Beware: Major PGP WDE issue on Sandy Bridge architecture. Show Stopper.

I’ve written on here before about major bugs in the PGP platform for whole disk encryption.  Fairly recently it was discovered that there exists a bug with the latest version of PGP Desktop (specifically, whole disk encryption), with machines that are running the new Intel Sandy Bridge architecture with certain hard drives.  On the new 2011 Macbook Pro’s this manifests itself after the drive is instrumented and encryption started.  If you happen to reboot the machine (even after a full encrypt) you can get past the boot guard, only to be faced with a hung system at the Apple logo.  Decrypting the drive (using target disk mode) does not resolve the issue, and running fsck shows the catalog file to be corrupted and unrecoverable.

Initially we thought this issue to be specific to the Mac platform, however further testing has shown this to be a problem with ANY platform running Sandy Bridge.  Specifically, I’ve seen this issue on Macbook Pro 8,2 models with the 750GB hard drives as well as with SSD’s as well as with new Dell laptops running Sandy Bridge and equipped with SSD’s.

For the Mac side of the house, a solid week of testing has allowed me to find two workarounds.  It would appear that forcing the OS to boot into 32 bit mode (perpetually), then installing PGP and encrypting, resolves the issue.  Unfortunately you also lose the benefit of running in native 64 bit mode.  This is less than ideal.   For Mac’s that are running with the Apple provided SSD’s you can also resolve this by placing a jumper on the left two jumper pins on the right side of the rear of the drive (there are four pins, they should be obvious), then doing a fresh install of the OS.  At the moment I do not know specifically what that jumper configuration does (I can’t get a straight answer out of Toshiba), but I do know that it fixes the issue and allows for encryption to work.  I’ve been running this configuration in my Sandy Bridge MBP 15″ for a few days now, fully encrypted, without any issues.

To date I do not have a workaround for the Dells. This is a major issue and Symantec has not made a widespread announcement on their encryption blog warning consumers.  I have been in contact with Symantec regarding this issue (including working with one of their developers to perform testing and help narrow down where the problem exists), but as of yet have not heard a definitive answer as to what the cause is.

I will post updated information as it becomes available.



PETA: We’re Batshit Crazy for Bats (and other animals)!

There are few groups who I would genuinely apply the colorful term “Batshit Crazy” to.  This is a sacred term for me,  one reserved for groups (and individuals) who are so far out in left field that it just amazes me.   One such group,  The Church of Scientology,  is Batshit Crazy because of their wacked out belief that Sci-Fi writer of questionable talent L. Ron Hubbard is a prophet who opened their eyes to how things really are.   I’m sorry Scientologists – he was just a mediocre writer who came up with a great scam… that you all have blindly fallen for.

But I don’t want to talk about Scientology today.  Instead I’d like to talk about another group of batshit crazy people,  PETA. 

PETA, or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals,  are a group of psychotics who for whatever reason believe that animals are sacred and should be treated with respect normally reserved for the divine.

They’re also a endless source of amusement (depending on your point of view, I suppose), as they propose some truly batshit insane ideas.

Two of my favorites:

PETA wants higher insurance premiums for meat eaters.   They are arguing that since meat eaters are susceptible to sickness from E. coli, since some meat can (sometimes) become contaminated with it, they should have higher insurance premiums than vegetarians.   They also argue that vegetarians should have their premiums reduced.    

So, why is this batshit crazy?    Well, let’s start by examining their argument:   Meat is bad, it causes obesity, heart problems, and can make you sick because of E. Coli.      Vegetables, and vegetarianism is safer and healthier and few vegetarians are obese.  

Well,   what she’s NOT saying is that vegetarians, unless they supplement their diet with Iron and other nutrients that they’re missing out on from not eating meat,    will likely become anemic (Iron-Deficiency Anemia).  Going further, some breast-fed infants of women who are strict vegetarians show signs of a vitamin B12 deficiency, leading to Macrocytic anemia.   Some studies have also shown that excessive leanness and slow growth have been observed in vegan and vegetarian infants and young children.

That said – yes, there are ways to remain vegetarian and eat a healthy diet – just like it’s possible to NOT be vegetarian and likewise maintain a healthy diet. 

The other part of their argument is that E. Coli is a danger that should make meat eaters have a higher premium.  I guess they’re completely ignoring the recalls of all sorts of vegetables in the not so recent past…. (here are three:Link, Link, and Link) Gotta love double standards.    The fact is:  no matter what you eat, there’s a chance it COULD make you sick.   Deal with it and move on.

The second thing that they proposed, which I deem to be equally Batshit Crazy,  is request that Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream  stop using cow milk and start using human breast milk in their ice cream products.

They make the claim that it’ll be healthier for everybody,   especially for the cows.   While I can’t seem to find any statistics one way or another that suggests human breast milk is better for you than milk from a cow, I also can’t find anything that says it’s bad for you.  It DOES, however, have a pretty nasty stigma associated with it, is unlikely to even be possible to sustain a great enough supply, and there are significantly better alternatives they could have suggested (like, I don’t know, SOY milk?).

I love the part of the article that quotes PETA’s Tracy Reiman:   

“The fact that human adults consume huge quantities of dairy products made from milk that was meant for a baby cow just doesn’t make sense,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “Everyone knows that ‘the breast is best,’ so Ben & Jerry’s could do consumers and cows a big favor by making the switch to breast milk.”

 So, their proposed alternative – to save the cow milk for the baby cows – is to use human milk instead, depriving many a infant of their mother’s breast milk so that adults, who don’t need it, can have it instead.

Good to know PETA has its priorities straight….  

So, PETA,  you’re officially on my list of “Batshit Crazy” groups.  Congratulations.   

Upgrade complete… sort of.

Well, I bit the bullet and decided to upgrade the blogging software behind Missing Link – I had been using a rather decrepit version of WordPress,   and because of that was not able to take advantage of some of the things I wish I could (such as blogging from the WordPress app on my iPhone).

I found a version of the theme I had been using (Hemmingway) that supported WordPress 2.5, and thought I’d give it a go with WordPress 2.6 – and it works just fine (so far).

Unfortunately, the upgrade from 2.2 to 2.6 broke quite a few things in my wordpress database,  most notably it erased my link categories and my post categories,  at least, it got rid of the text for them – the categories are all still THERE, but display no text.  Awesome.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be going back through my posts and re-categorizing them.  That’s not such a bad thing though, as it means the categories should (theoretically) be accurately categorized, and it allows me to also go through and tag posts too which is something I previously couldn’t do.

The good news is that the look and feel of the site won’t really change much, the exception being the addition of navigation to the front page – you can now navigate to older posts without having to search for them.  That *IS* awesome, and a much liked new feature.

Things will get cleaned up over the next couple of days/weeks as I have time,  in the meantime – enjoy!