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July 6, 2017

Dear HDFC Bank: Please stop making life easier for phishers

Filed under: Computer Security,My Thoughts — Suramya @ 11:32 PM

I recently had to create a HDFC account because I changed firms and needed a HDFC account in order to be paid 🙂 . Once I created the account I got a few SMS messages from AM-HDFCBK asking me to register online for Netbanking and Mobile Banking which is quite normal (though the no of messages were a bit annoying), what was scary and concerning was that the link in the message was a generic bit.ly URL. (See screenshot below)

HDFC Messages Screenshot

Screenshot of the Messages I got

For those who don’t know, bit.ly is a URL shortening service that allows you to create a short URL that redirects to a different URL. e.g. I have configured http://bit.ly/1MUISmu to redirect to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phishing. The service is most commonly used on Twitter where the max allowed characters are limited and the URL lengths are long.

However since anyone can create a bit.ly redirect there is no way of verifying that the link I got in the SMS was actually created by HDFC and points to a legitimate site and not a website controlled by a cyber criminal who is out to steal my data. The link can point to literally any website in the world that the sender wants including sites that are copies of the legitimate HDFC bank but in reality are storing your credentials to allow people to steal your money or sites that infect your system with a virus/ransomware.

There is a reason why computer security professionals tell people not to click on random links you get via email/SMS/whatsapp.

If you think that since the sender of the SMS is ‘AM-HDFCBK’ the message is legitimate and thus safe to click then think again. There are a ton of websites out there that allow you to spoof SMS sender details to anything you want at a cheap price. In fact you can also code your own software for doing this in bulk using publicly available API’s at ridiculously cheap prices. These are sites I found after a couple of mins of searching on Google, I am sure there are more secure/untraceable methods of sending fake/spoofed SMS messages on the dark web. So the risk of clicking on unknown links that I got out of nowhere is not worth it.

Normally what companies do in similar scenarios if they absolutely have to use a shortner is that they but a short domain name and use that so people getting the messages can identify the link as something pointing to the official site. But I guess someone at HDFC is trying to save money by not registering a new domain that would protect their customers. *Shrug*.

Ah well, looks like I will need to go to their official site and register my account from there.

Well this is all for now. Will write more later.

– Suramya

March 8, 2017

My Trek to Tadiandamol

Filed under: My Life,My Thoughts — Suramya @ 7:13 PM

So last weekend I went for my first trek of 2017 with NatureWalkers to this place called Tadiandamol. Don’t ask me to pronounce it because I still can’t manage without sounding silly and it took me 3 attempts to spell it correctly. The trek is a total of 8kms long round trip and the peak which is the highest in Coorg is at about 1748 m high.

Tadiandamol is on one of the most beautiful, noncommercial peaks in Karnataka, it is elevated to about 1748 m and known as the highest peak in coorg/kodagu district. The Tadiandamol trek offers adventurers an opportunity to explore the stunning vegetation, rare mountain birds and pretty butterflies flitting from tree to tree. A panoramic view from the peaks is an eye-candy for the hikers. The trial takes you through the vast expanse of the Shola forest, It is a day trek which makes it even more doable for city folks- whether avid trekkers and hikers. A famous historical landmark “Nalknad-Palace” resides at the foothills of the mountain.

This was my first trek with Nature Walkers and I loved it. A total of 18 of us were there for the trek with a wide range of trekking experience and age groups. The trip started at 10pm from Bangalore and we boarded the bus after donating a lot of blood to the Domlur mosquitoes (while waiting for the bus to arrive). We kicked off the evening with a round of introductions which included telling folks about something crazy you did and man some of the folks had donbe some crazy stuff (including me 🙂 ) We had people asking their professors to dance, setting fire in the hostel to burn notes and scaring aunts with skulls.

After the intro round ended most of the people went to sleep but a few of us weren’t sleepy so we spent majority of the night talking and after a few hours just as we were winding down and I was about to fall asleep the driver switched on the AC at full strength and played some Kannada music at high volume waking me up. So we kind of half dozed while the driver took a nap and then we were on our way again reaching the Homestay at ~7am. We freshened up and then started for the basecamp after breakfast which was about an hour from the homestay.

We arrived at the basecamp all bright-eyed & bushy tailed and started the trek on a high note. The start of the trek was fairly easy with a shallow gradient so it wasn’t too painful. Though it was bright and sunny so that made it a bit uncomfortable and soon I was sweating enough that I had to remove the cap.


Group photo at the start of the Trek and you can see the energy and enthusiasm

We walked the trek at a fairly slow pace and used the time to talk and learn more about each other, plus take a lot of photos and snapchat videos etc. A large part of the group was 12 friends who had come for the trek together and their enthusiasm was infectious. I haven’t downloaded all the pics yet and can’t post all of them in any case so here are a few pics to give you an idea about the trek and the route.

Selfie on the way to the peak
Selfie on the way to the peak about an hour into the trek


Random spot that looked interesting and was perfect for a break

After a little while the terrain became a lot steeper and it got a bit harder to climb. Since the distance to the peak is only 4 kms it was a fairly steep climb most of the way. About half way through there is a big rock and a stream so we took a break and obviously climbed the rock. 🙂


Group photo at the rock

The stream was refreshing but with barely enough water to be called a stream. We filled our waterbottels there and I got to use my water purifier to purify the water. Don’t think it was absolutely required but I needed an excuse to play with my gadgets so… In any case we spent about 15-20 mins fooling around and taking pics before resuming the trek.


The Amazingly full stream

It took us another 2 hours or so to climb to the top. Both Manoj and Amrita ensured that we all were pacing ourselves and constantly provided encouragement so all of us reached the peak together and the view was worth the effort spent to climb to the top. Thankfully it was a little cloudy towards the end of the climb and the breeze was very refreshing as well so that made it a bit easier as well.


Thanking the gods of the Peak that I made it to the top while Tejaswani and Amrita look on.


Look at how happy we all look that we made it to the top in one piece 🙂

Once at the top we all took a break to have lunch, meditate and enjoy the view while Manoj took a nap to recover from the stress of herding all of us to the peak.


Me, Jani and Shahrukh meditating at the peak


Manoj recovering from herding all of us to the peak.

We started back very reluctantly both because we wanted to extend the stay at the top and because our feet hurt 🙂 The way down was more adventurous as the path was quite slippery and everyone fell at-least once though there was a contest going on to see who would fall the most as well with the winner claiming the throne with 8 spectacular falls.

By the time we reached the base camp we were all ready to be flat on the ground and not move. But still we ended up dancing for a little while in the bus on the way back to the homestay. Interestingly our bus had a laser/disco light setup which made dancing fun. Although initially it was more of moving hands and pretending to dance than actual dancing. Once we got home and freshened up we sat outside and chatted about topics all over the place from weird food people eat to physics to astronomy and horror stories. The campfire made it cosy enough to sit outside and since we didn’t have any portable speakers we got to show off our singing skills instead of our dancing skills. The jam session continued till almost 1 in the morning and we all dragged ourselves to bed quite reluctantly.

Next morning we again made an early start and left the homestay after a lovely breakfast.


Pic with the owners of the Homestay

We were all feeling a bit more energetic after resting over night so we spent a large amount of time playing Mafia which I enjoyed for the first time. The last two times I played the game I found it very boring but with this group it was a lot of fun. I was a cop in the first game and got to play a few turns before getting killed and it was a lot of fun watching the players try to convince each other that they were not mafia. In the second game I was classified as Mafia and was there till the end of the game (We won 🙂 ) but in the last one I was the first person to be killed so didn’t get to play at all.

In the middle we stopped at Namdroling Monastery which I have visited a few times before but it was still worth the visit. It is a very peaceful place and since we got there just before the afternoon prayers started we managed to see the temple and then watched the monks start their prayers as well. We did avoid the shopping complex as otherwise we would have been stuck there for hours while the ladies shopped 😉 and were on the way back to Bangalore with brief stops for lunch & tea and lots of dancing.

We all enjoyed the trip so much that we didn’t want it to end so most of us got down at Indiranagar for dinner at Copper Chimney instead of heading home directly. The waiter gave us a weird look when the 13 of us were done with just starters and dessert but none of us were very hungry so it was good that we didn’t over-order.

Overall the trip was a great success and I really enjoyed traveling with Nature Walkers. I would highly recommend them to folks looking for a fun well organized trip.

Well this is all for now. Will post more later.

– Suramya

PS: For those of you who are wondering about what happened to posting about the previous trips, I realized that the list had gotten long enough that I wouldn’t be able to post about them (15 trips in 2016) and because I was waiting to write about the previous trips I wasn’t posting about the new ones either. So decided to bite the bullet and start with a clean slate. Hopefully this year I will be more consistent with my writing.

February 25, 2016

Indian Patent office rejects Software patents

Filed under: Computer Software,My Thoughts — Suramya @ 8:00 PM

As you know software patents are something of a scourge in the computer industry and are hated for the most part (except by the companies using them to make money/stifle innovation and competition). There is extensive debate on the topic all of which boils down to the following three questions:

  • Should software patents even be allowed? If they are then how do we define the boundary between patentable and non-patentable software?
  • Is the inventive step and non-obviousness requirement is applied too loosely to software?
  • Are software patents discouraging innovation instead of encouraging it?

The Indian patent office has ruled on 19th Feb 2016 that software patents discourage innovation by using the following three part test to determine the patentability of Computer Related Inventions (CRIs), which precludes software from being patented:

  • Openly construe the claim and identify the actual contribution;
  • If the contribution lies only in mathematical method, business method or algorithm, deny the claim;
  • If the contribution lies in the field of computer programme, check whether it is claimed in conjunction with a novel hardware and proceed to other steps to determine patentability with respect to the invention.. The computer programme in itself is never patentable. If the contribution lies solely in the computer programme, deny the claim. If the contribution lies in both the computer programme as well as hardware, proceed to other steps of patentability.

This is a great step in ensuring that useless/basic idea’s don’t get patented and stifle innovation.

– Suramya

Source: Press Release: Indian Patent Office Says No to Software Patents

January 12, 2016

Got some personality Insights from IBM’s Watson

Filed under: Interesting Sites,My Thoughts — Suramya @ 1:01 AM

I was watching Felicia Day’s Flog earlier today and in it one of the sites she talks about is Personality Insights. This site claims to be able to help you gain insight into how and why people think, act, and feel the way they do by applying linguistic analytics and personality theory to their writings.

Since I was intrigued I decided to try it out using text from two of my Blog posts from the past. The first one was using the text from Some thoughts on the mails on how folks born in x-y range are the best. According to this:

I am likely to:

  • Reply on social media
  • Buy eco-friendly

Which is about a 50% accurate as I normally don’t reply on/use social media that much. Though I do prefer to be eco-friendly when possible so that part can be taken as accurate.

I am unlikely to:

  • Buy healthy foods
  • Use a coupon
  • Click on an ad

All of which are mostly true. I don’t normally click on ad’s, unless I manage to do it accidentally. I use an ad blocker and try to filter out as many of the annoying ads as I can. Using a coupon requires way too much effort so I tend not to do so unless its relatively simple and doesn’t require too much effort. As for healthy foods, most of the time they are absolutely tasteless so I avoid them for the most part.

Other than that, the site thinks I am an extrovert (not really), assertive (which is kind of true) and my ‘ choices are driven by a desire for connectedness.’ Not sure what that means exactly but sounds really deep and inspiring. 🙂


Screen shot of the results of the test, with more details

The second entry was a more recent entry from September on the App created to tell slow people that they are bored and why this is a bad idea. The results of this one contradict the previous one in a few major area’s, although to be fair the text sample is a lot smaller so that could have skewed the result (as per the site). According to this:

I am likely to:

  • Change careers
  • Click on an ad
  • Follow on social media

This one is only about 33% accurate as I have been known to change careers quite often before I joined GS. I def don’t click on ads and rarely follow folks on social media. To give you an idea I started using twitter mid 2015.

I am unlikely to:

  • Buy eco-friendly
  • Reply on social media
  • Spend on health and fitness

This is about 60% accurate, I prefer to buy eco-friendly but rarely reply on social media and hardly ever spend on health and fitness. Other than that the site thinks I am unconventional and shrewd (first time I have had someone tell me that) who is unconcerned with art (which is true, I find most of the so called art boring and silly. Don’t even get me started on ‘modern art’ ) and chooses based on a desire of efficiency (which is true, I like to think that I am efficient)


Results from the second text sample

In all this was an interesting read and though parts of it made me laugh it does give you a glimpse of what might be coming in the near future when computers will be able to diagnose your personality and figure out your mood based on your behavior and writings.

Well this is all for now, will write more later.

– Suramya

January 8, 2016

Happy New Year!

Filed under: My Life,My Thoughts — Suramya @ 9:09 PM

Wishing all the readers of this blog a very Happy new Year. 2015 passed really quickly in some aspects and was slow as molasses in others. Which is to say that the year had both pluses and negative points (as usual). Some of the pluses:

  • I have a adorable new niece [pic below]
  • I got to Travel to some interesting places with interesting people
  • Work is fun as usual, moved to a new team with new responsibilities and more technical role.
  • Made new friends
  • Attended live concerts by some of my all time favorite singers (AR Rehman, Usha Uthup)

There were a few downsides as well but don’t feel like dwelling on them so… In any case its a new year so time for New Year resolutions. Actually now that I think about it this is the first time I am making a formal resolution, usually I just decide and then wing it. But change is good and once I have it out in the open it will force me to follow through so without further ado here we go:

  • Last few years have been slow on the writing side for me, both on the Blog and on the Articles front. This year I am going to make an active effort to make a blog post every week (more frequently if possible) and at least one article every quarter.
  • Travel more. This is something I started implementing in the tail end of 2015 but will continue to do more in 2016. This will include both domestic and international travel.
  • Actually do something productive with the Raspberry Pi instead of using it as a glorified paperweight.

Well this is all for now. Will write more later.

– Suramya


My Niece

September 4, 2015

App created to tell slow people that they are bored and why this is a bad idea

Filed under: My Thoughts — Suramya @ 12:10 AM

A couple of hours after I wrote the last post, I saw this tweet from PopSci that linked to a study on boredom done by researchers from Telefonica Research in Spain. Basically the researchers created an app that detects if the owner of a smart phone was bored and if the app thinks that the user is bored, it pop’s up a suggestion for the user to visit BuzzFeed.com to alleviate their boredom.

From a technical perspective the study is quite interesting because the researchers managed to train a machine to identify signs of an emotion with up to 80% accuracy (though for a very limited set of users). If the study can be validated for a larger data set the the same algorithm can be incorporated into other systems like computer games to allow the game to make itself more interesting by throwing twists/surprises when the it feels that the player is getting bored.

However if you taking the technical aspect aside then I don’t think this is a good idea. The whole idea behind killing boredom is to use your creativity to come up with alternatives but if you are so dependent on devices that you can’t even be bothered to figure out that you are bored then there is no way you will be motivated to think up ways to kill your boredom. Long term that means that a lot of people will stop thinking creatively and become solely dependent on an external system to amuse them. I shouldn’t have to explain why that is what can charitably be called a ‘BAD IDEA’.

Basically if an external party is providing all the entertainment for the public then they are in a position of immense power and very few leaders would be able to resist the temptation to abuse such power. So if that leader wants to invade another country all they have to do is tell the public that unless they invade that country they would not be able to maintain the level of entertainment that they are used to and they would get all the support they require. If you think I am over-reacting about then think about the Roman empire, the entire gladiator arena was constructed to keep the masses entertained and as long of the people were entertained they didn’t care what was happening to the kingdom or how corrupt their leaders were becoming.

Well this is all for now. I am going to go entertain myself by finishing my book and then crashing for the night.

– Suramya

August 21, 2015

List of Relatively lesser known Indian Special Forces which are among the best in the world

Filed under: My Thoughts — Suramya @ 10:14 PM

If you ask people to list out special forces in the world most people will remember Delta Forces, Rangers, SAS etc. This is thanks to the abundance of references to them in Media be it books, movies or TV series etc. Which is all well and good but what people don’t know or realize that India also has eight kinds of Special Forces that are relatively unknown to most people. Infact even though I am a son of an Indian Air Force officer I only knew about 2 out of the 8 forces listed below which is kind of sad. So to make things right I am sharing the list so that more people are aware of this and the knowledge is shared.

Without further ado here’s the list of Indian Special Forces: (Click on the name to visit their Wikipedia page for more details)

MARCOS:

MARCOS or Marine Commandos is India’s most lethal special force. Though they are trained to engage in battle on all terrains, MARCOS commandos are experts in maritime warfare. The physical test to join MARCOS is so gruesome that more than 80 percent of the applicants drop out in the first, three-day long, physical fitness and aptitude test. Those who successfully complete the test are subjected to a five-week-long process called the ‘hell’s week’ where commandos are put through extreme sleep deprivation coupled with the most difficult physical tasks. These commandos are even capable of firing while lying down, standing, running full-sprint, even backwards and looking into a mirror – with a reaction time of 0.27 seconds. The final stages of the training include an 800-meter long thigh-high mud crawl called the ‘death crawl’, loaded with 25 kg of gear which is concluded with shooting a target 25 meters away with a man standing next to it.

They are also known as the ‘Dadiwala fauj‘, meaning the “Bearded army” because of their bearded disguise in civil areas.

Para Commandos:

Para commandos is one of the most highly trained special forces of the Indian Army. Because of the extremely fatal nature of the operations they perform, they are kept at optimum level of operational efficiency and physical fitness, and only the most physically fit, mentally robust, intelligent, and highly motivated soldiers are inducted in the fleet. Para commandos go through the most grueling commando training regimes in the world, apart from daily 20km runs with 60km baggage and man-to-man assault practices; they even have to free fall from belligerent heights of as much as 33,500 feet. They are also highly trained in terrain and environment warfare and deep sea diving. Their most notable and fatal operations included the 1971 war with Pakistan, the 1999 Kargil war and the infamous Operation Bluestar in 1984.

Garud Commando Force:

The Garud Commando Force formed in 2004 with over 2000 commandos a unit of the Indian Air Force and specializes in Airfield Seizure, Special Reconnaissance, Airborne Operations, Air Assault, Special Operations Combat Search and Rescue, and counter insurgency. The training for being a Garud commando is so tough that it can take up to 3 years to qualify as a fully operational Garud. Also, Garud commandos are extremely adept at anti-hijack and counter insurgency training, jungle and snow survival techniques, specialized weapon handling and advanced driving skills.

Ghatak Force

The word Ghatak means deadly in Hindi and it aptly describes the members of the Ghatak Force which is a special operations infantry platoon that acts as shock troops and lead man-to-man assaults ahead of a battalion. They specialize in raids on enemy artillery positions, airfields, supply dumps and tactical headquarters while also being experts at directing artillery and air attacks on targets deep within enemy lines. Only the most physically and mentally fit soldiers make it into the Ghatak force which is usually 20-men strong. Since they face the enemy face-to-face, they are trained to be undisputed at heli-borne assault, rock climbing, mountain warfare, demolitions, advanced weapons training, close quarter battle and infantry tactics.

National Security Guard Or Black Cats:

Created in 1986, the NSG or Black Cats fall neither under Central Armed Police Forces nor under Paramilitary Forces of India. It’s instead a mix of commandos from both the Indian Army and Central Armed Police Forces which is lead by a ‘Director General’ from the Indian Police Service. Comprising two units – the Special Action Group (SAG), which consists entirely of Indian Army personnel; and the Special Ranger Groups (SRG) for counter terrorism activities – the NSG is equipped with some of the most advanced weapons in the world. The selection process is so brutal that it has a dropout rate of 70-80 percent. And the few, who qualify to become NSGs, are sent off to train for another 9 months to become Phantom NSG Commandos.

COBRA (Commando Battalion for Resolute Action):

No, this is not COBRA Command from G.I Joe. 🙂

COBRA actually stands for ‘Commando Battalion for Resolute Action’ and it is probably the only Indian special force that is specifically trained in guerilla warfare to tackle the notorious Naxalite groups in the country. A part of the CRPF, COBRA commandos are masters of camouflage, jungle warfare, parachute jumps, precision strikes and ambushes. Their sniper units are also one of the best among the armed forces of India.

Special Frontier Force

Created on 14th November 1962, the SFF is a paramilitary special force which specializes in special reconnaissance, direct action, hostage rescue, counter-terrorism, unconventional warfare and covert operations. This specialized force was created in the wake of another Sino-Indian war and it operates in sync with RAW (Research and Analysis Wing). The commandos are supremely trained in guerrilla tactics, mountain and jungle warfare, and parachute jumps.

Force One

After the Mumbai terror attacks, the Maharashtra government brought together the best commandos and assembled the youngest Indian special force called Force One. The sole motive of this squad is to protect the Mumbai metropolitan area when under threat. Force One is one of the fastest response teams in the world and can get ready for action in less than 15 minutes. From over 3000 applications, 216 of the best soldiers were selected who were then trained under close guidance from the Israeli Special Forces.


So how many of these did you know about?

Well this is all for now. Will post more later.

– Suramya

Source: My Dad 🙂

June 14, 2015

Why cataloging all my books was a bad idea, sort of.

Filed under: Books Related,My Life,My Thoughts — Suramya @ 8:53 PM

A little while ago there was a book sale happening and I wanted to buy a few books but couldn’t remember for sure if I had already bought them earlier or not and I couldn’t check because a lot of my books are in Delhi. I didn’t want to buy the same book twice so I ended up buying a different book but this made me think that I should keep a catalog of all the books I own so that I know which ones I need to buy. So I asked Surabhi to take a photo of all the books in Delhi and over the past few weeks I have been transcribing the names of the books to a text file.

As of today have a list of 334 books (excluding ebooks) that I own. I still have to go through another 5 shelves so the final count will be about another 125 books. Yes, that is a lot of books, but I did tell you that I read a lot.

During this time I realized that there are books from some of my favorite authors that I don’t have in my collection so I made a list of books that I need to buy to complete the collection. The list is not complete yet but I have already ended up buying 18 books in the past 2 months. Thankfully there were a couple of sales happening so I got a whole bunch of discounts but I need to start controlling my shopping sprees before my credit card files an official complain 🙂 as this is turning out to be a very expensive undertaking.

The good part is that I now have complete collections for some of my favorite authors. The remaining books that I am missing are in my queue to be purchased and I will be buying them as and when I see a sale or a discount on books in any of the stores. Interestingly I found that Flipkart is no longer the cheapest source for books in India as Amazon.in beat their prices almost 90% of the time.

Well this is all for now, I am off to make space for the new books in my bookshelf here in Bangalore.

– Suramya

May 23, 2015

Trekkies join the readers of magazines like Linux Journal as potential threats

Filed under: My Thoughts — Suramya @ 11:30 PM

Yes, you read that headline correctly and no, I am not joking. According to the information revealed thanks to a freedom of Information request, Scotland Yard was worried that British fans of Star Trek might turn against society. This was tracked as part of a file called UFO New Religious Movements (NRMs) And The Millennium. In addition to Star Trek they were also worried about people who watch shows like X-Files, Dark Skies, Roswell, Millennium and The Lawnmower Man.

I already knew that I was being monitored by US Intelligence agencies thanks to my reading and occasionally writing for the Linux Journal. In case you are wondering if I have become insane or paranoid. Unfortunately (or fortunately) that is not the case. This is based on the information revealed in the recent intelligence leaks and was covered on various sites and articles :

While that is troubling in itself, even more troubling to readers on this site is that linuxjournal.com has been flagged as a selector! DasErste.de has published the relevant XKEYSCORE source code, and if you look closely at the rule definitions, you will see linuxjournal.com/content/linux* listed alongside Tails and Tor. According to an article on DasErste.de, the NSA considers Linux Journal an “extremist forum”.

Now, thanks to my love for Star Trek and X-Files I guess I must reconcile myself to being tracked by Scotland Yard as well. I did find it really interesting that Star Wars fans are not part of the potential threats they monitor. Could it be because the person who implemented this tracking was a Star Wars fan and was taking the Star Trek vs the Star Wars argument to a whole new level? That is the only reason that could possibly explain why anyone thought this was a good idea. I mean sure fans of these shows are vocal, enthusiastic and sometimes very disturbing (Try searching for Star Trek Slash Fic if you have a strong stomach for some really weird stuff. Fair warning though, the material you will get back is for adult audiences and just plain weird at times.). However that being said it is not correct to classify them as a cult and start tracking the members as if they did something wrong by liking the wrong show.

From the article:

But the police feared British fans of the cult American show might boldly go a little too far one day.

It has emerged that Scotland Yard kept a secret dossier on Star Trek, The X-Files, and other US sci fi shows amid fears that British fans would go mad and kill themselves, turn against society or start a weird cult.

The American TV shows Roswell and Dark Skies and the film The Lawnmower Man were also monitored to protect the country from rioting and cyber attacks.

I have this mental image of a spy/program monitoring all websites/conferences where Star Trek is discussed, items/props sold or just links to these kind of sites. Once you visit this site, you are automatically added to a database of potential troublemakers and if you actually buy something then you get a higher grade. The more you buy and the more involved you are in fandom the higher your perceived threat level gets.

If the people of the world insist on being idiotic, then there is nothing I can do to stop them. Unfortunately these are the folks in power so they can cause a lot of damage by creating these fictional enemies. I will end this post with the following quote taken from a book by one of my favorite authors (Mercedes Lackey) which is really relevant here :

When those in power intend to abuse that power, they look to an outside enemy in order to trick their people into pressing the means to their own abuse into the hands of the abusers. If an enemy does not exist, it will be manufactured, and all manner of horrors attributed to it, so that anyone who demands truth and accountability is set upon as being unpatriotic. And so that, when someone said to be an enemy is found, there will be few questions asked about guilt or innocence, and many faces averted when he is taken away.

We are setting ourselves up for disaster, stop turning your faces away… Else you soon will be saying “Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”.

Sources:
* Slashdot
* The Telegraph

– Suramya

May 19, 2015

Drug use can now be detected using fingerprints

Filed under: My Thoughts — Suramya @ 12:00 AM

Saw this interesting article on Slashdot about research being done in University of Surrey in which they claim to be able to detect the use of cocaine by testing fingerprints using ambient mass spectrometry. As per the paper they do this by spaying solvent on the fingerprint slide and then checking for chemical residue in the print which results from drug abuse.

This will have a big impact in a lot of areas if it is viable to do so cheaply. Companies, cops etc can check for Drug usage in non-invasive fashion and if a positive match is found then they can match the finger print to a person as well making it becomes extremely difficult to fool a drug test. Which is a good thing. Though I wonder how long after a use the chemicals are detectable in the print. I would be surprised if there are there forever but even if they are there temporarily it will reduce the drug abuse at work.

However I am sure there are a lot of legal hurdles etc which will need to be solved if the technology is going be widely used. Currently the test only works for Cocaine, it will be interesting if they can do a similar test for other drugs like Heroine etc.

From the paper:

For their research, scientists sprayed a beam of solvent onto the fingerprint slide (a technique known as Desorption Electrospray Ionisation, or DESI) to determine if these metabolites were present. DESI has found use in a number of forensic applications, but has never been used to demonstrate drug use says lead author Dr Melanie Bailey from the University of Surrey.

Researchers took fingerprints and oral fluid from patients attending a drug and alcohol treatment service. Using a technique called gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS), they tested the oral fluid of patients for the presence of cocaine and benzoylecgonine. They then employed DESI, which operates under ambient conditions and Ion Mobility Tandem Mass Spectrometry Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization (MALDI-IMS-MS/MS) and Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (SIMS), to analyse the corresponding fingerprints.

– Suramya

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