Friday, October 28, 2016

Cryptography is More than just Hiding Data

The importance of inaccessible cryptographic schemes cannot be denied. While governments claim the "need" to unlock cryptographic codes, "for security," recent examples abound of the need to keep the idea of a "backdoor" out of public discourse.

Cryptography does more than obfuscate information. In this Economist article, we read about, "Blockchains are also the latest example of the unexpected fruits of cryptography." Blockchains enable Bitcoin to operate without central management or authorities. A blockchain is a public ledger of all transactions that have ever been executed in a system. A block is the “current” part of a blockchain which records some or all of the recent transactions, and once completed, goes into the blockchain as a permanent entry.

Mathematical scrambling is used to boil down an original piece of information into a code, known as a hash. Any attempt to tamper with any part of the blockchain is apparent immediately—because the new hash will not match the old ones. In this way, a science that keeps information secret (vital for encrypting messages and online shopping and banking) is, paradoxically, also a tool for open dealing.... A trusted private ledger removes the need for reconciling each transaction with a counterparty, it is fast and it minimises errors.

Peer to Peer file sharing networks removes the need for centralized databases and heavy storage areas. Think BitTorrent or distributed cloud storage. An increasing number of organizations and political parties have proposed the creation of a blockchain-based system to build a fairer and more transparent voting environment. The Danish political party, Liberal Alliance, proposed using this approach for e-voting.

Anything where an accurate record is needed, a blockchain can be useful. This could be included in the hash to any file, for a record. Instead of having a central source keeping track and controlling the flow of information, all communications are agreed upon through a consensus of all nodes in the network.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Bender Would Be Happy

Robots need liquor... Now, they can serve themselves...

As part of a small partnership with Anheuser-Busch, Otto, the self-driving trucking startup acquired by Uber, delivered 45,000 beers from a weigh station in Fort Collins, Colo. to Colorado Springs.

Read more here...

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Amazon Should Pick Up Their Empty Boxes to Recycle

Why doesn't Amazon. with their fancy new delivery services, pick up the empty boxes of our purchases, and re-use them?

Of course, you could donate to a worthy cause, packing the goods in your Amazon boxes.

Goodwill – the organization that receives all the unwanted clothes and household items from Give Back Box’s participants – pays for the costs of shipping as a way to increase its donations...
Sophie talks about options for recyling on her blog. Here's a discussion about the idea, on Amazon's forums.

@amazon #bluedog

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Poor Writing Does Not Have to Be a Cost of Doing Business

This article captures a common problem faced by institutions on a daily basis:

Poor writing creates a drag on everything you do. It functions like a tax, sapping your profits, and I can quantify it. American workers spend 22 percent of their work time reading; higher compensated workers read more. According to my analysis, America is spending 6 percent of total wages on time wasted attempting to get meaning out of poorly written material. Every company, every manager, every professional pays this tax, which consumes $396 billion of our national income. That’s more than half of what we pay for Medicare—but the poor writing tax pays for nothing but waste.

Read more here...

Saturday, October 8, 2016

MITRE wants you... to help secure the IoT

Over at SlashDot...

MITRE Corporation, the non-profit corporation that helps tackle some of the trickiest technical and security challenges out there, is dangling a $50,000 prize for anyone who can develop a solution for spotting rogue devices within an Internet of Things network...saying that it's looking for ground breaking new approaches to securing diverse Internet of Things networks like those in connected homes.

"Network administrators need to know exactly what is in the environment, or the network -- including when an adversary has switched out one device for another. In other words, is the smart thermostat we see today the same one that was there yesterday? We are looking for a unique identifier or fingerprint to enable administrators to enumerate the IoT devices while passively observing the network... "

Read more here...