Undead Blog
ex·an·i·mate | no longer living, post-life
Sat, 2019 May 11

Behind a glass wall, watching people

Out being in the middle of a crowd. The local monthly art festival in my city is underway. I haven't been to one in about six years, mostly because I went to most of them for about four years prior, and there is only so much art I can absorb watching.

My daughter is out exhibiting today, her first show. She is part of a show based in the local downtown Methodist church. As far as church people go, they are some of the most accepting I've run into in some time. My leather clad cat-eared 15 year old is right at home, selling her furries art between the landscape watercolors and the horse and country paintings. I really couldn't be happier for her, even if she doesn't sell anything. She is taking and owning her own life on her terms. I'm really proud of her.

I've been watching the art watchers stroll by. Everyone has their idea of whether they should be dressed up or casual. Some people have wild hair, and given the crowd, it is hard to tell whether it is for the day or a daily wear thing. Sitting in the corner of this cafe, I'm surrounded by blackout glass on a busy downtown corner. Plenty to watch in every direction, and nobody can see me watching them. Generally, when I look at people I stare at them, intensely. I tend to forget about this, and it makes others uncomfortable. So, the cafe is perfect.

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Sat, 2019 Apr 20

Took a blogging break, break over?

I was considering writing this in mdoc format, but mucking about with mdoc html exporting, and then fixing whatever I needed for bloxsom just wasn't going to fit in my self-imposed time constraints for today.

I also considered making this blog more technical. You know, things I'm doing and things I've figured out. That has been done before. Mostly, this blog is supposed to be about things that are not technical, because I have my own internal wiki of my own prior mistakes, thank you very much ;)

Mastadon has provided me some distraction and social interaction at a distance. I'm still not very interested in spending a lot of time around people. I can be more myself when I'm typing things out than when I'm sitting in a crowd of folks. See my last post as to why.

I'm done with my audio conversion scripting. I learned a lot from the process, first of which was "Don't try this at home if they don't use UTF-8". most of my problems weren't from how cdio does its job. It is from the very inconsistent naming requirements and lack of formatting delimiters for various audio descriptor fields. Unfortunately, one of the biggest kids on the block, MusicBrainz, doesn't do anything UTF for their formatting; instead, they just put in a question mark for every character field they don't recognize. Summing it all up, it just wasn't a yak I wanted to shave.

So, how am I feeling today? Or recently? Better. My current project is finally winding down. I can move on from that, which feels good. I feel marginally satisfied with the few minor fixes I've been making to my computers, blogging tool, etc. I've also been working out, and have lost some weight. It was also nice to take a trip last week, and experience the ocean breeze and see some different countryside. So, overall, I'm feeling pretty good.

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Fri, 2018 Dec 28

Everything Stopped Being Fun

I don't know when everything stopped being fun. Slowly, as life has gone on, fun became replaced with projects, deadlines, goals. When one was done, another was waiting to take its place. And I've grown so accustomed to my life being dominated by projects, deadlines, and goals that I stopped enjoying the right now. So much so, in fact, that when I became aware of my own lack of happiness, somewhere past that wall of numbness, I knew that I needed help to work past my current dilemma.

The man I'm discussing my dilemma with says I should focus on process instead of project. Projects are always future based, and process is focusing on what you are doing now. In my profession, everything is project based. So little of it has any focus on process, and as far as many of my colleagues are concerned, it is minutiae that gets in the way of things getting done. I've been trying to focus on the process of the now, but it is difficult. I had to bribe myself to even write about this topic because I have locked the now far away inside myself. Someone who lives in the now would not put up with the kind of demands made by my bosses. Someone like myself, who lives in the now, wouldn't put up with the sacrifices he makes to be with his family.

Emotionally, I'm also hamstrung by being a largish man. I can't get angry, or cry, or show how frustrated I really am. I have to bury that, or people start freaking out and otherwise are afraid of me. Someone else showing the same emotions might get some concern or help. I just get people quivering and telling each other how they are scared of me. So I need to do everything in measured motions and with a smile on my face. Flip side of that is that I can't really show people when I'm happy, or pleased, or other positive emotions because, well, emotions are emotions, none are really good or bad, and if I can't show what people have a hard time with, I can't share the ones they want to see. In my current profession, a lot of time is spent being frustrated, and having conflicting demands coming in from multiple angles because nobody understands what you are doing- which is tough, because I don't know what I am doing half the time, I just get paid to figure something out that makes everyone else happy with the result. There is a comedy sketch called "The Expert". I recommend it because it resembles most of my meetings and expectations of many others I currently deal with.

So, I am here, right now, just typing. Trying to find a way back or forward to a right now where I am comfortable being, and comfortable with my personal choices. This isn't easy.

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Sun, 2018 Nov 11

Can't think of anything to write

So, I guess I will write this.


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Sun, 2018 Oct 14

Changes in plans aren't really changes

I never expect plans to go as expected. My view on plans is that they are a great way to shake out what isn't going to happen as anticipated. Obviously, I'm not living in the EU. More obviously, I'm probably not going there any time soon. Planning for a big move like that, and anticipating possible outcomes meant everybody in my life had to put their own desires and needs out there. This led to lots of good things happening, but moving isn't one of them. At least, not until June.

As things go, my kid is getting A's and B's in her new school. The grades are a new improvement, and since we all know the kid is only going to this school for this year, we can all safely put our plans on hold. With regard to my spouse, she has found stability with her needs, and that has been a load off my mind. For myself, I've found that "work remote" is a real possibility for me, so the plan is now to take a work remote job, and then move someplace more affordable once the school year is over. The upsides for me with remote work are that I have opportunities for better paying contrats in the future, I am no longer tied to a specific locality for my day to day living, and maybe the next gig will have less involvement in management decisions

However, as things go, we can still make different choices on different days, and still find ourselves wherever life was going to take us, give or take a little pushing and pulling here and there. Life is what happens when you are making plans, and the first casualty when life moves on is usually the plan.

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Sat, 2018 Oct 06

Yeah, I don't feel like writing today

So, ths is me not writing very much. Have a nice day.

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Sat, 2018 Sep 29

Life has a way of changing your plans

I got my resumes together. I planned, and saved my money. In the end, it looks like we will be where we are for a year.

While I could be upset about the sudden change in plans, I figure it is for the best. There are positives to staying on for a few more months, and before the end of the year we should have our passports so someplace like Munich or Amsterdam would now also be a possibility.

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First major batch is out

...and I'm not talking cookies.

I had this epiphany that I really like working in startups. That is where I was happiest, so I'm putting my resume out again specifically looking for that in NYC. Let's see what happens.

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Skill comes from practice

I remember my first Judo competition. I came in after a few weeks on the mat, and after a few faltering steps was repeatedly slammed, thrown, and ground into the competition hall floor. Had I prepared? Yes. A few weeks, with a coach who was good at fitness conditioning. I was hardly winded at the end of the competition, but lost every match. Within the context of my training, I had been guided to becoming fit, but not better at finessing the allowed moves for my level of competition.

So, when I read an article that directly connects the success of Russian hackers to the rise of Putin, I kind of chuckle inside. I've known people who came from Russia to work in the Silicon Valley. They were very good at some things, and quite unorthodox at others. This came from two things they had in their post glaznost economy- absolute freedom to act, and limited resources to act with. I will contrast this with the very sheltered environment that the US Internet has become, where there are plenty of resources, but you can go to prison for longer than someone would for murder if you even consider misusing any one of them.

Russians are better at hacking because they can hack. They can rip, torrent, download, copy, repurpose and whatever else they want to do. They can do it with almost no repercussions. USians, on the other hand, will be convicted of a 2-5 year term, per command, with the conditions of release that they will be an informant to the US government for, well, life. So, if I did the following on someone else's computer:

  • # cd /
  • # rm -rf *
  • # mail -s "owned u" root@some.computer.com

I would go to pound your ass prison for up to 15 years, and have to sign a release making me a snitch if I wanted out for good behavior. Given what could happen to anyone who even remotely appears to be doing something "unsavory", there is absolutely no incentive for anyone to develop really good skills at bypassing controls, probing or penetrating boxes, performing real world stack smashing, or anything else remotely fun. Yeah, people can and do all of this in their homelabs, but that is not the same as trying this out on unfamiliar systems which would have completely different management and monitoring systems.

As a follow on, I would say there is no such thing as "Cyberwarfare". There are people who want to make a lot of money on the idea that Americans need to be "tough" on $insert_bogeyman_here. If they can successfully demonize hacking so that it becomes an act of war, then defense contractors can falsely equivocate theft of data with anything that could be considered an "act of war". This is a dangerous outlook that can lead to severe repercussions down the road, and has already led to some in the short term.

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Brain is not braining, need brains

So I've been sitting here for an hour, with time to burn. I had all of these ideas when I sat down, and I was feeling very motivated. Now I have no idea why I'm sitting here.

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My Future Life as a Crab Bot

I just tweeted about this, but seriously, if I could have my brain cloned into a big crab bot, I'd be pleased as punch. Actually, several crab bots. In fact, if I had several billion dollars, I would hire a bunch of people to create crab bots and work on brain and memory/personality cloning.

Of course, this would have to be in secret. I would market myself(ves) as a high end industrial robotics service, to manage critical infrastructure in dangerous environments. This way, I could launch myself into space with the rest of humanity, whenever we get around to it. As far as missing that mark, well, nobody would suspect the robot janitor of helping out in the background.

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I like tamales. I even like storebought tamales.

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Non-trivial aspects of location masking

zzzz... Oh, let's not say that again.

What I meant is that Congress decided that everyone's personal browsing history is up for sale and scrutiny.

For people like me, well, I can hide behind a proxy which feeds all of my data through an encrypted tunnel. Except that these days, that doesn't hide as much as it used to. I mean, my direct ISP will not be selling my personal data, but they will sell where my tunnel goes to. THAT ISP can then also sell my data. So much for privacy.

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This is another blog post

I stopped blogging, daily life and politics became too close. There isn't much any one person can do about politics, and multiple people making political decisions always devolves to the lowest common denominator. I just don't need that level of stupid in my life.

Since I now have my new "mobile lab", aka my nifty refurbed OpenBSD laptop, I have only opened the MacBook up to pull data off of it or to sync my iPhone. So, as a desktop for me, OpenBSD works nicely. Next order of business is to set up the "permanent lab", a little black box in a cubby. This is where all the magic gets to happen. Magic, meaning full backups of all the things.

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Busy Weekend

My wife ran a 10k, and my kid just finished her first acting workshop.

I slept most of the afternoon. We all have our little successes.

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Hey, you are not in char...

The best thing about switching back to OpenBSD has been having apps that do what they are told, and when they are told to do it. The worst offender in this regard used to be Windows, but I'm now convinced that Apple is now takes that leadership role. Your music app wants your attention, so it interferes with your ongoing writing session to literally pull your focus over to it. Same with updates. Same with just about anything else that seems to possibly pull in a monetary stream for Apple.

I already have my next laptop specced out. Once the next version of OpenBSD is released, I'm going to bootcamp my Macbook pro until I can afford the next one. As of this week, I don't need to use my Apple OS any more

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Countdown starts! 5, 4, 3.14, 2, ...

The last item I needed to start my countdown timer has been acquired! I can kick off Project 4501 in a couple of days!

Time to celebrate, with cider and PIe.

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Paperwork, but not origami

I really would like a little origami knight to gut my paperwork for me. Or write things for me, but that would probably look like a resume written by Don Quixote.

After finding out it would take either a) a Kafka-esque effort to speed up my passport apps, or b) six months to get a passport the slow way, I chose c) forget about the passport until after I move. This puts a hard limit in my plans to travel the world via work, but at least I should be in NYC in a few weeks or months depending upon the job market.

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Daleks. They are like really dangerous kobolds made up by the BBC.

While this is going through my head, I am running a full restore of my girl's tablet. And the results are...

disappointing, but expected. Tablet now on palliative care.

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English is the hardest language to learn, & math is a language

Except people keep teaching math procedurally, instead of as an expressive form of communication. If people taught English like they teach math, we would all be functionally illiterate, and having to refer to guidebooks in order to read most of our friends' tweets.

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Keeping the Keel Even

This is a post. This is only a post. If this was more than a post, it would not be a post.

I have this itching feeling. I don't know where in my head it itches, and I'm still trying to figure out what it may be.

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VIMpires have a weakness

Blood Orange cider. Seriously, I love this stuff.

Still pondering tag closing modules for vim...

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How I met your mother

"We met at a party, made kissyface, went home together, and continued our relationship from there."
-- talking with my daughter about relationships, age 12

In other asides, I took a day off to get my paperwork together at home. Paperwork found, collected, and soon to be scanned. Next is looking for a new employer at least 4500km away from where I sit today.

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Applied Mathematics with Kobolds

My daughter has been ignoring her math work, and I had the re-realization that nearly all paper and dice games are just applied mathematics in story form. Thankfully, there is Pathfinder and their fan driven wiki. Download all the sheets!

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Obligatory Post

Functional paragraph.

Oh, and my daughter thinks I'm awesome because I can make a printer do a thing.

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Purple Goop Smells Purple

Installed vimwiki today. This should help with my note taking and some of my campaign worldbuilding (not related).

The title says it all. My daughter smells like she washed with purple drank, and her hair now sticks up.

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I did nothing, I did a lot

I did nothing. I wanted to find my id paperwork, it is still hidden somewhere in the apartment. I wanted to finish organizing my closet, but only ironed half my clothes. I was going to set up git and some basic html templates for my blog. I wanted to finish a flowchart of the byzantine outage process at work, that didn't get done.

I did a lot. Most of my clothes were ironed. I have what I need for my presentation in the morning. I got a lot of paper sorting done. I purged a lot of old clothes and worn out shoes. I found I didn't need the flowchart because other people were adulting very well, and I finished documenting an SSL CA store. I wrote a thing.

I'm having a hard time accepting that second paragraph. I really should.

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New Blog, New URL

I gave up blogging some time ago. Too much emphasis on visibility and networking with others. I didn't like that, and I didn't like the visibility of it. On the other hand, it is nice to have a place that you can put more than 255 characters, and there are times when posting items publicly is still useful.

This new blog is using blosxom, which isn't a bad microblogging tool. It runs on Perl via cgi-bin. As long as you understand enough html to be dangerous, it is usable. My purpose is to run this blog via git in order to maintain skills.

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Git init, git commit, git clone, git push, git boom

Seriously, did anyone ever really think that someone starting to use git wouldn't put their important files somewhere, add them to the repo, copy them to another location to work on, and then send them back as needed?

I'll get better at this. From an ease of use perspective, I'd rather be using Mercurial or Fossil, but learning git seems important as other tools I use, like ansible, prefer git over anything else.

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Coding for fun and, um, well...

Still practicing my html skills. I considered letting vimwiki handle all of this, but that was too much yak for me to shave in a day. At least I'm sticking with my 1hour/1day/1week rule. That is:

  • 1 hour to evaluate something new
  • 1 day to mess around with the new
  • 1 week to make progress working on something new
  • Mothball anything that doesn't do this, or change how I do it
  • The Survivors

    So far, there have been some survivors in all of this. I'm now working on relearning my PERL5 by making some small support scripts for OpenBSD's cdio. I have a first version of tiny scripts that do the following:

  • atdn- Artist/Title Directory Namer. Outputs a name for a directory or .m3u file.
  • cdtn- CD Title Namer. Renames "track[nn].wav" to "[nn]-title of track.wav".
  • flaca- A Skinny Flac Tagger. Writes minimal tags to a flac/ogg file, and embeds album art.
  • cdnom- Audio CD Attach Script for Hotplugd. Autodetects audio cd files, runs a script if new audio.
  • I would have used native OpenBSD files for .wav and .au, but I haven't been able to find a decent tagger for .wav files, and .au files aren't supported on most of my listening devices. For everything else, I've tried just about every tool out there, and none of them directly meet my requirements, or they require me to add a whole lot of dependencies and still don't do what I want. Most are designed on and only for linux, and only work because of significant porting efforts- I just don't feel like contributing to projects with that focus when I run OpenBSD.

    I'll post preliminary releases on my GitHub account when I feel I've gotten enough done.

    The Stories

    More survivors are my stories. I keep many of my homedir files in a directory with the current year. Every new year, I create a new directory for the year, and migrate all of the files I want to keep working on into it. Everything else that I don't delete goes into an archive directory and, well, gets archived on a schedule. Most of my story directories were at least touched in the last year and this one, so I'm sticking with it and adding more files. Eventually I will also be editing them together, and some novels should be the result. This is more long term than anything else- my day job pays for everything and then some. I still need to find a permanent place to settle down, pay for that, and then decide how to scale back my tech hours in favor of more time writing.

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