HACKING THE PACEMAKER

EPISODE: NCIS – NEED TO KNOW (2012)

Short Synopsis:
Tamer Hassan guest starred as Arms Dealer Agah Bayar.

Tamer Hassan guest starred as Arms Dealer Agah Bayar.

Alan Katzenbach, a lawyer, waits for Gibbs with his client, a chief petty officer named Leland Wiley. Wiley was busted for drugs and wants to trade information he has — which he claims involves national security and Agah Bayar, the arms dealer.

Gibbs is interested. Wiley comes over to talk, but grabs his heart and drops to the ground.

Gibbs comes for the update from Ducky. Turns out, Wiley had top security clearance and his workstation is locked down. They haven’t been able to connect him to Bayar yet.

Abby calls Gibbs to the lab. She tells him Wiley’s pacemaker was linked into a computer to monitor it. Someone hacked it and raised his heart rate up to more than 400 beats per minute.

“Somebody murdered Wiley by remote control,” she says.

What does this have to do with me?

Well, I’m glad you asked. This particular episode so intrigued the heart surgery team at Beth Israel Deaconess in Boston (where I had all that heart surgery in March 2013), that they decided to see if it really could be done. Could you “attack” a pacemaker by remote control? One of the people that performed the experiment was my surgeon.

They did it, though my surgeon pointed out you had to be no more than a couple of feet from the pacemaker to affect it. But you could affect it. So, they contacted the manufacturer who changed the programming to protect it from potential attack. Cool, yes?

In theory, nobody can hack my pacemaker. I am safe from remote terrorists. Which is good, because worrying about it was keeping me up at night.

I find it oddly comforting. Garry finds it disturbing. I suppose I can see where he’s coming from. He doesn’t like thinking about the mechanical and electronic stuff that keeps me alive. It would creep me out too, but I’m a bit of a geek and can detach from it on a personal level and get into the coolness of the electronics.

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It is  kind of creepy. However, it doesn’t matter. No matter how I feel about it, I’ve got this thing in my chest. It keeps my heart beating. If my heart beat on its own, I wouldn’t need the pacemaker.

Every time I go for a pacemaker checkup, they use a little machine and briefly stop the pacemaker to see if my heart will beat without it. My heart stops beating. Talk about creepy. It is an icky feeling. Anyone with a pacemaker knows what I mean.

The blue tooth remote functions work. They are (in theory) more secure than they were before the NCIS episode aired and the guys got curious. Remote functionality is important. After all, I might need a remote tune-up. Blue tooth lets my doctor access my pacemaker from … how far? I don’t actually know. A considerable distance, whatever that is.

Garry — again — doesn’t want to know about it. I pointed out if someone murders me, this is potentially important evidence. He would rather not think about it.

So there we are. Too creepy?

I can feel my pacemaker. It’s in the hollow by my left shoulder. The outline is visible. I can feel the wires, the connections through my skin. It’s impossible to ignore. I might as well find it interesting. It’s part of me, after all.

FEAR THE MAGIC WIDGET

Our cable company changes their software frequently. They call these upgrades, though nothing improves. The equipment doesn’t work better. It isn’t easier to use. If there are new and useful features, no one tells you what they are or how to use them. You might discover them accidentally while trying to figure out how to do what you did before they removed the menu you previously used.

The newest feature is adjustable recording times. You can set them to before or after the times posted in the guide. It’s trendy for shows to begin and end at odd times, a few minutes earlier or later than on the hour or half hour. If you set up recordings using the default settings from the guide, the end or beginning of each show will be snipped. Annoying. Very.

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Why can’t developers make the software use actual start and end times? It couldn’t be that hard.

With shows starting and ending at random times, despite how they’re listed in the “guide,” being able to adjust them ought to help. It would if you could just set start and end time using regular time. Start recording at 8:01 PM. End at 9:03 PM. Simple, right?

Nope. Too easy. So you have to use “start earlier” — or — “start later” or “end early” — or — “run over.” We have no problem with clock time, but the “earlier” and “over” thing is fuzzy. We need numbers OR better yet, make the DVR’s internal computer deal with this so we don’t have to.

So. To record shows in a sequence when one airs right after another, is Kafkaesque. You must start with the final show in the sequence, then work forward, adjusting each show in turn so it does not overlap the next or previous or whatever.

Garry has been engaged in combat with the DVR for months. Yesterday, he got so frustrated he was ready to throw the remote against a wall. I wouldn’t let him quit. If you let a computerized device defeat you, news travels and all your widgets will take up arms against you. They will overthrow civilization as we know it.

Today, the DVR. Tomorrow, the world.

Nothing is safe. Snick, whir, beep. Chirp, buzz, click. Ding!  Can the Zombie Apocalypse be far behind?

Show no fear!

TECHNOLOGY AS TRASH

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In 2013, the computer industry declared me obsolete. Irrelevant. Anyone who can’t or won’t afford software subscriptions to “keep up to date,” is in trouble. Adobe stopped selling DVDs of their product and other companies are following suit though not as quickly expected. There’s been quite a bit of push back from folks like me.

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Personally, I don’t mind running a version or two behind the latest thing. Especially since many new versions don’t work better — or even as well — as those I own. I can easily go years without “updating” my software. I guess software companies don’t make enough money selling new releases to folks like me.

Aside from the problem I have with adding an ongoing expense to my already tight budget, I prefer owning my software. I don’t like being entirely dependent on my WiFi connection.

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I remember getting a “You’ve Been Hacked!” letter from Adobe. The hack affected (depending on who you believed) between 38 and 150 million people. All of us have had our personal information stolen somewhere or other. Not only by Adobe. My bank got hacked. So did Walmart, Land’s End, and our local grocery store.

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At least our grocery doesn’t collect personal information from customers. It’s one of the few companies that doesn’t. In case you don’t already know this, the discount cards in your wallet are how the places at which you shop collect information about your personal shopping habits. So they can sell your data to marketing companies — the people who harass you with emails, phone calls, and junk mail. And scams.

Where’s our outrage, our demands for better service and security?

When my equipment stops working — which is once in a blue moon — I call the “Guy Who Fixes PCs.” He comes to the house.  Replaces the broken bits. Cleans out any viruses that have snuck past the anti-virus software. I give him money. He gives me a card with his cell number so if the problems comes back, he’ll come back and fix’em.

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Am I the only one who is in no position to dump equipment and replace it? I’m still in debt for the stuff I have. Moreover, I hate the throwaway society we are building and the mindset that comes with it.

Disposable is not a better way. It’s destroying the environment. Polluting landfills. Making an already profligate society ever more wasteful. We talk about green, but we don’t live green.

Once upon a time, Garry and I were working a ridiculous number of hours and started using paper plates. To avoid washing dishes. After doing this for a while, I found myself washing paper plates. I couldn’t bear throwing them out. It seemed wrong. I rediscovered the concept of re-usability. I had dishes in the cupboard. I could use them, wash them — and use them again! It was an epiphany!

Photoshop

We are turning into a world of paper plate users. Everything, from cars to computers to kitchen appliances are junk. When whatever it is stops running, toss it. Don’t even think about fixing it. Change your cell phone every six months. Toss the old one.

Somewhere on this planet, there is a giant, bottomless hole into which the garbage goes and it will never fill up, right?

Not.

How To Force A Redirect To The Classic WordPress.com Stats Screen

Yesterday, WordPress decided even though I had previously and continuously elected the “old” stats page, now, I am going to use the new, confusing stats page.

I created a bookmark to get me back to the original stats page, but this is better!

Today, Dennis published the directions for using a script — a workaround to bring you back to the original page — where you can get the information you want in a way that makes sense.

The script was written by tPenguinLTG. The instructions are from Dennis and this is a reblog. I did not write this post, but I will guarantee that it works perfectly with Chrome. As do the earlier scripts which take you back to the old editor. Thank Dennis, not me. And tPenguinLTG who keeps coming up with fixes for the “updates” from WordPress!

Diary of Dennis

WordPress Stats

The Solution To Use The Classic Stats Page

If you are blogger at WordPress.com, you might have noticed it, there are not much ways anymore to access the beautiful classic stats screen, instead we are now forced to use the new one, but there is help! Do you remember when they forced us to use the  incredible hard to use new post editor? I wrote a post where you can learn how to get back to the classic editor, and there is a very similar solution to get back to the classis stats screen. We will talk about this now, in this post you will learn how to get back to the classic stats page.

How To Force A Redirect To The Classic WordPress.com Stats Screen

Before we start, I want to mention that the solution comes from tPenguinLTG, be thankful there and not here, I do just…

View original post 432 more words

BYPASSING WORDPRESS’S “NEW” INTERFACE – BYE BYE BEEP BEEP BOOP

This is from the script’s originator and contains everything for all the browsers that will work with the fix, for PC and Mac.

The Penguin has done a bang-up job. He explains everything clearly and anyone can follow the directions, even those of us who are somewhat technically challenged.

Click on this link, then follow the directions for whichever browser you use.

tPenguin has included workarounds for Safari (native to Mac) and Internet Explorer (native to PC), as well as all versions of Chrome, Firefox, and Opera.

ROBBIE BEEP BEEP BOOP

If you are still battling to keep blogging despite the incomprehensible determination of WordPress to make it impossible, you need to use whichever of these scripts will fix your problem so you never need face “BEEP BEEP BOOP” again.

And ever would be far too soon for me.

CLICK HERE THEN FOLLOW THE SIMPLE, CLEAR INSTRUCTIONS.

May the Force be with you. And thank you again, Penguin. You have saved us from the WordPress soul and blog destroyer. We will be forever in your debt.

HOW TO FORCE A REDIRECT TO THE CLASSIC WORDPRESS EDITOR INTERFACE

If you are struggling with the horrible new interface WordPress is forcing on you, here’s a workaround. This is a reblog. Actually, it’s a reblog of my original reblog published in March, but apparently many people missed it.

Share it with your beleaguered WordPress friends!

Update: I heard from the script author and this is what he says:

Hi Marilyn, I’m the author of that script that you use. I’m glad you’re finding the script useful, and thanks also goes to Dennis for spreading the word.

I noticed you said in a forum post that “This redirect does NOT work on Mac, sorry”. Could you please elaborate on that? It might be more difficult to get working on Safari, but it works just fine if you use Firefox or Chrome, both of which are available for Mac.

Diary of Dennis

classic editor wordpress

The Solution To Use The Classic Editor

If you are blogger at wordpress.com, this post here will help you to solve a big problem. As you have noticed, the decision makers at WordPress want to force you to use the recent new editor interface that is purely designed for mobile devices and for users who only create short-form content. This is of course a pain if you are desktop user and if you like to create long-form content as well. In this post you will learn how to get back to the classic editor permanently.

In the new editor form, we had a link back to the classic editor but that link is now gone too. WordPress does not have the intention to give us the link back as you can read here in the forums. If you go through this huge forum thread, you will find out…

View original post 717 more words

IT WAS A FINE AFFAIR, BUT NOW IT’S OVER …

Four hours after I finished installing Windows 10, I restored Windows 7 Professional. Why, you ask? How fair an assessment of the operating system could I make in only four hours?

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Well, for a start, the boot time on Windows 10 is a return to the bad old days. Remember when you could turn on the computer, make dinner, eat dinner, wash the dishes… and when you got back, maybe your system would be ready to go? It’s that bad.

I’m not talking about a little bit slower. I mean a solid five-minute plus boot time.

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There are lots of bells and whistles on Windows 10. I deleted as many of them as I could, but I couldn’t get rid of nearly enough. This is supposed to be a professional system, yet its loaded down with music, movies, TV, games, more games, travel sites. Everything is entertainment-oriented. Nothing useful for work. Nothing.

We all use our systems differently, but there’s a reason I have had the professional versions of Windows.

Microsoft still hasn’t recovered from their belief that every computer should contain a party that never ends. Assuming a party is what I want, I’m entirely capable of finding it. I hate bloatware and Windows 10 it full of it.

The one thing in the package of ‘goodies’ I liked was the Solitaire Pack. I miss solitaire, but I can live without it. All the other crap? The addition of Xbox does not compensate for the loss of “preview” in the right-click pictures context menu. I don’t need special tiles for television, movie, news, maps, weather and the Microsoft store. I can easily make my own links to those sites in whatever browser I use.

Maybe all this crap is why the system is so abominably slow to boot?

As usual, they’ve scrambled the menus. Typical of software designers, if they can’t make something better, they can at least make stuff you need hard to find. I had to go hunting for the power controls (Restart, Shut Down, Hibernate, Sleep, etc.) and the Control Panel. They moved the Startup controller to the Task Manager which was merely annoying. What was wrong with where it had been for the past 20 years?

The Windows 10 audio controls are even less intuitive than they are in Windows 7. Some of them are — far as I can tell — missing. Maybe they’ve moved them elsewhere too.

Good things? Yes, a few. It’s a huge improvement over Windows 8. If I had Win 8 on my computer, I’d be thrilled with Windows 10.

My Adobe applications open and load faster in Windows 10, and the WiFi connection seems more stable. The task bar icons are nice and streamlined. I don’t know that they’re better, but they are different.

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Windows 10

I started installing Windows 10 at 10:30 am. I finished at 3:10 pm. Just short of five hours including errors, restarts, and many reboots. Although 99 % of the installation is automatic, the other 1% is critical. Had I not been there, the installation would have crashed and burned, likely leaving me without a working operating system.

It took just 15 minutes to restore Windows 7 Professional. No one can say I didn’t give it a try.

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Windows 7 Professional

The deal-breaker was the extremely slow boot time. It was this slow with an empty startup file and after deleting as much bloatware as I could. If they had less junk on the system, it would probably move faster. It couldn’t move much slower.

I am pretty sure it would have run well enough after booting, but I do not like the hybrid “Start Menu.” It has pieces of the classic Start Menu, plus those hateful tiles they couldn’t give away in Windows 8. What makes Microsoft think something I hated in Windows 8 would be more lovable in Windows 10?

Although the version of Windows 10 I installed was officially the professional version, my best guess is that it’s identical to the “Home” edition.

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Will I try it again? Not soon. Maybe if they assure me they’ve dealt with the problems by first acknowledging there are problems. I’m sure there’s an up side to Windows 10 (especially if you are coming from Windows 8), but for me, it doesn’t outweigh the bloatware and slow boot time.