Criminals Steal House Thanks To Hacked Email
Lennie Briscoe was working on this care in 2003:
Elderly man owns his Harlem brownstone free and clear. Some scammer steals his identity on line, takes out a second mortgage on the house, hides the money, loan goes into default, bank forecloses, real owner is out on the street.
Then he finds scammer and kills him. Which is kind of interesting, since the victim is 79 years old in the story.
So, if they're doing it on prime time TV in 2003, it's not a story today. No matter where it happened.
"Choose Your Own Adventure" On Your iPhone
I understand it's popular in some cities like New York and San Francisco.
I hear it's called "Get a Decent Signal Adventure."
The problem is no matter how many times you go back, the story ends the same way. You're dead.
NSA and the National Cryptologic Museum
1>> Well, one should expect this when one is within shouting distance of one of the most secure buildings in the world. The same thing sometimes occurs near other buildings in the DC region. But Fort Meade? You're lucky you get stuff on your car radio.
2>> I work at that big five-sided building a few miles up the road from the NSA site. I was working a recent Saturday and on my way into the building, I spotted a small contingent of tourists from a friendly foreign nation (at least I hope they're still friendly) happily snapping away at group shots with the building in the background (including an entrance area). Also being captured in the photo was a large sign that said "Photography Prohibited", along with an image of a camera with the circled red line (I thought that was the international symbol for "NO"). I noticed one of the building's uniformed security personnel approaching, and helpfully pointed out the sign to the photographer. One of the group spoke a little English, at least enough to explain what was up...apparently, they just didn't see the sign.
What's ironic about this is that there's a heavily-visited memorial park right outside the building, and photos are permitted there...even if you're facing the building itself. My guess is that those signs have been there for a long time (the memorial only opened in 2008), and they're still itchy about people photographing entrances and access point to the building.
3>> Don't porn sites do this as well? Their gift shop management is likely contracted out.
4>> Subsidized with your tax dollars. I worked in a secure building with access restricted to certain people, and the soda machines in there sold canned brand-name drinks for fifty cents. In the "open" building across the parking lot, they were a buck.
The Recovery Disc Rip-Off
1. Download/burn free ISO for (insert FOSS operating system name here).
2. Insert in optical drive.
3. Wipe, format, install.
4. Store (insert FOSS operating system name here) disk for later use.
5. Demand refund for Windows license from vendor (optional).
So, where's the problem?
Nexus One a Failed Experiment In Online Sales
I began considering the Nexus when Google first introduced it. Like most others, I was unsure because of the $529 price tag. My wife and daughter were also in the market for new phones. Having already owned an HTC G1, the question of Android performance was never an issue (I paid full price for that phone, too).
The issue for me was contracts. My contract with T-Mobile had expired, and I wasn't willing to lock into another one. T-Mobile had also just introduced some new no-contract plans, so I did some math.
I ran the numbers for getting a two-year contract with two new MyTouch 3Gs at the $149 subsidized price. I wanted an unlimited everything plan. Then I looked at the same idea, only I'd buy the MyTouch phones at retail ($399 each). with their no-contract Even More Plus plan. Over the course of the same two years, I would pay $500 *less* for the phones and the service, without a lock-in. Not only that, T-Mobile made me a great offer: if I purchased the phones in a retail store, I could pay $20 down on each, plus the sales tax (about $50 total for both phones), and then pay the phones off at $20 per month each, added to my bill, with no interest. I could pay off the phones at any time.
That $500 savings justified the cost of the Nexus. The girls love their MyTouch devices, and the Nexus is probably the best phone I've ever owned. I've already rooted and modded it. Buying it unlocked was a plus, especially when I traveled to Europe a few weeks ago: slip in a local SIM and off I went.
Perhaps I'm fortunate in that buying the phone at full price is something I can do, but the sales model is something that makes sense. I can see this becoming more common in the future: manufacturers create the devices, make them workable on multiple carriers (especially for data between AT&T and T-Mobile in the US), sell them unlocked and let people just pick a carrier and buy a plan.
Then again, I know what I want. I don't necessarily need to touch something to see it's value.
Gamer Wins $1M For Pitching Virtual "Perfect Game"
...the "winner" of this contest throws like a girl.
Excuse me, there's a woman from N.O.W. at my front door...
CBS and CNN Could Be Making News Together
CBS News is in the ratings tank, despite paying buckets of money to people like Katie Couric, one of the worst "news reporters" in television history. No one is watching there.
CNN's prime-time news show ratings are routinely beaten by cable infomercials shown at three in the morning. Nothing there either.
So, they're going to merge and hope this raises ratings?
What could possibly go wrong?
Palin Email Snoop Found Guilty On 2 Charges
...that Palin will ask the judge and the prosecutor to not give the guy any jail time, but maybe a few years probation and some community service.
I doubt throwing the guy in jail was a goal in this action.
Mark my words on this.
In Defense of Jailbreaking
T-Mobile is probably the closest thing the U.S. has to the European phone market, but among U.S. nationwide carriers, it has the worst signal coverage.
I would argue your last point. Having been a T-Mo customer for a long time, perhaps I'm biased, but my recent experiences tell me otherwise. I have a Nexus One with their unlimited, no-contract plan, and I'm getting strong, solid HSDPA data signals in a variety of U.S. East Coast locations, specifically, NYC/Long Island, the D.C. region and northeast Florida, near Jacksonville. I have experienced some locations where the phone signal is weak from time-to-time, but what carrier doesn't have that issue?
This is in contrast to a number of my cultish iPhone-loving friends who bitch to me constantly as to how terrible their service is in New York City.
I find it interesting that people believe this about T-Mobile's signals, but you never see the other carriers compare their services to T-Mobile's. Ever.
Maybe I've been fortunate. But no one is that lucky.
Microsoft's CoApp To Help OSS Development, Deployment
...there's a lot more ice here in Hell than I would have imagined.
Apple's iPhone Developer License Agreement Revealed
Apple is now Microsoft.
Cell Phone Data Predicts Movement Patterns
I learned this four years ago on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.
Those T.A.R.U. guys are some smart coppers.
Benson and Stabler know where every perv in New York is located.
Which Linux For Non-Techie Windows Users?
Mint is based on the Ubuntus, so it has access to the same software repositories.
The installer is pretty much the same as Ubuntu's, which means it's easy.
The one thing that Mint has over regular Ubuntus is that the Mint builders have included all the non-free, somewhat-proprietary stuff about which most FOSS purists get their panties in a twist. Having been a Linux user since the beginning, I agree with and fully support the idea of FOSS, GPLs and the like. In theory, it's wonderful, and it's brought a great set of computing tools to the world. But the Richard Stallman-influenced world of "only fully free is acceptable" makes no sense in the real world (well, maybe in Stallman's world), especially among the people the poster is attempting to assist.
Most Windows users/converts want stuff to just work. Leaving out multimedia codecs because someone has a copyright on it or because you're offended by the license restrictions doesn't help the user who doesn't understand those lofty concepts. Yes, people can learn about and and decide for themselves, and yes, hopefully, someone will come along and develop fully-free, GPL'ed versions of all the offending tools. But, in the meantime, people want their shit to work.
Mint comes as close to this environment as you're going to get. You do a basic install, and everything works out of the box, including just about any multimedia content you can throw at it. And the standard install has all the things you need: a messenger tool, Thnderbird for mail, multiple browsers (including Firefox), and office suites for all the Powerpoint stuff (OpenOffice is there by default).
I can recommend the KDE Community Edition for a number of reasons, the most important of which is that the KDE 4.3 setup in Mint 8 will provide a very comfortable interface for someone transitioning from Windows. Yes, people will have to learn a few things, like which app does which thing, but even the menu design will make that simple. The familiar toolbar is there, pretty much the way you described it, and adding desktop and toolbar widgets is a snap. This is a feature that will be a kick to a lot of new users.
There's no question that you might run into some issues with really exotic hardware, but those instances are becoming rarer by the day. As for customization, well, there's a lot built in for changing the look-and-feel around, and there's a lot of skins and themes available with a simple download.
With a very active on-line community, there are few issues that can't be solved.
Have a look at the LiveCD and see if you agree. I believe most of these users will be very pleased.
Navigating a Geek Marriage?
1. Love one another. That's #1 and it always will be. If there is no mutual love, nothing else matters. Your definition and feelings about love (yes, it's about feelings, not just logic or chemical reactions) might be different from hers, but it's not definable anyway. You'll both know it when you have it. Keep it.
2. Stop reading the books. Books are bullshit. The relationship you create with one another is far beyond what can be defined within the squared-off parameters of some outsider's perspective or opinions. All you're doing is making the people who write those useless things a little more wealthy. In fact, you probably should not be listening to anyone on this site about this, including me, but I'm not charging you. Just remember what I say may be worth what you're paying for it. When all the books talk about "compatibility" and the like, they're ignoring the incredible relationships of polar opposites...I think of Mary Matalin and James Carville as a public example. In my own family, I see a couple who are as politically opposite as you can get, but they worship one another. Sometimes, it's not about being compatible, but loving and accepting someone, even if they're different.
3. Here's some man advice: listen. Trust me on this one...don't ever shut her off, no matter how boring the subject matter is, and especially if she wants to vent (yes, even about you). You can have your say when the time comes, but you have to learn to listen to her, showing interest in what she has to say. Always. Even if you don't agree. If you can do this, it will go a long way to your marriage lasting forever. This doesn't mean caving in or compromising. She needs to do the same thing. But men seem to have an issue with this...believe me, I do at times...but this is something that most women wish their men did better. Doing it isn't difficult. The effort you make will be appreciated in spades.
4. Remember that things work both ways. It's a marriage, not a game. You don't push the stick and expect her to move the way you want when you want. Same thing for her. If you like something, tell her. Then find out what she likes and do it. In all things, from movies to leisure to TV to sex. Everything. You cannot get the things you want from a relationship if you're not willing to share that responsibility. Neither can she.
5. If you value your relationship and you truly love her, be ready for fight for her, hard. I hope that you never have a reason to do this, but you have to be willing to give it all up for her if that moment comes. I'm not speaking just of "fighting" in the physical sense, but emotionally, romantically, spiritually, whatever. In the end, the fight may be futile, but you have to be willing to go as far as necessary if you value the relationship and want to preserve it, even save it. Some people stay together a long, long time, both knowing that love and devotion are there. But sometimes, one party doesn't realize the depths of love and devotion the other has, because words and physical gestures are not often enough to express it. The day may come when you really have to reach down for this, so be prepared for it.
Now, the cynics here might read this and laugh and call it bullshit, but I'm just trying to offer some words based on my personal experiences. Just for disclosure's sake, I'm the geek (professionally) and she's a school administrator. She's not a "geek" in the usual definitions of the term, but she's smart, beautiful, and a superb human being. I am as devoted to her now as I was when I first saw her, 36 years ago, when we were seniors in high school. Next month will be our 30th wedding anniversary. Hope that's evidence of experience.
Can Bill Gates Prevent the Next Katrina?
...for a number of years (though I'm an IT guy, not a meteorologist), I learned enough to know that not only is this doomed to failure, they should already know that it's not scientifically possible.
How in the name of God are they going to generate the energy needed to cool the water at "greater" ocean depths? The would have to launch a fleet of ships far greater then they can possibly imagine.
Not only does this appear to be scientifically and logistically improbable, but have they ever considered the issues with screwing with global weather patterns? Stopping hurricanes (or, in reality, stopping their potential capability for damage to humans and land structures) is a noble dream, but every weather even had both positive and negative affects on other weather patterns, events that we actually may want to occur.
He would be better off taking all the money he'd invest in this silliness and hand it over to people in hurricane-damaged areas so they can rebuild. Or move.
Emigrating To a Freer Country?
You included some kind of apprehension of a "Conservative" government taking over power in the UK. As someone who is politically conservative in the US, I can't help but wonder why that would be a factor. I'm not the smartest man in the world, but it looks to me as though many of the privacy issues you have have been put in place by the current Liberal government.
But if the Conservatives really frighten you that much, I'd avoid coming you the US. The liberal government in place here now is doing a really fine job of eroding many of our rights, including many related to what a person does, in private, with their own income, health care and automotive choices. Hell, our congress just partially approved legislation that would make all living creatures in America polluters, since they believe that if you're a carbon-based life form, you're destroying the environment.
Nonetheless, things are getting bad here now, and I expect that the tide is going to turn the other way in the next few years. I'm predicting lots of liberal/Democratic/"progressives" will be tossed out in the mid-term elections, and Barak Obama will be shown the door after one term.
So, you might want to scratch the US from your short list.
Verified Identity Pass Shuts Down "Clear" Operations
Hers's how it works.
The Clear or PT customer provides a bunch of information for a TSA background check, along with verifiable identification. A birth certificate or passport are the only primary IDs they accept, along with some official photo ID.
After you sign up on line, you print out a form and go to the enrollment counter at the airport that has the service. They scan your irises and all fingertips. The data is then sent to Clear and burned to a chip on a smart card. The chip has the biometrics data and the necessary keys. The second issue of cards had a photo on them as well (the originals didn't).
When you arrive at the Clear/PT gate, you show your boarding pass and inset your card into the reader. (The PT folks a Jacksonville would usually take the card and insert it after checking the photo. The Clear folks at Reagan always asked the customer to insert the card). When prompted, you placed a finger on the reader, the system scanned it, read the chip, verified you and you were on the way. If the finger scanner couldn't get a good read, they'd scan the iris instead.
Once you're done, you proceed through the line.
I've read some comments here about the service at some airports, but my experiences have always been very positive. The Clear employees at Reagan couldn't have been more polite and helpful, and the early morning lady at the PT line in Jacksonville got to know me on a first-name basis.
As for the advantages of the service, yes, you do have to do the shoes/metal/laptop bit and step through whatever scanner they use. You have to do the same things as everyone else in the other lines. But you don't have the wait as you make the turtle crawl through those lines with the families and their obnoxious kids or the irregular travelers who haven't figured out the rules yet (despite the presence of shouting TSA agents telling them what to do).
Call me an elitist, but I travel a lot, usually when I'm pretty tired, and considering the lack of fun in getting on and off planes, the faster I wade through that shit, the happier I'll be.
I have travel routine. I do certain things *prior* to arriving at the gate (even the airport) that I know will get me to where I'm going faster. I really don't wish to put the brakes on that because of rambunctious children, strollers, and elderly people who decide to save the baggage check fees by carrying *everything* on the plane.
It's bad enough waiting after boarding (or simply trying to get down the aisle while boarding) because some idiot filled up his rollaway suitcase so it's just a little to big to fit in the overhead without forcing it in with a crowbar, while the rest of the boarding passengers line up, waiting for you to clear the aisle.
My big issue is traveling on Monday mornings. I live 45 minutes from the airport, and my departure times are usually between 6:30 and 7:30 AM, depending on the airline. Knowing that my wife and I can stay in bed an extra 30 minutes makes that service worthwhile.
There's also a lot of whining here by the so-called "privacy concerned" regarding what's going to happen to the data, or why the "government" has to use the data, or why the TSA sucks, or whatever.
First of all, as far as the TSA and their work is concerned, it is what it is. I wish it was better, or unnecessary, but there they are, and I need to get through them to get on a plane. So I deal with it. This service helps. I've personally never had an issue with them, my bags, or anything since I started using this service.
Second, the information you provide clear is no more intrusive than the information anyone can retrieve on you for the cost of a background check fee. They ask you name, address, phone number, a few other background details, they ask to see a birth certificate or passport and some kind of official photo ID. I don't recall having to provide any information to them that I would consider particularly intrusive. Hell, I had to give up a LOT more information about myself to get my current security clearance from the DOD.
Third, the information is given voluntarily by me. If someone, like you privacy whiners, doesn't want anyone having this information, don't sign up for service like this. If I'm willing to do this and pay for the privilege of skipping the cattle drive through the security lines, it's my money, right?
Verified Identity Pass Shuts Down "Clear" Operations
I signed up for Clear last year. I live in northeast Florida but work in DC, so I fly to and from Jacksonville to Reagan in DC or BWI up in Baltimore. Reagan and Dulles had Clear lines, BWI does not.
In Jacksonville, the service was there prior to Clear. Called Preferred Traveler, it's operated by a company called Vigilant Solutions. They always accepted my Clear credential. I contacted their office this morning via email and was informed that they are still operating and will continue to accept Clear's card at their gates. If you look at the list of their participating airports on their site, you'll see a long list. I don't know if these are their exclusive locations or ones that include Clear's lines, since I know Clear accepted their credentials as well.
The Clear shutdown news was a shock...I thought the email I received last night was a joke or spam, until I verified the news at their website.
Fortunately for me, I can still use my card where I need to most frequently: flying out of Jacksonville on Monday mornings. The regular security lines there can be brutally long, and using the Preferred Traveler line saves me more than 30 minutes of waiting. I can sleep later, the wife can sleep later, and I'm getting to my gate with no pressure. Worth every penny.
My hope is that some enterprising company steps in and take over Clear's operations. The service is really great.
How Do IT Guys Get Respect and Not Become BOFHs?
I was the IT department head at a small Navy command from 1998 through 2006 (my position was eliminated via cutbacks...now I'm a contractor). I had small staffs of one or two guys over that time, but spent a few years slugging it out alone. I had many of the same issues you do, perhaps not with the intensity you've experienced. Navy enlisted folks, for the most part, tended to treat me respectfully, and the officer corps and senior staff nearly always knew better than to get on my bad side.
Every person who came to this command had to sit through a face-to-face IT brief with me. I gently explained what they could and couldn't do, how to report problems, etc. They signed off on the brief so I know they got it and I had a record of it.
Occasionally, I had some assholes who insisted on being...well, assholes...and breaking the rules. My policy was to sit down with them privately and explain that they did sign a document saying they understood the rules. I would also gently confront them with the problem they were causing, and I would ask them not to do it again. Then, I'd follow up. Still a problem? Disable their account, send a report up the chain. The fireworks would usually start (especially among the officers) when I shut them down...they'd run to the executive officer and piss like kittens about their access, at which point the XO would show them my message. Then he'd call me in, and we'd have it out in front behind closed doors. I always won. One or two incidents like this usually stopped them completely.
I had a set of policies that were outside the "official" IT instructions, but they were mine nonetheless:
- We have a trouble ticket reporting system on the command web site. That's where all problems get reported. It's a simple form, fill out details, I'll contact you. How quickly depends on emergency level. This didn't apply to my boss (the XO) or the unit Commanding Officer. But they rarely had problems.
- I don't deal with problems that you tell me when I'm walking down the hall or working on something else. I'll listen, but you need to post a trouble ticket. That's the only way I can track and prioritize issues. If you tell me and don't report it properly, don't complain when it doesn't get fixed.
- Make sure they understand that the computers and the network don't belong to them. I used to tell my folks that all the IT stuff belonged to me, because someone in the Navy chain put me in charge of it. If they want to do stuff you don't want them doing, explain that they can do that stuff at home. Not on your network. Then cut them off if they insist.
- Use all the security and administrative tools you have at your disposal. I hate working with Windows, but my experience with their servers and domains was that you have a slew of security tools built in that can cut out pretty much all behavior you don't like. Document all your policies (especially for you own sanity - you need a way to remember how to undo stuff!), and make sure they understand them clearly.
I've always found that violators of my rules tend to get upset when they can't get to their stuff or find their passwords being reset every six hours. Sometimes you have to get their attention.
By the way, make sure you get away from the desk for a while during the day, even if it's just to go outside for a short walk or stretch. Just getting some non-office air in your lungs and stretching the back, legs and arms will make you feel a lot better.
I don't do sysadmin stuff now. I'm a web apps developer, a contractor, I get paid very well (a high security clearance helps), and my job has little of the stress and responsibilities I had before. This is much better.
Keeping a PC Personal At School?
Hey, can I borrow your phone to call my mom on the opposite coast? You have free long distance, right?
Hey, I need to send my gf a few text messages...
Hey, can I borrow your thumb drive, I need to save this file...
Hey, I need to go pick up the gang for the big pool party at my apartment complex. Can I borrow your car? We're going to stop for beer on the way...
You're being a nice guy. I would not be so nice. If you can bring a laptop to school, your friends can do the same thing. Guest account or no, somehow, someday, you're going to loan that thing to some clown who's going to wind up infecting your box with something. and you're left holding the bag.
The next thing you know, you're loaning people your house and your girlfriend.
I would just polite and explain to them that you have some sensitive stuff on the system and no guest account. End of explanation. You don't owe anyone any reason why you won't just hand over your personal life.