Satisfying an itch I’ve had for a while, I am working on migrating the back end of pilch.me from Known back to WordPress. I love Known, but this has been a long time coming. It’s probably my own fault for migrating 6 weeks before becoming a new dad (and taking on more at work), but I thought I would have more time to familiarize myself with the inner workings of the platform, to tinker and break things and fix them. I decidedly did not, so I’m heading back to the familiarity of WordPress.

When I initially migrated, Known had a lot of the Indieweb elements baked in (webmention, early micropub, post formats, etc), and the WP plugins lagged a bit behind. Now they are caught up, while Known development has slowed significantly. I feel a bit like part of the problem, since I’m not sticking with it. But I also do not currently have the time nor patience to figure out how to modify mySQL elements, or maintain URL rewrite rules and .htaccess files. I need to step back into a platform where I don’t have to worry about nuts and bolts, and customizing basic/intermediate elements is taken care of in a GUI.

I’m doing the migration manually, post by post. Known exported as RSS, and I was able to import that to start (WP’s built-in RSS importer threw errors, so I had to use this). This method created a lot of formatting issues with line feeds, lists, etc., which is why I am doing each post individually. This gives me a chance to review some old posts I forgot about, and also the ability to idly update posts during down time at work (the network there is extremely locked down, and would not allow external SSH/FTP connections).

The current WP install is at blog.pilch.me. I’ll probably keep the Known install, and figure out a subdomain for that when I am ready to switch the two.

In the meantime, back to your regularly scheduled children’s television and Deadpool action figure content.

The little man is starting to have strong opinions about what we play and read and listen to and watch. And while I have been able to steer his tastes in the past, he has started making his own picks too.

Sometimes I can steer those as well; he likes the newest Thor and Spider-Man movies, and we got him a 12-inch tall Hulk action figure that he treats like a baby doll.

Sometimes he misses big. He found and made us watch a Netflix show that appears to be just a GoPro mounted on the front of a passenger train through Norway. It is 7 hours long.

But his most recent pick is a winner. It’s called Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir, and it is basically a French CG mix of Sailor Moon and Spider-Man. It has the odd rhythm of a dubbed show, and he loves the repetitious transformation sequences. I appreciate a show like this being given some production value, and we can’t wait to start season 2 which dropped this week.

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Being a parent is scary. Starting from essentially a blank slate, you are required to take a new human life, keep it alive, and teach it to function in society. Before #fatherhood, I never considered the now-daunting concept of teaching someone with a 50-75 word vocabulary how to use a toilet.

But there is a reason people do it, outside of Darwinian survival. That fear and self-doubt is the entry fee for some of the most rewarding experiences I can think of. Kids pick up things you don’t, or that you demonstrate unintentionally. And they know what they like, and form these opinions far earlier than I initially expected.

So when our toddler asked unprompted to play “my house” during dinner, my heart exploded with joy. Usually, song requests in our house involve wheels on buses, or rain going away, or some variation on a standard that stars Elmo. But during our drive-time commute dance parties, I control the radio. And I understood immediately that this request was for Daft Punk Is Playing At My House, the first track from the eponymous debut of LCD Soundsystem. The seed is now taking root.

So I want to thank James Murphy for teaching my son how to say the following words and phrases:

  • huh-OW-OW! (the open)
  • my house
  • ropes
  • cases
  • garage
  • set them up (ooo ooo ye-ah)
  • SOLO!
  • let them go!
  • DOWN-TOWN

If you would like to celebrate with me, here is a link to the album version:

I risk a todder fit if I switch it up, but I prefer the live cut:

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What a year it has been. Personally, 2016 was pretty good. Our child is now walking and talking constantly, mostly about Thomas the Tank Engine1. Some of my brothers got married (one literal, two figurative). I developed a fairly consistent note-taking habit, first with Workflowy and then with some Field Notes. Probably worth its own post at a later date.

Having a toddler means I don’t get out as much as I used to, so my Official Dad Best-Of–2016 awards go to Deadpool, the new Ghostbusters, and the newest season of The Venture Brothers. Rogue One was also pretty good.

The Rest Of The World

Professionally, and for the world in general, it has been a goddamn nightmare.

Here’s my list of (mostly terrible) things that happened, month by month, with some good tweets for flavor. I’ll try to avoid the elephant in the room.2

And I’m pretty sure nothing else happened. May we all take these lessons into the next year, lest history repeats.


  1. There is no fairer tyrannical ruler than Sir Topham Hatt. Also, how is the Man In The Yellow Hat not broke? Ten seasons and 4 movies later, Curious George should have put him in the poor house.  ↩

  2. via GIPHY ↩
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Congratulations, President-Elect, and best of luck in your two (2) court dates before your inauguration.

Congratulations to white people. You have proven your point, and we must all live with the consequences. I believe it was Maya Angelou that said “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

Condolences to Secretary Clinton on a hard fought campaign. I have never respected the cost of wanting to use a single phone for personal and work emails until now.

Shout out to the electoral college for exposing our expertly rigged system, identified by the GOP president-elect. I bet this is one of the first things he addresses when taking office.

Shout out to Antonin Scalia for gutting the Voting Rights Act and then dying, steering the boat towards and then tripling the size of the iceberg. I’m sure the Honorable Peter Thiel will keep your legacy alive for the next 275 years before dying of vampire-related causes.

(Related: Shout out to the 46.9% of the electorate that could not find a way to show up to the polls.)

Congratulations to our future presidential cabinet. Chris “Bridges” Christie. Newt “Moon Base” Gingrich. Rudy “I forgot 9/11 even though it’s kind of my thing” Guiliani. I am sure you all will have our best interests in mind.

Apologies to folks who are not straight white men, whom this will affect disproportionately, as it always has. I will try to be here for you, but if it is too much, I hear Vancouver is lovely.

Shout out to the Chicago Cubs, for siphoning off the extremely limited supply of karma for the year 2016, and taking an advance on the next 4 years.

As always, all glory to Mother Russia.

Let the self-fulfilling prophecy be fulfilled. America has signaled to itself and the entire world that we are not exceptional, and are no longer great. Time to get to work.

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So you want to learn more about the encryption debate.1 Well, take a knee, gang, its #storytime.

Flash back 10 years ago. No one gave a shit about cybersecurity unless you were in China or a ghostwritten Tom Clancy novel. Then, as people started using networked services in more places, the information leaks began. It was still not an issue for the government (particularly, law enforcement), because useful data was just as accessible to them as it was to nefarious agents, like hackers or Facebook.

In 2013, the Snowden leaks began to paint a picture of just how much our own security agencies relied on cybersecurity weakness in their day-to-day operations. Snowden had trouble finding a journalist who could figure out how to use PGP to read his heavily encrypted messages to disseminate this information.

The leaked information made Silicon Valley companies very angry. So they began to encrypt transmissions between their data centers, as well as building it into their email, messaging, and mobile operating systems.

Now, encryption is just lots of math. Ever watch a movie about code breakers in WWII? Encryption. The only difference now is that common computers can do a lot more math in a short amount of time. But before this point, it was never viewed as particularly important to consumer software.

Think of it this way. In the same way that a gun is an offensive weapon, encryption is a defensive weapon. It protects your information from prying eyes, whomever that may be.

So now law enforcement has a problem. This technology is widely available, even to enemies of the state. Their proposed solution is to break it. Or to put it in their words, make it work for some and not for others. Kind of like how if you point a gun at something or someone you like, it will not fire. Because it only works in certain situations.

This is obviously a farce. As the old argument goes, if we outlaw guns, only law breakers will have guns. Since enemies of the state are not likely to stop using encrypted communication if it is outlawed, the only people without it will be law-abiding citizens. Effectively the exact opposite of the stated goal.

Remember this when some idiot presidential candidate2 tries to tell you how encryption is bad because terrorists are bad. The only benefit of outlawing encryption is to spy on you.


  1. I know there is a new John Oliver monologue about this. I haven’t seen it. I hope he makes some of these points better than me.

  2. via GIPHY
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I am a dad and have no time for non-dad-related things anymore. So my year in review, which I produce purely for my own leisure and amusement, is several weeks later than usual (see previous years). As such, it includes one week from 2016, which will then be excluded from next year’s review, if I remember.1

From what I heard of the outside world, 2015 was mostly a shitshow. But Dad Land has been good to me. So in the spirit of Chris Lacy’s …Of The Year posts, I present 2015 Of The Year.

Continue reading

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(This was meant to be a brief reply to this post, but it ballooned into a post all its own.)

Open source automotive software makes sense on paper. I am all for it, even though it would obviate my employment as a test engineer for an automotive supplier. So let me tell you why it won’t happen.

  1. Automotive manufacturers do not understand open source. They only see the liability, not the potential. If anything happens in the field requiring a recall, they are on the hook anyway. So they assume they should control the whole process and develop everything themselves from scratch. I’m not entirely sure some of them understand software itself, as evidenced by John Deere presuming ownership over the software in their tractors.
  2. Who would test this open source software (besides the manufacturer)? With web software, you can spin up a remote server on a cheap laptop and you are off and running, in relatively little time, at low cost. With automotive software, the platform costs are at least 5 figures, not to mention the specialized tools to upgrade the software of the various components. It is a much larger barrier to entry for third-party testing.

Again, I agree in principle that it would be a good idea. But it will never happen unless lawmakers force it to, and they do not have a great sense of open source software either. Of course, it will be interesting to see if traditional software companies (Google and Apple) will bring this mentality whey they enter the space in a few years time.

Dear Cheryl1 (my NSA angel),

Hi there. I have been reading (but you knew that) about the latest cycle of ad blocking, and how it will be the end of advertising/journalism/the internet as we know it2. It is fun to remember how pop-up blocking was also the end of internet advertising as we knew it!

Anyways, my favorite piece to come out of all this is a talk transcript by the head of Pinboard.3 I encourage you to read it yourself, but here are some choice pull-quotes.

On ad morals:

The ad networks’ name for this robotic deception is ‘ad fraud’ or ‘click fraud’. (Advertisers like to use moralizing language when their money starts to flow in the wrong direction. Tricking people into watching ads is good; being tricked into showing ads to automated traffic is evil.)

On regulation:

When I flew over to give this talk, I wasn’t worried about my plane falling out of the sky. Eighty years of effective technical regulation (and massive penalties for fraud) have made commercial aviation the safest form of transportation in the world.

On smart refrigerators:

Samsung recently got in hot water with their smart refrigerator. Because it failed to validate SSL certificates, the fridge would leak your Gmail credentials (used by its little calendar) to anyone who asked it. All I wanted was some ice, and instead my email got hacked.

On living in San Francisco:

You wouldn’t hire a gardener whose houseplants were all dead. But we expect that people will trust us to reinvent their world with software even though we can’t make our own city livable.

Seriously, it is ten minutes of reading well spent.

Have a great day,
Craig


  1. The NSA is an equal oportunity employer.
  2. Here is the same guy from that editorial (he is EIC, btw), two months earlier, lamenting the terrible mobile web user experience, which is almost entirely caused by ads and trackers.
  3. My least favorite piece was Marco Arment’s, who, after proclaiming ad blockers the future and creating the most popular one on iOS, probably found out it was blocking ads on his own site.
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Dear Ernesto (my NSA angel),

We haven’t chatted (directly) in a while. How are things? Last I heard, you had the director of the FBI complaining about encryption making his job harder. Have you guys found the abominable Snowden1 yet?

Anyways, I am writing you today about the NSA’s Foxboro branch. I did enjoy the shitting the bed in court last week over Ballghazi2, but this lends the internal power struggle some context. But what do I know, I am probably just a “butthurt Colts fan.”

Also, it is hilarious that even after all this comes to light, they are still jamming signals in opposing teams’ headsets. Did you guys give them the tip to use their own game broadcast? I bet your style is more classic-rock-Van-Halen-Not-Van-Haggar signal interference.

Take it sleazy,

Craig


  1. HBO found him. Maybe you should talk to them.  ↩
  2. This is not Deflategate. That is a terrible name. It is Ballghazi.  ↩
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