Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Murphy's Law, Babylonian edition

Everything you know about Ty Cobb is wrong

It seems that he was a nice guy.  Man, did he get bad press.  The article explains why.

Hat tip: Chris Lynch.

Back to Ordinary Time

I've been off the grid for the last week or so. Mrs. ASM, two of our surviving sons, and I took Mike's ashes up to where he used to live for a send-off. His friends held a campfire, told some of the stories, and then the next morning we met at the Green River in Tuxedo, N.C.

A song, a poem, a beer poured in the river, each one of us lost in our own thoughts. We each put a handful of ashes in the water, and then I gave the bulk of them to his friends. They are in the yellow dry bag in this picture.

His friends took them on one last paddle and let them go in the rapids and waterfalls he loved.

Now we are home and it is back to ordinary time.

Be careful using an ATM

"Skimming" devices can steal your account information and PIN:
In a series of recent alerts, the FICO Card Alert Service warned of large and sudden spikes in ATM skimming attacks. On April 8, FICO noted that its fraud-tracking service recorded a 546 percent increase in ATM skimming attacks from 2014 to 2015.
“The number of ATM compromises in 2015 was the highest ever recorded by the FICO Card Alert Service, which monitors hundreds of thousands of ATMs in the US,” the company said. “Criminal activity was highest at non-bank ATMs, such as those in convenience stores, where 10 times as many machines were compromised as in 2014.”
A skimmer is a tiny device that thieves insert into the card reader.  It captures the information off of your ATM card before passing it to the actually ATM hardware.  A hidden video camera records your PIN.  The thieves then make a new card and empty your bank account.

The biggest risk is at non-bank ATM machines:
Some financial institutions are taking dramatic steps to head off skimming activity. Trailhead Credit Union in Portland, Ore., for example, has posted a notice to customers atop its Web site, stating:
“ALERT: Until further notice, we have turned off ATM capabilities at all 7-11 ATMs due to recent fraudulent activity. Please use our ATM locator for other locations. We are sorry for the inconvenience.”
My recommendation is to get your cash at your bank's ATM.  If you want to be extra secure, use the ATM in their lobby - it is very difficult for someone to install a skimmer there because of the surveillance.

Boy, Hillary sure hates free speech, doesn't she?

At least if someone says something she doesn't like.

Say what you will about The Donald, he doesn't care what you say about him.  Or can stick up for himself, which may be saying the same thing.

Shamelessly stolen from Chris Lynch, who you do read every day.  Right?

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Who knew that dieting was so easy?

Remember, you can do it!

"Climate Change" is boring

I find the climate debate increasingly boring.  I don't think the arguments going on today are really much different than those that were going on five years ago.
Some of all y'all still email me the latest stupidity du jour on the whole debate, but I just haven't been feeling it for two or three years.  It's all been said, and said again, and again.  Nobody (on the left) is actually listening, and nobody actually cares about the actual, you know, science.

And so I don't post much about it.  I've kind of said what I want to say.

But Coyote has been doing a great series on the actual science.  What looks to be the last of the post (with links to the others) is here.  If you want to be in the know, bookmark that link.

Trumpy McTrumpyface

Someone had to say it ...

I'm also just following along at home for amusement: the whole thing looks like the optimates vs. the populares, not the Founding Fathers.  I will likely vote because the Queen Of The World is more filled with civic spirit than I, but it may be another vote for Gary ("Who?") Johnson.  It would be kind of cool if John McAfee became the Libertarian Party candidate - we could use a platform of hookers and cocaine.

But looking at the yelling about The Donald, I'm struck by his support from the working class.  The best I can figure is that while he's a rich guy, he's the only one who's pushing Poor People's Leftism.  That link is worth a read.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Note to self

Be more careful when introducing different food to Wolfgang.  Explosive diarrhea every 2 hours for a day makes for an exciting day (and night).

Dear self: don't do that again.

Off to the vet.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Why is there so much credit card fraud, part 2

Stores can't upgrade to newer, safer equipment because it hasn't been certified.  The banks own the certification companies, and there's no incentive to hurry certification because the stores are (since October 2015) 100% liable for all fraud.
Avi Kaner, a co-owner of the Morton Williams supermarket chain in New York, has spent about $700,000 to update the payment terminals at his stores.
Trouble is, he cannot turn them on.
The new terminals can accept credit and debit cards with embedded digital chips, a security feature intended to reduce the number of fraudulent purchases.
But before the payment systems can work, they must be certified, a process that Mr. Kaner and many retailers around the country are waiting to happen. In the case of Morton Williams, the holdup has lasted several months.
The cost of waiting, retailers say, is piling up.
And so the stores are suing:
Payment processors “don’t have any incentive to hurry the certification along,” said Patrick J. Coughlin, a lawyer for retailers in a recent lawsuit that accuses the major card networks of deliberately creating impossible requirements for merchants. “They’re not the ones paying the fraud charges.”
The whole thing is a mess.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Why is there so much credit card fraud?

Because implementing the new security technologies can cost a lot more than the fraud loss.  From the comments at Brian Kreb's blog:
I can tell you first hand why so many retailers haven’t implemented EMV: cost. We did the analysis, and our fraud per year number is way below the implementation costs – and I mean WAY below. So our position has been not to spend the money to implement EMV, and eat the fraud costs because of it, as that is a much smaller number. For other retailers that is going to be a different cost benefit analysis, but if you don’t sell reloadable gift cards (or implement a policy like this one to not allow buying with a CC), and you don’t sell high dollar items that are easy to flip for cash, it isn’t worth the cost.
The implementation costs for EMV, much like E2E encryption, are ridiculous. You have a recurring licensing fee from the manufacturer of the PIN pad devices for each device, and that is IF you already have hardware to support EMV, which for many retailers isn’t the case. Or you have older hardware that does support EMV, but the hardware is already maxed out and you would have to remove 1 feature from the hardware just to accommodate EMV. If a retailer has to replace the hardware, you are talking about anywhere from $200-$1000 per lane per store in hardware alone, not counting the costs to send out someone to replace them all. Even if you have all the hardware in-place, and can eat the EMV feature license cost, you still have to spend the money with your POS integration partner to do all the POS software work to even handle EMV, since the transaction occurs in a different way, and completely different data is sent to and from the POS. As is the case anytime you are working with a vendor on software customization, the integration costs are nothing to sneeze at.
If you think not in terms of security, but rather in terms of managing risk, this makes perfect sense.  It doesn't make sense to pay $100 to stop $20 of fraud.  Now what this particular store does is different than what other stores do, but this is the right way to look at the problem.

Apparently, you can't fix that with Duct Tape

The public wants privacy

How do we know?  Congress knows:
In a rare display of bipartisanship the US House of Representatives has passed the Email Privacy Act(EPA) in a 419-0 vote. 
The legislation updates the antiquated 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) and closes an important privacy loophole. Under ECPA the police could examine any email that had been read or that was more than 180 days old with only a subpoena, whereas under the EPA they would need a warrant obtained from a judge.
Is this a fig leaf?  Probably.  Will this change much?  Unlikely.

But Congress knows that people are unhappy with police snooping.  They know it to the degree that not a single vote was cast against this.

What hath NSA wrought ...

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

I could go with this


Lego wars

Get ready to rumble!
A Lego-mad fisherman spent three years building the world's biggest model of a US warship - only to find an American rival had beaten him by inches. Jim McDonough painstakingly built a 24ft scale model of the 890ft USS Missouri with thousands of toy bricks in Redford, near Arbroath in Angus. When he embarked on the model in his garage three years ago, his research told him it was going to be the biggest Lego ship in the world. 
Here's a picture of Our Hero with his creation:

Alas, it was not to be:
But it seems his effort was in vain - after he was been pipped at the post by Minneapolis-based enthusiast Dan Siskind, whose creation is 25.5ft long.
Mr Siskind used more than one million Lego bricks to recreate the 1:35 scale of the USS Missouri.
Here's the undisputed world champion Lego battleship:

Pretty cool, in a scary sort of way.

Unhappy spy chief is unhappy

THE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE on Monday blamed NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden for advancing the development of user-friendly, widely available strong encryption.
“As a result of the Snowden revelations, the onset of commercial encryption has accelerated by seven years,” James Clapper said during a breakfast for journalists hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.
I've been saying for quite some time that the grotesquely promiscuous spying by the Intelligence Community - spying aimed at the innocent civilian population - is having a big, negative impact on the commercial Internet security industry.

And why hasn't General Clapper been imprisoned for perjury to Congress?

The NSA has really messed this up, and that toothpaste isn't going back into the tube.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Thanks, just water for me ...

Your team's odds of winning the World Series

Interesting on-going analysis at  They update it after each game.

The Braves look awful, but you don't need 50,000 simulations to tell you that.  The Red Sox look better than I would give them - their starting rotation has a bunch of question marks.

Update of the Queen Of The World

The crazy strong antibiotics seem to be doing some good, although the pneumonia will take some time to kick.  She wanted me to thank all y'all that left best wishes.