(no subject)

Apr. 23rd, 2014 06:56 am
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
[personal profile] synecdochic
It's time for today's picture of Ginny draped over my knee and laptop being painfully cute. Earlier she unplugged my monitor cord. With her chin.
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(no subject)

Apr. 22nd, 2014 09:41 pm
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
[personal profile] synecdochic
Yay, glasses are fixable for not-much-money (the dude at the Pearle took pity on me and rung them up as a different repair) and since the frames are still made, they're just ordering a new pair of the same frames and popping the existing lenses into them. Shouldn't be too long.

...mind you, until then I have to wear my old ones, but still.

(no subject)

Apr. 21st, 2014 10:23 pm
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
[personal profile] synecdochic
...The bridge of my glasses just snapped while I was cleaning them o.O

Mutter. On the one hand, I have both contact lenses and my old pair of glasses to fall back on. On the other hand, the contact lenses don't have the astigmatism correction and the old glasses are a slightly weaker prescription and aren't the high-def lenses. (And boy, let me tell you, if you're considering the high-def lenses when you get your next pair, if you spend any time at all staring at a screen, do it. I was wondering if I was really imagining the difference, until I put on the old pair and went ...oh, right.)

I put on the old glasses. I realized that wearing them would mean spending the next eight hours with a screaming headache bumping into things. I put in the lenses. I will now spend the next eight hours thinking the world has gone unexpectedly two-dimensional, but it's better than the migraines, at least?

Mutter.

Batman ficlet

Apr. 21st, 2014 09:49 pm
hatman: HatMan, my alter ego and face on the 'net (Default)
[personal profile] hatman
Something that's been running through my head on and off for the last couple of days. Not sure why. I'm sure someone else has already written it, and done it better. But hey, just for the fun of it:




Gotham City. Wayne Elementary School. About two decades ago.

"Okay, class, it's time for science. Who here can tell me why things fall?"

A little hand shot into the air.

"Bruce! Can you tell us?"

"It's so we can learn to get back up again."

"Er, no. That's an... interesting answer. But the real answer is gravity..."




Early that evening. Wayne Manor.

"Welcome home, Bruce! Give Dad a hug! Are you okay?"

*sniffle* "I had a bad day at school."

"Oh? Tell me about it."

"I gave the wrong answer in class, and the other kids were teasing me all day. They kept tripping me and laughing..."

"Aww, Bruce. Why do we fall?"

Bruce looked up, his tear-filled eyes filling with anger. "Because gravity pulls us towards the center of the Earth with a constant force of 9.8 meters per second squared times our mass. And don't you tell me otherwise!" He stormed out, disappearing into the shadows of the long hallway, leaving his bemused father behind.

(no subject)

Apr. 21st, 2014 05:26 am
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
[personal profile] synecdochic
Mondays, every week, let's celebrate ourselves, to start the week right. Tell me what you're proud of. Tell me what you accomplished last week, something -- at least one thing -- that you can turn around and point at and say: I did this. Me. It was tough, but I did it, and I did it well, and I am proud of it, and it makes me feel good to see what I accomplished. Could be anything -- something you made, something you did, something you got through. Just take a minute and celebrate yourself. Either here, or in your journal, but somewhere.

(And if you feel uncomfortable doing this in public, I've set this entry to screen any anonymous comments, so if you want privacy, comment anonymously and I won't unscreen it. Also: yes, by all means, cheer each other on when you see something you want to give props to!)
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
[personal profile] synecdochic
Why did nobody tell me until just now that Mark Ruffalo and Matt Bomer are starring in a HBO adaptation of Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart? OMG.

(no subject)

Apr. 21st, 2014 02:00 am
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
[personal profile] synecdochic
Cat, there is no way that can be comfortable. (she's draped half over my knee, half on the desk, sound asleep and snoring a little.)
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synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
[personal profile] synecdochic
Perfume sniff notes! 9 BPAL scents: Rogue, The Rose, Dragon's Tears, Bastet, Tzadikim Nistarim, Sea of Glass, Djinn, Euphrosyne, Omen.

9 scent reviews )
[personal profile] mjg59
I picked up a Panasonic BDT-230 a couple of months ago. Then I discovered that even though it appeared fairly straightforward to make it DVD region free (I have a large pile of PAL region 2 DVDs), the US models refuse to play back PAL content. We live in an era of software-defined functionality. While Panasonic could have designed a separate hardware SKU with a hard block on PAL output, that would seem like unnecessary expense. So, playing with the firmware seemed like a reasonable start.

Panasonic provide a nice download site for firmware updates, so I grabbed the most recent and set to work. Binwalk found a squashfs filesystem, which was a good sign. Less good was the block at the end of the firmware with "RSA" written around it in large letters. The simple approach of hacking the firmware, building a new image and flashing it to the device didn't appear likely to work.

Which left dealing with the installed software. The BDT-230 is based on a Mediatek chipset, and like most (all?) Mediatek systems runs a large binary called "bdpprog" that spawns about eleventy billion threads and does pretty much everything. Runnings strings over that showed, well, rather a lot, but most promisingly included a reference to "/mnt/sda1/vudu/vudu.sh". Other references to /mnt/sda1 made it pretty clear that it was the mount point for USB mass storage. There were a couple of other constraints that had to be satisfied, but soon attempting to run Vudu was actually setting a blank root password and launching telnetd.

/acfg/config_file_global.txt was the next stop. This is a set of tokens and values with useful looking names like "IDX_GB_PTT_COUNTRYCODE". I tried changing the values, but unfortunately made a poor guess - on next reboot, the player had reset itself to DVD region 5, Blu Ray region C and was talking to me in Russian. More inconveniently, the Vudu icon had vanished and I couldn't launch a shell any more.

But where there's one obvious mechanism for running arbitrary code, there's probably another. /usr/local/bin/browser.sh contained the wonderful line:
export LD_PRELOAD=/mnt/sda1/bbb/libSegFault.so
, so then it was just a matter of building a library that hooked open() and launched inetd and dropping that into the right place, and then opening the browser.

This time I set the country code correctly, rebooted and now I can actually watch Monkey Dust again. Hurrah! But, at the same time, concerning. This software has been written without any concern for security, and it listens on the network by default. If it took me this little time to find two entirely independent ways to run arbitrary code on the device, it doesn't seem like a stretch to believe that there are probably other vulnerabilities that can be exploited with less need for physical access.

The depressing part of this is that there's no reason to believe that Panasonic are especially bad here - especially since a large number of vendors are shipping much the same Mediatek code, and so probably have similar (if not identical) issues. The future is made up of network-connected appliances that are using your electricity to mine somebody else's Dogecoin. Our nightmarish dystopia may be stranger than expected.

(no subject)

Apr. 20th, 2014 07:46 am
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
[personal profile] synecdochic
I'm fishing for cats!

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(no subject)

Apr. 19th, 2014 05:41 pm
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
[personal profile] synecdochic
This week's kitten pics in better quality than my crappy cameraphone include a video of Ginny and I playing "toss the kibble under the door" to distract her from the fact Gabe gets fed whenever he wants and Ginny does not need more than a little snack :P

(no subject)

Apr. 19th, 2014 01:25 pm
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
[personal profile] synecdochic
Sparrows on the windowsill.
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(no subject)

Apr. 19th, 2014 12:59 am
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
[personal profile] synecdochic
I follow Everest climbing season on and off -- my ex's father and sister are mountain climbers, and that got me into following mountaineering, especially the 8000-meter big ones. Today, news broke of an ice fall in the Khumba Icefall, on the South Col route -- historically one of the most deadly spots. Initial reports are saying anywhere between 12 and 16 dead, all Sherpas, with over a hundred people stranded above the Icefall (where they were trekking gear to Camp 1 or Camp 2), and unconfirmed reports that the ladder in the Icefall has been damaged or destroyed.

If the ladder is gone and can't be repaired, that pretty much drops the bottom out of this year's window -- maybe 10% (or less) of people who are trying to summit Everest these days have the technical skill and high-altitude mountain climbing experience to handle that area of the climb without the help. It's going to be an ugly season.

I can hold forth for a while on the state of Everest these days. I have a lot of opinions for somebody who would never dream of getting anywhere near it myself. Long story short: Everest climbing has turned into a perfect storm of the Western world marketing "climbing Everest" as one of those 'hardcore life-altering experiences', a number of unqualified people setting themselves up as guides to cash in on that marketing, a 'free market' for guiding where there's no regulation or objective standard of quality guiding so clueless hardcore-sports-tourists have no means by which to evaluate the capabilities of the expedition leaders to handle shit if shit gets ugly, a tendency to try to compete on price because aforementioned clueless mountaineering-tourists balk at paying what the non-shady expedition leaders charge, and over it all, the driving motivations (and associated ethical complications) of the Nepalese government depending on that Western money for support, thus creating incentives for them to maximize the number of people who buy permits every year. There's a lot of additional factors, but all of those combine to create a perfect storm of completely unqualified climbers being led by completely inadequate expedition leaders who rely on the Sherpas and don't give them anywhere near enough credit -- or pay -- which leads to resentment that's been bubbling for a while, to the point where last year there was a confrontation that nearly turned deadly. Everest is full of people who are trying to commit suicide in the messiest way possible and take a lot of people with them, and the honest and capable expedition leaders not only have to clean up the mess on the mountain but also deal with the market forces and the fallout later.

The fact is, though, that nobody would climb Sagarmatha (which is what the Sherpas call the mountain, although that's a recent coinage; before they used the Tibetan name, Chomolungma) without Sherpa aid and Sherpa knowledge. The Sherpas set the ropes up the entire mountain ahead of any other climbers, carry supplies up the mountain from camp to camp before any climbers start behind them, serve as porters for climbers throughout the process of climbing, and pack out all the trash (and I do mean all the trash, including human waste) behind. They're the first ones in at the beginning of the season and the last ones out at the end. Every person who's summitted the mountain in modern times has done so relying on the work of a Sherpa, and -- although this is changing somewhat (but not fast enough for a lot of the Sherpas) -- often without giving any credit to the Sherpas that make it possible.

So I'm saddened to hear that a dozen (or more) Sherpas died yesterday on the mountain (because the moutain will kill you as easily as not; it will not notice, it will not care), but I'm even more sad that they were there on that mountain because of alpine adventure tourism and Western demand. I've been pleased to see several news articles about the icefall include and acknowledge some of the ethical quandaries and the stark realities of Everest tourism. I wish this could help make meaningful change in how the commodified "climb Mt Everest" industry runs these days, and helps to get some of those unqualified people being duped by unethical expedition leaders off the mountain until they're at least a little more qualified, but I doubt it will.

Helpful Ginny is helpful

Apr. 18th, 2014 01:37 pm
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
[personal profile] synecdochic
So, I've mentioned a few times that Noah (cat #3) is sort of a complete failure as a cat. We're pretty sure he was abandoned by his mother early, or that she was killed before he was brought in to the shelter -- he lacks many of the basic cat instincts. (Like knowing how to drink out of a bowl of water: he dips his paws and licks them instead of lapping up the water.)

One of the things he's not very good at is litterbox management. )

Names and identity

Apr. 18th, 2014 11:22 am
karen2205: Me with proper sized mug of coffee (Default)
[personal profile] karen2205
I have been of the opinion, since I was around 11 or 12 or so that my name is my name and I will never change it. My name is a key part of my personal/individual identity [I get that this isn't the case for other people, who see names as things binding them to particular parts of their closer family]. I spent my childhood dealing with the disadvantages of a name others couldn't pronounce or spell (certainly primary school teachers of mine would spell it incorrectly and tell me I was wrong when I corrected them) or would make fun of. It was reasonably clear then that it was unusual/an identifying feature and as an adult and particularly with the creation/expansion of the internet, a name that isn't easily muddled for someone else is one hell of an advantage to have.

Other people have different views/experiences on this, which they're perfectly entitled to have, where names are perhaps a more fluid part of identity, connecting people with close parts of their family of origin or to a particular partner or to their family of choice and the bit of family they are most connected with changes over time. Other people use different names in different parts of their lives - a name for work and a name for home. I suspect there's considerable influence on some people's choices by institutionalised sexism, but you don't deal with that by removing or discouraging particular choices.

My main complaint here is not what people choose to call themselves in different times/different places, it's that systems/structures are not in place to reflect what people are choosing to do in terms of names. With some obvious exceptions, most of the time people who have altered their names want to be findable by both old and new name (or both home name and work name) or by a number of different names all at the same time and social media is not geared up for this. It expects people to have one name only. The same is true of things like passports (GB driving licences at least provide space on the paper counterpart for alternative signatures) - why can't passports and driving licences show someone's current preferred name and then give a list of previous names/also current names?

A lot of the problems that come with changing names (think serious professional ones, like publication records for academics and more mundane ones, like trying to cash a cheque addressed in the wrong name, the administration and paperwork involved in changing your name) primarily affect women, because it tends to be more women than men who alter their names could be avoided if we set up systems to explicitly recognise that Mrs Bloggs is also Miss Jones and that Miss Jones is still one of her names, even if she now prefers to be addressed as Mrs Bloggs, so colleagues, at the level of acquaintances she's not dealt with for some years can still find her on LinkedIn and she can cash cheques made payable to either name. Systems are easier to alter than human behaviour, so why not adapt systems that work better for current trends?

I miss watching hockey "with" people

Apr. 16th, 2014 07:18 pm
healingmirth: empty hockey net (hockey)
[personal profile] healingmirth
It's playoff season, and everyone I know around here who follows hockey is... a big jerk. It's just the truth. I miss when [livejournal.com profile] ontd_pucking was still a thing. Do I need to be on twitter to do something other than yell NOOOOO at my cat when Fleury moves out of his crease to try and handle the puck?

(no subject)

Apr. 16th, 2014 01:27 pm
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
[personal profile] synecdochic
All that bird watching wore her out.
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