Thursday, November 16, 2006

Noise Pollution Clearinghouse

I wonder if anything can be done about loud motorcycles? What is it that compels some people with big Harleys and custom bikes to be so loud? The claim that it's for safety is pure hogwash, so what is it, really?

All I know is that having the peace and quiet shattered for a mile around by some selfish bastard riding a deliberately thunderous motorcycle is enough to raise murderous thoughts in me.

There's entirely too much ambient noise in most public places. Deliberately adding to the din, clearly the intent of many bikers, is especially galling.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Recurring interests, (useful?) obsessions

Several times, over the years, I've become interested in computer security. Each time, I eventually wound up getting tired of the subject and consciously decided to drop it. Security being just an illusion anyway, why not move on to something more entertaining?

For example, seven or eight years ago it occurred to me that computer security at work was lacking because senior management and employees generally didn't place much importance on it. Everyone thought things were fine because we had a perimeter firewall and Norton anti-virus. I did what I thought I should do to raise awareness, but wound up pissing off the poor security manager (at that time it was just a grunt position with no authority) so I backed off.

A few years later I had a run-in with a scamming fraudster. During this episode I again became interested in computer and network security. I learned a little about packet sniffing, port scanning, protocols and so on (emphasis on a little). Eventually, after failing to resolve multiple signs of unwelcome guests in my computer, I simply nuked it and all backups, adopted a new paradigm and left my sniffers and scanners behind. I still tried to practice safe computing, but paranoia gets tiresome.

My most recent interest in cyber security was sparked by a little toy I bought a few months ago, DU Meter. One night I decided to start DU Meter's stopwatch before going to bed. The next day I was surprised to see that there had been a lot of outbound traffic overnight. (I might have mis-read DU Meter. I've not seen such a thing again.) I could understand occasional inbound peaks from automatic updates to this or that, but an unattended outbound peak seemed, well, interesting.

Now I've got a few new toys and interests. I replaced my router with an old 600 MHz PIII computer running the Smoothwall firewall. I've learned how to run the tcpdump sniffer on the firewall machine, how to transfer the capture file to a PC, and how to analyze it with Wireshark. I've learned how to compare what's captured on the firewall machine with what's captured on the PC using Port Explorer, and now I'm assisted by the macro functions of my new text editor, EditPad Pro. Along the way I became interested in "regular expressions" and now I've started doing the tutorials to learn a little Python programming.

I've also upgraded my internal network to gigabit, and converted another old computer into a network file server using NASLite+. It's just the main PC and the NASLite box that are running gigabit so far, but the cabling and switches have been changed out.

When I set up the Smoothwall box, I included the unprotected DMZ option. I keep thinking about getting another old PC to set up a honeypot in the DMZ, but I don't think I'll go there (at least not yet). Any script kiddie can run circles around me, and while a honeypot might be interesting, so are matches and gasoline.

I won't go into the books I've started reading but not finished, or the various things I should be doing but am neglecting. Hey, I'm getting old, OK? I'll do whatever the hell I want, responsibility be damned. (I can't believe my KMA day (Kiss My Ass day - early retirement eligibility) is less than four weeks away!)

OK, now for an hour or so of Python tutorials, and maybe some paying attention to the world. Bye!