This made me laugh…

I was about to just straight up bit bucket this thing but decided to at least take a look since all I saw was the name when I glanced on my phone.  I’m glad I did because I needed a good laugh.

From: Amy <[email protected]>

Message Body:
Hello owner,

My name is Amy and I am a private investigator with 20 years of experience. PLEASE READ THIS MESSAGE SERIOUSLY! While browsing the internet just now, I found out there are some people talking BAD about your website at a few online forums and Facebook groups. They are creating Bad Reputation about your website! They even say is a big liar and many people had believed them!

I decided to capture some screen shots of their activities and make it into a FREE report for you.

Please download the report that I made for your website here : [link removed for safety]

Your contact form does not allow file upload, so I uploaded it into a free file hosting site called, they host files for free so you are required to complete a short survey before downloading your report.

Take a look into this matter RIGHT NOW! Download your report here : [link removed for safety]

P/S: I am just trying to help. If you DON’T CARE about your REPUTATION you can ignore my message.


This mail is sent via contact form on The Minuteman

Obviously you’re not familiar with me or this website.  I am well known and take pleasure in the idea that some people hate me.  I’m well aware of people writing bad things about me on the internet.  I just make sure when I find it I return the favor.

I’m reasonably sure Amy that my reputation with those I actually respect is quite well intact.  In the words of Winston Churchill:

You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.

Thanks for confirming I’ve done my job.

Quote of the Day–Say Uncle(1/17/2012)

But Obama has now asked the CDC to study the link between video games and violence. Personally, I played a lot of Pac-Man and Donkey Kong as a kid so I walk around swallowing pills and swinging a hammer at any gorilla I see.

Say UncleNRA v. Obama

January 17th, 2012

[I laughed when I read both of those sentences.  First yet another example of a point made by the NRA and fearless leader has turned around to follow it.  Again, when I read it I heard exactly this in my head:

I know they will never come out like that and say it, but I can keep wishing right?

Except I don’t really think the NRA is right on this one though.  Our Narcissist and Chief hates the First Amendment until it is politically convenient and beneficial for him, otherwise he hates it like he does the second.  I am pissed at the NRA because I honestly feel like they threw video games and the First Amendment under the bus.

I grew up on Mario, last I checked I’m not running down the street eating mushrooms and jumping on Goombas

I played Duck Hunt and have yet to actually go duck hunting or even bird hunting in general.

I played Excitebike and I didn’t go into the extreme sports.

I played Super Off-Road, again I don’t find myself taking my truck into crazy off road courses*.

I played Doom, last I checked I haven’t had an urge to go to Mars and start killing hell spawned aliens because they killed my pet bunny.

I played Command and Conquer, the whole series, and I have yet to end up as a general in some war over Tiberium

I played Duke Nukem 3D and I still haven’t found myself running around saying “It’s time to kick ass and chew bubble gum and I’m all out of gum” while killing alien invaders.

I played Quake III Arena and have yet to find myself wanting to create a real arena death match and kill everyone else inside. 

I played Unreal Tournament in many modes with Capture the Flag and Football being my favorites.  I have yet to feel the urge to actually shoot someone during a game of capture the flag or football.

I played Rainbow Six and have yet to find myself wanting to run around shooting people thinking they’re terrorists who’re intent on bio-warfare.

I played Ghost Recon and have yet to run around killing people thinking they’re ultra nationalists planning on rebuilding the Soviet Union.

I played Soldier of Fortune and have yet to run around shooting the limbs off of people.

I played Call of Duty and have yet to feel the urge to run around killing people while dressed as a soldier.

So can someone please explain to me given all the different games I played, note that’s not even all of them, and my countless time spent playing them I somehow didn’t end up screwed up but it’s responsible for screwing up a bunch of other people?  Many of those games listed above were controversial at the time and used as a crutch to explain evil deeds done by evil people.

I’m sorry, but video games aren’t the problem.  I still play new games, hell I spent my Thanksgiving killing virtual people in new and creative ways, still don’t have the urge to do it for real.  I guess I’m defective. –B]

*That isn’t to say I haven’t gotten it stuck.

Smart Guns–An Engineers Perspective

So yesterday the “smart gun” meme was fluttering everywhere.  A long debate ensued on twitter.



So I made a couple of comments and it seems that people have no clue how innovation works or how engineering works.  This isn’t surprising because these are the same people who think Steve Jobs just magically gave birth to the iPad and iPhone.  Remember these are the same people who came up with ideas like this.

Laugh if you want, but someone needs to figure out how to harness the energy in earthquakes

Seriously. I’m no engineer so I can’t even begin to think about this in real terms, but just imagine if that energy were somehow able to be captured and stored for use.

Go read the post it’s worth it.  So now on to our current problem, “smart guns”.

There is one serious problem with the concept and idea of smart guns, they are doomed to fail from the start.  Period, end of discussion and I will explain.  The whole premise of a firearm is rooted in one simple undeniable fact:

When you pull the trigger it must go bang.  No exceptions.

Now we all realize that no system is 100% reliable though most guns are exceptional in their reliability and quality.  Here is the Glock 17 Gen4 stress test by Pistol

We will use the round count of 53,526 rounds and 9 stoppages for our calculations.  That gives the Glock 17 Gen 4 a reliability of 99.9831857%

That is a failure rate of 0.0168%.  That’s right folks a MTBF (Mean Time Between Failure) of approximately 5947 rounds.  Of note this is a sigma of 1 since we only have the numbers for a single unit of test.  Also of note though is for the most part regarding firearms, this is a must have level of reliability.  For many it is considered a “standard” to meet or exceed.

So now we have a starting point for reliability.  Here’s where we run into a problem.  No matter what you do you cannot improve the reliability, you can only degrade it.

Lets say we could make a device that operated with the same reliability as the firearm but attached to the weapon, what would happen?

We’ve cut our reliability almost exactly in half!  Let me explain.

Rgun = (1-0.016…%)  Rsafety=(1-0.016….%)  Rtotal=Rgun * Rsafety  Rtotal = 99.9663743%

Or a failure rate of 0.03362568%

So how many failures is that in the same 53,526 rounds?   17.9984

But again, we are talking about a device who’s sole purpose is to go bang when you pull the trigger.  A device that must be reliable because the failure of the weapon can result in the loss of life for the operator.

While none of these numbers seem terribly large, this is why you have not seen any company pursue this path.  In order to maintain existing reliability you would have to double the reliability of the weapons well as have an additional safety with equivalent reliability.  This however is impossible because there are many other factors that come into play regarding an additional safety and reliability.

The biggest is ease of use.  You know why police and the general public like Glocks?   Because they are unbelievably simple to operate and maintain.  Any additional safety will increase the complexity of operation, period.  There will be required to be some sort of user interaction with the device.  Say it’s a palm print scanner?  What happens if during a hasty draw you don’t get a solid grip on your weapon?  Normally this wouldn’t matter, it would just be more uncomfortable during recoil.  This safety will fail, it cannot properly identify the user and as it’s design is to prevent the weapon from going bang, it will do it’s job.  Biometrics are unreliable as it is and have been extensively in the realm of high end research for a while.  How does this magically change overnight?

Next up, battery life.  The system will have to be running 24/7 365, actively scanning and giving a pass/fail return to the firing mechanism.  Some could say, “well just use a pressure switch.” Except the level of processing required and initialization lets say you get that down to a half second.  That’s an extra half second before your first shot, it didn’t go bang when you wanted it to.

Don’t forget tin whiskers, humidity, temperature, SEU, electromechanical components failing due to the shock, and I could continue down the list.  The idea you could match the same reliability as a mechanical device is laughable but I used it here because it’s the best possible outcome.

This is why we don’t see the military or law enforcement pursing these types of technologies.  Think about it, Law Enforcement should be all over funding and pushing manufacturers to develop this as a reliable technology.  It is the perfect solution to weapons retention and preventing a criminal from taking an officers duty weapon during a scuffle.

Yet no one does it?  The answer is said plainly above, reliability.  The firearm has one critical function, that is to go bang when told to by the operator.  Anything that is designed to interfere with that function is a massive risk and will increase the probability of failure.  In the event of failure the death of the operator is quite possibly going to occur.  Especially since you pointed a firearm at someone, you have indicated willingness to use lethal force.

So tell me again how science fiction will solve the issues of the real world?  Further comparing safety features on cars to guns is a non-starter.  The reason is simple, no safety features are allowed to conflict with the primary inputs from the driver.  Any feature that might possibly interfere is placed in parallel and designed to fail open.  For example, ABS cannot operate on it’s own, it must occur with a brake signal.  In the event of an ABS system failure, the brakes will still work, but can lock up.

Now it is true that there are features now such as emergency brakes that will improve reaction time.  It is also of note in those vehicles you can override the system again cutting it from the loop.  There are extensive diagnostics testing that system specifically to remove it from the loop in the event of failure.  Why? Because slamming your brakes on the freeway at 60 MPH in the middle of traffic is bad and a liability for the manufacturer and engineer.

Tell me, given the above information, how can you create a gun that will still fire when the safety fails if the safety’s sole job is to keep the gun from firing.  If that’s the case, anyone could just disable the safety so what’s the point?

As an engineer my job is to make things, safer and reliable.  I would refuse to work on a project relating to a “smart gun” because honestly it can not accomplish either of those two things.  Safer in this case applies to the operator, not the target.  When the operator pulls the trigger it must go bang it’s what’s safest for the operator.

In closing if this is such a reliable and fantastic idea, why has it never been implemented anywhere else with extensive reliability?  We do not even see biometric identification in cars?  It would be of no where the inconvenience to have to swipe your thumb again to get your car to start as your firearm not going bang when you need it to.  You would have much more space for the processing equipment, less requirements for shock, overall it’s a better more likely environment, yet we don’t see it implemented.

Again it comes down to reliability, when I turn the key on my truck, I expect my ignition to turn over.  I do not expect it to fail because my truck doesn’t realize I grew a beard and look different.  I do not expect it to fail because I sliced my finger and have to wear a band-aid.  Just the same, I want my gun to go bang even if I’m wearing gloves.

The idea of smart guns is purely science fiction and that is not going to change any time soon.

Killing Time and Taking a Break…

Well Thanksgiving is here.  I’m having dinner with some family friends Thursday night and have today through Sunday off.  I will probably write a few posts here and there but honestly me thinks I’m going to take some me time.

It’s been a long time since I got a game at release time.

I picked up Hitman Absolution on steam at 10% off with all the previous games as well.  Since I missed Blood Money I figured it was a good deal at under 50 bucks with tax.  So I’m going to spend this weekend killing virtual people in creative ways.

I need to let my mind unwind since I have a week of fun starting Monday.

I’m also in the process of setting up a new Tablet.  I feel like I’m in Star Trek.

How to destroy your Op-Sec…

It appears a member of the Taliban has provided a perfect illustration on how to destroy your operational security.

In a Dilbert-esque faux pax, a Taliban spokesperson sent out a routine email last week with one notable difference. He publicly CC’d the names of everyone on his mailing list.

Oops, there’s no way to unsend it either.  Might I suggest a listserv to save you from future embarrassment.  Then again, it’s not that I mind you just unzipped your fly to the whole world.

Technology can be a wonderful and dangerous thing depending which side of the line you’re on.

Yeah, That’s Always the Solution

Yes, read that title with a serious sense of sarcasm because unsurprisingly we have the following.

Some officials are calling for the U.S. military to take over the managerial structure of the Long Island Power Authority until power is restored on Long Island, where more than a quarter million homes and businesses are still in the dark after Sandy and a snowstorm.

Because fighting a war is so close to restoring and rebuilding the electric power system?  Don’t get me wrong, I have the utmost respect for the military, but there is nothing to indicate they have the skills or abilities necessary to fix this problem.

Now it must be noted that the Navy does have a few men who actually do know something about the power system and distribution, but they also focus on it being aboard ship, with a smaller system with redundancy designed to survive casualties.  Others would look at the military and say, “Well the military has to supply power to their bases.”  Well even the military is lacking the people and skills to do that now days.

By September 30, 2003, most of the over two thousand utility systems owned and operated by the Military Departments are to be privatized. See DoD Reform Initiative Directive #49. Utility systems include systems: (1) for the generation and supply of electric power; (2) for the supply of natural gas; (3) for the transmission of telecommunications; (4) for the treatment or supply of water; (5) for the collection or treatment of wastewater; and (6) for the generation or supply of steam, hot water, and chilled water.

So what exactly would involving the government in the power restoration process do other than create an additional layer of bureaucratic red tape to go through?

There was a considerable amount of damage and it is very serious and not simple.  Many lines that have been repaired remain out of service because there isn’t enough power feeding in to support the line currently.  Not to mention the fact that there has also been damage to the natural gas system and other areas will not have power restored until the gas problems are fixed.

As I said previously:

So what we have is a bunch of distribution points that were/are full of water, need to be drained, the equipment cleaned, checked, maintained, and replaced possibly in some instances.  All of this must be done before re-energizing that circuit.

That takes time, it doesn’t happen overnight, and given the fact that salt water, metal, and electricity is involved  you better do it right.  If you don’t it will be more likely to fail in the future.

Does it suck being out of power?  Yes it does and anyone who thinks a utility doesn’t care about it’s customers being out of power, specifically a significant amount, doesn’t have a brain between their ears.  Each day service is down is a day of lost revenue.  Figure how many people there are, not to mention commercial customers, and then think about how much they’re loosing overall.

Yet again a group of people are screaming the government will magically solve the problem.  Most of those same people actually don’t have a clue about what’s actually going on.

No, I Think You Missed The Point…

“If you think a control-system attack that takes down a utility even for a few hours is not serious, just look at what is happening now that Mother Nature has taken out those utilities,” Napolitano said at a Washington Post cybersecurity event, noting the effects in some cases can be “life threatening.”

While yes, cybersecurity should be taken seriously, Sandy is not an example of how dangerous a cyber attack could be.

What do I mean I hear you cry?  Sandy is a prime example of what someone could do to physically interrupt the power system.  While you could find a way to get a breaker to open or close unintentionally, the easier method of disrupting utilities is to find critical points and physically knock them out.

First, let me do a quick explanation of what’s going on in the NYC area.  Most power distribution in the NYC area is below ground.  This makes it below sea level.  This is one of the reasons they shut down many areas early, in an effort to protect equipment so that it can return to service more quickly.  Still, that equipment has to be cleaned, transformers for example have to be washed, insulation checked, and refilled with cooling oil.  This takes time, though much less time than having to fly in a replacement transformer, removing the old one, and installing and commissioning the new one.

So what we have is a bunch of distribution points that were/are full of water, need to be drained, the equipment cleaned, checked, maintained, and replaced possibly in some instances.  All of this must be done before re-energizing that circuit.

So why did I take the time to explain all that?  Well because it illustrates that if done properly, a physical attack, can easily do more damage than any cyber attack, and even more than that you have decreased the potential recovery time.  But that’s not all.  Say you execute an attack on physical infrastructure and take out 2 transmission level transformers on a main artery.

You have now done triple digit damage in the millions if not more.  Plus it will take 2-3 years, at a minimum, to replace the transformers.  Any stock they have for those transformers is in very limited supply.  This means if you hit a couple of places at once, you could very well permanently cripple the ability for a region to get the power necessary to operate.

Seriously, think about this, cyber-security to protect assets worth millions of dollars and provide hundreds of millions in revenue are going to be left unguarded by their owners and operators?  Get real.  The bigger and harder problem is physical security.  How do you stop someone from running a truck into a transmission tower?

Why do I bring all this up?  Because our overlords often start screaming about “necessity” in an effort to create new regulations and requirements which honestly are unnecessary.  They’re unnecessary because do you think a utility company doesn’t want to protect its equipment?  For every minute a transmission line is down they’re loosing millions of dollars in lost revenue.

We’ve seen these cries before and yet again it is to drum up “FUD” among people who don’t really understand how the system works.  FUD is how you make a bunch of people clamor to do something when nothing really needs to be done.  That’s what Janet’s doing with her latest ramblings.

Over Reliance Can Get You Killed…

Over reliance on both the government and technology can get you killed.  Why would I combine the two, well fearless leader has an over reliance on technology which he then passed onto his drones in the middle of a disaster area.

When President Barack Obama urged Americans under siege from Hurricane Sandy to stay inside and keep watch on for the latest, he left out something pretty important — where to turn if the electricity goes out.

Despite the heightened expectation of widespread power and cable television failures, everyone from the president to local newscasters seem to expect the public to rely entirely on the Internet and their TVs for vital news and instructions.

Because complex interconnected systems are reliable when operating out of the their normal range of operation?  Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t to say that social media and the internet isn’t a tool worthy of use or note.  What I am saying is it is not the only tool in the tool box.  Seriously, if you’re power goes out, the only internet connection you’d have left is your smart phone.  Smart phone batteries don’t last forever, especially after you take an update from Google and removes battery saving features, I digress.

The point is  about the most reliable form of emergency communication is radio.  Period, full stop, end of discussion.  AM Radios can be built that do not require extensive antennas or even batteries.  I have handheld HAM radios that no only work on the HAM bands but can also receive shortwave radio sent from thousands of miles away.

That’s the thing about radio, it can be broadcast from outside the disaster area.  All you need within the disaster area is a capable receiver, which most are small compact, and some are even battery free.  Take these for example that I found on Amazon* (not visible in RSS).

Reliance on cellphones, while you can certainly get  hand crank chargers doesn’t mean your cell towers will stay in operation.  Cellular signals are on a shorter wavelength and will not travel as far.  Now most cellular sites have 72 hours of emergency power, but this also assumes their back haul remains active and intact.

I find it unbelievable how over reliant people are on technology to protect them and save them.  Yes it can help you survive, but just like a firearm it isn’t some magic talisman that will save you.  You need to understand how it works so you know it’s limitations.  You need to be familiar with how it can fail so you know what you need to do for plan B or C.

Yes you may not be able to communicate out for help but I have some bad news on the cell phone front during a disaster.  It will probably fail, like it has done in NYC.  Even if you have signal it probably wont work.  For example during the Nisqually Quake in 2001 communications throughout the Puget Sound went down, even emergency dispatch centers lost their primary radios.  Cell phones for the most part were dead, mainly because they were jammed with people trying to communicate in the area.    I got lucky and was able to make a connection to a location 300 miles away, local calls I got nothing.

The key is this, do not count on anything that requires established infrastructure in an emergency.  You could easily lose radio towers however, temporary antennas are easily set up to replace them.  This again was proven during the Nisqually Quake when emergency HAM nets were activated and operationally moving traffic throughout the Puget Sound in under 30 minutes after the quake.

So, have a plan, plan on that plan failing.  No plan survives first contact with the enemy.  Being able to communicate out is a very nice tool to have, but for most instances you just need to be able to hear and receive traffic.

*This is not an endorsement of these products, I have not used them.