Archive for March, 2009

Kwik Hits

I’m hacking and wheezing from an oh-so-fun respiratory infection, so let’s make this quick:

Boston High School free of vampites, say officials;

From the BBC, ten ways to get a good night’s sleep. Not on the list: Nyquil;

From Secrecy News, double-plus unfun shennanigans at the CIA;

Hate your working conditions? At least you’re not restricted in which toilets you can and cannot use;

Always awkward when the merchant vessels pirates off Somalia attack turn out to be military ships instead;

You know it’s a good soiree when the police get called in to break up a fight, and get to use pepper spray… in the House of Commons, no less.

That’s it for me; it’s back to the chicken-spatzle soup, pain killers, and orange juice for now…

Published in: General | on March 31st, 2009 | No Comments »

COMSAT Pirates Busted?

It’s hard to find any authoritative English-language reporting on the subject, but it looks like a bust may have gone down two weeks ago of some pirate radio operators in Brazil who were using – abusing – American military communication satellites.

Some details are available here; one of the apparently compromised satellites is said to be “FleetSat-8″, which I’m guessing is a U.S. Navy asset.

The Brazilian pirates have been arrested, but note there’s no mention, anywhere, of whatever security hole they were exploiting being fixed. Hmmn…

Published in: Geekiness, General, Security | on March 30th, 2009 | 1 Comment »

Is Crime a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?

Lately, much of my free time has been spent contributing to the collaborative analysis of St. Paul’s burglaries over the last fifteen months, both churches and commercial buildings. We’re making some good progress, and have identified a lot of interesting trends and patterns, though the work is far from over.

One thing that’s immediately obvious when you start looking at the burglary data is that a lot of the city’s burglaries happen on the west side of town, most of then clustered right around the Midway area and the western end of Frogtown, along University Avenue. This actually comes as no real surprise – everyone kind of knows that that part of the city is “bad”. If you want to score drugs, fake ID, below-retail cigarettes, or skanky disease-ridden drug-addicted prostitutes, Frogtown/University Ave/Midway are the places to be. Why this is isn’t necessarily clear; oh, it’s easy to parrot the usual excuses, about how it’s a poor part of town that hasn’t been the recipient of nearly the amount of urban renewal and investment that other parts of the city have, boo hoo… but what if that’s not the case?

Is – how do I put this? – is being a “bad part of town” a self-fulfilling prophecy?
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Published in: Geekiness, General, History, Security | on March 27th, 2009 | No Comments »

Linked Only by Proximity

I’m easily amused, particularly by badly-worded headlines and things of that sort, so you can imagine my response when I spotted these headlines on CNN’s website earlier this afternoon:

A fatal house fire, a fire, a dying woman, and an expensive house being sold, cheap. None have any connection to one another, other than their proximity on CNN.com, but I still found the juxtaposition, I suppose, amusing.

I’m not laughing at anyone’s misfortune, but you have to admit, you’ve got the plot for a TV movie right there, just in the headlines…

Published in: Geekiness, General | on March 26th, 2009 | No Comments »

Oh Woe is Me: Slow Computer

I recently decided it was probably time to retire my old desktop Linux PC, which is a, um, dual 500MHz Pentium II. (With two 18GB SCSI drives in RAID-1, 1 gigabyte of ECC RAM, and an 8x Nvidia video card with 128MB of memory. What, me, outdated?) I wanted something smaller, quieter, and less power-hungry, so I picked up a 1.8GHz Mini-ITX box online. It’s small, it’s quiet, it only draws something like 65 watts of power. It also only had room for a single hard drive, and I really wanted RAID-1.

My solution? (Don’t laugh!) An IDE-to-Compact Flash adapter, and two CF cards in software RAID-1.

This is proving somewhat suboptimal…
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Published in: General | on March 26th, 2009 | 9 Comments »