digital knowledge. digital culture. digital memory.


NORAD tracks Santa over Fiji

New to this blog? Why not subscribe to its feed or sign up for free email updates?

That's right, NORAD tracked Father Christmas by RADAR leaving the North Pole, then servicing Eastern Siberia, followed by the Marshal Islands, and then over our island home at around 9:30 pm Fiji Time. This year, NORAD is providing two interfaces to their Santa tracking. The one depicted below using Google Maps and...

This one using a Google Earth KMZ file constructed by NORAD (get their KMZ here).

Maybe next year we will be able to go on a ridealong with Santa using Google VR? Happy holidays!

Blogged with Flock


Secret messages - thinking about cryptology

New to this blog? Why not subscribe to its feed or sign up for free email updates?

The history of secrecy is as old as the history of ideas. Whether for reasons of war, religion, power, jealousy, or, of course, love, people of every culture have always found reasons to keep secrets. Of course, keeping a secret is not difficult until you try to communicate it to someone else. What if someone overhears you whispering the secret? Or worse, what if the secret message is intercepted by an assailant and does not even reach the intended recipient?

Simple model for secure communication between Alice and Bob with adversary Eve attempting to view the romantic missive

Historical attempts to foil Eve's efforts have fallen into three categories:
  • Physically secure the message from access to all except its intended recipients. This could include hand delivering a love note to your sweetie at school, hiring a bonded courier to transport contract drafts burned on CDs to your business partner, or hiring an armored car to take a bank vault combination to the main branch for safe keeping. In other words, do not let Eve get her hands on it.
  • Use steganography - Conceal the message in some other innocuous message. This includes communicating messages in innocent looking classified adds in the newspaper, hiding digital signals in what sounds like background noise on telephone calls, or embed messages in otherwise normal JPEGs, MP3, or other files using steghide. [try it!] In other words, do not let Eve know that a secret is being transmitted.
  • Mathematically encrypt the message in such a way that it is difficult for an adversary to recover the original message even if she gains access to the entire encrypted message. In other words, even if Eve gets the message, make it difficult for her to decode it. An early example is a method used by Julius Caesar to protect military orders. Now, message encryption has become a sophisticated military practice and is the cornerstone of the modern banking and e-commerce industries. It is the greatest asset of political activists in oppressive regimes and the scourge of law enforcement and national security forces when fighting online threats.
It is this final approach - the mathematical approach to protecting information, the field of cryptology - that I would like to investigate in the next few blog posts. How does it work? What if criminals or enemies of the state use it?

Icons by: Mark James
Photo by: dirtyfeet


Google wants you to inform on evil websites

New to this blog? Why not subscribe to its feed or sign up for free email updates?

The Google Online Security Blog posted an update to the monsterous corporation's ongoing battle against malware and made the following plea to well-meaning web surfers:

Currently, we know of hundreds of thousands of websites that attempt to infect people's computers with malware. Unfortunately, we also know that there are more malware sites out there. This is where we need your help in filling in the gaps. If you come across a site that is hosting malware, we now have an easy way for you to let us know about it. If you come across a site that is hosting malware, please fill out this short form. Help us keep the internet safe, and report sites that distribute malware.
[Help us fill in the gaps!, Google Online Security Blog, November 29, 2007]
I have confession to make. The first thing that occurred to me when I read this was: this sounds like a great opportunity for online revenge! Fiji's interim government could report the Solivakasama blog, elusive freedom blogger Captain Intelligentsiya could inform on the RFMF site, Fiji's literacy-challenged community could report Paradise Not Found. And it would not have to stop there! The Unwired mavericks could report the ATH duo Kidanet and Connect's sites, Monopoly-buster Inkk could inform on the Vodafone site, the Oceanic hot-heads could report Webmasters, and Channel 2 (if Channel 2 even still exists?) could hit Fiji TV.

Let's hear it for Google's continuing ability to stick to their "do no evil" corporate motto by encouraging us to be informers! The truth is the average Internet user cannot accurately identify a malware site any better than Shiasta Shameem can play ice hockey.

Photo by: Zeet Jones

Blogged with Flock


USP art exhibit - UPDATE: new date

New to this blog? Why not subscribe to its feed or sign up for free email updates?

UPDATE: The opening with the refreshments has moved to December 6th at 5:30pm.

Art exhibit that is open to all - and note the free refreshments. I'll be there and would love to meet some more of the Fiji blogging community.

Blogged with Flock