Well, my specific concern is that the NSA's data collection system presents a real danger to us. I don't feel it's fear mongering; my fear is completely valid. Whether or not the NSA and the Obama administration are abusing these powers is irrelevant. Future presidents not only might abuse them, they are likely to abuse them. The main principle of my book is that if you have an opinion on any political matter that might be used to persecute you in the future, it's in your best interest to express it as anonymously as possible, and if you're organizing protests or otherwise interacting with fellow activists, you'd better not only do so anonymously, you'd better encrypt your comms too.
It's not about having something to hide from the NSA. It's about engaging in things which are legal NOW, but which in the future may be made illegal and punished retroactively. We don't know what future administrations will do with these powers, so it's a good idea to try to shield yourself from them insofar as you are able. Again, this isn't fear mongering. This is applying caution. The examples I use in the book are things like for/against gun control, for/against birth control, for/against abortion rights. The point I try to make is, no matter what your position is on any controversial topic, some future administration might vehemently disagree with you about it, and use things you've said against you thanks to this awful system the NSA has constructed. It's a danger. The use of Tor and encryption can help prevent the things you say from haunting you years later.
I also mention the use of Tails on a thumbdrive, which is kind of neat. Someone recommended that to me recently, and it seems pretty solid.
As for more interest in security, I'm a big fan of that, but we should address one thing at a time, and prioritize. For me, this NSA Internet dragnet is a good place to start. If you can protect yourself from that, the rest should be rather easier, don't you think?
Well, I'm running Fedora Gnu/Linux, and GnuPG. For public key encryption, I recommended RSA for both signing and encrypting, with 4096 bit keys. For protecting files, I recommended 256-bit AES or Twofish and symmetric encryption, with a long passphrase memorized and never written down or stored. I didn't write any encryption software myself; I'm trusting the people who wrote GnuPG, and the open source community, to "get it right". In answer to your question, yes, my disk has encrypted partitions, including swap.
The side channel attacks you mention don't seem like they'd be particularly easy to use to go after someone, particularly someone following the recommendations of my Linux book, which include using full-disk encryption. You seem to want to discourage people from trying to use these tools ("Encryption is HARD" -- uh, huh) rather than giving useful advice about how to use them well. I don't think this is a productive approach.
I'm not doubting your technical knowledge, but I wonder if some of the challenges you're making here are a little bit exaggerated. If you grabbed my laptop, for example, and the entire disk was encrypted with a nice, long pass phrase, how would you decrypt my AES-256 encrypted file within my encrypted home partition? How would you even be able to access swap? Not doubting, asking. What scenario is there where you'd have that level of access to my system without (for example) convincing me to decrypt it for you so you can use your attacks?
Mea culpa: I didn't mention whole-disk encryption in the Windows edition because it's my assumption that all the solutions in that realm are proprietary, and you have to assume a proprietary solution has a backdoor. Better to not mention it at all than to steer someone to a bad tool... I wish there was something I could do about that, but I don't know of any open source full-disk encryption schemes for Windows.
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Jaimie Mantzel is easily the closest we've ever come to a real life mad scientist and he's the creator of the Attacknid Combat Creatures Battling Toy Spider Robot built by WowWee. He's organised an agreement with the toy company to create a kit version that you build and decorate yourself.
Mantzel is also hard at work building a full-size spider tank in his private mountain lair.
"I never let my schooling get in the way of my education." -- Mark Twain