On Voting Machines

Scientists’ Tests Hack Into Electronic Voting Machines in California and Elsewhere
New York Times (07/28/07) P. A11; Drew, Christopher
A test of electronic voting machines used in California and other states has shown that the machines are easily hacked and there are several ways to alter the vote totals. The tests, conducted by computer scientists from several universities in California, focused on three of the four largest electronic voting machine vendors: Diebold Election Systems, Hart InterCivic, and Sequoia Voting Systems.

A report issued by the state of California said that each of the systems had weaknesses that could be exploited to affect the correct recording and tallying of votes. University of California, Davis, computer science professor Matthew A. Bishop, who led one of the testing teams, says his team was surprised how easy it was to pick the physical lock and to bypass the software defenses. Bishop says that every machine had problems, particularly because security features seemed to be added after the basic design of the system was finished. Bishop says the best way to build a secure system is to build security into the system at the start of the design process.

The drastic failure of the voting machines’ security could cause California’s secretary of state Debra Bowen to ban the use of some machines in the 2008 election unless extra security precautions are established and election results are closely monitored. Electronic voting machine industry executives argue that the tests were not conducted in a realistic environment and that no machine has ever been known to have been hacked during an election.

The report was released on the same day members of Congress reached an agreement on measures to add paper records to every voting machine so voters can verify that their ballots were correctly cast and to be used in case of a recount.

More Randomness

True Random Number Generator Goes Online
PressEsc.com (07/18/07) Panditaratne, Vidura

Academics and members of the scientific community will not be able to accurately predict the next number that comes out of the Quantum Random Bit Generator Service (QRBGS). The QRBGS is unlike the random number generators of most computers, which employ different algorithms to choose a number from large databases that use methods such as rolling the dice to compile their numbers. Such random number generators deliver essentially pseudo-random numbers, but QRBGS uses photon emission, the unpredictable quantum process, to produce true random numbers. QRBGS makes use of a fast non-deterministic random bit generator, and its random quality comes from the quantum physical process of photonic emission in semiconductors, followed by detection from the photoelectric effect. Developed by computer scientists at the Ruder Boskovic Institute (RBI) in Zagreb, Croatia, QRBGS has been made available online, connected by computer clusters and GRID networks, free of charge. Potential applications include advanced scientific simulations, cryptographic data protection, security applications, and virtual entertainment.

Happy Birthday, Chris

July 23, 2007

Here’s a GREAT Top Five:



On Saturday, your favorite humor list moderator celebrated
half a century of semi-clean living on this hunk of rock.
The worst part about it is that in Los Angeles, 50 is the
new 20 — so I can’t drink legally again until NEXT July.

“Chris, what other issues might an aging Internet-pioneer-
who-missed-the-’90s-IPOs have to deal with?” you ask? Trust
me, it can get ugly. Here’s a little glimpse into my life…

The Top 20 Ways Chris Is Feeling His Mortality

20> Has started ordering his Shirley Temples with an olive instead
of a cherry.

19> That once-cool full-back tattoo of Jacko moonwalking seems

18> “Oh, yeah? Well, when I was young, we didn’t have amateur
video webcams with free pornography! We had to steal Dad’s
Playboys from his closet!”

17> His 13-year-old humor list wants the keys to the car, the
phone rings non-stop and #7 wants to know if he can get a

16> Screams “Get a haircut, hippie!” every time Justin Timberlake
is on TV.

15> Then: sex, drugs and rock and roll.
Now: MILF porn, Viagra and Yanni.

14> Getting out of bed produces more pops, creaks and groans than
an antique schooner made of Rice Crispies.

13> Suddenly feels extra-pervy when wanking to Lindsay Lohan pix.

12> Now needs a Clapper to raise the head of his Craftmatic bed so
he can make sure nobody’s messing with his Rascal at night.

11> Monthly shipment of “Girls Gone Wild” videos now comes with
Surgeon General’s warning.

10> With each passing day, Sophia Loren looks hotter and hotter.

9> Thirty years removed from high-school Spanish class, a trip to
Costa Rica for a quick lipo and bum lift resulted in man-boob
augmentation surgery.

8> Last year, had more hemorrhoids than drunken hookups.

7> Has a cameo in Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” — as a
threatening source of methane.

6> Was secretly ecstatic when the birthday stripper canceled
and everyone ended up watching reruns of “Simon and Simon.”

5> It’s a bitch finding dentures with a built-in grill.

4> Every morning, the same damn IM from gr1mR34pr: “How r u
feeling 2day?”

3> His Depends make his Speedo lumpy in all the wrong places.

2> When he runs out of lube to use with his love doll, it seems
more like a woman his age.  [note:  I snorted tea out my nose when I read this]

and Topfive.com’s Number 1 Way Chris Is Feeling His Mortality…

1> These days when the hooker unzips his pants and reaches in,
she finds his navel.

http://www.topfive.com  – the best original humor on the internet

PS: to Chris — Good luck on your next half century.  Write if you get work.

Relatives and Fish

You know, I’ve just figured out why I have no energy for anything creative right now. It’s because I’m using all my juice trying to be nice, figuring out how to cope with hubby’s grown sons who have moved back in. Neither are employed. Both eat like you can’t believe. * They love my expensive liquor cabinet.

One was here just for a short time last week, but he’s coming back (third time in six weeks) for four days this week. The other’s been here a little over a month, and will be leaving town this coming Sunday if the stars stay aligned.

I can’t decide how much energy to expend training them. Seems like I need to get behavior I can live with from them if they’re going to be her more than a day or two. But how many times do I need to say “Don’t put your dirty dishes in the sink! Put them in the dishwasher.” I’M NOT YOUR MOTHER AND DO NOT WANT TO CLEAN UP AFTER YOU. I haven’t gone that far, but it’s coming. I should post a sign by the sink. We have one like it at work. “Unless your mother works here, clean up after yourself. ” 🙂 I don’t *want* to train them.  I don’t want children here.  Grandchildren to spoil, yes.  Children to train, no.
Also, is it my job to teach men in their 20’s not to pee on the toilet seat and the floor around it? Maybe they’re being passive aggressive. This WAS their house, once upon a time. I don’t care what the reason for it is … there ISN’T any reason for it. It grosses me out.
Okay, I’ve vented a tiny bit. Only 5 more days.

*My own (grown) son is picky as hell and barely eats enough to keep a bird alive and never has done anything else. That’s what I’m used to, so hubby’s boys have been a shock to the system.

Kids say the Darndest Things

Flea had a nice little contest going for “Who has the most embarrassing kids story on The Internets?”

A link to her site and the grand prize winner are at the end.

Honorable Mention Winners: These are people who didn’t make the finals, but I loved them anyway:

Best Retort: elle, for

We were in the ladies changing room, and I could see him eyeballing a somewhat Rubenesque lady who had just come out of the shower. Naked. He marches right up to her, and says in his loudest voice,
“Why are you SO FAT??”
I of course wanted to die, but to her eternal credit this woman turned to my boy with great dignity and said
“Because I eat too many little boys” and swanked off. That sure shut him up.

Most Complaints from Readers That It Didn’t Make the Finals: Cobwebs, for

Happened to a divorced friend of mine: She was having a small dinner party, and her five-year-old daughter came dancing out with her vibrator, which she had dressed in Barbie clothes.

Poor Dad: Ev, for

When our kids were toddlers, their father used to say, “you’d better be good, or I’ll have to beat you with a big stick.”

One day, they were acting up in Wal-Mart, and my daughter knew she was soooo busted. She looked at her dad and said, “Daddy! Don’t beat me with your big dick!”

Most Precocious Use of Profanity: Nita, for

me: I need some new crayons. None of these are sharp. I like sharp crayons.
teach: We can’t always have new ones. Sometimes you have to use old ones.
me: Are you fucking kidding me?

Best Retro Entry: Maya’s Granny, because this one could have gotten her fired back in the day:

At 6 [my daughter] shouted out from our front door to her best friend across the street, just as the mothers of every child I taught that year were coming out of the library we lived next to, “No, you don’t either have to be a virgin to get married. My mother says she wasn’t.”

And finally, the Most Crushing Blow to Self-Esteem: Christy, for

My son to his dad:

“Daddy, my pee-pee is just too big. I need a smaller pee-pee. A smaller one like yours, daddy.”

The Winners

Third Place: to Sasha. Congratulations! Your willingness to perform oral sex has paid off!

Son had recently interrupted a bit of mom-on-dad oral action. He brought it up Sunday morning in line at the bagel store with his dad:

“Daddy, remember that one time, when you were PEEING IN MOMMY’S MOUTH?”

Second Place: to wwwmama. May your prize be worth the price of your sister burning in hell.

When my sister was little in church one day, she swung rosary beads round and round and yelled out
at a quiet moment: “hang on jesus! you’re going for a ride!”

Click the link and scroll down to Janny Dare and the Jellybeans!!!!!
for the grand prize winner.

Is is real, or is it …

Looking for Signs of Life
Technology Review (07/17/07) Graham-Rowe, Duncan

Researchers at Sweden’s Halmstad University have developed a “liveness” detection system that will help facial recognition programs tell the difference between a picture and a real person. Professor of signal analysis Josef Bigun, who led the research, says liveness is going to be a major issue for biometrics, particularly with face recognition. He says some facial recognition systems have simple defenses to spot photographs, but they can be easily tricked by bending the picture. One current defense is to measure how similar the face being presented is to a stored image of the person.

The biometric system is looking for differences between the two images and will reject a face that too closely matches the original. This defense can easily be bypassed by adding statistical noise to the image using a digital copy and basic photo-editing software. The second approach uses optical flow to measure the movement of key parts of the face in relation to each other. The purpose is to detect slight movements of a photo as it is held in front of the camera. If all areas of the face move in a perfectly linear fashion, it is a photograph. However, this system tends to reject people if they are holding their facial expression very still, and it can also be tricked by bending a photo to move at slightly different trajectories.

Bigun’s solution takes the optical-flow defense and improves upon it. The researches examined the differences between how real faces and bent photos move to identify differences in the trajectories of key facial points. The trajectories of 3D features are more complex and follow a particular pattern relative to each other. The researchers created a system to test the accuracy of a system that could tell the differences in trajectories. Bigun says the only way to beat the system he worked on would be to make a 3D mask of someone’s face.