Articles, Page 16 of 207

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03 Jan 12
Newspaper

Top OmniNerd Content of 2011

As 2012 begins, OmniNerd enters it’s eighth year of existence. Here’s a quick look back at the site’s changes and some of the top content from 2011 in various categories.

Visually, OmniNerd didn’t change too much but there were major changes to the site unseen to the naked eye. Mark converted the entire architecture to Rails 3.1 and migrated us to new hardware to keep up with the times. Matt added some moderator tools to deal with spammers along with the “Looking Glass” feature to revisit content from 1, 3 and 5 years past. Additionally, the promotion links were changed to better support FaceBook Sharing and Google “+1s”. Our nerds contributed 193 new articles, 38 links, 16 books and 41 polls all while debating each other with 1793 comments.

26 Dec 11
Question

Protesters as Person of the Year

2011 is certainly not the first year that Time magazine elected to not highlight a particular individual but rather an entire class of individuals. For 2011, Time chose “the protester” as its Person of the Year. Given the events of 2011, that spans Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street and other outbreaks across the globe. A worthy choice or editorial cop-out?

24 Dec 11
Question

Violence in Egypt, Syria and Yemen

Uh huh … tell me again NATO wasn’t in Libya just for the oil. I believe I was told by the OmniNerd population (or maybe just one individual – you know who you are) that we were there to protect human rights and suppress violent outlashes from the governments. In the past two weeks alone, the violence and bloodshed that have increased in Egypt, Syria and Yemen seem to prove to me that you are absolutely wrong.

23 Dec 11
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Concert Go-er Types

My wife gave me a little binder to hold my ticket stubs a while back. It’s chock-full mostly of faded and worn paper bits from the concert scene of the lat 90s. Growing up in Dallas I went to see either Tripping Daisy, Hagfish, Course of Empire, The Toadies, or Reverend Horton Heat1 on a weekly basis, it seemed. I still have the Dr. Martens on which I spent all of my extra cash to survive the mosh pits. Yes, I was one of those.

Speaking of stereotypes (or maybe just of types), I put together this list (in the order they occurred to me) of the various kinds of people I encountered at concerts in those days. It’s been over a decade, but something tells me things haven’t changed much…

23 Dec 11
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Unfinished: Clarity on Differences in Modern Christianity on the Nature of God

DISCLAIMER: For the second time I’m going to post something I didn’t finish – and I don’t anticipate finishing. I’m throwing this out there without even knowing if I even really agree with all of it. But it might generate some discussion … right?


Introduction

I’ve often had occasion to argue the differences in the Latter-day Saint and Protestant/Catholic beliefs on the nature of God, but recently it’s been from a new angle. Instead of arguing the biblical support of LDS doctrine to those securely fastened to biblical infallibility, I’ve found myself arguing to those without religious faith of any kind that differences between the beliefs of Latter-day Saints and “mainstream Christians” do not invalidate LDS doctrine. It’s interesting to note the way the approaches differ when talking to each group. The Protestant/Christian approach is:

14 Dec 11
Newspaper

Carrier IQ Saga Continues

About a month ago, hacker Trevor Eckhart began exploring Android smartphone security and came across a piece of embedded software from CarrierIQ. He more or less reverse engineered components of it in conjunction with documents obtained from their website about its features and determined that for all intents and purposes, it was a rootkit.1 This created a huge buzz about the prevalence of the software as it is installed on virtually every smartphone from Android to iPhone with varying degrees of logging performed. Now, the point of the software was to permit telecommunications carriers to monitor performance of handsets on their networks to provide better service. The question really begged … how does logging my keystrokes, recording my text messages, provide remote access, etc help the network? At first, the company tried to censor the researcher for revealing the extent to which their software monitored phone owners. After the EFF stepped in to protect him, CarrierIQ instead came forward with a 19 page pdf response on their software even specifically addressing a recent FOIA request to the FBI for it’s use of CarrierIQ data. The FBI, rather than deny they utilized CarrierIQ’s information simply refuses to release records about it. Despite CarrierIQ’s continued denial the software does things like log keystrokes, Trevor Eckhart demonstrates that it does exactly that in his Carrier IQ Part #2 analysis (which is also presented on the YouTube video above for those not interested in reading).

13 Dec 11
Newspaper

Utility of Standardized Testing

Are standardized tests really providing value in quantifying a student’s academic ability or future potential? A Florida board of education member was curious about that very question so he arranged to take the FCAT himself to identify with the students on both its validity and problems.

I won’t beat around the bush. The math section had 60 questions. I knew the answers to none of them, but managed to guess ten out of the 60 correctly. On the reading test, I got 62% . In our system, that’s a ‘D,’ and would get me a mandatory assignment to a double block of reading instruction.

12 Dec 11
Newspaper

RQ-170 Downed in Iran

One of American’s not hostile drones has been captured by the Iranians after it crashed 140 miles into their country (off the Afghanistan border). It’s a model known as the RQ-170 and is now being associated to über-secret CIA efforts to monitor Iranian nuclear development. Since the crash, Iran has released a video showing Iranian officials examining the captured drone on display. As one might assume, the US government has neither confirmed nor denied the authenticity of the video given the seemingly intact nature of the drone despite crashing from over 50,000 feet. Higher resolution pictures from TheAviationist show little to no damage at all on the displayed drone with only minor abrasions to the lower wing and what appears to be putty work. Stories have varied as to the reasoning for the drone’s loss ranging from Iran claiming to have shot it down to have hacked it’s C2 causing the crash. Regardless of the reason, adversaries are chomping at the bit to reverse engineer the technologies on board.

09 Dec 11
Newspaper

Facebook Worm and User Relationships

In the 1960s, Stanley Milgram proposed the “small world” concept that everyone on the planet could be linked within six acquaintance hops. This is the basis for the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game showing his relationship to just about any actor/actress one can think of.1 The “small world” theory was attacked pretty hard in 2002 (pdf) when researchers looked at Milgram’s analysis and found it was based on relatively flaky empirical evidence. Needless to say, Facebook’s 800 million active users provide relatively solid empirical evidence for Internet connected users that global relationships can be achieved in not 6 hops, but a mere 4.7.

09 Dec 11
Newspaper

Virtual US Embassy to Iran

Having an embassy in Iran is risky business as the UK can attest to with its recent run in with Iranian protesters. The United States has not held a diplomatic presence in Iran since November of 1979 when protesters stormed the American embassy and took hostages. Recognizing the need to inform interested Iranians about the West without [local] state control spin, the United States has launched a virtual embassy to Iran through the Internet. According to the State Department, “This website is not a formal diplomatic mission, nor does it represent or describe a real US embassy accredited to the Iranian government. But, in the absence of direct contact, it can work as a bridge between the American and Iranian people.”

09 Dec 11
Newspaper

FTL Neutrino Experiment Replicated

Only last month, CERN researchers stirred up controversy when a neutrino experiment produced a result indicating faster-than-light (FTL) speeds. While the back and forth about the experiment being flawed continues, the researchers pushed ahead and repeated their experiment while addressing many of the most vocalized concerns. Their result? A statistically significant number of neutrinos are still showing FTL speeds in the experiment such that many of the original CERN researchers that were on the fence are now buying into the results.

05 Dec 11
Newspaper

Firmware Attacks on Printers

Back in the days of yore, hackers used to threaten users with physical damage like burning a hole into their CRT.1 It’s been a long time since true, physical damage threats have percolated but now security researchers are proposing they could set your printer on fire. The simplicity of network connected printers has also made a persistent presence on a target’s network much easier. Essentially, nobody ever checks whether the firmware loaded on a printer is the version provided by the OEM and their ubiquitous presence and 24/7 uptime make them prime targets. The hackers are completely replacing the embedded firmware in popular printer models with their own custom brew allowing them to steal printed documents remotely or finagle with the printer’s internal mechanism (like overheating a laser fuser). HP responded to the claims that it’s newer printers require digitally signed firmware and that the threat of fire is impossible due to thermal safeguards on the fuser element.

05 Dec 11
Newspaper

GCHQ Cyber Challenge

Years ago, Google was recruiting employees through the use of puzzles. GCHQ, Great Britain’s intelligence service, recently ran a similar campaign over the weekend entitle Can You Crack It featuring ciphertext in hexadecimal. It only took a weekend for the challenge to be broken with a complete write-up in video snippets on the technique available from Dr. Gareth Owen. Apparently, the job offer hidden within pays a mere £25,000 which many of the folks skilled enough to solve the puzzle are laughing at as absurdly small.

05 Dec 11
Newspaper

Pentagon Releases National Cyber Strategy

The United States has always stayed pretty mum about its offensive cyber-warfare intentions though the rhetoric has been shrouded in less and less secrecy and become more overt of late. Earlier in 2011, the White House released its International Strategy For Cyberspace (pdf) which first officially opened the can-of-worms regarding attack possibilities. USCYBERCOM, a sub-command to USSTRATCOM, finally has its operating guidance through the recent Department of Defense Cyberspace Policy Report (pdf) issued to Congress. Perhaps the most important bullet from that document explicitly states that both kinetic and non-kinetic cyber options are at the President’s disposal when dealing with attacks against the United States.

02 Dec 11
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Disabling VMware Automatic Snapshots on ESX Server

Many of the servers I’m operating exist in a VMware environment and were created on their Workstation platform before migrating to ESX. I had configured rolling, automatic snapshots under the Workstation environment where it was easily configurable and allowed me to, obviously, rollback any stupid changes I had made to my production images. However, after porting my images to ESX, the vSphere client did not allow me to edit this settings in any obvious fashion.

Laziness ensued and I went on my merry way only to discover these servers were consuming hundreds of gigabytes of provisioned space after several months had passed due to the fashion in which these snapshots were taken. I typically had to manually delete all the snapshots or consolidate them in order to recover diskspace. I passed this problem along to a VMware employee buddy of mine who advised:

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