For those of you who may be interested

battery

The new battery from newer technology that’s in my computer is working out very nicely.

As they said on their web site, it took several charge / recharge cycles to get the full runtime out of the battery.

Not that there wasn’t immediate improvement after the replacement. Initially my runtime went to 5 hours, now we’re at about 7. Obviously that depends on what I’m doing.

The time will vary. But I’ve noticed a couple of other interesting things.  Microsoft Word is pretty energy efficient. BBEdit is also very frugal on its power usage. With a little experimentation I’ve found that I can stay on battery easily most of a standard workday, all I have to do is choose which apps I’m running carefully. For example, do I need to have Safari opening to an automatically refreshing news page while I’m working on other things? Nope! Do I need the full power of Word, when all I’m doing is scribbling down some notes that I’ll later fold into a larger document? Nope!

In spite of the frustrations and challenges, I’d call the battery fiasco, a win. I’ve learned some things and am more active in my power management.

Prod merc aura pro express6g12 envoy

I’d love to test the claims of OtherWorld Computing regarding their 1 Terabyte solid state drive. They claim that the drive uses less power and is faster than the drive that came with my computer. I’m just not ready to pony up $450 to put their claims to the test.

The funniest thing about my desire for a bigger drive, is the staggering capacity that still remains on my current drive.

I clearly recall when I got appreciative “Ooos and ahhs” because I had a 486 Class PC with 80 MB of hard drive storage.

Now I’m looking at my remaining hard drive space, 150 GB and thinking, “Wow, I don’t have much space left.”

For that matter, I remember my first laptop got an astounding 2 hours of runtime on a charge. Now a two hour runtime signals the need for battery replacement.

It’s interesting, how our perceptions change.

 

Just some food for thought…

JROppenheimer LosAlamos

I wasn’t planning on another piece about Apple v. The FBI. But here goes…

For all those pundits, wags, celebrities, politicians, and now Rabbis speaking out and telling Apple that they should decrypt the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone, I submit this.

Apple is apparently applying the thought Robert Oppenheimer had after he helped create the atomic bomb.

When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and you argue about what to do about it only after you have had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.
– J. Robert Oppenheimer

I believe this quote is often paraphrased to;

Just because you CAN do a thing, doesn’t necessarily mean you SHOULD do a thing.

I’ve lived my life using that paraphrase as a test for certain actions. I look at it as a cautionary signpost for all scientists and researchers.

Project t virus by linkin368 d3gt57g

Just because you can modify the DNA of influenza to deliver a genetic update to all the people of the world… should you? What about murphy’s law? Can you really limit the unintended consequences? 

OR is it simply better to recognize that never creating the technology is the best course of action?

Thumb01m

All these people saying Apple should crack the phone, have no idea what they’re talking about. It’s not an easy task, even for Apple. Cracking encryption isn’t what you see in the movies. 

You don’t just plug a widget into a port, have some dialog about how cool you are and then hear a beep as the NSA computers start spilling all their information onto your impossibly small storage device.

At this point it’s unclear if the iPhone in question is using something as simple as a 4 digit code. It’s likely, but depending on the IOS version being used, the phone could be locked using a phrase.

If there’s a passphrase the odds of success hacking it with a brute force attack drop precipitously with each character added to the passphrase length.

James comey fbi

The brute force attack that the FBI is describing is crude and there is no guarantee that if they win in court, forcing Apple to be their bitch, that when they finally get into the phone there won’t be a nasty little application that has encrypted all the files the FBI wants using an entirely different algorithm, from another manufacturer.  If that’s the case, is the FBI going to get another court order? Probably not, because this is about the FBI making an example. Apple just happens to be the biggest target. 

It’s just as likely, this Jihadi fucker was using a messaging application that wiped the messages 5 minutes after they were read.

Federal and state fbi agent

If the guy was at all concerned about security, He probably turned off all the Apple Tracking software, I know I did right after Edward Snowden blew the whistle.

I’m not a criminal, but I value my privacy and am willing to forego my phone being able to tell me where the nearest Häagen-Dazs is, to maintain my privacy.

This means that Apple providing a custom operating system to disables the automatic wipe on the phone and allow unlimited access to the phone’s password system is likely not going to get the FBI anything more than they already have based on cell tower records.

By the way, because of the number of towers in the San Bernardino area, cell tower data can pinpoint the movements of this Jihadi asshole to within a couple hundred feet or less.

The NSA Actually Has A Program Called SKYNET

So the FBI is lying right from the get-go, when they say they want access to the phone so they can figure out where this Jihadi and his diseased rancid whore of a wife, were before, during the shooting, and after. 

The cell tower records would already provide that information and if the guy turned off his phone while visiting some nefarious underworld figure. Or dropped it in a Faraday bag or cage…

LOKSAK SHIELDSAK Flexible Fabric Faraday Cage Anti RF Protective Bag RF Fortress Radio Frequency Camouflage NDIA SOFIC 2014 David Crane DefenseReview com DR 10

Then the FBI would still get nothing from the phone because at that point the phone would have been cut off from the cell tower or any GPS information and likewise wouldn’t have been able to transmit any of that information.

But we know that the FBI has nine OTHER phones they want to force Apple to help them unlock. 

Apple icon apple

The problem here is that Apple has never created the software to unlock or hack their devices.

Why should they?

Apple tells you, “don’t lose your password, we cant help you if you do.”

So they have a secure device, and they can insure the device’s security because they’ve never created any software to undo their encryption or their locking mechanism.

Just because you CAN do a thing, doesn’t necessarily mean you SHOULD do a thing.

Achmed

Dear Apple customer… “If you loose your password, you can wipe the phone and start over. We strongly recommend you have the data backed up. Apple provides the iCloud service for this purpose.“

It’s recently come to light, that the FBI ordered the San Bernardino County IT department to change the password on the iCloud account and therefore broke a link that could, with Apple’s help, have gained access to the phone.

Now the FBI wants to use a court order to force Apple to UNFUCK their fuckup. But that’s not the end game.

The end game is that the FBI wants to force manufacturers to build government backdoors into all devices. 

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The FBI is using “terrifying terrorists” and criminals, to spook congress and the courts into passing legislation that mandates government access be built into all machines. They and their supporters are using the time honored B.S. line;

For the safety and security of the public…” or that old favorite “We do this for THE CHILDREN

I’m not sure I believe in the slippery slope argument but I do think it’s a very short walk to losing rights that we’ll never get back.

That walk begins with statements that start out, “It’s worth losing a little privacy, or freedom, or changing the laws, or, or, or,  for safety.” see; The Patriot Act

 When I see our government behaving this way, and I hear people saying, “it’s just a little invasion,” I can’t help but think of the poem The Hangman.


I could see a time in the future when it’s illegal for you not to have your phone on your person.

After all, the government would only want to keep track of your movements and communications to insure your safety… Right?

Back doors in our devices are, I think just a stepping stone to full surveillance.

You have nothing to fear, if you have nothing to hide.

Stand with Apple – Go Dark

Apple

Apple is a target plain and simple.

If the US Government succeeds in their ploy to force Apple to create custom code that decrypts the San Bernardino terrorist’s iPhone we all loose.

This is not about the rights of terrorists. Put a bullet in the brain of all terrorists and let God sort ‘em out. I truly don’t give a flying fuck about some Muslim asshole that should’ve been turned around at the border. I’m honestly surprised that they even can use a smart phone isn’t there some fatwa saying followers of Islam must remain in the 12th century?

Tim Cook

Anyhoo…

This fight between Apple and the Government is about access and control. For over a year we’ve been hearing the FBI telling us they don’t like encryption. The NSA doesn’t like it either and with good reason. They can’t spy on average citizens and don’t even dare to think that’s not exactly what they want to do.

idiots happen

Last night on the news I heard average people being interviewed saying stuff like “Well if it’s to fight terrorists it’s worth giving up a little freedom and privacy.”

To those people I say this.

YOU’RE MORONS!

Emperor Ming

The same argument was made right after 9/11, and that gave us The Patriot Act which is by the way still in effect.

Some of the more sinister things about the Patriot act are the scope of Presidential power, the ability to indefinitely detain a citizen without due process, and the unprecedented scope of surveillance that is now permitted.

Remember how pissed off everyone was about the Edward Snowden revelations? How we found out that the NSA was recording all kinds of information from our phones? Yeah, that’s what comes from giving up just “a little freedom and privacy.”

Edward Snowden.

Apple can’t fight this fight alone. Even Apple and Google together can’t fight this fight.

We’ve gotta help.

We do that by going dark.

You can buy encryption from a variety of vendors.

But you can find some excellent encryption for free if you go looking for it. Open source encryption is pretty robust.

VPN

Encrypt everything you own. All your drives, all your files stored in the cloud. Then find a VPN service that you like and think you can trust, if they’re European even better.

Make sure that their data is end to end encrypted and use the service all the time on every device you own. 

It’s not just about taking a stand. If your information is encrypted, then it’s a lot harder for bad guys to get their hands on personal data that could be used to hurt you.

Encrypt

Make it a cause. 

#godarkforprivacy
#godarkforapple

The only way we keep our rights and privacy to to defend those rights and privacy vigorously.

Thats my public service announcement for the day.

Obviously I’m missing something.

La me ln apple san bernardino security 2016021 001

The FBI went to a judge and apparently whined they couldn’t access the data in one of the San Bernardino Terrorist’s phones. 

A Judge ordered Apple to assist the FBI.

Apple responded that the programming doesn’t exist (by design) which would allow even them (Apple) to break into the phone.

Then Trump gets in on the action and says we need to get the information on that phone.

To which I say;

NO WE DON’T

I’d like to tell Trump to be quiet and let the adults talk.

Just because the information happens to exist on a phone, doesn’t mean that we have to access it. If the data were written on paper that had been burned, the FBI wouldn’t have access to it would they? Data locked on a phone is essentially the same.

The FBI does have other phones belonging to the San Bernardino Terrorists. They have access to all the bills and phone records of calls made to and from each of the phones in question.

Along with that information the FBI no doubt has access to all the text messages, or at least the source and destination phone numbers associated with those text messages. Just as I have that information for SMS messages printed on my cell phone bill every month.

What the FBI doesn’t have is information that may have been sent from that iPhone 5C to other iPhones, iPads, or Macs. This is because the information was sent via data channels instead of via SMS.

To quote another famous phrase, “What does it matter at this point anyway?

The FBI has the terrorist’s computers, the odds are damn high that any communications carried out on the phone were replicated on the computers.  These terrorists are dead on the pavement, they’ve been disavowed by ISIS, Al Qaeda, and the Taliban. 

This strikes me as nothing more than an end run around the issues of encryption by the FBI. 

Apple doesn’t have the software to break into the phone, because creation of that software would eventually mean that the software would get out. After all we all know how secure Data at the Office of Personnel Management was. How about the IRS data? Or the Healthcare.GOV data? Or, Or, Or…

Once a program capable of cracking the encryption on an iPhone or Samsung phone is out in the world, no-one has privacy.

This is the fundamental argument Tim Cook of Apple has been making all along.

Apple is very explicit in their encryption warnings on their computers. If you loose this password and you don’t have a recovery key we can’t help you. My computer’s drive is encrypted, I have the key stored and I know the password. But I don’t expect Apple to be able to decrypt my drive, or my iPhone, or my iPad. Even if I was stupid enough to loose or forget the passwords…

I don’t want Apple to be able to decrypt my stuff ever!

Beyond that is this point.

MIT recently reported there were something like 586 different encryption programs freely available from a variety of sources. So even if Apple compromises it’s principals (I hope to God they don’t) Criminals will simply choose an alternative encryption technique.

When that happens, what’s the FBI going to do? Bitch, piss, and moan their way into making a manufacturer in Switzerland, for example build them a backdoor?  If that day comes I’d be curious to see the response the FBI gets.

According to the LA Times article Farook disabled the icloud backup 6 weeks prior to the attack. It’s entirely likely that Farook disabled the GPS function and deleted messages as well. So even if the FBI gains access, it’s questionable if there will be any useful data recovered.

Regardless, the damage done to American privacy will be done.

At the Neighborhood watch meeting the other night…

Shooter

There was a very informative “Active Shooter” presentation by the Sheriff’s department, complete with a pump shotgun being fired outside the building.

I’d never heard what one of those sounds like if it was outside and I was inside. The sound was far different from what I’d have expected. It was more of a thump-pop and the volume was low enough that if I’d been further away I might not have even paid it any attention.

And that’s the point of training isn’t it? It’s one thing to hear the sound of a rifle, shotgun, or handgun when you’re the one firing it with ear and eye protection. It’s quite a different thing to be inside a building, hearing the shots outside or coming from another building.

runhidefight

The officers were professional and awesome. I generally like our police, I just wish they’d re-open the substation here in town.  Right now they’re 30 minutes away, so often by the time they get here whatever was going on is already done. The big difference is when the snow players are up then we’ve got a pretty good police presence.

active-shooter-hoodieActive shooters aren’t like average criminals. They’re out to hurt as many people as possible and they’re usually very young. I was shocked that the average age is 16.

Because they’re out to hurt a lot of people, the police are going to engage quickly and will likely not be taking the shooter into custody.  The reason is, Active Shooters often kill themselves or do something that forces the police to shoot them.

If you get an opportunity to attend an Active Shooter presentation I highly recommend it.

Escaping is bestThe main take-aways for me were confirmation that what I’d already been doing, was in fact prudent not paranoid.

1) Note exits (In fire, attack, flood, earthquake, etc. it’s a good idea to know which direction is likely to get you out of harms way.)

2) Plan (Run a quick scenario of how you’d get to an exit in an emergency. Don’t dwell on it, just note obstacles, and realize the closest exit may not be the “Best” exit.)

3) In an Active Shooter situation you’ve got three options. a) Exit / Escape, b) Hide / Shelter in place, c) Fight.

The thing I liked about the presentation was that the officers covered all three of the options in a pragmatic realistic way. They didn’t dwell on Islam, or Schools, or allow the training be taken off into the merits of concealed carry.

They simply discussed what is known about Active Shooters. And gave some tips that may be helpful in surviving an event if you were to ever find yourself in a shitty situation.

EvacuateThey talked about how to behave if you’ve been able to evacuate and come face to face with a group of armed officers entering the building. Easy answer… HANDS UP! Fingers spread, and do exactly what the officers tell you to do.

Don’t fight, argue, or bitch about it. These folks have no freaking idea what they’re walking into and have no idea if you’re the good guys or bad guys.  That was useful to me because I’d be worried about running out of a building and spooking an officer then getting shot because I didn’t know what I was supposed to do.

Baracade

If you’re hiding / sheltering in place, get into a space that can be locked. Turn off the lights and your phone sound makers, and be quiet. It seems that Active Shooters get into a predatory mode. So don’t attract their attention in any way.

Shooters will typically pass by locked or barricaded doors because their goal is to hurt a lot of people. If a space looks empty and the door isn’t easily opened they’re not going to waste time, they’re going to look for obvious and easy targets.

Runhidefight

If you’ve got no choice FIGHT!  And when fighting your aim is to KILL you are fighting for your life and possible the life of your loved ones. All bets are off, there are no Queensbury rules.

Curb stomp the fucker if you can, severely fuck him up if you have the opportunity.  This person is no longer a person. Something inside them is horribly broken and there is no reasoning with them. Don’t try talking, don’t negotiate, they’re not going to hear you.

Dylan ThomasRemember almost anything in the local environment can be used as a weapon. A heavy object swung with intent and force can do enough blunt force damage that the threat is neutralized.

The police were very clear, leaving is the first, best option.

Not getting into a situation is even better. If something looks strange, or someone is behaving strangely it’s not paranoid or un-politically correct to report it.

A person might be acting strangely because they’re having a medical event. Think about this, the sooner that person gets medical help, the less likely whatever is happening will kill them. If on the other hand someone is acting strangely because they’re about to snap, then police intervention sooner rather than later may well stop a massacre.

02-053625-active_shooter_reported_in_san_bernardino_caEither way, the right people get on scene to handle a situation.

The thing they left unsaid and that I inferred is after you’ve reported the issue, either person or unattended bag, purse, backpack, package, etc. Leave the area.

This ties into my “Time to leave the party” instinct.

There are times when things are starting to get out of hand, at a party, or event, and I’ll just head to the exit. It’s not that I’m chicken (I do have a well honed sense of self preservation), I just don’t want to be involved in someone else’s drama. I may stick around if the drama involves someone I genuinely like or care about.

Generally if someone has issues, those issues aren’t my concern and I have zero desire to be sucked into the insanity.

So if I’m at a shopping center, or company party, or restaurant, and some craziness walks in the front door, I’m walking out the back, before the crazy spreads or the shooting starts.

The point is not to live in fear, and not to be paranoid.

The point is, be actively aware of what’s going on around you. Have an awareness of your surroundings and have a sketched out plan of what to do if, God Forbid, there is some kind of emergency.

In view of all the information the police were presenting, I suddenly flashed on the whole New Years Eve debacle.  On the one hand I was glad to have the police verify that my normal operating behavior wasn’t insane or paranoid.

On the other hand, I’d have loved to have the dumbass that kept repeatedly telling me I was a fearful paranoid dumbshit, duct-taped to a chair being forced to listen to this presentation. I’d like to do that only because I wonder how long it would take before his head exploded.

Then again, people like him would serve as distraction while I make like Elvis and… leave the building.

New Tools, New Battery! Yay!

I finally found a company (American) who gave me a straight answer on my computer battery compatability. I ordered the battery they were selling, they tossed in the tools and shipped it free.

Cool!

apple-macbook-air-13-a1369-a1466-replacement-battery-a1405-original-6664-p_4
The Macbook Air 13 Battery

I get the battery today. GREAT response time.

So I power down my computer, then using their tool I unscrew 5 of the 10 screws on the bottom of my computer. On the sixth screw the tool rounded off the splines and was no longer useful to remove or re-install the screws I’ve got neatly sorted on my counter.

$%^#@$%^$@!!!! I hate cheap tools!

This tool is fairly specialized so it’s not like I can run to the local Radio Shack and buy it. The tool they sent is obviously made in China, it’s got the battery company’s logo on it and is made with some kind of metal that I could probably melt with a match.

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The Screw

NOW WHAT?

I don’t want to use my computer with half the screws removed, primarily because I started on the end of my machine where the board, network card, and SSD hard drive are mounted.

I didn’t know if the screws I’d removed were intergral to holding those components in place. (Turns out they weren’t but I wasn’t sure.)

The Tool
The Tool

So I grab my iPad and start searching for the tool. Hmm, Frys carries it. My ususal store didn’t have one. I expand the search and am fully prepared to drive to El Segundo or the San Fernando Valley, if necessary. As luck would have it, the Frys in Industry had ONE, only one.

A sonic boom was heard as I left my home. Actually this is neat, it’s the first time I’ve ever had reason to go to this particular Frys.

Some of you may not know this… I love tools, (no, that doesn’t convey it, I’m a tool WHORE.)

I love having the “right tool” for the job. What this means is that I left Frys with more than just the Pentalobe driver I actually needed.

Years ago I had an absolutely awesome tool kit. I lost that kit in a fire and have been slowly rebuilding a new kit with good quality tools.

(I had great quality electronic tools in the kit I lost. I built that kit over about 3 years, by keeping a list of, “Gee it’d be nice to have a blank”.)

My current kit is built much the same way and while not complete yet, has a decent collection of good quality tools in it.

After spending way too much time shopping in the tool aisle I’m on the freeway heading home. 3 hours later I arrive. LA traffic is unbelievable 24/7 nowadays.

With the proper tool in hand, (a nice case hardened steel affair with a comfort grip,) the remaining five screws came right out.

Inside a Macbook Air
Inside a Macbook Air

The bottom of my machine came off, exposing the battery and components of my machine.

Five more screws, this time Torx; one last connector and the old battery was sitting on the counter.

While I had the computer open, I cleaned dust out of the fan, and cleaned the intake vents. A little Preventative Maintenance never hurt anyone!

The new battery was a perfect fit. So again, using my nice new tools I screwed everything back into place.

Now I’m in a twelve hour battery charge cycle, tomorrow I’ll discharge the battery fully and then we’ll see how much longer this new beast will last. The capacity is slightly larger than the original battery. I have no idea how that will affect the run time on my machine.

The old battery had gotten to the point that I was only getting about 1.5 to 2 hours on a charge.

When the machine was new I’d get 6 hours before needing to recharge.

All told, replacing the battery probably cost me almost $200 bucks. (I could have had Apple do it for $129) But I got new tools (Yay!) And when I get ready to upgrade my hard drive it should be a snap!

I’m counting it as a win.