Monday, December 21, 2009

thirty days: day 25

Day 25 → Your day, in great detail

sigh. really?

well...i passed out last night around 12:45, after lots of IRC goodness. i was hoping to get up at an early hour as a result of going to bed earlier than i had in months, but that failed miserably--i didn't wake up until 11:45 this morning. oopsies.

i spent about an hour and a half being cobwebby, half-asleep, and procrastinating. that means i spent the time sitting on my bed, talking on IRC and contemplating a shower. then, i finally took a shower, put on those much-maligned things we call pants, and heading to ps:one. i spent the afternoon at ps:one working on my trivia game proposal for notacon and having random chats with my friend nathan, who was painting the space's TARDIS while i was working on the trivia proposal.

i got the trivia proposal almost done by the time i had to leave for monday night pub trivia. i got to Chief O'Neill's, and had dinner and a white russian. (and then, a few more white russians, since the special round tonight was the big lebowski...) again, trivia went nicely. again, i really hope people didn't hold it too badly against us that we are the kinds of trivia masters that integrate trivia with relentlessly making fun of each other in front of everyone--seriously, if you've never been to our trivia night, i encourage you to come visit and relentlessly make fun of us for absolutely anything!!!

then, after trivia, i got home. home means time to chat on IRC and go to bed. goodnight. :)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

thirty days: day 24

Day 24 → Whatever tickles your fancy

"the company won't colour me" by colour of fire has been my crack lately. i've been listening to it over and over and over again. now, it can be your crack too. :)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

thirty days: day 23

Day 23 → A YouTube video

...because cats in things they're not supposed to be are, in fact, amazing.

Friday, December 18, 2009

thirty days: days 20 and 21

i got behind again yesterday. sure, i spent a bunch of time on a computer, but most of it was on computers that are probably as old or older than most of the people who read this...namely, my Commodores.

Day 21 → A recipe
i used to love to cook, but then outgrew it. when i was a kid, it was something special...i would spend hours reading the Joy of Cooking, and pick out recipes to make on special days. now, it's something that's at best boring, and at worst that i just don't have time to deal with, since there is so much other stuff i want or need to do. however, spinach gnocchi are really nomzy, and i should really get the ingredients and make some.

Day 22 → A website
Computer Stupidities is the funniest site on the internet. i stumbled across it many years ago, and have read through its stories over and over again. it's exactly what it sounds like--vignettes of really dumb things that people have said about computers. but, what can i say? i love stupid people stories, and these are the creme-de-la-creme of stupid people stories.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

thirty days: days 15-20

thanks to my little jaunt to NYC for neighborcon last weekend, and the associated recovery, i've gotten way-too-many days behind on the thirty-days meme i'm doing. so...time to play a little bit of catch-up. :)


Day 15 → A fanfic
this is one that really doesn't fit me at all. i don't read fanfic. i don't write fanfic. i don't have anything to do with the world of fanfic. seriously, i think the closest thing to fanfic that i've ever created was a backstory that i started writing in high school [or possibly early college] about my imagined backstory for the song "hey jealousy" by the gin blossoms. i don't have it anymore, though, so you're out of luck.

Day 16 → A song that makes you cry (or nearly)
i have quite a few songs that make me cry, but "tonight is the night i fell asleep at the wheel" by the barenaked ladies probably has the strongest effect on me at this point in my life. it's a really, really sad song about someone who either commits suicide or just so happened to crash his car when his life was at a low point...and the lyrics paint a picture that can't help but suck me into the story.

Day 17 → An art piece (painting, drawing, sculpture, etc.)
webcomics involve drawing, right? <3 i love toothpaste for dinner, and this comic is especially genius.

Day 18 → Whatever tickles your fancy
a silly poem:
Fenton Phlantz
by Jack Prelutzky

Fenton Phlantz is fairly weird.
He puts peanuts in his beard.
Elephants are often found
Following Fenton Phlantz around.

Day 19 → A talent of yours
singing. i've been singing since i was a little kid, and i love it. i've been in various choirs since i was nine years old, been in the occasional play or skit, and even took some voice lessons in law school. a lot of people have seen me sing karaoke...although not as many have seen me sing anything of a more classical nature. i really like karaoke, and there are some songs i've found that i can sing fairly well--but really, my voice is far more suited to more classical singing, and that's my favourite kind to do.

Day 20 → A hobby of yours
writing twitter bots. i've written quite a few so far, although the best one i've done to date is most definitely @rogue_bot. i started messing around with the twitter API a little over a year ago, when i wrote a twitter client in bash scripting language, and then moved on to playing with the python-twitter library and started to write bots. it's really fun. i can't say i've finished anything that useful yet (although i'm currently working on a CTA Bus Tracker twitter bot, which will allow people to query it and get bus tracker preditions via twitter--useful for those without a smartphone!), but they're fun to make and they allow me to practice my programming skills.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

thirty days: day 14

Day 14 → A non-fictional book

this is tough. i don't read a lot of fiction...most of what i read is nonfiction. and, to just pick one? so hard.

but, there is a book i've been going back to so much this year.

it's basically a tour through many of the major security assessment programs, tools, and techniques. when i got it almost a year ago, i could hardly follow many things in there...but the more i learn about computers, the more fun i'm having reading through it and making sense of the examples in it.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

thirty days: day 13

Day 13 → A fictional book

a fictional book? like, a book that doesn't actually exist? or, a book chronicling something that didn't actually happen?

either way, i'll cover both bases with this one:

no, i'm not cheating. Glove Pond is not an actual book--it's a book within a book. The Gum Thief is one of my favourite books by Douglas Coupland. contained within the novel is another book called Glove Pond, which was written by Roger Thorpe--a character in The Gum Thief. Glove Pond is a Fitzgeraldesque yet deliberately ridiculous tale of woe...whereas The Gum Thief is a more modern story of futility, with a dash of hope.

either way, my ability to describe the awesomeness of Douglas Coupland's writing pales in comparison to his actual writing. you should read this book--and if you're in Chicago, i'll gladly lend it to you.

Monday, December 07, 2009

thirty days: days 9, 10, 11, and 12.

thanks to my awesome little trip to detroit this weekend (you guys rock, i3Detroit!) and the associated recovery, i'm a few days behind in the thirty days meme. time to catch up!

Day 09 → A photo you took
i love this picture. it's of Matt Hoffman, lead singer of Shooting Blanks. i took it at their show at the Mutiny, back on November 24, 2007. he rocks out in this pic, as does his shiny, shiny guitar.

Day 10 → A photo of you taken over ten years ago
i don't even know for sure when this picture was taken, but from the looks of things, i'd guess that it was taken in 1988 or so. that would have made me five, maybe six. i'm the second from the left--and the others in the picture are my three siblings.

Day 11 → A photo of you taken recently
this would technically also qualify as one i took of myself, but it's a recent picture of me--less than a month old. i really love's my favourite picture of myself in a very long while.

Day 12 → Whatever tickles your fancy
"full colour guilt" by boysetsfire...just because it suits my mood right now.

Friday, December 04, 2009

thirty days: day 8

Day 08 → A photo that makes you angry/sad

it goes without saying how much it pisses me off that people think being queer is a sin, or that there is some kind of retribution from on high for not being straight.

but, what pisses me off even more than that is when adults force those ideas on their children, and enlist their children to protest. this holds for the whole "god hates fags" thing, the abortion clinic protests, and anything else. indoctrinating children to hate is just one of the worst things a parent can do. five will get you ten that none of these kids who are forced to do these protests are being exposed to any real range of ideas, political beliefs, or religious beliefs.

if adults want to harbour these awful beliefs, there's not a whole lot i can do to stop them. but, children? they should be raised in an environment where they can critically assess worldviews and decide for themselves as they grow--not forced to parrot their parents' hate in public.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

thirty days: day 7

Day 07 → A photo that makes you happy

you all knew this was coming.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

thirty days: day 6

Day 06 → Whatever tickles your fancy

usually mellow indie-rock-type-stuff isn't my thing, but there's something about "final broadcast" by statistics that really does it for me. i like the singer's voice, i like the melody, and the lyrics capture something i've been feeling a lot lately.

speaking of tickling my fancy, i first heard this song on radio.wazee. that station always tickles my's as if the person who chooses the music for it has a direct route into my head, and finds all kinds of obscure music that is right up my alley.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

thirty days: day 5

Day 05 → Your favourite quote

"you have to think yourself worth saving before you get angry at someone who wishes to kill you."
--I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe

it's not something i like to think about, but it's true. what's the point in getting angry that someone wants to kill you, if there's not a reason that you're worth saving--something interesting or cool or valuable that you're doing in the world?

Monday, November 30, 2009

thirty days: day 4

Day 04 → Your favourite book

my favourite book can only be described as the ultimate Don't Be This Guy:

Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky. it's about a man who gets so caught up in his own inadequacies and insecurities and perceived superiorities that he withdraws further and further away from the world to the point where he can't function. it's not a happy book. but, i'm drawn to it because it is simultaneously something i see way too much of myself in, and something that i'm hoping my life doesn't eventually become.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

thirty days: day 3

Day 03 → Your favorite television program

i touched on this yesterday with my favourite movie...and anyone who knows the least bit about me will see this as no shock. my favourite tv show is still beavis and butt-head, even twelve years after the final episode aired. i watch at least several episodes of it a cracks me up so much, and i still notice new quips and laughs every time i watch it. there's a lot of stupid lowbrow humour--but it's also laced with a surprising amount of intelligent commentary and snark.

my favourite episode has changed over time, but nowadays my favourite one is Scratch 'N Win, in which our two antiheroes win a goodly sum of money in the lottery.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

thirty days: day 2

Day 02 → Your favourite movie

unlike the favourite song question yesterday, this one's so easy. i don't watch a whole lot of movies, but no movie makes me laugh like Beavis and Butt-Head Do America makes me laugh. for once, they took an amazing TV show and made an amazing movie out of it. all those poor kids wanted was their TV back, but they got sucked into this crazy cross-country adventure...

my favourite part of the movie is Beavis's "never gonna score" monologue on the bus:

a fun fact about that monologue? a prototype of it was used in the episode "teen talk."

Friday, November 27, 2009

thirty days: day 1

this thirty-days meme is spreading like wildfire, and this blog needs some content. so, i think i'm going to try it.

Day 01 → Your favourite song

it's kind of hard to say what my favourite song is. i don't really have an Overarching Favourite Song anymore...just certain songs that i always catch myself going back to in certain moods, or songs that i get hooked on and listen to over and over again for a period of time.

however, there is one song that i've looked to as a personal theme song since i first heard it back in 2001: "the way you like it" by adema. i very often catch myself angry at people who react to individuality with consternation, and angry at people who act holier-than-thou about youthful stupidity. in other words, this song is very often appropriate mood music for me, and is an appropriate personal theme song. that makes it the closest thing i have to One Favourite Song.


ps: speaking of memes, for all of you who wanted five questions, your questions are forthcoming--i promise! i'm planning on posting all of them this weekend. <3

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

five questions

excuse me while i engage in a bit of blatant's a fun meme, though, so feel free to ask me for some questions. :)

Leave me a comment saying "Resistance is Futile."

• I'll respond by asking you five questions so I can satisfy my curiosity
• Update your journal with the answers to the questions
• Include this explanation in the post and offer to ask other people questions


Mark asked me these five questions:
  1. How did you get into hacking? -- i was really into computers as a kid. i started using a computer in 1985, when my family got a Mac 512. in middle school, i learned BASIC, and started doing some basic programming. i didn't do anything all that intricate, but i got a handle on a few of the fundamentals. that's kind of the initial background for how i got into computers...although it was a long time after that when i got into the hacker community, since i got distracted from my interest in computers by the time i hit high school. i didn't really get back into them hardcore until my last year of law school. i stumbled across a phone phreaking and pranking board (Phone Losers of America) while poking around wikipedia one night, and i met some people off of there who were into linux. i gave linux a shot early last year...and playing around with that got me back into coding, which got me into learning all sorts of things about computers and networking and security. that was my real entry into the world of hacking. i'd still call myself relatively new at it, but i'm getting better and better.
  2. Can you make a living doing it? -- that's my goal. i'm not making a living on it yet, but i'm trying to find a tech job that will take a chance on some relative newbie with no computer degrees and only one entry-level professional certification to date. i plan on eventually working in computer security, although i want to work as a sysadmin or a network admin first--because how could i expect people to take my advice for tweaking and locking down their systems if i haven't been involved in maintaining said systems previously?
  3. It seems like you aren't fond of the whole lawyering thing. So, why do it? -- you're right--i am not fond of it at all. i hate the point that i physically recoil at the idea of ever working as an attorney again. so--i'm not going to. i was laid off from my job as an attorney at the end of march of this year, and i haven't been seeking jobs in the legal field. i've still got my law license, and am planning on keeping it current for the time being, so i can continue to provide my hackerspace (Pumping Station: One) with legal advice. i can't say i enjoy legally advising in any capacity, but right now i'm the only lawyer who is a member of the space, and it's worth it to be able to keep the space in existence.
  4. Why is your hair blue? -- i could be snarky and say "it's not blue, it's pink." :) (it is true--my hair is currently pink, although i plan on dyeing it back to blue very, very soon.) i dye my hair blue because blue is my favourite colour to have my hair--i really like how it looks on me. also, i really don't feel comfortable with my hair brown or blonde or black or any kind of colour that naturally grows out of the human head. i feel a sanitized version of myself. i just feel more confident when my hair is a fun colour. i'm hoping that whatever job i get next will allow me to keep my hair...if, for the time being, i have to take a job that doesn't, i'm not going to make the same mistake i did at my last job. when i worked for the law firm, i dyed my hair back to something "natural". this time around, if it becomes necessary, i'm getting a wig to wear to work, and will stick to my blue, purple, pink, or whatever interesting colour i choose at any given time for my real hair to be dyed.
  5. What do you want to be when you grow up? -- i touched on that in my answer to #2...i want to do something in the field of computer security. i'm not sure yet whether i want to work in-house somewhere or be a consultant, although i'm leaning toward the consulting side. we'll see how this shakes out once i've gotten some kind of stable footing in the field, but that's my plan for now.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

law school fail.

thank you, Above the Law, for speaking the truth:

"At this point, going to law school is like starting to smoke. It’s expensive, it’s probably going to kill you, and it’s a stupid life decision. But some people just don’t care."

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

they fuck you up...

i saw this poem posted in childfree hardcore today, and it put a knowing smile on my face.

This Be the Verse

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another’s throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don’t have any kids yourself.

i, for one, know i won't be passing my misery or screwed-up-ness to any kids.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

i can haz RAM?

despite hemming and hawing for the last two years or so that my law school laptop was on its last legs, and that i wasn't going to pay to upgrade the RAM or do anything else to it, it has become pretty clear that this box is my primary computer, and will be for some time. despite some cosmetic damage...some cracks in the case, the super-glued-on space bar, it still runs pretty nicely, especially with xubuntu on it.

so, today, i finally caved. i maxed out the RAM on my cranky old laptop--going from a paltry 512 megs to a slightly respectable 2 gigs.

the thing that got me to do it was the fact that i'm planning on working through metasploit unleashed soon, and that requires running vulnerable VMs on your computer in order to exploit them. i realised that there was no way i'd be able to run both a base OS and a VM with only 512 megs of RAM. that wasn't going to happen.

aside from that rather practical consideration, though, it's really, really nice not to have the computer slow down to molasses speed if i had both firefox and a video or music player running. between the fact that i have four times the RAM i had this morning and the fact that i'm still running xubuntu (and not something more bloated), my old box is zipping along better than ever!

i seriously should have done this years ago.

Friday, October 30, 2009

if you still care, don't ever let me know

it has been a couple of months since i heard a new song that grabbed me and shook me.

i heard "snuff" by slipknot for the first time today, and it was exactly what i needed. i was pretty shocked when i found out it was slipknot, since most of their stuff really doesn't do it for me, but this one just gives me goosebumps.

bury all your secrets in my skin
come away with innocence
and leave me with my sins
the air around me still feels like a cage
and love is just a camouflage
for what resembles rage again

so if you love me let me go
and run away before i know
my heart is just too dark to care
i cant destroy what isn't there
deliver me into my fate
if i'm alone i cannot hate
i don't deserve to have you
my smile was taken long ago
if i can change i hope i never know

i still press your letters to my lips
and cherish them in parts of me that savor every kiss
i couldn't face a life without your light
but all of that was ripped apart...
when you refused to fight

so save your breath i will not hear
i think i made it very clear
you couldn't hate enough to love
is that supposed to be enough?
i only wish you weren't my friend
then i could hurt you in the end
i never claimed to be a saint
my own was banished long ago
it took the death of hope to let you go

so break yourself against my stones
and spit your pity in my soul
you never needed any help
you sold me out to save yourself
and i wont listen to your shame
you ran away you're all the same
angels lie to keep control
my love was punished long ago
if you still care don't ever let me know

if you still care don't ever let me know

Sunday, October 18, 2009


(warning: whiny, cryptic rant ahead.)

i've been feeling really weird, really off, these last few days. i know in my head what i want and need to get done, but nothing's coming. i'm going through a time of banging my head against a wall repeatedly. there's no real reason why i can't get past that wall...i just can't.

maybe i'm scared of change. maybe i'm scared to fail. maybe i've convinced myself so well that anything i could possibly do would be a disappointment that some switch has flipped in my brain to tell myself that it's better not to even try, and therefore let people continue to think i might be able to do something that i'm convinced there's no way i'll actually be able to wrap my head around.

Friday, October 16, 2009

my ipod smokes crack rocks.

i'm at the hackerspace reading through some 501(c)(3) documentation. a couple of other people are here. my iPod is playing over the speakers.

it played "through the fire and flames" by dragonforce...

..followed by "i want it that way" by the backstreet boys.

if the other guys here didn't realise what a weirdo i was, they sure know now. :)

Sunday, October 04, 2009

ad fail

i saw an extremely infuriating ad for Chicago Public Schools this afternoon on the #152 bus.

it was part of their "Just Go! to school" campaign, and the point of the ad is that if you went to school and graduated, you could grow up to be like the people on the ad. it had pictures of four people, with their occupation, their name, and name of the Chicago public high school from which they graduated. one of them was a journalist and television news anchor, one was a singer, one was an Olympic athlete and business owner, and one was an attorney and nonprofit director.

the journalist and news anchor was listed as such. the singer was listed as such. the athlete and entrepreneur was listed as such. the attorney and nonprofit director was not listed as such, but rather listed as First Lady of the United States.

that drives me crazy. i'm not trying to allege that it's not pretty cool to be the First Lady. however, the point is that you are supposed to finish school in order to give yourself the tools to build an interesting career for yourself. i'm not trying to discount any role Michelle Obama had in helping to get Barack Obama elected. she's a well-spoken public figure, and an asset to the White House.

however, listing her career as "First Lady" implies that the reason that she's worth holding up as an example is that she's married to the president. this is simply not true. it trivializes the fact that she had a successful career as an attorney, in the mayor's office, with nonprofits in town, and with the University of Chicago. she did enough interesting stuff on her own to merit holding up as an example of how education can take you down a good path.

if you get right down to it, you're more likely to meet someone of potentially presidential calibre if you stay in school and go to college and run in circles where the talented and the powerful run. but, i don't reckon that's the message that Chicago Public Schools wants to disseminate: "stay in school and get a really sweet MRS."

in other words, this ad slighted both the achievements of Michelle Obama and the value of staying in school in one fell swoop.

twitter done right

some tweets are good enough to re-tweet. few tweets are good enough to blog:

"Last night's sweater smells this morning like the ghost of 118 hugs. All perfumes cancel themselves out and smell like a 747's bathroom."

thank you, Douglas Coupland. you really are my favourite living author. not only are your books awesome, but sometimes you manage to weave something beautiful into a tweet. the image of "the ghost of 118 hugs" is something i doubt i'll ever forget.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


it's been a while, i know. it seems the more that's going on in my life, the less i have to say about it.

this weekend, i've been chilling out in DC. in fact, i'm still there...i leave tomorrow, early afternoon. it has been an amazing weekend so far. there was an informal hacker meetup (BeaveCon, if you will...) that materialised because a bunch of people happened to be in town for various things on this weekend. so, of course, that led to people who were going to be there convincing their friends to come, who in turn convinced other friends to come down...which mushroomed into a heck of a party on friday night. it was really nice to hang out with people who i don't normally see except at hacker cons, but in a casual environment free from the stresses or insanity of actually having a con going on.

speaking of hacker meetups, is there anyone who lives in Chicago (or will be coming through Chicago this coming Friday) who wants to come to a hacker happy hour on Friday night? if so, it's your lucky day, and you should email or comment me so i can let you know the details. :)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

i'mma let you finish...

from kanye west douchebag, i present the first one of these crazy lolkanyes that have been taking over the internet that has actually made me laugh hysterically:

what can i say? i'm a sucker for Lamarck references...

Monday, September 14, 2009


Mark takes people who couch their gay-bashing in religious terms to task wonderfully here.


Friday, September 11, 2009

a year

it was just over a year ago when i started my job at the law firm...september 8, 2008. it feels like that was longer ago than that. all the events of the summer of 2008 seem so far away, really: finishing law school, studying for the bar, taking the bar, starting the job with the law firm. the idea of having spent large swaths of my week in an office instead of at pumping station: one (which didn't even exist at the time...) feels absurd. it feels like last summer was another person's life, or at least some other life i lived before this one.

a year ago, i thought that a hackerspace was a temporary installation at a convention where people could meet up to tinker with hardware. now, i know that they are interdisciplinary, creative, and persistent communities.

a year ago, i thought it was healthy for there to be no overlap whatsoever between my career and my interests outside of work. now, i know that any career that doesn't tie into interests i have outside of work will be an extremely poor fit.

a year ago, i thought it was a good thing that there was a complete disconnect between who i was at work and who i was outside of it. now, i know that i'm not suited to live that lie.

a year ago, i thought that i would make my career practicing law. now, i know i won't.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

summer songs

i posted today on my twitter feed, asking everyone what song reminded them of the summer of 2009. it's weird...i don't usually have songs that remind me of any other seasons, per se, but every single year i have a summer song. my summer songs are never the bubblegum stuff associated with the term "summer song"...since i really don't listen to anything all that bouncy, i think only two of these (1998 and 2007) even come close to the traditional idea of a summer song. sometimes the song was released that year, sometimes it wasn't. but, every year since i started listening to a lot of music, i can think back to that summer and always hear one specific song playing in my head as the soundtrack.
  • 1997: "The Freshmen" by The Verve Pipe
  • 1998: "Flagpole Sitta" by Harvey Danger
  • 1999: "She Has Faces" by The Verve Pipe
  • 2000: "Sick Of It All" by Finger Eleven
  • 2001: "No One" by Cold
  • 2002: "Fine Again" by Seether
  • 2003: "Caught In The Rain" by Revis
  • 2004: "The Nurse With Amnesia" by Shades of Fiction
  • 2005: "Time To Waste" by Alkaline Trio
  • 2006: "Cold (But I'm Still Here)" by Evans Blue
  • 2007: "It's The End Of The Western" by Wesley Willis
  • 2008: "Got It Made" by Seether
  • 2009: "Tonight Is The Night I Fell Asleep At The Wheel" by Barenaked Ladies
i should really make a playlist of these songs, as a kind of mental wayback machine.

Sunday, September 06, 2009


i just pulled out a very tangible reminder of the double life i used to lead: a little plastic business card case. one side, the side with the clear cover, was full of my business cards from the law firm. the other side, the side with the opaque black plastic cover, was full of my chicago flag business cards with my personal e-mail address and website.

i'm so glad that's not my life anymore.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

unlike games, it has a real computer keyboard!

it's william shatner.

advertising the commodore vic-20.

i can think of few geekier advertisements.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

more tubes!

i have a website now!

no, i'm not moving this blog. this is for my personal rants., my new site, is a home for all of my computer and hacking projects. it'll be really nice to have a separate place for that.

so...if you're interested in that stuff, check it out! i don't have a whole lot up there, since i just brought it up today, but it should get really interesting in the coming months.

zyzzx road

"zzyzx road"
by stone sour

i don't know how else to put this
it's taken me so long to do this
i'm falling asleep and i can't see straight
my muscles feel like a melee
my body's curled in a u-shape
i put on my best but i'm still afraid

propped up by lies and promises
saving my place as life forgets
maybe its time i saw the world
i'm only here for a while
but patience is not my style
and i'm so tired that i gotta go

what am i supposed to hide now
what am I supposed to do
did you really think i wouldn't see this through
tell me i should stick around for you
tell me i could have it all
i'm still too tired to care and i gotta go

i get to go home in one week
but i'm leaving home in three weeks
they throw me a bone just to pick me dry
i'm following suit and directions
i crawl up inside for protection
i'm told what to do and i don't know why

i'm over existing in limbo
i'm over the myths and placebos
i don't really mind if i just fade away
i'm ready to live with my family
i'm ready to die in obscurity
'cause i'm so tired that i gotta go

where am i supposed to hide now
what am i supposed to do
you still don't think i'm going see this through
tell me i'm a part of history
tell me i can have it all
i'm still too tired to care and i gotta go

still too tired to care and i gotta go
still too tired to care and i gotta go
still too tired to care and i gotta go
still too tired to care and i gotta go
go home
still too tired to care and i gotta go
still too tired to care and i gotta go

Sunday, August 23, 2009

i think i found the right song.

"what you live by"
by harvey danger

meet me up on ninety-nine
beneath the marco polo sign
i’ll be the one with a box of wine
and a hundred dollar car

we could talk about the lives we’ve led
and count the reasons we’re not dead
or maybe we could talk instead
about the ways in which we are

always nothing or too much to say
only so many sides of the record to play
and the song that got stuck in my head
said you die by what you live by
you will die by what you live by
you will die by what you live by
every time

like carnivores to carnal pleasures
so will we to desperate measures
melting into stagnant puddles
beat down by the sun

i went to school
i didn’t stay
spoke right up when i had nothing good to say
and i said it to anyone who would listen

lay me down in the bed that i made
starved for sleep by the shrill serenade
singing over and over:
you die by what you live by
you will die by what you live by
you will die by what you live by
every time

you die by what you live by
you will die by what you live by
you will die by what you live by
every time

Saturday, August 22, 2009


it's horribly unnerving when you can't find the right song for how you feel. there's no way my amalgam of emotions is anything new or interesting, but i'm still trying to find someone else on my playlist who has felt it and vocalised it.

Friday, August 21, 2009

i <3 bad puns.

today's xkcd is amazing, although there's part of me that wonders what took them so long to make such a characteristically xkcd pun.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009


HAR was ridiculous, and ridiculously awesome.

not much time for details now, since i'm still away (and don't want to get too sucked into the intertubes to explore Amsterdam some more!), but it suffices to say that i'm still alive, i'm still in Europe, and i really, really, really don't want to get on the plane tomorrow.

Monday, August 10, 2009

the jetset life is gonna kill you...

i'm finally recovered from defcon. that's a good thing, since i'm heading off to yet another con this week.

on tuesday morning, i fly out to new york city. i have about a day and a half to goof off with Rob...i'm not quite sure what we're going to be doing, but whatever it is, it'll be lots of fun. :)

then, wednesday afternoon, it's back to jfk to meet up with hackers on a plane and fly to europe! we get into dusseldorf on thursday morning, meet up with some german hackers, and take a bus the last hour and a half to hacking at random! i'm simultaneously excited and nervous about the trip...excited because i'm going to be meeting new places, seeing new people, and learning a lot at the con, and nervous because i haven't flown internationally in over a decade, and because i'm going to be going to countries where i don't know the language at all.

that being said, it's going to be a blast, and i'm sure i'll have plenty of crazy stories to tell when i'm back.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Friday, August 07, 2009


i love jokes with long, elaborate setup.

i love when Black Hat does mischievous things.

for these reasons, i declare today's xkcd to be full of win. <3


Wednesday, August 05, 2009

shame on you, North Carolina.

recently, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a law mandating that Governor's School charge a $500 per student tuition.

this makes me extremely sad.

if there had been tuition for Governor's School in 1998, i would not have been able to go. it was that simple. when i was in high school, my family didn't have money. they would not have been able to drop $500 for something so seemingly frivolous as sending me to summer camp. since it was completely state-sponsored, however, i got the chance to go.

and, it was far from frivolous. in fact, it was the best experience of my high school years.

my Area I class was choral music...and, when else was i going to get the chance to sing so much avant-garde music? it was unlike anything i had ever sung before, and i still hear bits and pieces of "when david heard" and "funeral ikos" pop into my head eleven years later. when else were we going to face the question as to whether it was artistic or unpatriotic to sing a bitonal arrangement of The Star-Spangled Banner at a minor league baseball game? from the environment of my hometown and my high school? i say, nowhere else was i going to experience any of that. Area II discussed philosophy, and Area III discussed psychology...two topics that were hardly even alluded to in my home high school. yet there, at Governor's School, i got the chance to read and discuss writings about how the mind worked, and how we fit into society as a whole, with students from all over the state, with students in all different Area I concentrations...something i would not have otherwise been given the chance to do until several years later, in college.

still, the academic level is nowhere near the whole story.

i learned a lot in my classes, but it was also so much more than that. at my home high school, i was very much a loner. i didn't get along with the vast majority of my classmates, and didn't feel like i had very much in common with them. Governor's School opened my eyes to the previously absurd idea that there may be people floating around with whom i had something in common. it was nothing short of life-affirming to spend a summer around four hundred unabashedly intelligent peers. those six weeks were about the only time in my entire high school career that i spent my evenings socializing instead of writing horrendously emo poetry about how much my life sucked and how little i fit in. of course, not all academically gifted students were as alienated or socially inept as i was in high school, but many are. and, there is no way that i'm the only student whose eyes were opened in this way thanks to Governor's School.

and now, students whose parents can't afford an extra $500 out of a tight budget are getting locked out of this experience.

it's so strange that in the same paragraph of the law that authorizes this tuition, free public schools are mentioned several times. Governor's School is an extension and an enrichment of that service. it is a chance for academically gifted students to meet other academically gifted students from all over the state. the whole point of Governor's School is that only your talent and your intelligence mattered for getting didn't matter if you were from a small town or a big city, and it didn't matter if you were from a rich family or a poor one. eight hundred students a year got the opportunity to leave town for the summer and find a home, without regard to the socioeconomic barriers that blocked access to just about any other summer opportunity for talented students.

in short, Governor's School was the most valuable six weeks of my free public education in North Carolina, and it's a shame that students in my position nowadays will not be able to have the opportunity i had eleven years ago.

how to go to vegas without gambling a cent...

wow, it's been a while. but, then again, that's become my modus operandi here, right? it seems the more i get into computers, the less i blog. chew on that for a while...

anyway, i'm just now getting to the point of having recovered from defcon. that was last weekend, and i was in vegas from tuesday, july 28 until monday, august 3. it was a madcap week of con after con...defcon went on from thursday through sunday, but there was also security b-sides/neighborcon vegas as well as black hat going on wednesday and thursday. those first few days were extra-madcap since i was staying at the riviera (where defcon was happening), and it involved lots of random cab rides, car rides, and general finagling to get out to the sites where everything was going on.

all in all, it was a fabulous weekend. :) both of the talks i was involved with went really well.

the first was a panel i was on during b-sides, a discussion of women in the information security industry. i was a little nervous at first to do the panel...since even though i have a lot to say as far as feminism is concerned, i'm not exactly in the information security industry yet. (yes, i would like to end up there, but i'm only in the stage of basic planning for my first computer job.) however, i ended up fitting right in, and both the pre-panel discussion that we had the night before as well as the panel itself ended up being fantastic discussions. what made it so interesting is that we all had a common goal of increased respect of and participation by women in information security, but we each had different opinions as to how best the goal would be achieved. the panel was, as soon as it's up online, i'll link it here.

the second was a talk i gave on my own at defcon about legal considerations of starting a hackerspace. i was a lot more nervous going into this than i was the panel...since at the panel, it was a smaller crowd, and it was in the form of a discussion with a bunch of people. the talk was fifty minutes of just me talking, plus a question and answer session i was afraid that i'd either forget what i was saying, become too dependent on my notes, have my talk run far too short, have my talk run far too long, or come off like an idiot when someone asked me something i had no idea about in the question and answer session. turns out, absolutely none of that happened. despite the fact that my notes were meticulously marked and highlighted, i hardly referred to them. i didn't lose my place while i was talking--i had my slides up to guide the way, and what was on the slide was just enough to jog my memory about what topic i needed to flesh out. i had a fifty-minute slot, and my talk clocked in at 47 or 48 minutes. i knew how to attack all of the questions i was asked...i wasn't broadsided by anything, or accosted by some tinfoil-hat type who wanted to ask me about stuff that didn't pertain to hackerspaces at all. in other words, everything went as well as i could have hoped for ! this talk was also videotaped...and i'll put a link up here as soon as they post it.

of course, the talks were a pretty small part of the weekend, timewise. i went to a handful of interesting talks both at b-sides/neighborcon and at defcon. (i made it into black hat for a while thanks to a certain awesome attendee lending me his badge, although i didn't end up going into any talks...i attended the hallway track there instead.)

i participated in a couple of contests at defcon, including scavenger hunt, gringo warrior, and 10,000 cent hacker pyramid. i didn't win either, but did some fun stuff anyway. i think my favourite item of the scavenger hunt that i did was the one that just said "a cannonball". i think they wanted a metal cannonball, but i put on my swimsuit, did a cannonball into the hotel pool, and then we submitted the video to the judges. it wasn't what they expected...but they laughed and gave us the points. :) the "shotgun a can of brawndo" item was also pretty entertaining...i showed my ineptitude at shotgunning, and covered myself in fluorescent green, but it was funny. gringo warrior was weird since the blow-up guard had been popped before i got the chance to do my run--and i can't quite be as brutal to a real-life person as i normally am to a blow-up doll. however, i did have my best score to date, 455 points. :) as for hacker pyramid, i only did the first round, since it conflicted with hacker jeopardy, and i was signed up to do that. however, the first round was awesome, and me and my "celebrity partner" (none other than the awesome Deviant Ollam) kicked ass. we got ten points in the first round...four for "what's in a name", and six for "hacker kryptonite." i'm really sad that it overlapped with jeopardy--and, in retrospect, i really should have stayed at hacker pyramid, since i had a lot more fun there.

i went to parties just about every night, as well, and of course some were more awesome than others. the black hat speakers party in the Caesars Palace penthouse was fabulous, as well as the IOActive freak show party on saturday night and the EFF shindig on Thursday...i think those were my three favourite parties of the weekend. all three of those parties had completely different vibes, but were all ones i'll gladly attend again if they are thrown next year. on the other hand, the Ninja Party was a total was overly crowded both right outside the bounds of the party and inside them, and the douchebag at the door wasn't allowing +1s. (that was, of course, a problem...since Rob had a badge to get in the party, and i was his +1.) i will, however, say that those Ninja Party badges were the coolest party badges all con, and i'm kind of sad i didn't end up getting one.

speaking of parties, there was no pool party after the con like there usually is. why? BEES. LOTS OF BEES.

yep, you read that right. all those bee references on twitter on Sunday evening were not a joke--sunday evening there was a bee infestation at the riviera's pool deck, and they closed down the entire pool area, and put security guards to block all the doors to enter it. that was really sad, since i had been looking forward to the telephreak pool party all con. i ended up at the ad hoc room-party-with-lots-of-telephreak-people instead, which was a lot of fun...but it still was not a pool party. :( stupid bees...

of course, the best part of this week was the same as the best part of every other con i've been to--the chance to hang out with everyone. Rob got into town on tuesday night and was there through monday, so it was awesome to spend a week with him. <3 i also had plenty of other fun social shenanigans like going to Zumanity (the sexy cirque du soleil show!) with Rob and Tiffany, a saturday night hotel room pillow fight with Tottenkoph and Tyger...i had a blast, and i'm already looking forward to defcon 18.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

wrong number...

...seriously, this makes me wish i had a good bell system voice.


really, the only good phone voice i have is a phone sex voice, and that's not nearly useful for this kind of thing.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

there's nobody learning such a foreign word as fair...

in his blog, squelch84 asked,

What are you listening to this week? Give me your play lists.

i don't so much have a play list this week, since i've been doing a lot of reading of the type that music distracts me a little more than i can stand to be distracted during such reading. however, i've listened to "here's to the state of mississippi" by Phil Ochs several times this week, and it has been stuck in my head since at least monday. it's the most sharp-tongued sixties protest song i know, and it's scary how much it still applies to certain facets of the country today.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


vanish fascinates me.

a group of researchers at the university of washington released it yesterday. it's a tool that basically puts an expiration time on any information you post on the internet.

it uses a secret key to encrypt the data, and then sprinkles the key into many little pieces throughout the vuze P2P network. based on the average rate of hosts leaving and entering the P2P network, the key lasts about eight or nine hours; this can be tweaked to any multiple of 8 or 9 hours.

of course, it's not perfect. if you even legitimately want to recover the information after the assigned period (and, if you did save it elsewhere, aren't you defeating the purpose of using vanish?), you can't. on the other hand, it can be decrypted by anyone with a Vanish client during the period that the key is valid, so if you care about who sees it as well as when the data expires, it's probably a good idea to wrap the vanish data object in something that will authenticate the recipient, such as pgp. it is a legitimate concern given that anyone can decrypt the data within the time period--they could always take the text, save it in another file, and get around the expiration date provided by vanish. then again, the intended recipient can do that as well, so it's useless unless you can trust the recipient to just let the message die.

however, i find this a fascinating first step toward addressing the problem of stuff on the internet coming back to haunt people, or addressing other problems of data lasting longer than hoped for. (and, i think i'm going to implement and play with the "vanish trash bin" idea on the project website...) it won't completely get rid of the problem, and i definitely won't start doing things like posting things on the internet that i don't stand behind, or saving child porn or stolen credit card numbers on my machines. that being said, i'm really excited to know that people are doing interesting things to try and get around the effective permanence of computer data.

they're giving a formal presentation about it at USENIX. sadly, though, USENIX is at the same time as HAR, so i'll be away. however, if it were not at the same time as HAR, i find this interesting enough that i would try to go to USENIX just for this presentation, and to pick the researchers' brains about it sometime during the hallway track.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Wesley Willis is the daddy of rock and roll!

i did it!

yesterday, i spent a little over an hour standing at the corner of Franklin and Jackson, blasting Wesley Willis from an iPod speaker and holding up a sign christening the Wesley Willis Tower! it was a blast...i got such a range of reactions, and it took far longer than expected for building security to kick me off of the premises.

some people wanted to take my picture--a few asked, more didn't. some were sneaky and took photos from across the street. some stopped in front of me, didn't talk to me, and just took my picture. some people walked by and cheered about how awesome Wesley Willis is, and how he whips the llama's ass. some people got the reference completely wrong, and screamed a hearty "what'chu talkin' 'bout, Willis?"

most people just looked at me with confusion in their eyes.

all in all, i'm so glad i did it. i was really bummed when security kicked me off the premises, although i was completely unsurprised. i'm kind of wondering how they found out, since i didn't see anyone who was clearly a security guy until the guy with a Willis Tower tag walked up to me and told me i needed to go across the street. still, i had a pretty good run of it...i got through twenty-five songs before i had to leave.

and, if just one person saw my sign and googled the name Wesley Willis, i did my job. <3

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

rock over london, rock on chicago.

the sears tower officially changes its name to the willis tower tomorrow.

this, of course, means that it is the Wesley Willis Tower.

i think i'm going to go over there, stand on the street, and blast some Wesley Willis songs to commemorate the occasion. who's with me?

Friday, June 26, 2009

HARdy HAR HAR HAR... if i weren't going to enough cons this summer, i finally came around to the inevitable. today i broke down and bought my ticket for this year's installment of hackers on a plane, and i will be going to HAR! ^.^

i will not be doing the HAR and PlumberCon trip...since that one leaves from NYC on August 4, and i'm leaving Defcon on August 3, that was just too little time in between. i want a little bit of time to breathe after Defcon before i'm going to jetlag myself to all hell yet again. however, i will be leaving from NYC on August 12, and arriving back in the States on August 19.


now, to get that pesky passport...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

waiting in line with an accordion

so, i did try out for American Idol on Monday. it was weird.
  • i was up by 3:30am, in a cab by 4:00am, and at United Center by 4:25. im used to seeing these times on clocks, of course, but only *before* i have gone to bed. by then, i was still in the third corral of people: not one of the first there, but by no means among the last,, since we weren't told to be there until 5am, and were told that the absolute latest we could arrive was 8am. how early we showed up had no bearing on where i sat, but it allowed me to watch the in-line shenanigans, and possibly entertain a few camera-people if they came by. it was worth it, since i was going for the experience.
  • waiting in line is bizarre. it's full of a few people who are there for the laughs, a few people who are there for fun, and a lot of people who think that american idol is SRS BSNS and/or their future. so many people are singing, and many of them come off like they are doing it in a really, really showy way. hint: THE JUDGES ARE NOT WANDERING THROUGH THE LINE OUT FRONT. IT IS 5AM. THEY ARE SLEEPING.
  • most of the day involved waiting: the line out front, the stands while the better sections filed in to audition, the line to get downstairs, the line on the arena floor to see the judges. i still don't see how i had the patience for all those lines, especially for something i was doing just for laughs. but, i did.
  • just before i went, i decided that i was going to do something weird in order to troll all the people who bring their acoustic guitars with them. i don't have an acoustic guitar, but i do have a toy concertina. i was pretty sure that playing a squeezebox would make me stand out, and i sure was right. a few camera-people decided to chat with me and have me play it for them. (including the one for the Chicago Tribune--fast forward to about 1:55 in!) i got lots of funny looks, especially when i was inside playing around with it in my seat while i waited to audition. however, what fun is going to an event like that if you can't freak out the mundanes a bit?
  • if i hear "hot n cold" by katy perry one more time, i am going to punch a hole in a wall.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

i dare you.

i'm trying out for american idol tomorrow, and i was printing out and signing the release form that they make all prospective contestants sign. one of the passages cracks me up:

"I understand that I may reveal, and other parties may reveal, information about me that is of a personal, private, embarrassing or unfavorable nature, which information may be factual and/or fictional. I further understand that my appearance, depiction and/or portrayal in the Program may be disparaging, defamatory, embarrassing or of an otherwise unfavorable nature which may expose me to public ridicule, humiliation or condemnation. I acknowledge and agree that Producer shall have the right to (a) include any or all such information and appearances, depictions or portrayals in the Program as edited by Producer in its sole discretion, and (b) broadcast and otherwise exploit the Program containing any or all such information and appearances, depictions or portrayals in any manner whatsoever in any and all media now known or hereafter devised, or for any other purpose, throughout the universe in perpetuity."

so, in other words, i can lie about my personal life, the show can lie about my personal life, and they can craft my image at the whim of the producer. take your best shot, mister Producer. i challenge you to make me look more ridiculous than i make myself look on a daily basis. i promise you that the task is more difficult than you think.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

news that is, in fact, not very useful to crack smokers

there was a reporter at the 2600 meeting last friday, and apparently he found me interesting enough to write an article about me.

this makes me happy. :)

Monday, June 08, 2009


this morning's xkcd is made of win:


by the way, i'm not dead. i've just been crazy busy with hackerspace-type things, since the geek prom is less than a week away. (eep!)

today was the first day in a long time that i didn't make it out to the hackerspace, but i had a very good reason for that. some dork is coming to visit me on thursday, and as of this morning my room was such a mess that you couldn't actually walk into it without stepping on loads and loads and loads of my stuff. in fact, i hadn't cleaned it since the last time Rob came to visit. :P this has been remedied, however. things are in their places, the floor is clear, and it's not such a mess that i'd be embarrassed for anyone to see it.

(now, i'm almost embarrassed about how clean it is, since it's SO not me. oh well, though...i wanted the floor to be clear in case Rob and i wanted to play board games!)

other than that...i still haven't posted about my jeopardy audition or my first night of trivia...oops.

the jeopardy audition went well, i think. they don't tell you how you did; they just tell you that they may or may not call you within the next eighteen months. however, the fifty-question quiz was significantly easier than the online qualifier, or at least it hit upon stuff i knew far better than the online qualifier did. that's a good thing. the later part was the fake game-slash-personality interview, which was done as one big chunk. they called three people up at a time, we played a short jeopardy round with buzzers, then they chatted with each of us for a minute or two. that's such a crapshoot...personality is so subjective. all i have to say is...i hope they liked me, i hope they liked my scavhunt stories that i was telling, and i hope i get a call sometime within the next eighteen months.

the first night of trivia also went really, really well. we had five teams there, including two teams from ps:one and one team which consisted of the woman i sat next to at my jeopardy audition and her husband. it was just as fun as i imagined it would be to announce trivia questions, and we had a really close round with a come-from-behind victory. here's hoping the round will be just as exciting tomorrow night, when we do it again!

Monday, June 01, 2009


my Jeopardy! audition is today at 3pm!!! i am already bouncing off the walls.

wish me luck!

(and then please, please come say hi to me at my first night as quiz-mistress at Chief O'Neill's tonight! /shamelessplugforsuperfuntrivia)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

blago <3 geek prom

i think Jeff just won the prize for Best Geek Prom Flyering Ever:

speaking of Geek Prom, all of you in Chicago should come! it's on June 13 from 9pm to 2am, at the Co-Prosperity Sphere (3219 S. Morgan St.). it's a combination science fair and dance, and it's only $10 for a single and $15 for a couple if you buy your ticket in advance. you can listen to music, drink, meet fun people, and look at hacked gadgets and shiny techie things people have made. you can even show off your own cool projects!

i'm going to be showing off some 8-bit music i've been writing on a Commodore don't want to miss it! :)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

you may now call me quizmaster nicolle.

do you live in Chicago? if so, i know what you're doing this Monday night, and each Monday night for the foreseeable future: pub trivia.

a bunch of friends and i have been going to Chief O'Neill's, an irish pub at the corner of Elston and Albany, for pub trivia on monday nights for the last few months. however, now it's going to be especially awesome: Lisa, Karl, and i are going to be the Quizmasters starting this Monday!

we'll be devising, organising, and vocalising questions for your entertainment and i hope that you, and all your friends, and all your friends' friends can make it! :D

i haz a geek prom date!!!

Rob is coming to geek prom!

SQUEE!!!! :-D

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

News Crack Smokers Can Use: May 26, 2009

memorial day weekend is finally over. if you're like me, you celebrated the holiday with lots of tasty beer and meat. however, if you're like the target audience of this little feature, you probably paired your memorial day goodies with a fine crack rock. however, the weekend is over, and it's important to remember how to stay out of trouble. if you're not a crackhead, take pleasure in the fact that you're not as stupid as these people. if you are a can add these things to the list of what not to do if you don't want to get busted for being a crack smoker.

so, without further ado, i present this week's News Crack Smokers Can Use:
  • i understand. the economy stinks, and it's kind of hard to get a job. this makes it difficult if you're a crack smoker, since crack isn't particularly cheap. this also makes it difficult if you have children, since child care, food, and diapers are also rather expensive. my suggestion, if you are a crack smoker who has had the poor foresight to breed, is to set aside the crack until all of your children are eighteen. you need the money, the consciousness, and the energy to keep your kids takes a lot. what i don't suggest is that you take your kids in the car with you while you turn tricks for crack money. yes, i understand that you want your crack, and i understand your kids are going to need to learn a trade one of these days. however, it's not a particularly bright idea to combine the two, and it only means you're going to get in bigger trouble when you get caught. [a big persecuted crack smoker thank you to Rob for this tip!]
  • don't trust crack dealers. just...don't. sometimes they're going to sell you fake crack. sometimes they won't even make a pretense of it...and just snatch your money, shove you down to the ground, and drive off. that just're $100 poorer, with no crack to show for it and no meaningful legal recourse.
  • if you're going to smoke crack in someone else's house, make sure that they're okay with you smoking crack there. make sure they're not going to let Officer Friendly into the house to search it while you've got some crack in your hand...otherwise, it's better to smoke your crack at your own residence, or at the residence of someone you can trust not to let the cops in. furthermore, if Officer Friendly sees that crack in your hand, you're sunk. just let it go. don't drop it on the floor and start stepping on it. unless you've invented magic anti-cocaine shoes1, stepping on crack doesn't magically turn it back from highly illegal crack to perfectly legal baking soda.
  • if the local constabulary has done their job when they arrest you, they have already informed you that you have a right to remain silent. silent does not mean talking about your stash in the back of the squad car. silent does not mean discussing your plans to lie and say you didn't know what was in the car. silent does not mean discussing how you need a flat-blade screwdriver to get to the crack and crack pipes hidden under the passenger seat of your recently-impounded car. police often have these things called "cameras" in the car, and these new-fangled devices are equipped to capture both video and sound. anything you say can and will be used against you, and you just managed to bust yourselves for crack possession.
that's it for this week's News Crack Smokers Can Use! as always, if you have any strange or stupid tales of the lengths to which people will go to smoke or sell crack, send me an email, drop me a comment, or send it via a test of the emergency broadcasting system.

1 if you have invented those shoes, please let me know! that would definitely be some News Crack Smokers Can Use!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

crack smokers, overheard

one of today's overheard in new york posts was too pertinent not to share:

Annoyed commuter: Shut up, you jobless crackhead piece of shit!
Crackhead: Fuck you, man, I got a job! I sell crack.
--A Train

the contributor didn't provide any information of what became of the crackhead. no matter what happened, though, this vignette provides the groundwork for an important lesson for all crack vendors.

i can totally understand why a crack smoker would want to sell crack...there's a lot to be said for doing what you love. if you love to smoke crack, you can understand why your customers love crack so much and you can take great joy in providing it for them. it's also a job that doesn't wane too badly when the economy is as bad as it is: no matter how the dow, the vix, or any other economic indicator looks, crack smokers are clamoring to smoke more crack.

however, i suggest that you not scream at the top of your lungs in a public place that you are a crack dealer. one of those nice people sitting on the subway train reading a newspaper may be a member of your local constabulary. even if he's not supercop, he probably knows that dealing crack is extremely illegal, and will relish the opportunity to brag to his fellow law enforcement officials that he took one more crack dealer off the streets...or off the subway, as the case may be. it's better to let the people needle you a little bit, keep your big mouth shut, and sell your crack on the down-low.

the hazards of hackerspaces...

the problem with belonging to a hackerspace is that it's such a rich fountain of projects to get involved in, and you wonder how you're going to have time to do them all.

case in point...i'm already working on the twitter bot. my theremin has been on the back burner for a while, but i really need to carry it over to the space, troubleshoot it, and get it working before geek prom on june 13 so i can show it off. the power wheels racing series is right around the corner, and my team needs to start stripping and modifying our vehicle so we can race it on june 20.

and now, thanks to a very generous fellow hackerspace member, i have a shiny new computer. a shiny new old computer: a commodore 128. i've spent my time while waiting for the laundry to get done reading through the programming manual, refreshing my memories of BASIC and trying to soak in the commands that they didn't teach us in eighth grade programming. and, as soon as i bring my tv to the hackerspace (tomorrow?), i want to start screwing around with the music commands, and start composing old-school music on it.

i know i need to get a job again at some point, but working on my personal projects is so much more engaging.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

you're a rorschach test on fire...

proof that i'm not the only one who thought mathnet was the bee's knees:

Crime Scene

i <3 you, xkcd.

(however...-1, my dear randall munroe, for misspelling mandelbrot in the alt-text of the comic.)

facebook weirdness

a rather odd thing happened on facebook today.

no, it wasn't the fact that one of my friends' accounts was captured by a phisher, and sent out messages to everyone on her friends list that they should check out some facebook clone site. sadly, that's all too common. the weird thing is what happened when i tried to tell her what was going on.

i couldn't tell her exactly what the phishing messages said via facebook. i wrote out an email explaining what was going on in detail--the email that i got, what it said, and the results when i researched the website that was being propagated, and found it to be a facebook phishing website. i sent the message to her, and it told me that there was "content that some facebook users found objectionable" in my email, and that i could not send it.

that was weird. am i surprised that facebook can see what i'm sending in my emails? no. but, is it a bit annoying? sure. let's just say that i'm glad that i don't use facebook for any kind of sensitive communication--but, then again, sensitive communication isn't what social networking sites are for.

anyway, i assumed that it was because there was the phish email earlier in the thread, and that it would work fine when i started a new thread. so, i surfed over to her profile and sent the message there. it gave me an "unknown error." finally, frustrated, i edited out any vestiges of the content (read: any specific information that may actually help her point to which particular phishing scammer that ensnared her!), and that went through.

in one sense, i'm a little impressed that within a few minutes of that email, facebook had stopped allowing emails to propagate that phishing site. however, i'm wondering how long they keep the site in their filters, since there were websites definitely older than just this morning that discussed the fact that the site name being propagated (, for the curious) is a phishing scam and not a legitimate website to check.

on the other hand, it's kind of annoying that i can't notify her on facebook of exactly what's going on. i guess that it's not that bad, since i could always use email or IM instead of facebook to notify her. in retrospect, that's what i should have done...sent the full message via email. i'm an idiot when i haven't been out of bed for very long.

now that's thinking with your dipstick!

according to the april 19, 2009 issue of news of the weird:

Biologist Michelle Solensky, of Ohio's College of Wooster, reported late last year in the journal Animal Behavior that male monarch butterflies are such calculating inseminators that they even decide the optimal level of sperm necessary for reproductive advantage. While injecting fluid, the male can "selectively" determine how much of it will be fertility cells, depending on how much residual sperm the female holds from previous suitors (and thus to always inject more than the other guys did). Solensky told New Scientist magazine that the penis acts as a kind of "dip stick" to check the quantity already present. [New Scientist, 1-7-09]

reading this leaves me with one question, and one question only: are you thinking what i'm thinking?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

it's coming...

i present: the most epic event in hackerspaces history:

PPPWRS from Jeff Kantarek on Vimeo.

that's's the Pow-Pow-Power Wheels Racing Series! we're getting together in teams, tricking out Power Wheels, and racing them. i am so excited about this!!!

and, if you're in or near Chicago, and want to start or join a team...let me know!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

brain machine!

i finished my brain machine this afternoon, and took it for a test drive. it works perfectly. i saw lots of pretty colours and shapes, and i was thinking far more clearly once i took the glasses off.

in other words, i'm pretty glad i made it, and now i can take a little trip whenever i need to clear my head.

i'm speaking!

who has two thumbs and is giving a talk at Defcon this year?



i sent in a proposal to speak about legal concerns in starting a hackerspace about a month ago. i thought it would be a timely topic, since hackerspaces have been popping up around the country quite frequently, and there appear to be a lot of groups in america interested in getting them started. furthermore, i have a little bit of experience in helping to get a hackerspace off the ground.

it'll be my first time speaking at a con, and i'm excited.

Monday, May 18, 2009

News Crack Smokers Can Use: May 18, 2009

i failed at life last week, and was so tired from scavhunt and other non crack-related shenanigans that i did not provide the crack smokers of the world with any News. for that, i am sorry. however, i am back, and i have a few new suggestions for how to stay out of trouble. if you're not a crackhead, take pleasure in the fact that you're not as stupid as these people. if you are a can add these things to the list of what not to do if you don't want to get busted for being a crack smoker.

so, without further ado, i present this week's News Crack Smokers Can Use:
  • colour televisions with remote controls are all the rage. they're new, they're hip, and everybody wants them. so, it's no surprise if someone is willing to trade you something valuable for your paragon of cutting-edge technology. however...if you plan to profit from your ownership of such a fantastic contraption, i suggest that you trade it for money, or for some other contraption that does not run afoul of the law. please refrain from trading that television for crack. any crack smoker worth his salt should know by now that if a crack dealer wanted a new-fangled colour television, he would either steal it (if he were extra-sneaky or extra-stupid) or purchase it with all of that money that he is making from his crack dealing operation. giving anything more traceable than cash money to a crack dealer is only asking for trouble.
  • speaking of the hottest new trends, the year is now 1995, and some people have discovered that baggy pants are cool. however, if you're carrying crack in your baggy jeans, wearing a belt may be a good idea. otherwise, if the police see you leaving a crackhouse and take a little interest in you, your pants may fall down when you raise your arms during the search. not only might it be a little embarrassing for the cops to see your drawers, but that crack you just bought in the crackhouse may fall out of your pockets for all the world to see. take it from me: this is a stiff price to pay for the privilege of being on board with the hottest decade-and-a-half-year-old fashion trend.
  • part of being a crack dealer is actually selling the crack that you have offered up for sale. in fact, that is the very thing that makes you a crack dealer. you are providing a valuable service to the crack-smoking public, and you're doing the world no good if you run away as soon as your customer has shown up to the door. it's irrelevant whether you get bad vibes from your new client or not--you have nothing to lose by going through with the deal. if you think your customer is a member of your local constabulary, and you're right, he already knows your location and your cracktastic vocation, and will haul you off to jail whether you sell the crack to him or run away. if you are wrong, and the customer is just a run-of-the-mill crack smoker, the crack smoker will either bust a cap in your ass, tell his crack smoking friends that you don't actually sell crack [thus eviscerating your business's reputation], or both. you have nothing to lose by selling the crack--and everything to lose by running away.
  • frequent readers of the News should know that it's usually a futile endeavour to run from the cops after they have caught you with crack. unless you're extremely sneaky and a champion runner, you're probably going to get caught. however, if you eschew most common sense and decide to run from Officer Friendly, at least try to run along a route with relatively few obstructions, or with obstructions that you know well but may slow down the police just a bit. whatever you do, try to avoid getting clotheslined by an honest-to-God clothesline. if you do that, you're not only going to get arrested, but you're going to look like a charter member of the Keystone Krack-smokers.
that's it for this week's News Crack Smokers Can Use! as always, if you have any strange or stupid tales of the lengths to which people will go to smoke or sell crack, send me an email, drop me a comment, or print it on a sign and wave it near the corner of addison and southport later this afternoon.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


i'm at ps:one. showing on the projector is an old teenage mutant ninja turtles cartoon...with german subtitles.

i don't know what's more wtf: the subtitles, or the actual english dialogue.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


i'm back in chicago from an epic road trip around tennessee and kentucky.

more details later, since road trip judgment is in five minutes, and then regular judgment.

wish us luck.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

the south?!

road trip rendezvous is in an hour.

we're going to dress up in costumes that are strange hybrids of greek gods and southern characters, and take a ride down to kentucky and tennessee.

the south won't know what it it.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

scav: the prequel

it's the calm before the storm.

it's 3:30 in the afternoon, i'm sitting at GASH HQ, and all is quiet. people are resting, working, meandering.

in eight and a half hours, all will be madness. in eight and a half hours, the scavhunt list comes out, and it will be four days of focus on it--and detachment from everything else.

bring it on.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

this is [sic].

if you've ever had to deal with the clusterfuck that is the blue book, today's courtoon is brilliant.

DEFCON mystery challenge

the DEFCON mystery challenge sounds like it's going to be ten kinds of amazing. they suggest teams of five.

of course, the question is--who's in on this with me????

Monday, May 04, 2009

News Crack Smokers Can Use: May 4, 2009

usually i do about four stories a week. however, april showers bring may flowers, and this may, the true stupidity of the crack smoking public is flowering like never before. the seedy depths of the interwebstubes have provided a bumper crop of stupid things people have done this week in the name of crack, and i'm passing the savings [and edification!] on to you. if you're not a crackhead, take pleasure in the fact that you're not as stupid as these people. if you are a can add these things to the list of what not to do if you don't want to get busted for being a crack smoker.

so, without further ado, i present this week's News Crack Smokers Can Use:
  • a recurring theme in the News is the fact that having or selling crack is illegal. it's a basic legal principle that if something is illegal, and Officer Friendly sees you doing that particular thing, he can put you under arrest and haul you to jail. [in fact, he doesn't even need that much--but probable cause is a little more complicated, and this is Criminal Law 101 For Crack Smokers.] this is why it is so crucial to smoke or sell your crack covertly--so the cops don't see you. in doesn't take a "Supercop" to end your crack dealing career if you're selling it in the parking lot of the local police station. [a big persecuted crack smoker thank you to Rob for this tip!]
  • being the victim of an armed robbery sucks, whether you are a crack smoker or not. however, you may want to think twice about involving the local constabulary in the case if you were using that robbed house as a large-scale crack cooking operation. keep in mind that if the police know you were robbed, they'll probably want to search the house for evidence. if you don't let them search the house for evidence, they'll think something's fishy. if they notice people carrying bags of crack from the house to a known crack house, they'll *know* something's fishy. so, if your crack factory is robbed...either let it slide, or remove all traces of your crack factory before even thinking about telling the cops.
  • "it's not my crack" is a pretty weak defense as it is. usually, if you're at the point where the police have found a cigarette pack full of crack rolled up in your pants, you're sunk. if you tell the police that it's not your crack, it won't negate the fact that you were carrying it, and you're in trouble. this week, we learn that even if it was counterfeit crack you were carrying in your pants, "it's not my crack" will never work. why? most crack smokers aren't aware, but it's a crime in most places to carry counterfeit crack. so, despite your protestations, the police will test it...and if they find that it's not real crack, you're in trouble even though your claim that it wasn't your crack was technically correct. [a big persecuted crack smoker thanks to Taryn for this tip!]
  • i know that many people find pez dispensers to be kitschy and awesome. some people may find them so interesting that you want to see how it feels like to be one. however, if you ever feel the need to channel your inner pez dispenser, i suggest you try it with pez candies, jolly ranchers, plastic toys, or something else that's legal. if you're a crack dealer, and you're standing out on the street popping crack out of your mouth like you're a pez dispenser...that might arouse a little suspicion.
  • paying for medical care is far more difficult than it should be nowadays, and doctors who try to make it easier for their clients to get the care that they need should generally be applauded. however, there's a difference between flexible payment schemes and leveraging your position as a doctor to get free crack. i know it sounds easy and painless to go to the local crack house and trade pain pill prescriptions for your precious crack rocks, but there may be repercussions. doctors are in a position of trust, and you're not going to gain a lot of business if your clients find out that you're smoking crack in your spare time. sure, you get free crack for a couple of weeks, but then you're just going to lose your job and go to jail.
  • if you're drinking beer, don't drink natty ice. if you put a picture of yourself on your cell phone wallpaper, don't hold up a big chunk of weed in the picture. if you're carrying crack, don't tell the cops you're not carrying anything illegal, but then consent to a search. if you're carrying crack in a cigar tube, don't tell the policeman who is searching you that all you're carrying is a cigar tube. at least this walking Don't Be This Guy got two things right: he's stupid, and his grandma definitely won't be pleased.
that's it for this week's News Crack Smokers Can Use! as always, if you have any strange or stupid tales of the lengths to which people will go to smoke or sell crack, send me an email, drop me a comment, or corner me at the happiest place on earth.

enough of this swine flu crud already...

the only excuse for kissing with swine flu masks on is if you're doing it ironically.

otherwise...just stop it. far more people come down with normal flu than swine flu--and more people die of regular flu than swine flu. the whole "omgpandemic!" thing is media fearmongering, no more and no less.

before this whole swine flu mess, you weren't going to put a mask on to kiss someone just because you heard through the grapevine that a person several states away got garden-variety flu. so, the fact that people are freaking out so much about this swine flu thing just annoys me, and reminds me how susceptible stupid people are to anything that the media talks about a lot.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

a notacon recap, finally...

and, just in case that lockpicking video i posted a few days ago was not enough, i've got another video of shenanigans in which i partook at notacon. this time, it's me doing a speech at "whose slide is it anyway"...a completely improvised speech based on powerpoint slides i hadn't seen until i was in front of the crowd. it was a blast to do. :)

speaking of that, i still haven't posted a proper recap of notacon. it was madcap, like any good trip to a con should be. as has become my modus operandi, i didn't make it to very many talks. the three i attended were fantastic, however: an amateur radio talk by Chris Pilkington, a talk on data encoding on magnetic stripes by Matt Neely, and a talk on social network bots by Tom Eston. the social networking bot one was especially interesting, since i've done some playing around with twitter bots before. it's awesome to know that there are more people out there who are interested in playing around with them...and, since Tom is putting together an open source project based around improving n0tab0t, i'm going to collaborate and contribute.

other than the talks, i spent most of my time socializing. cons are great, in that i get to see friends with whom i don't get to hang out IRL enough, and that i get to meet great new friends as well. awesome things at notacon included [but were not limited to, since i'm inclined to forget things at 3am...] the following...
  • epic hotel room parties that eventually migrated onto the roof of the building.
  • playing lots and lots of rock band...and winning the title for "rockingest band." we did "you oughta know", and i flailed around and acted like a psycho-bitch as i sang. Rob was up to all kinds of shenanigans, too...i can't wait for that video to hit the internet, so i can post it here. we also won some great swag...including thirty-six bottles of Bawls, a clock made out of a 5.25" floppy, some computer books, and a pillow made out of a t-shirt from woodstock '99. [yes, i made off with the t-shirt pillow--none of my bandmates were such children of the nineties as i.]
  • playing a game of pandemic with two guys i had never met before.
  • hanging out in the hackerspaces room, and soldering together a little game with a microcontroller that i can reprogram as soon as i get a avr cable.
  • having the revelation, when Mitch Altman was showing me the code of the microcontroller game, that it was just C--and that i could read the program and follow what it was doing.
  • getting over my anxiety about preparing CFP submissions, thanks to Tottenkoph.
  • rocking out to some Dual Core, and getting to hear a few of their new tracks, which are completely awesome.
  • seeing some riffraff. <3
speaking of riffraff, time for me to leave for o'hare. hasta la byebye!