Intel's Ronler Acres Plant


Silicon Forest

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Monica at Mozilla: Tracking Protection for Firefox at Web 2.0 Securit...

Search for 'Tracking' turned up this video on Vimeo, which is much more interesting than a bunch of power point slides, which is all I got for 'Tracking Protection'.

From the Monica-At-Mozilla blog, via Detroit Steve:
My paper with Georgios Kontaxis got best paper award at the Web 2.0 Security and Privacy workshop today! Georgios re-ran the performance evaluations on top news sites and the decrease in page load time with tracking protection enabled is even higher (44%!) than in our Air Mozilla talk last August, due to prevalence of embedded third party content on news sites. You can read the paper here.
This paper is the last artifact of my work at Mozilla, since I left employment there at the beginning of April. I believe that Mozilla can make progress in privacy, but leadership needs to recognize that current advertising practices that enable "free" content are in direct conflict with security, privacy, stability, and performance concerns -- and that Firefox is first and foremost a user-agent, not an industry-agent.
Advertising does not make content free. It merely externalizes the costs in a way that incentivizes malicious or incompetent players to build things like Superfish, infect 1 in 20 machines with ad injection malware, and create sites that require unsafe plugins and take twice as many resources to load, quite expensive in terms of bandwidth, power, and stability.
It will take a major force to disrupt this ecosystem and motivate alternative revenue models. I hope that Mozilla can be that force.
I use the Chrome browser on a Chromebook and a Linux Mint system. I have managed to dispense with Windows entirely. Okay, I still have a Windows machine, but I haven't turned it on for a month.

The Chrome browser runs a noticeably slower on the Linux system. I use it because I think Google carries some stuff around with their browser, stuff that means things work pretty much the same on either the Chromebook or the Linux box. I'm not even sure what it is, I just know that I tried Firefox a couple of times and something didn't work as expected, so fine, I can wait the extra two seconds for Chrome to load.

There is one class of websites that is absolutely horrible in terms of load time, sometimes they never finish. It's just one autostart video after another pageload of crap. I kill them, I don't care what their content is. Usually the content is pretty worthless, celebrity gossip and that kind of thing, so no big loss.

I still don't have a good way of dealing with pictures. I was using Picasa, which was pretty good, but Google changed the way it works when they started Google+. I tried Google+ once a few years ago, didn't like the way Picasa worked, so I switched back and Blogger lost a few hundred of my images, images that I had gone to a lot of trouble to steal all fair and square off of the internet.

I recently decided to go all in with Google, I was just going to have to find a different way of dealing with pictures. But then Military Photos dot net died, and I lost my biggest source of pictures and my biggest time sucker. It was fun while it lasted.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Hand Dancing

Глухой танцор Андрей Драгунов
(A deaf dancer Andrei Dragunov)
Via Southwest Jacob

Credit Cards

V for Vendetta
Marcel has a post up about credit card hacking. My kids use all cards all the time. I try to use cash for incidentals, I don't want to see a long list of transactions at the end of the month that I am supposed to reconcile.
     The worst part is that the credit card companies are like the mafia. They offer you 'protection', but then they charge you for it, sometimes as much as 5%. Now I can see how using credit card transactions can benefit a business. You don't have to spend any time actually handling cash, counting it, transporting it, or losing it. You may not be dealing with a large sum of money, maybe only a couple of hundred dollars, but still, having to take the day's receipts to the bank and picking up change for the next day's business takes time. Plus you don't have to worry about losing your money, like you do with cash.
    So I can see how a business would like to use credit cards. But what the credit card companies are charging is extortion. Credit card companies are all trying to recruit customers with their promises of cash back, but who do you think is paying for those kick-backs? You are. And I'll bet the credit card companies are using every trick in the book to maximize their return and minimize those kick-backs. It might not be something any one person would notice, but one-tenth of one percent of a billion dollars is still a million bucks.
    I'll bet there is well documented phenomena that a certain percentage of those kick-back checks are never cashed, and I'll bet that goes into the executive bonus slush fund as well.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Russian Locos in Portland

Russian gauge track at Oregon Rail Heritage Center
Now I remember how I got started on my last post: Jack and I stopped at the Oregon train museum Monday on account of we were in the neighborhood. They were closed but we hung on the fence and drooled over the thoughts of massive iron machines. Then we noticed a slab of concrete that was sitting next to the path. It looked like an old section of roadway, but why does it have 3 rails embedded in it?

American built locomotives loaded on Russian ships for Vladivostok in Portland harbor Nov. 6, 1944. Larry Barber.
Willamette Iron and Steel Works:
During WWII Willamette assembled over 800 Russian gauge Baldwin steam locomotives and shipped them to Vladivostok. NW Front Ave. in Portland had a short distance of Russian gauge track for the engines to move from the engine house on the west side of Front to the loading dock on the east side of street. These were shipped across the Pacific on USSR flagged ships, since the USSR and the Empire of Japan were not at war. A Porter 0-6-0 was bought from the US Government in Panama to switch the broad gauge track.

UT 1580 Russian Freighter "Felix Dzerzhinsky" 47-46 N 129-53 W 288 7. 1 June 44. 
1851 B.M.T. OR 14321420 . 150 PT. "U.S.C.H". Carrying locomotives.

Casey Jones Goes to War

Veresk Bridge

Mazandaran Savadkooh: View from the Veresk Bridge.
I don't remember what exactly got me started on this, possibly one of Comrade Misfit's posts about steam locomotives. Anyway, I got started rummaging around and discovered this little bit on Schenectady History dot org. Alco is the compact version of "American Locomotive Company".
Alco was also on time in the kind of war story most satisfying to railroad men. The story was told in "Casey Jones Goes to War," by Amy Porter, in Collier's magazine, May 20, 1944:
The Trans-Iranian railroad gave America's soldier railroaders one of the hottest, coldest, toughest jobs they ever had to do. In the critical days of late 1942, Russia called for more supplies. Nazi submarines were crippling the Murmansk convoy route. The Mediterranean was closed to Allied shipping, and although generous supplies were being brought around the tip of Africa and landed at Persian Gulf ports, only a feeble trickle got through to Russia. The inadequately powered Trans-Iranian Railway was the bottleneck.This 650-mile road bisects a 150-mile stretch of desert before it struggles to heights of more than 7,000 feet in the Elburz Mountains. Temperatures range from 170 degrees Fahrenheit in the desert to 40 below in the mountains... There are 225 tunnels, thousands of bridges.
British steam locomotives and even America's 2-8-0's were not powerful enough to negotiate this tortuous road and haul much freight. It took most of their power to carry the coal and water on which they ran. Something had to be done.
At this point American Locomotive Company representatives were called to Washington... Could P. T. Egbert of Alco, Washington wanted to know, get some diesel-electrics over to Iran quick? Mr. Egbert could. And could Alco, by the way, convert the diesel axle arrangement somehow so the Iran road could bear their 120-ton weight? They could.
In the first week of December, twenty-nine diesels with six axles instead of the standard four were delivered at the Persian Gulf-along with a newly recruited American Locomotive shop battalion, eight hundred strong, to play nursemaid to the thousand-horsepower giants. The M.R.S. (Military Railway Service) took over operation of the road, and shipments increased until in May, 1943, Russian requirements in munitions and supplies were exceeded by 18 per cent...
Now a great fleet of diesels and a grand division of M.R.S. troops have the Iran situation well in hand.
Wikipedia has a story article about the Trans-Iranian Railway.
Odd old film, in French, no subtitles: Reza Shah of Iran inaugurates the Trans Iranian Railroad

Costain built 11 miles of the Trans-Iranian Railway, seven tunnels and two viaducts in isolated mountainous terrain - for £1 million.

The Veresk Bridge is right in the center of this map. You will notice how the rail line doubles back, loops around and even crosses itself here. This explains how we can see the viaduct in the second picture from the bridge in the first picture.
    The map is about 9 miles top to bottom. Iran has a green fringe along the shore of the Caspian Sea. This area is right at the southern edge of this green fringe which makes it about 50 miles from the coast.
    I made this map by tracing the railway line in the map version and then changing the base map to the satellite view. The little white blobs are tunnel entrances. There are more tunnels but Google Maps ran out of ink, or memory, or something.

Insurance Snoop

MoneySuperMarket Advert Featuring Snoop Dogg

Got a letter from State Farm Insurance yesterday offering me a discount. All I have to do is give up any thought of ever having any privacy. Like I have any privacy in my current digital lifestyle. They call it in-drive, it plugs into the diagnostic port on your car, the same port that DEQ (Department of Environmental Quality) uses to see if your car is still spewing the recommended daily allowance of carcinogens. I think I'll pass. I have enough entangling alliances as it is, I don't need any more. If I really need to save on insurance I could sell one of my cars, but with daring daughter threatening to come back to the USA maybe I need to keep that extra car for a bit.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


The first time I watched this I was blown away by incredible bike handling. Then I found out it was a video game, so I watched it again. It's hard to tell whether it's real or memorex. The wheely going through ess turn was a bit much, the bike is a little too clean, and the background is a little plain. But dang, it's still hard to tell.