[War] British Torture Memos

The British blogosphere leaks more damning memos and turd spray kicks off the fanblades of foreign imperialism...



[Tech] Because I can...

In the car.

Doing 70 mph.

Crossing the Iowa/Missouri border.

Posting this blog entry.

The formula for success = Mac OSX + cingular GRPS + Motorola Razr V3 + bluetooth modem + these scripts



[Movies] Syriana


"Syriana" was an amazing movie. This is the second movie in two months that I have seen George Clooney in that I have liked. The other was "Good Night, and Good Luck", the story of Edward Murrow.

[Politics] Bush roundup

Washington Times:

President Bush presents a clear and present danger to the rule of law. He cannot be trusted to conduct the war against global terrorism with a decent respect for civil liberties and checks against executive abuses. Congress should swiftly enact a code that would require Mr. Bush to obtain legislative consent for every counterterrorism measure that would materially impair individual freedoms.

The Daou Report's take on how the Bush spying thing will unfold (I kinda agree):

Here's why: the dynamic of a typical Bush scandal follows familiar contours...

1. POTUS circumvents the law - an impeachable offense.

2. The story breaks (in this case after having been concealed by a news organization until well after Election 2004).

3. The Bush crew floats a number of pushback strategies, settling on one that becomes the mantra of virtually every Republican surrogate. These Republicans face down poorly prepped Dem surrogates and shred them on cable news shows.

4. Rightwing attack dogs on talk radio, blogs, cable nets, and conservative editorial pages maul Bush's critics as traitors for questioning the CIC.

5. The Republican leadership plays defense for Bush, no matter how flagrant the Bush over-reach, no matter how damaging the administration's actions to America's reputation and to the Constitution. A few 'mavericks' like Hagel or Specter risk the inevitable rightwing backlash and meekly suggest that the president should obey the law. John McCain, always the Bush apologist when it really comes down to it, minimizes the scandal.

6. Left-leaning bloggers and online activists go ballistic, expressing their all-too-familiar combination of outrage at Bush and frustration that nothing ever seems to happen with these scandals. Several newspaper editorials echo these sentiments but quickly move on to other issues.

7. A few reliable Dems, Conyers, Boxer, et al, take a stand on principle, giving momentary hope to the progressive grassroots/netroots community. The rest of the Dem leadership is temporarily outraged (adding to that hope), but is chronically incapable of maintaining the sense of high indignation and focus required to reach critical mass and create a wholesale shift in public opinion. For example, just as this mother of all scandals hits Washington, Democrats are still putting out press releases on Iraq, ANWR and a range of other topics, diluting the story and signaling that they have little intention of following through. This allows Bush to use his three favorite weapons: time, America's political apathy, and make-believe 'journalists' who yuck it up with him and ask fluff questions at his frat-boy pressers.

8. Reporters and media outlets obfuscate and equivocate, pretending to ask tough questions but essentially pushing the same narratives they've developed and perfected over the past five years, namely, some variation of "Bush firm, Dems soft." A range of Bush-protecting tactics are put into play, one being to ask ridiculously misleading questions such as "Should Bush have the right to protect Americans or should he cave in to Democratic political pressure?" All the while, the right assaults the "liberal" media for daring to tell anything resembling the truth.

9. Polls will emerge with 'proof' that half the public agrees that Bush should have the right to "protect Americans against terrorists." Again, the issue will be framed to mask the true nature of the malfeasance. The media will use these polls to create a self-fulfilling loop and convince the public that it isn't that bad after all. The president breaks the law. Life goes on.

10. The story starts blending into a long string of administration scandals, and through skillful use of scandal fatigue, Bush weathers the storm and moves on, further demoralizing his opponents and cementing the press narrative about his 'resolve' and toughness. Congressional hearings might revive the issue momentarily, and bloggers will hammer away at it, but the initial hype is all the Democratic leadership and the media can muster, and anyway, it's never as juicy the second time around...


[Politics] Impeach

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Remember this? It is the Constitution of the United States. A document that Bush and his Administration view as a "Just a piece of paper." True, it is a piece of paper, a physical representation of the heart and soul of our democracy. Even as a piece of paper, it is an amazing tool. It is an instrument to protect the people from their own brutality and the brutality of the government. It allows people from all different walks of life, race, religion, and orientation to live together if not in relative peace, at least a functional government. It protects the minority from being oppressed by the majority. It is in a way an equalizer and uniter.

Bush, your ignorance of this document will be your downfall. America is not a fascist state, nor are you a dictator. You will be held accountable for the damages you have done to this country and the world.

It is time for you to be impeached. Clinton was impeached for less.

I think Bruce Schneier sums it up best with his Op-Ed in the Star Tribune as to why Bush's authorization of NSA domestic spying without oversight is dangerous.


[Word] liberticidal


the act of killing liberty

seen in an Alternet essay, in regards to the USA PATRIOT Act.


[Politics] Impressions of the Presidential Address

George is still shovelling the same manure.

The plan is the same plan we had for Vietnam.

Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. We're foreign invaders.

You cannot fight terrorism like a war. Terrorism is something you struggle against.

We're inventing our enemies faster than we kill them.

A civil war in Iraq may be inevitable.

This was the opening salvo of a world war for the control of the last cheap, reliable, and mildly easy remaining fossil fuel resources on earth.

Democracy cannot flourish under the barrel of a gun or under an Islamic theocracy there and it cannot survive in a police/surveillance state or Christian theocracy here.

He put up a good front but you can sense how cut off, isolated, angry, and on edge George is. He knows things are falling apart. His infallible faith is not comforting; it's creepy.



[Poetry] America

mango fuck frustrations
dark thoughts cycling through weevils
assmother shit storms
incoherent ramblings fucked mental state
screwy non-conformist banality
christian facist state
the dogma is oppressive
I can hear myself scream through jello
no voice ever heard
all children left behind
SUV terrorists haunt the roads
incorrect view of beauty
TV mind control
soulless soul suckers sucking the souls of the soulful
comeupance happenstance

[Musings] Domo Arigato Mr. Roboto

Domo. b

Nacht des Nerd.

Sitting in the Bean Factory. Listening to Styx. Micky just left to grab some dinner. He and I have kind of started a tradition of meeting before I go to Nerd Night at the Bean Factory and just catching up. Micky is one of my oldest friends, all the way back to the days of high school. I consider him almost a brother.

The coffeeshop was full not two minutes ago and now it is empty. Weird.

Next up on the playlist 'Linus and Lucy' by the Vince Guaraldi Trio.

Last week was a blur. I am still processing all of what happened.

Been feeling a little uneasy due to all that has happened last week with politics. Something big is brewing, I can't place what yet, but something big. I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. Bush has seemingly gone 180 on a number of issues. WTF? The Senate thankfully blocked the Patriot Act renewal, but Bush says he will still personally authorize eavesdropping on private citizens with minimal justification. On the plus side torture has been outlawed, which really should never have been an issue, we used to set the global example on this sort of thing, the fact that we even had to have a discussion about the legality of torture is a great illustration of how far we as a nation have fallen.

Saw 'Aeon Flux'...ugh. Nothing like the cartoon. I am not surprised. I was kind of expecting to be disappointed since they annouced that Charlize Theron would be Aeon. 'Aeon Flux' was a cartoon that I felt would be difficult to translate into live action and I was proven right. None of the tension was there, too much was explained (the cartoon left a lot unsaid so that you had to work it out for yourself). I am looking forward to 'Underworld Evolution', I have a major weakness for Kate Beckinsdale in tight leather. I also want to see:

Broke Back Mountain
Ice Harvest
King Kong

Oh another thing, if you ever find yourself in the situation of selling a house, do NOT allow FHA or VA loans. I know this will diminish your pool of available buyers, but it has been a god damn nightmare. We have attempted to close on the sale of our old house 5 times now and the FHA paperwork has fucked it up each time. Our house was advertised for sale 'AS IS', the buyers really wanted it, but in the 11th hour they converted their conventional loan into FHA, and it has been hell ever since.

Ah well.


[Engineering] The sorry state of...


The sheer mediocrity of design and engineering in household objects is amazing to me. A couple examples:

I have a humidifier. It just died. Well, more like the motor rusted out. A humidifier is what makes my apartment liveable, my skin not itch, my allergies not overwhelm, and keeps my piano and cello from turning into cracked kindling.

So I decided to do some comparison shopping for a new humidifier, seeing as I don't particularily intend to buy a replacement Hunter humidifier, since the nonfunctional one I have has a wicking system that doesn't work, a leaky water reservoir, and a humidity control that cannot seem to understand "On" at 40% and "Off" at 60%. Oh, and the motor had already been recalled due to fire hazard!

You'd think that there would be something out there that people like and has been reviewed well. Nope. Almost all humidifiers on the market are two stars out of five at best. They suck. Warm mist ones bascially steam clean you, and you have to clean them constantly. Cool mist ones (evaporative), while the more natural way of doing things, tend to break and have lots of issues, including bacteria, dust, etc. The only model that seems to be well thought of is the VENTA line, which is a German company. Here's the problem with their novel turning disc humidifier: It costs over $400! And you have to fill it with anti-sediment solution every few days thats $50 a year. And you have to replace the filters fairly often. I can buy a whole new humidifier every time mine gets dirty for less that the upkeep costs on some of these units. What a waste. At some point the cost/benefit analysis will favor just buying distilled water at the grocery store and filling the humidifier with that every single day.

How amazing that we can perform feats of engineering wonder, and yet reliably getting a little bit of water into the air quietly, cleanly, cheaply, and in a low-maintainence manner, seems beyond the collective talents of the world's manufacturers. Someone, please, come up with a 2.5-4 gallon humidifier that is quiet, low on required cleaning, sanitary, doesn't generally require replacement filters or solutions, has a working digital humidistat, and doesn't break. I don't need some gaudy wood paneled whole house unit. My apartment is 525 square feet, I'd have nowhere to put it.

I DID find something that can reliably turn the humidifier on and off to keep a consistent humidity (important with cellos). This is an industrial grade humidistat with a 7% on/off range, adjustable humidity, and I could use it with any humidifer. The only hiccup is that it costs $120. For just the switch that turns the humidifier on and off! Still, since my cello is worth thosands, and my piano at least a grand, it seems like a decent investment. I still have to find a decent (or egad, maybe disposable) humidifier to hook it up to, and then not go broke or nuts replacing filters and cleaning the damn thing. I also find it funny that this model is called the THC-1, and the unit is sold on lots of 'home grow' sites. Probably because its being used to control the humidity on pot crops and not pianos.

Another item: razors. I have a very good razor that properly used works extremely well. I almost never use it. Why? Because it is a straight razor (cutthroat strop razor) from Solingen, Germany, and I have an aversion to bleeding to death if my hand slips. Most of the time I grind away with a POS Norelco electric, you know the crappy burn-your skin ones with the little circular blades that go dull in about a month and cost almost as much as a new razor to replace? I understand that Grundig makes some decent high-end shavers, but again, they cost a fortune (which tends to go with the Made in Germany label). The only piece of razor equipment that I have that works well is my beard trimmer, and that is because I removed the safety head and trim raw. Oh, and it blows through AA batteries in about a month. Do engineers know how much AA batteries COST? They aren't cheap unless you buy them in 100 packs, and who wants that. Please, please, will somebody engineer a decent razor that is safe, painless, effective on my bony jawline, is a close but not-too-close shave, has a decent power reserve, and does not cost a fortune?

I know these are not easy things to engineer. But we put a man on the moon! Maybe we can get some NASA folks to take a few weeks off and come up with something that works. And maybe we can get ISO standard razorblades, wicks, filters, toner cartridges, etc. so these manufacturers can stop trying to screw us with proprietary refills.

The list goes on, but I get the distinct feeling that the overall quality of almsot every household product has gone down markedly in the last few decades. Everything is not-so-cheap disposable junk. Consumer electronics alone could take up a weeks worth of bitch-blogs.

Manufacturing concerns of the world: please, quit building crap. We are an abstract value society in that we think we value products. Real materialist socieities would have, as Benjamin Hoff put it, no landfills. There would be no poorly manufactured products. Stop taking the Wal-Mart approach to building stuff and actually build quality again.

And I'm STILL looking for a decent alarm clock!

{/end of rant}


[Tech] Does the Yahoo! Mail spam filter even work?


Gmail works fine. My SpamAssassin setup for my ISP mail at home works better. I still get 30-40 (out of 100) mail messages a week that are spam and that are not caught by the spam filter and moved to the junk folder. On Gmail, I have had 0 (I can't believe it either) spam messages that were not caught and moved to the spam folder.

[Politics] Companies I have or will boycott and why.

The following companies for their actions do not deserve my (or your) business.

Wal-Mart - for being generally the definition of the word evil. (low wages, overtime scandal, lack of women in management, stingy charity donations by the Walton family, exploitation of workers, union busting)

Northwest Airlines - for their Union busting tactics. MPR reported this morning that the Mechanics Union will vote to end the strike in defeat. Northwest effectively busted the Union by hiring 900 permanent replacements. It is only a matter of time before NWA either goes out of business (either due to lack of cash, or by merger) or targets the other 3 Unions. NWA, like the other major carriers are stuck in an outdate business model that will not work in this economy without massive public bailouts (NWA has been saved twice by the state of MN and once by the Federal gov't). Sadly bankruptcy in this country is a financial tool by businesses and does not carry the compnay-ending meaning it once did.

Target - for having policies that allow pharmacists to deny medication to customers. There was recently a case where a pharmacist at a Target in Missouri denied a women her prescription for the morning after pill. Kmart, CVS, and CostCo fire pharmacits who deny prescriptions to be filled. I sent a letter to Target and received this cop-out of a response:

Dear Target Guest,

Target places a high priority on our role as a community pharmacy and our obligation to meet the needs of the patients we serve. We expect all our team members, including our pharmacists, to provide respectful service to our guests, particularly when it comes to their health care needs.

Like many other retailers, Target has a policy that ensures a guest’s prescription for emergency contraception is filled, whether at Target or at a different pharmacy, in a timely and respectful manner. This policy meets the health care needs of our guests while respecting the diversity of our team members.

Your thoughts help us learn more about what our guests expect, so I’ll be sure to share your feedback with our pharmacy executives.

Thanks for taking the time to share your questions, thoughts and comments. I hope we’ll see you again soon at Target.


Jennifer Hanson

Target Executive Offices

I call this a cop-out as Target does not have to fill the prescription, they can ask the person, or point the person somewhere else. Pharmacists should be neutral and non-judgemental. This last boycott is a quite a blow as my wife and I were loyal Target shoppers. We will become ones again, all Target has to do is issue an apology and change their policies so that prescriptions can be filled in store without discrimination.

Here is my response back to Target:

Subject: Re: Filling Prescriptions at Target
To: "Target.Response"
While I appreciate you taking the time to provide this response, I feel you answer is more of a dodge. It remains clear that Target will continue to value the individual mores of the Pharmacist over the right to customer to have receive healthcare. This position countermands Target's responsibility to provide healthcare in a timely and nondiscriminatory fashion.

Until Target provides healthcare on a uniform basis, rather than subject to the whims of the pharmacist, I and my wife will be boycotting Target.

We are no longer assured of the level of service that Target will provide to us.

There are many other companies that I can list, but these are my top 3.


[Tech] Lisa 2005 - Day 8

LISA 2005 Trip Log: 12/10/2005
Day 8 - travel day

Woke up at my usual time...surprisingly. Packed. I was amazed I was able to fit everything into my travel bag. I hope it is not too heavy for the flight. I do have a second, smaller duffle in case of weight restrictions. I am hoping it will not be too much of an issue as the flight here was not completely full, I am hoping the one back is not.

San Diego has been lows in the 40s, highs in the upper 60s all week. MN has been lows in the -0s and highs in the upper 10s, it will be a bit of an adjustment. I miss home. I miss nerdwife. I miss my cats. I am also anxious as there are a few things at work I would like to try now. My tech-soul has been recharged.

Checkout: 10am

Flight leaves: 6:15pm

Filler: Went to the ocean, spent a few hours looking at the tidepools. Fascinating. Saw the Loma Point lighthouse. Drove by SeaWorld.

Lunch: Shakespeare Pub and Grill. British pub that had and excellent ale seletion and great fish and chips. Ate too much, felt uncomfortably full.

[Politics] Kyoto


We have burned whatever credibility we once had as a nation.


[Tech] Lisa 2005 - Day 7

LISA 2005 Trip Log: 12/09/2005
Day 7 - Tech Sessions and Referreed Papers (Last Day)

Tech Sessions and Refereed Papers
How Sysadmins Can Protect Free Speech and Privacy on the Electronic Frontier, by Kevin Bankston, Electronic Frontier Foundation

notes: EFF representative spoke about the legal ramification of electronic privacy.
The USA Patriot Act and the Internet:
-can get "whole online profile" with subpoena rather than court order
-pen-traps extended to the internet, but no clear distinction between routing/addressing/signaling and what is content
-reduced controls on national security related surveilleance like FISA and NSLs
-users cannot rely on the law to protect their online privacy, they have to rely on the SAs
-FISA gives forver gag orders on providers and forever no notice to target
-NSL; National Security Letter, legal "tool" of the FBI, no court oversight and minimal reporting to congress, no procedure to challenge, recent abuses by the FBI. Scary stuff, the FBI only has to prove to itself you are under suspicion to issue a NSL. Great question about the constitutionality of NSLs.
-DoJ is refusing to explain its limits of power in regards to electronic wiretap and do not have to report to Congress.
-learn about the law
-teach users about tech
-minimize your logs (short-term retention policies, only keep what you need, review OSP best practices, develop procedures for dealing with legal requests)
-be the surveilleance gatekeeper (and the squeaky wheel), you can serve as a check against abuses of power
-support anonymizing technologies (like TOR)
FBI has stopped using carnivore.



Tech Sessions and Refereed Papers
Weblogs, Wikis, and RSS for System Administrators
by Jonas Luster, Socialtext, Inc.

Humans have a need to communicate and an amazing ability to adopt, adapt and improve upon new communication technologies.
Wikis, collaborative work, structure enforced by community standard, not code, fertile ground or wasteland theory?
If you provide an area for your users to contribute input, it can create a fertile area for ideas to grow.
Syndication, brings content out to the world, pushes it out.
If setting up an internal blog site, do not use a public blogging site. Also do not encourage syndication, as you could leak information out.
DSC; Disseminate, Syndicate, Collaborate.


10 Works In Progress on a variety of topics from VNCmanager, to network traffic visualization, to user education.

Dinner - Casa Guadalajara; excellent Mexican food

Post-Conference. LOPSA had a party, but it was low-key. We had found a small libation place not far from here. The selection was not great, but peach cider was purchased. We then sat on a balcony on the 8th floor until late talking of life, technology, privacy, our jobs, what we would like to see in technology, our 'first time'...using UNIX. I feel to sleep the moment my head hit the pillow because the exhaustion of the past week had finally caught up with me.


[Tech] Lisa 2005 - Day 6

LISA 2005 Trip Log: 12/08/2005
Day 6 - Tech Sessions and Referreed Papers

Tech Sessions and Refereed Papers
Refereed Papers

Toward a Cost Model for System Administration, by Alva L. Couch, Ning Wu, and Hengky Susanto, Tufts University

The intangible cost of system administration is approx proportional to the amount of time to complete requests.
Holy shit, perhaps one of the most mind blowing talks I have attended. Their findings show an elegant proof-positive of what most SAs feel.
Documentation is the best cure for long wait times (and hence reduces cost).
His results show that ticket trends follow a Poisson analysis.
He applies statistical analysis to determine average time to resolution.
Temporal conditional probability.
For <2 Admins available, you get a chaotic response to the request queue, whereas if you have 2 or greater, you get a better smoother response characteristic to the request queue. With 1 Admin, running at capacity, you cannot predict a recovery/uncontrolled model.


Voluntary Cooperation in Pervasive Computing Services, by Mark Burgess and Kyrre Begnum, Oslo University Colle\ge

Systems are not computers, they are human-computer interactions.
Theory around decentralized management.
Hive and collective relationships.

Network Configuration Management via Model Finding, Sanjai Narain, Telcordia Technologies, Inc.


Lunch - skipped

Tech Session
Network Black Ops: Extracting Unexpected Functionality from Existing Networks
by Dan Kaminsky, DoxPara Research

notes: rescheduled presentation of Wednesday.
IDS make a promise of security, but serious vulnerabilities exist due to limited packet-centric view.
Applications do not live in packet-space.
All major firewall vendors have their own weaknesses. No single tool right now can address all issues.
IPS systems should NOT ban invalid traffic.
DNS poisoning, used to selectively hijack network traffic.
Automatic network shunning very bad idea.

Dan has a tool to dynamic display interdepencies of active networks in a living, organism-like display. Was amazing to view even a small netowrk.
Streamed video via DNS...had to see it to believe it.


Plenary Session:
Picking Locks with Cryptology, by Matt Blaze

Spoke 3 slides about mechnical locks and switch topics to eavesdropping, countermeasures, policy, and wiretapping.
TNEC (Trustyworthy Network Eavesdropping and Countermeasures) - NSF funded research project
Wiretaps for legal use, are broken into two types "Pen Register" and "Full Audio".
Wiretapping technologies:
-telco records; get phone records from telco, retrospective, like pen register
-loop extender/dialup slave; real-time connection to law enforcement
-CALEA/J-STD-025A; standard interface between agency and telco, new (1996)
Possesion of wiretapping equipment is a felony offense (18USC2512).

security article

Dinner - LISA Reception, buffet food, $500 of funny money, gambling. Met someone from a smaller regional hospital who uses some of the same tools we do.

BoFs, did not make it to any of them because I went to the SUN Reception.

The SUN reception was a good choice. I was able to meet many, many, many talented people from SUN, from a kernel engineer to a tech writer for http://docs.sun.com (chief writer), to a security expert on PKI. My colleague and myself spent the better part of two hours engaged in very good discussion about OpenSolaris, OpenSPARC, Solaris 10, zones, patch management (updatemanager, smpatch, etc), systems management (SunMC), new technologies (T1) and cost vs power analysis of various platforms. I need to give a lot of credit to SUN for sending engineers and technical writers to this conference, it shows a committment to the SysAdmins and the engineers are able to get real-world experience (and ancedotes) about the products they work on.

Tomorrow is the last day of the conference. I miss home. The conference started out strange and slow, but these last few days have been what it is all about, SAs from all over the world, as well vendors, scientists, managers, and security experts coming together and sharing ideas and experiences. BoFs are nice, but I actually value the 'Hallway Track' more as you can get to know the other people on a personal level as well as a technical level. I will leave here this year with new contacts and a new friends.


[Tech] Lisa 2005 - Day 5

Tutorials are over (for me). Today starts the tech sessions and the conference in full force. They opened the gates and the barbarian vendor hordes have arrived (but they have put them in their own room and left the window open a crack so they can breathe).

LISA 2005 Trip Log: 12/07/2005
Day 5 - Tech Sessions and Referreed Papers

Tech Sessions and Refereed Papers

Keynote - Scaling the Search, Dr Lu, Yahoo!

Tech Session 1 - AM

Invited Talk 2 - Network Black Ops: Extracting Unexpected Functionality from Existing Networks
Dan Kaminsky, DoxPara Research
[CANCELED, lecturer did not show]

Went to Refereed Papers:

GULP: Unified Logging Architecture for Authentication Data, by Matt Selsky adn Daniel Medina, Columbia University

notes: only keeps 28 days worth of data in Oracle DB, no archives, no backups, not ready for prime-time yet.

Toward an Automated Vulnerability Comparison of Open Source IMAP Servers, by Chaos Golubitsky, Carnegie Mellon University
notes: IMAP vulnerability was determined by a weighting of the available f(x) calls via the network API and assigned a score. Interesting idea for analyzing potential security risks via complexity of code.

Fast User-Mode Rootkit Scanner for the Enterprise, by Yi-Mon Wang and Doug Beck\, Microsoft Research
notes: very energetic speaker. They are scanning based on the principle of di\ffing a running system and a stopped system. On a running system a stealthy ro\otkit will hide itself from all the APIs, but it will still exist on disk, by s\canning a disk of a non-running system, you can now find the rootkit by what sh\ows up. If they don't hide, however, the GhostBuster tool cannot find it, but \other tools should be able to find it.

Lunch - Pizza in Fashion Valley...a strange place. Had lunch with SAs from Sweden, very informative, good exchange of ideas and culture.

Tech Session 2 - Afternoon
INVITED TALKS I - What Big Sites Can Learn from Little Sites, by Tom Limoncelli, Cibernet Corp.


Afternoon break - bought a few tech books, wander through the barbarian vendors hordes.

Referreed Papers:

About the Integration of Mac OS X Devices into a Centrally Managed UNIX Environment, by Anton Schultschik, ETH Zurich

http://isg.ee.ethz.ch/tools/isgtc/ (great idea for work)

RegColl: Centralized Registry Framework for Infrastructure System Management, by Brent ByungHoon Kang, Vikram Sharma, and Pratik Thanki, University of North Carolina at Charlotte


Herding Cats: Managing a Mobile UNIX Platform, by Maarten Thibaut and Wout Mertens, Cisco Systems, Inc.



Dinner was the Mexifest sponsored in the vendor room. Good hallway discussions.

NetApp/Symantec/Decru Mixer. Good times had by all.


[Tech] Lisa 2005 - Day 4

LISA 2005 Trip Log: 12/06/2005
Day 4 - Tutorial T7, T12


T7 - Over the Edge System Administration
by David N. Blank-Edelman
goal: learn to think outside of the box to solve SA related problems and new approaches to SA concepts.

OUT OF THE BOX: Due to 'inetd' any program can be a network program (i.e. iostat).

IDEA: Use laptops to monitor UPSes.

IDEA: Laptops for DR purposes (put all documentation and whatever is needed on DVD and laptop and ship to a secure site).

Brutal File Manager - DOOM style interface to delete/manage files.

WWW::Mechanize::Shell - cli interface via perl to web pages

IDEA: GrokItBot as a tool to query systems...hook the bot from a system to IRC

DBD::AnyData - turns any data into db queries

SexChart - illustration of out of the box ways to represent interdependencies between things.

Website for status for downtime.

Rendevous at a trusted host:
ssh -R 4321:localhost:80 trustedmachine
ssh -L 80:localhost:4321 trustedmachine

Lunch - light pasta salad and Mahi-Mahi
sat in the sun.

T12 - Solaris 10 Security Feature Workshop
by Peter Galvin

Research FLAR w/ master + differential updates;
Master - base OS + EIS patch set
--->diff 1 - VxVM/VxFS pkgs installed but not configured

T7 links:
Rory Blyth - Neopoleon.com
monotone: distributed version control
Welcome to the home of the Brutal File Manager
Peek-a-Boo Overview
psDooM: DooM for Sys A&#39;s
URLToys/.flux Homepage!
SourceForge.net: AVFS: A Virtual Filesystem
Gmail Filesystem
lesspipe, an addon for the browser less
Infobot Homepage
Flooterbuck Infobot - A modular infobot
B L O O T B O T . H O M E
Suttree » GrokItBot
Alice Hill’s Real Tech News - Independent Tech » Must Read: 122 Ways to Speed Up Windows XP
Peep: The Network Auralizer
XML.com: Working with Bayesian Categorizers
the sexchart archive
Sitemap for The Treehouse - Trygve Lode&#39;s official site with movie trailers, music videos, mp3 files, and more
cvoid - big giant television
LAFFEY: spinner
Disk Space Problems (Perl for System Administration)
Developments of the Honeyd Virtual Honeypot
Sys Admin > Spam Supplement 2004
PORTKNOCKING - A system for stealthy authentication across closed ports. : ABOUT : summary
duplicity: Main
Welcome to Dirvish
BackupPC: Open Source Backup to disk
Unison File Synchronizer
Easy Automated Snapshot-Style Backups with Rsync
Holy Shmoly! :: Easy Automated Snapshot-Style Backups with Rsync
Distributed Internet Backup System
Magic Mirror Backup(tm)
312&#39;s Home Page
Advanced OpenSSH
fsh -- Fast remote command execution
Punching holes into firewalls
Anti-Proxy - infoAnarchy Wiki
SSHKeychain - About
How MUD&#39;s Work, MUD Design
DoxPara Research

T12 links:
Home at OpenSolaris.org

I had some documents I needed to sign and fax and I had a bit of hilarity tonight. First, the Town and Country Resort business center is terrible (and horribly expensive). The computers were down, they do not have a networked printer and printing was $1/page and faxing was $10/3 pages. I decided against it, so I called the local Kinkos. Kinkos must have been undergoing some kind of regional DoS, virus attack, or system upgrade because all self-serve computers within a relatively close distance of the resort were down. They could print my document, but it would be a 5-10 wait as they are backed up and this is their busiest time of year. Screw that.

Tonight more BoFs and Quest for Food II - the Hunger.


Logging and Logfile Analysis

Beer and Ice Cream Social

Invigorating hallway discussion on a wide topic of subjects, Security, 55808 packets, science, science history, mathematics, Active Directory vs LDAP, the finer points of good beers, ales, lagers and beverages of all types.


Sun Microsystems has announced that it will be open sourcing SPARC.


[Tech] Lisa 2005 - Day 3

M7 - Security Without Firewalls
by Abe Singer

Lunch - took a nap, watched 'Underworld' Extended Unrated Edition

M14 - The Latest in Hacking Tools & Techniques
by David Rhoades

M14 was an outstanding tutorial. The lecturer put it together as a multi-media session and real demo of tools.

links from M14:
State of Oregon vs Randal Schwartz computer security case
Maven Security Consulting Inc - Info Security Consulting & Training Services - Home
The Cross-Site Scripting Virus
Tsunami hacker convicted | Channel Register
Teen jailed over Paris Hilton hack
Cassandra: index.html
WiGLE - Wireless Geographic Logging Engine - Plotting WiFi on Maps
WiGLE Google Map
Airsnarf - A rogue AP setup utility
Airsnarf - Rogue Squadron
The Shmoo Group
Wi-Fi phishing scam targets business travelers - Computerworld
FrSIRT Exploits and 0day-exploits
The Metasploit Project
Knopper.Net Consulting
IWHAX - News
News - Rexploit
PHLAK :: [P]rofessional [H]acker&#39;s [L]inux [A]ssault [K]it - :: News
VoPSecurity - Home
New Caller I.D. spoofing site opens
Spotting the pharming websites - IT Security News - SC Magazine UK
Description of a new feature that users can use to read non-digitally-signed e-mail or nonencrypted e-mail as plain text in Office XP SP-1
How Not to Get Hooked by a â~@~XPhishingâ~@~Y Scam

---end links---
5 of us played a little game last night called 'Quest for Food' as we toured portions of San Diego in search of a good meal. We were only 50% successful.

The BoFs (Birds of a Feather) sessions started to night. Saw a really good one by some authors at MAKE magazine, might have to get myself a subscription.

I put my feet in the pool and watched the stars.


[Tech] LISA 2005 - Day 2

System down at work back home.

S8 - Issues in UNIX Infrastructure Design
by Lee Damon

S8 links:
NIKOLA Disk Layout Plan
19th Large Installation System Administration Conference (LISA &#39;05)
LISA&#39;05 Wiki: Home Infrastructures.Org: Best Practices in Automated Systems Administration and Infrastructure Architecture: Home
Bootstrapping an Infrastructure
Syslog-ng faq
Products :: BalaBit IT KFT ::
Cfengine - an adaptive configuration engine
Nagios: Home
Condor Project Homepage
Sun N1 Grid Engine 6
PBS Professional 7.0
Logging with syslog-ng
The Berkeley Automounter Suite of Utilities
LPRng Web Page
---end links---

goals: know the questions to ask about considerations for planning UNIX infrastructures. A philosphy class, not to teach answers, but questions.

Lunch: conference provided...mexican...bad mexican

Over lunch checked out the grounds. This place is kind of like a cross between fantasy island and something from a bad 70s movie. Found a large shopping complex behind the property and a small creek with ducks.

Trip to Fry's Electronics...geek world.

Spent some time in Scripps Medical Center with a friend attending the conference (minor pool accident). The ER, late at night was...interesting. A woman told me the gov't is trying to kill me and that she is tired of all the 'reptile alien bullshit.'

This conference has not had a dull moment.

[Tech] LISA 2005 - day 1

Travel Day

Left MN in a blizzard to arrive in San Diego with clear, 61F weather.

Picked up my registration material and my 'tags'; Sheriff, Scribe, Has Been

Met a Sys Admin from Norway named Stieg.

My hotel room overlooks a pool...sweet!


[Musings] "I should have some pudding..."

I re-watched a 'art film' made by an old co-worker and friend (Avindair who does the Northmisfit blog), the film was 'The Thing that Happened'. Absurd, bizarre, ludicrous...french. These are all words that can be used to describe this movie.

"I am dreaming of sweet monkey love."


[Tech] 1 keyboards, 2 hosts

A co-worker of mine turned me on to a product called 'Synergy' which is a software KVM type switch. It is very nice. I allows me to use one keyboard on mouse on multiple machines.

Here is my setup:

laptop (left client): Mac OSx 10.4.2

workstation (host): Solaris 10

My workstation (solaris 10 host) is the Synergy server (we will call it host1 to protect the innocent). My laptop is a synergy client (we will call it client1 to protect the innocent). I downloaded the source code for synergy and compiled it. On my laptop (client1) I let it install (./configure, make, sudo make install) into the default /usr/local/bin, on my workstation (host1) I compiled it and installed it into /opt/synergy/bin. Synergy on non-windows requires that you create a config file. Here is my synergy.conf file:

---start synergy.conf---
section: screens
meta = alt
section: links
left = client1
right = host1
section: aliases

I then started the server on host1:

/opt/synergy/bin/synergys -f -c /opt/synergy/bin/synergy.conf

(note synergy's default behavior is to background in daemon mode, the -f keeps it in the foreground, which is useful for testing). I didn't receive any errors, so I moved on to my laptop where I started the client:

/usr/local/bin/synergyc -f host1

I saw a successful connection message on the server and poof! I was linked! But this is not very secure, as things are passed unencrypted. But wait! Here is where my trusty friend SSH came in. I tunnelled the traffic over SSH between my two systems and it worked.

I used this link as a guide, but found that the example synergy.conf did not completely work for my mix of Solaris, OSX and synergy, so I did things a little differently (see my .conf above).

My procedure was this:

1. start synergy server on host1 at port 7777
/opt/synergy/bin/synergys -a host1.mydomain.edu:7777 -c /opt/synergy/bin/synergy.conf

2. establish a ssh tunnel from client1 to host1 with my user account
ssh -f -N -L1024:host1.mydomain.edu:7777 myname@host1

3. start synergy client on client1 and point to localhost:1024

4. enjoy

Helpful tips:
* make sure you enable port forwarding on the SSHD config
* use the same versions of synergy on all systems
* setup authorized ssh keys on each system to allow you to connect back and forth with minimal fuss, but this method works without them as well
* add the 'meta = alt' part under the OSX entry if you are using a SUN type keyboard and want to use the 'meta' (diamond shaped key) as the apple 'command' key.


[Commerce] Outta the red, and into the black; they give you this, but you pay for that...

(...And once you're gone, you can never come back - couldn't resist)

A little reminder that Friday is 'Buy Nothing Day' in the US and Canada, and Saturday on pretty much the rest of the planet.

This little made up protest day marks the day usually known as 'Black Friday', during which you can see the trained seals of American consumerism barking for discount fish at five in the morning. Yes, you haven't shopped till you drop until you've gotten into a shoving match over the last pair of 40% off golf-tee patterned boxer shorts at 7am. My understanding is it is the day quite a few businesses go from debt to profitability in any given year (thus, out of the red ink and into the black in their ledgers...)

If you must hit the sales, be kind to your fellow shoppers and remember that about half the people on this planet live on less than $2 a day. Be thankful of your lot in life the previous day, eh (and all the others if you can). A very Happy Thanksgiving to all. You can get anything you want at Alice's Tofurkey Shack.


[Politics] Chavez to give cheap heating oil to poor

Kudos to Venezuela.


We (America) could learn a thing or two from actions such as this. Remember when we used to things called 'Humanitarian Aid'? For no reason other than goodwill and to help those truly in need? I've noticed that as this country becomes more right and more 'christian', humanitarian actions are becoming more and more infrequent. The ones that are done, have ulterior motives or strings attached (remember Bush's pledge of money to Africa for AIDS? Only if they buy name-brand drugs, only if they push a religious agenda, and so on).

Remember America when we used to be cool?


[Antidisestablishmentarianism] I am current on my salon reading

An excellent article about the non-war over xmas(a battle not-fought between the secular and the religious)

[Tech/Politics/Music] So I am back logged on my Slate reading...

Excellent article about hot barely-legal, nearly free mp3 on mp3 action!

[Humor] I am...

The NorthernMisfit blog has got me hooked on these cheesy 'what are you...' things, so here are a few more for me:

You're Nada from They Live.
They Live.

Which B-Movie Badass Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

HEY! You're ICQ! The once trendy instant messenging
service, you are now more widely used by people
who can actually figure you out. A very hard
nut to crack for the basic user, you tend to be
used by those more sophisticated and web savvy.
Unfortunately for you, you are known merely by
a number. No way cool trendy screennames for
you, pal. 'You will be assimilated.
Resistance is futile'

Which Instant Message Service are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

You're crazy! YAY!
Now, if the world had more people like you, we'd be
cultivating chocolate and the ozone would be a
thing of the past.
^_^ Have a nice day.

Insanity Test
brought to you by Quizilla

The Land of Darkness

The Land of Darkness is your dreary home. Your life
is bleak and sinister. You are prone to
depression. You feel anger at the world and you
feel like the victim. Everyone is out to get
you. You have no problem showing your emotions,
and you probably show them in a destructive
way. You might have no objections to causing
other people pain as you put yourself through
pain. You probably cut or mutilate your body.
However, deep down you are lost and crying out
for help. You are a small weeping child with
the hard exterior of a person who has been
through extreme sorrow in their life.

What is the mystical land of your birth? {13 results with gorgeous anime pics}
brought to you by Quizilla

Snape - Potions

Harry Potter: Which Hogwarts professor would you be?
brought to you by Quizilla


[Science] Deja Vu explained


[Video] Beck's 'Hell Yes'

You must see the dancing robots!


[Musings] Where the hell am I?

Oh yeah that's right...waking from a long dream. In my dream I was in a fantastical world. I was standing on a cliff overlooking the turbulence. I was 17. The turbulence represented the unknowable future. I grew wings...and JUMPED. I dived head long into the future. I caught the first updraft and faltered but recovered slightly. I started to rise, but like Icarus, suddenly my wings did not melt, but broke and I started to plummet. I fell through time.

This was a dream I used to have when I was in my junior and senior year of high school. I had this dream again the other night. This time, I was incorporeal and at great heights watching myself standing on the cliff. I watched myself jump and try to fly but fall. I fell for a long long time. My older self watched from a distance and I remembered past pains. I saw myself fall into a dark abyss and when I could almost not see myself any more, bright points of light surrounded me and helped me to learn to fly.

I know this dream sounds a bit cliche. But serious, it is what I had, and could remember. I know it is filled with a lot of obvious symbolism. But that is how I've felt lately, like I've awoken from a long dream. The last time I had this feeling it was after I stopped working nights. I had worked nights for 5 years. A year after I switched to a day shift I suddenly realized I could only remember bits and pieces of my life from the previous 5 years. All the real memories had the feeling and consistancy of a dream.

Well enough of the pyscho-metaphysical babblings. Here is a snapshot of my intellectual pursuits at the moments:

Reading list:

Understanding Power - Collected speeches of Noam Chomsky
International Spy Museum Handbook of Practical Spying - by the International Spy Museum
Harry Potter and the Philospher's Stone - J.K. Rowling
The Truth (with Jokes) - Al Franken
The Bush Dyslexicon - Mark Crispin Miller
The Only Bush I Trust is my Own - Periel Aschenbrand

What am I drinking RIGHT NOW: 20oz Mocha at J&S Bean Factory (support your local coffeeshop!)

Current playlist on iTunes:

zstuff (an eccelectic mix of damn near everything, current song is 'Circle Dream' by 10k Maniacs, next song is 'Candy Everybody Wants' by 10k Maniacs)

Activities planned tonight: NERD NIGHT!!! (or MN-Bi-Mon-Sci-Fi-Con)


[Rantacular] Northwest Airlines

I am waiting for nerdwife to fly back into Rochester. NWA let her book an early flight home, which was awesome because we could then spend some time before going to the midnight Harry Potter. But no, due to their total incompetence (they could not figure out how to get a jetway to connect to a DC-9, because that is an unusual type of plane?), her flight was over an hour late into MSP, which means she missed her connecting flight to Rochester. Those asses then had the gaul to try and charge her $180 to rebook on a flight that now arrives at 10:08pm. $180 for their fuck-up?!?! I am glad they reconsidered. Because that is not only bad customer service, but extortion (according to nerdwife, only 5 people on a full flight actually made their connecting flight, everyone else was in the same situation as her). Northwest, I will dance on your grave when you finally give up the ghost. You've screwed the citizens of MN long enough. We've bailed you out at least twice. How do you repay us? 15% higher fares out of MSP than elsewhere. You busted your Mechanics Union with an underhanded and in my opinion, unethical manipulations of contract negotiations. I have not had an enjoyable flight with you myself since 2000, when I was on a flight back from Philadelphia that had only 10 people on board. I have started telling everyone that Sun Country Airlines is a much, much, much more enjoyable air travel experience. Granted they do not go to everywhere you do, but they at least treat you like a person, have a smile, and feed you a warm meal (even in coach). If I have to fly somewhere else, there is always United, while having a lot of the same issues as you, at least has larger seats.

[Humor] I am latin

Saw this on the Northern Misfit blog and had to try it.

Calliope, Muse of epic poetry
You are 'Latin'. Even among obsolete skills, the
tongue of the ancient Romans is a real
anachronism. With its profusion of different
cases and conjugations, Latin is more than a
language; it is a whole different way of
thinking about things.

You are very classy, meaning that you value the
classics. You value old things, good things
which have stood the test of time. You value
things which have been proven worthy and
valuable, even if no one else these days sees
them that way. Your life is touched by a
certain 'pietas', or piety; perhaps you are
even a Stoic. Nonetheless, you have a certain
fascination with the grotesque and the profane.
Also, the modern world rejects you like a bad
transplant. Your problem is that Latin has
been obsolete for a long time.

What obsolete skill are you?
brought to you by Quizilla


[Idea] The Cookbook for the Busy Person

Nerdwife has been out of town for a week so I have been going solo. She is an excellent cook and is the one who usually cooks meals, but while alone I have re-discovered my cooking side from my bachelor days (post-ramen noodles, pre-married).

Here is a simple recipe to gourmet up some pasta and red sauce. Others please contribute your quick and easy recipes.

Fancee Pasta w/ Red Sauce:
1 container of red pasta or spaggehti sauce (any kind, I use Muir Glen, but that is me)
1 can of chopped tomatoes (well drained, I prefer Muir Glen canned tomatoes)
some amount of pasta
1 partial onion chopped (optional)
at least 1 clove of garlic or garlic powder (optional)
shredded/grated/pulverized cheese of your choice (optional)
fire extinguisher (just in case)
intoxicating beverage

Boil pasta per instructions, or just wing it until you think it is done. Note there is a difference between boil and roiling boil and simply just warm water.

Strain pasta and put aside for now.

Heat red sauce, once sauce starts bubbling add the WELL strained tomatoes (you really need well strained otherwise it is too liquidy). Heat to a bubble, then simmer for about 5 minutes or so to let some of the moisture go away.

Add onions and garlic to taste, kicked it up a notch with some hot peppers. If you screw it up, there is always pizza delivery.

Put pasta on a plate, cover to desired amount with sauce (or just eat sauce out of pot) and cheese and anything else you want.

Eat and drink.

Note if you catch something on fire, use the fire extinguisher.


[Politics] Bill O'Reilly is an ass

Seriously, major ass. He pushes an agenda of hate and jingoism that he calls patriotism.

Here is a good example: O'Reilly to San Francisco

[Tech/Funny] Kill Bill's Browser

Bloody genius.



[TV] Kill your [TV]

{incoherent rant} Two months ago I had I 27" TV hooked up in my apartment. It dominated the main wall of my living space. It was the central frame of the room. All the furniture was situated around viewing angles.

It was gathering dust.

I'm not quite sure when it was that I realized it was a waste of time and valuable apartment real estate, but it only took me a couple of days to come to a conclusion of what to do with it.

I pitched it. Recycled it, actually, since CRT TVs have quite a lot of lead and other toxic chemicals in them.

I haven't had too much reason to regret my decsion. I kept a tiny 9" tv for emergencies, but it mostly resides in the back of a linen closet.

The state of television programs in the US is as bad as it has been at any point, perhaps no better or worse. To say the least, that is pretty lousy. Television has a grade average of about D+ most of the time. Sure, there might be a couple things that it does well, but most of the time it is just coasting, not living up to its potential as a medium.

First of all, television has been shortened to record-low times in the pursuit of more and more advertising time. Hour long shows now are only a little more than 40 minutes (I think the average is like 41 minutes now). One of the most compelling reasons to ditch your TV is to ditch the crappy adverts that break into your mental landscapes like a burglar in combat boots. If the bulk of Western civilization were selling anything I had any interest in buying, I might consider it a service. But they sell shit. Crappy worthless shit. Plus perscription drugs (for examples, see any evening national news program). They sell it using the most asinine and hackneyed techniques. There is no doubt that the people who write ads also write for television.

Second, most people consider cable TV a given now. $50-100 a month!? Are they kidding? Plus, a quick preview of what's on should tell you that cable TV is mostly more of the same crap the broadcast networks spout. I will not pay $60 a month for TCM and the Sci-Fi channel. My parent's recently got Dish Network, and mostly the only useful channel is the Sirius sattelite radio channels. Even that, as a stand-alone is $10 or $15 a month. Better to give that to Minnesota Public Radio, who actually play decent music.

Third, television programmers have shit for brains. I'd like to make a special shout out to the programming folks at FOX, who kill everything I love. FU Fox!

I mean seriously, Fox cannot market Arrested Development, probably the funniest show on television in a decade, and yet they'll cancel it and hope for lots of long term profits with 'Prison Break' (which has insufficient long-term prospects to warrant a miniseries, much less a series - let me give you a hint 'they break out and the show is over or they don't break out and you drag the show to death over rough asphault). Other networks fill their dead air with terrible soap operas that are almost more product placement examples and less actual story (boy meets girl, meetings and partings, TNA, numbskull beergut dads). Worst of all is when rank amateurs like J. J Abrams is given a bunch of shows and tons of people watch them, hoping he has some idea of where it is all going (he doesn't - see Alias post season 1 for proof). It isn't much better than this.

I'd normally bitch that broadcast TV cannot do scifi without cancelling it, but it actually seems like a couple networks have gone and done scifi this season. Too bad all the new shows look terrible. The networks want to replicate the success of the first five or six season of The X-Files (now, sadly, starting to look awfully dated), so they even retry Kolchak The Night Stalker, which the X-Files itself ripped off (and I should mention that the original Kolchak only lasted 20 episodes.) The only half-decent (and I am fearful that it really is only half) fairly new scifi is Battlestar Galactica on SciFi, which is better than the original but going in a very disconcerting direction. To confirm it, Hollywood is pretty much out of ideas, and anything new or cool will be killed swiftly (probably by Fox).

The FCC wants to sell off the multibillion dollar spectrum and have everyone switch to digital tv/hdtv. Then you can spend money to buy a digital tv or converter so you can watch hi def signals of shallow crap. $5000 for a plasma tv? I don't think so. Unplug instead. There is a whole world out there.

The benefits of ditching the tele as a foreground aspect of your life include the ability to take back your time and your ability to entertain yourself. Read a book. Play a musical instrument. Buy a puppy. Write something. See a play (plays are better than tv). Learn a skill. Seriously, at some point it is a good idea to stop bowing down to the altar of passive entertainment. You might even learn how to think for yourself again.

Plus it will free up some wall space.

{/ end of rant}


[Politics] Congrats to St Paul

Citizens of Saint Paul, good for you! I lived as a resident of St Paul for 12 years and had to live under the gentle (as in date rape) ministration of the Coleman and Kelly as mayors of that fine city.

It brought a tear to my eye to see Randy Kelly so overwehlmingly defeated.


[Politics] 53%


Even with a 2.9% margin of error, that means the support is over half.


[Interblogy Linkify] Graveyard of Urban Tanks

Check it out...

That is both very sad and very funny.


[Musings] Blogspam

Well blogspam is not cool, nor is the fact those ass-clowns have harvested the emails for members from the profiles to send spam to them.

Despite this, I have resumed anonymous postings. I hated the limitations that the anti-spam measures imposed. I wanted this blog to be a sort of free-for-all for its members.

I will continue to delete the blogspam comments, unless I find them funny, from now on. But I will not re-enable the verification systems unless it becomes a problem.


[Musings] Oncallapus

Oncallapus (n) - 1. A greater demon from the depths of hell. Noted for its perverse pleasure to alter the daily life of mortals. Works through minor minions known as Bleepelots, vile small rectangular shaped entities known for the constant attention needs, annoying siren call, and tickling vibrations.


[TechZen] How to recover from serial split brain...

From http://seer.support.veritas.com/docs/269233.htm

At this stage, you need to gain confidence prior to running the recommended command...


[Film] The Stars are Right!

I just picked up a copy of the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society's silent film adaptation of "The Call of Cthulhu" on DVD. Based on the best known short story by Howard Phillips Lovecraft, this has long been regarded as unfilmable. It has multiple locations, a cast of dozens, and requires a deft touch. Most Lovecraft film adaptations have been, well, lets face it, pretty terrible (with occasional okay standouts like 'Dagon'). So it seems a real gamble to do a faithful low budget black and white silent film version of a story that is supposed to take place in the 1920's (thus befitting said treatment).

Boy did it pay off.

Wow. It was even better than I expected. It would be difficult to imagine any authentic looking twenties style silent film being done at all anymore, much less one as pitch perfect as this one. From the old style effects and rendering tricks (scale, fx), a noir atmosphere, background music, even to such details as the scratching of the negative, the typefaces on the placards (in 24 languages to boot!), almost every detail was painstakenly done to look authentic. This project was clearly in the hands of folks who "get" Lovecraft, and wanted to do something that didn't betray the imagery and story. It comes off as part twenties silent film, part noir, part suspense film, part low-budget indie, Brechtian play, Wiene-esque Expressionistic nightmare, and part Ray Harryhausen inspired madness. All of it comes off as a labor of love, and a hell of a lot more than I ever would have expected given their budget and the less than stellar past Lovecraftian adaptations to rise from the depths of R'lyeh. The effects are seriously old school, consistent with what you might have seen in a real 1920's silent film (and the more modern effects are pretty seamless, and the acting is better than in the 20's!). It is also amazing what you can get away with in black and white. Some of the scenes are just surreal. The film runs 47 taut minutes.

If you are a Lovecraft fan you will absolutely shiver when you see Cthulhu emerge.

DVD was ordered direct. $20, and shipping was $1.31 A great value. Even my receipt came on paper that looks like a Lovecraftian inspired 1920's telegram. The details are everything. This film was done by a lot of dedicated folks not making a lot of money over the space of two years. Lovecraft fans should support projects like this. Here is the trailer.

If you like Lovecraft, reread "The Call of Cthulhu", then pop this movie in and enjoy.


[Special] Happy 6th Wedding Anniversary Nerdwife!

Thank you for six wonderful years, the good, the bad, my gas...

Here's to many many more.


[Musings] On difficult reading and pasta; including some digressions. With regards to Ben Marcus.

I recently read Ben Marcus' excellent folio in this month's Harper's magazine, entitled "Why experimental fiction threatens to destroy publishing. Jonathan Franzen, and life as we know it." I was so taken with this article that I am considering sending it to everyone I know and irritating them with persistent emails and an excess of lengthy voicemail messages until it has been read by all. In fact, reader, the only way to stave off this threat may be go find Harper's now. But first, a laudatory comment or two.

This outstanding discourse reflects on the damage perpetuated by outspoken advocates of popularized, popcorn-worthy fiction (namely, Jonathan Franzen, but he is far from alone in this enterprise). Should you be unfamiliar with this debate, I will attempt to summarize nearly two decades' worth of interviews, articles, blogs and commentary in two sentences. The argument essentially states that the role of fiction is to entertain as many people as possible by utilizing straightforward narratives, character complexities easily derived from their childhoods, and predictable plot twists and resolutions all neatly packaged in a setting as familiar as my mother's favorite stoneware. Fiction which strays from this well-worn path is dangerous, generally worthless and needlessly difficult (in Marcus' words, "disturbingly masturbatory").

Marcus' 2002-ish novel Notable American Women is an example of the difficult fiction decried by Franzen. This is a book so delectable that I am, even now, pleasurably lolling in memories of favorite phrases and passages. This is also a book that I have never recommended to anyone. It is a celebration of, and trial in, uses of language. The characters are at (most) times inscrutable; the plot is meant to be inferred by the reader; the narrator, unreliable... in short, this is not a book destined to be read by, say, my mother.

This should not detract from this book's value, both as art and as entertainment. By discouraging readership of esoteric, experimental, or otherwise narrow-audience fiction, Franzen threatens to deprive the literature world of significant works. Homogeneity is comforting but makes for a life of poor reading, in my estimation. Admittedly, I am a difficult and often contrary person (as confirmed by my poor husband), and often inclined to embrace ill-advised enterprises (cf my present thesis work). But does this make my tastes less valid than those of anyone else?

Consider dining with my mother. Mom is a bona fide culinary genius- she can make anything tasty. Our tastes in pasta diverge significantly, however. What is an al dente masterpiece to me is merely chewy to her. My mother also enjoys romance novels, so much so that she hasn't read anything else for most of my life. Indeed, I have been known to partake in the Harlequin goodness. Some days, I just need reassurance that although fate separated them at the alter, Drew finds Spencer as damnably desirable as ever, and will make her his on their quest for rare antiquities.... But I also need the toothsome enjoyment of (allegedly) difficult fiction. And spaghetti alla pepperocino. Often at the same time.

I propose an exchange. I will eat Mom's pasta (and like it), and continue to read nearly everything that crosses my path; I will also endorse "difficult" works, even to lovers of straightforward fiction. In return, readers, please support rare fiction enterprises by reading them, recommending them, and not listening to the grinding uniformity endorsed by some in the literary enterprise. Preserve the beauty of literature by reading something different!

Sláinte- to your reading health.

[Music] Arcade Fire

Went to the Arcade Fire concert at 1st Ave last Thursday. Amazing, simply awesome, actually the best concert I have been to in a long time.

It recharged my sould.

Also, the men's bathroom at 1st Ave is very interesting, you can urinate while watch traffic outside.


[Musings] Depression, the mistress of happiness.


Depression, in everyday language, refers to any downturn in mood, which may be relatively transitory and perhaps due to something trivial. This is differentiated from clinical depression which is marked by symptoms that last two weeks or more and are so severe that they interfere with daily living.

In the field of psychiatry the word depression can also have this meaning but more specifically refers to a mental illness when it has reached a severity and duration to warrant a diagnosis. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) states that a depressed mood is often reported as being: "... depressed, sad, hopeless, discouraged, or 'down in the dumps'."

In a clinical setting, a depressed mood can be something a patient reports (a symptom), or something a clinician observes (a sign), or both.

Depression is the mistress, the secret lover of happiness. It is the yang of ying. The darkness to the light.


[Image] You will not see this in American media.

This graphic image found on the BBC News website I think illustrates the hell of war and what our soldiers are going through. Granted this is a British soldier, but our troops face no less of a threat.

Full story here.

Thanks to the Bush Administration, our media has been 'sanitized' of any offending images. We will not see the horror and cost of war. We will not see the flag draped coffins. And if it wasn't for the efforts of media (by that I mean CNN's legal action against the gov't for the right to show these images), we would never see the images of the dead in New Orleans.

Just because we do not see the bad things that happen in this world, it does not mean that bad things don't happen. Wake up America.


[Yarrr!!!!!] Shit, almost forgot...

Today be talk like a pirate day all you sons of scuvious dogs!

Buckets-o-blood on me poop-deck!

Best pirate-ninja connection...EVAR!!!!

Right here.

[Musings] Why I can't piece two sentences together.

I've been suffering from writers block again, severely. I don't know why, I have a lot of pent up rants and observations crying to be birthed unto the world. I think it might be the fact I have worked almost everyday for two weeks and am thoroughly exhausted. It might be because I was dissed by a vendor at work (revenge is a dish best served chilled, with a cheese and cracker tray). But mostly I think it might be because it is a full moon.

Now before you laugh, I've been doing an observational experiment over the last few months and my productivity does go down the 3 days around and during a full moon. I get absent minded, I loose my ability to form cogent thoughts and sentences, and I make stupid mistakes. Now, this could be because I seem to notice it and hence psych myself out, but other strange things happen during a full moon. Systems at work break in strange ways, all by themselves.

I dunno, maybe I am going insane.


[Poem] 0xdeadbeef

e_ddi_get_dev_info: Illegal major device number <-1>NOTICE: VxVM vxio V-5-0-74 Cannot open disk ROOTDISK: kernel error 6

Cannot mount root on /pseudo/vxio@0:0 fstype ufs

panic[cpu3]/thread=10408000: vfs_mountroot: cannot mount root

0000000010407970 genunix:vfs_mountroot+70 (10437400, 0, 0, 104732fa, 80, 14)
%l0-3: 0000000010437400 000000001043ab20 000000323e000000 0000000010437608
%l4-7: 0000000000000000 00000000104139e8 00000000000c17bf 00000000000017bf
0000000010407a20 genunix:main+8c (104101f8, 2000, 10407ec0, 10408030, fff2, 1005
%l0-3: 0000000000000001 0000000000000001 0000000000000015 0000000000000f69
%l4-7: 000000001042a1c8 00000000104791b8 00000000000da100 0000000000000100

skipping system dump - no dump device configured

SC Alert: Host System has Reset


[Musings] FEMA, the Supreme Court, and all

I read an interesting article by Steve Perry at City Pages (you can see it here).

I think he makes good points.

I wish the media would quit chest thumping about their coverage of Hurricane Katrina. Yes, they grew a spine and reported the atrosity. But don't give up now, challenge the talking points be persistant. Expose the administration for the frauds they are and keep uncovering their incompetencies and inadequacies as leaders.

Its not too late.


[Musings] Got nothing.

Been exhausted.

Turned 30.

Had a meat-coma.

Can't find a damn company to haul away a washer and dryer in Rochester.

Thinking about World of Warcraft.


[Musings] Perfection Deception

I spy with my little eye an epidemic.

There it is! Right in front of you! Buy this magazine, buy this book! You too can have perfect abs, perfect hair, perfect SATs, perfect sex. We're obsessed, enamored, entrenched. We have a love affair with the impossible - perfection.

When did we ever start believing this was possible? And how did our thinking become so warped that now we expect NASA and the space program to be perfect?

Thinking back to the coverage of the Discovery mission, I am still puzzled over the talking heads in the media. Their infotainment spin on the mission was if the shuttle explodes again, that will be the end of all space travel for the US. Ever. (Of course with some meaningless polls to back them up.) Now I can see how another tragic loss may prompt tax payers to take a harder look at the massive amount of fundage NASA receives, but I suspect the real reason for a NASA shut down would be that the public would consider another accident as evidence this whole space exploration thing is a total failure. We demand perfection from the most dangerous of our peaceful (as far as we know) pursuits.

I guess that's what baffles me - we do not recognize the cost of growth. Somehow we've been deluded into thinking progress and discovery come in neat, clean, and expected intervals.

[Tech] 24x7 Digital Age? My ass.

Nerdwife and I have been lusting over the Motorola Razr V3 phones. We currently have Sprint PCS, which means we cannot use those phones as they are GSM (lame, lame, lame). Since we get crappy PCS reception at our new home, I figured switching carriers would not be a bad thing. You have a choice of a few carriers, T-Mobile, Midwest Wireless, and Cingular. I ruled out Midwest Wireless as I want a national carrier that can give me the best deal and the largest coverage with all the bells and whistles of data access (internet) and other such goodness. Some of my co-workers have Cingular and they like it, and most importantly, they get decent reception within the data centers (which Sprint does not). So I did some research and found a place online that had a great (seemingly) deal on Motorola Razrs and Cingular family plan, so I signed up. It was a web form and I put in my existing cell phone numbers and they said they could port them to my new plan, so I thought 'ROCK!'. I signed up, the phones were $180/phone but they had a special offer of $180/phone mail in rebate, so sweeet. I ordered them.

The phones arrived, and flags went off. The rebates where wishy-washy and while giving the $180/phone rebate, they had wierd clauses that were not apparent on the website. Things like we can't submit the rebates less than 180 days but no more than 210 days after activation. There is a $250 equipment fee, plus the $240, plus extra monthly charges to cancel service pending on a variety of situations that were not listed.

So I thought, this all seemed like usual cell phone contract BS, I remember seeing similar in my Verizon and Sprint contracts. So I thought little of it.

The phones had to charge 24 hours before you activate them, so I plugged them in. This was Saturday. Today (Sunday) I called the Cingular number and they are not open on Sundays (which sucks), but they said we could activate phones via their website. So I surfed on over to Cingular's website. More crock-of-shitage. Since our numbers are portable numbers, they do not have them in their system, or perhaps they do not have them in their system yet, so the website wouldn't work. I went to the portability website on Cingular and entered my phone number and zip code. More failure. Now, my cell number has a prefix for the Twin Cities, but my zip code is Rochester, which I know could be an issue, BUT, they are all within Cingular's network, and Sprint gave me no problems when I changed my address to Rochester, since I was in the PCS area.

The local Cingular store is open today so I went to visit them. They told me since I went through the internet, and not them, they could not activate my phone from their store, we could use the phone to call Cingular, but Cingular does not have customer service on Sundays.



[SPAM] BlogSpam WTF??!?!!?

My SFMOMA posting had a comment that was spam. Won't those spamming motherfuckers leave us alone?


Or at least make it humorous so I can post it here and make fun of it.



Originally uploaded by Geist.X.
The SF vac series continues. This one was taken standing in the Yerba Buena Gardens looking at SF MOMA.

[Photo] Artistic Creek shot?

Artistic Creek shot?
Originally uploaded by Geist.X.
Another picture from SF. We took a trip up Hwy 1 to see the ocean, the big trees, and the beautiful country. We stopped at Stinson Beach, and waded in the Pacific (it was VERY cold, eventhough it was July). We then wandered up the coast more, eventually taking a side road that wound through deep forests and valleys. We stopped at a small spot and about 20 yards off the road was a small grove with a creek running through it. I took a picture of a place on the creek. It turned out well I feel.


[Photo] Decay at Alcatraz

Decay at Alcatraz
Originally uploaded by Geist.X.
Another picture I like from our digital album of the trip to SF.

Nerdwife asked me to take this shot as it is beautiful in its decay.

[Photo] Golden Gate Bridge in the Mist

Golden Gate Bridge in the Mist
Originally uploaded by Geist.X.
In July we took a trip to San Francisco. I will post a few pictures as I find ones I like from our digital album.

This is a superb picture I took of the Golden Gate bridge from a tour we took.

[Beware] Cleavage and FunYuns

I'm checking in with a blog as PSA here. I was recently dragooned into attending a concert by my erstwhile pal and workout partner. I'd never heard of said artiste, but he was at an allegedly fun bar and my weight-lifting friend raved about him...why not? Take note. I ignored several warning signs in the build-up to this evening:

  • I never really liked O'Gara's; they made too much of a little connection to Schultz
  • my Catholic gym buddy has on several previous occasions exhibited a propensity to be (enjoyably) shocked and embarrassed by apparently innocuous stimuli
  • aforementioned buddy cannot talk about previous concerts without giggling and blushing
  • the bad Charlie Daniels covers of the opener really should have sent me running

Nonetheless, there I was in a joint which has somehow evaded the St Paul smoking ban, paying my eight dollars (Eight! I pay only a little more than that to see real music!) and congratulating myself on being a good friend. I was surprised by the audience at first. We were (naturally) early, and surrounded by skanks in tanks (tops) and their leeringly insecure boyfriends. There was an equal number of pleathery-skinned couples in their 40's, or maybe 70's, it was hard to tell. Two voluminous hawaiian-shirted gentlemen I immediately pegged as D&Ders (cf. company I keep) seemed to be in charge. I was later informed they were roadies. And gamers. There were also two honest-to-god goth chicks, one of whom was picked up by the roadies after the third song.

Had this been the audience, I would have been happier about our crowd placement in the "dance area." Unfortunately, we were soon rushed by single, drunken 30-something men. My hopes this was a gay crowd were soon quashed.

At last, the main event. Pat McCurdy took the stage and immediately began singing..."Mama needs Funyuns" and calling for women to come up front. We were informed his favorite things were cleavage and funyuns, and things went downhill from there. As he proceeded with silly/obscence limerick-like songs, I struggled to keep from gaping in horror at the realization that I had paid this jackass eight bucks for being a dirty old man. The skanks were actually removing their clothing for him in exchange for free t-shirts or the opportunity to dance onstage. That's another thing: the dancing. I am a poor but enthusiastic dancer-yet I had to close my eyes to escape the dance carnage around me. Half the songs have actual motions (think macarena) and the other half evidently require some flailing. Two bright spots of the evening: first, the song dedicated to pissing off republicans had a lovely satirical ending lost on most of crowd; second, Pat blissfully stopped singing frequently to play clips of popular music. Although the music of the eighties promoted altogether too much excitement in the dance area for my taste, the sing-alongs to Abba were fun.

My ass sore from being grabbed, choking on cigarette smoke and squinting to see through the crowd, I happily escaped at half-time. Apparently the really funny songs were in the second half; I'll take my friend's word for it.