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Comment: Encryption! (Score 1) 208

by Mini-Geek (#47274923) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Bequeath Sensitive Information?

Encrypt the file with a secure password or key, maybe using AESCrypt. Email the encrypted file to the relevant parties. Put the password to the file in your will (keep it under appropriate trusted guard, to be released only on your death). As long as the will and the encrypted file are kept apart until after your death, the file will remain secure until then. You can also modify the encrypted file as things change, encrypt with the same password, and resend the file.

There's still the possibility that their computer is compromised after you die and they decrypt the file. They could reduce this risk by opening it only on a known-secure system (e.g. an Ubuntu LiveCD boot), if it really matters. In any case, this greatly reduces the security exposure by not have this file sitting around for years for anyone to read.

Comment: Re:And yet (Score 2) 768

by Mini-Geek (#43937993) Attached to: Seeking Fifth Amendment Defenders

There's a difference between something you have on you (e.g. a key to a lock, DNA, fingerprints), and something you know (e.g. combination to lock, password). It's easy for police to show whether you have something. It's not (currently) possible for police to determine whether you know something. I think that an encrypted drive should be treated like a locked safe. Given the proper warrant, AFAIK the police have the right to try to break into that on their own if you don't want to open it for them - but not to compel you to give them the combination to it. The same way, they should be able to try to break into encrypted files on their own, but not to compel you to give them the password. The only big difference between safes and encryption is that breaking encryption is far more difficult, so the courts will be more inclined to ask you for the password than just break in on their own.

Comment: Car analogy (Score 1) 558

by Mini-Geek (#43863615) Attached to: 'Smart Gun' Firm Wants You To Fund Its Prototype

This is the equivalent of a car with a steering wheel that has fingerprint sensors on it, at the 9 and 3 o'clock positions. If it is unable to read valid fingerprints, the engine stops and the steering wheel locks in place.

It's safer because it doesn't let someone steal your car (be it your child, or a thief), and it forces you to drive with both hands on the wheel at all times.

Comment: Cost of electronic communication then and now (Score 2) 387

by Mini-Geek (#39596077) Attached to: Online Services: The Internet Before the Internet

Today, you probably pay a flat fee for your Internet service and, for the most part, you don't pay anything for the various Web sites you visit or services you use. In the pre-CIX Internet days, it was an entirely different story.

Unless you were lucky enough to live close to an online service point of presence you had to use a dial-up modem to call up an X.25 packet switched wide area network (WAN). This connection service alone could cost anywhere from an affordable $1 an hour to a wallet busting $30 an hour, which you could then use to connect with an online service. The online service would also typically charge you a monthly fee plus an additional fee of $1 to $6 an hour. And you thought your ISP was expensive!

That's between $2 and $36 per hour. At the speeds mentioned, you could transfer 135,000 bytes per hour. That's $0.00237 to
$0.0427 per 160 bytes, which is much less than the $0.20 that we are charged today for text messaging without a plan. Incredible.

Comment: Re:The number is a Palindromic Prime in base 2. (Score 1) 486

by Mini-Geek (#33783554) Attached to: The Binary Code In Canada's Gov-Gen Coat of Arms

It's very possible that this is just a coincidence and that this has nothing to do with the meaning of the bits. Sure, it seems like there's no way it could be by accident that a number around 6.8 billion is prime, but there is:
The chances of a random number x being prime are about ln x. ln 6830770643 ~= 22.6, but it's possible that the first number had to be 1, which would mean (since it's palindromic) the last number has to be 1 (making the number odd), excluding 2 as a possible factor. This puts the chance at more like 11.3. It's quite possible that we're reading too much into this. This might've just been randomly picked by an artist, (and then made symmetrical by making it a palindrome) instead of designed by a geek (and intentionally including a hidden meaning or just making it a prime or something).
In searching for additional evidence that primes were an intentionally selected theme, I looked at:
(each half of the palindrome, with and without the 1 in the center)
One of these is prime: 0100100111010011_2=18899_10, 18899 is prime. I'm not sure what it means, but I doubt those substrings were chosen for their primality.

Comment: Re:Confusing symbols (Score 1) 1268

by Mini-Geek (#33238584) Attached to: US Students Struggle With Understanding of the 'Equal' Sign

I'm from the UK, is 4+3+2=( )+2 a commonly used / commonly understood way of presenting the problem in the US?

No, that's not standard usage in the US or anywhere else that I'm aware of.
It's always possible the report was not properly representing what he was trying to convey, but the report definitely shows usage that isn't clear for anyone, unless it was explained on the test. No wonder people are confused.

Real Time Strategy (Games)

StarCraft II To Be Released On July 27 220

Posted by Soulskill
from the guess-it's-ready dept.
Blizzard announced today that StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, the first game in a series of three, will be released on July 27. The game will contain the Terran campaign (29 missions), the full multiplayer experience, and "several challenge-mode mini-games," with "focused goals designed to ease players into the basics of multiplayer strategies." It will launch alongside the revamped, which we've previously discussed. Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime said, "We've been looking forward to revisiting the StarCraft universe for many years, and we're excited that the time for that is almost here. Thanks to our beta testers, we're making great progress on the final stages of development, and we'll be ready to welcome players all over the world to StarCraft II and the new in just a few months."

Comment: Re:Can someone explain this to me? (Score 1) 192

by Mini-Geek (#30707120) Attached to: Factorization of a 768-Bit RSA Modulus

The first time you encounter the concept of factoring (as per OP's question) is probably not the best time to introduce mathematics requiring groups and rings.


And while the GNFS is indeed magnificently superior to naive searching, it is not sufficiently fast to make a significant difference to the cryptographic strength of a system based on the difficulty of finding large factors - hence, I judged it was not worth mentioning.

While the fact remains that you can make the number large enough for it to be impractical even with GNFS, I must disagree that it makes no significant difference. If the only thing we could do was trial division by primes, a 44 digit RSA composite would need at most ~200 quintillion divisions to find the factors. (see, there are ~200 quintillion primes below 10^22) More than sufficient for safe encryption. Even if you could do 1 billion per second, you'd need almost 6400 years to crack it.
But since there's GNFS, a 309 digit (1024 bit) number is currently the standard, and is being phased out.

In any case, you could've said something along the lines of "There are some more efficient ways, but they are still difficult for large numbers." instead of "There are some tricks you can use to speed it up, but that's essentially it."

Comment: Re:Can someone explain this to me? (Score 1) 192

by Mini-Geek (#30689018) Attached to: Factorization of a 768-Bit RSA Modulus

It is cryptographically useful because it doesn't have a short way of doing it: you have to simply try dividing by 2, 3, 4, 5, etc, till you get an answer. When you have a number that's several hundred digits long and only has two relatively large factors, this takes a very long time. There are some tricks you can use to speed it up, but that's essentially it.

This is very, very wrong. What you describe is the most naive possible way to factor a number, a.k.a. trial division (without an obvious "trick" to speed it up: not bothering dividing by composites). There are far more efficient ways to factor large numbers. The fastest, currently, for numbers over about 90 digits without any easily-found smaller factors, is the General Number Field Sieve.

What this country needs is a good five dollar plasma weapon.