Sunday, December 25, 2011

Obligatory SOPA post. But seriously this is important.

Sorry about the politics again, but I feel obligated to do my part to spread the word about this. I think the ratio of ramifications to how many people know about it is really big on this one. It's the first proposal to censor the U.S. Internet. It will put us in a club that includes China, Syria, and Iran.

Suffice to say, watch the video, that will explain it pretty well. And then visit americancensorship.org.

Oh! But before I forget, here's the most important point I can get across: It won't work. Not at all. There are already point-and-click workarounds. This won't stop a single criminal. If you know enough to use BitTorrent, you know more than enough to be able to simply ignore this legislation. It is a completely half-baked bill. Half-baked, but horribly destructive.



Note: PROTECT IP is the Senate version of the House's SOPA bill.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Friday, November 18, 2011

Google's onmousedown link trickery


So you do a Google search. You find something interesting, but instead of clicking on it perhaps you just want to copy the link. Say you want to IM it to a friend or paste it into a malicious site search service. So you right-click on the link and "Copy Link Location" or whatever it is for you people on Chrome/IE/Safari/Opera/RockMelt(loljk). Then you paste it into your destination, but what you get looks like this:


Obviously Google's using some redirection trickery for some kind of internal purpose. But when you hover your mouse over the link, the url that shows up at the bottom of the window is the normal, short, non-Google link! And that hover-over url never lies, right? How is this happening?

Well, the good news is that technically the hover-over url isn't lying. It is indeed the correct url at that moment. But try right-clicking on the link, and before you do anything else, notice the hover-over url again*. It's changed! It seems Google is using some Javascript tricks (like an onmousedown event) to show us the expected url at first, then change it at the last second.

Sneaky? Maybe.
Annoying? Definitely.
Clever? Absolutely.

*A note in case you try this yourself: this only seems to happen on like 1/4 of the links on a typical page. And there's no way to predict which ones it will affect.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

What happened at 1:17AM, November 6?

I just realized a weird side effect of daylight savings. In the fall, it creates an entire hour where times are non-unique. What I mean is, if I said I brushed my teeth at 1:17AM on November 6, would you know when that happened? It could be the first time 1:17 rolled around or the second.

I only thought of this as I sent a text during those ambiguous two hours and saw the timestamp. I use Google Voice, which shows the time sent next to each text. So I wondered if I sent one at 1:25 in the first hour and then at 1:17 in the second hour, would it show the one at 1:25 before the one at 1:17? I guess so.

Of course this mostly only matters if you think about software that timestamps things. Which is one reason why Unix time was invented, I guess. But I also start thinking about things like police reports or other important documents where you might say X happened at 1:17AM on the night of November 6. That doesn't specify exactly when it happened! There's no standard way to indicate what exact time you're talking about.

Again, this is one reason computers use Unix time, though I just discovered that apparently Unix time has this problem too. Its rule is that it always increases by 86,400 seconds per day. But some days are longer than others because of leap seconds. So again, we find that some times, like 915148800, are ambiguous. Now that really seems to pose a problem for software like server logging, etc. Why would you make the same mistake, Unix guys?

Note: Hmm, I wonder when I posted this? I guess we'll never know!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Luddite Fallacy: not wrong anymore?

Smash away!

I just read this article suggesting that the current job crisis might be a symptom of a larger trend: disappearing middle class jobs. The author cites technology and outsourcing as the causes. The technology part reminded me of an idea that's been forming in my head for a while.

Technology is bottoming out the cost of anything whose price was held up by the difficulty of communication or automation. The news, music, and even postal industries all were undercut when the internet made it dirt cheap to transfer information.

Of course, it also made all those goods cheap and plentiful for everyone. For a while I thought that was part of the answer to why technology doesn't create the massive unemployment the Luddites feared. But.. lately I've realized this time might be different.

So maybe the way this is working is that there are benefits to society but the benefits don't address the drawbacks. So we get to live in a world with an abundance of information always at our fingertips but that doesn't help the fact that none of us have jobs.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Steve Jobs is bigger than Michael Jackson

Remember in 2009 when Michael Jackson died, broke the internet, and the entire rest of the summer was filled with people playing his music? Well I remember at the time checking out the spike in searches for "Michael Jackson" and seeing it indeed exceeded any single event I could think of, including Obama in November '08.

Google Trends data: interest in Michael Jackson trumped Obama on election day and inauguration

Well, this last week I got notified of Steve Jobs' death by two different groups of friends within an hour and then realized the trouble I'd had accessing Wikipedia earlier that night happened exactly when the news broke. I thought "is this going to be a mini-Michael Jackson thing?" Turns out, it's not a "mini" one:

Google Insights for Search data: Obama, Michael Jackson, and Steve Jobs' spike.
Steve Jobs' is so recent it's squashed over to the right but look closely at the top of that peak.

I found it interesting to see that it's not just people over in the tech world who find this to be hugely significant news.

Postscript: The point of this post isn't to comment on the actual event. First, of primary importance is the fact that a man died after fighting a terrible disease, which is sad for him and his family. Second, to be clear, despite having significant problems with Apple, I'm honestly quite worried about the future of computers without Apple pushing everyone to make better and better devices. They have problems with openness, but Google, Microsoft, and everyone else has a problem with making things intuitive, tasteful, and above everything, useable. Apple pushes the rest to be better.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Monday, September 12, 2011

HOW DO WE MAKE THIS HAPPEN


Or, for the nerdier caption, "I hope this is in IPv6."

(source: uh, tumblr. all of it.)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Why don't we learn programming by example?

A lot of the past year I spent in a highly concentrated study of programming. I've been learning both the semantics of programming languages and the high-level art/philosophy of coding.

And there's a lot of advice flying around. It doesn't take you long to discover that programming is a field whose inhabitants are keen to look at it not just as a job, but as a highly important zen/philosophical/artistic way of life. They care a lot about how you code. Comment your code, don't overcomment your code, use top-down design, use bottom-up design, code for readability, code for efficiency, use descriptive variable names, refactor often, modularize everything, and don't break out of a loop early unless you turn around three times and spit first.

I'd certainly like to follow all of it. I'm trying to synthesize it all into some idea of the right way to do it. But something I notice is that there are terribly few examples to go by. I find it odd that the experience of learning programming, be it from a school, a book, or a website, is not full of examples of other people's real-world programs.

I've realized that learning to write well-written code is very similar to learning to write well-written English. It's hard to declare rigid rules that you can just follow to get there. There's plenty of advice, but advice in a vacuum isn't extremely useful. You need positive examples of good writing. A lot of what makes effective writing is that it's easy to follow for people used to it being laid out in a certain way. It also uses constructions that are efficient and effective. That's for both written English and written programs.

You learn to write English well by reading books and essays written by the masters. But you're supposed to learn to write code well by.. writing code. I find it strange that there aren't far more examples of well-written programs in books and university classes. There are whole books and websites of collections of essays and stories! Why not programs? There are certainly enough people who care about it, let me tell you.

This post was prompted by reading an essay by Steve Yegge on overly-commented code by novice programmers. I'd always heard people putting an emphasis on well-commented code, so it was interesting to hear the arguments for why it can get cumbersome. I thought it was compelling, and I'd like to put the advice to use in my coding. I want to learn, Steve Yegge! Really! So please, just show me how it should be done! I want to be an E.B. White or Christopher Hitchens, but I can't do it without examples!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Visa's post-credit-card-fraud strategy a bit odd


I recently got notified by Bank of America that they'd detected fraud on my account. Meaning someone nasty got a hold of my info. They told me they were changing my card number and mailing a new one to me.

So today I got it and noticed that they'd only changed the last four digits. Having spent a lot of time this year thinking about security (thanks, Security Now), this struck me as strange. Have you noticed how the last four digits are the ones everyone seems to just give away anyway? On receipts, online banking, mailings, etc., they always indicate your card by writing "XXXX XXXX XXXX 1632."

I used to think they accepted the lowered security of those last four because you still had the other twelve that are never given out (ignoring the fact that the first ~4 are entirely deterministic). But now I can assume there's someone out there with my old number, and the only thing Visa gave me to protect against them is those last four, weakly guarded digits.

Now, I know the chances of this person ever finding those last four are vanishingly small. It's probably not even someone close by, and they're not going to be going through my receipts or mail. Plus, I omitted the part where the CSC (those 3-4 digits on the back) is also different. So I'm not actually worried.

It's just funny that while cybersecurity people are arguing about researchers who figured out how to break AES encryption in 190 quadrillion years instead of 760 quadrillion years, in the credit card world they're pretty much saying "Hey c'mon, what're the odds someone finds all four of these digits?"

And hey, maybe they're being a bit more realistic.

image credit: clanao.com (Google Images)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Anyone still thinking of buying a netbook? Get 2GB of RAM.


Well I was, and I did, and it's still awesome. Despite the fact that apparently tablets are killing netbooks.

Anyway, the point of this post is that when I was getting one, I was wondering whether 1GB of RAM was really enough in this day and age. Out of the sample size of Best Buy and Costco, few netbooks had more than 1GB. So "maybe the manufacturers know best? I don't need 2GB?" Googling "1GB enough" didn't answer my question. So here's my contribution: 1GB is not enough.

I got an Asus Eee PC 1015PE with 1GB of RAM. It was very slow, and I could tell it was accessing the pagefile all the time. After I upgraded it to 2GB, it sped way up. And I saw that upon startup it was already using 700MB of RAM (with Windows 7 Starter). And with Firefox regularly taking 300MB on its own, I knew 1GB wouldn't cut it. These days when I open up Task Manager it's usually in the neighborhood of 1.1GB in use. So modern OS's and browsers have reached that point. Get 2GB.


image credit: netbookreviews.net

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Yes, West Coast, we know.

Last earthquake post I promise, but this just sums up very well all the comments from the West Coast.

(via pleated-jeans)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Conservative/Liberal "threats"


Fun op-ed (for liberals) in the NYT from Warren Buffet on why he wants to be taxed more: Stop Coddling the Super-Rich

So when I read this quote:
I have worked with investors for 60 years and I have yet to see anyone — not even when capital gains rates were 39.9 percent in 1976-77 — shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain.
I realized — is threatening to not work/invest because of taxes the conservative equivalent of the "I'll move to Canada!" liberal threat? I knew the liberal one was a melodramatic, empty threat but I guess the conservative one is too?

*Disclaimer: I think this is as political as I'll get, since I swore to keep politics out of this blog

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Why thank you Linux, I didn't want software, I wanted a project.

Just ran into an image that perfectly encapsulates this ethos:

Sometimes I get a little tired of it. Gotta vent.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Monday, June 20, 2011

F Yeah Nyan cat (and Youtube)



Such smiling, sparkling insanity.

And how happy was I yesterday when I noticed what Youtube had added to the video? Take a look at the progress bar. SO IMPRESSED.

(moar info: Know Your Meme)

UPDATE: They took down the progress bar thingy! Awww. Well, here's a screenshot, which can't even capture the full extent of the awesome since it was animated just like full-size Nyan Cat.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Want to know what $8 million in Bitcoins looks like?

Way up.
(credit: Penny Arcade)

At the moment, 432,000 bitcoins are sitting in one account, right here. For perspective, that's about $8.4 million dollars at current market rates, or (perhaps even more impressively) almost 7% of all bitcoins in existence! Current rumors are that they represent the entire holdings of all the accounts at Mt. Gox, the major bitcoin exchange site. They did have some outages this weekend, so maybe they're doing something with all their funds. Of course, who knows what it is they're doing.

Perhaps part of the puzzle: I was led to this account by a link posted by LulzSec on Saturday. The link shows a transaction where dozens of accounts transfer 50 BTC to a single one, totaling 17000 BTC in that single account. Then that account joins dozens more to transfer a total of 432,000 BTC to the account I mentioned above. What are all these movements about? And what about it did LulzSec find so lulzy? Was that just how Mt. Gox was storing its bitcoins, 50 BTC each in thousands of addresses? Are they just changing their organizational scheme? Maybe it's something as mundane as that, but even so, it's an impressive amount of wealth in one place.

side note: Earlier on Saturday LulzSec posted a tweet that seemed to hint at claiming responsibility for Friday's crash in the bitcoin market. Related? Probably not. True? Almost definitely not.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Bitcoin breaks $10


(all graphs are from Mt. Gox)

After stalling around $9.50 for a few days, Bitcoins have finally broken through $10 on Mt. Gox, one of the major Bitcoin exchanges. And only a month and a half ago, they were under $1.

A tenfold jump in six weeks.


For the uninitiated, Bitcoins are a new digital "currency" that everyone has been talking about in recent months. I put "currency" in scare quotes because calling it a currency isn't the best way to describe it, and leads to confusion. It's better to think about it as a digital alternative to gold. Just like gold, bitcoins are scarce and can't just be "printed" whenever you want, like paper currency. Also just like gold, the bitcoin economy is decentralized and doesn't rely on a central bank, like with paper currencies or all previous digital currencies.

You're probably wondering now about how it actually works. Well that's a fifteen minute conversation that involves in-depth topics like cryptography. After plenty of research I'm still not sure I fully grasp it. But I'll take a shot at the 30-second version:

Everyone in the bitcoin network has files on their computer that contain records of transactions, signed and sealed with an official (cryptographic) stamp. Owning a bitcoin means that there are people out there who have records of a transfer of a bitcoin from someone else to you. So a bitcoin isn't just a file on your computer. They exist in records of transactions, held on other people's computers. That's why you can't just make more by making copies of files. And how do you verify that you're the person who received that transfer? Your identity is proved by your possession of a secret that you never tell anyone, called your private key. There's a cryptographic way of proving that you have this private key without divulging it.

If I've got anything wrong, please let me know. But that gives you an idea of the basics. That is how there can be a currency with no central bank. It's maintained by sharing transaction data between everyone on the network. Also, the mechanics mean that you can be anonymous even while exchanging money with people. All you need to identify yourself is your private key (and a corresponding public key). You never have to tie that to your actual identity.

That's probably enough for now. Later I might answer a few more questions like "What can I actually buy with bitcoins?" and "Will they keep going up?" For now, I'll give the short versions: a lot, and no. I'm pretty certain we're in a bubble and they'll probably be illegal within a year.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ever had this feeling?


P.S. Speaking of CAPTCHA memes, I have to recommend Inglip. It's already got its own complete mythology!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Google Video is shutting down! Help save the videos!

Google Video will stop hosting videos on April 29 (seen at Geekosystem). It will still serve as a video search engine for other sites, but those remaining videos that are only hosted on Google Video itself will disappear. And that's a tragedy, because there's a ton of amazing things there.

The strength of Google Video is mostly the long-play, timeless videos of talks, documentaries, interviews, and esoteric full-length movies you can't find anywhere else. As soon as you start looking you find gems like the original Nosferatu film from 1922, a talk by the creator of object-oriented programming, a long interview with Stephen Colbert out of character, or a documentary of interviews with the repentant Secretary of Defense who fomented the Vietnam War. And then there's hundreds of full-length interviews by Charlie Rose. It looks like they have almost everyone he's ever interviewed.

I'm going to say it. This is worse than Geocities.

So what I'm hoping we could all do is download as many of the good ones as we can. There's a Firefox extension that makes it really easy, and even a no-install web service that can do it for you. Then maybe we can re-upload to another site those videos that copyright will allow, or in some other way continue to keep them available. Whatever the solution is, I know that the first step is to get these videos into as many hands as possible before they disappear.

I welcome suggestions in the comments, including great videos you've come across. There's a lot to go through.

UPDATE: I've found some like-minded people leading a centralized and organized preservation effort. It requires technical know-how, but follow the instructions on this page if you want to help build a collection for the Internet Archive.


I'll leave you with an abridged list of interesting things I've found.
(Sorry they're mostly nerdy. That's why I need you to help find the other stuff!)
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Richard Feynman - The Pleasure of Finding Things Out
Rare interview with Neil Armstrong on 60 Minutes
Richard Dawkins - Nice Guys Finish Last
GoogleTechTalks - Building a computer from logic gates to operating system
amateur video of "Buildering," a combination of bouldering and parkour
The creator of HyperCard talking in 1986
Neil deGrasse Tyson talk at Beyond Belief 2006
Talk by the creator of Narbacular Drop, which inspired Portal

note: I recommend searching general terms like "talk," "interview," "documentary," or any other interesting genre you can think of. And you can specify Google Video-hosted results by including "site:google.com" as a search term. And don't forget to check it isn't already on Youtube!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Though words in haste be human nature, "orient man" is not preferred nomenclature

Background: If you haven't heard of Two Gentlemen of Lebowski, then you've got some awesome learning to do. It's the entirety of The Big Lebowski, written as a Shakespearean play.

I just ran into this video of one of the scenes:

So awesome.
The funniest thing is it's so similar to actual Shakespearean performances I've seen before. It makes me realize that a Shakespearean play is basically a Kevin Smith movie. Most of it is just a bunch of characters sitting around talking about random stuff only tangentially related to the plot. But watching it is nevertheless an interesting ride.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Holy crap, 100 posts


Hey, so it turns out that last one was my 100th post on this here blog. Yeah, that's right, turns out I've actually kept at this for one reason or another. Experiment: ..success? It turns out it's interesting and fun to write things and craft a post now and then. At least, enough to maintain my interest in this.

So yes, to anyone who's stumbled upon this blog and is trying to figure out what this thing is, it's not just a forgotten-about project someone flirted with for a few months. I started it about a year and a half ago, and I have continued posting. There's not exactly a readership, though, don't be mistaken. There's about 30-40 unique visitors a day, almost exclusively drop-ins who arrive via Google searches.


Not that I'm against that model of displaying my work. The creator of Stack Overflow mentioned in his Google Tech Talk that they think of Google as their user interface. It's how people are supposed to find and read their site. And I myself have discovered the joys of producing useful things that are supposed to be found via Google to enlighten those seeking information. For example, there's this post on fixing Firefox's url bar and this one on a Google Voice technical issue. Both times someone was looking for that information and said so in the comments. If editing Wikipedia has taught me anything, it's that contributing information to the internet can be as rewarding as finding it there in the first place. It feels so good!

So I guess this concludes the State of the Blog. I usually don't talk about this stuff, so I thought why not take this opportunity to publish the info. Let the interested know what exactly this thing is. Oh, and don't let that graph fool you. I'm still just writing stuff I find interesting, as if no one's reading.

Image source: this better "100th post" post

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Perspective, people.



A few years ago there were headlines about research that indicated that most people don't know the difference between a search engine and a browser. There's a good description of the phenomenon at this blog post, along with this video of pedestrians in Times Square describing the "difference", in case you don't believe it.

I loved this bit of news. It really punctured the bubble of the high-flying digerati who are busy talking about whether Kickstarter is making nonprofits obsolete or if people are upset about Flickr using flash instead of HTML5*. Really, the number of people who even know these issues even exist is a vanishingly small portion of the public. The majority of internet users know that there's this internet thing that happens in this box on their computer and they can type things into that space at the top to read the news.

Any time you're talking or thinking about something technology-related, you should keep this in mind. 90% of everyone is not even going to understand the words you're saying, let alone care. They interact with technology on a very pragmatic, basal level. And honestly, that's okay. There's no obligation to spend a big portion of your life learning about this complicated realm. Maybe you don't have the time. Maybe you have to prepare that presentation or get groceries. Even if not, perhaps you'd rather work on your bike or go to a show. Those are legitimate interests, as is technology.

However, I happen to have an interest in technology so I usually enjoy these types of stories**. I just get a little fed up now and then when I remember how little it really, actually matters.

Anyway, now I just heard on This Week In Google (like I said, I do enjoy this stuff) that 90% of the American public doesn't know how to use Ctrl+F in a webpage. Bam! Again, we get our perspective re-adjusted.

It's not that I think everyone is clueless with computers. But I like these little reminders that there are a lot of assumptions we make about computer literacy and they aren't all based in reality.


Footnote: Google employee Dan Russell gave that Ctrl+F figure on TWIG #88, somewhere near mid-way.

*FYI, if you're trying to think of examples of this kind of fluff, a great resource is just browsing the Mashable front page.
**But I still don't like Mashable.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Fix the Awesomebar in Firefox 4



In the interest of duly contributing to this meta-brain we call the internets, I thought I'd clearly outline a tip I figured out only after some Internet Detective (NSFW) work.

Problem:
In Firefox 4, they took a smart cue from Chrome and combined the URL bar and the search bar. So if you enter a URL, it goes to that page. But if you enter anything else, it uses your entry as a Google search, then goes to the Google results page.

Unfortunately, this means they lost an advantage Firefox has always had over Chrome, which is that if the non-URL terms you put into the bar have a single, obvious destination, Firefox will go directly there. It's basically Google's I'm Feeling Lucky result. So you can just type in, say, "youtube" or "gmail" and it'll go right to those services. Or, more interestingly, you can type "wikipedia giraffe" to get right to that article or "minecraft wiki" if you can't remember the name of Minepedia, the de facto standard wiki for Minecraft. But you know Google would know what you mean, so you know you'll going right there. Basically, you're typing exactly what you desire, which is already in your head in "words" format, instead of first translating it into URL format.

Beyond the time saving, it feels more natural and, well, it makes Firefox's "Awesomebar" truly awesome. I remember back in 2008 when I first downloaded Firefox 3, the first thing I did was type in "add ons" and it took me right there. It definitely felt like the future. So no, I can't stand to go back. ..I still don't really know the add-ons site URL.

Solution:
Man, sorry bout the tl;dr. Here's the fix, gleaned from this Google groups thread.

Open a new tab
Enter "about:config"
Promise to be careful
In the "Filter" box, type "keyword.URL"
Double-click on the one result
Enter this as the string value: "http://www.google.com/search?ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&sourceid=navclient&gfns=1&q="

Want to know what you're doing? Well the about:config page is good to know about. It's the whole, deep set of user-changeable preferences in Firefox. There's often a way there to fix something there that you just can't find a regular option or add-on to change. But yes, you can mess up your browser there.

Anyway, the keyword.URL preference seems to be the URL template that Firefox uses for non-URL terms you put into the Awesomebar. As in, if you put "http://www.google.com/search?q=" in there, then entered "test" into the Awesomebar, Firefox would direct the browser to "http://www.google.com/search?q=test". And apparently there's a way to form the URL that gives you the I'm Feeling Lucky result. It seems to require including "sourceid=navclient" and "gfns=1". Go ahead, try out http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&gfns=1&q=youtube. I swear that link isn't actually to youtube.com. Paste it in your browser to see for yourself. Cool, right? You learn something new every day.

Update: This guy has an even better explanation of the issue, as well as some behind-the-scenes info on how the decision to remove the feature was made in the first place.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Weirdest Google Spam I've seen


I was just using Google to troubleshoot a Windows problem and noticed a very weird thing.

First I discovered a forum thread on exactly the problem I've been having. Woohoo, right? Then the next search result was someone on another forum having the same problem again. But no new info. In fact, it seemed to be similar information to that in the first thread. Very similar.

By the third repetitive thread, I started wondering so I went back and compared them all. It was the same thread, give or take a post, even with the same usernames for the posters. It wasn't just that someone had posted the same question in multiple troubleshooting forums. The posts were replicated in their entirety on all these different sites. One site even reconstructed the thread in the form of blog post comments. And these sites were every result on the first page of Google! (Ok, minus one conventional spam result.)

If you're anything like me you've got a whole number of different questions in your head right now.

First, how did they accomplish this? Did they actually copy and paste the posts into a page structured just like a real forum but actually fabricated? Some of them I swear are real forums I've seen around, like vistaheads.com and vistax64.com. But then again, am I just thinking of similar-looking sites like windows7forums.com? I guess the spammers could've copied their exact look to elicit this reaction of "Ok great, I think I recognize this forum.."

So then if they did copy fake threads then, uh, why? It's not the normal search engine spam where the page is full of keywords, links, and phrases that make it seem kind of like a real, thought-out webpage but on second look could all be auto-generated (I guess? They're so good these days!). In fact, most of these sites don't even have ads, which would at least explain the business model. Of course, that's with NoScript blocking all JavaScript so maybe there's actually a few ads.

Oh no, speaking of NoScript there's a possible explanation. If you wanted to build a shady site that distributed malware (via JavaScript and browser exploits) but needed visitors, why not copy/paste a tech support forum thread? People always arrive at those via Google search terms, clicking willy-nilly whether or not they know the site. Well I guess the damage is done, having already opened the pages. Hopefully they're not using any exploits that NoScript won't block.

In that case, though I'm listing the links for my reference and yours, I won't hyperlink them (even with a nofollow):


WARNING: POSSIBLE MALWARE/SPAM/SHADY SITES.
You are advised not to visit these. I regret doing it myself. I have reconstructed the thread after the jump so you don't even have to visit out of curiosity.

In order of appearance in the Google search results for "LocalSystemNetworkRestricted startup":

http://www.vistaheads.com/forums/microsoft-public-windows-vista-file-management/292696-local-system-network-restricted.html
http://www.vistax64.com/vista-file-management/185188-local-system-network-restricted.html
http://www.winvistatips.com/re-local-system-network-restricted-t165633.html
http://www.ms-news.net/f3839/local-system-network-restricted-8215470.html
http://www.svchost-errors.com/82/svchostexe-localsystemnetworkrestricted-actions-to-eliminate-error/*
    *This one is actually a conventional spam site (without the forum thread)
http://us.generation-nt.com/answer/local-system-network-restricted-help-31087692.html
http://www.pcreview.co.uk/forums/re-local-system-network-restricted-t3895632.html
http://www.oamate.com/local-system-network-restricted.html
http://www.realgeek.com/forums/local-system-network-restricted-381483.html
http://www.tech-archive.net/Archive/Vista/microsoft.public.windows.vista.file_management/2009-01/msg00170.html


The mysterious forum thread after the jump:

Sunday, March 6, 2011

This is about as old school as you can get


Found on the Wikipedia page for "At sign."

It's so perfect. Green monochrome monitor, Cyrillic, BASIC, and the ambiance of some aging university basement. It's even got an .su address in there.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

NPH would never do that


Can we all just agree that Neil Patrick Harris is awesome? Also it's awesome that "NPH" has completely caught on:


And I'd like to take this opportunity to claim credit to Harold & Kumar for both launching his current wave of popularity AND for the whole "NPH" thing.

Oh, and one more NPH's-awesomeness-related image:
*note: I just discovered this is from How I Met Your Mother but I'd rather believe it's just an image macro about NPH in general.

image sources: reelmovienews.com and I forget, sorry.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011





(see earlier post for background)


image sources: 1 2 3 (NSFW)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Eugh, Gawker


Haha, I'm glad Penny Arcade agrees.

Well, I'm not sure I care that much. But it's interesting someone has echoed my first thought which was "How nice that this is now easy to read on my non-existent iPhone." Not that I read much Gawker, but Lifehacker is a wonderful oasis in their desert of nastiness.

And going to Lifehacker, I was confused without my top bar of highlighted stories. Until I realized it was still there, but now it fills up the entire page while their actual blog is shrunk down to a corner under an ad. Apparently they wanted to showcase their top stories. So did they forget they had that top bar that already did that?

I hate to sound like those people that form a protest group every time Facebook does a redesign. But this seems like a pretty notable move backward.

Monday, February 7, 2011

More apropos.

Packers win the Super Bowl, MST3K Style



Thanks to Will for this installment of Super Bowl XLV, the internets edition.

Apropos.


via Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal

Monday, January 31, 2011

Just a quick note..


I just have to inform those who may be unaware: Rubber-hose cryptanalysis is an actual term with an actual Wikipedia page.

Cryptanalysis is a term that usually refers to advanced mathematical techniques used to analyze encrypted data for weaknesses, often on the level of published academic papers. Which is why "rubber-hose cryptanalysis" is funny, because it refers to "cryptanalysis" accomplished by beating your adversary with a rubber hose until they tell you what the data is.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Why I edit Wikipedia

In commemoration of Wikipedia's 10th anniversary, I thought I'd post something I wrote on my userpage about why Wikipedia is an important enough endeavor to contribute to. And yeah I know I'm a week late but here in DC we just celebrated yesterday.

Who am I?

I am an avid Wikipedia reader. I read much more than I edit. I read almost every day, [too] often for hours. As for editing, in 2009 I averaged 8 edits per month, just to give you an idea. I'd like to find the time to contribute more substantially, though.

Why do I edit?

Mainly, I'm just a big fan. You can learn an incredible amount on these pages, from what Westphalian sovereignty is to how nuclear power plants work to what the internet infrastructure is.
And there's a multitude of smaller topics that you never knew about but which are fascinating. To give just a few examples I'd name the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the Omphalos hypothesis, the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, and Kowloon Walled City. And these are still far from trivia. Because of the standard of notability, most articles you run across will educate you on some significant facet of our world.
We've got a nascent Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy here, just as the web always had the potential to be. This is why I list this site high on my personal reasons for why it's already the future.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Biology is Awesome: The Human Heart


I think I should start a new series about how amazing biology can be. I now realize the first part in the series was my recent post on the sense of balance of birds. There are some things that are just unbelievable that nature can pull off.

Like the heart. Just think about the fact that a heart is a physical pump that is always in motion and can keep running for over 100 years. To put it in perspective, imagine a mechanical pump running without stop for 70 years. Hard to imagine, yet biology manages this regularly. The heart doesn't get clogged or lose parts to wear. It doesn't make a single mistake like that over seven decades, even though it never stops moving.

I know it just sounds like some stoner epiphany, but it's things like this that make biology (or any science) an amazing thing to study. I feel like spreading the wonder because in the field I constantly encounter people who lost (or never had) this passion for it. Don't just do it for the Ph.D., the recognition, or even the pharmaceuticals. Do it because learning how it works is in itself amazing.

Image source

Sunday, January 9, 2011

It's time to layer your userbases with your analytic sects



The antidote to your standard breathless, hype-choked tech journalism.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

That's it. Bubble 2.0. I'm calling it.


(And apparently more people have wanted to buy at that value than Goldman can accomodate. Which implies investors value it even higher?)

Not 100% on this but what can you say to that headline?

Mainly I want to lock in this bet with myself so later I can see if I was right.