Open source malware is actually a possibility

For a long time we’ve assumed that, if the software that we use is open source, we’re safe from malware. It was too difficult, and the reward was too small compared to traditional forms of distributing malware. But as open source software is gaining popularity, and more and more single-handed projects are popping up, this may not be true anymore. Today, it would in fact be feasible for an open source trojan to exist, which disguises malware inside another, seemingly innocent and presumably useful enough to be attractive, application. And why has this really become so much easier? Because users and developers alike don’t pay enough attention to the code they’re running.

Why do we assume that open source software is safe?

Let’s start with why we naturally assume that open source software is safe and free from malware:

  • The code is written by a team of independent developers. If one developer tries to slip malware into a project, it’ll be caught by the other developers.
  • The code is publicly available, meaning that if there was malware hidden within it someone would find it.
  • If malware is hidden in some open source code and someone does find it, the code can be traced back to the developer who wrote and distributed it. Most developers don’t want to take that risk.
  • The code is reviewed by the package maintainers of popular Linux distributions before they compile it to produce packages for their users. If there is any malware hidden in the code, they should find it.

Unfortunately, these all rely on one assumption: people actually read the code. There are a number of other reasons why these points don’t necessarily apply, though, so let’s look at them in turn and see how an open source trojan could actually exist.Read More »


Forum admins think they can do whatever they want

So a few days ago I ended up in a private argument with an admin on a forum that I’m on. We resolved the argument, I thought, peacefully and no harm was done. Then yesterday he picks a fight with me about it in a public part of the forum and punishes me for being “disrespectful” after I said “please don’t bring this up again, especially in public”.

I’m inclined to tell him “you can’t punish me when you unambiguously started it this time”, but I’ve tried that before with admins and it always makes things worse. Somehow they think they’re always right, no matter what they do and even when it’s clearly wrong.

BIID, Therianthropy, and a family of Identity-mismatch Disorders

The following is something that I have been wanting to discuss for over six months now. It has taken me a long time to find the right way to explain the topic, and in terms of content it happens that every time I come close to completing it, I discover more relevant information. Fortunately for me, a reader of my blog asked me about this matter, which I hinted at in the postscript to one of my previous posts, and I was thus forced to put it down in words. As such, I finally found myself with the basis for a blog post on the topic.

This is a matter which I have been thinking about for quite a long time. Many people with BIID, or who spend time in BIID communities, are probably familiar with the frequent comparisons between BIID and GID. It’s been suggested many times that maybe BIID and GID are one in the same thing, just different variants. As inconclusive as those discussions normally are, I found it hard to accept that they could not be the same thing – after all, I was able to take the DSM-V criteria for GID and replace “gender” with “disability” and then fit almost all the criteria myself. But yet, how can gender identity and disability identity have anything in common?

And then I found the key. Or rather, I experienced the key first-hand. When my BIID involuntarily went away, I found myself with another identity-mismatch. Not a mismatch of my non-disabled body to a disabled identity. And not a mismatch of a male body to a female identity. This was something different.

Enter Therianthropy.Read More »

Audio Game Hub game review

I received a response from my review of A Blind Legend asking me to take a look at another audio game, Audio Game Hub available for iOS, Android, and Microsoft Windows (from the official website). This game has a somewhat confusing name and when I first received the request I wasn’t sure if I was being asked to review a game or an app/website that collects a list of audio games (which, by the way, does exist); the app is in fact a collection of eight arcade-style games adapted for playing by sound.

Although it’s been a long time since I played A Blind Legend and, consequent to my BIID going away, I no longer have much of a personal interest in audio games, I nevertheless decided to take a look (figuratively speaking) at the Android version. I’ve played each of the eight games and while I’m not going to give a full review for each there are some general aspects that I would like to comment on.Read More »

BIID is common

BIID is common. Well, relatively common. More common than one would expect.

I have for a long time suspected that there are many more people with BIID than either we or medical researchers are aware of, that although there are maybe only in total a few thousand people with BIID posting on the internet in reality there are probably more like one or two people with BIID in every few thousand. Why do I believe that BIID is so common?

Many comparisons have been drawn, from multiple angles, between BIID and other formally-closeted topics such as homosexuality and transgenderism, and with regards to the present discussion we can draw another important comparison. Think about how common homosexuality is these days – chances are you might have spoken to a person who is homosexuality, or at least know of one personally even if you haven’t spoken to them yourself. Transgenderism is coming up in the news all the time, as celebrities from all areas of life – athletes, actors, singers, you name it – are opening up about their gender identity and, where applicable, their transition to the gender with which they identify. But think about how seemingly-uncommon these things were a hundred, or even fifty, years ago. The fact is, only once society opens up to something and accepts it as real and legitimate, then you start hearing about it. That’s when people with it are not afraid to hide who they are but are more willing to open up and talk about that particular side of themselves, sometimes even in very forthcoming ways.

If we apply the same pattern to BIID, then, which it seems like the logical pattern to apply, we are naive if we don’t expect BIID to be more common than it currently appears to be. Only once society opens up towards those with BIID will we be accepted enough for us to be willing to talk about ourselves, to pretend, to even participate in medical research, and ultimately to become the people who we need to be.

But what real evidence do I have to prove that BIID is more common than first meets the eye? To tell the truth, in the 18 or so months since I discovered BIID, I’ve seen at least two people who I can pretty certainly say have BIID. I told one of my non-BIID friends about this and while he found the idea of a “BIID radar” amusing he didn’t really believe that it was possible. But what would you say when you’re stopped at a pedestrian crossing watching the most inexperienced wheelchair user that you’ve ever seen (as evidenced by her pushing style), with the biggest smile on her face (the kind of smile that says “nothing else matters right now, because I’m in a wheelchair and that’s all I care about”), fail repeatedly to get across a road with the slightest hump in the middle (as most roads are), and refuse any and all offers of help (as people with BIID usually do)? Or a man with his eyes closed behind very weak refractive glasses (as evidenced by the thinness of the lenses and the lack of much visible refraction through them) walking with a white cane? (At least when I pretend in public I take my glasses off…) These things, that most people would never notice, jump out at me, because I understand them, because what most people would write off as “that doesn’t make sense” and immediately forget about are to me the obvious signs of BIID.

But that’s not where it ends. The real inspiration for this post is that, despite having posted nothing new in exactly a month, my blog has still been receiving a steady stream of traffic of on average at least five page views a day from at least three visitors (some days I get over ten views from over five visitors, and other days I get just one or two views). Most of this traffic has, understandably for such a quiet blog, been coming from search engines (actual searches that people have typed in, not search engine crawler robots). Sadly doesn’t give me many of the actual search queries that readers are searching for (Google hides that information from the site visited but Bing doesn’t), but guess which posts have been the most popular? Not random rants about administrators of IRC channels. The most popular posts over the past month have been the posts about BIID. The posts about my experiences as a pretender, my tips for dealing with BIID, and the most popular post of them all: Current BIID support groups. In fact, almost all of the Bing search queries were along the lines of “biid support group”, “biid support”, “support group for biid” and so on.

What does this tell me? That BIID is as common as I have, for a long time, believed it to be. There are people out there who are afraid to talk about their feelings, but who come to my blog as another step in understanding themselves. Some of them need to talk, but don’t know where to turn to find people who will understand them. But the bottom line is that there are people with BIID out there, and until the medical community catches up with the situation we must offer all of the support that we can. We need to tell people where to find us, and when they do find us, we need to give them what they need – whether that’s someone to talk to or just a few blog posts to read before slipping back into the closet, better prepared to tame the beast that’s been holding them captive for as long as they can remember.

I would also like to use this opportunity to highlight an important personal matter, which I have not until now known how to address. It’s a long story, but the short version is that I do not believe myself to have BIID any longer. There are very few stories of people being cured of BIID, but it does happen. In my case, however, I do not believe that I was cured, thus I cannot offer any advice in this area, but my BIID has gone away by itself (perhaps there is such a thing as transient or short-term BIID, or perhaps there is another reason why my BIID went away, but the truth is that I don’t know and it doesn’t really matter – the important thing is that it’s gone now). Nevertheless I did have BIID for a time and I have written this post from the perspective of myself as a BIID sufferer, because after all I have been a BIID sufferer in the past and I understand how BIID feels and how difficult it can be to manage. I do not want this postscript to lessen any of what I have said in this post, or in the past, as it does not lessen any of my knowledge of or experience with BIID.

I would also like to introduce a greater matter that I feel is important, regarding the “bigger picture” surrounding BIID, as it were. BIID does not exist in isolation, but to me it appears to be part of a bigger spectrum of “disorders”. I am afraid of saying too much at this stage as some of what I want to discuss is controversial in the BIID community and I fear that I may be ridiculed, but it is an important matter which I feel I must make known somehow, and in due course I hope to discuss this further on my blog, when I have enough information to properly formulate a discussion on the topic.

This will probably be my last post about BIID directly, and certainly my last post as a BIID sufferer, but as someone who has once had BIID but no longer has it I am able to see BIID from both a first-hand and an outside perspective, just as pretenders are able to see disability from multiple perspectives, and this has enabled me to see a bigger picture surrounding BIID and many other issues, tying together multiple “disorders” that have so far been regarded as completely separate (to the extent that I could safely say that those experiencing one of these “disorders” probably have no knowledge of many – if any – of the others) but which are actually different manifestations of the same thing, for when I read of them and of people’s experiences with them I see in them parallels with my own and others’ experiences with BIID, to the extent that the “disorders” themselves are self-evidently a parallel of BIID.

Everything’s under control

When you’ve got music blaring, a storm raging outside, your electricity supply dipping every few seconds, your burglar alarm screeching, and both of your phones ringing, that’s when you feel in control of everything. Seriously, it feels good.

Micheal Johnson

Blind in Minecraft

Minecraft: The game which gives you a parallel world modelled after the real world, but where you can build whatever you want, do whatever you want, and run your life whatever way you want. You’ve got a world that works in a similar way to the real world – you still need to find food, build shelter, and even buy and sell goods in villages – but with the freedom to develop the world and live in it however you want. You can settle on the plains and build a ranch with some crops and animals and a stable for your horses, or you can hollow-out a fully-automated food and materials production plant underneath a jungle. You can tend to your animals when you feel like it, and afterwards you can stay up all night fighting monsters (if that’s your thing) or you can head into your house and put some music on while you craft new tools or you can settle into bed for the night and wake up fresh and ready to go exploring the next morning. And with a game like this, it’s natural that I’m going to pretend to be blind in the virtual world as well as the real world – after all, I can do so whenever I want!

While Minecraft isn’t accessible to blind gamers, there is a way to greatly reduce your vision in Minecraft and play as a blind character in the game (or one who is pretending to be blind). I’ve added this to my main survival world, and enjoy spending whole days or more blind in Minecraft, just like in real life! In this post, I’ll explain the mechanism behind this and how to do it yourself.Read More »

Why aspies don’t swear

I’m not going to say that aspies never swear. Sometimes we swear a *lot*, in response to the increased frustration that we feel about the world compared to neurotypicals. But what you’re not going to find many aspies doing is throwing swear words into every second sentence like a lot of people do. Why? Why don’t we use swear words the same way as other people?

Swear words are redundant

Most times when people use a swear word, they are used to add emphasis. This is redundant. Think about it: why should we say “it’s fucking cold outside” when we can say “it’s very cold outside”? Or maybe we don’t need any word in there at all: just say “it’s cold outside”, because after all you’re just trying to explain why you’re wearing a scarf and gloves (which really shouldn’t need explaining at all, just sayin’ ;-) ).

Swear words are imprecise

Furthermore, swear words don’t accurately convey what we’re trying to say. So many reviews for, for example, smartphone apps say “this app is so crappy”. Why use the word “crappy” when we could use a much more meaningful word? What about explaining *why* the app is crappy, by saying something like “this app is so difficult to use” or the even more helpful “the navigation menus have too many layers in them”? In the statement “my day was a pile of shit” we’re left wondering “in what way was it a pile of shit?”, and we see no reason to use a word that omits this information completely when we could just as easily express what we had in mind when we made the statement.

Even if we’re trying to insult someone, I can think of many better ways of doing that without using a swear word. Instead of saying “why the hell did you do that?” I’m probably going to say “why did you do such a stupid thing?”. Not only have I added the information that what they did was stupid and that’s why I’m complaining about it, but I also score a point for calling the other person’s actions stupid ;-) .

Swear words are meaningless

They’re overused and lose their meaning because people are saying and hearing them all the time. ‘Nuff said.

Swear words are lazy

When someone swears at us, we don’t take offence; we think “couldn’t you think of a better word?”. Swearing just shows laziness: laziness in not thinking of something more original to say, and laziness in not trying to avoid words that many people don’t like. Or laziness in not thinking of a better way to insult us.

We don’t want to look lazy, and as aspies we have a natural tendency to want to do something the best way, not just the easiest way, so we prefer to think more carefully about the words that we use.

Swear words are offensive

We might not always show it, but we really don’t want to offend or upset people. So why use a word that’s intended to do just that, just to tell someone how friggin’ cold it is outside?

Another look at A Blind Legend

I wrote a review a few months ago of the recently-released “A Blind Legend” audio-only game for mobile devices. When I wrote the review, I had only played the game for half an hour or so, and already I was impressed with the quality of the 3D audio and the gameplay looked promising, but I wanted to come back after I’d played the game and take a more in-depth look at the gameplay itself. That review has received a lot of views on my blog, so here’s the follow-up.Read More »