Car Hacking. Are You Safe?

Imagine you get into your vehicle after a long day at work. Suddenly the doors lock the radio starts blasting heavy metal. You try and start the vehicle and nothing happens. Your vehicle has been hacked! Today new vehicles are so jam packed with technology that this scenario is far from fiction. Dozens of independent operating computers are all connected through an in-car communications network, aka CAN bus. There are a number of ways that computer hackers can attack your vehicle. So who is winning the battle for your vehicle, the car hackers or the car manufacturers?

Here are entry points a hacker can use to take control of your vehicle:

cutting edge parking garage1. Telematics System: Most of you have probably heard of Onstar or anything similar offered by GM’s competitors. This system can notify police in the event of an accident, disable a stolen vehicle, and offer diagnostic info to drivers. So by hacking into this system a person could control a system such as the ignition of a vehicle.

2. MP3 Malware: Code that can be attached to an MP3 file that makes its way into your vehicles computer network and is capable of things such as disabling your brakes!

3. OBD-II Hacking: The OBD-II port is where the mechanic plugs in the scanning tool to diagnose a check engine light code on your vehicle. After a program is downloaded through the car’s OBD-II port it could essentially it could control everything from the windshield wipers to the brakes of the vehicle.

4. Door Locks: In most modern cars automatic locking mechanisms engage when the vehicle is put into drive and disengage if the vehicle’s air bags deploy. Theoretically this means that other systems can be breached through this system. A skilled hacker could force your car to accelerate after gaining access via the vehicle’s automatic door locking system.

5. Key Fob: For those who don’t know the key fob can be used to lock and unlock as well as start a vehicle. Hackers can extend the range of this fob up to 30 feet. This tricks the car into thinking the key is inside your vehicle when it is not, allowing someone to slip into your new ride and start it while you walk away.

Car Hacker

So should we all start worrying about computer hackers messing with our vehicles? The answer is no, unless you are someone largely in the public eye that would have an increased chance of being targeted. Only vehicles with these technologies are even at risk, which would include models made during or after the year 2013. The truth is that hacking a car takes a lot of time, effort, and resources… not to mention car manufacturers are hard at work to prevent these types of breaches into a vehicle’s communications network. Even though highly unlikely it is eye opening that these possibilities even exist.

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What Your Hangover Cure Says About You

You spent all night downing booze and creating killer memories that you don’t actually remember.  Whether you were “Gettin’ Jiggy With It” or “Droppin’ it like it was hot” , it’s safe to say you were quite inebriated and it was simply swell.  What’s not so swell- it’s Saturday morning and your head is killing you.  Chances are if you’re reading this right now the words on the screen might make you a little woozy… so I’ll get right down to the guts of it (whoops, sorry, bad word choice).

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Two Ibuprofen and a Gatorade

Maybe last night you were the cool kid offering shots of Jack Daniels to all your homies… but today you’re definitely drinking the Hatorade.  You should be given props for simply getting up today.  Caution to the people who walk past you, no matter their expression – a look of concern or a smug grin – you might just punch them in the face.  Calm down jock strap, maybe later you’ll have time to take a nap, but for now head down and nose to the grind stone.

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A helpful alternative? Try drinking coconut water instead.  It’s packed with electrolytes those sweet, sweet little saviors.  Coconut water has the potassium of four bananas, is cholesterol free, and extremely hydrating.

Do you often take runs after binge drinking escapades?

You’re an overachiever. From us to you: Stop. You’re making us look bad.  Just go back to bed and writhe in pain like the rest of us mere mortals.  Beware when using this method! If you’re not properly hydrating you could actually be hurting more than helping.

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Instead, bring your water bottle on a light jog. No one’s racing you; what are you trying to prove?

The Ritual

You have your hangover cure set in stone.  Maybe it’s a six-inch Veggie sub and a TCBY frozen yogurt.  Maybe it’s a cup of tea, a cheesy beef burrito and a Pain Aid.  Whatever that weirdly magical combination is, you’ll be good as new.  You swear by it.  You need it.  If you don’t have it, game over.  Well done, grasshopper, to thine self be true.

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Hair of the Dog that Bit You

Sure you might be giving your body more toxins to deal with-delaying a worse hangover in the future… but like the procrastination star you are, just hold that off as long as possible.  In fact you may as well just drink all day too.  Let that lukewarm Bud Light wrap it’s reassuring arms around you and get cozy in front of the TV – you’re not going anywhere.

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That Greasy Fix

If only you’d eaten them before you downed all those gin and tonics… There isn’t any actual evidence that proves bacon and eggs for breakfast or a large order of fries can help cure your hangover.  But hey man, whatever helps you sleep at night.

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Big Gulps

There are those whose “stand by” is a cold Coca-Cola, those who prefer coffee and better yet those who down a Red Bull.  These are the quenchers seeking immediate gratification when they wake up after their long night on the town.  To these folks I say, “good luck”.  Like a sugar rush, this form of hangover cure is doubtful to last very long and will leave your body extremely dehydrated.

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Might I suggest copious, extraordinary amounts of water or perhaps a glass of flat Ginger Ale to soothe your stomach instead.

Like it was a bad dream: 

Sleep it off.  Sleep is the most effective and only proven cure of a hangover.  If you’re lucky enough to catch a couple extra z’s today, do so.

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Hint: Morgan Freeman’s voice will forever be a good idea to help soothe you to sleep.  Pop Shawshank in the DVD player and let his voice do it’s magic.

 

Moderation… 

Last night you thought to yourself, “I’ll let my future self deal with it.” Today, future self thinks you’re an asshole.  So I should probably throw this one in there just to be safe… maybe… just possibly… you could drink more responsibly next time? In moderation perhaps.  Drinking a glass of water between shots of tequila doesn’t make you a pussy, it makes you a smart pussy.  So plan ahead and save your future self.

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The Mystery of the UM Pumpkin Man

University of Montana Main Hall Pumpkin Man

 

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You may already know about the elusive University of Montana clock tower pumpkin that appears every year. If you’re not familiar, here’s the scoop: every year since students can remember, someone (or something) waits until Halloween comes around so they (or it) can put a pumpkin on top of The University of Montana’s Main Hall clock tower. The pumpkin is somehow pierced through the needle at the highest point of the clock tower, like an olive through a toothpick.

There have only been two public sources of someone interacting with the party responsible for this amazing feat, which I know of. Jesse Spaulding’s 2010 documentary on the subject showed him speaking with an individual that claimed to be “the pumpkin man,” but the truth is yet to be known (pictured below). The other instance was in 2004 when one of these crafty pranksters was apparently arrested.

Jesse Spaulding Pumpkin Man3 years ago, I had the privilege of meeting someone that was responsible for this tradition. It was a slightly brisk spring night on the oval when we met. Some friends and I sat on the grass after playing ultimate Frisbee with some people we just met, as easily as it is to do in Missoula. I struck up a conversation with one of the new players, Pete, and we started talking about how we got to the University of Montana. After a few minutes we then started talking about what outdoor sports Missoula was really good for. Pete (his name has been changed for the sake of this story) began to go into his passion for climbing, and had tons of intense stories from all kinds of climates. Ice climbing, bouldering, mountaineering, he was on a level that my once in a while climbing attempt at The Rec Center just couldn’t touch.

Since we were on The Oval, I randomly thought of the infamous pumpkin tradition on the Main Hall clock tower. How did someone manage to climb up there? At that point I’d been going to school for a few years to realize that the pumpkin prank was a recurring event. Unexpectedly, Pete started talking about how it could be done, and exactly how he thinks the pumpkin reached such heights. He skirted around the subject a little bit but then began explaining in detail how these pumpkin ninjas manage to climb up that high successfully every year. I think he knew that I was catching on. Nobody close by could hear our conversation, and so he asked if I wouldn’t spread around the information he revealed to me. He then explained in detail about how he was once apart of the secret rotating team of expert climbers that helped continue this mysterious tradition. 

I didn’t know any of them before someone tapped my shoulder by the Rec Center climbing wall. This guy just came up and asked if I wanted to be apart of a cool project that him and some friends were working on, and my skills were needed. The next thing I knew, I’m being told all about how this crazy Halloween tradition is done every year. And for some reason I was attracted to the idea.”

It was hard to believe what I was hearing. It sounded like something from The Skulls the way he described it. Were these people just another secret society that fit right in with all the other ones in American history? Pete then elaborated on the details of how their system worked, year after year:

“It worked like this, every year: One year someone in the group is the main climber, the one in charge of actually putting the pumpkin on top of the clock tower. Someone else belay’s the one climbing up to make sure that if they fall they’re going to be ok. The next year the previous person that was climbing rotates out and a new person is put into the rotation as the one that belays. Others in the group watch for security and make sure the perfect time is picked to avoid security. The people involved are constantly changing.”

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“My first year doing it as the climber, it was unbelievable. The most surreal memory was actually climbing up the clock face on Main hall. It felt just like that scene in Peter Pan. I had my legs on the minute hand, while trying to get a grip on the ledge above with the help of the hour hand that was then pointed straight up at 12. This just happened to be the time that we picked, its not always happening when the hour hand is at 12, or even on Halloween. “

This is most of what I can remember from my conversation with Pete, and I’m pretty astonished that he even told me this much. I really only believed him because of how much detail he was able to go into. I don’t think I’ve seen him since, but then again he’s probably passed the pumpkin torch down to another expert climber to further this unique tradition at The University of Montana.

12 Unbelievable Disney Facts

Most of us love Disney from our childhood, growing up watching the movies and experiencing the magic. It’s fun to look back at all of the old memories and think about our favorites, but what I have found most interesting growing up is all of the things we never realized as kids about our favorite movies, parks and characters. Here are some of the unbelievable Disney facts that I think actually make Disney even more epic:

1. Disney was Sued for the Defamation of Hyenas

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After the release of the movie The Lion King, portrayal of hyenas led to several researchers, whose work was with hyenas, to boycott the movie. One of these researchers actually sued Disney for the defamation of hyenas. The fear of the researchers was that in casting the hyenas in the role of evil (and stupid) minions of Scar, their efforts to preserve the lives and populations of hyenas might be compromised.

2. Hidden Courts in a Mountain

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The Matterhorn roller-coaster at Disneyland has a secret basketball court inside it for Disneyland staff to use.  It was most popular during the construction of the mountain, but is still in use today.

3. Seriously Haunted Mansion

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Each year, several families ask to scatter a loved one’s ashes into the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland. The answer is always no, but a family has been caught in the act before.

4. The King of the what?

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The original title of The Lion King was “King of the Jungle” — which was scrapped when the Disney team remembered that lions don’t live in the jungle.
5. Quiet Characters

Quiet Aurora
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Of all Disney characters, Dumbo speaks the least — having no actual lines of dialogue during the film. Coming in a close second is Aurora of Sleeping Beauty. Who had only 18 whole lines and 18 minutes of screen time during her own movie.
6. How many Fairies does it take?

Aurora Fairies

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Speaking of Sleeping Beauty, There were originally seven fairies instead of three, and at one point, the fairies were all supposed to look alike, which would have been incredibly confusing.
7. Princess and the Frog Focus Groups

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Princess and the Frog was originally supposed to be called The Frog Princess,” and Tiana was named Maddy, however, a number of changes had to be made to the film, at the request of black focus groups.
8. Redfeather the Turkey

Redfeather

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Pocahontas was originally supposed to have a talking turkey side-kick named Redfeather, played by John Candy; however they decided they no longer wished to have a speaking animal, and the character was dropped.
9. Mushu’s Real Size

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Mulan’s story was conceived by Robert D. San Souci, retold from an earlier true story, who imagined the character’s companion as a giant dragon. However, the studio was reluctant to portray what could be a very freighting sidekick, and San Souci informed them that Chinese myth allowed for smaller dragons. So they shrunk Mushu down. Mushu alludes to this in the movie, saying, “I’m travel size for your convenience! If I was my real size your cow here would die of fright.”

10. Hercules: The Gospel Truth
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Actually Hercules was based off the Greek myth of a hero charged with performing ten “labors” to atone for killing his children, after he was driven to insanity by his stepmother (who was also Zeus’ sister). All of this is obviously left out in the movie, as is Hercules’ real name. It’s “Heracles,” inspired by his stepmother-aunt mother Hera. This was later Romanized as “Hercules,” which became the more well-known version of his name. This also makes Hercules the only character in this movie to have a Roman name instead of a Greek name.
11. Pocahontas
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She was actually only eleven when the English arrived in Virginia, while John Smith was twenty-eight. Apparently she did save him from execution, but they never fell in love. Pocahontas kept in contact with the settlers and aided them in times of need, such as providing food for the winter. One summer, Pocahontas arrived at the colony asking for Smith and was told he died; however, he had just been sent back to England from a leg wound. She later met a man named John Rolfe, and they eloped to England. Pocahontas’s died as a foreign princess living among the richest and most powerful people in Europe. Sadly when she was 21 she died of disease, never having returned to America.

12. Beastly Birthday

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So, according to the movie the Beast’s rose dies on his 21st birthday; as that time is approaching Belle comes into his life and during the song, “Be Our Guest,” Lumier mentions that they have been in object form for 10 years now. That means that Adam (the beast) was turned into a beast when he was 11, and he remained that way for almost half his life.

Montana is weird. Here are 10 reasons why.

Montana is a one of a kind state. Most of Montana is accustom to “Arctic Vortexes” and extreme temperatures, it’s nothing new for Montanans.  Wildlife is abundant in Montana, with the largest migratory elk populations in the nation, its normal to see herds of the animals grazing on mountainsides. Most people have heard of the book Huckleberry Finn, but did you know that huckleberries are really edible berries and grow wild in Montana? Who know that there is such a thing as the world’s shortest river? We all know there were famous California gold rushes, but Montana also rushed out $32 million gold and silver in the 1800’s. International mountains and glaciers attract numerous visitors every year to Glacier National Park. The  majestic American Buffalo roams free in Montana as well as national preserved on the National Bison Range located on the Flathead Indian Reservation. Montana’s steamy, geothermic pools and geysers in Yellowstone National Park and attract many visitors every year. Have you ever thought about playing a game of golf with with a Frisbee and your dog? Montanans play this crazy game during the warmer months of the year. One more weird thing about Montana is possibility that the Swan Princess could have found her home in the south portion of the state. With all the weird things about Montana, this state is definitely a unique and one of a kind state.

It is Really Cold

Rogers Pass

With recent Arctic Vortexes rocking the nation, Montana is no stranger to the subzero temperatures. The lowest temperature ever recorded in Montana was a blistering -70, which occurred at Rogers Pass on January 20th, 1954.

Elk in Huge Numbers

Elk Beding Down

The largest migratory elk population within the northwest region of the country find their home within Montana. In between 15,000 to 20,000 elk migrate through Yellowstone National Park into the heart of the Northern Rocky Mountains in Montana every winter.

Wild About Berries

Huckleberries
One delicious, seasonal treat that grows wild in the Montana Rocky Mountains is the huckleberry. These delicious wild berries are cannot be farmed, due to the specific elevation needed for them to grow. Huckleberries are best harvested between the months of June and mid-September. Montana is the home of one of the only huckleberry businesses in the United States.

One Short River

Roe River

Did you know that there is such a thing as the world’s shortest river? The Roe River is only 201 feet in length and flows from Giant Springs to the Missouri River. The Roe River is located near Great Falls, Montana and has a foot bridge that stretches over it for easy viewing purposes.

 

Gold Rush Montana

Montana Mining Ghosttown
The famous ghost town of Elkhorn, Montana has a elevation that is over a mile high and started mining in 1872. Elkhorn mined $32 million in gold and silver. With the old 19th century buildings and mining town setting, this ghost town is a wonderful tourist attraction during the summer months.

 

International Glaciers

McDonald Lake, Glacier Nat. Park Info.
Glacier National Park in the northwestern part of Montana is the largest national park within the state with 1,583 square miles. The park stretches across the United States border into Canada, which makes it an international park. Glacier National Park is home to 68 different animal species and 277 documented bird species. Montana’s Glacier National Park has over a million national and international visitors every ten years and generates abundant amounts of revenue every year for the state .

Saving America’s Buffalo

Montana Bison

The American Buffalo were nearly driven to extinction in the late 1800’s. However, Montana ranchers worked together to preserve these magnificent creatures. Today, the National Bison Range on the Flathead Indian Reservation has about 350 head of bison, not counting the new babies that are born every year. Wild herds of buffalo roam the mountains near Yellowstone National Park and one of Montana’s slogans is “let the buffalo roam”. Montana has saved one of America’s most beautiful and astonishing animals from extinction and will continue to do so.

 

Steamy, Geothermic Goodness

(My Photo)Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone Info.
Montana’s other well-known and frequently visited national parks is Yellowstone. With the world’s largest array of geysers and geothermic pools, Yellowstone attracts numerous national and international tourist every year. At sunrise, the stream spools off the geothermic waters, spilling over the edges of Mammoth Hot Springs. It’s really a steamy show.

 

Crazy Games and Crazy Laws

Folfing Law

Montana has some very interesting laws, one of which states that the game of “Folf” cannot be played at nighttime. If you don’t know the game of “folf” is, it’s a mixture of the games Golf and Frisbee. Many Montanans play this game with a cooler of beer and man’s best friend, their dogs. However, Montana had to develop a law for this regulating this game. Montana State Ordinance 2797, 6-23-1997, states the following; ” 5-13-2: Folfing Prohibited. No person shall play or engage in the game of folf or throw a golf disc at nighttime in any area within the business improvement district that has not been sanctioned as a designated folf course by the city.”

 

Home of the Swan Princess

Trumpeter Swans

Large populations of Trumpeter Swans find their homes in Montana. With the largest population of trumpeter swans in the south portion of the state, Montana holds the largest majority of the species in the northwest region of the country. Trumpeter Swans actively bred in Montana and migrate to and from the state seasonally. Montana could be the original home of the Swan Princess.