In Depth: Just over the Horizon

Meet the People

Now, if you’re really “nice”—and can stomach an endless succession of awful puns—then

“Nice”: adjective

A term of endearment applied to a person who has just made a donation of gold to our e-currency account—so that we can give up our day jobs and spend all our time writing rude things about Big Brother.

we might introduce you to:

  • The Prof—He helps us with our research: why, he can tell you what the squiggly “h” in Schrödinger’s equation means; how to calculate the covariant derivative of the Ricci tensor; and why colliding hashes are not such a good idea—together with a whole host of other things you don’t want to know anything about, in any way whatsoever.
  • Luigi—Our Italian friend, who finds learning about how to keep his affairs private—the business kind, of course—somewhat of a trial
  • Boris—Our friend from Eastern Europe, whose solution to every problem is to “blow something up”
  • Valdomir and Oozebucket of Improper Ideas Inc.—Consultants to Big Brothers worldwide, they’re always thinking up new ways to help their clientele to…well, as the song says, “Every move you make … I’ll be watching you!”
  • Mr. Gosport—Psst! Psst! It’s really an alias, so ingenious that only a spymaster could have invented it!
  • Morpheus’ Geekshonary—A collection of light-hearted definitions of technical terms, among them “Our Father Above” and “Our Father Below”. And yes, Billy Boy, you’re defined in there too!

Visit Foreign Lands

For those of you who didn’t pay attention in geography class, we offer you the opportunity, as mature students, to catch up, and study what’s going on in the following countries:

  • Mupoobay Land—Out of darkest Africa! A strange land where people behave like bats…well…at least when being “entertained” at the local police station!
  • The People’s Republic of All-Seeing Eyes (PROASE)—No, it’s not a problem down there! Though it can feel like it at times if you’re a citizen!
  • The United States of Big Business (USOBB)—Not to be confused with U-SOBB: “You…Servant of Big Brother”, or even in certain Middle Eastern countries—where difficulties in transliteration result in the penultimate letter being alphabetically demoted—to U-SOAB “You…Son of a B——”!

Keep it Simple, Stupid!

For those of you for whom “convenience is king”, and who just want to know “what you need”, but not “why you need it”, we’ll provide simple answers to simple questions; for example:

Security Suite: ZoneAlarm
(www.zonealarm.com)

Disk Scrubbing: Window Washer
(www.webroot.com)

Email: Hushmail
(www.hushmail.com)

There, you see, we do occasionally make practical suggestions. But if you have a little patience we’ll explain the problems: ZoneAlarm is a little too keen to phone home to mother; Window Washer forgets to wash behind your ears; and Hushmail—well, privacy comes in two flavours, and Hushmail, at present, is plain vanilla and not a raspberry ripple! If privacy is really important to you, we’ll show you how to do better.

It’s up to You!

Let us know what you’d like us to witter on about, from the amusing anecdote to a piece of serious polemic (well, we’ll try…the “serious” bit that is…but not very hard!). How about:

  • Binary Glitching: A Big Brother Special—The good guys publish both binaries and source code on their sites. But all is not as it seems when Big Brother cuts the “hard-line” and rearranges the furniture!
  • Borganization: Your Destiny!—Perhaps not in your lifetime, but sadly it’s inevitable. Meet Big Brother’s Big Brother!
  • Calling All Firefox Developers: How to Make a Million!—There’s a great demand for it, but no one is satisfying that demand. Not yet that is. Are you the One? [T: Morpheus! That’s hype! I’ll not share a site with someone who’s going to impugn my integrity—of course, I’ll still share your bed!]

    Correction, dear reader, theoretically you could make a million. But in practice, as soon as you’d done the work, your idea would be stolen and commercialized by some hard-nosed corporation with much deeper pockets than you. So you’d only be helping to make rich men richer! Doesn’t sound so attractive when I put it like that, now does it? But still, it might prove an interesting programming exercise.

As Pure as the Driven Snow!

Perhaps we can help you with your laundry:

  • The Consummate Scrubber—No! Not the kind found down dimly-lit side streets near train stations. But the kind that will eradicate all traces of the love affair you’ve just had with your browser. Clean sheets guaranteed when Big Brother arrives to clean-out your room! Not even the best boffin with his spin-polarized scanning tunnelling microscopy will find any traces on your disk!
  • The Dance of the Qubits: The Death of Encryption—The boffins have been beavering away at it for decades. Now, they are actually close to achieving it. If so, everyone’s a loser—though, of course, Hillary may finally be able to decrypt those videos Bill made of Monica!

With a Little Indirection, find Direction Out!

Maybe you’d fancy having a “little something” on the side:

  • Doxies: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly—Many will reduce, rather than enhance, your privacy. We’ll tell you about the jewel in the crown. And like all the best things in life, it’s free! … Ouch! Okay Tiffs! Excluding you! … Oh! I see what you mean! Sorry, Freudian slip. That should, of course, read “Proxies” and not “Doxies”. Dear! Dear! What was I thinking about? Well, I know what I was thinking about, but I couldn’t possibly tell you about it on this blog!
  • Domain Name Registration—You’ve set up that whistleblowing site, and now find that BB has leaned rather heavily upon your web hosting company. Not only has your “hard-line” been cut, but, even worse, the web hosting company won’t allow you to transfer your domain name elsewhere. We’ll show you how to manage your own domain!

God we Trust! The People we …

You no longer recognize the country you live in? Welcome to the “real world”:

  • Give us Back our Constitution!—How interpretative justice dispensed by political appointees is putting a smile on Big Brother’s face
  • E-Currencies & Micropayments: A Missed Opportunity—Time for the e-currency issuers to get their skates on before they’re overtaken by the Telcos
  • Encryption: Out of Africa—Hide from Big Brother with the help of this open-source beastie!

All that Glisters is not Gold!

How you spend your hard-earned money is your business, not “His Business”:

  • E-Currency for Cash—Want to purchase e-currency anonymously for cash so that you can start up that whistleblowing site without having Big Brother knocking on your door? No, not the sort of transaction where you walk into a bank and make a cash deposit whilst smiling sheepishly into Big Brother’s spy camera. We mean a genuinely anonymous transaction made by snail-mail! There are very few players in this market. We’ll risk our money on your behalf and tell you which e-currency exchangers are operating scams, and which are not!
  • A Golden Sunset 12/16?—Will e-gold recover? Will it lead to Costagold Mark II? Will it be Paypalized? What should you do with your e-gold: spend it, transfer it, cash it, or—horror of horrors—lose it!

Got Ya! … By the Short and Curlies!

“I have a dream!” you say. Well, let’s make it a reality:

  • How to Grasp Big-Brother by the Short and Curlies!—May I squeeze, you ask? Oh Yes!
  • The Great Firewall of China—We think we've found a few loose bricks, or should that be a few open ports?
  • There’s a Hole in my Bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza!—Call it your bucket, or call it your browser…if there’s a hole in it, then we’ll show you how to fix it.
  • Hushmail: The Fly in the Ointment—A good service that brings strong encryption to the masses. But it’s far from being as private as they would have you believe. But it could be! We’ll petition for some additional functionality.

Trying to say something, Mr. Anderson?

Perhaps you’d like to gather around the sofa with T&M, and listen in on some real-life confessions:

  • JAP: The Sin that Dare not Speak its Name!—A salutary tale of Big Brother in action: the gagging order; the compromised software release; the suspicious users; the smoking gun; the collective “Phew! That was close.”
  • Keyboard Profiling: Every Hacker’s Dream come True!—They suggest you put your password on sticky-notes and then leave them on every computer you visit—or, at least, the digital equivalent! We say, “Some mothers do ’ave ’em!”

Cybernauts Seek Shelter Offshore!

Perhaps, you can help us, to help you:

  • Offshore Hosting—The offshore hosting services that don’t want to know your name or take your credit card details. Instead, a little gold will suffice! As we’re looking for a permanent home offshore, we’ll tell you, dear reader, who we select and why!

Call for Proposals

M: If you run an offshore hosting company and you think you’ve got what it takes to host Tiffany & Morpheus, then let us know. Email your proposal, signed with your PGP key of course, to blackhole@centreofcyberspace.com (but only after replacing the word “blackhole” with “tamjgp” and the word “centreofcyberspace” with “nerdshack”), marked for the attention of our agent, John Grant.

T: That’s a bit pretentious, isn't it, calling him our agent?

M: Ah! Tiffs clearly intends to keep me on the straight and narrow—women are like that, God bless ’em! Take two: JG’s the bloke, the guy, the man—the financial pimp if you like—who “looks after us”, so that we can prostitute our meagre talents, with as little effort on our part as possible. Psst! If you pay JG vast sums of money, we’ll abandon our principles and say nice things about you and your site.

T: Correction, Morpheus might say nice things about you, but I’d call you a miserable little scumbag, so don’t you dare try to bride JG. Now, a discrete “Hosted by Henry” on our web site in exchange for some free hosting is a possibility. But, beware: if you’ve any skeletons in your closet you can be sure I’ll “out” them!

There be Klingons on the Starboard Bow!

Well, actually, it’s not the Klingons, it’s AOL—is there a difference, you ask? Like to put an end to spam:

  • Paid-For Email: Spam the “Next Generation”?—AOL is proposing to allow businesses—who pay AOL—to send you unfiltered spam. Not on your Nelly! We propose a different system: “you-pay-me-mail”—where it's you, the email recipient, who gets paid, sets the price, and decides on who pays and who doesn’t!
  • Passport Mark II—Yes, Billy Boy’s at it again. Disappointed with the world’s lack of enthusiasm for leaving their personal details in Microsoft’s database, he’s trying a different tack. Nothing new, just good old public key encryption, rebranded under the Microsoft name! It could eliminate some types of scam—well done, Billy Boy. But, it could also eliminate everyone’s anonymity—well done, Big Brother!

Like a Thief in an Empty House!

Ever thought about what you’d like to say to Big Brother? How about Na!…Na!…Na! Na!…Na!:

  • The Perfect Intermediary—Our specification for the ultimate private data processing centre. Even if Big Brother cannons through the door, he’ll find nothing worth taking away.
  • Pretty Good Pecunix—They’re a star, shining brightly in the firmament of the great god Zimmerman—at least in this respect.
  • Pecunix: Not with a Bargepole—Not, at least, until they make one small change! They stand head and shoulders above the competition in every other respect, but this one defect brings all their other good works to naught!
  • Revocable 1mdc!—They used to say e-currency transactions were irrevocable. Well, think again!

Monday…Tuesday…Everyday is Washing Day!

Well, Madam, could we help you with some of those domestic chores:

  • Some Bleach in the Wash—Well, dear diligent housewife! As you know so very well, when it comes to washing day it can be so very difficult to completely remove all those stubborn stains. But, don’t worry. Recent research has demonstrated that “NPP Bleach” will remove even those hardest-to-clean stains, leaving your wash sparkling clean: swap files, deleted files, temporary files, directory entries, alternate data streams, system restore copies, free space, slack space, unallocated space, and Tiffy’s undies. Yes ladies, all these garments can be restored to the crisp, pristine condition they possessed before you pressed “Enter”, or before I started whispering “sweet somethings” in Tiffy’s ear! [T: I’m going to delete that, and don’t you dare put it back in again!]
  • Voice Recognition: Shouting your Password from the Rooftops!—They claim it’s a replacement for passwords. We claim it’s April 1st!

On the best-laid Plans of Mice and Preeks!

Perhaps you’d care to take a deep breath, count to ten, and then let loose with an: Oops! Oh! No! Sh——t! Bugg——r! Fu——ety-Buckety! or whatever your favourite expletive happens to be:

  • And you Thought you were Safe!—You’ve installed that proxy chain. You've shooed away the two Jays—those attractive, brightly coloured birds that prove just that little bit too inquisitive for comfort. You’ve done everything correctly—by the book. So you call up your favourite search engine, enter your favourite topic, and soon you’re clicking away on one link after another, sure in the knowledge that Big Brother doesn’t know what sites you’re visiting. Right? … Wrong! Some of those clicks will be putting a smile on Big Brother’s face. And no need to feel so smug, all you Tor users—yes, we mean you too! We’ll tell you why you're suffering from a touch of incontinence, and we’ll explain how to fit a browser-shaped pair of diapers to your…ah!…fu—ety-buckety!
  • Your Fingerprints, Please: Digital of Course!—It’s getting very difficult to surf without leaving your fingerprints behind. We campaign for a solution, and offer an interim one.

We could also get down and dirty (Tiffs is really good at that sort of thing. Ouch! Why did the Good Lord have to give women such powerful finger muscles? I bear the scars!): want to know the difference between SOCKS4 and SOCKS4a? No! We didn’t think so. But we’ll tell you in any case!

Tiffium & Morphium – Bigus Brutium-Absentium Zonium

Cyber roads, take me HOME
To the page where I came from
Freedom's Fire, my desire
Take me home, cyber roads.