GeekSpeak for 2014-01-25

Ukraine's Outage Executes Quantum Timestamp

Teaser medium

Anniversaries, Google Glitches, China’s Internet Outage, Space and Science News, and Facebook vs Princeton. We also talked with a listener about ways of cryptographically proving time stamps.

Dungeons and Dragons Turns 40

Many sources, including Playing at the World, assign to Dungeons & Dragons an initial release in January 1974.

10 years of Opportunity: Celebrating the rover’s role on Mars and Earth

On January 25, 2004, a strange object fell out of the sky on a distant planet—and when it hit the surface, it started to bounce. Even though that airbag-cushioned descent was exactly how things were planned, it wasn’t exactly an elegant start to what’s turned out to be a record-setting journey for Opportunity, which continues to operate long past its minimal mission time of 90 days.

Opportunity may be notable for its longevity and all the scientific data that it’s sent back to Earth over the past decade. But it’s also notable in how the rover has set standards for what we expect exploration missions to look like, from the hardware to the media coverage. When the mission is appreciated in its full context, it becomes a story that goes well beyond the little rover that could; it’s the story of a mission that ushered NASA into a new era of space exploration.

Google Outage Friday

Some of Google’s services went offline Friday around 11:04 a.m. PT. Service began to return 25 minutes later, and full service was restored by the afternoon.

Glitch Is Causing Thousands Of Emails To Be Sent To One Man’s Hotmail Account

David S. Peck is getting a lot of emails. In a glitch possibly related to the massive Gmail outage underway right now, there’s an odd bug in Google search which is pointing users directly to his personal email address. The address appears in a “Compose” window that pops up when the top search result for Gmail is clicked. Yes, it’s bizarre. Very, very bizarre.

Internet Outage Leaves China Disconnected for 8 hours

For eight hours Tuesday, more than 618 million Chinese couldn’t access cyberspace. The outage occurred when two-thirds of all Web traffic in the country was blocked from accessing top-level access to domains like .com and .net.

Voyager Data Converted to Music

GEANT has been sonifying 36 years’ worth of NASA Voyager spacecraft data and converting it into a musical duet.

Earth-Impacting Asteroid Heard by Nuke Detectors

On the second day of 2014, a small asteroid blew up high in Earth’s atmosphere. It was relatively harmless—the rock was only a couple of meters across, far too small to hit the ground or do any real damage—and it disintegrated over the Atlantic Ocean anyway.

What’s cool is that now we know for sure this is the case: Infrasound detectors designed to listen for nuclear bomb detonations actually heard the explosion from the impact and were able to pinpoint the location of the event to a few hundred kilometers east off the coast of Venezuela.

GeekBit: Moon Rising over the Earth

In March 2004, the European Space Agency launched the Rosetta probe on its way to the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. It’s still on its way there—space is big. But it made a few detours along the way, including a pass of Mars, three of Earth (to gain energy and boost it along its way), and two asteroids (Steins and Lutetia).

GeekBit: Beautiful Picture from Rosetta

[Rosetta] will rendezvous with a comet, follow it through space around the Sun, and even send down a lander to the surface of the icy dirtball. Rosetta launched in 2004 and has used both Earth and Mars as gravitational boosters to get to its destination (at one point taking what may be my favorite picture of our home world of all time, and a similarly beautiful and astonishing photo of the Moon rising over the limb of the Earth).

Facebook Debunks Princeton Study

Last week Princeton researchers released a widely covered study saying Facebook would lose 80% of its users by 2015-2017. But now Facebook’s data scientists have turned the study’s methodology against it to show Princeton would lose all of its students by 2021.

Hacker Gets Facebook's Biggest Bug Bounty

Facebook has paid out its largest cash reward of $33,500 for a serious remote code execution vulnerability which also returned critical administrative data.

Free Service to Prove Time of Creation

You can use Cryptostamp’s service to prove that something you created was created before the date you send i to them.

They use Bitcoin to “timestamp” your file… kinda – watch the video on their site – it is great.

Amazon Just Patented Shipping Items Before They're Even Ordered

“Late last month, Amazon patented a process they’ve termed ‘anticipatory package shipping,’ in which products would be sent to fulfillment centers near the customers most likely to purchase them, before customers even order them.”

Stephen Hawking: 'There are no black holes'

“Most physicists foolhardy enough to write a paper claiming that “there are no black holes” — at least not in the sense we usually imagine — would probably be dismissed as cranks. But when the call to redefine these cosmic crunchers comes from Stephen Hawking, it’s worth taking notice. In a paper posted online, the physicist, based at the University of Cambridge, UK, and one of the creators of modern black-hole theory, does away with the notion of an event horizon, the invisible boundary thought to shroud every black hole, beyond which nothing, not even light, can escape.”

Ball Lightning Caught on Video

“Ball lightning is an odd phenomenon. The few, fortunate people who have seen an incident describe the lightning as a roughly spherical glowing object that travels horizontally for a few seconds before vanishing. However, while several experiments have reproduced something resembling the phenomenon, the physical mechanism behind ball lightning is somewhat mysterious.”

Text messages warn Ukraine protesters they are 'participants in mass riot'

“Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass riot.”

Eli about Time stapming Creative Work

From a listener:
bq. I will probably try calling you tomorrow if Rick is there, but just thought I would shoot you an email to give you a heads up or in case you are not taking calls. I am including more detail in the email than I would over the air to give you more background.

I am an inventor and need to regularly establish a time stamp for the ideas I have. I often record my ideas by taking pictures of the white-boards I work on and the things I make, but I need to figure out a good system for establishing a verifiable time stamp. There are 3rd party services that provide this in a centralized manner by hashing your file, logging the time stamp from a trusted source, and holding onto a record of that hash, but if that company ever goes under, you can no longer prove your time stamp.

There are also a couple services that provide hash logging within small Bitcoin transactions so the time-stamp is verifiable within the Bitcoin Block Chain. The service I am looking at specifically is http://www.cryptostamp.net/ because it is free. They keep it free by only submitting one small Bitcoin transaction per day containing a single hash generated from a merkle tree of all the hashes submitted throughout the day.

Which brings me to the heart of my questions… In an effort to not reveal the content of my files (usually photos), but at the same time not have to submit several hashes to the site, I was wondering if I could create a text file that contains hashes from all my files for the day, then hash the text file and upload that check-sum for inclusion in the Merkle tree? Would the hash of that text file be cryptographically strong enough to not be able to forge another file containing different hashes but with the same check-sum? Also, is it ok to create multiple hashes with multiple methods (eg. MD5 and SHA-3), thereby providing more evidence that the file referenced in the hash is in fact the same as the one the hash was created for, or would having 2 or more different check-sums of the same file allow someone to reverse-engineer the original?

Hopefully I will get the chance to talk to you tomorrow. I have reached the limit of having enough knowledge to even know how to google for the answer I am looking for myself. This cryptography stuff makes my brain hurt.

Thanks, Eli