Beer lovers who are actually beer haters?

Too often I see self-proclamations of beer lovers that advertise all kinds of equipment to cool down the beer to arctic temperatures.

I am not sure how these people qualify as beer lovers.

If you numb your taste buds by cooling down the beer to freezing temperatures, how does that allow one to taste and enjoy the beer?

If you’d cool down a wine to similar temperatures, lots of people would complain and call it a sacrilege. But for beer it’s somehow permissible and even encouraged.

I don’t get it at all and prefer to drink my beer at temperatures at which I would also drink wine.

// Oliver

Posted in Beer, EN, Opinion | Leave a comment

Palettes in Iceland?

Okay, palettes (vörubretti) can be bought in Iceland from Saltkaup in Hafnarfjörður. I picked the plastic ones as they are lighter1 and offer more net weight for the freight I plan to ship. However, they also offer wooden palettes and there are two more only a stone throw away from Saltkaup, including Brettasmiðjan.

At Saltkaup one EUR1-size palette from plastic was 1500 ISK + VSK2.

Search for vörubretti or bretti, but make sure to ignore anything referring to snow boards ;)

// Oliver

PS: Saltkaup also offers other goods that can aid when moving, btw ;)

  1. just 4.5 to 7.5 kg for a EUR1-size palette []
  2. VSK == VAT []
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Live from Iceland? Yep!

Turns out the webcam at Jökulsárlón is indeed live. Here am I yesterday around half past five in the afternoon:

Screenshot 22nd of July 2014 livefromiceland.is
(click to see full size)

… in my lime shirt with the “Free Shrugs …” motto and brown corduroys.

// Oliver

Posted in EN, Island/Iceland/Ísland | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

A pretty good one

Here’s a “joke” on part of NATO, quote:

Secondly, all of NATO’s deployments have taken place on NATO territory, with the intention to deter threats to NATO territory.

True, but of course this ignores the promises that were made more than twenty years ago not to expand the NATO eastwards. But since Poland has now moved towards the north Atlantic coast with Georgia and Ukraine slated to join them soon, the Russian bear feels somewhat cornered. Possible after a first few growls it might lash out soon. Let’s hope it won’t get that far.

Russia, on the other hand, has illegally annexed Crimea, allowed mercenaries and heavy weapons to flow across its border into Ukraine, and refused to condemn the aggressive and illegal actions of armed separatists in Ukraine, as it committed to do in Geneva in April. Recruiting efforts for separatist fighters are also expanding inside Russia.

Oh the irony1! As one German political satirist quipped so nicely: Putin let the Crimeans vote by whom they prefer to be oppressed – and they opted for Russia/Putin.

Quite frankly I think that perhaps the referendum was even legit. We might never know. But the outcome could make sense in the light of the ethnic-Russian population et cetera. It still doesn’t matter. “The West” condemns anything not fitting its own agenda while praising the exact same thing, sometimes in an even more ridiculous shade, where it fits (e.g. Kosovo vs. Crimea). And the best part is that the democratic “international community” is led by a country in which there are two big parties whose agendas differ by not much more than 10-20 years. What’s the difference compared to Putin’s “directed democracy” or the single-party socialistic countries that went they way of the dodo at the beginning of the 1990s?

And if I remember correctly ‘t was Greystone mercenaries – a “private military company” closely affiliated with Academi2 formerly known as Xe, formerly known as Blackwater and headquartered just around the corner from the CIA headquarters in McLean – that were spotted in Ukraine during previous escalations that led to the current state of a civil war in Ukraine’s East. But of course those mercenaries were probably all legally deployed, I guess?!

One thing is remarkable in that statement, though. They don’t use the term terrorist, which is good. Calling someone terrorist is the modern version of dehumanizing your opponent in order to justify crueler actions. Of course the Ukrainian government in Kiev doesn’t mince their words quite that much, neither to the separatists themselves, calling the opponents fascists and the like.

You can think of Putin what you will, but he’s right about one thing: if the “international community”, AKA “the West”, wants to support Ukraine, they shouldn’t exclude everybody below the oligarchic elite of Ukraine. Unfortunately that’s something that many Ukrainians are willingly blind to. Why? Because on a smaller scale many of them benefit from the corruption which keeps the oligarchs at the top in power. No one sees the damage this does to society as a whole and in turn to themselves. It’s the same cognitive dissonance at play in people that commit tax fraud for their individual profit, not recognizing the implications this has for society as a whole and still lamenting about shortcomings that can well be attributed to asocial behavior like tax fraud.

It would be nice if Ukraine would once again become the country I love and remember as my second home3. It doesn’t look like it ever will be, though. What a tragedy.

A hundred years full of wars, including two world wars, and politicians the world over seem not to have learned one bit. Sleepwalking into the next one? …

// Oliver

  1. for my US-American friends: irony is the same as goldy and bronzy, just made from iron []
  2. another name that could originate at MiniTru from Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty Four []
  3. Iceland coming third, sorry :) … []
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When in Rome …

Strange, the parents – especially the native Icelandic mother – of this 10-year old girl (related English article by The Guardian) should have been aware of the naming rules here in Iceland. What’s the big deal?

Usually Icelanders have first name, middle name and patronym or matronym as last name, occasionally a family name instead if their heritage is Danish, Norwegian or Swedish within the last few hundred years under changing rule.

When first confronted with the fact I was a bit surprised, but by no means shocked or disgusted by the idea. The fact that names of Icelandic citizens should conform to Icelandic grammar shouldn’t be a surprise and is certainly sensible. The fact that a commission has to approve the name is the other side of the coin and indeed stifles creativity as Jón Gnarr complains in The Guardian article linked above.

Heck, the commission even approved names starting with C and C is a letter not known from Icelandic words. Every Icelander having a middle name usually goes by either first or middle name chosen depending on the circumstances and taste. E.g. if there’s a Sigurður Ragnar and a Sigurður Arnar in the same study group, one might go by Ragnar the other by Sigurður. Icelanders generally call each other with the informal þú, related to English thou, and first names. There is nothing like Mister Þórarinsson for a Sigurður Ragnar Þórarinsson, because it would be pointless for a patronym to be used to address an individual when there are dozens, if not hundreds, of other individuals descended from a father named Þórarinn.

What’s more Icelandic names are beautiful. Nothing wrong with preserving and promoting that beauty in the context of this small society.

One thing is for sure, though. The rules should be completely waterproof and right now there seems to be enough room for discussion and interpretation. But then, it’s a common ailment from which legislators the world over seem to suffer …

If I were to pick up an Icelandic name it’d be Ólafur which is close enough to my original name, has a similar nickname Óli instead of Olli, and may even be related to Oliver, although that’s disputed (origin may be Romance languages, having something to do with olives, or Ólafur and Olaf etc.).

// Oliver

Posted in EN, Island/Iceland/Ísland, Opinion | Leave a comment

Dearest Icelanders, I have a confession to make

As a bearded alien I have lived among you for some years now. Wearing shorts as early as March and sometimes walking barefoot down Laugavegur I have shaped your visitors’ conception of “Icelanders”.

But whatcha gonna do about it? :razz:

Other than that: Gleðilega þjóðhátíð! Big deal this year? 1944 to 2014 …?

// Oliver

Posted in /dev/null, EN, Island/Iceland/Ísland | 2 Comments

Hey America(*), how are you?

(*) … well, I mean the USA of course. Apologies to the rest (and majority) of Americans on the twin-continent. But for the scope of this blog post I’ll continue this way.

Thanks for your hospitality, America. It’s now been three months since I had the pleasure to visit you, see your lifestyle, meet some more of the people that you usually don’t get to meet because they like you so much they never leave you.

I never thought I’d visit you ever in my lifetime unless a revolution would return you to the principles the founding fathers tried to instill in the young republic, but which evidently wore off during the time since then. However, my boss – Siggi – asked me to consider it and my significant other graduated in American studies and suggested I take the offer. So I did. Sure enough it also meant that I’d have to spend my birthday as your guest, but the only precaution I took was not to tell anybody as to make sure not to end up in some weird birthday situation at some restaurant or even at the office.

I arrived very tired at Dulles on 1st of March. The unattended sports bag in the queue in which I waited for over half an hour was a bit unsettling, but none of your security officers really cared, when I told them. It was more or less shrugged off.

Alright then. So showing passport, getting photo taken, hand or fingerprints. Awesome. Not exactly what I would do to my guests, but as a EU citizen who am I to judge. After all the EU is so far up your politicians’ rear side that they have lost sight of any sensible approaches in those matters.

Anyway. The officer asked me what I was doing, told him we were on a visit to the Virginian site of the company in McLean and then explained briefly what type of software this was about. He seemed mildly interested, handed me my papers and waved me through.

Got the luggage quickly from the luggage belt – after all it had probably been circling there for an half an hour or so.

We got picked up by two of your naturalized, i.e. relatively new, citizens, colleagues and friends.

The good part about visiting you is that for the most part the language is comprehensible, thanks to your broadcasting shows and Hollywood movies worldwide. Well, unless you’re a German living in Germany and get to see the dubbed version only. Fortunately I’ve left that behind me.

Anyway, that night was mostly trying to somehow get something to eat and go to sleep.

How convenient it was then to find out that only a few meters from the residence in Falls Church was a plaza with Starbucks and CVS pharmacy. I suspect a few more Starbucks were hidden inside the shops of the plaza and perhaps in some backroom or the basement of Starbucks itself. Not that the coffee there is the best. Not at all. But it’s consistent – as someone put it. And when you have your Grande Vanilla Latte in the morning with six shots of Espresso overall you can literally feel the caffeine speeding through your veins after a few minutes. With the jetlag and all it was a blessing.

By the way, when are they going to upgrade to a better version control system than CVS? I mean it’s so 1980s … I couldn’t help but smirk :lol:

After fetching us some coffee on March 2nd we went on Gallows Rd towards the Mosaic District where we’d been for some food and drinks the night before. We passed by a McDonalds and I think Siggi still possesses photographic evidence of me coming out of there. I went in while he held my coffee and checked out how different it was and it turns out other than the menu being slightly different and having prices in US dollar, not so much. Didn’t buy anything. But it’s an American thing, McDonalds, isn’t it? And when in Rome …

Anyway, we were picked up from Mosaic District in Falls Church and then went to the White House and some of the sightseeing locations in Washington DC. Some of the buildings were very impressive. Some reminded me a little of the pompous socialist architecture in Moscow that Westerners often like to poke fun at – especially the FTC building, including the artwork there. We stopped not far from the Washington Monument, crossed the Constitution Ave, if I remember correctly, and went to see the White House. First the usual view you get to see on TV, from the Ellipse, and then to the other side at Lafayette Square (Pennsylvania Ave). From there we headed to the Capitol, passing the old post office – which one of our hosts recommended to climb to get a nice view over the city, but was closed – several federal buildings such as the FBI, The National Archives Store, Dept. of Justice and the FTC. In front of the The National Archives Store I handed a five dollar bill to a homeless guy. It was a nice day for me, so I told him to get something nice for himself, too.

I also noticed a huge inscription at the Dept. of Justice building I wish US-Americans would take more to heart, especially in light of world-wide drone killings in their name and because of Gitmo which the current president in the White House promised to close but never got around to:

NO FREE GOVERNMENT CAN SURVIVE
THAT IS NOT BASED ON THE
SUPREMACY OF THE LAW
WHERE LAW ENDS TYRANNY BEGINS
LAW ALONE CAN GIVE US FREEDOM

(inscription on the Robert F. Kennedy Building, Federal Triangle, Washington, DC, USA)

Sure enough none of the folks with me, including your very own naturalized citizens noticed the inscription. I guess ignorance sometimes is bliss. When I pointed it out, they shrugged it off :)

The Capitol was impressive in size and unfortunately I didn’t have enough time to see the library. Being a self-confessed bibliophile this should be for me like Mecca to the devout Muslim.

We returned to the car via The Mall and passed by the Smithsonian Castle, among other things. Krassie and Ceco, our hosts, pointed out all kinds of peculiarities and what they deemed mandatory to visit et cetera. My boundless curiosity must have been quite exhausting for them at times and sure enough it surpassed their knowledge about the city several times. On they other hand they could offer those little tidbits you’ll not likely find in a tourist guide.

On the way back we passed the Washington Monument close up and Siggi used the chance to “hack” some Ingress portals there.

Ceco already warned us that afternoon that for the next day a blizzard had been forecast for the capital area and sure enough we had perhaps one inch of snow the next morning.

The fridge in my apartment – yeah, I think a small family could have stayed there – was not only impressive in size but also in sound capabilities. I’d liken it to a departing airliner. When that happens in the middle of the night it’s somewhat confusing, though.

Next morning it was somewhat amusing to see the everybody struggle with this little snow which shouldn’t be so surprising at the beginning of March. Sure enough the office was nearly empty that day. It was also the first day I noticed the yellow school buses parked in a depot a few yards from the residence at which we stayed. It was explained to us that the removal of snow was mostly outsourced to some contractors with trucks that were equipped with snow shields and could be called on-demand. An interesting concept and it seemed to work for the most part.

That day we also went to eat at Harry’s Teeter in McLean, I remember. On the way back we passed the Blackwater and CIA buildings.

Anyway, due to most people not showing up at the office, the day was mostly boring.

By the way, America, what’s it with those six-lane streets …pardon me, roads … you’ve got everywhere. Have you heard of the concept of humans walking on their two legs? Despite some fascinating and vast crossings, not all of them had traffic lights for the two-legged, as opposed to four-wheeled, among us. It was one of those times when I regretted for a brief moment not to have insisted on a rental car.

Next day was more lively and we got to meet a few of our colleagues. Most were friendly and open, but all of them seemed to wonder how I was but didn’t actually care ;-):lol:

I still don’t know how to respond best to “How are you?” Should I take up the mostly nonsensical response “How are you?” or the “Fine fine” or should I empty my heart to the person asking, thus discouraging the “How are you?” next time around?

Anyway, we had loads of meetings and all that comes with it.

Next day – and birthday – I was hoping for a quiet day. It turned out to be quite a fruitful day, but also long and stressful. I took some minutes off during the day as I had promised by parents and my significant other to contact them, because there was no good method for them to contact me the other way around.

After work we went to a fancy restaurant. Unfortunately I don’t remember the name. But the food and drinks were excellent. After that we went to some concert of some indie band. Alas, we were a bit too late. And it was loooooooud. It was also my first contact with the concept of drinking age. Fun fact: one of our colleagues didn’t bring her ID and was therefore not allowed drink any alcohol herself. We joked a bit about it and wondered whether it’d be okay if we purchased it and also moved the glass to her mouth etc. The joking was met with the awkward silence and weird looks that tell you “we’re not kidding, we take that serious” – much like Sarah the Dutch teenager must have felt when she found out that her Twitter prank had backfired.

And they say we Germans have no humor … *g*

Anyway, the biggest challenge that night was finding a parking spot. We went to the hotel late at night.

My SO had already remarked there was something going to be waiting for me at the hotel. I had no idea what she was talking about and asked the receptionist. He didn’t know of anything so I went to my room. When I wanted to have a bit of that orange juice I found a fruit bouquet in the fridge which she had sent me. What a pleasant surprise. And it was technically even still my birthday, even though the day had ended both in Germany and in Iceland by that time.

Next day more meetings and first visit to Tyson’s Corner Center.

On Friday basically the same.

On Saturday, the day I had my returning flight, Ceco and Krassie had offered to take me to the Smithsonians at The Mall. In particular I chose the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

It’s an excellent museum and I was surprised to find out that not entrance fees were due. Ceco explained a bit as to why and I later read up on it on Wikipedia. Another interesting concept, indeed.

I really enjoyed that museum and it certainly lets one yearn for more of that kind. Sure enough The Mall is crowded with museums and exhibitions that seem to be worthwhile visiting.

On the way back to the car we were not sure whether we’d find it or whether it would have been towed. Ceco assured us, though, that parking there would be okay. It was right next to the pond in front of the Capitol. The parking lot normally used by the US senators and cordoned off for them, but apparently free to use during weekends and holidays.

After that the two dropped me off at Dulles.

I went through the TSA checks with headache and opted out of the full body scanner and went for the pat down. Luckily I had read something by the guy behind Taking Sense Away before. Thanks Jason! So in TSA jargon I was:

  • Opt out: A smart passenger.

The TSA officer was professional and it was all in all not a sluggish treatment either. Most opted for the full body scanner, though.

After taking the tram to the terminal, I found myself a shop that sold painkillers and had a bit to eat.

And then a few hours later I was back in Iceland. Jetlagged and again on the West-Icelandic continental plate from which we had departed some hours before in Washington DC. Yes, that’s right America, you lie on the West-Icelandic continental plate. A well known fact among all Icelanders. Trust me!

// Oliver

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Keep it real, tough guys

So Obama did a workout in a gym at the hotel in Warsaw (Poland) and the video “leaked”. Big deal!

What’s the issue? He’s a busy man and lifting weights other than your own body weight isn’t exactly going to do anything good to your body other than making it outward presentable. Politics is all about presenting oneself, so it’s fitting to see. I would have two dozen or so things that I could come up to criticize Obama, but his workouts are certainly not part of that list.

The Twitter comments so far mostly sound like verbal dick size competition …

Just like his sexual orientation, the color of his skin, his gender or other things shouldn’t be used to judge his words and policies – neither should his workouts.

// Oliver

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Macklemore anti-semitic because he looks like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?

My significant other pointed me to this article over at People Magazine. The allegation is that Macklemore is anti-semitic, because his costume looks like a caricature of jews from the Third Reich.

I don’t get it, my first association was “it looks like a caricature of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad“. Honestly, try an image search! The similarities are striking.

Of course in a climate of political correctness and censorship it depends which side of the big pond1 you’re on :mrgreen: … in Iran you may be better off mocking jews than Ahmadinejad, perhaps?

// Oliver

  1. Atlantic, I mean the Atlantic []
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What a headline “FBI arrests 100 hackers over Blackshades malware”

Claims The Guardian. Well, a few things:

  • Hacker refers to a very broad skill set, it doesn’t refer to motives or lack of ethical framework. The term in such case is usually cracker. Many skilled people with a perfectly intact ethical framework are proudly calling themselves hackers.
  • Proper hackers have no need to purchase such malware kit, they have the skills to write it themselves.
  • There are – contradictory to law enforcement authorities’ views – perfectly good reasons to purchase such stuff without having any offensive or illegal intentions. Such as actually analyzing it in order to use gained knowledge to defend against it.

And yes, I have analyzed malware on my own before I started working for Lavasoft and subsequently FRISK Software nearly a decade ago. Am I the baddy now? Because I am curious and eager to learn? Brave new world …

// Oliver

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Demokratie und Mitbestimmung nach “europäischer” Lesart

Weiterhin wird von “pro-russischen Separatisten” gesprochen, während es sich um ukrainische Staatsbürger handelt welche ursprünglich einfach mehr Recht und einen föderalen Staat haben wollten. Daß Hunter Biden, Sohn von Joe Biden – seines Zeichens Vizepräsident unter Barack Obama – eine Leitungsposition in einem ukrainischen Gasunternehmen zugeschustert bekam, kann nach den Berichten über Vater Bidens Besuch in der Ukraine und den Besuch des CIA-Chefs dort kaum noch verwundern und verkommt in deutschen Medien zur Randnotiz, insofern es überhaupt noch Erwähnung findet.

Viel dreisteres als folgendes Zitat, habe ich aber auch über die letzten Wochen und Monate nicht hören können:

Was heißt denn “die eine Seite fehlt”? Äh, äh, Sie können doch nicht im Ernst erwarten, daß politisch gewählte Vertreter äh mit äh Leuten … mit … mit Leuten … mit Leuten … mit Leuten anfangen zu verhandeln äh, nicht wahr, die mit Waffengewalt sich selber äh irgendwelche Positionen erworben haben.
Wolfgang Ischinger, OSZE-”Vermittler”

Die eloquente Aussage dieses sogenannten Vermittlers bezog sich nicht etwa auf die nicht gewählte Regierung in Kiew welche an die Macht kam mit Hilfe der zu Gouverneuren ernannten ukrainischen Oligarchen US-Söldnertruppen auf ukrainische Staatsbürger hetzt, sondern auf die zuvor schon genannten “pro-russischen Separatisten”. Pardon, inzwischen sind sie ja auch von der nicht gewählten, aber vom Westen unterstützten, Kiewer Regierung zu einer Terrororganisation geadelt worden.

Zum Glück hat der ehemalige schwedische Außenminister Carl Bildt schon klargestellt, daß das Wahlergebnis vom 25.5. quasi ohne Ansehen der Umstände anerkannt werden wird. Sonst könnte man doch noch auf die Idee kommen daß es nicht mit rechten korrekten Dingen abgeht in der Ukraine.

// Oliver

PS: auch die hochinvestigative Aufarbeitung des Massakers in Odessa seitens der deutschen ist bemerkenswert. Leider nicht bemerkenswert im Sinne von herausragend. Sie gleicht eher einem Trauerspiel. Vielleicht weil man eigene Fehler in der äußerst parteiischen “Berichterstattung” einräumen müßte, als Fakten noch nicht bekannt waren?

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Are you f-ing nuts, Washington Post?

So while the people in Eastern and Southeastern Ukraine insist on their right of self-determination – which the US is otherwise officially supporting whenever it benefits the pockets of big US corporations – and while they state that the referendum no matter whether it would be deemed legitimate or not had merely the character of a poll1, you, Washington Post, write:

Though Mr. Obama and Ms. Merkel linked steps against Russian industry and finance to the May 25 elections, the West must be ready to adopt some of those measures sooner if Russian-backed separatists do not back down from their vote.

Which means that Putin who has been very cautious in this whole foul play is being held liable for something that he cannot influence2 while hundreds of US mercenaries are sent by Kiev against those Ukrainian citizens that insist on self-determination and are not in line with the ultra-nationalists from Western Ukraine?

Either we tell Putin to stay out and then conclude that he can’t be held liable for anything that goes wrong or right, especially when CIA, FBI and US mercenaries have been and currently are active in Ukraine. Or we let Putin march into Eastern Ukraine, NATO into Western Ukraine and let them jointly ensure that the elections on 25th of May take place, while observers from uninvolved nations ensure that the elections will be fair and just. Only, once that happens, I’m a bit afraid that both the Russians and the NATO would insist on staying in the country for “peace-keeping purposes”3.

Seems the media is so far up the rectal orifices of their respective governments, that it’s becoming hard for them to inform the public4. And that holds equally for all sides, although the interim government in Kiev and the Ukrainian media up their rectal orifice is clearly the worst of the lot.

… or perhaps the Washington Post is trying to convince us that the word press stems in fact from the verb to press as used during the “production” of … fecal matter5, not from printing after all. :???:

The warmongering rhetoric in the US and the spineless boot-licking of the EU governments along with the media up their respective ….. scares the shit out of me. We’re well on our way to a new cold war, only it may get hotter than expected, sooner than expected. Ooops, now I used the four-letter word anyway.

The track record of the US in supporting questionable and outright fascist or autocratic governments/rulers since the end of World War II also isn’t exactly suited to quell those worries. Is it … ?

// Oliver

PS: did anybody notice that the Russians want to update their nuclear arsenal and held nationwide nuclear drills and the US answered by holding similar drills as well? Only, I don’t see a person like the one John F. Kennedy became in 1963 on either side these days. If I was a person of faith, I’d probably pray.

  1. not determining whether Lugansk and Donetsk would want to become part of a federation, would favor autonomy or even fully separate from Ukraine as the terminology of Kiev and the Western media implies – when they don’t call them terrorists right away []
  2. which is also shown by the population in SE/E Ukraine holding the referendum despite Putin’s proposal to postpone it []
  3. read: occupying the country, ensuring the locals and the local powers top be do each of their respective bidding []
  4. as opposed to agitating the public []
  5. not to use the four-letter word []
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Scherz, oder?

Edward Snowden soll nicht in der deutschen Botschaft in Moskau befragt werden, weil er sich damit rein rechtlich auf deutschem Territorium aufhielte und somit unproblematisch einen Asylantrag stellen könnte, den man scheinbar unter allen Umständen verhindern will.

Wenn man meint es gehe einfach nicht mehr schlimmer bei unseren Vorzeigedemokraten, setzen sie noch einen drauf. Weiter so!

// Oliver

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PewResearch: “Despite Concerns about Governance, Ukrainians Want to Remain One Country”

PewResearch published a report about a poll that was conducted before the events in Odessa last Friday.
The so-called “pro-Russian separatists”, or as the interim government likes to put it “terrorists”, should perhaps be called “ethnic-Russian autonomists” instead?

С днём Победы! Славяне, объединяйтесь!1

// Oliver

  1. the second one means: “Slavs unite!” And I mean this without any nationalist connotation. The meaning is more that they should once again see each other as brothers and sisters. []
Posted in EN, Peace, RU, Thoughts | Tagged , | Comments Off

Shame they don’t have one for the Blue Lagoon …

Could read something like:

Don’t get fooled by the Blue Lagoon. Basically it’s waste water from a geothermal power plant.

… and show the steaming Blue Lagoon with a few people bathing plus a steaming “factory” building in the background.

But the initiative Fooled by Iceland is pretty cool – saw a few of those posters glued to the outer walls at the company building today.

// Oliver

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WWW == Wild Wild West?

Since April 2011 the companies of one Mr. Recher from Germany harassed me three times. I reported about this a few times already (e.g. here). I suspect I am not alone.

Their scheme is to send automated, unverified abuse notifications to hosters. My hoster, Hetzner, forwards these then, along with a nice deadline attached to it. I am then to give a statement concerning the subject matter. Alas, Hetzner does not provide an option to mark this as a false positive. In general their form for making a statement concerning the abuse messages is pretty annoying.

The problem are of course the false positives, but more than that two other things:

  • the various companies of Mr. Recher and – from our last email conversations he himself – lacking any kind of own expertise in the field of malware and relying entirely on reports of AV vendors
  • the AV industry1 being unable to come up with a single standardized way of reporting false positives to all AV vendors at once

What Mr. Recher does not seem to comprehend is that his claims and abuse notices to my hoster are clearly damaging in my line of work. I.e. they’re libelous. It’s like (non-anonymously) sending rumors to newspapers and later disclaiming responsibility for spreading the rumor and pointing to Twitter or so.

This time three out of the files hosted on my domain were (falsely!) reported as malicious. The most stupid report of all was on this filehere’s the VirusTotal analysis:


(click to enlarge)

The file is code-signed and timestamped. So are the MSI setup databases contained. There is literally nothing malicious on this file and it’s been untouched for nearly two years. I also cross-checked against my local archive of published files. And reporting it as “Downloader”2 is firmly in the realm of stoooooopid.

The company name and location has changed, but the names of the wannabe security expert and self-proclaimed sheriff of the WWW behind them remains. To repeat myself: I have nothing against people fighting malware and malicious websites. But relying on someone else’s claim without being able to back that up yourself is a pretty weak foundation for a company.

I have talked to a lawyer on the phone and he suggested that, when back in Germany, I should seek the advice from one of his colleagues specialized in IT-related topics. He assured me that a binding written warning (German: Abmahnung) will be in order to get rid of this.

// Oliver

  1. And yes, I still work for an AV company myself. []
  2. yeah, DrWeb, I am looking at you []
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WWW == Wilder Wilder Westen?

Seit April 2011 belästigten mich die Firmen eines Herrn Recher aus Deutschland dreimal. Ich habe darüber schon einige Male berichtet (z.B. hier auf Englisch). Ich vermute ich bin nicht allein.

Ihre Masche ist es automatisierte und ungeprüfte Mißbrauchs-Benachrichtigungen (engl. abuse notices) an meinen Hoster zu schicken. Mein Hoster, Hetzner, leitet diese dann, mit einer Frist1 versehen, an mich weiter. Ich soll dann eine Erklärung dazu abgeben. Leider bietet Hetzner’s Formular2 nicht die Möglichkeit es als Fehlalarm zu kennzeichnen. Überhaupt ist ihr das Formular etwas nervig3.

Das Problem sind natürlich die Fehlalarme, aber auch zwei andere Dinge:

  • die verschiedenen Firmen des Herrn Recher – und nach unserer letzten Emailkonversation zu urteilen auch er selbst – haben keinerlei eigene Expertise in Sachen Malware und verlassen sich komplett auf die AV-Hersteller
  • die AV-Industrie4 ist nicht in der Lage einen einheitlichen, standardisierten Weg anzubieten Fehlalarme an alle AV-Hersteller gleichzeitig zu melden

Was Herr Recher nicht zu verstehen scheint ist, daß seine Behauptungen und die Mißbrauchs-Benachrichtigungen an meinen Hoster in meinem Beruf schädigend sind. Bzw.: sie sind verleumderisch. Das ist so als würde man (mit Namen) Gerüchte an Zeitungen verschicken und danach auf Twitter als Quelle der Gerüchte verweisen.

Diesmal wurden drei der auf meiner Domain angebotenen Dateien (fälschlich!) als bösartig bezeichnet. Die bekloppteste Erkennung war bei dieser Dateihier die VirusTotal-Analyse:


(click to enlarge)

Die Datei ist mit Zeitstempel signiert. Ebenso die enthaltenen MSI Setupdatenbanken. Es gibt wirklich nichts bösartiges an dieser Datei und sie ist seit knapp zwei Jahren nicht mehr angefaßt worden. Ich habe sie auch mit der Datei aus meinem lokalen Archiv veröffentlichter Dateien verglichen. Und die Erkennung als “Downloader”5 ist daran noch das lächerlichste.

Die Firmennamen und -adressen haben sich geändert, aber der Möchtegern Sicherheitsexperte und selbsternannte Sheriff des WWW hinter ihnen bleibt der gleiche. Um es zu wiederholen: ich habe nichts gegen Leute die bösartige Software oder Webseiten bekämpfen. Aber sich auf die Behauptungen anderer zu verlassen ohne selbst in der Lage zu sein diese zu bestätigen ist eine ziemlich schwache Grundlage für eine Firma.

Ich habe am Telefon mit einem Anwalt gesprochen und er empfahl daß ich mich, wenn zurück in Deutschland, mit einem auf IT-Recht spezialisierten Anwalt zusammensetzen sollte. Er versicherte mir, daß eine rechtsverbindliche strafbewehrte Abmahnung bei dieser Sachlage angemessen und in Ordnung ist.

// Oliver

  1. nach deren Ablauf auch die Abschaltung des Servers angedroht wird []
  2. nach wie vor nach über drei Jahren []
  3. bspw. sind die Felder mit den Hetzner bereits bekannten Daten nicht schon vorausgefüllt []
  4. Und ja, ich arbeite noch für einen AV-Hersteller. []
  5. ja, DrWeb, ich schaue euch an! []
Posted in DE, Meinung | Comments Off

Kennt ihr das?

An der Oberfläche heißt von der Groß- und Urgroßelterngeneration immer “hoffentlich müßt ihr so eine Katastrophe1 nicht selbst erleben”. Das gleitet dann aber oft ab in ein “seid froh, daß ihr das nicht selbst erleben mußtet” und zwischen den Zeilen “aber irgendwie wünsche ich es dir/euch schon, damit du/ihr mal begreift wieso ich/wir so bin/sind wie ich/wir bin/sind” …

Bei der aktuellen Lage kann man nur immer wieder die Hoffnung aus der ersten Aussage bekräftigen.

Einen besinnlichen Tag der Befreiung wünscht,

// Oliver

  1. gemeint ist der 2te Weltkrieg []
Posted in /dev/null | Comments Off

Oscar Wilde was right

Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious.

Posted in EN, Thoughts | Comments Off

Proof?

Now, this is a talk on the phone and as such not always easy to discern, especially with both people talking in parallel. The SBU, Ukraine’s secret service, has an article titled “SSU Has Evidence of Russian Involvement into Capture of OSCE Monitors (video)” and has apparently uploaded the chat over phone to Youtube (Ukrainian subtitles here).

The (English1) subtitles aren’t catching all nuances and some of the chat is overlapping, but they catch the gist of all that was said. At least I cannot find obvious lies in the provided translation. All this proves, though, is that the Russians had prior contact with the commander of Girkin and a course of action had been agreed upon.

I.e. all it really proves is that the Russians were involved in the release of the military observers and were in contact with the “self-defense” forces in southeast Ukraine in the process.

That’s not all too surprising. With the Kievan interim government unleashing tanks and other heavy weaponry on the southeast of Ukraine which is matter-of-factly inhabited by many ethnic-Russian2 Ukrainians and with the threat of Russian being abolished as official minority language lingering, sympathies towards the EU, US and the Kievan interim government aren’t going to abound in that region. So why wouldn’t it be logical for the so-called “self-defense” forces in those regions to be more susceptible to the arguments from the Russian side that had called to disarm both side – Right Sector and “self-defense” forces.

All of these developments are very very unsettling and worrying. Especially with Obama’s recent remark:

They’re not interested in any kind of military confrontation with us, understanding that our conventional forces are significantly superior to the Russians. We don’t need a war

The Noble Peace Prize winner Obama thus brought the nuclear option right back to the top of the list of options the Russians have. And as a reminder, it’s the Russians that try to tone down things all the time – although admittedly some of that may be rhetoric as well – while EU and US unanimously increase pressure and threaten with new sanctions. It’s the director of CIA and the vice president of the US who visited Kiev and both times shortly afterward we witness “anti-terror” operations against the southeast of Ukraine. It’s the Kievan government that sends tanks instead of negotiators to the southeast of Ukraine. All of this is soon going to spiral out of control unless all sides take a step back, tone down the war rhetoric and get back at the negotiation table.

// Oliver

  1. my Ukrainian isn’t good enough to tell []
  2. … these people use Russian in their daily lives, some of them think of themselves as Russians, some of them as Ukrainians, but all of them are Ukrainian citizens. []
Posted in EN, Opinion, Peace, Thoughts | Comments Off