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    Wednesday, April 16th, 2014
    philg 2:42a
    Passover Tax Day thoughts

    Why is this Passover different from most others? The first day coincides with Tax Day for Americans. Jews remember the bitter hardship and forced labor of slavery in Egypt. Scholars, however, can find no evidence of modern era-style slavery (or of Jews residing in or escaping from in Egypt). As for the pyramids there are records of payments to laborers, typically farmers who had nothing else to do at certain times of year. A “slave” in ancient Egypt may simply have been a person subject to a 20% tax that free Egyptians did not pay.

    [To the children at last night's Seder I pointed out that "the plagues visited upon the Egyptians were so bad that their civilization lasted only about 2000 more years."]

    Tuesday, April 15th, 2014
    linuxjournalmx 7:28p
    Encrypting Your Cat Photos

    The truth is, I really don't have anything on my hard drive that I would be upset over someone seeing. I have some cat photos. I have a few text files with ideas for future books and/or short stories, and a couple half-written starts to NaNoWriMo novels. It would be easy to say that there's no point encrypting my hard drive, because I have nothing to hide. more>>

    bunnyhuangblog 7:03p
    Myriad RF for Novena

    This is so cool. Myriad-RF has created a port of their wideband software defined radio to Novena (read more at their blog). Currently, it’s just CAD files, but if there’s enough interest in SDR on Novena, they may do a production run.

    The board above is based on the Myriad-RF 1. It is a fully configurable RF board that covers all commonly used communication frequencies, including LTE, CDMA, TD-CDMA, W-CDMA, WiMAX, 2G and many more. Their Novena variant plugs right into our existing high speed expansion slot — through pure coincidence both projects chose the same physical connector format, so they had to move a few traces and add a few components to make their reference design fully inter-operable with our Novena design. Their design (and the docs for the transceiver IC) is also fully open source, and in fact they’ve one-upped us because they use an open tool (KiCad) to design their boards.

    I can’t tell you how excited I am to see this. One of our major goals in doing a crowdfunding campaign around Novena is to raise community awareness of the platform and to grow the i.MX6 ecosystem. We can’t do everything we want to do with the platform by ourselves, and we need the help of other talented developers, like those at Myriad-RF, to unlock the full potential of Novena.

    John Hodgman Returns...
     ... later that same night.

    As previously announced here (see below), John will be coming to the Jean Cocteau to perform  his stand-up show I STOLE YOUR DAD, "presenting new observations on subjects including how to dress like a young and relevant person, fax machines and other obsolete technology, marihuana and Downton Abbey, the state songs of Tennessee, the film criticism of Ayn Rand, and how to spend your time when the world did not end like you were certain it would on December 21st of last year."

    John H preferred photo

    John's appearance is scheduled for 7:00 pm on Monday, June 2... but though the show is still six weeks away, we've had such a demand for tickets that we're almost sold out.  The Cocteau, please recall, has only 125 seats.  As of this morning, we had sold 108 tickets.  We expect the last few to be gone by week's end.

    So it thrills me to announce that John Hodgman has agreed to do a second show for all his fans in Santa Fe.  The second show will also be on Monday, June 2, but starting at 9:00 pm.  Tickets to the late show will be available from the Cocteau website   starting today.  You can also call the theatre at 505-466-5528 or drop by the box office in person.

    If you want to snag one of those last dozen or so tickets to the 7:00pm show, I'd advise you to act ASAP.  Meanwhile, for the night owls and those shut out of the early show, we now have the 9:00pm performance.  Admission is $20, with discounts for students and seniors.

    John Hodgman is an author and performer best known as the “Resident Expert” on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, his COMPLETE WORLD KNOWLEDGE trilogy, and for his podcast and New York Times Magazine column, Judge John Hodgman.

    See you at the show.

    Current Mood: pleased
    feld_feed 5:23p
    Today’s Fun – Gnip, Twitter, Uncommon Stock, and Pre-Seed Rounds

    FSA (Feld Service Announcement) – my version of a “public service announcement”: Moz is on the hunt for a VP of UX and Design. This role is one of our most crucial hires this year. The ideal candidate will come to us with experience and examples to show of very complex, technical projects that s/he made simple and fun. I would love for you to share this job description with your network or if you have anyone in mind I would love for you to send them our way.

    Yeah, it’s been kind of busy the last week. Congrats to my friends at Gnip on becoming part of the Twitter flock. I have a great origin story about the founding of Gnip and the first few years for some point in the future. But for now, I’m just going to say to everyone involved “y’all are awesome.”

    Last week Manu Kumar had a spectacular post titled The New Venture Landscape. While it’s bay area centric, I especially agree with the punch line:

    Pre-Seed is the new Seed. (~$500K used for building team and initial product/prototype)
    Seed is the new Series A. (~$2M used get for building product, establishing product-market fit and early revenue)
    Series A is the new Series B. (~6M-$15M used to scale customer acquisition and revenue)
    Series B is the new Series C.
    Series C/D is the new Mezzanine

    Today at 5pm I’m doing a fireside chat with Eliot Peper, the author of Uncommon Stock, the first book published by FG Press. Join us for some virtual fun and a discussion about fiction, books, and startups.

    And – if you miss that, Eliot is doing another event on Friday at 5pm at Spark Boulder.

    The post Today’s Fun – Gnip, Twitter, Uncommon Stock, and Pre-Seed Rounds appeared first on Feld Thoughts.

    If It’s Not Privilege, Then What Is It?: On Writer Privilege

    So yesterday, after twenty-four years of struggle, I sold a novel.  (Read about it here, pre-order it here, if you like.)

    Let’s be honest: That took perseverance.  I wrote for hours a day, writing on vacation, writing on my birthday, writing when I was recovering from heart surgery.  I went to critique groups to get better feedback.  I networked online so I could find better people to give me feedback.  Out of any given day, you can point to at least an hour and say, “Ferrett put in his 10,000 hours.”


    * I was lucky enough to be healthy, so I didn’t have to deal with days torpedoed by chronic pain issues or going to doctors or filling prescriptions.

    * I was lucky enough to have a sedentary, work-at-home job.  Yes, some of that’s career choice, but I went to college for seven years on scholarships and my parents’ dime, and they were rich enough to buy a PC back when they were super-expensive so I got familiarized with computers about ten years before the curve.  I happened to be born male, so people just sort of assumed I could be good at computers.  Now, I work hard at being a programmer – but there’s also a lot in my background that enabled this career choice.  If I had to work an hour away lugging crates at a warehouse, my writing time would be cut into by exhaustion and commutes, rendering me less productive.

    * I was lucky enough to be wealthy enough to go to the Clarion Science Fiction Writers’ Workshop after I got accepted, which costs thousands of dollars.   (As witness this less-fortunate soul raising the bare-bones $3,600 it’ll take him to attend this year.)  It cost me probably $4,500 after all was said and done, and that’s a lot of change to just plunk down.  (Viable Paradise is less expensive, as it’s shorter, but that’s still $1,100 plus travel.)

    * I was lucky enough to have a good enough job that they gave me the leave to go away for six weeks, though I was so hot to trot that I would have quit if I’d had to.  Thankfully, they were gracious as they usually are.  Thankfully, I had the financial cushion to be able to walk away if I needed to, and a family supportive enough to deal with my absence for six weeks.

    * I was lucky enough to have friends who told me about things like Clarion, and conventions, and what to expect from publishers.  I didn’t go hunting for writer-friends; I happened to have a few who I ran across in town.  If it wasn’t for a friend telling me about Clarion that year, I wouldn’t have heard of it, and you wouldn’t have heard of me.

    * I was lucky enough to have wise parents who modeled secure, sane marriages for me, so when I found my wife – who has been wise, supportive, and a stanchion of my writing career – I was smart enough to not destroy the relationship.

    Now, none of those gifts take away from my tremendous drive.  And they don’t mention things like, say, my chronic depression, which does in fact take away from my production time.  But those are all advantages that were, in some fundamental way, given to me.  Yeah, I had to work efficiently to keep my job, and yeah I had to be lovable enough to keep my friends, and yeah, I had to be talented enough to get to spend all that money on Clarion – but in all those issues, I had a huge boost from forces beyond my choosing.

    It was hard enough getting this damn novel sold.

    It would have been even harder if just a few circumstances had changed in my life.  Maybe impossible.  If I’d had young children and a wife with a job at 7-11, going to Clarion probably wouldn’t have happened.  If I’d been incapacitated by chronic back pain for three hours a day, my writing time would have been affected.  If I’d run with a different set of friends, that whole “Clarion” thing – the event that restarted my career – would have zipped on by.

    I call those privileges.

    And Brad Torgersen (he of the other first novel happydance) said that in the military, privileges are things you earn.  Which may be true.  But I don’t know a better word for those quiet advantages.  “Gifts” don’t seem right, because frankly, me walking around healthy isn’t really a gift, it’s just something I feel most people oughtta have in a sane world.

    But whatever you call them, I acknowledge them.  Yes, I worked hard to break through.  Super-hard.  But despite all that effort I put in, it could have been harder.  And writing is such a challenge to get write, requiring such focus to hone, that I don’t think it’s a surprise that a lot of writers are white males who come from middle- to upper-class homes. They’ve got a whole societal structure geared around supporting them.

    And again!  Like me, that doesn’t denigrate their effort.  There’s a zillion middle-class white guys, and the majority of them suck at writing because they either don’t care or didn’t put their time into the craft.  Anyone who hauls their ass across this finish line has done something significant.  But there are others who had additional hurdles in front of them on that track, and I think it’s intellectually dishonest to wave that aside.

    I guess that’s why privilege is such a difficult concept to express: it feels contradictory, on some level.  It’s You did do something really difficult, but it could have been harder.  And nobody wants to hear that they had it easier than others… particularly when they fail.  Particularly when “privilege” is not a singular power-up that magically erases all difficulty, but a bunch of small factors that can often cascade into greater things.  Particularly when some people only have certain privileges (a decent income, good physical health) but lack others (like my depressive fugue-states chipping away at my mental health).

    But that doesn’t erase the concept.  And when I look at my achievement?  I’m happy.  I wanted to publish a damn novel, and now I will have, and I put in my 10,000 hours to get here hard-core.

    Yet when I look at society and all the things I’d like to fix, there’s a bunch of people who never got what I did.  I’d like to give it to them, if I can, or just plain make coping with those issues easier.  And I refuse to erase that reality by claiming I’m a self-made man or somesuch.

    I had a lot of help.  I had a lot of advantages.  I did a lot of fucking work.

    Those concepts are not mutually exclusive.

    Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

    This entry has also been posted at You can comment here, or comment there; makes no never-mind by me.
    yodaikenfsmfeed 11:05a
    Economics of Free Software

    Fate has made me the “money guy” for OpenSSL so I’m going to talk about that for a bit.

    As has been well reported in the news of late, the OpenSSL Software Foundation (OSF) is a legal entity created to hustle money in support of OpenSSL. By “hustle” I mean exactly that: raising revenue by any and all means[1]. OSF typically receives about US$2000 a year in outright donations and sells commercial software support contracts[2] and does both hourly rate and fixed price “work-for-hire” consulting as shown on the OSF web site. The media have noted that in the five years since it was created OSF has never taken in over $1 million in gross revenues annually.

    Thanks to that publicity there has been an outpouring of grassroots support from the OpenSSL user community, roughly two hundred donations this past week[3] along with many messages of support and encouragement[4]. Most were for $5 or $10 and, judging from the E-mail addresses and names, were from all around the world. I haven’t finished entering all of them to get an exact total, but all those donations together come to about US$9,000.

    OpenSSL uses a “give away code and charge for consulting” model that FSMLabs began with in 1999. We couldn’t make it work either.


    Monday, April 14th, 2014
    Season 4... in Spain
    Canal +, which broadcasts A GAME OF THRONES in Spain, has done some interesting and unusual TV spots for season four.

    I thought you folks might like a look at them, even if (like me) you don't speak any Spanish.

    Pretty cool, I thought.

    Current Mood: impressed
    Hey, Cool
    We finally have a "book trailer" for WILD CARDS.

    It's from Brazil, and it's in Portugese.

    Got to love those Marc Simonetti illustrations.

    Current Mood: amused
    daniellemirefd 11:16p
    Science: ideals vs. reality

    Fernando Pérez gave a talk at Pycon 2014 with a brilliant slide:

    The ideals reality of science:

    • The pursuit of verifiable answers highly cited papers for your c.v.
    • The validation of our results by reproduction convincing referees who did not see your code or data
    • An altruistic, collective enterprise A race to outrun your colleagues in front of the giant bear of grant funding

    Credit: Bill Tozier for the pointer.

    daniellemirefd 5:34p
    The financial value of open source software

    We all rely daily on free and open source software, whether we know it or not. The entire Internet is held together by open source software. The cheap router that powers you Wifi network at home uses the Linux kernel. Your android phone is based on the Linux kernel. Google servers run Linux. In 2014, almost everyone is a Linux user.

    For most people, the financial value of this software is an abstract concept. I think that most people assume that open source software must be cheap.

    On the contrary, producing quality open source software is tremendously expensive. And the financial investment grows every year.

    How much did it cost to write the millions of lines of the Linux kernel? García-García and de Magdaleno estimated the cost of the Linux kernel, as of 2010, to 1.2 billion euros. That is how much it would cost of any one company to redo the Linux kernel from scratch.

    You might assume that programmers working on the Linux kernel are hopeless nerds who live in their parent’s basement. In fact, most of them are highly qualified engineers earning 6-figure salaries or better. So the financial estimate represents real money. It is not a virtual cost.

    Of course, the Linux kernel is a tiny fraction of all the open source software we rely upon. Most open source developers will never contribute to the Linux kernel: it is reserved for a small elite. According to the Linux foundation, the cost of building a standard Linux distribution (in 2008) would have been over $10 billion.

    So what is the value of all open source software beyond Linux?

    It helps to realize that software is a huge business. In Europe, companies and governments spend over 200 billion euros a year building software. To put this in perspective, the movie industry in the US generates about 10 billion dollars in revenues. In the United States, 1 out of every 200 workers is a software engineer. A very sizeable fraction of all “engineering” today is in software.

    Of course, not all of the software is open source. Still, Daffara estimates the financial value of open source software, for Europe alone, to over 100 billion euros a year.

    So why don’t we have more open source drug designs, movie content, textbooks, and so on?

    The common argument is that nobody will be willing to invest, in say, a new textbook, a new drug or a new show if anyone can copy and redistribute it for free—the investment is too large.

    But I think that the real difference is cultural. In the software world, entire businesses grew surrounded by open source software. They learned to thrive with and through open source software. Companies that entirely reject open source are at a competitive disadvantage. The same happened in the fashion industry. Designers assume that other people will copy them. In fact, designers hope others will copy them.

    Other industries, like the pharmaceutical or education industry, have internalized the patent and copyright systems. That is why college students have to pay over $100 for a typical textbook whereas they can get an operating system that costed billions to make for free.

    I think that if we had had a world where it is fair game to copy and distribute a textbook for free, we would still have textbooks. I think they would still be excellent. I also think that textbook authors would get paid, just like the programmers do.

    Would the overall result be better? I do not know but it is fascinating to imagine what such a parallel universe might look like.

    Credit: Thanks to Christopher Smith for useful pointers.

    kuro5hin 3:19p

    Hello, I am Public Barr. Neil Cane, an attorney of law to a deceased Process Architect, who was based in Salmon Creek, Washington, also referred to as my client. On the 29th of March 2014, my client was arrested by corrupt Government Officials and charged with malicious mischief. He was killed in prison under suspicious circumstances and died due to rectal bleeding following sexual impalement.
    We are in the process of securing a full-depth, 1m80cm tall rack for the flat. It may be possible to squeeze it in the laundry room behind the dryer, although Tom is more of a mind to put it next to the refrigerator, as they're about the same height and it will get better airflow that way.

    This will provide a home for thequux's massive collection of vintage hardware, which does not yet contain a LISP Machine but once we get the VAXen racked let's talk. Power management for this project should be fun, since I don't think we intend to leave these machines on all the time, as that would be loud and expensive -- admittedly once we replace the old 110V power supplies with modern, more efficient 220V ones, power consumption will go down, but the Sun 2 doesn't need to be on all the time -- but it would still nice to be able to spin machines up or down easily and also remotely. Part of the goal here is to have the world's most baroque malware disassembly lab; I am consumed by the mental image of BadBIOS waking up on an Alpha and mumbling "where am I and who the hell did I go home with last night?"

    Incident to all of this is that I have actually made enough headway on the mountain of boxes that has been the front half of my (very open plan) living room for the last year-plus to do something about the rackable boxen. For much of that time I have not actually been here, but now that my life is actually kind of settling down again it is long past time to finish goddamn unpacking. With that in mind, there will probably be progress photos as I get the library / atelier together. (Over the weekend I started an experiment in using bookcases as room dividers; once I have another pair of bookcases, it will also be an experiment in using the ends of bookcases as tool storage. Conveniently I have guidance from an expert in the practise of Billy-based interior remodeling; these are not going to be load-bearing walls, but frankly neither are most of the interior walls here and they're going to be anchored to the concrete wall to which they are at right angles once I find my masonry bits. Maybe the floor too, since it's also concrete.)

    Anyway, back to work. Still here, therefore still invincible.

    Current Mood: sick
    michaelswanwick 5:56a
    Radiant Doors . . . the Series?


    It's too early to break out the champagne yet, but the cable network WGN America has given what's called "a script order against a series commitment" to a television series based on my story "Radiant Doors."

    What this means is that if the network likes the script (now being written by Jeremy Doner), the series will be made.  Justin Lin, the director of Fast and Furious 6, will be the director and executive producer if and when Radiant Doors is made.

    "Radiant Doors" is the single darkest story I've ever written -- and that's saying something.  The premise is that one day radiant doors open in the air everywhere in the world and through them pour millions of refugees.  They've all been terribly abused.  And they're from our future.

    I don't know anything about Justin Lin's vision for the series, and that's probably just as well.  Neither he nor Doner needs me peering over their shoulders, second-guessing them.  But in addition to the obvious benefits to me if the series is ever made, I'd love to see just what they do with the premise.

    You can read all about it here.

    Above:  Justin Lin

    Attention, World: I SOLD A NOVEL.

    When I was fifteen, my parents dragged me to a book release party.  Not that I knew it was a book release party; I was, like every fifteen-year-old kid, self-centered to the point that I wore my colon as a hat.  It was at the Goldsteins’ house, so I assumed it was another party celebrating the fact that brave Mrs. Goldstein had survived yet another round of brain surgery.

    But no.  Mrs. Goldstein – a clear-eyed woman who walked with the help of a cane – pressed a hardcover book into my hand.

    “I wrote this,” she told me.  “About my experiences, relearning how to walk and talk and write.  It’s a memoir.”  And though I’d read so many stories that I had ink permanently dotted on my nose from sticking it in books, it had never occurred to me that actual people wrote them.  Authors were Gods who lived in little editorial heavens, flinging down books from clouds up high.

    But Mrs. Goldstein had written a book.  And taken it to the publishers in New York.  And gotten it published.  She told me all about how she wrote it, how you had to send it in a manila envelope to people, the letters of rejection you’d get, and slowly I came to understand that books – books! – were written by people like you and me.

    When I was fifteen, I vowed to publish a novel.

    When I was nineteen, I wrote my first novel: “Schemer and the Magician.”  It was about a nerdy college kid (basically me) and a wiseass college kid (also basically me) who got kidnapped by aliens and sucked into a galactic war OF INCONCIEVABLE CONSEQUENCES.

    …It wasn’t very good.

    I sent it to two agents, who wisely never responded.

    When I was twenty-three, I wrote my second novel: “A Cup of Sirusian Coffee.”  It was a Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy-style riff on the afterlife, where for all eternity you were forced to do whatever you did in life.  Were you a plumber?  Look forward to spending the next five Pleistocene epochs fixing pipes.

    I wrote the first three chapters, handed them around to my college buddies, who thought it was hysterical.  So every day I cranked out another chapter, handing out printed manuscripts to a small group of fans who demanded to know what happened next, until eventually I snowballed a slim plot into a musical Ragnarok that shut the universe down.

    This one I sent out to three agents, two of whom dutifully informed me that I was not quite as clever as I thought.

    When I was thirty, I wrote my third novel: “The Autonomist Agenda, Part I.”  Screw my own muse, I thought: this one would be commercial.  So I wrote the first book in a huge and complex fantasy series, complete with smoldering relationships guaranteed to appeal to the ‘shipper crowd, and prophecies that propelled a young boy on the inevitable journey to become a Big Damn Hero, and even a gay warrior because I was Just That Ahead Of The Curve.

    (Not that it was revealed he was gay until Part II.  I had Plans, you see.  I’d sell all three books at once!)

    I slipped a copy to my friend Catherynne Valente, who’d had some success at this writing gig.  She read part of it, then took me out to a sad lunch at Bob Evans to break the news.

    “I guess you could get this published somewhere,” she told me.  “But is this really what you want your name on?”

    I guess I didn’t.

    But damn, I wanted my name on something.

    When I was thirty-two, I wrote my fourth novel: “On The Losing Side Of The Dragon.”  Sure, the winning knight eventually kills the dragon, but what about all those poor wannabe schmucks who get devoured along the way?

    I gave it to my wife.  She informed me she liked how it ended, really liked it, but the beginning was tedious.  She would never have gotten to the good stuff if she hadn’t been, you know, obligated to read my crap on account of our wedding vows consisting of the words “to love, honor, and beta-read.”

    I locked myself in my room and cried all evening.  Thirteen years of effort, and I had not managed to write one single novel that anyone wanted to read.  I had not sold one story.

    All I’d ever wanted to do was write novels, and I pretty much sucked at it.

    When I was thirty-five, I wrote my fifth novel: “A Cup Of Sirusian Coffee.”  Wrote the whole goddamned thing from scratch.  It was a funny idea, and my college buddies still asked about it, so clearly I just needed to go back to the drawing board.

    This was novel #5 – and that was the toughest one.  See, Stephen King, my favorite Unca Stephen, had written five novels before he sold his first one.  He’d famously wadded up Carrie and thrown it in the trash, and his wife had rescued it, put his ass back in the seat, told him to keep going.  He did.  Fame and fortune resulted.

    That meant this was my lucky novel.  This was the one I was guaranteed to publish.  After all, how many novels did you have to write before you got good?

    After sending the new manuscript far and wide, I heard back from a publisher two years later.  They told me the opening paragraphs were “interesting” but then it “fell apart quickly… if the author could capture the style of those first paragraphs again, it might be worth it.”

    But by then, I’d pretty much given up trying.

    When I was thirty-eight, Catherynne Valente yelled at me.  “Just send in the damn application,” she said.

    “I’m not a good writer,” I told her.  “The Clarion Science Fiction Writers’ Workshop is for serious writers.  I’ve sold three stories in twenty years, for $15 total.  I’m never going to get in.”

    She smiled.  “So send it in.  Just to shut me up.”

    I did.

    I got accepted.

    I got scourged.

    I got to learn that over the last twenty years, I’d accreted all kinds of bad habits – stiff plotting, flabby prose, a reliance on recreating stereotypes instead of actually writing about people I knew.  Clarion taught me that I wasn’t a bad writer, I’d just been too overconfident in my raw abilities… and now that I had finally been forced to acknowledge all my weak spots, I could fix those and reinvent myself for the better.

    Over the next three years, I sold fourteen stories, five of them at professional rates.  For which I still thank Catherynne.

    But I wasn’t quite ready to write a novel.  Not yet.

    When I was forty-one, I finally got the courage back to work on my sixth novel: a sweeping science-fiction epic called “The Upterlife.”  I spent a year revising it, and – I shit you not – not two hours after I finished the final draft of that damn novel, Mary Robinette Kowal called me up to tell me that my novelette Sauerkraut Station had been nominated for the Nebula Award.

    If that wasn’t a signal from God that I was ready to sell a damn novel, what was?  I sent that manuscript to all the best agents, with a killer query, telling them by way, I’m up for a Nebula this year and I just happen to have this novel for you.

    They all rejected it.




    When I was forty-three, I wrote my seventh novel.  It was Breaking Bad with magic, a desperate bureaucromancer turned to manufacturing enchanted drugs to save his burned daughter… and it was by far the best thing I’d ever written.  I polished that sucker until it shined.  It shined.

    But I was two novels beyond Stephen King.  I’d been struggling to get a novel published for twenty-four years now, clawing at the walls of the Word Mines, and I had no hope of anything but oh God I couldn’t stop and I realized that I wasn’t going to stop, that the breath in my body would run out before I stopped writing tales and who the hell cared if I got published or not I was locked in.  I had to create.  I had to.

    And I sold it.

    Flex, by Ferrett Steinmetz.  The story of Paul Tsabo, bureaucromancer, his daughter Aliyah, and the kinky videogamemancer Valentine DiGriz, who I’m pretty sure you’re gonna love.  Published by Angry Robot books – the very publisher of whom I said to my wife, “If I could have any publisher take my first book, it’d be Angry Robot.”

    Coming to bookstores on September 30th.  (EDIT: And you can pre-order it now through Amazon. Lordy, that was fast.)

    I don’t care what novel you’re on.

    Do not give up.

    (Cross-posted from Angry Robot’s blog.)

    Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

    This entry has also been posted at You can comment here, or comment there; makes no never-mind by me.
    xkcd_rss 4:00a
    Sunday, April 13th, 2014
    From when even the cars had moustaches
    Every year about this time, my campus holds a spring celebration, with all the student organizations setting up pavilions in the park to sell food and advertise for new members, with the creative anachronists bashing each other with padded swords, and with a car show. Why a car show? I don't know, but I always enjoy seeing the variety of shapes and colors compared to today's mostly-the-same boxes. My favorite this year was a 1950 Chevy Fleetline, found rusting in a swamp in Tenessee; after a lot of work restoring it, its owner decided to cover it in clear-coat, showing off the patina on its metal, rather than just painting it. And then drove it cross country, towing a trailer full of his stuff, to UCI where his girlfriend is a grad student.

    The moustache is more visible in this one. And here are the rest of the photos.
    Monday, April 14th, 2014
    computcomplexit 2:40a
    Factorization in coNP- in other domains?

    I had on an exam in my grad complexity course to show that the following set is in coNP

    FACT = { (n,m) : there is a factor y of n with 2 \le y \le m }

    The answer I was looking for was to write FACTbar (the complement) as

    FACTbar = { (n,m) | (\exists p_1,...,p_L) where L \le log n
    for all i \le L we have m < p_i \le n and p_i is prime (the p_i are not necc distinct)
    n =p_1 p_2 ... p_L
    INTUITION: Find the unique factorization and note that the none of the primes are < m
    To prove this work you seem to need to use the Unique Factorization theorem and you need
    that PRIMES is in NP (the fact that its in P does not help).

    A student who I will call Jesse (since that is his name) didn't think to complement the set  so instead he wrote the following CORRECT answer

    FACT = { (n,m) | n is NOT PRIME and forall p_1,p_2,...,p_L  where 2\le L\le log n
    for all i \le L,  m< p_i \le n-1 , (The p_i not necc distinct. Also NOT necc primes)
    n \ne p_1 p_2 ... p_L
    (I doubt this proof that FACT is in coNP is new.)
    INTUITION: show that all possible ways to multiply together numbers larger than m do not yield n,
    hence n must have a factor \le m.

    Here is what strikes me- Jesse's proof does not seem to use Unique Factorization.  Hence it can be used in other domains(?). Even those that do not have Unique Factorization (e.g. Z[\sqrt{-5}]. Let D= Z[\alpha_1,...,\alpha_k] where the alpha_i are algebraic. If n\in D then let N(n) be the absolute value of the sum of the coefficients (we might want to use the product of n with all of its conjugates instead, but lets not for now).

    FACT = { (n,m) : n\in D, m\in NATURALS, there is a factor y in D of n with 2 \le N(y) \le m}

    Is this in NP? Not obvious (to me) --- how many such y's are there.

    Is this the set we care about? That is, if we knew this set is in P would factoring be in P? Not obv (to me).

    I suspect FACT is in NP, though perhaps with a diff definition of N( ). What about FACTbar?
    I think Jesse's approach works there, though might need  diff bound then log L.

    I am (CLEARLY) not an expert here and I suspect a lot of this is known, so my real point is
    that a students diff answer then you had in mind can be inspiring. And in fact I am inspired to
    read Factorization: Unique and Otherwise by Weintraub which is one of many books I've been
    meaning to read for a while.
    philg 12:41a
    Hugo Chavez’s legacy

    I’m reading Comandante: Hugo Chávez’s Venezuela. The book contains an interesting perspective on this leader, from an executive at the Venezuelan national oil company:

    Sansó defended Chávez’s energy policy, saying the comandante had helped revive OPEC, sending prices rising even before the Iraq war, and had had the vision to recognize Venezuela’s oil was not just around Lake Maracaibo, in the west, but also in the center of the country along the Orinoco in a smiling arc known as the Faja. The same wilderness that had swallowed gold-seeking conquistadores contained enormous deposits of extra-heavy crude. The black ooze had long been written off as tar, a costly-to-extract type of liquid coal, and the old PDVSA gave foreign oil companies a virtual free hand to develop it. Chávez insisted it was oil, and eventually even the U.S. Geological Survey agreed. The zone contained an estimated 220 billion barrels—making Venezuela’s total reserves vaster than Saudi Arabia’s. Chávez partly nationalized the Faja in 2007, taking majority shares in the operations, an audacious decision that infuriated the foreign oil companies working there. “For that alone Chávez was worth it,” said Sansó. “He was crazy enough to do it. Any reasonable guy wouldn’t have had the guts. He would have said it’s not possible. A century from now Chávez will be remembered and thanked for this, no matter what else happens.”

    The book could use some editing. It jumps back and forth in time. There is some redundancy. But it is highly relevant right now when politicians and newspapers worldwide are trying to get people excited about “income inequality” (e.g., see this New York Times op-ed from yesterday). Chávez did not just talk about income inequality but took action.

    Sunday, April 13th, 2014
    PyCon 2014 wrap-up

    As I mentioned in my post about the PiDoorbell workshop, this past week I attended my first PyCon in beautiful (if chilly) Montreal, QC. I did some touristing, but I’ll write about that once I have all my photos up…

    But now, the conference!

    It was the first conference I’ve attended where I volunteered to help out with the HP booth. I was worried that my role as an engineer on the OpenStack project would leave me completely unprepared to answer questions about HP specifically, but I was instead greeted with kinship among most folks who I spoke with as they could appreciate HP’s investment in open source (and Python). I was also pleased to learn that the guys from the local HP office who came to help out with the booth were also all engineers, focused on either network or printing. Having the actual engineers to helped design the hardware we had on display at the booth was really cool.

    Plus, I’m sure it helped that we have a bunch of open Python, OpenStack and other cloud jobs, so plenty of folks were eager to hear about those.

    I wasn’t at the booth all weekend, I attended all the keynotes and several talks throughout the event. I think my favorite talks ended up being Track memory leaks in Python by Victor Stinner, Subprocess to FFI: Memory, Performance, and Why You Shouldn’t Shell Out by Christine Spang and In Depth PDB by Nathan Yergler. Upon reflection this makes sense given my work in ops, I’m much more likely to be debugging Python code in my typical day than writing something, so the talks about tracking down problems and performance issues are right up my alley.

    The keynotes all three days were great. On Sunday I was particularly struck by the conference gender diversity. In addition to having a reported 1/3 female speakers and attendees, all the leadership in the Python community seem genuinely dedicated to the issue. I’m so used to projects that are still arguing over whether a problem exists let alone taking solid, unapologetic steps to correct the cultural bias. So thank you Python community, for giving us an opportunity to catch up, it’s working!

    And finally, since I can’t go anywhere anymore without getting pulled into an OpenStack event, I finally met Dana Bauer from Rackspace this week and she invited me to come help out with a short OpenStack workshop for women on Sunday morning from 10 until noon. The lab they had set up didn’t quite work out, but it gave attendees the opportunity to go in the direction they wanted to. I was able to help a bit here and there, and James E. Blair gave a mini-presentation to a few folks on how to get going with DevStack.

    At lunch I was able to meet up with Tatiana Al-Chueyr to chat some about the contribution workflow for OpenStack, which is always a lot of fun for me.

    I’m pretty much exhausted from all the socializing, but as always with these conferences it was great to meet up with and chat with friends I haven’t seen in a long time. Thanks to everyone for such a fun week!

    Tonight the weather started to turn chilly again, time to head home.

    Originally published at pleia2's blog. You can comment here or there.

    rands_in_repose 7:35p
    Protecting Yourself from Heartbleed

    Earlier this morning, I tweeted:

    This is not actually good advice. You shouldn’t be changing your password on a server until the server administrator has confirmed whether their servers were affected and, if so, whether the server has been patched.

    Mashable appears has an up-to-date breakdown of the most popular services out there and their disposition relative to Heartbleed.


    Dunk and Egg

    An update on all things Dunk & Egg...

    To date I have published three novellas about them.

    "The Hedge Knight" was published in Robert Silverberg's anthology LEGENDS, "The Sworn Sword" in its sequel, LEGENDS II.  The third novella, "The Mystery Knight," was part of WARRIORS, the crossgenre anthology I co-edited with Gardner Dozois.

    The first two novellas were subsequently adapted into graphic novels, with scripts by Ben Avery and artwork by Mike S. Miller and Mike Crowell.  The GNs have had a complicated publishing history.  Originally they were published by the Dabel Brothers, in partnership with Image Comics and then Devil's Due.  Later Marvel picked them up and had them out in hardcover for a time.  Those editions are all out of print, however.  Last year, Jet City Comics reissued both grahic novels.  Meanwhile, a graphic novel of "The Mystery Knight" is currently in the works from Random House.  Ben Avery has done the script once more, and Mike S. Miller is doing the art.

    Turning back to prose, however... it has always been my intent to write a whole series of novellas about Dunk and Egg, chronicling their entire lives.  At various times in various interviews I may have mentioned seven novellas, or ten, or twelve, but none of that is set in stone.  There will be as many novellas as it takes to tell their tale, start to finish.  But only the three mentioned have been published to date.  I did originally plan on including a fourth in DANGEROUS WOMEN, the crossgenre anthology Gardner and I put out last year, but the book was past due and the story was not finished, so I substituted an abridged version of "The Princess and the Queen" instead.

    The unfinished novella was indeed set in Winterfell, and involved a group of formidable Stark wives, widows, mothers, and grandmothers that I dubbed 'the She-Wolves,' but "The She-Wolves of Winterfell" was never meant to be more than a working title.  The final title, when I finish the story, will be something different.  There's also another Dunk & Egg novella that I've got roughed out in my head, with the working title "The Village Hero."  That one takes place in the Riverlands.   There's no telling when I will have time to finish either of these, or which one I will write first.  I don't expect I will know more until I've delivered THE WINDS OF WINTER.

    My original intent was to publish all the Dunk & Egg stories in a series of anthologies, and then collect them all together in one big book.  But by the time of "The Mystery Knight," it became plain that the stories were just too long, and there were going to be too many of them.  So instead of one big book, the plan now is for a series of Dunk & Egg collections, each comprised of three novellas.  The first one to consist of the three published stories, "The Hedge Knight," "The Sworn Sword," and "The Mystery Knight."   The obvious title would have been THE HEDGE KNIGHT, but there is already a certain amount of confusion between "The Hedge Knight" the novella and THE HEDGE KNIGHT the graphic novel, and we did not want to compound the difficulty, so the first Dunk & Egg collection was titled A KNIGHT OF THE SEVEN KINGDOMS instead.

    Since the collection is comprised entirely of previously-published material, we wanted to add something extra for the fans who might already have read the stories in LEGENDS and WARRIORS.  Some illustrations would be great, I thought (my love of illustrated books is well known by now, I suspect) and my British and American publishers agreed.   We reached out to the amazing GARY GIANNI, who did all the artwork for the stunning 2014 Ice & Fire calendar, not to mention Prince Valiant and those absolutely gorgeous Solomon Kane and Bran Mak Morn collections from Wandering Star.   Gary was interested in the project... but after reading the stories, he decided he did not want to do just a small handful of illustrations.  He wanted to bring the whole book to life with his artwork.  Last year at San Diego Comicon, he presented my editor Anne Groell and myself with a mockup of A KNIGHT OF THE SEVEN KINGDOMS as he envisioned it, with art on almost every page.  Even as roughs, Gary's sketches were gorgeous.  They blew us away.  Of course we said yes. 

    Gary Gianni has been drawing and painting away ever since.  Of course, it takes a long time to do so much artwork.  Bantam Spectra and Harper Collins Voyager still hope to publish their fully-illustrated editions  A KNIGHT OF THE SEVEN KINGDOMS in 2015, in the US and UK respectively, but the precise pubdate depends on when Gary finishes the art.  Meanwhile, some of my other publishers around the world had acquired the rights to the Dunk & Egg collection, and decided that they did not want to wait.  Which is why A KNIGHT OF THE SEVEN KINGDOMS has already been published in several foreign languages, and will shortly be forthcoming in others, while the English-language editions won't be out for another year or more.  This is an inversion of the usual publishing pattern, where the American and British editions come out first.  The foreign editions have no artwork.

    I am frequently asked whether or not there are any plans for Dunk & Egg movies or television shows.  There has been interest, yes, but the rights situation is complicated.  Film and television rights to the characters and the three published Dunk & Egg stories remain with me at present... but HBO, when acquiring the rights to the SONG OF ICE & FIRE novels, also acquired film and television rights to the world of Westeros.  So if we did Dunk & Egg with anyone else, we would need to remove all the references to House Targaryen, the Iron Throne, etc... not completely impossible, but certainly undesireable.  Whereas if HBO decided they wanted to make a Dunk & Egg miniseries or TV movies, they'd first need to buy the stories.  That's a much more attractive proposition for all concerned, I think... but if it happens, it will happen years from now, not tomorrow, and not next week.

    So that's where things stand on all things Dunk & Egg.  Thanks for asking.

    Current Mood: peaceful
    San Francisco 14.04 Release Party on April 24th

    The release of Ubuntu 14.04 (Trusty Tahr) LTS is coming up on Thursday, April 17th!

    To celebrate, the Ubuntu California team in San Francisco will be hosting an Ubuntu release party at AdRoll! Huge thanks to them for offering us space for this event.


    AdRoll is located at 972 Mission Street in San Francisco. It’s within easy walking distance of the Powell Street BART and MUNI stations, which we recommend since parking can be expensive downtown.

    Our party will be very casual with free pizza and drinks for attendees. But we do have planned…

    • Mini presentation highlighting Ubuntu 14.04 features
    • Laptops running various flavors of 14.04
    • Tablets and phones running the latest Ubuntu build
    • Ubuntu quiz, with prizes!

    So if you’re in the area and would like to join us, please RSVP here:

    San Francisco Trusty Release Party

    Alternatively you can email me directly at and I’ll get you added to the attendee list.

    I'm going to the Ubuntu Release Party</a>

    San Francisco isn’t the only active part of the state this release, San Diego is also hosting an event, on April 17th, details here. If you’re near Los Angeles, Nathan Haines is collaborating with the Orange County Linux Users Group (OCLUG) to do an installfest on Saturday May 24th, learn more here.

    Not in California? Events are coming together all around the world, check out the LoCo Team Portal to see if there is an event being planned in your area: 14.04 Release Parties.

    Originally published at pleia2's blog. You can comment here or there.

    rmlove 4:01p
    The End-of-Life of Windows XP and SSL/TLS Configurations

    This is a followup to my previous post, Strong SSL/TLS Cryptography in Apache and Nginx.

    Perhaps hard to tell given how many users remain, but Windows XP reached its end of life on 8 April 2014. This means no more support, updates, or bug fixes—not even of critical security flaws. Windows XP use has been dwindling, but its end-of-life provides an excellent opportunity to consider removing support for it from your applications and websites.

    Dropping Windows XP support provides particularly interesting results for SSL/TLS configurations, as most of the compromises one makes in their provided cipher suites are in support of old versions of Internet Explorer on Windows XP. Since those users are now even more of a walking botnet and malware infestation, we needn't continue to support them to the detriment of the rest of the Internet.

    And what changes can we make? In my previous cryptography guide, I advocate disabling SSLv3 support, which breaks Internet Explorer 6 on Windows XP, but prevents a downgrade attack for everyone else. If we're willing to drop support for all versions of Internet Explorer on Windows XP, we can accomplish two other goals:

    • Only support Perfect Forward Secrecy, offering no cipher suites without forward security.
    • Only support modern ciphers. Currently this just means AES (in both CBC and GCM mode) but in the future will include ChaCha20+Poly1305.

    To make these changes, follow my previous guide but use this cipher suite ordering for Apache:


    SSLHonorCipherOrder on

    And this cipher suite ordering for Nginx:


    ssl_prefer_server_ciphers on;

    With the current version of OpenSSL, this yields the following ciphers, in descending order of preference:

    TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_256_GCM_SHA384 (0xc030)
    TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_128_GCM_SHA256 (0xc02f)
    TLS_DHE_RSA_WITH_AES_256_GCM_SHA384 (0x9f)
    TLS_DHE_RSA_WITH_AES_128_GCM_SHA256 (0x9e)
    TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_256_CBC_SHA384 (0xc028)
    TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA256 (0xc027)
    TLS_DHE_RSA_WITH_AES_256_CBC_SHA256 (0x6b)
    TLS_DHE_RSA_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA256 (0x67)

    This is a small, focused list, with absolutely no compromises for security, obeying the following rules:

    • Only support PFS. We favor ECDHE over DHE as the former is less resource intensive, but we support both.
    • Only support modern ciphers, which currently is just AES-CBC and AES-GCM. We favor GCM mode over CBC mode as the former is more efficient and not susceptible to the BEAST attack.
    • Favor 256-bit key size over 128 but support nothing smaller.
    • Support SHA-2 and SHA, nothing else. Prefer SHA-2 over SHA. For SHA-2, prefer 384-bit digests over 256-bit.

    With this cipher suite ordering, Chrome and Firefox will both use TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_128_GCM_SHA256—a mighty fine choice—but even your least-favored cipher, TLS_DHE_RSA_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA provides forward security and a strong cipher.

    For all your hard effort, this will earn you an "A+" grade and near-perfect SSL Labs Rating:

    SSL Labs A+ Grade for

    As before, you cannot do better without silly compromises, such as only supporting TLS 1.2, which would earn you a 100 in "Protocol Support," but then only Chrome and Firefox 27 could access your site.

    Which likely just means the addition of IE 7 and 8.

    Indeed, I'm not thrilled to recommend only one cipher. Even if AES were perfect, we ought to have choice. I believe ChaCha20+Poly1305 is an excellent alternative. It is currently supported by Chrome but is not yet in OpenSSL. Once in the latter I will update my recommendations.

    isra12998 9:00p
    מייקל שומכר בימים קדמוניים

    ובימים הרחוקים ההם, מייקל ידידנו עול ימים היה ומחלפות שערו ארוכות היו.נער היה ומצחק היה עם רעיו.
    ובימים רחוקים אלו, נמנה היה מייקל על חבר מרעיו של שר צבאות אחד אשרמלמד היה את בני התשחורת את מלחמתם של גוג ומגוג, גוליית הפלישתי ואתמעשי העוז של שמשון בן מנוח.תלמיד חכם היה מייקל ואת תלמודי המלחמה עם חבר מרעיו עשה.
    שקט, עניו ושפל רוח היה מייקל בכל מעשי המלחמה אשר בהם את חלקו נטל.שקט היה במלחמתו.

    אך כאשר ירדה רוח רפאים מן ההרים, הייתה סערתהשחל הזועם פורצת לה מתוך נפשו השקטה והענווה של מייקל, אש וגופריתרשפו מעיניו וכל אויביו הוכו ביד רמה, בזרוע נטויה ובאבני קלע אשר הוטלובאון מזרועותיו המסוקסות של מייקל הזועם בדרכים.ובימים סוערים אלה, יכול היה רק שר הצבאות לדבר על לבו של מייקל ולהשיבאת רוח הרפאים אל תוך נפשו הענווה של מייקל.

    ויהי באחד הימים וכרוז ממרחקים הגיע וכה אמר הכרוז:כל החזק מבין חבר המרעים יתברך במעשיו בציפור הברזל למרחקים יצא,רחוק אפילו ממסעו של יונה במעי הדג ויגיע לארצם של הכותים הלבנים בעליהמחלפות הלבנות.שם, בארץ רחוקה זו, ישחקו הנערים לפני השועים ואותם משפט צדק ידונוהזקנים.
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