Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Considering The Jimborg

Proposition 1: Wikipedia is ruined, as a reliable information source, by edit wars.
Proposition 2: Generally, edit wars happen when people care about the information.
Proposition 3: People care more about information with a high social, as opposed to factual, value.

Theorem: The value of Wikipedia as a reliable information source is strongly inversely correlated to the social value of the information sought.

1st Corollary: Smart-phone access to Wikipedia will be the death of pub quizzes.
2nd Corollary: Wikipedia, en masse, has a significant social value.

The Cynics View: It is often useful to know, not just the truth, but what the mass herd of human sheep believe. In countries where the Daily Mail is not available, Wikipedia has an role.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Dodgy BBC Graphic

Also known as - "Not even Gordon's that crap":

Look, I know it is just incompetence in Excel but, please, this is a major media organisation, funded by our money, not an independent. Editors, producers, graphic designers, a moral duty to accuracy, etc, etc.

Monday, November 17, 2008


Or is it? In real terms, remembering that this is US not UK law, it is just another formal step to take in the forensics process - i.e. get your warrant before you start your analysis. There is a much more detailed analysis of how this fits in with the 4th Amendment, 'zipless searches', sniffer dogs noses and 'reasonable expectation of privacy' at Arstechnica and a post on the Volokh Conspiracy which explains why anyone was looking at the computer in the first place. And you could always read the actual judgement which seems balanced and reasonable.

Hash table comparisons, both to exclude known material (NIST produce lists for standard operating system builds and application software installations) - leaving just items that may have been created or altered by the user, or to identify known bad files (malware as well as porn) are great tools for digging straight down into potentially relevant material. Couple this ability to rapidly identify potential evidence with the EnCase Gallery and Timeline views and you can often quickly include or exclude data sources from your case evidence.

The bit about platters seems to be a rather interesting aspect of an important element of US law - did the initial private citizen's viewing of a few images mean that a warrant was not required for a more comprehensive law enforcement search? (This, I suspect, is actually an administrative rather than substantive point for future investigation - would you be refused a warrant if you had a witness complaint of kiddie pr0n? I doubt it.) The contrast between the findings of the Runyan case - a search of a random selection from a collection of disks by a private individual was held to not permit a warrantless search of the whole collection - and this case where viewing some files on a disk does not permit the search of the whole disk is interesting. However, it seems to be based on a slight misunderstanding of technology - disks do not record sequentially on platters, which are an integral component of the overall disk rather than, as appears to have been believed, analogous to the individual CDs in a multichanger cartridge - the information will be scattered across them, therefore there is no reasonable belief that the initial private search did not view multiple platters. Having said that, that the EnCase search was "a search different in character from the one conducted by Hipple, and thus it cannot be defended on the grounds that it did not exceed the private party search" is obvious.

On the whole, it seems to be an excellent judgement, if of minor relevance to UK & European investigations. Anyway, it is back to the 1st rule of digital forensics - it is your evidential processes that will screw things up, not the (ab)use of technology!

Monday, November 10, 2008

More wrong than a very wrong thing ...

H/t to Tom Paine:

There Are 0 Gaps in Your Knowledge

Where you have gaps in your knowledge:
  • No Gaps!

Where you don't have gaps in your knowledge:
  • Philosophy
  • Religion
  • Economics
  • Literature
  • History
  • Science
  • Art

In 21 questions they manage to comprehensively categorise my knowledge? Clearly not. Art, music, sport, literature, economics (much to Mrs S-E's disgust) - all are areas where I am notoriously weak. Science, history, law & politics - I am generally better at. Some more specialist areas, I can 'Bore for Britain' on :(

Just remember - "Any day when you don't learn something new is a day wasted!"

"unimaginable sexual depravity"

Well, Dacre P has clearly either gone through life with his eyelids welded shut and his ears stopped with wax1 or is a screaming hypocrite for not being able to imagine a little bit of what 'charmingly' used to be called 'le vice anglaise' and that 'multi-millionaire' doesn't mean 'able to pay for it'. Guess which option, although I'm not convinced these are mutually exclusive.

Update: Sorry, I was busy this morning and didn't quite finish the first thought - where does a little consensual S&M (even if some of the participants are being paid) fit in, either "unimaginable" or "depraved" amongst the stories of paedophilia, sexual slavery, torture and other activities that the Daily Hate thinks is appropriately prurient entertainment for the common masses?

Okay, I do appreciate that I am taking a BBC News report on trust but I've done the same for the Daily Mail in the past so ... Update: And the full text is available here, in Word format - haven't these people heard of pdf? And the BBC report seems to be a reasonable extract (rather than any attempt at a summary - there is lots of self-congratulatory hubristic tripe about the excellence of the career of Dacre P not covered in the report) and, to be fair to the Beeb, they did also extract his moaning about their state-sponsored power and influence. But they missed this phrase, refering to Mosely: "the very abrogation of civilised behaviour of which the law is supposed to be the safeguard". I refer you to the paragraph above!

Whether Mosely's activities are seen as "perverted and depraved" is completely irrelevant when you consider "the crooks, the liars, the cheats, the rich and the corrupt2 sheltering behind a law of privacy". Mosely, assuming that none of what actually happened (as distinct from what was reported - even with the video evidence, the two not being as linked as journalists would like us to believe) was illegal has not committed a crime. Now, if I had evidence of a crime, being fairly old-fashioned about these things, I would expect to report it to the police3 rather than to the media - as the police can gather evidence rather than speculation and have people arraigned for trial in court rather than on the front pages.

But then I'm not a turd at the Annual Conference of Enormous Faecal Deposits trying to justify why I pong quite so much.

Update 2: If anybody from the "Society of Editors" does chance to read this, you are (technically, 'seem to be') way, way out with your Apache server updates - 1.3.33 is 6 versions out of date, 5 of which have had security functionality fixes4. If you can't upgrade to 2.2(currently).10 then you need to get your arses onto 1.3.41 sharpish.

1. I may be on to something here, though. You know, like blind people developing better hearing? Well, if you force yourself to be deaf and blind, maybe your voice develops a particularly penetrating screech? To 'toynbeeise' yourself, to coin a new and unpleasant word?

2. My joining. Which is probably not justified given the multiple use of 'the'. The 'rich and corrupt' are clearly a legitimate target for investigation (as would the 'rich who place themselves in the public eye' but why should the merely rich not have the protection of privacy? If you just happen to design a better widget, why is your door-step any more of prurient interest than anyone else's?

3. Unless, of course, the 'appropriate' police force is the Military Police (RMP or otherwise). In which case you tell either the miscreant's CO or, if a serious enough civil offence, the civilian police. It's just polite.

4. In case you are questioning the arithmetic, especially in the light of the post above, 1.3.38 never existed and 1.3.40, although it exists and does have two security fixes, was not released therefore I am choosing not to count it.

Friday, November 07, 2008

What to do about the BNP?

Trixy has had a little run-in with the British Racist Party, after she objected to them trying to cosy up to UKIP and claiming support from the Royal British Legion. It's early in the morning but it got me thinking.

  • The BNP are a legal political party, with quite a significant number of representatives at council level and a vague possibility of some Westminster or Brussels representation next time we waste our ballots.
  • Loads of organisations - police, schools, the ballet - will sack you for being a BNP member.
  • Loads of (il)liberals will start screaming for your head on a spike if they discover you have any sympathy with the organisation or even if you agree with their representatives on any specific point (and I have even agreed with Scots Nats on a variety of local issues.)
  • I doubt I am a screaming racist although I probably have some degree of xeno-phobia (the French for a sodding start) and, living the frozen North, am not going to lie to you as claim loads of black friends (or, for that matter, black enemies).
  • Whereas the generic 'we' probably don't hold, and may even deplore, the BNP's positions on many matters, this is the thin end of an extremely authoritarian 'thought crime' stick.
  • I happen to think that "Young Earth Creationists"* and "Intelligent Design" advocates are dangerous loonies who should be kept away from any involvement in the education system. Should my opinion about their entirely legal (if credulous and unscientific) beliefs be enforceable with the sack - especially if they keep it to themselves and don't try and ram it down the throats of their charges?
Clearly, anybody engaging in a crime should be suitably punished after a fair trial and certain motivations for crimes are given special additional punishment because of their corrosive effect on society (e.g. attacking members of the emergency services). But holding opinions, however unpleasant? Many people want to see the return of the death penalty (I don't - I don't trust our prosecution systems and courts to get things right, especially in the sort of notorious cases that would attract the death penalty) - something specifically illegal in the UK under HRA98. Should these people all be thrown out of their jobs (however better a read it might make the Daily Mail)?

If the statist cunts that are failing to run this country had the courage of their convictions (fat chance) they would actually ban the BNP and be challenged about it in court. In the absence of that, perhaps leaving them to fester in their own bile is the best idea and punish people for what they do or try to do rather than what they believe.

Having said all that - my sympathy for Trixy - but that is what you get for poking a wasp nest full of vicious fanatics with time on their hands.

* Like my 2nd Form Chemistry teacher. Oh joy - the basics of organic chemistry being taught by somebody who thought believed that Bishop Ussher may have been out by a whole hour! Or, apparently, by 60 years according to Alice - the joys of Google!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

What we know today

  1. Despite all the whining from the Europhilic liberal elite, it doesn't seem that America is as racist as they might like to portray.
  2. The invasion of Iran is (almost certainly) off.
  3. The electoral college system greatly magnifies relatively small differences in the popular vote. Sort of reminds me of the failings of the first-past-the-post system over here!
  4. The combination of the Smirking Chimp, Sarah Crockett and his age didn't help McCain.
HTTP Error 403: You are not authorised to access the file "\real_name_and_address.html" on this server.

(c) 'Surreptitious Evil' 2006 - 2017.