Browsing Posts in Ramblings

Update: In an article published by the BBC, it now seems that the US and Israel were behind Stuxnet. Read Article.

Labeled as

... the first (Malware) to target the industrial equipment used in power plants and other large scale installations.

; this seemingly innocuous story caught my attention last Friday (Nov 19th).

A "Worm" made of three distinct components; a very complex ability to control PLC's (Programmable Logic Controllers) used in large scale industrial applications, an ability to distribute and replicate itself and lastly a method for it's creators to communicate with it.

What makes the story interesting though is the implications that it brings about if true. The article goes on to claim that the programming logic left behind several important clues in tracing it's origins. Tom Parker of security firm Securicon went on to suggest that the PLC component was possibly the work of a contracted coder from the West whilst the latter 2 components that dealt with distribution and control were added later with less advanced code, implying that the Worm was the work of "a Western nation" rather than high-tech criminals.

Arousing the conspirator in me you could debate several conclusions. The implications: A "Western nation" contracted PLC programming logic from a third-party and then developed it's own distribution and control logic. PLC logic has the potential to control the operation of pumps and motors in large industrial scale applications; most notably centrifuges, an important component in Uranium enrichment.

Referred to as "Stuxnet", the Worm has since been associated with Iran's continuing Uranium enrichment problems. Now think about it. Most NATO countries (particularly Western countries) have issues with Iran pursuing Uranium enrichment citing a possible nuclear weapons program as the real reason for it's continuing nuclear program. A Western nation has been suspected of contracting the PLC component and it's method of distribution.

Could a Western nation be trying to sabotage Iran's ability to successfully enrich Uranium? Recently Western nation's have become very nervous of Iran and North Korea's nuclear programs. Only just today the U.S. sent Stephen Bosworth as "Special Representative for North Korea Policy" to North Korea to investigate claims of a possible North Korea/Iranian connection.

The U.S. is openly public about it's skepticism towards North Korea and Iran's nuclear programs, so much so that sanctions and embargoes were levied on Iran.

Is this Malware a contracted attempt to ensure that a "Western nation" could retain control over the debatable intent of other nations nuclear enrichment programs? To spy on other nations nuclear programs?

Could Iran or North Korea have planted this Malware themselves to grow momentum and support against the West's over site of their nuclear programs?

Whilst Iran and North Korea are a decade or more, I hope, away from Uranium enrichment and "plausible" nuclear weapons, it stills makes me a little nervous of the outcome if these implications are true. Could we have another potential Cold War era?

We can all take a guess as to where the U.S's largest satellite, launched today and, ironically, replacing "a slew of Cold War-era satellites", will be heading! : -)

Further Reading

On November 16th Facebook acquired another Silicon Valley "startup"; Walletin.

It's co-founders; Cory Ondrejka and Bruce Rogers are both notable figures in the (social) gaming world. Ondrejka was CTO for Linden Labs of Second Life fame and Bruce Rogers was a coder at Atari and CTO of gaming company Cryptic Studios.

Most people are pretty excited to see what these two former CTOs will get up to at Facebook; many are already predicting the two will contribute heavily towards Facebook's evolution of social gaming (Farmville anyone!?). In whatever capacities though; to quote a joint statement from the Walletin website, the pair said "It's going to be fun."

However it wasn't necessarily the news that two of Silicon Valley's social gaming pro's joined the guys at Facebook; but rather, a single quote:

Instead we met our people. Engineers focused on getting shit done…

A great one-liner, a one-liner that harmoniously resonates with my own ethnology. Take a look at some of the most inspirational entrepreneurs of our time; Sir Richard Branson (with his aptly titled autobiography "Screw It, Let's Do It...", Steve Jobs "Real Artists Ship" are just a couple, but they were ALL about getting stuff done!

Jobs’s speeches were punctuated by slogans. Perhaps the most telling epigram of all was a three-word koan that Jobs scrawled on an easel in January 1983, when the project [the release of the first Mac] was months overdue. Real Artists Ship. It was an awesome encapsulation of the ground rules in the age of technological expression. ... One’s creation, quite simply, did not exist as art if it was not out there, available for consumption, doing well.... The final step of an artist—the single validating act—was geting his or her work into boxes, at which point the marketing guys take over. Once you get the computers into people’s homes, you have penetrated their minds. At that point all the clever design decisions you made, all the tists and turns of the interface, the subtle dance of mode and modeless, the menu bars and trash cans and mouse buttons and everything else inside and outside your creation, becomes part of people’s lives, transforms their working habits, permeates their approach to their labor, and ultimately, their lives.

But to do that, to make a difference in the world and a dent in the universe, you had to ship. You had to ship. You had to ship.

Real artists ship.

- Steven Levy "Insanely Great" (Chronicle of the first Mac).

From another rambling I posted last year in October 2009; "The Duct Tape Programmer"

Jamie Zawinski is what I would call a duct-tape programmer. And I say that with a great deal of respect. He is the kind of programmer who is hard at work building the future, and making useful things so that people can do stuff. He is the guy you want on your team building go-carts, because he has two favorite tools: duct tape and WD-40. And he will wield them elegantly even as your go-cart is careening down the hill at a mile a minute. This will happen while other programmers are still at the starting line arguing over whether to use titanium or some kind of space-age composite material that Boeing is using in the 787 Dreamliner.

When you are done, you might have a messy go-cart, but it’ll sure as hell fly.

It's all about getting stuff done. I'm about getting stuff done. I'm about innovating, about pushing personal boundaries. Denying the impossible and achieving something great!

I was just sitting here watching the presentation Steve Jobs gave earlier today announcing the release of Apple's latest device in it's "i-series"; the iPad. As I sat watching a relaxed Jobs recline in a chair on stage, whizzing through one of the devices very first 'apps'; the "New York Times", whilst his every move was relayed onto a larger screen for the audience, I couldn't help but think to myself that the skeptics out there who are already doubting the need for a third category of device between laptops and PDA's could actually have it wrong.

It's not a third category, I think it will replace a category, completely redefine it. Think about it. What do most people use their laptop's for. Email and Surfing the Web. Writing content on blogs, using Facebook.

I can do all that on the iPad, why would I want to use a mouse. Even hardcore business applications such as MSOffice and specialist technology apps like lightwave and Adobe's CS suite. To be able use my finger as the mouse, to touch, to draw, to point rather than click. I think I'd rather do that. The User Interface for the iPhone/iPad is simple, intuitive. Clean; none of the extravagance typical OS's burden you with. A brilliant concept seen in Google Chrome, no bells and whistles... just web-browsing!

Our CEO mentioned two keywords in an earlier meeting this year: 'Simple' and 'Response', give the user what they want. Those words have stuck. Apple have done just that. A simple device that delivers response. No fluff! I honestly think that good, well designed tablet devices will replace the laptop. That's my theory anyway!