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August 24th, 2008

So this is it.

I think I am going to get rid of my LiveJournal or at least abandon it once and for all. It just doesn't feel like an essential part of my life anymore. Most of my updates are just news snippets or one-liners and, when I do post something relevant to my personal life, it falls flat because I'm not a very good writer and I feel like I'm not engaging anyone.

I did an experiment, recently. For one month, I didn't make a single post on LiveJournal. I didn't pull it up in my browser and I didn't check my Friends Page. I even removed the LiveJournal icon from my Bookmarks Toolbar Folder so I wouldn't be tempted to check it. After the month was over, I logged back in and viewed my Friends Page to see what you all had been up to and made a little post about the Gmail vulnerability and my trip to Defcon and really concentrated on how it made me feel to be back on the site. And, as much as I care about all of you, I just don't feel connected to the site anymore.

Also, the more I learn about Internet security, the less I want my life to be on the Internet.

Maybe I'll feel differently about this later on. But, for the time being, I think this is goodbye.

August 19th, 2008

"A tool that automatically steals IDs of non-encrypted sessions and breaks into Google Mail accounts has been presented at the Defcon hackers’ conference in Las Vegas.

Last week Google introduced a new feature in Gmail that allows users to permanently switch on SSL and use it for every action involving Gmail, and not only, authentication. Users who did not turn it on now have a serious reason to do so as Mike Perry, the reverse engineer from San Francisco who developed the tool is planning to release it in two weeks."

Source: http://www.hungry-hackers.com/2008/08/gmail-account-hacking-tool.html

In related news, I went to Defcon this year. It was great, despite the fact that I lost days of sleep trying to find a new apartment because my landlord defaulted on his bank loan and I was subsequently evicted. Two days after finding my dream apartment and moving all my stuff into it, I was whisked away to Vegas for a week of non-stop lectures, classes and demonstrations. Sleep? NON.

Also, http://www.asofterworld.com/index.php?id=333

July 4th, 2008

The trailer is finally out: http://www.apple.com/trailers/fox/thedaytheearthstoodstill/

June 29th, 2008


I enjoy cleaning my apartment and doing laundry every Saturday. It's cathartic. All of my chores are finished and it feels nice to sit in a clean space.

Recently, I switched from coffee to tea. My blood pressure is lower, my sleep patterns are returning to normal and I'm not as dehydrated so I have fewer headaches. I'm starting with Earl Grey which makes me feel a bit like Jean-Luc Picard, captain of the Starship Enterprise (NCC-1701-D).

It was my friend John's birthday this weekend. I went to the comic shop and bought him the Dungeons & Dragons Miniatures game on a whim. After reading the packaging and discovering that it was a 2-player, standalone simulation of the 4E combat system, I had to buy one for myself. It was 15 bucks and totally worth it. I cleaned off my sewing table in the living room and laid out one of the maps and started playing right out of the box. Even for just one person to play both sides, it is immense fun (not to mention, educational). I have decided that the Dungeons & Dragons Miniatures game is the perfect recruitment tool for anyone with reproaches about the 4E system and will have it within reach for just that purpose.

Sarah and I saw Wanted, Saturday night. It was really bad but we had a good time watching. Fight Club was a much better ordinary-life-turned-upside-down and discovery-of-inner-strength story.

I have a 1-on-1 review with my Team Lead this week. I am nervous because I don't know what to expect.

June 27th, 2008

The general concerns of all people elude public opinion and are therefore the domain of elite, specialized classes. This is the opposite of democracy, where rationality belongs to the cool observer. However, the common man follows faith instead of reason so he requires necessary illusions and emotionally potent oversimplifications.

Cheering for a sports team is a simple way of building up irrational attitudes of submission to authority.

There are 23 companies which own everything.


I am signed up for Mystery Box at Defcon. This is going to be a great vacation.

The official X-Files theatrical trailer is out and, I have to say, Gillian Anderson's hair looks fabulous.

June 25th, 2008

To begin, I suppose this is a good thing. And I am not in any kind of trouble.

My apartment complex put a note on my door today explaining that my unit was up for foreclosure at the end of July. Nervously, I called them for clarification. You see, I have been going month-to-month on my rent for the last 8 months and I thought this related to that fact. Fortunately, they told me it has nothing to do with that.

Apparently, my unit was sold as a legitimate condominium to a property-buyer (totally legal) last year and then he couldn't pay the bank so they seized the property from him. My complex was notified by the buyer and they contacted me. They can move me into a unit that belongs to them at no cost and I will not have to pay rent for July because the bank isn't charging rent and the complex wants me to stay with them. HOWEVER! I would rather move into Central Austin if I can snag property quick enough.

Does anyone know, and can explain to me, if there are other opportunities I should make in this situation?

June 20th, 2008

Android UI looks amazing


June 19th, 2008

The Happening

...gets an award for Most Frightening Imagery In A Science Fiction Drama. Without giving anything away, I thought it was a shocking movie about people and their place in the world. The quality of acting among the leads was, unfortunately, just poor and the film's message was practically shoved down your throat. But the crafting of its villain had me captivated and the violence, albeit a new frontier for Shyamalan, was well-executed (pardon the pun).

The latest trend in Hollywood and abroad is holding M. Night Shyamalan to such a high standard that he couldn't possibly exceed the audience's expectations. Doing this ensures that we all feel a little smarter after seeing one of his movies, as though we were simply handed a set of criticisms with which to tear it apart. This is because, at their core, the M. Night movies are honest. From the trailers, they promise to be lugubrious and hokey but fun and well-crafted. And that's exactly what we get.

Don't get me wrong, Signs was terrible (and, just for the record, it's the only one of his movies that I didn't like). But my judgment of its content was based on the talent I've already seen from M. Night. It was obviously not his best.

Trust me, applying the M Night canon ensures a great viewing experience for all.

June 14th, 2008

Putting it all together

I spent the better part of last night reading the D&D 3.5 and 4th Edition Players Handbooks, analyzing them and judiciously scribing notes until I felt confident I really understood them. I don't ever put this much work into my casual hobbies but I feel compelled to codify them in a way that is comprehensive and illustrative of their differences. Also, I'm getting tired of not having accessible reference material.


3.5 Edition 4th Edition
  • Lawful|Neutral|Chaotic

  • Good|Evil

    (Pick two)
  • Good
  • Evil
  • Lawful Good
  • Chaotic Evil
  • Neutral

    (Pick one)

This is one of the areas of 4th Edition where I don't think they made any improvement. This doesn't do anything for character development. Also, its moral implications are clown-shoes. A good DM will just ignore the new Aligment system.


3.5 Edition 4th Edition
Humans, Halflings, Elves, Half-Elves, Dwarves, Gnomes, Orcs Humans, Halflings, Elves, Half-Elves, Dwarves, Dragonborn, Eladrin and Tiefling
(Additional races are promised in future Player's Handbooks)
Plus or minus 2 points to Ability scores Minor Ability adjustments (still only plus or minus 2 points in each category)


3.5 Edition 4th Edition
Cleric, Fighter, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Wizard, Barbarian, Druid, Monk and Sorcerer Cleric, Fighter, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Wizard, Warlock and Warlord
  • No level-naming convention until Epic for which you have to buy an additional book.
  • The number of available spells increase as the class level increases.
  • Introduction of Paragon Paths which begin at level 10 and define a series of newly available Powers.
  • Epic has been reworded as Epic Destinies for the purpose of continuity with the naming convention.
  • The number of available spells decreases as the class level increases. However, higher-level spells are more powerful(ie. 4d6, 3d8)

    The 4th Edition Players Handbook only includes classes in the category of "Arcane, Divine and Martial Heroes". The 4th Edition Players Handbook 2 will contain "Primal (Druid, Shaman and Barbarian), Psionic (Psion) and Shadow (Monk, Illusionist and Necromancer)"

    Power System:

    3.5 Edition 4th Edition
    • No cohesive power system. Spells are explicitly defined in the Spell chapter. Abilities are illimitable.
    • 3.5 casters get weaker and less useful every time they cast a spell, resulting in the entire party needing to stop and camp just to get their magic back.
      If the party had an early morning encounter that was intense enough, the caster would spend the rest of the day "empty" and pretty much useless.
    Introduction of the Power System (0th level spells are referred to as "class features" -- good idea there):

    • At-Will: Do these as many times as you like.
    • 1/Encounter: Only available once per encounter (Think of it like adrenaline-induced power)
    • 1/Day: So exhausting to produce, they can only be performed once per day.

    • Characters have powers that can be used once per encounter. No matter how many encounters your spell caster has in a day, they will have something to contribute.


    3.5 Edition 4th Edition
    • Standard action
    • Move action
    • Free actions

      Base Attack Bonus is given on your player table
    • Standard action
    • Move action
    • Minor action
    • Free actions

    • Base Attack Bonus is half your level, rounded down, to pretty much anything you do (as well as to many stats, like your AC). The advantage of this is twofold - it's easy to remember and it always scales.
    • All attacks are now attacks. The character will roll a die, add their modifiers up and try to hit a defense number. This streamlines combat spells since, instead of a saving throw, you will have a passive defense number that your opponents will try to beat. One roll, from the attacker - always. This kind of symmetry will allow players to better remember what to do. I'm a target, I do nothing. I'm attacking, I roll.


    3.5 Edition 4th Edition
    • Skill points are chosen through a formula based on your Intelligence modifier and character Class. These points are applied to a Rank in a skill of choice, trained or untrained.
    • A different formula is applied every level thereafter, giving the character more skill points to designate.
    • Four skills chosen at first level.
    • Skill Training feat required for cross-classing.
    • Feats provide certain additional skills.
    • Skills increase as level increases depending on the correlative Ability Modifier.

    3.5 Edition 4th Edition
    Knowledge _________ History
    Sense Motive Insight
    Craft __________, Spellcraft, Use Magic Device Arcana
    Move Silently, Hide Stealth
    Disable Device Dungeoneering
    Forgery, Slight of Hand, Disguise, Open Lock Thievery
    Spot, Listen Perception
    Handle animal, Survival Survival
    Gather Information, Appraise, Decipher Script no equivalent
    Endurance (feat) Endurance (skill), Street Wise
    Diplomacy Diplomacy
    Intimidate Intimidate


    3.5 Edition 4th Edition
    Each character gets one feat upon creation, at 3rd level and every three levels thereafter. Each character gets one feat upon creation, at every even-numbered level and at 11th and 21st levels.

    The names of about half the available Feats have been changed in 4E but represent a consolidation of multiple Feats from 3.5

    I think you should all congratulate me for rediscovering tables and implementing them so effectively. Also, I'm tired, so I'm going to bed now.

    Um, don't kill me but

    A part of me really wants to see this movie: http://www.apple.com/trailers/sony_pictures/thehousebunny/

    Probably the gay part.
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