By curtailing the powers of the spy agencies, we could restore the internet to its original functionality and openness while maintaining the right to privacy and free speech – but maintaining a 20th-century copyright/IP model at the same time is impossible. Or we could give up our privacy and other civil rights to allow specific protected industries to carry on coining it in. A last option would be to switch off the internet. But that is not realistic: modern countries could not survive a day without the internet, any more than they could function without electricity.
As a society, we’re going through the painful realization that we can only have two out of the three options. Different corporatist interest groups would no doubt make different choices but, along with the vast majority of the people, I opt for the internet and privacy as both a free channel for communication and the free transfer of useful information.
Like any social change (the abolition of slavery, universal suffrage), this is also accompanied by heated arguments, legal threats and repression, and lobbyist propaganda. But historically, all this sound and fury will signify…precisely nothing. Maybe at some point, basic civil rights will make a comeback, upheld by the legislature and protected by law enforcement.
The choice is simple: internet, privacy, copyright. We can only choose two, and I know which I choose.
I really like the way FaceTime was put together, much more than Skype or other video chat alternatives; specially for one factor: the lack of an ‘online status’!
Yes, many people have complained about this ‘missing feature’, but for me it’s, in fact, not a bug but a feature! I hate having the ‘always seeing eye’ that an online status puts on you. When you reach the office and you turn on Skype, everyone on your contact list knows that you reached the office. When you turn it down to go to lunch, everyone knows that you have gone to lunch. If you are late or early or simply not in the mood, your options are simply to go offline, in which case no one can contact you, or invisible, in which case no one knows that they can contact you, or put the ‘busy’ flag which in work hours is basically redundant and ignored.
FaceTime avoids this by basically being the equivalent of a phone. People don’t know when your phone is on or off, or ‘busy’. They simply call you. If you want to answer, you do. If you don’ want to answer, you don’t. That’s it. No pesky ‘online status’, no “why don’t you answer me if i just saw you change your status”, no nothing. It’s, essentially, a video-phone system.
Of course, there’s some drawbacks to this, such as not being able to have ‘asynchronous’ conversations as you have in ‘chats’. But that is where Messages enters. There, you can just leave a text message, and I will get back to you when it’s convenient to me. And you have all the ‘online status’ paraphernalia.
I used to read some articles, back when Messages and FaceTime were put on OS X, about why were they two different systems/apps. Back then, not having or using neither, I couldn’t really understood this question or essentially why Apple had done it this way.
But now? Really, Apple, great idea! Just leave it like this. It’s a great way and a great software to work.
Now, if you could just opensource the FaceTime protocol as you promised…
Posted: November 4th, 2013 | | No Comments »
Gmail is a highly proprietary, constantly changing, email-like product. It is not standard IMAP email, and it will never work flawlessly in standard IMAP clients. (It never has.) Google has always supported IMAP reluctantly and poorly, and that won’t change — in fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if they removed IMAP support in the next few years.
Gmail’s primary, most important, and best-supported client will always be its web interface, with its own native mobile apps following. Everything else — especially standard IMAP clients — is a less-profitable nuisance to Google, not showing ads and holding back feature development by not being under Google’s complete control.
If you want to use email in a browser and Google’s mobile apps, use Gmail. But if you want to use standard IMAP email apps, use a standard IMAP email host.
Former East German Stasi Officer Expresses Admiration For, Dismay At US Government’s Surveillance Capabilities
Even the former Stasi agent, despite his begrudging admiration, finds the US surveillance efforts troubling.
Schmidt, 73, who headed one of the more infamous departments in the infamous Stasi, called himself appalled. The dark side to gathering such a broad, seemingly untargeted, amount of information is obvious, he said.
“It is the height of naivete to think that once collected this information won’t be used,” he said. “This is the nature of secret government organizations. The only way to protect the people’s privacy is not to allow the government to collect their information in the first place.”
You can’t justify harvesting this much data if you’re not going to use it. And if you can’t find anything worth using it for, you’ll connect the all-important “dots” until it resembles something… anything. Anything that departs even minimally from the norm becomes suspicious. Using encryption? Probably a threat. Parking too far away from a hotel? Potential terrorist. Find the local water a little tough to drink? Let’s get that file started. Unwittingly engage an undercover FBI agent in conversation? Chances are you’ll soon be converted into a terrorist.
The US, after years of acting as the world’s policeman, has finally revealed itself to instead be the unmarked van that’s constantly parked just down the world’s street. (And the unexplained “clicking noise” on every US citizens’ phone call…) It has the sympathy of several of the world’s governments, many of which are directly benefitting from the US’s surveillance infrastructure or hoping to construct one of their own. But the citizens of the world are more wary, especially those that who’ve already been subjected to intrusive, non-stop surveillance by their own governments.
Microsoft Corp. today announced that Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer has decided to retire as CEO within the next 12 months, upon the completion of a process to choose his successor. In the meantime, Ballmer will continue as CEO and will lead Microsoft through the next steps of its transformation to a devices and services company that empowers people for the activities they value most.
“There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time,” Ballmer said. “We have embarked on a new strategy with a new organization and we have an amazing Senior Leadership Team. My original thoughts on timing would have had my retirement happen in the middle of our company’s transformation to a devices and services company. We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction.”
Finally! Maybe after a decade of stagnation in the PC world and Microsoft we will finally get back some direction and alternatives in the market.
Also, pay special attention to the phrase i marked out in bold. Telling.
TPM is a chip that provides control over what software can or cannot run on the computer. The argument is that this provides a high level of user security and industry digital rights management. If only good software is allowed, bad software (such as malware and illegally downloaded videos and software) cannot run. The current version of TPM is selectable – the user can choose to opt in or opt out of its use.
The problem with version 2.0 is that it is controlled by the operating system and always on. German publication Zeit Online has seen a number of government documents that indicate growing concern among German federal agencies. The problem focuses on three issues: firstly, TPM 2.0 is default on; secondly, the user cannot opt out; and thirdly, it is controlled by the operating system – that is, Windows 8 and Microsoft.
Zeit quotes from a document produced by the Ministry of Economics as long ago as early 2012, which concludes, “The use of ‘trusted Computing’ technique in this form…is unacceptable for the federal administration and the operators of critical infrastructure.” The perceived danger is that Microsoft, a US company, could secretly be compelled either by existing or future US legislation, to hand the TPM keys over to the NSA. That would effectively be giving the NSA a permanent back door to all Windows 8 TPM 2.0 computers that could never be closed; nor even monitored to see by whom or when it was being used.
But Zeit suggests that the potential problems go even further. Quoting professor Rüdiger Weis from the Beuth University of Applied Sciences in Berlin, it suggests that the TPM keys could be intercepted in the country of chip manufacture – China. Theoretically, then, any user of Windows 8 with TPM 2.0 could be handing the computer’s entire contents to either or both the NSA and the Chinese authorities, without ever being aware of it.
I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly ten years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit. After significant soul searching, I have decided to suspend operations. I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot.
This experience has taught me one very important lesson: without congressional action or a strong judicial precedent, I would _strongly_ recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States.
It was, in effect, a global expansion of the Stasi, the Ministry for State Security in the Stalinist “German Democratic Republic,” whose goal was “to know everything.” But the cellphones, fiber-optic cables, personal computers and Internet traffic the NSA accesses did not exist in the Stasi’s heyday.
As Snowden told the Guardian, “This country is worth dying for.” And, if necessary, going to prison for — for life.
But Snowden’s contribution to the noble cause of restoring the First, Fourth and Fifth amendments to the Constitution is in his documents. It depends in no way on his reputation or estimates of his character or motives — still less, on his presence in a courtroom arguing the current charges, or his living the rest of his life in prison. Nothing worthwhile would be served, in my opinion, by Snowden voluntarily surrendering to U.S. authorities given the current state of the law.
I hope that he finds a haven, as safe as possible from kidnapping or assassination by U.S. Special Operations forces, preferably where he can speak freely.
What he has given us is our best chance — if we respond to his information and his challenge — to rescue ourselves from out-of-control surveillance that shifts all practical power to the executive branch and its intelligence agencies: a United Stasi of America.
The stories of how NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden first contacted journalists Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras (both Freedom of the Press Foundation board members), and how he communicated with the Washington Post’s Barton Gellman, have given the public a rare window into digital security and conversing online in the age of mass surveillance.
In response, we’ve just published our first whitepaper—using the public comments by both Snowden and the journalists involved as illustrations—to show how reporters, whistleblowers, and ordinary Internet users can still protect their privacy online.
The whitepaper covers:
- A brief primer on cryptography, and why it can be trustworthy
- The security problems with software, and which software you can trust
- How Tor can be used to anonymize your location, and the problems Tor has when facing global adversaries
- How the Off-the-Record instant message encryption protocol works and how to use it
- How PGP email encryption works and best practices
- How the Tails live GNU/Linux distribution can be used to ensure high endpoint security
Just today, a New York Times reporter emailed me to ask about the IRS back payments. And the reporter from the Daily News sent another email asking about a student loan judgment which was in default over a decade ago and is now covered by a payment plan agreement.
So that’s the big discovery: a corporate interest in adult videos (something the LLC shared with almost every hotel chain), fabricated emails, and some back taxes and other debt.
I’m 46 years old and, like most people, have lived a complicated and varied adult life. I didn’t manage my life from the age of 18 onward with the intention of being a Family Values US senator. My personal life, like pretty much everyone’s, is complex and sometimes messy.
If journalists really believe that, in response to the reporting I’m doing, these distractions about my past and personal life are a productive way to spend their time, then so be it.
None of that – or anything else – will detain me even for an instant in continuing to report on what the NSA is doing in the dark.
Add to this all the other smear that has been thrown on Edward Snowden’s direction, and you got a very dirty negative campaign1, either orchestrated by the Government and its current supporters, or simply by a very low-quality journalism that goes for the low-hanging fruit of the messenger instead of focusing on the hardships of covering the message.
It’s a shame where we are going. Western countries spying on everyone, asylum seekers from* the US and its Allies, dirty tactics that were used only in propaganda based governments of the fascist and soviet led eastern-block. And a present day journalism that’s not fit to even claim the name of its profession.
Guess we will see where it ends but my guess is the demise and social collapse of the US, and a major political realignment in Europe, probably with the separation of UK and continental Europe for good. The rest of world, however, will end up stronger, with a better image of itself and laughing all the way to the bank.
- even by what i used to consider to be high quality news organs as the deceased, for me at least, Ars Technica [↩]
And why would they? Post-911 warrantless wiretapping practices are well known, NSA-style data collection was well-rumored, and we all knew the Department of Homeland Security was already scanning emails for red-flag keywords. Of course terrorists would take precautions. Bloomberg elaborates:
In a January 2012 report titled “Jihadism on the Web: A Breeding Ground for Jihad in the Modern Age,” the Dutch General Intelligence and Security Service drew a convincing picture of an Islamist Web underground centered around “core forums.” These websites are part of the Deep Web, or Undernet, the multitude of online resources not indexed by commonly used search engines.
In 2010, Google estimated that it had indexed just 0.004% of the internet—meaning the vast majority of the web is open for surreptitious message-sending business. Terrorists simply aren’t dumb enough to discuss their secret plans over Skype or to email each other confidential information on Gmail.
So, essentially, the NSA is deeply compromising our privacy so that it can do an extremely shitty job of looking for terrorists. Nice.
The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio, video, photographs, e-mails, documents and connection logs that enable analysts to track a person’s movements and contacts over time.
The highly classified program, code-named PRISM, has not been disclosed publicly before. Its establishment in 2007 and six years of exponential growth took place beneath the surface of a roiling debate over the boundaries of surveillance and privacy. Even late last year, when critics of the foreign intelligence statute argued for changes, the only members of Congress who know about PRISM were bound by oaths of office to hold their tongues.
An internal presentation on the Silicon Valley operation, intended for senior analysts in the NSA’s Signals Intelligence Directorate, described the new tool as the most prolific contributor to the President’s Daily Brief, which cited PRISM data in 1,477 articles last year. According to the briefing slides, obtained by The Washington Post, “NSA reporting increasingly relies on PRISM” as its leading source of raw material, accounting for nearly 1 in 7 intelligence reports.
That is a remarkable figure in an agency that measures annual intake in the trillions of communications. It is all the more striking because the NSA, whose lawful mission is foreign intelligence, is reaching deep inside the machinery of American companies that host hundreds of millions of American-held accounts on American soil.
The technology companies, which participate knowingly in PRISM operations, include most of the dominant global players of Silicon Valley. They are listed on a roster that bears their logos in order of entry into the program: “Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple.” PalTalk, although much smaller, has hosted significant traffic during the Arab Spring and in the ongoing Syrian civil war.
Dropbox , the cloud storage and synchronization service, is described as “coming soon.”
Stop using US based companies for your data. And start using encryption in every way possible.
An extremely vocal minority of Android users think they represent the whole, and they express intense, childish entitlement and resentment against developers who choose either not to develop an Android app or to give advantages to their iOS app. This minority demands equality for their platform with the intensity, victimhood, and entitlement you’d expect as if it was a civil rights issue.
Fortunately, it’s not.
I’m building a new app this summer, and no matter how much people badger me, I won’t go near Android this time. Their promised support and demand never panned out. I’ve learned my lesson: no matter what the vocal minority says, the rest of the market won’t back them up. It’s simply not worth it for this iOS developer to waste any time on an Android port. Your mileage may vary.
In case you haven’t seen yet, check out this video of the Xbox Kinect detecting a person’s heart rate just by changes in the colors on their skin. This technology was invented by a group of researchers at MIT, and Xbox Kinect is a great way to showcase the applicability of it. Now, I’ve been immersed in the fitness space for the last two years, and one thing we know is the importance of measuring heart rate during physical activity to understand the longterm impact of that activity on an individual’s health. Currently, heart rate monitor is not commonplace, but the Xbox Kinect can change that.
The new Kinect is precise enough that you can measure not only the heart rate of an individual, but the Heart Rate Variability (HRV), which can lead to the diagnosis of many conditions, including stress, depression and many other mental and physical conditions. How exciting is it to imagine standing in front of your Xbox to be given a health report?
And there are scenarios that could exist with this new Kinect that simply don’t exist today. Here is an idea: How about Kinect takes a picture of your body and it’s able to compare to previous pictures and detect new moles, skin conditions or even skin cancer? Absolutely possible! The technology will be there in the next couple of years. There are privacy, ethical and legal concerns, and we’ll need to work through those, but the tech will work.
This is what is, truly, known as a Killer App. Seriously, forget about games, Steven Spielberg TV shows, the whole multimedia living room experience. If these scenarios can be done and achieved using a simple “commodity” product that everyone can have in their living room, this is what will make the Xbox One a true, staggering, market-smashing success.
Having an appliance check a skin mole and say that it’s has grown or changed shape and colour, warning for a possible skin cancer node; or having it take 3d models of a woman’s breasts and comparing it for signs of breast cancer is truly mind blowing. And, seriously, i would buy it just for that. I was never a playstation kind of guy, always preferred to play games on a decent computer, but i would definitely buy it just for the increased safety of daily, in-house health checkups.
How much do you value the health of your wife (or husband or partner)? How much would you pay for having her breast cancer diagnosed in the early ages? Or for noticing something wrong in your heart rate and avoiding a, so common in males, early heart attack? Is two, three or four hundred dollars for this, and for a decade worth of equipment, that much?
Microsoft should really spend some large amount of R&D bucks on the health diagnosis area, biometric data storage, health apps development, and some form of accessory that ensures additional privacy for this kind of applications and put it out there. Seriously, do it! Just pick up the money from the Halo TV Show and spend it on health R&D. The return, for Microsoft, and us, will be tenfold!
There are two significant points to make from these events. First, it is remarkable how media reactions to civil liberties assaults are shaped almost entirely by who the victims are. For years, the Obama administration has been engaged in pervasive spying on American Muslim communities and dissident groups. It demanded a reform-free renewal of the Patriot Act and the Fisa Amendments Act of 2008, both of which codify immense powers of warrantless eavesdropping, including ones that can be used against journalists. It has prosecuted double the number of whistleblowers under espionage statutes as all previous administrations combined, threatened to criminalize WikiLeaks, and abused Bradley Manning to the point that a formal UN investigation denounced his treatment as “cruel and inhuman”.
But, with a few noble exceptions, most major media outlets said little about any of this, except in those cases when they supported it. It took a direct and blatant attack on them for them to really get worked up, denounce these assaults, and acknowledge this administration’s true character. That is redolent of how the general public reacted with rage over privacy invasions only when new TSA airport searches targeted not just Muslims but themselves: what they perceive as “regular Americans”. Or how former Democratic Rep. Jane Harman – once the most vocal defender of Bush’s vast warrantless eavesdropping programs – suddenly began sounding like a shrill and outraged privacy advocate once it was revealed that her own conversations with Aipac representatives were recorded by the government.
Leave to the side how morally grotesque it is to oppose rights assaults only when they affect you. The pragmatic point is that it is vital to oppose such assaults in the first instance no matter who is targeted because such assaults, when unopposed, become institutionalized. Once that happens, they are impossible to stop when – as inevitably occurs – they expand beyond the group originally targeted. We should have been seeing this type of media outrage over the last four years as the Obama administration targeted non-media groups with these kinds of abuses (to say nothing of the conduct of the Bush administration before that). It shouldn’t take an attack on media outlets for them to start caring this much.
This format is flexible, it’s easy to implement, and Adobe, if you are listening you should really give SQLite a serious look. And if there are any other companies out there wanting to work on this- please get in touch with me (email@example.com). I’m not married to Acorn’s format or table names, but I think it would be a great start.
It’s 2013. Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could hand off a single layered file format to multiple image editors, and it would just work?
If you use Gmail, what happens if Google locks you out of your account permanently and without warning? (It happens.) What if they kill IMAP support and you rely on it? Or what if they simply start to suck otherwise? How easily can you move to a different email host? How much disruption will it cause in your workflow? Does your email address end in @gmail.com? What would have happened if we all switched to Wave? What happens if Facebook messages replace email for most people?
Proprietary monocultures are so harmful because they hinder or prevent you from moving away.
This is why it’s so important to keep as much of your data as possible in the most common, widespread, open-if-possible formats, in local files that you can move, copy, and back up yourself.3 And if you care about developing a long-lasting online audience or presence, you’re best served by owning your identity as much as possible.
Investing too heavily in someone else’s proprietary system for too long rarely ends gracefully, but when it bites us, we have nobody to blame but ourselves.
But out of all of the older games, she most enjoys playing Donkey Kong. Maybe it was because it was the first game we really played together, or the fact that she watched the King of Kong documentary with me one afternoon from start to finish. Maybe it’s because Mario looks just like her Grandpa. Whatever the case, we’ve been playing Donkey Kong together for a while. She’s not very good at it, but insists on playing it over and over again until she finally hands me the joystick in total frustration.
Finally, one day after work, she asked to play Donkey Kong, only this time she raised a pretty innocent and simple question: “How can I play as the girl? I want to save Mario!”
It made sense. We had just played Super Mario Bros. 2 on the NES a few days before, and she became obsessed with playing as Princess Toadstool. So to go back to Donkey Kong, I can see how natural it seemed to ask the question. I explained to her that Donkey Kong, while similar, is not the same game. On this occasion, I really could tell that she was disappointed. She really liked Donkey Kong, and really liked playing as Princess Toadstool. We left it at that and moved on.
But that question! It kept nagging at me. Kids ask parents all the time for things that just aren’t possible. But this time, this was different. I’m a game developer by day. I could do this.
Comencing immediately upon the 9/11 attack, the US government under two successive administrations has spent 12 straight years inventing and implementing new theories of government power in the name of Terrorism. Literally every year since 9/11 has ushered in increased authorities of exactly the type Americans are inculcated to believe only exist in those Other, Non-Free societies: ubiquitous surveillance, impenetrable secrecy, and the power to imprison and even kill without charges or due process. Even as the 9/11 attack recedes into the distant past, the US government still finds ways continuously to increase its powers in the name of Terrorism while virtually never relinquishing any of the power it acquires. So inexorable has this process been that the Obama administration has already exercised the power to target even its own citizens for execution far from any battlefield, and the process has now arrived at its inevitable destination: does this due-process-free execution power extend to US soil as well?
All of this has taken place with very little public backlash: especially over the last four years. Worse, it has prompted almost no institutional resistance from the structures designed to check executive abuses: courts, the media, and Congress. Last week’s 13-hour filibuster of John Brennan’s confirmation as CIA director by GOP Sen. Rand Paul was one of the first – and, from the perspective of media attention, easily among the most effective -Congressional efforts to dramatize and oppose just how radical these Terrorism-justified powers have become. For the first time since the 9/11 attack, even lowly cable news shows were forced – by the Paul filibuster – to extensively discuss the government’s extremist theories of power and to debate the need for checks and limits.
The primary means of mocking Paul’s concerns was to deride the notion that Obama is about to unleash drone attacks and death squads on US soil aimed at Americans. But nobody, including Paul, suggested that was the case. To focus on that attack is an absurd strawman, a deliberate distraction from the real issues, a total irrelevancy. That’s true for two primary reasons.
First, the reason this question matters so much – can the President target US citizens for assassination without due process on US soil? – is because it demonstrates just how radical the Obama administration’s theories of executive power are. Once you embrace the premises of everything they do in this area – we are a Nation at War; the entire globe is the battlefield; the president is vested with the unchecked power to use force against anyone he accuses of involvement with Terrorism – then there is no cogent, coherent way to say that the president lacks the power to assassinate even US citizens on US soil. That conclusion is the necessary, logical outcome of the premises that have been embraced. That’s why it is so vital to ask that.
To see how true that is, consider the fact that a US president – with very little backlash – has already asserted this very theory on US soil. In 2002, the US arrested a US citizen (Jose Padilla) on US soil (at the O’Hare International Airport in Chicago), and then imprisoned him for the next three-and-a-half years in a military brig without charges of any kind. The theory was that the president has the power to declare anyone (including a US citizen) to be an “enemy combatant” and then punish him as such no matter where he is found (including US soil), even if they are not engaged in any violence at the time they are targeted (as was true for Padilla, who was simply walking unarmed through the airport). Once you accept this framework – that this is a War; the Globe is the Battlefield; and the Commander-in-Chief is the Decider – then the President can treat even US citizens on US soil (part of the battlefield) as “enemy combatants”, and do anything he wants to them as such: imprison them without charges or order them killed.