Articles, Page 9 of 215

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10 Jan 15
Question

PTSD Veterans and Gun Ownership

I am faced with a dilemma. Do I allow my PTSD claim with the VA (which they are overdue on by 3.5 years since submission) to come to fruition or do I cancel it and forego the covered care? It seems like an obvious choice – get the care.

But I am a gun owner. I enjoy sport shooting. It’s actually quite therapeutic. But PTSD is considered mental illness. Many states have passed laws like New York’s SAFE Act that would make me a felon for possessing my firearms after being diagnosed with PTSD – also making me ineligible to buy and even allowing the police to come to my home and seize the weapons w/o compensation. There are policies in place where the VA is somewhat attempting to protect its veterans by denying the entry of its PTSD compensated veterans into these national databases. After all, most veterans can safely handle firearms and enjoy them – hence why many were in the military in the first place. Such practices will lead many to never seek care. Studies, naturally, show both sides are correct. Some show that the link between mental illness and gun violence is merely a myth while others advocate that stricter mental illness restrictions be imposed on firearm ownership.

05 Jan 15
Newspaper

Fingerprint Forging from Photographs

Biometrics are becoming increasingly popular as security mechanisms – visa terminals, smartphones, etc. The premise, of course, is that certain characteristics of a person are globally unique and therefore serve as both an identifier and authenticator. Therein lies an access vector for thieves. For years, movies have depicted the easiest method for fingerprint defeating simply by cutting people’s fingers off. But now, hacker Jan Krissler, demonstrated the ability to clone fingerprints of famous people (a politician for his demo) using nothing but high resolution photographs available all over the Internet.

31 Dec 14
Newspaper

CIA Admits - We Were the UFOs

The CIA has certainly taken to enjoy using it’s Twitter account. Most recently, the clandestine agency tweeted about their most read documents of 2014 and highlighted one about their U2 program. Essentially, the CIA took credit for more than half the UFO sightings from the 1950s through the 1960s based on the aircraft’s ability to fly so much higher than anybody thought possible back in the day. Their basis for assuming they were the UFOs was made on correlating UFO reports against their log (previously classified) of U2 flight activity. Of course, the CIA’s revelation only accounts for half the UFOs, the rest are still unknown.

24 Dec 14
Newspaper

More Hardware Based Infection Vectors

A vulnerability analyst developed a proof of concept for infecting OS X computers with a persistent rootkit simply by plugging in a Thunderbolt device. A customized Thunderbolt device can send unsigned firmware updates into the host machine that are accepted into the host’s Option ROM. Upon reboot, the rootkit begins execution before the OS even loads, allowing it to perform whatever nefarious functions it wants via hooks and patches on the loaded code before security software ever has a chance to see it. The technique is more dastardly version of existing techniques – exfiltrating/infiltrating data via FireWire DMA or the Dirty USB presented at 2014’s BlackHat.

19 Dec 14
Newspaper

Gamma Rays more Common

Gamma Rays – everyone knows they turn normal people into superheroes. They are a form of radiation that are correlated to mutating active DNA sequences. It turns out, the elusive Gamma Ray is not so elusive after all and occurs naturally with a high daily frequency. NASA’s Fermi satellite reveals nearly 1100 Gamma Ray bursts daily from Earth’s lightning storms. So if you want to gain superpowers (or die), go hang out next to lightning strikes.

19 Dec 14
Cup

My Year of BitCoin Mining

About a year ago, the price of a single BitCoin skyrocketed above $1200 apiece. I finally opted to get in on the action after having now missed the BitCoin boat for a fourth time. It began with getting myself a single 10GH/s miner and a little slice of cloud time as the days of CPU and GPU mining were long past. Although I eventually made it up to 120GH/s worth of Chili Miners, I never really kept any mining hardware longer than three months and continued to exchange it out on Craigslist to minimize monetary loss on equipment. I also dabbled in with the AltCoins [LiteCoin] and doing pooled exchanges which were possible with a home built GPU mining rig. All of this was quite entertaining at least to build the equipment, solve cooling, optimize hash rates, and plan a mining strategy. I eventually grew tired of the GPU fan noise and dumped that equipment before the summer time heat set in. At it’s peak, I was using nearly 2KW of power between the GPUs and the ASICs. In the end, I settled on trading GH/s as a derivative on CEX.io while using my “owned” speed for hashing.

18 Dec 14
Newspaper

Sony Caves to North Korea

The motivation behind the massive hack against Sony Pictures became more clear in the past few days. Seth Rogen’s and James Franco’s new film The Interview is at the heart of the attacks from North Korea for its portrayal of a comedic assassination attempt on Kim Jong-un. Following the cyber-attack were many messages posted to pastebin from the alleged hackers included one presumably threatening violence to movie-goers that simply stated, “We will clearly show it to you at the very time and places ‘The Interview’ be shown, including the premiere, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to. Remember the 11th of September 2001.” At first, Sony pictures remained defensive but on Wednesday night the media giant caved to North Korea’s threats after five major chains dropped the movie.

12 Dec 14
Cup

Science Fiction and the Speed of Gravity

If you haven’t seen the new Christopher Nolan film, Interstellar, I’m about to ruin parts of it for you. The movie touches on time travel in a scientific way using General Relativity but then makes a huge leap into an ability to influence the past via gravitational waves and wormholes. Personally, I thought that brought back the whole notion whether time travel actually implied fate (in this case yes) or could a traveler actually alter the timeline.

Anyway, if for no other reason, the movie made me go back and look at the notion of the speed of gravity. The question comes up with how gravity can influence objects over vast distances and whether if an object were to suddenly disappear whether the affects of its vanishing mass (to energy) would outrun the light. So for example, an object is orbiting a black hole at distance of several light years and that black hole suddenly exploded. Would the object continue to orbit even though there is no longer a gravitational attraction or suddenly split off into space even though the information (light) from the explosion is not yet “visible” (hence gravity effects are faster than light speed). The explanations behind warped space indicate the orbit will continue even without the mass because the warping does not instantaneously cease – like it does in classical Newtonian physics. Of course, none of those models talk about what a wave would do through a wormhole …

12 Dec 14
Newspaper

CIA Torture Report

The bad press for the CIA is old news, everyone already knew about the waterboarding and the torture allegations at secret sites around the world. However, everything has come back into the limelight with the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s release of a scathing report on the CIAs’ detention and interrogation programs. Originally, the document was a highly classified 6000 page report that after heavy redactions, resulted in a few hundred pages available to the public. The public version seems highly damning with regards to the methods and techniques not working effectively, but it really makes one wonder what is hidden in the other 5500~ish pages? The CIA leadership are not denying the methods but are adamant the methods were effective and continue to insist they were instrumental in located the Hide-n-Seek World Champion Osama bin Laden. Regardless of how the politicians spin the fingerpointing, the government is already bracing for reprisal attacks from the terrorist cells that can now read about what happened to their captured brethren.

06 Dec 14
Newspaper

NASA's Orion Success

NASA pushed itself forward again with a “successful Orion launch and orbital flight”http://www.nasa.gov/orion/. This launch utilized the powerful Delta IV booster, capable of putting 23 tons into space. Once in low Earth orbit, the second stage pushed the Orion capsule out to 3600 miles where it orbited 15x further out than the ISS. NASA notes this as remarkable because no craft designed for humans has been out that far since the lunar missions in the 70s. It’s planned to be an entire system of equipment with an even larger booster set to push manned spaceflight back outside of Earth’s orbit for deep space missions.

06 Dec 14
Newspaper

North Koreans Hacking Sony Pictures

The great hack against Sony Pictures has gotten a lot of press lately as one of the largest hacks of all time. Not only was the breach itself large, but the hackers posted an incredible amount of information to the public including unreleased movies, internal memos, salary information, and personal information about employees (medical, etc). The current belief is the group responsible for the attack is actually a state sponsored effort from North Korea. It’s still unclear how the initial intrusion took place, but the security researchers are attributing the North Koreans based on similar tradecraft and tools found in forensics to include those tools containing Korean language strings. The upcoming movie, The Interview has been suggested as the motive behind North Korea leveraging its cyber force against Sony Pictures.

29 Nov 14
Question

Global War On Terrorism Deserters

America has fought the Global War on Terror for thirteen years now. As a result of various reasons – conscientious objectors, political disagreement, cowardice, and others – a large number of Americans have deserted the military. Their stories vary, but many are hidden away in Canada facing deportation back to the United States where they face UCMJ (though allegedly only 1,866 of 35,598 deserters have been prosecuted in twelve years). Officially, Article 85, subjects deserters found guilty to death, “c) Any person found guilty of desertion or attempt to desert shall be punished, if the offense is committed in time of war, by death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct.”

29 Nov 14
Question

Star Wars - The Force Awakens

The first trailer for JJ Abrams reboot of the Star Wars saga, Episode VII, is out in the wild. There’s a quick synopsis of reveals at the Huffington Post regarding the actors and fanboy speculation. Nerds around the world have another year to wait until the actual movie is released, though.

What do you think?

28 Nov 14
Newspaper

Value of Being Published

Having one’s work published in a trade journal, periodical, or even book is still often considered a mark of bona fides. But why? Especially now that anybody can spin up a publication mechanism or one with minimal barriers to publication. Another scam was uncovered in the peer review chains where authors were forging reviews to make their content stand out as superb. Even more glaring are the publishing mills that do not even check content which was recently exposed by the article “Get Me Off Your Fucking Mailing List” published by a notional journal. The article was nothing but a profanity laced sentence repeated over and over.

24 Nov 14
Newspaper

Ferguson ... America?

Ferguson, Missouri … how representative of the United States is this place? The city dealt with a series of riots and unrest after Officer Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown. And now, a grand jury has opted to not indict the police officer which has already resulted in fresh violence. The situation is clearly bad when the President of the United States has to pre-emptively make a statement telling citizens NOT to exhibit violence in the wake of the decision.

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