Screenshot poetry

I’ve been enjoying this occasional blog of poetic computer-speak. Favourites: guru medi





‘I feel more fulfilled without the internet’

The last time I was allowed to access the internet was several moments before the police came through my door in the Shetland Isles, over a year ago. During the past 12 months I have pleaded guilty to computer misuse under the banners of “Internet Feds”, “Anonymous” and “LulzSec”. One of my co-defendants and I have also been indicted with the same charge in the United States, where we may possibly be extradited, and if found guilty I could face several decades in an American prison. Now I am on conditional bail and have to wear an electronic tag around my ankle. I’m forbidden from accessing the internet.

I’m often asked: what is life like without the net? It seems strange that humans have evolved and adapted for thousands of years without this simple connectivity, and now we in modern society struggle to comprehend existence without it. In a word, life is serene. I now find myself reading newspapers as though they weren’t ancient scrolls; entering real shops with real money in order to buy real products, and not wishing to Photoshop a cosmic being of unspeakable horror into every possible social situation. Nothing needs to be captioned or made into an elaborate joke to impress a citizenry whose every emotion is represented by a sequence of keystrokes.

Things are calmer, slower and at times, I’ll admit, more dull. I do very much miss the instant companionship of online life, the innocent chatroom palaver, and the ease with which circles with similar interests can be found. Of course, there are no search terms in real life – one actually has to search. However, there is something oddly endearing about being disconnected from the digital horde.

It is not so much the sudden simplicity of daily life – as you can imagine, trivial tasks have been made much more difficult – but the feeling of being able to close my eyes without being bombarded with flashing shapes or constant buzzing sounds, which had occurred frequently since my early teens and could only be attributed to perpetual computer marathons. Sleep is now tranquil and uninterrupted and books seem far more interesting. The paranoia has certainly vanished. I can only describe this sensation as the long-awaited renewal of a previously diminished attention span.

For it is our attention spans that have suffered the most. Our lives are compressed into short, advertisement-like bursts or “tweets”. The constant stream of drivel fills page after page, eating away at our creativity. If hashtags were rice grains, do you know how many starving families we could feed? Neither do I – I can’t Google it.

A miracle cure or some kind of therapeutic brilliance are not something I could give, but I can confidently say that a permanent lack of internet has made me a more fulfilled individual. And as one of many kids glued to their screens every day, I would never before have imagined myself even thinking those words. Before, the idea of no internet was inconceivable, but now – not to sound as though it’s some kind of childish and predictable revelation spawned as a result of going cold turkey – I look back on the transcripts of my online chats (produced as legal evidence in my case, in great numbers) and wonder what all the fuss was about.

It’s not my place to speculate on whether or not the hacker community should stop taking itself so seriously, but I certainly became entangled within it and had forgotten how easy it was simply to close a laptop lid.

I hope, then, that others in a similar situation may decide to take a short break from the web (perhaps just for a week) and see if similar effects are found. It can’t hurt to try.

via My life after LulzSec: 'I feel more fulfilled without the internet' | Technology | The Observer.

Lengthen and randomise your passwords!

Your passwords vs:

a $12,000 computer, dubbed Project Erebus v2.5 by creator d3ad0ne, contains eight AMD Radeon HD7970 GPU cards. Running version 0.10 of oclHashcat-lite, it requires just 12 hours to brute force the entire keyspace for any eight-character password containing upper- or lower-case letters, digits or symbols.

Using features built into password-cracking apps such as Hashcat and Extreme GPU Bruteforcer, the same password can be recovered in about 90 seconds by performing what’s known as a mask attack. It works by intelligently reducing the keyspace to only those guesses likely to match a given pattern. Rather than trying aaaaa0000, ZZZZZ9999, and every possible combination in between, it tries a lower- or upper-case letter only for the first character, and tries only lower-case characters for the next four characters. It then appends all possible four-digit numbers to the end. The result is a drastically reduced keyspace of about 237.6 billion, or 52 * 26 * 26 * 26 * 26 * 10 * 10 * 10 * 10.

Cracking experts like Atom can use Passpal and other programs to isolate patterns that are unique to the website from which they came. They then write new rules to crack the remaining unknown passwords. More often than not, however, no amount of sophistication and high-end hardware is enough to quickly crack some hashes exposed in a server breach. To ensure they keep up with changing password choices, crackers will regularly brute-force crack some percentage of the unknown passwords, even when they contain as many as nine or more characters.

Even powerful computation engines have trouble cracking longer passwords using brute force. Assuming such an attack checks for all combinations of all 95 letters, numbers, and symbols available on a standard English-language keyboard, it takes a matter of hours for a desktop computer with an Intel Core i7 980x processor to brute-force crack any five character password. Increasing the password length by just one character requires about a day; bumping the length by one more character, though, dramatically increases the cracking time to more than 10 days. Rob Graham, the Errata Security CEO who calculated the requirements, refers to this limitation as the “exponential wall of brute-force cracking.”

So what can the average person do to pick a passcode that won’t be toppled in a matter of hours? Per Thorsheim, a security advisor who specializes in passwords for a large company headquartered in Norway, said the most important attribute of any passcode is that it be unique to each site.

“For most sites, you have no idea how they store your password,” he explained. “If they get breached, you get breached. If your password at that site is unique, you have much less to worry about.”

It’s also important that a password not already be a part of the corpus of the hundreds of millions of codes already compiled in crackers’ word lists, that it be randomly generated by a computer, and that it have a minimum of nine characters to make brute-force cracks infeasible. Since it’s not uncommon for people to have dozens of accounts these days, the easiest way to put this advice into practice is to use program such as 1Password or PasswordSafe. Both apps allow users to create long, randomly generated passwords and to store them securely in a cryptographically protected file that’s unlocked with a single master password. Using a password manager to change passcodes regularly is also essential.


Higgs on the Higgs boson discovery – God Particle short for Goddamn Particle

Peter Higgs (of the Higgs Boson Higgses) would like to correct a couple of misconceptions.

First off, the discovery of the Higgs Boson (if that is, indeed, what has been discovered) neither proves nor disproves the existence of a deity. In fact, the Higgs Boson has nothing to do with God at all. It’s important to physicists, sure. As we’ve talked about here before, Higgs Bosons are thought to be a key part of explaining why some sub-atomic particles have more mass than others. But that does not really overlap with religious significance. In fact, according to Higgs, the name “God Particle” is actually a politeness-corrupted version of “Goddam Particle”—so called because the goddam particle was so difficult to find.

Second: Over the last couple of days, you may have been wondering what practical applications could come out of the discovery of the Higgs Boson. Peter Higgs has a response for that. To paraphrase: “Damned if I know.”


In a new way

A seashore
Keyboards slowly, pipes
A resonant rumble
The sound of the sea with triangle jingles
The sea is replaced by deep bass, in and out, pulsing

Desolate shores, life forming
Crawling from the waters, adventuring upwards
Towards the sun and the light and the warmth
Away from the murky horrors of the sea
It is bound to

The earth is giving birth to the animals, the human people
Energy patterns, beautiful energy patterns
Tingles, jingles and shingle on the shore of the primeval soup
The thick soup is gurgling at me
Ready to spew forth all the misery and beauty it contains
A beat kicks in

Squelchy electric pulses, gentle synths up and down
A beat on a cymbal and perhaps a hand clap
A soundscape that is removed from the soup
It is man’s time, perhaps Eden
No trouble, but a sense of adventure building
The electro squelches are back

The human is wailing gently with the torture of it all
He is living the torture
It hasn’t got him
A voice: consciousness, intelligence, technology spreading in the biology
A xylophone reminds me of China
The singing expressing the soul

Music fading to frogs, water, birds
Matter is energy
Energy + intelligence = matter that allows consciousness
Which allows technology
Which is all the same thing, from the same source

This music is more dramatic
The drum kicks harder
The percussion more regular
Echoing in and out
A distorted drum building up to something
Electronic clashes rush round my mind
Up up up
Drum fills from nowhere

The whole background seems to fade
A woman’s voice I don’t understand
Perhaps an alien
She is beautiful
Wisdom is what you are, knowledge is what you know
And insects right through my head
On an echo of the wind

Entities made of mind
In a new way
In a new way!
Fucking excellent
Words in the realm of the machine
Are not things heard but things seen

Rain like snowflakes
Conceptuality flexes and coils
Alien voices, squelches
A piece of space-coloured gold
To drill holes through

Spinning in space
Watch what we are doing
Do what we are doing
Do it now
This is our destiny
This is what our ancestors struggled to give us

Fading now
No voices, just wind
Two sounds
One deeper
And a distorted loop
An electric helicopter

We tumble back through history
History compacted
Back to a single cell
Evolutionary crossroads
Acceleration and expanding consciousness
Where is the wisdom to control this?
We are in a unique position
Simultaneous senses on five levels

The wind and a synthesiser
We have our own feelings
Despite the world coming to an end
Electro bass short and squat
Bass line winds through the drum
And now the gap is raining

A computer from the future
There is no matter here
No rules exist
I welcome the future
Come to me
And let me be!
It is all going to change
Create community
Not imposed from above
Restrictions are self-imposed, from restrictions inherent in the system
See and understand them

A natural drum
A bird
A choir
Afro beat shuffling
Love is the law
Go into it and take a look
You may be surprised

Fire and breeze
Crackling, snapping wood
Return to the earth
The voices chanting
I am no one’s slave
I am no one’s master
I am sorry, Earth
I know what he means
Apologising on behalf of mankind

A new perspective

Fake Sounds to Help Humans

The secret static on your Skype call

A less obvious bit of artificial sound that you probably hear every day is called comfort noise. Lots of modern telephone systems as well as software like Skype employ noise reduction techniques. Unfortunately, that can result in total silence at quiet points in a conversation and leave you wondering if the call has stopped entirely.

That’s where comfort noise comes in. To fill those lulls, the software adds artificial noise at a barely audible volume. While you won’t consciously notice it, it prevents you from feeling like you’re talking into a void.

Comfort noise isn’t a new concept either. During the siege of Leningrad, the Soviets broadcast the beat of a metronome to reassure citizens that the radio network was still up and running. Radio stations today add comfort noise to broadcasts during quiet periods such as the minute’s silence on Remembrance Day.

via Humans Invent | Innovation, Craftsmanship & Design.

Domesday Reloaded

Really enjoying browsing the BBC’s Domesday Reloaded

25 years ago, the BBC published the Domesday Project. The project was probably the most ambitious attempt ever to capture the essence of life in the United Kingdom. Over a million people contributed to this digital snapshot of the country.

People were asked to record what they thought would be of interest in another 1000 years.

The original data was stored and released on laser-disc!

Here’s a gem from the Portsmouth entry:


After assembly we go to
Environmental Studies, which is my
favourite subject. At the end of the
lesson I go out to play,which lasts
for 20 minutes. We do Environmental
Maths until lunchtime at 12.00. Then
we do some work on the Domesday
Whilst I’m at school my mum goes
to work at the Hyperstore,so I have to
let myself in with a key, then I take
my dog out for a walk. When my mum
comes home I have my tea and go out to
play tennis. I come in at about 7.30pm
and get ready for bed. Then I have a
choice of three things:
a)Watch T.V.
b)Play a game on my computer (like
c)Watch a video or tape something.
Then I start a new day.

LulzSec Hacks

Security is an illusion. Corruption is everywhere.

LulzSec have been busy. Recent hacks include, the UK ATM database,,,, and now FBO-related This latest because the USA now consider hacking to be an ‘act of war’. 180 usernames and passwords were obtained, all FBI-related, and thousands from the other organisations.

Dear Internets,

It has come to our unfortunate attention that NATO and our good friend Barrack
Osama-Llama 24th-century Obama have recently upped the stakes with regard to hacking.
They now treat hacking as an act of war. So, we just hacked an FBI affiliated website
(Infragard, specifically the Atlanta chapter) and leaked its user base. We also took
complete control over the site and defaced it, check it out if it’s still up:

While not very many logins (around 180), we’d like to take the time to point out that all
of them are affiliated with the FBI in some way. Most of them reuse their passwords in other places,
which is heavily frowned upon in the FBI/Infragard handbook and generally everywhere else too.

One of them, Karim Hijazi, used his Infragard password for his personal gmail, and the gmail of
the company he owns. “Unveillance”, a whitehat company that specializes in data breaches and botnets,
was compromised because of Karim’s incompetence. We stole all of his personal emails and his company
emails. We also briefly took over, among other things, their servers and their botnet control panel.

After doing so, we contacted Karim and told him what we did. After a few discussions, he offered to
pay us to eliminate his competitors through illegal hacking means in return for our silence. Karim,
a member of an FBI-related website, was willing to give us money and inside info in order to destroy
his opponents in the whitehat world. We even discussed plans for him to give us insider botnet information.

Naturally we were just stringing him along to further expose the corruption of whitehats.
Please find enclosed Karim’s full contact details and a log of him talking to us through IRC.
Also, enjoy 924 of his internal company emails – we have his personal gmail too, unreleased.

We call upon journalists and other writers to delve through the emails carefully, as we have
uncovered an operation orchestrated by Unveillance and others to control and assess Libyan
cyberspace through malicious means: the U.S. government is funding the CSFI to attack Libya’s
cyber infrastructure. You will find the emails of all 23 people involved in the emails.

Unveillance was also involved in a scheme where they paid an Indian registrar $2000 to
receive 100 domains a month that may be deemed as botnet C&Cs. Shameful ploys by supposed “whitehats”.

We accept your threats, NATO. Game on, losers.

Now we are all sons of bitches,

Lulz Security

Internet Traffic

In North America, Netflix is now 29.7% of peak downstream traffic and has become the largest source of Internet traffic overall. Currently, Real-Time Entertainment applications consume 49.2% of peak aggregate traffic, up from 29.5% in 2009 – a 60% increase [see figure 3]. Sandvine forecasts that the Real-Time Entertainment category will represent 55-60% of peak aggregate traffic by the end of 2011.

In Latin America, Social Networking (overwhelmingly Facebook) is a bigger source of traffic than YouTube, representing almost 14% of network traffic [see figure 4]. Real-Time Entertainment represents 27.5% of peak aggregate traffic, still the largest contributor of traffic in that region [see figure 5].

In Europe, Real-Time Entertainment continues a steady climb, rising to 33.2% of peak aggregate traffic, up from 31.9% last fall [see figure 6]. BitTorrent, a peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing protocol, is the largest single component of both upstream (59.7%) and downstream (21.6%) Internet traffic during peak periods. In the UK, BBC’s iPlayer is 6.6% of peak downstream traffic, reflecting the demand for localized content in many markets. Overall, individual subscribers in Europe consume twice the amount of data as North Americans.

via Sandvine : Sandvine’s Spring 2011 Global Internet Phenomena Report Reveals New Internet Trends.


YouTube account dead but not quite gone. My counter claims were rejected:

Thank you for your counter-notification. Based on the information you have provided, it appears that you do not have the necessary rights to post the content on YouTube. Therefore, we regretfully cannot honor this counter-notification. It has not been forwarded to the original claimant, and we will not be able to restore your video.

We unfortunately are unable to assist further in this matter.

Proceeded with a too-cheerful “Hi there”

I have replied asking not for restoration of the videos but just short term access to the account so I can download my walking videos, the ones I don’t have here, so they are not lost forever. But I suspect I am replying to an address that doesn’t get read. It’s impossible to contact YouTube directly by email or phone. You have to use online forms.

Woke up at 0400. My new style is to do a yoga session whenever I wake up, and then rest again if it’s too early. Trouble is, I fell back into deep sleep and by 0830 I was in no mood to get up.

My brother M’s stag do this weekend. From the clues he’s been given he thinks we are going tank driving. We are not. It’s gearing up to be a memorable weekend.

A sunny day, with lunch outside. Again, sitting absorbing the rays, waves. From a friend’s facebook comment after watching The Secret Life of Waves: Waves are made of MAGIC. He might be right.

iPad 2 looking super scrummy.

110224 Denied

My YouTube account has been suspended, perhaps terminated, cancelled, kaput. They have a ‘three strikes and you’re out’ system of dealing with copyright infringement. I had two strikes, one for uploading the opening credits to Mon Oncle, the other for a clip from the film Religulous. Suddenly today my gmail account was suspended and this evening I found out it was because Google/YouTube have suspended the YouTube account. The reason being I now have a third strike, not because of a new upload but a clip from The IT Crowd is under a copyright claim from MPI Media Group. As far as I can tell, this is a company publishing DVDs of TV shows.

OK, fair enough I guess, none of these are mine to upload, but I think they could be fairer in the amount of notice given. In each case if they’d given me a day to remove each violating video I would happily have done so. Also because it isn’t a new upload, you can get three strikes so easily on content you’ve had uploaded for years. The IT Crowd clip had been online for two years. Imagine if someone has three MPI Media copyrighted files uploaded – instantly their account would be cancelled.

YouTube say the only way to get my account reactivated is to win a counter claim for one of the videos, yet the counter-claim page says: ‘If you did not have all of the rights to post the material at issue, you MUST NOT submit a counter-notification’. So, a classic Catch-22. I am also suspended from creating a new account. (This is easy to get around by using another email address). I’d like to have my walking videos back online. The TV stuff I don’t really care about. This suspension happened as my channel reached over 1,000,000 views. I think I’ll probably head over to Vimeo instead but I need to test the WordPress embedding. So a lot of my blog now links to nothing…

The new MacBook Pro line was released today. The 15″ and 17″ are now on quad core Sandy Bridge Intel i7 and the 13″ has an almighty leap from Core2Duo to i5 or i7 Sandy Bridge. I was thinking of moving from the 15″ MBP to the 13″ but there is no discreet graphics card in that model, so it’s not great for video work. The new models have Thunderbolt which is 20x faster than USB 2.0

Feeling much better again. So very glad to sit in the sunshine at lunchtime, absorbing light, heat, relaxing. It’s been quite a sunless winter in Hampshire.

Steps stepped 4579 plus a few later this eve.