Archive for February, 2008


Thursday, February 21st, 2008

So encryption is good - mostly. In every case where you want to prevent people from getting at your data, it’s awesome. Problem is that for average Joe user, it’s pretty dang easy for them to be prevented from accessing their own data. Microsoft has done the world an injustice by implementing their lame password “protection” in things like Word. Now, most normal people expect that any computer nerd can retrieve their stuff for them if they lose the means of accessing it themselves. I’ve seen some pretty good expressions after explaining to people that it was statistically impossible (future quantum computers aside) for me to retrieve their data after they forgot their password to an encrypted volume. In steps TrueCrypt 5.0 with full disk encryption. Since you can create a backup of the original header file that was used to encrypt the disk the first time ’round, it’s a pretty simple task to restore it later if the user loses access. This is a wonderful turn for the practical implementation of full disk encryption with only three drawbacks.
1) No hibernation. (sucks, but sleep should be fine)
2) No automated installs that require reboot.
3) Performance.

On this note, I decided to perform a few tests to see just how much of a performance hit FDE causes. The full results are available, but the quick summary is that FDE causes an overall drop in performance of about 10 percent. Not bad considering what you’re getting out of the deal.


Monday, February 4th, 2008

So I’ve always known the potential of the web. You can post something and millions, if not billions of people have instant access to it. The power here is immense - but it’s all so big and until recently, I’ve not had any metric by which to measure this.

Back to that in a moment. First, a though about numbers:
Take 6 billion for example. Since that’s the approximate number of souls on planet Earth right now, I was curious to bring that number into perspective. If I wanted to meet everyone, assuming I was fast and it took me 5 seconds to say, “Hi. My name is Brian.” and then hear their return greeting, it would take me over 950 years just to say hello. Clearly, if I want to influence people on a grand scale with anything significant, it has to be pursued with a one-to-many approach.

In steps the Internet. Everyone knows that “the Internet has the potential to spread information quickly,” but what does that mean in context? Back to the point:
On January 31, 2008, iFixit received one of the first MacBook Air units and we quickly descended upon it and had it broken down to it’s constituent pieces in no time. We took pictures and looked up information about its innards to gain insight into its workings. All the info was neatly packaged and published as a signature iFixit tear-apart guide. A press release was issued and as was expected, many web sites around the globe ran the story. Traffic to the iFixit article alone was just shy of 200,000 unique visitors in the following 48-hour period - and that was just the actual site. Millions eventually will see (and probably already have seen) the pictures and read the news that I helped break. Yes, I was just a contribution, riding on the coat-tails of giants, but still, millions of people saw the pictures that I helped take. Millions of people thought it interesting enough to read what I had to say about something. I really don’t mean to sound all “look-at-me-I’m-so-great”, but that’s crazy. Simply crazy.

So now I have a new appreciation for the web. I’ve seen its potential first-hand and it’s a bit daunting. I guess it’s no different than any powerful tool in that it can be used for great good or great evil. It’s all about who’s at the reigns.