The Dim-Post

October 31, 2013

For the lulz

Filed under: intelligence,technology — danylmc @ 8:26 am

I’ve been reading a book called We Are Anonymous, by Forbes journalist Parmy Olson. It’s about the Anonymous hacker collective and their various off-shoots, and one of the things that comes across in the book is that the majority of the hacks carried out by these groups were opportunistic attacks carried out ‘for shits and giggles’, that were retro-actively justified by citing causes like internet freedom.

And reading the recent NSA revelations I kinda get the same vibe. Did US intelligence really need to hack the cellphones of its closest allies, or steal data from the networks of its largest technology companies? The post-hoc justification is always 9/11: there are bad guys out there and the intelligence community is keeping us all safe from them. But I do wonder how big a role the techno-geek ethos of ‘Hey! Let’s hack the German chancellor’s cell-phone because we can!’, played in these decisions.

April 12, 2013

Whoah! What if all of existence is, like, one massive 3-D printout?

Filed under: general idiocy,technology — danylmc @ 9:46 am

Via Radio New Zealand:

Customs Minister Maurice Williamson says he is extremely worried about what 3D printers will do to border security.

Mr Williamson says the printers are actually manufacturers of products and 3D computer files can be emailed or downloaded from the internet.

He says household printers will soon be able to produce drugs and weapons, and the country’s borders are extremely vulnerable.

“If people could print off … sheets of Ecstasy tablets at the party they’re at at that time that just completely takes away our border protection role in its known sense.”

Mr Williamson says the printers will become as common as PCs and he has asked his officials to think hard about how to keep up with this kind of technology.

I’d have liked to have overheard the conversation between Williamson’s officials in the taxi-ride back to their Ministry.

January 22, 2013

Screen cap of the day, ironic region setting edition

Filed under: technology — danylmc @ 9:30 pm

Sent in by a reader; and sure, there are plenty of plausible reasons why the job search site for the NZ government is set to Australian Eastern Standard Time, but my favorite (not-that-unlikely) theory is that it’s been outsourced to an Aussie provider but staffed by ex-pat Kiwis.

Jobs crossing the ditch

Update: jobs.govt.nz HAS been outsourced to Australia! From the comments:

Extract of whois of jobs.govt.nz:
jobs.govt.nz IN A 210.193.133.120
120.133.193.210.in-addr.arpa IN PTR eyintra.recruitasp.com.au

Traceroute looks like Sydney. Therefore, outsourced.

Lucky outsourcer is RecruitASP, Privately held, 51-200 employees. No idea how many are kiwi expats.

October 5, 2012

A question for the level 3 boys

Filed under: technology — danylmc @ 5:21 am

The Herald reports:

Kim Dotcom’s internet connection was being diverted inside New Zealand weeks before the Government Communications Security Bureau says it started spying on him.

The Herald has obtained details showing Telecom engineers and staff at its technology services company Gen-I were investigating irregularities with his internet connection in November.

Information held by the Herald shows Gen-I studied data showing the amount of time it took information on the internet connection to reach the Xbox server. It went from 30 milliseconds to 180 milliseconds – a huge increase for online gamers.

The reason for the extra time emerged in a deeper inquiry, which saw a “Trace Route” search which tracks internet signals from their origin to their destinations. When the results were compared it showed the internet signal was being diverted inside New Zealand.

You can try this at home! Open a command prompt and type tracert http://www.google.com and press enter, and your computer will tell you all the different machines it passes through to get to google. (You can also try it at work, but your company probably won’t let you trace route through the firewall.)

Anyway, I’m not a fancy networking guy but this sounds a bit strange to me. Do you really need to divert someone’s traffic to monitor it?

Update: Anita points out in the comments that re-routing traffic is required for a man in the middle attack which could be used to decrypt Kim Dotcom’s encrypted messages.

October 2, 2012

Burning question of the day

Filed under: finance,Jews,philosophy,technology — danylmc @ 6:55 am

As most New Zealanders are aware, I make chicken stock using the carcasses of my roast chickens (along with various herbs and vegetables from the garden). Recently I’ve been adding in raw chicken necks (not from the garden) and I wonder if I should brown the chicken necks before I add them to the pot. What say you all?

July 31, 2012

On smartphones and distraction

Filed under: technology — danylmc @ 2:40 pm

A couple of months ago I bought myself a cheap Huawei smart-phone from Bond & Bond. It was my first smart-phone (I’m a late adopter) and I was impressed by the sophistication of such a low cost device.

I was impressed when the phone suddenly stopped working. I took it back to Bond & Bond, who charged me a $55 ‘repair bond’ and then called me a few days later to say that the phone somehow ‘had water in it’, was not repairable and they’d be keeping the $55.

So the lesson I’ve learned from this is that Bond & Bond see the name of their store as deeply ironic, and you shouldn’t shop there. But I also have a deeper point which is that in the three weeks since my phone died (I can’t afford to buy a new one) I’ve done more creative writing than I did during the three months I had the smart-phone. The ability to distract yourself on the internet whenever you’re bored is a fine thing, but my imagination seems to require a certain level of daily boredom to function properly.

Which is not to say I won’t replace my phone when I can afford it. They’re just too damn useful. But I will regulate its use to enforce a mandated amount of drudgery inspired daydreaming. So feel free to recommend good entry-price Android smart phones in the comments section.

April 14, 2011

More mealy-mouthed ambivalence

Filed under: media,technology — danylmc @ 1:21 pm

We all agree that the most important thing to get right when rebuilding Christchurch is to ensure that digital copyright holders can terminate the internet accounts of online copyright infringers, so to this end the government passed the The Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill last night under the urgency granted to pass the CERA legislation.

I generally agree with Scott over at Imperator Fish, who is an intellectual property lawyer AS WELL AS a blogger. (Is it possible for one human to be so qualified on a single subject?) Owners of copyright have a right to protect their property, this law doesn’t seem too terrible at achieving that.  I don’t agree with the concept that internet access is a ‘basic human right’. That’s absurd.

On the other hand, the main cause of, say, digital film piracy is the insane business model the film industry operates under. Consider the status quo: if you read about a movie that’s just been released overseas there is no practical way for you to pay to watch that movie legally until it comes to your town some weeks, or months, or sometimes years later. Then for a few weeks you can travel to your local movie theatre, queue to buy tickets and then queue to get in, then watch thirty minutes of ads and watch the movie. But if you want to watch it a few weeks later there is, once again, no legal way to do this. You have to wait for months, or years, for it to be released on DVD. Then you can rent or buy it, and watch it after sitting through various ads and copyright piracy notices. Or, at any given time during this process you can just download the movie illegally and watch it at home.

We need copyright and the rule of law and all that good stuff, but if an industry insists on following a business model so suicidally stupid it drives their customers to become criminals in order to obtain their products, the state shouldn’t exactly bend over backwards to help sustain that industry.

October 15, 2010

I’m not worried

Filed under: media,technology — danylmc @ 7:17 am

Via Stuff:

Justice Minister Simon Power has ordered a review into the ”wild west” of the internet, he announced today.

The Law Commission will examine the adequacy of regulations around how the internet interacts with the justice system.

Bloggers and online publishers are not subject to any form of regulation or professional or ethical standards, Mr Power told Parliament.

“I’ve ordered this review because it’s imperative the law keeps pace with technology and that we have one set of rules for all news media,” Mr Power said.

“At the moment we’ve got two tracks – conventional media and the so-called ‘new media’ – intersecting with the justice system, and it’s not sustainable.”

I guess the Law Commission will recommend we adopt one of those cheap, effective internet regulatory environments that other developed countries use.

August 2, 2010

On the secrecy of Wikileaks

Filed under: technology,us politics — danylmc @ 10:23 am

Daniel Ellsberg makes an interesting point in an Economist interview:

I would’ve thought that the National Security Agency could penetrate them and keep them from giving anonymity to leakers. We pay an awful lot to the NSA to spy on us—since 9/11—and on other people, and I supposed they were up to the task of denying secure communications to Wikileaks. But the administration’s surprise at these revelations indicates that Julian Assange is delivering to sources what he said he could—anonymity. And the reason that one person has been brought up on charges, Bradley Manning, is not due to any fault in the Wikileaks technology, but to Bradley Manning’s own choice to reveal himself to someone who in turn informed on him. So I hope that his being under charges won’t discourage other people from using the Wikileaks technology. I understand that Assange has offered, or plans to offer, this same technology or software to newspapers so that they can do Wikileaks’s job on a larger scale. And I hope they take advantage of that.

When you set up a government department with no oversight, no accountability and no objective outcomes to measure it by you get (a) the least competent organisation imaginable and (b) an intelligence agency.

July 27, 2010

Now i get it.

Filed under: technology — danylmc @ 5:38 pm

I was amused by this story in Wired in which a study revealed iPad owners were ‘selfish elites’ that ‘scored terribly in the areas of altruism and kindness’. My experience over the last few days is that iPad owners are people who can’t rationally explain why they own an iPad or what the device is for.

I went into a computer-shop at lunch-time and played around with one: I think I get it now. It replaces a laptop for most home entertainment and travelling purposes. If I didn’t have a computer at home (and wasn’t a gamer) I might buy an iPad and use it to organise music, look up maps, browse the net, order pizza and so on. If I still travelled a lot I might buy one and not carry a laptop for most trips because my books, music, work data and e-mail could be accessed through the iPad, which is a lot more convenient to use than a laptop.

I guess my iPad owning friends found this hard to communicate because they already had an iMac in their homes and travelled everywhere with their MacBook and/or their iPhone. I can see myself buying an iPad (or a similar product) in five or six years when the price comes down and and the technology improves. It seemed like a natural progression from the modern day laptop.

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