* Posts by JoeyG

7 publicly visible posts • joined 7 Jul 2010

Zero-knowledge proof crypto scheme divines truths from nothing


Re: No E-Voting cannot be democratic

This is a tough problem but not insoluable. What you need is a way that people can change their vote after the fact (which is hard, because you need only one to be counted while leaving all their votes invisible, and you probably need the number of times any person voted to be invisible too), and a way that any proof that they voted one way or the other can be forged, at least by the voter herself, while still giving the voter cryptographic proof that her vote was counted correctly.

And of course you want the "obvious" requirements that the vote counters cannot determine individual votes, cannot censor votes, cannot stuff votes, etc.

This perfect storm of conflicting requirements means that academic cryptographers absolutely love this problem. Go to eprint.iacr.org and search "voting" to get a sample of their work.

But it also brings in another human problem --- is is extremely hard to conceive of such a system where you can convince ordinary citizens of its correctness. And without that, you've got a seriously undermined democracy.

PoW! Academics KO Bitcoin mining mammoths


Nope nope nope

The proposed scheme is not progress-free, so it has natural incentives toward centralization. This is basically the most basic requirement of distributed proof-of-work schemes, which shows the researchers do not understand the way that Bitcoin is supposed to work. Their overt sensationalizing also suggests this — (a) Bitcoin's hashpower has LONG been majority-controlled by 2-3 mining pools, and (b) GHash.IO has long had a significant proportion of hashpower. Both are serious problems for a supposedly decentralized currency, but the notion that Bitcoin is "suddenly centralized" in an "Armageddon" event a few days ago is simply nonsense. There was no flag day.

Furthermore, this whole idea of eliminating large pools by making pooling impossible is flawed. Pools are necessary to reduce income variance to a point where ordinary miners can participate. Without them, mining will pretty-much have to collapse into oligarchy (perhaps funded by hosting mining power, a far worse centralization risk than pooling).

A useful research direction would be to force miners to actually verify the work that their pool is giving them (or even control this work directly, as is done for example by P2Pool) to at least ensure that they -can- detect malicious behaviour. Or if the researchers are really just PR goons, perhaps they could push education out to miners that (a) larger pools do not mean larger payouts, so diversify for chrissakes, (b) using decentralized pools like P2Pool are good for Bitcoin's security, so miners who care about Bitcoin (hopefully most of them) should go in that direction.

Crap like this where self-promoting researchers say smart-sounding nonsense is very damaging to the Bitcoin ecosystem because it discourages real researchers from wanting to be involved in the system. The PR fallout is stressful enough to deal with without The Reg promoting it.

Once-prolific Pushdo botnet crippled


There is a solution.

Send someone out to put a bullet in those servers. I know just the man for the job...and it seems the FBI does, too.

Pirate because there's no cowboy flag.

Skeletal scanner would ID terrorists from 50 meters


Can't disguise their bones?

They "can't disguise their bones" has to be the stupidest thing I've ever heard a researcher say - but is a typical justification for yet another technology that will exclusively track people who aren't trying to hide.

Linux kernel purged of five-year-old root access bug


"no-one's looking"

Take a look at the Xorg code, and tell me if you want to analyze it. (I'll save you the time: the answer is no.)

X is a quagmire of decades-old code, bizarre hacks, frightening memory and hardware usage, all sorts of suspicious behaviors (the Fedora maintainers give it a free pass now, for example, because it manages to trip every selinux rule they try to give it). Basically, it's huge and complex and running as root. This is a Big Problem, but not an unknown one. This bug caught nobody off-guard.

Work has been going on for years to get X running without root access. We're nearly there - modesetting is now done in the kernel, and a few people have actually got X running without root access. So look for it in the next version or two of the major distributions.

Plane crash kills 'series of tubes' Senator Ted Stevens


Not a big truck

He said, "the Internet is not a big truck - it's a series of tubes," causing everyone to wonder what kind of an Internet a "big truck" would be a metaphor for. That, and Jon Stewart's animation explaining how racehorses and poker chips have no problem getting through said tubes (since they are fast and round, respectively) (and Stevens was promoting online state gambling in Alaska), while all the crap the "little people" try to download is pointy and gets jammed.

Plus, his point was one against net neutrality.

Therefore, no matter how apt a "series of tubes" is as a metaphor, there was no way he could avoid being lambasted for that quote.

Cowon iAudio J3 personal media player



When I first picked up the S9 I literally threw it in the air because it was so light compared to the D2.At the time I thought it was a remarkable achievement, so I'm a little disappointed with the J3's heft. However, the SD card is something I sorely missed.

However, I probably won't be getting one for a long while, since both the D2 and S9 are still in working condition - despite years of abuse. To contrast, I had two iPoad Nanos, neither of which made it a single year. I'll accept that's entirely my fault, but the fact is Cowon products are tough shit.

As for gapless playback - this is actually a problem with the MP3 spec. I can't remember the article I read about this, but it said that MP3 files are structured in blocks of fixed time - so it's impossible to determine whether blank space at the end of the file is padding (and needs to be stripped for gapless playback) or deliberate silence (which better not be stripped or you're mutilating the song).

Finally, in regards to the file formats - all decoding is done by the SoC, which is manufactured by Telechips (for the D2 and S9, anyway). I think Cowon just copies the formats-supported list from Telechips, so it's a good chance they'll be just as surprised as you to find it can play H264 and ACC.

Apple I believe just hacks off any trailing silence. Because they know better than the recording artist how songs should end.

Linux because Cowons can play FLAC and OGG files - which is why I started buying them in the first place. (Also the quality and power of the internal amp.)