Archive for December, 2009

Magical Mystery Shorthand

I have a lot of useless skills I’ve picked up over the years, for whatever reason. Don’t get me wrong – while most of them were already useless when I learned them, a few were still mildly useful, way back when. Among the latter are the ability to operate and maintain spirit duplicators (sometimes incorrectly a/k/a Mimeograph machines), and pencil-and-paper drafting, which were rendered obsolete by the Xerox machine and Autocad, respectively. I can speak a few phrases of Esperanto, the native language of exactly nobody, I was fairly proficient at fencing in high school, and I’m perfectly comfortable using manual film cameras from a Minox up to a 4×5 Speed Graphic.

I can also service and restore most tube (valve) radios, know the proper care and feeding of a fountain pen, and can trap small game.

High on the list of useless skills I’d most like to pick up at some point is learning shorthand – either Gregg or Pittman, probably Gregg.
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Published in: Geekiness, General, History | on December 7th, 2009 | 4 Comments »

CyberCIEGE, 1.9r1

It’s been a while since I’ve written about the software program CyberCIEGE, which is an interesting, valuable, and under-appreciated tool for teaching and learning good information awareness and computer/network security practices.

You can learn more about it over at Wikipedia, if you’d like.

The current version is 1.9r1, released 13 November 2009. While CyberCIEGE is theoretically restricted to (ahem!) government and educational users, you can download a copy of the installer for the full current version of the program at this link; it’s a 102MB executable installer for Windows systems, packaged by me, and requires no password to install.

(MD5 hash for the installer: F152ACC586FA81BEF294111F5FFAD525)


Published in: General, Security | on December 4th, 2009 | Comments Off on CyberCIEGE, 1.9r1

What’s With Al-Shabaab?

Consider, please, the Somali organization Al-Shabaab, which has been much in the news here in Minnesota following the indictments of several alleged members or associates, and was much in the news over the summer following the arrest of several alleged members in Australia (the Holsworthy Barrack plot.)

Conventional wisdom holds that they’re an Islamic terror group allied with Al-Qaeda, and a significant threat to Western interests both in Somalia and abroad.

I wonder, though, if that’s entirely true.
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Published in: Geekiness, General, History, Security | on December 2nd, 2009 | Comments Off on What’s With Al-Shabaab?

Careers in Homeland Security

What are our children learning? It’s an age old question – and sometimes, I worry, a trick one. In the U.S. state of Indiana, at least, the answer might be a little surprising.

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security has produced a big instructional program on “Careers in Homeland Security” for grades 9-12 (high school students, in other words; ages ~15-18). It’s… surprisingly comprehensive, to be honest. Oh, there’s some fluffy propaganda – “Do you have what it takes to be a SEAL?”, for instance – but it manages to cover a remarkably wide variety of subjects, some of which you wouldn’t necessarily expect to see in high school.
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Published in: Geekiness, General, Security | on December 1st, 2009 | Comments Off on Careers in Homeland Security