1. Situation report from Austin, Texas.

    29 November 2007

    Things have finally slowed down somewhat in Austin, affording me the opportunity to write a long-overdue update. Workdays have been long (averaging thirteen hours out of every twenty-four), which is why I've been quiet lately.

    From what I've seen of Austin, it's a pretty nice place. I"m situated a stone's throw from the airport, and within visual distance of the highway system, which has been both relaxing (coming from an urban background) and a pleasant change of pace from the places that I'm usually put up by my employers.

    Two nights ago Tiffany (co-worker and fellow foot soldier fighting …

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  2. *groan* *wheeze* *hiss* *wheeze* *bworrrrrrp.... THUD!*

    26 November 2007

    Short, sweet, and to the point because I"ve been out of touch for somewhere in the neighborhood of a week now. Also because I'm tired, jetlagged, and fighting back a nasty headache that seems to want to reduce my forebrain to a 386.

    Last Wednesday night, Lyssa and I drove back to Pennsylvania to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with her family. We spent part of Friday with my folks after several misadventures in trying to find an open bank in the North Hills on Black Friday. We parted company briefly on Saturday, and I traveled back to PIttsburgh to …

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  3. Caller ID-spoofing 911 callers busted!

    16 November 2007

    Late in October of 2007, a story hit the news wires about people getting raided by local SWAT teams because someone had called up the local 911 services and claimed that gang wars had broken out, heavily armed people on drugs had killed their families, and stuff like that. Some pretty bad things went down as a result, and as one would expect law enforcement doesn't take kindly to anyone monkeying around with their communications networks, especially when lots of heavily armed cops wearing body armor are called out as a result. A subsequent investigation revealed that a group of …

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  4. Serious vulnerability found in elliptic curve PRNG - cryptographers freak out.

    16 November 2007

    A major component of cryptographic systems are pseudorandom number generators used to pull values out of thin air for the purposes of generating session keys and the bignum components of crypto keys, among other things. This is done so that an eavesdropping attacker can't predict ahead of time what a particular key is going to be and decrypt traffic as it's transmitted. Another reason is that it's easier to generate a pseudorandom number and check it for certain properties all at once than it is to work up such a number by hand and check it against those properties every …

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  5. Grassroots mycoremediation in the Bay area.

    16 November 2007

    If you've been watching the news these past few days, you've probably come across the bruhaha over a fuel tanker crashing into the San Francisco Bay Bridge, dumping tens of thousands of gallons of petrochemical fuel into the water and forcing a number of beaches to close, to say nothing of the impact upon the environment. San Francisco, long a haven for the unconventional, unusual, and inventive, has birthed an unusual and effective method for cleaning up and disposing of the spilled fuel: Pads made of human hair and oyster mushroom mycelia. The principle underlying the effort is a simple …

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  6. White House staff ordered to follow national archival law.

    16 November 2007

    The Bush regime has been notorious from the beginning for violating a basic federal law, the Presidential Records Act of 1978 (44 USC 2201-2207), which states that all presidential correspondence and communications must be permanently archived. Bush is interesting in that he is the first president to outright ignore e-mail from his constituents, which caused a minor scandal until American Idol hit the airwaves back in the early years of this decade. At any rate, this matter keeps popping up like a bad penny, most notably White House staff members using GOP e-mail servers to avoid the archival of their …

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  7. Military develops firewall appliance for battlefield networks.

    14 November 2007

    Following battlefield tales that Hezbollah had compromised the IDF communications network during operations in Lebanon last year, defense contractors have developed Meshnet, a hardware and software firewall appliance to protect the data networks of battlefield equipment, on the chance that someone would figure out how to infect them with malicious agents of some sort in the near future. Meshnet is supposedly based upon the Sidewinder Security Appliance from Secure Computing, but includes specialized hardware that deals with the network protocols and connection gear used in the control systems of tanks, armored personnel carriers, or what have you along with anti-spyware …

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  8. Practical HERF: No longer an urban legend?

    14 November 2007

    For years, HERF weapons (high energy radio frequency) have been the stuff of science fiction and urban legends of the hacker underground. The underlying premise is simple: Integrated circuitry is vulnerable to various forms of radio frequency emissions, and such interference can either disrupt the functioning of or outright destroy circuitry. In theory, these weapons are relatively easy to construct with a decent grasp of electronics and high voltage electrical engineering with readily available parts, but actual examples of such are rarely verified. Personally, I've heard some tales coming out of a certain hacker con in the west (which was …

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  9. I would've written something but there was this duck...

    13 November 2007

    The past two weekends have been more or less non-stop running around so I haven't been writing about them lately. To make a long story short, Lyssa and I are fixing up the apartment a bit more and so are doing quite a bit of reorganizing. This weekend just passed we bought a new dresser from Ikea which wound up being an all weekend job of assembly. Last night we had to run back out there (and made it from Virginia to Maryland in record time on the beltway let me tell you, though most of it was due to …

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