» Belkin WeMo This kind of looks like the future of home automation.
Belkin WeMo

Nice feature overview here.

X10 is cool but complicated; whereas this looks cool and simple.   |
» Bookcrossing A friend pointed me at Bookcrossing.

Seems like a great way to redistribute your old books and having some fun doing it.

The basic idea - label your old books with a unique identifier, then drop them off wherever you like. Log the 'drop' on the Bookcrossing website for someone to pick up. If they log the collection you can track who and where the book goes. Obviously there are the usual anonymity options and if a non-Bookcrossing person picks up the book they may choose not to join-up (its free, they make money selling accessories like custom labels and bookplates).

Pretty cool.   |
» Mailorder Beer A plug and a bit of a bookmark for myself - Beerstore in NZ does a great job of distributing beer of all kinds delivered to your door.

I've used them a few times now and they're quick and efficient - I even had one delivery with broken bottles which the couriers obviously screwed up and within a couple of days Beerstore had another order on my doorstep no questions asked. Now thats service !   |
» What is a karonkka? A friend of mine recently returned from Finland where he was examining a PhD defence - the process is called a Karonkka.

As well as getting decked out in a full-on tux & tails they actually had ceremonial swords to boot. How cool is that ?

Be sure to read Shauns other posts on the nature of research, patents, science and technology in New Zealand.   |
» TED Talks A friend of mine (cheers Eddie!) pointed me at the excellent TED Talk series.

Subscribe to their RSS feed now.

Theres always something you can set aside 15 minutes of your time to learn about or dump to your mp3 player to listen/watch while you commute.

Recent favourites of mine have included - 'Build a brain in a supercomputer', 'Our buggy moral code', 'What brain damage can point out about our mind', 'Why are babies cute? Why is cake sweet?'   |
» Useful Ways to be Persuasive I realised my Linkdump category hadn't been updated in a looong time so I'll kick start it with this link to some common-sense ways to be persuasive.

As per the link comments in the preamble, its a bit pop-psych but theres some useful stuff to help get your head around how you can get your point of view across to other people.   |
» Because you need to know - Tracking the $700 Billion Bailout It'll be interesting to see if the New York Times keeps this table up to date - Tracking the $700 Billion Bailout.

See which financial institutions receive money and how much they get.   |
» Good Music - Le Pop by Katzenjammer Discovered while reading Popmatters list of Also-rans for 2008 - Katzenjammers 'Le Pop' is one of those joyful albums by a band determined to put a stupid grin on your face at all costs or die trying (cf early Violent Femmes, Crowded House, Pogues).

Check out a couple of videos on YouTube - 'A bar in Amsterdam' and 'Aint no thang'   |
» Good Books - The Shock Doctrine Another excellent read from Naomi Klein - The Shock Doctrine. I have to admit I'm only halfway through this book - mans inhumanity to man makes for tough going - however its pretty much compulsory reading for anyone that wonders how the worlds free market economy's were lead down the track they're currently on.

Essentially what Klein does is posit the idea that free market economies and reforms can only be forced through on the back of an external crisis (sometimes real and sometimes engineered). As a result those people best placed to take advantage of the reforms do extraordinarily well and the vast majority of us end up worse off - with globalisation these disparities keep getting worse as multi-nationals cease to be bound by georgraphy.

As the recent recession and American bank / finance / auto bail-outs have shown - the free market has failed to a certain extent - their own calls for deregulation have bit them on the ass and now they're going cap in hand to the very regulatory bodies they once reviled for assistance.

So even when things go wrong for the wheelers and dealers of the world - they still come out on top.   |
» Good Books - Killing Rommel by Stephen Pressfield Another quick summer read - Killing Rommel is a return to form for Stephen Pressfield - his 'Gates of Fire' was a masterpiece but after that I found 'Tides of War' and 'Last of the Amazons' to be a little dry.

His latest novel tells the tale of the Long Range Desert Group (LRDG) and their various exploits in the North African campaign, culminating in a mission to track down and kill Rommel.   |

Interesting Links

Saturday 26 July 2014 at 9:21 pm A long time between posts again.

People write about some interesting stuff -

How the Presidents Blackberry is secured, and from the same site, How Air Force Ones phones work.

Big Brother is Watching

Saturday 25 October 2008 at 6:59 pm So apart from running out of fresh water, Australia appears to be about to implement its own Great Firewall just like China.

So i suspect things like TOR, private VPN and external public Proxies are going to become really popular.

On a related note the UK seems to be going surveillance mad - so 'Go Banksy!'

Holy F@#k!

Friday 16 May 2008 at 7:20 pm A must read if you're a interested in IT security - Exploiting Network Cards.

Be afraid if you run a firewall on x86 hardware!

Security & Hardening Guidelines

Monday 30 October 2006 at 4:08 pm Some well thought out security guides from the Universty of Texas:

Also if you're looking for guidelines or templates to formulate your own IT Policy they have some excellent documents:

McAfee SiteAdvisor

Thursday 19 October 2006 at 12:24 pm Nifty browser tool (IE & Firefox) - McAfee SiteAdvisor - installs and tells you wether a site is 'good' or 'bad' based on the amount of mail you'll get if you sign up for its services along with the sites affiliates, downloaded cookies and reviews. It also parses search engine results and provides a summary for each hit relating to wether its a good or badly behaved site.

Pretty cool. Possibly a must-have for all home and corporate browsers.

You do wonder if it reports back on your browsing habits to McAfee ? Also how long will it remain free ?

TinyApps Points to some Security Tools

Tuesday 19 September 2006 at 09:53 am The people over at TinyApps always point to good stuff.

Two recent security related posts from them -

* SecureRDP is a free tool to add an extra layer of security to RDP. You can accept/deny incoming RDP connections by IP, Mac address or Host name. Handy for locking down server administration only to admin PC's.

* TinyApps points to SSLExplorer which is an open-source SSL VPN solution. A two part setup guide is available form Toms Hardware - part 1 and part 2. Looks like a really really handy way of offering secure access to a small internal LAN without having to roll out a full IPSec based VPN solution.

Endpoint Security

Monday 28 August 2006 at 09:58 am Endpoint Security checking is going to be huge as more and more people start connecting into their corporate LAN's remotely (actually even in a wired LAN its pretty important given the proliferation of trojans, spyware and malicious hackers).

Essentially EP lets the network administrator define certain conditions that must be met before being able to participate on the corporate LAN. In some case the tools will even allow direct you towards a quarantined location which will explain why the connection was refused and assist you to rectify the problem. For example an EP tool can direct an authorised client that fails post-connection criteria to a web page with links to security patches, antivirus software and firewall tools - it can even offer up different LAN access profiles (eg webmail or terminal services but not a direct connection).

* Wikipedia on Endpoint Security

* Wikipedia on Checkpoint Integrity a centralised EP system

* Nice flowchart tool to design EP access control for Firepass

* Flash Demo of CheckPoints Interspect appliance - actually more of an IDS/IDP (Intrudion detection sensor / Intrusion detection and prevention) system which works hand in hand with end-point solutions

* McAfee have their Host Intrusion Protection (PDF) system which integrates into their ePO framework

* Juniper have a cool Flash Demo of their IDP product (unfortunately you need to register to see it)

* ISS (who've been bought out by IBM) have Proventia - it looks like they also bought Black Ice Defender (fyi - Checkpoint bought Zone Alarm)

Security seems to be a serious growth industry given the trail of acquisitions and mergers in the small group of companies listed above.

Endpoint solutions seem to rely heavily on application and system profiling - if the app hasn't been approved or doesn't comply with a known checksum it won't run. This means someone needs to keep a constant eye on what applications and patches are likely to be installed and approve them before the endpoint solution takes remedial action. Ideal for a restricted environment but trickier for a more open environment.

Simple options that can be implemented immediately (without spending on new tools) include:

* ensuring appropriate desktop access

* centrally managed anti-virus / patching / desktop policy restrictions

* mac address restrictions on dhcp / switch ports (depends on the mobility of the client)

VMWare Based Security Tools

Friday 21 July 2006 at 10:42 am Came across Stratagaurd and OSSIM - Open Source Security Information Management which both offer VMWare images for their tools.

I'll have to try them out and see what they offer.

Computer Forensics (Updated 04/05/05)

Wednesday 14 April 2004 at 8:11 pm The Sleuthkit lets you carry out an 'exam' on a comprimised or suspect system.

Dana Epp has written about performing a forensic exam on a comprimised Linux system.
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