Lighting is the new Power Suit – Home Lighting for Zoom Conference Calls

When suddenly we are all on video chat much more than ever before, lighting becomes a big deal. When meeting with the boss or a client you typically want to look your best, which in the past meant wearing your “power suit” – the clothes you felt made you look your best!

In the age of Agile Meetings daily and constant Zoom meetings, you are probably “seeing” clients and your boss more than ever! So you want to look your best. The secret is pretty simple: lighting. And it doesn’t have to be expensive.

I’m no model, but for me, this is the basic goal.

Without any lighting hacks, I look like this (taken same day, same time, just without the bouncing light.

Would you want to work with this guy? He looks brooding!?
It’s just the harsh direct light from the window and the low quality camera on the laptop.

This is the concept of what we are trying to achieve. A *cheap* studio lighting setup using as many existing props as we can. Awareness of your lighting and placing a book in the coffee shop window to reflect light up for those early video conference in SOMA can make all of the difference. For now, let’s just look at your home “work spot”. This is the goal along with a few obstacles.

TOP VIEW: Our lighting goal to achieve decent video lighting in the age of COVID19 and Zoom.

For me, this is what I had to start out with. And how I managed to put together a solution using just one “flood light” reflecting off the ceiling and other readily available lighting sources, and hiding all of the actual junk that lives in my workshop/office/cave. And I have most of it out of frame even in this photo – suffice it to say I need to clean the place.

I’m not saying either photo is great, but the top photo is definitely the winner out of the two. Especially when you consider that the screen capture was taken in my workshop/office chaos, I don’t think this is a bad, non-cluttered result.

Live result – white balanced, somewhat even lighting, and definitely more reflective of the fact that I was truly listening to someone speak. The image more closely reflects the respect I was giving, and that the speaker, deserved.

While mine is attached to a studio tripod, it could just as easily be attached to the wall or a chair, whatever, as long as you can point it UP so it bounces off the ceiling and walls.

Can lighting for $8 bucks with a clamp. FLOOD light pointed up.

So there is your “can” light with the clip and the flood reflector. Now to bounce a light off of the ceiling. I’d recommend LED first and foremost. Energy efficient and MUCH COOLER. Lighting in a studio can get very hot. You want the equivalent of at least 75 watts to 100 watts. Plus most LED is much cooler and most are frosted and that is part of the goal, diffused softer lighting.

If the can light is 10 bucks, say the LED flood light is 10 bucks, you have gone from zero to being an active participant in the ZOOM meetings!

It’s a power suit. If you think lighting isn’t complementing your appearance, talk to a photographer because it just means the lighting isn’t set up properly. Or google it. But I promise you don’t need a $1000 ring light or something.

Bonus: minor details you might have missed.

  1. FILL the frame. The exception is when more than one person is on one camera. But generally “filling he frame” is the right way to go given the small size of the image in a grid display for everyone else.
  2. Keep the background simple. It can distract people and also slows down the transmission rate.
  3. Have a good “fall back photo” for those long meetings when you do need to go grab a glass of water. Just don’t ever let a green circle with your initials show up in your place. It’s unprofessional and tells everyone you don’t care AT ALL.
  4. On my chair, I use an old jacket bunched up to give me lumbar support so I sit up straight.
  5. It’s OK to get two lights and use one as a fill on one side, just use a lower power light (100 watt on the right, maybe 40 watt on the left. Although in that case I’d use a 120 watt bulb and a better reflector to save energy and keep the room cooler.
  6. Everyone’s head will reflect light. It’s OK to use makeup, even for you guys, depending on the importance of the call. I also sometimes use a napkin or a tissue over the light (ONLY LED LIGHTS TO AVOID FIRES!) But ya, just a little diffusion. Bring the light up closer and then diffuse it more with a white cloth/tissue/paper/something. Or physically move the light back and let the distance diffuse it.

Pro tip: Drink warm water. Cold water can give you frog throat. And use a good quality microphone. Don’t get a $10 headset at walgreens. Spend the money on a good headset or your voice will sound tiny and nobody can hear you.

Happy Zooming!

Sunset Lightshow 4/19 & 4/20/20

The only bummer for us, Americans that is, about the date written as 4/20/2020, is that for the Europeans it’s 20/4/2020. It isn’t quite a palindrome, but it’s cool. Score 1 for European date format!

4/20/20 Sunset

Yesterday’s sunset didn’t have the thunderheads dissipating in the distance, but it was still cool.

These sunset photos from the roof of the garage reminds me of being trapped after Hurricane Harvey almost three years ago now. Same garage roof. Same feeling, same reality, same sense of being trapped.

Meanwhile, in never never land, we continued to march towards some depressing milestones today.

Soon, more Americans will have died in the first six months of 2020 from the Coronavirus, over 40k American souls to date and counting, and we will soon surpass those who died in the Vietnam war (58k.)

We’re not there yet, but that’s the course we are on. And our leaders continue to seemingly not grasp the situation.

From cnn: https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/20/politics/trump-coronavirus-all-about-him/index.html

Yet Trump insisted after his trawl for personal credit: “It’s not about me. Nothing is about me.”

This came on the day when US deaths from the pandemic topped 40,000 and raced upwards, though Trump claimed he had saved a million lives through his leadership — despite taking several months to recognize the magnitude of the unfolding disaster.

For perspective, my Father fought in Vietnam. He served his country. He lost friends to combat and more were MIA.

Vietnam Memorial DC
58,220

I ask you, what will the Covid-19 memorial look like?

COVID19 – Until We Expand Testing it Will Not Be Solved

When Roses Die Because They’re Already Cut

From the article by a Canadian in Florida returning to Canada by car. She left out of concern that Floridians were ignoring the Coronavirus Pandemic. (I will try to track down the link and update.)

Canadians are divided, politically and geographically, but compared with our neighbours, our divisions are trifling. … There are disagreements, as is proper in a democracy, about the best course to take, but the virus (in Canada) has not been turned into a political weapon, as it has in the United States, where attitudes about the illness sharply divergeon partisan lines.

With catastrophic leadership and a lack of social solidarity, the United States looks like it is going to get hit hard, which is tragic, because it has the resources to stop the virus in its tracks. What it doesn’t have is the leadership, the will, the social solidarity, to get equipment to health-care workers and convince everyone to stay home for a few weeks.

I am afraid that partisan division, fuelled by a narcissistic, attention-seeking president, is going to cost the Americans dearly.

It reminds me of this quote from President Bush:

“The difficulty of the task is no excuse for avoiding it,” George W. Bush

And right or wrong is for history to judge, usually. W did not hide from facts. I say this because as a society we need less of this imagery.

ReadyHarris.org

And more of this:

A Happy Squirrel
Beautiful Sunsets, Even if Taken From Quarantine

We need a lot more of positives images, but only those based on facts. If you, as a leader, give one iota about who genuflected to you for doing your job, then you may have picked the wrong job.

Facts: Sadly, since this last Thursday, (today being Sunday, March 29, 2020), deaths from COVID19 went from 1,000 to over 2,000 on Saturday – and a current count of 2,348.

The above image shows the current reality in the United States as of March 29, 2020 at approximately 1 PM EST.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/ng-interactive/2020/mar/29/coronavirus-map-of-the-us-latest-cases-state-by-state

Goldman Sachs survey: less than 50% of US SMBs to survive 3 months of lockdown

From the article: https://apple.news/AssYy_n2OSzWnbB7FdnC7QA

“There are nearly 30.7 million small businesses in the U.S., employing around 47.3% of the private workforce, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

“Approximately 51% of the business owners surveyed by Goldman reported that they can “only be able to continue to operate for 0-3 months,” according to Goldman.

“The results highlight the severe and sudden impact COVID-19 is having on the economy, which is expected to contract and hemorrhage jobs in the coming weeks amid widespread public lockdowns.

A third of Coronavirus patients admitted to ICU – Lancet Medical Journal – Jan 2020

A familiar cluster of pneumonia associated with coronavirus
progression of the Coronavirus in a patient over time
This is the progression of the Coronavirus in a patient over time. This is why we quarantine.
https://www.thelancet.com/action/showPdf?pii=S0140-6736%2820%2930183-5

I’m stunned by this: “Lancet, the British medical journal, published an article in January, based on studying a small group of patients, which found that a third of people (infected with the coronavirus) had to be admitted to intensive care units.”

The reason that stuns me is it is from January and it is now March. We lost significant time in responding to an obvious issue of a lack of Ventilators and ICU beds are vastly insignificant for that level of infection.

That quote on Covid-19 is from today’s NEW York Times article March 20, 2020 titled “Behind the Virus Report That Jarred the U.S. and the U.K. to Action”

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/17/world/europe/coronavirus-imperial-college-johnson.html

Statistics from the Imperial College of London predicts what an uncontrolled spread would mean. This data is from the WSJ article (this will NOT happen, this shows what COULD have happened without non-medical intervention.)

  • 510,000 deaths in Britain
  • 2.2 million deaths in the United States

I repeat – the ABOVE predictions will NOT happen because of non-medical intervention. It does represent what could have happened. And the final numbers, while less than the above, will be greater than they needed to be.

Back to the WSJ article:

The (now debunked) theory (ignoring coronavirus) is that this would build up so-called “herd immunity,” so that the public would be more resistant in the face of a second wave of infections next winter.

Dr. Ferguson has been candid that the report reached new conclusions because of the latest data from Italy, which has seen a spiraling rate of infections, swamping hospitals and forcing doctors to make agonizing decisions about who to treat.

My opinion: Let me translate the phrase “build up ‘herd immunity’” – because I went to Texas A&M with a BS in POLS and my wife is an Agricultural Science major as well. “Herd Immunity” basically means building up immunity, in the absence of a vaccine, “culling of the herd” or “survival of the fittest” or “the weak or those predisposed to the virus will die.” – Ed

And….

“Based on our estimates and other teams’, there’s really no option but follow in China’s footsteps and suppress.”

My opinion: Let me interject here again. If the public had known that up to 1/3 of all patients with the coronavirus needed treatment in an ICU with ventilators, I’m going to guess we wouldn’t be where we are now. Back to the article. – Ed

…the burden on hospitals was clear as far back as the original outbreak in Wuhan, China. Lancet, the British medical journal, published an article in January, based on studying a small group of patients, which found that a third of people had to be admitted to intensive care units.

I can’t help but feel angry that it has taken almost two months for politicians and even ‘experts’ to understand the scale of the danger from SARS-CoV-2,” said Richard Horton, the editor-in-chief of Lancet, on Twitter. “Those dangers were clear from the very beginning.”

(PDF on Coronavirus from Lancet, search for more.)

My Opinion: My understanding from reading the above article, is that the Lancet feels their advice was ignored for two months and our leadership didn’t take it seriously, causing greater pain. I get that.

This is what your lungs look like with the Coronavirus (Covid-19)

COVID-19 Lung Scans Through the Treatment Process
https://www.thelancet.com/action/showPdf?pii=S0140-6736%2820%2930183-5

Like all Global Citizens, I believe we are in an unprecedented time. I hope and pray the miracle of humanity can solve this pandemic as soon as possible.

I’ll do my part as best I can. – Ed

Coronavirus DIY Facemask Test

diy protective mask for coronovirus

In Houston the Coronavirus (COVID-19) response has been quite aggressive. And as the third largest metro area in the US, it should be. I get it. Mostly we are quarantined in place except for grocery store runs and emergency needs. (And we can walk the dog, but that’s about it.)

The paper section in the Walgreens across the street looks like this

Walgreens paper goods in Houston

This led to research on what we could do and turned up two interesting pieces of knowledge about the coronavirus.

A) How long is the coronavirus contagious or viable by surface. As in how long can it be there and still infect you?

  1. plastic = 3 days
  2. Stainless Steel = 3 days
  3. Cardboard = 1 day
  4. Copper = 4 hours
  5. Airborne = 3 hours

They don’t mention wood, which maybe varies by paint, varnish, etc.

Copper is the winner. Cardboard three times better than stainless steel is bizarre as well.

Source: https://apple.news/ATWmOdE4STTmvJCBdURGDTQ

Next up, if you can’t get a mask for when you do go out, how do other materials compare to a medical mask?

Clean vacuum cleaner bags were a close second to surgical masks, but in the end they conclude you can barely breath through them so use two cotton “tea towels.”

Two Cotton Tea Towels are best after a real mask.

Thus began an insomnia driven test to try and create a coronavirus diy mask from a tea towel with no power tools. It started like this:

The real mask before photo

Then the build process using paper as my makeshift mold.

My materials.

The Ghirardelli chocolate and wine are a tip of the hat to my friends in San Francisco on complete lockdown. Those aren’t technically necessary to make the DIY coronavirus mask, although they do help.

Gave myself extra room
Rough initial stencil
Evolution of mask into 3D space with tale

In the above photo the template is overlapping and kind of mushed into the real mask so I could get an idea of the shape of the masks. They are not circular because your face isn’t a flat circle either.

Initial stencil with original mask on top for comparison
Applied to the fabric, then used the fabric to make the second layer via singer iron-on stick tape. You could use pins

Then a whole bunch of adjustments and cuts happened at the fabric level during hand sewing. The SINGER iron stick is a temporary way to hold fabric together, but definitely not strong enough to be a permanent join. But it’ll hold it together long enough for you to stitch it up.

Rough cut comparison of the diy coronavirus mask and the original.

The straps on my version are the edges of the towel because I didn’t have any elastic bands that long, and if people in countries with limited supplies available, the straps seemed more realistic.

A truly rustic looking diy coronavirus mask

It’s hard to tell in the photo above but between the two layers there is a small wire bent to the approximate shape of the bridge of my nose just like the more flexible one that comes on the real masks.

And the final result

My advice? Buy it if you can.

It looks amateurish, I look ridiculous, but it’s waaaaay better than taking the BARTT in SF and wondering if the person coughing is giving you an infection.

Update: I received some questions about what I used for the metal “nose bridge” so I’m adding further details.

For me (easier way below) I go by autozone at the end of a rainy day and pull the broken / discarded windshield wiper blades. If you rip them apart there are two thin, but very sturdy, pieces of metal attached to the rubber part. (they make great tension wrenches.) mine looks like this when sewn in place in between the two layers of the cotton kitchen towel.

DIY Coronavirus Face Mask Nose Bridge

Easier alternative: bend paperclips like this:

For Comparison, Paper Clips vs. Scraps from Wipers
Bend the paper lips twice. This is step 1, then twist.
Overlay the paperclip nose bridge to the length you want
Wrap paperclips in tape to avoid sharp edges.
Wrap them in tape and cut off excess tape
Bend to shape. Actually much easier than my original

Pro tip: when I do a DIY project like this I usually hand sew them using dental floss. Yes “Dental Floss” because it’s always around and stronger than most threads.

hunting botnet attacks and reporting to the host

Cyber Alert Dashboard Example

I like to demystify things for people who aren’t completely tech savvy, hopefully using words that are human readable, although anything having to do with information security (infosec) is going to read a bit geeky. To that end, this is an attempt at a human readable example of the tracking down of an ip address that was attacking our network today. Let’s start with THE FACT that your network admin CAN give you visual open source tools. This is important if you want accountability and awareness. Like this:

Most networks (hopefully) have endpoints that include firewalls and extensive logging And frequently the logs are redundant for verification purposes. Usually the virewalls using tools like OSSEC to help decipher what is going on. We run multiple tools for network monitoring, but my “go to” is ElasticStack (also called an ELK stack) because the whole team can visualize things in Kibana and bring it to our attention if we happen to take 5 minutes off for lunch.

Looking at the wazuh plugin tab in Kibana I noticed an increase in rule id : 31303 which is a Critical NGINX error.

The log file includes this snippet:

Graph of OSSEC Network Security Alerts Over Time
A visual graph from OSSEC visualized by an ElasticStack

When we drill down into the logs in Kibana it parses things out to be a little easier to read. This matters because we need the detail to report the bad ip address.

FROM THE LOGS: SSL_do_handshake() failed (SSL: error:1417D18C:SSL routines:tls_process_client_hello:version too low) while SSL handshaking

So who is the bad guy? Who owns this IP address? Arin.net answers that for us either with the owner or by pointing you to a different registrar that can tell you the owner. In my situation is was a US based IP address 23.100.232.233

Straight up, most of us in InfoSec actually prefer using the command line because we can filter the data faster that way. If you can't "see" it in a report in my experience it rarely happens. Still, a typical command would be something like this if I wanted to help out my SEO manager prioritize which 404 pages to fix first:
grep '404' /log/file/path/nginx/access.log | sed 's/, /,/g' | awk {'print $7'} | sort | uniq -c | sort -n -r | head -100

Now back to our story of finding the botnet hitting our endpoints. Mr. 23.100.232.233

We go to arin.net. The ARIN URL is: https://search.arin.net/rdap/?query=23.100.232.233 which shows the owner and further delegates.

It goes on to show that the owner is Microsoft.

Source Registry: ARIN
Kind: Org
Full Name: Microsoft Corporation
Handle:
MSFT
Address: One Microsoft Way Redmond WA 98052 United States


And it continues:
To report suspected security issues specific to traffic emanating from Microsoft online services, including the distribution of malicious content or other illicit or illegal material through a Microsoft online service, please submit reports to:* https://cert.microsoft.com.

Perfect! They are telling us exactly how to report the problem to Microsoft. Now we want to be a bit more helpful so let’s try to figure out what it is in more detail. There are many tools, just google “ip address reputation” and you will get something.

We have the data from the logs so let’s try to find out what the attack is. Google for other options, but I picked this one today:

https://www.abuseat.org/lookup.cgi?ip=23.100.232.233

RESULTS OF LOOKUP
23.100.232.233 is listed
This IP address was detected and listed 4146 times in the past 28 days, and 137 times in the past 24 hours. The most recent detection was at Fri May 31 17:35:00 2019 UTC +/- 5 minutes
This IP is infected (or NATting for a computer that is infected) with an botnet that is emitting email spam. The infection is probably necurs.

necurs is also known as: WinNT/Necurs.A, Mal/Necurs-A (Sophos), RTKT_NECURS.SMA (Trend Micro), Trojan.Hosts.5268 (Dr.Web), Trojan.Win32.Genome.aglua (Kaspersky), Trojan.WinNT.Necurs (Ikarus), Win32/SpamTool.Tedroo.AS (ESET)... etc...

Microsoft told us exactly how to report it, so we can go to: https://cert.microsoft.com and enter all of our data with confidence. And they are far more likely to take action having the exact data, logs, and type of attack in detail.

For those of us managing large and numerous websites that are constantly under attack, we have seen a HUGE increase in attacks over the last 10 years.

Y’all, we really are in a cyberware, and while the Navy gets Ships, the Airforce gets Planes, The Army gets the tools they need. But in the US, most of the cyber warfare defense is literally left up to private companies and private individuals who are not part of any organized force nor provided assets to fight the war. Kind of scary, huh?

Stock Market Crash March 9, 2020 Explained

Motley Fool has a balanced explanation of the Coronavirus related stock market crash yesterday. We’re back into Bear territory.

https://www.fool.com/investing/2020/03/10/stock-market-crash-2020-everything-you-need-to-kno.aspx

Motley Fool Write up on the Bear Market

While cases of the coronavirus are dropping in China, it is from rather draconian methods of quarantines and shutting down entire cities. Containment seems to be the only option right now.

2020 coronavirus cases in China

The CoronaCrash (too soon?) is imho just starting. You can’t lock down an entire country like Italy has, major portions of China, and not expect economic fallout. And it’s here now.

CoronaVirus – Markets Move on Emotion not Fundamentals

Now we see fears and the reality of coronavirus hitting the markets hard.

coronavirus

I’ve said it before, so this is repetition, but worth repeating. Stock markets move on emotion much more than the fundamentals. Companies are overvalued because there are more people with more money in pensions and the money has to go somewhere.

Stock Market Movement with Coronavirus Last two weeks

Source: https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/markets

I also highly recommend this informative thread on twitter regarding research on coronavirus so we can all hopefully keep it in perspective. It’s linked with more detail on my linkedin at https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6641792800314675200/

Your 2nd Amendment Rights Are About to be Taken Away by the Senate

This is a crosspost with editorial commentary (by me) from https://blog.tendenci.com/mlk-day-2020-read-the-docs/ . I wrote that post, and given this is my personal blog I’ll add a bit more of my opinion on the topics of today, **

Disclaimer: I’m a programmer and an established businessman with a long history of accomplishments and contributions to the global community. But mostly to America as that is where I am a proud citizen. I’m an independent because I grew up on Army bases throughout the world and in the Military (I have *not* served, my parents and brothers have), we were taught to NOT be partisan. TAMU reinforced that. It forces you to THINK. I’m not allowed to be a sheep to any cult on either side. And because I LOVE my country, that’s how I roll. Deal with it or stop reading. For reference, eschipul on linkedin

Let’s start with this. The US Senate is about to take away your Second Amendment rights to bear arms. Yes, read that again. We are going to lose our right to bear arms. Guaranteed.

Why? Because we can’t just pick and choose which parts of the Constitution we want to follow. Logically, if you do that, when a new “King” takes over, they will strike through the articles and amendments that THEY don’t like.

Yes, the “conservative” party (a misnomer as neither party is conservative or liberal if you actually read their party planks) is missing the fact that if you ignore the part of the Constitution at the request of one branch of the government, then ALL of the constitution is subject to dismissal by future Executive Branch leaders.

If this becomes true, which we all hopefully pray it doesn’t, we will have become either a monarchy, a dictatorship, or an autocracy. (Think Cuba under Castro.)

The Title of Nobility Clause is a provision in Article ISection 9, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution,[1] that prohibits the federal government from granting titles of nobility, and restricts members of the government from receiving giftsemoluments, offices or titles from foreign states and monarchies without the consent of the United States Congress. Also known as the Emoluments Clause, it was designed to shield the federal officeholders of the United States against so-called “corrupting foreign influences.” The clause is reinforced by the corresponding prohibition on state titles of nobility in Article I, Section 10, and more generally by the Republican Guarantee Clause in Article IV, Section 4.[2]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Title_of_Nobility_Clause#Presidential

Let’s start with “Freedom of speech.” That means if I start a company, and grow a following in social media or whatever, I can express my opinion, right? So this is me saying that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. personified the leadership I expect of my elected officials. And he wasn’t elected – he was a LEADER.

Was MLK a perfect man? Of course not. But daaaaaammmnnn, he was patriotic. He understood that strong resistance to social injustice is STRONGER when it is done PEACEFULLY. That is strength.

Dr. King’s actions, peaceful and strong, are what makes America great. Not the valuation of the top 1%’s investments.

The American experiment is about PEOPLE. You, me, all of us. Together. As RFK stated.

Yes, obviously we must stand with a strong military behind a voice of reason. But that amazing power requires rational leadership. And real power comes from truth. To find truth, in a country ruled by LAW, you can’t ignore subpoenas. The Mafia does that.

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses a crowd from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial where he delivered his famous, “I Have a Dream,” speech during the Aug. 28, 1963, march on Washington, D.C.

On this day, on Martin Luther King Jr. day 2020, we encourage everyone to read Dr. King’s speech.

Don’t read the news “about” it. Read the docs! https://www.archives.gov/files/press/exhibits/dream-speech.pdf

That is the end of the post on blog.tendenci.com, the company blog. It also ran as the masthead on https://www.tendenci.com yesterday and was posted to all of our social media accounts.

As a true patriot and believer in the American dream, I must speak out as I see bipartisanship and an American public accepting the replacement of the K-street swamp be replaced by an even more corrupt corporate swamp of national intrigue. I’m disappointed in us.

What do I ask of you? I have no authority or ability to ask anything of you, except rationality.

Understand this: if the Senate ignores the facts, refuses to hear the facts, refuses to read the documents, not only will you lose your right to bear arms, but the very fabric of our country will be shredded and we will truly be subject to tyranny of the majority.

And being raised Catholic, people who were also persecuted in the global tragedy of WWII, American “dough-boys” who literally saved the world, will have succeeded only briefly. Only to see our rights thrown out the window by a reality TV personality.

In closing: to those who think I am “flip flopping” – I am not. The data has changed. Only a fool doesn’t change their views when their data changes. I don’t suffer fools. Nor should you. We will not only lose lose our 2nd Amendment right to bear arms, but the supposedly conservative party will have distorted the constitution to make all rights “questionable.”

** The great fool is he in whom we cannot tell which is the conscious and which the unconscious humour; we laugh with him and laugh at him at the same time.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suffer_fools_gladly

Don’t Start Now – Dua Lipa

American Exceptionalism is Inclusive, not Isolationist. Dua Lipa Speaks Strongly albeit on a different topic, but they apply.

Dua Lipa – Don’t Start Now. Strong leaders apologize when they make mistakes, because they are strong. I hope to see more strength in our leadership in the US soon.

SOMA Robotics – Security Robots to Save Lives

Let me tell you a story Ags. One about designing security robot security systems to help prevent, or at least mitigate, mass shooter situations. The story of SOMA Robotics – Security Robots to Help Defend the Public using Non-Lethal methods.

I don’t think there are any “triggers” in here, but I recognize it is a sensitive topic so please be aware. Our goal was to use non-lethal means to prevent, or at least mitigate the impact of mass shootings on soft targets. So we invented a security system that would use AI and ML to do just that.

SOMA Robotics Security Robots
Startup SOMA Robotics to build security robots – rendering by Leane Luce, TheFashionRobot!

In the beginning, we were all aware of shootings at “soft targets.” But we got desensitized. Then in June of 2016 I was talking to a relative who knew people who IN the Pulse Nightclub in 2016. Although our friends were unhurt, it made the issue more personal to me. Still I felt helpless.

This blog post is the beginning of the SOMA Robotics story, which while eventually we did not prevail, we do believe in the future for non-lethal security robots to help the innocent. More to follow. But let’s start with an image of the two inventors who originally came up with the concept at DefCon in Las Vegas.

Broden Schipul and Ed Schipul Building Robots
SOMA Robotics ROS security robot proptotype 2 during testing

Devon Spier – un-Praying post

Words from a wise poet, Devon Spier, that resonated with me today. From the post:

By ‘un-Praying’ – letting our bodies, minds and souls exist just as they are, we free all the stories we have long buried deep, dropping all pretense to make our entire existence the instrument of greatest hopes and our desires.

And when we move from unearthing what is communally unacknowledged to acting in ways that are spiritually life-giving, just and necessary, the progression of our spirituality will lead to the repair of humankind.

And so, our task is to become human piyyutim (liturgical prayers); to make our lives the liturgy that answers the call of a moral universe. For as much as the Torah reflects our ancestors, the Torah is bittersweetly and substantively, us.

– Devon Spier https://devon-spier.com/the-spiritual-practice-of-un-praying/

Why I stumbled onto her writings today, I don’t know. But this phrase from her post really resonates

“…. to make our lives the liturgy that answers the call of a moral universe.”

It is a powerful statement. It assumes a “moral universe.” Most of us assume moral means something akin to “kind, fair and just.” Yet our actions betray this definition.

Moral means to do what is “right.” If you are the CEO of Disney then “right” means increasing shareholder value. But “moral” and “right” stops when it comes to requiring fact checking its subsidiary Fox News.

These questions are beyond me, but I remain a student of life and they force me to think. I believe it is “right” to question. I believe it is “right” for poets to make us question what that means.

You can follow Devon at

https://devon-spier.com/

https://twitter.com/devon_spier

The Cyberwar is Real – and We Have Outsourced It

This is what a real time DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack looks like.

https://www.digitalattackmap.com/#anim=1&color=0&country=ALL&list=0&time=18071&view=map

This is what the security alerts on the sites we manage and defend for associations looks like.

The Cyber War is real.

In early American history the war on shipping was real and we formed a Navy. And trained, equipped, and provided resources for them.

After airplanes were invented we formed an Air Force, and trained equipped and provided resources for them.

We’ve always trained and equipped and provided resources for the Army, etc…

Yet when it comes to cyber warfare, we let the govt code get into the wild, don’t tell software companies about zero-day exploits, and mostly leave it to the private sector to secure our country.

Ok, yes there are numerous divisions and government agencies working cyber. They are primarily charged with defending government agencies and assets.

Yet the Russian Influence Campaign started by them infiltrating an association and using the association as a platform to influence a political party.

Associations underestimate themselves and don’t understand they are ground zero. They still are ground zero.

“Here’s to the Crazy Ones. Those who defend us day and night against cyberwar only out of a sense of Patriotism”.

From 2018: https://www.zdnet.com/article/america-the-indispensable-nation-for-cybersecurity-madeleine-albright/

No Pattern in Network Security Alerts? You tell me.

POTS phone

Given my blog is being constantly attacked and throwing alerts to my monitoring system, I just thought I’d put this visual out there in case anyone thought it was “fake” news.

Yes, yes, I have backups and backups of backups and backups of backups of backups offline, etc…. Plus redundant logging with IAM “write / not read” permissions, encrypted and pushed to accounts I don’t even have access to.

Recent security alerts on my blog (all blocked, but recorded) for your viewing pleasure.

Note the security legend on the lower right.

And yes I am omitting the time-frame and cropped out other specifics because that is common sense. But you get the point.

This is a continuous attack. And this is how brazen people become when you don’t defend yourself. We need to defend ourselves.

This is a a hassle. And not a good use of American minds, or anyone’s for that matter.

Trickle down economics might not work, but trickle down inventions sure as hell do (Edison? Tesla? Einstein? The kid next door? What could she be inventing if not being distracted bs?)

Sarah Kendzior on American Propaganda

Quote:

FC: A lot of people were really blindsided by the level of misinformation on social media in 2016 and the scope of the campaign. I hope that people are at least a little more skeptical now, a little more ready for what they might see leading up to 2020.

SK: I think now we’re a little more savvy as Americans, about how we deal with this and how to spot bad actors, but not as much as we should. There are other countries like Estonia, for example, that have been dealing with this for a long time, and they’re much better on cybersecurity, better at educating the public about propaganda. When I went to Germany shortly after the [2016] election, I was speaking with college students. You know, they have a very good understanding of this propaganda because they know their own country’s history, and they know how you can get lured down this slope. And I’m not saying either of these countries is perfect and that everybody had amazing grasp of it. But at least it’s emphasized that this is a civic problem. This is something we have to actively get on top of and be proactive about in order to solve it—in the U.S. it took us forever to even admit that these troll and bot networks were there.

Sarah Kendzior

Source: https://apple.news/Axk6woAa7QDOd349IAiudwA

Smart

“What prison program can turn a 50 percent recidivism rate into a 4 percent rate? That would be college courses for people behind bars, an underfunded and politically unpopular move in American politics. PBS’s four-part documentary this week, College Behind Bars, persuasively makes a case for corrections departments to save money by expanding this opportunity. What’s more corrective than learning? (Washington Post)”

Source: https://apple.news/AUra5bAscQA6-NrlV08w6-A

Cryptocurrency – What it Means for Central Banks, Companies and Associations – Presentation for LACCNYC

Cryptocurrency Global Impact

We all know what cyrpto currency assets are at this point, but to correlate current events with the role of International Central Banks and International Trade is indeed complex. This presentation was for the Luxembourg American Chamber of Commerce in New York City. It does assume a baseline understanding of international finance and the role of Central Banks, Securities and International Trade.

Some highlight slides followed by the embedded presentation from slideshare. Note: these are NOT all of the slides from the presentation, so be sure to view the embedded presentation on cryptocurrency on linkedin.

Title slide on Cryptocurrency for companies, associations and the impact on central banks and international finance
How to finance wars 101 – the conspiracy of paper and Ron Paul’s take on the correlations

An excellent read on this topic is the conspiracy of paper.

The following slide is CRITICAL to understand the differences between how Central Banks functions versus how Cryptocurrency functions. Although people are working on options that reduce the all-or-nothing nature of the change. (see slidedeck for more)

Central Banks versus Cryptocurrency – a line by line comparison. Focus on the “Monetary Policy” part.

OK, WHAT IS CRYPTOCURRENCY?! Speak English Please!? This is the way I try to explain cryptocurrency in plain language so that normal people can understand it. This is the simplified explanation of cryptocurrency:

Think of crypto in 3 parts, just like a library book you check it out (object), sign the slip (ledger) and agree to return it by Friday (the smart contract).

Where does cryptocurrency come from and why should I care anyway? Let’s start with the “who makes this stuff?” question. Because that is the important part. It’s all about CONTROL.

Crypto – “Proof of Work” (I did stuff that was hard) or “Proof of Stake” (I’m Mr. Big so I give you paper money, like the Federal Reserve bank.)

The above slides highlight some of the critical slides in the presentation on slideshare on cryptocurrency as presented to LACC-NYC by Ed Schipul. The presentation, with some sensitive slides redacted, is embedded below.

You can access the CryptoCurrency Presentation directly on slideshare at https://www.slideshare.net/eschipul/cryptocurrency-lacceschipul

Note: This was sponsored by Tendenci – The Open Source AMS (Association Management Software) and the Luxembourg American Chamber of Commerce of New York City is a Tendenci client. The presentation was done at no cost for LACCNYC and I did not, and the company did not receive any compensation. I just like economics, associations, and crypto in addition to my various other interests. (Although to be fair, I have made some $$ from crypto trading from studying patterns in publicly available data sets. I mean, why learn ML/AI if you can’t use it a bit….)

Ed Schipul on linkedin.