The Rant-o-matic 2000 home appliance bonanza jamboree

Moving has forced me to look at home appliances from various angles. Literally. All of the major appliances at our apartment are energy rated A, since I’ve always found it the right choice, plus they save a bit of power too.

What is it that makes people buy less-ecological appliances? Price. No other, real reason (the other two, less relevant being ignorance and indifference). Why are eco-friendly appliances more expensive then? Well, the cost of manufacturing something that is ecological is probably higher, due to the quality of the parts, workmanship and testing (not only of the device, but for certifications and standards).

The real question is: Why doesn’t the government subsidize the cost so that people could buy more ecological appliances? This of course extends to cars (and, I’m sure, many other things).  Doesn’t the government keep telling us to save electricity by not keeping lights on unnecessarily, or heating our apartments when we’re not at home? Isn’t that the right thing to do? Everyone chips in for a better, brighter tomorrow?

Well, everyone except the government, of course.

So, what possible reason would the government have for not incentivizing us peons to buy better appliances? Well, there are a few reasons ranging from the tinfoily to the credible.

  • The government is broke as it is, and has no time to babysit us idiots
  • The government should not even be required to babysit us idiots
  • The government does not want, can’t afford, [insert reason here] to invest in a cleaner, more ecological future, despite what it keeps telling us
  • The government doesn’t want to invest in a more ecological future in this specific way (instead they will promote cleaner cars, such as hydrogen cars, electric cars, hybrids and.. oh wait. No. They don’t do this. Otherwise there would be tax-breaks for buyers of these vehicles! Nevermind!)
  • Everyone buying A-grade appliances wouldn’t make a difference in the long run (perhaps very true)
  • The government is in cahoots with the power companies, and other evil entities, and doesn’t want us to buy the eco-friendly stuff! (But who’s in cahoots with the retailers and the manufacturers that don’t make any money from people buying the cheapest appliances available? What about those guys?!)

I’m sure there are reasons for grading appliances. A washing machine graded A probably saves you a few bucks every year in power and water compared to the washing maching graded E. How much? Five inches.

So in the end, I’m left very confused as to what the government wants. They want us to use less power, drive less, use ecological cars, appliances and live our lives in a sane way. But they don’t really give us much incentive to do so. What do they really want, and are they telling us things that are not true, or that are not realistic because that’s what is expected of them? Perhaps. I mean, you can’t have ministers telling us to pollute more, now can you?

More updates

Between thursday evening and sunday evening, we moved to our new home. This was more taxing than I had previously anticipated. Moving is cool, in theory. But once you get down to brass tacks, and notice that no, one full van of stuff doesn’t cut it. Or two.. or almost even three. We had a Ford Transit rented out for one full day, and damn was that thing full for all three trips that we made. Granted, our packing skills are not perhaps as honed as those of a professional mover.. guy, but still. The mini-snowpocalypse that hit on friday did not help. We had snow blocking the driveways, the doorways.. Also, driving an unfamiliar vehicle in that much snow, and having that vehicle be full of stuff, does not make things easier. I managed, and didn’t fuck up the van. Score one for the home team.

So now we have 98 m^2 of space, which is now mostly occupied by boxes. I am as tired as a human being can be.

Visavis the connectivity at home: I was unable to hook up the cable modem in the patch cabinet. There’s no antenna socket there, so the Cisco cable modem is now on my desk in the home office. Not a bad compromise, as every room has antenna wall sockets; so no long cables anywhere. Transfering the connection was as easy as before. Remove modem at old apartment, hook up modem at new apartment. Done. My OpenBSD machine didn’t boot correctly, and I had no screen with a VGA plug handy, so that had to wait until Sunday, when I finally had everything hooked up. Not sure why it didn’t boot correctly. Maybe it just didn’t get an IP because I had misconnected LAN / WAN. I should lable the cards in that machine….

Today and ad nauseum into the future:  Remove stuff from boxes. Find proper place for stuff. Fold up box and place somewhere (we had some carboard Ikea moving-boxes).  I’ll update with pics once I get things sorted out.

Infinite thanks to B. Couldn’t have done it without you.

 

History repeating

This Syria bullshit? It’s bullshit right?

“Obama asks Congress to approve attacks!”. Based on what, I ask? Oh, we don’t need to worry about that. Russia is fuming, because they feel they are being shat on. And I believe they are. IF, and that’s a very strong if, the US has the proof they ‘need’ to attack Syria, why not show it? Why not just bring out a fancy paper, signed and stamped, and have the non-partisan scientists who did the tests show them to the world?

The only feasible reason I can think of is, that the proof does not exist. It’s not on film either. All I’ve seen (and I’ve not seen everything), shows bodies (mostly women and children for maximum impact),  people with watery eyes, people throwing up. People handling the deceased with nothing but a surgical mask and some latex gloves. Not that I’ve ever been exposed to chemical agents, but, the fact that the lethal dose for sarin in humans, is in the tens of milligrams, suggests that handling bodies or affected people would not be very healthy. 70mg is not a whole hell of a lot (some sources say micrograms, but that seems to be incorrect). Now, it seems someone caught on to this, and is now saying that the photographers taking the video/pictures of the supposed victims have also since expired. I haven’t seen any conclusive proof.

Tear gas I have tried out, in the army. It was a 10% diluted solution (or less, depending on who you ask), and the symptoms were pretty nasty even in such amounts. Tearing, snot from every conceivable orifice, gagging, constricted breathing. Now amp that up to full ‘military grade’ tear gas, and I wouldn’t want to see the effects. I bet it can even be lethal to small children, old people, and say, people with chronic respiratory illness.

So the tests that were carried out by the UN were done in a country, and by chemists/doctors who are from countries that are not a part of the UN Security council. It just so happens protocol dictates one of thsse countries is Finland. The personel have signed NDA’s, so they can’t say when, what, how and why. I can understand this. The UN will show the results when they are in. Or will they? Will the US? What will Russia do to demand these results, and what will they do if they are denied them?

Oh shit. Clam down. I mean calm. Take off the tin foil! Maybe it’ll all turn out alright. There’s probably a real reason why the US needs to fire rockets and drop bombs on Syria. After all, they are probably a threat to their freedom. Or something.

Blabbity blab

Nothing specific to talk about, but I felt like writing anyway.

Don’t multihome vmk ports in ESXi

Multihoming vmk ports on ESXi 5 (?) and later is not kosher. It’ll allow you to make the config, and it’ll even work, for a random period of time. You probably want separate physical ports for management and vMotion, so you’re bound to have two vmk ports, don’t put them on the same subnet/vlan. This was supported in ESX 4 and earlier, perhaps, but not in any later versions of the VMware hypervisor. This KB-article helped out a lot, as well as this quickhand on ESXi shell network commands. The setup was roughly the following:

  • vmk0 – management – vSwitch0 – 10.10.10.1
  • vmk1 – vmotion – vSwitch1 – 10.10.10.2

One host with this config dropped off the network, and the management port wouldn’t respond. The other vmk interface still responded perfectly, and the machines were on separate vmnics and vSwitches so they were unaffected as well. But vCenter lost connectivity to the host. Obviously, migrating the vm’s off the host was not an option, as there was no way to reach it through the vSphere client. The cluster did not have HA enabled.

To fix it, the steps were roughly:

  1. Enable ESXi Shell, if it isn’t already, through the DCUI -> Troubleshooting options -> Enable ESXi Shell
  2. Hit Alt-F1 to go to the shell
  3. Disable the vmnic that is not the management vmnic (in our example, vmk1, for vmotion) using esxcli network nic down -n vmnic   ##make sure you get the right vmnic, doublecheck in DCUI
  4. You can Alt-F2 back to DCUI and check out the network settings to verify that it’s down. Once the conflicting vmk is down, the primary one should start working, and you’ll have management back. If necessary, restart management agents / network from DCUI.
  5. There’s also esxcfg-vmknic -d (for delete, -D for disable) portgroup. To list the portgroups, use esxcfg-vmknic -l (and locate the conflicting, non-management vmk, and check the name of it)
  6. When management is restored (you can verify by running the Test Management Network in DCUI, and ping your management IP), do the rest from the vSphere Client (restoring what ever vmk you disabled, and the functionality it had (be it vmotion or so)). This time, make sure you use a separate subnet/vlan (not the same as for management)
  7. Also NOTE that if you used the ESXi Shell to disable a NIC, you have to enable it from there as well. I’ve found no way to say “vmnic up” in vSphere Client. If you know of a way please let me know in the comments. I had to make an extra trip to the data center to get the interface up, and then finalize the config in vSphere client.

Considering a Soekris or Mikrotik

For years (uh say, 8 years?) I’ve used an older workstation PC with two Intel 1Gbps NICs and lately, an SSD, plus OpenBSD & pf as my network firewall/router. It’s a rather clunky solution for a simple task, but it has served me well for years, without too many problems. After listening to TechSNAP (the latest couple of episodes, I guess), I’ve been thinking about replacing that box with a smaller solution, such as hardware from Soekris or Mikrotik. Soekris are a bit expensive, but they are perhaps.. more fully fledged than the Mikrotik. Both, as I understand, allow for your own choice of OS. I would still be running BSD (be it Free or Open), because that’s what I sort of trust with these matters. The other option is to buy an Atom board, slap on 2-4GB memory, two NICs (or a multiport NIC), and the SSD that I already have, and then run that in a smaller form factor case. I’m more of a do-it-yourself kind of guy, so I might end up going that route anyway.

Reading stuff

I’ve been reading a lot lately. Well the past 10 years maybe. My dad tends to remind me that back in school I didn’t like reading too much (perhaps because I didn’t usually need to work too hard to pass courses (except for math), or maybe I just hadn’t found my thing yet. Or maybe I was an immature brat? Perhaps. Anyway. What I’m reading right now is the Bridge Trilogy, by William Gibson. No big shocker here, I’ve read his works multiple times. I think this trilogy is the one I’ve read the least. That’s not to say it isn’t good, but it’s just gotten less attention from me. I’m on the final book now, ‘All tomorrow’s parties”. After that I’ll hop away from Gibson, and move on to James Bamford’s “The Shadow Factory”, a book on the NSA.

Since I misplaced (probably lent it out to someone who doesn’t remember or really liked the book) my copy of Stealing the Network – How to own a Shadow, I ordered a used copy from amazon. The condition was listed as very good, and it came exactly in that shape….

.. only it smells like weed. You know? Mary jane? Now it might just be from hemp-scented incense, or maybe just a pot-head security guy. I don’t mind really, but I still put the book outside for a while to get the worst fumes out. Luckily nobody had ripped pages to roll their joints in. I guess the book would then have been listed as.. Cannabilized. Get it!?!

 

A slippery slope

I was wathcing the news yesterday, and there was a piece on the government supporting teachers getting the right to go through students bags and such while at school. I think this is a horrible idea. Let me tell you why.

Traditionally, a person and his property are his. You need probable cause to search this person or his or her property. What they are now proposing is that teachers get the privilege to go through their students stuff, in order to..what prevent school shootings? I guess that’s the subtext, since we’ve had a few of those. Now, I don’t have to tell you school massacres are a bad thing; hint: they are. What I’m saying is loss of privacy is even worse. What would the teachers consider harmful? The article, posted on yle.fi here, mentions harmful items and substances. So drugs and guns? Let me be the first (not) to tell you that this will not solve the problem of school shootings. Why? Because I can come to school in the middle of the day and start shooting, before anyone has had a chance to look at my bag. Should we then install metal detectors at schools, and be all American, and shit? Not a bad idea, but imagine the amount of false positives? Start X-raying the pupils bags? Fine, but imagine that scene from the Matrix. Yeah that one. This isn’t creating security, this is creating insecurity, delays and loss of privacy.

Where we should spend money, in my humble opinion, is mental care, and early detection of mental issues at school. Talking to people works better than patting them down. We all remember that kid from school that nobody talked to, who always sat in the back of the class and didn’t speak to anyone unless spoken to. These are the people (among others), that we should be talking to. Making connections, talking to parents, talking to peers.

There is no amount of physical security that will prevent all shootings. You can say that “Sure, but it’d stop some, so isn’t that worth it?!”, but I don’t think it is. The determined person will always find a way. And what we will have lost in the process is much more valuable.  Because once we start down that road, there’s no stopping. Next we’ll have authorities looking at what books are checked out from the (school) library, what people chose to eat at school or work, and using that to start profiling people, and comparing those profiles to those of ‘threatening individuals’, or anything that’s indicative of risky behavior. We’re gonna start getting the classic “If you’re not a bad person, you shouldn’t have anything to hide”-argument. People are gonna shrug, and go along. And before you know it, we’re in the surveilance society. Finland still has a fighting chance. We don’t have cameras everywhere. It’s a big country with low population density.

We know by example that what the authorities tell us is just their best effort. Start collecting fingerprints for passports? Promise us to just use them for that purpose? Fast forward a few years, and we have police/politicians saying “Okay, now that we have these handy fingerprints of almost every Finn, why not.. use this data? I mean, we already have it!”. The authorities are not robots. They are not immune to personal desires and misbehavior. Look at the amount of police looking, illegally, into the cases of a number of celebrity crimes (Anneli Auer, Mika Myllylä to mention a few; the latter of which had 136 police officers snooping around data that they were not authorized to view). The fact that the data is collected, or the authority given, does not protect us from mis-use. It makes it easier.

We’re now considering installing traffic cameras that would look at not only speeding and running red lights, but see if a car has been inspected (as is mandated by law), if it’s registered, whether people are wearing seatbelts etc. Again we get the “So don’t do anything wrong!”-argument. But this doesn’t change the fact that we are getting authorities with increasing amounts of data on our movements and actions that they have no business knowing. The fact that they will collect the data will lead to them abusing the data. Imagine if that data were to get to the hands of advertisers? Minority Report, anyone?

We saw the S-chain of stores use loyalty card data to send out warnings on a product that contained harmful substances. So you buy a bag of chips, and flash your loyalty card (or bonus card as we call them here) at the checkout, and whammo, the store knows what you bought, when, how you paid, etc. “No no, this is just for statistics and..” ..and when you want to contact people to let them know they bought a potentially dangerous item. And maybe if you want to send targeted advertising to people based on what they bought? Or maybe sell that to third parties who also want to know what you buy and when. Hey, bought adult diapers? Either you’re a pervert or you have a medical condition. Maybe someone would benefit from knowing that information. Would you like that information to be public? Probably not. But then, the store wouldn’t use that data to do anything evil, now would they?

So don’t use loyalty cards. Don’t pay by credit. Don’t drive. Don’t move. Don’t go to school. Don’t get a passport and don’t travel. Don’t..

 

Hmm.. upgrades

I may have already titled a post like this. Obviously, this is a reference to Matrix: Reloaded.

Anyway. Some updates. Stuff going on.

Looks like i’m traveling to two places this year. I’ll update more when things move ahead. At least to Spain. I have to renew my passport, since I only have the first generation passport, which is expiring. That has a chip, but the chip ‘only’ contains a digitized version of the picture, and maybe some other info. The new version will have my fingerprints digitized on the chip. What next, dna sequences? The fact that you can only get a 5 year passport pisses me off to no end.

I sold off my Xbox 360, as I noticed I wasn’t playing it too much anymore, and we were watching all movies on the PS3 we got last christmas for ourselves. The last game I played on the 360 was Alan Wake (It was a present from U), which I liked very much. Played it all the way through.

As I am typing this, I am sitting on an InterCity2 train to Turku, traveling at 160 km/h. I am having a coffe and a muffin (4,50€), and surfing the web on the complimentary Wifi, which works fairly well actually. Speeds look to be about.. 2.5/1Mbps with a latency of a bad mobile connection (237ms by speedtest).

Stuff I’ve been up to recently at work: Working a lot on new servers, and SAN systems. At home: nothing much, really. Well we have rats now. They are called Sampo and Väinö. Both are albino (red eyes), the other has a bit of brown in the fur. I find I’m actually enjoying having them around. I haven’t really ever had a pet of my own since early childhood. The family dog is still alive (at 14 years), but spends most of the time sleeping. She lives at my parents. Rats are actually quite clever and social animals I’ve found. They are rather creative at problemsolving, and really need social contact. They seek it out, unlike some pets that just sit there.

Me and U are both waiting for Assembly Summer 2013, even though I every year state that I’m never ever going back. It’s still kind of a tradition. This will be the… 6th time I’m going. (the 21st Assembly that has been organized).

Other stuff on my mind: Feminism. I’ve been reading up on some articles on and around the subject of feminism. There’s the geek-feminism wiki. Obviously not for the fainthearted. There are some very valid points too; but feminism, like religion (and I’m not comparing the two), are catalysts for some very heated discussion and commentary. Of not was an article on Slashdot that discussed the case of Violet Blue’s planned talk (titled “Hackers As A High-Risk Population”) at security conference BSides San Fransisco. Apparently, Ada Initiative’s Valerie Aurora got her talk blocked because it reportedly contains ‘rape triggers’. Which means there was text or imagery that could trigger a post traumatic stress reaction, or a flashback or other psychological symptoms in rape victims. There was a similar case in the Geek-Feminism blog/wiki, discussing a Linux.conf.au keynote by Mark Pesce, which also, apparently, contained rape triggers. I can’t pretend to understand anything about rape-triggers per se, but I do understand traumatic triggers (since I suffer from them intermittently). But this is more a discussion on the aftermath on that talk, not about whether the imagery and language used was a trigger or not. The offensive content in Pesce’s talk was listed as, quote:

1. a pig and a duck apparently having sex
2. a black and white sexualised strangulation
3. a fetish scene with a woman in a mask spanking a man in a mask

Several of these were accompanied by a verbal metaphor to “being fucked” in
case the visuals weren’t explicit enough.

end quote.

The discussion veered away to how we could prevent such talks from being held, or people from being exposed to the content in them. Verbal warnings were suggested, but shot down because someone might come late to the talk, and miss the warning. Also, the fact that the verbal warning might contain triggers in and of it self, seems rather paradoxical, to me. So you can’t put out a warning, and you can’t have a talk with imagery or words that might offend someone in the crowd. Seems a bit hard to me? Granted, linux.conf.au. had a harrassment policy, which explicitly forbade displaying sexually imagery in public places, which a keynote unarguably is. Mark Pesce broke this policy. There is perhaps the question of what sexual imagery is, but you can very easily call any of the above “sexual”.

The blog post on Geek Feminism also brough up the point of bringing undue attention to any (in particular) women in the audience, who, upon hearing a verbal warning, would need to stand up and walk out of the auditory or whatever space, and thereby attracting attention to themselves. Additionally the argument was made that sexual imagery causes an atmosphere where sexual topics might be more easily brought up, causing unpleasant situations.  It just seems like there’s no good way out of this, doesn’t it?

Also, I found a rather extreme disclamer in the blog post, which stated “Warning: some unsympathetic commentary linked“. You can’t honestly expect everyone to have sympathy for any cause? There will always be people who disagree. Sexists. Chauvinists. Assholes of all kinds. Trolls! You can request and moderate a discussion so that it only contains the things you want to hear, but then that’s just as much censorship as banning certain kind of language and imagery. Later, Theodore Ts’o sent an email to the LCA mailing list, where he referenced a bunch of statistics, and wrote up some analogies. I don’t think statistics are the answer here, and do not appeal to the target audience (the feminists making the complaint, as well as the people on the mailing list, i would suppose). The problem according to them, as I understand it, is that the policy was broken. I understand this. But does this also mean that every conference attended by women (and why would a conference be male only? and can’t men also be raped?) should have a policy banning the use of sexual imagery, rape metaphors, text (examples brought up were: “We are so fucked.” “You’re gonna get fucked.” “Skull-fuck Steve Jobs.” etc.) or speech of this nature, as well as violent imagery? Sounds a bit extreme. I understand this completely from the victims point of view (though not a rape victim, but trauma in general). You can’t choose when you are faced with triggers. The triggers are different for each person. It might be related to a certain time of the year/day, certain smells or sights, or they can be more internal than that.

My point is, you can not clean up the world according to your desires. You have to learn to live with your traumas, or isolate yourself completely. And again, to reiterate, I’m not saying I know how it is to live on when you have been raped. There are multiple books written on how to deal with traumatic triggers. There is therapy of all kinds. I believe very strongly that with proper therapy, you can deal with your triggers; learn to live with them, or eliminate them entirely.

One thing I cannot look at is hospital shows on TV. Then again, I don’t watch too much television these days, but hospital scenes are part of many movies too. And that won’t be on the back cover. “Warning, containts hospital scenes”. If I am faced with imagery or sounds that I know can trigger a panic attack or other PTSD symptoms, I will take myself, or the imagery out of the picture. Currently that’s the way I deal with that particular trigger. I’m not out on the barricades demanding that movie companies print out exactly what every movie contains, in case someone finds it offensive or shocking. You can’t shut yourself out of the world.

I hope this post doesn’t attract too much shit from anyone. It’s not to be interpreted as insulting to feminists (after all, I doubt any two feminists are alike), or victims of any sort. Simply as commentary on something that I felt like writing about.

You can also go check out the actual slidshow from Mark Pesces keynote, in case you want to see this sexual imagery. I  didn’t find it too shocking, but then I’m not too conservative, nor a rape victim. And I spend a lot of time on 4chan.

Maybe the bottom line is: moderation is key. Don’t ask people to live by your rules. Open a dialog and talk things out. Yours is just one opinion among others. Like this blogpost.

Another article I read was in the, I suppose you can all it a leftist magazine, Voima. It was a short column (I’ll get the writer and the name of the article when I get home) on how feminists are getting angry! The columnist declared herself a feminist, and stated that she was happy that feminists are apparently getting angry. Sidenote: I can’t help but to recall the awesome scene from the 1976 movie “Network”, and the line “I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell, ‘I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!'”. Examples she used in her column were, among others, “why are women always taking the husbands family name when they get married?”, “why are female-dominated lines of work the most underpaid?”. I’m just flabbergasted by these. First of all, there are female dominated lines of work. Education. Healthcare. Care for the elderly. But is this something that was written on a stone tablet and taken down from the mountain? I’ve seen male nurses, teachers, daycare workers. There’s nothing stopping men entering these lines of work. Why women chose these jobs, I have no idea. Perhaps tradition? Kind of like why women choose (note) to take their husbands names when they marry?

There are also a number of interesting wiki articles on feminism. Like the three main waves of feminism (we’re apparently now in the third wave of feminism). The articles are here, here and here, respectively. A lot of interesting stuff, so be sure to check those out.

A less than great week

So i’m having one of those weeks again. Let’s start by describing what happened last Sunday. I was walking to the store to pick up some necessities, when i noticed that my Nissan had been broken into. The shotgun-side front window had been busted to shit, and my GPS was gone. Now yes, i made a mistake by leaving it out in the open. I was naîve, thinking that my GPS was safe in a car in Helsinki. I’ve always kept it out, but i guess i now live in a neighborhood populated by a bunch of junkies.

Anyway, it was far from a clean job. The window was shattered to a million bits inside the car, and half of it had dropped inside the door. Cleaning it up just so i could drive it to work and put it in the garage was a bitch. So yeah, i decided, instead of taping a black plastic bag over the broken window, i decided to drive it to a safer place. Who know, maybe the same fuck would have come back for my 1994 Green Day “Dookie” cd that i still had in the glove compartment. He also left a 100 euro inverter. I guess it could have been anyone, but my money is on some junkie looking for his next fix of cheap drugs (Subutex or some such stuff). A GPS like that retails for 150 euros or so, and on the black market it ought to fetch 30 bucks? Maybe 40? And that gets you what? In Helsinki, maybe a fourth of a gram of cocaine (probably not his brand of poison), or a few pills of subutex or some benzos.

Sigh.

Anyway, as soon as i noticed what had happened, i pick up my Galaxy S, and call the insurance company to ask about what to do next. However, as i’m slightly shocked by the events, i fumble, and drop my phone, which hits the asphalt with a resounding thump. Perfectly flat on its screen. I pick it up, and next thing you know, i’m picking out small pieces of glass from my hand. Great. Broken car. Broken phone. Phone still works, so i make the call anyway. Insurance company tells me to call the cops, and take the car to a shop for repairs.

Now, all this hinges on the po-lice. The five-oh. Come monday, i look up from their site how to make a report, which can be done either at the station, online or over the phone. I’m adviced by the site that i should not use the electronic form if the crime involves someone breaking in somewhere. Someone broke into my car to steal shit, so i figure i’ll call them instead. On the fourth call, someone picks up. Here’s the dialog:

Me: Hey, i need to make a report. Someone broke into my car.

5-0: Yeah? Well you need to fill out the online form

Me: But.. it said..

5-0: We can’t take reports like this over the phone. Either visit a police station, or fill out the online form.

Me: Fine.

I was stumped, but then again, my faith for our men and women in blue is .. minimal to begin with, so i was not altogether amazed.

So i look up the online form thing. I have to authenticate using my online banking codes. Fine, that’s fairly standard in things like this where you need to be sure who’s doing what. I fill in my info, and it says “Sending this information [insert name and social security number here] to the requesting site. Again, standard practice. I’m then taken to this 90’s rendition of a website, with a simple html form asking for different kinds of information. The first bits of information requested? My name and social security number, which i just authenticated to be sent over for. But hey, okay. Can you make a report under some other persons name? Doesn’t make sense to me why you’d authenticate as John Doe, and then make a report under the name Jane Doe, with her soc.security number. That smells illegal, you know?

So i fill in the fields, which are by the way, limited to like 50 characters. Try describing anything in 50 chars. Try writing the model name of the stolen items in 50 chars. There was also a field which asked how i wanted a copy of the report. The options were “by snail mail” or “i’ll pick them up”. I hit “by mail”, and then decide to click the “info” button next to the field. It says “You can get it by email (but that’s unencrypted mind you!), by mail, or you can pick it up”. There’s no field for “email”, and since the buttons are radio-buttons, i can’t de-select the choice i already made. I was stuck. Fucking sucks. I send it in anyway, and i get a date and time, a reference number. I then file a report with the insurance company. This is a PDF-file, with fillable forms. I then *print it out* because my insurance company doesn’t offer an electronic way of sending in stuff. There are rumors of an email address that accepts stuff, but it’s not public or i didn’t find it. So i then proceed to fucking fax over the form to the insurance company. *bepbepbeeep* Hey look, it’s the 90’s calling. Yeah? Okay. They said they want their technology back.

Jesus fucking christ.

Then i drive over to the car repair shop, so they can take pictures and get an estimate over to the insurance company. So far all good. Two days pass. On the third, i get a call from the insurance company, who say they have not heard from the police department. I then call the police, who give me the run-around, and finally forward me to the documents department. They spend a good 15-20 minutes searching for my report. They ask for my name. They ask for my social security number. The date and time i sent it in. The city i live in. None of these apparently produce any results, and i’m left to wonder whether they ever got the report or not. I try to offer the clerk the reference number that i got after i filed the report. Her reply? “No that’s useless. I can’t do anything with that”. So what, either she’s incompetent, or the reference number is.. a random generated number to make me feel better?

Also, i’ve never made a crime-report. And there should only be one person with my name and social security number in the entire country. So how can it be this difficult to find my report? This is beginning to sound like the work of some big IT service provider.

I was also told that “No the documents are not sent to the insurance company unless they request them (which they also don’t automatically). So i either have to ask the insurance company to ask the police to get the documents, or wait for the police to send the documents to me, so i can i guess..uh.. fax to the insurance company.

All this has yet to happen. No nothing from the po-po. The car guys are waiting for the insurance company, who are waiting for the police. So i’m stuck until they do their thing. Great.

..as for the phone

As i didn’t have a company phone (or i did, but i gave it away to a colleague when i got the galaxy s), i decided to get one ordered for me to replace the now-fucked Samsung. I wanted the Galaxy S 2, but they didn’t have it in stock, and i’m a very impatient man, so i got the HTC Desire Z (the HTC Vision elsewhere). That’s the qwerty-slider. I’ll write something about it once i’ve had a chance to use it first. It seems solid, and they physical keyboard is a nice thing to have around. Also, it supports Cyanogen Mod 7.1.

I feel like titling every post ‘Random’

Yeah I’m bad at figuring out titles for my posts, so they will be..what they are. For now.

I’ve been back at work for about 7 days now, and I’m already pretty stressed out. Nothing I can’t handle, but still. A decent reminder that yes, i have a job that i do well, but that is not easy to do well without feeling the effects.

My home garden is still alive, and looking better than ever. The balcony-project has been growing lettuce for many many weeks and providing tasty goodies for many a salad. The basil is looking good as well, and right in the middle, you can see some slow-growing parsley.Inside i have another similar box which has some Chives, and some Rucola growing in it. They are not yet in representable condition, so pics will have to wait.

Home-growing (not that, hippies), I’ve found, is quite satisfying, even on this small scale. But in an urban environment (such as in our bustling megacity of a capital, Helsinki), small is where the game is at. Word.

I had the weirdest dream last night. Perhaps one of the weirdest ever, and all without any mind blowing, groovy, 60’s drugs. Basically it was me, my father and my paternal grandfather (who just turned 90, props) on the yard of one of their previous homes. For some reason, which was not explained by anything else by twisted dream-logic, he had.. a cake. Growing out of his left temple. It had apparently started out as just a.. splotch, and dismissed as something old people just “get”. But then it started growing, and turned out to be a cake. And it kept growing and growing. I found a screw on the top side of this cake (at this point he was unable to move because of the size of the cake), and i for some reason, reasoned that this screw is what holds the entire thing in place. So we started turning the screw, which eventually released the cake.

Now if this isn’t fubar, get a load of this. On the side of the cake was.. a door. Opening the door revealed a bakery or a coffee shop. A coffee shop inside a giant cake, growing out of a mans head. And there were people, employees, inside this giant cake/bakery .. thing! So i promptly told them to get the fuck out of the giant cake, and to leave my grandfather alone. The shift-manager, was this weird.. Stepford-Wife kind of person who just had this creepy smile on her face, and without commenting on the weirdness of the situation, calpped her hands merrily, and asked the other employees to leave. I think her happy (creepy happy) face and demeanor was the last thing i saw in this dream.

I would wager i had some late-night fever or something, because never, in my nearly 30 years, have i had a dream that was this fucking convoluted. I’ve been fighting some viral infection for a few days, so it might explain things.

This is so fucked up, you have to realize i could not possibly make this shit up.

So what else. Finished the patio/whatever at the cottage, and it now kicks ass:

Kick. Ass.

Still don’t reaaaally have a well-behaving Ubuntu 11.04 with kernel 3.0 rc[n]. It does boot, but i get bogged down with a bunch of issues. I’ve been posting some bug reports, but most of it has already been posted. So there’s not much i can add. But i try to do my share.

I love how Linus Torvalds has taken up using Google+ to announce new kernels and other misc stuffs. Not sure i like google+ though. It’s turning into facebook for me, which i left nearly 2 years ago. The only thing I’m liking more, is the way it handles links and media, for some reason. Facebook might be just as good nowadays. Who knows. The games addition is (not yet at least) as bad as Facebook, since you can actually choose to opt in to seeing game-related content. So i don’t have to follow your progress on fucking Mafia wars or some other inane piece of productivity-waste.

I started reading Devil’s Eye, by Jack McDevitt. So far it’s basically a “far-in-the-future”, as in millennia from now, detective story. So far. The sole reason i picked it up, out of the blue, was that i was reading an article on Hypernovas (as opposed to Supernovas), and the article mentioned that this book features a hypernova. That sounded interesting,so i placed my order.

Ok enough rambling. I’ll update with some stuff on my HTPC at a later date.

Distrohopping like a Motherfucker

Like the topic sez. I’ve been trying out different distros over the past weeks, and landed right back where i started. Basically. I’ve gone through Arch, Archbang, Xubuntu, Debian 6, and finally Ubuntu. This is sad to admit, but in all other distros, i had some deal breaker problems that i was unable to solve in a decent amount of time, and ended up valuing the fact that most things work pretty much out of the box on Ubuntu. I can’t believe that i’m actually giving Unity a try as well! It’s probably going out of the window pretty soon, because i just can’t get a hang of how to use this most effectively. Things are sliding in and out of view.. i can’t see what i’m running, i can’t see the menu bar until i hover over it, and.. oh god. It’s just not Gnome 2, y’know?

Arch i like. I like pacman, it feels right. It feels like 10 years ago, in a good way. But i ran into some stupid audio problems. And automounting usb sticks and the likes didn’t work as well as i hoped it would. Now, I’m not saying the issues are unsolvable, they are not. But i gave them a reasonable amount of effort, and if it didn’t work, then it was out of the game. For instance, Archbang, which is a bleeding edge rolling distro, like Arch, had massive problems with audio. Alsa lost my cards, or some mixer element, and i’m talking lost the entire /dev devices that were supposed to be there. The excellent Alsa Troubleshooting page was not able to save me, at least not as far as i could deduce. I was going to download Alsa and compile from source, but i said fuck that noise.

So here I am, typing away on Ubuntu 11.04, with Unity (shrug), and waiting for something to break so i can say “Aha! Told you so!”. Deep down i know it won’t break, not that badly anyway. Sure it’s not a rolling distro. Sure it’s for “noobs” but whatever. I mean i like to have a tool that gets the job done. Ubuntu has done a bad thing by taking in Unity, at least that’s what i feel now. I guess I’m just getting too old. But it is *still* a pretty good out-of-the-box experience. No matter how you turn it. You can still do the Gnome Classic thing, and run with what you’re used to. Xubuntu worked quite well too, but there were some issues there too. XFCE4 is pretty damn brilliant. KDE is just something i haven’t touched for so many years.. It hurt me back then. Left me creepy voicemails. I’m not taking her back.

I’ve also been giving Google+ a whirl, mainly because it is not Facebook. I hopped off that wagon over a year ago, and i haven’t looked back. Look, i don’t care how many fucking melons your Farmville farm grows. I don’t. Twitter is opt-in which i like, and you can easily grasp the concept, and with a short glance, see what people are saying. That’s the main reason for using Twitter. Brevity. Now,  Google+ is a new thing from Google. So naturally i had to try it. I got an invite from an old boss of mine, and soon i was typing away at something that is kind of like.. Facebook way back. Or an unbloated Facebook. But also not. It has some novel concepts, like the Circles, as a way to limit the distribution of whatever it is you are sharing. It’s much more multimedia oriented, which i like. It has the whole Hangout thing. It has no Farmville.

But still I’m not sure what it gives me over using Twitter. It’s status messages. It’s people’s doings and goings. It’s Google. I dunno. I probably won’t stick around, but I’ll give it a run for it’s money, that’s for sure.

At home, we’re still putting the finishing touches on the place. We’re having some people over tomorrow, god knows what that’ll be like. Tomorrow also marks the day i start my summer vacation. It could be in more relaxed circumstances, as I’ve been dealing with some nightmarish problems at work this past week. Somehow, even though i know i shouldn’t bring my work home, i end up doing that anyway. Because i feel that it’s somehow my duty. I want to do a good job, even if it means long hours. I want to make sure things are running smoothly. But i also know i desperately need a vacation. And the following four weeks are just what the doctor ordered.

Some Android bits and bobs: I’ve been running GingerReal 7.1.3 for the better part of a week now, and fucking hell it is a good ROM! My Galaxy S has longer battery life than ever, and the UI is snappy as hell. I’ll probably do a proper writeup once I’ve played around with it some more. I’ve now had my Galaxy S for a year, and the only complaint i really have is the lack of a physical QWERTY keyboard. My next phone will have that, for sure, but I might go with the Galaxy S for as long as it goes. It’s a solid phone, with a great community around it.

 

Random & The HBGary Federal stuff

Disclaimer – This was an earlier post, with a lot of speculation on my part, in regards to the HBGary hack by Anonymous. After more thorough research, a revised post was released here. Please refer to this if you are looking for a hopefully more accurate account

 

So the last few days, weeks, whatever have been a bit quiet. So i’ll just take this time off and talk about some of the issues i’ve been thinking about.

First of all, i need to get rid of a bunch of hardware, so if you need anything like memory, or servers (without their harddrives), or regular desktop machines.. or i suppose i might even have a few smaller lcd screens, hit me up with a comment or an email. I’ll post a better list later, but here’s some of the stuff:

  • Two HP DL380 tower servers, i don’t have the specs on hand, one was i think a dual processor and the other single. RAM included
  • An IBM xSeries tower server, which is actually pretty compact and not too loud, but also, it’s not very fast
  • Various desktop towers
  • RAM: DDR1, DDR2 (1GB and smaller sticks), and various DDR1 and DDR2 SO-DIMMs for laptops
  • I may also be selling two 17″ LCD screens
  • Various expansion cards and what-have-you

I’d also be interested in finding a pair of 2GB non-ECC DDR2 for my desktop, since running multiple virtual machines is putting a strain on my current 6GB configuration.

Currently i’m on an Oracle 11g course, which lasts five days. I’m not really going to be a database guy, and frankly i’m not too interested in this either. I do it from a pure carreer perspective, and because i know that we have a lack of Oracle knowledgeable people where i work.

Also, this morning i realized we live in a world where few clocks ever tell the same time. Waking up, eating breakfast and walking to the train station, i was confronted with at least 8 different versions of what the time currently was. Bewildering.

Anonymous owns HBGary and HBGary Federal

Disclaimer – This was an earlier post, with a lot of speculation on my part, in regards to the HBGary hack by Anonymous. After more thorough research, a revised post was released here. Please refer to this if you are looking for a hopefully more accurate account

And i don’t mean they bought the fuckers. So here’s the story as i’ve been able to patch it together: HBGary Federal (a separate corporate entity working under the HBGary name, providing infosec research and such for government) CEO and Co(?)-owner Aaron Barr decided he was going to blow this whole anonymous case wide open. Now as i’ve discussed in multiple posts, this stems from the clear stupidity and thick-headedness of people, refusing to understand what and how anonymous works. Barr had the brilliant idea of “infiltrating” the anonymous networks (err.. i mean the public irc-channels at anonops.ru #anonops #anonymous #reporters etc.) and find out as much as he could about the leadership of anonymous. He then compiled in data from various social networks, simply taking a persons IRC identity or other available data, and connecting it to mostly random people using the same nicknames or such on Facebook, for instance. You should now be able to see how faulty his methodology is to begin with. He then boasted that he has the identities of most of anonymous’ leadership and organisers. He made up roles and titles for various people, like “co-founder of anonymous”. Anonymous caught wind of this, and decided to have a look at the list.

Supposedly 16 year old female hacker ‘kayla’, known on the IRC channel as `k, social-engineered an admin at rootkit.com, Jussi Jaakonaho (who is also a chief researcher at Nokia, incidentally) pretending to be Greg Hoglund, CEO at the main company HBGary. Note that HBGary is not directly affiliated with HBGary Federal, though it carries a 15% share of HBGary Federal in the form of investments. Through Jussi, she was able to get root access to the servers at rootkit.com. From there the problems escalated, and while i don’t have the full details, i suspect credentials or data found on rootkit.com were used to compromise Barr’s account on HBGary Federal, and numerous other locations, such as Twitter.

The result was an onslaught of defacement and luls from Anonymous, as they downloaded over 50 000 internal e-mails from HBGary and HBGary Federal employees and executives. These were subsequently published as a torrent, which can be found with little to no trouble. To add insult to injury, Anonymous sent the “brilliantly” collected (and false) data that Barr was supposedly going to sell to the FBI (as evidenced by an 11 AM meeting on monday 7th February found in his e-mails) to the FBI for free. Barr claims he was never going to sell the data, or that he was going to redact the names, but that’s really irrelevant at this point. He also claims it was only for research purposes, but internal emails show he was clearly going to profit in a business sense either directly through selling the data/research or through PR he would have gotten for “exposing” the “leaders” of Anonymous. All of which is total and utter bullshit. Most of the people on the list have little or no affiliation to anonymous, and could have gotten into serious trouble had this data not come out in time.

Barr’s twitter account was owned, adding “raging homogay” to his about-box, and posting various lewd comments on his feed. His new Twitter avatar is also a variation of a classic 4chan meme, “Forever Alone”, modified to “Forever Barrlone”. You should really check it out, it’s quite funny if you are into this whole meme business. Also read all the tweets from the past few days, as they provide some insight into what went on.

Ted Vera’s (COO / President at HBGary) Linked in profile was also defaced to change his name to Colossal Faggot, though i doubt it’s still out there. Google cache might still have it, plus i suppose screenshots exist.

All in all i can’t say i give a flying fuck about any of these people or their respective companies. If you are in the security business, and particulary in the business of selling research and data to the federal government (thank god it’s not mine), then you need to be competetent and know what the hell it is you are doing. If you are an incompetent asswipe, then bad things may happen to you. You don’t deserve your job, your bonuses, your cushy little office and the notion of job security. You deserve to go back to school, admit your failures and start over. Though that might be a bit hard at this point, seeing as i would find it very unlikely that the likes of Barr would ever be hired to do anything with computers ever again.

Anonymous has stated they have in ther posession more emails that are as of yet unpublished, and they have had negotiations with the owner and CEO of HBGary as to the next steps in this whole debacle . The IRC logs of that are quite .. a read. Anonymous demanded that for the rest of the data to stay secret (this is called extortion), they need to see Aaron Barr stripped of his job, and all future investments to HBGary Federal. Also they requested that all such funds instead be diverted to the Bradley Manning defense fund, the EFF and other such causes. HBGary is in the process of thinking about things.

Quite a thing to see the CEO of a multi-million dollar company on IRC, begging these anonymous types not to release more mails, as they would cause millions in damage. “Think about what this will do to your reputation”, HBGary urged. Anonymous replied with “What reputation, and why should we care?”

It has to be rather bewildering for your average corporate type to face an adversary that does not care for the traditional things. Reputation is irrelevant. Possible consequences, irrelevant. Legal threats, irrelevant. Sure, you can (and they have) caught a number of people associated with anonymous, but there are tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of people ready to take their place, if they feel like it will get them the laugh of the day.

I’ll end with another paraphrasing from the IRC logs, where one Anonymous stated, after just saying he knows this will cost HBGary millions, and that he doesn’t care, that he will now go play Fallout.

Oh and one more thing…

I have to really hand it to both Greg Hoglund, and especially Penny Leavy, who is president of HBGary. She took time out of a nightmarish day, to go on IRC and talk to anonymous. She tried to talk to these people, and she tried to grasp the concepts. Aaron Barr however, who also appeared on the channel under the alias CogAnon, was less than courteous. He talked trash and left without answering any questions, clinging to the one sentence he thinks will save him: “I did it all for research”. That’s like pissing on an angry mob, who has already burned down your house, broken your car and kidnapped your cat.