March 2005

Tuna fajitas

Hey look, a recipe. Gwen decided to live dangerously the other night, so she put me in charge of dinner. I came up with the following, and it turned out pretty well.


  • 1 lb tuna filets or steaks
  • onion
  • bell pepper
  • other vegetables to suit
for marinade
  • soy sauce
  • juice of 2 limes
  • black pepper
  • other spices to suit
for topping
  • cilantro, chopped
  • red cabbage, chopped


  • Slice the tuna into strips about 0.25″ thick.
  • Juice limes and combine marinade ingredients in a non-reactive (pyrex) shallow pan.
  • Marinate sliced tuna in pan. Marinade should be deep enough to just cover the strips; if not, you will need to rotate the strips periodically. Leave 20–30 minutes to marinate: the tuna should be uniformly chemically cooked by the lime juice on the outside.
  • Slice onion and bell pepper and any other vegetables you want to include into long, narrow strips; also chop toppings.
  • Sautee onions in a cast-iron skillet. When onions start turning brown, add bell peppers and any other vegetables; shortly after, add the fish along with the marinade.
  • Stir for two minutes, then cover and allow to cook over medium/high heat for another 8 minutes or until the fish is cooked through. Transfer contents of skillet to a serving piece and clean skillet immediately, as lime juice will corrode the surface of the skillet.

This recipe would go well with a chipotle cream sauce as a topping—I’ll try that next time.

Interesting things I have learned in the past two days

My DSL modem was bouncing up and down repeatedly yesterday. It’s not unusual for it to reboot once in a while, but this was clearly Wrong. Called SBC’s tech support in Bangalore and got a trouble-ticket number.

A little while later, a good ol’ boy called me back. My line had already started behaving, but he did some tests while I was on the line, and we discussed the problem. Now, the service I signed up for is nominally 128 up/384 down. Apparently, my bandwidth had been automatically upgraded to 128 up/1500 down (I had noticed that my downloads were much faster than 384), and this was the cause of the problem. As he told me, I’m 15,000 feet from the central office, and my line can’t sustain that kind of bandwidth reliably (approximately 17,000 from the CO is usually as far as they’ll go). He changed my service to 384 up/768 down and said he was seeing a cleaner signal.

It’s interesting that A) SBC is upgrading service for its customers without squeezing more money out of them, and B) is apparently doing so without human intervention.

Tonight, Gwen and I are attending a Zombie Formal at the Pink Pleasure Palace. We needed to get some makeup for wounds, so we headed to the Bazaar, where a very helpful clerk showed us our options and gave us some ideas. We were going to pick up some stage blood, and he pointed out that they usually have a better selection, but with Easter coming, they’ve sold out of one variety. Apparently they sell more blood for Easter than for Halloween, and this has been exacerbated by The Passion. I never realized Christians were so lurid.

Art Outside

Went to Art Outside at the Enchanted Forest last night. Fun. There was a lot of bizarre art there, of highly variable quality. High points: the giant welded mechanical musical instrument, the wind-powered spinning sculptures, the bone sculptures, the doll mashups (way, way back at the end of a trail). Low points: poetry readings and undirected jam-band ramblings. Some of the art was pretty sketchy. All in all, worth seeing though.

Go at night and bring a flashlight, as the installed lighting is inadequate.

A new phishing exploit

I’ve run across a new phishing exploit–new to me, anyhow. This one is especially pernicious because it actually uses a legitimate bank’s website against itself.

Take a good look at the following URL: legalcenter/do_not_solicit_confirm.asp? name=%3Ciframe+ style%3D%22top%3A120%3B+ left%3A0%3B+ position%3Aabsolute%3B%22+ FRAMEBORDER%3D%220%22+ BORDER%3D%220%22+ width%3D900+ height%3D650+

I’ve broken it up and highlighted the salient portions in red. I’ll break down what is happening here. Apparently, Charter One uses (or used–see below) a frame-based interface where the contents of a frame could be specified through the URL. What the scammer has done is set up a mimic site ( that looks like Charter One’s, and loads in a frame of Charter One’s, but isn’t a part of it, and send the phished data back to the scammer. So even a person who is generally aware of phishing scams might look at this URL and say “Oh, it really is from my bank, it has their URL, it must be OK.”

I visited the page in question, and Charter One seems to have defeated this already.

I don’t want this to be a “frames are bad” rant, because I do think frames have their uses. And in fact, using URLs to specify frame contents goes a long way towards addressing the problem of frame-addressability. But anyone who can’t afford to have an outside party insert content into a frame needs something more subtle–perhaps a javascript detector in the framing page to prevent outside pages appearing in a frame.

Technological slumming

Everyone knows that Lego-based movies are a medium for low-budget cinematic self-expression, covering every genre from politics to gay porn (of course, these days, the two aren’t that different). One particularly popular genre is Star Wars fanfilms.

And while there is certainly a big overlap between Star Wars fans and videogame players, and there have been many successful Star Wars-themed games to date, one thing that action games are definitely not known for is their humble production values. So what are we to make of Lego Star Wars, The Video Game? Here’s a game from a major developer that takes all that texture-mapping inverse-kinematic razzmatazz and puts it to work rendering…low-budget lego animation.

Bad Education

Saw La Mala Educación. A story within a story within a story, which gets a little dizzying at points, but it works. A twisty-turny plot that, in a very abstract way, reminds me a little of The Sting. Gay sex. Pedophile Priests. A movie about movies (as is Almodóvar’s wont).

Helpful hint

If you’re trying to fire up the grill, and your charcoal is unwilling to light because of a long humid spell, then a blowtorch is a good thing to have.