Observations Along the Road

Theatre Writeups, Musings on the News, Rants and Roadkill Along the Information Superhighway

Category Archive: 'news-chum'

Saturday #NewsChum Stew: Risk, Radio, Drugs, Discounts, DNA, and Darwin

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Apr 09, 2016 @ 1:01 pm PDT

Observation StewIt’s Saturday, and you know what that means: Time to clean out the accumulating links and see what sort of stew it makes:

  • Risks of the Internet of Things. Working in cybersecurity, I’m well aware of the risks of the IOT: that these untrusted unprotected devices could be a stepping stone into a private network for attacks. But there’s an even larger functionality risk, demonstrated this week by Nest’s announcement that they will no longer support the Revolv hub: The manufacturer can render your expensive connected appliance useless by simply shutting down the server.  Just imagine it: refrigerators and HVAC equipment that no longer works because they can’t check in to their home bases. TVs and audio equipment that fail because they can’t sync. Cars that become doorstops when their underlying site goes down.
  • Expressing Your Love. Steve Julian is a long time host on public radio here in Los Angeles. He’s been fighting a losing battle — on his terms — with brain tumors. LA Observed had an interesting article on how the digital community is coming out to support Steve and keep his spirits up. We often don’t realize the value of the community we build on places like Facebook, Livejournal, Dreamwidth, and other such social sites.
  • Drug Schedules. With all the talk of new rules for Hydrocodone and Oxy, I’ve been worried about impacts on the T3 I use for migraines. As such, I found this description of what the Federal Drug Schedule is and how it is determined fascinating. I was relieved to see that Oxy was in a different category than T3. Of course, most people are reading it about pot, but I’m not most people.
  • The New Costco Card. Costco will be changing our credit cards from Amex to CitiVisa. In the process, they are moving to a card with outstanding deals. This might entice me to use the card at gas stations, although I’m sure that the gas rebate is less than the discount I get for the private gas company cards (which are charged like cash).
  • Yiddish Roots of Hollywood/Angel’s Flying. With my daughter’s love of Yiddish, article on the subject catch my eye. Here’s an exploration of Hollywood’s Yiddish roots. If that doesn’t interest you, read about how the Angels flew to Anaheim.
  • Celiac Disease and DNA. It appears they are finding more and more information about the root causes of Celiac Disease. This time, they’ve identified more of the trigger DNA sequences.
  • Darwin and Drives. Thumb drives, that is. It appears that surveys show that a majority of people, when they find a thumb drive lying in the street, will plug it into their computer to find out who owns it. They do, and — blam — they are pwned. Leave the investigation of drives to the trained professionals.
  • Porn Economics. Here’s a detailed article exploring the economics of porn, including the fact that most porn sites are run by one company, and that the search terms they choose insidiously propagate particular attitudes and preferences designed to denigrate. It is a fascinating read if only for that access: the tremendous amount of data these sites collect from you. Our society and our electronics used to be somewhat anonymous: your iPod didn’t report your music preference to Apple, that clerk in the adult store didn’t collect names and preferences when cash was used, payphones weren’t tied to individuals. Welcome to the world of big data, and all hail our ubiquitious all-knowing all-collecting overlords.
  • Moving to Encryption. WordPress has moved to encryption by default of all wordpress.com websites. They’ve also moved to encrypting all domain names they host. This is something I need to do one of these days (once I figure out how), both for tasnorthridge-motas.org (which is homed at enomcentral but really on wordpress.com) and cahighways.org (which is homed on enomcentral, but hosted on Westhost).

If you didn’t see the earlier chum this week, they were on food and controversial subjects.

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Chum of Controversy

Written By: cahwyguy - Fri Apr 08, 2016 @ 7:45 pm PDT

userpic=los-angelesThis collection of news chum may be controversial. It touches on a number of hot button topics: religion, racism, trolls, and sexism.

  • To Bear or Not to Bear, A Cross Too Far. The origin of the user pic to the right is a battle from many years ago when Los Angeles County redesigned their county seal to remove the cross. A few years after that, one of few Republicans on the Board of Supervisors got it added back. A judge has just ruled that the cross must go: that a cross has no place on a county seal.
  • Dress Shirts and Racism. When sizing a shirt, what questions can you ask? This was an issue faced by an internet startup that wanted men to be able to order shirts that would fit them perfectly. He started collecting statistical data, and found out that one of the best predictors was… race. He then discovered that just asking the question put him into a cultural minefield. As the article notes: “There’s no denying the satisfaction of a smartly tailored shirt. But with this one question, the once mundane world of dress shirts is now dabbling in a kind of racial profiling. Are we ready to dredge up centuries of racial strife, simply for a perfect fit?”
  • The Troll Under the Bridge. Have you ever thought about the characteristics that define an Internet Troll? Boing! Boing! did, and came up with a quad chart of seriousness and sincerity. It came up with four categories that it categorized as Squares / Jesters / Worms / Trolls. It turns out, when pressed, there was a diagonal correlation: Squares to Trolls, and Jesters to Worms. A fascinating theory.
  • Gaming and Sexism. I’d seen the source article on this, but Vox had a great summary of a new issue that, is in a sense, an outgrowth of GamerGate: Sexism and Tabletop Gaming. I’ve been boardgaming for years, and I haven’t seen it in the community; then again, I might just have blinders that need to be recalibrated. But I can certainly believe it in the role playing and heavy wargaming  communities. We’re learning more and more about the sexism and aggression that was under the surface, that just wasn’t seen. Part of me longs for the days of my youth when we didn’t need to worry about this, but then I realize that although seeing these aggressions and problems is uncomfortable, it is necessary in order to move society above those problems.


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An Alphabet of Chum: From A to Almost Z

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Apr 02, 2016 @ 2:11 pm PDT

userpic=masters-voiceOur life is a litany of interesting news articles, of news chum, ripe for the discussion. Shall I enumerate? I shall.


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News Chum – In No Particular Order

Written By: cahwyguy - Sun Mar 27, 2016 @ 10:42 am PDT

Observation StewBefore I work on the writeup from last night’s show, I want to clear out the accumulated news chum links. I don’t have the time to put them in any particular theme or order, but I’ll try to give some idea why I thought they were of interest.


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Something to Chew On

Written By: cahwyguy - Fri Mar 25, 2016 @ 11:35 am PDT

userpic=pastramiThese have been a crazy couple of weeks, and I haven’t any time to get out generic news chum articles inbetween all the other stuff. But I need to clear out the links, so here’s a first salvo: a collection of food related news chum:


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Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Mar 12, 2016 @ 9:44 am PDT

userpic=old-shieldThis themed collection of news chum all has to do with transitions — and I’m not talking about recent obituaries (such as Charlie Tuna, George Kennedy, George Martin, or Nancy Reagan, or even the death of civility in political rallies). Here are some different transitions of interest:

  • Black Oak Bookstore, Berkeley. Another independent bookstore bites the dust: this time, Black Oak on San Pablo. When I last visited Berkeley, I had a wonderful time in this store, which was walking distance from not only the AirBNB where I was staying, but a used record shop a great tea joint. According to my daughter, more and more indie bookstores in Berkeley are closing. This is sad; used bookstores make a great college town. I still think the decline of Westwood started when University Bookstore on Westwood closed.
  • Oakland Tribune. The Oakland Tribune is closing, being merged into an East Bay conglomeration by it’s owner, BANG (Bay Area News Group). BANG is also doing something similar with the San Jose Mercury News. This should be a warning for Los Angeles: BANG is owned by Digital First Media, who also own the LANG (LA News Group). LA News Group, in turn, owns the LA Daily News and a bunch of smaller papers in the region ripe for consolidation. Digital First also just made a bid for the Orange County Register and Press Enterprise. They will be competing with Tribune Publishing (LA Times) and a group of OCR investors.
  • Western Federal Credit Union. Following the trend of credit unions to move away from their original member group origins, WFCU is becoming the Unify Financial Credit Union. Otherwise known as Single UFCU, from Double UFCU. At least it isn’t Logix. I still remember when it was Westernaire Federal.
  • Target. It appears that changes are in store for Target, our favorite non-department department store. Target executives have laid out a plan to become the ultimate one-stop grocery, apparel and home destination for American families. When they are done,  a shopping trip through Target’s app or online and finishing it in a store will become more seamless, with text notifications when online orders for in-store pickup are ready and dedicated areas of the store for these orders. Online orders will ship faster, as Target transitions more of its physical stores to double as fulfillment centers.
  • San Fernando Observatory. The San Fernando Observatory, originally started by The Aerospace Corporation, has found a new home at CSUN.  This is great news for the CSUN Astrophysics program.
  • 747, marked down to 740. The 747 aircraft continues its descent into oblivion. This time it is United Airlines accelerating the retirement of the aircraft. So production will stop, and this great aircraft will be relegated to special purpose and cargo usage.
  • Valley Outreach Wanders No More. Valley Outreach Synagogue, long wandering across the valley, has finally found a home. They are now preparing a new home in Calabasas. In addition to a sanctuary, the 15,000-square-foot facility will have offices, learning spaces and a social hall for bar and bat mitzvahs, weddings and other events.


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Security News Chum: Browsers, Berkeley, Ransom and Requests

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Mar 05, 2016 @ 3:29 pm PDT

userpic=cardboard-safeReady for the third course of news chum? This part of the meal is a collection of articles related to cybersecurity:

  • Help! I’m DROWNing. This week, researchers announced yet another attack against TLS, the protocols used to secure the traffic that you see as HTTPS://. More than 11 million websites and e-mail services protected by the TLS protocol are vulnerable to this low-cost attack that decrypts sensitive communications in a matter of hours and in some cases almost immediately. The attack works against TLS-protected communications that rely on the RSA cryptosystem when the key is exposed even indirectly through SSLv2, a TLS precursor that was retired almost two decades ago because of crippling weaknesses. The vulnerability allows an attacker to decrypt an intercepted TLS connection by repeatedly using SSLv2 to make connections to a server. In the process, the attacker learns a few bits of information about the encryption key each time. While many security experts believed the removal of SSLv2 support from browser and e-mail clients prevented abuse of the legacy protocol, some misconfigured TLS implementations still tacitly support the legacy protocol when an end-user computer specifically requests its use. The most notable implementation subject to such fatal misconfigurations is the OpenSSL cryptographic library.
  • More Exposure at Berkeley. No, I’m not talking exposure of a student body, but exposure of the student body. The University of California, Berkeley, has admitted to a second data breach which may have exposed the data of 80,000 people to misuse. Current and former students, faculty members and vendors linked to the university are among those who have been warned about the incident, which took place through financial management software which contained a security flaw, allowing an attacker — or group — to access internal services. In total, 57,000 current and former students, including student workers, 10,300 vendors and others — at a ratio of roughly 50 percent of current students and 65 percent of active employees — could have had their information taken.
  • Dealing with Ransomware. Our biggest worry used to be viruses. Those were the days. Today, the big fear is ransomware — malware you get by a drive-by-download or clicking on a bad link in an email. These attacks encrypt the data on your computer and require you to pay a ransom if you want to have any hope of decrypting it. Here’s a reasonably good PCWORLD article with somethings you can do to prevent attacks. As usual, it boils down to the 4 “E”s: Use the engineering in your system to stop attacks by having a good always-on malware and dangerous site scanner; have usage policies and enforce them about not clicking on links, using non administrative accounts, etc.; educate your users on what to look for, and what not to do; and plan for emergency services by having a external disk backup that is not always connected using a reliable back tool.
  • Dealing with Requests. This article from ComputerWorld explains what really is at risk in the Apple vs FBI fight. The issue is not encryption or encryption backdoors. The FBI is not trying to break the encryption on the phone. They are trying to unlock the phone, which will decrypt it. To find that key they need to do a brute force attack; to do that attack, they can’t have the system wipe the phone after 10 failures. So what they want Apple to do is put up a special signed software update that the phone will automatically install that will remove the limit. In other words, this request is to force Apple to put up an untrustworthy software update that weakens the phone. That’s the precedent that Apple does not want to set. In particular, such an update can’t be limited to just one phone, and if a faked update can get out, then the entire spider-web of automatic software updates becomes untrustworthy. If it becomes untrustworthy, people won’t automatically install updates, and that will result in known holes being unpatched, which means weaker systems.


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News Chum Stew: This and That

Written By: cahwyguy - Sun Feb 28, 2016 @ 10:23 am PDT

Observation StewIt’s been a couple of weeks since we’ve made some news chum stew, and I’m hungry for a nice heaping bowl. Please join me, and let’s discuss some of these:

  • Inclusion and Integration. Let’s start with an article I chose just for the graphic, which is appropriate for the Oscars tonight and #OscarsSoWhite . I had seen others use this graphic before with respect to diversity discussions, and I realized that it is also wonderful to explain security system engineering, and how security truly needs to be included in the engineering discussion, not just considered in a separate area.
  • Food and Health. Here are two articles related to food and health.The first explores how the proton-pump inhibator heartburn meds (such as omeprazole, which I take) may be associated with a higher dementia risk. This is of concern to me; it is why I’m trying to wean down on the meds (I’m at every other day). Specifically, a new study links the widely used PPIs — which include Nexium, Prevacid and Prilosec — to an increased risk for cognitive decline, though researchers caution the study has limitations, and does not show a definite cause. PPIs have recently been linked to kidney disease, heart disease, and deficiencies of B12 and other vitamins. While patients have reported side effects of the drugs, not taking them often results in stomach pains and worse heartburn as the drug leaves their systems.

    The second highlights a fascinating finding about pasta: Reheating your pasta makes it healthier for you. When pasta is cooled down, your body digests it differently, causing fewer calories to be absorbed and a smaller blood glucose peak. And reheating it is even better – it reduces the rise in blood glucose levels by a whopping 50 percent.

  • Cruz and Gluten Free. It seems society just wants to hate and bully. We’ve all seen various people, shapes, and trends become scapegoats for society’s extended mockery. Recently, Ted Cruz marched into the frey by declaring the military shouldn’t provide gluten-free meals. This promped a lovely editorial in HuffPost asking people to stop making fun of the gluten-free diet (which was the real article that prompted this item). Yes, I know there are many folks doing it because the diet is trendy and they believe it will help them. The problem is that if people start feeling that folks only do it for trendy reasons, then they won’t be careful in making things truly gluten free. That can create significant health problems for those that are Celiac and truly must eat gluten free.
  • Kitchens and Shopping. If you’re a cook, you’ve probably gone shopping at those high end kitchen supply stores. Have you gone to a restaurant supply store. It’s quite fun. We’ve gotten a few things there that we use every day. Here’s a good article on what you should be buying at a restaurant supply store. I particularly recommend the cutting board advice: get a really large one you can sit over your sink. You can then rinse and cut without the water going over your counters, and scrape the cuttings right into the disposal. They also have colored boards, so you can segregate vegetable from meat boards.
  • Humor and Jews. This article got an incredible amount of shares when I posted it on FB: Mad’s Al Jaffe explaining how Mad helped make American Humor Jewish, bringing in Yiddish along the way.
  • Calculators and Caller ID. Recently, an app on my Android Phone informed me it was using Caller ID, and I needed to go into its settings if I didn’t want that. The app, PowerCalc, and yes — it is integrating CallerID to make money for its authors. Needless to say, I want to find a different calculator app now.
  • Cars and Satellites. Here’s a real interesting one. I work in El Segundo, and regularly drive now Nash Street. I’ve never thought about why it was named what it was. However, a posting in an LA History group on Facebook provided some fascinating history. Evidently, what is now the Boeing Satellite Facility at Imperial Highways and Hughes Way used to be the Nash-Kelvinator Assembly Plant. Thus: Nash Street.
  • Names and Processors. A number of years ago, picking a processor was easy. You went for the latest x86 and clock speed. Then came Pentium and Celeron and Atom, and now there are Cores and iX and more. Here’s the first cogent explanation I’ve found of Intel Processor naming. This will be a big help next time I go processor shopping. I wonder how they differ architecture-wise, in particular in memory mapping and privilege rings — things us cybersecurity folks care about.
  • Tuna and Pianos. Get it? Piano Tuna? Nevermind, I’m here all week. You may have seen the recent Android commercial where they play one song on a regular piano, and one song on a piano where every key makes the same note. You might have wondered whether they made a square piano to do it, in order to have all the strings the same length (remember: a piano has the same number of strings as a harp; it is just that they are buried in a box and hit with a hammer). Here’s a Scientific American article on what they did, and exploring if you could make all strings sound the same just through tuning.
  • A, B, C, D, E, and F. If you are old enough, you remember the days before “forever” stamps, when postage changed so frequently they issued lettered stamps worth make up postage between the old rate and the new rate. One wonders if they would issue negative postage stamps now, given that stamp prices are set to go down 2c in April. That’s right. Down. From 49c to 47c. I’d wait to buy that “forever” postage.
  • Maps and Places. We’ve all heard about it, but is it really done? Atlas Obscura explores the legend of fictitious place names on maps. Can they really be used to copyright a map?
  • Restaurants and the San Fernando Valley. A couple of articles on restaurants and the valley. The first explores 118 Degrees, a new raw vegan GF restaurant. The second is supposedly the essential valley restaurants, although I find some a bit trendy for my taste (and as usual, then tend to think only of the Boulevard, instead of the Northern valley). This becomes clear when they mention Lum Ka Naad’s outpost on the boulevard, instead of mentioning the original location near CSUN (which is about a mile from where I live). PS. While we’re talking about the valley, here’s an obit of interest: Rabbi Gordon of Chabad in the Valley has passed away. Z”L.
  • Malls and ShoppingTowns . In the news recently was an article noting how the Beverly Center mall near Cedars Sinai is getting a makeover. I remember this area well: I remember when the mall was built in the 1970s (drove by it on the way to WBT). It replaced the beloved Beverly Playland. The redevelopment is part of a trend of mall redesign, where developers take what were indoor malls and make them outdoor strolling areas. Think “the Grove” or “Americana at Brand”. What goes around, comes around, I guess. I remember when this was done at places like Fallbrook; I also remember when outdoor malls were turned into indoor malls (Panorama Mall; Sherman Oaks Fashion Center). They are about to do a similar transformation on the Westside Pavillion (which folks remember used to be a little lovely outdoor shopping center with a Vons and May Company). Should be interesting to watch.

Lastly, I’d like to highlight a few “GoFundMe”s of interest, related to folks I know. Orlando de la Paz was the scenic painter at the Colony; he recently had a stroke and is raising support funds. Jolie Mason worked with me at SDC; she’s now running the LA Radio Reading Service, a group that is raising funds for studio upgrades. Bruce Kimmel, a producer out here in LA, is raising money for an LA Themed Musical, which will premiere at LACC around May 13 for two weeks.  The family of one of my counselors from camp days is raising funds for his care; he’s dealing with a brain tumor and the prognosis isn’t good. The LA Theatre Community is raising funds for its legal fight against Actors Equity; they’ve already raised 75K. Lastly, the Men of TAS are raising funds to improve the Social Hall Kitchen; we’d love it if you could help.

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