On Sunday, December 30, 2012, The Truth About Guns joined forces with King 33 Training to perform a series of live fire simulation of active shooter scenarios. We wanted to assess the potential impact of armed personnel on school property during an event like the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. This article will serve as the “Key Findings and Executive Summary” of the results from that experiment, providing a single article that discusses the results. It contains a link to the full report at the end . . .
So yesterday afternoon, Rob calls me on his cell phone. He’s walking back from class, and asks if I want to put on my uniform and come for a walk to go bother some roaming preacher that has taken up shop near the HUB. Having nothing better to do on a Thursday afternoon, I agree.
By the time we get down there, the LGBTA crowd had already accumulated and was doing their usual shtick, chanting and arguing with the preacher. A preacher which, by the way, was preaching the usual “if you have sex before marriage, are gay, or don’t believe in Christ, you’re going to Hell” speech. So Rob and I, dressed in full Soviet battle dress, and Rob with his Soviet flag, move behind the preacher and just stand there. We don’t say a single word, just listen and watch as the LGBTA people start cracking up, and the preacher becomes completely speechless. He just kinda stared at us for a while, as if he couldn’t come up with a reason that we’re going to Hell as well, and then walked away.
It was a pretty hilarious scene. About 10 people, rainbow flags and Soviet flags flying, surrounding the preacher while tours of prospective students walked by and the normal HUB traffic stared at us, usually laughing as they passed by.
The Daily Collegian was there to do a story on it, which brings the number of times I’ve been in the paper this year alone to around 5. Good times…
After living in New York all my life and watching the Democratic bulldozer blow away the opposition in that state time after time, it was an interesting experience voting in a state where my vote could actually decide the election.
State College votes in Alumni Hall in the HUB. And with about 40,000 students, Penn State students keep that place packed all day long. But the real entertainment came as I was trying to walk through the door to the HUB. It seemed like anyone with their name even remotely on the ballot was there, and even one candidate was there in person campaigning. The Obama crowd was out in full force waiving signs and handing out stickers and buttons, and the McCain campaign was there too, handing out poorly printed (like, home printer and a pair of scissors job) pieces of paper with a couple black and white sentences about McCain.
Inside, the place was packed. It was like herding cattle. But the cool thing about living in West is that, while others had to wait in extremely long lines, I was in and out in less than 10 minutes.
It was nice to see that, instead of the paperless voting machines used in the primaries, the voting machines used this time around were optical scan machines.After all the controversy about paper trails and Diebold machines freaking out, the optical scanners seem to be the best way to tally the votes. The voter bubbles in the oval next to the candidate they want, and the machine reads the ballot and scores it. The ballot is kept locked in the bowels of the machine ready for a recount, and the voter gets a strip of paper with their ballot number on it. I was number 252 today for West Halls (Precinct 33) alone. I’m sure the other precincts have already shot past that mark.
It was quick and painless. And after we were done, we exited out the back of the hall and onto the street, where the news vans were just starting to pull up. I watched the local NBC newsteam’s van drive by just as I was exiting the polling place.
For the last month or so, I’ve been working on an ASP program that displays data from an SQL database that, until now, was done in a command line interface that looked far too confiusing to be functional. However, there were a few barriers to completing this assignment:
- I’ve never coded ASP before.
- I’ve never connected to a Microsoft SQL server through a server side app before.
- I had no idea what the structure of the database was.
So essentially, 50% of my time has been spent learning ASP, 25% figuring out where stuff is in the database, and 23% actually coding the system. A system which went into beta testing this afternoon.
After writing and debugging close to 3,000 lines of code in a language I’ve never seen before, watching as the intended users interact with the system was one of the best feelings of accomplishment I’ve felt. And what’s even better was, except for a few minor feature requests, there wasn’t a single complaint. It seems like everyone naturally figured out how to work the system, and it displayed exactly what they needed. All that’s left is some tweaking next week, writing 2 more pages, and I can hand it off to the local IT department to maintain as I trudge back to Penn State.
5 more days of work, and then I’m free for the rest of the summer (or at least what’s left of it).
HOPE, the Hackers on Planet Earth conference, was this weekend, and it was amazing.
Cat and I started out from New Rochelle about 7:30 AM, and took a cab to the Hotel Pennsylvania. We dropped our bags off at the baggage storage place in the basement, and headed off to the conference. At registration, I mentioned I was a speaker, and the people promptly handed me a pretty blue lanyard for my badge, instead of the regular black one Cat recieved.
We headed upstairs and hung around in the hammocks for a while, setting up the RFID badges and talking to a group of HAM radio operators that we were talking to on the conference’s simplex frequency (147.525 FM). It was pretty fun to talk to the 20 or so HAMs that attended, seeing what they were up to and checking out the stuff they were building.
For most of the conference, we were bouncing from one talk to another. Here’s a list of all the talks I attended:
- The Attendee Meta-Data Project
- Bagcam – How Did TSA and/or the Airlines Manage to Do That to Your Luggage?
- Citizen Engineer – Consumer Electronics Hacking and Open Source Hardware
- Featured Speaker – Kevin Mitnick
- Featured Speaker – Adam Savage
- Featured Speaker – Jello Biafra
- From a Black Hat to a Black Suit – How to Climb the Corporate Security Ladder Without Losing Your Soul
- A Hacker’s View of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
- Hacking the Mind, Hacking the Body: Pleasure
- The Last HOPE Closing Ceremonies
- Maintaining a Locksporting Organization and Breakthroughs in the Community
- â€œOff the Grid” Voice/Data Communications
- Packing and the Friendly Skies – Why Transporting Firearms May Be the Best Way to Safeguard Your Tech When You Fly
- Social Engineering
- Technical Surveillance Countermeasures (TSCM) – A Brief Primer on the Arcane Art and Science of electronics Surveillance and â€œBugâ€ Detection
We also spent a fair bit of time bouncing between the lockpicking village (Cat was determined to figure out how to pick locks) and sitting around in the hammocks. There was a chatroom-like app running the whole conference where attendees could type short messages and they would appear on the bottom of the big screen on the 2nd floor. It was pretty entertaining, especially late at night.
My talk went off fairly well. At first I couldn’t get the notes to display on my laptop, but I decided it was better to get started and do it off the top of my head than to worry about getting the notes in the right format. According to the RFID badges, there were at least 75 people in the room, but taking into account for the percentage with RFID enabled, I’d put the estimate closer to 100. Everyone in the audience seemed interested, and asked some really good questions. And despite not having my notes handy, on later reflection, I hit every point I wanted to make.
On Sunday, I went and took the General class upgrade exam for my amateur radio license, and to my surprise, I passed! So I am now (for the time being) KC2QCY/AG, at least until I get the license in the mail.
Me and Cat also built our own TV-B-Gones, those adorable little contraptions that turn off TVs from across the room. Cat had fun with hers in the TGIFriday’s in Penn Station, turning off the TVs around the bar and pissing off some pretty inebriated folks. No one suspected the cute, innocent girl in the corner, though. Wonder why…
One last link, this time from the closing ceremonies. Trust me, it’s worth the click.
In short, it was one of the greatest weekends of my life, and I can’t wait to do it again in 2010 at The Next HOPE. And this time, I’m dragging more friends along. I can see it now, the Penn State posse…