Monday 29th March 2010

WASTE: secure file sharing for the extremely intelligent

guys, i have something to share with you. you'll love it, and if you don't love it, i won't love you.

WASTE is a program that allows you to make selected data available to a small, trusted group of other WASTE users, and to transmit that data in a pretentiously secure manner. the bits flow directly, using really hefty encryption to keep people in the middle from listening in. (it's RSA. it's the top-shelf stuff. it's what secures your online credit card transactions. everyone knows everything about it and it's still unbreakable.)

intrigued? you should be. read on.

take note: if you don't mind your isp, the government, the mafiaa, and/or rogue wombats listening to your internet connection, or if all you're doing is sending your family members some pictures of your daughter, there are more appropriate systems that save you the considerable overhead introduced by the encryption. on the other hand, if you're transmeeteeng ze seecret deejeetal meecrofeelm, or if you just look good in a tinfoil hat, you will find WASTE to be 100% cromulent.

still intrigued? here's how to make it go:


1. install WASTE!

the official WASTE project hasn't been actively developed for a few years, but the program still works as advertised. officials familiar with the investigation confirm WASTE can function in windows 7. furthermore, there are a few project forks in the wild (such as WASTE again) but this blurb is only concerned with the original. help yourself to the installation files by clicking on this link with your favorite pointing device.

assuming you're using windows, drop the installer into C:\Program Files\WASTE, and run that sucker.


2. find your power numbers!

the WASTE installer will help you find two big, big numbers (keys) that fuel the encryption. one key is public. you hand this one out to your pals (hence, 'public key'); they can use it hide information inside a bunch of nonsense and send it to you. the other key is kept private, and you use it to turn the nonsense back into the original information. anyone with your private key can unlock anything ever sent to you, so keep it secret (hence, 'private key'). the private key will be stored locally and wrapped up under a further password. if you forget the password, you have to start over. (you can have WASTE remember the password, but only if you're absolutely sure your spouse works for the KGB.)


3. connect to other humans!

log in to your router, and tell it to forward port 1337 to your local ip address (the one that looks like 192.168.XX.XX). this is important, but obscure, and if you've gone through a full WASTE installation and you're still unable to connect to other people this is a likely culprit.

several things have to happen in order to form a connection between any two users:

a. both users have to join the same WASTE network. (preferences > network > password)
b. each user has to have the other's public key. (preferences > public keys)
c. at least one user needs to know the other's ip address. whatismyip.com knows it, even if you do not.

make these happen, and you one user connects to the other's ip (under network status). anyone who connects to anyone else in the mesh will instantly be able to talk to everyone else who is connected to the mesh.

say alice, bob, and carol are all in the same WASTE mesh; alice has a direct connection to bob, and bob has a direct connection to carol, but alice does not have a direct connection to carol. data can still flow between alice and carol, but it will be piped through their mutual connection to bob. the mesh will use the most efficient route between users, and we know by the triangle inequality a direct connection will be fastest.

you should tell WASTE to automatically try connecting to a list of ip addresses when it starts. in (preferences > chat > perform), use "/connect host 12.34.56.78:1337", no quotes, for each ip of friends in the mesh.


4. share..

pick some folders, any folders (preferences > file sharing > sending). your friends will be able to browse the contents of these folders, wantonly sampling their delectable bits. those gluttons.


5. ..and enjoy.

now your friends can see just how refined your taste in digital goods really is, and you theirs, and the rogue wombats are altogether cut out of the loop.


posted by mAtt @ 22.40 (gmt+0000)
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Friday 13th November 2009

discretion

i beg you to follow me again down the rabbit-hole of my thoughtcrime. in this episode, i argue that at some point far in our future, original creative endeavor will have been exhausted simply because it's all been done.

to illustrate what i mean, take a piano. any piano. then pick a key on that piano and hit it with some amount of force, and hold the note for an arbitrary amount of time. there, you've composed a bit of music. a very simplistic bit of music, but it'll serve.

now repeat the experiment above, but this time adding another tone—either in parallel or in series—again arbitrarily. the complexity of our musical composition has increased by some factor due to the larger number of options (number of piano keys, plus the volume and duration of the incremental tone) we have added with the additional strike.

continue in this manner, evaluating with each additional strike of the keys whether the piece (a) continues to build toward, or (b) has achieved a "sufficiently artistic" (definition t.b.d.) end. if neither, alter something about what you've done or add a new note. if (a), repeat. if (b), halt. see? it's an algorithm.

you must agree with me that there is some theoretical maximum human endurance for absorption—four hours? ish?—of a single musical work, no matter its beauty, and given the limits of the number of keys available on a standard piano (most have just the eighty-eight), of human fingers both in quantity (most have just the ten) and in key-striking speed measured in notes per second (fifty at a sprint? shot in the dark). also, we must assume that to human ears there is neither an uncountably infinite spectrum of volumes (you can't tell the difference between 76.393 dB and 76.394 dB no matter who you are, you pretentious audiophile) nor an uncountably infinite spectrum of tone durations (ibid., 38.08 ms and 38.09 ms).

if you grant me my assumptions, it follows that the theoretical number of works of music that can be composed is countable, which is to say, given a sufficiently long amount of time and a sufficiently large amount of humans willing to slog through them, we'll write them all. sooner or later, any interesting tune you can hum will have already been composed, and you'll be in violation of someone's copyright.


posted by mAtt @ 21.02 (gmt+0000)
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Sunday 1st February 2009

circular bowl

1. the super bowl draws millions of television viewers worldwide each year
2. its production is lavish in the extreme, its commercials titillating and overpriced, and everything surrounding it is hyped ad nauseum

1 because 2; 2 because 1. thank a marketer near you.


posted by mAtt @ 12.57 (gmt+0000)
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Sunday 11th January 2009

the annual company christmas party

ahem. below is a mini-post i had saved back in my insoluble.net days, but had a crisis of conscience (and of employment) about publishing, so it never saw the light of day. it survived The Great Darkness Between The Blogs, and thusly i am able to present it to you now, in all its minimal majesty:

people attending: hundreds
alcohol units consumed: thousands
alcohol units consumed by me: 0.1
alcohol units needed to have enjoyed the band: n
alcohol units needed to kill an adult horse: n+1


posted by mAtt @ 21.05 (gmt+0000)
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Saturday 4th October 2008

there have been a combined 34 confirmed deaths in the space programs of the united states and ussr/russia, of a total of approximately 440 actual or attempted spacefarers:
34/440 = 7.72%

8 of 43 presidents have died while in office (four assassinated in office, and an additional four died in office):
8/43 = 18.6%

dig it: you are more than twice as likely to snuff it as u.s. president than you are if your profession entails being strapped to a jillion gallons of burning rocket fuel and shot at ten kilometers per second into the vacuum of space.


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Saturday 5th July 2008

twelve gallons in an eleven gallon tank. miracle, or lazy department of measurement standards employee? perhaps we will never know.


posted by mAtt @ 12.44 (gmt+0000)
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Thursday 10th April 2008

i can factor prime numbers of arbitrary size

IN MY HEAD


posted by mAtt @ 1.34 (gmt+0000)
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