Areas of Interest, as counted by my cat

Category: Industry Commentary (Page 1 of 2)

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Recently I was considering the problem of deep-faked videos and photo-shopped images. The use case I was thinking of was this: Consider a news organization plays an edited clip of a video that appears to show someone saying or doing something that they didn’t do or say.

How to counter this? Perhaps the party in question could release the original, full video and use some mechanism that verifies that it is “official” as opposed to the edited version that would lack such a mechanism.

I believe that the standard technique would be “RSA digital signing” using asymmetric public key cryptography.

User Gilles ‘SO- stop being evil’ on Stack Overflow describes it well:

To use RSA for signing, Alice takes a hash of the message, encrypts the hash using her own private key, and appends the result (this is the signature) to the message. [..] Bob can decrypt the signature using Alice’s public key and see if [his hash of the message] matches. If it does, it must have been encrypted using Alice’s private key, which only she has, so it must have come from Alice.

Giles ‘so stop being evil’ on stack overflow

I also found this article:
A Method for verifying integrity & authenticating digital media

Ted Roche suggests taking a look at Web of Trust, which is interesting.

But perhaps this is all a waste of time. With respect to the news media, we live in a world now where declarations can be made without verification. “Proof” is no longer important. Someone can edit a video or document (whether derived from authentic sources or not) and state whatever the fuck they want to about it, and it will have an impact, potentially damaging, and it won’t matter if there’s an RSA signature associated with it or not.

We need to work on making Proof a thing.

From the “Look at me, I’m an idiot” department

If this was April 1st, I’d be sure that this was satire, but as it is, I’m not sure:

Java SE – Change in Version Numbering scheme in March 2013

In case this vanishes off the web, here’s the gist:

Seriously? I don’t know who is to blame for this loss of sanity. Oracle, you are not so damn important that you need to re-invent this. My understanding is that there is a well-established convention for numbering incremental versions of a product, that allows for such concepts as minor feature releases and bug fix releases.

The scheme is nicely described here on Stack Overflow: How to do version numbers.

What is sad is that back in the Sun days, Java release did follow this numbering convention.

I put on my robe and prophet hat

Six months ago, I went on record* as saying:

In eighteen months, no-one will be talking about “the Cloud”.

I may have to re-qualify that statement:

If your business plan has the word “cloud” in it, you’re doing it wrong.

The point here is that “cloud computing” is not Web 3.0, or a revolution in IT architecture, but much more about economics and risk.

As usual, Bob Lewis says it better and is more deserving of my Prophet Hat.

* ok, maybe it isn’t written down anywhere. But I said it out loud at least once.

Windows 7 : My Idea? Clearly not *grits teeth*


“I’m a PC and Windows 7 was totally my idea” – Microsoft Marketing Campaign, 2009


My Windows 7 out-of-box experience was less that satisfactory.

Actually, it sucked.

Once I got past the standard “Running Windows for the first time” wizard  – you know, entering a username, selecting the network type, etc etc – I was presented with a nice clean Windows desktop. Ahhh…

And then all hell broke loose.

First, Windows Update downloaded and installed some patches and prompted me for a reboot. Already? IT’S BEEN 15 SECONDS, PEOPLE! Give me a break.

At the same time, some Dell Backup software pops up and says I really should create recovery disks, and I really should do that immediately.

At the same time, some McAfee Anti Virus software pops up and says I should register immediately and get updated virus signatures, immediately, before I do anything else.

There’s more: Each of these frelling dialogs had at least three different possibilities for clicking on. Close boxes, Next buttons, hyperlinked text everywhere… What’s a regular person to do?

OK, so I chose Windows Update, and pressed Reboot Now. Seemed like the safe choice. Perhaps I was wrong. I don’t know.

Hey guess what – when do you that, and you log in after the reboot – those other dialog wizardly things don’t show up. It’s just like policemen, when you want them, you can’t find them.

So how do I create my recovery disks now? It turns out that you have to drill down into the Start menu – which no longer shows you a nice expanded menu of all the sh*t installed on your computer, by the way – and find the Dell Backup software, and poke around until you find the right combination of options that allows you to create the recovery disks.

It’s a serious deal, creating recovery disks. You have to put a DVD blank in the drive and then press GO and then don’t do anything until it’s finished, or the process might not be successul. So I set it going.

In the middle of this process, McAfee pops up again. I Can Has Registration? Pleeez?

Then Windows Update is back. You’ve Got Updates! GIVE ME A FRELLING BREAK.

*deep breath*.

After 20 minutes or so, I had my recovery disks, I’d uninstalled McAfee (DO NOT WANT, THANK YOU VERY MUCH) and set about configuring Windows Update to “Annoy only”. Well this brings me to the Microsoft Windows User Interface Designers:

Guys: Who decided that the Windows Configuration would be better served by a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ novel running in a Web Browser? YOU ARE RETARDED. YOU ARE SO RETARDED THAT YOU ARE NOT EVEN HUMAN.

Apparently your memory is so limited that you actually like going around and around in circles and getting nowhere because you don’t realize you are stuck in a loop. That’s the only explanation.

And don’t get me started about The Ribbon(TM). I noticed it in WordPad and was momentarily taken aback because I knew I hadn’t installed Office 2007. Alas, the RETARDS working at Microsoft managed to get their excuse for ignoring the last decade of computer user interaction standards wedged into Windows 7 into at least two of the built-in applications. Thank goodness I never actually use WordPad or Paint.

Enough ranting.

The Good: The stuff that is invisible.

I’m not talking about the frelling transparent windows when I say invisible. The transparent UI crap can all be disabled, thank goodness, and the Windows Classic theme is at least bearable. No, by ‘invisible’ I mean the multi-processing, multi-threading goodness that permeates the OS:  Inserting a disk into the optical drive no longer freezes Windows Explorer. Things like that. When it works, it works better than Windows XP. Most of the stuff under the hood is an improvement. Networking, hardware support, etc etc.

If only the UI people hadn’t messed around with what wasn’t broken. It’d actually be a pleasure to use.

Icland is an icland

This is very cool:

Introducing Google Wave

That is a Youtube movie of a keynote presentation at the Google I/O conference.

My first thoughts are:

  • Sharepoint killer
  • What about SPAM
  • This would rock if it could be deployed on a corporate WAN (in other words, private data, not in the cloud)

Note: The title of this post won't make sense until about 42 minutes into the presentation.

More upgrades

I am now intimately acquainted with the "repair" option of the Windows XP CD setup process; the Windows Recovery Console, and the FIXMBR and FIXBOOT commands. Of those features, I believe that the Repair option wasn't really required, but I guess it didn't hurt to refresh all the Windows system files, reboot three additional times unnecessarily, and apply all the Windows Updates since SP3. I'm sure it was for the best.

In other news, if you have set up your computer for dual-boot between Windows XP and Linux using the Grub boot loader, do not use Partition Magic 8.0 to re-size the Windows NTFS partition. The consequences of this may include destroying the master boot record of the hard disk and rendering your Linux ext2 partition unrecognizable to Linux.

Now I have to re-install Ubuntu 8.10.

I have just about ****ing had it with Microsoft Software

This is happening every time I click on Send/Receive in Microsoft Outlook:

Yes I have rebooted since I last had this happen. It is still happening. Am I expected to re-install Outlook now? Usually you can avoid this shit (and it is a travesty that I even have to use the word “usually” because this kind of unforgivable interaction is par for the course with MS) by installing the products in order of release, but Expression Web is a more recent product than Outlook 2003, and yes I installed Expression Web after Office 2003. So clearly you can’t even depend on that strategy any more.

I guess I’ll try the solution described here: Expression Web Ruminations.

It appears to have worked. Did I over-react? What should my expectation be?

Reason #702 to avoid Windows Vista

The File Types tab has been removed from Folder Options. This feature was available from Windows 95 up to Windows XP and Windows Server 2003.

The File Types
tab allowed users to change the file associations for various types of
files. It allowed configuring which application would open when a user
clicked on a certain type of file, or allowed manually defining a new
file extension, defining/editing custom secondary actions, showing
extensions only for specific file types, or customizing the file icon.
While there is a more simplified option to change the file
associations, called Default Programs in the Windows Vista
Control Panel, this option only allows users to change the default
action that occurs when they double click a file. It does not allow
users to choose which application would load if the user were to right
click on a file and then choose a secondary option such as Edit.

The Open With dialog box in Windows Vista also uses the corresponding Default Programs API which limits only one registered application to be set as the default program. It is also not possible to navigate/jump to a particular extension
using the alphanumeric keys on a keyboard; scrolling is required.

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