Security & Freedom of Speech

I had a passing interest over the past few weeks about the MIT students who were planning to present their research in to the flaws associated with the Boston “T”‘s transit card that make it possible for someone to “hack” the system. It was disappointing to see the response of the transit authority, filing a lawsuit to try to block release of the information, as opposed to actively working to eliminate the flaws in the system. This is especially disappointing in light of the fact that the transit authority had advanced notice of the vulnerabilities in the system and of the presentation and waited until the last minute to sue to block the release.

Bruce Schneier, commenting in Wired, argues that “Full Disclosure” is the only real motivation for companies and groups to fix their vulnerabilities as opposed to trying to force secrecy on all those who discover them. As an avid techie, I fully believe that it is only full disclosure that makes software and security systems stronger. The only incentive companies have is the fear of losing customers and the liability that might exist should it be clear that the company knew that the vulnerability existed but instead decided to ignore it. Full disclosure makes it clear to everyone that the vulnerability exists, preventing the responsible party from hiding or shirking their duty to plug the hole. His historical write-up makes it clear that only fully disclosing the vulnerability spurs action; otherwise denials and complaints about potential losses abound.

And as Bruce notes, “[t]he Dutch court got it exactly right when it wrote: ‘Damage to NXP is not the result of the publication of the article but of the production and sale of a chip that appears to have shortcomings.'”


MacBook on the Way!

I did it. I bit the bullet and order a MacBook. After a few months of recognizing that I need a new laptop, combined with some financial number crunching and analysis, I’ve settled on the 13.3″ Macbook. Now I get to enjoy that sense of anticipation while I wait for the big box to appear on my doorstep.

Personal Uncategorized

PC or Mac (continued)?

Bryan and I had an e-mail exchange last week on the topic of whether I should get a PC or a Mac as my next laptop. Here’s a brief summary of what I learned.

  • Macs work well “straight out of the box”
  • Macs handle video / DVD editing without adding any software
  • Friends of Bryan attest to Parallels runs Windows better on a Mac than Windows on a PC
  • I can still sync up Smartphones like the Blackberry courtesy of 3rd party software
  • MS Office runs fairly well on Macs
  • I also get the use of TextEdit, iTunes, iMovie and Quicktime with Perian
  • JBuilder, myEclipse, and mySQL are also available
  • My printer (HP PhotoSmart 3210) is compatible
  • My Maxtor Shared Storage drive is compatible as well
  • BookEndz does make a MacBook “docking station”

Looks like I’m going to have a tough decision on my hands soon (very soon, given my keyboard is starting to break).


PC or Mac?

After realizing a two weeks ago just how old my laptop is, I decided the need to find a replacement was a much higher priority than it was. I know that I’m looking for a dual processor with a 13.3″ screen, and built-in optical drive. However, with the converison of Macs to Intel processors, the whole OS X thing, and two solid programs in Parallels and VMWare Fusion, I’m in something of a bind.

Do I go PC or Mac this time around? Does anyone have any experienced they would like to share to try to sway me one way or another?


Outlook Improvement?

And all this time I thought the awful performance of Microsoft Outlook was due to the fact that I bought my laptop in December 2002. 

Maybe Xobni will help extend the life of the piece of junk a few more months.

Courtesy of the NY Times.