17 Feb 2011 @ 12:34 AM 

An article posted in The Economist a few years ago presents an interesting take on the safety messages you hear every time you fly in a commercial airline.

GOOD morning, ladies and gentlemen. We are delighted to welcome you aboard Veritas Airways, the airline that tells it like it is. Please ensure that your seat belt is fastened, your seat back is upright and your tray-table is stowed. At Veritas Airways, your safety is our first priority. Actually, that is not quite true: if it were, our seats would be rear-facing, like those in military aircraft, since they are safer in the event of an emergency landing. But then hardly anybody would buy our tickets and we would go bust.

The flight attendants are now pointing out the emergency exits. This is the part of the announcement that you might want to pay attention to. So stop your sudoku for a minute and listen: knowing in advance where the exits are makes a dramatic difference to your chances of survival if we have to evacuate the aircraft. Also, please keep your seat belt fastened when seated, even if the seat-belt light is not illuminated. This is to protect you from the risk of clear-air turbulence, a rare but extremely nasty form
of disturbance that can cause severe injury. Imagine the heavy food trolleys jumping into the air and bashing into the overhead lockers, and you will have some idea of how nasty it can be. We don’t want to scare you. Still, keep that seat belt fastened all the same.

Your life-jacket can be found under your seat, but please do not remove it now. In fact, do not bother to look for it at all. In the event of a landing on water, an unprecedented miracle will have occurred, because in the history of aviation the number of wide-bodied aircraft that have made successful landings on water is zero. This aircraft is equipped with inflatable slides that detach to form life rafts, not that it makes any difference. Please remove high-heeled shoes before using the slides. We might as well add that space helmets and anti-gravity belts should also be removed, since even to mention the use of the slides as rafts is to enter the realm of science fiction.

Please switch off all mobile phones, since they can interfere with the aircraft’s navigation systems. At least, that’s what you’ve always been told. The real reason to switch them off is because they interfere with mobile networks on the ground, but somehow that doesn’t sound quite so good. On most flights a few mobile phones are left on by mistake, so if they were really dangerous we would not allow them on board at all, if you think about it. We will have to come clean about this next year, when we introduce in-flight calling across the Veritas fleet. At that point the prospect of taking a cut of the sky-high calling charges will miraculously cause our safety concerns about mobile phones to evaporate.

On channel 11 of our in-flight entertainment system you will find a video consisting of abstract imagery and a new-age soundtrack, with a voice-over explaining some exercises you can do to reduce the risk of deep-vein thrombosis. We are aware that this video is tedious, but it is not meant to be fun. It is meant to limit our liability in the event of lawsuits.

Once we have reached cruising altitude you will be offered a light meal and a choice of beverages (a word that sounds so much better than just saying drinks, don’t you think?)  The purpose of these refreshments is partly to keep you in your seats where you cannot do yourselves or anyone else any harm. Please consume alcohol in moderate quantities so that you become mildly sedated but not rowdy. That said, we can always turn the cabin air-quality down a notch or two to help ensure that you are sufficiently drowsy.

After take-off, the most dangerous part of the flight, the captain will say a few words that will either be so quiet that you will not be able to hear them, or so loud that they could wake the dead. So please sit back, relax and enjoy the flight. We appreciate that you have a choice of airlines and we thank you for choosing Veritas, a member of an incomprehensible alliance of obscure foreign outfits, most of which you have never heard of. Cabin crew, please make sure we have remembered to close the doors. Sorry, I mean doors to automatic and cross-check. Thank you for flying Veritas.

Enjoy your next flight!

Posted By: Chief Tech
Last Edit: 17 Feb 2011 @ 12:34 AM

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Categories: Social Comment
 06 Oct 2010 @ 6:39 PM 

At first glance this could be some talented computer animators take on Google. However, when you add the fact that it was a paid commercial shown in Times Sqaure on the Jumbotron it takes on a bit of a new meaning.

Essentially this is a fight between a privacy advocate group and Google (who appear to have snubbed them at their own peril) over liberties taken with the use of user (i.e. most of the Internet) personal information.

While I think their intentions may be noble, I think they are fighting a battle that has been fought, lost and celebrated by the victor over a few generations! If you wanted privacy on the Internet, around 1995 was the time to put these mechanisms in place.

Two refuges exist for the true privacy seeker:

  1. Stay offline
  2. Get to know Tor, BetterPrivacy for FireFox and PGP

(Oh, and slight irony alert. I wonder how much YouTube found out about you and your viewing preferences while watching this video?)

Posted By: Chief Tech
Last Edit: 06 Oct 2010 @ 06:39 PM

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 20 Jul 2010 @ 9:38 PM 

Someone in the US Cyber Command HQ at Ft Meade has a slight sense of humour. Check out their logo

US Cyber Command

US Cyber Command

Can you spot the hidden message (hint….you may need to click on the image to enlarge it)?

I will reveal it only because anyone with the ability to Google will no doubt be able to get the answer. Look at the text around the inner circle of the logo. You will see the following numbers and letters:

9ec4c12949a4f31474f299058ce2b22a

What does it all mean? Try running the string through a md5 decoding utility like the one located here and see what you get.

Listen…….can you hear the sound of Dan Brown working on his new novel as we speak?

Posted By: Chief Tech
Last Edit: 20 Jul 2010 @ 09:38 PM

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 02 May 2010 @ 10:00 PM 

First up, credit to the Blogger who first raised this little absurdity, go and check out Tongodeon who originated this story. I cover it here for two reasons:

  1. The thought of the amusing situations that this could bring to the boring task of banking
  2. The fact that a BANK would be so stupid as to implement this in the name of security

This bank has set up a new authentication measure for identifying customers who phone the customer service line. In addition to other identification data they need to provide, they are also required to provide a secret question and answer of their chosing. Basically the operator will ask the question and the customer will provide the pre-determined response. Now this is fairly similar to the common Australian practice of providing a password in addition to personal information to verify your identity; a practice similar in its level of security deficit but not as much fun I guess.

Both of these practice put a lot of trust and faith in the operator you are speaking to. Whoever takes you call will gain all this information and potentially have the ability to use it for nefarious purposes. Combine this with the fact that call centre operators are generally not very well paid or on rather poor work contracts, I think this reveals an accident waiting to happen. Particularly when cheap inexpensive technology such as an RSA key is readily available.

But enough doom and gloom. Let’s look at the fun you could have with such a system.Tongodeon has provide a few choice examples to paint the picture of the type of secret question and answers you could use:

Q: Do you know why I think you’re so sexy?
A: Probably because you’re totally in love with me.

Q: Need any weed? Grass? Kind bud? Shrooms?
A: No thanks hippie, I’d just like to do some banking.

Q: The Penis shoots Seeds, and makes new Life to poison the Earth with a plague of men.
A: Go forth, and kill. Zardoz has spoken.

Q: What the hell is your fucking problem, sir?
A: This is completely inappropriate and I’d like to speak to your supervisor.

Q: I’ve been embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from my employer, and I don’t care who knows it.
A: It’s a good thing they’re recording this call, because I’m going to have to report you.

Q: Are you really who you say you are?
A: No, I am a Russian identity thief.

Q: For the remainder of this conversation, “How can I help you today?” actually means “Would you like to buy some mescaline?” Do you understand?
A: I understand completely.

To this I can only add:

Q: As I said one morning walking down the street
A: Singing do-wah-didy didy-dum-didy-do

Q: I see dead people
A: Really? You must be nuts

Q: I think I just wet my pants
A: Oh, would you like me to give you a minute?

Q: Don’t bank here, use the [enter name of different bank] they won’t screw you with fees like we do
A: Gee, thanks for the tip

Q: Would you like a copy of some hot [chick/guy – delete as appropriate] we caught on the ATM camera?
A: Sure would, where can I download it?

Q: Everyone in this office is gay?
A: Not that there is anything wrong with that.

Choice is a wonderful thing. I wonder how long it will take the bank to change its policy?

Posted By: Chief Tech
Last Edit: 02 May 2010 @ 10:03 PM

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 09 Apr 2010 @ 12:57 AM 

A great new take on Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, an 8-bit version!

For lovers of the old school gaming, this version put together by Doctor Octoroc is a must see.

Check it out here

Posted By: Chief Tech
Last Edit: 09 Apr 2010 @ 12:57 AM

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 03 Mar 2010 @ 11:40 PM 

Calling a tech support radio show…..an interesting action in response to losing your stolen WiFi access.

Leo does take it in his stride however.

Posted By: Chief Tech
Last Edit: 03 Mar 2010 @ 11:40 PM

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 02 Feb 2010 @ 9:29 PM 

Couldn’t help but notice this little wonder last time visiting the supermarket. The quick and dirty iPhone photo probably doesn’t do justice to the impact of what you are looking at. This makes you wonder what percentage of the prices just went on packaging alone! The size of the package is a little larger than A4 and contains a fairly slimline tiny little USB stick.

Waste much Woolworths?

Posted By: Chief Tech
Last Edit: 11 Feb 2010 @ 09:11 PM

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