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Security

Journal: EFax clueless security

Journal by cbelt3
This morning I got an email from e-fax. I signed up with them years ago, and have kept a 'free' efax number 'just in case'. It's nice that they let me do that, and, of course, you get what you pay for.
Much to my horror, the email had a nice little html shunk embedded into it that looked like the efax login screen. In the login screen was my efax number (the fax number is your userid), and a password that looked like *****. Hmm.
A quick source check showed my password embedded into the HTML. NOT Encrypted. Not PGP'd. Just sitting there.
Excuuuse me !!!
I wonder how many users are going to get hacked as a result ?
User Journal

Journal: Story Submissions

Journal by cbelt3
Hmm- Am I just not cool enough ? I keep getting rejected for story submissions. One of mine was rejected, and someone else posted the same story with minor differences.... That sucks !
Education

Journal: Ubiquitous Computing = Ubiquitous Expense

Journal by cbelt3
The CNN report on the Campus computing experience of West Virginia Wesleyan caused me to think back to Clifford Stoll's book Silicon Snake Oil . While the huge investment that WVW made is beginning to pay off in terms of buzz and nicely formatted papers , I wonder what it did to the structure of the college. I've seen other 'computerize it now !' initiatives that sucked funding from the basics in other schools, and I wondered- in a non-technical institution, is bleeding edge technology a learning enabler, or a self-perpetuating expensive tool with no intrinsic value ?
Security

Journal: On Hold Music = Mind Control ?

Journal by cbelt3
I'm working with the "Immigration Services" (Rebadged as CIS (sounds like a TV show ?) and part of the Homeland Security Department ). Their on-hold music is so incredibly repetetively new age that when the nice lady (really, she was very helpful and nice) finally came on, I had to back out of my hypnotic trance... Is the musical selection deliberate to keep us calm on hold ? I assume it is...
User Journal

Journal: AutoVu is watching you !

Journal by cbelt3
Recent announcements in my town (Cue the flaming river jokes !) about this technology from AutoVu gave me pause. It seems that the Cleveland cops are planning on buying a van for around $80K, and running it around town all day. The van will read everyone's license plate, and alert the driver when it sees one on the 'parking scofflaw' listing. In a radio interview on our local NPR station, one administrator said "We miss collecting around $1.7 M in parking tickets each year. This van will pay for itself right away." In trials, they bagged one poor turkey with over $3,000 in unpaid fines. So pay that ticket, Cleveland, 'cause they're watching you ! And if you live away from the North Coast, they're watching you in Chicago, Boston, Vancouver, etc. ...
Science

Journal: Train Traffic integrated with Turtle Traffic in Boston

Journal by cbelt3
While reviewing the Boston.com web site complaining about traffic during this weeks Democratic National Convention, I came across this little Gem "We've outfitted them with GPS trackers" said James Eng, director of construction for Greenbush. ''We know exactly where they are going to cross.'' What I want to know is- what do they do when the baby turtles hatch ?
User Journal

Journal: Hacked by the Gummint ! ?

Journal by cbelt3
Well this was just cool. I got on the broadband this morning, and the cheap ass Belkin router was acting a little funky. So I went into the config web page to check it out. Lo and behold "This router is being administered by 140.6.20.2 ". WTFH ? OK, I'm being fu*scked with. Pulled the enet plug from the cable modem, power cycled the router. Changed its password to a more complex one. Checked config- nope, it's not supposed to be controllable from outside. WTF ? Plugged in the cable modem. Back on the web, and decided to do an arin.net whois check. Cool ! The gummint is hacking me ! Ended the day by sending the admin a quick email indicating that they've got a bot someplace. Can I write a book and go on the lecture tour now ? Or do I just get a Bitch Slap for being a newbie ?
Apple

Journal: Apple Releases Rendezvous Tech for Linux,Java, Windows

Journal by cbelt3
While a long time Mac user, I have not really had the need or ability to use the Rendezvous technology built into OSX. But with Apple's announcement that they are releasing the Zeroconf Group based Rendezvous technology into the "Big Three" environments (Linux, Java, Windows), I begin to see some additional opportunities. So, /. crowd- will you use this technology ? Will it replace ICANN and the existing DNS networks ? Will it replace existing P2P technologies ?
User Journal

Journal: SMC antennas and truth in Advertising

Journal by cbelt3
Picked up an SMC antenna at a local Micro Center. The box advertised "includes adapters that work with ALL wireless cards and access points". I checked their web site- it said the same thing. Cool, thought I ! BOGUS ! Said I when I opened the box and saw the two little pigtails attached. No MCX connector for my Apple Airport Extreme base station. No MC Card connector for my Lucent Orinoco PCMCIA Card. No MC Card connector for my Apple Airport Card (which is basically the same beast without the external antenna). So now I'm duking it out on Truth in Advertising with the young Indian rep for SMC. I wonder if I'll get anywhere.
User Journal

Journal: wds is weird design shit

Journal by cbelt3
Playing with WDS on a client's apple airport extreme base station setup. I finally realized the problem was one of antenna structure- the base station needs to be mounted horizontally, not vertically the way the nice little wall mounting gizmo shows. It also means that the density of the base stations needs to be higher to make it work. Hmm. in short, if you plugged an Apple Airport Express base station into every room in the manse, we could saturate with WDS signals without having too much trouble. That would be cool. Now if Apple will come up with a design that can be embedded in a wall switch or power socket, and left pretty much alone forever. We could wire up the houses during rough-in. No Cat5 to run, just replace the tech every 3-5 years. Besides, Cat5 will be old hat in a couple of years, but fiber just isn't standard enough to run. We keep pushing copper....
User Journal

Journal: NED- or the "O Shit Chip"

Journal by cbelt3
Back when I was designing whippy little circuits for a satellite that - um- well, let's just say it looked at interesting things and had to survive a close strike from a nuke, we found a little chiplet (I think it was from Harris) that was called a "Nuclear Effect Detector". Essentially it sensed the prompt gamma pulse that was emitted from a nuclear fusion/fission explosion, and gave our circuitry enough time to play turtle, and pull itself into it's spiffy little beryllium shell.
Hardware

Journal: Cat 5 and Lightning- Where the hell is the ground/shield ?

Journal by cbelt3
So last week we had an enormouse lightning storm here in Northeast Ohio. And I was in the "Homeland NOC" (my closet) checking the broadband-piped in radar when Zappo ! I saw the lightning flash through the drywalled wall. And I new I was in BIIG trouble. But the PC's and Mac's stayed alive. It was the network that got fried ! that's right- the network. And not through the power. As near as I can tell the dual loop of Cat5 that I have in the attic sucked in enough EMP from the strike to: 1- Fry a telephone attached to one loop. 2- Burn into a little cheapo switch 3- Burn through there into a Cable Modem - and - (sigh) burn up my nice shiny Apple Airport router / base station. So I'm rebuilding the network, and I want to know- why doesn't anyone make a surge supressor for Cat 5e / 100 Base T capable signal lines ? Or Shielded Cat 5 ? Huh ?
User Journal

Journal: Offshore Help Desks- Hi ! I'm Lying to you ! Can I help you

Journal by cbelt3
So I called the AOL help line the other day, and had a nice chat with "Brian". What bothered me about the conversation was that Brian was undoubtably sitting behind a desk in Hyerabad, and his name is most probably NOT "Brian". So what does this tell me ? I mean, c'mon- you go to someone to ask for help, and the FIRST THING THEY DO IS LIE TO YOU ! I'm sorry- I just cannot trust these guys. And maybe it's just my Western Judeo-Christian outlook, but being told by your boss to lie to your customers has got to be a soul-sucking experience.
User Journal

Journal: If Microsoft Made Cars- the BMW iDrive experience redux

Journal by cbelt3
A friend told me about her experience with her husband's BMW 745i, with the full-up flash it when you got it iDrive system that is run with embedded Micro$oft XP. After five 'software upgrades' (including the most recent that completely disabled the entire car, and then deleted all of his laboriously programmed settings, contact information, etc al), monthly 'system crashes' that literally caused the engine to shut down at freeway speeds, and constant ghost-in-the-machine issues, he hired a lawyer. Now the BMW rep is 'considering' taking the car back under the lemon law. I then found bmwproblems.com that compiles some interesting data. What was more telling was the general lack of good techno-dirt on this huge technical failure . This whole thing reads like those great If Microsoft Made Cars ... jokes that we all know and love. It ain't a bitchin V-8 Case Mod !

An update- BMW replaced the car under the Ohio "Lemon Law" with a newer model (2005) a few months ago. It has some peculiarities, but nothing he can't handle. Sounds like the old rule is true:

  • Never, Ever buy the first year of a new model

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