Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for February 11th, 2015

This Encryption Tool Is So Secret It Hides the Fact It Even Exists

with one comment

Clever idea, reported by Jason Koebler in Motherboard:

For all the talk of data encryption on cell phones lately, there’s one part that’s been overlooked: How is law enforcement going to decrypt files they don’t know exist in the first place?

That’s the impetus behind DroidStealth, a new Android app that not only encrypts your data, but ​hides its existence on your phone altogether.

The program works by storing your encrypted files in a hidden folder it creates. The program itself can be opened by entering a pin number of any length using your smartphone’s dialer program, as if you were making a phone call. A separate encryption key is required to decrypt your files.

The program can also be set up as an invisible widget on your phone’s home screen, which must be tapped five times before it’ll pop up. It can also masquerade as another app, which sits in the app folder as any other app would. The team considered several other disguise techniques, such as hiding the app within a flashlight program.

It’s worth pointing out before we get too far into this that DroidStealth is not going to hold up to an intense investigation from the FBI or other law enforcement agency. It’s very difficult to hide large caches of files, and it’s difficult to completely hide the fact that the program exists on the phone to someone who is doing an entire stripdown of the phone, as law enforcement would presumably do if you were arrested for a crime.

But for a “casual search,” say if you’re merely harassed by the police, or if you lose your phone and some stranger wants to rifle through it, or you’re a protester in a country that has terrible free speech laws, then DroidStealth seems like a godsend. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

11 February 2015 at 11:35 am

Posted in Daily life, Software

US police: A danger to others

leave a comment »

From Radley Balko’s morning links today in the Washington Post:

  • An Indian grandfather visiting his family in Alabama has a “language barrier” problem with local police and ends up in the hospital, partially paralyzed. The police department has not identified the officers involved.

More at the link.

Written by Leisureguy

11 February 2015 at 11:32 am

Posted in Law Enforcement

A peculiar police story of a shooting

leave a comment »

An off-duty police officer in Baltimore shot (and wounded, but did not kill) a 14-year-old boy playing in a vacant apartment building. From the story by Jessica Anderson in the Baltimore Sun:

Police said two off-duty officers were working at the Woodridge apartment complex, in the 9600 block of Southall Road, when they went to investigate a report of people inside a vacant apartment. According to police, one of the officers said he saw someone come out on the balcony. He told police that he “was pointing the weapon in the direction of the balcony” when “his weapon discharged accidentally,” the department said in a statement.

Police spokesman Cpl. John Wachter said the teen was hit in the shoulder. He was taken to Johns Hopkins Hospital, and has been released, according to a hospital spokesperson. The boy’s family could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

This story is quite peculiar. Do officers normally use their guns to point at people—that is, merely to point them out? I thought guns were pointed at people only if you had some intent to shoot them.

And then the gun just went off? The officer did not pull the trigger, but was simply holding the gun (to point out the boy) and suddenly, for no reason, the gun discharged? I wish I knew the model of the gun, because that is obviously one very unsafe firearm. Guns that spontaneously discharge are incredibly dangerous.

Or maybe the officer is simply lying.

Written by Leisureguy

11 February 2015 at 11:30 am

Posted in Law Enforcement

Meme evolution: Violins

leave a comment »

Michael Byrne has an interesting post at Motherboard on the evolution of the violin meme. It begins:

To understand a violin is to understand the physics of sound. And, given that the physics of sound look an awful lot like the physics of wave phenomena in general, to understand the violin is to understand some of the deepest physics in our world.

So it shouldn’t be very surprising to learn that MIT researchers—funded by the US Navy—are diligently at work measuring and ​analyzing the acoustic properties of Cremonese-era violins, instruments hailing from what’s considered to be the “golden era” of violin-making that can fetch millions of dollars apiece. The results of these efforts, a quantitative characterization of the acoustic power efficiency of centuries-old wooden boxes, are to be published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society: A.

The conclusion is unexpected. Most likely, the key improvements in violin design made during the era came as accidents. The instrument’s development can then be looked at as an evolutionary process: some irregularity or slip in the process of carving out the body of a violin just worked better, and so it persisted. A mistake (mutation) becomes a feature.

The weird thing is that violins have always pretty much looked like violins and a cheap plywood knockoff bought off eBay tomorrow will have the same basic characteristics, and even most of the same fine characteristics, as a Stradivarius. The enormous differences in sound quality come in the superfine (relatively) subtleties of an instrument, and this is where things get interesting.

Continue reading.

Note the sentence I emphasized above. The conclusion is exactly the opposite of “unexpected.” Indeed, the conclusion is exactly in accordance with meme evolution as described by Richard Dawkins in Chapter 11 of The Selfish Gene. Take a look at that chapter sometime. Perhaps Michael Byrne will also read it.

Written by Leisureguy

11 February 2015 at 10:33 am

Posted in Memes

Otoko Organics, Simpson Chubby 1, and #102

with 4 comments

SOTD 11 Feb 2015

Extremely nice shave today. This tub of Otoko Organics is almost empty—I’m lathering using a rim of soap that remains around the bottom corner—but I have a spare tub not yet used. I get a very nice lather from this soap, and the #102 slant did its usual great job. It really is an extremely comfortable razor.

A small splash of Italian Stallion aftershave milk, and the convalescence continues.

Written by Leisureguy

11 February 2015 at 10:21 am

Posted in Shaving

%d bloggers like this: