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Ralsina.Me — Roberto Alsina's website

My very own Roger Ebert anecdote

It was around the time "The Blair Witch Pro­jec­t" was a thing so it must have been in 1999 or 2000, that when I was read­ing Roger Ebert's "Movie An­swer Man" colum­n, I thought, hey, I may have some­thing to say about this.

I emailed him about how the "found footage" genre was old, cit­ing 1980's Can­ni­bal Holo­caust, and even go­ing back to Edgar Al­lan Poe's "Arthur Gor­don Pym" which is (of course) a found man­u­script. We ex­changed a few email­s, he was al­ways thought­ful, po­lite, will­ing to have a nice con­ver­sa­tion. He even­tu­al­ly asked about what was the best pos­si­ble time to vis­it Buenos Aires, I said spring or fal­l, sug­gest­ed that he may be in­ter­est­ed in at­tend­ing BAFI­CI, and even­tu­al­ly it pe­tered out.

So, not much as anec­dotes go, but it made me re­al­ize I had been read­ing his re­views and ar­ti­cles (and lat­er his blog and his twit­ter feed) for over 15 years.

I re­mem­ber see­ing him do a cameo in a lame TV show (the one with the guy that has a mag­i­cal dog that brings him to­mor­row's news­pa­per or some­thing), and think­ing, hey, I know that guy, sort of.

Now that he's dead, it seems he was, for ev­ery­one, the same he was for me, gra­cious, friend­ly, in­ter­est­ing.

He was the kind of guy who wrote re­views for Deep Throat and co-au­thored a Russ Mey­er movie, and was al­ways ready to say that a movie was crap yet good crap be­cause there are de­grees of crap, and you have to take crap in its own terms.

I'll miss the guy.

Security Cargo Cults

Ear­li­er I men­tioned a hack I use when I need to get a clean brows­er quick. Here it is again:

rm -f ~/.config/ralsina/devicenzo.conf
curl | python

Since that got post­ed on red­dit (no, not link­ing it), it trig­gered "in­ter­est­ing" ar­gu­ments. Ba­si­cal­ly many were shocked (shocked) about run­ning ar­bi­trary in­ter­net code lo­cal­ly in this man­ner. It's in­se­cure. While I am by no means a se­cu­ri­ty ex­pert, at least I know I am ig­no­ran­t.

Let's ex­am­ine that in­se­cu­ri­ty claim a lit­tle, in the con­text of what I was propos­ing. I am try­ing to tell peo­ple "here's a small web brows­er that re­quires no set­up and since it's not your main browser, you can nuke it and re­set its state eas­i­ly be­fore run­ning it, like this".

So, what's wrong with do­ing it that way, ac­cord­ing to the com­menter­s:

It's insecure because you can't see the code before running it because it's piped.

Well, that makes it ex­act­ly as in­se­cure as ev­ery un­signed bi­na­ry you ev­er down­load­ed. Or, let's be hon­est, ev­ery shell scrip­t, python scrip­t, perl script etc you have ev­er down­load­ed. Or you au­dit them?

Who ex­act­ly is be­ing pre­vent­ed from au­dit­ing it by hav­ing it pre­sent­ed this way? Is the in­ter­sec­tion of "peo­ple who can au­dit this scrip­t" and "pople who don't un­der­stand pipes" not emp­ty?

For those who can au­dit, this makes no dif­fer­ence. For those who can't au­dit, this makes no dif­fer­ence.

It would be better if I provided a hash of the file to know it's not tampered

And how would you know the hash is not tam­pered? Wat you wan­t, re­al­ly is a dig­i­tal sig­na­ture of the scrip­t.

If you trust google (and usu­al­ly, peo­ple do), then you know that:

  1. The script was up­­load­­ed by me (check the his­­to­ry of the file)

  2. The script has not been tam­pered from the re­po (s­ince it's a se­cure con­nec­­tion and yes, there is a hash of the re­vi­­sion)

If you don't trust google, then you don't know who up­load­ed it, and if you don't trust me, you don't care who up­load­ed it, even if it's signed (be­cause it's signed by some­one you don't trust).

How does the user know it's not malware?

He does­n't. Life is like that.

Why should the user trust you?

He should­n't. OTO­H, were he so in­clined, he can check who wrote it, and that I am a re­al per­son, with a long his­to­ry of shar­ing code on­line and no claims of ev­er push­ing mal­ware.

This is more insecure because it downloads on every run

You don't need to run mal­ware more than on­ce, any­way. So, not much of a dif­fer­ence.

This propagates bad habits

So does Dunk­in' Donut­s, and noone posts about it at red­dit. But in any case, sure, it's a bad habit. Big deal.

So, is it se­cure? Hell no! Is it sig­nif­i­cant­ly less se­cure than in­stalling a ran­dom PPA you see men­tioned in a fo­rum? Maybe slight­ly. Is it less se­cure than run­ning ran­dom un­signed bi­na­ries? Hell no. Is it less se­cure than down­load­ing and run­ning it? No. Is it less se­cure than build­ing a ran­dom thing from source? Hell no.

But is it less se­cure than the oth­er re­al­is­tic ways in which I can give you a 100+ line chunk of python code that works as a web browser? I don't think so.

In the con­text of "here's the code for it, it can do this", this is not sig­nif­i­cant­ly in­se­cure. It's more or less as in­se­cure as the al­ter­na­tives. With the ad­van­tage that, if you wan­t, you can au­dit it. It's 128 lines of code (as­sum­ing you trust Qt and PyQt and Python, etc)

So there.

El motivo de la visita de la presidenta al papa, según la UCR

"Se ve que la visi­ta de la Pres­i­den­ta al Pa­pa no sirvió de na­da [...] Son ab­so­lu­ta­mente ir­re­spetu­osos. Di­cen que no van a acep­tar ningu­na mod­i­fi­cación y hablan de de­moc­ra­ti­zar"

—José Cano, jefe del bloque de senadores de la UCR

Por fin al­guien en este país que destapa la ol­la, que mues­tra la en­tretela de la políti­ca, que bate la jus­ta, que can­ta las cuarenta, que cacarea donde al­guien, sí, es­ta vez pu­so el hue­vo.

Me saco el som­brero, es más, me saco el cuero ca­bel­lu­do ante José Cano, ín­cli­to senador rad­i­cal y su ca­paci­dad, cual Mr. Mús­cu­lo par­la­men­tar­i­o, de sacar to­da la su­ciedad que el ofi­cial­is­mo es­conde.

¿Porque ya saben, el mo­ti­vo por el que la pres­i­den­ta fue al Vat­i­cano? Para que los rad­i­cales ten­gan más senadores puedan así cam­biar los proyec­tos de la may­oría. O tal vez para que no les ha­gan nana en los sen­timien­tos. En­ton­ces, para la próx­i­ma elec­ción de senadores, vote Vig­go Mortensen / Aragorn. Ha­ga fe­liz a un pa­pa.

Forget about "incognito mode", use a throwaway browser!

It's not be­cause I wrote it (ok, yes, it's be­cause I wrote it) but if you ev­er need a "clean" browser, with­out cook­ies etc for test­s, you can do worse than us­ing my De­vi­cen­zo like this:

rm -f ~/.config/ralsina/devicenzo.conf
curl | python

The first line re­moves all con­fig­u­ra­tion, cook­ies, etc, you may have and the sec­ond one down­loads the lat­est ver­sion (don't wor­ry, it takes about 2 sec­ond­s) and launch­es it.

And voilá, a com­plete­ly fresh out­-of-the-box, we­bkit-based browser, with no pre­vi­ous his­to­ry, cook­ies, or con­fig­u­ra­tion, fair­ly fea­ture-­com­plete.

Carrió es así y piensa eso, vótenla si quieren

Span­ish-on­ly be­cause it's about ar­gen­tine pol­i­tics

"Es mar­avil­loso lo que es­tá pasan­do aunque sea muy difí­cil y aunque haya muer­tos"

“La trage­dia de La Pla­ta es una trage­dia más. No hu­biera pasa­do na­da si no el número de muer­tos no hu­biera si­do tan im­por­tante. En con­se­cuen­cia es­os muer­tos des­de una mi­ra­da son los que se ll­e­va Dios para que al­go pase [...] Al­go pasó muy grave ¿y que es lo tan grave? ¿La llu­vi­a? No. ¿La in­un­dación [...]? No."

"¿­Por fa­vor es­to no hay medios no? Ja­ja­ja­ja"

—Lili­ta Car­rió

¿Qué pasa cuan­do vos pen­sás que to­do lo que pasa pasa por un mo­tivo? ¿Qué pasa cuan­do vos es­tás con­ven­ci­do de que sabés ese mo­tivo? Pasa es­to. Pasa que hablás de los muer­tos de hace dos días mien­tras te cagás de risa y con­tás chistes.

De­spués de todo, se murieron, sí, pero se murieron porque dios, que es bueno, quiere que Lili­ta sea pres­i­den­ta, ¿no? O al­go así. Ese creer que to­do tiene un mo­ti­vo es la raíz de la ab­so­lu­ta in­ca­paci­dad de em­pa­ti­zar de Lili­ta en este ca­so.

Porque tiene tres op­ciones, puede creer que a ve­ces pasan cosas malas por ca­su­al­i­dad y dios no tiene na­da que ver, y se ha­cen pe­o­res por im­peri­ci­a, o por neg­li­gen­ci­a, o puede creer que ese dios en que el­la cree hi­zo al­go mal­o, o puede creer que en re­al­i­dad es al­go bueno, pero el­la es la úni­ca que lo ve.

Claro, se murieron 50, 60 per­sonas, o las que sean, pero es bueno, porque va a hac­er que cam­bie al­go (y no, no va a hac­er que cam­bie un cara­jo na­da im­por­tan­te).

Y en­tonces la gente que vea es­to, porque por suerte al­guien lo grabó, y vea que Lili­ta se ca­ga de risa mien­tras habla de los muer­tos, y cuen­ta chis­tes, y dice que es mar­avil­loso aunque se hayan muer­to, po­brecitos, sepa lo que pien­sa Lili­ta.

Porque Lili­ta sí, pien­sa que to­do lo que pasa tiene un mo­tivo, y cree que el­la es la que nos va a sal­var a to­dos, y que to­do lo ma­lo que pase va a ll­e­var­la a ese 60% del que habla al prin­ci­p­i­o, y que de­trás de to­do lo que pase es­tá dios, que quiere que el­la sea pres­i­den­ta.

Ten­emos una cosa a fa­vor, eso sí, nosotros, los que sabe­mos que dios no ex­is­te, que la llu­via no la man­da el tata dios, que las in­un­da­ciones son una com­bi­nación de una llu­via de la pu­ta madre y fal­ta de obras, y sabe­mos que Lili­ta es­tá co­mo una cabra.

Pode­mos ver­la hablar, es­cuchar lo que dice, y es­cribir, de­cir­le a nue­stros amigos, o lo que sea, Lili­ta es así. Lili­ta cree es­o. Lili­ta cree que es mar­avil­loso que se muer­an 60 per­sonas porque eso la va a ayu­dar a ga­nar elec­ciones. Y si te muri­eras vos tam­bién le vería el la­do bueno.

Y ni siquiera es cier­to. Porque Lili­ta no rompe más el 1% ni aunque caiga un me­te­ori­to. Porque Lili­ta es así, y Lili­ta cree es­o.

Vóten­la si quieren.

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