The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Making progress at work, slacking on the blog

Clearly, I have to get my priorities in order. I've spent the afternoon in the zone with my real job, so I have neglected to real all of this:

Finally, because only one guy writes about half of the songs on top-40 radio, modulations have all but disappeared from popular songs.

Darkest nights of the year

In Chicago, from November 15th to December 31st, the sun sets before 4:30pm. Not much before; for about 11 days, it sets within a few seconds of 4:20pm before getting just a few seconds later.

The only point I'm making is: it's dark already. Cassie has gotten exactly one walk in full daylight a day for the last week, and that will likely continue.

Ah, winter.

Oh, and the Fourth Circuit has once again (metaphorically) called XPOTUS-appointed Federal Circuit Judge Aileen Cannon an idiot.

Winter is here

Meteorological winter begins in the Northern Hemisphere today. In Chicago right now we have sunny skies and a normal-for-December 2°C. And any day above freezing between December 1st and March 1st works for me.

Meanwhile:

Finally, on a whim I looked back at my posts from 10 years ago, and I came across this painful memory of debugging an Azure 1.8 deployment. And 15 years ago we got our first snowfall of the season. Ah, memories.

Slash and burn for sanity

Even though I'm president of a medium-sized non-profit organization who understands the importance of keeping in touch with constituents, I have run out of patience. For the last couple of weeks, I have mercilessly unsubscribed from every mailing list that sent me more than two emails a week. I might wind up missing a couple of them, but my dog, some of them just would not shut up.

The worst offender was my undergraduate university. In the last week, until I finally unsubscribed from them just now, they've sent me about 20 emails asking for money. "Last chance!" "Really last chance!" "Our matching fund expires in two hours!" "Our matching fund expires in 30 minutes!" "Our matching fund expired just now but send us a couple of bucks anyway!"

Actually, that's not true: the worst offender—even post-election—is my political party, because I've given to so many campaigns over the years. Listen, swing-state Senator: I gave you $100 in 2018, you won, stop bothering me. I'm not giving you more money until 2024. And I'm annoyed you've sent me about 825 emails on behalf of every other member of the Democratic Party in your state.

STFU. Just, STFU.

My organization decided not to send a Giving Tuesday email this year, and we've limited email blasts to two on behalf of partner organizations promoting actual performances and one for ourselves promoting Messiah (tickets still available!). Even then, our unsubscribe rate hit record levels this week. Maybe there's a correlation?

I know fist-hand how difficult non-profit organizations have it this year. But please, guys, stop with the emails. Just. Stop.

</rant>

Spring, fall, winter...Chicago?

It's 14°C right now, going down to -3°C tonight. Then it's back up to 8°C on Friday. Because why wouldn't the beginning of winter feel like April?

While you ponder that, read this:

Finally, Whisky Advocate has a good explainer taking the water of life from barrels in Scotland to the glass in your American kitchen.

If I have your computer, I own your computer

Via Bruce SchneierArs Technica describes in painful detail how computer repair people snoop and steal people's data all the time:

If you’ve ever worried about the privacy of your sensitive data when seeking a computer or phone repair, a new study suggests you have good reason. It found that privacy violations occurred at least 50 percent of the time, not surprisingly with female customers bearing the brunt.

Researchers at University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, recovered logs from laptops after receiving overnight repairs from 12 commercial shops. The logs showed that technicians from six of the locations had accessed personal data and that two of those shops also copied data onto a personal device. Devices belonging to females were more likely to be snooped on, and that snooping tended to seek more sensitive data, including both sexually revealing and non-sexual pictures, documents, and financial information.

The amount of snooping may actually have been higher than recorded in the study, which was conducted from October to December 2021. In all, the researchers took the laptops to 16 shops in the greater Ontario region. Logs on devices from two of those visits weren’t recoverable. Two of the repairs were performed on the spot and in the customer's presence, so the technician had no opportunity to surreptitiously view personal data.

In three cases, Windows Quick Access or Recently Accessed Files had been deleted in what the researchers suspect was an attempt by the snooping technician to cover their tracks. As noted earlier, two of the visits resulted in the logs the researchers relied on being unrecoverable. In one, the researcher explained they had installed antivirus software and performed a disk cleanup to “remove multiple viruses on the device.” The researchers received no explanation in the other case.

In all, the findings from the study were:

 Privacy policies and the practice of communicating protocols and controls to protect customers’ data do not exist across service providers of all sizes.
 Service providers largely (10/11) require “all access” to the device, even when it is unnecessary.
 Technicians often snoop on customers’ data (6/16) and sometimes copy those to external devices (2/16).
 Technicians who violate privacy often do so carefully to not generate evidence (1/6) or remove such evidence (3/6).
 A significant proportion of broken devices (26/79, 33 percent) are not repaired due to privacy concerns. For the devices that get repaired, device owners are concerned about threats to their privacy but do not use the proper controls to protect their data.

The results likely confirm what many more experienced computer users already know: that their data is vulnerable to snooping or copying any time they surrender their device to an untrusted or unknown individual, particularly when the individual has their login password. But for a much larger percentage of people wanting to recover crucial data on a broken device, the findings are likely a wake-up call with few, if any, good solutions.

Another way to look at it: do you trust your locksmith?

Still a "good" landing

A pilot crashed his Mooney M20J into power lines in suburban Maryland last night, but everyone got out of the plane alive:

A pilot and a passenger were rescued from a small plane that had crashed into a power line tower and power lines in Maryland after an hours-long ordeal that saw power cut to nearly 100,000 homes and businesses, led to school cancellations and plunged rescuers into a complex effort to safely remove the people aboard.

The first victim, a woman, was pulled from the plane at 12:25 a.m. Residents who’d spent hours watching the incident play out clapped as she was lowered down in a bucket. The second occupant, a man, came down about 11 minutes later.

The Sunday evening crash occurred at a Pepco transmission line near Rothbury Drive and Goshen Road in the Gaithersburg/Montgomery Village area, according to utility and rescue officials. The plane became entangled in high-voltage power lines in the Montgomery Village-Gaithersburg area about 5:40 p.m.

Unfortunately for the pilot, he won't be able to use the plane again, so it's not an "excellent" landing. And once the NTSB gets through with him, he probably won't ever fly again (he's 65).

I can't remember another accident where the airplane hit power lines and the occupants all survived. Weather around the crash time and place shows low instrument conditions: overcast ceiling at 60 meters (200 ft) with visibility around 2 km (1¼ mi) in mist. This suggests visual flight into instrument conditions, but a probable cause finding from the NTSB will likely take a year or so.

Foomp

In the last couple of days, I've observed a phenomenon I don't remember seeing in years past, perhaps because the city has a different mix of tree species around my new place. It looks like all the silver maples in Ravenswood dropped their leaves just in the past 72 hours:

All the other trees in the neighborhood took their time over the warm, dry fall we've had, but the silver maples hung on like a 6-year-old holding his breath.

Researching this post, I learned that the city requires property owners to limit Norway and silver maples to 5% of the total population of trees they plant. Maples account for 38% of Chicago's trees (as of 2013), so the city recommends planting London planetrees, Chicago Blues black locusts, and Chicagoland hackberries, among a few others.

It shouldn't have surprised me that Chicago itself has become a specific ecological niche with its own local plant species. I can't wait to see rattus norvegicus chicagoensis lurking in my alley...but I'd bet they're out there.

How my weekend is going

Remember the stew I made Wednesday? It turned out one of my best:

And I had a lot of leftovers:

Remember Cassie getting a long walk to the big dog park Thursday? We did the same thing yesterday:

And after dinner, I got this rare (inverted for your convenience) photo of Cassie getting a belly rub:

Today, however, it's rainy and cold, so we will have less walking—but possibly more couch/belly-rub time.