Recently in Geekdom Category

Of course not - COVID

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From the MIT Technology Review:

Hundreds of AI tools have been built to catch covid. None of them helped.
When covid-19 struck Europe in March 2020, hospitals were plunged into a health crisis that was still badly understood. “Doctors really didn’t have a clue how to manage these patients,” says Laure Wynants, an epidemiologist at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, who studies predictive tools.

But there was data coming out of China, which had a four-month head start in the race to beat the pandemic. If machine-learning algorithms could be trained on that data to help doctors understand what they were seeing and make decisions, it just might save lives. “I thought, ‘If there’s any time that AI could prove its usefulness, it’s now,’” says Wynants. “I had my hopes up.”

It never happened—but not for lack of effort. Research teams around the world stepped up to help. The AI community, in particular, rushed to develop software that many believed would allow hospitals to diagnose or triage patients faster, bringing much-needed support to the front lines—in theory.

In the end, many hundreds of predictive tools were developed. None of them made a real difference, and some were potentially harmful.

More at the site.  The article does not mention this but I am betting two things:

#1) - the failure was much worse than they are letting on and
#2) - the reason was GIGO - they were not getting honest input data

The "science" floating around was and still is corrupted by the political narrative. There are no clear numbers to be found without a lot of digging and reading between the lines.

Got enough J Boxes?

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This is all within code but still...


I am assuming that this assembly has not been secured yet. The mud ring is obviously about an inch back from where it need to be when the rock goes up. J Boxes? Junction Boxes. Handy things. Bought a few yesterday - always using them.


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Wicked sense of humor - here is one:


Nice write-up at Bored Panda, and his website (actual comics at WebToon and several other links).

From the trenches - tech support

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Been there - got the tee shirt:


Very handy for electrical wiring

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Wound up doing some more wiring in the garage.  A little too hot for yard work in the sun.

The current-carrying ability of a conductor is known as its Ampacity. Here is an excellent table to determine what wire size to use for what size of breaker and what expected load.  They also have a Raceway Fill calculator that allows you to see how many conductors of any given size should be placed in any kind of raceway (including flex and conduit (EMT)).

You are welcome 😁   CerroWire Tables and Calculators

CerroWire also makes a really good product - prefer them over other brands as the insulation is of high quality - consistent. Makes for fun shopping as CerroWire is carried by Home Depot which is my general go-to box store. Unfortunately, my favorite receptacles are made by Eaton/Arrow Hart which are only carried by Lowes. Eaton has better build quality than Leviton which is at H.D.

And of course, panels? Schnieder/Square D  Don't even bother asking for anything else.

When the fecal matter hits the fan, ham radio is one of the only surefire avenues for reliable communication.
Looks like the Cuban government knows this and is clamping down on its citizens.

Website to report jamming: Cuban Government Jamming 40 meter US HAM BAND

Depressing thought for the day

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Gotta admit that this is true...

Good - it will be expensive but they should have maintained their infrastructure.
From Los Angeles station KTLA:

Miami-Dade courthouse closes due to safety concerns after condo collapse
The Miami-Dade County Courthouse will begin undergoing repairs immediately because of safety concerns found during a review prompted by the deadly collapse of a nearby condominium building, officials said.

An engineering firm that examined the 28-story courthouse recommended that it undergo immediate structural repairs and that floors 16 and above be closed. All courthouse employees, including those who work on lower floors, will return to working from home, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava and other leaders said in a joint statement late Friday.

In its report, engineering firm U.S. Structures Inc. said that during its June 30 inspection, it found structural distress in various structural members such as support beams and joists, including steel columns that are in “poor condition” and concrete columns that have numerous cracks.

All you Drama Student graduates working as a barista?  Should have hit the math books a little harder and become a structural engineer.  Be rolling in the money now.

Seeing all sorts of traffic.  Nothing military in this screen-shot - have the cloaking device running for now:


Now all I need is to integrate the Vessel Tracking network and I'll be all set:


The radio service is called AIS (Automatic Identification System) and there are some receivers out there but they are for commercial maratime and yacht use and priced accordingly. My ADS-B receiver was under $30 with sales tax and shipping included.  Looking around to see if there are any SDR/Raspberry Pi scripts - I have a couple extra Pi's (older versions) and two or three SDRs I have been using for Ham Radio services.

Found this one - I'll keep looking though - it just receives the signal and outputs an NMEA code string.  Looking for something that can integrate with a chart.

What can I say - I want it all. Now 💩

It fits over Google Maps - quite clever:

Does one thing very well.  Simple, fast, free. Love it.

Here we go again 😍 - James G. Murphy and this puppy in particular:


Bidding is at $65 right now - I will need to drive to Fife, WA to take an up-close and personal look at it.  It looks to be made from model-grade plywood so not something that is really of interest. It would be worth $200 to me - if the bidding stays down, I might go and look at it.

Big fan of Jules Verne and Captain Nemo.  This is a favorite website of mine: Vulcania Submarine
Celebrating their 45th anniversary, their Nautilus submarine's 30th anniversary and their website's 20th.

Tracking military aircraft

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I am subscribed to a forum on the topic.

Someone was breathless - they posted that they saw a whole bunch of the Navy Lockheed P-3 Orion and the Boeing P-8 Poseidon aircraft flying into Florida.  Was this anything to do with the assasination in Haiti?  Was there something brewing?  Is the deep state planning a coup?

Another member of the list posted back that no, you dumbass, the airplanes are based in Florida.  They had flown away to escape potential damage from Hurricane Elsa. They were returning home.

Have yet to see a reply from the original poster. This is turning into quite a fun little hobby.

A clever idea

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Photoshop your pertinent data, print and laminate:
(bonus points if the QR code goes to someplace fun)


ADS-B receiver - antenna

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Getting some good data from my really crappy antenna.  Three days of operation and I have 62 contacts from more than 250 miles away and 863 from 200-250 miles.  Pales in comparison to the 57,755 contacts from overhead to 50 miles but still, it's working.


First up will be to get the other script running and then build a better antenna and mount it on the roof.  The receiver is very small and talks to the computer through a USB cable.  Going to try an active cable to see if I can mount the receiver directly connected to the antenna in a weatherproof box.  Cut down on signal loss.
Always stuff to experiment with. 

Joe Biden's F-15 and Nuke comment

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An American entrepreneur steps up to the plate - from The Newspaper of Record:

Elon Musk Unveils New Tesla F-15
Entrepreneur and all-around slightly insane man Elon Musk announced today he is releasing a new Tesla model: the F-15.

The all-electric fighter jet will be in production by the fall and is available for preorder now.

"We've revolutionized the electric car, and now, we're taking to the skies," Musk said at the official unveiling of the product held at the new Tesla factory in Texas. "Behold, I give you the power of flight!" Workers pulled a canvas sheet off the F-15 and revealed the sleek, next-generation fighter aircraft to the press gathered on the all-new Tesla runway.

"This puppy has it all: autopilot, a nearly 2000-mph top speed, advanced radar detection systems, and, of course, a giant tablet-like display in the center of the dashboard, just because we can!"

Musk also confirmed the F-15 can park itself, and you can even summon it with the push of a button on your key fob: handy for those trips to the grocery store or when you're trying to overthrow the government and need to make a quick getaway. "Don't leave home or attempt to topple a tyrannical government without it!"

"Tunnels!" he added for no reason in particular, leaving many onlookers confused.

At publishing time, Musk had confirmed that consumers can only purchase the F-15 using Dogecoin.

Be the first on your block. Reserve a space at your local airfield.

Cobbled together an antenna (OK, OK - a short hunk of wire stuck onto a coax connector), stuck it outside on the end of a fence, loaded the software onto an SD card and the durned thing booted right up and started running.

Going to give it a day to collect data - already have stuff coming in but want to get 24 hours before I start publicizing it. Fun stuff - let it run in the background and check in every so often.  It will be interesting when someone asks about "that airplane" that was flying overhead. They have a cell phone app that links in to your account.

Next up? Build a better antenna and make a permanent mount.
A lot of fun?  $20 plus tax?  win/win

From various accounts, there is 31 terabytes of data out there that is going to be made public.
Stuff the current regime would rather not have made public.
His suicide murder activated a deadman switch and it will be all over the net soon.

Conspiracy? Could be but what if it was true...

Unh Oh... Western Digital My Book

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Not good news - from Bleeping Computer:

WD My Book NAS devices are being remotely wiped clean worldwide
Western Digital My Book NAS owners worldwide found that their devices have been mysteriously factory reset and all of their files deleted.

WD My Book is a network-attached storage device that looks like a small vertical book that you can stand on your desk. The WD My Book Live app allows owners to access their files and manage their devices remotely, even if the NAS is behind a firewall or router.

Today, WD My Book owners worldwide suddenly found that all of their files were mysteriously deleted, and they could no longer log into the device via a browser or an app.

When they attempted to log in via the Web dashboard, the device stated that they had an "Invalid password."

I own a few of these - use them as external hard drives. Costco sells them for cheap.  Nice, quiet, reliable.  The first thing I do is delete all the software that had been preinstalled.  I use different software for backups.

And, of course:

BleepingComputer has contacted Western Digital with questions but has not received a response at this time.

Wonder if they were pushing an update.  I avoid cloud computing whenever possible.

Crap - RIP John McAffee

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He lived his own life - one of the more interesting tech people out there. From National File:

John McAfee Found Dead In Spanish Jail Cell
Cybersecurity entrepreneur, cryptocurrency advocate, and former U.S. presidential candidate John McAfee has been found dead in his jail cell in Sant Esteve de Sesrovires, Barcelona, Spain within hours of a court’s ruling that he would be extradited to the United States on charges of tax evasion and failure to disclose income.

According to Spanish outlet El Pais, the 75-year-old McAfee was found “dead in the cell, and the prison medical services have intervened to carry out resuscitation maneuvers, according to the Department of Justice, but they have not been able to save his life.”

“The Mossos are investigating what happened, and everything points to a suicide, as reported by the Department of Justice,” the report states. McAfee had described the extradition request as “politically motivated,’ and noted that he was “public enemy #1” of the United States government.

The US wanted him on tax evasion. He lived his life on his own terms - had fun and did good things. Quite the character. Would have been a great pirate 200 years ago. His final tweet is here:

But then again, there is THIS tweet from November 30th, 2019

An investigation is in order - even if only for the ability of an American Citizen to suicide while being held for extradition. That is major by itself.

Looks like availability is going to be tight - two headlines from industry websites:

You are thinking: "Oh, that doesn't affect me - I go through a can of WD-40 maybe once/year"
How often do you change the oil in your vehicle?
How much does it cost to run the truck that brings groceries to your local store?
What about the oil-change for the Amazon truck?

Like ripples in a pond...

Just what I need...

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Another project.

Been having a lot of fun playing around with the Raspberry Pi, learning Python and generally staring at buggy code.

Was reading some blog posts (here, here, here, here, here) about someone's ADS-B system. There is a large military airport across the water from me so I sprang for their receiver ($20). They give you the app for the Pi and if you choose to upload your data, they will give you an executive subscription to their flight tracking service.  Looks like a win/win situation to me as I can find out what is happening overhead (sometimes really curious) and they can use the data from my system.

I'll post more as I start getting data - got to hack together an antenna and get everything set up first.

Fun YouTube channel: Macro Room

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Great imagination and shooting skills - the channel is here: Macro Room

I have a new hobby!!!

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Surfing one of the more arcane byways of the internet and ran into this offering:


Complete Tattoo Kit w/ 2 Machines, Power Supply, Needles, 4 Inks
This complete beginner tattoo kit by Rehab Ink has everything needed to create amazing body art. It includes a pro-quality power supply, a stainless steel foot pedal control, a clip cord with stainless contacts to connect to the tattoo machine, and a US 3-prong grounded plug. 2 tattoo machines are also included, designed for both lining and shading, and featuring low-vibration frames, upgraded brass contacts, and dual 10-wrap coils. 4 shots of tattoo ink (2ml each) will help get you started (Black Outlining and Graywash Shading by Kuro Sumi/Forest Gump Green and Monthly Red by Millenium Colorworks-colors may be substituted if those shown are unavailable at time of purchase) and a black, angled metal ink cap stand along with 100 clear caps will provide you with a professional setup (each cap is 1/2" tall x 1/2" wide and holds .5ml of ink). 5 needles are included for use with the machine (Round Liners: 5RL, 7RL / Round Shaders: 5RS, 7RS / Magnums: 7M1) as well as 5 combo needles with 3/4" silica gel grip tubes (5RL, 7RL, 5RS, 7RS, 7M1). All needles are pre-sterilized with ethylene oxide gas and are individually blister packed. Adding to the kit are 10 anti-microbial, heat and UV-resistant rubber bands (these wrap around the tattoo machine and provide correct tension against the needle) along with 10 grommets (these join the needles to the machine's A-bar), 10 spare o-rings, and 6 extra coil washers for machine fine-tuning. A tube of aftercare anti-scar ointment is also included with a pair of black latex gloves, and a skin marking pen with tips at both ends (regular and ultra-fine). Rounding out this kit is an 8-1/2" x 11" sheet of spirit 4-ply thermal paper to transfer stencils onto skin (can be hand traced or used in a thermal or dot matrix printer), transfer paper instructions, a 2-sided piece of practice skin (designs on front, blank on rear), and a how-to instructional eBook!

All this for only $37.99... Free shipping to my door...  Woohooo...
Going to make some serious money tattooing all my friends and neighbors. Maybe set up a table at the coffee shop...

Assuming that the parent company is somewhere in China - they have a US office in Florida.

222 - trolling...

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Any idiots out there?

China nuke plant - update #2

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WHOOPS!  I was confusing this reactor with the one coming online in Finland.  Both of these are the new generation pressurised water reactors but the Chinese unit has been online for four years already - not a few months.

More about the design here: EPR Nuclear Reactor

China nuke plant - update #1

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Curious - from the Hong Kong Free Press:

‘Imminent radiological threat’: French firm seeks to resolve issue at Chinese nuclear plant near Hong Kong
A French nuclear firm said Monday it was working to resolve a “performance issue” at a plant it part-owns in China’s southern Guangdong province following a US media report of a potential leak there.

Yadda yadda yadda...   And then this caught my eye:

EDF later said that there was an “increase in the concentration of certain noble gases in the primary circuit of reactor no. 1” at Taishan, referring to a part of the reactor’s cooling system.

Noble gases are elements like argon, helium and neon which have low chemical reactivity.

Errrr...  'ya all forgot to mention Xenon.  Xenon is critical. Remember this:  Iodine Pit - it's a thing.  Google it.
From the entry at InfoGalactic:  Iodine Pit

Iodine pit, also called iodine hole and xenon pit, is a temporary disabling of a nuclear reactor due to buildup of short-lived nuclear poisons in the core of a nuclear reactor. The main isotope responsible is xenon-135, mainly produced by natural decay of iodine-135. Iodine-135 is a weak neutron absorber, while xenon-135 is the most powerful known neutron absorber. When xenon-135 builds up in the fuel rods of a reactor, it significantly lowers their reactivity, by absorbing a significant amount of the neutrons which provide the nuclear reaction.

The presence of iodine-135 and xenon-135 in the reactor is one of the main reasons for its power fluctuations in reaction to change of control rod positions.

The buildup of short-lived fission products acting as nuclear poisons is called reactor poisoning, or xenon poisoning. Buildup of stable or long-lived neutron poisons is called reactor slagging.

Again, this is a new reactor design.  This is not an established design, this is a so-called "3rd generation" PBW Reactor. You can run the core hot to get rid of the Xenon but its rate of decay is not known for this core (new reactor design - duhhh) and the danger of overshooting and overheating the core is a possibility.  This is what started the whole ball rolling at Chernobyl.

I am getting my iodine pills out this afternoon - they are in my prepper stash.  Just to be safe.

Was reminded of this today - decent software: uBlock Origin - Free, open-source ad content blocker

I go a different route and use MVPS HOSTS

Asset tags - having some fun

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I have been looking at getting some non-removable plastic asset tags for my tools. Inventory them and allow for positive identification if I am out working at a site.  Looks like some people have been having fun - a few photos:




Pretty cheap too - couple of bucks.  Get a few and sprinkle them around.

Looks interesting: Photopea

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Adware unless you want to pay for it - web based photo editor. Looks reasonably powerful.
Check out Photopea

I prefer the Affinity line of software - works great for me and reasonably priced. Photo, Designer, Publisher

More fun and games - ransomware

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Latest kerfuffle from the script-kiddies.  From the London Daily Mail:

Cyber criminals target Congress: 60 members from both parties are left UNABLE TO ACCESS data for weeks in latest ransomware hack

    • In latest ransomware attack, members of Congress are hacked
    • At least 60 lawmakers left unable to access constituent data for weeks
    • Target was iConstituent, a tech vendor that provides constituent services
    • Issue is still being resolved as lawmaker frustration grows
    • Unclear who is responsible for attack
    • US government and companies have been targeted by Russian cyber hackers
    • President Biden will discuss matter with Putin when they meet next week

At least 60 members of Congress from both parties have been unable to access data for weeks in the latest ransomware attack to strike the United States.

The target was iConstituent, a tech vendor that provides constituent outreach services to dozens of House offices, including a newsletter service that allows lawmakers to communicate with residents in their districts and a service to track constituent casework.

It's the latest cyber attack after a series of hacks against the US executive branch and American companies have left many institutions feeling vulnerable and the Biden administration struggling to deal with the situation.

Simple solution really - back up your fscking data. Early. Often. Simple really.
Ransomware hits?  Give them the finger and restore your data - back to normal in 20 minutes or so.

Industrial businesses have no need to expose their internal network to the internet.
If they get hacked, it's their own damn fault. Really really really need to access it?  Use a VPN.

Backup early and often

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With all the stories about large organizations being held for ransom, computer backups are in the news again.

Backing up your data is not hard.  Just backup the stuff you want to keep.

A hard drive crashing is not a matter of "IF", it is a matter of "WHEN"

I use disk imaging software for my backups but was recently turned on to Cobian Gravity - an excellent and free backup tool.

Trying it out after I get back from the farm and will let you know how it goes...

Happy 30th Birthday - PGP

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PGP? Pretty Good Privacy - Philip Zimmermann's cryptography program.
From Philip's Blog:

PGP Marks 30th Anniversary - 6 June 2021
Today marks the 30th anniversary of the release of PGP 1.0.

It was on this day in 1991 that Pretty Good Privacy was uploaded to the Internet. I had sent it to a couple of my friends for distribution the day before. This set in motion a decade of struggle to end the US export controls on strong cryptographic software. After PGP version 1.0 was released, a number of volunteer engineers came forward and we made many improvements. In September 1992 we released PGP 2.0 in ten foreign languages, running on several different platforms, upgraded with new functionality, including the distinctive trust model that enabled PGP to become the most widely used method of email encryption.

I became the target of a criminal investigation for violating the Arms Export Control Act by allowing PGP to spread around the world. This further propelled PGP's popularity. The government dropped the investigation in early 1996, but the policy debate raged on, until the US export restrictions finally collapsed in 2000. PGP ignited the decade of the Crypto Wars, resulting in all the western democracies dropping their restrictions on the use of strong cryptography. It was a storied and thrilling decade, and a triumph of activism for the right to have a private conversation.

I wanted PGP to be used for human rights applications. I wanted it to spread all over the world, especially to places where people needed protection from their own governments. But I couldn't say that out loud during the criminal investigation, because it would help the prosecutor prove intent.

The most dramatic PGP stories came from outside the US. PGP helped enable the safe evacuation of 8000 civilians from mortal danger during the Kosovo conflict. While attending the 2014 Cybersecurity Hall of Fame ceremony, a guy from the HUMINT community approached me to thank me because he said he had some colleagues who were alive today because of PGP. Human rights groups documenting war crimes in Guatemala, protecting witnesses from reprisals from the military. Human rights workers in the Balkans. Political resistance in Burma in the 1990s. There were so many stories like that over the years.

Groundbreaking software - putting communications security in the hands of everyone.  The deep state was very active back then too.  It was pissed but the cat was out of the bag.  Phil was put through Hell for this but there was nothing that they could do.

Read the whole thing as this is coming into play again with the current deep state machinations. We trust our phones and our social media but we really should not.  You never know who might be listening - especially when 95% of your electronics is manufactured by one nation.  The iPhone may be designed in the USA but who knows what might have been added to the design when it went into production - back door?

Karl Denninger hits it out of the park - a blast of truth:

Ransomware: Cut The Head Off The Snake

... ... deletia ... ...

Ransomware is rather simple, really: Don't do stupid things with critical control and infrastructure equipment.  As I've said before the real problem isn't "ransomware" per-se; it has no value unless the ransom can be paid and further, unless said infrastructure is connected to the Internet either directly or indirectly (e.g. through some other device) it can't get on the network in the first place.

I'd be more than happy to redesign anyone's infrastructure so that this can't happen.  You could run Windows XP on that network if you wanted to and, other than by direct, intentional sabotage by an employee nothing's getting in there.

But -- your snowflakes that work there couldn't use their computer on their desk to play on Facesucker, Instascrew or the myriad other time-wasting things they do.  They couldn't run their "side hustle" on the company dime or play around on Tinder.  Their phone wouldn't work in the building network and the USB ports would either be disabled in firmware or stuffed full of hot glue to prevent someone from jamming a thumb drive in there contaminated with whatever.  And there could be no exceptions, including out of the CEOs and CTO's offices, which is where a lot of them originate these days because, well, privilege with office.  Nope.

Without both policy and enforcement you have nothing and that means putting a stop to the cryfest from people up and down the line.  You're here to do a job, period, and here are the parameters.  Violate them, you will get caught and my boot is going to be up your ass ejecting you out the door no matter who you are.

What he said. Simply put - the employee has absolutly zero need to connect to the internet on a work machine during working hours.  Emails and connections to other sites can be surveiled and routed through a good firewall. Privacy? Don't make me laugh - this IS work related is it not?

Have a couple of older systems set up in the break room if you must.

Absolutely - engineers

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You do need them but sometimes, they simply go to far.  They do not think about the end user or repair:


Good job Bose

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I have a 50-year love-hate relationship with that company.  They started out with the clever idea of using cheap drivers for their loudspeakers and then, using active equalization electronics to compensate for the poor frequency response.  Under laboratory conditions, you can get a nice flat response this way but you are applying phase correction to an amplitude problem. The issue is that we use phase to determine the placement of sound in the "sound stage" - the auditory space in our minds. Violins on the left. Brass on the right if you listen to orchestral music. Using equalization messes this up biggly.

Bose equipment is used a lot in stage productions - theater, etc... but that is all done with a single channel of sound.  Monaural. There is no sound stage. Their stuff sounds good for casual listening but is annoying as hell for any kind of critical listening.  The guitar solo is not supposed to float around the stage depending on what note it is playing... Their initial consumer offering - the Bose 901 - invented the idea of "direct / reflecting" to side-step around this whole mess. 

. . . ANYWAY . . .

This wonderful story from Bleeping Computer:

Audio maker Bose discloses data breach after ransomware attack
Bose Corporation has disclosed a data breach following a ransomware attack that hit the company's systems in early March.

In a breach notification letter filed with New Hampshire's Office of the Attorney General, Bose said that it "experienced a sophisticated cyber-incident that resulted in the deployment of malware/ransomware across" its "environment."

"Bose first detected the malware/ransomware on Bose's U.S. systems on March 7, 2021," the company added.

The audio maker hired external security experts to restore impacted systems after the attack and forensic experts to determine if any of its data was accessed or exfiltrated by the attackers.

"We did not make any ransom payment," Bose Media Relations Director Joanne Berthiaume told BleepingComputer. "We recovered and secured our systems quickly with the support of third-party cybersecurity experts."

Good - got to love that last line: We did not make any ransom payment

Make it high-risk and painful for these bullies.

Unclear on number theory

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Happy Towel Day

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Be sure to carry one with you as you go throughout your routine.

Towel Day? Here. More here.

Fun idea - 50 years later

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From French news source The Connexion:

Renault and Ikea team up to make a flat-pack car you build at home
You could soon be able to ‘DIY’ assemble your own electric car, after French car maker Renault announced this week that it is working on a project with Swedish flat-pack homeware giant Ikea.

Renault is working with American designer Ryan Schlotthauer – whose previous clients include American vehicle brand GM – to create an electric ‘kit’ vehicle.

Code-named Höga, which means ‘high’ in Swedish, the vehicle would be intended for city use, and measure 2.3 metres long, and 1.8 metres high when constructed.

Sounds like fun - the licensing and approval process will kill it in the US. Maybe for factory use. The article mentions that France already has a classification for electric vehicles not needing licenses. Very cool.

50 years ago? Almost.  In 1975, Chip Callenbach wrote a book called Ecotopia and had somewhat similar design. Modular with several options for power - electric, gasoline or diesel as well as options for front, rear and coachwork - tractor, sedan, truck, etc...  Would love to see one of these built.

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