Day: July 13, 2013

L’America: A Trip to the Supermarket

One of the first things I do when in a new country is visit a supermarket. It’s not that I necessarily need food, it’s that I want to see what people eat. Every culture has its idiosyncrasies baked into the aisles in the supermarket, and I believe you learn more about people by seeing what they eat than by assiduous studying of tour guides.

In Italy, for instance, aisles and aisles offer an endless selection of olive oil, different kinds of pasta, canned tomatoes, and coffees. Even the smaller supermarkets have outlandishly good bakery sections, with a variety of fresh breads and cookies on display. On the other hand, the frozen goods are stocked in a single refrigerator, tucked into a corner far away. Modern megamarkets deviate, in that they offer a lot more frozen goods (because people buy in bulk, and hence some of it is going to end up in the freezer, anyway), but not much change otherwise.

In Germany, the thing that stands out the most is the absurd quantity of sweets. The chocolate, cookies, candy, dessert sections fill up the entire place. The chocolate bars alone have a prominent display that grows exponentially near any “chocolate holiday,” that is Christmas, Easter, and Santa Claus. Bread and meats are underrepresented, because Germans typically buy those at specialty stores (baker and butcher, respectively).

In America, things look a lot different. Actually, looking at it, you can understand a lot about America as it is today by just looking at its supermarket aisles.


Securing Dropbox Content with EncFS

I read an article this morning about encryption on Cloud Storage Services. The idea was that the latest NSA spying scandals revealed how much the government can access, and the assumption is that a lot of the thing you store are sensitive enough that you wouldn’t want the government to have random access.

The article then went on and introduced a series of software/service combinations that perform a sync and add encryption to your files. The list was separated in three main categories:

  1. services that store unencrypted, like Amazon Cloud, Google Drive, and Microsoft SkyDrive
  2. services that encrypt the data on the server, but pass around unencrypted data, like Dropbox
  3. services that encrypt the data on the client, and the server never sees unencrypted data nor does it keep a key

Having a “little” experience in cryptology, just enough to be dangerous, let me start by saying that relying on any service to provide encryption is as good as not relying on encryption at all.