Announcing Transvasive Security!
I'm pleased to announce that my professional site is finally launching!
I'll be posting articles, hopefully about once per week, to transvasive.com, and my twitter feed should be replicated on the front page as well. (soon) The site is really bare-bones right now, but I'm hoping to fix that as well, over time.
Finally, I've added a direct link to the news block on the sidebar of technomagik.net, for your convenience, and mine. (I'm guessing mostly mine)
The power of Google Street View
I recently started watching AMC's new series Rubicon. It's a great show, a political conspiracy mystery that draws inspiration from movies such as All the President's Men, Three Days of the Condor, and The Parallax View. One of the things I like about the show is that it (so far) avoids (obvious) exposition, which forces the viewer to figure out what's going on, much like one of my favorite films, Primer.
Specifically, the setting of the show is never explicitly mentioned - but it's clear from context that it's on the east coast, and not Washington, DC. I was thinking, maybe Boston? Well, a couple of nights ago I decided to do some research. With help from Google, it became clear the setting was New York, thanks to the "Putnam station" reference. Doing some more digging, with Google maps, I found a couple of streets mentioned; Front St and South St, both in lower Manhattan. Thanks to Street View, I was able to quickly narrow down possible locations for the "American Policy Institute" office building, and found the address: 40 Fletcher St.
Besides being pleased that I was able to find the building that plays API on TV, I was struck by how powerful Google Street View is. If the right right visual references are there, you should be able to identify where a video was taken using Street View alone. Cool.
...And We're Baaack!!
So, after a record-breaking FIVE YEAR lapse in posts, I'm actually starting to write again, both personally and professionally. I should say professionally and personally; since my interest in writing professionally has sparked my interest in restarting technomagik.net.
The xml-weblog software is in bad need of overhaul and updating, but it still works, I may pick up work on it again sometime, but for now, I'm focusing on writing.
My professional blog hasn't yet launched, but will hopefully be launching soon. In the interim, you can follow me on twitter. (@transvasive - you can also follow my personal account, @jbenninghoff).
Classic Geek Drinking Games
So, I'm back from my holiday hiatus.
Just a quick one this afternoon: Anyone remember the classic Star Trek:TNG drinking game that was popularized ~1991? Back then I was still in college, and although nobody I knew ever even considered playing it (you try to keep track of a several-page list of actions to drink to, while getting drunk and watching a TV show) I have fond memories of reading down the list, chuckling at classic ST:TNG jokes such as:
A new alien has latex on its forehead: 1 drink
A new alien doesn't have latex on its forehead: 2 drinks
Klingon is spoken: 1 drink
English is spoken by Klingons when they are alone and have no reason to speak English: 2 drinks
Data uses a contraction: whole beverage
But, there's my personal favorite, especially because we know it will never happen...
Wesley swallows really hard: 1 drink
Wesley has his life threatened: 2 drinks
Wesley has his life threatened and he dies: Party like it's 1999!
Good Bad Attitude
I recently came across an excellent essay by Paul Graham. (by way of a post on Slashdot) in it, Paul, the author of Hackers and Painters, discusses why hackers are concerned about recent developments in intellectual property law & civil liberties, and why this is an important warning sign for all of us. Although you can certainly disagree with his conclusions (although I don't), he does make an interesting and novel argument. Check it out.
A little bit of Advocacy
OK, here's a link for all you die-hard PC users: from none other than AnandTech, the hard-core PC geeks' home. A Month with a Mac: A Die-Hard PC User's Perspective is a review by a longtime PC user who spent a month using a G5. The reviewer does a good job of writing a well-balanced, realistic and objective review of OS X and Apple hardware. It has some valid complaints (hardware cost, safari performance, lack of games) but is generally quite positive, and points out a number of things OS X does better. (memory use/caching, drag-and-drop, expose!)
The article sums up the experience with the position that while OS X is "a very strong platform," it is a tough sell, due to some missing pieces; games, missing applications (like Blackberry support), and price. I must agree on the price issue: a $3000 desktop is awfully expensive, especially when compared to what you can get in the x86 world. However, I would offer an alternative suggestion: instead of buying a $3000 G5, buy a ($1600-$2800) PowerBook or even an ($1000-$1500) iBook instead - while there's definitely a premium on desktops, Apple laptops (their biggest selling computers) are much more price competitive. For fun, try pricing a PowerBook and a similarly outfitted Dell (Latitude) Laptop - you'll find that the PowerBook is actually cheaper. Compare the $2000 15-inch PowerBook vs a comparably equipped Latitude D800 - it's $208 more with XP Home, $268 with XP Pro, and is 2 pounds heavier.
OS X Trojan development moves forward
As seen on Slashdot: Apple. It appears that the first IRC-bot style trojan has now been spotted in the wild. From the first comment posted on the MacInTouch page, it's clear that the bot is still early in its development cycle: currently it does a good job of taking over the system, adding backdoors, remote control software, a keystroke monitor, and steals passwords and serial #s, putting them in a hidden public share.
Gmail adds Atom feeds
This (below) has to be one of the absolute coolest (hidden) features of Gmail... now I have a good reason to start using it ... I'd still want IMAP support, though, and I'd even pay for it. However, it looks like Google just added forwarding support, which is good enough for now.
P@ Sunglasses: Gmail adds Atom feeds: "From Steve Rubel I learnt that Gmail added an atom feed to read the emails from your Gmail account in a RSS aggregator... Your RSS aggregator must support https and basic auth." Which of course, NetNewsWire does! (Thank you, Brent!)
PS. You can email me at my-first-inital+my-last-name @ gmail.com. (Leave out the +)
If you haven't checked out FactCheck.org yet, now is the time to do so - before November 2. Sick and tired of political spin, untruths and factual distortions? FactCheck is for you!!!
OK, I admit this is more Politics than News, but I don't have a "Politics" category yet...
Update: I have added a "Politics" category.
Bruce Schnier on Wholesale Surveillance and the Psychology of Terror
While perusing Bruce Schneier's new weblog, Schneier on Security, (I'm a long time Crypto-Gram subscriber) I found that a couple of issues he raises this month really resonate with the upcoming election. First, an analysis of the psychology of terror alerts, and the follow-up ... the move towards "wholesale" surveillance.