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Trolls can’t Hide on the Internet

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There is a saying I use in IT Security, “Being 99% successful at hiding on the internet is 0% effective”.  Internet Trolls seem to have a hard time understanding this concept, as they are easy to find.  Unfortunately Internet Trolls are the scourge of the internet and cause real problems for online celebrities.  The entire reason they exist is because they think they are anonymous which makes it easy for them to be brave.  However I have yet to find an internet troll that can hide successfully.

A very popular RV internet celebrity recently was having issues with a troll.  This person was putting in false copyright claims into YouTube.  This is a real issue for YouTube stars as their source of revenue is based on YouTube views.  When a copyright claim is made, the video is basically locked down for 90 days, and the celebrity cannot make any revenue off the video while YouTube investigates.  This is a backwards “guilty until proven innocent” method of dealing with copyright claims.  This celebrity described it best as,  your boss one day said “I have heard a rumor you have not been working hard enough, I am going to stop paying you for 3 months while I look into the issue”  Within 3 months the boss will make a judgement and decide if you were working hard and if you should start getting paid again.

This internet celebrity, was recently hit with several copyright claims based on drone footage in his videos.  This celebrity shows himself in all his drone footage, so clearly these were false claims.  Once I had the source of the copyright claims from the celebrity I started investigating.  The celebrity was pessimistic that the troll could be identified as he was using an alias.  After a few hours of research of public information, I had both fake and real online identities, a name, home address, parents and uncles names, an age, 4 neighbors names/addresses, a map to his house.  I also had his grade, his highschool, his position on the school football team and his regional ranking.  I also was able to find out his country of origin, and many of his likes.

The info I was given by the celebrity (I was told it was likely a fake account):

Arman Yaralian

dronezgarden@gmail.com

However the good news is there were some breadcrumbs to follow.

So in order to find more information this is what I did:

The first step was to look at the google profile for dronezgarden@gmail.com, note the profile picture in the helmet and the photograph of him in the first post about his Spanish homework.

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You will notice the same helmet in his YouTube profile, along with a lot of viewing habits to help determine his likes and dislikes:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPXc_szgaCZkhVMo-VEvefg

Next if you search for him in Facebook, there are 2 results.  The first is his active personal account, note the same helmet photo as in the youtube/google account that made the false copyright claim and posted comments admitting to being the source of the claims on the celebrity’s Facebook page.  Also note the picture of the little girl (his sister Tiffany).  The second fake account used to post the comments, shows that Tiffany is a friend as well and also shows the celebrity as a like.

facebook-account

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Next the only Twitter account for this name, was following only one thing, the football team for Sehome Highschool in Bellingham WA, the school listed in his Facebook profile.  This also gave his twitter handle “armin196”.

Having all this information, allowed me to mine the publicly posted information on these sites:

Arman Yaralian

address: 1371 Barkstone Ct, Bellingham WA 98229-2583

school: Sehome High School (senior last year)

hometown: Bellingham, Washington

potential aliases: dronezgarden, seniorbanana

Gmail/youtube: dronezgarden@gmail.com

twitter: armen196

facebook: Seniorbanana, arman.yaralian.5

 

After more research it was also easy to find out about his active career in varsity football along with all his team mates names:

http://www.hudl.com/athlete/3126998/arman-yaralian

http://www.athletic.net/TrackAndField/Athlete.aspx?AID=6435714#/L0

http://www.bellinghamherald.com/sports/high-school/prep-football/article32825601.html

 

Pubic census and voter records also were able to be used to determine information about his family and neighbors.

In the end the only evidence of this person having any drone footage online was 3 crude clips at DailyMotion none of which were used by the internet celebrity.

http://www.dailymotion.com/dronezgarden

 

Filling your RV Tires with Nitrogen

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Have you ever wondered if Nitrogen filled tires are worth it?  Race car drivers, commercial jets and the space shuttle thought it was a good idea, it must be right?  So the real question might be does the benefit outweigh the cost?  Claims are that it will provide a more constant air pressure in the tire, with less need to top the tires up thus leading to a more comfortable ride and better fuel economy.  But again, is it worth $20-30 per tire?

Lets look at some facts.  Air on earth at sea level contains about 80% Nitrogen naturally, with close to 20% Oxygen, and a very small fraction made up of other Noble gasses.  At sea level this means an unfilled tire has 1 ATM of earth air in it as soon as it gets mounted to the rim (with 80% Nitrogen in it).  To fill it the rest of the way with a compressor you are putting in 80% Nitrogen, so in my case (using ST tires), at 3.4ATM (50psi) I am still getting 80% Nitrogen in my tires.

Some common pressures:

  • air pressure at sea level = 1 ATM
  • air pressure of a typical car tire (32psi) = 2.1 ATM
  • air pressure of a typical ST trailer tire (50psi) = 3.4 ATM
  • air pressure of a typical class A truck tire (100psi) = 6.8 ATM

So is 100% Nitrogen worth it?  Well have you noticed one flaw so far.  You may not be getting 100% Nitrogen to begin with.  If the shop simply hooks up your tire to a Nitrogen tank and adds Nitrogen up to your required PSI, there is already air in the tire.  Remember, an empty tire fresh on the rim already has air in it (1 ATM at sea level), so to get a ST tire up to 3.4 ATM, you have to add an additional 2.4 ATM of pure Nitrogen to the 1 ATM of 80% Nitrogen.  This will actually leave you with about 95% Nitrogen, and about 5% Oxygen left over.  Now a proper shop should also be bleeding the tire and refilling it, but they cannot get to 0 ATM, as the tire will collapse, so in reality they can never achieve 100% Nitrogen unless the tire is in a vacuum.  Also bleeding means they waste Nitrogen that they are paying good money for.

As an RV’r I had always been taught to watch tire pressure like a hawk, Trailer tires are rumored to be poorly made and far more prone to blowouts.  So the rule had been, buy a good pressure gauge, check pressure before and during every trip and top up or invest in a TPMS system to watch pressure in real time.

So if you already get 80% Nitrogen for free vs close to 100% for $80-120 for a set of 4 tires is it worth that cost if you are checking tire pressure every trip anyway and your pressure is always at the optimal PSI giving you the best handling, performance and mpg?  I think I will risk just 80% Nitrogen.

The Data Trail we leave where ever we travel

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Lets start this post with a quote from Ben Franklin 1759 “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”  This is the actual original quote, although it has been requoted inaccurately as well.  In this day and age we give up an enormous amount of Liberty to purchase our government a little temporary safety.

It is near impossible to go anywhere without leaving a trail that can be followed.  Some people leave less of a trail and in some countries it is easier to not leave a trail.  There are a great many things we can do to minimize the trail we leave but it takes significant effort to leave little or no trail behind.  The most important thing to remember is 99% success at not leaving a trail is 0% effective.  All it takes is leaving one bread crumb and a trail that can be followed is started.

So the real question is why bother trying.  There are a number of possible answers.  The first, because you resent government watching you.  The second is because you just want to get away from the world.  And also, you may simply be paranoid of the government and want to protect your privacy.  Perhaps the more intelligent answer is that you do not resent government watching, but you resent government not being held accountable for who they watch and why and how they store, share and use the data they do capture.

Take a look at a few examples of ways you can be tracked:

  1. Your cell phone can be tracked by its IMEI ID via cell towers and can be triangulated.
  2. Government can use fake cell towers to do a man in the middle attack on your call and data to watch everything as it passes by.
  3. You can also track header information from calls and texts.  Also any app that runs in the background on your phone can be used to track you.
  4. Every time your email goes out to check for new messages or any app like Facebook, Twitter, Vine, Snapshot, Instagram, LinkedIn etc. check for updates they leave an record that can be traced back to a location.
  5. The GPS on your phone can be used to betray you by allowing the phone company to retrieve exact, realtime location information directly from your phone as you are moving around.
  6. Making purchases leaves a paper trail.  Every time a credit or debit card is used, there is a record of where and when.
  7. Every time you walk into or passed a store you are on camera in real time but also recorded.  While you walk thru a store, even with hundreds of cameras, they can follow you from camera to camera.

Tracking data is only part of the equation.  Building a database with enough data can help turn data that appears to be anonymous into data that can be used to identify you.   Once a database of your behavior is established, advertisers, stores, cell companies, government or anyone who has access to this data can also start to analyze the data to determine patterns that can be used to predict your future behavior based on past behavior.

Perhaps the question should not be, should companies and governments have the right to track you or not, but rather if they are going to track you how will they be held accountable to some code of conduct and some level of transparency in their operation?  Also if they have a right to collect data, should you not have a right to see that data they collect?  Should there also not be a standard practice for how to collect the data, store the data, secure the data, use the data and share the data?   Should this also not be legislated in a national way similar to a Constitution, guaranteeing  these rights to all citizens similar to the universal right to freedom and the right to not be discriminated against etc?  Finally should citizens not have a fair expectation that their government should lead by example?

Review: Swagman Upgright Bike Rack

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Last summer I was looking for a roof top bike rack that I could use to carry the kids bikes when we went out East.    I discovered the Swagman at MEC (Canada’s equivalent to REI).  It was about $100 per bike (sold separately) so I bought 2.  The install was quite easy and only took a few minutes.  It is actually so easy, I take them off in the winter, just to make it easier to clear the snow off the roof of the car.  The description said they were universal mount on most types of cross bars.  They fit perfectly on our Hyundai with stock cross bars.  Once installed I found that mounting the bikes was quick and easy.  The hardest part, as with any roof top bike carrier, was getting the bikes up to the roof.  Leaving the back doors open, I could easily step up and lift them to the roof.  Securing the bikes was quite easy with 2 straps securing the tires in place and the cross bar to hold them upright.  We have used them for two summers and gone camping over 10,000km with the bikes on the roof.

One day I may pickup a Swagman Mighty Rack- Around the Spare Bike Rack so I can put the bikes on the back of the trailer and still carry the Canoe or one day purchase a Standup Paddleboard.

Swagman Upright Bike Rack

Secrets to Restringing RV Roman Blinds

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Did you know that when the string in an RV blind breaks, it is actually quite easy to restring them?  I recently did one of mine in 15 minutes, including the time to take it down and put it back up.  You can buy restringing kits online or at your RV dealer for quite a bit of money, in my case the best price I could find was about $50CAD.  These kits come with replacement string, tension springs, grommets and everything you could need.  However in most cases you do not need the springs or grommets, you just need the string, as it is the common fail point.  The string just wears out from friction of the blinds going up and down.

There is an important tip about RV Roman blinds however, if all you need is the string, there are lots of other sources.  You may be able to find window blind restringing kits meant for home blinds at home improvement stores or home decor stores.  This will save you some money but still have a markup.  What most people do not realize is that the string used in most RV Roman Blinds is Paracord.  Yes that same stuff used for parachutes, and those neat woven survival bracelets.  However the trick is that there are many different grades of paracord, from the thickest, best made, with highest drop weight used for parachutes right down to the stuff used for window blinds.  Window blinds use Type 1, 95lbs drop rated, 1.85mm Paracord.  The good news is when you shop for Paracord in bulk on Amazon or other sites, you can get a per foot price that can be 10x or more cheaper than the per foot price of getting it in a RV Restringing Kit.  So next time you need to restring a blind, just buy 25′, 50′ or 100′ of Type 1 paracord for a few dollars and if you are really creative, why not try it in reflective flourescent green…  In my case I was able to match the color almost exactly, and only needed about 15′ to do the one small blind in my trailer, however the cost went down significantly as you bought more, it was only a couple of dollars more to go up from the 50′ spool to the 100′ spool.  Now I have enough cord to do both blinds a half dozen times and it cost me less that $10CAD.

Type 1 95lbs 1.85mm Paracord

The actual job of restringing is quite easy:

  1. remove valance screws to get blind and valance off the wall, usually hidden behind the blind
  2. remove blind screws from valance to get blind off valance
  3. remove tension screws below blinds on the wall
  4. spread the blind on the floor or other large flat surface
  5. with a pair of pliers remove the end cap on the top and the bottom of the blind, it is easiest to do both caps on the same side (ie top left and bottom left)
  6. slide off the plastic cover from the top and bottom of the blind to expose blind cord
  7. cut out old cord and keep all parts laid out in an orderly fashion so you can get them together again.  It may be a good idea to take a photo so you remember the exact path the cords take
  8. try to get one cord off mostly in tact, this will give you a good guide for how long the new cords need to be, I cut the new ones about 1-2′ longer than the original just to have some room to play
  9. restring blind one pleat at a time, making sure you tie good nots on the spring at the top and on the tension screws at the bottom.  Make note that when restringing, the cord crosses over at the bottom before going thru the end caps and attaching to the tension screws
  10. reassemble, remount and trim excess cord from tension screw

Review: Bar Harbor Campground ME

Bar Harbor Campground

Photo from Campmaine.com (unfortunately I did not get any good pictures of the campground)

The Bar Harbor campground is in an excellent location, right off the main strip (Highway 3) into Bar Harbor and has a view of the water.  The campground itself is well run and has all the facilities, like a pool (with a view of the water), laundry, comfort stations etc.  There are forested sites and grass sites along with full hookup, electric and no hookup.  There is also an excellent Lobster Pound/bar/ice cream stand just outside the gate of the park.

The one catch to this campground that concerns people is that they do not take reservations and you have to pay in cash.  With that out of the way it is easy to work around this and it is worth it because the park is excellent, especially if you get a water view site.  When we went we had a backup reservation at the National Park for the first night.  When we got to the park there was a few sites left so we did not need the other reservation.  You can also move into a new site as someone vacates it and notify the office.

Must have books for your RV bookshelf

There are a number of books that I like to carry when RVing.  Although there are piles of apps available and you can often find free WIFI, or get cell service in most places, there is always the chance you will not have service when you need it the most.  For this reason I like to have the following in paper copy just in case:

Good Sam RV Travel Guide:  If you are travelling without reservations and just planning day by day, it is always good to have a book that will tell you where you can stop that night.

KOA Directory:  The KOA guide is small and a good supplement to the GoodSam guide

Jellystone Campground Directory:  This is also small and another good supplement to the Goodsam guide

Camping World catalog:  The Camping World catalog is a must have even if you do not plan on shopping with them.  There may be times when you have phone service but no internet and need to order a replacement part to be delivered at your next stop.  There may also be times when you need to go to a local RV dealer but are not sure exactly what the part is called.

A decent Trucker Road Atlas:  GPS is great whether you have a Garmin or rely on your iPhone to get you there, but what happens when you drop your iPhone in the toilet at a gas station on the Alcan highway?

The Next Exit:  This is a good guide to the exits of every Interstate just in case you are looking for gas or coffee in the Nevada Desert

Along I75:  This is an outstanding guide when travelling down the I75 to Florida