Performance tuning, it’s easy, really

May 2, 2008 at 7:34 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

This comes from

Former Chief Architect Blaine Cook famously said scaling Rails was “easy” in April 2007.

As, Twitter now rumored to move to a PHP or a Java based framework from Rails. More here.

Cheers,
Laks

“The fish trap exists because of the fish.  Once you’ve gotten the fish you can forget the trap.  The rabbit snare exists because of the rabbit.  Once you’ve gotten the rabbit, you can forget the snare.  Words exist because of meaning.  Once you’ve gotten the meaning, you can forget the words.  Where can I find a man who has forgotten words so I can talk with him?” ~Chuang Tzu

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Cocaine Inc. 2.0

May 2, 2008 at 7:25 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The scene seems right out of a Bond movie, only now that Mr.Q is with the bad guys. With semi-submersibles, mini-subs, 1000 encrypted messages/day that escape even the hi-fi US spy planes, welcome to the world of Cocaine 2.0.

The story begins like this

On a rainy night eight years ago in the Colombian city of Cali, crack counter-narcotics troops swarmed over the first floor of a low-rise condominium complex in an upscale neighborhood. They found no drugs or guns. But what they did find sent shudders through law enforcement and intelligence circles around the world.

The building was owned by a front man for Cali cocaine cartel leader José Santacruz Londono. Inside was a computer center, manned in shifts around the clock by four to six technicians. The central feature of the facility was a $1.5 million IBM AS400 mainframe, the kind once used by banks, networked with half a dozen terminals and monitors. The next day, Colombia’s attorney general secretly granted permission for U.S. agents to fly the mainframe immediately back to the United States, where it was subjected to an exhaustive analysis by experts from the Drug Enforcement Administration and various intelligence agencies. The so-called Santacruz computer was never returned to Colombian authorities, and the DEA’s report about it is highly classified. But Business 2.0 has ferreted out many of its details. They make it clear why the U.S. government wants the Santacruz case kept quiet.

According to former and current DEA, military, and State Department officials, the cartel had assembled a database that contained both the office and residential telephone numbers of U.S. diplomats and agents based in Colombia, along with the entire call log for the phone company in Cali, which was leaked by employees of the utility. The mainframe was loaded with custom-written data-mining software. It cross-referenced the Cali phone exchange’s traffic with the phone numbers of American personnel and Colombian intelligence and law enforcement officials. The computer was essentially conducting a perpetual internal mole-hunt of the cartel’s organizational chart. “They could correlate phone numbers, personalities, locations — any way you want to cut it,” says the former director of a law enforcement agency. “Santacruz could see if any of his lieutenants were spilling the beans.”

They were. A top Colombian narcotics security adviser says the system fingered at least a dozen informants — and that they were swiftly assassinated by the cartel. A high-level DEA official would go only this far: “It is very reasonable to assume that people were killed as a result of this capability. Potential sources of information were compromised by the system.” (more…)

And check this method out for some $$ laundering:

Archangel Henao is the man whom authorities credit with much of the drug runners’ recent technological progress. According to Colombian and U.S. narcotics officials, Henao heads the North Valley Cartel, the largest and most feared criminal organization to emerge from the chaos that gripped Colombia’s underworld after the old Medellín and Cali cartels were broken up in the 1990s by the country’s military — with extensive U.S. help. Officials say that Henao, a heavyset 47-year-old born with a withered left arm, controls Buenaventura, the principal port on a stretch of the Pacific coast that is the launching point for most of the cocaine and heroin smuggled into North America from Colombia. His North Valley Cartel foot soldiers are known for dismembering the bodies of their enemies with chain saws and dumping them into the Cauca River. The U.S. Treasury Department has banned Henao from doing business with U.S. companies because he is a “drug kingpin,” and the DEA publicly calls him one of Colombia’s biggest traffickers. He has never been convicted of a drug-related offense, although a DEA official says the agency is “trying to build an indictment” against him.

Henao’s cartel is a champion of decentralization, outsourcing, and pooled risk, along with technological innovations to enhance the secrecy of it all. For instance, to scrub his profits, he and fellow money launderers use a private, password-protected website that daily updates an inventory of U.S. currency available from cartel distributors across North America, says a veteran Treasury Department investigator. Kind of like a business-to-business exchange, the site allows black-market money brokers to bid on the dirty dollars, which cartel financial chiefs want to convert to Colombian pesos to use for their operations at home. “A trafficker can bid on different rates — ‘I’ll sell $1 million in cash in Miami,'” says the agent. “And he’ll take the equivalent of $800,000 in pesos for it in Colombia.” The investigator estimates the online bazaar’s annual turnover at as much as $3 billion.

And this for technological infrastructure

The network’s command center was hidden in a Bogotá warehouse outfitted with a retractable German-made Rhode & Schwarz transmission antenna about 40 feet high, and 15 to 20 computers networked with servers and a small mainframe. The same kind of state-of-the-art setup existed in communications centers at Urrego’s ranch in Medellín, at an island resort he owned, and at a hideout in Cali. Seized invoices and letters show that Urrego or his associates had recently bought roughly $100,000 worth of Motorola (MOT) gear: 12 base stations, 16 mobile stations installed in trucks and cars, 50 radio phones, and eight repeaters, which boost radio signals over long distances.

The range of Urrego’s network extended across the Caribbean and the upper half of South America. He and his operatives used it to send text messages to laptops in dozens of planes and boats to inform their pilots when it was safe to go, and to receive confirmations of when loads were dropped and retrieved. According to one intelligence official who analyzed Urrego’s network, it was transmitting 1,000 messages a day — and not one of them was intercepted, even by U.S. spy planes.

And, all of this was in 2002. One can only imagine, how much more these guys have perfected the use of internet and communications technology. I am sure that there is no place that says jobs.cocaine2.0.com, but if there was, mmmm… would you be interested in being involved?

Cheers,
Laks

“Oh, Heaven, it is mysterious, it is awful to consider that we not only carry a future Ghost within us; but are, in very deed, Ghosts!”  ~Thomas Carlyle

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