Blog Fiasco

June 24, 2011

mmtter: a front end for TTYtter

Filed under: The Internet — Tags: , , — bcotton @ 3:18 pm

If you know much about my Twitter habits, you know I’m a bit fan of Cameron Kaiser’s TTYtter. I’ve written in the past about using it to follow event streams, but one limitation was that it was hard to consistently tweet event messages. For example, when you send a tweet from a UStream feed, it includes the feed’s hashtag and a URL to the stream. This is a great way to lure in viewers.

Since TTYtter has easy support for posting messages from the command line, I figured it would be an easy task to write a wrapper that would automatically include the relevant information so that I wouldn’t have to copy/paste every time. The result is mmtter, a small Perl script to pass the arguments to TTYtter. So far, it just checks to make sure the tweet is short enough and then mashes the text onto the end. Since it blindly grabs the arguments from the shell, you have to carefully escape special characters. Future “enhancements” will include the ability to prepend a string. In the meantime, you can get it from GitHub: http://www.github.com/funnelfiasco/mmtter

While you’re enjoying my minutes of hard work, be sure to watch the Mario Marathon and donate using the happy little button on the right-hand side of this page.

June 21, 2011

Making secure passwords

Filed under: The Internet — Tags: , — bcotton @ 1:18 pm

A recent ZDNet article claimed that GPU computing has rendered even the most secure passwords dangerously crackable. It’s true that passwords developed using the conventional wisdom are subject to more easy brute-forcing, but that doesn’t mean all hope is to be abandoned. The tradeoff is normally between complexity/length and memorability, but in a “Security Now” episode earlier this month, Steve Gibson tossed that tradeoff out the window. His idea: burying your password in a haystack. The general idea is this: if your password is “r4Nd0mBunn1es”, you can make it less crackable by doing something like “/\/\/\/\r4NdomBunn1es/\/\/\/\” or “—r4ndom*****Bunn1es+++” or some other method of padding extra characters.

Even if you use the same pattern every time, so long as the password needle is different, the overall password will be very difficult to crack. So if the password is so difficult, why use a different needle for each site? Because you can’t trust the site to do the right thing. As recent attacks against Sony and other sites have shown, some sites still store passwords in plain text. At least with the password haystack, you can remember shorter passwords and apply the appropriate pattern to fill them out.

I’ve not been as quick to react to this as I perhaps should be. Admittedly, I reuse my throwaway passwords a lot, and so I’m taking advantage of this opportunity to fix this glitch. I’ll probably just create jibberish ones and save them in KeePassX.

June 19, 2011

My baby will never know this

Filed under: Musings — bcotton @ 8:45 pm

Every so often, a reporter or blogger will be out of ideas and write about the ways technology is changing everything we ever knew ever. Back in December, the Huffington post ran an article about things that have become obsolete this decade. Since my daughter has only been on this planet a couple of weeks, she knows nothing about anything listed in that article, but will she when she grows up?

I’m always amused by these sorts of articles. Predicting the future is hard, and it’s easy to declare something dead prematurely, as Netcraft can confirm. Of course, I’m a bit cheap always and old-fashioned sometimes, so maybe I’m not representative. Just because I don’t feel like replacing my working VHS tapes that doesn’t mean anyone else will hang on to theirs. It will be interesting to see what survives into my daughter’s early adulthood. I don’t think I’ll feel old, though, until I read the Beloit College mindset list for her class. That’s when I’ll realize how much the world around me has changed.

June 14, 2011

Mario Marathon 4 coming soon

Filed under: Funnel Fiasco,The Internet — Tags: , — bcotton @ 9:11 am

Even though Brian announced last year that Mario Marathon 3 would be the close of the trilogy, a fourth chapter is about to be written. Mario Marathon 4 begins on June 24 at 11 AM EDT (1500 UTC) and it sounds like this one may be the best yet. Certainly the funds being raised for Child’s Play Charity may be the highest in Mario Marathon history, as the total is already above $6300 more than a week before the start of the event. There are more contests this year, and a great collection of fun surprises.

If “Mario Marathon” is new to you, then you’re in for a treat. The basic premise is that a group of people play video games while people watch on the Internet. It sounds terribly boring, but it’s actually one of the more addictive things I’ve been a part of. The money raised goes directly to a charity that provides games, books, toys, etc to children in hospitals around the world.

Since Baby Fiasco has recently joined us, I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to participate in this year’s event. And ever since Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day snubbed me by not following me on Twitter, I may have to reconsider my celebrity interviews. In the meantime, I’ve added a donation widget to the blog, as well as to the Funnel Fiasco main page and the Funnel Fiasco weather page. You can click the “donate” button to send your contribution directly to Child’s Play.

For more information on Mario Marathon 4, see www.mariomarathon.com.

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