Blog Archive: December 2011

Sat, 31 Dec 2011 20:00:00 UTC

Local Uncertainty Maximum

Posted By Tim Bray

Welcome to the end of the year. As I look forward into 2012, I foresee, uh... almost nothing. In fact I cant recall a time when the uncertainty was so pervasive. Here is a small compendium of prognosticational impotence. Asia Every year that China goes on just going on astounds me. Even if everything went just right, the law of big numbers is making it harder to sustain 10% annual economic growth; and the political bargain in recent years has been that the middle class should shut up in the face of brutal oppression and pervasive corruption, in exchange for the growth-driven flow of prosperity.

Sat, 31 Dec 2011 07:06:11 UTC

War on General Purpose Computing auf Deutsch

Posted By Cory Doctorow

Christian Wöhrl has produced a German translation of my 28C3 talk, The Coming War on General Purpose Computing. Thanks, Christian!

Fri, 30 Dec 2011 12:11:13 UTC

Studying Airport Security

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Alan A. Kirschenbaum, Michele Mariani, Coen Van Gulijk, Sharon Lubasz, Carmit Rapaport, and Hinke Andriessen, "Airport Security: An Ethnographic Study," Journal of Air Transport Management, 18 (January 2012): 68-73 (full article is behind a paywall). Abstract: This paper employs a behavioral science perspective of airport security to, examine security related decision behaviors using exploratory ethnographic observations. Sampling employees from a...

Fri, 30 Dec 2011 01:53:11 UTC

Welcome to the Jungle

Posted By Herb Sutter

With so much happening in the computing world, now seemed like the right time to write Welcome to the Jungle  a sequel to my earlier The Free Lunch Is Over essay. Heres the introduction:   Welcome to the Jungle In the twilight of Moores Law, the transitions to multicore processors, GPU computing, and HaaS [...]

Thu, 29 Dec 2011 21:54:40 UTC

BSD on the desktop, 20 years on

Posted By Greg Lehey

One of the best forewords I've read was to the third edition of Evi Nemeth's UNIX® System Administration Handbook: Suddenly, managing a PC starts to lot a lot like administering a UNIX box: It's easy! Just click here, then you have to turn off the printer to use the network (select here, pull down this menu, and click on Disable and Apply), then pull down this menu, then select the selector, type in your hostname here, then click here, here and double-click here (dismiss that dialog box, it always gives that, I don't know why...)

Thu, 29 Dec 2011 19:58:17 UTC

Tying Up Phone Lines as a Cyberattack Tactic

Posted By Bruce Schneier

There's a service that can be hired to tie up target phone lines indefinitely. The article talks about how this can be used as a diversionary tactic to mask a cyberattack, but that seems a bit odd to me. I'd be more concerned about how this sort of thing could be used to disrupt the operations of a political candidate...

Thu, 29 Dec 2011 15:47:40 UTC

Hacking Marconi's Wireless in 1903

Posted By Bruce Schneier

A great story: Yet before the demonstration could begin, the apparatus in the lecture theatre began to tap out a message. At first, it spelled out just one word repeated over and over. Then it changed into a facetious poem accusing Marconi of "diddling the public". Their demonstration had been hacked -- and this was more than 100 years before...

Wed, 28 Dec 2011 17:40:33 UTC

Butt Identification

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Here's a new biometric: how you sit: ...researchers there developed a system that can recognize a person by the backside when the person takes a seat. The system performs a precise measurement of the person's posterior, its contours and the way the person applies pressure on the seat. The developers say that in lab tests, the system was able to...

Wed, 28 Dec 2011 15:00:00 UTC

The Dumbest Idea In The World: Maximizing Shareholder Value

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

For a long time I've had some serious issues with CEOs putting such a focus on the stock price instead of customer satisfaction. I've usually figured that I was an outsider, too ignorant of how economics or how business works to know any better. In fact, there was a time (about 5 years ago) that I was seriously considering going for an MBA so I could understand this all better. However I realized that what I really wanted to do was wait for various principles to be explained (like, "focus on shareholder value") and bring up my all my counter-examples. That's not a good reason to get an MBA.

Wed, 28 Dec 2011 15:00:00 UTC

Why do we use computers?

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

Wed, 28 Dec 2011 10:29:56 UTC

Pretend Invitations

Posted By Diomidis D. Spinellis

Choosing between people you want to invite to a function and people you have to invite is sometimes difficult. Say Alice wants to invite Tom, Dick, and Harry to a party, but she'd actually prefer if Dick didn't show up. Here's how Alice can send invitations by email from an email-capable Unix system to achieve the desired result, while covering her scheming with plausible deniability.

Wed, 28 Dec 2011 05:36:10 UTC

The Coming War on General Purpose Computation

Posted By Cory Doctorow

Here's the video of my keynote last night at the 28C3, the Chaos Computer Congress in Berlin, entitled "The coming war on general computation." The last 20 years of Internet policy have been dominated by the copyright war, but the war turns out only to have been a skirmish. The coming century will be dominated … [Read more]

Tue, 27 Dec 2011 23:49:09 UTC

Parsley and the dead VoIP ATA

Posted By Greg Lehey

Things always fail at the most inappropriate time. Round midday I started work on the turkey stuffing, and couldn't find the parsley. Tried to call Yvonne, who was at the Yeardley's, and the phone started ringing immediately. Normally there's a one or two second delay while the VoIP network does its thing. Despite other failings, Telstra provides an apparently immediate connection. So clearly I was being connected via Telstra. Why? Closer investigation showed a very hot, non-responsive ATA. Power cycling didn't help: it was dead. Not the end of the world: I have two of them from the days when I worked ( and

Tue, 27 Dec 2011 20:00:00 UTC

Type-System Criteria

Posted By Tim Bray

Starting some time around 2005, under the influence of Perl, Python, Erlang, and Ruby, I became convinced that application programs should be written in dynamically-typed languages. You get it built faster, theres less code to maintain, and the bugs are no worse. Ive felt negative not just about statically-typed tools in general, but about the Java programming language in particular. Living in the Android world has forced me to think about this more. The Old Argument Its remarkable that, fifty or so years after Software Engineering joined the mainstream, we have so little consensus on these issues. There are many people, including some here at Google, who think that doing large-scale software engineering without recourse to static typing is unprofessional, verging on malpractice.

Tue, 27 Dec 2011 15:00:00 UTC

Super Wi-Fi is better than just "super"

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

[This is still at 'first draft' quality, but I thought I'd post it sooner rather than later. Please ignore the typos for now.] I recently twittered my delight that the FCC approval of "super Wi-Fi" is going to be regarded as a historic moment five years from now. I mean it. Here's why: In geek terms: This gives permission to treat the airwaves like Ethernet networking, not like Teleco networking. More modern and more flexible. In non-geek terms, this decision by the FCC makes it easier to innovate. It makes it safe and easy to try new things With the possibility of experimentation comes new applications and ideas.

Tue, 27 Dec 2011 12:22:54 UTC

The Collar Bomb Robbery

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Really interesting story of the collar-bomb robbery -- and subsequent investigation -- from 2003....

Mon, 26 Dec 2011 22:38:04 UTC

More experience with DxO

Posted By Greg Lehey

Spent a lot of time playing with DxO Optics "Pro". Gradually I'm getting used to the idea of waiting 5 or 10 seconds to see if my mouse click had any effect or not. Why can't they give some visual feedback? Didn't really come up with any real new discoveries. Time to RTFM, all 141 pages of it.

Mon, 26 Dec 2011 22:33:23 UTC

Is my Microsoft pirated?

Posted By Greg Lehey

While bumbling around in a maze of twisty little menus, all different, on braindeath, Chris Yeardley's Microsoft XP machine, found a selection Is my copy of Windows[sic] pirated? or some suchI can't find it again to check. For the fun of it, selected it and got this page: Server Error in '/howtotell' Application.. The accompanying text relates to remote access, but I was accessing it locally. I wonder if it ever works. That wasn't the only problem. At some point I got this: What's that?

Mon, 26 Dec 2011 14:39:56 UTC

Hacking Subway's POS System

Posted By Bruce Schneier

The story of how Subway's point-of-sale system was hacked for $3M....

Sun, 25 Dec 2011 23:19:31 UTC

DxO conversions: preliminary verdict

Posted By Greg Lehey

I processed all the photos above with DxO Optics "Pro" and the realistic profile for the Single-shot HDR. It's a good compromise. In some cases, I think it would have been better without, but it reminds me of the first film I took in an Asahi Pentax “Spotmatic”, over 45 years ago. I didn't even need to print the negatives; compared to the results I got with my SV (despite exposure meter), everything just looked so evenly exposed that I was convinced. These results were similar. Went to some lengths to compare them in more detail, including writing another script to generate web pages, but it's clear that I need to do more than that.

Sun, 25 Dec 2011 22:54:46 UTC

Coming to terms with DxO

Posted By Greg Lehey

I returned Chris Yeardley's laptop to her yesterday, as promised. But that wasn't the best of ideas: now I have purchased DxO Optics "Pro" and don't have any machine to run it on, and that on the day of the month where I have the most photos to process. Over to Chris' place to borrow another machine, this one running Microsoft Windows XP. Setting up was amazingly easy compared to Windows 7, and I was going to praise it for ease of use until I discovered that this was a machine I had already borrowed and configured 8 months ago and been through similar pain then.

Sun, 25 Dec 2011 16:28:21 UTC

Merry Christmas from the TSA

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Cupcakes deemed security threat: Rebecca Hains says she was going through security at the airport in Las Vegas when a TSA agent pulled her aside and said the cupcake frosting was "gel-like" enough to constitute a security risk. The TSA has officially jumped the shark....

Sat, 24 Dec 2011 23:53:09 UTC

House photos with DxO

Posted By Greg Lehey

Sat, 24 Dec 2011 21:45:02 UTC

Stopping SOPA

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

The problem with companies that used to support SOPA but have turned around, is that they supported it in the first place. The problem with stopping SOPA is that the people behind it are committed to bringing it back in another form, some day, some how. The problem with SOPA is that many of the bad things in SOPA are things that the U.S. government has been doing lately either unofficially or through "cooperation" with companies. The defeat of SOPA will not be the end of the general problem.

Sat, 24 Dec 2011 00:10:39 UTC

Friday Squid Blogging: Goldman Sachs and the Vampire Squid Metaphor

Posted By Bruce Schneier

It's a metaphor that will not die. As usual, you can also use this squid post to talk about the security stories in the news that I haven't covered....

Fri, 23 Dec 2011 23:58:26 UTC

Hard disk docking station

Posted By Greg Lehey

Notification slip in the letter box today: a package had arrived for me. I've been waiting for a rotator for my camera, so went in to the post office to pick it up. And of course it was the other package, the eSATA docking station that I ordered at the same time. Sure, I want that too, but it wasn't nearly as important. Unpacked the device and discovered it wasn't exactly what was advertised. Yes, it has two disk slots, but one's for PATA and the other's for eSATA: The instruction booklet proved to be only to describe how to use the supplied software (for Microsoft only, of course) and the on-device firmware for hardware cloning, copying a disk in an unspecified direction.

Fri, 23 Dec 2011 20:50:39 UTC

Santa Hacked

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Mildly amusing video....

Fri, 23 Dec 2011 17:03:00 UTC

Me on Airport Security

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Charles Mann made me the central focus of his article on airport security for Vanity Fair. (Mann also wrote about me in 2002 for The Atlantic.) The article was supposed to have been in the tenth-anniversary-of-9/11 issue, but got delayed....

Fri, 23 Dec 2011 13:51:45 UTC

Human Ear Biometric

Posted By Bruce Schneier

I have no idea how good this biometric actually is....

Fri, 23 Dec 2011 00:13:24 UTC

Electric collars: useless

Posted By Greg Lehey

Nemo's electric collar was dried out today, and it works again. Went out for a walk to try it out. Not a revelation. The range seems to be about 10 metres when you're lucky, and you can't rely on it to work further away than 3 metresless than the length of the leash. Nemo noticed the vibrator when it was set higher than about 30%, and looked at us with interest. Certainly nothing to stop him in his tracks. If the shock works at all, he did a good job of ignoring it. There are two issues here, of course: is this particular device a good example of its kind, and does an electric collar make any sense for dog training?

Fri, 23 Dec 2011 00:08:31 UTC

Fixing RSS markup

Posted By Greg Lehey

Callum Gibson still wasn't happy with my copout in serving the RSS of my diary. It seems that there were two issues: relative URLs (a problem I've had to deal with again and again) and the onmouseover functionality. If I solved the first issue, I could at least display the before image, though experiments showed that onmouseover still broke the rendition in newsfox. Ended up writing a function to do the switch in HTML and just show the former image in RSS. I suppose Callum's happy now.

Fri, 23 Dec 2011 00:00:03 UTC

Google Chrome: amazing!

Posted By Greg Lehey

Chris Yeardley had some concerns about web site security related to Google Chrome. They were clearly unfoundedbut how many times do I say things like that only to be proven wrong? Clearly it's worth trying out to be completely sure. Since I still have her laptop, tried installing Chrome on it. The download page I got was amazing: I'm amazed. What's clever about clicking on a web link?

Thu, 22 Dec 2011 12:09:44 UTC

Giveaway: Liars and Outliers Galleys

Posted By Bruce Schneier

My box of galley copies arrived in the mail yesterday. They're filled with uncorrected typos, but otherwise look great. Wiley printed about 500 of them, and they're mostly going to journalists and book reviewers, with some going to different wholesale and retail outlets. I have 20 copies to give away to readers of my blog and Crypto-Gram. Earlier this month,...

Thu, 22 Dec 2011 00:56:38 UTC

RSS: limiting expression

Posted By Greg Lehey

Callum Gibson is the only person I know who always reads the RSS version of my diary. He had problems with my report on photo stuff yesterday. It proves that the JavaScript tricks I'm doing with the photos are incompatible with RSS, so I had to remove them and replace them with a link to the diary. I never did like RSS.

Thu, 22 Dec 2011 00:55:02 UTC

More photo comparisons

Posted By Greg Lehey

Spent much of the day playing around with methods to compare software, and finally came up with a set of pages showing comparisons between the four corners and the centres of photos processed in two different ways. It was a lot of work, and it's not perfect, but it shows a surprising number of things. Firstly, the DxO HDR function makes so little difference that it's barely recognizable. I spent about 10 minutes trying to work out why my mouseover function no longer worked, until I realized that the images were effectively identical (though with careful examination minor differences were apparent). The following discussion uses features that are not available in RSS.

Thu, 22 Dec 2011 00:33:33 UTC

Nemo does another runner

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yvonne returned from the morning walk this morning without Nemo: he had done another runner into the lagoon, and returned later with proof that there's still water in the lagoon. Clearly he hasn't learnt from his experience in the Wimmera last month. Time to put the electric collar into actionif he will pay attention to it. Tried it out, and it wouldn't register with the remote control: it was full of water. That's a clever construction. Took the collar apart to dry it out; hopefully it will still work when it's dry again.

Wed, 21 Dec 2011 14:27:40 UTC

New Years Resolutions and Time Management

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

One part of "The Cycle" is that you should keep a list of long-term projects and review it every few months. There are two specific times you should always review it: around budget time (this is where you record those great projects that are so big they'll require funding), and around New Years (the list usually inspires good New Years Resolutions). The list has a couple "secret" functions. First, when your main todo list is growing out of control, it can be very useful to move some of the more audacious goals onto this list. Secondly, sometimes an idea is taking up brain-space and you just need to write it somewhere.

Wed, 21 Dec 2011 11:55:34 UTC

Chinese Hacking of iBahn Internet Services

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Citing unexplained "intelligence data," an unnamed "senior intelligence official," and an anonymous "privacy security official," Bloomberg News claims that iBahn -- the company that runs Internet services for a bunch of hotel chains -- has been hacked by the Chinese. The rest of the story is pretty obvious: all sorts of private e-mails stolen, corporate networks hacked via iBahn, China...

Wed, 21 Dec 2011 03:53:20 UTC

Links for Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Posted By Jeff Barr

Mastering Emacs: What’s New in EMACS 24 (Part 1) – “With Emacs 24 looming around the corner I figured it was time I took a close look at all the new features and changes” Part 2. Tilted Twister: Tilted Twister … Continue reading →

Wed, 21 Dec 2011 00:01:50 UTC

Yahoo!: Why should we care if you get spammed?

Posted By Greg Lehey

Another unsolicited mail message today: Date: 19 Dec 2011 10:22:48 -0000 From: saopun Moderator <saopun-[email protected]> To: [email protected] Subject: Welcome to the saopun group Message-ID: <[email protected]> I've added you to my saopun group at Yahoo! Groups, a free, easy-to-use service. Yahoo! Groups makes it easy to send and receive group messages, coordinate events, share photos and files, and more. Description of the group: ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ebey4qk1012u04ge8u1 Complete your Yahoo! Groups account: ... The description is enough to know that it's spam of some kind. The correct thing to do with this should be to send it to [email protected], and they should deal with it.

Tue, 20 Dec 2011 22:35:36 UTC

Playing with DxO Optics "Pro"

Posted By Greg Lehey

Spent some time this morning considering how to compare the results of DxO Optics "Pro" with other image processing methods. Came up with a relatively mechanical system where I take two trees with files with the same name and generate 5 crops from each: top left, top right, centre, bottom left and bottom right. Then I created a web page with each image, using the established technique of mouseover image switch to show a direct comparison of each image. The first attempt was simply a single line per image (old and new), so it's not immediately clear what part of the original image it represents.

Tue, 20 Dec 2011 20:54:28 UTC

Config Management Rosetta Stone

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

Yesterday on the SysAdvent calendar Aleksey Tsalolikhin has an article about configuration management. It includes a comparison of how to the same in in various languages: bash, CFEngine, chef and Puppet. Seeing how the languages differ is very interesting! SysAdvent: December 19 - Configuration Management

Tue, 20 Dec 2011 12:24:12 UTC

Multiple Protocol Attacks

Posted By Bruce Schneier

In 1997, I wrote about something called a chosen-protocol attack, where an attacker can use one protocol to break another. Here's an example of the same thing in the real world: two different parking garages that mask different digits of credit cards on their receipts. Find two from the same car, and you can reconstruct the entire number. I have...

Mon, 19 Dec 2011 23:56:47 UTC

DxO Optics "Pro" 7: first impression

Posted By Greg Lehey

So finally I got Microsoft to the point where I could install DxO Optics Pro, another 200 MB of package. It downloaded relatively quickly, and once again I was left scratching my head as to how to use it. But it's user friendlier now: it now allows you to select files instead of projects, like all other programs in the Microsoft space by clicking on silly icons. For the test I had chosen the photos I had taken on 10 December 2011, all 371 of them. And of course it had to display icons for all of them, which took about 5 minutes.

Mon, 19 Dec 2011 23:25:27 UTC

Coming to terms with Microsoft "Windows" 7

Posted By Greg Lehey

DxO Labs have come out with a new version of their DxO Optics Pro package, which I tried some months ago, and which I had ultimately found too slow for serious use. The new version, they claim, is up to four times faster (a remarkable speed). But, again, it only runs on Microsoft and Apple, and the Apple version always lags the Microsoft version. So tried once again to borrow the computer that Chris Yeardley lent me last time. Surprise: I already have it, and I'm running my Internet gateway on it. But this is just for a testI must really get the 64 bit version of FreeBSD running on dereel so that I can run Microsoft in a VirtualBox with sufficient memoryso she offered to lend me her main laptop, with 4 GB memory, until the end of the week.

Mon, 19 Dec 2011 19:38:57 UTC

How to Open a Padlock with a Coke Can

Posted By Bruce Schneier

A nice tutorial on making and using shims to open padlocks....

Mon, 19 Dec 2011 12:48:40 UTC

Plasmonics Anti-Counterfeiting Technology

Posted By Bruce Schneier

This could be interesting: NOtES exploits an obscure area of physics to accomplish its bright and sharp display, known as plasmonics. Light waves interact with the array of nano-scale holes on a NOtES display--which are typically 100-200 nanometers in diameter--in a way that creates what are called "surface plasmons." In the words of the company, this means light "[collects] on...

Mon, 19 Dec 2011 12:14:37 UTC

An Urgent Christmas Message

Posted By Cory Doctorow

No reading this time -- I'm too hard at work on finishing the sequel to Little Brother -- but a Christmas wish from me to you: fight SOPA and save the Internet before the year is out! Mastering by John Taylor Williams: [email protected] John Taylor Williams is a full-time self-employed audio engineer, producer, composer, and … [Read more]

Mon, 19 Dec 2011 02:30:00 UTC

The Influence of the Ecstasy of Influence

Posted By Benjamin Mako Hill

Back in 2007, Harpers Magazine published The Ecstasy of Influence: a beautiful article by Jonathan Lethem on reuse in art and literature. Like Lewis Hyde in The Gift (quite like Hyde, as readers discover) Lethem blurs the line between plagiarism, remix, and influence and points to his subject at the center of artistic production. Lethem's gimmick, which most readers only discover at the end, is that the article is constructed entirely out of "reused" (i.e., plagiarized) quotations and paraphrases. A couple months ago, I suggested to my friend Andrés Monroy-Hernández a very similar project: a literature review on academic work on remixing and remixing communities constructed entirely of text lifted from existing research.

Sun, 18 Dec 2011 22:59:02 UTC

Computers or technology?

Posted By Greg Lehey

I have divided my diary entries into 10 different categories, regarding various things I do. Many blog systems have an order of magnitude more, but I think 10 are enough; in general it makes more sense for people to display all and skip stuff that doesn't interest them. But the titles of these categories awake certain expectations: the term computer increasingly leaves out large areas of digital technology. I also have photography and multimedia, and frequently the topics overlap. That's OK, since I can choose as many topics as I like, but maybe the tag computer is misleading for many topics.

Sat, 17 Dec 2011 23:07:23 UTC

Governments and technology don't mix

Posted By Greg Lehey

In Australia we've had to put up for years with incompetent legislators interfering in the network infrastructure. Twelve years ago they brought out the Broadcasting Services Amendment Act (BSA), designed to stop filth on the Internet, or some similarly vague idea. It was passed, implemented and forgotten. And somehow it seems appropriate that the Government web site with the text of the act should be overloaded on a Sunday morning: Today I can't even easily find a clear reference to what it was intended to do.

Sat, 17 Dec 2011 21:35:37 UTC

More house photo pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

House photos again today, and once again problems. For one thing, it was windier than I would have liked, making merging HDR images difficulthow I wish people would come out with digital sensors with a higher dynamic range. I also managed to take most of the photos with the focussing rail set off by a couple of centimetres, which in fact didn't make as much difference as I had feared. In addition, discovered what looks like a firmware bug in my Olympus E-30. I'm taking the verandah photos in groups of three, and only the first is supposed to have flash.

Sat, 17 Dec 2011 11:31:55 UTC

Advice from Successful Greek IT Startups

Posted By Diomidis D. Spinellis

Members of the Hellenic Association of Mobile Application Companies and the Hellenic Semiconductor Industry Association , assorted biotechnology companies, and representatives from Greek and US-based venture capital funds gathered on Friday December 17, 2011 in a meeting to exchange advice, tips, and war stories on venturing abroad. It was one of the most inspiring meetings I've attended for some time. These are my notes from the meeting.

Sat, 17 Dec 2011 00:47:01 UTC

Reach out and touch someone

Posted By Greg Lehey

We've been considering a remote controlled electric collar for Nemo for some time. The idea is to give the dog a mild electric shock if it is disobedient. Traditional dog trainers are, of course, horrified about the idea of giving the dog an electric shock, and it took us some time to accept the idea. From a purely training point of view, of course, most trainers accept that animals must be punished for disobedience, though rewards for good behaviour are much better. But in general punishment requires the proximity of the animal. Horse trainers can sing a song about that one.

Fri, 16 Dec 2011 22:24:15 UTC

Friday Squid Blogging: Squid Season

Posted By Bruce Schneier

It's squid season off the coast of Southern California. As usual, you can also use this squid post to talk about the security stories in the news that I haven't covered....

Fri, 16 Dec 2011 20:52:10 UTC

Me Speaking on Cryptography in 1997

Posted By Bruce Schneier

In 1997, I spoke at the Beyond HOPE Conference in New York. (HOPE stood for "Hackers Over Planet Earth.) A video of that talk is available online....

Fri, 16 Dec 2011 20:00:00 UTC

Mobile 2011

Posted By Tim Bray

What a year. Ive been doing technology for way more than half my life and some other times have been as intense but nothing I remember combines speed and scale like the last twelve months. How about a year-end survey? Good: Momentum I mean the numbers you get at the beginning of every Android presentation, from me or anyone else: Hundreds of millions of this and billions of that. The interesting numbers arent Androids or Apples but the aggregates, which chart our progress toward putting the Net in the pocket or purse of every literate human. What does that do to the world?

Fri, 16 Dec 2011 19:28:39 UTC

Cameo in a Rock Video

Posted By Bruce Schneier

At the 1:46 mark, you'll see my first cameo appearance in a transvestite-themed rock video....

Fri, 16 Dec 2011 18:01:45 UTC

More on the Captured U.S. Drone

Posted By Bruce Schneier

There's a report that Iran hacked the drones' GPS systems: "The GPS navigation is the weakest point," the Iranian engineer told the Monitor, giving the most detailed description yet published of Iran's "electronic ambush" of the highly classified US drone. "By putting noise [jamming] on the communications, you force the bird into autopilot. This is where the bird loses its...

Fri, 16 Dec 2011 17:21:18 UTC

Snow Cone Machines for Homeland Security

Posted By Bruce Schneier

When you give out money based on politics, without any accounting, this is what you get: The West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission (WMSRDC) is a federal- and state-designated agency responsible for managing and administrating the homeland security program in Montcalm County and 12 other counties. The WMSRDC recently purchased and transferred homeland security equipment to these counties -- including...

Fri, 16 Dec 2011 13:04:32 UTC

The EFF's Sovereign Key Proposal

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Proposal here....

Fri, 16 Dec 2011 05:00:00 UTC

Liars and Outliers Galleys

Posted By Bruce Schneier

My publisher is printing galley copies of Liars and Outliers. If anyone out there has a legitimate reason to get one, like writing book reviews for a newspaper, magazine, popular blog, etc., send me an e-mail and I'll forward your request to Wiley's PR department. I think they'll be ready in a week or so, although it might be after...

Thu, 15 Dec 2011 21:59:22 UTC

Chasing the reception problems

Posted By Greg Lehey

Once again TV reception is terrible, at least on some channels. Over the months I've eliminated a number of causes, including poor cablesI thinkand cross-talk between the tuners. And more and more it seems to relate to specific channels and specific times of the day. But at the moment it seems to be happening all the time on some channels. At the very least, I need to find a way to monitor what's going on. One starting point is the program femon that I looked at a few months ago. It's like tzap, but it works when MythTV is running. The output is a little hard to interpret, but I can change thatif I could find the sources.

Thu, 15 Dec 2011 18:50:39 UTC

Investigative Report on "Buckshot Yankee"

Posted By Bruce Schneier

This is a really good analysis about the Buckshot Yankee attack against the classified military computer network in 2008. It contains a bunch of details I had not previously known....

Thu, 15 Dec 2011 15:53:24 UTC

Two interesting Python tutorials

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

A great explanation about "yield" followed by a discussion of coroutines and more: Generator Tricks for Systems Programmers In the sequel, he goes into even more detail and the uses all the information to write an operating system in Python. A Curious Course on Coroutines and Concurrency:

Thu, 15 Dec 2011 03:00:00 UTC

Expanding the Cloud  Introducing the AWS South America (Sao Paulo) Region

Posted By Werner Vogels

Today, Amazon Web Services is expanding its worldwide coverage with the launch of a new AWS Region in Sao Paulo, Brazil. This new Region has been highly requested by companies worldwide, and it provides low-latency access to AWS services for those who target customers in South America. South America is one of the fastest growing economic regions in the world. In particular, South American IT-oriented companies are seeing very rapid growth. Case in point: over the past 10 years IT has risen to become 7% of the GDP in Brazil. With the launch of the South America (Sao Paolo) Region, AWS now provides companies large and small with infrastructure that allows them to get to market faster while reducing their costs which enables them to focus on delivering value, instead of wasting time on non-differentiating tasks.

Wed, 14 Dec 2011 19:22:03 UTC

Feeling vs. Reality of Security in Sparrows

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Sparrows have fewer surviving offspring if they feel insecure, regardless of whether they actually are insecure. Liana Y. Zanette, Aija F. White, Marek C. Allen, and Michael Clinchy, "Perceived Predation Risk Reduces the Number of Offspring Songbirds Produce per Year," Science, 9 Dec 2011: Abstract: Predator effects on prey demography have traditionally been ascribed solely to direct killing in studies...

Wed, 14 Dec 2011 17:43:25 UTC

Hyder: Transactional Indexed Record Manager for Shared Flash Storage

Posted By James Hamilton

If you work in the database world, you already know Phil Bernstein. Hes the author of Principles of Transaction Processing and has a long track record as a successful and prolific database researcher.  Past readers of this blog may remember Phils guest blog posting on Google Megastore. Over the past few years, Phil has been working on an innovative NoSQL system based upon flash storage. I like the work because it pushes the limit of what can be done on a single server with transaction rates approaching 400,000, leverages the characteristics of flash storage in a thought provoking way, and employs interesting techniques such as log-only storage.

Wed, 14 Dec 2011 15:24:31 UTC

Apps are the New Users

Posted By Diomidis D. Spinellis

Some facilities provided by mature multi-user operating systems appear arcane today. Administrators of computers running Mac OS X or Linux can see users logged-in from remote terminals, they can specify limits on the disk space one can use, and they can run accounting statistics to see how much CPU time or disk I/O a user has consumed over a month. These operating systems also offer facilities to group users together, to specify various protection levels for each user's files, and to prescribe which commands a user can run.

Wed, 14 Dec 2011 12:17:39 UTC

Yet More Fear-Mongering from the DHS

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Al Qaeda is sewing bombs into people. Actually, not really. This is an "aspirational" terrorist threat, which basically means that someone mentioned it while drunk in a bar somewhere. Of course, that won't stop the DHS from trying to terrorize people with the idea and the security-industrial complex from selling us an expensive "solution" to reduce our fears. Wired: "So:...

Tue, 13 Dec 2011 23:42:58 UTC

What use are gardening books?

Posted By Greg Lehey

So now I have a total of 13 books from two different libraries about bulbs and other like plants. I've already established that one of them doesn't show any corm that looks even remotely like this one: What about the others? The plants I know are Watsonia and Chasmanthe floribunda. I finally found the answer: the third kind is Crocosmia. But the books didn't help much, beyond showing some flower images that I can correlate with my older photos.

Tue, 13 Dec 2011 18:46:26 UTC

Assessing Terrorist Threats to Commercial Aviation

Posted By Bruce Schneier

This article on airplane security says many of the same things I've been saying for years: Given the breadth and complexity of threats to commercial aviation, those who criticize the TSA and other aviation security regulatory agencies for reactive policies and overly narrow focus appear to have substantial grounding. Three particularly serious charges can be levied against the TSA: it...

Tue, 13 Dec 2011 12:30:41 UTC

Iranians Capture U.S. Drone

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Iran has captured a U.S. surveillance drone. No one is sure how it happened. Looking at the pictures of the drone, it wasn't shot down and it didn't crash. The various fail-safe mechanisms on the drone seem to have failed; otherwise, it would have returned home. The U.S. claims that it was a simple "malfunction," but that doesn't make a...

Tue, 13 Dec 2011 01:55:11 UTC

Still more TV recoding problems

Posted By Greg Lehey

TV reception is still very flaky. I'm becoming more and more convinced that it's interference. Today I found a recording floundering round 900 MB after an hour of recording. Clearly it was toast, but it was worth trying recording on other tuners. Tried recording the same programme on another tuner, and a different programme at the same time on the third.

Tue, 13 Dec 2011 01:34:57 UTC

eBay status messages

Posted By Greg Lehey

Bought a strange device on eBay today, a combined flash card and SATA disk docking station: I'm not convinced that it will work well, but it wasn't expensive, so we'll see. But what got me was the quick shipping: Date: Sun, 11 Dec 2011 18:46:15 -0700 (GMT-07:00) From: eBay <[email protected]> To: [email protected] Hi groggyyourself, We are writing to inform you that we have shipped the item 110786777659 to you! Normally the shippment to worldwide is used to take 8 to 25 business days,because it is a Cross-border transactions.

Mon, 12 Dec 2011 20:00:00 UTC

The Extra

Posted By Tim Bray

Quiz: What is the the single Apple feature that you think best explains its price premium: Design? Performance? Integration? Aesthetics? I have another idea. I was in conversation with geeks, many of whom have a sideline in friends-and-family tech support. (Sound familiar, dear reader?) Most of us have migrated our friends and loved ones to some Apple configuration or another; pain at both ends thus minimized. But times have changed. Windows these days seems less the verminous cartoon nanny of yore; gets out of the way and does the basics. And then there are the Chromebooks. Ive never spent quality time with one, though I love the idea.

Mon, 12 Dec 2011 18:08:49 UTC

Dumbest Camera Ban Ever

Posted By Bruce Schneier

In London: While photography bans are pretty common, the station has decided to only ban DSLRs due to "their combination of high quality sensor and high resolution". Other cameras are allowed in, as long as they don't look "big" enough to shoot amazing photos. The iPhone 4S camera is pretty amazing....

Mon, 12 Dec 2011 15:39:28 UTC

YouTubes real pirates: multinational companies that claim ownership over public domain videos

Posted By Cory Doctorow

My latest Guardian column, "The pirates of YouTube," documents how multinational copyright-holding companies have laid false claim to public domain videos on YouTube -- videos posted by the nonprofit FedFlix organization, which liberates public domain government-produced videos and makes them available to the world. These videos were produced at public expense and no one can … [Read more]

Mon, 12 Dec 2011 12:09:29 UTC

First-Person Account of a TSA Airport Screener

Posted By Bruce Schneier

This is a few years old, but I seem not to have blogged it before....

Mon, 12 Dec 2011 06:25:30 UTC

Interview on Command Line about Context

Posted By Cory Doctorow

This week on The Command Line podcast, a recording of a live chat between host Thomas Gideon and myself at the New America Foundation, discussing (among other things), my new essay collection Context. (MP3)

Mon, 12 Dec 2011 00:29:02 UTC

A Summary of My Computing/Communication Environment

Posted By Eric Allman

I'm writing this mostly so I can refer to it from other postings. It's not all that interesting in itself. Hardware and Software We're a mostly BSD and Mac shop here at home. Kirk and I each have a BSD box (he runs PC-BSD, I run FreeBSD) that are at least theoretically our "main machines". I say theoretically because over the years I find that I do most of my keyboard and mouse interaction with Macs. None the less, my FreeBSD box remains my primary file and email server, and is where I do most of my programming. I also have a Linux box for testing and some work for/with third parties.

Mon, 12 Dec 2011 00:29:02 UTC

A Summary of My Computing/Communication Environment

Posted By Eric Allman

I'm writing this mostly so I can refer to it from other postings. It's not all that interesting in itself. Hardware and Software We're a mostly BSD and Mac shop here at home. Kirk and I each have a BSD box (he runs PC-BSD, I run FreeBSD) that are at least theoretically our "main machines". I say theoretically because over the years I find that I do most of my keyboard and mouse interaction with Macs. None the less, my FreeBSD box remains my primary file and email server, and is where I do most of my programming. I also have a Linux box for testing and some work for/with third parties.

Sun, 11 Dec 2011 22:53:45 UTC

A Summary of My Computing/Communication Environment

Posted By Eric Allman

I'm writing this mostly so I can refer to it from other postings. It's not all that interesting in itself. Hardware and Software We're a mostly BSD and Mac shop here at home. Kirk and I each have a BSD box (he runs PC-BSD, I run FreeBSD) that are at least theoretically our "main machines". I say theoretically because over the years I find that I do most of my keyboard and mouse interaction with Macs. None the less, my FreeBSD box remains my primary file and email server, and is where I do most of my programming. I also have a Linux box for testing and some work for/with third parties.

Sun, 11 Dec 2011 02:17:29 UTC

Recharging Nickel-Zinc batteries: how fast?

Posted By Greg Lehey

After discharging the (Nickel-Zinc) batteries in my flash unit, had a chance to see how they recharged. I haven't measured the charging time, but I guessed it to be about 5 hours in the fast charger, quite a difference from the 2½ maximum stated on the Wikipedia page. Confusingly, that refers to a document published by the maker of the charger: Fault conditions: Stop Charge [sic] if any of the following conditions occur: Total charge time exceeds 2.5 hrs.

Sat, 10 Dec 2011 21:24:17 UTC

Message from the Program Co-Chairs

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

USENIX Association LISA '10: 24th Large Installation System Administration Conference (This "welcome" letter appeared on the USB stick given to all attendees. Since most people probably missed it I thought I'd repost it here.) Message from the Program Co-Chairs Dear LISA '11 Attendee, There are two kinds of LISA attendees: those who read this letter at the conference and those who read it after they've returned home. To the first group, get ready for six days of brain-filling, technology-packed, geek-centric tutorials, speakers, papers, and more! To those that are reading this after the conference, we ask, "What's it like living in the future?

Fri, 09 Dec 2011 22:30:43 UTC

Friday Squid Blogging: Humbolt Squid Mystery Solved

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Humbolt Squid off the coast of Mexico are spawning younger and smaller than usual. El Nino is to blame. The mystery was solved by a class of biology students. (A blog of the expedition.) As usual, you can also use this squid post to talk about the security stories in the news that I haven't covered....

Fri, 09 Dec 2011 18:30:57 UTC

Robbing a Bank as Part of a Penetration Test

Posted By Bruce Schneier

A funny story....

Thu, 08 Dec 2011 22:39:03 UTC

No supplies from MSY

Posted By Greg Lehey

While in Geelong, dropped in at MSY to replace my external disk enclosure. Yes, it's under warranty, so they'll send it off, and at some time I'll get a replacement. But they didn't have any eSATA enclosures, so I left with nothing. I wonder if it's worth going there any more.

Thu, 08 Dec 2011 22:31:32 UTC

Electromagnetic radiation causes cancer!

Posted By Greg Lehey

Probably the main objection that Wendy McClelland has to wireless communications is that they cause cancer. Nothing we can say can prove otherwise. One of the problems, of course, is that electromagnetic radiation, in sufficient dosage, really does cause cancer. How much? As I've noted previously, the presentation of the data doesn't make it easy to compare. I established that the maximum radiation from the NBN tower would be about 41 ¼W/m². But what's the level of solar radiation? Discovered a new word, Insolation, along with some typical values: about 1 kW/m² in bright sunshine. There are more specific pages at Aussie RV products, which shows an average of 5.1 kWh/m² per day in Melbourne, and the Bureau of Meteorology, which shows a map of Victoria showing a current insolation of about 33 MJ/m² per day.

Thu, 08 Dec 2011 19:40:52 UTC

Lockable USB Hard Drive

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Just in time for Christmas, a USB drive housed in a physical combination lock....

Thu, 08 Dec 2011 12:12:35 UTC

DARPA Unshredding Contest

Posted By Bruce Schneier

DARPA held an unshredding contest, and there's a winner: "Lots of experts were skeptical that a solution could be produced at all let alone within the short time frame," said Dan Kaufman, director, DARPA Information Innovation Office. "The most effective approaches were not purely computational or crowd-sourced, but used a combination blended with some clever detective work. We are impressed...

Wed, 07 Dec 2011 22:40:00 UTC

Wide Scream

Posted By Benjamin Mako Hill It seems that nearly all computer monitors have now switched from a 4:3 aspect ratio popular several years ago to a "wide screen" 16:10 and now mostly to an even wider 16:9. But screen sizes are usually measured by their diagonal length and those sizes have not changed. For example, before I had my Thinkpad X201, I had a X60 and a X35. They are similar laptops in the same product line with 12.1" screens. But 12.1" describes the size along the diagonal and the aspect ratio switched from 4:3 to 16:10 between the X60 and the X201. As the screen stretched out but maintained the same diagonal length, the area shrunk: from 453 square centimeters to 425.

Wed, 07 Dec 2011 22:08:26 UTC

NBN info day, the aftermath

Posted By Greg Lehey

Call at 8 am this morning from Prue Bentley of ABC local radio regarding Wendy McClelland and the topic of the NBN info session yesterday. She wanted me to participate in a news programme on the subject, but unfortunately I didn't get to the phone on time, so she followed up with an email: I tried your home number but it wasn't working... do you have another phone contact?. I replied, but didn't hear back from herclearly it was too late. The ABC did publish an article on the web site, though. It's interesting that they don't mention DATA, only A couple who live at Dereel, south of Ballarat, is considering taking legal action...

Wed, 07 Dec 2011 20:00:00 UTC

Which Side of the Plane?

Posted By Tim Bray

If youre one of the people who always books an aisle seat, you can stop reading. I never do, because I enjoy the view; Its a six-mile-high platform and youll see astonishing things. Keep your camera handy and youll come home with good pictures too. It turns out that one side of the plane is better than the other. In particular, you always want to be on the side facing away from the sun, to avoid glare, unreadable computer screens, and demands from grouchy seatmates to get the damn sun out of their damn eyes. Usually, this is pretty straightforward.

Wed, 07 Dec 2011 20:00:00 UTC

Billions of Apps

Posted By Tim Bray

There was some noise earlier this week about Android Market having downloaded ten billion apps, and (more interesting) the rate going up to the point where its now a billion a month. How might one explain these numbers? New Devices There are a million new Android devices landing in peoples pockets every two days; say 15 million a month. Make an assumption as to the average number of apps a new Android gets loaded up with, and multiply that by fifteen million to estimate how many of the billion downloads are to new devices. Better Devices A high proportion of apps are games, and games are more fun on the larger screens and snappier CPUs of this years devices; in particular on tablets.

Wed, 07 Dec 2011 18:49:49 UTC

Skype Security Flaw

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Just announced: The researchers found several properties of Skype that can track not only users' locations over time, but also their peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing activity, according to a summary of the findings on the NYU-Poly web site. Earlier this year, a German researcher found a cross-site scripting flaw in Skype that could allow someone to change an account password without...

Wed, 07 Dec 2011 12:13:38 UTC

Tagging People with Invisible Ink

Posted By Bruce Schneier

In Montreal, police marked protesters with invisible ink to be able to identify them later. The next step is going to be a spray that marks people surreptitiously, maybe with SmartWater....

Tue, 06 Dec 2011 23:06:31 UTC

NBN fixed radio: the details

Posted By Greg Lehey

Off to the Dereel Hall this afternoon for the information session about the NBN fixed wireless tower. Wendy McClelland, her husband and one supporter were standing outside, I think distributing pamphletsthey didn't offer me oneand exposing themselves to strong electromagnetic radiation, one of the few sources that is, indeed, proven to cause cancer: the sun. I had expected the session to be some kind of presentation, but in fact it was much less formal: a series of posters talking about different aspects of the project. Met Scott Weston for the first timehe came in just after meand spent some time talking to him and Peter .

Tue, 06 Dec 2011 20:46:10 UTC

Impromptu talk about Google SRE tonight at 9pm.

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

I've booked a BoF room at 9pm to give my talk "[email protected]: Thousands of DevOps Since 2004". Tuesday, December 6, 9:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m., Fairfax B "Tom will describe technologies and policies that Google uses to do what is (now) called DevOps. Google doesn't just empower developers and operations to work together, we have a system that empowers all groups to be their own devops team. (This is based on my opening keynote at the Pittsburgh Perl Workshop.)"

Tue, 06 Dec 2011 19:50:58 UTC

Security Problems with U.S. Cloud Providers

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Invasive U.S. surveillance programs, either illegal like the NSA's wiretapping of AT&T phone lines or legal as authorized by the PATRIOT Act, are causing foreign companies to think twice about putting their data in U.S. cloud systems. I think these are legitimate concerns. I don't trust the U.S. government, law or no law, not to spy on my data if...

Tue, 06 Dec 2011 19:31:30 UTC

LISA11 Diary: Tue, Dec 6

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

(In an effort to get these out sooner rather than later I'm not spending a lot of time editing and proofreading. You've been warned.) Daytime: Today I spent the day in the Advanced Technology Workshop. What is a workshop? People need a space to spend an entire day (or half-day) to talk about a topic. There are workshops for people researching certain areas and their workshop at LISA is a once-a-year touchstone to meet in person, give presentations, share ideas, and so on. The Configuration Management workshop is in its 11th year. In fact, Puppet was inspired by a debate (argument?)

Tue, 06 Dec 2011 17:38:51 UTC

Job ad: post-doctoral researcher in security, operating systems, computer architecture

Posted By Robert N. M. Watson

We are very pleased to announce a job opening at the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory for a post-doctoral researcher working in the areas of security, operating systems, and computer architecture.

Tue, 06 Dec 2011 17:20:24 UTC

LISA11 Diary: Mon, Dec 5

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

(In an effort to get these out sooner rather than later I'm not spending a lot of time editing and proofreading. You've been warned.) Again woke up around 6am. Rehearse parts of the tutorial, got breakfast at the Sheraton Club on the 29th floor. Tutorial: The Limoncelli Test: My first new tutorial in years! Based on this blog post, the tutorial lists 32 "best practices" that sysadmin teams should do. I had enough time to discuss half of them. At the start of the class I had everyone take the test, and then focused on discussing the ones that had a lot of "no" answers (by show of hands).

Tue, 06 Dec 2011 16:58:09 UTC

SysAdvent 2011 has started!

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

25 days of sysadmin articles from all sorts of people. Enjoy!

Tue, 06 Dec 2011 15:20:40 UTC

LISA11 Diary: Sun, Dec 4

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

Sunday I woke up around 6am, had breakfast at the hotel "club" on the 29th floor (great view!) Tutorial: Time Management for System Administrators: In the morning I taught a half-day class on Time Management. This is the "personal" time management side of things: making your life more sane. I've taught this class at LISA every year since 2005-ish and this year the turn-out was HUGE (80+ people). No matter how many times I teach this I get new and interesting questions each time. After the tutorial I autographed books and answered questions. Lunch: I had the lunch that comes with the tutorial sessions.

Tue, 06 Dec 2011 14:52:24 UTC

LISA11 Diary: Sat, Dec 3

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

Saturday, Dec 3: Getting There: Since the conference is in Boston, I decided to take the train rather than fly. Amtrak costs about the same but is faster due to the lack of 2-hour wait for TSA and other airport things. I arrived in Boston at about 1pm, checked in at the hotel, changed, and went to the lobby to hang out. Registration: Registration wouldn't open until 5pm so I hung out, talked with people, got some status updates from the Usenix staff about registration numbers and so on. Registration opened at 5pm spot on and I was 2nd in line :-) so I got registered fast.

Tue, 06 Dec 2011 14:08:17 UTC

Review of T-L-T Tutorial at LISA2011

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

Sysadmin1138 attended my LISA 2011 Tutorial "The Limoncelli Test" yesterday and wrote this excellent summary. Check it out: Thanks for the write-up!

Tue, 06 Dec 2011 13:31:10 UTC

Recent Developments in Full Disclosure

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Last week, I had a long conversation with Robert Lemos over an article he was writing about full disclosure. He had noticed that companies have recently been reacting more negatively to security researchers publishing vulnerabilities about their products. The debate over full disclosure is as old as computing, and I've written about it before. Disclosing security vulnerabilities is good for...

Tue, 06 Dec 2011 11:38:31 UTC

Usenix LISA attendees get free Wifi in their hotel rooms!

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

Usenix has negotiated with the hotel to get the wifi fee waived for any attendee that stays in the hotel as part of the Usenix block. When you sign in to the WiFi go through the process and agree to the $12.99/day (I think) charge, but when you check out it will be removed from your bill. The conference hotel is the Sheraton Boston Hotel, 39 Dalton Street, Boston, MA

Mon, 05 Dec 2011 23:40:32 UTC

More network issues

Posted By Greg Lehey

Came back in from the garden to find that we were off the network. No signal strength issues, but no connectivity. I'm used to this now: more often than not it's not an issue with the connection, but with this horribly flaky Huawei USB modem (there, USB again). So popped the modem and reconnected it. ppp process redialled, established connectionand still not connectivity. Stopped and restarted the ppp process, and it worked. Do we have software issues here instead of (or as well as) hardware issues?

Mon, 05 Dec 2011 23:12:15 UTC

Another disk crash

Posted By Greg Lehey

Coming into the office this morning, the first thing I noticed was the disk access light on dereel: full intensity. The system was still running, but further investigation showed that the disk subsystem had hung itself up again. The log files showed a similar problem to the one I had last month: Dec  4 21:24:38 dereel kernel: ahcich2: Timeout on slot 19 Dec  4 21:24:38 dereel kernel: ahcich2: is 00000000 cs 00080000 ss 00000000 rs 00080000 tfd 1d0 serr 00000000 Dec  4 21:25:37 dereel kernel: ahcich2: Timeout on slot 27 Dec  4 21:25:37 dereel kernel: ahcich2: is 00000000 cs 08000000 ss 00000000 rs 08000000 tfd 1d0 serr 00000000 Dec  4 21:27:35 dereel kernel: ahcich2: Timeout on slot 8 Dec  4 21:27:35 dereel kernel: ahcich2: is 00000000 cs 00000100 ss 00000000 rs 00000100 tfd 1d0 serr 00000000 Dec  4 21:28:41 dereel kernel: ...

Mon, 05 Dec 2011 22:00:00 UTC

Winter Travels in Seattle and Japan

Posted By Benjamin Mako Hill

Mika and I will be traveling this winter in the Seattle area and in Japan. The current plan is to be in Seattle December 19 through 28 and then in Japan from December 28 through January 12. After that, we will fly back to Boston for the MIT Mystery Hunt where, as punishment for winning last year, our team is running this year's hunt. We will be in Tokyo for New Years and then traveling around Japan for much of the rest of the time. We hope to visit Hokkaido and Aomori and to travel there from Tokyo along Japan's Western coast through Kanazawa and Niigata.

Mon, 05 Dec 2011 18:21:10 UTC

GCHQ Hacking Contest

Posted By Bruce Schneier

GCHQ is holding a hacking contest to drum up ">new recruits....

Mon, 05 Dec 2011 18:00:33 UTC

Copyrights vs Human Rights: big publishing and SOPA

Posted By Cory Doctorow

My latest Publishers Weekly column is "Copyrights vs. Human Rights." In honor of Human Rights Day on Dec 10, I've written a piece on publishing's shameful support of SOPA, a law that will punish the online services that are so key to coordinating and publicizing human rights struggles around the world. The U.N. characterizes access … [Read more]

Mon, 05 Dec 2011 12:05:54 UTC

Carrier IQ Spyware

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Spyware on many smart phones monitors your every action, including collecting individual keystrokes. The company that makes and runs this software on behalf of different carriers, Carrier IQ, freaked when a security researcher outed them. It initially claimed it didn't monitor keystrokes -- an easily refuted lie -- and threatened to sue the researcher. It took EFF getting involved to...

Sun, 04 Dec 2011 22:53:39 UTC

Removing strawberries

Posted By Greg Lehey

More work on the middle of the eastern garden today. Planted a number of bulbs, I think Hippeastrum, in what was once bed number 2, and set to to remove the remaining strawberry plants, which proved to be carrying a significant number of worm-eaten fruit. I must have collected 50 plants of various sizes, and there are still a number to be done. Sent out a message on Freecycle, which their software showed (almost) correctly in the preview window and then wrapped unappetizingly in the final post.

Sun, 04 Dec 2011 22:53:39 UTC

Removing strawberries

Posted By Greg Lehey

More work on the middle of the eastern garden today. Planted a number of bulbs, I think Hippeastrum, in what was once bed number 2, and set to to remove the remaining strawberry plants, which proved to be carrying a significant number of worm-eaten fruit. I must have collected 50 plants of various sizes, and there are still a number to be done. Sent out a message on Freecycle, which their software showed (almost) correctly in the preview window and then wrapped unappetizingly in the final post.

Sun, 04 Dec 2011 22:44:31 UTC

Strange weather for summer

Posted By Greg Lehey

Since writing my weather station software, now a couple of years ago, I've been continually monitoring the results for errors. So this one caught my eye today: On checking, though, it's correct. The highest temperature of the last 5 days was 23.9°, at 0:53 on 30 November 2011. I'm continually amazed how variable the day's temperatures are.

Sun, 04 Dec 2011 20:00:00 UTC

Bits as a Service

Posted By Tim Bray

It is true, if inconvenient, that information wants to be free. Which fortunately doesnt mean were done with Art or Journalism or the other services embodied in bits. Stewart Brand He coined the phrase in 1984; the original is On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it's so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. I disagree with the first half: Information qua information, as in facts, wants to be free not expensive; things like the best route from here to the airport, the closing price of Google shares, and election results.

Sun, 04 Dec 2011 05:00:00 UTC

Tom @ Usenix LISA 2011, Boston, MA, Dec 4-9, 2011

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

I'll be teaching 3 tutorials and one "guru" session. Plus, as conference co-chair I'll be on stage many other times too. Watch this space:

Sat, 03 Dec 2011 20:00:46 UTC

Supporting Software Inspections and Reviews

Posted By Robert V. Binder

In every software project where I’ve used some form of review process (formal inspections, walkthroughs, or reviews), the gain has always justified the pain.  Invariably, some developers really dislike this process, leading to tantrums reminiscent of Orange Country Choppers. But every time … Continue reading →

Sat, 03 Dec 2011 01:17:53 UTC

GotW #102: Exception-Safe Function Calls (Difficulty: 7/10)

Posted By Herb Sutter

JG Question 1. In each of the following statements, what can you say about the order of evaluation of the functions f, g, and h and the expressions expr1 and expr2? Assume that expr1 and expr2 do not contain more function calls.   Guru Questions 2. In your travels through the dusty corners of your [...]

Sat, 03 Dec 2011 01:14:48 UTC

A new view of the origins of Unix

Posted By Greg Lehey

Warren Toomey has written an article entitled The strange birth and long life of Unix. It's good reading, and it gave me an insight that I didn't have before. I know Warren has researched this stuff carefully, and even apart from that it also has a ring of authenticity about it. An excellent addition to the collection of Unix history.

Sat, 03 Dec 2011 01:07:03 UTC

More TV recoding errors

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've been following the TV reception problems for some months now. I'm gradually coming to the conclusion that there are several issues, few of which are related to my hardware (which is what I originally thought). In particular, there are some recurrent programmes that consistently fail, while others record well. Many recordings are fine most of the way, and then suddenly fail catastrophically, and it seems to be at least somewhat related to date and time. All this points to some kind of interference. At some point I'll move the information to a database and do some analysis. But things aren't that simple.

Sat, 03 Dec 2011 01:06:11 UTC

GotW #101: Solution

Posted By Herb Sutter

The solution to GotW #101 is now live. Filed under: C++

Sat, 03 Dec 2011 00:33:19 UTC

USB and eSATA: more pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

Started a routine backup of my photos today. I back up to an external disk, which should be connected by eSATA, but I've had trouble with that: hot plug doesn't seem to work The disks also have USB interfaces (of course), but I've had trouble with that too. So until I sort out the eSATA hot plug issues, I've been backing up to a system where I don't care so much if the system crashes. Currently that's Yvonne's system, lagoon. But today things didn't work as expected: Dec  2 11:19:16 lagoon kernel: da0 at umass-sim0 bus 0 scbus0 target 0 lun 0 Dec  2 11:19:16 lagoon kernel: da0: <ST2000DL 003-9VT166 > Fixed Direct Access SCSI-2 device Dec  2 11:19:16 lagoon kernel: da0: 40.000MB/s transfers Dec  2 11:19:16 lagoon kernel: da0: 1907729MB (3907029168 512 byte sectors: 255H 63S/T 243201C) Dec  2 11:19:16 ...

Fri, 02 Dec 2011 22:34:16 UTC

Friday Squid Blogging: Squid-Inspired Robot

Posted By Bruce Schneier

It crawls on land....

Fri, 02 Dec 2011 19:57:36 UTC

I Received an Honorary Doctorate

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Last weekend, I received an honorary PhD from the University of Westminster, in London. I have had mixed feelings about this since I was asked early this year. The best piece of advice I've read is: "It's a great honor, but it is an honor, not a degree."...

Fri, 02 Dec 2011 19:17:18 UTC

Hacking Printers and Setting Them on Fire

Posted By Bruce Schneier

It's the kind of research result that screams hype, but online attacks that have physical-world consequences are fundamentally a different sort of threat. I suspect we'll learn more about what's actually possible in the coming weeks. HP has issued a rebuttal....

Fri, 02 Dec 2011 18:00:00 UTC

Usenix LISA schedule online

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

Use the "Guidebook" app for Phone/Android/WinPhone7/BlackBerry: here View the schedule in Google Calendar: here (click "+Google Calendar" in the lower right) iCal feed: here (iCalendar, Outlook and others) As an RSS feed: here Advice about the Guidebook app: To see the all the schedules merged (training, invited talks, etc.) click the "schedule" icon. To search, swipe left (like you are turning to the page before the first page). Mark items you want to attend and the "My Schedule" feature will just show those items Search is probably the easiest way to find all my talks. Search for limoncelli (there are 4; yikes!)

Fri, 02 Dec 2011 16:15:01 UTC

OrgMode for iPhone

Posted By Tom Limoncelli What will they think of next?

Fri, 02 Dec 2011 11:30:51 UTC

Walls as Security Theater

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Interesting essay on walls and their effects: Walls, then, are built not for security, but for a sense of security. The distinction is important, as those who commission them know very well. What a wall satisfies is not so much a material need as a mental one. Walls protect people not from barbarians, but from anxieties and fears, which can...

Fri, 02 Dec 2011 10:52:47 UTC

For my birthday I'm giving the gift of time

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

If you register for USENIX LISA'11 by the end of my birthday (today, Fri, Dec 2nd) your name will automatically be entered into a drawing for two 30-minute, one-on-one time management coaching classes with me. (that's by midnight California time... even though I live on the east coast.) This is a fairly exclusive offer. I normally only do time-management coaching for co-workers. Official announcement here. See you in Boston! Tom

Fri, 02 Dec 2011 10:02:15 UTC

Coming to Zurich next week

Posted By Cory Doctorow

I'm coming to Zurich next week to do a series of high-school lectures in connection with the German edition of Little Brother, and while I'm in town, I've scheduled a free lecture, organised by local free culture and Creative Commons activists. It's at 8PM on December 6, at the Kunstraum Walcheturm. Hope to see you … [Read more]

Thu, 01 Dec 2011 21:15:24 UTC

The lunatic fringe wakes up

Posted By Greg Lehey

It would have been too much to expect that the new NBN tower would get erected without a fuss. Wendy McClelland is up on her hind legs again, and has distributed another set of fliers (though not to me) warning of the microwave radiation tower, and again naming the owners of the property. It's very low on content, even less so than earlier ones; apart from the facts (the NBN will be giving information sessions), the only statement of any relevance is: ...and have connections to it by pulsing microwave radiation out at the people which radiates us all.

Thu, 01 Dec 2011 20:00:00 UTC

Four Scifis

Posted By Tim Bray

The electric-book-reading setup on the home front is in reasonably good order. The family shares an Amazon account and a Kobo account, and both those vendors are generous in the number of different reading devices you can have authorized at once. Lauren and I both use Android tablets of one size or another to read, and have few complaints. Also, were reading lots of books, so I should start reviewing a few. Just because this is a batch review doesnt mean that Ill always do that. Cops vs. Fabbers First, Rule 34, by Charles Stross. Stross is prolific; some of his books make me smile, others I dont begin to get.

Thu, 01 Dec 2011 20:00:00 UTC

The Second Draft of History

Posted By Tim Bray

The first, they say, is written by journalists. Then theres The 9/11 Wars, by Jason Burke, which dives deep on the conflicts launched back on That Day ten years ago and takes the story right up into 2011. I think its probably essential reading for anyone fascinated by these sad sequences, especially those who might want to have public opinions. Large parts will be unsurprising to anyone who followed the first draft closely; few of these stories remain secret. Furthermore, Burke doesnt do grand unifications; the strength of the book is in the attention to detail and a determined refusal to bypass the particular.

Thu, 01 Dec 2011 19:44:18 UTC

Full-Disk Encryption Works

Posted By Bruce Schneier

According to researchers, full-disk encryption is hampering police forensics. The authors of the report suggest there are some things law enforcement can do, but they all must happen prior to a drive being buttoned up by encryption. Specifically, they say that law enforcement should stop turning computers off to bring them to another location for study, doing so only causes...

Thu, 01 Dec 2011 12:25:00 UTC

Status Report: Liars and Outliers

Posted By Bruce Schneier

After a long and hard year, Liars and Outliers is done. I submitted the manuscript to the publisher on Oct 1, got edits back from both an outside editor and a copyeditor about a week later, spent another week integrating the comments and edits, and submitted the final manuscript to the publisher just before Thanksgiving. Now it's being laid out,...