Thanks?

I saw a political ad put out by a Republican Super PAC thanking Senator Kyrsten Sinema for her continued support of the Republican agenda in Congress.

Of course, Senator Kyrsten Sinema is a Democrat, but that apparently was just a ploy to ride coattails or something. She was voted into office before we moved to Arizona. When her term is up I’m really, really hopeful something challenges her in the primary and gets her off the ballot. She hasn’t done much of anything good for society. She voted against a federally minimum wage, she didn’t show up to vote on the January 6 commission, and she continues to side with the Republicans when it comes to the filibuster.

But she dresses up in hip wigs and cool skirts, so we’re suppose to think she’s edgy and hip.

She’s not. She’s just another corporately sponsored politician in Washington and she’ll do what she’s told to do by the highest bidder.

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Out and About.

We had dinner with Homer and Matt tonight. They introduced us to a small Mexican restaurant on the other side of the 10. I had vegetarian Cuban Tacos that were excellent. The conversation was a delight. It was nice to be out and about to and visit with Homer and Matt for a little while. We have common friends in the blogosphere. It’s funny to think that we’ve both met people that maintained blogs at one time, even though we’re all from different corners of the country.

The more I get to know Tucson the more I like it. I already knew I liked this big little town, but getting better acquainted with our surroundings is a good feeling. Even if we have to maintain our social distance or make sure we’re all vaccinated.

I didn’t take any photos. I’m deficient at my attempts at being a social media influencer. I don’t even know if people still read this blog as I never look at the traffic stats, but it’s still fun to write in it like it’s 2009.

Restless.

It’s probably from my extended tour of midlife crisis or middle-aged syndrome, but I’ve been feeling rather restless lately. Social media feeds have pretty much moved to screaming in an echo chamber, I feel impeded about going out, what with this pandemic raging on and whatnot, and most weirdly, I can’t shake the feeling that there’s another shoe somewhere and it’s waiting to drop. I feel like it’s a big shoe, something that’s going to really rattle society again, and honestly, I don’t know if society can take something like that.

If I take a 50,000 foot view of life, it’s good! We’re all healthy, we live in a beautiful home, my job is going very well (I’m a team leader again!), and we’re getting things done. Yes, we’ve had some ups and downs with getting the house ready for the next monsoon season (contractors are coming later this month) but it’s all manageable. We have friends coming in to visit next month and the holidays aren’t really that far off. (It’s too soon for Halloween decorations, let alone Christmas decorations, so don’t do that yet).

Yet, I’m still feeling restless. It’s probably boredom. It’s that whole “who is a walking incubus of pandemic that refuses to get vaccinated as they walk among us?” thing I have going on in my head. I wish people would just do the right thing for society and stop being so selfish.

Tick Tock.

When we moved from Upstate New York to Chicago in 2017 I donated much of my school clock collection to family and the local Historical Society. The Historical Society is located in one of the old elementary schools in my home school district and they’ve installed the clocks but they’re not running yet. The next time I’m back east I’ll get them running. Apparently several visitors to the building have commented about the old clocks.

I had a few clocks that made the move from storage in Chicago to our home here in Tucson. Running wire throughout this house is not an option, as we have no attic or basement. However, there are a couple of places when I can pull wire without too much destruction so maybe I’ll get one or two going.

When the clocks were in the old house they were initially run by a master clock (the type of which would be found in an office of a school or commercial building) from 1957. That clock gave up the ghost and parts were hard to come by, so I ended up writing some software to run on a 1996 era IBM PC (Pentium III) that ran the clocks for about eight years. A terrible energy hog, I was determined that if I ever had the opportunity to get the clocks running again, I’d do it with 21st century technology.

Today I started up one clock with a Raspberry Pi 3 and relay board. Less than 100 lines of code and this 1939 Standard Electric Time slave clock is running flawlessly and synced to the Atomic Clock in Boulder, Colorado courtesy of a WiFi Internet Connection.

To give you a sense of the size of the computer running this clock, here it is, in a temporary box, next to a standard pair of scissors.

I’m very pleased with this setup, which I’m keeping in “temporary mode” to make sure things are working properly for the next week or so.

By the way, the clock in question is originally from Cassadaga Valley Central School in Sinclairville, New York. They were doing some major renovations in the school in the early 2000s and replaced the clock system. I had been in the school a couple of times in the 1980s and knew they had the same type of clock system I collected. They were happy to let me have one or two clocks for my collection, as they were just getting thrown away.

Perhaps they needed a little Raspberry Pi that fits inside a small box to get things going again.

Delayed.

Yesterday Apple announced they would be delaying the release of their new “CSAM scanning” software originally slated for upcoming iOS15. For those unfamiliar, CSAM is short for Child Sexual Abuse Material, and the majority of the cloud providers (Google, Dropbox, Microsoft, and Apple) scan photos uploaded to their servers for this type of thing. This is a good thing. Getting the trafficking of CSAM under control is very important and actually a no-brainer. No one wants to see children abused in any way, including this way.

Apple’s intended release was to scan devices BEFORE the image made it to their servers. So, if you used iCloud to store your photos, Apple’s new software would scan the image before it made its way to the cloud, using the horsepower of your device, and on your actual device. The scanning is done based on hashes and these hashes are compared to a third party list of offending hashes. A hash is basically a binary/numeric representation of an image, not the actual image. So, if Apple found a photo’s hash that matched a listed hash, there could be trouble. The system is not 100%, but Apple assured folks there was a one in a million chance of a false positive.

Many security professionals much smarter than me, and security minded folks like me, obviously want to end the exchange of CSAM. CSAM is bad. But essentially building software that is a back door into anyone’s device to scan all cloud-bound images for this material is really bad. Apple promised this scanning would be used for this purpose and this purpose only, but once a back door is created, it can be exploited. It can be abused. Not to mention bad actors putting non-CSAM images on the hit list, for example LGBTQ+ themed images identified in a country that doesn’t like that sort of thing.

Apple has ramped back the release to re-evaluate based on customer feedback, consumer group concerns, etc.

It’s still not a good idea. If the images are on a cloud server, have at it. But scanning images directly on a device, which is essentially the same as inviting Apple to come into your house every night and rifle through your cabinets, wallets, etc., is a very bad idea. No one would allow this in the real world. We shouldn’t give up our digital privacy so easily.

The Real World.

I’ve been trying really hard to find the good things going on in the world. This is not an easy thing to do. The news media thrives on negativity, and with Trump out of office they’re doing everything they can to sensationalism any glimmer of bad news into something outrageous to build ratings and ad revenue.

It’s not easy to blog about the happy when the world is filled with so much unhappy. So, as a distraction, here’s Mr. Mister from 1985 and a performance of “Kyrie”.

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ABBA is back!

It’s finally happened! ABBA as announced a new album, “Voyage”, due out in November. Going along with the new album, “ABBA” will be performing in a specially constructed venue in London. I put ABBA in quotes because the performance will actually be by ABBAtars, holographic representations of the group with younger looking features. They’re wearing their motion capture suits in the picture at the top of this page.

I would love to go to London to see this show!

Two songs of the upcoming “Voyage” album were released today. The first, “I Still Have Faith In You” and “Don’t Shut Me Down”. I enjoy both songs and even though it’s been 39 years since the release of their last single, “Under Attack”, these new tracks solidly sound like ABBA. They sound as great as ever.

I can’t wait for the entire album to drop.

Texas.

I always thought Texas wanted to secede from the United States because they have they’re own little country going on down there, with their own rules, big hair, big trucks, and quite frankly, too many people with shit for brains.

I could easily go on a long rant about how stupid and idiotic things are in The Lone Star state. The whole loss of electricity last winter. The rampant COVID-19 blowing through the population. Now they’ve set up a citizens tattling system where any citizen can sue anyone involved with a suspected abortion after the first six weeks of pregnancy. The Uber driver, the doctor, the security guard at the clinic, the woman, the man, hell, probably even the fetus. No evidence is required, just an anonymous tip to a website and if the accused doesn’t show up they default to guilty and $10K in fines are some other such nonsense. Feels like McCarthyism with a more sadistic twist to me. Anyone that thinks this is a good idea is out of their god damn mind.

Of course, the tainted Supreme Court of the United States ruled to let the new stay while they figure things out because Trump, McConnell, and the fucktard set put judges on the bench that have no right or merit to be there. The Supreme Court, as it is today, is a joke and if they weren’t so dangerous with their idiocy I couldn’t care less what they had to say.

This is a huge step in order to nullify Roe v Wade, and if anyone thinks the idiots on the Supreme Court are going to protect anything like gay rights or voter rights or anything else that isn’t man at work-wife in the kitchen-and 2.5 children-only white thank you, you’re an idiot too.

I’m sure that busted up old hag in Maine (Susan Collins) is very concerned. Of course the lobster fucktards up there voted her back in because they’re stupid and probably dying of butter poisoning because we all know lobster is nothing more than a butter delivery system. Meanwhile, in Arizona we’re stuck with some fuckwit (Kyrsten Sinema) that dresses up in skirts and wigs and does cutsie dances while denying people a raise in minimum wage.

But I’m not going to rant.