The positives of a long, snowy Minnesota Winter.

This has been a long, snowy, perhaps difficult Minnesota Winter. However, I don’t ever remember one with such awesome sights. I can’t wait for Spring to arrive, but I sure don’t mind scenes of Winter mornings such as today, on the drive to Nerstrand.

VIP tour of Johnson Space Center

Earlier this week, I had an opportunity to take a VIP tour of Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, and it’s definitely not something to be missed. Here I am in a now unused space shuttle flight deck simulator in the Shuttle Avionics Innovation Laboratory, as well as the visitor gallery of the historical Apollo and present day ISS mission control rooms. I actually got a chance to tour the Apollo control room itself.

Spyware in the Beijing Olympics Apps

Jonathan Scott, a PhD candidate that researches mobile malware/spyware/forensics in Boerne, TX, recently decrypted and decompiled the 2022 official Beijing Olympics Apps that athletes are required to install on their iPhone or Android phones. They are supposed to be used for data collection for COVID-19 and for Olympic medal notification. Instead, what he found, was that the apps not only record and send audio from the phone microphone and capture clipboard contents, but they contain AI technology that was trade blacklisted in the United States back in 2019.

While the spying in particular is not a huge surprise, what IS a surprise is that the app either 1) Got past both Apple and Google’s safety-assurance processes ensuring apps are safe to use (in fact, Apple specifically states there is no data collection from this app). , or 2) These apps were given special treatment by Apple and Google to work around the usual process for app approval.

Do I believe that Apple and Google, the top 2 of 3 technology companies in the world, had their top security experts fooled into thinking the app was safe? Well, certainly both have had instances of being caught not doing their due diligence, but both companies, about the same app? Interesting.

No comment from most U.S. press and government so far. The very first news agencies are just picking up on this story.

Decompiled App source code from Jonathan’s GitHub:

Netflix, 24 years ago!

May 1999…Way before streaming was really a thing, except for RealPlayer of course, I placed a rental order for 2 DVDs through a new mail order movie service called Netflix. You simply received the DVDs in the mail, and returned them in a prepaid envelope when you were done watching them. The concept was new and unique. My first five rentals: Wag the Dog, Air Force One, Star Trek Insurrection, The X-Files, and You’ve Got Mail. What ever happened to that Netflix company?

Tired of Daylight Saving Time? It could be worse…

Listening to an old WCCO radio broadcast of the Fridley tornadoes on May 6th, 1965, I found myself a little confused. Not at the fact that they used repurposed military radars in attempt to figure out where rain and tornadoes were coming and going and using movie cameras to animate the radar echoes, but rather at a time announcement by the WCCO broadcaster. “It’s almost 5 minutes past 9, Central Standard Time. 5 minutes past 10, in Wisconsin.” Say what again? Was Wisconsin in a different time zone in those days or what?

It so turns out, that a nationwide uniform time act was still a year away from being enacted, and states and even portions of states either observed or didn’t observe daylight saving time. At that time, Wisconsin observed daylight saving time, and Minnesota did not. If you were heading to a restaurant in Wisconsin for supper, you’d have to leave an hour early to make your reservation. It was also very possible, if you lived on the border, to be able to make two appointments at the same time, if the first one happened to be in Wisconsin.

The antics didn’t stop there. Just days after that WCCO radio broadcast, you had an even better excuse for missing a bus or being late for work in Minneapolis and St. Paul. The two cities couldn’t agree when to start daylight saving time. Minnesota state law designated May 23rd as the day to turn clocks forward, but St. Paul’s City Council decided to make the move on May 9th instead, in line with the majority of the nation. Minneapolis decided to go by state law and fell an hour behind St. Paul on the second Sunday in May.

The hilarity of the situation wasn’t missed on the Minneapolis Star newspaper, as they wrote “Sewage rolled into the Minneapolis/St. Paul Sanitary District plant from St. Paul on daylight time, but left on standard time. If you called a cop, he arrived to take care of your problem on standard time. But if you needed a fireman, he showed up on daylight time. Two clocks were set up at the Northwest Orient Airlines registration desk to aid employees in informing passengers about flight times. Warren Phillips of the United Airlines desk said, ‘We just ask people what time it shows on their watch and give them directions according to that.'”

Having perhaps forgotten that bit of history, the Minnesota legislature just this week is calling for the confusion to resume again…by breaking with federal standards, and once again considering staying with one time year-round. Instead of Minneapolis/St. Paul having 2 different times, it could be Duluth and Superior, Stillwater and Houlton, and LaCrescent and LaCrosse this time around.

If the absurdity of it all didn’t make you fall back in your chair, then rest assured at least your clocks will be. They’ll fall back, mostly on their own, tomorrow, November 7, 2021.

— Brian Klier, Rice County Skywarn (1965 Twin Cities Tornado Outbreak [WCCO AM 830 Coverage] Pt. 2)

It’s December 7th.

It was a sobering experience for Bethany and I to be on a ship in Pearl Harbor in February of 2013, but absolutely nothing compared to what people experienced here on today’s date in 1941. 9 quarts of oil still float to the water’s surface from the USS Arizona EACH DAY as a permanent reminder of the sacrifices made here 79 years ago. Bullet holes etched in the hangar glass on Ford Island are still visible today, telltale marks of the strafing from the Japanese Zeros. Let’s not forget the sacrifices military personnel and civilians made through World War II to lead our country and our allies to victory, allowing us all to continue to live the freedom we all take for granted from time to time.