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Adventures in Engineering
The wanderings of a modern ronin.

Ben Cantrick
  Date: 2007-06-23 15:39
  Subject:   Cell phone bugging: Who told you so?
  Mood:fed up with YOU
  Tags:  reddit

give a talk called "The Future of Privacy," where I talk about current and future technological developments that erode our privacy. One of the things I talk about is auditory eavesdropping, and I hypothesize that a cell phone microphone could be turned on surreptitiously and remotely.

I never had any actual evidence one way or the other, but the technique has surfaced in an organized crime prosecution:

The surveillance technique came to light in an opinion published this week by U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan. He ruled that the "roving bug" was legal because federal wiretapping law is broad enough to permit eavesdropping even of conversations that take place near a suspect's cell phone.

Kaplan's opinion said that the eavesdropping technique "functioned whether the phone was powered on or off." Some handsets can't be fully powered down without removing the battery; for instance, some Nokia models will wake up when turned off if an alarm is set.


When I posted about this in 2003, you probably thought I was off the deep end and/or clinically paranoid. What a difference 4 years makes, eh?

So, which issues am I warning you about today that you're ignoring and dismissing?
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Ben Cantrick
  Date: 2007-06-23 16:04
  Subject:   If you don't know how compilers work, then you don't truly know how computers work.
  Mood:der uber-nerd
  Tags:  digg

If you don't know how compilers work, then you don't truly know how computers work. If you're not 100% sure whether you know how compilers work, then you don't know how they work.

In fact, Compiler Construction is, in my own humble and probably embarrassingly wrong opinion, the second most important CS class you can take in an undergraduate computer science program.

Why?Collapse )


This is a long rant, but I enjoyed it. Compiler construction was the one CS class that I never got to take in college, and to this day I'm still annoyed about that. I've tried to teach myself to an equivalent level. I bought the Dragon book, I know what a BNF grammar and LALR parser are, I learned lex and yacc, even wrote my own small Forth interpreter with them. And I'm still not sure if I'm smart enough to create my own languages and compilers.

Incidentally - Do not use the Dragon book as your first book on compiler construction! Hardcore C programmers with a lot of spare time to write code will be much better served by Ronald Mak's "Writing Compilers and Interpreters". Everyone else who just wants a good introductory text... well I'm still looking. Torben Mogensen's "Basics Of Compiler Design" is worth a shot.
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May 2015