Alex Jerez is an artist, developer and musician from Huntington, New York. His most recent projects include and Crosshatch.
Follow Alex on Twitter: @notalexjerez

Update your Firefox Flash Plugin on Linux Mint 17

If you're getting Firefox prompts to update your Flash plugin, but you already have the latest plugin in the repository, Try installing the Pepper Flash player on your system by running:

$ sudo apt-get install pepperflashplugin-nonfree

Lion Sequence #1

Fixing Shellshock Vulnerability on Linux Mint 14 Nadia

Linux Mint 14 MATE is no longer supported, but if you have no option to upgrade, running this should upgrade bash and make your system safe from the 'Shellshock' vulnerability (CVE-2014-6271 and CVE-2014-7169).

This worked for me. Your mileage may vary:
  • Download this file, or make a shell script with the following text:
  • Mark it as executable: $ sudo chmod +x [filename]
  • Run it as root: $ sudo ./[filename]
  • Check for vulnerability by running: env x='() { :;}; echo vulnerable' bash -c "echo this is a test". If you see 'vulnerable' in the output, your bash didn't update. Check to make sure you followed the instructions correctly.
  • Also test this command: env x='() { :;}; echo vulnerable' sh -c "echo this is a test"
  • If all you see is 'this is a test' in the output, Congratulations! you're all patched up.

Untitled 3

Maximum Bandwidth via FedEx

I'm around a computer all the time, yet I realized that I had never really stopped to think about the limitations of data transfer and how it ends up transcending back into the analog world. The thought came up after reading this quote by MINIX author Andrew Tanenbaum:

Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes hurtling down the highway. –Andrew Tanenbaum, 1981

How cool is that? despite the crazy-fast transfer rates that today's technology gives us, we're still technically able to move certain amounts of data quicker and more efficiently by simply putting it in a shoebox and shipping it out to it's new location. It makes total sense, but since I've never had to deal with such a large scale transfer of data, The thought had never occured to me.

XKCD has a great post on this where it goes into great detail on it, and it looks like the 'FedEx method' will be around for some time, at least until we see file transfer rates surpass the equivalent of a truckload of MicroSD cards.

(Photo Credit: N276FE - FedEx Boeing 727-200 By Andrew Cohen - Creative Commons )

The 'Secret' to a Hit Song Title

Last weekend, I came up with this idea as a result of pondering on the thought that the highest-grossing tier of the music industry is really just a concentration of a dozen or so artists. And the music is almost always formulaic and cliché. (But that's nothing we didn't know already...right?)

The Idea showed it's face when I heard two different songs on the radio, back-to-back that coincidentally had Nicki Minaj in both of them; One solo song and one song by another artist featuring her.

I realized that these artists are so commonplace that you could just mix and match any of them, throw a cliché buzzword here and there, and you'd have a realistic-sounding top-40 song. So I took this idea and turned it into a website: Hit Song

Basically, what it does is use a bit of javascript to randomly pick pair of artists, give them a catchy song title, and bam! There's the next radio hit. I found it amusing that the resulting song names ended up being more convincing than I had originally expected.

I used HTML5 Boilerplate and was pleased with the results. Check out that responsiveness!

Make sure you share your best song combinations!