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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.


I go on working for the same reason a hen goes on laying eggs. -- H.L. Mencken