Book List 2012 – Flipnosis

Flipnosis - Kevin Dutton

I just wanted to talk a bit about another book that I had time to thumb through at the airport before flying back to Stuttgart. It’s called Flipnosis: The Art of Split-Second Persuasion, by Kevin Dutton. I just managed to read a few pages and it was ok. But, I am not sure if it would be better than another great book with a similar theme, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, by Robert B. Cialdini. I read Influence three years ago. In addition to presenting various cases, Cialdini tries to explain the reasoning behind people’s subjection to persuasion. Hence, it felt complete and I had a great time reading it.

Influence - Robert B. Cialdini

On the other hand, Flipnosis reads like an accumulation of many examples of persuasion, at least that’s the impression I have right now. Hence, I will reserve judgment until later. Regardless, I just wanted to put it out there. If, for some reason you come across Cialdini’s Influence, indulge yourselves. It is a great book. I will update this post when I am done with Flipnosis. A funny exchange in the Introduction gave me a good chuckle though. I am sure that some of you would know it already, but I read about this for the first time. It went something like this:

Flight Attendant: " Mr. Ali, please put your seat belt on, we are about to take off."
Muhammad Ali: " Superman don't need no seat belt!"
Flight Attendant: "Superman don't need no airplane!"

Hopefully, I can find the book at my favorite bookshop and read more tomorrow. More on this later.

Beep X11 Font – Another Mod of Neep

Let us continue with the X11 font series. This font is called Beep. Again, it is a mod of Jim Knoble’s Neep. A few characters modded according to personal taste, like, “a” and “i”. This is a pixelsize 11 font and comes only in medium version. So don’t try to use it in the bold form or another pixelsize. It’s a bit bigger than Dweep and can be used on a relatively higher resolution screen without any issues. As usual, I have uploaded the font to my github. Please click on the image to get to my github.

Beep X11 Font - Mod of Neep

This is a screenshot of the font in action on a 1600×900 screen. Click on the image for full view.

Beep in action FreeBSD 9.0-Release

As it must be evident, most of my fonts are just minor mods here and there. I will release a font that I have made right from scratch next month. I have to think about a kickass name first. If you need any other information, please let me know using the comment feature.

Showcase Wallpaper and More

Now that I am back in a secure, faster network, I can post the wallpaper as promised. As mentioned earlier, the picture was taken at Bell Labs in New Jersey. The year was 1966. It was taken by the photographer Elliott Erwitt. The picture is full of win and awesomeness, if you ask me. Anyway, click on the thumbnail for full view.

Bell Labs - New Jersey - 1966 by Elliott Erwitt

You can go here for more.

On a related note, you guys are probably familiar with Intel Museum. It gives you a fascinating view of life and research at Intel during the early years. If I travel to the States, visiting the museum will be right on top of my priority list. Look at one of the pictures from the archives. How awesome is this? Miniskirts FTW! It’s like Star Trek Yeoman’s, only this time in all white ensemble. Click on the picture to go to gizmodo for an article about Intel fashion scene then.

Miniskirts are the bomb!

I particularly like one comment over there at gizmodo. Grindhouse Murders commented that she is Snooki’s mom! LOL!

Marathon Mod Showcase Contd.

Thought of adding another screen with Marathonmod in action. Window Manager is Fluxbox. OS is FreeBSD 9.0-Release of course. The fluxbox theme is a mod of Absurd theme. I am using the Xoria256 color palette on my terminal. The font has been released in my previous post and it points to my github from where it can be downloaded.

Marathon Mod in action

This wallpaper is one of my absolute favorites. It’s not from a bio weapons research lab or a deleted scene from The Shining (It is one helluva film!). It’s from Bell Labs, 1966. Everything works in this picture, the “WTF are you lookin at punk?” look, the glasses, the creepy hallway and much more. I will post the wallpaper and some related stuff tonight. The current network I am on is crapping all over the place.

If you are interested in the animation series in the screenshot, it is one of the funniest series ever, Harvey Birdman – Attorney at Law. The references to pop culture, politics and being extremely funny at the same time made this series stand out. Perfect animation with loads of adult humor. The guy you see here is Phil Sebben from Sebben & Sebben (Stephen Colbert was beyond awesome in this series man!).

Note: I would just like to say one thing about the font. It might be too tall or the character variations might be too much for some of you. I had the same feeling about the font when I started out. But it kinda grew on me.  This is particularly obvious with the semi-condensed version shown in the screenshots. The normal version isn’t that extreme. Besides, I had posted earlier that I am just releasing all the fonts that I have created over a period of time, regardless of their aesthetic appeal.

Marathonmod X11 Font – Nucleus Family

pf hacking went great. Just filed a test report with my friend. Slept well. Long day ahead. Anyway, I would now like to release my third font. It is called Marathonmod, which is again a minor mod of Marathon from the nucleus font family. It comes in two variants – normal and semi-condensed. What you see on the screenshot is the semi-condensed version. It’s a tall font with a minor height difference between alphabets and numbers. Some special characters are not available, but it will be worked out in the next release. It never strained my eyes and I never had a problem with multiple head setups.

Now, without further ado, here is a screenshot. Note the marginal height difference between the letters and numbers. Click on the image to go to my github page, where the font is hosted.

Marathonmod X11 Font

Here is another screenshot with the font in action. ScrotWM on FreeBSD 9.0 amd64.

Marathonmod Font in Action

Chocolate milk and candy bars beckon – Breakfast for Champions! Till then.

Through the Looking Glass

This was the fortune output on my machine just a few moments ago. Why do I relate to this so much?

“No program is perfect,”
They said with a shrug.
“The customer’s happy–
What’s one little bug?”

But he was determined,            Then change two, then three more,
The others went home.              As year followed year.
He dug out the flow chart         And strangers would comment,
Deserted, alone.                          “Is that guy still here?”

Night passed into morning.      He died at the console
The room was cluttered            Of hunger and thirst
With core dumps, source listings.    Next day he was buried
“I’m close,” he muttered.            Face down, nine edge first.

Chain smoking, cold coffee,    And his wife through her tears
Logic, deduction.                        Accepted his fate.
“I’ve got it!” he cried,                 Said “He’s not really gone,
“Just change one instruction.”  He’s just working late.”
        — The Perfect Programmer

How many of you folks have spent countless nights wide awake either programming, testing or debugging? And cursing like a champion the whole time. I actually have lost count. It always starts like this – One bug, and once you catch it, you review the code again and then, you somehow feel that a certain function is called in the shittiest way possible. One thing leads to another and by the time you are finished, you realize an hour had passed by since you had begun, but it’s the next day! But the feeling you get once the issue is solved is something that is much more satisfying than an explosive orgasm! Not to forget the obligatory cursing, celebrating the conquest and partying with a hot coffee and a cigarette. 😀 Reminds me of the following picture relating the number of curses with code quality.

Absolute Truth!

It’s another perk of being single after getting your ass dumped by your ex in Starbucks after three years without any explanation (Had to rub it in, sorry. Feb 9th would be the first anniversary of the Starbucks core dump). You don’t give a damn about when you go home and can spend a major part of every Saturday in a comic book shop arguing for DC against Marvel fanboys and party when you feel like it! Awesome, I say!

By the way, have you guys slacked off while programming? I have. My excuse has always been the classic, “Code is compiling” and I am waiting for it to be finished. Although, most of time, it was true. Just wanted to remember that again.

I have to stay out of the way

Alright, I have slacked off too long. Back to some pf testing on OpenBSD-Current with another slacker.

Stderr – zsh

Zsh is a great shell that simplifies a lot of tasks and brings in a ton of features (if you intend to use a load of modules and shell functions that is). For instance, the live command coloring capability is pretty awesome. The following post is just a simple illustration of a simple, single line added to my .zshrc and what it does.

When you type in a wrong command, the shell will throw a stderr command not found. The output would be the same color as the foreground color that you use on your terminal (The command color is red here because of live command highlighting – More on this at the end of the post). Like this:

Stderr - Default

But, wouldn’t it be nice to color the output as well? I want my colors man. See what I mean?

Stderr - Colored

All I had to do was add a line in my .zshrc on my BSD boxes.

Line in .zshrc

It should be self-explanatory I guess. Here’s the entry again for you Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V ‘ers.

exec 2>>( while read X; do print "\e[91m${X}\e[0m" > /dev/tty; done & )

With live command coloring, colored stderr is repetitive though. Since, typing a wrong command would automatically let the command stand out in red, indicating that it is not a proper command. But if you don’t want live syntax highlighting, the above feature would be of use.

Book List 2011 – Special Entry: Go Rin No Sho

Miyamoto Musashi

If you don’t know about Miyamoto Musashi, then there is no reason to live! He was a rōnin, a samurai warrior without a master. He is renowned for his swordsmanship and numerous battles with other warriors. It is absolutely fascinating to read about his life and the way he went about conquering others with his strategy and skill. Anyone with even a marginal interest in martial arts must read about Musashi and his teachings.

Go Rin No Sho or as it is famously known as The Book of Five Rings is not just a book about martial arts or the technique of the sword. It is a book about strategy and tactics. Musashi talks about his early life and then expands on his self learning. He talks about strategy being the key element of the warrior mindset. Various aspects of strategy are presented in the five books, Ground, Water, Fire, Wind and Void. Each book talks about the preparation of the warrior and emphasizes strategic thinking, timing  etc.

Go Rin No Sho - The Book of Five Rings

I have read this book earlier. But I read it again last year, so thought of mentioning.

Overall, this is a book that you would consider as one of the most important books in your book collection. Give it a shot and see for yourself. This book is used extensively in business as well, since the strategic aspects discussed can be used in any form of profession. Besides, it is Miyamoto freaking Musashi we are talking about.

If you go to Japan, you would see the full extent of his influence. There have been multiple movies made on his life and his popularity is still intact. A fantastic documentary about Musashi aired on the History Channel sometime back. It gives you a quick introduction about the man and why his teachings are extremely valuable even today. It was hosted by Mark Dacascos. It is a must see. The full 88 minutes doc is available on youtube and am ebedding the video right here. Credit goes to ProcoTopoLoco.

I loved the documentary.

My Friday wear

Just a lame post before crashing. This is my traditional Friday wear (seen here in my old office). Scotty takes precedence when engaging in hardware hacks and Spock it is when coding. It’s a bit too much I know. But I don’t give a damn! I get superpowers, especially when putting the blue one on. Debugging always turns out more efficient 😀 Click on the image for full view.

My Friday Wardrobe

Good night folks and till tomorrow.

First Book 2012 – Ghost in the Wires

I just bought Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker by Kevin Mitnick. I read this book in one sitting over a few days back in a local book shop. It took six coffees (870 mg of Caffeine approx.), eleven cancer sticks (6.6 mg of Nicotine), death stare from a totally annoyed waitress and six and a half hours to finish. First, I decided to read just the first chapter and then come back later, but I was so hooked, it was very difficult to put it down. It’s an absolute classic. For those of you who have followed the entire Mitnick story or just interested in security and social engineering (who hasn’t done that? :D), this book is a definite read. That’s why I bought the book. It actually reads like a crime novel with a lot of twists and turns, and coming from the horse’s mouth, how can one ignore it?  If you are thinking about buying this book, stop thinking and buy it immediately.

Ghost in the Wires by Kevin Mitnick

On a related note, all the while reading the book, I couldn’t avoid thinking about creating a terminal color scheme based on the colors on the cover. I will put it out in a couple of days. Call me weird, but that’s me. These days, anywhere I see colors my brain automatically goes overboard trying to guess the HTML code. Should I see a shrink?

In honor of this book I am gonna wear one of my old T shirts tomorrow.

Social Engineering Specialist

You disagree?