Our President Hasn’t Been a Unifier

“All I ask is he keep his disrespect, his foul language far away…. Our president hasn’t been a unifier.” – Justin Blake after the [redacted**] shooting of his nephew ***

“Justin Blake declared that President Trump must be defeated as he stood over the spot where a police officer shot his nephew in the back seven times.”

Source: https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2020-09-01/trump-kenosha-jacob-blake (Edit: As of Sept 18, 2020, this link is not working and cannot be used as verification of the quote, which I find ridiculous. The media IS definitely part of the problem.)

There are facts like America has passed 180,000 COVID-19 deaths. And that our culture, when scientifically tested by social scientists, has a proven racial bias against Black Americans. Those are facts.

There are opinions, frequently based on facts. But lately many people are forming opinions based on lies they believe to be facts.

These people have been tricked.

It is no secret that I did NOT vote for Trump. I expected, sadly, that President Trump would be an ineffective leader.

Yet by “ineffective” I was thinking corruption, tons of White House dinners with dignitaries and CEOs, grifting, illegal activity, disregard for the Hatch Act, ignoring the emoluments clause in The Constitution of the United States of America – that type of garden variety criminal stuff.

But just wow. The damage Trump has done to America, the deaths caused by his inaction, his rancor, his divisive speech and actions, the actual carnage he has left in his wake… for lack of a better phrase, bring me to the point of despair.

And let me be clear – we, THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA – we, still and forever want you, the Trump voter, the Trump supporters, to rejoin this great nation. You are part of our strength, ya just made one heck of a mistake. Own it, “man up”. Shake the memory of this loser off your shoulders and help us rebuild.

To those who voted for him, that was foolish, but simply put, you were tricked. This is forgivable. Everyone gets tricked at one point or another. The definition of “fool” is technically:

So you foolishly voted for Trump. And now our Nation is weaker, in my opinion, than at any time in recent history. Putin laughs at our puppet in charge.

Wait. Hang on. You now need to help us clean up this mess.

You, Trump voters, are still my fellow Americans. I love and respect you. Yes, you made a mistake, a terrible miscalculation, by disregarding the character of this fool. Yet you are not a fool, you just acted foolishly based on the data you had at the time.

Your data has changed.

And for those of you who still support and want this trickster, this loser in chief, I ask you one question:

“Do you believe, if re-elected, Trump will change course, in words and actions, to unify the country he has divided?”

YES or NO?

If you do NOT believe Trump will change course and UNIFY the people, you have to accept that you are not for the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

Donald Trump is, by far, the worst President in my lifetime. He is a loser. Period.

Yes, I agree with Justin Blake when he says “Our President Hasn’t Been a Unifier”

And I am FOR:

THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

——- the following is an addendum in response to my error in a post on linkedin —-

[*** CORRECTION: There was an error in what was supposed to be just the “pull quote” to articulate the issue. It was discussed on linkedini and I was incorrect in my replies to a good friend. I apologize for this.

Specifically the original blog post stated INCORRECTLY one phrase from the article that I believe I screen scraped. But I’m human and possibly I just retyped it? I can’t verify as the link to the LA Times no longer works.

Regardless, Given no further proof, and the original link being broken, I must assume it is MY ERROR. I apologize Oscar.

I apologize thrice for incorrectly stating that Jacob Black had “died” from being shot 7 times in the back. The following link states Jacob is alive but paralyzed from the waste down. (source: https://www.npr.org/2020/08/25/905926959/jacob-blake-paralyzed-after-being-shot-in-the-back-by-the-police – but who knows how long that link will stay up.

All of my other thoughts in the above post still stand. I love the United States of America.

I am an independent and have voted in both primaries over the years (which is legal in Texas). I have supported and done web sites for candidates on both sides of the aisle, I worked very briefly on George W’s reelection campaign, I supported Obama, worked with Sylvia Garcia. And I’m proud to have helped John Culberson launch the first WordPress Website on the Whitehouse network when he was my representative. I believe all of the above politicians to be Patriotic and that they put country over party.

I, very unfortunately, have come to the conclusion that our current President does not understand or even have the mental capacity to occupy the office he currently holds. I do however pray (literally daily) that somehow he will step up to the task, gain the self confidence to lead this great country, and as he says “make America great again.” So far, my prayers remain unanswered. And that is why we have elections and a system for a peaceful transfer of power.

Given I don’t see Trump changing, I simply can’t remain silent and forever be on the wrong side of history as America’s hegemony slides away right before our eyes. The President needs to step up and lead, or just step aside.

Either option can be done with strength, honor and peacefully as is the American tradition.

But make no mistake about my allegiance or Patriotism. The President is our Commander in Chief, the Presidency is an Office, and I respect and would do my duty if called regardless of my concerns with his ability as a leader. My dedication to country is guaranteed because that’s how I was raised and that’s who I am.. WHOOOOP!

United Arab Emerates Officially Recognizes Israel

Part of my studies at Texas A&M University in College Station included a political science focus on China, Africa, and the Middle East. All three are incredibly fascinating.

It is from that historical perspective that I must congratulate President Trump for achieving a significant step towards stability in the Middle East and a safer path forward for the nation of Israel.

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/uae-israel-deal-trump-s-first-genuine-foreign-policy-success-n1236769

I recognize there will be radicals on both sides who will use the “slippery slope” fallacy finding something negative in an Arab country recognizing Israel as a country. But I see the opposite.

For example, previously the Arab states didn’t have diplomatic relations with Israel. In denying that acknowledgement, it left the Arab states with little leverage to negotiate regarding what will hopefully be an acknowledged state of Palestine.

It won’t be easy, the path forward will be fraught with peril. But this has been the case in the Middle East since ‘67.

The first step towards peace, anywhere, is for people to communicate with words instead of bombs. UAE is taking a leadership role here, being the adults in the room, and acknowledging Israel as a peer. And communicating formally with respect.

I view, I predict, I am hopeful that years from now we will view this as a turning point in the never ending quest for peace in the Middle East.

Today I congratulate the Trump administration for being a part of the solution on this issue.

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?

No Pattern in Network Security Alerts? You tell me.

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?)

Wear a Damn Mask

Source: https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2020/06/417906/still-confused-about-masks-heres-science-behind-how-face-masks-prevent

“Two compelling case reports also suggest that masks can prevent transmission in high-risk scenarios, said Chin-Hong and Rutherford. In one case, a man flew from China to Torontoand subsequently tested positive for COVID-19. He had a dry cough and wore a mask on the flight, and all 25 people closest to him on the flight tested negative for COVID-19.

In another case, in late May, two hair stylists in Missouri had close contact with 140 clients while sick with COVID-19. Everyone wore a mask and none of the clients tested positive.”

Loneliness will kill you

“Loneliness will kill you. It’ll kill you slower than the virus, but it will also kill you,” he said. “And so as we have people isolated for longer periods of time while the virus is brought under control …we need to recognize that the status quo is dangerous as well and find ways to lessen that.”

– Jeff Johnson, the Florida director for AARP

Source: https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2020-07-23/a-coronavirus-death-every-8-minutes-this-florida-community-fears-who-will-be-next

Do Not Burn Our Flag

I do not care what the context is or was. I do not care if you were manipulated and weak minded enough to be influenced by “fake Facebook” or “the Manchurian candidate” or some conspiracy theory or anything else. This is tragically disappointing and a pathetic attempt at free speech.

IF that is what happened. First the image:

(Questionable photo origin, but AP ran it.)

Emotionally, and patriotically, I gotta say this image is horrific to view for me no matter how it came to be.

Just don’t. Do NOT burn our flag on American soil. Any cause you might think you are representing is immediately debased. And delegitimized. It’s so egregious, at least to me, I can’t possibly fathom someone thinking this would advance their cause.

I can’t help but notice the person holding the fire is carefully cropped out of the frame. So perhaps, like the media, I have been tricked by people seeking to divide our country.

But, just WOW, this is a real hot-button for a lot of us. It is painful to view.

As I’ve said before, the Presidency is an “office” – not a “person.” Disagree with the current office holder, as the majority of Americans do, does not justify this.

If it’s Russian propaganda by their new Emperor-for-Life seeking to further divide us – you got me. If it’s homegrown idiots, even if behind a cause you believe in, you have cemented your place in history as traitors.

Do NOT burn the flag my Father, my Uncles, my Mother, my Brother, my Greats, my friends, fought to defend. the flag is a representation of an ideal. That we are all equal. That together we are one. E

e pluribus unum

out of many, one

(the motto of the United States)

In closing, I am highly suspicious of the origin and veracity of the photo. The photographer at a protest can’t tell what is “theatre” and what is “spontaneous.”

I just know in my heart, despite everything going on in 2020, that we must stick together. Out of many, one.

#peace

Earn What?

From the proposed: “Eliminating Abuse and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technology”

“The Earn It Act could end user privacy as we know it,” said the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “Tech companies that provide private, encrypted messaging could have to rewrite their software to allow police special access to their users’ messages.”

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/jul/02/earn-it-act-online-privacy-surveillance

Say it with me again;

“any backdoor to your software WILL inevitably be discovered and exploited.”

“any backdoor to your software WILL inevitably be discovered and exploited.”

“any backdoor to your software WILL inevitably be discovered and exploited.”

And be careful of any Bill with hyperboles in its name. It’s a ‘tell’.

Juneteenth – We Must Remember History to Not Repeat It.

We must remember our fellow American’s EARNED it. And by “it” I am not speaking of their “freedom”. The Constitution makes clear that Freedom is “God Given” and “Inalienable.”

Juneteenth was not the day that ended slavery. It was the day they learned that a wrong had been righted, and the truth had been withheld. Another lie to slowed the healing of America.

“My people have a country of their own to go to if they choose… Africa… but, this America belongs to them just as much as it does to any of the white race… in some ways even more so, because they gave the sweat of their brow and their blood in slavery so that many parts of America could become prosperous and recognized in the world. ”

Josephiner Baker

– Josephiner Baker, legendary entertainer and activist

Quote Source: https://www.becauseofthemwecan.com/blogs/culture/juneteenth-10-powerful-quotes-to-remember-on-freedom-day

I believe in the power of freedom, in the power of truth, and in standing in solidarity with black Americans who to this day do not enjoy freedoms and laws that protect all of us. But are still enforced and applied unjustly and unevenly.

The next equivalent of Juneteenth in America, I predict, will be the day when White people get the news. When white people understand the news. News of what is already written, news of what is already the law of the land. We just have to acknowledge our equality and acknowledge we are far stronger as one nation.

Image source: https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:JosephineBaker1964NL.jpg#mw-jump-to-license

Image description from wikimedia:

English: Josephine Baker and her 10 adopted children in a tour boat (President John F. Kennedy) in Amsterdam (the Netherlands), 4 October 1964Date4 October 1964SourceGaHetNa (Nationaal Archief NL)916-9642AuthorHugo van Gelderen (ANEFO)

Black Lives Matter – A Message from our CEO (Crosspost from Tendenci)

As a company we have a very clear vision.

To Connect and Organize the World’s People. Do Good.

With the turmoil tearing through our country as the realization of systemic racism and the physical danger black people are facing, as the CEO of Tendenci, I want to add to the dialogue. While these opinions are being typed by me, I do hope every member of the Tendenci team shares these values.

I believe in this:

Black Lives Matter

I’m a graduate of Texas A&M University, I have *not* served in the Military but I am an Army brat. Many in my family have served and I grew up on Army bases. So as we say at TAMU “Let me tell you a Story Ags!”

The Survey Questions from “Brats: Our Journey Home”.

Years ago I filled out a survey for a movie that was in Production/Screenwriting stages called “Brats: Our Journey Home“. The survey had tons of questions about my experience growing up as an Army Brat. One question was on racism in the Army.

I responded, in all seriousness, to the question that If I thought Racism was no longer a big problem in America. Literally, I said “no, I don’t think  it is.”

Truly I can’t make this up.

The next day, my phone rings. It’s either the producer or the director on the line. I’m like “what? huh?” Obviously I wasn’t expecting that. We exchange small talk and then he asks me “So Ed, you really don’t think Racism is that big of a deal in America?” 

I repeated my answer, perhaps a bit more timid, but still I replied with “no, not really. I just don’t see it.”  (stay with me and keep reading please….)

The producer asked me, and I am paraphrasing as it has been a while, the following:

Director: “Ed, can you name one place in the United States of America in 1958 where a black man could tell a white man what to do and they had to do it unconditionally?”
Me: “um… an Army base?” (Ding ding ding… the lights start to go on….)

Director: “Yes. That’s it Ed! One place! You grew up on bases all over the United States and overseas and YOU never saw how large a problem it was and still is. Because you are white, even though racism was still there on base to a lesser degree, it wasn’t visible to you. YOU grew up a white kid in a non-political environment and thought nothing of having a black family join y’all for dinner. That’s how you were raised.”

The director continued…

“Have you ever heard the saying that ‘you don’t care about the color of a man’s skin if he’s sitting in a foxhole with you?’ You have because your Father served in Vietnam.”
Me: “OK.. you make a damn good point. I learned to ride horses from Master Sergeant Willians (Ret), and played basketball, and worked out with the GIs at the gym, and I guess I just never really thought about it.”

I’ll stop there. I was wrong back then. And I promise you, if you think racism is not a big issue in America to this day, you are wrong. There ARE things we can do to change it. And we must. 

I have contributed, but more importantly, I need to recommit to ACTS of change. Not words or hashtags. 

I believe this image from twitter user x says it far better than I can, so I will let these words speak for themselves:

https://www.instagram.com/p/CA8FEIuF3a5/

From twitter user https://www.instagram.com/p/CA8FEIuF3a5/

#peace

Ed Schipul
CEO/Founder
Tendenci – The Open Source AMS

Originally posted at https://www.tendenci.com/news/black-lives-matter-a-message-from-our-ceo/ on June 4, 2020

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!

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?