TI Upset Because Hobbyists Cracked The 83+ OS Signing Key

Texas Instruments (TI) calculators have for a long time been a subject of hobbyist interest.  In particular is the TI-83.  However TI has long been known to be very uncooperative to say the least.  Recently news came out that somebody has managed to crack the RSA signing key for the programmable calculator’s operating system.

This development means that it will now be a LOT easier for people to load new custom operating systems into the calculator.  Unfortunately, TI seems to have a problem with this.  According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, some TI execs have decided from the comfort of their fancy barcelona chairs that this is not tolerable and they have since been issuing DMCA takedown notices in an effort to suppress any mention of or links to the keys in question.

Fortunately for TI hobbyists, those keys are going to be very difficult to suppress.  Not only have preserved on Wikileaks and other sites, they have also been posted on a Freenet 0.5 “freesite” the URL to which is:

SSK@eaYn7lrnws~202trApiznva4-QkPAgM,r45BnHpoDlD-r2ozUE7I6g/TI83+OS//
(*note* you must be running Freenet 0.5 on 127.0.0.1:8888 for this link to work.)

Even if TI manages to get those keys totally suppressed and removed from Internet sites, which I think it’s already too late, They’ll never get it removed from Freenet, If only because once something is inserted into Freenet you CAN’T delete it, ever.

Technorati Tags: signing key cracked, ti signing key, ti 83 calculator, texas instruments

I’m Losing Weight!

I’m sure that some people will see the title of this post and go “big hairy deal” but for me the fact that I’m actually losing weight is actually quite significant.  Especially since over the last six or seven years I’ve done almost nothing but GAIN weight.

Roughly six months ago I tipped the scales at a whopping 348 pounds.  About two months later I had dropped to 328, which was at least a start moving in the right direction.  Last week I stepped on a scale for the first time in four months or so and was greeted with my first sub-300 weight in nearly four years or more at 288!

Obviously this is good news but I’ve also been wondering what I should be aiming for as a target weight before I run out and load up on a supply of ephedrine or Acai berry.  Then just tonight I hit on the solution.

Just as a guide I decided to check out a Body Mass Index calculator.  I started by plugging the numbers in for when I was at 348lbs which told me that at that point my BMI was a whopping 43.5 which classed me as “morbidly obese”.  A term that always translated itself in my head as “dead fat”.

Then I ran the calculation for 328lbs and the BMI was 41.  Better but still needs a lot of improvement.  The next one was for my current weight of 288lbs.  That came out at an encouraging 36.

Next I entered several lower weights to find out what weight I should aim for to get a BMI in the middle of the “healthy” range.  After a few minutes I found that a weight of 165lbs would give me a BMI of 20.6 and 180lbs would give me a 22.5

I realize that these numbers aren’t carved in stone but they do give me something of a goal to shoot for.

Technorati Tags: body mass indicator, bmi, weight loss, loseing weight, morbid obese, obese

Good News For Downloaders

A team of Microsoft engineers consisting of Peter Biddle, Paul England, Marcus Peinado, and Bryan Willman set out to “investigate the darknet – a collection of networks and technologies used to share digital content”.  their conclusions were published in the report known as “Darknet Assumptions“.

Those assumptions boil down to three basic points.

1.) Any widely distributed object will be available to a fraction of users in a form that permits copying.

2.) Users will copy objects if it is possible and interesting to do so.

3.) Users are connected by high-bandwidth channels.

Recently the EFF took a year end look at those assumptions and came to the conclusions that the Darknet Assumptions are indeed true.

For assumption 1, we see that while 2008 saw music moving en mass to DRM free ways of doing things, movies and in particular, software are still fighting tooth and nail to continue the DRM battle.  One infamous example of this is the Electronic Arts game “Spore” with it’s use of SecuROM DRM.

People all over responded to EA by posting cracked versions of the game all over the place.  It quickly became the most pirated game ever.  In fact, many users even complained that even if they bought a legitimate copy of the game, it would not run properly unless they used a cracked version that had the DRM removed or disabled.

Personally, I’ve seen ads for Spore.  It looks interesting.  However I will NEVER touch a copy of it (or anything else) that has SecuROM on it.  That kind of invasive DRM is going over the line and I won’t have it infecting my system.

For assumption 2, In spite of, or perhaps partly TO spite, content providers that insist on using DRM.  P2P use has continued to increase in 2008.  The EFF correctly points out that it’s not easy to get accurate numbers on P2P useage, however if sites like Pirate Bay claiming 22 million users is any indication, it looks like P2P is definitely on the rise.  Not only that, the results of some informal polls also tend to support the idea that P2P is definitely becoming mainstream.

For assumption 3, All you have to do is look at the ever expanding availability of high bandwidth connections to the average user.  Combine this with the continuing surge in the popularity of high bandwidth internet services, VOIP, video on demand, Etc.  Video sites like YouTube continue to grow in popularity and gain content every day.  Add to that the fact that many of them are now beginning to include High Definition versions of their video players and you have even more demand for bandwidth.

The RIAA, MPAA are not unaware of this, as they are now pushing for ISP’s to filter content.  This has to be a major pain in the ass for them since that means Deep Packet Inspection of every single packet passing through their networks.  Besides which, that sort of filtering would (in my opinion) change them from carriers to editors, making them at least partly responsible for anything they either miss or incorrectly identify as “bad” content.  In spite of this, The RIAA, MPAA and “big content” continue to push ISP’s to get into this filtering and are even trying to push for laws that require it.

The “Darknet Assumptions” document also talks about various file sharing systems and Darknets, including Freenet.  Because I’m more familiar with it than any of the others, I can only comment about Freenet’s Darkenet.

While I’m still a proponent of Freenet 0.5 because of the simple fact that I believe it’s the most stable version in use today, Freenet 0.7 does have some features that, when it reaches a point of stability, will make it the single most secure “bulletproof” anonymous network to date.  It’s strong point is the Darknet.  When running it in Darknet mode, you only exchange node references with people you trust.  Your node then only connects to those nodes and no others.

Once premix routing is implemented, it will become very nearly impossible for nodes connected to you to determine what you are inserting or requesting from the network.

Not that doing so is at all easy now by any stretch of the imagination, it isn’t, not by a long shot.  From what I understand, it would take several evil nodes connected to the same good node to be able to study the traffic going into and out of that good node and some very involved statistical analysis before they could even say that node xyz is *probably* inserting or downloading file x.  Even then they couldn’t be certain.

Premix routing, when it’s implemented, will mean that the first three or four hops outbound from any node will be encrypted with multiple layers of encryption so that immediate neighbor nodes will have no ability to analyze your node traffic and figure out what you’re downloading or inserting.

I have no doubt at all that as Freenet gets closer to 1.0, more and more people will begin using it for their file sharing needs.  Yes, Freenet is slower than other networks.  That’s because of the use of encryption on several levels and the high security built into it’s transport and storage systems.  Then again, as the network continues to grow, it’s performance will continue to improve.  In the meantime there is a growing number of people who have decided that anonymity and security are worth the slower downloads.

The Freenet Project officially discourages piracy and the sharing of illegally copied content on it’s network and will refuse to provide support to or even communicate with people that admit to using it for such.

While they’ve got very good reasons for taking that stance, there will be (and in fact I believe there are now) plenty of Freenet users who have no such policy and will in fact be glad to do anything they can, given Freenet’s absolute anonymity, to support those who are having problems.

It’s also important to point out that Freenet is not just about file sharing.  It also features text messaging systems and the ability of any user to create a Freesite (Freenet website) that is inserted into the network and can then be viewed by anyone who has the link to it which in most cases can be found on a number of indexes located within the network.

One thing that Either version of Freenet has hands down over any other file sharing system that I’ve seen is that once you insert a file into the network, it is possible to shut down your node and the file will still be available.  In fact, once something is inserted into the network, it’s actually impossible to remove it.  Especially since the mere act of requesting a file helps to spread it around the network even more.

Technically, files can “fall out” of Freenet. If they go long enough without being requested and a node needs the space for a more popular file, it’ll get deleted to make room.  In actual practice however, I don’t think this happens much anymore.  Most Freenet users have data stores of 20 or 30 gigabytes or more.  I personally inserted a Freesite back in early 2004 that can still be retrieved today.

Technorati Tags: file sharing, securom, electronic arts, bullet proof anonymity, big content, eff, freenet darknet, mpaa, darknet, anonymity, premix routing, drm, spore, p2p, anonymous file sharing, freenet 0.7, darknet assumptions, riaa

Open Source, Multi-Platform, Secure IM Client

I saw a question recently from somebody who was looking for a secure Instant Messaging client that was both open source and could be implemented across several platforms.  While I haven’t had a whole lot of need for Instant Messaging and I have no idea why most people would need secure IM except for planning those Orlando vacations getaways where you leave the (presumeably grown) kids at home (or send them someplace else for their vacation), I’ve done a bit of reading and checked out some software.

The big winner that answers all of the stated requirements is to use a Jabber server and Pidgin clients with the OTR plugin.

Jabber is an open source IM server that’s been gaining in popularity in the last year or more, enough so that Jabber has been bought by Cisco.  While that means that there’s no doubt all sorts of changes going on, including the fact that a casual look at Cisco’s site didn’t turn up an easy to find section about Jabber, there are plenty of open source implementations of the Jabber protocol.

Openfire (formerly know as Wildfire) is an Open Source freeware package that’s not only stable and reportedly easy to use, it’s also under active development which usually means it’s here to stay.

Pidgin is an IM client that has the ability to connect to accounts on a variety of servers such as AIM, Yahoo!, Google Talk, MySpaceIM and of course, XMPP (also known as Jabber).  There is quite a number of plugins available for it to customise it for your needs.

Pidgin is also available in a Portable Apps version that can be installed on a flash drive.

One of these is the OTR pluggin.  The OTR plugin, which is also available for several other IM clients including Miranda, KDE’s Kopete, mICQ, and several others.

Like I said earlier, I don’t have much, if any need for Secure IM these days but if I did then this is the solution that I’d use.

Technorati Tags: otr, instant messaging, secure im, otr encryption, pidgin, im, secure instant messaging, jabber

DARPA’s Latest Video Surveillance Project

There’s an article on the Washington Post site that I think everybody should read and think about.

It talks about some of the details of the capability to mount visual surveillance from orbiting satellites and other sources.  For one thing, lets not make any mistake about just what these things can see.  How does a resolution of from four inches to one foot sound?

With that kind of resolution they could read the headlines off of the morning newspaper while you’re outside picking it up.  The thing is that with all the video they’re able to get, once they come up with a way to index all of this material handling it and searching it will become really fast.

Does this sound a bit like Big Brother’s dream toy?  Yeah, I thought so too.  The question is “How do we pull the plug on it?”.  This growing trend of allowing more surveillance, censorship and government control of our lives in the name of things that on the surface, sound like good causes is really alarming.

Yeah, I get it.  The big argument in favor of asinine nonsense like this is the “war on terror” that we keep being told about.  Now I don’t discount the fact that there are terrorists out there that would be only too happy to die in the process of killing as many of us as they could.  However I’ve come to have some really serious doubts as to whether the terrorism problem is *quite* as bad as it’s being painted.  I doubt seriously that it is.

Just like the growing internet censorship that’s being allowed to happen in the name of stopping child pornography.  I know that stuff like that is out there, I’m also pretty sure that it’s not nearly as widespread as government, law enforcement and the media would have us all believe.  If it was, most people could probably expect to accidentally surf into a child porn site at least a couple of times and / or occasionally receive email spam with graphic images.

I’ve absolutely never heard of either thing happening in over a decade of being online.

Not once.

Ever.

I think that’s telling all by itself.

It’s past time for the sheeple to wake up and reclaim their humanity and human rights.

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