1. Mini-Maker Faire project: Jade's Lunchtop

    13 October 2013

    Obligatory warning: If you are fandom-averse, you might want to skip right to the photographs.

    Some months ago, a good friend of mine dragged me kicking and screaming into the Homestuck fandom by way of a novel length fanfic she and a friend are writing.

    I won't tell you about Homestuck. That's not what this post is about. I will, however, tell you about the latest project to come off of my workbench, which was building as functional a replica of Jade's lunchtop computer as possible.

    Cutting to the chase, after being infected with the Homestuck meme and searching for …

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  2. There will be a Mini-Maker Faire in Silver Spring, MD.

    15 September 2013

    I haven't seen this get a whole lot of love recently, so I thought I'd boost the signal in some small way.

    On Sunday, 29 September 2013 between 1200 and 1700 EST5EDT there will be a Mini Maker Faire in Silver Spring, Maryland. If you've never heard of Maker Faire, it's a series of events organized and thrown by Make Magazine that are collectively billed as the Greatest Show-and-Tell on Earth. At a Maker Faire you can see everything from 3d printing demonstrations to singing Tesla coils, combat robots to kite photography, and everything in between. Mini-Maker Faires are, as …

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  3. Our cyberpunk dystopia is shaping up nicely.

    10 September 2013

    I find it increasingly difficult these days to shake the feeling that the cyberpunk dystopia our world is becoming is shaping up to be more and more like Shadowrun. Ever since 2012 (which turned out to be a slightly less tumultous year than Terrence McKenna had always preached) things have become more and more surreal and disturbing (in a David Cronenberg and not a David Lynch kind of way). The Snowden/NSA scandal continues to bring truly frightening information to light, and the first thing that comes to mind is that ECHO MIRAGE exists as a real thing which is …

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  4. Consequences of criminalizing whistleblowing.

    31 August 2013

    In the wake of Chelsea (nee Bradley) Manning's sentence of 35 years in military prison for leaking the massive volume of documents now known as Cablegate to the media organization Wikileaks, there is now a hard as diamond legal precedent that criminalizes whistleblowing, the act of making evidence of misconduct, fraud, unethical, or illegal activity known. It is widely believed (often correctly so) that disclosing such activities to what are considered the proper channels will result in serious repercussions. It is also widely believed that such disclosures will have little to no positive effect because those reported on are often …

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  5. Porting Godwin's Law to the field of cryptography.

    19 August 2013

    On the Internet, there exists a meme called Godwin's Law. Simply put, "As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one," (where probabilities are specified as floating point values between 0.0 (0%) and 1.0 (100%)). It is usually at this point that the discussion is considered completely derailed and no longer worth following.

    It seems that a similar phenomenon is occurring more and more often in the twenty-first century, in which online discussions of cryptographic or security software will eventually lead to someone bringing up Ken Thompson's famous paper Reflections …

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  6. Dominant discourse.

    18 August 2013

    Since the NSA revelations began coming a couple of times a week for the past month, an all too common set of dialogues has been cropping up again and again and again in practically every forum that one would care to visit. While the discussion itself isn't perfectly replicated the overall pattern is. It goes something like this:


    • Brief description of vulnerability. Mitigating tactic.
    • Mention of a vulnerability elsewhere in the user's system.
    • Description of a slightly more esoteric vulnerability.
    • Use another system.
    • Encrypt everything.
    • Quantum computer.
    • Use Tor.
    • Tor can't protect against country-level surveillance.
    • NSA backdoor.
    • The NSA has …

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  7. A trip to the International Spy Museum.

    03 August 2013

    A couple of weekends ago Lyssa, Laurelindel and I did something that we've wanted to do for months, which was visit the International Spy Museum in downtown DC. This year their big thing is a 50 year James Bond retrospective, where they had props and models from the movies on display in addition to their other exhibits. Unfortunately, my camera was in macro mode the whole time so not all of the pictures I took came out the way I'd hoped. I kept the best of the photographs.

    Here they are.

    Talking about the Spy Museum over dinner, we made …

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