So, this happened at NOAA

Sep. 4th, 2012 | 11:08 am


Poor Kirk.

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I went to YouTube for videos, not to be sold fantasy porn

Aug. 13th, 2012 | 03:30 pm

I cannot even. How is this relevant to my interests, and who in the hell thought it was appropriate in the first place?

image cut in case you don't want it in your face nowCollapse )

I understand that gaming not exactly known for its positive feminist values at the moment, despite the good work of many. But really YouTube? You really thought this was an appropriate ad to display to a random, not even logged in viewer? Fail, in a very large way.

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Watching the Olympics on BBC: Onion router setup

Jul. 31st, 2012 | 10:59 pm

[personal profile] synecdochic has some good instructions on using TunnelBear to set up a VPN to watch BBC Olympics coverage. It probably works well, but it costs. A free alternative is to use the Onion router: http://torproject.org. This may be a little lower bandwidth than using a VPN solution, but it is free (Tor traffic may be blocked by some ISPs, however). I have just set up Tor on my Mac using Firefox, and it's showing BBC coverage pretty well at this point.

The configuration for Tor is just a touch non-standard, but not hard to do. Similar steps may work for non-Mac systems, but haven't been tested. YMMV. Instructions follow:

  1. Go to the Tor project and download the Vidalia bundle for Mac: https://www.torproject.org/download/download.html.en (You want the Vidalia bundle instead of the Tor Browser bundle because you want to still be able to use Adobe Flash through the browser - that's how the BBC video is played.)

  2. Open the download file and copy the Vidalia application to your Applications folder.

  3. Start Vidalia.

  4. In the Vidalia window, click on Settings, and then click on the Advanced tab in the settings window.

  5. Click on Edit current torrc and put the following in to your torrc (yes, I know this scrolls off to the right, you want that long line in your configuration):
    ControlPort 9051
    DirReqStatistics 0
    ExcludeNodes {ad},{ae},{af},{ag},{ai},{al},{am},{ao},{aq},{ar},{as},{at},{au},{aw},{ax},{az},{ba},{bb},{bd},{be},{bf},{bg},{bh},{bi},{bj},{bm},{bn},{bo},{bq},{bq},{br},{bs},{bt},{bv},{bw},{by},{bz},{ca},{cc},{cd},{cf},{cg},{ch},{ci},{ck},{cl},{cm},{cn},{co},{cr},{cu},{cv},{cw},{cx},{cy},{cz},{de},{dj},{dm},{do},{dz},{ec},{ee},{eg},{eh},{er},{es},{et},{fi},{fj},{fk},{fm},{fo},{ga},{gd},{ge},{gf},{gg},{gh},{gi},{gl},{gm},{gn},{gp},{gq},{gr},{gs},{gt},{gu},{gw},{gy},{hk},{hm},{hn},{hr},{ht},{hu},{id},{il},{im},{in},{io},{iq},{ir},{is},{it},{je},{jm},{jo},{jp},{ke},{kg},{kh},{ki},{km},{kn},{kp},{kr},{kw},{ky},{kz},{la},{lb},{lc},{li},{lk},{lr},{ls},{lt},{lu},{lv},{ly},{ma},{mc},{md},{me},{mf},{mg},{mh},{mk},{ml},{mm},{mn},{mo},{mp},{mq},{mr},{ms},{mt},{mu},{mv},{mw},{mx},{my},{mz},{na},{nc},{ne},{nf},{ng},{ni},{nl},{no},{np},{nr},{nu},{nz},{om},{pa},{pe},{pf},{pg},{ph},{pk},{pl},{pm},{pn},{pr},{ps},{pt},{pw},{py},{qa},{re},{ro},{rs},{ru},{rw},{sa},{sb},{sc},{sd},{sg},{sh},{si},{sj},{sk},{sl},{sm},{sn},{so},{sr},{ss},{st},{sv},{sx},{sy},{sz},{tc},{td},{tf},{tg},{th},{tj},{tk},{tl},{tm},{tn},{to},{tr},{tt},{tv},{tw},{tz},{ua},{ug},{um},{uy},{uz},{va},{vc},{ve},{vg},{vi},{vn},{vu},{wf},{ws},{ye},{yt},{za},{zm},{zw}
    ExitNodes {gb}
    Log notice stdout

    (This configuration tells Tor to leave its network in the GB (Great Britain) country and to exclude from its network almost all countries except US, Great Britain, Ireland, France, Denmark, and Sweden. This should reduce the amount of globe trotting your traffic will do as it goes through the Tor network, which should make streaming video from the BBC better.)

  6. Close the torrc window and the Settings window and stop and restart Tor.

  7. In your web browser (tested with Firefox), open the configuration settings that tell it how to connect to the internet (or what proxies to use). In Firefox, this is Settings -> Advanced tab -> Network sub-tab -> Settings button (next to Configure how Firefox connects to the internet).

  8. Use the following proxy settings:

    • Host: localhost (or

    • Port: 9050

    (This tells your browser to connect to the Tor connection on your own computer that Vidalia has set up.)

  9. Go to the BBC Olympics web site: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/olympics/2012/live-video

  10. Find an event/video to watch, and start it playing. You may need to upgrade Adobe Flash player and restart your browser.

  11. When the video starts playing, right or control-click on the video to bring up the Flash menu. Choose Settings..., and uncheck Enable hardware acceleration. (I'm not sure why this setting makes a difference, but the BBC's own web help for Mac suggests this in case you are seeing blue and green squares instead of video content, and it seems to work for me.)

  12. Reload the page, start the video, and hopefully you're now enjoying a better Olympics experience.

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I hold these to be self evident

Dec. 16th, 2011 | 07:56 am

Having just finished the two Exiles (Mageborn) books by Melanie Rawn...

Spoilers have been warded six ways from RykaCollapse )

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It's meme time

Aug. 19th, 2011 | 09:21 pm

Via [personal profile] such_heights because, why not?

The one who seduced you, screwed you over, broke your heart in a million pieces, and laughed about it.

FOX. I guess that's cheating, isn't it? Mostly they don't break my heart and laugh about it, though - they usually just fizzle. ST:DS9, Torchwood, X Files.

The old flame you don't see very often any more but whom you still really enjoy getting together with for a few drinks and maybe a pleasant nostalgic romp:

ST:TNG, prolly. Picard, Riker, and Crusher are always welcome in my bed.

The mysterious dark one whom you used to sit up with talking until 3 AM at weird coffee houses and with whom you were quite smitten until you realized s/he really was fucking crazy:

BSG, probably definitely. Possibly also Blakes 7.

The one you spent a whole weekend in bed with and who drank up all your liquor and whom you'd still really like to get with again, although you're relieved s/he doesn't actually live in town:

I think BSG fits this one, too? Certainly they drank up all the liquor. Max Headroom would fit here, except they didn't drink the liquor - they reprogrammed every blasted electronic device in the house and crashed the coffee pot. I don't know how the heck they managed that, but they did. IT'S TALKING TO ME.

The steady:

Doctor Who. Or possibly B5.

The alluring stranger whom you've flirted with at parties but have never gotten really serious with:

Buffy. Oddly enough, prolly also Xena. ;)

The one you hang out with and have vague fantasies about maybe having a thing with, but ultimately you're just good buddies:

LOTR? I mean, I'm not sure - LOTR ought to fit in here somewhere, but it's also just sort of like the fabric of the universe, yanno?

The one your friends keep introducing you to and who seems like a hell of a cool person except it's never really gone anywhere:

Farscape... I keep meaning to go further. I really like it...

The one who's slept with all your friends, and you keep looking at them and thinking, "How the hell did they land all these cool people?"

Supernatural. I ... I'm just not seeing it.

The one who gave you the best damned summer of your life and against whom you measure all other potential partners:

Oh, right. This would be B5. Ahem. Whoo.

The one you recently met at a party and would like to get to know better:

Sherlock. Ahem.

The old flame that you wouldn't totally object to hooking up with again for a one night romp if only they'd clean up a bit:

Hrmmmm... Red Dwarf. Definitely needs to clean up a bit.

Your hot new flame:

Sherlock. Ahem.

The one who stole your significant other:

The Phillies. *snicker*

Adding one, 'cause I just need to:

The one that got away and you miss them terribly:


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My password scheme, let me show you it

Aug. 10th, 2011 | 02:17 pm

So, in the wake of xkcd and looking at discussions about it, I present the way I tend to think up new passphrases. This tends to work on all the systems where I use passwords that I type frequently - my laptop, the unix hosts at work, and even our intranet site. It falls over a bit in a number of web systems that for whatever arcane reasons don't like spaces or unusual punctuation in the passwords (by unusual, I include ";" - yes, I've seen this *headdesk*). And then there are the financial systems that somehow think a 7 digit PIN has more entropy than an 8 character 3DES-hashed password that can use all 52 letters plus digits plus most of the punctuation. But I digress.

Yes, it's hard to think up truly random words. We're all influenced by our environment. The trick is, next week when you're shoulder surfing me type my password, you have no idea what my environment was at the time I made the password. You don't know that I had salad for lunch. Also, I tend to make up words, which tends to throw a blaernt into the thnog of shoulder surfers. And then, I throw in a few substitutions, to spice things up. Practice and change it around until it's easy to type.


"salad" is not too hard to type, and it's in my head (well, my tummy) now. But it could be better. Maybe "[alad". Yes, that works. In my head, I pronounce that "thalad."

"alter." Where the hell did that come from? But that's too many a's and I need a capital in here somewhere. "Olter" it is.

[alad Olter
[alad Olter

Yes, that seems to be working. I think I just heard my coworkers talking about Rebugnicans. thugnicans. Effing ugicans. 4nugicans. Ooh, I like that. "4nugican"

[alad Olter 4nugican
[alad Olter 4nugican
[alad Olter 4nugican

"thalad olter fnugican" is what it sounds like in my head. Let's try it a couple more times, now that I've gotten up to whack my cube-mate's laptop because the fan was making sickly noises.

[alad Olter 4nugican

Hrm. That 4 seems to be a bit of a reach for my fingers. But Active Directory is going to want a number in there. Hrm.

[alad Olter 2nugican 4nugican

Yanno, there are times when I dislike the fact that all the easy to type punctuation is on the right side of the keyboard.

[alad Olter 9widick
[alad Olter 9widick

I wonder what the heck a "shwidick" is. I probably don't want to think about it too much.

[alad Olter 9widick
[alad Olter 9widick

Ok, I think I can get used to this one.

In general, the strategy is this:

1. Pick some words.
2. Make sure they're easy to type.
3. Throw in some fun stuff - substitutions, inserting digits or punctuation, or making up words.
4. Make sure it's still easy to type.
5. (Not mentioned above) Store it in your password vault. You do have one of those, right? And it's not just a text file, right? Here's a tip: every MacOS X user out there has a built in password vault called Keychain Access. It encrypts your passwords, limits access, and can be used for arbitrary things, not just your login stuff. It even has a password strength estimator. Even better, it has a password generator (with your choice of different algorithms). Unless you're looking for cross-device synchronization, there's no reason to look any further. It comes as part of the OS.

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(no subject)

Aug. 9th, 2011 | 09:47 pm

OMG. xkcd is what I've been trying to tell people for years. Information security uh-huh. You keep using that p4s5w0rd. I don't think it is as secure as you think it is.

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Welcome home, Atlantis

Jul. 21st, 2011 | 06:42 am

Yes, we were geeky enough to set an alarm for 2:15 this morning and watch as Atlantis made its last flight over the south Pacific, hit atmosphere, come in over Central America, Cuba, and Florida, and make a spectacularly peaceful landing just before dawn. I don't have a whole lot of words, but there's a point in this video of the landing, about 26 seconds in, just after the landing gear has hit, where they're looking back at the bright lights at the end of the runway and you can just see Atlantis in the pre-dawn light, that is a wonderful image. I hope someone got a high quality shot of that, because I'd put it on my desktop if I could find it.

Welcome home, Atlantis, and good bye shuttle program. I will miss you.

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So long, Atlantis - may you touch the stars

Jul. 8th, 2011 | 09:27 am

There is something about a spaceflight launch, whether it be a Saturn V (which I never saw live) or a shuttle, that is so overwhelmingly impressive that it always brings tears to my eyes. The power of leaving Earth, with the dream of going places impossibly far away. I would dearly love to have been to Cape Canaveral to watch one right there, in person. But even watching TV or streaming video is impressive enough. I watched, when I was little, in the lunchroom at my mom's work when the shuttle landed on its very first mission. The image is burned into my mind's eye - the big white bird ungainly drifting down to Earth. I recorded a VHS tape of the launch that sent the Galileo probe to Jupiter. I remember the horror in junior high, when a teacher came in to tell us of that first tragedy, and I remember the similar horror of the second, years later. But there were so many good points.

I may not have been the shuttle's most avid fan, but I kept tabs on it. NASA and the space program are a little bit like science fiction, except they're real. They are part of us that are actually reaching out there and trying to touch the stars. I'm a bit like Amy up there, watching the rockets and waiting to head out with them, even if only in heart.

May we never stop reaching for the stars.

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Calendula to a good home

Jul. 5th, 2011 | 08:36 pm

I have about a bazillion calendula seeds. They're currently the main plant flowering in our front yard (along with some poppies and monkey flower). The pictures there at Wikipedia are a good bit yellower than what I've got - mine are more orange like the poppy in my icon (really, the same color). So, if anyone wants some calendula seeds, let me know, and I can send you some. They're extraordinarily easy to grow, they self seed pretty well, and they bloom for a long time. And even the seed heads look pretty cool. Willing to mail a packet of seeds wherever.

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