Practical Internet Privacy with Tor

I was happy to give Loveland CreatorSpace’s first class on how to use Tor! By the end everybody knew how to install, run, and verify that Tor is working and they could all connect to a hidden service!

I recorded the class, so if the video and audio quality is acceptable, I’ll put the video online, but for now, you’ll have to live with just the slides. There was a reporter there, so I maybe in the local news…

Waiting for Shutdown with govtrack.us

I’ve recently discovered govtrack.us, which I used to track S.J. Res 21, Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against the Government of Syria to Use of Chemical Weapons.  But I just learned today that you can sign up and receive daily emails on the activities of any U.S. Representative!  As it looks like we are headed for a government shutdown, I doubt I’ll receive that much email. 😉

I’m also tracking H.R. 2818: Surveillance State Repeal Act.  The website is well designed and it’s a great way to stay up-to-date with your elected officials.

I do not consent

When I started at the Naval Academy in 1998, I never expected I’d be in a war.  Even after the attacks twelve years ago, I still never thought I would be a “boot on the ground.”  When I joined the submarine service and spent a long year studying the operations of nuclear reactors, I still never saw myself carrying a M4 in Afghanistan.  But in 2011, that is exactly where I found myself.

Continue reading “I do not consent”

Opportunity for public comment on NSA surveillance

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) is seeking public comment on:

how in light of advancements in communications technologies, the United States can employ its technical collection capabilities in a manner that optimally protects our national security and advances our foreign policy while respecting our commitment to privacy and civil liberties, recognizing our need to maintain the public trust, and reducing the risk of unauthorized disclosure.

Thanks to the EFF for finding this opportunity.

This was my response:

Continue reading “Opportunity for public comment on NSA surveillance”

The 2013 Circumnavigators Club Foundation Scholars

One of my best memories from the Navy was travelling around the globe in a submarine.  On that one deployment I picked up several “unofficial” certificates, but it also qualified me to join the Circumnavigators Club.  It’s not a travel club; it’s a club of travelers and since travelers don’t sit put much, there’s not a whole lot of meetings.

We can only travel so much, so we also send people to travel for us.  We have a foundation that provides merit-based grants to undergraduates on an around the world research trip.  Ok, so the travel is really for their benefit but I like to think we send out scouts to go report back on the mysteries of the world.

One of the requirements is that the recipient keep a blog of their travels.  This year, there are four scholars all with amazing stories.  I particularly liked Julia’s who took especially nice pictures in Austria and Switzerland.

You can also look at last year’s scholars here.  You can also watch a testimonial from Meixi Ng, a 2010 scholar below. Continue reading “The 2013 Circumnavigators Club Foundation Scholars”

A Veteran’s Disappointment with the NSA Spying

A practitioner of Zen Buddhism was talking to me about delusions.  I asked him to clarify what he meant and he explained that delusional thinking was a way of convincing yourself of a false reality.  It’s like when you believe the Double Down is good for you because it doesn’t have any bread (this is my example, not his…).  Don Quixote is the epitome of a delusional thinker who believed windmills were giants and subsequently attacked them.  Thinking that the NSA isn’t unconstitutionally spying on Americans is also delusional.

The original NSA spying leak was shocking but since then there continues to more damning announcements.  The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency is actively using the NSA database, but then lying about how it obtained evidence through the euphemism “parallel construction.”  The owner of the Edward Snowden’s email service decided to shut down his company rather than become “complicit in crimes against the American people,” warning:

without congressional action or a strong judicial precedent, I would strongly recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States.

And despite promises by officials to the contrary, the Guardian reported another leak that due to a Kafkaesque loophole, warrant-less spying on Americans is indeed allowed.

I am a proud veteran of the U.S. Navy.  I willingly took an oath to support and defend the U.S. Constitution.  While I’m no longer in the military, as a person who went to Afghanistan to fight for his country, I feel a civic responsibility to act when I see the Constitution being violated.  What the NSA and other agencies are doing is wrong and needs to stop.

Despite the attempts by his squire Sancho to convince him what was real, Don Quixote rushed into battle against false enemies and brought harm to those around him.  The War on Terror has become our windmill.  We’ve spent countless taxpayer’s dollars and disgraced ourselves chasing false giants.  Before his death, Don Quixote realized his delusional behavior and regretted his actions.  It’s time we have a similar revelation, “Now I see through [the] absurdities and deceptions, and it only grieves me that this destruction of my illusions has come so late that it leaves me no time to make some amends

I am not a “14-year-old in the basement clicking around the Internet,” but I do proudly wear my Happy Hacking t-shirt.  I’m a veteran who has had enough of the lying and it’s time to speak up.  If this matters to you too, please consider joining the Electronic Frontier Foundation and help them fight for our digital rights.

Hiking Devils Backbone

It was a nice morning on the trail at Devil’s Backbone.  Despite the ominous name, it was a nice, short hike.  The trail came highly recommend from a friend and it was covered in our new favorite guidebook, Hikes Around Fort Collins, by Melodie S. Edwards.  The name refers to the rock formations that span the valley.  Quoting Edwards:

The “hogbacks,” as they are known, which stretch from north of Fort Collins all the way down the Front Range and including Devils Backbone, are remnants of an ancient seafloor that has been exposed by wind and water over hundreds of thousands of years.

devil's backbone trail
The Wild Loop on the Devils Backbone trail which parallels the Front Range.

At the trail head a free trail map and interpretive guide are provided (aslo available here).  It’s an easy hike that is family friendly and it allowed me an opportunity to test out the 3D shots with the Nexus 4 (here).

db_keyhole_josh
Me sporting a Drexel cap in “Keyhole” on the Devils Backbone. The backwards cap actually does a good job of keeping the sun off of my neck…

Thanks for reading my 100th post!

A better Emacs configuration

I finally gave in and forked Bozhidar Batsov’s Emacs bundle, Prelude.  Initially I resisted using an out-of-the-box setup and tried to roll my own, but as I added more customizations I realized that I was slowly incorporating all of Prelude.  Then I recognized that Prelude’s organization is much cleaner than my approach.  It’s also very easy to fork the repo and add in personal touches as I’ve done here.

I’m working through some growing pains in the switch to Prelude from my spaghetti framework, but Bozhidar provided one line install scripts and I also like how all external packages are auto-downloaded from the package manager.  If you are new to Emacs or you want to use a customization that 409 other forkers are using, try Prelude (must have Emacs 24 btw).

My first live-blogging event: truck explosion

Sitting in my NY apartment, I suddenly hear a loud BOOM on the Queensboro bridge.  I ran to the window and I couldn’t see what happened but I did see all Queens traffic stopped, some people running and cars trying to back-out off the bridge.

The air quickly smelt of smoke and while something still didn’t feel right, there was no screaming or any other loud noises, so I started tweeting 🙂

Continue reading “My first live-blogging event: truck explosion”

Netflix now available on Samsung ARM Chromebooks

Yet another reason to like the $249 Samsung ARM Chromebook: Netflix streaming is now available via HTML5.  In ChromeOS, just visit Netflix like normal and say “yes” to allowing Netflix to store data on your Chromebook.  As stated in this Netflix support article, this is only required the first time you visit Netflix.

When I first used my Chromebook, I was a bit disappointed to learn that Netflix was not supported.  But since then, my satisfaction with this device has only gone up.  I’m dual-booting ChrUbuntu and getting a lot of mileage with Emacs 24 and using Emacs TRAMP mode over SSH, which makes my Chromebook a ultra-lightweight travel companion.  With a quick boot back into ChromeOS, I can now procrastinate even more, with Netflix.  If the dual-booting is too much for you, there is always Crouton.