The MTA doesn’t take my house keys

As I was walking towards the turnstiles I dug into my pocket for my authentication. Its the wrong way to think about metrocards but I can’t help it. Security, passwords, authentication, identification and privacy have all dug their ways into my consciousness. I’m faced with a plethora of different systems all requiring me to prove something one way or another. If its not the subway wanting proof of fair, its my phone wanting to be unlocked for access to my contacts, calendars, and email. At work I have it easy, I log in whenever I sit down. (I lock my screen when I leave, half for security, half because I’ve earned retaliation from pulling pranks.) Every windows server, workstation and even some of my linux services, everything in the domain recognize me for who I am when I try to talk to them. My workstation takes care of all of the details.

When I try to get into the office its a RFID swipe card that beeps me in. The server room has a regular key. My laptop has a long password and keeps all my files (not my music) encrypted when its off, my desktop has nothing, no private data, just some games and movies, so no password. It doesn’t even stay logged into my email.

During my day I type probably 5-10 different passwords a combined total of a few hundred times. Maybe not that much. I’ve started using SuperGenPass for websites so even though its one password to me, its a different password for each website. Which is very very good. I do a similar thing with my shell and ftp accounts (of which there are many) I generate a random password (often using this handy site) and save it to my OSX keychain. I still use a text file for passwords sometimes and even though its locked behind filevault (the encryption on my laptop) it still leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

My mail has a long, annoying and different password then everything else. I change it from time to time too, its annoying. But since almost everything else I use a password for will use my email to verify me its important. I’ve known that for a long time, I’ve only stopped using my ‘legacy’ default password for everything (which has grown in length over time but still plastered on any site that would have it) about 2 or 3 months ago. It was a sad and sorry state of things, but I changed it before it bit me in the ass.

I do use openID (check the source of roborooter’s home page and you can see my provider information) which let’s me log into any site using only my url and let me log into only my provider for the password. (So I don’t have to trust or use a different password for every other site.) So far I use it for only a few things, but more all the time. Stackoverflow, livejournal, sourceforge, roborooter.com itself, and a hodgepodge of other sites I can’t remember. I could actually check and remove access to my openID for some of those sites if I cared to.

This is my context when I walked up to the turnstile this afternoon and pulled out my keys. Or yesterday when I walked into the turnstile’s bar and smashed it against my groin with a loud thump. I had already logged into my network account, why did I need to log into the subway again? For most people a metrocard is money, I pay a lot for (and use it plenty) a monthly card. I have unlimited rides, not a dollar amount on a card. For me my metrocard is just another form of authentication. “Hi, It’s me let me in, I’m good for this month. What? Oh OK I’ll log in again.”

-Francis

(Now with better spellings, more links, and a recovery from DreamHost’s databases reverting.. even with review, writing a post on my blackberry has it’s disadvantages.)

The New York Times and my brother

My brother was quoted recently in the New York Times … again.

“We used their surface and projected the truth onto it.”

He didn’t actually say that but the sentiment is there. They also got his age wrong. A few years prior they wrote an article about the high school he went to. The reporter talks about him a bit but only has once quote.

“So, is there a proposal, or did you just want to open the discussion?”

And again a number of years prior (this is like 10 years ago now) we have a quote from an article about the boy scouts in Park Slope.

“Not really”

I’m fairly certian he’s mentioned in one more artcle about a town meeting her went to that was on domestic violence in specific communitites, but I’m sure I’ll be corrected soon enough. The quotes don’t do him justice, but the articles might, they’re not bad reads. I’m proud of him. Not for being in the newspaper but for doing things that he believes in. It’s just cool that they’re newspaper worthy.

-Francis

PS (I got more updates in the works but I’ve been a bit sick.)

Miracle Berry Tablets

Me and Miracle Berry Tablets
Me and Miracle Berry Tablets

Miracle fruit or berries makes sour things taste sweet. An effect that apparently is quite amazing.

From the supplier’s website.
The active ingredient in the Miracle Berry Fruit, known as Miraclulin coats the tongue and blocks out the taste bud receptors which are responsible for sour, bitter and acidic flavours. The outcome is that all foods which taste sour, bitter or acidic miraculously come to taste sweet.

Once I was told you could solve the problem with transporting “Miracle” berries by freeze drying them (they spoil quickly) and that you could buy said berries online for $20 dollars, I immediately bought them.

It comes with 10 pills each formerly being 3 berries. Think geek says you should cut them in half for twenty servings. The official supplier claims that even fresh berries start loosing their effects due to age and that problem doesn’t exist after it’s been freeze dried.

I’m going to have to try it to find out =)

-Francis

Tibeten Take Down

Even with my brothers involvement, I haven’t really touted what’s going on Tibet and with the controversy with this year’s Olympics. Even though one my favorite bands (Radiohead) came on stage the other night with a their instruments draped with Tibetan flags after they had a professor from Columbia talk to us for about half an hour about what’s going on, even though I know the issues, I still have been silent. At least here.

I do talk about things in public, to strangers, to coworkers, to family members, there is a place in my life for it. I don’t think Roborooter is a good place though. I do however think that Roborooter is a place to talk about abusive copyright practices.

Take down notices are becoming a problem. A big problem. It started with a way to keep people from posting copyrighted materials on their personal servers. Send the server a notice and they take the content down. Sort it out later. No big deal.

When that started there was no way to know, to fathom, that every single person’s computer could host content. At the time they were very effective. These days content makers owners who wish to protect their copyrights have to send out thousands of them to keep up with things like youtube and myspace (which is evil and must be destroyed) and the people that run content sites get flooded and instead of assesing what is valid and what is not they cover their asses and remove everything.

This means if I don’t like your work, it is very very easy for me to have it removed temporarily and maybe even permanently regardless if I have cause or not. With the nature of the internet if you get removed from the net while you’re popular you’ve lost out incredibly.

This leads me into a video created by the Students for a Free Tibet about their NYC Chinese Consulate Projection Action, which was removed from youtube because the IOC (International Olympic Comity) said it violated their copyrights. It looks like fair use to me, but even so, you can’t watch it right now on youtube.

Vimeo on the other hand, has not responded the same way. Vimeo also has nicer higher quality videos that we can all enjoy.


NYC Chinese Consulate Projection Action 08.07.08 from Students for a Free Tibet on Vimeo.

I’ll end with a link to the EFF’s No Downtime For Free Speech campaign. Those guys owe me a hat.

-Francis

Story Arcs and my failed attempt.

I had a plan.

  1. Make the Hacker Crackdown Available as a torrent file. (You can just grab the full download if you like.)
  2. Educate about what comcast was doing (blocking torrents)
  3. Complain that while the torrent’s flowing nicely a bunch of specific people had trouble torrenting it. Specifically the Comcast customers.(Not a complete lie, the torrent had about 250 downloads as far as I could tell and at one point 17 seeds. But if you were a comcast customer using torrents you knew what was going on and wouldn’t complain to me.)
  4. Come clean, off the full download via http and remark that I actually do have the bandwidth to spare to host a large file. Probably enough to spare to host 10 full and popular audio books, but probably not 100, where torrenting could go into the 10,000’s easily. If people were so interested.

For the record as of right now the torrent is still on The Pirate Bay and has 2 seeders neither of them are me.

I had goals.

  1. To spread the hacker crackdown by Bruce Sterling.
  2. To try to do a story arcing blog post.
  3. To educate people about torrents and Comcast.
  4. To be crazy like that.

I had poor execution.

  1. I got distracted
  2. I told people what I was up to and then no longer felt like I had to do it. Almost like success.
  3. I didn’t do it all at once – I’m not sure if that was practical but it would have gotten it done while I had the drive.
  4. I never wrote down my plan until now.

For the record even without my help (ha!) Comcast got smacked around by the FCC. It’s not law (and we’ll have to fight to make it law) but it’s a big first step towards net neutrality.

Suggested Tags

I’m still coming to terms with how wordpress deals with tagging. I think they’re stuck between categories and tags and they need to drop one (categories) as they are basically the same thing and usability suffers with too many options.

To aid in my tagging I got a wordpress plugin called Simple Tags which lets me see all my previous used tags when choosing tags for a new post. (Which is genuinely useful!) It’s also got a bunch of things I don’t want or need. Like auto tagging, and suggesting tags. I thought I’d play with them though.

The suggested tags for my post on the Quick and the Dead were: Movies, gene hackman, story overview, life of crime, assassins, ill gotten gains, entertainment industry, and typos.

Fuck you yahoo!

This was Worth(1000) it

They don't have anything to hide.

Despite my title referencing worth 1000 this photos comes to us from Gizmodo’s own Photoshop contest. (Click the image to see more of it). I find this kind of stuff cute, but I think other people think I find it offensive. Not that I’m a great defender of art, but I’m a great believer in less surveillance. As England is proving, we as humans don’t know how to manage ubiquitous surveillance. Recordings are lost, they don’t seem to stop crime, and most footage nobody looks at. And even if we did, figure most of that out, who gets to watch everybody? Maybe they could make it a premium channel.

Back to art, Worth 1000 is a trove of quality “Photoshops”, they have themed contests, I highly recommend checking them out.

-Francis

Pret DIY

I’m not sure why they’re doing it, but the british now in america healthy food sandwhich and salad shop Pret A Manger has started printing recipies on the backs of their paper bags. The important part is they look delicious. Even though I’ll never understand the need to use fancy words to try to make food sound more delicious.

Prosciutto Artisan Baguette

Ingredients
1/2 artisan baguette – or a malted grain wholewheat baguette
1 dessertspoon of real mayo
4 slices of tomato
2 slices of prosciutto
Shaved Italian matured cheese (enough to cover the prosciutto)

Cut the baguette almost in half lengthways (leaving one edge still attached) and spread the mayo over the bottom half.
Arrange the tomato slices, followed by the prosciutto, the cheese and finally the basil leaves along the bread.
Close with the top half of the baguette, pressing down gently to keep everything in place.
Eat in the sun with eyes firmly shut and you may just believe that you are in Italy.

I’m not a professional writer or part of some fancy marketing department but I would have called it “Prosciutto and cheese on a roll”. Still delicious sounding to me. =)

-Francis