I make films. I'm also a nerd.

Archive for 2015:

randorando: a Simple Random Number Generator

Purely in service of scratching a personal itch, I wrote a very simple Web app that generates a random number within a set of numbers defined by the user. Enter the highest number in your set–the app assumes that the minimum is 0–and hit the Enter1 key. You’re then presented with your random number.

The app calls out to an API provided by random.org, a service which provides “truly” random numbers using a method based on radio sampling of atmospheric noise.

  1. A submit button appears if you visit on a smartphone, for convenience’s sake. 

White People Are (Wrongly) Scared

Here’s Max Fisher of Vox on Trump’s little rally yesterday:

The conspiracy theory also feeds into far-right fears about demographic change, and a belief that, as white Christian Americans lose their demographic dominance, they will come under physical threat as well.

These fringe extremists see the world as divided into racial and religious groups, and believe that they are already under imminent physical danger from people who look different from them. Within that warped worldview, pre-emptive violence against their perceived enemies would be entirely justified.

This phenomenon strikes me as perhaps the driving force behind most–if not all–of our country’s current political stinkpit. White people assume that sharing privilege is tantamount to losing it. Men assume the same when it comes to feminism. And homophobes, when it comes to marriage equality. "If everyone is a person, I suddenly lose some of my special personhood," so the thought goes.

We’ll get past this ugly moment eventually, and even if we never attain a grand utopian society of equality, we’ll get ever closer to it. Meanwhile, the bigots and the ignorant misanthropes will foam and gurgle at the mouth, and they’ll die angry and bitter and sad.

It might almost be fun to watch them lose, if they didn’t have assault rifles.

Facebook Openly Breaks European Privacy Law

Samuel Gibbs, The Guardian:

Facebook tracks the web browsing of everyone who visits a page on its site even if the user does not have an account or has explicitly opted out of tracking in the EU […]

The real question is: what will the EU do about it.

A: Absolutely nothing.

Gemalto Denies Sim Cards Were Hacked by NSA

Samuel Gibbs, The Guardian:

The firm allegedly hacked by the NSA and GCHQ has stated that it cannot find any evidence that the US and UK security services breached and stole the encryption keys billions of Sim cards.

Good news if true. I can’t help but be a little skeptical, however. Snowden’s revelations have proven time and again to be borne out by the facts. What’s more, don’t we think Gemalto would have a huge incentive to lie and say they were never actually breached?

Lenovo Installs Spyware on Consumer PC’s

As reported by Rick Osgood of Hackaday:

The software actually installs a self-signed root HTTPS certificate. Then, the software uses its own certificates for every single HTTPS session the user opens. If you visit your online banking portal for example, you won’t actually get the certificate from your bank. Instead, you’ll receive a certificate signed by Superfish. Your PC will trust it, because it already has the root certificate installed. This is essentially a man in the middle attack performed by software installed by Lenovo. Superfish uses this ability to do things to your encrypted connection including collecting data, and injecting ads.

Well, if compromising the security of our personal financial transactions makes good business sense for Lenovo, we’ll just have to toughen up and deal with it, won’t we?

They claim that server-side interactions have been disabled since January, which disables Superfish. They have no plans to pre-load Superfish on any new systems.

Oh, good. False alarm. So they’ve stopped doing this. I totally trust them not to be full of “it.”

QuickReminder v. 2.1

My QuickReminder script for Pythonista is now at version 2.1. I improved the way that certain errors were handled, making everything a bit more friendly to the user. I’ve also made a small tweak which throws an alert when no time interval is specified, then relaunches Drafts, preserving the original reminder text.

You can always grab the newest version of the script from this gist.