Touring the digital through type

Month: April 2008 (Page 2 of 3)

Repairing iWeb

215588618 51Ca0C2B29For the past two days I’ve been troubleshooting a problem with iWeb, and thought that I’d post my problem (and troubleshooting steps and solution) here so that other people who experience a similar problem can diagnose and remedy the problem.


I had used iWeb to toss together a quick placeholder site for my girlfriend’s new domain without any incident a week or two ago. A few days later I went back into iWeb and was unable to add new pages, or create a new site. While the options to do both actions were available, clicking on them neither added a new page, nor created a site.

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Honda GPS Warns Drivers of High Crime Zones

197507690 2Da055B25EHonda has released a new GPS system for their vehicles where it will warn drivers when they’re about to leave their car in areas where there is a high chance of theft, vandalizm, or other criminal activity. I have two, relatively short, things to note about this:

A Comical Note

I can just imagine programming this thing for Rio – all the device would say was ‘If you’re stupid enough to think that this will help you here, you’re almost certainly a tourist’.

A Less Comical Note

This continues the pervasive surveillance of what you’re doing AND associates it with databases that you can’t be certain are terribly secure. I imagine that if a particularly enterprising individual surreptitiously made a few changes, and the the GPS was followed to the letter, that badness would ensure. Beyond fear-mongering, however, this technology associates perpetual vehicular monitoring with safety, and mistakenly presents the notion that police equally monitor and respond to reports in all areas of GPS coverage. This is a legitimate badness – it further complicates the problems surrounding self-awareness and unquestioned reliance on external data sources, sources that can become significant factors in one’s daily life.

Of course, it won’t be sold that way: Live in safety! Let us watch you! Surveillance stops all crime! Just look at CCTV in Britain.

Gizmodo link

The Making of a Media Center

2115708870 1851502A64This guide is intended to let me (and you) quickly set up an Apple computer as a media centre. I’m currently using a PC running Windows Vista Home Premium as the media centre – it’s native media centre functionality works quite well but, given my hope to move to a more Mac-centric environment, I want to see if it’s possible to actually use something like a mac mini as a media box. For the purposes of this guide, the media centre has to do the following:

  1. Be reliable! No weird and unexpected crashes. Moreover, I don’t want to be servicing the damn thing on a semi-regular basis.
  2. Be fairly easy to manage. I’m not going to have a lot of time to futz around with this thing come September.
  3. Be simple! If it take a lot of work to maintain, my hopes of spreading that work around are doomed to failure!
  4. Be as good as Vista Home Premium! While I really do want a dominantly Mac environment, I’m not willing to do so at the loss of overall functionality.
  5. Access media from my Fileserver (this, really, is what makes this whole thing a pain in the ass).

Now that we’ve identified the conditions for victory, let’s go and investigate how to do this!

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Identification, Identity Systems, and the REAL ID Act


In a recent presentation to the Summer 2007 Privacy Symposium, Jim Harper lays out a series of concerns about a national identification system. I’m just going to run through them quickly – watch the video that I link to at the end of the post to view his presentation yourself.

Authentication versus Identification

  • Authentication is where you are challenged to provide a set of items/data in order to gain access to something. An example would be the requirement to have both a banking card and a PIN to access your bank account – this authenticates your access to the resource, but it isn’t a wholesale validation that it is actually Christopher Parsons who is accessing my bank account. Instead, what this does it is gives enough information to the bank that it is comfortable providing access to my bank account, without actually knowing for sure that it is me accessing the account.
  • Identification draws on unique characteristics that make up who you are, and validates that person attempting to gain access to X or do Y against the recorded characteristics that identify that person. This involves validating a person against facets of their constitutive being, with a popular identifier coming from biometric information. This passes beyond authentication systems because the person is certifiably identified. Whereas I can give you my bank card and PIN, I would have a far harder (and more painful) time giving you my right eye and left thumb.

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