Archive for February, 2010

SD59 convention report

Today was the DFL Senate District 59 convention at Edison High School. Julia and I were elected as delegates at our precinct caucus a few weeks ago, so we got up early on a Saturday morning to attend. We were out of there by 2:30, which isn’t bad for a district convention. Sadly, we were not elected to the state convention, though both of us ran for delegate positions.

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No room for empathy

The statements from many Republicans these days about health care are unnerving. Governor Pawlenty says that maybe hospitals should be able to turn away indigent people who need treatment. Earlier, he vetoes a reasonable GAMC extension, and Republicans in the House vow to uphold his veto despite overwhelmingly voting for the extension in the first place. At the Health Care Summit in DC, Republicans don’t seem to care about people who can’t afford health insurance; it’s “their problem“. When Representative Louise Slaughter told a story about a woman being forced to use her dead sister’s ill-fitting dentures because she couldn’t afford dentures on her own, Republicans mocked the story. Rush Limbaugh, scum that he is, says that Democrats should be thrilled with that, because Democrats love recycling, after all. He also tells a person who broke their wrist and can’t pay $6,000 to fix it, “Well, you shouldn’t have broken your wrist“.

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Toyota and data privacy

Why am I so interested in issues of data privacy and data security? I think this story about “black boxes” in Toyota cars illustrates it well. In short, Toyota cars have airplane-like black boxes in many of their cars that can track data like speed, whether the airbags deployed, and so forth. However, the data is stored in a proprietary format, and only Toyota can access it; they only do so when requested by law enforcement. I am interested in security and privacy precisely because I want to see the end to what I consider to be horrible practices like this.

I don’t think it’s horrible because black boxes shouldn’t exist, or that they infringe upon privacy. On the contrary: my major problem with this is that it is far too private: only Toyota has access to the data, despite the fact that the owner of the car paid for the black box and the driver of the car is the one generating that data. Toyota should not store this data in a proprietary format that only Toyota has access to, and only when Toyota wants to divulge the information. The owner of the vehicle should have full access to the data at all times and should be able to control it.

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Windows 7 complaints, corporate edition

When I first got Windows 7, I ranted a bit about the install process. Since then, I’ve had no problems with Windows 7 at home, and I have to say that I like it. It’s getting to the time, though, when we will start rolling out Windows 7 at work, and in the past week I’ve been fiddling around with Windows 7 Pro from a corporate perspective. Once again, I find a few things lacking.

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Grad school admission

Last week I was admitted to the University of Minnesota’s brand-new Masters of Science in Security Technology (MSST) program. I’m very excited to be in the inaugural class, and I’m glad that I finally found a graduate program that fit my needs, after spending a few years looking and coming up empty.

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Precinct Caucus report

Tonight, the first Tuesday in February, was precinct caucus night in Minnesota. For those unfamiliar with this tradition, caucuses are when neighbors of like political persuasion get together, elect party leaders at the local level, debate resolutions, and send delegates forth to the next level of government where they do all of this again. After precinct caucuses come city conventions, county conventions, senate district conventions, and ultimately the state convention. Caucus goers also express preferences for candidates for public office at every level. It’s grassroots organization at its purest form.

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