Blog Archive: January 2012

Tue, 31 Jan 2012 23:03:31 UTC

Possibly the Most Incompetent TSA Story Yet

Posted By Bruce Schneier

The storyline: TSA screener finds two pipes in passenger's bags. Screener determines that they're not a threat. Screener confiscates them anyway, because of their "material and appearance." Because they're not actually a threat, screener leaves them at the checkpoint. Everyone forgets about them. Six hours later, the next shift of TSA screeners notices the pipes and -- not being able...

Tue, 31 Jan 2012 20:00:00 UTC

Channel Choices

Posted By Tim Bray

When I have something work-related to tell the world, I have a lot of choices: This blog, @timbray, +Tim Bray, or (work-related, remember), the Android Developers blog, @androiddev, and as of this week, +Android Developers. That last one, being the newest, has a mere 25K circlers (although probably more by the time you look); the circler/follower/subscriber count of the other channels ranges up to the astounding 195K for @androiddev. Its an interesting choice. The choice of personal-or-official-Google channel is easy to make, and I think would be for anyone. Blog-or-Twitter-or-G+ is trickier. These are moving targets and our understanding is shaky at best.

Tue, 31 Jan 2012 17:13:27 UTC

Biases in Forensic Science

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Some errors in forensic science may be the result of the biases of the medical examiners: Though they cannot prove it, Dr Dror and Dr Hampikian suspect the difference in contextual information given to the examiners was the cause of the different results. The original pair may have subliminally interpreted ambiguous information in a way helpful to the prosecution, even...

Tue, 31 Jan 2012 14:00:02 UTC

Who to trust?

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

We are two people. The person that calmly makes plans and the person that executes them. The first person is calm and thoughtful and has the right amount of doubt to make sure a plan will work. The second person rushes to judgement and is full of hubris. " What was I thinking! I can do it more/better/differently." is what the second person says. The second person often forgets how much work went into the planning or the rationale for why things were set in a particular order. If an outside knows of the plan, it can confuse things if the second person "optimizes" the plan leaving those other people out of the loop.

Mon, 30 Jan 2012 19:59:42 UTC

Liars and Outliers Update

Posted By Bruce Schneier

According to my publisher, the book was printed last week and the warehouse is shipping orders to booksellers today. Amazon is likely to start shipping books on Thursday. (Yes, Amazon's webpage claims that the book will be published on February 21, 2012, but they'll ship copies as soon as they get them -- this ain't Harry Potter.) The Kindle edition...

Mon, 30 Jan 2012 19:14:00 UTC

GoingNative 2012: Minus 3 Days

Posted By Herb Sutter

Recap: GoingNative 2012 is a global live C++11-fest that kicks off this Thursday at 9:30am U.S. Pacific time. 350 live in the room. Unlimited free worldwide attendance  both live and on demand. Note that because of technical limitations, watching the livestream requires Silverlight (watching the stored videos later on demand will not). Silverlight is [...]

Mon, 30 Jan 2012 16:52:01 UTC

British Tourists Arrested in the U.S. for Tweeting

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Does this story make sense to anyone? The Department of Homeland Security flagged him as a potential threat when he posted an excited tweet to his pals about his forthcoming trip to Hollywood which read: 'Free this week, for quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America'. After making their way through passport control at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)...

Mon, 30 Jan 2012 15:48:54 UTC

DRM is to publishing as science was to Stalinism

Posted By Cory Doctorow

My latest Publishers Weekly column is "Digital Lysenkoism," a look at the bizarre internal forces that causes people who work at publishers to defend DRM, even though they know it doesn't work. I also recently chatted with a big-six digital strategist, who explained to me how his employer would soon be sending out all of … [Read more]

Mon, 30 Jan 2012 15:48:45 UTC

With A Little Help: Digital Lysenkoism

Posted By Cory Doctorow

Publishers Weekly

Mon, 30 Jan 2012 12:02:49 UTC

The Nature of Cyberwar

Posted By Bruce Schneier

This was pretty good, I thought: However, it may be difficult to write military doctrine for many aspects of cyberconflict that are truly revolutionary. Here are no fewer than 10 to consider: The Internet is an artificial environment that can be shaped in part according to national security requirements. The blinding proliferation of technology and hacker tools makes it impossible...

Mon, 30 Jan 2012 10:06:12 UTC

FreeBSD 9.0 ships with experimental Capsicum support

Posted By Robert N. M. Watson

Jon Anderson, Ben Laurie, Kris Kennaway, and I were pleased to see prominent mention of Capsicum in the recent FreeBSD 9.0 press release: Continuing its heritage of innovating in the area of security research, FreeBSD 9.0 introduces Capsicum. Capsicum is a lightweight framework which extends a POSIX UNIX kernel to support new security capabilities and adds [...]

Sun, 29 Jan 2012 19:24:25 UTC

Studying the Costa Concordia Grounding

Posted By James Hamilton

Don't be a show-off. Never be too proud to turn back. There are old pilots and bold pilots, but no old, bold pilots.< ?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />   I first heard the latter part of this famous quote made by US Airmail Pilot E. Hamilton Lee back when I raced cars. At that time, one of the better drivers in town, Gordon Monroe, used a variant of that quote (with pilots replaced by racers) when giving me driving advice. Gords basic message was that it is impossible to win a race if you crash out of it.

Sat, 28 Jan 2012 23:33:55 UTC

Strange mount problems

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yvonne had trouble booting her machine this morning. On asking, she told me Could not mount /Photos. That's the photo disk on my machine, mounted on hers via NFS. And yes, I couldn't get it to mount. In log file I found: Jan 24 19:18:33 dereel kernel: WARNING: /Photos was not properly dismounted Jan 24 21:00:07 dereel mountd[1325]: can't delete exports for /Photos: Device busy Jan 24 21:00:07 dereel mountd[1325]: could not remount /Photos: Device busy Jan 24 21:00:07 dereel mountd[1325]: bad exports list line /Photos -alldirs -maproot Jan 25 07:23:56 dereel mountd[1325]: mount request denied from for /Photos Jan 25 07:24:56 dereel mountd[1325]: mount request denied from for /Photos The last two messages repeated every two minutes.

Sat, 28 Jan 2012 21:55:29 UTC

GoingNative 2012: Minus 5 Days

Posted By Herb Sutter

Recap: GoingNative 2012, the worlds first globally simulcast C++ convention, starts with Bjarne Stroustrups opening keynote C++ Style this Thursday at 9:30am U.S. Pacific time (time zone converter). In-room attendance is sold out, but worldwide attendance is unlimited and free  all sessions will be livestreamed, and later after a short processing delay will also [...]

Sat, 28 Jan 2012 20:00:00 UTC


Posted By Tim Bray

Over on Google+, there are a lot of photographers. I mean, really a lot. And not just nerd-with-an-OK-camera dabblers like me; were talking pros, big-name pros, some of them. Organized in circles, of course; go have a look. Now, Ive noticed that some of these people identify themselves as street photographers. Says so right there in the titles they put on the pictures. Im a city boy and I like pictures of city streets, too. Heres one I took today. But this isnt like what the real photographers over on G+ call Street. They mean low-contrast B&W captures of people usually against unremarkable backgrounds.

Sat, 28 Jan 2012 20:00:00 UTC


Posted By Tim Bray

I dont spend that much time thinking cloud these days, although there are interesting machinations here at Google that might suck me in should I get bored with Android. But the topic isnt going away just because Im ignoring it. Privacy and Cynicism I remember being in San Francisco last year and there were ads on the taxicabs: We care about the Private Cloud. Say what? This whole Private Cloud notion is a conspiracy between CIOs who think they can do a better job securing data than professional shared-services operators (uh huh), and systems vendors who love the idea of selling enterprises way more hardware than theyll ever need at one time, so they have the heavyweight infrastructure you need to support lightweight deployment.

Sat, 28 Jan 2012 17:37:14 UTC

See all the "Best Picture" Oscar nominated films in 2 days

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

I usually don't blog about something that has so little to do with system administration, but in this case I consider it a "time management tip". Each year AMC theaters run their "Best Picture Showcase". They show all of the "best picture" nominated films in a marathon. They show 4 films on one Saturday and the other 5 on the following Saturday. This year it is Sat, Feb 18 and Sat, Feb 25. You can buy tickets for either or both days. (Some theaters show all 9 in a row on one day.. 23 hours of movies!) We went last year and it was awesome.

Sat, 28 Jan 2012 09:50:59 UTC

Little Brother play, extended

Posted By Cory Doctorow

The San Francisco Chronicle loves the stage adaptation of my novel Little Brother, and brings the welcome news that its run has been extended by two weeks!

Sat, 28 Jan 2012 07:22:00 UTC

Edited Spark interview about the coming war on general purpose computation

Posted By Cory Doctorow

I did an interview last week with the CBC Radio show The Spark (I podcasted the complete interview when they posted it); now they've put up the edited episode. MP3 link

Fri, 27 Jan 2012 12:39:16 UTC

Password Sharing Among American Teenagers

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Interesting article from the New York Times on password sharing as a show of affection. "It's a sign of trust," Tiffany Carandang, a high school senior in San Francisco, said of the decision she and her boyfriend made several months ago to share passwords for e-mail and Facebook. "I have nothing to hide from him, and he has nothing to...

Fri, 27 Jan 2012 01:13:24 UTC

Socrata Chief Technical Officer

Posted By James Hamilton

Ordinarily I focus this blog on areas of computing where I spend most of my time from high performance computing to database internals and cloud computing. An area that interests me greatly  but Ive seldom written about is entrepreneurship and startups.   One of the Seattle areas startups with which I stay in touch is Socrata. They are focused on enabling federal, state, and local governments to improve the reach, usability and social utility of their public information assets.  Essentially making public information available and useful to their constituents. They are used by: the World Bank, the United Nations, the World Economic Forum, the US Data.Gov, Health & Human Services, Centers for Disease Control, several most major cities including NYC, Seattle, Chicago, San Francisco and Austin and many county and state governments.

Fri, 27 Jan 2012 00:38:31 UTC

Web sources of garden information

Posted By Greg Lehey

So we've decided to transplant the citrus trees. How do you do that? My guess is to wait until winter, and then dig out as wide a section of the roots as possible. But what's the web for? should tell me. And indeed, it comes up with How to Transplant Grapefruit Trees ... 3 Obtain a young grapefruit tree in a container. Grapefruit trees are readily available from many nurseries. What does that have to do with transplantation?

Thu, 26 Jan 2012 21:16:00 UTC

GoingNative 2012: Minus One Week

Posted By Herb Sutter

GoingNative 2012 is sold out for in-person attendees, but online attendance is free and unlimited  live-stream and on-demand. Watch the main page for links. GoingNative 2012 is a 48 hour technical event for those who push the boundaries of general purpose computing by exploiting the true capabilities of the underlying machine: C++ developers. Distinguished [...]

Thu, 26 Jan 2012 16:36:32 UTC

Evidence on the Effectiveness of Terrorism

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Readers of this blog will know that I like the works of Max Abrams, and regularly blog them. He has a new paper (full paper behind paywall) in Defence and Peace Economics, 22:6 (2011), 58394, "Does Terrorism Really Work? Evolution in the Conventional Wisdom since 9/11, Defence and Peace Economics": The basic narrative of bargaining theory predicts that, all else...

Thu, 26 Jan 2012 00:39:21 UTC

More photo processing with DxO

Posted By Greg Lehey

Over the last few days, I've been reprocessing old photos with DxO Optics "Pro", sometimes with spectacular results. But there's a problem: most of the photos I took in the first year with my Olympus E-510 were taken only with JPEG format, and some of the DxO presets are intended for raw images only. Or are they? I tried the one-shot HDR preset, supposedly only available for raw images, and found that it works with JPEG as well. Probably not as well as with raw images, but the photos of the barbecue four years ago are amazingly much better: And that was the series of photos that eventually got me going the ...

Thu, 26 Jan 2012 00:28:32 UTC

CFA: We encourage unsafe networking

Posted By Greg Lehey

Finally got round to sending in the comments about the CFA web site that I described yesterday, and tried to send it off. What did I get? I need Facebook to submit comments to a government agency? Are they out of their minds? Well, not completely. I was given a choice: Get Satisfaction, Google Mail or Twitter. What happened to real email? And why does a government agency do this sort of thing? Considered sending it from my gmail account (yes, I do have one, because some broken sites insist; it just forwards to my real email). And, not surprisingly, I got a message: I most certainly do not approve; in fact, I disapprove strongly.

Wed, 25 Jan 2012 20:00:00 UTC

Size Still Matters

Posted By Tim Bray

I have to carry two phones; one for G-stuff, which is often unreleased software running on unreleased hardware, and another for my personal life. For the last few months, the G-phone has been a Galaxy Nexus and the Tim-phone a Nexus S. I noticed right from the start that I was always using the bigger one whenever there was a choice, and I assumed that was just Ice Cream Sandwich being so much nicer than Gingerbread. But now theyre both running the same software and Im still using the GN for everything. [Sorry, Google, yes I have texted my kid and looked up map destinations on the company phone that youre paying for.]

Wed, 25 Jan 2012 20:00:00 UTC

Chinese Workers Problems

Posted By Tim Bray

This New York Times story, telling ugly stories of human suffering at Chinese outsourcers, isnt about Apple. Its pure politics and economics. Its Simple The management of well-connected Chinese companies neednt worry much about regulation or law enforcement, because China is governed by a corrupt autocracy. They neednt worry much about unions or other worker activism because that government has as a matter of industrial policy disempowered labor, making real unionism impossible. Weve seen this movie before. The description of 21st-century Chinese political reality applies pretty well to 19th-century Europe. Not surprisingly, so do the descriptions of the sufferings of industrial laborers.

Wed, 25 Jan 2012 19:56:57 UTC

Federal Judge Orders Defendant to Decrypt Laptop

Posted By Bruce Schneier

A U.S. federal judge has ordered a defendent to decrypt her laptop....

Wed, 25 Jan 2012 18:54:19 UTC

Supreme Court Rules that GPS Tracking Requires a Warrant

Posted By Bruce Schneier

The U.S Supreme Court has ruled that the police cannot attach a GPS tracking device to a car without a warrant....

Wed, 25 Jan 2012 12:44:26 UTC

Research into an Information Security Risk Rating

Posted By Bruce Schneier

The NSF is funding research on giving organizations information-security risk ratings, similar to credit ratings for individuals: Existing risk management techniques are based on annual audits and only provide a snapshot of a partner's security posture. However, new vulnerabilities are discovered everyday and the industry needs a solution that enables a business to continuously monitor changing risk posture of all...

Tue, 24 Jan 2012 17:07:46 UTC

What to do about SOPA/PIPA?

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

The headlines like, "Sen. Reid kills SOPA bill" should really read, "Sen. Reid tells people SOPA is dead so Hollywood can work on more stealthy bill." What to do about this kind of thing in general? Joel Spolsky nails it: (1) The internet seems to ignore legislation until somebody tries to take something away from us... then we carefully defend that one thing and never counter-attack. Then the other side says, "OK, compromise," and gets half of what they want. That's not the way to win... that's the way to see a steady and continuous erosion of rights online.

Tue, 24 Jan 2012 12:46:08 UTC

Using Plant DNA for Authentication

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Turns out you can create unique signatures from plant DNA. The idea is to spray this stuff on military components in order to verify authentic items and detect counterfeits, similar to SmartWater. It's a good idea in theory, but my guess is that the security is not going to center around counterfeiting the plant DNA, but rather in subverting the...

Mon, 23 Jan 2012 17:49:29 UTC

Authentication by "Cognitive Footprint"

Posted By Bruce Schneier

DARPA is funding research into new forms of biometrics that authenticate people as they use their computer: things like keystroke patterns, eye movements, mouse behavior, reading speed, and surfing and e-mail response behavior. The idea -- and I think this is a good one -- is that the computer can continuously authenticate people, and not just authenticate them once when...

Mon, 23 Jan 2012 08:01:01 UTC

Expanding the Cloud - The AWS Storage Gateway

Posted By Werner Vogels

Today Amazon Web Services has launched the AWS Storage Gateway, making the power of secure and reliable cloud storage accessible from customers on-premises applications. We have been working closely with our customers on their requests to bring the power of the Amazon Web Services cloud closer to their existing on-premises compute infrastructures. The Amazon Virtual Private Cloud extends on-premises compute with all the power of AWS, making it elastic, scalable and highly reliable. AWS Identity and Access Management brings together on-premises and cloud identity management. VM Import allows our customers to move virtual machine images from their datacenters to the Cloud and Amazon Direct Connect makes the network latencies and bandwidth between on-premises and AWS more predictable.

Mon, 23 Jan 2012 06:32:30 UTC

Interview with CBCs Spark on the coming war on general-purpose computation

Posted By Cory Doctorow

I did a quick interview with the CBC Radio programme "The Spark" last week from my office in London, talking about my idea of "the upcoming war on general purpose computing." They've just posted the unedited audio in advance of airing a shorter excerpt. MP3 link

Mon, 23 Jan 2012 02:09:21 UTC

Disk recovery

Posted By Greg Lehey

Connected yesterday's defective disk to lagoon, Yvonne's computer today, with a USB connection. Yes, it required fsck. No, no other problems. So there's clearly something wrong with the eSATA connection to defake. Is it the newest version of FreeBSD? Or just the fact that fsck was required? The backtraces indicate memory allocation failures, though it looks more like this was a consequence of hardware problems, not the cause of the reported problems. Probably I should look at the driver in more detail. But not today.

Sun, 22 Jan 2012 20:00:00 UTC

Browser Sedimentation

Posted By Tim Bray

I wanted to hit my browsers home button and for a baffling moment couldnt find it. This remains a rare experience, but I found it a worrying symptom. Heres the top part of a browser window; Firefox in this case, but I think the narrative would apply to Chrome and Safari as well. Look, particularly at the top left of the window; are there ever a whole lot of controls and levels and frames and abstractions and graphics jumbled in there! The problem is that people like me (and I bet most readers here) cant even see that theres a jumble; the sediments of infrastructure are clearly separated in our understanding and thus our eyes.

Sun, 22 Jan 2012 01:05:21 UTC

Still more disk problems

Posted By Greg Lehey

After my photo processing today, started a backup. Or I tried: === [email protected] (/dev/pts/0) /home/grog 2 -> mount /dev/ada0p1 /photobackups mount: /dev/ada0p1 : Operation not permitted That's mount's inimitable way of saying look at /var/log/messages to see what's up. As I feared, it said: Jan 21 18:40:19 defake kernel: WARNING: R/W mount of /photobackup denied.  Filesystem is not clean - run fsck This is an eSATA drive. Did I forget to umount it before disconnecting it?

Sat, 21 Jan 2012 20:00:00 UTC

Cirque Does MJ

Posted By Tim Bray

The full name of Cirque du Soleils new show is Michael Jackson Immortal; Google took me and somewhere between ten and twenty thousand other employees off to see it last week in Oakland. You werent supposed to have real cameras, but heres one my point-and-shoot managed. If you want a better visual, the video highlights on the site linked above capture the flavor pretty well. Now, I was never that big an MJ fan  just a little too controlled and mawkish for me  and in recent years, Id kind of soured on the Cirque. I remember seeing them 20 years ago, when they were a new thing and there werent a dozen different troupes.

Sat, 21 Jan 2012 06:47:00 UTC

The Serpent in the Sword

Posted By Niels Provos

Sat, 21 Jan 2012 06:47:00 UTC

The Serpent in the Sword

Posted By Niels Provos

Sat, 21 Jan 2012 06:47:00 UTC

The Serpent in the Sword

Posted By Niels Provos

Sat, 21 Jan 2012 01:02:24 UTC

Environment pollution

Posted By Greg Lehey

I'm still playing around with my amd64 system, though soon I should start to cut over. One of the issues I've had for some time is that newer versions of Emacs don't respect the settings that I have been using for years, and use fonts that produce a window far larger than the screen. Of course I should look for the reason, and it's certainly part of what I need to do before I can consider my installation complete, but for the time being I've just been manually resizing the window. And today that didn't work! It wouldn't let me make it any smaller, though I could have enlarged it.

Fri, 20 Jan 2012 20:46:53 UTC

GotW #103: Smart Pointers, Part 1 (Difficulty: 3/10)

Posted By Herb Sutter

JG Question 1. When should you use shared_ptr vs. unique_ptr? List as many considerations as you can.   Guru Questions 2. Why should you always use make_shared to allocate objects whose lifetimes will be managed by shared_ptr? Explain. 3. Whats the deal with auto_ptr? Filed under: C++

Fri, 20 Jan 2012 20:42:33 UTC

GotW #102: Solution

Posted By Herb Sutter

The solution to GotW #102 is now live. Filed under: C++

Fri, 20 Jan 2012 16:31:00 UTC

Internet Immortality

Posted By Benjamin Mako Hill

Kim Jong-Il is gone. That said, he continues to live on, looking at things, on the popular blog Kim Jong-Il Looking At Things which continues to be updated with new content from the archives. It is now joined by Kim Jong-Un Looking At Things. I think I agree with João Rocha, creator of the original, that the younger Kim seems to be missing some hard-to-pin-down quality that made the original work well.

Fri, 20 Jan 2012 12:39:45 UTC

The Continued Militarization of the U.S. Police

Posted By Bruce Schneier

The state of Texas gets an armed PT boat. I guess armed drones weren't enough for them....

Thu, 19 Jan 2012 19:02:09 UTC

The Onion on Facebook

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Funny news video on Facebook and the CIA....

Thu, 19 Jan 2012 12:36:38 UTC

Using False Alarms to Disable Security

Posted By Bruce Schneier

I wrote about this technique in Beyond Fear: Beginning Sunday evening, the robbers intentionally set off the gallery's alarm system several times without entering the building, according to police. The security staffers on duty, who investigated and found no disturbances, subsequently disabled at least one alarm. The burglars then entered through a balcony door....

Thu, 19 Jan 2012 00:46:25 UTC

Shut down Wikipedia... to the idiots

Posted By Greg Lehey

The protests against SOPA are coming to a head: a number of prominent sites, in particular English language Wikipedia, went offline at 16:00 local time today (05:00 UTC): Or did they? The whole thing is implemented in JavaScript. Disable JavaScript and at least normal lookups are as good as they ever were, though I could imagine that editing pages would pose a problem. But why did they do it this way? Surely they knew this. My best bet is that they're leaving a back door for people in the know to get in anyway, in the assumption that people stupid enough to think that SOPA and PIPA will work will also not be able to work out how to access the site.

Thu, 19 Jan 2012 00:03:20 UTC

The build failures: caught

Posted By Greg Lehey

Continued this morning looking for the cause of yesterday's build failure. It's obvious once it's been found: MAKEFLAGS='-I ..' That's something I put in my environment about 3 years ago to enable me to have only one Makefile in the parent directory of my daily photos. And it seems that this one Makefile didn't reset it, so it went looking for files in the wrong directory. Remove it and all is well. Well, almost all: === [email protected] (/dev/pts/4) ~/Photos/20080906 8 -> unset MAKEFLAGS === [email protected] (/dev/pts/4) ~/Photos/20080906 9 -> make web make: don't know how to make web.

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 21:00:06 UTC

Amazon DynamoDB: NoSQL in the Cloud

Posted By James Hamilton

Finally! Ive been dying to talk about DynamoDB since work began on this scalable, low-latency, high-performance NoSQL service at AWS. This morning, AWS announced availability of DynamoDB: Amazon Web Services Launches Amazon DynamoDB  A New NoSQL Database Service Designed for the Scale of the Internet.   In a past blog entry, One Size Does Not Fit All, I offered a taxonomy of 4 different types of structured storage system, argued that Relational Database Management Systems are not sufficient, and walked through some of the reasons why NoSQL databases have emerged and continue to grow market share quickly.

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 15:00:00 UTC

Amazon DynamoDB  a Fast and Scalable NoSQL Database Service Designed for Internet Scale Applications

Posted By Werner Vogels

Today is a very exciting day as we release Amazon DynamoDB, a fast, highly reliable and cost-effective NoSQL database service designed for internet scale applications. DynamoDB is the result of 15 years of learning in the areas of large scale non-relational databases and cloud services. Several years ago we published a paper on the details of Amazons Dynamo technology, which was one of the first non-relational databases developed at Amazon. The original Dynamo design was based on a core set of strong distributed systems principles resulting in an ultra-scalable and highly reliable database system. Amazon DynamoDB, which is a new service, continues to build on these principles, and also builds on our years of experience with running non-relational databases and cloud services, such as Amazon SimpleDB and Amazon S3, at scale.

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 01:40:39 UTC

Time Management class at SCALE

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

Note: SCALE is the Southern California Linux Expo which will be held January 20-22, 2012 at the Hilton Los Angeles Airport hotel. Aleksey Tsalolikhin will be teaching a SCALE University (a joint project between SCALE and LOPSA where LOPSA instructors teach classes on topics related to system administration as part of LOPSA's mission to educate on system administration topics) based on "Time Management for System Administrators". Here is a sample success story from a student that completed the practice run of the course a week ago: I think that "The Cycle" system is a pretty comprehensive approach to time planning, but very simple concept to implement.

Tue, 17 Jan 2012 23:52:32 UTC

More network problems

Posted By Greg Lehey

My network problems still don't seem to be over. Today had a number of dropouts, and even when I was reconnected, I only got a GPRS connection, which is so slow that you couldn't tell the difference from being disconnected. But the RSSI was showing 16, which is 16 to 18 dB better than I normally have. Popped the modem and it reconnected with normal signal strength and HSPA. It looks like I had been connected to a tower with only GPRS (there's one to the east somewhere). Is this the sticky result of a failure on the correct tower, or is it the modem itself?

Tue, 17 Jan 2012 23:32:40 UTC

Building FreeBSD 9.0

Posted By Greg Lehey

So now I have finally built all my ports. But FreeBSD 9.0 has just come out, so it seems a good idea to install it before cutting over to 64 bits. How do you check out a new branch from the FreeBSD Subversion repository? I had it written down somewhere, a brain dump by Peter Wemm. But where did I put it? I couldn't find it in my HOWTOs (though it's there now). Went looking on the FreeBSD web site. Couldn't find anything there either. Should it be in the handbook? That's for end users, who don't have access to the Subversion repository.

Tue, 17 Jan 2012 22:10:01 UTC

Going Dark to Protest SOPA/PIPA

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Tomorrow, from 8 am to 8 pm EDT, this site, Schneier on Security, is going on strike to protest SOPA and PIPA. In doing so, I'll be joining Wikipedia (in English), BoingBoing, WordPress, and many others. A list of participants, and HTML and JavaScript code for anyone who wants to participate, can be found here....

Tue, 17 Jan 2012 20:00:00 UTC

Not Piracy

Posted By Tim Bray

Sites all over the Internet are going dark to illustrate their objections to legislation currently before the US Congress. Im not American but these words are coming at you from a server in LA, so I guess I can weigh in. Ill limit my discussion to one word, Piracy; what the P stands for in SOPA. Piracy is when people use violence, or the threat of it, to transfer your possessions to themselves (after which you no longer have them), place you captivity in pursuit of a ransom, and in many cases inflict death on you as a side-effect of their business model.

Tue, 17 Jan 2012 20:00:00 UTC

HttpURLConnections Dark Secrets

Posted By Tim Bray

If youre programming in the Java language and want to talk to a Web server, there are several libraries you can choose from. HttpURLConnection is one popular choice, and for Android programming, the engineering team has now officially suggested that you use it where possible. Since there are irritating orthographical and Web-Architecture issues with the name HttpURLConnection, lets just say HUC. HUC is reasonably well documented, if by reasonably well you mean omits any discussion of the relationship between method calls and underlying HTTP traffic. Let me fill that in. Who knows, maybe some JavaDocs maintainer somewhere will feel inspired to address this.

Tue, 17 Jan 2012 18:29:58 UTC

Tor Opsec

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Good operational security guide to Tor....

Tue, 17 Jan 2012 17:54:16 UTC

Little Brother stage-play in San Francisco

Posted By Cory Doctorow

There's a new stage adaptation of my novel Little Brother opening in San Francisco. Charlie Jane Anders from IO9 got to go to the preview and loved it, which is incredibly heartening, since I won't get to see it! So I'll just say that the version I saw was powerful and brilliant, and the cast … [Read more]

Tue, 17 Jan 2012 13:31:14 UTC

The Importance of Good Backups

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Thankfully, this doesn't happen very often: A US man who had been convicted on a second-degree murder charge will get a new trial after a computer virus destroyed transcripts of court proceedings....

Tue, 17 Jan 2012 10:13:34 UTC

Martian Chronicles, part two

Posted By Cory Doctorow

The StarShipSofa podcast has the second installment of Jeff Lane's reading of my YA novella The Martian Chronicles (here's part one). Lane does a great job with the reading. MP3 link.

Mon, 16 Jan 2012 23:44:38 UTC in Ballarat

Posted By Greg Lehey

Today was the first day of, in Ballarat. I was involved in the organization at the beginning, but I dropped out, and I didn't go to the conference. Why not? Somehow it's difficult to accept, but my conference days are over. And times are changing. I think what really broke it for me was the discussion of the Code of Conduct. As I said last year, the necessity for something like that turns me off. And now I hear it's printed in the conference handbook. The programme isn't. What does that say? It seems I'm not the only one. A number of the regular visitors from the past are not going, including Rasmus Lerdorf, who once spent half his life going from one conference to another.

Mon, 16 Jan 2012 20:39:13 UTC

Real Users of Model-based Testing

Posted By Robert V. Binder

I think’ve finally found a good visual metaphor for model-based testing. In Aliens, Ellen Ripley uses the power lifter suit to battle the Alien Queen. Model-based testing is like the power lifter suit. It has to be driven with intelligence and skill, … Continue reading →

Mon, 16 Jan 2012 18:54:22 UTC

C++11 GoingNative 2012: Speakers and Sessions

Posted By Herb Sutter

The speakers and sessions for GoingNative 2012 (Feb 2-3, Redmond WA USA) have now been posted. With the focus squarely on C++11 on all compilers and platforms, I think this is going to be the C++ event of the first half of 2012, and Im very pleased with the caliber of our speakers and their [...]

Mon, 16 Jan 2012 18:00:38 UTC

Innovative Datacenter Design: Ishikari Datacenter

Posted By James Hamilton

Occasionally I come across a noteworthy datacenter design that is worth covering. Late last year a very interesting Japanese facility was brought to my attention by Mikio Uzawa an IT consultant who authors the Agile Cat blog. I know Mikio because he occasionally translates Perspectives articles for publication in Japan.   Mikio pointed me to the Ishikari Datacenter in Ishikari City, Hokkaido Japan. Phase I of this facility was just completed in November 2011. This facility is interesting for a variety of reasons but the design features I found most interesting are: 1) High voltage direct current power distribution, 2) whole building ductless cooling, and 3) aggressive free air cooling.

Mon, 16 Jan 2012 15:58:56 UTC

PCI Lawsuit

Posted By Bruce Schneier

This is a first: ...the McCombs allege that the bank, and the payment card industry (PCI) in general, force merchants to sign one-sided contracts that are based on information that arbitrarily changes without notice, and that they impose random fines on merchants without providing proof of a breach or of fraudulent losses and without allowing merchants a meaningful opportunity to...

Mon, 16 Jan 2012 15:56:31 UTC

Podcast: A Vocabulary for Speaking about the Future

Posted By Cory Doctorow

Here's a podcast of my last Locus column, A Vocabulary for Speaking about the Future: Science fiction writers and fans are prone to lauding the predictive value of the genre, prompting weird questions like How can you write science fiction today? Arent you worried that real science will overtake your novel before its published? This … [Read more]

Mon, 16 Jan 2012 02:27:00 UTC

Mystery Hunt

Posted By Benjamin Mako Hill

I've mentioned before that I compete every year in the MIT Mystery Hunt -- an enormous, multi-day, round-the-clock puzzle competition held in January at MIT each year. Last year, my team Codex won the hunt. The reward (punishment?) for winning is the responsibility to write the 100+ puzzles, (and meta-puzzles, and meta-meta-puzzles, and theme, and events) and to put on the whole event the following year. So over the last year, I've worked with a huge group of folks to put together this year's hunt which had a theme loosely based on The Producers. My own role was small compared to many of my teammates: I contributed to some puzzle writing and to a bunch of "test-solving" of candidate puzzles to make sure they were solvable, not too easy, fun, and well constructed.

Sun, 15 Jan 2012 23:08:52 UTC

Ports build: done!

Posted By Greg Lehey

I have finally finished my ports upgrade. Building from scratch worked well, with ultimately only one port (flphoto) requiring to be fetched as a binary package. And now FreeBSD 9.0 is out. Time to start over again? In the meantime tried upgrading the build machine. Found a couple of 1 GB SIMMs lying around, so put them in the machine, and also an nVidia display card that I had been given recently. I had been told it was PCI, and I didn't really check, but on examination it's a 16 lane PCIe board. And it only has a DVI connector. And I don't have anything I can connect that to.

Sun, 15 Jan 2012 20:00:00 UTC

Grey and Red

Posted By Tim Bray

The grey is one of Vancouvers rare snowy evenings. The red is the new illuminated circumference of BC Place, our venue for football and big-name rockers and the Home/Boat show. Its new look, with illumination and slanted retaining piers, has definitely added to the visual appeal downtown. Photogeeks may have already noticed that part of the grey is grey-as-in-grain, the result of pushing the Canon S90 to ISO1600, which is arguably outside the reach of its design goals. But in this case it degraded gracefully.

Sun, 15 Jan 2012 00:26:20 UTC

Problems syncing

Posted By Greg Lehey

That wasn't the only problem I ran into. While syncing my photos to the external web site, I got this: 20080719/tiny/swamp-3.jpeg        47916 100%   11.42MB/s    0:00:00 (xfer#203, to-check=0/262) rsync: stat "/home/grog/" failed: No such file or directory (2) rsync: rename "/home/grog/" -> "20080719/small/house-ne-old.jpeg": No such file or directory (2) WARNING: 20080719/small/house-nw.jpeg failed verification -- update discarded (will try again). 20080719/small/house-nw.jpeg       134732 100%   16.06MB/s    0:00:00 (xfer#204, to-check=99/262) WARNING: 20080719/tiny/browse-screen.png failed verification -- update discarded (will try again). 20080719/tiny/browse-screen.png        42526 100%   39.89MB/s    0:00:00 (xfer#205, to-check=64/262) WARNING: 20080719/tiny/folder-selection.png failed verification -- update discarded (will try again).

Sun, 15 Jan 2012 00:25:14 UTC

Unexpected results

Posted By Greg Lehey

I often see messages like this one: A database error has occurred. Did you forget to run maintenance/update.php after upgrading? See: Query: UPDATE `user` SET user_touched = '20120114015610' WHERE user_id = '288471' Function: User::invalidateCache Error: 1205 Lock wait timeout exceeded; try restarting transaction ( But this one was different. It was from Wikipedia. It wasn't repeatable.

Sat, 14 Jan 2012 01:48:29 UTC

System crash

Posted By Greg Lehey

While watching TV, teevee hung. NFS problems. It turned out that dereel had crashed, apparently because of still more USB disk problems. If only I could get this eSATA stuff working well!

Sat, 14 Jan 2012 01:01:36 UTC

FreeBSD dmr edition

Posted By Greg Lehey

FreeBSD 9.0 was released today (or yesterday in the USA; it wasn't intended to be on Friday the 13th). And for the first time I recall, it had a dedication: The FreeBSD Project dedicates the FreeBSD 9.0-RELEASE to the memory of Dennis M. Ritchie, one of the founding fathers of the UNIX" operating system. It is on the foundation laid by the work of visionaries like Dennis that software like the FreeBSD operating system came to be. The fact that his work of so many years ago continues to influence new design decisions to this very day speaks for the brilliant engineer that he was.

Sat, 14 Jan 2012 00:35:12 UTC

Ports progress

Posted By Greg Lehey

On with the ports very much in the background. With the help of locate found an old copy of the portsrules file that greatly helped fill in the puzzles. Nevertheless found one port that didn't build: ... Fl_Print_Dialog2.cxx:1839: error: expected primary-expression before ')' token Fl_Print_Dialog2.cxx:1839: error: expected `;' before 'w' *** Error code 1 Stop in /home/ports/graphics/flphoto/work/flphoto-1.3.1. This time it wasn't a CVS consistency issue. Clearly there's something wrong with the port. But it builds in the build cluster, so what's the issue? I can't be bothered. I wasn't even sure what flphoto is (it's a basic image display program, which I seem never even to have tried out), so I installed it from the package.

Fri, 13 Jan 2012 22:19:13 UTC

Friday Squid Blogging: Argentina Attempts a Squid Blockage against the Falkland Islands

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Yet another story that combines squid and security. As usual, you can also use this squid post to talk about the security stories in the news that I haven't covered....

Fri, 13 Jan 2012 20:00:00 UTC


Posted By Tim Bray

I bought it for the houseguests over Christmas, got mildly hooked, took a character to level 17, but thats it, Im bored. Tech & production The achievement is stupendous. The world is vast, open, and visually compelling in a way not remotely equaled by anything Ive seen. In Skyrim youll regularly find yourself pausing just to admire a view. The combat graphics are believable and fun; watching the slo-mo of your character leaping onto a dragons head to plant the two-handed axe has gotta make you smile. Also, the quests and dangers are (mostly) nicely scaled so that the ones you find are within your reach, and the puzzles are (mostly) soluble given the evidence immediately to hand.

Fri, 13 Jan 2012 19:56:43 UTC

New York City gets a Software Engineering High School

Posted By Joel Spolsky

This fall New York City will open The Academy for Software Engineering, the citys first public high school that will actually train kids to develop software. The project has been a long time dream of Mike Zamansky, the highly-regarded CS teacher at New Yorks elite Stuyvesant public high school. It was jump started when Fred Wilson, a VC at Union Square Ventures, promised to get the tech community to help with knowledge, advice, and money. Im on the board of advisors of the new school, which plans to accept ninth graders for fall of 2012. Heres why Im excited about this new school: 1.

Fri, 13 Jan 2012 18:58:24 UTC

Recovering a Hacked Gmail Account

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Long (but well-written and interesting) story of someone whose Gmail account was hacked and erased, and eventually restored. Many interesting lessons about the security of largely support-free cloud services....

Fri, 13 Jan 2012 16:00:00 UTC

Countdown to What is Next in AWS

Posted By Werner Vogels

Join me at 9AM PST on Wednesday January 18, 2012 to find out what is next in the AWS Cloud. Registration required. Watch live streaming video from AWSCloudEvent at

Fri, 13 Jan 2012 12:58:01 UTC

"Going Dark" vs. a "Golden Age of Surveillance"

Posted By Bruce Schneier

It's a policy debate that's been going on since the crypto wars of the early 1990s. The FBI, NSA, and other agencies continue to claim they're losing their ability to engage in surveillance: that it's "going dark." Whether the cause of the problem is encrypted e-mail, digital telephony, or Skype, the bad guys use it to communicate, so we need...

Thu, 12 Jan 2012 22:43:15 UTC

Network errors again

Posted By Greg Lehey

My Internet connection has been surprisingly reliable in the last few months. If I had known about it 4 years ago, I would have set it up then, but the threshold of installing new hardware for an uncertain outcome, combined with the terrible service I got from Telstra ensured that I didn't try it until I had confirmation from others that it was a viable alternative. I've been keeping a statistics page for the link, in line with older ones for satellite and ADSL. But it doesn't really give much useful information any more. Many short dropouts, including restarting the PPP process, go unnoticed, and others are due to issues beyond the ISP's control, such as this horrible Huawei 1762 modem hanging (solution: pop the modem from the USB slot, replace, wait for one failed connect).

Thu, 12 Jan 2012 22:12:00 UTC

Port build: take a break

Posted By Greg Lehey

In this morning to discover that my portrules file had been overwritten again with the last checked-in version. Do I have some hidden automatic checkout somewhere? I don't know where it would be. Fortunately I had a backup of the last version, so I was able to continue, but somehow this is all just too much pain, so the next time it stopped, I left it until tomorrow.

Thu, 12 Jan 2012 21:41:15 UTC

Book Review: 'Pro Puppet" by James Turnbull and Jeffrey McCune

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

I think this is the first book that actually helped me see both the "big picture" of how Puppet's components fit together as well as learn the language itself. After months of reading Puppet online documentation this book put it all together in a way that gives me the confidence to start a big Puppet project. Trying to learn Puppet from the online documentation is often like learning to drive by studying how a car is manufactured. " Pro Puppet" doesn't suffer from that problem. The hardest part of doing Configuration Management is getting started. If you join a company that already uses Puppet it is easy to hop in and add to it.

Thu, 12 Jan 2012 21:04:36 UTC

Abolish the Department of Homeland Security

Posted By Bruce Schneier

I have a love/hate relationship with the CATO Institute. Most of their analysis I strongly disagree with, but some of it I equally strongly agree with. Last September 11 -- the tenth anniversary of 9/11 -- CATO's David Rittgers published "Abolish the Department of Homeland Security": DHS has too many subdivisions in too many disparate fields to operate effectively. Agencies...

Thu, 12 Jan 2012 20:39:49 UTC

TSA Cupcake Update

Posted By Bruce Schneier

The TSA claims that the cupcake they confiscated was in a jar. So this is a less obviously stupid story than I previously thought....

Thu, 12 Jan 2012 18:37:28 UTC

A Theory of Online Jihadist Sites

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Very interesting: The counterterrorism community has spent years trying to determine why so many people are engaged in online jihadi communities in such a meaningful way. After all, the life of an online administrator for a hard-line Islamist forum is not as exciting as one might expect. You don't get paid, and you spend most of your time posting links...

Thu, 12 Jan 2012 11:53:20 UTC

Apple Split-Key Patent

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Apple has a patent on splitting a key between a portable device and its power supply. Clever idea....

Wed, 11 Jan 2012 23:46:53 UTC

Ports build log

Posted By Greg Lehey

The ports build continued relatively smoothly today. multimedia/dvdauthor failed: ===>  Applying FreeBSD patches for dvdauthor-0.7.0_1 Ignoring previously applied (or reversed) patch. 1 out of 1 hunks ignored--saving rejects to src/subgen-image.c.rej ... => Patch patch-src__subgen-image.c failed to apply cleanly. Typical reasons for that are out of date ports, so synchronized my repository, ran cvs up -Pd, and tried again. No improvement. Further investigation revealed: === [email protected] (/dev/pts/1) /usr/ports/multimedia/dvdauthor/files 2 -> l total 1 drwxr-xr-x  2 grog  lemis   512 Oct  2 11:29 CVS -rw-r--r--  1 grog  lemis  1549 Oct 23  2003 README.FreeBSD -rw-r--r--  1 root  lemis  2867 Jan 11 14:10 patch-src__subgen-image.c -rw-r--r--  1 grog  lemis  2522 Jan 11 14:05 patch-src__subgen-image.c.orig === [email protected] (/dev/pts/1) /usr/ports/multimedia/dvdauthor/files 3 -> cvs update -Pd cvs update: Updating .

Wed, 11 Jan 2012 20:00:00 UTC

Newsworthy Tablet Launches

Posted By Tim Bray

I glanced at my newsreader yesterday and gave up almost instantly because it was full of irrelevant fluff from CES. Particularly irritating was a post over at The Verge announcing breathlessly that a vendor not worth mentioning here was... wait for it... planning to release a tablet in 2012! I twitterbitched: Dear Verge: X plans to launch a tablet in 2012 is not a news story for ANY value of X. Which was clearly wrong; many people tweeted back values of X for which it would be newsworthy: Cracker Barrel, Macdonalds, NASA, Vladimir Putin, a lost Amazonian tribe, the US Government, Pfizer, and God via Moses.

Wed, 11 Jan 2012 20:00:00 UTC

Blue on Blue and Brown

Posted By Tim Bray

A string of Christmas lights lingers into mid-January. This is on Main Street, a part of Vancouver that I especially care for.

Wed, 11 Jan 2012 15:49:39 UTC

Martian Chronicles reading

Posted By Cory Doctorow

The Starship Sofa podcast has produced an excellent reading of my novella "The Martian Chronicles," which was originally published in Jonathan Strahan's YA anthology Life on Mars. The reading is by jeff Lane, who's really talented. Here's the MP3 (the reading starts around 1:50).

Wed, 11 Jan 2012 15:47:18 UTC

ACM Queue Programming Challenge starts soon!

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

ACM Queue is hosting an online programming competition on its website from January 15 through February 12, 2012. Using either Java, C++, C#, Python, or JavaScript, code an AI to compete against other participant's programs in a territory-capture game called, "Coercion". The competition is open to everyone. Details at:

Wed, 11 Jan 2012 14:57:16 UTC

Refactoring on the Cheap

Posted By Diomidis D. Spinellis

The refactorings that a good integrated development environment can perform are impressive. Yet, there are many reasons to master some cheap-and-cheerful alternative approaches. First, there will always be refactorings that your IDE wont support. Also, although your IDE might offer excellent refactoring support for some programming languages, it could fall short on others. Modern projects increasingly mix and match implementation languages, and switching to a specialized IDE for each language is burdensome and inefficient. Finally, IDE-provided refactorings resemble an intellectual straightjacket. If you only know how to use the ready-made refactorings, youll miss out on opportunities for other code improvements.

Wed, 11 Jan 2012 13:15:30 UTC

Protecting Your Privacy at International Borders

Posted By Bruce Schneier

The EFF has published a good guide. My own advice is here and here....

Tue, 10 Jan 2012 23:07:40 UTC

Building ports from scratch again

Posted By Greg Lehey

As planned, continued building the ports on defake with my old, incomplete build method. In principle it should work, but for some reason today the build died at the start because I had two rules to build X. How did that happen? Checked out the last version of the rules file again, and discovered it was already in there. My best bet is that previously the duplicate rules didn't do any harm, while now they caused the build to fail. What did do harm was checking out the rules file. It seems that in so doing I overwrote some changes I had made since the last checkin, and I was missing rules for a number of ports.

Tue, 10 Jan 2012 17:01:07 UTC

Map of C++

Posted By Herb Sutter

Hilarious and apt. Nice work, Alena and Jim. Filed under: C++

Tue, 10 Jan 2012 12:56:27 UTC

Collecting Expert Predictions about Terrorist Attacks

Posted By Bruce Schneier

John Mueller has been collecting them: Some 116 of these Very People were surveyed in 2006 by Foreign Policy magazine in a joint project with the Center for America Progress. The magazine stressed that its survey drew from the "highest echelons of Americas foreign policy establishment" and included the occasional secretary of state and national security adviser, as well as...

Tue, 10 Jan 2012 00:49:18 UTC

Recharging NiZn batteries again

Posted By Greg Lehey

It's been two months since I've paid much attention to the Nickel-Zinc batteries I bought in October. I haven't been demanding so much from the flash unit, but today it finally told me they were discharged. And indeed they were: the voltages were down to 1.549 V, 1.486V, 1.437 V and 1.381 V, the last one that I had already marked as not being quite up to the same level as the others. It's difficult to be exact, because it was clear that they were still recovering from the flash, and the voltages were gradually rising. Still, a long way below the 1.6 V in the specifications.

Mon, 09 Jan 2012 23:35:41 UTC

Portmaster: give up

Posted By Greg Lehey

Portmaster is finished! ===>   Registering installation for poppler-glib-0.18.0 ... ===>>> Re-installation of poppler-glib-0.18.0 succeeded ===>>> Update check of installed ports complete That must be about the twelfth reinstallation of poppler, but it's finished. Well, it reinstalled poppler many times, but it removed xterm, and it's still gone. Why? What else is gone? It's been 5 days since I started this update. The intention had been to do it faster than a complete rebuild of the ports. But it doesn't seem to have been. What went wrong? Jürgen Lock suggests that the presence of the FORCE_PKG_REGISTER environment variable or the -C option (don't run make clean) that I had at the beginning might be to blame.

Mon, 09 Jan 2012 22:05:25 UTC

Reminder: RSVP for LOPSA-NYC's Tuesday meeting

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

If you are coming to hear my presentation, please RSVP so you can get into the building. (Try to arrive early... getting in takes a while if there is a line). RSVP using the link on this page. Tue, Jan 11. Starts at 7pm. Title: "[email protected]: Thousands of DevOps since 2004"

Mon, 09 Jan 2012 22:05:25 UTC

Reminder: RSVP for LOPSA-NYC's Wedneday meeting

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

If you are coming to hear my presentation, please RSVP so you can get into the building. (Try to arrive early... getting in takes a while if there is a line). RSVP using the link on this page. Date: 01/11/2012 at 7pm Title: "[email protected]: Thousands of DevOps since 2004"

Mon, 09 Jan 2012 18:55:57 UTC

Stealing Source Code

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Hackers stole some source code to Symantec's products. We don't know what was stolen or how recent the code is -- the company is, of course, minimizing the story -- but it's hard to get worked up about this. Yes, maybe the bad guys will comb the code looking for vulnerabilities, and maybe there's some smoking gun that proves Symantec's...

Mon, 09 Jan 2012 12:00:55 UTC

The TSA Proves its Own Irrelevance

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Have you wondered what $1.2 billion in airport security gets you? The TSA has compiled its own "Top 10 Good Catches of 2011": 10) Snakes, turtles, and birds were found at Miami (MIA) and Los Angeles (LAX). Im just happy there werent any lions, tigers, and bears& [...] 3) Over 1,200 firearms were discovered at TSA checkpoints across the nation...

Mon, 09 Jan 2012 11:24:54 UTC

The Coming War on General Purpose Computation

Posted By Cory Doctorow

Here's a transcript of my keynote at the 28th Chaos Communications Congress in Berlin over Christmas week, "The Coming War on General Purpose Computation." Here're the relevant links: * Video * Transcript (Joshua Wise) * German translation (Christian Wöhrl) * Subtitles in German, French, Spanish and Italian (you can add more!) Mastering by John Taylor … [Read more]

Sun, 08 Jan 2012 22:48:10 UTC

Upgrading ports, less pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

On with the ports upgrade today, without running into many problems. It wasn't until I rebooted defake that I discovered that I could no longer communicate with it: xterm had gone away. Why? That's the second program that just disappeared, after rsync. rsync wasn't to be outdone, though. It went away again! I don't understand that, since it happened when I thought I hadn't done anything. But I can't be bothered crawling through the equivalent of 5000 pages of log information to try to piece together what went wrong.

Sun, 08 Jan 2012 22:46:19 UTC

eSATA docking station

Posted By Greg Lehey

It's been two weeks since I received my hard disk docking station. The first experience wasn't good, and I didn't have a SATA disk handy to put in it; the only one was my 2 TB backup disk, and after seeing what happened with an SD card, I didn't want to risk that. Today finally got round to taking a spare SATA disk out of the external housing and putting it in the docking station, in the process discovering confirmation of what I had suspected, that the eSATA interface was only for the SATA drive: The SATA disk fitted better than the attempts with the PATA disk, and it powered up.

Sun, 08 Jan 2012 20:00:00 UTC

Oily Politics

Posted By Tim Bray

The politics start with whether you say tar sands or oil sands. Whatever you want to call them, theyre up in Northern Alberta. Observers of American politics will have noticed the Keystone XL project, which would take the sands crude oil south to Texas. Northern Gateway, the Canadian version, would carry crude west to Kitimat on the Pacific coast for export to Asia; its in the news because the public hearings start next week, with thousands queued up to offer opinions. Im generally contra, and increasingly optimistic. Heres a list of the things that people like me worry about: The process of digging up the bitumen-and-sand mixture and extracting usable oil appears to be playing hell with the Northern-Alberta environment.

Sun, 08 Jan 2012 19:08:32 UTC

Book-signing at Arisia, Boston, Sunday

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

If you are going to be at the Arisia science fiction and fantasy convention please stop by the autograph signing area (Galleria - Autograph Space) on Sunday, January 15 at 11:30-1pm. I'll be there along with more reputable folks like Adrianne Brennan and Greg R. Fishbone. They'll be signing their most excellent works of fiction. I'll be signing my technical books. I have no shame and will also sign other books too, as well as napkins and scraps of paper. I'm really just excited to show that I know how to work a pen.

Sun, 08 Jan 2012 16:42:47 UTC

Mind Mapping

Posted By Diomidis D. Spinellis

In a recent NPR interview the journalist described how I used a mind map to organize my work while I served as Secretary General for Information Systems at the Greek Ministry of Finance. A number of people asked me for more details; if you're interested read on.

Sat, 07 Jan 2012 23:30:07 UTC

Port build pain continued

Posted By Greg Lehey

Didn't have much time for my ports build today, but that didn't mean things went smoothly. While building nmap, got this message: c++ -c -I../libdnet-stripped/include  -I/usr/include -I../nbase -I../nsock/include -O2 -pipe -I/usr/include -fno-strict-aliasing -Wall  -fno-strict-aliasing   -DHAVE_CONFIG_H -DNPING_NAME=\"Nping\" -DNPING_URL=\"\" -DNPING_PLATFORM=\"amd64-portbld-freebsd8.2\" -D_FORTIFY_SOURCE=2 -o NpingOps.o gmake[3]: *** No rule to make target `nmap.h', needed by `utils.o'.  Stop. That wasn't a portmaster issue: it happened when I tried to build it in the normal manner. On three different machines. With two different versions of nmap. And on checking, discovered that there is no mention of nmap.h anywhere in that directory.

Sat, 07 Jan 2012 22:59:09 UTC

More photo experiments

Posted By Greg Lehey

Another windy day for the house photos, but managed to get most of them anyway. I've been taking these panoramas for over three years now, but I continually run into new experiences: A few weeks back I changed the use of flash in the verandah photos to use TTL flash for the first image, which meant taking the first image with flash, turning off the flash unit, taking the other two, turning the flash unit on again and moving on to the next position.

Sat, 07 Jan 2012 20:00:00 UTC

Seasonal Shinies

Posted By Tim Bray

Today we took down the Christmas tree. The pile of decorations is smaller than it was when we put them on, because the tree fell over the day after we put it up. Lots of decorations were broken, and also a couple of little hearts; but those mend.

Sat, 07 Jan 2012 05:17:44 UTC

Pattern-Welded Seax

Posted By Niels Provos

Sat, 07 Jan 2012 05:17:44 UTC

Pattern-Welded Seax

Posted By Niels Provos

Sat, 07 Jan 2012 05:17:44 UTC

Pattern-Welded Seax

Posted By Niels Provos

Fri, 06 Jan 2012 23:24:36 UTC

More ports pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

Continued with my attempts to update the ports tree today. More pain. First it died in libass, whatever that may be: ===>  Configuring for libass-0.10.0 cd: can't cd to /home/ports/multimedia/libass/work/libass-0.10.0 env: ./configure: No such file or directory ===>  Script "configure" failed unexpectedly. What's that? Took a look in the build directory, and sure, ./configure is there. But the directory name is libass-0.9.13, not libass-0.10.0. Why that? Did a make clean, built, and it installed. It went on, though, although I removed the C option. Later I got a crash after this message: ===>>> pkg-message for compat7x-amd64-7.3.703000.201008_1 ******************************************************************************* *                                                                     ...

Fri, 06 Jan 2012 22:36:05 UTC

Friday Squid Blogging: Squid Skateboards

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Great designs.....

Fri, 06 Jan 2012 19:50:49 UTC

Time to Patch Your HP Printers

Posted By Bruce Schneier

It's a serious vulnerability. Note that this is the research that was mistakenly reported as allowing hackers to set your printer on fire. Here's a list of all the printers affected....

Fri, 06 Jan 2012 19:14:30 UTC

How Trello is different

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Just a few months ago, we launched Trello, a super simple, web-based team coordination system. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and adoption has been very strong, even in its early, 1.0 state. Trello is new kind of development project for Fog Creek. Its 100% hosted; there will never be an installed software version of Trello. That allowed us to modernize many aspects of our development process; I am happy to announce that there is absolutely no Visual Basic code involved in any part of Trello. Whats next, flying cars? The biggest difference youll notice (compared to our previous products pitched solely at software developers) is that Trello is a totally horizontal product.

Fri, 06 Jan 2012 12:30:24 UTC

Improving the Security of Four-Digit PINs on Cell Phones

Posted By Bruce Schneier

The author of this article notices that it's often easy to guess a cell phone PIN because of smudge marks on the screen. Those smudge marks indicate the four PIN digits, so an attacker knows that the PIN is one of 24 possible permutations of those digits. Then he points out that if your PIN has only three different digits...

Fri, 06 Jan 2012 00:00:00 UTC

Tom @ LOPSA-NJ, Thu Jan 5, 2012, Lawrenceville, NJ (near Princeton)

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

I'll be speaking at LOPSA-New Jersey on Thursday. This will be a repeat of the keynote I did in North Carolina last November. While it says "security" in the title, it will make sense whether you work in security or not. All are invited! (no charge to attend) Topic: You Suck At Time Management (but it isn't your fault!) Date: Thursday, January 5 2012 Time: 7:00pm (social), 7:30pm (presentation) Pizza and Soda being brought to you by: INetU Managed Hosting If you are planing on coming please RSVP so we have a good count for the Pizza. Location: Lawrence Headquarters Branch of the Mercer County Library2751 US Highway 1Lawrenceville, 08648-4132 So much to do!

Thu, 05 Jan 2012 22:38:39 UTC

Ports build, continued

Posted By Greg Lehey

Continued with my ports build today. Came into the office and found an old acquaintance: cd x2p; LD_LIBRARY_PATH=/src/FreeBSD/ports/lang/perl5.12/work/perl-5.12.4 /usr/bin/make s2p make: don't know how to make s2p. Stop *** Error code 2 Stop in /home/ports/lang/perl5.12/work/perl-5.12.4. In summary: I still don't know how to build perl from the Ports Collection. Maybe if I blew everything away and started again, it would be better. But that's not sure, and it could be even more pain. As I did last time, I just downloaded the package, once I found it: === [email protected] (/dev/pts/0) /usr/ports 90 -> pkg_add -r perl5 Error: Unable to get File unavailable (e.g., file not found, no access) pkg_add: unable to fetch '' by URL === [email protected] (/dev/pts/0) /usr/ports 91 -> pkg_add -r perl Fetching

Thu, 05 Jan 2012 22:00:00 UTC

PICC '12 planning committee needs YOU!

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

Interested in helping make PICC '12 happen? The committee is the most fun group of people I've planned a conference with. If you live within 500 miles of New Brunswick, NJ we'd love for you to help out. Commitment is about an hour a week plus a short phone conference call every other Monday at 8pm. Here's some typical volunteer tasks: (we'll ask you to pick one) Forward our mailings to user groups' mailing lists (The hard part is making sure it actually went out!) Someone to maintain our Facebook/LinkedIn/Twitter presences. Invent new ways to get the word out about the conference.

Thu, 05 Jan 2012 19:39:55 UTC

Liars and Outliers News

Posted By Bruce Schneier

The Liars and Outliers webpage is live. On it you can find links to order both paper and e-book copies from a variety of online retailers, and signed copies directly from me. I've also posted the jacket copy, the table of contents, the first chapter, the 15 figures from the book, an image of the full wraparound cover, and all...

Thu, 05 Jan 2012 12:28:59 UTC

Newly Released Papers from NSA Journals

Posted By Bruce Schneier

The papers are old, but they have just been released under FOIA....

Thu, 05 Jan 2012 00:36:09 UTC

Migrating to amd64, next try

Posted By Greg Lehey

So far my experience has shown that DxO Optics "Pro" is quite a useful program. The only problem, apart from the fact that it needs Microsoft to run, is that it uses so much memory that I can't run it on VirtualBox on my 32 bit machine. I started trying to upgrade to amd64 (64 bits, without the memory limitations) nearly 8 months ago, and gave it up two weeks later because of X issues. I then tried again in August, but the pain of upgrading was just too much.

Wed, 04 Jan 2012 20:00:00 UTC

Computer Longevity

Posted By Tim Bray

We have a lot of computers around the house, but the main family living-room workhorse is a 2008 Mac Pro. Everyone knows that computers have short working lives, but Im thinking this one could be with us for a while. Long-time readers my remember this computer as the one that nearly got hacked (as in, with a hacksaw). Current Status Its got two 2.8GHz quad-core Xeons, 6G of memory, and a few terabytes of disk. Its used for: General-purpose computing for my 12-year-old: Essay-writing, Chinese dictionary, research. Lightroom. Final Cut Express; except I sort of lost my video mojo and havent done this in a while.

Wed, 04 Jan 2012 14:37:07 UTC

Sending Coded Messages with Postage Stamps

Posted By Bruce Schneier

The history of coded messages in postage-stamp placement. I wonder how prevalent this actually was. My guess is that it was more a clever idea than an actual signaling system. And I notice that a lot of the code systems don't have a placement that indicates "no message; this is just as stamp."...

Tue, 03 Jan 2012 23:53:02 UTC

More photo processing comparisons

Posted By Greg Lehey

Spent much of the day with further reprocessing old photos. The results were quite useful. On 4 April 2009 I had another case where a panorama changed from useless to acceptable: If it hadn't been for the reflections of the sun in the lens, it wouldn't have been at all bad, though it's clear that it challenges the limits of the dynamics.

Tue, 03 Jan 2012 20:42:07 UTC

The internet is the best place for dissent to start

Posted By Cory Doctorow

The Guardian

Tue, 03 Jan 2012 20:41:47 UTC

Can we get cat-sharing sites to harden themselves against Irans secret police?

Posted By Cory Doctorow

In my latest Guardian column, "The internet is the best place for dissent to start," I look at Ethan Zuckerman's recent talk on the Internet and human rights, and the way that cute cats create the positive externality of a place for dissent to begin and flourish, and look at the problems this causes: Zuckerman's … [Read more]

Tue, 03 Jan 2012 06:48:18 UTC

Hugo nominations ballot is open

Posted By Cory Doctorow

The Hugo Award nominations are open. Attendees of last year's World Science Fiction in Reno and next year's WorldCon in Chicago (as well as those who paid for "supporter" status) can nominate their favorite science fiction and fantasy stories, books, movies and other media for one of the most prestigious awards in the field. Just … [Read more]

Tue, 03 Jan 2012 00:01:31 UTC

Reprocessing old photos

Posted By Greg Lehey

After getting the Olympus E-510 in August 2007, It took me quite some time to get good results from the postprocessing. Some of it was a learning experience, some was lack of suitable software. I've learnt a lot since then, and I've found ways to improve the quality of the images, but can DxO Optics "Pro" do better? Trawled through my old diary entries and got as far as three years ago, when I had serious issues with exposure and gradation. It proves that, for some reason, some of the images really were underexposed, but DxO brought much better results.

Mon, 02 Jan 2012 20:00:00 UTC

All The Way Home

Posted By Tim Bray

Its a play Ill be attending here in Vancouver later this month and would like to recommend, but I have a conflict of interest. Heres the Web site; if you get interested in seeing it youd better move fast as there are only seven performances and some are already sold out. All The Way Home is a Pulitzer-prize-winning play by Tad Mosel based on James Agees A Death in the Family. This production, by Vancouvers Electric Company Theatre, is unconventional. It takes place on the stage of the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, but the (vast, immense) auditorium will be empty; the audience (150 or so) will be on the stage with the action taking place among them.

Mon, 02 Jan 2012 18:33:56 UTC

Allocating Security Resources to Protect Critical Infrastructure

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Alan T. Murray and Tony H. Grubesic, "Critical Infrastructure Protection: The Vulnerability Conundrum," Telematics & Informatics, 29 (February 2012): 56­65 (full article behind paywall). Abstract: Critical infrastructure and key resources (CIKR) refer to a broad array of assets which are essential to the everyday functionality of social, economic, political and cultural systems in the United States. The interruption of CIKR...

Mon, 02 Jan 2012 17:21:02 UTC

ARM V8 Architecture

Posted By James Hamilton

Years ago, Dave Patterson remarked that most server innovations were coming from the mobile device world. Hes right. Commodity system innovation is driven by volume and nowhere is there more volume than in the mobile device world.  The power management techniques applied fairly successfully over the last 5 years had their genesis in the mobile world.  And, as processor power efficiency improves, memory is on track to become the biggest power consumer in the data center. I expect the ideas to rein in memory power consumption will again come from the mobile device world. Just as Eskimos are reported (apparently incorrectly) to have 7 words for snow, mobile memory systems have a large array of low power states with subtly different power dissipations and recovery times.

Mon, 02 Jan 2012 12:15:26 UTC

Applying Game Theory to Cyberattacks and Defenses

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Behzad Zare Moayedi, Mohammad Abdollahi Azgomi, "A Game Theoretic Framework for Evaluation of the Impacts of Hackers Diversity on Security Measures," Reliability Engineering & System Safety, 99 (2012): 45-54 (full article behind paywall). Abstract: Game theoretical methods offer new insights into quantitative evaluation of dependability and security. Currently, there is a wide range of useful game theoretic approaches to model...

Mon, 02 Jan 2012 05:47:45 UTC

A Vocabulary for Speaking about the Future

Posted By Cory Doctorow

Locus Magazine

Mon, 02 Jan 2012 05:47:28 UTC

Science fiction sucks at prediction, and thats OK

Posted By Cory Doctorow

My latest Locus column, "A Vocabulary for Speaking about the Future," talks about science fiction's uselessness as a predictive medium, and its great utility as a medium for thinking about, attaining, and preventing futures. But the really interesting thing is how science fiction does its best tricks: through creating the narrative vocabularies by which futures … [Read more]

Sun, 01 Jan 2012 00:36:08 UTC

NYC and NJ LOPSA meeting reminders

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

I'm the speaker at LOPSA's New Jersey chapter on Thursday and at LOPSA's NYC chapter the following Tuesday. Obviously I have too much free time on my hands :-) But seriously... Thu, Jan 5 near Princeton: LOPSA-NJ. Title: "You suck at Time Management... but it isn't your fault" Tue, Jan 11 in NYC: LOPSA-NYC. Title: "[email protected]: Thousands of DevOps since 2004" New members are always welcome! Hope to see you there!Tom

Sun, 01 Jan 2012 00:27:40 UTC

Tom @ LOPSA-NYC, Tue Jan 11, 2012, NYC, NY

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

I'll be the speaker at LOPSA NYC's meeting in January. This will be a repeat of the "[email protected]" talk that I gave at LISA 2011. It was very well-received. If you missed it at LISA, this may be your last chance to see it live. Official announcement: (Please register so you can get into the building. The registration form is at the bottom of the log post) The talk starts at 7pm. Please come early so you can get through security.

Sun, 01 Jan 2012 00:20:16 UTC

Tom @ LOPSA-NJ, Thu Jan 5, 2012, Lawrenceville, NJ (near Princeton)

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

I'll be speaking at LOPSA-New Jersey on Thursday. This will be a repeat of the keynote I did in North Carolina last November. While it says "security" in the title, it will make sense whether you work in security or not. All are invited! (no charge to attend) Topic: You Suck At Time Management (but it isn't your fault!) Date: Thursday, January 5 2012 Time: 7:00pm (social), 7:30pm (presentation) Pizza and Soda being brought to you by: INetU Managed Hosting If you are planing on coming please RSVP so we have a good count for the Pizza. Location: Lawrence Headquarters Branch of the Mercer County Library2751 US Highway 1Lawrenceville, 08648-4132 So much to do!