The Value of Privacy

Last week, revelation of yet another NSA surveillance effort against the American people has rekindled the privacy debate. Those in favor of these programs have trotted out the same rhetorical question we hear every time privacy advocates oppose ID checks, video cameras, massive databases, data mining, and other wholesale surveillance measures: “If you aren’t doing anything wrong, what do you have to hide?”

Some clever answers: “If I’m not doing anything wrong, then you have no cause to watch me.” “Because the government gets to define what’s wrong, and they keep changing the definition.” “Because you might do something wrong with my information.” My problem with quips like these — as right as they are — is that they accept the premise that privacy is about hiding a wrong. It’s not. Privacy is an inherent human right, and a requirement for maintaining the human condition with dignity and respect.

Two proverbs say it best: Quis custodiet custodes ipsos? (“Who watches the watchers?”) and “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
From Bruce Schneier’s blog

Lenovo Banned by U.S. State Department

In one of the least thought out and dumbest moves made by our government in recent weeks… Assistant Secretary of State Richard Griffin said the department would alter its procurement process to ebsure no Lenovo PC’s are allowed inside secured U.S. networks.

This is dumb for a number of reasons.

1. Any software backdoor and ‘phone home’ keylogger would be wiped out when the machine is re-imaged. If they don’t re-image machines that come from hardware vendors than the brand is the least of our worries.

2. Any hardware spying mechanism that would remain after an imaging would still need a way to ‘phone home’ to China for them to obtain the data. Any ‘secured U.S. network’ should have egress firewalling. So not only would ‘phone home’ attempts be blocked, but also logged and provide REAL evidence that we should be concerned.

I believe this just boils down to yet another case of someone being uninformed and uneducated making big decisions that they are not qualified to do. Either that or its a more sinister attempt to curve the amount of Chinese goods purchased by the U.S. Either case doesn’t win our government any more brownie points.

Things Apple needs to make…

1. Another PDA
They where far ahead of their time when they initially introduced the Apple Newton and for that reason I don’t think people where ready for the PDA yet. If they came out with a Newton2 I think it would sell like hot cakes

2. Multi Function Phone
I have heard rumors of an iPhone that will be a combination cell phone/iPod but they need to include blackberry or palm like functionality.

3. A tablet macbook pro.
I have a number friends who are die hard mac advocates that have recently purchased tablet PCs because they are just down right cool and useful. In fact Gryphn carries both her powerbook and her tablet pc with her. Once again, rumor has it that these will be released in about a year.

4. OS X for normal PCs
I know they wont do this anytime soon, so if they could just make a Darwin type OS that runs mac/intel bins… I think that would hold me over.

X-mas in April!

Last week great geeks in Cupertino, CA shipped me two new shiny Macs. My new Quad G5 that replaced our fallen friend. (Dead but not forgotten, brotha.) And my new MacBook Pro. The G5 arrived first and held my attention intently for all of two days. It was by far the fastest mac I have ever had the pleasure of using. It was unfortunate that both the RAM and 2nd video card from dual G5 wouldn’t work in it. Someplace between the dual and the quad they upgraded all of the ports in it to pci express and made the jump to DDR2 RAM. WaHoo! I have another 2 gigs of RAM on order (bringing me to 4) and am down to two of my three monitors until I figure something out.

It has 1 pcix 16x port, 1 8x and 2 4x. I have never seen video cards in anything but 16x, so.. like… what gives?

My MacBook Pro arrived Wednesday. This machine has surprised the hell out of me. I believe it to be faster than my quad G5. This is by no means a benchmark comparison, but it simply ‘feels’ faster. Snappier for opening apps, even non universal binary apps like PhotoShop CS and DreamWeaver.

Another -BIG- reason why I upgraded from powerbook to the macbook pro was the ability to easily run other operating systems. The first thing I did when I received it was update tiger, upgrade my firmware and install boot camp/xp pro. This is a big deal to me. It allows me to run Novell ConsoleOne and Client as well as all of the good forensic and security software that only comes on windows.

I have also installed Fedora on a Parallels virtual machine. I am pretty impressed with parallels so far. It’s fast, far easier and more elegant than virtual pc and vmware and allows for nice full screen, full speed OS ‘switching’.

I have run into a few odd… I dunno… bugs? I’m still working on trouble shooting them down to their source, but as soon as I know what’s up I will post my findings.