When does historical start?

When does history start?

According to the US goverment, under a millisecond ago… Technically I suppose this is correct, but the implications for personal privacy, the implications are huge.
For example, the US law enforcement agencies can demand historical records like telephone billing information with nothing more than a subpoena (no probable cause required), and the court as to comply.
Now, that is all fine and dandy, because things like telephone records are historical and technically can be treated as though they are merely records of the telephone company. (You can argue about the ethics of this one)

The real problem appears to start when intercepting slightly historical data. For example if a telephone company uses it’s masts to determine where you are. If the data is stored on the phone company’s computers to monitor any of a number of things (historical trends for marketing, billing advertisers, monitoring the infrastructure), then this is historical data. But this data is being added to in “real time” – when does history start? Where you were an hour ago? Where you were a minute ago? Where you were a second ago? a millisecond?
Technically these are all historical records, and the US law enforcement agencies appear to think that there is no such thing as “now” except as an excuse to make everything past into history.

Somehing similar applies to “data in transit”, this is protected by wiretap restrictions, but if the agencies intercept electronic data using a store, capture and forward, then surely the data is no longer current – it has been stored for a microsecond or more… Say goodbye to privacy of VOIP calls, or any electronic communication.

More can be read on The register. And the article on wiretapping on Arstchnica.

And just because we live in the UK doesn’t mean we can rest easy – the UK Police Chiefs want to monitor all of our movements using roadside cameras with automatic number plate recognition.

Analog copy protection legislation

Buy your dvd recorders, capture cards and other recording devices before this new US legislation gets passed. The Digital Transition Content Security Act of 2005 (PDF) introduces a video and audio rights signalling system embedded into analog media, which means that all new recorders will be able to identify the source of material and make the decision on whether you can record it or not. This must make those hollywood type wet themselves with excitement, as the prospect of having complete control over what we watch, where and when comes ever closer. Of course, the hardened pirates out there will make even more money out of removing the copy protection, and the genuine buying public will be even more inconvenienced by not being able to make a copy of their CD to listen to in the car, because no-one wants their favourite CD to get scratched to death because it gets dropped on the floor of the car.

It will be something to keep a close eye on – remember that they tried to tie us down with Region Encoding on DVD and CSS. It’s a good job I don’t plan on travelling to the USA, they’d probably lock me up for this post. For a more rational commentary see the Ars Technica posting. Just don’t get me started on what I’m paying for when I buy an album, and how many original Compact Cassettes and Vinyl LPs and Singles I have in my loft. :-S

Ebayers beware

An intrepid eBayer with the nick caitlincutie has cashed in on the current trend for Xbox360s on ebay and sold a picture of one for £470.00!
Since selling the picture the seller has decided to make their feedback profile private – probably something to do with the feedback that the unfortunate (or not very observant) BillySpeares left for them.

Of course the listing does look a bit dodgy – you have to read right to the end of the extensive blurb to find out the it is a picture you are bidding on. I bet the other bidders are feeling a bit relieved. Anyway, if the items disappear from ebay there’s a story on The Register about it with screen captures of it, showing before caitlincutie made her feedback private.

John Hunt atttains Guru Status – without a beard.

John Hunt used to work around here – he was a lecturer in the department, and taught Java to many of us. Somewhere at home I still have a my copy of “Java for Practitioners” printed out on A4 paper that I proofread before publication – I wonder what that would fetch on eBay? He has just had an article published on that mine of information The Register about the Hibernate tool for Object Relational Mapping, and I look forward to the second part of the article. But seriously John, guru status still requires a beard – maybe someone at El Reg should be informed.

When I looked at The Register’s main page, John’s article wasn’t listed – it had appeared on the RSS feed, which is where I picked it up from – odd that it didn’t appear on the front page. It’s still not on the front page, an hour after the publication time.

MPW C Compiler errors

The following is something that I remember for a long time ago, and am reproducing it here for the entertainment of students and others that read my blog.

These are some of the error messages produced by Apple’s MPW C compiler. These are all real. (If you must know I was bored one afternoon and decompiled the String resources for the compiler.) The compiler is 324k in size so these are just an excerpt I hope. I’m not sure where I stand on the copyright issue. Tony Cunningham

“String literal too long (I let you have 512 characters, that’s 3 more than ANSI said I should)”

“…And the lord said, ‘lo, there shall only be case or default labels inside a switch statement'”

“a typedef name was a complete surprise to me at this point in your program”

“‘Volatile’ and ‘Register’ are not miscible”

“You can’t modify a constant, float upstream, win an argument with the IRS, or satisfy this compiler”

“This struct already has a perfectly good definition”

“type in (cast) must be scalar; ANSI 3.3.4; page 39, lines 10-11 (I know you don’t care, I’m just trying to annoy you)”

“Can’t cast a void type to type void (because the ANSI spec. says so, that’s why)”

“Huh ?”

“can’t go mucking with a ‘void *'”

“we already did this function”

“This label is the target of a goto from outside of the block containing this label AND this block has an automatic variable with an initializer AND your window wasn’t wide enough to read this whole error message”

“Call me paranoid but finding ‘/*’ inside this comment makes me suspicious”

“Too many errors on one line (make fewer)”

“Symbol table full – fatal heap error; please go buy a RAM upgrade from your local Apple dealer”