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May 15, 2015

4 Victoria Day Hacks That Can Really Modify Your Weekend

Here in the Commonwealth, we aren’t shy about our favourite queens of yore. Every spring, we gather to remember Victoria, reciting the poems she wrote for us, and reminding each other in sober tones the adages she imparted on our ancestors.

However, if you’ve been feeling the effects of cyberwarfare recently, you don’t want to lose any more clock cycles to the enemy. Here are some tips to optimize your security this long weekend:

1. Protect your empire

You may have updated your WordPress to patch the latest vulnerability, but what good does that do if your passwords can’t hold up against brute-force? Use a complex passphrase you can easily remember and a cipher substitution system that feels natural. It’s what Victoria would have done.

2. Scale out

Just as the beloved Queen expanded the British Empire under her rule, so you can expand your rule of the Internet-of-Computers. Get a few more servers and spread out — because if someone brings down your web game with a DDoS, or if it simply goes mega-viral, you don’t want your databases tanking with it (even if they’re Mongo).

3. Ensnare your enemies

How soon we forget that brave Queen Victoria goaded John Francis into carrying out his assassination attempt in 1842, only to have him pwned by her entourage. Following in her esteemed footsteps, you too can lay a trap for your predictable adversaries. Construct a good honeypot so you can analyze those who would analyze you, without relinquishing any meaningful data. Just don’t give the whole thing away by disabling outgoing connections.

4. Sanitize

Victoria’s husband Albert died of Typhoid Fever, a consequence of the castle’s poor sanitation. Don’t let your data fall prey to the same fate, or at least a metaphorically similar one — sanitize all your inputs, and don’t forget to authenticate server-side. It’s royally necessary.

That should get you through the long weekend. But if you still find time to party, make sure your house doesn’t become the the House of Hangover by chugging a few glasses of water before bed. Just keep them away from the computer.

Posted in: Life Haxx

August 29, 2014

FractalFic launched!

Yes, the waiting is finally over. Tired of not collaborating with others on pieces of writing? Maybe you’ve always wanted to make an interactive story, but never had much time to invest in learning a scripting language. Or you might just want to play some free games. Whatever the case, FractalFic is now live and satisfies all interactive fiction needs! Well, most, anyway. I’m still adding features.

December 31, 2013

2013 Year In Review

Everybody’s making lists of things about the year so I thought I would do the same. Except I really didn’t listen to any new albums this year and the only movie I saw in theatres was Elysium, which was visually striking but fairly shallow otherwise. So it’s just going to be a list of stuff I liked this year. It follows:

10. Wireless headphones

Playing loud music or games during the night is a favourite pastime of mine, but in order to be respectful to neighbours, I have for years tethered myself to my desk with headphones. In March this changed when I procured a set of comfortable Sony headphones! Now I can walk about, sit in armchairs, wash dishes, cry in the bedroom, etc. without ever having to stop listening to....

9. Bee Gees Greatest Hits

Say what you will about the Gibb brothers but it won’t take this gem off the list. It’s great background music for any sort of task, menial or otherwise, and the stretch from Jive Talking to Islands In the Stream is basically perfect. Sometimes I feel bad for broadcasting this wirelessly so often, but if anyone else is picking up the signal on a baby monitor or something, they’ve definitely stopped using it by now.

8. AdBlock for Chrome

After YouTube cranked their ads early this year and continued to do so, their site elicited more and more profanity from me, especially when I’d set up a playlist of British comedy to listen to while away from the computer. But the AdBlock extension removes all of the pre-video ads and also cleans up Facebook a great deal! Thanks AdBlock. You really should be higher on the list. I didn’t plan this very well.

7. Propellor Porter

A beer so dark, so smooth, so flavourful — it can only be Propellor Porter. I wish I had some right now.

6. Wireless keyboard

For when I want to write but don’t want to stare at a screen, I’ll Bluetooth my Microsoft Wedge wireless keyboard to whatever device I have on me at the time, allowing me to write WHEREVER I WANT. The sensation of typing into nothingness is disorienting at first, and requires slightly more editing afterwards, but it’s quite freeing. I can type on the bus, in dark rooms, in parks, etc. Which is definitely my thing.

5. Trail-running

More physically and mentally taxing than hiking, trail-running is my new favourite exercise. I am lucky I did not get seriously injured though because I was not ready for how intense it was.

4. Ruby programming language

Mm, almost no brackets to speak of, and unit testing is ridiculously easy. With its simple syntax and casually-typed variables, it feels like programming in crayon. One day someone will pay me to do it professionally but until then it’s stodgy Java all the way.

3. Proper server administration with DigitalOcean

Before this year I’d never been with a web-hosting company that gave me root access to a server and let me install whatever I wanted. I didn’t think any of them allowed that. But then during my Ruby exploration I started a server on DigitalOcean and lo, I had to install my own software stack! Exactly how I wanted! Most fun I’ve ever had, except for that time that I lived with a badger.

2. Standing desk

After a serendipitous discovery of some sturdy end-tables at a yard sale, I made a platform for my normal-sized desk and my life changed forever. Or at least my lower back did. Standing desk rules. But not as much as....

1. Craisins

That’s right, the dried cranberry snack topped the list this year. I used to buy them in bulk from the grocery store, but then I discovered, in the same store, the make-your-own-candy-trail-mix station had them for half the price. Life-altering.

Posted in: Summaries of Time