Retro-futurist museum exhibit, SFO, 2019

Nov 29 2019

A common feature at the main terminal of SFO is a museum exhibit of some kind.  My last time through that particular airport they had a retro-futurist display of artifacts that dated back to the Space Age, all rounded corners and brass fittings and suchlike.  Definitely an aesthetic, if that's your sort of thing.

Anyway, pictures.

Pictures from my trip to San Diego, summer 2019.ev

Nov 29 2019

Last summer my day job sent me down to San Diego, CA to attend the Linux Security Summit and report back.  Unfortunately just about all of the content there intersected in no way, shape, or form with anything we're working on so it was largely a dog wash.  I probably won't attend again because, balancing the cost against the information gotten it just wasn't worth it.  I did, however, take a couple of engineers from Oracle for their first good sushi dinner ever, took an amphibious boat tour of San Diego Bay, and hiked along the waterfront for a couple of hours.

Pictures.

Cult of the Dead Cow book signing, 22 June 2019.

Nov 29 2019

If you were part of the hacker scene in the 1980's or 90's (or you played a certain tradition in Mage: The Ascension around that time) you undoubtedly have come across the weird, wonderful, bewildering, and occasionally insightful antics of The Cult of the Dead Cow, a crew of hackers originally based out of Texas who were well known for their periodic text file releases.  What isn't well known until very recently is that many cDc alumni have gone on to do great things, from starting one of the first security companies to ascending to C-level status at some well known megacorps to overseeing government security initiatives.  Earlier this year one Joseph Menn (nice guy, by the bye) wrote a book about them which is extensively researched and fun to read in general.  Menn's book tour happened to bring him to the Internet Archive along with some cDc alumni.

Bask in the presence of the C0w.

Using Ansible to restart a bunch of services running under systemd in --user mode.

Dec 02 2019

Let's say that you have a bunch of servers that you admin en masse using Ansible.  You have all of them listed and organized in your /etc/ansible/hosts file.  Let's say that each server is running a system service (like my Systembot) running under systemd in --user mode.  (Yes, I'm going to use my exocortex-halo/ repository for this, because I just worked out a good way to keep everything up to date and want to share the technique for everyone new to Ansible.  Pay it forward, you know?)  You want to use Ansible to update your copy of Systembot across everything so you don't have to SSH into every box and git pull the repo to get the updates.  A possible Ansible playbook to install the updates might look something like this:

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Challenge accepted: Archiving a Mastodon account with Huginn

Nov 17 2019

Last weekend I was running short of stuff to hack around on and lamented this fact on the Fediverse.  I was summarily challenged to find a way to archive posts to the Fediverse in an open, easy to understand data format that was easy to index, and did not use any third party services (like IFTTT or Zapier).  I thought about it a bit and came up with a reasonably simple solution that uses three Huginn agents to collect, process, and write out posts as individual JSON documents to the same box I run that part of my exocortex on.  This is going to go deep geek below the cut so if it's not your cup of tea, feel free to move on to an earlier post.

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Neologism: Entropic debugging

Nov 11 2019

entropic debugging - noun phrase - The phenomenon in which one can spend weeks on end debugging something using a multitude of techniques, give up in frustration and/or disgust for a couple of days, come back to the project and discover that somehow the bugs have magickally fixed themselves (as verified by diffs and file hashes if one cares to check).  The phenomenon is so named due to the second law of thermodynamics, which states that entropy can never decrease, only increase in an isolated system.  In other words, as entropy increases overall in the universe it somehow wiped out the bugs in question.  See also kinetic pattern baldness.

Neologism - Wires

Oct 27 2019

wires - noun - Person to person backchannels.

"I had to pull some wires to get that expense report fixed before the boss saw it."