Time For Another Key Signing

It's time once again for that marriage of mathematics and paranoia that is a cryptographic key signing. I'm organizing another for Thursday, January 20th, 2005. Details can be found at: https://ry4an.org/keysigning/ Results from my last key signing can be found at: http://ry4an.org/keysigning/visualize/

If all that's gibberish to you, check you my much better explanation last time I did one of these: https://ry4an.org/unblog/msg00026.html

Thanks once again to the ACM for letting us use their room.


glad to see a new posting. i was getting concerned your new non-geek pursuits were interfering with your true purpose. -- Kate Bauer

Dead Pool Update

I've got the entries and current scores posted for the Dead Pool at http://sarinity.com/deadpool/ . Thanks to those who entered. I was planning on hitting everyone up to join at the Halloween party, but then I got distracted and forgot. O'well six people, two of whom already have points, is good enough.

Best of luck to the entrants,

The Hierarchy of Pretzel Sins

I eat pretzels like Darwin would have. It's a constant survival of the fittest competition. I select two pretzels, eat whichever is most flawed, select another, re-test, and just keep going from there. At the end I've got the best pretzel of the whole bag left, which I then eat.

Admittedly it's not an actual test of the pretzels' fitness to survive -- the pretzels with inferior qualities aren't dying off due to failure to feed themselves and attract mates. Really it's just their ability to conform to my invented notion of the master pretzel, but if you go around saying you eat pretzels like Hitler people back away slowly.

Here then is my criteria for the most fit pretzel presented by defining what makes a pretzel bad. Earlier sins are more severe than the later sins, and the pretzel with the most severe sin gets eaten first.


  • broken - pretzels must be closed figures with no open ends
  • bad connectivity graph - pretzels must have 3 distinct, conjoined regions
  • asymmetric - pretzels must exhibit symmetry about the vertical access
  • inconsistent thickness - pretzel lines should be uniform in width
  • overly tall/wide - pretzels should be roughly the same in width and height
  • flawed skin - pretzels must exhibit unbroken golden-brown skin
  • bad salting - salt should be neither too heavy, to light, nor uneven

There, now it's published. If no one refutes it in the next 24 hours I'll assume the world accepts the inverse of that list as the definition of a perfect pretzel.


Well, that sounds like a challenge!

I disagree with your overly tall/wide, in my mind the perfect pretzel should be wider than it is tall, though not too wide!

-- Louis Duhon

Dorm Apology Ad

On Tuesday some friends and I were talking about how we immaturely approached alcohol back in the dorms, and I was thinking it would be fun to take out a full (or half) page ad in the student paper, The Minnesota Daily, like this:



Thank you, Resident Hall Facilities Staff, for your

service above and beyond the call of duty. We're sorry.

[ photo of 5 or 6 people standing soberly and shamefacedly above their name, which dorm they were in, and the years of residence]

I've contacted The Daily about getting a rate sheet, meanwhile there are a few questions to be answered:

  • Is this insulting? Funny or no, I don't want to actually insult the

    fine residence hall maintenance staff.

  • How much would folks pay to be one of the people in the ad?

    Depending on the cost of this thing I might need sponsorship from the other people in the ad.

  • Would you be interested in being in the ad? You could use a fake

    name if that changes anything. Hell, you could sponsor someone else.

So if I could get a little feedback, it'd be great. Is this funny or just a dumb idea I should let die?

AntFlow 1.0rc1 Released

I code for a hobby and a profession, but usually it's only the hobby stuff I can release here. However I'm happy to say and proud to announce that Onion Networks, my employer, has okay-ed the release of AntFlow, a tool I largely wrote.

AntFlow adds hot folder triggers and workflow functionality to the ever popular Ant build tool. It's a great fit and a right good bit of code, so check it out at http://antflow.onionnetworks.com/ .

A Clockwork Orange Costume

My Halloween costume this year came out pretty well. I went as Alex from Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange during his brainwashing. I made the head piece from scrap metal, some syringes, galvanized steel wire, rubber tubing, and a lot of rivets. The actual actor was temporarily blinded during the filming of that scene, but I went less hard-core on the eye restraints and the only after effects I've got are some bruising and puffiness. All in all better than I was hoping for. See the attached image for a photo. Thanks to the Kromhout clan for the photo.


Dead Pool

I've decided to run a dead pool this year. You can sign up at http://sarinity.com/deadpool/ by guessing 10 famous persons who you think might die during the next calendar year. The younger they are the more points you get, and the highest point total wins. Remember, it's not any more morbid than fantasy football is athletic.

Twin Cities Marathon

I'm again going against the 'only things that I create' policy for this mailing list, but unless you count lactic acid nothing was creating during my running of the twin cities marathon yesterday, yet I'm posting about it just the same. I beat my target time by a good 15 minutes though was still certainly in the tail-end of the pack zone. I hope to never run so much again so long as I live.

Mail To Wiki Gateway

I wanted a way to quickly append text to Moin Moin wikis. I wrote a Perl script to do just that. It relies on the email address suffix features available in most modern MTAs to get the page name.

Once the procmail recipe included in the accompanying procmail.rc file is in place for the user 'wiki' email sent to wiki-TextHere@somewhere.com will be appended to the TextHere wiki page.

I cheaped out on the formatting and just put the text inside literal/pre blocksblocks. The subject line and from header are retained and displayed.

By default the posts are done under no user, but the included makecookie.pl can be used to create a cookie file that the script will use to persist a wiki login (I tend to use EmailGateway).


It looks like there's been some updating and porting discussion of this script at ScriptMarket/EmailToWikiGateway

Diplomacy Tutorial

My all time favorite board game is called Diplomacy. It's got the tactical simplicity of chess mixed with the social aspects of poker. It's been popular in quite a few white houses -- reportedly the Kennedys played ferociously.

Unfortunately, it can be a difficult game to learn. Not because the rules are complex -- they're not, but only because there aren't a lot of good presentations of the rules. Oral descriptions quickly devolve into edge cases and exceptions, the printed rules look like they were written by lawyers, and just looking at the game board gives one the totally wrong impression that Diplomacy is like Risk or the hateful Axis and Allies.

A few years back I decided that a simple introduction to the rules was lacking, so I set out to create one. It's available at https://ry4an.org/diptutor/ and has been pretty darn popular over the last few years. Check it out, and if Diplomacy seems like your kind of game check out http://diplom.org and http://ry4an.org/mn-dip if you're local.