Rob Vincent dot net

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July 28, 2009

DefCon

Rob @ 1:44 PM

I will shortly meet I-baLL at the airport, from which we shall take flight toward the setting sun and Las Vegas for what will be my first DefCon conference.

Incidentally, it'll also be the furthest I've ever travelled from home; I've only been as far west as Texas before.

I'll be checking things out with my lovely girlfriend Nicky, who is presenting a talk on the legal aspects of hackerspaces, and lots of other awesome people I know and don't yet know. If you're going to be there, keep your eyes open for me and say hello!

Over the next week I'll probably be sporadically checking email, and it'll be easy for me to send texts to my Twitter, so stay tuned there and here for my conference updates.

Woo and yay!

July 27, 2009

Bell Odyssey

Rob @ 6:02 PM

13 years ago to the day, my friend RBCP released issue 39 if the PLA zine containing, among other things, the lyrics to David Bowie's "Space Odyssey" rewritten to tell the story of a hapless telephone lineman called Bob.

Today, I recorded and released the song. It's all part of my secret plan to be David Bowie. Hear it here and accept my apologies.

Special thanks to This Is a Recording for the phone company clips.

July 16, 2009

Photophobia

Rob @ 9:19 AM

"Photophobia" is a misleading term.

Despite the "-phobia" suffix, photophobia is not a "phobia" or morbid fear along the lines of claustrophobia or arachnophobia. Instead it is a medical condition in which one's eyes are simply more susceptible to light than the average person. Some photophobics prefer the term "photosensitive" to avoid stigmas associated with "-phobia" words, though "photosensitivity" actually means different things entirely.

There are lots of possible causes and manifestations of photophobia. In my case, the irises of my eyes simply tend not to close as much or as quickly as they should in response to bright conditions, thereby letting in more light than they're meant to. This can result in discomfort, and temporary vision problems.

For comparison, think of what it's like having a bright flashlight or spotlight shone directly into your eyes. Imagine mundane levels of ambient light having that same effect on you.

Thankfully my particular case is not severe or debilitating, it's just a pain sometimes. Under normal circumstances bright daylight is the most intolerable form of light for me, but the more cloud cover the better I manage. I also take quite a bit longer than most people to adjust to a suddenly brighter environment; for example going into a lit building at nighttime, or switching on the lights in a dark room. Most people will take a couple of seconds to blink and adjust; in my case it can be a matter of minutes, more with certain types of fluorescent lamps. I'm also more susceptible to glares at night from things like bright headlights and streetlamps.

I manage thanks to my collection of cool shades. This is why you might occasionally see me wearing sunglasses when others might not, such as indoors and/or at night.) As a side benefit, cool shades are cool. I like cool shades! Who doesn't like cool shades?

July 15, 2009

PayPal update

Rob @ 7:48 PM

After dealing with a morning's worth of angry Internet, PayPal made good in the Hackers For Charity situation.

It makes me smile when lots of people are able to make jerks do the right thing. Lets do more of this!

eBay/PayPal fail

Rob @ 10:10 AM

eBay and its subsidiary PayPal have been screwing up more than usual.

First thing, they sent a takedown notice (complete with FBI threats) to a security blogger reporting on phishing scams, because he dared to include a screenshot of a phishing site in his writeup. Any human could have read that blogger's post and figured out that he's one of the good guys, who is only trying to educate the public a little bit. Could eBay actually be using bots to decide who to send that sort of nastygram to without double-checking the results first?

Secondly, they just effectively shut down Hackers For Charity leaving Johnny Long to deal with the situation from Africa.

What do they do for an encore?

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