Archive for February, 2007

OpenAFS for Windows, Error: 3 (unknown authentication error 3)

Monday, February 26th, 2007

If you are getting this error “Error: 3 (unknown authentication error 3)” when you attempt to obtain tokens using OpenAFS for Windows, you forgot to install Kerberos for Windows, KfW is not configured correctly for your realm, or you do not currently have a Kerberos TGT for some other reason. The error is returned because the AFS client cannot obtain tokens if you do not already possess a Kerberos TGT.

Fender rust on 1990-1993 Honda Accord

Sunday, February 25th, 2007

You may have noticed that most 1990-1993 Honda Accords have significant rust in the rear fenders above the rear tires while the rest of the body is rust free. There are a few causes.

The first cause is road salt and grime being kicked up in between the rubber splash guard and the lip of the fender. Car washes do not get to this salt and grime, and so it begins corroding the fender on the inside. By the time you see the corrosion, the fender has started to significantly rot.

The second cause is the drain hoses from the roof that are behind the upholstery panel in the trunk being clogged and allowing water to collect behind the fender.

If you have immaculate fenders, prevent this problem from occurring by REMOVING the rubber in the rear wheel wells so that there is nowhere for salt and grime to accumulate in a “hidden” place. Also, make sure the drain hoses flow freely.

The root cause is the fact that Honda (cheaply) failed to paint both sides and the underneath of the render, even though it was obvious from the design that the fender would corrode from both sides and underneath. There is nothing that can be done about it now besides to prevent the corrosion from starting. Once it has started, it is extremely difficult to repair. Once a rust hole begins at the fender, water will then leak into the trunk and corrode the inside even more!

Cooling fan runs after motor is shut off

This is perfectly normal. Spooked me though!

Making Windows XP bearable

Wednesday, February 7th, 2007

Cmd Here
Task Switch

Third party apps:

Internet Explorer -> Firefox, Opera
Word -> Abiword
Office -> OpenOffice
Outlook -> Thunderbird/Sunbird (unless using shared office calendar and address book)
Windows Media Player -> Media Player Classic, VLC, XP Codec Pack
Windows Messenger -> Gaim, Psi
Paint, Visio -> Inkscape, Dia, GIMP
Acrobat Reader -> Ghostscript & GSview
Notepad/Wordpad -> GVim
WinZip -> 7-Zip
GnuPG -> WinPT

Unixy additions:
Strawberry Perl

Unix interop:
Services for Unix (free from MS)
Xming (X.Org X server)
Cygwin (includes an X server)
mingw32/MSYS (Unix style build environment for Windows)
True X-Mouse (Unix style mouse focus and highlight-copy semantics)
VirtuaWin (Pseudo-virtual desktops)
WinSCP (SCP/SFTP client)
PuTTY (SSH client)
GNU-Win32 (Win32 ports of Unix utilities)
Strawberry Perl (Win32 “Official” Perl port)
coLinux (Linux as Win32 process)
Kerberos for Windows
OpenAFS client (to access AFS fileservers)
LyX (LaTeX technical writing GUI)
TightVNC (VNC client and server for platform independent remote framebuffer access)

gVim (text editor)
AbiWord/OpenOffice (office suites)
Sunbird (Calendar with WebDAV support)
Firefox/Opera (browsers)
ImageMagick (image conversion and viewers)
GIMP (image editing)
GTK for Windows (for Dia/GIMP/etc)
Inkscape/Dia (chart drawing)
Media Player Classic and XP Codec Pack (media player)
7-Zip (file archiver)
Ghostscript/GSview, Foxit Reader (PDF/PS viewer)
Powertoys (enhanced Alt-tab, command line here, TweakUI)
Icon Restore
Psi (Jabber IM client)
Gaim (Multi protocol IM client)
Process Explorer (Task manager replacement)
DAEMON Tools (virtual CD/DVD driver)
Java 2 SE 1.5 or greater (replace Microsoft JVM)
Privoxy (filtering HTTP/HTTPS proxy server)
TortoiseCVS/TortoiseSVN (shell integration for revision control systems)

How to deal with a traffic stop without being arrested, or at least not convicted

Friday, February 2nd, 2007

This is not professional legal advice. The best policy is to never carry any sort of contraband in your car. However, sometimes you just can’t remember, or can’t be sure what your passengers are carrying.


You are trying to avoid two things: reasonable suspicion and probable cause. Reasonable suspicion is what allows the officer to detain or arrest you while a K-9 unit is summoned. Finding any contraband in your car or on your person then allows the officer to charge you. Probable cause is what allows the Prosecutor to use the evidence against you in court. The laws on what constitutes reasonable suspicion and probable cause vary state to state, but following this script is the best way to avoid the possibility of the officer establishing either, both in his own eyes and in the eyes of the court. If the officer does not establish what he believes to be reasonable suspicion, then you cannot be either arrested or charged. If the officer does not establish what the court would believe is reasonable suspicion, consent, or probable cause, then even if you are charged, the Prosecutor has a very weak case and your lawyer has a lot of leverage.

A note on dog sniffs

Once reasonable suspicion is established, it is a small step to then attain probable cause because of the notorious lack of credibility assessment assigned to any particular K-9 unit. The handler can say the dog ‘alerted’ even when the dog is completely disinterested in your car because he can simply cite the special relationship between the dog and handler that allows one to know the other better than anyone else possibly could. The handler can also train the dog to respond to motions that you wouldn’t notice, but that cause the dog to put on a show that appears to be an alert.

Dogs are supposed to be certified to detect various forms of contraband, but those certifications are not objectively tested on a regular basis. A fair system would require the dogs to submit to periodic double blind testing (just like citizens get to pee in a cup on a regular basis) in order for any alerts to be justified as probable cause. Otherwise, the odds could be 50/50 or worse that an “alert” is authentic, which is an unjust situation.

All in all, dog sniffs are rigged in favor of the cops, and everyone in the business seems to like it that way. So the best way to avoid establishing probable cause, which you can consider to be automatic as soon as the K-9 shows up since you would be VERY lucky to get away clean at that point, is to avoid establishing the reasonable suspicion that would cause you to have to submit to a dog sniff.


Avoiding reasonable suspicion means you avoid being searched, which could lead to an arrest, which could lead to jail, your car and/or wallet being impounded or seized, a charge being filed against you, and potentially a conviction. A conviction, along with your punishment, means you are from then on considered a second class citizen in terms of getting a job, parenting your kids, driver’s license, voting, carrying firearms, getting insurance, getting student loans, traveling outside the country, and any number of other privileges that politicians have seen fit to strip from citizens in the name of the drug war. Avoiding reasonable suspicion will prevent this chain of events from ever being set into motion!

So our goal is really twofold: first and foremost, avoid reasonable suspicion by using psychology against the officer in a casual and friendly manner. Failing that, adopt a damage control strategy against probable cause, by knowing and non-confrontationally exercising your rights.

If you can avoid reasonable suspicion, you’ll be on your way. If you cannot avoid reasonable suspicion, but still avoid probable cause, you may be arrested, spend the night in jail instead of at your destination, have to pay to have your car impounded, and have to pay a lawyer to either convince the Prosecutor to amend the charge or file a motion to dismiss with the court — but at least you will not have a drug conviction on your record, and thus you won’t be a second class citizen. The difference between the Prosecutor willingly amending the charge and having your lawyer file a motion to dismiss is about quadruple the lawyer fees and a hit or miss outcome, depending on local precedent and whether the judge is having a bad hair day — and you are in control of this difference because it is YOU that decides how weak to make the Prosecutor’s case against yourself!

Follow the rules of engagement! Remember, when you live on the fringe, the system is rigged against you.

The rules of engagement

Your general goal is to put on your best “busy upstanding citizen” theater at the traffic stop.

If you have any contraband, make sure it is not in plain sight (the plain view rule bypasses the requirement for consent), or better, that it is in a closed/zippered backpack or purse that you do not also keep your driver’s license or proof of insurance in, or best of all locked away in a briefcase or similar item that you can carry with you in case your car is impounded. A locked carryable case is the best idea, because then an officer cannot use an odor as probable cause — he cannot search inside the trunk or any other locked receptacle based solely on his sense of smell. Don’t attempt to hide stuff in the engine bay or anywhere outside of the passenger compartment since the officer can inspect it without your consent, and it will be found anyway if the car is impounded. Don’t have any contraband, or anything related to contraband, on your person, because if the officer thinks he has established reasonable suspicion, you will then have to step out of the car and be searched. If anything is found, it then becomes more difficult to convince the court that the officer did not have reasonable suspicion. If nothing is found, this works in your favor because it looks like hassling.

Have a reasonable destination in mind (a business that you know is open, and better yet one that would be expected to have an appointment), a purpose for being there that does not contradict your appearance, and always look at your clock as soon as you are pulled over so that you know approximately how long it would take to get there! As soon as you see the flashing lights, you are to use these bullet points to begin calmly and rationally constructing the excuse you will give the officer. Don’t be nervous and fumble with things or act hurried. If you have to express some sort of emotion, express a slight level of annoyance — be thinking something like “it figures that this would happen on such a busy day”. Have your driver’s license and insurance ready to hand the officer so that you aren’t opening a glove box or purse for access (and the officer’s eyes). Don’t open the window more than is necessary to communicate with the officer. Unfortunately, probable cause can be established by the officer claiming that he smelled an odor of contraband in some jurisidictions, even though human noses have been shown in studies to be utterly unreliable as a contraband detector. (Oddly enough, it seems to help keep the officer from “smelling something funny” if you are not wearing dreadlocks, beads and patchouli oil and if you are clean shaven and well dressed. In other words, another good move would be to save your costume for your destination and dress like you would for your claimed destination.)

The Reasonable Suspicion phase

From the moment the officer pulls you over, unless he is a K-9 unit (which the officer may lie and claim that he is if it is dark outside, hoping you won’t notice – don’t believe the officer unless you can see the dog), you are now in the “reasonable suspicion” phase. At this point, the officer is hoping that a) contraband will be in plain sight, handing him probable cause without having to do any work, b) you don’t know your rights or can be coerced into consenting to a search, still making it really easy on him, or c) you say something contradictory or suspicious that allows him to establish “reasonable suspicion” so that you can be detained while the K-9 unit can be called. The officer is not allowed to detain you to wait for a K-9 unit unless reasonable suspicion is established, and if he does anyway, this will work to your benefit later.

You need to remember that proving that a detention was unreasonable means that the officer’s timeline in the arrest report, if you are arrested, must be correct and show that you were in fact detained for far longer than it should take to write a ticket for whatever he pulled you over for. The best way to ensure that the officer writes an arrest report favorable to you is to be polite and cooperative at all times, except when forced to assert your rights, and to not give him a reason to want to turn the screws on you. The officer will usually not allow you to use a camera to take pictures of the clock (I’m unsure of the legal basis for this), and even if you bring a friend, their testimony is irrelevant unless the case goes to trial, and even then the officer’s word is considered to be ultimately credible. He is in control of the timeline… another reason not to let things progress beyond reasonable suspicion. To a certain extent, the officer is in control of recording whether you consented to the search or not, but officers can be far less liberal with those facts than they can be with the timeline — there is a high probability that his lie will eventually be exposed and cost him his job if he pushes it.

Never Consent To Searches, But Don’t Resist

Don’t EVER consent to a search. This is truly an “idiot test”. You can assume that consenting to a search is equivalent to consenting to a drug conviction. The officer will usually offer you a warning for whatever he pulled you over for (example: a fix-it warning for a tail light, or a warning for speeding or rolling through a stop sign, which you may or may not have even done) in exchange for a search of your car. Simply say, “I’ll take the ticket so I can be on my way.” If the officer continues the dialogue by asking you what you have to hide, simply say, “I don’t have time, I am in a hurry so I can be at REASONABLE DESTINATION by REASONABLE TIME for BELIEVABLE REASON.” If the officer insists that the search won’t take long or that he just wants to check out a few things, say “That’s what they said the last time and they tore my car apart and damaged my possessions.” If the officer continues to pressure you, inform him at last that you are exercising a constitutional right and finally that “I don’t consent to searches”. Never appear agitated (it helps keep you calm that if you follow these rules, you will not be convicted) and never respond to verbal abuse offered by the officer, because agitation can allow the officer to establish reasonable suspicion.

The officer may ask you to step out of the car and search you. While this is not a permissible search in terms of obtaining evidence, DO NOT RESIST! If he is still in his reasonable suspicion phase, resistance will establish it and cause you to be arrested and the K-9 unit called or your car impounded for search. If you don’t resist but simply say “I don’t consent”, then if he finds anything on your person, it can’t be used as evidence. If you have screwed up and for some reason you cannot get out of the car without revealing the contraband, respond with “I’m really in a hurry, can I please be on my way?” Responding in this way does not earn you any brownie points in terms of ending the engagement, but what it tells the officer is that he will need reasonable suspicion before he can search your person.

The officer should go back to his car, run your plates, and write you a ticket at this time. If all went well, you should be on your way.

If the officer is taking an abnormally long time to write the ticket, he may be waiting for a K-9 unit to arrive. Every few minutes, ask him through your window if you are free to leave and remind him that you are in a hurry for the important engagement that you constructed above. If you are female, mentioning that you need to use the bathroom or are having your period may help. If you have been polite, respectful and calm up until this point, it is more likely that the officer may be persuaded to let you be on your way. Once you have the citation(s) in hand, you are legally free to leave even if the officer instructs you to wait. Politely tell the officer to have a nice day and drive away slowly; continuing to wait at this point for any reason can only hurt you later.

The Officer Is Never Your Friend

Remember that the officer’s job is to make an arrest and to assist in your conviction. It is NOT to be your advocate by “putting in a good word for you”, or to “help you if you help him” or “going easy on you”. Even given the knowledge that the officer is your adversary, always be polite, address him as “Officer” or “Sir”, and ensure that your only resistance to his statements or actions is in the form of calmly stated words. It helps prevent you from being detained, and helps prevent a trial or conviction in the case that you are detained and searched.

The Probable Cause Phase

Well, there’s not much to say from this point. Assume always that if the K-9 is called, the contraband will be found. If the contraband is found, you will be arrested and charged and will need to hire a lawyer. So focus on not giving the officer a reason to call the K-9. And for heaven’s sake, never surrender your constitutional right not to be searched, even if your day is going badly to that point.

Friends in your car

Tell them to shut their fat mouths and let you handle everything. If they won’t cooperate with this request, you shouldn’t be giving them a ride. Friends with big mouths, as in the “Busted” video given out by Flex Your Rights, are not friends at all when it comes to a traffic stop.

Protect your SSN, protect your identity

Friday, February 2nd, 2007

Since the Social Security system was established, the SSN (Social Security Number, or just “social” to many clerks and telephone operators) has slowly crept its way into becoming the de facto national ID number in the US. For better or for worse, this means that when the Social Security system is abolished due to insolvency, the SSN system will then be coded into law as the national ID number system.

Since the SSN is unique, it is used as a database key whenever information about an individual needs to be aggregated. Since the SSN is obscure, supposedly known only to the individual, the government, and businesses the individual has done business with, it is also used as a password or as a secondary form of identification.

Unfortunately, as it turns out, businesses are the weak link in this system. State and local governments who have a SSN on file will routinely hand it out to anyone who appears to be a reputable business. Businesses will sell your personal information, including SSN, to anyone who is willing to pay enough, even if you have signed a contract to the contrary. You can sue, but then what? How can you prove damages? How do you prevent further downstream dissemination? Once your SSN is copied beyond your sphere of trust, you can very well assume that it is in the wrong hands, and obtaining a new SSN involves convincing the SSA that you have suffered enough stalking and/or identity theft to justify a new SSN, convincing the three credit bureaus to give you a clean slate, and convincing those that the thief has defrauded that you are in fact not the thief. The SSN and your usual personal information (name, address, phone number) is all that is necessary for an unscrupulous individual to order a credit report from the credit bureaus, and using the information there as a kit he can impersonate and defraud you.

When you are dealing with a government that is not the federal government (the federal government is required by law to obtain your SSN for any transaction), or any business or individual, and they ask for your SSN, you should counter by asking them why they need to know your SSN. This is not suspicious behavior, but it is annoying to many clerks. Ignore their annoyance; you have a right to know why they need your SSN. For example, it is likely that the request is legitimate if the request is pursuant to some federal regulation or subsidy such as federal housing, because the federal government uses your SSN as its internal ID number. If they continue to balk, tell them that your identity has been stolen in the past and you would like to know if there is any way you can avoid giving them your SSN.

Unfortunately, thanks to the PATRIOT Act’s assaults on liberty and privacy, opening a bank account requires you to disclose your SSN along with your date of birth and address of residence, even though non-US citizens can use a passport to establish their identity.

Your state driver’s license bureau may want to put your SSN on your driver’s license. Find out if the SSN is required by law, and if not, don’t give it to them; ask them to generate a driver’s license ID number for you. Sometimes you are in a catch-22 situation here; you are moving to another state, and some utility or rental company in the destination state gives you a choice between SSN or state driver’s license; unfortunately, there is no way for you to obtain a driver’s license in that state until you can supply proof of residence at the supplied address in that state. Ask if they will accept a passport instead.

Your SSN is the key to the credit bureau databases, so it will be required whenever someone needs to do a credit or background check on your behalf.

Your SSN is also used as a key for insurers to perform legal and prior insurer background checks on you.

Using a state driver’s license number or a passport number is advantageous because both of those documents contain other information that cannot be as easily replicated.

When NOT to give out your SSN simply because it is requested:

  • When establishing a new periodically billed account with a business. They will claim that they need to run a credit check. Instead, offer to pay a deposit.
  • When the business needs to be assured that you are who you say you are. Offer to use a state driver’s license instead, or to fax several forms of photo ID including a passport.
  • When the business needs a unique identification number (i.e. for their database). Offer to use a state driver’s license or passport number instead.

If the business insists on obtaining your SSN without a federal regulatory excuse, it is your choice to do business with them or to take your business elsewhere. Unfortunately, certain monopolies such as utilities and cable/telephone companies do not respond to market pressure. And if you are applying for credit, you have to remember that the onus is on you to provide the creditor with a reason why they should lend to you. Remember that it reasonable to ask whether your personal information will ever be transferred to a third party. You can’t record this conversation legally unless the company agrees (which they won’t), so the best thing you can do is get a written assurance that your personal information, including your SSN, will be kept confidential. The company will still share it without your permission when it finds a business case to do so, leading to your SSN being disseminated, but at least this way you can pursue action against the company in small claims, and encourage others to do the same — since it is likely that if your information was shared, then others’ information has also been.

It seems obvious by now that the best way to protect your SSN and still be able to do business in the US is to avoid requiring credit whenever possible.

Unfortunately, using a debit card without being physically present (such as online) is a bad idea. Debit card fraud cannot be reversed. But if you want to obtain a credit card to use for online purchases only, even a “secured” credit card where you pay a deposit up front is still considered credit and will require a credit check. There does not seem to be any way to safely purchase goods online without divulging your SSN to somebody along the line.

  • Maintain a positive cash flow from employment and investment so that a credit check is never required.
  • Use a debit or ATM card instead of credit cards.
  • Write “Check ID” on the back of the debit card. If your bank allows you to, disable using the debit card as an ATM card or getting cash back.
  • Carry the ATM card with you when you need access to more cash than you can safely carry with you. Carry the debit card only when traveling out of your bank’s ATM service area.
  • Even if you don’t drive, obtain a state driver’s license that does not use your SSN as the driver’s license number. To obtain this, you will need an existing passport or birth certificate as well as some proof of residence at the given address, the level of which varies state by state.
  • Use your birth certificate — which should always be stored in a location where the only avenues of access besides through yourself would lead to its destruction — and state driver’s license to obtain a federal passport, the strongest form of photo identification.

When your business is rejected because you refuse to disclose your SSN (whether on grounds of identity protection, philosophical or practical objections to a citizen ID number), you should write a letter to the company letting them know that their policies gave you a choice between putting your identity, finances, and credit at risk by doing business with them, or to do business with a competitor who is respectful of your privacy instead, and that you chose the latter.