15 Apr 2014 @ 12:50 AM 

There has been some growing speculation as to whether the NSA was aware of the Heartbleed vulnerability in advance. The story was raised and reported by Bloomberg, denied in the New York Times, and then sort of questioned again by the New York Times.

But the thing that strikes me the most is a quote from former NSA Head Michael Hayden who is on record as saying:

Some vulnerabilities are such that they marginally (but importantly) weaken a system but exploitation still depended on skills, systems and technologies that few, if any, can match.  If the judgment is what is called NOBUS (nobody but us could do this), the risk management decision is pretty easy.  Of course, that judgment could change over time and still requires continuous due diligence. (Security Current)

Given the ramifications that Heartbleed could potentially have on the fundamental infrastructure of the Internet, if the NSA was involved I think there needs to be some holding of account.

Posted By: Chief Tech
Last Edit: 15 Apr 2014 @ 12:50 AM

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 11 Feb 2011 @ 10:09 PM 
Google Art Project

Google Art Project

Launched recently with next to no publicity is Google’s interesting new application of the technology perfected with Google Street View call the Google Art Project (http://www.googleartproject.com/).

Instead of driving down your street taking photographs, Google have removed the Street View rig off the van (hopefully!) and gone into a number of world renowned art galleries.

The concepts is the same as Street View, only applied to the gallery and the art displayed within. The site will give you the opportunity to take a tour around the selected art gallery in the same way you could tour around a select street.

As I said, this has been fairly under reported in general and the news that you can find on the site seems to be a little picky about the implementation and the concept in general (see Google Art Project is underwhelming, Google Art Project is second rate and Is the Google Art Project the best thing since real eyes: Critics respond). Also let’s not forget that in this day and age there is little that is genuinely new; Synethescape have also come up with a similar and very functional concept themselves.

But when all is said and done, I think there are two things that should be noted about this project. Firstly, art should be for everyone and not just those in close proximity to it. This isn’t a replacement for a trip to an art gallery by any means, but makes far away galleries and artwork more accessible to anyone with a computer or a local Internet cafe. Also, like most Google project I would expect that this takes a similar “beta” approach. Try it out, throw it to the public and see what works. It has served them well so far (minus a few exceptions…. Wave does come to mind!)

Secondly, and I think more importantly this demonstrates a potentially lucrative commercialisation of the Street View technology. Taking the camera off the street and into a building can provide a number of opportunities for business of all kinds. Imagine being able to virtually enter the world’s biggest and most famous stores from the comfort of your own keyboard. Being able to buy “off the rack” from Harrods or London, or Bloomingdale’s of New York. Being able to click on a store item and then be redirected to an online shopping portal to purchase the product that you just virtually selected.

I don’t think we are there yet, but I do believe it presents and interesting amount of scope for the future of the online shopping experience. As altruistic as the Art Project may be, remember Google likes making money too!

Posted By: Chief Tech
Last Edit: 13 Feb 2011 @ 09:31 PM

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 02 Jan 2011 @ 6:20 PM 

Home Internet with Anonymity Built In

With the debate about online privacy, anti-tracking, clean filter and the like raging and will no doubt to be raised again this year, this is a project that may gain some traction.

For the technically inclined, there are any number of products that will provide this type of function. However, for the less than technically inclined having the configuration built into the router itself may prove to be a more comfortable option.

Posted By: Chief Tech
Last Edit: 02 Jan 2011 @ 06:20 PM

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 08 Oct 2010 @ 7:47 PM 

For those of you who think that censorship hasn’t yet hit the Internet….read on:

Google Instant is the latest incarnation of the search engine that fills in potential responses as you type them into the Google search bar. Some people think this is great while others feel like Google is reading their minds and are freaked out by it. We believe it’s fun for at least one reason.

Like everything these days, great care must be taken to ensure that as few people as possible are offended by anything. Google Instant is no exception. Somewhere within Google there exists a master list of “bad words” and evil concepts that Google Instant is programmed to not act upon, lest someone see something offensive in the instant results… even if that’s exactly what they typed into the search bar. We call it Google Blacklist.

Give it a try. Go to the Google home page. Type in “puppy” and see the many results that fill your screen. Now type “bitch” and admire the blank screen. In this case, the two words could mean the exact same thing. But Google Instant is erring on the side of caution, protecting the searcher from seeing something they may not want to see.

Obviously, all you have to do is hit return to get the results like you always could. However, even when your request isn’t blacklisted, you’re not getting the SAME results that you would get by hitting return. Entering “murder” into the search bar and hitting a space gets you suggestions of mostly band names. It’s only after you hit return that you can learn the other sinister meaning of the word. What we have here is a demonstration of how content can be filtered, controlled, and ultimately suppressed. It is indeed a good thing that Google isn’t evil.

If you would like to see the words that 2600 have confirmed already to be on the “blacklist”, check this link

Posted By: Chief Tech
Last Edit: 08 Oct 2010 @ 07:47 PM

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 06 Oct 2010 @ 6:39 PM 

At first glance this could be some talented computer animators take on Google. However, when you add the fact that it was a paid commercial shown in Times Sqaure on the Jumbotron it takes on a bit of a new meaning.

Essentially this is a fight between a privacy advocate group and Google (who appear to have snubbed them at their own peril) over liberties taken with the use of user (i.e. most of the Internet) personal information.

While I think their intentions may be noble, I think they are fighting a battle that has been fought, lost and celebrated by the victor over a few generations! If you wanted privacy on the Internet, around 1995 was the time to put these mechanisms in place.

Two refuges exist for the true privacy seeker:

  1. Stay offline
  2. Get to know Tor, BetterPrivacy for FireFox and PGP

(Oh, and slight irony alert. I wonder how much YouTube found out about you and your viewing preferences while watching this video?)

Posted By: Chief Tech
Last Edit: 06 Oct 2010 @ 06:39 PM

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 20 Jul 2010 @ 9:38 PM 

Someone in the US Cyber Command HQ at Ft Meade has a slight sense of humour. Check out their logo

US Cyber Command

US Cyber Command

Can you spot the hidden message (hint….you may need to click on the image to enlarge it)?

I will reveal it only because anyone with the ability to Google will no doubt be able to get the answer. Look at the text around the inner circle of the logo. You will see the following numbers and letters:


What does it all mean? Try running the string through a md5 decoding utility like the one located here and see what you get.

Listen…….can you hear the sound of Dan Brown working on his new novel as we speak?

Posted By: Chief Tech
Last Edit: 20 Jul 2010 @ 09:38 PM

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 02 May 2010 @ 10:32 PM 

While most web-savy people can name Tim Berners-Lee as the inventor of the World Wide Web, few could possibly identify its co-creator, Robert Cailiau. This interview was picked up off TechCrunch and shows an interesting insight into what we know of the Internet today from one of its pioneers.

Posted By: Chief Tech
Last Edit: 02 May 2010 @ 10:32 PM

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Categories: Internet, Technology
 28 Apr 2010 @ 11:28 PM 
Opera Mini

Opera Mini's Dirty Little Security Secret

The recent release of Opera Mini for the iPhone has seen it shot straight to the top of the Free Apps charts. This in general is good. The Safari iPhone browser is a little lacking in feature and competition is always generally good in such a regimented environment.

Now here comes the but. One thing that isn’t widely known by the majority of the consumer market (I am excluding those with some technical knowledge here) is how Opera Mini works and the ramifications on visit any secure site such as online banking (which should be noted a few banks are now offering mobile device friendly websites and I am sure more to follow).

One of the big selling points is the speed that Opera Mini achieves. Unfortunately it achieves this via proxying all content, compressing it for mobile platform delivery and then passing it on. On the average website this isn’t such a huge problem, however on a secure site such as a banking website, this will expose your details to the servers that are acting as the proxy.

On the whole this itself may not even be a problem, I am certain that Opera have security around this infrastructure to prevent disclosure of information. However I think this does raise a few general questions:

  • How about full disclosure to your customer’s Opera? Yes, this information is available, but to the general punter downloading Apps via the App Store
  • I trust the people employed by services that offer secure connections such as banks. Granted this isn’t iron clad but on the whole any business (such as a bank) that relies on a secure connection for its business will makes efforts to ensure that security is maintained. Opera isn’t in this business and as such don’t really have a stake in protecting your information

Am I saying not to use Opera? No, it is a viable option as a web browser. All I want to point out here is that you need to be aware exactly what is happening to your information and the fact that Opera should be making this fact a little more accessible to the average user

Posted By: Chief Tech
Last Edit: 28 Apr 2010 @ 11:28 PM

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 24 Apr 2010 @ 10:19 PM 

An interesting new tool currently in beta is Tom’s Planner. This tool allows you to create gantt chart online completely within the site. Your charts are saved locally to a text file (no online storage on offer with the server) and you also have options to export your chart to an image or into a format that can be imported into Microsoft Project.

The site is clearly labelled beta however from what I experienced that is more from a functionality point of view than stability. The site operated flawlessly and very quick. In terms of functionality, it is perhaps a little lacking. I created a gantt chart relating to a project I am working on, but found that needed to export the data to Microsoft Project to really finish it off. Given the current beta label this may be addressed in future releases.

Currently there is no published pricing plan. Accounts are free with an indication that anyone using during the beta period will receive a free one year subscription when they go live.

How useful is this? Realistically if you are looking for a tool to create gantt charts this doesn’t compete with commercial offerings just yet. However, this fully-web based application would bring some advantages for the ad-hoc gantt chart creation where other software was not available.

The export process is one of its main strengths at this point given the limited functionality. The process of getting the data into Microsoft Project was fairly easy although it defaulted my project start date to 2049! Nothing that couldn’t be fixed easily however.

I would recommend checking these guys out (particularly during their beta period) and see if it fits your gantt chart creation needs.

URL: http://www.tomsplanner.com

Twitter: @tomsplanner

Posted By: Chief Tech
Last Edit: 24 Apr 2010 @ 10:20 PM

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 09 Apr 2010 @ 1:39 AM 

For the fans of Modern Warfare 2, a fan tribute. Great production values!

Posted By: Chief Tech
Last Edit: 09 Apr 2010 @ 01:39 AM

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Categories: Internet, Technology, Video