Month: February 2014

Please read me a story ! MEME


 Here are my own answers.

1. Describe your favorite place to cozy-up with a good book.

Stretched out here on the leather recliner, or in bed I like to read a little bit before I drift off to sleep. 

2. What do you read when you’re on the toilet?

Depends – if it’s a book I’m really into then yes. But otherwise no, get in, wipe, flush, wash hands. 

3. Do you read when taking a bath?

Being that I rarely take a bath but I do shower and reading would be problematic. But with electronics I suppose anything is possible. I’m one step from turning my current XP box into a kitchen computer but then I could waterproof it and make it a Kindle reader in the shower. Hmmm, choices! 

4. If you can, do you read when at the gym?

No I do not. I tend to need music at the gym, when I do go. But then the music is almost always on for me. 

5. Do you still read newspapers and or magazines?

I read Make magazine and QST an amateur radio publication of the American Radio Relay League aka ARRL. I’m

6. What are your favorite genres to read?

Science Fiction, Historical/Political, Technical and believe it or not religious texts. Need to be well armed in that respect. 

7. Do you read one book at a time or can you read several?  I can read a few at a time. But if it’s a real page turner I’ll tend to plow through one. 

8. If you start a book, do you finish it no matter what?

I finish most everything I buy. But there are some – they’re just too badly written or boring that I might not ever finish them. 

9. Did your parents read to you when you were growing up? Yes and no. They taught me how to read and then supplied me with a steady supply of books to read. 

10. Have you read to your kids/nephews/nieces?

Haven’t had a real chance to do so. 

11. How do you feel about reading books vs. using electronic devices? Have your feelings evolved from one or two years ago? 

Paper based books – I’ve got a ton of them ranging technical, Science Fiction, historical/political etc. But my collection on Kindle is getting pretty huge. I like the convenience of being able to read any book at any time either on the PC or phone. And I can see a future in the very near term where paper books will be a thing of the past. 


When was the last time you looked at or read an adult magazine to satisfy yourself? When was the last time you even saw one? 

I cannot honestly remember the last time I looked at one or even saw one. Now as a youth I had quite the collection of magazines and videotapes. But they’ve all been sold off or thrown out. 

And so goes Texas in the question of marriage equality.

Even in some of the reddest states we’re seeing courts knock down same sex marriage bans left and in right. And most of the rulings cite the striking down of Section 3 of the Federal Defense of Marriage act. 

And by and large – people are now bringing claims against state bans into the Federal courts. And not one has been lost by the plaintiffs despite the weak protestations and appeals of the bigots. 

Just the beginning of the decision is fairly fascinating to read. And continue reading on for a mini-synopsis of the twists and turns of the battle for full equality. 

And of course you know the bigots will yammer away about this – they’ll all suffer as Joe My God calls it the Sadz. They can bitch and moan all they want – their arguments have no validity in a court of law. No validity whatsoever. 

Rescuing Windows Boxes

So a friend was having major issues with his Dell Studio 1535 machine. To the point where he gave it to me and I told him I’d try to rescue the data on it. 

First thing – must haves for rescues:

1) A bootable Knoppix disc or USB stick

2) An external hard drive to copy the data onto. 


Just boot up Knoppix, mount the hard drive on the computer and then mount the external hard drive. Begin copying. Done. Now you can hose the machine and either re-install Windows on it or do what I’m going to do – I’m chucking Ubuntu on it. A Linux based laptop is exactly what I want. 

Modifying Tony Perkins Bobble Head

So this showed up on another blog I visit – Joe My God

It’s a Tony Perkins bobble head – now if you’re not familiar Perkins is the bigot at the FRC whose background includes being reserve law enforcement, the Marines, etc. How he got to be an authority on family is beyond my imagination. Anyhow here’s the original pic that was posted on Joe My God:

ImageNow elsewhere in the post someone had mentioned it was missing a KKK hood. So I surfed the net, found a hood, re-sized it a bit smaller and came up with this:


Didn’t even both to tailor it – I wanted it to look like a mask of sorts. Couldn’t have done it better. Perkins is a Grand Bigot. And he should be wearing the hood. 


So I was right: The Anti-Gay laws in Russia were spawned by U.S. Evangelicals

If there’s one sect or strain of Christianity I dislike most it’s Evangelicalism. It’s because Evangelicals try very hard to merge government and religion to the detriment of us all, most specifically the LGBT community. 

So it came as no surprise that i read this. It’s about the World Congress of Families which is most active in none other than Russia. But we can see direct offshoots of this in Uganda and Nigeria too. It’s all Evangelical horse shit being spread around the globe and here at home. 

But the article links U.S. Evangelical organizations like Focus on the Family, the National Organisation for Marriage, the Russian Orthodox church and whole bunch more. They even mention Brian Brown – the head of NOM who has traveled to Russia and given his dog and pony show. 

The article goes on to explain how in Russia they’re saying that marriage and birth rates are WAY down. Of course the bigots won’t step back and take a look at why that’s the case. Perhaps because of economic instability and the fact that Russia is essentially Plutocracy run wild. Has nothing to do with the LGBT community – instead this is just raw animus on display Evangelicals and the Russian Orthodox Church. For example did you know that the Patriarch of the Othodox church gets to vet all legislation that DUMA creates? Yup. 

That’s why the bigots love Russia – church and state are intertwined. I’m so happy the U.S. Constitution despite the efforts of the Evangelical groups here in the U.S. tying their damnedest, that the Constitution here prevents them from getting their bigoted ways. Not that the bigots haven’t tried what with Prop 8, and the various legislative and constitutional bans. And most recently we have religious idiots sponsoring and passing legislation to allow people with a so called “deeply held religious belief” to discriminate against the LGBT community. Case in point is Arizona – the House and Senate have both passed the bill to allow the bigots to claim foul at the sight of any of the LGBT community. I don’t know if Governor Brewer will sign the legislation but if she does I can assure you that the lawsuits will follow and the state of Arizona will look very foolish. 

Regards Arizona we could actually do something to demonstrate our ire. Just don’t buy any product or services that are made or produced in Arizona. We all need to do this, straight or gay. Let’s show our displeasure and starve Arizona of both business and state tax revenue. 

The Arizona Anti-Gay Movement

Now that the House and Senate have passed the anti-gay idiocy I have terminated business with a few companies I dealt with in Arizona. Until such time as they can find their voice they will have to do without my business. It’s that simple – any state decides to pass a law that says people can discriminate against the LGBT community it’s time to cut them off economically. 

So look at where your purchases come from – and if Arizona is among them let those vendors know that you won’t give them any business until they come correct. That includes certain doctors junkets that go on in Arizona. Cancel them. Deny the business in the state revenue. I guarantee the business community will call for repeal of the anti-gay law post haste. 

Related – on Securing debit and credit cards

I wanted to elaborate a bit on the PIN side. Six digits would buy you approximately a million possible PINS. And the time factor of 30 seconds per PIN means one would have to run through a million (10^6) PINS in 30 seconds to use the card. You’d need to try 33,333 PINS per second. That’s not impossible but extremely difficult and beyond the reach of most people.

And it doesn’t guarantee you’ll break the PIN. It’d be better if you knew the algorithm that generated the PIN. That’s what happened to RSA recently – someone got a hold on the algorithm. But that was fixed by the changing the something you know portion from 4 characters to 8 characters. Order of magnitude more difficult to hack, or so they think.

But with all of that in mind – I’ll revise my suggestion. To make a transaction you must know be in physical possession of the card, your regular 4 to 8 character PIN, plus the six characters from the Authentication app. And it would programmaticly trivial to make it so the PIN you know could be prepended, appended or maybe in the middle of the six generated digits. It would have the effect of expanding the ‘PIN’ composite to 14 positions if we choose an 8 digit PIN. That means 100,000,000,000,000 or a hundred trillion possible PINS give or take a few hundred thousand since the known PIN will always be the same, only it’s position would change. Keep the same 30 second limit on the authentication PIN and it means they have to scan 3,333,333,333,333 or 3.3 Trillion per second. Now we’re talking.

Reading: Exploding The Phone: The Untold Story of the Teenagers and Outlaws who Hacked Ma Bell

Written by Phil Lapsley with foreword by Steve Wozniak. It’s a fascinating trip through the days of yore and it triggers memories I have of the time. 

It’s the story on how a bunch of people accidentally or intentionally discovered one of the bigger security flaws of Ma Bell at the time. 

When engineers in the 1930’s and 1940’s were putting the long distance network together so it could be dialed by customers, a choice was made to use audible signalling and keep that signalling in-band. In other words it took the same path the voice portion of the call took. And Ma Bell published quite a bit – she told everyone what the frequency pairs were. 

I can recall too back in the early 1980’s a friend of mine had an Apple II machine with Novation CAT modem in it. The CAT was fully capable of generating ALL the tones used by Ma Bell. Spent many an hour on the 2111 conference with my friend. It was pretty interesting. Even got a demonstration of tandem stacking too. That was funny. It was all possible because of two factors – East Greenwich RI was still on older electromechanical switching systems and RI wasn’t a big target.  So yes, a fair amount of Blue Boxing was done. 

Of course Ma Bell took a heavy hand in all this – to the point of actually violating a few laws itself to try to get a handle on the problem of fraud in the system. It ultimately culminated in a completely separate network being built to handle all the call supervision and signalling. At the time it was SS5 or Signalling System 5. That eliminated the Blue Box capabilities. But you have to remember it took Ma Bell and her Children until the early 1990’s to get all of the network on what was then SS7. So you could still Blue Box from certain locations. 

I should explain the Blue box – in essence Ma Bell used 2600Hz to return supervision, and the combinations of frequencies to move calls around on the network.. The Blue Box was a portable device that could create those combinations. 

My trip through phone systems started with a descendant of the Southern Pacific Railroad which we know of today as Sprint. Back then you dialed a local access number, keyed in a six digit code and then the ten digit phone number you wanted to call. I had gotten a list of about 10 or so of these codes and I spotted something, they met a pattern. 

At the time I had my DC-II modem on my machine – it had the capability of sending DTMF as well as being able to tell when dial tone was present. So I wrote an algorithm with the pattern I’d seen in mind. I let it run for a couple of days. What I had at the end were 500 codes. Let’s just say my friends and I weren’t paying for long distance calls. 

It lay fallow for almost twenty years but then I found myself in a position of understand toll fraud on PBX’s which was pretty hefty. So I helped out in a few office that I worked in to secure the AT&T built PBX’s. I read all about those and the switches within the Bell System too. So I know a thing or two about their capabilities. One tour of a then New England Telephone #5 ESS was enlightening. This was right around the later 1980’s and the time of law enforcement wanting access on the switches to perform investigations. I believe it was call CALEA. I found out on that tour that not only did the cops have access, the switch guys had access too. They could listen in to any call in the digital voice stream. Interesting. 

Then of course I was the beneficiary of the daughter of all fuck ups with then Nynex at the time. I had moved from North Providence and the 401-725 exchange and coming back to Providence. So I called Nynex and requested the move in service. The installer came out, put in the jack and that was that. But month after month for nearly two years I got no bill. I had occasionally called Nynex at the time but the customer service reps would say they have no record of the phone number. Interesting. 

In the last six or so months I called Nynex almost daily to convince them I was calling from that line. Called repair to verify the line. Yup. It’s connected. But billing had no idea. Finally I got a CSR with more than two brain cells and we puzzled it out. Apparently the work order had gone in, but it was never returned to billing. So I paid $140 at the time and then started receiving a monthly bill. 

But the more interesting part this was at the point in time where you could choose your long distance carrier. I went with the default at&t since I rarely made long distance calls. But I did make them on occasion and they never billed. The Nynex CSR had no visibility into the long distance side. 

I found out from a friend in New Jersey what happened. He called me and said he got a call from the VA asking who was calling him from the VA. I understood what happened ; my number ended in 0716, the local VA hospital was on the same exchange in the 70xx  group and they had transposed digits to 7016. The VA was paying for my long distance. Sloppy screw up on Nynex’s part I suppose. 

How to track down a snow scofflaw

So I’ve been posting pictures and videos on Facebook and emailing my city councilor the same of sidewalks that haven’t been plowed on just my street. And of course my phone is acting up and I can’t upload videos to anywhere BUT Facebook. Which is REALLY fucking annoying but I digress.

First I had hit ProvPlan’s web site mapper. But the mapper showed no information for the lots in question that had unplowed sidewalks. Weird. Then I did a little experimentation on Google maps. I noted one of the lots abutted a multi unit building so I just dialed street address on Tell street down until I found that building.

Then I hit this site. All I did was plug in the address and I got the owner information. Now being the enterprising sort I do have a copy of the RI Voter Database on my computer. So I looked up the owners and found out that counter to the claims that many property owners are elderly these people are in their 50’s.

So I packaged it all up in an email and sent it to the councilor. No response thus far. But I think I nailed one of the owners. Now to find out who owns the other lot.

Never piss off we savvy folk – we will find you.

Easy come, Easy Go

So I noted with some amusement my blog stats shot WAY the hell up a few days ago. My best all time was 846 views and that was on a day in April of 2010. I believe it was a post about Fringe that triggered it. This time it was February 12th with 754 views.

Well this time the post that got the attention was about a pediatrician by the name of Michelle Cretella. She’s a homophobic bigot who has both testified in front of legislators and written letters to the editor in the paper, etc. denigrated gay people in Rhode Island.

I think a lot of what propelled it was she was supposed to speak at Providence College (PC). But they rescinded the invitation.

And I noted a lot of the referrals came from shares in PC’s email system. My only tenuous connection to PC by the way is a DJ gig I did for a couple of years back in the mid 1980’s.

But alas, the enhanced stats only lasted a day or two and now we’re back to normal levels. Thanks guys!