Late last night, Lyssa and I got back to DC from southwestern Pennsylvania. The funeral service for Gandma Biscan was held at 0930 EST/EDT yesterday morning at the church on the outskirts of Mather, Pennsylvania. The family extant gathered at the Behm Funeral Home to pay their last respects to her before the casket was sealed and transported to the church for mass and the funeral ceremony. The priest who performed the ceremony did an excellent job and listened to the wishes and requests of the family (which was a concern of all concerned), has an excellent singing voice (I've never heard a priest join in the hymns before), and generally did an excellent job with the funeral. After mass was over we trucked out to the outskirts of town for a graveside ceremony (something I've never been to before), and then headed home to get ready for the wake.
There really isn't much that you can say about a wake.. family and close friends are gathered, clergy of some kind says some kind words and sings a few hymns, the funeral procession goes to a holy place of some kind for part II of the kind words and hymns, the casket is moved someplace else and interred. Unless something really out of the ordinary happens, there isn't much to write home about unless someone records it.
Once we got back to the homestead in Mather most everyone ditched their Sunday best clothing for more comfortable threads and set about getting ready for the wake, which involved just about everyone who attended the funeral, a large amount of food, a case of beer, and an emergency trip to pick up paper plates and flatware because Lyssa's mother insisted upon doing the dishes even though a wake is the last thing that you want a lot of cleanup for, because it could be said that a wake is itself a kind of cleanup operation.
Thankfully there is a tiny supermarket not too far away from the Mather homestead, so it was the work of a few minutes to run out there in the TARDIS, buy them out of picnicware, and head home to stop the impending carnage.
The wake was more than I'd expected.. everyone interacted meaningfully, instead of the usual aftershocks of someone close dying. Everyone sat around eating, chatting, laughing, finding out about how life's been going.. it was a very upbeat affair, as wakes go. The food was excellent (you have to love a Polish wake), I met some more folks in the family, and I generally got along with everyone.. again, not much that one can say about that without making a transcript of everything that happened, and causing trouble is the last thing that I want to do.
After the wake wrapped up and everyone either went home or curled up to take a nap because no one had been sleeping well, Lyssa, Jill, and I headed over to Grandma Biscan's place to pick through everything in the daylight and select a few things to take with us. We were able to do a much more thorough job of searching because it was mid afternoon and well lit (the power had been shut off previously). We found a lot of nifty stuff, to be sure, like the contents of Grandfather Biscan's cabinet (which, I found out later, was actually a gun rack), more books hidden away upstairs (I took with me a pair of history texts originally written by H.G.Wells, a duck-and-cover manual from the 60's, a book of etiquette, and some old documentation on a brand-new medium, FM radio, to see if docs have gotten smarter or dumber in the past eighty years (hint: It's not the former)), and even some 78 records.
The pantry and larder are, to be frank, scary. None of us are sure how old the food is or how long it's been there, only that we're not prepared to open anything under any circumstances. We marvelled over the old-lady trait of hiding paper towels everywhere and collecting doilies like baseball cards (I maintain that union regulations require women to begin stockpiling doilies once they reach the age of seventy). We found a large number of silver and bronze Catholic saint medallions in a small carved wooden box ("Hey, look.. I found your grandmother's stash!") in the bedroom along with a large number of old photographs and a beautiful leather-bound heirloom Bible, complete with red text, glossary, and a partial family tree handwritten in the back. We also took with us some small glass jars that would be ideal for decanting oils and a pair of large lamps that will probably shed more light than all of the bulbs we have set up in the apartment at this time.
I think it was around 1700 EST that we set forth for Washington, DC once again, in the hopes of missing rush hour traffic on the beltway. We stopped off once to stretch our legs and get water (because both of us were badly dehydrated) and again an hour or so later to get dinner at a Macaroni Grill not far from where route 70 turns into route 270. All told, we made it home around 2230 EST last night and after unloading the TARDIS turned in for the night to sleep in our own bed for the first time in several days.
I wound up sleeping in until 0930 EST this morning.. my body was completely exhausted and I really haven't been eating right lately, so recuperation from all of the travelling has been slow. We've already pulled our RSVP from the Edgar Allen Poe memorial picnic this weekend - both of us just want to stay at home and rest.
Here's one for the record books - roboticists in the United States have begun devising tentacles for robots instead of clawed manipulators because they work better with handling oddly shaped objects. The tentacles are modelled after the trunks of elephants and the tentacles of certain cephalopods, and are pneumatically actuated instead of operated with electric motors. So far, these new actuators are only a metre in length, but even that is enough to serve as a proof of concept mechanism.
This is awesome, I daresay - someone made a fanvid of the Time War!
I'm of two minds about wandering through the houses of the dead.
On one hand, they're not mine, and ordinarily I much prefer to be invited in to feel completely comfortable in someone else's home.. there's this whole being where I'm not supposed to be thing, you see, though that's conditioning from a time where I barely ever left the house. But now I'm getting off track.
On the other hand, I get a strange sort of.. I can't quite call it 'pleasure' doing so, but I've always enjoyed wandering through the houses while they were quiet. It's like being inside of a photograph: Everything is quiet and still. There isn't anyone else in the house to move things around after you've walked through. There usually isn't any sound because the air conditioning is off, the television is off, sometimes the power's off... everything is exactly as it was and exactly as it will always be until someone opens the door, goes in, and starts going through everything, which is never a pleasant thing to do after someone dies, for a variety of reasons. It's a chance to go through everything that you were never allowed to touch before and see what they kept, what they never got around to throwing out, what was forgotten behind the couch and in the back of the dresser drawers... some pretty odd stuff accumulates, which is why I particularly enjoy doing so - all the strange knick-knacks.
Last night after leaving Aunt Sylvie's place we drove over to Grandma Biscan's place to look for a few missing items, namely, some books that the wherabouts of were unknown. Sylvie gave us the keys and we entered via the front door, like civilised entities. The house, as one would expect, was cool, all but silent, and dark.. walking in, you would get the impression in a short time that the original owner was no more. Not scary, exactly, but it felt like the house was keeping a close eye on us and what we did while we were there. We spent some time searching around the bottom floor for said books but didn't find what we were after until we scaled the precariously steep stairs to the second floor, where two attic/bedrooms packed with boxes and dressers (which seem to be the primary mode of storage of the generations before ours) flanked the staircase that had neither headroom nor bannister for support.
That staircase still gives me the screaming heebie jeebies. I always feel like I'm going to knock my head on a doorframe (which I did last night), fall, and splatter the contents of my cranium all over the worn yellow carpeting and kitchen floor.
The books were found neatly packed away in a box in the first attic/bedroom we shined our tiny LED flashlight into. Most of them are in good condition but there is one, a cookbook, which is bound in the traditional heirloom manner but quite old. The pages are yellowing, the scotch tape used to repair a few of them has long since crumbled to dust, leaving only dark brown rectangular smears of synthetic colloidian to hold the edges together, the edges of the pages themselves are badly oxidised, and a few of the individual leaves are so thin you'd think that they'd crumble if you touched them. Lyssa and I plan to scan this book (which will unfortunately destroy it, but if I can round up a hand held scanner or rig up a jig for my digital camera to photograph the pages, it might hang on another few years) to record the recipes and margin notes therein and have the book mothballed if we can find someplace that'll do it for us. It is a beautiful old book, and it will be a shame if the recipes are lost because it crumbles.
We did a little more poking around and found Grandma Biscan's button box, which Lyssa used to play with when she was younger. Some of the buttons are so old that they crumble when touched, and a few are even made of cast copper (so known becuase they've turned green and are also decaying). I think that most of the buttons will survive, they'll just need to be cleaned. Lyssa mentioned wanting to preserve the tin itself, because it's an antique. Honestly, I'm not sure of how to do that. The rust will definitely have to be buffed off, and something will have to be applied to seal the enamel on and keep the moisture away from the metal. A dessicant of some kind will definitely have to be kept with the tin to retard the oxidation process - I think the traditional lump of chalk will do nicely.
Got some coding done last night; I finally sat down to turn one of my more practical ideas into a Perl script, so Signature Generator v1.0 is now available to the public under the GPL. I've got a few more ideas (I seem to get my best ideas in the shower, go figure) for features to add to the script, so I'll probably release v1.1 soon.
Something that's been bothering me lately is how difficult it's been to write coherent updates. My brain's going in many directions simultaneously right now,because there's just so much going on, and I haven't been taking the time out to line my thoughts up and get them out in some fashion sequentially. I took some time out to code last night, which I greatly enjoyed and which cleared my head so that I can think. Coding feels a little like writing to me but the two are not all that similiar. One is a narrative of some kind, another is the creation of a list of commands to carry out in some sort of order. The reason I like programing is because it lets me express myself in a manner that is as linear or nonlinear as I choose - code code code.. jump to the end of the file and write a subroutine or two, then get out of the sidebar and go back and code some more, then page up a few times to fill out some logic that I missed the first time around.. you can jump around when programming, and in fact this is a good and desirable thing.
Writing a narrative (like this memory log update) can work like that but I find it very confusing to upload memories in such a way that they were written out of sequence. Of course, when using a text editor to write it's very possible to scroll back, edit a little, go back.. it just feels too odd to me to scroll around editing what are, in a very real sense, parts of my memories. That, and I think that if I used a larger Xterm than 80x25 it might be easier but that's just stubbornness that I need to work on.
Okay. Enough about that.
I've got a few dozen photographs dating back to February that I need to finish editing and put online. Gotta do that soon..
The first funerary showing today was early in the afternoon, between 1400 and 1600 EST/EDT. Lyssa and I got up early because Aunt Sylvia had asked us to help her cook.. what we didn't realise was that she had gotten up a few hours before we did and got everything done that needed done.
With nothing better to do, we headed to the local Sheetz to pick up breakfast sandwiches and coffee and generally make our time of wakefulness usable in some fashion. While waiting for my bagel sandwich, I noticed that much of the hardware there, namely, the cash registers, PIN pads, and touchscreen ordering systems were all hooked together using bright yellow CAT-5 cable, all of it neatly ziptied together and vanishing in the back office. I also noticed a wireless access point (probably 802.11b) mounted to the front wall of the store and hooked up with the very same yellow nework cable. It goes to show that even when you're all the way out in the sticks, just a half hour from the border, you can still find neat things if you keep your eyes open.
The first showing wasn't very well attended beause most of the family and friends you'd expect were working during the day, but the closest folks came to pay their last respects. Grandma Biscan looks good.. the mortician did an excellent job of making her up. She really does look a good fifteen to twenty years younger. Definitely better than the last time I saw her. What caught my attention was her hands, though.. they look the same as last time, even if her face was artfully done. I've never thought about it before, but I felt today what they mean when they say that someone's skin is waxy. It's cold, much colder than one is accustomed to feeling from a pair of human hands.. not to criticise the mortician, it's just one of those things that stands out when you least expect it to.
The usual sorts of familial drama during a time of mourning are also appearing more or less on schedule. I don't want to embarass anyone or wreak any havoc (even though it would be interesting to do so), so I will only say that sometimes tempers flare and tongues sharpen to an uncomfortable degree.
By the time the showing was over, most everyone had headed home to recuperate for a time. Lyssa and I ran out to get a few things while her mother heated up dinner for all of us, shell pasta stuffed with creamed chicken made by a friend of hers, which was a warming and tasty dinner on a day where the skies were grey and overcast and the highest temperature recorded today was in the low sixties (Farenheit). A few short hours later we got dressed up in our Sunday best once more and headed back to the funeral home for the later viewing between 1900 and 2100 EST/EDT. More family and not a few close friends came to this particular showing, which made it, I think, a lot harder on everyone. I wound up talking to a few of Lyssa's mother's crazy friends outside while smoking a cigarette, don't ask me how...
I'm pretty wiped out after today. Lyssa and Marie went off around 2030 EST/EDT tonight, while headed back to read for a while, write, and catch up. The funeral starts tomorrow at 0930 EST/EDT, followed by the requisite dinner and then probably our trip back to Virignia.
So I can't stay away... Signature Generator is up to v1.1 now.
Another interview with Gary McKinnon was posted by the BBC, in which he talks a bit about the methods he used and what, exactly, he was looking for.
I don't have much time to write right now.. Kash and the Lost Boys are still here. I did a lot of running around yesterday getting ready for the funeral on Tuesday, including some shopping, finding stuff to make dinner tonight (it's well into spring and apple cider is getting hard to find), driving Lyssa to and from the mall to get stuff.. I also had a hell of a time finding a dry cleaner in the area that isn't a complete scam. So-called one-day dry cleaning places aren't, at least in northern Virginia. The proprietrix of the first place I went to even took my clothes, a suit and a pair of pants that are in dire need of cleaning due to carrying large amounts of cat hair and threw them into a bag, only to dump them out onto the counter when I asked her if I could get my suit back before Wednesday (Lyssa and I are heading for Pennsylvania tomorrow night).This resulted in a mostly clean suit that is now wrinkled and covered with cat hair. The next two places I went to were similiarly unhelpful, and in fact took up a good two hours of my time that could have been spent doing something more useful, like doing the dishes at home.
While Lyssa napped this afternoon I took Duo, Hiro, and Kash out for ice cream, and wound up at the frozen custard place on the other side of Vienna, Virginia (the place that we found a few months ago during a Saturday afternoon on the town). Service there was remarkably slow this evening; I waited a good ten minutes for a cup of mediocre coffee. An afternoon jaunt turned into a pretty major trip due to how long it took to get anything from the counter. I opted to pass on the yummy looking frozen custard because a real dinner was coming up, and I'd rather have something good for me than something that's tasty but going to take another couple of years off my life.
Lyssa made her famous pork tenderloin for dinner tonight using some of the hot and sweet seasoning mix she'd ordered last week (from the same place that my mother had gotten that care package from over Yule, in fact) - it's amazingly good, and believe you me, when you use that stuff as a rub before baking, the flavour will NOT change overmuch by the time it's done. At least for the hot and sweet seasoning mix, I recommend keeping a glass of milk nearby to give your taste buds a rest.
A few other things have been going on lately but I'm being asked to go to bed. I'll write more later, as time permits.
Unfortunately, we didn't game last night due to how the week went. I didn't have time to write a proper adventure for the game that was supposed to be last night, mostly due to the fact that I was working on a sidebar adventure (a seeking, if you're familiar with Mage) with Hasufin via e-mail for most of the week and wrapped it up Thursday night. Maybe next weekend..
Most of last night after dinner was spent lounging around with Hasufin, Kash, Duo, and Mika.. somehow or another we wound up debating some of the lesser spoken of practical aspects of bionic reconstruction technologies, namely, how much they'd be likely to cost and what all would go into making them cheap enough for widespread use.
This morning Lyssa and I got up far earlier than normal for a Sunday to get everything together to return to Pennsylvania. While Duo and Kash packed their stuff up Lyssa and I yanked most everything out of the kitchen and cleaned things up because the apartment complex was sending exterminators in (which they do every Spring and Fall) on Monday to do their thing.. this requires everything dealing with food be removed from the area. We wound up moving the contents of the kitchen into the bedroom primarily and the library when we ran out of space (well, not so much 'out of space' as 'where can we put the microwave?') and then getting ready to hit the road. Surprisingly, it took less than two hours to get everything moved, get packed, and get the TARDIS going. Lyssa stopped off to pick up her medication as I gassed up (gas prices in northern Virginia broke $3us per gallon this week - ouch!) and threw out the junk that's been accumulating in the back seat.
We ran the TARDIS through the car wash down the road from our apartment complex and then stopped off for lunch at the Dominion Deli, not too far off from the beltway on-ramp.
Wonderful food.. but holy cats, it can lay a powerful hurt on you.
I ordered something simple that I've not had in a while, a black bean
chips fries, and a cup of chili for lunch.
What I recieved, which I didn't expect, was a hand-made black bean veggie
burger that was hot off the griddle and still soft, steak fries the width of my
Swiss army knife, and a full bowl of chili.
Needless to say, I couldn't finish all of it, and didn't even try. My stomach, unused to vegetarian fare, complained the entire way back to Pennsylvania about the sudden influx of unfamiliar proteins and starches, which only settled down about two hours ago, well after arrival. All told, it took us about three and a half hours to make it to Pennsylvania and Lyssa's parents' place, thanks to a shortcut through the mountains that is obvious once you know what you're looking for.
We haven't had much time to do anything since we got here, only enough to get the TARDIS unloaded, pay a visit to close relatives, and go through grandma Biscan's place to find some requested items.
"A feast for fire and a feast for water; a feast for life and a greater feast for death!"
Late last night, Lyssa's grandmother quietly went beyond. She was not conscious for it, she only slowly stopped breathing. Lyssa's aunt was there with her when she passed.
We'll be returning for the funeral tomorrow night.
The Law of Fives is never wrong.
The Department of Homeland Security is doing a bang-up job of keeping airports safe these days with their passenger screening system - it's so good that they're making air travel a living hell for State Department diplomats, dozens of folks with valid US security clearances, 82 year old veterans, and enlisted officers of the US armed forces. They still won't tell anyone how or why they pick the folks they do, only that once you're on the list you're on it for the rest of your life. A few of the people who called up various offices to complain were threatened by those offices - in one case, a woman was told to be careful of what she was saying on the phone or she'd be getting a visit when she least expected it.
I'm double-plus proud to live in this country, what about you?
Donald Rumsfeld is accused of lying by a former CIA analyst on CNN.
"They're made out of meat?"
No, it's safe for work.. someone's made a short film out of a famous sci-fi short story about sentient machines wondering how in the hell an organic entity can think. it's cute.. if you've taken an AI class, you've probably heard it. If not, sit down and give it a watch. It's cute.
The Electronic Frontiers Foundation set up a petition against the RIAA, which continues to extort thousands of dollars from people they think are sharing .mp3 files.. like 70 year old grandmothers who don't even own computers, twelve year olds, and folks who are almost living on the street because they're selling everything they have to settle because they can't afford lawyers to defend themselves. Please sign it and bring a stop to this extortion scheme.
Here's an interesting and frightening report on the state of free speech on the net today. I suggest that everyone at least read the precis and think on it a while.
Oh, the humanity... virus checkers fooled because a single variable name was changed.
It's amazing what you can do when you pick up a boarding pass and start digging a little.
I learned something very important today.
When working on one's firewall remotely, never, under any circumstances, interrupt your firewall script when it's in the middle of running. This will stop it at a bad time, such as between the time that the rules have been erased from memory and the default policy of drop 'em all and let $DEITY sort it out has been applied and the rules that allow access of any kind to services behind the firewall have been applied on top of the default policy.
I made that mistake this morning.
Well, fuck me and marry me young.
I just found out what I'd been doing wrong.
When you register a domain with one of the big registrars, like Network Solutions, you have to register DNSes, Domain Name Servers, with your registrar. The idea is that when you set up your domain, you have to give the registrar the IP addresses of your DNSes as well as the hostnames of your DNSes (which go into your zone files to say that those servers are authoritative, i.e., The Ones To Talk To). If you change the names of your DNSes, you have to go back to your registrar and change the hostnames they have on file.
You also have to do that if you change the IP addresses of your DNSes but leave the hostnames the same.
Guess what I didn't do when I moved the Network back to my apartment.
Altered DNS records tend to take about eight hours to propagate across the global Net. Everything should be right as rain, as the saying has it, by then.
Yes, I know... problems with DNS lately. Some servers out there are caching IP addresses that haven't been used since late 2005 for the Network's hosts (they aren't even mine!), and I'm trying to run down what the hell's happening. Speakeasy is helping me troubleshoot what's going on.
Here's an interesting article about something you might not have considered before: Folks in embargoed countries keeping touch with the rest of the world with MMORPGs, like World of Warcraft. Folks in countries like Iraq, North Korea, and Cuba are players of these services, even though US law states that countries can't make their products available to them (not that this really stops anyone on the Net who gets hold of the software and actually pays their monthly fee one way or another). Technically, the companies based out of the US that run MMORPGs can't allow them to play but as long as the money comes from an account in a country that isn't embargoed, there isn't much that they can really do. There are even reports of people who claim to be stationed overseas playing during their downtime over military networks, the firewalls of which they've managed to figure a way around.
A couple of days ago, Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska tried to force through a bill that would gut and reconstruct the US telecommunications laws that would also have added a number of dubious provisions because they were hidden way down in the Flyspeck 3 text. Cable franchising law would have been jettisoned, which would directly benefit AT&T and Verizon by allowing them to enter the cable television industry thirty days after the bill passed as well as eliminating cable rate regulations all across the board. Text that would implement the Broadcast Flag laws that we've been fighting for years was also slipped into the fine print of the bill, which would have been a low blow.
Pete Ashdown, professional geek, former rave DJ, and founder of the first indie ISP in the state of Utah is gunning for the Senate position held by Senator Orrin Hatch, who is widely said to be a representative of Disney and not Utah due to the bills he supports and their origins. Hatch sponsored the DMCA and went on the record that he'd like to make it legal to destroy the computers of file sharers a few years ago, which didn't do much to endear him to the Net. Ashdown, on the other hand, supports the rights of artists and users first and corporations second and opposes Digital Rights Management technologies.
Definitely an individual to keep an eye on.
They want to remake Revenge of the Nerds. Sad.
There is at this time a petition before the US Court of Appeals downtown which asks that corporate and school networks be subject to CALEA, which is going to drive a large number of sysadmins utterly mad because of all the changes that would have to be made to their respective infrastructures to make it possible for law enforcement to silently wiretap any and all traffic at the drop of a hat. The FCC ruling of last year extended CALEA to broadband ISPs and VoIP companies, but didn't make a distinction between public and private networks.. therein lies the rub. If that CALEA ruling is ruled to extend to private networks, then potentially any computer network that moves a decent amount of data (such as a school's residential network) would have to be made CALEA compliant. There is even talk of requiring hardware supplied by schools to be CALEA compliant, which would give any academic admin roaring hives because of how much money it would cost to retrofit everything.
A few days ago the Defense Security Service announced to defense contractors that they aren't accepting requests for security clearances anymore due to fiscal reasons. Maybe their budget won't allow them to do so many background checks anymore.
WIPO, the United Nations' World Intellectual Property Organisation is meeting this week in Geneva, Switzerland, and they're working on the Broadcast Treaty again. The latest version of said treaty gives broadcasting organisations 50 copyright over the content they handle, regardless of how it might be licensed originally. The Broadcast Treaty also mandates the implementation of broadcast flag technology in every country that it covers, which means that someone else gets to tell you what you can do with what you watch on TV at night. Someone got the bright idea to put webcasting of all kinds back into the treaty, which covers streaming audio and video and probably podcasting of both kinds as well (they're still trying to decide that). The way it's being pitched this time around, anyone who webcasts can apply for the same rights and privileges that the big media companies would have as long as you register with WIPO.
This is beautiful!
The first batch of hardware for Leandra's upgrade, a new mainboard and graphics card, has been ordered. It should come in in a few days' time, at which time I'll then start sharking for a good price on a dual-core CPU.
29,105,039 hits. Time for some follow-up.
Speaking of follow-up, or in this case follow through, the US government allocated $243mus to construct health clinics in Iraq to take care of the folks who were without resources of any kind or who had been injured in the fighting. Of the 150 that had been planned and promised only twenty are actually done, and even those are looking pretty shabby. The report written by the GAO has lots of excuses in it, such as the local contractors welshing on the deals and lack of materials, but there's also the matter of the money just going missing. Inspections were mostly done from passing cars. There's also the matter of equipment purchased going missing... of over 9700 assault rifles purchased, for example, only 3,015 are accounted for. Where'd the other ones go? Nobody knows.
Richard M. Stallman is charging for autographs now?
A good news article on the recent resurgance of diseases that most people should have been vaccinated for years ago.
The number of
secret not-quite-search warrants National
Security Letters, which allowed the FBI to gather information on citizens, from
their banking records to their net.traffic: 3,501 and climbing.
Overclocking the Super Nintendo.
Just a quick question before I head off to bed: At Midnight tonight with Hasufin and Butterfly, I heard a rumour that Iris would be playing somewhen around 4 July 2006 at Nation before it closed for good. I don't know if this is actually going to happen or not - it's not on their website.. but it IS on the website for Nation/Alchemy. 4 July 2006 at Freaks United 2006.
Iris is playing DC again.
That strange keening sound you now hear is me squeeing like a rabid Fullmetal Alchemist fangirl walking in on some hot cosplay nookie.
We are so there.
Okay. Off to bed now. I'll write about what's been going on lately tomorrow when I wake up.
Okay... Friday afternoon I got Lyssa to the Metro station to head to her brother's place so they could drive back to Pittsburgh to see their grandmother. Grandma Biscan's a tough lady; she's held on tooth and nail and while she hasn't gotten better, exactly, she's holding on to life with every limb she can spare. I haven't heard anything more about how she's doing.. Lyssa and Grant have been taking turns spending time with her, and are making sure that their parents and aunt go home and get both good food (as opposed to hospital food, which seems designed to keep people there for as long as possible) and rest.
This isn't an easy time.
I slept most of Friday. I pulled a few all-nighters for work last week, which turned my sleep schedule upside down and seemed to have absconded with a few essential parts of my consciousness, those most strongly associated with the left hemisphere of the brain. I slept most of Friday, leaving only to do a little shopping and run to the bank to take care of a few things. After dropping Lyssa off and hanging out with Ellen for a bit (she was in the area and dropped a few things off for Lyssa) I curled up for another circadian rhythm destroying nap, only to be awakened early in the evening by a page from Hasufin, who wanted to know what I was doing that night.
I wasn't doing anything in particular, so we headed out to Amphora to get dinner and relax for the first time in a while. One thing about late night maintenance runs, you can't really relax during them unless you want things to go horribly wrong. You really need to be on your game. Another thing is that it's very difficult to relax afterward. Eventually, we settled on a night of strawberry daqueries and anime. We planned on relaxing Friday night, knocking back a few, and watching something interesting.
After getting a few disks burned we got our poisons of choice ready and sat back to watch Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children. I filled Hasufin in on the backstory of the movie, which is basically the plot of the original Playstation game and started the subtitled version of the movie. I watched the dubbed version of the movie just after buying the two-disk set, and I have to be honest, the voice actors sounded... bored. They didn't really put any emotion into their lines. Even Sephiroth, ready to kill his greatest enemy, sounded disinterested in what was going on. The subtitled version is very well done. Some of the translations are better than those in the fansub, and as such it's easier to figure out what's really going on. Hasufin tells me that some nuances were missed in the translation, though incontext they make a lot of sense.
All told, around 0130 EST/EDT on Saturday, we had to call it a night because both of us had lifestyle maintenance to take care of. I dragged myself out of bed six hours later to wake up, get cleaned up, and head to the apartment complex's main office to pick up a package and renew our lease for another year so we could get the smaller of two possible rent hikes. The renewal didn't take long at all, just a moment. Finding the package in the back office took a while longer but went smoothly.
The package in question was one of the taxtime inventory clearout surprise packages sold as a special by A Different Drum records a few weeks ago. Thirty CDs for $30us is a good deal, and there's a lot of good stuff in there, some of it rather rare. Included there was a copy of volume three of Cosmicity: The Pure Sessions, another copy of Once Is Not Enough by Count 2 Infinity and John's Undertow EP, a Wideband Network CD-5 (Show Me the Love), and an album that I'm definitely looking forward to listening to: Synthetic Broadway, which is an album of a number of ADD's artists covering various Broadway showtunes.
I can't wait to hear Spray's cover of Mean Green Mother From Outer Space.
I mostly hung around the apartment on Saturday, cleaning stuff up, putting stuff away, and catching up on my reading.. Mark and Butterfly arrived at Hausfin's place a little before 1700 local time, so I got changed and walked down there, only to discover that I didn't know exactly when we'd be heading out to Midnight.... one might say that I was a little overdressed for killing a few hours.
We wound up driving into Maryland to go to The Crystal Fox, which is a pagan supply store in Maryland which is surprisingly well stocked... their book collection is excellent, with a much lower fluff-to-useful stuff ratio than I'm used to and a diverse array of just about everything else. By that, I mean that your average Joe or Jane walking down the street exploring will probably find something interesting that they'll be up for purchasing, which you don't really get at all with stores that cater to this particular subculture.
I picked up yet another book (Magick of Reiki by Christopher Penczak - as if I don't have enough to read right now!) and a couple of pins to add to my war jacket. There's a lot of stuff there that I'd like to check out, but my body's low blood sugar kept me on edge most of the time, and after we decamped we headed for the Jungle Grill in College Park, Maryland for dinner. Their food, while it's mostly burgers and fries, is excellent. I highly recommend the sweet potato fries with marshmallow syrup. Seriously.
After dinner and a quick trip on the beltway back home, we dropped Mark off to go home, because he's not much of a club-goer, and got dressed to go out and headed for the metro station by way of an ATM or two and a side trip to help a woman who was in need of a tank of gas to get to Richmond.
I'm expecting payback one way or another. Money would be nice but on my way back to Hasufin's car I stopped to have a little chat with the CPU of her car's engine... but enough about that.
The trip on the Metro to go downtown was about an hour in length as the bridge and tunnel folks headed home for the night to do whatever it is that they do on the weekends. Finding Midnight was surprisingly easy: Get off the Metro at Farragut North, make a right at the corner, and it'll be on the other side of the street. Midnight reminds me a lot of Babylon, a club in Pittsburgh that I used to go to in the early 1990's... it's in the basement of a building, it's dark, it's lit with ice-blue Christmas bulbs and neon, and it's cozy. The folks there are by and large very friendly (I met four or five people within minutes of walking in the door because they recognised my TARDIS key pendant), the music is excellent (where else can you hear the Hora followed by Iris?), and the club, once you learn where everything is, is easily navigable.
Butterfly, true to form, ran into three or four people she knew from other places (it seemed like you couldn't swing a cat without hitting two or three OTO members on Saturday) but spent a good portion of the night on the dance floor. I did my fair share of cutting a rug down there last night, also... Hasufin, new to the area, spent most of his time people watching and somehow managing to get free drinks for us (which I had to decline, seeing as how I had my money's worth of Goldschlager in me for the night).
We headed out around 0130 EST this morning because the Metro closes somewhen around 0200 or 0300, and we had to get home to get a decent amount of sleep because all of us have been unusually busy these past few days.
Only in Pennsylvania...
Since when is it possible that a bill doesn't have to pass both House and Senate to become a law?
Yes, I'm working another all-nighter tonight.
Remember helpwinthisbet.com? The counter is nearly at 3,000,000 hits as of 0232 EST.
MacGyver really can fix anything... even lag in World of Warcraft.
When you've got a crisis that has to be handled, chances are you'll call in a professional or two if the problem's outside of your sphere of influence; this is practically SOP in the corporate world, especially when it comes to security breaches of one kind or another. Most companies these days, to be frank, don't have their own CSIRTs (computer security incident response teams). In the state of Georgia, a law was just passed (but not yet activated) which requires everyone who does freelance investigation work to be licensed as a private investigator.. this includes information security consultants, freelance or not due to how the Georgia state government defines a private investigator. How many info.sec folks have the background they're calling for and the certification? I'm willing to bet not bloody many of them. The reason this came about was because an information forensics specialist named Scott Moulton was supposed to go to court earlier this month in connection with a case he was working on, and the prosecution managed to get his testimony excluded because he wasn't licensed as a PI. The Georgia Association of Professional Private Investigators stated that if someone was to examine evidence, analyze it, and testify in court then that someone had to have a PI license.
This does not bode well for information security down there. Firstly, this puts a run on the supply of info.sec professionals down there at a time where net.crime is a serious problem. Secondly, the status of info.sec professionals called in from other states to work is now in question. Both of these leave a large number of companies in the state of Georgia up a certain creek without a means of propulsion in the event that they get hit. Thirdly, even if all of them did set up a CSIRT to handle stuff like this, would the evidence even be admissible unless their CSIRT folks were licensed PI's?
The Four Quarters Farm in Pennsylvania has set up a web database for ride sharing.
FEMA did such a piss-poor job during Hurricane Katrina that a Senate committee is talking about dismantling it. Conspiracy theorists, embarassed that their favourite arm of the New World Order(tm) is about as threatening as a water weenie, are still scrambling to find another organisation to keep a nervous eye on.
The EFF has published another protest ad to the content control companies of the world.
Mental note: Set up an NNTP-to-SMTP gateway on Lucien. The idea of having a mailing list called "alt.sex.bondage.hamsters.and.duct.tape (at) hostname.net" strikes me as funny.
Remember a couple of days ago when it came out that the state of South Carolina was trying to ban sex toys? G. Ralph Davenport, Junior, the Representative behind this measure, is trying to amend section 24-3-20(a) of the 1976 code of South Carolina to make it legal to ship drug offenders to prisons in other countries. Smoke a joint, lose your citizenship and wind up in jail somewhere else. Is it just me, or am I the only one having Midnight Express flashbacks?
Help a brother out.
Here's the command I'm running on all of my shell servers: for ((;;)) ; do wget -O- http://www.helpwinthisbet.com/ > /dev/null && sleep 15 ; done
An artist chronocled making a cover for a reprint of War of the Worlds. Awesome use of random stuff.
This is hardcore: Webcomic tattoos.
Wow.. sage advice for twenty-somethings in the twenty-first century. A lot of this stuff is common sense, but popular culture has a strange way of stripping one of all common sense, as it relates to one's day to day life in the year 2006 of the common era. Yes, it's from Kuro5hin; that doesn't mean that you should immediately ignore it because it's known for having enough sarcasm to make a bard cry.
Something very odd happened in the area this week. Someone at some company was diagnosed with http://kidshealth.levinechildrenshospital.org/parent/infections/bacterial_viral/mumps.html">mumps, and is in the hospital for treatment. The individual's office and personal effects (I'm not naming names because I wouldn't out the individual even if I knew his/her name) have been decontaminated, but still everyone is advised to not enter said office.
When last I checked, children had to be vaccinated for measles, mumps, and rubella (the MMR vaccination sequence) before they could even go to school most everywhere in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control maintain a database of laws by state, in fact. My home state of Pennsylvania as well as the state of Virginia require the MMR sequence, as well as a number of other innoculations before one can attend school. I find it very odd that there are people that were not vaccinated in this day and age. Unless you can produce the paperwork you can't go to school, it's as simple as that.
Logically, just about every adult of working age these days should also have been vaccinated.
I've heard no rumours of new strains of the virus that causes mumps, so I feel that the possibility of an existing immunisation failing are remote; I've not yet done a great deal of research on this but I think that it'll support that statement.
There are three kinds of death, it is said: Heart death, brain death, and being off the Net.
Leandra, due to a loose connector, and hence I, were suffering from a slight case of the third kind. We got better.
When I first moved down to DC, I was living in Maryland and commuting to and from work every day. My average travel time was ninety minutes each way, which is a lot when you consider the fact that it was a journey of only twenty-seven miles. Early in the morning it wasn't unusual to see people reading the paper, talking on the phone, drinking coffee, or eating breakfast because no one was actually going anywhere. When you're stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic and moving maybe one mile each hour (distance, not speed), you can do that without too much trouble. There are, however, people whose commute makes my mine look like a trip to the corner for milk - folks so busy that they won't even stop off for coffee unless there are less than three people waiting in line. People so busy that they absolutely cannot stop to do anything until they hit the traffic jam because they know that they'll be stuck there, sometimes for hours at a time. All this to make it to work at 0800... and back home about twelve hours later. Appointments are being thrown to hell as a result, also; some people can't make it unless it's before 0500 or well into the evening, after everyone's already home. Businesses are catering to a lifestyle where most of your life is spent either at work or en route to or from work: Fast food is booming, and products designed to sit in or on dashboards to make it easier to eat on the road. Sheetz has started installing keypads to order at their gas pumps in certain metropolitan areas so that you can order, fill up on petrol, and get your food without having to wait for it.
Ask yourself this: Is it all worth it? Is it worth it to run yourself into the ground every week just to go to work, and not even for overtime at that? Why do we put ourselves through it? There are viable options these days so that many people, though not all (let's be realistic here) don't have to go through this. More and more people telecommute, and to good effect. The only reason that people feel they have to work 0800-1700 is simply convention: You can get just as much done if you work from 2000 until 0400, for example. Same with 0200-1200 (which is what I wind up doing from time to time, though not due to my (much shorter, these days) commute).
Something that I think we'll start seeing in the next five years are more companies cutting deals with the owners of apartment complexes and hotels to put up workers in the evenings. Some bigger companies, like Amazon (I've been told) require certain elements of their staff, if they have on-call duty, to be within thirty minutes' driving time from the facility; sometimes this means that those workers are put up in nearby hotels to ensure that thirty-minute trip in case of an emergency. Seeing as how more and more companies are shooting for five-nines uptime (99.999% availability) and putting staff on-call with a time limit, perhaps this will become a more commonly used tactic. Perhaps making corporate housing more common will happen for the same reason. Companies have less and less problem making available to their workers exercise space, showers, and sometimes even room to crash after a long shift, this would be the next logical step.
The University of Texas at Austin was cracked again, this time to the tune of 197,000 pilfered student records. They don't know how many records had Social Security numbers in them..
After spending the afternoon with my folks at the old homestead on Saturday afternoon, I packed up a few boxes of stuff from my old lab (most of my models and some collectibles, a bag or two of parts, and my synthesizer(!)), loaded it all into the TARDIS, and set off for the city core and the House of Pendragon, where I met up with Alexius and Diane, who I haven't seen in far too long (I rarely seem to hook up with folks when I go back for the weekend). We planned to go to dinner that night with Lyssa but difficulties in location required us to change our plans slightly to make it all work. It wouldn't have made any sense to drive out to Lyssa's folks' place, pick up Lyssa, drive back to Pittsburgh, meet up with 'lex and Diane.. so I met up with 'lex and Diane and we caravaned out to the Pennsylvania/West Virginia border to pick up Lyssa, who was sound asleep by the time we arrived around 1820 EST.
We wound up heading into Waynesburg to go to Groovy's (46 South Morris Street; Waynesburg, PA; 15370), which is a tiny, very hard to find restaurant on a side street that serves food of various sorts (you've got Mexican, American, Italian, and seafood on the menu, and they are known locally for their deep fried dill pickle spears (which are excellent, in my opinion)). Lyssa was still mostly asleep so we had to drive around for a half-hour or so until we found Groovy's, but once we did we got in about an hour before they started to close up for the night. We ordered our meals (try their Mexican if you find your way there through some stroke of luck) and sat there for a few hours, eating, talking, and laughing. Catching up with one another and having a good time. I can't think of a better way to spend a Saturday night.
Groovy's: One and one-half flareguns. The service is attentive and helpful, the food is great, and the deep fried pickles are to die for (they're definitely not good for your heart). My biggest, and only gripe, to be honest, is trying to find the place. Go here if you're in southwestern Pennsylvania, down by the border.
We eventually decided that I was going to head home early on Sunday while Lyssa and Grant went back to the hospital to spend more time with their grandmother. I understand why the family doesn't want me there - their grandmother isn't in good health and, to be frank, she's away more than she's in her body, and a new face would probably be scary for her. Still, I wish that I could have seen her.. I left around 1130 EST Sunday morning and took the scenic route back down to DC, arriving around 1430 EST ultimately. On the way down, I saw a good bit of West Virginia and the rural part of northern Virginia. It's very pretty land, with lots of open, blue sky and warm wind. I noticed something as I was heading south: The foliage there is badly damaged, and does not appear to be growing back. For every tree that showed green leaves or a full complement of pine needles, there were at least ten other trees that were, in short, dead. Stripped bare and bone-white where the bark's either fallen off or been torn away. You don't see much grass down that way, either, instead lots of bare, cracked soil. The land alongside the highways looks and feels dead. Even farther back, you'll see more dead deciduous trees than you will live trees of any sort, and patchy masses of what appears to be regular lawn grass. It felt very sad, very lonely. Very still, regardless of the traffic heading in both directions.I will also say that I couldn't see very far back, for reasons which are obvious when you're the driver of a car moving at 70 miles per hour down a two lane highway (70 is the standard posted speed limit in those areas, to lay some of your fears to rest and awaken new ones). The plant life in those areas could very well be healthier once you get away from the roadside, what with all the dust kicked up and vehicle exhaust, laden with toxins of all kinds.
Once I made it past the Eastern Continental Divide (elevation: 2610 feet; location: Somewhere in West Virginia) something over the hill caught my eye and gave me hope: Someone's been planting conifers out there and appears to be taking good care of them. The dead trees are being cut down and hauled away and neat rows of pines dot the landscape. It might be a Christmas tree farm, but something tells me that at least some of those trees are going to be left alone.
After I got home and unloaded the TARDIS, I headed out again to do some grocery shopping for the week to come. In all, I hit all but one grocery store in the area to find what I needed, which took a couple of hours. After getting home and putting the groceries away, I took some time out to read a bit and work on some research that I've been doing. At the same time, I finally watched the almost-three-hours-long extended edition of Dune, from 1984 by Dino deLaurentis. It's not bad, I have to be honest. There are more voice-overs than in the original cut of it (think of the original cut of Bladerunner), the opening is different, and you get more background on the universe of Dune. It was definitely worth the sometimes annoying narrator's voiceovers (definitely annoying if you are already familiar with the story). The extras on the DVD included footage that wasn't even in the extended version, which thought was interesting.
I started dinner around 2000 EST last night, jasmine rice in the rice cooker, an oriental vegetable mix, and tofu in a curry sauce that turned out much more strong than I'd planned for.
Lyssa arrived from the Metro station around 2100 EST; she'd driven back with her brother and caught the Metro from his apartment building to our neighborhood. Unfortunately, she'd had dinner on the road and declined the curry. Oh, well. It's in the fridge.
Something odd is goinig on in San Deigo, California: Sonic booms that are shaking windows, cars, and everything else but no one's seen the planes doing it. The FAA doesn't have any flights in its records that would be connected with this. Even more unusual, this is happening in other places in the US, like Mississippi and Maine. Earthquakes have been ruled out, also.
The state of South Carolina is trying to make it illegal to sell sex toys. The proposed penalty for buying or selling sex toys (considered obscene) would be up to five years in jail and up to a $10kus fine. The law would allow police to seize the materials in question... do they want to hoard them all for themselves?
As if the DMCA hasn't been a big enough problem, the US government is considering amending copyright law further, in such a way that would make the DMCA look like US antitrust law in comparison. Of course, the *AA are backing it even though it's just a draft at the present time; it's called the Intellectual Property Act of 2006. The bill has stanzas which do a lot of different things, sort of like it was assembled out of a wish list of the powers that be which are afraid of the Net. For example, the bill would make it a felony to just try to violate copyright and fail, punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Tools of any kind that could be used to circumvent copyright or copy protection measures ("make, import, export, obtain control of, or possess") would be made illegal. That means that Perl could be considered illegal. Trying to remove monitoring software installed on a machine could be considered illegal. Wiretapping in investigation of "copyright crimes" would be permissible. Copyright law would apply to works that weren't registered with the US Copyright Office. The penalty for copyright infringement woudl increase to 10 years in prison on the commercial scale, and on the non-commercial scale if the value is over $1kus. Oh, and let's not forget civil asset forfeiture: Anything used in copyright violation can and will be confiscated and destroyed, in the same way as belongings seized by the DEA during drug raids are.
What the hell are they trying to do??? Time to start pulling wires and calling your state representatives. Yesterday.
Want to see how your representatives voted on net.neutrality? Look here.
Around 1200 EST today Lyssa and I parted ways for our respective journeys: She was headed to the hospital to see her grandmother while I was headed back to Pittsburgh to spend time with my family. I made it back some time after 1300 EST today and visited the homestead for a couple of hours. Dataline's doing much better these days: After the fall a few weeks ago, she's walking on her own now, with neither walker nor cane to support her ankle after the damage it took. She's getting used to taking synthroid to regulate her metabolism, but she's not too pleased about having to monitor her blood sugar a few times a day. What I thought were coffee stains on her fingertips were actually deep bruises left by the lancets used to draw blood for testing.
My grandfather's doing well these days, I am glad to say. He isn't able to do much anymore, given that his vision and hearing are quite poor and now he gets out of breath readily. He's been spending his time enjoying his retirement and petting the cat, who still dotes on him like she did when she was a kitten though she studiously avoids everyone else who approaches.
My mother and I spent the afternoon catching up on everything that's been going on around the house and with the family.. I don't know if I'll be able to make the family reunion this year but the invitation's been extended. The house is looking good. I filled Dataline in on what's been happening down here with respect to this, that, and the other thing.
My bike's almost fifteen years old - the tyres are rotted out and I'm not sure if the brakes are trustworthy or not. The chain and sprockets are rusty, and would have to be either replaced or soaked in kerosene to get them clean. I doubt my abilities to reassemble them into a safely usable apparatus also. It would be easier to go shopping for a new bicycle at some point in the near future, especially because I'll be riding it to and from work with hardware strapped to my back. I hate to say it, but I've asked my family to dispose of my old bike - by giving it to Goodwill for reconstruction if possible, but to throw it out of they have to. I also picked through some more stuff in my old lab, signed off on throwing some stuff away, and packed a few more boxes into the TARDIS to take back with me tomorrow.
The prognosis is in on Lyssa's grandmother: She has a staph infection in her leg, and it's going to reach the bone sooner or later. Surgery will not be performed on her; I don't think that anyone thinks that she would survive an operation at this time, as she is too physically weak to handle the shock. If and when the infection reaches the bone, the pain will really begin and she will be put on morphine.. then it will be only a matter of time. She was in the early stages of pulmonary edema today, but a diuretic was administered and she responded positively in a very short period of time. Said one person to me, drowning in one's body fluids wasn't a very nice way to go..
Definitely something to think about when eating dinner.
My body's still not adjusted to the new environment: The rain and wind and new strains of pollen and whatnot have snarled my sinuses up but good. It's also a good bit more humid than I'm used to, and the heat's slowing me down. I feel like I should be taking a shower right now. Hell, I feel like I should be doing anything to get my mind running normally again. I feel sleepy.. my sleep schedule is messed up, as Lyssa observed a few minutes ago. Maybe I'll go to sleep soon...
Well, it's just a minute or two shy of midnight on the eastern seaboard (so I'm posting a little early, big deal) and Lyssa and I are back in Pittsburgh. Lyssa's grandmother is of venerable age: Her body's pushing ninety, she's very frail, and a cut on her leg became infected sometime in the recent past, and she's been hospitalised for treatment. I don't know if gangrene has set in, but it's definitely something that they're concerned about. They're considering surgery to treat the infected cut.. no one knows if she's going to make it, or how much longer she'll be alive.
Lyssa wanted to spend some time with her.
Earlier this week I started pulling wires and after I got off work this afternoon I headed for home and threw some stuff into a bag. We loaded up the TARDIS and set course for the state of Pennsylvania. We left around 1630 EST on Friday afternoon, and promptly got stuck in traffic on the beltway. The road warriors of DC, whose legal residences are in Pennsylvania but live five days out of every seven in Virginia, Maryland, or Washington, DC were heading for home as fast as they could, which actually worked out to be at a speed of five miles per hour. It took about ninety minutes to make it to route 270 North.
We stopped off for dinner around 1900 EST at Cracker Barrel and had a fast supper on the road as the rain rolled in and began to soak the lands south of the Mason-Dixon Line.
Travel back north was badly impeded by the fog that filled the air for much of the trip. Our speed averaged about twenty miles per hour for a couple of hours.. we finally got in around 2330 EST safe and sound.
The price of gas in DC has been rising steadily for the past week. When Lyssa and I departed, the cheapest, lowest quality gas we could find was $3us per gallon, and goes up from there. Thankfully, the TARDIS gets excellent gas mileage, so the trip home took less than a half talk of gas. Still.. it's a hit to the pocketbook.
The reason for this is because the price of crude oil hit $75us per fifty-five gallon barrel today. Thanks to a few remarks by certain individuals in the US media this week about the situation in Iran pertaining to nuclear material, the oil market is shaken up, and prices are headed in the general direction of the International Space Station. On top of that, the biggest refineries in the US are still bouncing back from the hurricanes that hit the southern coast of the United States last year, which hasn't helped the situation any.
I'm going to check out my old ten-speed when I get to my old lab and see if it can ever be repaired. If it can, I might strip it down a bit and load it into the TARDIS to take back with me.
Also going on in Pennsylvania, an empty flatbed truck carrying half a million US dollars in duffel bags was stopped by security forces at a nuclear power plant. The drivers claim stupidity. No one's claimed ownership of the confiscated fortune in small bill yet.
Let this be a lesson to you: Always, ALWAYS research the names you plan to give your children!
Somebody's been reverse engineering Ad-Aware by Lavasoft and some interesting things have been discovered.
I'm very impressed by this: Using Nintendo Gameboys to compose and play music.
It's one thing to have a loophole in your security but quite another to find one and force your staff to sign NDAs that prohibit them from ever talking about them. Wackenhut Security (yep, the cammo dudes), which is employed by the Department of Homeland Security to protect their installations had its employees do just that to keep them from talking about anything they deem sensitive, which includes a couple of major security breaches at DHS that leaked out to the media. These security breaches must have been pretty major - Wackenhut missed out on a couple of big DHS contracts as a result. Employees that didn't sign the NDAs could have been fired; this was presumably to keep them from leaking more details about the security loopholes to the media. The bugaboo here is the term "sensitive but unclassified", which is a catch-all classification for stuff that could be potentially embarassing or annoying if it got out. It can also technically be applied to anything without going through a process of analysis to determine how sensitive the data in question is. Think of it as the duct-tape-across-the-mouth of random information that people talk about at the coffee maker, and when you consider the stuff that people anywhere talk about at the coffee maker or in the bathroom.. hell, it only makes sense, at least until they get whatever it is fixed up.
Whenever they get around to fixing the security holes they found, anyway.
Happy 4/20, everyone.
Oh, and happy anniversary, Zard Biomatrix and Liz! Congratulations on four years of marriage!
The US government updated its list of Guantanamo Bay detainees, bringing the confirmed prisoner count up to 558.
How safely does your bank handle net.usage? This is by no means an exhaustive list but of the bigger ones, it'll tell you which ones do and don't have secure login facilities.
Fruitcake: The immortal gift.
Database system giant Oracle has released a bundle of critical updates for v10i which patches thirty-six separate security vulnerabilities, some of which have been known about for almost eight hundred days. Some folks are finally releasing their exploits for these holes, but for every one that gets posted, nobody knows how many others have been privately known about and used for the same period of time..
Some of the people the FBI got in touch with about their attempts to get hold of journalist Jack Anderson's files have weighed in on the subject, and they don't have anything nice to say, even though they said it diplomatically. The Anderson family refused to allow the FBI to confiscate documents, even to "review temporarily" (which sounds a lot like "investigative confiscation"). Holes in the FBI's story and reasoning are also exposed by folks who actually knew what Anderson did (like the fact that he didn't keep "reporter's notes" wherever he went, instead keeping everything in his head until it came time to write the story). This is interesting stuff - make the time to sit down and read it today.
I need one or two of these at home.
Happy Bicycle Day!
In December of 2005, Jack Anderson, who was known as a reporter in DC that would go to great lengths to find a story, passed away. He left his files, some 200-plus document storage boxes of information that he'd collected from his contacts throughout the government over the years, to George Washington University. Anderson specialised in muckraking, digging up the information that some people wanted to keep secret and published it in his syndicated column. He pissed off a lot of people over the years with some stuff he covered, such as Watergate and the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The FBI wants to go through them before anyone else can to censor information they deem is 'top secret', which very well might constitute covering the asses of some powerful people who are still in power in this country. The author of this article makes the observation that this isn't unusual for the current regeime in the US, because a concerted push to classify information that was formerly publically available has been underway since at least 2001. A number of people, including some journalism professors, were also the subjects of visits by the FBI, and they were a little shaken up by this.
Didn't they once do something like this in Russia? Keeping everything hidden.. visiting people who write things that they consider a threat.. going through documents and making them disappear.. secret B&E runs to keep tabs on what's going on (made legal by the USA PATRIOT Act)...
IBM's published some practical information for coders out there who are getting ready to port their code to 64-bit Linux. There are a few gotchas in here, so take note if you're going to upgrade.
Electronics giant Philips has patented a technology that makes it impossible to change the channel to dodge adverts. Current cable TV technology implements something called MHP (multimedia home platform), which is the messaging system that sends flagging data along with the audiovisual data that lets viewers call up summaries and schedules with their remote controls. Digital cable customers are no doubt familiar with this. Philips has put forth modifications that would make it impossible to change the channel until the ads are over.
What's next? Not being allowed to turn off the TV until the ads are over?
Holy shit. InSoc's back in business. To wit: Kurt Harland is not only married but expecting a child soon, the rest of InSoc has been jamming quite a bit since that show in New York last year, and they've got two new members, Christopher Anton (vocals) and Sonja Myers (keyboards). They've got some new material written and InSoc is considering going on tour. Judging from the comments of some folks who are music afficionados, and a few others who are in the music industry, opinions are mixed... it's way too soon to predict how InSoc version... 5.0? 6.0?.. will turn out.
Spring has come to the DC area, and the price of gas is climbing a few cents every day. Last night I stopped off to tank up at the Shell station on the highway, which tends to have the cheapest gas in the area, and discovered that they were completely out of 87 octane, which is the least expensive of all gasoline blends. That was mildly annoying.
I am now considering getting a bicycle to commute to and from work because I would initially spend a good bit of money buying the bike, but would save money on the long run because I wouldn't be buying as much petrol every week. Up to a certain point, I'd be able to ride the bike to the store to go shopping, also, which would save money.
I'm not sure how much the nuclear hullabaloo in Iran has to do with it, but the oil companies love reasons to crank up the price of gas (and conveniently forget to lower it back to what it used to be)... even though the US gets most of its crude oil from South America and not the Middle East. Crude oil is, around this time, going for about $72.20us per 55-gallon barrel, and it continues to climb.
We are definitely not driving to HOPE this year. Or SalonCon.
Tom Cruise is at it again - he's announced that he's going to eat his child's placenta after his wife gives birth. I wonder if he realises that usually it's the mother that does this for nutritional reasons...
Geez... how many people think that photographing public property or things on display is illegal, anyway?? It isn't as if, oh, someone walking down the sidewalk can't remember where a friggin' window is or anything.
The Billboard Liberation Front struck again in San Francisco, California.
Interesting. In running a whois on an IP address, I found the following comments in the domain registration records:
Comment: For Abuse Issues, email firstname.lastname@example.org. NO ATTACHMENTS. Include IP Comment: address, time/date, message header, and attack logs. Comment: For Subpoena Request, email email@example.com with "SUBPOEN A" in Comment: the subject line. Law Enforcement Agencies ONLY, please.
US tax laws change every year, and sometimes from month to month depending on what direction the wind's blowing in downtown DC. This, however, should make you sit up and take notice: The IRS is making it leagal for people who prepare taxes and keep books to sell sensitive information to information brokers and marketing firms. If identity theft wasn't a problem before, it sure as hell will be when that happens... the way it's being written, whomever prepares the tax forms would have to obtain written permission to release the data, but who reads each and every line of their paperwork? Thankfully a couple of senators are already making a stink over it, rightly stating that once the data's been sold, it could then be resold to people who don't keep it safe.
The state of Ohio is not only considering makeing abortion illegal, but it wants to make it a felony for women to go to a different state to have an abortion. Ohio House bill #228, the brainchild of Tim Brinkman, will also make it illegal to help a woman arrange an abortion, and any who do so will be charged as well. The bill hasn't been voted on yet, but it is definitely one to keep an eye on.
Speaking of things to keep an eye on, I've been watching stuff like this unfold for a while, though I'm not in a position to do anything, really, about it. That's the problem with lurking...
I read a couple of Usenet newsgroups, among the the alt.gothic.* hierarchy. One of the frequent posters in there is a woman named Gia, who cultivated friendships with other posters through Usenet postings and presumably e-mail and other communication methods. A few weeks ago, someone stalked her and took her out. When last I heard she was still in the hospital and not likely to go out in public anytime soon.
Convergence is the yearly net.goth convention and festival held in North America, as background.
At Convergence XII, held in New Orleans, Louisiana last weekend, a woman was jumped and badly injured by a man named Will Hunt, who was apparently known to the woman. She was not only thrown to the ground but she was stomped on. Her facial injuries are extensive.
A few pictures were posted to the Net, which I will link to here.
I will only say this: They look familiar.
Information on one William Hamlet Hunt can be found here, here, and word's getting around in this post.
Anyone have any information? Anyone know this guy? Call the New Orleans Police Department and fill 'em in.
Happy day-after-Easter, everyone. I hope that you didn't have too much candy yesterday, and that your kids' sugar buzzes didn't drive you off the deep end.
Oh, and happy Black Monday 2006, residents of the United States of America. Did you get your tax forms done?
Net.law in China has changed, and not for the better. A new law was passed there that makes it illegal to run an e-mail server that hasn't been registered with the Chinese government. Given how they're trying to crack down on net.communication of all kinds in China, I seriously doubt that it's to prevent proliferation of spam. The law also makes it illegal to discuss electronic security matters via e-mail.. one would think that this was to stop crackers from conversing, but when did a few laws ever stop that? About the only thing that would do is make it difficult for legitimate security research to get done. The Net's already got enough security problems.
I guess it really is true: On the Net, you really can find a community dedicated to the strangest things. Like fanfics about McDonalds breakfast food. (safe for work)
A fire suppression system test in an airplane hanger at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota went horribly wrong, filling the entire hangar to a depth equivelent to two stories with fire retardant foam. The foam then began to spill out of the building onto the tarmac.
Strong crypto will be a part of the anti-copy protection scheme the MPAA, RIAA, and other media organisations will require all home entertainment hardware manufacturers to implement soon... the idea behind this is that you won't be able to jump a computer with a video capture card or a VCR in between your cable box and TV anymore so that you can't make a recording of whatever it is that you're watching. Well, that crypto isn't so strong after all - a guy named Ed Felton figured out how to guess the secret vector (sort of like a private key) used to encrypt and decrypt media traffic passing between devices. If you know the structure of the secret vector you can figure out the key intercept the traffic, and decode the data streams.
It's known that the NYPD has been photographing public demonstrators since 2003, but when anyone starts taking pictures of them, either deliberately or accidentally, they definitely do not think that turnabout is fair play.
The US government is kicking around some scary ideas if you're trying to keep some semblance of privacy on the Net: Forcing ISPs to record everything you do on the Net on the off chance that you're up to something they don't like so that they can track you down. A few states, Colorado among them, are considering laws like this at the state level. These records would include WWeb browsing, IM, FTP, probably Usenet and e-mail... if you have something to say but want to publish anonymously for some reasion, you'd be SOL because they'd know what websites you went to to do your research, what blogging service you connected to... sorry, Publius, but you'd be screwed. They got the idea from the European Union, which voted to enact this abck in December of 2005, and in the highly paraniod political climate of today, it was only a matter of time. Of course, they're bringing out the usual arguments about child pornography that no one would ever, ever speak out against.. sort of like wrapping yourself in the flag to keep from being burned at the stake. Such laws, to be fair, would also make investigation of crimes that took place some time ago but before the statues of limitation would expire. That's an incredible amount of data to store on a monthly basis. A bill in Colorado could put a few ISPs out of business if they don't comply because fines would be levied per incident.
Happy Easter, everyone.
Okay.. Lyssa and I have just finished watching episode one of season two (or twenty-eight, depending on how you're counting) of Doctor Who, entitled New Earth.
David Tenant rocks all known sheep. I think he's as good in the role of the Doctor as Christopher Eccleston was. Second.. furries are going to go nuts over the nuns. You'll see what I mean. Third... I haven't laughed so hard as I did in ages. David Tenant and Billie Piper play off of one another very well, and the physical comedic gags were excellent. It's a howl.
And the ending's a tear-jerker.
Grant, Lyssa's brother, came over for dinner tonight. Lyssa put together yet another magnificent meal, consisting of a roast pork tenderloin, couscous, roasted potatoes, stir-fried vegetables, and cherry pie for dessert. We took some time out of our busy schedules (Grant's homework for his masters' degree, Lyssa and I screwing around all day, modulo some cleaning) to rest, relax, and eat a filling meal. Grant was nice enough to give us his old television (replaced with a large plasma screen display) to replace the twenty-seven inch television that I brought with me from Pennsylvania that had a bad tuner circuit (see here for more details). We brought it with us from our trip to Grant's place last night but I'd left it in the car because of its weight and awkward size. Tonight, after some fumbling behind the entertainment centre and cursing at the coax cable fittings, we pulled the old one out and hauled the new one out of the back of my car after I'd pulled it around. We had to take some sharp knives to the back of the entertainment centre to enlarge the opening (because the new TV's back end doesn't taper the way the old one's did) but after some finangling we got it put in place and powered up. I spent a few minutes programming the universal remote control for it but it's up and running.
We had an unexpected guest for Easter dinner tonight, we discovered just a half-hour or so ago. After Grant left for home Lyssa and I were in our usual positions in the office when I caught a flash of something small and dark scurrying about on the floor out of the corner of my eye. A subprocess in the left hemisphere of my brain ran a quick diagnostic on my visual cortex: Yep, it checked out as expected. A few seconds later, I caught it again more directly and and the good ol' pattern matcher pegged it:
Somehow a mouse got into the apartment.
This wasn't one of the cute mice that Helen raises as pets/for snake food, nor was it a cute little brown and white field mouse. This was a slate grey and lighter grey mouse with black eyes and tiny pink little paws. This was a ninja mouse running around in the office, climbing over cables and possibly with designs of chewing on them (some of those cables carry 120VAC, which isn't healthy for any organic lifeforms). More's the point, the diminutive ninja mouse ran across the floor a couple of times. Lyssa's chair has rollers on the legs... I'll let you do the math on that one.
The little guy was running around the baseboard, as mice are wont to do, but we'd narrowly missed him. As Lyssa went to get a colandar (which seems to be standard equipment for capturing rodents on the loose) I kept an eye on the mouse... who ran into the open closet and was running around the crates storing electronic equipment.
That made it personal.
Lyssa and I managed to trap the mouse under the colandar and slide an opened out folder under it to pin him in place, with the eventual goal being to leave him outside and have no harm come to him, at least from either of us. Unfortunately that went a little south as the mouse made a break for freedom by trying to squeeze through a quarter inch gap that briefly appeared between the rim of the colandar and the folder. Of course, I tried to stop the escape by pressing down gently on the colandar, which should have provoked the mouse to back up into captivity and out of distress.
Fat chance. He wasn't going to go anywhere unless it was straight ahead.
Rather than hurt the mouse we let him go and took a few minutes to regroup. I lost track of where he'd gotten off to, though he didn't run for safety as we had thought. Instead rodentus escapus parked itself behind a tennis ball that had fallen on the floor and sat there. Mice are excitable creatures, and at times like this they'll often drop over of a heart attack. This one, while winded and shaken thankfully didn't flatline on us. Lyssa found a shoebox and after moving some stuff around and placing a baffle or two to limit our intruder's options, we got him trapped inside the shoebox, right side up, with the lid securely fashioned.
We took shinobi-gesshirui outside and let him go by the dumpsters. He sat in the bottom of the shoebox for a minute or two but once Lyssa tipped it over he cautiously stepped out and sat in the grass for a few moments, probably to get his bearings.
What bothers me, however, is how the mouse got in. When I was crawling around on the floor I didn't see any mouse droppings, mouse holes, or telltale wood shavings that mean that the mouse had chewed its way into the building. It's possible that it came in from the balcony, but that begs the question "Can a mouse climb fifteen feet straight up?" It also may have gotten in through the front door while it was open today but it's just as likely that the mouse would have been spotted much earlier. Maybe there are some hidden mouse holes around the apartment. I'll have to take a torch and look around tomorrow.
Wait a minute... Ninjalicious died of cancer?!?
So... the Ladytron show last night at the 9:30 Club in northwestern DC..
Rocked. The. House.
Lyssa napped for an hour or two after work last night because she was completely exhausted after the day she'd had while I had a spot of dinner and relaxed for a while. Eventually we got moving and headed out so that Lyssa could track down a gift for her brother's birthday (which didn't quite happen - for once, Best Buy doesn't have what someone is looking for (nevermind the price)), get a bite to eat (in hindsight, I sort of regret that sandwich but I don't think my blood sugar would have held out all night), and find our way to the 9:30 Club.
The 9:30 Club is in northwestern DC. Here is a photograph of it from a keyhole satellite. You know where this is going.
Lyssa and I, in search of a single concert or nightclub, have probably seen every shady place in DC where you probably shouldn't go after dark. Last night was no exception. We wound up asking for directions around 2300 EST in a part of town that made the hair on the forearms stand up. Thankfully I managed to find a police officer familiar with the area we were stuck in and the DC metropolitan area who tried his hardest to get us back to I-395.. that didn't work too well, either, though.
Somehow, and neither Lyssa nor I are quite sure how it happened, we managed to make it all the way through the DC core in a straight shot.. and wound up in Tacoma Park, Maryland.
If you asked me to repeat this maneuver, I probably couldn't do it.
We managed to find the club around 2345 EST, whereupon we paid the guy who runs the parking lot across the street, picked up our tickets, and headed in. The 9:30 was SRO, and we walked in during the very last song of the opening act, called the Venus Kick. I didn't really hear their music so I can't say one way or the other how good they are. Your call.
We didn't really have to wait very long for Ladytron to get set up on stage. We also didn't have to wait very long before I popped a geekbone, either. Korgs as far as the eye could see. Korg analog synthesizers, dripping with patch cables, dials, knobs, and quarter-inch jumpers...
My fingers are twitching just thinking about it.
Six Korg synths, a drum kit, and a couple of guitars. Doesn't sound like much, does it?
Ladytron took the stage with an extra member, a female bass player who took over rhythm keyboards for the second encore song. Helen has taken over most of the singing, at least on tour, from Mira Aroyo, and did an excellent job doing so last night. I'm used to hearing her singing backup on the albums so it was a good change of pace. I am also used to hearing her using her voice as an instrument (she uses some operatic techniques to sing syllables) than to sing actual words (in any of the languages that they write their sometimes non sequitur lyrics in). I never did get used to it, though it was enjoyable to hear it live.
Ladytron played quite a few songs off of The Witching Hour, their newest album, like Destroy Everything You Touch, International Dateline, and CMYK. They also played a couple of songs off of Light and Magic, namely, Evil, Cracked LCD and Blue Jeans. They also graced us with a few songs from 604, their first album, Commodore Rock and most importantly, Play Girl.
When the opening strains of Play Girl started, a tallish kid went nuts and plowed through the crowd at top speed, nearly knocking me flat on my face and probably injuring a few of the girls standing in front of Lyssa and I. Ultimately, I let it go. There's no sense in spoiling an awesome concert by acting like a dick.
The music last night at the concert was much lower in pitch than I'm accustomed to hearing from Ladytron. I'm not sure how far down the scale they transposed everything - a lot of their synthesized sounds are modulated noise, to be frank, and when you've got that many frequences run through distortion modules and mixed together into a single instrument/channel.. hell, I couldn't tell, and I'm usually pretty good about figuring out pitch and key. Ladytron's songs are closer to soundscapes than they are songs as most people think of them, or at least that's my informed opinion. It might just be another quirk of my admittedly nonstandard central nervous system, but Ladytron's music has a strong visual component for me: I 'see' soundscapes in a synesthetic way, and their music invokes images of cities intermixed with what I can best describe as bomb craters, overgrown Amazon forests, buildings that move around like gargantuan vehicles, and hordes of people milling through the streets. I don't need drugs to trip, just buy me a new compact disk.
Anyway, their music's taken on a much darker quality, and it's reflected in those synaesthetic visions. It's still very pretty.
The sound pressure coming out of their PA system was immense. Lyssa and I were standing around the ninth or tenth row back from the stage, and I felt it as strongly as I did right next to the stage during the Sisters show a few weeks back. Lyssa, who normally never wears hearing protection of any kind at clubs or shows (cough cough), complained for the first time ever that the sound was far too loud. Loud enough to cause pain for a time after the concert was over, in fact.
Ladytron came out for two encores after the show was over, once after the urging of the crowd, the second time to enjoy themselves (they did Another Breakfast With You) because, as Helen said to us, the last time they played DC it snowed and almost nobody made it to the show, so they put everything they had into it. Mira and Helen sang it as a duet, which I found surprising and enjoyed greatly.
Mira's got this evil-looking slitted eyes glare going on when she's on stage. Add the elf-locks in and she looks downright evil.
No pictures from this show. I still haven't uploaded the pictures from the last concert I took my phone to because it's damned expensive to do so anymore. Damn you, Toshiba, for making it so hard to get a data cable for my cellcam.
It was much easier to return home from the show because we got on Georgia Avenue and just followed it until we reached the beltway, at which time we were home free. We stopped off briefly to get large bottles of water to rehydrate after the concert was over and got back around 0200 EST today. Lyssa stayed up for a while but I had to get to bed to collapse. I'd been up since 0600 EST yesterday due to network maintenance and badly needed the sleep.
As always I picked up some new threads while I was there, in the form of two Ladytron shirts. Due to the price of parking for the show ($15us) I didn't have enough cash on me to pick up the collection of pins to add to my war jacket. Oh, well.
I'm not much of a photography buff, but these images are impressive. They were all composed using a technique called HDR (high dynamic range), and are done by taking multiple photographs of the same thing under multiple conditions, such as different times of day, different sets of lights, what have you. When you finally develop the film or composite the images together, you get an incredible amount of detail from the image. Check out the examples in the article to see what I mean.
I am now convinced that whomever invented the pager is going to burn in a very special hell.. oh, yes. There is a district in Hades set aside specifically for this individual, which he or she will share along with a myriad of child molestors and the inventors of the IVR. Still, even though I kept getting bounced awake this morning by said piece of hardware, I still feel pretty good about life in general and my chassis in particular. Looking back over things, I think it's because it's been a little dehydrated over the past few days, and the extra water last night did a lot to clear my head. I actually feel relatively awake today. Then again, the fact that it's a Friday might also have something to do with it.
Okay.. on the fanboy front, the movie Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children will be released on 25 April 2006, just a couple of days away.
Also, tomorrow, 15 April 2006, the second season of Doctor Who will begin airing on BBC-1. On 16 April 2006, it will once again be time to start haunting BitTorrent trackers across the Net to download the episodes. The first episode of season 28/season 2 will air at 1900 GMT in England, so that would be 0000 EST 16 April 2006... figure two or three hours to encode, build a .torrent file, and get it listed on the trackers.. so start searching the trackers around 1000 EST on 16 April and there will be a good chance that it'll be up. You can watch the trailer for this season here.
Posting someone's picture on MySpace is identity theft? This reminds me a lot of the overreaction of one of my comp.sci professors at IUP (whose website was taken down at some point) at having his face Photoshopped onto an astronaut's body back in 1998.
Gary McKinnon, the cracker in and out of the news since 2005 for cracking many US military systems in search of data related to UFOs is starting to sweat like a blacksmith as his worst fears may be realised: He might wind up in Guantanamo Bay for specialising in military networks. He's already facing extradition and a military tribunal; this isn't just icing on the cake.
Neat! Make your own ferrofluid!
One Mark Klein, formerly of AT&T, came forward about the NSA's domestic wiretapping programme.. he was there when AT&T built a monitoring centre for the NSA. The EFF filed a class-action lawsuit over this recently and Klein stepped forward to blow his whistle over it. In January of 2003 AT&T constructed a monitoring centre next to their switching centre in San Francisco, California which handles long-distance and international calls. Regular technicians cleared for access to that area were forbidden access while the extra room was being outfitted. Klein was one of the folks who set up jumpers between the telephone switches and the restricted room which lead to some pretty sophisticated network analysis and monitoring gear, including a Naurus STA 6400, which is said to be capable of watching network links running at speeds approaching of 10 gigabits per second.. that's an OC-192 link, which is an amazing amount of data carrying capacity. Check out this page, which lists the major network links and their speeds for more information. To give you an idea of how much data this is, a T-1 line can carry 23 calls at a time. A T-3 line (one step up) can handle 644 calls simultaneously. An OC-192 network link, which the Naurus STA 6400 can comfortably monitor, can carry up to 147,200 regular voice calls simultaneously.
I should elucidate a bit.. the STA 644 can monitor OSI layer four traffic (networking protocols, like TCP and UDP) at OC-192 speeds. If set to monitor links at OSI layer seven (the application layer, at which you'll find protocols like HTTP, FTP, SMTP, RTP, and SIP), it can run at OC-48 speeds (2.5 gigabits per second, or about 36,800 telephone conversations).
This is one hell of a powerful box, to be able to keep up with all of that.
Still tired. Still feeling out of sorts. Still wondering where most of my energy is going. I feel like I haven't slept in days yet I've been getting about seven hours of sleep every night. I don't understand what's happening.
Got to see Rialian, Helen, and Kash last night. Schedules finally coincided and a few of us got together to hang around in Rockville. Hummingwolf came out, also, as well as Laurelinde and Branwyn, and Redlynx, someone that I don't think any of us have met before. It wasn't a big night, just a bunch of folks sitting around talking and trying to figure stuff out.
I crashed pretty hard last night; in fact, it was early, for a change, but I still feel like I'm running a couple of quarts low.
I haven't really had it together enough to write much of substance, either. Every time I try, either something happens or I lose what was on my mind.
Folks following the MPAA and the broadcast flag debate will find this development notable: Kevin Murphy, aide to Senator Gordon Smith, who happens to be one of senators that are pushing the hardest for the broadcast flag bill, just took a job with Viacom, one of the corporations that is pushing for the broadcast flag. Legal folks in DC are beginning to cry foul because it smells too much like a bribe (do what we want and we'll hire you for a buttload of money) or a behind the scenes deal.
Site security of US military bases abroad isn't as good as it should be, because stolen USB keydrives containing sensitive, classified, and secret information are showing up on the black market not too far away from the base in Kabul. And by secret information, I mean lists of targets and data pertaining to defenses erected by US forces. A reporter working for the AP in the area decided to find out for him/herself, and was surprised that the allegations were, in fact true.
I feel ever so much safer....
Okay.. how about something a bit more cheerful. On the biotech front, Dr. Gary Gorbsky, Ph.D of the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation has figured out how to not only stop human cells from dividing, but if they're caught at the right time during the process replication can even be reversed. That's right.. he figured out how to halt the division of cells partway through the process. The implications for cancer treatment should be obvious.. his work will be published in the journal Nature in the 13 April 2006 issue.
Hee hee hee hee...
Folks interested in creative accounting should take note: In the state of California the Internal Revenue Service now has permission to get information on PayPal's customers' money transfer records because it's possible to transfer money out of the country. PayPal, at this time, is considering its options. Probably since PayPal went live, people have been using the service to transfer money to accounts in other countries where the laws are such that the money can't be taxed by US authorities.
Speaking of taxation, a couple of states, including New York and California have issued ultimatums to citizens that they have to pay use tax on net.commerce or else they face audits (which are not too different from being fisted by a jackhammer) and possibly fines. Their deadline is 17 April 2006, the same day as tax day. No one knows how much money in taxes aren't being paid by net.users; probably enough that the powers that be are getting tired of not getting paid. Not a few folks think that that figures state governments are quoting are bunk.
It's 0905 EST, and I feel like someone's been hitting me repeatedly in the temple with a roll of quarters. Yesterday was one of the most frustrating and painful days that I've had in many a month, and by the end of the day I was holding on through willpower alone. Lyssa had booked us to go to a corporate dinner held by IBM, which is backing the project she's working on right now, so we got dressed up and hit the road after I got the last of work packed away yesterday evening. Much to my surprise, I knew where the dinner was being held: Mortons: The Steakhouse, which happens to be just a few minutes away from where I work, much to my surprise. Morton's is easily one of the most swanky restaurants in NOVA - you've got your mahogany wood panelling on the walls, you've got your dim lighting and private booths for everyone, you've got your open kitchens where you can watch dinner being prepared for you, you've got your wine buckets and an excellent selection thereof from the cellar, and you've got your menus with such dishes as "shrimp alexander in white wine and butter sauce" with nary a price to be found.
You can drop $150us on a dinner for two there, easily. If you've got the cash to spare, you're buying an experience right out of a James Bond movie, and it's worth every penny.
I spent the evening hobnobbing with the other IBM folks and meeting the people that Lyssa's been talking about for so long. Interesting folks. I've never seen so many blue button-down shirts with the collars open in one place, before.
We finally got home around 2200 EST, and after taking a shower I went to bed early because I was utterly wiped out. I woke up this morning around my usual time and felt like hell for no good reason. I still feel like someone's taking up more RAM than usual in my brain and it's paging like mad as a result.
...is anything going to happen on 17 May?
David Holmes, a psychology lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University, has devised the equation (S + C) * ((B + F) / T), which defines what the perfect ass looks like. That's right, the shape of the human ass has been reduced to a mathematical algorithm. S is the overall shape of the butt; C is how spherical the buttocks as a whole are; B represents the wobbling of the muscles and the bounce under normal conditions; F is the firmness of the ass in question; V is the symmetry of the butt, expressed as a ratio of hip-to-waist size; T stands for both cellulite density and skin texture. The reason I'm posting the equation is because I'm pretty sure that at least one modelling agency is going to pick up on this and either patent it or buy it outright for use when recruiting new models.
Anyone who's ever seen the movie Real Genius will sit up and take notice of this news coming out of the defense industry: They're working on practical, airborne laser weapons for military deployment. The US Air Force is looking at a full-scale test of an anti-ballistic missile laser weapon mounted in a jumbo jet. They're also getting ready to go into beta testing with land-based millimeter-wave microwave emitters for antipersonnel purposes. Colletively, they're referred to as directed energy weapons. Interestingly, a project referred to as "Zeus" is a solid-state (as opposed to gas excitation) laser that they've been testing to clear minefields, and another called THEL (Tactical High Energy Laser) that they've reportedly used to take out missiles (used in the tests) in flight from the ground.
Some interesting information on the monitoring system the NSA is using to monitor domestic telephone calls.
Okay, let me get this straight.. some people want to rice out their hermit crabs' shells?!
The Whitehouse had an unexpected guest this weekend, in the form of one Brian Lee Patterson, who has a history of scaling the fence surrounding the White House. The article has some interesting information pertaining to the security details at the White House: A dozen Secret Service agents, a K9 unit.. I wonder what the snipers on the roof thought of this.
Friday night after work, I dragged myself home after a long afternoon of worry and crisis at work. It never fails: On a Friday afternoon anything that can possibly crash, fail, catch on fire, blow up, or go berserk and start killing innocent bystanders will do so with a appropriately high level of drama. After the week I'd had I was running on empty, and all but sank into a coma after I got home. Seeing as how Lyssa and I had to go out to get stuff to make dinner, it wasn't an easy thing. We returned the DVDs that we'd rented the week before (even though we'd watched only a few of them) and then headed to the store to pick up a couple of things.
I don't remember much of anything about Friday night up until 2130 EST or so because I was asleep on my feet just about the whole time. I woke up after dinner was ready in bed, having curled up to rest.
The rest of the night was kind of hazy.. I wasn't all there, and definitely wasn't running on all 128 bits in my registers.
Saturday morning I got up early so that I could drop the TARDIS off at the dealership for the 11.5k mile maintenance, which it was long overdue for. I took off to make a quick stop at the supermarket for a couple of things and then headed out to the highway for maintenance. In hindsight, I really should have taken a book with me because I was stuck there for over an hour because the courtesy shuttle back home was late in coming. I entertained myself for a while with cups of bad coffee and the Washington Post, and later messing around with a customer service kiosk in the lounge (I tried to jackpot it but didn't find anything out of the ordinary or even vaguely interesting in the software, and gave up after a while). Once that was said and done, I turned to cellphone video games to kill time, whereupon I discovered that my copy of Double Dragon (one of my favourite games of all time) had expired.
Expired! What kind of video game spontaneously disables itself after ninety days, even after you've paid for the full version? What a racket...
Thankfully, my trusty copy of Tetris still works, and got me through until the shuttle-van arrived and dropped me off at home.
Saturday was cold, wet, windy, and rainy... not much fun, in other words. Lyssa cleaned up some of the apartment while I was out, and after I got home I took over some of the work, such as sweeping up the kitchen to mop and running the vacuum cleaner through the apartment. The latter came to a screeching halt when I realised that the vacuum wasn't actually doing anything... nothing was getting picked up, and it was only generating large wads of hair sitting on the carpet. I pulled the plug on the sweeper and flipped it over to diagnose the problem and discovered that the rotating brush was so covered in hair that you couldn't see the bristles anymore. I pulled out my pocket knife and began to dismantle the vacuum so that I could clean it out... and soon discovered that un-bundling the brush wouldn't do any good because the business part, the part of the sweeper that leads from the brush up into the bag by way of a fan was plugged with a six-inch mass of hair, lint, and dust. It took the better part of an hour, working with fingers, pliers, and later haemostats to pull every last bit of junk out of the hosepipe.
After reassembly and repowering, I rediscovered that the suck fromm the sweeper is incredible - not only did it accidentally suck up a stuffed mouse cat toy but I could barely move the sweeper because it was clinging so tightly to the floor. At least the carpet's clean again.
Kash and Solo arrived early in the afternoon. They'd been at the National Cherry Blossom Festival on Saturday, but they'd been caught in the rain and wind and were freezing; the kettle was put on and clothes were changed. They'd picked up a couple of things while they were there, like loads of Pocky and a few t-shirts. The anime exhibit there was, to quote solo, "Skeevy," so I'm not too heartbroken about not making it this year. I trust his opinion.
Anyway, we hung out at the apartment all afternoon and relaxed. Lyssa, Kash, and I were playing video games in our respective spaces; Solo read some of the books he'd picked up at the fair. Late in the afternoon we ordered pizza for dinner; Lyssa made some tasty curried tofu for Kash while we waited for Pizza Hut to deliver the pizzas. Later in the evening we decamped to Borders to find coffee and hang out for a while.. we split up again and wandered around the store. I picked up the latest Ladytron album, which much to my surprise isn't much of an album at all, it's a compilation of songs that just happens to have a Ladytron track or two on it. What it's doing labelled as a band release I have no idea. I'll finish listening to it today and give a more thorough analysis of it, but so far it's not Ladytron, though what I have heard so far has been catchy.
Anyway, we returned home and vegged out some more.. I crashed around 0130 EST on Sunday morning, Lyssa crashed a bit earlier than I.
On Sunday morning Kash and Solo went foraging for breakfast while Lyssa and I took it easy. We eventually met back to to do not much of anything, but because it was such a nice day we went roaming around to see what kind of trouble we could get into. We wound up at the Game Parlor again to wander around.. we didn't buy too much because there wasn't much that we really needed for anything but I did pick up an art book done by Voltaire, who is known in the goth scene for his sense of humour, highly theatrical performances, and loves of stop-motion animation and sketching. It's cute. It's amusing, too.
After leaving the Game Parlor we went out in search of pants.. yes, pants. Kash, Solo, and I were in dire need of an extra pair of pants (through no design of our own, we just needed to get some gear) and went nosing around for pants that would fit. Kash opted for work khakis; I went for stonewashed bluejeans (yes, I now have clothing that isn't black - shock! gasp!); Solo, as far as I know, didn't actually find what he was looking for.
We headed home for a few minutes to dig up directions to Famous Dave's BBQ, which is supposed to be an excellent BBQ restaurant in northern Virginia.
Of course, it wasn't simple finding the damn place. We drove around for a good 45 minutes because Mapquest's directions took us in a big loop around the restaurant and down a side street that didn't keep its name if you kept going straight but would if you stopped at the light and made a hard right.
Pittsburgh and NOVA aren't all that different in that respect.
Once we got to Famous Dave's and were seated we skimmed the menu, which isn't actually all that big, just a single sheet of laminated paperboard, double-sided. If you like BBQ you'll find it here: Salmon, pork, chicken, steak, it's all there. If you're looking for something more their pickings are a good bit more slim. Appetizers are similiarly few in number on the menu, though the fried hot pickles are pretty tasty. I opted for the BBQ chicken platter for dinner and split the appetizers with everyone.
Famous Dave's keeps a sixpack of sauces on each table, from ketchup ("Bryce sauce") to their hottest, called Devil's Spit.
Devil's Spit my motorcycle boots. Their 'famous' sauces are weaker than the
stuff you can get at your local supermarket. They add a bit of flavour but they
aren't anywhere near what you'd expect from the style of cuisine, hype, and
marketing screed names. The fried pickle slices are hotter
than their hot sauces.
Famous Dave's: Two and a half flareguns, one misfired cartridge. The sauces are so weak that Solo and I almost did shots of them at the table. If you're a hardcore BBQ fan, go there. If not, it would be worth your time to look a bit more for dinner.
After dinner we headed back to the apartment to let our food digest. I did some research on new components to upgrade Leandra, who's been complaining for a few weeks now that her hardware is too slow. After the last time I worked from home, I can't put it off anymore: She needs to be reworked in a bad way.
The House Judiciary Committee was presented with a case about the US NSA's domestic surveillance programme on 6 April 2006 and some interesting things came out under questioning. One of those things was that Alberto Gonzales, Attorney General of the United States of America stated that he couldn't rule out the possibility of recording the communciations of American citizens talking to one another, and not just those making or recieving calls from another country.
This is an awesome show of data visualisation: cabspotting.org. The Yellow Cabs in San Francisco, California are all equipped with GPS units and transponders, so they report back to base where they are, so the position of each cab can be plotted on a map if you have access to the data. cabspotting.org draws in your web browser continually updated maps of the positions and paths of a couple of taxis as they drive around San Fran. It's pretty cool.
The RIAA is known to suggest to college students that they drop out of school to pay for their settlements.
If you do any work with systems on an administrative level, or if you at least keep an eye on information security, you've probably heard of rootkits, which are utilities that are installed by intruders that conceal logins, network connections, processes, and just about anything else that you can dig information on out of the OS. You've also probably heard of zombieware, under any number of names (some technical, some not), which allows an intruder to remotely command a system to do things without anyone knowing, such as sending spam or pingflooding a router somewhere. Often, zombies connect to an IRC server to send status reports and recieve commands from the miscreant(s) in control of them. The idea is that the rootkit hides the presence of the zombieware and keeps the users from noticing that anything is wrong. There are ways of indirectly detecting malware on a compromised box, though, which are creative and tricky enough that there is now a sort of arms race between the info.sec folks and the other side of the fence. Now someone's figured out how to combine a rootkit and a zombie bot into the same package. Rootkits patch the kernel of the OS running to keep it from reporting truthfully when queried. Rootkits can be hard to find even when not running because they can blend in with legitimate systemware and unless you know what is really supposed to be there you've got your work cut out for you. Now you can pack all that trouble into a single .SYS file. You just know that the underground's going to love this...
I'd like to express my condolences to Stickb0y, who I knew way back in my BBS days, over the loss of his mother on 7 April 2006. Hey Stick... I'm sorry, man.
Tom DeLay is being touted as the man that God wants to bring righteousness back to the US government.
Right. DeLay got busted for money laundering and was up on charges of conspiracy until it came out that the particular kind of conspiracy wasn't actually a crime in the state of Texas until 2003.
Sorry, guys, but if DeLay's the man they want to bring righteousness back to the government I'm throwing my hat in with the Great Old Ones. I can't see very many deities smiling down upon trying to play the electoral system to one's own benefit or laundering money, unless we're talking the old-school Dungeons and Dragons thief-gods. Even YHVH as written in the Old and New Testaments would get His dander up at hijinks like that.
This whole "wrapping yourself in religion" bit to try to keep public opinion for you on the up and up and maybe try to get some jurors to feel sorry for you and deadlock at worst, let you go at best is for the birds. Stop pretending to be a religious man and take some responsibility for your actions.
I'll write about this weekend tomorrow.
George W. Bush threatens to nuke Iran because they're trying to build a nuclear stockpile. The idea is to take out any nukes that Iran manages to get its hands on, whether or not they're in underground bunkers. Whether or not the so-called bunker buster nukes would operat as advertised is still up in the air, if you've read any of the declassified reports.
It's Friday.. just have to make it through until the end of the day...
More has made it to the press about the I. Lewis Libby situation, which is rocking the halls of power inside Washington, DC. Documentation was given to the court that states that the false information that stated that Iran was trying to purchase nuclear weapons was released with the authorisation of the President. The information in those reports was used as justification for the US to invade Iraq but it's since gotten out that the information was also a forgery, which means that very reasons for the US' invasion are specious. The whole situation seems like someone's been playing games with the opinions of the US people. I have to admit, it's a good way to scare people and get them behind you but the way the US is anymore, they probably didn't even notice the retractions or the clarifications. Former White House staffers are pitching fits over this, and understandably so: Whether or not you should declassify and release information is always a matter of debate, but doing so for the sole purpose of manipulating opinion one way or another just isn't done.. it's a detriment to the whole of the system because systems run on valid, confirmed, usable data: Garbage in, garbage out.
It calls into question the reliability of the whole system as well as the command and control mechanism of the system.
Anonymizer.com has created another service dedicated to giving Chinese citizens uncensored, anonymous, encrypted net.access. They say that the information they collet will be kept secret. The URL will be changed periodically to evade URL blocking at the Great Firewall of China.
(safe for work): Rare earth magnets are neat. Yes, that's the Perl Pocket Reference stuck to that fridge.
This is pretty cool: Poetry written using the Fibonacci Sequence as a guide.
No time for love, Doctor
Holy cats, I've been busy.. between work, working from home, and Lyssa's new work schedule (post-release hell), there hasn't been enough time to write anything. Hell, there's barely enough time to cook dinner or sleep right now. Dinner last night was taken at Amphora, with probably the worst service we've ever recieved there. I was falling asleep in the booth because it took so long to get our food, and the waiter even messed up our orders from the get-go.
This gave me a chuckle in between emergencies at work today: The resume' of a nihilist.
More advances in prosthetics, in this case, replacement eyes. One Cheri Robertson lost both eyes in a car accident at the age of 19 and recently underwent surgery to implant an electrode array into her visual cortex. By connecting a pair of eyeglasses rigged up with microcams to a microcomputer and the electrode array, she is now able to make out the outlines and rough textures of objects and differences in light levels. At the present time, this surgery is not yet performed in the United States but it's thought that this will start sometime within the next half-decade. Interestingly, the article notes that the surgery will not work on people who never had vision, which suggests that an imprinted visual cortex is necessary to process visual information. It sort of stands to reason, but the argument could also have been made that neural plasticity could allow for eventual adaptation to the implants.
Holy shit. Lyssa's done it again.
She got tickets for the Ladytron show on Black Friday, 15 April 2006 at the 9:30 Club.
Brian Doyle, Press Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, was busted after chatting up what he thought was a teenage girl on the Net. He sent the undercover agent porn clips and photographs of himself, prominently wearing a TSA lanyard and DHS lapel pin.
I wonder how much of this exchange with George W. Bush is going to make it onto the news...
In other political news, it's come out in court that George W. Bush signed off on having I. Lewis Libby leak classified intelligence pertaining to Iraq to the US media.
Take care of yourself, Terrence. Perhaps we'll have that cup of coffee at the end of Time.
Interesting news on the front of tissue regeneration - researchers at SUNY have grown replacement bladders for seven patients in vitro. Samples of tissue were taken from seven young patients and cultured in the lab over scaffoldings of collagen for a couple of weeks, producing swaths of usable, viable bladder tissue, including lining and layers of muscle tissue. The tissue was then surgically installed in the patients, replacing most of their damaged or diseased bladders. The operations are reported successful, and the patients are enjoying their newfound quality of life, to say nothing of a much lower worry of kidney damage (if the bladder doesn't work properly, urine can backflush into the kidneys, which can damage them over time). This is a real medical breakthrough; now they just have to figure out how to grow other organs...
One step at a time.
It's come out that Tom DeLay will be resigning from the US Congress in a few weeks amidst arrest and the filing of charges, which has killed respect for and confidence in him inside the beltway. DeLay blames liberal Democrats for wrecking his career, and will no doubt expound upon this on Fox News this morning.
Hey, Tom? Liberal Democrats didn't have much to do with your getting busted. Your reputation for taking bribes and fraud, and your financial history and situation that were subpoena'd from your banks and broker in DC did that. You broke the law and you got caught.
Think you can use a fireawll to protect a Microsoft ISA Server 2004 machine? If IPv6 is enabled on the box the firewall will ignore ICMP and TCP over IPv6. Oops. I hope your perimeter firewall is tight...
Back in February I came across a couple of news articles about an investigative reporter who was digging into how easy it was to get complaint forms out of the Florida police and wound up popular with Florida's finest as a result. Too popular, it seems, because they're after him with a vengeance. For a while some very personal information about Mr. Mike Kirsch was publically available on the Broward Police Benevolent Association's website; it's been pulled but the data's out there, and it's a safe bet that it's being freely shared amongst the cops. There was also a BOLO (Be On the LookOut) on Kirsch for a while.
Well, this is bizarre.. the meat cyborg.
Yay, working-from-home days.
So, my coffee maker seems to have developed a drip at the fill'er up valve on the front. I washed the coffee tank out this weekend because it was looking kind of nasty inside, to be frank, and I wanted to make it look presentable (and improve the quality of coffee coming out of it), so I rinsed it out and made sure that it would still drain properly. This morning as I went back for my second cup of coffee after jacking in, I discovered the hard way that there was coffee all over the counter top, down the front of the counter, in the silverware drawer, on the floor...
It was a heartbreaking scene.
I've been switching out wads of paper towel underneath the valve every ten minutes or so. I'm hoping to make it through the whole pot of coffee today so that I can figure out what got knocked out of alignment and repair it before my next all-nighter... which just so happens to be tonight.
People have been saying for years that cigarettes will kill you, and they're right for a variety of reasons. Still, advances in medical science have skewed the odds farther in the direction of surviving the complications that often come at the end of years of smoking, even though the actual "beating the odds" part can't be described as fun or entertaining, regardless of what the Lifetime Movie Network might tell us. It was recently discovered, however, that nicotine in the bloodstream can hinder the effects of chermotheraputic drugs. If you're undergoing treatment for lung cancer, it sort of goes hand in hand with having to stop smoking. This is can be done with a hell of a lot of willpower, and sometimes nicotine supplements, such as patches or gum. The thing is, even the stop-smoking products will get in the way of chemo... in fact, nicotine seems to boost the production of proteins manufactured by cancer cells that protect them from the effects of chemotheraputic drugs.
Yay! No all-nighter tonight!
The ACLU has brought an employment discrimination lawsuit against the US government (specifically, the Library of Congress) on behalf of one Diane Schroer, who is a 25 year veteran of the US Army who was offered a job at the Library. In the interest of legal full disclosure she informed her employers to be that she was a male-to-female transsexual beginning transition and would be presenting as female at work to ease the process. Her job offer was rescinded as a result. Last week a federal judge ruled that sex isn't necessarily cut and dried, nor a matter of your DNA, and that fedreral anti-sex discrimination laws applied to Ms. Schroer.
This is awesome: Roomba-battlebots at the O'Reilly Emerging Technologies conference.
It's one thing to set up a website and quite another to set up a website to attack someone. If you get called on it, you do what any responsible adult would do and take your medicine. This, however, goes a little far: One Dennis Payne, who ran a website called fullofbologna.com, was taken to court over said website under accusation of libel, levelled by Diane Fremgen, Clerk of Courts for Winnebago County. An injunction was placed against Payne which stated that he and the other defendants listed were prohibited from operating any similiar websites until the ban was lifted under threat of charges of contempt of court. The whole mess started because sexually explicit comments about Fremgen were posted to the website in question by an anonymous user. She charges that Payne not only allowed them to be posted but refused to take the statements down. On one hand, you can't know what your users are going to post at any one time, but on the other hand libel is a serious offense. There has to be a point at which the sysop overrules the users and takes down some stuff.
Ooh! A new Buckaroo Banzai comic series!
So last night Hasufin and I went to the wedding of one of our cow-orkers, Dan 'N00b' McKinney. Dan started off in the NOC at work and has recently been promoted to my team, the Operations Team. Dan now knows the joy and rapture of babysitting enterprise servers and network infrastructure gear that costs as much as most sports cars. But I digress.
I slept most of yesterday, to be honest. I was up at 0500 EST to work from home and finally went off shift around 1000 EST or therabouts. After breakfast and a shower I went back to bed and slept until 1600 or so - Lyssa took the metro out to Maryland to visit Rialian and Helen and go shopping for gardening stuff while I caught up on my sleep. After I woke up in the late afternoon, I got cleaned up and into my suit, shaved, and waited for Hasufin to arrive so we could drive to the church (just down the road from our apartment complex) and then to the reception (just a few blocks beyond that).
We arrived at the church arond 1700 EST without incident and wondered idly if we'd even make it past the front door. Hasufin was concerned that he wouldn't be able to walk through the door while I was more worried about spontaneously combusting once I got inside and leaving one hell of a huge black smear on the carpet, which the pastor would no doubt look dimly upon.
Thankfully, neither of us encountered any difficulties.
Once we were seated we had to wait for the ceremony to begin. Thankfully I keep a copy of Tetris on my cellphone for situations just like this so I passed the time without too much incident. We ran into a few more of our cow-orkers while we waited. It's always nice to have someone to talk to.
Dan and Erin were married in a tasteful, well written and conducted ceremony, and I wish them the best of luck. We noticed something unusual during the ceremony: Their wedding is theoretically valid until the death of one or both or the Second Coming. Does that mean that it's open season if the Christ comes back? I've never heard that in a wedding ceremony before.
We pondered this all the way to the reception.
We wound up hanging around with our cow-orkers shooting the bull and drinking while we waited for the shindig to start. The bar wasn't very well stocked, to be perfectly honest, but the bartenders definitely give you the best of what they do have. I asked for a Jack Daniel's on the rocks and recieved an amount of Jack in a glass the size of my coffee mug (folks who have seen my coffee mug now know what I'm talking about). I nursed that badboy clear until dinner started and only drank about half of it.
Dinner was tasty and well worth the wait: Chicken, tortellini alfredo, and roast beef with a buffet-style table of sides and coffee. Something for everyone.
The disposable cameras we were issued to take pictures at the reception were your basic white-box model; the one at our table had a flash that didn't work so there's no way of predicting how the pictures will turn out. Sorry, guys.
Dinner was served and everyone headed downstairs to party the night away. The first dance was had, followed by the bride and father dance (to Baby Got Back by Sir Mix-A-Lot, the April Fool's joke on the wedding) and the groom and mother dance, and then things went pretty much as you'd expect of a modern wedding. Hasufin and I wound up sitting around discussing genetic engineering and staying out of the way of the families of the bride and groom; most of our cow-orkers were outside smoking, and neither of us much felt like talking much more about work last night.
We wished Dan and Erin well and quietly slipped away around 2230 EST last night. Mika had spent the evening with Lyssa, keeping her company. Kash arrived shortly after I changed and we bummed around for the rest of the night, until Lyssa and I crashed because we'd gotten up way too early yesterday and were running on empty.
Remember when the DOJ was leaning on Google to turn over parts of its database of search terms? They were leaning on a number of other companies, also, like Symantec, LookSmart, Verizon, AT&T, and EarthLink.
Yep. ISPs. Maybe the ISP you pay ever month for your net.access?
InfoWeek has obtained copies of the subpoenas served to those companies. Check 'em out.
In a step backwards, the supreme court of the state of Massachusetts decreed that non-residents of the state can't legally get married if they don't live in the state, which screws a lot of gay couples who flocked to the state three years ago to tie the knot. The legality of these marriages rests upon whether or not gay marriage is legal in the couples' actual states of residence.
Because I'll be working all weekend and won't have much downtime, Lyssa and I roamed around a little last night to relax and find a bite to eat. We wound up in EB Games to poke around the used stuff a little bit, and I chanced across a copy of Ghost in the Shell: Stand-Alone Complex for the PS2. I'm a fan of GitS in general and the series in particular, so I decided to pick it up for a couple of bucks to try it out in my copious spare time. As chance would have it last night, I had an hour to mess around, so I popped it into Kash's PS2 and gave it a try. The music, from what I've heard so far, is nice but nowhere near the movies or the series. The graphics and animation are excellent, and I would say on par with the aforementioned series. The physics are also very true to the series, which is to say that they have little to do with Newtonian mechanics.. there's an element of strategy involved in moving around, especially when it comes to double-jumping between walls to get somewhere important. You can also use this to dodge enemies, but I haven't quite gotten that part down, nor the gymnastic dodges. I strongly suggest sniping as much as possible to thin out the enemies before moving into a new area, because the enemy AI is such that you'll get pinned down by crossfire and cut to pieces in short order if you're not careful. Something that drives me nuts is the fact that Motoko with automatically duck if you press straight down on the left analog joystick; because I normally use my thumbs to manipulate the analog sticks, this happens often enough to be frustrating.
I also managed to somehow catapult myself halfway out into the bay, thus ending the game.
Kash put it best: Games like this are challenging but not actually hard. The strategic element I like a great deal (because I'm a sneaky bastard by nature), and I have to admit that I like the idea of ghost-hacking an enemy and wasting the rest of the bad guys in a given sector one by one. It's definitely a fun game - pick it up if you're into games like this.
The winners of the 2006 Biopiracy Awards have been announced.
Jack Abramoff, former DC lobbyist who was known for selling his influence to whomever could pay his (hefty) fee and screwing over a couple of his clients anyway was convicted and sentenced yesteday to five years and ten months in federal prison for fraud. The same federal court has also decided to give him another three months of freedom (I guess he's got something on someone in the court system) so that he can "continue assisting in a wide-ranging probe of corruption and influence peddling" in DC. Abramoff and Adam Kidan, one of his business partners, plead guilty to charges of wire fraud and conspiracy and were given the minimum prison sentence for screwing people out of millions of dollars, which is five years in Club Fed, but Abramoff cut a deal.
Users of hard drive interfaces that include hardware level encryption, such as the CRU-DataPort, any such products manufactured by the dLink Corporation, SSI, Storcase, or CipherShield (there are lots more, so don't assume, check the advisory) should beware that the data security provided by these units isn't actually very good, in fact, your data isn't protected from a local attack at all. It's a maxim that if an intruder gains physical access to the box it's all over anyway, but if if you encrypt the data while it's on the drive itself and decrypt it when it's used the drive can be stolen but the data can't be accessed without a key. The thing is, the key that encrypts and decrypts the data is stored in an unprotected manner on a chip in the controller, which you can read with pretty much any EEPROM programming unit. An intruder only has to shut the box down and steal the hard drives as well as the unit to compromise the data instead of the just the drives.
This devices takes full advantage of the fact that it's illegal in many places to monitor cellphone conversations of any kind, and in fact own devices that are capable of doing so: A power strip that contains a sensitive bug and a GSM transmitter. Rather than broadcast somewhere in the FM spectrum where a surveillance station can pick up the signal, all you have to do is dial a phone number in the GSM cellphone net, key in a code to get access, and listen through the bug. As long as you've got a GSM card, you can get a phone number pretty easily through a provider...
Wow. Very Snow Crash. And very thought-provokin.
Howard Kaloogian, who is running for Congress, put a photograph up on his campaign website to prove that the US military is doing good things in Iraq and has brought peace to Baghdad. There's just one thing: The picture isn't of Baghdad, it's of someplace in Turkey.
Propaganda poster humour - some posters might not be work-safe!
UAVs, umanned aerial vehicles, are drone aircraft used to keep watch over everything going on in a particular area. The US military's been using them for years now, most publically in Iraq. Now they want to deploy them in the US to keep an eye on everything going on. Right now, they only want to patrol the borders and the major ports on each coast, but it's been suggested that UAVs be used farther inland, also. Something that I didn't know is that certain locales are already using them after dark to monitor their neighborhoods, such as parts of North Carolina. Because they're drones they are not regulated by the FAA, which has not a few pilots worrying because their cruising altitude is 12k feet.
Well, Tekkoshocon is this weekend, and I can't go this year. I don't have the time to drive up there (in fact, I would have had to cancel if I was working Tekko this year because I'll be working most of this weekend.. ugh) and even if I did, I'm not sure that I have the money to rent a hotel room for three days. This'll be the first year that I haven't been able to go.. I'm going to miss everyone. I'm going to miss all the crazy goings-on, too. Tekko's great for war stories to tell at parties.
Good luck, everyone. Have a ball.
The twenty-eighth season of Doctor Who starts on the BBC on 15 April 2006. On 16 April 2006, hit your favourite BitTorrent tracker.
Back in February I linked to an article about someone having a fetus removed from a benign lipoma in Russia. This evening I stumbled across an article about another such surgery, this one from a two month old infant. The Pakistani girl recently underwent surgery to remove a pair of undeveloped fetii from her body. The infant had apparantly grown around two other siblings in the womb, incorporating them into her body as apparantly benign growths. The fetii had stopped growing around the fourth in utero developmental month, when they were incorporated, and weighed in at a total of two pounds after removal. It is estimated that one out of every half-million or so births is a case of fetus-in-fetu.
Spookular. I don't envy her parents having to explain those surgical scars in about ten years' time...
You probably won't find this in the US papers anywhere - a study recently completed states that adolescents in the US are sleep deprived. No shit. When you're working on homework from 1600 until 2200 local time or later every night, plus probably working a part-time job to go to college and getting up to go to school for classes that start at 0700 local time.. yeah, you're going to be sleep deprived. Parents who pay any attention at all to their kids are going to know this.
Speaking of teens these days, this is something that I didn't need to read this morning: A couple of high school kids in Blackstone, Massachusetts were arrested after breaking into their local water storage facility. People living in Blackstone and a few dozen homes farther out in the sticks were advised to stay away from tap water, and even to go so far as to not let it touch their skin until they could check things out. Police reports say that they cut the barbed wire fence to get in, cut the power lines to the alarm system (that'll ring not a few bells at the monitoring company), and somehow opened a vent in the cover to the cistern. Later a bucket was found that had a strange smell - they aren't sure if that has anything to do with it.
Blackstone's a little town on the border between Massachutsetts and Rhode island. If you look it up on Google Maps, it actually looks a lot like what Idaville should look like if you read Encyclopedia Brown...
My point is that there doesn't look like there's a lot to do out there. A favourite pastime of the curious is sneaking into places that you shouldn't to take a look around; I did a bit of urban speleology when I was in high school to pass the time. What I don't agree with is cutting your way in. I think that the police are making too big a deal out of a bucket that the janitor didn't put away, and the FBI's acting the same way. A bunch of bored kids happened to get caught.
If this is legit, it's a piece of history on the auction block: Someone is selling what is purported to be a German Enigma ciper machine from World War II on eBay. The current bid is $13480.26us.
Neat! A fractal chandelier!
The Iranian government is really cracking down on weblogs because more and more people are saying things that they don't like, and which frighten them. I find it scary that they were harshing someone who isn't even based out of Iran for his weblog, something that everyone should consider. Check out the article in question here.
In a stunningly braindead maneuver, Apple Software is realeasing a patch to the iPod firmware that lets you set a maximum limit to the volume the iPod will crank out. Rather than making people do something novel, like take responsibility for their actions and not crank the volume up so high that people three feet away can hear what they are listening to with crystal clarity, they're releasing a software fix.
I'd like to see project docs on this, but if it's true we're in for a rough ride of things, on the back end of computer technology: A company called InPhase claims to have developed a holographic storage device that gets 515 gigabits of data to the square inch, which is light-years beyond even solid-state storage technologies used in cards such as CompactFlash or SD cards. They claim that they will begin shipping later this year, a model family that stores between 300 gigabytes up to 1.6 terabytes. Time will tell.
Wow. Multi-touch interaction user interface experiments. A touchscreen the size of a desk that you can manipulate damn near anything on. You've got to see it to believe it.
This reminds me of an odd experience I had on vacation last year...
Here's an interesting development... a combination of the drugs Tenofovir and Emtricitabine, sold commercially as Truvada, makes it more difficult for HIV to gain a foothold in mammalian biosystems. Interestingly, this effect has been known for a while as it's SOP to administer Truvada to healthcare workers who may have been exposed to HIV as a preventative measure, as well as to babies who are the offspring of HIV-postiive mothers.
In other biotech news, researchers at the University of padua in Italy announced that they figured out how to hook human neurons up to microchips, and not by using the time-honoured technique of placing minute electrodes on the cell bodies themselves. The chip they used has only 16,000 transistors and a few hundred capacitors, which isn't much by today's standards, but then used a couple of bonding proteins that glued the neurons to the chips and forged ion channels between the silicon substrate and the dendrites of the neurons. These ion channels allow impulses to be conducted to and from the neurons.
Holy shit. Direct interface. Now they just have to figure out how to get meaningful data into and out of the neurons.
The Federal Election Commission has decreed that webloggers aren't covered by the new campaign finance laws in a vote of 6-0. Only paid political advertisements count, they say.
An outfit called JumpStart Technologies of San Francisco, California has been fined $900kus for violating the CAN-SPAM Act, which is probably the first actual useful application of this paper tiger. Since 2002, JumpStart has been sending out millions of pieces of spam hyping the website FreeFlixTix (no link because it's been taken offline - good riddance).
We'll see if they actually pay it. Other spammers have been hit by it and never paid, without any visible consequences.
Ambied, a prescription drug to treat insomnia, has some interesting side effects... such as sleepwalking and even sleep eating.
Someone on eBay is selling a Varian 600C linear particle accelerator for a starting price of $34.5kus, but if that's too much for you, you can also lease it over five years with 60 monthly payments of $989.82us.
Funny Virginia license plate of the week: OMG PWN (seen in the parking lot of Borders on Saturday)
Onc again, Lyssa and I had a busy weekend, starting on Friday night with Kash, Duo, and Jarin coming over to hang out at the weekly showing of Doctor Who. Lyssa and I put together a pot of vegetarian chili and set about picking everything up around the apartment, though we didn't actually get everything done by the time Jarin arrived from class. We hung out all night watching TV and relaxing until late in the night, enjoying each other's company. On Saturday morning we hauled ourselves out of bed, got dressed, and decamped to terrorise northern Virginia once more. Our first stop was Chipotle Burrito for lunch; it's hard to believe that they're owned by the McDonald's corporation, what with how tasty and filling the fare at Chipotle is. One burrito was enough to get us through until late in the evening - not hard, when you consider that they're the size of a soda can.
I don't want to think about what that did to my hearts...
We parted ways after lunch on Saturday - Jarin had to continue packing to
move, and Lyssa and I were headed back to Uiniquity to pick up more yarn; Kash
and Duo were going shopping for clothes, so it was easier for us to split up and
get everything done as we could. Lyssa and I were at Uiniquity for a good two
hours looking at yarn, patterns, and new knitting needles. Lyssa found lots of
neat skeins of yarn but only purchased a couple for an upcoming project. After
that we headed for the highway to roam around Borders for a while because I was
in search of a book or two for a project at work so that we could spend our 30%
off coupons, gotten from
drinking the customer ID tag kool-aid
signing up for the customer ID tags a few weeks ago.
Between O'Reilly and Borders, I figured that I may as well because I practically keep both of them in business.
We headed home afterward and napped for a few hours, before Kash and Duo returned to the apartment. We wound up reheating leftover chili from the fridge for dinner and sitting around watching the Mythbusters marathon, alternating with a little channel surfing. Lyssa went to bed early that night; I followed after Kash and Duo packed it in for the night.
On Sunday morning, Lyssa was kind enough to make breakfast for everyone, and we sat around munching on muffins and later on parted ways to roam around. Lyssa wanted to stay at home on Sunday while Kash and Duo wanted to search for clothes to wear. I wanted to go out pricing stuff to upgrade Leandra so we hit MicroCenter first. I spent some quality time with the CPUs and motherboards, notepad and pen in hand while Duo and Kash checked out the digital cameras. We marvelled over the external liquid cooling systems that weigh as much as my old monitor, the better to keep a horribly overclocked system from melting down. I had the opportunity to geek out with someone eyeing up new chassis (he asked me what my quietest system was; I remarked that the apartment is always full of white noise because I have, at any one time, between four and six servers running).
As you can tell, it's been a long day. Long enough that I haven't been able to write since 0900 EST or so. No news articles, nothing to scare you, just my weekend without the slow bits.
After Microcenter we hit the mall that we went to see Nightwatch at last week to browse for clothes. Kash and Duo didn't find anything, so we hit the army surplus store to nose the BDUs. The book selection there is very thin, and not what I'm accustomed to at all. They've got a great selection of combat fatigues but nothing that either Kash nor Duo were interested in. They did, however, have a nice selection of blunt objects that would be ideal for sparring practise, which I decided not to buy at the very last moment. After kicking around for a while at Samurai (the Japanese import store) we rang up Lyssa at home, swung by the apartment to get her, and the headed out to Sakura, the Japanese hibachi place out by where Lyssa works at the IBM industrial park to get dinner in the form of hibachi prepared before our very eyes.
Stanislaw Lem, author of some famous science-fiction stories over the years, such as Solaris, The Futurological Congress, and Tales of Prix the Pilot died at the age of 84. No other details were given about the nature of his death, though he did have a good run of things this time around. Mr. Lem, we'll miss you.
It's never pretty when someone from a local government winds up in a twit-of-the-week file, in this case, the mayor of Tuttle, Oklahoma.
It doesn't pay to use the cheapest stuff out there, especially when kids are involved. A few months ago Reebok included a charm bracelet with some of their shoes as a promotion. Four year old Jarnell Brown of Minneapolis, Minnesota died on 22 February 2006 after swallowing one of these charms and subsequently died of acute lead poisoning because the charms were 99.1% lead. Federal law says that jewelry can be no more than 0.06% lead in chemical composition.
Neat. (safe for work)
If you follow the medical news, or if you work in the field of healthcare, this shoudl give you a shiver: There is now at least one strain of tuberculosis code-named XDR (eXtensively Drug Resistant) that is immune to every anti-TB drug on the market right now. Occurrances of these germlines are now worldwide, with about 350 diagnosed cases between the years of 2000 and 2004, 74 of those cases alone in the United States. Patients undergoing treatment for infection in the US have a 64% mortality rate; the Dr. Marcos Espinale of the World Health Organisation is caling it a death sentence.
Great. Just great.
To lighten things up, the Melbourne Aquarium has on display a 250 kilogram giant squid frozen into a block of ice,/a> until the end of September 2006.
Very cool - LED-enabled stencil graffiti. This is definitely not a cheap activity, nor is it fast. There would be significant risk of capture if you actually tried this.
Just when you thought you couldn't pack circuitry into anything else, along come optical fibres with circuitry inside them. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Southampton, UK have figured out how to make optical fibres that are fully functional but are hollow and have microscopic integrated circuitry running through them. They've built various chains of components, including transistors (which are the basis of solid-state computing technology) running through entire strands from end to end.
An interesting article about science curricula in the state of Arkansas. A piece of advice to students down there: As long as you have a public library and half an hour, you can prevent school from getting in the way of your education.
I got to go home from work early yesterday because I'd been doing maintenance since 0200 EST yesterday, and after I got home I caught up on a couple of hours of sleep, until Lyssa called to wake me up so I could get her from the metro station. I tried to sleep for a while after we got home but never fell asleep. I got up in time for dinner and the arrival of Kash and Chris, who wanted to hang out for a couple of hours. We wound up hunting down a local movie theatre to see Nightwatch, an imported and subtitled Russian modern fantasy/horror movie that's been making its rounds in the artsy little theatres in the DC metropolitan area. At first, I was afraid that I'd have to drive into downtown DC but Kash thankfully found a much closer showing (to the tune of a ten minute drive down route 50) in a hidden strip mall.
The movie theatre, called the Cinema Arts, is one of the coolest theatres that I've ever been to. First of all, their prices on just about everything are quite affordable, and they make a big deal of letting folks bring food in from other places if they so choose as long as you're not a dick about it. Second, the food that you can buy at the concession stand is much more diverse than you'd expect of a movie theatre. In addition to the usual popcorn, soda, and candy, you can also get hummous, baba gannooj (roasted eggplant dip), cookies, home-cooked food... they basically have a hole-in-the-wall Mediterranean restaurant on site.
We also wandered around the mall a little and of the stores that were open around 2100 EST we were very impressed. There's a hobby store there that specialises in radio controlled models and wargaming figurines and a Japanese import store called Samurai, which has everything from Pocky (the anime fan's sixth food group) to cast iron teapots and suchlike. They even have tabi boots, which I've been looking for for ages. We're definitely going to have to go back there...
Nightwatch, if you've not heard of it (and I'm not able to give you the Russian title because I just don't remember it), it's a modern fantasy movie dealing with the essential balance between good and bad, light and dark. Some people are something more and awaken to this fact, and consequently have to choose which side they're going to serve. This is one of the biggest themes in the movie, which side would you be on, and would it be the 'right' side? The acting is good but will take some getting used to if you're not used to foreign films. The special effects are rare and complement the plot, instead of being an integral part of the plot or replacing it entirely. From time to time, the all-shaken-up-MTV-jumpcutting technique is used to good effect, though from time to time it's thrown in needlessly and makes the movie confusing and difficult to watch. The subtitles are short and sweet and unobtrusive, and are worked into the action of the movie in interesting ways, such as pulsing, fading in and out, appearing and disappearing as characters walk around. I've never seen anything like this before, and found it a nifty addition to the movie.
Near the end of the movie, a few of the major conflicts in the movie were, unfortunately, handled with handwaving and a little dialogue - hardly satisfying when they'd been built up so much over the course of the whole movie. The development of the character of Olga was as glossy as a grocery store checkout counter magazine. A few of the other characters were similiarly undeveloped, which I hope will change in the next two movies... yes, there are actually three *watch movies, of which Nightwatch is only the first. The fact that there are two sequels of unknown quality at this time is obvious because so much was left unfinished at the end of the movie. This was done deliberately.
Did I like Nightwatch? Yes. I'd go see it again, and I can't wait for the translation of the novel(s) from the original Russian for publication in the US. Could the movie be improved in places? Yes, it could. Is the movie good as-is? I think so. Just because there were a few dodgy bits doesn't mean that the whole movie must be bad. Do I recommend it to folks? Yes, if horror or modern fantasy are your cup of tea. Am I glad that I didn't have to drive into downtown Washington, DC? Yes, I am.
This is awesome - magnetic LED fridge art, just like a Lite-Brite. As if that isn't enough, check out Throwies - cheap self-contained LED lights that you can use for graffiti. Thanks, Elwing!
Here's an interesting ruling from the Supreme Court.. if multiple people live in a house and the police try to search it, all residents must give their say-so for it to be legally permissible. This came from a case called Georgia v. Randolph, in which the husband was a heavy cocaine user and the wife called the police on him. She gave permission for a warrantless search of the premises (which you are legally entitled to do) but the husband refused consent. The police entered and did their thing anyway, but it was taken to the Supreme Court, which decided that both of them had to give permission. This puts other kinds of searches in odd territory; specifically, domestic violence and dispute cases could be put in jeopardy by this.
One to keep an eye on, to be sure.
AT&T has thrown its hat into the ring on the side of a tiered Internet.
Another all-nighter at work, but this time I don't have the luxury of going to bed to get some sleep. It's 0923 EST and I'm at work doing my thing. Some days there isn't enough coffee in the world to keep going.
This is cool: Project Rockbox is developing and releasing opensource firmware for various .mp3 players, including the fourth and fifth generation iPods, the Archos Jukebox 5000, and the iRiver H100 and H300 series. Check out the webpage for more information.
It's not even 32 degrees Farenheit outside.. so where's the snow they've been promising?
Why do I suddenly get the feeling that I've just jinxed everything by writing that?
The FBI still doesn't have e-mail accounts for all of its agents because it can't afford them. I find this very hard to believe in this day and age. It doesn't take a lot of money to set up a good e-mail server for an office; setting up an e-mail infrastructure for an organisation the size of the FBI is a challenge to plan, to be sure, but it can still be done for not a lot of money. The hardware necessary these days is cheap, and building a RAID array to protect the mail store and OS isn't much more expensive unless you're buying a dedicated RAID appliance that holds a terabyte or two of data. You can do this for less than $4kus if you know what you're doing. If you wanted to go the open source route with Linux or OpenBSD and Qmail, you wouldn't be spending any money at all (unless you bought an OpenBSD CD set, because they don't distribute ISO-9660 images so you can burn your own disks). If you wanted to go the Microsoft Exchange route... come on, folks. Microsoft will go out of its way to cut a deal to keep entire companies and cities from going open source, why wouldn't they cut a deal with the bloody Federal Bureau of Investigation? It doesn't make sense. The idea that the FBI is cutting costs left and right when they're being funded out the wazoo in the name of the War on Terrorism(tm), I think, is jetwash.
Now this brings a smile to my face... today's goths are tomorrow's dentists, entrepreneurs, programmers, doctors, and just about everything else.
Mmmmm... Portuguese sweet rolls, which are about the size of crumpets but have the thickness of a couple of slices of bread, are wonderful things, especially to make sandwiches on. Go to your local Trader Joes and get some today...
Man, this is tasty.
The country of France has just done something very stupid, which is make it unsafe for information security researchers to find bugs. As a result, FrSIRT (French Security Incident Response Team) has not only pulled exploits from its public website but is now charging for access to them. Now, you're probably asking yourself why this would be a problem because less-skilled attackers out there will have a harder time messing around. This actually isn't true; first of all, just because FrSIRT no longer offers exploits does not mean that they can't Google for them on the web, which will return thousands of hits. Second, in cases where there are more experienced crackers working with less experienced groups, there is a better chance that they could be rewritten anyway. This takes time, which is what most sysadmins don't have because they have other things to do; clueful crackers tend to have more of it to spend on stuff like this. Third, a good many of the exploits are written by the underground anyway, and this will limit how fast they will leak out. Fourth.. you just don't have to go to FrSIRT. There are lots of other places Out There (like Securityfocus) that you can go to.
While this might not be a big problem from a practical standpoint, it does serve as an excellent example of bone-headedness and a complete lack of understanding of how to keep things secure.
A funny 404 page. (safe for work, but loud - turn down the volume)
In February I mentioned that I was following a news story about a woman who lost custody of her child because she is a Subgenius (if you're not familiar with The Church of the Subgenius, it's a parody religion that lampoons fundamentalist religion that's been around for close to thirty years now). I've found the woman's side of the story on the Net (thanks to too many people to mention here), and it's interesting, to say the least.
In case anyone out there would like to, oh, I don't know.. get in touch with Judge James P. Punch there are two business addresses that he can probably be contacted at:
Egosomnio has done some work tracking down the home address of Judge Punch, and it is either 10315 1/2 or 10315B (in all probability, the latter) Ridge Road; Medina, NY, 14103. You can also track down part of his legal history here. Check out the episode of the Hour of Slack that covers this fiasco.
I didn't get as much sleep as I'd hoped I'd get last night, but we have to work with what we've got. One of these days, the really neat conversations will start early, say, at noon.
As I'd mentioned earlier, a bunch of us (Lyssa, Kash, Chris, and myself) made a day of yesterday after driving to IHOP for breakfast around noon. I tried the stuffed French toast combo, which is tasty, to be sure, but not good for you. When you factor in the eggs, bacon, and hash browns it's well worth the $8us. After breakfast and hanging out for a while we headed for the Tyson's Corner Mall to kill time before catching an afternoon showing of V For Vendetta. Specifically we were waiting for Grant, Lyssa's brother to arrive, so we wound up bumming around Barnes and Noble for a couple of hours to see what they've got in stock. Of course, if you put four geeks in a two-story bookstore for a couple of hours, you're not going to find them bored, it's just that simple.
Not much that I can write about that and not be boring about it, I'm afraid. You walk around, you leaf through books, you read books, you jawbone about the comic books and manga and pitifully small collection of RPG sourcebooks.. that's about it.
After Grant arrived, we headed up to the third floor to catch the 1620 EST showing of V For Vendetta. I have to admit, I was very impressed by the movie.
I've been talking to folks who are fans of the original graphic novel and I've been hearing mixed opinions. I haven't yet read it, so I'm not qualified to compare the two. What I will say is that it's a good movie, no matter how you cut it. It was witty, it was packed with alliteration (which gave me new respect for Hugo Weaving's acting abilities), it's full of scathing political commentary (which was, I am given to understand, updated from the original story written in the 1980's), there are backhanded references to certain talking heads in today's broadcast and blogging media, and there is even a horse-doctor's dose of "shut up and think about this for a minute". It's easy to put yourself in the shoes of some of the characters - there are everyfolk characters that appear from time to time that ground the story at street level (vis a vis, the kid and the folks hanging out in the bar trying to relax in a world that tells them to be terrified). There are some fantastic culture jamming sequences in there, which would make any authoritarian, rigidly constructed political system look nervously over its collective shoulder. A few events torn from the pages of the daily paper and television are used to great effect. If you're knowledgable in such things as NLP, you'll no doubt find a demonstration or two of the subtlty of manipulation in and from the media when you least expect it.
Something I never got: Jokes about Natalie Portman, Slashdot to the commentary. I saw no dessication, no lack of pants, no hot grits being poured...
Sorry. Couldn't resist.
Natalie Portman did an excellent job as Evie. Bewildered, frightened, unsure of the world around her.. I found her convincing and thoughtful.
There were some interesting messages in the movie which, sadly, a lot of folks won't pick up on because they'll be focussed on the events of the movie and not why they were done and what they mean. I think the Wachowski brothers, while sneaking another delightfully subversive movie out of Hollywood, hooked into the post-9/11 and fundamentalist religion mindset a little too strongly, which is going to distract folks from the underlying ideas (you miss the fire for all the smoke, in other words).
Neil Gaiman raises the WTF flag.
DRM can't be turned off even if it might be dangerous in certain environments. At least, that's what the MPAA and RIAA, among other groups, think. These folks are pushing as hard as they can to get laws passed that will make Digital Rights Management technology mandatory is damn near everything, and they're not willing to make an exception for anything, not even possible loss of life. Imagine what would happen if the DRM chip in the COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) computer that runs the swipecard system for a building interfered with the software that runs the swipecard system and refused to let the doors open in an emergency.. driver conflicts suck, .DLL hell is just that, but this is a far worse problem.
This is cute: Skins for iPod Shuffles that indicate whether or not you'd like human contact.
Wasn't it investors throwing money left, right, and center at tiny startups one of the major causes of the dotcom bubble explosion back in 2000?
My grandmother always used to say, "Watch out what you say about people" and "Watch out what you tell people about yourself" because "you never know when it will be used against you."
I'll admit, I tend to fall on the paranoid side of life, so I've always kept those admonitions between my hearts, some stuff on this site to the contrary. In this time, when background checks are cheap enough to run on just about anyone and Google is the only search engine that people talk about, you just might not get your dream job because of what is out there about you. Not a few states have hire at will laws, which basically mean that working someplace is a privilege and not a right and you can be terminated for any reason at any time and they don't have to tell you why (Pennsylvania is big on that, in fact), but it can also be messy. This makes it much easier to figure out who you want to work with and who you don't want to deal with.
I have to admit, while writing about this I've stopped to think, "Am I going too far? Might I be screwing myself down the line? Is this a good idea?" for these very reasons. Another part of my mind dug up the following term: Chilling effect which, if you have been reading this site for a while, you know I've run into before.
Freedom of speech is a strange thing: On one hand, you can theoretically vent your spleen on just about any topic that you choose, and the folks around you can decide, first of all, whether or not they'll listen to you, and second of all, whether or not they agree with you. On the other hand, the people who come across your words or hear your voice can decide whether or not they'll react. They can decide to argue with you. They can decide to ignore you. They can decide to slag you right back (or start to slag you, depending on what you said or did). Freedom of speech works both ways. As for whether or not they will hire you or not, that's a different matter... it's a sign of maturity to disagree with someone but not fight with them and act in a professional manner, so long as they don't act like an asshole on the job. I disagree with people who would decide whether or not to hire a qualified individual purely on the basis of political opinions posted to a weblog, their circle of friends, their sexual orientation, and stuff like that. As long as they don't cause problems in the workplace, who cares? Not being a dick is part of being a professional. If you're willing to hire someone who is less qualified than you need purely because of what you've managed to dig up on the Net (which may not really be the person you thought they were, as the article alluded to, or which may be flat out lies) or because they happen to have the same faith or belong to the same organisation, then you need to step back and think about whether or not you're doing the right thing, and whether or not you're shooting your company in the foot because you're playing favourites instead of hiring the right person for the job.
I feel ever so much safer... the data network that forms the infrastructure of the Missile Defense Agency (have YOU ever heard of it before?) is so insecure that the developers can't guarantee that it won't be abused. Stop and think about this for a moment: A network connecting systems that are involved in watching out for and possibly stopping incoming missiles doesn't use encryption to protect traffic, uses shared passwords (lots of people use the same account and the same password, so there's no way of accounting for what person did what with each account), doesn't have any sort of centralised monitoring or auditing... Canada's sounding pretty nice right about now, what with North Korea and China testing missiles capable of delivering payloads to the United States.
Hwang Woo-Suk, former Korean geneticist, has been pitched out on his ear for faking his cloning research. He has lost his professorship in addition to eating crow over his peer-reviewed papers being torn to shreds.
Someone's patented the idea of a vitamin deficiency and is forcing doctors to charge royalties for performing vitamin deficiency tests and making the diagnosis.
Wow.. what a day.
Chris and Kash are still here - we've been hanging out pretty much all day today. They crashed at our place after the game last night...
Holy shit. I love my players.
We woke up around 1100 EST today and after getting dressed headed to the local International House of Pancakes to find breakfast because no one really felt like cooking today (after breakfast yesterday, dinner last night.. way, way too much bread, even though all of it was tasty). Today was one of those hang-out-and-talk-all-day days, where we eventually wound up at the mall to kill time while waiting for Grant to arrive so we could see V For Vendetta.
I didn't know a whole lot about the movie. In general I tend to stay away from mass media because I've got more important things to worry about, so aside from the existence of the movie I didn't know much about it.
I should probably go to bed because it's late and I want to write something intelligent about V For Vendetta, but I feel that I should at least write something. That something is this: I was very, very impressed by the movie. I won't say that the Wachowski brothers have redeemed themselves for the Matrix trilogy, but they've done a lot to get back into my good graces. The movie is very timely, and was updated to take into account the political situation of today. The message is subtle, biting, and I'm surprised that it made it past the censors in this day and age. I'm afraid that most people won't pick up on it, though.
Hugo Weaving is a minor deity.
Okay. I need to go to sleep.
Doctor Who premiere last night: Awesome.
The Sci-Fi Channel showed the first two episodes of season 27/1 last night, entitled 'Rose' and 'The End of the World'. As far as I can tell, they didn't cut anything or change any of the music or sound effects, safe for the opening sequence of 'Rose'. It is widely thought that the episode that was leaked to the Net last year was an almost-finished version, and I'm inclined to agree after comparing the soundtracks (the broadcast version is definitely clearer, and the voices are more easily understood), so hearing the final product was fun. One thing that really got to me was the fact that there were five commercial breaks per episode, spaced out roughly every nine minutes. Just as the plot got going, they'd cut to commercials.. the same sequence of three or four commercials each and every time.
Hey, Sci-Fi.. how about showing commercials for something else for a change?
We had a wonderful turnout at the apartment last night to watch the premiere: the.Silicon.Dragon and Loan came, as well as Jarin, Kash, Mika, and Hasufin. Kash left early to pick up his friend Chris from the bus station, but they arrived later in the evening to catch the second showing. Silicon was nice enough to buy pizza for everyone, and various forms of beer had been gotten earlier in the evening while Lyssa and I were running around getting supplies and convincing ourselves that yes, it is the weekend.
Hasufin, Chris, and I wound up staying up until late in the night after the showings were over (ye flipping gods, Stargate: Atlantis sucks!) sipping Southern Comfort and geeking over, of all things, organic and inorganic chemistry. It's amazing, what you can remember from undergrad when you've got a few in you.
This morning, Lyssa and I got up and somehow got ourselves together in time to run a few errands. Lyssa's been knitting like a fiend for the past month or so, and knocked out a couple of gifts for family members' upcoming birthdays, which were put in the mail while I was running around activating my new ATM card and buying a few things at the supermarket. We were picking up the fixings for breakfast for the full house (geez, we've had a lot of those lately) and got home in time to munch on scrambled eggs, goat cheese, and warm soda bread, fresh out of the oven. Lyssa and Kash spent the afternoon at the mall while I hung out with everyone else and got Chris ready to game with us tonight.. it's going to be interesting, in an "Oh God, oh God, we're all gonna die" kind of way.
| You scored as Gunshot. Your death will be by gunshot, probably because you are some important person or whatever. Possibly a sniper, nice, quick, clean shot to the head. Just beautiful.|
How Will You Die??
created with QuizFarm.com
A US Federal Appeals court overturned a law which relaxed the air pollution standards that govern factories, power plants, and refineries in the US. It was decided that the laws required a more strict approach than that signed off on by the Bush regeime. Good show, folks!
The Terrorist Information Act of 2006 will make it legal to monitor the communications of citizens of the United States of America without a warrant for a period of 45 calendar days if passed into law. Only probable cause will be necessary for the MiBs to flip a few bits in your local POTS switch and record your phone calls without anyone the wiser (climbing up on the telephone pole or breaking into your basement to put a set of gator clips onto your phone line is so 1980's after all...)
Advances in the science of prosthetics recently made at the University of Texas resulted in artificial muscles that are much stronger than the servomoters used for bionic limbs these days that run on hydrogen/alcohol fuel cells. The synthetic muscles are about 100 times as strong as organic muscles, which would make them difficult to integrate into a human body at this point in time (your muscles might be able to lift a Buick but your shoulder isn't, as an example). The basic principle behind them are thermoactive memory metals that contract when heated and relax when they cool.
The original Matrix trailer done with Muppets!
Once the stuff of cyberpunk novels, electronic extortion is become a popular methods for miscreants to milk people and companies of money. Losing access to one's files has been done before but this particular method improves upon the shortcomings of the last time (back in 1999) - a trojan horse called Cryzip is in the wild, and it is tailored for Win32 systems. What Cryzip does is go through the infected system without touching the systemware, compress files that have file extensions from a list (in the advisory - the usual Microsoft Office files are a given), and then encrypt them so that they can't be accessed (pretty standard ZIP+encryption functionality). In each directory hit, it leaves a text file behind that contains the account number of an anonymous e-gold account, an extortion threat (pay us $300us in e-gold or you'll never be able to decrypt your files), and instructions for setting up an e-gold account to pay the ransom. Someone's been reverse-engineering the .dll file that comprises the malware and has found a list of several dozen e-gold accounts scattered all over the Net, probably on the idea that the loss of a few accounts is expected so the cash will still come flowing in. It is interesting to note that this malware generates the text file on the fly, which is why a database of account numbers would be necessary. It should also be noted that because standard ZIP+encryption is used, you can throw pretty much any zipcracker out there at each file (there are even some open-source ones that can be found on $HPACV_SITE. It should also be noted that the key used to encrypt the files can be found in the .dll: C:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio\VC98.
The US DHS can't even keep its information infrastructure secure, rating an F after auditing. We're supposed to trust them to protect the United States? The SANS Institute discovered that they spend most of their money writing documentation and very little locking things down. As a sysadmin, I'm all for documentation, but how about actually doing something with it, guys? At some point, writing documentation stops being a necessary activity and starts being a means of procrastination.
I hate to say it, but credit card companies accepting applications that had been cut up and taped back together isn't new, carders were doing that back in the 1990's. The last time I'd heard of anyone doing it was 1997 or late 1996, and it had worked. A few credit card companies are claiming that this is little more than a prank but it isn't, it's a prevalent means of getting a usable credit card in someone else's name.
Peace in Iraq through high explosives. Do we live in Amestris or something?
Neat stuff, however, does come out of the military from time to time, like QuicClot.
A polymorphism in a gene called DRD4 may have something to do with ADD/ADHD. The DRD4 gene codes for dopamine receptors in the human brain; changes in genes cause requisite changes in the proteins synthesised that make up the receptor sites, which cause changes in functionality. The polymorphims Michael Jensen-Seaman discovered is a repetition of a sequence of 120 codons (think of rungs on a ladder). It's not conclusive, but it's pretty good evidence for this point in time.
Guess what? I haven't gotten any rest since last night's all nighter!
So THAT'S where that quote came from!
It's 0835 EST. I'm dead tired. I'm being kept awake by coffee and the remnants of the chocolate-covered espresso beans in my system. I need sleep. I'm at the office.
I'd love to write about cool stuff right now but I'm too bloody tired. Seeya later.
I finally got home from work today around 1300 EST and slept clear until 1730 or therabouts. I was dead tired from the last few days at work and whatnot and dearly needed some REM sleep, which I managed to get in spades. I don't remember a lot of the dreams, but the one I do remember involved a young guy covered in keloid scars, the kind you'd get from a very, very sharp knife. That is probably the only information I brought back from that dream.
Let me see.. tabs that have been piling up on various Firefox instances on my systems that I haven't been together enough to mention. Mr. Pat Robertson is at it again, and this time he's claiming that Islam isn't a peaceful religion, and that radical Muslims are satanic.
This coming from a man who supposedly follows the teachings of the prince of peace.
Oddly enough, I sort of agree with him on this. I'm not big on the whole dualism trip, but radical anyone or anything are definitely not following impulses that one could call conducive to evolution or peaceful interaction with anyone or anything. However, I wonder if he's looked in a mirror lately.. his remarks and calls to action are about as extreme and potentially distructive as some of the stuff the Islamic fundamentalists are known to do.
In the state of Virginia, a most interesting turn of events made it into the news: A bible study course was shouted down because "critical thinking" was included in curriculum. Interpretation is a dirty, nasty word these days, perhaps poised to join George Carlin's seven dirty words.
I really hope that folks like this keep yelling and making it into the news. That way, we not only know who they are and who they're associated with, but we can also know where they are and what they're up to. Keep making noise, guys, so we know where to find you.
This needs to make it onto the evening news.
This, too, come to think of it.
Yay! Another all-nighter!
In a lot of ways, this post at Something Awful describes college very well. (note: For the love of all that is good and decent in this universe, this isn't safe for work. It's Something Awful, for crying out loud!)
For something so tiny, it takes pretty big steps to advance.. experimentation on hamsters has lead to nerve regeneration. Researchers severed the optic nerves of hamsters, producing blindness, and then used a solution of nanoparticles - specifically, synthetic peptides which formed a webwork of nanofibres that bridged the gaps in the served nerves. It was that webwork of nanofibres that allowed the nerves to reconnect themselves before scar tissue (which would impede the process) could form. Even more interesting is that hamsters which were fully grown, which implies a lack of regenerative capability also healed after the process. After everything was said and done, the nanofibre network was metabolised by the hamsters and excreted normally.
No word yet on when human trial will begin. I'd expect it'll be another decade at least, the way medical science tends to work.
Wild children of the past and present have heard stories of 'juvenile boot camps', which are quasi-military detention facilities in which the worst of the worst are broken and reformed into model citizens. In general, if you get sent to one of these, you really fucked up, and life as you know it is over. From time to time, stories like this wind up in the news; stories of kids at camps like this whose life really is over. In the news article I linked to, a 14 year old died as a result of the injuries he suffered because a few of the guards at the boot camp kicked the stuffing out of him. A recording made by one of the securicams at the facility recorded the incident. No one has been disciplined in any way or fired. The camp was quietly mothballed.
Oh, wonderful. Monkeywrenching RFID by deploying malicious RFID tags to take out the back end.
Happy Pi Day, everyone!
It's interesting: Give people a chance to hide whatever they want and they hide some pretty interesting stuff, especially when the public might have a need to know (such as what security and emergency procedures your local elementary school has in place).
This is interesting - the results of the toxicology screening of the body of Slobodan Milosevic are in, and he was given conflicting drugs that prevented his blood pressure from lowering. Nobody's gone on the record as saying if this had something to do with the heart attack that killed Milosevic, though. He was old and had been through a lot, so it's up in the air, from a practical perspective.
Well, the US is pushing through its RFID-enabled passports even after they've been proven to be easily compromised. So far, only US diplomats are using them, but they are scheduled to go into widespread use in October of 2006.
It's funny, the laws that get passed... it was the free press that spread the word of the US government illegally monitoring US citizens, and this lit a fire under the collective ass of some folks high up in the food chain. A law is now afoot that would make it illegal for anyone to report on the surveillance of US citizens for good or for ill. Mike Dawson, senior policy advisor to Senator Mike DeWine of Ohio (the bill's author) says that this was not intended to quiet reporters... this bill could go befor the Senate next week. The bill specificially covers the intentional disclosure of information pertaining the current regeime's surveillance programme, with maximum penalties of up to $1mus and/or 15 years in prison.
We had another weekend of fun, games, and running around, and for some reason it was very relaxing and an awful lot of fun. Lilly was still in town this week for spring break (two weeks for spring break - I never had that) and she and Solo were enjoying time with each other.
On Friday night, Lyssa and I packed up our gear and drove out to Seele's apartment in Maryland to hang out and generally get back in touch with one another, because I've been too bloody busy since I got down here to hang out. Lyssa and I discovered that she doesn't live all that far away from the World Tree in Gaithersburg, though being able to find the store doesn't mean that you can find the maze of apartment buildings and condos that she lives in, let alone parking for it. It was Elwing who eventually found us and talked us in. Once we found parking Lyssa and I hiked through the centre of town (about a five minute journey) to Crepes A-Go-Go to get dinner, in the form of smoked turkey and cheese crepes, with fresh fruit, chocolate, and whipped cream (I had the apples and cinnamon crepe, while Lyssa had the bananas, strawberry, and Nutella crepe).
Holy cats. The nectar of the gods, I tell you. Even though they were busy handling the dinnertime crowd of kids and shopping parents, the food was excellent, the help attentive, and the service surprisingly good (they even brought out our desserts when we were done!). The fare there is a little bit pricy (dinner for Lyssa and I was about $30us in total) but well worth the money. Crepes A Go-Go: One flaregun. If you're even in Gaithersburg, Maryland (514 Main Street, zip code 20878), stop in here.
Lyssa and I wound up hanging out at Seele's place until 0200 EST or so on Saturday morning. Justin was there (who was nice enough to let me copy a few gigs of music out of his archive), along with Elwing, Brian, and a couple of other folks whose names I don't remember because I honestly don't hang out with them enough. Eventually, Grant, Lyssa's brother joined us also. We wound up sitting around drinking, venting our spleens, complaining about work, talking about this and that and the other thing... we did what we do best, and that was geek out. Elwing showed off screenshots of her MythTV box booting.. from her television. I wound up getting a lot off my chest with respect to the price of disk-based storage and how difficult it can be to configure it properly, among other things. I decided to pass on the drinking games; we never did get around to playing or watching anything that I brought with me. Oh, well.
Unlike the last time we hung out with folks, I didn't get paged while I was there to fix anything. Yay.
Come Saturday morning, while Lyssa and I were soundly asleep, we recieved a call from Kash - Lilly and Solo were over at Rialian's and looking to hang out this afternoon (Kash was going to a birthday party for Tessa in the vicinity of the Cambodian Embassy later on, which left a bit of a logistical problem) so we invited them over by way of stopping off for breakfast and got ourselves awake, cleaned up, and dressed. By the timewe were ready to go, everyone had arrived, and we really were getting ready to go. Lyssa and I had a few places to go tomorrow so we decided to make a day out of it. Jarin arrived shortly therafter, and after getting everyone situated we piled into the TARDIS (no Bill and Ted jokes, please) and set out. We went in search of a store called Uniquity, which is a yarn and knitting store in the area so that Lyssa could find a size ten circular knitting needle, and after a lot of driving around in the back roads of northern Virginia we finally found the place (after stopping in at a small toystore that reminds me a lot of H.W.Randall's back in Pittsburgh) and calling the store, only to discover that we were a good ten minutes in the opposite direction. Not that big a deal. Back to the car, and to the store.
Uniquity is a very small knitting store that I think used to be a school (judging by the ceilings, water fountain, and placement of the rooms) that is packed wall to wall and floor to ceiling with skeins of yarn as long as your leg. You can easily buy enough yarn to knit a full-sized sweater or an afghan for just a couple of bucks, and you'll find some pretty interesting patterns there. I'm not much of a knitter (I've got other stuff on my plate that I plan on learning first) but I can appreciate the attraction of it. I wandered around the store for a while but eventually headed outside to join Jarin and Solo, who were hanging around outside. Eventually, we headed back to the car and drove to the local Chipotle franchise to get lunch. I had to drop everyone off outside because the Safeway next door, apparently, has hired security guards to make sure that no one who isn't a customer can park there. I drove around for a while until I found a parking space behind the building, wandered off to get a cup of coffee, and then joined everyone inside the restaurant.
Earlier Saturday, I found it odd that Lilly was taking pains to cover each and every inch of skin that she could. I found out that her body has porphyria, which would require her to block out as much UV light as she could.
After lunch we headed back to the back roads of the area to nose around a bit more and stopped in at the frozen custard place a few streets off of the main drag. Their fare's pretty tasty, and home-made to boot. It's worth the time to find the place.. I hope I can find it again, actually. I didn't grab a menu or anything while I was there. While sitting around eating frozen custard, a few of us started pondering Jake Day this year out loud.
We also found our first witchy shoppe in Virginia, tucked way, way back out of the way at the edge of the town. It was called Terr Christi or something like that (I didn't think to grab a business card while I was there). The store, like many in that area, is tiny and cramped but stuffed full of things. The book selection has a lot of fluff but also a few gems that I won't have time to read right now, and a full shelf of reiki-related materials. The 'toys', as I like to call them, were sparse and mostly of the fluffy bunny sort. Lots of crystals and suchlike; no silicon, no germanium, no gallium arsenide...
Jarin did get a gift which he wasn't expecting while he was there, one which made my knees hurt to be around it. Mental note: Go back there and strike up a conversation.
Evening came around and we headed home by way of the supermarket to get stuff for dinner.. we had quite a few guests last night, and we didn't have enough in the larder to cover everyone. Fixings for turkey burgers and the trimmings were acquired, and we headed back to make dinner.
While dinner was on we sat around talking or playing games.. I wound up in a game of Lunch Money with Mika, Jarin, and Lilly until dinner was ready, and got beaten soundly (no pun intended) both times, though I gave everyone a run for their money. We sat around eating dinner and, yep, hanging out and talking last night.
Jarin left somewhen around 2100 or 2200 EST night.. I'm not sure of the exact time.
Hasufin, Mika, and I wound up in a game of Illuminati until late in the night, battling back and forth across the planet until we reached a stalemate. Until I remembered a rule of playing chess: When in doubt, take a pawn.
The shindig broke up around 0200 EST, when Lilly and Solo crashed for the night and Mika and Hasufin headed back home. I waited up until Kash arrived and helped him get settled in (he left for Tessa and Pod's place earlier in the evening) and then crashed for the night.
Lyssa woke me up some time this morning after making breakfast for everyone who'd stayed the night. Lyssa used the left-over hamburgers from last night and cheese to make a mother-huge omelette that got everyone going.. until I went back to bed to catch another twenty winks or so.
Lilly's on her way back to school to finish out the semester. Solo, I hope, is getting some more sleep because he's been run ragged.
It's amazing, the stuff you find laying around the Net these days, like the identities of CIA operatives.
To quote the Principia Discordia, don't look at me, man, I didn't do it.
Huh. Cindy Sheehan was arrested at the UN on 6 March 2006 for attempting to deliver a petition.
Interesting, but wrong solar system.
I've just made a minor change to the Network's DNS configuration, which I hope will make access more reliable from the outside. The changes should finish propagating by Monday at the latest. If anyone has any problems, contact me by cell or my secondary e-mail address.
What a beautiful day, today.. it's already about 65 degrees Farenheit, the air is clear (and hopefully will be for a good part of the day), there is a soft breeze.. if spring hasn't come to BAMA, it's hopefully well on its way. Lyssa says that she heard it raining outside some time last night, though if it was everything's dried up in the DC metropolitan area. I really wish that I could go outside to enjoy the rest of today. Maybe I should have opted to work from home...
Oh, gods... for the love of all that is holy... they made a sequel to the Dungeons and Dragons movie?! I guess someone needed a tax writeoff this year.
Regarding the flyby of Enceledus, a moon of Saturn, by the Cassini probe yesterday: Images have been released by NASA. NASA reps, answering the inevitable questions about life on the moon (why is it that water means life by implication to these people?) stated that life, if there was any, would be of the extremophiliac variety (microorganisms that thrive under extreme conditions, such as heat, cold, or in environments toxic to other lifeforms).
How is it that Tom DeLay, who's up on charges in Texas, was able to win the GOP's primary in Texas? Isn't it odd that you can be under active investigation for fraud and still be able to run? Hell, he's been before the House of Representatives ethics commitee so often in the past year that they set aside a special seat for him. If you or I tried that we'd be run out of thestate on a rail.
If you've been keeping an eye on the US lately (and who hasn't been?), you've probably heard that the state of South Dakota recently banned abortion under all circumstances; they fought tooth and nail to remove provisions for rape and incest, which left everyone scratching their heads. A couple of days ago, the minutes of the panel that met in December of 2005 to discuss the issue were published, and head-scratching has turned to hair pulling. Gems scattered among the notes included all of the scientific and medical research, documentation, and peer reviewed papers being ignored but the most fantastic statements accepted as fact (on the record, no less). Review of medical procedure was not done but yet the word eugenic was bandied about (nevermind the fact that abortion doesn't actually improve one's offspring, it eliminates them). They also accepted as fact that abortion increases risk of breast cancer (umm.. guys? wrong end of the female body.) It even came out that they refused to allow for incest because "97% of the time birth from incest produces healthy babies."
That's not the point! These yahoos apparently are not familiar with the definition of the word 'incest', so let me make it more clear for the lawmakers in South Dakota: They were talking about sexual abuse, you idiots!
This isn't going out to anyone in particular, but I think you should know that iBill, the credit card clearinghouse for most of the porn sites on the Net, has exposed the details of all of their transactions between the years of 1998 and 2003, which is something like 17 million people.
I guess sales of American Express pre-paid credit cards (which are a pretty cool idea, actually) are going to go up as a result.
Here's a heads-up for you: NASA is supposed to go live at 1400 EST today with a report from the Cassini spacecraft exploring space around Saturn - the probe may have discovered liquid water on the moon Enceladus. The latest images transmitted to Earth by Cassini show what appear to be geysers on this particular moon of Saturn. This is unique in that it suggests liquid water very close to the surface of the moon instead of being buried under kilometers of ice or rock, as hypothesised to be the case with the satellites of Jupiter and Saturn. Cassini will fly-by Enceledus again in the spring of 2008, which will no doubt be a prime chance for further investigation.
Gentle readers, start your search engines.
Speaking of search engines, it took a few greps to find this in my archives: Early last year, one Guillaume Tena, a French security researcher was brought up on charges for finding a vulnerability in Virguard. A few days ago his appeal was denied, which sets a nasty precedent for security research because they're claiming that finding the bug constituted copyright infringement. No word yet on whether or not they actually fixed the damn bug in Virguard...
As for what they are saying constituted copyright violation, it turns out that the report Guillaume published contained 65 bytes of code, not even a sentence, to prove that the bug existed. 65 bytes out of.. I'll take a guess and say about 5.1 million bytes in total (given the size of software these days).
Somebody with much better concert-fu than I has posted her photographs from the Sisters of Mercy concert on Tuesday, and she's got some damn fine shots in her collection, let me tell you. She also got a good look at the setlist taped to one of the monitors on stage.
Needless to say, this yahoo isn't getting my vote.
I slept a good deal of yesterday, as the late hours were spent pulling an all-nighter for work as part of routine system maintenance. Yesterday afternoon was spent running to the bank, picking up a new black ink cartridge for Lyssa's printer, and secretly hunting for a circular size 10 knitting needle for her, which do not seem to be found anywhere on the face of this planet. I don't know who's running around buying up all of them, but I wish they'd stop it. Dilemma came over for an early dinner (which wound up being a snack for me, because I got up at 1200 EST yesterday) and we wound up hanging out for quite a while before heading out to downtown DC for the show. Lyssa wore her frilly shirt and jeans while I broke out my black BDUs, turtleneck sweater, and InSoc t-shirt.
The trip to downtown DC took.. let me see... we left at 1700 EST, got there around 1915 EST... that sounds about right. Rush hour traffic was horrific, much to my surprise. Normally, folks are trying to get out of DC at the end of the work day but last night things were opposite that. We discovered, driving past the White House, that some sort of shindig was going on because security was out in full force and the parking lot of the building to the side (which I don't remember the name of) was full of vehicles and the rich, influential, and powerful walking in. I tried playing "count the snipers" as we drove past but it was too dark, and the telltale silhouettes couldn't be seen.
After finding parking, made much easier by the commandeered parking lot down the street from the 9:30 Club, the three of us hiked back to the club and stood outside with folks who hadn't been waiting there too long, as we found, because the show wasn't sold out. Somehow Dilemma's "hey, come talk to me" mojo was working last night and we struck up conversations with a young woman who'd come down from Pennsylvania and a gentleman with full face and head tattoos that were impressively detailed.
Our first stop, after picking up our tickets, was the swag booth, where Lyssa and I bought a couple of t-shirts apiece. There's nothing like a long-awaited concert to give one an excuse to buy some new threads..
The opening band, the Warlocks, was proof positive that Andrew Eldritch didn't want a repeat of the fiasco in Philadelphia back in 1997. When the Warlocks first took the stage (two guitarists, a bass guitarist, and two drummers), I had the unsettling feeling that things were not looking too hopeful. The first few riffs they played reminded me a little bit of Joy Division; things went west when the lead singer opened his mouth.
"Okay. So they're just getting warmed up," I thought to myself. This was not the case.
The guitarists of the Warlocks seem to be in love with four distinct rock riffs, which they played as if they were going out of style. The lyrics were unutterably bad, as if the folks at Troma Entertainment decided to form a goth band in their off hours. Excuse me.. that's being horribly cruel to the guys at Troma. While they had an excellent grasp of bass guitar (which was turned up so high that the fabric of my BDUs quivered with each hit and I could feel my ribs resonating, which I actually enjoy while at a concert) everything else was, as Lyssa put it, "Stunningly mediocre."
Between the Warlocks and the Sisters, I think they used up every last drop of fog juice on the face of the planet. The Sisters can make that work to their advantage. The other band did it so that we couldn't get a good look at them, so no one knew who to jump after the show in the parking lot. Around the third or fourth song, the audience stopped being kind and headed for the bar. Even I wandered back there to pick up a $7us shot of Captain Morgan (which made the guy behind the bar turn white - "You don't really drink that, do you?" he asked me) to try to dull the pain of bad lyrics. If Captain Von was worried about being upstaged by these guys, he didn't have to worry at all. They couldn't decide if they wanted to pretend to be Joy Division or the Cure and did both poorly.
Thankfully, the gods smiled down upon us and the Warlocks left the stage, followed by their stage gear. At this point in time, it was just a waiting game until the Sisters of Mercy took the stage. Somehow, Lyssa and I managed to entertain ourselves until the lights went out. One thing we noticed was that the stage was left very sparsely dressed: Once most of Warlock's audio gear was broken down, all that was left was the smoke machines and a lot of lighting hardware. We were concerned that something was amiss - where were all the amps? Where were the racks of guitars? Where was the keyboard? Where was Doktor Avalanche?
As it turns out, the Sisters are only three people now, Andrew Eldritch and two guitarists (whom I didn't recognise - the guy closest to Lyssa and I was wearing a white leisure suit and a leather flyaway shirt, the other guy a yellow mesh tanktop). There was no keyboard on stage, nor was there a cyberpunk-chic drum machine. Instead there was a bald guy behind the lighting rig and quite a few PA speakers running what I presume was a more pedestrian bank of sequencing hardware. Come to think of it, he looked an awful lot like Fred Maher, but that is beside the point.
Captain Von is showing his age; I'm pretty sure that he was losing his hair anyway and decided to shave his head completely. Strangely, this is a look that suits him quite well. He was wearing his trademark leather jeans and stompers, an acid yellow raver t-shirt under a mesh t-shirt, and a black leather sport coat. He appears to have long since ditched the aviator sunglasses in favour of a pair of smaller sunglasses with rectangular frames. Between his (lack of) hairstyle, 'shades, angular (almost polygonal) features, and strangely spastic twitching and clenched fists and jaw he looks an awful lot like Max Headroom these days. One thing that hasn't aged well is Eldritch's voice, though. Between his chain smoking on stage (and reputation for same offstage) and probably quite a few different forms of alcohol through the years, his vocal cords are not in the best of shape anymore. He couldn't really sing before, but now he sounds like he's in pain at least some of the time. A few times during the concert his voice broke and he had to skip entire verses, and during his trademark echobox-backed yell here and there he couldn't maintain tone. Still, this didn't deter him from chainsmoking while on stage.
The Sisters played quite a few songs from all through their collection. They did a few off of Vision Thing, like Vision Thing, Detonation Boulevard, and Doctor Jeep. They also did one or two off of Floodland, namely Dominion, Lucretia, and Flood II. Unfortunately, they didn't play This Corrosion, which is practically the anthem of the gothic subculture. I guess when every crowd you've played in front of since 1988 wants to hear it, you'd get a little tired of it.
They also played some rarer songs, like On the Wire. I've been searching my archive of Sisters lyrics and I think they played some new songs, because I don't seem to have the lyrics to them anywhere. Of course, I could be wrong, and I might just have missed a song or two (anyone know of a song which includes the line "crash and burn", for example?).
There are two things that I wish. One, I wish that I'd remembered my full size digital camera; I accidentally left it at home after cleaning it off and had to make do with my camera phone. Two, I wish that I'd written down the set list. In truth, I was more worried about enjoying the show than I was about taking notes in the middle of the crowd. I'm pretty sure that someone who is a more rabid fan than I had taken full notes, so when I find them on the Net I'll link to them.
I've decided that the Sisters of Mercy possess a supernatural power called arcane. If you're not familiar with Mage, arcane is an ability in which the character is very difficult to remember: Recordings tend to fail and memories are very fuzzy, for example. Trying to take photographs at the concert was, to be blunt, harder to than finding a virgin in a maternity ward. Every time I'd raise my camera phone, either one of the stage lights would swing forward and blot the image out, a fog machine would go off, $BAND_MEMBER would turn around/head for the back of the stage/move suddenly and ruin the focus, or the guy in front of me would jump up and down and his hair would get in the way. I don't have many good images; Lyssa's got quite a few, but she got a horse doctor's dose of concert-fu at some point in the past. At any rate, I'll get those images up as soon as they are retrieved from our respective phones.
The Sisters put on one hell of a show... the hot red, yellow, and orange lights.. the smoke machines.. Eldritch standing on stage commanding the attention of each and every person in the place.. the screaming guitars and melodies.. definitely the highlight of my year. At one point during Detonation Boulevard Eldritch stopped singing (by this time it was very difficult to make out his words because his voice was so broken up; the sound of bubbling could also be heard, which makes me wonder exactly how congested his lungs are these days with tar and mucus - kids, don't smoke!) and the audience picked up the lyrics. I was very surprised that this happened, but it was a nifty thing to experience.
They came out for two encores in a row after much shouting and stomping on the part of the crowd, another positive sign. The other positive sign was the distribution of the crowd: I was impressed to see folks from the younger set, from college age all the way down to baby bats, still in high school who knew of tracks from First and Last and Always, which isn't usually the first Sisters album that comes to mind. On the other side of the equals sign, there were fairy gothmothers who still sported mohawks and piercings and looked every inch as if they'd never gotten rid of them. Aside from a couple of wilsons who got completely smashed before the concert even started (though I think they weathered the opening gig far better than the rest of us as a result) and tried to start a mosh pit. They were taken down from behind and dragged out of the audience, to what fate I know not.
That aside, the crowd was awesome.
When the show was finally over, Dilemma, Lyssa, and I headed back to the car and set course for home, by way of... you guessed it.. Amphora for a very late dinner. Before the show we'd only had a bowl of Lyssa's gumbo apiece, so we found ourselves very dehydrated and hungry. There's nothing like a broiled crab cake sandwich with the trimmings to take the edge off before packing it in for bed. I crashed around 0130 EST today and slept clear through until 0700, when it was time to get up and ready for work.
When I got home from work today Lyssa and I crashed for a few hours.. until the phone ringing woke me up. I was late for my appointment with H and R Block to get my taxes done. Rather than reschedule again I threw clothes on and headed for the TARDIS to drive to their local office, though I wound up sitting there for another 45 minutes until my tax-caseworker had cleared her docket. We'll see how things turn out in the end.. I lost a lot of stuff that I probably could have used for deductions in the move, seeing as how I could deduct the expenses of moving and all the stuff I donated to Goodwill before I left Pittsburgh.
Heh... how to make nitrous oxide from a magazine way back when.
This doesn't exactly make me feel all that secure, for some reason: The Bush administration is adding functionality to the DHS to make it easier for them to work with so-called faith-based initiatives. Specifically, the executive order is supposed to remove any and all obstacles that would prevent these programmes from participating in federal programmes. What it doesn't say is that they have to help all comers..
Yep, it's time for another all nighter...
There is, at this time, a concerted effort to prevent or cut laws pertaining to the proper labelling of food products made in the US. Unsurprisingly, the lawmakers in Washington behind this are in the pockets of lobbyists hired by the big produce and food manufacture companies. Hearings on this have been nonexistent, and this could explain why. The matters in question have to do with levels of heavy metallic compounds in fish, such as mercury (it's interesting that doctors now tell pregnant women to eat no more than one can of tuna a week because the levels of mercury could harm the fetus) and I'd bet the changes in FDA certification of foodstuffs said to be 'organically grown or manufactured'. State laws are also coming under fire by this effort, but they're falling much more readily.
Wow - this guy seems to be more worried about executions and punishments than schools or taxes.
Holy shit. If this isn't CG, someone built a transformer, and I don't mean a DC current power supply. If it's CG, someone put a lot of time and love into it (ala Breakformers) but if it isn't, they've figured out how to build self-reconfiguring technology, albeit on a much smaller scale. A small wheeled robot is shown running around on a desktop under wireless control, but then it breaks in half, stands up, unfolds arms, and becomes a humanoid figure. The figure shuffles forwarda few steps, gives the highball sign, and turns back into a rover.
What a weekend... I had a wonderful time with Lyssa, as you can probably tell even if you're not into what I mentioned not too long ago. Heh.
We had a wonderful time with Kash, Solo. Jarin, and Lily (Solo's SO, who was in DC for spring break visiting) on Saturday. We parted ways sometime Saturday afternoon as they were going museum hopping in downtown DC while Lyssa and I trekked to a gaming store called the Game Parlor in Chantilly, Virgina. The Game Parlor is a very large, very well stocked gaming store.. if you're after something, chances are you'll find it there. They've got at least a couple of supplements for most every system out there (and not a few that you've probably never heard of, like Morpheus), card games out the yin-yang (even INWO - anyone want to play a couple of rounds?), board games, wargames, card games, and even a stuffie hound of tindalos by the cash register. What bothered us the most about the store was the fact that everything that can be shrink wrapped closed is - you can't look at anything unless you take it up to the front and have it unwrapped for you, ostensibly because of all the kids and the fact that they sell candy and soda there (they pretty much have to because half of the store consists of tables set up for people to game on). While you can find lots of stuff, it's a bit of a hassle to see if it's really what you want to buy.
The other thing that threw me is the price of gaming stuff these days. A single Shadowrun supplement is now up around $25us; back when I was playing, they tended to average around $16us. I guess that's inflation for you. To give a sense of perspective, the Unknown Armies core book that Lyssa bought was about $40us.
Kash came back to the apartment around 1600 EST on Saturday, as he was still not feeling quite up to snuff after fighting off the flu last week, and spent some time relaxing and recuperating while Lyssa and I napped.
We wound up sitting around watching television Saturday night, Firefly at first and later on Adult Swim on Cartoon Network. Hasufin came over later in the night to borrow the user of the ironing board and iron to patch a pair of pants and wound up hanging out until early in the morning Sunday talking about Unknown Armies, security clearances, and suchlike.
Sunday morning brought with it basic maintenance and a trip to the local bagel place for breakfast. For some reason, and I think it had to do with the reiki attunement on Saturday, I'd had a raging case of the munchies. I mean of the sort where I wasn't physically hungry but I absolutely had to have something to eat but I didn't know what. A bagel with cream cheese and a chunk of coffee cake with the density of a brick and a solid layer of crumb topping that had to be at least half a stick of butter actually satisfied my craving. I think I was craving dairy protein or dairy fat.
I wonder what compounds are in those that my chassis needed so badly...
After hitting up the local grocery store for supplies, we went home and did very little of anything. I spent a good bit of the day writing and reading while she worked on the scarf she's been knitting. When it came time to take Lyssa to knitting class I stopped off at the local computer store to pick up some hardware for the new firewall, viz, a new CD-ROM drive and a pair of 3Com network cards (3c905B's), then headed home to hack around some more on the box. I got the new server on the network and updated, installed a few more things, and started configuring the new kernel for, among other things, quality of service and traffic shaping to give better performance on the Lab network.
After I picked Lyssa up from class we headed home and made dinner, in the form of ravioli with a slightly modified sauce, and then sat down to spend the evening together.
More video recordings of the situation in NOLA which contradict the official story are leaking out, leaving the spin doctors scrambling to get back on their game. The governor of Louisiana is shown assuring FEMA bigwigs that the levees were holding up hours after they broke is shown, as are the relief plans put in place by FEMA which they then didn't follow.
In other news, AT&T has announced that it'll be buying Bellsouth for $67bus in stock and the assumption of $22bus of Bellsouth's debt. This move would not only make it the #1 telecom company in the USA but it would also make it the largest cell provider in the US. Yearly revenues are projected to be around $120bus.
Looks like Ma Bell's calling Her children home for a family reunion.. to eat as dinner.
I/O Error's in trouble up in Canada - since Citibank's ATM peers in Canada, the UK, and Russia have been compromised by unknown intruders transactions in other countries are resulting in entire accounts being frozen. This has been an extant problem for, and get this: Two weeks, and judging by the fact that using a card outside of your area can get your account locked, they haven't gotten around to fixing the damn problem yet. He's going to have to return to the US to change his PIN, and get his account unlocked.
Remember Skype partnering with Intel to cripple conference calling if you're not running a true-blue Intel CPU? Skype's been hacked to work around it now. Kudos!
| Modern, Cool Nerd |
82 % Nerd, 82% Geek, 30% Dork
| For The Record: |
A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.
A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.
A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.
You scored better than half in Nerd and Geek, earning you the title of: Modern, Cool Nerd.
Nerds didn't use to be cool, but in the 90's that all changed. It used to be that, if you were a computer expert, you had to wear plaid or a pocket protector or suspenders or something that announced to the world that you couldn't quite fit in. Not anymore. Now, the intelligent and geeky have eked out for themselves a modicum of respect at the very least, and "geek is chic." The Modern, Cool Nerd is intelligent, knowledgable and always the person to call in a crisis (needing computer advice/an arcane bit of trivia knowledge). They are the one you want as your lifeline in Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (or the one up there, winning the million bucks)!
Also, you might want to check out some of my other tests if you're interested in any of the following:
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Love & Sexuality
Thanks Again! -- THE NERD? GEEK? OR DORK? TEST
|My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:|
|Link: The Nerd? Geek? or Dork? Test written by donathos on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test|
Wow. I'm kind of like Chris in Real Genius, I guess.
It's 1312 EST on 4 March 2006. Lyssa and I just recieved Reiki attunements from Jarin. I've taken the first stage; Lyssa recieved a trash-punch. Both of us are tripping our wingnuts off on it.
I can't stop laughing and I want to draw. Lyssa's very much enjoying life right now.
Who the hell needs drugs?!
Memo to myself: List of things to do in the near future:
There. Now I've got a list to check stuff off of.
Worth1000.com is at it again - this time their contest is urban animal remixes. My favourite has to be the hermit crab/traffic cone combo.
Neat! http://www.brickshelf.com/cgi-bin/gallery.cgi?f=131837My namesake in Lego!
Yesterday afternoon the US Senate voted 89-10 to make 14 of the 16 provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act permanant. The remainder, which are the ones that make the secret search and seizure of private records of libraries and companies possible, have been extended another presidential term.
Things got kind of cut off last night.. Lyssa and I nipped out around 2100 to spend some time with her brother. We hopped on the Metro and rode the train a couple of stops east until we resurfaced about a block away from his building and joined him at IHOP (the International House of Pancakes) for a couple of hours. Grant was nice enough to go over some stuff I've written for a project I've been working on at home and we spent some time hanging out and just catching up. Between the two of us, we'd only had a bowl of soup for dinner so a bowl of chili and a biscuit really hit the spot..
At some point I'm going to finish that paper I've been working on, I really will. I left it to simmer on the back burner for a while and I've noticed that I'm going to need to do some more testing, preferably with different hardware. I think the limited data set I've been working from has given me a skewed idea of what's possible, and at this time, the way I see it, there are two possibilities here: Either publish as-is with a disclaimer (which doesn't sound like a good idea, and would basically be writing for the sake of writing and not teaching) or rework it with more data. Or I could write it up as a case study, now that I think of it, and frame it as one of those strange mercenary anecdotes that more often comes up over a beer at a conference.
I've decided to give Devil Linux another shot after reading a book I borrowed from one of the folks at work yesterday. I've been planning to construct a new firewall for a while now, and I'e been messing around with another distro, LEAF (Sourceforge is bogged down again, imagine that) but while I like all of the possible packages available for it I've been having problems doing what I want with it, which is installing it to a CompactFlash card and running it in place of a hard drive in Lain. I'm shooting for a minimal-moving-parts firewall with Lain, but while it's theoretically possible to set up LEAF on a CF card and boot off of it, I'm not certain I've done it right. I just got around to digging out one of my lab machines but it's got a wrecked floppy drive (I can never keep those damn things functional..) and a bad CD-ROM drive, so on one hand it should be simple.. but on the other it could wind up being a bigger pain in the ass than I need. I'm going to start small first, with a bootable CD and floppy disk to hold the configs of Devil Linux to see what I can make happen.. on another lab machine.
Dammit. I need to organise stuff better. Not only in the office but in what I plan on doing.
Somebody figured out how to hack the Kinko's credit cards to add money to them, and Kinko's claimed it couldn't be done. Check out the response, including the screenshot.
Check this out - a new Transformers comic, sidelined Evolution is coming out in June of 2006, and get this, the four issues are set during the Industrial Revoluion. I'm going to be subscribing at the local comic shop soon...
Penn and Teller made a videogame back in the day? (mirror forthcoming, of course)
Thought of the day: A burst page (or banner) is an arbitrary file generated by a print server to separate the print jobs of users for easier sorting. This file could be theoretically replaced by anything... such as a .JPG of your choice converted into PostScript and dropped into the right directory.
That could be amusing, in a horrifying sort of way.
I've been wondering when something like this would happen.. a Veterans' Affairs nurse in Albuquerque, New Mexico is under investigation for sedition because she wrote a letter to her local newspaper criticizing George W. Bush's handling of Iraq and NOLA. She's up to her elbows in the aftershocks of these screwups - she's helping the folks who weren't so lucky.
Sedition, if you're not familiar with the term, is the act of inciting rebellion or uprising against the state.
Something's been kicking around in my head for a while now, and something brought it to the forefront. A couple of days ago at a clearance sale, I picked up a Mixman DM2, which is basically a pair of something approximating turntables for mixing, beat matching, and scratching various kinds of sounds with the right software. More to the point, it connects via USB to whatever computer you plug it into, so even if it's not automagically picked up, you can still read data out of it to figure out how it works. A while back I came across a couple of tutorials for writing USB drivers for new hardware for Linux, and I've got some good utilities for monitoring USB data and dumping it so the protocols can be reverse engineered. No, there aren't any Linux drivers for the DM2.. when asked, the manufacturer actually flipped out and said that no third-party software of any kind could be written for the DM2, because it was 'illegal'.
Yeah.. whatever. If you can plug it in, you can write drivers for it.
I have a hypothesis or two about how to pull data out of the unit to feed into software like Terminator-X. After all, it's just a bunch of numbers that say what button was pressed. Moving a joystick up is technically just pressing a button. So is pressing a fire button or sliding one of the rings on the DM2 forward or backward. By watching what number appears whenever you frob foo, you can eventually write a map of what does what, feed it into your software, and program your software to do different things whenever it sees one of those numbers. It's pretty easy, actually.
Lyssa asked me if I had gotten it working. I told her that I hadn't.
Lyssa wasn't too surprised at this. I have a lot of gadgets for Leandra that I haven't gotten working yet. I have a lot of gear that I haven't finished reverse-engineering yet.
I found myself wondering, after she asked me, why I bought it if it was not explicitly compatible with Linux, i.e., there weren't any drivers. The answer is very simple.
There are few things that I enjoy more than sitting down with a black box, a couple of bobby pins, and a meter, and figuring out what the black box does by putting various signals into it and watching the results. This process is called, unsurprisingly, black-box reverse engineering. I love this kind of thing... figuring out how something works. Figuring out what happens whenever I poke something or slide something.
I love hacking stuff.. this seems like it would be a worthy challenge. It would also have enough output that I'd have a pretty good shot at making a half passable driver to contribute to the kernel project. In short, I figure stuff out and make stuff for fun. Yes, it's my idea of a good time, just as much as going to the movies or playing a game.
Hacking stuff's in my blood.