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I owe the Berlin trip a proper writeup, but some highlights: talk went extremely well, saw many old friends and acquaintances, came up with yet another paper we need to write with Dan Kaminsky, had some interesting discussions about a computer science curriculum that emphasizes security from the get-go, narrowed down the scope of some tools I need to write in the very near future in such a way that I can put together a proper spec now, got invited to give our talk or something very much like it again at Dartmouth. [ profile] enochsmiles and I co-present extremely well, which bodes well for future joint presentations (which I enjoy better than solo presentations, when they go well at least).

We also sort of got stuck in Berlin after seeing [ profile] foxgrrl off at TXL, as it turns out that trains from Berlin to Leuven are not to be had after about 2 pm; the farthest west we could have gotten was Liège. A glance at a rail map suggested a wild possibility: Saarbrücken, so on a wild shot I called [ profile] oralelk's office and got him on the first ring. Despite not having had much contact at all over the last, um, five years (bad Meredith, no cookie!) he was still quite happy to have us crash on his couch for the night, even coming out to meet us at 11:30 at night, staying up to chat, and putting off going in to work until well past 11 am despite having quite a lot of work to do. It was rapidly discovered that Saarbrücken is one of the least convenient places in Germany to get to Belgium from; our options were basically the ICE high-speed train to Paris and the Thalys to Brussels, or a bus to Luxembourg and two trains for roughly a quarter the price. Thus I have now been to Luxembourg, making that eight countries so far this year.

I have also just received notification that our Black Hat talk has been accepted. Thus, I will be both there and at the Open Science Summit in Berkeley immediately thereafter, July 29-31. (Current plan is to arrive in CA on the 30th.) Unfortunately, this will mean missing DEFCON, for me at least; I'm not sure about [ profile] enochsmiles.

It is going to be a wild summer, with tools to write and a journal article to finish and a couple of big chewy proofs to prove on top of all my normal work. But I'm excited!
maradydd: (Default)
Courtesy [ profile] foxgrrl, ITA Trip Finder, the best flight search engine ever. It is not pretty. It provides no upselling tie-in deals with hotels, car rentals or cruises. It will not alert you to low fares to destinations you don't care about that you might have missed.

What it does do, and that right awesomely, is provide hands-down the best search interface for budget-conscious international travelers with some flexibility in their schedules (that would be me). Using their "month-long search" function, I can tell them "find me the best-priced flight of each day in a 30-day window for a trip approximately N days long." And it will do that. None of this "oh, we can only do this for the US and Canada" horseshit, anywhere in the world. After about a minute, you get a simple HTML calendar view, with the best price in that period highlighted:

Then, click on any day in the calendar, and you get a list of all flights found for that day and trip duration, sorted by price or whatever else you want to search by:

"But wait, Meredith," I hear you say, "that's got to be a gimmick, they're not actually showing you the real prices with taxes and everything, are they?" To which I say bullshit they're not:

Fare breakdown by leg, full breakdown of taxes, everything I could possibly want in a travel search engine -- including the exact booking codes so I can just call up the airline and say "oh hai, these two flights plz, kthxbai."

ITA, you're perfect. Don't ever change. I love you for your algorithms. Can we live the rest of our lives together like it's still Web 1.0?
maradydd: (Default)
I spent my Thanksgiving weekend in a cabin in the woods near Lake Tahoe. Four days of eating well, lazing about in a hot tub, hiking, and sleeping a lot has me feeling much more human than I did last week. However, I had functionally no internet the entire time, and while I am sort of caught up on LJ, I am not particularly inclined to go back through twenty pages of posts to find out what happened while I was gone. If there was something you wanted me to read, tell me here.

I also got some absolutely badass news about one of my clandestine projects, which I will share in detail rather soon (so, uh, I guess it won't be clandestine anymore), but right now I have actual work I need to do.
maradydd: (Default)
Tuesday night: sat down in a chair on a somewhat slippery patio without looking back to confirm that the chair was actually there. Chair was not there after all. Lost balance, fell into brick windowsill, scraped hell out of right shoulderblade. (Happily, did not rip shirt.) Back muscles now all knotted and achy.

Wednesday night: was carving a piece of Mexican kingwood with my brand-new set of chisels, wood rotated unexpectedly in my hand, chisel slipped. Carved inch-long gash into the base of my left thumb. Did not sever anything important, and bleeding stopped after less than five minutes of direct pressure. Was able to see the underside of my own skin, which is pretty neat-looking; did not, alas, take photos. About then, the burgers came off the grill, so I ate dinner with my left hand on top of my head and then went to the emergency clinic about ten minutes before it closed. Three stitches. Left hand now sore and a bit itchy.

Today: slept a lot.

I'll be in Houston through Saturday afternoon if anyone still wants to get together or anything. Dallas, alas, is probably not happening. Sorry guys. :(
maradydd: (Default)
Actually, I've been back since the 7th, but I've been travelling with my folks (who, somewhat to my surprise, actually showed up for my commissioning; Dad and [ profile] turgon76 pinned on my bars, and Mom took pictures) and am heading back to Houston later today. I didn't bring my laptop to Ft. Lewis, so I'm limited to the lone Dell that's in the hotel's business centre, and have only just surfaced from the barrage of email that accumulated over the last month.

Said barrage mostly consisted of some 400 emails from Google's Summer of Code mailing list, which I hadn't signed myself onto. I thought they'd passed me over, since I'd mentioned in my application that I'd be incommunicado for all of June and gave them my dad's email address as an alternate, and Dad never heard from them. Turns out they just replied to the address I'd sent the proposal from, and luckily I happened to check my mail around 10pm on the very last day that I could accept their acceptance. Thus, I am now being paid $4500 to write the bulk of the code for my thesis. Twist my arm, please.

(What does that involve, you ask? Briefly, I'm going to write [or, more likely, extend] an SVM implementation which avoids the sucktacularity of the existing implementations I've found, to wit, shitty code or shitty licensing terms, and then embed it into PostgreSQL so that you, the end user, can write ORDER BY clauses which will order a result table in terms of "elements that are most like the elements in group Foo and least like the elements in group Bar," where Foo and Bar are groups that you, the user, define. I'll have to put together a short article on why this is useful Real Soon Now.)

Another bit of workish news that I did hear about while I was away (from multiple sources, even) is that [ profile] cipherpunk and I will be speaking at the BlackHat Briefings about Dejector. We go on at 9am on 28 July, under the title "Stopping Injection Attacks with Computational Theory". I've been talking this up for a while now, but I'm still very, very stoked about the whole thing. Alas, we will not be presenting the same talk at Defcon -- we're not as cool as Phil Zimmermann yet -- but the presentation notes will be available shortly after the conference, and the first release of the actual production code should be available sometime before the conference. TODO for tomorrow's flight home: transfer the working notes in my head onto paper so that poor beleaguered Rob can write up the tree-comparison routines himself, because thanks to Google, now I don't have time to do that myself. Dammit. Where are my clones again?

(Incidentally, [ profile] enochsmiles, I did read Kiln People while I was away. I liked it.)

Some of you are probably wondering about camp itself. I won't say I had a great time, though it was pretty good despite a higher-than-average number of stupid accidents and annoying coincidences. The cadre were excellent, though a lot of the other cadets were immature little bastards who, had they managed to piss me off just a whisker more, would have probably gotten railroaded off post with a series of EO complaints chasing them all the way back to their home universities. (I content myself now with the fact that I outrank them and will likely continue to do so as time goes on, and have no qualms about pulling said rank now that I actually have rank to pull.) I also spent an inordinately large amount of time falling into and from things, including a bush which gave me a scratched cornea, a bus, and a pulley-and-handlebars arrangement about 50' above a lake. (Well, technically I rolled into the bush, away from the simulated EPW who had a simulated grenade under him. In the real world, a stick in the eye beats shrapnel. But next time I'm keeping my eyes closed.)

Right now I'm mostly just tired: tired of being around anywhere from ten to three hundred people at all hours of the day and night, tired of having the situational-awareness radar going 24/7, tired from sleep-dep. But I did what I came to do, and I'm proud of that. And now I'm going home to do even more things to be proud of -- and, more importantly, to see the people I love.

I'll be back in Houston on the 9th, out in SF on the 20th, and back in Iowa by the first week of August. I can't wait to see everybody again.
maradydd: (Default)
In about eight hours I'm off to visit my great-aunt for the weekend. No idea whether I'll have any kind of net access while I'm there, but I'll be back on Sunday. If you need to get a hold of me, you should already know how, but you'll probably get my voicemail, as I plan to spend as much time on the beach as I can reasonably get away with.
maradydd: (Default)
I'm leaving Iowa City on the morning of 10 May and driving straight through. Yes, normally I'd stop and crash at [ profile] shkspr13's or with [ profile] sclerotic_rings and [ profile] czarina69, but this time I'm travelling with the cats, so that's really not an option.

I'll also have [ profile] yoctohedron with me for a couple of days -- he's visiting relatives in Austin about that time, so I'm going to kidnap him to Houston briefly. I haven't yet worked out whether I'll detour to Austin on the way down on the 10th, or whether I'll go straight to my parents' house, get a decent night's sleep, and go to Austin on the 11th, but it'll be one of the two.

Dallas-ites, what are your schedules looking like from 14 May on? Houstonians, what's happening between 11 May and 3 June? (I leave for LDAC on the 4th, so the 3rd will be my last hurrah for a while.)


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