Sunday, 20 May 2012 at 22:56
As you may or may not have guessed I'm a fan of science fiction (I'd have to be to take the name of a certain time traveling alien as my own) as well as an afficionado of H.P. Lovecraft's C'thul'hu Mythos
. Maybe I'm in dire need of calling the crew together for another tabletop RPG night or maybe I've been under a little too much stess recently but lately I've been on a Laundry Files
bender. If you've never heard of Charles Stross
he's an excellent author who writes this particular series, in which a halpless hacker named Bob was drafted into Her Majesty's Occult Service after writing a graphics hack
that nearly summoned Nyarlathotep
by accident. When not attending meetings or undergoing paperclip audits, on one of the charge codes on his timesheet he works as a computational demonologist. Another way of describing the series might be Delta Green
meets Office Space
Anyway, in The Laundry Files
the character Dr. Monique O'Brien(-Howard?)
obsessively carries a violin with a sticker that reads "THIS MACHINE KILLS DEMONS!" This is probably a riff on a sticker that Woody Guthrie
had on his guitar which read "THIS MACHINE KILLS FASCISTS"
. I have a thing for redheads, and I have a thing
for violin music (totally my jam
), so I decided that I simply must have this sticker. I did some poking around on Cafepress
but didn't find any, so I decided to make them myself.
Off I clicked to warninglabelgenerator.com
, knocked together a couple of official-looking labels ("THIS MACHINE KILLS DEMONS" and "THIS LAPTOP KILLS DEMONS" (because Windbringer asked for one)), Googled a scalable vector graphic
of the Elder Sign
and found a suitable public domain version
on a wiki. None of the warning label or sign generator sites I found had any Lovecraftian sigilae so I used the aforementioned graphic and The GIMP
to make exactly what I wanted. I then pasted the images multiple times into 1200x1500 pixel full-sized sheets so there would be ten stickers each, the better to mass produce them.
Anyway, here they are: This machine kills demons!
and This laptop kills demons!
. Grab a package of inkjet sticker paper (I'm fond of Avery 3383), run off a sheet, cut them apart, and you're good to go.
Woody Guthrie came up with the idea. Many have riffed off of it over the years.
I stole the idea from Charles Stross because I liked it so much. These images are for non-commerical use only, and if I find out anyone's been selling them I'll get really pissed off. Enjoy.
Oh, and if any violin players happen to put one of these stickers on your weapons of choice, please send Mr. Stross and I pictures, I think we'd love to see them.
Wednesday, 16 May 2012 at 08:16
"This is our SUV, the Nebuchadnezzar. From it, we hack into the Matrix and broadcast our pirate signal."
That pretty much sums up our trip to CarolinaCon 8
, held last weekend at the Hilton Hotel in Raleigh, North Carolina.
CarolinaCon, now in its eighth year, is a small, intimate hacker con founded by people who believe that sharing information with one another is the best way to both learn and advance the state of the art. It's the sort of con where you will see a talk by someone who may have learned about public speaking from watching Jerry Seinfeld's standup routines and at the same time learn exactly how the latest malware agents conceal themselves in a compromised system and what countermeasures they use to prevent analysis. It's not a dry technical conference but a freewheeling free-for-all thrown by some good folks. You'll learn a lot while you're there, probably get some hands-on experience if you like, and your ribs will be sore by dinnertime because you'll probably be laughing your head off. Not to say that it's not serious - it is - but a little sugar definitely helps the medicine go down.
Last Thursday night after work Haxwithaxe and Sitwon drove to my house to pick me up for the trek down to North Carolina. We loaded my kit in the back of Sitwon's SUV along with the already-packed stack of laptops and sundry other bits of luggage, stopped at a local brewpub for dinner, and then strapped in for the long haul south. Wired for power with a couple of inverters we took turns plugging our respective media players into the vehicle's sound system and hacked pretty much the whole trip on Project Byzantium. After discovering how to tether Windbringer to my cellphone (it still strikes me as novel that firmware not manufactured and backdoored six ways to Sunday
by a company will let one do something as simple as push changes to a repository) the rest of the trip was lost in a haze of commits and test runs.
When plotting a course, a zip code wasn't used for our destination and so we wound up two hours and over a hundred miles away from where we needed to be. We discovered this the hard way when we pulled up to the front gate of a small, private college (the campus of which had a security guard posted, something I found curious). After discovering our mistake we turned around, drove another two hours in the proper direction, and then pulled into the parking lot of the Hilton very early in the morning on Friday only to discover that they'd resold our room because we'd missed check-in. However, the night manager was kind enough to put us up at a neighboring hotel for the night and comp us the cost. So, about a half hour later the three of us trudged into a suite that, in the final analysis, was easily larger than our actual hotel room and collapsed for a few hours of rest. Around mid-morning on Friday we repacked the SUV and had a nice conversation in the parking lot with an older lady who was curious about the three strangely dressed individuals with a vehicle full of equipment. Our conversation was largely about CarolinaCon, why we were dressed strangely (we're strange), and Project Byzantium. Then we had a quick lunch at a nearby mall, drove to the Hilton, checked in, unpacked, and got back to hacking on the Byzantium codebase. We set up a few nodes in our room in the hopes of getting some more feedback from con-goers, and then late Friday afternoon we took the elevator downstairs to check into the con itself...
More under the cut...
Sunday, 06 May 2012 at 20:21
Before things get hectic again, here are the photographs I took at the USA Science and Engineering Festival
a few weekends ago (which I'm still recovering from, incidentally).
Here they are.
This work by The Doctor [412/724/301/703]
is published under a Creative Commons By Attribution / Noncommercial / Share Alike v3.0 License