codeblog code is freedom — patching my itch

June 29, 2005

google maps

Filed under: General — kees @ 9:37 am

Literally an hour after I finished figuring out how to build a Google Maps site (and having Ken help me with CSS hell), Google goes and changes the API and releases documentation. Aagh.

Google retains the right to put advertising on the map in the future.

Like, as a second overlay? Because I can’t see how this would work in the main overlay, considering users can define their own “info” contents for their XSLT. In-map advertising seems like a silly idea. Since everything is currently rendered in the browser, Google is going to have a hard time controlling what people display. I was hoping they’d go the route of making money off this by making people’s sites really really awsome, and then those people would buy advertising from Google directly due to their huge volume of traffic. I guess we’ll see…

© 2005, Kees Cook. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.
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June 26, 2005

scene diving

Filed under: Blogging — kees @ 6:05 pm

If it hasn’t already got a name, I’m going to coin the phrase “Scene Diving”, because that’s the best way I can describe it. By “scene“, I don’t mean an arrangement of furniture and people on a stage. I mean a group of people interested in a certain common idea, and all the things associated with their communication and productivity. By “diving”, I mean “information diving”, which was probably best outlined in Neuromancer. This is just another “involvement” analogy that uses water (“get your feet wet”, “in over your head”, “jump in at the deep end”, etc). I like this because it makes information a tactile thing that you have to navigate. With all the cyberpunk I’ve read, “diving” into information has such a romantic feel to it. Also, the idea that you’re out of your natural element, and that you’ll have to return to the surface at some point is very apt. It sets this apart from joining a scene.

Scene diving is something I’ve noticed I do a lot of, since there are so many subcultures in the online world. It may just be stating the obvious, but I think it feels like a specific skill. I’ve had people ask me in the past to find things for them, and I tried to show them how I’d go about it, but they weren’t interested in it, or didn’t have the patience. At it’s core, scene diving is just research. It’s really a form a applied research, but it isn’t something that could be done very easily prior to the Internet because of one critical element: communication.

The communication (or rather, language) of a scene is very specific. For example, it’s not immediately obvious to the average person what “BSG” stands for. But if you’re researching the backstory differences between the original and new Battlestar Galactica television series, you’ll find this acronym a lot, and the meaning becomes obvious. If your subculture isn’t online, there is no way for an outsider to observe your language without joining the subculture. This kind of communications research is much more voyeuristic.

Continuing the example, I really like a lot of Science Fiction. I’m a big fan of Star Wars, Star Trek, Doctor Who, BSG, etc. However, I don’t really have a lot of time (or, honestly, interest) to dedicate to these individual subcultures. I’ll watch Star Trek religiously, but I can’t tell you any of the character’s middle names, and I don’t know starship registry numbers off the top of my head. I used to think that meant I didn’t like these shows as much as other people, and that somehow meant I was missing something. It took a while for me to realize that I’m not missing anything, for the very reason that I’m not interested in that level of involvement.

However, there are some things I want to get out of a scene. I have always been fascinated by Star Wars Stormtroopers. Several years ago, I scene-dove and found out how to get myself some white armor. It’s very cool. Recently, I got it into my head that I wanted my very own TARDIS, and scene-dove until I had measurements, parts lists, etc. I still don’t have a TARDIS, but I think that’s because I can’t foresee having the time to build one. I really wanted to see the new Serenity movie from the Firefly series. Again, I scene-dove, and came away with the tickets I needed. My level of involvement in any of these subcultures is rather low, but this kind of diving doesn’t seem to be something a lot of people do. Other people tend to join just a few scenes and maintain a very high level of dedication and time investment. Perhaps I’m just too scattered to stay interested in one thing. Whatever the case, it seems that there is a skill to scene diving, and I enjoy using it. I’ve also met some extremely cool people as a result.

For me, the basic outline for successful scene diving is:

Research the top layer via Google
– “Public information” sites
– Discussion forums
Learn the language
– Abbreviations
– Build your own FAQ — answer any questions you have on your own
Find stuff not out in the open
– Share resources
– Be a useful to other members of the scene

© 2005, Kees Cook. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.
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June 23, 2005


Filed under: General — kees @ 8:12 am

We won two tickets to tonight’s screening of Serenity. I’m so excited! I am such a SciFi junkie. So much, in fact, I have to share the SciFi Ship Size Comparison website.

© 2005, Kees Cook. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.
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June 6, 2005

my first podcast

Filed under: Blogging — kees @ 4:55 pm

I got invited to talk about Device::SerialPort on the weekly PerlCast. I discuss a little bit about the purpose and history of Device::SerialPort, as well as some cool things I know it’s been used for. I get to tell my favorite (short) story about the person in the furthest geographical location from me I’ve ever been in contact with. I had a lot of fun making my 4 minute talk. :) It kind of gives me some practice with what I’m going to be doing for OSCON. Except that OSCON will be several orders of magnitude longer, and I won’t be able to edit out my glaring mistakes.

© 2005, Kees Cook. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.
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June 5, 2005

time for some sleep

Filed under: Security — kees @ 8:30 am

That was a seriously challenging prequal and I’m glad it’s over. Our team, Plan B, placed 4th out of 20 or so other teams making it into the top 6 that will move on to DefCon CTF. (Actually, we’re 3rd because one of the teams won’t be playing…)

So far the wittiest motto: “Plan B: we’re not the best, but we’ll damn well stay up all night”.

Night night.

© 2005, Kees Cook. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.
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June 3, 2005

defcon prequal

Filed under: Security — kees @ 11:31 am

Man, I’m so excited! The DefCon Capture the Flag contest prequalification round is starting tonight. There goes my whole weekend! I’m very curious how this is going to turn out. This year I’m part of a much smaller team than the last two years, and the game organizers are new. (Well, they’re new to organizing; they’ve been competitors in CTF before.) The last 3 years CTF was run by the Ghetto Hackers, and the last two years had enough applicants that a prequalification round was needed. The same thing is happening this year.

Two years ago, I joined the Immunix CTF team late (who had played the year prior as well), and heard details about the web-based puzzles used for the CTF prequal. Last year, we got to do active attacks against executables on a provided machine. After overflowing each executable, you gained the group privs to run the next executable. Additionally, there was a text string token that you emailed to the GH to prove that you had gotten through that stage. Each stage was progressively more difficult to exploit.

So far this year the early clues are pretty shallow. They have mentioned “tokens” again, and a contest website. Maybe the website will give instructions on a machine to log into. Maybe it’ll all be web based again. Either way, I’m stocking up on beef jerky and water.

© 2005, Kees Cook. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.
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