January 27, 2007

Why?

It seems that someone is jamming satellite signals over in Europe.

Paris-based satellite company Eutelsat is investigating "unidentified interference" with its satellite broadcast services that temporarily knocked out several television and radio stations. The company declined to say whether it thought the interference was accidental or deliberate.

They give no indication what kind of programming was jammed, maybe it was a CSPAN like deal and someone got tired of watching politicians blathering.

Theresa Hitchens of the Center for Defense Information think-tank in Washington DC, US, says there have been cases of deliberate satellite jamming in the past, but it is hard to see what motivation there would be in this instance.

"It's really puzzling to me," she told New Scientist. "If it was accidental, why would they be so secretive about saying what the source was and if it's deliberate, you've got to wonder why – it just seems to me to be an odd target, unless someone's ticked off at the French," she says.

Considering the tremendous number of things that could be causing the interference, I can't imagine why she's so puzzled. She did name off a few reasons for the jamming, but I'm willing to speculate on a couple of other reasons.

It might be a test. After all, if you want to jam signals and you build equipment to do just that... you need to test it out. First to see if it works, next to see if you can be traced while doing it. What easier way to test it than on some innocuous television programming.

Or it could be that someone within the organization screwed up big time and knocked them off the satellite. In order to cover this up, they aren't going to say anything. It's possible they might be fined or something for messing up the signal themselves. Or whoever is spending money to advertise with them or support them - might ask for a refund if it was disclosed that they did it themselves.

The second scenario seems far more plausible. As always - follow the money and you can find most all your answers.

I think we should keep an eye on this. Just in case it is someone who hates the French. Can they be taken off the air altogether? Only time will tell.

Hat Tip Instapundit

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January 17, 2007

Could Jack Bauer Make It Talk?

Only the hard drive will know for sure.

Although I bet Chloe could persuade it to give up all its secrets, it claims resistance to Jack-like forces.

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January 11, 2007

Want To Make A Point?

This is not the way to do it.

January 10, 2007 -- Two men have been charged with illegal computer access after they allegedly hacked into the Los Angeles city traffic center to turn off traffic lights at four intersections last August.

The two men, both engineers with the city's Automated Traffic Surveillance Center, accessed city computers on the morning of Aug. 21, and were able to turn off signal control boxes just hours before a job action by city engineers, the LA district attorney said in a statement released late last week.

Oh yeah, this will really garner some sympathy for your cause. This will get every motorist in the city right in your corner... right?

What is it with people, especially on the West Coast, in some of the worst traffic around the country, trying to make their point by screwing things up even more? Why do they think this will work in their favor?

I'm thinking these two figured they were being very clever. I'm sure they thought that no one would be able to figure out who did it and how. Because they had to know the penalty if they were caught. (then again this is California, they might have thought they'd get a wrist slap and be sent to sit in time out for a few hours)

Of course they failed to realize that there are some pretty smart people out there (probably some who were caught in the resulting traffic jams) with a vested interest in finding the perpetrators and making sure they got justice served up to them.

The accused were able to bar other city employees from accessing the computer system to put the lights back online. No accidents were reported, but it took four days to fix the city's traffic control system, the statement said.

Four days! It took that long to fix the problem created by these two super hacker geniuses. I wonder if they knew they'd cause that much trouble with their little prank, or if this is something that got out of control.

Now the next time you hear someone from computer security telling you that a system is vulnerable, remember the fairly innocuous traffic light problem and the difficulty in fixing it. Then take a moment to think about what a hacker could do to your system and with your data. Maybe it's worth some extra hassle to lock things up a little tighter. Or, you could, like most everyone else in the world, say... "it will never happen here." I'm quite sure they thought the same thing in LA.

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January 08, 2007

Geek Blogging...

I did some closet blogging, which is about as domestic as I want to get right now. When all else fails, go geek. Therefore, I'll blather a bit about my computer - the old one.

I have a 5 year old computer that I am not using at the moment (the hard drive is loud and the whine makes me want to take a fireplace poker to it). So, it sits there, turned off for the most part. Well, this just seems to be wrong and I think I need to tinker with it.

Up until now, my boss and I haven't been able to come up with a flavor of Linux that we could put to good use as desktop replacements for Windows. The terminal emulator we prefer using only runs on Windows.

Other flavors of this particular terminal emulator are ridiculous and I wouldn't consider using them for prolonged periods of time... there was even one that wouldn't maximize!!! When I called the company that wrote the software to ask why that was... they said customers preferred it that way!!! I told them that I didn't and they had lost a sale because I can't work with teeny screens. I refuse. I want max view when I work - period! (Oddly enough this is the same company that wrote the software for the terminal emulator we currently use... go figure)

Recently I was reading this article and recognized some of the issues we've been running across in an effort to upgrade systems. This problem will only get worse as far as I can see. Microsoft has gotten so paranoid about pirating, it's impossible to change anything on a computer without big time hassles, if you can even get it to work at all. In a small company like ours, that's a huge problem.

We decided that my old machine would be perfect for downloading and testing Ubuntu Linux a flavor that is supposed to be more desktop friendly (in other words, may not need all the tinkering other versions need in order to run nicely). Also, Wine, which basically allows you to run software written for Windows on Unix type boxes, has hopefully come far enough along so the terminal emulator will work.

I've got a CD burned and ready to install - there's only one problem... The CD drive on my old computer has decided to fail completely. Now it won't even open. I knew it didn't write - hasn't for quite a while, but it has always been able to read CDs. Wouldn't you know, just when I want it to read something interesting - it fails. (although Windows tells me that it is functioning properly... sure thing)

Tomorrow I'll be off to buy a cheap-o CD reader. Then I'll have to take the box apart and install it. Barrels of laughs. I figure this will require at least 2 fingers in bandages by the time I get done, at least on hour to figure out how the box opens again, and maybe one or 2 bits lost that can't be found. Of course I'm not holding my breath on this one. We have yet to get a Linux flavor that we feel comfortable putting out there for the less techy people to use, even if the emulator worked. Too much of a learning curve for some of the people who need to use it.

Stay tuned. I know you'll be hanging out here waiting to see what happened. At the rate I'm going and the rate I'm blogging, we might know by the end of the week.

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