Mar 092013

This week the TSA announced a policy change that would allow travelers to carry small pocket knives on planes, and that change has been greeted by outrage in the media.  The TSA is making the change to allow screeners to focus more on more serious threats, like explosives.  I’m quite surprised to see the reaction by the media – interviews seem to be clearly stacked with people who disagree with the change, quoting people says that they will not feel safe on planes any longer.  Industry organizations, like the flight attendants’ union, pilots’ union, and even the CEO of Delta Airlines have been writing public letters to the TSA asking them to reconsider, saying that the change will do little to improve security and will have a marked impact on crew and passenger safety (due to the knives being allowed on planes).

Now, I am pretty skeptical that the TSA would be able to detect explosives, regardless of whether knives are allowed or not.  However, it seems to me that the TSA ought be looking at previous instances of knife attacks prior to 2001 to determine if there are indeed reasons to warrant keeping the ban in place.  As someone who travels frequently, I can tell you that the ban is pretty frustrating and inconvenient, and I have a hard time imagining a scenario where such a small knife could be used to inflict harm inside or outside of a plane.

 Posted by at 11:35 pm  Tagged with:
Jan 152012

A few weeks ago, I first heard about the Nest thermostat a few weeks ago.  It is slick to say the least.  Nest has brought sex appeal to the thermostat.  Wifi, web programmable, updatable firmware, intelligence to learn how to best heat and cool your house – it’s sweet.

Being a security guy, I started wondering how hackable they are…  Can I go driving around and penetrate the Nest devices and have a giant bot net of spamming, DDOSing thermostats?  While interesting, that’s passe.  I’m sure we’ll get into the habit of rebooting our thermostats on patch Tuesday.  Maybe there will be a new industry of A/V for such things as well.

What intrigues me more is that the thermostat is not just a thermostat any more.  Previously just a box on the wall that would likely serve reliably for decades, the unassuming thermostat is being replaced with a miniature computer, who’s software, hardware and protocols will become obsolete with time.  We are signing up to add another device to the growing mountain of disposable devices – our phones, our PC’s, our TV’s, DVD players, ipods, ipads all desire to be replaced on short intervals, but those are entertainment devices.  We’re now adding a key infrastructure element of our house to that list.

Don’t misunderstand – I am going to be forking out some serious money when they are available to order again, but it’s depressing to know that I’ll be eagerly looking to replace them in 3 years with the latest model that has some new killer application.

Aug 032008

There are several simple but effective SEO tricks to optimizing a Simple Machines forum.


First, is the URL structure. Search engines value the descriptiveness of a URL. By default, SMF uses URL’s that are worthless for SEO. An SMF mod, called Pretty URLs, will rewrite your URLs to be far more useful for a search engine. Pretty URLs is very simple to install, but a common problem is to ensure that .htaccess is writable, and that the root directory is writable.

Notice the difference (these links all go to the same post):

  • Default SMF URLs:
  • Search Engine Friendly URLs:,2969.0.html
  • Pretty URLs:

Pretty URLs use the title of the post topic as part of the URL.  This will help search engines to properly classify the page and build a stronger connection between the the page and the title of the post in search results.

Continue reading »

 Posted by at 7:45 pm