Monday, May 13, 2013

Black Holes

I love Google+, it is fantastic  for many reasons, let me give you one.

Right now I am having a discussion on Google+ on black holes and how exotic matter influences them. Now, I am certainly no expert on black holes, but the experts don't seem to mind holding my hand and helping me to understand.

Take THAT Facebook.


I get to work fairly early (6 a.m.), I  just wake up  early. I work all day and at  the end of the day I am frustrated. Not overly so, I think its a normal amount. I am frustrated at the  technical debt that my company is paying off, I am frustrated that sometimes I feel like I am adding to it, I am frustrated that we had a free company lunch on the day that the cafeteria had "cubano" sandwiches. Yeah, I missed out on a sandwich  with two  types of ham. TWO!

So when I get home, I want to relax, I  want to accomplish something, I want to contribute. So, like many developers I have a  pet project that I work on in my free time. The nature of the project we can discuss in a future post, but in short, I collect every bit of digital data about my life and I store it. Every. Bit. Its a fantastic challenge and oddly rewarding. I found some weird patterns in my life.

The past week I thought "I need a better, unified, mobile aware front end to my data."  God dammit. Now I  feel like I am going to work to relax. Javascript is horrible. It is Satan's tool to undermine all that is good. Ok, maybe not, but its also fairly weird. So its Objected Oriented right? Cool, so I get that, lemme just work out the syntax and any minor anomalies... Yeah. Go to hell. I cant even  discuss this, just read this:

I'm out.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Parris, we hardly knew ye...

Parris used to work with me, when he left, I sent this email mourning his imminent departure. This was several months ago, but somebody just reminded me of it, so  I thought that I would post it here. This is the unedited email that sent, typos and all.

As I am sure you are all painfully aware, Parris will be leaving the show at the end of this season; while this saddens us deeply at the network, we also see this as an opportunity to recast the role of "PaulC's sidekick" and possibly pick up a new demographic.

When we first brought Parris on, the network execs were  concerned that his tattoos and white trash comments might hurt the shows "house mom" demographic, knowing that PaulC had an exceptionally tight grip on women 35-55, they brought Parris on in hopes that he would play well with males 18-34. And man did he play well. 

The network wanted to terminate Parris after the third episode titled
"NNaaww, but that bug cost us $500,000"
but the advertisers convinced them to keep him on until the end of the first season. What nobody could have possibly predicted was that Parris would be such a huge hit in the GBLT community. His tattoos, heavy drinking, questionable recreational drug use and involvement in homeless Republican midget knife fighting gave him the "bad boy" moniker, while his left leaning politics, infatuation with Twilight, love of cats, and Smart Car, made him an instant hit with gay men. As you are surely aware, the internet forums are on fire with news and photos every time Parris goes to Provincetown with his "wife". A recent Gallop poll indicates that every Gay Latino on the planet (every. single. one.) wants to take Parris home to meet his parents; Parris is a macho, "man’s man", but knows how to treat a man. What father wouldn't be proud of his son for landing Parris?

So  if you, or someone that you know (but don't particularly respect) is interested, we are now making casting call appointments for PaulC's new sidekick (possibly henchman). Note that we are not necessarily trying to replace Parris's personality, but we would like to try to keep viewers that Parris brought to the show. 
Things to  think about:
* If you were going to Provincetown for a long weekend, and the hotel brochure said that this was "Bear weekend" and that the pool would turn into a "veritable Bear stew", would you cancel your reservations, or make sure that you have an extra battery for your camera?
* Do you even get the above reference?
* Is Bruce Jenner just "the dood from the Kardasians"?
* Is the absolute value of the sum of a series of numbers equal to the sum of the absolute values? 
* Do you think that its "ok" to make lewd comments about PaulC's 23 year old daughter?
* Regarding the above point, do you think that its "ok" for PaulC to meet you in the parking lot and kick the living shit out of you?
* If you lose a bet, do you do  the honorable thing and "take your medicine" or do you try to worm out  of it? (Just to be  clear, Parris never  tried to welsh on a bet.)
* Do you think that it’s funny to make bets that will, either directly or indirectly, make people do silly/absurd/possibly dangerous things? Examples include, but are not limited to: Take shots of random liquids at bars, sponsor a Wendy's $1 value meal menu challenge, make bets where the loser has to eat a 2 year old ham, bet that a person can’t eat 1/4 of three separate birthday cakes in 10 minutes, etc.  
* In the sidekick (or possibly "henchman") role, are you ok with the leading man making clear, undeniable commitments, and then blowing them off, repeatedly? 
* Do you have a REALLY creepy smile that you can flash at will?
* Do you consider Reddit a respectable news source that you read for hours every  day?
* Do you enjoy sending NSFW links to co-workers during business hours?
* Does putting habanero oil on the rim  of a  coworkers coffee cup make you giggle?
* Do you own a "mind molester"?
* Do you think that trying to game/troll the internet via bogus Yelp reviews, Reddit, etc, is fun?
* How are your banana handling skills?
* On "American Dad" one of Rogers alter egos is an 80 year old woman named "Abigail Lemonparty". Did that make you laugh?
* Do you have a tag line? (other than "I'll slap a ho", that was Parris's and we can’t re-use it for both legal and ethical reasons)
* How do you feel about swimming in tighty-whities?
* Do you think that torturing your workmates  by manipulating SVN to such a degree that it could actually  harm the company is "funny"?
* Really, how uncomfortable does this email make you?

Monday, April 29, 2013

That wolf better have papers.

In a twist reminiscent of the Twilight Zone, there is talk about taking gray wolves off of the endangered species list. Their numbers have grown such that there are enough to be a sustainable community. Good.
BUT,  the  MEXICAN Gray Wolf is still going to be endangered, and thus it will  still be a federal crime to shot one.

SO, check the papers on the next  gray wolf you shoot and only shoot those  mangy American Wolves, because the native Mexican Wolves are protected...

The Radicalization of America

Sorry for the long hiatus, but I'm back...
I understand that we have concerns about the "radicalization" of young Muslims. Is it a valid concern? I certainly think so. Its far too easy to fire people up and make them do crazy and violent things. And even if they don't do something crazy, just having radical people in the wild is not good for society. It creates discontent, unrealistic societal goals, and general stupidity. I mean, right? So why is it acceptable for Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, Alex Jones, and Fox News to preach radicalization and hatred? So if imams do it,its bad, but if Fox does it, its good?

I was talking to somebody a couple days after the Boston Bombing, and they said that we need to put tracking chips in Muslims that are granted citizenship.
Stop reading this; go get a glass of water and let that sink in.
So this guy is saying that we should put tracking chips in US citizens based on their ethnic background. We would have two levels of citizens, those that we trust, and those that we don't. The ones that we don't trust we put chips in to track them.
 3 speeding tickets? CHIP!
Download copyrighted material? CHIP!
Killed a hooker while drunk? We'll let that go, you're prolly a politician.
Destroy the entire US economy over greed and a new car? CH.., no wait, BONUS!

Ok, do they get Miranda rights? Can they vote? Can they own property? Where does it end? And that's not even the point, you want to treat U.S. Citizens like cattle? Hell no. You don't want them to be citizens, that's one thing, but once they are a citizen, they are given all the rights and privileges of that appointment. This isn't 1850, you don't get to strip people of their rights based on your bias and paranoia.

So these two Muslim kids bombed Boston, that is horrific and one of them paid the ultimate price while the other will certainly wish that he had died with his brother. But had you tracked them, what would be different today? Nothing. This is such a TSA response, focus in on the minute detail and get lost in it. "Dood put a bomb in his shoe? NO MORE SHOES!!!" Xenu.

How would chipping Muslim Americans stop Tim McVeigh? Yeah, remember him? American born and bred. How would chipping Muslim Americans stop Arab Muslims from bombing Americans over seas? It would probably make it worse. "We want to you stop hating us, and to that end we are going to treat ALL of you like shit and hope for the best."

You want Muslims to stop hating us? Here's a thought, and I'm going to pull this right from the religious book that these American's use to radicalize people: "do unto others as you would them do unto you" Yeah. Think about it: don't shit on people; treat them with respect. Hey, a Muslim kid blew up the Marathon. When the Muslim community hangs their head in sorrow, don't scream at them, don't accuse them, give em a big hug. Let them know that you don't hold THEM responsible, help them stop the radicalization.

When I travel overseas the thought of people holding me accountable for everything that the US has done just scares the shit out of me.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Rebecca Black, best video ever

There, I said it.
I think that the Rebecca Black music video "Friday" is one of the top 10 Music videos of all time. Yes, I don't like it personally. I am 45 years old and I don't give a shit WHICH seat you choose while "kickin it" and the fact that you wake up with makeup on both scares and annoys me. BUT, I am not in 8th grade. Also, learn to sing in tune so that you don't need that dam auto-tuner that makes you sound like a robot. Yeah, I can't sing either, thats why I don't have a music video.

This is a music video by an 8th grader about her weekend. For the love of Xenu, let her have her innocence. She isn't worried about the economy, or the (false) threat of terrorists, or about her weight, or her kids, or her retirement, or, or, or. She is singing about what goes on in her (clearly privileged) life. Is that SO offensive? She loves Justin Bieber (that no talent little puke) she likes makeup and probably watches iCarly on Nickelodeon (but who doesn't? amiright?)

What is SO offensive about her innocence? Yes, its totally unrealistic, she will go grow up someday and realize that, but does it really hurt to let her be a teenager? Why so much hate? I don't get it.

Anyway, her video has 100+ million views, prolly just jealousy.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Why I’ll never buy motorola

Read this article about the latest generation of Android handsets from Motorola and why they are so hard (maybe impossible) to hack.

OK, THATS why I wont buy motorola headsets anymore. Moto is saying that if I purchase their phone that I can not then subsequently upgrade, modify or otherwise play with my phone. So you SOLD me a phone for $500, and I cant play with it? Ok, I only paid $200 cash and the rest is on my two year Verizon contract, but still, I AM paying for it. And about that two year contract…

I bought my Motorola Droid (which DOES take custom kernels) the first month it came out. I got it on a two year contract. One year later Motorola has end of lifed the phone and I can longer get support, maintenance or upgrades. Uhh, hello? You sold a phone on a two year contract and EOL’d it after one year? Ok, that’s not cool, but at least I know how you roll and I can act accordingly.

Enter the next generation Androids from Moto. So you buy one today on a two year contract, and in 12 months Moto stops support, THATS when Google comes out with Android 3.1 and it fixes some big bugs and has some great features. Tough. You can’t install unauthorized kernels so you don’t get the upgrade. You can only install OS upgrades (kernels) that come from Moto, and they EOL’d your handset.

Yeah, THATS why no more Moto for PaulC.

Its like buying a new Ford truck and saying “Hey, nice engine, but I want to put a Cummins in it.” and Ford saying “No, you spent $40k on that truck, but we say you can’t replace the engine.” I get that you can’t do that on a lease, but I am talking about a purchase. Or even closer to home, you buy a Dell and 12 months later Microsoft comes out with a security patch and you can’t install it because Dell has EOL’d your computer.

See this is why you don’t want your hardware manufacturer (Motorola) supplying your operating system (Google). Imagine if Motorola said “you can only install applications that we approve”. And really that's not such a stretch, I mean that's what they are saying with the signed kernel. Yeah, then you would have Apple.

At first I thought “this MUST be a Verizon thing.” But if that were the case, why doesn’t Verizon require Samsung, HTC, and others to use a signed kernel? Nope, this is all Motorola.

The Droid X has been rooted…

Reading that headline you might be thinking “Great PaulC, welcome to 2 weeks ago.” BUT, lemme ‘splain.

The new Droids have a new feature called “efuse” that is built into the CPU. Efuse is used to confirm that the kernel on the phone is valid, if its invalid the phone can be bricked. NOW, Motorola DOES use efuse for its latest Android handsets BUT they don’t use the brick feature, they just boot into safe mode. That means that if you install an unauthorized kernel, the phone won’t boot until you replace it with an authorized one.

As you can imagine the interwebs are all a twitter over this, and many pundits have opened up cans of false bravado by the case and said “Ahh, but this is just another small issue that our brave hackers will over come in our fight against tyranny!” And now that the new handsets have been rooted they point and say “SEE! We have overcome!”

Not so fast dingus malingus.

Yes, the new Android handsets from Motorola have been rooted, and that is AWESOME. It took hard work, intelligence, perseverance and a probably a fair amount of caffeine. Now users can install root applications on their phones. Want to wirelessly tether your laptop to your phone? Root your handset and install the software. Done. Right? hmmm…

The problem is that rooting does NOT let you install new kernels, efuse has NOT been defeated, just sidestepped. So if you want to install tethering and get rid of that horrid moto-blur crap and change the font, you can. BUT, if you want to install a new kernel, then you are screwed.

It has been said that efuse uses an encrypted boot loader. That means that motorola uses the private key at the factory to generate a fingerprint  for the kernel, and the CPU in your handset uses a public key to verify the fingerprint. Read that again. Yeah, your fucked.

Does that  mean that efuse will NEVER be defeated? Nope, but it means that we are still a long way off.

Read this article to find out why you care.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

New Google voice features

now that Google is finally integrating the integration of the VOIP provider that they purchased, we can now get some of that voice over IP love in Google voice that we have been craving.

The "call phone" button just showed up in my GMail today, so thats cool, I can call people from within GMail. yeah, I guess thats cool, I have a microphone and a headset, so why not. BUT, when I go to google voice and look at my settings, I now have the option to route inbound calls to GMail. So when you call my cell phone number, it will ring at my desk, my cellphone, my house, and now on my computer in GMail all at the same time.
Shhhhhh, do you hear angels singing?

Add to that the fact that Google opened up Google Voice to the (North American) public recently, and of course the tight integration of Android and Google Voice, and you have a nice little communications subsystem at your disposal.

How cool?
WAY cool.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Bruce Schneier on security

Bruce Schneier’s blog “Schneier on Security” covers everything from cryptography to terrorism and in this day and age I would call it a “must read” for every American. Period.

He’s pretty level headed and many of his posts talk about how the government uses “movie-plot threats” to keep people afraid and to appear as if they are doing something useful.

Anyway, he has a new article on CNN that I would consider required reading, so read it. :D Here’s one of the many money quotes:

“But even as we do all of this we cannot neglect the feeling of security, because it's how we collectively overcome the psychological damage that terrorism causes. It's not security theater we need, it's direct appeals to our feelings. The best way to help people feel secure is by acting secure around them. Instead of reacting to terrorism with fear, we -- and our leaders -- need to react with indomitability, the kind of strength shown by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill during World War II.

By not overreacting, by not responding to movie-plot threats, and by not becoming defensive, we demonstrate the resilience of our society, in our laws, our culture, our freedoms. There is a difference between indomitability and arrogant "bring 'em on" rhetoric. There's a difference between accepting the inherent risk that comes with a free and open society, and hyping the threats.

We should treat terrorists like common criminals and give them all the benefits of true and open justice -- not merely because it demonstrates our indomitability, but because it makes us all safer.

Once a society starts circumventing its own laws, the risks to its future stability are much greater than terrorism.”

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