Two items for today, illegal guns and random number generators. Both Internet related.
Yes, the Internet is indeed disrupting everything. Including street hazards like enabling the network of Bird Scooters that use web billing and GPS location sensing. If you haven’t been in close and disastrous contact yet with one of these motorized menaces either you are very lucky or they haven’t yet arrived in your community.
Random Number generators are more benign. They are the front line of most computer security. They protect you from snoopers and hackers. Now computers all on their own are able to generate random numbers, sort of like flipping a coin thousands of time. But there is still an algorithm in there somewhere, a formula hidden in the program that spits out what’s called a pseudorandom number. Looks random, tastes random, acts random, but really isn’t. So it’s vulnerable.
The web security company Cloudflare has cured this vulnerability by filming hundreds of Lava Lamps. Ever stared at one of these ever-changing pattern generating hypnotic cones? For hours? Never repeats, totally unpredictable, and idea source of randomness. Cloudflare incorporates these unpredictable patterns into unbreakable passwords.
How’s that for a totally useless factoid? Useful the next time you are strapped for a conversation topic at a party.
Next, illegal guns. Thanks to the Internet you can now purchase enough gun parts to assemble a complete gun, once you drill a few additional holes. Seems that you can legally buy a lower receiver, sometimes called an 80% receiver. The seller doesn’t not have to be a registered gun dealer because he isn’t selling guns.
Next you drill a few holes in the lower receiver. Add a barrel, trigger mechanism, stock and upper receiver. Where did you get these additional parts? Over the Internet, of course. You now have a complete gun, except it doesn’t have a serial number and is untraceable.
Of course dealing in unregistered guns is completely illegal. But do we have to make it that easy for the bad guys?
Ready for more? Do you remember George Orwell’s famous book, Nineteen Eighty-Four? It describes a future where everyone is under constant surveillance. It’s a science fiction novel about a totalitarian society, published in 1949. There have been two movies and many permanent additions to the language, like “Orwellian” and “Big Brother is Watching You”. This amazing book is a masterpiece, well worth reading and extraordinarily depressing. Today’s surveillance technology makes it seem tame.
Speaking of books, have you checked out The Happiness Handbook? Right now you can get the Kindle version for practically nothing.