1. Ubuntu Linux and the Heartbleed OpenSSL vulnerability.

    07 April 2014

    If you're in the mad scramble to patch the Heartbleed vulnerability in OpenSSL on your Ubuntu servers but you need to see some documentation, look in your /usr/share/doc/openssl/changelog.Debian.gz file. If you see the following at the very top of the file, you're patched:


    openssl (1.0.1-4ubuntu5.12) precise-security; urgency=medium

    * SECURITY UPDATE: side-channel attack on Montgomery ladder implementation
    - debian/patches/CVE-2014-0076.patch: add and use constant time swap in
    crypto/bn/bn.h, crypto/bn/bn_lib.c, crypto/ec/ec2_mult.c,
    util/libeay.num.
    - CVE-2014-0076
    * SECURITY UPDATE: memory disclosure in TLS heartbeat extension …

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  2. There's wearable computing, and then there's wearable computing.

    03 April 2014

    Just last year around this time the company MC10 figured out how to fabricate small networks of sensors built out of flexible circuitry that stick to the skin of the wearer and collect biotelemetry. By sticking a single square of wavy, flexible circuitry someplace on your person you could keep a medical team appraised of certain aspects of your health. The tech curve, as always, moves like a roller coaster gone out of control... in the journal Nature Nanotechnology a research team at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology improved upon the design and created flexible circuitry tattoos that can …

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  3. Prosthetic synaesthesia and cortical implants.

    01 April 2014

    The human brain is a remarkably complex and flexible organ, with as many possible failure modes and glitches as there are emergent and surprising properties. Take something away, and sometimes you can coax another part of the brain to take up the slack in some other way. Case in point, artist Neil Harbisson. Harbisson was born with a condition called achromatopsia, which is the name for a group of disorders which collectively result in the same phenomenon - he cannot see colors, only shades of greyscale. Sometimes it's a neurological dysfunction, sometimes it's a defect in the retina, and sometimes it's …

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  4. Turtles All the Way Down: So, does anyone actually operate this way?

    28 March 2014

    So, after all everything's said and done, you're probably asking yourself "Why would somebody go through all this trouble to build a computer from the ground up? It's never going to be as fast as one that you can buy, so what's the point?"

    Ultimately, it comes down to what you're trying to accomplish. If you want the fastest possible CPU, tens of gigabytes of RAM, and four monitors so you can go raiding more efficiently chances are you have a threat model that doesn't approach the level of concern, paranoia, or security requirements that we assumed through the other …

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  5. Turtles All the Way Down: Applications

    24 March 2014

    Now our hypothetical trusted and open computing platform needs applications so you can get real work done. Text editors, scripting languages, officeware, and probably a desktop of some kind. To stick with our security practice of keeping systems as spare as possible, I recommend only installing applications and their dependencies as you need them. In the last post I suggested picking a package management system of some kind if one isn't already a core component of the OS that we recompiled and installed. If you get in the habit of building and using packages now you'll save yourself a lot …

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  6. Enhanced prosthetics, cryptographic music collectives, and custom-built cardiac assist devices.

    17 March 2014

    When many people consider prosthetic limbs, they often seem to think of mechanisms that replace some of the functions of the original but don't seem to add anything new. Prosthetics limbs are not very common and they're almost always very expensive. To the best of my knowledge I don't know of anybody modifying a prosthetic in any substantial way (or any way, for that matter). That's what made this news article jump out at me: A student at the Atlanta Institute of Music and Media named Jason Barnes lost his right arm in an accident in the workplace. He wears …

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  7. Electrical relief of migraines, advances in bioprinting, and prosthetic exoskeletons.

    16 March 2014

    If you've never had one before migraine headaches are no picnic. Between the feeling like somebody's testing a sawmill with part of your skull, profound nausea brought about by something as innocuous as sunlight or the sound of a diesel engine, and vertigo that makes walking to the bathroom to retch a challenge, they're something that many of us would probably not wish on our worst enemies (I know I don't). There are few things that can arrest or lessen the severity of migraines once they start. Mostly, all you can do is get someplace dark and quiet and ride …

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  8. Self censorship.

    16 March 2014

    How many things have you started to write and stopped because you were afraid of who or what might read them? How many blog posts have you shelved, how many files have you deleted, how many pages have you burned because you feared what might happen if the wrong person or wrong thing spotted them and decided to make an example of you?

    Have you ever wondered what the criteria might be under which a message in a chat room might trigger increased scrutiny, like mysterious malfunctions of your computer?

    How many fears have you not expressed or opinions have …

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  9. I'll be presenting at the Global Existential Risks and Radical Futures Conference

    13 March 2014

    I have other stuff to write about that will come in time.

    I'll be presenting at the Global Existential Risks and Radical Futures Conference in San Francisco, CA on 14 June 2014. I'll be giving a talk entitled Echos Into the Past: Outbreaks of Future Technologies in the Present, about technologies that exist right now which the transhumanist community may wish to consider as first steps toward long-term goals.

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