Saturday, March 19, 2005


Theosophy, n. An ancient faith having all the certitude of religion and all the mystery of science

Some more tidbits from "How To Save The Internet" dissected.

Here's a lulu.....

Pry PCs from Their Cold, Dead Hands
Guns are dangerous; therefore, we license them. We give them unique serial numbers and control their distribution. James Whittaker says programmable PCs are dangerous, so why not treat them like guns?

"Let's make all end user devices nonprogrammable," he says. "No one can connect to the Internet on a machine that creates code. If you want a computer to do programming, you would have to be licensed. We could license software companies to purchase programmable machines, which would be completely traceable along with the code created on them."

That would blunt the information security problem—suddenly all that intelligence at the edge of the network that Amoroso wants to pull back in isn't just gone; it's physically stripped. On the other side, new levels of accountability and liability are created through licensing developers and eliminating anonymity from coding.

In many ways, I regard the greatest heroes of the computing revolution to be those who provided essential tools to grow personal computing to critical mass. Think of Phillippe Kahn of Borland. Fifty bucks for a compiler that not only produced damn good code but also immediately generated a user community dedicated to supporting and extending the language. Digital Research's compilers brought computing within the reach of a lot of small developers and businesses who desperately needed solutions. Even MSFT got into the act (although the first incarnations of Visual C were a disaster) - BASIC did its job quite nicely, thank you, and for all of its runtime piggishness, VB provides an excellent environment for quick prototyping and even proprietary solutions. McNealy did a real public service making Java readily available. A lot of customized solutions for corner case business problems are solved by having these tools available for people who think outside of the box.

I could cite many other examples, but think how well gun control works. It's next to impossible for a law-abiding citizen in many jurisdictions to get a pistol license, and even getting a long arms license in places is a severe PITA. However, criminals have absolutely no trouble obtaining firearms, and the populace has no means to defend itself. You're going to threaten a goblin with the cops when he's holding a gun on you? Spare me. Goblins don't get guns through gun stores the way citizens do. It's a feel-good farce perpetrated by the Democrats because their fucking Kennedy icons got blown away by a couple of goblins. Oswald would've gotten the chair, and Sirhan would've been dragged off to the "green room" had justice taken its course, but the glorious Democratic party is so committed to its quote unquote principles of patronizing the public while taking away what it has earned that they would easily hang the good folk of this country out to dry to further their own nefarious agendas (any time the subject of Kennedys comes up I get pissed off). However, I digress.....

The idea of traceable code isn't all that horrendous, however, it requires a code signing function to be built into untamperable hardware, and that raises the question of how PCs are upgraded or for that matter replaced. Think of XP's voting mechanism for example. When an XP machine is booted, several code functions "vote" on the changes that the machine has seen since the last boot (i.e. new hardware or software) and if there are too many changes as per Microsoft's definition, the XP license needs to be reactivated. The problem right there is that we have no idea as to what the quantitative and qualitative criteria are for the voting, and we are dependent upon Microsoft's gatekeepers to tell us whether or not our previously legally paid for license is still in force despite the fact we hooked something up to the USB bus on the box. We also know that computer hardware has a finite lifespan, and that if there's a catastrophic failure, how do we recover from a backup to get a new developer-capable machine up and running while maintaining the audit trail (presumably the untamperable hardware would not be transferrable between machines).

This bears even more dissection. To be continued tomorrow.....

And again, all excerpts from the article are the property of the copyright holder, and are excerpted for fair use purposes....


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