codeblog code is freedom — patching my itch

9/30/2005

80mph blogging: 41.75095N 89.85223W

Filed under: Blogging,Networking — kees @ 11:39 am

Technology is a beautiful thing. Right now, I’m on the passenger side of a vechile purchased in Pennsylvania, over EBay. The new owner is driving. This post is being made via a transparent proxy (via iptables) to Squid running locally on my laptop. Squid then forwards the proxy on to the SSH tunnel I’ve got up, which lands on a server in Texas, where another Squid is waiting for it, and handles the request. The SSH tunnel is set up over a PPP connection on top of Bluetooth to the driver’s cell phone, which is sending traffic via GPRS to his provider. I can hardly believe it works, but it’s actually rather quick.

Additionally, I’ve got my wireless card scanning for networks in kismet, with a USB-to-serial converter plugged into my GPS, with gpsd running, and gpsdrive telling us where we are. (And, of course, we’re downloading maps for gpsdrive via the previously mentioned abomination of a network connection.)

We just finished searching for hotels on the western edge of Nebraska that have free wireless Internet access.

Kick ass. I am such a geek.

© 2005, Kees Cook. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.
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9/27/2005

review of Serenity

Filed under: Blogging — kees @ 10:40 pm

I should admit first that I’m biased. I loved Firefly, but having seen the movie twice now, I think I can attempt to talk about the movie from the perspective of someone who doesn’t know the whole back-drop of the Firefly universe.

The number of characters seems like it would be overwhelming, but I think their unique aspects quickly become clear. Simon’s transition from escape artist to ship’s doctor seems a little jarring, but I think it’s easily overlooked. The interactions between the rest of the characters are quickly developed with strong dialog. I’ve seen other reviews that say the characters are “too thin”, but I’d argue that they’re much better than that because they follow classic stereotypes without common interactions. For example, the First In Command is married to The Pilot, The Captain can barely control his crew, The Doctor and The Mechanic are endlessly avoiding their shared sexual tension, etc. The relationships may be stereotyped, but the matching of relationship to the specific character type, I think, is novel.

The story is quick, and develops in easy-to-understand steps, picking up a smooth speed right through the end of the movie. It was kind of like falling, with a “wheee” turning into “whoaaa” turning into “oooh shiiiit”. But at the same time, all the tension was always marked with humor to bring you back and make you enjoy the characters. After the first intense confrontation and edge-of-your-seat high-speed escape from certain death, the crew is trying to catch their breath and someone says, “Is everyone okay?” River responds, “I swallowed a bug.”

I will see this movie over and over. I love it, the score made me nearly cry, and I got shivers at least 4 separate times. If I reviewed a lot of movies, I would rate things in “shivers” not “stars”. A scene so good that it gives me the creeps, or fills me with awe. That’s why I go see movies, and Serenity gave me plenty of good shivers.

© 2005, Kees Cook. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.
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9/23/2005

a week of serenity

Filed under: Blogging — kees @ 11:23 pm

Looks like I’ve been given a chance to screen the final cut of Serenity on Monday! In exchange, I’m posting the synopsis they’re using:

Joss Whedon, the OscarĀ® – and Emmy – nominated writer/director
responsible for the worldwide television phenomena of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE,
ANGEL and FIREFLY, now applies his trademark compassion and wit to a
small band of galactic outcasts 500 years in the future in his feature
film directorial debut, Serenity. The film centers around Captain
Malcolm Reynolds, a hardened veteran (on the losing side) of a galactic
civil war, who now ekes out a living pulling off small crimes and
transport-for-hire aboard his ship, Serenity. He leads a small, eclectic
crew who are the closest thing he has left to family — squabbling,
insubordinate and undyingly loyal.

I think a much better synopsis would simply be:

Oh my god! Go see this movie! Don’t walk, run!

To help blogviewers write up stuff on Serenity, we’ve been given access to a TON of images too. There’s some great stuff in here. Half of it is in .sit files, the other half in giant .psd files. Here’s some cool snaps of Summer I’d never seen before, and an early logo design. Nothing beats my backgrounds [1920x1200, 1600x1200], though.

Summer
Summer
early logo

I’m going to have to dig through all this stuff. There are movie posters for bus shelters, LCD panel screens, Dark Horse comics logos, all kinds of stuff. Even mechanical drawings, I think. Too bad there aren’t any native .sit expanders for Linux that handle the modern .sit formats. I’d love to see what’s in the mechanicals directory.

On Saturday, I’m headed to the PDX Browncoat’s Firefly Episodes Benefit. Monday is the Serenity screening, and then Friday the full release! Yay! :)

© 2005, Kees Cook. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.
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9/22/2005

decompiling myself

Filed under: Health,Reverse Engineering — kees @ 9:01 pm

Figured I should try to decompile myself. The first step would be get a full dump of my DNA base pairs as letters. Looks like that’s not going to be easy though. Even a DNA stain takes a lot of steps (and I’ll probably never be allowed to do the radioactive steps myself). The real goal here is that with current US law, I should copyright myself (I’m the first performance of the specific base pair “idea”) and possibly patent myself (my methods are a unique variation of other methods).

Obviously this doesn’t take into account my immune system or my memories, but I figure it’s a good start. At like just under 10 billion base pairs, that’s a 10GB program. I think Inkscape is only 45M or so, and that’s not even counting shared libraries.

Since I don’t really want to share my DNA with a company (I’ve got to be the first to copyright it), I wanted to find out what it would take to sequence at home. Since a sequencer is in the $100k price range, that’s not really going to happen. Talking to my NIH-employed friend techne23, she suggested a possible “cheap” way to do it would be in pieces, doing PCRs on specific SNPs, and send those out for sequencing to get back base pair letters. For example, on a gene, the red ones here are considered “interesting”. The PCR machines can be had for cheap, too.

So, in summary:

  • need all the standard lab stuff (centifuge, gloves, tips, pipets, tubes, autoclave, glassware, etc)
  • need chemicals to isolate my DNA
  • need a little space in my freezer to store my DNA
  • need to buy PCR reagents, about $100 for 50-100 reactions
  • need two base pair-specific primers at $40 total for up to 500 base pairs per PCR
  • need thermal cycler to do the PCR in
  • need electrophoresis equipment to see if the PCR worked (maybe reuse my UV EPROM wiper?)
  • need toxic (careful!) reagents for the electrophoresis
  • need a sequencing company that is willing to work with a non-University
  • need FedEx account to ship PCR to sequencers :)

Or I can spend crazy money doing thousands of SNPs at once in microarrays. (Or wait until they’re in every doctor’s office.)

© 2005, Kees Cook. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.
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9/17/2005

kernel.org at OSUOSL

Filed under: kernel.org — kees @ 6:54 pm

I joined the OSUOSL guys to meet master.kernel.org as it was flown in from California this morning. The master server’s new home is just above a stack of Mozilla servers at the OSL’s facilities. Great place. Nice people (some with blogs). Lots of bandwidth. :)

Afterwards, I got invited to OSU’s annual “Geeks and Steaks” picnic. That was great, and I got to meet all sorts of other folks that work in the IT groups at OSU and stand around watching them light the BBQ. No liquid oxygen, but, then, they all wanted to keep their arm hair, I guess.

© 2005, Kees Cook. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.
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9/16/2005

song tagging

Filed under: Multimedia — kees @ 6:03 pm

Jimmac you are my hero! I was just complaining about needing to tag a lot of my early music rips so they would be sensible in MythTV (and on my iPod), and poof, there’s the answer in my RSS feed reader. tagtool is exactly what I was looking for. It’s going to take me about 10 minutes to tag a little over 5000 mp3s. And for 9 minutes and 30 seconds of that, I’m going to be looking up publication years, which is the only thing not in the pathname that’s going to get sucked into the ID3 tag. Great, great tool!

© 2005, Kees Cook. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.
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9/14/2005

tivo meets mythtv

Filed under: Multimedia — kees @ 11:50 am

As Bryce has already detailed, a few of us have started examining MythTV. While TiVo has served me pretty well, it sounds like now that the recording restriction flag has been tested it won’t be too long now before the content providers start actually using it. Supposedly the latest alarm is unfounded, in that it was a mistake. Whether it was a test, a mistake, it does show that my TiVo is now prepared to cripple itself.

MythTV has come a long way now. It seems that it’s a viable alternative for a DVR. Within our MythTV Club, we’re each going to have different problems. Doug will be fighting DVD playback via his PVR-350, Bryce will be playing with double recording sources, and I will be fighting with the video library playback capabilities. The EFF has a great write-up on installing MythTV for broadcast HDTV support. I think HD broadcast recording is going to come pretty late in our designs.

My existing video navigator (not the TiVo) is a very simple filesystem browser that just launches “mplayer” or “xmms” on the files it finds. (Holy crap, I set that up in 2002?!) MythTV’s “mythvideo” plugin is a much smarter browser for both video and audio, but its interface is wildly different from my current system. Especially for audio, which is very ID3-tag heavy. Very few of my early CD rips have any ID3 tags at all. The built-in MythTV player is also very very broken for seeking, and for unusual formats. I have a lot of movie trailers in Quicktime that MythTV refuses to play. I suspect that the video library issues will be the easiest to solve, though, since I can select a different viewer, etc. All that I have set up already on my existing navigator.

The nice thing about MythTV’s video/audio browser, though, is all the metadata support. I can pull down DVD and CD covers, etc. It’s way prettier than my existing system too. My goal is to get MythTV set up on my existing TV computer this week. Once it has replaced the filesystem browser, I’ll have the same functionality as the old system, and gain the ability to move on to real DVR activity in the future. I want to match my TiVo’s recording schedule, and then probably run in parallel until TiVo really gets DRM going.

I’m curious to see what the Netflix/TiVo joint venture is going to look like. I suspect the recent DRM testing is for the Netflix offering. If that’s true, I’ll wait until I see it, and then cancel my service. I’d really like to support TiVo, but not if they’re trying to cripple my time-shifting/long-term storage capabilities. I wonder how long it’ll take me to kernel-monte the TiVo into a MythTV frontend. All I really need is a cross-compiler. Sure would be nice to reuse my TiVo as a MythTV frontend if it comes to that.

© 2005, Kees Cook. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.
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9/8/2005

greasemonkey and fantasy football

Filed under: Web — kees @ 2:01 pm

Fantasy Football isn’t something I have any idea how to play, but I thought I’d join a few friends in their league, since they seemed to have so much fun with it. It’s through Yahoo, and is pretty nifty. I’m slowly learning how to play, but I doubt I’ll ever be any good considering how much I don’t watch football. In the Yahoo interface, however, to evaluate a player’s depth (first string, second string, etc.) I have to click on the player, then the team, then the “Depth chart” link. This was annoying, so it was a perfect opportunity to learn some more javascript, xpath, and DOM manipulation. As a result, I wrote a greasemonkey script to add team links where ever a team abbreviation is seen.

© 2005 – 2006, Kees Cook. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.
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