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Topics - Renegade [ switch to compact view ]

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I tripped across an interesting site about games. They publish some pretty interesting stuff, and some very thoughtful things.

Here's one example:

And one about Cthulhu (and still thoughtful):

It's very much "meta" in that the underlying concepts are examined in a depth that you've probably never really seen before (applied to games), or have only seen superficially.

While this is a few months old, it's probably worth bringing to people's attention.

I somehow doubt this is unique to Samsung...  :'(

Replicant developers find and close Samsung Galaxy backdoor

While working on Replicant, a fully free/libre version of Android, we discovered that the proprietary program running on the applications processor in charge of handling the communication protocol with the modem actually implements a backdoor that lets the modem perform remote file I/O operations on the file system.

This is a guest post by Replicant developer Paul Kocialkowski. The Free Software Foundation supports Replicant through its Working Together for Free Software fund. Your donations to Replicant support this important work.

Today's phones come with two separate processors: one is a general-purpose applications processor that runs the main operating system, e.g. Android; the other, known as the modem, baseband, or radio, is in charge of communications with the mobile telephony network. This processor always runs a proprietary operating system, and these systems are known to have backdoors that make it possible to remotely convert the modem into a remote spying device. The spying can involve activating the device's microphone, but it could also use the precise GPS location of the device and access the camera, as well as the user data stored on the phone. Moreover, modems are connected most of the time to the operator's network, making the backdoors nearly always accessible.

It is possible to build a device that isolates the modem from the rest of the phone, so it can't mess with the main processor or access other components such as the camera or the GPS. Very few devices offer such guarantees. In most devices, for all we know, the modem may have total control over the applications processor and the system, but that's nothing new.

While working on Replicant, a fully free/libre version of Android, we discovered that the proprietary program running on the applications processor in charge of handling the communication protocol with the modem actually implements a backdoor that lets the modem perform remote file I/O operations on the file system. This program is shipped with the Samsung Galaxy devices and makes it possible for the modem to read, write, and delete files on the phone's storage. On several phone models, this program runs with sufficient rights to access and modify the user's personal data. A technical description of the issue, as well as the list of known affected devices is available at the Replicant wiki.

Provided that the modem runs proprietary software and can be remotely controlled, that backdoor provides remote access to the phone's data, even in the case where the modem is isolated and cannot access the storage directly. This is yet another example of what unacceptable behavior proprietary software permits! Our free replacement for that non-free program does not implement this backdoor. If the modem asks to read or write files, Replicant does not cooperate with it.

Replicant does not cooperate with backdoors, but if the modem can take control of the main processor and rewrite the software in the latter, there is no way for a main processor system such as Replicant to stop it. But at least we know we have closed one specific backdoor.

The FSF encourages all current Samsung Galaxy owners to appeal publicly to SamsungMobile for an explanation (they can also be emailed). Samsung should release this program as free software, without the backdoor, so that Replicant doesn't have to continue defusing the traps they have apparently left for their users.

Quoted in its entirety.

Living Room / Homebrewing
« on: July 12, 2014, 07:50 PM »
So, to continue a chat about brewing your own booze at home...

Spinning off from the recipe thread here:


Also thinking of trying for a honey-ginger mead...hmm...

I'm thinking about adding in some organic honey that hasn't been filtered to death for my next batch of ginger ale. The more complex sugars aren't so easily broken down and should mitigate the extreme dryness that you get when making ginger ale like I described in the post linked above.

I've not used honey in anything like this before. Honey adds a distinctive flavour, so you need to be careful.

I mentioned the dryness of ginger ale to the fellow at the brew store and he mentioned using stevia, but stevia has a very strong after-taste and I'm not very fond of it. I tried it in coffee before, but it's just not very nice (malt extract is nicer as it has a smoother taste compared to the sharper stevia flavour). He also mentioned honey, which is certainly more agreeable than stevia.

I also picked up a "Chimay Blue" kit the other day. It uses 2 cans of malt extract, which is quite a bit.

One other thing I'm thinking of trying is just using the regular malt extract that I buy at the supermarket to create a beer. Lord knows how it will turn out, but it's worth a shot. I like the idea of using non-specialty ingredients or commonly available ingredients.

Living Room / What I mean when I say "I think VR is bad news".
« on: July 12, 2014, 06:25 AM »
An interesting post by a programmer working on VR/AR:


I'm not going to excerpt anything, but if you're interested in AR/VR, this fellow worked on it at Valve and has some interesting things to say. The best stuff is at the end.

This could be VERY big. An open source, P2P decentralised marketplace.


That's where it is maintained.

On Reddit:

  • Decentralized, no servers
  • Bitmessage as a transportation medium
  • One "Public channel" for offers, "Messages" for direct communication
  • Bitcoin for payments
  • Three multisig addresses: one for the payment, two for insurance payments
  • Buyer and seller both send 5% of the sum to one multisig address
  • Both have an (5%) incentive to be honest and stick to their side of the deal
  • After the buyer receives the goods, all three payments are released: 5% back to the buyer, payment to the seller, 5% back to the seller

This could be a threat to eBay and Amazon at some point, but we'll see.

General Software Discussion / Android call recording software
« on: July 10, 2014, 10:07 AM »
I'm looking for some Android phone-call recording software, and asking here because there are a truckload of smart people that I respect.

Mandatory functionality:

* Allows a callback message - this is CRITICAL!
* Records both sides of the conversation
* Allows turning it off easily (for when you call out)

Can anyone recommend anything?

Regarding a "callback message", this is important in jurisdictions where you go to prison for recording a conversation without consent. Calling out can be manually managed, but calling in cannot be manually managed.

** A "callback" is the ringtone that you hear when you call someone,  as opposed to the ringtone that you hear when you receive a call.

In light of the way we all are spied on, I suppose turn about is fair play! ;)

These Twitter accounts tweet every time a government makes an anonymous edit to a Wikipedia article. - Canada - Sweden - UK - US

Source code is available here:

Anyways, I figured that more than a couple people here would get a kick out of that.

Just a quick observation: The Canadians seem to do a lot of grammar edits, while the US counterparts do touchy-feely nonsense.

They are brand new, so not much in there. It should be fun though to see what happens. :)


It appears that there are more and more targeted bots coming out now:

I'm sure there are more out there.

Get your popcorn! This is going to be a fun show! :D

This is actually good news. :P

Adding more above.

Living Room / YaCy - Decentralised Search
« on: July 08, 2014, 07:08 AM »
I just found out about this:

Web Search by the people, for the people

YaCy is a free search engine that anyone can use to build a search portal for their intranet or to help search the public internet. When contributing to the world-wide peer network, the scale of YaCy is limited only by the number of users in the world and can index billions of web pages. It is fully decentralized, all users of the search engine network are equal, the network does not store user search requests and it is not possible for anyone to censor the content of the shared index. We want to achieve freedom of information through a free, distributed web search which is powered by the world's users.


Via: https://www.techdirt...-snowden-world.shtml

Rather timely as I've been finding StartPage doesn't index a lot of things (because it's basically just Google results), so I often end up using DuckDuckGo, which works beautifully. Still, another option besides DDG is welcome.

But, this could be really, really big. If this (or something similar) can effectively compete with Google, we well may see a world where Google actually needs to seriously fight off the censors instead of capitulating so much as they do now. (I've noticed quite a bit of censorship in Google over the recent past - but I am lacking the smoking gun proof...)

Resistance is futile...


“Today there’s no legislation regarding how much intelligence a machine can have, how interconnected it can be. If that continues, look at the exponential trend. We will reach the singularity in the timeframe most experts predict. From that point on you’re going to see that the top species will no longer be humans, but machines.”

More at the link.

Living Room / 20% of sites blocked in UK
« on: July 04, 2014, 11:34 AM »
Get ready to crack out the joke:

ORG's Blocked project finds almost 1 in 5 sites are blocked by filters
Open Rights Group Blocked project finds almost 1 in 5 websites tested are blocked by web filters

High level of variation between ISPs suggest filters are not consistent in protecting children

Overblocking is affecting bloggers, businesses and web users

A Porsche broker, a political blogger and a mum hoping to read an article about post pregnancy care are among those that have been affected by filters designed to protect young people from adult content.

The extent of overblocking has been revealed by Open Rights Group Blocked project, which is documenting the impact of filters. Web users can use a free checking tool on where they can instantly check to see if a website has been blocked by filters. So far Open Rights Group has tested over 100,000 sites and found that over 19,000 are blocked by one ISP or another.

More that the link... if you can see it. ;)

Yeah... You can't make this up.


The XKeyscore rules reveal that the NSA tracks all connections to a server that hosts part of an anonymous email service at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It also records details about visits to a popular internet journal for Linux operating system users called "the Linux Journal - the Original Magazine of the Linux Community", and calls it an "extremist forum".

More at the link. A lot more.

You dirty terrorists! :P

40hz, shades, and many others... I fully expect you to turn yourselves in for your crimes! :P 8)

This post should totally be a poll for how many people pissed themselves laughing! 8)

Kickstarter and Indiegogo have been a fantastic boon to the world at large as they have enabled so many different projects across a wide range of disciplines.

Now, Mike Hearn's Lighthouse is about to take crowd funding to the next level - decentralised crowd funding. This is going to be big. Very big.

Oliver Janssens offered up $100,000 to anyone who could replace the Bitcoin Foundation. His original post is here:

He has just announced the winner(s) here:

He will be awarded $40,000 on completion. After the platform is live, I will put an additional $50,000 towards the first core dev crowdfunding project that gets made on it.

The Eris Project will receive 10% for their efforts. (A freakin' AMAZING DAO proposal based on Ethereum.)

Mike Hearn has blogged about it here:


Welcome to the first update about Vinumeris and the Lighthouse project, and thanks for reading this blog - your interest is both hugely appreciated and tremendously motivating.

About six weeks ago I gave a talk at the Bitcoin 2014 conference in Amsterdam, where I demoed an early version of an application that implements a form of crowdfunding which takes place directly on the block chain. Hopefully that talk will be available online soon. Interest in the project has been much greater than I expected and since then I’ve had meetings with many groups and people that would like to use Lighthouse once it’s finished.

Unfortunately there was a problem – although the app supports entirely peer to peer and decentralised crowdfunding, I planned to make the first version crippled and locked down to only my own projects. The reason was a plan to raise the development costs of the app using Lighthouse itself, presenting a catch-22.

More at the link.

You can find Eris here:

This is some pretty exciting stuff!


BitAuth is a way to do secure, passwordless authentication using the same elliptic-curve cryptography as Bitcoin. Instead of using a shared secret, the client signs each request using a private key and the server checks to make sure the signature is valid and matches the public key. A nonce is used to prevent replay attacks and provide sequence enforcement.

And how it works:

How BitAuth Works

The general flow of using BitAuth to authenticate a request is as follows.

  • Key generation: generate a keypair using ECDSA, on the secp256k1 curve.
  • SIN construction: with public key k1, concatenate the SIN version byte and hashed public key, then encode this in the base58check format.
  • SIN sharing: register your SIN with the remote service using a mechanism of your choosing—generally, this takes place with client registration.
  • Submitting Requests: requests are made over HTTP, with the x-signature header:
    • generate a unique, higher-than-previous nonce
    • include nonce in the body of your request
    • concatenate and sign URI + BODY with your private key, and provide it in x-signature

The server will now verify the signature against the public key you’ve provided and the SIN you’ve shared previously, confirm that the signed nonce is greater than this SIN’s previous nonces (preventing replay attacks), and subsequently authenticate the request.

More at the link.

This is interesting - anti-counterfeiting for 3D printing:

The technology is based around a patented process which embeds tiny quantum dots into products during a 3D printing process, so that their manufacturers can detect counterfeits. The quantum dots are embedded in such a way that they create an unclonable signature of sorts. Only the manufacturers of the products which have these signatures embedded, know what they should be, making it easy for them to detect illegal copies. Such a security feature would work well within a variety of markets

It's almost like DRM for physical objects.

Living Room / Youtube Subscription Channels
« on: July 02, 2014, 12:26 AM »
In case you've not seen the new Youtube subscription changes, here's an example:

Screenshot - 2014_07_02 , 3_24_02 PM.png

Living Room / Microsoft Steals 22 Domain Names from NoIP
« on: July 01, 2014, 03:24 AM »
No-IP does DDNS - dynamic DNS. You can run your own server at home with it, letting you host your own web site, email, FTP, etc.

We want to update all our loyal customers about the service outages that many of you are experiencing today. It is not a technical issue. This morning, Microsoft served a federal court order and seized 22 of our most commonly used domains because they claimed that some of the subdomains have been abused by creators of malware.

A private company uses the courts to steal from another company.

Just how does Microsoft get to steal domain names?

Living Room / Interview with Dr. Richard Stallman at CEBE 2014
« on: June 27, 2014, 08:38 PM »
Here's another interview with one of the most influential people in software (video - 7:49 - so not very long):


Interview Topics:

  • Money
  • Bitcoin & tax
  • After Bitcoin
  • TTIP
  • Ring signatures
  • Icecat
  • Big corps & "Open Source"
  • Decentralized networks, privacy, P2P, etc.
  • Websites tracking people


Anyone else only here because the MPAA sent them?

Related (NSFW):

That's a great tune! =D

Have a look:


What began as an award-winning concept for a peer-to-peer (P2P) marketplace could turn into a revolution in e-commerce.

OpenBazaar is set to take the stage at this weekend’s Bitcoin in the Beltway conference, a Washington, DC-based event that will bring together digital currency leaders and thinkers including Charlie Shrem and Vitalik Buterin. There, project maintainer Brian Hoffman will lead a discussion on the much-hyped decentralized market project.

The concept, formerly known as DarkMarket, won the Toronto Bitcoin Expo Hackathon in April for demonstrating a fully functional P2P market platform with robust decentralized infrastructure, one that enables commerce to take place without the risk of outside actors disrupting the service.

Hoffman told CoinDesk that the central value proposition for OpenBazaar is the freedom of two parties to engage in a transaction without having to rely on the security and integrity of a questionable centralized network.

More at the links.

Presented without comment:


The Steam Summer Sale: A Celebration of Markets (by an ex-pirate)

(or, How a Near-Anarchic Company Killed My Desire to Pirate, Provided Me Countless Hours of Entertainment, and Made a Killing in the Process)

More at the link...

I've noticed that the Youtube bandwidth requirements/defaults just went from 360 to 480. That's a significant jump in bandwidth.

If you visit Youtube now, you may see that the video player is now much larger.

Here's a reference:

So, you're looking at 20~33% higher bandwidth requirements.

I'm smelling some Net Neutrality hanky-panky going on here... Why would you raise the default bandwidth? That makes zero sense...

As Bubbles would say...

Something's fucky!

Living Room / 1-stop open source site for Samsung products
« on: June 18, 2014, 10:21 PM »
I just found out about this:

It's pretty low-key, but you can get open source code for Samsung products there.

Those in favour of global censorship are rejoicing over a recent Supreme Court of British Columbia ruling where the court ruled that it has the power to censor the Internet globally:


Global Deletion Orders? B.C. Court Orders Google To Remove Websites From its Worldwide Index

In the aftermath of the European Court of Justice "right to be forgotten" decision, many asked whether a similar ruling could arise in Canada. While a privacy-related ruling has yet to hit Canada, last week the Supreme Court of British Columbia relied in part on the decision in issuing an unprecedented order requiring Google to remove websites from its global index. The ruling in Equustek Solutions Inc. v. Jack is unusual since its reach extends far beyond Canada. Rather than ordering the company to remove certain links from the search results available through, the order intentionally targets the entire database, requiring the company to ensure that no one, anywhere in the world, can see the search results. Note that this differs from the European right to be forgotten ruling, which is limited to Europe.

The implications are enormous since if a Canadian court has the power to limit access to information for the globe, presumably other courts would as well. While the court does not grapple with this possibility, what happens if a Russian court orders Google to remove gay and lesbian sites from its database? Or if Iran orders it remove Israeli sites from the database? The possibilities are endless since local rules of freedom of expression often differ from country to country. Yet the B.C. court adopts the view that it can issue an order with global effect. Its reasoning is very weak, concluding that:

the injunction would compel Google to take steps in California or the state in which its search engine is controlled, and would not therefore direct that steps be taken around the world. That the effect of the injunction could reach beyond one state is a separate issue.

More at the link, unless it gets censored. ;)

This sounds like a fantastic argument for Maidsafe, meshnets, and darknets, and going further, Distributed Autonomous Organisations. (I'm very tempted to go on there with an additional concept that would further help foil censorship, but... it would likely upset quite a few people as it is extremely disruptive -- and considering just how disruptive those other concepts are already...)

What would you give to be looking over the shoulders of Oppenheimer & his buddies in the early 1940's?

You now have that same opportunity, because software for Distributed Autonomous Organisations is about to go nuclear.

This is a response to a $100,000 bounty set out here:

Here are a few quotes from the Eris page:


A ÐAO is an algorithmically-governed programme that, in using trustless decentralised computing, can serve as a way to formalise multilateral relationships or transactions outside of traditional legal architecture (see the essay Formalising and Securing Relationships on Public Networks by Nick Szabo to learn more on the subject).


At Project Ðouglas, it is our belief that the proliferation of ÐAOs in user-friendly applications has the potential to allow the public to claim back control over their data and over their privacy on the internet. Current free-to-use internet services, from search to e-mail to social networking, are dependent on advertising revenue to fund their operations. As a result, companies offering these services must - to paraphrase Satoshi Nakamoto - ‘hassle their users for considerably more information than they would otherwise need.’ This necessity has skewed the internet toward a more centralized infrastructure and usability system than it was intended.

Where Bitcoin was designed to solve this problem in relation to point-of-sale and banking transactions, Project Ðouglas is working on solving this issue for internet-based communications, social networking and community governance -- bearing in mind that for free internet services such as e-mail, social networking, search and "open data," intrusion into users' private lives and the accumulation and centralisation of vast quantities of personal information in centralised silos is not some minor and ancillary nuisance -- this is a design imperative for everything that Project Ðouglas is engaged in. As such, Eris is not another web service; Eris is significantly different because it has been designed and implemented specifically to not use servers.


It is our firm intention to eventually decentralise entirely the Association’s representative function, and indeed the Association itself, once the AÐAO or the Community’s ability to manage it is sufficiently advanced. To this end we will incorporate code into the AÐAO to procure the release of the AÐAO from the Association’s ownership and control in the event that the users elect a Basic Terms Modification to that effect. We will also ensure that the Association legally binds itself to release any residual control it might have over the AÐAO upon the exercise of Waterbucket (specifically, by way of a declaration of trust constituted in a deed, the material content of which will be made public (the Trust)).

Take over Earth

;D 8)

The project will run off of the Ethereum platform for Turing completeness.

Whether or not this particular project does go nuclear is beside the point - the arms race for DAOs has begun. Traditional institutions would be wise to closely monitor the developments here, because this is going to make many of them obsolete very quickly.

tl;dr - Software just got very, very real.

Developer's Corner / Digital River now taking Bitcoin
« on: June 16, 2014, 07:26 PM »
If you sell software, DR is now accepting Bitcoin!


Commerce-as-a-service solutions provider Digital River – a company that processed more than $30bn in online transactions in 2013, has announced that it has added bitcoin as a payment option for its online merchants.

The offering is now available to merchants using the Minnesota-based company’s SWREG solution for small and mid-sized businesses.

Notably, Digital River said it is seeking to allow customers who use the product to take advantage of the savings bitcoin can bring to international transactions, indicating it now sees bitcoin as one of a number of competing options for such transactions.

The company stated:

“Bitcoin will now be available along with other international payment options, such as credit and debit cards, wire transfers, bank transfers and third-party wallets.”

I can't find it on their site, but for me, I think it might be useful to switch over to DR as they have an excellent system specifically designed for software developers. I've used it in the past, and it's very good.

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