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How to paint model railroad scenery

When it comes to model railroad scenery, you tend to see two extremes–a plywood board painted a solid color of green, or an attempt (with varying success) at detailed scenery using ground foam and other materials, such as those sold by Woodland Scenics, at a price.

What if you want something in between? Well, on the Facebook Marx page, I saw a brilliant idea: sponge painting. The results looked really good, especially given the cost and effort required.

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Why your favorite web site’s password strength meter is full of hooey

Ars Technica talked three password crackers into doing their worst to a leaked database of 16,000 passwords, to see what they could learn.

They learned a lot, and we can learn a lot from their experience as well. “qeadzcwrsfxv1331” isn’t a good password. Neither is “Philippians4:13.” Neither is “correcthorsebatterystaple.” Neither is “Qbesancon321” or “Qbe$@ncon321.” Password guessing has too much intelligence built into it now.

And not only that, by continuing to use the password “popcorn,” you make it easier for those guys to guess other passwords too.Read More »Why your favorite web site’s password strength meter is full of hooey

SSD myths

SSDs, like most disruptive technologies, face some questions and resistance. People will grasp at any straw to avoid adopting them. Thanks to this resistance, a number of SSD myths arose. Here are the myths I see repeated over and over again, and the truth, based on my experience actually using the things.

Note: I originally wrote this way back in 2010. The drive technologies I speak of as state of the art are rather aged now. But the principles still hold today, and will continue to do so. Hard drives have gotten better, but SSD have gotten better at a more rapid pace.

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Wiping a disk securely

Sometimes in the course of work, it’s necessary to securely wipe a disk. A drive containing confidential information may require replacement. Assuming you caught the problem before the drive died for good, you can wipe it before sending it back to the manufacturer.
Programs to securely wipe a drive cost money. Sometimes big money. Fortunately, it’s easy to do it with Linux.
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Randomness for Sunday

Fairly busy day yesterday. I took care of some things around the ol’ crib yesterday morning, started writing up my take on Craig Mundie’s now-infamous speech. I think it’s ok but I’ll save it for tomorrow so I can give it another once-over–if you’re wondering what I have to say, I think Mundie missed the boat, and I think most of the other commentaries I read on it did too. Then I went to a friend’s graduation party. She walked this morning, so once the diploma comes in the mail, she’s officially edumacated. It’s hard to believe I graduated college four years ago this month. I’ve been out of college for as long as I was in.
So now I’m staying up late, watching ESPN’s MLB GameCast to see if the Royals can snap their four-game losing streak in extra innings, even though I have to be up early in the morning to do projection at the early church service. The Royals are like a pretty girl: They break my heart again and again, and I just keep coming back. That’s not very healthy, is it? But I’m smitten. I don’t want to get better.

Clustering for Linux. I’d lost track of this project. Mosix allows you to combine a bunch of PCs into one Linux cluster. Unlike Beowulf, any Linux app that doesn’t use shared memory will run on the cluster, finding the least-busy CPU.

I’d been planning to turn my now-idle 486 into a backup Web server; now I’m wondering if I wouldn’t be better off clustering it with my P-120. If I knew Mosix did failover, I’d do it in a second.

I’m sure there are tons of other applications for this. I probably should get some stuff together and play with it.

You’ll find it at

Another Greymatter site. And I see Jon Hassell’s had Greymatter up and running on his site about as long as me. That’s good to see. I’m sure it’ll save him buckets of time. I’m glad someone else is free from the Evil FrontPage Empire. From reading his recent stuff, it sounds like he’s fed up with more Microsoft products than just FrontPage. I hear ya, Jon.

I’ve had this going here about a week, and I’m extremely happy with the response. Everyday, non-search engine traffic is around its usual level. Discussion traffic is way up. And I see from the karma voting that I’m eliciting some reactions (yes, I know how many positives and negatives were cast). Speed on Friday wasn’t so good, but I came home to find my text editor had a runaway process that was chewing up 95% of available CPU time. That’s what the top and kill commands are for… So now that’s cleared up, with CPU usage hovering at a fairly constant 4 percent.