The Cruxshadows' Immortal Tour comes to DC.

Thanksgiving Day at Laurelinde's was a fairly low-key affair because we were guests. Once you get the turkey into the oven, it's pretty much smooth sailing until the last ninety minutes of roasting time or so because that's usually when you need to start working on all of the other dishes for dinner if you're going to have them all together. The day before, Lyssa had made meatballs stroganoff, so we had them for lunch with kluski noodles a couple of hours before dinner to get us through. There isn't a whole lot to say about the actual preparation process because I wasn't involved in it - the extent of it this year was my helping to set and clean off the table. Still, it was nice to share a holiday meal with everyone down here; Lyssa and I decided to go home for Yule this year rather than Thanksgiving to give ourselves a break.

Shortly after dinner, Lyssa, Laurelinde, and I broke off from the family to get ready for the rest of the evening, namely the Cruxshadows concert last night at Jaxx in West Springfield. All things considered, the most difficult part was deciding what to wear. Vanity aside, I tend to err on the side of staying warm because I lose body heat rapidly, and the poor circulation in my hands tends to cause them to become useless in short order. Lyssa opted for something light and breathable, surmising that she could leave her coat in the car; also, she planned on buying a hooded sweatshirt at the swag booth which she could wear if it got too cold for her. Laurelinde met us halfway with a padded leather jacket and t-shirt underneath.

Our first stop after arriving at Jaxx and traversing entry security (your basic issue magnetometer arch, a common enough sight in DC) was the swag booth. Because the Cruxshadows haven't yet nbrought their website's store back online (which has become something of an in-joke in the fandom) I stocked up on stuff while I was there: two t-shirts, a fistful of buttons, and a handful of stickers. You see, I tend to stockpile stuff in one of my hordes of $object for later times, such as getting into the mood to stick something new on the wall in my office or switching out the badges on one of my coats. I spoke to the guy running their swag booth, and he mentioned that he hoped they've give him the job of getting their online store back up and running. Rogue or Patrick, if you happen to read this, give the guy manning your booth in DC a shot at your website.

Windbringer is quite pleased with the new Cruxshadows logo decal on his cover, by the bye.

More under the cut...

The Doctor | 28 November 2008, 23:33 hours | default | One comment

Cartoon Network rickrolled the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade!

Rick Astley: the final boss of the Internet.

The Doctor | 28 November 2008, 20:29 hours | default | No comments

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Now that it's Thanksgiving Day and there's nothing to do until the turkey has finished roasting in the oven, I've got a chance to write about everything that's happened in the past couple of days.

Aside from adding a thirteenth bookcase to the apartment (which actually contains the bulk of our DVD collection) last Saturday brought with it an afternoon with the Mad Scientist Coffee Klatsch while Lyssa stayed home to relax. I spent the afternoon with Hasufin, Mika, and Jason trading doomsday scenarios that ran the gamut of elegance, subtlty, and destructive potential, an activity which I'm surprised didn't empty out our favorite coffee shop or bring the police. I left MSC early that afternoon because Lyssa had made dinner and I wanted to spend some time with her before she went to the movies with Bronwyn. For my part, all I was feeling up for was sitting around the apartment and reading, which I did in spades.

Sunday was a bit more of an adventure; a number of stores in the DC metroplex are going out of business (or have done so by now) due to the recent downturn in the economy, which means that the weekend was chock full of vulture sales. To that end, Lyssa and I met up with Jason, Hasufin, and Mika, and after a short breakfast at Millennium Bagel (which has amazingly tasty sandwiches for a bagel shop), dropped off Lyssa at home, and then the four of us set out to pick over the corpses of the stores that were closing. Our first stop was the Circuit City on route 7 in NOVA, which we discovered wasn't actually going out of business. In hindsight, compared to the Circuit City which was closing, which I'll get to in a moment, this fact should have been obvious. While there, I picked up a new pair of headphones for Bronwyn and an unusual find, what could be the world's smallest Bluetooth adapter. The second Circuit City we came to was most definitely going out of business - prices were cut up to 50% on everything they had on the floor at the time, and people were all but fighting over stuff. While there, I picked up another two gigs of RAM for Leandra for about $85us; Hasufin walked away with a brand new LCD flatpanel television for something like $800us.

More under the cut...

The Doctor | 27 November 2008, 16:14 hours | default | Two comments

Who Killed Amanda Palmer?

I've put another set of photograhs online, this time they're from the Who Killed Amanda Palmer concert on 18 November 2008.

The Doctor | 23 November 2008, 01:05 hours | images | No comments

New photographs: The Sisters of Mercy

I've finally edited all the shots taken at the Sisters of Mercy concert earlier this month. You can see the gallery over here.

The Doctor | 22 November 2008, 23:47 hours | images | No comments

"Don't bury me! I'm not dead!" (take two)

For unknown reasons, I just lost the previous draft of this post, and so have had to start over. That includes a number of edits that made the text more coherent to read. Please bear wth me.

The reason I haven't been writing much lately is because what little time I have that isn't taken up by work has been spent running hither and yon, having what are popularly termed 'wacky adventures'. Things haven't slowed down much for Lyssa and I since we got married; in fact it's rare that we have an evening at home to ourselves that isn't taken up by cleaning or putting stuff together.

Two Fridays ago at PEN Faulkner Lyssa, Hasufin, Mika, Sarah, and I got together after work to attend a special reading given by Toby Barlow (who wrote the novel Sharp Teeth), Max Brooks (author of The Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z), and Grace Lee (documentarist and filmmaker behind American Zombie). The reading and Q&A panel were chaired by author Matthew Klam, who somehow managed to keep everything on track that night. Each author read some of their work, or showed an excerpt from it in the case of American Zombie. Everyone had a slightly different take on the cultural phenomenon of the zombie: Brooks looks at it from the all-or-nothing post-apocalyptic survivalist view, Grace Lee wondered what it would be like if zombies were real but some were almost as functional as people, while Barlow completely bypassed the idea with a free verse novel about werewolves.

More under the cut...

The Doctor | 22 November 2008, 22:51 hours | wedding, restaurants, default | No comments

Honeymoon's over.

Lyssa and I are back in DC after a lovely weekend honeymoon in the mountains of southern Virginia, courtesy of my cow-orkers.

I'll get around to posting the pictures I'd taken, reviews of restaurants, and what all happened up there later this week. It's going to be a busy week and I don't knnow when I'll have time to write. Hopefully, later this week I'll hammer out a few thousand words.

Enjoy the oncoming winter weather in your area, and good night.

Oh, and be careful, everyone. Winter is coming, after all.

The Doctor | 17 November 2008, 20:16 hours | wedding | No comments

It's been one of those days.

(Picture of a hamster running inside of a server hijacked from Hamster On A Wheel.)

The Doctor | 10 November 2008, 21:13 hours | images | No comments

WPA/TKIP partially broken?

Just when you thought it was safe to raise an antenna and go wireless again, along comes another attack to make you think twice. A pair of security researchers, Erik Tews and Martin Beck, will present a new attack against WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) at the PacSec conference next week. If you're not up on wireless network technologies, WPA is the system developed to secure wireless network traffic after WEP was found to be too insecure. The basic purpose of WPA is to encrypt all data traffic between a wireless client and an access point (modulo the control packets, of course) in as transparent a manner as possible to the user to minimize the possibility that a passive attacker will be able to make sense of any recorded traffic. Part of WPA is a protocol called TKIP, the Temporal Key Integrity Protocol, which is designed to renegotiate the session key of every client/AP link on a periodic basis (once every wallclock hour or so). The reason for this is so that an exceptionally lucky attacker, if they manage to crack one of the temporal keys, will only be able to decrypt the traffic for that hour rather than the entire length of time a client is associated with the AP.

Ordinarily, the only feasible attack under such circumstances is a brute-force attack, which is when you try every possible combination of characters to see which one will reveal usable information rather than garbage. While this will work if you throw enough processing power at it, it could potentially take thousands of years to be successful. Beck and Tews say that they've found a vulnerability in the protocol which will reveal one of the keys used in WPA (of which there are several on each side of a link) inside of 15 wallclock minutes. From this description it sounds as if they've figured out a way to predict the constantly changing keys used to encrypt traffic from the base station to a wireless client, though not decrypt traffic from the client back to the AP or any of the recorded traffic to some arbitrary yet recent point in time. The relatively thin description in the article suggests that the recording and analysis of a volume of AP-to-client traffic is required, which seems to support this hypothesis.

More under the cut...

The Doctor | 06 November 2008, 16:13 hours | default | No comments

The Sisters of Mercy return to DC.

As if there wasn't enough going on right now, last night Lyssa and I had tickets to see The Sisters of Mercy once again at the 9:30 Club in downtown DC. Because Lyssa had to work on-site yesterday, however, the timing of things got a little messed up... I got home in plenty of time to clean up and change; Jason arrived around 1730 EST5EDT, maybe a half hour or so before Lyssa got back. There was a bit of excitement involving a phone call from Lyssa, a mad dash out the front door to let her in while wearing socks, and falling on the steps before I could let her in but thankfully nothing really came of that. It appears that Jason's wedding gift has held me in good stead insofar as taking the odd spill on tile floors are concerned. On top of that, we were also waiting for Laurelinde and Jade to arrive because we were supposed to drive out there en masse, all the better to find parking. Laurelinde was driving back from Philadelphia that afternoon and so got caught in rush hour traffic on the beltway, which meant that she'd arrived around 2000 EST5EDT. Jade arrived around 1930 EST5EDT and all of us wound up crashing on the couch to conserve energy. None of us had eaten dinner yet, you see, but we couldn't go until Laurelinde arrived. After she got there and changed, however, we packed up Jason's van and headed down the street to the Silver Diner to catch a quick bite, and then off to the show.

We wound up getting to the 9:30 Club and finding parking shortly after 2100 ESTS5EDT - we found the last parking space at the nearby diner, paid The Big Guy (who runs the safest parking lot in that area, so named because he could have given Jerome Bettis a run for his money) $15us to park, and walked the short block the club. As usual for the Sisters, if you skip the opening act you're probably not missing a whole lot. It didn't take us long to find The Wrong Hands and L-, who'd guided us in with text messages to my smartphone. I stayed back to talk shop for a while while Lyssa and the crew staked out space closer to the stage shortly before the Sisters spun their show up.

More under the cut...

The Doctor | 06 November 2008, 12:29 hours | default | No comments

More pictures, more text, more used bandwidth.

I've just finished uploading the pictures that Elwing took at the wedding - you can look at the album over here. The images are kind of big, so if people are having problems viewing them please comment and I'll resize them again.

I've also updated my .plan file. As always, there is some NSFW content, so use discretion.

The Doctor | 05 November 2008, 14:25 hours | wedding, images, default | No comments

Senator Barack Obama elected President of the United States!

As you may or may not have been aware, yesterday was Election Day in the United States, in which ballots were cast to decide who would take over as President of the United States in January of 2009. I have to admit, I didn't pay much attention to the usual campaign commercials, mailings, and e-mails, because quite frankly once the mud slinging started (which was almost immediately, in fact) I grew bored with the antics of all involved. I'm far more concerned with the voting records of the candidates, their backgrounds, and what they will do for me personally as a citizen of the United States because, after all, the whole point of an elected government is to represent the will of the people of the country. To that end, I spent rather a lot of time prowling around the Library of Congress' archives, but that's not particularly relevant at this instant.

All of that said, it didn't keep me from tuning the television at home to CNN and watching the numbers roll in minute by minute while Windbringer scanned the newswires and filled my browser tabs with news articles. I've never seen such a landslide before - the final tally of votes from the electoral college was 349 to 147 in favor of Obama. As if it isn't the understatement of the year, that's a decisive victory if I ever saw one. I think it was around 2300 EST5EDT last night that McCain announced his concession speech, which began a few minutes later and was over shortly before midnight EST5EDT. I think Obama's victory speech was a bit shorter; he'd finished speaking and the rest of the audio track consisted of applause by the time I turned in at 0015 EST5EDT this morning. It would seem that the people of this country are more than ready to change things, and to that end they've elected someone to office who will hopefully be responsive to our wishes. Between the war in Iraq that has dragged on for so long that many ignore it immediately as a talking point to the multi-trillion dollar recession this country is in as a result to the housing market crash of just a few weeks ago, many people are, to be blunt, sick and tired of being afraid and are ready to turn things around.

Personally speaking, I hope that Obama removes the more ineffective programs and measures in place in the United States at this time, such as some of the things the TSA does to travelers which doesn't really make anyone safer, or even feel safer. It would also be nice to not have to worry about the possibility of portable computers being confiscated while en route. Oh, and that whole NSA operating outside of its charter bit? I think that's pretty important, don't you?

The Doctor | 05 November 2008, 09:42 hours | default | Six comments

Election Night 2008!

I took off from work early today to head to the polls - it's election day once again, and the stakes are the highest they've been in years. Much to my surprise, I had no trouble casting my ballot at all - if one takes finding a parking space in DC at the drop of a hat as an omen, then this was a pretty good one. I was half expecting to be turned away because I wasn't registered or on a technicality of some kind (like wearing my VOTE SAXON button), but I breezed right in without trouble. There were no lines at my usual polling place, either - Norfolk, for example, has reported that people have been standing in line for seven (7) hours to vote. I also didn't see any signs of shadiness while I was there - stories of shenagins are flying fast and furious but apparently nobody tried to pull anything in my neighborhood, or if they did they were caught so fast that nobody noticed. While there were a few electronic voting machines set up, we were lead to temporary booths and given dead tree Scantron ballots and ballpoint pens. Fill in the little bubble, walk to the scanner, and feed your ballot into the slot. Simple as that.

I did notice one interesting thing, though - on the tops of the ballot scanners are small flip-back hatches with small disc locks holding them closed. More's the point, the hatch on the one I visited was partially ajar. A surreptitious jiggle with a thumbnail showed that the panel was held closed from below though whoever closed it did a lousy job. I wasn't able to take a photograph of it to add to the data points which will no doubt be used as media weapons on both sides because my smartcam's power cell is dead.

Anyway, it's still early in the night. I'll probably pop in periodically to post updates.

Buckle your seatbelts.

The Doctor | 04 November 2008, 18:19 hours | default | No comments

Still catching up on last week.

Given everything happening in the days since Lyssa and I got married, I'm still catching up on lots of things, most of them work-related though there are a few things rather closer to the homestead that were unfortunately pushed to the back burner. I covered last Monday, but not what happened during our second day off... because we have neither the time nor money to take a proper honeymoon at this time, we decided to spend the day as tourists in Washington, DC. Though we live so close to the nation's capital it's a rare day that we actually take the time to see the sights and explore.

It was a chilly day as we stepped off the Metro and headed for the Newseum of downtown Washington, DC, a six-storm interactive museum of news, media, and journalism. You can't miss it if you're downtown - the facade is mostly steel and glass, there are glass cases out front that display the day's front pages of over a dozen major metropolitan newspapers, and inscribed into the gargantuan marble tablet that makes up part of the building is the text of the First Amendment. As you walk in you'll have to pass through the metal detectors at a minimum-security checkpoint (a commonplace sight in DC anymore) and pay $20us for a ticket, but it's well worth the trip and money. Chances are you'll only see a fraction of the museum on any given trip - Lyssa and I were there for an afternoon and we only saw the bottom floor and part of the ground floor. On display right now are copies of every Pulitzer Prize winning photograph since the beginning (so far as I can tell) along with some of the cameras used to take those pictures, and on the bottom floor is an exhibit describing the relationship that the FBI has had with the news media since the roaring 20's. Artifacts from many famous cases are on display there, including the personal effects of John Dillinger, a replica of the Unibomber's cabin, and the electric chair used to execute the man implicated in the death of the Lindburgh baby. There are also exhibits dealing with counter-espionage cases from the Cold War and six segments of the Berlin Wall, complete with one of the guard towers, which was a downright unsettling thing to behold, I don't mind telling you.

On display in the giftshop is one of Datamancer's custom steampunk keyboards - the Aviator, if I recall rightly. Cost: $2000us.

More under the cut...

The Doctor | 04 November 2008, 15:16 hours | default, wedding | Four comments

DC Metro starts random searches of travellers.

In my "to post about" queue for a couple of days but certainly not forgotten has been a recent development in Washington, DC which Lyssa pointed out to me not too long ago. It seems that things are going far too smoothly in the nation's capital, so the decision has been made to randomly search the belongings of people traveling on the DC Metrorail or Metrobus lines, effective 28 October 2008 (registration may be required, BugMeNot for the win), which happens to be the day the new measures were announced. They're citing the upcoming presidential election as their reason for upping the appearance of security in the Metro system by pseudorandomly selecting a number and then taking every nth person aside to have their belongings searched as they attempt to enter a pseudorandomly selected subset of Metro stations or buses. The number and subset of stations or buses are supposed to change on a daily basis. Refusing to consent to the search means that you'll be told to leave the station or the bus; you won't be arrested. Of course, some people will try to re-enter via a different entrance but Metrocops have long memories for that sort of thing, which means that it'll really only work at the big Metro stations like Metro Center, Union Station (which has noticable security measures already in place), and Dupont Circle. They say that they'll be focusing on finding bombs in people's carried luggage which means that they will probably continue to ignore people selling drugs and fratboys drinking on the DC Metro, to say nothing of the odd mugging. If you look shady (for some arbitrary definition of 'shady') they reserve the right to stop and search you; anything found will be seized as evidence and you might be arrested.

Shortly after this story hit the newswires, Dr. Gridlock lit up with comments from DC residents, some of them even coherent. The consensus seems to be that this really won't accomplish anything but add an additional delay to the already hectic morning and evening commutes and frighten the people who see it happen around them. Many people, such as myself, strongly doubt the ability of the Metrocops to separate a dastardly device from a legitimate though high tech device, such as a VoIP ATA or USB-to-serial adapter. I am also concerned with the possibility that certain people will note what the people being searched are carrying and mug them for it later; this is already something of a problem on the Metro though it wouldn't surprise me one bit if it happened to get worse.

EPIC, the Electronic Privacy Information Center has already taken to the streets to protest this change in policy by handing out flyers to travelers, which you can download from their website in .pdf format.

The Doctor | 03 November 2008, 12:31 hours | default | Four comments

Photographs taken on our wedding day.

I've just gotten around to putting up the photographs that I snapped on wedding day. Rather than try to describe all of them, you can see them here.

The Doctor | 02 November 2008, 21:46 hours | images, wedding | No comments

Hand-made cufflinks.

As wedding favors, I made seven pairs of cufflinks using gemstones purchased from Fire Mountain Gems. Here are some photographs of them.

The Doctor | 02 November 2008, 21:21 hours | images, wedding | Six comments

Photos from my bachelor's party.

I've finally made the time to edit the photographs taken from a Segway during my bachelor's party. You can look at the images here.

The Doctor | 02 November 2008, 21:13 hours | images, wedding | No comments
"We, the extraordinary, were conspiring to make the world better."