Life Comes in Bursts [en]

A few weeks ago, it looked like I had time on my hands. Things have accelerated recently (including a series of disruptive personal and professional issues, all over the course of a couple of weeks) and I’m now looking at a very busy week before I head off to Leeds next Sunday (not tomorrow, Sunday 10th).

I’m working on a long article in French around “Piracy is not Theft“, and also an English version of my article on care of indoor cats for Kits and Mortar, which partly explains the silence here these last two weeks.

Do you also notice this in your lives? I know all about the “feast and famine” cycle for the freelancer, but I’ve found this to be true (for me) in almost all departments. Nothing on the week-end for weeks, and suddenly 4 things in one. Everything is fine for ages, and suddenly 3-4 nasty pieces of news over a few weeks. Work goes smoothly, and then issues start coming up with a bunch of clients all at the same time.

I understood years ago that imbalance is the source of life. Oscillating chemical reactions are what make our hearts beat and what keep us breathing. Life is never stable, at all levels. So I’ve got better at dealing with these “when it rains, it pours” phases… but still, isn’t it annoying sometimes?

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Progress in Restoring CTTS [en]

[fr] Voilà, après la destruction involontaire de mon blog il y a une dizaine de jours, j'ai pu remettre en ligne tous les articles écrits avant le 25 octobre. Le reste suivra en cours de semaine.

After the big blogging disaster, I had a pretty busy week (it was a bad one too, but let’s not dwell on that).

I have now restored all posts and content published before October 25, the last post being about Qwitting Qwitter (remember that one?). Pages are back too, and I’ve put a Pages widget here in the right column so you can access them.

The rest of the content will follow, on Tuesday, normally. With comments.

One side-effect of the import is that I have also “recovered” (haha!) all the duplicate comments that the Disqus plugin inserted in my database. I removed them sometime in January, and this time, unfortunately, removal will not be so simple: the “DISQUS” comment agent I used to identify them got lost in the export-import process.

Ah, and it looks like my categories are an even bigger mess than before: most of them seem duplicated. Maybe it’s time to cut my losses, convert them all the tags, and wipe the slate clean.

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Tom reappeared many months after he suddenly [en]

Tom reappeared many months after he suddenly went missing, one stormy month of august.

It was him, but it wasn’t him.

A pale copy.

Julie did her best: had he been changed, or was he somebody else?

He killed her to protect his secret before she could figure it out.

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Elle glisse élégamment hors de son refuge [fr]

Elle glisse élégamment hors de son refuge accueillant, et part comme à son habitude vagabonder dans les montagnes.

Un ours la surprend. Elle se fige, l’observe, passe enfin son chemin.

Un orage éclate, mais elle continue à marcher, sourire aux lèvres.

Le ventre chaud de la montagne l’attend, le soir venu.

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I sing of monsters and stories untold [en]

I sing of monsters and stories untold, of heroes who fought and won and died, of the wrath of the gods and the horrors of the abyss.

You listen, but you will not believe.

And later, much later, your life will lay before you that all I sang was true.

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With the sky so thick you have forgotten [en]

With the sky so thick you have forgotten the sun above, the ocean opens up, pulls you down into its infinite depths, cool arms embracing you like a small, lost child, until you wake up struggling to breathe, and scream, and cut the ocean open with a flaming sword of hope.

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Busy Week [en]

[fr] Semaine très chargée. Toujours pas le temps de remettre mon blog en état, même si c'est la chose la plus présente à mon esprit chaque jour. En plus mon Mac m'a lâchée ce week-end (heureusement pas durant Lift!) -- réparé déjà, toutefois, grâce à la célérité de Mémoire Vive à Lausanne.

To top it all, just after the Lift conference (you can read the notes I took there by looking at the previous posts), my MacBook fan decided it was time to die. Did you see me holding my ear up to my laptop during the conference? That was because it had started making nasty noises. Thank goodness it waited until the conference was over to die.

Hectic week-end, therefore, but very speedy repairs (thanks Apple Care and Mémoire Vive) — I gave my computer in on Monday, and had it back on Wednesday morning (only because I couldn’t make it on time Tuesday night).

Not having my blog online is turning out to be a rather big source of stress, specially as I have a huge pile of critical things to do for clients or eclau right now. I keep wanting to fix the blog “right now” but I can’t, because other things come first. And while it’s offline, it feels like a kind of part of me is missing — like I don’t have access to all my memories or tools. And that’s what it is, actually. I keep pointing people to stuff on my blog, because that’s where I write stuff I want to be able to point others to. And I can’t.

In addition to that, I understood a few important things about what I actually do for a living (my main focus/skill is strategic stuff), and understanding that is going to change the way I present myself quite a bit. Blog posts and site updates in perspective.

But for now, some sleep, before a horribly busy end-of-week: I need to cram about 3 days work in 3 hours, which is all the office time I’ve got left until the week-end (on the road quite a bit, as you can guess).

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Lift09 — Vint Cerf [en]

Story of the talking dog. Excitement, but nobody is paying attention to what the dog is saying.

Vint feels like the talking dinosaur.


Lift09 141

The Internet works because there are standards, and people cooperate to work together around those standards.

Jan 1983, 400 computers, official launch of the Internet.

Now: 542 mio hosts, 1.464 mio users. Doesn’t count computers behind firewalls.

Lift09 138

Other relevant phenomenon: 3.5 bio mobiles have come into the system. The first experience of the internet for many people in the world is going to be through mobile.

More internet users in China than in the US

Lift09 139

Asia biggest number of users, then Europe. Hard to make predictions about Europe as it keeps adding countries.

Astonishing: the kinds of things that people put on the net! Fridges and picture-frames! (Sounded about as useful as an electric fork…)

*steph-note: internet-enabled picture frames sound cool, to share photos with family around the world*

Internet-enabled surfboard. Surf the internet while waiting to surf the next wave, with wifi hotspot on the beach 🙂

Vint seems to have the house of the future: sensors all over the place, network, monitors temperature of the wine cellar for example, and sends and SMS when something is wrong (happened to him when nobody was home, so got one SMS for every five minutes for the next three days of his trip, and when he got back the cellar was a bit warm…)

For the moment, all Vint can tell is that the lights have been on in the wine cellar, but not if somebody took wine. RFID: could put a chip on the bottle, so would know if it walks away. But you could drink it and leave the bottle! So put something in the cork… *steph-note: wild!*

This year is a significant year of change for the internet. moving to run in parallel with the IPv6 something or other *(steph-note: fuzzy for me)*

In the seventies, nobody could decide how much address space was needed for this “experiment”. Someone wanted variable length fields, too much computing power. 128-bit addresses (3.4 X 10^38 sounded like a preposterous number of addresses to ask for for an experiment).

The experiment never ended… we’re living in it.

Non-latin characters in domain names — that’s happening now. Hard to integrate that in the current domain name system without disrupting it.

Multi-core chips. *(steph-note: technical stuff I’m not following, about clock speeds and chips and stuff and how this relates to the internet)*

Conventional relational databases are not scaling up to the sizes people are looking at today. Petabytes of data…

Bit-rot problem: it’s 3000, can you interpret a 1997 Powerpoint? Big big problem. Application software needed to interpret our bits not available anymore. Need to maintain access to application software after support is dropped.

Before: computing utility = big building. Today, big buildings with lots of computers and people use the internet to access it = Clouds. Cloud makers don’t usually worry about dealing without other clouds. No vocabulary to talk about other clouds. How does one cloud communicate with the other? How do you tell Cloud B to protect the data that’s just been copied to it in the way that Cloud A was protecting it?

Privacy and acceptable behavior: how will we agree on what privacy is online, and what is acceptable or not there?

Big clash between copyright policies and the structure of the internet. Legislators and technologists will have to come together to figure out stuff that will hold in a world built by copying.

Digital libraries. Most works will hopefully be available in online form.

In 100 years we’re going to say “can you imagine that at some point, we had books that did not talk to each other?” How do you navigate a dynamic world of books.

Non-Google project here: Interplanatary stuff. Point-to-point transmission is ok if you don’t have to talk to too many devices or spacecraft. Design a space communication system that is as rich as the internet. Why not use TCP/IP? doesn’t work because the distance between planets is astronomical… it takes 3.5 minutes for a signal to propagate to mars (20 minutes at the furthest). TCP/IP is not designed for 40 minute delays. Other problem: celestial motion. Planets have the nasty habit of rotating and we haven’t figured out how to stop that yet.

Disruptive and highly delayed environment. Devised new protocols. Went to test them in tactical military communications because it’s also a highly disrupted environment. DTN.

DTN transfered way more data than TCP/IP, and the marine corps ran away with it. Where is my experiment?

NASA: Deep Impact Testing. launch a probe and get data, but the spacecraft is still going round the sun, so they used it to test data transmission from and to it. Neat!

This summer they upload the protocols to the space station. August, another craft. October, another, so three nodes. By the end of the year, will have formally qualified the interplanatary protocols, and they’ll be able to offer them to standardize communication in space. => interoperability between space missions, if desired!

Next step: interstellar network. But… today it takes long to get over there to the other stars. So need to work on a propulsion system to fix that. Lot of work to be done!


– Are you happy? Yes, internet shows people are willing to come together and collaborate. And the WWW has demonstrated that **sharing** information is power. Happy to be at Google, because they’re too young to know “you can’t do that” and so they just go and do it. The reason things didn’t work out 25 years ago might not be true anymore.

– Can we keep the internet open? Amazing pressures in the network today. At the time, academic geeks who were happy to work together. Pressures to try and control the network and the way people use it. Not necessarily all bad. Privacy questions. Protecting people. Legal system needs to be adapted. Tension between the open internet and being so shut down that nothing is possible. Somewhere in between the network is openly accessible, things can be tried out. Committed to keeping it as open as possibly.

– Semantic Web, will it become reality? You should ask TBL… Was feeling sorry for TBL because the idea of the semantic web was moving as quickly as IPv6 into the public internet… Link = “something over there that is of interest”. What if we could add a “semantic hyperlink”? Jaguar can be a car, operating system, animal… *(steph-note: this is what wikipedia disambiguation pages do)* More hopeful.

– Is Google the real Big Brother? Doesn’t think so and hopes it never does become it. Helping people manage their information. How well is the information managed and protected? Google recognizes that separate access and privacy is important. E-mail is always read by programmes. The one that puts ads in Gmail just does pattern matching.

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Lift09 — Melanie Rieback — RFID and Security [en]

Whitehat hacker.

RFID uses radio waves to identify things. Shows much of a promise for breaking (?) into things. Next low-end of computing.

You have to bring virtual attacks into the physical domain, when it comes to RFID.

Some security problems:

– Unauthorized tag reading
– eavesdropping
– tracking
– tag cloning
– denial of service

Wardriving for passports. Skimming credit cards from a distance.

Low-level misuse of improperly formatted RFID tag data.

Three main kinds of RFID Malware:

– RFID exploits
– RFID worms
– RFID viruses

“Is your cat infected with a computer virus?” (pet tagging *steph-note: Bagha has one!*)

Google trends for RFID: biggest peak just after Melanie published her paper.

2 bio public transportation system was hacked in and 8-week project by students. Amsterdam.

Issues: same company designing and auditing the back-end security of the system. *steph-booth: gosh, what do people imagine?*

People in charge don’t listen about these issues until they’re demonstrated.

Melanie has worked on a device that does penetration tests and acts as a firewall for RFID.

Can spoof and jam RFID tags.

Listens to the first part of the query trying to figure out what it wants to do, and if it’s something not allowed, it sends out random noise (selective jamming). Filter inbound and outbound queries.

Security: RFID fuzzing.

All the hard work for cloning public transport passes has been done. Just needs to be put together.

The RFID Guardian is being commercialised now (so it’s not just students who are dangerous now).

Companies and governments assume that these attacks are going to stay in labs. They need to wake up. Why put the tools into the hands of the bad guys? The bad guys are going to have the tools any way, it’s time for the good guys to have access (full disclosure). If computer scientists have the right tools they might be able to prevent lots of these attacks. We need an RFID security industry.

The whole project is open source. Hardware and software.

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Lift09 — Frank Beau — Métromantiques [fr]

Notes prises à l’occasion de la conférence Lift09. Bla-bla habituel de prise de notes: je fais de mon mieux, mais ce ne sont que des notes, qui peuvent contenir des erreurs et inexactitudes.

Coup de foudre dans le métro. Comment sera le métro du XXe siècle? A la fois un moyen de transport et d’échanges.

Paradoxal! Un véhicule qui circule, qui voudrait organiser la circulation interne des “particules” qui l’habitent.

Est-ce qu’internet permet d’éclairer cette question?

En France, sites de “retrouvailles” pour personnes qui se sont croisées furtivement dans le métro. Bouteille à la mer pour retrouver la personne qu’on a croisée. 600 annonces en un an. 600 histoires. => quelques pistes.

Matrice commune du récit: montés ensemble, tu es sortie à l’arrêt X, nos regards se sont croisés… plusieurs fois… => bouteille à la mer.

– la connexion s’établit avec le regard (dans le métro, on cherche une ligne de regard où on croise personne, et quand on croise… en même temps on n’arrête pas de regarder les autres. “L’électricité du regard.” => comment on passe au sourire?
– sourire
– contact des corps (le Tetris des corps… uniquement dans le métro) — typologie des contacts corporels dans le métro
– on partage le même temps — pour les pendulaires
– accélérateurs du contact: écouter de la musique, même si on est dans sa bulle; livres!; téléphones portables;

Romantisme urbain de la mobilité. Tutoiement.

Anti-internet par certains aspects:

Co-présence, force du hasard, non verbal, zone temporairement autonome, on est tous acteurs et spectateurs, le métro est un théâtre.

Espace public qui a des propriétés qu’on ne trouve nulle part d’autre. Ces propriétés expliquent la quantité de coups de foudre dans le métro. *steph-note: comme sur internet.*

Culture de l’ephémère.

Le métro, c’est pas un espace si terrible que ça. Internet est une caméra du réel, et un excellent lieux pour les bouteilles à la mer du XXIe siècle.

L’amour existe toujours!

=> mobile dating, rencontre à travers le téléphone portable, bluetooth, wifi, culture de 15 mètres. Phéromones?

3 approches:

– laissez faire! l’amour n’est pas de maths!
– technophéromonisons le métro et voyons ce qui se passe
– le sujet est en fait les codes sociaux de l’amour

Scénario de SF:

Edit, 8 mars 2009: à la demande expresse de Frank Beau, les photos que j’ai prises de son “scénario de SF” ont été retirées de cet article. J’avoue avoir été très surprise et déçue par cette demande (faire une présentation en public, devant 800 personnes munies d’appareils photos et de connexions wifi, et espérer pouvoir “contrôler” la diffusion des visuels utilisés lors de celle-ci, cela dénote à mon sens d’une assez grande naïveté et d’une incompréhension de comment fonctionnent les nouveaux médias — cf. Streisand Effect.) Ceci dit, je ne suis pas là pour chercher querelle, donc je m’exécute, mais à regret. Si j’en ai le courage, je reproduirai le contenu de ces slides ici (ça allait trop vite pour prendre des notes) — mais ne retenez pas trop votre souffle, j’en ai assez sur mon assiette ces temps, comme on dit.

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