Encryption and the Fourth Amendment

Apple should be willing to help the US government access information on the iPhones of terrorists and other criminals. I do not think that anyone living under a democratic government has an absolute right to inviolable privacy. If someone’s home is subject to a search warrant issued by a proper judicial process, his other possessions should also be subject to search when properly approved. Apple refuses toallow any search and seizure, even when there is probable cause as determined by a court of law. While the Fourth Amendment is explicitly a protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, the implication is that the government should be allowed to carry out searches and seizures when there is probable cause.

I think that some of the technical objections to requiring breakable encryption on private phones could be overcome by requiring that decrypting the information could be done only by physically connecting to the phone. This could mean that some sophisticated decryption device would have to be connected to an iPhone through a lightning cable, for example. There might be some difficulty enforcing this physical requirement, but smart people should be able to do it. It would mean that your phone could not be hacked from China or Russia, or even by American law enforcement while you are walking down the street with it. Presumably experts could set up the connection protocol so that the phone would sense whether the decryption device was directly connected to the phone, and not connected through the Internet or iTunes.

As things currently stand, I think that Apple should help the FBI access the data on the terrorists’ iPhone. Software updates could come later, as well as hardware updates on new versions of smart phones.

My view includes the requirement that encryption software such as texting apps also should be breakable in some way. Other countries and the military will be able to create unbreakable communication software, but we could make it illegal to use in the US. This is not unlike a restriction on assault weapons. I don’t think that everyone needs to have an AR-15, although that is not currently the law in the US. Even though arms dealers can physically sell AR-15s to anyone, I think there should be restrictions on their right to do so. Similarly, the military and diplomatic services should have encryption that is unbreakable, but private individuals do not need it. The ability to do search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution is more important than individual privacy. National security justifies the use of unbreakable encryption; personal privacy does not.


Annoying Windows 10

The Windows 10 calendar reminder window has become very annoying.  At some point it downloaded the birthdays of everybody I knew on Facebook.  Now Facebook has apparently disconnected Windows/Microsoft from Facebook, so that the birthdays are now stored in some mystery calendar file.  But Windows 10 desktop keeps reminding me of them, every five minutes, and telling the reminder to dismiss does not help.  It just comes back over and over and over again.  And you can’t delete the calendar entry, because it’s not in a normal calendar.  The engineers at Microsoft are surprisingly stupid, despite doing a much better job in general on Windows 10 than on any previous version.

Quicken 2016 Reconcile Not Working

Quicken 2016 running under Windows 10 does not reconcile accounts correctly.  When you try to check or uncheck a transaction in the list displayed by Quicken, the balance does not update.  Sometimes if you exit reconcile and enter again, it will update.  Sometimes clicking “Mark All” will help.  But it doesn’t work correctly.  The Quicken community says this is a known issue, but has not been fixed, yet.

HomeGroup Works After All

Microsoft HomeGroup does work after all.  After days of trying off and on to get HomeGroup to work with my home network computers, I discovered that the problem was my router.  It was not the computers or the software.  My CenturyLink ZyTEL PK5001Z DSL modem and router was not configured for the IPv6 Internet protocol.  Apparently HomeGroup requires that its network use IPv6, rather than the old IPv4 protocol.

Instructions on how to enable IPv6 on the CenturyLink PK5001Z modem can be found here. http://internethelp.centurylink.com/internethelp/modem-pk5001z-ipv6rd.html

After I enabled the IPv6 protocol on the router, rebooted the computers and waited for a while, the option to create a HomeGroup suddenly appeared on a laptop computer.  The option to create a HomeGroup had not appeared since the major Windows 10 update.  The only option had been to join an existing HomeGroup, and after a long pause, Windows would say that the HomeGroup it was trying to join no longer existed, but it still would not display the option to create a new HomeGroup.

The tricky part of this for me was that the computers all showed that they were configured to use IPv6.  Trying to fix HomeGroup, I would often get error messages saying a protocol was missing, but there was no information about what it was or how to install it.  There are apparently others with similar HomeGroup problems, and I found solutions posted on the Internet, but none worked for me.  I wonder what I have done to normal networking functions by trying some of the suggested solutions, deleing files and changing registry entries, but so far HomeGroup and the other network functions seem to be working correctly after fixing  the router.

Microsoft HomeGroup Does Not Work

After installing a major Windows 10 update a few days ago, Microsoft HomeGroup, which had been working, ceased to work.  It says there is a HomeGroup invitation, but there is none, or it is from a computer that is no longer on the network.  After trying to join for many wasted minutes, it says there is no HomeGroup to join, and says to go to HomeGroup and create a new HomeGroup, but there is no option to create a new HomeGroup, only to join an existing HomeGroup, which Microsoft says does not exist.  Catch-22.

When you run the HomeGroup troubleshooter, it says there is a network protocol missing, but without HomeGroup, networking works perfectly, with file exchanges among all the computers on the network.  So the network seems fine.  HomeGroup is messed up.

The Microsoft website is useless.  It simply says create a new HomeGroup, but that is impossible because there is no option to do so.

There is no option to leave a HomeGroup, since Windows thinks the PC does not yet belong to a HomeGroup.  Again Catch-22.

Other people have this issue.  See


His solution was to start without a computer that tries to join a “ghost” HomeGroup.  I don’t have a computer that doesn’t think there is a “ghost” HomeGroup, so none of them is able to create a new HomeGroup.

As I recall, before the last update to Win 10, HomeGroup would tell you who invited you to join a HomeGroup and tell youthat you can ask them for their password.  In this case, it does not say who created the HomeGroup, so that there is no one to ask for the password.

By turning off the internet connection, I got Windows to allow me to try to create a new HomeGroup, but when I try, Windows says, “Windows can’t set up a homegroup on this computer.”

Happy that Intuit and Netflix Are Down

I am happy that Intuit and Netflix stocks are down. this morning.  I am still mad at Intuit for deceptive practices in marketing TurboTax last year.  I bought what I thought was the same version of TurboTax that I had bought for years to do my income tax, but when I tried to use it, I found that it would not work.  I had to upgrade it.  I was supposed to get a $25 refund after I filed my taxes, but I never got it.  I am somewhat over a barrel, because I like the fact that TurboTax carries forward data from previous years.  If it weren’t for that feature, I would switch for sure.  I’ll see this coming year what other options there are.

I am not a Netflix fan because it doesn’t offer any good movies on the Internet.   We signed up with Netflix to get “House of Cards,” which was good.  Since we had Netflix after we watched “House of Cards,” we occasionally thought we would watch a movie.  We could never find anything interesting that we had not seen.  I am a Cary Grant fan, and there were usually only one or two of his movies, and they were not he best.  I never saw “North by Northwest” or “Bringing Up Baby” listed.  By contract, Apple has almost any movie you want, but you have to pay for it.  For us, it is probably better to pay Apple by the movie than to pay Netflix a monthly fee that provides no decent movies.

1and1 Web Site Hosting versus GoDaddy Hosting

To experiment with  my web site skills, I set up two small web sites, one in 1and1 and the other in GoDaddy, using their discount offers.  1and1 was much better and offered more services than GoDaddy did.  Both offered in-house web building programs, but 1and1 also offered an FTP option for designing pages yourself.  GoDaddy did not, unless you upgraded to a much more expensive package.  Both tried to make it difficult to use the basic system that you got for paying about $1.00 for the web site address, and then $12.00  for one year of hosting .  GoDaddy was more aggressive and deceptive in trying ot make you upgrade to a more expensive package.  1and1 offered the possibility to have several email addresses, while GoDaddy limited you to one address managed by Microsoft Office 365.  For managing the site, 1and1 only offered their own control panel, while GoDaddy offered the standard cPanel option, but only with a much more expensive package.

I would definitely recommend 1and1 over GoDaddy, but there are probably some smaller hosting companies out there that offer better deals.

The web sites I set up were A News Hog (with 1and1) and Dixie Gone with the Wind (with GoDaddy).  I connected free WordPress blogs to both of them, and have been very happy with WordPress, as you can see from this blog.  Perhaps I should try setting up a web site from scratch with WordPress.  1and1 offers the option of using WordPress templates to create a web site that is hosted through 1and1.

My Vietnam War – Part 6

From Firebase Barbara we went back near Dong Ha, to Charlie-1, one of the bases along the DMZ. It was in theory the safest of these bases because it was the southern-most and eastern-most of this line. Those closest to the DMZ were labeled A, as in A-1, A-2, etc. The next line were B bases, and the third and last line were the C bases. The numbering started from the east, near the coast with 1, and went up as you went west. Presumably Khe Sanh would have been the western anchor of this line of bases.

At Charlie-1 we did more shooting during the daytime. Often an Air Force forward air controller would fly up and down the DMZ in a small plane like a Cessna. If he found something big, he would call in an air strike, but if he found something small he would call us. Often he would call a fire mission on “footprints in the sand.” We would start shooting where he said the footprints disappeared, and usually someone would emerge running back toward North Vietnam because they knew that we were forbidden to shoot into North Vietnam. We would try to get him before he could get back to the river dividing the north from the south.

At least once, maybe more times, the Air Force would fly what we called an Arc Light mission. A fleet of B-52s would fly over the DMZ and carpet bomb it. The rumble and shaking was like an earthquake. We could see many vapor trails in the sky, but I don’t remember their being challenged by the North Vietnamese.

As I neared the end of my two year hitch, the Army offered a deal to let people out a few weeks early to go to school. I needed to leave a few weeks early to make it to the first day of law school. I wrote to both the University of Georgia, where I had finished my first year, and the University of Alabama, where I was a state resident. For some reason, Alabama replied quickly and said that they would accept me. I used the Alabama paperwork to get my early release approved. Just before I left Vietnam, Georgia finally replied that I could return, but by then the paperwork for Alabama was done.

When I had first arrived in Vietnam, the officer in charge of the fire direction center had persuaded me to sign for all of the equipment in the section. His argument was that if anything went missing, he as an officer would be personally responsible, while I as an enlisted man would not be.  The equipment included our generators, computers, radios, an M-60 machine gun, but also an M-577 mobile command post (an armored personnel carrier with a high roof) and a trailer to carry the generators. On an artillery raid, the trailer axle broke, and I gave it to the motor pool sergeant to repair. He either buried it or sold it on the black market. After I had been in law school in Tuscaloosa for a few months, I got a “report of survey” from the Army billing me about $1,000 for the missing trailer. I went to see an Army lawyer at nearby Ft. McClellan. He gave me some forms to fill out, and I never had to pay, but the Army had followed me to law school.


My Vietnam War – Part 5

From LZ Sharon, we moved to Firebase Barbara on a mountaintop west of Quang Tri, close enough to Laos that we could shell the Ho Chi Minh trail that ran along the border. At Barbara we had two eight-inch howitzers and two 175-mm guns. The eight-inchers could fire about ten miles, and the 175s about twenty miles, but less accurately. They gave us pretty long coverage up and down the Ho Chi Minh trail. We also did more close support of American troops than we had done since we had parted from the 101st division. I never knew who we were shooting for, but they sounded like Special Forces, if only because they were so calm in combat. We would be adjusting fire for them, walking the rounds in closer, and tbarbara-hqhey would very calmly say something like, “They are in the wire, too close for you to shoot at now; you’ll have to wait awhile.” I only learned from a Time magazine subscription I had that an American Special Forces base at Mai Loc had been overrun. I recognized the name because it was marked on our charts as a no-fire zone. I wondered why we had not been asked to shoot support for them, but I realized that they were east of us and our battery was designed to shoot west, terraced down the western side of the mountain. If we had tried to shoot east, we would probably have blown off the top of the mountain. Somebody on the internet says that former Secretary of Veterans Affairs General. Eric Shinseki (then Captain Shinseki) was sent to relieve Mai Loc, but obviously didn’t make it in time.

One night we received a warning from our battalion headquarters back in Dong Ha that intelligence (probably infra-red sensors) showed a large group of enemy soldiers assembling at the bottom of our mountain. At Barbara, we had swapped our old anti-aircraft quad-50 machine gun at Sharon for a pair of “dusters,” old anti-aircraft tracked vehicles that fired twin forty-mm cannons, again a steady stream of tracers. Because these anti-aircraft artillery units were almost always stationed in the “boonies” in somewhat danbarbara-viewgerous locations, they had a reputation as “space cadets,” who didn’t pay much attention to doing stuff by the book. They were our main defense, although in theory we also had Vietnamese infantry to defend us. After the attack warning, our battalion supply officer in Dong Ha came on the radio to tell us not to give any gasoline to the dusters. We had gasoline to run our fire direction center generators. He said it was too difficult to resupply us, and the dusters were notorious for not maintaining their supplies. However, we decided that if the dusters were our main line of defense, we were going to give them all the gas they needed. The dusters blew away a grid square (a square kilometer) or more where the intelligence said the enemy was forming, and no attack occurred. We never knew whether we had averted an attack or the intelligence had just picked up a herd of deer grazing at the bottom of the mountain. I think Barbara is the only place I remember seeing an air strike by Phantom jets. They bombed one of the mountains nearby, but we never knew why.

On April 29, 1970, while we were firing at something on the Ho Chi Minh trail, the breech blew out of one of the 175-mm guns, killing two of the crew and wounding several others. The names of those who died, Paul Kosanke and Willie Austin, are listed on the wall of the Vietnam memorial.

A more pleasant memory was when a helicopter flew out a huge bladder of water, which it tried to drop on the mess hall, a bunker. He dropped it from too high up. It bounced off the roof of the mess hall and rolled down the mountain. Later, a flatbed truck made it all the way to the base along the dangerous, often-mined road back to the coast, carrying a new “tube” (barrel) for one of the 175-mm guns. He was almost at the top of the steep, winding road up the mountain, when the tube began to slip off the back of the truck, and it too rolled down the mountain. Since it weighed several tons, it’s probably still there.  Barbara is also the only place where I ate C-rations on a regular basis.  Although in theory we had a mess hall, it did not get used much.