutorial on using Hugin, and then ran into trouble with a series of photos not originally intended as a panorama and thus not taken with a panorama bracket. And he couldn't get them to stitch.

Sun, 02 Dec 2012 20:00:00 UTC

Private By Default

Posted By Tim Bray

As of now, this blogs primary address is; note the red s. That means your communication with it is private, which I think is the way the whole Internet should be. Depending which browser youre using, you should see a little lock or some such in the address bar. On the right are readouts from (top down) Chrome, Safari, and Firefox. You can click on that readout to get some information on the privacy/security settings. What It Means The way this is set up, you can be pretty sure, when you see that lock, of two things: First, that your browser is really connected to, not some other site pretending to be mine.

Sat, 01 Dec 2012 02:12:29 UTC

256 cores by 2013?

Posted By Herb Sutter

I just saw a tweet thats worth commenting on: Almost right, and we have already reached that. I said something similar to the above, but with two important differences: I said hardware threads, not only hardware cores  it was about the amount of hardware parallelism available on a mainstream system. What I gave was [...]

Sat, 01 Dec 2012 00:09:54 UTC


Posted By Greg Lehey

I hate Captchas! And they seem to be getting more and more prevalent. A couple of days ago I received a mail message from and replied from an address different from the one he sent the message to. Bang! A reply with subject My spam filter requires verification of your email address. Not a problem; I suppose it really does help reduce spam. Follow the link, enter the detailsand fill out a particularly emetic Captcha! No, I won't do it. Let him do it if he wants mail from me. Then today I had the problem again. Yvonne is attending a training session in Rokeby with Robyn Hood next week.