Cambridge refuses censorship on chip-and-PIN vulnerabilities

According to BoingBoing, the UK banking trade association wrote to Cambridge to have a student’s master’s thesis censored as it documented a well-known flaw in the chip-and-PIN system, Cambridge University’s Ross Anderson replied with the following:

Second, you seem to think that we might censor a student’s thesis, which is lawful and already in the public domain, simply because a powerful interest finds it inconvenient. This shows a deep misconception of what universities are and how we work. Cambridge is the University of Erasmus, of Newton, and of Darwin; censoring writings that offend the powerful is offensive to our deepest values. Thus even though the decision to put the thesis online was Omar’s, we have no choice but to back him. That would hold even if we did not agree with the material! Accordingly I have authorised the thesis to be issued as a Computer Laboratory Technical Report. This will make it easier for people to find and to cite, and will ensure that its presence on our web site is permanent….

You complain that our work may undermine public confidence in the payments system. What will support public confidence in the payments system is evidence that the banks are frank and honest in admitting its weaknesses when they are exposed, and diligent in effecting the necessary remedies. Your letter shows that, instead, your member banks do their lamentable best to deprecate the work of those outside their cosy club, and indeed to censor it. [Source: Cambridge]

The reply is full of win, academic world scores one.

Badly done project

It’s late at night and I am still coding my project. Worst of all is that the code that I am (possibly) more proud of than the rest of the code I have is the isNumeric function:

[code lang=”javascript”]var isNumeric = function isNumeric (s) {
return !isNaN(parseFloat(s));
}[/code]

There, here is it. The rest of the code very well deserves to be deleted. Unpresentable, at best.

My UOL results are out

My academic results are out. I did better than I expected this year. I am quite surprised by the results. I have rather low expectations this time and thought I may do badly for my “software engineering, algorithm design and analysis” class because I do not really understand what I learnt. For “data communications and enterprise networking”, I spend most of the time scribbling and chose to do those questions that require a lot of writing. The results made me quite happy at this hour. The red ones are the results for this year:

unit code title marks
cis102 mathematics for computing 80.0
cis108 information systems: foundations of e-business 61.0
cis109 intro to java & object-oriented program 78.0
cis110 introduction to computing and the internet 74.0
cis209 database systems 79.0
cis212 programming: advanced topics and techniques 80.0
cis222 data communications and enterprise networking 69.0
cis226 software engineering, algorithm design and analysis 63.0

I think they moderated the results or something.

It’s exam time

I haven’t been blogging for a while as it’s exam period. It’s also been busy busy at 24seven. The new product which name you will never guess right.

Today’s paper is on programming, it’s (so-call) advanced concepts. Honestly the whole course’s been a mess but never mind that. I did 3 questions on Java, 2 question on SML and 1 question on Prolog. The Java questions are quite easy. Most of what I studied came out. I planned to do 3 questions out of the 5 Java questions and it went well.

What caught me in a surprise is Prolog which is quite hard, especially the last question which was basically some professor wanting to read some opinion. If I were a computing journalist, I probably choose that question.

SML isn’t that hard. What I studied came out, what I didn’t study I chose not to do. And I quickly went home and I try to see if the average function I wrote work in SML. And it did:

[code lang=”ocaml”]fun average x =
let
fun sum [] = 0.0
| sum (h::t) = h + sum t;
fun count [] = 0.0
| count (h::t) = 1.0 + count t;
in
sum x / count x
end;[/code]

I wrote this function very neatly on the paper. I never had so much sense of achievement writing an SML function.

An alternate way of writing would be probably:

[code lang=”ocaml”]fun average x = foldl op+ 0.0 x / real (length x);[/code]

You gotta love foldl sometimes.

Tomorrow’s paper is database. I probably won’t do too well for that. Lots of memorizing to do and my memory’s failing me.

Snipplets of what people are saying about AWARE

Sorry I just found the whole AWARE debate at Straits Times forum thread quite absurd. Here are some snipplets:

The open-minded Christian

It saddens me as a Christian ( which I believe literally should mean aspiring to Having a Christ like mind)) that the people who bear this name seem to have forgotten His commandment LOVE GOD AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER AS YOURSELF there is no othe rcommandment greater than these.

They have forgotten that it was the very act of loving and sitting with sinners that Christ was accused just as the new committee are accusing the old guard.

There is no commandment in the Bible which tells you to mattack anf make the already painful life of homosexuals harder. Please do not pick and pluck to justify your own agenda

It seems to me that the only people who have the mind like Christ are the old guard

truthFirst, April 25, 2009 Saturday 12:22 PM

I didn’t go to church today for various reasons (mainly deadlines to meet). On a side note, the world is changing and Christianity in America is in the decline.

In the name of Total Defense

Someone even brought in the Total Defense strategy. Do humans exist to serve these so-call strategies that humans come out with. Strategies will morph to suit the purpose of national defense.

Promote Lesbianism? What does that do to our already low procreation rate?

Where are we going to get our babies from..Where are our future soldiers going to come from ?

Where are going to get the next generation of workers and tax payers to look after the mid age and the elderly of today?

What does this do to our Health budget when STDs rise and gays demand cloning of babies?

Allowing gay activism and promotion in our schools will confuse our little girls.

This undermines our Total Defence Strategy.

Promoting Lesbianism is anti Nation building activity. Period – Shut down the lesbian movement before they shut down our beloved country with their deviant agenda !!!

Don’t be neutral. Think about the long term viability of our nation. Go to the EGM and stand up for decent family values and the Nation. Majullah Singapura!!!

nobird, April 25, 2009 Saturday 10:36 PM

I always get pissed when someone suggests cloning of babies. It’s not so much of it being unethical, it’s more of it being unneeded. Almost no one wants to see it, it’s out of touch and irrelevant in this era.

Gay movement liken to a virus invasion

Everyone is entitled to his or her own conviction. However to spread your own conviction to children without serious consideration, is like spreading virus to a healthy person. It can affect or be harmless depends on the immunity of the children. However do you think the old EXCO did the right thing? If those who think that old EXCO did the right thing by spreading the message that it was all right to have gay marriages, then there is nothing more to discuss. God bless these members of society.

csanson2004, April 25, 2009 Saturday 11:41 PM

And another suggest a quarantine

what about ALL those GAYS in local universities and tertiary institutions ?? ALL those GAYS in local universities are very disgusting , very very disgusting , they have AIDS AIDS virus , many of them have AIDS AIDS virus and they are spreading the AIDS AIDS virus to everybody . Why can’t they sent ALL these GAYS to prison for 40 years , 40 years in prison ? ALL these GAYS in local universities and tertiary insitutions should be sent to prison for 40 years , 40 years in prison They are spreading AIDS AIDS virus to everybpdy Why can’t they sent ALL these GAYS in local univerisities to prison for 40 years , 40 years in prison ? or the least they should be expelled from the local universities They are spreading AIDS AIDS virus to everybody They should be sent to prison for 40 years , 40 years in prison, ALL these GAYS in local universities and tertiary institutions should be sent to prison for 40 years , 40 years in prison

josiewong, April 26, 2009 Sunday 04:52 AM

I don’t have much opinion on the issue actually. I’m not even sure if AWARE is a Christian organization or it is just a general women issues organization. (I’m often unAWARE of the news.) If they’re affiliate to a religion, it is fine to spread the anti-gay sentiments as they believe. If they are not affiliated to any religion, then there is no enforcement required at all. Just don’t mix religion into any non-religious organization. I don’t think much people care about gay issues anyway.

Ultimately everyone has the right to choose what they believe in. If the organization does not align with your beliefs and you do not wish to accept their beliefs, then you’re just hijacking the organization, you really should be starting your own.

Interesting, this has become a wonderful opportunity for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) to spread awareness to the public, many of whom probably don’t care of their existence. The LGBT and Christian-haters seem to have form some sort of alliance or something. The enemy of my enemy is my friend?