After Hours

Geek Trivia: The Quibble of the Week for Oct. 14, 2008

In last week's column, The Trivia Geek playfully suggested the danger of ham radio operators eavesdropping on U.S. Secret Service communications. TechRepublic member foster.ryan let him know just how implausible that bit of facetious fiction really was.

If you uncover a questionable fact or debatable aspect of this week's Geek Trivia, just post it in the discussion area of the article. Every week, yours truly will choose the best quibble from our assembled masses and discuss it in a future edition of Geek Trivia.

This week's quibble comes from the Oct. 7, 2008 edition of Geek Trivia, "(Air) Forcing the issue." In that column, I playfully suggested the danger of ham radio operators eavesdropping on U.S. Secret Service communications. TechRepublic member foster.ryan let me know just how implausible that bit of facetious fiction really was:

"As a ham, you can not encode or decode any kind of encryption or encoding that is not publicly available and open to everyone. As an ex-military controlled crypto custodian, anyone 'coming across' those [Secret Service] words would be either be listening to someone talking about something else/playing around, or is already breaking the law and is INSANELY lucky that they came across one of the (something like) 6 billion cryptographic keys that they could have choose for that presidential movement. I believe we can (we as in hams) listen to the frequencies, and even some potentially transmit on (in emergency situations, such as nuclear war), but the only thing you would hear even if you knew exactly where to be listening would be the sound of completely anonymous RFE— by that I mean, you could tell someone was transmitting an FM signal, but other than that, you would hear nothing."

Thanks for the quick tech lesson, and keep those quibbles coming!

Falling behind on your weekly Geek fix?

Check out the Geek Trivia Archive, and catch up on the most recent editions of Geek Trivia.

Test your command of useless knowledge by subscribing to TechRepublic's Geek Trivia newsletter. Automatically sign up today!

About Jay Garmon

Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger — amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can a...

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox