Latest posts.

End of year crowdfunding

And by crowdfunding, I mean giving to worthy non-profits.

Here is my short list of organizations I plan to give to in the next week or two (alphabetically):

So far that is 7 organizations.

What have I missed? Obviously The Wikimedia Foundation, but I always feel weird donating to the org that pays my salary.

(Also, boy do I wish I could donate without being bombarded by solicitations for more donations. Let me decide, please.)

flattr this!

The medical congressional financial industrial complex

This year, during open enrollment, Carrie and I are planning on changing health plans (Kaiser HSA -> BCBS PPO, so we can do some catching up on health stuff). All changes need to happen by December 20th, 2013 for the year 2014 (starting on Jan 1st).

In doing my due diligence, I read the pdfs that our health insurance brokerage provides us. These pdfs have this bold text on the first page:

THE EVIDENCE OF COVERAGE
AND PLAN CONTRACT SHOULD BE CONSULTED
FOR A DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF COVERAGE
BENEFITS AND LIMITATIONS.

And, as well all know, ALL CAPS means the lawyers really mean it.

So, let’s go find the “Evidence of Coverage and Plan Contract” document, shall we? Oh, sorry, I can only view the 2013 versions of those documents (not the 2014 version, which is what will govern the plan for the year 2014, obviously).

I emailed our brokerage agent about this, and this is the response I got:

The 2014 Evidence of Coverage booklets aren’t available yet. The carrier has 90 days from the Plan Year effective date to provide them; however, they usually come sooner (we’ll probably see them by the end of January). As soon as they are available, they’ll be posted.

Let me get this straight.

1) I must choose by Dec 20th, 2013
2) ALL OF THE INFORMATION I have on the plans say to consult the official plan contract as the summaries are not binding.
3) Those official plan contracts are not made available until at least the end of January.
4) The insurance companies aren’t legally required to provide them until 90 days after January 1st, 2014.
5) I must then preemptively agree to be bound by a contract which I have not yet seen and will not see until it is too late for me to change my decision.

How the hell is the a “meeting of the minds“? How the hell is this legal AND legally encouraged?

flattr this!

Privilege isn’t what you’re fighting

Thesis: Anyone can have impostor syndrome for any number of reasons. Privilege is orthogonal to how one feels about themselves.

Thesis2: Anyone can be depressed for any number of reasons. Privilege is not a deciding factor.

Summary: The trend to bash on “privilege” is ill targeted. Bash on people’s actions. Bash on their misconceptions. Bash on their hurtful words. But their privilege? That’s just tilting at windmills. “Privilege” will never go away AND it is not the cause of the thing you are fighting. The world is a bit more complex than that, thankfully.

[EDIT added at 2013-12-20T00:38:25+00:00]: The cause of the thing you’re fighting is the environment which gives rise to that privilege. Maybe I’m splitting hairs, but:
Please don’t attack my whiteness or maleness or (very) not poorness. But the fact that those things, a priori, give me a helping hand (whether I ask for it or not, or whether I even think about it or not) is not how a just society would work. Let’s fight that.

flattr this!

Usability of real things

#quickpost

I’m not a huge fan of the keyboad on the new Thinkpad x230 work got me. It’s a great computer otherwise, but it is true: the trajectory of the Thinkpad keyboard is going down hill.

Seriously, the PgUp and PgDn keys are reversed from what the intuitive choice. The fact that I can’t Fn+UpArrow to do PgUp is stupid (it was the behavior on my x200s). The row of Home/End/Insert/Delete doesn’t make any sense as well. And why is the Delete key bigger than Insert/Home/End? Are we a mac keyboard?!

Usability is apparently only for things on the screen, not the input devices. They are just supposed to look purty (eg: apple keyboards).

We put so much fucking time in to figuring out how much mental energy it takes to recognize an icon, but acknowledging the fact that our fingers are different lengths (as in, index is diff than middle): NEVER! Fuck ergonomics!

flattr this!

Emergency Message!

How I read the US Embassy in Iceland’s warning about the Chelsea Manning protests:

“Stay away if you’re a god-fearing American, cuz we’re recording everyone’s faces and will red-flag dem sumabitches faster than you can say ‘fourth amendment’, got that? Freedom ain’t free.”

flattr this!

Looking for: “The” “best” encryption guide

After a week of remodeling going on at the work office, I come back and find that my laptop is missing (we’ll just assume stolen at this point, really).

Right not I can’t do much but fret about what was wrong with its setup (the most wrong probably being the lack of full disk encryption because it was a work issue Dell XPS with Ubuntu preinstalled that I didn’t have the time to reinstall with Debian). All I can do now is hope that the people who stole it aren’t identity thieves as well. If you start to see random posts here, well….

What I need now, for when I get my replacement laptop, is a well thought out plan for how to do encryption/security right. What I’m thinking is:

  • For my GPG subkey I use for signing, do xyz
  • For my GPG subkey I use for personal encryption (password files etc), do zyx
  • For my GPG subkey I use for automatic personal encryption (backups), do yxz
  • For my ssh key I use for remote server access, do zxy
  • For my ssh key I use for automatic remote server access (backups), do yzx
  • etc

For all of these, the xyz could include things like “store on an encrypted volume usb key that never leaves home” or some such. In other words: I want to do this the right way. In the places I cut corners (ie: automatic backups) I know I’m cutting corners and thus those things have limited reach/use.

Dear helpful security crypto web: Where is that guide or set of guides?

EDIT:

I’ve started a wiki page to track my findings. Please email me or comment here if you have any suggestions!

flattr this!

Why cryptographic signatures isn’t the way to crytography adoption

#quickpost

I’ve been mulling around the idea of more wide-spread crytographic use. One thing that I see as sorely lacking in current popular/professional culture is verifiable electronic signatures. The Adobe stuff seems wrong to me every time I use it as an end user (read: see it on some pdf; I’ve never actually generated a signature with it).

But verifiable electronic signatures is something us geeks figured out a long time ago! So simple, really. Just get all those law firms and law schools to teach their lawyers and paralegals how to use GPG and BAM! a gigantic WOT for law system users. And then, businesses would start adopting it (since their lawyers use it) and then… and then….

But, it appears to me that lawyers don’t actually care about verifiable electronic(ly communicated) signatures. The recent court cases involving Prenda Law (copyright troll) are proof of that. It all comes down to some argument in a court room with a bunch of he said/she said. I think they must like it this way.

Does anyone reading this know of a lawyer (or someone represented by a lawyer) who has used GPG to sign a document and had that document used in the court of law?

So, that’s all to say that lawyers won’t be the way to getting more widespread use of crytographically secure digital signatures, even though they’re a great use case for them.

flattr this!

A culture of hate

Today I broke up my first playground bully fight as a dad. It involved blood (the bully drew blood on two others; mouth punches). They were probably around the age of 9.

I could have, and should have, stopped it before blood was drawn, but I didn’t know it was real and I dislike being “that dad” who checks in on kids who end up to be truthfully just playing; maybe I’ll have to be that guy more often now.

I will go to sleep tonight running through all the different potential scenarios and how I should have handled it; kicking myself.

It all brought back the horrible memories of being on the receiving end of that stuff. It’s also why I join TaeKwonDo at the age of 8 when I lived in Texas and became a 1st degree black belt in 2 years. But it’s also why, when I moved to Missouri and joined a much more fighting-oriented club that I quit (the teacher was a female kickboxer who routinely fought in male tournaments).

I like sparring, but I hate fighting.

As Carrie and I were putting Rowan down to sleep 30 minutes later (we were at the playground for a nice after dinner excursion) we talked about what happened, how it was affecting us, and then, generally, the culture of hate we live in.

I don’t know the root causes and I have no cures, but we all really sincerely terribly positively do need to work on reducing the hate around us. Without us all working on it, it won’t happen.

flattr this!

Daddy, why are you sad?

Oh Petey, it’s ok, grown ups sometimes disagree with what each other are doing. It doesn’t mean we don’t love you anymore, just, I don’t get along with Canonical.

Canonical and I had a long, wonderful relationship. They brought a lot of wonderfully smart and committed individuals in, paid them great, and let them build really awesome free software. We all loved Canonical back then. They were the best sugar daddy anyone could want.

I loved them so much I did a ton of boring work, even! I triaged over 1000 bugs! For free! Granted, I did most of it when I was in grad school with nothing better to do (I was procrastinating when writing papers). But, it was great because I loved the community that was around me and supporting me. Brian Murray was especially awesome. Along with persia and many others I can’t remember right now. Pete, the people who were active back in 2007 were so amazingly helpful, caring, and committed. We all worked together so well because we all saw each other as equals.

I believed in Canonical so much, and the community they were creating, to be an evangelist for them. I was a believer! I preached the good word. I swallowed it myself hook, line, and sinker.

But, in any relationship, Petey, the people must be equals if it is to last.

Canonical started making the relationship unequal, though. They have their reasons, and they make sense to them. But they are hurtful to me and I can’t be true to myself and live under them at the same time.

They started to treat non-Canonical developers as free labor and wouldn’t even let them use the software in the same way Canonical does. Then Canonical started keeping more secrets. Sure, we all have secrets, and Canonical has probably been lying to me for a while, but lately they have become much more overt about it, making me look like an abused partner in public, instead of just being one in private.

And that’s really the point, Petey, Canonical started out awesome like most partners do. But they were hiding their true selves. They had the best intentions, probably, like most partners do. They think they can be better, they think they can treat their partners with respect and love, and they do for a while. But it is hard for them. Their true side starts to show itself in those heated moments when you wonder what is really going through their head. Then it gets to be too much and too often.

You just can’t take it anymore.

And that’s why I’m ending my relationship with Canonical.

Remember Petey, it’s not your fault, and I still love you. It’s something between Canonical and me.

Do you want a warm glass of milk and cookies?

flattr this!

The more things change

It’s official. I’ve signed the paperwork. I’ve told everyone at CC.

On February 19th I begin as Release Manager at the Wikimedia Foundation.

I can say a ton more about my time at CC; experiences, what I learned, who I worked with, all that. But instead of saying too much, and not enough, I’ll just say:

Looking forward to the future.

flattr this!