Everything you need to know about “Heartbleed”

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Some call it CVE-2014-0160. Some like to refer to it as TLS heartbeat read overrun. Some know it as OpenSSL v1.0.1. I like to say it’s the worst thing to happen to the Internet since BuzzFeed.

However you know it, the bug commonly known as Heartbleed remains shrouded in mystery to many. But no longer! By the end of this article, you, my fellow Brunonian, will be able to proudly discuss the intricacies of Heartbleed with your friendly local CS concentrator. Kind of like how you discussed that book in AP English after only reading the Sparknotes.

(Disclaimer: CS people, please don’t get angry at me for the technical transgressions I’ve committed in this article.)

What is Heartbleed?

Brief review: HTTPS is a thing. (You know, like https://) The S stands for Secure. It’s for when you don’t want other people to be able to see your passwords and other personal information.

You know that little lock in the top left corner?

HTTPS Lock

This one.

Well, Heartbleed allows hackers to unlock that lock (in certain cases) and see parts of your personal information. Yeah. No bueno. Especially when the https:// precedes yourbank.com.

What’s up with the name?

Sometimes, when your computer is talking to a website, it sends it a “heartbeat” to let it know that it’s still there. Kind of like when your doctor uses a stethoscope to make sure you’re still there. Without getting into technical details, suffice to say that the bug came from those heartbeats. So someone thought, “Oh, it would be kind of cool to nickname the bug Heartbleed, cause the site is bleeding information to hackers. Get it?”

And so it was.

How bad is it?

How bad would it be if your heart were bleeding?

Shit. Have all my passwords been stolen?

Uh, it’s sort of difficult to say. One of the worst things about Heartbleed is that it’s really hard to tell if anyone actually took advantage of it, and if so, who.

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Shoes of Brown: The Facebook page with soles

1904148_271240356374927_159885156_nBefore this week, we’re sure you never thought that shoes could be a window into the sole soul. Since its recent launch, however, Shoes of Brown—Brown’s latest community Facebook page—has created a space for Brown students to think critically about the sheer profundity of shoes: as a commodity, as a means of self-expression, and, perhaps most importantly, as a tie to other Brown students. These themes appear to resonate with members of the Brown Community; the page has earned 400+ “likes” in its first few days of existing on the interwebz.

Like the several other pages that “showcase” members of the Brunonian sphere (i.e. HumansJews), Shoes of Brown promises to give shoes a voice by “showcasing your favorite shoes at your favorite university.” Below, we include some posts of your favorite shoes at Brown. We also sit down with the page’s creator, who has chosen to remain anonymous, to gain further insight into the impact that shoes have at Brown. We hope that such a feature will allow you to walk a mile in these Brunonians’ shoes. These are their stories. Continue Reading


Web Civ: Rebecca Black’s triumphant return

Whether you were kickin’ in the front seat or sittin’ in the backseat, I’m sure you remember exactly where you were when Rebecca Black’s “Friday” became the song of the decade week back in 2011. But in her iconic song, Rebecca leaves us with a cliffhanger: “Today i-is Friday… Tomorrow is Saturday.” If you’ve spent every day for the past two and a half years wondering what her Saturday was like, as I have, the suspense is finally over: Rebecca released her new music video, “Saturday,” on Saturday, December 7th. It has racked up 12 million views in three days, and it’s every bit as fun, fun, fun, fun as I could have imagined. Continue Reading


Web Civ: Facebook updates chat, avid Facebook chatters rejoice

THE WORLD MAKES SO MUCH MORE SENSE NOWFacebook has officially changed the Facebook chat game: Zuckerberg & Co. unveiled a new chat feature this morning. Now you can see whether your friends are using Facebook on their mobile devices or their computers.

Why is this such an exciting change? There are often disconnects between those who are chatting on different devices. Those on phones may give shorter responses (since the app takes a while to load/open on phones) since they’re likely…well, mobile. They also may be purposely trying to resist the temptation to go on Facebook on their computers. Those who are chatting on their computers are able to type a lot in a shorter period of time, and thus may seem to be bombarding people who are logged into Facebook on their phones—perhaps accidentally—who may not have time to read and respond to messages with the same amount of thought and detail. Continue Reading


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Web Civ: Alison Gold’s ‘Chinese Food’

It’s been well over a week since Alison Gold’s “Chinese Food,” the latest from Ark Music Factory—the one-man brain trust behind such staples as “Friday” and “It’s Thanksgiving“—dropped on YouTube, and the odds are not low that you’ve seen it by now. Over the course of its brief existence, the video has amassed 10 million views and a whopping 4:1 dislike-to-like ratio. Media response has been swift: Bon Appetit spoke with a grammatically challenged Gold via instant-message for its website last week, and Yahoo OMG! Insider followed with this cringe-inducing interview segment tackling the “alleged” racism in the video.

Of course, saying the racism in “Chinese Food” is “alleged” is kind of like saying Charles Manson is “allegedly” a bad dude. From fairly harmless Chinese imagery (a dancing Panda bear, pervasive and improper use of chopsticks) to more troubling conflations of pan-Asian life (dancers in kimonos, a Monopoly piece landing on Oriental Avenue), “Chinese Food” deals primarily in stereotypes. But before you head over to YouTube to jump into the spirited viewer debate (and believe me, an analysis of the comment section would make for a riveting post of its own), ask yourself: “Am I not doing exactly what they—being Ark—want me to?”

And the answer is, of course you are. Ark videos are much like Westboro Baptist Church pickets—by responding with outrage or disbelief, you’re merely fanning the flames. These people live for negative feedback. (Which then begs the perennial question, who the hell are the parents that continue to send their kids to Ark’s Patrice Wilson? Obviously, they are has-beens or never-weres living in the greater Los Angeles area, where dreams are eviscerated and hearts ripped from souls… but even for that demographic, isn’t this a little much?) In any case: just don’t bother reacting, and you’ll save your precious time and energy.

And I believe in that stance. Truly, I do. The best way to watch an Ark video is to not watch it at all. But, the next best way to watch an Ark video is to laugh, indulge in the low-hanging fruit that it offers, and pick it apart for every single one of its moronic frames. Which I have done, after the jump:

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Web Civ: What your cover photo says about you

It’s an almost universally agreed upon fact that Facebook changes suck. We like our social networks reliable and unmodified, gosh darnit! So when the cover photo was introduced, we were naturally all a bit hesitant.  Two profile pictures? We initially thought to ourselves. What is this hootenanny?

But Facebook users are narcissistic embraced the cover photo and utilized it as a form of expression, posting awkwardly-sized, rectangular images of everything from their favorite place to their favorite artist.  After some thorough Facebook stalking research, we deduced what each type of cover photo says about you:

The Beyonce: We feel your pain. Other Beyonce fans are tough to find; you’ve got to broadcast your obsession in the off chance you’ll get a couple of likes from some fellow Bey enthusiasts hiding out there somewhere. But seriously, this ubiquitous choice isn’t all that bad. You’ve got good taste in music… and humans. Sadly, you don’t win any creativity points.

The nature scene: “This website is pretty nice I guess,” Zuckerberg worried to himself the night he conceived the cover photo, “but it needs more sweet pics of people standing in front of mountains.” The nature cover photo became an instant staple. Today, you can’t stalk for long without coming across a picture of dirty people standing in front of a lake. For the most part, these send the right kinds of messages. You’ve got an adventurous side, you’ve seen some incredible sights and you know how to take a decent picture. Unless you pulled it off of Google. That’s not okay. Continue Reading