The Northern Spy: high and low perceptions of technology
TweetFollow Us on Twitter

The Northern Spy: high and low perceptions of technology

By Rick Sutcliffe

High and low perceptions of technology are relative to an individual's “normal.” Just now, the Spy has finished his annual task of pressure washing the house, then putting some water on the squash and cucumber patch.

To someone living in Western society, small engine machines like pressure washers, string trimmers, generators, chain saws, lawn mowers and tractors are low technology--even to a city slicker who may not have heard of, much less used, any of these. Seen in use, all would be obvious and not particularly exciting--except perhaps to three-year-old grandson Gregory who would as, “But how does it work, Grandpa?"

Someone transported from a third world city slum would have less context, and might marvel, but to an Amazon jungle dweller, all would seem indistinguishable from magic--no concept of electricity or tap water, much less of the internal combustion engine, vinyl siding, or lawns. He or she might do well with a bow, however, even understand the utility of a crossbow. But driverless cars? What's a car? Instant messaging? What's that and why do you want to do it? Facebook? What's a book?

Computers, robots, nuclear energy, and space travel were science fiction before WWII, and are now taken for granted. When the Spy first discussed the PIEA (Personal Intelligence Enhancement Appliance) in this space decades ago, his universal database access and communications tool — complete with ear, eye, and throat implants — was dismissed by some as fanciful dreaming.

But the iPhone and its imitators have taken us partway there, and the remaining pieces are coming. Keep in mind, though, that glasses for virtual reality or incorporating a computer monitor screen are baby steps. These interface functions will eventually be built-in to contacts or replacement eye lenses. A throat mic and wireless ear bud would complete the interface.

'Course that combination too is but a step along the way to a direct brain implant/interface. Who needs to press buttons to find the tangent of twenty-two decimal four eight radians to forty decimal places when the very thought triggers the implanted MPU and the answer appears in both biological memory and simulated eyesight (no special lens needed.) Read my novels.

Hacker attacks become more common and more debilitating as time goes by, and the black hats' technological know-how catches up to or surpasses that of the white and grey hats'. Just as in the 19770s, the Spy thought it futile to copy protect disks because anything that could be loaded into a computer in the clear could be read and disassembled in the clear; now file and message encryption offers more value to the bad guys than to the upright citizen.

See, another of the Spy’s old predictions was that we will gradually have to get used to the idea that privacy is becoming extinct. Anything that can be encrypted can be decrypted--and quantum computing at least (even if not some lower the first) will render decryption a trivial task. Anything that can be recorded, entered in a database, or sent as a message can be read. (Mail is not private.) On the one hand, little sister will be able to see what big brother is doing, and OTOH, nothing little brother does will be hidden from anyone else. Get used to it.

But returning to the stated topic, how do we protect ourselves from vandals who deface websites, steal identities, slander us to the online public, or put their stick electronic fingers into the folds of our virtual wallets?

In the long run, the Spy suspects we cannot. Just as giving an junkie free drugs and "safe" injections never permanently reduces but only postpones potentially fatal harm (and likewise giving power to people who abuse authority results in them abusing it even more when they think they have it), so the only real solutions are to change the person's habits, so also in the long run, changing vandals' behaviour is the only reasonable goal.

But since Western "liberal" society has long eschewed the idea of a universally applicable morality, "doing the right thing" and "not doing the wrong thing" has come to have little meaning for most people, except when framed as pleasure or monetary self-interest. What to do?
Some immediate low-tech defensive responses are easy. Hang up on the phisher whose robocall begins "Our records show you have not updated your free Google account" or the heavily accented human voice whose spiel begins "This is the technical department. Your Windows machine needs…", "or "Your granddaughter was arrested during her European trip and needs bail money...".

Junk and use your server control panel to permanently block unknown and unsolicited senders of mail that purport to offer products or services online, or that want to renew your domains or hosting, but are not from your provider, accept attachments only when you have asked for them (or not at all), and keep image and remote content display in email turned off.

Never surf the dark web. Its sites can be counted on to be infected with malware. Hacked? Anyone's web site can be hacked once, but if it happens twice change hosts because yours is not learning.

In other words, in the short term, we and our Internet providers need to be more defensive--employ firewalls, harden servers, be more deliberate about password security, collect, distribute, and ban the addresses of vandals from our servers, use Cloud Linux to isolate accounts on shared servers, accept mail only from addresses with a valid reverse DNS record, and...well, the list is a long one.

In the longer term, all this is insufficient. There are high-tech ways to crack into almost anything, as some of the more sophisticated recent attacks have clearly shown. Lacking much concern about the next life's consequences, society needs to define and deploy powerful disincentives in this life to deter vandals.

A central clearing house of personal information on phishing attempts with sufficiently detailed information on company and individual perpetrators and a total ban on their Internet use might serve--after all, since the day is coming when it will be impossible to keep the identity of vandals secret, and even changing electronic identities will (eventually) not help the perps.

Hey, if we are heading for total loss of privacy, perhaps it can be turned to good use. One way of achieving this would be to require biometric sign-on to a brand new Internet, while cancelling the old one. Are there better solutions out there?

Further on implanted devices

The Spy notes that Wisconsin-based Three Square Market is offering RFID implants into the hands of employees for making on-site purchases, logging in to computers, and using the copier. These could also be used to open suitably equipped doors (as in many card lock systems already in use), and may have wider commercial applications. Three Square Market reports that about 50 employees have accepted.

Well…no. This could be useful for such very low security/risk purposes, but is entirely unsuitable for secure or mission critical access. Quite apart from the fact that RFID is hackable with readily available tools, the kind of people who want illicit access to secure facilities would have little hesitation in stealing such chips, even with hand still attached. Biometrics with a double confirmation (say, fingerprint and retina) would be better; a fast DNA analyzer better still. But there are undoubtedly ways to hack both.

Enom/TuCows sent out an apologetic e-mail recently over their recent dreadful service, promising to do better. No improvement as yet. The Spy's last trouble ticket was not answered for three weeks, and the reply was a non-answer that solved nothing. Completely unacceptable to wait more than one day in this business.

Meanwhile his web hosting and name service companies are losing customers over this ridiculous fiasco. Something has to give. Lack of properly deployed low technology (knowledgeable service reps giving real answers) is killing a high-tech giant's reputation. Perhaps the whole mess needs to be taken over by people who know what they are doing.

--The Northern Spyhack voting machines,

Opinions expressed here are entirely the author's own, and no endorsement is implied by any community or organization to which he may be attached. Rick Sutcliffe, (a. k. a. The Northern Spy) is professor of Computing Science and Mathematics at Canada's Trinity Western University. He has been involved as a member of or consultant with the boards of several organizations, and participated in developing industry standards at the national and international level.

He is a co-author of the Modula-2 programming language R10 dialect. He is a long time technology author and has written two textbooks and ten alternate history SF novels, one named best ePublished SF novel for 2003. His columns have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers (paper and online), and he's a regular speaker at churches, schools, academic meetings, and conferences. He and his wife Joyce have lived in the Aldergrove/Bradner area of B.C. since 1972.

Want to discuss this and other Northern Spy columns or Rick's SF? Check out the Arjay blog at http://www.arjay.bc.ca/blog/

URLs for Rick Sutcliffe's Arjay Enterprises:

The Northern Spy Home Page: http: //www. TheNorthernSpy. com
opundo : http: //opundo. com
Sheaves Christian Resources : http: //sheaves. org
WebNameHost : http: //www. WebNameHost. net
WebNameSource : http: //www. WebNameSource. net
nameman : http: //nameman. net

General URLs for Rick Sutcliffe's Books:
Author Site: http: //www. arjay. ca
Publisher's Site: http: //www. writers-exchange. com/Richard-Sutcliffe. html
The Fourth Civilization--Ethics, Society, and Technology (4th 2003 ed. ): http: //www. arjay. bc. ca/EthTech/Text/index. html

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

djay Pro 2.0.6 - Transform your Mac into...
djay Pro provides a complete toolkit for performing DJs. Its unique modern interface is built around a sophisticated integration with iTunes and Spotify, giving you instant access to millions of... Read more
calibre 3.28.0 - Complete e-book library...
Calibre is a complete e-book library manager. Organize your collection, convert your books to multiple formats, and sync with all of your devices. Let Calibre be your multi-tasking digital librarian... Read more
Tweetbot 3.0.6 - Popular Twitter client.
Tweetbot is a full-featured OS X Twitter client with a lot of personality. Whether it's the meticulously-crafted interface, sounds and animation, or features like multiple timelines and column views... Read more
Amazon Chime 4.16.6291 - Amazon-based co...
Amazon Chime is a communications service that transforms online meetings with a secure, easy-to-use application that you can trust. Amazon Chime works seamlessly across your devices so that you can... Read more
Arq 5.12.2 - Online backup to Google Dri...
Arq is super-easy online backup for Mac and Windows computers. Back up to your own cloud account (Amazon Cloud Drive, Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Cloud Storage, any S3-compatible server... Read more
iStat Menus 6.20 - Monitor your system r...
iStat Menus lets you monitor your system right from the menubar. Included are 8 menu extras that let you monitor every aspect of your system. Features CPU -- Monitor cpu usage. 7 display modes,... Read more
Audio Hijack 3.5.2 - Record and enhance...
Audio Hijack (was Audio Hijack Pro) drastically changes the way you use audio on your computer, giving you the freedom to listen to audio when you want and how you want. Record and enhance any audio... Read more
CleanMyMac 3.9.7 - $39.95
CleanMyMac makes space for the things you love. Sporting a range of ingenious new features, CleanMyMac lets you safely and intelligently scan and clean your entire system, delete large, unused files... Read more
Safari Technology Preview 12.0 - The new...
Safari Technology Preview contains the most recent additions and improvements to WebKit and the latest advances in Safari web technologies. And once installed, you will receive notifications of... Read more
Transmit 5.1.5 - Excellent FTP/SFTP clie...
Transmit is an excellent FTP (file transfer protocol), SFTP, S3 (Amazon.com file hosting) and iDisk/WebDAV client that allows you to upload, download, and delete files over the internet. With the... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Alto's Odyssey shows how mobile seq...
The very best games mix together an effortless class and a compulsion loop that keeps you playing until your eyes are sore, your fingers are chafed, and you can't remember the last time you saw any sun other than a digital one. And that's why Alto'... | Read more »
Knights Chronicle guide - Multiplayer du...
We’ve talked quite a bit about building your best team for PvP in Knights Chronicle, but there always comes a time in the game where you need to turn to other players for help. Multiplayer dungeons can be some of the hardest missions in the entire... | Read more »
Which of these is the best mobile game t...
Every Thursday here at 148Apps we like to give you a choice. We pick what we think are the five best games that have come out this week, and let you vote to crown one of them the 148Apps game of the week. And since it's Thursday today, that's... | Read more »
What mobile games are we looking forward...
2018 has been a pretty great year on mobile already, but since it’s half over, we wanted to take a look at all the awesome stuff we have to look forward to. Earlier this month, Harry already laid out his picks for games that he think will make... | Read more »
How mobile gaming might change in the ne...
We've already had a look at the ways we've seen mobile gaming change in the first six months of 2018, so now it's time to have a look forward, into our digital crystal balls, and ponder what we'd like to see more of in the next six months of the... | Read more »
Everything you need to know to win in Wa...
Waves is sort of like an over-the-shoulder version of Tiny Wings. Although it manages to be much simpler than Tiny Wings, which is really saying something. Or, at least, it's simpler in its execution. That doesn't mean there aren't hints and tips... | Read more »
This week's game of the week award...
Every week here at 148Apps we award a game with the title of game of the week. We might pick the five games you can choose from, but it's up to you which of them walks away with the title. And this week it's been a pretty darn close-run thing. But... | Read more »
Everything you need to know to win in Bl...
Block Balls is another in Voodoo's massive line-up of horribly simple, horribly addictive arcade games. It's all about smashing blocks with a cannon, a bit like a mix between Angry Birds and a Zerg rush. And while it's easy enough to pick up and... | Read more »
Fortnite, PUBG, and Shadowgun Legends -...
This month, we're looking back at the first half of 2018, looking at the good, the bad, and everything in between. In this piece we're having a think about the big changes that have happened in mobile gaming over the past six months, and what they... | Read more »
Knights Chronicle guide - How to make th...
The best thing about Knights Chronicle is how friendly it is to players that don’t want to spend any money on it. Although it’s surface structure looks like a ton of stingy moves trying to squeeze money out of players, there are a ton of free... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Details of Apple’s sales tax holiday for 2018...
Apple is participating in the 2018 sales tax holiday again this year. In certain states on certain days customers are eligible to save on the sales tax for items purchased on Apple’s online store.... Read more
Pay as little as $149 for a new Apple Watch S...
Walmart has Series I Apple Watches on sale for $100 off MSRP on their online store. Sale prices for online orders only, in-store prices may vary. Choose free home shipping, or free in-store pickup (... Read more
Clearance 2017 15″ 2.8GHz Touch Bar MacBook P...
Musician’s Friend has clearance 2017 15″ 2.8GHz Space Gray Touch Bar MacBook Pros available for $1999 including free shipping. Their price represents a $400 price drop from Apple’s original $2399... Read more
20% off Apple products on eBay through the 21...
eBay will take 20% off select Apple products ($50 max) through July 21st with coupon code PRIMO, and can be used on Apple computers, iPhones, iPads, and accessories. Details are available on eBay... Read more
Apple restocks refurbished clearance 9.7″ iPa...
Apple has clearance Certified Refurbished 2017 9.7″ iPads available starting at $239. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each iPad, and shipping is free: – 9″ 32GB WiFi iPad: $239 – 9″ 128GB... Read more
Snag a clearance 2017 13″ Touch Bar MacBook P...
B&H Photo has clearance 2017 13″ Touch Bar MacBook Pros available for up to $250 off original MSRP. B&H charges sales tax in NY & NJ only, and shipping is free. The following models are... Read more
Updated Apple MacBook Price Trackers
We’ve updated our Apple award-winning MacBook Price Trackers with the latest information on prices, deals, sales, sales tax, build-to-order options and more for Apple’s MacBook line of laptops,... Read more
Pay as little as $469 for an iPad Pro with th...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2016 9.7″ iPad Pros available starting at $469. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: – 32GB 9″ iPad Pro WiFi: $469 original... Read more
See all of B&H’s Mac sales on this page w...
B&H Photo is competing with Amazon Prime by offering new Apple Macs for up to $1000 off MSRP today. Prices start at $399 for Mac minis and range up to $2899 for high-end MacBook Pros. Check out... Read more
The is the cheapest new Apple MacBook availab...
Focus Camera has the 2017 13″ 1.8GHz/128GB Apple MacBook Air (model number MQD32LL/A) on sale today for $779 including free shipping. Their price is $220 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available... Read more

Jobs Board

Writer, Today at *Apple* - Apple (United St...
# Writer, Today at Apple Job Number: 114067511 Santa Clara Valley, California, United States Posted: 19-Jul-2018 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** Apple is in Read more
*Apple* Specialist - Retail Customer Service...
Job Summary As an Apple Specialist, you help create the energy and excitement around Apple products, providing the right solutions and getting products into Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* - Part Time Reseller Specialist - Ap...
…in a reseller store, you help create the energy and excitement around Apple products, providing the right solutions and getting products into customers' hands. You Read more
*Apple* - Technical Specialist - Apple, Inc....
…customers purchase our products, you're the one who helps them get more out of their new Apple technology. Your day in the Apple Store is filled with a range of Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.