1. Unsupervised Part-of-Speech Tagging Approaching the Human Supervised (with data!)
  2. Computers beat humans at a game  (again!), Morpion Solitaire
  3. Would exploits ever be regulated as weapons?
  4. Quantum cryptography for the masses, with non-dedicated fiber networks
  5. One-Time Pads in the 19th century
 

It’s decision time for Minitel, and its fate has been sealed. With many lessons for tomorrow, the parallels of state intervention between Minitel and Internet left much to ponder: albeit decisive for their existence in their first years, the lack of controlling restraint exhibited by the French government, not only in its censorship impetus but especially in the commercial side of the venture, ruined its international diffusion.

 
  1. Empirical upper bounds on long-term market beating.
  2. Testing for convexity is NP-hard.
  3. Fully Homomorphic Encryption without Bootstrapping.
  4. On the evolution of alphabets.
  5. Boolean Relation Theory and Concrete Incompleteness.
 
  1. The micro-economics of money counterfeiting.
  2. Statistics on the evolution of software patents.
  3. On Gutenberg’s bankruptcy.
  4. In the short term network effects are powerful, but in the long term, quality trumps network effects.
  5. Empirical estimations on the effects of software interoperability degradation.
 

Browser’s cache fulfill several aims, among others, to save network bandwidth and to diminish web pages loading time which, in turn, drop down the time costs of delays over user’s web loading. For example, suppose the typical user spends an average of 450 hours/year to surf the web at a rate of 120 pages/hour; an implied wage of 12€/hour; a fall in loading time due to the use of a cache of 1 second via desktop and 10 seconds via mobile; a caching success rate of 40%, then we easily estimate that the typical user can save between 72€/year(computer) and 720€/year(mobile) by just activating the browser’s cache.

Therefore, and given storage and bandwidth’s current costs, the implied break-even point on the use of the browser’s cache is always positive, even to store all the browsed pages that the user would ever visit for decades, a time longer than the average life of any device. This fact will still uphold true not by the exponentially decreasing costs for storage and bandwidth, but just because the labor costs are linearly increasing in time. But taking apart labor costs from the equation just consider the technological trends and taking into account that mobile bandwidth’s costs will always be several orders of magnitude higher than fiber and cable’s bandwidth, we would face the curious case that using the browser’s cache will soon stop making any sense in a computer but will still be  profitable in a mobile, and that for the period of several decades and also taking into consideration the higher mobile storage costs. Note that this is just one of the many divergences that could appear in the future evolution of the various Internet browsing devices, and that will entail much greater instruction density per transmitted byte to correct them.

The key point of this and other analyses always rests under the relative differences in the price evolution between magnetic storage (Kryder’s law -2x every 13 months-), the circuit’s scale of integration (Moore’s law -2x every 18 months-) and bandwidth’s throughput (Nielsen’s law -2x every 21 months-), among others. And we should put greater emphasis in the last one, since being the one with the slower evolution will also make it to be the most limited resource and, therefore, the one that will end up dominating the final price of any computer system. And on the other hand, storage will be the most used resource to lessen the disadvantages and deficiencies brought by telecommunication’s slowest evolution, following Jevons’s paradox, which remind us that increases in the efficiency with which a resource is used tend to increase, rather than decrease, the rate of consumption of that resource.

On the subject of the expected evolution of telecommunications, it would always be necessary to take apart the trends of the different underlying technologies (fiber, cable and wireless). And although the most optimistic would certainly lean into Edholm’s law, that predicts that the throughput of the different technologies will end up converging as a result of the law of the decreasing marginal returns on the fastest ones and even when taking into consideration the parallel increases in throughput that they have been experiencing, it will be the Cooper’s law regarding the efficiency in the use of the electromagnetic spectrum (-2x every 30 months-), the one law that highlights the underlying idiosyncrasy of wireless since it exploits a natural resource with no possibility of being expanded: analyzing its increases in efficiency in the last 100 years, we find that improvements in coding methods only explain the 0,6% of its enhancement; the enlargement of the spectrum under utilization, a mere 1,5%; and the most efficient use of the spectrum by its better confinement, the resting 97,9%. Nevertheless, optical fiber is in hard contrast to any wireless technology (Butter’s law -2x every 9 months), and just another reason to expect that the differences between the software applications available on mobile devices and the non-mobile ones using optical fiber cannot but be heightened over the years, the raison d’être of the mobile software cambrian explosion.

 
  1. Automatic Computer-Vision based shoulder surfing.
  2. Stuxnet, redux.
  3. US Supreme Court sets the test for willful blindness in patent infrigment.
  4. English Glorious Revolution was all about codifying de facto rules, not about creating new de-jure rules.
  5. New book titles as proxies for technological change, in turn increasing GDP, TFP, labor and capital.
 

Propagating a mass media scare-mongering on the latest piece of malware is always a very good resource to fill those blank pages of newspapers.

These days, it’s the turn of TDSS, yet another so-so malware that endures due to the lusers’ blatant incompetence. This so-called indestructible botnet features:

  • Snake-oil crypto: the best crypto! It cures all ailments!
  • C&C through the KAD network (Tor is just a misspelled Norse god!).
  • Cutting-edge MBR infection! (it seems the ’80s was such an obscure period that nothing from that age remains, except a much-much younger Madonna, go figure).
  • TDSS removes other malware, thank you very much: because this have never been attempted before, and  I would say, it’s the easiest way to determine a system has been infected.
  • A new and very innovative 64-bit kernel-mode driver: let’s just pretend the first 64-bit viruses were not written in 2004
  • Other articles provide a much more detailed view of the evolution of this malware, this being the only thing to note about it.
  • Last, but not at least, I don’t understand how they can claim that the botnet is indestructible, but they have been able to reverse engineer the C&C protocol and to send queries to the servers.

I wonder when malware will catch-up with the already published research from the crypto-virology field. It would be wonderful to see a massive botnet, if you understand me, using advanced techniques such as questionable encryption, kleptography or homomorphic encryption applied to delegated computation. Then, we would be talking about a really indestructible botnet.

 

As a follow-up to my previous post about mobile subsidies, it’s important to note that new IFRS financial accounting rules affecting them are under discussion (IAS 18: Revenue in Relation to Bundled Sales), even though they are not expected to come by 2015. Traditionally, mobile revenue per month is recognised for the whole bundled mobile contract, the cost of the handset is expensed on the first day of the contract and the initial subsidised payment, if any, is reported; under the forthcoming accounting proposals, these subsidised contracts would be effectively unbundled and interests would be taken into consideration.  That is, a receivable for the unsubsidised fair value of the terminal would be recognised on the first day and every monthly instalment per month would be proportionally split into two parts: a fraction to settle the terminal receivables with their corresponding income from interests, the handset being recognised at inception of the contract, and the rest will be booked as revenue for the services.

These changes will provide a much more faithful view of the real nature of the current mobile business model: handsets are just not marketing expenses but integral to the whole mobile experience, therefore their costs won’t be diffused with other charges and profits and revenue will stop being misstated. But on the other hand, the new approach is more imprudent and the treatment of the breach of mobile contracts will further introduce unnecessary complexity.

 
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