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Ron Obvious

Profile Information

Gender: Male
Current location: Seattle
Member since: Tue Dec 13, 2011, 10:37 PM
Number of posts: 2,865

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...

Bingo!!!

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?”


http://www.wired.com/2014/08/car-hacking-chart/

Unbelievable: Brazilian courts allow "testimony" from the dead

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

http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2014/08/09/338935865/letter-from-beyond-the-grave-a-tale-of-love-murder-and-brazilian-law

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

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

Skippy...
Skippy...
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.


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!

Now what I did I come in here to do again?

I came here for a reason, but I can't remember now what it was.

LOTR extended scene: the passing of the elves

This scene is on the extended DVD release of The Fellowship of the Ring but not in the theatrical cut.

I think that's such a shame. It's only a minute and a half long, and - in my opinion - it captures the spirit of Tolkien's world better than anything I can recall from the cinematic release.

I don't know why, but it makes me sad...

The Flower Duet

This is the Flower Duet from Lakme by the composer Delibes. You might recognise it as the soundtrack to a recent British Airways commercial.



This moment of grace and beauty was brought to you by your local cynical, flint-hearted jerkoff who can be brought to tears and ecstasy by this sort of thing.

Mormons at the door...

This morning I was rudely awakened from a lovely erotic dream involving a young Cybill Shepherd by a persistent knocking on the front door.

Mormons.

I responded in my customary considerate and kindly fashion:

"No! Fuck Off!" *SLAM!!!*

I would have reacted more forcefully but I believe it's still a misdemeanor in some jurisdictions to shoot Mormon missionaries and Jehovah witnesses on your doorstep.

Before you respond with a story about how you answer the door in the nude, or invited them in to join you in a Satanic mass, I should warn you that I disbelieve 99% of such stories.

I was actually a little bit surprised. It's been years since one of them knocked on our door, and while I'd spotted dozens of them in the neighbourhood recently, I thought they must've marked our door with some sort of invisible sigil in order to avoid wasting time at our unkempt and weed-infested hovel.

Apparently it wore off.

But it did set me wondering. Why do they all look alike so much? They're all young white males (naturally), but they're all slightly pudgy, between 5'8" and 6'1" in height with a pasty complexion and an innocent facial expression.

Where are the tall Mormons? The obese ones and the rail-thin ones? Where are the bronzed ones, the naughty-looking ones, the wheelchair-bound ones, the midgets, the women and the minorities? Does the church keep them in reserve, or are you not allowed to participate in a mission if you don't conform to the stereotype?

I wonder about these things.
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