Hidden Drawers in Software

Huawei has been in the news again recently, with its CFO detained over concerns about a possible sanctions violation. The larger context is what makes that situation interesting: beyond simple concerns about trafficking with Iran, the US government has been warning US telecommunication companies and allied governments that Huawei equipment is not trustworthy. There are…

Read More

Do We Think Too Highly of Programming?

Everyone seems to agree that our likely future includes more technology. Accordingly, everyone seems to agree that we need more programmers. You can teach yourself programming via online courses, and there are various earnest organizations keen to help members of underrepresented groups become programmers. Everyone, it seems, should be learning to program. It’s hard to…

Read More

Air gaps and backups

WIRED recently published an article about the NotPetya cyberattack. In addition to being an interesting story in its own right, the article is a handy reminder of the importance of “air gaps” in designing a backup system to survive disaster. An air gap is a deliberate break in the network connectivity of a complex system…

Read More

Quantum Blockchain

At a recent book event, I was asked an interesting question: how would blockchain systems be affected if quantum computing becomes a practical reality? I think it’s fun to speculate about this, but I want to do so without getting bogged down in two very hard issues: (1) Is quantum computing likely to become a…

Read More

Mr. Kafka, Your Ad Will Be Reviewed Shortly

or My Book Can’t Be Advertised on Facebook: An Anecdote of Why We Can’t Trust Facebook to Police Content I have recently joined a select group of people whose ads are too dangerous for Facebook to publish. This development came as a surprise to me, since I’m an author with a newly-published book about computer…

Read More

Steal This Book!

Recently, I had an unexpected endorsement (sort of) for my book. At the Museum of Fine Arts Boston (MFA), the MFA Associates are committed volunteers who serve as guides or floral designers. The Associates have a small back office where they can take breaks, stuff envelopes, or read – the office has two shelves of…

Read More

Buying a Signed Book

Sometimes people ask me about my book tour. I guess that a lot of us have a similar half-formed mental image: the newly-published author is being dragged around the country (or around the world) to promote the new book at lots of bookstore events. The good news / bad news for me is that I’m…

Read More

Security and Breaking Old Stuff

I recently replaced our home wireless network with an eero mesh. I wanted to get something that worked better than the old configuration, and I wanted to replace the old network without anyone else in the house noticing. So I wanted to have no changes of network names, passwords, or configurations. I figured I should…

Read More

Dummies and Geniuses

It’s been interesting to hear a common reaction when I describe my book “Bits to Bitcoin.” My usual pitch is that it’s an accessible guide to operating systems, networks, and security for the general reader. The listener often responds with something like “oh, so it’s a Dummies book,” and I say some version of, “Well,…

Read More

Krugman and “Men with Guns”

Paul Krugman recently used his New York Times opinion column to explain why he’s a cryptocurrency skeptic. I mostly agree with his overall conclusion, and much of what he says is sensible – but one part of his analysis seems so odd that I wonder whether he really meant it. That’s the part where he…

Read More