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July 31, 2008

Tiny little homes

Living in a house that never has enough space has always had me daydreaming of adding a little cottage, studio, or "pool house" (minus the Kato).  I ran into the Tumbleweed homes a few years ago, that make these amazing little houses that are less than 100 square feet.  These tiny little houses can skirt many cities zoning regulations, as they are considered non-permanent structures since they are built on a trailer chassis. 

(Photo of Jay Shafer/Tumbleweed Home Courtesy of Telstar Logistics on Flickr)

Today I was reading an interesting article about a man named Tom Sepa, who lives in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco by a combination or choice and financial circumstances.  While the article was interesting, the comments led me to look up a design called the City Sleeper, which was designed by Donald MacDonald as a response to the homeless problem in the city.  This inexpensive structure which is built from 4x8 plywood sheets and other inexpensive building materials would be a wonderful structure to build out in the Sierra Foothills where you just needed a place to sleep and some protection from the elements.

 

(Photo and illustration courtesy of Donald MacDonald)

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July 28, 2008

Google maps will get you anywhere

It has been shown that Google maps will get you from any two places on the earth.  On the Stealcode blog, they have an interesting post on how to get from New York to Paris.  The best line is:

"23. Swim across the Atlantic Ocean 3,462 mi 29 days 0 hours"

 

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July 24, 2008

FTP to Jupiter, surfing on Mars.

Vint Cerf, one of the original designers of what we now call the Internet, has been working with NASA and some other contractors on technologies that would extend our network connectivity to the stars.  The DTN or Delay Tolerant Network design that they are working on would allow for the extreme network latency that would be incurred by radio transmissions between planets.

And you think the delay on Dial-up internet is bad...

 

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July 20, 2008

Cabling mishaps

For anyone that has been involved with telecom wiring projects knows that so many things can go wrong.  I'm just happy that I've never ended up with a project that ended up this bad...


 

July 19, 2008

This guy always makes me laugh

Every once in a while when I feel down, I'll go to my bookmarks and find the video of the creepy laughing German midget.  Call me strange, but it always makes me smile.


July 18, 2008

Reality TV

My wife and I watch a lot of TV.  When we introduced the Tivo into our lives in 2004 we started watching entire TV series instead of just channel surfing to see what is on at the time.  Over the past few years we have enjoyed the likes of Beauty and the Geek, The Age of Love, and (ashamed to admit it) Farmer Wants a Wife.  I know everyone else is into Big Brother and American Idol, but I could never relate.  Except William Hung, that guy is a class act.

Recently we have been enthawled in the drama that is Jon & Kate Plus 8.  We can barely get our pets to do anything we say and this couple has eight children.  They get mad props for not going totally insane.  I have no idea how these folks deal with the children, the film crew and a normal work schedule.  You can really see into their souls through this show.  I swear that Jon looks like a happy guy most of the time, but there are few moments where Jon looks like he would like to pull his car into oncoming traffic.  While this is not life and death like Ice Road Truckers, sometimes it looks so close to it. 

July 17, 2008

Downtown San Francisco, always amusing.

If you get the chance to visit downtown San Francisco, you never know what you are going to see.  While there are panhandlers and sometimes the sidewalks reek of urine, you also have some really interesting folks that completely make up for it.  One of those folks is Frank Chu.  I would put Frank up there with Emperor Norton in regards to the people who represent the wacky soul of the city.

Where else would you find someone protesting the injustices of the 12 Galaxies shaking hands with a man dressed as a pirate with fake buttocks attached to his shorts?  Nowhere else...

(Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk on Flickr)  

Open Source software for tracking stolen laptops

The Adenona project at the University of Washington provides an interesting software package.  The Adenona client allows a user to track the whereabouts of their laptop in a secure manner, but without spending money on a monthly service.  While you get what you pay for, one of the cool features is the ability to use Apple's iSight software to take a snapshot of the thief. 

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July 16, 2008

Freedom of speech is worth protecting

Unless you have been hiding under a rock for the last ten years, you have probably heard of Craig's List.  For some people it is a great place to find garage sales, for others they find apartments or jobs.  There are other parts of the site that are meant for adults, and will most likely find you catching a "social disease".  Beyond all this is the most amusing a maddening thing of all, the rants & raves section of Craig's List.  Here people write the most foul, disturbing and sometimes amazing content, all under the cloak of anonymity.  I'm a big fan of our Constitutional rights in the United States, but sometimes is can be saddening to see how people abuse our right of free speech with this kind of amazing content.

 

An example of the fine content available, with a search for the word "crap" returning 84 hits on postings in the last week.

 

 Out of those 84 hits, I picked one of the least offensive posts, one about a famous TV psychic.

If you weed out the racially, culturally, genderally, politically, and any other offensive "ally" word, you end up with some posts that are sometimes incredibly witty, insightful and amusing.  The best of these posts end up in what is called "The Best of Craig's List" where these can live on forever.

July 15, 2008

Countdown to owned

The Internet Storm Center at SANS recently did a study of the survival time of an un-patched, un-firewalled, and un-NATted Windows machine on the Internet.  It is no surprise that the time it takes to get completely owned is around 4 minutes.  Sort of amusing in a really sad way. 

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July 14, 2008

San Francisco Bay Area #1 Place for young professionals

While I'm not a big fan of rankings or top ten lists on the internet, when the area you live is rated #1, you have to love it.  Forbes ranked the San Francisco Bay Area as the #1 Place for Young Professionals.  All the nuts and bolts about how they ranked stuff is in the article.  Note to young people wanting to live here: It is expensive, bring your checkbook!

 

(Photo Credit: Dawn Endico from Flickr)

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  1. http://www.forbes.com/2008/07/09/cities-professionals-young-forbeslife-cx_mw_0709sanfrancisco.html

July 13, 2008

The iPhone can cure cancer and 100 other fables

I was at the local mall with my wife today to do my part in supporting our crumbling economy and ran into the line (or queue for all you folks across the pond) at the local Apple store.  Even on a Sunday in the suburban mall, there is a line 30 people deep to get an iPhone.   I was thinking back to 2007 when Maddox wrote an in depth analysis of his throughts on the iPhone.  18 months later, I think it still applies.

 

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July 12, 2008

Millennials

I was just reading an article in Government Technology about the so-called Generation 2.0 phenomenon of Milennials. (Article Here) The article pretty much breaks up into two sections, the first being about the security risks that are brought up by the computer savvy youth, and the second being the different work styles and habits of this generation. 

The first item begs the question: If your information is so confidential, why do you not have a stricter risk mitigation process in place already?  You can blame the 20-something guy that likes to frequent Facebook and MySpace for malware or data loss, or you can address these issues with policy and technology.  Educating the users as to what sites are appropriate for work, helping them understand your security policies and computer use policies can go a long way.  The issue is this: How many environments are running with close to zero security controls because it is "behind the firewall"?  Internal threats are more likely to cause data theft or loss than visiting a web popup, but unless you have the proper anti-virus/anti-spyware and access controls set on your network, you are skating on very thin ice.  Technology such as virtualization can allow users to be connected to several different networks from the same terminal, but without the data mingling between networks.  When the internet virtual machine gets infected with some trojan, just reload it and be on your way.  If you are concerned about employees using too much bandwidth for Youtube and other pipe cloggers, set bandwidth limitations at the firewall.

People are going to violate IT policy.  People will destroy your data out of spite.  People will steal your data for small sums of money.  Your job in the CXO position is to be flexible enough to understand how to leverage policy to fix some issues and technology to solve others.  In this day and age, people are afraid to fire people for blatant violations of company policy.  When an employee's behavior threatens day-to-day organizational operations, it has to be taken seriously.  I don't mean an environment of fear, but an environment where the employees know that their web usage can be monitored, so hey, try to do some work most of the time. Whether it is Milennials or the parents of Milennials that have gotten some great IT training at home, put into place policy and infrastructure that is blind to age, gender, race and all that good stuff.

As for the Millennial working style.  So they hop around from job to job...  I thought that was how Gen-X is characterized.  So they multitask...  if that is an efficient way of doing work, who are you to judge.  As the old saying goes, the proof is in the pudding, if this generation is willing to implement a new version of the American work ethic and be successful in their endeavors, huzzah!  If not, never fear, a whole generation of workers in China, Russia, India, and dozens of other countries with highly educated workforces will come and fill the gaps.  While I would hate to see a generation of unemployed folks that just don't like working, sooner or later they will realize that nobody REALLY likes working, then they'll figure out that you need money to do things, and then to get money you have to work.  And so the cycle of selling out to "The Man" continues.   

Don't be scared by the iPod, iPhones, skinny jeans or social networking.  The thing you should be worried about is the core business and the bottom line.  The working environment constantly evolves socially and technologically, sometimes with both happening at the same time.  

 

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July 10, 2008

The only insulted party here is the monkey.

The wonderful thing about free speech in America is that everyone has the right to share their opinion, however uninformed or silly it may be. I took a snapshot of this billboard coming back down Highway 5 in Oregon after visiting my parents up there. 

 

 

 

July 09, 2008

DNS Cache poisoning and a tool to check for it...

Recently an exploit called DNS Cache poisoning has put several internet Domain Name System servers at risk.  The risk is spread across multiple operating systems and multiple DNS implementation.  DoxPara Research has put together a web based tool (on their main site), which allows you to check your upstream DNS server for vulnerabilities.  I'm sure that patches will be coming soon from many vendors, but at least until then you can monitor your network traffic for suspicious behavior.  Below is an example from a machine at home:

 

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Make your own online comics

Are your kids home from school this summer and driving you crazy?  Are you a big geek that never grew up and would like to design your own comic strip?  The site BitStrips may solve both of these problems.  They have a free interactive based comic strip building site that allows you to author and publish your miniature works of art.  I created a non-funny example to show what can be done even if you are devoid of the ability to generate humorous content.

 

 

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July 08, 2008

If you don't understand, you are the other 10%

A former colleague of mine had a twist on the Pareto Principle (otherwise known as the 80/20 rule) which he called the "ten percenters".  In the IT world, I have found this (henceforth to be referenced as the TASH Principle) to be somewhat true, that 90% of your time is spent placating the most vocal 10% of the end user population.  The inverse to this is that work done the other 10% of the time to service the other 90% of the population will account for 100% of your progress towards any organizational recognition if effort.  This 10% of the end user population is the same group that causes people in help desk or desktop support IT jobs to go slowly insane.

 

The TASH Principle