Monday, March 26, 2012

Now I have to read the book....

I went to the theater this weekend to see "The Hunger Games".  I was one of the few in the group that has not already read the book, so this was completely fresh to me.  I have to say that I really liked it and can recommend it.  No, I do not think there were any Oscar winning performances there, but I do believe that all of the actors hit their marks well.  Woody Harrelson did an excellent job and Donald Sutherland showed that he can quietly play malevolent evil frighteningly well.  I was entertained and engaged for two hours, which is what I look for in a movie.  I also enjoyed talking to the others about the books afterwards.  So, in a turning of the tables, I am now borrowing a book from my daughter's collection, instead of the reverse.

Burning bridges, thermite edition...

A now former co-worked was let go on Friday.  I can't say that I was surprised.  When management communicates to you that your attendance is not up to snuff (coming in late, leaving early and "working from home"), the best plan of action normally is to adjust, accept that you cannot get away with it any more and get on with life.  I have found that this philosophy has served me well in the past when applied to all aspects of my employment.  I have been fired one time (I was 19 and it was a learning experience.) and as a contractor been removed from contract twice.  In both of the contracting positions I was not aware that there was an issue, so I was unable to adjust to expectations.  These were also learning experiences, especially about office politics and communication up the chain of command.  Going to war with said chain of command is not really an advisable plan.

When you are aware that your employment is going to be ending, that it will not be your choice for that employment to end and that you cannot change this outcome, you have several options.  One is to take all personal items home, preferably quietly.  Another is to clear all personal information that may be on the work computer.  One that I learned the hard way is to make sure you have all information on your 401k and other plans that may exist.  While you can normally get that information from the HR department, it is an awkward situation. 

One thing that you should refrain from doing is giving in to the rage that your situation may raise.  Gorilla stomping the brand new, top of the line laptop that was recently issued to you (and leaving clear bootprints on top) is really not the brightest of moves.  Taking a hammer to the new company cell phone is also not a good option.  Also, taking these actions where you are on on camera is really just, well, stupid. Generally, these actions are frowned upon.  Especially since they have not issued your last check to you yet.  You likely will not get a letter of recommendation either. 

On the other hand, it was interesting to watch the slow motion train wreck as it happened.  I even had time to make popcorn.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

If the reporting was even...

CNN reports that Israel has conducted airstrikes in Gaza, killing 15 and injuring dozens.  What I note is interesting is that Israeli strikes merit immediate headlines and reporting from the press, but the 90 rockets launched by the occupants of Gaza beforehand didn't merit a single word of reporting beforehand.  While it is mentioned in the report, it is downplayed in comparison to the Israeli response.  Here is a perfect example of why I think that any reporter mentioning "journalistic integrity" should be horsewhipped through the town square. 

Point of interest to those claiming that Israel is the aggressor here.  In 2011, 680 rocket and mortar attacks came from Gaza into Israel.  If the residents of Gaza would like Israel to stop the airstrikes and occasional ground offensive, maybe they should just stop launching rockets and mortars.  It's a crazy thought, I know, but maybe it's time to change the strategy from putting civilian lives in danger for the sake of headlines and actually getting on with rebuilding Gaza for people to live in comfortably.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

It's amazing and depressing...

Here I sit in the heart of the Silicon Valley working away.  Today I have addressed issues in China, Malaysia, India, Poland, Brazil and Mexico.  This is in addition to locations all over North America.  The wonders of our modern world mean that I work, technically, all over the world.  However, I never leave my office to complete this work.  Its a small disappointment that I regularly communicate with people on the other side of the world, but my chances of meeting them in person are exceptionally slim. 

On the plus side, I pick up a new pistol next week (thank you, CA 10 day waiting period...) which I really would not be able to do in almost any of the countries that I "worked in" today. 

Password security fail...

It appears that one of the most talented young minds in Euorpe has fallen afoul of his school.  He is a terribly intelligent young man who, at the age of 14, has already developed 6 apps for smartphones, is the managing director of his own web design company and last year was hand picked to attend the Apple conference.  Unfortunately, he is also, well, 14.

He has admitted to hacking into the systems at his school and acting like a teenager.  This has earned him a suspension followed by an expulsion.  I do not blame school staff at all for the response.  However, there is a small bit that is being downplayed by said staff. 

It seems that the passwords were gained by the amazingly difficult task of looking at the whiteboard in the IT room at the school.  The school administrator claims that the passwords listed are just examples, not actual passwords, and the child used that information to guess his way into the system.   Even if that is the case, which I doubt, passwords (or password examples that can lead a teenager down the path to the real ones) should not be on a whiteboard.  Ever.  I get annoyed when I find people storing passwords in text files or on post it notes under their desk phone.  But putting that info on a whiteboard where anyone walking by an open door can look is just plain stupid.  This is the type of mentality that allowed Kevin Mitnick to accomplish everything that he did before getting arrested.  While he was skilled as a hacker, he was far more skilled in social engineering to accomplish access.  We have the same thing here, only easier. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tis a slippery slope, Mr Holder...

The Attorney General believes that it is legal to... how did he put it...  use "Targeted Killings" against US citizens who are suspected of plotting to kill Americans. 
"Let me be clear: An operation using lethal force in a foreign country, targeted against a U.S. citizen who is a senior operational leader of al Qaeda or associated force, and who is actively engaged in planning to kill Americans, would be lawful," he said.
He even states that there are criteria that must be fulfilled:
The U.S. government must have determined that the individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against America; capture of the suspect is not feasible; and the operation would be conducted within the principles of the law of war.
Holder argued that al Qaeda has the ability to spring surprise attacks and is considered to be continuously planning against to attack on America. Therefore, the law allows for striking even before the "precise time, place, and manner of an attack becomes clear."
The issue here is that the person in question is only suspected of planning.  Not proved to be in a court of law, just suspected to be.  No due process, no trial.  If they think someone is planning an attack and is not on US soil, the can assasin...  Oh wait, use a targeted kill on the suspect.

Lets examine some of those words:
Assassinate - According to Mirriam-Webster, the second definition is "to murder (a usually prominent person) by a sudden and/or secret attack, often for political reasons."
Due Process - Due process is the legal requirement that the state must respect all of the legal rights that are owed to a person.

Based on what I read, Targeted Killing appears to be suspiciously like assassination.  And since the people in question would be US citizens, this seems to violate the Due Process guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment quite clearly.  Additionally, since we are not at war with an actual country at this time, any targeted killings of US citizens outside the US using the "principles of war" would be suspect at best.  Top this with the "I know they will commit a crime, just not where, when or how" aspect and we have a recipe for disaster. 

To the best of my knowledge, US citizens do not give up their right the moment they leave US soil.  With the ambiguous criteria laid out by the AG, in addition to no judicial/grand jury oversight, this starts us down the slippery slope mentioned in the title.  Since this is the same AG that brought us Fast and Furious as well as deciding not to prosecute the Black Panthers for voter intimidation, I am a uneasy that he would be in charge of making policy like this.  Actually, it scares the hell out of me.  When you combine this with the head of Homeland Security's decision making, I truly fear for our citizens. 

Greasin' the IT wheels...

Why, yes...  Yes, your laptop repair did just move to the front of the line...

Monday, March 5, 2012

(Not) Deep Thoughts...

1.  To the gentleman who has transferred in from across the oceans:  While I understand that you have been brought up in a different culture with different standards and practices, I would appreciate it if you would not squat on the toilet seat.  It is hard enough having to wipe the seat down and use 6 layers of ass gaskets* without having to scrub your shoe tread off the seat as well. 
2.  To the well endowed girl at work:  I understand that you find it uncomfortable when people stare at your... endowment.  Generally men, I admit.  Now, to quote a wise man, "If a guy is looking at your breasts, it means his eyes are open."  But, on the other hand, when you choose to to wear a low cut top that leaves nothing to the imagination, I really cannot sympathise with you.  So, unless you choose to wear something less revealing, drop the indignation when people stare.
3.  To the gentleman who dropped "a little water" into his laptop:  First, drinking water generally doesn't leave the laptop reeking of beer.  Second, the clear membane under the keyboard will clearly show the multiple colors of "water" that have been spilled into the laptop.  Third, the repair tech will notice that the "water" has not only caked itself all over the memory, processor and system board, but because you kept using the laptop, it has baked said residue into a nice hard coating.  Although it is not against company policy, maybe you should cut down on the beer and wine while working at home. 

*JayG owes me a new keyboard for the first time I read that line...