So this has been the third day of 27C3 and as such three fourth of the conference have passed. Absolutely a pity on the one side, on the other i am looking forward to catch up with my sleep demand. At least i have not too much blood in my caffeinstream. Today, i enqueued to the people who toppled down one or two times Mate bottles, which causes the famous and original hacker conference background sound. The talks I attended this day were unlike the day before more society related. But read for yourself:
A look on 2010
The first appearance today made Constanze Kurz, Frank Rieger, Andy Müller-Maguhn and Andreas Bogk from CCC in giving a retrospect of 2010. When they presented the development of member numbers as first thing by tradition, they welcomed the CCC's (basically a German club) first member from India. It followed a long, but entertaining report of the months, including (besides other)
- lawsuit against data retention in Germany
- so-called "Legic Hack" on RFID chips designed for secure applications
- ELENA, a planned massive data file on employees
- mandatory identification for police officers (will be introduced in Berlin at least)
- events like Easterhegg, SIGINT, ICMP5, MRMCDs, Freedom Not Fear demonstration and Datenspuren
- establishment of a parliamentary committee of inquiry on "the Internet and the digital society" with experts from CCC
- Winning the "Golden Nica" award for "digital communities"
- new German ID card
- Death of Prof. Pfitzmann
- Wikileaks and the Wau-Holland-Foundation
Though talks at 27C3 are held in German as well as in English, most of those I attended where indeed English ones. Although I am a rather native German speaker it felt kind of strange to take notes for this talk and some other following.
Dan Kaminsky located
When I went to the other room for the next talk, there where some late lightning talks performed. The last one by Dan Kaminsky, who I missed on the regular talks! Even more curious he did not talk about DNS, but explained color blindness a little and presented an mobile phone app that shift colors so that people can see something meaningful again. Of course, he made a great show out of it and overrun his time big.
On the sofa
A very great session has been hold by Sai who did fantastically in explaining Cognitive Psychology". Very interactively he showed off deterministic human behaviour on different circumstances. Interactively, because he did some tests with the audience every now and then. More or less it was about how people decide or make opinions based on feelings or assumptions instead of statistics and facts, but also what to communicate to people if you want to achieve a certain goal. He recommended a book, as well, if you want to dive more into this topic. It is Judgement Under Uncertainty by Tversky and Kahneman.
Some status.net users gathered during lunch break, yay! Actually, there is something I do not quite understand. With status.net a very good free and open microblogging software is available, and it is also provided by identi.ca as hoster. However, there are many many many folks even in the FOSS and hacker communities, using - partly solely - Twitter. No question, Twitter was a pioneer and is widely used, in fact is mainstream media. Nevertheless, it is not open, but provided by a single profit oriented company (although they do not earn much with the service yet) and is a centralized solution. Moreover, the CCC folks in the first talk called to open up more jabber servers to decentralize it from jabber.ccc.de again. To follow this premise, I like to call to switch to or at least use status.net, if not on own servers then on identi.ca. The API is basically compatible to Twitter, too, and you can still stream to Twitter if you want to.
Greetings from the land of the Volcano
Originally, a talk on the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative (short: IMMI) should take place here. Unfortunately the speakers could not make it, so Daniel Domscheit-Berg took over the duty. Since he worked on this project some time ago, he had also insights into this. Nevertheless it became a more general talk on this topic, but was still interesting and Daniel did a good job, imho. IMMI is intended as a "soundly defined legal framework for publishers on the Internet" (hope i recited correctly, at least the point matches). This initiative is supported cross-party in Iceland, which is an amazing result in my opinion, and will be established some time around January or February 2011, if i got it right. This project kicked off some processes in other countries, too, as in Slovenia or Italy e.g.
Furthermore Daniel also stated criticism on the companies Amazon, Paypal and Mastercard due to their dealing with Wikileaks and also argued against certain web-based stuff: »if Cloud Computing is about centralizing, because it scales so well, we need to get rid of this concept«. I absolutely sign this statement, as i understand it is bound to foreign, especially commercial service providers like Mail providers or proprietary Social Networks (you can understand this as a point to my call to use status.net some sentences above ;) ). In other words, he outlined what our demand is: »we need diversity, we need decentralization, we need individuals and individual organizations«.
The Question and Answer section after his talk was very interesting, too, since some new things have been like leadership and the culture connected to it (essence: not good, we need decentralization).
Idling on tomorrows ruins
Eleanor Saitta choose a dusky title for her talk: Your infrastructure will kill you. Although her explanations were really telling, I am not able to express them right now, I will need to see it a second time. However, the basic problem is that we - that is the Western world - are living on an infrastructure that has mainly build up after WWII. Former or later it will break down, if not replaced, and we are already having problems to extend or maintain it. This is partly caused by people who do think only for few decades, depending on their career and age. Large infrastructure is a thing of greater time periods. And there are other issues like overuse of resources, which caused former civilizations to cease. This are only few aspects of a challenge that may bring our World into trouble, former or later, if not tackled early enough.
Divide and Conquer
The following talk has been held by three women, Kathrin Englert, Doris Gerbig and Betje Schwarz who analyzed the situation of poor, unemployed people in their use of the Internet. The selected part of German society lives on low level social welfare ("Hartz 4") and are therefore confronted with access of the Internet. Basically the offices say that television and radio are sufficient as information providers and thus Internet is not necessary. In the calculation of the sum of the welfare the Internet is indeed a position - with little more than 3€ per month. You can get Internet access for three days max with this amount. The problem is that, as we all know, the Internet is not a single-way media, but an interactive instrument for all parts of our live. And so is for the affected people. This is nothing new to us, but not being able to access the Internet you may get into big personal trouble (social contacts, education, finding a job, structure the day, find legal information and help, ...) So the ladies postulated five demands:
- Access to the Internet is a basic right
- A computer to connect to the Internet with must not be seized
- Technical requirements need to be provided
- According to the target group courses needs to be offered
- Maybe a "social (cheap) ticket" should be available to access it
Fnord News Show
Fnord News Show is a traditionally funny-sad retrospect of 2010, originally in German but also translated into English. See it four yourself, it is worth it!
Freeze Cache against Cold Boots
The final session for me today was Jürgen Pabel who presented his kernel module "FrozenCache". FrozenCache is used to clean up CPU cache and RAM in order to store encryption keys in there for occasions when your screen is locked or the computer in standby mode. This should prevent Cold Boot attacks, which have been demonstrated in 2008 first time. FrozenCache is written for the x86 architecture and does work so far, although there are still some things to consider left. The only downside is that, according to some guy in the audience to claim to have worked on producing boards, the CPU can be addressed to by JTAG and the keys be revealed eventually.