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.

2017-01-04

  • 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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Hitting Trail Marker 28

An image of the author looking at the camera, hand on his chin and a somber expression on his face. I turned 28 today. Years old, not somehow transforming into the concept of 28 or anything awesome like that.

I feel like I should have some deep thoughts about it, but I’m not sure I do. It probably doesn’t help that it was just another work day. I’m of the opinion that everyone should get their birthday off to do whatever they want, but I didn’t think to orchestrate it this time around, so a normal day it was! Plus, almost all of my friends would have been at work.

Anyway, the main thing that’s stuck me is that I’m officially in my late 20s. I was probably in my late 20s when I turned 27, but it’s extra-undeniable now. A new mini-epoch! There’s definitely some feelings about where I am in life compared to where I thought I would be. I’m not a full-time author (not that, after I got more realistic about it years ago, I expected to be). I don’t particularly enjoy my job. I don’t have a house. A lot of those status markers haven’t happened for some reason or another. It can be frustrating, but I also know I’m far from the only one who’s missed out on those so far, and that if I keep hustling on the ones that are important to me, hopefully I can make a few of them happen over the next one to twenty years. While the road has definitely forked away from where I assumed it was going when I graduated college at twenty-three, this hasn’t been bad land to explore, and I’m still looking forward to pressing on and seeing what’s over the next hill.

After all, there have been a lot of good things. I have a wonderful boyfriend who is sweet and supportive and still very much his own independent person. I’ve got a bunch of goofy reptiles in my life, with a couple more on the way. (And if you’d told me 5 years ago that was something that would be happening, I would be very surprised as well as confused about why a time traveler would spend their time on that particular detail.) My apartment fits my needs, I’ve got a roof over my head, and I don’t have to worry about where my next meal is coming from. I’ve got some great friends, both in the writing community and outside of it. I’ve managed a few publication credits, and I’m finally getting (relatively) close to the finish line on the rewrites of my lil doorstop fantasy novel that have taken forever. I even have health insurance, though I have to pay for it out of pocket who knows how long it’ll last given the new administration. There’s a lot of privileges there, and I’m trying to stay aware of and be thankful for them as much as I can.

Autumn leaves along a sidewalk on an overcast day.So, yeah. 28. It’s just another year, just another tick on the chart. I may not be where I wanted to be, but I’m not in a bad place, either. I’ve got some stuff I want to work out, some stuff I want to change. But I think I can manage that. I certainly hope I can. And if it takes a little longer than I expect? That’s okay, too. (Goodness knows I have enough excellent, awesome friends who are older than me to not fear getting older in and of itself.)

Here’s to my year of being 28. I hope it’s awesome for me, and more important, I hope it’s awesome for all of you. Thanks for being there for me, and I hope I can be there for you when you need it, too. <3

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Checking In

The state of things for the last while has been a bit chaotic, so I thought it might do me some good to write a quick [Narrator voice: it was not quick.] check-in post and let y’all know how I’m doing. (And you should tell me how you’re doing! Let us channel our inner Livejournalers together.)

Writing

Editing on The Shivering Deeps has been going a little slow, but it’s going. I’ve been working on rewrites lately, and thus drafting new words, but I fell off the end of my current outline so now I need to figure out where the next chunk of the story is going. I have a feeling a lot of what I’ve been writing is going to get cut in the next draft, but I’m still happy to be giving this book a lot more breath and life than it had after it was first chopped off of the other half of the Doorstop draft.

I haven’t been doing well in terms of submissions. Most recently, like a dummy, I thought that Fireside submissions closed today instead of yesterday. So that was embarrassing. I’ll get ‘em next time! Two of my stories are still searching for homes, but I haven’t sent them out in a bit. I think I need to get each of them out to some new markets today.

I’ve also got a few short story ideas kicking in the wings, but I’m not sure I want to let myself work on them until after I’ve finished this batch of edits/rewrites on The Shivering Deeps. I’m worried I’ll lose my excitement over them, but I’m sure at least a few of the concepts will still hold together and get me fired back up. Hopefully. (And if not, there’s always more ideas out there, right?) Continue reading

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Have Fire, Will Travel: Part 1

At the encouragement (read: fun stories) of some friends in a Slack I’m in, I decided to jump back into Skyrim. (The Special Edition, on PC, and unmodded, for those of you keeping score at home.) And what better way to bring you all along on this adventure than a series of Let’s Plays? With that in mind, let’s begin.

We start the game with at atmospheric, incredibly slow carriage ride (see up top). Then there’s some with a dragon and potential executions and Helgen getting destroyed, but screw that. That’s not important. What is important?

This guy. Awesomenus Lizardus Maximus, who is also Spartacus. By which I mean K’lathan. I ran with an Argonian because I will always run with Argonians until I die. I’ve decided this time around (read, seconds after I took this screenshot) to make a mage, because I’ve never done it before. Also killing things with fire sounds fun, and the potential for mayhem with imprecise spell casting is not to be underestimated.

 

I rolled with Hadvar on my way out of Helgen, because the Stormcloaks are xenophobic dicks and I don’t want to deal with that. Besides, I’m totally innocent of whatever the Imperials think they caught me doing, so clearly I have nothing to fear. No one has ever, EVER been executed for a crime they didn’t commit before. Ignore that moment twenty minutes ago. Anyway, Hadvar’s nice! After our little adventure he tells me to go Riverwood, then proposes splitting up. I’m like “fuck that,” and run with him. Which mostly means I get a great view of his back.

Well, at least he looks great in a leather skirt.

 

I stop a few times to just take in the scenery. This is a beautiful game, and though the special edition’s new coat of paint can’t completely mask the age of the engine, there’s still a lot of beautiful landscape to be had.

 

We make it to some standing stones, and I, $charname, finally get to make a decision: do I want to be a fighter, a mage, or a thief? Truly the most subversive choice in any Western RPG. Regardless, I choose mage, cementing my semi-impulsive decision made while running down the road with Hadvar.

Hadvar then immediately says “Well, to each their own.” Hadvar, you shade-throwing bastard. I LOVED YOU. But now you’re off the list and are on my middle tier of potential victims for a magic apocalypse. So, you know, we’re still friends. I’ve just acknowledged you’re flammable.

 

On the road, we are attacked by wolves. Because nothing attacks humans more than one of the more intelligent species of animal that really just want to go eat a deer. Anyway, I help Hadvar by setting them on fire, and they die almost as terribly as this screenshot’s legibility.

 

Finally, Riverwood! Civilization.

 

Hi, Hadvar’s Uncle, sir. I have already forgotten your name, but thank you for your kindness and hospitality. I’ll just be—oh, wait, you want me to what? Deliver a message? Sure, that sounds easy enough. Though it is urgent. Time to book it out of town without engaging with any of its residents! Meep meep! * dust cloud *

 

I also continue my career as an amateur postcard photographer.

 

On the road I find an elk, and do as all right thinking folk with magic fire at their disposal would do. I try to set it on fire. It escapes into the river, showing a remarkable amount of tactical acumen.

 

This rabbit proceeded to hop directly in front of me, and I was more successful. Strangely, I then looted a raw rabbit leg from it. What’s the point of fire magic if you can’t charbroil your enemies and then eat them?

 

Oh, right, THIS is the point. Take that, wolves!

 

A nice sunset appears!

I get my first view of Edoras Whiterun.

 

Oh shit, the fuzz! I bail off the side of the road and down the hill rather than risk catching up to them wearing a uniform looted from their barracks. Also, Hadvar, MY ONE AND ONLY FRIEND IN SKYRIM, told me to lay low until I could get my pardon confirmed by General Tulius. I fully expect this to be followed up on by him in a timely manner, so I’ll stick to his advice.

 

In a nearby field a local metal band is attacking a giant, and I join in, because flamehands. Aela gives me compliments and suggests I might want to try The Companions. Which, I’d have given a different name to your metal band, but I guess that works. I’ll check it out! Maybe! How much fire can I use?

 

Heading into the city I ask Bjorlam the Cart Bro about the city. I learn that there’s conflict between two families, and I should keep out of it. DONE.

 

I also find an escaped NPC from The Witcher.

 

The family conflict meets me at the gate, in the form of one of them demanding a ridiculous number of swords from the local blacksmith. She puts him in his place before accepting the job, and seems badass. I hope she will be my friend.

 

THE FAMILY DRAMA CONTINUES, in the form of one kid threatening the other for his money. Good, start ’em young.

 

Lars, despite being a pushover, is weirdly forthcoming when a strange adult lizard comes up and asks him what he does for fun. Climbing to the top of the Dragonsreach is pretty badass, kid. Don’t let your dad tell you what to do! Climb up there and find more birds eggs! Live life on your own terms!

 

What a nice garden you have. Full of flowers.

 

WHICH ARE NOW MINE.

 

I head up to the fortress to deliver my message, and Irileth comes at me with steel drawn. So that’s great.

 

As I explain myself, the game takes a moment to rotate my view and make sure I really admire that floor texture.

 

The Jarl’s a chill dude! I deliver the message, he has a little freakout and argues with his staff, and then he gives me a reward. Perfect. I’ll just be going–

 

No, wait! I don’t want to do anything else for you! I’m just a messenger! LET ME LEAVE.

Dammit. Now this bozo wants me to go find a stone tablet down in some ancient crypt. Are you even going to pay me? How will a stone tablet help you fight dragons? Why should I care? Does it let me throw more fire? He does give me a lead on a mage’s college, though, which I appreciate.

 

As I leave, fully intending to let Farengar find some other stooge to send to his death in search of something that might not even be there, I’m pleasantly surprised to find Irileth doing her job incredibly promptly. Fear not, Riverwood! These guards will help you evacuate and limit the number of you eaten by any passing dragons. To, like, six, probably. So half the town. Better than all of it!

 

I am sure these symbols were left by local youths and have nothing to do with any guilds whatsoever. Wait, did they also carve that into the rock?

 

I finish up the night by renting a bed, and falling asleep to the dulcet tones of the local bard singing about the Age of Aggression…

 

A song I then wake up to six hours later. Way to party all night, Whiterun! Look at those sweet moves!

Posted in Have Fire Will Travel, Let's Play, Writing About Games | 1 Comment

With A Little Help From My Friends

Since the events of that last post, it’s been a bit of a rough week. While I no longer feel like my heart has been torn from my chest and ripped in half in front of me, there’s still a definite subtle-but-constant sadness going on. There are moments where it gets worse, but at least I’m now I’m more able to focus on the positive memories.

I’ve been getting a lot of help from the other wonderful animals in our household, so I wanted to talk about them a bit. Getting to know them better and their sweet personalities has been a good way to keep myself busy and heal a bit as I process Chrysanthemum’s death.

Jerry the leopard gecko looking at the camera while standing next to a big stick.

Bugs?!?

First we have Jerry, our geriatric leopard gecko. He is adorable and we just moved him up into the upstairs bedroom so it feels less lonely in there. I have also decided that he must be very wise, given that he is seventeen, so hopefully he will have plenty of sage advice for me. He also gets hilariously intense whenever he realizes there might be delicious bugs for him to eat, so watching him take a meal is always fun. Continue reading

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