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October 26th, 2006 - Adventures in Engineering
The wanderings of a modern ronin.

Ben Cantrick
  Date: 2006-10-26 08:35
  Subject:   Email whitelist, phase 1: SEND ME AN EMAIL!
Public
  Location:/var/spool/mail/mackys
  Mood:midnight coding
  Music:Rush - Limelight

I finally had some time to work on the email whitelist filtering system tonite. I have the filtering stuff in place, which means one thing... I need to put the email address of anyone who might ever send me an email on my whitelist!

IF YOU'RE READING THIS, PLEASE SEND AN EMAIL TO mackys@gully.org !

You'll get a bounce message, but rest assured, your email will get to me, and it'll be logged with the time and date in the whitelist log file, too.


(If you're curious about the details... You put this:

"|IFS=' '&&exec /home/mackys/whitelist/checkwl.pl >> /home/mackys/whitelist/wl.log ||exit 75 #mackys"

in the .forward file in your homedir, and the perl script does the rest.)


Edit: Whitelist has been updated for all emails received at or before 2pm MDT, 10/26. Wait, make that 2:30 pm MDT cuz I just got your email, Bill.
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Ben Cantrick
  Date: 2006-10-26 19:22
  Subject:   [/.] DeBeers shits itself, film at 11.
Public


Adia Diamonds (among others) is offering to the public completely lab-made, but even more flawless than mined, real diamonds. These diamonds weren't made by environment trashing strip-mining, or the exploitation of poor Africans. And since they were made in a lab, they're guaranteed not to have been "conflict diamonds", often used to finance civil wars and terrorism in the third world. And did I mention that you can get them for a fraction of the cost of a mined diamond, even though they're bigger and have fewer flaws?

It's going to be very interesting to see how the major diamond cartel, DeBeers, tries to tackle this one. They have a long history of media manipulation and market monopoly maintenance. We'll see if people are stupid enough to swallow the DeBeers marketing and continue paying way more money for diamonds that are smaller, have more flaws, and don't let you select exactly the color that you want...
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Ben Cantrick
  Date: 2006-10-26 19:46
  Subject:   [MeFi] How to utterly steal an election with electronic voting machines.
Public
  Mood:stating the bleeding obvious

What if I told you that it would take only one person—one highly motivated, but only moderately skilled bad apple, with either authorized or unauthorized access to the right company's internal computer network—to steal a statewide election? You might think I was crazy, or alarmist, or just talking about something that's only a remote, highly theoretical possibility. You also probably would think I was being really over-the-top if I told you that, without sweeping and very costly changes to the American electoral process, this scenario is almost certain to play out at some point in the future in some county or state in America, and that after it happens not only will we not have a clue as to what has taken place, but if we do get suspicious there will be no way to prove anything. You certainly wouldn't want to believe me, and I don't blame you.

[...]

Over the course of almost eight years of reporting for Ars Technica, I've followed the merging of the areas of election security and information security, a merging that was accelerated much too rapidly in the wake of the 2000 presidential election. In all this time, I've yet to find a good way to convey to the non-technical public how well and truly screwed up we presently are, six years after the Florida recount. So now it's time to hit the panic button: In this article, I'm going to show you how to steal an election.


http://arstechnica.com/articles/culture/evoting.ars


Regardless of whether any elections ever have been stolen by electronic voting machines or not, it's insane to have a voting system that is this easy to corrupt.

I'm all for making election officials' and voters lives easier by using touch-screen voting machines. The problem is not that you can tap a picture of the candidate who you want to vote for - the problem is that there's no way to tell for sure after the fact whose picture you actually tapped! We have a failure here of the "back office"; in effect, we've refused to put a lock on our ballot-boxes. And that's good for nobody and no party.

Furthermore, the fixes are not difficult. We already know what we have to do in order make successful tampering much, much harder. All we have to do is A) acknowledge that, yes, we have a problem! then B) have the political willpower to smash the bad machines produced so far, and finally C) this time make security, verifiability and tamper-resistance a priority from the very first second we start thinking about how to make voting machines and vote-counting systems. Bruce Schneier and Ron Rivest have both come up with a lot of excellent ideas about how to do this, so we're not shooting in the dark here. We have the roadmap on how to fix this - are we smart enough to follow it?


(See also, http://neon.polkaroo.net/~mhoye/snapshot-pics/Spider_Jerusalem_-_Voting.jpg)
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Ben Cantrick
  Date: 2006-10-26 23:14
  Subject:   Rapper shows off his practical wheels; MTV "Cribs" horrified.
Public
  Mood:ninja, plz...
  Music:Youngbloodz - Mind on my Money

Producers said the show was going well until they were led outside to check out his fleet of presumably tricked-out rides. "We were shocked, and dare I say appalled, when P-Krunk opened up his garage door and exposed two non-customized, frequently driven vehicles showing a bit of wear and tear: a 1998 Ford Aerostar minivan and a 2001 Toyota Corolla."

[...]

Asked if he plans on buying more expensive performance cars or a giant Hummer like many of his newly rich contemporaries in the near future, P-Krunk quickly responded, "Ten grand for rims? No my brother, this baller is hanging on to his paper. I don't need to be rollin' on dubs to represent and I sho' as shizzle don't plan on being a broke-ass bitch this time next year. Who do I look like, Hammer?"


http://www.usedwigs.com/weekly_60.html


I'm much worse than most people about owning way too many ostentatious vehicles. Which just makes this (Onion-worthy) spoof that much funnier!
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Ben Cantrick
  Date: 2006-10-26 23:28
  Subject:   Did you just hear a huge popping sound??
Public

New home prices fell last month by the largest amount in 35 years and owners are being warned to brace for further declines, especially in formerly hot markets. The Commerce Department reported that the median price for a new home sold in September was $217,100, a decline of 9.7 percent from September 2005. That was the lowest median home price in two years and the sharpest year-over-year decline since December 1970, providing dramatic evidence of the slowdown in the once-booming housing market.

http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/061026/economy.html?.v=10


Pay off your home equity loans NOW, people...
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Ben Cantrick
  Date: 2006-10-26 23:39
  Subject:   [Reddit] Today in combat exoskeleton news.
Public
  Location:Megatokyo circa 2032 AD
  Music:Priss and the Replicants - Konya Wa Hurricane

Sarcos has come up with a system that uses just one engine instead of lots of them. The engine, and a tank containing a 24-hour supply of fuel, will be slung "beneath your rear end", says Main. The engine (a turbine, two-stroke or four stroke - they haven’t decided yet) will then drive hydraulic fluid via high pressure lines to servo valves on each joint, amplifying the force used to move each limb when the wearer’s motion is sensed.

http://www.newscientist.com/blog/technology/2006/10/exoskeleton-update.html


Damn those Sarcos guys for stealing all my good ideas!!

Small turbine for power? Check.

Hydraulics instead of electric motors? Check.

Bet it uses series-elastic actuators, too! Annddd they're certainly going to have some cheap PID controllers and probably some reasonably sensitive strain-gauge based load cells as well.


(See also: [Digg] New Crysis video released.)
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