Saturday, November 11, 2006

Perhaps It Is Accurate(For Really Large Values Of Zero)

Another e-voting machine issue:
Randy Wooten figured he'd get at least one vote in his bid for mayor of this town of 80 people even if it was just his own.

He didn't. Now he has to decide whether to file a formal protest.

I don't think these things are ready for prime time. And I'm not sure they will ever be ready as long as they rely on the PNATTMBTC* school of security.

There have been reports of the software being updated by technicians without any notification to the election board. A group in Norway has managed to break into a machine in less than 30 seconds. There is no third-party auditing of these devices. This last is important because there have been some cases reported of the machines locking up (did it take my votes?) and pre-selecting candidates.

The first two are easily solved through well implemented procedures by the election boards with these devices. The second by updating and hardening the housing these systems use. But the last one will only happen with government regulation, I fear. Security professionals (myself included) have long held that a security system that relies on obscurity is as bad as no security at all (not always, there are cases where obscurity is definite asset --this is not one of them). Diebold has claimed that its source code is proprietary and contains trade secrets, so no one gets to look at it. This is bad for any groups or governments that use their system, and they are pretty much the only major player.

Granted the article I linked to didn't actually come out and say it was a Diebold machine, but it's a fairly likely it was.

With a combination of Nondisclosure Agreements and the use of reputable code-auditing firms, this should be a non-issue. For some reason Diebold will not do it. So far all auditing and quality-control remains in house. This is a bad idea. It is very difficult to catch subtle mistakes that you yourself made.

I know of at least one open source project that is trying to get off the ground, but a lot of times these projects whither away due to lack of interest, lack of funds and lack of developers. I can only hope it's not the case here.

As much as I am against the "regulate everything and let God sort it out" mindset that seems to pervade the US government, I think in this particular case it is earnestly needed.

* - Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain

Thursday, November 09, 2006


I just saw the Spider-Man:III trailer.

I knew about Sandman, but, but, but...

The Venom Symbiote!!! (<- the three exclamation points are for super excited goodness) That was my favorite story arc back when I was collecting.

I feel like I'm in full-on high school geek out mode! (dear lord, I'm hyperventilating)

Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Fußball!

I have to say the soccer team didn't think this one through very well.
Sensitivity training has been ordered for a high school soccer team that broadcast part of a Nazi speech over the public address system before a game.

The North Carolina High School Association on Wednesday also placed the boy's soccer team at Forestview High School on probation for a year. An assistant coach and a player were suspended for one game.
Sensitivity training is no joke. If it's anything like the mandatory "Diversity Training" found in large multi-national companies (oh, like the one I'm in, maybe?), these kids will want to stab themselves in the eyes repeatedly before it's over.

At this point in their lives sensitivity training is a waste of time. These kids have pretty much codified their value systems by now. Including things like bigotry, which is what this sensitivity training is supposed to combat. These types of values --morality, ethics, tolerance; call it what you will --need to be introduced at a much younger age. And if it's not reinforced by the parents, or worse yet, negated by them, this type of exercise is pretty much useless.

However, I do wonder if this was truly a "Nazi" thing. Perhaps they Googled their team motto On To Victory and this speech by Goebbels came up. The Germans of the time (especially Hitler) were electrifying speakers. These kids may have been attracted to the sheer energy of the speech, looking at it as a way to charge up the team. I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt; given the state of education these days, I'd give long odds to any of them actually understanding German.


What they did was stupid and ill considered. Whether malice was intended or not, they have been punished for their actions. Which is as it should be. Whether or not the sensitivity training takes hold, we can be assured they have learned at least one lesson: people will hold you accountable for your actions regardless of motive.

On To Victory is kind of a lame, kitschy slogan. But it is better than their first choice:

Arbeit Macht Frei.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Busy, Busy, Busy!

Doing monthly global vulnerability reports for work. May not get to post anything more toaday. Maybe tonight.

But I wouldn't hold your breath.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Technology Tuesday - It's Rantin' Time!

Best Buy, quite simply, sucks ass. They have now managed to alienate potential customers who were willing to spend hundreds of dollars. I stopped buying from them about 4 years ago, and I warn others away from there. Why?
  • The sales staff is so uneducated about the products they shill, they make shit up. I have witnessed sales drones spewing bullshit about what MHz/GHz ratings mean for processors, BS about memory size, and moronic statements regarding wireless security. Which leads me to my next sales person related issue:

  • For the millionth time! I. DO. NOT. WANT. YOUR. WORTHLESS. SERVICE. PLAN!

  • The online store "pick up" sales has never worked for me. I tried three separate times to purchase items online for pick-up, only to arrive at the store to have some apathetic little shit tell me "We don't have any." Even though the website said specifically they were in stock at that location. (And heaven forbid you tell them to reverse the charge on your card -- they act like you've asked them to undertake the Trials of Hercules)

  • Geek Squad, oh how I loathe thee. I hate these smug fuckers with a passion. I have had occasion to meet Geek Squad workers from time to time. The depth of their technical knowledge is minuscule yet underwhelming. And the funny thing is, they don't realize that being on the "Squad" is the IT equivalent of working at McDonald's.
The list does go on, but those are my biggest complaints.

They are the number one reason I buy most of my electronics from Amazon these days. I can research the products online, order them, and have them delivered to my door in two days. And so far, not one hassle returning defective products or getting an exchange or refund.

And now, legions of gamers have a reason to join me in my hatred of the blue store with the yellow tag.

Solidarity, my gaming brothers and sisters!

Monday, November 06, 2006

A New Bill Whittle Post! A New Bill Whittle Post!

Bill Whittle, whose posting frequency can best be described as glacial, has a new post titled Seeing The Unseen Part 1.

The United States of America does not have any political control over any other sovereign nation on the face of the Earth. We have influence, but influence is to control as a rich uncle is to a prison warden. That’s all you need to know. The entire idea of American Empire and U.S. Imperialism is dead on its face after that. No control means no empire. Period.

But we do have a large footprint in the rest of the world, and have military bases all across the globe. Is that a form of empire?

Look, the whole point of having an empire is to take the wealth out of the colonies and return them to enrich the home country. The US not only does not pull in the resources of other nations…it does exactly the reverse. We pump billions and billions of dollars annually into those nations that host our facilities, and the minute any one of those nations decides we are no longer welcome, we pack our bags, leave and turn those billion-dollar institutions over to the host country. (Look up Subic Bay and Clark AFB in the Philippines for some recent examples)

This is not “imperial behavior.” It is, in fact, the precise opposite of imperial behavior. I guess somehow STOP U.S. ANTI-IMPERIALISM just doesn’t have the same snap somehow for the North Korean-backed International A.N.S.W.E.R. crowd. Color me shocked.

It's long, as are all of Whittle's posts. But they are deeper and more insightful than anything I could ever hope to write (and I try at times).

Boobie News

I normally don't stay abreast of this field. (God, I crack me up sometimes). It appears that silicone implants are poised to be let back into the market. Now, I'm not someone who appreciates fakes, or even gigantor size fun-bags, so I would usually take this type of news with my typical disinterest. But this statement just jumped out at me.
"I would be interested in the new cohesive silicone implants," she said. "I have read that these are the best and most real-feeling. They will not 'bleed' if they rupture. The consistency is like a gummi bear."
Perhaps I've been dating the wrong women, but I don't seem to recall any of the breasts I've had access to feeling like giant flesh colored gummi bears.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Hemp Fandango

The verdict is in.
Saddam, 69, initially refused to stand when brought in to hear the verdict from Kurdish chief judge Raouf Abdul Rahman, at a quickfire, 45-minute hearing. When he did, shakily, with clear emotion, he yelled the defiant Arab battle cry "Allahu Akbar!" (God is Greatest) and "Long live Iraq" as the judgment was read.
You know, I'm more than willing to lend Iraq my wood-chipper.