All that is wrong with the world…

July 11, 2011

Thoughts on simian lines

I think simian lines are an interesting phenomenon. A prominent singular horizontal crease on the palm, taking the place of both the heart and head lines that most people tend to have. Aside from having a high correlation with various genetic disorders, it is meant to be very rare to have this, even more so on both palms.

While I don’t give any credibility to traditional palm reading, I find the personality profile for people with simian lines interesting, as it matches me disturbingly with uncanny accuracy. Unlike most palm readings or horoscopes, the descriptions are not so vague as to be able to apply to anyone (although they are still somewhat abstract). The sole reason that I think there may be something to this is that a physical marker could perhaps correlate with certain personality traits. This seems at least possible, while standard palm reading or astrology is based on nothing.

According to western interpretations I cannot separate my thoughts from my emotions, as thinking and feeling is the same thing for me. I don’t know if I would go that far, but I definitely feel like my emotions are a byproduct of my consciousness as opposed to something innate. Other personality descriptions are that I am more intense than normal…while I would not have thought so it is something I get told frequently. Apparently I also have an increased stamina and a propensity for either great success or great failure. According to Chinese astrology, a double simian line means I am extraordinarily intelligent. It is unlikely any of these descriptions are accurate, but it interesting to think about. I just hope the correlation of simian lines and heart defects is meaningless.

There doesn’t seem to be a lot of info on simian lines online, and I got most of my information from the top few search results which tend to be mystical in nature, which are still entertaining to room. If anyone has more information on simian lines from a more reliable source, I would appreciate a link.

July 10, 2011

Mandatory IT licensing

Filed under: Tech — Tags: , , , , , , — allthatiswrong @ 9:04 pm

I really don’t understand why the IT industry is not regulated. As it stands in most countries you don’t need any kind of certification or experience to work in IT or run an IT business. Most other fields where you need to rely on the people to fix things or do specific work are regulated. Lawyers have to be admitted to the bar, electricians and mechanics generally have to be licenses, engineers need a degree before they can call themselves as such, even plumbers tend to need a certification before they can practice. Given just how often PC’s are critical in everyday life, why are IT workers not held to the same standard? –

At the moment, anyone can simply open a PC repair shop with only a cursory knowledge and start charging money to fix peoples computers, without knowing what they are doing. They could have various malware and the PC repair guy might charge $80 just to run an AV scan, not finding or fixing anything, faulty memory could lead to an unnecessary new CPU and so on. All too often these shops are run by people who know more than most, but simply do it as a hobby and don’t have anywhere near the prerequisite knowledge that they should have, when people are paying for a service and trusting them to provide that service competently and reliably. Here is an interesting article with some of the horror stories of people getting ripped of and displays of incompetence.

There are far too many 40+ guys who don’t know enough to be doing this work as they don’t keep up with changes in the field, and often refuse to admit they are wrong, simply relying on their 30 years of experience as evidence of qualification. Then there are enthusiastic people in their 20’s that may or may not be in college and again while they know more than most, they too often don’t know enough and make the wrong decision. There are so many “professional” shops or consultants at the moment that just screw people over. Either by illegally selling software at OEM prices, recommending shitty AV software (AVG anyone?), charging money for useless registry cleaning tools or whatever.

When they can’t solve a problem they tend to reinstall Windows for an absurd price, acting as though it were a favor. The problem with all of this is that there are no consequences for any of this. There may be the odd lawsuit but if this is the equivalent of a small claims court you can only get the money you lost back. Got fired from your job because the unlicensed under-qualified PC repairmen fucked you over? Tough luck. I find it frustrating to work in an industry where there is almost no barrier to entry, so the field is full of people who have no idea what they are talking about yet convinced that they do. It takes away from those of us who do know what we’re talking about and worked hard to gain such knowledge and experience.

Just look on any pc tech forum and look at the people disagreeing among themselves over solutions. Each of these people or someone like them works in or run a shop, yet clearly they cannot all be right. Such a thing should not be allowed. Then look at the HBGary hack. Selling themselves as security experts they were devastated by bad passwords, unpatched servers, SQL injection and more. Thing that non-experts can avoid, so experts should certainly be able to. Yet people were paying these guys as professionals and relying on them for security, often in critical situations.

So, why does it make sense to allow this to continue? What argument can be made to keep things the way they are? What about the economy? It’s true that this may put a lot of people out of work or be an additional cost for small businesses, but this isn’t a problem to me. The people that can’t demonstrate knowledge shouldn’t be working in this field in the first place and legitimate businesses and consultants can recoup costs from the decrease in competition.

Another important reason I think some sort of mandatory regulation or certification should be required is for privacy reasons. At the moment the law is somewhat of a grey area on what rights you have to privacy when you hand your computer over to repair to someone else. An interesting example is this case, where a guy handed in his PC for repair and the technicians found child porn and promptly reported him to the police. It’s great helping to stop child porn production, but what were they doing looking through his files in the first place? Maybe they saw thumbnails, but why were they ever in his pictures or photos folder? You should be able to trust that your privacy is intact when getting a PC repaired and you should be able to collect substantial damages if it is compromised.

The whole situation at the moment is a problem and it needs a solution. As far as problems go it isn’t so major, but considering the sheer amount of people getting ripped off and/or getting poor service every day, it should be addressed. The problem is just how to address it. A once off certification isn’t useful as the industry changes too fast. Vendor specific certifications are not useful due to their very nature. One possible solution might be a multi-tiered license that has to be renewed on a set basis. You could be licensed at the first tier which would just be simple hardware and software, with the tiers increasing in complexity as they go up.

The problem is that this has to be mandatory, if it’s voluntary it loses any value and the situation would not be any different than it is now. If it is mandatory only people who can demonstrate knowledge and are licensed to practice would do so, which would fix things a lot. No more bullshit repairs or faulty advice, substantially decreased privacy risks, accountability and trust of IT workers and businesses and fair pricing. Is there any reason not to head in this direction? If not, how long will it take governments to catch up?

July 6, 2011

From New York to Las Vegas

Filed under: Travel — Tags: , , , , , — allthatiswrong @ 11:37 am

This is a pretty brief account of what happened while I was in New York for two weeks before going to Las Vegas, but contains stuff that I wanted to keep out of my article on the Hope and DEFCON conferences. I’ve written this almost exactly a year later after it happened, which is ridiculously slow progress. With so much going on and my placing more emphasis on non memoir articles it isn’t so surprising. Hopefully I can get the beginning of 2010 done by the end of 2011. Or at least my adventures in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, where all this takes place after. Anyway.

I was so happy to be leaving San Jose after my adventures in Costa Rica and Nicaragua….as much fun as I had had there I couldn’t wait to be back to a place where hot water is taken for granted and I could actually choose between more than 10 things to eat. I arrived back in NYC at 2am…being somewhat worried about coming through customs but it all turned out fine. I went outside and enjoyed the hot summer night before heading to my host’s house. I was stuck for a bit as the Airtrain machines wouldn’t give change and I had to find someone who would, eventually lucking out at the Hertz store. After arriving and meeting Cindy, she was very cool and we talked for a bit. I was pretty excited as the HOPE conference was on the 16th, something I had been looking forward to ever since I realized I would be able to go that year. I think I slept most of the day of the 15th, except to go to the bank and file my insurance claim. I thought everything was fine when I was given temporary credit, which was amazing as I was down to like $5, except I should have withdrew it as it was then rescinded. Aye. I then went to see my comedy selling brethren and say hi and get back into it.

The next few days was taken up by the HOPE conference which was fun, although not what I expected. Saturday night was fun….fucking around with some guys I met seeing if Lazlow was staying at the hotel so we could prank him….then just talking outside, watching some kind of security guard for either the conference or hotel take of his coat in an unnecessary display of machismo against a harmless old black guy. The next night after closing ceremonies, I had been talking to a guy I just met and we decided to go to a hackerspace/party that had been advertised. It was interesting there as I met Letty and JR who turned out to be real life superheroes, who gave me a newspaper article with them featured in it as they got on a train, then when me and Paul were reading it on the subway, we realized it was about them. A humorous end to a good night.

On Monday I went back to selling comedy tickets, which was good. I like the people I work with and it’s an interesting job….the lack of money is frustrating but it works out OK. I ended up staying with Jack for a few days over my birthday, which ended up being completely uneventful. I don’t think I have ever had a birthday with friends and drinking and something memorable…this year it looks like I might which will be awesome. It was great of Ryan to let me stay with him when I needed it as I had nowhere else and I think we became better friends because of it. It was hard sometimes with Sam, as she tried vaping which she doesn’t normally do and started tripping out over my HOPE schedule, thinking I was an evil criminal. No amount of pointing out that hacker has several definitions or that credible renowned people were attending would make a difference. Eventually she got over it and calmed down and apologized, but it was unpleasant while it lasted.

I finally went with Jack to Shopsin’s on Wednesday as he had been talking about it for a long time. It was indeed amazing, and if my budget were more than it was I would be happy to go far, far more frequently. Sam and Jack paid for my meal since I was traveling, which I thought was amazing. It was the first time I had really met Sam and she had been nothing but good to me, so it was a shame to see her not doing so well this time. Before leaving NYC I put an ad on Craigslist hoping to meet some girls, and I got an awful lot of responses which was nice. I wasn’t able to meet most of them but it was encouraging how many replied to me.
The rest of the week was uneventful. I managed to sell 5 tickets on Friday and 2 on Saturday after my head was finally clear from vapors, which was nice. An extra $100 or so for the week while hanging with my friends in the city. Not at all a bad deal considering. On the Friday before I left I had to wait before I could go home until 9pm or so, so after spending far too much time in Borders I chilled out at Columbus circle for an hour or so. I met an Israeli girl who was quite cool and we ended up talking for quite a while. We made plans to meet again but it never really came to fruition…, although now she wants to meet this weekend, which could be interesting.

I ended up staying with JR and Letty for 2 nights before leaving, which was interesting. I got to see their plans for Brooklyn and how seriously they took all the vigilante stuff. One Saturday night I went exploring rooftops with Letty in Brooklyn which was very cool. Climbing over fences and up fire escapes….watching people on the street and in windows….it was a fun and amazing experience, although it was embarrassing how much fitter Letty is than me.. It gave me an idea of how fun it could be to grow up in such a city where there is so much to explore. When walking back home we saw two big dogs slowly crossing the road and a car speeding, and we both assumed the car would slow down. Except it didn’t, and the dogs got hit and flipped like a slow motion movie. We both ran to see how they were but they seemed fine. Letty was far more distraught then I was over it which made me feel awkward. I never know how to act in such situations if I should pretend to care more than I do or just try and comfort those who are more affected. Some guy came who knew the owner of the dogs and took them back; still it was an amazing thing to see….somehow I don’t think the driver would have stopped had it been people crossing the road, which is scary to think about. It was weird hanging out with Letty as there is a definite mutual attraction….I just don’t know what she wants and don’t know what I can do. I don’t think I can handle a relationship and would be happy with just sex, but not at the expense of a potentially great friendship.

The suddenly it was Wednesday and it was time to head to the airport. Getting to Las Vegas in time from New York was a hectic enough experience. My flight was on a Wednesday, and I had been putting of seeing the King Tut exhibit until Wednesday because it was cheaper, and because I assumed I would have enough time to see it and catch my Wednesday afternoon flight. However, Tuesday evening was taken up by me standing up two poor girls I was meant to meet, so I could transfer some movies and shows to Jack’s computer. Transferring a terabyte can take a while, especially when cables easily come loose.

After doing that all night until maybe 10am, and realizing on the train I could not possibly make King Tut, I head home and pack up to get ready to go to the airport, which I had just assumed was JFK. Alas, it was La Guardia, something I realized maybe 2 hours before my flight. After looking up directions, which told me I could get there via bus and train in an hour or so….I decided not to risk it. I ended up taking a taxi from Christopher Street, which ended up costing about $40 with tip. I probably should have caught a taxi from midtown instead…but I got there about 15 minutes before checkin closed, so I made the right decision at least. At least I got to fly before August 1st, where I would have had to pay for a carry-on bag which is just ridiculous. Thankfully since then I have discovered Southwest and their amazing bags fly free policy. Safely at the airport, that was the end of my two weeks in NYC in summer. I made better friends with people I knew, climbed across rooftops in Brooklyn with a real life superhero, met some girls, ate some amazing food and went to a HOPE conference which was an experience in itself. I was still feeling unsure given my last 2 months in Costa Rica and Nicaragua and fucking things up with my ex best friend, yet at the same time I was determined to get my visa and make it back and start my business. Due to lack of research it took a lot longer, however I’m here now and the only way I can go is up.