Dude, You're Getting Man-In-The-Middled!

Damnit, Dell! Dell ships laptops with a self-signed root CA (certification authority) installed in the trusted root store... with the Private Key! Here's a screenshot of me visiting a website "secured" with the eDellRoot certificate. Since the CA is not trusted in my root store I get this warning when accessing this test site. But, if you were on a Dell it would be trusted and you'd be none the wiser that you were visiting a bogus site where all your encrypted traffic can be viewed.

Simpler : If you have a Dell machine (with this CA certificate trusted as it was installed at the factory), ALL your encrypted traffic (banking!) can be intercepted and inspected without any warning.

This site provides a handy, easy-to-read response to determine whether you should panic.

Green is good

If so, this DuoSecurity article has good background and links for removal instructions.

Again, all of this is only a concern if you have a DELL.


Busy But Bored

“At least it’s not boring.” How many times have you heard that on a particularly busy day? It seems a common notion that just because you are busy you must not be bored. As if the two conditions were somehow mutually exclusive. However, if the tasks that are keeping you at 100% are the same tasks as yesterday and the day before… and the week before then there is little reason for your mind to exercise or engage in any creative thinking. You’re bored. 

Unfortunately, even if the specific details of the tasks differ from day to day when the undertaking of those tasks does not result in some sort of measurable progress you are destined to remain bored. Worse still if your efforts result in a loss of ground in whatever current battle you are waging. Sisyphus’ punishment wasn’t the boulder it was the futility of his exertion. That futility is a path to boredom and frustration.

Sisyphus’ punishment wasn’t the boulder...

The danger, of course, of boredom is carelessness. And in the cases where you are working at a feverish pace inattention to detail could have serious consequences. It’s even more important in these times when you are hectic but lacking intellectual challenge to exercise mindful attention to detail.

What can you do about it? 

  • Segment - Break the work into smaller pieces with a clearly defined goal line. Maybe today you will only move the ball five yards instead of scoring a touchdown but that’s five less yards you will have to gain tomorrow.
  • Prioritize - Analyze the tasks to be done and determine which are the most important. The 80/20 rule applies here. Identifying the most important items and attacking those first can have a cascading effect of solving or nullifying many of the lower priorities.
  • Delegate - Once you have prioritized you can focus on the most important responsibilities and delegate the more mundane chores down to a lower level. Obviously, though, if you are the lower level  this is not among your options.
  • Move On - If your efforts are truly futile then moving the ball 5 yards does not matter if it just gets reset tomorrow. In this case the only thing to do is take your ball and go home… or at least go somewhere you can challenge yourself and meaningfully participate.


Live TV on Your Home Network

Even though I haven’t had a television for the past 8 months (maybe more on that in the future) I haven’t stopped watching television. I cut the cord years ago but still love to watch a few shows. I’ve been using an EyeTV One from Elgato for several years and it’s been working great. A couple of limitations, though, have been nagging at me. First, it has a single tuner.  By splitting the OTA input we can watch one program while we record another but we can’t record two programs at the same time. And for us this happens occasionally with a couple of prime time shows where the wife and I can’t agree on which to record. Second, trying to watch live TV from another device (laptop, tablet, phone) using the streaming output from EyeTV is dismal. I’m running on an older Intel Mac (Mini) and the quality of the stream is barely watchable between the stuttering and artifacting.

To deal with these issue I’ve added an HD Homerun Extend (HDTC-2US). This clever device is as simple as 1-Power, 2-Network, 3-Input. It’s about the size of a wi-fi router and takes input from your OTA antenna, uses two HDTV tuners, and outputs as DLNA-compliant streaming video on your home network.

After connecting it you browse over to Your browser locates the device on your local network, checks the firmware version and updates it if needed. Next, run a channel scan to find your OTA channels. Finally download the software for your system (optional).

I’ve seen some folks have had issues getting it to work with EyeTV and I was concerned, even though the box specifically says it works with EyeTV. I had to go to the settings in my EyeTV software and change “device” from Elgato>EyeTV One to Elgato > HDHomeRun*. This setting didn’t “stick” on the first restart of EyeTV but it did the second time and EyeTV now shows 2 tuners. The first thing I did? Clicked record on two programs during the same time slot and marveled at not getting a conflict message. It’s the simple things.

The optional software from the hdhomerun site includes HDHomeRun VIEW, a simple player for your computer. It was as easy as starting the application to watch HD-quality live TV on my laptop. It even shows a channel listing with current programs.

Alternatively VLC finds the DLNA streams under UPnP network devices and you can watch them the VLC app, without the on-screen controls of course.

The next hurdle of getting TV to my mobile devices wasn’t as simple as I’d hoped. There’s no HDHomeRun app in the iOS App Store that “just works”. There is however an app called InstaTV Pro. The reviews are not that great and the business model is odd. It’s a “free” app that you can install and configure. But as soon as you click on a TV station to watch it tells you that the free version doesn’t include audio; so it's bascially a non-functional demo! The in-app purchase to unlock the full version is $11.99. If the app works well I suppose that’s not an outrageous price, but I’d rather it was $11.99 in the app store to begin with; maybe that’s just me. Some of the poor reviews mention the “Restore Purchase” option hanging. Recent updates say that was fixed, but I can confirm that happens for me with the newest version as of this writing. The other thing I’m not clear on is if my $11.99 purchase can be shared with all my iOS family sharing devices. I don’t want to pay $11.99 again for my wife’s iPad.

It's too early to say definitively but so far I think the HDHomeRun is a great addition to my cord cutter setup. We've now got a second tuner that works with our EyeTV DVR and hopefully (with a bit more setup) live TV on all our mobile devices.

*- Even though the HDHR is now from SiliconDust and no longer officially supported by Elgato at least according to some online discussions I’ve seen. This may not bode well for future updates but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.


Father's Day 2015

  My first Father’s Day without my Pops. It doesn’t feel right to not be able to pick up the phone and call him. What would we talk about? Probably baseball. The St. Louis Cardinals; I’m a fan, he’s not. He’d make sure I knew they were accused of “hacking” the Astros and probably say something about “that’s probably why they’ve been so good”… as if hacking the Astros could actually improve an MLB team. He’d complain about the Reds. Every time he thinks they’re going to get it together they find a way to lose and disappoint him. I think mostly he just liked complaining about them.

  He’d ask about Parker. “How’s my grandbaby?” “Is he talking, yet?” “Does he have all his baby teeth?” “You sure it’s a good idea he’s learning 4 languages?… that’s probably why he’s not talking yet”. “Kiss him for me”. “Can’t wait to see that little stinker”. I know that’s what he’d say.

  He’d ask about my job. If I was traveling for work. If I was working too much. I’d usually lie and so no, “just work”. He didn’t know what I did, just “computer stuff” but he’d want to be sure I was being treated fairly and that I wasn’t letting work get in the way of my life and my family.

  We’d talk about politics. About the recent announcements for presidential hopefuls. I don’t know who he’d support. Even being from Kentucky I can’t imaging him as a Rand Paul fan; I know he wasn’t a Ron Paul fan. I’m sure it wouldn’t be Hillary. “We’ve had enough Clinton”, I can hear him saying. We used to talk about politics a lot more than we did the past couple years. As a subject it just became less important to our conversations, though, still almost always present.

  He’d ask when I’m coming to Kentucky to visit. “Don’t be too long”, he’d say. That was the common theme of almost all our conversations of the past 2 years. He didn’t say it make me feel guilty, though it did. He said it because he meant it. He wanted to see me, his baby boy, his little stinker.



The Money for the Girl, Will the Circle Be Unbroken

Strange Connections...

An odd experience this week. Driving to work and decided to listen to the Bioshock Infinite soundtrack... what? doesn't everyone listen to video game soundtracks on their work commute? Anyway, just a couple tracks in and I was hit with a ton of bricks. I haven't listened to this collection in a long while and when "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" rolled around it was like a punch in the stomach. The road blurred. My vision dimmed. Everything was surreal for a moment.

The last time I'd heard that song was at my dad's funeral. We lost him Christmas day and that was one of the songs that played during his service. I picked out some of the music but I don't know if this selection was chosen by another family member or if it was recommended by the director. What I do know is that I hadn't realized it then and I hadn't expected listening to a game soundtrack to take me back to that day in a blinding instant.