17 June 2015

The OPM “hack” and related matters

As government officials answered questions about the recent Office of Personnel Management data breach, former and current congressional staffers processed the notices they are receiving from the agency that they, too, were affected by the breach. A consultant who did some work with a company contracted by OPM to manage personnel records for a number of agencies told Ars that he found the Unix systems administrator for the project “was in Argentina and his co-worker was physically located in the [People’s Republic of China]. ... Read more

16 June 2015

Rachel Dolezal

So, about that whole Rachel Dolezal thing… 1. Her parents were quoted as saying “Our daughter is primarily German and Czech and of European descent.” They themselves have white skin, and they have photos of her showing that she had white skin. Well, that proves nothing. Craig Cobb also looked totally caucasian, and was a white supremacist too — but hilariously, it turned out he was 14 percent African heritage. ... Read more

11 June 2015

Of fascism and functional programming

There’s been a fuss in some circles about the fact that Curtis Yarvin was uninvited from a tech conference after the organizers learned of his political views, which he publishes under the pen name “Mencius Moldbug”. I don’t particularly want to discuss his political views or whether he should be invited to speak at conferences; rather, I want to point out something I haven’t seen anyone else point out. But before I get to that, I feel like I should provide a little background for those who have been lucky enough not to encounter the “Moldbug” oeuvre. ... Read more

8 June 2015

Of logs and time zones and systemd

Back in 2005 I wrote about syslog brokenness — specifically, the fact that each entry is logged in local time zone, but with no indication of what that time zone was at the moment the message was logged. Because time zones change, this means there are periods of time every year where log messages are ambiguous. If your logging device moves across time zones, the problem is even worse, and sure enough, the problem has finally affected a real life case: we don’t know what happened just before the Amtrak 188 train derailed, because the timestamps on assorted logs were ambiguous. ... Read more

21 May 2015

Video games and spatial learning

« The research, published in a Royal Society journal on Wednesday, found that people who played games such as Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto V and Tomb Raider were more likely to employ navigational strategies associated with decreased grey matter in the hippocampus part of the brain. […] By questioning the participants, the researchers examined whether they tackled the virtual reality task using a spatial or response learning strategy. A spatial strategy involves building relationships between landmarks in an environment and relies on the hippocampus. ... Read more

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