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 of random events interacting are dependent on initial conditions. So some advice to those about to be plagued by zombies:

  1. Don’t Panic — This remains excellent advice. If you panic, you can’t fight, and become zombie food.
  2. Fight back early. When there are only a few zombies, you actually have a good chance of stopping them.
  3. Keep your zombies contained. If this means sealing off areas, do it. The cornered folks will fight better, and the rest of you can play whack-a-zombie as they move through narrow spaces.
  4. Consider getting a copy of The Zombie Survival Guide

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 Amazon.co.uk 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 Java and Proce55ing. Processing is an interesting app which is being pretty widely used to make interesting information exploration tools. Zombie infections of a city are just the tip of the iceberg!

That settles it

One of the best signs that things are going down the tubes is that officialdom tries to control information flow.

I now know that things in Iraq are officially going to hell, because the security situation is bad enough that they’re trying to prevent people from learning about it.

Kroll, a large physical and investigative security company, has been producing situation reports for USAID. They’re now to be restricted in their distribution to the thousands of Americans who work in Iraq.

Amit Yoran resigns

Amit Yoran, a former software executive from Symantec Corp., informed the White House about his plans to quit as director of the National Cyber Security Division and made his resignation effective at the end of Thursday, effectively giving a single’s day notice of his intentions to leave.

Yoran said Friday he ”felt the timing was right to pursue other opportunities.” It was unclear immediately who might succeed him even temporarily. Yoran’s deputy is Donald ”Andy” Purdy, a former senior adviser to the White House on cybersecurity issues.

(From The Boston Globe.)

Why Is Air Travel So Cheap?

The cost of last minute ticket doesn’t seem to be enough for airlines to break even.

How much of this is due to a lingering fear of flying? How much of it is the extra cost to travelers, in inconvenience and hassle, of being bit players on the security stage?

As long as a carrier is flying a route, it makes sense to fill as many seats as possible, even for $5, because the airline has high fixed costs, and low marginal costs. (Assuming that they don’t bring up new gate personnel or flight crew for a busy flight. If they do, then the bottom price for a ticket is higher.) Now, they don’t want to sell $5 tickets because if they do, then no one will pay $200 for the ticket. It’s framing effects. But costs are clearly too low, long term, for airlines to survive.

But I’m curious. Does our color-coded alert system, people pawing through bags, and all the rest of it has a measurable economic impact?


I’ve realized recently that I have no real idea of what’s happening in Iraq. On the one hand, we have bubbly optimists like Chrenkoff. On the other, people like Wall St Journal reporter Farnaz Fassihi, whose email is getting wide circulation.

The Iraqi bloggers I read (generally) sound more optimistic than despairing, which is good. It’s clear to me that the US needs to stay the course, as bad as that may well become, because pulling out would be an unmitigated disaster. Al Qaeda got a huge boost from the (US backed) Islamist victory over the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Withdrawing from Iraq would give them another huge boost, even if they’ve lost in Afghanistan to the US.

(From Editor and Publisher on Fassihi, via BoingBoing.)

[Update: several people have asked, how can you believe that “it’s anything but *cked up over there?” My answer is reading the Iraqi blogs, it just doesn’t seem that what they’re witnessing is either the doom and gloom of the left wing press, or the sunshine of the right-wing press. Its really hard for me to judge what’s really going on at any sort of macro level.]

Nevada Gaming Commission vs. Diebold

It’s always good to see our best resources being applied to the most important things in society, like voting. The “independant” validation, paid for by the software creators, is closed to the public. But when the Nevada Gaming Commission gets into the act, it seems they know a scam when they see one. (Disclaimer: I voted in that Defcon study, but have no evidence my vote was counted.)

For more information, see the Black Box Voting book page, Avi Rubin’s site, or Rebecca Mercuri’s site. Dr. Mercuri was the first one I know of to start beating this drum, and we owe her a vote of thanks.

[Update: The story isn’t actually new. I’d heard Nevada was requiring audit trails, but hadn’t heard it was the NGC that was responsible until Randal Schwartz pointed it out to me. (I’d link to the message, but it hasn’t been through moderation yet.)]

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 Pray,” which is a new talk that I haven’t put online yet.

I’ll be attending (but not speaking at) Phreaknic in Nashville, on the 22nd and 23rd.