Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for July 20th, 2008

Data safety

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I’ve several times pointed out that USB sticks, though extremely useful for carrying lots of data in your pocket, are subject to loss: they’re small and can slip out of one’s pocket without being noticed. But of course you can relax if you ever do lose yours because yours is well encrypted. Right?

MakeUseOf has an excellent instructional review by Mark O’Neill of TrueCrypt 6.0, which you can install on your USB stick to create an “encrypted area.” Well worth reading. It begins:

Last year I wrote an article on the benefits of encrypting your PC folders with Truecrypt and I also briefly touched on being able to encrypt your USB stick with Truecrypt.   Well, the other day I received a nice new 2GB USB stick as a freebie and so I decided to install John Haller’s Portable Apps on it. But first I headed on over to the Truecrypt website to install the newly updated 6.0 encryption program.

Encryption is absolutely essential, especially if you’re the kind of person that carries their USB stick around as if it’s your car keys or your lipstick. USB sticks are so small that they are easily lost and they are also easily stolen. Just think of all the information that gets stored on one of these things. The British Ministry of Defence has lost 131 of them since 2004! A friend of mine constantly drops his in the street when he walks his dog and his dog keeps walking back to pick it up! So it definitely pays to take the time and have encryption.

Also, look at it this way. If someone found your USB stick and it was unencrypted, they would have access to your Firefox browser (with access to your private bookmarks, including online banking), your private files, your portable FTP program (with the settings to your website), passwords, emails, IM contacts and much more. If the person was honest, it might not be so bad, but if the person wasn’t honest… well, then it could be catastrophic for you. Identity theft would only be the start of your problems.

The only problem with using Truecrypt for your encryption though is that you need to have administrator privileges on the computer in which you’re plugging your encrypted USB stick into.   So this would be no good for internet cafes for example. This would only be good if you were travelling between multiple trusted personal and work computers and you wanted insurance against theft or loss while travelling around.

OK, let’s get insured.

Step One

Written by LeisureGuy

20 July 2008 at 4:48 pm

Posted in Daily life, Software

Per capita carbon footprint by state

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Best: Vermont. Worst: Wyoming. (Cheney’s from Wyoming, so it’s perhaps natural.) In order of “greenness”, California is #5, not too shabby, but New York is #3, even better. But California beats Oregon (#6) and Washington (#8). Maryland just misses being in the best 10: #11.

I just had a thought: a Federal carbon tax, levied on citizens of states on a sliding scale based on the state’s per capita carbon footprint: dirtiest states taxed at the highest rates. I bet a lot of states would quickly clean up their act if that went into effect. The money collected could be used to support projects and efforts that reduce the carbon footprints.

Full graph and more facts here. Note that the chart is fully interactive: you can change the sort order, sort on different columns, etc. Interesting: in playing around I see that California’s carbon footprint overall (not per capita, but in absolute terms) is second worst, with only Texas being worse.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 July 2008 at 4:20 pm

Astounding sand sculptures

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Take a look. On the second page, among other things, you find this:

Written by LeisureGuy

20 July 2008 at 4:10 pm

Posted in Art, Daily life

Disappearing public opinion

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Glenn Greenwald has an interesting column on how public opinion, even when represented by substantial majorities, is ignored by the news media when the opinion fails to match the constructed and agreed-upon narrative imposed on the facts. Well worth reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 July 2008 at 11:51 am

Krugman on national healthcare

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From his blog:

A thought after reading Tyler Cowen’s latest: the issue of health care economics seems to make libertarians act like robots on bad science-fiction TV shows. You know, the ones that, faced with information that doesn’t fit with the assumptions in their programming, say “Does not compute! Does not compute!” and collapse.

The basic facts on health care are clear: government-run insurance is more efficient than private insurance; more generally, the United States, with the most privatized health care in the advanced world, has a wildly inefficient system that costs far more than anyone else’s, yet delivers no better and arguably worse medical care than European systems.

But all of this runs so counter to libertarian assumptions about the superiority of individual choice and market mechanisms that they just can’t take it on board. So we have bald assertions that Europeans receive much less care than Americans, even though the data clearly show that it just ain’t so. And we have assertions that mean-testing Medicare is the answer to our problems.

I could say a lot more about this, but maybe the key point is this: we don’t have a Medicare crisis, we have a health care crisis. Private insurance is collapsing as we speak. Means-testing Medicare, aside from many other problems, would just push older Americans into a failing private system — a system that, by the way, has never worked for the elderly, for whom adverse selection issues are especially acute.

If we’re serious about controlling Medicare costs, Peter Orszag and his staff at CBO have had a lot to say about this. Means-testing isn’t the answer; setting priorities for care is.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 July 2008 at 10:01 am

Insurance-company rules

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Written by LeisureGuy

20 July 2008 at 9:57 am

Posted in Business, Daily life

Donna Edwards on speaking out

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David Neiwert in Firedoglake quotes from Donna Edwards’s speech at Netroots Nation. Donna Edwards:

I was an early Barack Obama supporter and I’m really proud of that. But it doesn’t mean that the presidential candidate that we have, the nominee that we have to stand behind now, that we have to be silent when that nominee is not saying the things that need to be said to our community, and doing what we need them to do for the country. So that’s an important lesson.

And that’s an important lesson. And it’s a lesson that I learned, actually, when Bill Clinton became president. Because when Bill Clinton became president, many of us on the left, liberals and progressives, became very silent. And that was a mistake, because that mistake brought us some policies that were really not so great. And so we really can’t make that same mistake with President Barack Obama.

But we need to be on the job today to make sure that he, and not John McCain, is elected as president of the United States. And don’t be fooled about that.

… Finally, I want to share with you that not on any day, by any stretch of the imagination, do I believe that the United States Government should be listening to my phone calls. And if they do, and if they decide they want to listen to my phone calls, then they need to go to a real court and get a warrant.

And I want to tell you that just temporarily we lost that fight. But it’s only temporary. Because it’s going to come back. Because there is no way — it’s about the American public being smarter than the politicians in Washington.

She understands what many cannot grasp: that you can want to elect someone and still criticize his (or her) positions on some issues.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 July 2008 at 9:50 am

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