======================================================================= Cybernetics in the 3rd Millennium (C3M) Volume 13 Number 1, Nov. 2016 Alan B. Scrivener — www.well.com/user/absmailto:abs@well.com ========================================================================
illustration from Unspy blog (unspy.wordpress.com/tag/fourth-amendment/)
In this issue:

Short Subjects

Fractured Flickers "Fractured Flickers" letterhead with Theda Bara (artofjayward.blogspot.com/2015/06/fractured-flickers.html)
  • Nora Bateson's new book Nora Bateson book On October 23, 2016 a new book by Nora Bateson, daughter of Gregory Bateson, became available on Amazon: "Small Arcs of Larger Circles: Framing Through Other Patterns." ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1909470961/hip-20 ) She also has a blog at: norabateson.wordpress.com/ and is on Facebook.
  • Systems, Man,and Cybernetics 2017 The 2017 IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics (SMC2017) will be held at the Banff Springs Resort, Banff, Alberta, Canada, 01 Oct - 04 Oct 2017. Abstract submission deadline: 01 Apr 2017. ( www.ieee.org/conferences_events/conferences/conferencedetails/index.html?Conf_ID=34148 )
  • System Dynamics Society 2017 The 35th International Conference of the System Dynamics Society will be held at Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, 16 July - 20 July 2017. "2017 marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of the field of System Dynamics. It is thus fitting that we hold the 60th anniversary conference in Cambridge, next to the MIT campus where Jay Forrester developed the field." ( conference.systemdynamics.org/ ) Jay Forrester NY Times photo (Note: in the few weeks since I typed the above, Dr. Forrester passed away. www.nytimes.com/2016/11/18/technology/jay-forrester-dead.html?_r=0 I will have more to say about this remarkable man in an upcoming 'zine.)

An Update on Uncrackable Encryption for the Masses

illustration for "What Is Encryption?" from wiseGEEK ( www.wisegeek.com/what-is-encryption.htm )
"The new world of the internet, abstracted from the old world of brute atoms, longed for independence. But states and their friends moved to control our new world -- by controlling its physical underpinnings. The state, like an army around an oil well, or a customs agent extracting bribes at the border, would soon learn to leverage its control of physical space to gain control over our platonic realm... The state would leech into the veins and arteries of our new societies, gobbling up every relationship expressed or communicated, every web page read, every message sent and every thought googled, and then store this knowledge, billions of interceptions a day, undreamed of power, in vast top secret warehouses, forever. It would go on to mine and mine again this treasure, the collective private intellectual output of humanity, with ever more sophisticated search and pattern finding algorithms... And then the state would reflect what it had learned back into the physical world, to start wars, to target drones, to manipulate UN committees and trade deals, and to do favors for its vast connected network of industries, insiders and cronies. But we discovered something. Our one hope against total domination. A hope that with courage, insight and solidarity we could use to resist. A strange property of the physical universe that we live in. The universe believes in encryption. It is easier to encrypt information than it is to decrypt it. We saw we could use this strange property to create the laws of a new world. To abstract away our new platonic realm from its base underpinnings of satellites, undersea cables and their controllers. To fortify our space behind a cryptographic veil. To create new lands barred to those who control physical reality, because to follow us into them would require infinite resources. And in this manner to declare independence." — Julian Assange (2012) "Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet" ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1939293006/hip-20 )
My buddy Wayne H. and I have been making progress on the vision of affordable, available technology for anyone to secure their emails with encryption which is provably, mathematically, impossible to crack. For the initial description see my article "Uncrackable Encryption for the Masses" in C3M v. 12 n. 1, July 2015. ( www.well.com/user/abs/Cyb/archive/c3m_1201.html#sec_1 )


Dilbert cartoon Dilbert cartoon ( https://www.random.org/analysis/ )
"Any one who considers arithmetical methods of producing random digits is, of course, in a state of sin." — John von Neumann
The first step in the workflow was generating the random bits. I already had a prototype encryption program, but no good way to generate keys for it. I consulted the Wikipedia page on hardware random number generators, ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hardware_random_number_generator ) and then ordered a gizmo called a FST-01 for testing, for about $35 from a supplier called Seeed. ( www.seeedstudio.com/ )

The Hardware Problem

My first surprise came when I got the tracking number and saw it was shipping from China, and for a while it was held up in customs. This was frustrating for the time lost, but also because I wanted something made domestically for the final product, to avoid any entanglements with munitions export rules. The next surprise came when, shortly before the unit arrived, I discovered that my trusty Linux system (which was now a teenager) had a hard drive failure. Oh, drat. It looked like that was the easiest system to test on. ( www.gniibe.org/FST-01/q_and_a/neug-standalone-device.html ) Meanwhile, I read some on-line documentation and got thoroughly confused. ( wiki.seeedstudio.com/wiki/FST-01 ) This is when I called up my buddy Wayne H., who is a very talented hardware guy, and asked him for help. I told him the docs looked like they were describing how they built the unit, not how I was supposed to use it. He came to the rescue. He figured out that the thingy I'd bought needed to be programmed with firmware called NeuG, and mine wasn't. ( www.gniibe.org/memo/development/gnuk/rng/neug.html ) My options were to buy another SFT-01 with the NeuG firmware pre-installed (abut $50), or buy a gizmo to program mine (much more expensive), or find another solution. Well, I didn't like the idea of there being a little computer program running on my gizmo, because that's one more security hole, so I thought it about it. Meanwhile, independently, Wayne had been experimenting with building his own circuits for generating random numbers, using various recipes on the internet. The noisy diode-based solutions kept generating 60-cycle hum, which is all around us due to our power grid. He realized he needed to "tune out" the signals he didn't want. Then he hit on an amazingly simple idea. He took a cheap transistor radio, tuned it between stations so it made that sound ("ffffff") which is close to white noise, and plugged it into the audio input jack of his laptop. His other brainstorm was that to "whiten" the data (make the noise whiter by making the number of zeros and ones about even) he should apply the same algorithms done by the NeuG code in the SFT-01 device: a Cyclic Redundancy Check algorithm called CRC32, ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyclic_redundancy_check ) followed by a "hash" algorithm called SHA-256. ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SHA-2 )

Testing for Randomness

The he contacted me and said he had some bits he thought were random, but how could we tell for sure? I went a-Googling to find the answer, and on Stack Overflow ( stackoverflow.com/questions/4027756/random-number-analysis ) I found these answers:
Given a series of randomly generated data how can I figure out how random it actually is? * * * * * * Run --- don't walk --- to a bookstore and buy Knuth's The Art of Computer Programming, volume II, Semi-Numerical Algorithms. Until you read that, you're just flying blind. * * * * * * The DieHarder test battery by Robert G. Brown --- which reimplements and extends the old DIEHARD by Marsaglia et al -- has been wrapped into the R package RDieHarder which you could start with. * * * * * * Edit Also, for the subset of cryptographic tests, the NIST suite (which is included in DieHarder) should be appropriate as that is what it was designed for.
I've known about Knuth's epic multi-volume tome but I've never read it. Searching online, I found that volume two was at the San Diego central library, and I drove downtown to get it. "Art of Computer Programming, Volume 2: Seminumerical Algorithms" (1969) by Donald E. Knuth ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0201896842/hip-20 )

Chi Square

Section 3.3.1 educated me about the Chi-square test. I've heard of it all my adult life, but never quite knew what it was. I thought it had to do with some kind of 4x4 matrix, like a quaternion. Completely wrong. ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chi-squared_distribution ) It actually involves calculating how close a set of numbers is to an average expected distribution, using what looks to me like a Pythagorean distance formula for n dimensions. Surely you recall Pythagoras' theorem, so famous even the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz was familiar with it. As reported in a web page on the Pythagorean Theorem in movies, ( www.regentsprep.org/regents/math/geometry/gp13/TResourcePyth.htm )
After receiving his brain from the wizard, the Scarecrow recites the Pythagorean Theorem incorrectly. He stated, "The sum of the square roots of any two sides of an isosceles triangle is equal to the square root of the remaining side." Oops!
The correct formula is of course

a2 + b2 = c2

or as I write it like a programmer, a^2 + b^2 = c^2 Alternately solving for c we get: c = sqrt(a^2 + b^2) (sqrt is a square root function.) That's the formula for two dimensions, relating sides a, b and c (hypotenuse) of a right triangle.

Pythagorean 2D
So if we have two points, p1 and p1, with coordinates: p1 = {x1, y1} p2 = {x2, y2} the distance between them will be: d = sqrt((x2 - x1)^2 + (y2 - y1)^2) Well, it turns out that you an extend this to three dimensions. If you have two points in 3D with coordinates: p1 = {x1, y1, z1} p2 = {x2, y2, z2}
Pythagorean 3D
3d distance illustration from Pacific Learning Academy ( www.pacificlearningacademy.com/the-3d-pythagorean-theorem ) the distance between them will be: d = sqrt((x2 - x1)^2 + (y2 - y1)^2 + (z2 - z1)^2) Still with me? Because it turns out you can generalize the Pythagorean distance formula to any number of dimensions. Beyond three dimensions you lose the ability to visualize the problem as a physical model, but the math is trivial. This turns out to be useful not only in high-dimension physics like General Relativity, but also in statistics, where n-dimensional coordinates can represent the state of a system or a set of measurements, and the n-dimensional distance means something about how close or similar two such states are. The Chi Square is an example of this. Every possible distribution of events is represented as an n-dimensional point. Knuth used the example of rolling two dice. You may have seen this illustration of the possible outcomes:
distribution of rolls of two dice, from Quora ( www.quora.com/What-is-the-probability-of-getting-a-sum-of-6-if-two-dice-are-thrown ) Out of 36 possible pairings 6 result in a seven being thrown, so the probability is 6/36, or 1/6. For rolling a ten the probability is 3/36, or 1/12. If you roll a pair of dice 144 times ("one gross") the expected distribution is 144*1/6, or 24 rolls of seven, and 144*1/12, or 12 rolls of ten. But in actual practice the numbers will usually be slightly off. The measure of distance between the expected and actual is called Chi, and Chi squared is a number usually called V. I think statisticians use V because it saves them from having to compute a square root at the end, and they can compare V values just as easily. The last step in the Chi Square algorithm is to compute a probability that the observed value of V was generated by a random process. This is the gnarly step, involving computing something called the upper and lower gamma functions. ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamma_distribution ) I decided not to wade into this, since luckily Wolfram Alpha will give me the values for any given distribution, and I only needed to find them once. It told me that for a random string of bytes, each having 256 possible values,
  • the probability that V is less than 226.52 is 10%,
  • the probability that V is less than 239.462 is 25%,
  • the probability that V is less than 254.334 is 50%,
  • the probability that V is less than 269.847 is 75%,
  • the probability that V is less than 284.336 is 90%,
and, conversely,
  • the probability that V is greater than 226.52 is 90%,
  • the probability that V is greater than 239.462 is 75%,
  • the probability that V is greater than 254.334 is 50%,
  • the probability that V is greater than 269.847 is 25%,
  • the probability that V is greater than 284.336 is 10%,
I wrote a program that computed V for a sequence of bytes, and then looked up the probability range in a table of values from Wolfram Alpha. For shorter sequences (about 250 kilobytes) I was getting poor results, but for the longest sequence (10,030,232 bytes, or about 10 megabytes) it was pretty good, with a probability of being the result of a random process being between 25% and 50%, which is as good as it gets with Chi Square tests. I also did a visualization (using background colors of a Table in HTML) and here is one example below. Since I'm showing intermediate values in the algorithm that are normally not analyzed separately, I'm not sure what it means, but it's nice to see something tangible. Each cell represents one possible value of the bytes, from 0 (upper left) to 255 (lower right), showing the square of the difference between the measured value and a perfect distribution; when added together all 256 values give V.
0.105873 1.016770 2.349514 0.160930 0.048088 0.031995 1.186319 0.371175 0.002258 0.503155 0.510348 0.004587 0.317840 0.090642 0.732467 0.279216
0.152926 0.976425 0.681501 0.195828 2.719230 0.034178 0.365045 0.886850 0.504500 0.633880 0.357831 4.972857 0.044156 0.195828 1.628449 0.232318
0.488923 0.917439 1.197349 4.579606 0.109186 0.102611 0.888635 0.363901 0.294434 0.935064 0.106490 0.812361 0.038016 1.089340 0.001472 1.549646
0.052621 3.830560 1.537093 0.030214 0.474895 0.002864 2.960754 0.115966 0.105873 0.174110 0.625861 2.857358 0.741140 1.574904 3.596930 0.000065
0.149732 0.109813 0.706754 0.165009 2.081740 0.007900 0.070599 0.067940 0.137529 0.339929 2.430543 0.165009 3.426532 0.076070 5.090428 1.264605
0.023889 3.009854 0.616405 1.368934 0.371175 0.814070 0.317840 0.048504 0.001472 0.812361 1.333699 0.161691 1.078820 0.462358 0.524886 2.891619
0.944860 0.030214 0.130137 0.064848 0.057813 0.030544 4.236277 1.175339 0.268640 0.879135 1.310463 1.680433 0.917439 0.109813 0.027114 0.130822
0.218823 1.502063 0.004716 1.404630 0.020868 1.600366 2.067187 0.042058 0.015203 0.035712 5.438120 2.978165 0.517591 0.156903 0.345845 0.015203
1.037249 0.503155 0.169139 0.624363 0.295463 5.018023 0.000004 0.706754 0.048088 0.650071 1.651903 0.698285 1.142706 1.262476 1.759940 3.045015
0.043758 1.298922 1.800382 0.009799 0.190555 0.106490 0.776342 0.160930 0.000539 0.045897 0.017797 0.218823 1.285283 2.321527 1.452938 3.873941
1.253268 0.001400 0.165780 0.497349 1.921839 4.302825 0.006206 0.650071 0.177552 3.223882 3.374130 3.281969 0.396206 1.880047 2.349514 0.925319
0.096828 2.049972 0.691442 0.062774 1.333699 0.511702 0.839911 1.004708 0.018050 0.084110 1.600366 0.004048 0.447451 2.110998 0.435285 2.943394
0.045897 0.723845 0.142015 0.345845 0.000296 1.014861 0.072797 0.045897 0.173320 1.219564 0.994605 0.650071 0.090642 2.321527 0.073309 0.084660
0.758639 0.554576 0.577379 0.382416 4.194787 0.060268 0.454236 0.222680 0.062774 8.509263 0.019170 0.316773 0.062774 0.013029 0.045897 0.044156
0.749864 1.097925 0.812361 0.563547 3.191083 0.181835 0.434036 1.465143 0.003321 2.170128 4.972857 0.001110 0.096828 0.000539 2.303281 0.022353
0.119432 1.173286 0.600641 1.110533 0.106490 0.043758 1.811414 0.152926 0.624363 0.099400 0.299942 0.300981 0.674740 0.288977 4.323809 3.333652


V = 241.200881 For comparison, I looked at the Chi Square of a JPEG file, which is generally compressed and so I thought it would be pretty close to random. So wrong. The average V here is off by about ten million per cent, and my table for converting V values to probabilities doesn't go anywhere near high enough to find the probability of it being randomly generated, but it's safe to say it's astronomically low.
163363.071032 15306.006086 12780.926124 11525.105891 15949.899789 11482.355567 14123.528240 8797.118955 16521.561690 13995.075833 6972.468034 14220.862010 9096.786475 12250.437002 13216.702673 2238.414989
15101.857601 10931.692691 10513.685302 12067.871266 8145.367415 1533276.687652 11315.409844 12734.751432 8872.046635 7840.204741 11300.194816 10880.461924 8194.327029 13646.648213 6626.134630 664.202539
12024.124952 10983.043786 10568.248378 7420.651667 7682.640104 9866.897555 10420.626188 4854.395856 10977.689099 5741.835659 1529621.542003 4790.520989 9495.849167 7920.041595 8968.572568 3709.997522
10912.467053 2928.257333 4953.158928 9414.359669 6733.887888 8514.725703 7866.469935 6993.819171 8398.187329 7640.595204 13445.624600 11205.873738 5323.799372 10672.518437 4636.163309 8064.242242
15531.897723 10492.737106 13342.720653 7394.263374 15544.637356 9363.854298 10164.528150 4531.680668 9608.721064 7636.129132 7482.407141 7106.232766 6548.164125 7973.795053 5803.957015 482.281298
9052.974958 9087.041443 6011.328940 3742.438361 3867.891258 1597205.051214 1303.240915 1376852.455518 6619.480876 7750.871703 4959.634545 5972.564357 4835.899665 1223082.508388 3009.558480 175.787262
12097.079605 9151.455168 1366630.149901 4936.629348 5709.355748 6553.127178 6897.571696 11645.008815 13059.729046 3768.743670 10317.597003 5500.481886 8192.476833 7113.126756 10897.525477 1673.545518
12710.543169 3352.401446 5672.348656 8469.518815 15104.369597 12517.706196 1249582.491045 12345.640309 5187.473906 3232.772436 6952.001651 11939.103951 3576.754878 6466.545188 1080.494288 25738.528345
15516.617057 9283.919082 14794.475223 10861.281408 14200.150617 9063.674674 7379.330872 4386.999334 10467.626846 9156.344266 1517977.053155 10019.763104 7899.136106 9772.711035 8598.865199 44.374208
8123.245280 7203.920198 7221.279468 3550.520539 8497.759019 5040.573880 6276.472106 1811.749323 4032.968512 5786.840322 4881.492257 4296.760500 7531.995770 11392.729361 9502.821856 26.668450
13664.562617 9270.137849 14026.528713 6849.275117 9827.344989 5028.971009 4845.143348 1017.933644 7650.425160 4095.516517 1261.519930 1452466.595630 5305.173093 3523.169404 1283743.663606 120.098668
10240.919583 1321500.548382 7813.080070 9227.873777 8522.271883 7004.079310 7595.993234 3785.702873 6269.187101 6552.299872 13804.698248 1237524.574582 3170.319322 7645.956215 5600.989832 1716.813492
9421.302380 15121.959416 9993.182222 4749.581337 4971.157198 1512969.648231 7621.846474 1116.056298 5832.801184 3067.018459 5856.240835 1629.108376 3252.559673 2202.296912 14016.847143 6626.966584
13853.974764 10867.673033 8449.778639 1594.234001 7772.481194 8635.865669 8900.949578 2569.957423 1283164.747241 9612.728750 11203.710085 4910.812426 8395.377801 12416.145789 7758.971737 382.161740
11862.175089 5258.379636 81.032446 2463.828388 3159.969694 1139.394124 450.286098 8078.172659 12094.831556 4597.275860 6167.641203 5106.819469 1266904.564701 8374.788959 9828.358165 4428.388817
5093.681634 1.091121 263.163381 370.071561 3095.383571 1376.558339 6424.698831 3177.228475 7.910981 546.175641 82.511122 774.071353 7807.505564 1703.711181 26661.575878 112452.450271



V = 22841355.047908

Discrete Fourier Transform

I was also worried about the source of the signal — erratic radio waves — having some periodic waves, especially 60-cycle "hum" from our AC electrical system, so I found some Java code to perform a Discrete Fourier Transform (DFT) to sort out the wavelengths. (This is sometimes called a Fast Fourier Transform, or FFT, but that's just to speed up the calculation, and I wasn't using that flavor.) ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discrete_Fourier_transform ) I took each complex result and found its length, so I was looking at amplitude and ignoring phase, and then I set a pixel from black, through grey to white based on the value (ranging from zero to two) and arranged them in a rectangle for 4,096 frequency values. At first I was puzzled that the result looked random, since I was expecting "all frequencies" to be present. Wayne said the same thing. But then I realized if the output were always the same then the input would have to always be the same, i.e. the reverse Fourier Transform to recover the original signal would always give the exact same numbers, and that's the opposite of random. So I came to accept that the frequency distribution looked good. 4096 frequencies as brightness values

Do It Yourself

Once the random bits for the key have been generated, the next step in the workflow is the encoding and decoding of messages. This will be done with a program that we have yet to complete, but we have a working prototype that just does the exclusive or step, and we have tested the encrypting, emailing, and decrypting of files using it. The source code for this prototype is at: www.well.com/user/abs/Crypto/xor.ALL (where it has been for 17 years). Though there is still work for us to do to make this system easy-to-use and seamless from end-to-end, we have tested all the technical steps and see no reason why it wouldn't work. If you are a mathematically-inclined computer programmer (or if you have one available to work for you) there is enough information in the last article and this one for you to implement and use a one-time-pad encryption system with random bits from a radio or other source.


money growing on trees? ( www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/amazon-kickstarter-site/ )
"This rule makes changes to (b)(1)(ii), (b)(1)(iii) and (b)(2) to harmonize with changes to encryption procedures under sections 740.17 and 742.15(b). Paragraph (v) is added to section 734.4(b)(1) to indicate that encryption commodities and software may be considered for de minimis treatment if such products were authorized for export under License Exception ENC after submission of an encryption registration pursuant to section 740.17(b)(1) of the EAR. " — summary of Section 734.4 of the Export Administration Regulations (EAR)
Moving forward here is a partial "to do" list for our project:
  • design and implement a prototype user-friendly software system for generating keys, including writing them in pairs to USB drives along with initialized "map" files for keeping track of key usage
  • design and build a hardware prototype for key generation, based on Raspberry PI, Arduino or a similar small cost system
  • design and implement a prototype user-friendly software system for encoding and decoding messages, as described in the spec in the previous article on this topic, in C3M v. 12 n. 1 (see link above).
  • perform more technical and usability tests, and answer the following questions:
    • Are the bits really random? I still need to get the Dieharder package in the R statistical language running (which turns out to be quite a trick, since I have to compile C source code first), and then perform the NIST test suite which seems to be the gold standard in random number verification. ( csrc.nist.gov/groups/ST/toolkit/rng/documents/SP800-22rev1a.pdf ) I also want to run a Fourier Transform on the raw bits, before the CRC and hash are applied, to see what kind of wave are in the raw audio signal from the AM radio.
    • Can we get people to do it? Everyone I've I talked to who has an opinion says no, the logistics are too much of a hassle. Even as the financial and reputational costs of security breaches continue to rise, people at all levels (users, managers, even government leaders) seem to be resisting all attempts to improve their cybersecurity if it involves any inconvenience. Sigh. But still I persist.
    • Can others crack our encrypted messages? I'm thinking some type of tiger-team effort and/or contest might help settle this. I'm not arrogant enough to think we can solve this by pure analysis.
  • There are a few other miscellaneous things on our task list:
    • Notify the Bureau of Industry and Security According to Wikipedia (and I hope they are giving me the straight dope here) we need to notify the Bureau of Industry and Security, a division of the Department of Commerce, before releasing open-source software for strong encryption. I need to figure out what form to fill out to do this.
    • Post open source code We will probably put the source code for key generation as well as encryption/decryption on GitHub.
    • Explore hardware alternatives to an AM radio Ever the hardware tinkerer, Wayne has gone on to implement a hardware solution that has advantages over the AM radio as a source of noise. He's built a prototype and blogged about it: ( sites.google.com/site/wayneholder/white-noise-for-random-numbers ) This solution also needs testing for randomness. Stay tuned.
    • Kickstarter project As stated previously, we plan at some point to launch a Kickstarter project for moving from the hardware prototype stage to manufacturing turn-key systems for key-generation.
    • Alternatives to USB drives Wayne pointed out that using USB drives to distribute the keys adds a security risk: the drives themselves can be vectors for malware. Ideally what would work seamlessly is a device to emulate a USB drive, but one that delivers the key bytes on demand only once, and then erases them. Possibly a gizmo like the FST-01 but with different microcode could work. Of course there'd have to be some way to get the bits into the device first. More research is needed. If this works it could be our second Kickstarter project.


cyberthief ( www.hackguide4u.com/2010/09/huge-collection-of-hacking-ebooks.html )
"...closing the stable door after the horse has bolted..." — rural American expression
As I've previously mentioned, this plan only secures email in transit. If you want to avoid being hacked like many campaign officials in this last election you have to take other measures. I'm reading Julian Assange's book now (see link above), and I learned that he co-developed a "rubber hose" encryption system for file systems. That means if someone beats you with a rubber hose demanding your encryption key, you can give them a false key which decodes your cyphertext into a false plaintext. The term rubber hose encryption is now a real technical term. ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rubberhose_(file_system) ) In the case of Assange and company's system, it actually secures an entire file system, and with a false key you have it decrypt to a different, innocuous file system. Just recently I learned about another file system encryption system, from a local San Diego company called Fhoosh. ( www.fhoosh.com ) These are types of solutions that can help secure an internal network from malevolent hackers and other bad actors.


the eye in the triangle ( www.pinterest.com/magda1316/illuminati/ )
"These urban myths can be attractors, they pick up little fragments of strangeness from everywhere, after a while nobody can look at the whole thing and believe it all, it's too unstructured. But somehow we'll still cherry-pick for the intriguing pieces — God forbid we should be taken in of course, we're too hip for that — and yet there's no final proof that some of it isn't true. Pros and cons, and it all degenerates into arguments on the Internet, flaming, trolling, threads that only lead deeper into the labyrinth." — Thomas Pynchon (2013, novel) "Bleeding Edge" ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1594204233/hip-20 )
I waited until after the U.S. election to write this, but upon reflection it doesn't really matter much. I worry that if this project were to succeed beyond my wildest dreams, I would make some powerful enemies, in the political class, law enforcement, the intelligence community and the military-industrial complex. Clinton scared me more than Trump, but only a little. The political conspiracy web site What Really Happened ( www.whatreallyhappened.com/RANCHO/POLITICS/BODIES.php ) reminds us that on April 18, 2016, Julian Assange's lawyer jumped, fell or was pushed in front of a commuter train. On August 2, 2016 lawyer Shawn Lucas, who sued the Democratic National Committee on behalf of Bernie Sanders supporters, was found dead under suspicious circumstances. As far as our new president-elect goes, the Techdirt web site ( www.techdirt.com/articles/20161108/22473036002/what-election-means-stuff-techdirt-cares-about.shtml ) had this to say on November 8th:
Encryption: I don't believe Trump weighed in specifically on the whole 'going dark' debate, but given his comments on mass surveillance and supporting law enforcement over all else, I'm guessing that the chances of a bill banning encryption just got a hell of a lot stronger. Download some strong encryption software now and learn how to use it, folks.
Though it does not encrypt file systems, our plan is also a "rubber hose" system because you can provide a false key to decrypt a message to any alternative file you wish (of equivalent size). I sincerely hope no one is ever beaten with a rubber hose or otherwise harmed for using it. Let me add that I have absolutely no intention of killing myself, and if I die suspiciously I want you all to assume I was assassinated by the Illuminati or someone like them.

"If It's Just a Virtual Actor, Then Why Am I Feeling Real Emotions?" (Part Seven)

(If you haven't read parts one through six, see the archives, listed at the end.)


AVS '94 tee shirt got the tee shirt
  • AVS '94 May 2-4, 1994 Rumor was that the '93 AVS user group conference was a financial fiasco, with the company having to cover a lot of unsold hotel rooms, which is why the employees all got upgraded to rooms at the Dolphin. For '94 the company moved some of the conference management in-house and located it in nearby Boston to save travel expenses for its employees. The big announcement there was a new product, AVS Express, which would replace the current version of AVS 5, and had been in secret development for several years under the code name "IVAN," mostly worked on by chief architect Jeff Vroom. There was also a great homebrew beer Special Interest Group (SIG), which had visitors from around the world bringing homebrew and microbrew beers to sample.
  • Grateful Dead in Las Vegas 6-26-94 As a child of the sixties I was actually never much of a Grateful Dead fan, leaning more towards Jefferson Airplane, Doors, Iron Butterfly, etc. But I had so many friends, especially in high tech, who were huge fans ("Deadheads" they called it) that I paid attention, and made it with some friends to my second Grateful Dead concert at the University of Nevada Las Vegas stadium for one of three nights. (The serious deadheads were there for all three). ( archive.org/details/gd94-06-26.sbd.ladner.14943.sbeok.shnf ) As a result of this Vegas trip I ended up buying two CDs: a collection of Grateful Dead covers called "Deadicated" (audio album, 1991) various artists ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000002VHS/hip-20 ) and "Honeymoon in Vegas" soundtrack (audio album, 1992) various artists, which consisted of a collection of Elvis covers. ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0000028QF/hip-20 )


shell SIGGRAPH '94 logo
"The best time to go [to Walt Disney World], if you want to avoid huge crowds, is 1962." — Dave Barry "The Only Travel Guide You'll Ever Need" (1999) ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0345431138/hip-20 )
My participation is the SIGGRAPH conferences over the last 33 years has led me to ask myself some questions I might otherwise not have, questions like "I wonder what it's like in Detroit in July?" and "I wonder what it's like in Boston in July?" and "I wonder what it's like in Dallas in August?" and "I wonder what it's like in Las Vegas in July?" and "I wonder what it's like in Chicago in July?" The approach of the 1994 conference had me asking a new question, "I wonder what it's like in Orlando in July?" The ACM Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques had never been to Orlando before. I could almost feel the vendors salivating for the chance to get mindshare in an emerging market: theme park computer graphics. There was a lot of hope for a breakout from arcade games into full-scale Virtual Reality rides, and special demos and literature were prepared. I also was preparing for the conference, in a number of ways.
  • prepping for my job I had learned a lesson from the previous year's AVS User Group Conference in Orlando: if you want to avoid having your travel cut from a conference budget at the last minute, arrange to be delivering a talk at the conference. I knew that SIGGRAPH had a new venue called "technical sketches" with a late deadline (mid-spring) and I knew that AVS's new product, AVS Express, was due to be announced in that time frame, so I convinced the folks in marketing to let me collaborate with Jeff Vroom, the main developer, on a talk for the July SIGGRAPH conference. I wrote the first draft and then emailed it to Jeff, who gutted it and wrote a great short paper. I do take full credit for getting the ball rolling; if not for my efforts it wouldn't have happened.
  • prepping for my family We decided my wife and infant daughter would come with me to the conference, at our expense of course, but their motel costs would be zero. We managed to borrow a folding stroller which was a lifesaver. We could take it on buses, and our daughter could sleep in it. Remembering earlier epiphanies about keeping in touch with real family while visiting a fantasy land, I contacted my Florida cousins and arranged side trips to visit them on the Space Coast.
  • prepping for the panel
    • planning As chronicled previously, I did some advance planning while observing low-tech interactive entertainment at Universal Hollywood and Knott's Berry Farm. I decided to schedule a birds-of-a-feather, which anyone could attend without a conference badge, and run it like a panel. The title would be "The VActor and the Human Factor" and I would endeavor to unite engineers desinging the technology with actors who operated it to explore early lessons learned. I also wanted to include actors from the Adventurer's Club.
    • paperwork I got the birds-of-a-feather paperwork into SIGGRAPH by FAX, and they approved it in time for it to be in the main program. I began working on the list of participants, guided by some astute friends, including Richard Cray, Greg Panos and Steve Tice.
    • dialing for panelists Almost on a lark I called Disney Imagineering n Glendale, California and asked for Joe Rohde, the mad genius behind the Adventurer's Club. He is rumored to have been in both group portraits in the library there. ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Rohde ) I never spoke with him but I conveyed messages back and forth through his assistant, who was very helpful. I asked if Joe was going to SIGGRAPH in Orlando, and she said Joe wanted to know, "What's a SIGGRAPH?" (Twelve years later Joe gave the keynote speech at SIGGRAPH 2006 in Boston, _www.siggraph.org/s2006/main.php?f=conference&p=keynote entitled "From Myth to Mountain: Insights Into Virtual Placemaking," about his new Expedition Everest project at Disney's Animal Kingdom in Orlando.) I eventually determined Joe wouldn't be able to participate in my panel, but he did give his approval for the Adventurer's Club actors to take part. I had wanted to get Steve Tice to participate, since he'd founded Simgraphics and they'd demonstrated the Performance Cartoon of Suzy Surfer a.k.a. Silver Suzy Machinima at SIGGRAPH '91 in Las Vegas. But Steve said he'd probably be too busy at SIGGRAPH (he always booked as many meetings as possible with potential clients) and he recommended I get Brad deGraf, who said really invented the Performance Cartoon, in a prototype test of an "electronic puppet" in real time of Kermit the Frog with Jim Henson and a vector display from Evans and Sutherland. ( http://www.mediaventure.org/docs/degraf-cv.html ) Steve knew Brad and provided an introduction that "greased the skids" in getting him to agree to participate. From the Adventurer's Club I confirmed Ann Hering (my contact) who played the Maid as well as Samantha Sterling and Pamelia Perkins, and through her Kristian Truelsen who played Hathaway Brown and Graves the Butler, among others, and Art Doheny, who played the Adventurer from Sandusky, Ohio, Emil Bleehall. I rounded out the panel with myself (representing the aerospace/human factors field) and Richard Cray, who'd operated VActor technology for Simpgraphics at trade shows.
    • a poster for the panel shell shell the VActor panel poster As the conference approached I got to work on a promotional poster for the panel. I wanted to use an image of Pinnochio, but I knew better than to rip off Disney's intellectual property at a conference they would most certainly hear about. I went back to their source material and used an image from the original children's book, thinking that publisher might be a little less vigilant than Disney. Luckily I showed my artwork to Greg Panos before I left town. "Did you know VActor is a trademark of Simgraphics?" he asked me. I had not. Luckily there was time to add a TM and a footnote.
  • a last-minute connection I've related how I once went to a party at Maxine Brown's in L.A., dragged there by Greg Panos, and I didn't know yet who she was. Well, she moved back to Illinois and joined the Electronic Visualization Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Chicago with Tom deFanti. ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_Visualization_Laboratory ) Well, they were working on this Virtual Reality demonstration called the VROOM (Virtual ROOM) and they wanted to integrate it with AVS software, but they'd hit a technical snag. Maxine remembered she was two degrees of separation from me, apparently, and called me up. I put her in touch with AVS software engineer Jeff Vroom because it seemed to make karmic sense.
  • prepping for me I used to approach near-hysteria as a SIGGRAPH conference grew near. (Nowadays I've calmed right down.) One way I burned off excess energy was by making mix tapes on cassette for the trip. In addition to the above CDs I'd also bought the brand-new "Fruitcakes" (May 1994) by Jimmy Buffett. ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000002OS8/hip-20 ) With these and other sources I began making a 90-minute tape, which grew into a set of tapes, ultimately four 90-minute cassettes long, or six hours for Pete's sake. I called the set "Serious Fun," a slogan for Silicon Graphics Inc. (SGI), and each tape had a subtitle:
    1. Destination Resort
    2. Location-Based Entertainment
    3. Sponge-O-Rama
    4. I'm Just Drawn That Way
    (And as if that wasn't enough, I made a fifth and sixth tape, "Grand Floridian" and ""Remembering the Future" upon returning home.)

    SIGGRAPH 1994

    Orange County Convention Center map Orange County Convention Center map
    "Afterwards I saw two teenagers at the trolley stop; one was holding a cigarette. The other asked, 'You need a light?' His friend answered, 'No, I've got a lighter. I'm just too tired to smoke.' Even though I don't smoke myself, I knew what he meant." — Alan Scrivener "They're Cutting Corners in 2003 ~or~ A Long, Hard Look At the Future of the SIGGRAPH Conference" ( san-diego.siggraph.org/articles/SG2003/sg2003.html )
    The actual week of SIGGRAPH, July 24-29, 1994, was one of the most enjoyable and intense weeks of my life. Words cannot describe, but I'll try.
    • booth duty AVS Inc. flew me there, and AVS put me to work. I help set up hardware, install demos, verify demos, and work in the trade show booth meeting prospects and talking to them about their needs and our offerings, and giving demos.
    • AVS Exress "technical sketch" I showed up for the tech talk that I was listed as co-author on. Jeff delivered it to a packed house. I was glad there was such interest in the community in our new product. I was also proud that I'd catalyzed the event. And I was glad the bean counters hadn't figured out they didn't really have to fly me to Orlando unless Jeff couldn't make it.
    • the $1.8 million deal Even while the conference proceeded I also had work to do for the southern California sales office of AVS (near John Wayne Airport in Irvine, California). We were working on closing a deal for $1.8 million worth of software for Adac Laboratories, a company that makes Gamma Cameras for medical imaging, recording gamma rays after a patient swallows a "nuclear cocktail." ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ADAC_Laboratories ) Without a cell phone I had to wait in line for phone booths, communicating with the Adac folks several times a day, relaying questions to the engineers (some at HQ in Waltham, Massachusetts, and some at the conference with me in Orlando) and relay answers back. I didn't drop anything out. Later, when the order was completed, the Vice President of Engineering aknowledged in front of the assembled sales department that I had been the sole technical contact with Adac for the entire sale, which was a record for the company.
    • hangin' with Phil C. My good friend Phil C. (who passed away at the beginning of this year, alas) was attending the conference for the Scripps Research Institute, where he was head of IT, and they got him a very nice suite at the Gaylord. He invited me and some other friends to hang out on the first night (Sunday), and I brought my boom box and my mix tapes. Of course we didn't have time for all six hours. But one song was a huge hit, given our companions and our locale: a cover of the Grateful Dead's "Uncle John's Band" by Mr. Margaritaville, Jimmy Buffet. Later in the week Phil joined my wife, daughter and me for an afternoon at what was then called Disney-MGM Studios theme park, where we rode the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror for the first and second time. Phil said the park's architecture based on L.A. and Hollwood in the '20s and '30s reminded him of his youth, growing up near downtown L.A. in the '50s. After that we soaked in the pool at our hotel in the warm evening, and he told us about a talk at the conference by Terrence McKenna, in which he talked about "remembering the future."
    • the Mindtel van My friend and colleague Dave Warner arrived with a van full of people and equipment after a cross-country trip from San Diego to Orlando, and approached the organizers of "the Edge" emerging technology demo area for some space. They explained it was a juried exhibition, with the selections announced months ago, and there was no way. Then they let him in anyway.
    • Tanged demo loop I turned out there were folks at Disney that knew about SIGGRAPH; they had a booth, and they were recruiting for Animation and Imagineering. They also had an impressive computer-generated loop playing of Rapunzel's hair from "Tangled" flying in a breeze — sixteen years before the movie was released!
    • VROOM CAVE the CAVE, a sort of VROOM ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_Visualization_Laboratory ) I got to experience the VROOM (Virtual ROOM) from the Electronic Visualization Laboratory, running the AVS software, and flying over Chicago and through molecules with three screens wrapping around and one above, plus 3D glasses. Jeff Vroom did help them get it working, and he got to experience it too.
    • the Kubota Pacific implosion Kubota Pacific Computing, a company I'd left to join AVS in 1992, had a big booth at SIGGRAPH '94, showing a kick-a** racecar simulation with a real racecar cockpit. They collected a lot of leads on sheets of NCR paper (like carbon paper but inkless) over the week. On the last day they found out that the Japanese parent company was shutting them down, and they were all being laid off. The tore their lead sheets into confetti and threw it into the air.
    • time delay in VActor(TM) technology It wasn't until I was showing Adventurer's Club actor Kris Truelsen the VActor display in the "the Edge" (new technology demos) at SIGGRAPH that I noticed there was a time delay in the audio, so it stayed synced with the video which had some latency due the rendering speed. Hmmm.
    • SIGKids I noticed that the '94 conference had a SIGKids venue set up right at the front of the convention center, outside of the exhibit hall, but I never got a chance to go in and check it out. I saw kids soldering. (It was chaired by Nancy Ingle of the Orange County Public Schools.)
    • daughter's first word Our daughter C., at the age of 11 months, heard me say "duck" while pointing at a duck, and repeated it. We were strolling around the grounds and waters of the Disney Caribbean Beach Resort, and my wife had just wandered off. "I hope she does it again when mom comes back," I thought. And she did, very clearly!
    • visiting cousins I got to see my first cousins (dad's brother's kids) Beth and Charles who I've known all their lives, plus their kids, and they got to see our new daughter.
    • showing up for the panel I was glad the VActor panel was on Monday, so I wouldn't have to be nervous all week. We showed up early to the Peabody Hotel, both to double-check the venue, and because I hadn't written my introductory remarks. On the way in we crossed duckprints painted on the sidewalk at a Duck Crossing. In the lobby ducks were in the fountain. It turns out this was a big deal to the Peabody Hotel, a copy of the original in Memphis, Tennessee. ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peabody_Hotel ) We found a sort-of malt shop and took a seat and had a snack while I took notes on a place mat. The menu said the ducks were "live decoys," and I had a hunch there was a a way to work this into my talk, but I couldn't see the connection. It was time. We went to the location, and saw that a good-sized crowd for the room size was assembling. All of our panelists were prompt. "I'll speak first and then give you each ten minutes," I said. Brad and Richard, veterans of many conferences, nodded. The three actors looked like deer in the headlights. "We have to speak?" Ann asked. I told them they were masters of improvisation, and I would call on them last to give them time. I took the podium.


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