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Life

The OnlyFans Hack

While scrolling through recent posts at Twitter earlier this evening I noticed that “OnlyFans” was trending. Knowing that a couple of friends have accounts there, I wondered what might be going on, so clicked on the link.

According to the thousands of tweets that poured down the screen, the OnlyFans website had been hacked – somebody had downloaded terabytes of photos and videos from the site.

I headed for Google News next, and searched for the story – and found a couple of citizen journalism websites reporting a massive data breach, including account holders personal information.

It took me literally two minutes to find the source of the story – a public MEGA archive that was being shared around (that anybody with any search skills whatsoever could find). If you’ve never seen MEGA, it’s a secure file sharing platform on the internet created by “Kim Dot Com” – an entrepreneur that got into rather a lot of trouble with the authorities about fifteen years ago after giving people the ability to share files privately with each other (private enough that the platform operators couldn’t discover what was being shared if they wanted to – let alone the police). Just GUESS what people OF COURSE used it for…

Anyway.

I had a look in the MEGA archive. It turns out it is NOT a breach or hack at all. Some colossal idiot has spent a great deal of time curating stolen glamour content from anywhere and everywhere they could get their hands on around the internet, and shared it all via MEGA – 1.6 terabytes of it.

The photos, videos, hacking, stealing, sharing, or whatever isn’t what annoyed me. The thing that annoyed me was all the people jumping on the story on Twitter, either believing it without question, or (and this is even worse) trying to profit from the story in some way – dangling access to the archive as a carrot to attract attention to themselves, writing breathless posts about the supposed drama, or attempting to troll any known account holders with mean, hateful attacks about the end of their online career.

Why are people so bloody horrible ?

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Life

Stupidly Fast

I’ve been sitting in the junk room staring at the screen for the last ten minutes, wondering what to write. I’m in the slightly curious situation of trying to switch off after a busy day, but not being able to share any of it, because it’s all work stuff.

What have I been doing other than work and chores ?

Maybe today would be a good time to admit that I found myself watching videos on YouTube about the Riemann Hypothesis, and Ptolemy’s Theorem. I’ve always liked mathematics – I’m not sure why. I’m not particularly good at math, but I love watching skilled teachers break down problems.

I suppose there are some parallels there – I work as a software developer, which is really all about problem solving. Sure, it’s also about understanding the nature of the machine, or the operating system, or whatever application you’re talking to – but beyond that it’s about problem solving – lateral thinking – logic.

Computers are stupid, but they are incredibly fast. A really fast idiot will beat a really slow genius every time – by brute force. A couple of weeks ago, inspired by a video I saw online, I wrote a small program to solve Sudoku puzzles. It takes about a tenth of a second to solve them – and appears magical until you realise it tried about fifty thousand different numbers in the empty squares of the puzzle in that tenth of a second.

As much as we might complain about our computers chugging from time to time – taking time to open an application, or to do whatever else – it’s easy to forget just how damn fast they are. The latest consumer graphics chips process somewhere in the region of 500 billion operations per second. That’s how fast they are.

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Life

Returning to Stormwind

While talking to a good friend on the internet a few days ago, they mentioned playing World of Warcraft, and I realised how long it’s been since I last played it. Literally years. After re-installing it over the weekend, I am trying not to fall too deeply into it’s relentless grip.

There’s a story here. Back in the day – when World of Warcraft first appeared – I kept away from it for years. I know what I’m like, and I knew the game would be the end of me. I heard horror stories from friends at the time that they knew people that had given up their job so they could play it more.

It seems laughable now, but back then World of Warcraft was a huge deal. You only have to read contemporary accounts, such as Felicia Day’s wonderful autobiography, “You’re Never Weird on the Internet”, to realise how big an impact it had – and is still having.

I’m trying to keep myself to playing it for no longer than an hour or so at a time, and to just have fun with it. There’s a huge temptation to stay up all night though, and to set off on the kind of damn-fool adventure that Bilbo Baggins would have been proud of.

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Life

Just About Surviving

I walked to work today, and probably will tomorrow too unless . My trusty bicycle is locked up outside the office – it will get pushed home this evening, and an attempt made to repair the punctures in it’s tyres tomorrow morning before setting off for work once more.

It’s getting to the point where I’m considering buying a new bike. I need new tyres, new inner tubes, a new rear hub, new crank, new chain, new brake blocks, and possibly a new saddle (the existing one is falling to pieces). I can’t complain though – I’ve had the bike since early 2016 – in that time the only thing I’ve had to spend money on has been new tyres. That’s somewhere in the region of 1800 miles of commuting to and from the office in all weathers for about �300 – so �0.16 per commute.

I could get it fixed, but I imagine it will cost as much as a new bike once you add all the parts and labour together (a new rear hub generally means a new wheel).

We’re spending so much money on things at the moment though – we just signed up to have the windows replaced around the house – something we have been planning for years. We also need to replace the cooker, which as been slowly failing for years (we can’t complain – it’s 20 years old), and we also have somebody replacing the kitchen lights in the coming weeks. It’s all money, and it all adds up. Oh – did I mention part of the fence in the back garden disintegrated in the storms of the last few weeks? We had a workman in today starting on the job – he finishes hopefully on Wednesday. More money.

At the start of the year we thought we were actually in a good place for the first time in years, and then slowly but surely things have happened to remind us that no, we will never be in a good position – we will always just about survive.

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Life

Read the Damn Books

Given all the news stories being circulated today about Katherine Johnson – one of the women portrayed in the recent movie “Hidden Figures”, I have been wrestling to stop myself writing an enormous rant against the movie industry, and the willingness of the general public to accept the version of stories told in movies as any sort of “truth”.

The institutional racism portrayed in “Hidden Figures” didn’t exist at NASA by the time Katherine Johnson worked on the Mercury program. Hell – the Kevin Costner character didn’t even exist – he’s a pastiche of three real-world characters, and a backstory of political and commercial wrangling that’s worth a movie in it’s own right. The ages of several key characters (including John Glenn, Mary Jackson, and Katherine Johnson’s own children) were shifted by more than a decade in the movie. I could go on.

The book the movie is based upon (as ever) is a different story – a much more truthful story – which is far more complicated, and far more interesting.

It reminds me a lot of “The Immitation Game”, about Alan Turing’s work at Bletchley Park. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie with so many blatant lies in it. The base commander head-hunted Turing to work at Bletchley, Joan Clarke didn’t do the Time crossword to get the job, there was no spy in the hut, there were many more than one hut, the name of the first code breaking machine was “VICTORY”, not “Christopher”, there was no debate about using the information they decoded, there was no brother of a code-breaker on a ship… it was all garbage.

Of course then there’s “A Beautiful Mind” – the movie about the mathematician John Forbes Nash Jr. The book by Sylvia Nasar is wonderful, and paints a far more complete and complex picture of a troubled individual than the movie dared. Where were the failed marriages, attempted renunciation of citizenships, and homosexual encounters in the movie? Erased by Hollywood.

If you want to know the real story, read the books. Always read the damn books. And read more than one of them to get different perspectives of the events that really happened.

I you’re interested in the Mercury through Apollo era at NASA, “First Man” is very good (and again, nothing like the movie), “Flight” by Chris Kraft is insightful, and “Failure is not an Option” by Gene Krantz is great too – as are “Moon Shot”, and perhaps the most readable of the bunch – “A Man on the Moon”, by Andrew Chaikin.

Apologies if this comes across as a nerd-rant of sorts. I’ve read a LOT about this period of history, and sometimes think the truth matters – unlike a lot of the journalists who seemed to research Katherine Johnson by watching the damn movie.

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Life

Boxing, Beer Festivals, and Rugby

My ever-reliable body-clock went off at 5am this morning – I rolled over in bed, pulled on the headphones I had prepared the night before, and listened to free radio coverage of the boxing match between Wilder and Fury from Las Vegas. Of course by breakfast time a multitude of people had shared the “live” fight on YouTube, which should give anybody considering pay-per-view pause for thought.

Anyway.

Miss 16 has already left the house this morning for a rugby training session and hour and a half away. I’m accompanying Miss 14 to her training session, which also happens to coincide with a beer festival at the rugby club, and live coverage at the club of England playing in the “Six Nations” rugby tournament.

I’ve already been warned that I’m not allowed to drink too much – not that I would have, because I have work in the morning.

Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go and wrangle children, and throw a few things in a bag. I need to get some cash out too – funds for bacon sandwiches at the rugby club 🙂

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Life

Falling into the Weekend

I’m going to write a novel, where there is a department that gives out certificates for grown-ups who have succeeded in adulting for an entire week. I’m thinking there could be different levels of certificate too – from outstanding and consistent sensibleness, through “not being found out”, to some sort of “at least you turned up” trophy.

I would probably be the person that never gets any of the awards, and tries not to look to bitter as the usual suspects walk up to receive theirs every damn week.

Anyway. What’s been going on since yesterday? (because of course you want to know about every waking moment of every day I get through as we hurtle around the sun on this ball of mud).

After working from home throughout yesterday while my nose attempted to block itself solid, I somehow found myself recording and editing podcasts until 2am this morning. In the grand tradition of everything I do, I had to re-upload one of the episodes three times, after realising I had made all sorts of mistakes in post-production. I really am my own worst enemy at times.

I told the world about the podcast today. Ok, maybe not the world – but I posted in public on Facebook about it. I imagine some people probably dropped their spoon in their cornflakes – wondering if I could get any more nerdy. Actually – thinking about it – I didn’t post the note until after lunch, so the likelihood of them eating cornflakes after lunch is pretty remote. You never know though – I’ve eaten cornflakes for supper in the past.

Somebody I used to work with kept a box of cornflakes under his desk in the office – or at least he thought he did. Unfortunately an intrepid scout-mouse had discovered the box of delights at some point, and emptied it across the floor. For weeks afterwards we had mouse traps around the office, but never caught anything. I imagine the mouse exploded after eating a kilogram of cornflakes.

I’ll shut up now.

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Life

Slowly Sinking

Brace yourself. This blog post is going to consist mostly of random paragraphs covering each thing going on at the moment – mostly because I can’t be bothered to manufacture any kind of structure prose around the chaotic nonsense that tends to surround me.

The cheap office chair I use in the study seems to be slowly sinking – a little at a time, until I begin to question if I am shrinking, or the world around me is getting bigger.

It’s raining outside – the beginnings of a storm called “Dennis” that is sweeping across the country. If reports are to be believed, we may wake up tomorrow to a post-apocalyptic landscape. I’m hoping the devastation will be contained to a few big puddles, and perhaps some branches blown across the garden.

I am home alone, save for Miss 16. She is holed up in her room, gazing endlessly at her phone, surrounded by a world of clothes and assorted rubbish. I looked in on her earlier and asked if she might tidy up a bit. Her immediate response was loud, angry, and fierce – the usual reply to any request you get from a teenager when it involves any effort at all. I wonder if she realises that the habitability of her bedroom is directly linked to being allowed to use the computer in the study to play “Fortnite”? I’ll let you know how spectacular her reaction is when it happens.

My other half is out with the other daughters (that sounds like the title of a pulp fiction book – “the other daughters”) looking at light fittings for the lounge. We are paying for an electrician to replace them – mostly so my other half can see what she’s doing while knitting and watching television at the same time. Don’t ask me how she’s able to do that – I struggle to hold a conversation while doing up my shoelaces.

My mobile phone is slowly dying – or rather the battery within it seems to be. I could replace the phone entirely, but that means money, and there’s a distinct shortage of that around here at the moment – on account of just signing on the line for all the windows to be replaced throughout our house. If I do manage to wangle some money to replace it, I have my eye on a possible handset. If not, I’ll get a basic handset to carry around with me (so my family can text and call), and use my work phone for all things “social”.

Back at the start of 2018 I retreated to a basic phone for 6 months, and surprised myself with not really missing the various bells-and-whistles a modern smart-phone brings. Given that I use a Bullet Journal to organise my life, it’s not that big a jump backwards for me – and may even help force me back towards getting some “proper” writing done.

I really am my own worst enemy when it comes to writing. I love the idea of writing some huge rambling magnum opus, but also know that I can spend twenty minutes writing a few paragraphs, and post them to the blog instantly. It’s the literary equivalent of verbal diarrhea, isn’t it.

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Life

A Mountain to Climb

I’m working from home for the next few Fridays – with a break in the middle of the day to accompany my eldest daughter to a regular appointment to help with her anxiety. On top of that it’s Valentines Day – so I’ll be expected to acquire flowers from somewhere – and we also have a guy booked to service our heating.

Somehow – during the time I’m going to try to get something done, I’m expected to pull a rabbit from a hat and deliver what might usually take three or four days in one day – the same day where I’ll be attempting to not drop the ball with everything else.

I rarely bring work home with me – I certainly never talk to my other half, or the children about it. I’m not sure they would understand any of it anyway – and of course the flip-side is they never discover how much pressure I’m sometimes under. Yes, the pressure is often self-imposed, but it’s there, and it’s not much fun.

I have a mountain to climb tomorrow.

I think an early night might be in order such that I get an early start on the mountain in the morning.