The Mile High Blogging Club

So the other day:

Encrypted OTR chat initiated.
natfriedmani'm on an airplane

over the atlantic

they have wifi on these things now

this is unbelievable
jwzthat's pretty rad
natfriedmanit is so cool!
jwzis it porn-blocked?
natfriedmanhaha well and load so probably not
jwzif I ask you about the explosives and box-cutters, will you get a visit from the air marshall right now?
natfriedmanoh my god!

you bastard :-)

the guy next to me is so fat he can't put the arm rest down

i wish my camera weren't in the overhead bin

i would be webcasting this shit

the valium is on way too strong for me to do anything about that right now

And then today I read: Tracking Plane Flight on Internet

I just saw my plane cross the mid-Atlantic, not by looking out the window, but by watching routing updates cascade across the Internet. [...] I was able to see the mid-Atlantic shift because the plane I'm on withdrew its routes from the European communications satellites and re-announced them in North America.

The main problem that the Boeing engineers faced is that geostationary satellites are really high up. In fact, they are at least 300ms unidirectional latency all by themselves (that's aircraft->satellite->Europe).

So how did they solve it? They assigned a /24 (256 globally visible IP addresses) to each plane. They announce that network from the origin site (in my case, Europe since I took off from Germany). When the plane is between the two satellites and in view of each, it is programmed to re-connect to the North American satellite. So traffic is always getting to the ground the fastest it can, minimizing latency. In the example above, they were able to cut that latency in half by utilizing this strategy.

The IP addresses on the plane are all NATted, but the plane itself still has a visible /24 of address space.

About 2 hours west of Ireland, my connectivity froze for about two minutes. I had a ping running in the background and it just hung. I waited until it restored, reconnected to my screen session, and sure enough, colleagues at home reported massive routing change associated with that network: Boeing had withdrawn that prefix from their European ground station and advertised it from the North American one. This showed up as a change of origin alert as well as a series of announcement and path change alerts.

Previously, Timekeeping in the Interplanetary Internet.

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Current Music: Tricky -- How High ♬

"America's Army", meet "Infidel Online"

You're the Bad Guy Here

Tech-savvy militants from al Qaida and other groups have modified video war games so that U.S. troops play the role of bad guys in running gunfights against heavily armed Islamic heroes, a Defense Department official and contractors told Congress.

"What we have seen is that any video game that comes out ... they'll modify it and change the game for their needs," said Dan Devlin, a Defense Department public diplomacy specialist. [...]

The sites use a variety of emotionally charged content, from images of real U.S. soldiers being hit by snipers in Iraq to video-recordings of American televangelists including Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell making disparaging remarks about Islam. [...]

Battlefield 2 ordinarily shows U.S. troops engaging forces from China or a united Middle East coalition. But in a modified video trailer posted on Islamic websites and shown to lawmakers, the game depicts a man in Arab headdress carrying an automatic weapon into combat with U.S. invaders.

"I was just a boy when the infidels came to my village in Blackhawk helicopters," a narrator's voice said as the screen flashed between images of street-level gunfights, explosions and helicopter assaults.

Then came a recording of President Bush's September 16, 2001 statement: "This crusade, this war on terrorism, is going to take a while." It was edited to repeat the word "crusade," which Muslims often define as an attack on Islam by Christianity.

I understand that the traditional response here would be lol pwn3d!!1

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They are made out of meat

Terry Bisson's awesome short story has been filmed: They are made out of meat.

"I thought you just told me they used radio."

"They do, but what do you think is on the radio? Meat sounds. You know how when you slap or flap meat, it makes a noise? They talk by flapping their meat at each other. They can even sing by squirting air through their meat."

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awesome new Titan movies

NASA - Cassini-Huygens: Close Encounter with Saturn:
"New views of the most distant touchdown ever made by a spacecraft are being released today by NASA, the European Space Agency and the University of Arizona. The movies show the dramatic descent of the Huygens probe to the surface of Saturn's moon Titan on Jan. 14, 2005."

  • View from Huygens: a sped-up spacecraft-view of the descent.
  • Descent with bells and whistles: this one is cool in a very screen-saverey way: I especially like how they created an IDM soundtrack with a beat every time an image slice came in, and a background based on signal strength.

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DNA Lounge: Wherein you are issued a Chainsaw Totin' Hillbilly Advisory, and webcast whinging recurrs.

First of all, let me remind you that this Sunday is Creepshow Peepshow, our mid-year Halloween party (since having Halloween only once a year is just not often enough.)

The theme this year is "chainsaw totin' hillbillies", so y'all go get yerselves some cut-offs or overalls, ok?

It will be Legendary. Remember those other times when I told you you must come to this event and you didn't, and once you saw the pictures, you felt like an idiot? This is one of those times. Or rather, don't let this be one of those times. You know what I mean.

The webcast is still all fucked up.

While trying to fix it last week, we broke something else, and, well, remember this dingus? Well it turns out that, like so many things, it runs on pressurized magic smoke. And when you let the magic smoke out, it doesn't work any more. Getting the smoke back inside is really hard.

Me plus soldering iron, not always a good thing.

I'm thinking of making some changes to the way the webcasts work, in order to simplify things. Right now it goes like this:

  1. There's the archives page, where you can pick the event to listen to.
  2. When the club is open, the live MP3 streams and RealVideo stream play what's going on in the club.
  3. When the club is closed, both the live MP3 streams and the RealVideo stream re-play recent audio archives. (The Real stream still shows live video when we're closed, but its audio is from the archives.)

So my thinking is, nobody actually cares about those extra copies of the archives. If someone wants to listen to an archive, they'll go to the archive page, not just take their chances on whatever re-run happens to be playing on the "live" stream. So I'm planning on changing it to be like this instead:

  1. Archives page: as before.
  2. When the club is open: live MP3 and RealVideo: as before.
  3. When the club is closed: Live MP3 streams are silent. RealVideo has live video, but audio is silent.

Also, I'm not sure it's even necessary to provide MP3 streams that are less than 128k. It's the twenty first god damned century, nobody's on dialup any more, right? Last month, only 10% of our hits were for any live stream other than the 128k one, so I'm considering just doing away with the others.

If you find any of this objectionable, now would be the time to speak up.

Also, if you have a Mac G4 tower you'd like to give us, that'd be great, because I want to get the hell away from Linux for the webcasts, but the club is pretty much broke at the moment. It's been an unprofitable few months.