Successful TV surgery!

Friday, December 31, 2010 

John and I swapped parts from two he found and got one that worked and a collection of moar parts!

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Posted at 11:45:36 UTC

Category: Fabricationphoto

Snowmaggeddon

Monday, December 27, 2010 

a snowy arrival in BOS

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But not exactly snowmaggeddon. By the time we got there it was easy to get around.

Posted at 14:16:39 UTC

Category: photoplacestravelweather

Snow in the Grapevine

Sunday, December 26, 2010 

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Posted at 10:43:08 UTC

Category: -

328 for bako

Saturday, December 25, 2010 

Merry Xmas from Hertz

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Posted at 14:17:42 UTC

Category: -

Could This Have Anything To Do With It?

Sunday, December 19, 2010 

Why isn’t my graphics card working any more? Could it be that the fluff has escaped from the cans? The alien chest bursters have fled their little cages? Nobody’s left to paint the pixels except that one, and it’s only still there because it was always the lazy one.

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Update: I got the caps but my solder sucker exploded so I had to replace it before continuing. Those springs go a long way…

Update 2: Fixed.

Posted at 23:55:20 UTC

Category: Fabrication

eat pray love

Wednesday, December 15, 2010 

I get the Julia Roberts is a hot chick, even at her current age, but why… why are they showing Eat Pray Love on the airplane? She’s pretty enough, but the “eat” part is disgusting. Close ups of people eating is a standard trope for illustrating how revolting the super villain is, not a mechanism to make the pretty people seem sensual.

OK, maybe an ice cube is sensual, but stuffing pizza in a huge mouth on screen is just gross. No wonder the movie failed; without sound, this whole movie is Julia Roberts stuffing her gigantic mouth.

Posted at 20:36:32 UTC

Category: filmsNegativereviews

Gaylords is the coolest!

Saturday, December 11, 2010 

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Posted at 15:30:10 UTC

Category: Positivereviews

Moar Privacy

Thursday, December 9, 2010 

I’m using an Ubuntu VM for private browsing, and like many people, I’m stuck using a mainstream OS for much of my work (Win7) due to software availability constraints. But some software works much better in a linux environment and Ubuntu is as pretty as OSX, free, and installs easily on generic x86 hardware.

It is also pretty straightforward to install an isolated and secure browsing instance using VirtualBox. It takes about 20G of hard disk and will use up at least 512K (better 1G) of your system RAM. If you want to run this sort of config, your laptop should have more than enough disk space and RAM to support the extra load without bogging, but it is a very solid solution.

Installing Ubuntu is easy – even easier with an application like VirtualBox – just install virtualbox, download the latest ubuntu ISO, and install from there. If you’re on bare metal, the easiest thing to do is burn a CD and install off that.

Ubuntu desktop comes with Firefox in the tool bar. Customizing for private browsing is a bit more involved.

My first steps are to install:

NoScript is an easy win. It is a bit of a pain to set up at first, but soon you add exceptions for all your favorite sites and while that isn’t great security practice, it is essential for sane browsing. NoScript is particularly helpful when browsing the wacky parts of the net and not getting exotic browsing diseases: it is your default dental dam. Be careful of allowing domains you don’t recognize – Google them first and make sure you understand why they need to run a script on your computer and that it is safe. A lot of sites use partners for things like video feeds, so if some function seems broken, you probably need to allow that particular domain. On the other hand, most of the off-site scripts are tracking or stats and you really don’t need to play along with them.

BetterPrivacy is a new one for me. I am very impressed that it found approximately 1.3 zillion (OK 266) different company flash cookies AFTER I had installed TACO and noscript etc. You bastards. I’m sure I can enjoy hulu without making my play history shared-available to every flash site I might visit. Always Sunny in Philadelphia marks me as a miscreant. I flush the flash cookies on starting silently (preferences).

TACO is a bit intrusive, but it seems to work to selectively block tracking and advertising cookies. At least the pop up is comforting. For private browsing, I’d set it to reject all classes of tracking cookies (change the preferences from default).

User Agent Switcher is useful when you’re deviating from the mainstream. Running Ubuntu pretty much flags you as a trouble maker or at least a dissident. Firefox maybe a bit less so, but you are indicating to advertisers that you don’t respect the expertise of those people far smarter than you who pre-installed IE (or Safari) to make your life easier. Set your user agent to IE 8 because the nail that sticks up gets pounded down.

Torbutton needs Tor to work. Tor provides really good privacy, but is a bit involved. The Tor Button Plugin for firefox makes it seem easier than it really is: you install it and click “use tor” and it looks like it is working but the first site you visit you get an proxy error because Tor isn’t actually running (DOH!).

To get Tor to work, you will have to open a terminal and do some command line fu before it will actually let you browse. Tor is also easier to install on Ubuntu than on Windows (at least for me, but as my browser history indicates I’m a bit of a miscreant dissident, so your mileage may vary).

Starting with these fine instructions.

sudu gedit /etc/apt/sources.list
add
deb http://deb.torproject.org/torproject.org lucid main
deb-src http://deb.torproject.org/torproject.org lucid main

Then run
gpg --keyserver keys.gnupg.net --recv 886DDD89
gpg --export A3C4F0F979CAA22CDBA8F512EE8CBC9E886DDD89 | sudo apt-key add -
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install tor tor-geoipdb

Install vidalia with the graphical ubuntu software center or with
sudo apt-get install vidalia

Tor expects Polipo. And vidalia makes launching and checking on Tor easier, so remove the startup scripts. (If Tor is running and you try to start it from vidalia, you get an uninformative error, vidalia has a “launch at startup” option, so let it run things.) Vidalia appears under the Applications->Network.

sudo update-rc.d -f tor remove

Polipo was installed with Tor, so configure it:
sudo gedit /etc/polipo/config

Clear the file (ctrl-a, delete)
paste in the contents of this file:

UPDATE: paste in the contents of this file:

(if the link above fails, search for “polipo.conf” to find the latest version)

I added the binary for polipo in Vidalia’s control panel, but that may be redundant (it lives in /usr/bin/polipo).

I had to reboot to get everything started.

And for private chats, consider OTR!

Posted at 17:45:45 UTC

Category: politicstechnology

Testing Privacy Tools

Saturday, December 4, 2010 

I was curious after posting some hints about how to protect your privacy to see how they worked.

Using EFF’s convenient panopticlick browser fingerprinting site. Panopticlick doesn’t use all the tricks available, such as measuring the time delta between your machine and a reference time, but it does a pretty good job. Most of my machines test as “completely unique,” which I find complementary but isn’t really all that good for not being tracked.

Personally I’m not too wound up about targeted marketing style uses of information. If I’m going to see ads I’d rather they be closer to my interests than not. But there are bad actors using the same information for more nefarious purposes and I’d rather see mistargeted ads than give the wrong person useful information.

Panopticlik noscript.jpg

Testing Panopticlick with scripts blocked (note TACO doesn’t help with browser fingerprinting, just cookie control) I cut my fingerprint to 12.32 bits from 20.29 bits, the additional data comes from fonts and plugins.

Note that EFF reports that 1:4.1 browsers have javascript disabled. Visitors to EFF are, I would assume, more likely to disable javascript than teh norm on teh interwebz, but that implies that javascript-based analytics packages like Google analytics miss about 25% of visitors.

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It is also interesting to note that fingerprint scanners (fingerprints as on the ends of fingers) have false reject rates of about 0.5% and false acceptance rates of about 0.001%. Obviously they’re tuned that way to be 50x more likely to reject a legitimate user than to accept the wrong person and the algorithms are intrinsically fallible in both directions, so this is a necessary trade-off. Actual entropy measures in fingerprints are the subject of much debate. An estimate based on Pankanti‘s analysis computes a 5.5×10^59 chance of a collision or 193 bits of entropy but manufacturer published false acceptance rates of 0.001% are equivalent to 16.6 bits, less accurate than browser fingerprinting.

Posted at 06:44:41 UTC

Category: politicstechnology

Opting Out for Privacy

Friday, December 3, 2010 

There’s a great story at the wall street journal describing some of the techniques that are being used to track people on line that I found informative (as are the other articles listed in the series in the box below).  EFF is doing some good work on this; your browser configuration probably uniquely identifies you and thus every site you’ve ever visited (via data exchanges).  Unique information about you is worth about $0.00_1.  Collecting a few hundred million 1/10ths of a cent starts to add up and may end up raising your insurance premiums.

One of the more entertaining/disturbing tricks is to use “click jacking” to remotely enable a person’s webcam or microphone.  Is your computer or network running slowly? Maybe it is the video you’re inadvertently streaming back (and maybe you just have way too many tabs open…)

A few things you can do to improve your privacy include:

  • Opt out of Rapleaf. Rapleaf collects user information about you and ties it to your email address.  You have to opt out with each email address individually, which almost certainly confirms to them that all your email addresses belong to the same person.  You might want to use unique Tor sessions for each opt out if you don’t want them to get more information than they already have via the process.
  • Opt out at NAI. This is a one stop shop for the basic cookie tracking companies that are attempting to be semi-compliant with privacy requests.  If you enable javascript for the site (which would be disabled by default if you’re using scriptblocker) then you can opt out of all of them at once.  Presumably you have to return and opt out again every time a new company comes along.
  • Use Tor for anything sensitive.  If you care about privacy, learn about Tor.  It does slow browsing so you have to be very committed to use it for everything.  But the browser plug in makes it pretty easy to turn it on for easy browsing.
  • Don’t use IE for anything personal or important.
  • Run SpyBot Search and Destory regularly.  Spybot helps block BHOs and toolbars that seem to proliferate automagically and helps remove tracking cookies.  You’ll be amazed at how many are installed on your system.  I have used or not used TeaTimer.  I’m less excited about having a lot of background tools, even helpful ones than I used to be.  Spybot currently starts out looking for 1,359,854 different known spywares.  Yikes.
  • Check what people know about you:  Google will tell you, so will Yahoo.  Spooky.
  • Use firefox.  If for no other reason than the following plugins (personally, it is my favorite, but I know people who favor chrome or even rockmelt, but talk about tracking!)  Just don’t use IE.
  • Use the private browsing mode in your browser (CTRL-SHIFT-P in FireFox).  It’d be nice if you could enable non-private browsing on a whitelist basis for sites you either trust or have to trust.  We’ll get there eventually…
  • TACO should help block flash cookies.
  • Install noscript to block scripts by default.  You can add all your favorite sites as you go so things work.  It is a pain in the ass for a while, but security requires vigilance.
  • Install adblock plus.  It helps keep the cookies away.    It also reduces ad annoyance.  You can enable ads for your favorite sites so they can pay their colo fees.
  • Add HTTPS Everywhere from EFF. The more your connections to sites are encrypted, the less your ISP (and others) can see about what you’re doing while you’re there.  Your ISP still knows every site you visit, and probably sells that information, but if your sessions are encrypted they don’t see the actual text you type.  It also makes it harder for script kiddies to grab your passwords at the cafe.
Posted at 02:44:43 UTC

Category: politicstechnology