Artisit's Conception: Northrop Grumman’s robotic Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV-1) arrives at Intelsat I-901.

Getting Geeky: Satellites Servicing Satellites


There’s a problem with low orbit around the Earth: it’s getting cluttered. It’s not just a matter of bumping elbows; stuff in orbit is moving very, very fast and collisions are not gentle. Not only do they damage the satellites involved; they fill the already crowded space lanes with still more junk and fragments. So…

Phishing email exposed

Dear Phisher: How Dumb Do You Think WC Is?


This email message turned up in WC’s inbox this past Friday. The sender must think WC is as credulous as a Trumpster. WC will use this transparently obvious phishing effort to revisit and share his toolbox on how to detect and avoid phishing attempts. Phishing is a malware attempt to trick you into disclosing personal…

OneWeb Satellite Headquarters, a subsidiary of OneWebHoldings

How the Law Struggles to Keep Up with Technology


The law is arguably the American institution that is most resistant to change. After all, lawyers are the only folks who still officially use Latin in their conversations and writings.1 Lawyers and judges say stuff like “voir dire” and “ipso facto” with a perfectly straight face. Judge and justices belonging to the Antonin Scalia School…

Wang Laboratories Headquarters in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1992 (Photo AP/Townson)

Adventures with Wang Labs


Many years ago, WC attended a course on business valuation, the art of determining the fair price of a business. It’s more complicated than you’d believe. And fraught with risk.  That course came to mind as WC was sorting through old papers and came across a memo WC had written to the shareholders in his…

Giffy Peanut Butter

WC Will Have an Answer in a Jiffy


Back in the early Pliocene of personal computing, when a 1200 baud modem was pretty damn hot, there was something called Compuserve. Compuserve was to the internet what a spear is to a smart missile. Primitive. So primitive that they had to invent a way to include images into what had been a text-only information…

Dark matter theory is no longer dominated by WIMPs.

Those Darn Axions Let Us Down


It’s been a while since WC wallowed in geeky sub-atomic goodness. So let’s wade into some particle physics for a change. As WC has noted before, physics can’t seem to find 95% of the universe. That’s embarrassing. Visible matter seems to constitute only about 5% of the universe. Dark matter – a placeholder name, not…

Criminal Carelessness with Customers’ Data


Sometimes the incompetence of the folks who are supposed to protect our on-line data just takes your breath away. InfoTrax Systems, of Orem, Utah, provides on-line services. We’ll get to the nature of those services in a moment. InfoTrax’s database stored customer names, addresses, social security numbers, credit card information and passwords for about one…

Lithium, Periodic Table

When Lithium Became the Anode


Lithium is dangerous stuff. The nucleus of lithium, consisting of three protons and three or four neutrons, verges on instability; it has the lowest binding energies holding the nucleus together of all the stable elements. That’s why lithium deuteride is the fusion fuel in some thermonuclear bombs. Lithium salts are used to treat bipolat disorder.…

Outbursts from the sun, such as this one captured by a NASA satellite in June 2015, can wreak havoc with power grids and telecommunications on Earth. Credit: Solar Dynamics Observatory and NASA

Something Different to Worry About


You say you’ve got enough stuff to worry about already? Trump? Climate change? Volcanoes? Health care? But don’t you get tired of the same old crises and threats? Wouldn’t you like something new to worry about? Of course you would! And WC is happy to share. You need to worry about solar superstorms. True, we…

Qualcomm Corporate Headquarters, San Diego, California

Getting Geeky: Qualcomm’s Crimes


It’s a been a while since WC wallowed in some geekiness. This is admittedly a long post, and involves both geeky law and technogeekery. But this will affect every cell phone in the United States and most of the phones abroad. Here we go: Qualcomm is a San Diego, California-based microchip manufacturer. For more than…

Intel Inside

Intel’s Intel


So as it turns out, Intel has a secret computer inside your computer. At least if you have an Intel Central Processing Unit (CPU) in your computer; you know, Intel Inside™. The marketing slogan turns out to have more than one meaning. It’s called the Intel Management Engine, the IME, and it has been included…

The National Security Agency headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland. (Credit: NSA)

Getting Off the NOBUS Bus


The National Security Administration has two cyber missions: attacking foreign cyber systems to gather intelligence and defending U.S. cyber systems from attacks by third parties, both foreign governments and criminals. There’s an inherent conflict of interest in those dual responsibillities when the NSA discovers a critical bug in widely-used software like Microsoft Windows. Does NSA…

This photograph from the May 29, 1919 total solar eclipse shows one of the stars used to confirm Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity. The red dot shows where the star would have been without the sun's interference. (Image: © Royal Observatory, Greenwich)

The Centennial of Eddington’s Proof


To those of a geeky persuasion – a group that certainly includes WC – there is an important anniversary approaching. May 29 will be the centennial of Eddington’s confirmation of general relativity. To understand why this is important we have to go back to 1915 or so. Albert Einstein had published his four scientific papers…

Hacking with mXtract, a dark web tool

A Malware Bestiary and Primer


If you own a digital device – a smart phone, a laptop or desktop computer – you need to understand that it is a jungle out there. There are bad guys who want to steal your identity, steal your information and steal your money. There are bad guys who want to steal your computer’s power.…