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Scary Tongue

Here's how folks in Canada are convinced not to buy cigarettes. This is a box of cigarettes that I happened across in an airport in Canada. Pretty gross. yes, I am convinced!

Fascinating article about the technology behind

Pretty amazing that the govt is actually placing all the code for on github for all of us to inspect. There's only one commit, and it's 3 months old. Also there's a reasonable amount of developer information available.

Somehow I suspect that it is not all there or how fast it will be updated, but still whatever's there is a big step forward from the SOP of the past!

Open by design: Why the way the new was built matters | E Pluribus Unum:

The people building the new are unusual: instead of an obscure sub-contractor in a nameless office park in northern Virginia, a by a multidisciplinary team at HHS worked with Development Seed, a scrappy startup in a garage in the District of Columbia that made its mark in the DC tech scene deploying Drupal, an open source content management system that has become popular in the federal government over the past several years.

I wouldn’t put it past them

How much do you want to bet that somewhere someone in this country a malware or other attack is being launched against the new "Obamacare" Web site?

I have great sympathy for the team(s) that put up that web site, back end and other support infrastructure for this site. And in the best of possible conditions there will be hiccups in deploying such a complex system. Add to that that at 8:00am today everyone on earth knew that the site was up and that they could start playing with it, and you are facing a real challenge. So don't be surprised if there's a small or big hiccup in the first few weeks and months.

But it occurred to me that over and above that, there are so many haters in this country (and probably around the world) that there almost certainly are concious and malicious attacks being waged to corrupt, disrupt, bring down, slow down, or steal data from this service, all in an effort to embarass us in front of all the world.

I really really hope this isn't true, but, I wouldn't put it past them.

Interesting behind-the-scenes look at NSA

Zegart joins scholars at NSA for rare briefing on spy agency's woes - CISAC:

CISAC Co-Director Amy Zegart and nine other national security and intelligence scholars were recently invited to the headquarters of the National Security Agency in Fort Meade, Md., for unprecedented talks with high-ranking officials. They discussed cybersecurity, the plummeting public trust in the agency, its relationship with Congress and how to rebuild the agency's reputation and rethink its program operations.

[security] Fascinating ID Theft saga

It is quite amazing (but not surprising) the degree of sophistication, care, and patience these hackers apply. Their engineering and business savvy are at the same level as the best of Google and Amazon.

Data Broker Giants Hacked by ID Theft Service -- Krebs on Security:

An identity theft service that sells Social Security numbers, birth records, credit and background reports on millions of Americans has infiltrated computers at some of America's largest consumer and business data aggregators, according to a seven-month investigation by KrebsOnSecurity.

[teaching] A student’s perspective on course selection

I stumbled across this article while waiting for a meeting to start. It is a bit "inside baseball", in this case "inside brandeis" but it was revealing to me at least. Students can "shop" for courses for the first two weeks of the term, attending classes and adding and dropping at will during that time as they settle for their choices. I guess when I went to college they had that too, but I wasn't aware of how it worked, so I never did it.

It makes for odd dynamics in the class room as for the first two weeks you don't really know who to expect to see, who will show up next time, and whether they are keeping up or not. This writer does not seem to be enjoying his college experience as much as I did 🙂

The Brandeis Hoot » Course selection shopping period: the honeymoon is over:

Not so this semester. At final tally, I had signed up for five classes and audited seven more only to realize that I did not enjoy the class. So what was the problem? What do I look for in a class? The first consideration I take into account is whether it fulfils course requirements. The truth is that I don't particularly enjoy 90 percent of the classes I join, and I am frankly confused when I hear of someone taking a class "for fun".

30 Year TV Show

I just saw that the final "Season" of Mad Men will be delivered in two mini- seasons, 7 episdodes in 2014 and 7 more in 2015. I had this idea for a TV show that has not been done yet.

Just like the contrivance of 24 hours is that it occurred over a 24 hour period, in real time, my show, called 30 Years, occurs over a 30 year time span, in real time, with the same actors. Here's how it works.

We commit to 30 years (calendar years) of seasons, with 4 epiisodes each. The actors start out in year 1, and the same ones, appear year after year, so you actually see them aging and the world changing around them. It's one cogent story line which is determined up front, but it runs for 30 actual years, 4 episodes at a time.

(c) Pito Salas, 2014. Patent Pending.

Looks like a fun book: “Cockpit Confidential”

The Many Mysteries of Air Travel -

If you'd like the answers, I highly recommend Patrick Smith's new book, "Cockpit Confidential." Mr. Smith is a pilot and blogger; much of the book's format and contents are on display at his Web site,, or in the archives of the "Ask the Pilot" column he wrote for for years.