Get to Know the Guardians of the Galaxy

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

So let's talk about the Guardians of the Galaxy. No, not the movie. The team.

I'm no comics expert, but it's interesting to see how the hodgepodge group of random creatures and beings from the Marvel comic book universe was crammed together into the head of a celestial to become an interstellar group of ass-kickers. I mean, that's really how the Guardians came to be, at least the Guardians we're seeing in James Gunn's film coming out this week.

A little background:

If you're a fan of timey-wimey, you might appreciate the backstory of the Guardians of the Galaxy. The original Guardians of the Galaxy made their first appearance in 1969, and were from all the way in the 31st century. What does that mean? The first group that comic books fans got to know were the second known group of the Guardians in the comic book universe. The folks you see above—Peter Jason Quill, a.k.a. Star-Lord, Drax, Gamora, Groot, and Rocket—were the first in the Earth-616 timeline but not the first in Marvel history.

We'll get to the original team in a moment.

First, let's meet the current Guardians.

Detecting Installed Chrome Extensions

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Lately at work we've found that a particular Chrome Extension is beaconing out to websites. Our InfoSec team clearly sees this as a security issue, so we're following up with users that have the offending extension installed to kindly ask them to remove it.

The latest extension we've found that makes calls out to webpages continuously (thousands of times a day) is Awesome Screenshot, which seems like a handy little extension that takes full shots of webpages. We have a lot of designers that like to take snapshots for reference, so I can see why they'd want this extension.

As a systems administrator it's useful to see when that extension is installed so we can monitor if there is a connection between thousands of hits to potentially malicious webpages and the installation of the extension. Chrome doesn't make it easy to know what extension folder is for what extension, but they are consistent, and pulling that information is something you can do with the certainty that the main extension folder name won't change for a certain version of an extension.

First step: finding the extension folders.

If you have Chrome installed on your Mac, you can go to

 /Users/user_name/Library/Application Support/Google/Chrome/Default/Extensions/  

And see a big list of folders there. These are where the extensions live.

So in an extension attribute you can use a -d to locate the directory of a questionable extension installed on the machine, then have the attribute report if the extension is or isn't installed based on the existence of the directory.

I found the folder of the extension by temporarily adding it to a copy of Chrome on a machine and then "managing" the extension. The Chrome settings then showed me the id of the extension in question:

I could then use that directory to create an extension attribute that looked for the offending Chrome extension and report if it is or is not installed.

 # script by emily k @volusion 2014-07-29  
 # to detect if the Awesome Screenshot Extension is installed on Google Chrome  
 currentUser=`ls -l /dev/console | cut -d " " -f 4`  
 if [ -d "/Users/$currentUser/Library/Application Support/Google/Chrome/Default/Extensions/alelhddbbhepgpmgidjdcjakblofbmce" ] ; then  
      STATUS="Awesome Screenshot Installed."  
      STATUS="Not installed."  
 echo "<result>$STATUS</result>"  

You can then go in and make a Smart Computer Group that uses results from the EA for reporting/scoping/etc.

You can even use some fun Valley Girl Grammar when you make your smart group.

This could obviously be used for other extensions, you'd just need to know what the id is/directory is called.

As always, be careful with copy-pasta, and this script is here as-is with no warranty, etc. It's just an EA so it won't do any damage, but if it doesn't work I'm not liable. Or whatever. Gotta love legalese.

Hearing the Beatles

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

At the end of May I was supposed to have traveled to New York University to give a talk on my Beatles research, in particular, the film A Hard Day's Night which recently celebrated its 50th release anniversary as well as a Criterion release. I have plans to publish part of that research here on my blog at some point in the future, but for now, you can see the abstract here:

A Hard Day’s Night and the Mythology of the Beatles 
In 1963, The Beatles were approached to appear in a new movie to promote themselves and their music. The result was A Hard Day’s Night, a film that takes on many characteristics typical of what is often referred to as the “backstage musical.” While the narrative arc is slightly different, the film holds to the paradigm of rehearsal sequences culminating in a final show. Yet rather than letting that final show be the ideal performance, the film undermines the group’s big performance by making the more intimate, spontaneous moments of music making earlier in the film more enjoyable and aurally pleasing. 
On the fiftieth anniversary of the film’s release, this presentation will look back at how A Hard Day’s Night is interested in perpetuating the mythology of The Beatles as performers and music-makers. What makes the film an interesting study in the band’s mythology, however, is how their most unified, complete, and satisfactory moments of music making are away from the live audience, making music for a few intimate listeners or just for themselves. While the film itself draws upon the “backstage musical” for its narrative form, the film itself is more interested in exposing the relationship between the listener and the recording, and representation versus reproduction. Dick Lester’s film alters the backstage musical formula to create a new Beatles mythology, one that would be amplified when they stopped touring and used their albums as the ultimate, most satisfactory, musical experience.

One of the more intriguing moments in the film for me has been the final performance in the theater, where the Beatles play in front of a screaming crowd of young fans reminiscent of a jet engine. During this performance the songs are noticeable slowed down and are nearly a semi-tone lower in pitch from the recordings.

Dear Internet, Weird Al Wrote You a Song

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

He even made it super catchy so you'd pay attention.

So pay attention.

He just called the internet a mouth-breather. It's just…so good. So very, very good.

Get the album Mandatory Fun by clicking and buying!

Vegan Good Eats: Sweet Ritual

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

I had an epically Monday Monday this week. You know, one of those Monday's that is just so very… Monday. I was grumpy and in a bad mood, and the only remedy for that is ice cream. Maybe even ice cream with a brownie and some fancy syrup on top.

Sweet Ritual is probably the best thing to happen to Austin. Handmade vegan ice cream with gluten-free options, fancy toppings, fresh-made waffle cones and waffle bowls, and brownies from Capital City Bakery.

I have a thing for peanut butter, so I couldn't resist the Peanut Butter & Oreo ice cream. Or the Rocky Road, since it has marshmallows in it. I mean, just look at this.

That is a tasty brownie with two scoops of ice cream and magic shell peanut butter sauce on top. Yes, magic shell peanut butter syrup. Bliss in ice cream form.

Charlie got something similar; brownie with two scoops, though he got Tin Roof, which is "Chocolate covered peanuts in vanilla ice cream striped with a rich, gooey fudge ripple." And of course, magic shell peanut butter topping.

I'd eat their ice cream every day if I could. I'd get really fat, but it'd be worth it. I need to pick up some peanut butter cup ice cream in a pint so I can eat it at home and feel magical any time.

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