Perl programmer, runner, computational biologist p , zombie fan, metal head, beer lover
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2018-06-08 SDF
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2018-06-08 Turbo Pascal #code

Borland Turbo Pascal was once my jam. Unfortunately, my entire source code directory was corrupted at some point so all the programs are truncated. This is a shame since the Turbo Pascal compiler is still available:

2018-04-07 Money

When my son was little, he'd occasionally ask me, "Are we rich". That's a loaded question when a kid asks it. Invariably, they're trying to compare their lifestyle to their friends. The answer isn't easy. From his perspective: we live in a 1000 sqft house, share one Subaru Outback, work two full-time jobs and have phones 2+ generations old. Standing in my living room, I don't think rich is the first adjective that would come to mind.

Techincally, I suppose we are upper-middle class but that's not a very meaningful distinction. We have life, health, dental and homeowner's insurance. We have well-funded retirement accounts. We play travel hockey and go on vacations every year. To me, that seems pretty rich. In this day and age, I look at money in terms of what it can do to insulate us from hardship. It's not about fancy cars and a bigger house. It's about not worrying how we'll pay for dental work. In 2018, being "rich" is about being OK.

This isn't a #humblebrag. It's just something I think about. Especially, when I see people younger than me struggling with groceries and medical bills. Every week, someone on Mastodon posts a request for help. The Mastodon community is such that 99% of these requests from strangers are probably genuine. I don't think I'd feel that way about similar random posts on Facebook. Sometimes I contribute, but I want to do more. I get overwhelmed by the who and the how. Do I help someone who needs money for their medicine or an artist trading commissions for cash? Am I helping someone dig themselves out of a hole or just tread water? Patreon, PayPal or Liberapay? In some ways it doesn't matter, but, right or wrong, I have a vision of giving. I can't help everyone and I want to help someone who falls on hard times but is otherwise doing fine. I want to help people who are between jobs or have a sick pet. I don't think I'm the guy to help someone who's stuck in chronic poverty or has $100,000 in medical bills. Until I figure it out, I'll give randomly and hope for the best. I wish everyone could be OK like me.

2018-03-23 #deletefacebook

I posted this to Facebook this morning:

I burned a hole in Facebook. I deleted every post, comment, and like from the last 9 years. Roger McNamee, one of the original Facebook investors, warned Facebook back in 2016 that it's platform was being misused but the C-suite saw it as a PR problem, not an algorithm problem nor a business model problem. Ignoring the current Cambridge Analytica flap, Facebook has been doing sketchy shit for years.

To be clear, I'm not especially worried about what Facebook has done with my data. I've been doxxed by Equifax, a major medical insurer and my employer. I've never trusted Facebook, so my threat surface has never been particularly large. I avoided linking apps, posting pictures of family and using Facebook for OAuth. That said, as a company, Facebook has proven itself to be greedy, amoral and incompetent. They don't deserve by business or my data.

I burned a hole in Facebook and it's shaped just like me. The only thing I kept is all of you guys, my friends, because that's the only thing that Facebook provides of any value to me.

I also posted a guide:
So, you want to #deleteFacebook? There are lots of tutorials out there, but this is what I did...

1. First, download a copy of your data. Go to "Settings->General" and click "Download a copy of your Facebook data". You'll get a download link to a compressed ZIP file with your data. I haven't explored my download too much but it seems to capture text pretty well. The "timeline.htm" file is pretty much the text of all your posts. Pictures didn't really render correctly on my copy. Your mileage may vary.

2. If you want to selectively delete parts of your Facebook profile there are a few options. I used the Chrome extension "Social Book Post Manager". This method requires patience. You have to navigate to your Activity Log, select a filter from the left hand side, click the "Social Book Post Manager" button and select your options. This particular tool will scan the page and then ask you to confirm, at which point it will delete the selected items. This process is long and imperfect. It took several days for me to delete the posts and then likes and then comments. Sometimes the script misses a post or a group of posts. Some posts can't be deleted and can be hidden. Just keep at it. For me, I intended to delete everything so I didn't need to be particularly careful. Seriously, I probably erased 10,000 items; it was slow. Also, you need to disable any other extensions you have that might interfere. For me, I uninstalled Social Fixer and disabled uBlock, HTTPS everywhere and Privacy Badger.

3. If you are lazy and don't care about your account, you can just delete it. There are lots of websites that can point you to the Facebook deletion page. Keep in mind that it takes a while for Facebook to delete everything. Also, you lose all of your connections to friends. If you decide to recreate a fresh account you'll have to start all over.

4. If you're looking for alternatives. I'm on Mastodon, a federated microblogging platform (https://joinmastodon.org/). Mastodon is actually a collection of servers that all talk to each other to create a Twitter-like experience without handing your data over to a corporation. My Masto instance is run by a Canadian computer guy. I also tried Diaspora, a federated Facebook replacement, but it wasn't for me.
Then this...
So, you don't want to #deletefacebook. There are still things that you can do to degrade the Facebook surveillance apparatus.

1. Go into your "Settings->Apps" and revoke permissions for anything you don't use or, better yet, disable Apps altogether. Why? Who remembers Cow Clicker

2. When you see a post that says, "Find your stripper name!" and it's the "name of your first pet" and "the street you lived on as a kid", keep that shit to yourself. Don't post it in the comments. Some are harmless but others could he harvesting the answers to questions on your credit report or your password recovery data.

3. Stop filling out online surveys and polls. Just don't.

4. Log out of Facebook when you're not using it, even though it won't protect you 100% from being tracked

5. Armor up your browser to prevent tracking and ad targeting. I personally use uBlock Origin, Privacy Badger and HTTPS everywhere on all my browsers. I use Firefox focus on my phone. These measures won't prevent all types of tracking but they will degrade Facebook's ability to profile you.

6. Get a Virtual Private Network (VPN) and use it. I've been using Private Internet Access for a year and it's OK. Other people I know use NordVPN. I do this so that my ISP can't snoop on my browsing as it passes through their hardware. That's a good thing since congress struck down your ISP privacy protections last year. In the context of Facebook, it masks your IP address, making you harder to track. Keep in mind that, using a VPN service costs money and you will take a hit with regards to internet speed.

7. Go into your browser settings and delete your cookies/browsing data. Yes, you may have to log into services again. Are you really that lazy?

8. Delete the Facebook app from your phone and just use the web version. Facebook has said time and time again that it doesn't do creepy things like eavesdrop on your phone's microphone but they have certainly entertained equally creepy ideas

9. Don't use Facebook to log into other services (e.g., OAuth). This is more a psychological reminder stop thinking of Facebook as your gateway to the internet.

2018-02-25 #OneMoreVote

Battle for the Net
EFF

2018-02-24 Wordpress regrets

Years ago, I had a Wordpress site. I thought that it was finally time to turn over content management to the professionals. I could update my site easily from anywhere and, honestly, everyone was doing it. Nothing but regrets. First there were the updates. So many updates. Updates that required, in many cases, time and attention to get them right. There was also the comment subsystem. I disabled that pretty quickly because it was obvious it was being used by bots for advertising, communicating, who knows. I finally got sick of dealing with it and let the instance go dormant...

That's the thing about Wordpress though, if you don't vigorously defend it, it becomes a security risk. The seemingly simple act of presenting words to be read by your eyeballs is handled by a myriad of scripts and backend databases, all of which are vulnerable to exploitation. After a generic email from my hosting service about about Wordpress being out of date, I finally deleted it.

I was surprised to get an email last week from my hosting service that they had detected malware. The exact culprits were:

htaccess.spam-seo.redirect.006 - html/.htaccess
js.spam-seo.xtrackPageview.001 - html/index.html
php.spam-seo.doorway-gen.043 - html/makeup-hijinks.php
rex.multi_vars.004 - html/vrxtwxfl.php

Malware files and lines of javascript inserted into my index.html page. I was disgusted and "burned it with fire". Swatting and stomping like someone who's found a nest of cockroaches. When I emerged on the other side, I had to use the Wayback Machine to recover what the code was actually doing...


Payday loans and Cash Advances. Parasites working for parasites. It's bloodsuckers all the way down. Now I need to upload fresh copies of everything. I feel dirty.


2018-01-08 A different kind of uncanny valley

Despite my rapidly approaching decrepitude, I'm still an avid videogame player. People have complained for years about the incomplete modeling of physics in video games. Anyone who's played an FPS has cursed the unbreakable window. You can be carrying enough explosives to level a city block and still be forced to fight your way through a room full of enemies, just to get around a locked window. "Wolfenstein: The New Order" strives to immerse you in a realistic dystopian world full of concrete structures you can destroy (more on that in a minute), metal you can cut through and crates you can smash. There are still unbreakable windows but, its a start.

The enemy AI, however, leaves something to be desired. The game encourages stealth which means you'll find yourself killing chains of Nazi's who all seem content to stand, backs to the door, staring out the window. Apparently there's much to contemplate outside. Rarely are the guards actually 'guarding' anything. The entire Nazi army seems to be lacking any sort of peripheral vision. In the world of "Wolfenstein: The New Order" it must be common for soldiers to simply drop dead in the middle of a hallway or while taking a leak. I know this because dead bodies persist (another breakthrough in realism) but don't seem to bother the living guards.

"Wolfenstein: The New Order" is not the formulaic FPS of old. Levels are not guaranteed to end in some sort of boss battle. In fact, one of the "Bosses" in the game is the concrete itself, uber-concrete. Perhaps as a nod to the ever-present brutalist architecture of the game, concrete is cited as one of the keys to the rise of the Nazis. I can't wait until the level where I have to break in and destroy the computers that manage the Nazi human resources. No paychecks. No war.


2018-01-04 Aenima Useful idiot #tbt
I've been blogging for a long time. To give you some idea, I probably "optimized" my first blog for NCSA Mosaic (1993-1997). You can file most of it under the youthful conceit that "everybody but me is an idiot".
10.11.96 | TOOL album
Been listening to the new TOOL album this weekend, and I have two things
to say. First, a band that has a song titled "Hooker with a Penis" is 
probably in need of some serious therapy.  Most of the  album, from a
lyrical standpoint, is deranged, as is the artwork. Second, the album
kicks ass from the entertainment standpoint.  The songs are powerful
and slightly eerie.  The CD is also nice and long, so you get your 
money's worth, and the multi-image thing is pretty cool. (btw: expect a
lot of loser bands to copy this multi-image thing).

2018-01-01 Goodbye #twitter
My twitter handle, @blueporcupine, has been deactivated.
2017-12-31 Mastodon #twitter
I just opened a Mastodon account for #TwitterEvacuationDay . Find me at: @sconlan@mastodon.club

Not this Mastodon, although they are awesome. This one.

2017-12-31 The only winning move is not to play #facebook
This is how I envisioned the internet; circa 2000. Skeuomorphic cyberspace. Influenced by William Gibson's novels and movies about cyberspace (e.g, Webmaster [1]). From the beginning, the internet was a place built, by nerds, for nerds. If you hit up the comments section of any slashdot article that mentions Facebook, you'll find a contingent of never-Facebookers. Their rallying cry is "you are the product". I like to think that I joined and contributed to Facebook, fully aware that I was the product.

Unfortunately, Facebook [2] has broken the simple model of trading personal information for eyeballs on ads. Facebook has become a market for selectively targeting the hearts and minds of people. Looking for "jew haters" [3]? Facebook has you covered. Have a house to rent, "whites only"? You can advertise for that [4].

Corporations don't have our best interests in mind. In many cases, the interests of corporations are directly opposed to ours. Some have even argued that corporations are the first generation of malicious, emergent Artifical Intelligences [5]. Individuals have a conscience; corporations do not [6]. In that way, we've come full circle to my science fiction view of the internet. Instead of Wintermute, Colossus or Skynet we have Verizon, Facebook, and Equifax vacuuming up massive amounts of data about everyone on the planet, feeding it to industrial-grade data-mining algorithms and using the results to maximize the extraction of money and attention. They use the money to buy politicians [7] . They use the attention to "bend the arc" to benefit the next quarterly earnings statement and to buy more politicians.

The only winning move is not to play [8]

[1] cyberpunkdatabase.net
[2] and really all social media
[3] propublica
[4] propublica
[5] boingboing
[6] see Bhopal gas tragedy and Love canal
[7] motherboard
[8] War Games
2017-12-29 #admin
hello, world
2017-12-23 #twitter
Pirates of the Caribbean ends with an anti-Piracy notice #fail #meta
2017-12-23 #twitter
I was very excited about my WRT3200ACM router. Sadly firmware updates are making it STB. Tired of power cycling every few hours. Fix it @Linksys
2017-12-23 #twitter
In the original Total Recall. When Quaid fights with his fake wife they knock over like three bowls of goldfish crackers. Who keeps that many snacks around?
2017-12-05 #twitter
Someone needs to make a "brew day" candle. I love the smell of beer brewing
2017-10-19 #facebook
I downloaded the "Pokemon Go" app so that Jason and I could play it when we were hanging out at the end of the Summer. Over the last 8 weeks, I've played it pretty consistently. It was more fun than I expected; tickles the part of my brain that's obsessed with completing things. Today, I'm saying goodbye to all of my Pokemon because it's just a grind now. At Level 23 and proud owner of a Snorlax. Going out on a high note.
2017-10-17 #facebook
Chances my cheap phone or ancient router will get patches to fix the WPA2 "KRACK" bug... About the same as the Washington Capitals winning the Stanley Cup this year. Looks like I may be in market for new hardware.
2017-10-17 #facebook
I don't know what to say about "me too." except, "I see you". Even if you aren't ready to say it out loud.
2017-10-15 #facebook
I've spent some time writing my congress critters this year (both snail mail and email). One senator has now sent me two reply emails that were about completely different topics. In one case, the email was 180 degrees from anything I've ever sent. Seriously? I just dropped a letter in the mail letting him know that I'd rather not hear back at all and assume ambivalence than get the wrong response back and fear incompetence.
2017-10-15 #facebook
You want Americans in body bags? Because this is how you end up with Americans in body bags. A bunch of armchair generals who are cool with starting a war. 46% of GOP. Forty six percent. They can't agree on much but they can agree on this. Preemptively killing people.
[ link ]
2017-10-15 #facebook
I have a plan to save the coal industry. No more coal power plants. Start selling artisanal coal, at 10x the cost, to coal-fired pizza places. If we need to build more thin crust pizza joints, that's a price I'm willing to pay. Give me a call if you need a Secretary of Neopolitan Pies, I'd be honored to serve.
2017-10-14 #facebook
Hiding out in a bowling alley bar, in Hackensack, next to the ice rink before this afternoon's hockey game.
2017-10-13 #facebook
Back in NYC for an overnight. Hitting Otafuku for tako yaki.
#admin
Random old Facebook and Twitter posts
2017-08-28 #facebook #mountain
Courtesy of Governor Hogan, Jason and I went mountain biking at Schaeffer Farms. White trail only and we managed to avoid ticks and poison ivy. Lunch at the famous Taco Bar. As a bonus, Jason and I are the proud owners of the Taco Bar Pokemon gym (come at me bro). Ended the day with a Starbucks and a run to pick up a sports coat for his first Bar Mitzvah invitation.
2017-07-10 #facebook #metal
Hey Sirius XM Liquid Metal fans, I just recorded a Listener Domination segment that's airing tomorrow at 6p. What songs did I pick? Tune in to find out. It should be good for a laugh.
2016-07-30 #facebook #metal #beer
Lanikai brewery on Oahu. Good beer, brewed in an industrial storage unit. Beautiful marsh out back.
2016-05-10 #facebook #metal #beer
Getting a beer before seeing Baby Metal at the Fillmore.
2015-03-22 #facebook #mountain
Nothing like a 5.7 mi jog around the prison yard. Laurel Hill looks like a nice place to mountain bike. I think they should have left the breakfast burritos on the vine for a bit longer. Kinda small.
2014-06-28 #facebook
Sirius XM Lithium severely overestimates my fondness for Smashing Pumpkins. Every three songs...
2011-01-27 #twitter
No power for 24 hours and the temperature in the house is dropping but we have Duroflame logs, grilled pizza and Prosecco
2010-08-26 #twitter
Just went to a Wm Gibson book signing. He had some great answers for some incomprehensible questions.
2010-02-28 #twitter
At 6am, Copper brought me a mouse which he tossed in the air to show it was really dead. All I could think was, "Its a trick. Get an ax."
2010-01-14 #twitter
Me: How many times do I have to tell you? My son: Four times...
2010-01-07 #twitter #firstpost
The difference between the right word and the nearly right word is the difference between lightning and lightning bug
2008-07-10 #facebook #firstpost
is wasting time on Facebook
1996-10-11 Tool album #firstpost #rh
10.11.96 | TOOL album
Been listening to the new TOOL album this weekend, and I have two things to say. First, a band that has a song titled "Hooker with a Penis" is probably in need of some serious therapy. Most of the album, from a lyrical standpoint, is deranged, as is the artwork. Second, the album kicks ass from the entertainment standpoint. The songs are powerful and slightly eerie. The CD is also nice and long, so you get your money's worth, and the multi-image thing is pretty cool. (btw: expect a lot of loser bands to copy this multi-image thing).
NO CARRIER #admin
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