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Cyberdeckarna på nya äventyr

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Passande “hakish” bakgrund.

(This text is in Swedish only)

Min polare och medkonspiratör i IT-säkerhetspodden, Mattias Jadesköld, har nu blivit författare. I dagarna har hans första bok, Cyberdeckarna och Gisslanprogrammet släppts i bokhandeln (I alla fall på Internet). Så man kan antingen köpa den som en fysisk bok eller som ebok.

Platsen är Stockholm i ett framtida Sverige som är både nära och på ett visst sätt avlägset. Hackare är överallt, men nätet är inte längre garanterat. Ständiga strömavbrott gör att man måste leva både online och enligt gamla principer från 1800-talet. Informationen är knapphändig. I denna eklektiska blandning av fjärrstyrda djur som är AI-hybrider och gamla tanter som tvättar kläder vid stranden, finns det mycket att undersöka.

Syskonen London och Linus får i denna bok uppdraget att rädda en båt som drabbats av ett datorprogram som håller hela verksamheten gisslan. London åker dit för att undersöka, medan Linus sköter bakgrundsarbetet. I bakgrunden hjälper hackergurun, en avdankad lärare som skrivit “NeoICE”, en legendarisk programvara som kan låta dig hacka det mesta.

London är en mästermanipulatör med en silvertunga, som kan prata med alla och säga rätt saker för att få fram information, manipulera andra eller skaffa kontakter. Linus är en smart kille som kan nörda ner sig i det mesta, men saknar en hel del av den sociala förmåga hans syster är så bra på. Tillsammans skapar de exakt den duo som behövs för att gå till botten med det mystiska som pågår i staden.

Boken riktar sig mot tonåringar och barn och är en modern version av 50-talets deckare där barn löser gåtor. Det är knappast Poirot, Sherlock Holmes eller Miss Marple – men det är inte tanken heller. Hela konceptet är riktigt kul och känns modernt på ett sätt som jag antar appellerar på de som är unga idag.

Jag har hjälpt till lite med framtagningen av karaktärerna och en del av det tekniska.

Kan köpas här:
https://www.bod.se/bokshop/cyberdeckarna-gisslanprogrammet-mattias-jadeskoeld-9789180072632

This Old Cabin – in full retro!

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Retro computing, gentleman style. First episode features a Commodore SX-64, horse back riding and Amigas.

Björn speaks with a very British style voice, even though he has a distinct accent.

This is awesome. I’m highly recommending you follow his channel…

That was unexpected

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Spelling is not his strong suite.

“IT-säkerhetspodden 10% it-security 90% anti communist propaganda.”

IT-säkerhetspodden is my Swedish IT-security podcast and today we covered Russian hacking and Russia. This was a comment we received today. That’s it, I’m breaking out the champagne.

I wish to say that I’m also against nationalsocialism, fascism and any political system that repress people.

What the heck, Microsoft

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Master Bowser? That’s just weird…

Ok, speling errors are fun. And Microsoft delivers the goods… The master Browser is such an old technology that it simply seems to be abandoned by the people in Redmond.

Caveat emptor: PastBook – giving your pictures away

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mark zuckerberg - Imgflip
As does Google, I guess…

TLDR; Don’t log in to Pastbook or use it in anyway! They steal pretty much all of your data and will sell it to god knows who. If you do: get ready to be bombarded with mail telling you to buy the photoalbum from them… Or else… Really nasty site.

As I was idly surfing on Facebook, a post told me that my 10 year photobook was ready. I should have known better (with a site like you) and NOT clicked on it. I thought it was one of those Facebook memory slide shows where you’re shown pictures with a random friend on Facebook.

When I clicked on it, an authorization dialog came up and told me to login with my Facebook account. This is a clear warning that it wasn’t Facebook I was going to. Being tired and unfocused I stupidly logged in by clicking the link. Terror struck me when I realized what I had done five seconds later. My photos were already spreading accross their site. I unauthorized them, but it was too late.

Their name (too live forever in infamy): www.pastbook.com.

That’s it… I’m boned… Yeah, I need help, to get rid of charlatans like you!

So as to what they want from your Facebook account? Pretty much everything.. No surprises there… And Mark O’ZuckerIsBorn doesn’t care.

It’s easier to list what they DON’T take from you. Click this picture if you’re not already dead inside…

SCREW FACEBOOK! PIECE OF GARBAGE SITE! MENTAL BLOODY DOPAMIN-RELEASE DRUG!!!

… And just when you thought it was safe to pop out of your bunker…

… Jay, another psychopath entrepeneur ready to sell your stuff…

Political discussion… or when your best recourse is silence

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Cats! They make the Internet better! Debating politics and religion on the same Internet generally does not. Please don’t compare me to Hitler for saying so…

I like debating on the Internet, but I stay away from political and religious debates as much as I can. The few times that I say something, nothing good comes out of it. Honestly, I am a moderate but still right-leaning person politically. I play well with most views that are not extreme, even when I disagree. The more extreme the views, the less they intrigue me. But I am very slow to anger, even if people attack my views as I see a stark difference between disagreement on policy and a direct attack against me as a person.

Reasoning with people with other opinions can be rewarding as it challenges your perspective and sometimes BRUTALLY so. You also must build solid and iron clad reasoning or face the consequence of being put to shame. Sometimes the loss is a signal to me to reevaluate my stand points and how I reason. I loathe rhetorical tricks and love strong reasoning skills from everyone regardless of their place in any political spectrum.

A friend and I spoke about values of conservatives, libertarians and social liberals and I tried to be as unbiased as I could to present each ideology the way I reckon they would themselves. He asked me about my political standpoint and then proceeded to ask me what parts of society I though must remain public and what should be privatized. It is easy to argue for your values, but when challenged to change the world around you (albeit only in theory) the consequences start building up.

Should hospital care be privatized, be public or remain a mix (as they currently do here in Sweden today) ? Each answer comes with a slew of problems and possibilities that effectively kills the “my political vision brings heaven and heaps of pink unicorns” argument. The more you learn, the more you start compromising with yourself. “I DO think that we should… but doesn’t that mean… Won’t that hurt… ??). Dealing in absolutes gets tougher and tougher and dogmatic thinking dies quickly.

There is something very “Dunning-Kruger” about most subjects, but few more than politics and religion. We all have a belief of some sorts (or many!) and an idea of the perfect society we want to add our efforts in bringing about. But the anger inherent our belief-systems being challenged is ready to burst out of our seams at any time.

The political events last weeks are well-known and touches on subjects such as freedom, what constitutes “blow to the state” as opposed to a “peaceful demonstration” and what is expected of people in power. I have been utterly shocked by this situation and look with worried eyes on the looming consequences in a long-time perspective. It is a situation with no clear “winners” and I’m not even sure I would like to see it as some sort of competition or fight.

On a personal note, I learnt a lesson last summer. I wrote a short post where I made fun of a sign and how I thought that, while the intentions were well-meaning, the whole situation became absurd and worth laughing at. I did not think anyone would be angry about such thing, as I was more amused by the whole story than felt the need to protest it. I can say with confidence, that post alone cost me some contacts on social media. The people must have thought I had turned against the concept of equality, which is very much not so. I love the idea of equality, as it is a cornerstone of a modern society. It is not a hard sell for me. But the sheer silliness of how people became fixated by it and inadvertently became dogmatic and start seeing themselves as Enlighted, is funny in a very irreverent way. An irreverence they simple cannot stand from anyone except themselves. And… that is funny in itself.

A good link!

46 today… Horray for me… Or something

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Me more than 40 years ago. A kid with way to big head phones for his head…. And why not? As bad as the head phones fit me, the dream of radio- and audioengineering did much better.

Today is my 46th birthday and I want to clear some rumours about me and that particular date. I’ve heard those lines so many times, this has to be sorted out now!

Question: “Oh, so you did get less gifts than other kids, then?”

Answer: No cookie for that observation. But remember just a cats believe they’re close to starvation because you haven’t fed them for 15 minutes, kids never think they get enough gifts at any time.

Me, on the other hand is totally over that, I can buy stuff every other day than the 24th of December since I get a steady paycheck and stores are open those days. I’m going to prove my point by pouring myself a Gin and Tonic, that I bought the Gin for a few days ago.

Question: “Your mother got quite the gift for christmas that year?”

Answer: Without bragging, I believe I was quite a thing for her. Parents do like their kids, so that’s a pretty easy guess. But that christmas actually more like gave her the gift of giving birth. It rates pretty high on the dolorimeter, so probably not the most happy moment until done. I love my mother and she loves me. But neither of us have to go through that “birth”-stuff again, which is all fine if you ask me.

Question: “Nobody remembers to congratulate you, then?”

Answer: True. I hated that as a kid. Then that Facebook thing came along and now people feel compelled to congratulate me, as the option to by mistake forget about it and then hope I don’t complain pretty much is gone. So… Not a big problem..

Question: “Another kid was born that day, right? (big smile)”

Answer: You’re Swedish, right? I also did this incorrect assumption, so I’m not holding it against you. But… You know… Just because us Swedes celebrate christmas eve instead of christmas day, doesn’t mean Mary had to reschedule Jesus birth. The son of god (citations needed) in fact was born on christmas day. What year? I dunno, what calendar? Julian or Gregorian? Should we take in account all the times we lost count of the dates in our history and just guess? Many questions, but the answers are alas out of my remit.

Hope this clears all this out and … a merry christmas to you and yours!

TTFN, Erik Zalitis.

Brilliance in Canadian humor

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I wanna go! I wanna go! Take me there now!!!!

In 2010, the prolific and unorthodox mind of Winston Rowntree created the comic that the picture above was taken from. It’s called “The museum of the theoretical“. The story of this strip is about a woman who finds the “Museum of the Theoretical” an outfit that deals in things that COULD have been. As for most of Rowntree’s creations, it is really a treat for the imagination.

The poster behind the woman who owns the exhibition shows the last Beatles album that COULD have been and it is titled “Imagine a photograph from a passing jet”. It is a brilliant joke.

We know that the members of the Beatles actually made songs in the last years of the band, that ended up on their solo albums like “All things must pass” from George Harrison and “Jealous Guy”/”Child of nature” from John Lennon. It also references the songs “Jet” from Paul McCartney, “Imagine” from John Lennon and “Photograph” from Ringo Starr.

But mr Rowntree (That’s not his real name by the way) continues to deliver as Beatles is a recurring theme within his comics.

Why is the future always in pastel? … And the past in greyish brown?

Tomorrow never knows follows the fictitious (I hope!) story of John Lennon being bothered by time travelers. He seems to be used to this kind of crap and simply ignores them.

Ah, Mr Gnik Nus, nice to metcha…

A->B Road (See what he made there?) is built around your life as the medley from the back side of legendary Beatles album Abbey Road. It points out that days and the need for sleep removes the impending feeling of doom that would be with us all the time if life was just an endless stretch of time leading up to the inevitable eternity of non-existence.

How many songs are hidden in this picture?
Yes! It does!

Musical Wheres uses cities as metaphores for well known bands. The image “alt”-texts are to die for in this picture:

Sure… Weren’t they related to “Plastic Ono band” somehow ?

You probably know just how much I love the original Twilight Zone TV-series, and mr Rowntree’s webcomic “Subnormality” seems to appeal to that mind set. You know philosophical drama with darkness and hope mixed.

He also drew stuff for Cracked.com, like this rather cynical take on the music industry.

And to end the discussion with something I do not agree with, but that is an interesting take on Beatles anyway:

The 5 Worst Kinds of Album Every Music Fan Has Bought
Oh, come on now… Source: Cracked.com

Ah… Now I get it!

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Bild

I’m no big fan of Halloween or the Swedish “All-helgona”. Visiting the graves of my relatives is a very fine tradition, but the whole “trick-or-treat”-thing is not only ignored by me, but I will simply not open the door.

Goodbye, mr Randi

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The light shines a little less bright today as mr Randi is now a near and dear memory. But what a good one.

Today, the news that James Randi, magician and skeptic-extraordinaire has passed away at the age of 92 reached me.

I have had the good fortune to sit in the audience in one of his shows. And an amazing show it was, but one where your fascination was not the most important thing. It was the lessons he taught about our inabilities to correctly observe the world even if we consider ourselves smart and attentive. He started many of his shows/lectures but talking into a handheld microphone which he later demonstrated was an electric beard trimmer. He then removed his glasses and put his fingers through them, making us understand they never had any lenses in them to begin with. This simple trick shows us how much of our world that is just beliefs rather than facts. If we cannot even see the most obvious things clearly, how can we truly understand this world? Randi meant that is what makes a magician’s magic possible. It is not “magic” per see, it is just a trick that a good magician will never explain.

But Randi’s career as a magician never actually was the most important part of his life as I see it. it was his skills as a skeptic and a driving force in teaching people to doubt and refuse any charlatan’s lies and deceit. He accepted any magic trick and magician if they did not try to fool people magic was for real and to try to sell products based on false promises. He promised one million dollars to anyone who could demonstrate that “junk science” like homeopathy, chakras, auras and esp works. If you for an example wanted to prove that dowsing could find water, all you had to do is demonstrate that ability in front of a couple judges. All it took was a success rate above random chance and the money would be yours. The prize was retired many years later… unclaimed… No big surprise there.

As a self-appointed skeptic and science-buff, mr Randi has meant a lot to me. And as I am sad to see him go, I am happy for the time he spread enlightment to the world.

An older article I wrote in 2010 – “The always amazing mr Randi”

He’s looking sternly at you charlatans!

I live in Sweden, so I will have to travel far to meet people like James Randi. That is unless they decide to go on a tour and visit Sweden, which fortunately mr Randi did. So on the 15th of June 2010 I went to see his appearance at the Oskar Klein Auditorium which is located on the premises of the Royal Institute of Technology here in Stockholm.

The event was organized by the Swedish skeptics organisation “Vetenskap och Folkbildning”. As one of their members I must say I’m impressed that they got the legendary illusionist and paranormal debunker to come to Stockholm. I wasn’t as impressed on how they handled the logistics. Many of us barely got a ticket and they had to cram the auditorium to allow everyone entrance. But it’s a minor complaint.

What makes a magician “magic” ? I won’t go into detail, because it would be spoiling all the fun. But he used the first five minutes of the show to demonstrate that things are not what they appear to be using among other things a beard-trimmer. The lesson is simple: we all assume things about what we see. A good illusionist knows exactly what his or her audience believe that they see and use this against them.

Randi is not here just to entertain. He started the “James Randi Educational Foundation” which goal “(…) is to promote critical thinking by reaching out to the public and media with reliable information about paranormal and supernatural ideas so widespread in our society today”. They’re most famous for their $1 million challenge. The first person who can prove their psychic or paranormal abilities, gets the money. So far none has ever succeeded. It’s not from the lack of trying if you believe mr Randi.

He went on to demonstrate why there can be a serious problems with things like new age medicine or psychic healing and their unverifiable claims. A number of years ago he managed to uncover a scam where a TV-evangelist used a wireless earpiece and some social trickery to fool people that he could heal them through god. Off course he charged them for it and most likely caused people not to seek proper medical attention. This could prove to be fatal.

The most valuable lessons from the whole event was when Randi reminded us that “people that get fooled are not stupid, just uninformed” and when he explained why you cannot prove a negative. “I can prove you that I’m not a giraffe but I cannot prove that there are no unicorns in Africa”.

His explanations were blended with video clips from his career and sprinkled with many interesting anecdotes. Everything was delivered with a subtle, bit dry and very charming humor that made me laugh and think at the same time. He also made a lot of fun of people carrying the title Doctor of Philosophy. I may read too much into it, but I can’t help suspecting that he feels a that he is in a weak position since he himself lacks an academic title. Projection, anyone?

Still he was both funny and dead serious at the same time and kept my undivided attention for the whole two hours the show lasted. I walked home feeling that I’ve encountered a true showman with the heart in the right place and the brains to match.

James Randi gets a full score from me (5/5). If he comes to your town or your country, I highly recommend that you get a ticket!