Short Squeeze

I have to admit, this is one of the more brazen acts of rebellion against the establishment I’ve seen in some time. They nearly bankrupted a hedge fund, and I’m not honestly sure this is over yet. The reaction is telling. Everything is fine when we manipulate the market, but if you proles do it, we’ll have investigations and demand the rules of the game be changed.

It looks like the hedge funds have been doing what I understand is called “naked shorting,” meaning shorting shares that you don’t actually own and may not even exist. The practice is illegal, but it wouldn’t surprise me if there was a wink, wink, nudge, nudge, as long as the right people were making enough money.

I am far from any kind of expert in finance, so this stuff both fascinates and confuses me. I know someone who trades, and have had him try to explain it all to me, and I keep coming back to: “How is this different than gambling?”

News You Can Use

Getting off of big tech e-mail. I set up my club as a G-suite customer when Google was a good bit less evil than it is now. While I’ve integrated a lot of our processes in with it, but I wasn’t so foolish as to strongly couple things. Switching wouldn’t be a breeze, but I could do it.

But I do have to admit that Google is very good at doing e-mail. The primary issue with e-mail is spam filtering. Without effective spam filtering, e-mail these days is useless.

I could use Office365 for most everything else. Hell, I could use Outlook 365 with exchange. If you had told me Microsoft would be the less evil tech behemoth 20 years ago, I wouldn’t have believed you. But here we are.

I can easily integrate with anything that does Active Directory. Distribution lists are done in AD with PowerShell, then synced to Google. I can easily just sync to something else. So I may look into that. I’d love to be off Google. Hell, I’d like to be on our own systems, really.

Even though my career is now all about the cloud, I don’t actually believe in it. We’re losing a lot of robustness going to cloud-based systems, and in truth if your company is dependent on AWS, your investors don’t own your company: Jeff Bezos does.

I now would like to try a containerized company infrastructure that runs exclusively on an array of Raspberry Pis. Bandwidth is becoming ubiquitous. While I can appreciate Amazon’s Multi-AZ features, which is quite expensive to do with your own data center, I feel like as bandwidth becomes more commoditized, competition might get easier.

The Great Crackdown

The most insightful observation of the past four years was that China is not importing our liberal values: instead we are importing their authoritarian values. I see this everywhere now that it’s been pointed out.

The tech monopolies aren’t even bothering to couch their censorship anymore. They’ve had their Reichstag fire, and now that they have nothing to fear.

I’ve thought the past four years Trump and the GOP weren’t doing nearly enough to curtail the tech monopolies. They’d call the oligarchs in for hearings, make them a little uncomfortable, but took no serious anti-trust action or started enforcement of the laws against anti-competitive practices, or even bothered to use campaign finance laws. The Dems have always been very effective at using government as a weapon, but the GOP frankly sucks at it, and I don’t notice that Trump was any good at it either.

My current internal debate is whether quitting social media is just giving in, and we wouldn’t do better to move communications to a lower profile and to trusted networks of people. I think I will greatly curtail my personal activities on social media. I cannot quit totally since I manage pages.

I will be focusing on traditional community building locally. I will try to get the blog back to some base level of activity, because the network of bloggers used to be a great tool for us before social media came along. We used to do just fine without the tech monopolies. It’s time to route around their censorship. We should stop trying to make another Facebook or Twitter. That is playing by their rules, and the network effects and anti-competitive practices of big tech make that an impossible prospect now. We need to focus on federated services and building networks they can’t shut down.

We need an open source movement for social media. Microsoft’s monopoly on the operating system was brought to an end by the first wave of open source technology. We need a second wave to commoditize the tech monopolists into irrelevance.

Is it Politicians, or Are We Just Bad Parents?

I did not come from a hunting, shooting, fishing or any other outdoor sport household. I fished for sunny’s in our lake, but that was about it. My parents didn’t teach me any of that because they didn’t know very much to teach me. But if they had, I think I would have learned. This is an interesting article about how we’re becoming a “we used to,” society.

I have gotten to know a couple of my son’s friends, and it shocks me that here ,in a really rural area, surrounded by lakes and streams, most of them don’t even bother to go outside very much if at all.

I’ve certainly seen this: kids that grow up playing video games and doing not much else. They’d rather bury their faces in the phone than talk to anybody.

I don’t ever recall my parents strictly regimenting my TV watching, but neither my sister nor I grew up glued to a TV. My parents both did a lot. I don’t think if I had tried, I would have been allowed to glue myself to a TV or video game controller. I don’t know why we are letting our kids do that today.

I think we’ve gotten absolutely abysmal as a society in passing down our values and interests. I don’t think politicians are to blame for that. That’s something deficient in our parenting. What is it?

Tech Open Thread

It’s Friday, and I’m writer’s blocking trying to write up something persuasive defending the concept of Immutable Infrastructure in DevOps. Really, the client in question has at best Semi-Immutable Infrastructure: updates can be applied via the deployer for the systems that are now working under that paradigm. They don’t tear down the and rebuild their VMs for patches and security updates. And they still have a lot of stuff that works under the traditional “mutable” model.

But we are pushing the idea of eventually having all IT infrastructure adopt DevOps principles. For major OS or software releases, or in the event of a security breach or other problems with the system, tearing the system down and rebuilding it should be done. I approach DevOps from a traditional IT background. Most of my colleagues approach it from developer backgrounds. I’ve found that traditional IT folks are more resistant to DevOps principles than people with developer backgrounds. So I feel like when IT people exhibit skepticism, having “come to Jesus” myself from the same heresy, I should be the one to preach to them the DevOps gospel.

I’m curious if anyone out there has worked in this area. My current focus is doing a large, legacy database system as Immutable Infrastructure. Or at least Semi-Immutable Infrastructure if you’re a real purist (which I am not).

Slate: 80% Lowers a Bigger Threat

This Slate article actually shows a reasonable degree of understanding on the home build issue. They correctly point out that home manufacturing is legal in most of the United States, provided they are intended for personal use by the person who makes it. Manufacturing for sale requires an FFL.

If lawmakers are concerned about threats having to do with 3D-printed weaponry, they might consider banning 3D-printed bump stocks, too, which are attachments that can be added to semi-automatic rifles to make them fire faster. Those might work better than a fully 3D-printed gun. But 80 percent lower kits remain a much bigger threat—and should be a higher priority for lawmakers.

If they reclassify bump stocks as machine guns, it will be illegal to 3D print one, just as it’s currently illegal to 3D print a machine gun. However this is feel good nonsense. Of course someone unconcerned with following the law can print a machine gun receiver, or machine a machine gun receiver from an 80% billet, or go to Home Depot and buy all the parts you need for a home made submachine gun. A lot of these fools just don’t get this: you can make this shit illegal, but it’s not going to stop someone who’s intent on committing murder, robbery, or some kind of terrorist act. It’s not going to stop people from manufacturing them for the black market. There couldn’t be a more plain case for, “This is only going to deter hobbyists who are no threat to anyone.”

But as I’ve said, that’s the idea. Stopping criminals is not the purpose of this. That’s just a bullshit pretext. The idea that anyone could just make a gun? Scare bleu! The peasants, in their basement? They might even have fun doing it! They might make a mockery of us, and wouldn’t that be the worst thing ever.

And what about the 80% issue?

Understand the fundamental issue: Generally, our law is structured around the idea that gun parts can break, and owners ought to be able to order replacement parts without having go through a background check and fill out paperwork just to get a replacement spring, firing pin, bolt, etc. This is not a loophole in the Gun Control Act. It was intentionally set up this way.

So we pick one part that is the critical piece, and call it “the gun.” Most of the time, that’s the receiver, which some designs divide into upper and lower receivers, either of which can be “the gun,” depending. There’s a certain stage of manufacturing where ATF considers a piece of metal machined enough to qualify as a firearm even if it’s not fully finished. ATF is generally clear on what those machining steps are.

So how do you “fix” this “loophole?” Say you make ATF remove a few machining steps to qualify as unfinished, and now “80% lowers” are illegal, and we now have the “70% lower.” Think hobbyists won’t get around that? How far do you go? Where does it end? At what point do you start demanding billets of aluminum get regulated? Don’t be ridiculous.

What drives me nuts about the political climate today is what I’ve seen dubbed “aggressive ignorance,” driven largely by social media. Put enough people in an echo chamber, where dissenting opinion is driven out, and the answers become simple. We live in an easy world to the aggressively ignorant. They have charlatans parading easy answers at them all day, and who are you to say it wouldn’t work? What do you know about the topic? You’re part of the evil gun lobby! If it weren’t for people like you, we could solve these problems.

Everyone wants easy answers, and god damn anyone who tries to say there aren’t any. It’s madness.

People Will Lose Their Gun Rights Over This

I’ve already largely stopped posting Facebook on my personal timeline. I still keep my account for my blog and club, and the occasional comment thrown around. But this makes me want to swear it off entirely.

This is software to save lives. Facebook’s new “proactive detection” artificial intelligence technology will scan all posts for patterns of suicidal thoughts, and when necessary send mental health resources to the user at risk or their friends, or contact local first-responders. By using AI to flag worrisome posts to human moderators instead of waiting for user reports, Facebook can decrease how long it takes to send help.

I can’t really tell you how much I loathe social media. I’d love to see these companies crash and burn. They are doing nothing to make our lives better. When I was growing up, I was promised my future would be all Mars bases and Flying Cars, and Facebook is what I get? OK, sure, I got the Star Trek PADD and communicators, but what do we use them for? That’s right. Cat videos.

You see, it’s not that I am now or have ever been suicidal. I’ve said before, that I will never be suicidal is something I can pretty much guarantee. I like existence too much. But I don’t trust this not to have a lot of false positives, and there are very real consequences to alerting the authorities that someone might be a danger to themselves or others; loss of gun rights being the primary issue for this blog.

In many states, even an observational trip to the loony bin will land you a state and federal prohibition. Pennsylvania is one of them. If you ever find yourself in a situation where first-responders show up concerned that the Facebook AI has determined you’re going off the deep end, make sure you go voluntarily. Make sure you tell everyone you deal with you’re there voluntarily. Because if they take you against your will, now you have much bigger issues if you own guns. Even if they let you go, if you haven’t made arrangements, if you arrive home to a safe full of guns, congratulations, you’ve just made yourself a felon in addition to having to endure contact with the state mental health system.

Camera Bleg

It’s always interesting how many things my readers collectively know, hence why I ask. My club is looking to replace an old CCTV system with a new IP high-definition system. I’m interested in whether I have anyone among my readership that does this for a living and can offer advice.

We have a few quotes from vendors. One is for Hikvision gear, which is cheap, but Hikvision is also owned by the Chinese Communist Government and has been responsible for a number of security problems as of late. There have been accusations of outright espionage, but I’m not sure how much stock I put in those. But either way, their reputation is of being careless with security, and that rubs me the wrong way.

I have a vendor that resells Panasonic, but that stuff is expensive. Samsung and Axis seem to be cheaper options, but I have no experience with how well their NVRs work. These brands are the market leaders. Is there any up-and-comers I might want to look into? In theory I like Ubiquiti, but their solution seems to have a low end feel.

It seems to me like a lot of camera installers don’t really understand IP networking very well, and only have a few installation types they are comfortable with and don’t want to deviate from it. This is becoming a frustration for me, but maybe it’s my IT bias. They all seem to love microwave extenders, which I loathe. I like wires. That’s largely why I took up evaluating doing fiber on my own.

A lot has changed in the industry switching from analog CCTV to IP, and a lot of the IP camera vendors seem to cater to that mentality by building PoE switches into their NVRs like the old DVR systems used to be bristling with BNC connectors. To me this seems unnecessary. I expect to have only one or two LAN connectors on the back of an NVR, and put my PoE switches out where I have clusters of cameras. Is there any reason to bring 32 Cat6 cables back to one NVR rather than cluster and trunk? I can’t think of any reason not to, given that a 1080p H.264 stream is only like 8Mb/sec. A gigabit IP network seems to be a firehose compared to the needs of IP cameras.