A recent Twitter post comparing an older computer running Windows NT 3.51 and a newer one running Windows 11 showed the older computer loading apps instantly while the newer computer showed significant lag. This opened up a discussion on how, while computers have gotten better, performance on trivial tasks has regressed. Latency on modern computer interfaces is getting worse. Frameworks, layers of abstraction, and the mass adoption of managed and interpreted languages are causing a lot of this latency.
No protection without surveillance?
In 2013 and 2014, I wrote extensively about new revelations regarding NSA surveillance based on the documents provided by Edward Snowden. But I had a more personal involvement as well. I wrote the essay below in September 2013. The New Yorker agreed to publish it, but the Guardian asked me not to. It was scared of UK law enforcement, and worried that this essay would reflect badly on it. And given that the UK police would raid its offices in July 2014, it had legitimate cause to be worried. Now, ten years later, I offer this as a time capsule of what those early months of Snowden were like. It’s a surreal experience, paging through hundreds of top-secret NSA documents. You’re peering into a forbidden world: strange, confusing, and fascinating all at the same time. I had flown down to Rio de Janeiro in late August at the request of Glenn Greenwald. He had been working on the Edward Snowden archive for a couple of months, and had a pile of more technical documents that he wanted help interpreting. According to Greenwald, Snowden also thought that bringing me down was a good idea. It made sense. I didn’t know either of them, but I have been writing about cryptography, security, and privacy for decades. I could decipher some of the technical language that Greenwald had difficulty with, and understand the context and importance of various document. And I have long been publicly critical of the NSA’s eavesdropping capabilities. My knowledge and expertise could help figure out which stories needed to be reported. I thought about it a lot before agreeing. This was before David Miranda, Greenwald’s partner, was detained at Heathrow airport by the UK authorities; but even without that, I knew there was a risk. I fly a lot—a quarter of a million miles per year—and being put on a TSA list, or being detained at the US border and having my electronics confiscated, would be a major problem. So would the FBI breaking into my home and seizing my personal electronics. But in the end, that made me more determined to do it. I did spend some time on the phone with the attorneys recommended to me by the ACLU and the EFF. And I talked about it with my partner, especially when Miranda was detained three days before my departure. Both Greenwald and his employer, the Guardian, are careful about whom they show the documents to. They publish only those portions essential to getting the story out. It was important to them that I be a co-author, not a source. I didn’t follow the legal reasoning, but the point is that the Guardian doesn’t want to leak the documents to random people. It will, however, write stories in the public interest, and I would be allowed to review the documents as part of that process. So after a Skype conversation with someone at the Guardian, I signed a letter of engagement. And then I flew to Brazil. I saw only a tiny slice of the documents, and most of what I saw was surprisingly banal. The concerns of the top-secret world are largely tactical: system upgrades, operational problems owing to weather, delays because of work backlogs, and so on. I paged through weekly reports, presentation slides from status meetings, and general briefings to educate visitors. Management is management, even inside the NSA Reading the documents, I felt as though I were sitting through some of those endless meetings. The meeting presenters try to spice things up. Presentations regularly include intelligence success stories. There were details—what had been found, and how, and where it helped—and sometimes there were attaboys from “customers” who used the intelligence. I’m sure these are intended to remind NSA employees that they’re doing good. It definitely had an effect on me. Those were all things I want the NSA to be doing. There were so many code names. Everything has one: every program, every piece of equipment, every piece of software. Sometimes code names had their own code names. The biggest secrets seem to be the underlying real-world information: which particular company MONEYROCKET is; what software vulnerability EGOTISTICALGIRAFFE—really, I am not making that one up—is; how TURBINE works. Those secrets collectively have
Source: Snowden Ten Years Later
Ten years ago, Edward Snowden warned us about state spying. Spare a thought for him, and worry about the future | Alan Rusbridger
Even amid the cacophony of social media, most journalism is met with a shrug or a murmur. But one story the Guardian published 10 years ago today exploded with the force of an earthquake. The article revealed that the US National Security Agency (NSA) was collecting the phone records of millions of Verizon customers. In case anyone doubted the veracity of the claims, we were able to publish the top secret court order handed down by the foreign intelligence surveillance court (Fisa), which granted the US government the right to hold and scrutinise the metadata of millions of phone calls by American citizens. The document was marked TOP SECRET//SI//NOFORN – an extremely high level of classification which meant that it was not to be shared with any foreign governments, far less Guardian journalists or, God forbid, Guardian readers. Who knows the degree of panic that spread through the upper echelons of the US intelligence system as they tried to work out how such a sensitive document had found its way into the public domain. But that will have been nothing to the dawning realisation – in the UK as well as the US – that this was but the tip of a very large and ominous iceberg. Over the following weeks, the Guardian (joined by the Washington Post, New York Times and ProPublica) led the way in publishing dozens more documents disclosing the extent to which US, UK, Australian and other allied governments were building the apparatus for a system of mass surveillance that George Orwell could hardly have dared imagine when he wrote his dystopic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. Within a few days, the source of the documents, Edward Snowden, unmasked himself on the Guardian website and for weeks thereafter the stories dominated the news around the world. It has since been memorialised in at least three films, stage dramas, books, numerous academic papers … and even an album. It led to multiple court actions in which governments were found to have been in breach of their constitutional and/or legal obligations. It led to a scramble by governments to retrospectively pass legislation sanctioning the activities they had been covertly undertaking. And it has led to a number of stable-door attempts to make sure journalists could never again do what the Guar
Anythibng is possible these days. Maybe there is use for the Space Force.