Bright Stove

Reflecting information risk journey

Archive for January 2008

中国地图

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Windows Live has recently released publicly a new Beta version of an online searchable map of China. See http://ditu.live.com, which is 地图@live.com. This should help those who are visiting places in China to get a better orientation and also locate places using Chinese road names, restaurant names, etc. I personally used this a lot when it was still an internal Beta. Now that it is publicly available, it is even more convenient to check out places with my Windows Mobile device while on the road.

Written by mengchow

January 29, 2008 at 7:19 am

Posted in Travel

Rocks or rubbish

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Some issues are rubbish, while other are stones, or rocks. When we walk along a street and see some rubbish, it is alright for us to help clear it and clean up the street. Few people would get unhappy over such a gesture. On the other hand, when it is a piece of rock placed by someone, especially a big rock, it usually means something. Most people would not try to remove it, or crush it, but simply make a detour over it and get on with our own business. If we try to remove it, it is likely to cause unhappiness by those who have placed it on the street. The simple act of going against the flow of someone (by removing their rocks) would usually result in bigger issues, or troubles for us or them, or more people. This is an analogy that a professor used when he spoke about responding to issues in China. There are issues that are simply rocks, so we should be smart in handling them, bypassing or ignoring them if possible. It is unlikely that we would gain anything by trying to remove or crush such rocks.

Written by mengchow

January 24, 2008 at 1:43 am

Posted in Risk Management

Taxi Communicator 2

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Like all popular movies, they quickly become a series, with new twists to the original story, and also new casts of characters. Sometimes they turn out to be more interesting, other times, they just flop. I was in Hongkong in November 2007, and in one of the evenings, got on board this taxi that looks like an enhanced version of the Taxi Communicator that I blogged about after my August 2007 visit.
This time, I have a chance to take a picture inside the taxi to show the line up of phones and gadgets on the dashboard. The unfortunate thing is that it was rather dark in the cab and I didn’t use a flash for the snapshot. This taxi has three mobile phones attached (rather than two), and more fancy things hanging all over. Looks like this is a trend thing for the taxi in Hongkong now.
20080119-Treo 001 (2)

Written by mengchow

January 23, 2008 at 12:32 am

Posted in Travel

On “Has the entire AV industry been wrong since its start?”

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Have not been using Windows Live Writer for a while since trying out the beta version. On running it again today, after installing the release version, then discovered that I have the blog below drafted but not completed and published. It is great that the Writer application didn’t simply discard the old data associated to the beta version. So, here’s the long overdue one to share.

Sep 12, 2007. Just come across this article, which commented on Joanna Rutkowska’s comments about the ineffective of AV approaches today, and that digital signature is the way to go:

Has the entire AV industry been wrong since its start?

This is another classic "silver bullet" idea, or in Chinese saying, a "Xian Dan" (仙丹) that can get rid of and prevent all kinds of illness. Unfortunately, the nature of information security is that it exists as part of a larger system, and as the threat environment and technology, process, and people aspects of the system change, the security requirements change. A solution today may even become a vulnerability tomorrow. There’s no silver bullet.

Take the digital signature approach as proposed for example. Digital signature relies on cryptography, and more commonly, public key cryptography. Public key cryptography depends on the security of a mathematical trapdoor that can only be unlocked by the private (or secret) key. If the trapdoor can be found without using the private key (as some public key cryptographic algorithms were cracked before, such as the Knapsack Cipher), the system breaks. As such, there’s a dependency involved, and therefore associated risk to be considered. No perfect solution. The approach, I would think necessary, is always be prepared for potential failures. Understand how failures may occur, and determine the triggering events that we need to monitor so that we can respond at the earliest moment, in a most effective manner. Technology, or security techniques, should not be the starting point for evaluating security problems. Understanding the security problems should be the starting point.

Written by mengchow

January 21, 2008 at 4:41 pm

Posted in Risk Management

Taxi Entrepreneur

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While the taxi drivers in Hongkong are technologically geared to receive more calls and communicate better to improve their livelihood, those in the Taipei city are taking a different approach, in the form of "application diversification" perhaps. During my visit to Taipei in October 2007, I started to find numerous taxi having the back of the front seats used as a platform for displaying accessories and other small items for sales to the passengers sitting behind.

20071013-Taiwan 030 20071013-Taiwan 029

The experience, as a passenger, was interesting, or rather, refreshing. I would rarely look at these women’s accessories on the streets, unless my wife or daughter wanted my opinion for what they are looking. In the taxi, I have the closest, non-interference encounter with these kinds of stuff. I think women passengers (young or elder alike) should be fascinated with such experience, especially when there’s a traffic jam on the way to shopping. A taxi no longer just takes you from point A to point B. It has other applications add-on now. This is also a major change from being a passive platform using radio, TV, or printed advertisements at the back to evangelize something or market a product or service. It is retail on the move.

Written by mengchow

January 20, 2008 at 4:16 pm

Posted in Travel

Calmness hazard

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I was reviewing some of the photographs that I have taken in the past months during the many trips I had abroad and within China, and found one (below) amongst the collection, which reminded me about the visit I had in Taipei in October 2007. In the two weeks that I was there, the news media were reporting on issues involving one Minister digging his nose (being caught on camera, live in TV broadcast), and others commenting on a phrase used by an opposition candidate, Ma YinJiu, that the problem in Taiwan was essentially "economic, stupid!", taking the phrase from a speech by former US President Bill Clinton previously. Other politicians followed with "stupid!" ending in their speeches essentially that week during most of the debates. It was hard to dissect what they were really focusing and debating as issues. Taipei city was in autumn and calm otherwise. The picture below seems to depict the situation.

20071013-Taiwan 009

The picture was taken at the entrance to a pool, but not sure what kind of pool it was though. At first glance, it presents calmness, and quietness. The signboard didn’t really state what it was, neither was there other labels around the area to give further clues. On the left, the warning sign depicts a stroke crossing over a palm above water. Does this sign means no waving above the water, or no sinking allowed in the pool? It probably try to signal no swimming, but there wasn’t any drawing of a swimmer or something related. The writing on the notice below didn’t state anything about swimming as well. The notice board below states in Chinese 危险!水深危险,严禁入池, which has the English phrases "Danger!", and "Restricted Pool" as well. Here, the Chinese phrase and English translation differs. What the Chinese phrase states is that the pool is deep and dangerous, entrance to the pool is not allowed (prohibited), not merely a restricted pool. 

On the right side of this signboard sits two statues of a sleeping monk (there’s another one on the other side of the entrance that is not captured in this picture). The two statues provide calm to the situation, but what do they really mean? Again, quite clueless. Does it means that one should sleep rather than visit the pool? Or does it means that even though there’s the warning sign, people may disobey and enter the pool; they would rather rest and sleep than to really prohibit? Or does it means that even if they place two human guards at the entrance, they would likely sleep there than doing their duties; perhaps having two statues of sleeping monks there would achieve the same, with less or no maintenance cost involved? Nevertheless, taken as a whole, it seems to reflect a state of calmness hazard, like what’s happening in the city at that moment.

Written by mengchow

January 20, 2008 at 3:03 am

Posted in Travel

Waterfree – you can actually buy it

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I remained curious as to why "Waterfree" was printed on the label above the urinal in the male toilets at the Beijing International airport, and did a search (invoking Windows Live of course) using it as the keyword. Interestingly, a list of companies supplying the "waterfree" urinal products were displayed. So it is a brand name, and not a translation error. I should have done the search before I wrote that blog entry. Anyway, a few friends who read it found it interesting and didn’t think that it was a brand name as well. The fact that the word does not looks like a brand logo, and is printed just below the Chinese phrase stating that flushing is not required, makes it appeared that it is a translation of the Chinese phrase. There goes the fun.
 
At the same time, I was reading Alan Greenspan’s "The Age of Turbulence", his semi-biography and insightful view and thoughts of the turbulent world from an economist’s perspective, revealed that the idea of the "Thinking Room" is not just a lay person’s practice, but also those of great contributors like himself. In a number of instances in the book, Greenspan highlighted the importance of the bathroom as a thinking room. Here’s one of those:
The concept of irrational exuberance came to me in the bathtub one morning as I was writing a speech. To this day, the bathtub is where I get many of my best ideas. My assistants have gotten used to typing from drafts scrawled on damp yellow pads–a chore that got much easier once we found a kind of pen whose ink doesn’t run. Immersed in my bath, I’m as happy as Archimedes as I contemplate the world. [p. 176, "The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World", Alan Greenspan]
A moment of solitary each day is a good thing to practice, and might just helps things to flow better.
 

Written by mengchow

January 19, 2008 at 7:26 am

Posted in Awareness

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