Labor Day Weekend 2014 – Back to Universal

It’s Labor Day weekend which means it’s time for our annual mini family vacation over in Orlando. We haven’t been to Universal Studios in a few years so we’re looking forward to seeing all the new stuff (Diagon Alley, Minion Mayhem, Transformers, etc.). The weather might interfere with our plans, however, as there’s an 80% chance of rain both days. :-(

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WIJFR: Masters of Doom

Doom, the video game in which you navigate a dungeon in the first person and messily lay waste to everything that crosses your path, represented a milestone in many areas. It was a technical landmark, in that its graphics engine delivered brilliant performance on ordinary PC hardware. It was a social phenomenon, with individuals and companies hooking up networks specifically for Doom tournaments and staying up for days to blast away on them (well before the Internet went big-time). 

I just finished reading “Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture” by David Kushner and am itching to hook up some old PCs and do some deathmatching. Who’s with me?

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Dell XPS 18

????????????????????????????????????????????????????? Our family laptop (an hp Envy 14 Beats Edition) has taken a beating (no pun intended!) over the past few years and recently (thanks to be carried around by the screen by my daughter) the LCD has gone wonky, requiring a bunch of futzing to get the display to work properly.

The recent tax-free weekend here in Florida (for back-to-school) was different than in years’ past in that the first $750 of a computer purchase would be tax free. This seemed like a good time to get a new family PC before the new school year started so I did some quick research and ended up with the Dell XPS 18.

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Monty Python Live (Mostly) simulcast

“It’s …”

This afternoon I went to my local theater to see the live broadcast of Monty Python Live (Mostly) from the O2 Theater in London. I’ve been a Python fan ever since some friends introduced me to “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” back in high school and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see their last live performance.

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Dropcam Pro

Dropcam Pro

More cameras as my replacement project continues! I’ve been using the TRENDnet TV-IP422W cameras inside for the past few years but really hadn’t been using their pan-tilt-zoom features. Rather than replace them with fixed, high-resolution PoE cameras like the TV-IP572PI and continue to possibly overload my ZoneMinder installation, I decided to give the Dropcam Pro a try.

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WIJFR: Trojan Horse

It’s two years after the Zero Day attacks, and cyber-security analyst Jeff Aiken is reaping the rewards for crippling Al-Qaida’s assault on the computer infrastructure of the Western world. But the West is under its greatest threat yet. A revolutionary, invisible trojan that alters data without leaving a trace – more sophisticated than any virus seen before – has been identified, roiling international politics. As the trojan penetrates Western intelligence, and the terrifying truth about its creator is revealed, Jeff finds himself in a desperate race to reverse it as the fate of both East and West hangs in the balance.

I just finished reading “Trojan Horse,” the sequel to “Zero Day” by Mark Russinovich.

Russinovich’s second techno-thriller reunites security analyst Jeff Aiken and now-girlfriend/business partner Daryl Haugen as they attempt to track down the latest threat to global security: a trojan horse, of unknown origin, that is subtly altering documents at the United Nations. The trojan is only accidentally discovered when it crashes the word processor of a UN employee authoring a critical document regarding Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

The first part of the book, as Jeff and Daryl pick apart the trojan’s code and attempt to trace it back to its authors, is full of the low-level technical details you’d expect from Russinovich after reading “Zero Day.” The second half is an international chase across Europe, the Middle East, and even China, as the depth of the conspiracy is revealed.

The inclusion of  recent technological threats, real-world events, and a healthy dose of the Stuxnet trojan make “Trojan Horse” a gripping, if not slightly scary, read.