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?

Google-time

There ya go - It's not just about keyword search!



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Friday, 11 August 2006 13:13:03 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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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. 



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Friday, 11 August 2006 09:21:05 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 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.

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Thursday, 10 August 2006 05:05:55 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 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?



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Wednesday, 09 August 2006 13:57:19 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 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:
why?

Joe Smith says:
It didn't stay on above 80

Greg Hughes says:
oh hehehe

Greg Hughes says:
maybe you should put it back on then?

Greg Hughes says:
hahah

Joe Smith says:
Ummm, hehe

Joe Smith says:
and 80 is where it started to come off



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Tuesday, 08 August 2006 19:24:20 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 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...

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Monday, 07 August 2006 02:25:00 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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