Terry Pratchet
The Shepherd's Crown
A Discworld™ novel.

The Shepherd’s Crown

Terry Pratchett
The Shepherd's Crown
A Discworld™ novel.

The Shepherd’s Crown to me at a very busy time, so it took me some time to read it. While the story involves one new secondary character, the story is mostly about the witches, in fact I must admit there were so many characters from previous books that I got confused between some of the secondary characters.

While the story has the general feeling of a Terry Pratchett book, it also has a different feel, a different structure. Most previous novels involved a big tension buildup during the first part and a resolution with more or less large amounts of deus ex machina, here the tension buildup is quite weak, instead the narration feels more introspective.

Maybe this lack of tension is due to the lack of polish, maybe this was a desired feature, the book is still very pleasant to read, and this changed tone is probably a good way to end the series. My wife, who had not read any book in other DiscWorld novel, liked it, so it seems to stand on its own. Fans will find there a conclusion to Pratchett’s works.

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Viber Logo – A white phone receiver (📞) on a purple background

Viber encryption

Viber Logo – A white phone receiver (📞) on a purple background

A few weeks after has updated its messaging app to support end-to-end encryption and will be rolling out the feature in the following weeks. While Viber is not widely used in the US, it is pretty big in eastern Europe.

While it is interesting to see how end-to-end encryption was a niche feature for ages and suddenly it becomes a hot topic. The Snowden revelations and the following security fallout had an influence for sure, but the growing role of messaging system in online shopping is also relevant, I think.

What I find even more interesting is how key distribution was turned on its head: previous generations of instant messaging system treated all clients as equals and deploying end-to-end encryption meant distributing the private keys to all of them. Both WhatsApp and Viber treat the mobile phone as the primary device: it owns the identifier (the phone number) and authenticates secondary devices by scanning the QR code they display.

Keeping the keys on a mobile phone makes sense, most people have one, it is generally owned by the user and carried by her and its storage is often encrypted. A desktop computer is often shared, or owned by a corporation, and full disk encryption is pretty rare.

In a decade the desktop computer went from the center of the digital hub to being a secondary terminal…

Viber Logo © Viber.

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Screen capture showing a cryptographically signed e-mail from Swisscom

Encryption

Screen capture showing a cryptographically signed e-mail from Swisscom

A long time ago, I was told about the principle of change – that changes you expect typically take way more time than you expect them, but when they happen, they are typically much deeper than what you expected. While I fully understand the idea in theory, seeing it in practice is another. I was very early on the internet, yet I’m still impressed in the way this has changed society.

A similar change is encryption. The problem is not new, whole debacle played out while I was at the University, it was pretty much a specialist discussion. The Snowden revelations the latest spat between Apple and the FBI, but also movies like have brought the spotlight unto cryptography.

This in turn has affected IT companies, WhatsApp made a big splash when it announced encryption for all its users. On a more modest note, my ISP is now sending me my bills via cryptographically signed e-mails. The technology has been here for a long time, but the will do it is slowly showing up.

There is still a long way to go: society still has to figure how to treat personal data. Nor the data, nor the problem are going away any time soon.

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George Clooney
 Hail, Cæsar!

Hail, Cæsar!

George Clooney
 Hail, Cæsar!

I was really looking forward to the . The trailer looked fun, and promised a movie with the same humour as . It was running in the cinema complex close to our home, so we went to see it. The room was pretty empty for a Friday evening showing and we soon understood why: the movie is boring.

I often listener to . I did not year hear Hail, Cæsar’s critique (I’m listening to the podcast, and quite late), but I like one benchmark Kermode uses for comedies, the three laugh test. I got a few chuckles from this one.

Graphically, the movie is gorgeous, and you really feel a fascination and a love for this era of history of cinema. Somehow the movie reminded me of Who Framed Roger Rabbit – an homage to the history of cinema, and a movie that does not know what it is.

Up until the break, I was expecting the movie to really start, but that never happened. The big Lebowsky was pretty slow, which makes sense when you are following the life of the Dude, this movie is slower and depicts the guy who is supposed to be super busy. The whole movie is supposed to cover a bit more than a day, it felt like weeks.

This is particularly surprising because the actors are good (I loved George Clooney), there certainly plenty of fun potential in peplum movies and clearly this production had a big budget, but maybe this is the problem: big budget comedies are usually not funny.

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