DEFCON day 2

not sure if it’s the 50 shades of grey effect or what, but man is there more chippendale’s ads than last year.

keynote was this morning and it was delivered by the head of the NSA / head of US cyberdefense. if you combine that with the talk given by the former assistant executive director of the FBI (i think i got that right), a former anti-hacker prosecutor, and the usual mix of recruiting talks by the standard 3 letter agencies, this might have been the single most government heavy DEFCON in history. more like FEDCON amirite?

NSA guy’s talk was in general “you guys are wonderful, we are all americans (even the ones of you who are not american) and should therefore help america. please do not sell exploits to anyone else, please work for the NSA 143 143”. only two notably points is that during the softball q/a session (all questions asked by DT) he said that NSA has no dossiers on any american unless it’s incidental to their conversation with other-nationals, and when asked if he’d prefer a safer but more limited internet to a less-safe but more creative, he admitted to preferring the first in order to protect IP.

fun fact i learned though: NSA is tasked with protecting .mil, FBI is tasked with protecting .gov, any other tld and you’re on your own. or in theory anyways, in practice if there’s enough millions on the line, the FBI can still run in and perform hardware seizure on your behalf to remove an attacker, especially if you happen to hire an ex-FBI security consultant with everyone in the bureau still on quick-dial HINT HINT

some rundown of other stuff from the con:

  • WEP cracking is considered not worthy of discussion anymore while WPA/WPA2 are best attacked with password bruteforcers, and in current keyspace given a single aggressing computer and strong signal, the average attack length for a perfectly configured WPA2 is 1.5 months.
  • if you’re using regex’s as your sole method of detecting SQL-insertions then you’re living in a state of sin, even more than before
  • drones are cheap and getting cheaper. everyone should have a dozen to monitor everyone around you. good drones make good neighbors
  • if you have vmware server running and it’s not patched to 4.1 then there’s a metasploit module out to hack you. if you are fully patched, there still might be a way to string together a mess of bugs involving windows permissions, vmware orchestrator, jetty web server, unicode escaping of strings, arp spoofing, and an MD5 hash break for good measure, that will take over your mini-cloud. the weird russian claimed this was a 0-day.

oh, and there’s a DEFCON documentary coming, from the guy who made Get Lamp and the BBS documentary. looks very Get Lamp-y, which is not bad.

good talk from a guy who used to test systems for US defense contractors to make sure they were secure enough for secret and top-secret documents. long story short: the guidelines are written by 15 defense contractors, you don’t have to do anything at all for 9 months or so, the new “partners in industry” program makes it next to impossible to fail, he’s not allowed to touch the computer during an inspection (the employee drives while he watches), and windows is the only system that has actual security guidelines for it. the linux guidelines, as of now, are limited to monitoring a few directories and seeing if a new file shows up. bonus factoid 1: in case the DoD learns that a contractor got hacked, the DoD has no right to tell the contractor who did it, how they did it, or how to fix it; they can only say “hey, you got hacked, sorry”. bonus factoid 2: in he found a print out of the locations of the current active US nuclear missile silos (clearance top secret) hanging out in a filing cabinet in a public hallway. upon moving it to secure storage on a nearby base (per guidelines), he got yelled at for interfering with the contractor’s work.

different good talk from a ACLU-NorCal guy pointing out that while SOPA/PIPA is definitely a worry, a second and very real danger is tiny encroachment by local law enforcement. it’s not the feds currently who are developing omnipresent license plate scanners, but local police departments under municipal law. if things like cell-phone privacy laws fall, it probably won’t be from federal guidelines, but from people not managing to successfully challenge their adoption by smaller law enforcement groups.

which leads me to the first entry into this year’s DEFCON “slippery slope of doom” talk, which was the “automated law enforcement will lead to killbots on our streets (maybe)” panel. decent talk, other than the alarmism, pointing out that we are in fact automating away a lot of the processes of societal safety, including traffic cameras, facial recognition of crowds, full biometrics in some places like India, license plate recognition, crowd sourcing of suspect identification (like websites for identifying looters), and that south korea did literally actually use actual literal killbots on their DMZ with north korea. american flying killbots not mentioned at this particular talk for some odd reason.

that was a strong contender for second place in the “slippery slope of doom” contest since first place will doubtlessly go to Cory Doctorow who will give his standard sales pitch on the death of general computing tomorrow, and it’s unlikely that he won’t at least call for the overthrow of government if not all out civil war.

so yeah, that’s day 2. i’m seriously missing the 7/11 that was within walking distance of the riviera, at least i could buy a banana there. i’m drinking naked juice’s from starbucks to try and keep away vitamin deficiency.


first thing in Las Vegas (7:30am, good morning) is matching billboards informing me that Paul Oakenfold and that one guy from Jersey Shore are resident DJs at the hard rock casino. must be a proud moment for oakie.

my taxi driver, upon hearing that i’m going to the Rio, asks me if i’m a hacker and if i can hack his car (a mid 90s crown vic). i tell him i can and he’s impressed. i suppose i could try and block his GPS signal if i had a spoofer or something, so it’s not 100% a lie.

line for badges is 2 hours. i was in front a 6’5″ dude from Colorado who couldn’t not talk to people. as soon as someone started ignoring him he’d pick a new audience for his particular brand of libertarian-tinged DEFCON history and philosophy. it was like being stuck in a 2 hour podcast of a turner diaries / windows certification classes crossover.

badge this year is a hybrid of the go-meet-people-solve-mystery one from last year, and the techy ones from previous years. it’s a microcontroller with usb, vga (requires soldering), and some other hidden features, but also part of an ARG game again. reminds me to look up what the ARG ‘solution’ was last year since i never check

btw, this microcontroller supports the Z80 instruction set, which means that it’s possible to play Jet Set Willy on a conference badge. not quite the singularity but it’s not bad.

thursday talks were tailored towards the workshops, with mini tutorials as talks. the wi-fi guys did a “here’s how to attack WPA2” one, the lockpick guys did “here’s how to bypass this generation of anti-lockpick devices”, etc

the defcon entertainment is maturing, for better or worse. sure, the perennial terribads Regenerator are still playing, but the headliners for the friday/saturday post-defcon parties are  MC Frontalot and Crystal Method, with Infected Mushroom doing a daytime set outside. not sure how ready crystal meth is for a hall with 4 guys ironically dancing and couple hundred people sit leaning against the walls tweeting about how much they love bacon, guns, and ayn rand.

btw, if i catch their set, this would be the third time i unintentionally see Crystal, with the first being some club i went to for a friend’s birthday, and second being burning man when someone told me that they were Chemical Brothers (i spent a good few minutes wondering Chem Bros would open a set with Trip Like I Do)

food eaten so far: 1 stupid large sandwich and a naked juice. i feel like a paleothic hunter who caught and ate an entire capybara, except the capybara is an overpriced philly cheese-steak, and i didn’t catch it but in a way you bought it for me with your state education fund tax dollars. so thank you.

if you’re not going out of your way…

if you’re not going out of your way to avoid ads, consider starting.

not only do you lose your present but long story short, advertising creates false memories, and in a very real way people are stealing your past from you and replacing it with a false one

there’s simply no need to be exposed to the vast majority of ads anymore either, in between adblockers and alternate ways to watch shows. no cure for billboards yet though

march second second march

new preteen is up: sherman’s second march

some thoughts:

  • came out more religious than we thought. that’s in a big way cause the popularization of the ‘weird’ that we like to look into. we had to dig a bit deeper than before, and the result was going into older sources. some stuff ages a bit worse, and there’s only so much communism we can put into a CD. religion is more timeless
  • the verses on Black Block are sampled from an a capella by Utah Phillips. google him
  • the beats date from between 2007 to 2011. the CD was assembled from separate piles of beats and samples, and into an album, mostly in the last week of February 2011
  • boyfriend is a cover
  • electrohead is not a cover
  • the sample on unapologia is real and not taken out of context. we actually considered recutting it to try and get him to make more sense, since he likes to change what his pronouns refer to mid-sentence, but figured that it’d be best left alone
  • this is our longest CD ever and savannah is our longest song ever
  • “message from our sponsor” is our second shortest album song ever and third shortest overall. “uncanny valley (radio edit)” is 4 seconds shorter, “uncanny valley (extended)” is 2 seconds shorter
  • “uncanny valley (radio edit)” is actually too short to go onto a CD
  • savannah is too long to fit on any CD format currently in use. it could fit on a DVD-A though
  • “flaming sanken seven stamp my tote” was the most renamed song on the album. most were different onomatopoeias for that first line
  • “message from our sponsor” made the cut to be on the CD by about 2 hours
  • “a prayer for the nation of africa” is not a complicated audio hack. the speaker really seemed to not have been clear on the difference between a continent and a country
  • despite being in almost every live show, this is the first time that Steve contributed audio to an album. he wrote some of the backing audio in “savannah” and “hate and rockets”
  • i think the only sampled statement in the history of the band that i genuinely can say “i agree with this entirely” is the opening alan moore line in “black block”: “Anarchy is, and always has been, a romance.”

where i make difficult to follow comparisons between things

So after seeing them live, Zoë Keating is the Paul Cézanne of classical cello, and Kaki King the Henri Rousseau of classical guitar.

Not perfect analogies, but the idea is there. Zoë understands classical music theory and that methodology, but rejects it in a conscious pursuit of what became called primitivism in painting (though i prefer Gauguin’s term ‘synthetism’). Her music is intentionally segmented, allowing for a greater tonal and stylistic contrast between the fragments, and these contrasts allow for the audio analogue to brighter colors than usually occurs in more traditional approaches. But it’s not a violent rejection, the classical is there in the background, but only as a launching board.

Kaki King on the other hand is to some degrees the outsider. She comes across as someone who is simply playing with toys, but who’s technical ability makes that playing a spectacle. She isn’t worried about showing the edges of her ability, and by exposing them they become a part of the performance, adding a more direct connection to the audience. Where Zoë is memorized, Kaki is always in part, if not wholly, improvised. It would be a disservice to call her music fauvist as it now implies almost an inability, but she isn’t afraid to step into harsher edges of tone and music when the performance takes her there.

Or at least that’s how a slight synaesthetic with slight apophenia sees it.

– –

must be a serious post, i used some capital letters.

hook and line neutrality

was working on mixes and watching angelica play ME2, and reading about net neutrality in the background. after about 2 hours of reading, i am of the conclusion that anyone who says they understand net neutrality is either (A) lying, or (B) lying to make money off of it one way or the other

i’d comment on it more, but frankly i’m not qualified to. instead, here’s some thoughts about Mass Effect 2:
1, the game, being a sequel, doesn’t do the “you lose all your items and powers, start over” crap. instead you start a world famous hero who saved the world, and have access to vast resources and near top of the line weaponry and armor. ditto your team. who also are heroes who saved the world and have achieved their own positions of power and greatness.

2, at no point does the game plot fall into the rut of “you need to find the 7 parts of the seal that ancient warriors used to block out the demon” type crap. even the most mundane side quests (aka, the loyalty missions) have better individual plots than most sci-fi books i read. it actually feels like watching hour long episodes of a good sci-fi tv series: each has it’s own complete plot

and yeah, the shooty parts can feel more like an on-rails headshot emulator than an FPS, but eh, it’s not supposed to be a shooter

picture unrelated


selling my VCM-100 djing soundcard. with the included software it’s literally everything you need to do a laptop dj set, pro style. $140

in other words, you get a left and right song, can switch between them using the hardware (like a dj mixer), it does speed synching, auto-synching, and has a separate headphone output for the cues. and it’s neat and metal. and i think has one sticker on the bottom or something.

i’m switching to all ipad. this will allow vinyl, cd, cdr, AND laptop djs to look down on me.