Physical security = security

Papa, I cannot log into this old computer. I don’t have the administrator password.

I work in IT so I actually know better. It all started when my son came home with an old computer monitor from school on the last day before summer vacation. Why bring home old hardware? My boys shared an old tower computer but also shared an old laptop. It was only later I found out that there was a small bit of computer envy but could a single old monitor fix this situation?

Grandpa actually had gifted the boys an old computer some time back but we didn’t set it up. Only now months later did we discover nobody had the administrator password for the computer.

So we rolled up our collective sleeves and got to work.

Mounting NTFS partition

Password security is important but physical security is more important. I know this because we simply pulled the hard disk out, booted up Linux on another computer and reset the administrators password. Our first problem was mounting the hard disk.

The NTFS partition is in an unsafe state. Please resume and shutdown Windows fully (no hibernation or fast restarting), or mount the volume read-only with the 'ro' mount option

I had not experienced this exact problem before. Apparently Microsoft had made some changes about Windows 8 called fastboot which helped with the boot up speed. The downside is that this creates problems when mounting the partition.

Clean shutdown

I guess the big Microsoft knew that this might cause some sort of problems in some situations and has made it possible to do a clean shutdown in Windows 10, well perhaps in older versions as well. Do perform this clean shutdown simply hold the shift key down while shutting down the operating system.

It is possible to disable Fast startup in windows 10 under power settings. However, all I wanted was a clean shutdown and that was possible without even logging into Windows.

chntpw

I installed chntpw on my Linux machine.

sudo dnf install -y chntpw

Using the program was self explanatory, I simply choose to clear the administrators password. It actually took much longer to mount this NTFS file system than it did to clear the password.

I read a good blog about using chntpw program.

The most important take away from this experience is not that Windows 10 is a bad operating system. Of all the versions Microsoft has released Windows 10 does seem to be quite stable and reasonably intuitive to use.

However, this exercise has proven that physical access, well that coupled with unencrypted file systems makes it trivial take control over someone else’s hardware.

Live Linux DVD

The computer that we were working on was a tiny mini-pic without a DVD. However, this entire process is also just as easy using a USB stick with a bootable live image or a live DVD.

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The weirdest laws in the world

Today I’m going to talk about the weirdest laws on earth.

Did you know that in the state of Pennsylvania men are not allowed to buy beer without a written letter by there wives where it says they’re allowed to buy beer? Now the question occurs what if he isn’t married and doesn’t have a girlfriend?

Just in case. In Alabama, it’s forbidden to drive a car while wearing a blindfold. Well, I guess there goes my dream to drive in Alabama while i wear a blindfold.

For the safety of fort Madison, Iowa law declares that before firemen move out to an operation they have to have at least 15 minutes of training.

In Kannada, it’s forbidden to Exit a plane mid-flight. Now if the plane were to go down is it allowed to parachute out? Or do you have to act like you’re the captain on the ship and you have to go down with it?

Here something I also didn’t know even though I live there. Hessen’s state law states that it is allowed to execute them. But Germany’s federal law states that it is illegal to execute anybody. But luckily federal law overrules state law in Germany.

Surprisingly in Urbana, Illinois if you are a Monster you are not allowed to enter the city limits.

In Scotland, you hope you don’t get drunk if you own a cow. because if you do you can be arrested.

So men and Boys if you live in NYC you got a Problem. Because NYCs law states that men are not allowed to stare after women. So men and Boys get your Looks in the first time otherwise you’re Destination has changed.

Here something I already knew is that you’re not allowed to stamp a stamp upside down in England. If you do it would Count as a betrayal.

If you live in Uruguay and you’re a cheater you have a Problem. ’cause Uruguay’s law says that men who find they’re wives or girlfriends cheating they have two options: either they kill both the cheating girlfriend/wife + the other Person or they cut off the nose of the unfaithful wife/girlfriend and castrate the man. Now the Question occurs is it the same if the man cheats on the Girl? And what happens if you catch her and you do option 2 but then she cheats again?

Sadly because of some vandals in Singapore all gum substances (except ones with therapeutic and dental values)and it’s all because some vandals vandalized a train station.

In Connecticut to be a pickle, the pickled cucumber must bounce, which I find is very absurd.

Here’s something that I knew which is, in Minnesota mosquitoes are considered a public nuisance.

Did you now, that in the UK you’re not allowed to be drunk in a Pub. Even though that law gets broken every single day it’s still in the book of laws.

As the game Crossy Road shows in Quitman,Georgia it is illeagal for a chicken to cross a road. Apparently Games do teach something.

In Turin,Italy it is illegal to walk your dog less than 3 times a day. They do mostly rely on neighbors to report it but it’s better than nothing.

Sources: https://youtu.be/gDhZ_HWMGHc , https://youtu.be/GTCuJgM5GLw and https://www.thelawyerportal.com/blog/top-10-weirdest-laws-around-world/ and thanks to pixabay.com for the pictures

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My Experience with Getting The Covid-19 Test

I heard this story from a close friend and was aghast at how bureaucratic it was to try and get a covid-19 test. In this particular story the problem was not lack of tests but such a bureaucracy that she probably drove 150 miles to eventually get a test.

Saturday August 15th.

I was on my vacation away from home and unfortunately my son got a sore throat that was painful even after taking ibuprofen. I chose to speak with a nurse about my son’s symptoms and she informed me that it might be strep throat but there was the possibility that he had covid-19 as a sore throat was a symptom. I called our provider, in Andover, to check if they did covid-19 testing at that location. Though it showed online that they did do covid-19 testing there the representative verified that they did not do the covid-19 test at that location. The representative told me that covid tests were not done at all locations and she gave me some suggestions on where I could go to get one such as CVS and a MinuteClinic. As I did not want to spread a potential covid-19 infection to my family members who were in a high risk category I chose to go and get my son tested.

I wound up driving from Annandale to Buffalo, but though my GPS showed the clinic at that location the pharmacy told me that it had been closed. I then tried to call a testing center in St. Michael who supposedly did testing. I was unable to get a person on the phone to verify this, so as it was getting late I drove there and I arrived fifteen minutes before they were supposed to close. I was told that I was too late to be seen and they didn’t do the covid-19 test either. They offered to set up an appointment the next morning but I decided to go home and try again the next day as most locations closed by 5pm.

Sunday August 16th

The next morning I called my home clinic to verify if it was open and if it did the covid-19 testing, as overnight my son’s condition had gotten worse and he needed to alternate between ibuprofen and acetaminophen because of a very sore throat. My call confirmed that I would need to go to a different clinic, in Brooklyn Park, to get the covid-19 test and that I would need the recommendation of a health practitioner. After arriving and being screened at the clinic the nurse practitioner administered the strep throat test which was positive. I was informed that he could have covid-19 on top of the strep throat and they recommended that I get him tested for that. I was surprised to learn that I could not get him tested in the clinic and would have to call a specific number to set up an appointment despite the fact that the covid-19 testing tent was in the parking lot. Because I was aware that my son was contagious until he had been on the medicine for 24 hours, I chose to immediately go to the closest Walgreens which was 5 minutes away and start his medication. As he needed to take it with food I purchased him some lunch, gave him his medicine, and then called the phone number to arrange his covid-19 test. As I was only 10 minutes away from the clinic I thought it would be easy to go back and get the test, but I was shocked to hear that they were not accepting any more appointments at that site (it was 2:15). I was given a list of the available locations and times and chose the closest one which was in Princeton an hour north of my current location of Brooklyn Park. I was able to make it to the clinic in time for the appointment, get the test done, and I was given the pertinent information on when I would get the results. The nurse said 48 to 72 hours and the paperwork said 7-10 days. I was pleased that the results were online in my online account on Monday night and was relieved that they were negative.

This was a very frustrating experience. Several things made this difficult such as many of the convenience clinics have been closed and the hours for urgent care have been reduced. The ability to take the covid-19 test which is important to stop the spread was difficult as they were only available at specific locations that may or may not have available times to the fact that you couldn’t take the test in the clinic when you were at the clinic.

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Vitamin D a miracle drug or simple correlation

Vitamin D, just like many vitamins are important to good nutruitional health.  Our bodies need vitamins and various other minerals for general health.  Not having the recommended amount of these over time will create health risk factors depending on what you are missing.  Yet it is important to keep in mind that in times of health scares (ie epidemic or pandemic) it is easy to want to find  a silver bullet that will eliminate the deadly diseases and put our mind at ease.

As of writing this over 200,000 people have died in the USA as a result of the Covid 19 virus.  You can nitpick on these numbers but the fact is that diabetes or being overweight (or many other risk factors) would have killed these people anyway but it would have statistically been over a much longer time period than the six months it took to accumulate this death toll.

There are always studies or beliefs about many different supplements that don’t pan out.  Pointing to a specific supplement is much like a fad diet.  There may be for some people some relief but this is perhaps not due to the supplement itself but rather other factors, one unchangeable one is the luck of having “good genes” from your parents.

Rather than pin our hopes on something that actually has “needs to be studied further” (this is from the article not me) we can focus on much less glamorous options.

  • good diet
  • enough exercise
  • plenty of sleep
  • healthy body weight

A good diet will ensure that you get all the nutrients you need along with plenty of fiber.  Exercise doesn’t have to be 2 hours in the gym, it can be as simple as taking the stairs where there are escalators, park at the back of the parking lot when shopping, or taking an evening stroll.  If you do go outside and catch about 10-30 minutes of sunshine a few days a week you will have gotten your vitamin D.  There is inevitably not enough time to do everything and so going to bed on-time may feel like a punishment but it does guarantee your body is well rested and able to fight off infections.  This might be the common cold or even Covid 19.

Yet, lets take the side of suppliments for a moment.  What harm could a little extra vitamins do? Well, actually a lot. 

  • nausea
  • bloody stools
  • diarrhea
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • fluid build up lung/liver
  • hair loss
  • liver damage
  • severe headaches
  • bone pain
  • blurred vision
  • dry skin
  • vomiting
  • abnormal heart rhythm
  • constipation
  • frequent urination
  • muscle weakness
  • confusion
  • blood clotting issues
  • nerve damage
  • jaundice
  • elevated liver enzymes
  • nausea
    https://www.flushinghospital.org/newsletter/can-you-overdose-on-vitamins/

I wrote this because I had received an email about how vitamin D deficiency might cause a 1.77 times greater chance to get the Covid 19 virus.  I find that to be a bit suspect as it sounds like they are advertising a silver bullet, but also because the article itself says

“… a finding that suggests that suggests randomized trials may needed to determine whether vitamin d affects covid 19 risk.”

I believe that this sentence can be paraphrased to the following.

“… this is an interesting observation but we need to actually test it to see if there is any causation”

In addition to just change to live a healthy lifestyle it might be a good idea to have a sceptical eye on health suggestions from the news … unless it is eat all of your vegetables.

Definitions 

A correlation between variables, however, does not automatically mean that the change in one variable is the cause of the change in the values of the other variable. 


Causation indicates that one event is the result of the occurrence of the other event; i.e. there is a causal relationship between the two events.

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The irrationality of bottle deposits

When I was younger, growing up in the USA,  I would see the occasional bottle littering the street and thought that perhaps if we simply sold all softdrinks in glass bottles with deposits this problem would go away – no more bottles in the streets and less garbage in the landfills.

Wow, a few years later in a different country that attempts to fulfill that dream has really changed my mind against such a solution.

In Germany a lot of drinks are sold with bottle deposits.  Rather than having a single coherent policy they initially opted for a jumbled up mishmash approach.  The easiest target for such a deposit was softdrinks, energy drinks and beer.

0.25                    0.25                      0.00              0.25                 0.00

If you purchase a softdrink or can of beer you have to pay a 25 cent deposit on the container. When this was initially implemented it was done in literally the worst possible way.  You had to keep your receipt and bring both the bottle and the receipt back to the place you originally purchased the drink.

I have no idea how much of a windfall that was for the sellers of such drinks but it must have been fairly large.  Who had the time to track where you bought your drink and make a special effort to get back to that part of town (or another town) to get back the deposit all without loosing the receipt.

Fortunately, the law was changed so it was then possible to return the container to any shop that sold that type of drink.  It was about this time that machines came to the rescue in the form of bottle return machines.

Simply show up at your favorite grocery store and start to pop those bottles and cans into the machine.  A lot of the machines accept cans while some do not – this wasn’t such of a problem for me.

A bigger problem was that not all bottle types can be put into the machines.  There are two different types of plastic  bottles, single use versus refillable.  The refillable bottles are a different type of plastic and much sturdier.  Instead of the same 25 cents as the other plastic or cans these bottles have a deposit of 15 cents.

This wasn’t so much a new rate as the rate that has always been used for refillable plastic bottles while refillable glass bottles have always been just 8 cents per bottle.

The exceptions

One of the nice things about shopping in Germany is that when you see some item for sale that costs 9.99, you know that it costs exactly 9.99.  The retailers have the labels printed to include the tax that must be paid.

I don’t know how many times I have spoken with someone from Germany who visits America for the first time and doesn’t understand how it is done there. Just how much will an item will cost? They don’t understand why an item might not cost the same as the next city over due to a city tax.  Each state has its own state tax with some items being exempt from taxes while other products such as alcohol have extra taxes added on.

I feel the same way now when purchasing a drink from a gas station as sometimes there is no deposit but sometimes there is 8, 15 or 25 cents deposit required.  Sometimes the deposit is included in the price on the shelf while other times not.

More exceptions

From looking at some of the exceptions it appears that the deposits are not designed to help recycle certain plastics nor metals.  The deposits do not appear to specifically target juices or water as it is possible to purchase drinks in a tetrapak without paying any deposit.

I initially thought that perhaps this might be aimed at people who consume alcohol (ie beer) and throw the empty cans on the street.  This is a possibility but that rings a bit hollow as there is no other deposit required for wine, sparkling wine or hard spirits.

The problem revealed

This entire conspiracy of bottle deposits was fully partially cleared up not that long ago.  What had apparently happened was someone had managed to convince the politicians that it wasn’t soft drinks or alcohol that was the problem but rather it was carbon dioxide.  Yup, it is the people who consume products full of carbon dioxide that are littering the streets.  Thus this last round of bottle deposits was levied on beverages that contain the hated carbon dioxide.

In the meantime, I have to remember to take some empty bottles with to the store as they are really starting to accumulate.

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Just don’t vacuum in Germany

Every culture has its quirks. In America there is a lot of attention paid to the first and second amendment. These allow for free speech as well as the right to own guns. From looking at the various newspaper articles that pop up near every election (or after a large mass shooting) you would think that owning a gun is the most important right a person can have.

In Greece children’s teeth are not picked up by the tooth fairy but instead are tossed on top of the roof of their house. The ideas behind this custom is to bring good luck and a healthy replacement tooth.

Another odd custom, in my opinion, is “La Tomatina Festival” that is held in Buñol Spain. Every year, on the last Wednesday in August this festival takes place. I have read a number of different explanations of the history of how this began but the net result is that this is a food fight. Specifically this is with tomatoes.

Germany’s quirks are actually less dramatic than in some other countries but they can have a tendency to be a bit suffocating. I was reminded of this today when my son and I were doing a bit of crafts. Ok, ok, crafts might be slightly minimizing our efforts. We were in the middle of a multi day process of building a work bench for the garage (only a few hours a day).

The only power-tool that we currently own is a drill so most of our work is taking place with hand-tools. I guess we are not very efficient, or perhaps need more power-tools, as for the first two hours we only made about 4 cuts and the rest of the time was spent painstakingly adjusting these leg supports into the proper position, drilling a hole, and hand screwing the 5 inch screws into place. I know it was two hours because my helper pointed out that we were only half done.

Once we were finished we realized we needed a few tiny blocks to make sure that everything was steady. My son and I split up and started our work only to learn that there are rules in Germany about doing such activities. My bad, we were doing this on a Sunday in the afternoon.

I had just cut myself with the saw when I received a phone call. There is no point in going through the specifics. The net result was one of our neighbors thought we were making too much noise and so they called my wife. My neighbors had been googling the internet to locate the rules for what kinds and how much noise you can make on a Sunday.

I don’t have a comprehensive list of German rules but this is the one that came up today.

https://anwaltauskunft.de/magazin/leben/freizeit-alltag/ruhezeiten-darf-man-sonntags-bohren-haemmern-und-staub-saugen

If you don’t read German than this article will be a bit much. The summary for this is as follows. You can drill, pound or hammer but only if the noise level is not to loud. This also includes building furniture or longer vacuuming sessions. The idea is that there should be some sort of quiet time on Sunday to allow you to regather your strength from the working week.

So, I am on the phone with my wife bleeding as she is explaining that the neighbor will be getting a lawyer to sue us over this particular infraction. I guess a simpler first move might have been for my neighbor to have stopped by and explained that they find all of this hand sawing a bit much and could we take a break or stop all together.

I was also rather surprised by who had called us on such an obnoxious behavior on a Sunday. It wasn’t my mother-in-law, nor an octogenarian who lives nearby but actually a neighbor that is just into her forties.

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Math for politicians or poor students

I really hate to get too involved in talking about politics as it usually has very little return. It is not all that different from trying to convince someone to change religion. If the Catholics and the Protestants cannot agree with each other, despite having a lot of common ground between the two, then how could you convince the atheists or the Muslims to agree with the Christians.

Yet, it is not religion but math that causes me to fire up my computer this evening. I happened to read in the US press that 99% percent of Covid19 cases are harmless. On its face, this particular statement sounds a bit simplistic, but let’s run a few numbers to help prove this statement cannot be true.

Letting Google do most of the work, I have found that the chance of getting a serious is about 37%

The majority of people who become infected with coronavirus are not expected to become seriously ill, but a large segment of the U.S. adult population – one third (37.6 percent) of adults ages 18 and older – have a higher risk of serious illness if they do become infected due to their age or underlying medical condition.

kff.org

That particular statistic is almost directly in contradiction of the 99% harmless. That seems to simple to be the answer, so lets consider that if we are speaking about the same disease with a suitably large group of infected people then it seems reasonable that the number of infected people would be at a similar rate.

Here are a few statistics for a few different EU countries

Germany Confirmed 207,707

Germany Deaths 9,131

Germany Death Percentage 4.39%

UK Confirmed 301,455

UK Deaths 45,961

UK Death Percentage 15.1%

Singapore Confirmed 46,098

Singapore Deaths 27

Singapore Death Percentage 0.005%

It is true that in general the percentage of the deaths should be somewhat similar but this can also vary. There can be different strains of a virus but other factors such as general health and specific genetic factors which could either provide additional protection or additional susceptibility.

So none of these death factors, which is perhaps the easiest way to measure how harmless a disease is.

I guess as I am not able to find any other statistics that imply that the United States has a 99% chance that the Covid19 cases are harmless.

https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html

https://ncov2019.live/

There is no evidence that I can find so I will simply use the John Hopkins data for the US as a final check.

US Confirmed 4,401,599

US Deaths 150,090

US Death Percentage 3.40%

I guess that politicians are not the best at math when it creates a contradiction to their narrative.

** Fact Check **

Failed

It almost makes you wonder if this level of attention to detail would be the cause for failing in the Casino industry.

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Hamsters and masks

I was speaking with a medical professional about the effectiveness of wearing a mask. There are a number of different types of masks, the N95 for example actually will filter out 95% of the airborne particles. This is an especially effective mask to wear in order to prevent from getting the corona19 virus.

There are other masks that are not of that same quality but health professionals ask, actually implore everyone to wear a mask as there is a belief this will help to prevent the spread. The logic is common sense, if people cannot easily spread airborn particles containing the virus then things will obviously be better.

Where is the proof?

Well, now there is proof. Hong Kong scientists have been conducting research on hamsters to prove that masks help to reduce the rate of spread. I only wish that I could have seen the little hamsters running around with little masks on.

More on this topic can be read from yahoo.

https://sg.news.yahoo.com/coronavirus-hamster-research-shows-effectiveness-123507102.html

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Too many tests results in too many results

** conspirancy alert ***

It is pretty hard to not see what is going on in the USA with respect to the pandemic. There are a lot of reasons why things might not be doing so well there when compared to other countries.

  • Not wearing masks
  • Opening bars, restaurants, gyms, shops
  • Opening other crowded venues

The current cheerleader and chief has suggested that perhaps because so many tests are being done they are showing more people who are infected. Well, yes that might be the case to a minor level but taking tests is just holding up a mirror to reflect the current situation.

What is the conspiracy? Well, the president wants fewer tests and then I read in the newspaper that the federal government will be ending funding of various testing sites. This decision shortly after the president suggested reducing the testing would make everything look better sounds suspicious.

president says we need less testing and then the government funds less testing

This was a pretty clumsy way of trying to eliminate these statistics. Not only was it clumsy but quite a few of these federally funded sites were in one of the states, Texas, where the numbers were increasing. This was pretty worrisome, especially for the people in Texas, so within a few days this decision was reversed.

Wow, I wonder how we could somehow eliminate the nasty statistics that make the covid19 pandemic look bad in the US.

hmmmm

What if we forced all of the hospitals in the USA to change how and to whom they submit their covid19 statistics.

White House Strips CDC Of Data Collection Role For COVID-19 Hospitalizations

This wouldn’t be a prelude to removing any public access to this data.

Coronavirus data has already disappeared after Trump administration shifted control from CDC

If I didn’t know better I would look at this and think that perhaps someone thinks that everything is ok and perhaps everyone might forget about this if we could really hide some of these unflattering statistics from Covid 19.

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Covid Times

The biggest story in the newspapers over the last few months is not just bush fires.

  • Donald Trump’s impeachment
  • Bush fires in New South Wales, Australia
  • Prince Harry steps down
  • Kobe Bryant dies in helicopter crash
  • UK withdraws from European union

The covid19 pandemic has actually received quite a lot of press for a lot of reasons mainly the destruction to human life. Unlike an epidemic which is an outbreak in a particular region or community a pandemic is an epidemic that spreads over multiple countries or continents.

I was speaking with a doctor at my local hospital about the effects of the pandemic on the emergency room. Here in Germany, after the lockdown of many shops, the emergency room does test for the covid19 virus but unlike some other countries a fairly low percentage come back as positive.

My doctor was talking about the differences in hospitals around the world. Earlier in her career she did a internship at a hospital in the US. What is the difference between a hospital in the US and a hospital in Germany?

In both hospitals the staff are required to purchase their own shoes and stethoscopes. In both hospitals the doctors and nurses wear scrubs and heal the sick.

The most surprising difference is that the doctors in America must clean their own scrubs. Yup, at the end of the day they change into street clothes and pack their dirty scrubs into a bag to be washed at home. I always like to hope my home washing machine will do a fabulous job but I work in IT. When going to work I don’t get exposed to sick patients, strange diseases nor have anyone bleed on me. I might get some dust on my pants from crawling under desks but I think a standard wash machine will take care of it.

During normal non-covid19 times the doctors in America don’t have to wear a mask, well outside of the operating room. This is also true in Germany but the difference is that in the USA wearing personal protection equipment is optional. At my doctor’ hospital it is required to wear a mask and the physicians risk being fired if they are not wearing a mask. Oh, the masks are also provided by the hospital.

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