More Junkmail from Bob!

November 21, 2016
Important Stuff.

Satellite Internet

Spacex submitted an application with the FCC to launch some communications satellites. This doesn't seem too unusual, since satellite launching is the primary business of SpaceX.

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SpaceX even lands rockets occasionally.


SpaceX's application for satellites is unusual, though, because they aren't planning to launch just a couple of satellites. They're planning to launch 4,425 satellites into low earth orbits, for global internet service. The satellites will go into 4 orbital distances between 715 and 823 miles. This will solve the latency problem of internet from Hughes geostationary satellites.

If things go right, these should be operational in about 5 years after a $10 billion investment.

Boeing is also planning a 1,000 satellite constellation for internet service.

Rocket Science

Don't forget! 32,767 is the largest 16-bit signed integer (two's complement). It may not be rocket science, but it should be.

In June, 1996 the Ariane 5 rocket was launched for the first time. It went out of control due to an integer overflow and was blown up.
Ariane-501_explosion.jpg ...

The Hottest Place in the World

Libya used to hold the record for the world's hottest recorded temperature (136°F, September 13, 1922 in El Azizia), but it was declared invalid in 2012. ...

That leaves Furnace Creek Ranch in Death Valley, California as the record holder, with 134°F in 1913.

However, that record may also be invalid. ...

Next in line? It could be Kebili, Tunisia, July 1931, but the place with the hottest accurately recorded temperature is still Death Valley at 129°F, recorded on July 7, 2007, July 20, 2005, July 18, 1998, and July 20, 1960.

Death Valley, June 8, 2016. The temperature hit 120°F. ...

Incidentally, weather does not equal climate. The temperature at a particular location is a weather event, not climate change. A single hurricane or a season full of hurricanes does not necessarily indicate global warming. The hurricanes cover a very small percentage of the earth's surface. These changes in max recorded temperature provide zero evidence of climate change, one way or the other.

However, 20 of the globally warmest years on record have occurred in the past 35 years, and 10 of those were in the last 12 years. This, together with a 6.7" average sea level rise, Arctic sea ice decline, Antarctic and Greenland ice sheet decline, and widespread glacial retreats provide definite evidence of significant global warming. You can ignore the facts, and you can hide the facts, but if you change the facts they are no longer facts. (Hint: Don't get your facts from Facebook. Or your advertising data , for that matter.)

The Hackers of Madison County

Madison County, Indiana is northeast of Indianapolis, with a population of around 130,001 humans and a couple of Martians. Anderson is the county seat.

Someone slipped some malware into the county's computer system a few weeks ago. Around the first week of November, the county woke up to a whole bunch of computers that were not computing. The malware encrypted the hard drives of just about every system except voting and emergency services.

The hackers were nice enough to offer to decrypt the county's data, for the low, low price of $28,000. The insurance company offered to reimburse the county for the ransom (less deductable) and recommended that they pay up. So Madison County paid the hackers around $28,000, thereby encouraging more ransomware hacks.

Lisa, the head of the county's IT department was apologetic and offered to resign. Just kidding! She actually said this happened because her department needs more money and more employees, and is paying $17,500 to a computer support group to rid the county computers of malware. Maybe someone should explain to Lisa the fun and benefits of remote backups. Then she might not need all those additional employees.

In fairness to Lisa, other organizations around the world as well as in the U.S. enjoy the intangible benefits of ransomware. Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center paid $17,000 for a ransomware encryption key, and Methodist Hospital in Henderson, Kentucky paid off ransomware hackers. In addition, Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore managed to run some ransomware.

One study claims that more than half the companies in the U.K. have been hit by ransomware demands. This study was commissioned by Malwarebytes, so it could be a little biased. Even so, Malwarebytes is pretty good security software.

You, too, can get into the ransomware business! Just buy a kit on an underground forum and follow directions. You might want to move to Russia or Spavinaw or somewhere with lax law enforcement, because the U.S. has some pretty stiff penalties for hacking.

Our legislators do not like what they don't understand.

For example, a programmer named Eric faces more jail time than the rapists he exposed. A guy named Justin, who exposed false encryption claims by Dentrix dental software, was arrested in a raid on his home by 12-15 FBI agents at 6:30 am. The arrest isn't so bad, but getting the poor guy up at 6:30 in the morning borders on cruel and inhuman punishment! ...


Check out Jairus McDonald's music (Terre and Mark's toddler). He said, "Somebody let me and my dudes muck about with instruments in a beautiful late 1500's Mexican convent." They're good!

Obligatory xkcd

It's a small, small world

Some good macro photos:

In a slightly less small world, this alien invader was on the back porch in October. It's about 4.5 feet tall and 8 feet long. (Or maybe it was a fly called "Delphinia picta" and about 7 mm long.)


How the DNC was hacked

The short version is that used gmail, and hackers sent a bunch of emails to DNC staffers, supposedly from gmail, with a link to a fake Google login site. This generated about 20 clicks on the fake links, and most likely several login attempts (in which the gmail password is disclosed to the hackers). Similar emails were also sent to DNC personal gmail accounts, generating about 40 clicks to the fake links. ...

Pictures of Today!

Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine USS Henry M. Jackson in Puget Sound, February 2016

The moon, taken by the Chinese Chang'e 3 lander in 2013. This is a hi-res image.

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Apollo 15 launch

The Apollo 15 Command/Service Module as viewed from the Lunar Module

Jim Irwin with the Lunar Roving Vehicle on the Apollo 15 mission

This image is at the eastern edge of a very large deposit of wind-blown dust that occupies Ganges Chasma, taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. It's pretty high resolution.

A true color photo of Mars lander Curiosity, taken by Curiosity. (They used stitching to get rid of the arm in the photo.) It's pretty high resolution.

This is a really funny screen shot, at least to me, which inevitably means it's funny to very few other humans. This is a news article about how news sites are becoming worthless, having nothing but click bait articles. The funny part is the click bait link next to the article: "How one programmer broke the internet by deleting a tiny piece of code."

Lightning flashes per year, across the globe.

GOES-R, the next generation weather satellite, launched Saturday.

Ride share, from my back porch -- a phantom midge on top of an earwig.