Mar/20
2011

Un-SecureID

Everyone and their uncle has one of those little gray fobs. Semi-keyhole shaped, the tiny device provides an ever-changing code that combines with another password to enable "secure" validation of a user trying to log onto a system. Only it's not really so secure. At least not any more...
SAN FRANCISCO — The RSA Security division of the EMC Corporation said Thursday that it had suffered a sophisticated data breach, potentially compromising computer security products widely used by corporations and governments.[...] Mr. Coviello said that the company’s investigation had revealed that the intruder successfully stole digital information from the company that was related to RSA’s SecurID two-factor authentication products. He did not give precise details about the nature of the information, but said it could potentially reduce the effectiveness of the system in the face of a “broader attack.” The company said that there was currently no indication that the information had been used to attack its customers. (NYT)
We all know it's China so lets ignore the "who done it" part of the exercise. What's much more relevant (and annoying) is the total freakout-paranoia that has resulted. Companies using SecureID are taking drastic measures and draconian measures that are going to negatively impact the ability of their employees to get their work done. Worse these measures aren't being thoughtfully applied as needed, no, it's slash-and-burn, salt-the-earth mayhem. The facts are simple enough for anyone to understand: for a system to be usable it needs to provide access to users who can *use* it. Access requires some sort of logon and authentication. Any logon and authentication, even on isolated systems, can be compromised (unless of course you choose to leave it powered off in which case you don't have a "system" so much as you have an expensive doorstop.) Contingency plans need to be made to secure as much as you can, realizing that sometime, somewhere, somehow it will be compromised. We don't live in a bubble folks. That's life. But in order to make progress we need to be able to do our daily jobs, and that means accepting risk. So please, take your pants off your head and stop running around screaming, I really need to get back to work.
Mar/20
2011
Short version: chubby kid gets harassed for years and finally snaps. Picks up the smaller tormentor and tosses him to the ground. Both kids get 4 days suspension from the school (note the school did absolutely dick to provide a safe environment, but they have no problem suspending both the bully and the victim.) If you want to here's the you tube video (providing they haven't moved it for the umpteenth time). This one with more detail on the events probably won't get deleted: http://mainemartialarts.com/news/commentary-casey-haynes-australian-kid-bullied-caught-video/ His mother is upset that this was caught on video, and the mother of the bully is demanding an apology from the kid her son was picking on. Finally the school system is actually thinking about pressing charges against Casey and his family, mainly because they're fucking dickheads that are probably embarrassed as hell by the whole thing (who better to pick on than the weaker party - now you see why they never did anything about it in the first place.) So yeah, here's a big fat fuck you to his school and their administrators. He's the hero and you're all the scum-sucking zero.
Mar/20
2011
. . . what did you expect? You cut your hair is such a freakish ... er... I mean unique way and you expect no one is going to take a picture? AOL news pegged the look as "The unique hairstyle is a combination of a punk rocker's traditional mohawk mixed with the notorious tufts worn by Flock of Seagulls frontman Mike Score."
I would have to concur with that assessment. However, I might be more inclined to say a Mohawk meets Bozo the Clown and a Cupie Doll. Yeah, I'm not entirely sure what look Mr. Washburn was going for or what his inspiration was. Ladies, I'm sure he is man enough for you all. Line forms to the left and no need to clawing each other to run your fingers through those locks. But it gets better, after a man took his picture, Mr. Washburn wanted the photographer to delete the pic. When the photographer refused, Mr. Washburn's buddy, Timothy Beard stole the photographer's sunglasses and Mr. Washburn whacked the photographer in the head with his skateboard. Mr. Washburn and Mr. Beard, you are both douches. I bet you never expected to be memorialized in mug shots. You should have just left that photographer alone. The most he might have done is put it in a blog and make fun of you. And all that stuff about the ladies? Yeah, that was sarcasm. You don't have to fear mobs of women chasing you down the street looking for a shag. Of course maybe the bearded lady is looking a date . . .
Mar/19
2011

The Witcher Is Worthwhile

Diablo was good, back in the day. Diablo II was better. Sure there were a few other RPGs of note, or semi-note: Sacred, Dungeon Siege, maybe even Torchlight more recently although I never finished that one, but I have a new standard and it's called The Witcher (wikipedia link). Overall I'm really more an FPS person than an RPG-er but this game trumps all the issues I typically have. It has a remarkably complex story plot (save early, save often, you'll find yourself rolling back more than once after you make a choice that had an unpredictable result although none will prevent you from finishing quests, some choices may give you additional ones.) The graphics are damn good considering when it was published and, best of all, it costs $20 for instant-download-from-Steam gratification. I didn't buy the game because of anyone else's review. Frankly I'm the first of my friends to own this game and since then I've evangelized the hell out of it. I know sequel is coming out shortly, The Witcher 2, but it's been two solid weeks of game play (with one restart) and I'm not yet half way through the content. It's so good I don't even want to rush. A few foibles, or oddities of note: you have to take your time. Talk to people like you would in real life, not just because their name gets mentioned in the quest ("go talk to so and so and say such and such.") That was my first mistake and why I decided to restart from scratch. When I did only that I sped through the content hungrily trying to bring each thread to closure. Big mistake. I missed out on a ton of rich content - ghosts of dead kings with dire warnings and several trysts with very fair maidens and um... female creatures of lore (it's groovy being green let me tell you.) On that note another 'interesting' feature are the dalliances themselves. If you score a female of note you get a very artfully rendered card to gawk at that provides an illustration of the maid in question coyly posed in a provocative (or evocative) setting. Far from being irked at what might seem like an immature version of "ya gotta collect 'em all" I've been intrigued. It's a fine line between art and pron and the game knows just where to slice it. Finally the combat. As with most RPGs you gather skill points as you progress and place them where you like in skill trees. The combat system, combined with the keyboard/mouse style of movement, is very satisfying. You feel sufficiently in control and at the same time not overloaded so you can't watch the skillful moves of your hero. Overall I give The Witcher a 10 out of 10. Length of play, art, rendering, reliability, storyline, character growth and pure slash-n-hack satisfaction. Further there is a wealth of help out on the web for people who get stuck (see the Witcher wiki at witcher.wikia.com) or just want more explanation (they warn you before revealing any plot details.) Note that I did encounter 1 bug - when I first started playing I would get a lockup from my video card about once every 2 - 3 days. To solve that I turned the settings all the way down for anti-aliasing and possibly depth of field (turned it down anyway don't know if I needed to) and no problems since. Also no noticeable change in the quality of the graphics. So in summary, if you're bored, looking for a good, long, meaty game to sink your teeth into try the Witcher. You won't be sorry. Not for 20 bucks that's for damn sure.
Mar/18
2011
I hate daylight savings time, especially in the spring. I hate extracting myself from bed an hour earlier and waiting an hour longer to see the first crack of dawn that tells me that it is indeed morning. It just plain sucks for people who aren't morning people. And you can tell the morning people, they are the ones smiling saying "but it is light longer! That's great!" Eh, whatever. Morning people are annoying. There is the argument that it saves electricity. Lights in the morning vs. lights in the evening is still lights. Unless electricity in the morning is cheaper and requires less energy to produce than electricity in the evening, I don't understand. I also wonder how much is lost on productivity the week or two following the switch in spring. I can only speak for myself, but I was dragging ass for two days. We are talking zombiefied dragging. My brain refused to work and I felt like shit. Oh, I spend the required time in bed, but my body refused to sleep like a very bad three year old. I am adjusting, but nearly a week of lack of sleep seems to have taken it's toll. I think I am getting a cold. So much for productivity next week. Generally, in my opinion, daylight savings time sucks. BFD that sun is up "later" in the evening.
Mar/17
2011
The New York Times has an article today that discusses the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant which is just a stones throw from New York City. Some people who live near the plant are not bothered, others are. Some people are just plain bothered by nuclear power. Some became bothered when it was discovered that the plant is in close proximity to two fault lines. To these folks I say: This is not Japan. It was the tsunami that did the most damage to the plants, not the earthquake itself. Indian Point is also located 35 miles north of New York City along the Hudson River. It would take a tsunami that would wipe out all of New York City to damage Indian Point to the extent seen at the power plants in Japan. If that were to occur, there would likely be very few people to evacuate left. In a nut shell, the fault line types and the geology of New York and northern Japan are very different and potential scenarios are very different. Another thing of which people may not be aware: Governmental agencies in charge of safety at nuclear power plants do regular bench top drills. In other words, they develop a hypothetical scenario and run through it. They have people throw potential curve balls at the group and come up with solutions. Afterward they assess the response and determine what they could have done better. These exercises reduce their reaction time to predictable problems and hone their problem solving skills for those that they did not anticipate. Will a real emergency run smoothly? Probably not, no emergency does. However, those involved will be prepared as much as they can. Bottom line: Unless we want to embrace a lifestyle like the Amish, we need electricity. Until we come up with something better, we need nuclear power if we have any hope of extracting ourselves from reliance on foreign fossil fuels. Those responsible for nuclear power are doing what they can to keep it as safe as possible. So take a deep breath and hope that the big one doesn't hit.
Mar/16
2011
Do I have your attention? Do you notice we have not seen anything like that in the headlines? There is no news of rioting in Japan. It seems that the Japanese are restraining themselves in crisis of huge, nearly inconceivable, proportions. If anything, the level of dignity they are maintaining is admirable. Would human behavior be just as civilized if a similar crisis happened here in the US? Unfortunately I think we all know the answer to that question. We all saw what happened during a catastrophe here in the US only a mere 5 ½ years ago. Think about it. If it wasn’t for the whole language thing, I might consider moving to Japan. I’m sure my neighbors would be nicer, or at the very least more polite. Heck, there are some in the US that exhibit thuggish behavior when they “celebrate” (see my recent post), so what can we expect when things are dire.
Mar/16
2011
I have a monthly meeting with nearly 20 people invited. Last month when I give my opinion I was verbally beat on. I have something else going on this month so I cannot easily attend and suddenly some want to reschedule the meeting. I wish I could tell all of them to go fuck themselves, but I can't. They want me to smile and agree to some bullshit that makes them feel better. I cannot agree to the bullshit, it's junk science. I'm not going to give feel-good nonsense a rubber stamp. I’m included in the process to give my professional opinion. Just because the over-inflated egos of some politicians don't agree with my approach I am their favorite whipping post. Whip away, it doesn't change my professional opinion.
Mar/16
2011
Clear cut case of "let he who is without sin cast the first stone." All you fucking people badmouthing Alexandra have never ranted about someone? I call bullshit on that.
LOS ANGELES — When Alexandra Wallace recorded her rant about Asian students using cellphones in the library at the University of California, Los Angeles, she was alone, speaking to her computer. But since she posted the three-minute video to YouTube, Ms. Wallace, a third-year political science student at U.C.L.A., has achieved a sudden, unwelcome celebrity: her video has been viewed by millions of people, and she has become the subject of nationwide condemnation and the catalyst of a debate about racial intolerance and free speech. “Please expel this ignorant woman immediately,” Kiki Gyrle wrote on Facebook, where there are many posts about Ms. Wallace, some too profane to print. “Tolerating such discourse of hate and racism is now being construed as policy to condone such tirades.”
Kiki you ignorant twat don't you read the news? This is America. And even idiots like you are allowed by law (recently re-emphasized by the Supreme Court) to speak their mind. Alexandra's irritation at Asian students on the phone may be seen as mean or insensitive but it in no way reflects on the school and its policies. Get a grip people and stop lambasting anyone foolish enough to put their feelings out for all to see. You clicked. You read it. That's what the internet is all about, dishing, dumping, blasting and ranting. Q.E.D. Jackasses. Look, she'll have enough problems getting a job after this, but UCLA doesn't have a limb to stand on in terms of reprimanding her. And technically? She's right. I'm sure the Library doesn't have "tsunami exceptions" to their no-cell-phone policy rules. So stfu.
Mar/16
2011
I'm furious. This is unconscionable. We, the US of A. just paid Pakistan to release our citizen after he shot the two men who attacked him.
LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) — An American CIA contractor who shot and killed two Pakistani men was released from prison Wednesday and left Pakistan after more than $2 million in "blood money" was paid to his victims' families, defusing a dispute that threatened an alliance vital to defeating al-Qaida and ending the Afghan war. In what appeared to be carefully choreographed end to a crisis that had stoked anti-Americanism to new heights, the U.S. Embassy said the Justice Department had opened an investigation into the killings on Jan. 27 by Raymond Allen Davis. It thanked the families for "their generosity" in pardoning Davis. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton denied the U.S. had made any payments, but she didn't dispute that the men's families were compensated. A lawyer for the families said the money came from the Americans.
Fucking no it didn't "come from the Americans" because I'm an American and it sure as shit didn't come from me. Yes, I'm sure they used my tax dollars, yes he worked for the CIA, yes he was there to sneak around and learn things under the covers, yes he fucked up and got his cover blown but no, Pakistan had no right to put him in jail, on trial and make a big, fat, fucking farce of our international relationship. 2 million? Really? 2 fucking million to the families of petty thieves who made a living holding up anyone and everyone? Now their mothers and wives get rich, their country men get to make these losers who did nothing useful, hurting and stealing from others, into martyrs. Great, we just empowered the families of criminals, setting a new standard for what young people in Pakistan can aspire to: "Hold Up An American! Become A Hero!" Oh wait, that's already the Taliban motto isn't it? I can't believe we bailed this guy out. I can't believe our government caved and didn't just fucking hold back $2 million or $2 billion dollars of the money we're pouring into that nation, money that primarily goes directly into the pockets of those in power. $2 million? How many school budgets would that balance here, back home? If the answer is even "one" then clearly this was good money gone, not just to waste, but probably funneled back into agencies that want to kill us. $2 million dollars buys a lot of hate, blood money, and it will be our blood too.
Mar/15
2011

Awesome

Some people think lots of things are awesome. They sit back and see the things in their life, and decide which things are awesome. The new soda is awesome. The sale at the mall is awesome. That BBQ sauce is awesome. A fast car is awesome. That girl's breasts are awesome. There are millions of cases every day where some event or object in our life is considered awesome. Maybe it's just me, but that seems tawdry and ordinary. Recently, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan have been labeled as awesome, if only for it's destructive force. That's closer. The power required to shift continents and move oceans is certainly on the right scale for awesome. But, it's closer to the bottom end of the spectrum in my opinion. If you ever out into the deep dark night, far from any cities or light, look up and stare for a minute at the vast stream of light pouring down from the night sky. A long splash of light from the Milky Way. Looking at it on edge, as we do, you can make out roughly 2,500 stars with the naked eye, back-lit by a vast mist of light. In fact, most of the 'mist' is made up of huge quantities of stars. 100-400 BILLION of them. We're 30,000 light years away from galactic center, which means that the light from it we're seeing right now, started it's journey back when Neanderthal still roamed across the plains. To cross the Milky Way from side to side, you would have to travel 590,000,000,000,000,000 miles. That's 590 quadrillion miles. That number is so large that the human brain is incapable of really processing it, regardless of context. To consider it as a distance is completely unfathomable. And even if you could wrap your thoughts around that, the universe throws so much more at you. Our galaxy is one of at least 100 billion galaxies, each with their own collection of 100 billion stars spanning a universe that stretches out over 14 billion light years in every dimension Awesome things don't have to be the enormity of the universe. It doesn't have to be the ocean take a step to the left. It doesn't have to be the first cry of a newborn babe. But it does have to be life changing and mind altering. To me, that is truly awesome. Something entirely capable of making a person gasp in awe if they ever really considered the scope and size of the universe around them. When perceived, the awesome stops you in your tracks and demands to be noticed. It demands that your alter your grasp on reality to deal with it. Sadly, most people never dare to allow their minds to wrap around that sort of thing. It's too much for them to accept so they move past it without really processing it. They're just memorizing a factoid without parsing it fully. They see the awesome, think about how "neat" it is and move on. They reject the awesome because they refuse to change themselves to accept it. Instead, they sit in their mundane lives and complain that they're bored. They demand entertainment. Stimulation for the brains that they have largely failed to use. They seek out the tired and mundane. And they call it 'awesome'.
Mar/15
2011
Even the people posting comments had a hard time sympathizing with the premise of the post...
For Elderly Muslims, Few Care Options Outside the Home [..]Older parents who do come to the United States often live an insulated existence. “They don’t speak the language, so people can’t communicate with them,” said Ms. Nadir. For them, life in a majority of residential facilities would be an alien experience. “Many of the facilities are not equipped to provide the kind of care a Muslim elder needs — requirements for diet, for prayers, for things that would make a comfortable setting,” she said. “We can’t count on those things in most elder care facilities. They’re not used to us.” (NYT)
Before the Muslims came to the US there were Jews and Irish and Chinese and well, fucking everybody. At sometime in the history of America there were different waves from different nations that brought their own culture. Oddly enough those cultures didn't really have a problem assimilating. They learned, they adapted and still magically managed to maintain their cultural identity without imposing additional burdens on others. But apparently not Muslims, at least not the type discussed in this post. You see we're supposed to feel sympathy that when children brought over their parents they never enrolled them in English-speaking classes. They never tried to integrate them into the neighborhood. They kept their relatives isolated, insulated, away from what America really is: multiculturalism. So no, sorry, no sympathy for you as you take on the care of your aging parent. You don't get to lament the lack of tailored facilities because you never took the time to participate in the communities or businesses that could have sponsored them. If orthodox Jews could manage then Muslims can too, unless of course they're less capable?
Mar/15
2011
What's with the political gaffs these days? They're just getting more and more bizarre.
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Republican lawmaker in Kansas apologized Tuesday for remarks suggesting that illegal immigrants should be shot like feral swine, but his statement didn't quiet the furor over what he said was a "regrettable" joke. The League of United Latin American Citizens' national office in Washington described the comments from state Rep. Virgil Peck, of Tyro, as "despicable" and called upon him to resign.[..] Asked whether he intended to resign, Peck said: "Nope." Peck made his comments during a Monday meeting of the House Appropriations Committee as it discussed whether the state should try to control the wild hog population by using gunmen in helicopters. He said, "If shooting these immigrating feral hogs works, maybe we have found a (solution) to our illegal immigration problem."
So much for the "new civility". It seems as if lawmakers are actually trying to outdo each other in terms of rancid and vile commentary. Clearly the voting public, in their desperation for something new and different, has chosen poorly. They've elected imbeciles who can't even think before they blurt out comments that even kids would know was inappropriate. Virgil, if that really is your name, you're a fucking loser. Way to embarrass yourself, your party and your people.
Mar/15
2011
Her Op-Ed piece entitled "Let Kids Rule the School" is a fabulous bit of bullshit. The premise is simple: School is boring and kids who are bored will fail. Great. Fantastic. Our society has tremendous need for ditch diggers so really it's just fine if they fail. A few years on a road crew will do wonders for their desire to do better. Unless they get hit by a bus, then the problem is self solving. But no, Susan has a "better" idea...
We want young people to become independent and capable, yet we structure their days to the minute and give them few opportunities to do anything but answer multiple-choice questions, follow instructions and memorize information. We cast social interaction as an impediment to learning, yet all evidence points to the huge role it plays in their psychological development. That’s why we need to rethink the very nature of high school itself. I recently followed a group of eight public high school students, aged 15 to 17, in western Massachusetts as they designed and ran their own school within a school. They represented the usual range: two were close to dropping out before they started the project, while others were honors students. They named their school the Independent Project. Their guidance counselor was their adviser, consulting with them when the group flagged in energy or encountered an obstacle. Though they sought advice from English, math and science teachers, they were responsible for monitoring one another’s work and giving one another feedback. There were no grades, but at the end of the semester, the students wrote evaluations of their classmates.
So logically if there are no grades then no one can fail right? If the kids set the curriculum and standards then clearly they won't set themselves up to fail right? On the other hand how is this success?
During the first half, they formulated and then answered questions about the natural and social world, including “Are the plant cells at the bottom of a nearby mountain different than those at the top of the mountain?” and “Why we do we cry?” They not only critiqued one another’s queries, but also the answers they came up with...
Fan-fucking-tastic. And these skills help them with careers (other than in politics) how? They don't. That's not education, that's entertainment. Further it's doubtful that any of the students actually had the skills or the background to answer their own questions, other than with random musings. I note that while she says these questions were posed, books were recommended, problems created there is a gaping silence as to the work that was actually done, or scientifically correct answers provided. Wonderful, it's superb that these kids can spend their communities tax dollars on fanciful studies but tell me Sue, how did they do on the Massachusetts standardized testing, the MCAS? Susan is a dolt but it's in keeping with her character as author of a book entitled "Red Flags or Red Herrings: Predicting Who Your Child Will Become." Her piece, however, provides a public service. Stay the hell out of New Marlborough, Massachusetts if you want your child to have a good education. And. If your child is failing school either buy them a shovel now and send them out to the back yard or kick their ass and make them study. Either way they will learn genuine life lessons that will do them some good, and not breed a generation of welfare bloodsuckers who believe that the rules should be changed just for them.
Mar/14
2011
The day got shorter. Japan got wider. The Pacific Ocean got smaller. All due to the earthquake. For those of you who thought that the only changes happened in Japan, think the fuck again.
The magnitude-8.9 earthquake that struck northern Japan on Friday not only violently shook the ground and generated a devastating tsunami, it also moved the coastline and changed the balance of the planet.[..] Japan is “wider than it was before,” said Ross Stein, a geophysicist at the United States Geological Survey. Meanwhile, NASA scientists calculated that the redistribution of mass by the earthquake might have shortened the day by a couple of millionths of a second and tilted the Earth’s axis slightly.
For those that insist on thinking of themselves as living an insular life, untouched by the calamities happening in other nations, let this be a reminder that we are all human, all living on the same planet and that our brotherhood does not stop at arbitrary boundaries. It stops at the point at which we delineate Earth from Space.
Mar/14
2011
States are desperate and in their desperation they're willing to sacrifice long-term income for a quick buck. Take Texas for example...
“We play by the same rules as other retailers, as the national chains collect online only for states where they have physical stores,” Paul Misener, Amazon’s vice president for public policy, said in a statement. Meanwhile, last fall, Texas officials sent Amazon a tax bill for $269 million, after determining that the retailer’s Dallas-area warehouse, owned by a subsidiary, qualified as a local address under state tax rules. Amazon had argued for years that without stores and offices in the state, it had no obligation to collect sales tax there. The dispute is to be decided in a coming administrative hearing. In retaliation for Texas’s move, Amazon said last month that it would close the warehouse next month and cancel plans to build another.
I have to agree with Amazon, it's fucking sleazy as hell to demand millions in taxes because you have a warehouse, not a store, in the state. Texas is full of shit, and now they don't have their tax dollars, they don't have a warehouse and it won't have any future business from Amazon. Stupid? Yep. Blisteringly so. I know states are broke and desperate for ideas but they have to work within the laws. Making shit up as you go along will only drive businesses overseas or over the border. Small minded, small dicked, money grubbing retards are only trying to stop the gap for today, not solve the problem for good.
Mar/14
2011
It's been there since I started using the bathroom: an unusual set of stains that "adorn" the wall of the bathroom stall. When I use the term "unusual" think textured, think brown, think of a pattern about as wide and long as your outstretched hand. And while you're thinking about all that, imagine also that this decor is also less than a foot away, maybe less than eight inches even. I know the bathroom gets swabbed from time to time because they block off the entrance with a cart and you have to go elsewhere, in a hurry, to answer the call so to speak. Annoying, especially since the stairs aren't very close. Nevertheless somehow, even if the floors are mopped, the sinks polished, the toilets brushed this stain, or myriad of organic deposits, somehow persists... unwiped. Frankly I don't want to know its origin I only hope that someday, before it's been there long enough to have a name and refugee status through Amnesty, that it gets expunged from this dimension. Ffs! How do they keep missing and do I really need to stick a Post-it on the wall with a big fucking arrow saying "CLEAN ME"?!?!?!