14 June 2019

Puffin love and more

I went on a Mass Audubon trip to far Downeast Maine last weekend - out where the population thins and the cell phones roam to Canadian carriers in New Brunswick - and got to visit the unique and amazing Machias Seal Island which is officially disputed territory between the US and Canada but which Canada administers as a migratory bird sanctuary. (No passport required to visit, interestingly.) Fortunately, the day's weather was perfect; many would-be visitors are disappointed to
find, after booking their spots well in advance, that the conditions aren't suitable for getting out towards the island or to get ashore. I took many close-view pictures of the trademark Atlantic Puffins (who seem affectionate in this view),
as well as other species like Razorbills, Arctic Terns, and Common Murres (as depicted below: I think the Murre looks like an orchestral conductor for the Razorbills below, though I'm clearly anthropomorphizing that...)
Quite the site!


12 June 2019

My birds in the cloud

As I mentioned a few posts ago, I recently embraced my inner geek by building a small site with Python and Django, in a DigitalOcean droplet. The result may be a bit extreme ('ya think?) for its purpose of organizing and displaying a personal collection of bird photographs, but I've been enjoying it as it's been running for a few weeks. I like being able to use the uploader to add new pictures and species into the database and display, and the ability to specify search terms and ordering. Django makes such facilities easy to implement (along with the ever-popular automated species count!) but I'm still working with the challenge of layering multiple search criteria (e.g., month and name) in a way that presents an intuitive UI. I've written up some tech-oriented notes about the site's technology and development for anyone who may be curious, but the photos themselves may have more general interest.

30 April 2019

I've always found the skyline impressive

I was glad to be on the left side of an airplane yesterday looking down at Manhattan, and was pleased and rather surprised to see how much detail I could get in a picture taken through an airplane window. Contrast enhancement definitely helped.


24 April 2019

Cameras like to focus on high contrast images

... and this Black-and-white Warbler could almost be a living test pattern!

21 April 2019

And didn't you need a juvenile eider today? For spring?

I think he seems pleased with himself.

I see you knocking but don't want you in

A few days back, I set up a "droplet" at DigitalOcean to host a Django application that I'd been building, and so I now have a small net-facing Ubuntu VM there. As a security person, I've been, er, interested to see just how interesting my site has quickly become to, er, unexpected visitors. Looking at its first-ever auth.log, it went active at:

Apr 16 15:33:23  systemd-logind[1385]: 
Watching system buttons on /dev/input/event0 (Power Button)

The sshd logged its first preauth disconnect at 15:38:27 (just over 5 minutes later), from an IP address that whois resolved to country code IR. Since I didn't have an associated domain registered at this time, I assume that this was a random address scan.

I started an Apache server about an hour later, at 16:47. Following some of my own testing (and a domain name registration), its first unexpected visit came at 17:40 in the form of a POST from an IP address in St. Petersburg, RU.

I can see that my droplet's sshd and apache have been busy rejecting varied streams of "knocks" since, and am applying best practices of firewalling unneeded ports and disabling passworded access to ssh. Still, I've been surprised at just how quickly and broadly my site was discovered. If more of my prior experience had fallen on the operational response vs. architectural development side of security, maybe I'd be less surprised. Anyway, a valuable learning experience and reminder. Stay safe!

03 April 2019

Partly ludicrous, with gusty winds?

Sunday night through Tuesday...
Rather low confidence in sensible weather across the northeast
during this timeframe due to model solution spread.

I saw the above excerpt in my local National Weather Service forecast discussion this morning. I realize that the word "sensible" has a particular meaning in the context of meterorology, as in something that can be sensed, but couldn't avoid drawing the conclusion that I should instead be more than usually alert for nonsense falling from the sky early next week.