Monthly, 03/23

Another month went by quickly, and it was (again) an okay-ish 31 days.

  • My talk went .. eh. I couldn’t prepare as well as I would have liked to, and I felt like I completely ruined the topic, managing to make the (more or less) illicit sales of 0-days by companies to governments and spyware vendors boring to listen to, rather than keeping it as intriguing as it is. Nonetheless the feedback I received was overwhelmingly positive, and even if I deduct the general kindness of people when approaching you after I gave a presentation, I think it went as well as it could go. Still, I feel burned out from working on it, and I’ll happily take a break from public speaking for a while.

  • I had to format my work laptop. It sounds like a cliché, but with what it felt like every update the system became less stable - I can’t prove it, but I suspect that Unity was the issue. It regularly froze, bled memory and produced all kinds of weird bugs. Most of my configuration was version controlled, and I had working backups, so all in all the whole process took me about two hours. Switching to Debian made the system stable again (.. no, pun not intended), with the only downside being that addressing my screen through USB-C doesn’t seem to work anymore, which is acceptable. I just plucked the HDMI-cable from the adapter and plugged it into the “actual” HDMI-slot

  • A boring, challenging (because it’s so boring to me) paperwork-style project is finally progressing, and I hope to be able to finish it, or at least finish it to the point where I can mostly pass on the rest of the work to another party, by the middle of April. Which I’m very much looking forward to because it gives me the chance to, at least, work on more interesting things again.

  • One of my scripts gathering data about newly registered domains has been crashing regularly, which was harder to debug than I anticipated. I fixed the issue, and also spent some time pouring over the collected data. This led me to discover some odd patterns that felt “wrong” to me for a reason I can’t pinpoint yet. If I’m lucky / unlucky I might have come across a DGA at work, one that I wasn’t (for now) able to find any information about. I’m still working on this.

  • Finished major work on the digital library I host for friends and colleagues. Ensured that the container was regularly updated from now on, made the configuration for the reverse proxy reproducable and put some major effort into the organisation of the books themselves - successfully surpassing 1000 properly named and categorized books. 🎉

  • I finished most of the terrain that came in yet another box of Games Workshop “Kill Team” that I acquired. Burning through a shitload of paint with my airbrush was fun, but as much as the next box that’s already been announced looks interesting, I think I’ll pass on that one. I can’t see weathered metal walls anymore, and having three full boxsets of Kill Team without anyone to play with is kind of a waste.

  • I added another few words on a draft for a post that I have been working, on and off, for three months now. Every time I work on it I come up with more ideas what to put into it. I plan on publishing it in April, despite the fact that it will probably feel unfinished. But it’s already way too long and I want it out of my sight.

  • Last but not least: I decided to cut my attempts at getting back into a regular workout routine short by going ahead and just signing a year-long contract with a local boxing gym. I don’t exactly know why I did it, but maybe it was my body overruling my executive dysfunction by taking things into their own hand. Either way, I can’t decide if I am looking forward to being that kind of exhausted again or not.

I noticed that I felt a bit drained after spending most of February reading technical books as well as pouring in quite a bit of time into research for my talk (which was, again, mostly technical articles and papers), so most of my private reading for March was novels, which is uncommon for me.

Pretty much ever since puberty hit I have been physically unable to read novels. Even the ones that are arguably excellent and have been highly recommended by friends and coworkers, I simply can’t. It’s hard to describe, but the term “executive dysfunction” comes pretty close, my brain knows that it’s supposed to read what’s in front of it, yet it stubbornly refuses to do so. The only exception being novels about / involving the universes of Warhammer - and, armed with that knowledge, you will never guess what most of the books I read were about:

  • The “Eisenhorn”-trilogy. I read through Xenos, Malleus, Hereticus in a couple of evenings. Is it the most elaborate Science Fiction-trilogy, with the most intriguing plot and unexpected twists? Probably not, there are other series for that. But Dan Abnett is still one of the best authors when it comes to turn the setting of Warhammer 40.000 into an entertaining read.

  • “Bloodlines” by Chris Wraight. This book was the first one released under the overarching series of “Warhammer Crime”, which is a challenging scope. It needs enough crime to be able to distinguish itself from your average novel set in the grim darkness of the far future, while at the same time maintaining a right amount of “warhammer-ish” character to not just be yet another crime novel set in a Sci-Fi environment. And while it wasn’t an outright amazing book, it was a well enough start. I think this crossover of genres is promising.

  • “Broken Cities” by Chris Wraight, an omnibus of short stories of “Warhammer Crime”. I enjoyed most of the stories, even though some were very, very clearly copies of well-known Science Fiction books or movies. And it was sad that some were that short, because they would definitely have had the potential for being longer.

  • “Russia’s War on Everybody” from Keir Giles - I don’t know exactly how many books I have read on Tsarist Russia, the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation throughout the years since I started to take an interest to the topic a decade ago. A quick look at my bookshelves suggest that it’s more than 20, which doesn’t include books I have stored elsewhere, borrowed or read digitally. What I’m trying to say is that I’ve read what I would argue is a lot of books on these topics. And this one, without hyperbole, is one of the best books I have ever encountered in this area of interest. Together with the lecture of Martti J Kari it’s probably the most concise introduction into how Russia, both on a state and on a societal level, approaches statehood, geopolitics and war.

Despite having a Bandcamp Friday, which usually makes my wallet weep, March wasn’t really a music-y month. I spent significantly more time catching up on podcasts. Nonetheless, here are my top albums for March:

  • Dancer - Dancer - I’m notoriously bad at genres, but I’d classify the album as being Indie-Songwriting with a touch of DIY. That’s usually not at all my type of music, but for whatever reason I was vibing with this pretty hard.

  • Kano - Made in the Manor - While I’m not big on Grime and Road Rap, the works of Kano are something that I regularly get back to. His live performance of “A Roadman’s Hymn on BBC 1Xtra Live is one of the rawest things I’ve ever heard, and “This is England” is an amazing hymn to local pride, understandable even if you are not from the UK.

  • The Streets - A Grand Don’t Come for Free - After listening to “Made in the Manor” I inevitably dug up my copy of this album. As amazing as Mike Skinner is as a host in various NOISEY-documentaries, his performance as the voice of “The Streets” remains, in my eyes, his greatest feat. Even though they definitely weren’t my favourite band when I grew up, I’d consider them the soundtrack of me growing up, without hesitation. They perfectly describe how I felt at the time. Confused, somewhat wounded, trying to find my path in life; exhausted but still pushing through. And, although from another album, “Turn the Page” to this day gives me goosebumps every single time I listen to it.