Life and times.

Long time readers are probably wondering where I've been lately.  The answer is kind of long and is worth a post all on its own.  The short version of the story is, work's been eating me alive lately.  This is our busiest time of year and it's been all hands on deck for a couple of weeks now.  In point of fact, last week was our quarterly all-hands meeting, where everybody on my team was flown into town for a solid week of meetings.  All day, every day.  Most of my visible activity lately took the form of parts of …

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North Korea: A Polite Rant

If you've been following the news for the past couple of weeks you've no doubt seen lots of hand wringing about North Korea's missile tests. To summarize, they've popped off a couple of missiles that seem to have intercontinental capability, i.e., they could, in theory travel from North Korea to the vicinity of the United States or Canada and deliver their payload. The missiles in question keep landing in the ocean, which strongly suggests deliberate targeting to prove launch and control capability as well as making it more difficult for other countries to get hold of the hardware for …

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Universal basic income and why it won't happen in the United States.

A meme that some of my transhumanist and technoprogressive colleagues have been bandying around for the past half year or so is that of a universal basic income, or at least a negative income tax. The scenario goes something like this:

Greater automation in the workplace due to the ever-greater proliferation of computers and deployment of sophisticated software means that companies have to hire and pay fewer people to do work for them. Sources of gainful employment are not assured these days (even for, say, certified Oracle admins being out of work for four or five years at a time …

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Ubuntu Syndrome.

Warning: Bitter BOFH ahead.

There is a phenomenon I've come to call Ubuntu Syndrome, after the distribution of Linux which has become the darling of nearly every hosting provider out there (and no, I won't call them bloody cloud providers). All things considered, it seems to have a good balance of stable software, ease of use, availability, and diversity of available software. It also lends itself readily to the following workflow:


  • Use a tool like packer.io to automagically instantiate a copy of Ubuntu at the hosting provider of choice.
  • Never patch the machine under any circumstances.
  • Use Chef, Ansible …

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I don't think it was North Korea that pwned Sony.

EDIT: 2014/12/23: Added reference to, a link to, and a local copy of the United Nations' Committee Against Torture report.

I would have written about this earlier in the week when it was trendy, but not having a working laptop (and my day job keeping me too busy lately to write) prevented it. So, here it is:

Unless you've been completely disconnected from the media for the past month (which is entirely possible, it's the holiday season), you've probably heard about the multinational media corporation Sony getting hacked so badly that you'd think it was the climax of …

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The times in which we live.

Can you remember ever having lived in a time of peace?

Seriously. Give it a little thought.

This is something I've been thinking a lot about lately, and I've reluctantly come to the conclusion that I can't think of a single period of time beyond a week or two in all the years I've been alive that I've known anything like peace in the geopolitical sense. I was born in the late 1970's with the horrors of the Vietnam War fading slowly in popular memory. Even though I was too young to really record any memories the Vietnam War was …

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The holiday season, burnout, and sundry other matters.

Well, the holiday season is upon us once again. Not that you could fail to notice unless you've been living in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey and your only link to the outside world is a 300bps modem connection over shortwave radio. As it's wont to be down here, the weather in the DC metroplex is a little erratic, swerving drunkenly from shirtsleeves comfortable to bone-chillingly cold to damp and rainy almost on a daily basis. Lyssa and I took a few days off last week to drive back to Pennsylvania and visit our respective families for Thanksgiving and …

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Last night: Henry Rollins at the Birchmere.

I don't remember exactly who it was that got me into Henry Rollins' spoken word stuff. It might have been Mika, who gave me a two disc set for a long drive a couple of years ago. It might have been Lyssa, who tends to follow literature of all kinds. It might have been a couple of episodes of his television show on IFC that I caught online once. Hell, for all I know I've had those CDs since undergrad and I completely forgot about them. It's happened before. What I do know is that when Mika told us that …

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A week after the VPMP deadline.

A little more information on the recent compromise of the VPMP and subsequent ransom demand has hit the wires since Wikileaks.org broke the news almost two weeks ago. It was admitted that the VPMP's information security measures were not all they were cracked up to be, as if this would come as a surprise to anyone. The article mentions that a backup system did not appear to be in place, nor a properly configured firewall to control traffic from the public Net. Governor of Virginia Timothy Kaine tried to save face by playing up the countermeasures in place and …

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