Monthly Archives: May 2018

Partial lunar eclipse

Moon Base coming soon?

OPINION EDITORIAL
Friday, May 25, 2018

The first man on the moon held an American flag. In the not-too-distant future, astronauts on the moon may be holding fuel pumps.

The future for American commercial space activity is bright. Space entrepreneurs are already planning travel to Mars, and they are looking to the moon as the perfect location for a way station to refuel and restock Mars-bound rockets. As much as this sounds like the plot of “2001: A Space Odyssey,” it is coming closer to reality sooner than you may have ever thought possible.

A privately funded American space industry is the reason. This industry is making progress in leaps and bounds. The global space economy is approaching $350 billion and is expected to become a multitrillion-dollar industry. There are more than 800 operational American satellites in orbit, and by 2024 that number could exceed 15,000. Thanks to public-private partnerships, for the first time in seven years American rockets will soon carry NASA astronauts into space. Long dormant, Cape Canaveral is now bustling with activity. America is leading in space once again.

Space tourism may only be a year away. Tickets for human flights into lower earth orbit have already sold for $250,000 each. Earth-based mining companies may soon face stiff competition from the mining of gold, silver, platinum and rare earths on asteroids and even other planets. A race is already developing to create the technology that will bring those crucial resources back to earth.

Competition is already fierce, with Russia and China challenging the United States for leadership, and about 70 other countries working their way into space. But today’s space race is different. It is driven by innovative companies that are finding new solutions to get to space faster, cheaper and more effectively.

As these companies advance new ideas for space commerce and nontraditional approaches to space travel, they seek the legitimacy and stability that comes with government support and approval. They yearn for a government that acts as a facilitator, not just a regulator. Government must create frameworks that enable, rather than stifle, industry.

Unfortunately, our system for regulating private space exploration and commerce has not kept up with this rapidly changing industry. For example, when it comes to licensing cameras in space, we review small, high school science-project satellites the same as billion-dollar national defense assets, leaving too little time and too few resources for crucial national security needs.

On Thursday, President Trump signed Space Policy Directive 2, which will make important strides toward modernizing our outdated space policies. These changes include creating a new office, the Space Policy Advancing Commercial Enterprise Administration, within my office to oversee coordination of the department’s commercial space activities, establishing a “one-stop shop” to work on behalf of the budding private space sector.

This will be a major change. At my department alone, there are six bureaus involved in the space industry. A unified departmental office for business needs will enable better coordination of space-related activities. To this end, I have directed all Commerce Department bureaus with space responsibilities to assign a liaison to the new Space Administration team, including the International Trade Administration, Bureau of Industry and Security, National Telecommunications and Information Administration and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

When companies seek guidance on launching satellites, the Space Administration will be able to address an array of space activities, including remote sensing, economic development, data-purchase policies, GPS, spectrum policy, trade promotion, standards and technology and space-traffic management. The new office will also enable the department to manage its growing responsibilities in space.

The department will take on a greater role when it comes to regulation and promotion of space activity. But as the agency charged with promoting job creation and economic growth, we will not engage only in oversight, but will support American companies so they can compete and lead on a level playing field.

Collectively, these efforts will unshackle American industry and ensure American leadership in space. This is essential to technological innovation, economic growth, jobs and national security. But, perhaps more important, it is rejuvenating the American passion for space exploration.

I can still remember when President John F. Kennedy declared that America would put a man on the moon and when Neil Armstrong took that first step on the lunar landscape. Glued to televisions, Americans were filled with excitement and national pride during the Apollo missions.

Last month I felt that same passion as I visited the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs with Vice President Mike Pence. “As we push human exploration deeper into space, we will unleash the boundless potential of America’s pioneering commercial space companies,” the vice president told the crowd.

This is a very special time in space history — there is a convergence of technology, capital, and political will. The United States must seize this moment.

Browse Anonymously on Linux with Tor

by Nathan Willis

NOTE: This article was oriinally posted on Linux.Com in 2011 and is still relevant today.

Seems like every couple of months, a major security breach story hits the news — and I don’t mean thieves cracking into Sony’s account servers; I mean the police breaking down some dissident’s door in a political trouble-spot, or even companies like Apple and Google tracking everything you do without your knowledge. Want to throw a wrench in attempts to track your online life? Have a look at Tor.

Simply logging out of pervasive Web services like Google and Facebook isn’t sufficient to protect your anonymity online, however. Annoying advertisers, crooks, and Big Brother can still track you through cookies, JavaScript tricks, and straight-up IP address logging — at least, if you’re using a run-of-the-mill Web browser. That’s what Tor can help you out with: Tor is a virtual network that funnels your HTTP traffic through an encrypted, distributed network of volunteer-run nodes. Your page requests enter the Tor cloud cloaked in SSL encryption, so no one monitoring you can track your activity, and they come out at a random endpoint that cannot be connected back to you.

There are a lot of people on the Internet for whom this is critical functionality. Anyone living in — or visiting — a country where the state monitors communications might need to keep prying eyes away from his or her online message board visits. People facing threats or harassment and employees in danger of reprisals need to protect themselves. Companies may need to keep the locations of their remote workers secret (which a VPN alone cannot do) or browse the competition’s Web site without being noticed. And the general browsing public may need to simply get away from the constant profiling and tracking by commercial companies.

Tor has its origins in a US Navy research project, designed to keep classified communication channels secure. At one point, the name was an acronym for The Onion Router, which helps most people understand how it functions. Requests from the browser (or other service; Tor works with chat, IM, and other applications as well) take a randomly-selected path between Tor nodes, each step of which is encrypted. Because there are multiple layers or encrypted forwarding (there’s the onion metaphor), it is impossible to associate any single hop with any originating request. Also akin to the metaphorical onion, each layer is completely separate from those on either side of it: a Tor node doesn’t know where a request it is funneling came from, or where it will ultimately arrive.

Of course, Tor only masks the origin and endpoint of the HTTP request: the contents of the request could very well reveal your identity to the site you are reading or to an eavesdropper on the site’s end of the connection. Imagine, for example, that you use Tor to log in to a persistent service like Gmail: someone snooping on your Wi-Fi access point might not be able to tell that you’ve logged in, but if they know you they could still see you appear as “online” in Google Chat. What’s far worse is that JavaScript apps can undermine your privacy by caching trackable info to send when you’re not looking, and interactive plug-ins like Java and Flash initiate their own connections, bypassing the user’s control altogether. So getting the most out of Tor isn’t exactly trivial, but it is still easily doable.

The Full Onion

The Tor network is meant to be accessed with a proxy server, a utility that client apps such as the browser connect to instead of sending requests directly to the Internet. Companies often use proxy servers to enable Internet traffic from within an office facility, to aid in firewalling or simply to cache content for reduced bandwidth costs. Firefox and most other Web browsers are therefore already able to use a proxy server out-of-the-box — Tor simply makes use of one that connects to its anonymizing network, rather than some generic portal.

The Tor project’s current browsing solution includes the Tor executable (which is responsible for finding Tor relays and maintaining your connection to them), a lightweight proxy called Polipo, and a Firefox browser extension called Torbutton. Torbutton enables you to switch Firefox from “Tor mode” to “open browsing mode” with a single click. For home usage, this is generally the most convenient option. Polipo can run silently in the background, not consuming any resources while you remain in open browsing mode. Whenever you activate Torbutton, however, the extension starts directing page requests to Polipo, which in turn sends them through the Tor network, securely.

To get started, you’ll need to download the latest packages from the project. Tor’s authors highly recommend that you use their packages only, not those provided by the distributions — because security updates are much slower to propagate through the distros’ packaging services. There are Debian, RPM, Gentoo, and BSD-style packages provided, and installation instructions for running the tor daemon itself and Polipo. Neither needs much configuration. You can get the Torbutton extension from the Tor download page or through Mozilla’s add-ons site. Finally, visit the Tor Detector to see if your installation is working correctly — after you’ve switched Torbutton on, of course.

One-click anonymity? It sounds too good to be true: and indeed there is a catch. Because the Web these days has so many loopholes and sneaky security risks (such as the JavaScript and plug-in vulnerabilities mentioned above), activating Torbutton also triggers some other browser changes: disabling JavaScript, turning off saved form auto-completion, and a handful of other security measures.

If you’re an add-ons junkie, the safest thing you can do is run Firefox in “safe mode” by launching it with firefox -safe-mode. This turns off extensions, which is an anonymity-protecting step because many of them secretly send data about your session to third-party services. The canonical examples are StumbleUpon and other “social bookmarking” tools; they send personally-identifiable information about your browsing session to the home server.

The Tor project recommends you simply don’t install them at all, and consider some other privacy-protecting extensions instead, such as RefControl, SafeCache, NoScript, and AdBlock Plus. In short, it’s a lot of work keeping private on the World Wide Web: either you only do it occasionally (with Torbutton on and extensions turned off) or you change your browsing habits, bolting on a suite of privacy armored extensions for everyday use and waving goodbye to the available-everywhere glow of social media.

The Simpler Option

A big part of this complexity isn’t Tor’s fault at all: it’s weird little bugs in Firefox. That’s why the Tor project recently announced its decision to phase out Torbutton, and instead maintain its own fork of Firefox, patched for security and integrated with Tor utilities. The project will send its patches upstream; the point is only to provide an easier-to-configure browsing option with fewer pieces to juggle.

TorbrowserThe result is what you get with the Tor Browser (or Tor Browser Bundle, depending on where you look), which is a “portable app”-style package available for Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X. You can download a copy for use on your own machines, plus a copy (or perhaps all three) to a USB key for use when traveling. Each is roughly 63MB and change to download.

The self-contained nature of the Tor Browser Bundle makes installation easier. Just download, unpack, and run. On Linux, your download will be a folder named tor-browser_en-US by default (depending on what other language packs the project makes available — right now there are twelve). Inside, launch the browser with ./start-tor-browser &. The Tor control panel “Vidalia” will pop up to keep you informed on the network’s status, and the browser will launch just like any other Firefox build. The “Tor Enabled” button from the Torbutton extension will show you that you are properly anonymized. Bring up the browser’s Add-ons control panel, and you’ll see a handful of other privacy-enhancing extensions, such as Better Privacy, NoScript, and HTTPS-Everywhere.

The latest release for Linux includes both 32-bit and 64-bit self-contained apps, and there are packages built on Firefox 3.6, and packages built on top of Firefox 4. The Firefox 4 based builds are considered alpha-quality, however, so don’t rely on them for real-world whistleblowing or civil disobedience. On the plus side, the Firefox 4 builds do support HTML5 <video> elements, which means you can watch YouTube videos even though Flash is not installed (try not to do too much of that if you don’t have to, though — the rest of the Tor network would appreciate it).

What will be more interesting than Firefox 4 support in the long run are the Tor Browser options for mobile devices. Mozilla is building Firefox For Mobile targeting the Android and Maemo/MeeGo handset platforms, and the Tor project hasn’t left those users out in the cold, either. There is even a Tor package for the iPhone/iPad browser (utilizing the standard proxy method rather than a Tor Browser Bundle, due to Apple’s refusal to allow third-party browsers). When mobile browsing, you are usually entirely at the mercy of the network provider, of which there are few to choose from, so having anonymity is extra important.

Honestly, once you have tried the Tor Browser Bundle, you are liable to ask why you ever bothered with the Torbutton jumping-through-hoops process. It is dead simple, and fast. You can continue to browse normally in Firefox or your other browser of choice, and fire up the Tor Browser when you need to access sensitive content.

Let’s Kick it Up a Notch

In addition to the reduced functionality that avoiding social media sites and Flash brings, the big caveat of Tor browsing is that, theoretically, you browse at a slower speed because your requests take more hops to get to their destination server. Whether or not this is noticeable depends largely on your network connection.Vidalia

But if you do feel the lag when using Tor, the best thing you can do to speed it up is join the Tor network itself by running the Tor relay software. It’s true, you alone acting as a relay won’t speed up your own browsing session, but if you and one other person do, then the network will speed up for both of you.

To do so, you’ll want to download the permanent, non “Browser Bundle” version of Tor and Vidalia from the downloads page. The relay configuration instructions are simple enough: you can simply choose “Relay traffic for the Tor network” in Vidalia’s settings. However, you can also configure bandwidth-limiting and “exit policies” (to restrict your relay from connecting to sites that will get you in trouble with your ISP) if you want to.

Even if you can’t run a relay all the time, helping out periodically is still a good thing — even if no one knows it’s you when you do it.

High enough to avoid the rising Seas

Where I live in Amarillo it is 3,634 feet (1,107.64 meters) above sea level. Not as high as Denver, the mile high city, but still fairly high.

Did did you know that at higher elevations water boils at a lower temperature? It’s true! Because water boils at a lower temperature at high altitudes you have to cook foods longer to make them fully cooked. This includes cooking in a microwave. Some products have special instructions for high-altitude cooking.

Amarillo, Texas, is high enough to require special cooking instructions.

It’s also high enough so that if the sea Rises due to climate change, then the Caprock will become waterfront property!

Of course I’m joking. But there are two Great Plains in America: the high plains and the rolling plains. However, even with an extreme rise in sea level the ocean will never reach either of these plains.

Ocean levels are rising. In the future they may rise a lot more, potentially flooding coastal cities like New York, Los Angeles, West Bengal, the Netherlands, and so on.

How do I download Kali Linux?

#Linux #Linuxmint #Fedora #DistroWatch #KaliLinux #Manjaro

A very good web site you should know about if you’re interested in Linux is Distro Watch, which you should visit regularly. In fact, if you go to Distro Watch then you can see for yourself where to download all kinds of Linux versions (distros).

If you have to ask how to download Kali Linux, then I suggest you shouldn’t start with that version of Linux because it is too advanced for you. Go with something like Linux Mint to start with.

Kali Linux can be found here. It is not a very popular version of Linux. 15th down on the list. The most popular version of Linux as of writing is Manjaro Linux, as you can see from the list on Distro Watch.

All versions of Linux, when downloaded, will give you a filename with .ISO as the extension name. Burn that to a DVD image, put the DVD in your drive, and reboot your computer and follow the onscreen instructions.

Be aware that if you don’t know what you’re doing you will wreck your computer for good.

On the other hand, I’ve been using Linux for over 20 years (since 1998) as my only operating system. I presently run a mainstream version known as Fedora.

Shouldn’t we be looking for life on planets that formed over 10 billion years ago as they’ve had more time for life to form?

Planets that formed over 10 billion years ago are about 5 billion light years from us, meaning that if we could somehow study planets that far away (we can’t) the light reaching us from there would have taken 5 billion years to reach us. Therefore, we’d be seeing what the planet looked like 5 billion years ago, not what it looks like now. Below is what we are able to see of the most distant galaxy that we have seen to date. It’s about 13 billion light years and we are just seeing the early stages of development because it took light 13 billion years to reach us.

As you can see from the image, Hubble can barely make out the galaxy, what to speak of any planets that might be orbiting the billions of stars inside that galaxy. The best we can do is study planets in our vicinity of the Milky Way.

What’s the use of the universe if Earth is the only habitable planet?

First, we don’t know Earth is the only habitable planet. However, until we have some proof, we have no way of knowing for sure. That’s why we’re searching so hard for extraterrestrial organisms.

Second, who says the universe has to have a use? It just is. Similarly, you could say what’s the use of living if you die in the end. That kind of view doesn’t do anyone any good. Just go with it and enjoy the exploration and discovery life offers us, like whether or not life exists elsewhere in the Universe.

How can we believe in God, but not in alien/extraterrestrial life or vice versa? This seems like a paradox to me.

I don’t see either as being dependent on the other. In other words, you can believe in God and not in extraterrestrial life. Many religious people do in fact hold that view. On the other hand, you can believe in extraterrestrial life and not believe in God. I know many people who hold that view.

So I don’t see a paradox at all. According to the Google dictionary, a paradox is “a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement or proposition that when investigated or explained may prove to be well founded or true.” I fail to see a contradiction that two different people can hold either view. It’s all theory.

In reality, we do not know for sure that life exists anywhere other than Earth because we have never found any evidence of life, although we continue the search. We have yet to find even a fossil of a microbe from space. However, the laws of mathematical probability suggest that with billions of planets in this galaxy and billions of other galaxies, it is likely that there is at least microbial life somewhere, if not something more advanced. We just haven’t the proof yet.

Similarly, except for subjective experiences, there is no proof that God exists either, although people believe that God exists. Maybe both exist. Maybe neither exists. I suppose it’s a question of faith in either view.