Showing posts from May, 2007

PGP Primer

I recently saw a posting in which the blogger answers a question about "how PGP works. " I have no real context for why the question was asked (there's a reference I didn't follow at the beginning) but I found the description of PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) a bit brief. So I'll give something more lengthy. Anyone who knows me knows that being verbose is *not* one of my gifts. However, I'll shoot for something between a brief one-line definition and a Wikipedia article . First, PGP's primary uses: Encrypting messages and files Digitally signing messages and files Encryption - Many people are familiar with a basic way to encrypt something on a computer. You put a password on it, and anyone who knows that password can read it. PGP is novel in that it uses a different paradigm. Rather than give you the specifics on how it works, I'll give you an illustration on how it functions: You have an unlimited number of safes (as in a safe you would put money or

Airport Security Part II: Anticipation is Making Me Wait

Over the last three years, I have probably had to go through an airport security screening line on average of once per business day. I've seen *many* things. While its popular to attack airport screening , and I suppose it's apropos considering some of the lameness we've seen from the TSA , I'd like to take a turn at defending it...a bit. I've read articles about people who have had all kinds of problems. Most of them involve the elderly, the young or the handicapped. I'm not making a judgment call, I'm just relating what *I've* seen and how I feel it probably extends to the world beyond me. My first observation is that the bulk of issues I see at the screening points surround people not being aware of the rules. Let's pick one simple rule that, from my experience, makes up way over half of the "issues" at the TSA checkpoints: liquids. Now, take a walk with me. We're going to start at the ticket counter at Denver International Airp

Know Thine Enemy

I know it's politically incorrect to generalize about a group of people. A small percentage of Mexicans enter this country illegally, and all Mexican-Americans feel the brunt of criticism. Similarly, when I was in college, if you were white and had a shaved head, you were probably a racist in most people's eyes even though I'd bet that "skinheads" were the minority of bald white men. At what point is something a problem? Recent census information shows about 41 million Hispanics in the US. With somewhere between 6 and 10 million illegal Hispanics in the country, that represents about 15% to 25% of Hispanics being here illegally (with the understanding that the percentage could be lower, as I have no numbers on how well the illegal aliens were counted in the census numbers, and therefore may add to the 41 million, instead of being a part of it.) If I were Hispanic (which I am) and I knew that some double-digit percentage of "my bros" were illegals,

Lenox Financial

Okay, you've heard the annoying commercials on the radio with the tagline "the biggest no brainer in the history of Earth." When it came time for me to refi (a few years ago), I decided to give them a shot, skeptical though I was. They did everything as advertised, to my great surprise! Why am I putting this in my blog? Because when I was researching them, I couldn't find anything about them. I couldn't find anyone who had blogged or posted or anything about them. So here you are, I used them and am happy. On an interesting side note, a local company ran a *brief* counter-ad which had the line "don't be fooled by no fee gimmicks..." That ad didn't stick around long, presumably because people are learning that they aren't "gimmicks". Well, at least mine didn't appear to be!

The Countdown to Copycats

Let's review the situation With 105,000 + K-12 schools in the United States, I'll venture to say that we see at least one copycat by the end of this school year. By copycat, I'm saying that some student somewhere will claim to see a few suspicious people with the hopes of shutting down school for a day. Whereas a bomb threat is a felony, and most students know it's a _big_deal_, others might not realize that such a claim as a suspicious intruder can still land them in a comparable world of ...badness.

It's Not What You Know...

Well, actually it is. "What you know" is critical here, because this is a security post. "Whom you know" (who? whom?) if *far* more important on the religious side of my blogging :-) Information Technology (IT) is a fascinating industry. As people jockey for position, I now see and older generation of IT people (35+ years old) and the young upstarts go head-to-head on issues. The "oldsters" say that they have all the experience, and the youngsters say that anything they learned in IT over 5 years ago is of little or no value. While I agree that the fact that I remember how to low-level format an MFM drive from the machine language monitor (debug;g=c800:5 or g=cc00:5) is of absolutely no value today, the same cannot be said for security knowledge. I was reading a random article I picked up from my daily trip to Infosyssec ( ) which posed an excellent question: "What basic security knowledge should be expected from security profes

Idea Explorer: Security

In his blog, Brad Jarvis identifies six of the approaches to maintaining effective security. These approaches are not IT-centric, but rather are for personal and civic security. They are: Offense Defense Containment Alliance Assimilation and Retreat. Specific descriptions may be found at this link: Idea Explorer: Security. I tend to look for "universal truths" as often as I can. In this pursuit, I looked at Bradley's list and attempted to put it towards IT (Information Technology) security. Truly, all of these approaches may be seen, even " alliance " and " assimilation ", in the IT world. While I was going to spend some time expounding upon the parallels, I became enamored with one in particular: offense. Offense, as Bradley identifies it, involves "attacking (destroying) someone perceived as a threat". I have worked in numerous computing cultures, from WFO (Wide Friggin Open) to military and financial uber-controlled. I currently wor

Mitt Romney is the Antichrist

...and I shouldn't use hyperbole in a blog post title. In a previous post, Dishonesty in Religion , I talk about my concerns with having a Mormon as the President. I few comments on the blog and a few discussions with friends have helped me to amend this position. I would have a problem with Mitt Romney as President. First, let me give you some of my assumptions: -Most things a politician says, s/he says with an agenda in mind. -Most politicians are interested in garnering as much of the vote as possible My problem is that when Mitt presents himself to Christians , he tries to present himself as one of them (see Dishonesty in Religion for why this is a problem). I believe, however, that he is not only being dishonest in how he presents his beliefs to Christians, but I believe he is subtly reaching out to other demographics in dishonest ways. When asked what his favorite novel was, Mitt stated that it was Battlefield Earth , a sci-fi novel by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.