About admin (Royce)

The short version? I’m an IT expert that’s addicted to cigars, Whataburger, and tech stuff. Howdy!

Kidde recalls over 37 million of their plastic-handle fire extinguishers made from January 1973 to August 2017

In the “yeah, that’s bad” department, Kidde announced a massive recall of their plastic handle fire extinguishers that were manufactured between January 1, 1973 and August 15, 2017 due to failure “to activate during a fire emergency due to clogs”.

On the Occupational Health and Safety website, they say that anywhere from 37 to 40 million Kidde fire extinguishers “may not function properly in an emergency. The recall applies to 134 models of Kidde fire extinguishers manufactured between January 1, 1973, and August 15, 2017, including models that had been previously recalled in March 2009 and February 2015.”

“The recall involves both plastic handle and push-button Pindicator fire extinguishers. The extinguishers can fail to activate during a fire emergency due to clogs or requiring excessive force to discharge. The nozzle also can detach with enough force to pose an impact hazard. There have been approximately 391 reports of failed or limited activation or nozzle detachment, including a 2014 death in which emergency responders could not get the recalled Kidde fire extinguishers to work in a car fire following a crash.”

There’s a long list of all extinguishers affected by the recall on Kidde’s website and even a grim admission that “there have been approximately 391 reports of failed or limited activation or nozzle detachment, including [a] fatality, approximately 16 injuries, including smoke inhalation and minor burns, and approximately 91 reports of property damage” with those affected models.

Most people I know have a Kidde fire extinguisher since they’re sold nationwide at just about every store there is, but Kidde stated on their website these defective fire extinguishers were also bundled “with commercial trucks, recreational vehicles, personal watercraft and boats.”

If you find that you have one of their fire extinguishers, check out the recall list or call Kidde toll-free at 855-271-0773 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday and/or 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET Saturday and Sunday to get yours replaced ASAP.

QNAP NAS users: QFinder update now collects usage information

If you use QFinder or QFinder Pro as part of your QNAP NAS management, the
most recent version of the app (QNAP Qfinder Pro 6.3.0) now collects information on your NAS usage.

You can click CANCEL and not OK at the legalese screen after the software installs, but it isn’t immediately apparent if this exempts you from the new TOS or is just a “close window” action.

Following is the “Consent to User Information Collection” that appears after the application updates. (The concerning parts I placed in bold.)


Consent to User Information Collection

Thank you for using QNAP Systems, Inc. (hereinafter referred to as the “Company”) products. To provide a better user experience, the Company will collect usage-related information when you use Qfinder Pro (hereinafter referred to as the “Product”), as detailed below:

Purpose

User information and user behavior helps the Company to better understand user habits and preferences. The Company collects such information to improve the Product and services to meet the needs of users and to improve the overall service quality.

Information Collected

The information collected includes (but is not limited to):

Operating system information, device identification codes, country and language settings, computer model, firmware version and other basic information.

App-related information including: version information, update and shutdown time, usage frequency, and usage time.

User preferences: device settings, product configuration, usage time of the application and hardware.

Other relevant but non-personal information.

Use of information

With your agreement, the aforementioned information will be automatically collected and sent back to the Company. The Company will analyze the collected information to identify improvements that can be made to future products and services. The Company has effective mechanisms and procedures to protect the security of the information collected and shall only use the relevant information internally.

Disclaimer
The Company hereby disclaims all warranties including express or implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for any particular purpose in connection with this consent or in any manner whatsoever. In addition to the foregoing, the Company shall not be held accountable for any direct, indirect, special, incidental or consequential damages, such as loss of profits, loss of data, equipment use or functional damage, interruption of business and events of a similar nature, regardless prior notice exists for such occurrence or not.

Flickr is shutting down their photo books and wall art services

Flickr announced earlier today they “are transitioning our photo book offering to Blurb and shutting down our wall art offering.”

“Beginning October 16, 2017 you will be able to connect your Flickr account to Blurb’s online photo book-making tool… you have until December 1, 2017 to complete any in-progress wall art or photo book orders. After December 1, 2017, you will not be able to access the Flickr wall art tool or the Flickr photo book tool and your progress will be lost.”

As for reprints, “you will need to go to your Flickr Wallet before December 1, 2017. After December 1, 2017, we will remove the wall art and photo book order history. You can manage your new orders on Blurb’s website.”

The Flickr forum for questions on this migration is here. This shutdown will NOT affect “regular” Flickr users or photos hosted on their service. Only the Photo Book and Wall Art sections will be discontinued.

Microsoft Groove is shutting down. Download your music before December 31st

In a late night email I just received, Microsoft announced it is shutting down their Groove music service as part of their upcoming merger with Spotify.

If you have any albums or singles through their service, you have until December 31st to download them before they are deleted.

From the email…

“Groove Music is excited to announce that we’re partnering with Spotify to bring you the world’s largest music streaming service. On December 31, 2017, the option to stream, purchase, and download music from Groove Music will be discontinued. After December 31, 2017, you’ll still be able to listen to your purchased music if it has been downloaded.”

“Keep your current music collection intact by downloading to your devices any albums and tracks that you’ve already purchased. You can download your purchased music through the Groove Music App until December 31, 2017.”

“To download your music, open Groove, go to your music collection and select the Purchased filter. Right-click or press and hold your music files and select Download from the menu.”

The wealthy have access to a different level of firearms

There’s going to be a lot of discussion about gun control in the next few weeks. Most of the gun control debates are going to be over varying levels of trivia. The stock type of a rifle. How many rounds of ammunition a magazine can hold. The type of handle used for a rifle.

For the wealthy, this is all bread and circuses.

What I have yet to see in any gun control debate is a discussion on how the wealthy have access to a completely different level of firearms through “taxes”, careful application of the law, and very specific turning of phrases.

To start with, the act of purchasing a “civilian” firearm is fairly straightforward. You walk into a firearm store, pick a firearm, fill out the appropriate ATF form, and depending on whether you pass the background check, walk out the door 10 minutes later with your choice from the rack.

Fully automatic firearms and “specialty” firearms are a different matter, though.

For most people who are not familiar with firearms, a gun is a gun. However there is a very important distinction in firearms: whether they are semi-automatic or fully automatic.

The difference between a fully automatic and semi-automatic firearm is what happens when you pull the trigger. A semi-automatic firearm discharges once when you pull the trigger and that’s it. To make it fire again, you have to pull the trigger again. Those kinds of firearms are (mostly) legal for most individuals to own (pistols or rifles) under the current laws of the United States and sub-laws of the states themselves.

Fully automatic firearms are completely different. There’s a lever you can set on the side of a fully automatic firearm that lets you choose what happens when you pull the trigger. One setting matches the semi-automatics: one trigger pull equals one discharge. The other setting, the full-automatic one, will let the firearm continue to fire until you either release the trigger or the firearm depletes the ammunition it has access to. Ammunition will expend quickly, but the target will be perforated with bullets far more rapidly than any single trigger pull sequence could ever achieve.

No “regular” firearm store carries fully automatic firearms on their shelves. Fully automatic firearms are generally referred to as “machine guns”, and are (mostly) not straightforwardly legal to own as an individual.

Mostly doesn’t apply to the wealthy.

Let’s say Poor John Doe wants to buy a fully automatic firearm. Since he doesn’t have a lot of money, he’s out of luck. End of story. If he ever comes into ownership of a fully automatic firearm, he’s looking at spending a very long time at a not-so-friendly federal penitentiary.

Now if Rich John Doe wants to buy a fully automatic firearm, he starts off by visiting a “specialty” firearms dealer. This won’t be a Bass Pro or Cabela’s or Academy. This “specialty” store is a firearms store specifically up and running to sell fully automatic firearms and has passed a far more vigorous owner/employee screening process than any of the “civilian” hunting stores even want to think about. They’re called Class III FFL dealers (or a Class I with a Special Occupational Tax) that deal in something called NFA firearms. (The Bass Pro or Cabela’s or Academy stores are just Class I FFL dealers with no Special Occupational Tax. The “class” legalese strictly defines the types of firearms a store can sell.)

Now all RIch John Doe has to do is pay.

That’s it.

Pay an exorbitant upfront fee for the firearm itself (anywhere from $10,000 to $300,000), pay a special “tax” for owning the firearm, fill out a few dozen forms, apply (any pay again) for any extra “tax stamps” the firearm requires, get approval from both the ATF and the local chief law enforcement office, and finally send in photos and multiple forms of ID to everyone in the exchange.

All that is all just a matter of money and time. Rich John Doe has plenty of both.

Ah, but it gets better!

Let’s say Rich John Doe has a fully automatic firearm he really wants to share or pass on to someone before he dies. With all the legal red tape involved in fully automatic firearm ownership, Rich John Doe just can’t hand it to someone and say “here you go!”

But Rich John Doe does have a way out. All Rich John Doe has to do is go to his local neighborhood attorney’s office and set up a “trust”.

A trust is a legal setup to allow for “company” ownership among distributed individuals. Ideally, this would be reserved for boring company assets like cars and condos, but trusts also apply to firearms. This trust rule for firearms was intentionally written into the 1934 National Firearms Act and still applies today.

Back to Rich John Doe. Rich John Doe goes to his attorney and sets up a trust and calls it HAPPY BANANAS and adds his good friend Rich Bob Doe. In a few weeks, the trust is “established” legally. Nevermind Rich John Doe and Rich Bob Doe are the only two in this trust. That doesn’t matter. A trust is a trust, no matter how many individuals are in it. Trusts meet the legal definition of a person even though they aren’t.

Clear as mud yet?

Once HAPPY BANANAS is up and running and all the paperwork is cleared, Rich John Doe goes back to the dealer and the fully automatic firearm is ready for the TRUST to pick up. His TRUST pays for the firearm and the firearm is registered to his TRUST. Not him or Rich Bob Doe because the TRUST owns it. But Rich John Doe AND Rich Bob Doe can use the firearm anytime they want.

A trust can own most any kind of firearm that is registered to it. Weapons and accessories that make the selection at the “regular” hunting store look like Nerf toys. Anyone in the “trust” can use and keep the firearm whenever they want, and more people can be added to the trust anytime with an attorney’s expert help.

There are a few caveats to fully automatic firearm ownership. “No fully automatic weapons made after May 19th 1986 can be owned by anyone (unless you are a FFL dealer and keep your license in good standing)… however, fully automatic firearms registered prior to May 19th, 1986 are. (There are “only” an estimated 182,619 machine guns that fit this criteria.) Machine guns imported after 1968 but before May 19th, 1986 can be bought and kept only by FFL dealers… and machine guns made after the May 19th, 1986 cutoff date are only available for dealers, manufacturers, military, and police.”

So, to sum up, a “new” fully automatic firearm (AKA: a machine gun) is out of the question, but you can get any of the 182,619 fully automatic firearms that meet the above criteria for anywhere from $10,000 to $300,000 each.

Not a problem for Rich John Doe.

Nobody talks about this level of firearm ownership because it is almost financially incomprehensible. Spend years and years of salary on a single firearm?

But now, Vegas happened. The shooter (at the time of this post) was supposedly a millionaire and used multiple fully automatic firearms.

Did the shooter have access to these fully automatic firearms through a trust? Did the shooter pay for each of these fully automatic firearms with the millions he had? Did the shooter pass all the criteria for owning multiple fully automatic firearms without raising any red flags?

The wealthy have access to a different level of firearms.

Why?

 

More detailed information about fully automatic firearm ownership is on the ATF’s website. 

CDMaST Phase 2 is going to change naval warfare

I’m constantly amazed at the level of tech we are achieving in a relatively short period of time. The “future” is coming fast, and sometimes in ways that even the best of science fiction didn’t anticipate.

Case in point – the CDMaST Phase 2 project from DARPA. Long story short, the idea behind this project “revolves around real-time secure networks of manned and unmanned aircraft, surface ships, and submarines able to attack and defend vast areas of the world’s oceans to hold enemy ships and submarines at risk over wide contested areas.”

The CDMaST project wouldn’t be the only line of defense. The project “would augment aircraft carrier battle groups and manned submarines with networked manned and unmanned systems of systems (SoS) that work collaboratively to control the seas.”

Imagine hundreds or thousands of drone-based ships in the ocean, playing basic defense and surveillance “over ocean areas as large as a million square kilometers”. This 24/7 armada would “hold the line” so to speak, and keep the Navy’s “12 aircraft carriers, 52 attack submarines, and 18 ballistic- and cruise-missile submarines” on a more focused and as-needed basis.

It’s brilliant.

Of course CDMaST is going to be target #A1 for hacking, and CDMaST is probably going to be the focus of some terrible movies when the mainstream media gets wind of this, but the idea that technology has reached the point of 24/7 global defense is astounding.

The article is on the Military and Aerospace website here.

DJI drones and tech banned from US Army for “operational risks”

In an article on Military and Aerospace Electronics, the US Army recently ordered all Army personnel “to cease all use of Chinese-made Dajiang Innovation drone products, uninstall all DJI applications, remove all batteries/storage media from devices, and secure equipment for follow on direction.”

“This guidance applies to all DJI UAS and any system that employs DJI electrical components or software including, but not limited to, flight computers, cameras, radios, batteries, speed controllers, GPS units, handheld control stations, or devices with DJI software applications installed.”

According to a sUAS article, this full stop shutdown might have something to do with DJI drones collecting “audio, visual and telemetry data on all flights across the globe. The details shared here are perhaps known to a limited number of the worldwide owners and users of the DJI technology.”

In other words, it looks like every DJI flght was copied to DJI / China’s HQ.

The actual Army memo and breakdown is on a sUAS news site, the sharing / data collection of DJI drones is on another sUAS page, and the ban is cross-confirmed on the UPI news site and the Military and Aerospace page.

The new bank heist – hacking Apple’s biometric datbases

Today Apple announced their new shiny shiny – the iPhone X.

<Nicholson Joker Voice> You thought the celebrity photo leak was bad? The Equifax hack terrorized? Wait until you get a load of the biometric hack. </Nicholson Joker Voice>

Apple swears “the detailed biometric data points that Face ID will use to identify individuals will stay local, stored on the phone and not remotely” BUT “face ID will work with third-party apps.

The gold mine of biometric data won’t be held in Apple’s Fort Knox, but shared “on the open road” with third parties?

Never mind Apple. Forget about trying to get into their billion dollar systems. If I was an evil mastermind, this would be by four-step plan…

  1. Wait and see what new app requiring the iPhone X facial recognition takes off in popularity
  2. Hack their low-secure angel-funded 20-people-in-the-whole-company database
  3. Sell the users’ biometric data on the dark web
  4. Profit

If I was an government employee evil mastermind, this would be by four-step plan…

  1. Create multiple new apps requiring iPhone X’s facial recognition (match the celebrity funny face, make your own emojis, group party chat, who’s the hottest, etc)
  2. Keep a master database of all faces using the app AND constantly scan everything the camera “sees” while running in the background
  3. Keep the users’ biometric data in my master database – create cross references of who the user associates with through matching biometric facial scans, their GPS locations, and who they have in their contact list (Apple already allows app access to GPS position and contact lists BTW)
  4. Profit in a very serious long-term way

Read Apple’s statement again. The biometric data points are not generated and deleted with every use. They are stored. On the local phone.

That stored information will be shared with third-party apps.

Biometric scans are a mathematical algorithm. Your facial patterns create an identifier unique to you. There’s no changing it. Once your unique biological mathematical algorithm is out in the open, there’s absolutely no way to put that genie back in the bottle. The last cornerstone of individual security will turn to dust.

I expect the first public-aware hack in two years.

Texas specific addendum for concealed carry holders under evacuation

While most people outside of Texas think concealed carry is something best left in the wild west era, for most Texans, it is a part of everyday life.

Regardless of your stance, there is a law on the Texas books that affects the evacuees of Hurricane Harvey that conceal or open carry their firearm.

In 2007, the Texas legislature passed the “Emergency Powers Act”, which coincided with the arrival of Hurricane Katrina and the (alleged) confiscation of firearms by the local and state police departments during the evacuation process.

In the act, written by Senator John Carona (R-Dallas) and with Rep. Frank Corte (R-San Antonio), all Texans are granted “safe passage” of their legally concealed or open carry firearm in times of evacuation.

The bill, available online here, states “a peace officer, during a state of disaster or a state of emergency, (may) disarm an individual lawfully carrying or possessing any firearm or ammunition if the officer reasonably believes it necessary for the protection of the officer or another individual. The bill requires the officer to return the firearm or ammunition to the individual before ceasing to detain the individual unless the officer arrests the individual or seizes the firearm as evidence in a criminal investigation.”

Shelters may have their own rules regarding firearms carry (concealed or open) for admission, but legally, all Texans can retain their firearm(s) while evacuating pending the exceptions noted in the bill.

Southwest Airlines lets you donate your Rapid Rewards points to help Houston

Southwest Airlines has had a website to donate Rapid Rewards points for awhile now (AKA: frequent flier miles), but with hurricane Harvey hitting Houston, now might be a good time for those fortunate enough to have thousands of unused points to make a big difference.

On the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards donation site, you can donate to All Hands Volunteers, The American Red Cross, Team Rubicon, The Mission Continues, and Ronald McDonald House. Any of these five charities will be in Houston (if not already) helping get the city back on its’ feet. Details on the organizations and their mission statements are on the Southwest Airlines donation website as well.

You can also donate to The Dream Foundation, Honor Flight Network, Make A Wish, or the Student Conservation Association on the same website.