That marketing email database that exposed 809 million contact records? Maybe make that two-BILLION-plus

(www.theregister.co.uk)

An unprotected MongoDB database belonging to a marketing tech company exposed up to 809 million email addresses, phone numbers, business leads, and bits of personal information to the public internet, it emerged yesterday. […] Today, however, it appears the scope of that security snafu was dramatically underestimated.

One of the common patterns that I’ve seen with marketing firms (primarily in Japan) is that the tech is usually controlled either by someone fresh out of school with very little real-world experience, or by a marketing person who knows just enough about tech to be dangerous. We should all operate under the assumption that no marketing company has adequate protections on their data.

Ramming truck into garage an attempt at vigilante justice, says Crown

(www.thespec.com)

A woman who drove into a house garage with a man working inside tried to exact vigilante justice and deserves a strong jail sentence, according to a Crown prosecutor. […] Hurren had faced an attempted murder charge that was later reduced to mischief endangering life. But on agreement in court, she instead pleaded guilty to mischief over $5,000 for ramming her pickup truck into the garage and trying to set it and another vehicle on fire.

Love can make people do strange things …

Thinking of Hamilton

Over the last couple of years I've been remembering a lot from my time living in Hamilton. Be it the early memories before my parents split, those forged during the seven years my father and I lived on the east side, or the three years after college where I lived first in a basement, then in an over-priced apartment on "the mountain"1. As with any place where a person spends many of their formative years, there are a hundred stories I could tell that would reveal just how much of a fool I used to be and how little I've changed over the years. What's interesting is that I moved from Hamilton to Vancouver in 2002 because a lot of what happened to me while living in that city after college was seen as vastly more negative than positive. Time heals most wounds, though, and reading the local paper every couple of days shows what's changed as well as what's remained the same. As odd as it is for me to say, I would really like to go back for a little bit to roam around the city, show Reiko and the boy some of the places, and see for myself how the city has evolved over the years2.

Hamilton Street Railway Bus 781 (1976)

Growing up, I would see a lot of buses painted like this. The yellow paint has long since been relegated to highlighting the white and blue scheme that's in use today.

While attending college in 1998 and 1999, I met a man who had just moved back to the Hamilton area after living in Japan for 15 years. From 1983 to 1998 he lived near Osaka and taught English at a number of schools. Upon returning to Canada with his wife and son after the Great Hanshin Earthquake, he found that there was nothing he was qualified to do. He did enjoy working with computers, though, so went back to school to learn new skills and acquire certifications. He and I would often talk tech and work on various projects together. I'd ask him questions about Japan and he would ask about local businesses that had moved or closed down over time. The Hamilton he recognized was gone, replaced with the one I knew. A few months after finishing school, he still hadn't found any meaningful work and his wife had run out of patience with Canada. The family packed up and returned to Japan3.

While there's little chance that I'll move my family halfway across the planet to Hamilton4, I wonder what sort of reverse culture shock I might experience if we were to visit. The demographics of the city have changed quite a bit in the last two decades as have some of the landmarks, but there would still be a lot of history carried forward into the present. The college that I attended has long since changed location. The downtown commercial district doesn't appear to be a dirty, abandoned place anymore. The places I've lived still exist. The schools I attended are still standing, one of which has been converted into a retirement home, oddly enough. The awful traffic and fun-having spots haven't changed, either. Would I feel the same way about the city today as I did in the early 2000s? Probably not. The city has changed and so have I.

Reiko and I have talked about visiting Canada at some point when the boy is old enough for cross-world travel. When we do make a visit, I will aim to spend at least a month in the country. This would give everyone time to acclimate to the very different time zones as well as visit some of my family with a less-rushed schedule. Ideally we would fly to Vancouver, spend a few days there, rent a car, and drive east. This would give all of us an appreciation for just how large the country is while visiting friends and family along the way. Should I have the opportunity, I'll make an effort to spend some time in Hamilton just seeing how the place has changed. A number of family members still live there, so it wouldn't be too difficult to fit in some visits to the old stomping grounds along the way.


  1. The city of Hamilton has a 100-metre-high escarpment running through the middle of it so that there is a Lower-Hamilton and Upper-Hamilton. Nobody refers to the city this way, though. Instead they say "on the mountain" if it's part of Upper Hamilton.

  2. This is "odd" because I generally do not miss places.

  3. I have no idea where he is now. He does not seem to have an online presence at all … unless he's confined to Facebook or Twitter.

  4. I would consider moving back if The Boy wants to attend one of the many university campuses in the city.

That Time I Stayed Up All Night ...

It's interesting what the mind can do when focused on a task. Every so often I'll find myself so engrossed in an activity that six hours can pass as though it were no more than a handful of minutes. This just happened tonight, where I sat down at 10:00pm to do some priority data work for the day job only to finish and see that the clock was about to strike 4. WIth just three hours remaining for sleep, I wonder if it will make sense to get any rest at all.

Yeah … I think three hours would be much better than zero. Fortunately insomnia is not something I've had to contend with yet this year.

Zuckerberg says Facebook is pivoting to privacy after year of controversies

(www.theguardian.com)

For 15 years, Facebook has pushed, prodded, cajoled, lured and tricked billions of people into sharing the most intimate details of their lives online, all purportedly in service of making the world “more open and connected”.

On Wednesday, the company’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg put forward a new idea: doing the opposite.

Liar.

A Face Full of Pollen

Yesterday's weather was so nice after a couple of days of rain that just about every house in the neighbourhood had laundry hanging outside to dry. This house was no exception, as several baskets of clothes went through the washing machine and onto the line in the yard. Included in this laundry were pillow cases and pyjamas so that every recently worn article of clothing would be fresh and ready to go the next time we needed them. A noble goal that was achieved by mid-afternoon. There was just one little consequence of the nice weather: pollen.

Busy Bee

This week has seen my allergies flare up to a degree I haven't experienced in several years. Eyes so itchy that they feel dry despite the tears. A nose that can't decide whether it wants to run or plug up solid. A throat that is forever parched regardless of how much water, tea, or coffee I consume. How is a person to contend with such an above-the-shoulder assault? On Sunday I broke down to pick up some Contac allergy pills from a nearby pharmacist and these have helped immensely during the day. The recommended dosage is two pills twice a day. These things do not give me 12 hours of coverage, which means that there is a clear gap somewhere in the day. If this morning is anything to go by, the opportunity for attack is about quarter after three in the morning.

To the best of my knowledge, never have I woken up by sneezing. This morning made it clear that such a rude awakening was not only possible, but transferable between dreams and reality. One moment I was standing in what looked like a Home Depot looking at trees and seeds for the yard, feeling a tingle in the nose to warn me that the body was about to convulse, and the next moment I'm laying horizontally in a semi-fetal position pulling in a bunch of air in preparation for a sneeze. Given that two other people sleep in the same room, finding a way to sneeze quietly while still trying to understand where in creation you might be is no easy feat. The sneeze wound up being directed into the crook of my arm, which had the added benefit of a slight muzzling of the unconditioned reflex. Two more followed up in quick succession, and I made my way out of the room so that people could continue to sleep while I stumbled around in the dark in search of relief.

My nose was clogged beyond belief. My eyes itched so bad I wanted to tear them out of my head. My throat was so dry it felt like sandpaper. And more sneezes were on the way.

Because the boy is intensely curious about everything, medicine is kept far from his reach. I made my way past the safety gate into the kitchen and grabbed the box of Contac. Tempting as it was to consume the entire supply in a bid for more immediate results, I took just two pills1 with water and waited.

And waited.

And waited some more.

An hour later the body was starting to feel almost normal again. Not wanting to wake Reiko or the boy, I stayed downstairs the whole time, but sleep was beckoning and a 6:00am teleconference would be no fun without just a little more rest. So, as I wasn't sneezing anymore, I went back upstairs to climb into bed. Sleep never returned, but I did get to listen to the morning traffic while killing time before the morning meeting. The pillow case that was likely responsible for giving me a face full of pollen didn't cause any more problems during this time, but I'm not taking any chances tonight. I'll take two pills right before bed and hope that there isn't another repeat of this sleepless adventure.


  1. Two pills is the recommended dosage for an adult.

Time for More Holidays?

An odd thing has happened at the day job over the last few weeks: I've run out of work. There's still plenty to keep me busy while on the clock, but this isn't necessarily the best use of the company's money. So rather than use my time for the day job, it may be worthwhile to take some days off and spend time with the family and 10Centuries. Quite a bit has been done with some of the more recent updates on the 10Cv5 beta platform. The Anri blogging theme is just about done, the Social theme just needs a few more tweaks, and the Admin theme … will likely be incomplete at the time the system launches. Fortunately there will not need to be a complex administration interface just yet.

The Anri Theme

One of the features I'm looking forward to seeing used is the custom RSS feeds. People who subscribe to a v5 site through an RSS service will get the posts that appear on the landing page based on what the site owner has chosen. However, visitors who want to have just the social posts or just the quotes and bookmarks will have the opportunity to do so through the RSS page. With this, people will have the ability to create a custom RSS feed. What's more, if a person is signed into a site, they'll have the ability to see "Follower Only" posts that will not be visible in the public feeds. All of this will be controlled with a series of toggles, which will then generate a unique RSS feed URL that presents data in XML or JSON format. Even if this is something that few people will use or care about, it's a feature that I've wanted for quite some time.

A number of my static sites have been moved over to the v5 platform already, and later this week I'll be taking the plunge and moving this site with all of its content over as well. While my personal blog does not see an enormous amount of traffic, it does see a fair bit more than the average 10C-hosted site. This is most likely due to its age and update frequency1, but it will certainly be a decent test of the home-based hardware I've prepared to host the service. I'm really looking forward to seeing how well everything performs. So long as the server keeps up its end of the bargain, the entire 10Cv4 platform will be migrated to v5 in short order. The migration scripts have already been written and tested. The home server has 4TB of dedicated storage for the service waiting to be used. And I am growing more impatient to release this updated system with each passing day.

When it comes time to think about a 6th version of the platform, I'll try to keep my mouth shut in public spaces until it's pretty much ready for release.


  1. I'll have more to say on this topic next week.

After 40 years in solitary confinement, activist Albert Woodfox tells his story of survival

(www.theguardian.com)

My wrists were handcuffed to my waist by a leather strap. These restraints would become standard for me for decades to come. They walked me to a car and I got in. A captain next to me started elbowing me in my chest, face, and ribs. They drove me to a building just inside the front gate that housed the reception center and death row. Inside was a cellblock called closed cell restricted, or CCR: another name for solitary confinement. In the stairwell they beat me viciously. I couldn’t fight back or defend myself because of the restraints …

This was quite the read. While reading through Albert Woodfox's struggles, I was reminded of Jordan Peterson's 12 rules, and the importance of taking on as much responsibility as is bearable in order to find meaning in life. When a person spends 40 years in solitary confinement, it may seem impossible to be granted any responsibilities at all, but it can happen. Albert persevered where most men would have crumbled.

Joplin as an Evernote Replacement

Evernote used to be one of the main tools I used to keep myself organised. With this software I could keep track of medical receipts, write blog posts, plan lessons1, and accomplish a myriad of other objectives. Unfortunately, Evernote started to have way too much friction in its interfaces near the end of 2013. By October of the same year I had given up trying to use the tool on mobile devices. While I did make an effort near the end of 2013 to use it again, the software just proved to be too cumbersome and I left it behind.

Since then I've used a bunch of different tools in an effort to have what Evernote used to be around 2010. Microsoft's OneNote has tried hard, but their file formats leave much to be desired and I am not too keen on the layer-over-layer effects when trying to type and edit plain text notes. A couple of other tools I can no longer remember the names of tried as well, often coming across as just a plaintext editor with some ugly tabbing in place to simulate notebooks. They all went away as well. I've tried using simple text files, which works great for text, but this generally starts to get too complicated when I'd like to attach an image or audio file to a note. Just because I write notes with Markdown formatting does not mean that I want to first convert the files to HTML before reading them. There must be a better way.

Bryan Lunduke

A week or so ago I was listening to an episode of The Lunduke Show and the question came up of what sort of FOSS2 alternatives there were for Evernote. Bryan wasn't aware of any that came close to what Evernote had to offer, but had some pretty decent ideas. One that really stuck out in my mind was to use something like LibreOffice's Open Document file format in order to have something rich like is found with Evernote, as this would enable embedded files and similar sorts of rich content. This is something I haven't considered and liked the idea quite a bit. That said, someone in the comments suggested using a tool called Joplin, which seems to be a very stripped down version of what Evernote used to be, with the added bonus of being able to sync with Nextcloud.

Joplin - The First Blog Post

While the application has only been installed on my machine for twenty minutes, I like what I am seeing. It's simple enough for me to jump right in, and the fact that it speaks Markdown natively is a huge advantage over competing products. Now I don't have to invest the time to create something on my own that would likely just be an incomplete solution to a complex problem3. Depending on how difficult it is to edit the Markdown parser, I might just invest a little bit of time to help it understand 10C's footnote formatting.

No promises on when this edit might be available for others to use, though.


  1. I would often plan most of my lessons back when I would teach for a living. My lesson plans would take into account the materials and the different goals of the students, which usually meant that "cookie-cutter" classes just wouldn't be very interesting. By planning some customizations, students might pay more attention and get something out of our time together.

  2. Free & Open Source Software

  3. People don't realize just how complex a good note-taking tool needs to be to accommodate half the problems of half the people. This is why there are a billion different text editors available online.

Five Things

Another Sunday, another summary. Seven days have passed since the previous list, but I feel it’s been much longer than a week. This misinterpretation of time is not necessarily a bad thing. The last few years have flown by rather quickly. I will be very happy to enjoy a slower routine for a while.

A Better Markdown Parser

On Friday I invested a couple of hours to integrate a “better” Markdown parser into 10Cv5, but yanked the code out when it was discovered that the thing would not parse as advertised. The key area of pain was with footnotes, which is something I make extensive use of in both blog and social posts. Regardless of what I tried, the new library refused to consistently parse the footnotes in any reasonable manner. So, deciding it would be better to just code the updates I wanted myself, I extended the current Markdown editor in v5 to handle footnotes with inline links as well as footnotes with multiple paragraphs. I had to stay awake until 1:30 in the morning to get the thing working, but it works:

Markdown Footnotes with Features!

Expecting …

Last Saturday the family and I attended a neighbourhood disaster preparedness course at the nearby elementary school. Most of the retired people in the the area cane to practise building tents, carrying injured people, and securing appliances to walls in the most hideous manner possible. One of the outdoor “attractions” was a truck that would simulate an earthquake of varying magnitudes for anyone foolish enough to get on. I declined the opportunity to relive 3/11 but have been feeling phantom quakes ever since.

Wanted: An Ubuntu-Powered Galaxy Note

I make no secret of my preference for Ubuntu Linux. The OS is installed on every notebook and server I use. That said, I would really like to have it a my phone as well. What I would really like, more than any sane person might believe, is a Samsung Galaxy 9 with Ubuntu. I would do the heavy lifting of making a UI and having the thing frustrate me less as time goes on, but this is what I would really like. The Galaxy Note 9 has a decent camera, a decent screen, and a pen that would let me relive the days when PalmOS was the mobile operating system of champions.

Sadly, this will probably never happen.

Breathing Slightly Better

Despite my protests, today I managed to get some Contac Plus to help relieve the itchy eyes, runny nose, and endless sneezing. The package insists I taken4 pills a day, but I’ll limit it to just two for now. The body doesn’t get medicine very often, so I’m thinking less is more. So far the theory is holding true, but I don’t know if the same will be true on a sunny day. Some trial and error will be needed here.

Sounding Like My Father

The older the boy gets, the more of my father I hear. Tonight there was a little too much playing at the dinner table, so out came the “dad lines”; sentences that barely make any sense outside of their current context. Things like:

  • Your plate is not a frisbee
  • If we wanted you to have rice in your tea, we would have made you ochazuke1
  • You’re not a dog, so don’t eat like one

At some point I’m probably going to start swearing like my father used to, as well. I certainly hope not, though. There are some things the boy does not need to repeat.


  1. A Japanese meal that actually consists of rice in a bowl of tea