Category Archives: Computers & Technology

My Stance on Strong Encryption

Yesterday, Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) introduced the Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act, legislation that would require technology companies to help law enforcement agencies to access encrypted data.

The Senators’ assertion that “[warrant-proof] encryption adds little to the security of the communications of the ordinary user”1 is incorrect. “Warrant-proof” encryption, their name for strong encryption without backdoors, is required to prevent sensitive data from falling into the hands of malicious individuals over the Internet, as can be seen by the sheer number of zero-day exploits that are discovered being used by hackers in the wild every month.

This legislation would also deal a severe blow to the freedom of the press, who rely on strong encryption when reporting on the activities of tyrannical regimes. Banning such encryption would, in fact, place the United States government several steps closer to tyranny itself, and would inevitably result in the abridgement of the 1st, 2nd, and 4th Amendments to the Constitution.

I urge my readers to contact their Senators and express their opposition to the Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act. This is a moment to take a stand for freedom.

~RP

1: Graham, Cotton, Blackburn Introduce Balanced Solution to Bolster National Security, End Use of Warrant-Proof Encryption that Shields Criminal Activity. (2020, June 23). Retrieved June 24, 2020, from https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/press/rep/releases/graham-cotton-blackburn-introduce-balanced-solution-to-bolster-national-security-end-use-of-warrant-proof-encryption-that-shields-criminal-activity

Go Kit Battery Box

My latest project has been modifying a battery box for the inevitable public safety power shutoffs this summer (and potential related emcomm use).

The box features a voltmeter with an integrated USB fast charger, a power switch to prevent inadvertent draining of the battery, and a 12-volt power socket.

The battery that I’m using is a 12-volt, 35 amp-hour AGM battery. There is extra space in the box to hold an inverter and spare parts.

Future improvements will include a panel-mounted quick-disconnect port to replace the one hanging out of the lid, and a 12-volt circuit ammeter to monitor my power usage.

This project was significantly more expensive to assemble myself than it would have been to purchase pre-built online; however, I was able to customize it and use higher-quality components from Powerwerx.

Parts List

Starting my Homelab

Because my career interests lie in the world of information technology (servers, computers, and the tech that connects them), I’ve been listening to a lot of related podcasts for the past several months. I recently started studying in earnest for the CompTIA A+ certification, which has been a fascinating review of things I know well, and additionally a lot of information that I didn’t know before. It’s a lot of fun!

That being said, I realized that there’s a long way for me to go in order to achieve the level of competency that I want, so I followed the advice of the people at r/ITCareerQuestions on Reddit and started to build my own home server experimentation lab, affectionately called a “Homelab” by the denizens of r/homelab.

I’ve completed the first step, which was to acquire a platform to start on. I’ll be adding a 4TB disk drive and a nice Noctua fan next week. Here it is!

It’s not much to look at yet, but this is the humble beginning of my homelab. It’s a refurbished Dell Optiplex 7010 with 24GB of RAM, Windows 10 Pro, and 1TB HDD. At the back you can see my 2TB single-drive Direct Access Storage (DAS) drive, which will supplement the 4TB datacenter drive that I ordered on Newegg.

My plan is to image the system drive so I can retain that copy of Win10 Pro, and then install it in a virtual machine on whatever hypervisor I decide to replace it with, alongside other services. I have a lot to learn, but this is what I’ll be learning with for now; I fully intend to upgrade this server with more storage space, more modern hardware (such as swapping the i7 and DDR3 for a Xeon and ECC DDR4), and eventually, enterprise-level equipment. It’s going to be fun!

~RP

Time to Leave Windows 7 Behind

Operating system vulnerabilities allow people with evil intent to do a variety of nefarious activities on your computer. They could install cryptocurrency miners, botnets, keyloggers, or other malicious software. They can also steal your data or hold it hostage through a ransomware attack. Since these are exploits of weaknesses in the operating system itself, there isn’t a lot that your antivirus software can do to stop them—only regular updates provided by Microsoft can patch these holes in your system security. And when those updates stop coming, you will be utterly defenseless. Is the convenience of putting off your upgrade worth the risk?

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