Did You Survive DST? The difference in US/EU time difference is the one to watch

Hopefully everyone's technology handled DST okay last night. I got a last minute reminder to update my Treo 650 which was handled very smoothly.

I already blogged the US/EU disconnect elsewhere, but it is worth repeating here, especially for people working trans-Atlantic, which I happen to be at the moment.

I am working on a security project for a fairly large UK company, together with someone from California, as part of a team based in London. The "DST offset" makes figuring flight times and setting up conference calls tricky.

This particular project will be over before the Autumn, but check out the time lag that happens in October of this year. New York goes six hours behind London, and of course that puts LA a full nine hours behind...which is darned inconvenient. When you have a London office meeting at 4PM and that is 7AM for LA, some folks are going to be sleepy from a hard day's work and others will be dozy from a hard day's night.

So, has anyone calculated the supposed energy savings of this whole fiasco, versus the technology upgrade costs?

Still Confused About US v. EU DST? Maybe this will help you

I made a small chart to help me with this problem of the time change changes between the US and the EU. I am working on a project for a British company right now and traveling between the US and the UK so I wanted a quick way to check when the time in London will be 4 versus 5 hours difference.

I printed it out small enough to fit in my wallet. Don't know if this makes me sound memory-deficient, but I am finding it really hard to keep track of this one.

I am certainly not looking forward to the week in the Fall where London will be 6 hours different. Or next Spring when the shift will last for three weeks.

At least I got all my hardware upgrades to handle the switch.

Hot Week for Art Events: Starring friends of mine!

Wow! It's not often that two seriously hot art events featuring personal friends go down in the same week. But that's what's happening this week, and so here they are:

The Photon Ballet, Tuesday, March 13th, Hollywood, California. Featuring numerous pioneering digital artists including our good friends Michael Masucci and Kate Johnson of EZTV Media. In fact, EZTV is co-producing the event with Microsoft and Maxxon. This promises to be an awesome event to mark the 25th Anniversary of the LA branch of SIGGRAPH. Time and ticket info is here.

TELOORIKA: Thursday, March 15, the Embassy of Argentina in Washington, DC cordially invites you to the first art show to be hold simultaneously at the Embassy and in the virtual metaverse Second Life, created by our good friend Socorro Villa. For our Spanish readers, check out this very interesting discussion of the show's origins. Soco is a wonderful and uplifting artist (not surprising since she is also a wonderful and uplifting person).


A Classic Hatteras For Sale: Sad but true

That day has finally come, the one where the boat owners realize they just don't have the time (or energy) to enjoy their boat, in this case a gorgeous 36 foot Hatteras convertible, built by AMF in 1983 and as solid a motor yacht as you could ever want to sail on, sleep on, fish from, cruise in.

Sadly my wife's health just isn't what it used to be and, since she is the captain of the boat and I am just the lowly deck hand, the boat has got to go. You will find some nice pics at a web site I just created: hatterasforsale.net and a mirror at hatterasyachts.net. The sites are identical and have links to the broker handling the sale, A1A Yacht Brokers of St. Augustine. the boat is moored at the fun and funky Oyster Creek Marina. Asking price is $79,900.

Cool New Car Ideas Part Two: Tilt and glide

I recently mentioned a Yahoo group devited to titling cars in the Gyro Car blog. Here are two examples. The first is Carver. This vehicle--shown from the rear in the shot on the left--has a power unit with two wheels at the rear plus a body for driver and one passenger. The front 'people module' has one wheel and is linked to the drive unit in a way that allows it to lean in corners.

This design offers great aerodynamic potential and an amazing driving experience if the cool videos on the web site are anything to go by. So, you get the design possibilities of a three wheeler with a lot less chance of tipping over.

Second up in this post is BMW's Clever, which looks a lot like the Carver. I'm not implying anything by this, and BMW has plenty of cred in the alternative [and less than 4 wheels] vehicle space, notably with the C1. It would seem that something both designs have in common is the ability to alter the power source/drive train fairly easily. In other words, the vehicle consists of two main parts: the driver/passenger module and the drive unit. These are connected by the tilting mechanism. As alternative fuels and more efficient motors come online, it would seem that this design is well-placed to implement them quickly.

What is not entirely clear from either the Carver or Clever sites is how you would go about buying one of these vehicles. I realize that there are huge hurdles between a working prototype and a street legal vehicle. Crash testing and emissions being the two big ones I would think. Does anyone know if there is a category of road vehicle equivalent to the experimental aircraft? That would seem to make sense at a time like this, when rapid improvement and innovation in vehicle design and efficiency could reap huge dividends for the environment and global politics, not to mention driving fun.

The last item for this post, the Loremo, looks more conventional, but is actually quite radical. It has four wheels, but is very light in weight. Together with excellent aerodynamics this yields over 100 miles per US gallon. The light weight is achieved with space age materials and a design that features no side doors. Apparently this results in much greater cabin strength at lower weight.

The driver and front passenger step into the car from the front. The entire dashboard and steering wheel lift up. The rear passengers enter at the rear through a large hatch-back. Check out the web site for more photos.

Again, not clear when you will be able to buy one, but if I was an oil-dependent sheik, I'd be worried that designs like these are well-advanced and threatening to cut gasoline consumption as they become street legal.

Have Banks Screwed the Pouch in the Affordable (Sub-Prime) Housing Market?

Of course, I am using "screw the pouch" in the technical sense of "really made a rotten mess of." Here's the Washington Post waving a warning flag a few days ago:
Is a blowout taking shape in the impaired-credit mortgage market? Could lax underwriting standards during the housing boom years--no verification of applicants' incomes or assets, low or no down payments, and big mortgages to people already saddled with heavy consumer debt--finally be coming home to roost? Post article.
I think the answer is going to be yes. And who will pay the price? The people who need the banks the most right now, people who are trying to buy an affordable place to live before prices take another up-tick. Already we are seeing the negative impact on people's lives (in this case "we" is me and my construction business partner, master builder Don Davino). And here's what we see: People come and look at the homes we are selling (you can look here).

Quite a lot of these people like the houses and ask the real estate agent what kind of income they will need to pay the mortgage. Many figure out they can afford it and head to the bank. And the bank would love to help BUT, oh dear, there is now huge pressure on banks to avoid loans with anything but perfect credentials. So people who can afford a relatively small mortgage--and have a huge incentive to keep current with their payments--can't get one because they don't have unblemished credit.

Come on! Who does? Particularly in a sector of the market where buyers often lack credit history altogether or are emerging from a period of financial strain. So, because some banks screwed up in their greed for business, consumers are penalized. And the economy, which could use an up-tick in home sales, suffers too.

You might think "negative impact on people's lives" is a bit over-dramatic. I don't. Renting is still more expensive than buying and buying is a great way for families to cement their long-term financial security. If the next rising tide in property prices does not raise everyone's fortunes, including those suffering from the "sub-prime pouch screwing fallout," potentially dangerous gaps in social equity will continue to widen.

Clickcaster Works: A real sign that broadband and streaming are taking us to the next level

Lately I've been playing with ClickCaster, a site that offers free pod-casting and video-casting facilities. So far I am very impressed. Making and publishing a podcast was amazingly easy. You can hear the results here.

In less than 4 weeks I have had 250 feed views, 44 downloads, and 30 subscribers. That's for just my first two podcasts (statistics are one of the many nice things about Clickcaster).

Unfortunately I caught a really nasty cold about two weeks ago and really lost momentum with my recordings (yep, da cold wad dat bad id blocked my dose and bade my voice sound fuddy). I hope to put out some more podcasts mid-March.

To anyone who was experimenting with the web ten years ago over a 28Kbps modem, the ability to record good quality audio to a web site and instantly stream it is just so, well it almost chokes you up. All the elements have been around for a long time, but now they are coming together, very nicely in the case of ClickCaster.

Security Issues? Head to scobbs.blogspot.com

Right now I am trying to keep my security insights separate from my technology rants and raves. So if you are looking for security postings they are now at scobbs.blogspot.com. That will allow me to keep stuff like the electric loo separate from more serious issues like threats to data and privacy. After all, some things are more serious than others. I mean, getting sprayed in the face by an electric toilet might seem very threatening at the time, especially when you haven't slept for 24 hours. But it is not likely to usher in the end of the Internet as we know. Is it?

p.s. scobbs.blogspot.com now has several free security and privacy podcasts.

Oh So Wrong: Palettes of money shipped to Iraq

Yes folks, those are bricks of US cash stacked on palettes headed to Iraq.

How did Paul Bremer manage to lose $12 billion in cash in Iraq? Well it is doubtful anyone could keep track of cargo planes full of cash. Can you say checkbook, wire transfer, paper trail? No sane or honest government goes to the Federal Reserve Bank and requests 281 million individual bills, mainly $100 bills, packed into bricks worth $400,000 each.

Most Americans make sure they have no more than $50 on cash on their person when they are headed to a rough part of town. There can't be a citizen alive who thinks it makes sense to take 363 tons of cash into a war zone (yes, 792,000 pounds in weight).

And this didn't happen yesterday, this happened years ago. Somehow the Republican congress of 2005-2006 managed to let this slip by without so much as raising an eyebrow. I dread to think what else we will learn in trhe coming months. We already know that hundreds of computers were torched by US contractors because they were "the wrong kind." That practically new semi-trucks were destroyed by contractors just because they lacked oil filters or spare tires. That scores of SUVs were leased at $7,000 per month for contractors, many of whom never drove them. That, that...aaargh! Enough! Why is there not an uprising of fiscal conservatives barricading the Fed and calling for heads to roll!

The Airport Gate Number Rule

I've been doing quite a bit of flying lately and ran into a somewhat trivial but sometimes vexing rule that I first formulated many years ago when I was traveling extensively for InfoSec Labs and Rainbow Technologies:
Whatever gate number has been assigned to your connecting flight it will be a long way from where you are.
For example, you fly into Atlanta, Terminal B, connecting to O'Hare from gate C1. That is C1 out of 36 gates numbered C1 to C36. Great, a low gate number! Then you find that C1 is actually at the far end of C terminal. What you really wanted was C20 or C30. You get into O'Hare and find your connecting gate is G30. Could it be? A handy gate? No, G30 is as far from your arrival gate as you can get and still be in G terminal. And even when you make it all the way to the end of a foreign terminal, and all the signs are mercifully in English, things can still be pretty confusing. I took this photo at Seoul's Incheon airport, an otherwise wonderful airport (the cleanest, quietest, least crowded I have been to).