Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Global Warming Helped Cause The Syrian Civil War. And Here I Thought It Was All Bush's Fault - What I am reading 3/3/2015

Boing Boing - Hillary Clinton exclusively used private email while secretary of state -
Open government advocates blasted the Bush administration for using off-the-books email accounts to conduct official business, so it's only fair Hillary Clinton today finds herself in deep shit after the revelation she exclusively used a private email account while serving as secretary of state.
Predictably the same group that wanted Karl Rove staked out on an anthill for using private e-mail accounts are perfectly willing to give Clinton a pass.
I wonder if this is just one of those cases where someone stubbornly clings to the email address they've been using since they first went online even when their employer tries to get them to use a new one.

My guess is "hillaryrodham@aol.com".
Context - Thanks for the Memories: Identifying Malware from a Memory Capture -
In this blog post we lay out a real-life examination of computer memory which enabled us to identify a keylogger that was running, what files were responsible for running it, and how it managed to ensure it was started every time the machine booted up. Not only did this provide us with previously unknown indicators of compromise, but also specific details with which we could assist the client in their remediation efforts.
Very interesting process and a little scary considering how easy they make this seem. If they can do this with Malware they can do it to find anything.

The Verge - The Breakfast Club gets a remastered theatrical release for its 30th birthday -
The Breakfast Club is getting restored and remastered, marking 30 years since the John Hughes classic put five very different high school archetypes — a brain, a beauty, a jock, a rebel and a recluse — in detention to teach them about friendship and other feelings.
Bleh, I can't think of a John Hughes film I like less than this one.  They should have redone Sixteen Candles.

Wired - How Global Warming Helped Cause the Syrian War -
The drought didn’t cause the violence—it just made Syria susceptible. But what’s more important here is that the drought, Kelley found, was severe likely because of human-caused global warming. It’s behind the drop in precipitation researchers have seen since 1930, the beginning of the data record.
Global warming is also responsible for the small size of your penis and male pattern baldness.  Just saying...

Finally - This may well be the worst song I have ever encountered.  The video is pretty bad too -

Monday, March 02, 2015

Politicians lie? Who would have guessed? - What I am reading 3/2/2015

When Obama first started making the claim that the crude oil in the Keystone pipeline would bypass the United States, we wavered between Three and Four Pinocchios — and strongly suggested he take the time to review the State Department report.
Clearly, the report remains unread.
The president’s latest remarks pushes this assertion into the Four Pinocchios column. If he disagrees with the State Department’s findings, he should begin to make the case why it is wrong, rather than assert the opposite, without any factual basis. 

hard to get too upset about this since it is par for the course. 

The Register - C'mon! Greece isn't really bust and it can pay its debts:  Not that anyone will be willing to admit it -

For it was largely cleaned up in the two previous bailouts the government has had over that very same debt. In the first one, the private sector bondholders got shafted to the tune of 70 per cent of their holdings and told to take much longer dated paper for the remainder. In the second, most of the remaining debt went to the balance sheets of the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the other Eurozone governments: and maturities and interest rates were changed once again.
The important point is that debt has nothing at all to do with the total amount that is owed. Rather, the two important things are: when do you have to pay it back and what is the interest rate until you do? So, we can look at the total debt burden, note that it's 175 per cent of GDP (anything above 120 per cent is normally thought of as being impossible to pay back) and say: "Sure, they're being screwed by that burden." But the maturities on most of it are out at 30 and 40 years. They've had an interest holiday for most of a decade and rates are in the one and two per cent range anyway.
It's a little like that benefits chaser being told to pay a court fine at £1 a week for the next 172 years. Sure, the total debt is vast compared to their income. But the effect of the debt upon their income ain't
Obviously since this article agrees with me it must be correct.  Especially the part about Qunatitative Easing:

We've also had much the same in reverse these past six years. Monetary policy has been, in the eurozone, absurdly tight. For at least some countries that is. It was Milton Friedman (with Anna Schwartz, in Monetary History of the United States) who got it right about what the Fed had done in the Great Depression.
No, the Depression wasn't a result of the Crash of '29. Rather, it was a result of the Fed allowing the money supply to collapse following that. This is now the accepted wisdom, to the point that Ben Bernanke actually announced, in a speech, to the ghost of Friedman: “Milton, you were right. We got it wrong and we're not going to do so again.”
And thus all that quantitative easing and unconventional monetary policy that has been going on.
And the results bear it out too: the UK, US, the other places that have been doing QE have had a hard time of it, but it has been a bad recession, not a depression. Those places that have not had QE, ie the eurozone, have been shafted. 

 Just saying.

Yeah I know short one today, but I am trying to get back to daily postings.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Racism? You decide

Not my ordinary style of book but I really enjoyed it - "The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win"

I didn't feel like reading any of the books on my currently reading list and "The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win" was in my Kindle queue (probably bought it off this CISO reading list and forgot about it.  I do that)  Anyway, even though I don't normally read business books, this one was really interesting, both in format and in content.

Format - Basically the book is structured as a novel in which the protagonist is the VP of IT Operations at a large manufacturing company.  He takes over during the midst of a major application development and deployment cycle and quickly discovers that his department is both falling apart and taking the rest of the company with it.  Through a series of conversations with a mysterious stranger and a series of events in which he tries various solutions gradually he resolves the departments issues and becomes instrumental in returning the company to profitably, and incidentally vanquishing the beautiful, but evil, blonde female (probably a Nazi) VP of Marketing, Ilsa Sarah.

This isn't totally original, structurally I would say it's similar to The Defense of Duffer's Drift, Armor Attacks , or State of Fear in that there is a discussion among the characters of some sort of problem and lo and behold an opportunity to apply the knowledge gained presents itself.  Basically if you went thru school in the 60s or 70s you recognize this.  It's programmed instruction, but it is the first time I have seen the technique used in this particular context.

Content - Here I am not talking so much about the actual story, I pretty much covered that above, but about the business processes that make up the background to the story.  There are lots of books out there about things like Six Sigma, Lean Manufacturing, Sarbanes-Oxley, and ITIL and frankly they are all boring.  What this book manages to do is both tie them together in a way which provides a basic primer, and shows how they realte to IT operations, and does so in a way that it's actually fairly enjoyable to read.

None of the topics are covered in depth, with enough depth that you can gain an appreciation of them and some guidance on how to pursue them further.

Honestly I never thought I would be considering buying a book on Kanban boards but know I am suddenly interested in them, I guess you could say that makes this book successful.

Conclusion - If you work in IT buy the book and read it.  You will probably get something out of it and if you buy it from one of my links I get something like $0.08.

Interview questions for network engineers

A few months back I came across a site that listed the skills and courses that Google considers important on the road to becoming a software engineer - Google Careers Guide For Technical Development.  This morning I stumbled across it again as I was cleaning out my bookmarks (I really don't need to save that link to Chelsea Manning trying to justify her decision to dump a billion documents to Wikileaks) and thought I would do a quick search to see if anyone had put together anything similar for network engineers.

Alas no.  At least not that I found in my 30 seconds of furious googling, but I did find a site called Router-Freak which has a quite a few interesting articles, among them - Interview Questions for Network Engineers:

We get to the technical side now... here is our list of 20 Network Engineer Interview Questions:
  1. What is the subnet mask
  2. ...
  3. ...
  4. In EIGRP, what is a Stuck in Active route?
  5. ...
  6. Which internal routing protocol would use if you needed to route between Cisco and non-Cisco equipment?
  7. Explain what a 3-way handshake is in TCP?
  8. ...
  9. ...
  10. ...
  11. ...
  12. ...
  13. ...
  14. ...
  15. ...
  16. What is HSRP?  Is this an open standard?
  17. ...
  18. ...
  19. In IPSec VPNs, what is diffie hellman?  What is it used for?
  20. ...
(I didn't want to steal all their work so I commented most of the questions out.  They didn't do that to get you to pay or something.  It's all me)
It's no 7 of 9 Lectures on OSPF ( +Jeri Ryan  is eventually going to get tired of these references and sue us all, but you can work them into everything.) or Britney Spears Guide to Semiconductor Physics but I find the site sufficiently worthy to be included in my RSS feeds.

Friday, February 27, 2015

A minor victory

Tomorrow I will have gone a whole month without French Fries.  If you ever eat fast food you know how tough they make it to do that.  With that in mind Suck It McDonalds, and Wendy's, and Red Robin, etc. ...

I have done pizza free months an few times.  Maybe next month I will try a month without Chili.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Greenhouse Gases Caught In the Act and Google Is Still The Real Enemy Of Net Neutrality- What I am reading 2/26/2015

Daniel Feldman, a senior scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, along with other physicists and engineers at the lab and at UC Berkeley, reported Wednesday in the journal Nature on their findings about “radiative forcing”
In effect, their instruments measured the amount of infrared heat radiation coming down to the Earth’s surface from the sun, and the amount of heat radiation the Earth emits back up. And when the UC scientists examined their data from 2000 to 2010, they found that some of the heat from Earth was being blocked by carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and were able to calculate how much of that blocked heat was warming the planet.
I posted this last night in a couple places.  Predictably it was roundly mocked by most of my conservative friends.  I, myself, (is that a phrase?) believe this deserves  some serious attention, because as far as I know this is the first actual large scale measurement of radiative forcing.  It also dovetails in with my own opinion on climate change -

1.  The climate is changing.
2.  Climate is an extremely complicated system that is very hard to measure.
3.  Because the climactic system is so complicated changes in one area (i.e. Increasing the surface temperature of the Pacific) can have other unpredictable consequences (i.e. snowfall in Miami)
4.  Fourier was a mega-genius and that alone should give us pause before dismissing the idea of Climate Change.
5.  Having accepted the idea of Climate Change there are now two questions to be answered
     a.  How much do Humans contribute to the mechanism of change?
          1.  Answer - I don't know.  Gut feeling - some but not as much as guys like Mann and Gore would have us believe.
     b.  Do I care?
          1.  Answer - not really.  Two reasons for this - 
               a.  Again, I am not sure how much of a direct cause humans are having on this process.  I don't believe in completely redoing our economic lives if in the end it makes no difference.
               b.  Humans are masters of overcoming their environment - so even if the worst predictions come true we will over come.  I have joked about this before but in the end it's true.  If we really want to counter act global warming we could set off a couple nukes in Siberia and drop the temperature over night.  This is not an insurmountable problem.
6.  What do we do?
     a.  Gather some more actual measurable, repeatable data.  Make some informed decisions instead of just guessing what will work.

There you go the Chad Climate Plan.  I swear I should be a politician.   

Really in general I am far more concerned about the oceans than the atmosphere (I know I shouldn't have watched so much SeaQuest DSV).  Ocean acidification is a growing problem, as is fishery depletion and growing dead zones.  I don't know what to do about the first, but the second can be handled through economic means and I think fish farming has a great undeveloped potential.  As for the third - Giant Drills that slowly cause a water exchange and increases oxygenation.  

(Obviously these are rough thoughts and since I am a moron they would require a lot of polishing, but my point is these problems can be overcome)

Ars Technica - Surveillance-based manipulation: How Facebook or Google could tilt elections -

The potential for manipulation here is enormous. Here’s one example. During the 2012 election, Facebook users had the opportunity to post an “I Voted” icon, much like the real stickers many of us get at polling places after voting. There is a documented bandwagon effect with respect to voting; you are more likely to vote if you believe your friends are voting, too. This manipulation had the effect of increasing voter turnout 0.4% nationwide. So far, so good. But now imagine if Facebook manipulated the visibility of the “I Voted” icon based on either party affiliation or some decent proxy of it: ZIP code of residence, blogs linked to, URLs liked, and so on. It didn’t, but if it did, it would have had the effect of increasing voter turnout in one direction. It would be hard to detect, and it wouldn’t even be illegal. Facebook could easily tilt a close election by selectively manipulating what posts its users see. Google might do something similar with its search results.
A truly sinister social networking platform could manipulate public opinion even more effectively. By amplifying the voices of people it agrees with, and dampening those of people it disagrees with, it could profoundly distort public discourse. China does this with its 50 Cent Party: people hired by the government to post comments on social networking sites supporting, and challenge comments opposing, party positions. Samsung has done much the same thing.
Dovetails nicely with what I was saying yesterday.  To be clear, I don't really believe Google is engaging in some nefarious plot.  I am just making the point that all this argument about the "Open Internet" really misses the point about where the real potential dangers lie.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Real Threat to Net Neutrality is Google - What I am reading - 2/25/2015

Been awhile since I have done one of these.  Blame a lack of time combined with lack of anything I found interesting enough to write about, but I have a little time this morning so...

Ars Technica - How leaky is shale gas production? -
Around the Haynesville in Texas and Louisiana, they estimated leakage at 1.0 to 2.1 percent of production. Leakage in the Fayetteville region in Arkansas was similar, between 1.0 and 2.8 percent. (A 2008 Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality report also estimated leakage at 2.0 percent.)  And in northeast Pennsylvania, leakage from Marcellus production was well under one percent (0.18-0.41 percent).
Averaged together, the estimated leakage is 1.1 percent, in close agreement with the EPA’s estimates.
Good news - unless you are one of the belligerently anti-fracking crowd.  Too be far this is a follow-up on a study conducted at 3 smaller, older, less technically advanced sites, where the rates of leakage were found to be higher.  That itself was a follow-up on a study which found rates consistent with this one.

Wired - The Rise and Fall of RedBook, the Site That Sex Workers Couldn’t Live Without -
Until last summer, pretty much anyone buying or selling sex in the San Francisco Bay Area used myRedBook.com. For more than a decade, the site commonly referred to as RedBook served as a vast catalog of carnal services, a mashup of Craigslist, Yelp, and Usenet where sex workers and hundreds of thousands of their customers could connect, converse, and make arrangements for commercial sex. RedBook tapped into the persistent, age-old, bottomless appetite for prostitution and made it safer and more civilized. The site was efficient, well stocked, and probably too successful for its own good.
Not much to say really.  I guess you can't be surprised that a site that caters to an illegal trade gets shut down.  I guess the question is did it do more harm than good? 

The Verge - Gemalto denies 'massive' SIM breach, says 3G and 4G networks unaffected  -

Today, Gemalto presented the findings of its investigations into the alleged hackings. While the manufacturer says it has reasonable grounds to believe that an operation by NSA and GCHQ "probably happened," the company claims that the attacks only breached its office networks, and "could not have resulted in a massive theft of SIM encryption keys."
The Intercept's report focuses on Gemalto as the source of what it calls "massive key theft," but the company says that it was one of several parties targeted by GCHQ and the NSA for the collection of SIM data. "Gemalto has never sold SIM cards to four of the twelve operators listed in the documents," it says, making specific reference to a Somali carrier it has never done business with from whom 300,000 keys were reportedly stolen. Another document showed a list of personalization centers in Japan, Colombia, and Italy — countries in which Gemalto says it had no such centers at the time.

I keep telling you guys that Greenwald and Co. are just making shit up, but no one will listen.

Pando Daily - Silicon Valley’s War on Sex continues as Google bans adult blogs -

Now, Google is taking its anti-sex stance even further by banning public blogs hosted on its Blogger platform that feature “sexually explicit or graphic nude images or video.” These bloggers have one month to remove the offending content or else Google will automatically list these blogs as “private” — meaning they will only be visible to their owners and individuals that have been granted explicit permission by the owner to view.
As Pando’s Mark Ames wrote of Google, “Never in history has one corporation and one source had so much power over what we know and don’t know.” In the past year, Google has blocked adult ads and announced a ban on adult blogs. How long before it de-indexes pornographic sites from search altogether?
And this is the argument I keep making about the cloud.  Once you use someone else's service to store your data / host your site / whatever, it ceases be yours.  In this case it is people who like to look at naked pictures being offended but how long until Google starts marking sites that contain climate change skepticism as private, or pro - GOP / pro Tea Party sites.  Or maybe Google is really really against gay marriage so pro Gay Marriage sites start dropping in search rankings.  See my point. The biggest threat to real Net Neutrality (defined as equal access to content) is Google and it's arbitrary power to control what you see. They are the ones who should be regulated like a utility.  

On the other hand what I see here is OPPORTUNITY.  Google has fled the market.  The person who can get in there first with a decent offering is bound to make a lot of money.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Reading List Updated

Since one of the voices in my head actually cares what I am reading, I have updated my reading list. I finished the Warriors, so it's removed, and in it's place added Capital in the 21st Century, which I received for Christmas and haven't started yet.

OK, Who Snuck The Camera Into My Apartment