Stephanie, AKA “Mom”

Posted in General on May 20th, 2010 by srhuston – Be the first to comment

My wife has had a website for some time, and updates it infrequently.  Recently she started to get the bug to post more than just status updates on Facebook, and started a new site: Stephanie, AKA Mom.  Chock full of family goodness, recipes, money saving tips, and all other sorts of things my wife decides to tackle.  Go read it, subscribe to the RSS feed, send her comments and ideas and all that.  Tell her I sent you.

Going Mobile

Posted in General on May 20th, 2010 by srhuston – Be the first to comment

You probably didn’t notice (how could you!) but there’s now a mobile version of the site setup.  I would keep seeing this when I browsed to places like Nerdist, but never bothered to look into how it was done.  Finally I did, and while there’s a bunch of choices I went with the one that seems to look the nicest in each available platform.  At least each one I can see anyway.  There’s a link to turn off the mobile site if you look and don’t like it, so there’s no harm done – but it does load a bit faster with it on too.  I’ll probably tweak settings here and there so don’t get too used to how it looks yet.

IM Consolidation

Posted in Computers & Networking on May 19th, 2010 by srhuston – Be the first to comment

I’ve had a lot of IM accounts over the years.  Powwow was I think my first, and then ICQ was a quick follow-up after that (which I had until some ‘tard decided it would be funny to brute-force the account and lock me out of it, and thanks to ICQ’s craptacular policies I have no way to get it back – so if you see 2109563 online, tell him he’s a fuckhead).  Anyway, the problem is disparity: With all these different networks, I have too many places to check for things.  For a while I used Bitlbee to keep all the networks together in one place which worked nicely – all of my chat logs where on my home computer which I could access from anywhere, no more searching through a few different machines to find that link that someone sent me, whatever.  The problem is with mobile access: I wanted to be able to IM Stephanie from my phone instead of using SMS messages all the time.  Combine that with the number of “friends” I would watch go online and offline and never say a word to me and I decided IM wasn’t worth it anyway.  When Meebo released their iPhone app, I decided to give it another go since Stephanie and I could use it instead of Google Voice for messaging each other.  It works very well – and I like being able to reply on the web site instead of being forced to use the phone when I’ve got a full keyboard in front of me – but I still have these networks like MSN, AIM and Yahoo where I rarely get messages, don’t want to ignore them, but don’t like that I can’t use whatever client from wherever whenever I want.  So I think I found a solution to the networks that don’t allow for multiple logins without extra complexity.  Using trigger.pl, an irssi script, I have a rule setup to automatically reply to someone who IMs me on AIM, Yahoo or MSN and tells them to use my Google Chat account instead.  If you don’t know the address, just send me an email and I’ll tell you!  This way, I can use whatever IM client I’m closest to and is most convenient, but they’re all connected in a way that I can seamlessly move from one to another – and still keep chat history in a single location.  It’s not as nice as having it all on my computer, since things like ‘grep -R’ aren’t available, but Google’s search works well enough that it’s not an issue.

Next step is to setup OTR messaging, but I have to dig around and see what has changed in the months since I last used OTR plugins in irssi.

Thanks, Whoever You Are

Posted in Computers & Networking on May 17th, 2010 by srhuston – Be the first to comment

I forgot to post this back when I noticed it, but a little while ago I found something interesting.  I loaded my Google profile, and lo and behold!  What’s that in the upper right corner?  It’s a list of domains where my email address has been verified.  Fancy that, the option to turn them on finally showed up, and I did so.  And it was good.  Don’t know if my previous post on the matter had anything to do with it, but if some random Googler found my plea and fixed it.. thanks :>

So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish

Posted in Ham on May 1st, 2010 by srhuston – Be the first to comment

I seem to have formally ended my affiliation with the DVRA today.  This has been on the wall for some time apparently – there’s some who don’t seem to think I, or others that pay dues and help when they can, are doing enough and that we need to do more.  Of course, the problem was that when I brought in a bunch of new folks who were more than interested, eager and willing to do a lot more, they were all met with apathy and indifference, occasionally opposition.  A few times lately I’d get the snarky comments.. “Missed you at the meeting” (which I refrained from replying with, “I had a nice dinner with my family, you were not missed”) and more recently a flat-out “maybe if you showed up you’d know.”  I’m sorry, but isn’t it the dream of an organization, to which membership doesn’t cost the organization anything, to have members who send in dues and do nothing else?  What if that person sends in dues, and maintains websites, email lists, Facebook fan pages, Twitter accounts and more?  Apparently, it’s still not enough as some now want to mandate that people must attend other functions, or – get this – give six months notice they’ll be unable to attend, so that other suitable tasks can be set aside for them.  You have got to be fucking kidding me, I thought.  Nope, all seriousness.  Give your money, give your time (or give more money), or you’re out.  Let me think about that.. oh yeah.  Good riddance.

A copy of my “farewell” letter is below the fold, for those morbidly interested in reading it.  I really do feel bad about this, and got a bit emotional writing it.  There’s a select few who appear to be running the organization into the ground as quickly as they can, and if not for the group there’s some very fine people I never would have met.  But some folks are just hell-bent on getting things their way at all costs… I wonder how many will be left in the group when others who have no desire – or ability – to participate in mandatory events take stock of what they really get out of the club, and what downsides there are to leaving it.  I certainly couldn’t think of one.

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Cleaning Gutters Can Be Fun (No, Really)

Posted in House on April 8th, 2010 by srhuston – Be the first to comment

A couple weeks ago, Stephanie and I attempted to clean the gutters.  The way I’ve done this the past few years is with a long (but not quite long enough) wand with a hook on the end and a nozzle that directs water to the side in a wide fan.  The idea is that the water spray will get under the cruft and just blow it out of the gutters.  The truth is that it kinda pushes it whatever direction you want it to go, and then you scoop it out by hand from there.  While this wasn’t terrible – you only need the ladder in 1-2 places – it’s horribly time consuming (you have to do small sections at a time), tremendously water wasting, and unbelievably tiresome to hold your arms up over your head for a few hours.  Plus it requires that you go up and down the ladder a lot, or have someone stand on the ladder to do the “catching” – difficult to do when someone’s got to watch the kids too.  So Sunday night I bought a Looj, and got to play with it Wednesday and Thursday after work for the first time.  This could be the start of a beautiful friendship.

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Sony Bones Customers Again, Customers Somehow Surprised

Posted in General on March 29th, 2010 by srhuston – Be the first to comment

I got a PlayStation 3 some time ago, and one of the things I really liked about it was the ability to install Linux and emulators. Some people see that as an esoteric function that only a geek would want, but then they play Super Mario Brothers on my PS3 and forget that it’s being emulated through a program running on Linux. Or we play a game of Blue Max, an Atari 8-bit game I have setup when you start the Atari 800 emulator. Or even playing Asteroids (Atari 2600), Super Metroid (SNES), or Leisure Suit Larry (DosBOX). None of these would be possible for a home user to install on a PS3 without the ability to run Linux on it.

Which means, after Thursday, none of this will be possible again. That’s when Sony releases PS3 firmware version 3.21 which adds zero features, but removes the “Other OS” feature from the PlayStation entirely (both the ability to install it, and the ability to run it). Their reasoning for this is some vague notion of security, though many have already pieced together the timing between this and “geohot” gaining full access to the PS3 running Linux. Supposedly turning off Linux support will “help ensure that PS3 owners will continue to have access to the broad range of gaming and entertainment content from SCE and its content partners on a more secure system”; in other words, they need to fix their content jail or the providers will pull out and disallow movie downloads and such.

Hey Sony!  Here’s an idea.  Why not fix your jail instead, and allow not only the PS3 owners to continue to have access to the stuff they paid for, but allow the content creators who might (or might not) be getting their panties in a bunch to be happy?  After all, I paid for my PS3, and now you’re ensuring that I cannot have access to one of the features which I bought.  And I might know a thing or two about what “the people” are interested in seeing, what with “PS3 linux” and “emulation” being some of the top reasons people find this site, and the above linked article.  Just sayin’…

EDIT: Earlier this morning, I submitted a new “share” idea to put Other OS back in the firmware; if/when that goes live, I’ll provide a link.

Help Me Google, You’re My Only Hope

Posted in Computers & Networking on March 25th, 2010 by srhuston – 1 Comment

I’ve had a Google profile for some time now, and like that it makes a simple place where I can keep all of my “digital selves” gathered together.  If you search for my name, instead of showing up on page four after a painter and a programmer from Massachusetts I’m on the first page; follow the link to the profile, and there’s a photo of me, a little bit about me, and links to all the places online that have other information about me.  It’s a nice way to tie your digital identities together, since otherwise there’s just a mash of Facebook, LinkedIn and Flickr pages which don’t necessarily have anything to do with one another.  However, there’s one thing which still eludes me in my profile: verified domains.  Some people (such as Leigh, or Leo Laporte) have that little bit in the upper right that says “Verified email at <domain>”.  If you look at Google’s help pages, they say once you’ve added email addresses to your account and verified them (which is a simple process, you edit your account and type the new address, get an email, click a link, enter your Google password, you’re done) then those domains for which you have verified email addresses will show up as check boxes near the top of the page when you edit your profile, and you can choose which ones to include.  I have no such check boxes – and I have tried removing email addresses, verifying them again, hell I’ve even tried setting up Google Apps and verifying the domain itself with Google Webmaster Tools.  Nothing seems to get them to appear.

While that’s annoying, there’s something even worse in my opinion.  There is no place where I can ask for help with this.  There is no “Contact” link where I can fill out a form and be promised that I’ll get an email back in the next month or so.  There is no place where I can even post on a forum for this, because none of the Google Help forums have anything to do with one’s account or profile.  There’s no email address I can send a message to and say, “Hey this isn’t working, can someone have a look please?”  Nothing.  Nada.  Zip.  All the contact pages either point to some “try these things” items, or something asking you to go to the help forums (which as I mentioned, appear to not exist for profiles or accounts).  So, here’s where I decide to use the web’s collective intelligence and bargaining power, or something.

If you are, or if you know, someone at Google, or someone who can help with this, please have them contact me.  They can use the “Send a message” link on my profile (linked above), or not too much searching would probably reveal one of my many email addresses.  Or, if you know someplace where I can ask, or someone I can contact to ask for help, that works too.  I’m not expecting instant results here – Google is a big company, I’m one person.  But some place where I can get in a queue, even if it means I wait a couple months for someone to say “Oh, I see what was wrong, it’s fixed now” would be better than the current situation, which is basically any friends I ask about this saying, “Well it works for me.”

Assassin’s Creed 2 – Wow. Just, wow.

Posted in Gaming on January 6th, 2010 by srhuston – Be the first to comment

One of my Christmas presents this year was a copy of Assassin’s Creed 2.  I really enjoyed the first in the series, even though many others complained that it was a bit of a “grind-fest” (you go to various towns, and complete many of the same kinds of missions to advance the story line, to the point where you can pretty much guess what’s going to happen when you get to a new area).  Yes, many of the missions were repetitive, but the overall look and feel of the game was what I enjoyed the most: the storyline itself, the action sequences, etc.  There were nits I could pick, of course, such as the somewhat jarring sensation you’d get between missions, but it helped to further the overall story line and was understandable.  Plus, it gave for a nice break to remind you to go do something else.  Anyway, those nits – and ones picked by others about the original AC – all disappeared in AC2.  Instead they were replaced with a tighter sequel than I’ve seen in a long time, and my only regret about playing straight through and beating the game in just under a week of extremely late nights and bad circulation is that I want to forget the whole thing so I can experience it for the first time again tomorrow.

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Overzealous Much?

Posted in Computers & Networking on January 5th, 2010 by srhuston – Be the first to comment

To go along with my password article, here’s one showing the bad side of passwords.  This is a copy of the “password rules” for Intel’s website, which I use for getting access to their licensed compilers.  Before 1Password, the rules here were so draconian that I took to writing the password down on a piece of paper (yes, a sysadmin doing exactly what he tells people not to do!)  There was no way I could follow their rules and remember a password when I only use it maybe twice a year; especially since they require it be changed every couple months, so every time I’d use it I’d have to change it!  This proves that a password policy can be too “secure” – so much so that it drives security all the way back to the point where you might as well not ask for a password at all, since they no longer hold any meaning (or real security).

Password Rules:

  • The password must be at least eight characters long, and can contain letters, numbers, and punctuation.
  • It must not exceed fourteen (14) characters.
  • It must contain at least one alpha character [a-z; A-Z], one numeric [0-9] and one special character [`! @$%^&*()-_=+[];:’”,<.>/?].
  • It cannot contain spaces.
  • The password cannot be the same as any of your previous eight (8) passwords.
  • It cannot contain your login id.
  • It may not contain any of the following special characters: Asterisk (*) Comma (,) Backslash ( /) Forward Slash (\).

It must not:

  • Be a name (your own, family members, pets, or famous people)
  • Be your social security number, driver’s license number, passport number or some other identification number.
  • Be repeating numbers, letters or characters (111111, aaaaaa, !!!!!!)
  • Be a number or character combinations that are next to each other on the keyboard (123456, asdfgh)
  • Be a dictionary word of any language
  • Begin with an exclamation point (!) or question mark (?)
  • Contain your IDSID or WWID
  • Have the same first three characters.