Field of Dishonor | David Weber

Field of Dishonor | David Weber

I’ve now finished David Weber’s Field of Dishonor (Honor Harrington), the fourth book of the Honor Harrington series. I bought it on Audible, so, obviously this is an audiobook. To be clear, I do not believe this is the same as reading. I call it listening.

I wanted to give this a try and see how it goes, to see if I get the same satisfaction out of listening as I do reading. I used the promo link from the TWiT network show iPad Today and received the book for free, plus the first 3 months subscription for $7.95. After that it goes up to $14.95 per month and can cancel at any time.

It took a total of 8 hours and 32 minutes to listen to it, split between two days.

For the first couple of hours I listened at normal speed. Then I discovered that the Audible app can do various playback speeds up to 3x. I tried it at 3x and actually found it easier to keep my mind focused and not drift off into other thoughts. Perhaps at the increased speed, it required my mind be extra focused so as not to miss anything. Plus it has the added benefit of finishing the book much sooner.

Field of Dishonor was another great installment of the Honor Harrington series.

It was sad when Paul was killed just to hurt Honor before she was to be killed. It took so much for her to let anyone into her heart and her life, and Paul was the only one she ever did and fell in love with him. He saw a side of her that no one else ever saw. All anyone knew of Honor was her cold, even keel of command and poise under pressure during combat. Paul, knew her differently, as a woman to love and enjoy life with.

It hurt to see Honor hurt in such a way as to have Paul’s life taken from him, and subsequently from her.

Lord Paval Young was the biggest coward and couldn’t accept responsibility for all his previous actions and when burned for his latest, had to seek revenge on Honor but had to hurt her in the worst possible way first.

It was fitting of his cowardice to cheat in the duel at the end and begin firing before he was supposed to, though it mattered not as he was a poor shot, and nerve-wracked, while Honor was sharp and quick and still took him down after being hit.

What a great book.

The NSA’s Prism Program

The NSA’s Prism Program

On the podcast Security Now, episode 408, “The State of Surveillance from TWiT.tv, Steve Gibson detailed how the NSA is obtaining data and how companies themselves are not participating or cooperating with them outside of court orders and requests.

Basically, they’re tapping into the fiber optic feeds at the ISP level and splitting the light waves off (hence the term Prism) to their own routers and equipment. This is all done upstream of companies like Apple and Google. The NSA is getting that data before it ever makes it’s way to Apple, Google et al…

Skip ahead to about 57:31 to get the technical details of this.

 

[youtube http://youtu.be/fX8CSMPiTs4?t=57m31s]

In the podcast he cited the sources for the information he used and linked to the papers on his Twitter account last week. Here are the URL’s:

http://www.narus.com/images/pdf/Narus_nSYSTEM_brochure.pdf
https://www.eff.org/files/filenode/att/SER_marcus_decl.pdf
https://www.eff.org/files/filenode/att/SER_klein_decl.pdf
http://cryptome.org/scott-marcus.pdf
http://cryptome.org/klein-decl.htm
https://www.eff.org/files/filenode/att/presskit/ATT_onepager.pdf

About SSL and Data Gathering

SSL encrypts, for example, my Gmail session between my web browser and Google’s server. Once I send an email to someone and it passes through Gmail’s servers and back out on it’s way to whom I’ve sent it, it’s carried over the SMTP protocol which is not encrypted. The email travels unencrypted over the Internet to another ISP and routed to say AOL and then the person whom I sent the email to. The NSA is capturing that email, unencrypted as it’s carried via SMTP over the open Internet -after it left Google’s servers and before it reached AOL.

The only way to combat this is to encrypt the contents of your message with PGP before clicking send. You must encrypt it locally and ensure the person receiving the email (the intended recipient) has the proper public key to decrypt it. If done this way, the email is still sent unencrypted over the Internet and SMTP, but the contents of the email is still encrypted (because you did it locally with PGP) and thus the NSA cannot read it. They can capture it, but cannot read it.

The fancy light splitting is just a simple method of splitting one signal into two identical signals. One signal goes it’s intended route to Google and the second signal goes to an unintended destination, the NSA. Since these communications are done over fiber-optics, it’s data sent via light-waves and thus the terms light splitting and Prism, because as we know from high school science, a prism splits light.

Here is a diagram from the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) showing how it’s working.

 

PGP (Pretty Good Privacy)

For those interested in how PGP and cryptograpghy works, here is a series on it from the podcast Security Now done in 2006. These are the MP3 audio files linked.

Page URL: https://www.grc.com/sn/past/2006.htm

It’s been a while since I’ve listened to these and I may do so again for a refresher. It’s very interesting and detailed information on this subject.

PGP when used properly is virtually un-crackable; that doesn’t stop the NSA from gathering the data and storing it though.

Since most of us don’t use PGP, for various reasons, there is plenty of un-encrypted data flowing through ISP’s that is being gathered and easily analyzed.

However, If PGP is being used, one can be about as certain as gravity that the data is protected. PGP has been pounded on for years by all the “experts,” and it’s never been broken. However, anything is possible and I’d say there is a 99.999999% certainty that it’s safe.

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