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Programming Math Music Science

Exploiting Network Captures For Truer Randomness 189

First time accepted submitter ronaldm writes "As a composer who uses computers for anything and everything from engraving to live performance projects, it's periodically of some concern that computers do exactly what they're supposed to do — what they're told. Introducing imperfections into music to make it sound more 'natural' is nothing new: yet it still troubles me that picking up random data from /dev/random to do this is well, cheating. It's not random. It bugs me. So, short of bringing in and using an atomic source, here's a way to embrace natural randomness — and bring your packet captures to life!"
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Exploiting Network Captures For Truer Randomness

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  • /dev/random (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 05, 2011 @05:56PM (#37961096)

    This seems like a fairly lame variant of the environmental entropy gathering which *is* what /dev/random does...

  • by Dahamma ( 304068 ) on Saturday November 05, 2011 @06:01PM (#37961144)

    /dev/random on most OS'ed these days uses an entropy pool generated from a bunch of different sources - timing of keystrokes, mouse movements, disk seeking - and yes, network information. Then it uses cryptographic hashes on those.

    Your implementation basically uses one of those entropy sources, and then doesn't even hash it...

  • Re:If I would (Score:5, Informative)

    by JabberWokky ( 19442 ) <> on Saturday November 05, 2011 @06:07PM (#37961208) Homepage Journal

    Actually, many people would sell you the answer. And they don't have nobel-prices[sic].

    See [] for an overview of the devices you're looking for.

  • Re:Confusion... (Score:3, Informative)

    by ronaldm ( 966544 ) on Sunday November 06, 2011 @05:53AM (#37964142)
    I'm going to reply to just the one poster, as explaining this to each /.'r would take rather a long time! :)

    First and foremost, Slashdot (as you know) unfortunately chooses the URL for your particular story. "Truer[sic] Randomness" is not in fact what I'm going out to somehow magically solve (with my absolute non-background in cryptography etc.). As to why they chose to enter the title of the story as such - I don't know. A bit of sensationalism, perhaps? In any case, I'd originally titled this "Musical Network Captures" - no more, no less!

    Why not use /dev/random? It's not random per se which is required - it's a pseudo-random source which can still be directly influenced by those in the immediate environment. For installation purposes, for example, it's a quick (unorthodox, convoluted, fucked-up, whatever-you-wanna-call it) way of generating an input that can be used to further modulate other inputs/sounds. For this, a stream of random numbers alone is not good enough. There's a million and one ways this could have been done - it just so happens that this is how I decided I'd go about doing it.

    Finally, I'm a bit overwhelmed by the whole Slashdot thing. As it's all worked out, it seems that on my first 'go' at adding something that I thought a couple of people would be interested in, it's seemed to hit the front page - and so at least, next time, I'll know to not be so trigger-happy when I'm 'submitting' something to here! Apologies for all of you who seem to have fallen out with one another and spent half your time bickering over nothing.


"More software projects have gone awry for lack of calendar time than for all other causes combined." -- Fred Brooks, Jr., _The Mythical Man Month_