eMail Virus

Look at this pernicious little nasty:
(click to enlarge – it’s just a screenshot)


Without Religion, Chaos?

A Point of View: Why not caring about anything is only for the young

The great believers in the wonder of the universe, as revealed to us by science, seem to have considerable difficulty in either galvanising us to social solidarity, or providing us with true solace.   I’ve yet to hear of anyone going gently into that dark night on the basis that she or he is happily anticipating their dissolution into cosmic dust, nor do I witness multitudes assemblinggodhead in order that they may sing the periodic table together, or recite prime numbers in plain chant.   By contrast, religious beliefs continue to offer many people genuine succour, and they do this, I think, as Dostoevsky realised, not because of the specific concepts they appear to enshrine   –such as an afterlife or eternal judgement–   but because they place the human individual in a universal context, and thereby give her life meaning.

But is social solidarity what science is about?   Maybe it’s about answering questions we don’t know the answer to.


Argentina Debt Default – again

Some exciting events about to happen in a couple hours with Argentina’s debt (at least for finance and intelligence geeks) which may actually filter to the general news.

If you’ve read Confessions of an Economic Hit Man you’ll know some of the history.   In the 1950’s, Kermit Roosevelt (grandson of Teddy) overthrew the democratically-elected government of Iran, putting the Shah in place with only very little bloodshed and no military intervention, just by spending millions of dollars for a coup.   Powers That Be realized that this was a very good way to change a government to be friendly to G7 business interests, without the threat of war with Russia.


Credit Card Security – corollary

In response to my prior entry, my son asked about using NFC (phone) for payment, rather than cash.   It’s not simple.   At this moment this country in a maelstrom of deciding what to do next.   Isis with C-Sam is an NFC mobile payment system that’s at least deployed in a few places, and it’s a consortium of Verizon, AT&T and TMobile.   They saw early-on that the crypto chip in phones is controlled by the carriers and took advantage of that, locking other payment processors out. (Like Apple did with Firewire’s high licensing fees and failed when everyone went to USB, even though Firewire was far superior)   Unfortunately though, NFC payments have been minimal in the past year, so some major retailers (7-Eleven, Best Buy, et al) have turned off NFC functions in their terminals as it costs (a few fractions of a cent) to keep them on!


Credit Card Security

You may have heard about the massive credit card breaches at Target, Neiman-Marcus, Sally Beauty Supply, Splash & Key Road Car Washes, Roy’s Restaurants, MAPCO Express, Schnuck Markets, and others.   Where customers of those stores who used credit cards during certain periods in the past year, have had their credit card information scooped up and sold on the black market for carders to buy and steal with.   Thousands of cards for sale in a carders’ forum called Rescator[dot]so and [dot]la (don’t visit it without shields up) at $10-$25 each, in tranches called “Ronald Reagan”, and so on.   Rescator brought an innovation that hasn’t been seen before across dozens of similar crime shops in the underground:   It indexes stolen cards primarily by the city, state and zipcode of the stores from which each card had been stolen, which means carders can conveniently shop in their area and not trip alarms.   Carders (usually street gang members) buy blocks of this card info (tens, hundreds, thousands of cards), write the magstripe of old gift cards with the info, and use them to buy expensive items to re-sell, and more gift cards.   (Incidentally, banks are also buying this card info, to try and stem the tide… it’s cheaper than the thefts they have to cover)


DarkCoin in the altcoin Sphere

As y’all know, I’ve been out of the mining business since ASICs came into LiteCoin, as difficulty skyrocketed from ~2,800 to now 9,000.   The new ASICs are so fast that diff has had to adjust to keep the same pace of block discovery.   BUT to buy an ASIC for a $thousand or three to mine today will net about one LTC a day with current diff, so it’s absolutely not worth it except on gigantic scale.


HowTo: Convert Debian From SysV to Systemd

~~   Forward   ~~

For many years, Debian has used the SysV init.d system to start needed daemons and set things up.   But SysV can not work multi-threaded, and does not have controllable dependency resolution.   Upstart was invented to address some of these shortcomings, and RedHat and Ubongo tried it, but Upstart is just not extensible enough for future needs.   And so we turn to Systemd.

Systemd was developed for Linux to replace the init.d system inherited from UNIX System V and Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) operating systems.   Unlike init.d, which is scripted, Systemd is a daemon that manages other daemons, and all daemons (including systemd) are background processes.   Systemd is the first daemon to start (during boot) and the last daemon to terminate (during shutdown).   Systemd starts each daemon, it monitors it, and it stops it in an orderly way.   And Debian will be moving to systemd when revision Jessie is released as Stable around Nov, 2014.

Why wait?   Works great.   Let’s learn and use it now as it’s a better paridigm, and brings Debian into the 21st century.


Security of Bank Checks

As I now have a new credit union I need new checks.   I was just about to order them through the credit union like I usually do, but their price stopped me in my tracks:  $102 for 100 plain green checks!   Well I remember a couple decades ago my dad complaining about paying $1 per check, but that was way before mass-customization.

I’d have to get my own checks this time.   Checks are still a security problem for three main reasons.   Thieves steal your outgoing bill payments from your mailbox, then:

  • “wash” the checks with solvents to get your writing off, then they write their own amount to their alias;
  • use a color copier or scanner to duplicate your checks with new amounts;
  • physically cut out the writing and graft in something suitable to them.

(Get a good locking mailbox, and take your payments to the post office)