2016-08-11

Enkripsie is net wiskunde, behalwe dalk in La France

Volgens Frankryk se minister van binnelandse sake, Bernard Cazeneuve, is enkripsie 'n „sentrale” probleem in die geveg teen terrorisme. Gewilde kletstoepassings soos Telegram wat privaatgesprekke moontlik maak, word oënskynlik deur terroriste gebruik (net soos treine, skoene en ander normale dienste en voorwerpe) en maak onderskepping deur die owerhede onmoontlik. Ongelukkig vir die heer Cazeneuve (hiernaas afgebeeld) is enkripsie niks anders as 'n wiskundige algoritme nie en enige twee partye kan in beginsel 'n geënkripteerde verbinding bewerkstellig, ook sonder 'n spesifieke tussenganger soos Telegram. Trouens, Telegram is niks anders nie as 'n algoritme wat op beide se toestelle (toevallig, selfone) loop en die Internet gebruik om data oor te dra. Hy kan dus (i) die Internet; (ii) rekenaarprogramme of (iii) die basiese universiteitsvlak-wiskunde verban. Dan sal daar ook sommer geen GMail of Internet-bankdiens (of moderne Frankryk) wees nie. Blykbaar gaan dit minstens 'n spitsberaad met sy Duitse ampsgenoot verg om dié les te leer...

Bron: Bernard Cazeneuve veut une action internationale contre le chiffrement http://www.macg.co/ailleurs/2016/08/bernard-cazeneuve-veut-une-action-internationale-contre-le-chiffrement-95199

2016-07-02

Financial services – a huge network effect?

According to Wikipedia, when "a network effect is present, the value of a product or service is dependent on the number of others using it". More precisely (for a positive effect): each new user increases, if only slightly, the value of the service for all existing users. Since I have been having a minor spot of trouble with a Bitcoin wallet provider, I have unfortunately realized that this network effects exists rather dramatically for financial services in the following obvious sense. If the remote and electronic financial service provider denies me access to my funds (which, admittedly, it does less frequently than my brick-and-mortar bank) then the immediate feeling is one of distinct discomfort that there will not be a substantial mob in my immediate vicinity to storm the (virtual) bank. Perhaps it matters little that the mob is distributed all over the planet but in this case one remains faced with the issue of (a) finding the other customers; and (b) finding something to storm.

2016-06-01

Microsoft Azure "Hotel California" newsletter

It has been days now and I remain unable to unsubscribe from the Microsoft Azure newsletter and basically their response is to tell me that I should reboot...



2016-05-12

Google's new penchant for webscraping

My understanding of webscraping is that it is a dodgy practice whereby one populates one's website with content simply retrieved from other sites (normally automatically, by software sometimes called "robots") instead of creating one's own. One interesting case in this regard was eBay v. Bidder's Edge, 100 F.Supp.2d 1058 (N.D. Cal. 2000) in which eBay obtained an injunction against a company that had basically copied the eBay auction content. The legal doctrine of trespass to chattels (possibly not well known in South Africa) applies. The recent Johannesburg High Court battle between News24 and Moneyweb touched on related issues.

This is actually very similar to what we do when we "share" items on Facebook but in that case, at least, it is clear why it happens and there is acknowledgement. What Google has started to do, I think, falls somewhere between these forms of sharing and scraping. 

Google searches have been returning more content and more targeted content from the top-rated search result in a special "Here's your answer!" box.

In short, Google Search tries to provide sufficient information to obviate the need for the user to actually visit the website indexed by the search engine. In the long run, this is obviously not really a model for sustaining a rich online environment but I would agree that the legal framework around intellectual property and copyright needs to adapt to the digital and online world. Google is certainly not afraid of murky water, given the rampant unlicensed redistribution happening on its YouTube platform.

It would be interesting to see how long it is before someone sues. French publishers, perhaps?


2016-04-26

Viber robo-calling has started

I got my first robo-call on Viber today – ouch! A disembodied yet recognisably Anglo-Boer male voice wanting to sell... insurance. Please stop! ;-) The best solution is of course to move to a system where users can charge for incoming calls with differential rates.