Sunday, May 18, 2008

Security Issues Solved!

From the review of the Yoggie Gatekeeper SOHO Network Security Server:

Features Complete protection: Yoggie Gatekeeper SOHO offers corporate-grade security for your small office or home network. Protect up to five computers with 13 built-in security packages packed inside a small, palm-size, Linux-based security server. No additional software needed: No need to purchase or manage additional security software for your PC’s—just plug the Yoggie Gatekeeper SOHO into your Internet router and your computers are completely safe. Parental controls: Yoggie Gatekeeper SOHO manages the security from outside the child’s computer. Through an intuitive remote management environment you can enforce web content filtering policies, and control on-line time, without actually accessing the child’s computer. Easy to install and use: With Yoggie Gatekeeper SOHO you don’t have to be a security expert to enjoy corporate-level security. All you have to do is simply plug the Yoggie device into your network router and you are completely safe. It even feature automatic security updates and upgrades, so you don’t have to worry about downloads. Not once, but twice this review says that the user is "completely safe." Additionally, Circuit City begins the review with the phrase "complete protection." Finally a security device that offers complete protection! I can discard any other devices, software, or processes I have in place--Yoggie has it covered! To be fair, it appears that this is a stateful firewall and a proxy for a number of popular protocols. It probably does a fine job, but it certainly doesn't completely secure a network. Indeed, if a naive user believes reviews such as the one at, it's likely to make the network less secure. Unfortunately, the Yoggie site itself says "Connect your laptop to any hotspot without security-related concerns." So now I can send personal information over unencrypted wireless LANs with no security concerns? Another troubling thing is that one of the review sites says that software updates are free for a year, and an eBay seller mentions a three-year subscription. That raises red flags, and I can't find any mention of subscription prices or durations on the Yoggie site. The Circuit City page gives essentially no information beyond the market-speak given above. Amazon's description is roughly the same as Circuit City's "review," lending credence to my impression that the "review" was written by a marketer. Yoggie also provides something called the layer 8 security engine [sic]...

Monday, May 12, 2008

OTA DTV in Catonsville

I've been transitioning to over-the air digital TV with my $12 converter box (the feds paid $40 of the cost). As of the weekend I had mixed feelings because stations were coming in well when the antenna was oriented correctly, but the antenna had to be reoriented for different stations, and sometimes it wasn't easy. I spent maybe 90 minutes online tonight reading about and shopping for antennas, and came close to buying a new one. A reviewer at Crutchfield said that he got much better reception when he moved his antenna away from the TV. My antenna--a several-year-old amplified Radio Shack model--was sitting on the TV. Made sense--this was higher than most anything else in the living room I could set it on, and my dad always put the rabbit ears on top of the set, at least up till when we got cable in the early '70s or so. So I looked at the setup, and moved the antenna into my bay window. I also visited to get vectors to the various TV stations (most are at 56 degrees 5.2 or 5.3 miles, but a couple are at 291 degrees 2.1 miles, and MPT is at 174 degrees 19.7 miles. I can't say I used that info in a particularly deductive sense: my antenna's pointed vaguely NW and I'm getting good signal strength for every station I want. Stinking amazing. I'm getting the best picture I've ever gotten on that old RCA TV, and the lineup's pretty complete: ABC (2.1, 2.2, and 2.3), NBC (11.1 and .2), CBS (13.1), MPT (22.1, 22.2, and 22.3 in Spanish), Fox 45.1 and 45.2 CW 54.1 This is pretty good without cable, and with a clarity I'm not at all used to.

Monday, May 5, 2008

73% of All Statistics are Made Up

Gapminder ( is a wonderful little tool to allow one to plot a variety of different statistics for whatever set of countries one pleases. I don't know where they get their data, but it's interesting.

Google Web History

It turns out that Google saves all of one's search history at . Google associates this with our GMail accounts, for those of us with GMail, so
  • The search history is explicitly tied to the person, and not anonymized.
  • We can delete it and "pause" it, which appears to be effectively an opt-out.
This is an opt-out service, not opt-in. How much of a violation of privacy is this "feature," collecting data unbeknownst to the user? That depends:
  • How does Google use it?
  • How good is Google's security?
  • How good is any given user's password security?