azureabstraction > out of the blue


July 26th, 2009

On Wednesday I leave for DEFCON 17, "the world's largest annual hacker convention" [Wikipedia]. I am meant to learn more about web security there, which is why my employer is paying for my trip and expenses. I'm obviously more excited about being surrounded by hackers and nerds than about the Las Vegas part, although the city ought to be interesting to see.

I will either not bring a laptop, or I will wipe mine before going, for obvious reasons.

Here is a sampling from various FAQs:

Q: Is there a free network at DEFCON?

A: Yes. It would be fair to describe the network as ‘hostile’. It has been described as ‘the worlds most hostile network’, but such descriptions are just attempts at flattery. It is recommended that if you want to connect to the DEFCON network pretend that you are sharing out your entire hard drive to 5,000 hackers. You may want to bring a ‘clean’ computer that you don't mind being infected/hacked/etc. It is considered very poor form to attempt to Dos the network; while the DEFCON staff may not do anything about such attempts it is reasonable to assume that ‘peer justice’ may be meted out. If you're unhappy about the possible risks associated with connecting to DEFCON networks there are a couple of options: refrain from computer use for a few days or connect using another network elsewhere in Vegas (another hotel or something).

Q: What is there to do at DEFCON?

A: DEFCON is a unique experience for each con-goer. If you google around you'll find dozens of write-ups that will give you an idea of what people have experienced at DEFCON. Trust write-ups more than media articles about the con. Some people play capture the flag 24×7, while many people never touch a computer at DEFCON. Some people see every speech they can, while others miss all speeches. Other activities include coffee wars, WI-FI shoot outs, robot contests, TCP/IP contests, movie marathons, scavenger hunts, sleep deprivation, lock picking, warez trading, drunken parties, spot the fed contest, charity dunk tanks, the Black and White Ball. Because DEFCON is what the attendees make of it, there are more events than even we are aware of. Half the fun is learning what happened at DEFCON after the fact!

I'm looking forward to it. Anyone know anyone else who is going?

Logan Roll

July 18th, 2009

At Happy Sushi in Logan, Utah, Sarah and I shared a sushi roll that was unconventional and delicious. We might have to try to recreate it sometime. Here is the information from the menu.

Logan Roll: Tempura shrimp, cucumber, and crabmeat inside. Topped with avocado, salmon, thin-sliced lemons and finished with special sauce.

Yellowstone and Tetons 2009

June 17th, 2009

As promised, here are my photos from the latest trip to Yellowstone for the purposes of snail gathering.

Aspects of Being

June 13th, 2009

I've been doing very little besides getting the hang of working full-time, these days. That is in addition to occasional adventures like Sarah's and my trip to Yellowstone weekend before last. The Tetons, as usual, were breathtaking, and the geothermal features were peculiar. I'll let you know when pictures make it onto Flickr.

Today I finally got back into some intense reading. Finished Alan Moore's and Dave Gibbons's Watchmen, as well as a major portion of Jeff VanderMeer's City of Saints and Madmen. Good stuff. Makes me want to write more. It would be good to get a few stories out this summer.

On another subject, I've had some vague web presence for a while now. Being a web developer, that's pretty important. I'm thinking I may start writing web development posts, which might not get cross-posted to LiveJournal. There would be some gray area if I were to do reviews of web services, or musings on philosophy of design. I'm really not sure how I want to handle the separation between a personal blog and a professional blog. I don't want complete separation, because some bleeding back and forth makes sense. I'm not the sort that wants my professional life to be in an entirely different compartment from my personal one. I also don't want to bore most of you with my recent JavaScript adventures.

So perhaps a triptych: reading/writing, computer science, and personal life. Of course, it remains to be seen how these ideas will develop as I consider the problem more. After all: on the web, nothing is constant.

May Recap

May 24th, 2009

On Wednesday, May 6th, I finished my last final exam at Gonzaga. Sarah came up on Thursday, and we drove down to Portland to celebrate and visit our families. After a fun-packed Portland weekend, we drove back up to Pullman on Tuesday, and I did next-to-nothing for the rest of the week. We drove to Spokane to help Josh and his mom with packing all his stuff for their return to Eugene, and then came back down to Pullman. I had my first 40-hour work week at my job, which was mainly spent getting used to the idea of working full-time. That brings us up to today, at the end of a relaxing weekend with Sarah. Tomorrow I begin my second full-time work week. It looks as though it'll be quite interesting. Chad (one of the other PHP/MySQL developers on the team) and I have been conspiring to do a database-access-layer rewrite. It'll be lots of work, but it will also mean that we have a decent foundation upon which to base later development. I hear that's important.

Oh, and I appreciate laundromats with wireless internet access.

3 by 24

May 5th, 2009

Done with my senior project. Done with my honors thesis. Done with classes. Before this time tomorrow, I have to write a 7-page essay and take two tests. After that, I essentially have my degree.

A Twitter-Sized Update

May 4th, 2009

By Wednesday at 6, I should be done. Graduated. A summer job lined up. Let's hope everything goes according to plan.

A First

April 30th, 2009

Off on my first business trip to Seattle. 4.5 hour drive over, 40 minute plane trip back (with appropriate airport lead time). I get to stay in a hotel in downtown Seattle. Too bad it had to be placed during some of the busiest days of my life. Ah well. Sleep is for the weak.

Applied Science Fiction

April 22nd, 2009

I present my thesis tonight at 8:00 in Admin 128. You're all welcome to come, though certainly not obligated. My thesis is "Applied Science Fiction: Science Fiction, Innovation and Society". In it I examine how science fiction interacts with the realm of innovation, and in what ways it might make meaningful contributions.

I will be trying not to be a boring speaker. But no promises.

The Flat Earth Society

April 12th, 2009

The [Flat Earth Society] also took the position that the Apollo Moon landings were a hoax, staged by Hollywood and based on a script by Arthur C. Clarke, a position also held by others not connected to the Flat Earth Society. On hearing this, Clarke sent a facetious letter to NASA's chief administrator:

"Dear Sir, on checking my records, I see that I have never received payment for this work. Could you please look into this matter with some urgency? Otherwise you will be hearing from my solicitors, Messrs Geldsnatch, Geldsnatch and Blubberclutch".

The Wikipedia article on The Flat Earth Society is quite worth reading.