Larry Hosken: New

Puzzle Hunts are Everywhere, even San Mateo

BANG 35 was creative, elegant, and fun! And Scott says when you get the [REDACTED] home afterwards, your kids will love playing with 'em.

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2016-06-26T13:42:15

Book Report: Waypoint Kangaroo

Happy National Selfie Day! It's also the day that Amazon starts selling the excellent novel Waypoint Kangaroo, so here's a selfie of me holding up my laptop with the book's cover image:

In this sci-fi novel, our protagonist has a superpower and cracks wise. This book emerged out of some 512-word-or-less snippets; it's grown up nicely and holds together well. You might read those snippets to figure out whether you'd like this book. You will be shocked to learn that I was especially fond of the wisecracking bits. Bonus points for taking place on an interplanetary cruise ship and poking fun at cruise life.

Disclosure: I know the author and whined a copy out of him a few months back because I didn't want to wait that long.

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2016-06-21T16:22:37

Book Report: The Skies Belong To Us

It's a book about Roger Holder, Cathy Kerkow, and other skyjackers of 1972 and thereabouts. Then, as now, someone mentally-unhinged seeking fame could get media coverage by threatening many lives in some "soft target". Nowadays, they'd shoot up a school. But back in the 1960s, anyone could walk onto a plane with a weapon; and in 1972, any passenger could plausibly bluff that they'd snuck a weapon aboard. Skyjackers got plenty of media coverage. Successful skyjackers inspired copycats. Maybe unsuccessful skyjackers encouraged "oh, let me show you how to do it right" copycats-into-oneupmanship.

This book was chock-full of interesting bits.

Then, as in 2001, there was a lot of "Something must be done; this is something" legislation. With hindsight, we can see that some of it made sense and some of it didn't. If you're a security-thinker or a systems-thinker, it's interesting to read about airline policies and new laws and how bad guys worked around them.

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2016-06-11T13:26:09

It's a double do-gooder shirt sticker day.

(#IVoted a couple of weeks ago, but waited until today to affix the sticker.)

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2016-06-07T22:31:07

Puzzle Hunts and Real Life are Everywhere, even Washington DC

It's my Washington DC travelog. DASH enthusiasts might want to skip to DASH photos or not depending on how eager you are to read about art museums, technology museums, and people I know but you (statistically) don't.

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2016-06-06T15:34:18

Milestone: 30 Million Hits

Wow, it's the site's 30 millionth hit. (I'm a little slow to report this; it happened a few days ago and I wasn't checking the numbers. By the "usual" amount of traffic, I shouldn't have had to check for another couple of days, but there was a burst of traffic that day. Anyhow…) As usual, these "hits" aren't a measure of humans visiting pages; that count would be much lower. It's just requests to the website: every time a robot visits some page, the count goes up. If a human views a page that contains a dozen graphics, those graphics cause another dozen hits. So it's not as impressive as it sounds. But it's easy to measure so that's what I measure. We can take a look at the log:
172.11.58.130 - - [31/May/2016:23:56:58 -0400] "GET /port_08.png HTTP/1.1" 200 16388 "http://lahosken.san-francisco.ca.us/new/" "Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10_11_5) AppleWebKit/601.6.17 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/9.1.1 Safari/601.6.17"

A Mac user was looking at my blog page. Looking up their IP address suggests that they're a Southwestern Bell customer. (That is to say: a NorCal AT&T customer, now that SWBell got swallowed up.)

This visitor is unusual: they're reading my blog. They might be interested in something I have to say. You might think that most visitors to my website are interested in me (or, more likely, one of my hobbies), but it's not so. Most of them are visiting that page of puzzle hunt team names. These visitors aren't puzzlehunters; they googled for team names for something and landed on that page. Yesterday, for example, a few dozen people showed up at my home page. One human (and, strange to say, many robots) visited the 2-Tone Game page. Meanwile, hundreds of folks visited that team names page. They're searching for

I wonder what the folks searching for one word team names think when they find out the selection is approximately "glurmun."

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2016-06-03T03:42:30

Pour one out for that photography studio that was a surreal clue site for Shinteki Decathlon 10. I was just in the neighborhood and local winery The Winery SF had put up signs, were redecorating. Where "redecorating" here means putting in normal-looking wooden shutters and wine barrels, not a reinterpretation of a Swiss chalet as seen by characters from Zardoz or whatever.

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2016-05-31T02:32:40

Book Report: Nobody's Home

It's a novella set in the same world as The Anubis Gates. Ghosts, barges, and hopscotch in Dickensian London. Fun times.

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2016-05-29T03:42:02

SF folks, what excellent voter recommendations/endorsements am I overlooking? I'm looking for such that explain their thinking, not just say Yes on this, No on that. Here's the stuff I'm slogging through so far (or not, as noted): Bonus points for info on the Judge thing, for which the info I'm finding seems kinda skimpy. Is there some lawyer organization that does something for those?

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2016-05-19T22:19:21

Book Report: Dragnet Nation

In which a reporter explores preserving privacy, trying out tools and processes to keep governments and companies from learning about her. This book could easily have devolved into tinfoil-hattery, but the writer's pretty even-keeled. (I might not agree with all her choices. But this is quibbling along the lines of "Hrm, I disagree that you should be more worried about Google spying on you than about the NSA hacking into DuckDuckGo, but we'll probably never know who was right." rather than the usual "OMG this froot-loop read about a Panopticon once and hasn't slept since".) Since she is a reporter, this is higher stakes than you or I experience when thinking about privacy. If someone peeks at my emails, they find griping about computer programming and planning around burritos; I'm not a reporter. This book's author wants to protect her sources. She (correctly) anticipates that she can't live "off the grid" unless she's willing to put unreasonable time into it. So she tries some things and lets us know which seemed to work and which just couldn't be pulled off.

E.g., it's all very well to say you should use different phones when dealing with different people so phone connection metadata-miners have a tougher time mapping out your social network. But have you actually tried the logistics of juggling multiple phones? How much "privacy juice" do you preserve by leaving your mobile phone in a faraday bag most of the time (so that folks monitoring phone metadata don't know where you've been) versus the hassle that folks can't, y'know, call you because your phone's effectively off most of the time? No easy answers here. (Well, that's not exactly true. There are some things you can do. (Have you installed WhisperSystems Signal on your phone and made it your messaging app yet?) But they won't render you invisible via magical privacy fairy dust; they hide some things but not all.) But an interesting discussion of trade-offs.

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2016-05-19T14:22:40

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