Brian Shaler

Occasionally Interesting

Gravity is for chumps

Archive for October, 2009

Using “googol” in a sentence

An email went around the Engineering department at work discussing security and keyed hashes. We take security seriously, but that doesn’t mean we can’t joke around. A VP responded to the security email by suggesting we could prevent the vulnerability outlined in the referenced article by disabling logins for accounts that have more than 1 trillion login failures.

Being the contrarian that I am, I had to throw in my two cents about his proposed solution:

It’s frustrating when you try to log in a trillion times, can’t remember your password, get locked out, and then have to contact support to get your account unlocked.

The number of login attempts should definitely be set to a more reasonable number, like a googol. If I can’t guess my password in 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,
000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 attempts, I’ll probably break down and contact support.

I thought it was worth sharing because it’s not every day I get a chance to use googol in a sentence.

“I’m not going to temper my opinions”

“I’m not going to temper my opinions.” – Shaler’s Mom

No, that’s not an actual quote from my mother — I’ll explain how it involves her in a second.

It’s something Tyler Hurst said to me in an email in May of this year. He offered to buy me a beer, and I had declined. Unfortunately, I also tried to give him advice. It was not taken well. “Thanks for the life lesson,” he blurted back to me.

Tyler first contacted me in April 2008, about a month after he joined Twitter. I occasionally received instant messages from a stranger, going by the screen name “tdhurst,” ranging from chatting about something I had recently tweeted to requesting job leads to asking for career advice. It was civil. I engaged with this random Internet person and gave my opinion on whatever I was asked. I thought nothing of it, because it happens every once in a while.

Some time later, a Twitter user, @tdhurst, started popping up on my radar in the #phx Twitter “echo chamber.” I hadn’t paid much attention to the screen name of the instant messenger tdhurst, so I failed to make the connection until later.

The statement, “being on the safe side of the monitor brings out the jerk in some people,” was especially true about Tyler’s public persona on Twitter — immature, crass, and very confrontational. Quickly, his reputation began to precede him. I would hear his name come up at social gatherings, and it was usually paired with derogatory terms. I say precede him because I — and some of the people I heard talking about him — had never met him (in person).

Why did I decline to have beer with him over a year after our first contact? Mostly because of his attitude. I don’t want to get involved with people like him. I’d rather not exist to people like him (Twitter’s block feature is great for this — out of sight, out of mind). I also declined because I don’t drink beer. People who know me, even a just little bit, know I don’t drink. Aside from sips of my parents’ beer, champagne, piña colada, etc. as a kid, I’ve never consumed alcohol. None. Obviously, Tyler didn’t know much about me. But as it would turn out, Tyler had already formed some opinions about me (and my mother).

In August of 2008, I was at the New Media Expo in Las Vegas and checked to see if any of my friends at the conference had heard that I was there and tried to contact me via Twitter. What I saw instead is this:

@antibrianshaler i'm pretty sure you ARE brian shaler

@antibrianshaler was a Twitter user who pretended to be me while mocking and making fun of me for over a year in a first-person perspective. Minutes after Tyler’s tweet, there was a new anti-me account: @shalersmom.

The tweets were disturbing, to say the least. Here are some examples:
“I hope @brianshaler spoons me tonight.”
“@brianshaler was breastfed until he was 15…he still give me a hungry look from time to time”
“I liked it when @brianshaler and @antibrianshaler suckled me.”
“i just masturbated with a pez dispenser. an @brianshaler pez dispenser, that is.”
“Whenever I see a mention of @brianshaler online (which is a LOT), I close my eyes and touch my nipples, longing for him to feed from them.”
“My ovaries ache.”
“@antibrianshaler why won’t you come suckle my nipples?”

This happened off and on for about a month. Then Tyler contacted me and confessed to being the person who created and ran the @shalersmom Twitter account.

When I told Tyler I did not want to sit down with him and have a beer, I told him why. Maybe I shouldn’t have, but by this time, I had pieced together the Twitter @tdhurst and the instant messenger tdhurst, who had asked me for advice in the past. I told him that unless his behavior and reputation changed, I had no interest in associating with him. Apparently, he was no longer interested in receiving any kind of advice from me, because he shot me back an email (emphasis mine): “So you’re basically saying that you’re too good to associate with me. Okay. I’ll support the people that deserve it. I’m not going to temper my opinions because I’m worried about someone’s feelings being hurt. Thanks for the life lesson.

Yeah. It’s his opinion that my mother “masturbated with an @brianshaler pez dispenser.”

I was inspired to write this post after seeing Tyler mention on his blog that he developed a panel at a conference to solve the “lack of camaraderie” in Phoenix. You can probably imagine how him saying that did not sit right with me.

Geek Week AZ: Cross-Promotion

One of the goals of Geek Week AZ was to get event organizers to work together to benefit each others’ events. The result is more exposure and more attendees for everyone!

If you ask someone if they’re willing to cross-promote, they’ll surely say yes. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always translate to action.

I decided to see which event sites were linking to other events going on during Geek Week AZ. I was looking for a score of 7, which would count as all of the “major” GWAZ events. There are at least 10 “extra credit” events (smaller ones that occur monthly or weekly, but occur during GWAZ).

Ignite Phoenix: Nov 3
Events linked: 0
Honorable mention for linking to Social Media Club Phoenix and PodCamp AZ, but the links are buried on the site in 2 blogs posts that are over a year old.

TEDxPhoenix: Nov 6
Events linked: 6 – AZ Entrepreneurship Conference, Desert Code Camp, Ignite Phoenix, PodCamp AZ, SustainaBIL, and WordCamp Phoenix
Disclaimer: I’m an adviser for TEDxPhoenix.

Desert Code Camp: Nov 7
Events linked: 0
(Note: The organizers of this event are doing a great job of putting together another great DCC, and I’ve even talked to Joe about cross-promoting on the site. He’s totally on-board, but he just recently obtained access to the site from its previous webmaster. This is not intended to “shame” DCC, but perhaps serve as a reminder and maybe even a sense of urgency?)

SustainaBIL: Nov 8
Events linked: 9 – AZ Entrepreneurship Conference, AZIMA, Desert Code Camp, Developer Ignite, Ignite Phoenix, WordCamp Phoenix, PodCamp AZ, Social Media Club Phoenix, and TEDxPhoenix
Disclaimer: I’m the lead organizer for this event, so of course I’m going to be cross-promoting!

Developer Ignite: Nov 11
Events linked: 1 – Ignite Phoenix

AZ Entrepreneurship Conference: Nov 12
Events linked: 3 – Ignite Phoenix, Social Media Club Phoenix, and PodCamp AZ
Honorable mention for linking to TiE AZ which has an event the week before GWAZ. Unfortunately, they linked to a broken version of the site that hasn’t been updated since 2006.

WordCamp Phoenix: Nov 13
Events linked: 0
UPDATE 10/28: Honorable mention for linking to AZ Entrepreneurship Conference and PodCamp AZ in a blog post (there are currently only 4 posts, so it’s relatively easy to stumble upon!).

PodCamp AZ: Nov 14-15
Events linked: 2 – AZEC09 and WordCamp Phoenix
UPDATE 10/28: An awesome email went out today, promoting and linking to Ignite Phoenix, TEDxPhoenix, SustainaBIL, Creative Connect, Gangplank Hacknight, AZEC09, Social Media Club Phoenix, and WordCamp Phoenix.
Disclaimer: I’m a helper / committee member.

All of the events listed here are doing a GREAT job putting together their events. I’m confident each one of them is going to rock! However, I think almost all of them could do a better job of supporting each other.

Phoenix BIL Conference: SustainaBIL

SustainaBIL: November 8, 2009 11am-7pm

For some background on this most excellent adventure..

First there was TED. It’s an expensive and exclusive (invite-only) conference that brings together some of the most amazing people with some of the most spectacular stories. While initially TED was about [T]echnology, [E]ntertainment, and [D]esign, it grew to become an event all about Ideas Worth Spreading.

Enter BIL. A group of people around the country (maybe even around the world), made the observation that anyone can have and share big ideas. You don’t NEED a speaker line-up of best-selling authors, world-renowned performers, and the like to have ideas worth spreading. Also, anyone who wants to learn and share should be able to become involved. For people who know the history of BarCamp, BIL is to TED as BarCamp is to Foo Camp. (Also, Keanu Reeves Fans people who have seen Keanu Reeves’ movies might notice another layer of meta humor)

Hit the road, Jack. TED moved and BIL moved with it. But why stop there? Why only have BILs where there are TEDs? Don’t people everywhere have ideas worth spreading? BIL began to spread to the UK, to Santa Cruz (CA), and to San Diego. “Why not have one in Phoenix?” I thought. Turns out, one of the people behind the formation of BIL, Todd Huffman, was based in Phoenix!

Pick a flavor. With TEDMED and BIL:PIL taking on a single theme, healthcare, Todd suggested the Phoenix BIL conference take on a theme. With the amount of alternative energy, biofuel, and sustainable technology around Arizona, we decided on having a sustainability-themed BIL.

And finally, the announcement of SustainaBIL! SustainaBIL is bringing together people who are doing interesting things in the sustainability world to share their big ideas. The event will be a broad stroke at sustainability: energy, recycling, green tech, etc. Ideas will be around what individuals can do as well as small businesses or institutions.

I encourage you to check it out. The event is free (but donations are encouraged) and you can find sign up links at

CloudCamp is coming to Phoenix!

CloudCamp Phoenix is coming up this Saturday, October 24th! It’s going to feature talks from Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, and local start-up Jumpbox. A portion of the event is set up to be an unconference, where the sessions are determined by the attendees!

There aren’t very many seats left, so you’d better hurry up and register!

University of Phoenix Hohokam Campus (map)
4605 E Elwood St
Phoenix, AZ

CloudCamp is an unconference where early adopters of Cloud Computing technologies exchange ideas. With the rapid change occurring in the industry, we need a place we can meet to share our experiences, challenges and solutions. At CloudCamp, you are encouraged you to share your thoughts in several open discussions, as we strive for the advancement of Cloud Computing. End users, IT professionals and vendors are all encouraged to participate.

Via Eventification, the Phoenix tech event site

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