Thursday, 25 August 2011 at 13:04I you love the games Portal and Portal 2, you will love this.
Wednesday, 24 August 2011 at 21:53As a few offhand comments made in earlier posts (and no small amount of bitching on Twitter) alluded to, Lyssa and I have largely finished the task of relocating to a house in a small-ish neighborhood a stone's throw from downtown Washington, DC. We're not quite in the Sprawl anymore but you can definitely see signs of its encroachment if you walk a few blocks.
We'd lived for nearly six years in our apartment, a two-and-a-half bedroom deal that started to get pretty crowded a few years in (largely due to the fifteen bookcases split between Lyssa and I, but the sectional couch probably had something to do with it). There were other reasons for our move as well - I work in central Maryland these days and the toll the commute was taking on my body was considerable. Traffic on the DC Beltway being what it is, I was spending three or four hours a day on the road, which wasn't leaving a whole lot of time for other stuff, and I was pushing myself way too hard way too often (as evidenced by all of the sinus infections I've had in the past year). I'd also developed a persistent cough that never really responded to treatment. To put it another way, when you have allergies and you spend a week in the middle of the Appalacian Woods, and your medication-resistent cough goes away, you know something's wrong. So, Lyssa and I began the process of finding new digs - bigger, better, with faster net.access, and a lot closer to work.
More under the cut...
Tuesday, 23 August 2011 at 18:25As you may or may not have heard on the interwebbytubes, the DC metroplex was rocked by an earthquake that measured 5.8 on the Richter scale this afternoon and was felt as far away as Ontario, Canada. Various and sundry other locales reported the quake as well, from Pittsburgh, PA to Tampa, FL, to Brooklyn and New York, NY. An aftershock measuring 2.8 on the Richter scale was reported a little while later (I don't know how long). This is the second to hit the area in the last couple of years; the quake that occurred in July of 2010 is the only other one I know of that comes to mind (though doubtless other people will and comment about this).
My building at $WORK shook this afternoon for something like thirty or forty seconds. My first guess would have been double that time, but, upon reflection, it probably wasn't that long. At first I heard the rattling sound of ductwork and conduits vibrating in their brackets as I walked through the hallway back to the lab, and then noticed that some of them had broken loose and were violently shaking back and forth. For a split second I wondered if the HVAC system on the roof had finally decided to go on a rampage and do all of us in. The next split second's rumination consisted of "Holy shit! Earthquake!"
Another cow-orker and I nearly collided as we sprinted for what we thought might make good cover (namely, the next hall over). Scant seconds after the shaking stopped we asked ourselves (rather vigorously) what the hell had happened, only to have our conversation cut off by the emergency bells in the building sounding. I suppose it says something about my priorities in life that I sprinted back up to my office to throw Windbringer, my iPod, keyring, and cellphone into my backpack and then headed out of the building as fast as my legs would carry me and to the nearest field. Say what you want about me and my tech, but if I have to work from home for a day or two I need the kit to do it.
For what it's worth I didn't see much physical damage from the quake. A few CDs were scattered on my desk and I saw a few spilled soft drinks in the halls. Not everyone was so lucky, however: some cars were crushed in Tyson's Corner, Virginia and the National Cathedral downtown reported damage to some of the spires. Damage reports elsewhere are still trickling in, you just have to sort them out of the lack of empathy and compassion that inevitably follows hot on the heels of things like unexpected natural phenomena. After word came down that campus was closed and all non-emergency personnel had to leave, we piled into our cars and headed for wherever we needed to go. I got home (to our new home, incidentally) in record time. Lyssa said that she'd felt the quake at our place in Maryland and a few others reported the quake from Dupont Circle, Arlington, Pentagon City, and parts farther away up and down the eastern seaboard. A nuclear power plant owned by Dominion Power just fifteen miles from the epicenter in Mineral, Virginia automatically shut itself down when the quake happened. True to the nature of just-in-time manufacturing in the twenty-first century t-shirts appeared scant minutes after the quake was over.
More information as it comes.
Wednesday, 17 August 2011 at 18:25-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
As of 1818 EST5EDT on 17 August 2011, I ran the `gpg --refresh-keys` command
on my primary workstation. In the process of downloading and uploading new
signatures and keys, GnuPG suggested that I change my preferences;
specifically, the message digest and encryption algorithms that it defaults to
whenever it runs. I accepted the changes and was forced to re-export and
re-upload my public key. The size of the key has changed (due to being
re-exported and saved to a file) but the key itself has not. The key ID and
fingerprint are still the same:
807B17C1 / 7960 1CDC 85C9 0B63 8D9F DD89 3BD8 FF2B 807B 17C1
which you can test by searching for any of my posts to public mailing lists,
because the key ID and fingerprint are in the signature at the bottom of each
As always, the key will be available from my homepage:
- --The Doctor [412/724/301/703]
-----BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE-----
Version: GnuPG v1.4.10 (GNU/Linux)
-----END PGP SIGNATURE-----
Monday, 08 August 2011 at 23:35As with any project, if you want people to use it you have to make them interested in it. To make them interested in it, you have to tell them about it. In the era where Internet access is considered a fundamental human right by many, finding places to post about what you're working on is easy. So, as one might expect I've been hooking up with Internet activists and technologists wherever and whenever I can to exchange ideas and get the word about Project Byzantium out. However, it seems like I keep answering the same questions over and over again; granted, our wiki pages are set up mostly for developers and not so much for people browsing the site to see what it is that we're about. So, I hope to ameliorate that somewhat with this post by answering the most commonly asked questions and criticisms.
Please note that this entry will likely change over time as new questions are asked and answers change in response to new developments.
More under the cut...
Monday, 08 August 2011 at 20:14It's almost impossible to blog about current events anymore. Situations evolve so rapidly that unless you're plugged into a constantly moving flow of information like Twitter anything you write is going to be out of date sixty seconds before you click "Post Entry." In case you haven't guessed, I speak of the riots in London and to a lesser extent the protests in Israel.
So.. assuming that you don't have a prosthetic lobe of your brain constantly connected to the global Net (which isn't as much fun as it sounds - DDoS attacks a few fibre runs over give me such a headache..), the question you're probably asking is, "What happened in London that caused riots, looting, and arson that Tintin and the gang would be proud of?"
Like many such questions, that's not an easy one to answer. The fuse was laid when a study about police brutality in general and deaths while in custody was published. Long story short, a watchdog group in the UK counnted 333 people who died while in custody under shady circumstances. This includes people beaten to death while in custody, some people were murdered outright after being released, and a surprisingly high number of deaths attributed to "natural causes" while in custody in an irritatingly vague manner. After the investigations and trials were over, in no case were police officers ever convicted. Ever. Statistically speaking, that's highly unlikely in any sample set of people. Then a couple of days ago a man named Mark Duggan (who was no angel by anyone's admission) but by some accounts was working to clean up his life so that he could give his wife and children something better apparently got into a firefight with London police when they tried to arrest him. A police sharpshooter reportedly was nearly killed when a bullet stuck and lodged in his police-issue radio, which caused London's finest to open up on Duggan; London's world-famous public video surveillance grid mysteriously doesn't seem to have any recordings of the firefight.
Then the police admitted that the bullet which nearly killed the sharpshooter was in all probability fired from a London police-issue pistol and not the revolver found near Duggan's corpse. The situation is still evolving, which is a politically correct way of saying that all hell has broken loose. The peaceful protest, at which the chant "We want answers!" began turned to violence when the London police department refused to address the protestors, and then one young woman was beaten by police in front of the crowd. If you want get an up close and personal view of what's going on there is no shortage of video online, all of it very recent.
More under the cut...
Monday, 08 August 2011 at 01:17It's been a couple of weeks - far too long, really - since I've written anything about Project Byzantium. We've been hard at work when we haven't been working our day jobs though we haven't really made a lot of it public (or at least visible). A few weeks back an official developers' page was set up on the HacDC wiki and the mailing list was fixed at long last so you don't have to subscribe to a Yahoogroup and worry about cross-posting. Right now only a little conversation takes place aside from notifications whenver code is checked into our repository at Github. Unfortunately I had to miss the development sprint at the end of July of 2011 due to a process hitting a priority interrupt strongly last weekend (viz, my brother-in-law Grant getting married and Lyssa and I participating in the wedding ceremony; pictures forthcoming). However, I am told by the other Byzantium devs that a few packages were constructed for the OS but have not yet been checked into the Subversion repository for Byzantium. I added a few more this afternoon while hacking with a good friend yesterday afternoon.
On the mailing list we seem to have settled on some of the web applications we're going to package which a Byzantium node may wish to make available to users or not on a piecewise basis. Firstly, however, we need to pick a web server for them. After a short debate it came down to nginx or lighttpd. Apache is a little too resource-intensive for a live distro that aims to be light in terms of resource consumption as well as download size. nginx is fast and powerful and it can do what we need it to, but I'd still like to research lighttpd more before a decision is made.
More under the cut...