maradydd: (fail)
The source of the "Collateral Murder" video, which caused a great deal of grief for the U.S. military earlier this year, has been leaked -- by none other than former "homeless hacker" turned wannabe-reporter and government stooge, Adrian Lamo.

Hey, Lamo, hope you enjoyed your stint with the Fourth Estate. The internet can debate whether you've violated journalistic ethics till it's blue in the face, but I look at it from a pragmatic perspective: do you really think any source with an even potentially controversial story is ever going to trust a known snitch?

It takes a pretty special kind of stupid to deep-six yourself out of two completely different career fields in a mere seven years. Meanwhile, [ profile] enochsmiles is sitting back and saying "I told you so."


Oct. 2nd, 2009 05:27 pm
maradydd: (Default)
The difficult thing about doing business with vendors all over the world is that it's not always easy to tell whether the rep you're dealing with is sending curt replies that don't actually answer your questions because it's a cultural thing, because he's incompetent, or because he's a dick.

The irony is, I might have still used them if he'd been willing to give me a quote on the service I need (machining a production run of PCBs to 14mm diameter circles) even though they can't provide another service I need, since they're cheap, but I have neither the time nor the inclination to beat a quote out of a vendor who doesn't want to give one to me; it's far less effort to take my custom elsewhere.

If you sell any kind of configurable product, you may wish to take this into consideration, especially when a customer says "and the initial production run will be X" where X has multiple zeroes before the decimal point.

Just sayin'.
maradydd: (Default)
"I wonder if these fucktard gun-huggers realize the moment they show up at a Presidential event with an AK-47, they're put on a watch list."

Oh, so you're just another 1984-style fascist. Right, don't need any more of those in my life than I had two days ago. Unfollowed, and good riddance. I have other sources for link aggregation that are much kinder to my blood pressure.
maradydd: (Default)
I recently learned that a disabled friend of mine, who has a connective tissue disorder and gets around with the help of various assistive devices and a service dog, has been getting hassled by neighbours who want everyone to park at one end of the street and walk home during the day when kids are playing (and have gotten a city street permit to this effect, though they're using it inappropriately -- they can't legally block residents from driving to their own homes, but they're doing it anyway.)

That alone is plenty out of line, but when my friend went to talk to her neighbours about why this wasn't going to work for her, they blew her off -- one of the reasons being "well, Mr. So-and-so is 92 and he doesn't mind."

News flash, people: being old and being disabled are not the same thing. Some old people are ridiculously healthy and spry -- my granddad was still climbing ladders to fix stuff in the garage when he was 90, and the first indication that nature wanted him to slow down was stage 4 lung cancer. (He died two months later.) Certainly there are disabilities that are more common among the elderly -- you don't see a lot of young people with Alzheimer's apart from that one poor family in Holland -- and many chronic conditions, such as polycystic kidney disease, tend to worsen over time, but being old does not mean ipso facto being disabled.

Everyone reading this will either get old or die young. Some of you will get old and never slow down; some of you will end up with osteoporosis, or arthritis, or diabetes. Perhaps the correlation between age and disability makes some people uneasy around young people who walk with canes or have motorized chairs -- perhaps it makes them think of their own inevitable mortality someday. But people who are young and disabled are disabled now, and it's inhumane to pretend that their problems don't exist.

Perhaps if we can get people to realise that disability and age aren't as causally linked as people seem to think they are, both the elderly and people like my friend won't have to put up with this kind of rudeness any more.
maradydd: (bad post!)
(SCENE: [ profile] maradydd, just having finished making a batch of Rice Krispie treats, settles in on the couch to get some evening coding done.)

[ profile] maradydd's PHONE: ring ring

([ profile] maradydd notes that the call is coming from an unknown caller, but answers anyway.)

PRE-RECORDED FEMALE VOICE: This is your final notification that the warranty on your vehicle is about to expire! Don't take the risk of driving without a warranty -- please press 1 to speak with one of our representatives about extended warranty coverage on your vehicle.

([ profile] maradydd calmly presses 1. Some HOLD MUSIC plays. A few seconds later, a MAN picks up.)

MAN: Good afternoon, can I get some information from you?

[ profile] maradydd: Which vehicle of mine has a warranty that's about to expire?

(Long pause.)

MAN: Excuse me?

[ profile] maradydd: I said, which vehicle of mine has a warranty that's about to expire?

MAN: I'm afraid I don't have access to that information, that's why I'll need to --

[ profile] maradydd: So what's the point in calling me, if you don't actually know whether I have a vehicle with a warranty that's about to expire or not?

(Another long pause.)

MAN: Ma'am, is your number [REDACTED]?

[ profile] maradydd: That's right.

MAN: I'll place your number on our do-not-call list, sorry to bother you.

[ profile] maradydd: You have a nice day now. [hangs up]
maradydd: (Default)
I did not realise, until [ profile] evelien mentioned it, that if you are a non-US citizen and are travelling to the US, even if you are a citizen of a country covered by the Visa Waiver Program, you must now apply for entry to the US online at least 72 hours before you travel. Yes, even if you are only there for a short time. Yes, even if you are only transiting through the US on your way to another country -- that's right, even if you never leave the airport.

Seriously, State Department, what the fuck? US-VISIT wasn't enough of a pain in the ass, so you shut it down and put together an even more annoying program?

I do have to wonder how long this is going to last; this will without a doubt increase the number of deportees (thanks to people who don't find out about the need to apply for authorization, or who forget to do it, or who don't realize that infants who are flying without a ticket still have to have an authorization, &c, &c), and the airlines are going to be extremely nonthrilled about having to mule them all back home.

It's not quite clear from the ESTA website what the goals of the program are. The FAQs seem to indicate that they're trying to keep out people who have been convicted of crimes of moral turpitude and people with communicable diseases. Fun fact: six of the eight communicable diseases that are grounds for denying someone entry to the United States are sexually transmitted diseases. This includes HIV.

Now, I don't know about the rest of y'all, but it has never been my experience that foreign nationals view the US as the place to go on mad fucking sprees. Denying an HIV-positive person the ability to enter the US simply because of his or her medical condition is discrimination, plain and simple, and it just isn't right. There is a DHS "final rule", issued last October, which specifically applies to HIV+ folks, under which they can enter the US for a mere 30 days, rather than the 90 days that everyone else gets on a nonimmigrant tourist visa, but this is small comfort: HIV+ foreign nationals are considered second-class persons under these rules.

Here, incidentally, is where things get interesting. The State Department's page on Classes of Immigrants Ineligible to Receive Visas cites Section 212(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Sec. 212(a)(1)(A)(i) states that any alien "who is determined (in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services) to have a communicable disease of public health significance, which shall include infection with the etiologic agent for acquired immune deficiency syndrome" (emphasis mine) is ineligible for admission to the US. HowEVah, if you check out Section 212 on the USCIS website, the bit about AIDS isn't there; it's replaced by a footnote. Turns out that the bit about AIDS was amended out on July 30, 2008.

So, in other words, (1) the State Department isn't keeping its own public information documents up to date (no surprise), and (2) the Department of Homeland Security is issuing its own prejudicial rules, simply because it can. Section 305 of H.R. 5501 removed the language about HIV, passed the House and Senate and was enrolled as Public Law No. 110-293. The jackasses at DHS turned right around and turned it into a rule under colour of their own authority, and that rule affects everyone just as much as a law passed by Congress does.

I bitched a lot during the last eight years about the ridiculous power grabs the executive branch has pulled, and this is just another one of them. AIDS activists, gay-rights activists -- if you aren't pissed off about this, you should be. The DHS's style of thinking is benighted, anti-factual and just plain wrong: they're acting like they think HIV can be contracted from casual contact, which is just as absurd as a frat boy who thinks he can catch "the ghey" from talking to a gay man at a bar. We deserve better from our government.

And just remember, folks: this is a "rule" we know about. The DHS and the TSA have a whole laundry list of "secret rules" which they still enforce, as John Gilmore and others have learned to their peril.

Demand transparency from your government. They're supposed to be of, by and for the people. It's up to us to keep them that way.
maradydd: (Default)
Just got an amusing bit of spam: a "you've received an electronic postcard" note purporting to be from, actually originating from As with your average PayPal/eBay phishing scam, the "pick up your postcard" link goes to an entirely different location, in this case (Nice try, jokers; the power of viewing all my mail in plaintext repels you.)

I haven't gone to the trouble of decompiling the binary yet, as I don't know the first thing about malware analysis and don't presently have time to learn. If any of my Gentle Readers would care to ([ profile] foxgrrl? [ profile] ernunnos?), though, I'd love to hear what's in it -- botnet, I'm guessing.

Anywho, appears on the surface to be a legitimate small webhosting company -- at least, the domains they claim to host do in fact appear to be hosted there -- so I forwarded the spam to the admin, just in case his server's been pwned or something. And now you all know about a variation on the phishing theme, so I've done my service to society for the night.

EDIT: No reply from the admin, but the malware's gone. Huzzah.
maradydd: (Default)
Advice to people at concerts who think it's a good idea to chatter away over the music: when the people behind you counsel you to kindly shut up or continue your conversation elsewhere, consider the fact that since they are behind you, they have a perfect shot at the tendon in the back of your knee, and if you have any interest in walking back to your car after the show, you should probably follow their suggestion and shut your fucking cakehole.

I'm just sayin', is all.

For the curious: no, I didn't actually cripple anyone tonight, much as I wanted to. I did, however, wait for the song to end, then lean over the jackass's shoulder and cheer at the top of my lungs directly into his ear. That got the point across.
maradydd: (Default)
Dear Congress,

What part of the Sixth Amendment do you not fucking understand?

Also, CNN: that is not a bill for detainee trials, that is a bill against detainee trials, and seeing as how the last time habeas corpus was suspended on anything remotely resembling this scale it was the Civil War, the rejected Specter amendment merits a metric shit-ton more than just a "highlight of this article". The fact that the Specter amendment even had to be proposed in the first place -- that Congress would propose and approve a bill that flat-out removes the Sixth Amendment rights of anyone even suspected of a certain class of crime -- is the real news here. You fucking traitors.

Much hatred,

(I mean, seriously. The thing that's really fucking terrifying about this little maneuver is, how do you appeal on Constitutional grounds a decision that's made in a secret court where you don't even get told the evidence against you? Appeals happen because of procedural errors in the lower courts or inconsistencies in the law, but when both the laws in question (see Gilmore v. Gonzalez) and the court's operation and decisions are sequestered away from the public, there is no way to challenge these decisions, full stop, because you are not given anything that you can challenge.)
maradydd: (Default)
Dear all developers who are considering writing a language with a "more English-like syntax" because it'll make it easier for people to learn,

Don't. Seriously. Or I will find you and kill you by cramming your own design notes down your throat. (If your design notes are all in your head, I will cram your brains down your throat. Simple enough.)

Any language which purports to be "English-like" but gives totally different semantics to contains and in needs to be put down like Old Yeller.

Also, having a type system doesn't mean we don't need type introspection. Death on toast to whoever came up with that little omission.

That is all.

--mlp, frustrated
maradydd: (Default)
Dear pretty much everyone,

If you try to contact me on (insert IM service of your choice here) and do not receive an immediate response, DO NOT FUCKING KEEP PINGING ME.

My status indicator does not read my mind and I typically do not bother to set it. The fact that I am set "Available" should therefore not be taken as gospel truth, either of my presence or of my availability to talk. I might have left the house. I might be in the shower. I might be fixing a meal, or eating one. I might be having hot monkey sex on the bathroom counter. I might have fallen asleep and left the laptop on.

I might be in the middle of a code binge, and if so, that has doubly unpleasant meaning for you: if I take the time to reply, it knocks me out of my groove, and if you keep pestering me, it knocks me out of my groove, so either way I want nothing more than to blow your head off with my 12-gauge. Your petulant whines of "but you weren't saying anything!" don't matter. If I do not answer after one contact attempt, assume I am not there. Maybe I'm simply not there. Maybe I'm there, but I just don't feel like talking. Or, horror of horrors, maybe I'm there but I just don't feel like talking to you. Moods change; I am generally pretty antisocial, but as long as you don't continually give me reason to be antisocial in your direction, I'll feel chatty at some point.

Again: if I don't answer after one try, assume I'm not there. For all intents and purposes, it will be true.

A proto-FAQ, for questions I expect may come up:

But what if there's something I really, really need to tell you ASAP?
Email me. The address connected to this livejournal is checked frequently -- more often than I check my cellphone's voicemail -- and you can flag it "return receipt requested" so that my ISP will let you know I've read it. If "tell you" is "get your opinion on" or "have you solve for me", well, that might take longer.

I am also not particularly bothered by one-line pieces of information (useful information -- articles you think I'd find interesting fall into this category) which do not demand an immediate reply; see But, Meredith, why do you stay connected while you're working if you hate being bothered so much? for more.

But I'm lonely!
Then go out and do something with your friends. Find a new hobby, or new people who enjoy a hobby you already have. Paint your walls. Paint somebody else's walls. Volunteer for a homeless shelter, a nursing home, a hospital, or your local parks department. If all else fails, go to the animal shelter and adopt a dog.

But Meredith, why do you stay connected while you're working if you hate being bothered so much?
Because I am a deeply antisocial person with a family and a social life. IM is one of the fastest ways for my sister to get in touch with me if one of my parents is in the hospital, or for a friend to say "hey, a bunch of us are going to the movies later, give me a call before 7 if you want to meet up".

IM is also a great source of work assistance for me. I'm deeply grateful that I can reach out to [ profile] allonymist, [ profile] yoctohedron, [ profile] cipherpunk, [ profile] ti94 et al when I need someone else's perspective on a code problem, and I happily return the favour when it's within my means to do so -- and by the same token, I leave them the hell alone when they say "can't think about that right now, too busy".

That, and sometimes I just want the person-who-works-at-home version of a water-cooler break. But that happens on my schedule, not yours.

How long should I wait to ping you again, if I've tried once and you haven't answered?
Wait about an hour and try again. If I don't answer, all the above continue to apply. Note that passive-aggressive remarks, of the "why arent u there?" or "*sigh*" variety, will decrease my likelihood of responding.

But you never want to talk to me.
Then you've probably annoyed me with your constant pestering and should leave me alone for at least a couple of days. Note that if you can see me online at all, it means I haven't blocked you and am still up for talking with you at some point, but on my schedule, not yours. See But I'm lonely!, and get a dog.
maradydd: (Default)
[ profile] cristalia has a call to arms regarding the incident at this year's Hugos wherein Harlan Ellison groped Connie Willis's breast onstage.

I'm not especially involved in the SF community anymore, mainly due to lack of time and effort on my part, but I've also heard reports from [ profile] thewronghands and other tech women about inappropriate groping/wrist-grabbing/whatever from people in the tech field. Now, I have a standard response to things like this: if someone gropes me, I punch the offending party in the face. I don't care if it's a friend, an acquaintance, or a total stranger. A friend might get the courtesy of me saying "Hey, cut that shit out," but if they keep it up, they're going to get punched. Someone at #s decided it would be funny to tickle me, and ended up getting clocked in the throat. Someone at [ profile] elegantelbow's New Year's Eve party decided it was okay to fondle the scarification piece on my right shoulder, and got an elbow in the ribs for his trouble. This kind of thing doesn't happen to me often -- perhaps I'm just not the most gropeable person in the world -- but the response by now is just instinct.

However, I know there are a lot of people out there who, for some reason or another, don't feel comfortable punching an assaulter in the face. Maybe you've never hit anybody before and think it wouldn't work. Maybe you're worried about getting hit back. Maybe you were brought up to believe that Nice Girls don't do that sort of thing and haven't trained yourself out of it yet.

Well, I am not a Nice Girl, so here is my offer: if I am in your immediate vicinity and someone gropes you, I will punch them in the face for you. All you have to do is alert me -- quickly -- to the problem and the offending party. A nice loud "$name, get your hands off my $bodypart!" should suffice. This serves two purposes: one, it lets me know who to let have it, and two, it draws attention to the asshat in question and directs the condemnation of the rest of the room straight to the offending party. Shame -- particularly shame in the heat of the moment -- is a powerful disincentive toward sexually offensive behaviour. People grope other people because they think can get away with it. Okay, yes, Harlan has drawn the ire of a large part of the SF community after the fact, but unless some form of lasting censure arises from this groundswell, he has gotten away with it. Had someone raised a ruckus at the time, he would have had to deal with a rather more acute form of embarrassment than what he's being subjected to now; the condemnation of peers who are in front of you is a lot more cutting than the condemnation of peers who are far away.

So, SF folks, do what you can after the fact; I applaud that.

But next time, someone punch the asshat in the face, okay?


maradydd: (Default)

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