Friday, October 06, 2006

fyi Moore's Law is the enemy of privacy and Google launches search engine for finding source code


Found content:,39020375,39283741,00.htm

My take:

In my semi-random morning meanderings through the previous evening’s e-mail, I sometimes stumble into fruitful juxta. Utopias and dystopias ride the same techno-waves. Here are a couple of articles that connected for me.

Esteemed security guru Bruce Schneier warns us of the panopticon, the omnisurveillance environment we’re building on the Internet, the result of ever more muscular CPUs searching through ever juicier piles of data worldwide. "To look at it, Moore's law is actually a friend of intrusive tools," Schneier argued. "As the cost of data storage gets cheaper, as the cost of data collection gets cheaper, more intrusion, more surveillance is possible," he said.

Then Google, the biggest baddest search muscle of the Internet age, announces a specialized search engine designed to find software source code that is publicly available on the Web. “Currently, the general Web search engine can find links to files with source code, but it doesn't index the lines of code in those files, said Tom Stocky, a Google product manager. In those cases, developers need to download the files to their computers and inspect the code. However, the new search engine has been designed to crawl more deeply and return results containing actual snippets of code, which should make the finding process simpler, Stocky said. ‘We find the lines that match your query,’ he said. The search results link to the full file containing the highlighted code, as well as to the software license governing the use of the code, which in most cases will be open-source, he said. Developers can enter keywords or fuller patterns in the search box.”

Of course, you can quickly convert Google’s happy value-prop into its own dystopia: massive software piracy that comes from finding exposed but non-open-source code everywhere on Earth. Or back to utopia: finding all the nasty zombies, rogue scripts, and other malware that has infected systems everywhere, and zapping it before it can do further harm. Or back to dystopia: finding every deployed instance of your competitor’s server software and disabling or crippling it with some new hack attack. And back and forth and back and forth.

The only point I’m trying to make here is that the ebb and flow of the media’s Pollyanna/Cassandra cycle can be injurious to your mental health. And when the media attempts to cover both sides of the equation with equal aplomb, the very velocity of these rebalancings can induce nausea and disorientation. It can simulate bipolar disorder in normally level-headed citizens.

Find your own personal balance. But don’t stop paying attention to the alternating currents of this crazy world. Tricky, I know. I’m still working on my own rhythm for taking these things in stride.

For one thing, I start the day with a good double dose of hot green tea.


Thursday, October 05, 2006

fyi For Cell Phone Etiquette, West is Best; New Survey From Samsung Explores Attitudes of U.S. Cell Phone Users


Found content:
"For Cell Phone Etiquette, West is Best; New Survey From Samsung Explores Attitudes of U.S. Cell Phone Users"

My take:

Much of cellphone etiquette is in the ringer volume/mode. Since we got cellphones, I've been careful to put my phone in "vibrate" mode in most quiet indoor public environments. Then, when it vibrates with an incoming call, quickly glancing at the identity of the caller and making a snap decision to walk outside to take the call immediately (or not).

If I happen to be speaking with someone in person when a call comes in, once again, I quickly excuse myself to glance at the name/number of the incomer. If it's important enough, I excuse myself again and take it. If it's not, I put it back in my pocket and attempt to reconnect with the face-to-face, apologizing for the momentary distraction.

Generally, while taking a call in a public place, I try to turn my back from others and keep my voice reasonably low (I've got a loud voice naturally, so that's not always something I do consistently) to not make it appear like I'm "cellphoning in their faces."

I hate those invisible cellphones that consist of an ear/mouthpiece that allows someone to auto-accept an incoming call just by starting to speak. Those are unnerving if you're someone else trying to carry on a conversation with a person, or simply in the presence of a person, who's using those devices. One minute, they're seemingly talking to you or just remaining quiet. The next second, inexplicably, they start talking to themselves--no physical cellphone in their hand tips you off to the fact that they're on a call. Those devices skirt the boundaries of rudeness, just by their very design.

Cellphones should be semi-conspicuous to others.


imho Fact


Just a quick set of thoughts.

We're surrounded by data all day.

Much of it gets presented as fact, when it's just assertion.

Fact is assertion cleansed of falsity, according to generally accepted cleansing practices.

Science is the process of cleansing from our understandings the muck of hearsay, superstition, and wishful thinking.

Scientific inquiry is good mental housekeeping.