Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

The Heartbleed web security flaw – runaway, runaway! — UPDATE: NSA scumbags knew about the bug for 2 years

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It seems as though every week or so there’s a new hack or exploit that reveals millions of passwords or important data from a popular web service, and this week is no exception. On Tuesday, IT professionals got word of a serious flaw in OpenSSL — the browser encryption standard used by an estimated two-thirds of the servers on the internet. The flaw, which was dubbed “Heartbleed,” may have exposed the personal data of millions of users and the encryption keys to some of the web’s largest services. Here’s what you need to know:

It’s a bug in some versions of the OpenSSL software that handles security for a lot of large websites. In a nutshell, a weakness in one feature of the software — the so called “heartbeat” extension, which allows services to keep a secure connection open over an extended period of time — allows hackers to read and capture data that is stored in the memory of the system. It was discovered independently by a security company called Codenomicon and a Google researcher named Neel Mehta, both of whom have helped co-ordinate the response…

As Tim Lee at Vox points out in his overview, the lock that you see in your browser’s address bar when you visit a website “is supposed to signal that third parties won’t be able to read any information you send or receive. Under the hood, SSL accomplishes that by transforming your data into a coded message that only the recipient knows how to decipher.” But researchers found it was possible to “send a cleverly formed, malicious heartbeat message that tricks the computer at the other end into divulging secret information…”

What can you do about it?

If you are a web user, the short answer is not much. You can check the list of sites affected on Github, or you could try a tool from developer Filippo Valsorda that checks sites to see if they are still vulnerable (although false positives have been reported), and you should probably change your passwords for those sites if you find any you use regularly.

RTFA if you want all the gory details. The bug is 2 years old albeit just discovered; so, no one has a clue how long evildoers may have been screwing around with folks’ accounts at sites containing the bug.

I’d suggest reading the list at Github and staying away from sites on the list – until they disappear from the list. Changing passwords – as suggested – at affected sites is a good idea as well. Though I can think of problems happening if you’re pinged while doing exactly that. If and when sites are certified clean, then, change your passwords and do a thorough job of it.

UPDATE: NSA scumbags knew about the bug for two years and used it to break into encrypted communications – rather than notify American companies and consumers so they might protect themselves…http://tinyurl.com/mq8owa2

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Written by Ed Campbell

April 11, 2014 at 2:00 pm

St. Patrick’s Day Sheepdog Trials

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Our Sheila would be a champ at this.

Thanks, Ursarodinia

Written by Ed Campbell

March 20, 2014 at 5:00 am

Update on the missing 777 from Malaysia

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John Young at the press conference ab’t 10:30 MDT

This is for you lot who don’t have TV service allowing you follow this from Al Jazeera?

Tony Abbot is a predictable conservative stiff. He’s not saying everything he knows; but, his staff and the US Spooks they work with have identified at least 2 large objects and many smaller clustered in a single area within the range of the ping arcs tracked by the NTSB. West of Australia about 2300 km. He announced this much to the Parliament in Oz a couple hours ago.

A later press conference – about a half-hour ago – headed by an Oz Maritime official, John Young, just finished and details continue to come out with all the proper cautions that nothing is confirmed until someone can lay hands on what’s floating in the Indian Ocean. The weather ain’t great; but, they’ve scrambled 4 planes capable of flying the 4 hours to the site – spending 2 hours onsite and then returning to base. 1 of those planes should be there right about now with the other 3 to arrive over the next 2-4 hours.

There is a merchant ship changing course to be there tomorrow. Aussie Navy can’t get anyone there for a day or two.

At least 1 of the 2 large objects is about 24 meters along its greatest portion. That’s big enough to be a wing section from one side of a 777.

Plenty of news if you know where to look. I’m going to bed and will check AJAM – Al Jazeera AMerica – in the morning.

Written by Ed Campbell

March 19, 2014 at 11:18 pm

Daisy — Medal of Honor of New York City

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Click to enlargeRob Lowry photo

James Crane worked on the 101st floor of Tower 1 of the World Trade Center .. He is blind so he has a golden retriever named Daisy.

After the plane hit 20 stories below, James knew that he was doomed, so he let Daisy go, out of an act of love. She darted away into the darkened hallway.

Choking on the fumes of the jet fuel and the smoke James was just waiting to die. About 30 minutes later, Daisy comes back along with James’ boss, Who Daisy just happened to pick up on floor 112. On her first run of the building, she leads James, James’ boss, and about 300 more people out of the doomed building.

But she wasn’t through yet, she knew there were others who were trapped. So, highly against James’ wishes she ran back in the building. On her second run, she saved 392 lives. Again she went back in. During this run, the building collapses.

James hears about this and falls on his knees into tears.

Against all known odds, Daisy makes it out alive, but this time she is carried by a firefighter. “She led us right to the people, before she got injured” the fireman explained. Her final run saved another 273 lives. She suffered acute smoke inhalation, severe burns on all four paws, and a broken leg, but she saved 967 lives.

Daisy is the first civilian Canine to win the Medal of Honor of New York City.

Now you know why some of us humans love dogs more than we love humans.

Thanks, Ursarodinia

Written by Ed Campbell

March 14, 2014 at 8:00 pm

Knitters wanted for penguin pullovers

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Click to enlarge — Oiled penguin in a knitted wool jumper

The Penguin Foundation has a global callout for knitters to make pullovers for penguins in rehab.

Penguins caught in oil spills need the little jumpers to keep warm and to stop them from trying to clean the toxic oil off with their beaks…

One advantage of knitting a penguin sweater is that they are small.

“They’re very quick,” says Lyn.

The Penguin Foundation also distributes the jumpers to other wildlife rescue centres where needed.

While the Penguin Foundation’s website says it currently has a ‘good supply’ of the little jumpers, the organisation also uses them in educational programs as well as selling them as a fundraising measure.

In 2011 the foundation raised money for a new Phillip Island Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre which can house up to 1500 penguins in the event of a major oil spill.

A great reason to resume knitting as a hobby. Ain’t just for kitting out your own kin, y’know.

Thanks, Ursarodinia

Written by Ed Campbell

March 6, 2014 at 8:00 pm

There will be a short delay –

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–because our fracking washing machine died big time, this afternoon. No need for details; but, for several reasons including size constraints, no one in town is in stock in what we wanted for a replacement.

Got one ordered. 2nd half of this coming week.

But, even though Everton won today [Go Blues!] I’m brain dead and in a foul mood. It will take at least one Jamieson’s and finding something worth watching stored on the DVR to settle my brain. Blogging will not do that.

I’ll be back in the morning for a post at 8AM.

p.s. Found the latest Inspector Gently on the DVR from public TV, last night. Martin Shaw rules. That’ll settle me down.

Written by Ed Campbell

March 1, 2014 at 8:00 pm

Posted in Personal

Belgium’s parliament legalizes child euthanasia

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Decision made after long, difficult debate – no matter what anti-choice moralists say

Parliament in Belgium has passed a bill allowing euthanasia for terminally ill children without any age limit, by 86 votes to 44, with 12 abstentions.

When, as expected, the bill is signed by the king, Belgium will become the first country in the world to remove any age limit on the practice.

It may be requested by terminally ill children who are in great pain and who have no treatment available.

Opponents argue children cannot make such a difficult decision. Which presumes opponents have the right to make the decision today – for the children.

In the Netherlands, Belgium’s northern neighbour, euthanasia is legal for children over the age of 12, if there is parental consent.

Under the Dutch conditions, a patient’s request for euthanasia can be fulfilled by a doctor if the request is “voluntary and well-considered” and the patient is suffering unbearably, with no prospect of improvement…

Supporters of the legislation argue that in practice the law will affect an extremely small number of children, who would probably be in their teens…

The law states a child will have to be terminally ill, face “unbearable physical suffering” and make repeated requests to die – before euthanasia is considered.

Parents, doctors and psychiatrists would have to agree before a decision is made

Church leaders argued the law is immoral…

Some paediatricians have warned vulnerable children could be put at risk and have questioned whether a child can really be expected to make such a difficult choice.

But opinion polls have suggested broad support in Belgium for the changes.

Not an easy debate. No more or less than the discussion between doctors, psychiatrists, parents and children facing the question. In a very small number of cases where even the possibility for such a decision is lawfully allowed.

None of which seems to matter to the Christian moralists who have no inhibition about lying about the debate which took place. No matter to the moralists of any philosophic conviction who depict the debate as a conspiracy to murder hundreds and thousands of inconvenient children. They deserve to be shamed for the liars they are.

Once again the leadership of movements against choice care no more for truth than they do for individual liberty.

Written by Ed Campbell

February 13, 2014 at 2:00 pm

Has America’s love affair with cars entered middle age?

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The car was one of the icons of post-World War II Americana. Soldiers came home from the war, bought an American car with as much chrome as they could afford and moved to the suburbs to raise a family. A new study from University of Michigan’s Transportation Research institute indicates, however, that American car consumption may have reached its peak and is now falling.

The study looked at the rate of households that do not own a car from 2005 to 2012, and then examined this rate in America’s 30 largest cities between 2007 and 2012. In 2007, 8.7% of US households did not own a car, and that figure grew to 9.2% in 2012. However, in the largest cities, the rate of families without cars is much higher. From 2007 to 2012, families in 21 of the 30 largest cities decreased their car ownership. The six largest cities all had car-less rates above 30%. New York topped the list at 56.5% of families without cars.

For commuters, this should be greeted as great news. It means fewer cars on the road, which can contribute to lighter traffic. Auto enthusiasts also get more open roads to enjoy. However, for automakers it means that competition will get even tighter, and they will have to fight that much harder for every sale to appeal to a smaller pool of buyers. Nobody is saying that the American love affair with the car is dead, but maybe we have just entered into the comfortable period of the marriage.

Subjectively, all that’s diminished my family’s car involvement is my retirement. If I was still working, I’d be driving about as much as previously. But, I’d be driving one of the new Ram 1500′s with the small V6 diesel – and probably averaging about 26mpg. My wife’s new Ford averages 40mpg on her daily commute. Fossil fuel consumption in our family has diminished about 35% per mile traveled.

When I first retired, I often hopped in my old pickup and went to town for a single item. Now, those trips are collated into an addition coming and going from our weekly grocery shopping. Miles traveled in total are down 30-40%.

Thorough, inclusive public transit only works with reasonable urban density – requiring sensible politicians and/or a thoughtful electorate willing to invest in infrastructure. Apparently, that’s actually happening in a number of cities. Automobile transport is maturing in use, leveling off; but, then, that’s beginning to happen with family size, too.

All in all, we’re getting smarter. That’s in the existential sense, folks. Nothing to do with brain cells.

Written by Ed Campbell

February 10, 2014 at 2:00 pm

NY TIMES editor says Obama’s White House is the most secretive

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jill abramson

Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden helped The New York Times “keep the public informed on what I consider to be very important matters,” says Jill Abramson, the woman who has the final say on what constitutes “all the news that’s fit to print.”

As executive editor of the Times — the first woman to hold what has been one of the most influential positions in American journalism — Abramson sets the agenda. We talk to her about what she calls the “most secretive White House” she has covered as well as the newspaper’s “seriously flawed” coverage of the run-up to the Iraq War, which happened during her watch as Washington bureau chief. John Seigenthaler also asks Abramson about the future of print newspapers and about accusations that the Times is too far left.

John Seigenthaler: Let me dive right into the news and a little bit about the NSA and Edward Snowden. Daniel Ellsberg was quoted recently as saying that Edward Snowden was his hero. Do you see Snowden as a hero or a traitor?

Jill Abramson: I see him as a very good source. We have published many of the NSA and GCHQ (British intelligence) documents that came from Snowden. And so I view him, as I did Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, as a very good source of extremely newsworthy information.

Edward Snowden did help The New York Times keep the public informed on what I consider to be very important matters…

John Seigenthaler: Let me move on to another topic in the Obama administration. How would you grade this administration, compared to others, when it comes to its relationship with the media?

Jill Abramson: Well, I would slightly like to interpret the question as “How secretive is this White House?” which I think is the most important question. I would say it is the most secretive White House that I have ever been involved in covering, and that includes — I spent 22 years of my career in Washington and covered presidents from President Reagan on up through now, and I was Washington bureau chief of the Times during George W. Bush’s first term.

I dealt directly with the Bush White House when they had concerns that stories we were about to run put the national security under threat. But, you know, they were not pursuing criminal leak investigations. The Obama administration has had seven criminal leak investigations. That is more than twice the number of any previous administration in our history. It’s on a scale never seen before. This is the most secretive White House that, at least as a journalist, I have ever dealt with.

And do you think this comes directly from the president?

I would think that it would have to…

John Seigenthaler: Everybody has an opinion of The New York Times, so let’s talk about some opinions of the Times. And in particular, The New York Times is often labeled as left-wing, liberal. How do you respond to that?

Jill Abramson: I respond to it by saying I think The New York Times represents a kind of cosmopolitan outlook towards the world and to this country and this city that may strike, you know, some readers as liberal because we have, you know, paid a lot of attention to stories like gay marriage, but these are newsworthy currents in our society.

But it’s not liberal in the sense of being doctrinaire or tied to the Democratic Party in any way. You know, I’ve run many investigative stories and political stories that have made liberal political figures furious.

Folks confuse editorial policy with journalism and reporting. A mistake falling in the category of ignorance – and not limited to the United States.

This is just a portion of the interview appearing at america.aljazeera.com…The full interview will be on AlJazeera America TV, Sunday evening at 7pm ET/4pm PT.

Written by Ed Campbell

January 31, 2014 at 8:00 am

Academics balk at proposal to ban personal blogging

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Academics across the world are up in arms at a proposal to bar the senior members of the International Studies Association (ISA) from blogging. The proposal says:

“No editor of any ISA journal or member of any editorial team of an ISA journal can create or actively manage a blog unless it is an official blog of the editor’s journal or the editorial team’s journal.

This policy requires that all editors and members of editorial teams to apply this aspect of the code of conduct to their ISA journal commitments. All editorial members, both the editor in chief(s) and the board of editors/editorial teams, should maintain a complete separation of their journal responsibilities and their blog associations.”

Many members of the ISA, a professional association for scholars, practitioners and students in the field of international studies with more than 6,000 members from 80 countries, have erupted in protest at the proposal…

Daniel Drezner, professor of international politics at Tufts university in Boston, said: “I cannot see how this can be a viable long-term policy… At best, it’s draconian, and at worst, an infringement of academic freedom…”

But Harvey Starr, the the South Carolina university professor who serves as the ISA president, said the ban would strengthen the organisation’s code of conduct.

He is quoted by Insider High Ed as saying: “The proposed policy is one response, not to blogs per se, but to issues that can arise with people confusing the personal blogs of the editors of ISA journals with the editorial policies for their journals. This proposal is trying to address that possible confusion.”

Baloney! Any reader who can’t differentiate between a blog produced for a specific journal and a personal blog should have their reading skills checked to see if they passed the 6th grade.

Regardless of the trimming and template for some personal blogs, those productions which represent a profession or sub-group, an organization, ISA journals in particular are clearly identified as such. Mr. Starr’s sophistry is sophomoronic.

Written by Ed Campbell

January 30, 2014 at 2:00 pm


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