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Comment Re:Google's airport (Score 1) 86

Just to clarify for other readers, you post makes it sound like "NASA Doesn't do much" at NASA ARC.

I work at ARC, and it's a wonderful research facility! In just my short time here I've been involved with groups doing pioneering work in computer science and robotics, supercomputing, avionics, aviation safety, cockpit design, UAVs (for science, not war!), earth science, biology, astrophysics, planetary discovery, and so much more!!

NASA Kepler, which just found a "twin" earth (Google: Kepler 22-b) was begun here, and the science operations are still performed here.

Quite a lot of great stuff comes out of NASA Ames, for a very small overall price tag.

Comment Re:Houston, we have a serious security problem... (Score 3, Insightful) 45

Hi all; I actually work for NASA as an IT Security guy.

While I can't answer specifics about this incident, you should remember that a great many things done by NASA are "General Science", and the data output from them is specifically and consciously made public.

It's possible that the FTP server is meant to be serving those files "to the public".

Why FTP instead of SFTP? Usually when you choose to make data public to the world, you don't bother implementing crypto on the data. And just because it's available via FTP for distribution, does not mean insecure FTP was used to *place* the data on the server.

Comment "What is a datacenter?" (Score 2, Insightful) 246

Before everyone gets all spun up on government waste, inefficiency, etc - I'd like to point out that numbers like these are never accurate. (For the record, I work for the feds, in the IT field).

The problem with "The feds have X datacenters" as a metric is that various audits occur at different times and by different auditors. These auditors almost always have differing definitions for what a datacenter actually is.

In one audit, a group can come through and define "Datacenter" as a big room where servers are co-located and services run on behalf of others. They'll find 2 at my center. Then a year later, a different group comes in and defines "Datacenter" as anywhere that more than 5 computers are running and left on all night. They'll find 200 at my center. Yes, this actually happened! The auditors came through dozens of science labs, found project servers sitting in the labs, and labeled each lab a datacenter.

Now here is the trick to why the statistics are complete mush. A normal IT guy would walk through the lab and say "Hey, that server should be in a datacenter!" -- but the auditors make the reverse conclusion. "Hey, this lab is a datacenter".

Yes, there is waste in the federal sphere and we absolutely need to take action to be more efficient at all levels. However, this article is basically pushing a number that came from someones' imagination, and pretending it's meaningful.

Comment Re:Firefox/Chrome extension? (Score 1) 149

Duh, how could I not think of a prompt + whitelist. :P

Then again, that presents the "NoScript" problem. While techies generally tend to use noscript, I pretty much see non-techies clicking "Temporarily allow all this page" on every page they visit that "doesn't work right" without even looking at the URL lists. So, a prompt to whitelist content would probably just get the same treatment. Better than status quo I suppose, but not a panacea either.

Comment Re:Saw Stop is great (Score 3, Informative) 631

One of the well documented problems is that if you cut wood that is "too wet" then the brake will activate, thinking that it's hit flesh.

So really the article should say "Each time you cut wood that's too damp (which you have no way to determine beforehand) you pay $169 to replace the blade and brake". That puts into focus why some woodworkers who know how to be careful do not WANT the safety feature.

Comment Re:Simulation of the results follows (Score 1) 73

Sounds like an excellent idea for foreign espionage. Set up a private shell company, then invite a bunch of former officials who know exactly how the real systems work, to get together in a hotel you've bugged and start pretending they're responding to a cyber attack of some sort.

Official1: "Call the NSA Task force Orange, tell them to begin operation Stork."
ForeignAgent: (making notes) Operation Stork.... NSA... means X..."

Comment Re:Is NASA suffering from mission creep? (Score 2, Interesting) 55

There's another important factor in the paranoia about data breaches and risk that's often VERY overlooked.

As part of the chain of responsibility, the CIO community (the individual CIOs at the 11 NASA centers, and the federal CIOs in general) are very risk-averse. Why might that be? Well, in addition to the normal slamming your agency has to endure if there's a data/privacy breach, the CIOs and decision makers may also be civilly or criminally liable for negligence if it can be shown that they were permitting workplace practices that went against federal regulations. A few CIOs that I know are actually carrying personal liability insurance (out of their own pockets) to cover themselves in case such accusations are leveled.

Now, imagine you're the person tasked with pushing the envelope technologically (Hey, it's what NASA does) but the only thing your bosses ever remind you of is that it's your ass on the line if anything is ever breached, inappropriately stored or transmitted, etc -- and that fines and jail time aren't out of the question. That's enough to make someone pretty risk-averse!

Comment Re:Is NASA suffering from mission creep? (Score 2, Informative) 55

To follow up on this (Disclaimer: I am a NASA employee), NASA and other federal agencies are prohibited by policy and law from transmitting or storing many of our data types on non-government owned hardware and networks. (Transmitting of course can be done if it's tightly encrypted). Processing our data on private servers is strictly prohibited in many cases.

The most frequently cited laws and policies which dictate this are FISMA and OMB M-06-16, but there are many others. Employees are even prohibited from doing team collaboration with things like Google Docs, because information which is not yet deemed to be sensitive (say, an immature design for a propulsion system) might become very sensitive, and once it's "out" it is out for good.

Like it or not, there's a lot of other countries with developing missile programs, communications programs and many other technologies which have dual civilian and military use, and NASA is charged by congress with keeping technology that may have military applications out of foreign hands.

If Nebula is able to perform as well as clouds such as EC2 and the like, and allow NASA and other federal agencies to do cloud style processing within the government sector, it could save HUGE amounts of taxpayer money that's otherwise legally obligated to be "Wasted".

Comment Re:Well, then... (Score 1) 735

I'm an IT Security guy, and am part of a union. Our parent organization is the IFPTE -- International Federation of Professional Trade Engineers. I'm sure you could contact them about unionization at your workplace if you think you need to organize.

Comment Soekris Net55501 + m0n0wall (Score 1) 376

I've had fantastic luck with m0n0wall on a Soekris Net5501 box - The hardware was basically built for routing, switching and firewalling and m0n0wall is a great distribution.

Hit for info on the products. (I have no financial connection whatsoever, just a satisfied customer)

Comment Re:You can't teach people who don't want to learn (Score 2, Insightful) 932

Sounds like you both enjoy poking fun at each other and bickering about inconsequential things. Assuming this doesn't rise to the level of genuine arguments (like couch guy below) I say it sounds like a normal and healthy relationship. Just thought you might appreciate the thought after all the other comments soon to follow.

(5 year wedding anniversary 2 weeks ago, goin' on 9 years together, bicker like it's been 80)

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