#VegasStrong

It all started with one nutjob with an army’s worth of guns in a hotel suite.

In those moments there was panic amongst the crowds at the concert venue.  Those of us outdoors around the Mandalay Bay were completely confused.  Were those fireworks? Was that fake gunfire from some nearby filming or show?

The sound of fully automatic gunfire just kept coming.  Nobody knew whether to go inside or stay outside.  Even the police had no idea.  Some officers were running around with guns drawn, shotguns in their hand.  Initially all I could do was stand there at the Bus Lobby on the south side of the hotel.  Just five minutes previously I was walking down Las Vegas Blvd. across from the concert venue without a care in the world.

But that fear… that feeling of helplessness and chaos… I felt in those moments is not what I’m going to carry with me going forward.  Because what I saw in the minutes and hours that followed was nothing short of amazing.  What I saw was an entire major American city pull up its pants and start getting back to work and making sure everybody was safe.

A small cluster of us wound up outside the McDonald’s across the street from the Mandalay.  We were outside on the patio, still unsure of exactly what we just saw and experienced.  We were sharing information as we knew it.  We watched every police officer within 50 miles speed north on the Boulevard towards Tropicana Ave, which became the defacto incident center. And we stayed there until the police told us to start walking, and keep walking, south as far as we can go.

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Running CIS benchmarks tools is no substitute for knowing what you are doing…

Ran into an interesting item today at work.

My employer, as a matter of standard security practices, runs CIS “benchmarks” against potential machines.  Generally, I find the CIS benchmarks to be “just okay”, in that they tend to catch stupid shit and is a good bare minimum to start working from.

But it is a pretty sorry substitute for having a sysadmin who knows what the fuck they are doing, security wise.

I ran into this in action today.  Specifically, in CIS 5.2.15.  This little gem considers if your SSH server process is configured in such a way as it is not “so loose its brains fall out” by requiring a sensible configuration of the /etc/ssh/sshd_config file,  By sensible, the implications is that you don’t leave “root” and similar logins enabled over SSH.  Perfectly sensible.

But HOW it checks for compliance on this one is the gasser.  I’ll quote chapter and verse:

Think about that for a minute.

So you could have your file have a stupid line like “AllowUsers: root” and it would pass.

BRILLIANT.

 

 

Somebody kill Slashdot and put it out of misery.

Have you been to the venerable Slashdot lately?  I haven’t, and apparently I’ve missed out on a lot.

There was a time that Slashdot was the “go-to” site for somewhat intelligent conversation on geeky topics.  This was back in the early days of the Internet, when men were men and wrote their own device drivers.  I would start my day powering up my serial terminal connected to my Linux machine and use a text-based web browser to read it.  It was great back then.

All I have to say now is.. what. the. actual fuck.

Today this is what it looks like:

I’m not kidding.  This is what it looks like today.  Nothing but ads on the whole screen.

Slashdot used to be “news for nerds, stuff that matters.”  Today it’s “ads for nerds, nothing that matters.”

Sometimes a classic website can do worse than dying.  It can become a worthless platform just because of monitization and owners who stopped giving two fucks about the community they serve.  Goodbye, Slashdot.  May Reddit not stab you too hard.

It is paradoxical, yet true, to say, that the more we know, the more ignorant we become in the absolute sense, for it is only through enlightenment that we become conscious of our limitations. Precisely one of the most gratifying results of intellectual evolution is the continuous opening up of new and greater prospects.

-Nikola Tesla

Foot hurt…

So, yesterday I went to the emergency room again, this time because my foot is killing me. It hurts pretty bad to walk: so bad that I’m avoiding it at all costs right now.

They ran a bunch of tests, did an X-ray, and nothing stood out. They think it might be some kind of infection. Antibiotics were prescribed.

So, if I seem like I’m not too “up” on going places over the next week (or however long this takes to resolve) that’s why..

Live365 (“Adventures of Feedle’s INBOX!”)

In yesterday’s inbox, I find:

Hello Archturiat,

Earlier this year I purchased Live365 with the hopes of growing it into something great, but I’ll need help from stations like yours. The Live365 team has just started bringing stations back on the air and already have over 100 stations, but to realize our vision, we’re going to need many more.

Every day, we’re working on making Live365 a stronger platform for our stations to share their content. We’ve improved the previous streaming infrastructure to make streaming more reliable and allow our stations to use higher quality audio. We’ve built Auto DJ automation to make sure that if you don’t have something scheduled, your station doesn’t have dead air, and we’re always listening to feedback from our broadcasters to improve the Live365 experience. We’re in this together.

Join Us Today

I believe in the future of curated broadcast. Content chosen and scheduled by a real person. We know you have a powerful message to share and we want you to share it through Live365. We’d love to have you join us and if you’re not ready, let us know what we need to do to make that happen.

-Jon at Live365

Now, as I’m sure more than one of you know, I ran a station on Live365 for quite a while, almost from the beginnings of the platform.  I had heard through the grapevine that they had been resurrected from the dead sometime in the last six months, and I was happy to see the “new owner(s)” reaching out to the people that had accounts on the platform and try to get them back involved.

What I wasn’t happy about was the fact that the “new” Live365 has no pricing tier that’s even remotely approachable for someone broadcasting as a hobby, and that the cheapest package was around $60.  Now, it’s worth noting that tier is comparable to the “old” Live365’s $50 tier, and given the increase (and overall bullshit) involving the licensing situation that’s not surprising, really.

But this does mark a completely new direction for Live365, one that does not help the situation for small broadcasters at all.  Live365 used to be littered with small operations, some good some bad, but many were voices and programming you just didn’t hear anywhere else.  For better, or for worse.  Now, the barrier for entry is $60/month, minimum (not to mention the time and energy to create programming, even if all you are doing is uploading music to be spun out of Live365’s servers).

That’s steep for a broadcast operation (like The Voice of Mercury on Live365) that never had more than 5 TLH/day and usually no more than 3 or 4 concurrent listeners… even at its peak 6 years ago.  I could easily justify $20-25 a month, and the occasional music splurge, on that.  But $60 is JUST TOO DAMN HIGH.

Now, I’ve been talking with a few of you about biting the bullet and going ahead and paying for it anyway, and divvying up timeslots to others in exchange for helping out with the bill.  And I still want to do that, and it is on my list of things to do this summer.

But at the same time its hard to imagine that the “new” Live365 platform will even last long at that.  The pricing tier doesn’t seem fair or equitable for small-time broadcasters, many of whom (present company included) have been content to be “underground” and/or “closed-circuit” since Live365’s original demise.  It’s always been simply a “hobby” ever since my teenage days of NEEON-19 and the like.  Yes, it has been fun, but $60 buys admission to a decent amusement park for a day, and I’d rather be on a barf-coaster quite honestly.

But here we are.

So, who wants to (re-)start a radio station?

1 of 2: The Hardest Things to Have Ever Written…

This is the first of two articles that are completely disconnected from each other, but they’ve both been brewing for quite some time over the last month, so here they are…

She’s gone.

I’ve never been so sure of how it feels to lose somebody, and believe me I’ve felt it a lot. That hole inside of you where that person used to fit suddenly has no way of being patched, short of you completely disconnecting from everything that person was and meant to you. And you desperately don’t wan to disconnect, so much as the wound in your soul hurts.

But a very good friend, and somebody I would have liked to have had in my life for an eternity, is gone. I don’t know if she actually died or not, but it feels like she did. Her Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages hadn’t been updated in months, and recently was deleted. All channels are quiet. I can only assume the worst.

It didn’t help that you were sick and nobody believed you. I had my doubts at times, but I listened to you cry and took you at your word, I felt your pain, and I tried to be there for you as best I could. I knew when I visited Oregon late last year and spent the long hours driving to-and-from Eugene and Portland that this may be there last time I will see you in this incarnation.

And this is one time in my life I actually wish that someone had lied to me, had lead me down a rabbit hole without the benefit of a basket full of chocolate.

But all her direct lines of communication are gone, and given she was on full-time oxygen and obviously unwell I’m left to conclude that… she’s gone.


I met her as an Asatru Priestess.. excuse the expression, but as an Assaholu.  But she was the first member of that particular path of paganism that I felt really understood completely what she was following, why she was following it, and genuinely “believed” in the letter of her path.  If my situation had been better I would have followed her as a student and learned that path under your teachings.

Later, she starte following a Christian path, and while I don’t totally understand the spiritual shift that took place I can certainly understand if the “reception” she got from the local pagan community (and especially certain members of Eugene CUUPS) would have kept her from considering joining Eugene Unitarian as a JesUUs or even as a non-parochial pagan or freethinker.

I miss our long talks about spiritual things.  I miss our explorations of Eugene on random drives.  I miss the Ingress stuff we used to do.  But mostly I miss you.

So, whether or not she is actually alive, the person I knew is gone.  And I mourn for her passing, whether she’s in Heaven, Valhalla, or even still on this planet walking around.

Godspeed, Vyronika.

Today’s pet peeve…

Goddammit.

So I’m playing with a lot of .. well, what can best be described as “Web 3.0” technologies: things like Chef, Docker, etc., and they all have one annoying thing in common.

See, the “old UNIX way” traditionally dictates that programs “succeed quietly, fail noisily”. That is, they print nothing on success, and an error message with a description of the error (preferably machine parsable, if you don’t set the error level to a specific number for a specific error, ie: the famous 404 error).

Now, in comes these new kids on the block. They consistently write programs that fail silently. WTF? When I type a “command do something” and I typo it, what good does it do to fail quietly? What good is systemd scripts that insist on telling me “ok, pid 591” rather than just quietly writing the pid to a file in /tmp or something?

Quiet succeed, noisy fail is still important. Most of the basic startup routines (even today, under systemd) are bash scripts. And the user doesn’t need a screenful of [OK} STARTING PROCESS.. just print the ones that fail so we can SEE THE DAMN THING rather than having to (hopefully) catch the error message on startup.

Stop it, kids. We designed UNIX for a reason. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature, and I’ll keep pounding the pulpit with this. Read about the UNIX Philosophy before you change things. Understand that UNIX’s strength was its simplicity: it was created with tools that did exactly one thing, and did it well.