Beige.. I think I’ll paint the universe beige…

Filed in QuickiesTags: , ,

Or at least a nice latte color.

While staring up at that black sky (or rather, the light grey sky if you’re near a big city.. damned light polluters!) think about this:

The sky is a light latte color.  More specifically, a “Cosmic Latte” color.

For a more scientific explanation and a good demonstration of what happens when a bunch of astronomers and astrophysicists get bored: Go to the original article here: The Cosmic Spectrum and the Color of the Universe

On the character of Wesley Crusher

Filed in SF&F, Star TrekTags: , ,

Or the things that float through my mind while watching paint dry servers build.

(pure unedited stream of consciousness)

Wesley could have been such a great character..  starts out at about 10-11 years old at beginning of the show.. adhd, very easily frustrated by the stupid adults around him, explores everything anywhere, often getting into trouble.  Not a ‘whiz kid fix it by the end of the show deus-ex-wesleya.  Just a hyper intelligent brat.

As the show progresses and he ages, he is drawn to Data, Geordi, etc.. because they’re at least smart enough to keep up and take a bit of interest.  He still gets more and more withdrawn into his own world and studies.  Spends inordinate amount of time hyperfocused on whatever interests him at that point, often triggered by some minor or major thing going on around him.   Driven to prove himself their equal or better.

By mid series he’s 15-16 and really hitting both his mental stride (outstripping even geordi on theory at times, if not necessarly practical application) and spending more and more time alone.   Gets kind of scary at times, intense, focused, extremely impatient with anyone and anythign that interrupts him.

Outwardly, it looks almost bipolar with grandiosity, bouts of isolation / depression / moodiness with sudden bursts of energy and effusive megalomania.    What’s really going on is the hyper focus vs. exploration and searching for the next problem to solve.

near end series, he’s old enough to be a civilian part of the science teams and working on and off with data, et al..  Starts encountering some of the aliens of the week and from that encounters Q who takes a bit of interest in him.   End series includes Q introducing wesley to the ‘ascended’ one who takes him away for further study and growth, etc…   He ‘Graduates’ from his mere human limits and eventually becomes one of the great scientific minds.

Very good, solid arc for that character.   Would have taken writing a 6-7 year arc for him, but could have been done.  He wouldn’t have been in every episode except maybe in the background or a passing moment in 10-forward.  If that.

Take out the Q factor and just have him, on his own, communicating on-line with other scientists, theoreticians, etc… and one of them agrees to sponsor him to something like the equivalent of the MIT or some hyper-think tank or some such.  No big finish, no ‘Wesley’s a god now’ or other bullshit.  Just the normal life arc for a hyper intelligent military brat.

Ping, Traceroute and Trinity’s Leather Clad Butt

Filed in Guest Post, WendiTags: , , , , ,

Over dinner one night, I tried to explain ping, traceroute and portscan to my wife.   This is what came from that conversation.   This is *her* interpretation and yes, I married her.  You can’t have her.*

(A guest post by my lovely wife: Wendi)

This is what happens when I ask Scott to explain something.

I am now going to horrify every honest to god computer geek I have that reads this.

…that, or you’re going to die laughing. At me, or with me, it’s all good.

I asked Scott about “tracert” and “ping” and “ports”; he tried to explain that. Unfortunately, my brain works best with some very visual metaphors. So this is what I came away from that conversation with, presented here for your amusement.

“Ping” is a chore. This chore is performed by Bit (the little Yes/No guy from the original Tron). You tell Bit to… say… drive to DismalLand, find out why the fuck the lines are so long, and come back. When Bit comes back and says”Because it’s DismalLand, the Tragic Kingdom, dummy. The lines are always long!” the Ping chore is complete.

Now, there are a lot of hazards between you and DismalLand. Some of it is bad road, some of it is bad drivers, some of it is that incredibly STUPID civil engineer who designed the fucking roads. I like to think that some of those hazards might include Jack Sparrow driving a parade float pirate ship, and he’s being chased by a other pirates – either the kinds with swords in their teeth, or the kinds who are busily downloading cars and purses and stuff off the intarwebs. And then there’s DHS, who are kind of like the Keystone Cops but with more guns and stuff.So to navigate all those things, Bit turns into Trinity from the Matrix. Probably on a motorcycle. I picked her because her leatherclad ass is amazing. Plus, she has guns and kung fu, and that picture is a lot more interesting.

Now, maybe you don’t trust Bit. Maybe Bit ran off with your best friend like a two dollar whore this onetime. Maybe Bit is a pathological liar. Maybe Bit is the Godspouse of Tinkerbell and easily distracted. Who knows? But you think Bit is really damn flaky. So you hire some guy named TraceRoute.

TraceRoute’s job is to follow Bit around EVERYWHERE AND REPORT EVERYTHING. “Bit’s left turn signal came on at 10:15:00. Bit merged into the left lane at 10:15:20. Bit took her hands off the handlebars and blew the living shit out of Jack Sparrow’s parade float at 10:16:31.” So when Bit comes back, Bit comes back with an attitude and a ream of paper that details every time she did anything, ever.

So then you ask about the “ports”. Ports are basically like doors.

I’m going to massively change metaphors here.

Say you’re in a whorehouse. There are many doors. And behind each door is a different thing. Blowjobs behind this door, handjobs behind that door, goatse behind the other door, and thank all the gods of network traffic that the Etsy Cupcake Circle Jerk door is always locked. Naturally, all these doors are closed. Some of them are locked all the time, some are unlocked all the time, some are only locked when something fun is happening, and sometimes some asshole with a master key runs through and just randomly locks and unlocks shit to piss you off.

You can make Bit go check this for you,too. That way, YOU don’t have to suffer surprise goatse. Bit deserves it, the bitch. There’s about three different ways this can happen,but they’re all called PortScan.

There’s a doorman/bouncer at all those ports.

This bouncer is called…



A DAEMON (This part is an inside joke to a particular forum. Don’t worry about it if you don’t get why that is side splittingly funny)


*You can’t have her unless you ask her nicely.

Ebay hacked. Change your passwords.

Filed in SecurityTags: , ,

(edit: s/Changed/Change/g)

Maybe I should turn this into a security blog.  Seems I can’t go a week or three without a post about yet another major corporation getting hacked.  This time it’s Ebay.   Took them a couple of months to figure it out too.

What makes this one extra special is that it wasn’t through some SSL bug or other exploit.  It was through compromised (week?  social engineered?) employee passwords.

They got hacked back in March. and only discovered it a couple of weeks ago and announced it today.

Though no Credit card or bank info was in the compromised database, enough info on there for a good shot at identity theft was:

“The database, which was compromised between late February and early March, included eBay customers’ name, encrypted password, email address, physical address, phone number and date of birth.”

Ebay’s blog post about it at the link below.

New GNU Screen – 4.2.1 – first in 6 years.

Filed in LinuxTags: , ,

For all you console junkies (the command console, not that WeePlayBOne thing), Amadeusz Sławiński and friends have released the first new update to GNU Screen in six years.  I’ve pulled the source and compiled it (under CentOS 6.5, GCC 4.4.7, Kernel 2.6.32, bash 4.1.2).

You can find the new source here: GNU Screen 4.2.1

I’ll be putting the new options and features through their paces over the next few days as I go about my day to day Ops duties.  I use screen much more now than in the past, so this should be an adventure.

I’m interested in hearing other’s take on the new features.  Drop them in the comments below.




And the hits keep on rolling.. AOL hacked; passwords taken.

Filed in SecurityTags: , ,

And the Internet Security Trifecta is complete.   AOL announced on their blog today that they have “determined that there was unauthorized access to information regarding a significant number of user accounts“.  The information access includes “users’ email addresses, postal addresses, address book contact information, encrypted passwords and encrypted answers to security questions.

So head on out to AOL and change your passwords and sec questions.   Might want to change any passwords for any sites you use AOL email as the security contact for as well.


And… Another one. This time in Flash.

Filed in Linux, Microsoft, OS-X, SecurityTags: , , , , ,

Look.  Another security exploit.  This time in that bastion of ultimate security.. er.. hang on.. what’s this?  It’s in Flash?  This is news?  Oh, a *NEW* one in Flash.  Got it.

Ok.  Where were we?  Looks like another security vuln in the wild.  This one’s in Flash and effects all three major OSes.  Yep, that’s right you penguins..  Linux is included in this one.  So get your YUM and APT repos spun up and update those boxen.

Krebs has the details here: Adobe Update Nixes Flash Player Zero Day

So there you have it.  Two major web exploitable vulns in two days.  Waiting for the other two shoes to drop; Java and Acrobat.

PS: Is it strange that I’m using a terminal window to cut/paste text from websites to strip it of hidden formatting?  Yes?  It is?  Good.

Code execution flaw in ALL versions of IE since 6.

Filed in Microsoft, SecurityTags: , , , ,

April has been the month of monumental holes in security on the net.  First there was Heartbleed (and as always, XKCD has a great explanation of what the Heartbleed vulnerability is:

Not to be outdone by a mere open source project, Microsoft has announced a new 0-day vulnerability in all versions of IE since IE 6.  How you can call something “0-day” when it’s been there 12 or 13 years I’m still kind of fuzzy on.

As I understand the bug, it allows an attacker to use a specifically crafted html page execute arbitrary code on the user’ machine under the credentials IE was assigned at launch.   If you’re running as an administrator (who does that in Windows??), you’re pretty much wide open.

Microsoft released a tech bulletin about the flaw over the weekend that goes into a bit of depth about the flaw and lists what versions of IE are vulnerable.  Basically all of them.  If you’re running Server 2008 R2 or later, you *should* be ok if you’re still running IE under limited credentials.

The bulletin is here: Microsoft Security Advisory 2963983

Microsoft hasn’t released a patch yet, but I suspect we’ll see something in a day or so as an out-of-band release.  I can’t imagine even Microsoft waiting around for this one.


A short rant about Amazon’s EC2.

Filed in Amazon EC2, CloudTags: , , ,

Intellectually I understand why, but “Why can’t I change the Security Group of an instance after I built it?”  WHY??????????????

It sucks working a couple of hours to troubleshoot a group of servers only to find that you picked the wrong sec group for them.  Kill em and start over is the only answer I can find.

If some of you big brains out there have a solution, drop me a hint in the comments.


About those Hugos.

Filed in Hugos, SF&F, UncategorizedTags: , , , ,

There has been quite kerfuffle going on all over the blogs and facebooks and twitters about this year’s Hugo Award nominations.   Rather than confine myself to short quips or not so short screeds buried in a dozen blogs or facebook threads, I’ll just leave my thoughts here.

Some links about the Hugo Kerfuffle.  From there you can dive as deep into this issue as you want.  Ultimately, it all started with a flare up over some presenter for the awards being not politically correct enough for a certain vocal minority of SF&F readers.

Ok, enough.  Links:

I’m sure there are other links out there.  Go google them for yourself.

Now my take on all of this:

Something that bears remembering is how the Hugo nominations work.    Anyone (and I do mean *anyone*) with $40 or $50 can purchase an associate level membership to WorldCon and nominate their choice for the Hugos.  That’s it.  It’s a popularity contest, decided by *the READERS and FANS* of the SF&F genre.

How did Vox Day and Larry Correia and other such “controversial” authors make it onto the ballot this year?   Fans.  Their fans voted them there.   That’s it.

Now, as to whether the Hugo administrators should *let* someone with controversial views onto a ballot, I am firmly in the camp of “if the votes are there, they’re on the list”.

Where has SF&F genre fiction gone when something as trivial as contrary political or social views of an author, or even a book, leads to such an outcry of “burn him!” within the fandom communities?

SF&F is about pushing boundaries, testing ideas, playing with mores and social constructs, expanding horizons.   It is also, and much more importantly, about entertainment.

Each of us, as a purchaser and reader, must make a value judgement when we set out to exchange our energy for the energy of the author.   Energy in the form of our money and his effort to put a story down on paper.   We have to ask ourselves if the return we get from this book, be it entertainment, education, etc..  is of more value to us than the energy (ie.. money, time to drive to library, etc..) we must expend to acquire it.

If not, then don’t.  The reason, outside your own decision, is irrelevant.  It simply does not and can not matter to another human why you made that choice.

The people screaming from the top of the blogosphere with all their voice and pageviews about these two and a few select other authors have done just the opposite of what they want to happen.  They’ve given them a platform and a notoriety they otherwise would have had to expend significant amounts of their own energy to attain.

Calls for boycotts, ‘approved’ and ‘disapproved’ lists for awards or conventions or panels, reeks of McCarthyism.  “He doesn’t toe the line on XYZ! Burn him!”.

I had hoped that in 2014, we were beyond that.  I had hoped that, finally, in an era of communications technologies undreamed of by the greats of SF&F just two generations ago, we had gone beyond the nanny-ism I’m seeing.   “He offended me!  Make him stop!”

So I say to you, read what you want to read.  Recommend what you want to recommend.  Complain about what you want to complain about.  I’ll defend you to any power you name.  But gods help you if you deny my right to do the same.


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May 2024