Feedback from Pecunixie Land

Blesseth is the sinner who repenteth—well, let’s see—dancing all the way to the fabled Pecunixie Land. ... Masochistium Clickium Hic!

Blesseth is the Sinner who Repenteth

To err is human; to correct your errors with expedition is divine. Well, according to this definition Pecunix has deity potential. You may remember, dear reader, that we blogged on the problems that our friend Luigi was having with the Pecunix account creation process a short while ago. Well, we got an email from Pecunix in response, and despite the fact we gave their derrière a very thorough kicking, they said they found our blog entry “very helpful”. Ah, if only every organization was as willing to take criticism on the chin in such a square-jawed, testosterone-filled, and manly fashion!

Well, let’s see

However, what is always more important than mere words is affirmative action, and the good folks at Pecunix also said in their email that they had “corrected the problem”. Well, we had a quick look, and indeed they have. We started out with cookies and Javascript disabled as Luigi had done previously in his mountaineering attempts. As soon as we got to the T&Cs screen, there at the bottom was the message:

The Pecunix site uses Javascript. Please activate Javascript in your browser before you continue

We enabled Javascript and pressed “I Accept”. And then we were greeted with the message:

You have a COOKIE problem!

Please set your browser to accept COOKIES from this site, then begin the account creation process again.

More Information

The Pecunix site uses cookies to establish a secure session for you while you use the secure site. The cookie will be deleted from your browser when you close your secure session with Pecunix. If you set your browser to accept cookies from the Pecunix site you will be able to continue.

You have a Javascript problem!

Please activate Javascript in your browser , then begin the account creation process again.

Yes, we did have a cookie problem. But, oops, it’s Pecunix, rather than us, who has the Javascript problem!

But, as requested, we went back to the beginning, enabled cookies (only first-party cookies are required), tried again…and…and success! There were no messages this time, and led by the Pied Piper with his siren song of gleaming gold we danced with ease all the way into the fabled Pecunixie Land.

Now, it would help the user to display the cookie and Javascript warnings on the same page. And given that some potential users, like Luigi, may never have heard of cookies or Javascript, a link to a help page, explaining how to “do the deed” with the major browsers would add that warm, glowing, “they care about me” feeling. But, all in all, these are minor quibbles.

Luigi says, “He who make-a de amends, make-a de money!” And we agree. Well done Pecunix, a responsive organization is one the world likes to do business with!

Tiffium & Morphium – Bigus Brutium-Absentium Zonium

The Scam Ratio

Higher mathematics—yes, it separates the “scrupulous sheep” from the “gulling goats”—but there’s a fly in the ointment—why a “scammy” site might be ideal for a knight in shining armour—why you need not have read this blog entry in the first place (hint!). ... Masochistium Clickium Hic!

Doing your Sums

For the accountants amongst you who like to reduce everything to ratios we have a candidate to add to your portfolio. We call it the “scam ratio”. Here’s how to calculate it:

Find a search string that uniquely identifies the site in question. Use Google to calculate the total number of hits (TH). Then repeat the search, but this time append the word “scam” to the search string to calculate the total number of scam hits (SH). Then the scam ratio, expressed as a percentage, equals (100 x SH / TH)—makes you feel as though you were back in school, doesn’t it!

Now, does this statistic provide a simple means to separate the “scrupulous sheep” from the “gulling goats”? Well, let’s investigate.

It’s looking Good

Let’s take some major sites that don’t operate scams—well, at least not overtly:

Brand Scam Ratio
  Amazon 0.3%  
  Intel 0.3%  
  Microsoft 0.2%  

Some Good Guys

Scam ratios of less than 1% are typical of major companies operating in non-controversial business areas.

Now, let’s take some well-known scams:

Brand Scam Ratio
  Prof Resources System Int. 63%  
  Fortuna Alliance 56%  
  Drivers Seat Network 52%  
  Bounty International Lottery 49%  

Some Bad Guys

Scam ratios of around 50% are typical for the most palpable of scams. So clearly, the scam ratio delivers the goods?

But, not so fast

Let’s calculate the scam ratios for the major e-currency issuers:

Brand Scam Ratio
  e-gold 36.0%  
  Pecunix 25.0%  
  1mdc 1.2%  

E-currency Issuers

A naïve interpretation of these figures would suggest that e-gold and Pecunix were operating scams, and that only 1mdc could be relied upon.

However, the reason for the high scam ratios for e-gold and Pecunix is that these e-currency issuers are very widely known and are usually mentioned in general articles dealing with e-currency. But these same articles will almost invariably refer to the scams that so often make use of e-currencies. Because 1mdc is less well known (and is a pseudo-issuer) it does not appear so frequently in these articles, and hence the scam ratio grants it an unwarranted reputability in comparison to its more illustrious bed-follows.

So if our scam ratio is to be of any use at all, then it’s important to read a specimen number of the entries which contain hits for the word “scam” and the site in question, and then determine if these entries are accusing the site of being directly involved in a scam, or whether references to the word “scam” are simply commonly associated with the business sector within which the site operates.

Clearly, what matters is how the scam ratio varies between different businesses operating within the same sector (and even given these strictures anomalies can still arise, as with the case of 1mdc).

Is it too clean?

So should you choose from amongst those businesses with the lowest scam ratios in the sector of interest? Not necessarily!

Let’s take the example of web hosting. A typical on-shore web hosting company will keep detailed logs and pass these logs over to Big Brother at the first whiff of a court order. On the other hand, a web hosting company that respects your privacy will destroy all detailed logs, and will be based in a jurisdiction that respects the privacy of both its citizens and its businesses.

Now those businesses operating scams have very good noses for where they can keep their operations private. And even if a web hosting company takes down a site as soon as it discovers that the site is operating a scam, those web-hosting companies that respect their client’s privacy will still get a reputation for being associated with scams. So, if you want to blow the whistle on Big Brother, then a web hosting company with at least a modest scam ratio might well be just what you need, for the anonymity that helps protect the scammers from the scammed is the very same anonymity that will help protect you from Big Brother!

Conclusion

So now you can see the reason why we introduced you to the “scam ratio”: it was to illustrate that, in practice, when it comes to determining whether a site is operating a scam it just isn’t that simple!

Tiffium & Morphium – Bigus Brutium-Absentium Zonium

E-Gold: On being
economical with the Truth!

What Big Brother expects—on supping with someone who sups with the Devil—why Pecunix has far better table manners than e-gold. ... Masochistium Clickium Hic!

What Big Brother expects

The “Name”, “Address Details”, “Email Address”, and “Telephone Number” that you enter into the e-gold account creation form should be just what e-gold and Big Brother expect them to be—namely yours! Now, of course, you could enter “pseudonymous” details for these fields, and we suspect a fair proportion of the existing e-gold account holders have been—how shall we put it delicately—“economical with the truth”.

Supping with the Devil

We’ll have more to say about “pseudonymous” entities on another occasion, but suffice it to say that if a web site asks you to enter personal details, then the validity of those details forms an integral part of the contract, often implied, between you and the web site service provider.

In the case of e-gold, your personal details aren’t verified when you create an account. But beware, that doesn’t mean never-ever! If, one day, your personal details need to be verified for some reason and that verification fails, then you might find your assets frozen. And that day might not be too far in the future now that e-gold is “supping with the Devil”—in his incarnation as the U.S. Treasury—but without the requisite “long spoon” of having a data processing centre that is based off-shore! So, if you’re struck by a sudden bout of amnesia when entering your personal details, then it would be wise to maintain the balance on your e-gold account at a suitably low-level—one that won’t bring tears to your eyes should the contents be “appropriated” by some criminal organization, be it “little” or “large”!

Pecunix: Details, what Details?

But, if you want a really, really private e-currency account then why not try Pecunix, an e-currency issuer who takes your privacy very, very seriously—well, apart from one not-so-wee aspect that we shall harp on about in due course! Now, with a Pecunix account, the divulging of personal details during the account creation process is entirely optional, as indeed it should be. And you can’t be asked to verify information that you were never required to provide in the first place!

Tiffium & Morphium – Bigus Brutium-Absentium Zonium

Your Keys please: RIPA, Part 3

The dilemma—why you should hand over your encryption keys—why you can still keep your secrets safe—a British Big Brother with no sense of fair play—our campaign against RIPA. ... Masochistium Clickium Hic!

Between Scylla and Charybdis

Well, Herr W.S. Blooer, you have a problem. Big Brother is breaking down your door. Now he’s just found those encrypted files on your computer. Now he’s offering you a choice: (1) hand over your encryption keys, or (2) go to prison, be tortured, be executed, or be forced to listen to a lecture by Billy-Boy—none of which was on your to-do list for today!

Do it with a Smile

Well, of course, it’s best not to get into this situation in the first place. But, if you do, then you should…then you should hand over your encryption keys with a smile, for you have nothing to hide! Why? Here’s why. Now Big Brother has decrypted your files. Now he’s marching through your digital jungle along a well-trodden trail to a clearing where he finds…where he finds “everything that you wanted him to find”, whilst remaining blissful unaware that behind an impenetrable thicket of digital trunks lies another clearing, one that contains “everything that you didn’t want him to find”.

Why now?

The reason we’ve decided to blog on this topic today is that we’ve received a request from a friend in the UK asking for advice. Now there’s nothing we like better than a good reason for a good rant. However, good rants generate lots of words, so we’ve decided to break our “rantations” into sections, most of which you can wisely skip!

Whilst this issue affects everyone, our focus is on the legislation currently being enacted in the UK. So, for those of you who think of the UK in terms of red telephone boxes and little old ladies pedalling their bicycles on their way to evensong we have some introductory polemic under the heading “Butcher Blair and Bubba Brown”. Next come sections detailing the legislation itself, “Crime and Punishment”; its affect upon the innocent majority, “Punish the Innocent”; and its affect upon the terrorist minority, “Exonerate the Guilty”. Finally, and this is the only really important part: what you can do to prevent this Big Brother style of legislation from being enacted, “‘No Keys’ Campaign”.

“No Keys” Campaign

Our “‘No Keys’ Campaign” provides details on how to download spoiling software that makes any “hand over your keys” legislation inoperable. The software can be used to encrypt your data in such a way that it appears indistinguishable from pseudo-random data, making it impossible for forensic analysis to determine that there is any encrypted material present on your computer.

If enough people in the UK were to follow our campaign instructions then the ensuing publicity would be sufficient to halt the proposed legislation. However, following the campaign instructions is even more important for people living in countries where such legislation has not yet been considered: the effort required to prevent anti-libertarian pressure groups from successfully promoting such legislation is very much less than that required to halt pending legislation that is well on its way to becoming law.

Tiffium & Morphium – Bigus Brutium-Absentium Zonium

“Butcher Blair” and “Bubba Brown”

Why all is not well in the “sceptered isle”—why “the great and the good” are misunderstood—the outstanding “Nucembaptists”—the foreign adventure—the other Siamese twin—where a hornet “wears his sting”. ... Masochistium Clickium Hic!

The “Sceptered Isle”

Now our knowledge of the recent political history of bulldog Britain is not extensive, but as it may well be better than yours, dear reader, let us explain why our friend is so perturbed.

It seems that life is changing in that sceptred isle. A land that was the birth place of freedom and that was once admired around the globe for upholding the rights of the individual has become—under the joint “stewardship” of what our friend calls “Butcher Blair” and “Bubba Brown”—a tyrant state.

And yes, those rumours are true: the freedom-loving Burnets of Barnstable are retiring to a bungalow in Beijing!

They’re Misunderstood!

Now we feel it’s most unkind to use the designations “Butcher Blair” and “Bubba Brown” respectively for the Prime Minister and Chancellor of Great Britain. We feel that “Dear Tone” and “Dear Gordy” are better names for these “regular guys”. And don’t go and email us saying that Dear Tone has killed over 100,000 people in Iraq and therefore deserves the epithet “The Butcher of Basra”. We would point out in his defence that Dear Tone didn’t personally kill all those people. It’s much the same misunderstanding that arises regarding all those local hospitals that Dear Tone has closed down in the UK. If your relative dies on the long journey to the nearest hospital you wouldn’t say Dear Tone killed your relative, now would you? He didn’t arrive by helicopter, commandeer the ambulance, and then personally throttle your beloved Granny, now did he? And it’s the same with all those people who were silly enough to be in the wrong place when clouds of poison gas spread through the town of Halabja in Iraq during the time of Saddam Hussein. Saddam didn’t poison them personally, now did he? The fundamental problem seems to be that we ordinary beings fail to understand great men of the stature of Hitler, Hussein, Blair, and Bush!

Might is Right!

Now there’s no need for the lawyers amongst you to start talking about the Geneva Convention, or the historians amongst you to recall that similar pleas of “not doing the deed directly” were entered at a place called Nuremburg, but that the accused still swung. We must point out that historians who make such claims have rather selective memories regarding the really important facts of history. The reason why certain persons swung at Nuremburg was because they were guilty, guilty of being on the losing side! You can’t accuse Dear Tone and Dear George of that sin, now can you? You see these two outstanding “Nucembaptists”, exemplars to Christians everywhere, understand the fundamental moral principle that we should all come to terms with: namely, that “might is right”!

The Foreign Adventure

Now, to return to recent UK history. Seeing his popularity fade, Dear Tone thought that a “foreign affair”—with Dear George, of course—was “just the ticket” to divert attention away from his dismal performance on the domestic front. After all, chapter one of that infamous tome How to Survive in Politics is entitled “The Foreign Adventure”.

Even better, as a lawyer, he had a precedent to go by. Once upon a time there was a woman called Maggie: she had “balls”; she fought a war to liberate territory that belonged to Britain; she won the war and received many plaudits for her valiant victory. Now Dear Tone figured that a similar war was just what he needed to boost his popularity. Unfortunately, like the man in the song that he seems so keen on emulating, Dear Tone has “no balls at all”; he fought a war to conquer territory that belonged to someone else; he won the war, lost the peace, and received many two-fingered salutes for his ignominious defeat.

Now if, in your quest for honey, you drive your fist into a hornet’s nest, you—or the citizens of the country who have the mischance to have you as their Prime Minister—are likely to get stung. However, for Dear Tone this fluttering of angry wings has proved somewhat of a godsend. It gives him the opportunity to wage war upon the hornets, a campaign that, once again, helps to divert attention away from his domestic disasters, disasters that grow in number by the day.

The other Siamese Twin

Of course, Dear Gordy has become increasingly anxious that his sharing of a body with this error-prone Puck of a Siamese twin may not augur well. What will happen when the twins are finally separated? What will he see when he gets to look in the mirror for the first time? Will he see a head that wears a crown, or one that bears an uncanny resemblance to Shakespeare’s “Bottom”?

Where a Hornet wears his Sting

In any case, as we were saying, Dear Tone is on the warpath again. And this time his “Oceania” is battling the hornets of “Mideastasia”. And where doth a hornet wear his sting? Not in his tail according to Dear Tone, but in his encrypted file!

Here endeth the history lesson. Now you can see why Dear Tone is targeting all those “villainous” people who possess encrypted files. Next we’ll discuss his “method”, while leaving you, dear reader, to ponder upon his “madness”!

Tiffium & Morphium – Bigus Brutium-Absentium Zonium

Crime and Punishment

The legislation, RIPA Part 3—the dummy consultation exercise—the powers—the penalties—and since the UK government already has similar legislation in place to deal with individuals who are suspected of being terrorists, what information is the UK government really after? ... Masochistium Clickium Hic!

Risible RIPA

Now back in the year 2000 Blair, with the aid of his “yes” men, bulldozed through the British Parliament the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA). But Part 3 of the act was not brought into force at the time. Blair is now engaged in a “consultation” process to see whether any amendments are necessary before bringing Part 3 into effect. We should point out that Blair has a different dictionary from the rest of us; he’s definition of “consult” may be found in more pedestrian dictionaries under headings such as “dupe”, “gull”, “hoodwink”, and “flimflam”.

The essence of Part 3 of the legislation is that it gives the police powers to force individuals to hand over their encryption keys or to force them to decrypt their data.

The Penalties

And what is the penalty for failing to comply with RIPA, Part 3? Under the new legislation you can get two years in prison for not handing over your encryption keys or for failing to decrypt your data.

The Real Reason

Now Blair is pedalling this snake-oil legislation using the “Will Protect you from Terrorists” label, while failing to mention that under current anti-terrorist laws you can get five years in prison for not handing over your encryption keys if Blair thinks you might be a terrorist.

Why then would Blair wish to introduce such draconian legislation to deal with people who aren’t suspected of being terrorists? … Well … Well, of course you just might have some commercial or diplomatic secrets that Blair could use, and if you belong to an opposing political party or to some tiresome pressure group then your correspondence would also make for interesting reading!

So, while it’s quite clear what the “punishment” is, we’ll leave it to you, dear reader, to decide upon who exactly is “the criminal”!

Tiffium & Morphium – Bigus Brutium-Absentium Zonium

Punish the Innocent

Why you need a memory implant—why you must “remember” not to grow old—why the innocent will be imprisoned. ... Masochistium Clickium Hic!

Why the Innocent are Guilty

What does RIPA mean for you in practice. Now operating systems and computer software are increasingly encrypting files by default. So if you buy a standard PC off the shelf at your local computer store, you may well—totally unbeknownst to you—be encrypting files. And what is this “encryption key” that they keep talking about? Well, it’s just what ordinary everyday people call a password. Now, have you ever forgotten a computer password? Yes, we all have. But you’d better get a memory implant, or take some of those smart memory-enhancing drugs, or make sure you never grow old because forgetting your password could cost you two years in the “clink”.

Why the Innocent will be Imprisoned

And don’t think that just because you’re innocent you’ll never be asked to hand over your password or to face imprisonment. When it comes to managerial competence, Blair’s government makes that of a banana republic look positively “Swiss”. Even within the last few days the UK government has admitted that 1500 people have been wrongly identified by the Criminal Records Bureau—and this “error” represents just a drop in the ocean of government maladministration. Now Blair told us that these 1500 falsely accused people don’t matter, since, statistically speaking, the numbers are small in comparison to the total UK population. Doubtless you’ll find it very comforting to reflect upon such uplifting statements when you’re rotting in prison because your name resembled that of some terrorist suspect.

Tiffium & Morphium – Bigus Brutium-Absentium Zonium

Exonerate the Guilty

Encryption that’s impossible to detect—not government naivety, just government mendacity—why RIPA will be a success for the government, but not for the people! ... Masochistium Clickium Hic!

Encryption that’s impossible to detect

Well, as is so often the case in life the guilty will go scot-free. Why? Well, there exist various methods of encrypting data in such a way that no forensic expert will ever be able to determine that the data is encrypted in the first place. Such software is readily available on the Internet, much of it for free. There are at least several million ordinary individuals worldwide who have downloaded and who make use of such software. Your teenage son may well have some installed on his PC. Now if ordinary individuals have access to such software, then you can be sure that organised groups of criminals and terrorists will also have access to it, and, indeed, will have access to even more sophisticated versions.

The availability of such software makes the government’s proposal to force individuals to hand over their encryption keys nothing less than a farce. Anyone who has anything worthwhile to hide will never be asked for his encryption keys since the encrypted files he possesses will never be found by forensic analysis. So the only effect of this legislation will be that some Granny from Greenwich with a touch of Alzheimer’s will get two years in prison because she’s forgotten her password to www.theknittingcircle.com.

The Hidden Purpose

Now it’s not credible to believe that Blair’s government doesn’t know that the proposed legislation will be totally ineffective. Her Majesty's Secret Service will have briefed government ministers on the capabilities of information hiding techniques such as “steganography” and “hidden volumes”. But, as with the case of the Iraq war and the “dodgy dossier”, Blair only wants to hear what he can sell. Fortunately for him, with the aid of a few carefully selected experts of dubious provenance, it is easy to fool the public in general, and parliamentary committees in particular, regarding the need for, and the likely success of, the proposed legislation.

The Success Story

Should RIPA Part 3 come into effect we will doubtless hear of trumped up success stories. Some foolish 16 year old in Bradford will write something incendiary about Blair on his Windows PC using the EFS encryption provided as standard on Windows NTFS filesystem volumes. He’ll be asked to hand over his password. And then some dim-witted chief constable will proclaim that RIPA is a success story. And he will be correct in his assessment. It will have been a success story because the media, blinded by science, will in reporting such stories help to convince a sceptical public that Blair’s government is actually protecting them from terrorists.

Tiffium & Morphium – Bigus Brutium-Absentium Zonium

“No Keys” Campaign

Our objective—the good guys—the bad guys—the people who matter—the various things you can do to help, from the simple to the elaborate—TrueCrypt, the software we’ve selected for this campaign—where you can get it—and why we’ve selected it. ... Masochistium Clickium Hic!

Our Objective

To prevent the draconian measures contained in Part 3 of the RIPA legislation from being implemented by the Blair government.

The Good Guys: Our Reasons

Software programs that are easy to use, that are available on the Internet for free, and that have already been downloaded by millions of people make it possible for data to be encrypted in such a manner that it is undetectable by the analytical techniques available to forensic science. People who use such software will never be caught by the proposed legislation should it be implemented.

Anyone who is strongly motivated to hide his data—which includes all criminals and terrorists—will make use of this type of software. Hence, the legislation won’t work as intended. It doesn’t punish the guilty.

Many PC users are not computer literate. They don’t understand that their computers may already be encrypting data by default, without their knowledge that this is happening. Given the Blair government’s record of maladministration—witness the recent scandal where the Criminal Records Bureau wrongly classified 1500 innocent people as criminals—innocent people will have their homes broken into, their computers seized, and they will then be asked to hand over their passwords so that the authorities can decrypt the data that is present on their computers. Almost everybody forgets passwords from time to time, especially the elderly. The result is that thousands of innocent people will spend up to two years in prison. Hence, the legislation won’t work as intended. It punishes the innocent.

The Bad Guys: Their Reasons

The Blair government has been briefed by the security services and has been informed that the legislation won’t work as intended. This does not disturb the government since it is neither concerned with punishing the guilty, nor with protecting the innocent (note that with regard to the recent CRB scandal the government dismissed the 1500 victims as being “statistically insignificant”). However, what the government is very concerned about is the “spin” that can be generated in the medium term to boost its standing with the public, and thereby prolong the Blair premiership. The government sees the legislation benefiting it by (1) diverting attention away from its many failings; and (2) giving the impression that it is proactive in dealing with crime in general and with terrorism in particular. It calculates that any backlash from the failure of the legislation will take some years to make itself felt, and that by that time Blair along with many of his ministers will no longer be in office.

The People who Matter

To stop legislation at such a late stage requires a major upwelling of public opinion together with a Parliament and a House of Lords that has received impartial advice on its consequences.

For people to be made aware that this legislation is coming and what its consequences will be a major campaign in the national press is required.

Parliament will not receive impartial advice from experts carefully selected by the government to support its own stance. Advice must be sought from independent academics with expertise in the security field, both in the UK and abroad.

What you can do in general

Well you can do the obvious things like writing to your MP and to the press to express your concerns. In particular, you can write to those investigative journalists who might be interested in doing some research into these issues, and who would then present their findings to the public before the legislation is brought into effect.

What you can do in particular

As with all campaigns the most important thing you can do is to grab the media’s attention. The way we suggest you do this is to download some of the very same software that will defeat the act (there is no need to install it). If hundreds of thousands of people did this it would attract media attention and would demonstrate clearly the futility of implementing the legislation.

Some of you might like to install the software, encrypt some material using it, and then offer an open challenge to the government’s forensic experts, one monitored by the media, to determine whether or not you have hidden encrypted material on your computer. For example, in the presence of media representatives you might prepare a number of files, some of them encrypted and some of them not, and then challenge the government’s experts to determine which is which. You can be sure the government would decline the invitation for fear of certain embarrassment, and that demurral, in and of itself, would help to demonstrate the government’s malign and ulterior motives regarding the legislation.

However, the best use that you could make of this software is one that will not only help to defeat RIPA Part 3 but one that will also help to preserve the privacy of future generations, generations that are likely to face far greater intrusions into their privacy than prevail today. To help in this project all you have to do is to use the software to generate some files of random data (you don’t have to encrypt any material, and it’s all explained very clearly in the accompanying documentation). Give these files any names you like and place them anywhere on your computer. Email some of them to your friends, and get your friends to create some files of random data and email their files to you. You could even set up a web site or a newsgroup that allows anyone in the world to post and download files of random data. Now, admittedly, this is not a very glamorous activity. But these files are like the straws that make a haystack. And within this haystack can be hidden the needles whose occasional pricks remind those who govern us that their common, allotted task is to serve the people and not themselves.

The Software and where to get it

There are many software programs that could be used to defeat Part 3 of the RIPA legislation. We have selected just one program. It’s called TrueCrypt. Over a million copies have already been downloaded worldwide, a statistic which should in itself demonstrate the impotence of the government’s proposals.

Download TrueCrypt

Go to web address www.truecrypt.org.

Click on the menu item called “Downloads”.

A page will be displayed containing two download links, the first for the Windows operating system, the second for the linux operating system. Click on the “Download” button corresponding to the appropriate link.

When a pop-up window appears, select “Save”, select the folder to which you want to save the downloaded file, and then click on the “Save” button. And that’s it.

Why we selected TrueCrypt

TrueCrypt provides an “aleatory” defence against RIPA, and, indeed, against any similar legislation. This defence works because TrueCrypt makes encrypted material indistinguishable from pseudo-random data. And before the authorities can insist that you hand over an encryption key, they would first be obliged to prove to the satisfaction of a court that you were in possession of encrypted material. Depending on how TrueCrypt is set up it might be obvious that you have some pseudo-random data in an atypical location on your computer, and you might well be asked how it got there. Now, there are many computer processes that produce pseudo-random data, and you are not obliged by the legislation to account for the origins of every file on your computer that contains such data—given the tens of thousands of files on the average PC this would be an impossible task. However, TrueCrypt can also provide you with an excellent and highly plausible reason as to why you possess such a file of pseudo-random data irrespective of where it is found.

The first reason we selected TrueCrypt is that its functionality illustrates very well the inefficacy of the proposed legislation.

The second reason is that even if you are not concerned about the government prying into your personal affairs, then you may well be concerned about other people doing so, either because they may gain physical access to your computer, or because you may, by accident, download some spyware from the Internet. TrueCrypt can protect you from both these hazards, which is, in itself, a good reason to download and install it.

The third reason is that if the legislation is passed and you are a whistleblower, a member of an opposition party, or a member of some political pressure group, then you may well wish to keep your future plans hidden from the government. With TrueCrypt you can do this with elegance and with ease.

Tiffium & Morphium – Bigus Brutium-Absentium Zonium

E-Gold: Don’t verify your Client

No one pries into your personal affairs—no one fingers your driving licence and passport—no one rings you at home in the middle of the night—and that’s the way it should be! ... Masochistium Clickium Hic!

One of the nice features about e-gold is that there’s no need to go through the tedious and extensive verification procedures required when opening a bank account. True, you’re asked to provide some personal details, but these details are not verified. No busy-body runs around prying into your personal affairs, insists that you to come in for an interview, fingers your driving licence and passport, and rings you at home in the middle of the night to verify that you live at the designated address.

Since e-gold doesn’t loan you any money and all transactions are irrevocable—they cannot be reversed—“who you are” doesn’t matter. And that’s the way it should be!

Tiffium & Morphium – Bigus Brutium-Absentium Zonium

Scams: A Known Quantity

Why, when scouring search lists, it’s sometimes good to dig deep—why the Law of Large Numbers might come to your rescue—and should you trust the new boy on the block? ... Masochistium Clickium Hic!

What do the People say?

Before committing yourself to a product or service offered by a particular site do a little amateur sleuthing. Go to Google and make a search on the name of the site in question. Now, of course, the same name is often associated with different products and services, so check a random sample of the search hits to see whether most of them refer to the product or service that’s of interest. If a high percentage do that’s fine. If not, then add some additional terms to your search string to disambiguate the products and services, and eliminate those that are not relevant.

To get a fair cross-section of opinion take, say, five hits from the top of the search list, five hits from towards the end of the search list, and five hits from somewhere in the middle of the search list. Have a quick read and see what all these good folks have got to say about the web site in question. Hits at the top of the search list may be the most informative, but they often represent the views of Big Brother and Big Business. On the other hand, hits that are lower down usually represent the views of Joe Bloggs (T: while Flo Slogs).

The Law of Large Numbers

“Yes! I know this site”. Now, if one person says it that's not much to go on. But, if a million people say so...well, then you're getting somewhere. As the number of people who comment on a site gets larger, then a certain consensus often begins to emerge, a consensus that frequently bears some resemblance to the truth. In short, if a large number of people have come to the same conclusion regarding a site, then that common, collective conclusion is probably right.

How well known are the privacy products that are likely to be of interest. Well, let’s take Google and look up the number of hits returned for a range of privacy products (plus some global brands by way of comparison):

Product Total Hits
  Google 2,230,000,000  
  Microsoft 2,150,000,000  
  Amazon 914,000,000  
  Intel 513,000,000  
  Firefox 404,000,000  
  Thunderbird 66,500,000  
  e-gold 7,820,000  
  Stunnel 1,090,000  
  Tor 586,000  
  Sockscap 182,000  
  Pecunix 138,000  
  1mdc 64,900  
  Quicksilver 15,300  
  Freecap 17,600  
  Torcap 60  

Hits obtained using Google

Clearly, with the exception of “Torcap”, these are all well-known brands. They are sufficiently widely used to get a representative cross-section of opinion regarding the merits and demerits of the products in question.

A New Boy on the Block?

But how many hits is enough? Well, once they reach the tens of thousands then the world certainly has had enough experience with the product to come to a useful conclusion. If the number of hits is small—in the hundreds or low thousands—then try to determine how long the site has been around. If it’s a “new boy on the block” then the jury is still out.

If the site is not recent, then clearly the world at large has not taken a shine to the product. That means either the product is not worthwhile, or else it’s directed at a very specialised audience. To decide which of these categories it belongs to have a look at the number of hits generated by searches for similar products; if they’re all of the same order, then the product falls into the “very specialised audience” category.

Tiffium & Morphium – Bigus Brutium-Absentium Zonium

Job Advert: Competent Tester?
Pecunix needs You!

If you’ve ever rolled your eyes heavenwards when confronted by some poorly-tested website then you’ll enjoy this—is life too short for you too?—what you must accept from strangers—the little blue number from hell—e-currency for psychics—Confucius, he say. ... Masochistium Clickium Hic!

Meet Luigi

M: Well, it’s not. Not a real advert that is. Which is a pity. We can’t help but feel that there is something of the “Italian motor” about the Pecunix web site: it looks good in the showroom, but it falls apart when road tested!

Picture a person with an interest in procuring e-currency, but with no interest in what lies underneath the bonnet of his browser. Well, that’s our friend Luigi to a tee (he’s also a little short-tempered, so if you’re offended by expletives read no further). He was curious about e-currencies, so we gave him the web site addresses of a few e-currency issuers. Let’s eavesdrop on his thoughts:

Pecunix! Pecunix! Sounds-a nice. Let’s-a set up a Pecunix account: www.pecunix.com. … It says-a press “Open” and then “Next Step” to create account. Easy peasy! … It says-a read terms and conditions then press “I Accept”. … Well … Ah! Life, it’s-a short. Let’s just-a press “I Accept”.

Terms & Conditions

T: Now and then you do hear about the existence of people who read the T&Cs on websites, but like most urban myths, the person who tells you about this strange, aberrant, and deviant behaviour has never witnessed it for himself. When he’s pressed, it always turns out to be “a friend of a friend”. Now, of course, Morpheus and I do read these things, but only on your behalf. They’re so abysmally boring! A speech by Billy-Boy seems positively riveting, by comparison.

Now, another easy to understand screen. Enter-a password. Enter-a again to confirm. Enter-a email address. Press-a “Next Step”.

Bugger-a! Back at the T&Cs screen again. … Guess I-a must-a mistyped the password on repeat. Can’t-a tell since they’re all asterisks. Here-a we go again. Just entered the password for second time. I was-a very careful this time. Should-a be alright now.

Shit-a! Shit-a! Shit-a! Back at the T&Cs screen again.

What you must accept from Strangers!

M: And so it goes on. Luigi, our poor, would-be Pecunixie tries strategy after strategy to scale the Himalayas of the Pecunix password screen. Shall we tell Luigi what’s gone wrong. Well, his browser does not have cookies enabled, very common in these security conscious days. Now Pecunix needs cookies enabled in order to progress beyond the password entry screen. Nothing terribly wrong with that you might say. Why Pecunix shares this requirement in common with many other sites. However, what it does not share in common with many other sites is its disinclination to tell the poor frustrated user that the reason why he cannot progress any further is because he is doing what … “My mama said to me”. Try logging into www.yahoo.com without cookies enabled, for example, and you’ll be told the nature of your sin, so that you can repent, and seek forgiveness! So what did our gold digger have to say when we explained all this:

Them Bastards! Bastards! Bloody-a bastards! I-a spend hour typing in-a password after password and now yus-a telling me it has nothing to do with passwords!

T: I’ve just thought of a suitable advertisement for Pecunix:

No hacker will ever break into a Pecunix account! … Why? … Because no would-be user will ever be able to create one!

The Little Blue Number from Hell!

M: Well, we showed Luigi how to enable cookies in his browser. So, a little disgruntled to say the least, Luigi is now making a second attempt to scale the towering fortress of the Pecunix account creation process. Success! He’s got past the password screen this time. Let’s listen in again:

Ha! Now it’s-a personal info screen. Easy! And to finish off I just-a click on the button with-a number that’s same as da blue number in da little box. Click! … Now that was-a not so bad. … Hmm! … Browser’s-a slow … Browser’s-a very slow.

Oh! Bugger-a! Bugger-a! It says-a “Done” down in left-hand corner. But it’s-a done nothing. … Maybe I-a click on wrong number. Try again.

Ah! Shit-a! Still nothing. … Maybe I misread number. It sure look-a like a “four”. I-a know, I’ll-a cancel the login process and start again. Get a different number next time.

Some minutes later Luigi has once again reached the personal info screen:

Ah! It’s-a clearly a two. Can’t-a be anything but a two. Click!

Oh! Shit-a! Shit-a! Shit-a! Still-a no bloody response! … Maybe-a my computer it’s-a locked up. Bloody-a hell! Let’s-a reboot and-a start from scratch.

Some more minutes later, bruised and battered by the climb, our hero has fought his way once again through to the personal info screen:

I-a so tired of typing in the same data, again-a, and again-a, and again. Click!

No! No! No! Sweet-a …

We regret to inform you, dear reader, that we’ve had to expurgate what followed in order to preserve the blushes of our most generous sponsor, Miss Prune of Pune.

E-Currency for Psychics

Well, shall we put Luigi out of his misery and explain what’s gone wrong? Unfortunately, clicking on the button corresponding to the blue number in that little box didn’t do anything because Luigi did not have Javascript enabled in his browser. When we explained:

Well, if I-a need to have this-a Javascript thing enabled in-a my browser why the bloody hell they-a not tell me? Why they-a let me sit here thinking that-a something else is-a wrong?

Well, why indeed! Many web sites need to have Javascript enabled, and most programmers—clearly possessed of a foresight not to be found in Pecunixie land—anticipate that Javascript might not be enabled, test for it, and inform the poor user when it is needed and missing—for example, try logging into www.hushmail.com without Javascript enabled and you’re told immediately what you must do to enter through its pearly gates!

Now, to be fair to Pecunix, they do mention the need for Javascript if—as a result of divine intervention—you do actually succeed in creating an account. Of course, Pecunix may well claim that worrying about the order in a case such as this is merely a tiresome quibble. Nonetheless, we feel bold enough to suggest that this does seem a little like putting the cart before the horse, and, moreover, that it would be good for business if Pecunix constructed its web site so as to assist users with disabilities—namely, those who do not possess the power of precognition.

A Moral to the Story

We did explain to Luigi how to enable Javascript in his browser, but he wasn’t really listening. And by the time we had finished our explanation he had already set up a new e-gold account—without enabling Javascript—and was well on his way to becoming a loyal, satisfied, and life-long e-gold customer.

We think there’s a moral to this story. Confucius, he say:

If market share much less than that of e-gold, wise e-currency issuer not make strenuous effort to drive away new business!

Tiffium & Morphium – Bigus Brutium-Absentium Zonium

Geekshonary: Ageek—Billy-Boy

On not being a geek—on the badly behaved child—on a curious combination of affection and condescension. ... Masochistium Clickium Hic!

Ageek—Pay attention: this does not refer to someone who is “a geek”, but to someone who is not a “geek”.

Bad Boy Billy (BBB)—When used as a noun, a bug in the Microsoft Windows operating system that causes your application to crash. When used as an expletive, what you say when a bug in the Microsoft Windows operating system causes your application to crash. The usage is restricted to those occasions when you haven’t lost any data and can easily resume work by just restarting the crashed application, thereby making invective of a more venomous nature unjustified. It’s a little like the fond ticking off you give to a badly behaved child who just will not do what he’s told—in this case, a child who bloats the operating system with functionality no one needs, while refusing to fix the bugs that everyone encounters!

Billy-Boy—A term that refers to Bill Gates, and evinces a curious combination of affection and condescension, all rolled into one. Don’t take it to heart William; you know how people are; they’re just envious of your fame and fortune!

Tiffium & Morphium – Bigus Brutium-Absentium Zonium

E-Gold: Charges

No charge to open an account—a small annual charge on the contents of your piggy-bank—no commission to transfer your gold to someone else—and a very low commission when someone else transfers his gold to you, though you’ll need a Ph.D. in mathematics to figure out what it is—all in all, it’s as “good as gold” ... Masochistium Clickium Hic!

Account Maintenance Charge

It costs you nothing to open an e-gold account.

It costs you nothing to maintain an e-gold account if you have no funds in it. If you leave some gold in your account, then you’ll be charged at a rate of 1% per annum (the charge, in gold, is deducted monthly, and is calculated on the average daily balance of the gold in your account).

It costs you nothing to transfer some of your e-gold from your e-gold account to someone else’s e-gold account.

Spend Fees

If someone transfers some e-gold into your account then you’re charged a small commission depending on the size of the transfer. As with the annual maintenance charge, the commission is charged in gold, rather than in any particular national currency.

On its home page e-gold waxes lyrical about how low its fees are, but when you, as a prospective e-gold user, click on the “fees” link to see what the fees actually are then you’re greeted by the following table:

  e-gold Spends   Price Formula  
  >=  <  
     
  AUG 0.0004  AUG 0.1   5% + AUG 0.0002  
  AUG 0.1  AUG 0.5   1.25% + AUG 0.00375q  
  AUG 0.5  AUG 1   AUG 0.01  
  AUG 1  AUG 5   1%  
  AUG 5   AUG 0.05  

We showed it to JG, who—when he had stopped laughing—said:

One thing’s for sure, e-gold doesn’t have anything that would pass for a marketing department. Do they really think that every Internet user who might be interested in a “low-fee” e-currency account knows what “>=” and “<” means? What is this “q” at the end of “0.00375q”? Does anyone at e-gold read the web pages they publish? And do they really expect the average punter to look up the price of gold in his own national currency, get out a calculator, and then translate this table into something other than gibberish?

If they had even an “ounce”, nay a “gram”, of common sense, then they would have provided a facility where the punter could see what this table looks like in his own national currency based on the current gold price. Plus a “spend fees” calculator. Two boxes: one where the punter types in the amount of his proposed spend, and one where he selects his national currency. Then he presses a button and he’s shown what the actual spend fee is. The message this table shouts out loud and clear is that “E-gold is complicated financial stuff. If you set up an e-gold account then you’re sure to be besieged with more stuff like this that you won’t understand. Best to take your business elsewhere.”

Well, JG’s first axiom of marketing is don’t make things any more complicated for your customer than they have to be. And we must agree. E-gold is selling itself short here, by hiding the “light” of its low spend fees under a “bushel” of AUGs. If you’d like e-gold to implement JG’s suggestions, then its derrière can be kicked at:

In simple terms, using typical gold prices: for piddling little spends—that you couldn’t give a toss about—the spend fee is 5%; for real-world spends below $100 it’s in the range (1-2)%, and for spends above $100 it’s a flat $1.

E-currency Price Tiering

As you can see from our summary, e-gold’s price tiering is unnecessarily convoluted, and achieves nothing other than to give the impression to a prospective user that using e-gold is far more complicated than it actually is in practice. Irrevocable transactions carry a fixed cost to the e-currency issuer irrespective of transaction size, and therefore you can expect an issuer to try to adjust its price tiering to recover this cost—plus an element of profit—across the transaction value range. A bottom tier with a comparatively high charge is necessary for the micropayments region—below $2 in e-gold’s estimation. A flat charge is needed for high value transactions—above $100 in e-gold’s estimation. But, for medium value transactions a single tier is sufficient, in stark contrast to e-gold’s three tiers, which exhibit very similar percentage charges.

Conclusion

Despite e-gold’s unwitting attempts to hide its spend fees from its prospective users, the news on this front, as with the annual maintenance charge, is good news. As with the other e-currency issuers, running the e-gold system costs relatively little compared to running a credit card system, and that’s reflected in the low transaction charges paid by you, the e-gold account user.

Tiffium & Morphium – Bigus Brutium-Absentium Zonium

Scams: Idle Thoughts

The “shower scene”: just as scary as the original, but for a different reason—liquid plant food on the 55th floor— “phishing” at www.egoldielocks.com—on the perils of being coney-cozened. ... Masochistium Clickium Hic!

With wonderful expression!

T: I crept into the bathroom this morning, just as Morpheus was taking a shower. ... Hmm! ... Nice! However, I should hasten to add that this blog contains no sexually explicit material whatsoever. Sorry, Mr. Mackintosh! Now that I've lost ninety percent of my audience, let me continue for the benefit of those few sexually fulfilled souls that remain.

Well, Morpheus was singing to himself. Remember B.S. and that song? If you do then just sing along to the variant that Morpheus was crooning:

Where is Advice?

“Isn’t it great,
Such a low price!
But, is it a scam?
Me to entice!

Where is advice?
Oh! Where is advice?
Advice, it is here!”

Now, I sneakily made a recording. My intention was to post it to this blog by way of retribution for a certain remark made by a certain person regarding a certain item of apparel! But I don’t wish to inflict upon you “cruel and unusual punishment”—Morpheus’ talents as a singer/songwriter are on a par with Dear George’s mastery of the English language! So I’ve thought the better of it!

M: Ha! I see that Tiffs has already started this blog entry without me. … Hmm! … Well, if I might adapt Algernon to the occasion: “I don’t sing accurately—any one can sing accurately—but I sing with wonderful expression. As far as singing is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life.” Now Tiffs, I’m sure that had our readers downloaded your MP3 they would not have forgotten us in a hurry.

T: I agree! The trouble is that whilst our readers would not have forgotten us, what they’re likely to have remembered is never again to visit us!

Is it a Scam?

M: Enough frivolity! We thought, dear reader, we might blog a little over the next few weeks about scams. How can you tell if a site is operating a scam? Now suppose you want to track down a source of liquid plant feed to encourage those beautiful roses to climb over the arch that dangles outside your window on the 55th floor of a tower block in the smog filled city of “Grownot”. So you search Google for gardening sites. Now the chances are that every site you examine will be genuine, the real McCoy—for some reason scammers don’t seem to have green-fingers!

But if you decide to search for a privacy product or service—particularly a financial product or service—then you won’t have to look too far down your list of hits before you come across a site that’s operating a scam, or is, at least, being somewhat economical with the truth regarding the product or service on offer. So, in trying to prevent the ordinary everyday scams you are at a greater risk than usual of being scammed—so be warned!

Perhaps, you’ve got a web site address from somewhere. Maybe you came across it whilst peeking at the contents of the spam in your inbox—naughty, naughty! Maybe the web address is a recommendation from a friend. Or, maybe someone was singing it’s praises on some message board. But is it the genuine article? Maybe someone is just “phishing” for your personal details?

Suppose, for example, that the address you’ve got is www.egoldielocks.com. Now, you’ve heard about e-currency and you’ve heard that Egoldielocks is a reputable e-currency issuer. So you go to the site; you sign up for an account; and you deposit some gold into that account. But, then you discover a few days later that someone—unbeknownst to you—has withdrawn that which you put in. You’ve been had! A little detective work reveals that the site you thought you were visiting is actually called www.e-goldielocks.com and not www.egoldielocks.com.

Now, how can you avoid making this kind of mistake? How can you avoid being scammed, fleeced, flimflammed, hoodwinked, hornswoggled, coney-cozened, led up the garden path on route to the cleaners?

Tiffium & Morphium – Bigus Brutium-Absentium Zonium

E-Gold: My first E-currency Account

Why, when it comes to e-currency, e-gold is a very good place to start—why charity begins at home—why we’re feeling a little guilty—want a link to a site that specializes in Russian dolls…ouch!…the kind that wrap themselves around one another in what the Prof thinks is a very “sexy” manner? ... Masochistium Clickium Hic!

Your very own Bar of Gold?

T: Owning some e-gold is much the same as owning some real gold: imagine that there in a dark and silent vault, protected by a vast array of security devices, gleams a bar of gold with your name on it. Or, to be more precise, imagine that there on some computer hard disk, protected by a vast array of security devices, sits an account entry which states that you are entitled to a certain fraction of a gold bar—perhaps not so romantic, but that’s life!

Why e-gold?

M: But why choose e-gold for your first adventure into the realm of e-currencies? Well, e-gold is the most widely used e-currency at present. So, since it’s not much fun having e-currency you can’t spend on something you want to spend it on, we suggest you start off with an e-gold account (sorry 1mdc and Pecunix; but, despair not, for we shall sing your respective praises in due course).

Giving will make you feel better!

M: Now, the vice-like grip around my neck brings to mind another minor consideration, a truly trifling one, as to why we’re…I’m…suggesting you start off with an e-gold account. You see if you don’t have an e-gold account then you will lack the means to make charitable donations to truly deserving causes…such as…such as…such as…


Now, we can’t impress upon you enough that giving will make you feel better, and, what’s even more important, your giving will make us feel better too—clearly a win-win situation! Mad we may be, but it’s madness with some method to it!

The Greater Good!

T: However, hands on hearts, we feel obliged to inform you that there exist charitable causes more worthy than our own, such as…

M: Since we make use of Tor, but haven’t the bandwidth to run a Tor server, we feel a little guilty—not a lot, but enough to plug Tor every now and then. You see the angelic beings who run the Tor Project have created the world’s best software for discreet, inconspicuous Internet browsing—software that is open-source and free! And assisted by hundreds of worthy souls who run this software on their web servers all around the world, the Tor Project has created the world’s most anonymous chain of proxy servers.

Got any spare Bandwidth?

M: The problem with Tor is that its hundreds of thousands of users take more bandwidth from the service than they contribute bandwidth to the service, so at times the response time of Tor makes the alacrity and dispatch of a standard 56k modem look like the “Road Runner” by way of comparison! So, if you’ve got a web server with some spare bandwidth then please contribute.

Read all about it

T: So, once you’ve set up and funded your e-gold account your first donation should go to Tor! If you want to know the details of why Tor is the best thing since “sliced bread”, or if you want to download a free copy, then go to…

Tiffium & Morphium – Bigus Brutium-Absentium Zonium

E-Currency: Opening an e-gold Account

How to open and fund an e-gold account—no pusillanimous puns or irritating innuendo here—just plain old fashioned information—so don’t fall asleep—if you’re a merchant and offer e-gold as a payment method, then feel free to link to this “how to” page, or, if you prefer, copy and modify it for use on your own site. ... Masochistium Clickium Hic!

Mandatory Account Items

To open an e-gold account you’ll need to enter values for the following mandatory items:

  • Account Name
  • User Name
  • Name
  • Address Details
  • Telephone Number
  • Email Address
  • Passphrase [main]
  • Alternate Passphrase

The “Account Name” is specified by you. It’s the name displayed, by way of confirmation, when someone makes a payment into your e-gold account. The “User Name” is also specified by you. It’s the name used by e-gold for accounting purposes.

The “Name”, “Address Details”, Telephone Number”, and “Email Address” items represent the standard personal details requested during most account creation processes. At present, e-gold makes no attempt to ascertain the veracity of the information entered.

Each of the two passphrases must contain at least six characters, must contain at least one letter, and must contain at least one digit.

It is advisable to create your e-gold account on a computer that is adequately protected by a firewall and that has recently been swept using an anti-virus / anti-spyware software suite.

Opening an Account

Procedure

Navigate to the e-gold home page using the following link:

On the home page, in the upper left-hand corner, you’ll find a menu item entitled “Create An Account”.

Click on it and you’ll be taken to the “User Agreement” page. If the terms and conditions are acceptable, then click on the button labelled “I AGREE”.

The “Account Creation Form” will be displayed. Confirm that you have a secure link to the e-gold site before proceeding (the “gold padlock” icon should be displayed by your browser, and the web site address that appears in your browser’s address bar should begin with “https”).

Enter the information requested on the “Account Creation Form”.

Press the button labelled “Open” to complete the account creation process.

An email containing your e-gold account number will be send to the e-mail address you specified on the “Account Creation Form”.

Notes

Only the items listed in the previous section are mandatory.

Take special care to enter the e-mail address correctly (an error made in entering any other item can be corrected later from within your e-gold account).

Using the button marked “SRK” to enter the passphrase is optional. Moreover, this button will be disabled if your browser has been correctly configured to protect your anonymity. Instead, you can type the passphrase directly into the designated fields. Ensure that the passphrase is not being covertly recorded: (1) By someone filming the keypresses you make whilst typing in the passphrase (for example, using a picture-phone with video capture functionality); or (2) By spyware present on the computer you are using.

Accessing your Account

To access your e-gold account, go to the e-gold home page (see link above). Select the menu item “Access Your Account” in the upper left-hand corner. Then enter your e-gold account number and passphrase when requested.

Funding your Account

An e-gold account is similar in terms of the way it operates to a foreign currency bank account (though it operates within a different legislative framework).

To fund your e-gold account you will need to use the services of one of the many market makers who will sell you e-gold for fiat currencies—such as dollars, euros, or pounds—in return for a commission. The same market makers will also purchase your e-gold and pay you in the fiat currency of your choice should you wish to sell your e-gold at some future date.

Many different payment methods are available: bank wires, cash, certified checks, credit cards, electronic transfers, IBAN, MoneyGram, money orders, postal orders, Swift, and Western Union.

For a list of web sites offering e-gold exchange facilities follow this link:

Tiffium & Morphium – Bigus Brutium-Absentium Zonium

Privacy: A Pain in the Derrière

On the size of the mountain you’re just about to climb—why you should be thankful to “A Man and his Dog”—why even if you don’t end up working on a “chain gang”, you’ll still end up working with the product of their “hard labour”—why you shouldn’t trust us! ... Masochistium Clickium Hic!

Climb every Mountain

Now, we don’t want to put you off before you even get started, and certainly if you’re a Mr. Boodie then a private life will not prove so elusive and you can stop reading at this point—before you make yourself feel quite unwell!

But if you’re a Herr Blooer or a Ms. Dent and you’re starting from scratch then expect to spend about six months getting to understand the concepts, searching for potential products and services, and then testing that your selected privacy solution works as intended, and is not just providing yet another live-feed into Big Brother’s ever-growing database.

From “A Man and his Dog”

Now wouldn’t it be nice if you could buy a computer appropriately configured with all the software you needed to maintain your privacy. Unfortunately, the software developed by large corporations—who just might package everything together for you—is usually suspect, to say the very least. Instead, the software you’ll need invariably comes from small teams and from “one man and his dog” outfits. It comes from people who do not get paid or who rely on donations. And it always comes from people who have more to do than time to do it in. The result is usually software that gets tested on a limited range of platforms—and Murphy’s Law dictates that the platform you want to use was not among them! To add to your woes, the software is likely to be accompanied by rather inscrutable documentation that is not intended to endear itself to a newcomer—especially to a newcomer who’s in a hurry.

Working with the “Chain Gang”

Invariably you’ll find that effective privacy solutions consist of a long chain of software programs, each of which was written by a different person. Nonetheless, each must receive information from its predecessor and pass it along the chain of command to its successor according to standards that may only be partly implemented. Your lack of knowledge as to what’s likely to have gone wrong together with a lack of documentation or log files telling you what actually has gone wrong can result in weeks of frustration as you try countless re-installs and different parameter combinations, with the ever-diminishing expectation than one day it will all work. And what’s even more galling is that you’ll find endless postings on the web by people who got it to work the first time around with no bother!

Why you can’t trust us!

We’ll do our best to help, but if privacy is important then you’d be unwise just to do what we tell you to do. For a start without understanding the issues and reading around the subject you won’t know whether the advice we offer is good advice or not. What if this site is a Big Brother sting set up to gain your confidence and then direct you towards compromised software that contains a backdoor? Just because a site has an anti-Big Brother flavour to it doesn’t mean that its authors have your best interests at heart: it could be a sting, it could be a scam, or it could be some business whose strengths lie in marketing rather than in software development.

There’s many a Slip…

However, the main reason why you should take the long road around and understand the issues is that it is very, very easy to set up a privacy solution that doesn’t work. You may find that the software you purchased adequately protects one aspect of your privacy while leaving you completely open on some other front—something that the vendor of the software failed to mention, or was not even aware of.

It’s very, very easy to set up software than appears to work correctly but which is actually leaking information about your activities to your ISP, and hence to Big Brother.

It’s also very, very easy for software that was once set-up correctly to get reset or disabled when you install or upgrade some other software product. So, above all else, you need to be confident that you know how to test that your privacy solution is working correctly—and you need to remember to repeat that test every time before you use it!

Tiffium & Morphium – Bigus Brutium-Absentium Zonium

I Tor to Tiffany! Do You?

T: What is Tor? Well, if you want to browse the Internet without every click being recorded by Big Brother and Big Business you’ll need an anonymous chain of proxy servers. And amongst anonymous chains of proxy servers Tor is the “bee’s-knees”. It’s free and open-source, and you’ll find it right here! At present the Tor network contains a few hundred servers. We’d like to see a few million, each of them running an upgraded and completely distributed version of the Tor software.

M: But to achieve this noble objective we need to sell the benefits of Tor to potential sponsors and to those “sys admins” who have server bandwidth to spare. Now, when you want to sell something you consult a marketing guru. So we consulted JG. We don’t take to marketing people in general, but JG is one of the rarest of mortal beings, a “tame” marketer—one who asks the people what they would like to buy, rather than asking Big Business what it would like to sell!

JG’s Tor Strategy

First, you’ve got to inform the world that this thing called Tor exists. And then you’ve got to persuade the world that this thing called Tor is “fun”, is “me”, is “cool”.

Forget the human rights and “nanny” state angle: your average punter doesn’t want to hear about anything unpleasant; and should circumstances finally force him to think about it, then it’ll already be “fait accompli”. Taking care of “a stitch in time” is not one of humanity’s strong points. So just ensure you make Tor “fashionable” and “fun”.

Forget about trying to gain sponsorship based on “benefit to society” arguments. You can approach the corporate sponsors who have funds and appeal to their “better natures”; but that won’t work: corporations have “bottom lines”, not “better natures”. You can approach the “concerned organizations” who have “better natures” and appeal for their funds; but that won’t work: sponsors are organizations who make profits, not organizations who have principles.

But, if a corporate sponsor can associate his business with what the world at large “approves of” then his profits will grow. So, just enthuse the people, and sponsors will materialize magically, like mushrooms on an autumn morn’.

Ah! You can tell that JG knows his apples from his onions! So, how to put these wise words into practice? Well, how about an “I-Tor-To” campaign? Whenever you send an email or post to a news group just put an “I Tor to X! Do you?” or an “I Tor to X and Y! Do you?” in the signature line, where “X” and “Y” are your favourite sites. But make “Tor”, “X”, and “Y” into hyperlinks pointing to their respective sites.

Now, if even a modest proportion of the several hundred thousand Tor users did this, the world would soon know all about Tor. And assuming that we generally correspond with people who like what we like—the Prof informs us that from a mathematical point of view the relationship “to like” is frequently associative—then soon the whole world would like Tor too—how’s that JG, do I have a future in marketing? … Ouch! … Clearly, Tiffs thinks not!

Cutting Some Code

For those of you who don’t understand all this hyperlink business, here’s how. If, for example, you like Tiffany—and who wouldn’t—then you might sign that email or newsgroup post with a:

A.N. Other
I Tor to Tiffany! Do you?

using the following code:

A.N. Other<br>
I <a href="http://tor.eff.org/">Tor</a> to <a href="http://www.nearlyperfectprivacy.blogspot.com/">Tiffany</a>! Do you?

or, if you can’t use HTML, then:

A.N. Other
I Tor (http://tor.eff.org/) to Tiffany (http://www.nearlyperfectprivacy.blogspot.com/)! Do you?

Just cut and paste the code fragment above, replacing “Tiffany” and our web address with the name and web address of your choice; or, if you’re feeling really lazy, just use it “as is”—“she” won’t mind!

So, how about it folks: I Tor to Tiffany! Do you?

Tiffium & Morphium – Bigus Brutium-Absentium Zonium