2013 archive

http compression in lighttpd

Today I had occasion to test trivia’s page load times. I used the (admittedly fairly dated) website optimization test tool and was surprised to find that it reported that parts of the pages I tested were not compressed before delivery. I have the default compression options set in my lighty configuration file as below: compress.cache-dir …

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Permanent link to this article: https://baldric.net/2013/12/30/http-compression-in-lighttpd/

getting close to the nsa

Since my last post there have been a couple more entrants to the Tor logo competition. Neither, strictly speaking, meets the original requested criterion that they be suitable for inclusion in Tor Project team presentations, but each has its merits. The first image below was posted by “David”. I think it captures rather nicely the …

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Permanent link to this article: https://baldric.net/2013/12/26/getting-close-to-the-nsa/

merry christmas

image of tor onion wearing crown

As I have noted before, 24 December is trivia’s birthday. My first post dates from 24 December 2006 so trivia is seven years old today. As is now becoming traditional I therefore post again today. And as a reflection of the story which has come to dominate trivia over the latter half of this year …

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Permanent link to this article: https://baldric.net/2013/12/24/merry-christmas/

tor boost

Moritz Bartl has just posted some good news. Torservers.net, a volunteer run organisation spread across eight countries which provides high bandwidth Tor servers to the network, has just been awarded $250.000 over two years by the Digital Defenders Partnership. According to Bartl’s press release, with this additional funding: participating Torservers organizations will be able to …

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Permanent link to this article: https://baldric.net/2013/12/14/tor-boost/

you choose

A letter in today’s Guardian, signed by someone called Paul Brannen, touched a chord. Brannen commented that it was difficut to find anyone today who did not, apparently, support Mandela’s release from Robben Island. Putting that in perspective, he noted that UK membership of the anti-apartheid movement in the 1980s averaged only 8,500. Brannen concludes …

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Permanent link to this article: https://baldric.net/2013/12/12/you-choose/

caption needed

image of president obama at mandela memorial

This picture, from the french news agency AFP taken at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela, just cries out for a speech or thought bubble caption (or two). Just what is the First Lady thinking whilst her husband poses with Denmark’s Helle Thorning-Schmidt (with our own dear PM trying desperately to get in on the …

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Permanent link to this article: https://baldric.net/2013/12/10/caption-needed/

an historical perspective

El Reg commentards can get worked up about a whole range of topics. That is one of the reasons I so enjoy reading it. Back in May 2009, El Reg posted an article about the then Home Secretary’s decision to place the right wing US Radio commentator, Michael Savage, on a persona non grata list …

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Permanent link to this article: https://baldric.net/2013/12/10/an-historical-perspective/

ssl cipher check

My recent explorations of how to strengthen the ssl/tls certificates I use on both trivia and my mail service have given me cause to look for tools to help me test my configuration. The Calomel firefox plugin and sslabs site are very useful for checking HTTPS configurations, but they are fairly specifically aimed at that …

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Permanent link to this article: https://baldric.net/2013/12/10/ssl-cipher-check/

no more akismet

In common with (probably) all wordpress based blogs, trivia has the aksimet plugin in place. Akismet is shipped by default in the base wordpress installation and new users are encouraged to sign up for an API key. On first configuring the blog’s plugins, users are greeted with the following commentary about akismet: Used by millions, …

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Permanent link to this article: https://baldric.net/2013/12/08/no-more-akismet/

where are you now?

image of map in germany

The ongoing revelations from Snowden continued recently with reporting in the Washington Post about the NSA’s program to track mobile ‘phone location data. Reporting here and elsewhere suggests that the NSA is gathering nearly 5 billion records a day on the whereabouts of cellphones around the world. That reporting, and its obvious implications, reminded me …

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Permanent link to this article: https://baldric.net/2013/12/08/where-are-you-now/

TLS ciphers in postfix and dovecot

A recent exchange amongst ALUG email list members about list etiquette resulted in a flurry of postings on a variety of related topics. I posted a flippant comment about top posting, but did so (deliberately) from my Galaxy tab using Samsung’s default email client which actually forces top posting. Steve responded suggesting that I look …

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Permanent link to this article: https://baldric.net/2013/12/07/tls-ciphers-in-postfix-and-dovecot/

boycott amazon

This time last year I wrote to Jeff Bezos telling him that I was no longer prepared to support a multinational which so arranged its tax affairs that it paid little or no UK corporation tax on turnover estimated (last year) at some £3.3 billion. This year, Margaret Hodge, chair of the UK Parliamentary Public …

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Permanent link to this article: https://baldric.net/2013/12/03/boycott-amazon/

data is imaginary. this burrito is real

XKCD cartoon

As usual, Randall Munroe over at xkcd has his own take on the NSA/GCHQ snooping reportage. My thanks as always.

Permanent link to this article: https://baldric.net/2013/12/03/data-is-imaginary-this-burrito-is-real/

counterpoint the surrealism of the underlying metaphor

Last week, El Reg posted an amusing take on the apparent invasion of the NSA by Management Consultants. Nothing new there then. From personal experience I can confirm that UK Government has been completely overrun with the buggers for years.

Permanent link to this article: https://baldric.net/2013/12/02/counterpoint-the-surrealism-of-the-underlying-metaphor/

necessary and proportionate

image of website

Yesterday I received an email from the Open Rights Group asking me to sign an on-line petition set up in collaboration with nearly 300 other organisations. The email said: In 2013, we learned digital surveillance by governments across the world knows no bounds. Their national intelligence and investigative agencies capture our phone calls, track our …

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Permanent link to this article: https://baldric.net/2013/11/27/necessary-and-proportionate/

more ninjastiks

In July I noted that a company calling itself Ninjastik had popped up selling what looked to be essentially the Tor Browser Bundle on an 8 Gig stick for $56.95 or a 16 Gig stick for $69.95. As I expected, we have now seen one or two more companies attempting to sell products which leverage …

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Permanent link to this article: https://baldric.net/2013/11/26/more-ninjastiks/

I’m sure that is not what they meant

Yesterday’s Guardian contained a quarter page advertisement from “hibu” (the company formerly known as Yell, and before that, Yellow Pages). The advertisement showed a picture of a bright red and green fish swimming against a tide of uniformly blue fish. The headline was “Get spotted on all kinds of digital devices”. The ad finished with …

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Permanent link to this article: https://baldric.net/2013/10/25/im-sure-that-is-not-what-they-meant/

Oliver Stone on PRISM

I am a big fan of Oliver Stone movies. Outside the pages of the Guardian and its sister paper the Observer, the level of comment in the UK on NSA/GCHQ surveillance capability remains bizarrely muted. In the US they are at least having a conversation. Whether that conversation results in any sensible decisions, and then …

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Permanent link to this article: https://baldric.net/2013/10/25/oliver-stone-on-prism/

wd caviar green load cycle count

Back in January of this year I upgraded my desktop’s hard drive to a 2 TB WD Caviar Green. Not the world’s fastest drive, but quiet, power efficient, and, so I thought, good value for money. I subsequently used two of the same disks in a new build RAID 1 server (which I must get …

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Permanent link to this article: https://baldric.net/2013/10/12/wd-caviar-green-load-cycle-count/

Snowden paranoia

A recent exchange on the tor-talk mailing list about conspiracy theories elicited this gem from “Ted Smith” (obviously a Bob Heinlein fan). “One of the more Gibsonesque theories I’ve heard is that Snowden is a CIA operative working to destabilize the NSA’s surveillance system on behalf of the CIA and other elite that feel too …

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Permanent link to this article: https://baldric.net/2013/10/09/snowden-paranoia/

running out of money

The failure of the US Government to agree a budget with Congress is having some interesting effects. NIST appears to be completely shut down: (Click images for full size). The NSA says “Due to the Government Shutdown, this site is not being updated.” (Though one assumes that they are still being funded….) Whilst the Whitehouse …

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Permanent link to this article: https://baldric.net/2013/10/09/running-out-of-money/

that’s completely ludicrous

Glenn Greenwald on Newsnight. The full episode of Newsnight’s report including Greenwald’s interview and comment from Sir David Omand (ex Director GCHQ) can be seen here on BBC’s iplayer. Gordon Corera, the BBC’s Security respondent reports here on the Newsnight episode. As an aside, I was amused by Ross Anderson’s claim that many academics had …

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Permanent link to this article: https://baldric.net/2013/10/05/thats-completely-ludicrous/

the guardian on tor

My last post noted that the Guardian had posted a series of articles on the Tor network and Snowden’s latest revelations about how the NSA has been attacking that network. All those posts are worth reading, but my favourite is the one by Bruce Schneier explaining how the NSA has attacked Tor users through browser …

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Permanent link to this article: https://baldric.net/2013/10/05/the-guardian-on-tor/

good news for tor

The past couple of days have seen a flurry of news stories about Tor. Some of the news has hit the mainstream media, some of it hasn’t. Yet. A couple of day ago, a rather plaintive post to the tor-talk mailing list read: “looking for a way to contact silk road.Site shut down.money at stake.” …

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Permanent link to this article: https://baldric.net/2013/10/05/good-news-for-tor/