The Northern Spy: high and low perceptions of technology
TweetFollow Us on Twitter

The Northern Spy: high and low perceptions of technology

By Rick Sutcliffe

High and low perceptions of technology are relative to an individual's “normal.” Just now, the Spy has finished his annual task of pressure washing the house, then putting some water on the squash and cucumber patch.

To someone living in Western society, small engine machines like pressure washers, string trimmers, generators, chain saws, lawn mowers and tractors are low technology--even to a city slicker who may not have heard of, much less used, any of these. Seen in use, all would be obvious and not particularly exciting--except perhaps to three-year-old grandson Gregory who would as, “But how does it work, Grandpa?"

Someone transported from a third world city slum would have less context, and might marvel, but to an Amazon jungle dweller, all would seem indistinguishable from magic--no concept of electricity or tap water, much less of the internal combustion engine, vinyl siding, or lawns. He or she might do well with a bow, however, even understand the utility of a crossbow. But driverless cars? What's a car? Instant messaging? What's that and why do you want to do it? Facebook? What's a book?

Computers, robots, nuclear energy, and space travel were science fiction before WWII, and are now taken for granted. When the Spy first discussed the PIEA (Personal Intelligence Enhancement Appliance) in this space decades ago, his universal database access and communications tool — complete with ear, eye, and throat implants — was dismissed by some as fanciful dreaming.

But the iPhone and its imitators have taken us partway there, and the remaining pieces are coming. Keep in mind, though, that glasses for virtual reality or incorporating a computer monitor screen are baby steps. These interface functions will eventually be built-in to contacts or replacement eye lenses. A throat mic and wireless ear bud would complete the interface.

'Course that combination too is but a step along the way to a direct brain implant/interface. Who needs to press buttons to find the tangent of twenty-two decimal four eight radians to forty decimal places when the very thought triggers the implanted MPU and the answer appears in both biological memory and simulated eyesight (no special lens needed.) Read my novels.

Hacker attacks become more common and more debilitating as time goes by, and the black hats' technological know-how catches up to or surpasses that of the white and grey hats'. Just as in the 19770s, the Spy thought it futile to copy protect disks because anything that could be loaded into a computer in the clear could be read and disassembled in the clear; now file and message encryption offers more value to the bad guys than to the upright citizen.

See, another of the Spy’s old predictions was that we will gradually have to get used to the idea that privacy is becoming extinct. Anything that can be encrypted can be decrypted--and quantum computing at least (even if not some lower the first) will render decryption a trivial task. Anything that can be recorded, entered in a database, or sent as a message can be read. (Mail is not private.) On the one hand, little sister will be able to see what big brother is doing, and OTOH, nothing little brother does will be hidden from anyone else. Get used to it.

But returning to the stated topic, how do we protect ourselves from vandals who deface websites, steal identities, slander us to the online public, or put their stick electronic fingers into the folds of our virtual wallets?

In the long run, the Spy suspects we cannot. Just as giving an junkie free drugs and "safe" injections never permanently reduces but only postpones potentially fatal harm (and likewise giving power to people who abuse authority results in them abusing it even more when they think they have it), so the only real solutions are to change the person's habits, so also in the long run, changing vandals' behaviour is the only reasonable goal.

But since Western "liberal" society has long eschewed the idea of a universally applicable morality, "doing the right thing" and "not doing the wrong thing" has come to have little meaning for most people, except when framed as pleasure or monetary self-interest. What to do?
Some immediate low-tech defensive responses are easy. Hang up on the phisher whose robocall begins "Our records show you have not updated your free Google account" or the heavily accented human voice whose spiel begins "This is the technical department. Your Windows machine needs…", "or "Your granddaughter was arrested during her European trip and needs bail money...".

Junk and use your server control panel to permanently block unknown and unsolicited senders of mail that purport to offer products or services online, or that want to renew your domains or hosting, but are not from your provider, accept attachments only when you have asked for them (or not at all), and keep image and remote content display in email turned off.

Never surf the dark web. Its sites can be counted on to be infected with malware. Hacked? Anyone's web site can be hacked once, but if it happens twice change hosts because yours is not learning.

In other words, in the short term, we and our Internet providers need to be more defensive--employ firewalls, harden servers, be more deliberate about password security, collect, distribute, and ban the addresses of vandals from our servers, use Cloud Linux to isolate accounts on shared servers, accept mail only from addresses with a valid reverse DNS record, and...well, the list is a long one.

In the longer term, all this is insufficient. There are high-tech ways to crack into almost anything, as some of the more sophisticated recent attacks have clearly shown. Lacking much concern about the next life's consequences, society needs to define and deploy powerful disincentives in this life to deter vandals.

A central clearing house of personal information on phishing attempts with sufficiently detailed information on company and individual perpetrators and a total ban on their Internet use might serve--after all, since the day is coming when it will be impossible to keep the identity of vandals secret, and even changing electronic identities will (eventually) not help the perps.

Hey, if we are heading for total loss of privacy, perhaps it can be turned to good use. One way of achieving this would be to require biometric sign-on to a brand new Internet, while cancelling the old one. Are there better solutions out there?

Further on implanted devices

The Spy notes that Wisconsin-based Three Square Market is offering RFID implants into the hands of employees for making on-site purchases, logging in to computers, and using the copier. These could also be used to open suitably equipped doors (as in many card lock systems already in use), and may have wider commercial applications. Three Square Market reports that about 50 employees have accepted.

Well…no. This could be useful for such very low security/risk purposes, but is entirely unsuitable for secure or mission critical access. Quite apart from the fact that RFID is hackable with readily available tools, the kind of people who want illicit access to secure facilities would have little hesitation in stealing such chips, even with hand still attached. Biometrics with a double confirmation (say, fingerprint and retina) would be better; a fast DNA analyzer better still. But there are undoubtedly ways to hack both.

Enom/TuCows sent out an apologetic e-mail recently over their recent dreadful service, promising to do better. No improvement as yet. The Spy's last trouble ticket was not answered for three weeks, and the reply was a non-answer that solved nothing. Completely unacceptable to wait more than one day in this business.

Meanwhile his web hosting and name service companies are losing customers over this ridiculous fiasco. Something has to give. Lack of properly deployed low technology (knowledgeable service reps giving real answers) is killing a high-tech giant's reputation. Perhaps the whole mess needs to be taken over by people who know what they are doing.

--The Northern Spyhack voting machines,

Opinions expressed here are entirely the author's own, and no endorsement is implied by any community or organization to which he may be attached. Rick Sutcliffe, (a. k. a. The Northern Spy) is professor of Computing Science and Mathematics at Canada's Trinity Western University. He has been involved as a member of or consultant with the boards of several organizations, and participated in developing industry standards at the national and international level.

He is a co-author of the Modula-2 programming language R10 dialect. He is a long time technology author and has written two textbooks and ten alternate history SF novels, one named best ePublished SF novel for 2003. His columns have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers (paper and online), and he's a regular speaker at churches, schools, academic meetings, and conferences. He and his wife Joyce have lived in the Aldergrove/Bradner area of B.C. since 1972.

Want to discuss this and other Northern Spy columns or Rick's SF? Check out the Arjay blog at http://www.arjay.bc.ca/blog/

URLs for Rick Sutcliffe's Arjay Enterprises:

The Northern Spy Home Page: http: //www. TheNorthernSpy. com
opundo : http: //opundo. com
Sheaves Christian Resources : http: //sheaves. org
WebNameHost : http: //www. WebNameHost. net
WebNameSource : http: //www. WebNameSource. net
nameman : http: //nameman. net

General URLs for Rick Sutcliffe's Books:
Author Site: http: //www. arjay. ca
Publisher's Site: http: //www. writers-exchange. com/Richard-Sutcliffe. html
The Fourth Civilization--Ethics, Society, and Technology (4th 2003 ed. ): http: //www. arjay. bc. ca/EthTech/Text/index. html

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

MacCleanse 6.0.5 - $29.95
MacCleanse is the product of thousands of hours of intense research and development. It meticulously scans all of the nooks and crannies of a computer for unnecessary junk that can take up huge... Read more
Smultron 10.0.2 - Easy-to-use, powerful...
Smultron 10 is an elegant and powerful text editor that is easy to use. You can use Smultron 10 to create or edit any text document. Everything from a web page, a note or a script to any single piece... Read more
Capto 1.2.5 - $29.99
Capto (was Voila) is an easy-to-use app that takes capturing, recording, video and image editing to the next level. With an intelligent file manager and quick sharing options, Capto is perfect for... Read more
Cocktail 11.0.1 - General maintenance an...
Cocktail is a general purpose utility for macOS that lets you clean, repair and optimize your Mac. It is a powerful digital toolset that helps hundreds of thousands of Mac users around the world get... Read more
Sketch 47.1 - Design app for UX/UI for i...
Sketch is an innovative and fresh look at vector drawing. Its intentionally minimalist design is based upon a drawing space of unlimited size and layers, free of palettes, panels, menus, windows, and... Read more
Slack 2.8.2 - Collaborative communicatio...
Slack is a collaborative communication app that simplifies real-time messaging, archiving, and search for modern working teams. Version 2.8.2: A small release containing nothing but another Electron... Read more
Path Finder 7.6.1 - Powerful, award-winn...
Path Finder makes you a master of file management. Take full control over your file system. Save your time: compare and synchronize folders, view hidden files, use Dual Pane and full keyboard... Read more
Sketch 47.1 - Design app for UX/UI for i...
Sketch is an innovative and fresh look at vector drawing. Its intentionally minimalist design is based upon a drawing space of unlimited size and layers, free of palettes, panels, menus, windows, and... Read more
Cocktail 11.0.1 - General maintenance an...
Cocktail is a general purpose utility for macOS that lets you clean, repair and optimize your Mac. It is a powerful digital toolset that helps hundreds of thousands of Mac users around the world get... Read more
Path Finder 7.6.1 - Powerful, award-winn...
Path Finder makes you a master of file management. Take full control over your file system. Save your time: compare and synchronize folders, view hidden files, use Dual Pane and full keyboard... Read more

Returner 77 (Games)
Returner 77 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Returner 77 is a cinematic space mystery puzzle game. You are in a giant alien spaceship hovering above Earth, after everything... | Read more »
Dune! guide - how to toe the line and ge...
Publisher Voodoo is at it again with an all new high score chaser -- Dune! In this fast-paced arcade game, you have to propel yourself along sand dunes, gaining enough momentum to jump above the line to score points, while making sure you have... | Read more »
The best deals on the App Store this wee...
Happy Tuesday, dear readers. Your favorite part of the week as officially arrived. It's time to take a look at the best deals in games. Things are admittedly a bit sparse, but there are a few diamonds in the rough to see you through if you're... | Read more »
Be the last person standing in Legacy of...
Yoozoo Games’ popular action MMO Legacy of Discord is getting a huge new update to celebrate its first anniversary. Perhaps the biggest change is the addition of an exciting survival mode titled Last Guardian. This new survival mode will pit you... | Read more »
Home Street guide - how to make friends...
From the creators of Food Street comes Home Street, a new simulation game that tasks you with building a social network and designing a beautiful home. It's a bit like The Sims, but you won't have to worry about the daily chores involved (feeding,... | Read more »
Color Ballz guide - how to bounce to the...
Color Ballz is an addictive new arcade title from Ketchapp Studios. It takes old school mechanics from games like Brickles and puts a fun twist on it. Your job? To catch balls with a paddle and send them back into a chute to be carried back to... | Read more »
Q&A: A-33 Studio explains why Combat...
When it comes to mobile FPS, it’s often tricky to get the fundamentals right on a platform lacking a physical controller, large display and hefty RAM. With Combat Squad: Project Wednesday, A-33 Studio bravely took on the challenge of making a... | Read more »
Taichi Panda 3: Dragon Hunter guide - ti...
Taichi Panda 3: Dragon Hunter launched this week to players all over the world. It's a beautiful mobile MMORPG that blends elements of Eastern and Western fantasy. It reminds us of a mix between World of Warcraft and Jade Empire. MMO's can have a... | Read more »
The best new games we played this week -...
Phew. It has been a week, but now it's time to relax, put your feet up, and enjoy some brand new mobile games. It was a bit of slow week, but there's still plenty of new titles to add to your collection. Here are four of our favorites. [Read... | Read more »
Yoink - Improved Drag and Drop (Product...
Yoink - Improved Drag and Drop 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Productivity Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Yoink for iPad and iPhone lets you easily and quickly store items you drag, copy or share, for later use... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

13″ MacBook Pros on sale for up to $120 off M...
B&H Photo has 2017 13″ MacBook Pros in stock today and on sale for up to $120 off MSRP, each including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only: – 13-inch 2.3GHz/128GB Space Gray MacBook... Read more
15″ MacBook Pros on sale for up to $200 off M...
B&H Photo has 15″ MacBook Pros on sale for up to $200 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges sales tax in NY & NJ only: – 15″ 2.8GHz MacBook Pro Space Gray (MPTR2LL/A): $2249, $150... Read more
Roundup of Apple Certified Refurbished iMacs,...
Apple has a full line of Certified Refurbished 2017 21″ and 27″ iMacs available starting at $1019 and ranging up to $350 off original MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free... Read more
Sale! 27″ 3.8GHz 5K iMac for $2098, save $201...
Amazon has the 27″ 3.8GHz 5K iMac (MNED2LL/A) on sale today for $2098 including free shipping. Their price is $201 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model (Apple’s $1949... Read more
Sale! 10″ Apple WiFi iPad Pros for up to $100...
B&H Photo has 10.5″ WiFi iPad Pros in stock today and on sale for $50-$100 off MSRP. Each iPad includes free shipping, and B&H charges sales tax in NY & NJ only: – 10.5″ 64GB iPad Pro: $... Read more
Apple iMacs on sale for up to $130 off MSRP w...
B&H Photo has 21-inch and 27-inch iMacs in stock and on sale for up to $130 off MSRP including free shipping. B&H charges sales tax in NY & NJ only: – 27″ 3.8GHz iMac (MNED2LL/A): $2179 $... Read more
2017 3.5GHz 6-Core Mac Pro on sale for $2799,...
B&H Photo has the 2017 3.5GHz 6-Core Mac Pro (MD878LL/A) on sale today for $2799 including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only . Their price is $200 off MSRP. Read more
12″ 1.2GHz Space Gray MacBook on sale for $11...
Amazon has the 2017 12″ 1.2GHz Space Gray Retina MacBook on sale for $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free: 12″ 1.2GHz Space Gray MacBook: $1199.99 $100 off MSRP Read more
Bare Bones Software Releases macOS High Sierr...
Bare Bones Software has announced the release and immediate availability of BBEdit 12.0, a significant upgrade to its professional strength text and code editor. BBEdit 12 introduces a new foundation... Read more
Yale Announces Availability of Apple HomeKit-...
Yale Locks & Hardware has announced that Apple HomeKit support for its Assure Lock family is available this month. The new Yale iM1 Network Module, which provides support for the Apple Home app... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* News Product Marketing Mgr., Publish...
Job Summary The Apple News Product Marketing Manager will work closely with a cross-functional group to assist in defining and marketing new features and services. Read more
Fraud Analyst, *Apple* Advertising Platform...
Job Summary Apple Ad Platforms has an opportunity to redefine advertising on mobile devices. Apple reaches hundreds of millions of iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad Read more
*Apple* Information Security - Security Data...
Job Summary This role is responsible for helping to strengthen Apple 's information security posture through the identification and curation of security event data. Read more
Lead *Apple* Solution Consultant - Apple In...
…develop a team of diverse partner employees focusing on excellence to deliver the Apple story. Even when you're not present, you will maintain a consistent influence Read more
watchOS Frameworks Engineering Manager, *App...
Job Summary Join the team that is shaping the future of software development for Apple Watch! Apple is looking for an exceptional software engineering leader to Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.