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Going a Bit Too Low on the tech

July 21st, 2014
Headline: Foreign Governments Consider Reverting To Typewriters To Thwart NSA Surveillance. From the story:
In a television broadcast, German politicians said members in the Bundestag — Germany’s parliament — are strongly considering dropping email altogether, opting for typewriters and penned notes to prevent the United States’ National Security Agency from eavesdropping, the Guardian reported Tuesday. Russian government officials also said last week they were reverting to paper communications. The FSO, an agency that protects the Kremlin government and other top officials, has already ordered nearly two dozen typewriters, according to USA Today. “Any information can be taken from computers,” former head of Russia’s Federal Security Service, the domestic successor the KGB, Nikolai Kovalev, told Izvestia. “[F]rom the point of view of keeping secrets, the most primitive method is preferred: a human hand with a pen or a typewriter.”
Seriously? Nobody ever heard that computers and even entire LANs can be disconnected from the Internet?
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  1. Troy
  2. Troy
    July 22nd, 2014 at 03:33 | #2

    Re your 2006 post: Gizmo: Not Very Good, but Free

    http://blogd.com/wp/index.php/archives/1915

    10.10 apparently has that now, being able to pair with your iPhone and call from a laptop.

    Really digging 10.10′s continuation of Lion’s redesign . . . I wasn’t a big fan of Aqua and am glad to see it gone.

    Also glad Apple decided to replace Objective-C. They made some modernizations, but the old dog was fundamentally flawed at the syntax level, with the too-cute [ ] method call syntax.

    The move from Haswell to Broadwell late this year or early next year will make MBP’s pretty damn sweet . . . still rockin’ my 2008 MBP so Ima ready for the upgrade.

    I was pricing a new Windows PC gaming build at Newegg, but at ~$1600 for all the parts I am pretty unenthusiastic about building a new one, given how mobile is so much bigger these days. A good 2015 MBP oughtta do me fine for all my computing needs for another 6-7 years. The top of the line is $1000 more but has twice the RAM (16GB vs 8GB) and twice the storage (512GB vs 256GB) and it’s much more flexible (I use my laptop 90% on my couch now)

    My IIcx soldiered on from 1989-1996, so this MBP is the longest-tooth Mac I’ve owned. Still mint and as performant as the day I got it, thanks to Apple pounding on efficiency and cruft 10.6 ~ 10.9

    (probably helps that I’ve done a fresh re-install about a dozen times over the years, too, I’ve had 4 80GB partitions on this and just rotate among them)

  3. Anonymous
    July 22nd, 2014 at 06:57 | #3

    Nobody ever heard that computers and even entire LANs can be disconnected from the Internet?

    Yeah, that same question struck me while reading about the repeated incidents of Chinese hacking into US national databases and military sites to steal secrets.

    Access codes are made to be broken. And if they cannot break the code, they will upload a “cookie” and wait until you log in, thereby stealing your code via your keystrokes. It’s just a matter of time.

    The problem with paper is that you eventually need to shred or burn it. Can’t our govt protect itself using an agency-only “intranet” that has no outside access? Sheesh!

    –kensensei

  4. kensensei
    July 22nd, 2014 at 07:34 | #4

    Here is my second comment (seems the first got lost). This one may be somewhat off-topic.

    While the GOP is trying to investigate Lois Lerner’s lost e-mails after her computer “crashed”, I was thinking, “since when did e-mails become fair game for Senate hearings?” Then I later learned about The Electronic Freedom of Information Act Amendments of 1996 under Clinton.

    So it seems that any govt document that has been written on paper or sent electronically can be demanded for this kind of federal “investigation”. Our only hope of any privacy during govt agency communiques is to meet in conference or via phone, and even then who knows?

    I cannot think of any public agency that keeps their inter-business communication strictly job-related. I imagine there are plenty of things being said (on paper or otherwise) that the agency would prefer not to share with the public.

    Is Lerner guilty of destroying agency e-mails? I imagine she is. Does she have any personal bias against some Right Wing organizations trying to claim tax exemption? She probably does.

    But the bigger question that should be asked is whether Lerner displayed any bias in deciding whom to audit. I believe the Senate already has those documentation on who was (and was not) audited, which are the only docs that matter. Yet the Senate is not interested in those because that would require analytical thinking, and are not likely to shift public opinion (aka political points) in their favor.

    I used to dislike the IRS because they made us go through the minute details of our finances every year.

    Now I am starting to re-evaluate them. They keep the good guys honest and make the bad guys squirm a little. But due to ongoing Senate hearings, their power to audit the bad guys seems somewhat curtailed since the GOP is batting for them.

    I hope Lerner and others at the IRS will learn from this and take a new approach to how they communicate with each other.

    –kensensei

  5. Troy
    July 23rd, 2014 at 04:20 | #5

    Our only hope of any privacy during govt agency communiques is to meet in conference or via phone, and even then who knows?

    I don’t think we should have our people in government expect privacy like that.

    If you can’t say it in a memo you shouldn’t be saying it at all.

    This is a good policy for life in general, too. Requires more mental discipline and even-handedness.

  6. Troy
    July 24th, 2014 at 05:19 | #6

    In get-my-own-blog news, the first apartment I lived in in Tokyo 12 years ago is on the market. . .

    https://suumo.jp/jj/chintai/shosai/FR301FD001.do?ar=030&bs=040&bc=100015269895

    I was paying ¥90,000 then, so the rent has gone down ¥20,000, though in USD terms it’s the same since the yen was up around ¥120 then.

    I was paying $700/mo for a pretty nice 1B in LA back in 1992 but the same place rents for around $2000 now.

    Combined with the high cost of health insurance here in the US ($300/mo for a $5000/yr deductible plan), I really wish I could move back to that apartment right now!

    Kichijoji was a pretty livable town, plus the Tozai-sen to Takadanobaba, Chuo-sen to Shinjuku, and Inokashira-sen to Shibuya was great connectivity to the city proper.

    Main negative is that National Azabu doesn’t deliver to Musashino!

    hmm, car rentals are like ¥2500 for 12 hours, so getting out to a Costco that way every two weeks might work I guess.

  7. Troy
    August 10th, 2014 at 06:18 | #7

    Five years ago:

    “But if that was a 4, I don’t want to feel a 6. Even a 5 would be pretty scary. This 4 was bad enough.”

    wikipedia says the 3/11 quake was an “upper 5″ for Kanto. 7 in Miyagi.

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