Apple vs FBI: The unspoken Truth on Encryption


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While one can admire Apple for ‘defending’ it’s customers privacy, while also benefiting with the positive advertising. It is probably a moot, and hollow victory as the NSA and the CIA have already broken Apple security.

Not that it shouldn’t be of high importance, the resources required to do the cracking of any particular extraction of an encrypted message sent with a iPhone would most likely exceed the budget of a small country. Which is exactly the point of encryption, making it hard, and expensive to decrypt. Imagine the joviality at the NSA/CIA after the hours of decryption, that the ‘Important’ message turns out to be a high priority, top secret Cookie Recipe from you mothers cookbook.

And thereby is the unspoken truth of encryption the first one is this: you must either decrypt everything, to find what is being said, because if you can only choose strategic messages, choosing the right ones are tantamount.

During WWII monitoring enemy communication was aided by observing the frequency of communication traffic, when frequency increased, something important was being communicated. Modern military communications is continuous and unbroken, transmitting meaningless message traffic, and therefore not highlighting any particular message in the traffic stream that would be required to be decrypted. This would now be a requirement to decrypt everything, in the military traffic stream.

The second Truth is this; The assumption that you can decrypt all the messages is the hight of arrogance and ignorance. Anyone, yes anyone can create an encryption that will be impossible for a machine of any sort to decrypt, and many of these can be hidden to the point that even a human expert directly observing the message can not decipher.

Imagine hiding messages in the continuous email stream called Spam, which now constitutes more that 80% of all email traffic?

Thoughts like this keep the NSA/CIA/FBI up nights, and no matter what Bull Shit they might tell you about the need to have back doors and encryption keys it will NEVER catch all the potential secret messages that terrorists might choose to pass to each other.

Because the simplest of truths: It isn’t possible.

UPDATE: and now the E.U. politicians are talking about it. European Officials To Discuss Anti-Encryption Measures.

I.T. as street vendors


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Yesterday while talking with a colleague, I was trying to get a cross the idea the most ‘programmers’ don’t understand what goes on inside a computer. And his response was, “Does it matter any more?” and while it took me back, I had to respond, “No!”  After sleeping on it, I came to a revelation of sorts.

Current IT is equivalent to being a Hot-dog vendor on the street.

And while we IT/CS folk might try and elevate our profession to that status of demigod status we are merely vendors of what the computer can DO!‘  We don’t create the computer, we splash condiments on the hot-dog, and sell it as computing.  We don’t even make the condiments anymore, call them libraries, functions written by gnomes in dark caves.  And don’t even mention the buns, the dressing ,the cover, beyond us.

In the early days of computing, the common question was, what do I use my computer for. And the first answer often was, you could put your cooking recipes in it.  Creating the first cookbook you needed to plugin. The computer is still the same, just that the cookbook has gotten more sophisticated.

I have harped for years that the ‘hardware’ of computing has crippled real advances in computing, more and more systems are opting for generic in their selection of Hot-dog instead, choosing to dress it up with more and intriguing spices and toppings, things like AI and Neural Networks.  While these latter are more sophisticated and sexy, they are more or less toppings on the same Hot-dog.

Amazon RDS for MariaDB


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Amazon RDS for MariaDB Finally! I have been broadcasting for sometime that the reason that Amazon has not moved RDS MySQL from it’s 5.6.x version, was due to the belief that Oracle was intending to charge an arm-and-a-leg from AWS for the privilege of doing the upgrade to 5.7.x. I was of the opinion that this was the initial reason for AWS Aurora, to have an alternative both to arm twist Oracle into a better deal for MySQL 5.7, but also a fallback position should Oracle refuse to bargain.

Now that whole subject has been rendered null and void with this announcement. The MySQL community will now have a direct replacement, with improvements, from the 5.6.x installations into MariaDB 10.x and the Oracle (toll booth) issue can now be side stepped entirely.

I have already indicated to my management that this move should be undertaken as soon as is viable.

The Expenditure of TCPv4


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While working on an TCP/IP problem today, I was finally struck by the fact that we have for all intents and purposes expended the entire TCPv4 addressing space. I knew it was coming, years ago, but now while testing IP addresses, it dawned on me.

You can now pick any arbitrary set of numbers nnn.nnn.nnn.nnn and expect a response. Ping them, probe them, something will be there, or it’s being held. All gone, this is the equivalent of spitting in the middle of an ocean while swimming,  you are going to hit ocean.

4,294,967,296 (232) addresses gone, 4 Billion addresses in use…..

The Rudder

I have been doing IT for more than 35 years, and on my birthday, I was inspired by my past, I remember almost everything that has brought me here.

Then I see the new people in my current company and wish that they would look around them, and remember what they see and do. This is a rudder they are seeing. Every thing they are thinking, doing, deciding on is their rudder, it will lead and point them in a direction. And I want to remind them that this rudder is behind them, and if they do not take hold of the rudder, it could lead them where they are not dreaming of, and not wishing for. But a rudder is behind the boat, you have to choose to steer your boat towards what you want to be, where you want to go.

Fate will handle your rudder and could take you astray if you let it, be aware of short term thinking, and dream big.

The Future of Aurora


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Amazon Aurora for the RDS is more or less on hold for the company I’m working for, it looks like it works, but it’s not a consistent performance across all the SQL that is deployed here. Having said that if you are starting a project, this might be a functional alternative to MySQL. But at this point neither the increase performance shown, on only part of our BI queries, and the massive down time in any attempt to to move to Aurora from MySQL does not merit a change. Should things change, like Oracle forcing a pricing change on Amazon, this option will be reconsidered. I just wish that AWS would consider implementation of MariaDB within the RDS environment.

Amazon Aurora for the RDS


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Being a user of MySQL (5.6) on the Amazon RDS I was impressed with the announcement of Aurora. Having said that I was also suspicious as to it’s providence. Nowhere were there references to it’s origins or engines. Databases and database systems don’t just drop out of the sky.

Amazon were also was making comparisons to MySQL version 5.6, not the newest version 5.7.x. This is interesting as I have been fighting I/O issues in the RDS implementations of MySQL 5.6.x for sometime. Version 5.6 has serious Mutex issues in I/O and from my reading MySQL 5.7 has managed to improve that situation. But the Amazon folks have not managed that upgrade yet.

Software politics being what it is, especially with regards to Oracle, whom own MySQL, indicates that there will be licensing issues with the release of MySQL 5.7.x. Issues that Amazon may be seeking to side step or ameliorate with the threat of Aurora (or MariaDB).

Having said that, many of the DB community seem to be of the opinion that Aurora does not offer anything that can’t be found within the MySQL 5.7 upgrade, as far as performance is concerned.

What does concern me is the lack of transparency about the nature of Aurora. What I see is smoke and mirrors. And frankly in the DB community, that does not lend trust to the Aurora project of Amazon’s. Not a good thing where trust, and dependability are Keys. (pun intended)

AI (Artifical Intelligence)


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There are a number of AI movies arriving in the near future, and the thought that seems to run through them all is that AI, Artificial Intelligence is depicted as being contained within humanoid constructs, frequently Female Humanoid. It brings up several interesting notions;

  • If one of the defining characteristics of AI is being ‘Self Aware’ can a computer, an AI contained within a box become self aware?
  • Does it need sensors to see, hear and touch itself to become aware of it’s existence?
  • Would a box be more or less likely to to identify with Humans if it identified itself as a box that thinks it’s alive?
  • Does an AI contained in a Female humanoid framework Identify with Female Humans? (and maybe hates Male Humans?)

All interesting things particularly in the event of an AI operating IoT (Internet of things) within a persons house. How would it ‘identify’ with the Humans, cats and dogs residing therein?

More than enough Ideas to make movies about.

Could an AI really be that angry about not having reproductive sex?