Space the Return

So my faithful followers may have noticed that recently there has been a large amount of NASA and space related content from me. Some people think that this is new, in reality it has been an interest of mine for most of my life. One of the earliest experiences I can recall is watching the launch of the American half of Apollo-Soyuz in July of 1975. It is so clear to me, I even remember the room I was in at home down to the orange carpet.

My grandfather worked as a civilian  at Fort Monmouth as part of the U.S. Army Electronics Command (CECOM), my understanding was in the Electronics Technology Laboratory. I remember us building models of TIROS satellites and talking about how relay communication worked when I was younger. He would share all sorts of stories and technology with me. I even had a jumpsuit like an astronaut that either my mother of grandmother made me. I even remember taking my first plane trip when I was six years old to visit my aunt, uncle, and cousin in the Washington DC area to go to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. From that same summer I remember the MacNeil/Lehrer Report about the Viking landings in 1976. One of the few toys/game I miss from my youth was a puzzle I got at the Smithsonian Air and Space that showed all sorts of facts about flight and space. I used to put that puzzle together all the time. It was not just to put the puzzle together and see the pictures, it had text on it so I could read about the X-15, the Wright brothers, and things in between.

In the early 1980’s I was fanatically following the Space Shuttle Project. I clipped articles and read magazines and covered my walls in articles and pictures. One of the cool things was I once again went and visited my family in the Washington DC area. My aunt worked in the Department of Education and luckily for me happened to be in a shared building with NASA. So that day not only did I get to go to the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum again, I also literally got to walk the halls of NASA. How cool was that. I remember looking at the pictures on the wall and being awe struck. The coolest thing was that my aunt found some posters for me of the Space Shuttle. I mean original when the external tank was white. I also did all the typical space fan things such as building model rockets purchasing telescopes and sky gazing. My grandfather coached me through some math puzzlement so I could learn more.

Then came high school, I can remember sitting in biology class when the Challenger explosion occurred. Literally down to which seat. It was a sad day.

Once NASA got flying again, college and girls started to fill my attention. I was still interested in technology I just did not have as much time. Unfortunately at that point space flight got to be “common place” and I was not following it as much day to day or project to project. Through my job as an audio integrator I got to work on projects at the KSC Visitor’s Center, including the Saturn V Experience. Since I was living in Florida I went to a few launches.

I still watched and read quite a bit about space and space flight, but more of history than current. I read and watched The Right Stuff, From the Earth to the Moon, Lost Moon … etc. So I never lost the interest, I just was not as actively studying it and following. Then a friend of mine got selected to take part in a NASA Tweetup Event for a launch. I started following space more and more. I subscribed to the NASA twitter streams. I started getting the daily news letter. I would stream NASA TV when hockey wasn’t on. It started creeping back in. Heck the last three books I have read are about space.

I kept entering for chances to take part in NASA Socials (the new name for tweetups as it is not just twitter). I kept on not getting selected, however I kept entering as hope spring eternal. Then came the one that I finally got picked for,”Celebrate Kennedy Space Center’s 50 Years of Human Spaceflight“. I would get to see the cool stuff you don’t get to see during the normal tours. I would get to go to the place where the program got off the ground. There was not a moment of hesitation I would be going, the hesitation was how would I pull it off.

The Lovely and Talented Wife (a.k.a. @GentlyMad) said she would help with the driving. Flying was cost prohibitive and driving approximately 20 hours each way on my own did not seem like a good idea.  But it was on, I told the boss I was taking three days off and off we went.

Now comes the back half, digging out from the 1,000+ pictures I took and trying to capture as much of the experience as I can in words. So in the new few days and weeks expect to see heavy amount of space content coming. I expect the trend to continue for a while. Actually to quote the L&T Wife, “I hope the space bug continues”. So if you will excuse me, I have to go pack for another business trip, upload some photos, review some photos, and watch Mars Curiosity landing coverage.


Originally posted: August 5, 2012

Encrypting EMail Everyone

My involvement with the EFF and AVNation have also included comments about privacy: AVNation Privacy & EFF Mail Links.

Something I realized while thinking about this subject is that if one sends very few encrypted e-mails, the ones that are encrypted will stand out in the mail being sent. Now you might wonder what I am doing that requires encrypting. It is more practical than you might think, a simple example is to transmit financial information.

I have an additional reason now, confuse the government and anyone else monitoring traffic. This idea is discussed in Cory Doctorow’s book Little Brother http://craphound.com/littlebrother.The section below is used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 license. This quote below came from line 1826 in the HTML version available on Mr. Doctorow’s website.

“So how come you weren’t on Xnet last night?”
I was grateful for the distraction. I explained it all to him, the Bayesian stuff and my fear that we couldn’t go on using Xnet the way we had been without getting nabbed. He listened thoughtfully.
“I see what you’re saying. The problem is that if there’s too much crypto in someone’s Internet connection, they’ll stand out as unusual. But if you don’t encrypt, you’ll make it easy for the bad guys to wiretap you.”
“Yeah,” I said. “I’ve been trying to figure it out all day. Maybe we could slow the connection down, spread it out over more peoples’ accounts –”
“Won’t work,” he said. “To get it slow enough to vanish into the noise, you’d have to basically shut down the network, which isn’t an option.”
“You’re right,” I said. “But what else can we do?”
“What if we changed the definition of normal?”
And that was why Jolu got hired to work at Pigspleen when he was 12. Give him a problem with two bad solutions and he’d figure out a third totally different solution based on throwing away all your assumptions. I nodded vigorously. “Go on, tell me.”
“What if the average San Francisco Internet user had a lot more crypto in his average day on the Internet? If we could change the split so it’s more like fifty-fifty cleartext to ciphertext, then the users that supply the Xnet would just look like normal.”
“But how do we do that? People just don’t care enough about their privacy to surf the net through an encrypted link. They don’t see why it matters if eavesdroppers know what they’re googling for.”
“Yeah, but web-pages are small amounts of traffic. If we got people to routinely download a few giant encrypted files every day, that would create as much ciphertext as thousands of web-pages.”

My action is a relatively small action and is rather simple to do. However, the fact that it will change the traffic view could be helpful for others. It will prevent other PGP/GPG encrypted traffic from being such an outlier as to be noticed. As EFF posted on Data Privacy Day, privacy is a team sport. There are additional directions for how to do this task at https://ssd.eff.org/, hover over the tutorials section. If you want to test if it worked, My public key identifier is C93A52C6. You can download my public key from directly from my site. I also will freely admit, I am not sure if it will make a difference, but it could not hurt.

I turned it off and on again

After juggling content, navigation, and appearance across multiple sites, I decided to just start over on many of my domains. Yes, I have more domains than I need. I am not counting the domains I maintain at AVNation.tv. In the process I have also started from scratch to prune old content that is no longer relevant. I am still working out the processes and configuration of the multiple sites so check back often as content is loaded.

Thanks

Bradford
July 11,2018 19:00EDT