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?