Project Silica proof of concept stores Warner Bros. ‘Superman’ movie on quartz glass
> It was the first proof of concept test for Project Silica, a Microsoft Research project that uses recent discoveries in ultrafast laser optics and artificial intelligence to store data in quartz glass. A laser encodes data in glass by creating layers of three-dimensional nanoscale gratings and deformations at various depths and angles. Machine learning algorithms read the data back by decoding images and patterns that are created as polarized light shines through the glass.
How did MS-DOS decide that two seconds was the amount of time to keep the floppy disk cache valid?
> Let’s talk about files! Most developers seem to think that files are easy.
> In this talk, we’re going to look at how file systems differ from each other and other issues we might encounter when writing to files. We’re going to look at the file “stack”, starting at the top with the file API, moving down to the filesystem, and then moving down to disk.
What is WofCompressedData?
> The documentation for wofapi.h says merely “This header is used by Data Access and Storage.” For more information, it refers you to another web page that contains no additional information. WOF stands for Windows Overlay Filter, which is a nice name that doesn’t really tell you much about what it does or what it’s for.
> Changing the native NTFS file compression would be a disk format breaking change, which is not something taken lightly. Doing it as a filter provides much more flexibility. The downside is that if you mount the volume on a system that doesn’t support the Windows Overlay Filter, all you see is an empty file. Fortunately, WOF is used only for system-installed files, and if you are mounting the volume onto another system, it’s probably for data recovery purposes, so you’re interested in user data, not system files.
Looking inside the box
> This blog post talks about reverse engineering the Dropbox client, breaking its obfuscation mechanisms, de-compiling it to Python code as well as modifying the client in order to use debug features which are normally hidden from view. If you’re just interested in relevant code and notes please scroll to the end. As of this writing it is up to date with the current versions of Dropbox which are based on the CPython 3.6 interpreter.
age - A simple file encryption tool & format
> This is a design for a simple file encryption CLI tool, Go library, and format. It’s meant to replace the use of gpg for encrypting files, backups, streams, etc. It’s going to be called “age”, which might be an acronym for Actually Good Encryption.
ufs - Expand time_t support to 48 bits
> Fix time overflow issues in the original 32-bit UFS code in two ways. First, treat the original 32-bit seconds fields as unsigned.Second, utilize the spare fields to expand these fields to 48 bits each. Retain the nanosecond-grain accuracy of the nsec fields.
The Intel Optane Memory H10 Review: QLC and Optane In One SSD
> The Optane Memory H10 does not introduce any new ASICs or any hardware to make the Optane and QLC portions of the drive appear as a single device. The caching is managed entirely in software, and the host system accesses the Optane and QLC sides of the H10 independently. Each half of the drive has two PCIe lanes dedicated to it.
Could work, but alas.
> Compatibility with older platforms and non-Intel platforms is mostly as expected, with only the NAND side of the H10 accessible—those motherboards don’t expect to find two PCIe devices sharing a physical M.2 x4 slot, and aren’t configured to detect and initialize both devices.
How I Couldn’t Stop Poking at Mysterious CompuServe Server Hard Disk Images
> This is about digital archeology. I hope people interested in the legacy of early online services will find it useful. And I hope other digital archeologists more knowledgable than me will find it and provide additional information. Maybe someone even feels compelled to pick up where I left off? Please bear in mind that this is the work of just a couple of long winter evenings. My knowledge of traditional mainframes and minicomputers was close to zero before I started this project. I might have misconceived things or overlooked others.
The Perfect Container
> Sometimes, it’s possible to create something that’s too useful, that is designed for a niche purpose but is so well-attuned to that purpose that it attracts other people, who find a similar value but different use case than was intended. And because of the sheer prevalence of said useful tool, it suddenly is everywhere—finding purpose as a cheap alternative to a trip to the local department store. If you’re the maker of that too-useful something, whaddya do? Well, in the case of the dairy industry, you use your political influence to try to ban all those college students from using milk crates. In today’s Tedium, we talk about the bizarre legal status of the plastic milk crate.
> “They are looking for people who are doing even the smallest crime, because, what we’ve learned is, those who will go out and steal a milk crate, for example, are the same people who are probably breaking into cars, breaking into your house.”
Extracting BitLocker keys from a TPM
> By default, Microsoft BitLocker protected OS drives can be accessed by sniffing the LPC bus, retrieving the volume master key when it’s returned by the TPM, and using the retrieved VMK to decrypt the protected drive. This post will look at extracting the clear-text key from a TPM chip by sniffing the LPC bus, either with a logic analyzer or a cheap FPGA board. This post demonstrates the attack against an HP laptop logic board using a TPM1.2 chip and a Surface Pro 3 using a TPM2.0 chip. From bus wiring through to volume decryption. Source code included.
Introducing Firefox Send
> Send is a free encrypted file transfer service that allows users to safely and simply share files from any browser.
AWS Nitro System
> The Nitro System supports key network, server, security, firmware patching, and monitoring functions freeing up the entire underlying server for customer use. This allows EC2 instances to have access to all cores – none need to be reserved for storage or network I/O. This both gives more resources over to our largest instance types for customer use – we don’t need to reserve resource for housekeeping, monitoring, security, network I/O, or storage. The Nitro System also makes possible the use of a very simple, light weight hypervisor that is just about always quiescent and it allows us to securely support bare metal instance types.
Introducing Adiantum: Encryption for the Next Billion Users
> Where AES is used, the conventional solution for disk encryption is to use the XTS or CBC-ESSIV modes of operation, which are length-preserving. Currently Android supports AES-128-CBC-ESSIV for full-disk encryption and AES-256-XTS for file-based encryption. However, when AES performance is insufficient there is no widely accepted alternative that has sufficient performance on lower-end ARM processors.
> To solve this problem, we have designed a new encryption mode called Adiantum. Adiantum allows us to use the ChaCha stream cipher in a length-preserving mode, by adapting ideas from AES-based proposals for length-preserving encryption such as HCTR and HCH. On ARM Cortex-A7, Adiantum encryption and decryption on 4096-byte sectors is about 10.6 cycles per byte, around 5x faster than AES-256-XTS.
Paper link: https://tosc.iacr.org/index.php/ToSC/article/view/7360
The future of ZFS in FreeBSD
> This shift means that there will be little to no net new development of Illumos. While working through the git history of ZoL I have also discovered that many races and locking bugs have been fixed in ZoL and never made it back to Illumos and thus FreeBSD. This state of affairs has led to a general agreement among the stakeholders that I have spoken to that it makes sense to rebase FreeBSD’s ZFS on ZoL.
Also some background: https://lists.freebsd.org/pipermail/freebsd-current/2018-December/072430.html
Self-encrypting deception: weaknesses in the encryption of solid state drives (SSDs)
> We have analyzed the hardware full-disk encryption of several SSDs by reverse engineering their firmware. In theory, the security guarantees offered by hardware encryption are similar to or better than software implementations. In reality, we found that many hardware implementations have critical security weaknesses, for many models allowing for complete recovery of the data without knowledge of any secret.
Everything is terrible.
> This challenges the view that hardware encryption is preferable over software encryption. We conclude that one should not rely solely on hardware encryption offered by SSDs.
Apple T2 Security Chip - Security Overview
Where the crypto happens.
Windows 10 October 2018 Update no longer deletes your data
> The October 2018 Update tried to tidy up this situation. When KFR is being used, the October 2018 Update will delete the original, default Known Folder locations. Microsoft imagined that this would simply remove some empty, redundant directories from your user profile. No need to have a Documents directory in your profile if you’re using a redirected location, after all. The problem is, it neither checked to see if those directories were empty first, nor copied any files to the new redirected location. It just wiped out the old directory, along with anything stored within it. Hence the data loss.
Maybe just leave tidying to the user.
Columnstore and B+ tree – are hybrid physical designs important?
> It is generally understood that columnstores are crucial to achieving high performance for analytic queries and that B+ tree indexes are key to supporting transactional workloads efficiently. However, it is not well understood whether hybrid physical designs – both columnstore and B+ tree indices on the same database and potentially the same table – are important for any of the above workloads.
> Through a series of benchmarks the authors show that hybrid physical designs can result in more than an order of magnitude lower execution costs for many workloads when compared to alternatives using B+ tree-only or columnstore-only. The Database Engine Tuning Advisor (DTA) for SQL Server is extended to analyze and recommend the appropriate indices for a given workload.
Review of the System Failure That Led to the Tax Day Outage
Microcodes, warmstarts, and service level objectives.