Remember to vote!
11/05/2012 07:25 PM
Had a friend ask me to re-schedule something tomorrow for later in the day so he could make sure he had time to vote. Later realized this is his first chance to vote (he's 18). Hooray for representative democracy! I will celebrate by once again voting for my local reps and for a presidential candidate with no chance of winning. ;)
Also had a long talk with my mom today about political issues. Reminded me where I get my slightly off-kilter stance on certain issues. (I am definitely not a party-line voter. If I had to sum up, I'd say I'm conservative fiscally - except when it comes to local schools; and moderately liberal on social issues.) At least when WE talk politics, neither one of us comes across looking crazy. :)
In other news, took BOTH kids to Payless tonight to get new shoes. Some called me "brave". I'd prefer to think of it as "crazy". After an hour of running and chasing and calling and fixing and dropping and fixing again, we made it out with 4 pairs of shoes - 2 for each kid. Success!
Reading sci-fi magazines written before I was born
10/29/2012 10:00 AM
So, when I went to Lunacon back in March, I ended up with a half-full box of books; there were a few that I bought (like Anita and this book by James Doohan - for obvious reasons), but mostly a giant stack of vintage science fiction magazines: in particular, "Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine" 1979-1982 with a few gaps.
I've been slowly working my way through them all - I hadn't read any of it before, so I don't know how it compares to the modern magazine, but it's mostly first-time and/or small-time authors writing really GOOD stuff!
I put down my current read (Sep. 1980) for about a month, since I just got a bunch of new books on my Kindle and I was getting tired of short stories... but I picked it back up today, and boy am I glad I did.
I just discovered "Guardian" by Jeff Duntemann (slightly amazed that it's available online, as many of these authors seem to have hung up their hats before the rise of the Internet). It's one of those "it's so far in the future that we've returned to the Dark Ages" settings, but don't let that deter you. It's short, and it examines the idea of whether machines could have souls.
The end quote was what really made me realize that the author was going for something much more profound than the set-up would imply.
"I pass my time in absurdity, true. But my soul is worth absurdity. I pity you the more if yours is not."
I also understand (looking at the web version) why it was nominated for a Hugo in 1981 (although it didn't win).
Since Mr. Duntemann is gracious enough to put some of his work online, I think I'll be reading the first-chapter excerpt from his 2005 novel next.
Why multi-factor authentication is great
06/16/2012 06:20 PM
Two things that are making me think of multi-factor authentication lately:
1. The LinkedIn password fiasco. Yes people, passwords need to be stored in a database, and they can be stolen. And then you have to change your password everywhere that you MIGHT be using the same one. Ugh.
2. Dreamhost (my webhost of choice) just added two-factor authentication using Google Authenticate (an app for mobile devices).
I don't know how long ago I first learned about multi-factor authentication. It might have actually been while I was at WPI.
For anyone who doesn't know, there are three different possible "factors" to identify you as the person who should be able to access a secure location (whether that is a virtual or physical location):
1. Something you know (a password, passphrase, etc.)
2. Something you have (a key or other physical device)
3. Something you are (biometric info)
Systems that use only a single factor mean that a malicious person only needs to exploit one vector to do a lot of damage. This shows up in lots of ways: Passwords can be hacked or, more likely, guessed. (here's some news: "secure" passwords are still not that great. If it's memorable, it's still going to be short and easier to guess, and if it's more complex, you're more likely to write it down somewhere. There's even been some research that shows that a longer pass phrase is harder for both people and computers to guess.) Devices and keys can be stolen. Biometric info can be faked.
BUT, once you combine multiple factors, it takes a lot more effort to circumvent. For example: At the ATM, I insert my card (something I have) and then punch in my PIN (something I know). If you steal my card, you still have to guess my PIN. If you know my PIN but don't have my card, you still can't get my money.
Now at Dreamhost, if you wanted to get into my settings, you would need my password AND my iPod touch (running the GAuth app). Just one or the other won't do you any good.
I find it interesting that this can even apply without any computers in other situations where security is desired. For example, the nursery room at my church uses 2-factor authentication, although they don't know it. Every parent is given a numbered localized pager when they drop off their child. At the end of church time, the appropriate numbered beeper MUST be turned in to claim the child, whether it is the same parent who dropped them off or not. (We joke that we are trading "babies for beepers".) This is two-factor authentication: the parent or guardian must have the beeper (obviously), but must also be KNOWN by the child (something you ARE).
Done right, two-factor authentication is hardly more work than one-factor authentication while being tremendously more secure. I would love it if everywhere on the Internet that stores my sensitive information used it.
05/03/2012 09:01 PM
That's right. nightskyre and his mom now co-own a house down the street (along with the bank, of course...) Closing was Monday. Today is Thursday and work has already started (a little).
Really glad we got a general contractor. We certainly don't need to be trying to renovate/maintain ANOTHER house. I can't even manage to get the front lawn mowed.
02/27/2012 07:47 PM
The new Wegmans in Northboro is ENORMOUS. I mean, I grew up with large Wegmans, but this place is HUUUUGE! The liquor section alone is bigger than the biggest "packy" (package store, or liquor store for non-New Englanders) I know of in the Worcester area. The sit-down/buffet/eating area is also deceptively large (there are 4 seating rooms), and has 6 or 7 different stations of cuisines to choose from.
I had a few odd moments of nostalgia. One was in passing the pharmacy. They have exactly the same way of laying out the pharm area - giving it it's own "corner" even though it's in the middle of the store - that the Britton Road store did (does? I'm pretty sure they closed recently.)
Another moment was in passing the bulk foods area. There were some cool candy and non-candy options that caught my eye as an adult, but I also saw a few candies I haven't seen since I was a kid, like Brach's jelly-filled nougat (disgusting, I know)... and loose Jelly Bellys! Then I remembered the benefit of having the customer-operated tagging machine: pick out your candy, tag it, and start eating it before you're at the checkout! (Didn't let Claire know about this option, though.)
The last was in passing the paper goods aisles at the far end of the store (next to the liquor). The high, warehouse-style shelving of paper products probably SHOULD make me think of BJ's or another warehouse club, but that's how Wegmans has been doing it for 20+ years, so... yeah. Another blast from the past following me.
As a parent, I really appreciated a number of features, particularly in the bathrooms (with 2 kids there for almost 2 hours, there were multiple bathroom trips...) They have a "family bathroom" in at least one spot, but the women's rooms also have a "family stall", which includes the expected changing table, but also a sink, a strap-your-child-in chair - and a wicker armchair! Oh, and the toilet is just a bit lower to the floor. Someone really put thought into how a "family" with more than one young kid uses a bathroom! The main sink area in the bathrooms also has a flip-down stepstool so smaller children can reach the water, which is handy.
All in all, it was a good time. Might keep going out there when we can make a morning of it - wrap up with eating lunch at the end or something. And next time, there will be less window-shopping/impulse-buys and better list-making ;)
01/30/2012 05:41 AM
"Mommy, I see colors."
(Much clarification ensues because I thought she said "cars", and I am still mentally waking up)
"I see colors, it's morning!"
I think it's time to break out the new kid alarm clock, before "morning" gets much earlier. Love her attitude though, and will try to share it.
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