Friday, 11 August 2006
Fly in and out of enough airports and you'll end up dazed and confused. After flying something like a zillion miles so far this year and transiting who knows how many gates at how many airports, combined with the fact that Arizona has a history of operating on it's own unique clock like a separatist nation... Well anyhow I got to Phoenix (at least I know where I am) and realized I have no idea what time it it here. I am also too lazy to get up and find a clock (a device you'd think you'd find in abundance, but which is actually desperately missing from almost every airport).
So, Google to the rescue. Did you know Google will tell you what time it is anywhere you like? Just ask:
What time is it in Phoenix, AZ?
There ya go - It's not just about keyword search!
My name is Greg, and I am a workaholic. It's been two years since my last escape vacation.
By vacation, I mean taking a trip to get completely away and check completely out of my world. One that does not include work travel on one end or the other (that's more like work plus a side trip, doesn't really count for decompression time). So, now I'm in the Portland International airport, on my way to Minnesota (by way of Phoenix, because that costs a lot less than flying direct, and how exactly does that work by the way?) where my friend Cory will pick me up and we will go north to The Middle of Nowhere, which is where he lives, almost. The airport is running like a finely tuned watch, by the way. When you consider the happenings of yesterday and the resulting increased security measures, it's good to see things moving and that people are not getting stupid or scared or otherwise freaking out.
Anyhow - vacation. Yeah.
We're spending about a week in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness doing some fishing (that with an"F" not a "Ph" - like I said, no work). I have never been there, but I am told it's amazing and have always wanted to go. The fishing should be fun:
"The Canadian Shield lakes of the border waters gives an angler a wide variety of fishing opportunities. Fishing experts attest to the fact that the smallmouth bass fishing can't be matched anywhere. The deep cold lakes are home to the lake trout. Every lake has northern pike waiting to give you a battle while walleyes are sitting on the reefs ready to fill your frying pan . Don't overlook the slab-sized panfish. Spring and fall fishing is usually the best, although because there is very little fishing pressure on most of the lakes, fish can be caught at any time."
Most of all I am looking forward to catching up with my friend and spending a week resting the brain. See ya when I get back. Meanwhile you can just be jealous or feel good for me, whichever your personality supports, heh:
Located in Northeastern Minnesota, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA) includes around a million acres of wilderness, with over 1,000 pristine lakes and streams, and over 1,500 miles of canoe routes. It is considered by some as the most beautiful wilderness they have ever seen. National Geographic named it one of 50 Destinations of a Lifetime. In other words, a vacation you do not want to miss.
The BWCA is a true wilderness experience, without motors, no electricity, no telephone lines, and no roads to the inner lakes. Summer and Fall are wonderful times to visit the Boundary Waters and its surrounding award winning resort communities of Ely, Gunflint, Grand Marais, Isabella/Finland, and Crane Lake.
Thursday, 10 August 2006
Don't think terrorism isn't ever coming back to our shores. As many as 20 aircraft were to be targeted for bombing in a plot in the UK. Sky News is just now reporting that an "alleged plan involved people boarding flights and detonating explosives on planes over UK and US cities" and that "the threat was imminent." The security level in the UK has been raised to "critical" and flying onto and out of the UK is definitely impacted. "This will mean immediate and severe disruption at all UK airports," officials are saying on TV.
20 people have been arrested in London. British officials are stating that this would have been bigger than 9-11.
I for one am glad there are good people out there thwarting these kinds of plans. Thank God for them.
Wednesday, 09 August 2006
Proof that cyber-crime is real, Consumer Reports is out with their State of the Net survey. It's pretty much as bad as we all know. From MSNBC:
"...American consumers lost more than $8 billion over the last two years to viruses, spyware and various schemes.
" Additionally, it shows consumers face a 1-in-3 chance of becoming a cybervictim -about the same as last year."
Thing is, prevention is much less costly than reactively paying for damage already done. You want to prevent the guy from getting into your place? Or do you prefer to let him in but then keep him from walking out the door with your money? Or are you like most people, who are resigned to watching him walk out the door with the prize, throwing your hands up in the air, and blaming someone (anyone, really) else?
How do we convince people, and what will it take?
Tuesday, 08 August 2006
Commenting on his motorcycle helmet, a friend of mine incriminates himself. Name changed to protect the innocent. Only 80?? Heh.
Joe Smith says:
I got rid of that halo thing I had on my helmet and put on retro reflective vinyl stickers
Greg Hughes says:
Joe Smith says:
It didn't stay on above 80
Greg Hughes says:
Greg Hughes says:
maybe you should put it back on then?
Greg Hughes says:
Joe Smith says:
Joe Smith says:and 80 is where it started to come off
Monday, 07 August 2006
UPDATE - AOL apologizes
(not as if it makes a difference at this point, though):
"This was a screw-up, and we're angry and upset about it. It was an innocent enough attempt to reach out to the academic community with new research tools, but it was obviously not appropriately vetted, and if it had been, it would have been stopped in an instant," AOL, a unit of Time Warner, said in a statement. "Although there was no personally identifiable data linked to these accounts, we're absolutely not defending this. It was a mistake, and we apologize. We've launched an internal investigation into what happened, and we are taking steps to ensure that this type of thing never happens again."
AOL, over on their research wiki site, on Sunday posted an article describing their release of search data collected for more than a half million AOL users over a three month period. They claimed the data was made "anonymous," and that it was being released for research reasons. Problem is, it's not anonymous enough. Each unique user was replaced with a unique random identifier. That means you can see everything that user 336072 searched for. What if someone examined everything you searched for over three months? Even without knowing your name explicitly, do you think they might be able to find out some interesting things? Have you ever done a "vanity" search?
It's just not anonymous enough. I have a copy of the data that I downloaded before it was taken offline, and I've poked around in it a bit, so I know. Not only that, but spammers and search engine "optimizers" out there are going to have a field-freakin-day with this data. No, I won't share it with anyone else. It never should have been released in the first place, so I am not going to add fuel to the fire.
Michael Arrington at TechCrunch wrote about it in his blog entry entitled "AOL Proudly Releases Massive Amounts of Private Data," and updated his post a couple times as AOL mysteriously removed the data file from the web, as well as the page announcing the availability.
Arrington: "AOL must have missed the uproar over the DOJ's demand for "anonymized" search data last year that caused all sorts of pain for Microsoft and Google. That's the only way to explain their release of data that includes 20 million web queries from 650,000 AOL users."
When you consider that AOL search is - get this one - actually Google's search with a different face on it, you can imagine what the emails and phone calls that went flying around between the two companies on Sunday afternoon might have sounded like. Ouch.
Yeah, and so much for the privacy of AOL's users. If you're an AOL user, is that what you signed up for, to be a guinea pig in AOL's poorly-planned foray into academia? I think not. This is identity theft just waiting to happen, that's what this is. Again from Arrington:
"The data includes personal names, addresses, social security numbers and everything else someone might type into a search box. The most serious problem is the fact that many people often search on their own name, or those of their friends and family, to see what information is available about them on the net. Combine these ego searches with porn queries and you have a serious embarrassment. Combine them with "buy ecstasy" and you have evidence of a crime. Combine it with an address, social security number, etc., and you have an identity theft waiting to happen. The possibilities are endless. "
Google says "do no evil" and keeps this kind of data under wraps when challenged in federal court. AOL? Not so much.
Any would-be AOL boycotters better be prepared, though. Last we checked, you can't even cancel your account at AOL without being put through the ringer. Several years ago when I canceled mine it was a several-months-long experience before I was able to decipher enough to get the billing truly stopped. Coming and going, that's how they get ya in Dulles... There's a reason PC Magazine ranked AOL "Number One" in a list of things you'd really rather not be on...
Saturday, 05 August 2006
The U.S. Senate on Thursday ratified the first and only international treaty designed exclusively to combat computer crime. You can read the full text of the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime here.
What does this mean? Well, a lot of things. But all told, it means law enforcement officials from around the world will have a more agile, speedier, and more capable framework for cooperating in combating bad guys that are out to hurt others on the Internet. For those of us working to stop bad guys, it makes doing so more possible and can help remove some barriers that tend to get in the way. For those of us in the United States, the provisions are not really anything new. But for other countries that ratify, it means a much enhanced ability to work together.
The Senate did not consider an optional provision of the convention that deals with combating Internet hate speech, which would likely have run afoul of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Summary of the Senate activity is in an article at news.com.
A new spoof video on YouTube take a different direction (as in, levity used to make a point rather than get a laugh) on making fun of the Apple marketing TV campaign and, well... just watch it. Not sure how accurate it is (but I bet someone will research this and let me know).
"That's iLife!" OUCH...
Click to watch:
Friday, 04 August 2006
There are a couple interesting security-related headlines on ZDNet this morning, coming out of the Black Hat event. The first discusses how Microsoft's handing out a beta version of Vista to Black Hat attendees and says their security testing of Vista is the largest commercial penetration vulnerability test in history. In the other article, SPI Dynamics points out that many potential threats and gaps exist today in the use and consumption of RSS and ATOM feeds, and that many feed readers don't do security checks to ensure a feed is not malicious before - for example - running script that is delivered in an entry. A large number of common feed aggregators/readers (including the one I use) are on the list. This is something for the authors of those programs to address, for sure.
Microsoft issues Vista challenge
News Focus: Software giant wins over the Black Hat crowd by stressing its commitment to Vista security--and asking for help.
Blog feeds may carry security risk
Thursday, 03 August 2006
I just downloaded and installed Zoundry's Blog Writer over lunch, a free and ultra-feature-filled blog editor. This thing is slick! I am writing this post with the new editor.
I think I found my new blog editing app that I have been dreaming of for so long. At least it's going to get a real trial run. I have fought with Rocketpost so many times (it has never worked for me, and the authors don't seem to answer email anymore), and while I love BlogJet, the feature set in Zoundry is pretty incredible.
I'll write more about it tonight, after I get a chance to play around with it some more.
UPDATE: I am having a hard time getting the app to play nicely with my web hosts's FTP. Seems to upload image files, but the "test" mechanism says it does not work correctly, which is kind of strange. I have filed a post on the support forums, we'll see how that goes. I can upload images, as witnessed at right...
UPDATE AGAIN: One super cool feature I noticed was that Zoundry totally used the newly-implemented blog autodiscovery calabilities that have recently been baked into dasBlog by Omar. None of the old manually setting up and remembering the URL for the blogger API or any of that stuff. Nice!!
© Copyright 2006 Greg Hughes
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"Computers used to take up entire buildings, now they just take up our entire lives."
"So how do you know what is the right path to choose to get the result that you desire? And the honest answer is this... You won't. And accepting that greatly eases the anxiety of your life experience."
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