Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


Rogue One Sequel already being filmed!

There’s some really interesting leaked photos and analysis by Charles Goodman. “Leaked photos from the Rogue One sequel (Mainly Speculation – Possible Spoilers).”


Gavle Lessons: 56% Is Not Sufficiently More Secure!

In September, we shared the news that for its 50th year, the people of Gävle paid an extra $100,000 to secure the goat. Sadly, it seems to have not helped. Today, the goat tweeted: Oh no, such a short amount of time with you my friends. The obvious lesson is that the Swedes have a […]


Mac Command Line: Turning Apps into Commands

I moved to MacOS X because it offers both a unix command line and graphical interfaces, and I almost exclusively use the command line as I switch between tasks. If you use a terminal and aren’t familiar with the open command, I urge you to take a look. I tend to open documents with open […]


Learning from Our Experience, Part Z

One of the themes of The New School of Information Security is how other fields learn from their experiences, and how information security’s culture of hiding our incidents prevents us from learning. Today I found yet another field where they are looking to learn from previous incidents and mistakes: zombies. From “The Zombie Survival Guide: […]


Gavle Goat, now 56% more secure!

“We’ll have more guards. We’re going to try to have a ‘goat guarantee’ the first weekend,” deputy council chief Helene Åkerlind, representing the local branch of the Liberal Party, told newspaper Gefle Dagblad. “It is really important that it stays standing in its 50th year,” she added to Arbetarbladet. Gävle Council has decided to allocate […]


Donald Trump Facts

“My father likes to keep some anonymity. It’s who he is. It’s who he is as a person,” Eric Trump said. It should have been obvious. (Quote from Washington Post, July 6, 2016).


Security Blogger Awards

Voting for the 2016 Security Blogger Awards are now open, and this blog is nominated for most entertaining. Please don’t vote for us. Along with our sister blog, we’re aiming to dominate a new category next year, “most nominations without a win.”


"The Pentesters Strike Back"

Offered up without comment: Star Wars Episode IV.1.d: The Pentesters Strike Back from CyberPoint International on Vimeo.


On Language

I was irked to see a tweet “Learned a new word! Pseudoarboricity: the number of pseudoforests needed to cover a graph. Yes, it is actually a word and so is pseudoforest.” The idea that some letter combinations are “actual words” implies that others are “not actual words,” and thus, that there is some authority who […]


Color-Changing Cats

Looking for something festive, holiday-like and chaotic for the blog, I came across color-changing cats. The history of color-changing cats is a fascinating one, involving Carl Sagan and accurate predictions of unfathomable chaos over the next ten thousand years. Because while we don’t know what life will be like that far in the future, consider […]


Threat modeling the Dread Pirate Roberts way

It has to be said that no one in the Princess Bride is great at threat modeling. But one scene in particular stands out. It’s while they’re planning to attack the castle and rescue Buttercup: Westley: I mean, if we only had a wheelbarrow, that would be something. Inigo: Where we did we put that […]


P0wned! Don't make the same mistake I did

I fell victim to an interesting attack, which I am recounting here so that others may avoid it. In a nutshell, I fell victim to a trojan, which the malefactor was able to place in a trusted location in my search path. A wrapper obscured the malicious payload. Additionally, a second line of defense did […]


Gavle Goat Goes Later This Year

The Gavle Goat has burned again, according to The Local.Se, and of course, it’s Twitter account (yet one more way in which real name policies inhibit natural behavior). Two quick comments. First, the goat survived longer this year than usual. Second, I think it illustrates something. I’m not sure what. But my yule would be […]


Security Lessons From Star Wars: Breach Response

To celebrate Star Wars Day, I want to talk about the central information security failure that drives Episode IV: the theft of the plans. First, we’re talking about really persistent threats. Not like this persistence, but the “many Bothans died to bring us this information” sort of persistence. Until members of Comment Crew are going […]


The best part of exploit kits

Following up on my post on exploit kit statistics (no data? really folks?), I wanted to share a bit of a head-shaker for a Friday with way too much serious stuff going on. Sometimes, researchers obscure all the information, such as this screenshot. I have no idea who these folks think they’re protecting by destroying […]


The Death Star: An Inside Job?

Here’s a Friday Star Wars video for you. As Austin Hill tweeted, “Conspiracy revealed! 7 min video that will change the way you think about one of the important events of our lifetime”


Is there "Room for Debate?" in Breach Disclosure?

The New York Times has a “Room for Debate” on “Should Companies Tell Us When They Get Hacked?” It currently has 4 entries, 3 of which are dramatically in favor of more disclosure. I’m personally fond of Lee Tien’s “ We Need Better Notification Laws.” My personal preference is of course (ahem) fascinating to you, […]


Why the Star Wars Prequels Sucked

It is a truism that the Star Wars prequels sucked. (Elsewhere, I’ve commented that the franchise being sold to Disney means someone can finally tell the tragic story of Anakin Skywalker’s seduction by the dark side.) But the issue of exactly why they sucked is complex and layered, and most of us prefer not to […]


Giant Rubber Ducks

There’s a giant rubber duck in Sydney Harbor right now: It’s apparently by Florentijn Hofman, who does this sort of thing. My only other comment? Seattle, you’re doing it wrong. Where’s our rubber duckie? Via “Sydney Festival Launches Giant Rubber Duck in the Harbor“, Pedestrian TV. (I believe there’s a typo, and the duck is […]


Elevation of Privilege: Drawing Developers into Threat Modeling

In the holiday spirit I wanted to share an academic-style paper on the Elevation of Privilege Threat Modeling card game (EoP_Whitepaper.pdf) The paper describes the motivation, experience and lessons learned in creating the game. As we’ve shared the game at conferences, we’ve seen people’s eyes light up at the idea of a game. We think […]


The Gavle Goat's Gone!

Gävlebocken har brunnit: Webbkamerabilder visade hur bocken snabbt blev övertänd och totalförstördes innan brandkåren hann fram. Or you can check the webcam:


The Gavle Goat is Getting Ready to Burn!

The Telegraph reports that the Gavle Goat for 2012 is up, and surrounded by guards, cameras, flame retardants, and arsonists. Emergent Chaos has reporters on the ground internet, ready to report on this holiday story of a town, a goat, and an international conspiracy of drunken arsonists. Stay tuned! This years goat is shown in […]


Control-Alt-Hack: Now available from Amazon!

Amazon now has copies of Control Alt Hack, the card game that I helped Tammy Denning and Yoshi Kohno create. Complimentary copies for academics and those who won copies at Blackhat are en route. From the website: Control-Alt-Hack™ is a tabletop card game about white hat hacking, based on game mechanics by gaming powerhouse Steve […]


Now Available: Control Alt Hack!

Amazon now has copies of Control Alt Hack, the card game that I helped Tammy Denning and Yoshi Kohno create. Complimentary copies for academics and those who won copies at Blackhat are en route. From the website: Control-Alt-Hack™ is a tabletop card game about white hat hacking, based on game mechanics by gaming powerhouse Steve […]


Where is Information Security's Nate Silver?

So by now everyone knows that Nate Silver predicted 50 out of 50 states in the 2012 election. Michael Cosentino has a great picture: Actually, he was one of many quants who predicted what was going to happen via meta-analysis of the data that was available. So here’s my question. Who’s making testable predictions of […]


TSA Approach to Threat Modeling, Part 3

It’s often said that the TSA’s approach to threat modeling is to just prevent yesterday’s threats. Well, on Friday it came out that: So, here you see my flight information for my United flight from PHX to EWR. It is my understanding that this is similar to digital boarding passes issued by all U.S. Airlines; […]


Big Tex Burns

Something about this story just grabs me. I want to hear him saying “I am the dread pirate Roberts! I am here, but soon you will not be here!” Also, I’m sad that he wasn’t in Galve-ston. Photo by GreyChr


Choice Point Screening

Stamford Police said Jevene Wright, 29, created a fictitious company called “Choice Point Screening” and submitted false invoices for background checks that were submitted to Noble Americas Corporation, an energy retailer firm located in Stamford. (Patrick Barnard, “The Stamford (CT) Patch“) I don’t want to minimize the issue here. Assuming the allegations are correct, the […]


The Very Model of An Amateur Grammarian

I am the very model of an amateur grammarian I have a little knowledge and I am authoritarian But I make no apology for being doctrinarian We must not plummet to the verbal depths of the barbarian I’d sooner break my heart in two than sunder an infinitive And I’d disown my closest family within […]


The Problem With Pollution

National Geographic reports “Caffeinated Seas Found off U.S. Pacific Northwest.” The problem, of course, is salinity. They should totally be pumping that caffine into somewhere we can make good use of it.


Chaos Emerges from Demanding Facebook Passwords

On the off chance that you’ve been hiding under a rock, there’s been a stack of news stories about organizations (both private and governmental) demanding people’s Facebook passwords as part of the process of applying for jobs, with much associated hand-wringing. In “I hereby Resign“, Raganwald discusses the downside to employers of demanding to look […]


Stop sinning with complaints about the coffee budget

Someone respected wrote on a private mailing list: “If you spend more on coffee than on IT security, then you will be hacked. What’s more, you deserve to be hacked.” — Richard Clarke, keynote address, RSA 2002 To which, verily I say: Doom! Doom! You commit the sin of false comparison! You have angered Furlongeous, […]


Have You Seen The Little Piggies?

Apparently, the project manager who found a vendor for the Vermont State Police car decals failed to consider a few things. Such as the risk that prisoners might want to have a little fun at the expense of the police. You can see the fun if you study the image carefully here, or in a […]


The Irony Overfloweth

@RobArnold tweeted: “Someone thinks targeted Facebook ads are an effective way to ask for Firefox features. Any other Mozillians see this?” The irony of using a targeted ad, on Facebook, to ask for more privacy protection…


Cello Wars

For your holiday amusement: Thanks, Jeff!


Particularly NewSchool Job Posting

From Keith Weinbaum, Director of Information Security of Quicken Loans Inc. From the job posting: WARNING:  If you believe in implementing security only for the sake of security or only for the sake of checking a box, then this is not the job for you.  ALSO, if your primary method of justifying security solutions […]


Gävle Goat Gambit Goes Astray

It’s a bit of a Christmas tradition here at Emergent Chaos to keep you informed about the Gävle Goat. Ok, technically, our traditions seem hit and miss, but whaddaya want from a site with Chaos in the name? You want precision, read a project management blog. Project management blogs probably set calendar reminders to kick […]


Tap Tap Snarky

From the app store: I hope this doesn’t cause Apple to ban snarky update messages.


Worst.Technology.Application.Ever. (?)

It’s occurring to me this morning that in terms of benefit/cost, purely in “damage to society” terms, the decision to put html in emails could be one of the worst ideas in the past 25 years. But that’s just me.  Your thoughts on others in the comments?


Are Lulz our best practice?

Over at, Patrick Grey has an entertaining and thought-provoking article, “Why we secretly love LulzSec:” LulzSec is running around pummelling some of the world’s most powerful organisations into the ground… for laughs! For lulz! For shits and giggles! Surely that tells you what you need to know about computer security: there isn’t any. And […]


The Flying Spaghetti Monster

In honor of rapture day, the Flying Spaghetti Monster has chosen to manifest his tentacly goodness in Stanley Park in Vancouver:


What's the PIN, Kenneth?

There’s a story in the New York Times, “To Get In, Push Buttons, or Maybe Swipe a Magnet” which makes interesting allusions to the meaning of fair trade in locks, implied warranties and the need for empiricism in security: In court filings, Kaba argued that it had “never advertised or warranted in any way that […]


Bureaucracy in inaction

Back in September, a group of Czech artists called EPOS 257 camouflaged themselves as city-workers, went to the Palackeho square in Prague and installed a fence. The fence was left on the square with no apparent intent or explanation. At first, the city council didn’t know about it, and when there were told, they didn’t […]


Emergent Chaos has TSA "trolls," too

Over at We Won’t Fly, George Donnelly writes: I was about to delete an offensive comment on this blog – one of the very few we get – and thought, hmm, I wonder where this guy is posting from? Because, really, it is quite unusual for us to get nasty comments. Lo and behold, the […]


Nate Silver in the NYT: A Bayesian Look at Assange

From The Fine Article: Under these circumstances, then, it becomes more likely that the charges are indeed weak (or false) ones made to seem as though they are strong. Conversely, if there were no political motivation, then the merits of the charges would be more closely related to authorities’ zealousness in pursing them, and we […]


Can't measure love

But you can still evaluate the quality of the effort Likewise, there’s a lot that you can’t measure about security and risk, but you can still infer something from how the effort is pursued.


"Proof" that E-Passports Lead to ID Theft

A couple of things caught Stuart Schechter’s eye about the spam to which this image was attached, but what jumped out at me was the name on the criminal’s passport: Frank Moss, former deputy assistant secretary of state for passport services, now of Identity Matters, LLC. And poor Frank was working so hard to claim […]


Lazy Sunday, Lazy Linking

Hey, remember when blogging was new and people would sometimes post links instead of making “the $variable Daily” out of tweets?  Well even though I’m newschool with the security doesn’t mean I can’t kick it oldschool every so often.  So here are some links I thought you might enjoy, probably worth discussion and review even […]


Ambrose Bierce Punks Richard Feynman

Via Boing Boing, where Maggie Koerth-Baker gave a delightful pointer to this film of Feynman explaining for seven-and-a-half minutes why he can’t really explain why magnets repel each other. Or attract, either. And trumping him in time and space, Bierce gave us this in 1906: MAGNET, n. Something acted upon by magnetism. MAGNETISM, n. Something […]


"My little piece of privacy"

Very entertaining video: I love it because curtains are privacy people will pay for, but even more, because, ironically for a privacy-enhancing technology, it generates more attention than not using it.


Don't fight the zeitgeist, CRISC Edition

Some guy recently posted a strangely self-defeating link/troll/flame in an attempt to (I think) argue with Alex and/or myself regarding the relevance or lack thereof of ISACA’s CRISC certification.  Now given that I think he might have been doing it to drive traffic to his CRISC training site, I won’t show him any link love […]


Friday WTF?

CSO Online has an article based on an unlinked Forrester study that claims: The survey of 2,803 IT decision-makers worldwide found improving business continuity and disaster recovery capabilities is the number one priority for small and medium businesses and the second highest priority for enterprises. (emphasis mine). The WTF Pie Chart Says:


Making it up so you don't have to

If you don’t have time to develop a data-driven, business focused security strategy, we sympathize. It’s a lot of hard work. So here to help you is “What the fuck is my information security ‘strategy?’ “: Thanks, N!


Jon Callas on Comedies, Tragedy and PKI

Prompted by Peter Gutmann: [0] I’ve never understood why this is a comedy of errors, it seems more like a tragedy of errors to me. Jon Callas of PGP fame wrote the following for the cryptography mail list, which I’m posting in full with his permission: That is because a tragedy involves someone dying. Strictly […]


New low in pie charts

It’s not just a 3d pie chart with lighting effects and reflection. Those are common. This one has been squished. It’s wider than it is tall. While I’m looking closely, isn’t “input validation” a superset of “buffer errors” “code injection” and “command injection?” You can get the “Application Security Trends report for Q1-Q2 2010” from […]


Survey Results

First, thanks to everyone who took the unscientific, perhaps poorly worded survey. I appreciate you taking time to help out.  I especially appreciate the feedback from the person who took the time to write in: “Learn the proper definition of “Control Systems” as in, Distributed Control Systems or Industrial Control systems. These are the places […]


Measuring The Speed of Light Using Your Microwave

Using a dish full of marshmallows.  We’re doing this with my oldest kids, and while I was reading up on it, I had to laugh out loud at the following: …now you have what you need to measure the speed of light. You just need to know a very fundamental equation of physics: Speed of […]


Redesign BP's Logo

I like this one a lot. Go vote for your favorite at BP Logo Redesign contest.


Evil Clown Stalking for your Birthday?

Dominic Deville stalks young victims for a week, sending chilling texts, making prank phone calls and setting traps in letterboxes. He posts notes warning children they are being watched, telling them they will be attacked. But Deville is not an escaped lunatic or some demonic monster. He is a birthday treat, hired by mum and […]


Friday Visualization: Wal-mart edition

I’ve seen some cool Walmart visualizations before, and this one at FlowingData is no exception. The one thing I wondered about as I watched was if it captured store closings–despite the seemingly inevitable march in the visualization, there have been more than a few.


Kids today

A burglar who spent about five hours on a store’s computer after breaking into the business gave police all the clues they needed to track him down. Investigators said the 17-year-old logged into his MySpace account while at Bella Office Furniture and that made it easy for them to find him. He also spent time […]


Elevation of Privilege: The Threat Modeling Game

In my work blog: “Announcing Elevation of Privilege: The Threat Modeling Game.” After RSA, I’ll have more to say about how it came about, how it helps you and how very new school it is. But if you’re here, you should come get a deck at the Microsoft booth (1500 row).


Elevation of Privilege: the Threat Modeling Game

In my work blog: “Announcing Elevation of Privilege: The Threat Modeling Game.” After RSA, I’ll have more to say about how it came about, how it helps you and how it helps more chaos emerge. But if you’re here, you should come get a deck at the Microsoft booth (1500 row).


In the "Nothing to Add" department

Nasty psychiatrissstss! Hates them, my precious! They locks uss up in padded cell! They makes uss look at inkblotsss! Tricksy, sly inkblotsss! Nasty Elvish pills burnsss our throat! … Yesss We Hatesss themsss Evil oness yess my preciousss we hatess themsss But They Helpsss us! No they hurtsss usss, hurtsss usss sore! NCBI ROFL: Did […]


Happy Valentine's Day!

They say that Y equals m-x plus b (well, when you remove the uncertainty). So let me reveal a secret confession: You’re the solution to my least squares obsession. stolen from the applied statistics blog


Best Practices for Defeating the term “Best Practices”

I don’t like the term “Best Practices.” Andrew and I railed against it in the book (pages 36-38). I’ve made comments like “torture is a best practice,” “New best practice: think” and Alex has asked “Are Security “Best Practices” Unethical?“ But people keep using it. Worse, my co-workers are now using it just to watch […]


My Sweet Lord, this is a Melancholy story

There’s an elephant of a story over at the New York Times, “Musician Apologizes for Advertising Track That Upset the White Stripes.” It’s all about this guy who wrote a song that ended up sounding an awful lot like a song that this other guy had written. And how this other guy (that being Mr. […]


Security Blogger Awards

We’re honored to be nominated for “Most Entertaining Security Blog” at this years “2010 Social Security Blogger Awards.” Now, in a fair fight, we have no hope against Hoff’s BJJ, Mike Rothman’s incitefulness, Jack Daniel’s cynicism, or Erin’s sociability. But, really, there’s no reason for this to be a fair fight. So we’re asking our […]


'Don't Ask, Don't Tell in Davos' — Act 3 in the Google-China affair

There is no better illustration of the institutional and social taboos surrounding data breach reporting and information security in general than the Google-Adobe-China affair. While the Big Thinkers at the World Economic Forum discussed every other idea under the sun, this one was taboo.


The Face of FUD

A vivid image of Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (FUD), from an email promotion by NetWitness.


Wondering about Phenomenon

Yesterday, Russell posted in our amusements category about the avoidance of data sharing. He gives an anecdote about “you,” presumably a security professional, talking to executives about sharing security information. I’d like to offer an alternate anecdote. Executive: “So we got the audit report in, and it doesn’t look great. I was talking to some […]


The Spectacle of Street View

Street with a View is an art project in Google Street View, with a variety of scenes enacted for the camera, either to be discovered in Street View, or discovered via the project web site. via David Fraser.


76% Organic

The back does explain that it’s 76% organic petite sirah, and 24% non-organic grapes. I just thought it was a pretty funny thing to put on the front label, and wonder which consumers are going to be more likely to buy it, knowing that it’s 76% organic.


Brian W Kernighan & Dennis M Ritchie & HP Lovecraft

I never heard of C Recursion till the day before I saw it for the first and– so far– last time. They told me the steam train was the thing to take to Arkham; and it was only at the station ticket-office, when I demurred at the high fare, that I learned about C Recursion. […]


Burning News: Gavle Goat

USA Today informs us that: Despite surveillance cameras and heavy security, vandals in a small Swedish town have burned down a giant Yuletide straw goat for the 24th time since 1966, the Associated Press reports. Here at Emergent Chaos, we’re deeply concerned that the goat ended up with neither privacy nor even temporary safety. Photo: […]


Biggest Breach Ever

Precision blogging gets the scoop: You’re probably talking about this terrible security disaster already: the largest database leak ever. Arweena, a spokes-elf for Santa Claus, admitted a few hours ago that the database posted at WikiLeaks yesterday is indeed the comprehensive 2009 list of which kids have been naughty, and which were nice. The source […]


All in the Presentation

America’s Finest News Source teaches an excellent lesson on how to spin data: Labor Dept: Available Labor Rate Increases To 10.2% WASHINGTON—In what is being touted by the Labor Department as extremely positive news, the nation’s available labor rate has reached double digits for the first time in 26 years, bringing the total number of […]


A sociologist reads a Twitter feed

So, Adam retweets a hysterical reference to a viral email about an absolute genius of a Xmas light display made to look like an accident with a ladder, and the hapless homeowner left hanging from the gutter of his house. The email explains that the display was taken down after two days in large part […]


Dilbert On Reusable Code

A while back I wrote an article on reusable code for ThreatPost. Today’s Dilbert, has an alternate, equally useful take on reusable code.


Miscommunicating risks to teenagers

A lesson in miscommunication of risk from “abstinence only” sex education aimed at teenagers. The educators emphasize the failure rate of condoms, but never mention the failure rate of abstinence-only policies when implemented by teenagers.


The Conch Republic

Apparently, in a sovereign-in-cheeck move, the the Florida Keys have withdrawn from the United States, and declared themselves to be “The Conch Republic.” Their motto is “We seceded where others failed.” Perhaps you haven’t heard of them because they make all the good jokes, making writing about them hard. I heard about them because of […]


RSnakes On A Plane

or why RSnake will never be allowed to play video blackjat or poker at Blackhat ever again. Rsnake’s exploits with the game system on a recent flight are a fabulous read. Makes me wonder just how integrated these systems are with the regular flight systems though. Btw, RSnake, I expect a demo as part of […]


Another good metaphor, killed by science

Wired has a First Look: Dyson’s Blade-Free Wonder Fan Blows Our Minds: Future generations will have no idea why the shit hitting the fan is any worse than it hitting anything else.


Metrics Abused

Statistically speaking, 6 out of 7 dwarves are not happy. [via zem42]


Metrics: 50% Chance of Injury by Biscuit

The Telegraph reports: More than half of all Britons have been injured by biscuits ranging from scalding from hot tea or coffee while dunking or breaking a tooth eating during a morning tea break, a survey has revealed. Who knew that cookies could be so dangerous? So forget worrying about AV or even seat belts, […]


Renaming the Blog to Emergent Chaos (II)

A little more seriously, the identity of a blog is constructed between the authors, commenters and readers, and I’m continually amazed by what emerges here. At the same time, what’s emerging is currently not very chaotic, and I’m wondering if it’s time for some mixing it up. Suggestions welcome.


Renaming the blog to Emergent Chaos (I)

In 2007, Artist Kristin Sue Lucas went before a judge to get a name change to…Kristin Sue Lucas. She’s put together a show called “Refresh” and one called “Before and After.” My favorite part is where the judge wrestles with the question “what happens when you change a thing to itself:” JR: And I don’t […]


What's in a name?

Brian Jones Tamanaha has an interesting post about our database-driven society. The core of it is that English is bad at recording some names. The solution? Force people to change their official names for the convenience of the database: During public hearings on the voter identification legislation in the House, state Rep. Betty Brown, R-Terrell, […]


Television, Explained

So I’m not sure if Michael Pollan’s “Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch” is supposed to be a movie review, but it’s definitely worth reading if you think about what you eat. I really like this line: The historical drift of cooking programs — from a genuine interest in producing food yourself to the […]


Is Barack Obama an American Citizen?

It might seem, to the average person, that the “Birthers” must have a tough time proving their case. After all, Barack Obama has released his Certification of Live Birth (pictured above), which meets all the requirements for proving one’s citizenship to the State Department. The authenticity of the certificate has been verified by Hawaii state […]


Penetration testing your products

It was built to be impenetrable, from its “super rugged transparent polycarbonate housing” to its intricate double-tabbed lid… Just go read the story. Anything else I say will spoil the punchline.


Kindle Brouhaha Isn't About DRM

In case you haven’t heard about it, there is a brouhaha about Amazon un-selling copies of two Orwell books, 1984 and Animal Farm. There has been much hand-wringing, particularly since it’s deliciously amusing that that it’s Orwell. The root cause of the issue is that the version of the Orwell novels available on the Kindle […]


Wells Fargo vs Wells Fargo

You can’t expect a bank that is dumb enough to sue itself to know why it is suing itself. Yet I could not resist asking Wells Fargo Bank NA why it filed a civil complaint against itself in a mortgage foreclosure case in Hillsborough County, Fla. “Due to state foreclosure laws, lenders are obligated to […]


The Punch Line Goes at the End

The Black Hat conference in Las Vegas always has its share of drama. This year, it’s happened a month before the conference opens. The researcher Barnaby Jack had to cancel his talk. gives an account of this; his talk was to make an Automated Teller Machine spit out a “jackpot” of cash, in the […]


Bialystock Triumphs in Berlin

The crowd for the premiere seemed pleased. It wasn’t your typical Broadway musical audience, to judge from the number of smart-looking young people with interesting haircuts. A “lively counterpoint to Hollywood productions like ‘Valkyrie’ and ‘Defiance,’ with their impeccable Resistance heroes and clichés,” decided the reviewer for Spiegel Online. “The New York triumph was repeated […]


Amusements with Alpha

I just saw a link to someone who had broken Wolfram Alpha. Their breaking question was, “when is 5 trillion days from now?” The broken result is: {DateString[{13689537044,5,13,16,57,18.5796},Hour12Short],:,DateString[{13689537044,5,13,16,57,18.5796},Minute],:,DateString[{13689537044,5,13,16,57,18.5796},Second], ,DateString[{13689537044,5,13,16,57,18.5796},AMPMLowerCase]} | {DateString[{13689537044,5,13,16,57,18.5796},DayName],, ,DateString[{13689537044,5,13,16,57,18.5796},MonthName], ,DateString[{13689537044,5,13,16,57,18.5796},DayShort],, ,13689537044} Which is certainly amusing. A quick check shows that even one trillion days gives a similar error. A bit of the […]


My Wolfram Alpha Demo

I got the opportunity a couple days ago to get a demo of Wolfram Alpha from Stephen Wolfram himself. It’s an impressive thing, and I can sympathize a bit with them on the overblown publicity. Wolfram said that they didn’t expect the press reaction, which I both empathize with and cast a raised eyebrow at. […]


Covering the Verizon Breach Report

As you probably know by now, the pattern of 1s and 0s on the cover of the 2009 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report contains a hidden message. I decided to give it a whirl and eventually figured it out. No doubt plenty of people managed to beat me to it, as evidenced by the fact […]


Little Bobby Drop tables

In 1999 Syse Data was converted to a limited liability company, and has since been trading under the name Syse Data AS[1]. As the names are so similar, searches for our company in the official Norwegian registry of just-about-anything (Brønnøysundregistrene) often resulted in potential customers looking up the wrong company. To prevent this confusion we […]


Dept. of Pre-Blogging: Swine Flu edition

In no particular order, your friendly neighborhood Dept. of Pre-blogging hereby predictively reports on: Increased speculation, coupled with a spike in Twitter activity. Politicization of the event from the Right (blame Mexico and/or Big Government), the Left (if we spent money in the right places, this would not happen), and out in left field (this […]


Statebook and Database State

So while Statebook is a pretty entertaining demo, “Database State” is a disturbing look at how real the underlying data collection is in the U.K. Via Boingboing.


New Billboards for the UK

Make your own at I was gonna wait for the weekend, but…via @alecmuffet


Flinging Money Around Never Works

Freeway Drivers Grab Money as Suspects Toss Thousands During Police Chase:” Thousands of dollars worth of hundred dollar bills brought rush hour to an abrupt halt on two San Diego freeways. Drug suspects tossed the money from their car as they were chased by police. Other drivers saw the money and stopped their cars on […]


Twitter + Cats = Awesome

My smart friend James Thomson of TLA Systems has created a new benchmark in iPhone applications, Twitkitteh. Not only is it the first Twitter client for cats, but it might also be the first iPhone app for cats, as well. I’ve always accused my cats of playing the stereo when I’m not there, and it […]


What you talkin' 'bout?

The 110-story Sears Tower, tallest office building in the Western Hemisphere, will be renamed the Willis Tower, global insurance broker Willis Group Holdings said on Thursday. Willis said it was leasing multiple floors in the 1,451-foot (442-meter) structure in downtown Chicago to consolidate offices. As part of the deal, it will become the Willis Tower […]


Leia With a Pearl Earring

This and other less subtle Star Wars/classical art mashups are at Star Wars as Classic Art. (Originally.) Thanks, Stepto!


Synthetic Identity "Theft" – The Mysterious Case of Prawo Jazdy

The BBC tells the tale of a Polish immigrant flouting traffic regulations across the emerald isle: He had been wanted from counties Cork to Cavan after racking up scores of speeding tickets and parking fines. However, each time the serial offender was stopped he managed to evade justice by giving a different address. As it […]


Let’s Fix Paste!

Okay, this is a rant. Cut and paste is broken in most apps today. More specifically, it is paste that is broken. There are two choices in just about every application: “Paste” and “Paste correctly.” Sometimes the latter one is labeled “Paste and Match Style” (Apple) and sometimes “Paste Special” (Microsoft). However, they have it […]


Daily Show on Privacy

(h/t to Concurring Opinions) The Daily Show With Jon StewartM – Th 11p / 10c Bill O’Reilly’s Right to Privacy Daily Show Full EpisodesImportant Things With Demetri Martin Funny Political NewsJoke of the Day


But is it art?

Jackson [Update: Click the picture. It’s only funny if you click the picture with Flash enabled. The site requires Flash.]


President for Ten Minutes

During a chat I had this afternoon, someone brought up an interesting situation to contemplate. The Presidency of George Bush fils ended today at noon EST, but Mr. Obama wasn’t sworn in until 12:10. Who then, the question was, President during those ten minutes. One mildly unsatisfactory answer is Ms. Pelosi. If there is neither […]


Strange Maps

All from the Strange Maps blog. You could click on the pictures, but this blog is perfect Saturday afternoon “hey look at this” material.


Happy Newton, everyone!

In honor of Newton’s Birthday festival, I therefore propose the following song, to be sung to the tune of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” For brevity, I include only the final verse. All together now! On the tenth day of Newton, My true love gave to me, Ten drops of genius, Nine silver co-oins, Eight […]


Gavle Goat Gone

The Gavle goat survived until the 27th this year, but as the BBC reports, “ Festive goat up in flames again.” Previously: “Goat Security,” “13 Meter Straw Goat Met His Match.”


This is the farewell shoe, you dog

Bloomberg is reporting that “Shoe Hurled at Bush Flies Off Turkish Maker’s Shelves : Baydan has received orders for 300,000 pairs of the shoes since the attack, more than four times the number his company sold each year since the model was introduced in 1999. The company plans to employ 100 more staff to meet […]


Evidence of Time Travel Found in China

According to Ananova, a Swiss watch-ring has been found covered in dirt in a four-hundred year old Ming dynasty tomb. The watch was found, covered in dirt. It was stopped at the time 10:06 and has the word, “Swiss” engraved on the back. The archaeologists on the dig have requested archaeologists from Beijing to help […]


As easy as dialing a phone

People often make the claim that something is “as intuitive as dialing the phone.” As I was listening to “Dave Birch interviewing Ben Laurie,” I was reminded of this 1927 silent film: Ben commented on people having difficulty with the CardSpace user interface, and it not being as intuitive as having your email address being […]


Tidying up Art

In “Tidying up Art” Ursus Wehrli tells the TED audience about not only how to tidy up art, but has a great example of how apparently simple instructions can very quickly lead chaos to emerge. And it’s pretty darn funny after the audience doesn’t know how to respond to his first couple of jokes.


Actually, Randall, We Tried That

And the reason it doesn’t work is that just because you’re allowed to own something doesn’t mean you’re allowed to export it. The use, ownership, production, etc. of crypto was never restricted, only its export. In an Intenet-enabled world, export control brings lots of hair with it, which is why it was important to fight […]


Chaos, My Desk and Dilbert

The Wall St Journal covers the latest management fad in “Neatness Counts at Kyocera and at Others in the 5S Club:” 5S is a key concept of the lean manufacturing techniques that have made makers of everything from cars to candy bars more efficient. The S’s stand for sort, straighten, shine, standardize and sustain. Lately, […]


It was twenty years ago today

It was twenty years ago today Sgt. Morris taught the worms to play They’ve been going in and out of style But they’re guaranteed to last a while So may I introduce to you… the bug you’ve known for all these years Sgt. Morris Lonely worm club band We’re Sgt. Morris’ lonely worm club band, […]


Ridiculing the Ridiculous: Terrorist Tweets

A group of soldiers with the US Army’s 304th Military Intelligence Battalion have managed to top previous military research on terrorist use of World of Warcraft. Realizing that mentioning the word “terrorist” can allow researchers to acquire funding to play the popular MMOG, they turned attention to the popular, if architecturally unscalable micro-blogging system, Twitter. […]


Insecurity Theatre

“It’s been in the back of my mind since you first came in: How do you get the missile on the trailer into Manhattan?” federal Judge William Pauley III asked. Sachs, from West Babylon, said cops just laughed as he passed through the Queens Midtown Tunnel on his way into the city Sept. 8. Sachs […]


Discipline and Art

Stephan Bugaj has a fascinating article up, “Steve Kurtz: Tactical Art.” I wanted to tie this to my post “The Discipline of ‘think like an attacker’” Kurtz only briefly mentioned his four year ordeal with the Department of Justice (this is also a good article about it), and only as a single exemplar of his […]


Identity Manglement

It was Dopplr that drove me over the edge on this rant. I almost feel bad for starting off with them, because as you will see, they’re just the bale of hay that broke the camel’s back. I was updating my travel schedule, which included a trip to St. Louis. It told me that by […]


What’s in a name? A Candidate by any other name…

For those who haven’t been listening closely to their NPR, it turns out that there are at least eight Barack Obamas running for election in Brazil this year. Yes, you heard that right. Under Brazilian law, it turns out, candidates are allowed to run for office under any name, as long as it’s not offensive. […]


TSA Badges

9Wants to Know has uncovered a new policy that allows airport screeners at Denver International Airport to bypass the same security screening checkpoints that passengers have to go through. … The new policy says screeners can arrive for work and walk behind security lines without any of their belongings examined or X-rayed. … At DIA, […]


Avast there!

You might not be able to think like one, but today you should certainly talk like a pirate. Yo ho ho, shiver me timbers, etc. etc. Image credit: charliekwalker


Things only An Astrologist Could Believe

There’s a really funny post on a blog titled “Affordable Indian Astrology & Vedic Horoscope Provider:” Such a choice of excellent Muhurta with Chrome release time may be coincidental, but it makes us strongly believe that Google may not have hesitated to utilize the valuable knowledge available in Vedic Astrology in decision making. This is […]


The Hazards of Not Using RFC 1918

RFC 1918 is a best-current-practicies RFC that describes network address ranges that we all agree we won’t use globally. They get used for private networks, NAT ranges and so on. There are three ranges: to to to They are thus the Internet equivalent of the American phone system not […]


King Log or King Brutalist

A Christian Science church near the White House filed suit against the city on Thursday, accusing it of trammeling religious freedom by declaring the church a historic landmark and refusing to allow church leaders to tear it down. The building, a stark structure with walls that soar toward the sky, is an eyesore or a […]


This Is Not Writing; You Are Not Reading

The Paper of Record has a hilarious article, “Literacy Debate: Online, R U Really Reading?” which asks important questions about what Those Darn Kids are doing — spending their time using a mixture of hot media and cold media delivered to them over the internets. I’ll get right to the point before I start ridiculing […]


Keeping abreast of the threat

The German Bundespolizei have announced what the BBC are calling a “bullet-proof bra“. It may sound like a joke, but this is a serious matter – the policewoman who came up with the idea said normal bras can be dangerous when worn in combination with a bullet-proof vest. “The impact of a bullet can push […]


Does this mean we can revise our opinion of Friday the 13th?

According to The Daily Telegraph, the Knights Templar are suing the Vatican for all that money they lost in 1307. (The Telegraph has a companion article here as well.) This adds up to a nice round €100 billion. The Telegraph didn’t say whether that is American billions (thousand million, 109) or English billions (million million, […]


London’s New Transit Card

Transport for London is trying to get as many people as possible to use Oyster Cards. They are cheaper — and theoretically easier to use — than traditional tube / bus tickets. However, using one means that TfL has a record of your journeys on the transport system, which is something that not everybody is […]


On Gaming Security

Adam comments on Dave Maynor commenting on Blizzard selling authentication tokens. Since I have the ability to comment here, I shall. This isn’t the case of a game having better security than most banks (as Maynor says). This is a game company leaping ahead of some banks, because they realize they have bank-like security issues. […]


I said "No, No, No"

After having seen some footage of Amy Winehouse’s performance at Glastonbury, I think she needs to immediately marry Shane Macgowan, preferably as part of a reality TV show.


You Have Confused Me for the Last Time!

I love these boots, via “BoingBoing gadgets.” They’re transgressive on so many levels. Star Wars geek versus fashion. Military versus sexy. I’m glad George Lucas isn’t an obsessive control freak who hunts down anyone who adopts the visual language that he created.


Terms and Conditions for Accepting Email

Some time ago, I wrote about the absurdity of email disclaimers. It is therefore with great amusement I pass on the “Terms & conditions for acceptance of email messages by Andrews & Arnold Ltd” by a small ISP and IT company in Bracknell. The best part of it is the last term. Check out their […]


In the "couldn't have happened to a better set of people" department…

Fifteen people have escaped unharmed in the US state of Indiana after a sky-diving plane lost power 7,000ft (2,100m) from the ground. The pilot told the 14 skydivers on board to jump to safety, then crash-landed the plane. And the pilot was un-injured, according to the AP story. From Skydiving plane fails at 7,000ft, BBC. […]


To the moon!

In name only, but NASA will be sending a database of names to the moon on the forthcoming Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. You can add yours. Oh, the name? seemed right when I wanted one with a quote in it. [Update: Securology posted “ Sending Bobby Tables to the Moon,” which is funnier, if more likely […]


Brightening up the day from an unexpected place

I would estimate that 2/3 of the calls I get are from people trying to sell me things I neither need nor want. Of those, over half are outsourcing services. Of the remainder, recruiters are over half. There are also people who call me for their services once a week. There’s one particular outsourcing firm […]


Good problems to have

You don’t have much credibility looking for a publisher for a book on rum when you’re sailing in the Caribbean drinking the best rums you can find in the name of research. Most people just didn’t take me seriously that there was even a need for a book on rum. It took quite a while […]


Point Break, Live

The starring role of Johnny Utah is selected from the audience each night, and reads their entire script off of cue-cards. This method manages to capture the rawness of a Keanu Reeves performance even from those who generally think themselves incapable of acting. The fun starts immediately with the “screen test” wherein the volunteer Keanus […]


Reality imitates the Onion

I’m somewhat sure this is a real AP story, “Al-Qaida No. 2 says 9/11 theory propagated by Iran.” The Onion scooped them, with “9/11 Conspiracy Theories ‘Ridiculous,’ Al Qaeda Says.” Unfortunately, no progress on the “fake tape” issue: The authenticity of the two-hour audio recording posted on an Islamic Web site could not be independently […]


User Friendly Gets It

In his inimitable way, Illiad has hi-lighted that the miscreants have moved from the operating system to the applications.


Bot construction kit for non-programmers

We all know that ID theft and extortion bots are ubiquitous. Perhaps it is some consolation that a modicum of technical skill is needed to construct such things. That has changed. I (a complete non-programmer) have just built not one but two “bots” using materials available here and here! With these templates, any 8 year-old […]


Attrition ends Dataloss — NOT!

UPDATE: This was a belated April Fools’ from the Attrition people, which clearly suckered me in.’s Lyger has announced the end of Attrition’s Dataloss project (presumably including both the DLDOS and Dataloss mailing list). In the past few weeks, it has come to our attention that too many people are more concerned with making […]


Science in Action

The New Scientist reports in, “Have peacock tails lost their sexual allure?” A controversial study has found no evidence for the traditional view – practically enshrined in evolutionary lore – that peahens choose their partners depending on the quality of the peacocks’ tails. Obviously, traditionalists have many things to say about the quality of the […]


Ain’t Nobody’s Business But My Own

A year ago, I discussed stupid email disclaimers in, “If I Screw Up, It’s Your Fault!” This week, Brian Krebs of the Washington Post comes over the same issue, indirectly, in his “They Told You Not To Reply.” Krebs tells the story of Chet Faliszek, who owns the domain, which he bought in 2000 […]


Friday Pogues Blogging

I saw the Pogues’ show at Chicago’s Riviera Theatre last night, exactly 22 years minus one day since the last time I saw them. Spider Stacy seems to have fared a tad better than Shane :^). The show was good, but of course nothing can compare to nostalgia. A particularly enjoyable feature for me was […]



Via Michael Froomkin.


Parking Meters are Reverse Slot Machines

Raymond Chen has an amusing blog post, “When computer programmers dabble in economics: Paying parking tickets.” This is further dabbling in economics, and I hope you find it amusing. I believe that parking meters–the old fashioned kind where you put coins in and hope to not get a ticket–are precisely the opposite of slot machines. […]


Password Fatigue

The Macquarie Dictionary of Australia has an annual contest for Word of the Year. The People’s Choice Award goes to the term that is the title of this post: password fatigue noun a level of frustration reached by having too many different passwords to remember, resulting in an inability to remember even those most commonly […]


Programming World Going to Hell Because of Java and Grace Hopper

Ekinoderm writes in “Who did Kill the Software Engineer?” that schools today are ruining software engineering by teaching people Java. He references Joel Spolsky’s rant on the same. I agree completely, except neither went far enough! Java is just the replacement for Pascal, a pedagogical language designed because it was more fun and understandable than […]


Why some companies hire PR staff

2008, for us, is a big change because up to now we have been more like a terrorist group, threatening to do something and making big claims. Nicholas Negroponte, of the One Laptop Per Child program, speaking on his own web site. Wow. There’s a stunning analogy for you. Maybe “we’ve been more like a […]


Risk Assessment is Hard

The BBC reports (TV personality) “Clarkson stung after bank prank” in which he published his bank account numbers in the newspaper: The Top Gear host revealed his account numbers after rubbishing the furore over the loss of 25 million people’s personal details on two computer discs. He wanted to prove the story was a fuss […]


How about a little fire?

At WD-50 I saw something done to the potatoes that makes a cook scream, “yes!” A method of cooking the potatoes with an explanation using true understanding of the molecules inside the potatoes and the effects of heat on them. The potatoes are peeled, sliced, and cooked in a water bath at 65 degrees celsius […]


Hassling the Hoff

I’m way to lazy to take the time in Photoshop to make this look good, so just use your imagination and pretend I put Beaker’s head on this. Y’all should just be grateful that I didn’t use this animated gif instead….


So when's the Chicago gig, gents?

‘Good Times Bad Times’ ‘Ramble On’ ‘Black Dog’ ‘In My Time Of Dying’ (full version) ‘For Your Life’ ‘Trampled Under Foot’ ‘Nobody’s Fault But Mine’ ‘No Quarter’ ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’ ‘Dazed And Confused’ ‘Stairway To Heaven’ ‘The Song Remains The Same’ ‘Misty Mountain Hop’ ‘Kashmir’ ‘Whole Lotta Love’ ‘Rock And Roll’ Playlist via: […]


Paddigton Bear, Illegal Immigrant

In the new book [Paddington] bear, who arrived in the country as a stowaway, is interviewed about his right to stay in England. He has no papers to prove his identity as his Aunt Lucy arranged for him to hide on a ship’s lifeboat from Peru when she went to live in the Home for […]


This stock is da bomb!

OK. So while researching the stock tout scam noted in another post, I came across a blog which discussed a similar mechanism, but one using text messages. An obvious variant, but the part I absolutely adored was when they linked to this August 31, 2007 article from (emphases added to save your time): An […]


Banksy Would Be Proud

In a feat that would make Banksy proud, members of Untergunther, who the Guardian calls “cultural guerrillas“, restored the antique clock at the Panthéon. They spent about a year, beginning in September of 2005, in a hidden workshop, dismantling and rebuilding the entire clockwork which had been abandoned in the 1960s. They were never discovered […]


HMRC Data discs on EBay

Quite possibly the funniest infosec joke seen in 2007. Here we have two CD-R’s for auction. They are not blank, but seem to have some sort of database written to them. I found them in my local courier firm’s sorting office, addressed to “Her Majesties Audit Office – Child Benefits Section” and marked “Sensitive HM […]


No Parking, Really

Via Michael Froomkin, who points out that if this were an intellectual property license, people would seriously argue that parking there gave the owners the right to spraypaint your car.”


Beer For a Laptop

A New Zealand company is offering a lifetime supply of beer if someone gives them their lost laptop. See the BBC, “NZ brewery offers beer for laptop.” Thanks to Phillip Hallam-Baker for the pointer. We are indeed happy, and would analyze the clever marketing, ROI on investment, and emergent chaos of the barter system, but […]



I, for one, salute our entropy-increasing overlords….but I must confess to being mystified by this press release.


Best Comment in a Long Time

Ian Rae comments “I think Apple demonstrated quite convincingly their inability to compete with their own proprietary hardware and software platforms.”


Sheep outsmart Britons

The BBC reports that in Yorkshire, crafty sheep conquer cattle grids: Hungry sheep on the Yorkshire moors have taught themselves to roll 8ft (3m) across hoof-proof metal cattle grids – and raid villagers’ valley gardens. … A National Farmers’ Union spokeswoman in York said: “We have never seen anything like it. We have looked at […]


Family Guy Does Usability

A funny clip for Saturday. I can’t figure out how to embed the video here, so click on the picture to be taken to Gizmodo.


Those scurvy dogs!

The scurvy dogs at TD Ameritrade may have tricked us! Well, maybe. The comments on “Analyzing the TD Ameritrade Disclosure” and articles like “Lawsuit Raises Questions on TD Ameritrade Breach” and “Ameritrade Customers’ contact information hacked” have been demanding a re-think of what I want to think on the subject. But less importantly, today is […]


No word on the lupins

NSW Police are investigating the possible compromise of an online florist’s database and theft of customers’ credit card details. The Fraud Squad has set up Strike Force Parkview to investigate the case that involves the retailer Roses Only. There are unconfirmed reports that the details were used to make a string of luxury purchases in […]


The analog hole strikes again!

I had occasion to park at a rather large parking garage attached to a rather larger complex of hospitals in downtown Chicago today. The company that runs this garage does something smart — in addition to numbering the floors of the garage and giving them a characteristic color, they also play a well-known musician’s tunes […]


Steganography in the News

In Australia, Jeffrey Ismail has been convicted of “using a carriage service to menace, harass or offend” meaning using his mobile to coördinate reprisal attacks against a rival gang. Despite registering his phone under the name “John Gotti” and being careful enough to tell his “clerics” to “bring ‘ankshays’ and ‘atbays’” police recorded his calls […]


NYT Reporter Has Never Heard of Descartes

Or perhaps more correctly, did not internalize Descartes when he heard of him. In “Our Lives, Controlled From Some Guy’s Couch,” John Tierney writes: Until I talked to Nick Bostrom, a philosopher at Oxford University, it never occurred to me that our universe might be somebody else’s hobby. I hadn’t imagined that the omniscient, omnipotent […]


Examining Wikipedia Anonymous Edits

It’s recently been amusing to look at where Wikipedia’s anonymous edits come from. There have been many self-serving edits from obvious places, as well as selfless ones from unexpected sources. I am most amused by this selfless edit which came from IP address, which translates to I can only think that had the […]


Pseudonyms in the News: Fake Steve Jobs Outed

Brad Stone of the New York Times is a killjoy. Geez. Part of the joy of reading The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs is was thinking of him as Fake Steve Jobs, and nothing more. Sure, it’s all good that his employer was so delighted that FSJ is going to be hosted by them, now, […]


Obscenities in Passwords

El Reg reports that “Pipex invites customer to get ‘c**ted’” in which the generated passwords that the Pipex system suggested contained a rude word. A screenshot is available on the Register article. There is, however, a second obscenity here that is far more subtle. That obscenity is in the password selection advice and suggestions. The […]


System Admin Appreciation Day

…is today, July 27. Pizza and beer retailers are standing by, much as florists do on Valentine’s Day. You know what to do.


Hamster Wheel of Pain™, FOIA edition

So, the USDA messes up and, in response to FOIA requests directed to them about tobacco subsidies, sends records containing taxpayer ID numbers (along, one presumes, with names) to the several FOIA requestors. Meanwhile, an enterprising lad sends a FOIA request about data breaches to North Carolina — a state known for tobacco production. That […]


Pseudonyms In The News

The Wall Street Journal reports that the CEO of Whole Foods, John Mackey, posted on the Yahoo! Finance board for Whole Foods under the pseudonym Rahodeb, which is an anagram of Mackey’s wife’s given name. (It’s also an anagram of “A Bread Ho,” but since the WSJ doesn’t stoop to that sort of cheap joke, […]


Irony at the BBC

The headline, and warning, of a story about how data formats change, “Warning of data ticking time bomb,” BBC web site, 3 July 2007.


The CIA’s Family Jewels

Last week, the CIA released a document they called ‘The Family Jewels.’ This compendium of shameful acts has gotten a lot of press, and I have not a lot to add. I did like this bit, mentioned in the Washington Post, “Trying to Kill Fidel Castro:” Maheu made the pitch on Sept. 14, 1960, at […]


Doctors want more study on overuse of books

(Adds psychiatrist interview, industry comment, paragraphs 4, 7-17) CHICAGO, June 27 (EmergentChaos)- The American Medical Association called for more research into the public health risks of books and reading on Wednesday but stopped short of declaring them addictive. The AMA, which recommended a review of the current publishing system, also said it would leave it […]


Maybe things are different (maybe they're the same)

The article to which Adam linked in his post about Dark Side of the Moon mentioned derivative versions of the album as performed by other artists. That got me thinking of memorable covers, such as Senor Coconut’s classic renditions of Kraftwerk tunes (like The Robots and Autobahn). Ultimately, I just gotta throw in a quick […]


Security Tradeoffs

This is from Non Sequitur by Wiley. Since I’ve shrunk it to fit, the guard says to the other: Accept the security breach, or clean a litter box. Take your pick. Click the picture for the full-size one.


Wanted: iPod organ donor.

I’m not throwing out a whole iPod just because the headphone jack is hosed. If you have a dead mini iPod (maybe with a smashed display, say?), and you don’t want to take up precious landfill space, leave a comment or send me an email.


Lrn 2 uZ ‘sed’, n00bz

The iTunes Plus music store opened up today, which sells non-DRM, 256kbit AAC recordings. In case you have missed the financial details, the new tracks are $1.29 per, but albums are still $9.99. You can upgrade your old tracks to high-quality, non-DRM, but you have to do it en masse and it’s only for the […]


Ministry of Truth in Advertising

The BBC reports that “Ministers set out plan for waste.”…Usually, they at least claim they’re spending our money wisely.


Marco Pierre White on Intellectual Property

This via Salon’s “The man who made Gordon Ramsay cry” — and let’s face it, making Gordon Ramsay cry is a great place to start. Alex Koppelman asks: …. Do you think a chef’s recipes should be protected as intellectual property? White replies: You can’t reinvent the wheel. Everyone takes from everybody. How many people […]


Applied Kid Cryptography

Where’s Waldo? Have you ever been “playing” Where’s Waldo? and after finding him on a particular page needed to prove that you actually found him but didn’t want to reveal his actual location? Personally, I haven’t, but Applied Kid Cryptography recently referenced on the cryptography mailing list was too much fun to pass up.


Animations of US Flight Patterns

Aaron Koblin of UCLA has an amazing website of animations he’s done using FAA flight data. It’s well worth a look.


Food and Bacterial Risk Assessment

How clean is that piece of food that you dropped on the floor? Do you really want to eat it? Harold McGee explores the five-second rule in the New York Times. Personally, I always heard it as the thirty-second rule. I guess that it’s a good thing I have a strong immune system.


Facebook Hangover

On Dave Farber’s list, Brock Meeks pointed us to a delightful Facebook Smackdown. Brock says, What do Facebook, the CIA and your magazine subscription list have in common? Maybe more than you think… Trust me, it’s worth the look. And indeed it is worth looking at, along with Patrick Schitt’s contribution of the background […]


Quantum Cryptography Cracked!

Nature reports that, “Simulation proves it’s possible to eavesdrop on super-secure encrypted messages.” A summary of the attack is that the attacker instigates a quantum entanglement of properties of the photons so that they can infer the information (encoded in polarization) by measuring the entangled property (like momentum). It isn’t a real attack, but as […]


Gartner Discovers Offshoring

According to CIO Forum, Gartner has discovered some amazing things. There’s offshoring to India, and it’s growing at a “staggering” 16% per year. And lots of manufacturing is being done in China now. And the US better wake up ASAP because it is “in imminent danger of becoming an industry of failure.” This is a […]


Users force Dell to resurrect XP

The Beeb reports. This means that if you want to start speculating in copies of XP, you probably have even longer to wait.


Your Bribe, Should You Choose to Accept It

In the secret language of corruption in India, an official expecting a bribe will ask for Mahatma Gandhi to “smile” at him. The revered leader of the independence movement is on all denominations of rupee notes. With rampant dishonesty ingrained in the bureaucratic culture, an anticorruption group has decided to interpret the euphemism literally by […]


Phriday Phish Blogging: Randomly Flagged

One of the things I really appreciate about phishing is that we pay people to discover the zeitgeist and share it with us. There’s little spam advertising fallout shelters or other ways to deal with the Red Menace. I rarely see advocacy about bimetallism in the currency in my inbox. We see what we see […]


Secure Flight @ Home

Prof. R. H. Anssen of the Univeristy of Florence, Colorado working under a Department of Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects grant has released a new paper discussing improvements to SecureFlight that make it much more scalable, while adding in grid-computing and privacy-friendly aspects as well. Expanding upon the ideas of K. P. Hilby and J. […]


Privacy Policy

“Among other changes, the revisions to our Privacy Policy may have changed your preferences for receiving postal mailings from Alaska Airlines and its partners.” Now that’s the power of policy! Photo, text from “Privacy policy update from Alaska Airlines, received March 24, 2007” by JasonJT, on Flickr. He has great outraged commentary.  


A Different X-Box Hack

Back in the day, I was a member of FIRST. (Btw, rumor has it Chris and Adam are presenting at their annual conference this summer). At the time, one of the more prolific posters to the mailing list was Robert Hensing from Microsoft (Adam, if you haven’t met Rob, you should look him up). Anyways, […]


If It feels so wrong, how can it be so right?

Emacs users get addicted to the standard key bindings (which are also available in Cocoa apps). Microsoft Word doesn’t support these by default, but you can add them through customization. Here are the ones I find most useful: StartOfLine: Control-A EndOfLine: Control-E To set these up in Word… …you’ll have to read “Add emacs key […]


Emerging dating paranoia

When Adam asked me to guest blog on “Dinner, Movie — and a Background Check — for Online Daters“, I promised him I would do it. And then I read the article and couldn’t think of what to say about it. I’m something of a self-proclaimed expert of internet hookups (as anyone who reads ClueChick, […]


Chaos and Piracy on the High Seas

“This repo man drives off with ocean freighters” “I’m sure there are those who would like to add me to a list of modern pirates of the Caribbean, but I do whatever I can to protect the legal rights of my clients,” said Hardberger, whose company, Vessel Extractions in New Orleans, has negotiated the releases […]


DST is Coming, Run For Your Lives!

In a week, the US and Canada are changing when they go to Daylight Savings Time. It must also be a slow news time, as well, because I’ve read several articles like this, “Daylight-Saving Time Change: Bigger than Y2K?” When Y2K came around, a number of us quoted Marvin the Martian (now of the Boston […]


No, seriously

Somebody — I want to say Rich Mogull, but I cannot find the reference — wrote sarcastically about breach notices almost always saying “At $COMPANY we take security seriously….” as they report how, well…you know. I just finished scanning 183 notice letters I got from New York, covering the last half of 2006. Using an […]


There’s A List?

I received the following in the mail the other week and while I was initially amused that I was getting this without asking for it, it took my wife pointing out the irony of there being an actual directory at all:


Best Sign at RSA?

Ryan Russell shows his loyalty by claiming this is only the second-best ad at RSA. The words beneath the sign read “Beware of false positives:” Incidentally, this is an advertisement, trafficking in stolen property, referring to another ad campaign which caused mass hysteria, and flipping off its audience. What’s not to love? Kudos to Cyberdefender […]


Coviello: RSA 2010 Will be Last Conference

Okay, that’s not precisely what he said. What he said was that in “two to three years” there will be no more “standalone security solutions.” Meanwhile, the tradeshow floor of the RSA conference seems to be enjoying something of a renaissance, which is good to know, as the theme of the conference is, well, The […]


If You Blow Hard, You Can Find a Disclosure Debate

So there’s a video of how to “Unlock A Car With a Tennis Ball.” I advise turning the sound off-there’s no value to a bad pseudo-rock soundtrack, and no information in it (all the narration is in text in the video). There’s also precious little information in the video. It’s not clear what make or […]


Defend Traditional Marriage In Washington

The Washington Defense of Marriage Alliance seeks to defend equal marriage in this state by challenging the Washington Supreme Court’s ruling on Andersen v. King County. This decision, given in July 2006, declared that a “legitimate state interest” allows the Legislature to limit marriage to those couples able to have and raise children together. Because […]


Rely only on the secrecy of that which can be easily changed

The title is a statement of Kerkhoffs’ principle. A cryptographic system is only secure if the security of the system doesn’t depend on the whole system being secret. And there’s an interesting lesson there for Diebold. You see Diebold sells ATMs and voting machines. And they posted pictures of the key that allegedly opens every […]


Funniest Spam of the Week

Hmmm, what to do, what to do? This is so funny on so many levels. How can you not like a phishing attack where the hook is a poll based on eBay being closed because of so many phishing attacks? January 19, 2007 Dear eBay Community: We have decided to close eBay on 27 February […]


Liberty Bags

Phil offers up some thoughts on Liberty Bags, named in the tradition of patriot bins and freedom tables. Phil, I think you need to wrap your items in bacon.  


Credit Card Data Over AOL IM

From the files of “too good to make up”, reports a story from a couple of years ago about his credit card data being sent over AOL Instant Messenger. Essentially he bought some merchandise at a shot which didn’t have a point of sale terminal so the clerk was IMing all credit card data […]


A Pleasure Doing Business With You!

The BBC reports that the United Kingdom’s 1945 war debt to US [is] ‘almost paid’ and [was] paid off at the end of last year: The final payment of £45m will be made by the 31 December, meeting a 1945 obligation to repay the debt in full. In unrelated news, I’m told that neither the […]


Goat Security

It seems that the Gavle goat survived the holiday this year. Giant goats in Gavle seem to have about a 20% survival rate, with this year’s being only the 11th to survive the holiday season since 1966. No word on what fire-retardant was used, which is too bad. How are other 13 meter straw goats […]


I knew those Bratz were trouble

As if Barbie isn’t a bad enough role model, it seems that at least one Bratz doll came complete with actual marijuana as an after-market accessory. The unlucky recipient’s mom quickly called 911 when she found the contraband packaged with the doll she received in the mail, having thought it was an identical doll she […]


Liechtenstein Expands

The BBC reports that Modern measuring methods proved that Liechtenstein’s borders are 1.9km (1.2 miles) longer than previously thought. The border has been changed in some of the more remote corners of the mainly mountainous state, which has now grown in size by 0.5sq km (123 acres). Black Unicorn tattoo by Monique’s Euro Tattoo and […]


Mrs. Claus Gets Tired of It via Canadian Privacy Law blog (who’s had a good series of privacy and liberty cartoons up lately).


Chip, Pin and Tetris

Saar Drimer and Steven Murdoch will be getting lumps of coal from the banking industry, and amused laughter from the rest of us: It is important to remember, however, that even perfect tamper resistance only ensures that the terminal will no longer be able to communicate with the bank once opened. It does not prevent […]


Gifts for the Cryptological Mind

Cryptological in this case meaning those who like thinking about the hidden. Authorized Da Vinci Code Cryptex from The Noble Collection. It’s very nice, made of good, solid brass. It avoids many combination lock issues. I tried some obvious ways you can cheat a letter from such a device and it was well-made enough that […]


Have Some Soma, and Don’t Mind The Cameras

The BBC reports that “Prozac ‘found in drinking water’” in Britain, and that: In the decade leading up to 2001, the number of prescriptions for antidepressants went up from nine million per year to 24 million per year, says the paper. They point to a Observer story, “Stay calm everyone, there’s Prozac in the drinking […]


Farts on a plane!

Or, “It’s not the crime, it’s the coverup”. It may be one problem airline security officials never envisioned — a passenger lighting matches in flight to mask odors from her flatulence. The woman’s actions resulted in an emergency landing on Monday in Nashville of an American Airlines flight bound for Dallas from Washington, D.C., said […]


Rocket Powered Mini

Can a rocket powered mini match the distance of an olympic ski jumper? Watch and see. For a full explanation of the results read Popular Science’s breakdown of the experiment.


Bacon of the Month Club

There are days when I wish I was Boingboing. No, really. Because if I were Boingboing, I could blog about friggin’ Bacon of the Month Clubs all day long, and have a everybody on the planet clicking on my ads while I sat in my hot tub dictating posts. But we’re not. We have self-respect, […]


Security 1.27?

Security 2.0 indeed….. Thanks Illiad…. s/WEB/SECURITY/g Happy Saturday


Banksy Videos: Security Is Everyone’s Responsibility

Following on Arthur’s post about Banksy, and for your weekend amusement, videos of Banksy installing his artwork are at his site. I had to hand-enter URLS to get the videos to display, they’re of the form, with the others being 1, 3, and 4. Via Alec Muffet.


Banksy Again

Or how museum security is like information security. Or as Sivacracy put it “Involuntary Art Acquisitions”. Call it what you will, but in all cases it highlights the fact that most security programs be they physical or information focused, tend to be unidirectionally focused. In the case of museums, it is to ensure that nothing […]


Happy Geeky Thanksgiving

Hey everyone, it’s time to celebrate Thanksgiving here in the U.S. Or in the words of Anya, engage in “ritual sacrifice with pie.” If pie isn’t your thing, perhaps cookies are. kung-foodie points us to Joseph Hall’s Ubuntu and


Frito-Lay’s New Snack Line

Frito-Lay spokeswoman Lisa Greeley, who said that the company made a commitment in 2004 to develop a healthier line of snacks but “never thought it would actually come to this,” described the Flat Earth brand as “tailor-made for the small, vocal minority of health-conscious consumers who apparently can’t just be content with salads, bananas, apples, […]


Cypherpunks, Sameer make the Oxford English Dictionary

cypherpunk, n. Computing slang. A person who uses encryption when sending emails in order to ensure privacy, esp. from government authorities. For the full text, see his post, The OED. Me, I’m disappointed that they didn’t quote the Forbes article.


Reason #2453 Not To Mug Magicians

On Friday, BoingBoing linked to a great story about some kids mugging magician David Copperfield. Copperfield used sleight-of-hand to hide the items in his pockets: The assistants handed over money and a cellphone, but the illusionist turned his pockets inside out to reveal nothing, although he was carrying his passport, wallet and cell phone. So […]


Better Dead than Red?

Via the Beeb, writing about a county board election in South Dakota: Marie Steichen, who died of cancer in September, beat a Republican rival by 100 votes to 64 and became a county commissioner posthumously. The election list closed on 1 August, but Ms Steichen’s name was kept on the list for Tuesday’s election. Voters […]


Happy Halloween

                   Sometimes it’s OK to take candy from strangers.


"You’re doing a heck of a job, Kip"

Sure, it’s all over the web, but you might be living under a rock, or in a reality-free zone, and have missed “Make Your Own Fake Boarding Pass” at 27b/6. The short version of the story is that someone has automated the process of creating your own fake boarding passes. Don’t worry, though, Osama isn’t […]


Gettin’ Real Security? No.

I came prepared. I knew I would be walking in to the lion’s den with my spartan Thinkpad running Windows and Ubuntu. Sure enough there was an eerie sea of glowing white Mac logos in the conference room which reminded me vaguely of Wyndham’s Midwich Cuckoos. I surreptitiously covered the IBM logo with a white […]


Use The Logo Luke

“Decaf” over on DeadBeefCafe, relates the story of a colleague whose response to yet another virus outbreak is to convince management to purchase Macintoshes, with the following justification: We’re going to buy Mac Minis and run Windows on them because Macs aren’t affected by these security problems. Decaf breaks down the several fallacies of this […]


Star Wars Spoof video

Click the picture to be taken to Google video. (Don’t forget to remove the flash cookies when you’re done.)


Powerpoint Plans

It’s the scenes Lucas was too scared to film! The actual presentation, with voice overs. At


I can’t believe they’d say that!

. It’s the Nietzsche Family Circus, which pairs a randomized Family Circus cartoon with a randomized Friedrich Nietzsche quote. Hours of fun!


Those Who Can’t Remember The Past…

Are condemned to be mocked for it. See what happens when Australia’s “The Chasers War On Everything” build their own Trojan Horse and haul it around town.


No soup for you!

Harkening back to Adam’s post a while back concerning EC being blocked or miscategorized by various “security” products, tk of nCircle posts that has been blocked from some security vendor sites. This reads to me like the equivalent (speaking of analogies) of Toyota blocking, rather than the categorization of as evil in […]


On the Plane

I forgot to turn my wifi card off on the plane last night, and saw this: Kids today! Back in my day, man in the middle attacks were hard.


More on RFID Zappers

This seems to be the weekend of redux posts and back tracking to earlier in the year. Way back in January, Adam wrote about the RFID Zapper created by the folks at the annual Chaos Computer Club conference. Along a similar vein, Julian of, has also produced an RFID Zapper made from a disposable […]


Marty: It's All About Transparency

Marty Roesch writes “Miracle Weapon in the War on Terror Discovered!.” You’d think he’d have more sympathy for the need for standardized transports while doing high-speed inspection.


Dear Secure Computing: Screw You, Too.

A loyal reader reports that we’ve hit the big time, and Secure Computing’s censorware has banned us at their dozens of customers’ sites. Now, it’s their right to make software that prevents you from getting the best in security news and analysis, and my right to wonder how they get their heads up there. I’m […]


Computers Will Make Our Lives More Private

Social Security Administration officials believe computerization of files has contributed to their security. In the manual era, the applicant’s record was an individual ledger sheet. Thus if a person could get to the file drawer and then the ledger, he could check any record. Although entry to the files area was restricted by guards who […]


Darn kids! Get off my lawn!!

“Until Solaris became open, students were only interested in Solaris for the same reason they were interested in NextStep Unix — because it was this arcane, old-fashioned thing,” said Asheesh Laroia, a graduate student in computer science at Johns Hopkins University. Via NetworkWorld.


On Building Patches

Analysis shows that a small number of users have been impacted by this issue. Given the documented workaround, it may be addressed in a future service pack. Photo: Adam, the entrance to a Microsoft garage.


A Total Eclipse of Rational Thought

Nick Owen brings us the story of how passengers on a Paris-Mauritius flight are suing Air France, because Bonnie Tyler sang “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” (He also brings us the headline, and the closing thought, “I assumed that first class was always filled with song. If the first class can’t sing love ballads, then […]


Google whitewash

The Tom Sawyer kind, that is, known formally as Google Image Labeler: You’ll be randomly paired with a partner who’s online and using the feature. Over a 90-second period, you and your partner will be shown the same set of images and asked to provide as many labels as possible to describe each image you […]


Poll: 58% approval rating for Bush among voting machines

WASHINGTON – Despite mounting public criticism of his administration’s handling of Iraq and the war on terror, 58 percent of voting machines approve of the way Bush is handling his job according to the latest poll by Shamby and Associates. This is in contrast to the 42% approval rating he has among human beings from […]


Hamming it Up

(or “The New York Times Gets Self-Referentially Ironic“) … he recognizes that plenty of people must think that rounding up friends and family members to go in on a thousand-dollar ham that he envisions hanging in his living room is crazy. But food lovers like him understand, he says. And in the end, the elaborate […]


Gloria Gaynor’s Threat Levels

At first I was afraid, I was petrified. I kept thinking I could never live without you by my side. But then I spent so many nights thinking how you did me wrong. I grew strong. Via Accordion Guy.


Who's next?

                            Now that ISS has been purchased by IBM? Or is consolidation not really happening?


I don't know if this or the 'White Pages' breach is worse

Via America’s Finest News Source: Postmaster General Loses Laptop; Zip-Code Data Of Millions At Risk July 25, 2006 | Issue 42•30 WASHINGTON, DC—The U.S. Postal Service has confirmed that a laptop computer issued to Postmaster General John Potter and containing the zip-code information of over 280 million Americans was allegedly left in a taxicab Monday […]


Security, Privacy and A Digression into Copyrights

(Via Caspar and Nicko.) I hesitated before posting this. I’m pretty sure it’s a Dr. Fun cartoon, but the jerks in “my confined space” have obscured the signature. I try hard to attribute all the images I use here. I’ve given credit to Galerie which we use to produce the frames. (They even added a […]


Are You Human or Not?

An reader who wants to remain anonymous points us to “Another CAPTCHA — But I failed (partly)” and “” I cracked up when I saw this. It uses “the hotornot API” (Web 2.0 is getting out of hand!) to offer up pictures of nine women (or men) and asks you to prove you’re human by […]


Greed is Gummy

Wiedmaier over at Flickr, has a series of the “seven deadly sins” shot with gummy bears. Who knew sinning could be so cavity forming? Aside from gluttony of course. [via Slashfood]


We Have A Favicon!

Because Emergent Chaos cares about your privacy, we employ industry standard measures to protect the security of our site, and convince you to provide us with personal data we don’t need, which we shall carelessly sling around. Our compliance is monitored by Ernst and Young, we ship backups via UPS to Iron Mountain, and our […]


Becoming More Straight-Laced

Shoelaces got you down? Constantly tripping over your own laces? Your bows off kilter? Everything you could possibly want to know about shoelaces, courtesy of Ian’s Shoelace Site.


Human Powered Blender

Nothing says “prepared for power outages” at your summer parties like a human powered blender, so you can crush that all ice into frothy goodness before it melts. And thanks to the wonders of capitalism, now you don’t have to build your own. (Forgot to the picture to go to their site.)


Flippin' sweet!

Maybe IBM does have a sense of humor. “Knock it off, Napoleon! Just make yourself a dang quesa-dilluh!”. This phrase, from the movie Napoleon Dynamite, is the cipher key IBM are using to publish encrypted XML at this year’s Wimbledon grand slam. But is this a rather glaring lapse in security, or simply an anticipatory […]


Background Checks for Chemists, Too?

Is something a little off balance when we background check people trying to learn about computer security, but not chemists or nucular physicists?


Men Without Pants

To protect the rights of the official beer they were denied entry, so the male fans promptly removed the trousers and watched the game in underpants. The BBC asserts that up to 1,000 fans were told to strip off their orange pants in “Fans Lose Trousers to Gain Entry.” Markus Siegler, the control-freak in charge […]


Words of Wisdom

We live in a society of laws. Why do you think I took you to all those “Police Academy” movies? For fun? Well, I didn’t hear anybody laughin’, did you? — Homer Simpson Marge Be Not Proud


Maybe they can borrow a few million from the IRS

[T]he VA’s inspector general, George Opfer, said that the agency had been unable to formally notify the affected veterans because “we don’t have 26 million envelopes.” via the Bradenton Herald Now that the funny part is out of the way… Asked the cost for preventing and covering potential losses from identity theft, [VA Secretary] Nicholson […]



Chickweed, thanks to Xeger.


Happy Mother’s Day!

“The NSA would like to remind everyone to call their mothers this Sunday. They need to calibrate their system.” (Quip from Bruce Schneier, poster by Tom Tomorrow, for RSA Data Security, at


Code Name: Miranda

I admit it, probably ten or more years ago I actually signed up for a supermarket affinity card. Of course, I promptly lost it during the great migration to the suburbs, and for a good while I would simply claim to have left it at home and the cashier would cheerfully use a “store card”, […]


Animal Farm

Animal Farm is a 30-acre family farm in Orwell, Vermont. We are certified organic for milk, butter, eggs, and hay and pasture. Some things you just can’t make up, because someone else already has.


2nd Underhanded C Contest Begins

This year’s challenge: ridiculous performance degredation For this year’s challenge, imagine you are an application developer for an OS vendor. You must write portable C code that will inexplicably taaaaaake a looooooong tiiiiime when compiled and run on a competitor’s OS. The program is supposed to read a set of words on stdin, and print […]


Quick! Before the Trademark Lawyers Strike!

Get Pac Man for the Smartphone before it’s too late. Doubtless the lawyers will come in and remove this version, too. Because, you know, if they didn’t, Midway wouldn’t be able to make any money on Pac-man.


You can't buy publicity like this!

UCSB has a project to digitize wax cylinder recordings. They have thousands cataloged, with the majority downloadable as mp3s. It’s awesome. Naturally, I wanted to see what software they used. Being archivists, they of course go into great detail, including this gem: We’d like to use this space as a soapbox to say that Cleaner […]


Art Imitating Life?

Many laughs, and perhaps a tear or two, from The Cubes              


Relentless Walking

You two and your obsession with modern entertainment. Get out, and go for a walk to Rivendell. If you are going to insist on watching movies, at least go see some real ones. (Image is “Descent to Rivendell, by John Howe, from


I find your faith disturbing

Adam, I learned of the flick via a blog unrelated to either Star Wars or computing, so no need for Google. Not to get all “vi vs. emacs” on you, but I never understood the fascination with Star Wars. :^) Photo cred: kemikore


You Have Failed Me For the Last Time

Chris, I can’t believe you mentioned Snakes on a Plane, and failed to link to a blog called “I Find Your Lack of Faith Disturbing,” whose article, “Snakes on a Motherfucking Plane” is like the 3rd hit on Google. I mean, really! Its not like you had to look hard to find that. Do I […]


St. Patrick would know what to do

The movie “Jaws” made a lot of money. People like money. Hence, people made derivative movies, “Orca” for example. One copycat, IMO, was so dreadfully bad that it was good. That movie was “Grizzly“, which I saw on its first run. It told the tale of a rogue bear which, you know, basically roamed around […]


Blue Hat Pictures

J. in the Windows Build room, and some labels on a cabinet. And baby, that’s all you’re gonna see of the pictures. We value everyone else’s privacy, unless you were there. In which case, its all groovy. Drop me a note and you’ll get the super-double-secret URL. As to the picture honoring ‘patch Tuesday,’ I […]


Private Thoughts on Blue Hat

As I mentioned, I was out at Microsoft’s Blue Hat conference last week. As it was a private event, speakers’ names are being kept private right now. I’m all in favor of privacy. Unfortunately, that makes it hard to properly attribute this bit of genius: 1 bottle of beer on the wall, 1 bottle of […]


Not Because It Is Easy, But Because We Can

Twelve barrels of the world’s most alcoholic whisky, or enough to wipe out a medium-size army, will be produced when the Bruichladdich distillery revives the ancient tradition of quadruple-distilling today. With an alcohol content of 92 per cent, the drink may not be the most delicate single malt ever produced but it is by far […]


On Computers and Irony

I’ve been saying for a while that destroying information has an ironic tendency: While it’s quite hard to really destroy data on a computer when you want to, (for example, “Hard-Disk Risk“) it’s quite easy to lose the data by accident. Similarly, while it’s quite hard to make code that runs and does what you […]


The World's Greatest Rock and Roll Band?

Ok, so the Stones are playing, free, in Rio. I figure the crowd will be big. Maybe huge. Apparently not a record-breaker, though: Saturday’s crowd may not be as big as that at Rod Stewart’s 1994 concert, also at Copacabana beach, which drew a crowd of 3.5 million. Rod Stewart?


Custom Shirts

Get your custom shirts with font size controlled by word frequency. It’s shirts-2.0, now available from Snapshirts. Cool.


The Wallet Game

At lunch after Shmoocon, Nick Mathewson said he’d like to pay something between zero and the amount of money in his wallet. I think this suggests a fascinating game, which is that Alice asks Bob for some amount of money. If Bob has that much money in his wallet, he pays. Otherwise, Alice pays him […]


Without Surveillance, We'd Have Anarchy In The Streets

The New York Times reports that “Police Officers Sue Over Police Surveillance of Their Protests.” Previously in the New York Police Department department, we offered a look back at the “The New York City Police Riots,” which, if you think about it, indicates that New York City Police, unlike most of the unarmed demonstrators in […]


Redaction Is Harder Than Public Speaking

Did you ever have one of those days where you had a great, totally unfair pot shot to sling at Microsoft, and events just overtake your plans? It started out when I watched the videos of “Blue Hat 2005 – Security Researchers come to MS, Part I.” Now, I have some insight into the training […]


Somebody's Watching Me

Don’t miss the awesome video of Somebody’s Watching Me from Progress Now Action. (Dear Sama: Thanks!)


"Contrasts in presentation style"

“Contrasts in presentation style: Yoda vs. Darth Vader” is brilliant! How can I not love a mash-up of what you do and Star Wars?


From the Do As We Say Dept.

Everyone knows that the Motion Picture Association of America is very much against unauthorized copying of movies. Then why is the MPAA admitting that it copied a movie, when it was specifically told not to by the copyright owner. The movie in question is Kirby Dick’s This Film Is Not Yet Rated. According to the […]


Lockpick Business Card

A hacker, entrepreneur, and all around mischief maker, Melvin wanted something he could give to peers and prospective clients that spoke of this nature. Talk about a card that opens doors! Via Boingboing.


Identity Theft Poster Girl

..may just have been found! The Associated Press reports that Fashion model Beverly Peele was arrested on identity theft charges for allegedly buying around $10,000 worth of housewares, appliances and furniture by using credit card numbers without permission, authorities said Friday. […] The complaint filed against the 30-year-old alleges she charged furniture, a refrigerator, a […]


Slipping through the analog hole

I have a number of LPs which gradually I am ripping to disc, using The Analogue Ripper (which is adequate but I’m not raving). At the moment, I’m recording an old blues album I haven’t listened to in probably ten years. Naturally, then, I thought of “The UPS Song“, which you can even listen to. […]


The New York City Police Riots

… The arrest of Mayor Wood was ordered. Captain Walling of the Metropolitan Police was sent to arrest the Mayor but was promptly thrown out on his ear. Wood occupied City Hall protected by 300 of his Municipals who resisted a force of 50 Metropolitans sent there to arrest him. Later that day 50 Metropolitan […]


13 Meter Straw Goat Met His Match

I am deeply saddened to have missed this story until now: Vandals set light to a giant straw goat Saturday night in a central Swedish town, police said, an event that has happened so frequently it has almost become a Christmas tradition. It was the 22nd time that the goat had gone up in smoke […]


USA 0, UK 1

We get Mystery Science Theater 3000, they get Badly Dubbed Porn: Badly Dubbed Porn showcases vintage soft porn movies re-dubbed with a wickedly funny soundtrack by some of Britain’s most talented comedy actors. Via the lovely and very funny Ms. Kitka.


"What if Copyright law were strongly enforced…"

I can’t tell you how strongly tempted I am to just steal Daniel Solove’s “What If Copyright Law Were Strongly Enforced in the Blogosphere?” It’s a great article, and it would be deeply, deeply ironic for that article to be at the center of a lawsuit over copyright infringement.


Passwords: Lessons for Japan Airlines from Harry Potter

This is weak authentication in all its glory. The password is shared by every member of a House. It is a static password, changed annually. Moreover, the fat lady’s password challenge never asks students for identity. I cannot recall any incident where a house ghost barred entrance to a student because he was a member […]


0Day on Ebay

“Brand new Microsoft Excel Vulnerability:” The lot: One 0-day Microsoft Excel Vulnerability Up for sale is one (1) brand new vulnerability in the Microsoft Excel application. The vulnerability was discovered on December 6th 2005, all the details were submitted to Microsoft, and the reply was received indicating that they may start working on it. It […]


Build Irony In

Secure operation of a site is hard. Really, I’m not looking to pick on CERT. They’re doing some very good work, and Build Security In is important. At the same time, this message is only appearing because SSL certificates are focused on identity, and that identity needs to be “rooted” at a certificate authority. That […]


It's Christmas Time in New Orleans

It’s no ordinary holiday season in the Gulf Coast this year, so Frank Evans built an unconventional holiday display at a suburban New Orleans shopping mall to match. He thought the tiny blue-tarped roofs, little toppled fences and miniature piles of hurricane debris in the display he builds annually for the mall struck just the […]



How did Sivacracy manage to rope in the sponsorship dollars? I really need to monetize some sticky eyeballs here. Meanwhile, click the image for more on Panexa.


New, Useful, and Non-Obvious

My friend Sharon, who is an excellent patent attorney, showed me this, her favorite U.S. patent. You should hire her![1] She’s really good, even if she does a lot of work for an empire of questionable morals, but is not yet so evil as to have written anything like US Patent 4,646,382, “Lottery Ticket Scraper:” […]


Kill Bill's Browser (and Comments)

Some folks have put up a site, “Kill Bill’s Browser,” based on Google’s offer to pay up to $1 for each Firefox/Google Toolbar install. It offers up both good and entertaining reasons to switch: 7. It will make Bill Gates soooooooooo mad. Seriously– super, super mad. And even more than Bill, let’s think about Steve […]


MIT Researchers on Radio Shielding

Abstract: Among a fringe community of paranoids, aluminum helmets serve as the protective measure of choice against invasive radio signals. We investigate the efficacy of three aluminum helmet designs on a sample group of four individuals. Using a $250,000 network analyser, we find that although on average all helmets attenuate invasive radio frequencies in either […]


This is convergence

A gamer who spent £13,700 on an island that only exists in a computer game has recouped his investment, according to the game developers. The 23-year-old gamer known as Deathifier made the money back in under a year. The virtual Treasure Island he bought existed within the online role-playing game Project Entropia. He made money […]


The Tories Just Don't Understand Art

Audiences at the Government-funded Chapter arts centre in Canton, Cardiff, see Miss Takahashi arrive on stage in high heels and a smart black business suit. For the next three hours, they watch her drink bottle after bottle, periodically lurching towards her beam and seeing how much of it she can negotiate without falling off. … […]


Froomkin and Vladeck on Roberts

Ann Bartow describes it as “completely awesome pedantic weeniedom, and I mean that in the best possble way.” I would have just tossed this in my feed, but wanted to boost Michael Froomkin’s page rank for pedantic weeniedom. I hope he doesn’t mind. (Via Volokh)


Miss McDonald's Halloween

Miss McDonald has an art project at Livejournal: Or perhaps Miss McDonald is an art project. Hard to say with any certainty. But why would you want to?


Oh what a tangled web we weave…

Sony’s DRM rootkit has been harnessed by folks selling a program which hides game cheats from detective measures shipped with WoW and affectionately known as The Warden. Somehow, I am reminded of a Simpson’s quote [.mp3]


Fall Back

Its that time of year again, when Congress decrees that you shift your clock back an hour to save miniscule amounts of energy. The fine folks of Arizona and Indiana have noticed that Congress doesn’t really have the power to regulate time, and don’t like playing along. But if you think about it, time is […]


Ahmadinejad and Wiping Israel Off The Map

Posted by Adam It seems that most everything that one could say about the President of Iran calling for Israel to be wiped off the map has been said. Good articles include Daniel Drezner’s “How crazy is Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad?” (about the strategy behind the statement), Hossein (Hoder) Derakhshan’s “The fundamentalist minority” (about how Iranians feel […]


Trick-Or-Treaters To Be Subject To Random Bag Searches

America’s Finest News source reports, “Trick-Or-Treaters To Be Subject To Random Bag Searches:” “Individuals concealing their identities through clever disguise, and under cover of night, may attempt to use the unspecified threat of ‘tricks’ to extort ‘treats’ from unsuspecting victims,” Chertoff said. “Such scare tactics may have been tolerated in the past, but they will […]


The President Endorses This Blog

You might have thought that the White House had enough on its plate late last month, what with its search for a new Supreme Court nominee, the continuing war in Iraq and the C.I.A. leak investigation. But it found time to add another item to its agenda – stopping The Onion, the satirical newspaper, from […]


Archimedes' Death Ray, Take 2

Earlier this month, I posted “Archimedes’ Death Ray,” about the MIT team trying to replicate Archimedes’ legendary defense of Syracuse, setting fire to ships with polished mirrors. Now Mythbusters has brought MIT Professor David Wallace to San Francisco to: …attempt to set fire to an 80-year-old fishing boat with a contraption made of 300 square […]


Horton Hears a Heart

Brilliant retelling of the Tell-tale Heart, by Poe, in the style of Dr. Suess. True, I’ve been shaken – and true, I’ve been bad. But how can you say that this elephant’s mad? This Loopidy sickness has sharpened my brain! My ears are quite large, and I hear things quite plain. So before you pass […]



As we now know courtesy of the Philippines’ National Capital Regional Police Office, a typical terrorist is “a man aged 17 to 35, wearing a ball cap, carrying a backpack, clutching a cellular phone and acting uneasily” []. This critical piece of intelligence, I am sorry to report, seems to have taken a step closer […]


Airport Screening Is Not A Game?

A few weeks ago, I reported on PlayMobil’s airport screening playset in “From The Mouths of Toymakers.” Dan Solove shows his true commitment by buying one, and documenting his hours of fun in “The Airline Screening Playset: Hours of Fun!” Read it.


Archimedes' Death Ray?

Boingboing directs us to “Archimedes Death Ray: Idea Feasibility Testing,” in which an MIT class decides to test Archimedes’ ray: The use of mirrors to set warships on fire. Mythbusters claimed it was a myth, that the idea couldn’t be made to work. Well, the MIT class gave it a shot, and it turns out […]


Bugger Productivity

It’s not like I was getting any work done anyway. (Ok, actually I was: Five of yesterday’s six posts took under 10 minutes, and four took 5 minutes or less.) But: Scientists invade the privacy of Giant squid, intruding on their long-preserved solitude. Also be sure to notice National Geographic’s beautiful user interface for selecting […]


Judging Wines By Their Labels

Stefan Geens has an entertaining post about “how to judge a wine by its label:” Therein lies the secret as to why you really can judge wine by its label: Companies where the management has an atrocious taste in labels tend to be the old-school type, uncertain about innovation, parochial about marketing and under the […]


From The Mouths of Toymakers

We all understand that Ryan Singel deserves a break from reporting on stories like “TSA Chief Nixes Commercial Databases” or “Advisory Panel: Delay Secure Flight” or even “[TSA] Advisory Panel Report Made Public.” Reporting on the duckspeakers and their plans to grope us all in the name of liberty is enough to wear anyone down. […]


Cease and Desist, or I Shall Embarrass Myself Some More!

It used to be that to mock lawyers sending cease and desist letters, you had to be elite Swedish file traders. (Or Phrack. Phrack used to mock their correspondants, too, before they got all corporate.) But now, even gadget blogs can play, and play Gizmodo does, when some bunch of lawyers sends them a letter […]


Homeland Security Blanket

By Amy Franceschini. See the complete work at Future Farmers.   It’s not new, but Gizmodo picked it up and reminded us.


Caption Contest

I took this picture of a sign, lying on its side, near gate A12 of the Atlanta airport on August 16th, 2005. The photo is what I saw; it has not been retouched. It needs a caption, and I am simply flabbergasted.                


I'm a Spamateur

In private email to Justin “SpamAssassin” Mason, I commented about blog spam and “how to fix it,” then realized that my comments were really dumb. In realizing my stupidity, I termed the word “spamateur,” which is henceforth defined as someone inexperienced enough to think that any simple solution has a hope of fixing the problem.


Life Imitates Art

America’s Finest News source reports that “Our Global Food-Service Enterprise Is Totally Down For Your Awesome Subculture” while the New York Times covers “Hip-Hop Argot Meets Corporate Cant, All to Sell Chryslers.” One story or the other contained the line: Sometimes it feels like nobody understands your rebellious, genre-defying crew of goth-rocker pals—am I right? […]


Small Bits: Privacy for Infringers, IEEE Cipher, Oracle, Footnotes, and a Mug

Michael Geist continues to take the Privacy Commissioner’s office to task for protecting the privacy of infringers: Moreover, the Commissioner canvassed other banks and found that at least two others did allow their customers to opt-out of such marketing. Now if only the Commissioner would reveal which banks respected their customers’ privacy and which decided […]


Comrade Sarbanes Remains Uncorrupted

The latest critic of Sarbanes-Oxley? Michael Oxley told the International Corporate Governance Network (ICGN) annual conference yesterday that, ‘if I had another crack at it, I would have provided a bit more flexibility for small- and medium-sized companies.’ Always nice to see a fellow own up to his mistakes. From Accountancy Age, via Volubis Infosec […]


Ping Flood

Over at Usable Security, Ping is blogging about the SOUPS conference, which I’m unfortunately missing. Alan Schiffman is also blogging a little. However, Ping is posting so much that his first posts today have already scrolled off the top of his blog. Who knew he’d invent a new denial of service attack?


Small Segments Stolen From Some People Surnamed "S"

The first two are from Scrivener, because he’s going on vacation, they’re good, and I’m shameless. “Iraq Swede vows to catch kidnappers, reports “The Local:” A Swede held hostage in Iraq for 67 days and released a month ago has vowed to take revenge on his captors and has hired bounty hunters to capture them, […]


Small Bits: Adam Sah on Startups, RECon, Irony and Biometrics

Adam Sah (hi Adam!) has a great page of startup advice I hadn’t seen before. Presentations from RECon are now online. The University of Connecticut will be offering a Masters in Homeland Security. That’s a database I’d like to steal. Thanks to Chris Walsh for pointing it out. I’ve been meaning to followup on Juxtaposition’s […]


Well Said!

“IRS announces plans to be the butt of three consecutive days of “Daily Show” jokes.” So headlines John Paczkowski’s post at Good Morning Silicon Valley.


Dear Gmail

Thank you so much for your recent letter, telling me that We’ve noticed that you haven’t used your Gmail account,, for quite some time. In order to make Gmail better for our users, we’ve added a lot of things in the last few months and we hope you’ll want to start using your account […]


"Dear Mastercard,"

Effective May 1, 2005, any compromise of my data will result in a $50 liability for you, the card issuer, owed to me, the card holder. Cashing the payment check I sent you last month (which you did) shall constitute your acceptance of this agreement. Subsequent security breaches will compound the fee. I will spell […]


Small Bits: Soviet Realism at DHS and in China, Going Public, Lameness, and Curves

Artiloop reports on a security poster on the Marc commuter trains. Its clearly the work of a thoughtcriminal, encouraging ironic responses. I want to heroically help plan the tractor factory. I’ve been meaning to discuss the Chinese blog crackdown, but instead I’ll just juxtapose it with Soviet Realism. The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled […]


Moxie CrimeFighter Jillette

Its all over the web that Penn Jillette and his wife Emily have named their new baby Moxie CrimeFighter. I’m sorta disappointed that they didn’t go all the way, and name her “Moxie CrimeFighter™ Jillette, a member of the Jillette family of people.”


Darth Vader Doesn't Use a Keyboard

But if he did, he’d be all over the new Das Keyboard, in pure modernist black, without any decoration, like letters printed on the keys. Because sometimes you just need to signal that you’re so…ummm….cool…that you don’t need letters on the keys. (Via Daring Fireball, who points out that it’s “marketed to “übergeeks” who might […]


The Force Is Strong In This One.

I don’t know if it was better than A New Hope or The Empire Strikes Back. It was certainly better than I or II by a long margin. More on the politics after I’ve seen it several more times, and perhaps slept.


This Will Be A Day Long Remembered

It has become cliche to go on about how Greedo shooting first nearly destroyed Episode IV. For characters not to mature and grow through the course of Star Wars makes it just an action flick. But what makes Star Wars truly great is the conflict within Anakin Skywalker. And tonight’s episode is all about Anakin. […]


Cool Music

While denying being a member of the ruling class, Asteroid points to some pretty cool music, including DJ Earworm, which helped me track down another site Asteroid mentioned: DJ Cal, at, whose “Hendrix vs Jackson – Foxy Jean Haze” is a masterpiece.


MBP On Impatience

Martin Pool, whose blog lacks a comment facility, quotes a history of Windows NT: The first two weeks of development were fairly uneventful, with the NT team using Microsoft Word to create the original design documentation… Finally, it was time to start writing some code. (I wish I’d seen this line a couple of days […]


Interim Pope

Normally, I try to avoid comment on religious matters, but I think its important to be aware that Samablog has taken the first step to becoming an anti-Pope by declaring himself Interim Pope. The blogosphere shall elect the next pope! Or something. We bloggers didn’t cause the Thirty Years war.


Small Bits: Canada, DNA, Microsoft and Tea

While publicly recalling their Ambassador over the brutal murder of Zahra Kazemi, the Canadian government was playing host to Iranian officials, looking for security information, reports the CBC: In dozens of e-mails, there is no mention of Kazemi, and no one questions why Canada would help Iran, considered by some to be a brutal police […]


Framing Effects & Law Reviews

Framing effects are what a variety of types of academics call the variety of contextual effects on perception. For example, six months ago, this laptop went for $4800, and now it’s just $3,500! Similarly, law reviews, where lawyers write for each other, are usually exceptionally long, from my perspective. And so we get Orin Kerr […]


Small Bits of Chaos: Anonymity, Citizenship

Ed Felten summarizes Wendy Seltzer’s comments on the NYT “Open Wifi is evil” article: “anonymous sources claim anonymity is evil.” The Department of Citizenship amends their terms and conditions. (Via Michael Froomkin.)


Small Bits: Hell, TSA, Insurance, Mutual Funds, Telephone Privacy

Asteroid analyzes Sisyphean volunteers and the modern condition in a brilliant essay. It just goes to show, the Greeks really did invent everything. Robert Poole and Jim Harper debate the TSA in “Transportation Security Aggravation” at Reason. Tyler Hamilton looks at two schemes to cut your auto insurance premiums by monitoring your driving, and their […]


France Imitates Art, Stalin

Boing Boing comments on a French stamp with an airbrushed picture of Sarte, sans cigarette. However, the French are way behind on this. Uncle Sam led the way in airbrushing cigarettes, but not people, out of pictures, as these two images of blues pioneer Robert Johnson show. The Honolulu Star got a great quote from […]


Alec Muffet on ID Cards

Alec Muffet provides the best way I’ve seen to get people to take up National ID Cards: Loyalty points. He claims to be kidding, but I’ve already picked up a dozen citizenship points by turning him in for Mocking the Crown. That brings me nearly halfway to an upgraded room next time I’m in the […]


Small Bits of Chaos: Advertising and The Gulag Evolution

Scrivner points out that the Golden Palace is winning all bids to advertise on people’s bodies, and asks “What is all this telling us? Ummm, Scrivner, it’s telling us…Visit Golden Palace! These foxes are being bred for tameness by scientists in Siberia. (I hope that URL is resilient?) I guess that’s what happens when you’re […]


Google, Flat Earthers?

I visited, and tried going east from the default view. A press of the “right” button seems to move you about 1,500 miles east. A second press takes you, err, nowhere. Another 16 or so clicks should be bringing you to the West coast of the US, but no luck. (25000 miles/1500 miles per […]


Small Bits of Chaos: Conferences and What Would Dylan Do?

This Concealled I conference in Ottawa March 4-5 looks really good. Bob Dylan joins the cypherpunks in skipping Woodstock for his trig homework: “I wouldn’t even think about playing music if I was born in these times… I’d probably turn to something like mathematics.” (NME, via Scrivner.) Who did this: Privacy Enhancing Technologies, May 30-June […]


Small Bits: Research, Web Security, Saturn's Moon

Uncle Sam is trying to restrict basic research. This approach comes from such a foreign orientation I’m not even going to comment. Jerimiah Grossman has an article on easy things to do to protect your locally developed application. I still think you should look at your code, but that’s still unfortunately expensive and difficult. Finally, […]


Small Bits of Chaos: Blind overflows, National ID, and Looney Tunes

SecurityFocus has a new article on blind buffer overflows. I’m glad these techniques are being discussed in the open, rather than in secret. Julian Sanchez has the perfect comment on Congressman Dreier’s new national ID plan, at Hit & Run. And finally, don’t visit this Looney Tunes site if you’re busy. (Via Steven Horowitz at […]


Students for an Orwellian Society

These heroic students have made many sacrifices in the name of IngSoc. They stand as a stirring example to us all. They have denounced the crimes of Davis Sos, who promised over 100 IngSoc posters, but have shirked their duty, and squandered the money provided to them. Those students are now hard at work being […]


Giving New Meaning to "You Can't Get There From Here"

Microsoft MapPoint helpfully suggests this scenic route from Haugesund, Rogaland, Norway to Trondheim, Sør-Trøndelag, Norway, when asked for the quickest. This route may well be the quickest that includes England, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, and Sweden. James Tyre (who credits David Flint) told Eugene Volokh.


Ban Windows, Not Cell Phones

Scrivner has another great post, this one to a study at Virginia Commonwealth University. (My link is to the study, not the press summary Scrivner links.) The press summary claims that rubbernecking accounts for 16% of accidents, looking at scenery or landmarks 10%, while cell phones account for only 5%. Clearly the answer is to […]


Small Bits of Chaos

Much as I hate blogging anything from Slashdot, Why the Space Station Almost Ran Out of Food is great. (The previous crew had permission to borrow the current crews’ food, but didn’t record how much they’d eaten.) Maybe they could get jobs working for the Social Security administration. John McWhorter has a new book out, […]


Quick Links

Cory points to another example of anti-consumer activity, this time Apple disabling the high quality audio-in on the ipod. How to fix it at Hack-a-day. Also via Hack-a-day is the paper Enigma machine Scrivner discovers that Uncle Sam admits to cooking the books, in a way that the SEC would never tolerate from a public […]


Congratulations to Mozilla

I’ve always believed that my readers are smarter and better looking than average, and now I have proof. Yesterday, for the first time, over half (50.3%) of the visitors to this site were using Mozilla or Firefox. (As summarized by AWStats.)     Browsers Grabber Hits Percent Mozilla No 10308 31.4 % Unknown ? 9786 […]


What Did Fox TV Know and When Did They Know It?

Scrivener has an interesting post about an episode of ‘Family Guy’ that shows Osama bin Laden bypassing airport security with a song and dance routine. “This was all quite amusing in 2000. Does it mean anything in retrospect? You decide.”


Good Old Fashioned Cooking

Julie, formerly of the Julie/Julia project, has an article in Archaeology on how to cook like the ancients. There are also recipies. Unfortunately, Mongolian Lamb Liqour is (as presented) less interesting than it sounds. (Via Samablog.)


People Will Sign Anything

Doug Barnes has a great reciept on You Must Be Present To Win. [Update: Gosh, I wish I’d said something insightful here. Stay a minute, read the rest of my ramblings!]


Quickies has an interesting article about taxes and your phone company. Any article that starts with an error about how long ago the Spanish American war took place is a little worrisome, but I love watching badly written law becoming irrelevant. Stefan Geens has a great article taking a simple question and exploring the math […]


Google Groups, Privacy and Spam

Writing to Farber’s Interesting People list, Lauren Weinstein writes: Their new system is obscuring *all* e-mail addresses in *all* netnews messages in the archive (including the vast numbers of messages that do not originate within the Google environment and/or that predate the existence of Google Groups). This includes not only the addresses of individual netnews […]


Eating their own dogfood

In a move that surprises no one, the screensaver that Lycos created to target spammers has been used to target Lycos. The screensaver was designed to launch a DOS attack against sites that are known for their spamming techniques. (From Chris Richardson at SecurityProNews via Mort. See the ZDNet UK article for more details.)


Cool bug!

I believe this is a bug in Netnewswire, and will be reporting in there in just a second, but it’s so pretty I wanted to share it. Note the menubar has gone transparent, but is still readable. It looks way cool this way. Maybe someone will find a hook in the OS to allow us […]


The death of marketing…

John Lebkowsky comments that he’s being paid to blog by “Marqui.” The first two headlines on their web site sums it all up: MARKETING IS IN A STATE OF CRISIS! Watch the demo (5 minutes) I have to spend 5 minutes figuring out how you distinguish yourselves as a marketing company? Sheesh.



SteveC, whose comments are broken, says: “wikinews is demoing here. When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. I can’t wait for wiki… wiki… wikigovernment. Or something. We could all edit the laws. yay!” Me, I want WikiAirlineSchedules.


Evidence based…cooking

The curiosity that fueled the experiments in Mr. McGee’s first book is undiminished after 20 years, and his approach to cooking is still skeptical. He tries to take as little as possible for granted, asking at each step: Why am I doing this? Is there a better way? All this questioning has yielded conclusions, some […]


Secretly admired blogs

Discovered a bunch of friends’ blogs today: You Must Be Present to Win (Doug Barnes), Creative Destruction (Sameer), Evil Geniuses For A Better Tomorrow (Jim McCoy, from whom I stole the “Most Evil Genius” gag title I used while at Zero-Knowledge).


Big mother is watching

Great cartoon at Ok/Cancel. [Update: The image doesn’t fit on a lot of browsers with my CSS so its now just a link.]


The height of logic

“The question was, why do I support a strong dollar policy? The answer is because it is our policy,” [US Treasury secretary John] Snow said. “Our dollar policy remains unchanged because a strong dollar is in both the national and international interest.” He pledged to curb the US massive budget deficit – but said the […]


Rushed Security

Samablog, irked that Rush has stolen his joke, explains that you can get at all of Rush’s $7 a month content, just by turning off all the scripting stuff in your browser. He then goes on to say: “What it says that a celebrity of Limbaugh’s stature keeps his site so insecure, I don’t know.” […]


Garbage In…

There’s a post over at BoingBoing, laughing at some poor software transcription of Jabberwocky. Hello? What do you expect? The poem is full of nonsense words. If my speech recognition program starting putting brilling and slithy toves in my text, I’d be pissed off. So of course it gets this wrong. C’mon, folks, you want […]


New Software

Thanks to our industrious sysadmin, we have a new rev of MT in place. It’s much more aggressive about weeding comments, so what you say won’t show up instantly. If your real comment doesn’t show up, please drop me a note. And please, do leave comments. Even if it’s against your better judgement. (Yes, I’m […]


More maps

Bigpicture has put up 11 map links, some of which are very cool. I really like the parallel maps of 2000 vs 2004. (If you use Safari, with its transparent drag, you can produce your own overlay maps!) I also like the county-by-county maps, they’re elegant. Not so good is the chartjunk map from the […]


Return Addresses

Canada Post has apparently told the world that they’ll only deliver mail with a return address. This is clearly silly, phone books are full of valid return addresses for your city. Over at StupidSecurity, nrh asks: Part of the reason I delayed was that I was trying to find out if this was even legal. […]


Obfuscated Voting Redux

No, not the elections, silly, the contest! And now the results are up, and it seems that Michal Zalewski is in the lead.


Regulate that Arbirtrage!

An update on the Americans Stream to Canada For Flu Shots story: In eight days 3,800 people have jumped on the ship and paid their $105. Victoria Clipper’s Managing Director said the company had not expected there would be such a massive take up. The company says the day trips still continue, but the number […]


DHS Inspector Report

According to a new report from the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general, airport screeners still Need Improvement. That will not come as a surprise to anyone who travels, but some of the details, as reported by A.P., are still disturbing: -Screeners aren’t tested on when they should pat down passengers and what the passengers’ […]


Query Address

The Little Brother’s Database, an addressbook program, includes a tool, ABQuery, that allows you to look inside the Mac’s address book from the command line. (Via


Howard Stern vs. Michael Powell

Michael Powell was on the Ronn Owens show. 15 minutes into the show, Howard Stern calls in. Listen here. As Sama says, Stern is an unfortunate advocate for free speech. But its nice to hear someone directly challenge America’s censor. (Via BoingBoing.)


What a Great Review

NudeCybot sent me a link to an interesting looking book on “Sorting Things Out.” I found this review resonated with how I often feel reading academic work: This tragic book is full of important ideas and significant research, but it’s so poorly written you hardly notice. Other reviews kindly describe its style as “academic,” but […]


Efficient Markets and Prediction

In a post below, I quoted my friend Craig commenting on the differences between election sites and the IEM. Steven Landsburg had previously commented privately that IEM together with TradeSports is inefficient. By playing one against the other you could make money on either likely outcome of the election. So, if these markets were efficient, […]


"Television cameras captured the moment the Cuban leader fell"

Unfortunately, the BBC is simply reporting on him falling over, not on his 45 year dictatorship being toppled, the Cuban people gaining a measure of self-determination, or the freedom to speak one’s mind: A few blocks away, a 27-year-old man who didn’t want to give his real name, had some advice for the only president […]


So Cynical, I Wish I'd Thought of It.

My friend Craig Sauer wrote: In the spirit of the equal time, here’s what’s keeping me from being optimistic about Kerry’s chances: The Iowa Electronic Markets. You’ll have to read on the site to get the real skinny, but basically, the IEM is a real-money futures market where people make informed “bets” about who is […]


Neal Stephenson at /.

In order to set her straight, I had to let her know that the reason she’d never heard of me was because I was famous. … Mind you, much of the authority and seniority in that world is benevolent, or at least well-intentioned. If you are trying to become a writer by taking expensive classes […]


"I do not approve"

Alex Tabarrok writes: The headline in the Washington Post yesterday read “FDA Approves Artificial Heart for Those Awaiting Transplant.” The language annoys me – it sounds as if the FDA gave a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval to the artificial heart. Consider how much clearer the tradeoffs of medical policy would be if instead the […]


Polite Technology

Michael Froomkin points to Wired’s article Inventor Rejoices as TVs Go Dark, is enough to make me want a TV-B-Gone. It fits on your keychain, “looks like an automobile remote, has just one button. When activated, it spends over a minute flashing out 209 different codes to turn off televisions, the most popular brands first.” […]


Obfuscated Voting Contest

There’s a long running contest to write C code that’s hard to understand. Daniel Horn has taken it one step further–the goal is to write a program that looks right, but actually produces bogus counts in on of several ways. It’s brilliant!


Tied With Alec M.

This site has a Wankometer rating of .58, which is exactly the same level that Alec Muffet got. The white house (1.40) is apparently more wanky than the BBC, but less wanky than Sun. The George Bush and John Kerry for President sites score .63 and 1.83, respectively. I can’t believe Alec is nearly as […]


Perverse Incentives

“It’s O.K. to spend $85 on a hotel, $15 for parking and another $15 for breakfast, but if you spend $90 for a hotel where parking and breakfast are included, you’re over budget,” he said. “And it’s O.K. to drive 400 miles in your own car and to get reimbursed at 34 cents per mile, […]


A Million Deaths Is A Statistic

Matt Cordes modified the Zombie simulators to give humans a chance to fight back. Its fascinating, because with some small mods to the source, you get a much more interesting simulation. (Unfortunately, I don’t see Matt’s source anywhere, so I can’t say how long it might have taken.) The simulation makes viscerally clear how chains […]


Shaun of the Dead

I saw the excellent Shaun of The Dead last night. (Or see Quicktime trailers or the official site. Or heck, just buy it from where it’s already available on DVD, but only if you have a free-world DVD player. Ok, really this post is an excuse to link to the Zombie Infection Simulation in […]


A message from God?

Bob Morris maps hurricanes Ivan, Charley, and Frances against voter maps. (No mention of Jeanne, which seems to have taken the same path as Frances. Enquiring minds want to know, is this that Bob Morris?


Travel, Speaking Plans in October

I’m speaking at the Atlanta Chapter of the High Tech Crime Investigative association, October 11th, on a “Privacy Industry View of Reducing Cybercrime.” This is an extended version of Zero-Knowledge’s talk we gave to law enforcement. I’m speaking at the Inaugural Security Leadership conference, in Arlington, Texas on the 19th, on “Beyond Penetrate, Patch and […]


Appreciating Shakespeare

Recently, I found myself wondering why Hamlet had never gotten a proper treatment in Powerpoint. After another drink, I took it apon myself to remedy the situation.