Recently in Geekdom Category

An "art" theft

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Interesting - from The Beeb:

Gold toilet stolen in Blenheim Palace burglary
An 18-carat solid gold toilet has been stolen in a burglary overnight at Blenheim Palace.

A gang broke into the Oxfordshire palace at about 04:50 BST and stole the artwork, Thames Valley Police said.

The working toilet - entitled America, which visitors had been invited to use - has not been found but a 66-year-old man has been arrested.

The burglary caused "significant damage and flooding" because the toilet was plumbed into the building, police said.

It was part of an exhibition by Italian conceptual artist Maurizio Cattelan that opened on Thursday.

The 18th Century stately home is a World Heritage Site and the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. It is currently closed while investigations continue.

I hope they retrieve it before it is melted down for scrap. Fun piece. Not my taste in art but still, a fun cultural prank.

Brilliant design - corner cabinet

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Remodeling my kitchen and just saw this - outstanding idea for what is usually wasted space:

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An interesting copyright loophole - books

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From Motherboard:

Libraries and Archivists Are Scanning and Uploading Books That Are Secretly in the Public Domain
A coalition of archivists, activists, and libraries are working overtime to make it easier to identify the many books that are secretly in the public domain, digitize them, and make them freely available online to everyone. The people behind the effort are now hoping to upload these books to the Internet Archive, one of the largest digital archives on the internet.

As it currently stands, all books published in the U.S. before 1924 are in the public domain, meaning they’re publicly owned and can be freely used and copied. Books published in 1964 and after are still in copyright, and by law will be for 95 years from their publication date.

But a copyright loophole means that up to 75 percent of books published between 1923 to 1964 are secretly in the public domain, meaning they are free to read and copy. The problem is determining which books these are, due to archaic copyright registration systems and convoluted and shifting copyright law.

As such, a coalition of libraries, volunteers, and archivists have been working overtime to identify which titles are in the public domain, digitize them, then upload them to the internet. At the heart of the effort has been the New York Public Library, which recently documented why the entire process is important, but a bit of a pain.

Very cool. Information wants to be free.

Cute idea for a cat bed

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From the US Patent Office #10,398,125

Laptop or keyboard simulating pet bed
A bed for a pet comprises a computer keyboard simulating enclosure having a top side having a plurality of simulated computer keys, a bottom side adapted for laying on a horizontal surface, and a peripheral edge. A heating element is fixed within the enclosure and is adapted to heat at least the top side of the enclosure. A power conduit traversing the enclosure is adapted for connecting the heating element with a power source. The bed further includes pressure-activated switch for activating the heating element, a keyboard sound simulating device, an illumination device, a vibration device, and/or a simulated laptop display projecting away from a rear side of the enclosure.

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I do not know what it is about cats and keyboards but there is an affinity.

Cute: Microsoft the Musical

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Some of the 2019 summer interns produced this video:

From the YouTube listing::

You Can, You Should, You Will
"Microsoft the Musical" was dreamt up and led by interns spending the summer of 2019 at Microsoft. This Tony Awards-style musical theater opening number is just one of many passion projects that came to life because we were encouraged to bring our whole selves to work. And that’s what we did: 150 interns and employees came in on mornings, weekends, and nights to create this outside of (and in addition to) their day jobs.

Microsoft’s mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. We hope that this speaks to every person who dreams of being part of something big—and especially to those who’ve been wrongly told they can’t be. At some point, we were all in your shoes. You CAN, you SHOULD, and you WILL.

Spent five years working there - loved it. Got to play with some incredible hardware.

Party like it's 1992

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Microsoft just released an update to WINFILE.EXE - the Windows 3.1 File Manager application. Runs fine on Win10

MSFT Company Store or GitHub

Talk about coming a long long way...

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Gets a great review at Slashdot:

Why the Amazon Basics Keyboard Is My Favorite Keyboard
Full stack developer and teacher, Nick Janetakis, says the Amazon Basics keyboard is one of his favorite general purpose/programming keyboards. "It hits all the major points that make a keyboard good and it also happens to be only $14," he writes.

Amazon also lists the option to by quantity 10 of them for $81.65. Ordering one to try and see how it performs. I type reasonably well and am fussy about my keyboards. The one I am using on my media machine is a Walmart house-brand gaming keyboard for $45. The thing has a great feel and is bulletproof. It is a monster.

Ho. Li. Crap - new processors from Intel

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Pin count is an interesting way to look at chip complexity. The new CPUs being developed by Intel bring this up to a ridiculous number: 4,189. From AnandTech:

Intel’s LGA4189-4 and LGA4189-5 for Cooper Lake & Ice Lake CPUs Now Available
TE Connectivity, a maker of various connectivity solutions, has introduced its newly-developed LGA4189 sockets for Intel’s next-generation Xeon Scalable processors supporting PCIe Gen 4. The products have been validated by Intel and are therefore ready for production of motherboards aimed at next-gen servers. It is worth noting that we already know some Cooper Lake systems are already deployed at large companies, suggesting that some LGA4189 sockets have been validated already.

TE offers LGA4189-4 and LGA3189-5 sockets (which are called Socket P4 and Socket P5), appropriate backplates, compatible bolster plates, mounting mechanisms, and dust covers. As discovered previously, Intel’s next-generation Xeon Scalable processors in LGA4189 packaging will feature a native eight-channel memory controller and PCIe 4.0, with at least eight channel memory on standard configurations.

The original CPU, the 4004, had 16 pins. The first practical CPU, the 8080, brought this up to 40 pins. Intels first 16-bit CPU was the 80286 was available in either a 68 pin or a 100 pin version. Now we are at 4,189 pins. Pretty major growth over almost 50 years.

Just the headline from a Wired article regarding a conversation about AI between Elon Musk and Jack Ma:

Elon Musk: Humanity Is a Kind of 'Biological Boot Loader' for AI

This gives me the a good case of the blue-blind paralytic willies because it hits so close to the mark.

SKYNET? here

Happy 50th birthday - the ATM

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From FOX News:

90-year-old inventor of the ATM celebrates its 50th birthday, admits wife has never used one
It was a cool Friday afternoon in 1968 and businessman Donald Wetzel needed money to travel before the end of the weekend.

The then-40-year-old examined the long line snaking through the bank and out the door, the clock was etching close to 5 o’clock, and his agitation was only growing.

“So much of what they were doing was withdrawals, and it struck me as I was standing in line, that there ought to be a machine that could do that,” Wetzel, who is 90, told Fox News. “And something that didn’t need the bank to be open – customers could get money 24 hours, seven days a week. I thought it would be marketable, and it turns out it was.”

And so the idea for the Automated Teller Machine, better known as the ATM, was born – and would radically change the way people all over the world conducted bank transactions, and how every financial institution functioned.

First one went live September 2nd, 1969

An interesting milestone - aviation

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From Flight Global:

RETROSPECTIVE: The centenary of international air services
In a year that marks so many important aviation anniversaries, the month of August has possibly the most significant of them all. For on 25 August 1919, a small British-built biplane took off from heathland close to where London Heathrow is today, beginning the first-ever daily international passenger air service.

Flight covered the historic inauguration in its 28 August edition under the rather innocuous headline “The London-Paris Air Service”, reporting that it was organised by “Messrs. Aircraft Transport and Travel, Ltd. Two Airco machines set out from this side and one machine from Paris.”

While other passenger air services had been flown before, aviation historians point to the Aircraft Transport and Travel (AT&T) operation between Hounslow Heath and Le Bourget as the true beginning of international flights, as it marked the first daily international passenger, mail and passenger service. None of the previous flights had combined all these.

Only 100 years and we have gone from this:

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To the Moon and around the world. Tip of the hat to Peter Grant at Bayou Renaissance Man for the link.

This looks really good

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Heh - a dog toy

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I want one of these - cute (and yes, a spall chucker would have been good) Sweet looking Rottie:

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Brilliant design - Hydro Mobile

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Was at a vendor today and saw this at a nearby construction site. Great idea. They are expanding a structure (concrete Tilt-up warehouse) but using CMU's instead of a cast wall:

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The beauty of this system is that you can lower it so a forklift can deliver pallets of new CMUs and then raise it to working height. I love (first photo) that the place where the workers stand is a couple feet below where the blocks are stacked - the masons do not have to lift from ground level. Much easier on the back.

The whole thing is modular so you can configure it for whatever work you are doing. Plus, it can be expanded to fit the size of the job. Made by these people: Hydro-Mobile.

Not surprised - they are evil. From Powerline:

PSYCHOLOGIST: GOOGLE GENERATED AT LEAST 2.6 MILLION VOTES FOR HILLARY
Dr. Robert Epstein is a psychologist, professor, and author. He’s the former editor-in-chief of Psychology Today.

Dr. Epstein is a liberal Democrat. In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee (see below), he described himself as a “vocal public supporter” of Hillary Clinton. He said that to characterize him as not a Republican and not a conservative is “an understatement.”

Epstein testified that in the 2016 election, Google generated a minimum of 2.6 million votes for Clinton through deceptive manipulation of search results. He warned that if, in 2020, companies like Google and Facebook all support the same presidential candidate (as surely they will) they could affect up to 15 million votes, e.g. by “go vote” reminders sent only to those believed to be Democrats.

Here is about six minutes of Dr. Epstein being grilled by Senator Cruz during a Judiciary Committee Meeting.

Yet another case for using DuckDuckGo and the Brave browser instead of Google and Chrome.

I do use gMail and some Google Docs but that is it.

Well dang. I could have bought a Harley

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From Yahoo/Agence France Presse:

Harley-Davidson unveils upcoming electric bicycle lineup
In addition to launching an all-electric motorcycle, Harley-Davidson has a series of battery-powered city bicycles in the works.

Over a year ago, Harley-Davidson announced that they had some electric bicycle projects up their sleeve and, until yesterday, the company had only revealed electric micro-transportation model concepts. According to Electrek, H-D used this year's Annual Dealer's Meeting yesterday to officially unveil three model prototypes of their upcoming e-bicycle line.

There is a wonderful convergance of technologies that allow for these to become a "thing" - the batteries, the brushless motors, the solid-state MOSFET's and the small computers to control everything. Truly a fun time to be alive!!!

My next project

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When I was at the auction last week, one of the items I was bidding on was a welding rod oven. My favorite rod is 7018 and you get a lot better operation and cleanup if it is stored in a bone-dry environment. They ship it in sealed plastic or metal containers but as soon as you open it, air and moisture start coming in. I use a desiccant pack for mine and that works OK but is not preferred. Plus, using a hot rod allows for easier starting and a more stable arc. Win/win.

Unfortunately, these are expensive. The units at the auction were going for much more than they were really worth.

Here is the high end:

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And here is the low end:

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There are pluses and minuses to each unit. The big unit can store 350 pounds of rod. This is great for a large fab shop with several welders using different kinds of rods on a daily basis. It also has an adjustable thermostat for specific rod temperatures. The downside is that it takes a lot of counter space and costs $3,342.59 plus tax. Wince!

The low end unit will only hold ten pounds which is one box of rods. It only has one fixed temperature. I want to hold maybe sixty pounds so I can have different types of rod (6010 and 6013) as well as different diameters. Again, each one comes in a ten pound box.

It occurred to me that it would not be difficult to build my own. I ordered a PID temperature controller from Amazon for $40. It arrived today. The unit has all the parts I need - the PID controller, the K-type thermocouple and a solid state relay to switch my heater. I picked up a smallish 3,500 Watt water heater element for $7 at a local hardware store and it fits into a bog-standard 1" National Pipe Thread.

Proportional–Integral–Derivative controllers are very very cool - from the Infogalactic entry:

A PID controller continuously calculates an error value as the difference between a measured process variable and a desired setpoint. The controller attempts to minimize the error over time by adjustment of a control variable, such as the position of a control valve, a damper, or the power supplied to a heating element, to a new value determined by a weighted sum:

Comes up to temp faster and holds temp better. It will "learn" what to do when the door is opened - how best to recover from the temperature drop. Looking at about $40 in steel sheet for the case and some expanded mesh for the inside shelving. Already have refactory materials for the wall insulation. Planning to do a YouTube video when I do the build in a couple of weeks.

Muahahahahaha - welcome to my lair...

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Going to be pricey but looks like a lot of fun for the right person. From geek.com:

Aston Martin Will Build You Your Very Own Supervillain Lair
Ever dreamed of having your very own Bond villain-worthy lair to house your fancy ride? Aston Martin is here to make that dream come true (insert evil laugh).

The luxury sports car manufacturer has unveiled a new service that enables car enthusiasts and collectors to customize the perfect space for their Aston Martin — whether it’s a bespoke underground garage or a glass-encased luxury retreat.

The service, called Automotive Galleries and Lairs, lets clients work directly with the Aston Martin Design Team, as well as with renowned architects that have local knowledge and an excellent understanding of the specifics of the brief.

Their press release for this service is here: ASTON MARTIN AUTOMOTIVE GALLERIES AND LAIRS

The wheels spin at over 10,000 RPM - that is 166.666 revolutions each second. You build up a lot of force on the wheel and if something happens to it - a nick or a defect in manufacture - shit hits the fan in a fraction of a second.

The person in this picture is very lucky that it hit his safety glasses and that they were good glasses. A lot of the cheaper ones (Harbor Freight) are crap and will shatter. If this had hit his cheek, it would have torn the skin down to the bone.

That being said, I have never had a wheel come apart like this in 14 years of using them. Still, it is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when so I suit up every time I fire one of these puppies up. I am also very aware of the position of the tool relative to my body and where the angular momentum will go if the disk fails. Situational awareness is a good thing.

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110% cringe factor

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How stumpy got his name. The tool in question is called an angle grinder. Everyone who works with metal uses five or six of them - loaded with cutting disks, grinding wheels, wire wheels, flap disks, etc... Very useful tool. Also, very very dangerous. What we are seeing in this photo is extremely bad operation with the chance for a serious accident:

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He found the Titanic, he found evidence of Noah's Flood, he found a bunch of other shipwrecks including the battleship Bismarck. Now he is looking for Amelia Earhart. From the New York Times:

Finding Amelia Earhart’s Plane Seemed Impossible. Then Came a Startling Clue.
Robert Ballard is the finder of important lost things.

In 1985, he discovered the Titanic scattered beneath the Atlantic Ocean. He and his team also located the giant Nazi battleship Bismarck and, more recently, 18 shipwrecks in the Black Sea.

Dr. Ballard has always wanted to find the remains of the plane Amelia Earhart was flying when she disappeared in 1937. But he feared the hunt would be yet another in a long line of futile searches.

“You have it in a holding pattern in your head,” said Dr. Ballard, founder of the Ocean Exploration Trust. “You’re still saying, ‘No, no, it’s too big a search area.’”

Then, a few years ago, another group of explorers found clues so compelling that Dr. Ballard changed his mind. Now, not only is he certain he knows where the plane is, he has set course for a remote atoll in the Pacific island nation of Kiribati to recover it.

If anyone can find her final resting place, it is Dr. Ballard. Very cool!

Cisco turns evil

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Used to be a great company - they make hardware for networking. From iFixit:

Cisco Is Making It More Difficult to Use Pre-Owned Hardware
Without telling their customers, networking hardware manufacturer Cisco has drastically changed the way it sells products. Where once you were able to buy and sell used hardware at your leisure, its new Smart Licensing System — which has rolled out to a majority of Cisco’s products—decouple licenses from the hardware in an extremely user-unfriendly way.

And the upshot:

The End of Ownership
Since these devices are tied to the original purchaser’s account, you can’t simply buy a pre-owned switch and use it as you normally would. “This will dramatically change the ability to buy used or refurbished Cisco hardware that run smart licensing because the original end user only owns the hardware, not its usage,” explains Bone. “The buyer will not have entitlement and the units will not function.” Instead, you’ll have to re-purchase and re-certify the license with Cisco, which—according to Curvature—could cost enough to negate whatever savings you get from buying pre-owned hardware. This seems legally problematic for Cisco, since courts tend to rule against companies that block you from selling devices after you’ve purchased them.

The new operating systems "phone home" to Cisco and if the equipment is not at the location of the original purchaser, it reverts back to a limited evaluation mode. Your only option is to purchase a new license. Stupid move Cisco.

Clever idea

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Great idea for a mechanics creeper - the Human Hoist:

No price listed on their website. You have to "Get a Quote" and their website has a link for "Financing"
Two bad signs.

Boeing revamps 737 MAX software

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They are now using two computers - some sort of voting system. From FOX News:

Boeing changing Max software to use 2 computers
Boeing is working on new software for the 737 Max that will use a second flight control computer to make the system more reliable, solving a problem that surfaced in June with the grounded jet, two people briefed on the matter said Friday.

When finished, the new software will give Boeing a complete package for regulators to evaluate as the company tries to get the Max flying again, according to the people, who didn’t want to be identified because the new software hasn’t been publicly disclosed.

The Max was grounded worldwide after crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that killed a total of 346 people.

Makes sense especially if they use two completely different kinds of computer. This way, a bug in one code base will not happen in the other so it will only respond to actual real-world problems.

Data breach - Capital One Bank

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From computer security blog CyberScoop:

Capital One announces massive data breach; lone suspect arrested in Seattle
Financial giant Capital One announced a large data breach Monday, with the company saying that one person accessed personal information on up to 100 million people in the United States and 6 million in Canada who had applied for or are currently considered users of the company’s credit cards.

Additionally, the FBI arrested a woman in Washington who is suspected of hacking into the company to obtain that information. Paige A. Thompson was arrested Monday and appeared in federal court in Seattle.

According to the complaint, Thompson allegedly took wide swaths of personal information from Capital One’s cloud storage instances on March 22 and March 23. The company says this information included names, addresses, zip codes/postal codes, phone numbers, email addresses, dates of birth, and self-reported income. The information ranged from 2005 to early 2019.

And the how?

According to the FBI, a misconfigured firewall allowed Thompson to access a list of more than 700 folders, which contained the data. Sometime shortly thereafter, Thompson allegedly posted on GitHub that she was in possession of the data.

My first thought was that it was an inside job. Bad setup on a firewall - sheesh guys...  I got a really sweet job in Seattle by leaving a text message in the root directory of one of their servers. When asked what I could bring to the company, I said that I could increase the security and to look for this file on that server. Their outgoing IT guy (he was leaving to go to graduate school) left the room and came back with an ashen face. Sweet job and wonderful people.

End of an era - the floppy disk

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Linux will no llonger support floppy disks. From Linus:

Merge branch 'floppy'
Merge floppy ioctl verification fixes from Denis Efremov.

This also marks the floppy driver as orphaned - it turns out that Jiri
no longer has working hardware.

Actual working physical floppy hardware is getting hard to find, and
while Willy was able to test this, I think the driver can be considered
pretty much dead from an actual hardware standpoint. The hardware that
is still sold seems to be mainly USB-based, which doesn't use this
legacy driver at all.

The old floppy disk controller is still emulated in various VM
environments, so the driver isn't going away, but let's see if anybody
is interested to step up to maintain it.

I remember when Windows 3.1 came on about 17 floppy disks. I recently ordered a couple copies of Windows 10 and the box had a thumb drive. A fun time to be alive. Still have a some 8" floppy disks kicking around for shits and giggles.

Looks like Airbus has some problems of their own - from The Register:

Airbus A350 software bug forces airlines to turn planes off and on every 149 hours
Some models of Airbus A350 airliners still need to be hard rebooted after exactly 149 hours, despite warnings from the EU Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) first issued two years ago.

In a mandatory airworthiness directive (AD) reissued earlier this week, EASA urged operators to turn their A350s off and on again to prevent "partial or total loss of some avionics systems or functions".

The revised AD, effective from tomorrow (26 July), exempts only those new A350-941s which have had modified software pre-loaded on the production line. For all other A350-941s, operators need to completely power the airliner down before it reaches 149 hours of continuous power-on time.

Wonder how many other airplanes have issues like this. It is not Boeing, it's everyone.

Showing on SciFy August 17th:

I love technology - memory cards

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From Amazon:

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And, of course, this will be down to $99 in six months and $49 in a year.

Actually, yes, shit. From Pampers:

Introducing the world's first all-in-one Connected Care System
Beyond keeping them dry through the night, we wondered: how can we do more to support babies’ daily development?

So we partnered with Verily and Logitech to create Lumi by Pampers - the world’s first all-in-one connected care system that’s revolutionizing baby monitoring by helping parents monitor and track their baby 24/7. By combining a video monitor with an activity sensor, Lumi helps parents blend real-time data with their intuition seamlessly and offers insights tailored to their unique baby using the Lumi by Pampers app.

60 years ago, we reimagined baby care with the first disposable diaper. Lumi by Pampers is the next step in our mission to continue re-inventing baby care.

It does a lot more than just sent a text when the nappies are full. Clever idea actually.

A stroke of genius - I bet the person who came up with this idea woke up at 3:00AM scrambling for a pencil and paper. One of those kinds of ideas:

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Sigh - learning a new language

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A couple of projects I want to do with the Raspberry Pi and the Arduino rely heavily on the Python scripting language.

A couple years ago, I got pretty good with the Lua scripting language and really like it - compact and fast. Used in Adobe products as well as my fave video editor DaVinci Resolve as well as darktable (photo cataloging) and a bunch of other applications and utilities that I use.

Now Python seems to be the go-to language. Unfortunately, there are some libraries for Python that are not available for Lua so having to learn Python in the next month or three. Checked out the O'Reilly bible from the library: Learning Python, 5th Edition. 1,648 pages. Not like I am doing anything with my spare time...

From their website: Flash Drives for Freedom

DONATE USB DRIVES TO HELP US SMUGGLE OUTSIDE INFORMATION INTO NORTH KOREA
Believe it or not, USBs are a significant form of sharing information in North Korea. Many citizens have devices with USB ports. So for many years, North Korean defectors have organized efforts to smuggle outside info into North Korea on USB drives to counter Kim Jong-un’s constant propaganda. But these groups were buying USB drives at cost with limited resources. Flash Drives For Freedom is a campaign that travels the world inspiring people to donate their own USB drives. As a collaboration between the Human Rights Foundation, Forum 280, and USB Memory Direct, Flash Drives for Freedom is significantly increasing the capacities of these North Korean defector groups.

Donate a USB Drive
Mail in your USB drives or donate cash to purchase drives. Every dollar donated in cash is equivalent to one drive.

Drives are prepared
The USB drives are erased, logos are removed, and are filled with content proven to inspire North Koreans to disbelieve Kim Jong-Un's propaganda and take a stand. Content includes e-books, films, and an offline Korean Wikipedia.

Drives are smuggled in
The drives are smuggled into the country using many different methods. A healthy black market distributes the drives throughout North Korea. The majority of North Koreans have access to devices that can read USB drives.

I have a bunch at the farm that I was wondering what to do with. 1-2GB devices are not that useful any more.

Gregorian Voices: Early Roman Catholic Church Song Generator

You can order an MP3 file with your settings if you are a Patreon. Nice stuff to run in the background.

EU GPS satellites down

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Curious - from ZD Net:

EU's GPS satellites have been down for four days in mysterious outage
Galileo, the EU's global navigation satellite system, has been down for four days, since July 11, following a mysterious outage. All Galileo satellites are still non-operational, at the time of writing.

According to a service status page, 24 of the 26 Galileo satellites are listed as "not usable," while the other two are listing a status of "testing," which also means they're not ready for real-world usage.

The European GNSS Agency (GSA), the organization in charge of Galileo, has not published any information in regards to the root of the outage, which began four days ago, on Thursday, July 11.

On that day, the GSA published an advisory on its website alerting companies and government agencies employing the Galileo system that satellite signals have degraded and they "may not be available nor meet the minimum performance levels."

Yikes - GPS is used for a lot more than just positioning. I have several applications that I am running that use GPS for timing - the WSPR transmitter for one. To lose this service would shut down a lot more than people's navigation. Emergency 911 calling on cell phones for one.

We have a comment - WSPR

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Someone had posted a comment to this post about my building a WSPR antenna.  The antenna is actually for my WSPR beacon transmitter. I am using the desktop unit from ZachTek and been getting solid repeatable spots at 1,000 miles with the occasional spot up to 2,700 miles (Hawaii). The current antenna is just a 4' hank of wire hanging out of my 2nd story window. The antenna I am building is a vertical 20' non-resonant single wire using a 9:1 Balun transformer and ground to get the coupling a bit more efficient.

I am setting up a receiver (KiwiSDR) and will be using a horizontal 60' non-resonant single wire for that receiving antenna. Been playing with some SDRs already - have two cheap Chinese units and been running an SDRPlay for the last four months and just love it. All of the fiddly bits of circuitry are now done entirely in software.

More as I get stuff built and on the air.

Security cameras in the news

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Looks like we are (finally) getting serious about Chinese spying. From Bloomberg:

Banned Chinese Security Cameras Are Almost Impossible to Remove
U.S. federal agencies have five weeks to rip out Chinese-made surveillance cameras in order to comply with a ban imposed by Congress last year in an effort to thwart the threat of spying from Beijing.

But thousands of the devices are still in place and chances are most won’t be removed before the Aug. 13 deadline. A complex web of supply chain logistics and licensing agreements make it almost impossible to know whether a security camera is actually made in China or contains components that would violate U.S. rules.

The National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, which outlines the budget and spending for the Defense Department each year, included an amendment for fiscal 2019 that would ensure federal agencies do not purchase Chinese-made surveillance cameras. The amendment singles out Zhejiang Dahua Technology Co. and Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co., both of which have raised security concerns with the U.S. government and surveillance industry.

Hikvision is 42% controlled by the Chinese government. Dahua, in 2017, was found by cybersecurity company ReFirm Labs to have cameras with covert back doors that allowed unauthorized people to tap into them and send information to China. Dahua said at the time that it fixed the issue and published a public notice about the vulnerability. The U.S. government is considering imposing further restrictions by banning both companies from purchasing American technology, people familiar with the matter said in May.

Good. We have seen this before with other Chinese electronics - specifically servers imported and used by a number of large corporations including Apple and Amazon.

The malicious chips, which were not part of the original server motherboards designed by the U.S-based company Super Micro, had been inserted during the manufacturing process in China.

Glad to see the US finally being proactive.

A word from the wise

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None other than The Woz - from TMZ:

STEVE WOZNIAK:  GET OFF FACEBOOK!!!  Privacy Concerns Scare Me
Steve Wozniak has a warning for anyone who uses social media ... the platforms are eavesdropping on your private conversations, and sending that precious data to advertisers.

We got Steve at Reagan National Airport in D.C. Friday and just had to ask him if he's worried about Facebook, Instagram and others infringing on his privacy ... the Woz says he's terrified, and you should be too!!!

Steve knows what he's talking about ... the dude co-founded Apple, and he's very much plugged into Silicon Valley and all aspects of tech.

Wise words from someone who knows what he is talking about...

Looks like we are winning big - from the Nikkei Asian Review:

HP, Dell and Microsoft look to join electronics exodus from China
Global consumer electronics makers HP, Dell, Microsoft and Amazon are all looking to shift substantial production capacity out of China, joining a growing exodus that threatens to undermine the country's position as the world's powerhouse for tech gadgets.

HP and Dell, the world's No. 1 and No. 3 personal computer makers who together command around 40% of the global market, are planning to reallocate up to 30% of their notebook production out of China, several sources told the Nikkei Asian Review.

Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Sony and Nintendo are also looking at moving some of their game console and smart speaker manufacturing out of the country, multiple sources told the Nikkei Asian Review. Other leading PC makers such as Lenovo Group, Acer and Asustek Computer are also evaluating plans to shift, according to people familiar with the matter.

Much more at the site. The article does not mention the IP theft, the spying, and the security issues but I bet that these are major factors as well.

That seems to have done the trick

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The cell service up here is lousy. I tried an amplifier but it was spotty at best.

I checked with T-Mobile to see what they could do and they gave me a cell spot - it hooks into my router and is a small cell tower in a box. Works great. Only problem is that it absolutely hogs my broadband. I have 1GB service and everything else was flat-lined at times. Going to take a quick sniff with darkstat and then maybe break out a more detailed analysis tool like Observium or Nagios.

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