Friday, May 30, 2008

The Royal Treatment

I got my first royalty check today from sales of Mechanisms!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Transformer 2.0

From the Humanities Computing Centre at UVic comes word of a handy quasi-forensic utility for extracting text strings from old binaries. If you have need of such, go check out Transformer 2.0.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

WIRED Tours Computer Forensics Lab

WIRED discovers computer forensics, with a short article (and some good photos) here.

I toured a similar lab when researching Mechanisms. At one point, as we were preceding through a large room filled with people working in cubicles, I noticed that a set of blue rotating bubble lights had been lit. I asked what they were for. "They're for you," my escort said; this was the signal that visitor was in the room and that any sensitive material needed to disappear from screens.

Thanks to GHW for the tip.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Data from Columbia's Hard Drive

Significant scientific research data has been successfully read from a hard drive recovered from the wreckage of the Space Shuttle Columbia. Needless to say the drive itself had undergone severe trauma.

The seeming-paradox of digital data's extreme vulnerability and remarkable persistence is one of my foundational concerns in Mechanisms. The book opens with a similar tale of data recovery from hard drives that were salvaged from the ruins of the World Trade Center. Mechanisms argues that the volatility of digital data is a function not of its inscriptive regimen (which is among the most durable and forensically replete we have ever created) but rather the increasing orders of abstraction that attend digital data in order to manipulate it in usable form--thus the book's central distinction between what I term forensic and formal materiality.

Thanks to Nathan Kalber for the tip.

Update: This CNN coverage adds some interesting details, including the fact that the drive's computer was running DOS, meaning that the data was written in one discreet area of the drive rather than scattered over multiple discontinuous sectors--which created the conditions necessary for localized physical trauma to miss the areas with stored information.