Archive for the ‘Geek’ Category

Random notes: December 5, 2014.

Friday, December 5th, 2014

The 76ers, turning the fundamental belief system of sports on its head, do not mind losing. A lot.

However, they did screw up their chances of going 0-82. Philadelphia is now 1-17.

Anybody out there missing a pony?

Public service announcement: if you get an “order confirmation” email from someplace like Costco or Home Depot, and you didn’t place an online order, and the email doesn’t contain specific details about which store you should pick it up at, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DON’T CLICK ON THE LINKS!

I’m sure most of my readers are smart enough to figure this out on their own, but I wanted to mention it here for reasons.

I heartily endorse this event or product. (#12 in a series)

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

Spam Nation: The Inside Story of Organized Cybercrime-from Global Epidemic to Your Front Door, by Brian Krebs.

Blogger, with occasional Krebs.

Blogger, with occasional Krebs.

I actually haven’t read the book yet. (It is at the top of the pile.) But Krebs did a signing here in Austin last night, and he came across as a really nice affable guy. I didn’t get a chance to talk with him much: I’d estimate there were 150 people there for the signing, many of whom were purchasing multiple copies of the book, so time was limited. But he signed everyone’s book, and even posed for photos with those who wanted, and in general it was just a swell experience. Based on that, I have few qualms about recommending that you purchase the book.

TMQ Watch: November 4, 2014.

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

Authentic games. Voting. Space: not a frontier, at least for man. All this and more in this week’s TMQ, after the jump…


Headline of the day.

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

Unexpected Complexity in a Spider’s Tiny Brain

For more information on the crack spider’s bitch, contact the Canadian Wildlife Service in Ottawa.

TMQ Watch: October 21, 2014.

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Pete and Repeat walk into bar in this week’s TMQ, after the jump…


TMQ Watch: October 14, 2014.

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

Not really feeling it this week. Sorry. Let’s just get started and see where this goes. This week’s TMQ, after the jump…


Random notes: October 16, 2014.

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

Obit watch: Elizabeth Pena. The name may not ring a bell at first, but she was in John Sayles’ “Lone Star”, “La Bamba”, “Jacob’s Ladder”, and was the voice of Mirage in “The Incredibles”, among a whole bunch of other credits. And I have to give a shot-out to this bit of trivia:

She also starred in I Married Dora, a sitcom about a green card marriage between an architect and his El Salvadoran housekeeper that aired for 13 episodes in 1987. The show is remembered by fans of obscure and weird TV for the conclusion of its final episode, when the actors announced on camera that the story cliffhanger they’d been building toward had been “resolved” by the series’ cancellation.

(Video at the link.)

People who know me are aware that I’m kind of a map geek. The very small handful of people I’ve let into my apartment can attest to this; my decorating theme is “maps”.

So I think this is kind of cool, for obvious reasons: free downloadable USGS topographic maps.

TMQ Watch: September 23, 2014.

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

What does this have to do with this week’s TMQ? After the jump…


Instead of actual content…

Friday, September 12th, 2014

…I give you a very silly quiz from the WP:

Is this a line from ‘The Great Gatsby’ or a New York Times profile of Lena Dunham?

I have never seen an episode of “Girls” (since I refuse to have cable). However, I still got a perfect score on the quiz. Which says something: either about my knowledge of Gatsby or about how silly this quiz actually is, I do not know.

Oh, what the heck, I’ll throw this one in, too:

I sent this to Lawrence with the suggestion that it might be worse than Bello De Soto’s website: Lawrence doesn’t think so, and I’m still trying to make up my mind.

There are so many things that push it towards legendary badness for me: the chicken walking around on the live Twitter feed (why?), the auto-play Chinese karaoke (ditto?), the spinning chat avatars, gratuitous abuse of the blink tag…

On the other hand, it hasn’t actually crashed any browser I’ve tried it on so far. On the gripping hand, it is an actually up and (apparently) functional website, as opposed to an archive of one…

Only the finest in geek humor for my readers.

Friday, August 8th, 2014

This made me laugh so hard my cow orkers asked me what was so funny.

And the first response is just the icing on the cake.

DEFCON 22 updates: August 8, 2014.

Friday, August 8th, 2014

Wired has an article based on the “Weaponizing Your Pets: The War Kitteh and the Denial of Service Dog” presentation which will take place on Sunday. I didn’t write about this yesterday because (and with all due respect to the presenter) it just didn’t strike me as being very interesting. You attached a WiFi scanner to a cat and let it roam around the neighborhood? Not sure I see anything novel there, except maybe if you made the WiFi rig very small. (You could have done the same thing with Kismet on a Nokia N810 years ago. You still can, if you can find a Nokia N810, which isn’t that hard, and if you can figure out a way to secure it to your pet.)

In other news, here are the presentation links I’ve been able to find so far. I’ll try to update this post during the day. If you are a presenter who would like your talk listed (even if it wasn’t on my list) or if there’s a talk you’d like for me to find, please feel free to leave comments or send email to stainles [at]

That’s everything I’ve been able to find from yesterday. We’re only about 30 minutes into today’s sessions. And while looking for links, I ran across this tidbit: DEFCON ordered 14,000 badges this year. They were gone by 6 PM yesterday.

DEFCON 22: 0 day notes (part 2)

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

So what’s happening on Friday?

Domain Name Problems and Solutions” intrigues me the most in the first block, since a) it looks like this is going to involve DNS based attacks on spam, and II) Paul Vixie is one of the key figures in the development of DNS.

USB for all!” sounds like an interesting talk: “We will demonstrate different tools and methods that can be used to monitor and abuse USB for malicious purposes.”

I would have to go to “From root to SPECIAL: Pwning IBM Mainframes” just because I have a close friend (and former IBM-er) who speaks IBM mainframe. Plus, I’m curious. But “ShareEnum: We Wrapped Samba So You Don’t Have To” would be a good second choice: “ShareEnum uses the underlying Samba client libraries to list shares, permissions, and even recurse down file trees gathering information including what is stored in each directory.” And “Stolen Data Markets An Economic and Organizational Assessment” could be interesting as well. I’d probably still hit the IBM talk and seek out the slides for the other two.

More than likely I’d take a break at 13:00 and look at the slides for “Bypass firewalls, application white lists, secure remote desktops under 20 seconds” and “Investigating PowerShell Attacks” later. At 14:00, “What the Watchers See: Eavesdropping on Municipal Mesh Cameras for Giggles (or Pure Evil)“: “…we decode the previously undocumented mesh protocol enough to (1) “tune in” to live feeds from the various cameras positioned across the city, just like we were in police headquarters, and (2) inject arbitrary video into these streams.”

Am I Being Spied On? Low-tech Ways Of Detecting High-tech Surveillance” sounds like the best talk at 15:00. And after that, there’s nothing that really intrigues me on Friday.

Hack All The Things: 20 Devices in 45 Minutes” seems like the best opening panel on Saturday: if you don’t like what you’re seeing, just wait and something else will be along shortly. Plus free hardware!

There’s nothing that leaps out at me until “Secure Random by Default” at 13:00. Because Dan Kaminsky. “PropLANE: Kind of keeping the NSA from watching you pee” would be a good fallback if Kaminsky is too crowded: “…we’ve combined two things every good hacker should have, a Propeller powered DEF CON badge (DC XX in our case) and a somewhat sober brain to turn the DC badge (with some modifications) into an inline network encryption device.” (And hey: I have a DC 20 badge!)

“Secure Random” runs until 15:00, but if I couldn’t get into that, “NinjaTV – Increasing Your Smart TV’s IQ Without Bricking It” would be my second choice in the 14:00 block.

A Survey of Remote Automotive Attack Surfaces” is at 15:00. This is another Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek talk, and is already getting some press: I kind of want to see this, but, again, there’s a conflict with two other talks I’d also like to see: “VoIP Wars: Attack of the Cisco Phones” and “Detecting Bluetooth Surveillance Systems“. This is another case where I’d apologize profusely to Mr. Miller and Mr. Valasek, download a copy of their presentation, and hit one of the other two sessions.

Manna from Heaven: Improving the state of wireless rogue AP attacks” sounds interesting, especially with the promise of “a new rogue access point toolkit”. But I just can’t pass up the promise of “Learn how to control every room at a luxury hotel remotely“.

Attacking the Internet of Things using Time“, which is really about timing attacks, sounds more interesting than the title implies. And “Old Skewl Hacking: Porn Free!” sounds like a great way to wrap up the day.

I don’t know that there’s anything I care that much about Sunday morning, though “Burner Phone DDOS 2 dollars a day : 70 Calls a Minute” and “Optical Surgery; Implanting a DropCam” could be interesting if I was up at that time. “NSA Playset : GSM Sniffing” sounds a bit more interesting: “Introducing TWILIGHTVEGETABLE, our attempt to pull together the past decade of GSM attacks into a single, coherent toolset, and finally make real, practical, GSM sniffing to the masses.”

There’s a gap in stuff I want to see from 13:00 to 15:00. At 15:00, we have “Elevator Hacking – From the Pit to the Penthouse“. I confess to a great deal of curiosity about elevators and how they work. Plus: Deviant Ollam! And that takes us to the closing ceremonies at 16:30.

Tomorrow, I’ll start trying to put up links.