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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Gates of Hell Shall not Prevail against It.

Hackers, led by an outfit with the original tag "Anonymous" try and fail to attack the Vatican website on World Youth Day.
Hackers initially tried to take down a website set up by the church to promote the event, handle registrations and sell merchandise. Their goal — according to YouTube messages delivered by an Anonymous figure in a Guy Fawkes mask — was to disrupt the event and draw attention to child sexual abuse by priests, among other issues.

The videos, which have been viewed more than 77,000 times, include a verbal attack on the Pope and the young people who “have forgotten the abominations of the Catholic Church.” One calls on volunteers to “prepare your weapons, my dear brother, for this August 17th to Sunday August 21st, we will drop anger over the Vatican.”
No dice:
A core group of roughly a dozen skilled hackers spent three days poking around the church’s World Youth Day site looking for common security holes that could let them inside, the report says...

In this case, the scanning software failed to turn up any gaps. So the hackers turned to a brute-force approach — a so-called distributed denial-of-service, or DDoS, attack that involves clogging a site with data requests until it crashes. Even unskilled supporters could take part in this from their computers or smartphones...

On the first day, the denial-of-service attack resulted in 28 times the normal traffic to the church site, rising to 34 times the next day. Hackers involved in the attack, who did not identify themselves, said through a Twitter account associated with the campaign that the two-day effort succeeded in slowing the site’s performance and making the page unavailable “in several countries.” Imperva disputed that the site’s performance was affected and said its technologies had successfully siphoned the excess data away from the site.

Imperva executives say the Vatican’s defenses held up because, unlike Sony and other hacker targets, it invested in the infrastructure needed to repel both break-ins and full-scale assaults.
From the early days of radio onward, the Vatican's use of technology has shown remarkable sophistication.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Looking for the Fire Escape?

Fame-seeking atheist Richard Dawkins says he's now not sure God doesn't exist! I wonder if he's come down with a fatal illness.

Diary of a Papist Convert

I apologize to my readers (if there are any remaining!) for the prolonged radio silence. There have been no crises in my life, of faith or anything else; I simply have not felt an urge lately to put anything down in writing (though there have been several abandoned attempts) and the longer one goes without blogging the easier it is not to. Recently, however, there was a joyous occurrence for me that I, if you will indulge me, humbly believe ought be shared.

This past Friday I finally screwed up the courage and made my way to my first choir practice at the Church of the Holy Innocents in New York City. I had long ago been invited to do this but had lost heart at every attempt, often while on my way to the church. My notion (or "out," really, providing me wth the courage this time) was to sit in at rehearsals for the foreseeable future and simply follow along until I eventually gained enough facility and confidence to take part, I having little experience in plainchant and square notes. Alas, to my great horror, the choir leader promptly dismissed that wimpy notion and told me sing along right then and there. There was thus no out and no way out. I sang along, both at rehersal and in the Extraordinary Form Mass immediately following.

To my astonishment I didn't do too badly. I made more than a few flubs but none of them terribly disruptive and by Mass's end felt a sense of elation as never felt before. I had not realized how much I missed making music (your Bloviator is a frustrated musician) and doing it for the glory of God only heightened the experience. And while my voice is mediocre at best, just short of a caterwaul, God did kindly compensate for that by blessing me (although sometimes it seems like a curse) with perfect pitch, which is helpful when singing a cappella.

So I am now a proud member, two evenings a week for now, of the choir at the Church of the Holy Innocents in Manhattan, the only church in New York where the Extraordinary Form is celebrated seven days a week. Deo gratias.

Saint Cecilia pray for us.