Monday, 04 October 2004

When it's light out, it's great... When it's dark out, it's... well... dark. If it gets cloudy... you get the point. Click the picture below for the full-size image.

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Mt. St. Helens | Random Stuff
Monday, 04 October 2004 22:18:36 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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The SpaceShipOne team did it - they left the Earth's atmosphere twice in a week, winning the Ansari X Prize, which required a privately funded team to put a space vehicle that can carry three people into space twice in a two-week period. View the video of the winning flight and previous flights.

NPR Audio report:

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Random Stuff | Tech
Monday, 04 October 2004 19:02:29 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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I arrived back in Portland yesterday afternoon, and was met by my mom at the airport because she happened to be in town. Great timing, since Mt. St. Helens is coughing up steam and stuff these days. We made some stops along the drive home to look at the mountain (there are lots of great viewpoints near where I live). This morning we watched the big steam venting out of the crater, and then we drove back to the airport for her flight home.

Image, click to enlargeIt looks like the volcano is getting ready for something bigger. I have tried to estimate my house's distance from the volcano, because people keep asking (I assume out of concern). It looks like I live somewhere between 40 and 45 miles from the volcano (I will map it out sometime soon). So, no fears - the worst thing that would happen here is ash fallout (which can be problematic if you breathe it or get it in your eyes, and it's nasty on car paint and windows). But the winds at the mountain are blowing directly away from here right now. If it's going to blow, I just hope it happens when I am home, so I can snap some pictures and watch. And, in true form, Dan Appleman (whom I met at the conference last week) has some funny observations on volcanoes and politics that will generate a laugh or two. (Image by USGS, click for more pictures, or for seismographic info from the Cascade Mountains)

USGS Update: Mount St. Helens Update 4 October 2004 7:00 P.M.

Current status is Volcano Alert (Alert Level 3); aviation color code RED

This morning visitors to Mount St. Helens witnessed a 40-minute-long steam-and-ash emission starting at 9:43 PDT. Steam clouds carrying minor ash billowed out of the crater to an altitude of 10,000 to perhaps 12,000 feet. The event did not generate earthquakes or an explosion signal. We infer that hot rock was pushed up into the glacier, melted ice, and generated the steam. Part of the vent for today’s and other steam and ash emissions of the past few days is now covered by a boiling lake. The emission occurred during a time of gradually increasing seismicity, which dropped slightly after the emission, but continued to increase gradually through the afternoon. Another period of smaller steam and ash bursts occurred between 2:10 and 2:40 P.M. Visual observations show that the area of uplift, which includes part of the glacier and a nearby segment of the south flank of the lava dome, continues to rise. We infer that magma is at a very shallow level and could soon be extruded into the vent or elsewhere in the deforming area. Additional steam and ash emissions are likely and could occur at any time without warning. Conditions suggest that there is also an increased probability of larger-magnitude and more ash-rich eruptions in coming days.

Yesterday’s gas-sensing flight detected slightly lower concentrations of carbon dioxide in the crater, but for the first time the airborne instruments detected the presence of hydrogen sulfide. Wind conditions during today’s flight should permit the first estimation of the rate of gas flux.

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Mt. St. Helens | Random Stuff
Monday, 04 October 2004 18:31:06 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Saturday, 02 October 2004

I'm sitting in California at a geek conference (til tomorrow), and so I am missing the up-close excitement of what's happening at St. Helen's. The USGS raised the volcano cautionary level to III (press conference video link - WMV) today and evacuated the immediate area. Geologist say all indications are that magma is moving underground in the crater.

There's a good slideshow on KATU TV's web site from Friday's eruption. The KATU web site has a lot of great information and video, and you don't have to sign up and start getting spammed to access it, unlike on some other PDX news station sites. Score one for KATU - that's customer oriented content publishing. Thanks to KATU's decision-makers for that.

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Mt. St. Helens | Random Stuff
Saturday, 02 October 2004 16:11:32 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Friday, 01 October 2004

Mount St. Helens Notice of Volcano Alert, October 2, 2004

A notice of Volcano Alert (Alert Level 3) was issued today at 2:00 p.m. PDT

Immediately after the small steam emission at 12:15, seismic activity changed from principally rock breakage events to continuous low-frequency tremor, which is indicative of magma movement. We are increasing the alert level to Volcano Alert the highest alert level indicating that an eruption could be imminent.

The cause and outcome of the accelerating unrest is uncertain. Explosions from the vent could occur suddenly and without further warning. During such explosions the dome and crater floor are at greatest risk from ballistic projectiles, but the rim of the crater and flanks of the volcano could also be at risk. Explosions would also be expected to produce ash clouds that rise several to tens of thousands of feet above the crater rim and drift downwind. Currently wind forecasts from the National Weather Service, combined with eruption models, show that ash clouds will move to the northwest. If ash emissions are large, drifting ash could affect downwind communities. Minor melting of the glacier could trigger debris flows from the crater that are large enough to reach the Pumice Plain. There is very low probability that downstream communities would be impacted by these hydrologic events.

We continue to monitor the situation very closely and will issue additional updates as warranted, whether activity escalates or returns to background levels.


Mount St. Helens Update, October 1, 2004, 7:00 P.M.

Current status is Alert-Level 2-Volcano Advisory

The increasingly energetic seismic swarm of the past week culminated in a small 25-miunute-long eruption around noon today from a vent just south of the lava dome. The vent opened in a portion of the glacier that had become increasingly crevassed and uplifted over the past few days. This deformation was probably driven by piston-like uplift of a portion of the lava dome and crater floor. The eruption sent a steam and minor ash plume to an altitude of about 10,000 ft. It drifted southwestward accompanied by minor ashfall in areas close to the volcano. Seismicity dropped to a low level for several hours after the eruption, but is gradually increasing with earthquakes (maximum Magnitude about 3) occurring a rate of 1-2 per minute. We infer that the system is repressurizing. As a result, additional steam-and-ash eruptions similar to today’s could occur at any time.

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Mt. St. Helens | Random Stuff
Friday, 01 October 2004 20:22:19 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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I didn't know I was going to be asked to speak, but Chris roped me into participating in a panel session first thing this morning, the topic of which was “the future of security.” It was an honor to do so, and the conversation was a good one. The audience was involved and had great questions and comments. The participants on the schedule were:

  • Chris DiBona (moderator)
  • Neil Wyler aka Grifter
  • Fred Felman of Zone Labs
  • CJ Holthaus
  • Nico Sell
  • Dan Appleman - whose book, Always Use Protection, should be read by every teen (and adult) who uses a computer
  • Robert Scoble joined in
  • and me
  • Picture below thanks to

    Being involved up on the stage, I don't clearly remember everything we talked about in detail. I used/borrowed/stole the “PPT” mantra often used one of my friends and mentors, Jim, in my words during the panel discussion: “Security is about three things - People, Process and Technology.”

    Security as a topic of conversation or debate, especially when discussed among geeks, seems always to attract such a strong technology focus. But the other two aspects of security - process and people - cannot be ignored. If you remove any one part from a security effort, it cannot ultimately succeed. If you have a successful security strategy and program already up and running, you cannot afford to forget to address and maintain all three components. If you do, again, it's bound to fail eventually.

    Technology is important, though. You can't discount the fact that when you run computers and networks, technology is what you're securing, so you'll almost certainly use more technology to help you.

    The panel discussed hardware security technology, and (as expected) the “patch and fix” and other typically Microsoft-centric topics and questions came up.

    My response to the Microsoft-Security debate: Think about football teams. The team that plays tough games season after season and gets its butt kicked over and over will eventually learn the basics, and then will evolve into a mature powerhouse of a team. You just hope the other teams (the ones that had been kicking your team's butt) don't get too lazy or take any thing for granted. Or, if they do, that you have not made an investment in that team.

    Three years ago, I was looking at Microsoft as a team I had a relationship with, but who I could not count on to win the game. Today my position is just the opposite: Microsoft has learned the hard lessons, has had their butts kicked, and has emerged from the fray a stronger, better and more mature company in the security arena. They may only be 60% there, as Scoble noted on the stage, but this is a team that I feel I can count on to do the right thing and fight the good fight.

    This was a good session, covering a lot of ground. Feedback from audience members afterward was positive, which was cool. Security has become a hot topic in the past year or so in the user world, and will become even bigger in the future.

    Again, because it bears repeating: Always Use Protection - buy it now. <eom>

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    GnomeDex | IT Security
    Friday, 01 October 2004 15:25:01 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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