My Great Mate Solid State and the Quest for Qim.

"Samsung will early next month ship the first notebook PC… fitted with 32GB of solid-state NAND Flash storage instead of a regular hard disk drive…"


Oh so cool. Have you ever heard the rattling swan song of a hard drive's failing bearings? If you have… and you waited a few more days … or weeks (Its happened to me twice) then you will know how the reliance on motion in your PC is something that should belong in antiquity. Like the Bleep Slurp of a 56k modem.

Solid state is great. Its less power hungry, quieter and for the most part faster and more reliable.

I was working on a short story last night, set a few years in the future. One of the themes was the lack of memory in the future (sounds like a riveting short story, huh?). I don’t mean not enough memory, I mean more than ever enough.

QIM - Quasi Infinite Memory

Imagine if you had enough memory to store whatever you could conceive of. Both in terms of storage and processing. It doesn’t matter if the memory is physically about your person or just accessible instantly, the effect is the same.

Advice to Terrorists

The things that are being done in the name of protecting us from terrorists are truly scary. Without doubt, we should do all we can to protect ourselves, but we most not be lied to, which is what is happening.

I don’t mind living in a surveillance society if it gives me real benefit in terms of value and safety and utility. Wal-Mart can know my shirt size. The council can see I drink too much beer from my garbage. Yada yada…. But when I'm on the phone to my mum I want it private.

The assumption that we need to monitor phone calls and emails and ISP logs to protect us is a lie and we should not let this lie be propagated. It’s a lie because it archives nothing.

To stress the point, if you're from Al Quada, or the LTTE, or the IRA or Mebyon Kernow, then follow these simple methods and rules to be able to talk freely without anyone being able to listen:

  • Always Encrypt Everything: Its so easy to do, even to a really secure level, so just do it. Get into the habit of it.
  • Minimise Phone Use: Even if you try to be smart and outwit the good guys on the phone you probably wont. If they are listening then assume they will know so much about your background and psychology that they will be able to spot anomalies. Also things like voice analysis will be able to give away information about your mood and intentions that you don’t want to give. So stay off the phone and keep it to simple text.
  • Change access points every time: This one is a pain in the Taliban's Ass, but it has to be stuck to absolutely. By access points I mean ways of getting on the net. It might be a stolen satellite phone or cell phone or a new internet cafĂ©. I would also really recommend changing device every time too. It will get pricey in terms of phones, pdas and laptops, but so are flying lessons.
  • Use both public key and private key encryption simultaneously: It takes time but do this for all encryption. It takes time but hey, if a terror campaign is worth doing its worth doing well.
  • Always use a Thumb Drive for d ata: You can get huge USB thumbdrives now, even in Afghanistan. Unlike magnetic disks there is much less chance of data being recovered from these once formatted. Also you can get some great rare earth disk magnets on ebay that can wipe a Thumbdrive in the same pocket instantly. Pretty neat!

  • Use Open Source Encryption: These are zillions of great open source encryption applications you can get. If your serious about your privacy then take a student away from bomb making classes and train him up in programming C++ (That’s all he needs really). Then you can do all manner of great stuff with the core open source components that are freely available. The clever people have don’t the hard work, you just need to fiddle with it and make it work the way you need.
  • Always Use Steganography: This is where you hide information in other information mathematically. As with encryption, there are lots of open source methods to do this. Its not essential, but when your at the airport a picture of your house on a thumb drive will look less suspicious than a file full of random looking encrypted data.
  • Use lots of data: A great way you and your terrorist buddies can get super security is to have a thumb drive each, say a gigabyte, and just load it up with photos. As many as you can get, the same photos on each. Meet in the jungle and agree on a starting photo that only you and your buddy know. Then use this photo as a part of the encryption key you will use – in conjunction with other keys you have established and publicly shared.
  • Aim for a One Time Pad: If you can get access to a source of uncompromised true randomness then you can have unbreakable encryption. Its easy to program this, the hard part is getting that random data.
  • Use lots of Brute force in conjunction worthy proven encryption: People in the security business say that AES Rinjdal (The current agreed best) is totally secure, and it probably is. But, just to be safe encrypt your messages a few times with some other methods in an agreed sequence with your terrorist buddy. If you have a decent programmer this can be really easily automated.
  • Use Private Networks: Once you're pretty sure your communications are secure then give them even more oomph by talking through private network that exists on but separate from the internet. A good place to start is the Ffreenet project, Open VPN or Hamachi.
  • Be Really careful of Spying tools: The biggest week point in your communication with your Terrorist buddies isn’t the encryption and inline eavesdropping, it the whole bunch of things that can read data in spooky ways.
    1. The Keyboard: If you type on a keyboard they can read it, even if there isn’t a "traditional" key logging device or software installed on the PC. They can work out electronically which keys are being pressed or they can monitor the pulses that go down the cable to the PC even from a car in the street.
    2. The Screen: This can be remotely monitored in ways that we probably can't conceive of right now, but you can bet they are doing it. Remember, its all just electricity in different arrangements.
    3. WiFi: Don't EVER use WiFi: Not only is wifi encryption not as secure as you need to avoid the CIA but you just cant be sure what's sniffing around your PC when you are on a Wireless network.
  • Minimise Technology: Ideally you should minimise the technology you need to do your evil. If your going to do a big terror thang then meet in secret and discuss and agree as much as possible between you and your terrorist buddies. Write little down. Memorise much. Every time you use technology know that you are on dangerous ground but if you are smart and careful you can be totally safe.


23 May 2006

A friend of mine, Bob R, just wrote to me and said he disagreed with me posting this as it gives information to terrorists. (He said allot of smart and valid stuff too!)

Let me make it clear:

  1. There is nothing in this post which a terrorist would not be aware of already.

Anal Analysis is the new Stonehenge

  • There are the hallowed gardens of faith that shall always remain sacred.
  • There are the murky ponds of history where the fish of fact swim midst the algal goo of falsehood and deception.
  • And then there is the world of what people really want and care about.

Googles new tool, Google Trends, has revealed a strange consonance in the cosmos of web searches that, frankly, makes all the hubba bubba and mystery about the Da Vinci Code + The Nazca Lines + Lord Lucan + American Democracy dwindle into insignificance.

anal analysis

The Anal Anlaysys Iconograhy of DOOM- realtime

1. Peru

2. Brazil

3. Argentina

4. Chile

5. Turkey

6. Portugal

7. Colombia

8. Mexico

9. Switzerland

10. Australia

As you can see from this enigmatic pictogram and associated histogram there are correlations and inversions which nothing can explain and less surprisingly people from South America are much much more curious about "anal" then the rest of us.

As a whole, the world is much more interested in "anal" than "analysis".

Sorry, this post started off as a more serious announcement about the new Google Trends but I got carried away. Its interesting to play with for like, 30 seconds.

Other trends of note:

  • There has been a decline in people searching for the English language's most offensive word.
  • The second most offensive word has shown a linear continuity over all.
  • There has been a exponential increase in the last 12 months in people searching for google, which is quite strange. Why the would anyone search for "google" in Google??? Actually that's stranger that the anal analysis thing, and I probably could have written a funnier post about that too. But I'm tired. Goodnight.

Attack Iraq with an IPAQ

In this interesting Washington Post artcile, there is a highlight of some of the flaws in electronic voting.

I have long thought that low cost/high security electronic voting's it’s the key to future democracy not only in the western world but in the third world.

E-Voting has to be open source. It has to be public reviewed. It has to be transparent at every stage, unlike in the article.

But enough about this…..

Imagine a device, like a ruggedised IPAQ.

  • It has a finger scanner.
  • It has a SD card.
  • It has GPRS/Wifi

I guess it would cost about 200 US in today's money to build.

These devices I will call a Portable Polling Station.

The PPS has one function, it will take a register an individual by their fingerpring and then allow them to vote on a candidate by their picture on the screen.

Once it has the vote it will encrypt the vote and the fingerprint hash and save that in memory, on the SD card as well as send it "home" over GRPS and, if in range, share it with any other PPCs by WIFI. The PPSs form a network of robust data sharing, the data being the votes.

  1. To a significant degree of certainty, people can only vote once. If someone tries to vote twice then the second vote wouldn’t be registered because of the finger print duplication.
  2. Whether used portably in the Tora Bora or in hard polling stations in Umbongo the PPS system has a coherence of polling results and tolerance for fraud that seems to far exceed paper based polling.
  3. Because just the hashes are registered there are no issues of voter security, the polls are still anonymous.

The system is rough. Trying to help democracy get a foot hold in tough places is rough.