(no subject)

May. 29th, 2015 06:30 pm
naath: (Default)
[personal profile] naath
Died on this day in 1676 aged 2 Leopold Hohenzollern , Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach (my toy,wikipedia). Half-brother of Caroline who married George II.

Born on this day in 1888 to Earl Spencer and Agnes Hughes, Earl Spencer Jr. (my toy,wikipedia). One of Wallis Simpson's previous husbands. Earl had 4 wives in total, and this bit of the family tree gets a bit tangly what with all the divorcing.
kaberett: photograph of the Moon taken from the northern hemisphere by GH Revera (moon)
[personal profile] kaberett
Defining my terms at the top of the page. )
The part where I wryly tell anecdotes so you can gauge your interest in reading several thousand words on the topic
I've been talking intermittently over the last little while about shit like theology as repository of psychosocial extelligence (e.g.). Thursday lunchtime I realised with some dismay that I needed a purification ritual and I needed one fast and all of this is stuff I'm cobbling together as I go along, but I ended up with: sorting out my hair; showering even though it was hard; scrubbing my face and hands with some of the nice salt we keep in; moisturising with the E45 that I stuck a couple of bay leaves in lo these many years ago; eating half a teaspoon of honey from a friend's parents' hives; and then I spent the journey over to the tattoo shop meditating, and now I have symbology etched on me, and it is good -- but I have also realised that I've been doing most of my talking about this stuff via chatting with people one-on-one and I might perhaps benefit from going into a bit more detail, a little more formally.

So. )
sonia: Quilted wall-hanging (Default)
[personal profile] sonia
Bike manners say that when you see a cyclist changing a flat tire by the side of the road, you ask, "Got everything you need?" and slow down long enough to hear their answer. It's less crucial in the city, but out on country roads you might save someone a loooong walk, or a miserable hour if they don't really know how to fix a flat.

I went shopping at my local coop at about 9pm tonight, and as I was swinging out of the parking lot on my bike, I realized the young woman behind me was wrestling with changing a car tire. I called back, "Got everything you need?"

She hesitated, and asked me if I had done it before. I said yes, and settled in to help. Actually, first I said, "I can stay and help, or leave you to it if you prefer. It's totally up to you." She opted for me to stay. Fortunately it's a nice warm clear night.

My main contribution was standing on the wrench and bouncing to get the lug nuts to loosen, and then just generally providing support and holding my bike light as a flashlight. She was reading the instructions and following them step by step, and would have been fine, except I don't think she was heavy enough to move those lug nuts.

Thing is, it's been something like 20 years since I changed a flat car tire. I remember doing it in 1989 when I'd first moved to California, and I think maybe one other time after that. Haven't owned a car for 12 years, so it's definitely been that long.

But my dad taught me to change car tires when I used to watch/help him do car maintenance as a kid, and I still clearly remember him telling me to tighten alternate lug nuts, not going around the circle in order.

I am duly physically therapized

May. 28th, 2015 05:04 pm
redbird: closeup of me drinking tea (Default)
[personal profile] redbird
I skipped last week because I didn't want to deal with the health insurance annoyance just then, and don't seem to have suffered significantly by doing so.

The key points here are: keep icing, even though the shoulder is feeling quite a bit better; and if an exercise starts to feel like I could do sets of 12 instead of 10, increase the weight/resistance instead. (There are some practical issues here, to do with things like availability of free weights, but I can work around that.) Also, one thing they set up, I looked at and said "I could do that in my sleep" and asked for more resistance—the "I could do it in my sleep" reaction was a combination of familiar-looking activity and the amount of resistance. (I guessed right on that one, in that I did three sets of 10, and they were moderately difficult but not painful.)

I will need to poke at a calendar and see what the best way of scheduling sessions around my June travel is; ideally I won't either go to PT while half asleep, or go three weeks between sessions. (Two and a half weeks may be unavoidable, though.)
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
[personal profile] kaberett
1. [personal profile] wyrdatlast has started writing a series about about coming to terms with diagnosis of chronic illnesses, viewed in a framing of grief, which I suspect a bunch of you will be interested in, and for which I personally am v grateful because it means I don't gotta get around to writing the wretched things. ;)

2. BECAUSE OF REASONS (do my housemate a favour by doing me a favour, folk?) if those of you in the tech/computer science industry felt like writing a couplefew paragraphs about what your job is actually like for someone with a very strong CS background but no industry experience, I'd be super grateful. Comments here or e-mail are great. Cheerssss xx

Reminder Sichuan food on Sunday!

May. 28th, 2015 10:19 pm
doseybat: (Default)
[personal profile] doseybat
Sunday 31 May

Ma Po
176-178 Lower Road, Surrey Quays, London SE16 2UN

Will make a booking for [personal profile] nou, [personal profile] pplfichi, [personal profile] liv, [personal profile] jack, [identity profile] ghoti.livejournal.com, [personal profile] cjwatson +2, [personal profile] secretlondon. Please let me know by noon on Saturday 30th if you would like to join us.

(no subject)

May. 28th, 2015 05:02 pm
naath: (Default)
[personal profile] naath
Died on this day in 1972 aged 77 King Edward VIII of Great Britain (my toy,wikipedia). Edward was King for less than a year before abdicating to marry Wallis Simpson; apparently the British couldn't cope with a King marrying a divorced woman with two living ex-husbands. Since he was a Nazi sympathiser this was probably a Good Thing. He lived most of his life in France.

Born on this day in 1660 to Ernest Hanover , Elector of Brunswick-Luneburg and Sophia of Hanover, King George I of Great Britain (my toy,wikipedia). Queen Anne died without any living children, so the crown passed to her 2nd cousin George who was also a grandchild of James VI & I. George had married his first cousin, to ensure that he inherited his uncle's bits of Hanover as well as his father's, the marriage was not happy and was eventually dissolved (she was basically locked up subsequently, albeit in a nice castle). In Britain he was unpopular for being "too German".
kaberett: a watercolour of a pale gold/salmon honeysuckle blossom against a background of green leaves (honeysuckle)
[personal profile] kaberett
... and twice makes a tradition. P-the-ethical & I have a habit of going for A Fancy Meal most times we end up in the same place, which we probably need to curb a little now that we see each other more than twice a year, and he was keen to go back and is an excellent dining companion; I'd been wanting to know what facesfriend thought of the place since he'd mentioned to me that work owed him a fancy dinner; and I was wanting to introduce them in a context that wasn't in point of fact A Party. Plus taking more people out to fancy vegetarian dinners means I get to try more of the food, so. That was a motivation.

Read more... )

As one might expect service was unobtrusive except when they had no option, e.g. the committee that assembled to gape in amusement at how badly I'd got my hair tangled in my coat on arrival; and the point at which we came to pay, my boys looked at each other and me and pulled out their cards and said we'd sort out my contribution later, the waiter was very carefully very impassive, and I ended up going bright pink and burying my head in my hands and giggling because yes, in fact, it was exactly what it looked like. But also at a point earlier in the meal I'd mentioned that It Was My Birthday Treat, was wished a happy birthday, and then my dessert came out on a plate with "Happy Birthday" in the glaze and a candle on top of it. So! It was showy but also judged exactly right for me. It was lovely. <3

Reading Sea of Poppies

May. 27th, 2015 10:13 pm
badgerbag: (Default)
[personal profile] badgerbag
Reading Sea of Poppies from [Unknown site tag]al-zorra's review the other day. I really like it! Picking up the words from context but at some point I will just read straight through this glossary by the author: http://www.amitavghosh.com/chrestomathy.html. I may read everything I can find by him for the next couple of weeks.

Finished my re-read of North and South. I love it but also want to make fun of it. All that virtuousness and dying and agonizing neurotically! Also what a case of the Nice White Ladies. Then I felt like it wound me up to expect a huge mutual brain dump of Mr. What's his name and Margaret explaining everything to each other and their change of heart, but it was over in 2 pages. WTF, draw it out a little bit Gaskell! This does not mean I didn't love it and all the union things and the more or less sympathetic view of working class and poor people. BUT I have a big butt, Margaret's virtuous position is that if the masters and servants and working class just hang out a little bit more they will fight less and it won't matter that someone gets to be ridiculously wealthy and comfortable while other people are still super poor but may be lucky enough not to starve to death. Please. You over there in the mansion, tone it down a little and start a dinner buying coop for your factory workers and you, workers, read the bible more and ... drink slightly less and don't actually beat anyone up when you go on strike which you won't any more becasue the masters have explained why they can't give you a raise but are still in a mansion with a carriage and so on... No, that doesn't work does it?

*cough* Thursday *cough* reading

May. 28th, 2015 03:30 pm
naath: (Default)
[personal profile] naath

The Day The World Turned Upside Down. Thomas Olde Heuvelt. The only non-puppy piece of short fiction on the Hugo ballot. It's quite fun, and an amusing idea. But I'm still not a huge fan of short fiction that isn't a cute logic puzzle or a silly pun which means I'm mostly "meh" about it.

Rogues. Still a set of short bits, still largely "meh" because see above, but tolerably entertaining.

Exotic England: Them Making of a Curious Nation; Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. The author describes herself as Ugandan Asian, and the book is a summary of English interactions with non-white people both positive and negative throughout history. Lots of interesting facts about things I'd sort of vaguely heard of.

Buffy season 9: I've read 8, it was OK, Richard got 9 so I'll read it


I am bouncing off the notion of reading dreadful puppy crap something rotten. I do think that horrible people can write good books sometimes (I have read and enjoyed quite a bit of it), but I'm not a huge fan of short work in general and I read all the puppy stuff last year and it's not that it's *enraging* but just... dull. Anyway, it's all on my Kobo in case I develop a sudden case of wanting to read it.

I've got Novik's Uprooted which I am looking forward to, and have fixed my copy of Crusades Through Arab Eyes so I can read it, so one of those.
nou: The word "kake" in a white monospaced font on a black background (Default)
[personal profile] nou
[livejournal.com profile] squirmelia and I are organising a Computer Anonymous meet up at the St George's Tavern in London on 3rd June. More details:

Computer Anonymous:

London group:
megpie71: Photo of sign reading "Those who throw objects at the crocodiles will be asked to retrieve them." (Crocodiles)
[personal profile] megpie71
Item the first )

Item the Second )

So I'm having a nice quiet day of smug satisfaction at my own perspicacity. Given the rest of the day involves my jerk-brain telling me I'm useless, hopeless and won't achieve anything (to the point where I'm having to take photos of the housework as I'm doing it to prove the wretched thing wrong) it's nice for the external world to give me a bit of validation.


May. 27th, 2015 10:07 pm
agent_dani: (Default)
[personal profile] agent_dani
$DEITIES preserve me.

An acquaintance is trying to get me to buy an flax wheel she has that needs minor repair and is truly lovely...and has a complete birdcage distaff! My wife would kill me if I brought yet another wheel into the house...

And if two people do it —

May. 27th, 2015 02:47 pm
commodorified: an image of an old woodenhulled icebreaker in a narrow open channel (northwest passage)
[personal profile] commodorified
[personal profile] theleaveswant reminds me that it is Bruce Cockburn's birthday.

Come, let us glory in his talent together:

Last Night of the World (lovely live version with good sound).

When it's Gone it's Gone (Audio only)

I don't know why I can't get the embedding code on the iPad, and I have to Do The Things and don't have time to chase it down, but if anyone grabs them for me I'll edit the post. *looks cute*

ETA: dep't of Be Careful What You Ask For — here is Bruce Cockburn, in Afghanistan, being presented with a rocket launcher.

Weirdly, this was the second time somebody tried to give him one. The first time was apparently from the trunk of a car at a show in Washington state. He declined politely.

Rust release lightning talk

May. 27th, 2015 08:58 am
graydon2: (Default)
[personal profile] graydon2
I don't often give talks about Rust, but I was in Tokyo recently during the Rust 1.0 release and figured I'd drop in on the Mozilla Tokyo office release party. I figured they'd try to make me talk about something, so I prepared a lightning talk. As is typical of my Rust-project communication style, I presented in point form. This is the contents of the talk:

Five lists of six things about Rust:

  1. Six ways Rust is fundamentally different from how it started

    1. Borrow checker subsumed most other safety mechanisms, lots discarded
    2. Much more static: monomorphization of sizes, glue code, and static trait dispatch
    3. LLVM: strengths (amazing optimization) and weaknesses (narrow semantics)
    4. Between these two points, maybe 100x faster at runtime, 100x slower to compile
    5. Grammar, resolution, dispatch, type system much more complex, expressive
    6. Adopted standard C platform stack, threads, ABI, linkage, mangling, unwinding

  2. Six ways Rust is fundamentally the same as how it started

    1. Safety through memory ownership and isolation, no global GC, no aliased mutable state
    2. Default immutable, algebraic data types ("ML in C++ clothing")
    3. Focus on dense memory layout, interior allocation, minimizing pointer chasing, vectors over lists
    4. No global namespace, everything module scoped and crate relative
    5. Support for standard tools: gdb, perf, dtrace, objdump
    6. RAII, dtors, idempotent uncatchable unwinding ("crash only")

  3. Six things we lost along the way

    1. Typestate system
    2. Effect system
    3. Function complexities: parameter modes, argument binding, stack iterators, tail calls
    4. Language-integrated runtime for tasks, channels, logging
    5. GC pointers, task local GC (yes, rustboot had a real mark/sweep)
    6. Dynamic, structural object types

  4. Six things we gained along the way

    1. Lambdas, with environment capture
    2. First class borrowed pointers -- not just parameter modes -- with explicit lifetimes
    3. Traits, with associated items
    4. Hygienic macros beyond just raw syntax extensions
    5. Multiple parallelism modes beyond just actors (ARC, fork/join, SIMD)
    6. Cargo, crates.io, a huge vibrant community!

  5. Six things I'm irrationally, disproportionately pleased by

    1. Rich patterns: slice patterns, range patterns, or patterns
    2. Novel consequences of move semantics: static freeze/thaw, iterators that consume their containers
    3. Rich syntax extensions: compile time regular expressions, SQL statements, docopt
    4. Novel embeddings: postgres and python extensions, crypto libraries, kernels in rust
    5. C++ ballpark on benchmarks
    6. A 1.0 stable release after nearly a decade of work

  6. (Ok, maybe my pleasure at some of these is rational and proportionate..)

(no subject)

May. 27th, 2015 04:48 pm
naath: (Default)
[personal profile] naath
Died on this day in 1444 aged 41 John Beaufort , 1st Duke of Somerset (my toy,wikipedia). Grand-father of Henry VII, grand-son of John of Gaunt. Seems to have been a mostly not very good military commander.

Born on this day in 1626 to Frederick Prince of Orange and Amalia of Solms-Braunfels, William II Prince of Orange (my toy,wikipedia). Father of William II & III, married to a daughter of Charles I. At this point the Netherlands was at war with Spain.

"Truth is the first casualty of war."

May. 27th, 2015 09:47 am
tim: Solid black square (black)
[personal profile] tim
"What artists and prisoners have in common is that both know what it means to be free."
-- James Baldwin

As of today, Chelsea Manning has been in prison for five years for doing right by her country. Freedom isn't free. In the article, she writes that five years ago, she was "considerably less mature". She is a day short of seven years younger than me. Five years ago she was 22 years old, unimaginably young.

Maybe the world needs more young people who don't fully understand "the potential consequences and outcomes of [their] actions". Isn't that what the abstract idea of fighting for your country is about -- the recruitment of people too young to comprehend the consequences of death, or of being alive and unable to forget what you saw? Fully aware of consequences or not, Chelsea Manning did the right thing, knowing at least on some level what the cost could be to her as a trans woman, when so many people with so much less to lose did not do the right thing. I ask myself if I could do what she did, and because the terms and conditions of my life are such that I'll never have as much to lose as she did in 2010 and does now, I don't and won't know the answer.

Maybe it's no surprise, even, that a trans woman gave this gift to us. I know how deep the need to know the truth can go when you're brought up in a world that seems to be built on lies. We as trans people all come from a world like that, even those of us who only have the fuzziest sense early on that we're being lied to about who we are. To paraphrase (IIRC) Katha Pollitt, social change is made by people who can't stand the way things are any more. It's not made by people who are well-served by the world as it is.

Likewise, maybe Manning was better prepared to give up her freedom for the sake of exposing an unjust war because she knew she was never going to be free anyway. They say freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose, but maybe those of us who have never felt free, who never had the illusion that the world was going to be full of people who'd walk hand in hand with us on our journey to self-actualization, are actually the most free. We may be afraid of a lot of things, but we do know that freedom -- for us -- won't arise from fear of rattling the cage we were born in.

The world needs people like Manning, but people like her don't need to sacrifice their freedom for a world that is often unworthy. Chelsea Manning made that sacrifice anyway. Let's not forget. Let's hope for her freedom and for all of our freedom from fear, violence, and lies.

standing on the firing line,
leaving all the others behind,
running to the fray,
going where no man will go,
running to confront every foe,
On another good dying day.
-- Bob Franke
[personal profile] mjg59
This is currently the top story on the Linux subreddit. It links to this Tweet which demonstrates using a System Management Mode backdoor to perform privilege escalation under Linux. This is not a story.

But first, some background. System Management Mode (SMM) is a feature in most x86 processors since the 386SL back in 1990. It allows for certain events to cause the CPU to stop executing the OS, jump to an area of hidden RAM and execute code there instead, and then hand off back to the OS without the OS knowing what just happened. This allows you to do things like hardware emulation (SMM is used to make USB keyboards look like PS/2 keyboards before the OS loads a USB driver), fan control (SMM will run even if the OS has crashed and lets you avoid the cost of an additional chip to turn the fan on and off) or even more complicated power management (some server vendors use SMM to read performance counters in the CPU and adjust the memory and CPU clocks without the OS interfering).

In summary, SMM is a way to run a bunch of non-free code that probably does a worse job than your OS does in most cases, but is occasionally helpful (it's how your laptop prevents random userspace from overwriting your firmware, for instance). And since the RAM that contains the SMM code is hidden from the OS, there's no way to audit what it does. Unsurprisingly, it's an interesting vector to insert malware into - you could configure it so that a process can trigger SMM and then have the resulting SMM code find that process's credentials structure and change it so it's running as root.

And that's what Dmytro has done - he's written code that sits in that hidden area of RAM and can be triggered to modify the state of the running OS. But he's modified his own firmware in order to do that, which isn't something that's possible without finding an existing vulnerability in either the OS or (or more recently, and) the firmware. It's an excellent demonstration that what we knew to be theoretically possible is practically possible, but it's not evidence of such a backdoor being widely deployed.

What would that evidence look like? It's more difficult to analyse binary code than source, but it would still be possible to trace firmware to observe everything that's dropped into the SMM RAM area and pull it apart. Sufficiently subtle backdoors would still be hard to find, but enough effort would probably uncover them. A PC motherboard vendor managed to leave the source code to their firmware on an open FTP server and copies leaked into the wild - if there's a ubiquitous backdoor, we'd expect to see it there.

But still, the fact that system firmware is mostly entirely closed is still a problem in engendering trust - the means to inspect large quantities binary code for vulnerabilities is still beyond the vast majority of skilled developers, let alone the average user. Free firmware such as Coreboot gets part way to solving this but still doesn't solve the case of the pre-flashed firmware being backdoored and then installing the backdoor into any new firmware you flash.

This specific case may be based on a misunderstanding of Dmytro's work, but figuring out ways to make it easier for users to trust that their firmware is tamper free is going to be increasingly important over the next few years. I have some ideas in that area and I hope to have them working in the near future.
kaberett: Photo of a cassowary with head tilted to one side (cassowary)
[personal profile] kaberett
Read more... )

This post brought to you by having hit the point in the evening where I'm picking fights on tumblr.


tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
Tim Chevalier

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