Larry Hosken: New

Book Report: All At Sea

It's a writer's memoir about joining up with a documentary film crew hoping to document seamanship techniques by nomadic sailors based near Thailand, sort of. But things go off the rails and it's a road to muddled hell paved with good intentions. These nomads indeed have a tough time nowadays—nations care about borders and aren't very understanding of big groups of folks accustomed to wandering over those dotted lines on the map. But but this movie crew sure didn't help. Anyhow, if you've ever thought When a ship's captain asks me if I know how to do something, for safety's sake I should admit my ignorance but worried that you didn't have evidence to back that up, this book has a cringe-y anecdote for you. Oh yeah—this book is by Julian Sayarer; don't confuse it with other books with the same title…

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2019-06-15T17:56:55.447314

Book Report: Silence on the Wire

It's a book with ways to indirectly find out internet-security-ish info about things. E.g., if you're curious to know whether visitors to your website also frequent the San Francisco SPCA website, you might try displaying an image from that website and time how long it takes for that image to appear. If a visitor sees the image quickly, their computer probably already had info from the SPCA website cached on their computer from previous visits.

Some of these techniques are practical. Some others, uhm, sound like some grad students dared each other find the most bass-ackwards way to "leak" information from systems they already owned. E.g., whoever figured out how to guess at network traffic by using a high-speed camera to monitor lights on a modem, uhm… these people were clever but maybe could have found a better use of their time?

Practical or not, this is some fun reading if you're into that sort of thing.

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2019-06-05T15:50:34.090374

I drank some instant tea. But first I snapped photos because I didn't find much online about this tea. Behold: Platinum Myanmar Milk Tea.

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2019-06-05T00:31:32.980574

Today I walked the SF Crosstown Trail, a long walk from one corner of San Francisco to the opposite corner via lots of parks and greenways and trees and such. There were a few stretches of sidewalk in there, but mostly paths among trees. Some fans of trees would probably like to set up an all-greenway route across the city. But then we'd probably end up with a bunch of coyotes at Candlestick Point yipping "Well, where are we supposed to go from here, this is dumb" and nobody wants to listen to a bunch of coyotes whining so never mind that. Anyhow, the trail was fun.

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2019-06-02T01:07:01.526489

I was unintentionally cruel a while back. I posted a photo saying "ha ha ha, this wall decoration could almost be Braille, I see codez everywhere ha ha ha". And then some nice folks pointed out that actually, yes, the wall decoration was indeed Braille—but because I'd taken such a narrow photo, they could only see a few words, grrr. So here, at long last, is a wider photo so that code fiends can read the rest.

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2019-06-01T23:22:07.603765

Book Report: Ninth Step Station, Season 1

It's cyberpunk detectives fighting crime in a divided city. It's fun. There are fun bits of spycraft, drone walls, and the kinds of nasty side effects from extreme body modification that Mike Pondsmith told us to be wary of.

It's meant to be read as a serial. [Update: you can now buy a "season" as a single Kindle book, huzzah!] Thus, I ended up downloading 10 separate chapters onto my Kindle. But as long as this "Serial Box" outfit keeps publishing writers whose stuff I like, I can deal with such a nuisance.

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2019-06-02T18:11:46.596033

I read a book. I won't report which book; I was researching a puzzle, so naming it would be spoiler-y. But but it was a rare excuse for me, a non-academic, to visit the San Francisco Public Library's Special Collections room. I had to sign in, hand over my backpack, and fill out a form reporting how many pictures of the book I snapped. My mien was super scholarly.

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2019-05-22T23:39:13.669164

Milestone: 35 Million Hits

Wow, it's the site's 35 millionth hit. 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:

78.46.61.245 - - [14/May/2019:16:04:53 +0000] "GET /new/labels/arrr.html HTTP/1.1" 200 50692 "-" "Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; MJ12bot/v1.4.8; http://mj12bot.com/)"

This is a bot from some SEO company. It's visiting an old blog page. Many (10) years ago, I used a service blogger.com to manage this here blog. blogger.com made that arrr.html to keep track of my blog posts about pirates. So… if you want to see my blog posts about pirates, specifically excluding those from the last 10 years, this bot has helpfully found them for you. Also, I'm kind of surprised you exist? Anyhow. Welcome to the site, bots and humans.

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2019-05-15T16:01:25.742285

COBRA Complete, the COBRA administration company that messed up about 2/5 of my automatic payments to them, just sent me a check with no explanation. Now I'm wondering which scenario is most likely:

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2019-05-14T14:41:28.475098

Book Report: Paper

Some months back, I learned that back in pre-USA days, the American Colonies had to import rags from the old country to make paper with. I thought that was weird. My mom noted that Mark Kurlansky had written a book about the history of paper which might clear things up for me. And it did. It turns out: everybody had a rag shortage everywhere. Paper-makers went out of business because they couldn't get cheap rags. It was a problem in the American colonies. It was a problem back in England, too—England imported a lot of paper from the Netherlands. It's not really clear to me why the Netherlands had rags. Maybe they were willing to pay for them? The book mentions plenty of instances of paper-makers complaining about the difficulty of gathering rags; but it's not clear that many of them did anything more than complain and close up shop.

Fortunately, later technologists learned that it was cheaper to chop down huge swaths of forest than to recycle rags, and soon there was plenty of cheap paper. Good thing we didn't need those forests for climate maintenance or whatever, yep.

Anyhow, the book isn't just about ragpicking. There's book-making, art, brushes, typesetting. It's a fun read.

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2019-05-04T02:56:07.491512

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