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Wednesday Morning: Breaking Spring

In the Spring a livelier iris changes on the burnish’d dove;
In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.

— excerpt, Locksley Hall by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Welcome to spring break. And by break, I mean schedules are broken around here. Nothing like waiting up until the wee hours for a young man whose fancy not-so-lightly turned to love, because spring.

~yawn~

While the teenager lies abed yet, mom here will caffeinate and scratch out a post. It may be early afternoon by the time I get over this spring-induced sleep deprivation and hit the publish button.

Apple blossoms — iPhones and iPads, that is
Not much blooming on the #AppleVsFBI front, where Apple now seeks information about the FBI’s method for breaking into the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone 5C. The chances are slim to none that the FBI will tell Apple anything. Hackday offers a snappy postmortem about this case with an appropriate amount of skepticism.

I wonder what Apple’s disclosure will look like about this entire situation in its next mandatory filing with the SEC? Will iPhone 5C users upgrade to ditch the undisclosed vulnerability?

What if any effect will the iPhone 5C case have on other criminal cases where iPhones are involved — like the drug case Brooklyn? Apple asked for a delay in that case, to assess its position after the iPhone 5C case. We’ll have to wait until April 11 for the next move in this unfolding crypto-chess match.

In the meantime, spring also means baseball, where new business blossoms for Apple. Major League Baseball has now signed with Apple for iPads in the dugout. Did the snafu with Microsoft’s Surface tablets during the NFL’s AFC championship game persuade the MLB to go with Apple?

Volkswagen coasting
It’s downhill all the way for VW, which missed last week its court-imposed 30-day deadline to offer a technical solution on its emissions standards cheating “clean diesel” passenger vehicles. If there was such a thing as “clean diesel,” VW would have met the deadline; as I said before, there’s no such thing as “clean diesel” technology. The judge allowed a 30-day extension to April 24, but my money is on another missed deadline. Too bad there’s not a diesel engine equivalent of Cellebrite, willing to offer a quick fix to VW or the court, huh?

Of note: former FBI director Robert Mueller has been named “special master” on this case by Judge Charles Breyer; Mueller has been meeting with all the parties involved. What the heck is a “special master”? We may not have a ready answer, but at least there’s a special website set up for this case, In re: Volkswagen “Clean Diesel” MDL.

The cherry on top of this merde sundae is the Federal Trade Commission’s lawsuit filed yesterday against VW for false advertising promoting its “clean diesel” passenger cars.

With no bottom yet in sight, some are wondering if VW will simply exit the U.S. market.

Automotive odd lot

  • Jury says GM’s ignition switch was bad, but not at fault in a 2014 accident in New Orleans (Reuters) — Keep an eye on media representation of this case. Headline on this one focused on the switch, not the jury’s decision.
  • Car-to-car communications will be road tested soon (MIT Technology Review) — This technology might have prevented Google’s self-driving car from getting crunched by a bus recently.
  • Dude demonstrates his hack of Alexa + Raspberry Pi + OBDLink to remote start his car (Gizmodo) — What. even.
  • Did Tennyson write anything about spring spawning naps? Because I feel like I need one. Hope we’re back in the groove soon. See you in the morning.

    Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.

Monday Morning: Feeling Rather Mussorgsky

It’s not even 7:00 a.m. here as I start to write this post, and the day is already frantic — like Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain. I don’t expect a placid ending to the first day of this week, either.

Strap in, lock and load.

Volkswagen on a roll — downhill, fast

  • A former employee who worked at the Michigan-based Volkswagen Group of America’s data processing center filed suit for wrongful termination. The employee lost their job after warning against data deletion after the U.S. Department of Justice ordered VW to halt normal data deletion processes to preserve potential evidence. Michigan is an at-will state, meaning employees can be fired for any reason at any time if they do not have a contract. However, employers may not fire workers in retaliation for refusing to do illegal acts or for reporting violations of health and safety code. Not a sketchy situation at all…this case might be an opportunity for discovery.
  • VW cutting jobs back home in Germany, with administrative roles taking the biggest hit. At the same time, VW says it intends to hire more software and technology personnel as it shifts away from traditional automotive technology. Huh — not a move I would expect when VW clearly hasn’t a handle on electronic vehicle technology.
  • Car sales are up 6.3 percent in the EU, but VW-brand car sales are off 4 percent. Ford and GM’s Opel picked up what VW lost in terms of sales.

Asking oranges from Apple

  • USDOJ hint-hints with little subtlety it will demand Apple’s source code. By subtlety, I mean a footnote shaped like a cudgel in its response to #AppleVsFBI:

    The FBI cannot itself modify the software on Farook’s iPhone without access to the source code and Apple’s private electronic signature.

    The government did not seek to compel Apple to turn those over because it believed such a request would be less palatable to Apple. If Apple would prefer that course, however, that may provide an alternative that requires less labour by Apple programmers.

    You can read Marcy’s take on the USDOJ’s Lavabit gambit for more.

  • The mega-sized tech companies who support Apple are now doubling down on encryption. Couldn’t see that coming, huh?
  • Some speculate WhatsApp as a communications technology may be the next focus of law enforcement in wake of #AppleVsFBI.
  • John Oliver does a Deep Dive into #AppleVsFBI — amusing take, but Oliver and his writing team have far too simplistic a take on this case. It’s not just that FBI wants a ‘master key,’ or that the FBI relies on All Writs to make its demand on Apple. It’s about forcing a company to create something entirely new, and something that’s not intrinsically part of its product.

Another energy industry executive dead
Josh Comstock, CEO of C&J Energy Services in Houston, Texas, died unexpectedly on Friday. He passed away in his sleep at age 46. Comstock was a supporter of NHRA drag racing. His company, which provided hydraulic fracturing (fracking) services, lost considerable value over the last year with the sharp drop in oil prices and field development.

Oil dudes are under a lot of stress these days.

And it being a Monday, so are we. Relax when you can, gang. I’m clocking out.

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.

Friday Morning: Lovely

We made it to Friday! Yay! And that means another jazz genre. This week it’s shibuya-kei, a sub-genre/fusion born of Japanese jazz. Our sample today is by Kenji Ozawa. Note how damned perky it is, blending jazz elements with pop and synthpop. Its cuteness might also be described as kawaii, but that’s a whole ‘nother topic.

Some other shibuya-kei artists you might want to try are Paris Match (Metro), Aira Mitsuki (Butterly), Maki Nomiya (Shibuya-kei Standards), Takako Minekawa (Plash), and Kensuke Shiina (Luv Bungalow).

Get your mellow on and jazz your Friday up.

Urgent: Update Adobe Flash immediately if you apply patches manually
Go to this Security Bulletin link at Adobe for details. The update fixes 23 vulnerabilities, one or more of which are being used in exploits now though information about attacks are not being disclosed yet. And yes, this past Tuesday was Patch Tuesday, but either this zero-day problem in Flash was not known then, or a solution had not yet been completed, or…whatever. Just make sure you check all your updates, with this Adobe Flash patch at the top of the list.

USDOJ doing its PR thing on #AppleVsFBI
After reports this week that FBI director James Comey was a political liability in the case against Apple, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch appeared on Stephen Colbert’s The Late Show to make the case for Apple writing code as requested by USDOJ. She said,

“First of all, we’re not asking for a backdoor, nor are we asking anyone to turn anything on to spy on anyone. We’re asking them to do what their customer wants. The real owner of the phone is the county, the employer, of one of the terrorists who is dead,”

Right. And my iPhone-owning kid wants a ham sandwich — will Apple write an app on demand for that, just because my kid’s the owner of the iPhone?

Look, nearly all software is licensed — the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone may be property of the county that employed him, but the iOS software is property of Apple. Maybe Lynch needs a ham sandwich, too, a little boost in blood sugar to grok this point.

Volkswagen’s Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Week continues

  • Looks like VW’s U.S. CEO Michael Horn bailed out because he butted heads with the Holzkopfs in German leadership (Jalopnik)
  • By butting heads, that is to say, Horn dislikes the idea of jail time (Forbes) — though naming executives is pro forma on such lawsuits, if Horn was only in his role for roughly 18 months and this fraud goes back 8-9 years, AND Germany’s executive team disagreed with Horn’s proposal for U.S. dealers and vehicle owners, he’s reasonably twitchy about sticking around.
  • VW updated its emissions standards defeat code after its existence was revealed (Forbes) — wanna’ bet it was a software patch?

Stray cats and dogs

  • White House wants +20M more Americans on broadband (DailyDot) — Under ConnectALL initiative, a new subsidy program will help low income citizens get online with broadband access.
  • Pew Research study shows 15% of Americans still not online (Pew Research Center) — Rural, low income, minority, elderly are most likely not to have internet access; they’re the same target group as proposed federal ConnectALL program.
  • But good luck with broadband speed or cable TV content if HBO-TWC-Charter continue to scuffle over the TWC-Charter merger (AdAge) — Yet another example of the fundamental conflict between content makers and internet providers; internet providers should focus on the quality of their internet service, not on the content in the ‘series of tubes’ they supply.`

And just for giggles, note the Irish economy has expanded at fastest rate since 2000. Gee, I wonder what would happen to the Irish economy if major tech companies like Apple moved to Ireland?

I’m out of here — have a great weekend!

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.

Thursday Morning: Things Are Gonna’ Change

After Tuesday’s primaries and last night’s Democratic candidates’ debate, surely something will change in messaging and outreach.

And surely something will change on the other side of the aisle given the continued rampage of ‘Someone With Tiny Hands.”

Calls to mind an animated movie popular with my kids a few years ago.

Moving on…

Volkswagen and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

  • USDOJ subpoenaed VW under recent banking law (CNBC) — This is the first such application of the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act (Firrea) since it was signed into law in 1989 in response to the savings and loan scandal. The law was used to target bank fraud in subprime mortgages after the 2008 financial crisis. (Caveat: that link at CNBC autoplays video. Bad practice, CNBC very bad.)
  • VW’s US CEO Michael Horn departs with marked haste (Bloomberg) — Huh. Interesting timing, that. A subpoena and an exit inside 48 hours? The phrases “mutual agreement” and “leave to pursue other opportunities” are very telling. IMO, Volkswagen Group’s response to the scandal has been lackluster to obstructionist, and Horn might not want to be the automaker’s sin eater here in the U.S.
  • Not looking good in Germany for VW, either, as prosecutors expand their investigation (Business Insider) — 17 employees now under scrutiny, up from six.
  • VW’s South Korean offices raided (Reuters) — Wondered when South Korea would catch up after all the recenty happy-happy about clean diesel passenger vehicle sales.

I feel like I’m telling a child Santa Claus is a lie and the Easter Bunny doesn’t exist, but it’s important to this scandal to grasp this point: There is no clean diesel technology. There is no clean diesel technology coming any time soon. Invoke a little Marcus Aurelius here and look at this situation and its essential nature, by asking why VW cheated and lied and did so for so long.

Because there is no clean diesel technology.

And the clock is tick-tick-ticking — the court case in California gave VW 30 days to come up with a technical solution. Mark your calendar for March 24, people.

A – Apple, B – Bollocks, C – Cannot…

Panopticonic POV

  • Defense Department used surveillance drones over U.S. for a decade (USA Today) — All legit, though, nothing to see here, move along. Disregard the incomplete list of flights, just trust.
  • What will happen when your neighbors can buy a StingRay on the cheap to listen in on your cellphone calls? (Bloomberg) — Worse thought: what if they’ve already built one?
  • If you’re a commercial trucker, chances are anybody can track you (Naked Security) — Read this, especially the pointers at the bottom of the article. (Personal tip from me: If you’re a female trucker, use a gender neutral name or initials in the workplace. Insist your employer respects this practice.)

That’s enough damage for one day. Things have got to change.

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.

Tuesday Morning: Some Kind of Freak

Today’s the intersection of my Gwen Stefani jag and International Women’s Day 2016. Need some more estrogen-powered music to celebrate IWD? Try this list — note and compare Lesley Gore’s You Don’t Own Me and Nancy Sinatra’s These Boots Are Made for Walking against more recent tunes like No Doubt’s Just A Girl.

Let’s roll…

Volkswagen shocked, SHOCKED! the EPA went public on the diesel emissions standards cheat
But by the time the EPA made public statements regarding VW, the German automaker had already known about the International Council on Clean Transportation’s research results for a year and had yet to reveal to shareholders the risk of prosecution and penalties. VW’s leadership hoped for a mild and quiet slap on the hands and enough time for a technical solution before the EPA’s disclosure:

“In the past, even in the case of so-called ‘defeat device’ infringements, a settlement was reached with other carmakers involving a manageable fine without the breach being made public,” VW argued. “And in this case, the employees of Volkswagen of America had the impression on the basis of constructive talks with the EPA that the diesel issue would not be made public unilaterally but that negotiations would continue.”

Hope somebody is looking at insider trading for any sign that VW executives were unloading stock in the period between September 2014 when ICCT’s results were published, and when the EPA went public in 2015. Wonder what penalties there are under German/EU laws for this?

USDOJ appealed last week’s ruling in Brooklyn iPhone 5S case
At the heart of this appeal is Apple’s past cooperative actions when federal law enforcement asked for assistance in unlocking iPhones. Apple, however, said past acquiescence is not consent. USDOJ has now asked for review of Judge Orenstein’s ruling.

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak appeared on Conan, sided unsurprisingly with Apple
Woz admitted to having tried his hand at writing viruses for Mac, but the entire premise terrified him, compelling him to destroyed his efforts. Video of his appearance included at this link.

France to punish phonemakers for encryption, while UK’s GCHQ says it should get around encryption
A narrow body of water, a different language, and a recent terrorist attack make for very different reactions to encrypted communications. France’s Parliament voted yesterday to punish phonemakers which do not cooperate with law enforcement on unencrypting data; the bill is not yet law, subject to further parliamentary process. Meanwhile, Britain’s spy chief said he hopes methods can be developed to get around encryption without building backdoors.

Drive-by quickies

And it’s Presidential Primary Day in Michigan, Mississippi, Idaho, Hawaii. I may avoid social media for most of the day for this reason. Hasta pasta!

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.

Tuesday Morning: Guidance to Be True

Now an oldie but goodie, this Fiona Apple ditty. The subtle undertow of irony seems fitting today.

Speaking of guidance…

Google’s self-driving car went boom
Oops. Autonomous vehicles still not a thing when they can’t avoid something the size of a bus. Thank goodness nobody was hurt. Granted, until now Google’s self-driving test cars were not the cause of accidents — human drivers have been at fault far more often. In this particular accident, both the car and the human test driver may have been at fault.

VW’s CEO Mueller spins the (PR) wheels on agreement with U.S.
This is now a habit: before every major international automotive show, VW’s Matthias Mueller grants an interview to offer upbeat commentary on the emissions standards cheating scandal, this time ahead of the 2016 Geneva International Auto Show. Not certain if this is helping at all; there’s not much PR can do when no truly effective technical fix exists while potential liability to the U.S. alone may approach $46 billion. Probably a better use of my time to skip Mueller’s spin and spend my time slobbering over the Bugatti Chiron. ~fanning self~

Apple all the time

#YearInSpace ends this evening for astronaut Scott Kelly
Undocking begins at 7:45 p.m. EST with landing expected at 11:25 p.m. EST, barring any unforeseen wrinkles like negative weather conditions. NASA-TV will cover the event live. Can’t wait to hear results of comparison testing between Scott and his earth-bound twin Mark after Scott’s year in space.

Department of No

That’s enough for now. I’m off to be a bad, bad girl. Stay safe.

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.

Friday Morning: Afro-Cuban Coffee

I should just dedicate Fridays to different genres of jazz. Today feels like a good day for Afro-Cuban jazz.

This chap, Francisco Raúl Gutiérrez Grillo, who performed under the name Machito with his Afro-Cubans, was an incredibly important innovator shaping Afro-Cuban jazz as well as modern American music. He was important to race in the music industry as well, as his Afro-Cubans may have been the first multi-racial band.

I’m brewing some Café Bustelo before I bust out my dancing shoes. ¡Vamonos!

Judge applies ‘Parkinson’s Law’ to VW emissions cheat case
You know the adage, “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”? U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer gave Volkswagen 30 days to come up with a fix* for all the emissions standards cheating passenger diesel engine cars in the class action lawsuits he oversees in San Francisco. Gotta’ love this:

“It’s an ongoing harm that has to be addressed … I’ve found the process is a function of how much time people have available to fill. The story about lawyers is that that if you give them a year to do something, it will take them a year to do something. If you give them 30 days to do something, they’ll do something in 30 days.”

As time passes, vehicle owners are increasingly damaged as no one wants to buy their cars and their investment is lost. Hence the aggressive time limit.

* Caution: that link to SFGate may autoplay video and ad content. Really, SFGate? That’s such hideously bad form.

Rough road ahead in Saudi Arabia to a post-oil world
This piece in WaPo paints a grim picture of cheap oil’s impact on Saudi Arabia — and there are huge pieces missing. Worth a read while asking yourself how much Saudis are spending on military efforts against Yemen and Syria, and what new industries they’re investing in to replace oil-based employment.

Took long enough: Software and social media firms get Apple’s back
Did their legal departments finally read the case thoroughly and realize they had skin in this game, too? Who knows — but Google as well as Microsoft are planning to file amicus briefs in support of Apple. Microsoft had already indicated they would support Apple in a congressional hearing yesterday morning; Google piped up later. The latest skinny is that Facebook and Twitter both intend to file briefs as well in favor of Apple. Looks like Microsoft’s current management took an 180-degree turn away from progenitor Bill Gates’ initial response, hmm?

Hit and run

That’s a wrap on this week. Keep your eyes peeled for news dumps while folks are still picking apart last night’s GOP-cast reality TV show. And make time to dance.

EDIT — 8:40 AM — Ugh, why didn’t the Detroit News publish this piece *yesterday* instead of a Friday morning? Michigan’s Gov. Snyder’s “inner circle” exchanged emails advising a switchback from Flint River a year before the switchback took place, and only three weeks before Snyder’s re-election. There was enough content in this to go to press without waiting for a quote from one of the former advisers.

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.

Wednesday Morning: If It Ain’t Baseball, It’s Winter

It may be sunny and 90F degrees where you are, but it’s still winter here. A winter storm warning was issued here based on a forecast 12 inches of snow and 35 mph winds out of the northeast off Lake Huron. For once, Marcy’s on the lee side of this storm and won’t be blessed with the worst of this system.

I’ll cozy up in front of the fireplace and catch up on reading today, provided we don’t have a power outage. Think I’ll nap and dream of baseball season starting in roughly five weeks.

Before the snow drifts cover the driveway, let’s take a look around.

Hey Asus: Don’t do as we do, just do as we say
Taiwanese computer and network equipment manufacturer Asus settled a suit brought by the Federal Trade Commission over Asus leaky routers. The devices’ insecurities were exposed when white hat hacker/s planted a text message routers informing their owners the devices were open to anyone who cared to look. Terms of the settlement included submitting to security auditing for 20 years.

What a ridiculous double standard: demand one manufacturer produce and sell secure products,while another government department demands another manufacturer build an insecurity.

Ads served to Android mobile devices leak like a sieve
Researchers with the School of Computer Science at the Georgia Institute of Technology presented their work yesterday at 2016 Network and Distributed System Security Symposium, showing that a majority of ads not only matched the mobile user but revealed personal details:

• gender with 75 percent accuracy,
• parental status with 66 percent accuracy,
• age group with 54 percent accuracy, and
• could also predict income, political affiliation, marital status, with higher accuracy than random guesses.

Still some interesting work to be presented today before NDSS16 wraps, especially on Android security and social media user identity authentication.

RICO – not-so-suave – Volkswagen
Automotive magazine Wards Auto straps on the kneepads for VW; just check this headline:

Diesel Reigns in Korea as Volkswagen Scandal Ebbs

“Ebbs”? Really? Au contraire, mon frère. This mess is just getting started. Note the latest class-action lawsuit filed in California, this time accusing VW and its subsidiaries Audi and Porsche as well as part supplier Bosch of racketeering. Bosch has denied its role in the emissions controls defeat mechanism:

…The company has denied any involvement in the alleged fraud, saying it sold an engine control unit to Volkswagen, but that Volkswagen was responsible for calibrating the unit.

The scandal’s only just getting going when we don’t know who did what and when.

Worth noting Wards’ breathless excitement about VW passenger diesel sales uptick in South Korea. But then Wards ignores South Korea’s completely different emissions standards as well as the specifics in promotions for that market. Details, details…

Splash and dash

Don’t miss Ed Walker’s latest in his series on totalitarianism and Marcy’s fresh exasperation with polling on FBI vs Apple. Wind’s brisk out of the north, bringing the first wave of flurries. I’m off to check the gasoline in the snowblower and wax my snow shovels.

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.

Tuesday Morning: I Don’t Want It Good

I don’t want it good. I want it Tuesday.
— Jack Warner

Pretty sure Mr. Warner would get it just the way he wanted it today.

Surprise: Saudis and Russia agree mutual economic destruction = bad
Expect a rocky market today after a hush-hush agreement by Saudi Arabia and Russia to hold oil production levels to January levels. The FTSE and Brent crude have already taken a hit, though why Brent’s price dropped when supply firmed/tightened makes no sense to me. Good thing I’m not a commodities broker.

Predictable outcome: Dropbox account hacked, contents posted, then teacher fired
I feel awful for this poor teacher, whose privacy was violated and his job lost after someone hacked his Dropbox account, then posted a personal sex tape on his school’s website. Unfortunately, this is another painful real-life lesson: Do NOT store content in the cloud if the content hurt you if leaked.

Shaken by a quake? There’s an app for that
UC Berkeley Seismological Lab released an Android app called MyShake. The application detects vibration fitting earth tremor profiles and reports them to the lab for diagnostics. Enough data combined with other seismic monitoring can confirm an earthquake. The Seismological Lab hopes to build a global seismic detection network which can help detect earthquakes before they begin. With enough advance notice, humans may be able to reduce damage and injury. The Lab says the app runs silently in your phone’s background and doesn’t use up the battery, but this seems like an impossibility. Only one way to find out, though, and only one way for the lab to improve the app’s performance. An iOS version is expected in the near future.

Volkswagen fined by Mexico over emissions — but not the defeat device
Looks like VW imported more than 45,000 vehicles into Mexico without dotting all the Is and crossing all the Ts. The automaker has been fined nearly $9 million dollars (168 million pesos) for failing to obtain mandatory emission and noise certifications. Sounds like VW needs to overhaul its management culture.

Air-gapped computers may not be safe from hacking
A team of researchers from Tel Aviv University and Technion identified a means for hacking air-gapped computers in a completely separate room in order to snag data. Their method only required an antenna, amplifiers, a software-defined radio, and a laptop to measure electromagnetic waves created by a target computer as it deciphered a specific message.

There it is: it ain’t good, but you’ve got it on a Tuesday.

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.

Monday Morning: Fair of Face

Eh. Not so much. I can’t think of many working folks who greet Monday morning with joy, finding it a beautiful thing. But according to old English folk tales, a Monday birthday was supposed to bring better luck.

What good luck will today bring?

Dripping blood tips off discovery of dead body and millions in currency on plane
Reads like a murder-mystery novel, right? Except that this happened Sunday in Zimbabwe at Harare International Airport. Airport staff noticed blood leaking from the plane during refueling, after which an investigation began, revealing a dead body inside the plane and millions in South African rand on board. The plane was registered to Western Global Airlines of Florida and had been flying from Germany to South Africa. What are the odds we never hear of this plane, the body, or the currency again?

Volkswagen chief knew in 2014 U.S. would investigate; Germany wants spot checks
From scandals like Watergate, the U.S. knows the coverup is often worse than the crime. Looks like Volkswagen will learn this, too. Martin Winterkorn, VW’s former CEO, knew in May 2014 that U.S. officials suspected emissions controls defeat devices in VW’s diesel passenger vehicles. BUT…this is not quite news, as the study revealing VW’s non-compliant emissions were reported in May 2014, in a public forum, where VW asked about the results. What did Winterkorn know, and when did he know it?

Germany’s Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt said yesterday, “There will be controls on vehicles in the style of doping tests (for athletes), …Unannounced and every year.” Dude. Come on. The defeat device evaded random tests in U.S. states like California. Random spot checks will NOT ensure emissions controls work. Only random road tests capturing real world driving outputs will do that. Dobrindt said a draft proposal outlining the test measures would be submitted to the Bundestag on Thursday. Will the lower parliament get wise to this problem?

British teen arrested for the hack on FBI, DHS, CIA director’s email, more
“I am innocent until proven guilty so I have nothing to be worried about…They are trying to ruin my life,” the 16-year-old said after his arrest last week. The most recent hack the teen is accused of included the “leak” of 30,000 FBI and DHS personnel contact information. He’s accused of being a member of Crackas With Attitude (CWA); CWA has said the hacking of CIA director Brennan’s email was “so easy to hack Brennan that ‘a 5-year old’ could have done it.” Doesn’t sound like mad hacking skillz required to pose a threat to law enforcement.

UK’s Investigatory Powers Tribunal said hacking devices by intelligence doesn’t violate human rights
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond believes the IPT’s ruling last week is fair, but of course, he would. The case pressed by Privacy International forced the UK’s intelligence agency GCHQ to reveal the use of mass surveillance using computer network exploits (CNE). The case can’t go any further in the UK, but could be reviewed in the EU. Wonder if these same CNE were deployed to identify the 16-year-old teenager charged with hacking Brennan?

From Department of Creepy Spouses: Man + Wife’s FitBit Data + Reddit = PG
A man asked a Reddit forum about wife’s unusual FitBit data and learned she’s pregnant. I would kick this butthead to the curb so fast if he’d been my spouse. Talk about a violation of privacy, let alone a breach of intimacy between married partners. I can only imagine how this discovery will influence hackers snooping wearable devices.

Not looking like good luck today after all. Perhaps better luck tomorrow?

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.