Another Long Time Fugitive Arrested

Yesterday, Luis Armando Peña Soltren was arrested after forty years on run for hijacking a plane to Cuba.

Soltren “will finally face the American justice system that he has been evading for more than four decades,” said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

I understand that Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese and David Lynch are already circulating a petition around Hollywood demanding Mr Soltren’s release.

The Presentation of Self and Everyday Photographs

With the kind help of our awesome readership, Amazon and Glazer’s, I’ve acquired a camera, some books, a tripod, a prime 50mm, a flash diffuser, a polarizing filter, a graduated neutral filter, and some other random photography toys tools. You might question this, but I can quit anytime. Really! I even offered to loan my 50mm to a friend for a few days so he could get hooked make an informed decision about buying one.

Now, I know there are lots of people in our communities who post up their photos, and that’s their choice. I like to maintain some privacy-control of how I’m presenting myself. I have posted photos from my trip to South Africa and from the Privacy Enhancing Technologies conference, but those are almost journalistic. There’s something tremendously revealing about what subjects people photograph and share. Go ahead. Look. Ask yourself, who takes pictures like that? Why did they share that? What does it say about them?

Me, I prefer that people focus on my photos for themselves, and not for who I am. And I prefer to present a professional image that’s a carefully cropped subset of the whole.

And what I’m re-discovering is that it’s tremendously hard. A few of the shots at the end of the PETS set are, if I do say so myself, very nice. I have some bald eagles that I shot on Lake Washington while boating with some co-workers. Which stream do those go in?

There’s also a technical hard: I dug into EXIF a fair bit with exiftool, and there’s at least two serial numbers in each raw photo. (Camera body and lens. I don’t vouch for completeness, but for a Canon camera, start with exiftool -SerialNumber -InternalSerialNumber -CameraSerialNumber.) If you set IPTC data automatically, you have to remember to strip it. There are micro-variations from manufacture which (supposedly) can be used to fingerprint a lens, but my expectation is that’s complex and requires some reference images. I’m prepared to re-evaluate that exposure when Moore’s Law comes along for a conversation.

Then there’s wanting to be noticed. I remember being a new blogger, and obsessively watching the stats for new links. Compulsively linking to the big bloggers in the hopes of some love. Writing articles to bait some of the carnivals. Linking back whenever someone gave me a link. If I posted the photos (or even a link here), I’d presumably get a fair number of views. Does that do anything for me? Some folks have given me really great feedback and advice, but let’s face it, giving a new photographer advice is hard. There are so many things you could say, and which ones will help them improve? Does this person take feedback well?

Is there a technological approach which might help, with a crowd of photographers who commit to jointly telling the world their nicknames if there’s a decent anonymity set? But really, isn’t that just the old saw about the dancing bear all over again? (And doesn’t it go up against what Bob Blakley was saying? More on that shortly.) So for now, I’m interested: is there a better way to frame this?

LCROSS Lunar Impact Friday, 4:30 AM Pacific

So the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite has one last sensing task which it will carry out tomorrow morning at 4:30 AM Pacific. That is to dig a big hole in Cabeus (proper) and see if there’s water there. Unfortunately for LCROSS, it doesn’t really have landing jets, which means it will dig a big hole and other instruments will check for water.

Unfortunately, the impact plume is expected to be not big enough for binoculars or cameras, but it will be big enough for large amateur telescopes.

NASA has a page on “where and how to observe the LCROSS impacts.”

Hal Finney’s news

Hal Finney has posted some news to LessWrong:

A man goes in to see his doctor, and after some tests, the doctor says, “I’m sorry, but you have a fatal disease.”
Man: “That’s terrible! How long have I got?”
Doctor: “Ten.”
Man: “Ten? What kind of answer is that? Ten months? Ten years? Ten what?”
The doctor looks at his watch. “Nine.”

Recently I received some bad medical news (although not as bad as in the joke). Unfortunately I have been diagnosed with a fatal disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or ALS, sometimes called Lou Gehrig’s disease. ALS causes nerve damage, progressive muscle weakness and paralysis, and ultimately death. Patients lose the ability to talk, walk, move, eventually even to breathe, which is usually the end of life. This process generally takes about 2 to 5 years.

There are however two bright spots in this picture. The first is that ALS normally does not affect higher brain functions. I will retain my abilities to think and reason as usual. Even as my body is dying outside, I will remain alive inside.

The second relates to survival. Although ALS is generally described as a fatal disease, this is not quite true. It is only mostly fatal. When breathing begins to fail, ALS patients must make a choice. They have the option to either go onto invasive mechanical respiration, which involves a tracheotomy and breathing machine, or they can die in comfort. I was very surprised to learn that over 90% of ALS patients choose to die.

I’m shocked and saddened to hear that Hal’s body is betraying him like this. Despite not having spoken to him in quite some time, I have many fond memories of conversations, and I’m pleased to see he’s standing by his ideals as he fights this.

Tetraktys is the Best Cryptographic Novel Ever

I’ve been remiss in not posting a review of Tetraktys, by Ari Juels. Short review: It’s better written and has better cryptographers than the ones in any Dan Brown novel, but that’s really damning it with faint praise, which it doesn’t deserve.

It’s a highly readable first novel by Ari Juels, who is Chief Scientist at RSA Labs. The story is about a cryptographer who discovers an ancient plot involving a secret conspiracy. The ending is a little Stephenson-esque, insofar as it’s abrupt, but I got the feeling that that was authorial intent, not accident.

I enjoyed it, but since I don’t review a lot of fiction, I’m a bit unsure what to say about it. Is it better than Cryptonomicon? It depends how you weigh value per word. I was jolted into writing a short review by the new FTC rules, because I both bought a copy and was given one. I read the one I bought when Ari launched the book at RSA last year, and after I’d read it (but months ago) his publisher sent me a copy. Oh, and Ari’s employer has bought me dinner, but not in the last year. Finally, the link to the book is a non-affiliate link as far as I know. But given the complex messiness of Amazon linkage mechanisms, I’m actually unsure.

Since I haven’t read the copy I was given, and I already had a copy, was I really given anything?

As regular readers know, I regularly disclose such things and have since I started this blog. But as this example shows, putting long and complex rules in place will never cover the messy and emergent chaos which is the world in all its glory.

Anyway, you should buy a copy and read Tetrktys.

Quick Thoughts on the New Blogging Regulations

I want to congratulate the folks at the FTC, who’ve decided we all need to follow some rules about what bloggers can say. See for example, “
Epicenter The Business of Tech
FTC Tells Amateur Bloggers to Disclose Freebies or Be Fined
” at Wired. These new rules are documented in an easy to read 81 page document, which the Internet Patrol helpfully explains in this short write-up.

I don’t know what folks like Jim Harper are getting worked up about with strange posts like “Congress Shall Make No Law . . . But Regulators Act Anyway.” I mean, it’s not like the FTC should be regulating the $24 Billion dollars that banks made in poorly disclosed overdraft fees last year, or scammers like Cash4Gold. This was obviously and importantly top of mind for them, and we all know that bloggers can’t be trusted with the 1st amendment.

The FTC sent me hookers and blow to post this.

Punditry: Better Security Through Diversity Of Thinking

I am honored that the kind folks at threapost have asked me to write for them occasionally. My first post is about better security through diversity of thinking which was inspired by pastry chef Shuna Fish Lydon.
From her post (which I quoted in mine as well)

It is my experience that unless you push yourself really hard to stay away from your sweet spot comfort zone of I-Know-All-I-Need-To-Know-And-I-Feel-Very-Comfy-In-This-Job/Kitchen-Thank-You-Very-Much, and move kitchens or chefs or hire people who are much closer to your level than you feel comfortable having them, you will become stagnant in your baking skill and knowledge.

True for security as well. See my post for more.

MA/NY: Using GPS To Track Cars Requires A Warrant

Jennifer Granick reports that in Massachusetts, Cops Can’t Convert Car Into Tracking Device Without Court’s OK.

Connolly decided that the installation of the GPS device was a seizure of the suspect’s vehicle. “When an electronic surveillance device is installed in a motor vehicle, be it a beeper, radio transmitter, or GPS device, the government’s control and use of the defendant’s vehicle to track its movements interferes with the defendant’s interest in the vehicle notwithstanding that he maintains possession of it.” Thus, the court held this interference with the owner’s possessory interest requires a warrant.

She also links to a similar case in NY with effectively the same results.
It’s great to see the courts addressing how relatively new technology can and has impacted our personal liberties and law enforcement. It is definitely going to be interesting to see how US v Jones (a federal appeals case addressing this same question) turns out.