Monday, September 26, 2016

The debate


Hillary is still a shameless liar. Trump rambles and won't get to the point. I'll be very surprised if this moves the needle.

Hillary exceeded expectations in that she didn't pass out. It's hard to see her improve her performance much in the next debates. Trump has more room to improve.

All in all, that's 100 minutes of my life I'd like back.

"A double charge of canister at ten yards"

Pickett's charge made it all the way across these fields from the opposite tree line. First the Union artillery and then the Union rifles picked the Confederates to pieces. Only a few made it to the monument you see in the foreground where they were obliterated by concentrated fire.

The charge broke and fell back. As the survivors streamed into their lines a trumpet played "Nearer my God to Thee". This guy did a beautiful rendition.

It was very quiet, looking at just how wide those fields are.

Antispam troll level: Grandmaster

Brian Weinreich has been trolling spammers for two years using a bot that fires realistic and ridiculous replies to the pervasive online salespeople. 
The founder of San Francisco firm Density created the bot as a means to waste the time of the blowflies of the internet after being affronted by a deluge of unsolicited sales pitches directed at his "sacred" inbox. 
Weinreich (@BeWeinreich) has posted 16 hilarious conversations in which his bot dubbed Sp@m Looper managed to engage spammers in lengthy chats.
The reason there are no anonymous comments here is that I turned it off 3 years ago - I was getting 100 - 150 spam comments a day and it was just too much work weeding the wheat from the chaff.  This flips the script - making the spammers sort out the wheel from the chaff.  Bravo.

Click through the link if you want his code to run it yourself.

Truth in advertising

The old ones are the best ones.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Josepha Barbara von Auernhammer - 6 variations on a Hungarian Theme

Josepha Barbara von Auernhammer lived in Vienna and studied under Mozart, who she fell in love with.  It was unrequited, and she ended up marrying someone else and having a fairly normal life - other than a minor musical career.  She wrote some good music which (as you'd expect) has a pronounced Mozartian influence.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Farnsworth House Inn, Gettysburg

If you're in the Gettysburg area and are a history buff, this is worth a visit. There is period food in a historic building, and a collection of uniforms from the 1992 film "Gettysburg".

Gettysburg has more than a touch of Disney, but unlike Disney there is a core of real history.

All in all, this is abfun place to stop for an afternoon beer.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Doofus of the Day

Are you running late for a flight?  Worried that you're going to miss it?  Don't do this:
A Canadian idiot has been sentenced to a year behind bars after he was found guilty of calling in a bomb threat because he was running late for his flight. 
Michael Howells, 37, pleaded guilty to two counts of criminal mischief and received 12 months in jail along with a fine of CA$3,844.88 (US$3,000, £2,200). 
Howells was sentenced for the 2014 hoax when, running late for a flight from Kelowna, BC, he phoned in an anonymous bomb threat to the airport claiming the Calgary-bound plane he was due to fly on had been rigged with explosives. His plan was to cause takeoff to be delayed so he'd make the flight.
Good idea, Einstein.  Click through to read the hilarious story about how Officer Friendly apprehended Our Hero.  Snerk.

(Hat tip to Peter)

If Karma ran over Dogma ...

... This would be weird.

An actual reason to ride Amtrak

Best.  Security.  Marketing.  EVER.

"Keep your belt on.  We hardly know you."

[stands]  [clap] [clap] [clap]

More like this, please.


Thursday, September 22, 2016

St. Stephen's Cathedral, Vienna

Photo taken from the roof of the Sofitel, in their Das Loft bar. They have quite a good toasted blood sausage and fennel sandwich, washed down by the local wine.

Vienna was interesting. Between the city center and the airport (and extending all the way to the border) is a huge windmill farm. There must be 500 or a thousand of them. I guess Vienna isn't expensive enough and they need millions of euros a year in subsidies.

Alas, I was too worn out from this trip to go out and see the city, but it looks worthwhile coming back. Tomorrow I'll post about Bratislava, a really interesting place.

Well, tomorrow your time. For me it's 0520 and I'm on the way to the airport. It's always a good flight when you're going home.

Minutes Away

Just a reminder from a retired cop.

Wandering in Copenhagen

All y'all asked, so here it is.

Copenhagen is an interesting place.  One problem with many places in Europe is that the history is so present that it gets almost Disney-esque.  Copenhagen has a pretty interesting mixture of old and new (think "Danish Modern"), as you can see in the picture here.

Just down the street is a delightful old building, which is right next to a brand new one that has clean (almost antiseptic) lines.

Danish Modern isn't really my cup of tea, but it looks like the Danes are making this work for them.  There's lots of construction going on all over the town center, so business seems good.  The one part of the city that does have a more typical don't-mess-with-the-history European feel is the water front. If you turned 180° around on this spot you'd be looking out on the harbor.  All in all, a nice place to walk off the jet lag.

Denmark is a pretty expensive country, with the current exchange rate of around 6.5 Kroner to a dollar, prices seem maybe 35% higher than I was expecting.  Maybe my expectations weren't calibrated well, but expect to drop $50 on lunch without too much trouble.

One thing I noticed is that people here are tall (both men and women).  Noticeably tall.  I'm 6' 1", and was regularly looking up at people.  Old Viking stock, I guess.

Also, it didn't seem that there were a ton of immigrants.  Some, yes, but less than I was expecting.  Again, maybe my expectations weren't calibrated properly, but Denmark has some pretty onerous immigration laws - for example, seizing immigrant's money to cover costs of social benefits.  Maybe that's just to encourage them to keep moving to neighboring Sweden.

Oh, and the Tivoli amusement park seemed surprisingly small.  As the oldest in Europe (and maybe the world) and in the middle of some very expensive property values that's not too surprising.

How did we live without bluetooth controlled candles?

[blink] [blink]:
Someone with far more time and money than sense has developed a “real flame smart candle” that can be controlled over Bluetooth. No, really. 
The Ludela smart candle is some kind of bastard offspring of an electric vape and a wax candle. Boasting a “real flame”, the ludicrous Ludela candle comes with a smartphone app that allows idiots who hand over good beer tokens for more than one of these things to control the light (flame) level remotely.
[blink] [blink]

I'm actually speechless.  I'd mock this, but it really seems that it comes pre-mocked.
“The safety module was developed and rigorously tested by some of the world's finest engineers of Surface Ink in San Jose, California."
Well that explains it.  Probably after drinking $43 martinis.  Is it National Punch-A-Silicon-Valley-Hipster Week yet?

A [blank] and his [blank] are soon [blank]

San Francisco watering hole offers a $43 martini:
Epic Steak, a waterfront dining spot popular with the finance and tech sectors that have come to dominate the city's downtown, has begun offering the £33 Fog Point Martini, a drink that bills itself as being infused with, umm, fog. 
The drink, it is said, is made with a special vodka crafted by the Local Hangar 1 Distillery using water gathered from special "fog catcher" machines that condense the water vapors out of the "marine layer" that blows into the Bay Area much of the year. 
That, combined with some vermouth and a lemon twist, will set you back a cool $43 bucks, plus tip, and the gnawing feeling that you have sold your soul to live in an unsustainable bubble society built on delusion and bravado.
Now I like a good martini as much as the next man (Bombay Sapphire straight up, extra olives, don't be chintzy on the vermouth).  But I start to mutter dark comments when the price approaches double digits.  For $43, I'd expect to get right toasted.

But hey San Francisco hipsters - always nice to have another reason to punch you! And El Reg brings the snark:
You will not be surprised to hear that the drink is a hit in the Bay Area and the fog-infused vodka sold out faster than a computer science grad at a VC mixer.
Is it National Punch-A-Silicon-Valley-Hipster week?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Blogging from Europe

I'm in Copenhagen with a layover before flying on to Vienna and then by car to Bratislava. The layover gave me the opportunity to see the town which I had never done before.

This is, of course, the statue of Hans Christian Anderson's Little Mermaid. It was a little disappointing, but the rest of the city is pretty nice.

Posting will be spotty for a couple days.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Tesla hacked - remotely and while it is in motion

Chinese hackers have attacked Tesla electric cars from afar, using exploits that can activate brakes, unlock doors, and fold mirrors from up to 20 kilometres (12 miles) away while the cars are in motion. 
Keen Security Lab senior researchers Sen Nie, Ling Liu, and Wen Lu, along with director Samuel Lv, demonstrated the hacks against a Tesla Model S P85 and 75D and say their efforts will work on multiple Tesla models. 
The Shanghai, China-based hacking firm has withheld details of the world-first zero day attacks and privately disclosed the flaws to Tesla.
Here's an idea - now let's make all those things drive "autonomously".  I wonder what that word even means in a security context ...