How to block “extra” installs on PC java updates

Have you noticed when java installs an update on your PC, it always tries to throw in an “extra” application? Unless you uncheck that “don’t add this extra application” option every single time java updates, your PC winds up getting loaded down with a lot of junkware.

There is an easy way to stop these constant “extra” installs.

First, if you’re using Windows 7 or 8, press the windows key on your keyboard and type in “configure” (no quotes). In the list of applications that appear, you will see one that says “Configure Java”. Click that.

JavaConfigure

In the new window that opens, go to the last tab titled ADVANCED. Scroll to the very bottom, and in the “miscellaneous” section is an option for “suppress sponsor offers when installing or updating java.” Put a check in that box to prevent any future “extras” from sneaking in during your java updates.

JavaPreference

Easy and done!

Ebola VACCINE being fast-tracked by HHS

Buried way deep down in the press release pile was a notice from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services that they are fast-tracking an ebola VACCINE.

Getting a $5.8 million boost of cash from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), a prototype vaccine is getting kicked into high gear for animal testing, then FDA approval, then testing on humans.

Here’s the big quote… “In the DoD-supported studies, a single dose of the experimental Ebola vaccine provided 100 percent protection in non-human primates. BARDA will support further development of the vaccine against the Ebola virus strain responsible for the current epidemic.”

So good news – this prototype vaccine works great so far, and maybe ebola will soon be as dangerous as a common flu strain.

Bad news – there’s still awhile to go before it hits the general population, since “phase 2 clinical efficacy trials for these vaccine candidates are expected in 2015.”

The full HHS press release is here.

The official DoD response to Ebola FAQ

The Good news: The Department of Defense posted an official “response” to Ebola and how it ties into the Military Health System for all service members about to be deployed to Africa.

The Bad News: Pretty much everything else.

In an article posted on the official health.mil site the DoD starts off by saying there’s no plan “for U.S. military personnel to provide direct patient care”, but in the very next sentence they say “in the event there is a requirement for U.S. military personnel to work in areas where there is a risk of contracting Ebola, U.S. military personnel will follow the protection guidelines issued by the CDC, and will be issued appropriate personal protective equipment.”

So if there’s no plan, why is there a set of personal protective equipment at the ready?

The last two Q and A sections in the FAQ are what is going to give the media ulcers. BOLD sections are my prediction on next week’s talking points…


 

Q: Will service members be screened and quarantined if symtpmatic (sic)

A: Once deployed, all personnel will be evaluated by their unit twice each day for temperature and their exposure to risks. We will have a tiered model for risks based on both symptoms and / or risk exposures. Anyone who is identified as having symptoms will be quickly evaluated by medical personnel.  Medical authorities will make the decision based on a structured set of criteria as to whether the service member can return to duty or should be medically evacuated back to the U.S. Personnel, if determined to have an exposure that represents more than a minimal risk, will be evacuated back to the United States for observation and treatment if required. If someone at risk is moved back to the U.S., they will be quarantined for 21 days at a DoD designated facility to monitor for signs and symptoms of the disease.


A: Once individuals are back in the US after their deployment, monitoring will continue for 21 days. There will be face-to-face interviews, twice a day, to review for symptoms and perform a temperature check.  Anyone who is not showing any symptoms will be allowed to return to work, and resume daily activities with their families. Individuals will not be authorized leave or temporary duty outside of their local area during these 21 days so we can assure continued face to face monitoring.

So even after returning home, the DoD isn’t taking any chances with infections under their 21-day rule. The question is what the “local area” will be defined as.


I also think the “fly home for treatment if you’re infected” part is what’s really going to upset a lot of people, especially if there’s a DoD Ebola-Guantanamo thing prepped. Yes, the US is the best place for Ebola treatment, but if this disease spreads into the hundreds, you can bet your paycheck there’s going to be LOUD calls for an end to all flights to the US.

Why McAllen might have been overlooked for emergency immigration funds

There’s some surprising news that the city of McAllen was completely overlooked in President Obama’s recent Federal emergency immigration fund.

As it stands now, not one single penny from the $3.7 billion requested by President Obama in emergency funds to help stem the sudden immigration crisis will go to the city right at ground zero.

Of course, the mayor of McAllen had a few words about this for NBC.

What’s especially odd is that while President Obama is in Texas, he isn’t going to visit McAllen or any city in the Texas valley.

This really is an ongoing crisis. McAllen is literally pitching tents to help the flood of incoming immigrants coming across the border.

McAllen Tents
McAllen Tents

I took that photo yesterday. Me. That’s the church my wife and I got married at in the background. I can testify, firsthand, what is being reported in the news about the immigration flood really is happening.

So, back to the $3.7 billion dollar question. Why was McAllen given the red-headed-stepchild treatment?

This is thin. Real thin. Probably don’t mean anything. But it might have something to do with the fact that the Rio Grande Valley is a massive Clinton fundraising center.

Bear with me for a second.

An article in the Washington Post perfectly summarizes the valley fundraising juggernaut. Way back in 2007, Hillary raised $640,000 in the Texas valley region alone. Compare that with President Obama’s $2,086 total for the Texas valley region during that same time. That’s a difference of $637,914.

Jump ahead to 2013. $587,566 was raised for the Clintons, and again, in this region alone.

The not-so-big secret about all this money coming in for the Clintons is really the result of one very secretive man. Alonzo Cantu.

The local Brownsville Herald newspaper has a great article on Alonzo Cantu and confirms the 2013 fundraising number I mentioned above.

USA today has an additional article on him, saying back in 2008 he pulled in around $1 million cash for the Clintons, again, in the Texas valley region alone.

Consistently pulling in around $1 million a year? That’s a super powerful friend to have on your side.

The Clinton valley fundraising juggernaut is still going full steam. Hilary Clinton was “just” down here in March at a fundraiser not even 10 minutes North of downtown McAllen.

Let me change channels real quick to a second observation. The Texas valley is solid blue Democrat [NPR link].

Take a look at the last presidential election result. Everything below (and including) San Antonio is solid blue.

So, how do the Clintons getting major bank and the area being hardcore Democrat both tie to an emergency aid “oversight”?

Like I said, this is thin. Real thin. Probably don’t mean anything.

But maybe it has something to do with President Obama promising Senator Elizabeth Warren he would back her for president.

Not Hilary Clinton.

I seriously hope I’m just being a paranoid old fart. That none of these things tie in together and I just need to up my dosage.

I mean absolutely no disrespect to President Obama. I’m sure there’s a solid reason not to give McAllen any help despite the fact that every major news outlet reports on the crisis from McAllen and despite the fact the mainstream media is practically camping out down here and keeps writing story after story after story about it.

I’m also very sure things are going to get a lot worse if something isn’t done soon.

UPDATE 7/11/14 : From today’s New York Times G.O.P. Pushes Back on Approving Border Funds article : “Jeh Johnson, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, told the committee that “we can and we will stem this recent tide of illegal migration into the Rio Grande Valley sector.””   Again – it’s all focusing in McAllen.

A serious question to the NSA about Snowden and master passwords

If anybody from the NSA reads this, I have a serious question.

Have you all scanned what Snowden stole/liberated (whatever floats your boat) for government backdoor and/or “master password” references? Were there any government backdoor and/or “master password” references stored in the systems he had access to?

OK, in English now… for a long time there have been rumors of backdoor and/or “master passwords” for all computer systems. With a certain password for a certain system, an “authorized” person could get full access.

There really are “master passwords” currently in place for PC BIOS systems, all vehicle-embedded systems, and even on all iPhones. (Seriously. It’s not a secret that “alpine” works for full SSH access on all iPhones.)

To make things even more interesting, since 1984 there have been ways to put backdoor and/or “master passwords” into compilers so not even programmers who make applications on their own would know such a backdoor and/or “master password” was put into the app they just created.

Cool, huh?

You do need a specialized program to access each of these systems, sometimes you also need local access to the device, and most of the Google-able backdoor and/or “master passwords” that show up are for things like maintenance and root-level hijinks, not “watch what people are doing live” kinds of things.

Regardless, I would bet there’s just a few backdoor and/or “master passwords” reserved for the government that are already embedded in some critical systems. I would also bet with the right password combination, a “watch what people are doing live” kind of thing could be set up with no problem.

All theoretically, of course.

Snowden stole/liberated somewhere between “too much” and “oh dear God” levels of data from the NSA. Now all that data was classified information. Communications. Transfers. Notes. Reports. Stuff not meant to see the light of day for some reason or other (justified or not).

I’m thinking things like this were in the pile of data…

  • Senator John Doe thinks Ambassador Moe Howard has a funny haircut, smells bad and isn’t too smart. This should remain classified because we need to make nice with Ambassador Howard for now, but if it got out, no big deal. Doe and Howard could work it out over a golf game and some scotch.
  • Senator John Doe is on the top secret Kinetic Intelligent Satellite Striker (KISS) committee – well, that’s bad, but not world-ending. There’s not much hard proof about this project, the locations are all buttoned down, and there’s nothing other countries can act on directly.
  • Senator John Doe used the password “BOHONKUS” to access files from a Dell Latitude E5430 system on an ambassador’s laptop from a country currently designated as “hostile”.

That last one? Clearly naming the government backdoor and/or “master password” for a specific system and purpose?

If that gets out, it can be used by ANYONE. Anywhere. Anytime. You can kiss EVERYTHING that backdoor and/or “master password” is embedded in goodbye forever.

Plan on everyone using that backdoor password, and by everyone I mean especially…

  • The Chinese “we’re not hackers – we’re just curious” brigade
  • Russia
  • North Korea
  • ISIS
  • Bored Americans

As an extra bonus, there’s no resetting a backdoor and/or “master password” on most embedded systems without local “hands on” access. No way to erase it. No way to change it. No way to block it.

I don’t know if Snowden would or would not release something like this if he found it in his data pile, but I guarantee a hostile government with access to this information would use it without question.

Which brings me back around to my question for the NSA.

Has the NSA scanned what Snowden stole/liberated for government backdoor and/or “master password” references? Were there any government backdoor and/or “master password” references stored in the systems Snowden had access to?

Finally, if there are backdoor and/or “master password” references in the pile of data Snowden has, what is the worst case scenario if a hostile entity uses this password to access the system(s) it is embedded in?

It’s going to be a terrible thing to admit to the U.S., but if there is a backdoor and/or “master password” reference of any kind in Snowden’s data pile, we need to do something about it right now.

The alternative would be far, FAR worse.

Any compromised systems for private citizens or commercial businesses would need to be updated as soon as possible.

Any compromised military systems would need to be taken offline IMMEDIATELY and kept out of active service until they have all been secured.

And NSA, going forward, if you’re going to ignore that “unreasonable search and something or other” part of the Constitution and put in backdoor and/or “master passwords” on some systems, please install VERY secure backdoor and/or “master passwords” that require multi-factor authentication that can be changed or be deleted if necessary.

The back door needs to be more secure than the front door.

At the bare minimum, I suggest a DIFFERENT password for different series of devices and/or software with something like a random key fob authentication system for each.

For example…

  • The backdoor password for Dell laptops model A with serial numbers 00001-10500 would be DWW-TATANKA.BUFFALO synced to key fob series ALPHA-9.
  • The backdoor password for Dell laptops model G with serial numbers 00001 – 10500 would be CJLP-TEA.EARL.GREY.HOT synced to key fob series ALPHA-3.
  • The backdoor password for accessing everything the “Angry Birds” app sends to the NSA would be HONEY-WHERE.IS.MY.SUPER.SUIT synced to key fob series BETA-111
  • Etc.

Make a different password string for each manufacturer’s series and each manufacturer’s model numbers. Tie all of that into a version of a key fob multi-factor authentication generator for final access.

After this update, to access a system’s backdoor, you would not only need the “master password” embedded in the device, you would also need the randomly synced password that would be generated on the key fob to proceed.

Worst case – if a master backdoor password is compromised or stolen by a future Snowden, it would be useless in and of itself without the key fob generator to finish “opening the door” and it would only be valid on a limited set of systems. If both a master backdoor password and its’ correlating key fob system were compromised, you would only risk access to a limited series of systems.

That’s the minimum recommended civil-rights violations per serving. Seriously. No more single word passwords for an entire warehouse of systems or for all software made with compiler X.

I know there’s insanely more complex ways of implementing backdoor access, but depending on the “audience” using the backdoor passwords, the NSA guys need to keep it accessible by the non-tech-savant crowd and reasonably quick as well.

Systems from the 80s, 90s and 2000 era are still out there. Applications built and modified on top of existing systems in this time period are legion. Only the NSA knows if there’s really such a thing as backdoor single-word-passwords and where they might be installed at.

To quote Forrest Gump, “that’s all I got to say about that.”

Now back to silly cat photos, already in progress.

Courting a disaster with open-door immigration

I saw an article in the New York Times titled “Migrants Flow, As Do Rumors, In South Texas” (see the article scan following my rant).

I don’t think anyone has mentioned a massive problem with how this is playing out right now.

Since there is “no specific plan to monitor compliance” for those illegally crossing over the border, what is to stop an Al-Qaeda, ISIS or other terrorist agent with intent to harm the US from crossing into the US completely undetected and dispersing into America once they are released with their free “bus ticket to travel where they have relatives in the country”?

Humanitarian care must be provided for those that need it, and the current immigration policy desperately needs streamlining, but there must also be an accounting for every individual who crosses over during this de-facto open-door immigration policy.

Failure to do so is courting a national security disaster.

 

Migrants Flow NYT article
Migrants Flow NYT article

 

EDIT: Corrected ISS to ISIS

Somebody didn’t do their market research [PHOTO]

Whoever decided to try and sell something named KuKui near Mexico has either (a) never done any market research in their life or (b) has a particularly vicious sense of humor.

KuKui photo
KuKui photo

 

For the rest of the world that has no idea what a KuKui is, it’s a very famous folktale monster told to misbehaving kids around Mexico. “You better behave, or the KuKui will get you!”

The closest thing to a KuKui in the US is the “boogeyman”, but saying “you better behave, or the boogeyman will get you” isn’t even close to the kind of terror mentioning a KuKui can bring.

You know, now that I’m thinking about it, maybe I should have bought a bottle. For research purposes, of course.

GM seems to be racing toward something else

So if I understood everything correctly from the article in the 6/12 Wall Street Journal titled “Lawyers Race GM to find black boxes“…

* GM executives ordered their engineers to secretly change a core vehicle component for new vehicles after they discovered its’ critical failure rate, but did not disclose this critical failure rate on existing vehicles to the public or to the NHTSA.

* GM executives are currently ordering their employees and persons in their employ to search and recover evidence (“black boxes”) from multiple mortal accidents, but apparently are not returning this evidence to the accident victims or to the NHTSA.

* GM executives refused to allow the full disclosure of the data content of those “black boxes” involved in mortal accidents to the NHTSA until February of this year.

An organized activity sanctioned by upper management to obscure and withhold evidence? Evidence that could potentially tie the multiple deaths of individuals to the permissive knowledge that upper managers have?

Has GM ever heard of RICO?