Monthly Archives: May 2004

I hate them more every day…

First PayPal terminates BMEshop's account and seizes their money for half a year. Then it does the same to my personal and unrelated account. Then it terminates my ebay account (which has never even been used for anything questionable, and had a good feedback rating) because they don't like “people like us”. And now they've terminated Freenet's accounts as well.

Folks, goverment censorship is becoming less and less of an issue. We really, really need to worry about big online companies like PayPal and Google doing the government's dirty work. To give you another example, Google doesn't allow gun ads (or type gun terms in — note the strange lack of ads?), which I think is really messed up, especially when you consider the history of gun control…

The Germans took away the guns of the Jews in 1938. Gun control has nothing to do with public safety and never has. It's about taking power away from the lower classes, because guns — as we're seeing in Iraq right now — are the big equalizer. If a civilian population is armed, no army can overthrow them on their own territory short of catastrophic genocide.

What is it good for? Absolutely nothing.

This just keeps getting more messed up… but I wanted to share this scary, scary quote from Alberto Gonzalez, the White House counsel. Here is what the US government has to say about war:

"In my judgment, this new paradigm [ie. 9/11] renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions."

Did no one ever explain to these dipshits when they were babies that “two wrongs don't make a right”?

And while I'm complaining about stuff, why can't journalists do their research? We have all seen how idiotioc they are when they write about piercings and tattoos, but it's scary when you realize that's universal — they're morons on every subject. For example:

The photographs showing Iraqi prisoners being humiliated at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib have badly damaged the reputation of the world's largest army here amid growing opposition to the occupation.


World's largest army. Let's look that up in the Guinness Book (nationmaster actually), shall we?

India........................ 980,000
North Korea.................. 923,000
South Korea.................. 548,000
Turkey....................... 525,000
Pakistan..................... 520,000
United States................ 490,000

China...................... 2,810,000
Russia..................... 1,520,000
United Staes............... 1,366,000

So by no means does the US have the world's largest Army. Not by a long shot in fact — the numbers above are from 2000, and the US has stayed the same but other countries have massively increased their armies. The US does have an awesome Air Force as well as an incredible Navy that both truly dwarf anything else on the planet, but, it just doesn't have much of an army these days. I'm sorry to say it but there are a growing number of unfriendly nations that can dominate the US in ground combat.

So… am I making a good argument for putting a whole bunch of serious nukes into orbit, capturing Canada and Central America down to Panama, and converting that into a single country flying the good old

Oh yeah, read this

Phone call

I'm not sure what is causing the server outages. For all I know the folks over in that big five sided building have taken issue with my previous entry. Time to call tech support.

Me: I need to get one of my servers rebooted.
Tech: OK, what's the IP address?
Me: (I tell him whatever IAM's IP is).
Tech: And what's your CE number?
Me: I'm sorry, I don't know what that is.
Tech: Are you authorized to access this machine?
Me: Sure, it's mine.
Tech: What does it look like?
Me: I have no idea. It has an external SCSI enclosure though.
Tech: Is it leased?
Me: I have no idea. Some of my machines are, some aren't. I'm not usually the one that makes these calls.
Tech: What's your name?
Me: Shannon Larratt.
Tech: You're not on the access list.
Me: Well, I can tell you anything you'd like about what's inside the machine. All I need is for you to reboot it. It's a Windows box, IIS was crashing so I rebooted and it didn't come back online afterwards.
Tech: Ok, but I really shouldn't be doing this…
Me: Thanks.
(I wait a while, a few minutes later he's back on the phone.)
Tech: That was a BSD box!
(He sounds really nervous.)
Me: Are you sure you rebooted the right computer? The IP is…
Tech: I'm beginning to feel like I've been social engineered.
Me: Honestly, you haven't been. Please just double check the IP and reboot the box with the external drive array on it.
Tech: Oh, I see it now.
(Another minute)
Tech: OK, it's rebooted now. But I really can't do any more than this for you, I could already get in trouble for this.
Me: Thanks, I'm already logged in.

Anyway, I apologize for the downtime. I kind of think it will happen again though. I'll say this again, as I always do, remember this about all computers that you use: they're not bulletproof. I always do my best to take care of everyone's data, but please keep a copy of the stuff you care about on your computer at home as well. Don't upload a picture to IAM and then delete it from your own machine.

Why don't you tell everybody what the fuck you gotta say?

I'm sure some of you have read this story (or in French) about using dictionary attacks to figure out what the blacked out text is in partially declassified documents. To explain it in simple terms, since you know how long the hidden word or phrase is, you can vastly reduce the possibilities and make an educated guess as to what is hidden.

I've written software in the past for detecting graphical collisions in text layout, so the sizing and matching part was easy. It's actually a part of the Windows API, so it was really easy to create a prototype of the software described in the article (and it's a lot faster than I thought it would be):

You may remember my goofy little program that spit out new text based on your diary. That uses Markov chain analysis to create a statistical model of language (even the nuances of an individual writer). I've done a lot of work with Markov chain software, and I think that coupled with other contextual tools (a la automated grammar checkers, as well as “guesser” functions in OCR and voice recognition), you could get far, far better accuracy than they were able to get in the article.

My automated rhyming dictionary is built around a word database that understands whether a word is a noun, a verb, or whatever, as well as tense… I think adding this could tune the output even more, and I'm pretty sure that in a lot of these documents, once you get a few of the censored bits, the rest start falling into place — so you have to find the single word ones, and then prioritize those in your dictionary and attempt to build the phrases around those — and a lot of the time you already have a short-list of potential words (ie. in the document above, you can short-list the names of all the suspects). Et cetera. If you get this entry in general, I'm sure you're understanding just how simple this is!

Does anyone know if it's illegal to release something like this?


That's where I've been all day. A number of the entries I added are medical and/or anatomical in nature (if you're busy, here are only those entries: nipple, testicle, exsanguinate, dry gangrene, hypospadia, and bipedicle flap), so if those of you who have letters behind your name could read them over and let me know if I've made any errors, it would be greatly appreciated.