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Comment: American Law Firm? (Score 1) 133

by pegacat (#46265421) Attached to: Australia and NSA Gain Comprehensive Access To Indonesian Phone System

Folks seem to be missing the point that this involved tapping an American law firm, apparently in order to gain an edge during trade negotiations? (And similar stuff happening during recent climate negotiations?)

That kinda muddies the water I think; people spying on other people for national security is one thing, but when it spills over into the commercial world and UN politics then it's no longer security, but obtaining an advantage by underhand means.

Also, I'm curious - doesn't US law say something about not spying on americans? And aren't even lawyers technically citizens?

I guess as an aussie if the US wants to outsource that sort of thing to us I don't have a huge problem with it, but I would have thought more US folks would be upset... :-)

Comment: Re:Uh... okay (Score 2) 607

by pegacat (#44770803) Attached to: NSA Foils Much Internet Encryption

Schneier suggests elliptic key may be compromised and should be avoided... as with other public key systems it is based on a computationally hard one way problem, it's not beyond the realms of possibility that our TLA friends may have some special insight here.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/05/nsa-how-to-remain-secure-surveillance

As a side issue, I've been to vendor presentations where they've boasted about the ability of their advanced firewalls/edge devices to do real time MITM attacks using valid signing certs obtained from (at least one) top level CA, to enable companies to monitor gmail etc for 'IP protection'. Given the NSA's liking for compromising network devices I wouldn't be surprised if that method was also used.

Comment: A Beacon through dark times (Score 1) 986

by pegacat (#44617121) Attached to: Joining Lavabit Et Al, Groklaw Shuts Down Because of NSA Dragnet

Groklaw was there when much we take for granted was under attack, and as a rallying point was hugely influential as vested interest after vested interest tried to enclose the commons and steal from the common wealth. It outlived SCO, it saw Linux grow and thrive, and we rejoiced as it called the odds and gathered forces against one carpet bagging IP troll after another.

It is truly heart breaking to see PJ shutting up shop, and I only hope it helps to focus us on a greater danger than SCO ever was.

Vale Groklaw.

Comment: Encryption layer ontop of Drop Box? (Score 1) 274

by pegacat (#44396357) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Secure DropBox Alternative For a Small Business?

There are a bunch of folks who add client side encryption to drop box.

This mob: http://lock-box.com/ do a bunch of fancy client side key management to allow strong PKI management including revocation and re-keying of group accessed data. They're pretty good if you need a strong crypto layer on top of drop box, but there's a bunch of folks who add security to drop box with some balance of security and convenience. ... but like many other posters have said, be very careful before sticking classified data on any of this stuff; it's unlikely to be suitable unless the solution's been given a rating.

Comment: Re:Society Expands Up to Constraints of the System (Score 1) 452

by pegacat (#30266216) Attached to: Modeling the Economy As a Physics Problem

Not true - numerous examples exist of civilisations large and small that have outgrown their resource base and crashed horribly. In fact, pretty much EVERY SINGLE CIVILISATION before ours has collapsed horribly. We would be different why?

(cf Jarad Diamond's book "Collapse" for a role call of civilisations and empires that have gone belly up - not all can be pinned on environmental collapse, but a lot can; just look at the sands of the middle east where the great empires of two thousand years ago were, possibly the Romans, the Maya, definitely the Norse settlements in Greenland and the polynesian settlement of Easter Island, etc. etc.)

Comment: Re:Finally (Score 1) 509

by pegacat (#26523331) Attached to: Valve Takes Optimistic View of Piracy

I'd agree - except that the games I buy on Steam are not 'retail price'. DRM sucks, but if I can get Portal for $5, I'm prepared to do it as a throw away. There seem to be games on Steam for $20 or less that are sold (in Australia) at $US 50 or more.

I'm happy to pay a bit more to not have DRM (ta iTunes), but not multiples...

Comment: Numbers don't seem to add up (Score 5, Informative) 516

by pegacat (#26411663) Attached to: The Environmental Impact of Google Searches

Some facts as I understand them snarfed from the web - corrections welcomed...

rough cost of (wholesale) energy per kilowatt hour (kwh): ~5c
CO2 cost per kwh: ~1kg (coal power: http://cdiac.ornl.gov/pns/faq.html)
time for my (small) 1 litre (~ 1kw) kettle to boil when full is ~ 5 minutes which compares well with the theoretical energy for a 1litre at ~350kj, or 350 seconds time for 1kw . Hence power for a small boiled kettle is a killowatt for 1/10 of an hour, or 0.1 kwh

So I get...
Kettle boiling: costs ~.5c, and ~ 100g, ... the article says a kettle take 15g, which I don't get even close to; maybe clever people boil just enough to make single cups only?

If the article was true, Google doing "more than 200m" searches a day would spend ~ $20m a day on power, or ~ $7billion a year, consuming 100,000 megawatt hours, or a continuous drain of 4,000 megawatts (about the power output of a small US state). On the authors figures, total power consumption would be ~ 650 megawatts, which is still pretty huge, and would still be spending ~ $1billion a year.

Google use cheap, mass produced low power units in gigantic numbers - estimates are hard to come by, I will estimate 200,000 based on inflating some public estimates (e.g. http://arnab.org/blog/how-many-computers-does-google-have).

Energy cost of networking is significant, but I do not believe as great as machines; I'll add 50% for good luck. Utility server machines are dropping in power (~100-200w) but also require cooling, UPSs and network etc., so let's call it 500w all up (figures are difficult to get; everyone is selling something power center wise) - so I get 100 megawatts; or 1/6th of the author's estimate, or 1/40th of the true kettle figure.

I'd say that the author is overstating the case to make a political point - if I was cynical I'd point out the author has also just launched a business to 'green your web site' by installing monitoring software, estimating the energy cost of searches to it, and then buying carbon offsets on your behalf, so it is in his interests to overestimate such usage..

Comment: Re:Already Exists (Score 1) 242

by pegacat (#24755111) Attached to: Wizards of the Coast Declares Gleemax Site a Critical Failure

D&D 4th edition is a cute table top wargame.

It's probably more similar to 'squad leader' than it is to 3rd edition D&D though. Not sure why it got called D&D. Dungeons of DragonCraft might be more appropriate.

It's fun at the moment, but it feels a bit like fairy floss - there doesn't seem to be much depth.

Meanwhile I'm curious as to how wizards are going to go charging for 'virtual minitures' and stuff, and the jury's still out on their online subscription offering. Could be good, but I suspect the freeware stuff will be better - already we're seeing some pretty neat character generators out there.

Everyone has a purpose in life. Perhaps yours is watching television. - David Letterman

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