Thursday, April 30, 2009

Do I Have Pig Flu?

Building a Secure Medical Office PC on the Cheap

A friend is opening an office to provide counseling and therapy for patients in the midst of serious or terminal illnesses. She's one of only one hundred or so therapists certified for this particular kind of work, and it's her gift to the world after losing both patients to cancer within a year of each other.

My gift to her is a computer system for her practice, and since she's going to be doing correspondence, billing, and insurance tasks, it's important that it's highly secure so that no patient information can be breached. That would not be the way to launch a new practice.

Being a start-up, her resources are limited, so I was aiming for functionality and security that she could easily implement without much of a learning curve. She's computer literate but no geek, so I tried to keep it simple.

The base system is a Dell Inspiron with Vista Home Premium that was further locked down by tweaking some of the default settings and loading Firefox with my favorite add-ons installed. I added a reputable antivirus package, and installed Secunia PSI so that she can keep track of unpatched and end-of-life software at a glance. Automatic updates are turned on, as is a personal firewall, antispyware, and other assorted protective and detective control mechanisms.

To keep someone from reading the data if they happen to smash the window and run down the street with the physical computer, I provided whole-disk encryption using the open-source TrueCrypt product that I've always found to be top-notch. Setup was relatively easy, and I picked a pretty robust encryption algorithm and key length. TrueCrypt allows you to build a rescue disk (CD or DVD) to keep locked away in case something happens down the road - very helpful.

We'll toss is a mobile USB hard drive for her to back up and take offsite (also encrypted, of course), and she'll be all set. I was able to pull together the hardware and software for a couple hundred dollars - not a bad deal.

So good luck, Dana. I'm glad the world is blessed with people like you.

If you happen to be in central Ohio and need a very caring, talented therapist to help you or someone you love through a terrible illness, drop me a note at and I'll pass your name along.

It's easy to work with secure computing. If you're an info security professional, give back to the world by doing something nice for others. It feels pretty good.

Pooh on Pig Flu

From - click the image for better viewing.

Self-moving Gel Will Conquer the World

This is straight out of the Terminator film franchise.

Japanese scientists have created a chemical gel that can move on its own. Without any help. Independently.

Are you catching my drift, people?

It can change colors, too, so do you want to die under a pile of red, or yellow?

Scientists Create Chemical Gel That Moves On Its Own

Yum - Whole Chicken in a Can

Who thought this was a good idea?

Sweet Sue is offering canned chicken. Not new (or appetizing), but not everyone has the resources to grow their own. But most of the canned chicken I've seen is pre-chopped for your convenience.

This baby is whole. And greased up like you wouldn't believe.

It reminds me of my army days, eating C-rations in the field. There's nothing like using your P38 can opener to hack off the lid of some chicken or pork that was sealed in a metal cylinder in 1967. I especially enjoyed the wiggly layer of fat jelly that covered the top.

Judging by these photos, I'll soon be able to savor the meat jelly once again. Here's your snot, Igor.

Good Eats: A Whole Chicken in a Can

Pig Flu: Cure Worse Than The Disease?

So last night my President told me to stop coughing on people and to wash my hands frequently as I became a foot soldier in the coming Aporkalypse.

I saluted smartly, turned sharply on my heel, and dashed to the bathroom to scrub up.

Tiny baby-hand soaps!

Oh, the humanity.

I suppose it's ok to have scores of toddlers running around holding their binkies with hooks as long as I don't spread the pig flu, but perhaps we should examine a different solution.

Ward off pig-death with soaps shaped like baby-hands

Wii Remote Cufflinks

For those occasions when you need to come out of the basement and wear a French-cuffed shirt (??), I bring you Wii remote cufflinks.

Why? Because I refuse to use the term Wiimote, for the same reasons I won't order a grande or venti drink at Starbucks.

But seriously, folks. What's the fashion message we're trying to send here? I see Father's Day sales written all over this accessory.

Wiimote cufflinks

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

No Wash Boxers

We want the funk! Bring out the funk!

I don't see any possible good that can come from this product.

Designed by a medical student, this underwear is the result of feeling sympathy for people laying in hospital beds in their dirty white undies.

I've been in the hospital a couple of times and I would have killed for underwear - any kind of underwear. I wasn't allowed to have any, probably because they would lower the cool factor of that sexy gown that showed my sculpted ass most of the time.

The yellow and brown design is quaint, though. Sort of like the polyester outfits I wore in the 70s.

Via Geekologie: Highly Questionable: No Wash Boxers

Swine Flu: Bacon's Revenge

Neatorama has a clever shirt that will remain clever until a couple of people die from H1N1.

In-store GPS: Grandma Finds the Pudding

Via Dvice, a skeptical look at plans in the UK to equip shopping carts with GPS units.

Designed for use by older folks, the navigation systems are intended to help ease the confusion that apparently exists because store layouts are frequently changing and the oldsters keep getting lost in the cheese aisle.

I have an idea - how about we don't change store layouts quite so often?

In-store GPS coming to confusing grocery stores for old people

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Cat Man Do

GOP: What the Hell?

CNN's Rick Sanchez has a little difficulty understanding the freedom tent of SC Senator Jim DeMint. Via DailyKosTV

Spot a Fake Census Taker?

Originally linked from Bruce Schneier's blog, this video about how to spot a fake census taker is pretty ridiculous.

Bruce comments: This apparently non-ironic video warns that people might impersonate census workers in an effort to rob you. But while you shouldn't trust the ID of a stranger, you should trust that same stranger to give you a phone number where you can verify that ID. This, of course, makes no sense.

Adobe Reader: Worse than a face punch?

Brian Krebs writes in his Security Fix blog that Adobe is warning of yet another serious flaw in the Acrobat Reader product. Gee, what were the odds?

Preliminary reports indicate that some sort of Javascript flaw exists, primarily on Reader for Linux platforms but probably on other OS flavors too.

Installing and using the Adobe Reader app is like punching yourself in the face over and over again. It hurts and just doesn't make sense, so stop it already.

There are tons of other PDF readers available, so move to one of them, regardless of whether you're on Windows, Linux, or a Mac, uninstall Acrobat Reader, and start the healing process.

Security Fix - Adobe Warns of Potential Reader Flaw

The Day in 100 Seconds - Swine Flu Edition

Talking Points Memo The Day in 100 Seconds - when Shepherd Smith is the voice of reason, you know the media is in trouble.

Felony Franks

Via Neatorama, Felony Franks - home of the misdemeanor wiener!


Chicagoland businessman Jim Andrews is attempting to do a great thing here - starting a chain of hot dog shops staffed by ex-convicts as a way to help them restart their lives.

Of course, this means that neighborhood folks object, because while everyone deserves a second chance, can't that opportunity take place somewhere else?

Wieners, wieners, everywhere.

Felony Franks

Keep Your Eye on the Ball

From Where It Stands

Sticky Note Experiment

EepyBird's Sticky Note experiment from Eepybird on Vimeo.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Dennis Franz Fairy Tales

h/t to Gawker

Do the Dew, Old School

For a limited time only, Pepsi is producing (and selling, I'm guessing) Pepsi and Mountain Dew containing....real sugar! Just like Grandpa used to drink while staying up all night playing shadow puppet games on the barn wall using candlelight.

Until they went with high fructose corn syrup that turned the nation into a blubbering cesspool of obesity, soda companies routinely used cane sugar to make sweet, sweet liquid love to us. But then, making money became more important than tradition and yummy in our tummy.

Reports indicate that the Throwback versions of both beverages make the current day offerings seem putrid in comparison, which means Pepsi will stop selling them as soon as the public gets addicted to them.

Just like the McRib.

Real Sugar: Mountain Dew 'Throwback'

Rubber Duckie Suicide

Rubber duckie, you're the one! You make bath time lots of fun. Rubber duckie - what are you doing with that electrical outlet??

This one-time use suicide device mercifully turned out to be fake.

Good thing - my wife collects those cute little bath toys, so it will be better to die the all-natural way - crushed beneath an immense pile of latex.

I Want Out: Electrocuting Rubber Duckie
, via Geekologie

Twitter Swine Flu

From Click the image for a larger view.

Junk Food: Blinded Me With Science

Ever wondered why you seemed powerless to curtail your craving for junk food, even though you know it's so terribly, horribly wrong for you?

As it turns out, it's not an accident. Not by a long shot.

Via BoingBoing, details of David A. Kessler, who has written The End of Overeating: Taking Care of the Insatiable American Appetite. Kessler details how the massive junk food industry very carefully plots and plans to manipulate the diner's brain to want more.

"The food the industry is selling is much more powerful than we realized," he said. "I used to think I ate to feel full. Now I know, we have the science that shows, we're eating to stimulate ourselves. And so the question is what are we going to do about it?"

Neuroscience of junk-food cravings, researched in a Chili's dumpster

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Sugar on a Stick Learning Platform

Ars Technica has an in-depth look at a new version of the Sugar Learning Platform that can boot from a 1GB USB drive - hence the "stick".

The software environment was originally built for the One Laptop Per Child initiative for the XO laptop. It's a really kid-friendly computing interface pre-loaded with scores of education-related applications.

These drives could be distributed, and then children could plug them into whatever desktop computers were available at their location and enjoy their learning experience without regard to the hardware configuration.

Since the USB drive can save the user's data, the drive (and the learner's activity) would be portable, allowing the child to use it with any computer. What a great concept.

First taste: Sugar on a Stick learning platform

Mocking the GOP

From Daily Kos, the GOP has suggested that Democrats rename themselves as the "Democrat Socialist Party" because the GOP is a wee bit angry these days.

The DNC responds:

"I'm going to pass on marketing advice from folks who hadn't fully thought out the implications of using tea bags as a brand," said Democratic National Committee spokesman Hari Sevugan. "But what's clear is that when you're devoid of leadership, devoid of ideas and your only answer is to say 'no' to change, it's not surprising that angry, fringe elements take center stage at the Republican Party."

Friday, April 24, 2009

Blood Never Tasted So Good

Via Neatorama, a unique approach to getting your sweet on - sour candy liquids in specimen bottles.

Frankly, funny or not, I don't need the aggravation of needing to explain to someone why I'm not actually drinking pee out of a plastic screw-top container, no matter what it looks like.

All it takes is one non-believer and you're marked for life.

Sour Candy Body Fluids

Meat Business Cards

Nothing says "remember me" quite like handing someone your name embossed on dried animal tissue.

And they're on Twitter. Fabulous.

Via BoingBoing

World's Largest Cheeto

Thanks to the unwise folks at Gizmodo, we have video of a staffer eating the world's largest Cheeto directly over the world's most expensive keyboard.

Who knew it would be stale and tasteless?

I Ate the World's Largest Cheeto Over the World's Most Expensive Keyboard

World's Largest Cheeto and the Optimus Maximus from Gizmodo on Vimeo.

Top 25 Info Security Postings

As requested, here is a digest view of the top 25 most popular postings related to information security, risk, and control dating back to January 2009. Enjoy!

Easily Hacked Company Awarded IRS Contract to Use Your Data

Hijack a Mobile Phone Via SMS Messages

FBI Hackers and CIPAV

Credit Card PINS No Longer Secure

Lynis System and Security Tool for UNIX

April 2009 Microsoft Security Bulletin Summary

How Insecure is our Electrical Grid?

Nessus 4 in Your Easter Basket

Identifying People Using Anonymous Social Networking Data

Conficker Eye Chart

House Rips PCI Standard, Gets Kicked Out of Bed By Credit Card Industry

Conficker: WTF?

Be the Problem, Sell the Solution

China Engaged in Cyber Spying? Really?

psyb0t Attacks Home Routers

Browsers Bite It At CanSecWest

CyberSecurity Strategy: GAO Report

Those Hacking Aussies

L0phtCrack is Coming Back

More Bad Security Practice

Trojan Mdropper.AC

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Stay Safe from Web Tracking Cookies

Very few people are aware that as you browse the web, hopping from site to site, tiny little chunks o' data are placed on your computer that allow all sorts of tracking of your activity - where you've visited, what you have viewed, and so on.

One of the up-and-coming online trends is behavioral advertising, where marketing and media companies use these little data files, also known as cookies, to target the advertising you see based on your browsing habits.

Global regulators and privacy organizations are rapidly moving to curtail some of the most onerous of these practices, but laws and regulations vary from country to country, and in the US, from state to state.

So far, the best consumer protection has been awareness. Once you know, you can take steps to block these cookies from being placed and/or read from your computer.

The Network Advertising Initiative has a site that allows you to review the various member companies engaged in behavioral advertising and to alert you to which of them you've already opted out. There's a little radio button you can click to opt out of the ones you haven't already.

Problem is, these opt outs or blocks are usually erased when you clear your history and cookies in your browser. If you clear your cookies, history, and cache regularly, you may want to consider installing one of the browser-based cookie blockers, like TACO for Firefox. Google, Yahoo, and many other search behemoths also offer cookie opt out programs.

If you don't mind these folks knowing where you visit, and you prefer advertising that's tailored to your interests, then by all means, don't do anything. For everyone else, take proper steps.

If you have any questions, drop me a note at

Network Advertising Initiative Opt Outs