Wednesday, July 30, 2014

What I am reading 7/30/2014 - Dr. Evil goes corporate

Wired - Will All Those People Tweeting About Batman v Superman Go See It? -

Speaking only for myself - No!!.  Superman is a highly overrrated character and Batman has been done to death so I have no real desire to see the movie (just as I had no desire to see the latest Spiderman reboots).  Gal Godot in that Wonder Woman costume almost changes my mind, but not quite.

Register - Cisco says network virtualisation won't pay off everywhere -

Cisco and VMware used to be the best of pals and are still happy to be seen in public together when discussing the VCE joint venture or the NetApp/Cisco/VMware Flexpod stack-in-a-box/reference architecture.
Behind the scenes, The Reg understands each considers the other an enemy when it comes to network virtualisation. Cisco must know that by pointing out that server virtualisation created some messes it is spreading FUD-by-association in the direction of VMware's NSX network virtualisation efforts. ®
I hope Cisco is right.  My job depends on many helper monkeys, such as myself, being required to maintain the network.  

Foreign Policy - The NSA's Cyber-King Goes Corporate -

The fact that Alexander is building what he believes is a new kind of technology for countering hackers hasn't been previously reported. And it helps to explain why he feels confident in charging banks, trade associations, and large corporations millions of dollars a year to keep their networks safe. Alexander said he'll file at least nine patents, and possibly more, for a system to detect so-called advanced persistent threats, or hackers who clandestinely burrow into a computer network in order to steal secrets or damage the network itself. It was those kinds of hackers who Alexander, when he was running the NSA, said were responsible for "the greatest transfer of wealth in American history" because they were routinely stealing trade secrets and competitive information from U.S. companies and giving it to their competitors, often in China.
Cue exploding heads... Now!

Krebs on Security - Hackers Plundered Israeli Defense Firms that Built ‘Iron Dome’ Missile Defense System -
Three Israeli defense contractors responsible for building the “Iron Dome” missile shield currently protecting Israel from a barrage of rocket attacks were compromised by hackers and robbed of huge quantities of sensitive documents pertaining to the shield technology, KrebsOnSecurity has learned.
Obviously they should have hired Dr. Evil General Alexander to protect their secrets.  On the serious side, of course it was the Chinese.  Any guesses why?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

What I am reading 7/27/2014

Books -

Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins of the Internet - I think the title kind of says it all.  THe Politics behind the formation of DARPA and it's early investment in computer technology is pretty interesting.

Recruit (The United Federation Marine Corps Book 1) - Pretty standard fare.  Recruit from extremely humble background joins the military in order to improve his lot in life.  Unable to join the higher prestige Navy or Legion he instead joins the materially poor, but rich in spirit, Marines.  At first aloof and somewhat isolated in Boot Camp he grows to see the wisdom of his DIs and does something unspeakable heroic to earn their respect.  He then goes to his unit out in the fleet where he does something else heroic, but has rekindled doubts about fitting in.  Reuniting with his Senior DI he does yet another incredibly heroic thing.  As a reward he visits home and realizes that the Corps is now his true home and re-enlists.  The story itself isn't that bad, but the writing is clunky as hell; still if you are just looking for an easy read to throw on the Kindle you could do worse.

Press Gang! -  See the review for recruit.  It's pretty much the same thing, only instead of joining the Marines the heroic is viciously beaten and forced in, just like the press gangs of the 18th and 19th century.  Just a guess but that's probably where the title comes from.

Speaking of cheesy Military Sci-Fi - I see that The Helmsman has been released in Kindle version.  I reviewed this book a couple years ago - here.

Articles -

NY Times - Army War College Starts Plagiarism Inquiry of Senator John Walsh’s Thesis and Plagiarism Scandal Tests a Senator Still Forming a Rapport With Montanans

Wired - How Hackers Hid a Money-Mining Botnet in the Clouds of Amazon and Others -

At the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas next month Ragan and Salazar plan to reveal how they built a botnet using only free trials and freemium accounts on online application-hosting services—the kind coders use for development and testing to avoid having to buy their own servers and storage. The hacker duo used an automated process to generate unique email addresses and sign up for those free accounts en masse, assembling a cloud-based botnet of around a thousand computers.
That online zombie horde was capable of launching coordinated cyberattacks, cracking passwords, or mining hundreds of dollars a day worth of cryptocurrency. And by assembling that botnet from cloud accounts rather than hijacked computers, Ragan and Salazar believe their creation may have even been legal.

Not to be dense but isn't this the exact purpose of services like AWS?  Not the cyberattacks obviously but the distributed computing.  I guess I don't understand why this is that big a deal.

Endgadget - Filmmaker Ridley Scott is tackling a Phillip K. Dick project for Amazon -

The Man in the High Castle.

Medium - We All Got Trolled -

Supporters of Internet freedom rallied around weev before he went to prison. But now that the hacker is out, he’s douchier—and maybe scarier—than ever
Hey guys be happy, you got what you asked for

Quartz - I’ve worked at McDonald’s for 10 years and still make $7.35 an hour -

I don't know this woman and I don't know her situation, but at a certain point in time don't you have to ask yourself, "Why am I still working at McDonalds for minimum wage after 10 years?"

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Coming up on 10 years of blogging... a reflection

Still have (literally) two readers #futility

Not really, I mean I am of slightly less than average intelligence, for a retarded ape that is, but even I can see that I am never going to be a blogging superstar.  I only keep at it because I enjoy it.  #becauseitfeelsgoodwhenIstopbangingmyheadagainstthewall

Seriously I do enjoy it and while I haven't been especially successful in this endeavor I have had moments - I have been linked twice by Instapundit, a few times by Ace of Spades (where I have also guest blogged a few times), some Rule 5 links by The Other McCain and I have been linked in the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post (at least the online editions). #braggingfornogoodreason

I have also been able to associate with other bloggers such as the guys at  Independent Sources (site is down) where we engaged in a couple epic battles with 9/11 Truthers and the group at DoublePlusUndead where we just mainly engaged in fun kind of over the top stuff. Also I was able to engage  in some email exchanges with Tom Kratman  and Dr. Jerry Pournelle that wouldn't have happened if I hadn't publsished something silly here. Always nice to be able to debate with the smart people. #namedropping

Other items of note - I believe I am still the go to site for Jana Defi pictures and Anna Semenovich videos and my proposal for modeling Ron Paul's Economic Theories occasionally pops up on the internet, usually as a case study in stupidity but still it's an achievement. #successisrelative

So why am I bringing this up - There are a couple reasons:

1.  It's been 10 years and that is an accomplishment.  I may not have any readers but I have staying power.
2.  It appears that Chris over at Carnifex may be hanging up his hat.  I think he started blogging around the same time I did so it got me thinking; Do I want to call it quits?  You guys couldn't get so lucky. I am having too much fun and if I wasn't here who would subject you (both of you) to Russian pop music videos and inane political commentary? #Heretostay

*Note - This blog only goes back to November 2004, thats because I initially started on another platform that immediately collapsed so I had to start all over :-(

What I am reading 7/26/2014

Ars Technica - The beauty of zipper merging, or why you should drive ruder -

It works as follows: in the event of an impending lane closure, drivers should fill in both lanes in equal measure. Within a few car lengths of a lane ending, both lanes' cars should take turns filling in the open lane and resuming full speed.
If roads are clear enough that everyone is already driving close to the speed limit, zipper merging isn't as effective, but in the case of congestion, Johnson said that this method reduces backups by a whopping 40 percent on average, since both lanes approach the merge with equal stake in maintaining speed. "When the queue backup is reduced, the access points behind a work zone, like signals or ways to get on and off the freeway, those aren’t blocked," Johnson pointed out. "People have a better opportunity to get off or on the system at that point.
So all my years of being a rude ass actually had a point - Woo Hoo!!!

Boing Boing - Summer Reading List: NonFiction -

Of Course it contains "Capital in the 21st Century" which is rapidly attaining the same status as Hayek's "The Road to Serfdom" or "Constitution of Liberty";  A book that a lot of people espouse as reflecting their ideas, but they haven't actually read.  (Full Disclosure - I haven't read Capitalism yet and am debating whether I will.  I am tempted to just so I can call bullshit on all the people who try and quote it but other than that it just doesn't seem that interesting).  Other books include:

No Place to Hide by Glenn Greenwald - Already made my thoughts clear on this one.

How to Cheat at Everything: A Con Man Reveals the Secrets of the Esoteric Trade of Cheating, Scams, and Hustles by Simon Lovell - could be a fun read.

Another little note on this selection of books - Given that it was compiled by Cory Doctrow I have to say that I am pleasantly surprised to see that he didn't try and squeeze his novels "Little Brother" and "Homeland" into the non-fiction category.

Endgadget - Ulysses is coming to life thanks to virtual reality -
It's such a challenging read, that a developer thought it best to create some sort of a virtual reality world based on the piece that can be accessed through an Oculus Rift headset. Irish filmmaker Eoghan Kidney has launched a crowdfunding campaign in hopes of raising €4,000 ($5,400) for the project.
 Yeah, first it's Ulysses and then it's teaching young women to lead a "mouse" army and disrupt the status quo.  

Gizmodo - World map created by plotting out each terrorist attack since 1970 -

Hacker News - Malcolm X on Learning to Read -

Ideas have power and if you can't convey or understand them, you cut yourself of from that power.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

What I am reading 7/22/2014 - It's not Manic Monday, It's not a Hazy Shade of Winter, It's Black Friday (dunh, dunh, dun duh)

Sploid - How the United States can collapse and fall on a Black Friday -
Our complex society is so fragile that a virus—spreading through cash and products sold during Black Friday—would bring it to its knees in a couple of days.
And since I mentioned them in the title of this post:

Ars Technica - Senate committee report excoriates Air Force for IT incompetence -

“The Air Force failed in its procurement of [ECSS]… because it lacked a clear objective and the organizational will to implement changes to its internal business processes vital to integrating ECSS into the organization,” the Senate investigators wrote in the report. “In doing so, the Air Force violated many crucial guidelines and best practices for information technology acquisition.”
The Air Force also failed to properly plan for the purchase of the system in advance. The program leaders only knew that they wanted to replace a collection of older systems with a new one; they had no real understanding of the functionality required to do that. In the original contract solicitation, the Air Force said that it wanted a system that was “truly ‘off-the-shelf’: unmodified and available to anyone.” But it also wanted a fully integrated system out of the box. What it got instead was three separate software products from Oracle and a collection of tools that a system integrator (Computer Sciences Corporation) could use to put them all together in the fashion the Air Force wanted.

Why did I know that Oracle's name would appear somewhere in conjunction with incompetence and failed Government IT projects?  Just Sayin'.

The Register - Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers -

Malware dubbed Mayhem is spreading through Linux and FreeBSD web servers, researchers say. The software nasty uses a grab bag of plugins to cause mischief, and infects systems that are not up to date with security patches.
What can you really say?  Nothing is safe.

Pando Daily - Homophobia, racism and the Kochs: San Francisco’s tech-libertarian “Reboot” conference is a cesspool -

I think you kind of get the gist of the article from the title.  I am going to go out on a limb here and say that Mark Ames and company don't like Libertarians or conservatives.  I am also going to suggest that he probably doesn't know any real libertarians or conservatives, and that he just operates of the self-reinforcing caricature that he and his buddies at Valleywag and Boing Boing spew out every chance they get.

Monday, July 21, 2014

What I am reading 7/21/2014

Ars Technica - Growth factor restores insulin response in diabetic mice -
 working with mice, researchers have found that a well-known growth factor also restores the body's sensitivity to insulin and does so without any of the side effects associated with existing drugs. And they show that a modified form of the growth factor can still work effectively while reducing the risk of unforeseen consequences. This doesn't mean that using this method as a treatment will be free of side effects, but it does provide a promising avenue for further experiments.
Suck it PETA.

Endgadget - Search engine turns the tables on hackers by exposing their info -
Want to see a textbook definition of irony? Look no further than Indexeus, a search engine that primarily exposes the info of malicious hackers caught up in the very sort of data breaches that they inflict on others. As it was originally structured, people had to "donate" $1 for every record they wanted to purge from the engine's index; in other words, they had to pay to avoid the wrath of their fellow thieves.  
Can you imagine the hell this site must go through on a daily basis?

Gizmodo - Watch NASA's Full TV Broadcast of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing Right Here

What can you say, it's history and it's interesting.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

What I am reading 7/20/2014 - Bad Bosses and Russian Hackers, Another Day In America

Gizmodo - Sure Your Job Sucks, But At Least Darth Vader's Not Your Boss -
the worst part isn't the force-strangling or lack of faith. It's having to work alongside the jerk and pretend like nothing ever happened.

Most of the bosses that I had who were like this were in the Navy so their behavior was moderated to an extent by the knowledge that if worse came to worse that I could always knock them out and sell them to some third world whorehouse for use with their more experimental clientele.  Not that such a thought ever crossed my mind and I certainly never blurted it out in the middle of a meeting where my Chief was rambling on and on about my many shortcomings.

GeekWire - My Uber got pulled over by the Denver police — and then things got really weird -

Same old, "Uber's great! Cabs Suck!" schtick.  

Bloomberg Business Week - How Russian Hackers Stole the Nasdaq -
In October 2010, a Federal Bureau of Investigation system monitoring U.S. Internet traffic picked up an alert. The signal was coming from Nasdaq (NDAQ). It looked like malware had snuck into the company’s central servers. There were indications that the intruder was not a kid somewhere, but the intelligence agency of another country. More troubling still: When the U.S. experts got a better look at the malware, they realized it was attack code, designed to cause damage.
There is no such thing as perfect security, but when you even ignore the basics, as it appears NASDAQ did, you are just asking for trouble.

Quartz - Putin is having trouble backing out of the corner in which he’s trapped himself -

Edward Lucas, of the Center for European Policy Analysis, suggests that the problem is the corner itself: even if he wanted to shift course, Putin has little room to maneuver after months of building a forceful domestic case—and his people into a frenzy—against outside enemies. He can’t back down from the brink, Lucas told Quartz in an email exchange. It would be “too humiliating now that he has demonized the West and Ukraine.”

OK, this is purely speculation and NOT related to any conversations I may or may not have had with friends who have been involved in Signals Intelligence both in the Marine Corps and in the Navy.  

Suppose you had a world leader who was being an ass - what do you do?  Sanctions, right?  And if sanctions don't work?   Well you can try military force, but in this case that isn't possible because a) The country that ass-leader is in charge of is a major power, and b) We don't have a President who can make a forceful enough case.  In that case maybe the NSA and CIA can help by - I don't know shooting down a passenger jet and making it look like the other guys did it.  

It wouldn't be that hard.  

The CIA is known to have stashes of Russian / Soviet weaponry, including tanks, artillery, anti-aircraft missles, etc.  The also have access to uniforms and expertise in placing people into positions infiltrate or act as nationals of other countries.  They also have a history of dirty trick operations like this.

Then we have the NSA.  Their job is Signals Intelligence, including disinformation.  So far all the evidence pointing at rebels or Russians has been intercepted conversations and some facebook posts, a system that the NSA is widely known to have compromised.  And whose is being asked to validate this evidence?  The NSA.

Again I am NOT saying this is anything but speculation, but possibly it bears consideration.

*If you haven't guessed yet, all the above NSA / CIA talk is complete BS.  If you seriously considered it for even a second, please re-evaluate your decision making style*