Minority Opinions

Not everyone can be mainstream, after all.

Archive for May 2012

Username Multiplication

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My default usernames have been drawn from two sources: the email address dictated by company policy at my first job, and the nickname granted by my first roommates at college.  Unfortunately, those aren’t always available, particularly for more popular services.  Today, for example, I was asked to sign up for a service used by several of my co-workers.  It’s not purely online, so I don’t blame them for not using OpenID or related technologies; it has been around and popular for several years, so I have only myself to blame for not collecting “my” username early.  The real surprise was that everything I could think of was taken.  Other variants of my name, the domain given to me by a friend years ago, the pseudonym I’ve taken on a family blog, everything.  On a previous occasion, I’ve used part of an MD5 hash, but that was for something far less social; this time, people I know will see and perhaps search for my username, so it needs to be fairly friendly.

KeePassX to the rescue.  I have been using it and LastPass for password management, and now wonder how I ever managed before.  Not only are my passwords generally more secure these days (even though this new service limits passwords to 20 characters and disallows spaces), but they keep track of my usernames, as well.  With some services using email addresses as usernames, and a few sites from my early years with even more ridiculous usernames, that’s more important than I had expected.  I also get to keep track of the unique email addresses I use for each site, and the answers to security questions used by financial institutions for an aura of security.

My new username comes from the Pronounceable tab of KeePassX’s password generator, set to only use lower-case letters.  Even then, it took a few tries to find one that I liked, and that came up with no relevant hits on a web search.  I might have tried for something even better, perhaps using a Markov chain word generator, but I’m satisfied enough with this one to consider using it for other things.  Perhaps I’ll use it to name a program; there’s value in being easily searchable.

On the other hand, perhaps its dubious pronunciation might come back to haunt me.  I know one person still trying to make money off a site that nobody spells correctly after hearing the name, and can easily see something similar happening here.  We’ll see.

Written by eswald

29 May 2012 at 5:46 pm

Posted in Technology

Impressions of PCLOS

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I’ve been fortunate to collect a few cheap or free computers from organizations that no longer needed them.  At the end of 2010, I obtained one with a freshly-wiped hard drive, and decided to try a new Linux distribution.  After some quick research, I settled on PCLinuxOS.  I had already tried Red Hat, Knoppix, Linux From Scratch, Ubuntu, Mint, and openSuSE to various degrees, with Ubuntu having squeaked out LFS for the majority of my time.

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Written by eswald

22 May 2012 at 10:37 pm

Posted in Linux, Technology

Disposable Carbon

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I’ve never been quite certain what to make of global warming.  On the one hand, there seems to be a fair amount of evidence for it, and a plausible mechanism by which we might be causing it.  On the other, each datum of evidence is a bit squatchy, having passed through too many hands that might have tampered with it, and the time period for which we may have been doing anything is miniscule in geological scale.  For my part, I’m about to ramble about the rise of dinosaurs.

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Written by eswald

15 May 2012 at 10:43 pm

Posted in Lifestyle

Eschewing Health Insurance

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One of my cousins was caught up in the tea party movement before reaching legal voting age.  This came to my attention mostly in the form of dangerously ignorant Facebook posts.  Among other things, there was something to the effect of, “But if I don’t want health insurance, I shouldn’t have to have it.”  Congratulations, you’ve demonstrated exactly why ObamaCare included a provision to extend the age range for coverage of children; far too many would otherwise lack it during a critical phase of life.

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Written by eswald

8 May 2012 at 9:50 pm

Posted in Lifestyle, Politics

Flipping the Flow

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I once had trickle-down economics described to me while riding in a car.  I had heard it before, of course, and something had always felt a little off about it, but it wasn’t until I read a Cracked article, of all things, that pieces really started to come into place.  One of the big keys is that economics as we know it is far less trickle-down than siphon-up.

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Written by eswald

1 May 2012 at 10:39 pm

Posted in Lifestyle, Politics