1. Spooks, dirty tricks, and creative linguistics.

    23 April 2008

    It seems that the US federal government has been busy lately - a pair of news articles released last week show the lengths they're going to so that they can get their way while seeming to be on the up and up. As you'll recall, back in July of 2005 the city of London, England was rocked by a number of explosions which were placed by suicide bombers to maximally disrupt the public transportation system of the city. The British government probably asked the FBI to assist in the investigation (as suggested by a number of documents obtained through the Freedom …

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  2. Nanofibres used to assist in nerve regeneration.

    21 April 2008

    Neurologists at Northwestern University have made a minor breakthrough in the field of nerve regeneration: They've developed a form of self-assembling nanofibre that can be used by damaged nerve cells to stitch themselves back together. The process involves a solution of molecules (the names of the compounds involved were not included in this article) that, under the correct circumstances, will arrange themselves into molecular-sized tubes that act as repair scaffolds for injured nerve cells in the spinal cords of mice. Ordinarily, when nerves are damaged, scar tissue develops at the injury sites and precludes rejoining the ends in any fashion …

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  3. Chris and boys' weekend out.

    21 April 2008

    Friday as a whole wound up being something of a comedy of errors - the first half of the day was supposed to be spent at the dentist's office having stage two of my emergency root canal performed (building up the plastic post, taking the cast for the permanant crown, and placing the temporary), but per usual things started going south. While out running an emergency errand on Friday morning I got a call from my boss - not only had I been re-assigned to another project at the last minute but there was apparantly a pressing need to show up at …

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  4. Linux, UDEV, HAL, and removable drives.

    17 April 2008

    Now that I've metabolized the caffeine from the two-and-an-unknown-fraction pots of coffee I've drunk today (don't ask), I have it together enough to write about an unusually annoying glitch that plagues Linux users from time to time: Automatic mounting of USB storage devices stops working after you tinker with the systemware, usually after recompiling something or upgrading a package. I ran into this a few days ago but didn't think much of it because I've mostly been using Windows XP for work (yes, yes, you may now all laugh) but I decided to sit down and figure out what happened …

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  5. Fribet: A RAT that chews holes in SQL servers.

    17 April 2008

    Since the country of China stepped up its activities in Tibet hundreds of pro-Tibet websites have been springing up all across the Net. Predictably, some subset of those sites are being compromised by pro-Communist China crackers, which is a popular political maneuver (of questionable effectiveness). Not content to merely deface these sites, some of them are being infected with a malware agent called Fribet, which attacks vulnerabilities in the user's web browser to silently install itself. Fribet not only sets up a backdoor into the system that allows it to be remotely controlled but it is capable of attacking other …

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  6. The origin of and solution to Google Calendar spam... for now, anyway.

    17 April 2008

    Early last month I wrote a short article about having recieved spam to my Gmail account that automatically added itself to my personal calendar. As I'd expected, I wasn't the only one who'd recieved one of these, and that it would be a matter of time before Someone Out There had the time to really look into it. As it turns out, anyone can send an invitation to a Gmail account and have it automatically added to an associated calendar because such invitations are automatically added by default (regardless of poor sentence structure). I would guess that this is so …

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  7. When windbreakers are too professional, along comes these.

    17 April 2008

    Yeah, yeah, this is late. Work before blog and all that.

    Last year bulletproof windbreakers hit the private security market, with all of the usual implications that personal protection brings. Now a company with the unusual name of Bladerunner has perfected bulletproof hooded sweatshirts that are supposedly proof against 9mm rounds. Called the L300 Defender, this hoodie combines teen fashion with a relatively new fiber called Dyneema, which is supposed to be thinner than the Kevlar thread used to manufacture bulletproof vests but just as strong. The inventor of the L300 and owner of Bladerunner, one Barry Samms, says that …

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  8. Another weekend in the nation's capital.

    14 April 2008

    Aside from a few bouts of tenderness in the new dental work on Saturday, the pain and infection in that one particular molar are gone. Praise be to the gods of dental medicine. I go in on Friday morning to get fitted for the mounting post and temporary crown. Whether or not I'll be able to afford them is a different matter entirely. Time will tell, as it always does.

    On Saturday, Lyssa and I meet up my mother and Judy, who happened to be in DC taking a bus tour of the nation's capital. Even though they were staying …

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  9. The month of April is fired.

    11 April 2008

    No, more than that. If I could nuke the month of April clean off of the human calendar, I'd do just that. There'd be a big, 30 day gap between March and June where nothing would have a chance to go wrong, blow up, or otherwise try to fuck people without the usual accoutrements of dinner, a couple of drinks, and some lubricant first.

    First of all, my federal income taxes got screwed up this year. Somehow, I was marked as already married on my W-2 form, which means that not enough money was taken out up front for taxes …

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