Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, April 23, 2005
A Fool and His IT Budget

Firewall to zap XML viruses:
    Salt Lake City-based Forum Systems plans to announce the addition of the antivirus module to XWall on Monday. It will be available at the beginning of May, with pricing ranging from $5,000 to $40,000.

    The 5-year-old company is one of several companies that make software or devices for securing applications that use XML to format data or XML-based communications protocols, called Web services.
$40,000 piece of hardware specifically to block bad XML from coming into your company? Lord, love a duck, I though XML Schema Documents (XSD) did that.
    There is a need for XML-specific products, according to these companies and industry analysts, because traditional security products are designed primarily to inspect Internet protocols, rather than XML or Web services protocols.
Obfuscation is a virus, too. Those Web services protocols determine how XML messages are formatted, but they're still sent over common Internet messages that use the same traditional Internet protocols that your native firewalls block. If someone is triggering a denial of service using SOAP against one of your public Web services, you'll do the same thing you do when blocking a traditional DOS attack: You'll block the IP addresses from the incoming flood or you'll block/change the port number/URI of the Web service. No special XML-sniffing necessary.

But now they've expanded the service to include software that scans for XML Viruses, which are pretty common, hey?
    Although they have not seen viruses written specifically for XML, these applications are still not adequately protected, executives from Forum Systems and CA said.
The only adequate prevention is heat; that is, just burning money on an XML-virus-sniffing and firewall product is the only thing that can protect you from XML! And SOAP! And all the potentially-malevolent buzzwords you don't understand! After all, gentle reader, your organization is at risk!
    Forum Systems CEO Wes Swenson predicted that XML viruses will become common as people store Office documents in XML format and as developers use the Simple Object Access Protocol, which is written in XML, in tools for company-to-company communication.
The difference between XML files and Office document file types is that XML doesn't execute code in and of itself. Wrapped in SOAP, an XML document can trigger the execution of a Web service, but that's not an XML virus. Viruses need to run their contents to propogate, and if you've got an XML document that can propogate itself using SOAP, you've got a problem with your Web service.

But never mind that; spend the $40,000 and feel good about yourself.

    "When you do have an XML-based virus attack, it will affect mission-critical servers as opposed to e-mail server and Web servers," Swenson said.
The very words mission-critical indicate that CNET has passed on a press release as a news story. XML viruses don't exist, and cannot exist unless you've got an XML-consuming application that's poorly written and vulnerable to buffer overflow errors or, heaven forfend, runs code contained in XML messages. A DOS attack on a Web service will affect the servers hosting the "mission-critical" Web services, but you don't need this guy's product to deal with it.

But, hey, if corporations want it, let them have it.

Meanwhile, I am hard at work here in the lab to protect corporations from insidious ASCII text file viruses. Did you know that your company uses hundreds or thousands of these potentially hazardous files every day and that they can be transmitted through e-mail attachments or automatically copied from the Internet or across networks. And unlike XML files, ASCII flat files, particularly those with file extensions of .java, .cpp, or .vb, can contain malicious code that can take control of your desktop when executed.

Watch soon for the money-sucking Jeracor ASCII Virus Firewall, coming soon.

Friday, April 22, 2005
My Office, the Cat Product Advertisement Photo Shoot Set

Jeez, how can a man work with all this disruption?

Carnival of Some Cats
Click for full size

I guess that's why I wasn't working when this photo was taken at 6:30 pm one night this week.

New T-Shirt Design from JC T-Shirts

Behold, and buy:

Click to buy

Unpopular Canaries

Ladies and gentlemen, watch what the authorities do to child molestors, because they will eventually take those same measures with other offenders.

Because the crimes are so repellent, citizens will accept these measures and parents will clamor for them. But as the first item shows, once these rights are abrogated to protect the children, law makers and law enforcement officials will use those mechanisms to persecute other criminals who might commit the same crime in the future.

Sure, Westchester County only wants sex offenders to wear a bracelet; but sex offenders can take those off. Countdown to mandatory microchipping has begun.

The Other Creationism vs. Evolution

O'Connor Dismisses Ado Over Int'l Law:
    O'Connor, a Reagan appointee, participated in a lively one-hour discussion at the National Archives with Justices Antonin Scalia and Stephen G. Breyer. She said if there is no controlling U.S. precedent or the viewpoint of states is unsettled, "of course we look at foreign law." "This is much ado about nothing," she said in response to a question by moderator Tim Russert of NBC. "Our Constitution is one that evolves. What's the best way to know? State legislatures -- but it doesn't hurt to know what other countries are doing."
Our constitution has a mechanism in it for evolution. It's the amendment process.

Any other evolution, a la reading the penumbras, emanations, and secret codes inherent in interpreting the rights derived from reading the third letter after every punctuation mark isn't constitutional evolution. It's judicial creationism.

(Link seen on Althouse.)

Thursday, April 21, 2005
Some Jokes Are Better Left Unmade

I bought a pair of Levi's 404 jeans, but now I can't find them.

Now That's Offshoring!

600 foreign software developers on a former cruise ship in international waters outside of Los Angeles. It's Sea Code.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005
Safer T&A Through Security Cameras

More women's bodies protected by security cameras:
    A San Francisco police officer is facing possible disciplinary action for allegedly using surveillance cameras at San Francisco International Airport to ogle women as they walked through the terminal, according to San Francisco Police Commission documents.
Oddly enough, he's in the most trouble because apparently it wasn't his turn at the cameras:
    Police share the surveillance system with several agencies. When the Police Department traffic substation is controlling a camera, none of the other agencies is able to use that camera, the charging documents note.

    Rossi allegedly spent a total of three hours manipulating six of the cameras.

    He ignored coworkers' warnings that he should not be using the cameras, saying "he did not care since he was not assigned to the substation he would not get in trouble,'' according to the charging documents.


Ben Affleck demonstrates the relative worth of Jennifer Garner vs Jennifer Lopez:
    Affleck bought Garner a $500,000, 4.5-carat Harry Winston engagement ring — as compared to the 6.1-carat pink diamond ring from Winston which Affleck got for his former fiancée Jennifer Lopez.
Nothing says "I love you" like giving the second Jennifer a ring that's 73% of the one given to Jennifer I.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Implication: You Need a Shredder If You Recycle

Here's a feel-good story with a happy ending:
    At first, Charles Kulage suspected a buddy was playing a joke by calling to verify his address and then saying his $4,296 federal tax refund check had been found at St. Peters' recycling center.

    But it wasn't a joke. While sorting paper, a worker at the recycling center spotted the check Monday and saved it from destruction.
A happy ending until you consider how much attention workers pay to papers in the recycling bin.

This message brought to you by someone too paranoid for a shredder.

That's Not Junk Data

When you're testing and you see a dog breed called Dogo Argentino, you might think that you're seeing junk data since the Spanish word for Dog is perro.

But it's not; there really is a breed called Dogo Argentino.

Probably junk data that became institutionalized through repetition.

Another Right that Compels Someone
Senator Barbara Boxer of California has found another right which compels someone to act according to another person's will:
    Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, citing reports that pharmacists have turned away women seeking birth control pills, has introduced legislation that she says would protect American women's access to contraception.

    Boxer's proposal would require all pharmacies to fill all prescriptions or refer customers to someone who will, despite pharmacists' religious or ethical objections to the nature of the prescription.
Securing the right to birth control, you see.

Hey, Babbles, I got some other ideas for your brand of Federalism which is far too crashing, snorting, and bellowing to call "creeping Federalism":
  • Right to an Abortion. Compel all medical doctors to perform abortions on demand by anyone, even children, under the penalty of losing their licenses. Perhaps a phased-in approach to drive-thrus, too.

  • Right to Porn. Compel all bookstores to carry Hustler magazine. However, to protect the children, bookstores require ID to enter.

  • Right to Music with Swear Words. Compel Wal-Mart to carry the most "authentic" hip-hop music.

  • Right to Alcohol-Free Bars. Compel bars to only serve softdrinks and coffee so that they're better family destinations.
Senator Babbles wants to inject the Federal Government virus into every small business in the land to protect the helpless against those who own property and want to use it as they see fit.

Monday, April 18, 2005
Book Report: It by Stephen King (1986)

I inherited this book from my aunt, whose legacy filled my to-read shelves with horror and mystery novels. I'm growing to enjoy Stephen King and Dean Koontz, so their presence in my library is welcome. Stephen King is an American master, truly, whose books will be read hundreds of years in the future assuming 1) people still read books, and 2) all American texts have not been burned.

First of all, this book is a book without antecedent. Not precedent, but antecedent. When I tried talking about it with my beautiful wife during our evening rambles around the subdivisions in our neighborhood, she couldn't always understand what I was talking about when I referred to It. So I had to say Stephen King's It, like I was titling the miniseries and hoping the name Stephen King would draw viewers which the title alone would not.

The book is not without its flaws. This comes from King's Epic period, which spawned The Stand and the beginning of the mercifully-split Dark Tower series. This book weighs in at over 1100 pages, and I hit the AKM (Anna Karenina Moment, wherein the reader realizes he's read enough to have completed one long novel and realizes that he's got the equivalent of one or more novels to go--and is tempted to read one or more complete novels instead). The quality of the writing doesn't suffer, really, but the quantity tends to overwhelm it.

The book deals with seven youths who confront an eldritch, foetid horror in Derry, Maine, in 1958, and when the eldritch, foetid, other-worldly horror resurfaces in 1985, the middle-aged children of Derry return to confront it again without the imagination of youth to protect them from unreality.

I survived the AKM and pressed on. King weaves a lot of detail into the setting, and even the minor characters take on three and sometimes three-and-a-half dimensions. Still, this adds bulk that wouldn't be afforded to a first-time novelist; agents and editors would bounce this proposal back from anyone but Stephen King. The main characters get their own sections and chapters and great detail. However, I'm not a first time King reader, so I was reading along trying to guess who wouldn't make it. Life, and King, are cruel that way; just when you get to liking someone, a monster rises from the depths and rips off his or her head.

Still, somewhere after page five hundred pages, the pace picks up and rushes toward a hundred page climax and forty page dénouement. Overall, I'm pleased with the book and even have the strange desire to see the 1990 television movie equivalent which features Tim Curry as Pennywise the Clown--that man has actorial chutzpah.

Still, one has to wonder what Stephen King was thinking when he concocted the plot. Did he say to himself, what this book really needs to drive its theme home is group sex in the sewers among eleven and twelve year olds? Because I could have entirely left that little bit out without really corrupting the story.

Mad Libs Feature Writing

FanC a d8? Never fear, text messaging is here:
    Welcome to (INSERT TECHNOLOGY), the newest, easiest way to show someone you're interested. Simply (INSERT TECHNOLOGY USE). No more love letters, no more "baby, what's your sign?" and best of all, no more face-to-face rejection.

    "It's such an easy way to break the ice," Holstack said. "Approaching girls in a bar can be so intimidating and this takes the approach part out of the equation. The worst reaction I could have gotten was her not replying and I'll take that over her laughing in my face any day."

    Holstack, it seems, is not alone. With more than 30 million registered
    (INSERT TECHNOLOGY) users sending more than 30 billion (INSERT TECHNOLOGY) each month, it's clear that romance seekers like (INSERT TECHNOLOGY USER) will not be without a date for long. More than 50,000 people are registered for (INSERT TECHNOLOGY) in Missouri, with 8,800 in the St. Louis area alone, suggesting that many people are beginning to realize that their (INSERT DEVICE) can also be the key to a successful dating life.
Let's try some of these combinations from the past:
  • Poetry; write a sonnet; poetry; pieces of doggerel; Lord Byron; poetry; quilled pens.
  • Video Dating Services; tape yourself discussing what you want; video camera; video tapes; Mike Jones; video dating services; VCR.

  • Bulletin Board Systems; connect to a BBS computer and post; modem; bulletin board messages; John Smith; BBS Handles; modem.

  • Chat rooms; answer an age/sex check; AOL; chat conversations; STLDAD4CHIX; chat rooms; computer.

  • Instant message; type a message; IM; messages;; IM clients; computer.

  • wireless text flirting; punch in the requisite letters, type in your destination phone number, and hit send; text users; text messages; SMS (short messaging service); cell phone.
Hey, I got a precognition!
    Welcome to Cranial Bluetooth Implants, the newest, easiest way to show someone you're interested. Simply pass by the attractive member of the desired gender identity. No more love letters, no more "baby, what's your sign?" and best of all, no more face-to-face rejection.

    "It's such an easy way to break the ice," Holstack said. "Approaching girls in a bar can be so intimidating and this takes the approach part out of the equation. The worst reaction I could have gotten was her not replying and I'll take that over her laughing in my face any day."

    Holstack, it seems, is not alone. With more than 350 million registered
    government-mandated implantees sending more than 30 billion Bluetooth thought transmissions each month, it's clear that romance seekers like 19897267 will not be without a date for long. More than 350,000,000 people are registered for tracking in the United States, with 800 remaining residents in the St. Louis area alone, suggesting that many people are beginning to realize that their proper thoughts can also be the key to a successful dating life.
Every generation rediscovers the uses of current technology in dating, and it's always the hippest thing about which to write.

Introducing PETBA

Ladies and gentlemen, I want a new organization. I want People for Ethical Treatment By Animals. Because I don't think it's right that people are treated this way by animals:
    74-year-old animal lover was found dead in her home after what police believe was a brutal attack by the woman's two mixed-breed dogs.
Animals shouldn't treat people this way. Join us next week when we splash some red paint on a chow to protest that breed's tendency to bite off the hand that feeds it.

Sunday, April 17, 2005
Bush's Plan To Turn Europeans into Biogenetic Mutants Thwarted

US sent banned corn to Europe for four years:
    All imports of United States corn have been stopped at British ports following the discovery that the US has been illegally exporting a banned GM maize to Europe for the past four years.
It's all part of the long-term Bush plan to alter the genetics of Europeans using genetically-modified corn to make Europeans lazy and unself-determined and to suppress their sex drives, yielding a lower birth rate so that Europe has to rely on radical, non-integrating Islamic immigrants for population stability. Ultimately, the Bush administration wants to generate a rationale for the Second Crusades which will begin in twenty years when Empress Barbara I invades Europe to liberate the Cradle of the Enlightenment from the Heathen.

That's why the United States, as a nation and a single entity, shipped genetically modified corn to Europe. Those who think it might have been a single company's error swallowed in the bureacracy are simplistic and lack the imagination for proper conspiracy-mongering.

To say Noggle, one first must be able to say the "Nah."