Thursday, January 14, 2010

This Blog has Moved!

Point your browser to http://robwicks.wordpress.com

Friday, January 1, 2010

. . . But I Repeat Myself

Once again, MSNBC comes through with an incredulous bit on the TSA. Can you spot the threats? Letting even one threat by would get a fully trained screener fired.” Then why are there any TSA screeners left?

MSNBC as Government Shills (as usual)

I was listening to an MSNBC podcast and the reporter said:

"As much as airline security has been tightened since 9/11, this attempt to bomb a plane bound for the US demonstrates this: that determined terrorists are constantly looking for gaps to exploit."

Clearly, this is ridiculous. This incident has shown us many things, but that is not one of them. Among the things it shows us:

1) The government is as incompetent at performing basic security as it is at providing anything else of value.

2) In light of 1), Al Qaeda and its allies are not terribly interested in launching attacks on US soil. It would not, apparently be terribly difficult to do so if they actually had much desire.

3) Considering the attacks seen overseas, Islamic militants are mostly interested in attacking soldiers in Muslim areas and civilians who are living in occupied areas.

4) It is difficult to get someone who is both competent and smart to sign up for a suicide bombing mission.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Odd Secunia PSI Result

I did a Secunia PSI scan on my Windows 7 laptop. It found no insecure programs, but gave this strange result:
image
Security Threats:
0
Secunia System Score: [?]
100%
Secunia PSI WorldMap:
Your Secunia System Score of 100% is 5% HIGHER than the average user from Georgia, United States.
Compared to users WITHOUT the Secunia PSI installed, your Secunia System Score is 85% WORSE - install patches now!
Last Full System Scan: [?]
3 minutes ago
How could a 100% rating be 85% worse than anything? What an odd bug. Still, I highly recommend the tool for those interested in keeping a Windows PC up to date.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Running Windows 7 as a Truecrypt Hidden Operating System

My favorite whole drive encryption system, hands down, is Truecrypt. One of the interesting features is the notion of plausible deniability. One of the ways this deniability may be accomplished in through a hidden operating system. I don’t really need the deniability features, but I have found that the hidden operating system is useful in allowing me to keep Windows XP on my laptop, but being able to seamlessly boot into Windows 7 (I have also set up Windows 2008 Server in the same way).

I have a 160GB hard drive, which I divided into a 40 GB partition and another 120 GB partition. I have XP installed on the 40GB partition, which is my C: drive. I have another D: drive where I keep data. That’s the 120GB partition. It is important to have a similarly partitioned hard drive. It is also vital that the 120GB partition have enough space to hold all of C:, i.e., 40GB. Do a full sector level backup on the drive. I use Knoppix, then use the dd command to copy the entire /dev/sda drive to a file on a USB hard drive. You should be able to access the individual files on D:. Use ntbackup to run a backup from within Windows XP on the D: drive. Once you have all this done, you can install Windows 7 from scratch, reformatting all the partitions, but only installing on the 40GB one. Leave the 120GB partition empty.

After installing Windows 7, run Truecrypt, pull down on the system menu and select “Create Hidden Operating System . . .” Follow the prompts to create it as normal. After you delete the original partition (the last step in Truecrypt’s hidden OS creation sequence), you should then restore the boot sectors and the first partition from your backup. If you used dd, this just means booting into Knoppix and running something like:

dd if=/path/to/backup/file of=/dev/sda bs=512 count=<number of the last sector of the /dev/sda1 partition, which you can determine by running fdisk –l –u /dev/sda>

This will write over the hard drive up to the point where our outer volume which holds the hidden partition starts. When you reboot, you will boot back into your old Windows XP. It will probably freak out about not being able to get to D. Just install Truecrypt, then mount the outer volume using the outer volume password. You can then restore your backup into that volume.

Finally, encrypt the XP system. This will install the Truecrypt boot loader, where you will be able to provide either the XP decryption password or the Windows 7 decryption password in order to choose which operating system you wish to run.

This allows me to run two versions of Windows with no fear whatsoever that they will interfere with one another. Also, it gets me into the habit of performing disaster recovery backups on my laptop.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Cory Maye Granted New Trial

Radley Balko has been calling attention to this horrible crime against an innocent man by my home state of Mississippi. Finally, Maye has been granted a new trial.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Lawyers Write Law, And Then Are The Only Ones To Make Millions

Of course, I am sure this was merely a by-product of sincere efforts to assist the poor and oppressed.

 
 

Sent to you by Robert A. Wicks via Google Reader:

 
 

via Techdirt by Mike Masnick on 11/17/09

It's difficult not to become even more cynical when you read stories like the following one. Sent in by Eric Goldman, it's about a state law in California that was mainly written by two lawyers: Joaquin Avila, a law professor from Seattle, and Robert Rubin, the "legal director" for the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area. So, here's the interesting thing: since this state law has been put in place (seven years ago), the only lawsuits have been brought by Rubin's committee or Avila and they've made themselves over $4 million with a few more lawsuits pending and a bunch more threatened (again, all from either Avila or Rubin's committee).

What a great deal: write a law, and then be the only lawyers to use the law to make millions.

As for the law itself, it was a law that apparently very few people were asking for -- requiring that state courts carve out specific districts that favor minority groups, so they are not excluded from local elections. Here's how the AP describes it:
The California statute targets commonly used "at-large" elections -- those in which candidates run citywide or across an entire school district. Avila said that method can result in discrimination because whatever group constitutes the majority of voters can dominate the ballot box and block minorities from winning representation. As a remedy, the law empowers state courts to create smaller election districts favoring minority candidates.

Officials in several California communities said they never heard complaints of voter discrimination until the lawyers stepped forward. In one case, the Tulare Local Healthcare District, now known as Tulare Regional Medical Center, was sued even though its five-member governing board is a rainbow of diversity -- two emigres from India, a Hispanic, a black and a white. The lawsuit argues Hispanics, who make up about a third of local voters, have been shortchanged.
Of course, there are many reasons why the exact makeup of a governing board might not match the exact percentage of the population (including the simple fact that most people vote on issues, not the ethnicity of the people they're voting for). But, even if there was a problem it seems highly questionable that the two lawyers who wrote the bill are now profiting tremendously from it and appear to be the only ones who do so.

It's stories like this one that make us so nervous about so much legislation. This is the type of law they create: it maysound good (who's going to argue against diversity?). But, the actual law appears to have been nothing more than a way for these lawyers to go around collecting millions, while disrupting communities and schoolboards, and sending their taxpayer money to these lawyers.

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