Archive for the ‘ Tech ’ Category

More on the “big red button”.

I posted about this back in July after it had been in the news. Well it is still in the news and it looks like were gonna loose more of our freedoms. At this point I can only find fault in ourselves for not exercising our rights diligently. After all, if we don’t use it, we loose it.

Paul Joseph Watson of Prison Planet writes in this article:

The Senate is attempting to sneak through the infamous Internet kill switch cybersecurity bill by attaching it to another piece of legislation that is almost guaranteed to pass – the defense authorization bill – in an underhanded ploy to avoid the difficult task of passing cybersecurity on its own.

In the article, Joseph references another article from in which Sen. Thomas Carper, D-Del states:

It’s hard to get a measure like cybersecurity legislation passed on its own

What I know is this stinks and I don’t like it one bit. I’m pretty sure that after guns, at the top of the list of things that threaten freedom hating subsidiaries of authoritarianism and despots alike is the unbreakable ability of people to communicate and organize.

If you’re reading the news lately you may also be troubled by the numerous ways we are quickly loosing our freedom. Just from the last few days…

Covert random scanning
Surveillance cameras are watching you

Sad and frustrating.

Another reason for open source.

It seems Dell shipped some malware infected systems. Interesting but not unheard of is that the malware was at the BIOS level rather than in the OS. The article mentions:

But the threat of hardware Trojans has been recognised at the highest levels. The Pentagon is spending millions on research designed to ensure it can trust the microchips in critical systems, especially those made outside the US.

It seems to me that open source BIOS is a perfect cure to this concern. See OpenBIOS and Coreboot. Isn’t it crazy to “spend millions” to protect yourself against code that you will never see? Wouldn’t it be easier to invest in open BIOS/firmware code and simply run a diff on it prior to making systems live? I’m no code guru and even I could verify certified code in like ten seconds, and that would cost like…. nothing. Diff is free (AIF) too.

Scheduled to hit 1000+ mph in 2012

Regarding the internet and the big red button.

There has been recent talk about implementing a so called internet “kill switch” to be used by the P.O.T.U.S. in an emergency response situation. The idea is obviously not well received by the internet savvy community.

I came across Schneier’s blog entry on the topic of “cyber war” which caught my interest. I recently did a little looking into this new U.S Cyber Command department when it made the news as it related to the big red button issue. The lengths our government goes to in order to disguise it’s theft of our freedoms as our protection from harm is at this point typical but never any less maddening. Unless of course you think that just because they have an official seal and a commander they are the good guys.

Schneier’s blog entry led to the following debate; also very interesting.



Facebook perspective.

“Hey, someone made a skinner-box that teaches you to undervalue your privacy . Cool.” – Cory Doctorow

Simple as that.

Funny, true and soooo sad.


Uptimes a year later.

I must have a hardware clock in me because it seems like strange coincidence that I thought to make this post today; which turns out to be the day I made the same post last year. I wonder if this will happen next year too.

michael@X:~$ uptime
10:21:53 up 229 days,

mhanson@X:~$ uptime
10:22:33 up 502 days,

michael@X:~$ uptime
10:38:46 up 113 days,

michael@X:~$ uptime
10:39:51 up 443 days,

[michael@X ~]$ uptime
10:44:09 up 186 days,

Thats 1,473 days of uptime on 5 boxes. Are Windows servers staying up like that these days? I remember back in the dark ages I could go for about 90-100 days before I would need to reboot our NT 4.0 server, and that was pretty long for a server back then.

Thoughts on open formats and kids…

Recently my oldest son was accepted to a private high school that he has been wanting to go to for the last few years. How a 5th grader knows where he wants to go to high school I’ll never know but such was the case. Needless to say I am very pleased for him. I am not so pleased for our budget.

His acceptance however, was not achieved without the written and verbal recommendations of some very kind and generous mentors he has garnered some admiration from. Their influence was significant. So over the last week I my wife and I began urging him to put some brain power into what he will say in the thank you letters to each of those individuals. He made his rough draft last night and sat down to his iMac this afternoon to finish the task. As I passed by in the hallway and saw him sitting at his keyboard I wondered the process he would use to go about writing and saving each file in a technical way. I used the opportunity to give him some advice on being efficient and this led me to thinking about how young he is and how he will over the remainder of his live amass a great deal of digital content and history. I thought about how much I have accumulated over the years and pondered the huge amount a young person today will have later in their life. I guess being a Linux user and firm believer in OSS and free software philosophy led me to consider how the data he creates and uses may or may not be of any use to him in the future. Of course now you rightfully question why he is using a Mac and not an open system; I have no legitimate answer to that other than its mostly related to my laziness and my kids desire to participate in the mainstream in a way that open systems sometimes don’t afford i.e. WOW, iTunes etc…

My intent here is not to start a flame-war or debate on Linux vs. x bur rather to simply raise the question of long term viability of our digital assets, and to consider how I should counsel my kids on things they should be doing regarding what is becoming their past saved in bits. I have attempted previously to relate some of these concerns but appropriately, given their age, that advice has fallen on deaf ears.

Do we as technically inclined parents have an obligation to include these lessons along with what has been more traditional child rearing values? Do we live in an era in which we should be teaching our children what they do on-line with their computers and cell phones can and will have immutable lifelong consequences? I’m sure the answer is yes, we must be guiding our kids on these technical and digital matters. But, what is the lesson plan, how do we do it? We are pioneering in this regard, we are ‘those that came before us’.

And what about asset viability and longevity? My grandfather recently passed away and I am aware of the huge amount of his life he left behind in the form of paper archives. Everything from photos, checkbooks and bank statement, notepads with doodles and thoughts scribbled in them, tax returns and business contracts, gas receipts and letters, real estate documents and construction material invoices. These are physical, tangible memories, they can last for a very very long time sans some sort of disaster. Anyone who gains access to them will be able to understand them. What will the equivalent be for my grandkids, what will they reminisce over after my kids are gone? Whatever that is, will they be able to see it, be moved by it, or learn things about mom and dad they never knew? I don’t think we know, but I’m pretty sure the chances are far less if we continue archiving our history and documenting our lives in proprietary data formats. I’m comfortable betting that all the Microsoft Office or iWork documents created today will not be usable in their original form and intent on Feb. 9 2060. Contrarily, I’m not at all convinced that the opposite is true of any document created in an open format. I suspect an open format document will fare the test of time better but only time will tell. I think for now, open formats are our best chance for a digital legacy.


WordPress upgrade tonight. It went smooth. Crossing fingers worked.