Recently on NerdAbsurd we discussed “Smart” guns, in which I took up the task of refute the an article on Slate.com written by Farhad Manjoo. When Virginia first sent me a link to the article asking my opinion, I knew I would have more than a few things to say after reading just the title: “We Have the Technology To Make Safer Guns: Too bad gunmakers don’t care.” For now, I’m going to overlook the idea that there is some grand conspiracy of firearms manufacturers and tackle the idea of “smart” guns themselves.
Update Feb 3rd 2011: I am no longer maintaining the Mail Checker Minus extension. I recommend switching over to Jason Savard‘s Checker Plus For Gmail. He’s already done a good bit of work cleaning up code and adding new features. For those of you happy with the extension as is, I will continue to make it available via the Chrome Web Store, but please note that I will not be fixing bugs or supporting the extension.
It’s fairly likely that you found this site because of the Google Chrome Extension I now maintain, Mail Checker Minus. That’s a pretty good assumption since it’s fairly popular and links here. For the two people who somehow found my site and don’t know about Mail Checker Minus, it is (in my opinion) one of the most useful plugins for Chrome. It allows you to see the number of unread mails for Gmail at a glance, preview them, and even take actions on them.
Today, while I was working on the inventory system for the Dallas Makerspace I received a message from an unknown person via AIM. This is not an unusual event for me since I have had the same AIM screen name for over a decade, so I tend to get messages out of the blue from people I used to know or who I gave my info to and promptly forgot (sorry). While this wasn’t the first spam bot to contact me, it was the first to fool me into thinking it was a real human, at least for a bit. Here’s the chat log, with my comments:
me: Hello, do I know you?
bluesoftball27: hey whatss up? 24/f here u?
me: Who are you?
bluesoftball27: Im natali. Dont you remember?
me: I’m sorry, I don’t. Did we meet somewhere?
bluesoftball27: oh cool.. have we talked b4?
me: Not that I recall
bluesoftball27: ah ok sorry. wasnt sure. but anywho whats up?
me: I’m writing an inventory management program at the moment
bluesoftball27: yeah? im so bored over here i dunno what to do with myself.
bluesoftball27: you wanna watch me on cam? i feel like having some fun :-X
Here is where I started suspecting that bluesoftball27 might be up to something.
me: I’ll pass, I’m kind of busy
bluesoftball27: k u gotta make a free login for this site that its linked to so i cant be recorded. k?
Yup, this is definately someone trying to trick me into downloading a virus or giving out my credit card info. However, at this point I had not yet realized the responses were automated.
me: No thanks, I don’t need a virus right now.
bluesoftball27: k cool. http://verifiedcams.com/7/natali go there and when it loads click JOlN FREE at the top ok?
me: Ahhh, I see. These are all preprogrammed responses.
Finally I realized the horrible, awful, truth. Natali was a program, sent back in time to steal my credit card, or something.
bluesoftball27: it does ask for a credit card i think but i know for sure it dosent cost anything
bluesoftball27: its just to make sure that you are over 18.
me: Empty response
bluesoftball27: when u get signed up then u can come watch me on cam and we can have some fun.
me: What other responses do you have?
me: Are they static, or based on my input?
bluesoftball27: if u join me in private or tip me some gold i will do anything u ask me babe
bluesoftball27: i really mean ANYTHlNG. :-X
me: Anything? But you’re not even real
bluesoftball27: lets talk on the site when u get in babe. my aim is messing up
me: Your aim is messing up? What is this, 1998?
A while back I became a member of the Dallas Makerspace, which is basically the only hackerspace in the Dallas area. I met a lot of cool people and now I have access to a lot of really cool tools (Makerbot, CNC laser cutter, etc) so hopefully I’ll have some new blog posts in the next few months talking about a cool project I’m working on. If you live in the Dallas area or will be here on the 20th, come by our open house, it’s going to be fun.
From the Dallas Makerspace blog:
On November 20th, DMS will be hosting an Open House for all who want to come and check out just what a Makerspace is all about. There will be food, demonstrations, tours, and a meet and greet with the Dallas Makerspace members. Meet people passionate about a myriad of things from robotics, to wood crafting, to art and photography.
Come! And see the wonders of laser cutters, Cupcake CNC Makerbots, and darkroom science! See demos about brass etching, recycling plastic bags into sewable fabric and view projects DMS members are currently working on: Eggbot, the Jacob’s Ladder and more!
Come! And learn about what a Makerspace is; our goals, projects, and purpose.
Come! And enjoy a day full of scientific endeavors, artistic pursuits, and innovative thinking!
When: Saturday, November 20, 2010, from Noon until Midnight
Where: Dallas Makerspace, 11020 Audelia Rd, Suite C103, Dallas, TX 75243
Note: Make sure to check out the wiki for a full list of demos, projects and links to a map that will lead you to our doorstep.
View Secret Path to DMS in a larger map
In case you don’t know, Bitcoin is a decentralized crypto-currency or as the site says a “peer-to-peer network based digital currency”. While most people have been content to use the pre-compiled binaries available, some of us prefer to compile the client from source, for various reasons. Personally, I maintain a repository on github because I like using a number of patches that various programmers have put forth in the Bitcoin community. Whatever your reason for compiling from source, you have likely run into issues with compiling the graphical client since it requires the development version of wxWidgets. After a whole lot of failed attempts to compile the Bitcoin client I finally found a working configuration.
Hey everyone, I was going to post this yesterday, but my internet was on the fritz. On Wednesday while at dinner I received a text message telling me to call a number to activate my credit card, I knew right away this was a phishing attempt. After dinner, I went to the Verizon store right around the corner to see if they had a number for reporting these kinds of things.
Earlier this week someone did something very bad, and it got me thinking about what are some of the simple things that make someone an effective Linux admin. While I will not tell you that following my advice will make you some kind of super-admin, it will help you when dealing with Linux servers and hopefully save you and others from needless headaches. Here are my tips on being an effective Linux admin, in no particular order.
I have been running Windows 7 as my primary and only OS on my desktop and laptop for several months. I have no plans of going back to XP. This OS is rock-solid stable and fast. Great hardware support and new features and enhancements on old features make it by far the most attractive OS on the horizon, as far as I am concerned. I am, without a doubt, planning to purchase Windows 7 Ultimate when it releases, too bad it is not available for half off preorder. Here are my own top 5 reasons why Windows 7 is awesome.
It’s time for a short rant about proper Linux administration. Someone, who shall not be named, manually edited the /etc/sudoers file and broke it on a critical server. In case you don’t know, on Linux sudo allows you to run commands as the root (Administrator) user, and the sudoers file determines who can use sudo and what they can do with it.
In case you have been living under a rock, Firefox 3.5 came out today (well technically yesterday). I’ve noticed a lot of people wondering how they can get it running smoothly on Ubuntu. Never fear, after much trial and error (a lot of error) I’ve found what I think should be the easiest way to install the latest version of Firefox. So if you are just as impatient as I am, you can rejoice in the all the cool new features.