Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Punch, Counterpunch

leads to...

Regardless of what you believe on the "issues" (which are hard to distill into 30 second sound bites) tell me how doing a press conference on an oil rig (let alone a German sausage shop) makes sense. Or juxtaposing Paris Hilton, Brittany Spears? Or using 20th century cliches like "American Ingenuity" (McCain was throwing that around in his town hall this week) and talking about manufacturing jobs being the basis of the American economy. Obama will raise my Taxes? Oooh, that scares me.

Where is the John McCain that called a spade a spade and said those jobs aren't coming back?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

CentOS 4/5 VMWare Guests

I pretty much will do anything to avoid running RHEL/CentOS on bare metal, but on guests it isn't so bad, because sometimes you have to choice:

Install and Configure VMWare Tools

# yum update
# yum install gcc
# yum install kernel-devel
# reboot

Enable Time SYNC (you don't need X)

In your .vmx file (on the host obviously)

tools.syncTime = "TRUE"

Olbermann/Maddow v. McCain

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Man I could use some Sausages

This place made me think of good old Schilo's in San Antonio on the Riverwalk.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Always There?

Except if you have to support Jim Webb's revised GI Bill.

But seriously, as attack ads go this is pretty weak and not much to get that excited about. And if this is the "character" attack (compared to what they tried on Clinton during the 90s and lost) don't see it working that well for them. And the "Country First" crap? So 20th century. They really think it is effective rhetorically. But I guess that's all they've got.

An interesting contrast to steady hands of Plouffe who appears to actually have a strategy.

Plouffe said that the trip made three important impressions on voters:

1) “Our sense is that voters are looking for a new direction in foreign policy, as well as they are on the economy. We think it’s important to make sure they understand the direction Barack Obama would like to lead us, in terms of foreign policy. The speech in Berlin was a pretty good window into that.”

2) “It’s important for voters to see that when he’s dealing with world leaders and military leaders, that he’s very comfortable and that he is someone who can represent the country well on that stage.

3) “Voters in this country really do want our relationship with the world strengthened and are unhappy that there’s some tension there. We’re going to lead with strength, and not compromise anything. But the fact that he is a potential president who can have a better relationship with our allies and the rest of the world is something that’s very important to voters. The Republicans, at their peril, scoff at that.”

Plouffe said one reason he does not expect a surge in polls is that both Obama and McCain “have pretty healthy bases, so there’s not that many voters really voters in play here, in terms of a swing voter.”

“A lot of them are not going to make a decision right now,” he said. “There’s a chunk of people in this country – probably close to 8 to 10 percent – who are going to sit back and wait for this to unfold.”

Hillary's negative attacks (if I recall correctly) were far more effective.

Friday, July 25, 2008

FredNeckSec 1: Next Thursday

I put the announcement up on citysec last week. I'll be at Barley & Hops around 7 +/- 30 minutes in the bar area. I'll have something with a Cisco logo on it and will probably be drinking one of their mediocre stouts. There should be handful that may make it, but it will be interesting how many security folks there are in this neck of the woods. Feel free to drop me a note or just show up.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

PDP gets a Pwnie!

I quit reading GNUCITIZEN because it made me too angry and I would write snarky comments on my blog and the Adrian and PDP would leave comments and I would be forced to argue with those young whippersnappers that are smarter than I am -- but I'll break my vow of silence to congratulate them on their pwnie in the overhyped bug category, of course! I knew you could do it.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Spaf on Obama

Spaf's Blog on a recent security event at Purdue allows me to mix computer security and politics (for once).

Early in his statement, he deviated from his script as reproduced in the paper, and dropped my name as he was talking about cyber security. I was very surprised. He referred to me as one of the nation’s leading experts in cyber security when he mentioned Purdue being in the lead in this area. Wow! I guess someone I sent my email to pushed the right button (although my colleagues and our students deserve the recognition, as much or more than I do).

His further comments on officially designating the cyber infrastructure as a strategic asset is important for policy & legal reasons, and his comments on education and research also seemed right on. It was a strong opening, and there was obviously a lot in his comments for a number of different audiences, including the press.


I was really quite impressed with the scope of the discussion, given the time and format, and the expertise of the panelists. Senator Obama was engaged, attentive, and several of his comments and questions displayed more than a superficial knowledge of the material in each area. Given our current President referring to “the Internets” and Senator McCain cheerfully admitting he doesn’t know how to use a computer, it was refreshing and hopeful that Senator Obama knows what terms such as “fission” and “phishing” mean. And he can correctly pronounce “nuclear”! grin His comments didn’t appear to be rehearsed — I think he really does “get it.”

(Before someone picks on me too much…. I believe Senator McCain is an honorable man, a dedicated public servant, and a genuine American hero. I am grateful to have people like him intent on serving the public. However, based on his comments to the press and online, I think he is a generation out of date on current technology and important related issues. That isn’t a comment related to his age, per se, but to his attitude. I’d welcome evidence that I am mistaken.)

Senator Obama is a great orator. I also noticed how his speed of presentation picks up for the press (his opening remarks) but became more conversational during the panel.

Senator Obama kept bringing the panel back to suggestions about what could be done to protect the nation. I appreciated that focus on the goal. He also kept returning to the idea that problems are better solved early, and that investments without imminent threat are a form of insurance — paying for clean-up is far greater than some prudent investment early on. He also repeatedly mentioned the need to be competitive in science and technology, and how important support for education is — and will be.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Watch that send button?

I've gotten much better lately about intentionally sending career-limiting emails in moments of professional frustration (man I wrote some doozies at Cisco, heh) but this accidental White House email is pretty funny. Assuming this is true.

Can you find a John McCain without a Flag?

I'll admit voting for Dubya in '04 but we'll see if the flag waving works this year.

Just How White are You?

Washington Journal (on C-SPAN radio) is just too depressing these days so I've been listening to Elliot in the Morning during my commute and I heard an interview with Christian Lander. Some pretty funny stuff but I guess I'm out of it because I hadn't heard of Stuff White People Like.

Not all of them are funny but some of them are, and many of them are spot on. Unlike Central Austin, Skokie was not a big white people (meaning Liberal white yuppie) places. New Market is very white but it is pretty "country" and not "white" like Seattle/Austin "white."

But anyway, we are guilty as charged with #85: The Wire
If you need to impress a white person, tell them you are from Baltimore. They will immediately ask you about The Wire and how accurate it is. You should confirm that it is “like a documentary of the streets,” the white person will then slowly shake their head and say “man” or “wow.” You will be seen in an entirely new light.

and high school especially the bit about The cure:

If you cannot properly gauge the type of music a white person liked in high school, you should always say that you were really into The Cure. All white people know that liking The Cure in high school is an invitation to be tortured by the cool kids. This will bring about instant sympathy and respect.

as well as Not Having a TV.

The number one reason why white people like not having a TV is so that they can tell you that they don’t have a TV.

Yeah, I have almost every Cure CD before 1995. And we don't currently own a TV, and we watch The Wire on iTunes & Netflix and I have only communicated with one person I went to high school with in the last 20 years!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Strategy vs. Tactics

Not your usual democrat.

Now, all of us recognize that we must do more than look back - we must make a judgment about how to move forward. What is needed? What can best be done? What must be done? Senator McCain wants to talk of our tactics in Iraq; I want to focus on a new strategy for Iraq and the wider world.

It has been 18 months since President Bush announced the surge. As I have said many times, our troops have performed brilliantly in lowering the level of violence. General Petraeus has used new tactics to protect the Iraqi population. We have talked directly to Sunni tribes that used to be hostile to America, and supported their fight against al Qaeda. Shiite militias have generally respected a cease-fire. Those are the facts, and all Americans welcome them.

For weeks, now, Senator McCain has argued that the gains of the surge mean that I should change my commitment to end the war. But this argument misconstrues what is necessary to succeed in Iraq, and stubbornly ignores the facts of the broader strategic picture that we face.

In the 18 months since the surge began, the strain on our military has increased, our troops and their families have borne an enormous burden, and American taxpayers have spent another $200 billion in Iraq. That's over $10 billion each month. That is a consequence of our current strategy.

In the 18 months since the surge began, the situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated. June was our highest casualty month of the war. The Taliban has been on the offensive, even launching a brazen attack on one of our bases. Al Qaeda has a growing sanctuary in Pakistan. That is a consequence of our current strategy.

In the 18 months since the surge began, as I warned at the outset - Iraq's leaders have not made the political progress that was the purpose of the surge. They have not invested tens of billions of dollars in oil revenues to rebuild their country. They have not resolved their differences or shaped a new political compact.

"Slam dunk" to me. The key question of this election is whether Americans can understand the nuances of strategy -- or do they want a "chump to talk shit" (compare Obama's and McCain's responses to Iran's missle test for what I'm talking about) about threats and not take responsibility for a failed strategy.

Also seems pretty savvy politically, how does McCain respond to this -- assuming he can even string a few sentences together in a coherent manner. More open ended (emotional) saber rattling about how bad the bad guys are (they are Terrorists, after all) or whether he tries to to come up with a new packing for the old lack-of-a-strategy from Bush ("Goddammit, we are Americans, we are free, we want you to be free, and we'll kick your ass to make sure it happens." Which, in the short term, doesn't appear to have worked all the well in spite (and probably because of) all the chest thumping.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Supercool Verizon DSL, Missle Defense and the Power of Knowledge

DSL has come a long way. I put in an order with Verizon over the weekend and I'm up. Compare that to the first time I tried to get DSL back in 1999, and that was when I worked for Southwestern Bell Network Integration. It took like 5 months and I had quit by the time the order finally came through.

All in all no complaints. And more importantly my wife won't keep telling me how horrible our Internet his here. My short experiment of running 4-6 computers through a single EVDO connection is over. Too many user revolts and Verizon was too cheap.

A few minor glitches, had to call tech support, and their IVR was totally hosed, but the first tech I got solved the problem. Hell of a lot better than my experience with Comcast in Vernon Hills when it took over 2 hours after the initial install. RCN was good when it didn't snow, which was a bit of a problem in Chicago

But on the way home from work today listening to C-SPAN Radio, I heard some 3-star director of the the Middle Defense Agency briefing the folks at the Pentagon today. Very impressive and after hearing about this, I'm all for the interceptors they are putting in Eastern Europe. Silly Russians. He was rattling off stuff about azimuths, frequencies, correlation, simulations, various types of radars. Good stuff.

Who knows if it was accurate. The great thing technical knowledge (especially if it is classified) is you never know if they are right or wrong or even telling the truth, but this guy was a good briefer.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Army and Self Critique

From age 10 to age 14, we lived in Edgewood Area, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. In the early 80s lots of cool stuff was going on at APG. They were testing the HMMV, the M-1, the Bradley's. Once we made it to one of the ranges and saw some demos.

In many ways it was an idyllic life. Living in a large early 20th Century White house with steam heat radiators, that overlooked the Gunpowder River, where we'd go down to "the beach" (next to the officer's club tennis courts) and throw rocks at the bloated carp that washed ashore until they were obliterated in the sand.

I remember skiing at night into the middle of the parade field with snow falling, knowing full well there would be no school the next day. And during the past two winters in Skokie, when I would look out at the streetlights as the snow streaked down, hoping there would be school I remembered how back in Edgewood I'd wished the opposite.

In summers, I'd drive around post with a special trailer on the back of my bike, where I'd put aluminum cans and cash them in for 29 cents a pound or whatever the price was back then. Once someone was throwing a bunch of those thick 10-ounce Coke bottles that you could get a dime back for each. In a single discover, I managed to get 25 to 30 bucks.

That was a lot of money back in 1982.

I spent a lot of time at the post library, and in particular I remember reading the official U.S. Army histories of World War II. Fascinating stuff. The Battle of the Bulge was always my favorite. But of course there were all the Jane's books and Aviation Week and Space Technology. And then there were those silly little cartoons on "preventive maintenance" (for nearly illiterate enlisted folks, no doubt) that I would only understand the I would only understand once I was enlisted myself. I don't know how many hours I spent at that old white building with decaying white paint, but I checked out a lot of books.

In 1988, back in Maryland again for my last year high school (fter a year at Ft. Leavenworth and two years in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, I enlisted (since he was an officer, my dad actually swore me in at the MEPS station not far from where I work now) in the Army Reserves and an Intelligence Analyst (98C) with the goal of joining a unit in Austin, Texas close to where I would be going to college at Texas A&M.

My original plan was to become a Linguist (98G) but a failed the DLAB so badly I went non-linguist route, just as my original plan was two go through ROTC and become an officer, but A&M Corps life was not for me. But I did end up making it to that CEWI Battalion that was attached to the 49th AD (TXNG) and stayed until after college, when I joined the USAR school in San Antonio and taught 98C (both 10 Level and BNCOC) to Reserve & National Guard troops in the summer's off, while a middle school teacher. In one class, I remember a bunch of Special Forces soldiers from Alabama and Mississippi. In 2001 I thought about them, wondering how many of them ended up going to Afghanistan during the final year of my enlistment.

While I'm not sure all of my military experience was so positive (I can remember a few times sleeping (hungover) with my head down next to a SPARC-5 in Camp Bullis, hoping the door code would wake me, or hiding out in the bed a 1.5 Ton Truck in the motor pool at Mabry to avoid "bullshit details"), one of the best lessons I learned from the Army was the AAR.

After you did a Warfighter or an RTEP, after you taught a block of instruction, after you did Annual Training -- there was a time where you conducted an "After Action Review" where (sometimes, unless the officers were gaming them) you 'fessed up what when right and what rent wrong. And why.

Too many times working in the private sector, I found AAR's (or something like them) don't get done. You slog through quarter after quarter wondering why you aren't making any progress.

* * *

Joining these various threads, David Ignatiaus has an an interesting article on the "lessons learned" that hopefully will show up in the history books:

But the Army learned from its mistakes. Rather than sulking about the Iraq mess, commanders made necessary changes. The Army developed a new doctrine for fighting a counterinsurgency; it learned how to work with Iraqi tribal leaders; it pursued al-Qaeda into every village of Iraq; it experimented with soft power, by working closely with Provincial Reconstruction Teams. "One could easily state that the U.S. Army essentially reinvented itself during this 18-month period," the historians write.

This study illustrates what's most admirable about the Army. It has maintained a tradition of intellectual rigor and self-criticism. That's nurtured in the Army's unique program of midcareer education. It's not an accident, but part of the Army tradition, that the current commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, took a doctorate in international relations at Princeton, or that the former Centcom commander, Gen. John Abizaid, had a stint as commandant of West Point. This tradition is exemplified, too, in the decision of Gen. George Casey, the current chief of staff, to publish this sometimes searing critique of his own service.

Politicians repeat, ad nauseum, philosopher George Santayana's maxim that "those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it." The U.S. Army is that rare institution in American life that is actually putting this precept into practice.

One Mean Little Linux Machine (and how lame is RHEL/CentOS)

I've been wanting to get one these Ultra Slim Form Factor Optiplexes for months, but I finally got my hands on one on Saturday in preparation for the upcoming classes I'll be teaching in a week. So I have a couple of these boxes 3.0 Ghz Core 2 Duos with 4 gigs. Not bad. Small (as you can see) and very quiet. Perfect for a classroom environment.

I would show a nice lshw output, but of course CentOS 5.2 is so lame you can't even pull it from the standard repos, but I guess I'll have to figure out this DAG bullshit. And I struggled for 2 hours yesterday getting the box usable in what would have taken me 10-15. And I'm still struggling.

This is because I work in RHEL/CentOS shop, and ITS laid down CentOS 5.2 for me. That's another thing I'm experiencing some "personal growth" in letting ITS do their job. Definitely a bit of an adjustment when you are used to owning the hardware, the OS, the apps, to let somebody else to the lower layer in the stack. Also much harder to hide in a small company, especially if your office is adjacent to the Director of IT.

It's much easier (and far more pleasant) to do the whole "shadow IT" in big companies, use personal equipment, break all the rules that I'm used to doing in big companies (usually because I was in a "security group" and the rules didn't really apply.) Oh well, what can you do.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Dancing 2008: Last Blog of the Night

How many of these exact places have you been?

Town Lake (the Stevie Ray Vaughn statue in Austin) and the Grant Park "jellybean" I remember the best. And most recently.

And the Vancouver, BC picture looks like so many places there. Perhaps the fountain in Auckland and I do remember seeing the Sydney Opera house but I don't remember making to that spot in Singapore in the 80s.

But nothing from KL or Moscow or anything from China that I could? Should have at least had the Temple of Heaven, Forbidden City, or the Great Wall.

Actually a Pretty Well Done McCain Ad

I've always been sort of anti-60s, so maybe that is why I like this ad. Not like it it well get my vote (and I'm not sure who it is targeting), but it's still pretty solid.

At least we were spared with the details of another randomness bug? For now.

So based on the Dark Reading article I'm not sure how scared I should be, but if in doubt I'll go with what Tom P says. He might not know how to keep his Volvo full of gas, but he knows everything else.

(Full disclosure: I was a few minutes away from walking along I-70 yesterday not knowing where the hell the nearest High's was)

But the world didn't end with CA-2001-09 or TA04-111 (the link to the original UNIRAS advisory was gone) so I doubt everything will come crashing down in the coming weeks, but we can only hope.

How many calls for DNSSEC or IPv6 or something tomorrow? And once again, this one of those bugs that its unclear if it is as old as the hills or something revolutionary. And whether it is a design flaw or an implementation bug. And if it is a design flaw in the protocol then why is everyone fixing their implementations? And you if you look at the affected vendors in the CERT advisory. Drum roll.... Doesn't look like the advisory is updated cause Debian already out. No status or FreeBSD or OpenBSD? MIA, again. Will the BSD's be affected?

But I'm glad I'm neck-deep (and nearly drowning) in hell-ish compliance standards for the near term so I don't have to worry about any of these hard questions!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Confusion? I'll show you confusion!

What year is it? What year did I first get involved in various control systems standards efforts. 2003 was it? Hell, I even co-chaired an SP-99 subcommittee. And in one (or probably a lot more than that) of the many quite entertaining CIAG Ops review how too many hours each week were "defining common terms so that everyone could work together."

That probably would have been 2004. And halfway through 2008, they are still at it

Three years ago, I helped establish the first International Standards Coordination Meting on Control Systems Cyber Security for DHS. As part if the effort, I was requested to give a presentation on definitions to demonstrate the lack of clarity and consistency and the need to more succinctly define terms for control system cyber security. I examined the terms "SCADA", "control systems", and "security" and compared the definitions in Wikepedia, Webopedia, AGA-12, NERC, ISA, IEEE, CIGRE, and CIDX. It was fascinating to see not only the lack of consistency, but
even more interesting was that some of these terms were not even defined. It seems like there is a need to resurrect this effort for the August Control System Cyber Security Conference.
Oh no, let's spend hundreds of more man hours on this obviously impossible-to-solve problem. And given the bill rate of a lot of the folks involved in this, think about what you could buy with the the time that has been spent in these groups trying to define terminology.

Give it up guys. Chalk one up for the bad guys.

Oh yeah, and another classic SCADASEC-L Apology. But at least this time, nobody got called an idiot (or a drug dealer) so they are making progress.

Dollar's to Doughnuts I bet it was some of the Canadian subscribers that complained, although quite honestly I found the "happy birthday America" post a bit sappy and out of place, but I've got bigger fish to fry.

Forget about Iron Chef, Go For Hells Kitchen

Instead of Iron Chef I think an angry arrogant British guy hurling insults at 20-something security researchers would be even more amusing: "You little fuzzer! Who do you think you are?!"

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Killing Your VxWorks Linksys WRT54Gv6

So I have a v6 which currently runs VxWorks, but I just found this page on how to install dd-wrt and OpenWrt on these Broadcom-based routers.

1. Download [] and extract.
2. Download [] and extract, OR create a custom firmware image with your MAC address embedded in it. See the 'Changing your MAC address' section below for more information.
3. Download [DD-WRT micro generic]. You may want to check [DD-WRT] to make sure there isn't a newer version than v23 SP2 beta 08/03/06. Do not use the one labelled 'WRT54G' or 'WRT54GS', use the 'generic' version.
4. If you don't know how to use (or don't have) a console mode TFTP tool (i.e. tftp.exe), download the [Linksys TFTP transfer tool].
5. You will want to assign your network adaptor a manual IP address, since you may loose your automatically configured one and have trouble TFTP'ing the firmware. To do this see the troubleshooting section or google it. It's done at the properties dialog of your network connection, in the 'Internet Protocol (TCP/IP)' properties.
6. Go to your router's web based interface and enter the 'Administration' tab. Then select 'Firmware Upgrade' and choose the vxworks_prep_v03.bin file. Hit apply. After a minute, your browser window will go blank. At this point, power cycle your router.
7. Again point your web browser to You'll see a different sort of firmware upgrade screen. This is the Management Mode. Select and apply the vxworks_killer_g_v06.bin firmware upgrade. WAIT for your browser window to turn to report 'Success'. Have troubles? Try a different web browser, the http daemon in management mode is very finicky.
8. Now unplug the power cord of your router, then plug it back in. The power LED should now be blinking.
9. Now you need to do a binary mode TFTP transfer of DD-WRT micro generic to your router. To do this you can use the Windows TFTP console mode utility, the Linksys TFTP Windows GUI utility, or some other TFTP client. You may have to disable your firewall if by some chance it is blocking outgoing connections on port 69. Many TFTP clients don't default to binary mode, so be sure to specify it (i.e. the -i switch with the Windows console mode TFTP utility).
o For Windows TFTP console mode utility (example, adjust accordingly):
+ tftp -i put dd-wrt.v23_micro_generic.bin
o For the GUI utility
+ simply enter your router's IP (, select dd-wrt.v23_micro_generic.bin, leave the password field blank, and initiate the transfer.

Do NOT reboot your router after TFTP'ing, this will happen automatically. It takes a couple minutes after the TFTP transfer finishes for the firmware to actually be flashed.

Skip to 'finalizing' below, or 'troubleshooting' if you've run into problems.

It looks like here are all the files

Blog Code Repo & Revised EVDO Scripts

Since pasting code snippets into the Blogger is a real pain and I've been rebuilding a lot of my personal systems lately (and forgetting to save config files) I created a code repo for various stuff I want to have managed under revision control. Last night I added the EVDO (and wvdial) scripts I've been use on my Linux gateway as it has gradually moved from backup comms. I finally migrated over to the Ubuntu Hardy based box I built a few months ago because it has the airprime drivers which allow you to exceed the 500Kbps cap.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Man on the Moon McCain Mashup

We went to the moon because it was hard? What they hell are they thinking with this ad. Gen Xers might remember Col Steve Austin, Tang, and SkyLab, but the whole "moon race" meme just doesn't do much for us.

But it made me think of this scene from A Clockwork Orange where a drunk old man (blathering about morals and respecting the old) get his ass kicked by Alex and his droogs.

Used/Refurb Computer Stores in MD?

One of the [many] cool things about living in Central Austin was being minutes from Discount Electronics but the closest thing I can find appears to be PCRetro any other ideas?

Netgear fumbles (and recovers?) with their Open Source Router

Although I'm no stranger to running custom firmware on Broadcom wireless routers but I've definitely been intrigued by the WGR614L, but there was an interesting forum thread on the challenges of distributing (and supporting) new products but at least they 'fessed up to it and appear to be taking action.

I am the Product Line Manager for Wireless Products at NETGEAR and I apologize.

Please do send me your contact information and I will send you a WGR614L version out immediately. There had been an issue with one of our distributors and a few V9 versions was shipped out by mistake. We have recalled, but I guess you were one of the unfortunate ones to get a V9.

I guess I'll hold off a little longer. And see if I can find the old Dell 2300 AP when the movers come this week.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

If you thought baiting BSD bigots was fun...

It is that kind of day, first I mess with BSD Bigots and then I run across the top 10 strangest terrorist patents and the great ad for retro bowling shirts.

New OpenBSD LiveCD

Looks like there is a new OpenBSD LiveCD distro called BSDanywhere. Having built both Linux and OpenBSD LiveCD's the latter is a definitely a pain in the ass, although it is possible.

Although I'm not sure *why* you would want to do it, because with the exception of PF there is no reason to actually use a BSD. But it would be cool if someone wrote a nice GNOME based installer for OpenBSD (like Ubuntu) just to piss off the zealots. Oh and throw in a 20th century package management system while you are at it.

(I did actually get dpkg working on OpenBSD 3.9 once, but never got to apt)

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

To Actually See the Sky Again!

Took the dog out one last time tonight and was surprised to actually see stars amidst the drone of traffic on I-70 and Maryland 75. Didn't I write about that in one of my first short stories, alluding to Robert Frost's lesser-known (and rather nihilistic, which somehow seems quaint approaching 40, although amazingly I got carded for a 6-pack of Shiner Hefeweizen tonight! ) poem, "Desert Places."
Snow falling and night falling fast, oh, fast
In a field I looked into going past,
And the ground almost covered smooth in snow,
But a few weeds and stubble showing last.

The woods around it have it--it is theirs.
All animals are smothered in their lairs.
I am too absent-spirited to count;
The loneliness includes me unawares.

And lonely as it is that loneliness
Will be more lonely ere it will be less--
A blanker whiteness of benighted snow
With no expression, nothing to express.

They cannot scare me with their empty spaces
Between stars--on stars where no human race is.
I have it in me so much nearer home
To scare myself with my own desert places.

Yes one more data point (as if all the white people didn't weren't enough) that we are actually back in "the country." Well, that and that the lack of the detergent-like smell that was so pervasive in Chicagoland. Like you were standing next to a dryer-vent. The air smelled like that.

Welcome Playbook!

In a past life, I had the pleasure of working with Max and some of the other Matasano folks (as a alpha/beta Playbook customer) so it is good to see it finally see the light of day!

If you know the pain^H^H^H^Hfun of managing rulesets on a large cross-platform firewall deployment, well you know why something like this is necessary.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Obama's Patriotism Speech (and the Call to Shop)

I need to be working on my slides and lab exercises for a course I'm going to be teaching later this month but text of Obama's patriotism speech is worth checking out.

Sadly, in recent years, in the midst of war on two fronts, this call to service never came. After 9/11, we were asked to shop. The wealthiest among us saw their tax obligations decline, even as the costs of war continued to mount. Rather than work together to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and thereby lessen our vulnerability to a volatile region, our energy policy remained unchanged, and our oil dependence only grew.
On Sunday, as I was wandering the newly-discovered Sprawl in East Frederick, near the intersection of I-270 and I-70 I was thinking about the last 20 years and what had changed (funny how you only notice the changes when you leave a place) and I was thinking about Bush's call to shop after 9/11 and the growth in buying power (and debt) and decline of savings that occurred in the 90s. That still continues.

As I was entering (and exiting, having not purchased anything) the Best Buy, I thought about 1987, when I moved to Frederick, or even when we lived north of Baltimore in the early 80s. There was no Best Buy. For electronics (in the age of Atari and Commodore) you went to Service Merchandise. Where have they gone? There was no Fry's. There was no huge Walmart full of amazing cheap stuff from China. When did Whole Foods come about. This is the gift of Clinton. The excesses of growth.

In 1999 we bought our first house in Crestview (that's in a hip part of Central Austin where prices are still skyrocketing and is no longer the last affordable place inside 183) on the first day we saw it, the downpayment coming from Trident stock options from the Veridian acquisition. From 1994 to 2004 my yearly compensation increased almost 6-fold (I started low, as a public school teacher in Texas and there were some good bonus/stock option years after the "100 year flood") but in 2008 what do we Americans have to show for this prosperity?

In this so-called recession, this "crisis," (as I drive down I-70 I year ads for Information Assurance programs and CDW-G security solutions spiels, there is no crisis in my line of work) I'm amazed the parking lots of the big box stores are still packed full. Is this one last binge? Forget about Reagan's line about 4 years, are we really better off than 10 years ago? 20? What is the cost? For some reason, it is not hard to imagine the big box parking lots of the suburbs like Route 85 in Frederick, 183 near Cedar Park, or 1604 in San Antonio like in the The Road (not Kerouac) emptied in 50 or 100 years. The pace of the beloved 90s (all those Clinton-lovers) is simply not sustainable. Your losses cancel out your gains. Everything catches up with you sometime.

Sullivan: Ruthless

While my wife seeths about the Clintons and Clark-gate (of course a Navy squadron commander doesn't buy you much -- I'd say you need to be at least at Division commander) here is money quotes:

But Obama's post-primary pivot to neutralize all the usual GOP attacks - and reintroduce himself to Middle America - has been more than usually pronounced. He can live with FISA telecom immunity; he's flexible on troop withdrawal from Iraq; he's happy with executing child rapists; he doesn't need public financing; he'll out-patriot the Right; he's touting his support for welfare reform; he'll expand Bush's faith-based programs; and he's okay with the Supreme Court's view of the Second Amendment. Oh, and he'll reduce taxes on the middle class, while hiking them for the rich or successful or whatever you'll let me call them.


It's been clear for a long time: A man who beat the Clintons is as ruthless as they are. Just smarter, and less susceptible to losing his grip on the core principles he still believes in.