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  1. year three

    January 20, 2008 by Saar Drimer

    “Side Channels” is three years old! It has been an interesting year, albeit with little blogging. One of the highlights of the past year was my four week trip to Brazil in April. Good food, weather, people. I visited Rio de Janeiro (Ilha Grande, Rio), Pernambuco (компютриландшафтRecife, Ilha de Itamaracá, Porto de Galinhas), and Rio Grande do Sul (Porto Alegre, and the great town of Vacaria).

    In Recife there is a very long beach stretch along a neighborhood called Boa Viagem. It is a popular destination, but used to be more so until in the early 1990s when ecosystem disruption due to development has driven sharks to Boa Viagem beaches. Shark attacks on humans have then become much more frequent. I found this sign interesting as one rarely sees this kind of language on signs, and it was unexpected there in Brazil’s Northeast. Note that the Portuguese portion doesn’t evoke statistics and simply says “Danger: area susceptible to shark attacks.” (Presumably because it is common knowledge over there and the risks are well known).

    Bathers in this area are at greater than average risk of shark attack

  2. two years

    January 17, 2007 by Saar Drimer

    I realized that “Side Channels” is two years old this month. Not very exciting, is it? Well, it has gotten less of my time and attention in the past six months. A few things led to this… firstly, I was, and still am, busy. I am involved in a few research projects that I am excited about and enjoy working on. I also devote time to people around me who I like to spend time with. Secondly, I feel I don’t have anything profound to say that hasn’t already been said. You’ll notice that I try to be original whenever I can… but it is hard when everyone and their grandmother have a weblog too ;) Over time my expectations of this way of expression settled at the right place. I do not expect to have huge readership and I write whenever and of whatever I feel like. I feel comfortable with that; no pressure.

    So, my dear readers, I appreciate those of you who have stuck around and loyally keep coming back for my outbursts. As a thank you*, I give you a recent picture from my trip to Edinburgh with Craigmillar Castle as the backdrop.

    saar drimer craigsmillar castle

    * Yeah, I know it might seem like I am full of myself, giving a picture of myself as a “thank-you”… but I really like this one and I couldn’t think of anything else to give ;)

  3. exposed: online, people sometimes lie about themselves

    December 23, 2006 by Saar Drimer

    Todd Shriber contacted, what may be considered, random people online soliciting them to hack into his former college and give his GPA a face lift. He gave them all his personal information, including SSN, and some pictures of local squirrels the “hackers” required as “proof”. They, in turn, put the e-mail correspondence online, of course.

    Turns out the idiot works as a communications director for a Montana congressman. He was later fired after his extracurricular contractual endeavors were publicized in sites like reddit.

    So, two things. Firstly, not everyone who talks shop is an expert… this applies to real life too. Secondly, if people still have not realized that other people are not who they say they are (in real life too!) they deserve this kind of treatment. The more this happens, the more people be careful what they say or write, mostly in consideration of their future. In our world, where everything is recorded and archived, nothing is forgotten. Memory is cheap. Remember this when, in five years’ time, your potential employer asks you about the time you got drunk, busted, and jailed on new years’ eve, as you detailed with pride on your now moldy myspace page. Old-school cool becomes new-school stupid.

    Oh, yeah, some fucker stole my bike; the joy of living in Cambridge. Somehow, uncharacteristically to the island, no security cameras covered the scene.

  4. new guest blogger, “philip”

    September 7, 2006 by Saar Drimer

    Phil is a good friend and fellow engineer. We met at a now defunct silicon valley start-up years ago. Phil has just discovered the blogosphere, RSS, feeds and all that “experience” and I offered to host his thoughts. Knowing Phil, he’s got a lot to say but very little time, so I hope we’ll get to hear his thoughts often. Phil would like to keep with us only on first name basis for now, so his full identity will remain a bit vague. He described himself as:

    Electrical engineer. History buff. Novice investor. Political charlatan.

    So, welcome Phil… and I hope our current four readers will be entertained by us both ;)

  5. new security weblog

    February 14, 2006 by Saar Drimer

    Word is out. The Light Blue Touchpaper weblog by the researchers at the Security Research Group, Computer Lab, U of Cambridge is active. Humbly, I have to say that it was my idea to start the weblog, but most of the setup work was done by the crafty Steven J. Murdoch. I don’t have much to contribute at this point, but probably write articles there every now and then in the future.

    It’s bound to be a great security resource, so check it out.

  6. We’re 1 year old

    February 2, 2006 by Saar Drimer

    Yes, it has been a year since I decided it would be a neat idea to put forth my thoughts in a weblog form (just like everyone else and their grandmother, lawyer and milkman). It was a good decision; I enjoyed it a great deal more than I originally expected. First, it made me a better English writer as it is not my first language; second, it made me more inquisitive as I pursue further details on things I might want to blog about (i.e. I gained knowledge;) third, I gave friends and family (and…-shrug-…strangers) an opportunity to keep tabs on me (oddly enough, I’m not much of a talker about private stuff in real life;) and finally, I made new acquaintances and friends, which is more than I bargained for.

    I tried to be interesting and contribute original content to the “world” and have gained a handful of loyal readers (you four know who you are) that genuinely makes me happy. I never thought that getting a “new comment” would be so exciting.

    A lot has changed in my life during the passing year, both professionally and personally. My enthusiasm with writing has fluctuating irregularly and that was sometimes apparent with the frequency of posts. As of late I’ve had a nagging notion in the back of my mind whenever I though of something to write; it pretty much felt like “who the hell gives a shit about what you think?” (if only more people were capable of such thoughts.) But then the flip-side chimed in — usually too late — with the retort: “it’s your freakin’ weblog and you can write whatever you damn please.” So, these days the first argument wins, a condition that might change in the future, but then again, may not. I will continue to write to you through this weblog… but perhaps less frequently. I have to add that it’s a competitive blogging world out there; with so many damn good weblogs, it’s easy to feel inadequate or not worthy of attention.

    I thank you all (still here? good!) for your audience.

    Now go do something productive.

  7. am here

    January 15, 2006 by Saar Drimer

    It’s been 10 days since my last post. What can I say? I just don’t feel like writing. It’s not a silly “bloggers block” (eeek) I just don’t feel like writing.
    I got back to Cambridge, moved, removed all facial hair, and am getting back into research action. In a little while this weblog will celebrate it’s 1st anniversary and I’ll write a post about the past and future… Am I experiencing the first year hardship that is so typical with relationships? With my weblog? It is needy, after all. Rewind. Back to work.

  8. Blogging updates

    November 26, 2005 by Saar Drimer

    I like updates, upgrades and new stuff.

    I’ve updated to WordPress 2.0 beta2 and made some cosmetic improvements — at least I think they are — like the “about” box on the top right. I tried very hard to install a “new post email notifier“, but gave up when I got hungry and cranky. If anyone thinks they will use it, let me know and I’ll give it another go.

    I did install “subscribe to comments“, something I’d like to see in other weblogs and think is highly useful. You can get notification of any new comments on any particular post, even if you did not comment. It is also very easy to manage your subscriptions as well. Give it a try and let me know of any issues.
    There are many plug-ins out there for wordpress, if you’d like to see any on this weblog, just ask.

    The upgrade went fairly smooth. But then again, I didn’t have many “after-market” features to migrate. I was kind of disappointed with the lack of new features, though. One of the reasons I upgraded now with the beta is because I wanted to enhance your side-channels experience without needing to do it again when the official release comes out. When I obtain a good picture of myself, that’s going to be up there in the corner to make you feel “connected” :) This is a good time to plug my “Guest map” again… if you are not on it, I’d like you to be.

    I’ve encouraged an office mate to create a weblog. I came up with the theme and the names (“Fenglish” and “I’m Chinese. Correct my English”), which I think are quite funny. Feng is a smart guy and a great sport about the whole thing. Check it out.

  9. other peoples’ advice on blogging

    November 21, 2005 by Saar Drimer

    I’m light on original content today…

    I keep on telling people how much fun it is to have a weblog and offer my assistance whenever they need it for setting up or anything else. So here are some good posts for beginner and more experienced bloggers. I have quite a bit to take from the advice dispensed here; things that I was aware of for a while but was too lazy to implement such as a picture of myself with an “about” page and some custom style/graphics. I’ll get to it.

    The Seven Deadly Sins of Blogging” – I pretty much agree with everything written here (except I wouldn’t go comparing JK Rowlings to Shakespeare.)

    If all you post say, “hey look what I found over there (link), I think it’s great and you should look at it…”, then you will eventually lose all your reader because you have nothing original to offer.

    7 Mistakes for your First Week Blogging” – Good advice here for beginners and experienced bloggers. I am just now — after nearly a year of blogging — getting over obsessing over my stats.

    Been blogging 6 months” – Great advice from a pure genius.

    While we’re on the topic of lists, here’s a good one:
    The Top 100 Things I’d Do If I Ever Became An Evil Overlord


  10. mapping zombies from comment spam

    November 10, 2005 by Saar Drimer

    Spam mostly come from zombie computers. Weblog comment spam comes from zombie networks as well.

    I am getting about 40 a day now; all of which are put in my moderation box because they contain words that are in my blacklist (these people are not very creative on the content front.) The IP address that the comment came from is recorded and contained in the email I get notifying me a new comment has been posted. Although it won’t point to the spammer, I though it would be nice to map where the spam is coming from using the Google maps API. In a more effective and useful form, bloggers may send a dedicated webpage their comment spam and it will add the IP to the map/database. WordPress or other tools can be made to send a copy of the email to this website automatically upon detection of comment spam (there is really no privacy issue here.) I think that would be neat and may help in some way to identify spammers. If anyone is interested in making this happen, let me know, I’ll contribute what I can.

    SM pointed me to which is a on-time-e-mail service that is very cool… and also to for getting IP information… go there and see if they got your location right.