Bank of America….What the FUCK!

So really, are you people really this insane to believe that adding a $5 per month “debit card fee” is really an intelligent move?  WTF are you all smoking over there?  Then to make matters even worse you aren’t allowing people to close their accounts?  I do not, and will not, ever have an account through Bank of America.  This outrageous behavior only re-enforces the fact that those in charge of this company are completely and utterly…ugh I can’t think of a word strong enough.  Basically….FUCK YOU!  I don’t even have an account and I know how ridiculous this is.  I don’t really know what else to say other than a HUGE FUCK YOU!

Awesome Geocache Container!

So I came across this web site today while looking for a new nano cache for one of my cache sites that has recently had the container come up missing and found some really awesome containers.  Along with the “typical” rusty bolt and fake rock they have some other really sweet containers that I think would fool even the best geocachers!  My very favorite one (I may have to order one of them) is this one (click the picture to go to the product page):

They also have so other pretty awesome containers like a fake birds nest, a pine-cone, and a thermometer.

My devious side is really kicking in and has the wheels turning in my brain for even more awesomeness of my own creation.  I’m going to have to place an order here soon for some of this stuff but even beyond that I want to come up with something even more devious than these….if that’s possible I suppose.  There are a few cachers around the Columbus area that I would love to fool!  I’m looking at you LttlDude and Kelinore!  🙂

The First Global Cyber-War

For those of you hiding under a rock or otherwise out of the loop the past 2 weeks a quick Google News search for Wikileaks should help fill you in.  The well-known whistle-blower site has hit global headlines the past few weeks as it releases some 250,000 classified US documents.  The site has come under heavy fire from US officials, some of which want to classify it as a terrorist organization.  Amazon, one of the hosts of Wikileaks pulled the plug on their hosting, EveryDNS stopped providing DNS service to Wikileaks, and Visa/Mastercard/PayPay have refused to process donations to the site.

In retaliation of all these actions, a group of supporters (that have no affiliation with Wikileaks whatsoever) known as ‘Anonymous’ launched a number of DDoS attacks against many of these sites.  Visa and Mastercard had their sites taken offline for a number of hours, PayPal’s blog and API site (a site used by maybe third-parties to process payments) were also hit and taken down/slowed down for a number of hours.  Other causalities of the attacks include Swedish prosecutors, PostFinance, and many others.

But this is not a one-sided battle.  The ‘Anonymous’ site has been hit several times on various fronts bring parts of its websites and chat rooms down.  Meanwhile Wikileaks was taken offline from a combination of DDoS attacks and Amazon/EveryDNS shutting down their accounts.

Also, Earlier in the year we saw attacks against the RIAA and MPAA by a group known as ‘4chan’ for attempting to take down a number of file sharing sites with DDoS attacks of their own.  This same group also targeted Tumblr for allegedly copying other people’s work and not giving them credit for it.

Data breaches of companies large and small are happening at an alarming rate too.  McDonald’s, University of Wisconsin, and Gawker are some of the latest victims.

Searches on Google News and may other sites for terms such as “DDoS Attack“, “4chan Attack“, and “data breach” yield thousands and thousands of results.  Reports of new attacks are coming daily and sometimes hourly at a rate that doesn’t appear to be slowing.  While most Internet users do not, and most likely will not, see the ramifications of these attacks, many individuals are starting to see the writing on the wall.

I myself believe we are on the verge of a global cyber-war.  We seem to be moving away from organized armies with rifles to vigilantes armed only with a laptop and an Internet connection.  Their targets can be a block down the road or 5000 miles away on the other side of the globe.  There is no age, race, religious, or any other barriers to doing such work.  Attacks from these ‘armies’ can be organized to strike anywhere in the world within hours.  Becoming part of the attack is so simple most children could do it.  Simply download a piece of software and give it the address of the control server.  That’s it, your PC is now a part of the attacks.

According to the download site, over 80 THOUSAND copies of the program have been downloaded in the last week.  What’s also clear from the graph is that downloads have trickled off since the 9th.  However, some statistics I managed to uncover indicate that there are almost 2 BILLION Internet users worldwide.  Assuming one quarter of those own a computer that’s roughly 500 MILLION Internet connected computers worldwide.  I’m sure this number is VERY low as a lot of these people have more than one computer but for the sake of argument let’s just go with it.  Let’s then say 1% of those Internet connected computers belong to a group of people who believe very strongly one way and want to do something to show it.  This brings us to about 1MILLION pissed off Internet users with computers out to prove a point.  Finally let’s take our original 80 THOUSAND downloads of that software and double it to 160 THOUSAND.  If 160 THOUSAND computers managed to take down the web sites of Visa and Mastercard (ranked 326 and 411 on the fortune 500 list of 2010) imagine what 1 MILLION could do?

But it doesn’t stop there; new technologies are being leveraged to make attacking even easier.  A small Javascript page makes attacking even easier.  All you have to do is visit a specific website and click a button.  No software to download, no computer knowledge required, and you could even participate from other Internet connected devices such as smart phones and tablet PCs.

We are starting to see what the creators of SETI@home discovered many years ago….one personal computer trying to analyze a decade’s worth of scientific data is all but worthless.  However, hundred of thousands, even millions, of computers all focused on the same task can really make a HUGE impact.  The shared CPU, RAM, disk space, and bandwidth of all these computers focused on one specific goal can rival, even exceed, the capabilities of the worlds great supercomputers.

Attacks such as those see the past two weeks or so show us that dedicated individuals, those that believe strongly in a cause, have the ability to take down not only your Facebook and Twitter pages but your bank, favorite on-line merchant, even government sites.  They can organize at a moments notice and vanish just as quickly.  And no, it’s not just the ‘bad guys’ that have this power, the US government, Chinese government, and I’m sure many other government organizations possess this ability.

If individuals can cause the amount of damage we have see these past two weeks imagine what would happen if two governments started attacking each-other through DDoS attacks?  Imagine the Axis and Allies attacking not with heavy bombers and armored tanks but with nothing except small electric pulses sent zooming around the globe at the speed of light?  Your snipers are highly experienced hackers, your Generals become CIO’sFirewalls and IPS devices become your shields and walls.  Your heavy artillery is worms and Trojans.  Wars could be decided in minutes…in seconds.

We sit at a crossroad and are watching history unfold before our very eyes.  The true potential, the true power, of millions of Internet connected devices is just starting to come into light.  Nobody knows what the future holds, and I would never claim such things.  The Internet is, and has always been, about the open flow of information.  What started as a small lab experiment has turned into a tool that most of us cannot do without in our day-to-day lives.  As cars, home appliances, and many other devices connect to the Internet the number of possible ‘attack devices’ is only going to grow.  I, for one, look to the future with much anticipation and wonder, contemplating what happens next….

Farther reading:
http://pandalabs.pandasecurity.com/tis-the-season-of-ddos-wikileaks-editio/
http://www.zdnet.com/blog/perlow/the-global-cyber-war-hacks-and-attacks-scorecard/15192
http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-20024578-38.html
http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/dec/10/wikileaks-cables-anonymous-online-war
http://www.astaro.com/en-us/blog/from-bedroom-to-underground

3 Doors Down – Citizen/Soldier

Beyond the boundaries of your city’s lights.
Stand the heroes waiting for your cries.
So many times you did not bring this on yourself.
When the moment finally comes, I’ll be there to help.

And on that day, when you need your brothers and sisters to care.
I’ll be right here.

Citizen soldiers.
Holding the light for the ones that we guide from the dark of despair.
Standing on guard for the ones that we’ve sheltered.
We’ll always be ready because we will always be there.

When there’re people crying in the streets.
When they’re starving for a meal to eat.
When they simply need a place to make their beds.
Right here underneath my wing, you can rest your head.

On that day, when you need your brothers and sisters to care.
I’ll be right here.

Citizen soldiers.
Holding the light for the ones that we guide from the dark of despair.
Standing on guard for the ones that we’ve sheltered.
We’ll always be ready because we will always be there.

Hope and pray, that you never need me.
The rest assured I will not let you down.
I walk beside you, but you may not see me.
The strongest among you may not wear a crown.

On the day when you need your brothers and sisters to care.
I’ll be right here.
On that day when you don’t have strength for the burden you bear.
I’ll be right here.

Citizen soldiers.
Holding the light for the ones that we guide from the dark of despair.
Standing on guard for the ones that we’ve sheltered.
We’ll always be ready because we will always be there.

Otter 1991 – 2009

The day I thought would never come….has. My cat that I’ve known nearly all my life is now gone.  I thought I would be alright….I was wrong.  I feel like a part of me is gone and never coming back.  He’s had a good life though, some 18 years which is extraordinary for a cat, that doesn’t make it any easier though.  If anything, it makes it ever harder.  Words cannot, and will not ever be able to express the grief that I feel.  He was one of….probably my very best friend.  I think back to all the fun we used to have.  All the crazy things he used to do.  I think about his crazy moods and hiding under the rug.  About his love of climbing into things, boxes, bags, our giant glass jar.  I think about the time he set at the table and looked like he was ready for dinner.  I think about him curling up in my lap for a long nap.  I think about the abuse he took from me….the time I dropped him down the stairs, the time I put a clothespin on his tail.  I suppose I wanted him to live forever….and thought that he would.  I thought that he would always be around.  What small comfort is in the fact that I got to say goodbye….and that he didn’t suffer.  Though really, those seem like very small comforts.  I just hope he know how much I loved him.  Rest in peace my dear friend.  I will never forget about you.  You will always hold a very special place in my heart.

Otter Bunyard 1991 to 2009:
MVC-023F

MVC-024F

IMG_0531

100_0078

100_0040

100_0018

Follow Up: Car trouble…

So after some swearing, a vacuum test, and the advice of the good people over at the Ford Forums it turns out to be a bad hose.  One of the hoses in the picture (though you can’t tell it) had a nasty crack down the side on the end that connected to the sensor.  After getting new hoses, and another new sensor then putting it all back together, it has run flawlessly.  I’m really quite relieved, I was afraid the the cat converters were plugged and would have to be replaced, but it was just a simply hose.

Car trouble…

I hate cars, I really do. I know that mine is getting up there in age and miles really (10 years old with nearly 150k miles) but it still drives me crazy when things go wrong. This time, it’s the DPFE sensor. Don’t worry if you don’t know what that is, I didn’t either a week or so ago. Though now I have learned FAR more about the EGR system than I ever really cared to know.

Really, it’s not that the sensor has gone bad, it’s that it’s been melted, rather badly. This picture will likely show a bit better what has happened (click the image for a larger view):

IMG_2948

Yeah, not cool.  I’m still trying to track down the problem but at this point, I believe it to simply be one of the two hoses pictures, more specifically, the one on the exhaust site of the orifice.  I bought the hoses and another sensor at NAPA but before I install it, I wanted to make sure that the cat converters aren’t plugged.  That could also cause excessive back pressure and do the damage shown.

What makes it worse, my car actually qualifies for the “Cash for Clunkers” program and I would get $4500 on a trade in.  The problem with this is that I can’t find the car that I really want….a black Jetta TDI, manual transmission, with a sunroof.  Really my car should run a fair bit longer so I really hate to give it up over a repair that costs a few hundred dollars.  Of course, if I do end up having to replace the cats, that’s another $350 or so if I do it myself.

It’s just driving me crazy….I laid awake for a while this morning just thinking about it and going over all the possible scenarios in my head.  I really believe it to just be the hose, but I don’t know that for a fact, and at $100 a pop for the sensor I don’t really feel like melting another one.  Tomorrow I plan to check the vacuum pressures to see if the cat converters are bad.  My hope is that they aren’t, and that simply putting everything back together (with the new hose) will solve the problem.

Anyway….just what I have been thinking about for the past few days….

My Daughter…My Children

Whether or not I am ready for it, it won’t be long at all before I become a “family man” so to speak. I am marrying the most wonderful woman in the world who also has two children…a son who is 3 and daughter who is 6. While the debate still seems to go on about my fitness to be a parent, there is something that really made me smile this morning.

Shannon, 6, was staying with her grandmother overnight as Shelley had to work. Since her bio father doesn’t have a place of his own, he stays here as well. This can, as one would imagine, cause some tension.

While I don’t know the whole story, this I know. Shannon and her bio father had a bit of a….well….”falling out” this morning….more than what is usual. As I understand it, she stated that “he was mean but I wasn’t and she wished she was with me this morning”  That of course has been tweaked to reflective the fact that it’s coming from me and not from her.  Not being a grammar major, nor really being all that great at grammar, I don’t really know the proper term here.

What makes this better still, is that he was more that a little upset with this.  He promptly left, didn’t say goodbye, didn’t stop at the stop signs, and just took off.  I know I shouldn’t find this nearly as amusing as I do, but I cannot help it.  I really don’t know how to describe it.  I’m overcome with a strange sense of proudness (shut-up, I know it’s not a word!)….for her standing up to him.  The voice in the back of my head telling me that I will be just fine as a parent also seems to be getting stronger.

I don’t know….I don’t really know how to define this.  While they are not my bio children, I have this connection that seems to be stronger than any physical connection could ever be.  I really don’t know how to describe it….I may never be able to honestly.  I feel like….I know that I love them, that I am proud of them, that I truly value our time together.  I….I really cannot explain it.

I know it’s not what would be expected…bit sometimes it really takes a rather odd event to really shed light on the situation.  Meaning, I have always been proud of the….my children that is….but I don’t know that I really realized how much until today….

Reflections….

As I drove home, I took a route I don’t usually take. I headed down SR-315 for a reason unknown. Anyway, at a point just north of SR-161, is where I had my accident some 2 and a half years ago.  I realize it was worse than I would like to admit, but I will say that if you know where it is, you can clearly still see the path I cut through the brush and trees.

I haven’t been past here in some time, and it really gave me a chance to reflect.  Having known the record of the cars I choose to drive (cop cars for all intensive purposes) it’s not surprising that I emerged from it nearly unharmed.  Looking at it though, I realize that there are very few, maybe no other cars that would have protected me the way my vic did.

Crown Victories, Grand Marquis, Lincoln Town Cars, etc. have always been built pretty well.  The police don’t just choose them randomly.  They have beefy engines, strong suspensions, and really do hold up rather well in a collision.  Well….the car doesn’t, but it does a VERY good job protecting the driver.

Anyway, I digress.  I don’t believe that there are many cars that would have left their drivers in as good shape as I was.  What it is, I don’t know, but I know there is a reason I am still here today.  There is a reason I choose a Crown Vic as my car.  A reason I walked away from that crash nearly unharmed.  It’s something I have thought about many times over the past couple of years.  Something that I will never be able to shake, something I will never be able to forget, something I will never be able to deny.

I know that I won’t usually admit it, nor will I usually acknowledge it, but the truth is, I fucked up, really bad.  Whether it was for better or worse, I really don’t know, but I cannot change the past.  I don’t usually dwell on it, or really even think about it, but it has been at the front of my mind this evening.

What it means, I haven’t a clue.  I have never claimed to understand the way that my mind works, but I know this.  Something caused me to drive past that point tonight.  Something caused me to dwell on it for so long.  What, I don’t know, but something.

Anyway, I have gone on long enough, I’m headed to bed.  It’s still a bit early, but I’m tired and not in a very good mood….

I Fought the Ceiling Fan (And The Ceiling Fan Won)

So I learned a valuable lesson the other day.  What you are in a room with low ceilings, and a running ceiling fan, don’t reach up.  Yes, I know that should have been a given, but when you wake up all groggy, and in the dark, it’s not the first thing on your mind.  At this point though, it’s most certainly something I will think about.

It happened late Monday night or early Tuesday morning.  I’m not really sure which since my clock’s wrong.  I got up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom.  On my way there, I was walking through my dark room and stretched my arms up in the air to stretch.  Instead of cracking a few joints and stretching out my arms though, my left-hand pinky was hit with the blade of a ceiling fan.  At first it wasn’t really all that bad.  It was dark and I was tired so I didn’t really think much of it.  After I got to the bathroom though and turned on the light, it was a bit worse.  I got cut in three places.

So that’s my story.  Don’t fight the ceiling fan, you won’t win, especially when it’s on high speed.