Monthly Archives: July 2005

Credit Cards and Identity Theft

I ran across an interesting article on identity theft that points out the 50 million or so accounts whose security has been compromised so far. Bottom line: one in six people here in the USA may be subject to risk of identity theft to date. The article goes on to say that the most powerful weapon that an individual could have, and doesn’t yet have, would be to call for a “credit freeze”, blocking the credit reporting agencies from passing out their sensitive information to anyone. I’m going to suggest that isn’t the most powerful weapon against identity theft. That, in my estimation, would be a requirement that any entity releasing sensitive personal information about an individual for commercial purposes (as opposed to duly authorized law enforcement agencies doing their job) should have to obtain the individual’s permission to release that information. That’s a far broader protection, and thus far less likely to be popular among the pro-business, anti-consumer crowd currently controlling national legislation.

Of course, with the prevalence of identity theft soaring, and the egalitarian avarice of the crooks employing it (even CEOs of major corporations have been victimized), perhaps it will not be too long before even those controlling the deep corporate political moneybags will realize that the problem must be addressed, not just used as an opportunity to extract money from fearful consumers.

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Another Friedman Op-Ed Gets It Right

I am really liking Thomas Friedman’s op-ed columns in the New York Times. Yesterday’s column was about taking a longer-term view in strategies for our national welfare, independence, and healthy commerce. The op-ed uses an analogy to the winning ways of Lance Armstrong and his support team:

I have been thinking about them lately because their abilities to meld strength and strategy – to thoughtfully plan ahead and to sacrifice today for a big gain tomorrow – seem to be such fading virtues in American life.

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One Paper On Its Way

Last week, I got word that one of the manuscripts had received final approval from the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program for external publication. So, after a round of communication with the other six listed authors, I got down to the business of getting the thing submitted to a journal.

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The Week that Was

Busy, busy, busy. Diane and Gail had a proposal due on Wednesday, so they were putting in a lot of time on that early in the week. Diane went up to Davis and stayed overnight on Thursday. That worked OK, so she is planning to make a weekly stay-over a feature for future weeks, cutting out 2 to 2.5 hours of commuting. This weekend, Diane, Farli, and Ritka went to a hunt test. Despite the heat and a misfiring shotgun, both dogs passed.

Another project was one that carries over from Diane’s time at Berkeley. Researchers at the Institute for Human Development work with infants and assess how perceived movement affects them at different ages. The apparatus is a “moving wall” setup. The current post-data collection analysis software isn’t as flexible as they would like, so Diane and I have been porting the analysis code to the Matlab system, which has very good interactivity. We delivered the first set of M-scripts this past week. Since the goal is to find new ways of analyzing the data, the M-files are predominantly scripts as opposed to functions, which leaves the data in the global workspace.

Diane is also using Matlab for analysis of sound data from the Wyoming field trip earlier this year. I wrote a short M-file while she was at the hunt test to read in a WAV file and display waveforms and spectrograms for each channel.

And I’ve been working on my text matching script in Perl for some analysis tasks at work. I’m working on a wrapper to permit the cross-matching of large numbers of text files. This should allow me to make statements on which files are obviously related by copying of content. My first brute-force approach wasn’t doing doing quite what I wanted. What I would really like to achieve is a semi-automated way to output a variorum view of multiple input files. So far, I’m just handling pairwise text matching.

Another item is getting a paper based upon one of the chapters of my dissertation submitted. I think I’ve got the relevant information from all my co-authors now. This reports on the measurement of pressurization events in the bony nasal passages of bottlenose dolphins during a biosonar task. We found that the average intranarial pressure was higher during those pressurization events that were associated with a whistle vocalization by the dolphin, instead of just a click train.

I’m also working on an install of FreeBSD 5.4 for our file server here at home. This is based on a 300GB drive, with another 300GB drive in an external housing with USB 2.0 for backup purposes. Hopefully, things will fit if we don’t load up the server with data files archived elsewhere and the like. With Samba running, it works nicely with Windows client machines. FreeBSD 5.4 is the version of the OS driving the server for several of our domains, so it’s good to have it running here, too.

Things are hot here in Concord. Keeping all the animals hydrated as well as ourselves takes some effort. Fortunately, I’m continuing to feel better, and I think that my stamina is improving, too. I’ve run the air conditioner for a few hours in the afternoon the past few days, with the thermostat set somewhere between 82 and 85. That’s enough to make it bearable for me inside. We generally step out for a walk with the dogs as the sun is setting. It cools off fairly rapidly with the sunset, so other than the mosquitos also liking that time of evening, things are pretty nice.


Fireworks (almost) in my backyard.

More pictures at this page. Notice this picture where one of the fireworks went off essentially at ground level. It is good to keep a safe distance from the staging area.

I took these on July 3rd and 4th in the schoolyard behind the backyard here. I used my Fuji S2 Pro digital SLR (ISO 100) with Nikkor 24mm f2.8 lens (f stops from 11 to 22) and “bulb” exposure (2 s to 120 s). Support from the Miller DS-5 tripod Emily Kay sent me earlier this year. I used ImageMagick to “normalize” and resize the pictures.

What I Did Over the 4th of July Weekend

Diane and I went to agility trials at the Dixon Fairgrounds on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th of July. Farli turned 12 on the 2nd, and she also had two clean runs in her agility classes. She got a first place and third place ribbon that day. Farli did pretty OK in runs on the other days, qualifying in about half of the runs. I did my usual thing of taking pictures at the event. I can do a lot of things if I have a camera with me that otherwise would not be engaging. Things got started early in the morning so that the agility runs would be over by mid-afternoon, when the Dixon Fairgrounds turn into a fair approximation of a skillet in the summertime.

Saturday evening we spent at a “Bay Racers” flyball club dinner and meeting. I was bushed, so I took a nap during the meeting part.

In the afternoon of the 4th, we went to a party at Genie Scott’s house. We took along our duck, Fala, who mooched food off of people and had a fine time in the fountain in the backyard there.

In the evenings of the 3rd and 4th, I was able to take some pictures of the fireworks put on by the local Calvary Temple church. They used the Concord High School grounds, conveniently located on the other side of our backyard.