1. Ghost In the Shell: A disappointing hack.

    10 April 2017

    Last Thursday I made the probably unwise decision to see the live-action interpretation of Ghost In the Shell starring Scarlet Johannson at the local movie theater.  The terrible weather in the Bay Area aside (continual rain, Washington DC-like cold, gusts of wind up to 50 miles per hour), it's just not a good movie.  I was expecting a half-assed retelling of the original movie's story with additional Hollywood elements, and I wasn't disappointed in that respect.

    tl;dr - Don't bother.  ScarJo's new movie is a bad cosplay that'll leave you feeling like you just took some pills a random person …

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  2. Symmetric bionic augmentation.

    07 April 2017

    Something that's always bugged me about science fiction is the lack of common sense of characters' bionic enhancements.

    No, I'm not going to call them cybernetics.  RPGs and movies have it wrong.  Those aren't cybernetics, they're bionics.  The former is a feature of the latter.

    Characters pretty much always seem to have their augmentations installed bass-ackwards.  Most of the time their positioning doesn't make sense at all.  Let's look at some handedness statistics: Depending on where you are, between 2% and 12% of people are left-handed.  Depending on your upbringing (if you were born left handed in some places, whether …

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  3. What the loss of the Internet Privacy Bill means to you and I.

    31 March 2017

    It's probably popped up on your television screen that the Senate and then the House of Representatives voted earlier this week, 215 to 205, to repeal an Internet privacy bill passed last year.  In case you're curious, here's a full list of every Senator and Representative that voted to repeal the bill and how much they received specifically from the telecom lobby right before voting. (local mirror)  By the way, if you would like to contact those Senators (local mirror) or Representatives (local mirror) here's how you can do so... When the bill hits Trump's desk it's a foregone conclusion …

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  4. Neologism: Jenkins Driven Development

    30 March 2017

    JDD (Jenkins driven development) - noun - A development process in which the coder in question has one or two commits to the source code repository adding a feature or fixing a bug, followed by two or three dozen commits to fix things in the comments, unit tests, variable names, or some other such fiddly thing to coax the Jenkins server into actually running the unit tests to exercise the new code and hopefully integrate the new feature.  The primary usage of time by developers in DevOps environments.  The later commit messages usually consist of variations of "Does it work yet?", "WTF …

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  5. Book review: To Be A Machine

    27 March 2017

    It seems like everybody is reviewing the book To Be A Machine: Adventures Among Cyborgs, Utopians, Hackers, and the Futurists Solving the Modest Problem of Death by Mark O'Connell, and most of the book reviews are, to be frank, kind of pants.  The mainstream book reviewers seem to have read only the first and last chapters and make light (at best) or a joke (at worst) of the life's work of people who are actually doing the work in some parts of the medical profession instead of just playing "Won't it be nice when..." on Slack channels and Facebook.  A …

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  6. Signal boost: Help keep Lapis off the street!

    21 March 2017

    I've been asked to signal boost this by AJ, one of the few people whom I would say in public that I trust.

    Lapis, a friend of his, is a transwoman who is disabled and is also at this time homeless.  Lapis is undergoing a mental health crisis at this time and is actively seeking assistance.  However, the mental health system has judged that Lapis is not undergoing a sufficiently bad crisis to warrant hospitalization (which would mean getting her off the street).  As far as I know, Lapis is estranged from her family so they are not an option …

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  7. Security nihilism: Never good enough.

    17 March 2017

    In the last couple of years, a meme that's come to be known as security nihilism has appeared in the security community.  In a nutshell, because there is no such thing as perfect security, there is no security at all, so why bother?  Talking about layered security controls that reinforce each other is pointless because they always skip right to the end, which is the circumvention of the nth countermeasure and final defeat.  In the crypto community, cries of "Quantum computer!" are the equivalent of invoking Godwin's Law, leading to the end of all discourse, nevermind trying to separate …

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  8. The meme of EMP attack.

    14 March 2017

    For the last couple of years, the meme of an EMP attack against the United States has been an integral part of the thoughtbase of the prepper community.  So the idea goes, the next major attack by a foreign power will involve not the bombing of a major city but bombardment with an electromagnetic pulse (local mirror, snapshot taken 20170310 @ 2030 hours PST8PDT).  Due to the fact that "electromagnetic" is kind of a loose term, sometimes they mean an actual magnetic field, sometimes they speak of a microwave burst (which means that you've got bigger problems than your electronics getting …

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