Tag: security

Safety First

Pointless, boring story ahead.

The first man came in the late morning and marked the positions. The second one carried a box with devices and a laptop. He sat on the floor and busily scanned codes in, marked the devices, sorted them and left, remarking that they’d be “scharf” now, loaded. The third hauled a large power drill and fixed the devices, all three in less than seven minutes. He left with a grin and gave me a xerocopied instructional paper.
You may already guessed it, venerated reader, I am talking about smoke detectors that were installed in my rooms. All for safety.
What I do not understand is that these things must be so terribly ugly.

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They successfully searched for the ugliest smoke detector available in Europe.
They successfully searched for the ugliest smoke detector available in Europe.

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They look like anti-personal-mines.
I chatted with my neighbour who is living in a pretty large appartement. They had six of these things bolted to the ceiling. Also another neighbour some floors up found six of these design disasters decorating her flat. So I wondered when in a friend’s flat of the same design only five abominations were installed. I met laptop man in the lift when he carried a new box of devices and said something along the line that they surely fitted some hundreds in this large appartement house. He was a little upset and complained that he had been told to bring more than 300 of the things, but he only had 200 mounted, at the utmost. If it would have been better organised they’d be at home already.

Yesterday I walked past the janitor’s office, found the door open and him sitting at his desk. I looked, he waved me in, kicked a chair in front of the desk and asked “What’s up ?”
I expressed my astonishment about the not mounted safety device and the lack of coordination. He rolled his eyes and explained that laptop man & friends were clearly instructed to nail a smoke detector at the ceiling of every room that is possibly a sleeping room, and in the exits or hallways (“Fluchtwege”). Of course not in bathrooms and kitchens, obviously. Laptop man decided to install the things only in rooms that right now are used as sleeping rooms. The large room in my friend’s flat is actually used as a bureau – no bed, no smoke detector.
And while they were at it, they ignored the basement level completely (six appartements) and were busily searching for the “Dachgeschoss”, the attic, that is miraculously not built.
There will be another date to fix the mess. It is not clear whether laptop man & friends will do this.
While I sat there I asked him what would happen if I heard such an alarm ? “I mean : Thursday morning, 09:30, I’m back from my morning drive, ready to sleep an hour. All my neighbours are at work or at the university, usually I am alone on the floor. I hear an alarm two doors down. I knock at the door, no reaction. My janitor is not reachable, he has to take care for other objects too, some miles away. Even if you’d be here, you are not allowed to open the door.” “That would be burglary”, he chipped in.
“I call the firefighters. They go in, false alert. Do I pay the operation ?” “Nice question”, he said, “especially because it was not asked before.” “So what does my landlord say ?”
He thought for a minute and told me that if he would ask this in the centre office they’d kick him and tell him to mind his own business. Very nice shop morale.
As he knows his company, they would pass the question to the firefighters.
He pulled out a file card and called the village firefighters, 70something.
No one reachable, even after several tries.
He called the village administration and asked for the number of the force – 70something. And, after complaining that it is useless, he got the number of a portable.
Which is not working. We tried two times : Number not taken, not connected to a customer.
“Better not burn here” he said. “Commander’s out for lunch”, I agreed.
So he called the emergency number.
“Yes, relax, no alarm” – and he told his story and asked the question. Their answer was clear : They are the professional force. If someone calls them they need to know where the emergency is, then they alarm the local force. The local force deals with it and decides whether they need professional help. The cost is not their business, that is between the local force and the local administration. For this village, they call 70something.
“Thank you.”
Two middle-aged blokes with too much time to spare and a telephone.
All in the name of safety, of course.

Adventures in Computing

Some weeks go I received an email from dropbox telling me that they had changed their terms of service. Nice to tell me, but why ? It dawned on me that sometimes in 2013 or 2012 I had opened an account there out of curiosity, simply to have a look. I never used it and thought that they’d simply delete it when it’s not used for say 12 months ? So I went there, logged in with the standard name and password and deleted the account.
I received a confirmation email:

“This email is a confirmation that you’ve deleted your Dropbox account. Your files are no longer on Dropbox, but we haven’t removed them from your computers.”

It’s nice that they refrained from deleting stuff from my computer(s). I had no idea … In the end it is simply a friendly hint that nothing is lost on one’s machine(s) when the service is cancelled. I may be a bit paranoid.

But what made me think is that I simply pegged in some address & a “password” and was in. I realized that I use(d) only one password for all and everything. I am not that vain to believe that what I read on GoodNoos, or my preferences on StumbleUpon or something else of this kind, would be of any interest for the big bad hacker. But I use it for more serious accounts too, business and tax related for example. And I would not like someone to have a look there. Of course I realise that if a state, be it my own or a really friendly superpower, would for what reasons ever have an interest to read these data, they could. But I do not want to make it that easy.
Additionally the heartbleed-bug affected some sites I use, and all of a sudden this rather simple & pretty worn “password” does not look so nice any more.
So I had a look at so-called password managers that come with encryption tools and autofill abilities. On Slate was an article about it. Some are free, and from these some only work with IE or FF. I use a chromium derivative, and finally tested KeePass2 – maybe it’s too late for the developer to rethink the naming.
I think I like it. It works well so far ; one can change a lot of things (what I will surely do not, but one can play around) ; it can generate passwords that are hard to crack, and fills them in when I want this to happen – I think that is what I like about it : It only works when I tell the program to do what it should do on an account starting page, no automatisms. So slowly and one by one the list of “managed” & changed (!) passwords will grow.
Of course, if this little database goes kaputt, I have a real problem.

Browsers

Ach, it is so annoying when something that simply works, all of a sudden does not work as usual. And especially when one (me!) finds no way to solve the problem.
Some months ago I switched back to the INTERNET EXPLORER from FIREFOX. I just felt that the Fox had become a bit fat and was not so fast as it used to be. And there were (are) new functions I do not need and want. After toying around with OPERA – which is finally free from advertisements – and looking at other solutions like MIDORI and such, I boarded the large Microsoft-steamer and all was fine. Until recently, when I noticed that I can not use my web.de email account for writing emails with IE anymore. I blame some security thing. I switched off what was to switch, like adblockers and such stuff, but IE simply freezes when I dare to click on “write an email” in said email program.
Another disturbing thing is that IE informs me now, when I go to my WordPress dashboard that it shows me only the “secure content”. I honestly did not change settings since I use(d) IE, and did not ask IE to protect me from my own blog. I have no clue what the “insecure” content may be: There is a linked text displayed “What’s the risk?” that leads to a “help-” box, but there comes no further text; and I can seriously see no difference between the “secure” screen and the “insecure” version of my wordpress dashboard. Again I blame some security thing. But I do not like that obviously settings were changed without asking me.
So I had another look around. And because I do not like google that much I did not go for CHROME, but some solid old IRON (Ger., Eng.). It is faster than IE and they really did a lot of development. I had a very early version once and had to quit it because it did not show some pages I need(ed), but now it does. The links imported easily, of course I have to sort through them and re-arrange, a nice chance to get rid of old bookmarks.

Crime in the Village

Over this village leads the approach path for emergency helicopters which transport patients to the brand new hospitals some hills to the North of my house. So the sound of  such a a machine is not too uncommon, but this one did not move away but hovered over the next neighbourhood. I noticed a police transporter in the small valley. There is a home for the elderly and sometimes a person gets lost in the wooded area behind the village. Then a thermographic camera is used to spot the person. But this time the helicopter aimed on the housing area.  Later I went out for some groceries and met a neighbour, who told me that the post office was robbed. The police was searching for the robbers and thought them to be still in the area. I bought my vegetables and on my way back I saw an unmarked car pull over and plain-clothes policemen controlled a tall thin man.
I know the post office lady and hope that she was not hurt.