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HAVA Look: A Simple, Verifiable, Open Source, Paper Ballot Vote-Recording & Counting System -- TIA

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tiptoe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-17-08 08:02 AM
Original message
HAVA Look: A Simple, Verifiable, Open Source, Paper Ballot Vote-Recording & Counting System -- TIA
HAVA Look:  A Simple, Verifiable, Open Source, Paper Ballot Vote-Recording & Counting System



Thanks to HAVA, elections are vulnerable to multiple vote miscounts: at the precinct level with closed-source, diverse, proprietary code-based touch screens (DREs) and Optical scanners and then on closed-source, proprietary Central Tabulators. They have you coming and going.

On the other hand, paper ballots can easily be input to a standard personal computer spreadsheet. Voters can request a copy before leaving the precinct. The precinct (spreadsheet) file is uploaded to the Internet. The voter can quickly and easily verify his vote as the spreadsheet ballot records are sorted by a unique Precinct/Ballot ID code. At the same time, he can view and/or download the total precinct ballots to verify the vote counts. Consolidation of district/county/state vote counts is tabulated by Open Source software.

Three (3) volunteers input and verify the paper ballots. As Volunteer A reads the ballot, B enters the data and C verifies the result. Data entry would be completed shortly after the polls closed. The voter fills out a ballot marking each selected candidate's code (i.e. a=Dem, b=Rep, c=Ind). The volunteers use their god-given optical scanners (EYES) to read the ballots and enter the codes in a spreadsheet. As each code is entered, the spreadsheet automatically calculates the total vote and percentage for each candidate.

The following simple steps complete the process:
  • Print the spreadsheet (1 minute).
  • Upload it to the Internet (10 seconds) so anyone can check the precinct results.
  • Upload the sheet to the Central Tabulator (10 seconds).

  • The published totals should match the precinct totals on the Internet and the local PC.


  • There are approximately 200,000 precincts nationwide, an average of 4,000 per state. How much would it cost and how long would it take to process and count the votes in an average precinct of 600 voters?
  • Just one (1) $400 Personal Computer is used for ballot data entry
  • $100 Printer
  • $100 Spreadsheet

  • Assuming that data entry/verification takes 1 minute per voter, total data entry time would be 600 minutes (10 hours), which can be spread out over 12 hours on Election Day. Larger precincts could install additional PCs and add volunteers as necessary. The individual PC spreadsheets would be combined into a single file (sorted by Ballot ID) for uploading to the Internet.


  • There are many advantages over the current, vulnerable system. HAVA look:
    • Data redundancy:

      1. Original paper ballots: retained in a secure location
      2. Precinct spreadsheet files: ballots sorted by ballot ID
      3. Internet: copies of uploaded precinct files for online viewing/download
      4. Internet: County/state composite files (vote totals sorted by precinct/county) for online viewing

    • Data / software integrity:

      1. Original paper ballots: documented chain of custody
      2. Data integrity (100% automatic audit to catch discrepancies between the local precinct spreadsheet and corresponding internet file
      3. Open Source code: eliminate proprietary code on DRE/ Optiscan/ central tabulator

    • Eliminate corrupting influence of vendors and election officials:

      1. Hardware: Eliminate bribery of election officials for purchase of DREs and optical scanners
      2. Diebold/Premier & ES&S out of the DRE/Opscan voting machine business

    A Simple Precinct Spreadsheet Vote Recorder

    Example:
    Precinct 101 (500 voters)
    Party Code: a=Dem, b=Rep, c=Ind
    Voter Ballot Code: 101xxxxxx

    Note: Totals are calculated using the Excel function: COUNTIF (range, party code).
    For example, the total number of Democratic (column B, rows 10-509) votes for president:
    242 =COUNTIF (b10.b509,a)

    Pres Senate Congress Other1 Other2 Other3 Other4 Other5 Other6 Other7 Other8
    Totals
    Dem 242 233 252 242 233 252 242 233 252 242 233
    Rep 234 244 225 234 244 225 234 244 225 234 244
    Ind 24 23 23 24 23 23 24 23 23 24 23
    BallotID
    1010001 a a a a a a a a a a a
    1010002 a a a a a a a a a a a
    1010003 a a a a a a a a a a a
    1010004 b b b b b b b b b b b
    1010005 b b b b b b b b b b b
    1010006 a a a a a a a a a a a
    1010007 a a a a a a a a a a a
    1010008 b b b b b b b b b b b
    1010009 b b b b b b b b b b b
    1010010 b b b b b b b b b b b
    1010011 b b b b b b b b b b b
    ... ...
    1010490 b b b b b b b b b b b
    1010491 b b b b b b b b b b b
    1010492 b b b b b b b b b b b
    1010493 a a a a a a a a a a a
    1010494 b b b b b b b b b b b
    1010495 a a a a a a a a a a a
    1010496 b b b b b b b b b b b
    1010497 a a a a a a a a a a a
    1010498 a a a a a a a a a a a
    1010499 a a a a a a a a a a a
    1010500 b b b b b b b b b b b





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    Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-17-08 08:37 AM
    Response to Original message
    1. Did I miss something? Or is this a joke?
    HAVA is the reason there are computers in elections??? Care to check that?

    "Voters can request a copy..."??? And what about secrecy and vote buying/selling???

    "Open Source" does what??? Does it affirm the software actually loaded???


    Thanks for the continued effort to muddy the waters.


    Though I admit, you DO use pretty colors in your posts.

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    Trajan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-17-08 08:52 AM
    Response to Reply #1
    3. Where in the original post ...
    Does the poster state "HAVA is the reason there are computers in elections." ???

    You added that caveat yourself .... We would call that a strawman fallacy ....

    It is obvious some just dont get the whole 'counting in secret' thingy .....

    Whatever : Attacking this OP makes no sense .... Even if you disagreed with some of what they said ....

    Typical UGLY ASS DU bullshit ....
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    Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-17-08 09:09 AM
    Response to Reply #3
    5. In the opening paragraph.
    Thanks to HAVA, elections are vulnerable to multiple vote miscounts: at the precinct level with closed-source, diverse, proprietary code-based touch screens (DREs) and Optical scanners and then on closed-source, proprietary Central Tabulators. They have you coming and going.


    Hang around a while and see what "thing" I get, or don't.

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    Trajan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-17-08 09:26 AM
    Response to Reply #5
    7. Wrong .... You are misdirecting ...
    In the OP : "Thanks to HAVA, elections are vulnerable" ... NOT "Thanks to HAVA, there are computers in elections"

    HAVA did NOT create computers ... it didnt implement the first computers used .. Hence your 'HAVA is the reason computers are used in elections' BS is a false reading of the OP's message ....

    We object to secret code being used to count OUR votes .... HAVA helped spread the affect of 'secret vote counting machines' .....

    We are citizens too .... No matter WHAT you think about your vote, we want OUR vote counted IN THE OPEN ....
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    Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-17-08 09:59 AM
    Response to Reply #7
    9. So elections weren't vulnerable before HAVA?
    And you think open source software we prevent tampering??

    No matter what YOU think, I want my vote and your vote counted, openly and accurately. Accurate posts are nice too.

    Yeah HAVA "spread" stuff, like in the few states that had levers and the fewer areas that hand counted. The rest were already using computers.

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    Trajan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-17-08 08:24 PM
    Response to Reply #9
    16. Beside the point ...
    They are different questions ...

    Of COURSE there was vulnerabilities BEFORE DRE's, but that doesn't mean we should ignore the possibilities that exist WITH DRE based voting, nor should we ignore any possible fraud outside of computerized voting .... BOTH need to be stymied: Your argument that fraud existed BEFORE HAVA is no excuse to ignore it now ... A completely fallacious assertion ....

    Open Source at LEAST provides a window to what functions exist within the program itself: They are OUR machines, and it is OUR software .... we have a right as citizens to know what mechanisms are involved. nay: an OBLIGATION to know how our votes are counted ..... anything less is civic negligence ...

    Whether or not there 'may' be tampering even with Open Source, we need to do our BEST to stop it, including the use of chain of custody regimes, CRC/Checksums, SW impound and machine certfication and tamper proofing .... That is the LEAST we should do ...

    Any arguments that demand less simply aren't worth listening to ...

    You have offered NOTHING to replace our vigilance ... nothing whatsoever ....
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    Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-17-08 08:39 PM
    Response to Reply #16
    17. So there were no DRE's before HAVA?
    Check again.

    How did you decide my "argument" is to ignore fraud?

    And what to do instead is "a different question". Since you asked, I'd say at minimum a risk-based statistical audit with high confidence level. Then they can hack to their content...and get caught.

    Now, tell me what else I'm thinking.

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    OnTheOtherHand Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-17-08 08:40 PM
    Response to Reply #16
    18. maybe if we reviewed the OP...
    The OP says: "Thanks to HAVA, elections are vulnerable to multiple vote miscount...." If that doesn't mean that elections weren't vulnerable to multiple vote miscount before HAVA, what does it mean?

    Do you suppose it is possible to discuss the OP without making stuff up about Wilms? Just curious.
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    Trajan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-17-08 08:45 PM
    Response to Reply #18
    20. Wilms made a statement redefining the OP's intent ....
    It was a strawman, and demonstrably false .... Whether or not the OP's message is credible; it was NOT as defined by Wilms ....

    I made nothing up ..... It is clear from the posts themselves ...
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    Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-17-08 08:49 PM
    Response to Reply #20
    22. What strawman?

    The OP said... "Thanks to HAVA, elections are vulnerable to multiple vote miscounts: at the precinct level with closed-source, diverse, proprietary code-based touch screens (DREs) and Optical scanners and then on closed-source, proprietary Central Tabulators. They have you coming and going."

    How about..."Thanks to COMPUTERIZED VOTING SYSTEMS THAT HAVE BEEN AROUND FOR DECADES AND ARE EVEN MORE PREVELANT SINCE HAVA, elections are vulnerable to multiple vote miscounts: at the precinct level with closed-source, diverse, proprietary code-based touch screens (DREs) and Optical scanners and then on closed-source, proprietary Central Tabulators. They have you coming and going."

    You OK with that?
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    tiptoe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-29-09 08:35 AM
    Response to Reply #7
    37. kick nt
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    RaleighNCDUer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-17-08 08:56 AM
    Response to Reply #1
    4. Yes. You missed something.
    The Help America Vote Act mandated that all precincts have disabled accessible voting machines - then then republican owned voting machine manufacturers offered DREs as the optimal solution. And nothing else.

    Voters cas request a copy - of the precinct totals, not of individual votes.

    Open Source makes it easy to verify that there aren't any vote-flipping subroutines built into the tabulators.

    This sounds like a very good solution to me. The primary element is the vote verification by an unbiased board of vote counters - the individuals on the board can be as biased as they like, but the triple checking by boardmembers of different parties guarantees that no one will be able to mess with the vote count.
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    Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-17-08 09:13 AM
    Response to Reply #4
    6. No. You missed something.

    On the other hand, paper ballots can easily be input to a standard personal computer spreadsheet. Voters can request a copy before leaving the precinct. The precinct (spreadsheet) file is uploaded to the Internet. The voter can quickly and easily verify his vote as the spreadsheet ballot records are sorted by a unique Precinct/Ballot ID code.


    BTW, vendors offered Optical Scan, too, which are just as hackable if not as profitable.

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    RaleighNCDUer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-17-08 09:53 AM
    Response to Reply #6
    8. There's no problem there.
    The voter gets a printout of HIS vote - and verify that HIS vote (as identified by the "unique Precinct/Ballot ID code" on the internet file) was correctly entered. He cannot verify anybody else's vote because only he has access to the that ID code. Just like on every paper ballot (including Optical Scans) that are used currently.

    There is no more chance of violating voter privacy with this than any system used today.

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    Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-17-08 10:01 AM
    Response to Reply #8
    10. And that vote can then be bought or sold or coerced.

    Maybe I didn't make that clear. Or maybe it's not clear to you.

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    RaleighNCDUer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-17-08 10:25 AM
    Response to Reply #10
    11. How?
    If NOBODY but the voter himself can know, by looking at the spreadsheet, how he voted - how can that vote be "bought or sold or coerced"?

    OTOH, did YOU know that people push the "voter fraud" meme to distract from the very real problem of systemic election fraud? Look at who is talking about what - the repukes keep hammering on "voter fraud", while independents and Democrats focus on the systemic fraud. Why is that?
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    Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-17-08 08:44 PM
    Response to Reply #11
    19. I know all about the voter fraud argument.
    To the degree it is real, I'm sure we'd all agree to put an end to it. To the degree that it is over-played, we'd be smart to avoid feeding it.

    The OP suggests that "Voters can request a copy before leaving the precinct". It's pretty clear to me that's a vote buying/selling/coercing vehicle.

    Call me what you will. Understand that I tend to "hammer" specious argument.

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    WillYourVoteBCounted Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-29-09 10:35 AM
    Response to Reply #4
    38. HAVA mandated one accessible voting system per precinct
    but provided funds and incentive for all computerized voting.

    States could choose how to interpret HAVA - and
    some chose to believe it required all computerized voting and
    some did not.

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    WillYourVoteBCounted Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-29-09 10:36 AM
    Response to Reply #4
    39. PS - HAVA didn't mandate voting computers - but mandated accessibility
    But YES it did provide the funds and the incentive by those funds.
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    electropop Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-17-08 08:38 AM
    Response to Original message
    2. The actual cost of an open-source spreadsheet: $0
    "Open Office."
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    Stevepol Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-17-08 01:49 PM
    Response to Original message
    12. Sounds like a good idea to me. Almost anything is better than what we've got.
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    kster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-17-08 02:50 PM
    Response to Original message
    13. K&R.nt
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    diva77 Donating Member (999 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-17-08 03:21 PM
    Response to Original message
    14. How can Open Source possibly be a viable alternative????
    Edited on Thu Jul-17-08 03:22 PM by diva77
    logistically, the machines are NEVER all examined prior to an election; they are distributed weeks or days in advance of the election, they are subject to the same security failures and breakdowns as proprietary devices; in hearing Avi Rubin speak of an exercise he gives to his grad. students where they are asked to find "easter eggs" embedded in code they are given, it seems that it is EXTREMELY difficult, and at times impossible to detect those easter eggs. And trying to get the evidence once the election has transpired is damned nearly impossible, not to mention unaffordable. Also, how 'bout the budgets for maintenance people and how do you do a background check on them , and then there is the cost of replacing the machines every few years, etc. etc.

    sorry, it's just putting lipstick on a pig in my humble opinion to think that open source is going to be a viable alternative. Machines be damned!!


    :rant:
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    tiptoe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-17-08 04:39 PM
    Response to Reply #14
    15. It's a transparent PAPER BALLOT subsys...w no vote-recording,-storage,-counting by black boxes.
    Edited on Thu Jul-17-08 04:50 PM by tiptoe
    open, verifiable vote reports.
    privacy can be protected without need for "Voter ID"
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    Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-17-08 08:46 PM
    Response to Reply #15
    21. You recommended giving the voter a copy of the ballot.

    Much of your argument gets hung-up there. Meanwhile, re-read what Diva just told you.

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    tiptoe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-17-08 11:43 PM
    Response to Reply #21
    23. I read what diva said. *You* re-read what Diva said and then try to think
    The OP describes only a Subsystem of an entire Voting System, namely one which deals with VERIFYING the vote by 1) offering a line-item report of the vote for scrutiny by HUNDREDS of VOTERS' eyes to OPENLY verify the recording of the vote by the select few humans delegated to handle the PAPER BALLOTS, with a "side effect" of 2) affording a count of the vote that is indepdendent of the select few humans delegated to count the DETAILS on the PAPER BALLOTS

    It has NOTHING to do with DREs or Optical Scanners, OR THE PROBLEMS OF SECRECY/PROPRIETARY CODE/UNRECOUNTABILITY etc.

    Diva's sentences:
    "logistically, the machines are NEVER all examined prior to an election;"
    "they are distributed weeks or days in advance of the election, they are subject to the same security failures and breakdowns as proprietary devices;"

    The difference is a "standard PC" -- if defective -- can be easily and quickly replaced, likely in much less than an hour! They are cheap enough to have a backup onhand. Moreover, the OP is talking about a PAPER BALLOT environment!

    READ THE TITLE: "A S..., Ver..., Op..., PAPER BALLOT ... ..."

    "Paper Ballot" means a physical, analog record of the vote exists, and, thus, the absence of a working PC and/or software would not preclude conducting any standard HCPB procedure. The presence, though, of a working PC and software can *facilitate* and greatly enhance the integrity of any PAPER BALLOT election, at and beyond the precinct level. (See "advantages" in the OP)

    The only "machine" involved is a standard PC, which -- in the CONTEXT OF ITS USE in the OP -- DOES NOT HAVE the "SAME" security risks as other "voting" "machines" (and should NOT be so relegated for purposes of estimation), since

    • It's not involved in any secret recording the vote (like a DRE) -- HUMANS openly read and record data from PAPER BALLOTS onto the spreadsheet & preserve the paper ballots
    • It's not involved in any secret counting of the vote (DRE, OpSc) -- HUMANS can do the count (but Excel can record, count and produce organized output for efficient, independent scrutiny of its input data)
    • It's not involved in any unverifiable counting of the vote (DRE, OS-if-the-"audit"-is-half-assed)
    • It produces practical physical output at the precinct and higher-up levels, for verification of the vote at every level by HUNDREDS of EYES (unlike DREs, OpSc, and HCPB-methods) ...AND I GUARANTEE MORE THAN 3% of VOTERS will be "AUDITING"
    • There is no code hiding secret manipulations of data (like on DREs or OpSc), since each analog-recorded data entry to spreadsheet is verified by humans (...and, in the context of spreadsheet usage, RE-VERIFIABLE by voters themselves, not only at the PRECINCT but also via INTERNET and also RE-RE-VERIFIABLE AFTER the vote's upload to Central tabulator on Election day itself).
    • If a standard PC "breaks down", it is easily, quickly replaceable at local stores, likewise "off-the-shelf" software like Excel. ANY and EVERYTHING INPUT and OUTPUT via WHATEVER PC & Software USED is OPEN to INSPECTION and CROSS-CHECKING at EVERY LEVEL by NUMEROUS PEOPLE, including voters themselves (who, also, become empowered to ADD UP THE COUNT themselves). Can always resort to standard HCPB methods (whatever those are)
    • The spreadsheet is primarily organizing output for verifying the vote ON THE DAY OF THE ELECTION. Since a COUNT and RE-COUNT of the Vote CAN ALWAYS proceed from the Paper Ballots themselves by hand tallies, it need NEVER be deemed an unwelcome situation that Software and the EYES OF HUNDREDS OF VOTERS can provide indepedendent reviews and counts of the data as a check against human error, whether in recording, counting or both.
    • What the human handling and hand tallying cannot produce is a neat line item report for EVERY G**DAMN voter to VERIFY that HIS OWN G**DAMN PAPER BALLOT VOTE had been properly recorded (by parties likely unknown to him, by whatever method of recording used).

      "sorry, it's just putting lipstick on a pig in my humble opinion to think that open source is going to be a viable alternative. Machines be damned!!"

      uh huh...an expected cliche, but a crude over-reach here...depends on the context and the details.




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    Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-18-08 12:21 AM
    Response to Reply #23
    25. The idea seems well intentioned enough.
    But the same people trusted to carry out the process could be trusted to do so without involving computers or the web.

    Essentially, this is hand counting paper ballots, which I've no quarrel with (as long as they, too, are subjected to risk-based audits to keep everything friendly). So I don't see the need for the computer.

    You're also advocating non-secret voting. It was done like that in the old days, and it's advocated today. I think even Lynn Landes and Rebecca Mercuri favor it as the easiest way to secure voting systems. But there is considerable challenge to the idea, for reasons mentioned above.

    Forgive me and Diva for our alarm over the distraction known as "open software", which is more like lipstick on a rattlesnake. Diva, nor I, nor you know what OS or worse, "ballot definition file", is on any given machine.

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    tiptoe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-18-08 01:43 AM
    Response to Reply #25
    26. How am I advocating "non-secret voting"? nt
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    Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-18-08 06:25 AM
    Response to Reply #26
    28. "Voters can request a copy before leaving the precinct. "
    Third or fourth time I mentioned.

    That means buy/sell/coercion potential.



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    tiptoe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-18-08 07:38 PM
    Response to Reply #28
    29. given the thugginess of one of the political parties
    Edited on Fri Jul-18-08 08:08 PM by tiptoe
    into war crimes, murder, lies and stealing of BILLIONS of public monies for funding a private army and stealing elections (HAVA), I suppose "buying/selling" votes wouldn't be beyond its means or motives.

    Can you provide historical examples?

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    Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-18-08 09:52 PM
    Response to Reply #29
    30. Of course you left out coercion...the main reason secret voting is valued.
    It's frustrating doing voting 101 with you. Look up the history yourself.

    And link it here. It'll be welcome relief from your stats.

    You refuse to consider the law calling for "secret" voting and the reasoning behind it. That means not only I don't know what you did at the ballot box...you can't prove to me what you did. So bosses, husbands, caregivers, etc., can't do their "thuginess" on the voter. Take a break from the echo chamber and do some real research.

    You don't like the law??? Fine. I mentioned up thread others don't either...people a lot smarter than us.

    Start a petition. GET A NEW LAW PASSED. But don't be surprised at people yawning at your idea not being original. It's already been thought of and it's unimplementable because of the desire to keep voting secret. I said before, if everyone knew how everyone voted it would be a lot easier to secure the system.

    You've added zero to the debate. Perhaps you SHOULD stick with endlessly posting 2004 stats.

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    tiptoe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-17-08 11:50 PM
    Response to Reply #21
    24. a copy/representation of his forfeited "official ballot". Shouldn't the voter be so entitled?
    Edited on Thu Jul-17-08 11:56 PM by tiptoe
    It can be a printed copy.

    The "Offical Ballot" to be deposited in a ballot box itself can be a printout, as can be the simultaneously-produced "copy" of the vote entries, both, perhaps, on a pre-printed forms.

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    kster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-18-08 02:06 AM
    Response to Reply #24
    27. When the solution to the problem cost about a buck, for a
    Edited on Fri Jul-18-08 02:09 AM by kster
    cardboard box, you put the ballots in the cardboard box and then you hand count the goddamn ballots, that are in that box, BEFORE THE BALLOTS leave THE NEIGHBORHOOD/POLLING PLACE.


    Simple, RIGHT? Not to some people, they want to run our ballots through their multi million dollar counting machines,

    WHEN A CARDBOARD BOX would do just fine.


    My two cents...FWIW
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    kster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-19-08 12:52 AM
    Response to Reply #24
    31. I want secret voting, but I do not want our secret vote to be counted in secret
    Edited on Sat Jul-19-08 12:52 AM by kster
    they try and weld these two things together, COMMON SENSE tells us that we can indeed vote in secret and at the close of election count them secret votes in full view of the people in the neighborhood/polling place.

    Please do not let them weld the two together or you will believe that in order to vote in secret that your vote must be counted in secret.

    BULLSHIT!!
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    foo_bar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-19-08 12:05 PM
    Response to Original message
    32. talk about overengineering
    # Just one (1) $400 Personal Computer is used for ballot data entry
    # $100 Printer
    # $100 Spreadsheet

    Here, I'll save you $500:


    Just install Lotus 1-2-3 and you're all set. Or better yet, use dBase IV (or GNU equivalent) since what you're describing is, gasp, a database (as it turns out a spreadsheet is more suited to analytical and accounting tasks than being a storage engine with a semblance of integrity (or transaction capabilities), but I guess when you're a specialized tool you tend to view everything as a nail.)

    Note: Totals are calculated using the Excel function: COUNTIF (range, party code).

    This is an excellent way to corrupt a vote total: no record of who entered what, a dozen ways to (pre-)insert a hidden value without leaving a trail, vulnerability to macro viruses without any compensatory benefit to the final product being mutable by ad hoc P-code (like the report writer on Optiscan memory cards but exponentially more publicized), not to mention Excel storing ~100 bytes of formatting data for every byte of useful information such that the real data isn't human readable or verifiable/checksum-able/reconstructable in the event of corruption.

    As each code is entered, the spreadsheet automatically calculates the total vote and percentage for each candidate.

    You lost the purists at "automatically". Maybe Wilms is right, we still need your help proving the Dodgers won the '51 world series.

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    tiptoe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-19-08 08:25 PM
    Response to Reply #32
    33. Please "corrupt the vote total" on this spreadsheet:
    Edited on Sat Jul-19-08 09:20 PM by tiptoe
    http://www.geocities.com/electionmodel/HandCountedSecur...

    For the presumably numerous parties who might be privileged participation in an Election Day hand count of Paper Ballots -- i.e. forget Levers (virtues and drawbacks), DREs, and optical scanners...the OP deals only with voting systems based on auditable, individual Paper Records of voters' intent.

    These ballots have neither 1) been recorded in secret (open to deliberate vote-switching) nor 2) are to be counted in secret by any non-transparent, intermediary electro-mechanical device (open to deliberate mis-counting). The unavailability of line-itemized printed output would be a missed opportunity for not only verification of the vote, but also protection against vote-switching and non-counting that can occur at the precinct level and beyond.

    The fact that physical ballots in Ohio have been transported between precinct counting machines and have eventually been "destroyed or lost" altogether, attests to the extent that election fraudsters have gone to systematically undermine democracy in America and to the vulnerability of paper records.

    The inclusion of a simple precinct spreadsheet procedure need not be an exclusive proposition: It can be done in parallel with whatever other HCPB methods of counting might be utilized and would be non-obtrusive. The benefits in preserving a verified "backup" of the paper records themselves should be considered.

    Vote Secrecy can be protected with proper procedure and method. It is presumptuous to assert voter-privacy need be compromised.
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    foo_bar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-20-08 04:29 AM
    Response to Reply #33
    34. no thanks
    It may be a single malicious user with an axe to grind, and that user may be targeting a very small group of people who just happen to use Microsoft Excel. But whoever it is continues to make security firms like Symantec nervous, as yet another Excel-based document with a malformed image string, dubbed Trojan.Mdropper.Y, has turned up.

    As a message on Symantec's security blog stated this morning, the Excel document with the malformed string is capable of dropping two Trojan horse programs onto the victim's computer, both of which are identified as Backdoor.Bias.

    Both programs apparently leave open the possibility for remote exploit, but neither Symantec nor Microsoft has provided any details with regard to whether their informant victim's computers have been "phoning home."

    This time around, Symantec was much more careful with the phrasing of the new Trojan's description on its blog, cautiously explaining that Trojan.Mdropper.Y was a different document that leveraged the same exploit as with editions prior to "Y," perhaps a little differently than before but not different enough to call this a new vulnerability.

    http://www.betanews.com/article/Symantec_Finds_Yet_Anot...

    7:42 PM EDT Tue. Mar. 11, 2008

    Microsoft (NSDQ:MSFT)'s Patch Tuesday came a day late after a U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team advisory warned that a targeted Trojan attack may exploit one of Office Excel's known vulnerabilities.

    Altogether, the vulnerabilities can be found in Microsoft Office Excel 2003 Service Pack 2, Microsoft Office Excel Viewer 2003, Office Excel 2002, Office Excel 2000 and Excel 2004 for Mac. However, the vulnerability doesn't affect customers using Office Excel 2007 or Excel 2008 for Mac, or users who have installed Office Excel 2003 Service Pack 3.

    http://www.crn.com/security/206903067

    Microsoft June 15 confirmed that a new, undocumented flaw in its widely used Excel spreadsheet program was being used in an attack against an unnamed target.

    The companys warning comes less than a month after a code-execution hole in Microsoft Word was exploited in what is described as a "super, super targeted attack" against business interests overseas.

    The back-to-back zero-day attacks closely resemble each other and suggest that well-organized criminals are conducting corporate espionage using critical flaws purchased from underground hackers.

    http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Security/Microsoft-Confirms-Ex... /

    I use OpenOffice for my limited spreadsheet needs, but spreadsheets in general aren't suited to database tasks unless the sole design criterion is TIA's learning curve.

    Databases also outperform spreadsheets in the area of data integrity. A database can place better controls that restrict data to specific ranges and default values ensuring consistent and correct data. If you keep an inventory, you might want to make sure item types are restricted to things such as "disposable" or "equipment" and a receipt is filed for "equipment" items more than $100. A database can restrict particular data to a list of acceptable values, in this case "equipment" or "disposable," and refuse incorrect data with a detailed error message. Either a database or spreadsheet could have a receipt reminder pop up each time an item more than $100 is entered. Only the database, however, can cross-reference the data to make sure the item is an "equipment" item as well as more than $100 before accepting the entry.

    You can consider sticking with your spreadsheet-as-a-database approach if you work with a small number of records; 2,000 or less is a very manageable number. If you regularly create new spreadsheets to keep your information organized, you should probably move to a database application.

    http://www.smartcomputing.com/editorial/article.asp?art...

    Spreadsheets are often temporary pieces of work. Generally, they are used to meet a particular need and then discarded, or used very little. This means that the full rigors of software engineering are often absent from their development. The ease with which an inexperienced user can produce plausible output also tends to militate against the adoption of a more rigorous approach Ray Panko of the University of Hawaii has collected information from both field audits and laboratory experiments in spreadsheet development indicate that spreadsheet errors are fairly common. <...>

    Coopers and Lybrand in London cited research showing that over ninety percent of all spreadsheets with more than 150 rows contained at least one significant formula mistake.
    In another study, subjects were shown large and small, well- formatted and poorly formatted spreadsheets. Which combination inspired the most user confidence? You guessed it: large, well- formatted ones. Call it the Information Age Effect; with all that rigorous data so beautifully laid out under program control, how can anything possibly be
    wrong? <...>

    Spreadsheets
    Advantages
    Simple to use
    Graphics easier to setup
    Easy data duplication
    Cell formulas & Calculations

    Disadvantages
    Repeated Data
    Data entry
    Data validation & Checking
    Data sharing / Collaboration
    Search and Retrieval
    Error Debugging
    Upper row limit (65000 for Excel)
    Easy data duplication
    Formula errors

    http://home.twcny.rr.com/accesssig/Spreadsheet.pdf

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    tiptoe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-06-08 12:00 AM
    Response to Reply #34
    35. "That says it all. Why not take up the challenge? ..." (A Reply from TIA)
    Edited on Wed Aug-06-08 12:07 AM by tiptoe
    source: http://www.geocities.com/electionmodel/HAVAOnePC.htm#bl...

    Comments and Criticisms

    The author has had over 30 years experience in quantitative application program design and developmentfrom defense/aerospace IBM mainframes to Wall Street PCs. He converted main frame applications for investment banks on Wall Street from FORTRAN to Lotus 1-2-3 in the early eighties and then to Excel in the mid-nineties. He developed and marketed spreadsheet based corporate financial models to some of the largest U.S. consumer product manufacturers and foreign banks. As a programming consultant, he developed Excel VBA applications for dozens of the world's largest international banking institutions and corporations. He knows very well what Excel is capable of.

    Critics created an Excel straw man which reveals limited knowledge of programming in general and spreadsheets in particular. They appear to have an agenda to retain voting machines which can be rigged internally and/or by humans after the fact. The post suggests an Open Source system developed by professional programmers for use in all state precincts not a set of individual spreadsheets written by non-professionals. A robust Excel VBA application could be developed in a matter of weeks.

    In response to a challenge to corrupt the spreadsheet, one critic, a database proponent, said: "No thanks". That says it all. Why not take up the challenge? And not one word about the Access software for voting machines which has been proved vulnerable to hackers time and again.

    It is patently false to claim that spreadsheets are not up to the task (due to security issues) and that a database system is the only feasible programming solution. Virtually all banking institutions use Excel in conjunction with securities databases for data retrieval, input and analysis. Criticism of spreadsheets is reminiscent of that leveled at Lotus 1-2-3 and PCs in general by MIS Luddites in the early eighties. Corporate gatekeepers feared that mainframes were being made obsolete by the new machines. They called them toys. Some toys. Spreadsheets have long been used for securities data retrieval and analysis by all U.S. corporations from Wall Street Investment Banks, consumer goods manufacturers, consulting and accounting firms et al.

    Have critics ever written a commercial Excel-based application? One can only assume from the comments that they haven't. Then why dont they create an equivalent program using their favorite database? That should be a piece of cake for them. The sample spreadsheet took all of 20 minutes to write and proved that counting votes is not rocket science.

    Critics fail to suggest a new system design to help eliminate election fraud. What hardware would they use? What software? Would they keep DREs and Optiscans? Should precinct records should be available online for individual retrieval? If yes, how would they go about it? If not, why not? Diebold used Microsoft Access software. How did that go?

    The Coopers & Lybrand "study" cited in the article is highly critical of spreadsheets. The study was probably done twenty years ago: "Coopers and Lybrand in London cited research showing that over ninety percent of all spreadsheets with more than 150 rows contained at least one significant formula mistake". But there is little doubt that C&L still uses Excel.

    This statement is a complete falsehood which exposes the author's naivete: Spreadsheets are often temporary pieces of work. Generally, they are used to meet a particular need and then discarded, or used very little. This means that the full rigors of software engineering are often absent from their development. The ease with which an inexperienced user can produce plausible output also tends to militate against the adoption of a more rigorous approach Ray Panko of the University of Hawaii has collected information from both field audits and laboratory experiments in spreadsheet development indicate that spreadsheet errors are fairly common.

    Is the author stating that spreadsheets are inherently error-prone? That is preposterous. Were the "errors" cited the result of sloppy coding by individuals who were office workers as opposed to professional programmers? Were they the result of data entry errors? This statement shows the writers ignorance, inverted logic and misplaced sarcasm: "In another study, subjects were shown large and small, wellformatted and poorlyformatted spreadsheets. Which combination inspired the most user confidence? You guessed it: large, wellformatted ones. Call it the Information Age Effect; with all that rigorous data so beautifully laid out under program control, how can anything possibly be wrong"? What the author doesn't realize is that a well-formatted spreadsheet, just like easy to read programming code, is a key element of good program design. Mistakes are more likely to occur when a program or spreadsheet is convoluted and complex. This applies to all current programming environments: C++, Visual Basic, Java, etc, as well as the original mainframe procedural language compilers (FORTRAN, PL/I, COBOL).

    The author's objections to Excel are the equivalent of GOP/media talking pointsjust like WMD and terror alerts. No substance. He cites these Excel "disadvantages": Repeated Data; Data Entry; Data Validation & Checking; Data sharing/ Collaboration; Search and Retrieval; Error Debugging; Upper row limit (65000 for Excel); Easy data duplication; Formula errors. But he does not support the statements.

    He has no clue about Excel's powerful facilities and is obviously unaware of these relevant features (see Excel Help for examples and documentation):

    • Object-oriented programming: Excel Object Model, Visual Basic, interface to programming languages such as C++.
    • Databases: Data objects (DAO, ADO); Jet SQL
    • Security: virus protection, digital signatures and certificates; workbook, worksheet and cell protection
    • Web interface: files, hyperlinks, archiving, web servers
    • Debugging tools: available for the programmer to check VBA code, data and formulas.

    Every programming language requires that the programmer step through the code. Excel is no different. Formula and programming errors are caused by programmers during development. These errors are not unique to spreadsheets; they are unique to humans. Sixty-five thousand rows are more than enough to handle the largest precinct in the U.S.  Excel critics are unfamiliar with Visual Basic for Applications (VBA). Have they had hands-on commercial and/or scientific programming experience in mission-critical applications?

    How would critics insure the integrity of the vote? Anyone who has done any reading on the election fraud would agree that there no way to PROVE that votes are counted correctly. Here's a brief summary of why all voting methods can be rigged:

    DRE touch screens: Insecure
    Many hardware/software loopholes for vote-switching have been exposed

    Optical scanners: Vulnerable
    No chain of custody; limited or no recount allowed

    Levers: Unverifiable
    Vote totals reversing at 99, zero votes for Obama in Harlem

    Punched cards:
    Pre-election under-votes; post-election over-votes
    • In Florida 2000, 110,000 double and triple-punched over-votes, 75,000 under-votes; Dan Rather produced an explosive documentary on how faulty paper was used in 2000 to limit the vote count in heavily Democratic Palm Beach County.
    Central tabulators: Invisible
    Who controls the count controls the votes. Stalin would be proud.


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    foo_bar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-06-08 07:32 AM
    Response to Reply #35
    36. that's "no thanks, I don't open .xls files from shady pseudonyms with a geocities page"
    Given the whole trojan horse thing, the subject of half my post that you somehow overlooked. For instance:
    A new Microsoft Excel virus is targeting fantasy football league fans, luring them with an offer of worksheets to track the performance of their team.

    The XF97/Yagnuul.A virus can infect users' dot-xls spreadsheets once the attachment is opened. The virus deploys an infected fantasy league file on the computer's hard drive and may also modify a user's data, according to an alert on Monday from security company Sophos.

    http://software.silicon.com/malware/0,3800003100,391587...

    The post suggests an Open Source system developed by professional programmers for use in all state precincts not a set of individual spreadsheets written by non-professionals. A robust Excel VBA application could be developed in a matter of weeks.

    "Open Source system" ... "Excel VBA application"; again with the one track resume. "Open" VB source is little better than closed source, since it can only be "compiled" through a proprietary Microsoft API on a huge Windows bullseye, leaving it open to numerous routes of attack:

    What can VBA do to me?
    Bad VBA code has been talked about in several previous articles. For example, the VBA.Interaction.Shell command which executes a command on the local system is a quick and dirty payload, especially when coupled to the "regedit /s" command which would allow an attacker to create a .reg file, and import it into the registry.

    A cleaner way uses the API functions Reg*Ex in advapi32.dll to perform direct registry IO without taking the time to upload a .reg file. These functions can simply be defined along with the hideous necesary constants inside the VBA code.

    In addition, an attacker can follow in the footsteps of Melissa et al and use the VBA.Interaction.CreateObject call to create an MS Outlook instance which sends trojan email to every address in the addressbook.

    http://www.securiteam.com/windowsntfocus/5TQ090A1VI.htm...

    VBA Password Bypasser's main advantage is the capability to bypass VBA code password protection of any Visual Basic project whatever the main software is: MS Office (Access, Excel, Word, etc), Corel Office, AutoCAD, etc.
    VBA Password Bypasser Features:

    http://www.softsea.com/review/VBA-Password-Bypasser.htm...

    OK, and now on Excel:
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    So, let's look now to a simple decryption methode for a excel vba module.

    Dim Shared H$(7)
    Sub Auto_Open()
    H$(0) = "¥"
    H$(1) = "ꮳ"
    H$(2) = ""
    H$(3) = "ӧ"
    H$(4) = "¥"
    H$(5) = ""
    H$(6) = "꿥ꧮ"
    H$(7) = "¥"
    Open "\H.txt" For Output As #1
    For X = 0 To 7
    j$ = encrypt(H$(X))
    Print #1, j$
    Next X
    Close #1
    Modules.Add
    ActiveSheet.InsertFile Filename:="\H.txt"
    End Sub

    Function encrypt(k$)
    For i = 1 To Len(k$)
    b = Asc(Mid$(k$, i, 1))
    c = b - 1
    d$ = d$ + Chr$(c)
    Next i
    decrypt = d$
    End Function

    The first 10 lines are again the Arrays and the code for it.

    Note: The encrypted code within the Arrays is only a example!
    I say that, because there are sure again some people, who think
    they must use this encrypted example code in their own virus. ;)

    At line 11 begins the main decryption routine. The virus opens
    there a normal ascii file (H.txt).

    http://64.233.169.104/search?q=cache:4joA01s9Qh4J:vx.ne...

    Name: LineZero Macro Engine
    Creator/Origin: jack twoflower / Austria
    AKA : LiME
    Type: Virus Creation Tool

    Known versions:

    LiME 1.0 - May 1999
    LiME 1.2 - May 1999

    Features:

    Macro virus creation kit capable of creating viruses for Word, Excel and Access. Many user selectable features (infection techniques, payloads, stealth techniques) are available. The kit creates .BAS VBA source codes that need to imported into one of the three applications to make the final virus. By the author of W97MVCK. In version 1.2 the language used is user selectable (German or English) and the viruses for Word and Excel are produced in both the .BAS source code as the "compiled" product. There are 18 payloads for Word, 12 for Excel and 6 for Access.

    http://64.233.169.104/search?q=cache:EIt4piYVtQ4J:vx.ne...

    Every programming language requires that the programmer step through the code. Excel is no different.

    Except it's *proprietary*, opaque, easily exploited, and entails a retarded "Visual" programming language intended for non-programmers/manager types (no offense).

    Have critics ever written a commercial Excel-based application?

    Yeah dude, I built a trading confirmation system for State Street Bank's capital market floor using Excel 4.0 and a ball of string. Then I learned grownup languages so I wouldn't have to wear a suit.

    He has no clue about Excel's powerful facilities and is obviously unaware of these relevant features (see Excel Help for examples and documentation)

    /wank

    Virtually all banking institutions use Excel in conjunction with securities databases for data retrieval, input and analysis.

    Indeed, that's what most end users use to mock up data; the databases themselves are subject to stricter audit/backup/transaction/revision controls, hence they're not klugey Microsoft front-ends.

    Critics fail to suggest a new system design to help eliminate election fraud. What hardware would they use? What software?

    For the specifications of your parallel e-voting project, I'd recommend GNU gcc on an AMD platform running Linux, so you can at least compile everything from scratch from the kernel up, without fearing the proprietary operating system, proprietary pseudo compiler and proprietary spreadsheet app you seem to rely upon.

    They appear to have an agenda to retain voting machines which can be rigged internally and/or by humans after the fact.

    All machines, all systems can be rigged internally and/or by humans after the fact*; the only question is how difficult you make it for a would-be disruptor. Your method is about as secure as Accuvote memory card P-code, which is to say it doesn't add much to the present discussion, especially one billed as "Open Source".

    He developed and marketed spreadsheet based corporate financial models to some of the largest U.S. consumer product manufacturers and foreign banks.

    If this is a "reply from TIA", why is TIA in the third person? Nobody doubts TIA's ability to power-use Excel, nor his ability to produce an M$ Excel solution that conforms to any client's desire no matter how removed from reality. Hey, it's great work if you can't learn new tools or concepts in general.

    This statement shows the writers ignorance, inverted logic and misplaced sarcasm

    Back in the real world:

    Excellent early work on Spreadsheet Error Research was conducted by Ray Panko of the University of Hawaii. If you have not visited his site to review his spreadsheet research - now is the time to do so. His career history has some interesting surprises, some are an integral part of our day-to-day computing. He is Professor of Information Technology Management in the College of Business Administration at the University of Hawaii. It was at this same university that he conducted his groundbreaking research into human error rates and spreadsheets.

    Recently, Ray won the Dennis Ching Award for Academic Excellence for Senior Faculty in 2003-2004.

    Ray did his doctoral dissertation while under contract to the Office of the President of the United States. However, before doing his PhD he was a research physicist for the Boeing Company where he flew on the 747 prototype.

    As a project manager working at the Stanford Research Institute he did research on a variety of communication technologies. He also worked under Doug Engelbart, who invented the mouse and build the world's first hypertext system.

    http://it.toolbox.com/blogs/spreadsheets/raymond-r-pank...


    * Im frequently amazed how easy it is to break some pretty big-name security systems. There are a lot of reasons for this, but the big one is that its impossible to prove that something is secure. All you can do is try to break it.if you fail, you know that its secure enough to keep you out, but what about someone whos smarter than you? Anyone can design a security system so strong he himself cant break it.

    Think about that for a second, because its not obvious. No one is qualified to analyze their own security designs, because the designer and the analyzer will be the same person, with the same limits. Someone else has to analyze the security, because it has to be secure against things the designers didnt think of.

    http://www.brainsturbator.com/forums/viewthread/868 /
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