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.