Evidence that the technologically lame will be forever among us

dogbert

For a society that prides itself on technological savvy, a segment of the Western world seems utterly unable to comprehend one of the simplest concepts concerning Internet security.

SplashData, a California-based provider of password management applications, reports that the most common Internet password held by users in North America and Western Europe in 2014 – once again – was “123456”. Next up was the even less imaginative “password”.

Since SplashData started its study in 2011, “123456” and “password” have been the top two passwords each and every year. This, despite the fact that millions of accounts are hacked annually, technology employed by hackers is constantly improving and countless warnings not to use insipid passwords are issued regularly.

At this point, anyone who goes with “123456” or “password” is all but asking for their information to be stolen. Especially if one goes with “password”. Talk about the height of laziness. You might as well just give your boss your resignation slip, put on a pair of old sweats and call it a career because you aren’t even trying anymore.

Other common passwords included “12345” – for those unable to type in a full six digits – and the ever-so slightly longer “1234567”, “12345678” and “1234567890”. Given that hackers employ computer programs that can run through common passwords in a matter of seconds, using sequential numbers such as the above is barely a step above packaging up your data and mailing it to the bad guys.

Other number-based passwords include “111111” (no need to even move your finger while you type!), “123123”, “696969” and the crafty “abc123” (unimaginative and lazy).

For the technologically indolent who are number-adverse there’s “qwerty”, “letmein” and “access”. Yes, nothing screams “computer whiz” like the password “letmein”. I believe both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs used that for years, although Jobs preferred “letmein1”.

Finally, a couple of other notably bad passwords: “superman” and “batman”.

The above passwords might be understandable if they were taken from a group of 5th graders, but SplashData based its list on more than 3.3 million passwords that were leaked last year. That means a significant number of adults actually thought the “batman” and “abc123” were credible passwords.

No one deserves to be hacked, but some folks sure seem determined to extend an attractive invitation.

Media outlet speculates on what long-lost gun would think, say

winchester rifle

State workers in Nevada’s Great Basin National Park recently came across a Winchester Model 1873 rifle propped against a tree in the desert. It’s unclear how long the rifle had been resting in the desolate location, but from its condition and the fact that it was produced in 1882, it would seem it’s been a long time.

Here’s how CNN began its story about the find:

“If this rifle could talk.”

If that rifle could talk it would probably say something along the lines of “I’m really, really bored” or “Where the hell have you been?”

CNN opted to give the gun a more colloquial tone in its musings:

“In a gravelly voice, it may recite a yarn of weary settlers swaying on horses’ backs in the parched, rocky Nevada wilderness. It may talk about riding in a saddle holster across neighboring Utah more than a decade before it became a state of the union.”

Left out is the possibility that the Winchester’s owner went off to use the bathroom and forgot where he put his gun, or that he got himself so gooned up on cheap firewater that he couldn’t find his horse, never mind his rifle.

Of course, if the rifle could talk, it would be a pretty amazing rifle because none of the rifles, shotguns or handguns I’ve seen or handled has so much as uttered a single word. It would be worth a pretty penny, I’d imagine, whether it was 130-plus years old or not.

CNN goes on to speculate further:

“Who knows how many years the rifle stood there, after someone left behind the model called ‘the gun that won the West.’ Did they have to depart in a hurry – running from danger? Or did they not see it, as it stood neatly camouflaged against the arid trunk of the juniper tree?”

Ah, unfounded speculation, the secret garden of the reporter with space to fill, a deadline to meet and few actual facts.

What is known is that the gun was manufactured and shipped in 1882. The Great Basin National Park staff was able to determine that from the weapon’s model name and serial number, which are still legible.

A couple of facts CNN didn’t have to imagine: The rifle will be conserved in the condition it was found, and it will become part of the display commemorating the park’s 30th birthday in 2016.

No word on whether the Winchester will have a speaking role.

(Top: Winchester Model 1873 rifle found propped against tree in Great Basin National Park. Photo Courtesy: Great Basin National Park.)

A typical summer day in United Kingdom air space

This mesmerizing video shows air traffic during a 24-hour period in the United Kingdom during a typical summer day.

Created by NATS, the UK’s leading provider of air traffic control services, the data visualization shows air traffic coming into, going out of and flying across the UK on a typical summer day.

It was created using real data from 7,000 flights from a day this past June as recorded by radar and air traffic-management systems.

Activity is shown at 800 times faster than real time, according to NATS.

The time runs from midnight to midnight and shows the arrival of early morning traffic coming across the Atlantic in the early hours, the build up through the day and then tapers off into the night before the pattern repeats.

The noticeable difference in flight speeds is likely due to varying speeds of commercial and military aircraft.

(Viewing this in full-screen mode is particularly cool.)

(HT: Carpe Diem)

A lesson in how not to win friends and influence people

cops

One could speculate on how the above made it into a newspaper – mischief, a prank gone awry, subliminal loathing of law enforcement – but of all the mistakes I’ve seen printed in newspapers over the years, and there have been many, this has to take the cake.

The comment was attributed to Hardin County Sheriff John Ward by the Elizabethtown (KY) News-Enterprise in a story that appeared on the front page of paper on Jan. 8. Ward denied making any such comment and stated that what he said was officers go into law enforcement “because they have a desire to serve the community.”

The paper, which retracted the statement, initially called the misquote a typographical error, but later blamed it on a production mistake.

The media blog jimromensko.com investigated and was told that two copy desk staffers – 23 and 32 years old – had been fired.

“One wrote the ‘shoot minorities’ line on the page proof as a joke and the second – in charge of the front page – put it in the story,” according to the blog.

It’s telling that reporter Anna Taylor was not fired. Editor Ben Sheroan explicitly stated in an editorial posted Thursday afternoon that Taylor was not responsible for the mistake.

“A function and process designed to rid the news pages of error instead added a terrible one that altered the reporter’s original sentence,” Sheroan stated. “No reasonable excuse can exist.”

Ward said the interview was conducted with another member of the Hardin County Sheriff’s Office present and there was no part of the interview that mentioned any related comments.

“I have served in law enforcement for 30 years and have never known any officers that had these motives,” he said in post on the department’s Facebook page.

One imagines folks at a certain central Kentucky newspaper have been pouring over their media liability insurance policy quite closely the past day or two.

A whole lot of mid-life crises just got put on hold …

Hoegh Osaka

One can only hope that whoever owns the Hoegh Osaka has plenty of insurance.

The above ship, carrying at more than $50 million worth of high-end cars, was deliberately run aground off the coast of the United Kingdom this past weekend to keep it from capsizing after it began listing dangerously.

While the ship remains afloat, it’s almost certain the 1,400 Jaguars, Land Rovers and BMWs, along with a single $375,000 Rolls-Royce Wraith, aboard the vessel took a beating.

The worst may not be over as winds estimated to reach 50 miles an hour winds are expected to batter the stricken vessel Wednesday. Similar conditions are expected again Friday

The 57,000-ton Hoegh Osaka was run aground between Southampton and the Isle of Wight. It was listing at an angle of 52 degrees as of Sunday night.

The salvage operation, which could take months, cannot begin “in earnest” until the bad weather has passed, according to a spokeswoman for the Maritime & Coastguard Agency.

The cars may have to be scrapped to avoid future legal action, according to The Telegraph.

Authorities take action; remove disabled from SC bunkhouse

leon jones

It appears that Leon Jones, the Newberry, SC, poultry worker profiled in the New York Times earlier this month, was one of a handful of  mentally disabled men taken into protective custody after state officials learned they were being taken advantage of by their employer.

A South Carolina television station reported earlier this week that four unidentified individuals were taken into protective custody by the SC Department of Social Services after they were found living in a bunkhouse while being charged rent rates equivalent to that for a house or nice apartment.

None were identified, but it appears almost certain that Jones was one of the four. Although the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was investigating Jones’ situation, it’s likely the Dec. 6 New York Times story prompted South Carolina authorities to act.

According to the Times, Jones has “an intellectual disability and a swollen right hand that aches from 40 years of hanging live turkeys on shackles that swing them to their slaughter. His wallet contains no photos or identification, as if, officially, he does not exist.”

Born in Texas, Jones was recruited from the Abilene State School, an institution for people with developmental disabilities, “only to wind up living in virtual servitude, without many basic rights,” the publication added.

He is employed as a contract worker by a Texas firm, Henry’s Turkey Services, and hired out to the Kraft Foods plant in Newberry. He had been living in a rundown bunkhouse, sharing space with other workers.

The Times described his spartan living conditions: “His small bed was in a corner, a few feet from a young man wearing a black-knit ‘Jesus’ cap and watching Spanish-language television at a loud volume, and not far from a bathroom with open stalls and a wet floor. Mr. Jones’s locker contained clothes, cowboy boots and a plastic envelope of old cards and letters, the last one from 1992.”

Jones had few amenities and no connection to government services for people with disabilities. He does have a brother, Carl Wayne, but the two haven’t seen each other in at least 40 years because the people who hired them decades ago eventually decided to send Leon to South Carolina and Carl Wayne to the Midwest. The latter is currently in Iowa.

Leon Jones earns $8 an hour. His paychecks, which total about $800 a month, and his Social Security payments, are deposited directly into what the television station called an escrow account, from which the costs of his room and board are deducted.

All told, Jones and the other men would receive $65 a month.

“The problem came in is how their finances were being handled,” Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster told Columbia, SC, television station WACH. “What’s under investigation now is what happened to the rest of that money from the wages that they received.”

Henry’s Turkey Service took advantage of a section of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 that allowed certified employers to pay a sub-minimum wage to workers with a disability.

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What it looks like when a society fails its vulnerable

leon jones

Count your blessings. Be grateful for what you have. Stop and smell the roses. It’s likely most of us have heard all of the above at various time throughout our lives.

Far too often, however, it’s easier to focus on that burr under the saddle, no matter how minute, and bellyache about our problems. That, despite the fact that many of us, in reality, have been dealt a pretty good hand overall.

Just how good is sometimes evident when one is shown how the “other half,” for lack of a better term, lives.

The New York Times earlier this month ran a story about Leon Jones, a 64-year-old poultry worker who lives and works just up the road from me in Newberry, SC.

If you’re looking for someone who has a good reason to be less than happy with his lot in life, Jones would seem to be a good candidate.

According to the Times’ story, Jones has “an intellectual disability and a swollen right hand that aches from 40 years of hanging live turkeys on shackles that swing them to their slaughter. His wallet contains no photos or identification, as if, officially, he does not exist.”

Born in Texas, Jones was recruited from the Abilene State School, an institution for people with developmental disabilities, “only to wind up living in virtual servitude, without many basic rights,” the publication added.

He is employed as a contract worker and hired out to the Kraft Foods plant in Newberry. He lives in a rundown bunkhouse, sharing space with itinerant workers, many of whom come and go with the seasons.

The Times described his “home” thus: “His small bed was in a corner, a few feet from a young man wearing a black-knit ‘Jesus’ cap and watching Spanish-language television at a loud volume, and not far from a bathroom with open stalls and a wet floor. Mr. Jones’s locker contained clothes, cowboy boots and a plastic envelope of old cards and letters, the last one from 1992.”

In short, Jones has few amenities and no connection to government services for people with disabilities. He does have a brother, Carl Wayne, but the two haven’t seen each other in at least 40 years because the people who hired them decades ago eventually decided to send Leon to South Carolina and Carl Wayne to the Midwest. The latter is currently in Iowa.

Leon Jones earns $8 an hour. His paychecks, which total about $800 a month, and his Social Security payments, are deposited directly into an “association” account, from which the costs of his room and board are deducted.

I found the story unsettling and heart-rending. Given that Newberry is just 30 minutes north of my own home, I decided to see if I could locate Leon Jones.

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