April 27th, 2011

I finally changed the security protocol of our home wireless network over to WPA2. I have known that I should do so for years, but of course changing every device on the network would have taken like twenty minutes of work, and I am, in fact, that lazy. So we've been using WEP because, well, when I got the router set up initially its UI was so impenetrable that I was fooled into believing it only knew about WEP.

But the other day I was reading about the police breaking down someone's door because their neighbor was downloading society's current "worst possible material ever" via the hapless individual's unsecured wireless network. And I had just read about a firefox plugin that snoops on wireless traffic, so finally I checked up on exactly how easy it is to crack WEP, and that was enough.

Twenty minutes later, the laptops and the Wii are all happily running with WPA2. And I'm back to having only the government reading my network traffic.


April 26th, 2011

Yesterday evening I was out on the deck putting meat on the grill. The boys were running around in the backyard; I had just leaned over to check on them before I started to put the meat on.

Then E. started screaming.

As my wife points out, E. has only one volume setting: screaming could mean he got a splinter, or it could mean that there is an alligator on his leg. Nonetheless, it sounded serious, so I called K. out to help him while I turned off the grill and dealt with the raw meat.

She ran out and down the stairs; as soon as she saw him lying on the ground she could tell it was serious. His right wrist was folded unnaturally; his right arm below the elbow had taken the shape of a lightning bolt.

She carried him inside as I called 911. The Vienna Fire & Rescue ambulances arrived in a couple of minutes, while we packed a bag with snacks and books. I rode in the back with E. as the paramedics tried with mixed success to cajole him. Luckily B. was not working that evening, so she raced home (on the bike) to babysit the little one, allowing K. to drive to the hospital.

It was a bad but clean break. They gave E. some pain medication, then hooked up an IV (which was, I think, the most traumatic part of the hospital visit). We did some X-rays, saw the bones (yeek), and they lined up the procedure. There was some stress when Dr. Lo came by to discuss the risks of the sedative they'd be using but K. was out front calling relatives; when she came back, he had gone, and we couldn't find him for twenty minutes. But eventually we got the low down and signed off on the anesthetic.

Then we changed rooms, E. got knocked out (which his body resisted mightily, demanding extra sedative and then coming back around well in advance of schedule) and K. and I left the room while the orthopedic resident reset the bones. We returned to find E. wearing a splint and the sedative already wearing off, leading to some interesting observations from E. about how how odd it was that we all had four eyes.

E. broke his arm at about 6:45 pm. We got to the hospital a while after 7; and we got home at about midnight. This morning there was some discomfort but after a little Tylenol 3 the boy seems to be fine.

Not what we had planned for last evening - and it's certainly going to put interesting crimps in the next couple of months - but all's well that ends well, I suppose.

Italy Pictures are available!

April 21st, 2011

I've uploaded our Italy trip pictures - with captions even! - to republic's photo gallery:

It's password protected: the username is my first name, and the password is my wife's first name. I figure if you have those two pieces of information then you're legit to see the pictures.

Actually, I password protect my photo gallery just because I don't want to deal with seeing my family photos used to advertise a supermarket chain in Slovakia or some such thing. Anything on the Internet is out of your control!

The Secret to (a dictator's) Success

February 2nd, 2011

And this is why I read Daniel Davies:

And so that brings me to a useful piece of advice for any readers who are aspiring dictators, one that the Communists knew, Suharto knew, but that some modern day tyrants seem to have forgotten. There is always a level of civil unrest that outstrips the capability of even the most loyal and largest regular armed forces to deal with. In all likelihood, as a medium sized emerging market, you will have a capital city with a population of about five or six million, meaing potentially as many as three million adults on the streets in the worst case. Your total active-duty armed forces are unlikely to be a tenth of that. When it becomes a numbers game, there is only one thing that can save you.

And that is, a reactionary citizens' militia, to combat the revolutionary citizens' militia. Former socialist republics always used to be fond of buses full of coal miners from way out the back of beyond, but the Iranian basijs are the same sort of thing. Basically, what you need is a large population who are a few rungs up from the bottom of society, who aren't interested in freedom and who hate young people. In other words, arseholes. Arseholes, considered as a strategic entity, have the one useful characteristic that is the only useful characteristic in the context of an Egyptian-style popular uprising - there are fucking millions of them.



The Jinx, Part Two

January 31st, 2011

So, less than a week after the prior post, the machine hosting suffered a fatal motherboard failure. I purchased a new "el cheapo" machine to be the server (the previous server, a Dell, had cost ~$300, and replacing the motherboard would have cost over $200, not counting my time), installed Ubuntu (rather than stock Debian), and had the site back up and running again sometime in late September.

At least, the mail and static website portions. Fortunately I had backups of the data from the previous server, but getting the old database mined and b2evolution up and running again with all the old info seemed, well, a lot like work. So I put it off.

And put it off again.

Eventually my wife's demands for her own blog were sufficient to overcome my natural laziness, and in the event restoring the data turned out to be pretty simple. So, only with only five months dark, here we are again!

Now to figure out what books and movies I consumed since last July...