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Translucent Databases

timothy posted more than 12 years ago | from the when-muddle-is-useful dept.

Encryption 70

Hettinga writes: "Through many popular books and articles in the New York Times, Peter Wayner has done more to promote the field of applied financial cryptography, and in particular open source financial cryptography, than any other author writing today. His new book, Translucent Databases, from Flyzone Press, is no exception." Read on for the rest of the review.

Translucent Databases has all the hallmarks of Wayner's books: clear, easy to read exposition of the main issues, why they're important, and, in his technical books, excellently documented code written for the most popular platforms for the technology in question.

This book in particular should be an instant classic because like all great books, it takes what should be a very simple idea, encrypted databases, and expands it to some amazing conclusions.

For a long time now, I've been interested in what I call the geodesic economy, where all information, including information controlling financial assets, is fractally "surfacted", like so much grease in soapy dishwater, as far out into the edges of a ubiquitous internetwork as Moore's Law will allow, using financial cryptography protocols to secure transactions and markets on a nominally insecure, but ubiquitous, public internetwork.

People who are familiar with my thinking about such things over the past 8 years will see quite quickly why I think Peter's new book is so important. Transparent databases represent a way not only to link the batch-settled, book-entry debit-for-credit world of modern financial operations with a more simply founded, but much more sophisticated world which uses cryptographic tokens representing control of various financial and real assets. They also show us how to actually account for those tokens in such a fashion that every financial actor in that market, man or machine, can trust that their bearer certificates are authentic ones, and done in such a fashion that a given token retains its cryptographic integrity, including the functionally anonymous characteristics that made it so cheap to use in the first place.

The singular feature of Wayner's translucent databases is that, like internet bearer transactions themselves, the cryptography securing data in them can happen in the client, and not a centrally vulnerable server. More to the point, by using data stored in this fashion, the data can be dispersed as far out in the network as... well, Moore's Law allows, in extremely fast and lightweight files, and, instead of creating summaries of data for reports, the data can be polled for as close to its source as possible, instantaneously, in realtime, instead of being rolled up into increasingly larger batch-processed summaries taking weeks, sometimes months, to produce and audit.

There are obvious implications for my own particular hobby-horses, like anonymous but accurate double spend databases for bearer transactions, where only a simple blinded m-of-n cryptographic hash of a given promise to pay is necessary to prevent the duplication of that promise to more than one person at a time. However, for the rest of us :-), Wayner also points to a whole host of much less esoteric applications in the lots of the usual places where absolute privacy and extremely authentic information, is at a premium. Examples for military, medical, and anti-rape databases, for accounting systems and securities transactions, and even for internet poker -- the paradigm of completely untrusted parties cooperating for what each player hopes will be his own, preferrably cash, benefit -- are all presented in clear writing and running code.

There has been a lot of lip-service in the privacy community about "owning" your own data. Unfortunately, by involving the state at all, these "advocates" almost always favor inadvertantly draconian political solutions to the problem presented by the ubiquity of database technology and its otherwise beneficial presense in our lives. They ususally present this nonsense as a "sacrifice" for the "greater good" that would make Hayek's Road to Serfdom look like Lilac Sunday at the local arboretum.

In Translucent Databases, Wayner shows, in precise detail, with code, how to solve that problem, without trusting lawyers, much less guys with guns.

Though quite a short read, the scope of the book itself is quite considerable. Wayner starts from simple hashes of data to merely obscure it, through various kinds of encryption, quantization of data, and even accounting with encrypted data using what amounts to virtual cumulative crossfoots like the kind you would see on all good accounting reports. In so doing, Wayner explains, quite simply, something that people like Eric Hughes made great, complicated hay out of years ago with gangling theories of encrypted "open" books.

Ultimately, Wayner really does end up where a lot of us think databases will be someday, particularly in finance: repositories of data accessible only by digital bearer tokens using various blind signature protocols, neatly, and quite literally, "dis-integrating" the ability of databases to be used against us as a tool of totalitarianism, exemplified most recently by Simpson Garfinkel in his book Database Nation , and, oddly enough, not because someone or other wants to strike a blow against the empire, but simply because it's safer -- and cheaper -- to do that way.

Every database programmer should have a copy of this simple and elegant book on his reference bookshelf. Particularly if he cares about the integrity of his data, the liability to the database's owner should information be misappropriated, and, not least, about freedom itself in a world of ubiquitous, and, frankly, necessary, stored detail: details about practically every person on earth, their property and finances, and, ultimately, everything they do.

Translucent Databases presents a simple, frankly beautiful, solution to David Brin's world of ubiquitous surveillance, one not requiring, as Brin seems to want, "trust" of state force-monopolists, much less their lawyers and apparatchiks.

In fact, it's such an elegant solution that, as Schopenhauer liked to say about the public acceptance of important new ideas, soon enough, people will say it was obvious all along.

Robert Hettinga is founder of IBUC, the Internet Bearer Underwriting Corporation, which will, hopefully, someday, :-), use translucent databases full of internet bearer certificates to reduce transaction costs by three orders of magnitude. You can purchase Translucent Databases through the publisher. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to submit yours, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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Transparent? Translucent? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3778924)

You're all GAY more like!

Fist Sport!

Re:Transparent? Translucent? (-1)

News For Turds (580751) | more than 12 years ago | (#3778947)

I hereby claim this FP for the CLIT.

u r teh sux

Re:Transparent? Translucent? (-1)

cyborg_monkey (150790) | more than 12 years ago | (#3779312)

Good to claim it for CLIT, but..

u r teh gey

Yodaish? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3778972)


Re:Transparent? Translucent? (-1)

YourMissionForToday (556292) | more than 12 years ago | (#3780393)

have you ever smelled a database? It doesn't smell half bad!

Re:Transparent? Translucent? (0, Offtopic)

bayard.jr (588761) | more than 12 years ago | (#3781124)


Transparent or Translucent.... (2, Interesting)

HowlinMad (220943) | more than 12 years ago | (#3778930)

they seem to be calling it both.

Re:Transparent or Translucent.... (2)

peterwayner (266189) | more than 12 years ago | (#3779724)

Translucent. Apparently a typo.

2nd! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3778948)

2nd! Post.. Someday.. Someday i'll be first..

Re:2nd! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3778961)

no you wont.

you are (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3778953)

so shallow your datbases are transparent.

You also are gay.

G to the oatse
C to the izzex
fo shizzle my nizzle and stfu i don't care what you have to say.

patents, patents, patents (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3778967)

I'm not a believer in them either - but the techniques described in this book are covered by existing patents - buyer/implementor beware.

Re:patents, patents, patents (-1)

l33t j03 (222209) | more than 12 years ago | (#3779214)

Thats why they had to buy this review / ad.

Re:patents, patents, patents (2)

peterwayner (266189) | more than 12 years ago | (#3780057)

Which ones? Can you point to ones in particular?

Re:patents, patents, patents (2)

peterwayner (266189) | more than 12 years ago | (#3780269)

Some of the more important patents are expired. RSA and Diffie-Hellman are long gone. Many of the other techniques are protected by prior art. The UNIX password database, for instance, is a great example of a basic translucent database. That's 20 to 30 years old.

I wouldn't be surprised if there are patents out there, but I hope people will point to the ones they're talking about.

I Can See it Now (2, Funny)

chef_raekwon (411401) | more than 12 years ago | (#3778987)

Oracle's take would be:


A Security Code ? (2, Funny)

Vought 28 (584320) | more than 12 years ago | (#3778991)

A Better way to encrypt data would be to translate it into the Indian Navahoe language, send it, and then re-translate at the other end. Plus it will provide many jobs for the Indians.

Re:A Security Code ? (1)

idfrsr (560314) | more than 12 years ago | (#3779022)

Ok so what is Navahoe for 1?
ok, 0?

Re:A Security Code ? (2)

BadDoggie (145310) | more than 12 years ago | (#3779157)

It would probably be "A-LA" or "A-LAH" [] [*]. Chances are this is one of the few words in Navajo that someone untrained can actually pronounce.


[*] Please, no lame religious jokes.

Re:A Security Code ? (1)

carlos_benj (140796) | more than 12 years ago | (#3779484)

Ok so what is Navahoe for 1?

A tribal people who primarily eat a tuberous root called a potatoe.

Re:A Security Code ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3779285)

ahem, Natives.

Transgender database (0, Offtopic)

jhampson (580482) | more than 12 years ago | (#3778995)

select * from sexo_changeo order by gheyness desc go name gheyness ------------------ cmdrtaco 100 cowboyneal 99.9

Re:Transgender database (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3779098)

Haha, troll outed. I bet you meant to post that anonymously. You dumbass prick!

Re:Transgender database (0)

jhampson (580482) | more than 12 years ago | (#3779277)

naw. just making a funny.
i'm sorry that i forgot the html line breaks though.

OpenProjects is dying (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3779024)

It is official; [] confirms: OPN [] is dying

One more crippling bombshell hit the already beleaguered OPN community when confirmed that OPN market share has dropped yet again, now down to less than a fraction of 1 percent of all servers. This news serves to reinforce what we've known all along. OPN is collapsing in complete disarray.

You don't need to be a Kreskin to predict OPN's future. The hand writing is on the wall: OPN faces a bleak future. In fact there won't be any future at all for OPN because OPN is dying. Things are looking very bad for OPN. As many of us are already aware, OPN continues to lose market share. Red ink flows like a river of blood.

Let's keep to the facts and look at the numbers.

In the past month, OPN has lost 3 servers. With the current count of 29 servers, it will logically be 9 months until there are no servers remaining at all. Obviously, the network will probably survive slightly longer than this; it may even drag on for a whole extra year, crawling along like an undead corpse.

Network operator lilo also faces a bleak future. With his rapidly deteriorating financial situation and crucial position to the running and future of the network, it is only a matter of weeks before he is forced to leave and OPN descends into anarchy and chaos without a leader.

Fact: OPN is dying

Which is the correct title? (2)

Goronguer (223202) | more than 12 years ago | (#3779025)

Is it "Transparent Databases" or "Translucent Databases"??

Re:Which is the correct title? (1)

Hettinga (196924) | more than 12 years ago | (#3781197)

Doh! It's translucent, of course. Proofread once, post once, as they always say. I tried to retract for a rewrite, but, well, you know how it is...

My $0.02 (2, Interesting)

dknj (441802) | more than 12 years ago | (#3779033)

This book contains an innovative and viable approach to securing databases, and one that I've not encountered anywhere else. In a nutshell the author provides techniques, based on standard SQL and Java, for securing sensitive data without restricting general access of less sensitive data to authorized users. The core of this approach is based on encryption and one-way functions, including PKI and secure hashing, and accepted authentication techniques such as digital signatures.

What makes this book unique is that while it's based on solid theoretical ground, the material is practical. As the techniques are discussed they are illustrated by 15 different scenarios, all of which contain problems faced by e-commerce and other high security environments, and code examples that show how to solve the problems. I like the way the author shows how to implement his solutions in common database environments (PostgreSQL, MySQL and Oracle - the approach should also work in the MS SQL Server environment). As I read this book I saw interesting possibilities for implementing role-based access controls and securing against SQL-based statistical attacks using the author's approach.

This book is essential reading for DBAs and system architects and IT security professionals. This book shows the DBA how to secure his or her database, and the system architects and security professionals what is possible using SQL and Java. The book also has an associated web site which is supposed to have soft copies of all of the source code contained in the book. As of 6/25/02 the link to the source code is on the site, but the code itself is not yet available. When it is the value of this book will increase even more because of the time it will save by not having to manually create the code from scratch.

If you are new to the cryptographic techniques introduced in this book I recommend "Cryptography Decrypted" by H. X. Mel and Doris M. Baker, which is one of the best introductions to this complex subject. I also recommend reading "Secrets and Lies: Digital Security in a Networked World" by Bruce Schneier, which covers the technical, organizational and social aspects of security and gives a clear description of the technical underpinnings discussed in this book.


Re:My $0.02 (4, Informative)

BRO_HAM (543601) | more than 12 years ago | (#3779361)

If you're gonna just stal a review from, at least change it around a little. ref=pd_ecc_rvi_2/104-3271084-7717539

Re:My $0.02 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3779512)

Parent is a review-thief: [] for the click.

Nice way to steal someone elses review. Someone please mod the thief down.

Re:My $0.02 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3779571)

It saves you a click, i don't think the parent post is wrong here

Re:My $0.02 (2)

WebMasterJoe (253077) | more than 12 years ago | (#3780941)

Yes, he stole the review from Amazon [] . But apparently this guy does everything half-assed - look at his website [] ! Real geeks don't need parsed PHP script, we just read the source!!

Alan Thicke DEAD (-1)

Alan_Thicke (553655) | more than 12 years ago | (#3779040)

I just heard the sad news on CBC radio. Comedy actor/writer Alan Thicke was found dead in his home this morning. Even if you never liked his work, you can appreciate what he did for 80's television. Truly a Canadian icon. []
He will be missed :(

Show me That Smile (The Growing Pains Theme Song):

Show me that smile again.
Ooh show me that smile.
Don't waste another minute on your crying.
We're nowhere near the end.
We're nowhere near.
The best is ready to begin.

As long as we got each other
We got the world
Sitting right in our hands.
Baby rain or shine;
All the time.
We got each other
Sharing the laughter and love.

The Law of Sucking Money Out Of My Wallet (1)

dubiousmike (558126) | more than 12 years ago | (#3779043)

"as far out into the edges of a ubiquitous internetwork as Moore's Law will allow"

After all, we can't have all of us NOT buying new, more powerful boxes.

At least my spell check can run 2000 times faster than I need it to.

Yes, I know the reviewer is speaking of servers pushing the limits, but we all get screwed, i mean the benefit of buying new boxes at new speeds.

I equate it to buying a Porche to be used as a taxi.

To me, a real technological inovation would be to create new software (and DBs) that run better and faster on existing equiptment and not force everyone to buy the latest and greatest.

I guess I'm not the biggest fan of planned obsolecense (like my 8-bit Nintendo).

Just my 1 cent.

Actually, some algorithms in the book unsuck (4, Interesting)

peterwayner (266189) | more than 12 years ago | (#3780335)

You make great points. There's no reason for innovation to keep sucking money out of your wallet. I think some of the techniques in the books will definitely take more cycles, but many of them won't.

The first, and most important point to remember, is that many of the cycles on your machine are going to waste. While you're reading Slashdot, the CPU is doing basic maintenance. Even the basic Pentium does little after the page is rendered. All of these cycles can be put to use.

Java applets are great (okay pretty good) technology that can put those cycles to work. The book uses Java so any developer can easily take their code and push it out to the user's machine. The same code runs on either the server or the client.

The code on the client is even more secure. It can do all of the encryption at the local machine and scramble the data before it hits the web. Voila. The server has less work and the client's wasted cycles are put to work.

Many of the other techniques in the book can make databases more efficient. It's hard to say how much, but it's important to remember that cryptographically secure hash functions like MD5 or SHA are also plain old hash functions. They do a good job of distributing the values. If you're using a hash function, the values in the column are very evenly distributed making binary search faster and more efficient. This might not be a big deal, but it's a step in the right direction.

Of course, some of the techniques just suck computations. Sorry. But if you need the security, they're there for you.

This book is a good read (0, Troll)

PhysicsGenius (565228) | more than 12 years ago | (#3779047)

(btw, the Slashdot headline is wrong)

This book is awesome. It shows in practical detail how one could go about ridding society of ills such as racism, sexism and terrorism simply by making visible all the details of what bills you pay and how you structure your XML. He has taken the "information wants to be free" paradigm to it's logical limit and found that, while the transition might be a little painful, a Big Brother society is totally workable, at least for the majority.

Great work!

Anal Cox's greatest hits: TROLLENPOLKA! by pwpbot (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3779056)

THE TROLL POLKA ARSCHFICKEN MIT ZIEGEN By Serial Troller slashdotorg das nicht ein early post Ja Das ist mein early postIs das nicht ein Goatse goatsecx ghost Ja Das ist mein Goatse goatsecx ghostEarly post Goatse goatsecx ghostOh du schdu schdu schsucksdas post at minus one Ja Das ist at minus oneIs das trolling so much fun Ja Das trolling is so funMinus one trolling funEarly post Goatse goatsecx ghostOh du schdu schdu schsucksdas nicht ein big crapflood Ja Das ist mein big crapfloodIs it worthless Linux FUD Ja Das ist mein Linux FUDBig crapflood Linux FUDMinus one trolling funEarly post Goatse goatsecx ghostOh du schdu schdu schsucksdas nicht der CowBoiKneel Ja Das ist der CowBoiKneelIs dis nicht his manchode meal Ja Das ist his manchode mealCowBoiKneel manchode mealBig crapflood Linux FUDMinus one trolling funEarly post Goatse goatsecx ghostOh du schdu schdu schsucksdas nicht ein WIPO Troll Ja Das ist der WIPO TrollIs das nicht ein Goatse goatsecx hole Ja Das ist der Goatse goatsecx holeWIPO Troll Goatse goatsecx holeCowBoiKneel manchode mealBig crapflood Linux FUDMinus one trolling funEarly post Goatse goatsecx ghostOh du schdu schdu schsucksdas nicht Jon Katzslave boys Ja Das ist Jon Katzslave boysUnd arenthey Tacosex toys Ja They are Tacosex toysKatzslave boys Robsex toysWIPO Troll Goatse goatsecx holeCowBoiKneel manchode mealBig crapflood Linux FUDMinus one trolling funEarly post Goatse goatsecx ghostOh du schdu schdu schsucksdas nicht ein trolltalk thread Ja Das ist ein trolltalk threadIs it nicht now FUCKING DEAD Ja Is really FUCKING DEADTrolltalk thread FUCKING DEADKatzslave boys Robsex toysWIPO Troll Goatse goatsecx holeCowBoiKneel manchode mealBig crapflood Linux FUDMinus one trolling funEarly post Goatse goatsecx ghostOh du schdu schdu schsucksChange Log Subtle changes to most verses It sounded really gay before Removed all references to Tacopud May have been high at time Will investigate furtherFinally think I have goat sex written correctly in German I think Arschficken2002 Serial Troller Permission to reproduce this document is granted provided that you send all the bukkake porn you can find to serialtrollerhotmailcom mailto


The Chocolate Chip Croissant (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3779075)

The Chocolate Chip Croissant [hereinafter refered to as
`c/3'] resides, splend'drous, in state as it were, an aura
of piquant expectancy filling the otherwise bleak landscape
with a tenuous veil of diffuse rococco blandishments
reminscent of a bygone Dali. Ruffling through the Power
Grass, bleating Vaughn Williams anthems to Itself, The
Sinuoid wreathes obliquely betwixt the ant-eaten AM-PM Mini
Market soft-serve ice cream cone and the nether buttress
upon seven of the like to which, the C/3 expresses inertia.
To nothing in Particular, a Voice as a flocculent zephyr
rises like heat on a New Mexico highway, mingling with
distorted gospel cassettes and the plaintive honking
burbles of Carlos "Spit-Key" Ayrton-Plinth, baring the
naked soul of his Selmer alto saxophone upon the
discriminate ear of the desert floor. "Spuck" It says.
Important Stuff:

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Try to reply to other people comments instead of starting new threads.
Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said.
Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about.
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Isn't a translucent database... (1, Funny)

elsegundo (316028) | more than 12 years ago | (#3779093)

some sort funky case mod?

Nice License :-) (4, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 12 years ago | (#3779094)

Anyone who purchases the book receives an unlimited license to use the source code from the examples on up to ten CPUs. If you have greater needs, other licenses are available. Or just buy another copy of the book.

Re:Nice License :-) (1)

scotfl (312954) | more than 12 years ago | (#3779169)

So a 20-way cluster would require two copies -- event in single user mode, ack.

I wonder if an emulator would count as a second CPU...

Re:Nice License :-) (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 12 years ago | (#3779380)

Lends new meaning to "Software Library", eh?

Re:Nice License :-) (3, Informative)

peterwayner (266189) | more than 12 years ago | (#3779483)

Or maybe only one if the code only runs on the server. It kind of depends where you run it. And to tell you the truth, you can recode it quickly and avoid all license costs. The examples are meant to be simple.

Re:Nice License :-) (2, Funny)

carlos_benj (140796) | more than 12 years ago | (#3779527)

unlimited license to use the source code from the examples on up to ten CPUs

Dang. I'm going to have to look up 'unlimited' now.

gay (-1)

neal n bob (531011) | more than 12 years ago | (#3779163)

this article is.

Book is by yesterday's Minority Report reviewer (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3779230)

Is someone at Slashdot really trying to flog this guy's book? It was mentioned at the bottom of his Minority Report review yesterday...

Re:Book is by yesterday's Minority Report reviewer (1)

Tucan (60206) | more than 12 years ago | (#3786528)

The guy who wrote the review of Minority Report is the guy who wrote the book. Nothing wrong with a little shameless plugging is there? Especially when it's relevant.

Translucent Technology is 3D Volume Holographic (-1, Offtopic)

geekster_2000 (580578) | more than 12 years ago | (#3779738)

Optical Storage Technology !!!

Space Propulsion Engine for Flying Saucer - New Physics

Rumor in Silicon Valley -

Inventor of 3D volume holographic optical storage
shopping his concept for Space Propulsion Engine
using Propellantless Mass to US and other countries.

for further look at biography background goto

He says he has researched all propulsion concepts at NASA, Lockheed,
Europe, Asia, and Russian Space Agencies and knows their technology
but he laughs when he thinks how well his technology will do next to
the present technology, there is no earthly comparison !

He is working in top secret and he says no physicist or scientist
he has ever studied or researched had this approach and knows his
concept will work to give near light speed travel thru Galaxy with
500K/Miles per Hour to start or 138 miles/sec. Nasa fastest time
are 25,000 mile/hr or 3.9 miles/sec

He says it is a mankind first concept !!

Who what where how -- give it a try (1, Flamebait)

rochlin (248444) | more than 12 years ago | (#3779746)

... I've been interested
... my thinking
... why I think
... my own particular hobby-horses

How about getting off that hobby-horse for a minute and simply describing EXACTLY what is in the book, what is not, and who (besides you) might be interested. I feel like I read a sermon, not a book review.

Re:Who what where how -- give it a try (2)

peterwayner (266189) | more than 12 years ago | (#3780362)

The book's website ( [] ) has an FAQ [] , the table of contents [] and more. Feel free to write me ( if you have more questions.

Rejected title (0, Offtopic)

bobtheprophet (587843) | more than 12 years ago | (#3779826)

Translucent Databases: Sex, Violence, and Intrigue in the Action Packed World of SQL

Can you smell KICKBACK? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3779913)

So, how much is slashdot getting for posting this inane glowing review? heh!

Re:Can you smell KICKBACK? (2)

peterwayner (266189) | more than 12 years ago | (#3781966)

Just for the record: nothing.

NY Times (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3780081)

Can we stop posting NY Times links? IMHO, I'm beginning to think that the Times owns Slashdot and forces the publishing team to post articles with Hyperlinks that lead to the NY times login screen!! come on! If you need to make a buck go sell off one of your kidneys instead of posting these NYTimes advertisments under the guise of a good story post.

Sure, this type of advertisment subterfuge has been around for quite a while, but the NYTimes ads are consistently up there! Is the times the only REAL source of news?

There's a smell that's lingering around this website and it seems to be getting stronger every time I visit. Probably just me - I'm not into throwing down all my personal information so I can see a fucking article.

I you want to preach to me about the rules of economics and why I shouldn't get something for nothing, well... save it! Fucks like you would climb over dead bodies to preach to what you consider the "ignorant masses" and in my mind, you're all of bunch of coporate sellouts that take the corporate line like a kid sucking on his mothers teat!

Fuck NYTimes and their far-reaching corporatist attitude !!

Opaque Databases (3, Insightful)

schmaltz (70977) | more than 12 years ago | (#3780117)

Wayner really does end up where a lot of us think databases will be someday, particularly in finance: repositories of data accessible only by digital bearer tokens using various blind signature protocols, neatly, and quite literally, "dis-integrating" the ability of databases to be used against us as a tool of totalitarianism
Yes, but this is Idealism 101. Is it really possible that today's monolithic financial institutions are going to allow their data to become decentralized in such a fashion? Don't count on it! In fact, the bones of this thoughtful and idealistic technology will be picked apart, and bastardized to do what they [] have always done, namely to make themselves more opaque. You need look no further than efforts like TCPA (Palladium, CBDTPA, et al) to know that totalitarianism is here, and will always survive in some form.

For the rest of us, yes, decentralized [] databases and open source financials, both for governments and public corporations, will hopefully rule the day.

Review circle-jerk (1)

SirRichardPumpaloaf (563323) | more than 12 years ago | (#3780227)

Will we get a review of IBUC by Stephen Spielberg tomorrow?

Re:Review circle-jerk (2)

peterwayner (266189) | more than 12 years ago | (#3780687)

Hey, you've got a point. What can I say? I sent the review of Minority Report in last Friday night. This is just how the queue dumped it out.

Unfortunately, the directions are pointed in the wrong way. I would be glad to give a great review to IBUC if it meant that Speilberg would buy the movie rights to Translucent Databases . :-) Boy that would be a snoozer.

Amazon link for Translucent Databases (2)

wdavies (163941) | more than 12 years ago | (#3780331)

Translucent Databases [] .

Its cheaper and more easily available at the publishers web site at $26.95 + $3.80 (S&H), rather than the amazon stock price of $29.95, but if you are buying more than $50 worth of stuff, Amazon is offering free shipping. I guess thisl ink is also useful if you want to limit your paypal usage. Amazon's availability is 10-12 days.


that takes guts! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3782374)

notice the URL on the link -- Mr. Poster wants to collect the Amazon referral on the sale. What a turdball.

Re:that takes guts! (1)

Hettinga (196924) | more than 12 years ago | (#3782968)

I had no idea that was what I was doing. All I did was look it up and post the URL. Honest. Accidental empire, that's me. :-).

Re:that takes guts! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3783175)

No. It wasn't you. It was the other guy. It's not your link. He was the one who posted his own Amazon link.

Brin went ballistic! (5, Informative)

SiliconEntity (448450) | more than 12 years ago | (#3780640)

Robert Hettinga's review described the new techniques as a solution to "David Brin's world of ubiquitous surveillance". Someone forwarded the review to Brin and he went ballistic!

Read his response here. [] The last thing David Brin wants to see is "translucent databases". He wants more openness and transparency, not less.

Re:Brin went ballistic! (3, Informative)

peterwayner (266189) | more than 12 years ago | (#3781742)

I can see why Hettinga wants to tweak Brin, but that wasn't the point of the book. The solutions are, according to the metaphor, translucent , so that makes them half-transparent. I think these are pretty good compromises that, in the right circumstances, let DBAs have their cake and eat it too. The personal information is scrambled, but the rest is left in the clear. Some forms of scrutiny are possible even if the personal information is cloaked. There are, for instance, some interesting algorithms for electronic voting that preserve secrecy while avoiding all of the problems we recently encountered in FLA.

It's a deep field and there's plenty of room for interpreting and reinterpreting the right amount of light to let through the window.

It's the indices stupid (2, Insightful)

mir@ge (25727) | more than 12 years ago | (#3782095)

I haven't read the book. But, I have worked a little on the problem of "encrypted databases". The issue I could never get my head around is indexing encrypted data in a meaningfull way. Large databases are practicle for retreiving data because we key off certain fields. In order for one to index those keys they must be readable by the database. If that data is encrypted it is not readable by the database and pretty much defeats the purpose of keeping it there. Does the author address this fundamental problem? I'd love to know how. After that everything is just gravy.

Re:It's the indices stupid (3, Informative)

peterwayner (266189) | more than 12 years ago | (#3782591)

One of the main ideas of the book is to just scramble the personal information but leave the impersonal information in the clear. So a store database might scramble the name and credit card number but leave the purchase information in the clear. The regular database operations work quickly on the items. The marketing department can figure out who bought how much of what. They can compute great stats. But they can't tell how much Bob Smith spent last month. So we get privacy and some efficiency. This is why it's translucent not opaque or transparent.

One of the other ideas explored in the book is blurring the data just the right amount. When this works, the sensitive data disappears but there's still enough information left around to do useful work. You can think of rounding off a person's age to be 30's, 40's or 50's instead of spelling it out. There are some better examples in the book about naval ships.

The techniques are far from perfect. Many of them aren't very new. They don't work for all situations. But I think they represent a different way of looking at the problem. The viewpoint may be the most novel part of the book.


Re:It's the indices stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3782909)

Encrypting the data is just applying a function to the data before storing it. To create an index, just encrypt the value you are searching for first, before matching against the index. Though this is still useless for range searches.

Translucent databases... (2)

d0n quix0te (304783) | more than 12 years ago | (#3782424)

Is that a database dressed in Apple's Aqua? Like FileMaker Pro or OpenBase both of which have a lickable Aqua interface with translucent menus and stuff... ;)

Transparent databases? (1)

User 956 (568564) | more than 12 years ago | (#3789398)

Didn't scotty provide the plans for that in Star Trek IV?
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