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.