Saturday, August 27, 2016

Your travel Protip for the day

Uncle Jay brings the snark as only he can in a hilarious post that ends with really good advice for when you fly internationally.

And since he really is a professional traveler, this really is a ProTip ...

Steve Earle & The Dukes - The Other Kind

Steve Earle has led a life that would make a good country song: dropped out of high school, worked blue collar jobs during the day while playing in a band at night, married seven (!) times, did time in prison for drugs and weapons charges.  But through it all, he's written a ton of great music that blends country with good solid rock.

This song from his 1990 album The Hard Way reached #37 on the rock charts.

The Other Kind (Songwriter: Steve Earle)
I woke up this morning and I took a look around at all that I got
These days I've been lookin' in the mirror and wondering if that's me lookin' back or not
I'm still the apple of my mama's eye
I'm my daddy's worst fears realized
Here of late all this real estate don't seem all that real to me sometimes
I'm back out on that road again
Turn this beast into the wind
There are those that break and bend
I'm the other kind, I'm the other kind
Now my old buddy, what's his name, says, "Man what the hell are you thinkin' 'bout
Fool, you got two of everything, but you hang your head just like you was down and out";
And I'm damn sure not suffering from a lack of love
There's plenty more where that came from
Ah - but leave it up to me to say something wrong and hurt someone before I'm done
You see it used to be I was really free
I didn't need no gasoline to run
Before you could say Jack Kerouac you'd turn your back and I'd be gone
Yeah nowadays I got me two good wheels and I seek refuge in aluminum and steel
Aw, it takes me out there for just a little while
And the years fall away with every mile

Friday, August 26, 2016

URGENT: Yeah, you really need to update your iPhone

The good news is that I haven't heard of mass attacks (yet) using these attacks.  The bad news is that it typically doesn't take long for those to start once the Bad Guys know that something is possible.

The attack sends a web link to a page that contains malware.  This malware is unpleasant - it's the first remote jailbreak exploit, so it basically takes total control of you iDevice.

In your iPhone (and iPad), click the "Settings" app, then "General" then "Updates" and select "Check for updates".  You want iOS 9.3.5.  I'm not sure if this applies to iPads as well but recommend that you check.

Like I said, I expect there's a Bad Moon rising.  We'll likely see mass exploitation of this in a few days.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Wolfgang would not like this

He's the only dog I've ever known who won't stick his head out of the car window.

Possibly the Start of a Series

I don't know how many I will find. Here's the first one, anyway. A glimpse at life as it was lived in old America, before the rise of the EPA, political correctness, and the general nanny state.

A 4.5 mile road and beach course. Stock cars (real stock cars, not just a shell over a professional race car). People lining the course. Daytona 1952.

Why self-driving cars are a lot further from practical use than we think

It turns out that this is a really, really hard problem:
Rosenband added that four-way junctions with no lights are still a nightmare for the robot cars. An example junction is California and Powell in San Francisco, which has the added bonus of two cable car lines going through it. Human motorists rely on eye contact to know when it's safe to go or just take the initiative and move first. A driver-less car gets stuck trying to safely nudge its way across the box. 
"At four-way stops, oftentimes cars arrive sorta at the same time and it's a coin flip for who goes first. We have to make it comfortable for the person in the car; you don’t want the vehicle to inch forward and then slam the brakes, and you also want to be courteous to other drivers," Rosenband explained.
This is a great overview of the problems of computer/sensor recognition of what is trivially easy for humans.  There are great examples here of the problems that we overcome instantly and naturally, but which flummox the computer:  the red balloon next to a green traffic light, the traffic light partially obscured by a bus, a traffic light with the setting sun right behind it which blinds the sensor.

We handle this via common sense, but you can't program common sense.  They're trying, though:
You can teach a computer what an under-construction sign looks like so that when it sees one, it knows to drive around someone digging a hole in the road. But what happens when there is no sign, and one of the workers is directing traffic with their hands? What happens when a cop waves the car on to continue, or to slow down and stop? You'll have to train the car for that scenario. 
What happens when the computer sees a ball bouncing across a street – will it anticipate a child suddenly stepping out of nowhere and chasing after their toy into oncoming traffic? Only if you teach it.
And this is the heart of the problem: you have to define literally every possible failure condition and program those into the software.  Even with machine learning, there are too many to be practical.  If you miss one and a car kills someone, the lawsuits will be enormous.

This is an outstanding article on the complexity that technologists are trying to bite off.  While unstated, you get a real feel for how they want to fly high - perhaps so close to the sun that their wings will melt.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Atom Smasher has lost his dog

"I know every dog is the best dog ever, but Sam was the best dog ever."

We love them because they love us unconditionally.  In their eyes we see ourselves reflected, not as we are but as we would wish to be.
Near this Spot are deposited the Remains of one
who possessed Beauty without Vanity,
Strength without Insolence,
Courage without Ferosity,
and all the virtues of Man
without his Vices.

- Lord Byron's epitaph to his beloved Newfoundland, Boatswain

Man, it's hard to buy a gun there

Especially if you're a senior citizen and somewhat hard of hearing ...


But this sure is funny:
A plucky German nudist out for a swim at a local lake was left in agony after an angler hooked his worm. 
Herbert Fendt - an alias the embarrassed man adopted to spare his family's blushes - was taking a dip in the Kaisersee, near Augsberg in south-eastern Germany, when the tackle-on-tackle action occurred. 
Initially the man thought he’d caught his todger on some weeds in the lake - a popular spot for fisherman and nudists - but soon discovered the cause of the pain. 
“I cried out to the fisherman ashore shouting ‘do not pull, do not pull’. I was terrified he was going to try to reel me in,” Fendt told the local press.
The rest of the article is just as funny.  The Germans are indeed very german.

Patriot Guard Riders escort Civil War veteran from Oregon to Maine

Desjardin learned that the 20th Maine veteran’s ashes were in Oregon when he was researching what had happened to each soldier who fought in the regiment. He proposed the state bring Williams home.
“I discovered that his remains were in a can on a shelf in a shed out in Oregon and had been there for 94 years, unclaimed,” the historian said. “Back home is better than a shelf on a shed in Oregon.”
This is the Patriot Guard Riders:

They escort the living and departed veterans on their journeys.  They escorted Pvt. Williams in relays all cross the country:
Williams’ ashes traveled across the country in style, accompanied by a battalion of Patriot Guard Riders who handed the box off from one group of motorcyclists to the next like a kind of modern-day Pony Express. Many of those riders came to Togus on Monday to witness Williams’ cremains being handed over to Maine VA officials, including Neil Wagner of Royersford, Pennsylvania.
“When I found out they were bringing a Civil War veteran, I said, ‘I can’t miss this one.’ I could be part of history,” he said. “It was very humbling. Every time he was handed off to a different guard group there were tears shed because he was getting closer to home.”
And 150 riders met him at the state line, to escort him back to Maine.  Bravo Zulu.

If you're in Augusta, Maine, you can pay your respects to Pvt. Williams through mid September at the Maine Veteran's Memorial  Cemetery, after which he will be buried next to his parents.

Hat tip (and thanks) to childhood buddy Rick for a pointer to this story.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


Top of the post update, courtesy of The Neon Madman: Here's a link from an old Iowahawk post, discussing Turbonique in detail and style. 

Turbonique was a company founded by a rocket scientist in 1962. They made turbine engines that ran on proprietary fuel for use on drag strips. Like a VW that would hit 150 miles an hour in a quarter mile. The world's fastest go kart. A rear axle mounted turbine that made 850 hp.

Here's a video about one of the cars that came up for auction.

Here's Turbonique's own video and the go kart in action, with sound.

Well, so much for Gary Johnson

He wants a carbon tax to "fight global warming":
Libertarian Party presidential nominee and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson said he’s no skeptic of man-made global warming and endorsed a “fee” on carbon dioxide emissions.
So why a tax?  I mean, these are libertarians (excuse me: Libertarians).  You'd think that they'd want a market.  The problem there is that we've seen a market tried, and it collapsed from all the fraud:
The alternative to a carbon tax is a carbon market, but as the European experience demonstrates, carbon markets lead to massive corruption and inevitable collapse.
The reason is very simple – with a carbon market, unlike a real market, fraud benefits all the market participants.
Fraud benefits the issuers of fake carbon credits – they get to make money for nothing.
Fraud benefits the purchasers of carbon credits – a flood of fake carbon credits keeps prices down.
Fraud benefits market regulators – they get rich turning a blind eye to the fraud.
The only people carbon fraud doesn’t benefit is anyone silly enough to think that market based carbon pricing can make a long term difference to CO2 emissions.
And so, the tax.  That will never collapse from rent seekers gaming the system (*cough* E.P.A. *cough*).  You'd think that the problem here would be blindingly obvious for a Libertarian.

Bah.  I even voted for him last time around.  But if this is what Libertarian looks like, then no thanks. But then, I'm not a libertarian.

Just how badly does Windows 10 spy on you?

It's worse than you think.  So far, people have focused on the aggressive upgrade tricks that Microsoft has used to get users on Windows 10.  But the far more serious concern is the amount of data about you that Windows 10 sends to Microsoft:
Windows 10 sends an unprecedented amount of usage data back to Microsoft, particularly if users opt in to “personalize” the software using the OS assistant called Cortana. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of data sent back: location data, text input, voice input, touch input, webpages you visit, and telemetry data regarding your general usage of your computer, including which programs you run and for how long.
And while users can disable some of these settings, it is not a guarantee that your computer will stop talking to Microsoft’s servers. A significant issue is the telemetry data the company receives. While Microsoft insists that it aggregates and anonymizes this data, it hasn’t explained just how it does so. Microsoft also won’t say how long this data is retained, instead providing only general timeframes. Worse yet, unless you’re an enterprise user, no matter what, you have to share at least some of this telemetry data with Microsoft and there’s no way to opt-out of it.
Microsoft has tried to explain this lack of choice by saying that Windows Update won’t function properly on copies of the operating system with telemetry reporting turned to its lowest level. In other words, Microsoft is claiming that giving ordinary users more privacy by letting them turn telemetry reporting down to its lowest level would risk their security since they would no longer get security updates1. (Notably, this is not something many articles about Windows 10 have touched on.)
But this is a false choice that is entirely of Microsoft’s own creation. There’s no good reason why the types of data Microsoft collects at each telemetry level couldn’t be adjusted so that even at the lowest level of telemetry collection, users could still benefit from Windows Update and secure their machines from vulnerabilities, without having to send back things like app usage data or unique IDs like an IMEI number.
Yuck.  Microsoft seems to be combining the worst of Apple with the worst of Google, at least from a privacy and you-can-do-it-any-way-you-like-as-long-as-it's-my-way perspectives.


What does August in Germany look like?

This is shaping up as the first summer since 1989 where there is year-round snow on the Zugspitze (Germany's highest mountain). Sure, this is weather, not climate - but late or missing snows in winter would cause a breathless round of ZOMG Thermageddon!!!one! headlines, so turnaround is air play.

Even more so as this is (once again, yawn) being billed as the "hottest year ever".  No wonder the public no longer listens to "Climate Scientists" - I mean, who you going to believe?  The scientists or your lying eyes?


Monday, August 22, 2016

There IS only one Country Music song on the radio

Pistolero put out a fatwa on the new Country Music years ago, but I just figured you know how HE is.  Man, was he ever right.  Sir Mashalot puts five hit Country songs together at the same time, and they are all the same song.

3 guitarists, 1 solo.  Heh.

Pistolero, let me say it here: you were right and I was wrong.

As a palate cleanser, let me offer a song that is authentic.

15,000 More

More what? Why 15,000 more Hillary Clinton e-mails that weren't disclosed and are just now starting to be reviewed.

One thing I would bet lunch on, no one is going to find any crimes committed this time, either.

Hack the Planet!

Free Kevin!

And regarding the T-shirt at the link, it's an old computer security joke:

Q: What's the difference between a hacker and a Security Professional?

A: The Security Professional has a mortgage.

The Presidential debates from the perspective of an Internet Security guru

No, not me (I don't have guru status).  But people who do are applying those analytical techniques to the upcoming debates:
The moderators, the ones running the debate, will do their best to ask Trump the toughest questions they think of. At this point, I think their first question will be about the Kahn family, and Trump's crappy treatment of their hero son. This is one of Trump's biggest weaknesses, but especially so among military-obsessed Republicans.

And Trump's response to this will be awesome. I don't know what it will be, but I do know that he's employing some of the world's top speech writers and debate specialists to work on the answer. He'll be practicing this question diligently working on a scripted answer, from many ways it can be asked, from now until the election. And then, when that question comes up, it'll look like he's just responding off-the-cuff, without any special thought, and it'll impress the heck out of all the viewers that don't already hate him.

The same will apply too all Trump's weak points. You think the debates are an opportunity for the press to lock him down, to make him reveal his weak points once and for all in front of a national audience, but the reverse is true. What the audience will instead see is somebody given tough, nearly impossible questions, and who nonetheless has a competent answer to everything. This will impress everyone with how "presidential" Trump has become.
The persuasion techniques in play are what in the security biz are called "social engineering".  The expectation is that Trump will be displaying advanced social engineering skillz.

Windows 10 update breaks most webcams

The Windows 10 "Anniversary update" breaks almost all webcams:
The Windows 10 Anniversary Update, aka version 1607, has been found to leave many webcams inoperable. The update prevents the use of webcams in applications such as Skype and Open Broadcaster Software (OBS), along with all manner of custom CCTV programs. Extremely popular hardware, such as Logitech's C920 and C930e cameras, in conjunction even with Microsoft's own Skype, will fail to properly broadcast video.
People first noticed the issue earlier this month. But it's only within the last couple of days that the exact cause became clear via a post by Brad Sams on
Microsoft has said that a fix is in development, but has not yet said when that fix will be distributed.
Me, I recommend Linux.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

You can say anything on your last day

This is one of the Queen Of The World's favorite sayings.

Watching the Olympics is better when you're drunk

Especially if you're watching the Irish sports commentator announcing sailing (which he clearly doesn't know anything about).

Open a Guinness, kick back, and enjoy!  Just make sure you watch all the way to the end.

Hat tip: Chris Lynch.

The wrong concerto

Ever had a dream that you studied for the wrong test?    That's what happened with Maria Joao Pires. The expression on her face about 40 seconds into the piece is pretty funny, as she realizes that she needs to play a piece that she hadn't practiced.  Fortunately this was a rehearsal - I guess that's why you have rehearsals!

She finishes the piece anyway, playing from memory.  The Show must go on, indeed.