philosophy as expressed in an MP3 player

Wed 10 May 2017

I have a Sansa Clip+. It’s an MP3 player. Remember those?

Physically, it is about the size of a matchbox. Not the tiny model cars, which were always too big for their namesakes, but the actual give-away advertising matchboxes, made of sturdy cardboard with a friction strip on one …

unix philosophy

Tue 04 April 2017

The essence of the UNIX philosophy is not “make small utilities that can be fitted together with pipes” but to assume that at any moment, a user might decide to be a developer or a sysadmin and should have the tools to do that.

The problems of UNIX generally come …

a 2 line bash prompt

Sun 02 April 2017

Back in the DOS era of personal computing, the default prompt was the letter name of the current drive, followed by a colon and a >. So A:> or C:> if you were wealthy enough to afford a hard disk. DOS really had only one shell for a great many years …

nobody wants backups

Mon 13 March 2017

Nobody wants backups. Everybody wants restores.

The questions are:

  • what sort of disaster are you trying to recover from

  • how often do you expect each to happen

  • how much time are you willing to take recovering

  • how much are you willing to spend

Let’s take a few common scenarios …

still not interested in cybercoders

Thu 09 March 2017

You might recall way back when I wrote not interested in cybercoders. That was not quite a year ago.

It appears that cybercoders hasn’t got the message, though. When it became clear to me that three of their recruiters were all going to try spamming me at once, I …

tracing calls

Tue 28 February 2017

Nobody likes you when you’re 23 / And are still more amused by prank phone calls / What the hell is caller ID?

  • from Blink-182, “What’s My Age Again?”, 1992

You probably already know that Caller ID is useful, and that it can be faked. If you want to know …

I recommend Google Fi

Fri 24 February 2017

This completes a year of using Google Fi for cell service. Fi is a meta-provider which uses both Sprint and T-Mobile for underlying cell service. The downside is that you must buy a phone from Google, and there are only 3 options. They are very nice options, though, if you …

pandoc for the win

Sat 18 February 2017

If you are faced with any sort of text formatting conversion problem, you should probably start with pandoc to solve it.

Suppose you have a portion of a website that you would like to turn into an ebook.

  1. Use wget -nc -nd -v -r -l1 $URL to retrieve it. -r …

slapping at gnats

Sun 22 January 2017

Attackers change their behavior, so we have to change in response.

Way back in the olden days, someone with evil intent would ping your IP address to make sure it was up, run nmap to figure out which of four or five exploitable services were available, and then pound their …

revisiting a new firewall

Fri 13 January 2017

A few years ago I wrote about my new firewall. Let’s look at what I’ve learned since then.

First, you should know that I’m very pleased with the firewall. It continues to function smoothly. Debian upgraded from 7 to 8 without a hitch. I added a few …

modern cpus

Fri 16 December 2016

The fate of a modern desktop CPU is to sleep for hours on end, up until the point that it is called to leap into action for a few seconds. Later, it will be pushed to the limits of thermal overload for quite a few minutes or hours, along with …

Nintendo’s contactless brushpass and dead drops

Wed 30 November 2016

Nintendo’s 3DS pocket-sized game system includes “Streetpass”, a method of sharing your high scores, Mii avatars and other game information with random strangers who also have 3DS systems. That includes the levels designed by Super Mario Maker, which are a few megabytes apiece.

The swap happens anonymously and automatically …

IOT security: the key and the castle

Tue 22 November 2016

People just don’t take security seriously, because security is hard to understand and hard to implement and hard to maintain. We need a new way of “doing” security, and I’ve got an idea. Let’s go back to the notion of skeuomorphism: we use pictorial representations of real-world …

how to name your software product

Tue 22 November 2016

  1. Look up unrelated technology names from 10+ years ago. Make a list.
  2. Sort the list by an arbitrary criterion.
  3. Pick the name third from the top.

Alternate method

  1. Make a list of common English words that are 6 or fewer letters long.
  2. Google each of those words. Make a note …


Wed 09 November 2016

Why I am not moving to Canada (although I quite like Canada and many Canadians):

because the people of my country need me to help defend them. And I am not much of a hero, but I will try.

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