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Current Topic: Travel

ZERO Halliburton going mainstream. NOOOOO!!!!
Topic: Travel 12:19 am EDT, Aug 17, 2006

“We had a flurry of phone calls from travelers in Europe asking where they could buy our laptop cases. Some were even calling directly from Heathrow wondering if we sold the cases there at the airport,” says David Sebens, VP of sales and marketing at ZERO Halliburton.

The Salt Lake City-based company makes a line of high-end aluminum laptop cases with a shock-absorbent polyurethane foam interior. More closely resembling a portable bomb shelter than a briefcase, the bag also has an aura of geek chic that makes it popular among the techie crowd. The company, which sells thousands of the cases each year, says it has seen a spike in demand in the past week.


Decius bought a ZERO Halliburton years ago, which he almost never used. I took custody of it about a year ago. Since that time, I have truly fallen in love with it. Love. Pure love.

Not only does it fit my 17" Powerbook perfectly (few cases fit it at all), but it protects the hell out of it. The internal padding does an amazing job of absorbing sock, and the aluminum can stop anything up to a carbine round. (No, I have not tested this.)

But the best thing about it, is the fashion statement. And I'm not much one for fashion. It stands out. When you trod along kicking the Halliburton, people notice. You can watch their eyes drift down to the case. One look at it says a thousand words. Words like "bomb", "cocaine", "unmarked $20 bills", "negotiable bonds", "guns", "classified documents", "plutonium", etc.. When I plod around the campus I attend classes at, I get asked at least once a week, without fail, "what's in the case?" I have about a dozen answers. "Schemes and plans" tends to be my favorite.

Now, thanks to TSA, everyone is going to have one. It's like when your favorite band gets popular with people you hate. I feel it coming. DAMNIT.

Update: Must... fight... turning into hipster.. must.. not.. turn.. into.. hipster..

ZERO Halliburton going mainstream. NOOOOO!!!!

Wired News: Hackers Clone E-Passports
Topic: Travel 6:47 pm EDT, Aug  3, 2006

A German computer security consultant has shown that he can clone the electronic passports that the United States and other countries are beginning to distribute this year.

"The whole passport design is totally brain damaged," Grunwald says. "From my point of view all of these RFID passports are a huge waste of money. They're not increasing security at all."

Although countries have talked about encrypting data that's stored on passport chips, this would require that a complicated infrastructure be built first, so currently the data is not encrypted.

Grunwald's isn't the only research on e-passport problems circulating at Black Hat. Kevin Mahaffey and John Hering of Flexilis released a video Wednesday demonstrating that a privacy feature slated for the new passports may not work as designed.

As planned, U.S. e-passports will contain a web of metal fiber embedded in the front cover of the documents to shield them from unauthorized readers. Though Basic Access Control would keep the chip from yielding useful information to attackers, it would still announce its presence to anyone with the right equipment. The government added the shielding after privacy activists expressed worries that a terrorist could simply point a reader at a crowd and identify foreign travelers.

In theory, with metal fibers in the front cover, nobody can sniff out the presence of an e-passport that's closed. But Mahaffey and Hering demonstrated in their video how even if a passport opens only half an inch -- such as it might if placed in a purse or backpack -- it can reveal itself to a reader at least two feet away.

Using a mockup e-passport modeled on the U.S. design, they showed how an attacker could connect a hidden, improvised bomb to a reader such that it triggers an explosion when a passport-holder comes within range.

Wired News: Hackers Clone E-Passports

Ministry of Tourism :: Destination Lebanon
Topic: Travel 3:07 am EDT, Jul 14, 2006

Dear Visitor,

Ever since time immemorial, Lebanon has been and still is the meeting of great civilizations and culture. This marvelous land, rich in its cultural heritage and beautiful landscapes, archaeological treasures and varied cuisine, the warmth and hospitality of its people, is a country that has long been destined for tourism.

Beirut and all of Lebanon welcome the world with heartfelt smiles and opened arms to come visit its sunny shores, beautiful mountains, and lush green valleys. Our reputation for world-class hotels, sumptuous restaurants, classic historical sites, breathtaking eco-tours, delightful rural destinations, fantastic cultural events, and exciting entertainment is alive and only getting better!

I hope that these qualities combined with the country's relaxed and family-oriented way of life will make you feel at home in Lebanon.

The policy of the new government is to enhance the promotion of tourism in different sectors and to encourage investments in the country in order to make Lebanon a first class tourism destination in the Middle East.

You are most welcomed in our country.

Ahlan Wa Sahlan
Joseph Sarkis
Minister of Tourism

Ministry of Tourism :: Destination Lebanon

North Korea's Ryugyong Hotel
Topic: Travel 5:27 pm EDT, Apr  7, 2006

The DPRK is also one of the world's most secretive nations. For a North Korean, contact with a foreigner can land one in jail… or worse. But there is one embarrassing secret that is hard for the government to hide, literally. It's the Ryugyong Hotel in the Potong District of North Korea's capital city of Pyongyang. It's difficult to hide because it's a massive, 105-story structure which dominates the city's skyline. It's an embarrassment because it's a complete engineering failure… its empty, dilapidated husk lurks over the capital, mocking the citizens of the proud country.

The Ryugyong or "Capital of Willows" Hotel stands 1,083 feet tall, and it was planned to have 3,000 rooms and seven revolving restaurants. It has a total of 3.9 million square feet of floor space. The hotel would be the tallest hotel and seventh largest building in the world if it were finished. It would also have been the first building with over one hundred floors outside of New York or Chicago.

I noticed this downright huge building in Pyongyang while traveling the world via Google Earth. I'd love to visit Pyongyang. It seems like a Disneyland style theme park where "failure" is the theme.

North Korea's Ryugyong Hotel

Zero Halliburton - Double Long Case
Topic: Travel 9:03 pm EDT, Sep 17, 2005

Heat-tempered aluminum shell has the strength of steel at only one quarter the weight
Sturdy triple-digit combination lock for superior security
Easy to customize, high-density foam padding
Two to four key locks
Extra strength hinges withstand pulling of over 400 pounds
Sturdy drawbolt latches
Innovative neoprene gasket keeps out dust and moisture, providing unrivaled protection
Manufactured in the USA

I'm fast becoming a big fan of Zero Halliburton cases, mostly due to the one I've borrowed from Decius. This one might qualify as dual use. I could envision it working well for other weapons, such as guitars. I think this has made my want list. Why the hell do I always seem to develop such expensive tastes? The exceptions don't add up to the desired. There is just something about a brief case that can stop a carbine round that's, well, sexy..

Zero Halliburton - Double Long Case

Elonka on!!!
Topic: Travel 2:28 am EDT, Jun 20, 2005

A Web forum where cryptographers collaborate on the puzzle went from attracting about 50 hits a day to thousands of hits a day, according to its moderator Elonka Dunin.

MemeStreams has been getting a noticable number of referrals from

Sanborn did let CNN have a look at his little-known sister sculpture on the grounds of the Hirshhorn Gallery in Washington D.C. That artwork, titled "Antipodes," contains the same text, although it lacks some of the physical clues scattered on the CIA grounds.

Anyone ever gone to the Hishhorn Gallery?

Elonka on!!!

Hoder | Going home, finally
Topic: Travel 1:02 am EDT, Jun 17, 2005

Don't be surprised: Under duress, I may confess that I've been on the Bush Administration's payroll to undermine the regime by helping to spread use of weblogs; I've tried to weaken moral values of young Iranians by promoting western culture and values; I've been part of a secret network of Israeli and American spies; I've distributed large amounts of money to Iranian dissidents, activists, bloggers and journalists inside in Iran so they can topple the regime.

Nor should you be amazed to hear me say that I've been running a virtual brothel in Tehran from my apartment in Toronto; I've been trafficking heroin and cocaine to Iran; and I've been secretly dating Natalie Portman and Kyra Knightly and have even an illegitimate child with Rachel Weiz.

Don't let them fool you: They might try to silence you by saying things like "remain silent and we won't torture him," or "don't talk to local and foreign press about it and we'll take it easy on him," etc. Under extremely high pressure, I myself, might even ask you to keep quiet. But don't listen to any of this. Go ahead! And as Sina Motallebi has said, keep on pressuring the regime using different means of protest.

Hoder has returned to Iran for a visit. He has posted some guidelines for what to do if Iran tosses him in a gulag. I hope his visit goes well. I'll be paying attention.

I had a chance to meet Hoder at BlogNashville. I popped up in his Flickr photostream.

Hoder | Going home, finally

Great White shark attacks New Jersey surfer - Yahoo! News
Topic: Travel 1:56 am EDT, Jun  9, 2005

A 17-year-old surfer in New Jersey lost a chunk of leg flesh in what is likely the state's first
attack by a Great White shark in 30 years, officials said on Wednesday.

New Jersey resident Ryan Horton was about 25 feet off the beach at Surf City, Long Beach Island early on Sunday afternoon when he felt a sharp pain in his ankle but didn't see what
caused it. After paddling back to shore, he was taken to a hospital, Surf City Police said in a statement.

Bob Schoelkopf, director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine, New Jersey said photos of the wound confirmed it could only have been made by a Great White.

If it can kill you, there is a good chance we've got it in Jersey.

Great White shark attacks New Jersey surfer - Yahoo! News - Hong Kong: Fun on a budget - Jun 6, 2005
Topic: Travel 4:13 am EDT, Jun  7, 2005

But it's easy to have a great time on $20 a day -- just over 150 Hong Kong dollars -- in the city whose name means "Fragrant Harbor" in Chinese.

How to enjoy what we used to call "the many smells of Hong Kong" for $20 a day. Hong Kong is a very easy place to spend way too much money. - Hong Kong: Fun on a budget - Jun 6, 2005 - A traveling geek's gilded dream - Apr 22, 2005
Topic: Travel 5:16 pm EDT, Apr 23, 2005

] The German Kempinski chain, which manages the Emirates
] Palace, aims to use its technological infrastructure to
] attract government conferences, especially those needing
] tight network security.

] That ability was a top draw for February's international
] arms trade show, where defense officials from several
] countries wanted secrecy and secure telephones for
] weapons deals, Coeshott said.

] The hotel's network already has a full-time security officer
] who monitors its 16 firewalls and intrusion detection
] systems. The staff is working to win accreditation used
] by the British banking system, Coeshott said.

] On special request, the computer and broadcast network
] -- and its 3.5 terabyte storage network -- can be cut
] off completely from the outside world, like the U.S.
] government's secure intranet, he said.

] Guests in the hotel's 394 bedrooms, where nightly rates
] range from $600 to $12,000, get a handheld computer
] to interact with the television, stereo and 30 separate
] lights in each room. The $2,500 Linux-based AMX
] handheld, with an 8-inch color screen, can also arrange
] a wake-up call, download a movie, record a TV show
] or call for maid service.

Sounds like a great place for a hacker con. - A traveling geek's gilded dream - Apr 22, 2005

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