From Pine View Farm

Geek Stuff category archive

“The Internet of Targets” 0

Bruce Schneir discusses how the ballyhooed “Internet of Things” will increase the threat of malware. A snippet:

Patching is how the computer industry maintains security in the face of rampant Internet insecurity. Microsoft, Apple and Google have teams of engineers who quickly write, test and distribute these patches, updates to the codes that fix vulnerabilities in software. Most people have set up their computers and phones to automatically apply these patches, and the whole thing works seamlessly. It isn’t a perfect system, but it’s the best we have.

But it is a system that’s going to fail in the “Internet of things”: everyday devices like smart speakers, household appliances, toys, lighting systems, even cars, that are connected to the web. Many of the embedded networked systems in these devices that will pervade our lives don’t have engineering teams on hand to write patches and may well last far longer than the companies that are supposed to keep the software safe from criminals. Some of them don’t even have the ability to be patched.

If you have or anticipate having or may already have without realizing it internet-enabled stuff (refrigerators, door locks, “digital assistants,” light switches, televisions, “fitness trackers,” medical devices, just to pluck a few devices from the news), read the rest.

No Place To Hide 0

A columnist at the San Francisco Chronicle sums up Alexa (and all those other “digital assistants”).

“C’mon Caille, we can train her and everything. And she was a gift!”

“So was the Trojan Horse.”

Light Bloggery (Updated) 0

Posting will be spotty today.

I have some site maintenance to do (I need to deploy SSL* so Firefox and Vivaldi stop nagging me that this site is insecure, even though there’s nothing here that requires security other than my own password, as this is a hobby, not a business and I do not have anyone’s confidential information**), and I have some errands to run, but mostly I need a break.

Reality is just too damned depressing, even though there was a bit of good news from France last night.

Now, if only I could live in a fantasy world where down is up and up is down and lies are truth, as Republicans do . . . .

________________________

*How successful I’ll be is still an open issue.

**The notion that all websites should be SSL, even when there is no legitimate reason for encryption, is a curse and a pox. If I’m visiting, say, IMDB to see who the members of the cast of a movie or television show are and have no intention of logging on (I don’t even have an IMDB logon)–when all I’m doing is looking at a website and not passing any information to it other than what is in my user agent string, when all I am doing is looking at public information–there is no legitimate reason for requiring encryption.

Unnecessary security is not security.

It’s security theatre.

Addendum:

It was too pretty a day to spend it mucking about with computers. I went for a bike ride, then drove my little yellow truck to the grocery store (chicken piccata tonight, yums), then sat on the deck doing a crossword puzzle (this is one household where there is ever a crossword).

Mucking has been postponed until tomorrow and, after I poked about tonight regarding some of the issues I need to resolve, I must say that a call to my hosting provider’s most excellent tech support is a possibility. Fortunately, my phone has a speaker that I can enable so I can do real stuff as I wait for tech support to come live . . . .

And I needed the break from following the Trumpling of the American Dream. It was refreshing to ignore for a short while that the Secesh are now in charge.

Read more »

Facebook Frolics 0

You, too, will be assimilated by the Zuckerborg.

Make TWUUG Your LUG 0

Learn about the wonderful world of free and open source. Use computers to do what you want, not what someone else wants you to do. Learn how to use GNU/Linux and its plethora of free and open source software to get stuff done with computers.

It’s not hard; it’s just different.

Tidewater Unix Users Group

When: Monthly TWUUG meeting on the first Thursday of the month (May 4, 2017).

Who: Everyone in TideWater/Hampton Roads with interest in any/all flavors of Unix/Linux. There are no dues or signup requirements. All are welcome.

Where: Lake Taylor Transitional Care Hospital in Norfolk Training Room. See directions below. (Wireless and wired internet connection available.) Turn right upon entering, then left at the last corridor and look for the open meeting room.

Big Brother, Meet Big Johnson 0

From El Reg:

Amie Stepanovich, the US policy manager at Access Now, said that the FTC “must send a clear message to the adult Internet of Things industry that bad security will not be tolerated. These devices can give access to people’s most private information and they are being put on the market with laughably weak security settings.”

Access Now urged the FTC to investigate the $249 sex toy, stating such an investigation was “even more important given the growing trend to provide internet connectivity for sex toys and other related products without proper thought given to digital security problems.”

Honest to Betsy (Pete’s off today), you can’t make this stuff up.

Down at the Farm 0

For a short while, this blog was throwing the dreaded “Error Establishing a Database Connection” error.

I was able to fix it (quite impressing myself along the way). Here’s what I did, in case you encounter this error yourself.

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Stray Thought, Corporate Conquest Dept. 0

Americans are demonstrating that they will willingly submit to corporate Big Brothers if it means they can turn on their coffee pots with a voice command before they get to their kitchens.

The Call of the Wired 0

Tales of the headset set.

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Geeking Out 0

Listening to Old Time Radio from OTR.net on RealPlayer in a VM of Win7 on Slackware –Current.

Screenshot of VM of Win7 on Slackware --Current.


Click for a larger image.

You too should check out OTR.net. You’ll be glad you did. (But you must be able to play audio in Real format, and, as RealPlayer no long supports a Real operating system, that is, Linux, you must have access to Windows or Crapple).

(Oh my, I’ve turned into such a Linux geek.)

Neolinguistics 0

At The Roanoke Times, John Long updates the glossary. A snippet:

I started thinking of some perfectly legitimate sentences we might use today that would have made no sense whatsoever in the 1980s:

      • “I don’t know what time it is. I left my phone in the car.”*
      • “I wanted to take a picture but I didn’t have enough memory.”
      • “I got a discount on my cup of coffee! Only four bucks!”
      • “I wanted to finish my book today, but the battery died.”

More neologisms at the link.

________________

*That’s mine.

I haven’t worn a watch since that day about 10 years ago when I was at a job site discussing with three other folks about my age when to schedule a demonstration of something. After someone said, “What time is good?” all three of us pulled out our cell phones to check the time . . . .

Meta: Now You See It, Now You Don’t 0

If you were here long enough to see posts appearing and disappearing, it was happening because I was testing to find out what about certain posts was making my sidebar disappear.

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Lost in a Lost World 0

Over reliance on a GPS device may be hazardous to your brain.

(I knew there was a reason to like maps besides that they are fun to look at.)

Damn Computers 0

Expect you to obey the rules.

Grumble grumble grumble.

Most of the posts I had lined up for today don’t seem to be visible. There were several posts between “Career Move” and “And Now for Something Completely Different.” Figuring this out requires parsing the syntax of each one.

It seems to have something to do with this embed, for it and the some of the posts following it are not visible. Then posts are visible again. I previewed each post individually and each one worked, so it’s definitely something meta.

Blogging can be a most annoying avocation.

Heading Off Spam 0

Brian Krebs explains how to parse those email headers.

This is required reading.

Aside:

I got a dollar to a doughnut that most persons don’t even know that emails have headers.

Via Schneir on Security.

Attention Theftacit Disorder 0

One of my local convenience stores features, GSTV, a vile and loathsome creation that yabbers commercials at you while you fill your gas tank. (Why they think that making persons angry is a productive sales technique mystifies me.)

At the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Glenn Harlan Reynolds offers his take on the soundwall of advertising that is consuming our attention. An excerpt:

Columbia law professor Tim Wu thinks your attention is being stolen. And he’s not happy about it.

He’s not talking about TV commercials, which pay for the show that you’re watching. He’s talking about ads that seize your attention while giving you nothing in return. He has a special dislike of gas station TV, in which saccharine fake newscasts appear on the pump while you fill your car, tethered by a short length of hose. But that’s not all, Wu writes: “In that genre are things like the new, targeted advertising screens found in hospital waiting rooms (broadcasting things like The Newborn Channel for expecting parents); the airlines that play full-volume advertising from a screen right in front of your face; the advertising screens in office elevators; or that universally unloved invention known as ‘Taxi TV.’ These are just few examples in what is a growing category. Combined, they threaten to make us live life in a screen-lined cocoon.”

Aside:

I was recently subjected to one of those target medical “channels” when I picked up a friend from a doctor’s office. Ugh.

I chose to wait outside and look at my own screen–and at the trees, the flowers, the sky, and the near-misses on the adjacent street.

Facebook Frolics 0

SeattlePI reports that the Zuckerborg is hazardous to your health.

Twits on Twitter, Durable Drivel Dept. 0

Title:  The Final Fact-Check.  Image:  Man standing at Pearly Gates.  St. Peter says,


Click for the original image.

Meta: Maintenance The Mystery of the Disappearing Sidebar (Sticky) 0

Update: I’m having issues with the sidebar. It appears when I click on individual posts, but not when viewing the front page. I am working on it, but doing so carefully. In the meantime, I’m not getting upset (keep repeating to yourself, “Frank, it’s only a hobby learning opportunity”) and hope you don’t either. I will document my adventures in this post in the area below the fold. In the meantime, you may see strange things happening as I test, but the regular stream of drivel will continue unless everything stops working. If you want to email me, the email link, which is normally over there —-> on the sidebar, is frank@pineviewfarm.net.

I will update this post as I try to shoot the trouble.

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Geeking Out 0

Debian v. 8 with KDE on a Lenovo ThinkCentre graphics tablet.

Debian v. 8 with the KDE desktop environment