Air Gap

Updated on Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The latest revelations about how thoroughly the NSA, GCHQ and friends have corrupted Internet security have got Bruce Schneier recommending an air gap.

Back in the late 90's I played a small role in the fight against the UK government's trusted third party / mandatory key escrow scheme on behalf of Ç-Dilla, at around the same time as the Clinton administration was pushing the Clipper Chip. It seemed that the fight was won, but apparently after being told no the spy agencies went and found a way to do it anyway.

The starting point is terrorists, because there is nothing that can't be justified by the war on terror. But all that data just wants to be used so it gets shared with the DEA, and then the IRSAnd then LOVEINT. The implications for civil liberties and the economy aren't great but they're probably not the worst fallout.

The ending point is probably terrorists as well. Because by opening up back doors and sneaking weaknesses into the algorithms that we depend on for security we've opened up holes for the bad guys to exploit. Bad enough that your local nuclear power station is hooked up to the Internet but now we know the VPN and the Firewall that should be keeping it safe have been fatally compromised.

If we really wanted to save the most possible lives then the billions being sunk into the NSA would be better spent developing self-driving cars.

(Related: Overvalidation; Is it safe to open securedoc.html (Cisco Registered Envelope)?; Securing the Internet of Things)

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Response to updated GGNRA Draft Dog Management Plan

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

Response to updated GGNRA Draft Dog Management Plan

The National Park Service just released a new version of their Draft Dog Management Plan for the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA).

After the response to the previous version the NPS said that they'd consider allowing dog access in additional areas and more importantly that they would reevaluate the 'poison pill' provision that enabled changing the rules in the future without further consultation. Additional access was considered and rejected. 'Compliance-Based Management Strategy' has been rebranded as 'Monitoring-Based Management Strategy' and while they've technically dropped the poison pill the language is still pretty dire up to and including year plus closures:

"When the level of compliance is deemed unacceptable based on violations and/or impacts to resources, primary management actions such as focused enforcement of regulations, education, and establishment of buffer zones, time and use restrictions, and SUP restrictions would be implemented. If noncompliance continues, secondary management actions including short-term closures (typically one year or less) would be implemented through the compendium."

That 'typically one year or less' is just such a throw away line, like it's a minor punishment and not 7 dog years or more. 

Here are my full comments on the new plan (comment ID 875407-55416/35):

Dear National Park Service,

I commented on the previous Draft Dog Management Plan/ Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (comment ID: 457979-38106/85) and as requested will focus on the changes made between then and the current draft.

My chief concern with the previous draft was the provision that allowed the NPS to degrade off-leash ‘ROLA’ areas to on-leash or banning dogs entirely without further public consultation. The latest draft has removed this language, but the new ‘Monitoring-Based Management Strategy’ doesn’t strike me as a material improvement.

The compliance section of this strategy begins with focused enforcement of regulations and education. It should stop there. Instead it goes on to mention buffer zones, time and use restrictions, and SUP restrictions and then goes on to short-term closures that are typically one-year or less.

While the previous draft was worse, the prospect of losing access to the limited off-leash areas that will remain after the implementation of this plan for a year or possubly more isn’t a material improvement.

I live in San Francisco and frequently visit the GGNRA with my family, which includes a toddler and well behaved dog. I completely support a reasonable allocation of the available space between visitors who want to bring their dog and visitors who would prefer a dog-free experience.

Given the tone of the plan and the history of the NPS seeking to ban off-leash dog access altogether I cannot help but fear that any provision in the plan to curtail dog access will end up being used.

Please remove the language around further regulating, restricting, permitting and closing the ROLA areas. Focus on enforcement and use your limited resources to handle the minority of irresponsible dog owners rather than closing down access for everyone.


Robert Ellison

P.S. The sand ladder at fort funston is an unstable and dangerous trail. Introducing leashes would increase the risk of injury to people and dogs alike.


(previously, previously)

(Related: GGNRA Dog Management Round 3; Response to GGNRA Draft Dog Management Plan; GGNRA Dog Management Plan Update)

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Dolphins at Fort Funston

Updated on Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Book reviews for August 2013

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017
iD (The Machine Dynasty, #2) by Madeline Ashby

iD (The Machine Dynasty, #2) by Madeline Ashby


Very much a middle book in a series. vN was outstanding, iD picks up where it left off and it's good if you read vN but probably doesn't stand alone. I'm looking forward to a third installment.


Flaggermusmannen (Harry Hole, #1) by Jo Nesbø

Flaggermusmannen (Harry Hole, #1) by Jo Nesbø


The Bat - recently translated into English. This is the first in the Harry Hole series and it's a very good one. Most of the rest were translated some time ago and it's a little odd that it's taken so long for the initial installment. I was expecting it to some sort of rubbish embarrassment but Nesbo is on top form here. My guess is that the problem was that it's set in Sydney which is probably a hard sell for fans of Scandinavian crime.


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I don't always find droids...

Updated on Sunday, May 3, 2020

I don't always find droids...

I don't always find droids, but when I do, they're the ones I'm looking for.

- Most Interesting Wookie In The Universe (seen at the Lucasfilm campus).

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BBC On Patents

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

Patently Absurd

"The patent system in the USA is so distorted it's now more lucrative for companies known as 'patent trolls' to sue manufacturers rather than actually make anything. The problem's so serious that President Obama has got involved -- and British companies are targeted if they do business in the US. Rory Cellan-Jones investigates and finds one of the world's biggest trolls in his lair in Dallas."

Patently Absurd is available to stream for the next six days (the BBC never took me up on the offer for a new hard drive).


(Related: How to fix software patents; HBR on the Wrong Patent Reform; More on breaking the Internet)

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Scary Bunny

Updated on Sunday, May 3, 2020

Cheek Cells, Methylene Blue Stain

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

Cheek Cells, Methylene Blue Stain

Two of my very own cheek cells, painlessly extracted with a cotton swab and then stained with methylene blue.

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Diary of a Living Room

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

Diary of a Living Room

1,920 frames taken every 45 seconds and stitched together into a single photo. It's a single frame time lapse of 24 hours.

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Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015
I Thought He Came With You is Robert Ellison's blog.