Coupons and EpiPens

High prices for life saving medicine isn't cool. So how could it get worse? Try the blatant misuse of coupons (or "savings cards") to cover up and hide the extortionate pricing of medicine. You've probably heard about by now the EpiPen fiasco. It's an Epinephrine autoinjector sold by Mylan. Epinephrine is the only treatment for a severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis, which affects up to 1 in 50 Americans. If left untreated can be fatal.

Mylan raised the price from $57 in 2007 to over $600 in 2016. The SEC filings for Mylan show that CEO Heather Bresch's compensation package jumped from $2,453,456 in 2007 to $18,931,068 in 2015 (a 671% increase). All this to deliver a dose of Epinephrine worth about a dollar. Now they've been publicly shamed, they're offering a promotional "savings card" to appease the sickly masses. Except it's a bit worse and much more insidious than this.

MacBook Pro 2011-2013 Warranty Extended

A couple of weeks ago my 2011 MacBook Pro died. Well, not quite died, but the video stopped working which amounts to the same thing. Both the screen and external monitors exhibited severe monochromatic lines and ghosting of said lines. It wasn't pretty. It wasn't even art. It was infuriating as it was outside of the AppleCare warranty, plus this had happened once before and had been repaired.

Why Young Women Support Bernie

Some people are having a hard time understanding why women, especially young women, are passing over the female Democrat candidate for an elderly white haired guy. Gloria Steinem says "When you’re younger, you think: ‘Where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie.’" while Madeleine Albright says "Just remember, there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other."

Simply put, young women supporting Sanders would say they prefer him to Clinton because they prefer his approach to politics. - Michelle Hackman

There are three articles you need to read, by modern feminists, to understand why Steinem and Albright are dead wrong...

Gotta love the doorlocks...

I'm an idiot. No really. This web page has been down for last 3 weeks because SELinux apparently works. Visitors to this page were met with the following message after rebooting the server:

PDOException: SQLSTATE[HY000] [2003] Can't connect to MySQL server on 'my-database.amazonaws.com' (13) in lock_may_be_available() (line 167 of /var/www/html/includes/lock.inc).

Read on to find out how to fix it...

It's time to buy a Glowforge (and save $100)

Glowforge

If you haven't read my rants about advertising and ad blockers, you should. Rarely does an ad convince me ever to buy something, but recently something managed to get around the ad blocks and filters to appear in front of me, and I screamed out "Take My Money!!!" Yeah. They got me. They got me really good.

I blame Dan Shapiro...

Why you need ad blocking tools

Advertising

Ad blocking tools have become popular in the recent months, especially with Apple allowing ad blocking apps in IOS. Having been a dot com pioneer in advertising, I'm going to delve into the realities of ads and ad blocking. It's not pretty, and it will no doubt upset some people in the ad industry.

But first, let me tell you a little story...

Well... it's been a while...

It's been a while since I put anything up here. Things got really busy in 2014. We moved the servers around and things were offline for a while thanks to a security upgrade that got delayed by life. Oh yes, and we had another baby. That was a year ago. Babies are much more fun and much, much messier than servers and blogs. Now I've found a few hours to put this back online.

It shall be all downhill from here... :)

Formula One Engine Noise

A open letter to Jean Todt, president of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA),

Dear Jean,

I have some experience in the world of sound, both as a musician and a record producer. I also have some experience attending Formula 1 races. Regarding the recent criticism of the new rules and lack of loudness of the F1 cars, I applaud the reduction in engine noise levels for this season, and I think Luca Di Montezemolo's analysis that it is the "music of the engine, not the noise" that needs to be addressed is spot on. But louder is not better.

Heartbleed on Tumblr

Heartbleed bug

The surreal world that is the United States Intelligence Community has recently released a statement over the Heartbleed vulnerability as a rebuttal to an article from Bloomberg. The government's statement is as follows:

Reports that NSA or any other part of the government were aware of the so-called Heartbleed vulnerability before April 2014 are wrong. The Federal government was not aware of the recently identified vulnerability in OpenSSL until it was made public in a private sector cybersecurity report.

There are a number of issues I'd like to point out from this (aka the bleedin' obvious)...

How I've been waiting 20-years for the Coupons.com IPO

Tomorrow, March 7th 2014, is the scheduled IPO for Coupons.com, Inc. For those interested (or not), here's my 10 cents on why the SEC filing is a little on the conservative side (they always are). It says Coupons.com, Inc. has never been profitable since they began in 1998. While that's true, it isn't completely true. In another lifetime, Coupons.com was once profitable, under the brand name CouponNet, and I have every confidence that Coupons.com, Inc. will be profitable too.

20 years-ago, I registered a couple of domain names - Coupon.com and Coupons.com. In fact, I had to fight hard to register Coupons.com because, back in 1994, Network Solutions were only registering one domain name per applicant. After carefully explaining that coupons.com was the plural of coupon.com, and that Network Solutions would find themselves with an intellectual property dispute if they registered it to someone else, they reluctantly registered the domain name to me. In December of 1994, I put the first downloadable coupon on the web, which was for a British pub in the Los Angeles area (not exactly a surprise for those of you who know me).

It's time to break up the NSA

Bruce Schneier says that the NSA is too big and powerful and that it's time to break up the agency:

Broadly speaking, three types of NSA surveillance programs were exposed by the documents released by Edward Snowden. And while the media tends to lump them together, understanding their differences is critical to understanding how to divide up the NSA's missions.

http://edition.cnn.com/2014/02/20/opinion/schneier-nsa-too-big/index.html

Tags: 

American Bar Association Wakes Up

In an earlier blog post, I covered the effect of the NSA on the attorney/client relationship. Now the American Bar Association has woken up and is taking the matter seriously. Apparently, it took the revelations that the NSA was spying on an American law firm in order for the ABA to put on their super hero cape and type up a letter.

Airlines & Guitars

Yes. You can fly with your guitar as carry-on. And it's the law. In 2012, President Obama signed into law the ‘‘FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012,’’ which, along with provisions for enhancing runway safety and easing restrictions on transporting lithium batteries, contains the following text:

SEC. 403. MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS.
(a) IN GENERAL—Subchapter I of chapter 417 is amended by adding at the end the following:

‘‘§ 41724. Musical instruments
‘‘(a) IN GENERAL—
‘‘(1) SMALL INSTRUMENTS AS CARRY-ON BAGGAGE.—An air carrier providing air transportation shall permit a passenger to carry a violin, guitar, or other musical instrument in the aircraft cabin, without charging the passenger a fee in addition to any standard fee that carrier may require for comparable carry-on baggage, if—

‘‘(A) the instrument can be stowed safely in a suitable baggage compartment in the aircraft cabin or under a passenger seat, in accordance with the requirements for carriage of carry-on baggage or cargo established by the Administrator; and

‘‘(B) there is space for such stowage at the time the passenger boards the aircraft.

Chaos Computer Club files criminal complaint against German Government

On Monday, the Chaos Computer Club (CCC) and the International League for Human Rights (ILMR), have filed a criminal complaint with the Federal Prosecutor General's office. The complaint is directed against the German federal government, the presidents of the German secret services, namely Bundesnachrichtendienst, Militärischer Abschirmdienst, Bundesamt für Verfassungschutz, and others.

Wattkins Universal PCB

Wattkins.com Universal PCB

The Wattkins Universal PCB is one of the basic building blocks for building a guitar amplifier with up to four vacuum tubes. It supports most amp designs (it started out life as a Fender 5E3 Tweed Deluxe), including support for Paraphase, Cathodyne and Long Tail Pair phase inverter as well as Cathode or Fixed Bias. As well as the more common 12AX7 & EF86 pre-amp tubes, it also supports Russian pre-amp tubes such as 6N2P & 6J32P with the heaters on pins 4 & 5. Output tubes supported include 6V6, 6L6 and 5881.

Your Fridge is Full of SPAM...

How the "Internet of Things" is going to make your life simpler, easier, and more worry-free. I jest, of course... your home appliances will need cyber-security...

Over the December holidays, one of our researchers discovered proof of a much-theorized but we believe never before seen in the wild security breach.

It's not just banking apps...

You thought the news about banking apps was bad. Well, it's not just the banking apps...

The Starbucks mobile app, the most used mobile-payment app in the U.S., has been storing usernames, email addresses and passwords in clear text, Starbucks executives confirmed late on Tuesday (Jan. 14). The credentials were stored in such a way that anyone with access to the phone can see the passwords and usernames by connecting the phone to a PC. No jailbreaking of the phone is necessary. And that clear text also displays an extensive list of geolocation tracking points (latitude, longitude), a treasure trove of security and privacy gems for anyone who steals the phone.

So You Thought Your Personal Banking App Was Secure...

IOActive have just published a report covering the security of online banking apps for mobile devices. They found that:

  • 90% of the apps they tested had security vulnerabilities.
  • 70% of the apps offered no support at all for two-factor authentication.
    This is where a third token is used for extra security in addition to the user name and password. It could be a picture identification, a pin code, or one-time password sent via SMS (text message) to the user.
  • 40% of the apps accepted any SSL certificate for secure HTTP traffic.
    This is a major issue as it completely invalidates the chain of trust between you and your bank, and allows anyone to misdirect you to a phishing site, for example while you are using an untrusted network such as a Wi-Fi hotspot. The magnitude of this issue is that you cannot detect this happening, and there's nothing you can do to stop it.

You thought your browser was secure...

[Update: 4th Feb 2014 - Firefox 27 enables TLS 1.1 and 1.2 by default now]

If you think your web browser is secure, think again. If you run over to How's My SSL?, you will get a quick summary of what your browser looks like to the outside world.

Even if you keep up with the current release version, you'll be surprised to find your browser will probably get the following report:

Your SSL client is Bad.

Why? Because the latest security features in your browser includes may be installed disabled.

Remember those Cookies???

I briefly mentioned in a previous blog post the tracking capabilities of cookies, and how cookies can be used to do things like scan networks behind firewalls. Well, the documentation has now surfaced of how the NSA uses one particular Google cookie to track users and determine who to target for closer surveillance (i.e. attacks with software exploits).

Single Payer Health Insurance

Vermont has started Single Payer health care. This article, from 2011, aptly sums it up: Vermont Passes Single-Payer Health Care, World Doesn't End.

Americans have a problem understanding anything that doesn't fit squarely within the Democrat/Republican ideology, and the media ensures the dialog remains polarized. Fortunately, Vermont has Bernie Sanders, an Independent, to go to bat for them in the Senate. His famous quote on the subject is "if you are serious about real healthcare reform, the only way to go is single-payer."

Nashville Tuning

"Nashville tuning" is where the high strings from a 12-string guitar are put on a regular 6-string guitar. The tuning is the same as a regular guitar, from low to high, E - A - D - G - B - E, but the E - A - D - G string are tuned an octave higher, requiring a smaller gauge of string. The E - B strings are tuned normally.

Pages