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German NSA Committee May Turn To Typewriters To Stop Leaks

bbasgen Security requires availability! (244 comments)

The core components of information security are often misunderstood. The triad of confidentiality, integrity and availability are important to consider. There is a symbiosis between these three components. For example, if confidentiality and availability is highly restrictive, can we really be confident in the integrity of the data with so few people who have such limited access?

The old adage, being so tragically expressed here in real world terms, that the only "secure" computer is locked in a vault at the bottom of an ocean belies the very nature of security. For data to be useful and meaningful, it must be accessible to the people who need it when they need it. Failure to properly deliver accessibility will consequently build pressure on confidentiality (e.g. it will be shared inappropriately) and/or data integrity (e.g. the data will grow stale/irrelevant/etc).

A typewriter is a medieval instrument for data security. Because they have rockets, they might as well start building castle walls. They are, in essence and by design, surrendering. Sun Tzu would be proud of such an adversary that could create this result. Masterful.

about 2 months ago

HUGO Winning Author Daniel Keyes Has Died

bbasgen That that is (66 comments)

Perhaps one of the more important works in the geek lexicon of art. The book and the film were very inspirational for me. For the first time as a child, I understood and could relate to that thing we have called pattern recognition. The moment in the film at the chalkboard was etched into my mind -- that that is is that that that is not is not is that it it is. Understanding the differences between people, and understanding them in their depths without glorification, is such a positive thing.

We are lucky to have art such as this and for all you old folks (over 30, naturally), ask the geek kids you work with or know to read the book or see the film. They may never have heard of it!

about 3 months ago

The Disappearing Universe

bbasgen Re:FTL or Wormhole Travel (358 comments)

Fair enough, but speak for yourself. I am going to live forever. :)

about 3 months ago

The Disappearing Universe

bbasgen Re:FTL or Wormhole Travel (358 comments)

Great post overall, just one comment:

It doesn't matter, it's just math(s), the end result is that we will never see that laser and we will never be able to reach that galaxy either.

Infinity and void are incredibly powerful concepts, but I don't think "never" is particularly useful, especially when describing a universe for which our body of knowledge is so incredibly limited.

about 3 months ago

The Disappearing Universe

bbasgen Re:Foolish (358 comments)

Math allows you to go to the centre of the Milky Way and back in a day....

Corrected that for you.

about 3 months ago

The Disappearing Universe

bbasgen Re:Not so quick (358 comments)

From every description I've heard of "dark energy" it sounds like a kind of place-filler variable for something--as in, "This equation only works if we put in X, but we have no idea what X is."

Physicists brought us the dark energy hypothesis, not mathematicians. This is an important distinction: dark energy is not used to solve an equation, rather it is a phenomenon that we can indirectly observe.

Black holes, Dark energy, Zero point energy -- there are so many nascent concepts that hint at great disruption to our theories but that have not had the time to sort themselves out. Humanity rigorously worked on the concept of gravity for several hundred years before we had our Einstein.

about 3 months ago

Brain Injury Turns Man Into Math Genius

bbasgen Re:Uh... (208 comments)

Geometry is the antithesis of infinity. He will be "aspiring" to be a number theorist until he is ready to look at numbers beyond the constraints of Geometry.

about 4 months ago

Students Remember Lectures Better Taking Notes Longhand Than Using Laptops

bbasgen Re:... or just don't take notes in class (191 comments)

Well said. The finding of the article is interesting: student's that use laptops tend to attempt to take verbatim notes. The laptop isn't the issue, this is a problem of how to properly take notes. Class time is best used for comprehension rather than rote learning. To that end, an effective use of a laptop during class would be to look things up as the professor talks about them. As stated above, notes are best saved for after class to be taken during study time.

about 4 months ago

The Guy Who Unknowingly 'Live-Blogged' the Bin Laden Raid

bbasgen Re:"Three years ago today" (142 comments)

I think you have made a good, reasoned argument.

I just have one important point of caution for you on this statement: "The two atomic bombings killed a quarter million people. On its own, that's horrifying. In the context of the Second World War, that's a rounding error."

While relativity is important in a great many things, it is problematic to use from an ethical point of view. Many atrocities were committed by all sides in WW2. In fact, all sides committed mass atrocities of some kind or another: the fire bombings being particularly awful. This was the reality of WW2 and has given terrible clarity to the reality of what "total war" means.

My point here is simply this: the atomic bombings of Japan were absolutely horrific tragedies. It is an event that stands alone in human history when so many civilians have been killed in an instant. It stands in rare company by the magnitude of civilians that slowly died a truly barbaric death in the hours following. I don't think it is possible to ethically justify total war, and by consequence, no substantive part of it. Thus, while total war was necessary for all sides to wage, all sides had to take unethical actions. I think we would agree on this point: that being ethical in total war would be self-defeating in fact: it would completely ignore the reality of what total war is. This is, simply, where I think people get mixed up about the bombings. They happened because it was total war. But they were not a rounding error on any scale: they were an awful event in our human history that we can only hope is never emulated.

about 4 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Intelligently Moving From IT Into Management?

bbasgen Change your mind set (125 comments)

You are challenged by a common struggle for IT professionals who start technical and move up through management. When moving up from within, it is very important to challenge yourself to let go of the old role and start anew. Your starting point when you hire someone should be that you trust and have confidence in them to run the shop under your direction. By retaining any sort of privileges, you would undercut that confidence and place your relationship with your IT staff on crutches.

Develop your abilities to hire well and trust your hiring decisions. Be willing to take a chance: become uncomfortable with your new role. You should have reservations, not about departing from your old role however, but instead about all the changes and unfamiliarity that come with moving to the "top floor". Good luck. It sounds like you are in a great position with a bright future.

about 5 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Preventing Snowden-Style Security Breaches?

bbasgen Claude Shannon: the enemy knows the system (381 comments)

As the founder of modern information theory Claude Shannon so eloquently stated: the enemy knows the system (Kerckhoffs's principle). To the question being asked: it is problematic when the information assets are published, like the wikileaks exposure of diplomatic cables. In this instance, however, it is the system being exposed, and not particular information assets (at least to my limited knowledge). Thus, as an organization I think the worry is not about the system you use, but instead about your information assets. There is no simple answer to protecting information assets from insiders short of saying: defense in depth. :)

about a year ago

Physicists Create Quantum Link Between Photons That Don't Exist At the Same Time

bbasgen Re:Here's another theory for you (364 comments)

How eloquent and poignant. Well stated.

about a year ago

Adobe Creative Suite Going Subscription-Only

bbasgen Purchase should always be an option (658 comments)

It is a challenging proposition: force customers to rent and provide no option to own. This is a natural fit for services, but becomes rather odd for a commodity. It is hard to understand how, in the consumer market, a company can successfully force a customer to pay for a service that they don't use: if I only use Photoshop in March and June, why on earth should I pay for April and May? Subscription models work very well in business, particularly in large organizations, but this will be interesting to watch unfold in the consumer market.

about a year ago

Steve Jobs' First Boss: 'Very Few Companies Would Hire Steve, Even Today'

bbasgen Re:Yup. This. (420 comments)

Interesting comments. I find that one of the more common sources of conflict and inefficiency in the work place relates to disconnected expectations. At a cursory level, it sounds like you find yourself in highly bureaucratic organizations but that the style and value of your work may be constructively disruptive. Setting clear and consistent expectations is challenging: it may take several attempts and sometimes fails all together. FWIW.

about a year and a half ago

Ask Slashdot: Rectifying Nerd Arrogance?

bbasgen Arrogance can be a maturation stage (823 comments)

Your post is very well written and thoughtful. Your introspection and social consciousness are strong indicators that you will find the right path.

I tend to believe that arrogance is a maturation stage in the development process of individuals with a pronounced strength. Like any other stage of development, some take longer than others to grow out of it. Those who persist the longest require an awfully exceptional strength, or far more likely, a growing ecosystem of isolation and denial.

I think humility, in a sense, distinguishes truly bright individuals from those who are merely clever. The acquisition of knowledge is useful, but true understanding requires comprehension of scope and context. Understanding the outer limits of a thing necessarily leads to humility: the expansive nature of most heady subjects is such that no individual can master the whole. Thus, the path to humility is a holistic one, where the path to arrogance requires a myopic view of the world.

about 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: How Do SSDs Die?

bbasgen Re:Intel SSD in the Enterprise: very low failure r (510 comments)

My expectation is that an SSD used by a desktop computer is most likely to indicate issues when it is being heavily used. In that sense, an imaging process is a good event.

about 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: How Do SSDs Die?

bbasgen Intel SSD in the Enterprise: very low failure rate (510 comments)

I have ordered approximately 500 Intel SSD's over the past 18 months (320 series and the 520 series primarily). To date, we have had exactly one fail to my knowledge. It was a 320 series 160 GB with known firmware issue. We have around 80 of that type and size, and the drive that failed did so on first image. We RMA'ed the drive and got a replacement.

about 2 years ago

Vint Cerf On Human Rights: Internet Access Isn't On the List

bbasgen Mostly right, but he misses the point (398 comments)

I think Vint is correct technically: it certainly doesn't make sense to have tools or technologies become "rights". Yet, I think he is missing the substantive debate that has been ongoing for decades: are human rights solely "negative rights" (e.g. freedom from censorship, etc) or are they also "positive rights" (e.g. freedom to access education).

Now, the whole thing can be restated in terms of what freedom of speech really means and entails. Is it only freedom from oppression, or does it assert some positive rights as well? If it does, then it could follow that the right to free speech means the right to access information, which the internet certainly provides with equanimity.

more than 2 years ago

DARPA Seeks Input On Securing Networks Against Attackers

bbasgen We need talent (119 comments)

The core problem for the US government, and whichever of the many branches that is taking responsibility for this or that part of the government's cyber infrastructure, is a lack of pervasive talent among the staff. In order to attract talented staff, it is essential to have a very transparent mission and vision for an organization. Is the US government really committed to securing the infrastructure?

more than 2 years ago


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