David Westerfield

Theology, Culture, Technology, Reviews, and Other Commentary

Tag: 2012

NSA Snooping: Nothing New Under the Sun… Yet Still Just as Concerning

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/06/06/us-usa-wiretaps-verizon-idUSBRE95502920130606

The infamous AT&T San Francisco central office secret NSA room.My, how easily we forget history. Even recent history. 2006 wasn’t that long ago, when an AT&T technician outed the National Security Agency’s program to install Narus data siphoning devices in the AT&T central offices. At the time Bush was president. Conservatives ignored all the noise about warrantless wiretaps from their political opponents and explained it away as necessary for the war on terror (oddly enough as our own president did today). I even held that view until these revelations. Then I became concerned. Little did the conservatives realize the civil libertarians (and concerned liberals) were right all along: this will be used, not for outsiders, but for us (much like DHS, but that’s another story, though eerily related).

Now Obama is president and the tables are turned. If we go back and read the articles in which the media was (rightly) concerned about President Bush’s warrantless wiretapping as it relates to the Constitution, we see it takes on a whole new meaning now that Obama is President and conservatives are being targeted. Whether it’s Bush or Obama though (who, on this point at least, are one in the same), we are coming to find out that we’re all civil libertarians now. The government has way too much power for the good of us all. And it will never lessen its grip without a fight.

That it has been revealed Verizon has tracked (eh hem, is tracking, eh hem) millions of calls only reveals the tip of the iceberg. It goes much, much deeper and broader than that.

Below is a list of some of the stories, videos and testimony from the early to mid-2000′s forward in which all of this was brought up over and over again: NSA is siphoning and storing our data. All they can get their hands on. They siphon it, mine it, store it, create data cubes off of it, make it searchable, sort it, analyze it, report off of it. What I know from the IT world of data storage, searching and analysis, applied to private data in this context, is frightening. And now NSA is fixing to launch their Bluffdale data center in which yottabytes of data will be stored. It’s a Brave New World. Big Data isn’t just a concept in the corporate IT world, but rather very much a part of data acquisition, storage, reporting, and sorting theory by the government.

What more can be said to show this government is out of control? Not sure what else can be done, short of a serious crisis to get us to wake up. The cultural rot, the malaise, the lack of incentive, the entitlement, the willful ignorance, and most of all, the loss of gospel-truth taking hold in people’s hearts. Saddening situation.

Lord help us, seriously, if there is ever a serious crisis causing dislocation. Emergency legislation waits in the wings. You know I never have understood over the years when I talk to people about these things how they can just flippantly say, “Yeah, I’m sure they’re listening to everything,” almost in disbelief. And I reply, “No seriously, they’re siphoning our data,” so as to emphasize the fact that it is happening, I’m not talking in hypotheticals. Unfortunately it will take a series of crises to get people to wake up to the seriousness of what we’re facing politically, economically, socially, spiritually.

Ron Paul’s Final Speech on the Floor of Congress

SharePoint Conference 2012 – Some Highlights of What’s Coming

Here are some highlights from the conference. There’s a lot more detail, but this is the good stuff I’ve gathered.

  • SP2013 RTM was released.
  • Drag and drop documents into document folder; preview documents in pop-up window (including the ability to scroll through, it’s not just an image). Really cool.
  • Drag and drop does work cross-browser. Really great news.
  • One of the coolest functions for developers and designers in SP2013: automatic HTML to master page conversion.
  • SP2013 is backward compatible with 2010 … in almost every way, from back-end to front-end (this was contradicted later as I’ll show, however for the most part, I believe it’s accurate)
  • SP2013 central admin UI is different but structure/taxonomy is the same for the most part
  • Said in keynote: custom solutions work just the same in 2013 from 2010. (Yeah, we’ll see :) )
  • New: Search-driven navigation. Intriguing and powerful.
  • Your own profile in MySites has a news feed that looks almost like Facebook and Twitter combined. You can follow certain sites or (what were once called) document libraries and it will all show up in one feed. You can then interact with others’ posts and conversations.
  • Client and server-side, they made significant reductions in I/O (on the back-end) and bandwidth (via the front-end); 40% reduction in bandwidth usage over-all; 50% reduction in SQL I/O by eliminating redundant queries and limiting the number of queries a single page makes; image compression is now 4X what it was.
  • eDiscovery: not just for SP, but also Exchange and other apps (like Project Server). You can freeze a file in its existing state, without affecting the file itself (meaning changes can still be made, but it doesn’t change the copy you’ve frozen), without user knowing it, in case of audit.
  • When versioning items, now only the delta is saved as opposed to the entire item each time. This significantly reduces SQL content DB growth.
  • Web analytics is now rolled into search. Very cool.
  • Down side: you cannot do an in-place upgrade. Only database attach. Not many people were happy about that apparently (maybe it was just me; that’s how I upgraded 2007 to 2010).
  • Down side: Office Web Apps now exists on its own, you no longer install it within SP as a service application. If upgrading, you would need to install Office Web Apps on its own server(s).
  • OWA bolts into Exchange now. Interesting.

Some pictures:

For whatever reason, I got an upgraded hotel room at Mandalay Bay; a suite, very nice:

Keynote time!

It’s amazing these are still allowed in hotels. Wonder how much longer that will last. Even Vegas still holds out hope and truth though for now.

Mandalay Bay Hotel, Luxor in the middle, and THEhotel to the left.

ClubLAX, aka ClubSPC (since M$ bought it out from 6-8pm one night); the decibel level was astounding. I’m getting old.

Bumblebee, of course.

One of the many meals where 10,000 people were served two full meals a day. Quite a serious logistical operation. Mandalay Bay pulled it off. Very impressive.

Waiting in line, for 40 minutes, with 10,000 people for Jon Bon Jovi and a lot of food; the SPC Beach Party. The lobster tacos were killer. I was too full after those to try anything else. I had to bolt early to make it to the next event …

This was the highlight for me: The @RBAConsulting Sky Party. 34th floor of the Palms Casino Resort, overlooking the strip. I overheard that this loft/suite was $40,000 a night? Good grief. Cigar rolling, drink, food, music, all overlooking Vegas. The pool went out over the edge, suspended. It was by far the coolest event I went to.

Cigar Rolling

Best shot I got …

DJ, mixin’ it up! He never did get around to the Snoop Dogg song I requested though :)

Oh yeah, and looooots of SharePoint sessions :)

Together for the Gospel (T4G) 2012 – Audio and Video

I’ll be posting audio and video from the Together for the Gospel Conference as it becomes available.

1: The Sustaining Power of the Gospel – C.J. Mahaney (MP3)


2: The Power of the Articulated Gospel – Albert Mohler (MP3)


3: False Conversions: The Suicide of the Church – Mark Dever (MP3)


4: Will Your Gospel Transforms a Terrorist? – Thabiti Anyabwile (MP3)


5: Spirit-Powered, Gospel-Driven, Faith-Fueled Effort – Kevin DeYoung (MP3)


6: Divine Sovereignty: The Fuel of Death-Defying Missions – David Platt (MP3)


7: The Underestimated God – Ligon Duncan (MP3)


8: The Fulfillment of the Gospel – Matt Chandler (MP3)


9: Glory, Majesty, Dominion, and Authority Keep Us Safe for Everlasting Joy – John Piper (MP3)

Peter Schiff on Obama’s State of the Union: Slam Dunk

“What If?” – Judge Napolitano

The Judge nails it here. The fundamental problem in our political process now is that the establishment, or what many are calling the national security state (i.e. the real governing power structure of the US), merely seeks to keep us all at bay through pigeon-holing us, via the electoral process, into one side or the other; and yet at the same time, none of the policies substantively change. On many core issues, Obama merely expanded what Bush had already done, which was anti-conservative in many if not most respects. Question is, do you, Republican voter, actually believe it will change if Romney or Gingrich or even Santorum are elected? I don’t anymore. Obama fooled his own base by making them think he was different from Bush on issues related to this national security state. Boy were they wrong. Power has shifted from consent of the governed to the governing authorities and they both use the art of persuasion, propaganda and public relations to make us feel as if there’s some sort of major difference when they merely formulate their own policy behind closed doors without even considering the people’s thought on various issues. For all the rhetoric of picking issues and staking out sides, not much changes from one President to the other. Only this time, Obama has radically expanded the policies. I believe Ron Paul represents the only choice who can shake up this establishment.



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