It seems that I'll be in town for a while, so I'll actually be able to post.

Jan 27, 2008

This is week four of my "three weeks out, one week in" work cycle, so I'll have much more constant net.access for at least a couple of days. I may as well take the time to write a couple of updates. My off-the-road workload has been sizable lately, enough so that even working from home means a day of solid work, with little to no socially acceptable goofing off at work stuff going on, such as reading Slashdot or checking one's e-mail. Work aside, I haven't been doing much of anything at all. Yesterday morning, Lyssa and I drove to Maryland to run a few errands before meeting up with the Mad Scientist Coffee Klatsch that afternoon. There is a music store in Takoma Park called the House of Musical Traditions that has Irish whistles, an instrument which Lyssa's been keen on picking up again, and I must say that they have quite a selection of them.

I didn't know that, like other instruments, Irish whistles could be made in different musical keys, or that Guiness (yes, the beer) sold a branded Irish whistle.

While I was there, I did a little nosing around but didn't find anything that I was looking for. They didn't have much in the way of wind instruments (and those they did I don't have much facility with), but lots of guitars and books on songwriting. I might have to go back there some day and take another look at what they have.

The afternoon was spent at Hasufin's place hanging out with the Mad Scientist Coffee Klatsch, our bi-weekly salon-cum-Hellfire Club in which we hang out drinking coffee, nibbling, and talking about whatever happens to come to mind. "Whatever comes to mind" can be anything from comparative religion to high-voltage electronics, politics to Chinese mythology, practical modern necromancy to utterly horrible puns, and whatever else might appear. It was one of those afternoons which means eating horribly and laughing lots, which is sometimes exactly what you need in your life.

Mika got for me a couple of pounds of vacuum packed coffee beans to make a batch of my special coffee; I'll have to make a trip to Smile Herbs after I get my next paycheque.

As for last night, I sat around the apartment relaxing, watching Cartoon Network, and not doing much of anything for a change, something that I greatly looked forward to for a couple of weeks.

Enough about my life for the past couple of days, how about some news from the infosec front, which is ostensibly one of my interests: Phishing's been a problem for years, but it seems that the phishermen are being scammed themselves. In the same tradition as the Virus Construction Kit, a group called Mr-Brain based out of Morocco has released a simple and easy to use toolkit for people to set up phishing websites and generating fake e-mails to direct unsuspecting users to them. What most wannabe-phishers don't realize is that the Mr-Brain kit is booby trapped - it does what you'd expect of a kit that sets up a faked bank website, but the code generated secretly e-mails all of the information collected to Mr-Brain for their own use.

It just goes to show that you should review your code, doubly so if you're up to no good. In other news, the medical community is scratching its head over the fact that a 15-year old liver transplant patient in Australia has a brand-new immune system. In 2007 one Demi-Lee Brennan underwent a liver transplant after her own liver failed. During the course of her medical care, however, doctors discovered that her blood type had changed. While rare, this is not unheard of... following bone marrow transplants. What's even more strange is that Demi-Lee's immune system has been completely retrofitted, meaning that she no longer has to take immunosuppressant drugs. So far as her body's immune system is concerned, both it and her new liver belong there, meaning that the problem of rejection is completely solved. As near as they can tell, stem cells from the transplanted liver migrated into her bone marrow, where they took up residence and differentiated into bone marrow cells. The new bone marrow cells have apparently decided to play nicely with the tissue already there and began producing red and white blood cells normally. Dr. Michael Stormon and his associates are now trying to figure out exactly how this happened so that they can apply the knowledge to other transplant patients.