Monthly Archives: February 2013

for loops

I read this over at TheDailyWTF and promptly had to clean coffee off of my monitor. This has to be the greatest for loop ever written!

$i = 0;
for (;;) {
$i++;
...
if ($i >= 15) break;
}

Now go clean whatever beverage you were drinking off of your monitor, and don’t blame me! I warned you!

(and for those non-coders reading, the entire thing can be replaced with for($i=0 ; $i < 15 ; $i++) { ... })

How to thwart TSA “security”

A couple of weeks ago, the TSA found a plastic dagger via it’s virtual strip-search machines. In the picture, the dagger appears to have a four-inch blade. In the comments, several people (rightfully) take TSA to task for this find, as it is not a threat to aviation. Our point is that it is not worth the liberties and the money to find something so insignificant, but some anonymous person seemed to want an answer as to why we were not focusing on the intent of the person trying to smuggle it on. My reply exposes several “weaknesses” in TSA security, so I doubt it will get approved. But here is my basic reply (I did not save a local copy, so I don’t have it word-for-word:

The intent of the person carrying this dagger is irrelevant, as it is not a threat to aviation. If he had ill intent, here are some other ways to get past security:

First, make the checkpoint itself the target. I’m not sure how much damage you could do with a 4″ plastic blade, but you’d be just as big a threat to aviation there as if you managed to get it on the plane, what with hardened cockpit doors and passenger awareness and all.

Second, place the blade in the scanner’s blind spot. See point one as to why, even if successful, you’re still not a threat to aviation.

Third, take a pair of scissors, which are allowed, instead. Once past security, separate the blades. Now you have TWO weapons instead of one. See point one as to why this does not matter, though, and why I suspect the scissors are allowed to begin with.

Fourth, go through security and find a place inside the “secure” area to have a nice steak dinner before your flight. Pocket the steak knife before you leave the restaurant. You’re still not a threat to aviation, but at least you had a nice meal before the other passengers on the flight took you down when you started trying to take over the plane with a steak knife.

Finally, fly first-class and opt for the in-flight meal. Then you can wait, in the comfort of first class, for a flight attendant to hand you a knife. Again, at least you had a nice meal (with the bonus of a comfortable seat on the plane) before the other passengers took you down.

Why are comments moderated?

I just realized that, as an advocate of free speech, I thought it might be wise to post an explanation of why comments are moderated here.

The explanation really is quite simple: spam. I moderate comments so that I can keep out the spam. If you are a human posting a comment, it will get approved. If it does not get approved, it must have appeared to be spam 😉 Sure, I use a ton of anti-spam measures both on the blog and on the forum, but by requiring moderation of your first couple of comments, I add myself as the final anti-spam measure. After you’ve been approved twice before, your comments should be auto-approved. The restrictions on the forum are the same (two approved posts, then auto-approval kicks in), and, unfortunately, approved comments do not count towards posts and approved posts do not count towards comments. The only other difference with the forum is that off-topic posts will be moved to a more appropriate location, but will not be deleted.

Privacy and open source

I just ran across an article titled “75 Top Open Source Tools for Protecting Your Privacy” that looks promising, and thought I’d point everyone over there. If nothing else, everyone should check out number one on their list, the Tor Browser. Tor is a wonderful project, which I hope to post more about later, which makes your online activity anonymous. The Tor Browser makes installing and using Tor for web browsing a snap.

Never debate a TSO

Recently, I’ve been debating a TSO over at the TSA Blog in various different comment threads. I took TSORon to task for some misstatements that were made regarding TSA’s performance. I asked an anonymous TSA apologist for proof that the screeners on 9/11 were poorly trained and that the TSA were any better. TSORon responded saying to read sections 9.1, 9.2, and 13.5 of the 9/11 commission report. So I did, and they to not speak to this. At all. So TSORon said to read a different section. Dude, if you’re gonna cite sources, cite them correctly the first time. In another thread, I pointed out that the TSA is not any better at screening, as they have an approximate 70% failure rate. TSORon again took the opportunity to fire back with false information, stating that the information was from a 2004 report about 2002 screening. True. I have never claimed otherwise. However, he claims this number is irrelevant, but refuses to acknowledge that in a Congressional report in November 2011, it was stated that, while the actual failure rate is SSI, it has changed very little over time. What does this tell us? It tells us that if we have the TSA’s failure rate at any point of their existence, then we know that it is roughly the same. Since the TSA admits the 70% number was accurate at one point in time, does it not follow that, given the Nov 2011 statement, that it is still roughly the same? Not a single TSO I’ve debated this with has even acknowledged this statement, and the debate abruptly ends any time I bring this fact up. Wonder why?