Archive for the ‘Fun Stuff’ Category

QuakeCon = Overrated

Friday, August 12th, 2011

Talk to most people who’ve gone to QuakeCon prior to 2010 and they’ll tell you it was one of the coolest conventions around Texas. Today? Not so much. With a bunch of new rules and regulations, and changes to the overall bundle, the splendor of QuakeCon is lost to most.

For years friends and colleagues have told me how great QuakeCon was, and that I should go. My reply? Not interested. But this year, for some reason, I decided to go. No, it wasn’t a bet.

What I saw when walking in was quite disappointing in contrast to the tales of epicness that surrounded talk of this convention in the past. A few gaming stations, some displays, and the Bawls energy drink vendor, that was about it. It was more intriguing to walk into the Hilton Anatole and see ancient Chinese relics and antiques.

Did I miss out? Was I all along denying the chance to see QuakeCon at its greatest? Of course, the nostalgia of Lan-parties, and memories of a once great game series known as Quake is still present. But by visit to QuakeCon 2011 was my first, and will surely be my last, in memory of this once “stated” great convention.

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Disconnecting in a Connected World

Monday, August 8th, 2011

To a large percentage of the world’s population, the Internet couldn’t be more irrelevant or any lower on the totem pole of life’s necessities. However, I happen to live in the group that relies heavily on the Internet to conduct business, perform research, communicate with friends, family and of course, waste time.

If you are like me, you are plastered with Internet access 24/7 in your day-to-day life, especially at work or at home. While I’m out and about, I’ve always got my trusty iPhone which can do 90% of the things that I need to get done with relative ease. If my iPhone lets me down, I can use my iPad to tackle the other 9% percent. The last 1% are probably things I could do without anyway, so they can wait.

I’ve been traveling this past week so I have experienced a fairly consistent lack of Internet connectivity and as a result, have had to travel a short distance (less than a mile) to a local café with free WiFi or maybe I got lucky and bummed free WiFi off someone with an unsecured network.

When I’m thoroughly disconnected and have no Internet resources whatsoever, something strange happens to me. I tend to notice things that are around me more because I’m not bumping into them while checking the weather on my iPhone. I also find myself engaging in conversation with more people because I’m not busy deleting spam out my inbox or replying to a text message. Does any of this sound familiar?

Yes I need the Internet and no I don’t need the Internet. Let me try this another way.. if I had to choose between never having access to the Internet again for the rest of my life or.. well, I can’t think of anything that would be applicable for a trade. You can’t say television because the Internet provides television. You can’t say the music or radio because the Internet provides both of those. We pretty much can’t say anything that you can’t physically put your hands on because the Internet provides all of that too. But you can say anything that you can touch, feel, taste, and smell. I left “see” out because as we already know, you can see everything on the Internet. Especially the stuff you have no interesting seeing.

What I’m trying to say is that I/we forget too often that the Internet is just a tool to help us do things and it’s not really very good at anything else. Have you ever tried to have a conversation with the internet? How about asking the internet on the date? Maybe go to dinner with the internet or make friends with the internet? Sure you can see the great pyramids on the internet but let’s be real, that’s no substitute for standing in front of them, smelling the air, feeling the sun reflect off of them or touching the stones. So I suppose it’s okay to be disconnected and in some cases, even therapeutic. It’s sad to say but I know people who would have a complete meltdown if they lost their Internet connection for a week or two. If you’re reading this blog post it’s very likely that I don’t know you, but it’s also very likely that he might be one of those people.

Not that you asked for it, but my recommendation would be to pick one day on the weekend to not use the Internet. That means disconnect the data portion on your phone as well because that would be cheating. You’ll survive an entire day without Google maps and even though your “real friends” on Facebook might be scratching their heads at your sudden absence, they too will survive. Just do it as a test and think about that day as it progresses. If you’re not an Internet junkie already, sorry to have made you waste another five minutes of your life on the internet.

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How to Identify a Matching SSL Cert and Key

Friday, August 5th, 2011

Sometimes when needing to install or reinstall an SSL cert the key file used to generate the cert becomes misplaced, rendering the certificate useless. This can especially be a problem when installed via a control panel where the key is stored in the underlying filesystem. If multiple requests were generated the key file which was used may not match the one that is currently in place. When attempting to install the certificate you may receive an error that the key file does not match, though it is fairly easy to identify the appropriate key using the OpenSSL command line utility.

To see the full details used for a certificate (such as the Common Name, issuer, expiration date, etc.) you can run the following command against the certificate:

[root@host ssl.crt]# openssl x509 -text -noout -in somedomain.cer

which will produce full details about the certificate in question, including what is referred to as the ‘modulus’. To single out a particular piece of information, you can ‘grep’ for the particular line of output you are looking for, or the command can be modified with the specific parameter, such as:

[root@host ssl.crt]# openssl x509 -subject -noout -in somedomain.cer

will tell what specific hostname(s) the certificate was registered for, while

[root@host ssl.crt]# openssl x509 -enddate -noout -in somedomain.cer

will tell you when the certificate will expire.

The easiest way to identify the particular key file that matches this cert is to look at the modulus:

[root@host ssl.crt]# openssl x509 -modulus -noout -in somedomain.cer

this will produce several lines of output, which in itself can be a bit tricky to compare visually:







The solution is to pipe this output to the ‘md5sum’ (or simply md5 on some os’s) command:

[root@host ssl.crt]# openssl x509 -modulus -noout -in somedomain.cer | md5sum
cd75b831054e4418f7bf7fe0fc5b609a -
[root@host ssl.crt]#

If you use the same option against the key file you can easily match up the specific one used to generate this cert:

[root@host ssl.crt]# openssl x509 -modulus -noout -in somedomain.cer | md5sum
cd75b831054e4418f7bf7fe0fc5b609a -
[root@host ssl.crt]# openssl rsa -modulus -noout -in ../ssl.key/somedomain.key | md5sum
cd75b831054e4418f7bf7fe0fc5b609a -
[root@host ssl.crt]#

This output is much easier to compare and will only match for the specific files which correspond with each other.

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Beer Enthusiasts Beware: Good Beer Here Pt. 2

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

Firstly, you’ll have to excuse my phone’s picture quality, I’ll be getting a new one when my contract is up and you will have the benefit of fabulous photos in the 8 Megapixel dimension.  That being said, I’ve had the chance to go back to Dr. Jekyll’s Beer Lab and have another four beer (Two Dogfish Head, and Two Rahr & Sons) that I’d like to share.

I’ve mentioned Dogfish Head in my other beer article, but Rahr & Sons is a new brew to me.  Rahr is a Fort Worth native brewery, and the two brews I tried were the Texas Red Amber Lager and the Gravel Road German-Style Altbier.  You can get a full list of their brews here. I also tried Dogfish Head’s Palo Santo Marron, and their Indian Brown Ale.

This is the Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale. It had a sweet start, and a malty body. Slightly hoppy as well. Overall it was very nice, but not my favorite ale.

Rarh’s Texas Red Amber Lager was very tasty. A hint of caramel and a beautiful dark amber color. Malty with a mix of hops. It also had variations of fruit. Overall a good standard ale.

Rahr’s Gravel Road Altbier was nice, but pretty dark. I’m not one for very hoppy brews, but overall it was interesting. Hop Beginning and malt type finish. It tasted a little of chocolate or other roasted flavor.

Dogfish Head’s Palo Santo Marro was the best of the brews I tried this time. It was very malty, only slightly bitter. It was earthy and I could taste the Palo Santo barrel. Caramel and Vanilla flavors popped up as well. Overall it was a very smooth and enjoyable beer.

If you try any of these, comment and let me know how you like them. Overall I enjoyed them, though some more than others. But that is the wonderful aspect of being a beer enthusiast. Finding that beer that makes your soul sing is worth the experience!

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I see what you did here…Now.

Friday, July 29th, 2011

Recently, NPR published an article showcasing scientist Samie Jaffrey et al. and the work they’ve been doing in capturing biological processes as they unfold using reflective tags on RNA. As the process within a cell is hard to track due to light restrictions, this form of visualization will allow scientists to see how precisely RNA contributes to certain biological processes, and these processes can even be recorded in real time. Things such as RNA utilizing viruses and RNA dependent processes can now potentially be examined more closely, possibly resulting in more effective ways to treat disease. Expect more technology to come out of luminescence and biological examination, it has been, and will continue to be a highly valuable process within science.

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