obligatory obscure reference

self-deprecating yet still self-promotional witty comment


Yet another test post

Filed under: Random and Pleasing — jet @ 21:40

trying BlogJet from my win7 tablet.

handwriting ->blog might kick ass.


shapeways store is open!

Filed under: Random and Pleasing — jet @ 22:18

You can buy the 2M ground plane antenna mount at my shapeways store.

Currently I’m testing a cradle for the NookColor, expect to see it for sale in another week or two.


hey 90s sf goth/industrial peoples

Filed under: Random and Pleasing — jet @ 20:41

I found a box of flyers and I’m not afraid to scan them. Posting a few a week in this flickr group.


stuff I’ve been up to

Filed under: Hacking,Metalworking,Random and Pleasing — jet @ 19:03

I’ve been really focused on the paying work (which is all NDA), so I haven’t much to post lately.

However, this is kinda cool, my Makerbeam kit finally showed up:

makerbeam beta kit!

..and I’m already using it to make temporary brackets for stepper motors:

first makerbeam project


Google Street View vs. Your Privacy

Filed under: Hacking,Random and Pleasing — jet @ 20:57

In the middle of dealing with the permit process to build a deck off of our house, I read about the little oopsie Google had with collecting network data while running Street View.

It took me less than one minute to come up with some great ways to “monetize” Google Street View data by selling it to:

  • local government code-enforcement units so they can issue fines for building without a permit
  • repair/building contractors buying images of “all houses with old gutters” or “all houses with peeling paint”
  • law enforcement agencies looking for pot growers (cf. electric bills triggering search warrants)
  • security consultants / network security software firms selling fixes for things like unpatched software or open networks

You now have one minute to come up with other ideas, GO!


obligatory lost prototype iPhone post

Filed under: Hacking,Random and Pleasing,Reverse Engineering — jet @ 10:03

I pretty much agree with the entire daring fireball writeup except for one bit:

Admittedly, it would be very hard to get someone on the phone at Apple who would know what a device such as this one is. Apple, like most large companies, deliberately makes it difficult for consumers to reach (non-retail) employees. There is no lost prototype hotline.

True, there’s no “lost prototype hotline”, but it’s pretty easy to get ahold of Apple. I bet any one of these would have worked just fine:

  • Walk into any Apple store and ask the manager how to get a lost prototype back to Cupertino.
  • Post to twitter: “Hey Apple, I think I found a lost prototype. How do I return it to Cupertino?”
  • Go to Apple’s website, click on the “Contact Us” link, scroll down to “Apple Public Relations”, dial the toll-free number and explain what you found.

It’s not rocket surgery, people.


Come Visit Us at Frostburn 2009

Filed under: Random and Pleasing — jet @ 02:06

Frostburn is a “regional burn”, where local Burning Man types get together for a Burning Man style event. Frostburn is one of the few, if only, regional burns where survival is as much of an issue as it is in Black Rock City. Last year, temperatures were in the teens to the 20s and keeping warm was as important as keeping hydrated is on the playa.

We’ll be there again this year, with another Iced Tea event featuring the newly resurrected Colordome.

Join us, won’t you? I promise it will be more fun than being stuck in a lift line in some random crappy sky resort.

[tags]burning man, frostburn, geodesic domes[/tags]


Not completely AWOL

Filed under: Random and Pleasing — jet @ 13:53

…just working on other, not-so-geeky things and posting about them in my design journal.

However, I got my hands on a Hitatchi HM55B, so maybe I can play with that over the weekend when nobody’s looking.


Protecting Your Company or Laying Blame?

Filed under: Random and Pleasing — jet @ 21:29

Ask yourself — what’s the point of your company’s security mechanisms and processes? Which ones are about security, and which ones are about legal coverage or shifting blame to another entity in the event of a breach?

The other day I wanted to wire some money to pay for a motorcycle I was buying from an individual. I went into the local branch of my brokerage and initiated the wire transfer paperwork. I showed them my Driver’s License and my US Passport as secondary ID, I knew the answers to the various secret questions about my account and past activity, but there was a problem.

Because the amount was over a certain threshold (quite small, in my opinion) my signature on the form had to be notarized. Never mind that I signed it in front of them, that my signature matched my ID, and that they’d photocopied my ID, I had to have a notary public stamp and sign the signature form.

What did the notary public do? They looked at my ID, pulled out a different form that I didn’t have to sign, stamped that form, and took my $10 payment. They couldn’t stamp the original form because there was no space for a notary stamp and they are only allowed to use that space on an original form.

What benefit does the brokerage gain from this little LARP quest to meet someone and go through a simple ritual? After I returned with the notarized second sheet of paper, we even changed information on the original form — I’d written down the wrong bank name for the payee and forgotten to fill in the date. They didn’t verify the notary name and signature before accepting my form, they just clipped it all together and started the wire transfer.

My guess is this had little to do with proving that I was who I said I was — it was pretty clear from both of my IDs and my knowledge of random facts about the account that I was the account holder. It’s my opinion that it was about covering their legal ass if there was ever a charge of fraud down the road (“My twin brother did it, it wasn’t me!”). The agents didn’t validate my ID, they relied upon a (supposedly) trustworthy third party, so if there’s fraud, it’s not their fault.

I wonder if the person who thought up this protocol realizes how easy it is to fake something like a notary stamp and signature — they’re trivial compared to a US Passport or state Driver’s License. If the fraud is going to involve more than a few grand, why would I let one more forgery stop me? Think about it — if I know enough about the person I’m ripping off to answer all the secret questions and fake a US Passport and Driver’s License, I can probably manage faking the notary stamp as well.

Do I feel better about my account security thanks to this little waste of time? Nope. I just feel $10 poorer and a bit guilty that I paid the seller a day later than I said I would.

[tags]security theater[/tags]


Pittsburgh gets spy cameras, London decides they don’t work

Filed under: Pittsburgh,Random and Pleasing,Rants — jet @ 20:10

It looks like Pittsburgh is going to take $2.6 million in federal funds (aka “taxpayer money”) to deploy surveillance cameras around the city.

Meanwhile, London has discovered after spending 200 million pounds (US $300 million) of taxpayer money that surveillance cameras aren’t that useful:

“A comparison of the number of cameras in each London borough with the proportion of crimes solved there found that police are no more likely to catch offenders in areas with hundreds of cameras than in those with hardly any.”

So, why is city government so ready to waste taxpayer money to spy on law abiding citizens? Is it because it’s “someone else’s money”, aka federal tax dollars? Is it so they look like they’re doing something to solve local crimes in the future rather than deal with the current crime probem?

[tags]crime, Pittsburgh, suveillance[/tags]

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