Hardware hack and supply chain security

Bloomberg just made big news.

In its recent issue, it featured a cover story: “The Big Hack: How China Used a Tiny Chip to Infiltrate U.S. Companies“, detailed how Chinese military planted malicious chips into motherboards manufactured by Taiwanese supplier, supplying motherboards to a major server provider whose servers were used by almost 30 US companies, including Amazon and Apple. And by  doing this, Chinese military gains potential access to these companies and even US military.

Here’s the malicious chip on the motherboard:

Here’s a illustration of that process directly from their website:

You don’t have to be a genius to know how big this is, in many ways.

Technically, this is very advanced. Just compare to what the NSA was found doing back in 2014:


I mean, what the NSA has done can be accomplished by just any organization with a team of security experts. What the Bloomberg described, needs collaboration of experts from different areas spanning different industries. It needs state level sponsorship. The only thing that comes comparable, is the Stuxnet.

But even Stuxnet pales in comparison in terms of long term impact. When Stuxnet was made public in 2010, it has already done its tasks. There were a lot of speculation before US and Israeli officials “half confirmed” its origin, but ultimately, its impact is largely limited to technology world.

The hack described in Bloomberg’s article on the other hand, will help re-shape the global supply chain in the years to come. It would be naive to think this is pure coincident that this hack was published almost the same time when Mike Pence spoke at the Hudson Institution.

Despite its length, the article actually doesn’t describe the hacking in detail. The chip in its cover photo (shown below) was dismissed by experts as a very cheap passive component, “not possible to do anything remotely related to hacking”.

The way the chip supposed to work is also vague. From the article, it seems the chip may hijack the code verification process to bypass some security check. But it is unclear whether it was the IPMI code verification or the UEFI code verification or both.

As of this writing, both Apple and Amazon have denied the claim the hack claim. However, the shell has been dropped and the storm is still brewing. Because despite all these refusals, it successfully made people believe that this kind of hack is possible, and it is only possible in mainland China. The seed has been planted. How lucky we are, to witness such historical drama unfolding before our eyes.

Call for smart asses

Some of you may have seen this video, since it has been around for several years:

(For those you feel so compelled to up-vote this video, sorry I don’t have such a button on my blog, but you are welcome to go to YouTube and search for “Short Comedy Sketch” and express your sympathy there. :))

After being exposed to it several times, I started to think, well, maybe, just maybe, it is not entirely, ridiculously impossible? So after some sketching, I came up with something like this:

It’s just a re-interpretation of what the business people are saying.

    • When they say 7 lines perpendicular to each other, they probably mean some lines are perpendicular to others;
    • When they say draw red lines with transparent ink, they probably mean red line with some transparency;
    • When they say draw red lines with green ink, they probably mean green ink overlaying red lines;

I proudly showed this to some friends and was called (not surprisingly) a smart ass. But that didn’t stop me from showing this in lectures and explaining to the audience how you can manage conflicting requirements – make sense out of it.

But then, today, I just found a even better solution to this seemingly impossible requirement:

[YouTube link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xNWt0VuMbHA]

This solution is way better than mine in 2 aspects:

  • It actually draws red lines with blue ink;
  • All 7 lines are perpendicular to each other;

It is still not perfect, but it makes me think, maybe there are even better solutions? Smart asses out there, wanna try it out?




@猛虎细嗅蔷薇 的回答已经切中了要点:
是否有利于经济发展,是否能带来经济发展,是否有实用价值,是一个非常单一的标准。而人类社会的发展是非常多维度的。无数美好的理想,信念,从实用角度一文不值。那是因为只知道从实用角度看,本来就错了。李明确说,党的执政合法性来自于“舍我其谁的执政能力”,但是说出来的执政能力表现完全集中于经济发展。 由此看来,李世默的演讲,其实本来不值得探讨。

另一方面,这个演讲的新鲜之处在于,显然他在为现行体制辩护——如果如楼上某些人所言,他仅仅是在 消解宏大叙事,那就完全不必赞美现行体制了,也不必论证党的执政合法性了——论证的起点却是共产主义宏大叙事的幻灭。此外,他选择直面执政合法性这个敏感 话题。直率的不像体制内!


  1. 共产主义宏大叙事已经是共产党执政的负资产,必须要抛弃,只是要讲策略,讲时机;
  2. 从现实出发从经济发展出发重新打造ccp的执政合法性;



An antidote to the so-called Chinese way of teaching

As I said before, I don’t think there is a single “Chinese way of teaching”. In addition, the Chinese ways of teaching are also changing. However, there are characters that are commonly agreed to be associated with Chinese ways of teaching: emphasis on discipline and order, rely primarily on repetition and memorization.

In the discussion provoked by the BBC documentary, “Are our kids touch enough: Chinese school”, I’ve seen a lot of people praising these characters. Well, here’s an antidote to the obsession of academic achievement:

Mind you, I don’t see this as a full argument against Chinese way of teaching. I’d love to get more cases like Gillian Lynne from Mr. Ken Robinson. However, this talk at least challenges us, reminds us to look further, wider, beyond academic achievement, in education. I’ll provide a Chinese translation to the transcript in another post.









2008年4月23日,有人(ID:Vicky. H)在华盛顿邮报的讨论区发表评论,说他收到这么一封邮件,据传邮报已经发表过了,但是没有证据。诗篇结尾签名是Duo-Liang Lin, Ph. D.




4月25日,一个ID叫做“A Poem Published by the Washington Post. ”的人又重新贴了这一首诗,加上了Duo-Liang Lin的签名。


Its authorship could not be confirmed.

此后国内媒体多声称这首诗是“林良多”教授发表在《华盛顿邮报》上。其实,Duo-Liang Lin的中文名字叫做“林多樑”;他向华盛顿邮报说明过自己并非作者;华盛顿邮报说的很清楚,作者身份无法确认。


P.S. Times在2008年也有一篇文章提到了这首诗:

Poetry and Prosaic Advice

Advantages of Chinese Teaching

OK, I use this title just to bring attention.

After watching all 3 episodes of the BBC documentary, Are our kids tough enough, Chinese School,  in my opinion, there is one aspect of British kids that really needs to improve: coping with competition and failure.

When British kids were in the PE class, they were very upset that they might fail. Philippa actually sobbed on not passing one item. And she said:

“I just don’t think comparing yourself to others is a good, healthy life style.”


Philippa is not alone. In the 1st episode, we saw another boy sobbed during PE class.

Well, I have to agree with Philippa that it is not a healthy life style. But competition is part of life. Ranking students all the time with different measures is of course too much, but exposing them to a certain dose of competition is essential to their development. To Philippa, I’d say it’s equally not healthy if young people are so scared of competition that they sob on a failure in just one PE preparation. I don’t want my daughter to be so fragile.

So this is the advantage of Chinese teaching. Put all the drawbacks aside, this is probably one thing Britain should learn from Chinese teaching: To get the kids used to competition.


BBC的纪录片“Are out Kids Tough Enough? Chinese School”,中文名“我们的孩子足够坚强吗?中式学校”一下子就火了朋友圈了。上网一搜,各种评论铺天盖地。赶快花了两个小时找到看看,免得落后时代太远。下面的我的感想和评论:







It’s about language and culture, dude


It came to me as a complete surprise that the BBC documentary Are Our Kids Tough Enough? Chinese School got so much attention, and the debate over which is better, the Chinese way or the British way, actually got so heated up.

So I just spent 2 hours watching it on Youtube and here’s what I think.

First of all, I’d say the heated debate and all the furious comments on which way of teaching is better are mostly not based on the video itself. Because what the documentary shows is not a meaningful comparison. All the Chinese teachers simply failed miserably in managing their classes from the very beginning, due largely to, in my humble opinion, cultural conflict and language barrier. So I’ll base my comment on the program and maybe comment on the debate over this program in a separate post.

The Experiment

I don’t know who organized this. I think it’s a fantastic idea in terms of cultural exchange. But if the goal is to compare the Chinese way of teaching to the British way of teaching,  it cannot be taken seriously.

Teaching involves extensive interaction between the teachers and the students. Language barrier and cultural difference cannot be overlooked. Stories of foreign teachers got frustrated in Chinese classes because Chinese students were inactive have been around since 20+ years now. Why should we expect the Chinese teachers not to be shocked in a British school? This cultural shock should be expected and extra time should be planned for both the teachers and the students to adapt.

继续阅读It’s about language and culture, dude

Skin color is an illusion from Nina Jablonski

This talk is kind of special. The content has nothing really new to me, except the fact that Darwin had actually concluded that skin color has nothing to do with climate. However, Ms. Nina Jablonski delivered it in such passion and power that you feel the urge of immediate action.

You can tell from the fluent flow of long sentences that this is for sure a carefully prepared talk. But no passion was lost in the preparation. Outstanding!

Stereotyping and its costs

Recently I watched this

And this:

I’ve been watching TED videos for years now but still feel like an eye opening.

People may say, “Oh come on, these are TED videos right? They are meant to impress people.” I’m actually not that easily impressed. I’m not talking about the technology or the plasticity of human brain. I’m talking about the very fact that a disabled person could become an MIT professor, lead a world class research team or could be so sharp, so articulate and appear so *normal*.

Despite all the pride of being Chinese, we have to admit, that would not happen in modern China.

If Mr. Hugh Herr had been born in China, he would have probably at best dropped out of school very early on and attended a special school or even worse, simply stay at home, completely isolated. If Mr. Daniel Kish were in China, he won’t have had the chance to share his personal experience with others. Instead, with his outstanding ability, he probably will end up making a living by showing off his special ability in a circus (Or in Beijing subway if circus fade out of favor completely).

The reason behind the differences, I believe, lies primarily in everyone’s mind.

I happen to know the concept of “stereotype threat”. For those who don’t know, according to wikipedia it is “one of the most widely studied topics in the field of social psychology”, that evaluates the impact of stereotyping. As it turns out, a lot of performance gaps between groups can be explained by this stereotype threat. I personally believe that stereotype threat is the key reason behind the performance gap between disabilities in China and disabilities in the US.

Let’s face it: China is still a country full of biased stereotypes. It’s true that stereotyping is part of human nature and that stereotypes exist in every society. However, China stands out in allowing stereotypes to go unchecked in every corner of everyday life, TV programs, newspapers, magazines, even textbooks for children. As a consequence, people are so used to all sort of stereotypes that no one even bothers to stand up against said stereotype, even though everyone has been a victim of one form of stereotype or another.

I have to admit that, I only started to pay attention to this topic after my wife and I had a child. My wife and I are lucky, our daughter is normal in every aspect. However, as new and inexperienced parents, at times when my daughter was sick and sometimes we became scared and couldn’t help but think about all kinds of what-if scenarios.

Out of this kind of reasoning I became a person that is conscious about stereotype. Bit by bit I recalled how I have struggled against all sorts of stereotypes against myself when I was young. I started to realized how I have stereotyped others and how destructive that could be. Everyone is a victim of this inescapable net of stereotyping.

So, on this special day, I propose one thing we could do to bring positive changes to China, without disturbing the government: reflect on ourselves and stop stereotyping.

To end this article, here’s a Stanford professor on this topic: