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Current Topic: Miscellaneous

Neil DeGrasse Tyson on What's Wrong with Congress
Topic: Miscellaneous 10:04 am EST, Jan 15, 2012

"Where's the rest of life?"


Neil DeGrasse Tyson on What's Wrong with Congress

The Rootkit Arsenal - Lost Chapter Now Available
Topic: Miscellaneous 10:44 pm EST, Jan  1, 2012

There are reasons why an open debate about the role of money in politics has been stymied. It goes without saying that a truly honest conversation about the formulation of public policy is bound to make the vast majority of elected officials uneasy. The relatively small group at the top of the income spectrum is in a position where they can exert their leverage, directly or indirectly, to muddy the water and silence dissent. In some cases the mere threat of reprisal is enough to quell voices of opposition.

The 1st edition of The Rootkit Arsenal, published back in the summer of 2009, included a short epilogue that raised questions about the underlying integrity of the political system in the United States. It used the metaphor of a malware infestation to discuss aspects of popular participation and means of control. In preparing the forthcoming 2nd edition, this material has been extended and explores territory that has just barely received attention from the major news outlets. Though the publisher has opted not to include this content, it has been made available here.

Passage from essay:

Having compromised a computer, an attacker can embed a rootkit deep inside of the machine's infrastructure and then leverage this foothold to manipulate a handful of key system constructs. The end result of this subtle manipulation is that the rootkit acquires a degree of covert influence. The external party can intercept sensitive information and control what happens while remaining concealed in the background, just like a black-clad stage handler in a Kabuki theater production. All it takes is the right kind of access and a detailed understanding of how things work.

Stepping back from the trees to view the forest, one might postulate that something similar has already taken place in the power structure of the United States. Does this metaphor carry over into the greater scheme of things? In other words, have our political institutions been rooted? Has the infrastructure silently been undermined by people who've acquired the access necessary to manipulate key components and implement their own agenda?

Pluralists would contend that this is not the case. They'd argue that true power in the United States has been constitutionally granted to "the people" through mechanisms like the electoral process, freedom of speech, and the ability to establish interest groups. The traditional view is that these aspects of our political system result in a broad distribution of power that prevents any one faction from gaining an inordinate amount of influence.

Direct link to PDF.

The Rootkit Arsenal - Lost Chapter Now Available

Namecheap raises $50k for EFF
Topic: Miscellaneous 11:03 pm EST, Dec 29, 2011

We did it! We raised over $25,000 for @EFF! We're going to match that so the total will be over $50,000! Thanks all for your support! :)

Glad I went with them and glad they hit their target. Will be interesting to hear the final tally tomorrow.

Funny that GoDaddy put out a press release saying their name is now removed from the list of supporters of SOPA:

"Go Daddy is no longer on the U.S. Congressional list of Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) supporters."

That with their press releases that say they do not support SOPA and PIPA and Bob Parsons Twitter post that GD is against SOPA plus this:


Go Daddy opposes SOPA because the legislation has not fulfilled its basic requirement to build a consensus among stake-holders in the technology and Internet communities. Our company regrets the loss of any of our customers, who remain our highest priority, and we hope to repair those relationships and win back their business over time.

-Go Daddy CEO Warren Adelman


I'd say there was an impact.

Now it's time to take the fight to your Congress critters.

Namecheap raises $50k for EFF

The coming war on general computation
Topic: Miscellaneous 11:14 pm EST, Dec 28, 2011

28th Chaos Communication Congress
Behind Enemy Lines
Speaker: Cory Doctorow

The coming war on general computation

The copyright war was just the beginning

The last 20 years of Internet policy have been dominated by the copyright war, but the war turns out only to have been a skirmish. The coming century will be dominated by war against the general purpose computer, and the stakes are the freedom, fortune and privacy of the entire human race.

The problem is twofold: first, there is no known general-purpose computer that can execute all the programs we can think of except the naughty ones; second, general-purpose computers have replaced every other device in our world. There are no airplanes, only computers that fly. There are no cars, only computers we sit in. There are no hearing aids, only computers we put in our ears. There are no 3D printers, only computers that drive peripherals. There are no radios, only computers with fast ADCs and DACs and phased-array antennas. Consequently anything you do to "secure" anything with a computer in it ends up undermining the capabilities and security of every other corner of modern human society.

And general purpose computers can cause harm -- whether it's printing out AR15 components, causing mid-air collisions, or snarling traffic. So the number of parties with legitimate grievances against computers are going to continue to multiply, as will the cries to regulate PCs.

The primary regulatory impulse is to use combinations of code-signing and other "trust" mechanisms to create computers that run programs that users can't inspect or terminate, that run without users' consent or knowledge, and that run even when users don't want them to.

The upshot: a world of ubiquitous malware, where everything we do to make things better only makes it worse, where the tools of liberation become tools of oppression.

Our duty and challenge is to devise systems for mitigating the harm of general purpose computing without recourse to spyware, first to keep ourselves safe, and second to keep computers safe from the regulatory impulse.

The coming war on general computation

Who's dumping Go Daddy to protest SOPA?
Topic: Miscellaneous 4:24 pm EST, Dec 28, 2011

Interesting angle:


I co-own a hosting company and domain name registration service -- a small one. Part of the reason Go Daddy supports SOPA is that it reduces the safe harbor we have been operating under related to content. This means companies in my field will have to have employees monitoring our customers content. Big companies like Go Daddy can afford to do this, but us small fish? Less so. Many small companies will go under, or be forced to raise prices. Which will be good for Go Daddy. That's why they support this, in my opinion.

Who's dumping Go Daddy to protest SOPA?

"Reverse robocall" campaign lets citizens phone-blast SOPA supporters
Topic: Miscellaneous 12:41 am EST, Dec 28, 2011

A Web-based civic action site is providing a way for people irate about the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) to voice their opinions in a very literal way. Reverse Robocall, a site set up by Shaun Dakin and Aaron Titus, allows users to record a message through the site and perform their own robocalls to politicians and lobbyists.

For a fee of $10, Reverse Robocall will let you record a message that will be delivered as a phone call to the offices of the co-sponsors of SOPA and each of the associations and lobbying groups that have backed the bill in Congress—88 in all. You can even customize the phone number that will appear in caller ID for the call in order to avoid being blocked by systems that reject calls without them. And, if you choose, you can let others listen into your message on the site and rate your effort.

They sell different products. $10 gets your message sent to 88 offices. $25 gets your message sent to everyone supporting SOPA and PIPA

I don't think you get any assurance that the messages are actually delivered other than what is listed under their "Our Responsibilities" section.

RE: Go Daddy loses over 37,000 domains due to SOPA stance | VentureBeat
Topic: Miscellaneous 1:01 pm EST, Dec 27, 2011

Decius wrote:

Hosting and domain registrar company Go Daddy has lost more than 37,000 domains in the past two days due to the company’s wishy-washy stance on the Stop Online Piracy Act.

GoDaddy has apparently dropped its support for SOPA, FWTW. Very little in my opinion. Reports are that they are calling customers who transfer to beg them to stay.

Its only been two days and its the holidays. Its going to take a while for this to fully work through. I certainly don't have time to switch right now and doing so is going to take several steps in order to ensure that nothing goes down.

I went with Namecheap, just submitted a transfer from Godaddy for my 10 domains. I used the discount code "SOPASUCKS" for a little money off.

If you move your domain on 12/29, they will also donate $1 to the EFF for each domain moved:

Namecheap's Move Your Domain Day Promotion

When the transfer completes I will completely cancel my Godaddy account and let them know why I switched.

Comcast is next. Haven't had time to switch home ISP yet but my current billing period ends mid January, I intend to be off of them by then.

It's time to stop giving the bastards your money if you can help it.

RE: Go Daddy loses over 37,000 domains due to SOPA stance | VentureBeat

Thinking out loud about SOPA
Topic: Miscellaneous 6:18 pm EST, Dec 23, 2011

Hypothetical situation 1:

1) Spammer sends email about an expensive watch for a great price, too good to be true
2) Recipient opens email and goes to site
3) Recipient buys a fake watch, purportedly thinking it is real

Hypothetical situation 2:

1) Customer wants to buy an expensive watch
2) Customer uses a search engine to do price shopping
3) Scam site shows up with a great price, too good to be true
4) Customer buys a fake watch, purportedly thinking it is real

What ever happened to "buyer beware?" SOPA's supporters say this bill is necessary to protect intellectual property and stop counterfeit sales over the internet. I don't buy the sob story. If you want a Rolex, go to their website, find an authorized dealer and buy it from that dealer. Otherwise, cry me a fucking river when you get ripped off. There's no reason to piss all over DNS to protect dumbass CONSUMERS from themselves.

SOPA reads like the internet's sole purpose is to be a marketplace for goods.

RE: GoDaddy Faces Boycott Over SOPA Support | Threat Level |
Topic: Miscellaneous 12:37 am EST, Dec 23, 2011

Decius wrote:

“Not only is there no First Amendment concern, but the notion that we should turn a blind eye to criminal conduct because other countries may take oppressive steps in response is an affront to the very fabric of this nation.”

I guess thats the final nail in the coffin - I've got to switch registrars.

I'll join you. Got any picks on a replacement?

edit: I'm liking the looks of easyDNS. They seem to be taking a principled stand against SOPA:

If this becomes law, it's a short stretch from SOPA to NODA (No Online Dissent Anywhere) and if you think I'm a nutcase for saying so, I'd like to remind everybody what happened just over a year ago, when US politicians were tripping over themselves to shut down wikileaks (a royal fiasco in which this company was embroiled) and to this day, they have not been charged with a crime anywhere.

Many of the "dirty tricks" employed against Wikileaks would be enshrined in law under SOPA (and someday, NODA):

A requirement that service providers block access to offending domains, including that they stop resolving their DNS
Search engines to purge search results for offending domains
Payment processors to sever ties to offending domains

And they added an extra provision that it will be an offense to knowingly create a service or system to provide a workaround to a banned domain or host. So for example, they would no longer have to hassle Mozilla to remove that firefox plugin that lets you reach ICE blocked websites, it would be illegal to make it or distribute it.

RE: GoDaddy Faces Boycott Over SOPA Support | Threat Level |

Topic: Miscellaneous 9:47 pm EST, Nov 25, 2011

Into the twittersphere!


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