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Ron Obvious

Profile Information

Name: Ron
Gender: Male
Home country: Middle Earth
Current location: Seattle
Member since: Tue Dec 13, 2011, 11:37 PM
Number of posts: 6,002

About Me

I got the nickname Ron Obvious because -- in addition to being a huge Python fan -- my name really is Ron and I used to start sentences with \"Obviously\" a lot. Obviously, that\'s no longer a problem.

Journal Archives

I had this in mind...


How Hackable Is Your Car?

Fortunately my 2007 Jetta is not on the list. Didn't expect it to be either, of course, but this is one of the reasons I have serious misgivings about these features in a car. Not a fan of "the internet of things" in any case. It seems to me the risks far outweigh the benefits.

Last year, when hackers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek showed they could hijack the steering and brakes of a Ford Escape and a Toyota Prius with nothing but laptops connected to the cars, they raised two questions: Could hackers perform the same tricks wirelessly, or even over the Internet? And even more pressing: Is your specific car vulnerable, too?

If you own a Cadillac Escalade, a Jeep Cherokee or an Infiniti Q50, you may not like the answer.

In a talk today at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas—and an accompanying 92-page paper—Valasek and Miller will present the results of a broad analysis of dozens of different car makes and models, assessing the vehicles’ schematics for the signs that hint at vulnerabilities to auto-focused hackers. The result is a kind of handbook of ratings and reviews of automobiles for the potential hackability of their networked components. “For 24 different cars, we examined how a remote attack might work,” says Valasek, director of vehicle security research at the security consultancy IOActive. “It really depends on the architecture: If you hack the radio, can you send messages to the brakes or the steering? And if you can, what can you do with them?”


Unbelievable: Brazilian courts allow "testimony" from the dead

I was just listening with rising level of disbelief and irritation to this NPR story:


In the letter, channeled by this medium, the deceased confesses. He says his jealousy was the reason for his death. The letter includes details that only people close to him could have known.
- Defense lawyer Rondon de Lima

This letter is then submitted by the defense to the court to exonerate the accused.

Judge Hertha Helena Rollemberg Padilha de Oliveira (no relation to Lenira) says there are many cases involving spirits in Brazil.

"If the proof is not illegal, it is lawful — you have to accept it in the process," she says.

Rather than presenting this nonsense as anything but a risable aspect of the Brazilian court system and an indictment of Brazilian culture, NPR chose to present this story with unwarranted respect and not a single sceptical voice is heard throughout. An embarrassment for everyone involved.

Our local NPR station (KUOW Seattle) is barely worth listening to anymore anyway, but if NPR itself continues its race to the bottom, we'll stop contributing altogether.

Skippy... Skippy... Skippy the Bush Kangaroo...

The other day I got up real early because of the heat. I listened to internet radio for a while over breakfast and the show covered a TV programme I watched as a kid: Skippy the Bush Kangaroo. Was that show ever on TV in America? Well, it was Australia's answer to Lassie and Flipper, featuring an animal star who appeared intelligent because the humans on the show were really thick in contrast.

The show's musical theme got stuck in my head all morning.

Skippy the Bush Kangaroo.

I went for a bike ride on the Sammamish River trail, still half asleep and singing to myself:

Skippy the Bush Kangaroo.

Suddenly I saw a kangaroo hopping towards me on the trail! An uncommon sight in the Seattle area to be sure.

"I'm seeing things. I've gone mad", I thought. "it's been coming for a while, but you've finally flipped completely, Ron. You've really done it now." The blood likely drained from my face.

As it turned out, it was a common white-tailed deer, spooked by another cyclist riding behind her. Deer don't run like horses. Instead, they hop with their legs together, so I can forgive myself for mistaken it for a kangaroo from the front in my half-awake state.

Phew! Wits still intact for a bit longer at least.

What's the oldest joke you remember?

My dad told me this one when I was about 3 or 4. As with most jokes designed to appeal to children that age, it's coarse and involves bodily functions, so look away now if you need to.

A gentleman on the train badly needs to defecate. Unfortunately, the toilet is occupied but his need is urgent, so he decides to roll down the window and do his business that way. He doesn't notice, but the train rolls into the station and after a few minutes the conductor on the platform blows his whistle to warn travellers that the train is about to leave the station again.

All aboard! Please close the windows and keep your heads inside. That goes for you too, sir, with the pale face and the great big cigar!

Well, I didn't say it was a good joke, did I?

Dot Matrix printer plays Eye of the Tiger

I heard about this on the Skeptic's Guide to the Universe podcast this weekend. Remember dot-matrix printers? Remember the noise they made? Some clever person created a program that turned those sounds to music. Here it is playing Eye of the Tiger.

I'm impressed!

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