The Geekly Guy

This blog contains information regarding all things Linux, although any computer technology subject matter fits within the realm of this blog.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Verizon - 2016 EWA

I usually don't discuss particulars about a current employer, but since I recently quit working for Verizon, I guess I'm free to share some things.

Some background:

I started working for Verizon back in 2005.  Technically, I was hired by NetSec, a small managed security services provider (MSSP), but around that time, they got bought by MCI, who soon got bought by Verizon.  I was hired as a security operation center (SOC) analyst and I was hired as a lead analyst (one of three).

I worked within the SOC environment from 2005 to 2010, and developed a focus for public sector (ie, federal) clients.

In 2011, I changed roles and became what's called a security services advisor (SSA).  I focused on ensuring my assigned clients were getting the services that they were paying for, ensuring the various projects stayed within scope, and ensuring that the SOC performed their work per standard operating procedure.  I was the bridge between the clients and their MSSP.

I quit in April of 2016.  That's not quite 11 years.  That's a bit longer than my stint in the U.S. Army, and I considered myself a career soldier back then.

Every 4 years, Verizon has a bit of upheaval with union workers and contract re-negotiations.  I was never affected until this year.  I'd always held a role that was considered mission-critical (ie, do not move).  Verizon typically shuffles people to fill the roles of those that are striking.  They send them to structured training with the idea that the training will suffice until the striking workers return to their jobs.

Last year, they sent me to training (last June, specifically) because of the approaching ending contract (1 August).  I went to a pole training class, a requirement to ensure safety, which typically lasts two days, then they sent me to a class on how to maintain copper lines (three days).  People who are hired to maintain the copper infrastructure are in class for a month.  Yes, three days in significantly inadequate.

So, I knew this was coming.  I knew it was coming six months out.  There are NO options to defer such assignments.  Refusing is basically asking for termination.  I could've resigned.  I actually contemplated it but my wife talked me into staying to see if the strike actually happened.  The unions did strike, but they waited eight months to do it.  In that eight months, I was supposed to always be ready to deploy (ie, vacation was frowned upon).

After 5-6 months, I decided to move on with my life because I got tired of having my life on hold.  The wife and I planned a cruise for May 2016.  The strike started in April 2016.  When I found that we'd be deployed, I asked numerous times how vacation that were previously planned would be handled.  I was told to submit the dates of the vacation and the reason why it couldn't be cancelled.  My reasoning was that the costs were not reimbursable.

I still had the option of not going (I know of at least one person that quit the day the strike occurred), but I stuck it out, thinking it wouldn't last long and that I'd at least give it a shot.

My deployment site was Roanoke, VA.  That wasn't bad, as I was three hours from home and I could drive home when I got a bit of time off.  I was also able to drive my personal vehicle.

I quit Verizon on the ninth day.  I'll explain why.

I quit because this was NOT my fight to fight.  I was neutral in all this.

I quit because I got tired of my feet hurting after working on them for 14-15 hours.

I got tired of trying to find the time to do my laundry or shopping.

I got tired of missing my family.

I got tired of trying to understand work that I was under-trained to do.

I got tired of trying to learn complicated skills that I'd never negotiated when I went through Verizon's hiring process back in 2005.

I got tired of working 80+ hour work weeks.

I got tired of not having a day off.

I got tired of waiting to see if Verizon would let me attend the cruise and not eat $4,000+ in costs.

I got tired of feeling inadequate for the job.  I got tired of seeing jobs that were half-assed done by engineers that were striking (I knew enough about the job to know when some things were wrong, such as terminal pair assignments and even CO assignments).

I got tired of hearing the union woes of, "they assign us to states and problem areas that are far from our families"...I was away from my family while they struck, doing their job.

I went through a very involved process of screening and hiring to perform skills that have nothing to do with copper infrastructure maintenance and everything to do with IT security, analytical thinking, security device troubleshooting, and firewall policy maintenance (as well as many other things specific to the role of security analysis and being a technical account manager.  If I wanted to climb poles and work with POTS (plain old telephone service), I'd have interviewed for such positions.  This goes well beyond telling someone they've a new additional duty.  I'm all for learning new things, but damn...letting a company dictate to me what my profession is?  Hell no.  Remember that I'm a combat veteran too.  In my tenure with the U.S. Army, I fully expected to be deployed at a moment's notice.  That comes with that sort of job.  That's fully explained and when people deploy, they're trained up and have confidence that they can do the job (its your life and your team's lives on the line if you can't).  Even so, our military doesn't typically re-purpose people already holding positions.  Why?  Because each (enlisted) service member has a contract that states the jobs they'd be qualified to perform.

The day I quit, I basically told Verizon, "YOU'VE NO POWER HERE".

I was so tired and pissed when I quit that I gave no notice.  I worked that day, but after simmering slowly through the day, when I finished, I went to the Roanoke area manager's office to quit.  I waited for almost an hour to quit and called him too...he wasn't there and he wasn't answering his phone.  I ended up quitting via text, believe it or not.  Then I called my normal manager to inform him that I quit.  He wasn't answering either (it was Friday night).  I sent him an "I QUIT" e-mail.  I was up until midnight because both of them finally got my text and e-mail and wanted to talk.  The Roanoke area manager is a nice guy and very easy to work with (and knows what he's doing since he used to be a POTS tech).  I felt like I was mistreating him, but I could no longer deal with the situation.  My normal manager wanted to know why and I told him that I was tired, could barely walk, and that I furiously resented the company for re-purposing me with no options.  I didn't bite my tongue with either of them.

I drove home the next day.  The next work day, I called my normal manager (or ex-manager) to arrange for me to return company property (laptop, mobile phone, corporate badge).  He told me that when he informed his management chain that I quit, they were already aware (this is the only case I've ever seen where shit rolled UPHILL).  He also said that his manager stated the upper managers minimized the issue.  My ex-boss said he told his manager that there was nothing trivial about the reasons why I quit.

I actually expected Verizon to minimize the situation.  I was not surprised at all.  That's the culture there.

My wife asked how Verizon could just hi-jack the lives of ten thousand employees to cover for picketers.  I told her that Verizon is one of those companies that have huge levels of clout.  Verizon has eaten a crap-ton of companies (pre-dating the Verizon name).  They don't get that big without knowing what they can (and can't) get away with.  The problem is, those ten thousand employees LET Verizon do this.  I've no doubt that there were others like me who quit and some of them probably quit the year prior to April 2016.  That's what I should've done.  I should've followed my instincts, but didn't.

This is one of the reasons why I left Northrop Grumman in 2005.  I felt I was just a number to them.  I left them and went to NetSec, only for NetSec to be bought.  Well, in all honesty, I could've left any time between 2005 and 2016 but didn't.

During these ten years, I've learned a lot.  I won't give Verizon 100% credit for that.  It's just work.  If it wasn't Verizon, it would be some other company.  I will give myself the credit because I'm the one that decided to stay there.

Verizon bullied people to participate in emergency work assignments.  I know of no one who was happy about their assignments...not a one.  Verizon did NOT handle this as well as some are saying.  I saw one person say in a press release that if someone didn't like heights, they could've requested a different assignment (maybe within a call center).  I'll call bullshit on that.  I don't like heights at all and had problems in pole climbing class.  No one told me I could get reassigned and there was NO information shared with employees that Verizon would do that.

Now, here's how I rationalized things.  Earlier, I'd stated that I wanted to give the assignment a try...I didn't want to quit.  I worked nine days of at LEAST 12 hour days, without a break in those days.  Many days I worked 15 hours.  My pay rate stayed the same ($55/hr), but I didn't normally work 12+ hour days.  Anything over 8 hours was considered overtime, as was anything out of my normal work period. Yes, my last two paychecks were extremely fat.  I'm not joking and I'm not bragging.  I figured every day that stayed was additional time and money I'd earn (and need) to return to the work force as quickly (or as leisurely) as possible.  I was using the salary potential to bolster my finances, even if I wanted to quit every day I was deployed.  I told my wife to not touch any of those two paychecks and to put them directly into our savings.  They would be used for essentials such as the house note.

Employees always have choices, believe it or not.  Employees always have the choice to stay or leave.  Never be afraid to quit if it violates a principle.  I chose to stay but I knew if the strike didn't end soon, I'd quit.  I used the overtime as a focus, knowing I'd need the money later...it was a very quick way to earn a massive amount.  The thing was, I was burned out.  I don't think I could've stayed if I wanted to, but it worked out for me in the end.  Verizon made the conditions perfect for me to leave...you can blame them for that!  Verizon thought that they could lord it over me.  They did, but not for long.  I cashed out and left.

So, who burned the bridge?  I accepted the assignment (I was offered no choice).  I went through the training (I was offered no choice).  I went to Roanoke.  I worked 12-15 hour days.  I had no days off.  Some days I was covered in ticks.  Some days it was hard for me to walk.  In all that, I was offered no choice.  Verizon burned the bridge.  I just squirted a bit of fuel on it in not giving two weeks' notice, but I wasn't about to give them two additional weeks of POTS support.

My normal work requires a very specific set of skills that usually requires 8 months to fill for Verizon, and it may take longer if Verizon has problems finding someone that's qualified for that position.  I know for a fact that it's not exactly easy for companies to find people to fill vacant roles as they relate to IT security...I've participated in the hiring process in the past.  Why would you re-purpose people in those roles?  That's the dumbest move I've EVER seen.

Would I go back to Verizon?  No, not as long as they continue the practice of re-purposing people.  Once-learned-twice-burned and all that.  Maybe not even if they stopped the practice.  I don't like companies that have so much clout that they try to coerce you in doing things you do not want to do (work a job you're inadequately trained for, for example, without giving you any options beyond quitting).

Oh, and one last note.  I've had no problem explaining my Verizon exit situation with potential employers.  It doesn't take long to explain it to them and every single one of them were extremely sympathetic about the situation.  This is a bit different than a typical job loss situation.

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Monday, June 02, 2014

Watch_Dogs - Intermittent Crashing (with update)

So, I've been trying to play Watch_Dogs this weekend, but it's been crashing.  It crashed a total of six times today in the middle of gaming.  It crashed at least that many times yesterday, too.  It's been crashing since it's release (I installed it the day of release).  I've the most up-to-date Nvidia graphics card drivers (337.88 is the latest as of today).

No, it is not my graphics card or any other hardware issue.  This game isn't doing anything process-wise that the other games I play aren't doing (I play Arma 2 & 3 with many mods, BF3, BF4, and a few flight sims).  None of my other games crash like this game.  The game is new and probably needs to be optimized or might just have bugs that need to be fixed.

I'm running Medium graphics settings, but here's what my Nvidia GeForce Experience panel lists under Watch_Dog settings:



I'm waiting to see if they'll have any patch updates soon, because it's kinda unstable.

The system is an Alienware M17X R3.  It isn't a new system but it is modern and has hardware beefy enough to play Watch_Dogs without issue.

EDIT:  Crashed maybe 6 more times today (6/2).  I tried to rename 'bink2w64.dll' and have Uplay reverify the files...the idea was that the verification process would spawn a new 'bink2w64.dll' file, but that didn't work.  I ended up renaming it back to 'bink2w64.dll' and reverifying the files...upon checking to see if it was done, I saw that Uplay was installing a patch!  I've no idea what the patch is supposed to fix and I've seen no prior notifications that a patch was imminent (only that they were working on a critical patch...again, I've no idea of what particular issues the patch was meant to fix, but there are numerous issues with this game).  I'll report what the patch is supposed to fix when I see something from Ubisoft, and I'll report if the patch actually fixes what it's supposed to.

EDIT 2:  (6/2) Well, I got through an hour of gameplay before the first lockup since installing the patch.  I'm not sure if that's anything to brag about.  It happens less, I guess, but it shouldn't be happening at all.  The error logs generated since the patch was installed is here.  The one log entry of the crash after the patch is here.

System stats (pardon the formatting):

Processor Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-2760QM CPU @ 2.40GHz
Memory (RAM) 8.00 GB
Graphics Intel(R) HD Graphics Family
Gaming graphics 1696 MB Total available graphics memory
Primary hard disk 377GB Free (699GB Total)

System  
Manufacturer Alienware
Model M17xR3
Total amount of system memory 8.00 GB RAM
System type 64-bit operating system
Number of processor cores 4
Storage  
Total size of hard disk(s) 1397 GB
Disk partition (C:) 377 GB Free (699 GB Total)
Disk partition (D:) 493 GB Free (699 GB Total)
Media drive (E:) CD/DVD
Graphics  
Display adapter type Intel(R) HD Graphics Family
Total available graphics memory 1696 MB
      Dedicated graphics memory 64 MB
      Dedicated system memory 0 MB
      Shared system memory 1632 MB
Display adapter driver version 9.18.13.3788
Primary monitor resolution 1920x1080
DirectX version DirectX 10

Network  
Network Adapter Atheros AR8151 PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet Controller (NDIS 6.20)
Network Adapter Killer Wireless-N 1103 Network Adapter

My video card is an Nvidia GTX 580M.

Here are my initial crash logs (pardon the formatting):

Log Name:      Application
Source:        Application Error
Date:          6/1/2014 10:05:20 PM
Event ID:      1000
Task Category: (100)
Level:         Error
Keywords:      Classic
User:          N/A
Computer:      Alienware
Description:
Faulting application name: Watch_Dogs.exe, version: 0.1.0.1, time stamp: 0x537507a1
Faulting module name: ntdll.dll, version: 6.1.7601.18247, time stamp: 0x521eaf24
Exception code: 0xc0000374
Fault offset: 0x00000000000c4102
Faulting process id: 0x21b4
Faulting application start time: 0x01cf7dfc7f9a61ab
Faulting application path: C:\Program Files (x86)\Ubisoft\Ubisoft Game Launcher\games\Watch_Dogs\bin\Watch_Dogs.exe
Faulting module path: C:\Windows\SYSTEM32\ntdll.dll
Report Id: 5900e834-e9fa-11e3-bf3a-7ce9d35186f4
Event Xml:

 
   
    1000
    2
    100
    0x80000000000000
   
    21430
    Application
    Alienware
   
 
 
    Watch_Dogs.exe
    0.1.0.1
    537507a1
    ntdll.dll
    6.1.7601.18247
    521eaf24
    c0000374
    00000000000c4102
    21b4
    01cf7dfc7f9a61ab
    C:\Program Files (x86)\Ubisoft\Ubisoft Game Launcher\games\Watch_Dogs\bin\Watch_Dogs.exe
    C:\Windows\SYSTEM32\ntdll.dll
    5900e834-e9fa-11e3-bf3a-7ce9d35186f4
 


Log Name:      Application
Source:        Application Error
Date:          6/1/2014 3:48:04 PM
Event ID:      1000
Task Category: (100)
Level:         Error
Keywords:      Classic
User:          N/A
Computer:      Alienware
Description:
Faulting application name: Watch_Dogs.exe, version: 0.1.0.1, time stamp: 0x537507a1
Faulting module name: ntdll.dll, version: 6.1.7601.18247, time stamp: 0x521eaf24
Exception code: 0xc0000005
Fault offset: 0x000000000002573a
Faulting process id: 0x20f0
Faulting application start time: 0x01cf7dd11a7f9c1e
Faulting application path: C:\Program Files (x86)\Ubisoft\Ubisoft Game Launcher\games\Watch_Dogs\bin\Watch_Dogs.exe
Faulting module path: C:\Windows\SYSTEM32\ntdll.dll
Report Id: a4e11598-e9c5-11e3-bf3a-7ce9d35186f4
Event Xml:

 
   
    1000
    2
    100
    0x80000000000000
   
    21375
    Application
    Alienware
   
 
 
    Watch_Dogs.exe
    0.1.0.1
    537507a1
    ntdll.dll
    6.1.7601.18247
    521eaf24
    c0000005
    000000000002573a
    20f0
    01cf7dd11a7f9c1e
    C:\Program Files (x86)\Ubisoft\Ubisoft Game Launcher\games\Watch_Dogs\bin\Watch_Dogs.exe
    C:\Windows\SYSTEM32\ntdll.dll
    a4e11598-e9c5-11e3-bf3a-7ce9d35186f4
 


Log Name:      Application
Source:        Application Error
Date:          6/1/2014 3:38:24 PM
Event ID:      1000
Task Category: (100)
Level:         Error
Keywords:      Classic
User:          N/A
Computer:      Alienware
Description:
Faulting application name: Watch_Dogs.exe, version: 0.1.0.1, time stamp: 0x537507a1
Faulting module name: Disrupt_b64.dll, version: 0.0.0.0, time stamp: 0x5375077c
Exception code: 0xc0000005
Fault offset: 0x0000000000bee47a
Faulting process id: 0x2428
Faulting application start time: 0x01cf7dd0143ebe63
Faulting application path: C:\Program Files (x86)\Ubisoft\Ubisoft Game Launcher\games\Watch_Dogs\bin\Watch_Dogs.exe
Faulting module path: C:\Program Files (x86)\Ubisoft\Ubisoft Game Launcher\games\Watch_Dogs\bin\Disrupt_b64.dll
Report Id: 4b2c89fd-e9c4-11e3-bf3a-7ce9d35186f4
Event Xml:

 
   
    1000
    2
    100
    0x80000000000000
   
    21372
    Application
    Alienware
   
 
 
    Watch_Dogs.exe
    0.1.0.1
    537507a1
    Disrupt_b64.dll
    0.0.0.0
    5375077c
    c0000005
    0000000000bee47a
    2428
    01cf7dd0143ebe63
    C:\Program Files (x86)\Ubisoft\Ubisoft Game Launcher\games\Watch_Dogs\bin\Watch_Dogs.exe
    C:\Program Files (x86)\Ubisoft\Ubisoft Game Launcher\games\Watch_Dogs\bin\Disrupt_b64.dll
    4b2c89fd-e9c4-11e3-bf3a-7ce9d35186f4
 


Log Name:      Application
Source:        Application Error
Date:          6/1/2014 2:33:22 PM
Event ID:      1000
Task Category: (100)
Level:         Error
Keywords:      Classic
User:          N/A
Computer:      Alienware
Description:
Faulting application name: Watch_Dogs.exe, version: 0.1.0.1, time stamp: 0x537507a1
Faulting module name: Disrupt_b64.dll, version: 0.0.0.0, time stamp: 0x5375077c
Exception code: 0xc0000005
Fault offset: 0x000000000017f7d8
Faulting process id: 0x1778
Faulting application start time: 0x01cf7dba2e18246d
Faulting application path: C:\Program Files (x86)\Ubisoft\Ubisoft Game Launcher\games\Watch_Dogs\bin\Watch_Dogs.exe
Faulting module path: C:\Program Files (x86)\Ubisoft\Ubisoft Game Launcher\games\Watch_Dogs\bin\Disrupt_b64.dll
Report Id: 3567fdad-e9bb-11e3-bf3a-7ce9d35186f4
Event Xml:

 
   
    1000
    2
    100
    0x80000000000000
   
    21360
    Application
    Alienware
   
 
 
    Watch_Dogs.exe
    0.1.0.1
    537507a1
    Disrupt_b64.dll
    0.0.0.0
    5375077c
    c0000005
    000000000017f7d8
    1778
    01cf7dba2e18246d
    C:\Program Files (x86)\Ubisoft\Ubisoft Game Launcher\games\Watch_Dogs\bin\Watch_Dogs.exe
    C:\Program Files (x86)\Ubisoft\Ubisoft Game Launcher\games\Watch_Dogs\bin\Disrupt_b64.dll
    3567fdad-e9bb-11e3-bf3a-7ce9d35186f4
 


Log Name:      Application
Source:        Application Error
Date:          6/1/2014 12:54:13 PM
Event ID:      1000
Task Category: (100)
Level:         Error
Keywords:      Classic
User:          N/A
Computer:      Alienware
Description:
Faulting application name: Watch_Dogs.exe, version: 0.1.0.1, time stamp: 0x537507a1
Faulting module name: bink2w64.dll, version: 1.999.2.0, time stamp: 0x51e6540c
Exception code: 0xc0000005
Fault offset: 0x0000000000028da0
Faulting process id: 0x1f44
Faulting application start time: 0x01cf7db9f286db64
Faulting application path: C:\Program Files (x86)\Ubisoft\Ubisoft Game Launcher\games\Watch_Dogs\bin\Watch_Dogs.exe
Faulting module path: C:\Program Files (x86)\Ubisoft\Ubisoft Game Launcher\games\Watch_Dogs\bin\bink2w64.dll
Report Id: 5b4af9b4-e9ad-11e3-bf3a-7ce9d35186f4
Event Xml:

 
   
    1000
    2
    100
    0x80000000000000
   
    21345
    Application
    Alienware
   
 
 
    Watch_Dogs.exe
    0.1.0.1
    537507a1
    bink2w64.dll
    1.999.2.0
    51e6540c
    c0000005
    0000000000028da0
    1f44
    01cf7db9f286db64
    C:\Program Files (x86)\Ubisoft\Ubisoft Game Launcher\games\Watch_Dogs\bin\Watch_Dogs.exe
    C:\Program Files (x86)\Ubisoft\Ubisoft Game Launcher\games\Watch_Dogs\bin\bink2w64.dll
    5b4af9b4-e9ad-11e3-bf3a-7ce9d35186f4
 


Log Name:      Application
Source:        Application Error
Date:          6/1/2014 12:52:18 PM
Event ID:      1000
Task Category: (100)
Level:         Error
Keywords:      Classic
User:          N/A
Computer:      Alienware
Description:
Faulting application name: Watch_Dogs.exe, version: 0.1.0.1, time stamp: 0x537507a1
Faulting module name: bink2w64.dll, version: 1.999.2.0, time stamp: 0x51e6540c
Exception code: 0xc0000005
Fault offset: 0x0000000000028da0
Faulting process id: 0x1a0c
Faulting application start time: 0x01cf7db9727f8b7b
Faulting application path: C:\Program Files (x86)\Ubisoft\Ubisoft Game Launcher\games\Watch_Dogs\bin\Watch_Dogs.exe
Faulting module path: C:\Program Files (x86)\Ubisoft\Ubisoft Game Launcher\games\Watch_Dogs\bin\bink2w64.dll
Report Id: 16fee9a2-e9ad-11e3-bf3a-7ce9d35186f4
Event Xml:

 
   
    1000
    2
    100
    0x80000000000000
   
    21343
    Application
    Alienware
   
 
 
    Watch_Dogs.exe
    0.1.0.1
    537507a1
    bink2w64.dll
    1.999.2.0
    51e6540c
    c0000005
    0000000000028da0
    1a0c
    01cf7db9727f8b7b
    C:\Program Files (x86)\Ubisoft\Ubisoft Game Launcher\games\Watch_Dogs\bin\Watch_Dogs.exe
    C:\Program Files (x86)\Ubisoft\Ubisoft Game Launcher\games\Watch_Dogs\bin\bink2w64.dll
    16fee9a2-e9ad-11e3-bf3a-7ce9d35186f4
 


Log Name:      Application
Source:        Application Error
Date:          6/1/2014 12:16:51 PM
Event ID:      1000
Task Category: (100)
Level:         Error
Keywords:      Classic
User:          N/A
Computer:      Alienware
Description:
Faulting application name: Watch_Dogs.exe, version: 0.1.0.1, time stamp: 0x537507a1
Faulting module name: bink2w64.dll, version: 1.999.2.0, time stamp: 0x51e6540c
Exception code: 0xc0000005
Fault offset: 0x0000000000028da0
Faulting process id: 0x2480
Faulting application start time: 0x01cf7dadb4c191c0
Faulting application path: C:\Program Files (x86)\Ubisoft\Ubisoft Game Launcher\games\Watch_Dogs\bin\Watch_Dogs.exe
Faulting module path: C:\Program Files (x86)\Ubisoft\Ubisoft Game Launcher\games\Watch_Dogs\bin\bink2w64.dll
Report Id: 232f7c61-e9a8-11e3-bf3a-7ce9d35186f4
Event Xml:

 
   
    1000
    2
    100
    0x80000000000000
   
    21336
    Application
    Alienware
   
 
 
    Watch_Dogs.exe
    0.1.0.1
    537507a1
    bink2w64.dll
    1.999.2.0
    51e6540c
    c0000005
    0000000000028da0
    2480
    01cf7dadb4c191c0
    C:\Program Files (x86)\Ubisoft\Ubisoft Game Launcher\games\Watch_Dogs\bin\Watch_Dogs.exe
    C:\Program Files (x86)\Ubisoft\Ubisoft Game Launcher\games\Watch_Dogs\bin\bink2w64.dll
    232f7c61-e9a8-11e3-bf3a-7ce9d35186f4
 

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Saturday, December 07, 2013

Prescription lenses are coming to Google Glass

Prescription lenses are coming to Google Glass

Brian Matiash, a community manager for Google, has posted (and quickly removed) a pair of photos that show Google Glass being used with prescription lenses.
Somewhere around 60 percent of people in the developing world wear glasses, contact lenses or have had corrective eye surgery, making support for prescription lenses a high priority for Google.
Read more @ http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2013-12/07/prescription-glass


Note:  I see that the Glass unit appears to be modular (it's a separate unit that could be slid onto regular glasses)...if that's the case, then that's a great idea!  I'm usually not one to gravitate to such technology, but I can see the worth of this particular piece of tech.

Edit:  Whoa...$1500???  No thanks!  Screw that.

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Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Web monitoring devices made by U.S. firm Blue Coat detected in Iran, Sudan

Web monitoring devices made by U.S. firm Blue Coat detected in Iran, Sudan

American-made devices used for Internet monitoring have been detected on government and commercial computer networks in Iran and Sudan, in apparent violation of U.S. sanctions that ban the sale of goods, services or technology to the autocratic states, according to new research.

Read more at http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/report-web-monitoring-devices-made-by-us-firm-blue-coat-detected-in-iran-sudan/2013/07/08/09877ad6-e7cf-11e2-a301-ea5a8116d211_story.html

Several things piqued my interest in this article.

1.  Before I even finished the first page, my thought was, "How could Blue Coat not know this?"  I realize that resellers can lie to Blue Coat, leaving them in the dark as to the location of the devices (as the article discussed actually occurred), but I find it difficult to believe that a vendor of such major standing doesn't have code in place that can tell the vendor the general location of the device.

2.  With bullet #1, how are maintenance agreements and licensing purchased and renewed when the device is essentially black-market?  Maybe with a bit of racketeering in the background?

3.  This appears to be a recurring theme with Blue Coat.

4.  This statement:

Researchers uncovered the tools by analyzing a massive database of 1.3 billion Internet protocol addresses compiled anonymously by someone who apparently used a network of hacked computers to generate the data — in itself a controversial technique.

I've a problem with the above.  You don't take data that was illegally gained and use it.  Who knows if the data was tampered with, for one.  As well, and this is my personal opinion, how are you going to place trust in the authenticity and details if the data was illegally obtained?

5.  Next statement:

The Citizen Lab, which said it was satisfied that using the Internet database for research was not illegal or unethical, said it verified the results independently by manually connecting to the devices on these countries’ networks.

I'm confused about the above.  Most properly installed management stations are going to be isolated from the internet (ie, you shouldn't be able to reach the device directly).  Sure, the devices could've been erroneously placed so that they could be reached from the internet, but I highly doubt each discovered device was misplaced.  And by "connecting to", does Citizen Lab mean that they were able to log into the machine?  Or do they mean they received a login and password prompt (or telnet'd to the devices, or used Nmap or some other technique that may identify the systems without actually logging into them)?

6.  The following statement really confused me:

In a statement to The Post, Blue Coat said, “Even when our products are unlawfully diverted to embargoed countries without our knowledge, we use various techniques to limit our products from receiving updates or support from our servers or support personnel.”Researchers said that blocking ability suggests the company can identify the location of its tools; Blue Coat declined to comment.
This ties into my first bullet.  They're indicating that they know how to limit their products from receiving updates and support.  Well, their normal techniques didn't work in this case.  Or maybe they were selectively turning a blind eye?  I mean, their techniques either work or they don't and I stated earlier that most major vendors should be capable of determining certain information about their purchased/leased devices (ie, it's location, whether maintenance and support is current...).

Blue Coat needs to elaborate on bullet #6, because their refusal to comment makes them look guilty in my eyes.

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Monday, July 08, 2013

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 - good resources and tips!

http://www.trustedreviews.com/opinions/50-samsung-galaxy-note-2-tips-and-tricks_Page-2

http://www.thefullsignal.com/samsung/samsung-galaxy-note-2/13366/samsung-galaxy-note-2-tips-and-tricks/page/0/1

The two above pages are resources I found that document some features that I've yet to try...the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 has a ton of features!

I've been trying to take lots of pictures with it, since it takes great pictures.  The URLs above have some good picture-taking tips.

I'll try to share my experience here when I attempt some of the tips/tricks.

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