Quotulatiousness

October 21, 2017

Canada’s equivalent to the NSA releases a malware detection tool

Filed under: Cancon, Technology — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

At The Register, Simon Sharwood looks at a new security tool (in open source) released by the Communications Security Establishment (CSE, formerly known as CSEC):

Canada’s Communications Security Establishment has open-sourced its own malware detection tool.

The Communications Security Establishment (CSE) is a signals intelligence agency roughly equivalent to the United Kingdom’s GCHQ, the USA’s NSA and Australia’s Signals Directorate. It has both intelligence-gathering and advisory roles.

It also has a tool called “Assemblyline” which it describes as a “scalable distributed file analysis framework” that can “detect and analyse malicious files as they are received.”

[…]

The tool was written in Python and can run on a single PC or in a cluster. CSE claims it can process millions of files a day. “Assemblyline was built using public domain and open-source software; however the majority of the code was developed by CSE.” Nothing in it is commercial technology and the CSE says it is “easily integrated in to existing cyber defence technologies.”

The tool’s been released under the MIT licence and is available here.

The organisation says it released the code because its job is to improve Canadian’s security, and it’s confident Assemblyline will help. The CSE’s head of IT security Scott Jones has also told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that the release has a secondary goal of demystifying the organisation.

October 19, 2017

America’s third-world air traffic control system

Filed under: Bureaucracy, Government, Technology, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

In City Journal, John Tierney says there’s hope for improvement, but the crony capitalists might yet manage to keep the crappy system in its current state anyway:

Members of Congress are about to face a tough choice: should they vote to replace America’s scandalously antiquated air-traffic control system with one that would be safer and cheaper, reduce the federal deficit, conserve fuel, ease congestion in the skies, and speed travel for tens of millions of airline passengers? Or should they maintain the status quo to please the lobbyists representing owners of corporate jets?

If that choice doesn’t sound difficult, then you don’t know the power that corporate jet-setters wield in Congress. They’re the consummate Washington crony capitalists: shameless enough to demand that their private flights be subsidized by the masses who fly coach, savvy enough to stymie reforms backed by Democratic and Republican administrations.

While the rest of the industrialized world has been modernizing air-traffic control, the United States remains mired in technology from the mid-twentieth century. Controllers and pilots rely on ground-based radar and radio beacons instead of GPS satellites. They communicate by voice over crowded radio channels because the federal government still hasn’t figured out how to use text messaging. The computers in control towers are so primitive that controllers track planes by passing around slips of paper.

The result: an enormous amount of time wasted by passengers, especially those traveling in the busy airspace of the Northeast. Because the system is so imprecise, planes have to be kept far apart, which limits the number of planes in the air — leaving passengers stranded at terminals listening to the dread announcements about “air traffic delays.” When they do finally take off, they’re often delayed further because the pilot must fly a zig-zag course following radio beacons instead of saving time and fuel by taking a direct route.

Surprisingly, the Canadian air traffic control system is the model to emulate:

The Trump administration is pushing Congress this month to turn over the air-traffic control system to a not-for-profit corporation supported by user fees instead of tax dollars. It would resemble Nav Canada, which has won high praise from the aviation community for modernizing Canada’s system while reducing costs. Nav Canada’s controllers use GPS technology and text messaging, as do the controllers at the corporation that has taken over the United Kingdom’s system.

Iran vs Saudi Arabia (2017)

Filed under: Middle East, Military, Technology — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Binkov’s Battlegrounds
Published on 13 Oct 2017

Find out how a match-up between two middle east powerhouses would unravel. With a special accent on a hypothetical scenario without other countries being a factor

October 18, 2017

Are There Parts of German WW1 Warships in Space?

Filed under: Germany, History, Military, Space, Technology, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Real Engineering
Published on 19 Jul 2017

October 14, 2017

BAHFest East 2017 – Jerry Wang: BLANKIE: Baby LAb for iNfant-Kindled innovatIon and Exploration

Filed under: Humour, Technology — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

BAHFest
Published on Sep 24, 2017

Watch Jerry propose an ambitious research program to “make big science with tiny people.” By leveraging the unique morphological and neurological capabilities of babies, he aims to advance the frontiers of science and engineering with giant baby steps.

BAHFest is the Festival of Bad Ad Hoc Hypotheses, a celebration of well-researched, logically explained, and clearly wrong evolutionary theory. Additional information is available at http://bahfest.com/

October 13, 2017

Casting swords in the movies – forging a lie

Filed under: History, Media, Technology — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Lindybeige
Published on 11 Nov 2015

Casting swords in moulds is something often seen in the movies, and is rubbish. Here I tell you why.

There is a method of making a sword, often depicted in the movies (I give three examples in this video, but there are MANY more), whereby glowing orange iron is poured into a huge mould, and we the viewers see the fiery liquid taking the shape of the hero’s blade-to-be. The snag with this is, it’s rubbish.

Lindybeige: a channel of archaeology, ancient and medieval warfare, rants, swing dance, travelogues, evolution, and whatever else occurs to me to make.

October 10, 2017

Crap archery in Helen of Troy

Filed under: History, Humour, Media, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Lindybeige
Published on 9 Jan 2014

This film continues to be a mine of errors, and there were so many on archery, that I thought I could do a whole video on this one subject.

On the speed of arrows, I was assuming the belly of the horse to be 12 feet above the archers. The first arrow to arrive took 20 frames to get there, which is 4/5 second (PAL 25 frames per second), and 5/4 of 12 is 15, so they were travelling at about 15 feet per second.

On opposed landings, I could give the example of the British liberation of the Falkland Islands. Even though there were not vast numbers of Argentinians on the Islands, and the British had air and sea superiority, the British still chose to land unopposed the other side of the islands and walk all the way across, rather than risk an opposed landing. In the ancient world, I do not know of a successful attack on a fortified place from the sea. When the Romans cleared the Mediterranean of pirates, they did it by landing troops away from the pirate strongholds, and then marching to the strongholds overland.

www.LloydianAspects.co.uk

October 4, 2017

British Boys Anti-Tank Rifle

Filed under: Britain, History, Military, Technology — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Forgotten Weapons
Published on 24 Aug 2015

http://www.patreon.com/ForgottenWeapons

Hammer Price: $3,750

Pretty much every major military had an antitank rifle in service when WW2 kicked off, and the British example was the Boys rifle, named after the Captain Boys who designed it. It was a bolt action .55 caliber rifle with 5-round detachable magazines. If was obsolete by 1943 and replaced by the more effective but equally unpleasant PIAT.

October 3, 2017

Primitive Technology: Mud Bricks

Filed under: Environment, History, Technology — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Primitive Technology
Published on 22 Sep 2017

(Turn on captions [CC] in the lower right corner for more information while viewing.)
I made a brick mold that makes bricks 25 x 12.5 x 7.5 cm from wood. A log was split and mortise and tenon joints were carved using a stone chisel and sharp rocks. The mold was lashed together with cane to prevent it from coming apart when used.

Next, I made a mixture of mud and palm fiber to make the bricks. This was then placed into the mold to be shaped and taken to a drying area. 140 bricks were made.

When dry, the bricks were then assembled into a kiln. 32 roof tiles were then made of mud and fired in the kiln. It only took 3 hours to fire the tiles sufficiently. The mud bricks and tiles were a bit weaker than objects made from my regular clay source because of the silt, sand and gravel content of the soil. Because of this, I will look at refining mud into clay in future projects instead of just using mud.

Interestingly, the kiln got hot enough so that iron oxide containing stones began to melt out of the tiles. This is not metallic iron, but only slag (iron oxide and silica) and the temperature was probably not very high, but only enough to slowly melt or soften the stones when heated for 3 hours.

The kiln performed as well as the monolithic ones I’ve built in the past and has a good volume. It can also be taken down and transported to other areas. But the bricks are very brittle and next time I’d use better clay devoid of sand/silt, and use grog instead of temper made of plant fiber which burns out in firing. The mold works satisfactorily. I aim to make better quality bricks for use in furnaces and buildings in future.

WordPress: https://primitivetechnology.wordpress.com
Patreon page: https://www.patreon.com/user?u=2945881
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October 1, 2017

When network security intersects teledildonics

Filed under: Technology — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

At The Register, John Leyden warns anyone using an internet-of-things sex toy that their device can be easily detected and exploited by (I kid you not) “screwdrivers” (below the fold, just in case you’re extra-concerned for potentially NSFW content):

(more…)

The Grand Tour Cast on Amazon vs the BBC, cars, and being recognized in Syria

Filed under: Britain, Humour, Media, Technology — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

British GQ
Published on 19 Sep 2017

Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond discuss how they feel waking up as cultural icons, where they have (and haven’t) been spotted across the world and what to expect from The Grand Tour season 2. The Grand Tour are GQ’s TV Personalities of the year at the 2017 Men of the Year awards.

September 29, 2017

Blockchain primer – blockchain as a ledger

Filed under: Business, Economics, History, Technology — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 04:00

At Catallaxy Files, Sinclair Davidson provides some background knowledge of blockchain technology as a modern evolution of the simple ledger:

The blockchain is a digital, decentralised, distributed ledger.

Most explanations for the importance of the blockchain start with Bitcoin and the history of money. But money is just the first use case of the blockchain. And it is unlikely to be the most important.

It might seem strange that a ledger — a dull and practical document associated mainly with accounting — would be described as a revolutionary technology. But the blockchain matters because ledgers matter.

Ledgers all the way down

Ledgers are everywhere. Ledgers do more than just record accounting transactions. A ledger consists simply of data structured by rules. Any time we need a consensus about facts, we use a ledger. Ledgers record the facts underpinning the modern economy.

Ledgers confirm ownership. Property title registers map who owns what and whether their land is subject to any caveats or encumbrances. Hernando de Soto has documented how the poor suffer when they own property that has not been confirmed in a ledger. The firm is a ledger, as a network of ownership, employment and production relationships with a single purpose. A club is a ledger, structuring who benefits and who does not.

Ledgers confirm identity. Businesses have identities recorded on government ledgers to track their existence and their status under tax law. The register of Births Deaths and Marriages records the existence of individuals at key moments, and uses that information to confirm identities when those individuals are interacting with the world.

Ledgers confirm status. Citizenship is a ledger, recording who has the rights and is subject to obligations due to national membership. The electoral roll is a ledger, allowing (and, in Australia, obliging) those who are on that roll a vote. Employment is a ledger, giving those employed a contractual claim on payment in return for work.

Ledgers confirm authority. Ledgers identify who can validly sit in parliament, who can access what bank account, who can work with children, who can enter restricted areas.

At their most fundamental level, ledgers map economic and social relationships.

Agreement about the facts and when they change — that is, a consensus about what is in the ledger, and a trust that the ledger is accurate — is one of the fundamental bases of market capitalism.

[…]

The evolution of the ledger

For all its importance, ledger technology has been mostly unchanged … until now.

Ledgers appear at the dawn of written communication. Ledgers and writing developed simultaneously in the Ancient Near East to record production, trade, and debt. Clay tablets baked with cuneiform script detailed units of rations, taxes, workers and so forth. The first international ‘community’ was arranged through a structured network of alliances that functioned a lot like a distributed ledger.

A fragment of a late Babylonian cuneiform ledger, held by the British Museum, 58278

The first major change to ledgers appeared in the fourteenth century with the invention of double entry bookkeeping. By recording both debits and credits, double entry bookkeeping conserved data across multiple (distributed) ledgers, and allowed for the reconciliation of information between ledgers.

The nineteenth century saw the next advance in ledger technology with the rise of large corporate firms and large bureaucracies. These centralised ledgers enabled dramatic increases in organisational size and scope, but relied entirely on trust in the centralised institutions.

In the late twentieth century ledgers moved from analog to digital ledgers. For example, in the 1970s the Australian passport ledger was digitised and centralised. A database allows for more complex distribution, calculation, analysis and tracking. A database is computable and searchable.

But a database still relies on trust; a digitised ledger is only as reliable as the organisation that maintains it (and the individuals they employ). It is this problem that the blockchain solves. The blockchain is a distributed ledgers that does not rely on a trusted central authority to maintain and validate the ledger.

September 28, 2017

More than you want to know about the Panzer III

Filed under: Germany, History, Military, Technology — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Lindybeige
Published on 8 Jun 2017

Panzer IIIs were common German tanks in WW2, and here I talk about them, and make a few general points.

Another video (there will be more) from ‘The Tank Museum’ at Bovington. Why they changed the name is beyond me. I’d like to meet the branding guru who came up with that idea and administer several hard slaps. It’s like changing ‘Wimbledon’ to ‘The Tennis Competition’.

Anyway, here, in its particular shade of beige, is the tank (with a brief shot of one of its cousins), and I ramble on about various bits of it. It’s all right for you – you just have to watch it once, but I had to edit this, which involves seeing each bit several times, and wading through all the footage of me droning on and on.

I use the word ‘burn’ to describe a H.E.A.T. round’s penetrating a tank, and as several people have pointed out, this is not technically the correct word. They are right, although the word is often used in this context, and the temperatures involved are very high, but yes, I admit it: I should not have used the word ‘burn’.

Yes, I am aware that the links on the end plate come in late. This is because YouTube has changed the system, which used to be flexible, to one that relies on limited templates. It doesn’t enable the user to put picture links in except in the last twenty seconds of a video, and so because I added a little shot at the end, the links all start late. Possibly the new system is supposed to be more idiot-resistant than the old one. Unfortunately, this makes it an obstacle for the intelligent.

Here’s a link to the tank museum’s site: http://www.tankmuseum.org/home

September 26, 2017

Steve Chapman – “The Unabomber had a point”

Filed under: History, Technology — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

In his Chicago Tribune column, Steve Chapman does his very best “grumpy old man yelling at a cloud” imitation, while the headline writer goes one step further:

The iPhone X proves the Unabomber was right

The introduction of the new iPhone X — which features wireless charging, facial recognition and a price tag of $999 — appears to be a minor event in the advance of technology. But it’s an excellent illustration of something that has long gone unrecognized: The Unabomber had a point.

Not about blowing people up in an effort to advance his social goals. Ted Kaczynski’s campaign to kill and maim chosen victims with explosives was horrific in the extreme and beyond forgiveness. But his 35,000-word manifesto, published in 1995, provided a glimpse of the future we inhabit, and his foresight is a bit unsettling.

“The Industrial Revolution and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race,” it begins. Among the ills he attributes to advances in technology are that they promise to improve our lives but end up imposing burdens we would not have chosen.

He cites the automobile, which offered every person the freedom to travel farther and faster than before. But as cars became more numerous, they became a necessity, requiring great expense, bigger roads and more regulations. Cities were designed for the convenience of drivers, not pedestrians. For most people, driving is no longer optional.

Smartphones have followed the same pattern. When cellphones first appeared, they gave people one more means of communication, which they could accept or reject. But before long, most of us began to feel naked and panicky anytime we left home without one

He also comes up with a non-Unabomber book that kinda-sorta supports the point he’s trying to make, I think:

The problem is hardly a new one. In his book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Yuval Noah Harari argues that the agricultural revolution that took place 10,000 years ago was “history’s biggest fraud.”

In the preceding 2.5 million years, when our ancestors lived as hunter-gatherers they worked less, “spent their time in more stimulating and varied ways, and were less in danger of starvation and disease” than afterward.

Farming boosted the population but chained humans to the land and demanded ceaseless drudgery to plant, tend, harvest and process food — while making us more vulnerable to famine, disease and war. People who had evolved over eons for one mode of life were pushed into a different mode at odds with many of their natural instincts.

Our distant pre-agricultural ancestors may have worked less than their post-agricultural descendants, but they hardly could be said to have lived lives of leisure and plenty. They lived in very small family groups because without advanced technology they were limited to what could be hunted or gathered in a small region and had very few portable possessions because they generally had to move frequently as the availability of food dictated. Once a group switched from a nomadic to a fixed lifestyle, “work” became how most members of that group would live the vast majority of their lives. Lives of hunter-gatherers were not stunted by the work that farmers had to put in, and hunter-gatherers had no fixed territory to defend, so they had no need of a warrior class or caste to help them protect the land they farmed, and no king or chief or overlord to “protect” them from other groups’ kings or chiefs or overlords. The advantage of the farmers over the nomads was that farmers could build up a surplus of food to tide them over when food was normally scarce – nomads would have to move on to find new hunting grounds.

September 24, 2017

Brilliant job on the Kalashnikov statue, Tovarisch, but what’s that weapon right there?

Filed under: History, Russia, Technology — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

The Guardian reports on some emergency fix-ups required to a brand new statue honouring Mikhail Kalashnikov:

Workers have removed part of a new monument to Mikhail Kalashnikov, the inventor of the Soviet Union’s AK-47 assault rifle, after eagle-eyed Russians noticed that it mistakenly depicted a German second world war weapon.

The monument to the creator of one of Russia’s best known export brands was unveiled in central Moscow three days ago to much fanfare.

A metal bas-relief behind a statue of Kalashnikov depicts the AK-47 and other weapons all supposedly designed by the engineer, who died in 2013.

But embarrassed sculptor Salavat Shcherbakov had to admit that among them was the Sturmgewehr 44 (StG 44) assault rifle used by Nazi troops.

“We will rectify this,” Shcherbakov said in comments broadcast by state-run Rossiya 24 channel. “It looks like this [mistake] sneaked in from the internet.”

By Friday evening a square hole gaped where the German rifle had been depicted in the bas-relief.

Kalashnikov’s weapon, created in 1947, does have a striking resemblance to German arms designer Hugo Schmeisser’s StG 44 rifle, created in 1942, although they have major design differences.

MP44 (Sturmgewehr 44), Germany. Caliber 8x33mm Kurz- From the collections of Armémuseum (Swedish Army Museum), Stockholm. (via Wikimedia)


Kalashnikov АК-47 with bayonet attached (via Wikimedia)

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