Archive for the ‘Geek’ Category

Obit watch: February 6, 2016.

Saturday, February 6th, 2016

I thought I’d do this one separately, since it didn’t fit in tone with the previous entry:

Edgar D. Mitchell, Apollo 14 astronaut and the sixth man to walk on the moon.

NASA.

More Marvin.

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

I really like this remembrance of Marvin Minsky by Stephen Wolfram.

Edited to add: By way of Lawrence, Kevin D. Williamson in National Review on Minsky and economics.

Not Minsky, but worth linking to: Hal Linden on Abe Vigoda.

Marvin Minsky.

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

NYT obit. 1981 profile from the New Yorker by Jeremy Bernstein.

Dr. Minsky was another of my personal heroes that I never got to meet. I first read about him in the pages of Hackers, which was a Christmas gift from my mother one year (and about which I’ve written before).

Later on, I got interested in AI, which led me again to Minsky by way of The Society of Mind. (Which, oddly enough, I have also touched on before.)

I wish that I had more to say, but I’m struggling to find words right now. (I blame this mostly on allergies.)

The ex-presidents are Pez dispensers!

Saturday, January 2nd, 2016

Found at Blood Bath and Beyond, and also available from Amazon: Presidents of The United States Volume 8 – Pez Limited Edition Collectible Gift Set.

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A better view with some of the packaging removed:

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Seriously. How did I live this long without a Richard Nixon Pez dispenser?

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All I need now is Lyndon Johnson (who is in Volume 7) and I can do my own remake of Point Break.

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(Well, okay, technically, I guess I would also need a Gary Busey Pez dispenser and maybe a Keanu Reeves one, too.)

(“The part of Keanu Reeves is being played by a tongue depressor.”)

(And I should probably get Volume 3 as well, because who doesn’t need Millard Fillmore to go with their Richard Nixon?)

You know what the problem with fiction is?

Saturday, January 2nd, 2016

A few nights ago, I had an excellent dinner with a bunch of my friends.

Recent events resulted in the dinner conversation going off on a tangent about Quaaludes and “roofies”, which prompted me to look up Wikipedia’s entry on Quaaludes.

…the massive cache of powder and tabletted methaqualone produced under the aegis of the apartheid-era South African government’s Project Coast in a segment thereof directed by Dr Wouter Basson (whose “Brownies” are capsules of pure MDMA in doses of up to 135 mg), who at one point was held by police in Croatia carrying $40m in Vatican bearer bonds when attempting to purchase 500 kilos of methaqualone.

I wasn’t even aware there was such a thing as “Vatican bearer bonds”.

Dr. Wouter Basson is a cardiologist who somehow managed to become head of the South African government’s chemical and biological warfare projects (the “Project Coast” mentioned above).

The entire drug cache disappeared into the underground in the final days of the National Party’s tenure in office. The total methaqualone cache may have approached a metric ton.

A metric ton of Quaaludes. Jordan Belfort, call your office, please.

Fiction has to be believable. You can’t put something like a government produced cache containing a metric ton of quaaludes, or a guy walking around with $40 million in bearer bonds from the Vatican, into a novel and expect people to believe you.

Worse than Ashley Madison?

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015

A database for sanriotown.com, the official online community for Hello Kitty and other Sanrio characters, has been discovered online by researcher Chris Vickery. The database houses 3.3 million accounts and has ties to a number of other Hello Kitty portals.

Random notes: November 1, 2015.

Sunday, November 1st, 2015

In case anyone was wondering, the hand surgery went about as well as I expected: in that, I lived through it and didn’t die on the table from a bad reaction to the anesthesia or something else. My left hand is still wrapped tightly, but I’m approaching maybe 1 1/3 hand functionality. At this point, I’m off painkillers and it really doesn’t bother me: the itching is more disturbing than anything else.

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I’d managed to avoid breaking any bones or surgery requiring more than a local anesthetic for over 50 years. So much for that record.

I think what bothers me the most was the loss of continuity of consciousness, if that makes any sense. What I mean: one moment, they’re telling me that they’re going to put a sedative in my IV line. Next thing I know, they’re telling me the surgery is over and I’m okay. It just feels…weird, for reasons I can’t articulate. It’s not like going to sleep: it feels more like a gap during which I stopped processing memories. I need to think through this some more.

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I haven’t seen this covered elsewhere yet, and I’d really like to see coverage in someplace I trust more than the WP, but: the FBI is switching back to the 9mm, and away from the .40.

The new 9mm round — known to gun aficionados as the 147 grain Speer Gold Dot G2 — is significantly more effective than what FBI agents carried into the field in 1986. According to Cook, the bullet has been rigorously tested and has received high marks in the FBI’s most important category for bullet selection: penetration.

This also means new pistols for the FBI, and that’s going to be a windfall for somebody. It also won’t shock me to see the current administration attempting to use the procurement process to advance their political goals…

“We are on a completely different program,” one senior HRT operator said, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the team’s arsenal.

Heh.

A few random things I found interesting.

Monday, September 14th, 2015

Some by way of the Hacker News Twitter, others from elsewhere.

Nice appreciation of Elmore Leonard from The New York Review of Books.

Brian Krebs goes to Mexico in search of Bluetooth ATM skimmers, part 1.

Fun with software defined radio, or scanners live in vain.

NFL loser update resumes tomorrow.

Art (Acevedo), damn it! watch. (#X of a series)

Friday, September 11th, 2015

In the time I’ve been doing the Art (Acevedo) watch, I don’t think I’ve ever put up a photo of the chief. Some of the articles I’ve linked to may have had photos, but I don’t if people click through, and I don’t think there’s ever been one here.

Until now.

Yes, the chief is kind of a geek.

The chief also has a button installed in his office that makes the noise of the “red alert” alarm in classic Star Trek episodes.

Also:

“On the day it opens, do not call me,” he said. “Do not get in my way. I will be at the Alamo Drafthouse with a bucket of buttered popcorn.”

“Do not get in my way.” If someone does, could they be charged with obstruction of justice?

Oliver Sacks.

Monday, August 31st, 2015

NYT. Michiko Kakutani appreciation. LAT. WP. A/V Club.

“The Oliver Sacks Reading List” from The Atlantic.

I like what Kakutani says, and I don’t think I could say it any better:

The world has lost a writer of immense talent and heart, a writer who helped illuminate the wonders, losses and consolations of the human condition.

Dr. Sacks was a personal hero of mine. Unlike most of my personal heros, I actually did get to meet him once. He probably wouldn’t have remembered it, even if he wasn’t famously “face blind”…

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DEFCON 23 notes: August 12, 2015.

Wednesday, August 12th, 2015

More slides! More stuff!

DEFCON 23 notes: August 11, 2015.

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

The Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek paper, “Remote Exploitation of an Unaltered Passenger Vehicle” is here. Sorry I don’t have much to say beyond that; I’ve been frantically busy all day and haven’t had a chance to review their paper (or much of anything else) yet. But I did want to get this up, because I’ve been waiting for it.

(Also, one of my cow-orkers owns a vulnerable vehicle, and I’ve been giving him a little bit of grief about that. Only a little bit, though, because he has problems with the vehicle that go beyond Miller and Valasek’s work.)