Recently in Geekdom Category

A successful flight

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Kudos to the little guy - from CNBC:

NASA flies and lands helicopter on Mars, the first flight on another planet
NASA on Monday successfully conducted the first controlled flight on another planet — its Mars helicopter Ingenuity flew a short flight in what the agency described as “a Wright Brothers moment” in space.

“Ingenuity is reporting having performed spin up, takeoff, climb, hover, descent, landing and spin down,” NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory flight control said on a webcast.

And the payload was really sweet:

The helicopter carried a tiny piece of fabric from the wing of Flyer 1, the Wright brothers’ aircraft that in 1903 made the first powered flights on Earth.

“Like the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk, we know that our time to make a difference at Jezero Crater, Mars is not yet over – this is just the first great flight,” JPL’s MiMi Aung, the Ingenuity’s project manager, said on the webcast.

Fun article from MITs Technology Review:

Big Tech’s guide to talking about AI ethics
50-ish words you can use to show that you care without incriminating yourself.
AI researchers often say good machine learning is really more art than science. The same could be said for effective public relations. Selecting the right words to strike a positive tone or reframe the conversation about AI is a delicate task: done well, it can strengthen one’s brand image, but done poorly, it can trigger an even greater backlash.

The tech giants would know. Over the last few years, they’ve had to learn this art quickly as they’ve faced increasing public distrust of their actions and intensifying criticism about their AI research and technologies.

Now they’ve developed a new vocabulary to use when they want to assure the public that they care deeply about developing AI responsibly—but want to make sure they don’t invite too much scrutiny. Here’s an insider’s guide to decoding their language and challenging the assumptions and values baked in.

accountability (n) - The act of holding someone else responsible for the consequences when your AI system fails.

accuracy (n) - Technical correctness. The most important measure of success in evaluating an AI model’s performance. See validation.

adversary (n) - A lone engineer capable of disrupting your powerful revenue-generating AI system. See robustness, security.

Absolutely spot on. The author demonstrates that she has had to deal with bureaucracies and knows how to work around them. Sort of a Devil's Dictionary but for computer science instead of general culture.

A bit of history - geek stuff

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Been going through things at the farm and ran into a little deposit of geeky treasure:

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Development kit for Windows 2.03.  When Windows 1.01 was released, there was stiff competition with other windowing graphical environments (primarily GEM from Digital Research) They persisted and hit it out of the park with Windows 3.x.

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My Times/Sinclair 1000 Personal Computer - I also had the memory expansion and a couple other plugins for it. Very basic but a lot of fun.

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Texas Instruments SR 10 - I was living in Boston, going to B.U. studying Marine Biology and had set a limit for myself.  I would get a pocket calculator but it had to cost under $100 and be able to do square roots.  The SR 10 came in.  I got it.

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And then, I dropped out of college, started working for a public aquarium and doing consulting on the side.  Started making some decent money so treated myself to one of these.  The Hewlett-Packard HP-45.  Gold standard in pocket calculators. It was light-years ahead of anything else out there on the market (and priced accordingly). That puppy got a lot of use.  Later upgraded to a 41C (have that too) with card reader and the ability to take plug-in modules for programming.

Fun times - I'll post more of these as I uncover them. We are talking a large archeological dig here.

Gun control?

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Change my mind.   From My Pensieve:

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Some fun computer oddities

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Great collection - go here and start clicking.

Fun time to be alive - meet Pager

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From Neuralink:

Part of me wants to avoid using Google products.  A major part. For very good reason.  But...
They keep coming up with such cool stuff - from Google:

Organize your documents effortlessly with Stack
Have you ever lost a receipt you needed for a refund? Or misplaced an important tax document? Or forgot a bill and incurred a fine? I’ve done all three. (More than once!) 

As we go through life, we come across many documents that we might need in the future. Organizing these documents takes time and effort. So, if you’re anything like me, you might end up with piles of papers lying around your house (or PDFs scattered across your computer desktop). And good luck finding them when you actually need them. 

I joined Google a couple of years ago when my education startup, Socratic, was acquired. At Socratic, we used Google’s computer vision and language understanding to make learning easier for high school students. I wondered if we could apply the same technologies to make organizing documents easier.

To experiment with this idea, my colleague Mathew Cowan and I joined Area 120, Google’s in-house incubator. We worked with DocAI, a team in Google Cloud whose artificial intelligence has helped companies analyze billions of documents. We found that by applying DocAI’s enterprise technology to personal documents, we could help people get organized.

Take a photo of the receipt with your cell phone.  Stack automatically crops it, saves it as a PDF, "reads" it and allows you to extract the data. Sounds great for businesses and for people who want to keep track of their finances.

Can be found here: Stack: PDF Scanner + Document Organizer

Don't be Evil

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Used to be Google's motto but...  From Forbes:

Why You Shouldn’t Use Google Chrome After New Privacy Disclosure
If you’re among the billions of people using Chrome, then Google’s stark new data harvesting disclosures should come as a nasty surprise. Worse, a new Chrome revelation, one that hasn’t yet made headlines but which is detailed below, should serve as an even more serious warning. Here’s what you need to do now.

Google is under fire this week, after the surprising amount of your data harvested by Chrome has been disclosed. This is a genuine threat to your privacy. Worse, a more serious issue for Google, detailed below, hasn’t even made headlines yet. Chrome is totally out of step with Safari, Edge and Firefox, shattering Google’s “privacy first web” claims. All of which should give you a serious reason to quit Chrome today.

Story is about two weeks old and this has been covered before in the tech media.  Nice to see Forbes wising up. Best solution out there? Switch to Brave Browser - based on Chrome and all the plug-ins work but built around security and preserving your data. It just works.  Been using it for a while.

Just wonderful - glad I dumped them

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Deleted my facebook account 5-6 months ago - no loss whatsoever. Interesting news today - from Business Insider:

533 million Facebook users' phone numbers and personal data have been leaked online
A user in a low level hacking forum on Saturday published the phone numbers and personal data of hundreds of millions of Facebook users for free online.

The exposed data includes personal information of over 533 million Facebook users from 106 countries, including over 32 million records on users in the US, 11 million on users in the UK, and 6 million on users in India. It includes their phone numbers, Facebook IDs, full names, locations, birthdates, bios, and — in some cases — email addresses.

Verified.  This is true. The vulnerability was first reported on January 2021 - Motherboard:

Bot Lets Hackers Easily Look Up Facebook Users' Phone Numbers
A user of a low-level cybercriminal forum is selling access to a database of phone numbers belonging to Facebook users, and conveniently letting customers look up those numbers by using an automated Telegram bot.

Although the data is several years old, it still presents a cybersecurity and privacy risk to those whose phone numbers may be exposed—one person advertising the service says it contains data on 500 million users. Facebook told Motherboard the data relates to a vulnerability the company fixed in August 2019.

Social media - it's like a herpes infection. The gift that keeps on giving...

In related news:

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Oops - a bug.

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A big bug. One that affects most computers that are connected to a network.  Yes, you read that right:
A big bug. One that affects most computers that are connected to a network.  An example:

Open a terminal window.  In Windows, this is known as the Command Prompt.  Hit the Windows key and type CMD.
Type the following: "ping 127.0.0.1" - here is what you will see:

Microsoft Windows [Version 10.0.19041.867]
(c) 2020 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

C:\Users\DaveH>ping 127.0.0.1

Pinging 127.0.0.1 with 32 bytes of data:
Reply from 127.0.0.1: bytes=32 time<1ms TTL=128
Reply from 127.0.0.1: bytes=32 time<1ms TTL=128
Reply from 127.0.0.1: bytes=32 time<1ms TTL=128
Reply from 127.0.0.1: bytes=32 time<1ms TTL=128

Ping statistics for 127.0.0.1:
Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0% loss),
Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
Minimum = 0ms, Maximum = 0ms, Average = 0ms

C:\Users\DaveH>

All well and good. Now, try typing the following:  "ping 0127.0.0.1" - here is what you will see:

Microsoft Windows [Version 10.0.19041.867]
(c) 2020 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

C:\Users\DaveH>ping 0127.0.0.1

Pinging 87.0.0.1 with 32 bytes of data:
Request timed out.
Request timed out.
Request timed out.
Request timed out.

Ping statistics for 87.0.0.1:
Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 0, Lost = 4 (100% loss),

C:\Users\DaveH>

WTF???   From Bleeping Computer:

Critical netmask networking bug impacts thousands of applications
Popular npm library netmask has a critical networking vulnerability.

netmask is frequently used by hundreds of thousands of applications to parse IPv4 addresses and CIDR blocks or compare them.

The component gets over 3 million weekly downloads, and as of today, has scored over 238 million total downloads over its lifetime. Further, about 278,000 GitHub repositories depend on netmask.

The bug present in the library means when parsing an IP address with a leading zero, netmask sees a different IP due to improper validations in place.

The leading zero ( 0127.0. instead of 127.0. ) causes the IP Address to be read as an octal number instead of a decimal number. Hence: 127dec = 87oct

Geek joke: Why are Halloween and Christmas the same date? Because 31oct=25dec

What with today's political climate, this is a handy thing to have around:

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Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co. of course.  Only $14/Gallon.

From United Press International:

Wright brothers' wing fragment to take flight again on Mars
A piece of cloth from the Wright brothers' first flight in 1903 is set to become part of aviation history again -- this time on Mars.

Carillon Historical Park, the Ohio home of the Wright Brio home of the Wright Brothers National Museum, said NASA officials got in contact in 2019 about finding a way to connect Wilbur and Orville Wright's first successful flight in Kitty Hawk, N.C., with the first heavier-than-air flight on Mars.

The museum provided a small fragment of the Wright Flyer I's wing covering to be carried aboard Ingenuity, a small helicopter attached to the belly of NASA's Perseverance rover on the surface of the red planet.

NASA said Ingenuity is expected to take its first flight sometime after April 8. The flight will mark the first-ever powered, controlled flight of an aircraft on another planet, NASA said.

The use of the Wright Flyer I's wing covering for the mission received the blessing of Amanda Wright Lane and Stephen Wright, Wilbur and Orville's great grand-niece and nephew.

And not the first time:

A fragment from the Wright Flyer I's wing covering was previously carried to the moon by Neil Armstrong in 1969. Another fragment was taken into space by John Glenn during a trip on the space shuttle in 1998.

NASA may be a bloated government bureaucracy but they do have some good people working there.

I want to believe

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Makes me wonder if the Navy is flying anything "interesting" these days. From the Whidbey Island News-Times:

Forget Bigfoot, UFOs are where the action’s at on Whidbey Island
Although his email address suggests that “Sasquatch lives,” an Oak Harbor man has abandoned any pursuit of the big-footed one to focus his camera on strange blinky lights in the heavens.

In recent weeks, Joe Cardinal has taken a series of photos of unusually shaped objects, including lights that look like perfect triangles and constipated worms, in the night sky over the city. One looked like a “hat with a window in it,” he said.

“Maybe they want to abduct me,” he joked, “and change my name to Goodspaceguy.”

Although the blurry images aren’t exactly groundbreaking, Cardinal is just one of the many people who have reported seeing unidentified objects over Whidbey Island and surrounding areas in the last year.

The Navy has had an Air Station on Whidbey since the 1940's. They generally fly the EA-18G Growlers, P-3 Orions, EP-3E Aries and the P-8 Poseidons. Wonder if anything else is being played with...

Of course, the official explanation still remains:

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I want...

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$40 is a bit too high though - really cute idea. From Concord Aerospace:

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A real switch so it can be installed into your vehicle or toaster or whatever your heart desires.
World domination has never been so easy.

Happy Pi Day

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Today is 3/14 - be sure to enjoy a piece of pie today in honor of this wonderful number. So simple yet infinitely complex.

So true - Android accounts

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Been setting up a Chromebook - these are nice and cheap and you can install Linux on them quite easily:

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The 7 Ps - OVHcloud as a case study

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The 7 Ps - a military adage  The version I am familiar with reads: "Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance"
Truer words were never spoken - from Reuters News Service:

Millions of websites offline after fire at French cloud services firm
A fire at a French cloud services firm has disrupted millions of websites, knocking out government agencies’ portals, banks, shops, news websites and taking out a chunk of the .FR web space, according to internet monitors.

The fire, which broke out on Wednesday shortly after midnight at OVHcloud, destroyed one of four data centres in Strasbourg, in eastern France, and damaged another, the company said.

There was no immediate explanation provided for the blaze, which erupted just two days after the French cloud computing firm kicked off plans for an initial public offering.

Europe’s largest cloud services provider told clients including the French government, the Centre Pompidou and cryptocurrency exchange Deribit to activate their disaster recovery plans following the blaze.

“Firefighters were immediately on the scene but could not control the fire” in the affected data centre, founder and chairman Octave Klaba said on Twitter. He said the plan for the next couple of weeks would include rebuilding the centres’ equipment and checking their fiber optic connections.

This is just so wrong on so many different levels.  I sniff either massive French ego, gross incompetence or an insurance scam or some combination. No effective fire supression? Having a single point of failure? (redundency is KING) Two fires in different locations? French ego?

French politicians have championed OVHcloud as a possible alternative to U.S. cloud services providers, but it has so far lacked the scale and financial clout to dent their market share.

The company said on Monday it had started the process for a potential IPO, without giving details.

Trying to grow too fast is a sure path to business failure.  Seeking to raise funds through an IPO is something you do after you are established.  Trying to compete with Alphabet, Amazon or MSFT is foolish - they are entrenched.  You are ten years too late. You need to offer something different - not compete against an entrenched product.

Something smells fishy here... Just sayin'

RIP: Lou Ottens

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Lou Ottens?  From National Public Radio:

Lou Ottens, Inventor Of The Cassette Tape, Has Died
Lou Ottens, who put music lovers around the world on a path toward playlists and mixtapes by leading the invention of the first cassette tape, has died at age 94, according to media reports in the Netherlands. Ottens was a talented and influential engineer at Philips, where he also helped develop consumer compact discs.

Ottens died last Saturday, according to the Dutch news outlet NRC Handelsblad, which lists his age as 94.

The cassette tape was Ottens' answer to the large reel-to-reel tapes that provided high-quality sound but were seen as too clunky and expensive. He took on the challenge of shrinking tape technology in the early 1960s, when he became the head of new product development in Hasselt, Belgium, for the Dutch-based Philips technology company.

"Lou wanted music to be portable and accessible," says documentary filmmaker Zack Taylor, who spent days with Ottens for his film Cassette: A Documentary Mixtape.

Ottens' goal was to make something simple and affordable for anyone to use. As Taylor says, "He advocated for Philips to license this new format to other manufacturers for free, paving the way for cassettes to become a worldwide standard."

His invention was just right.  Not perfect but good enough.  The smaller size and slower tape speed meant a lot more noise and not as good a quality of reproduction but you were playing these casually and not in a critical listening situation so the noise and quality did not factor into your experience. Perfect for walking around, in the car, as background music.

Nice that he lived long enough to see them become so popular as well as seeing the resurgence.  They are back in a big way.

Skynet smiles - AI and balloons

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From The Beeb by way of Bayou Renaissance Man:

How Google's hot air balloon surprised its creators
The gaggle of Google employees peered at their computer screens in bewilderment. They had spent many months honing an algorithm designed to steer an unmanned hot air balloon all the way from Puerto Rico to Peru. But something was wrong. The balloon, controlled by its machine mind, kept veering off course.

Salvatore Candido of Google's now-defunct Project Loon venture, which aimed to bring internet access to remote areas via the balloons, couldn't explain the craft’s trajectory. His colleagues manually took control of the system and put it back on track.

It was only later that they realised what was happening. Unexpectedly, the artificial intelligence (AI) on board the balloon had learned to recreate an ancient sailing technique first developed by humans centuries, if not thousands of years, ago. "Tacking" involves steering a vessel into the wind and then angling outward again so that progress in a zig-zag, roughly in the desired direction, can still be made.

Under unfavourable weather conditions, the self-flying balloons had learned to tack all by themselves. The fact they had done this, unprompted, surprised everyone, not least the researchers working on the project.

"We quickly realised we'd been outsmarted when the first balloon allowed to fully execute this technique set a flight time record from Puerto Rico to Peru," wrote Candido in a blog post about the project. "I had never simultaneously felt smarter and dumber at the same time."

I love that quote: "never simultaneously felt smarter and dumber". AI is a very fun ride and things are now getting really good. More stories at the Beeb - some fun reading.

Picture of the electrical wiring

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Here is a before photo (just kidding)

20210225-wiring.jpg

It felt like this.  Trying to make improvements was three steps forward, four steps back.  Now it is all clean and pretty.

That business had been in trouble for many many years. Wrote about it here and here.

From Ars Technica:

Confirmed: Fry’s Electronics going out of business, shutting down all stores
Fry's Electronics, the decades-old superstore chain with locations in nine American states, has gone defunct. Bay Area TV station KRON-4 was the first press outlet to confirm the news late Tuesday, saying that Fry's will shut down all 30 of its American locations. The retailer followed that news hours later by offering its own Wednesday-morning announcement via the Fry's website.

Rumors began flying on Tuesday in the form of anecdotes from alleged Fry's employees, who all reported that they'd been summarily fired earlier in the day with zero notice. One anonymous report posted at The Layoff alleged that every remaining Fry's store in the US was "permanently closing tomorrow," and that statement was repeated hours later at a Fry's-related Reddit community. The Reddit post included the allegation that one store's staffers were tasked with shipping any remaining merchandise back to suppliers during their final day at work.

Sacramento freelance journalist Matthew Keys followed these posts by citing an unnamed source—someone who had worked at Fry's up until "this week"—who claimed that the electronics chain would make a formal announcement "this week" about closing all of its stores and liquidating any remaining assets. As the wave of rumors exploded, the official Fry's website began serving failure notices—yet some of its subsite content, particularly years-old press releases, remained active through Frys.com subdomains. As Tuesday wore on, the Fry's retail site flickered in and out of normal service, even letting customers buy products after KRON-4's report went live.

They had a good run but they should have pulled the plug ten years ago. Privately owned.

Update from the Mars rover

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Perseverance went offline earlier today - NASA scientists are going over the data:

20210220-NASA.jpg

Well crap - RIP Rupert Neve

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You have heard his work without knowing it.  He was one of the top designers of Recording Studio mixing boards and audio processing equipment.
From Sound on Sound:

Rupert Neve 1926-2021
We are very sad to report the death of Rupert Neve, perhaps the most important and influential designer in recording-studio history. Mr. Neve passed away at the age of 94 in his adoptive home of Wimberley, Texas, but his name will be forever associated with the British company he founded in 1961. He was quick to see the potential of solid-state electronics, designing his first all-transistor console in the mid-’60s, and would go on to create seminal designs such as the 1073 and 1084 preamp/EQ modules. Neve consoles became first choice for recording studios and broadcasters all around the world, and by the time he and wife Evelyn sold Neve Electronics in 1975, the company employed over 500 people. 

Rupert Neve remained active as a consultant and equipment developer, and in the 1980s he founded Focusrite to bring his latest designs to market. The Focusrite consoles were among the most advanced analogue mixers ever made, but their unrivalled quality came at a cost, and in the end only eight were made. Modules from those consoles are now highly sought-after, and Neve's designs for both his original company and Focusrite are still in production today.

Neve was then instrumental in the success of Amek Systems, where his console designs offered unprecedented quality for the cost, and also worked with Taylor Guitars before designing a line of premium microphones for sE Electronics in 2011. He and Evelyn moved to Texas in 1994 and in 2005 he established Rupert Neve Designs, where he continued to develop innovative products and pass on his 70-plus years of accumulated experience.

Rupert Neve is survived by Evelyn and their five children, nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

A true legend.  His worlk lives on long after he is gone.

An alternative to Siri

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Got a mid-west accent?  Meet Sheryl:

Now that most movie theaters are all digital, this makes perfect sense to get some revenue flowing while people are avoiding the 'rona.  From the Beeb:

The cinemas now hiring out their screens to gamers
Eui Jeong Lee and three of her friends sit in an otherwise empty 200-seat cinema auditorium and play a video game on the giant screen.

As Ms Lee blasts her gaming opponents with her wireless controller, the sound whips loudly around the dark room from the numerous cinema speakers.

"The sound quality is particularly amazing," says the 25-year-old student. "The sound of the gunshots is just so vivid, and when something flew directly at me from the screen I even screamed."

Ms Lee and her mates had hired the screen for two hours at a branch of South Korea's largest cinema chain, CGV.

With many cinemas across the country closed due to coronavirus restrictions meaning that they can only open with 50% capacity, and far fewer movies being released to tempt cinemagoers, CGV came up with the idea of renting out its auditoriums to gamers to bring in a new revenue stream.

Some numbers:

Before 6pm up to four people can hire a screen for two hours for around $90 (£65). This then rises to $135 in the evening. Users have to bring their consoles, games and controllers with them.

The auditoriums being hired out have between 100 and 200 seats, and by comparison CGV movie tickets cost around $12 each. So a 100-seat screen half filled for a film would bring in revenues of $600, rising to $1,200 for a 200-seat one at 50% capacity. And that is before the filmgoers buy their drinks and popcorn.

This actually works out really well as when the theater shows a movie, a chunck of each ticket goes to the movie distributor so the theater is not pocketing the whole $12. I would bet that fewer people need to be employed by the theater. I do not know what the labor laws are but they might not even be required to hire a "projectionist" as they are not showing movies.

Surprised that this has not taken off here.

The new AFDB

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Absolutely:

20210210-AFDB.jpg

AFDB? Go and read here.

That about describes it for me

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From Pearls Before Swine - one of my daily reads:

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Link to this comic.  Link to current comic.

Got generator?

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Reliable power might be a negotiating point from now one - from The National Pulse:

Biden Rescinds Trump Order Banning Chinese Communist Involvement In US Power Grid
President Biden has revoked a Trump-era executive order that sought to keep foreign countries and companies out of America’s bulk power systems – principally entities associated with the Chinese Communist Party – as part of his “Executive Order on Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis.”

The executive order, which executes key tenets of President Biden’s climate change agenda, was released on the former Veep’s first day in office.

Section 7 of the massive order, which includes the revocation of the permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline, also revokes several climate and energy-focused executive orders penned by the Trump administration.

Subpoint C notes that “Executive Order 13920 of May 1, 2020 (Securing the United States Bulk-Power System), is hereby suspended for 90 days.”

The Trump-era order sought to ban, replace, and set new criteria on bulk-power system (BPS) electric equipment coming from a foreign country or national that poses a national security threat.

Not only does this give China access to the Big Red Switch - the ability to shut down our grid with a few keystrokes, this also give China access to our power technology. Something they need for their own infrastructure. Win/win for Bejing but nothing gained for the USA except some political contributions. Disgustingly venal.

Some Palindrome Days

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Started yesterday:

_12021
_12221
_12321
   . . . 
_12721
_12821 and
_12921

Useful information - ham radio

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Licensed? This would be handy to print out and keep in a binder in your shack. From DropBox.

And yay!!!!!!

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From PARLER.COM

20210117-parler.jpg

They were deplatformed by Amazon Web Services for being conservative and for not toeing the liberal narrative.  Looks like they are back.  The Internet does not tolerate cencorship very well - it will always find a way to route around it. Even censorship by its supposed elites.

Jeff - you do not win this one buddy... Pick your fights better next time - truth will always win over corruption and dishonesty.

Four headlines:

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Fuck Google:

Google removes Parler app from Play Store

Fuck Apple:

Apple tells Parler it has 24 hours to clean house or be removed

Fuck Reddit:

Reddit Bans r/Conspiracy Moderator and r/DonaldTrump

Fuck Twitter:

Twitter permanently bans Trump

I am reminded of this wonderful line:

To quote Tyrion Lannister from the Game of Thrones,
"When you tear out a man's tongue, you are not proving him a liar.
You're only telling the world that you fear what he might say."

The Internet - an observation

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From Allum Bokhari's twitter account:

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

Communications Security

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An excellent primer here:

COMSEC for 2021
A lot of folks are wondering what happens if things get spicy.  Big Country has been posting tactical tips, as did Aesop last year (it doesn't look like he has a blog post tag for these so you'll have to dig).  Other folks are posting, and they have an expertise there that I simply don't.

On the other hand, I do have a (professional) background in COMSEC - Communications Security.  This post is how to pull off a level of COMSEC and OPSEC that will make it harder for you to end up on The Powers That Be's radar.  Note that I said harder, not impossible.  Ross Ulbricht messed up OPSEC, and he was very good at it.  A professional grade level of paranoia is not just desirable, it's probably mandatory.

One thing that I keep seeing repeated is the phrase "Be the Gray Man".  That's the primary objective here.  That will limit the sorts of communications that you will be able to (hopefully) keep off TPTB's radar.  And so what I'm going to write about here is not useful for voice or email protection (mostly), and won't help with GPS geolocation tracking.  It's purely a thought experiment on how to transmit decently large quantities of information without TPTB being likely to understand the content, or even know that information is likely being transmitted at all.

That last point is the key. Traffic Analysis is pretty terrifying, at least to those in the know, and was by far the biggest issue in the whole Snowden/NSA brouhaha.  I'm not sure that this solves that problem, but it takes some steps in that direction.  Remember, your mileage may vary, void where prohibited, do not remove tag under penalty of law.

Lots of great advice and links to open source applications.

Now this could be really interesting - wonder if Hilton is going to build a wing.  From PRNewswire:

Houston Spaceport Slated to Become Home to the World's First Commercial Space Station Builder
Houston Spaceport, the nation's 10th commercially licensed Spaceport, will be home to the world's first commercial space station builder, Axiom Space. The aerospace company announced plans to create a 14-acre headquarters campus to train private astronauts and begin production of its Axiom Station—the world's first free-flying, internationally available private space station that will serve as humanity's central hub for research, manufacturing and commerce in low Earth orbit.

"While we have confronted the challenges of a global pandemic this year, our work to move our city forward never stops. Today's announcement is another leap that demonstrates how Houston embraces humankind's boldest challenges and lives-up to every bit of its namesake - The Space City," Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said. "With Axiom Space at the Houston Spaceport, we expect to energize our workforce by adding more than a thousand high-quality jobs and engage our communities that are focused and dedicated to the STEM fields."

The new Axiom Space Headquarters campus will be located in phase one of the 400 acres Houston Spaceport at Ellington Airport, EFD. The first phase, 153 acres, was completed in December and includes vital infrastructure like streets, utilities, robust communications systems. The Houston Spaceport is ideally located minutes from downtown Houston.

They are not thinking small either:

Axiom Space's Houston Spaceport headquarters campus will include the construction of approximately 322,000 square feet of facility space to accommodate Axiom Station modules and terminal building space to house private astronauts, operations, engineering and other requirements. The campus will have ease of access to the Ellington airfield.

Texas-sized...  Makes a lot of sense - the International Space Station has shown that there is a use for these.  The ISS is nearing its End-Of-Life and will be splashed down sometime around 2028.

Their website: Houston Spaceport

I still want my jetpack.  Dammit - they promised us a jetpack. Hilton? 2001 - A Space Odyssey:

20210103-hilton.jpg

Major blow to the Surveilence State - from The Epoch Times:

US Turns Tide on Huawei, Ending CCP’s 5G Master Plan
The Trump administration scored a victory against the regime in Beijing this year through its “Clean Network” campaign that booted Huawei Technologies Co. out of critical telecommunications infrastructure in many countries.

The effort, while not well-publicized, secured an array of commitments from governments to exclude untrusted vendors from their fifth-generation (5G) wireless networks. As of this month, more than 50 nations, representing over two-thirds of the world’s economy, and 180 telecom companies had joined the “Clean Network” initiative led by the U.S. government.

The alliance includes 26 of the 27 EU member states, as well as technologically advanced countries such as Japan, Israel, Australia, Singapore, Taiwan, Canada, New Zealand, and India.

This is called Leadership.  President Trump has it.  The denizens of the deep state do not. Joe Xiden especially. And, to add delicious insult to injury:

As part of the plan, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. announced in May that it would build the world’s most advanced 5-nanometer chip fabrication facility in Arizona, an important milestone in securing the semiconductor supply chain and a safe 5G network for the United States and its partners.

China considers Taiwan to be a wayward state.  It just needs to come back under the beneficent wing of the Communists. Taiwan is having nothing of this.  They are an independent nation, they enjoy a free society and a robust economy.

As an aside - I work with machinery and although China is the major manufacturer, the design and the quality for Taiwanese equipment is way better than the Chinese.  India does a decent job too. Buying from China is a last resort or, for when the cheapest price is the delimiting factor.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. is a beast - they are the world's most valuable semiconductor company, and the world's largest dedicated independent semiconductor foundry. More here: TSMC.

I for one love our Robot overloads.

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Some people at Boston Dynamics are having way too much fun:

Darth by Darthwest - II

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The first one came out on May 13th, 2016 - a mashup of Hitchcock's North by Northwest and the Star Wars universe.

Major editing and compositing skills on display - pitch perfect.  The second edition came out December 19th, 2020:

Again? Perfect. If not better.

The team also did this mashup of Indiana Jones in 2017: Raiders of the lost Darth

Again? Perfect. Going to have to see if these people have done anything more. Incredible work.

From The Daily Wire:

20201224-faceb.jpg

Artist Claims Facebook Temporarily Censored Viral Painting Of Santa And Jesus Second Time
A North Carolina artist who created a viral painting in 2009 of Santa Claus kneeling over the baby Jesus is claiming that for the second time in two years, the painting was temporarily censored by Facebook.

Gaye Frances Willard said of the latest alleged censorship of the painting that Facebook flagged it for “violent content.”

Section 230 delenda est.

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