Sledgehammer's Cycles

Sledgehammer's Cycles
Sledgehammer's Performance and Custom Cycles

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Deal alert: Lenovo laptop $199

This is a today-only special from Tiger Direct:

Lenovo B50-45 15.6" Notebook - 59441913 Product Details

Lenovo B50-45 15.6" Notebook
The Lenovo B50-45 15.6" Notebook is crafted with the finest features and powerful technology that deliver excellent computing experience. It boasts a powerful AMD E1-6010 1.35 GHz Dual-Core Processor which gives you a brilliant multitasking performance. This PC runs in Windows 8.1 64-Bit that provides greater security and improved power efficiency, giving you quick access to applications. Plus, get more space for games, HD movies and demos as it comes with a 320GB Hard Disk Drive. Also, its 4GB DDR3L gives you outstanding speed, which enables you to control your applications with ease. Hurry! Get your Lenovo B50-45 15.6" Notebook today!
What It Is And Why You Need It:
  • AMD E1-6010 1.35 GHz Dual-Core Processor; gives you a brilliant multitasking performance
  • Windows 8.1 64-Bit; provides greater security and improved power efficiency
  • 320GB Hard Disk Drive; gives you more space for games, HD movies and demos
  • 4GB DDR3L; provides outstanding speed to control your applications
This seems pretty good if you're looking for a laptop.  I've gotten a number of items from Tiger Direct in the past (including the Camp Borepatch central mainframe) and have been pretty satisfied with them.

Adam Falckenhagen - Fugue in A major

Image von der Wik
We sometimes hear classical guitar, which has survived in modern times mostly via Spain.  Guitar is actually a fairly modern instrument; in ancient times the harp was dominant but by the Renaissance the Lute had taken pride of place.

Since #2 Son and I go to the Renaissance Faire today, lute music seemed somehow appropriate.

Of course, this isn't from the Renaissance, but rather from the Baroque age.  Adam Falkenhagen was a German composer who was considered the master of the lute - so much so in fact that he was made the court lutenist by the sister of Frederick the Great.  Falkenhagen had studied under Johann Sebastian Bach, and this piece is a pretty standard baroque fugue.  Not at all renaissance.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Way It Was

A 1960s Marine Corps film on marksmanship utilizing the M-14. If you want to be a better long distance shot, nothing about this video is outdated except the film techniques.

Vassar Clements - Lonesome Fiddle Blues

You've heard this tune - Charlie Daniels took it and used it in "The Devil Went Down To Georgia".  If you need to steal a fiddle tune you probably would look to Vassar Clements, the five time Grammy winner who has played with just about everyone: Earl Scruggs, The Grateful Dead, Jimmy Buffett, and Paul McCartney.  Along the way he had worked as a plumber at Kennedy Space Center near his native Kissimmee, and keen eyed readers will recognize him from his appearances with Earl Scruggs on The Beverly Hillbillies.  Happy birthday, Vassar!

And the band played "Waltzing Matilda"

100 years ago, lads from Australia and New Zealand hit the beach at ANZAC Cove, Gallipoli.

It was an ambitious plan put forward by Winston Churchill to take Istambul, the capital city of Turkey, and knock that country out of the war (also restoring a route through the Black Sea for resupplying Russia).  It failed spectacularly, quickly bogging down into the miserable trench warfare that defined most of the Great War.  Eight months and 400,000 casualties later, the forces were withdrawn.

The event was traumatic at the time, and was instrumental in the emergence of a distinct Australian and New Zealand spirit.  April 25 has been celebrated as ANZAC Day ever since.  The pride in how the Lads from Down Under held up under impossible conditions was - and remains - a source of pride.

But the remembrance is bitter sweet.  The impossible conditions were precisely that.  The fine musical tradition of the Antipodes has captured that as well.

Happy ANZAC Day to our readers from Australia and New Zealand.  We will hoist a frosty one to the ghosts marching by the billabong.

We interrupt this blog for an important announcement

Brigid's second book is out, and available at Amazon:
From the Author of the Amazon #1 Best Seller The Book of Barkley - Love and Life Through the Eyes of a Labrador Retriever - a story of family, redemption, and hope.
It started with a piece of paper--a birth certificate, sent to the author's parents long after her birth. There is much history in that piece of paper. For she was born to an unwed mother in the generation prior to Roe v. Wade, on a warm day in August-a small, painful beginning in which she had been an unwilling participant, yet one that would shape her destiny. She is adopted into a loving home with another child that would become her beloved brother. She finds herself pregnant; she's a teen and a college student, abandoned at the news. The options are obvious, but there is only one decision she could make: to give her child up to a family praying for one, and walking away. Saving Grace is more than a story of adoption. It's a deep look into family-at hope and faith and why we end our days surrounded by souls that may not bear our name or share our blood, but who are our true family.
Get on over there and get you some of that.  Don't make me change my tone.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Good Night, Cthluhu

Cthluhu for children.  It's actually pretty faithful to the original story.

Shoulder update

The surgeon is very pleased with the progress of the bone, which is closing nicely.  He's confident that it will ultimately be as strong as before the accident.  He even cleared me to ride on the motorcycle again (!).

I don't think I'm up to it yet.  Physical Therapy is going very well, and my range of motion is much better - almost restored to normal, or decently close.  However, I can tell that the strength in my right arm isn't back.  We start strength training in PT next week, and so I expect another 4-6 weeks before I'm confident enough to get back in the saddle.

Still, both the doctor and the therapist are as pleased as can be.  As am I.  Just not planning on getting cocky ...

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Just because you can doesn't mean that you should

Just sayin'.

Keyless auto entry systems: keep your key fob in the freezer

Last week, I started keeping my car keys in the freezer, and I may be at the forefront of a new digital safety trend.
Let me explain: In recent months, there has been a slew of mysterious car break-ins in my Los Feliz neighborhood in Los Angeles. What’s odd is that there have been no signs of forced entry. There are no pools of broken glass on the pavement and no scratches on the doors from jimmied locks. But these break-ins seem to happen only to cars that use remote keyless systems, which replace traditional keys with wireless fobs. It happened to our neighbor Heidi, who lives up the hill and has a Mazda 3. It happened to Simon, who lives across the street from me and has a Toyota Prius.
Pretty good article in the NYT on something that I've been writing about for a while.  The $30 device that lets people break in to your car is easily available, and keeping your key fob in your kitchen freezer will defeat the attack.  No, this isn't a joke, although the security of the keyless entry system sure seems to be.

Hat tip: Dave, via email who adds: "This one is Face Palm worthy".  Sure is.

Who Believes in Climate Change?

 The President took Air Force One to Florida to give a speech in the Everglades yesterday to give a speech. Of course there's more to consider that just the 747 and the 9,180 gallons of jet fuel it used in the round trip to Florida.

There's the helicopters he and his retinue took to the airport, the 747, the fighter escorts, the C-17 transport plane that carries the motor vehicles, the convoy of vehicles that are used on the ground, all the police and press transportation, the vehicles used by the people that came to the speech, and so on.

Is there a real estimate of the fossil fuel carbon that was released into the atmosphere yesterday so that the President could make a speech in Florida about about climate change? I haven't found one, but the C-17 burns 10.93 gallons a mile, making it's fuel use over 20,100 gallons for that trip. There is 19 pounds of CO2 created by burning one gallon of jet fuel. Ignoring the helicopters, fighter escorts, cars and SUVs, and rounding it down to 29,000 gallons for the two big jets, that's 551,000 pounds of CO2.

If he truly believed that every extra molecule of carbon released into the environment was a threat to the future of the world, wouldn't he have made the speech without leaving Washington, D.C. and let the audience watch it at home?

It's okay, I don't believe it either.

UPDATE: Each atom of carbon joins with two atoms of oxygen to form a molecule of carbon dioxide. Since the oxygen is taken from the air, it isn't part of the weight of the fuel. Carbon has an atomic weight of 12, oxygen has an atomic weight of 16, so most of the weight of carbon dioxide comes from the oxygen.

Climate Models provably wrong

Good statistical analysis of the implications of the failure of the climate models to predict the "hiatus" - the last nearly 20 years of zero global warming:
We also know that the integrated assessment climate models (IAMs) are deterministic physical models of the climate with built in predetermined physical cause and effect structures. We can say they are wrong based on their ability to explain the data (facts) during this hiatus.

Nevertheless, the lousy R squared³ and apparent zero “fit” does allow us to conclude that during the hiatus, the assumption that CO2 is the major thing driving global mean temperature is not just a lousy hypothesis, it’s wrong and unsupported by the data (fact). We can also say that all of the variability (scatter) in the data is due to “not CO2.”

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Every day is Earth Day

In North Korea.

Android: no malware problem?

That's what the head Android security d00d says:
[Lead Android engineer Adrian Ludwig] said that while impressive software security exploits surface often enough, their use in actual attacks is small: “I don't trust humanity any more than you do, but the scale of exploitation is small … in the meantime it feels like we may have a chance at wining the exploitation battle in mobile.”

In illustrating the low exploitation figures, he said of two "beautiful" exploits in wild, one was leveraged less than eight times per one million devices, and the other once per million, even though 99 and 82 percent of Android users, respectively, were at risk at the time of disclosure – and that's according to stats from BlueBox.
I'm not sure that I believe that the data sources he's relying on are comprehensive, but this is pretty interesting.

Make big money doing computer security

It seems that the Fed.Gov can't get enough computer security people:
Rigid hiring processes and low pay for specialized employees have kept the U.S. government from developing the type of cyber workforce it needs to keep up with growing attacks, according to an independent analysis.
The Partnership for Public Service released a report on Tuesday saying the federal government has positioned itself poorly for recruiting cybersecurity personnel at a time when the nation as a whole is already facing a shortage.
OK, so Uncle Sugar has shot hisself in the foot (this is my surprised face ...), but industry needs security guys (and gals).  The money is good, and by the looks of things the problem will be around for decades.  I've been writing about this for a while now. There's lots of good free training.

One great thing about this field is that nobody cares about which college you went to (or even if you went) - there are industry certifications that carry much more weight.  Young readers (or children of older readers) can get good paying jobs without a ton of student debt.

100 years ago

Poison gas was used for the first time:
NEWSER) – As a spring breeze wafted into his trench, commander Georges Lamour of the French 73rd infantry saw something almost surreal drift his way. A yellow-green cloud. He barely had time to react. "All my trenches are choked," Lamour cried into the field telephone to headquarters. "I am falling myself!" Foaming at the mouth, crazed and blinded, the French soldiers fled in all directions—sucking for oxygen, finding instead poison that seeped into body fluids and ate away at eyes, throat, and lungs. World War I, and warfare itself, were never the same. Chlorine gas—sent crawling in favorable winds over Flanders Fields from German positions—sowed terror and agony for the first time on April 22, 1915. The era of chemical weaponry had dawned.
Nasty business.

Hat tip: Rick, via email.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Pets looking at food.

No confirmation on whether this is Murphy or not ...


Epic T-shirt is epic

Party on, Garth.

Hat tip: A Large Regular, who finds tons of cool stuff.

Security advice: get paper statements from your bank

Everyone wants you to go paperless, because it saves them the cost of printing and mailing you a monthly statement.  With your bank, this is a bad idea.

iOS vs. Android: it's a knife fight

Err, literally:
Tulsa, Oklahoma, TV station KTUL is reporting that two men were left with “cuts all over their bodies … covered with blood” after an argument over the merits of Android and iOS “escalated”.

The station's report suggests the two were discussing the competing merits of the iPhone and Samsung's new offering – probably the Galaxy S6 - within the confines of their shared flat. A few drinks later, the conversation kicked up several notches.
I'm not sure that there's anything I can add that will improve on this story.

Monday, April 20, 2015

240 Years Ago

Yesterday was the 240th anniversary of the battle of Lexington and Concord. It used to be a celebrated day, a time to remember the men who stood against all odds and freedom over servitude.

There's one man who took part that day that I want to highlight. Samuel Whittemore. He was 78 years old in 1775. When the battle took place he was out working in his fields. When he saw the retreating British column, however, he armed himself, and then he attacked with a musket and two pistols.

That is correct. 78 years old, alone, with a flintlock musket and 2 flintlock pistols, he chose to fire on a column of British Regulars. Expending his three shots, he drew his sword and attacked.

The British troops, understandably, shot him in the face and bayoneted him 18 times.

He survived the assault, and lived another 18 years, dying at the age of 98.

He is honored as the State Hero of Massachusetts.

GAO report on hacking airplanes: incompetent and irresponsible?

The US government released a report yesterday warning of security threats facing modern aircraft, leading to stories from major publications claiming in-flght Wi-Fi could be hacked to take control of a passenger plane. But according to Dr Phil Polstra, a qualified pilot and professor of digital forensics at Bloomsburg University, the report contained much erroneous information.

Polstra believes the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) report was put together by people who didn’t understand how modern aircraft actually work. He took umbrage with the claims that as airplanes are increasingly connected to the internet, the control systems on planes are in danger of being remotely compromised. He told FORBES over email that the avionics networks, which deal with flight controls and coordination, were simply not connected to the internet like Wi-Fi services. “To imply this is irresponsible.”
This story broke while I was on vacation and ignoring the 'net, and so I didn't comment then.  Now the plot thickens.  The Government Accounting Office has a history of misinterpreting cyber risk:
GAO staffers have demonstrated repeatedly that they do not understand how attacks and networks and operating systems work - at the deep technical level. That means their reports have been forcing government agencies to spend money in precisely the wrong ways - so much so that a close analysis will show that GAO is culpable in enabling the deep and pervasive cyber penetration that has occurred across many elements of the federal government. GAO staffers blame OMB's regulations for their errors when they are called to account. Isn't it time for GAO leadership to take a hard look at the damage caused by its findings and the people they have making those findings?
I hadn't considered inter-Agency budget rivalry as a driver for Press Release driven bogus security news, but that's something that will play a part in my analysis from now on.

UPDATE 22 APRIL 2015 11:28: More here.  I'm not a fan of having critical systems and passenger/entertainment systems on the same network, and so will try to avoid the Airbus 350 and 380, and the Boeing 787.  But there is good analysis at this link.