Monday 29th March 2010

WASTE: secure file sharing for the extremely intelligent

guys, i have something to share with you. you'll love it, and if you don't love it, i won't love you.

WASTE is a program that allows you to make selected data available to a small, trusted group of other WASTE users, and to transmit that data in a pretentiously secure manner. the bits flow directly, using really hefty encryption to keep people in the middle from listening in. (it's RSA. it's the top-shelf stuff. it's what secures your online credit card transactions. everyone knows everything about it and it's still unbreakable.)

intrigued? you should be. read on.

take note: if you don't mind your isp, the government, the mafiaa, and/or rogue wombats listening to your internet connection, or if all you're doing is sending your family members some pictures of your daughter, there are more appropriate systems that save you the considerable overhead introduced by the encryption. on the other hand, if you're transmeeteeng ze seecret deejeetal meecrofeelm, or if you just look good in a tinfoil hat, you will find WASTE to be 100% cromulent.

still intrigued? here's how to make it go:

1. install WASTE!

the official WASTE project hasn't been actively developed for a few years, but the program still works as advertised. officials familiar with the investigation confirm WASTE can function in windows 7. furthermore, there are a few project forks in the wild (such as WASTE again) but this blurb is only concerned with the original. help yourself to the installation files by clicking on this link with your favorite pointing device.

assuming you're using windows, drop the installer into C:\Program Files\WASTE, and run that sucker.

2. find your power numbers!

the WASTE installer will help you find two big, big numbers (keys) that fuel the encryption. one key is public. you hand this one out to your pals (hence, 'public key'); they can use it hide information inside a bunch of nonsense and send it to you. the other key is kept private, and you use it to turn the nonsense back into the original information. anyone with your private key can unlock anything ever sent to you, so keep it secret (hence, 'private key'). the private key will be stored locally and wrapped up under a further password. if you forget the password, you have to start over. (you can have WASTE remember the password, but only if you're absolutely sure your spouse works for the KGB.)

3. connect to other humans!

log in to your router, and tell it to forward port 1337 to your local ip address (the one that looks like 192.168.XX.XX). this is important, but obscure, and if you've gone through a full WASTE installation and you're still unable to connect to other people this is a likely culprit.

several things have to happen in order to form a connection between any two users:

a. both users have to join the same WASTE network. (preferences > network > password)
b. each user has to have the other's public key. (preferences > public keys)
c. at least one user needs to know the other's ip address. knows it, even if you do not.

make these happen, and you one user connects to the other's ip (under network status). anyone who connects to anyone else in the mesh will instantly be able to talk to everyone else who is connected to the mesh.

say alice, bob, and carol are all in the same WASTE mesh; alice has a direct connection to bob, and bob has a direct connection to carol, but alice does not have a direct connection to carol. data can still flow between alice and carol, but it will be piped through their mutual connection to bob. the mesh will use the most efficient route between users, and we know by the triangle inequality a direct connection will be fastest.

you should tell WASTE to automatically try connecting to a list of ip addresses when it starts. in (preferences > chat > perform), use "/connect host", no quotes, for each ip of friends in the mesh.

4. share..

pick some folders, any folders (preferences > file sharing > sending). your friends will be able to browse the contents of these folders, wantonly sampling their delectable bits. those gluttons.

5. ..and enjoy.

now your friends can see just how refined your taste in digital goods really is, and you theirs, and the rogue wombats are altogether cut out of the loop.

posted by mAtt @ 22.40 (gmt+0000)
to /geek/internet

Friday 13th November 2009


i beg you to follow me again down the rabbit-hole of my thoughtcrime. in this episode, i argue that at some point far in our future, original creative endeavor will have been exhausted simply because it's all been done.

to illustrate what i mean, take a piano. any piano. then pick a key on that piano and hit it with some amount of force, and hold the note for an arbitrary amount of time. there, you've composed a bit of music. a very simplistic bit of music, but it'll serve.

now repeat the experiment above, but this time adding another tone—either in parallel or in series—again arbitrarily. the complexity of our musical composition has increased by some factor due to the larger number of options (number of piano keys, plus the volume and duration of the incremental tone) we have added with the additional strike.

continue in this manner, evaluating with each additional strike of the keys whether the piece (a) continues to build toward, or (b) has achieved a "sufficiently artistic" (definition t.b.d.) end. if neither, alter something about what you've done or add a new note. if (a), repeat. if (b), halt. see? it's an algorithm.

you must agree with me that there is some theoretical maximum human endurance for absorption—four hours? ish?—of a single musical work, no matter its beauty, and given the limits of the number of keys available on a standard piano (most have just the eighty-eight), of human fingers both in quantity (most have just the ten) and in key-striking speed measured in notes per second (fifty at a sprint? shot in the dark). also, we must assume that to human ears there is neither an uncountably infinite spectrum of volumes (you can't tell the difference between 76.393 dB and 76.394 dB no matter who you are, you pretentious audiophile) nor an uncountably infinite spectrum of tone durations (ibid., 38.08 ms and 38.09 ms).

if you grant me my assumptions, it follows that the theoretical number of works of music that can be composed is countable, which is to say, given a sufficiently long amount of time and a sufficiently large amount of humans willing to slog through them, we'll write them all. sooner or later, any interesting tune you can hum will have already been composed, and you'll be in violation of someone's copyright.

posted by mAtt @ 21.02 (gmt+0000)
to /geek/unhappiness

Sunday 25th October 2009

my ill-informed wheel of time predictions

[pre-script: predictions are not spoilers, unless they turn out to be right. so, quasi-spoiler maybe-warning?]

so i'm rereading the wheel of time series in rabid, salivating anticipation of the release of book the twelfth. some things are falling into place and my overactive imagination is reeling with the possibilities, the most interesting of which i shall detail for you:

  • verin, you perfect enigma—my explanation for her bizarre behavior is that she has visited the twisted door ter'angreal in tear (fitting for her being brown ajah), and gotten some clue for victory from the aelfinn, and she's working to bring it about; since she's the only one with the answer, her behavior appears to the reader to be secretive or self-serving or contradictory. she's good, just sneaky and duplicitous out of necessity. also, she is (as far as we know) the only one who knows where the horn of valere is (anyone remember the horn?), which may be the root cause of this. the saying it's time to roll the dice, which she got from her father and which mat uses extensively, is what got me thinking on this path.
  • elayne will be at the center of a big cease-fire between the seanchan, the borderlands, and the aiel (rand's answer from the aelfinn). this is the explanation of elaida's foretelling that the royal line of andor will be the key to victory in the last battle.
  • siuan will feel the distinctive tingling that signifies moiraine's channeling—that's how she will learn that mat and gang have freed her from the tower of ghenjei. this latter will happen very soon (the story line will begin in book 12, i'm certain), though how soon siuan and moiraine hook up, who knows.
  • also related to moiraine's return: she gives thom the names of the aes sedai who gentled his nephew owyn, and one of them will be elaida. thom has a rich history of offing leaders who affront him in some way (taringail and galldrian), so it isn't difficult to see where this one is going. the 'one small thing' moiraine knows about her future is that she and thom eventually marry—they will at the series' end, i think. they have a son and name him owyn.
  • slayer kills nynaeve in tel'aran'rhiod, and in an attempt to avenge her, lan fights and is also killed by slayer. either lan kills slayer also, or perrin does later.
  • rand dies (everyone sees it coming), but it won't be exactly death the way we all think of it. it'll happen at shayol ghul fighting padan fain, and they'll kill each other, and i like three scenarios for rand's not-quite-death:

    1. he hangs out a while in tel'aran'rhiod, either because he has become bound to the horn, or by some other egwene/elayne/nynaeve dreamwalking voodoo. he's called back later when mat sounds the horn.

    2. he actually dies, and in this option, it's true physical death. death as the aelfinn see it might be fundamentally different; living in the 'to live, you must die' sense might mean his thread in the pattern still exists, and will later be reborn (just as he is lews therin reborn); or he's healed by nynaeve and everyone is shocked because omg.

    3. there's an interesting theme of threes with rand's character—his actions fall into distinct 'categories' of rand al'thor, lews therin, and 'the dragon' persona—corresponding respectively to the naive shepherd, the formidable madman, and the balanced one rand needs to be. in this one, somehow just the rand al'thor and the lews therin partitions of rand's existence die, but the part called the dragon survives long enough to travel to tar valon (recall the funeral bier viewing) to be healed and sent back into the fray. also: if this is what happens, min and aviendha will also die (they correspond to the rand and lews therin slices respectively)

    i'm currently thinking #3 is closest to how it'll be, but i'm really shooting in the dark here.

  • fain is bad. also, i think some of the forsaken may be loose.

posted by mAtt @ 20.24 (gmt+0000)
to /entertainment/geek/happiness

Wednesday 24th June 2009


what did the iphone cost me? oh, not much. just some dollars, and the chin-scarf i got in greece. i could tell the wife wanted to do a little happy-dance around the ashes of my departed facial locks but bless her, she restrained herself.


posted by mAtt @ 22.45 (gmt+0000)
to /geek/happiness/unhappiness

Sunday 14th June 2009


the idea of using an internet-enabled device to list and sell itself on ebay seems really sad to me. do you think your iphone or whatever is aware at some level of the depth of your betrayal? i do, and this is how it makes me feel.

posted by mAtt @ 12.47 (gmt+0000)
to /geek/unhappiness

Friday 20th March 2009

liveblogging the frakolution [bsg spoilers]

less vomit, more shooting! frak's sake.

admiral hoshi and president what's-his name lawyer = weird

oh gaius, i knew you had … something … in you.

big guns BIG GUNS OMGs YES

ooh! simultaneous hallucination. i've always wondered what that would be like.

anyone else think galactica ramming into the facility like that is a bit freudian?

cavil still a bastard. check.

right, all it takes is a little hand-torch to cut through the hull of a starship.


yeah, getting hera out was way too easy.

'hera's not a thing, she's a child.' *sigh*

fake-huzzah, a matrix-like 'let's all live in peace together' conclusion. almost word for word. frak.


piano song=keypad star coordinates. chelsey saw it coming.

(i'm glad my wife never got drunk doing shots with my brother.)

can it be? earth's evil twin? does it have an evil goatee?

goody goody, high-falutin moral philosophy from one adama to another

'have you ever stolen money from a cash register' … i bet the answer was yes.

tyrol is the father of the vikings! frak yes.

[twenty minutes left; denial sets in]

really trying not to be cynical about roslin, AGAIN

incidental point of order: spaceships don't need wings, no sound in space, and lasers move faster than that


wrong hand for the ring, dummy. also look where you're flying

apparently all that nonsense about hera didn't mean much? i mean, they could have just jumped away, right?

aaaand definitely going over the alloted two hours. curious.

.. thank you for reading; mattlestar gafraktica has been sponsored by kfc and yet another x-men movie

post-show rumination. apparently the entirety of season 3 was predicated on that one night mooreron got stoned listening to 'all along the watchtower'

posted by mAtt @ 21.19 (gmt+0000)
to /entertainment/geek/happiness

Thursday 15th January 2009

ruminations on brian's threaded comments

in this installment, we examine a real-world instantiation of the brian's threaded comments wordpress plugin. specifically, mine.

the skinny:
once you finally get it working, it's slick, yo, and no one can take that away from you.

the thick:
1. it generates invalid css, the first try, before you even get a chance to try to break it yourself. doubleplus ungood. code is poetry; make sure it scans, kids.
2. it comes with its own stylesheet, but it's stored in a .php file that your index page must load, in its entirety, with each pageload. to save on load times you can pull it out of the .php file into its own .css, and then make a call to this new one properly from your main style.css. note: this is after you finally, finally locate where these bizarre broken styles are coming from. on the other hand, if you're using the default (kubrick) wordpress theme, it should look okay—it appears that the plugin is designed to look native to kubrick (or at least some lighter theme).
3. there is no out-of-box 'your comment is awaiting moderation' message given to your respondents. i'm still working on making this go; my apologies to rhymes-with-floss for freaking him out when he thought he had wasted twenty minutes of his life submitting a comment to /dev/null, and then spending another portion of his life retyping it (because that is exactly what i would do) to the same result. (p.s. i still haven't nailed down exactly where to put this back in, so please do not despair if it appears your next comment has been eaten by the ethertrons. it has not.)
4. nitpicking, but you just don't encode a .png as a string of hex characters inside another file. BRIAN who taught you how to do that, it doesn't matter just unlearn it.
5. you basically have to trust the java. unless you yourself speek teh javazors. (i don't.) but it kind of goes with the territory.

all that said, there's definitely a critical mass of people using the plugin—it's likely all your questions have been asked and answered by other actual humans already, so you can probably google for the appropriate q&a. unless you're me, in which case you want to tweak it in ways no one has yet conceived of, and you're s.o.l. as usual. suckah!

do you know who only recently (i.e., after bonking his head on btc for several consecutive nights) discovered there is native support for nested comments in the later versions of wordpress? the answer is me.

posted by mAtt @ 17.54 (gmt+0000)
to /geek/meta
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