Stupid Recursive Advertising

I am sure there are many more examples, but after a recent Corona commercial it reminded me of previous I had heard. Cases where advertising uses a recursive theme. For those not familiar, you have recursive definitions and recursive acronyms, but the latter is more geek humor while the former is a mathematical thing.

At this rate, there should be a “recursive marketing”. Hell, knowing a slight bit about the industry, I am sure they have a term for it. The three examples that come to mind, and make me laugh as they are utterly ridiculous:

“Corona Lite, the only lite beer that is still a Corona…”

“Wendy’s, it’s better than fast food. It’s Wendy’s!”

“It’s the only truck built Ford tough.”

Basic Security Questions in Context

Over the years I have received common questions regarding security, typically from people not familiar with computers. Some questions are pointed and direct. Others… more vague than they realize. To help non-security people understand these questions, let me put them in a context you can understand.

“Which anti-virus do you use?”
“Which brand of plastic silverware do you use at picnics?”
(Ultimately, they are all about the same and minimally do a job. In the long run, it is the plate, food, and your effort that satisfy your hunger, just as other things in conjunction with the anti-virus keep your system safe.)

“How do I secure my system?”
“How do I fix my car?”
(Computers are complex systems. There isn’t a magic switch to make it secure. Like a car mechanic, they have to figure out what you have going on under the hood, then make recommendations.)

“How do I hack?”
“How do I cook?”
(Yes, parts of cooking are simple. Becoming a chef is a process and very time consuming. Like a chef must learn different cooking styles, practice with ingredients, and learn by trial and error, a hacker must basically do the same.)

Moving toward 10%…

I took notes for this blog in October, 2010 and never finished it off.

The concept of the tithe goes back thousands of years. Most people I know associate it with churches in England hundreds of years ago. These days I can’t say I have heard of many, if any at all, following the practice in the context of the church.

Over time, very few people or families seem to do it in modern society. With many they simply can’t afford to, as 10% of the take-home cuts too far into life’s necessities. Other families take home more than enough and have become accustomed to spending it on luxury, donating a much smaller fraction to their church.

While I am not a religious person, the idea of a tithe to charitable organizations that I believe in registers on my moral compass. Like most in our society, I spend too much money on things I do not need when other organizations could benefit greatly. I donate from time to time and support a handful of organizations, but I think it’s past time for me to step it up. Either a greater amount of support, or find additional organizations to donate to.

When I started this blog, I had sent off checks to the USO, the Colorado State Lodge Fraternal Order of Police ($20), the Denver Dumb Friend’s League, and Prairie Dog Coalition. Only $105 to four organizations in that month. That is pretty dismal.

This is an area of my life I clearly need to improve.

112 Years of Vulnerabilities: How did we get here, knowing what we know?

I gave a presentation on computer vulnerability history at BSides Delaware in November, 2013. Shortly after, I gave the presentation a couple times at Westchester Community College and the University of Pennsylvania, along with a brief version for the Invisible Harms conference at UPenn. The linked version below is the revised copy after my initial run at BSidesDE. The talk gives a history of computer vulnerabilities starting in 1902 (for real!) and continues up to modern day, looking at how long we have been subject to them, and asking the question ‘why’ do we still see them in modern software. Video from the BSidesDE presentation is available below. A copy of the original BSidesDE presentation is available, but I recommend the revised copy above from Shakacon in June, 2014. As always, there are extra comments and tons of references in the PPT files.

[12/21/2020 Update – I have since done a slightly updated version of the talk since, re-titled as “118 Years…”, as a guest lecturer at Northeastern University, Center for Law, Innovation and Creativity (CLIC) and Penn State Law, Policy Innovation Lab of Tomorrow (PILOT). Several who have seen this presentation think I should write a book on the topic, and I agree! I have started notes along these lines and began to gather additional information, but time is the limiting factor. Who knows if I will do it in the long run.]