Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The sky is falling. Sirens are blaring. Ignore it.

That’s what I do.

I’m located at the intersection of three large counties in an area of the country that has moderately frequent severe weather & tornadoes. All three counties fire up the sirens any time they think there is severe weather any place in the county. I hear the emergency severe weather sirens of all three counties, and I can’t tell which siren is from what county.

Each time I hear a siren (as often as one a week in summer) I can either:
  1. head immediately for shelter (basement) as officially recommended
  2. wake up a computer and research the current weather and radar
  3. ignore them
Unfortunately many of the residents of Joplin, MO appear to have chosen options 2 or 3, some of whom died as a result of their choice.
In interviews with nearly 100 survivors of the tornado, NOAA officials found that the perceived frequency of warning sirens that night and in previous storms caused people to become "desensitized or complacent to sirens" and to not take shelter.
"Instead, the majority of Joplin residents did not take protective action until processing additional credible confirmation of the threat,"
In other words the emergency sirens are not credible unless combined with other information sources. I don’t doubt that for a second. I do not consider the county emergency sirens to be credible unless I verify them with some other source (radar weather, for example). There simply are too many false alerts.

In IT security, do we spam our users/customers with so may warnings that we are no longer a credible source?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Comcast Internet Essentials - Low Cost Internet

Comcast is bringing their ‘Internet Essentials’ to our local service area. Under this program, families who qualify for free school lunches are eligible for $10/month internet from Comcast.

Kudo’s to Comcast.

I see programs like this as an important factor in reducing the number of “have nots” in the already wide disparity between those who have access to broadband and those who do not. Broadband today is as critical to rural and economically poor areas as electricity was in the 1930s and 1940s. Back then, a rural farmer that had electricity could dramatically improve their productivity versus farmers with no electricity.

In the 1930s, my grandfathers sister moved from an electrified area of Wisconsin to a farm in Minnesota with no electricity. She had to pump water by hand, wash clothes by hand, heat the farmhouse with a wood stove, light kerosene lamps…

Today in Minnesota we have rural area’s where there is no wired broadband coverage, and we have both rural and metro areas where people with low incomes can’t afford the $30-50/month broadband entry fee. One of our CIO’s made it clear (to me) how important this is when he offered that bandwidth to his college was nowhere near as important as bandwidth to the rural area around his college. Rural students were dissuaded from taking classes because they would be forced to complete much of their class work while at the college rather than at home. For some, that’s a barrier.

FWIW – For the last ten years or so, we’ve been using Comcasts metro area gigabit Ethernet as the wide area network connection for about a dozen of our metro area colleges. The service is less expensive than any competitors and it has been at least as reliable as services from other carriers.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

What do Linux.com & Kernel.org have in common?






Down for maintenance. Hacked…pwned…rooted…

Can you imagine the holy shitstorm that the Linux fanboys would be flinging out the door if this had happened to Microsoft?

The root cause analysis on these will be interesting reads.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

HP Drops State of the Art Tablet, Re-Introduces Antique Calculator

HP’s Touchpad Tablets are dead. HP’s RPN calculators are back.

What’s next, single pen flatbed plotters?

BTW- I must be old. I still have an HP 11C…


…and I remember when we upgraded our single pen flatbed plotter to a state of the art 6 pen moving paper plotter complete with automatic pen selection. Instead of the plotter stopping and waiting for you to switch from the black pen to the red pen, the plotter would automagically put the black pen back into the carousel and pick up the red pen.

We were impressed. Smile

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Kernel.org hacked…

The message from kernel.org is consistent with the message from pretty much everyone that gets hacked.

  • Don’t worry
  • Be happy
  • We know what we are doing
  • Everything is Ok

I’ll be looking forward to something resembling ‘full disclosure’. It should be an interesting read.