Friday, January 26, 2007

There is no war on terror

Finally someone who talks sense in the hunt for terrorists. Terrorists are criminals not enemy combatants.
The director of public prosecutions in England denys that Britain is caught up in a "war on terror" and wants legislative restraint in passing laws to deal with terrorism. This is great and we should have more people talking like that, another good quote is "The fight against terrorism on the streets of Britain is not a war. It is the prevention of crime, the enforcement of our laws and the winning of justice for those damaged by their infringement." There are more good quotes in the article so read it. The US new heat beam (Norwegian link) weapon is not the right way to fight them.

In security always look beyond the obvious problem and try to analyse what we are really protecting against. The politicians talk about freeing us from terrorists, but what is a terrorist?

Definitions of a terrorist/terrorism: has this definition for terrorism: "The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons."
Wikipedia talks about the definitions of terrorism, there where 109 definitions when the US army counted them in 1988, and ultimately it is a political judgement. That means that in the end it is up to politicians find out who is the terrorist and who is not.

So how do you protect agings terrorists, well the best way is crime prevention and treating people with dignity, not locking people up and treating them as scum. Giving people a fair trial is also better than shipping them off to some island without any legislative oversight. If people can see that the system works and they can pursue their goals through legislative means with some measure of success, they will use that avenue to vent their grievances. If this avenue is closed then people will use other ways to get heard.

For success stories look at how the IRA and EPA have been brought to the negotiating table and made to put their arms down. In contrast look at how we are now handling the mess in Iraq.
On the other hand if a politician today can get a law passed calling for harsher penalties just by slapping the sticker terrorist on it, then they will use that word for all it is worth. Ultimately security is a game of power. Who has resources and power and who has not, and how is the power distributed. Look at the big picture of what is happening in the world today and see it as a power struggle. Who has power, how are they using it and to which goals are they trying to achieve.

The next time someone tells you that they have done something to increase security, ask yourself what they are really trying to protect. Maybe it is not your security they have increased. Do not take their promise of increased security as blind faith, but rather view the world through paranoid eyes.

Kanelboller and blogging

A few weeks ago I invited people to my birthday party. Now there has been some posts about it from people at daimi. Gabi has a nice post but pictures can say more than a thousand words and Doina has some good ones from the evening. My favorite is this picture of the cinnamon buns when they are fresh and warm.

Also what should I post about?

In my last post Rune commented that there are naked girls on the Internet, this given as a suggestion of what kind of links I should post. Well, for one who has surfed the Internet for 12 years and likes to explore the interesting fringes of society, I know a variety of links. Some which would really make your head spin. I do that because I am intrigued by the multitude of people that exist in the world and the kind of interests they have.

Every person has a story to tell, most of us have little urges or quirkes that makes us special. With the advent of the internet, people can talk about these quirkes they have, in an anonymous fasion. Some have even made websites about it and communities have sprung up. Now some of these fringe groups have a thiving community online. So I can post links to a world you never knew existed.

But do you really want to know?
I sometimes wish I didn't.

PS: There is no need for me to post linkes to boyish fun or naked girls as that is beeing done by so many others (direct links are safe for work). The first link is a great site if you want to see people do dum stuff and fall down.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Write yourself into being

I have been procrastinating so I have not posted for some days:
But today a quote caught my eye: "Online... you have to write yourself into being". So if you do not have any presence on the net you are not alive.

More from the interview
"There are sort of four properties and one key practice that are fundamentally different online. The key practice is that you have to write yourself into being. " "There are four functions that are sort of the key architecture of online public and key structures of mediated environments that are generally not part of the offline world. And those are persistence, searchability, replicability, and invisible audiences."
Persistence -- what you say sticks around.s
Searchability -- you can search for what has been said.
Replicability -- anything you say can be copied and pasted.
Invisible audiences -- you do not see your audience.

Quotes taken from this story, which is an interview of this Ph.D. student/blogger.
Further random clicking from blog lead to gallery of very cute cats and kittens. (Warning: Cute overload. Not safe for male readers.)

Monday, January 15, 2007


Procrastinating (definition: The act or habit of procrastinating, or putting off to a future time, delay).
Procrastinate (definition: To put off doing something, especially out of habitual carelessness or laziness. To postpone or delay needlessly.)

Why can't we get stuff done, even when I know it has to be done?
This is a common problem and research has shown that procrastinating is a growing tend. So if you are feeling that you can't get stuff done you are not alone.
The second paragraph of the story: "After 10 years of research on a project that was only supposed to take five years, a Canadian industrial psychologist found in a giant study that not only is procrastination on the rise, it makes people poorer, fatter and unhappier."

This was my 15 minute of procrastination for now. I will procrastinate some more at 3 o'clock when people are invited to the ground floor to eat the rest of the cinnamon buns (Norwegian: Kanel boller).

Tomorrow: How to get stuff done.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Vista is crippeled

Many of you who study security might now have heard about "A Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection" (this is the paper which included an "executive executive summary" which read "The Vista Content Protection specification could very well constitute the longest suicide note in history") made by Peter Gutmann.

This has been further explored in two podcasts about DRM on "Security Now!" (made by Steve Gibson and Leo Laporte).
The first podcast (66min) talks about the evolving history of DRM (digital restriction (rights) management).
It is followed up in the next podcast (50min) by talking about the content protection system in Windows Vista and includes an interview with
Peter Gutmann.

After listening to these two podcasts you really get a feel for how insane the DRM now has become. As you are putting all this effort into trying to create a barrier between the user and his legally purchased content, a content that most users are just content watching. It is creating a cryptosystem where the user is both the receiver of the content and the attacker. An idea which is in it self flawed, but still the large content producer pour millions of dollars on it. While only making more pirates out of us ordinary people, as we desperately try to make our hardware work.

On the other hand I just love hearing about the crypto used, which includes AES, elliptic-curve cryptography and public-key encryption with off line revocation mechanisms. The effort put into this system is phenomenal and it is well thought out, but the goal that they are trying to achieve is crazy.

This post is based on 2 posts from boingboing.

Funny roleplaying movie

I arranged a party today. There we got into discussing roleplaying, how it is done and so on.

It can be illustrated quite well with this youtube movie (in two parts, total 12 minutes long) where you see a group of gamers meeting. It is well made and fun, although I should warn that one of the players throws in a rather unexpected twist to the story close to the end. The movie is in french with English subtitles.
Part one
Part two

An explanation of some roleplaying facts for the non-roleplayers among you:
What we have in the movie is a guy meeting his old gaming group, he has a relaxed view of gaming while his friends are more (too) serious about their game. The players play characters and they have a GM (game master) that controls the whole game, he is sitting behind a game master screen in the movie. We are also shown clips of the fantasy world, the world that the game master and players imagine in their head.
Then sometimes players do very strange things which trows the story into disarray, and other players just have to react to that. Like in the real world, where sometimes people do stuff or things happen to you (or other people) that throws your life into disarray.
As a final arbitrator of things in the games are the dices, they tell you if you have been lucky or not. A really good throw at the right time might mean you win the lottery, a really bad throw at the worst possible moment means you can be hit by a lightning from a clear sky.

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Friday, January 12, 2007

Friday humor

As I surfed boing boing yesterday I came across this nerdy mini series. I have only seen 3 of the 8 episodes so far (they are each about 5 minutes in length), but so far they have really been funny.

If you want to know how nerdy the series is. Then let me tell you that the first episode is about a master programmer. He spills soda on his keyboard and gets sucked into the Internet where he meets the two persons: "bit" and "byte". The series includes references to Tron and Star Wars.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The power of videos

The moving picture (video) is a powerful force.

Bruce Schneier has a good post today on the psychology of security. Where he says: "people are more persuaded by a vivid example than they are by statistics. The latter might be more useful, but the former is easier to remember. That's the context in which I want you to think about this very gripping story about a cold-blooded killer caught by city-wide surveillance cameras."

Well the link to the story brings you to a 10 minute piece about how they caught the man, and although it was the cameras that are the focus of the story. A break in the investigation came only when they got a tip (based on pictures for the cameras).

But what made me write about this is that also today I read another piece of information. A Norwegian newspaper talks about when the tables are turned and the police are the ones beeing filmed: Politifolk filmes på jobb (Cops filmed at work) (Includes a link to a youtube video). The article starts of with the chief of police saying he is critical of the phenomenon, but further in the article he also aknowleges that this gives people a new way to control the police.

The last piece of video I saw today was a very moving video testemony from coworkers of a man detained at guantanamo. If you are convinced that everyone in guantanamo is a terrorist, you will not think so after viewing that video testemony.

So if you want to make a statement do it with a video camera.


I am a nerd and proud to be a nerd. There is no way around it, but I was born 10 years before nerds started to be cool. Now the movement to make nerds a part of everyone's reality is starting to get traction as the internet becomes all pervasive.

today's new word: Nerdcore - being a nerd and rapping about it.
A documentary that is going to come out about it:
A youtube trailer of the documentary.

Even Dagbladet (Norwegian paper) liked to something about it today, but they linked movie called Nerdcore rising.

And for today's science I bring you a computer simulations of life inside a cell.

Not posting for a long time

After a good start with some postings, you find out that nobody is going to read you lousy blog anyways so you just stop. Now I am in Denmark and I am surfing the net a lot in my quiet evenings. So I can post my funny or crappy links here instead of spamming all my friends with links.