These are the Belladonnas of the digital garden.

Whereas many people imagine that the future will hold untold technological wonders, each of which will be indistinguishable from magic, the truth of the matter is that the future is subtractive.

Why ? Because time breaks bullshit and that which has lasted is more resiliant than that which is new. This is why the adage “there is nothing new in the world, except for the history you didn’t know” is so bang-on. Flying autonomous cars were just as much of a dream in 1950i as they are today, whereas the cutlery, wine, and chairs that I interact with daily are almost indistinguishable from those in the high courts of 12th century Britain.

Quite simply, technology doesn’t progress linearly, it jumps forward in stochastic leaps and bounds. Any predictions of technological adoption or ‘progress’ are as meritorious as shamanistic incantations, and exactly as accurate.ii And in between technological bursts, otherwise beautiful but functionally poisonous flowers blossom every which way, injecting their toxins into unsuspecting hosts.

In the computing space, this little digital garden of ours, some of the most poisonous offerings are sold as “easier, more convenient, and more efficient.”iii

The following list, therefore, for the benefit of any and all, is a directory of flowers, like the beautiful Atropa belladonna, that you’re better off avoiding if you have even a passing interest in survival. Looking back in a decade or two, you may be pleasantly surprised to remember the days when anyone of importiv used any of these :

2-Factor Authentication : Instead of encouraging you to make a proper passphrase with a diceware list, 2FA lulls you into a false sense of security. It doesn’t work for and it won’t work for you.

Anti-virus software : This is pure security theatre. If you need a rubber stamp to make you feel safe about your computing environment, you’re either a professional ass-coverer or a just very simple man indeed.

Cloud storage : “The cloud” is but a euphemism for “someone else’s hard drive.” As ever, if you’re not the owner, you’re the slave.

Javascript : Regularly used to make websites more “dynamic,” Javascipt is widely used in phishing attacks and to execute malicious code on the client’s computer.

PDF : There are no less than 279 critical vulnerabilities published for Adobe Reader and hundreds of “less serious” ones that don’t exactly inspire confidence. Oh, and did I mention that the files themselves are also unimaginably heavy and predicated on USGavin’s infinite bandwidth theory of the world ? God knows how anyone still uses this file format.

Public WiFi : You can’t always be behind your firewall at home, sometimes you need to venture out in the wide blue yonder. When you do, use a dummy device for expressly that purpose, don’t travel with your private keys.

Systemd : An effort to make Linux operating systems “faster” and “more efficient,” this replacement for the init start-up system is designed to replace the usual, readable shell scripts with a some very questionable binary cruft. The result is more dependencies than a crack whore and similar levels of appeal for those of refined taste. As a result, some argue that systemd has already lost the war.

Social media : If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product. Social media services rely on revenue generated from selling your personal data and they’ll do everything in their power to extract more of it from you.v

SSL : “Secure Sockets Layer,” designated by the “HTTPS” address prefix in your browser’s search bar, is perhaps best remembered by Bitcoiners for having been integrated into Bitcoin Core 0.9 by one Mike Hearn right before the Heartbleed security vulnerability came to light. SSL claims to offer an encrypted connection between a client and a webserver, but continues to be as hole-y as swiss cheese.

Tor : The NSA designed and controls this system and the nodes that support it. You don’t have anonymity, you just have really, really slow Internet.

Webwallets : There are proper ways to store your bitcoins, namely paper wallets, and there are improper ways, namely webwallets (see “2FA”).

Whole-disk encryption : While an appealing idea, whole-disk encryption doesn’t work like it says on the box. You’re better off using PGP to encrypt on a file-by-file basis.

Windows : This warning encompasses anything produced by Microsoft, including but not limited to operating systems and the widely used and equally loathed Office suite. It’s all really rather horrifying.

This list will be updated as necessary.

___ ___ ___

  1. Remember George Jetson’s morning commute ?
  2. I have a sense that the Apple Watch will have an even more contracted sales ascent and descent than the iPad. This whole biometric scam doesn’t have proper wings, even if it has enough hype to get off the ground for a moment or two.
  3. mircea_popescu: A cognate of any claim to authority on any matter not deriving from la serenissima is both fraudulent and actionable.
  4. It’s not to say that no one will use these, that’d be crazy talk seeing as how plenty of “people” use meth. This being said, successful adaptation is as much not doing certain things as it is about doing certain things.
  5. See specifically : Facebook and Twitter.

9 thoughts on “These are the Belladonnas of the digital garden.

  1. Jautenim says:

    Maybe I’d also throw WordPress in there.

  2. zacorbett says:

    Christ, yes to everything on this. There will always be the sovereign and those who must depend on their purveyor who owns more than what the dependent can understand. So it goes.

    • Pete D. says:

      This being granted, it was far harder to extract oneself from the clutches of dependency in the pre-digital days of physicality. Even accounting for population inflation, there have never been more humans with the opportunity to become sovereign people.

  3. Mitchell says:

    As I use some of the tools mentioned above, could I infer:
    – Do not use the cloud, host everything locally ?
    – Stick to HTML, CSS, PHP (the language of this site), and do not use JS ?

    Thanks pimp.

    • Pete D. says:

      Yup, if you’re at all interested in security, which is to say that you’re at all interested in Bitcoin, you pretty much have it.

  4. Mitchell says:

    I must admit, I like JS. Refreshing one element of the DOM is much quicker than a new page. Though, I’m not the one to ask about which one is most secure.

    IRT self hosting, Mircea has said, banking is second possibly only to space exploration in terms of soundness, and even they are moving to the cloud. This is based on the notion that if the encrypted data is on someone else’s drive, and they cannot access it, who cares ? Building a tier 1 or higher data center is no n00b task. Servers need to be in a room without windows, sound proofed, above ground, etc.

    I guess my question is, do you refer to self hosting as necessary for bitcoin wallets, or all web properties ? I ask b/c Contravex is hosted on GoDaddy ?

    Thanks again bawss.

    • Pete D. says:

      The notion that banks are using anything other than toy crypto is pretty laughable. Banks, particularly the larger ones, use Symantec or similar to rubber stamp their networks because this bit of insurance is far, far cheaper than doing security properly. Plus, when fiat banks are implicitly backed by the taxpayer, why bother with more ? Why not just max out your profits everyday knowing that there’s essentially nothing you can do that will put you out of business ? At worst, you’ll be deprived of your bonus for a year, but that’ll probably be proceeded and followed by 6-7 years of pretty obscene bonuses anyways. This isn’t the banks’ fault however, they didn’t create this environment, our parents did.

      So of course fiat banks want to move everything to the cloud, it’s cheaper! So more profit! You’ll never see a Bitcoin business in the MPEx vein try this, however, because such businesses don’t get second chances. This is also why Bitcoin businesses aren’t for everyone, much less the third world or little girlies or whatever.

      In any event, Contravex, being a political platform more than anything else, and certainly not responsible for any customer funds, is quite happy with the services offered by that recently IPO’d webhost. At this juncture, I see little reason to move, though I’m most certainly prepared to if I deem it necessary at any point in the future.

      Update: I own the content here, no matter who I flick a nickel to to host it.

  5. […] not the fucking Marshall’s Office that ENABLED the criminals by paying tax dollars for windows shit. And it’s also not the fucking Marshall’s Office that ENABLED the criminals by paying […]

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