July 18, 2008

Filthy Lucre

Filed under: hate,losers,weird — mhoye @ 10:10 am

I don’t know if you can discern the exact moment that the money in a city outstrips the brains, good taste and common sense, but I’m confident that once a “pet spa” becomes a viable business model, you’re there.

July 16, 2008

Michael Rennie Was Ill The Day The Earth Stood Still, But He Told Us Where We Stand

Filed under: awesome,future,life,lunacy — mhoye @ 8:10 pm

(On our feet!)

We have razed our garage to the ground and it was, as promised, glorious. Now for the time between now and when our contractor begins we have a concrete slab in the back yard, but it’s a wide open space, so I see no sense wasting it. From my gracious neighbors I have secured a 10×7 screen to put at the end of the slab, you see, and some speakers.

And on Saturday night at dusk, eight-thirty or so, I will be hosting a classic-science-fiction double-bill. All, provided there is room (and this is a bring-your-own-lawn-chair party) are welcome. We’ve tentatively settled on Them! and The Day The Earth Stood Still. Subject to change, should we find something even more awesome.

Flash Gordon is not expected to be there in silver underwear. The invisible man might, but how would we know? And nothing expected to go wrong for anyone. It is weather permitting, obviously.

Let me know if you’ll be here.

Cyber-Ominous! (updated)

Filed under: interfaces,losers,lunacy,weird,work — mhoye @ 4:07 pm

I’m a sysadmin and my friends know I’m a sysadmin (even my mother will admit to it) and one of them sent me this story about a “disgruntled city computer engineer” who has somehow “commandeered San Francisco’s new multimillion-dollar computer network, altering it to deny access to top administrators even as he sits in jail on $5 million bail, authorities said Monday”.

It makes for a good movie-plot kind of read, a la Hackers or the quietly great Sneakers, for sure. Rogue hacker thwarts city officials! Network admins dumbfounded! Is he sticking it to the man, or is it (dun dun dunnnn…) cyberterror!?

But along with that was the question of how somebody could do something like that, and the answer is that as the story has been told, they can’t. There’s just no way. The story seems plausible enough if you’ve never worked as a sysadmin before and like the kids say these days, it’s a cracking good yarn. But if you have, every second paragraph in there jars your mind with the boggles.

None of it makes much sense at all. At the very least, it’s a triumph of storytelling over investigative journalism or factual reporting.

“Childs created a password that granted him exclusive access to the system, authorities said. He initially gave pass codes to police, but they didn’t work. When pressed, Childs refused to divulge the real code even when threatened with arrest, they said.”

The idea that you’d go to the person who tampered with a computer and ask them what to type in to fix it is lunacy. It’s like asking the person who just mugged you for cab fare home. That they would actually need some password (“code”, hah) from him doesn’t make any sense either; they presumably have physical access to the hardware, and that ultimately trumps anybody’s passwords. Did none of the other admins notice their permissions revoked, all of a sudden? And where are their backups?

“He was taken into custody Sunday. City officials said late Monday that they had made some headway into cracking his pass codes and regaining access to the system.”

“Cracking codes” sounds spy-thriller sexy, and there are some fantastic tools out there for that if I really need to know somebody’s password, but there’s also no reason it would ever come to that. You don’t need a password if you can put your hands on the box; it’s a fundamental fact of the field, and one of the main reasons that server rooms have locks on the doors.

“Officials also said they feared that although Childs is in jail, he may have enabled a third party to access the system by telephone or other electronic device and order the destruction of hundreds of thousands of sensitive documents.”

“Authorities have searched Childs’ home and car for a device that could be used in such an attack, but so far no such evidence has been found.”

This is just cartoon-bond-villainy nonsense. As though he’d have a box full of wires with a blinking LED and a big red button hidden in his basement. That’s just not how that works, and you can’t tell me they went to the home of somebody with a $100k sysadmin’s job and didn’t find a computer with an internet connection or a cellphone.

There might be a lot more going on here (blackmail, extensive administrative incompetence somebody is trying to cover up, some other related fraud possibly?) and there would have to be for the story to make any sense as it’s told. But I really shouldn’t have to be making stuff up to justify a story like this – the journalist should be figuring it out and telling me. That’s why journalists exist at all. But this one doesn’t seem aware of that or in anything beyond the story as entertainment, sadly, which is too bad. There are insights aplenty to be had here, into how computer systems and security work, that aren’t common knowledge but that the public at large could stand to know.

Maybe we’ll get a followup in a week telling us it ended with jailbreak, a car chase and an explosion of some kind.

Update: According to this article it’s all the networking gear that’s locked out, apparently Cisco routers and so forth. Which… makes even less sense?

July 14, 2008

I Am Crowbar Jesus

Filed under: awesome,lunacy,toys,vendetta — mhoye @ 2:04 pm

And a reciprocating saw with a demolition blade is true love.

July 11, 2008

A Relatively Modern Twist On The Double-Take

Filed under: future,interfaces,life,weird — mhoye @ 10:02 pm

Lately I find that I get a little peeved when somebody asks me something I’ve already blogged up. I think, what? Keep up, slow-moving not-internet-time person! Don’t make me repeat myself!

And then I catch myself thinking that and think “self: what the hell is wrong with you?”


Filed under: academic,lunacy,weird — mhoye @ 2:34 pm

Question: do classical mathematicians celebrate Pi Day according to the Julian calendar?

I submit to you that they should.

Indeed, according to this list, since the Gregorian calendar was introduced in 1582, Bacon, Mersenne and Descartes just barely make the cut. Kepler, Napier and Gallileo just miss it. Pascal and Gauss and right out.

Get on that, classical mathematicians.

July 9, 2008

Libid Zyla 2: Zyla Harder

Filed under: awesome,beauty,flickr,life,travel — mhoye @ 9:34 pm

I know I still owe you some Hong Kong photos, internets, but I’ve just finished triaging the photos from Libid and Randy’s wedding.


The rest of the photoset is here, not all of the bride and groom. I spent a lot of time photographing the guests, and some of them came out pretty well.

Let Me Out

That’s not strictly a Wedding Photo, but it’s still a hell of a photo, you know? But I promise, there are more at the other end of the link.

It Is So Very, Very On

Filed under: awesome,future,lunacy,vendetta — mhoye @ 8:12 pm

I am going to tear my garage down this weekend. It’s been a long time coming, and I intend to savour it.

But many hands make light work, and victory and destruction alike are best enjoyed with friends; the experience transcends the mere fact of it, as the taste of a fine wine becomes all the more sensuous when sipped from an enemy’s skull. So help me tear down my garage this Saturday and for the low, low price of your efforts, you will receive Victory Beer and Victory Barbecue, as fine a meal as a man could ask for.

Or, indeed, a woman; ladies, do not feel that you should not join in this satisfaction. You will not be made to drink anything out of a skull of any kind, should that be your preference. And if some of you would prefer not to be directly involved in the demolition but would prefer to root for the demolishers from a safe distance, you may also partake in our Victory Meal. To you, I think, it will not taste as sweet. But that will depend on the enthusiasm of your cheering, I suppose!

If you are of sound body and usable mind, it will be at elevenish Saturday. Lunch to follow; work gloves and safety goggles are mandatory, sturdy footwear is preferable, and sandals mean you don’t get to play. Pry bars, sledge hammers, reciprocating saws, if you’ve got one, bring one.

Rain or shine, we’re doing this. Dress for messy work, RSVP and inform me if you have any particular requirements (Vegetarian, allergies, no skulls-of-enemies, etc) for your Allotted Victory Rations.

Creepy Hydrant Wants To Love You

Filed under: beauty,flickr,travel,weird — mhoye @ 12:34 pm

Creepy Hydrant Wants To Love You

Taken in Winnipeg.

My iPod Would Like To Ask You Some Questions

Filed under: digital,interfaces,music,toys — mhoye @ 12:25 pm

Are You A Hypnotist?
Are You The One?
Baby What You Want Me To Do
Can You Feel Me
How’s It Gonna End?
How Would You Know?
How Ya Want It?
What Do I Do Right?
What If I?
What Is Rock?
What Is The Light?
What Keeps Mankind Alive
What’s This
What’s This Luv
What’s The Deal
Where Are You Baby
Where Is My Mind
Who Do You Love?
Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses?
Who Stole The Show
Who The Fuck?
Why Are You Up?
Why Can’t This Be Love?
Why Can’t I Be You?
Why Do I Keep Counting
Why Don’t We Do It In The Road
Why Theory?
Will You Be My Girl?

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