The Null Device


The SMH has an interesting piece about the increasingly cloak-and-dagger battle against spammers.

"The SPEWS site is registered to a holiday resort in Russia. There's no email address, no telephone number. They have a number of Web sites where they mirror their list of bad boys, so they can't be shut down. And all they are doing is publishing an opinion."
Most of today's email spam, however, comes from a handful of culprits, described by Barry and others as "known criminals".

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Now there's Tinfoil Hat Linux, a Linux distribution for paranoids; some of the more esoteric features include keyboardless passphrase entry, Morse Code output via the keyboard lights (à la Cryptonomicon), and a low-contrast display mode to evade cameras. In addition, it doesn't support networking, all binaries are statically linked and temporary files are kept in a RAM disk. And remember, if they are out to get you, then paranoia's just good sense.


Horrorshow, O my brothers: The latest bestseller in Russia is the diary of two young hoodlums. Titled "Bigger than Ben", the autobiographical tome tells the story of Spiker and Sobakkaa, two podonoki (translated as "scumbags") travelling in London in 1999, and reads like a how-to guide to crime and fraud; it has also won a major literary prize as the best Russian literary début.

The book brilliantly captures the cliché of the contemporary young Russian male: hard-edged, dishonest and callous, distilling his creative flair into nefarious, if not criminal, activity.
His inspiration was his father, an honest engineer who struggled, poor and threadbare, refusing to go into small business until he could do so without sacrificing his principles. Sakin was determined not to live that way.

(via bOING bOING)

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Charlie Stross' Linux columns, from a UK magazine named Computer Shopper, are well worth reading; covering things from cryptography to Zope to digital cameras. And Peter tells me that his scifi stories are worth a read too.

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