Saturday, April 12, 2014

Ostrich Killer Cyber Security Tips

Your Online Security

Not a day goes by without the news carrying some story about a breach of cyber security.  That's security of any device you have that uses either cell phone connections or the internet.

You probably have concerns about that.  What's on your computer / tablet / phone that you wouldn't want the universe in general and your friends and family in particular to see?  Anything?  

Are you working on a novel?  Do you want someone else to finish it and publish it before you do?

And what about those stupid pictures?  Or those diary entries?  Or your password list? Copies of your tax returns?  Other financial data?

You probably have your own concerns about some of the files on your computer.  You probably also have an old computer laying around somewhere.  So what's the simplest way to protect yourself?

Your Ostrich Killer has a list of simple things you can do.

1.  If you have a Windows-based computer, download and install Microsoft Security Essentials from microsoft.com onto your networked computer.  It's free.
2.  Dredge that old computer out of your closet and dust it off.  Turn it on, see that it still works, but do NOT connect it to any network.  Using the Network Manager in your 'My Computer' link, disable all network devices on that old computer.  
3.  Transfer ALL your files - documents, spreadsheets, tax returns, diaries, etc - anything you've created, in other words - to that old computer,using a USB stick or SD card.  Do NOT use a shared drive!  This old computer probably has older software.  Good news: most programs are file-compatible backwards.  That means if you're running, say, Office 2010 on your 'new' computer, the files you've created will still work in Office 2007 on your old computer.  If you're uncertain, save those files on your 'new computer' in a file format compatible with your old computer's software before you transfer the files.  It's a good policy to set your file format saving defaults on all software to be at least one generation older than the software supports.
4.  Once you've accomplished this file transfer, do all your work from now on using this old computer.  If you want to send a file you've created on your old computer out to the internet somewhere, copy it to a USB stick and transfer it to your 'new' computer, then send it.
5.  It goes without saying that you need to set your computer to automatically lock itself after a few moments - I use 2 minutes - of inactivity so that you will have to log in to use it.  That will help keep curious passers-by honest.  Nothing keeps an honest man honest like the inability to be dishonest.

Pretty simple, yes?  But there are catches, obvious ones:
1. Email and browsing and searching and facebooking cannot be kept hack-free by you, because all of them require being on the internet.  You'll have to trust your providers to keep them secure.  Good luck.  BTW, going to the library to use their networked computers will do you little good: you still have to log in to your email or facebook or other accounts.  Once you've done that - well, you get the picture.
2.  That cell phone?  Put nothing on it that you wouldn't want to see on the eleven o'clock news.  Consider using it the same way you used a phone in 1980: leave it at home sitting on your desk.  The world kept going around back then even when you were away from a phone.  It still will.  Good luck.  Oh, a bit of news to some of you: a cell phone, even turned off, can be tracked.  It can be listened to.  It can take pictures.  Its files can be viewed.  Didn't know that?  Now you do.
3.  Tablets are basically worthless unless connected to wifi.  Use them with the same caution you would use your cell phone.  Do NOT buy a tablet that can use cell phone connectivity, for the reasons just outlined above.  Wifi only, and keep that turned off until you want to use it.  Walking into your local tavern, for example, with your tablet's wifi turned on will broadcast to any number of App providers (Angry Birds and others) your location.  You want your habits to be known?  You want your contact list copied?  Some people don't care, others do.  The good news is that both groups get to decide.
4.  All digital devices that connect to a network have provisions for security.  Use them.  You don't want some stranger logging in to your banking app, for example, or email accounts should you forget and leave your device at the tavern.

That leaves one last device to secure:  your car.

What?  Your car?  Yes, indeed.  Does your car have Onstar or a similar, perhaps manufacturer-linked 'service?'  That means you can be tracked even if you leave your cell phone at home.  You can be listened to.  Hell, an ad ran on TV a couple years ago advertising Onstar, where the cops were able to stop a stolen car by calling Onstar and having them disable it.  You like that?  Can you imagine how that could be used in a police state?  That ad quietly disappeared, by the way.  Your navigation system?  Linked to.  Addresses input to the system: linked to.  So my advice, when you buy that next car, is to be hard-nosed about having NO devices in the car that can transmit ANYTHING.  It's a car, after all, not a spy.

The feds understand you value your privacy.  That's why they want to install more sophisticated 'black boxes' on all cars and vehicles.

Good luck.  And now, one last cup of coffee.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Putin's Plan

Reboot the Soviet Union

There it is.  That's his plan.  He has correctly assessed that no one - not the US, not NATO, not the European Union - is willing to do what's necessary to stop him from re-capturing those 14 nations that broke away from the Soviet Union when the Soviet Union fell in 1991.

Put another way, his plan is to conquer 14 sovereign nations, and he is sure no one will stop him.  The worst that will happen is that there will be stern rhetoric, economic sanctions, and maybe even military training exercises in European nations and perhaps an ocean or two.  But nothing more.

How can he be so sure?
2.  He controls the gas / oil aorta of Europe.  If Europe begins to act belligerent, he cuts off their gas. This is why your Ostrich Killer thinks that the takeovers of eastern European countries other than the Ukraine won't get into high gear until November of 2014, when the citizens of Germany and Austria and all those other eastern European  countries will need Russian oil and natural gas for home heating.  His threat: don't intervene unless you want to freeze.  Imagine what the citizens of eastern Europe will choose.
3.  The state of military readiness in those 14 countries is woeful, meaning they cannot meaningfully resist Russian invasions - meaning that the mere threat of such invasion may be enough to topple the still-emerging freedom of those countries.
4.  NATO unwillingness to expedite membership to those Europe-bordering countries that want membership - this out of concern for 'worrying' Russia.

To those Americans who don't know history, take a moment to review the legacy of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain.  Yes, I know that it's futile to remind Americans, most of whom are living proof that all we really learn from history is that we don't learn from history.

In short summary, Putin knows that no one is willing to go to war over any of those 14 countries, so he can safely consider them ripe cherries for the picking.

My second cup of coffee awaits.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

What Happened on MH370?

Connect the Dots

You knew your Ostrich Killer would have to throw in his own interpretation of the events on that vanished airliner, right?  Okay, here goes - using only what we think we know.  Of course, what we think we know comes from sources that have not been especially reliable to date, but it's all we have to work with.

First and probably the most critical of all the information, we have the airliner, which was supposed to be flying a course of North North West to Bejing from Kuala Lumpur, suddenly turn about a hundred and twenty degrees left to a course of West South West.  Passenger airliners aren't supposed to make such huge course changes without first letting the appropriate air traffic control authorities know about it, as well as the reasons for it.  But that communication has not been reported to us and probably therefore did not happen.  Very strange.

Next, an even more illuminating event took place: at least twelve minutes after this unauthorized and puzzling turn, the co-pilot is in routine radio contact with controllers.  He did not comment on the course change or on any on-board or weather-related issues, and signed off with a low-key "All right.  Good night."  Very benign, very humdrum.  Except the aircraft was flying in the wrong direction for reasons that were not explained.  Your Ostrich Killer does NOT believe that the co-pilot, the pilot, and everyone else aboard were unaware that they were on the wrong course.

Which brings us to the next critical event: dramatic altitude changes.  Some reports have the aircraft flying as high as 45,000 feet for a few moments.  One has to wonder why only for a moment to figure that one out: an aircraft in no apparent mechanical difficulty and under the control of skilled pilot(s) gets to 45,000 feet on purpose.  But why do so?  The grim answer:  to kill the passengers by de-pressurizing the aircraft cabin so they would not be any further trouble.  At that altitude the passengers and unnecessary aircrew would die in agony in seconds.

Then the aircraft dives to altitudes reported as low as 5,000 feet and disappears from radar.  But there's another benefit to flying that low - any live people on board can open the doors of the aircraft and work without requiring oxygen.  The bodies can be dumped over the side, lightening the aircraft by over 40,000 pounds.  Now that's a lot of work, but with the aircraft on autopilot any living crew could take their time as the aircraft flies to its pre-planned destination.

But why lighten the aircraft?  Here's the next bit of the information puzzle that I haven't seen addressed on any news reports - the range of a Boeing 777-200ER.  That ER stands for "Extended Range."  We've all seen those circles drawn on maps of the region, with a radius of about 2,500 nautical miles.  Why so little?  The aircraft is rated at a max range of 7,725 nautical miles.  Presumably weather and passenger / cargo loads will reduce that, but it seems safe to say that with a full fuel load - something else we haven't heard anything about on the news - that search radius could easily be expanded to at least 6,000 nautical miles.  That's an area of more than 113,000,000 square nautical miles.  An aircraft would take up about 300 feet of that.

So with a lightened aircraft and plenty of range, what's next in what seems to be a planned series of events?  Speculating, your Ostrich Killer suspects that the aircraft has landed somewhere, been hidden under cover, and is being repainted, adjustments made to its electronic communications systems, refueled and loaded with about 100 tons of high explosives.  Then it will be used as a smart bomb.  Israel has taken defensive measures against this very thing, so their thinking is similar to mine.  So getting an unauthorized 777 into Israeli air space will be hard to do, and the perps have to know this.  That's why your Ostrich Killer thinks the target is somewhere else more lightly defended.

What could be the target?  You can speculate as well as I, using the notorious Google Earth to help you.  Remember, it isn't enough that the target be lightly defended.  There can be no robust air traffic control or air defenses along the route to that target (big oceans provide such routes, as do the north and south poles,) and once close to the target air defense reaction times have to be long enough - or snarled in indecisive decision-making - to be ineffective.  So let your fingers do the route planning to your favorite target and see where you wind up.  Remember, you have as much as 6,000 nautical miles of range capability to play with as you maneuver this fully loaded airliner toward the bulls-eye, so you can duck and dodge with the aircraft to get to your target.  You might want to reduce that range a bit to account for drag-induced lower fuel efficiency at low altitude - necessary to stay off as many radars as possible. 

Depending on where the aircraft is undergoing its preparatory work right now, the target list could include such places as the Vatican (remember the aircrew is muslim,) Buckingham Palace, San Diego, Seattle, Salt Lake City, Washington DC, the new World Trade Center building in New York, an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf - well, the list goes on.  Use your imagination.

A thought on enabling infrastructure: a helpful or conveniently 'blind' government somewhere, with a 12,000 foot runway and a big empty hangar and a strong, sympathetic and zip-lipped workforce would be very helpful.  Can you think of any such governments?  

Yeah, so can I.

Someone is sure to ask "If it's a terrorist action, why hasn't some organization claimed credit?"  The answer may be that only phase 1 of that action is complete.  Phase 2 is re-prepping the aircraft for phase 3.  Phase 3 is the actual attack.  When that is done, someone will claim credit.  But not before.

But what about those photos from space, showing what appears to be debris?  Your Ostrich Killer is no expert, but after seeing those photos I will venture that what appears to be debris could as easily be sunlight glinting off the water - take a look at the whole unaltered photo and see if you don't see a lot of similar reflections in the area.  Or does it look like a catamaran?  Or maybe a couple of shipping containers?

One last very sobering thought:  what if some country has provided a nuke instead of 100 tons of high explosives?

Another cup of coffee now . . .

Friday, February 28, 2014

Another Russian Invastion

Another Czechoslovakia?

Hungary, 1956.  Czechoslovakia, 1968.  Afghanistan, 1979.

And now, in 2014, Ukraine.

What are the lessons?
1.  The Soviet Union is dead, but Russia is still Russia.
2.  Russia can invade and the west will wring their hands and sit on their asses.
3.  It doesn't matter what the nations bordering Russia WANT as their government; it only matters what Russia wants for them to have.
4.  The west can no longer be trusted help any struggle for freedom.
5.  The Russians know this, and are going to take advantage of our Anointed One's foreign policy illiteracy to attempt to rebuild the Soviet empire.  Ukraine is the breadbasket of Europe - so where better to start?
6.  Our Charismatic Ruler and his Alfred E. Neuman-like lickspittle enablers will continue to disarm America unilaterally, without regard to global threats, to below pre-WW2 levels so that even if we'd like to help, we won't be able to.  Even the defense of our shores and cities may not be feasible soon.

I'm beginning to believe our founding fathers fatally over-estimated the intelligence of the American electorate.  The evidence is overwhelming.

I need another cup of coffee.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Late Night Talk Shows Suck

JIMMY FALLON OUT OF HIS DEPTH

Now that your Ostrich Killer has watched Jay Leno's replacement for a few nights, I can save you the trouble of tuning in.  The show is just another far left drug and homo-friendly Obama-fawning propaganda-thru-humor platform for the extreme left.  Don't waste your time.

You will never hear deprecatory jokes about anything left now.  Jay Leno, at least, was balanced in this regard - he joked about everyone.  But NBC is a body and soul slave to Obama, and Leno was known to take some well-place shots at Obama through humor.  So Leno had to go.  You can't poke fun at the Glorious Leader.

Don't expect that that sort of humor from Fallon.

So no more late night talk shows for me.  I'm sick of having what I believe being misrepresented and joked about.  

I guess it's what we all should have expected.  People who grow up at the bosom of the entertainment industry come out the way Fallon and Letterman have.  Brain dead.

Coffee time.  Then nap so that I can be ready for late night re-runs of Duck Dynasty and Blue Bloods.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

BENGHAZI AGAIN

Where Are the Survivors?

Has anyone heard from a single one of the people who survived the attack on Benghazi?

Does anyone know where even one of these survivors is?

Has there been testimony from a single one of them before a Congressional committee of any sort?

Does anyone even know the names of a single one of the survivors?

Doesn't it seem logical that some of these survivors should have said SOMETHING to SOMEONE?

If you are a relative or friend of any of these people, do you know where they are?  And have you been contacted by any federal entity about them?  Drop me a line if you know.

I heard the other day, from one of those frothing-at-the-mouth wild-eyed right wing radical radio hosts, that FEMA is building 'camps' complete with guard towers and barbed wire.

DHS (Department of Homeland Security) has ordered about 2 billion rounds of ammunition and 2,700 mine-resistant personnel carriers.

Neither DHS nor FEMA is constrained by Posse Comitatus laws.


Finally, ask yourself the basic question of who benefits from silencing the survivors.  Remember that His Imperial Majesty has not accounted for his whereabouts nor his decisions, if any, during that situation, and that Hillary was his Secretary of State and involved up to her eyebrows.  Then vote accordingly at the next election.

JUST SAY NO

Executive Orders and You


His Imperial Majesty, the Anointed One, Barack Hussein Obama has announced that since the Congress is proving to be obstinate, he will rule the country via executive orders.  This is despite being advised that the power of his orders is questionable, especially when they amount to legislation - in effect, he is assuming the role of both executive and legislator.  A clear violation of the separation of powers specified in the Constitution.  

He and Eric Holder (his pet attorney general) have announced that some laws - they get to decide which ones - will not be enforced.

Huh?  They can pick and choose which laws have the power of law?

Okay.  They've set the precedent, so here is a logical extension of that sort of thinking:  they can decide which laws to enforce, I can decide which laws to obey.  Seems fair, doesn't it?  Of course it does.

And since Obama cannot constitutionally legislate, I can safely ignore his executive orders.  They lack legal authority.

So if you don't like a law or two, ignore them.  Ditto executive orders.  Just say no.

What's wrong with this logic?  You decide and let me know.

Another cup of coffee now.

Friday, February 07, 2014

DOING THE MATH

Parsing that Botox Commercial

There I was, recumbent in my lounger watching some forgotten TV show last night, when this Botox commercial pops up.  Should I have post-menopausal headaches, I am told, maybe Botox injections can help.

Leaving aside the obvious, the legal / scientific caveat pops up on the screen.  Let me write it down here, as close to word for word as I can remember:

"Botox prevents up to 9 headache days per month, versus up to 7 for placebo."

Just to make sure we're on the same page, a placebo is a medication that has no pharmacological value - is inert and harmless and the same as taking nothing at all.  Except for one thing - the person taking it THINKS they're taking medication and expects it to help.  If it helps, that is called the "placebo effect."  It helps because the person thinks it's helping.  In reality it is doing nothing at all.

At first that just bounced off my GAS (Give a S--t) filters, then it hit me:  Placebo 7, Botox 9.  That means that the up to 9 headache days per month prevented by Botox includes 7 days prevented by the placebo effect.  So the person buying the injections is paying for an additional 2 days.  Looked at another way, the Botox is statistically providing 22% of the relief-days the customer is experiencing, while the placebo effect is providing the other 78%. 

What does all this say about post-menopausal headaches?  Yes, your Ostrich Killer will tell you, passing along the wisdom of my mother whenever I complained of some non-injurious, non-feverish malaise:  "It's all in your head, Sweetheart.  Go out and play."

Good advice.

Of course you're going to point out that one cannot go out and buy a placebo, because doing so would subvert the value of a placebo.  One would know it is a placebo and would therefore NOT expect it to work - so of course it wouldn't.  That's the sort of thing that Joseph Heller would appreciate: if you don't know what you're buying it works, but if you do know it doesn't.

Truth in advertising.  Ain't it wonderful?  Now go out and play.