Wednesday, April 27, 2011

PlayStation Network Blues

As most of you are aware, the Sony PlayStation Network was compromised last week.  The story has been all over the interwebs ever since.  Sony has been pretty hushed about the affair, at least until yesterday.  I, and every other PlayStation Network subscriber, received an email detailing what Sony believe was taken by the intruders.  Here's the list:
  • Name
  • Address (including City, State, Zip, Country)
  • Date of Birth
  • User name
  • Password
  • Email address
  • Your security questions and answers
  • Oh, and let's not forget credit card data

At this point, Sony is saying they don't believe the intruders were able obtain the CC's expiration date and security code, but with such an extensive amount of data lost, it seems stupid to plan for anything but that.

For now, Sony is recommending that if you've used the same user name and password for anything else, anywhere else on the internet, that you immediately change that password on those sites.  They're also recommending that you contact one of the credit bureaus and place a "fraud alert" on your account.  This will cause any business to take extra steps when anyone attempts to gain credit using your information.  Although, a personal friend of mine has done this due to a prior compromise to his personal data, and he explained that what extra steps are taken are completely up to the discretion of the business that's requested the credit information.  Meaning they may be vigilant, or they may do nothing.  They are not required to do anything at all.

Experts have encouraged us for years to shred our discarded documents and not hand out our Social Security Number's to just anyone in order to protect our identity's.  While that's important, I've always maintained that the real threat comes from the poor security implementations at the companies we do business with. This is the second time in a month my personal data has been lost by a corporation due to their incompetence.  Big ones you'd expect to have their shit together!  In the first instance it was my bank that notified me, but they weren't the ones that lost it.  Apparently they like to store my data on another firms computers, and they lost my data!

What's our recourse, what can we do about it?  Pretty much, not a damned thing.  Other than now having the increased burden of personally enacting even tighter vigilance to protect our financial well being, there's nothing we can do.  Because of some company's bumbling IT Security squad, the onus is on us to take even more steps to protect ourselves.  But what's really frustrating is that there's nothing we can do to prevent this in the future.  At least right now, there's no other alternative.  If you want to do business with some company, you must provide your personal information to them and trust that Cletus, head of security, knows what the hell he's doing and is going to keep your data safe.  Well, he'll get to it as soon as he gets back from the crawdad hole.

Fred's Take
First, I'm uncomfortable with the onus.  I particularly don't like to have onus anywhere around me and I DO NOT like it on me.   Tim is right that there's nothing we can really do about our personal data but our data is unchanging and out there anyway.   Ever rent an apartment?  Well your social security number is sitting in someone's filing cabinet.   You think the rathole places you rented from when you were young properly shredded those files?   You think that cabbie who's credit card machine stopped working is going to properly handle the imprints of your card and the info on the back?  You think someone isn't going to run up to your mailbox and grab out a couple of your credit card bills?   Lots of info on those.

All that stuff is already out there.  Our security has come down to how secure the login process is on our accounts.  People are going to attempt to open up fraudulent accounts no matter what.   What we need to do is protect the existing accounts.    Now I could go on and on about not using your daughter's birthday as the password to your bank account.  (And no, adding your penis size to that number doesn't make you more secure, it just makes your H1 purchase a little easier for us to understand).

There are plenty of tools out there but I'm going to reccomend Roboform because it works and I've used it for years.  Spend a couple of extra bucks and get Roboform Everywhere.  You can use this on all your devices and all your accounts follow you around.   Make one long-ass hard password that has different birthdays and special characters and maybe your favorite physics formula, throw in a couple of children's names, some movie trivia (then add your penis size) and now you've got a good secure master password.

Now just use the tool to auto generate long random-ass passwords that are different for every site.  If one gets hacked, the rest are still secure.  I don't know what any of my passwords are now.  I don't have to.  I have one that I remember and rest takes care of itself.  We get no money from these guys.  (Not because of some integrity thing but because we don't know how to work that angle.)  All kidding aside, this is a solid tool, works well and makes it easy to have ultra secure passwords unique for every site.  It's 10 bucks a year people.  If you can't afford that, you may want to consider the possibility that you may not be high on the hacker's list anyway and that subscription to the PS3 store may be a little beyond your means right now.

Just sayin...

F1-Geeks Armchair Team Principal (Shanghai Post Race Recap)

Busy Busy Busy.   Such is life and so went the Shanghai race.   There was a lot going on.  As there was no break between races this time we'll talk through the track while we talk about the race.  This track is fun to race on and I imagine it's a favorite of the drivers as well. 

F1-Fun Fact:  Since the track was built on swampland, the engineers decided it would be a good idea to increase it's buoyancy by building it on top of styrofoam.  That's right, about as much stryofoam as China can produce in a year is sitting under that track.  Take that planet huggers.  Not only is F1 responsible for preventing a couple of billion styrofoam cups from being released to coffee stations around the world, they've blanketed a section of our planet in a nice cozy thermally protective cover.  That we race on.

"You double-dare me to go out on Primes?  You're on, pal!"
 Some surprises in qualifying had Webber not make it out of the first session. Not terribly disappointing but a drag for RBR.(1)  Not sure why he went out on the hard tires because there are a lot of places where the grip of fresh tires would be nice to have when you are trying to put together a single good lap.  

Turn 1 is a little tricky but you just turn in early and you'll be fine as long as you don't weave back and forth like a drunken lunatic trying to block the people behind you.   It is an option, apparently, and Vettel, having missed the geometry lesson about the shortest distance between two points ended up losing two places at the start of the race.

While we kept waiting for the fuel spill in the McLaren garage to cause Hamilton to "Johnny Storm" around the first lap, by turn 3 it became clear that wasn't going to happen.  Don't get me wrong here.  Hamilton seems a decent fellow and we don't want anyone burned (even Webber), but it really would have been cool to see a non-injury inducing fireball.  

"I didn't want your stupid tires anyway!"

Lots of people got a little too excited for their own good.  The fuel guys at McLaren, Vettel at the start and even the Torro Rosso guys had a bit when they tried to emulate their senior team's drivers and nearly took each other out.(2)  Two big moments came in the pits when Button totally forgot that Silver is not Blue and California-stopped his Mercedes in the Red Bull pit space.(3)  And when the Torro Rosso team decided they did not wany any more close calls between the teammates, they played the old "Lug nut?  What lug nut?" game with Alguersuari's right rear which then, driven by an unyielding desire to be free, saw it's chance and proceeded to do exactly that.

Nico led for a bit and I would have been OK with a win for him but it wasn't to be the case as Hamilton moved into first and stayed there.   Passing was happening all over the place and the rules changes really seemed to have done their job to promote that.

As much as I am generally displeased with Webber, even I have to admit his drive was remarkable.  Starting from 18th and clawing his way up to 3rd, It was reminiscent of the Schumacher of old. (4)

A few comments about this track.  It is one of my favorites.   I'm still trying to get used to the idea of it being near the beginning of the season, but I think I like it better up front.   It's nice and wide and provides a lot of excitement.  Perfect showcase if you want to show F1 to someone who has never seen it.  Lots of goodness here and the track is a good time, but nothing compares to the sequence starting with 11.  The opposite of turn 2 where you get slower and slower and slower, this sequence ends with an increasing radius corner.  I love this sequence.  It's like the best freeway on-ramp ever.  You just get in place and get faster and faster then rocket out on to the straight.   Sweet mother.  It's awesome. (5)

For those of you keeping score at home:  I qualified 6th in the simulation with my first hot lap of Q3 and was bumped by Hamilton coming out of 8 and hit the barrier so hard I could not continue.  Tim finished so again, the demons of F1 take me.

Tim's Take:
I admit, I'm at a bit of a loss to sum up this race.  I remember with 12 laps to go in the race, I turned to Fred and said, I honestly have no idea, nor could I predict who will win this race.  That kind of sums up how all these changes have affected F1.  And I for one, love it!

If I could ask Mr. Vettel one question it would be "What the hell?!"  I've watched the guy lose first place heading down to turn one on at least 4 occasions because he's running all over the place trying to keep the others behind him.  He's like my neurotic dog that seems more concerned with keeping an eye on our calm dog than joining in when we're all playing and having fun; all wide eyed and crazy.  

It was cool to see Button jump ahead and lead the race for a bit.  He might have kept the lead too if he hadn't stopped by to wave at the Red Bull pit team.  He was hoping they'd be intimidated by his spiffy new racing suit.

Apparently the Sea of Japan is no barrier for the tire steeling spirit Taiya Dorobō, who left Suzuka long enough to hop over and tap poor Jaime Alguersuari on the shoulder.  After Dorobō claimed his tire, shrieks of giddy laughter could be heard coming from Buemi's car.  But then that might have just been Buemi relieved Dorobō didn't come for him like he did last year in Shanghai. 

Like Fred was mentioning, I have to tip my hat to Webber for what was a truly impressive drive.  After what can only be described as the perfect storm of suck that left him qualifying 18th, he pulled off an incredible drive to finish 3rd.  They'd said he went out on the hard tires so that he could save the softs for the race.  I guess it worked, sort of.  Wouldn't have just been easier to qualify in the top 6 and try and work your way up from there?  Still, "not bad for a number 2 driver."(6)

Paul di Resta manages to impress everyone again. I know he finished out of the points at 11th, but then so did his teammate Sutil at 14th.  Don't get me wrong, I think Sutil is a good driver.  But I think di Resta could prove himself to be a great driver. 

Sorry to see the Renault boys finish so far back this time.  I still think they're going to impress us as the season goes on.

Hamilton giving props to the McLaren boys

This makes two races in a row Massa was not intimidated by Alonso's eyebrows and finished ahead of him.  The only possible explanation is that he was ignoring his radio communications with Rob Smedly.  Fernando's pass on Schumacher, somewhere around lap 25, was one of the best up and unders I've seen.
There was a time when I was a big Hamilton fan, but that's kind of waned.  I was kind of glad to see him win the race, but I thought it was pretty cool to see how much the win meant to him.  First person ever to win two GPs at the Shanghai circuit.

  1. Yes, I'm still holding a grudge against Webber for his dumb ass move which took Vettel out at Turkey last year.  I can hear you saying, "Wait a minute! Webber just held his line.  Vettel drove into him."  To that I say, "Vettel was ahead, Webber sucks, shut your mouth."
  2. Thankfully these guys actually care about the team and the car behind yeilded to his teammate.
  3. Rumor has it he called out an order for a Cherry Lime-aid just to mess with the guys.
  4. Although Schumacher would have somehow made it to first while causing the McLarens and the RedBulls to incurr a 10 spot penalty at the next race.
  5. And that's just experiencing it on a game.  Imagine what this would be like in the car.  Any car.   Webber sucks.
  6. Remember that lame ass, cry-baby quote from Webber last year?  I know I won't forget it.