Quotulatiousness

January 23, 2014

Machinima falls for the old “novelty death warrant” trick

Filed under: Business, Media, Technology — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 11:10

At Techdirt, Timothy Geigner recounts the potential PR disaster facing Machinima after they attempted to buy positive coverage from their own contributors for the Xbox One:

It began with a thread on NeoGAF that included text from an email Machinima was sending out to their partners which offered bonus CPM (cost per thousand views, the standard way advertising is priced) payments on videos covering Microsoft’s new console. Their requirements for this “promotion” in the email were already problematic, including gameplay footage from an Xbox One game, a mention of playing the game on the Xbox One console in the video, and a vague reference to following the “guidelines listed in the assignment.” Just in those lines, most journalists would find deal-killers. While the line on whether or not YouTube video makers covering games like this being journalists may be a bit blurry, there’s little doubt that thousands of YouTubers look to these folks for help on their purchasing decisions. In other words, they’re fame rests squarely on their reputations for honest reviews. Minus those reputations, these people have no following.

Which is what makes the details in those “guidelines” mentioned above so misguided.

    Now here’s where we enter really sketchy territory: Ars Technica tracked down a copy of Machinima‘s contract for the promotion, and there’s one line that stands out: “You may not say anything negative or disparaging about Machinima, Xbox One or any of its Games in your Campaign Video.” What’s more, these YouTubers can’t even be transparent about this arrangement, according to the contract:

    “You agree to keep confidential at all times all matters relating to this Agreement, including, without limitation, the Promotional Requirements, and the CPM Compensation, listed above. You understand that You may not post a copy of this Agreement or any terms thereof online or share them with any third party (other than a legal or financial representative). You agree that You have read the Nondisclosure Agreement (attached hereto and marked as Exhibit “A”) and You understand and agree to all of terms of the Nondisclosure Agreement, which is incorporated as part of this Agreement.”

Hear that sound? That’s the sound of this entire promotion exploding with enough payload-force to also take out both the guilty and innocent Machinima video-producers. What this does is put everyone under suspicion. Given what we said about the importance of reputations above, this could be the meteor that destroys Machinima‘s world.

Yes, if you’re following along a home, the post title is a Blackadder reference.

November 25, 2013

When your product is “users” your product improvement is “more surveillance”

Filed under: Business, Liberty, Media, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 10:36

Bruce Schneier on the rising tide of non-governmental surveillance:

Google recently announced that it would start including individual users’ names and photos in some ads. This means that if you rate some product positively, your friends may see ads for that product with your name and photo attached — without your knowledge or consent. Meanwhile, Facebook is eliminating a feature that allowed people to retain some portions of their anonymity on its website.

These changes come on the heels of Google’s move to explore replacing tracking cookies with something that users have even less control over. Microsoft is doing something similar by developing its own tracking technology.

More generally, lots of companies are evading the “Do Not Track” rules, meant to give users a say in whether companies track them. Turns out the whole “Do Not Track” legislation has been a sham.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that big technology companies are tracking us on the Internet even more aggressively than before.

If these features don’t sound particularly beneficial to you, it’s because you’re not the customer of any of these companies. You’re the product, and you’re being improved for their actual customers: their advertisers.

November 1, 2013

Let’s hope badBIOS is an elaborate Halloween hoax

Filed under: Technology — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 08:05

Dan Goodin posted a scary Halloween tale at Ars Technica yesterday … at least, I’m hoping it’s just a scary story for the season:

In the intervening three years, Ruiu said, the infections have persisted, almost like a strain of bacteria that’s able to survive extreme antibiotic therapies. Within hours or weeks of wiping an infected computer clean, the odd behavior would return. The most visible sign of contamination is a machine’s inability to boot off a CD, but other, more subtle behaviors can be observed when using tools such as Process Monitor, which is designed for troubleshooting and forensic investigations.

Another intriguing characteristic: in addition to jumping “airgaps” designed to isolate infected or sensitive machines from all other networked computers, the malware seems to have self-healing capabilities.

“We had an air-gapped computer that just had its [firmware] BIOS reflashed, a fresh disk drive installed, and zero data on it, installed from a Windows system CD,” Ruiu said. “At one point, we were editing some of the components and our registry editor got disabled. It was like: wait a minute, how can that happen? How can the machine react and attack the software that we’re using to attack it? This is an air-gapped machine and all of a sudden the search function in the registry editor stopped working when we were using it to search for their keys.”

Over the past two weeks, Ruiu has taken to Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus to document his investigative odyssey and share a theory that has captured the attention of some of the world’s foremost security experts. The malware, Ruiu believes, is transmitted though USB drives to infect the lowest levels of computer hardware. With the ability to target a computer’s Basic Input/Output System (BIOS), Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI), and possibly other firmware standards, the malware can attack a wide variety of platforms, escape common forms of detection, and survive most attempts to eradicate it.

But the story gets stranger still. In posts here, here, and here, Ruiu posited another theory that sounds like something from the screenplay of a post-apocalyptic movie: “badBIOS,” as Ruiu dubbed the malware, has the ability to use high-frequency transmissions passed between computer speakers and microphones to bridge airgaps.

October 13, 2013

Stross – Microsoft Word delenda est

Filed under: Media, Technology — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 10:32

As a writer, Charles Stross hates, hates, hates, hates, hates Microsoft Word and wants it to DIE:

Microsoft Word is a tyrant of the imagination, a petty, unimaginative, inconsistent dictator that is ill-suited to any creative writer’s use. Worse: it is a near-monopolist, dominating the word processing field. Its pervasive near-monopoly status has brainwashed software developers to such an extent that few can imagine a word processing tool that exists as anything other than as a shallow imitation of the Redmond Behemoth. But what exactly is wrong with it?

I’ve been using word processors and text editors for nearly 30 years. There was an era before Microsoft Word’s dominance when a variety of radically different paradigms for text preparation and formatting competed in an open marketplace of ideas. One early and particularly effective combination was the idea of a text file, containing embedded commands or macros, that could be edited with a programmer’s text editor (such as ed or teco or, later, vi or emacs) and subsequently fed to a variety of tools: offline spelling checkers, grammar checkers, and formatters like scribe, troff, and latex that produced a binary page image that could be downloaded to a printer.

These tools were fast, powerful, elegant, and extremely demanding of the user. As the first 8-bit personal computers appeared (largely consisting of the Apple II and the rival CP/M ecosystem), programmers tried to develop a hybrid tool called a word processor: a screen-oriented editor that hid the complex and hostile printer control commands from the author, replacing them with visible highlight characters on screen and revealing them only when the user told the program to “reveal codes”. Programs like WordStar led the way, until WordPerfect took the market in the early 1980s by adding the ability to edit two or more files at the same time in a split screen view.

September 8, 2013

Sometimes the worst possible thing for you is to dominate your market

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 10:53

Charles Hugh Smith on the dangers of being too big in your own market:

Microsoft is a case study in dominance leading to incompetence and catastrophe. Within the moat of near-monopoly/dominance, competence dwindles to the ability to keep doing what worked spectacularly well in the past, and keeping bureaucratic infighting and divisional rivalries down to a dull background erosion of initiative and talent.

Doing more of what succeeded spectacularly in the past works until it doesn’t, at which point doggedly pressing on with the old formula of success leads to catastrophic failures.

Nokia and Blackberry are recent case studies, but the rise of Google Chrome and smart-phone/tablet computing is beginning to threaten Microsoft’s core business of being the utility monopoly in the PC space.

Dominance means leaders and employees alike lose the ability to experience risk. The customer will take what is delivered, regardless, for the simple reason that alternatives are either unavailable or cumbersome.

[...]

Dominance in any space breeds complacency and enables the luxuries of political squabbling, sclerosis and loss of focus. Competence becomes incompetence, and the infrastructure that fosters creativity and flexibility — that is, a keen appreciation of risk and spontaneity — is slowly dismantled.

That applies not just to corporations but to governments, nations and empires.

H/T to Zero Hedge for the link.

September 3, 2013

Microsoft buys Finland

Filed under: Business, Europe, Technology — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 08:16

Oh, sorry, I misread the headline … it should say “Microsoft buys Finland’s tech sector“:

Microsoft has agreed a deal to buy Nokia’s mobile phone business for 5.4bn euros ($7.2bn; £4.6bn).

Nokia will also license its patents and mapping services to Microsoft. Nokia shares jumped 45% on news of the deal.

The purchase is set to be completed in early 2014, when about 32,000 Nokia employees will transfer to Microsoft.

While Nokia has struggled against competition from Samsung and Apple, Microsoft has been criticised for being slow into the mobile market.

Describing the deal as a “big, bold step forward”, Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer told the BBC that his company was in the process of transforming itself from one that “was known for software and PCs, to a company that focuses on devices and services”.

“We’ve done a lot of great work in the two-and-a-half years that we’ve been in partnership with Nokia, going literally from no phones to 7.4 million smart Windows phones in the last quarter that was reported,” he said.

But he admitted: “We have more work to do to expand the range of applications on our product.”

I guess we can now retire the “Microsoft is buying RIM Blackberry” rumours…

September 1, 2013

The military tablet – appearing now in combat zones around the world

Filed under: Military, Technology — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 00:01

Strategy Page talks about the US Air Force use of Windows tablet computers for aircraft pilots and the wider adoption of tablets in the rest of the military:

Air forces all over the world are catching up when it comes to iPads. These devices were soon being adopted by officers and troops after they first appeared in 2010, without waiting for official permission. The iPad mini showed up in 2012. While using PDF files to replace maps and manuals was one of the first military uses, this was quickly followed by military-specific smart phone apps.

Early on combat pilots in Afghanistan, like many businesses, discovered how useful the iPad could be on board. U.S. Marine Corps helicopter pilots found the iPad a useful way to carry hundreds of military maps, rather than the hassle of using paper versions. Marine commanders quickly realized this “field expedient” (a military “hack” that adopts something for unofficial use while in the combat zone) worked, and made it official. That meant buying iPads for this and getting to work coming up with more uses. Meanwhile, support troops that have to handle a lot of data, quickly found ways to get it done on iPads. This was pretty simple for technical troops who rely on lots of manuals. They are often already available in PDF format, and can easily be put on an iPad. But the iPads are basically hand-held computers, and can do so much more. The troops quickly began making that happen themselves.

About the same time iPad appeared the U.S. Army decided to establish an app store (the Army Marketplace) for military smart phone users. This quickly included the iPad, which soldiers were instant big fans of. The army app store included an “App Wanted” section where users could post descriptions of an app they need. If a developer (in uniform, or an army approved civilian with access to the Army Marketplace) was interested, a discussion could be started on an attached message board. The army found that many needed apps were quickly created and made available at the Army Marketplace. Developers could charge for their apps, although the army is also would pay developers to create needed apps that have been described by military smart phone users. The other services quickly adopted a similar attitude towards app development and many of the U.S. Army apps have shown on smart phones outside the country.

August 13, 2013

Blacksoft or Microberry … will Microsoft scoop up Blackberry?

Filed under: Business, Cancon, Technology — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 10:21

In Maclean’s, Peter Nowak wonders why Microsoft hasn’t already purchased Blackberry:

The logic is pretty solid. Android and Apple have run away with the smartphone market, with the Canadian company clutching at a distant and declining third-place slice. The latest numbers say the company has indeed lost that spot to Microsoft and its Windows Phone.

That’s not cause for any excitement — these are low, single-digit scraps we’re talking about. Android and Apple have about 80 and 13 per cent of the market, respectively. (As an aside, it’s funny how those numbers are starting to look like the historical division between Windows and Mac computers, huh?)

So what’s the fastest and easiest way for a company to make its anemic market share bigger? It doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out the answer: combine it with somebody else’s equally anemic share into something with a little more meat on its bones. Putting BlackBerry and Microsoft’s Windows phones together would amount to almost seven-per-cent share. That’s still small, but it’s almost within striking distance of Apple.

More importantly, Microsoft — through an acquisition — would eliminate its biggest obstacle. In some countries, especially Canada. BlackBerry still enjoys decent success as the de facto third brand that buyers gravitate to because they’re loyal and/or hate Android and Apple. By most accounts, Windows Phone sales are extra anemic to non-existent in these markets as a result.

August 7, 2013

Bruce Schneier – “it’s becoming clear that we can’t trust anything anyone official says about these programs”

Filed under: Government, Media, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 08:39

Bruce Schneier talks about the need to restore trust in government and the internet after all the proof we’ve had lately that “they” are lying to us pretty much all the time:

In July 2012, responding to allegations that the video-chat service Skype — owned by Microsoft — was changing its protocols to make it possible for the government to eavesdrop on users, Corporate Vice President Mark Gillett took to the company’s blog to deny it.

Turns out that wasn’t quite true.

Or at least he — or the company’s lawyers — carefully crafted a statement that could be defended as true while completely deceiving the reader. You see, Skype wasn’t changing its protocols to make it possible for the government to eavesdrop on users, because the government was already able to eavesdrop on users.

At a Senate hearing in March, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper assured the committee that his agency didn’t collect data on hundreds of millions of Americans. He was lying, too. He later defended his lie by inventing a new definition of the word “collect,” an excuse that didn’t even pass the laugh test.

As Edward Snowden’s documents reveal more about the NSA’s activities, it’s becoming clear that we can’t trust anything anyone official says about these programs.

Google and Facebook insist that the NSA has no “direct access” to their servers. Of course not; the smart way for the NSA to get all the data is through sniffers.

Apple says it’s never heard of PRISM. Of course not; that’s the internal name of the NSA database. Companies are publishing reports purporting to show how few requests for customer-data access they’ve received, a meaningless number when a single Verizon request can cover all of their customers. The Guardian reported that Microsoft secretly worked with the NSA to subvert the security of Outlook, something it carefully denies. Even President Obama’s justifications and denials are phrased with the intent that the listener will take his words very literally and not wonder what they really mean.

[...]

Ronald Reagan once said “trust but verify.” That works only if we can verify. In a world where everyone lies to us all the time, we have no choice but to trust blindly, and we have no reason to believe that anyone is worthy of blind trust. It’s no wonder that most people are ignoring the story; it’s just too much cognitive dissonance to try to cope with it.

This sort of thing can destroy our country. Trust is essential in our society. And if we can’t trust either our government or the corporations that have intimate access into so much of our lives, society suffers. Study after study demonstrates the value of living in a high-trust society and the costs of living in a low-trust one.

June 18, 2013

Console game industry model is broken – must be patched with huge wads of customer money

Filed under: Business, Gaming, Technology — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 10:23

At Techdirt, Tim Cushing explains why the console gaming industry’s problems should not be “fixed” by taking away the customer’s rights:

If the current business model is unsustainable, why is that the consumer’s fault? More specifically, why are customers being pushed into giving up their “first sale” rights, along with being asked to plug the holes in the leaky business model with wads of hard-earned cash?

On top of this imposition is the assumption the current model is the only model [$200m movie, anyone?] and that mankind greatly benefits from “thousands of developers” crafting AAA titles. This is completely backward. The industry exists because of its customers, not despite them. AAA studios are not benevolent deities. They’re companies that exist because there’s a market for their products. If this market dies, so do they. If the prices are too high, customers buy elsewhere. Or not at all.

[. . .]

It’s beginning to look like a few members of the industry have been cribbing pages from the disastrous playbook of the recording industry. Raise prices. Blame customers. Bend the world to your business model. Is it only a matter of time before the gaming industry begins lobbying Congress to shut down secondhand sales?

Oh, and if the above twitrant weren’t galling enough, Cliff B. throws in a little something for those who find the online requirements of the Crossbone to be dealbreaker.

    “If you can afford high speed internet and you can’t get it where you live direct your rage at who is responsible for pipe blocking you,” he said.

Really? Maybe I’ll direct my rage at the entitled jackass who’s supporting a company’s decision to effectively limit its own market simply because it can’t live without some sort of DRM infection. And what if you can’t afford high speed internet? Well, you must be one of those people who live in the area marked “Whogivesashitland” in Cliffy’s mental map. And trust me, plenty of rage has been directed at the “pipe blockers,” but they care even less about their customer base than the area of the gaming industry Bleszinski represents.

Those interested in gutting the resale market to protect their margins are turning potential customers into enemies. If you can’t adapt, you can’t succeed. These moves being made by Microsoft (and supported by industry mouthpieces) are nothing more than attempts to subsidize an unsustainable business model by forcibly extracting the maximum toll from as many transactions as possible. The industry is not a necessity or a public good. If it’s going to make the changes it needs to survive, it needs to give up this delusion.

April 22, 2013

Not news: nearly 90% of all spreadsheets have errors

Filed under: Business, Economics, Technology — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 08:02

I’ve said it before, spreadsheets are great organizing tools and provide opportunities for both financial whizzes and ordinary folks to make splashy, expensive errors:

Microsoft Excel makes it easy for anyone to do the kind of number crunching once reserved for accountants and statisticians. But the world’s best-selling spreadsheet software has also contributed to the proliferation of bad math.

Close to 90% of spreadsheet documents contain errors, a 2008 analysis of multiple studies suggests. “Spreadsheets, even after careful development, contain errors in 1% or more of all formula cells,” writes Ray Panko, a professor of IT management at the University of Hawaii and an authority on bad spreadsheet practices. “In large spreadsheets with thousands of formulas, there will be dozens of undetected errors.”

Given that Microsoft says there are close to 1 billion Office users worldwide, “errors in spreadsheets are pandemic,” Panko says.

Such mistakes not only can lead to miscalculations in family budgets and distorted balance sheets at small businesses, but also might result in questionable rationales for global fiscal policy, as indicated by the case of a math error in a Harvard economics study. By failing to include certain spreadsheet cells in its calculations, the study by Harvard economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff may have overstated the impact that debt burdens have on a nation’s economic growth.

There’s a reason I nominated Microsoft Excel as “The Most Dangerous Software on Earth“.

March 11, 2013

Best comment on the EU move to penalize Microsoft over web browser choice

Filed under: Europe, Humour, Law, Technology — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 09:06

From “Purp” at Ace of Spades H.Q.:

In other news, the EU plans to fine Microsoft $700M dollars because European users are apparently too stupid to figure out they can download other browsers for free. Porn and bootleg software? Mad skilz baby, mad skilz. Browsers? Not so much…huh? what? where am I? what is this thing, why does it beep? Help, I’ve fallen down and can’t get up.

The fine works out to around $50 for each machine in violation that was shipped by OEM’s. The EU says they’re cutting Microsoft a bargain cuz they could have been fined $7B, or $500/machine. Either way, its a pretty harsh shakedown caused by Euro-users (apparently) being lemming like incompetent imbeciles who are unaware other stuff exists. Its truly a wonder they manage to find the power switch…or maybe the EU sends out specially trained techs to turn on computers for people?

February 14, 2013

Microsoft Excel: the most dangerous software on Earth?

Filed under: Business, Economics, Technology — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 00:02

I’ve made this case in conversation several times — usually after having to forensically determine just why someone’s spreadsheet produced an unlikely answer — the greatest strength of spreadsheets is also their greatest weakness. Anyone who’s built a spreadsheet knows how easy it is to make a mistake, and how hard that mistake can be to detect after the fact. Spreadsheets are free-form: you can set up relationships on the fly, pull data from one place to plug into a different formula somewhere else. It’s literally empowering to gain that much control over your data without having to learn a full programming language.

But that flexibility and power comes at a cost: there’s no built-in error checking of your assumptions. Oh, it’ll alert you to practical problems like mis-matched data types or mechanical errors in your formula, but can’t tell you whether the operation you’re attempting makes sense. The program can’t read your mind and can’t sanity check your work.

Do a spreadsheet for your family budget and you’ll almost certainly make a minor error or two.

Make a set of inter-linked spreadsheets and you probably double the chances of error for each new spreadsheet in the set.

Make a set of inter-linked spreadsheets that require manual copy-and-paste updates and you exponentially increase the chances of error.

Then, make that manually updated set of spreadsheets have a real-world impact on vast amounts of money:

To give you and idea of how important this is here’s a great tale from James Kwak:

    The issue is described in the appendix to JPMorgan’s internal investigative task force’s report. To summarize: JPMorgan’s Chief Investment Office needed a new value-at-risk (VaR) model for the synthetic credit portfolio (the one that blew up) and assigned a quantitative whiz (“a London-based quantitative expert, mathematician and model developer” who previously worked at a company that built analytical models) to create it. The new model “operated through a series of Excel spreadsheets, which had to be completed manually, by a process of copying and pasting data from one spreadsheet to another.” The internal Model Review Group identified this problem as well as a few others, but approved the model, while saying that it should be automated and another significant flaw should be fixed.** After the London Whale trade blew up, the Model Review Group discovered that the model had not been automated and found several other errors. Most spectacularly,

    “After subtracting the old rate from the new rate, the spreadsheet divided by their sum instead of their average, as the modeler had intended. This error likely had the effect of muting volatility by a factor of two and of lowering the VaR . . .”

To translate that into the vernacular, the bank, JP Morgan, was running huge bets (tens of billions of dollars, what we might think of a golly gee gosh that’s a lot of money) in London. The way they were checking what they were doing was playing around in Excel. And not even in the Masters of the Universe style that we might hope, all integrated, automated and self-checking, but by cutting and pasting from one spreadsheet to another. And yes, they got one of the equations wrong as a result of which the bank lost several billion dollars (perhaps we might drop the gee here but it’s still golly gosh that’s a lot of money).

And it’s not just JP Morgan: every financial firm, every bank, every brokerage uses Excel (or another spreadsheet program). Multiply JP Morgan’s experiences by the number of companies to get a rough idea of how much is at risk from un-audited (possibly even un-audit-able) financial models running on spreadsheets.

January 30, 2013

“The only people [DRM] annoys are the ones who have [acquired] legal copies”

Filed under: Business, Media, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 12:12

At Techdirt, Glyn Moody explains why the attempt to add DRM to the HTML5 standard is doomed to failure:

You would have thought by now that people would understand that DRM is not only a bad idea, but totally unnecessary: Apple dropped DRM from music downloads in 2009 and seems to be making ends meet. Despite these obvious truths, the stupidity that is DRM continues to spread. Here, for example, is a particularly stupid example of DRM stupidity, as revealed by Manu Sporny:

    A few days ago, a new proposal was put forward in the HTML Working Group (HTML WG) by Microsoft, Netflix, and Google to take DRM in HTML5 to the next stage of standardization at W3C.

After all, this is exactly what Web users have been crying out for: “just give us DRM for the Web, and our lives will be complete….”

[. . .]

That clearly implies that when people are not sharing their own content with family and friends, then they are indeed adversaries:

    This “user is not an adversary” text can be found in the first question about use cases. It insinuates that people that listen to radio and watch movies online are potential adversaries. As a business owner, I think that’s a terrible way to frame your customers.

    Thinking of the people that are using the technology that you’re specifying as “adversaries” is also largely wrong. 99.999% of people using DRM-based systems to view content are doing it legally. The folks that are pirating content are not sitting down and viewing the DRM stream, they have acquired a non-DRM stream from somewhere else, like Mega or The Pirate Bay, and are watching that.

This is the fundamental reason why DRM is doomed and should be discarded: the only people it annoys are the ones who have tried to support creators by acquiring legal copies. How stupid is that?

Pirates_vs_Paying_Customers_full

December 3, 2012

The feudal technopeasant internet

Filed under: History, Liberty, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 11:20

Bruce Schneier on the less-than-appealing state of user security in today’s internet:

It’s a feudal world out there.

Some of us have pledged our allegiance to Google: We have Gmail accounts, we use Google Calendar and Google Docs, and we have Android phones. Others have pledged allegiance to Apple: We have Macintosh laptops, iPhones, and iPads; and we let iCloud automatically synchronize and back up everything. Still others of us let Microsoft do it all. Or we buy our music and e-books from Amazon, which keeps records of what we own and allows downloading to a Kindle, computer, or phone. Some of us have pretty much abandoned e-mail altogether … for Facebook.

These vendors are becoming our feudal lords, and we are becoming their vassals. We might refuse to pledge allegiance to all of them — or to a particular one we don’t like. Or we can spread our allegiance around. But either way, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to not pledge allegiance to at least one of them.

Feudalism provides security. Classical medieval feudalism depended on overlapping, complex, hierarchical relationships. There were oaths and obligations: a series of rights and privileges. A critical aspect of this system was protection: vassals would pledge their allegiance to a lord, and in return, that lord would protect them from harm.

Of course, I’m romanticizing here; European history was never this simple, and the description is based on stories of that time, but that’s the general model.

And it’s this model that’s starting to permeate computer security today.

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