Toby's Log

Another bird incident happened today. I was walking my brother’s dog, Duncan, when he came upon something. He lunged toward it. I saw a small bluebird flutter up, but it was having trouble fully flying, so it just got to the height of Duncan’s mouth and moved away from Duncan. As this was happening, I yelled something like “Duncan, leave it” and pulled on the leash. Duncan’s mouth was open, biting at the bird as I was pulling him, keeping him just inches away. The little bird flapped over to a spot on the road 10 feet away, and Duncan stared at it. It was chirping. As this was happening, two other birds up in a nearby tree started chirping at us, and then took turns diving at us. I pulled Duncan along and the two presumably parent birds eventually stopped diving us and went towards the little bird, chirping at it. When we came back, the little bird was no longer on the street and one or more bluebirds were up in the tree, chirping. So, presumably the little one was fine and managed to fly under the less stressful situation.

Had a weird bird incident the other day. I was going around a turn on a residential street (by Stan Hywet), following the car ahead of me. Suddenly, something came flying from the side of the road among the bushes, fast like somebody threw something hard, and it hit the car ahead of me and bounced off. As it bounced back, I saw wings: It was a bird, probably a robin. We weren’t going fast since we just came around a curve, so less than 25mph, but the bird just bounced far, to the ground. It all happened super fast, and with how hard it hit, I assume it was dead.

New phone: Samsung S24

Yesterday, I got a new phone, a Samsung Galaxy S24. Jade green, ordered from because that was the only place to get green. I never got my Pixel 3a running again and my Moto X was just a little too broken, slow, poor network connecting, and unable to handle some apps. The S24 was my first Samsung and notably more expensive than any phone I’ve gotten before. But I justified it by its:

  • likely longevity with 7 years of updates, strong build, waterproofing
  • reasonable size
  • full features
  • 5G data
  • Dex desktop mode and USB video out

I’m still getting set up and getting used to it, but I think I’m happy with it.

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Happy Eclipse Day. As I unterstand it, it has recently started over somewhere in the middle of the Pacific. It’s sunny here right now, so hopefully when it gets here in a few hours it still is and we get a good eclipse. Hope everyone in its path gets a good show.

xz backdoor

Reading this weekend about a backdoor introduced to the open source xz project. It doesn’t appear to affect my Ubuntu servers, so I had assumed it wasn’t relevant to me. However, the homebrew version on my Mac was “vulnerable”. It sounds like the exploit would only work on some versions of Linux, but if it does work on Macs, that could be bad. I do a lot of stuff on this computer, including banking, email, coding, etc. They know about it backdooring ssh, but if there’s something they don’t yet know about, it might be a problem.

I have a Fedora install as well. I haven’t checked it yet, but Fedora is usually on the bleeding edge, so if it’s on there, I’ll probably wipe and reinstall. I’ve been considering anyway. Luckily, I don’t do anything important on there.

Even if it didn’t actually do anything bad on the Mac, it may have done something. I had noticed some weeks or months ago (I can’t remember when) that running PHP on the command line was going slow. Running anything would take a minimum of about five seconds, including something simple like php -r 'echo "hello\n";'. I know when I had been making scripts in the past they hadn’t been taking long at all. I did some searches on the web for anybody mentioning something like that and couldn’t find anything. So I kinda just figured maybe it had something to do with the new opcode / whatever cacheing newer versions do or something, like it takes some initial setup that the server can reuse but not the command line. I assumed I was stuck with it and even started moving some scripts to bash partly because of it. When I downgraded xz via homebrew though, I decided to test it. time says the simple php -r line took 0.092 seconds. Nice and snappy. So maybe xz was doing some checks to see if the device was exploitable. It was in the dependency graph of PHP through curl and gd. Can’t say for sure that it just sped up though and if the xz change was what caused it.

I’m glad my scripts finally run quickly again, but hope that nothing was exploited here. I’ll keep an eye on the web to see if anything comes up about Macs being exploitable, and if so I’ll probably reinstall the OS to be safe.

Note: If you have used homewbrew to install PHP, curl, or anything else that might depend on xz, run brew update; brew upgrade to be safe. The dangers of being on the bleeding edge I guess.

My Moto X phone, a stand-in for my non-functioning Pixel 3a, scared me by force shutting down and then getting stuck in a reboot loop for a bit. That’s too similar to the behavior of the Pixel. Luckily, plugging it into a different USB charger and giving it time, the problem resolved itself and it has been running fine for almost a full day. Hopefully, that keeps up, as I still haven’t gotten the Pixel going or figured out what I want for a new phone.