• That Time We Paniced And Accidentally Made Killer Robots.

    What? Did you think I forgot? I would never forget to write a post for all of you who... okay, I did forget a little bit, but not like "day of the meeting" forgot. We had a talk lined up for you. Kevin was going to present this really interesting and insightful talk on a really complicated topic that I frankly know nothing about. Like this was going to be his masterpiece of presentations. The solution to all the worlds problems might have been in this talk. The answer to life, the universe, and everything! Even 42!

    Alas, I received a text today that he had taken ill, and would not be able to present. He says it's not serious, but how could it not be? With all the secrets this talk was to contain, foul play must've been afoot! So we must do the only honorable thing to do, and avenge poor Kevin! But how? How can we provide retribution, while simultaneously protecting him against any further machinations that may prevent the distribution of his valuable knowledge?

    By raising a robot army, of course!

    So here's the skinny. Earlier this past month I came across this programming game someone threw together, "basicbots". It's a text based battle bots type game, but instead of building physical bots, you code them in... wait for it... BASIC!

    I showed it to Bob, and said "Hey, wouldn't this maybe be a fun thing to do for a 2600 at some point?" Figured everyone could make their own bot, and we have a battle royal during the meeting. And there shouldn't be a barrier for novice coders because, well, it's BASIC. There's even some sample bots to start from.

    Like I said, we thought maybe we might do this sometime down the road, like when Bob and I were 100% out of ideas and/or time to put together a topic. Well it turns out we are breaking the glass on this just a little quicker than expected is all. Because guess what, with less than 24 hours notice, Bob and I were 100% out of ideas and/or time to put together a topic!

    Here's the tentative plan. Links to the app below, and anyone who wants to get a head start before the meeting is welcome to. During the meeting, we'll go over the guide on how coding the bot works, and if need be a crash course in BASIC. Everyone will get 30 minutes to an hour to code their bot. After that, we'll collect all the bots and run them on a computer hooked up to one of the big screens so we can all watch. I'll buy the winner a beverage of their choice (provided it's not some 1000 year old scotch or something like that). If the match happens to go quickly, we can give everyone a chance to tweak their bots and have another round. We'll see how it goes.

    This is also all contingent on that either Bob or I get the software working, because as of right now I haven't had a chance to test it.

    Anyway, here's the links for basicbots:
    Project page: https://misterunix.github.io/basicbots/
    Github repo: https://github.com/misterunix/basicbots
    Programming guide: https://github.com/misterunix/basicbots/blob/main/documentation/BASICBOTS.md

  • That Time We Paniced And Accidentally Made Killer Robots.

    What? Did you think I forgot? I would never forget to write a post for all of you who... okay, I did forget a little bit, but not like "day of the meeting" forgot. We had a talk lined up for you. Kevin was going to present this really interesting and insightful talk on a really complicated topic that I frankly know nothing about. Like this was going to be his masterpiece of presentations. The solution to all the worlds problems might have been in this talk. The answer to life, the universe, and everything! Even 42!

    Alas, I received a text today that he had taken ill, and would not be able to present. He says it's not serious, but how could it not be? With all the secrets this talk was to contain, foul play must've been afoot! So we must do the only honorable thing to do, and avenge poor Kevin! But how? How can we provide retribution, while simultaneously protecting him against any further machinations that may prevent the distribution of his valuable knowledge?

    By raising a robot army, of course!

    So here's the skinny. Earlier this past month I came across this programming game someone threw together, "basicbots". It's a text based battle bots type game, but instead of building physical bots, you code them in... wait for it... BASIC!

    I showed it to Bob, and said "Hey, wouldn't this maybe be a fun thing to do for a 2600 at some point?" Figured everyone could make their own bot, and we have a battle royal during the meeting. And there shouldn't be a barrier for novice coders because, well, it's BASIC. There's even some sample bots to start from.

    Like I said, we thought maybe we might do this sometime down the road, like when Bob and I were 100% out of ideas and/or time to put together a topic. Well it turns out we are breaking the glass on this just a little quicker than expected is all. Because guess what, with less than 24 hours notice, Bob and I were 100% out of ideas and/or time to put together a topic!

    Here's the tentative plan. Links to the app below, and anyone who wants to get a head start before the meeting is welcome to. During the meeting, we'll go over the guide on how coding the bot works, and if need be a crash course in BASIC. Everyone will get 30 minutes to an hour to code their bot. After that, we'll collect all the bots and run them on a computer hooked up to one of the big screens so we can all watch. I'll buy the winner a beverage of their choice (provided it's not some 1000 year old scotch or something like that). If the match happens to go quickly, we can give everyone a chance to tweak their bots and have another round. We'll see how it goes.

    This is also all contingent on that either Bob or I get the software working, because as of right now I haven't had a chance to test it.

    Anyway, here's the links for basicbots:
    Project page: https://misterunix.github.io/basicbots/
    Github repo: https://github.com/misterunix/basicbots
    Programming guide: https://github.com/misterunix/basicbots/blob/main/documentation/BASICBOTS.md

    1
  • Back To Partying Like It's 07CF!

    Arch Reactor

    September is our annual local 2600 PGP Key-Signing Party! Food, People, and Cryptography! What could be more fun?

    If you already have a PGP key-pair, bring the fingerprint with you and some ID so everyone can verify and sign your public key. The more people you can get to sign your key, the more trustworthy it is!

    If you have an android device, you can make things easier by using the OpenKeychain app:

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.sufficientlysecure.keychain

    That's the easiest way we've found to manage your keys. They support text input, QR code, or even NFC. There are some lesser iOS apps that will get the job done as well. And we'll have paper for those that want to keep it old school.

    If you don't have a key, don't worry! We'll be more than happy to help set you one up.

    Remember, it's also a party! Feel free to bring food and drink to share.

    Weather permitting, we'll try to grill and have things out on the patio, and maybe do some grilling. But since the mask mandate is still on in the City of St. Louis, best to bring one in case we are indoors. And as always, respectfully accommodate everyone's comfort levels regarding masks and social distancing.

    4
  • How A Lava Lamp Ruined My Zen.

    Arch Reactor

    I suppose it shouldn't be surprising. Surround yourself by chaos for a couple months, and you start losing your grip on reality. At least I think that's what happened. I'm really not sure anymore. I'm not sure how much of the following actually happened. Last month, Bob and I were going about our usual routine of shoving cats into boxes containing poison triggered by the decay radioactive isotopes. I was about to flip a coin to determine who was getting the next batch, when Bob brought up Cloudflare's wall of lava lamps they used for generating random data for encryption. We both marveled at what a clever idea it was and thought it might be fun to do our own. Seemed simple enough. After all, it's been done before so all the hard work must've have been figured out. Most we'd have to do is look up some stuff about "randomness" on Wikipedia, right? Besides, it would be a really good excuse for two middle aged men feel really out of place at a Spencer's in the mall.

    So that's what we did. We went to the mall, marveled at how we'd never had gotten away wearing t-shirts like that when we were in high school, and picked up some groovy decorative lamps. I setup a webcam so Bob could get all voyeuristic with the psychedelic illuminating appliances. While he did that, and presumably coded the software bits to this, I started brushing up on randomness, pseudo-randomness, statistics... Then on things like p-values, null hypothesis, and a little chaos theory... My vision definitely started to blur on chi-squared tests and Kolmogorov complexities.

    Basically I learned that this shit is hard. Or was it? I'm only sure that I'm not sure about any of it. But we are going to proceed anyway! If you want to learn how to make a random number generator out of a lava lamp, then come on by to the next STL2600 + DC314 meeting. I'm not going to guarantee you are going to learn how to do that. But I can promise you some real source code, and a whole lot of bullshitting my way through some mathematics that I'm going to do my darnedest to make sound convincing. Math experts and others who know more about this than I do are invited to come and heckle.

    In the meantime, I've got some new pretty color changing photon emitters to stare at. We'll do our best to stream it online as we have been. The URL will be: https://meet.jit.si/STL2600Aug

    Also, in accordance the City of St. Louis mandate, masks are going to be required for in-person attendance.

    1
  • How A Lava Lamp Ruined My Zen.

    Arch Reactor

    I suppose it shouldn't be surprising. Surround yourself by chaos for a couple months, and you start losing your grip on reality. At least I think that's what happened. I'm really not sure anymore. I'm not sure how much of the following actually happened. Last month, Bob and I were going about our usual routine of shoving cats into boxes containing poison triggered by the decay radioactive isotopes. I was about to flip a coin to determine who was getting the next batch, when Bob brought up Cloudflare's wall of lava lamps they used for generating random data for encryption. We both marveled at what a clever idea it was and thought it might be fun to do our own. Seemed simple enough. After all, it's been done before so all the hard work must've have been figured out. Most we'd have to do is look up some stuff about "randomness" on Wikipedia, right? Besides, it would be a really good excuse for two middle aged men feel really out of place at a Spencer's in the mall.

    So that's what we did. We went to the mall, marveled at how we'd never had gotten away wearing t-shirts like that when we were in high school, and picked up some groovy decorative lamps. I setup a webcam so Bob could get all voyeuristic with the psychedelic illuminating appliances. While he did that, and presumably coded the software bits to this, I started brushing up on randomness, pseudo-randomness, statistics... Then on things like p-values, null hypothesis, and a little chaos theory... My vision definitely started to blur on chi-squared tests and Kolmogorov complexities.

    Basically I learned that this shit is hard. Or was it? I'm only sure that I'm not sure about any of it. But we are going to proceed anyway! If you want to learn how to make a random number generator out of a lava lamp, then come on by to the next STL2600 + DC314 meeting. I'm not going to guarantee you are going to learn how to do that. But I can promise you some real source code, and a whole lot of bullshitting my way through some mathematics that I'm going to do my darnedest to make sound convincing. Math experts and others who know more about this than I do are invited to come and heckle.

    In the meantime, I've got some new pretty color changing photon emitters to stare at. We'll do our best to stream it online as we have been. The URL will be: https://meet.jit.si/STL2600Aug

    Also, in accordance the City of St. Louis mandate, masks are going to be required for in-person attendance.

  • Ever play fetch with a three headed dog?

    Arch Reactor

    It's like playing a shell game!

    So last month we got to meet in person for the first time in over a year. And if I do say so myself, Bob and I haven't missed a step. Pretty sure we stuck that landing. 10's across the board.

    Well I assume so anyway. I don't generally dwell on how the previous talks go. In fact I refuse to. That's why we run off to a bar afterwards. To immediately erase any memory of the event with copious amounts of booze.

    Well while we were out after last months meetings, I asked around "Well that went pretty alright, didn't it?" I was really just checking since I was already mentally dragging the backups to the trash icon. I guess Bill thought I was bragging or something, though. Because he was all like "You think that was great? Hold my beer!"

    Well, I did. Then he just up and left. I figured he'd be right back, but here I am the day before the next 2600 meeting and I'm still holding it. I was starting to think he's not coming back at this point. Even if he did, I'm not sure he'd want the beer anymore. It went warm weeks ago. It's watered down from all the rain, and it's definitely gone flat. So I texted him, "Bill? You ever coming back for this beer?"

    He acted like he didn't know what I was talking about. I explained to him that he had asked me to hold his beer, and just wanted to know when he was coming back for it. Turns out it was just a figure speech, though not one I've ever heard of before. Have you? Anyway, evidently Bill thinks we left a few things out in our talk about hosting your own single sign-on. Said he's going a follow up to our talk and completely show us up.

    Well jokes on him. Not only have I completely forgotten everything about last months talk, I've also completely forgotten the elaborate plan I concocted to subtly manipulate him into doing a follow-up talk in the first place. So take that!

    Anyway, according to my notes we talked about setting up a directory for your user accounts, integrating LDAP into some web apps, and Keycloak to manage your credentials. Well rather than logging in repeatedly to each system, Bill's going to take it a step up and leverage kerberos to log in once for multiple systems. Can't wait to see how that goes. Every time I've dealt with kerberos, it's been more confusing than a three-headed dog.

    This will be our second in-person STL2600 + DC314 meetup, and maybe not everyone is comfortable getting out and about yet. So we'll go ahead and also open up the virtual meeting for anyone that can't make it in person, at least for the time being. The URL will be: https://meet.jit.si/STL2600Jul

  • Ever play fetch with a three headed dog?

    Arch Reactor

    It's like playing a shell game!

    So last month we got to meet in person for the first time in over a year. And if I do say so myself, Bob and I haven't missed a step. Pretty sure we stuck that landing. 10's across the board.

    Well I assume so anyway. I don't generally dwell on how the previous talks go. In fact I refuse to. That's why we run off to a bar afterwards. To immediately erase any memory of the event with copious amounts of booze.

    Well while we were out after last months meetings, I asked around "Well that went pretty alright, didn't it?" I was really just checking since I was already mentally dragging the backups to the trash icon. I guess Bill thought I was bragging or something, though. Because he was all like "You think that was great? Hold my beer!"

    Well, I did. Then he just up and left. I figured he'd be right back, but here I am the day before the next 2600 meeting and I'm still holding it. I was starting to think he's not coming back at this point. Even if he did, I'm not sure he'd want the beer anymore. It went warm weeks ago. It's watered down from all the rain, and it's definitely gone flat. So I texted him, "Bill? You ever coming back for this beer?"

    He acted like he didn't know what I was talking about. I explained to him that he had asked me to hold his beer, and just wanted to know when he was coming back for it. Turns out it was just a figure speech, though not one I've ever heard of before. Have you? Anyway, evidently Bill thinks we left a few things out in our talk about hosting your own single sign-on. Said he's going a follow up to our talk and completely show us up.

    Well jokes on him. Not only have I completely forgotten everything about last months talk, I've also completely forgotten the elaborate plan I concocted to subtly manipulate him into doing a follow-up talk in the first place. So take that!

    Anyway, according to my notes we talked about setting up a directory for your user accounts, integrating LDAP into some web apps, and Keycloak to manage your credentials. Well rather than logging in repeatedly to each system, Bill's going to take it a step up and leverage kerberos to log in once for multiple systems. Can't wait to see how that goes. Every time I've dealt with kerberos, it's been more confusing than a three-headed dog.

    This will be our second in-person STL2600 + DC314 meetup, and maybe not everyone is comfortable getting out and about yet. So we'll go ahead and also open up the virtual meeting for anyone that can't make it in person, at least for the time being. The URL will be: https://meet.jit.si/STL2600Jul

  • One Login To Secure Them All...

    Arch Reactor

    One login to secure them all,
    One login to...

    Meh... I'm to exhausted to continue this pun. I feel like I just walked to Mordor or something. *rimshot*

    Just gonna jump right into it so I can get to bed. Bob and I have done a lot of talks about self-hosting your own webapps for your privacy and security. Well, we are doing another one! Shocking, I know. This time we are going to talk about setting up your own single sign-on service. One credential to login to all your self-hosted services. Hence the half-hearted attempt at a Lord of the Rings pun.

    We'll cover setting up a directory for your users how to tie that in with an identity management service. Also, provided I have time during my lunch break on Friday, maybe show you how to use it all with some of the other self-hosted apps we've discussed in the past. That way instead of walking through your list of passwords for 3 movies, you can just fly on the back of a giant eagle through your personal cloud.

    Yes, I acknowledge how completely tortured that last LotR reference was. And it has been every month for over a year now, the talk will be virtual with the URL of: https://meet.jit.si/STL2600Jun

    HOWEVER! That's because I keep posting these things so last minute and didn't want to leave anyone out. How do I mean? I mean Arch Reactor is opening back up and we are going to start having events in person again, starting with this STL2600 + DC314 meetup! So hopefully I can see you there in person.

    Here's hoping I remember how to put on pants when going out in public again!

  • One Login To Secure Them All...

    Online event

    One login to secure them all,
    One login to...

    Meh... I'm to exhausted to continue this pun. I feel like I just walked to Mordor or something. *rimshot*

    Just gonna jump right into it so I can get to bed. Bob and I have done a lot of talks about self-hosting your own webapps for your privacy and security. Well, we are doing another one! Shocking, I know. This time we are going to talk about setting up your own single sign-on service. One credential to login to all your self-hosted services. Hence the half-hearted attempt at a Lord of the Rings pun.

    We'll cover setting up a directory for your users how to tie that in with an identity management service. Also, provided I have time during my lunch break on Friday, maybe show you how to use it all with some of the other self-hosted apps we've discussed in the past. That way instead of walking through your list of passwords for 3 movies, you can just fly on the back of a giant eagle through your personal cloud.

    Yes, I acknowledge how completely tortured that last LotR reference was. And it has been every month for over a year now, the talk will be virtual with the URL of: https://meet.jit.si/STL2600Jun

    HOWEVER! That's because I keep posting these things so last minute and didn't want to leave anyone out. How do I mean? I mean Arch Reactor is opening back up and we are going to start having events in person again, starting with this STL2600 + DC314 meetup! So hopefully I can see you there in person.

    Here's hoping I remember how to put on pants when going out in public again!

  • Ergo, Concordantly, Vis a vis.

    Online event

    I know this is a last minute update, and I apologize. But Bob and I had a bit of a disagreement over the topic of this months presentation. Like he really went off the deep end. A few weeks ago he invited me over to discuss what we were going to present. I go over there and went I walk into his apartment he's sitting in the middle of the room in an office chair, pimped out in a white suit. And he's got a pile of CRT monitors precariously stacked behind him. Like he's about to lose a game of Jenga in the worst way precarious.

    I'm like "Dude... What's going on?"

    "Life is sum up the remainder of an unbalanced equation inherent to the programming that the eventuality of an anomaly that's a harmony of mathematical precision which- SHIT! I fucked it up. Can you walk out and come back in? Wait. Where are your sunglasses?! You always have sunglasses!"

    "Their in my pocket because we are indoors. What the hell is this?"

    "You are irrevocably human."

    "Fuck you! You're a human!"

    "DON'T INTERRUPT! As I was saying, some of my answers you will understand, and some of them you will not."

    "Right now we are pretty heavy on the NOT side of things."

    "Denial is the most predictable of all human responses..."

    "You better knock it off with that human shit and tell me what the hell all this is."

    "We are going to architect the matrix!" He starts making his way over to me with a floral dress and a curly wig.

    "I don't know what you think you are going to do with those..."

    "We are matrixing! Let's build a matrix!"

    "Like you want to do a fan remake for YouTube or something?"

    "No, I mean like a real matrix. Ergo, with people logged into it and stuff."

    "Ergo? Dude, I don't know where to start as to why that's a bad idea."

    "Think about it! Concordantly, it'll be completely under our control!"

    "Yeah, that's kind of how they work. And it didn't work out that well for the other guys. Also in those movies."

    "Nah. Vis-a-vis, trust me. Everyone will kind of be like their own server and all connected together."

    "First, you need to read the definitions on that word-a-day calendar. Second, you think everyone at the meeting is just going to be okay with this?"

    At this point, Bob gives me a funny look and my mouth starts to fuse shut. And for the record, when that happens the whole mouth fuses shut. Like the inside, with your tongue and everything becomes solid. But your teeth are also still there, embedded into the new mouth-flesh and it's a really fucking weird sensation.

    "Why wouldn't they all sign up? You can make it a full multimedia thing where everyone can see and hear each other."

    I mumble and grunt a bit.

    "We can have little AI programs too to help manage and moderate things."

    I pull out my phone and text him "You mean Agents?"

    His phone rings with someone saying "Would you like some candy?" He scoffs in frustration, pulls out his phone and checks it. Reads my message and says "You can call them whatever you want, I guess."

    Anyway, since I'm unable to verbally object any further he begins to show me on his desktop what he's doing. Turns out it was a big misunderstanding. The "matrix" he's talking about is a communication protocol. It's so you can self-host your own Slack or Discord clone. The whole thing with him wearing the suit is because it's laundry day and everything else was dirty. The pile of CRT's he collected from other tenants in the building and wanted my help taking them to get them recycled because I have a truck. He just thought we should continue on with Project Nephology and do more self-hosted stuff for the next STL2600 + DC314. Which is a relief, because I was getting worried I was going to have to download some kung-fu on him.

    AR isn't open just quite yet, so we are still holding the meeting online. I mean with Jitsi. I promise, we aren't sticking anyone in orange goo and using them to charge our laptops. At least not yet. Anyway, the URL is: https://meet.jit.si/STL2600May