Friday, September 30, 2016

Excellent translation

Any questions?

After 40 years, Artificial Intelligence still disappoints

Once more into the breach:
Google's computer vision software was attempting to evaluate my facial expressions, and to then infer my emotional state. In order for the machine to have a fighting chance, the menu of emotions was limited to surprise, sorrow, anger, or joy. 
The Googlers presiding over the demonstration urged a fellow attendee and me, to be surprised, sad, angry, and happy for the camera. The images of our grimaces and grins were then processed by the Cloud Vision API in an effort to identify our expressions. Were it a casting call, neither of us would have landed the role. 
The results were OK. The algorithm correctly detected the joy we were faking. But it mistook my attempt to feign surprise as more glee. My sad and angry faces left the algorithm uncertain and unable to render a decisive verdict on my theatrics.
So why such slow progress, for such a long time?  The short answer is that this problem is really, really hard.  A more subtle answer is that we really don't understand what intelligence is (at least being able to define it with specificity), and so that makes it really hard to program.

In some ways we are living in the future.  This Intertubes thingie is outstanding, and videoconferencing and Telepresence are cool.  But no AI or flying cars.  Or Moon cities.  And the article ends with some good advice:
As a development tool, the Cloud Vision API is a marvel. Being able to make a few API calls and identify an image has many potential applications. Some of them may even be useful. But the suggestion put forth by the Emotobooth minders, that companies could use the technology to evaluate customer sentiment, might not be the best way to engage with people.
Go home, AI.  You're drunk,

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Overheard in the office

This is not the future I was promised

Samsung exploding washing machines.

I literally do not have anything to add to that, and all y'all know how wordy I usually get.

Why is there so many successful cyber attacks?

It seems that the cost of a breach is a lot lower than people have been saying, and so it is a rational business decision to under invest in cyber security.  The implication is that we can expect more successful attacks.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Not bad. Not bad.

When the "Internet Of Things" attacks

They're heeeere:
The world's largest distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack has been clocked from the same network of 152,463 compromised low-powered cameras and internet-of-things devices which punted a media outlet off the internet.
It's cheap to put in Internet capability with crummy security.  It lets a vendor hit a price point that is attractive.  And it gets hundreds of thousands of dangerous devices out for J. Random Blackhat to play reindeer games with.

The attack threw a terabit of junk at the target every second.  That will knock most things off the 'net.

Class action lawsuits are in order.

Random debate thoughts

Trump had some serious missed opportunities to score some points against Hillary.  The time when she talked about how he wasn't releasing his tax returns and "what is he hiding" didn't get the trumping response I was expecting.  Same thing when she was talking about cyber security and he didn't bring up her email server.

She did better on not looking sick than I had expected.  However, her nurse was in the front row and immediately after the debate Hillary went right over to her and did the whole finger pulling thing.  There is something wrong with her health, although she handled herself well last night.

Trump's biggest job was to show that Hillary's main attack themes against him - that he's unstable and racist - were wrong.  I think he succeeded.  He didn't come off as unstable, just rambly and, well, a little boring.  Probably that was the intent.  I actually think that this is more important than a lot of people think.

Trump seems to learn as he goes.  I expect he will give a better debate performance next time.  It's hard to see how Hillary could improve, and there are a lot of scenarios where she could do worse.  If the goal is to peak right before the election, Trump seems to be in a better position.

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 wheat 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.

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.

UPDATE: More Copenhagen here.

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 ...

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Political field report from the wilds of Maryland

The Queen Of The World and I went to the Frederick (MD) County Fair last night.  We both love the county fairs, and this one was only 15 minutes from Castle Borepatch.  While wandering among the booths on the midway, we ran across the Democratic Party booth.  It was heavily staffed, but nobody was stopping by - the crowd completely ignored it.

Then we saw someone walking by with a Trump For President yard sign.  The Queen Of The World wanted one to display over the moat, and so we went in search of the Republican booth.  It was harder to find but had a regular traffic of people coming in and paying $2 for the yard signs*.  I asked one of the guys working the booth how busy they had been and he said that they were swamped, and had sold literally hundreds of signs that day.

In deep blue Maryland.

I don't think that people realize just how this election is shaping up.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

A reminder of the unsavoriness of both Clintons

First, Hillary:

This is clearly anti-Hillary agitprop, but in the same way that this was anti-McCain agitprop in 2008:

Note the camera angle selected to cast unflattering shadows.  The video does this too; in my mind that detracts from the video's argument.  However, notice that the video has clear sourcing on just about everything.  As Mythbusters would say, "Plausible".

And some of the weaker points brought up here are discussed by the late, great Christopher Hitchens (whose journalistic credentials are disputed by nobody).  In particular, he goes over Dick Morris and Sid Blumenthal at some length.

I'm sure that my readers will recognize the Blumenthal name as the same one that the Trump campaign says (via a former McClatchy bureau chief) started the whole Obama "Birther" business back in 2008.  Sidney was seemingly useful to the Clintons over the course of two decades.

I can understand how someone would want to vote for her because they self-identify as a Democrat.  Tribal instincts run deep in the human psyche.  I may not agree with their choice, but we are not rational beings - rather, we are rationalizing beings.

But this is who the Clintons are.  This is who Hillary is.  The only excuse to vote for her is because of a tribal instinct.  Remember that.

So would Donald Trump be a good President?  I certainly can't say.  What I can say is that the single biggest political problem facing this Republic today is a crisis in governmental legitimacy.  Hillary is astonishingly unequipped to deal with this.  Trump, as an outsider in the political arena at least has the possibility.

Pondering mortality

Kudzu faces that final decision that we must all one day make for a loved pet.  His pondering is worth your time.

Tommy Collins - It Tickles

The 1950s saw the emergence of a unique sound in Country music.  The Bakersfield sound was sort of the punk rock of 1950s Country - a reaction against the over-produced Nashville product, with a focus on the electric guitar.  Tommy Collins was one of the pioneers of this sound, and this sound was one of his first.

The Bakersfield sound led ultimately to Merle Haggard who influenced pretty much everyone in the music industry.

Friday, September 16, 2016

An apology to our readers

I'm embarrassed to have to post this, but please note that any blog comments that you see here from "Mrs. Borepatch" are from the ex-Mrs. Borepatch.  The Queen Of The World is an entirely different person.

The Queen and I both regret this public display and hope that you all understand.

Pokemon R00t - I choose you!

Half a million users have downloaded a Pokemon Go app that pwns their phone:
An Android app masquerading as a guide for Pokemon GO players is rooting devices and secretly installing adware and unwanted apps on the user's smartphone. 
The app, named Guide for Pokémon Go, made its way onto the official Google Play Store, from where over 500,000 users downloaded and installed it on their smartphones.

Remember Borepatch's First Law of Security: "Free download" means "Open your mouth and shut your eyes."

 Let's be careful out there.

The neighborhood children will need therapy after this

Remember how the FBI wanted Apple to unlock the San Bernadino terrorist's iPhone?

Remember how they said it was impossible for them to do it without Apple's help?

Yeah, not so much.

Shorter FBI to Apple: "Please unlock this for us because we're lazy and incompetent and unable or unwilling to do our jobs investigating terrorists.  But it would be great if you'd give us the ability to unlock non-terrorist's phones anytime we want."

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Well that's your problem, right there

Quote of the Day: Death of the Media edition

[The MSM] can't help her now. They tried too hard before. Too bad the Democratic Party didn't give us a democratic experience this time. They foisted a candidate on us, they rigged it, with the assistance of the media. And now the candidate we didn't want zombie-walks and stumbles to the finish line, and there is nothing the Party or the media can do to stir up our affection. Meanwhile, the man the media loved to hate is powering through to the Presidency, looking only stronger for all the shots he took.
Ann Althouse on the Gallup poll showing trust in the media at an all time low.

Now you can kill any device with a USB port

There's all sorts of mischief you could do with one of these:
Once a proof-of-concept, the pocket-sized USB stick now fits in any security tester's repertoire of tools and hacks, says the Hong Kong-based company that developed it. It works like this: when the USB Kill stick is plugged in, it rapidly charges its capacitors from the USB power supply, and then discharges -- all in the matter of seconds.
On unprotected equipment, the device's makers say it will "instantly and permanently disable unprotected hardware".
I guess it's worth repeating my advice to be very suspicious of any USB stick you find lying in the parking lot.

The only good news about this is that the Bad Guy has to have physical access to the target device, but still ...

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Spider Halloween costumes

Android really, really wants to know where you are

This is creepy:
Security researcher Mustafa Al-Bassam reported on Twitter that he "almost had a heart attack" when he walked into a McDonald's and was prompted on his phone to download the fast food restaurant's app. 
Al-Bassam dug into his phone's apps to figure out how that had happened, and was amazed to find that his suspected culprit – Google Maps – was not responsible. It was Google Play that had monitored his location thousands of times. 
Again, this is deliberate: Google is using your location to tout apps to you. If you wander into a pharmacy, you'll be offered software to print your photos, for example. 
If you're not keen on this, the options are not great: you can either delete Google Maps and/or Google Play, or you have to repeatedly turn your phone's location services on and off as required throughout the day, which is extremely irritating. 
"Kind of defeats the purpose of fine-grained privacy controls," Al-Bassam noted, adding: "Google is encouraging developers to use the Play location API instead of the native Android API, making an open OS dependent on proprietary software."
I just turned off location services.

Democrats feel the Bern!

Ouch.  Ouch:

People wanted her to act more like Bernie, but I don’t think they meant the one from ‘Weekend at Bernie’s'.

When you've lost The New Yorker, it's a Bad Moon Rising.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Hitler runs the Democratic National Committee?

Explains rather a lot, really.

A Field Guide to Trump supporters

Over at The Gormogons.  It's an interesting take, although it doesn't quite feel complete (for example, it leaves out Tribal Republicans who would vote for Buckley's recommendation).  However, this comes pretty close to my own position:
Burn It All Downers are those who want Trump to win because they figure he’s the candidate most likely to cause a collapse of the current corrupt order, forcing a rethinking of America’s entire structure. To ‘Puter, this is the most logical and sound reason to consider voting for Trump. Trump *is* the most likely to immanentize the eschaton, in the same way that getting the Keymaster and the Gatekeeper together freed Zuul from his captivity and brought our destructor, the 50 foot Sta-Puft Marshmallow Man. Large chunks of the non-racist Alt-Right along with certain despairing conservatives make their home in this group.
One quibble that I have with 'Puter is in one of his footnotes:
Bonus reasons Former Never Trumpers hate Trump: ... he has fascist tendencies;
I don't think that he's a fascist more than all of the rest of the political and business elite.  He's either a fascist like them or a dirty commie like them.  To my mind, there's not enough distance between the two types for light to shine through, but that's just me.  (Click through that link for an explanation)

Good advice for posting

Fortunately of this blog, there's no rule saying you need to keep your posts short!


We went camping in Williamsburg last weekend, at a beautiful little campground.

It was fun, and your humble blogger did all the cooking over the campfire.  It just goes to show that you can eat gourmet even when you smell like wood smoke.

Apologies for the lack of posting.  I'll kick start the blogging machine to get things back to normal.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Garth Brooks - The Dance

My Father-In-Law's burial reminded me of Dad's.  The military does the services with a precision that comes from repetition.  I posted this song once before, about how I used to roll my eyes at the maudlin lyrics.  I was young and foolish at the time, and hadn't been through loss that was so, well, final.

But life is for the living.  We know that the song will someday end, but ours plays on for now.  Seize the day.  Even now envious time is fleeing.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Semper Fi, Code Talker

One of the last of the World War II Code Talkers sets out on the Navajo Beauty Way:
Joe Hosteen Kellwood, a Navajo Code Talker from World War II, died Monday in Phoenix at the age of 95. 


He was trained at the Navajo Talkers’ School at Camp Elliott in San Diego. In the interview, he remembered a moment when his sacred rituals conflicted with military rules. He had boarded a transport ship headed for Melbourne, Australia, where he would join the 1st Marine Division, 5th Marine Regiment.

Kellwood had corn pollen, a gift from his uncle, who told him in Navajo to use it during his journey. His uncle called the Pacific Ocean a mother figure for their people. In the Republic interview, Kellwood said his uncle had told him to stand by the ocean, place corn pollen in his mouth, on his head, into the air, and pray to the Holy People.

Rather than ask his ranking officers for permission, Kellwood mixed a piece of gum with corn pollen. He chewed it into a ball and spat it into the ocean. The ritual gave him confidence he would return safely.

You can read their story in their own words in their book Navajo Weapon.  All of the original team have passed, and almost none of the rest remain.  Those all prepare for this last journey.

In beauty I walk.
With beauty behind me, I walk.
With beauty above me, I walk.
With beauty around me, I walk.

It has become beauty again.

- Navajo Blessing Way prayer
Hat tip: Chris Lynch

I can get behind this

Teach your children well.

If you have one of those new Samsung Galaxy 7 phones, bring marshmallows

Man's phone burned up, taking his Jeep with it:
Samsung's ill-fated Galaxy Note 7 is once again being blamed for causing a serious fire. 
A man in St Petersburg, Florida, claims that while charging inside his truck, the phablet combusted and caused a massive blaze that totalled his Jeep Grand Cherokee. 
Lydia Dornacher told Tampa Bay news station Fox 13 that she and her husband Nathan were attending a Labor Day garage sale Monday morning when he plugged the Note 7 into the truck's center console to recharge. 
The family said that while they were away, the Note 7 caught fire inside the car.
And while the article didn't say, we can assume that he was tragically marshmallow-less.

Oh, and if you have one and fly with it despite the FAA's warning not to, make sure that you bring enough marshmallows for everyone on board.

Thursday, September 8, 2016


21 guns this morning for my Father-In-Law, MSGT Bob Garrett.

One nice thing about being in the Washington D.C. area is that The Queen Of The World and I will be able to visit him regularly.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The computer is never wrong

The airplane, however, is at the wrong airport:
Finger trouble with onboard navigation systems led to an Air Asia flight making a two-hour internal hop in Australia before its scheduled journey to Malaysia. 
An investigation report by the Australian Transportation Safety Bureau (ATSB) into the March flight disclosed the cockup, which it said was down to the A330's captain “inadvertently enter[ing] the wrong longitudinal position of the aircraft.”
And so the plane ended up in Melbourne rather than Malaysia.  This is the type of sequence of errors that gets people killed.  Nobody hurt in this case, thankfully.

I highly recommend everyone clicking through to read the entire comedy of errors.  This is precisely why we should not put too much faith in technology.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Wait, what?

The NSA continues to damage America's economy

This will no doubt get customers flocking to buy gear from Cisco:
Tens of thousands of Cisco ASA firewalls are vulnerable to an authentication bypass exploit thought to have been cooked up by the United States National Security Agency (NSA). 
The "Extra Bacon" exploit was one of many found as part of an Equation Group cache leaked by a hacking outfit calling itself the Shadow Brokers. 
Equation Group is thought to be an offensive NSA Tailored Access Operations unit. The leaked exploits and the tools stolen by Shadow Brokers are thought to have come from a compromised command and control staging server. 
Cisco has rushed out patches against the Extra Bacon exploit, while researchers extended the attack to compromise more modern ASA units.
Add to this the way that NSA used to intercept Cisco devices on the way to delivery (so they could install bugging devices).  Nice work, security apparatus!

Monday, September 5, 2016


I spent the day widening the moat here at Castle Borepatch.  Tomorrow a Crepe Myrtle gets delivered - one that's big enough that delivery was in order.  And so it was to the shovel, widening the moat in preparation.

Note to self: talk to the Czar of Muscovy to find out where you get some Tcho-Tchos.

But ouch.  I'm getting too old for this.

If you're falling, dive

Found by The Queen Of The World.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Things I did not know

I've put 2,000 miles on the Harley already. It doesn't sound like much in 14 months but this was when I was selling Camp Borepatch, getting married, and moving. Oh, and unlike in Georgia, there was actual winter up here.

Plus there's great back roads riding here in northern Maryland. Just today we rode from Castle Borepatch to Wight's Ferry and t[k the ferry across the Potomac to Leesburg, Virginia. Leesburg has one of the great biker bars, the Downtown Saloon. It's across the street from the courthouse and it's had this sign in the window for ages:

"Better here than across the street."

Now that things are settling down, I'm looking forward to putting a lot more miles under the tires.

Jan Antonín Losy, Count of Losinthal

One of the great lute players of the late Baroque period turns out to have been an aristocrat.  Jan Antonín Losy was a German (well, Bohemian) nobleman, the Count von Losinthal.  His castle in the Czech town of Štěkeň is shown here.

Nice place.

Unusual for a noble of the day, he attended University in Prague.  Typical of a noble of the day he traveled extensively as a young man.  During these travels he seems to have spent considerable time with musicians, developing a talent for the lute.  His talent was such that he developed a reputation as one of the finest lute players in Europe.

Despite this reputation, he published very few of his compositions during his lifetime.  Likely this was because music was a hobby to him, rather than a profession.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Online reviews

Not so helpful, actually.

Ray Charles - You Don't Know Me

1962 saw a very unusual album released.  Blues giant Ray Charles recorded "Modern Sounds In Country And Western Music" which included songs in the Country and Folk genres.  It was a spectacular success, selling over half a million copies in the first three months after release.  The singles from the album were selling at a rate of 100,000 a week.

It was also a critical success: Charles won a Grammy for this in 1963, and the album was inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2001.  This album is listed at #49 of CMT's top 100 Country albums, and Rolling Stone lists this at #104 of the 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time.

Listening to it, I can't help but think about how much it sounds like something from Patsy Cline.

You Don't Know Me (Songwriters: Cindy Walker, Eddie Arnold)
You give your hand to me
And then you say hello
And I can hardly speak
My heart is beating so
And anyone can tell
You think you know me well
But you don't know me (no you don't know me)
No you don't know the one
Who dreams of you at night
And longs to kiss your lips
Longs to hold you tight
Oh I am just a friend
That's all I've ever been
Cause you don't know me (no you don't know me)
I never knew the art of making love
No my heart aches with love for you
Afraid and shy I let my chance go by
The chance that you might love me too (love me too)
You give your hand to me
And then you say goodbye
I watch you walk away beside the lucky guy
Oh you will never know
The one who loves you so
Well you don't know me
I never knew the art of making love
No my heart aches with love for you
Afraid and shy I let my chance go by
The chance that you might love me too (love me too)
You give your hand to me
And then you say goodbye
I watch you walk away beside the lucky guy
Oh you will never know
The one who loves you so
Well you don't know me
You don't know me
Oh you don't know me

Friday, September 2, 2016

All ready for football

Maybe a little too much tailgating before the game, though.

Fed.Gov: We're not sure about these self-driving cars

Outbreak of sanity:
Fully autonomous cars may never reach public roads, according to the chairman of the US National Transportation Safety Board. 
Speaking in an interview with MIT Technology Review, Christopher Hart said: “I'm not confident that we will ever reach that point. I don’t see the ideal of complete automation coming any time soon.” 
“Some people just like to drive. Some people don't trust the automation so they're going to want to drive. [And] there’s no software designer in the world that's ever going to be smart enough to anticipate all the potential circumstances this software is going to encounter,” Hart said.
It's almost like the NTSB reads Borepatch.

Your feel good story for the day

Not all football players are jerks, and in fact most aren't.  Some have big hearts, and aren't afraid to show it.

Bravo Zulu, Mr. Rudolph.

Hat tip: Chris Lynch.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

That'll wash out, right?

The Fed.Gov is saving money, for a change

Credit where credit is due:
The Federal Transit Administration has informed Honolulu Area Rapid Transit (HART) that it will not help cover cost overruns associated with the agency’s 20-mile rail line. The project was originally supposed to cost about $5.1 billion, which was already ridiculously expensive, but now is projected to cost at least $8 billion and possibly as much as $11 billion.
The FTA has a long-standing policy that it won’t help cover cost overruns (a policy that is sometimes overturned by Congress). But in this case, the FTA has added a new twist. In light of the cost overruns, HART has proposed to build just part of the project, leaving uncompleted the five miles of the line that would have attracted the most riders. But the FTA says that, in that case, it won’t be giving HART $1.55 billion that the agency is counting on. That means HART won’t even be able to complete the part of the project that it planned.
The whole plan is nuts (RTWT for the gory details), but kudos to the FTA for saying no bueno to the request for more dosh.

Hack the stock market

This is a pretty interesting attack:

The story so far

tl;dr: hackers drop 0day on medical device company hoping to profit by shorting their stock
That's almost a 10% drop in the share price.  Based on a Market Cap of $20B, that's a $2 Billion dollar move, all based on security vulnerabilities.  But I'll bet that there wasn't enough money at St. Jude for a proper security design.

I expect to see more of this.