Category Archives: Sufficiently Advanced Technology

At Cardozo’s “Anonymity and Identity in the Information Age”

I’m in New York for Cardozo Law’s Anonymity and Identity in the Information Age, speaking on the war on online anonymity.

It’s a great program, and I’m on the first panel so then I get to relax and enjoy the event.

Travelling here yesterday I learned two things: First that putting your boarding pass on your electronic device instead of a phone is not a smart move. The person in front of me at the TSA line was not able to have his boarding pass on his iPad read by the TSA screener’s machine. And at the gate, the person in front of me in the boarding queue was not able to have her boarding pass on her smart phone read by the gate agent’s scanner.

Second thing I learned, from the French person sitting next to me on the plane, is that a lot of French people with money are investing in Belgium (!) as a form of tax evasion. Apparently, if you buy an asset there you don’t have to pay tax on the appreciation if you hold it 5-7 years. Thus, among other things, there’s a property boom going on with appreciations of as much as 5% per year. (Bubble, anyone?) It wasn’t clear to me if this was legal tax avoidance, or a classic French fiddle, but my interlocutor seemed to think there was an awful lot of it going on.

Incidentally, last night I saw Venus in Fur. Highly recommended. It has three Tony Award nominations. The play is clever — arch at points, but fun and brainy at the same time — and I think that Nina Arianda in particular has to be a very strong contender for her spectacular performance.

Posted in Econ & Money, Sufficiently Advanced Technology, Talks & Conferences | Leave a comment

Securing Gmail (Updated)

Coding Horror, Make Your Email Hacker Proof has lots of good advice about how to secure your Gmail account.

This is all good advice, even if two-factor authentication is not a panacea.

Plus, when you print out that last-ditch backup paper to put in your wallet…don’t label it. Why make it easy for the guy who steals your wallet?

Update: A friend writes,

I followed the instructions, first on the desktop.

Then, it locked out my Gmail account on my iPhone, because I need to do one more step since smartphones “apps” cannot ask for verification, only a password.

(That part is missing in this “Coding Error – Make your Email Hacker Proof” article because it is only for the desktop. If you use Gmail also on your mobile device, you need to do the below):

So I read further and found that you need to the 2 step authoriztion by following these steps (watch the video).

This gives you a long “application specific password” which is different from your password you use when you login to Gmail from a browser on a desktop (not your mobile device). You only need to type it in once.

Now my Gmail works on my iPhone. Terrific!

Posted in Internet, Sufficiently Advanced Technology | Leave a comment

Dear Verizon Wireless

There was nothing in the documentation to suggest that 4000 or so Google contacts and 196 apps (including all the cruft you pre-loaded on my phone and I cannot remove), would bork the Droid Incredible 2.

Anyway, I don’t have 4000 contacts. The phone, or the phone-Google connection, seems to have systematically put in multiple entries for the ones I do have due to some weird effect of matching contacts.

And most of the apps are very small.

Oh, and did I mention that the DINC2 startup screen (pictured) always makes me think of the Eye of Sauron?

Posted in Android, Sufficiently Advanced Technology | 2 Comments

Pacemaker Recipient Wants Source Code to Know What’s in Her Body

Interesting issue:

Lawyer Karen Sandler’s heart condition means she needs a pacemaker-defibrillator to avoid sudden death, so she has one simple question: what software does it run?

Yet it turns out that it’s impossible for her to see and understand the technology that’s being installed into her own body and upon which her life depends. Regulatory authorities don’t see or review the software either.

Despite the Australian provenance of the “Cyborg lawyer demands software source” story, this is the same Karen Sandler who is executive director of the GNOME Foundation, lives in New York, and has

Spotted via Slashdot.

Posted in Law: Copyright and DMCA, Sufficiently Advanced Technology | Leave a comment

Wendy Grossman Wants Me to Fear My Printer

Wendy is not an alarmist sort of person, and she has me scared. In Printers on Fire, she tells the tale of Columbia computer science professor Sal Stolfo and PhD student Ang Cui, who have figured out how to hack routers and set printers on fire by printing a suitably doctored c.v.

There’s an employment-related joke in there somewhere, I’m sure, but I’m still stuck on this part:

“In every LAN there are enormous numbers of embedded systems in every machine that can be penetrated for various purposes,” says Cui.

“We turned off the motor and turned up the fuser to maximum.” Result: browned paper and…smoke.

How? By embedding a firmware update in an apparently innocuous print job. This approach is familiar: embedding programs where they’re not expected is a vector for viruses in Word and PDFs.

“We can actually modify the firmware of the printer as part of a legitimate document. It renders correctly, and at the end of the job there’s a firmware update.”

Moral of the story: print more at work?

Posted in Sufficiently Advanced Technology | 3 Comments

Putting an iPhone to the ‘Fullest Possible Use’

This image of the new Siri intelligent agent at work is the first thing I’ve ever seen that makes me think an iPhone might be a good thing to have.

Meanwhile, however, the Android remains a more open platform, which certainly has its virtues (and the occasional vice too).

Source: Brad DeLong (who got it from a Telstra user in Australia?).

Posted in Sufficiently Advanced Technology | Leave a comment

Florida Wins Again

If you are a technogeek you will enjoy this post on The 10 Most Bizarre and Annoying Causes of Fiber Cuts, much expanded by some great comments.

But of course the top incident involves Florida:

There was a landowner whose property stretched across the border between Georgia and Florida. He was mad at Florida DOT because he didn’t get enough money when they purchased the right-of-way to widen the highway that cut through his property. Level 3 had fiber in the right-of-way, so he was mad at us too. One day he decided on revenge, so he jumped onto his backhoe and drove across the state line from Georgia to Florida, right up to the edge of the ROW and dug a 2 foot wide by 10 foot long trench. He then got down in the hole and cut the fiber and the ducts. Then he moved 15 feet south and dug a second trench until he found more fiber and ducts and cut them in a second location.When our field techs got on the scene, Mr. Landowner was waiting on them with his 12 gauge shotgun! He refused to let anyone repair the fiber on threat of death! When law enforcement arrived, Mr. Landowner had moved back over to the Georgia side and claimed he had no idea how the damage had been done. He was out of their jurisdiction. There were no witnesses, and all the law enforcement could do was talk to him and try to get him to confess. At least we were able to repair the damage. But during the conversation with the law, Mr. Landowner spewed anger and said he was going to come back tomorrow and cut the fiber again. Well, that was admission of intent to commit a crime and the rules of jurisdiction didn’t apply anymore. Ha! He was arrested and we were able to see frontline justice after all

Posted in Florida, Sufficiently Advanced Technology | Leave a comment