Recent blog entries for adam

This is very exciting news about education: A combined high school/college operating under the auspices of the New York City school board. It isn't news that high school (age 14-18) education in the US is quite destructive of creativity and motivation. However, griping about that is not as useful as doing something. Simon's Rock is one experiment in changing the way teenagers are educated; this is another, and much as I (as an alum of Simon's Rock) hate to say it, I expect it will do better, because the experience actually starts younger for most people, and is designed to be an integrated experience that trains people to think and be able to communicate those thoughts.

Imagine that.

Ldunbar wrote: If Adobe is going to bill rot-13 as a secure encryption, they have got to take measures to ensure that it is strong enough to withstand cracking without the DMCA standing in front of it. Frankly, I find it ironic that adobe's lawyers, not their programmers, are the only ones capable of protecting the content from being cracked.

The issue here is not a technical one; use of rot-13 is as strong as use of Rijndael/AES here. In fact, from an engineering perspective, rot-13 is superior: Its faster, takes less memory, is less error prone, and equally secure. This is because the key to decrypt the content needs to be locally available, and when the key is locally available, I can reverse engineer and get at it. This is of course, the use of a technical system to fix a social problem, and those tend to fail. We'd all be better off if Adobe put a big sign saying "Do not copy!" in some human and machine readable form. Thats superior to rot-13 and AES, and is clearly a lawyers-only way of protecting your content.

jmason--yeah, so TV-free can mean pubs. I'll claim that pubs are a superior form of entertainment any day. They involve human interaction, rather than sitting in front of the idiot box. So, perhaps people drink to excess? I know that I regret far less time spent drinking with freinds and buddies than I regret spent in front of the TV.

Perhaps the next morning is an exception.

Woo-hoo! The TV-free lifestyle spreads. Its memetic. And you have so much more time for reading.

Which lead me to want to post a diary entry mentioning a book I'm re-reading, Infinite Jest. Infinite Jest ought to be a hacker classic. Its incredibly self-referential in ways ranging from subtle to drop-on-your foot obvious. The hurt your foot end of this is that its over a thousand pages, and the some of the endnotes have footnotes. Many of which just describe the drugs the characters are taking, but others contain some fairly subtle jokes. The more subtle bit are the references to the outside world, such as the world's funniest joke, which is not a mainly a Python reference, but a video titled Infinite Jest, which features deeply in the plot. Once you watch IJ (the video) you can't bring yourself to do anything else until you die laughing.

The book would be called science fiction if it hadn't been done by a serious author. There are ongoing gags involving the naming of years, various bits of future technology, etc.

I'll admit that part of the kick (for me) is that the book involves Quebecios seperatists, and a bizzare virtual overlay of Boston and Cambridge, with parts described perfectly -- my old neighborhood of Inman Sq features regularly, and mostly accurately, but with occaisonal random bits of non-reality where things that don't exist just sort of meld in in a way that only heavy drug use or artistic license can explain. IJ isn't an easy read the way Snow Crash was. Its not even an easy read the way Godel, Escher Bach is. The first time I read it was a struggle. The second is far more rewarding. I expect that the final joke is that the book is rich enough that it will draw me in again, and again, until I die laughing.

Decided that as I get mentioned in other people's diaries, I probably should write some of my own. I'm thinking a lot about traffic analysis lately; how to quantify it, how to drive it forward as a scientific field. Or maybe I should back up and say that traffic analysis is tea-leaf reading, where you examine all of the stuff about a message that isn't encrypted, and learn about social and organizational networks. The state of the art is totally dominated by the NSA, and they're not talking.

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