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Archive for the ‘geekiness’ Category

So, the new “Doctor” in Doctor Who is a woman. Which, given that nobody knows what the gender of a Gallifreyan is anyhow, means fuck all. Yet the delicate white male broflakes are having a mass meltdown over it anyhow. Which is a “what the *fuck* is the matter with you?!” moment for anybody with half a brain. Which obviously isn’t the privileged white broflakes who are whining that their Doctor has an inny rather than an outy. Sheesh. Dumbfucks.

– Badtux the WTF Penguin

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Yes they are. They track you via the helpful gnomes at AT&T and Verizon, who know what tower your cell phone last pinged and what GPS location it reported at that time (all modern cell phones are required to have a GPS chip embedded in them that reports “911 information”, which just *coincidentally* is also tracked by the cell phone providers).

But one thing they are *NOT* tracking you by is the the latest paranoid conspiracy theory — the notion of Security Enhanced Android as NSA spy code.

The NSA-written code has been thoroughly vetted and does exactly what it is supposed to do — it adds fine-grained security structures to Android so that virus programs cannot easily break out of their “sandbox” and compromise the rest of the operating system. We’ve been using a previous NSA contribution to Linux that does exactly the same thing, SELinux, for years.

Non-techies seem to think you can just submit code to Linux and it just automatically gets accepted. Not true. Code gets submitted to a subsystem maintainer — in this case, it would have been the security subsystem maintainer, James Morris, who is in Sydney, Australia and is currently being sponsored by Oracle Corporation. The subsystem maintainer thoroughly vets the code to make sure that a) he understands what it does completely and thoroughly, b) that it complies with all of his standards for readability and reliability, and c) what it does is actually useful for more than the person doing the submission. If it doesn’t meet those criteria, he sends it back with questions, suggestions, or simply says “sorry, we don’t want that code.” Once code arrives that is well documented, understandable, and adds functionality that is desirable, it is then posted to the Linux security mailing list for *other* people to vet. The people on that mailing list are some of the brightest people in the industry and are located in countries all over the world, I’ve worked with a number of them over the years and there are some righteous dudes on that list. They tear the code apart looking for things that could allow compromising Linux and verify that it does what it says it’s supposed to do.

Then, and only then, after it’s gotten some positive thumbs ups on the security mailing list, is it submitted to Linus Torvalds for inclusion in the Linux kernel. Linus Torvalds is not a person who suffers fools or government interference lightly. Really. He’s a total opinionated asshole. Which is why he is a software engineering god. If he thinks the code is good, it’s good. For SELinux we looked at that code and decided it added sufficient security enhancements to Linux that it was worth rolling into the mainstream Linux kernel. Which is no easy task, not with Linus Torvalds up there looking for a reason, any reason, to reject additional functionality for Linux. (He has to do that, otherwise the kernel would bloat to the size of Microsoft Windows). Every single line had to be proved necessary, and every single line had to be proved to do what it said it was doing. That’s just how things work in Linux.

In short: The NSA has not inserted spy code into Linux. Period. Too many very smart people have vetted this code for that to happen. The very fact that the code came from the NSA was reason enough for people to go through it with more than a fine tooth comb — we went through that code with a friggin’ *microscope* looking for issues. There’s no “there” there — it does what it’s supposed to do (provide fine grained security controls), and no more.

So why is the NSA submitting code for inclusion with Linux? The deal is that the NSA has *two* charters. The first charter is to spy on other nations (and now, it appears, on Americans — sigh!). The *second* charter, the second group with the NSA, is the group that created Security Enhanced Linux and Security Enhanced Android. This group’s charter is to keep *other* nations from spying on the USA. I have spent a large amount of time over the past fifteen years interacting with this second group of people within the NSA, since I was loosely associated with the “cipherpunks” who defeated the Clinton administration’s proposal to put spy chips into every electronic device (the so-called “Clipper Chip”, which we proved could be broken by foreign powers — and furthermore, we proved that *any* such algorithm placed into end-user devices that had a “phone home” capabilities like that could be broken by foreign powers). They are what they say they are — a bunch of security geeks whose sole goal is to secure America’s computers against being spied upon by foreign powers.

The reality is that the NSA doesn’t need to insert code into Android to spy on you. All they have to do is ask Verizon or AT&T to give them the data as it arrives at the towers. In the end, the notion that the NSA is inserting spy code into Linux and Android is just a paranoid fantasy by technological ignoramuses who have not a single clue as to how this “Open Source” stuff works. The chances of the NSA managing to slip spy code past some of the brightest minds in the industry, minds that are in many cases far beyond the reach of the NSA’s spy apparatus, are somewhere between zero, and none.

– Badtux the Geeky Penguin

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Woke up this morning and it was 60F inside my duplex. Heat is off because the furnace guzzles gas the way a Republican CEO guzzles government bailouts. But I was nice and toasty due to a) electric blanket, and b) fur-bearin’ varmint cuddled up against me. Yay TMF!

Just about have the new computer set up and going, this is being typed on it while the Macbook finishes backing up to a hard drive so it can go back to the Geniuses for repair.

One of the most baffling videos around is “Gangnam Style”, a K-pop video that has somehow gone viral due to its pure cheese factor. Well, now we have the American answer to that:

Heh.

– Badtux the Easily Amused Penguin

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Tired gardener

Spent most of the day doing major cleanup in the yard, had to clear the underbrush away from the sprinklers and remove the buildup of dead ferns and prune or tie the fuchsia a bit here and there and weed-whack here and there with my widdle electwic weed whacker.

So foo. Anyhow, here’s my computer screen this morning. The Macbook is in lozenge mode (that silvery thing over to the right). The big server that runs Windows 7 and Centos 6.2 (in a VirtualBox VM, it handles the RAID arrays because Linux is the universal solvent of networks, capable of providing filesystems to both Windows and Mac systems in their native protocols) is that big black box below it. That’s a 25″ monitor. The keyboard is an Apple Bluetooth wireless keyboard, and the trackpad beside it is an Apple MagicPad multi-touch thingy that I like because it lets me go swipe-swipe-swipe and do all sorts of things depending on how many fingers and what direction I’m swiping (and the whole trackpad is a button — it has two little feet that also serve as buttons below it). Atop the sound system on the shelf above the desk are the keyboard and mouse for the big server, I usually RDP in from the Macbook using Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Connection client for MacOS (I have the Linux VM set to start up in the background so I RDP to it too). To the right, out of picture, is the big HP printer-scanner-copier that I barely use nowadays.

Just feeling geeky. Something to do while tired, heh.

— Badtux the Tired Garden Penguin(*)

(*) Not to be confused with a garden gnome, penguins are much more handsome!

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A few more notes

1) Outlook is a great calendaring program, it’s a great program for managing your contacts list, it’s a wonderful TODO list program. But only Microsoft could produce an email program that, well, sucks at actual email. My employer uses a proxied Exchange server and every damned time I fire up Outlook, the damned thing prompts me for my email password, despite the fact that I told it to remember the password last time I fired up Outlook!. Apple Mail doesn’t do that, despite the fact that it’s using Microsoft’s code to talk to Exchange (Apple licensed the code to do so from Microsoft). It properly remembers my password. So anyhow, the *other* issue I’m having with Outlook is that occasionally it just decides to not update my message counts. I look at ‘Favorites’, where I’ve dragged the Inbox of all my email accounts, and it shows no emails. Then I click on, say, the badtux Inbox, and suddenly it shows I have two emails — that arrived an hour ago but I never got any sort of notification!

So anyhow, Thunderbird isn’t an adequate substitute because our Exchange server doesn’t export LDAP for the contacts list, and like most high tech employers, the names of many of our employees (first.last convention for email names) are unspellable by native English speakers. Grrr!

2) I have a *fine* string of music waiting for you this week, mostly folks who’ve never been on this blog before, and most of’em are good. So y’all come back now, y’hear?

— Badtux the Random Penguin

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This is fucking hilarious

From a thread on a review of an iPhone ad (seriously! Yes, a review of an AD!):


by Grigsby_51 March 17, 2011 6:50 AM PDT
 How about, “If you don’t have an iPhone you might have a normal sex life”

by AdonisLUV March 17, 2011 7:00 AM PDT
 Only if you consider abstinence a normal sex life.

by make_or_break March 17, 2011 7:09 AM PDT
 “Only if you consider abstinence a normal sex life…”

 So tell us AdonisLUV…what other love devices besides the iPhone do you need
 to get it on? Oh wait…never mind…we don’t need to know, or even want to
guess. Definitely that would be too much information…

by OniOokamiAlfador March 17, 2011 7:29 AM PDT
  How about, “If you don’t have an iPhone you might have a normal sex life”

  -or-

  Only if you consider abstinence a normal sex life.

 ——

 I’m trying really hard to figure out which of these comments is more
 ridiculous. If having a certain phone affects your sex life one way or

 another, you have way more serious issues than that, on a deeply personal
 level.

Heh. Yeah. Exactly.

— Badtux the Easily Amused Penguin

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World disappears into massive black hole. News at 5.

— Badtux the Snarky Science Penguin

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