TCLP 2012-04-16 News

This is a news cast, an episode of The Command Line Podcast.

This week’s security alerts are researchers develop improve quantum encryption and five year old remote code execution hole patched in Samba.

In this week’s news, algorithms for smart sand that sculpts itself, print your own robots being developed, exotics electronics may be possible with topological insulators, and multi-core chips as mini internets.

Following up this week The Pirate Bay promotion attracts over 5,000 artists and Blue Systems steps up to sponsor Kubuntu.


View the detailed show notes online. You can also grab the flac encoded audio from the Internet Archive.

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5 Replies to “TCLP 2012-04-16 News”

  1. RE: CISPA

    You know I push for details whenever their is seemingly overt political positioning, and in a way this is also an outsiders view of the hacktivist community, that you can take as an honest opinon, or you may reject outright the choice is yours and of no concequence to me.

    In a democracy, commenting and improving legislation is a must, and to this end I think the hacktivst community/ EFF have outright opposed one too many items to such a degree that I now question whether the EFF or the hacker community even understands or grasps the concept of democratic compromise.

    I am reading that many people oppose the bill due to its “broad language”. Which that is fine, however, it is a bit duplicitious to oppose a bill that has “too broad language.”

    After all, if a bill’s language is “too broad” then why not an offer more narrow language? Where’s the compromise? Where’s the willingness to acknowledge that that bill was crafted for a reason, and that reason is a valid one? (or as I suspect this is a broader unaddressed philosophical divde, despite my own limited efforts)

    Unfortunately, this does not seem to be the EFF’s idea, regardless of the finer points of contention they simply want to oppose the bill, and crowdsource their own opposition.

    At what point will the EFF and by extension the hacker community come to the realization that, if they want to contribute to the laws of the larger society, then, they must engage with issues that they have traditionally opposed outright?

    Hacktivists love to point to the mess of the legislature yet they also, like many other poltical groups in this day and age, fail to soften their own poltical hard-line (us vs them) approch.

    I’ve have tried my best (and suffered the consequences (social beratings/ snarkings/ bannings etc)) to makes these realities known to those in said communites, yet as is apparent by the unwillingness of such groups like the EFF to either offer alternatives or to speak to compromise I think that we are about to go through another one of these round-about vapid politicking, and dialogue will fail to open yet agian.

    Really, who cares who “wins” either way the community has lost an opportunity to make a reasonable and lasting contribution through actual engagement with the language of that issue.

    Then again god-forbid anyone one the internet for disagreeing with the EFF.

    OK, I’m ready for the snark filled diatribes against my person for, “not getting it.” In the end it doesn’t matter, I’ve had my say and I can only hope that I won’t get banned or blocked for mentioning here.

  2. Whether you agree or not, vague language is a valid concern. It reads directly on how courts will struggle to interpret the law and how the new mechanisms it will institute may be abused.

    The challenge to the reasonable request you are making is timing. The bill could go to a floor vote as early as next week. There isn’t a lot of time to pressure its sponsors to hear amendments, an avenue that was in fact explored but ultimately failed with SOPA and PIPA.

    I do share your concerns that too often putting out very general calls for opposing new legislation invites eventual skepticism from the wider audience of online users to which these appeals are targeted. That doesn’t mean that there are not valid problems with CISPA.

    I would suggest that in addition to asking good, critical questions about how EFF is acting to oppose a problematic bill, you also pose your thoughts as a more general question: if the outcome is so valid (which is highly debatable for CISPA) then why don’t the sponsors allow more time for debate, relying on the strength of their arguments rather than a rush to enact a problematic bill?

    The willingness to compromise you ask for requires time and opportunity provided by the sponsors to be seen as worth pursuing by hackers and other concerned netizens. EFF is not in a position to directly propose amendments, either. Doing so usually requires an ally within Congress, something we are lacking as those that opposed SOPA and PIPA and worked to make room for debate and deliberation have been convinced by the vague threats and poor reasoning around security risks motivating this bill. (Bruce Schneier’s books and blog are excellent, accessible resources on how we make poor decisions when it comes to risk.)

    If you are not already, I suggest you read Mike Masnick’s coverage of the questions around CISPA as being a bit more thoughtful. In his most recent post, he does give credit to the sponsors for considering amendments but correctly points out that they are not receptive to those suggested by the public, only technology companies.

    1. Thank you for the additonal resources,

      However you so quckly and unequvically jump to the conclusion that I am a supporter of the legislation. I am not, and I have never made any such claim.

      I am not sure where you got that fact from other then perhaps to guess that very act of me questioning the methods of an orginization and group that you support somehow makes me a party to those you oppose. What conclusions am I supposed to draw here?

      I think you, as other activists in the online world, are deeply confused by me and my position in American Life and politics. I am just a citizen who is naturally skeptical of ALL poltical players, and I don’t want to go down that road as to who is in fact the more correct poltically.

      With that said I’m not sure how to respond to you as you have assumed that I am a supporter of the bill, and thus apparently the rest of my concerns (mostly the philosphical ones) need not be addressed.

      I sense that I might be on your last nerves and if I am I wish that you would let me know, so that I can reassess my own engagement with you.

      You voice a poltical interest and I am simply a citizen doing my due dilligence. Now as I have asked you before, if you don’t want me questioning or bothering you, then all you have to do is tell me and I will leave you be.

      I hate to be so frank, but do you grasp where I am coming from?

      1. If patience can be increased by its exercise, you certainly give me repeated workouts.

        I apologize for not addressing what was clearly the more important question to you.

        I don’t really have a good answers as to why people get defensive of the things for which they have affection. Perhaps it is the urge to simplify arguments by trying to frame them in stark, polar terms. It takes time and cognitive cycles to contemplate, engage with, and respond to more nuanced approaches, such as the questions you routinely ask. I hope you understand that I side with you that these issues are almost always complex. As your reaction clearly indicates, you oppose the bill (I didn’t mean to imply otherwise) but have good questions about how we are reacting to it and trying to address the questions and criticisms raised (I *tried* to give you credit for the quality of your question.) That is an admittedly complex view that perhaps runs afoul of the mental shortcut I am trying to describe. Perhaps resources on cognitive science and psychology may be more helpful here.

        As far why hackers in particular are fond of EFF, I think there are some pretty simple explanations. In the historical vein, Bruce Sterling’s Hacker Crackdown offers ample evidence. For more contemporary reasons, the fact that they specifically focus on issues near and dear to hackers is clearly part of it. There is also their firsthand participation in hacker events, fund raising at events like Defcon, Shmoocon, etc.

        I clearly need to update the intro to my podcast and the language on the web site. I am more than a citizen these days, working as I do now in public policy after years of volunteering and as an individual, online activist.

        By way of explaining my defense of EFF and how they operate, I am not shy about the fact I am a long time sustaining donor. Working for a nonprofit, now, collaborating with other nonprofits, I am accruing experience on how each such organization choses to prioritize and utilize its limited, limited resources.

        1. You are always gracious, and empathetic and I wish I could say the same for ther interactions that I have in the online world, but in-so-far as my limited experiance, you seem to be the exception, and I wished your patience would be the norm, rest assured this has tried my patience as well. Yet, I derive great value from our dialogue.

          I’m currently training to be a tradesman. Those of us who are in the trades have a much different take on “new” (internet related and “virtual”) technology. So what for you may be a matter of affection, is to those of us entering the trades at times conflicting with our livelyhoods.

          So college educated though I may be, my 4 year degree, and my skills with “knowledge work”, research, and baseline proficiency with technology seemingly aren’t enough. It’s easy to calls us “Luddites”, after all that revolt was about jobs; yet, that in itself isn’t the issue.

          In our own way we are engaging in what I thought all this “new” technology would be best at, dialogue. However, as both of us can attest this isn’t happening on a wider scale. The fact it hasn’t has and always has been my primary concern.

          Both “tech” websites and “activist” organizations set up what are essentially broadcast channels and not are not intended to be outlets for civic engagement and dialogue (I’ve aready described what comes of attempting to do so on such sites, either the site owners suppress dissenting voices, or the chorus of “likers” might drum you out with shame or snark).

          And in-so-far as they aren’t outlets for “common” dialogue these groups don’t have to write up an immediate response to dialogue in a bill (even if that is supposed to be what the internet is for). However, it is fairly easy to rebuff disagreeable language with an article or text (newspaper style, a day later) explaining why you disagree with it (Many such online orginzations simply put up “articles” that call for people to wholeheartedly accept their point of view and as such are devoid of explination (or even linkage to such explination!)).

          To my mind, the EFF is to the Government what I am to your site similar. So as “Joe tradesman” it baffles me when those “defending technology” don’t use it in the manner they themselves endorse, for active dialogue. Rather they chose to revert to the old forms of politics (to which they are opposed) that are either pseudo-lobbiest, or simple opposition and poltical-base building. (To be fair the EFF does at least do Legal briefs, but the internet is supposed to be their bread and butter!)

          (This dissonance is my source and motivation for examining the conflicting philosophies and seeking resolution of those conflicts that continue unaddressed despite the technology itself.)

          So there-in is my critique of modern activists, and I do not intend this as any sort of personal attack, as I said earlier you are one of the few willing to engage in meaningful dialogue even as it puts great strain on yourself.

          So I apologize if this has taxed your patience, bur rest assured that I do gain a great amount of value out of our interactions; however, it seems that the reciprical may not be true and for that I am sorry.

          I would like to see your work and podcast contine.

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