Sleepy Friday

Raindrops on a car window. Behind, a view of a residential street, out of focus.

Today was a day defined by accidental sleep. I fell asleep for an extra two hours or so after I woke up for the first time. Luckily I still made it to therapy on time with no issues. Then, after running some errands, I got home and promptly fell asleep again for three hours. So a huge portion of the day has been lost to unintentional unconsciousness. Not exactly ideal. But that’s just life in the medium-large, rainy/wet/cold city, I suppose.

Shadow of Mordor

Falling in with my habit of being permanently behind the times when it comes to video games, I’ve been diving back into Shadow of Mordor. Merc has gushed to me about it (and its sequel, Shadow of War) enough that I wanted to give it another shot. Every time I pick it up I find it a really satisfying, really smooth-playing game. I think the reason I tend to bounce off of it is that I’ve never been great at the combat. The game has a strange tension between being a stealth game and being an action game, without fully committing to being one or the other. Which is fine! I think it’s an inherent part of the Assassin’s Creed template. But it makes it really hard to know when to run away. Even if I’m in the center of a stronghold so there will be tons of reinforcements always coming.

There’s also at least one or two nemeses that are haunting me. Mostly because they’re invulnerable to nearly everything, so combating them is incredibly difficult. One, as far as I can tell, can only be damaged by setting him on fire. No ranged, no stealth, no combat damage/finishers. Unless there’s something I’m missing. There probably is. (If I get him to panic, will that make him vulnerable to a stealth finisher?) Continue reading

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Updates, Updates, Read All About Ian

A cup of coffee with latte art depicting, as far as I can tell, a head eating another head with its fangs.

Fremont Coffee is staffed by good peeps.

I’ve felt remiss not updating this blog for the last bit. Lack of sleep kept getting in the way. Or, rather, lack of sleep lead to lack of focus which lead to not updating. Blah!

As such, a bunch of small updates for y’all.

Work

I officially no longer work at Quantcast, my contract having now expired. I still need to send them back their laptop this week after I pull my personal files off it, but other than that it’s all over. It’s really weird ending a job I’ve been doing for over four years, even if it had a lot of downsides to go with its ups. Still, it’s been about ten days so I’m getting used to it. I’ve also been applying for other jobs, without much success. But I know I just have to keep on going, I’ll get interviews eventually.

I’m also currently taking on freelance work, if that’s of interest to any of you (or your employers!). I have a professional website up at http://scrivian.com that you should check out. 😀 Prices are negotiable for the tech work, especially for friends/individuals and/or very small companies. I priced most of it by using my Quantcast hourly rate plus about $10, which ended up feeling high, but I also have been taught to try and not accept pay cuts for the same work, so. Hopefully I’ll get a few nibbles, but I’ve yet to start advertising beyond a single twitter post, so I’m in a “wait and see” state for now. (I also need to figure out targeting advertising for that concierge service, beyond just going up to big houses in Seattle and bellowing at them while holding up a sign. That…probably wouldn’t work, right?)

Writing

I’m getting really really close to being done with the second draft of my novel! Probably going to be done this week if I get to work on it consistently. I stumbled into the climax at writing today, so that’s cool. And really exciting. I’ve been working to get to this point tfor a while. I’m also looking forward to working on some short stories again, and I want to try to write an essay for the Speculative Masculinities anthology. I have an idea, and I think it’s good, but it’ll take me a bit to put down on paper. Essays are harder than fiction, for me. But I’m going to give it my best! *determined anime pose* Continue reading

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Computer Learnin’s: February 2018

This month is a month of trying to plow through things and earn some certs, which I’m sure won’t be disastrous AT ALL. Focusing on A+ and Networking+ first, as both of those should have some good overlap with stuff I know already. It should also let me prove to HR departments that, yes, I know what I’m doing, please hire me.

After that I’m not really sure. I’ve been looking at network administrator positions, because those are something I’m at least partially qualified for and are a good way to move towards doing information security. I think. Assuming I keep trying for a network admin job, though, I’d probably be looking at getting a CCNA certification, or a Microsoft one? Alternately Security+ just because that’s interesting.

Either way I ‘m going to be out hundred of dollars, which sucks. Thanks for nothing, Bachelor’s of Computer Science. Turns out that isn’t enough for people to trust me to support desktops for $20/hour. :\

Anyway, here’s the log!

Pre 2018-02-07

  • Studied more A+ material. Got through the end of the 2nd hardware section.

2018-02-07

  • Finished the final hardware section (third of three) in the book. I now know a bit more about printers? Not the topic I thought would have come up, but okay.
  • Started in on the Networking section
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RIP Ursula K Le Guin (1929-2018)

I’m not the first to write a post about the passing of Le Guin, and I doubt I’ll be the last. I wrote the below on Wednesday morning, the day after her death was announced.  It was part of my morning hand-written pages, so coherency might be lacking, but I wanted to put it up anyway.

Ursula K Le Guin’s death was announced yesterday (she died on the 22nd). It fucking sucks. Ever word I read of her fiction was absolutely gorgeous, and her nonfiction always seemed whip-smart. If I could turn into one author when I grew up, I would want to be her. She’s just a legend of the field. perhaps even more importantly she’s one of the few legends who took a serious look at gender, sexuality, and love. Who wrote about POC consistently. Who was a woman. Who wasn’t a cishet white dude who jacked off to thrust calculations while making every protagonist exactly like himself.

I’m thankful she’s at least left us an amazing corpus of work. I look forward to continuing to read through it. I’d also love to read a collection of her essays and speeches, so I could make sure I hadn’t randomly missed anything when I go searching.

I hope I can be half the writer she was someday. Continue reading

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On Social Media

The iguana Jabberwocky laying in a small hammock, looking seemingly downcast as she rests.

Same, Jabbers. Same.

I’ve been wanting to blog for the last while (beyond my posts about what I’ve been learning in the computer realm), but I haven’t had a good idea of what to write about. I’m still not sure I do, but I figure this topic can’t hurt.

My social media presence lately has been…sporadic. At least on my usual haunts. I’ve been half-disappeared from Twitter, and even more so from Facebook. It’s been a mixed blessing, to say the least. I’ve found some good alternatives in the meantime, but first I want to talk about why I’ve noped out of each one (more or less).

What I’ve Been Leaving(ish)

Facebook

Facebook is something of a trash fire from a usability perspective. There will always be something or me to look at on the main feed, but that something is often not particularly interest or relevant. I really miss the simple chronological feed, and I miss the (very) early era of Facebook where sharing to it (and sharing a post on it) was not such an easy process; back when it was personal updates and text snippets, much like Twitter often is now. Instead it’s just a barrage of noise. The only reason I’ve stayed on Facebook at all is because I have several dear friends where that’s our only contact channel, and because lots of very valuable organizations (such as the Pacific Northwest Herpetological Society) conduct much of their activity there. Continue reading

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Computer Learnin’s, January 2018

New year, more driven job search, and time for a new month of recording the computer skills building/learning I do! Things got derailed pretty hard due to the holidays, but I’m hoping to get back on track and be more consistent this month.

2018-01-04

  • Looked over the resources on the “Entering the Infosec Biz” page here: http://defensivesecurity.org/entering-information-security-industry/. There’s a ton here, and I’ll need to try to remember to refer back to it frequently.
    • Which lead me to “Dealing With The Experience Required Paradox” https://infosec.engineering/dealing-with-the-experience-required-paradox-for-those-entering-information-security/. It wasn’t exactly new information, but it was good to have those paths forward reinforced.
    • Also pointed to this book, which might be a good resource on setting up a home lab. https://www.amazon.com/Network-Security-Test-Step—Step/dp/1118987055/ Which reminds me: I’ve been having a little bit of trouble because, due to maintaining reptile habitats, there’s a huge power draw on my home already. So I’m nervous about setting up yet another computer to act as a home lab, in case it ends up tripping breakers.
  • Read through “Breaking in to Security” parts one and two: https://digi.ninja/projects/breaking_in_part_1.php
    • It would be interesting (and is recommended) to look through the raw survey data to see what people said.
    • It looks like learning Python, Ruby, and Bash would all be very helpful to me.
  • I’m also thinking at this point that doing some basic certifications, like the ones Daniel Miessler lists here, would be good. I’m currently thinking A+ and Linux+, and maybe a Cisco cert so I can refresh myself on networking fundamentals. I can set up a basic network but I haven’t dug down into the theory or done anything complicated in a while. (In the case of complicated stuff, ever.) Oh, and Network+ and Security+, just because he recommends them, they sound useful, and I do like completing sets. Now to see if that’s actually a feasible idea…

Continue reading

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Hey Ian Watcha Into: Mecha, Hacking Everything, and Elections in Retrospect

In no particular order, some things I’ve found interesting lately:

The United States of Japan by Peter Tieryas

I picked this one up a while ago when it was a BookBub deal, given Kameron Hurley’s recommendation of it even further back. I was surprised at how it went about telling its story. There’s a lot more intrigue and a careful drawing of the alternate history the book takes place in, and a lot fewer bonkers mecha fights, than I expected. But the characters were strong and the world was great to drink in. It did, frustratingly, give us insight into a very interesting character in a long flashback who is then dead the next time they’re mentioned in the present, which was frustrating, and overall I felt like the book was a little too willing to kill its characters. That’s probably just a difference in craft/preference, though, and I still give the book an unreserved recommendation for anyone who likes alternate World War IIs, alternate history in general, stories where video games are a lens into something deeper, and/or stories with awesome, fifty-story tall mecha.

Internet Chemotherapy

A wild, impressive, and chilling read about a coordinated hack of millions of Internet of Things devices. Does an amazing job of showcasing just how vulnerable everything is, and how we’ve (as a society) been neglecting even the most basic security (in, I would argue, the name of quick profits). Read it here: https://archive.fo/PQAnU

What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton

I’m almost done with this one, and it’s been an interesting audiobook. Good if you want to hear a thorough breakdown of the last election. Also good if you want to hear Hillary being politely frustrated about several things. It’s especially interesting watching a presidential candidate analyze their own mistakes, and to hear Hillary’s take on things like the e-mail “scandal,” fake news, and the Comey letter, and how they affected the final election. It can be somewhat depressing, hearing snippets of policy that point to what might have been; still, a worthwhile read.

And that’s it for me! What have you been into lately?

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Computer Learnin’s, December 2017

Hey all. I’m really bad at keeping consistent with learning more about computers and (theoretically) improving in my field, so I thought I’d start keeping track. One post per month that will be updated regularly, so that I don’t overwhelm my own blog with a bazillion 50-word posts.

My focuses this month are going to be information security and learning Ruby. Maybe Python, too, but given that I’m already halfway through the month splitting my attention is probably ambitious enough as it is.

I also hope this means that I can have, if not a portfolio, at least evidence that I’ve been working on learning stuff, in the case of something like a job application. And it should act as a handy reference when I go “I swear I learned this thing, but where?!?”

2017-12-15

  • Checked out GradiusCypher’s “Getting Started in Infosec” information repository from Github: https://github.com/gradiuscypher/infosec_getting_started
  • Read through and took handwritten notes on Daniel Miessler’s “How to Build a Successful Infosec Career” https://danielmiessler.com/blog/build-successful-infosec-career/
  • Up Next: Reading through Hacks4Pancake’s “Starting an InfoSec Career” series of articles

Continue reading

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It All Feels Like A Lot Right Now

Calvin, Hobbes, and a wagon, yelling as they careen over a cliff.

It’s been a bit. So a bunch of updates, in no particular order:

Thank Fuck, Class is Done

I just finished a YA Materials class that, in total, was a waste of time. I would have been better off with a reading list and a few guiding questions or an essay assignment. I think the teacher actually made things worse than if we’d just been left with a well-organized packet of readings and assignments. I spent way too many hours putting together a the pile of busywork that was the final project, which you can check out here if you really want to: https://info265dec2017final.wordpress.com/.

Who Needs Stability, Anyway?

I’ve had it confirmed for certain that I’m not getting another year-long contract with my current employer next year, which makes sense as the hardware I ostensibly maintain is being phased out almost completely in January. However, the last several months I’ve been working in on-call work for a different department, and I’ve been doing pretty well at that, so I had the impression there might be some hope there. Alas, it was not to be, apparently. I might get some piecemeal work in January or at other times as they tear down datacenters, but I’m not really expecting anything.

I’ve been wanting to move on from that job for a while, but I’ve always struggled in the job search. At least now I’ll have a handful of recent and good references to work with. Still, I’m not relishing the idea of looking for a new job, especially given that things will be getting pretty rough after about three months. It’s downright panic-inducing if I think about it too much. Or close to it. Eugh.

But hey, if you need any tech, writing, or game design help, maybe throw an e-mail my way? I can line-edit, too! And tap dance, if you have some very nonstandard needs. Continue reading

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Have Fire, Will Travel: Destructive Mistakes

When last we left K’lathan the Argonian, my avatar for this little journey, he’d just crashed in Whiterun overnight after a long and arduous journey from Riverwood, after almost being eaten by a dragon in Helgen. He’s delivered his message. Now it’s time for him to live his life. Not going to go find some rock in a crypt, though. No sir.

On my way out of the inn, I meet Uthgerd the Unbroken, who promptly informs me you don’t know someone until you’ve fought them. K’lathan feels an illicit thrill go down his spine, but I’m not up for a fight just yet. Plus, that armor looks tough. Onwards!

Onwards to what, though? I check my quests.

Visiting the College of Winterhold seems like a good idea. I should do that Amren’s Family Sword thing, though. I remember where that is! Plus I’ll get to set people on fire. Continue reading

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