Archive for February, 2008

Friday FOIA Fun – On Hiatus

For the past several weeks, I’ve been providing a look at the fun, fun world of the Freedom of Information Act each Friday, following requests from their inception through to the bitter (or not-so-bitter) end. Well, I’m taking a temporary break from this, but for a good reason – March 16 through 22 this year are Sunshine Week, the great celebration of government openness and “your right to know”. To celebrate, I hope to cram a month’s worth of FOIA Fun – and a score or two of released documents – into seven days. Hopefully, they’ll even be interesting documents, and not who-on-earth-cares stuff along the lines of “Earwax Mitigation Techniques in Forward Operating Areas”, or “Accounting Fundamentals for the Fleet Marine Force”. To find out, you’ll just have to wait until Sunshine Week

Published in: Geekiness, General | on February 29th, 2008 | Comments Off on Friday FOIA Fun – On Hiatus

No Blogs for the Air Force – For Now

Chair Force, er, Air Force personnel are prevented from visiting blogs, it turns out – or, at least, certain ones that are really obviously blogs, anyway. There are no doubt many good reasons for this – and just as many reasons why it’s a bad idea, as well.
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Published in: Geekiness, General, Security | on February 28th, 2008 | 1 Comment »

Wiretapping, the Close-to-Home Version

There was an interesting item in the local news earlier this week, when the Minneapolis Star-Tribune got hold of the St. Paul PD’s guidelines on infiltrating activist groups. Though the document doesn’t specifically mention the upcoming RNC convention, it seems pretty clear what it’s all about. Some very interesting comments showed up in an wire story on the subject, which quotes former Minneapolis PD chief Tony Bouza. He describes the guidelines as “eloquent”, but then drops an interesting little tidbit:
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Published in: Geekiness, General, Security | on February 27th, 2008 | Comments Off on Wiretapping, the Close-to-Home Version

Never Trust Statistics

Spot the logic flaw in this announcement concerning crime in California:

“Immigrants are far less likely than the average U.S. native to commit crime in California, according to a report released today by the Public Policy Institute of California. Significantly lower rates of incarceration and institutionalization among foreign-born adults suggest that longstanding fears of immigration as a threat to public safety are unjustified.

Key findings in the report, Crime, Corrections, and California: What Does Immigration Have to Do with It?:

* People born outside the United States make up about 35 percent of California’s adult population but represent only about 17 percent of the state prison population.
* U.S.-born adult men are incarcerated in state prisons at rates up to 3.3 times higher than foreign-born men.

I’m kind of embarrassed someone from the NPS didn’t see through this; it’s like an example straight out of How to Lie With Statistics

Published in: 'D' for 'Dumb', Geekiness, General, Security | on February 26th, 2008 | Comments Off on Never Trust Statistics

Antispam Hell

If you ask me, what the world really needs is a good, lightweight antispam proxy with greylisting. Greylisting, if you’re not familiar with the term, is a brutal but effective way of cutting down on email spam, by ensuring that only actual mailservers are sending email to you, and not – for example – a zombie botnet. It’s not perfect, but it works fairly well.

The problem is, there don’t seem to be any really good implementations of this in a proxy form – where they greylisting is done ahead of the mailserver itself. So far, all the programs I’ve found have some serious issues:
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Published in: Geekiness, General | on February 26th, 2008 | 2 Comments »