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Lorem Ipsum: Of Good & Evil, Google & China — Krebs on Security
"Imagine discovering a secret language spoken only online by a knowledgeable and learned few. Over a period of weeks, as you begin to tease out the meaning of this curious tongue and ponder its purpose, the language appears to shift in subtle but fantastic ways, remaking itself daily before your eyes. And just when you are poised to share your findings with the rest of the world, the entire thing vanishes.

This fairly describes my roller coaster experience of curiosity, wonder and disappointment over the past few weeks, as I’ve worked alongside security researchers in an effort to understand how “lorem ipsum” — common placeholder text on countless Web sites — could be transformed into so many apparently geopolitical and startlingly modern phrases when translated from Latin to English using Google Translate. (If you have no idea what “lorem ipsum” is, skip ahead to a brief primer here).

Admittedly, this blog post would make more sense if readers could fully replicate the results described below using Google Translate. However, as I’ll explain later, something important changed in Google’s translation system late last week that currently makes the examples I’ll describe impossible to reproduce."



"The researchers wondered: What was going on here? Has someone outside of Google figured out how to map certain words to different meanings in Google Translate? Was it a secret or covert communications channel? Perhaps a form of communication meant to bypass the censorship erected by the Chinese government with the Great Firewall of China? Or was this all just some coincidental glitch in the Matrix?

For his part, Shoukry checked in with contacts in the U.S. intelligence industry, quietly inquiring if divulging his findings might in any way jeopardize important secrets. Weeks went by and his sources heard no objection. One thing was for sure, the results were subtly changing from day to day, and it wasn’t clear how long these two common but obscure words would continue to produce the same results.

“While Google translate may be incorrect in the translations of these words, it’s puzzling why these words would be translated to things such as ‘China,’ ‘NATO,’ and ‘The Free Internet,’” Shoukry said. “Could this be a glitch? Is this intentional? Is this a way for people to communicate? What is it?”

When I met Shoukry at the Black Hat security convention in Las Vegas earlier this month, he’d already alerted Google to his findings. Clearly, it was time for some intense testing, and the clock was already ticking: I was convinced (and unfortunately, correct) that much of it would disappear at any moment."



"In any case, we may never know the real explanation. Just before midnight, Aug. 16, Google Translate abruptly stopped translating the word “lorem” into anything but “lorem” from Latin to English. Google Translate still produces amusing and peculiar results when translating Latin to English in general.

A spokesman for Google said the change was made to fix a bug with the Translate algorithm (aligning ‘lorem ipsum’ Latin boilerplate with unrelated English text) rather than a security vulnerability.

Kraeh3n said she’s convinced that the lorem ipsum phenomenon is not an accident or chance occurrence.

“Translate [is] designed to be able to evolve and to learn from crowd-sourced input to reflect adaptations in language use over time,” Kraeh3n said. “Someone out there learned to game that ability and use an obscure piece of text no one in their right mind would ever type in to create totally random alternate meanings that could, potentially, be used to transmit messages covertly.”

Meanwhile, Shoukry says he plans to continue his testing for new language patterns that may be hidden in Google Translate.

“The cleverness of hiding something in plain sight has been around for many years,” he said. “However, this is exceptionally brilliant because these templates are so widely used that people are desensitized to them, and because this text is so widely distributed that no one bothers to question why, how and where it might have come from.”"
loremipsum  googletranslate  security  translation  latin  blackhat  ceciladams  cia  china  cicero  lancejames  michaelshoukry  nato 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Next American City » Sympathy for the Suburbs
"But Foreclosed seethes with disdain for the suburbs, and the lack of an empathetic understanding of how the suburbs function and are changing, ultimately makes the exhibit look less visionary than ignorant…

These radical visions that are so insensitive to the suburbs remind me of the Modernist public housing projects that were once foisted on inner cities. Created by well-intentioned but essentially ignorant architects and planners, those buildings made sense in theory but not in practice. They didn’t respond to the rhythms and needs of the people who would be housed there, because the architects didn’t really respect or understand the lives of poor people. MoMA should have found some architects who could love and live in the suburbs, showing us the way to make the most of suburban housing instead of wishing it didn’t exist."
hilarysample  michaelmeredith  losangeles  oregon  illinois  california  florida  newjersey  templeterrace  theoranges  cicero  keizer  rialto  cities  edglaeser  misregistration  repurposing  revitalization  infrastructure  jeannegang  WORKac  foreclosed  barrybergdoll  housing  andrewzago  buellhypothesis  moma  design  planning  poverty  urbanism  urban  architecture  suburbia  suburbs  2012  foreclosure  housingbubble  housingcrisis 
february 2012 by robertogreco
We Can't Teach Students to Love Reading - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education [Too much to quote]
"I don't think of the distinction btwn readers & nonreaders—better, those who love reading & those who don't so much—in terms of class, which may be a function of my being a teacher of literature rather than a sociologist, but may also be a function of my knowledge that readers can be found at all social stations…much of the anxiety about American reading habits…arises from frustration at not being able to sustain a permanent expansion of "the reading class" beyond what may be its natural limits…

American universities are largely populated by people who don't fit either category [readers & extreme readers]—often really smart people for whom the prospect of several hours attending to words on pages (pages of a single text) is not attractive…

All this is to say that the idea that many teachers hold today, that one of the purposes of education is to teach students to love reading—or at least to appreciate & enjoy whole books—is largely alien to the history of education."
teaching  reading  learning  attention  alanjacobs  nicholascarr  books  academia  extremereaders  autodidacts  concentration  joyofreading  unschooling  deschooling  allsorts  allkindsofminds  2011  clayshirky  stevenpinker  staugustine  virgil  cicero  georgesteiner  annblair  studying  children  sirfrancisbacon  francisbacon  infooverload  filterfailure  text  texts  mariccasaubon  peternorvig  jonathanrose  homer  dante  shakespeare  attentiveness  kindle  hyperattention 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Charlotte Higgins says one of the most interesting aspects of Barack Obama's speeches is the enormous debt they owe to the oratory of the Romans | World news | The Guardian
"Here's the thing: to understand the next four years of American politics, you are going to need to understand something of the politics of ancient Greece and Rome.
via:regine  barackobama  rhetoric  speech  oratory  elections  2008  ancientgreece  ancientrome  communication  cicero 
november 2008 by robertogreco

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