Undead Blog
ex·an·i·mate | no longer living, post-life
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Sat, 2018 Sep 29

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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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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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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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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Tamales

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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REUNDISCOMBOBULATE!!!

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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VIMpires have a weakness

Blood Orange cider. Seriously, I love this stuff.

Still pondering tag closing modules for vim...

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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