Bruce Scheneir, you rock my world.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that the majority of security experts out there are as stupid as you'd expect someone who got a 2 week "diploma" and then worked his way up through the ranks by dozing off in a parking garage. I mean, what the fuck does a "yellow alert" mean? I presume they simply want us to all be a little less scared than the almost status-quo "orange alert". God forbid we ever have to deal with a "fuscia alert" because clearly then we'll be attacked by well dressed young men of disturbingly ambivilant sexuality. And then I read Bruce Schenier and regain all my respect for the security industry. Well, not really, I still think they're a bunch of useless, self important morons who derive their entire self-worth from wearing a uniform, but at least I dig Bruce. "The point of terrorism is to cause terror, sometimes to further a political goal and sometimes out of sheer hatred. The people terrorists kill are not the targets; they are collateral damage. And blowing up planes, trains, markets or buses is not the goal; those are just tactics. The real targets of terrorism are the rest of us: the billions of us who are not killed but are terrorized because of the killing. The real point of terrorism is not the act itself, but our reaction to the act. " Way to knock it home. Now if only it weren't in the self-interest of the American Oligarchy... er... I mean, "government" to keep the public so distracted that they don't quite get around to impeaching those who so clearly deserve it. But wait... Bruce is still on his A game. "Our job is to think critically and rationally, and to ignore the cacophony of other interests trying to use terrorism to advance political careers or increase a television show's viewership."


Hyping it up

The Hype Machine has butt-ugly web-design, but it's content is stunning. I've had a hard time trying to keep myself dialed into music since moving from Toronto out here, but at least with the hype machine I get the odd tidbit from interesting bands. I wonder when they'll go all web 2.0 and start offering me recommendations from people with "similar" tastes. And more interestingly, I wonder when/if those recommendations will be better than the recommendations that iTunes spits out at me. Hmmmm...


OMFG sexy editor alert!

Wow. I mean... wow. All this time I thought SubEthaEdit was cool... http://macromates.com/screencast/scopes_and_comments.mov Wow.


picture guide to crossover cables

Who was telling me that geeks aren't lonely horn-dogs??? Yeah, right...


Pretty picture of databases

The much loved
postgresql_autodoc -t dot
provides output that can be used as input by the graphviz tool. Which in turn can save the pretty pictures it draws to a pdf or, well... pretty much whatever format bats your whiffleball. Mighty impressive set of tools, and free down the whole chain. And then they gave me Visio, I added the ODBC driver and blammo: pretty database drawing. There's nothing free about Visio, but I have to say, the results are impressive.


I may have a new hero.

I never would have imagined that the puritanical drinking ages in the states would provide so much entertainment. Kudos to you, Rachel, it's a pleasant change to see someone use the internet to apply accountability. I expect that you're correct in that these young adults don't understand the consequences you would face if caught serving someone underage. I suppose young Ashley Heyer will learn a lesson from this, and I'm wondering what it will be. Sadly, from the stuff that's been going on it doesn't seem that she has yet. I also hope that she figures it out before it screws up the rest of her life too much. She might want to read up on the terms Frivolous Litigation, Vexatious Litigation, and possibly even Malicious Prosecution or Barratry.


Slony-I and Rail / Bricolage / etc

Handling the DDL produced by Ruby on Rails or Bricolage and friends presents an interesting problem for people who want to replicated their database using slony. Rails, bricolage and others of that breed don't seem to differentiate between DML and DDL, and haven't yet learned about DCL. They simply want to run as a database super-user and damn the torpedoes. I remain somewhat worried about the ongoing maintenance costs and security risks that this approach creates, but apparently it's cool since it lets those crazy RoR dudes throw stuff out the door at a stunning rate. While I don't see a clear solution to the Vietnam of CS I can at least see an approach that would let Rails and friends co-exist with slony. There's no rule that DDL can only be executed via slonik's EXECUTE SCRIPT. However slonik gives the RoR maintainers everything they need to know in order to correctly process DDL in the slony world. I'd find such a solution extremely interesting, however I doubt that the RoR guys will be interested. Slony is after all a postgresql only technology and RoR types seem to be more interested in chasing mindlessly after "database independance".


Musical Annoyances...

So, I was futzing around with my iTunes library when I noticed that there's an annoying trend in the dates on the music in there. They reflect when the album was released, but not necessarily when the songs on the album came out or were recorded. Like I care when some compilation album was pressed. The date the song was recorded or first release, that's useful for creating play-lists.


I Love my Slow Cooker

So, I recently picked up a second-hand Nesco roaster. I had assumed that it was simply a crock-pot when I bought it, but apparently it's so much more. It made a pretty good beef stew with my first try. I think I'm going to try using it to roast a chicken some time next week. I know... exciting stuff. In other exciting news, I picked up an old Gillette safety razor at a second hand shop and ordered some shaving stuff online after reading about gourmet shaving. Since I'm not exactly a morning person, I thought that this might be an incentive towards a more reasonable morning routine. God forbid I should just go for a walk on the beach that's about 5 minutes from my door. Well, Elspeth arrives shortly which should put me on an early morning schedule again.


The more I use Quicksilver, the more I use Quicksilver

How cute is this: it's a script that lets you send IMs in Adium via Quicksilver.


DJB for people who don't already DJB

If you've ever tried to figure out DJB's tool suite, then you'll probably know what I'm talking about in the title. DJB's documentation, much like the unix man pages, is good if you get what you're working with. If you're new to DJB's stuff though, it's a more of a learning cliff than curve to surmount. The DJB Way is a much gentler introduction.


Yet Another Reading List

So, apparently I'm a geek with what I read. Anyway, the following books have literally changed the way I see the world. I'd welcome suggestions on what to add to this list. The Beauty Myth, while I don't agree with all her theses, Naomi Wolf has some brilliant insights into the minds of women. I wish I'd read this before getting into my first serious relationship since I think it would have helped. Not by any means a light read though. Manufacturing Consent, the DVD version. It's also available as a book, but I actually think that for this particular set of ideas, video is a more effective transport. Again, this isn't easy going, but the ideas are disruptive. If you want some insight into the relationship between media and money, this is a good place to start. Hegemony or Survival, also by Noam Chomsky. An examination of American foreign policy that's painful to read, and very thoroughly referenced. I dream of the day when Chomsky puts together an accessible primer on the subject, but until then, this will have to do. The Rebel Sell by Heath and Potter helped me put some words to my discomfort with the whole "counter culture", radicalism and other flavours of rebellion. If you ever wondered why our much lamented consumerist culture doesn't seem to be affected in any way by the endless efforts of culture jamming and ad-busting, this might provide some ideas. Once I got past the self-congratulatory style of the text, I found this book quite accessible and a relatively easy read. Apparently it's also available in America under the title Nation of Rebels.


Murgh Dehin - Chicken with Buttermilk

Marinade: 2 cups buttermilk 2 1/2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves 2 1/2 tablespoons spiced onion* 2 1/2 tablespoons catsup 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 2 1/2 to 3 pounds chicken pieces (bone in, skin on chicken thighs taste best) Combine buttermilk, spiced onion, catsup, coriander leaves, and salt in a bowl. Add chicken pieces and gently rub the paste into the chicken. Marinate overnight (or at least 5 to 6 hours) in the refrigerator. Curry: 3/4 teaspoon turmeric 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (to taste, I generally like a little less) 1/4 teaspoon garam masala 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin 2 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander Bloom spices in a dry pan over medium high heat to bring out flavors and set aside. The goal is to toast the spices, be careful not to scorch them. 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 2 tablespoons ghee (use 3tbsp of butter if you don't have ghee) 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced 1 1/4 teaspoons minced / grated gingerroot 2 cloves garlic, finely minced / pressed Heat vegetable oil and ghee in a large skillet. If using butter, allow foaming to subside, but not to burn. Add onion and fry until the onions start to caramelize, about 3 minutes over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 1 min. Don't burn or scorch. bloomed spice mix 1 large tomato, peeled, seeded and chopped Add spices and tomato to onions. Cook another 2 minutes over medium heat mixing thoroughly. Marinated chicken and marinade 2 tbsp oil, 2 tbsp butter 2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour Heat oil and butter in a stainless or cast iron frying pan until foaming subsides. Remove chicken pieces from marinade and shake off excess (keep the marinade) and place in pan. Cook, in batches 4 to 5 minutes over medium high heat. Chicken should be cooked through (instant read thermometer reads 165F in thickest part of meat). Remove chicken and set aside to cool. Once cool, remove skin from chicken, then remove meat from bones (throw skin and bones in a freezer bag to make an interesting stock later otherwise dispose). Cut meat into bite-sized chunks. If you want carrots or spuds in the curry, fry them for about 5 or 6 minutes until they're browned and have released some of their moisture and then set them aside. Yukon golds work nicely for potatoes, don't cut the carrots too small. They should be about half cooked (you can stick a fork in them, but not easily) at this point. If not, pop them in the microwave for minute or two. Pour off fat from the fryin pan, then use some of the buttermilk marinade to deglaze the frying pan, working with a wooden spoon to loosen and combine any fond (the brown bits). Add flour to curry base and cook until slightly browned. Slowly add marinade, mixing well to create the curry gravy. Bring to gravy to a boil and reduce heat to low. Return meat (and carrots / potatoes is using) to curry, and cook slowly uncovered for about an hour or until curry gravy has thickened and chicken is very tender. Optionally add about a cup of frozen peas about 20 minutes before serving. Serve over boiled rice. Serves 4 to 6. * SPICED ONION 1 medium yellow onions, 1/2 inch of fresh gingerroot, 2 cloves garlic, 1/2 large peeled tomato and 1 green chilies Blend in a blender. Add 2 tbsp cup tomato juice, and about 1/2 tbsp of white vinegar if necessary. Blend again until the mixture becomes smooth and creamy. Pour it into a jar with a tight-fitting lid and store in the refrigerator until needed. It will stay fresh for about a week as long as the lid is kept tightly closed. Use as needed for each recipe.


Houston, we have landed...

The drive from Rolla Missouri was pretty boring. Once I hit Oklahoma, I put the cruise control on at about 135km/hr and blasted along the straight west. The term "big sky country" kept coming to mind and photos just don't do justice to the scenery. Texas was about as flat and you could go a hundred miles between seeing anything other than a couple of dozen other cars sharing the road. I stopped at Grants, New Mexico after driving just a little over 1600kms (yeah, 1000 miles) and through a huge snow-storm that blew in just before I hit Albequerque. An endless hour of carefully working my way across slimy road in a near white-out took it's toll and it wasn't a conscious decision so much as my body just decided to take the exit and that was that. As crossroads go, it wasn't much, but the room was cheap, included internet and was beside a Denny's. It turned out to be a nice, large room but the internet didn't work and I was too zonked to do anything about it. Finding the entrance to the Denny's parking lot next morning turned out to be a challenge too, but I got my hot breakfast despite the obstacles and was on the road by 7am local time. The sides of the road were dusted with snow and were beautiful in the pre-dawn light. I decided to visit the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest in Arizona since I had made excellent time that morning. I shot dozens of photos, which completely failed to do it justice. The best description I can come up with is that it was an unearthly mixture of vivid pinks, blacks, blues and grays painted on a jumble of hills, mountains and valleys. I think it needs to be seen in person to appreciate it's beauty and grandeur. This is a photo of the Agate Bridge, a petrified tree that arches across a small gap carved out by water. The true effect only hits home when you get close enough to see that it's actually a tree trunk and not just more of the surrounding rock. A while after the Petrified Forest, I passed through Flagstaff, and over the continental divide at an altitude of some 7000 feet at which point I knew it was all downhill from there. And there were some spectacular downhills too. I just stuck it in 6th gear, took my foot off the gas and let it roll. Shortly after crossing the Colorado river, I entered California. The next part of the drive was almost hypnotic as I swept across the Mojave desert. Eventually the road swooped down into the LA basin (I think it was a good vertical mile of drop). After a couple of hours of LA rush-hour that actually moved pretty well, I entered Ventura and swooshed down another mile and a half vertical drop. After that it wasn't far to Carpinteria and the oldish motel I'm currently staying at. I spent the day trying to get in touch with realtors to little avail. Eventually I gave up and headed into Santa Barbara where I stumbled upon a car wash and finally the somewhat tatty Mexican internet cafe where I'm writing this update. I start work tomorrow and hope to find a place some time this week. It's been quite an adventure so far. I think I'm going to call it quits and head over to this micro-brewery that's been recommended to me a few times. Then head home, find some "work appropriate" cloths for tomorrow and call it a night.



I shot through Ontario promptly and enjoyed my last Tim Horton's coffee (and deliciously greasy breakfast sandwich) before crossing the bridge at Sarnia. The border dude wasn't really friendly, but he went through my papers pretty quick and I had my visa in about 45 minutes. The rest of the day I simply put miles behind me, to the tune of about 1400km. Highlites of my drive included dinner at the Steak-n-Shake (delicious burgers instead of steaks, but the shakes were tasty), and crossing the Mississippi river. I stopped to try and take a photo but it didn't turn out. And some drunk hicks in a pickup truck almost ran into my car while attempting to throw a beer bottle through the rear window. At least I think that's what they were trying to do since they missed pretty bad and the bottle glanced off the front side panel and didn't even leave a dent. I'm writing this from a somewhat dinghy Day's Inn in Rolla Missouri. Here's hoping I make such good time tomorrow, although I plan to stop by the next AAA and pick up a "Route 66" attractions map so I don't miss all the sights.


California or Bust

Well, my papers are finally all in order, I hope. Tomorrow morning I hit the road bright and early. The car is packed pretty full (take a look at how low it's riding in the rear). For those of you who haven't yet heard, I'm off to California. My route plan is basically to head for St. Louis then follow Route 66 the rest of the way. I will of course have my radio on 146.520 and 446.000 the whole time in the hopes of chatting up some locals for restaurant recommendations and such en-route. I'll post updates when and if I find motels with internet access. In addition to this blog, you might want to check out my Picasa Web Album for more photos.