Insurance companies are starting to offer discounts if you plug one of their devices, often called a RightTrack or SnapShot, into your car’s ODB2 port.
One of my college buddies asked me about them when his insurance company offered his family a 5% discount to plug these into their cars, and then make them eligible for up to another 25%. Those are compelling numbers. So what are the potential drawbacks?
Continue reading Pros and cons of RightTrack or SnapShot devices
If you’re in the market for a 960 GB SSD but you’ve been waiting for a deal, here’s one that’s been worth waiting for: an A-Data SP550 for $188. It’s remarkable only for the price, but what a price.
Continue reading A 960 GB SSD for $188
The Department 56 product line is rather extensive, but there are items they don’t produce and likely never will. If you want to complete your village with other items, or use Department 56 in other settings, such as a train layout, then scale might matter to you—and “Department 56 scale” is undefined. Here’s how to make sure the things you want to use together will go together, size-wise.
The answer, by Department 56’s own admission, is that it varies. But since I see the question come up again and again, I’m going to tackle it. It varies, but there’s a method to it the madness.
Continue reading Department 56 scale: The definitive guide
It’s a common question: Why were early computers beige? In some ways it seems a curious color choice today.
Due to their tendency to yellow with age, there’s some occasional debate over what color early home computers really were. But, having spent about a decade working with them starting with when they were new, I can tell you that the Commodore 64 was definitely a tan or beige color. It’s not terribly far off from a Sherwin-Williams color that they call Keystone Gray, or a Benjamin Moore color they call Bennington Gray. It’s a dark beige with gray undertones. But the color definitely runs toward tan or brown much more than it runs toward the gray color of, say, an Atari XE or Atari ST computer of the mid-late 1980s.
Early computers from Apple and Atari were similar colors. They weren’t a spot-on match for the color Commodore used, but much closer to that color than to the light beige that became associated with PC clones for a couple of decades before black came into vogue.
I have no insider knowledge but I think I can provide some insight into the design choices.
Continue reading Why were early computers beige?
As I write, I’m installing self-stick vinyl tiles in an old basement as part of a project to modernize a ’70s man cave. It’s possible to run into a few problems when installing vinyl, so I thought I’d run through them, along with the solutions. When vinyl tiles won’t stick, there are ways to prevent and fix the problem.
Continue reading Vinyl tiles won’t stick? What to do.
The most infamous Microsoft patch of all time, in security circles at least, is MS08-067. As the name suggests, it was the 67th security update that Microsoft released in 2008. Less obviously, it fixed a huge problem in a file called netapi32.dll. Of course, 2008 was a long time ago in computing circles, but not far enough. I still hear stories about production servers that are missing MS08-067.
Last week, Microsoft took a look back at MS08-067, sharing some of its own war stories, including how they uncovered the vulnerability, developed a fix, and deployed it quickly. It’s unclear who besides Microsoft knew about the problem at the time, but one must assume others were aware of it and using it. They certainly were after the fall of 2008.
Continue reading Microsoft looks back at MS08-067
I got an innocent question last week. We’d been scanning an AIX server with Nexpose, a vulnerability scanner made by Rapid7, and ran into some issues. The system owner then asked a question: The server is behind a firewall and has no direct connection to the Internet and no data itself, it’s just a front-end to two other servers. Is there any reason to scan a server like that?
In my sysadmin days, I asked a similar question. Nobody could give me an answer that was any better than “because reasons.” So I’ll answer the question and give the reasons.
Continue reading Yes, we need to run vulnerability scans inside the firewall
Here’s a good question I heard the other day: What’s the difference between a CPU and cores, or the difference between the number of CPUs and the number of cores in a system?
It’s easier than it sounds. As far as the operating system is concerned, there is no difference, but I’ll explain why.
Continue reading The difference between a CPU and cores
New details emerged on the Home Depot attack that left 56 million consumers with compromised credit cards. The interesting thing in the new details is that it could have been much worse, but maybe not for reasons immediately obvious.
Continue reading Retracing the Home Depot attackers’ steps
Last week on Jan. 16, KSDK-TV caused Kirkwood High School to go on lockdown as part of a news story.
As a security professional, a journalist, a St. Louisan, and a parent, I have more than one stake in this. And an opinion. KSDK has no leg to stand on. Continue reading KSDK-TV was wrong to test Kirkwood High School’s security