My Life on the Road: Accidental Rocket Sighting

In April, my wife and I returned from a few months in Mexico, to Texas. We were planning on hanging around until the end of the month before driving back up to Canada. On a particularly hot day, we thought it'd be nice to take our pooch to the beach so that she could cool off. Landlocked as we were, in Mission, we opted to drive east, to the coast. We considered South Padre Island, but seeing the traffic thicken the closer we got, we opted out at the last minute. Instead, on the advice of a fella we met while pulled over for a few licks of an ice cream, we set our Garmin to direct us to Boca Chica. The beach was beautiful, we were told, and no one cares if your dog plays the goof, provided she doesn't bother anyone else.

We were sold.

It wasn't a long drive, but it was a damn flat one. When we arrive in south Texas each year, I'm always thrilled to see the scrub brush, flatlands and palm trees. It's a completely alien world compared to what I grew up with in Canada. By the time we're getting ready to head north, I long for mountains. As the miles down the lone road to Boca Chica clicked by, I starting to whine that I knew what would be around the next corner... it would be flat and dry, with just a hint of dust, just as with the last corner we'd whipped around. Read the rest

More than 20 Texas cities and towns have been taken hostage by ransomware

The American ransomware epidemic shows no signs of slowing, as the confluence of underinvestment in IT and information security and the NSA's reckless stockpiling of computer vulnerabilities means that petty criminals can extort vast sums from distant municipalities by seizing their entire networked infrastructure. Read the rest

My Life on the Road — Staying Still

I've been back in Canada since May and I am certain I am losing my mind. It's a certainty that takes hold of me, every year.

We come home because we have to. As Canadians, we can only stay in the Untied States for a maximum of six months at a time. This past year, we stayed just shy of five months in the United States and, another two, down in Mexico. We drove back across the Canadian border with a few days left to spare. This dates-in-da-States wiggle room is important as I sometimes have to head south for work. I'd rather not get into dutch with U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Being back in Canada for half the year is , a must if we want to hold on to our sweet-ass socialized medical care (which we totally do.) and for my wife to return to work. While she's a certified dive instructor, she also loves the land-locked gig she works for half of the year. We also come home because we want to. I have few friends and work remotely. Disappointment and distrust have left me happy in the small company of my partner, our pooch and a few well-chosen friends that I seldom see. My missus? Not so much. Community is important to her. Her sister's family—now my family—means the world to her. Reacquainting herself with her people, each year, brings her a happiness that I try hard to understand. I love to see her light up around her friends. Read the rest

Houstonites! Come see Hank Green and me in conversation tonight!

Hank Green and I are doing a double act tonight, July 31, as part of the tour for the paperback of his debut novel, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing. It's a ticketed event (admission includes a copy of Hank's book), and we're presenting at 7PM at Spring Forest Middle School in association with Blue Willow Bookshop. Hope to see you there! Read the rest

Frontier: if you don't buy your router, we'll charge you a rental fee; if you DO buy your router, we'll charge you a "support" fee

Frontier bought out Verizon's FIOS business in Texas, California, and Florida; some of Verizon's (former) customers had shelled out $200 to buy their routers rather than endure the indignity of being charged a monthly rental fee by Verizon -- but now, Frontier is charging them a rental fee even though they're not renting a router. Frontier says that this is because supporting third-party hardware costs them so much that they have to charge a fee to recoup it. Read the rest

Houston! Come see Hank Green and me on July 31

I'm coming to Houston on July 31 to appear with Hank Green at an event for the paperback launch of his outstanding debut novel An Absolutely Remarkable Thing: we're on a 7PM at Spring Forest Middle School (14240 Memorial Drive, Houston, TX 77079); it's a ticketed event and the ticket price includes a copy of Hank's book. Hope to see you there! (Images: Vlogbrothers, Jonathan Worth, CC-BY) Read the rest

Texas Instrument's post-#taxscam budget for financial engineering is $5B -- triple its budget for actual engineering

The Trump #taxscam was supposed to create jobs by handing $1 trillion in cuts to multinational corporations and one percenters, who, we were promised, would put that money into R&D, business development, and other job-creating initiatives. Read the rest

LED traffic sign in Texas displays witty warnings of global warming

While some who saw this variable message sign in Houston though it had been hacked, it's actually a roadside art installation by Brooklyn artist Justin Brice Guariglia. Read the rest

Brass knuckles are now legal in Texas

Texas governor Greg Abbott signed a bill into law "relating to the criminal consequences of engaging in certain conduct with respect certain instruments designed, made, or adapted for use in striking a person with a fist." The law strikes "knuckles" from a list of prohibited weapons that a person can't "intentionally or knowingly possesses, manufactures, transports, repairs, or sells."

The Texas Penal Code defines "knuckles" in this context as "any instrument that consists of finger rings or guards made of a hard substance and that is designed, made, or adapted for the purpose of inflicting serious bodily injury or death by striking a person with a fist enclosed in the knuckles."

From CNN:

Rep. Joe Moody, a Democratic legislator from El Paso who sponsored the bill told the Texas Standard... "A young woman who has a keychain for self defense, certainly fits the statute of knuckles. And she was arrested for that."

Supporters of the bill argued "knuckles are primarily a defensive tool," the summary says, and shouldn't be associated with "explosive weapons, machine guns, and other prohibited weapons."

The law comes after lawmakers previously removed switchblades from that same banned list in 2013.

"Law abiding Texans who carry knuckles, perhaps as part of a novelty key chain, should not be vulnerable to jail time for possessing a legitimate self defense tool," the summary says.

"It's now legal to carry brass knuckles in Texas. Because, 'self-defense'" (CNN)

image: uncredited via Wikipedia Read the rest

The awful true story of Diana Jean Heaney, and the "hitchhike slaying"

Burbank librarian Sarah McKinley Oakes (proprietor of the excellent Remains of LA blog, which reviews all of LA's surviving grand old restaurants and dives) uses her excellent librarian skills to take a deep dive into the tragic tale of Diana Jean Heaney, whose first mention in print was in a 1947 article on the notorious "Black Dahlia" murder, but only to mention that Heaney was definitely not a victim of the same murderer. Read the rest

Houston! I'm at Comicpalooza all weekend!

I'm one of the guests of honor at this weekend's Comicpalooza festival in Houston, Texas: in addition to my keynote and signing, you can catch me at panels on copyright, robots and AI, cyberpunk, copyright (again!). Read the rest

Halifax! I'm speaking at Atlseccon on April 24 (then Toronto, Ottawa, Berlin and Houston!)

I'm coming to Halifax to give the closing keynote on day one of Atlseccon on April 24th: it's only my second-ever visit to the city and the first time I've given a talk there, so I really hope you can make it! Read the rest

Texas lawmakers want Death Penalty for women who get abortions

They're pro-life, you see.

Beto O'Rourke was in the Cult of the Dead Cow and his t-files are still online

Investigative tech journalist Joseph Menn's (previously) next book is a history of the Cult of the Dead Cow (previously) the legendary hacker/prankster group that is considered to be "America's oldest hacking group." Read the rest

Where to catch me this weekend at SXSW

I'm heading back to Austin for the SXSW Interactive festival and you can catch me three times this weekend: first on the Untold AI panel with Malka Older, Rashida Richardson and Christopher Noessel (5-6PM, Fairmont Manchester AB); then at the EFF Austin Party with Cindy Cohn and Bruce Sterling (7PM, 1309 Bonham Terrace); and on Sunday, I'm giving a keynote for Berlin's Re:Publica conference, which has its own track at SXSW; I'm speaking about Europe's new Copyright Directive and its dread Article 13 at 1PM at Buffalo Billiards, 201 East 6th Street. Read the rest

Trump Border Wall: Texans vow to fight eminent domain, historic chapel threatened

Donald Trump's border wall vs. the historic La Lomita church in Texas, which dates back to 1852.

Texas indicts '3D gun guy' Cody Wilson for child sexual assault, 'Defense Distributed' founder faces 20 years in prison

Wow, never saw that one coming. The print your own guns proponent is a creep.

In Texas, '3D gun' guy Cody Wilson has been indicted on multiple counts of sexual assault against a minor. Read the rest

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