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Links for 2013-09-08

  • Perhaps I’m out of step and Britons just don’t think privacy is important | Henry Porter | Comment is free | The Observer

    The debate has been stifled in Britain more successfully than anywhere else in the free world and, astonishingly, this has been with the compliance of a media and public that regard their attachment to liberty to be a matter of genetic inheritance. So maybe it is best for me to accept that the BBC, together with most of the newspapers, has moved with society, leaving me behind with a few old privacy-loving codgers, wondering about the cause of this shift in attitudes. Is it simply the fear of terror and paedophiles? Are we so overwhelmed by the power of the surveillance agencies that we feel we can’t do anything? Or is it that we have forgotten how precious and rare truly free societies are in history?

    (tags: privacy uk politics snooping spies gchq society nsa henry-porter)

  • Big data is watching you

    Some great street art from Brighton, via Darach Ennis

    (tags: via:darachennis street-art graffiti big-data snooping spies gchq nsa art)

  • Blocking The Pirate Bay appears to have ‘no lasting net impact’ on illegal downloading

    In the fight against the unauthorised sharing of copyright protected material, aka piracy, Dutch Internet Service Providers have been summoned by courts to block their subscribers’ access to The Pirate Bay (TPB) and related sites. This paper studies the effectiveness of this approach towards online copyright enforcement, using both a consumer survey and a newly developed non-infringing technology for BitTorrent monitoring. While a small group of respondents download less from illegal sources or claim to have stopped, and a small but significant effect is found on the distribution of Dutch peers, no lasting net impact is found on the percentage of the Dutch population downloading from illegal sources.

    (tags: fail blocking holland pirate-bay tpb papers via:tjmcintyre internet isps)

  • How Advanced Is the NSA’s Cryptanalysis — And Can We Resist It?

    Bruce Schneier’s suggestions:

    Assuming the hypothetical NSA breakthroughs don’t totally break public-cryptography — and that’s a very reasonable assumption — it’s pretty easy to stay a few steps ahead of the NSA by using ever-longer keys. We’re already trying to phase out 1024-bit RSA keys in favor of 2048-bit keys. Perhaps we need to jump even further ahead and consider 3072-bit keys. And maybe we should be even more paranoid about elliptic curves and use key lengths above 500 bits. One last blue-sky possibility: a quantum computer. Quantum computers are still toys in the academic world, but have the theoretical ability to quickly break common public-key algorithms — regardless of key length — and to effectively halve the key length of any symmetric algorithm. I think it extraordinarily unlikely that the NSA has built a quantum computer capable of performing the magnitude of calculation necessary to do this, but it’s possible. The defense is easy, if annoying: stick with symmetric cryptography based on shared secrets, and use 256-bit keys.

    (tags: bruce-schneier cryptography wired nsa surveillance snooping gchq cryptanalysis crypto future key-lengths)

  • DevOps Eye for the Coding Guy: Metrics

    a pretty good description of the process of adding service metrics to a Django webapp using graphite and statsd. Bookmarking mainly for the great real-time graphing hack at the end…

    (tags: statsd django monitoring metrics python graphite)

  • Probabalistic Scraping of Plain Text Tables

    a nifty hack.

    Recently I have been banging my head trying to import a ton of OCR acquired data expressed in tabular form. I think I have come up with a neat approach using probabilistic reasoning combined with mixed integer programming. The method is pretty robust to all sorts of real world issues. In particular, the method leverages topological understanding of tables, encodes it declaratively into a mixed integer/linear program, and integrates weak probabilistic signals to classify the whole table in one go (at sub second speeds). This method can be used for any kind of classification where you have strong logical constraints but noisy data.
    (via proggit)

    (tags: scraping tables ocr probabilistic linear-programming optimization machine-learning via:proggit)

  • vimeo/timeserieswidget

    ‘Plugin to make highly interactive graphite graph objects ((i.e. graphs where you can interactively toggle on/off individual series, inspect datapoints, zoom in realtime, etc) Supports Flot (canvas), Rickshaw (svg) and standard graphite png images (in case you’re nostalgic and don’t like interactivity).’

    (tags: graphs graphing graphite dataviz flot rickshaw svg canvas javascript)

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