31 March, 2013

Humanity's Last Game

The Challenge

This year's Game Design Challenge task (an event of the Game Developer Conference) was to design humanity's last made game - to reflect challenge takes place for the very last time.

The winner, a handcrafted tabletop-game, titled A Game for Someone was the only non-software contribution. However not only to be made of titanium and included with game instruction in form of nine pictogramms, its creator Jason Rohrer also buried it (in an endurable glass cylinder) somewhere in the nowhere of Nevada. Of course not without geocoding its location and inserting it into a collection of about one million different coordinates, which he handed out at conference.

The Conclusion

So, what have we learned from that? It takes 2786 years to explore all possible dig sites if you do one a day. Plus, when finally found one day (in the far future) we might face the next Voynich manuscript as one heise-online user pointed out...

30 March, 2013

Cybercrime before the advent of IP networks


An early case of cybercrime, dated back into the late nineteen eighties caught my interest while I was browsing one of the recently released National Security Agency's internal published Cryptolog magazines. The events about the hunt for German computer hackers, who broke (on behalf of Soviet Unions' Committee for State Security, or KGB) into a computer at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBL) have been published one year after the incident in the book The Cuckoo's Egg.


Clifford Stoll (the author) managed some computers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California. One day, in August 1986, his supervisor (Dave Cleveland) asked him to resolve a USD$ 0.75 accounting error in the computer usage accounts. He traced the error to an unauthorized user who had apparently used up 9 seconds of computer time and not paid for it, and eventually realized that the unauthorized user was a hacker who had acquired root access to the LBL system by exploiting a vulnerability in the movemail function of the original GNU Emacs...

TV documentary

Based on the events, there's also a surprisingly well done screen adaption. At least if you have a certain passion for vintage VMS/Unix stuff...

Btw, the 1998 released German movie 23 - Nichts ist so wie es scheint told part of the story from the hackers point of view, as IMDB states.

29 March, 2013

Anatomy of the Internet

I recently stumbled upon the phrase Autonomous System. Among other meanings, as mathematics or robotic this term also describes the hierarchical organization of the Internet and leads to a better understanding of definitions like:
A network of networks that consists of private, public, academic, business, and government networks [...], that are linked by networking technologies
Be sure to have a look at xkcd's webcomic Map of the Internet which maps the related address space in chartform.