September 20, 2014

A long time ago—25 years, easy—I started putting my pocket change in a 5 gallon glass carboy jug. It got almost full recently and I was trying to figure out what to do with it. What I wanted to do was give it to a charity that could use it for a "guess the amount of change" game, or maybe a silent auction. I haven't come up with the right charity yet.

So it's sitting at the bungalow because the movers didn't move it. I checked it out the other day, and it's too heavy to lift as-is. I devised a plan. Today Jeanne and I went over and used movers' tape to secure it to a dolly. Nice and tight so it wouldn't shift. I figured that we could wheel it out to the car and, with the extra gripping points provided by the dolly, the two of us could load it into the car.

I wheeled it toward the back door and tugged it gently over the threshold. It broke into about a dozen pieces and the change poured all over the porch. We only cut ourselves about three times picking coins out of the broken glass, but I haven't attacked the carboy hulk—the part that is still strapped to the dolly in about five pieces, still holding change. I'm saving that for tomorrow and a pair of gloves.

People use glass carboys for making home brew, and there's a gruesome Web page dedicated to broken glass carboy horror stories. Lots of pictures of stitches and staples. The theme of the posts seems to be, "it's amazing how easily they break." I guess we got off easy.

Now I have 200 pounds of loose change in bags and boxes. I'll haul them to the grocery store and feed them to the Coinstar machine. It turns out that they don't charge you a fee if you take your money in the form of a retailer's gift card. But it will be kind of embarrassing for Jeanne and me to stand there and feed change to a machine for an hour. "Honey, I'm about done emptying this bag. Would you go out to the car and get me another one?"

September 20, 2014

September 20, 2014

September 18, 2014

An outfit called SplashData reports that these are the most-hacked passwords of 2013.

My server gets what they call "brute force" hack attempts all the time: people in China or Russia or Topeka trying to randomly guess the password. After a few tries, the server locks them out and reports to me. If I want, I can permanently blacklist the IP address of the attacker.

Here's what strikes me about brute-force attempts. Do the hackers start with "1" then try "12" then "123" and eventually work their way up to "123456"? I don't think so. I think they try a list like the one to the left, then they try various combinations of words that relate to the site they're trying to hack. It's not like TV, where some random-code generator can try millions of variations in two seconds. Tom Cruise would get locked out of my server after five tries. So brute-force attacks are pretty much a waste.

Is there really a point to longer, more complex passwords? Is the hacker going to stumble across "$b7T" faster than "MommA78z%u9##;"? For that matter, what about "*c]"? Once the hacker moves to four characters—or starts there—you're safe. Look at the passwords on the list. The shortest is four characters. Maybe your password should be "^".

If the security field you're working with accepts alt characters, you might try alt-1: ☺

September 18, 2014

Okay, here we go. A Kansas City Royals fan wanted to honor outfielder Nori Aoki, who is of South Korean heritage. To do so, he hung this flag from the stadium rail. Pop quiz: What is really, really, terribly, offensively wrong with this picture?

September 18, 2014

The pictured Boerne property has just been listed for sale, I think. The listing begins, "NO SIGN! NO LOCKBOX! INSIDE VIEWED AFTER ACCEPTABLE CONTRACT IS RECEIVED. DO NOT BOTHER OR CONTACT TENANTS."

I guess the owners figure that it's a total tear-down, and if you want to see the inside you're on the wrong track.

The listing says that it can be re-zoned for commercial use and re-zoning is "easily obtained," which I take as a sort of insult to our local governmental bodies. It turns out, though, that the land is already zoned B-2, which allows a whole bunch of commercial uses, so I don't quite get the point. Maybe they foresee a gasoline station. Or a steel mill.

The property is on the edge of one of our few in-town R-1 residential neighborhoods. Thanks to commercial and church encroachment, the neighborhood has less than two square blocks of residences left. It's a goner.

Our neighborhood, Oak Park, is about the last vintage in-town R-1 neighborhood. After that it's the Flats, which is R-2 and R-3, allowing tight lots, minimal setbacks, and townhouses.

I think the city mothers and fathers are sympathetic to the need to preserve residential life in the core city, but they get distracted and let one lot dribble away, then another, and another.

September 18, 2014

I just finished spraying perimeter bug killer around the beach house. We have tree roaches in town, which we did not have at the ranchito, but we know how to deal with them from living in Houston, the Tree Roach Capital of the Universe.

You can't get rid of them, because they thrive out there in the trees. Perimeter spray won't keep them out, but it will increase the likelihood that they will die after entry. Dead tree roaches are the preferable type because the species, when disturbed, and especially when disturbed in the dark, tends to fly straight at you, which makes you jump and squeal like a girl.

(Photo darn near actual size.)

September 18, 2014

Consider this. Why do they post videos of gruesome beheadings? One, because it is a metaphor for their struggle that attracts disaffected young Muslims to their cause. Two, because it will draw us into war, which will attract more disaffected young Muslims to their cause.

There is a difference between an attack and a provocation, and we need to learn it because the provocations will continue and they will only increase if we respond with the war that they want.

Don't take the bait.

Arm and train the Kurds. Do not arm and train the Syrian "moderates." Think twice before the dubious exercise of arming and training Iraqis; let the Iranian-backed Shiite militias do their work. Use every trick in the CIA/NSA playbook to confound the bastards. Pressure the Arab states. Identify ISIL's financial backers and give their home addresses to the Mossad. Increase security at home. Use drones occasionally as in Pakistan, Sudan, and Somalia.

Let it go at that, at least for a couple of years.