Tag: spy

#Drones or #UAV & right to #privacy!  @johnmccaa @thewellsreport Look at the blog… follow the link.

#Drones or #UAV & right to #privacy! @johnmccaa @thewellsreport Look at the blog… follow the link.

Drones or UAV & Right to Privacy!

This is a story that needs telling, so kids with expensive toys do not get into trouble.

After arriving home, getting out of my car I heard a sound that I could not identify.  At first, I thought it some sort of gas leak until the sound changed pitch abruptly, causing me to search the sky.

multirotor

Hovering over my fenced back yard at about 20 to 30 feet was some sort of UAV, not a quad copter, more propellers.

As a Geek, I appreciate technology so my first thought was “wow,” that is somewhat cool!  As I watched, the craft made a turn to another’s backyard, and than another, and then it took off to the north.

What was the operator doing hovering this thing over peoples back yards?

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Posting about this on social media, one of my close friends noted that she had one over her back yard that day!

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This uav was just released for sale and talked about at the electronic convention in Las Vegas.  One wears it like a bracelet and if they want to take a selfie from the air; one removes it, activates it and tosses it into the air.  Control of it is with the phone and it has a camera that is good enough to take a quality picture or video.

Recently the news reported one of these things crashed on the Mexican Border loaded down with drugs.  Later we learned that they have been using them to get contraband into prisons.  If I were a bad guy, I can think of all sorts of things that could be done, looking through windows for unclothed people would be at the bottom of the list!

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View of New York From UAV

When I hear that the government had them that had the technology to peer into your open window from a mile away and count your freckles, I was concerned.  Floating in the pool last summer I saw one like in the picture below flying at altitude going from east to west; the silhouette was unmistakable.  There was no noise and had I not been looking up, I never would have noticed it.

uav-copy1

This flew over my house one summer day, going straight over DFW!  I was not aware that it was legal to fly these things in US air space.

What are the laws regarding Unmanned Aerial Vehicles?

Do we have the right to privacy?

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A newly released document reports a type of radar that allows someone to stand outside your house and know if you are home and where in the house you are.  I think something like this in wartime might be ok but, for anyone who can plop down $6000 to buy and use; this is another story.

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Above you see a camera in a fake smoke detector, to the right is just picture of different cameras that one might see.

For anyone to abridge your right to privacy without warrant should be illegal! That not only goes for electronic tapping of your communication but most certainly, for invading your private space with electronic surveillance techniques whether it be radar, covert eaves dropping measures and even a drone of any sort.  Too many good men and women died to give us freedom from many things and that includes an out of control government!  Technology is great but anything that violates someone; the user of such needs to be held accountable!

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Regarding the drones over the backyards, I am guessing that kids got them for Christmas, and did the first thing that came into their head, look in their neighbors fenced in yards and windows.

Allow me to be the first to put you on notice, this is an illegal activity and should it happen to anyone else, I would imagine a well placed stream of water from a garden hose would not do it any good, and may even render it inoperable.  When the perpetrator comes to fuss and or collect their property, you can then take them to task.  I just wonder what the law would say if this person came home with a busted nose, or pair of blackened eyes.  

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2014/09/25/state-legislation-governing-private-drone-use/

I am not sure what agency controls such things; as these fly too low for the FAA to get involved.  I think the local police would be your best bet, as this is nothing more than being a peeping tom.   

 Video the offence and take em to court.

Attn: John and David! This story really needs to hit the media, as it is really a matter of not knowing what they are doing is illegal.  They need to take them out of the neighborhood to fly them.  Since they have a good quality camera, what they capture could be illegal as taking pictures or video of people without their permission is in itself a crime; especially if you are invading their privacy in the process.

I have no idea what people will do with this technology but we really need to be on top of it to protect your rights.

We sacrifice enough of our privacy every day just to go to work.  Think about this, every intersection that you traverse has cameras that have the capability to capture your image.  They can also contain bio metric software so your unique personage can be tracked, patterns established and documented.  Your phone that you love so much “can be used” as a tracking device; to know exactly where you are, down to within a few feet of resolution.  The hell of that is that you pay for it!

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How much privacy do we have to sacrifice? 

A trip through the airport and, well this is what you give up for the privilege of flying.  A recent TSA whistle blower talked about how everyone wanted the job of the room where they view such pictures.  While there they laughed at peoples private parts. Do you feel safe?  Why is it that technology always seems to end up being used for perverse task or a weapon of some kind.  I can just imagine some twisted mind when encountering a new technology, “how could I use this as a weapon?”  Christians would say it is because we are a fallen people.

In public areas, the odds are good that security cameras are watching you and recording you.  At work, the odds are good that cameras are watching you.  Can your webcam be remotely activated, how about your own cameras for your own security system.  Recently we heard of a Russian web site where thousands of cameras were hacked and their contents displayed for the Russians to laugh at, while watching whatever is going on in front of them.

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http://www.v3.co.uk/v3-uk/news/2382511/russians-hacking-into-webcams-showing-live-footage-from-uk-offices-shops-and-baby-monitors

If you buy these things, make certain that you change all of the default usernames and passwords!

While this guy saw the light, there will be others that do not…

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A few years ago a school gave out laptops for kids to take home.  Some whistle blower let it be known that the cameras in the computers were being remotely turned on and people were watching children in their bedrooms or wherever the laptops happen to be.  Are we inherently evil?

Cameras are now so small that they are in pens, clocks, other everyday devices and you simply have to act as if someone is either watching you or recording you when you are out in public.  But what about your home?

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It is not my purpose to instigate paranoia.  Most people are not interesting enough to be spied on in the first place but, Orwell was on to something.  Take steps to make sure that your gadgets are secure and if you own and fly UAV’s, know that I will take steps to keep my private life private.  This blog is one way that I am doing that by making this issue known to many who simply don’t pay attention to such things.  It is my hope that my media contacts will find this interesting enough to do a story about.

George Orwell and 1984 Quotation

-Best to you and those that you care about!

Please feel free to “re-blog” as you see fit.  The more people that know about this the better off we all are. 

Copyright Timedok All rights reserved 2015

http://www.TimeDok.com

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Enlightenment and the Truth

So I have  few thoughts that I wanted to share with you.

If you have read the first page of this blog you know that I am interested in Enlightened Conversation. Enlightened conversation however; depends upon “enlightenment.”

It should be no surprise to anyone that has read any of my postings that I am a Star Trek Fan, from the first episode with William Shatner getting all the girls; and the guy in the red shirt dying of some horrible attack, to every version there after of the series. The consistent trait among them however is the red shirt guy dies.   You would think that the red shirt people would figure this out.  🙂

As a writer, even since the beginning, I appreciated well written scripts.  Most have no idea when they watch something on TV or at the movies, why they either liked it; or hated it.

Look inside First

Part of the process of becoming more than you are, is to know yourself. “Well that is just stupid, I know myself, my name is this, and I live here, and so on and so forth.”  Truth be told, most folks really don’t know themselves, they know of themselves.

Most people act in a mechanical nature following their programming, not unlike the animals that trod the sod or fly in the air above us.

  • The sea turtle comes ashore at a certain time and lays its eggs and leaves again for the eggs to hatch and for the hatchlings to head to the water where most of them will be food.
  •  Some birds know to head south in the winter and north in the summer but they don’t know why?  What we don’t know for sure is how?
  •  Some butterflies migrate as well; do they really know what they are doing?
  •  Primates learned to make, and use tools to achieve an end result.
  •  Whales communicate and we suspect Dolphins do as well.

What we don’t know about this world, and the creatures that are on it would fill entire libraries.

The same can be said about ourselves.

Start with this simple exercise, each time you are moved in some way by someone or something ask yourself why.  What about that book did you like or not like.  What about that movie did you appreciate or detest. Than, ask the magic question of why…

If I talk with you about late term abortion.

I mention that the doctor pokes some scissors into the base of the Child’s skull making a small incision, clipping the brain stem from the spinal cord, killing the child.  From there he puts a suction device in and sucks out the child’s brain so when pulling the baby out, the skull will easily crush, not damaging the mother.

I know how I feel about it and why; how do you feel, and why?

What if you are looking at a painting of a lovely lady, sitting on a blanket under a tree, on a sunny day?  She is wearing a light white dress that the wind blows up past her knees on occasion. She is sitting there with a picnic basket, some wine and a book.  The sunlight pokes through creating small silhouettes of light on her, here and there as the breeze blows the leaves on the tree.  In the distance there is the ocean and a beach with families at play.  The seagulls are dancing in the wind while a young man approaches the tree from behind with a rose in his hand.

How does that picture make you feel, why?

It is not simply good enough to hate something or like something, you must know why!

Every time your emotions are plucked, know what plucked them.  When you are moved, know what moved you.

With Star Trek it was simple for me to appreciate Gene Rodenberry’s vision of a Utopian world where we had evolved past greed.  Truthfully, I think Next Generation did a much better job of this however; I never understood what drove people to do anything if they could have anything that they wanted by simply getting the replicator to create it.  So, is greed a motivator?  Why “Boldly Go,” if getting something in return was not a motive?

What drives you to do what you do?  With most of us it is some form of remuneration for our efforts.  Let’s face it; we live in a dystopian society currently, with a hint of 1984 looming over the horizon.  We have a government that fabricates the narrative as they go along, to suite some agenda.  We have smart phones that may very well be spying on us through some NSA covert initiative that was put in place by the same folks who developed the porn scanners at the airport.  We have drones that the government can fly over a mile from your house and look through an open window and count your freckles!

We have a percentage of the masses that believe whatever garbage comes out of Washington as the gospel.  These folks are truly lost and victims to their own programming and failure to think outside the box.  These folks are the kinds of folks that need that box so they understand the boundaries and try to live within them, or figure out a way to take advantage of the structure as they understand it.  You will not catch them asking why they “like” or “hate” or do what they do, as according to them it is their nature, it simply is.  It is simpler than that, it is their programming and all they know, and want to know.  Please don’t confuse them with the facts!

The Ferguson riots are a perfect example of emotion overrunning common sense or the programming.  Darren Wilson by the laws that everyone accepts was cleared of any wrong doing.  The young man that was shot was seen on video robbing the convenience store and roughing up the owner.  Before he left you see him once again come back and come after the store owner in a threatening manner.

Now he continues on with this behavior with a cop. I don’t know how high he was or how far out of his right mind that he was but, you don’t screw with a cop! They have all the cards.  With a cop it is yes sir, no sir here are my hands in plain sight sir!  Anything else is well, stupid!

A grand jury clears the cop of all wrong doing so the people of the town burn down their own town and vandalize their own shop owners etc etc..  Is that programming, or nature?

Governments around the world understand people, the way we think and how closely we mimic animals, and play to those facts.  Functional idiots would be the ideal populous for any government, as they would do as they are told, and not question their leaders.  They would work at some prescribed task and give a portion, or have a portion of their money taken from them to support those that “pull the strings.”

No, not wearing a tin hat, don’t fall prey to conspiracy stuff.  I know technology and people and I am a science fiction writer.  Many things written by science fiction writers become science fact.  We think outside the box and leave the math to those that communicate with algebraic nomenclature and obscure symbols that only a scant few truly understand.  I would maintain that math holds those folks back from thinking outside the box because their formula does not support it.  It is only when one of them dares think that their formula may be wrong, do they look outside the box.

To be anything more than an automaton, takes work.  People are naturally lazy and take the easiest path, or path of least resistance. Some however do not. Some ask, “why?”

What about you?  Why ask why?

What kind of work does it take?  First and foremost it takes getting to know that person looking back at you from the mirror.

Why do we do what we do?

Enlightenment consists of knowing yourself first.

Once you start analyzing why you do what you do, you can then begin to understand what might motivate someone else.  Instead of blindly following your programming, you can choose a different path.

The folks in Ferguson were manipulated to do the bidding of some by using their emotions.  It is so easy to manipulate someone with their emotions it is laughable.  You know that you have been manipulated through guilt, into doing things that you did not want to do.  I think some churches use guilt to get you to tithe more, or to come more often to church.

Your wife of mother in law may guilt you into doing something that you do not want to do.  Guilt is a great emotion to manipulate you with.  Another is hate.

 “Hate is a poison that you take expecting it to affect someone else!”

We have a government for whatever reason is fomenting racial hate.  No one alive today had anything to do with slavery yet we hear more about it today than twenty years ago.  It serves a purpose to foment racism and I think it is to stir up the democratic base, when in fact the Democratic Party historically is the party that oppresses black people.  When you don’t know history you are doomed.  Americans have a short memory, and attention span and they know it and depend upon it..

Programming

I would proffer that it is natural to be bigoted against that which is different from you.

I would argue that part of your programming is to reject people of a different race in order to propagate your particular genetic line.  I would also point out that the male of the species “whatever the species” will stick his “business,” into just about anything, including a knot hole, to achieve the end result.  Again, programming and a reward system, which would lead to mutations in the gene pool of that species.  That by the way is my argument for macro evolution.  I don’t think that we just magically appeared as human one day, I think species intermingled and over time nature found a way to create viable species which too intermingled.  That intermingling is still in progress as today we have inter species procreation much more than just a few years ago. People (some people) are thinking outside the box, and their programming and moving beyond differences of colour and race. There is hope!

One prime argument against this is, “Well why did evolution stop?”  Who said it stopped?  Firstly, we human beings cannot fathom 4.5 billion years.  We have nothing to give context to that amount of time.  We live an average of 70 years.  That is not very much time!  We see beds that our ancestors used only a generation ago and note how short they are.  What we don’t put together is that we are much taller than they were.  We know that the appendix is a useless organ and is shrinking because our diet has changed and it is no longer needed.  If we look and are open minded we will see other signs that evolution of the Darwinian kind, is indeed happening. Is there a designer to this evolution?

While part of the programming in all animals is to reject that which is different, thinking people can look past those differences and indeed some do.  Part of the programming consists of a pairing of people simply by physical characteristics.  Things such as symmetry and physical build of the male as well as broad hips and large breast of the female.  This is programmed into us and useful for successful procreation.

When we were cave folks wearing nothing but lots of hair, things were exposed.  Women might have chosen to pair with men that were, well muscular and well hung, while guys most certainly looked at that which would better facilitate successfully bearing young.  Sex back then would most certainly have been Pavlovian.  If sex did not feel good and did not have a “reward,” I doubt that any species would be here.  Let’s face it; sex at its basic level is work! If done right, lots of work!  If you don’t think that there is some powerful programming at work, think again!

If you stop and think about it, there is really nothing attractive about genitalia at all.  I am amazed that gynecologists have any type of sex life after working with genitalia day in and day out.  My guess is that the reward system of procreation and the programming of that same “sub routine,” overrule that of the id, the super ego and the ego.  While the super-ego may try to rationalize what you are seeing the id is strong thus the programming of the id seems to supersede that of the super-ego and the ego.

And speaking of genitalia, an interesting thing about the penis that puts it into perspective is the design of the tip or Glans is such, that if inserted after someone else, it will actually pull their seed out and make room for yours, if yours is larger then the previous occupant.

Design or evolution?

Men are typically visual people and as such can be easily stimulated by such.  If we see someone in a bikini where do our eyes first travel to? …. No answer? … Coward….  They travel to the parts covered by the bikini.  From there, some background subroutine kicks in and gets to imagining the rest. If that same person were nude, our eyes would most certainly travel there first but, the background subroutine would not engage, and I doubt that after a moment or two, the visual titillation would still be there. Our attention might then be only to the persons face and other visual queues or other folks that are around.

In speaking with nudist, I am told that genitalia and other parts become no different than an elbow or knee.  I often wonder how the sex life of a nudist would differ from that of a person who is not.  Maybe there is a government grant available for such a study?  If I had to guess, I would guess it would parallel that of a couple that was in the same general age group that was not a nudist as again I think it would be centered around the reward or pleasure part of the brain.

I often wonder what affect the “Extreme Availability” of pornography; will have on this generation and those people of the next generation.  We have children exposed to this stuff before they reach puberty.  They do not have the maturity to deal with this subject matter so one has to wonder what outcome it will have.  If it were simply nude people I think it would fairly innocuous. If on the other hand it is all sorts of pornographic situations and activities dreamt up by who knows who, they may very well take that as normal.  I fear for their moral compass.

Hazarding a guess I have to think that it would lead more males to self pleasure… ok… masturbate, rather than go through the “trouble” to get a girlfriend and have a “normal” relation. Pornography could have a much more serious affect on society as a whole.  I also wonder what if any affect it has on females.

Delineation between nudity and pornography is a must at this point, as there is ample confusion.  As there is confusion between nudity and pornography, there is also confusion between being naked and nude.  Semantics you might say but, a thinking person would disagree.

Let’s start with the later; if I am purposefully around other folks without clothing, I am nude.  If I were to say go into a spa where there were people without clothing and that was the accepted behavior than I and they would be nude.  If I had someone posing nude for me while I painted them, and it was consensual, “consensual being the key word” then they would be nude.   While we here in this country are way too hung up on nudity, trust me, it is not that big of a deal and healthy.

If on the other hand you are secretly watching someone undress, or you walk in on someone who expects privacy, and they are without clothing, they are naked.  While naked can also mean “without adornment” or the naked truth, naked is being unclothed in a situation where you would like to have clothing on.

So that dream that you have about being naked at school; that is naked unless of course you are posing for an art class without clothes, than you are nude.

Pornography is someone or a group of someone’s in the act of sex or some other sexual situation designed to promote sexual titillation for the participants or the viewers.

One famous “movie star” in “adult movies” was once interviewed.  She was asked how she felt about people looking at her naked, and pleasuring themselves.  This person who had a rather inauspicious start to life, also sports a 138 IQ.  Her answer was simply this; “than I am doing my job.”  It was very easy to tell from the interview that she was “smart” and chose this line of work as a way out of the normal 9-5 work world, that so many of us fall into.  Her bright and bubbly personality along with her IQ is quite frankly what I found attractive about her but, I actually did read Playboy for the articles, and maybe checked out where that staple hit…

Is nudity healthy?

I mentioned earlier that it is “in my opinion” and here is why.  Let’s say you have children and they never see you naked.  The only nude folks they see are themselves or possibly their siblings until puberty.  Now we have the internet with more porn than you can shake a stick at.  Your young men start “peeking” at porn and expect that all women will look like that.  You, under your garments have a poochy belly, possibly with stripes all over it from stretch marks, you breast have sagged  or were never a perfect perky what have you, and your butt well, its not a Kardashian butt.  Your mate accepts you as you are but, your kids have unreal expectations and once they tie the knot, a rude awakening is headed their way which could end up with ruptured nuptials.

I don’t think that you have to live in  a nudist colony to get the job done but, I think having your children seeing you as you are, from a young age, as they grow up is healthy not only for them, but for you.  You must be ok with your body, and you need to do what you can to feel sexy and alive.  Your kids must know that not everyone looks like a porn star and once they have babies, everything changes.  Even you dads out there with the beer belly.  You too need to be ok with who you are in order to live a healthy life into your golden years. Setting your children’s expectation from very young will not only help them to keep things in perspective but, hopefully it may go a long way towards young men not objectifying women and indeed seeing them as something besides sex objects.  An added bonus may very well be that if you don’t hide underneath baggy shirts you may make a little extra effort to keep excess weight off, as obesity  often adds to your chances of diabetes and other health concerns.   If your kids are older you can’t obviously start walking around naked but, you don’t have to hide the belly either.  If you are a young couple with young kids, by all means, don’t hide.

If you have any questions about this, speak with a counselor or professional or two.  This last generation has gone way off target with our kids, we incarcerate more today than ever before.  Something is wrong and we need to be looking for reasons why.  I think it has to do with Hollywood, the internet, violent video games, and dysfunctional families looking for that brass ring, but those that get paid $150 an hour might have a different idea.

Speaking of nudes, as an artist I can tell you that I prefer to paint those that are full figured much like the masters did of years gone by.  These women today who are bags of bones covered by a little skin are not attractive to me; as an artist or a man.  The bottom line is that you must be happy with who you are. That my friend starts by looking in the mirror and loving yourself, bulges, stripes and all. Start from the inside out, as first you have to know “who you are.”

The simple facts are that we are wired for sex.  From the time we reach puberty and maybe before until we are pushing daisies up, sex is on the brain. We cannot totally escape our programming, at that age sex is high up on the list of priorities.  The difference between the human and the animal is that we can control our programming.

During puberty, hormones are being introduced at levels we are not used to.  Our inner animal may come out and want to play and not always in a constructive manner.  It takes a special kind of “teacher” to work with us at that age, as we become impossible.  We say things that we certainly don’t mean.  We are mean to anyone that loves us and just beside ourselves.  You add into this cornucopia of hormones, drugs, you trigger the release of more hormones and drugs from the brain which can make us suicidal. It is most important to understand what is going on at this age as there is no rational explanation for behavior most of the time.  Keeping all recreational chemistry out of this system is a must!

In the animal kingdom the animal may desire sex from one of its harem and be threatened by a young male.  This Bull may have to defeat its young challenger in order to maintain its control over the harem.  That becomes the order of business for the moment forgoing anything else.

A Human may desire sex but there are many hoops to jump through just to have a chance at sex, and unfortunately at certain ages for certain people, fighting is not off of the table. Other rather stupid actions come into play as well.  Lacking any morals and education our sex lives would most certainly emulate the animal kingdom.  A parallel between human and animal could easily be drawn where sex or procreation is concerned.  If we could examine the “code,” we would no doubt find that the subroutines look very similar.

Programming must come from the double helix, and I submit that programming can be modified by changing the behavior of a species, and having that species propagate its behavioral modifications through its DNA. This would necessarily prove that evolution through behavior modification is not only possible, but probable.

Back in the day there were people who studied eugenics.  Their reasons were fairly malevolent in that they were after the “perfect race,” and hated Jews.  Eugenics could be a reality and I think that the answer for such is programming the DNA not artificially, but by altering the behavior of the subject and then using that DNA to inseminate the subject.  Because all of this takes time, as it is really a function of evolution; they should try this with some short lived creature like the fruit fly and see if they can’t program its DNA in some fashion, possibly only eat a certain type of fruit.

My theory is that our programming is a series of learned behaviors that somehow make their way back into the DNA that we pass on to our progeny.  For this reason it might be a real good idea to procreate late in life or, donate sperm to a sperm bank when you are old, and wiser than when you were as a teenager and not so wise.

It is no secret that we stand on our forefathers shoulders where our technology and knowledge is concerned.  Some of that knowledge and wisdom gets passed down before we too procreate but, much is learned late in life.

You can either believe that “god” creates you the way that you are or you can believe that Darwin was correct and indeed evolution explains “ooze to youze.”

To reject the later simply because of religious mores would be just as foolish as to dismiss the possibility of a spiritual being that uses evolution to create.  Who is to say that some “god” for lack of a better name, is not using evolution to create what we see today.

It is necessary to think outside the box.  If you allow your preconceived prejudices to “box in your thoughts,” you can not learn.

Once I was talking with a guy who believes what he reads in the bible.  He professed to be open minded.  “So, you would be open to talking about evolution?”  “As long as it does not conflict with the bible, sure!”  Sadly, he cannot learn. His potential is limited by his ideology.

Me personally, I want to know the truth.  I don’t care what it is, that is what I want to know.  The truth will set you free.  We need to look for and learn the truth.  Once learned, that truth needs to be embraced, and then spoken about, Boldly!

While we build on the past we must be ever so open to the future and all of its possibilities. If there is a being that creates worlds, and all the life thereon then he or it must certainly use math as its language!  Science would be the common denominator and that would explain a lot of things.

There is a dichotomy between religious folks and science, not all, but most.  The dichotomy precludes either subset from learning the truth. In order to seek the truth, one must first be open to any and all possibilities. Is there a grand creator, great!  Is it all evolution and random chance? Cool!  Is it a combination of a creator using physics to create what we have today? Awesome!

Share your thoughts.  -Best

Copyright Timedok 11/2014 All rights Reserved

Cell phone / tablet

I have decided that the cell phone needs to be redesigned. Apple and others need to make the phone in such a way that the battery can be replaced by the end user.

These things cost hundreds of dollars and the “normal” person is ill equipped to replace their battery. Secondly and most importantly, if I want to make sure the damned thing is off when I turn it off! If I can remove the battery, I know it is indeed off. Currently these phones, tablets, and other smart devices could be hijacked by who knows who and used for nefarious purposes.

Apple, Samsung and the rest need to make this happen!

While I would truly love to have an app that would tell me what my phone is doing or has done, I am not certain that the app (log) could not be circumvented by the hijacker. The only way to know for sure is to ” kill” it!

Without electrons it cannot be hacked. Maybe people will think I am being paranoid but , I am a security guy so paranoia to some extent is a good thing. Trust no one or nothing that you don’t have 100% control over.

These devices accompany us everywhere. They live in our bedrooms, bathrooms or wherever and if hijacked , video and or audio could be transmitted to who knows where!

Give me a replaceable battery Apple! I don’t need a new $400 phone and a new contract every 2 years, I need a $10 battery!

-best

IT in a Nutshell

IT in a nutshell..

Most CEO’s or presidents of companies have no idea that the sword of Damocles’ is right over their head.  They don’t know because they are blissfully ignorant of the workings of their IT department.   Truth be told IT, is a cost center and frowned upon in most companies as they “don’t produce.”  This is true in the mindset of the upper echelon. They put up with the CIO or his people and equivocate when it comes to allowing them money for projects, as they really don’t have a clue.  Their job is to run the company, not IT.

There are three basics tenants of IT.

  • Provide the infrastructure for people to be productive.
  • Provide the security to safeguard the company’s assets both in intellectual property as well as physical property.
  • Provide mechanisms for future growth and have a robust enough environment to handle ad-hoc projects.

In working with most companies the infrastructure grew behind the power curve out of necessity. This of course is the most expensive way to grow your infrastructure in that many things are done to “temporarily” get them through the “event”.  Emergency projects are hardly ever well thought out, and hidden surprises are always lurking.  Remember that old axiom; there are never any good surprises in business.

One of the things that I talk about a lot is hardware management.  Each and every piece of hardware in your company has a life cycle.  Not unlike your car or home computer or cell phone.  Planning for the life cycle for equipment allows the company to budget for replacement of same and keeps the down time to a minimum as well as keeps the employees productive.

Down time is expensive both in hard and soft dollars.  If you have 300 people who can’t work because the server is down, you are loosing money.  If Sally can’t assist the outside sales people because her pc is moving at the speed of drying paint, they both are loosing time which is “MONEY!”

S.A.M. or software asset management is also something that the IT department seems to ignore and this is really something that should grab at least the attention of the CFO.  Does each and every person need a full copy of office or do they simply need Word or Outlook.  I was in one account where each and every machine had a full version of office on it.  40% of these were used as a terminal: that was it!  Five hundred dollars times 120 machines is $60K wasted!  Can you tell me one company that could not use an extra $60K?

Now, add to this scenario that this guy was installing this software on machines that were already past their life cycle.  I don’t profess to be an attorney or a legal scholar on EULA but, it is conceivable that when that machine dies, that license will die with it.  There may be hoops that you can jump through to get Microsoft to allow a transfer of the license but, what are the odds that this guy will do it.  It is not his money after all.

There was one company who had 300 locations with 2.5 machines per location.  These were servers so each had a copy of Microsoft “flavor of the day” server on it.

The application that was on there was a home grown point of sale.  It was compiled to run on the Microsoft platform.

When I ask why they had not considered LINUX as an alternative I was laughed at.  Here are the scissors that will cut the thread.

There support desk was equipped with PcAnywhere and each and every call for help meant that a remote session would be placed to assist the person with their machine.  Push come to shove the machine was sent to the Depot where another was sent out as a replacement.  As the hardware evolved some locations had newer equipment.  The variables were mind numbing.

Had they used LINUX a simple telnet session would have allowed the help desk to terminate a daemon and restart it all behind the scene.  Licenses for server software, remote connection software, anti virus software would have been avoided.  The other thing about LINUX is that it is more forgiving of hardware platforms in that they could have used their equipment until it died vs. replacing it when the software dictated it.  This particular CIO had no technical background other than he knew some programming.  He did not embrace technology at all and did not have a computer at his home until his kids wore him down.  Any CIO that does not embrace technology ought not be a CIO.  Oh yes, LINUX is free and the kernel can be hardened so it can be very secure.

How is it that these two people were in the place that they were in?  They were likable! The failure here cleary sits on the CEO or the person they report to.  If I am hiring someone for a position, I don’t care if I like them or not.  They must be able to perform the job that they are being hired for and, if I like them it is a plus, not mandatory!

Ethical hacking is becoming more and more in vogue. The bad guys are out there doing their thing and we simply buy anti virus software and hope for the best.  Some of us don’t do that, we use something that is free or not at all.  Free is not worth what you pay for it when it comes to anti virus software!  Do your homework and see who is touting what and why.

As another add on to the cost center and depending upon your desire to be safe, I would consider hiring a security person who has been around the block a few times.  This is not some kid fresh out of college who is academically savvy but, someone who has the scars on their back to prove that they have been there.

In a nutshell, any connection to the outside world is a portal for the bad guy to get in.  Even if you have a secure firewall you have people on the inside who may be working for the competition.  There are many products that allow a PC to be remote controlled from outside the building.  Some are actually viruses and others are installed by an unwitting employee or worse, a spy.  Software audits are a necessity; not something you do if you have time.  Speaking of which; the anti piracy folks are at it again offering huge rewards if you report someone using business software without a license. Another reason for SAM.

While you may think that I am paranoid (a little paranoia is a good thing btw) I assure you that industrial espionage is real and there are those that do it for a living.  Your security person would be actively monitoring the traffic coming in and leaving the building, looking for anything on ports that are typically used for such things.  Activity during off hours should be a red flag.  There is something called SYSLOG which is basically a service that talks with a server and creates logs of events.  Along with server logs this log should be monitored for unusual activity.

One way a person might gain access to your stuff is to drop a thumb drive or dvd in the parking lot.  Label the dvd X pics or have bunny rabbit ears on the thumb drive.  I would be surprised if someone did not pick it up and stick it into their machine to see what was one it.  Of course it would contain a program that would install a remote control host and the person would never know as he would be too busy looking for pictures.

Physical security is also a must. Keycards with picture ID’s on them would be ideal.  Cheap and effective.  With this you can track employees movements through the day / night.  Along with security cameras if things turned up missing one could read the keycard report and know who it was and where they were and then look at the footage with that timestamp to see if they were carrying anything.

Biometrics are becoming in fashion as well.  While I would want to stay with tried and true I would definitely be monitoring this to see when and if it made sense to move that way.

This scratches the surface and as you can see, security is physical, it is Cyber and it is employee education along with policies.   Any configuration of a user’s machine should be done by IT.  Users should not have any more rights than they need to function.  That allows for protection of your data, declines viruses administrative rights as they usually assume the rights of the user and, protects the machine from being altered making more work for the IT department when it breaks or more often than not broken.

A little forethought and planning on the IT department can help them to run lean on employees as well as protect the company’s assets.

The statement is an excellent ingress into the last thing that needs addressing.

More times than I can write about I find that data centers are a cobbled together disaster waiting for some event to push them over the edge.  There is a web site dedicated to such things and if I had had a mind to, I could have created such a site like that with just what I have seen.

Along with hardware management and software management a strong dialogue needs to exist between the CEO and the CIO.  Business needs and or possible needs to be accounted for and anticipated.   Looking back at the past one could extrapolate what may be needed into the future and at least make plans for growth.  A robust well thought out network that is well managed and maintained is a crucial starting point.

I could write on entire book on what that means but, what it does not mean are knee jerk throw it together solutions “because we needed it yesterday!”  Any change might effect some other part of the business and or company or have unintended side effects.  If they don’t have one I stress the importance of change management.  This is crucial to the success of just about any company with technology.

Proper consideration should be given to each and every device and or software that is to be installed.

Parting thoughts:

There is no room for emotions in Information systems. Emotions cloud judgment and, judgment is crucial for success.

You do not hire or fire someone because you find them likable or distasteful. Either they are well qualified and have a well defined track record or they don’t.  The rest does not matter unless they are insubordinate or are deemed unfit. They are not your friend and don’t think that they are.

Never hire anyone that you cannot fire.  Family and friends even if the company is ok with it are a liability as employees. At best they will be a burden upon yourself, and at worst you will loose them as friends and they might compromise your job.

Surround yourself with people that are smarter than you, you will be well served.

Keep your ego in check as it will defeat you.  Humility will allow you to “hear” from those that probably know what you are seeking.

When you get in too deep, call for help; admitting trouble is always preferable than suffering defeat because of pride.

There is never any case for listening to or passing on rumors.  Small people talk about people, others talk about ideas and things.

Your employees and vendors job is to make you look good; your job is to make them look good.

-Best to you and those that you care about!