VnutZ's Articles, Page 5 of 70
If you haven’t at least heard of BitCoins, you’re living under the proverbial rock. The Internet’s digital currency of anonymity based on encryption algorithms has had interesting ride over the past year. Approximately a year ago, they were valued at just over $4 each after a particularly scathing cyber theft. This lull was followed by a spectacular rise starting in early 2013 to over $260 each. Despite the rises and falls, it would seem BitCoins are going to stick around for awhile and their continued acceptance (Amazon, PayPal, etc.) has led economists to start paying legitimate attention to them.
What do you think the Army will do this time around? The last time an Army football player was drafted by the NFL, the Army opted to send him off to war instead. Recently, four year quarterback Trent Steelman was signed by the Baltimore Ravens. It would seem a broader target audience to have a professional football player advocating the US Army for public relations than hitting the American Southeasts for NASCAR (although that ends this year) and drag racing.
Only days ago, hackers compromised the Associated Press’s Twitter account and posted a breaking news story about explosions at the White House injuring the President. The Tweet (I hate that term) went viral and actually caused a 1% drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average though the dip was later recovered in further trading. The hack is presently attributed to the Syrian Electronic Army claiming to be “a group of enthusiastic Syrian youths who could not stay passive towards the massive distortion of facts about the recent uprising in Syria.” While this is amongst the first hacks to truly pan out an effect on the free market, it was not sustained but reveals an ability for adversaries to take non-traditional avenues towards impacting real world operations beyond simple site defacements and denials of service.
Curious – was catching the bomber done appropriately?
First, it involved a voluntary lockdown of Boston which legal experts are saying was really a “shelter in place” typically used for keeping order in a disease outbreak. The governor requested everyone stay indoors during the manhunt due to the increased police activity, questioning, vehicle movements and the violence that ensued in their pursuit. What if it had been a true lock down? Should the governor have the authority to force everyone to stay indoors and possibly throw a blanket probable cause on across the board for search purposes?
So apparently a pair of bombs went off near the finish line of the annual Boston Marathon. At about 2:45pm EST, the bombs exploded along Boylston Street near Copley Square and allegedly within roughly 100 yards of each other. Reporting continues to vary with current deaths at two and nearly a hundred casualties evacuated to various medical facilities sporting injuries from burns and scratches to amputations. The explosions’ timing for an hour after the first finishers seemed timed to wait on a greater number of marathon runners to be within the vicinity.
“Pew Pew Pew”, said the USS Ponce. No seriously, by 2014, the United States Navy will be deploying a solid state laser to sea aboard the USS Ponce. Current testing has validated the weapon at destroying drones and small ships. Navy officials believe utilizing energy weapons will save the military money in the long run due to each shots estimated cost being less than $1 (after recouping the cost of installation of course).
What happens when your host state passes a number of laws unfriendly to your business? You pack up and move elsewhere. As Maryland has passed a number of recent laws banning or severely regulating the products of Beretta, the nearly 500 year old company has opted to leave the state. With it, the company will take over 300 jobs, production for thousands of weapons for the US military and law enforcement and millions of dollars in annual tax revenue for the state. “Why expand in a place where the people who built the gun couldn’t buy it?” said Jeffrey Reh, general counsel for Beretta.
The first GPS navigation devices for cars were strictly “dumb” in the sense of picking optimal routes on speed or distance. The past few years have seen models incorporate traffic information to perform on-the-fly route optimization. That information used to come through inaudible frequencies through FM radio but the prevalence of smartphone GPS navigation applications is shifting that to a direct pull via the Internet. But how has that data been derived? Many of those smartphones in cars are transmitting speed and location information back to central servers that aggregate the data to determine flow rates on traffic routes. However, due to users demanding privacy, the traffic aggregators cannot guarantee authenticity of the originating source. What does this mean? Well, a BlackHat presentation shows a proof-of-concept for falsifying traffic data in order to “control” the information passed back to drivers. (pdf)
What would the most effective way to map the entire Internet in a short amount of time? Distribute the scan out as far as you can and then aggregate the results in order to farm the processing, bandwidth and network reach of others. One researcher took the time to craft a script designed to access insecure embedded device across the Internet using default credentials. Then, leveraging all of those devices he launched nmap scans of the entire IPv4 address space to paint a picture of the 2012 Internet. Who knows, there’s a good chance your Internet modem or Internet enabled device (TV, DVR, etc.) participated in the scan.
It took me awhile, but I finally finished writing up my build article – Cummins 4BT Jeep Wrangler TJ Diesel Conversion – on converting my 2006 Jeep Wrangler over to diesel. My 4.0L died back in 2011 so I was faced with the cost of replacing the engine anyway otherwise I wouldn’t have ever considered doing it.
Since the conversion completed, I’ve put 13,000 miles on her in the past six months. As long as I keep her in the right RPM band, she gets 28mpg at 55mph (4th gear). That quickly drops to 22mpg at 70mph (5th gear). I would imagine a 2nd generation Cummins 4BT with electronic management could do even better. Another way to look at these efficiency gains is 7.27 miles per dollar for diesel compared with 4.16 miles per dollar for regular unleaded at today’s prices. I should be able to improve those numbers once I get the Bosch VE fuel pump leak fixed (it drips out a lot of diesel right now). Leak or not, with my 31.5 gallon Safari tank, it’s pretty nice to go 700 miles before the fuel light comes on and know that I still have 182 miles left before empty!
Hugo Chavez continues to influence the world, his final act being to make a personal, elbow to elbow recommendation to Jesus on a new pope. As spoken by Nicolas Maduro, the acting Venezuelan President, “We know that our commander ascended to those heights and is face to face with Christ. Something must have influenced [Jesus] to call for a South American pope.” Of course, Maduro is also opening an investigation into his death because, “we have the intuition that our commander Chávez was poisoned by dark forces that wanted him out of the way.” The Venezuelans believe foreign agencies, particularly the United States, are responsible for giving him cancer. Such a belief probably propagated because Chavez himself alluded to exactly that in a speech to his soldiers, “would it be strange if they had developed the technology to induce cancer and nobody knew about it?”
A new quandary has arisen with surrogate parenthood. A family opted to pay for a surrogate mother due to fears for the biological mother’s survivability. During routine natal examinations, it was discovered the fetus had developmental abnormalities whereupon physicians declared it only had 25% of living a normal, healthy life. At this point, the family requested the surrogate mother have an abortion as they were not prepared or able to handle a medically needy child and offered financial compensation. The surrogate, however, refused.
How should a situation like this best be handled?
The Secretary of Defense recently authorized a new medal for military service members, the Distinguished Warfare Medal (pdf). It can be awarded for members of the armed forces “who distinguish themselves, on or after September 11, 2001, by extraordinary achievement, not involving acts of valor, directly impacting, through any domain, combat operations or other military operations” which basically gives drone operators or cyber operators an opportunity to be recognized. This is not necessarily a bad idea, until one looks at the line reading that it “provides an avenue to recognize appropriately extraordinary direct impacts on combat operations warranting recognition above the Bronze Star Medal.” The order of precedence has stirred up a number of veterans calling the award an insult to those performing valorous or heroic acts. The term “xBox Medal” is definitely being thrown around within the ranks already. A petition is already on the White House website requesting the precedence be re-evaluated.
Let’s just say the Iranians have been caught fudging their weapons tests to the public before. Their recent announcement of a stealth fighter has been met with extraordinary criticism that the vehicle is a mere mockup and completely incapable of actual flight. One comment indicated it looked like, “Iranian designers went back through the catalog of cool combat aircraft, picked out some of the coolest bits, and just stuck them all together to make a new airplane with a badass look about it.” Even before that, the Iranians were hyping up their space launch with a monkey aboard that is increasingly in doubt as well. Upon it’s “return”, the Iranians apparently displayed a different monkey than the one photographed for the launch, which they now claim was a photo mixup. Uh huh.