Title restored - so how did I spent my weekend, anyway?

Unfortunately, I spent much of last Friday asleep, recovering after a routine filling went south and turned into an emergency root canal. I don't know what does it about the procedure, but it wipes me out completely - it might be the body reacting to having a part of it removed with what amounts to tiny drill bits, or it might be the knowledge of it. For all I know, it could be the aftereffects of multiple injections of local anesthetic that happens to contain epinephrine, which would logically bring about a fight-or-flight reaction as the syringe-loads naturally leaked into the …

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Confiscation and examination of electronics at the border intensifies.

It would appear that the confiscation and analysis of personal electronics at the US border is intensifiying and that people are starting to get up in arms about it. It's more than just laptops that US ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) are spiriting away (for up to two weeks at a time, which defeats the purpose of trying to fly anywhere): Cellular phones are being meddled with and sometimes data is erased (for one reason or another; I tend to lean toward Hanlon's Razor to explain this), corporate laptops are being taken away from travelers unless the log into the …

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US Judicial system debates the legality of searching laptops at the border for no discernable reason.

For a while now I've been hearing about (and thus keeping an eye on) stories from people whose laptops are being confiscated at the border and examined, as sort of a gill net for anything shady (or that they don't understand). Usually you hear about it in the context of people getting busted for carrying child pornography but more often than not it's Joe or Jane User. The US government says that going through someone's data without a warrant is no different from going through someone's suitcase without a warrant; Idisagree, for reasons better elucidated by Judge Dean Pregerson of …

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How about some surreality to cap off a wonderfully weird night?

In the words of my namesake, I'll explain later.

First up, one of my fellow retrocomputing afficionados named Toni Westbrook has undertaken an amazing project: Shredz64. Chances are, you've heard of the game Guitar Hero, in which you use a controller shaped very much like an electric guitar to 'play' rock music as a character in a video game. I've never played it, but it looks like it might be neat. Anyway, Westbrook is designing an interface for the Commodore-64 called the PSX64 that will let you hook a Guitar Hero controller up. He's also developing a game that works …

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Situation report from Austin, Texas.

Things have finally slowed down somewhat in Austin, affording me the opportunity to write a long-overdue update. Workdays have been long (averaging thirteen hours out of every twenty-four), which is why I've been quiet lately.

From what I've seen of Austin, it's a pretty nice place. I"m situated a stone's throw from the airport, and within visual distance of the highway system, which has been both relaxing (coming from an urban background) and a pleasant change of pace from the places that I'm usually put up by my employers.

Two nights ago Tiffany (co-worker and fellow foot soldier fighting …

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Cleaning the screens of laptops.

The premoistened towelettes that you can buy to clean the screen of your laptop computer (or at least the ones made by 3M, anyway) are basically lint-free disposable sheets soaked in a little water and isopropyl alcohol. Save your money and use a lint-free cloth and a little rubbing alcohol to clean your screen.

The cleaning pads you can buy, however, have the advantage of being sealed and thus portable while abroad.

Rubbing alcohol is also good for cleaning the chassis of computers, as well as the keyboards and heat sinks.

Car repairs at last?

Today's the fifth of January - the TARDIS is supposed to be ready at the body shop by now. Cross your fingers, everyone.

thunderbird -ProfileManager - For when you absolutely, positively have to do things to your e-mail configuration that would make any sane system administrator (hush, you!) cringe. Laptop users take note: SanDisk is going to unveil its next generation storage drives at CES next week, namely, 32GB flash drives for portable computers. The drives are built using solid-state flash technology, which means no moving parts (and thus, lower power requirements). For a while they've been available for certain applications outside …

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Confiscation of laptops entering the United States.

Just when you thought travelling by air couldn't get any more harrowing, along comes confiscation of laptop computers when re-entering the United States. Some are never seen again; from anecdotal evidence, the hard drives are imaged for analysis. US Customs has the authority to detain people carrying portable computers and confiscate the hardware without giving a good reason, or any reason at all, for that matter. The matter of what, exactly, happens to proprietary information contained therein (encrypted or not) is still up in the air. The standard advice here is to encrypt any sensitive data, but if the folks …

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