the daily dub

December 16th, 2011

You can post anything you want, so long as it’s our opinion too.

Posted by rdub in Life

Congress today is debating SOPA (or the Stop Online Piracy Act) – a serious piece of legislation that creates a “Great Firewall of China” type situation in the US. Supporters of this law claim SOPA targets “rogue” foreign websites that encourage piracy, but the bill’s vague language creates the necessary tools to silence free speech on the internet.

Under this new law, an individual or corporation can simply send a letter, and a site’s DNS (this is what turns “blog.ryandubois.net” into a machine address) and ISP (providing the physical connection to the internet) can be required to shut that site down, without ever setting foot in court.

This kind of “guilty until proven innocent” tactic has been seen before with DMCA takedown notices (which, we all know, are never, ever abused – (tongue in cheek)). This threatens the very fabric of the internet (DNS, and the internet itself, were created to prevent exactly this kind of usage – the internet is designed to route around any blockages automatically – congress is undermining the fabric of the internet, as if its any of their business).

The worse part is that this law can also outlaw circumvention tools (again, very vague language that could conceivably include VPN tunnels, or Tor bridges, both of which have very legitimate uses).

Wanna take action against this? Call your rep today!

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December 12th, 2011

Home Update Photos: After

Posted by rdub in Life

The Entry way

This is our entry way.  They had some really crappy coat hooks up on the wall that were attached to some random, unpainted board.  We ripped that down, repainted the wall, and attached much nicer coat hooks directly to the wall.

The Breakfast Nook

Our breakfast nook.  They used to have a god awful fan that hung down so low, you’d nearly knock your head on the lights.  We replaced that with a temporary light fixture.  It’s so much better!  We hung up a stemware rack on the left there, added a large mirror on the wall (to increase the apparent size of the room/nook), and moved our old desk there (temporary until we get a proper bar fixture).

Kitchen Repainted

All of the cabinets got sanded down, nearly to bare wood, primed and repainted.  Then, all of the hardware (hinges and pulls) were replaced with more contemporary styles.  We added a moveable island to the left of the stove for more counter space, fixed the hole in the wall for the vent hood, and attached a spice rack, and fixed the broken tiles.

Family Room Wall

Family Room

The speakers on the wall there are temporary – we’re going to install in-ceiling speakers (I got it all wired, just need to install the speakers). TV wires are buried in the wall, along with TV power.  I just need to finish hooking a couple things up before we can get ride of all the wires hanging down.  We also added those crown moulding style shelves on the wall. Lovely!

New Shower Head

Repaired Shower Tiles

Bathroom overall

We hung a really cool double-bar towel rack (two frosted glass rods), another crown moulding shelf, and nice robe hooks (behind the door).  We also replaced the ghetto-fab tension bar for the shower curtain (something seen more in college apartments than houses) with a really nice, curved curtain rod, installed on the dry wall.

Master Bedroom

Repainted, hung window treatments, added a mirror.  This is the new color of our master bedroom.

Master Bedroom

We replaced the ugly ceiling fan in the bedroom with this more modern and clean design.  Also, on the left wall is a long crown-moulding style shelf.

Closets!

Did I mention I built the closets from scratch?  Yea, double bar on one side, single bar with shelves on the other.

Master Bedroom

One more angle of the beautiful master bedroom.

Fixed furnace closet doors.

We reattached the missing cross-member from the furnace closet door.  Looks much nicer now!

Office

Our home-office, viewed from the window.

The Desk

Added a nice wrap-around double desk.  Really looks nice in there.  And we still have room for an air bed on the floor when guests stay over.

 

Well, that’s most of the inside updates.  We (obviously) still have quite a few things on the list to do.

Stay Tuned!

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July 14th, 2011

Home Update Photos: Before

Posted by rdub in Life, Photography

Front of the House

Yea, that shrub there was growing up into the attic.  Also, some birds figured out it had punched a whole in the attic vent, so I had to deal with those.

As you can see, the yard was somewhat neglected.  The place was vacant when we bought it.

The Backyard

Here’s a shot of the backyard, taken from the vantage point of the side-yard.  That shed is still there, but not for long.  It’s filled with debris from fixing the place up.  Also, those boxwood bushes are all gone.  yay! There’s some snazzy patio furniture, a fireplace, and candle light all over the place now.

Back of the house

This is what the back of the house looked like.  Nowadays, there’s a new attic fan (solar, of course) on the roof back there.  It’ll get painted probably today, to blend in a little better. Not much has changed from this angle, except for reseeding the lawn, and cleaning out the fins of the AC compressor.

Inside: Family Room

Here’s where you’ll notice the most changes.  This is the family as viewed from the entry way.  As you can see, the color of the walls is puked-up-avocado green.  Gross, huh?  And that ceiling fan hangs dangerously close to ones head when passing by.  Also, that far corner is quite dark, no?

All that has been changed.

Inside Family Room

This photo was taken 90 degrees left from the previous one. See the thermostat on the far wall?  It wasn’t hooked to anything – REMOVED! Also, there’s a nice, large TV mounted to the wall now (burying the wires is coming soon). And of course, we painted everything.

Front Bedroom

This is the front bedroom.  What we have deemed to be the office/guest room. Dark, blank, gross crayon writing all over the walls (this kid had no discipline at all).  All cleaned up as you’ll see in coming photos.

Master Bedroom

And our coup-de-grace: the master bedroom.  We really turned this room around.  From the baby-poop wall color, to the hideous window treatments and ceiling fan – all has been dealt with!  I even re-built the closet! It used to be that cheap-o white-wire crap.  Now it’s all custom hardwood.

Bathroom

Here’s the one-and-only bathroom.  Kinda nasty huh?  It’s now a nice, deep purple, has a nice, curved shower curtain bar, and that gross soap dish? Gone! New shower-head, removed that ugly, mismatched cabinet. Check!

The hall closet

This used to make me chuckle everytime I walked by: they installed a new furnace (presumably replacing the wall-heater).  But, they didn’t bother to repair the wood they had to cut out to get the furnace in place, nor did they do a half-decent job of patching the dry-wall holes.

Tisk tisk! This has all been fixed.

Kitchen

Okay, you thought the master bedroom was bad?  Who did this paint job? What lunatic picked these colors?

We painstakingly took down all the cabinets, sanded them clean, repainted them a nice, bright white, replaced broken tiles, recaulked the sink (somebody decided that grouting the sink to the tiles was the smart way to go..), and repaired a giant hole in the dry wall. Also, that door to the garage has been replaced with an insulated steel door.

The Garage conversion.

And last, but not least, we removed this garage conversion.  They converted the garage (presumably unpermitted) to an office/room.  Yea, that’s not gunna work for us.  We dispatched this hack in about an hour.

It goes without saying that this took both of us working countless hours together, along with some invaluable help from friends and family to accomplish all of this.  Also, it’s been about 6 months of solid work.

More to come, stay tuned!

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July 5th, 2011

Home Updates

Posted by rdub in Life
tagged:

Hey Everyone,

As you may or may not know, I’ve recently purchased a home. I’ve been spending most of my free time these days fixing it up, and getting it livable for me and my family.

I’ll outline here what we’ve done so far, and in the coming days, will post some photos of “before/after”.

Improvements:

  • Removed un-permitted “room” conversion from the Garage.
  • Replaced kitchen door
  • Patched large hole in drywall in kitchen
  • Fully sanded, repainted, and replaced all hardware on all kitchen cabinet
  • Repaired damaged kitchen tiles
  • Removed box-wood shrubs from the backyard
  • Over-seeded the back lawn
  • Replaced all electrical sockets and outlet covers with modern fixtures and designer covers
  • Partially repainted baseboards (plan to have all of them done by the end of the year).
  • Repaired missing wood from Furnace cabinet doors
  • Sealed of furnace cabinet from the attic (it was just allowing heat in/out through there before).
  • 75% complete with adding a radiant heat barrier to the underside of the roof decking
  • Installed solar attic fan in main-house attic
  • Plans to complete both of the above for the garage attic by end of the year
  • Sealed garage attic off from main house attic (was partially vented before)
  • Replaced shower drain P-trap and shower head
  • Repaired broken tile in shower
  • Painted every single wall
  • Built a garage work table with recycled wood from the removal of the room conversion
  • Rewired motion light at front of garage
  • Installed motion light at backyard
  • Replaced a broken GFCI outlet in bathroom
  • Installed proper GFCI outlets in garage
  • Installed a new ceiling fan in master bedroom
  • Installed dimmer switch in bathroom
  • Installed motion activated garage light

I’m sure there’s more I’ve forgotten, and will add to these notes soon.  Hope this inspires all you other home-improvers out there!

Cheers!

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November 16th, 2010

Senator Letters: The TSA

Posted by rdub in Life

EDIT: A copy of my letter is available here. TSALetter.txt

I recently decided to take a stand on the TSA’s increased security over-stepping being deployed in our airports.  The voracity with which the Xray backscatter machines have been deployed far outpaces our medical, safety, and scientific understanding of these machines, and the associated exposures and risks.

Also, I’m upset about the lack of accountability inherent in DHS and the TSA in particular. I’d like to see a more “Sheriff-like” system, where these people are democratically elected, and held personally accountable for their policies and the behaviors of their deputies.

If you have feelings on the issues around the TSA’s screenings, you are more than welcome to crib notes, copy, plagiarize, or echo the letter reprinted below (rights to plagiarize begin and end with the letter though 😉 ).

Dear Senator,

I’m writing you to voice my opinion on the TSA’s security screening policies. I’m a voting, tax-paying, full-time employed citizen from California with a unique background in both electrical engineering and medicine.

The TSA has gone farther than is necessary for ensuring the safety of the American populace. The security screening procedures, while I agree are necessary, in their current form are violations of our 4th Amendment rights to personal privacy. Furthermore, the voracity with which the recent Xray back-scatter machines have been deployed outpaces our clear understanding of both the associated health risks, and the purported benefit these scanners are thought to bring. Lastly, I’d like to urge you to bring a democratic process to the TSA specifically, and the Department of Homeland Security in general.

In the U.S., citizens enjoy a right to privacy which is not to be violated without good cause. I understand the need for general security screening of all general passenger on airlines.  I believe metal detectors, for example, have brought a level of safety to the cabin of the plane that had been previously unseen.  Gone are the days of reading about plane hijackings in the news (compare recent data to data from the 1980s, for example).  This is a good example of a proven measure taken to secure our airlines.  This measure also did not amount to a choice between either a) being sexual assaulted, or b) relinquishing rights to nude photos taken of our bodies to unelected TSA employees. U.S. citizens should not be subjected to such wide-reaching measures without either conclusive (I underscore the importance of this word) evidence that such measures actually help.  That conclusive evidence is severely lacking in the case of the Xray backscatter machines.

Further, the recent increase in the level of “pat down” (I hesitate calling it that anymore), is sickening, especially in how is it being applied to the elderly and children.  In any other setting, including police arrests, such treatment would be ground for a successful sexual assault case.  For example, the TSA’s “enhanced pat down” procedures go beyond what the U.S. Army is allowed to do, even in a war zone.  This is absurd.

Leaning on my background in emergency medicine, I know that patients in medicine now have their rights to privacy codified in the The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. This act guarantees that facilities taking medical data for any purpose must have measures already in place to guarantee the security and privacy of said data.  A nude, or even Xray body image is equivalent to medical information, yet there is no HIPAA protection on the TSA backscatter machines.  Where is the legal protection from instances such as the Florida court house, which was recently found to have 35,000 personal, nude images (tantamount to personal medical data) stored[1]. You’ll notice I didn’t use the phrase “stored improperly” because I feel that storing data used for security screening purposes is – in and of itself – entirely improper. There is no reason that data needs to be stored for future reference.  Where are the safeguards to ensure that no data storage is possible on these backscatter machines?  And how about agents operating the machines using their cell-phone cameras and saving images for personal use? That violates my rights in more ways than I can list here, and I’d like to see it stopped, and severe consequences in place for any person or agency that is caught doing this.

Continuing on my medical tangent, there have been cries from the scientific and medical communities that the knowledge behind the drive to deploy these backscatter machines is severely limited, and the consequences could be potentially dangerous [2]. In this letter, prominent physicians and scientists point out that the amount of Xray radiation delivered, while low, is also concentrated in the first few layers of skin.  In addition to the concentration, the energy from the impact of said Xrays on molecules in our skin is likely breaking chemical bonds (ionizing) these molecules.  You should note that ionizing radiation is known to cause cancer, including breast cancer. Because the radiation delivered is concentrated in the skin layers, comparing it to a chest Xray or the radiation dose associated with international flight (which passes over the entire volume/mass of the body) is highly misleading.  According to the article cited in [2], the amount of discrepancy in this comparison is one or two orders of magnitude!  The dose delivered to the skin should be considered high, and potentially dangerous.

Further, the large population of older travelers (>65 years of age) are more susceptible to ionizing radiation, and therefore at a much higher inherent risk for developing cancers.  Additionally, women, especially breast cancer survivors, are also more susceptible to radiation-provoking breast cancer. Additionally, we have no data on whether or not these scanners are capable of causing birth defects during pregnancies, causing testicular cancer, or interfering with the cornea of the eye.

I’d like to finish on another topic dear to me: democracy.  America was founded on democratic principals, where the citizens of this country get to elect and decide upon everything from what becomes law, to who enforces those laws.  In the area of the TSA, and the DHS by extension, there has been a lapse of this democratic due process. Drawing a parallel, the Sheriff of each county is elected by the people living in that county.  He is both in charge of enforcing the laws, and directly accountable for the policies created to guide the behavior of each deputy under his charge.  I’d propose a similar system be implemented around the TSA specifically, and the DHS in general. The head of each should be both a) democratically elected, and b) held directly accountable by due political and democratic process.

Thank you so much for your careful consideration of my thoughts above.  I know your time is very busy and valuable, and I would welcome and appreciate a thoughtful response from you or your staff should you feel moved to do so.  I hope you’ll take these points above into account during tomorrow’s oversight committee on the TSA.

Sincerely,

Ryan Du Bois

[1] <http://articles.cnn.com/2010-08-04/us/marshals.body.images_1_images-orlando-courthouse-privacy-rights-group?_s=PM:US>

[2] <http://www.npr.org/assets/news/2010/05/17/concern.pdf>

If you’d like to send any thoughts (they don’t have to be the above) to your representatives in congress, these are the correct people: Senators on TSA Oversight Commitee

Dear Senator,
I’m writing you to voice my opinion on the TSA’s security screening policies. I’m a voting, tax-paying, full-time employed citizen from California with a unique background in both electrical engineering and medicine.
The TSA has gone farther than is necessary for ensuring the safety of the American populace. The security screening procedures, while I agree are necessary, in their current form are violations of our 4th Amendment rights to personal privacy. Furthermore, the voracity with which the recent Xray back-scatter machines have been deployed outpaces our clear understanding of both the associated health risks, and the purported benefit these scanners are thought to bring. Lastly, I’d like to urge you to bring a democratic process to the TSA specifically, and the Department of Homeland Security in general.
In the U.S., citizens enjoy a right to privacy which is not to be violated without good cause. I understand the need for general security screening of all general passenger on airlines.  I believe metal detectors, for example, have brought a level of safety to the cabin of the plane that had been previously unseen.  Gone are the days of reading about plane hijackings in the news (compare recent data to data from the 1980s, for example).  This is a good example of a proven measure taken to secure our airlines.  This measure also did not amount to a choice between either a) being sexual assaulted, or b) relinquishing rights to nude photos taken of our bodies to unelected TSA employees. U.S. citizens should not be subjected to such wide-reaching measures without either conclusive (I underscore the importance of this word) evidence that such measures actually help.  That conclusive evidence is severely lacking in the case of the Xray backscatter machines.
Further, the recent increase in the level of “pat down” (I hesitate calling it that anymore), is sickening, especially in how is it being applied to the elderly and children.  In any other setting, including police arrests, such treatment would be ground for a successful sexual assault case.  For example, the TSA’s “enhanced pat down” procedures go beyond what the U.S. Army is allowed to do, even in a war zone.  This is absurd.
Leaning on my background in emergency medicine, I know that patients in medicine now have their rights to privacy codified in the The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. This act guarantees that facilities taking medical data for any purpose must have measures already in place to guarantee the security and privacy of said data.  A nude, or even Xray body image is equivalent to medical information, yet there is no HIPAA protection on the TSA backscatter machines.  Where is the legal protection from instances such as the Florida court house, which was recently found to have 35,000 personal, nude images (tantamount to personal medical data) stored[1]. You’ll notice I didn’t use the phrase “stored improperly” because I feel that storing data used for security screening purposes is – in and of itself – entirely improper. There is no reason that data needs to be stored for future reference.  Where are the safeguards to ensure that no data storage is possible on these backscatter machines?  And how about agents operating the machines using their cell-phone cameras and saving images for personal use? That violates my rights in more ways than I can list here, and I’d like to see it stopped, and severe consequences in place for any person or agency that is caught doing this.
Continuing on my medical tangent, there have been cries from the scientific and medical communities that the knowledge behind the drive to deploy these backscatter machines is severely limited, and the consequences could be potentially dangerous [2]. In this letter, prominent physicians and scientists point out that the amount of Xray radiation delivered, while low, is also concentrated in the first few layers of skin.  In addition to the concentration, the energy from the impact of said Xrays on molecules in our skin is likely breaking chemical bonds (ionizing) these molecules.  You should note that ionizing radiation is known to cause cancer, including breast cancer. Because the radiation delivered is concentrated in the skin layers, comparing it to a chest Xray or the radiation dose associated with international flight (which passes over the entire volume/mass of the body) is highly misleading.  According to the article cited in [2], the amount of discrepancy in this comparison is one or two orders of magnitude!  The dose delivered to the skin should be considered high, and potentially dangerous.
Further, the large population of older travelers (>65 years of age) are more susceptible to ionizing radiation, and therefore at a much higher inherent risk for developing cancers.  Additionally, women, especially breast cancer survivors, are also more susceptible to radiation-provoking breast cancer. Additionally, we have no data on whether or not these scanners are capable of causing birth defects during pregnancies, causing testicular cancer, or interfering with the cornea of the eye.
I’d like to finish on another topic dear to me: democracy.  America was founded on democratic principals, where the citizens of this country get to elect and decide upon everything from what becomes law, to who enforces those laws.  In the area of the TSA, and the DHS by extension, there has been a lapse of this democratic due process. Drawing a parallel, the Sheriff of each county is elected by the people living in that county.  He is both in charge of enforcing the laws, and directly accountable for the policies created to guide the behavior of each deputy under his charge.  I’d propose a similar system be implemented around the TSA specifically, and the DHS in general. The head of each should be both a) democratically elected, and b) held directly accountable by due political and democratic process.
Thank you so much for your careful consideration of my thoughts above.  I know your time is very busy and valuable, and I would welcome and appreciate a thoughtful response from you or your staff should you feel moved to do so.  I hope you’ll take these points above into account during tomorrow’s oversight committee on the TSA.
Sincerely,
Ryan Du Bois
94118
[1] <http://articles.cnn.com/2010-08-04/us/marshals.body.images_1_images-orlando-courthouse-privacy-rights-group?_s=PM:US>
[2] <http://www.npr.org/assets/news/2010/05/17/concern.pdf>
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