A few pics from the Scott Sigler book signing, 24 June 2010.

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If you've not heard of podcaster and novelist Scott Sigler he's one of the luminaries of the new media movement. Before becoming a novelist who's taken the New York Times booklist by storm he recorded his novels as audiobooks and gave them away for free on iTunes, podiobooks.com and his own website, the idea being that if you liked them you'd send some money his way and possibly buy the novels when they made it onto dead trees. Lo and behold it worked and now he's on tour for the hardcover release of Ancestor, his latest novel.

I haven't …

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Maybe I should write about things other than myself for a while.

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If you're involved in the retrocomputing or PC history scenes, chances are you've heard of double-sided floppy disks that are formatted for one system on side A and another system on side B. For example, I've got a copy of the game Ninja which had the C-64 version of the game on one side and the Atari port on the other. At the time this was a pretty straightforward thing to do because drives only read one side of a disk at a time. A couple of weeks back, PC historian Trixter came across a highly unusual 5 1/4 …

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Just like your friends, don't abandon your boxen, either.

  borders data_loss duplication hardware physical_access protection seizure theft travel

A basic maxim of information security is that when someone has physical access to a machine, all bets are off. If someone can touch a box, they can do pretty much whatever they want to it: if the console is unlocked they can poke around at whatever the access privileges of the logged in account will allow (how many of you configure your screensavers to require a password to turn off? how many of you walk away without logging out?), and possibly copy data to a removable storage device, such as a USB key. An intruder can also power the …

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Federal judge decrees that divulging your PGP passphrase violates the fifth amendment.

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I can't say that I'm wild about the circumstances behind this (in fact, it's taken two days to calm down sufficiently to write about it without ranting), but the ramifications of this ruling are far-reaching and not a bit relevant these days.

In 2006, a Canadian citizen named Sebastien Boucher crossed the border into the United States and was stopped. His laptop was searched by US Customs agents. Allegedly, thousands of images related to child pornography were found on the drive (in case you haven't heard, US ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) reserves the right to examine and make disk …

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I stop paying attention for just one night, and look what happens?

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While browsing one of my e-mail accounts today I came across a rather worrisome notice: Home electronics superchain Best Buy bought out Speakeasy.net. Speakeasy is known for being a geek-friendly DSL provider - their tier-one tech support is extremely knowledgable, and if you know your stuff they'll listen to you and help you figure things out. Best Buy purchased them because Speakeasy has one of the better developed VoIP networks of any ISP in the US today, and they're always angling for another chunk of the market. The announced purchase price was $97mus. They claim that they're not going to …

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Radiomedicine trips covert radiation detectors at public events.

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Something that a lot of people might not know: Radiation detection equipment is being deployed more and more in government facilities and major public events (such as the Superbowl) to detect people that might be carrying radioactive materials or even nuclear weapons (the latter is highly improbable for many reasons, most of which have to do with how heavy fissile materials are and the requisite size of nuclear warheads). The reason this is now known is because radiotherapy patients are tripping those alarms in public and are being questioned as a result. Geiger counters are in use at this time …

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Maine tells the REAL ID Act to go take a hike.

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Remember the REAL ID Act of 2005, which mandates that every US citizen must be issued a national ID card that fits certain federal standards, is electronically readable, and most importantly will be necessary if you ever want to get a job, open a bank account, or fly. They are also supposed to be damn near impossible to copy or counterfit, though the usual rules of sitting at the console when attacking apply. Well, the state of Maine flat out rejected it and asked Congress to repeal the REAL ID Act, and Georgia, Massachusetts, Montana, and Washington state are also …

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Confiscation of laptops entering the United States.

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Just when you thought travelling by air couldn't get any more harrowing, along comes confiscation of laptop computers when re-entering the United States. Some are never seen again; from anecdotal evidence, the hard drives are imaged for analysis. US Customs has the authority to detain people carrying portable computers and confiscate the hardware without giving a good reason, or any reason at all, for that matter. The matter of what, exactly, happens to proprietary information contained therein (encrypted or not) is still up in the air. The standard advice here is to encrypt any sensitive data, but if the folks …

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It's open season on laptops at the border.

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There's been another disturbing development pertaining to the Forth Amendment recently, in that laptop computers may be seized for inspection without a warrant. This isn't the first time this has been in the news, but now a couple of precedents have been set in court, which is doubly worrisome; this was from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (United States v. Ziegler), and upholds statements in employment contracts that state that you have no privacy whatsoever if you're at work and using their equipment, and most of the time you don't have any privacy if you're using your own equipment …

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