Via Bruce Schneier, an advisor to the project, Citizen Lab has created an online tool to help you stay safe online:
Security Planner is a custom security advice tool from Citizen Lab. Answer a few questions, and it gives you a few simple things you can do to improve your security. It's not meant to be comprehensive, but instead to give people things they can actually do to immediately improve their security. I don't see it replacing any of the good security guides out there, but instead augmenting them.
The advice is peer reviewed, and the team behind Security Planner is committed to keeping it up to date.
Some of the recommendations are simple: use Chrome; use https:// whenever it's available; use your computer's built-in encryption (BitLocker on Windows and FileVault on Mac). Some are a little more complex: use two-factor authentication; set up a password manager.
I recommend anyone who uses computers do a quick self-exam with the tool—especially if you aren't that experienced with security.
I'm about to head to SFO after this very-quick trip to California. My sleeping Surface will have these articles waiting for me to read:
And finally, check out this recruiting video from the New Zealand police (via Deeply Trivial):
I've been in frenetic housecleaning mode today, since it's the first work-from-home Wednesday I've had in...let me see...10 weeks. And apparently I last had my housekeeping service here 16 weeks ago. (It wasn't that bad; I do clean up occasionally.)
The activity and actually having to do my job has led me to miss a couple of news stories, which I will now queue up to read:
- Former President Obama spoke at the Economic Club of Chicago last night, and said, at one point, "American democracy is fragile, and unless care is taken it could follow the path of Nazi Germany in the 1930s."
- Citylab outlines how the tax bill now working its way through reconciliation between the House and Senate will be really, really bad for cities. As if we didn't know. As if that wasn't a feature, rather than a bug.
- And it doesn't take a Nobel-winning economist to understand the chutzpah behind the Republican Party's bait-and-switch on taxes and deficits. "Now, to be fair, there are some people in America who get lots of money they didn’t lift a finger to earn — namely, inheritors of large estates." How true.
- In more neutral news, the Atlantic has the the year in photos (part 1), with more on the way later this week. I especially like the Turkish seagull (#22).
- Finally The Daily WTF has an example of life imitating satire, and it's sad and funny all at the same time.
I'm now going to throw out all the empty boxes in my office closet, though it pains me to do so. After all, someday I might need to return this pair of wired headphones from 1998...
The Cloud—known to us in the industry as "someone else's computers"—takes a lot of power to run. Which is why our local electric utility, ComEd, is beefing up their service to the O'Hare area:
Last month, it broke ground to expand its substation in northwest suburban Itasca to increase its output by about 180 megawatts by the end of 2019. Large data centers with multiple users often consume about 24 megawatts. For scale, 1 megawatt is enough to supply as many as 285 homes.
ComEd also has acquired land for a new substation to serve the proposed 1 million-square-foot Busse Farm technology park in Elk Grove Village that will include a data center component. The last time ComEd built a substation was in 2015 in Romeoville, to serve nearby warehouses. In the past year, Elk Grove Village issued permits for four data center projects totaling 600,000 square feet and $175 million in construction. If built, it's a 40 percent increase in total data center capacity in the village.
Insiders say Apple, Google, Microsoft and Oracle have taken on more capacity at data centers in metro Chicago in the past year or so.
One deal that got plenty of tongues wagging was from DuPont Fabros Technology, which started work earlier this year on a 305,000-square-foot data center in Elk Grove Village. DuPont, which recently was acquired by Digital Realty Trust, pre-leased half of it, or about 14 megawatts, to a single customer, believed to be Apple.
One of the oldest cloud data centers, Microsoft's North Central Azure DC, is about three kilometers south of the airport here. Notice the substation just across the tollway to the west.
My current project involves military enrollment, so I am following the story of the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program, recently suspended by the Pentagon:
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Friday that he supports reactivating a program designed to attract foreign military recruits who agree to serve in exchange for fast-tracked U.S. citizenship.
Speaking with reporters at the Pentagon, Mattis said the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest program, or MAVNI, was suspended a year ago and additional security measures were put in place to guard against “espionage potential” among U.S. military recruits born in other countries. Those new regulations left the program paralyzed, ending a reliable stream of high-quality troops.
“We are taking the steps obviously to save the program, if it can be saved,” Mattis said. “And I believe it can.”
The MAVNI program has produced more than 10,400 troops since 2009 — personnel who possess language and medical skills deemed vital to military operations and in short supply among U.S.-born troops. The military continues to process those who enlisted before the program was suspended.
It may seem odd that people who enlisted over a year ago still require processing, but this is pretty normal. The Delayed Enlistment Program (DEP) affects nearly all applicants as military needs and space in Basic Military Training (BMT) and advanced schools are both limited. People who enlist can take up to 545 days to ship.
Also, an interesting bit I just learned, if an alien enlists in the DEP and then drops out before shipping to BMT, that person is forever ineligible for US citizenship (8 USC 1426). Also see 8 USC 1429 for how to become a naturalized citizen through military service.
Via CityLab's new newsletter "MapLab:"
“Vision Zero” supporters are tapping into big data in other ways. This month, Strava, the app that tracks users’ athletic activity, re-released a “Global Heatmap” tracing more than 1 billion jogs, hikes, and bike rides by millions of members around the world. (The running scene in London, in striking orange and black, is shown above.) Already, some public agencies are making use of the data to support and protect all that sweat. CityLab’s Benjamin Schneider recently wrote about how Utah’s DOT is changing road and intersection designs to be safer for cyclists, based on the map. “It’s replacing anecdote with data,” one local planner told him.
Here's the run map for Chicago's north lakefront:
This is total Daily Parker bait. But I actually have work to do today.
The unsurprising news that President Trump tweeted about something that his son found out only minutes before back in June shows just how foreign governments can use his impulsiveness and stupidity to play him:
Seeing Assange prompt a Trump tweet, via Don Jr, is I suspect only the first and clearest of many examples. Who told Trump what? In a lot of cases Trump’s tweets will likely tell us. Trump’s October 12th Wikileaks tweet was totally opaque until we found out about Don Jr’s DMs with Assange a few minutes before. Trump’s tweets are impulsive, immediate, unvarnished. They amount to realtime surveillance of what he was thinking and what he knew at key points of the campaign. They just require the fruits of the ongoing investigations to decipher what they mean.
Some day, we'll find out (perhaps through a Truth & Reconciliation Committee) just how badly this man has hurt the country.
Today, by the way, is the 12th anniversary of the modern incarnation of this blog. (I had a proto-blog on braverman.org from 13 May 1998 until this app took over.)
This is the 5,766th post on The Daily Parker. I hope you've enjoyed at least 577 of them.
...and chilly. It's below freezing for the first time in a while. But I don't care, I'm going to be asleep in half an hour.
I'm chilling in my hotel room on the second day of my trip, not sure how much longer I'll remain awake. (Waking up at 5am sucks, even more so when it's 4am back home.) This is a problem in that I need to write some code before tomorrow.
So I've spent a few minutes perusing the blog feeds and news reports that came in today, and I have a favorite. The favorite is not:
No, though all of those brought little flutters of joy to my heart, the story that London is going to make Oxford Street a pedestrian utopia by 2020 really got my interest. Since I have never driven a car anywhere in Zone 1 and have no intention of ever doing so, I think blocking 800 meters of Oxford Street to cars is fookin' brilliant.