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Comment: Re:Bitcoin post = win (Score 1) 177

by mpeskett (#45741149) Attached to: The FBI's Giant Bitcoin Wallet

Or to borrow some actual slashdot headlines...

Formhault C has a huge bitcoin debris ring
Scientists print bitcoin
Police pull over more drivers for bitcoin tests
Apple pushes developers to bitcoin
NASA schedules space walks to fix bitcoin pumps
Bitcoin exchange value halves after... wait, I did this one wrong
Unreleased 1963 bitcoin on sale
Want to fight allergies? Get bitcoin

Dammit, it still works, I would read every single one of these.

Comment: Re:Can it be invalidated? (Score 1) 177

by mpeskett (#45741111) Attached to: The FBI's Giant Bitcoin Wallet

Ownership is established by knowing the private key for the wallet/address. The FBI gained that key --whether by keylogger, wiretap, plea bargain or $5 wrench is unclear-- and transferred all the funds to an address under their exclusive control.

So from the point of view of the bitcoin protocol, the FBI were the proper owners (they knew the key) and therefore weren't obstructed from making that transfer. Likewise they wouldn't be obstructed from further use of the address they control unless a majority of miners collaborated to refuse to include their transactions in blocks *and* refuse to mine on top of any chain that included such a transaction in a block mined by somone else.

Which would, strictly speaking, be a breach of protocol - you're supposed to always mine on top of the longest chain. But nonetheless possible if they patched the mining software to selectively ignore particular addresses. But that would seem like a bad precedent to set and a bad capability to build into the network.

Comment: Re:England (Score 1) 470

by mpeskett (#45563601) Attached to: EU Plastic Bag Debate Highlights a Wider Global Problem

How about we go back to cardboard boxes instead of the damned plastic packaging

Probably heavier and bulkier for the same amount of contents, so the trucks transporting goods to the store will carry less stuff (so there will be more trucks) and burn more fuel. Same with using glass bottles instead of plastic. With food, you also run the risk of increasing damage done to anything fragile, like fruit, if they're not fairly snug in their package - so bundling them loose into bigger boxes means more waste from the squashed/bruised ones.

There may well be better options for packaging; the way the world works now is set up to incentivise minimising cost rather than environmental impact, but some costs also have environmental impacts attached or correlated (fuel especially). It's not as simple as just "get rid of plastic".

Comment: Re:bbc? (Score 1) 429

by mpeskett (#45085801) Attached to: Fusion Reactor Breaks Even

If your "match" has to be fuelled by your "fire", then it's still a bit of an issue.

What they have is a pellet of fuel absorbing energy from a bunch of lasers, then emitting energy by fusion, and having the energy out higher than the energy in. The problem is that the lasers used more energy than was absorbed by the fuel, and the energy out can't be 100% efficiently collected into electricity generated.

It's not just a question of paying some high ignition energy then reaping self-sustaining free energy thereafter - without solving the problems, it isn't self-sustaining; you can't power the lasers from the output of the generator, not even close. Well, not yet. It's a milestone, just not an endpoint.

Comment: Re:I have no idea what StumbleUpon is (Score 3, Interesting) 31

by mpeskett (#44898155) Attached to: StumbleUpon Claims They've Stumbled Onto Profits

It's a toolbar button that takes you to a semi-random web-page, picked based on other people clicking the buttons to say that they like it, and also to put it into a category. In practice it ends up like channel surfing for the internet - keep hitting the button until you see something that looks like it might be half interesting, then move on as quickly as you arrived. From what I've heard from site owners, it's a good way to direct a spike of traffic to a single page but a lousy way to actually increase your readership.

If they've now monetised it successfully, presumably they've stepped up how aggressive the paid-for insertions are since I last used it. They were already somewhat jarring - the quality level on the whole wasn't high but the ads were always a moment of "Who in the name of the blind idiot god submitted this bullshit? Oh, another ad, fuck that, moving on"

Comment: Re:Google, Money, Mouth (Score 1) 248

by mpeskett (#44802189) Attached to: Google Speeding Up New Encryption Project After Latest Snowden Leaks

For high paranoia while avoiding having to cast runes as a source of randomness, deploy airgaps - type your plaintext message on a disposable device, which you never connect to any network or removable storage. Ideally run it from read-only storage, so that your message only ever touches volatile memory. Run the encryption and copy out the encrypted version (ideally by hand, or maybe by print+OCR if that's impractical)

Afterwards, ensure that any trace of the message is gone by repeatedly overwriting the contents of memory. For maximum paranoia you ensure that the memory isn't readably by running it throuhg a woodchipper, collecting the fragments, and sealing it all in epoxy which you then encase in concrete and drop into either a deep unmarked hole in the middle of nowhere, the depths of the ocean, or the mouth an active volcano... or launch into the Sun if you've got the budget.

Throughout, be vigilant for side channels - maybe the image you installed on your airgapped computer was compromised, and it's finding some creative way to communicate with the mothership. Maybe it's modulating CPU usage to make the temperature of your room fluctuate (detectable via IR), or maybe the noise your fingers make on the keyboard can be picked up as subtle vibrations that a sensitive laser pointed at the window can detect.

And of course, to be safe against goons with a $5 wrench, you also need to have forgotten the message and the key yourself. I recommend either wiping it from memory with a pint or two of lab ethanol, or extending the concept of a one-time pad to the human brain, by lobotomising yourself after sending.

Comment: Re: Google, Money, Mouth (Score 1) 248

by mpeskett (#44802041) Attached to: Google Speeding Up New Encryption Project After Latest Snowden Leaks

The integrity of the mathematical basis for cryptography is one of the few things we likely can trust. Assuming it's been reviewed thoroughly by benign and competent experts, an open-source implementation of that theory should also be okay to trust. Further assuming that it's been compiled faithfully, by an uncompromised compiler, you can probably trust the binaries to match the source that implements that cryptography.

The part where the NSA/government mostly seem to be able to work their way in, is at the point of key distribution - certificate authorities and major service providers handing over their keys and allowing access. Not by breaking the crypto (which promises that your message will only be readable with the right key) but by subverting it's implementation.

Comment: Re:Happy President (Score 1) 569

If you want people to vote with a different strategy (or ideally, non-strategically, submitting a ballot that accurately reflects their preferences) then you need a voting system that will make that the rational strategy, and produce a result that accurately reflects the preferences expressed.

People acting rationally under FPTP inevitably produces an entrenched 2 party system. "Vote 3rd party" is not an answer when vote splitting means that can actually make it more likely that your least preferred candidate wins. Campaigning for a change to a different voting system... that's the answer.

Comment: Re:How about (Score 1) 282

by mpeskett (#44594469) Attached to: Feds Target Instructors of Polygraph-Beating Methods

Was it this one?

Cancer testing is a fairly easy example of something with a fairly low incidence in the general population, and where we would really like to avoid false results (so we don't miss a tumour or put people through unnecessary chemo).

Always important to remember that if your error rate is higher than the background rate of how many people have cancer, then you're going to end up flagging more people without cancer than with. Takes a very precise test to raise your confidence level much away from the highly-probable assumption of "not cancer" (or "not terrorist").

"If that makes any sense to you, you have a big problem." -- C. Durance, Computer Science 234