Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Resolutions

  • The Q'uran justly records that all men pass through hell for a time when they die, and some remain there. Let's try to be peaceful, ok? (Surah 19. Mary, 71-72)

  • In other resolutions, I think I'll settle on Sage as my Firefox news feed reader. It does things the Firefox way, in a sidebar. Also supports CSS styles, but those that use graphics don't migrate from the Sage Styles page like they should. Simple-minded installer.


Saturday, December 29, 2007

Validity Papers Needed NOW!

Happy New Year, Fuuls.


Friday, December 28, 2007

For the record...

Musharraf's government is claiming that nobody laid a glove on Bhutto — she killed herself by bumping her head on a sun roof. The bomb and bullets were, apparently, just an unfortunate coincidence.


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Gandhi was a bonehead

Benazir Bhutto was blown to bits yesterday. The pantheon of martyrs to democracy are, no doubt, annoyed to receive yet another mangled member.

Imagine if you will that long, gory hall through which her assassins must walk — or crawl, or grovel — on their way toward promised glories. Just as there were no entrances into madness, only the manic moments, there will be no exit from recrimination, no surcease at all but entropy. Entire worlds will pass away before the echoes of that blast attenuate to nothing.

In the end, Allah will send Bhutto, like an angel armored in light, with a golden needle in one hand and a silken thread in the other, offering explanations and a way to bind up the aeons of regret. But the fires of Hell are subtle, and no one will answer her. No one at all.


Monday, December 24, 2007

Small Favors

I've just realized... We've almost gotten through an entire political microseason (the Iowa Caucuses) without a lot of carping, snarking and Christmas evil from Letterman, Leno and a few of the other jug ladies from the wellsprings of the screen writer's guild. Thanks to the strike for buffoonery unalloyed, the candidates can trip over their own tongues quite nicely, thank you.

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Imagine for a moment...

Why do we presume this image is static, when nothing else in Nature is? Over time, shouldn't the blobs move around? How will you interpret change where no change should be?


Monday, December 17, 2007

"Clarifying rather glib assumptions..."

  • Counting Eskimo Words for Snow is a fine palliative for Sapir-Whorfian brain rot.

  • Learn Japanese by playing a videogame? Check out Project LRNJ. The FREE adventure game is droll — reminds me of the SNES version of Star Ocean with a little Zelda tossed in. The idea is to wander around and solve a puzzle, while fighting slime monsters that can be defeated by learning (and swiftly recalling) both Japanese syllabaries (hiragana and katakana) plus 100 kanji. The Members Only game is $20 and drills you on 2,000 kanji — I'm not sure the story line can sustain that much intensity, though.


Sunday, December 16, 2007

So you want to be a Japanese major?

Click on the photo to the left for a Cautionary Tale. (No, my left, not your left!)


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Reprinted from the Hawaii Reporter

Hawaii's Verbal Weapons of Mass Destruction
By Daniel P. de Gracia, II, 12/14/2007 9:00:46 AM

We've all heard the children's rhyme before: "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." I wish they'd pull that rhyme from our schools and stop teaching it, because most psychologists will tell you the contrary is true: words do hurt, just as surely as fire will burn, knives will cut, and hammers will break the body. Unlike a bruise from a fist or a welt from a slap which quickly heals, words enter the mind and affect cognitive processes.

Man's most powerful weapon is found not in the ICBM silos, nor hanging in the belly of a jet bomber, but situated right below his nose and squarely on his face: the mouth. With words politicians and priests send whole nations to war, with words treaties and contracts are framed, with words laws are made, and with words, hate is tempered in the furnace of the heart.

Words are powerful, and I write these things to you because here in Hawaii, we ought not think for one moment that using racial slurs against one other is acceptable, tolerable, or permissible in any way. We shouldn't tolerate the existence of racial slurs in Hawaii any more than we'd tolerate the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Iran, or North Korea.


Daniel Paul de Gracia, II, is a political scientist specializing in international relations, a pastor at the International Christian Church and Bible School in Honolulu, and a former candidate for state Representative. He lives in Waipahu.


Friday, December 14, 2007

A nice Spanish-English online dictionary

This is neat, for a dedicated web page. There are other translation tools that may be more useful in practice (some of the FireFox addons, e.g.).

You can click the arrow between the language flags to obtain reverse lookup. Languages are English, Spanish, French, German, Italian and Polish.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Huckabee, a "Scientific Creationist"?

The spectre looms that Mike Huckabee, the GOP second runner, will be as ideologically incorrect on science as Bush has been — possibly more so, as in deliberately pigheaded. This is a local schoolboard issue (where it amounts to a litmus test for identifying stubbornly self-lobotomizing know-nothings), not a position that can held by responsibile Presidential candidates.

What the blazes is wrong with Republicans? Ike was never wrong on science.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

"Free" license for PKZip

PKWare is offering a free license for a crippled version of SecureZIP. Don't know how long the offer lasts. The few grayed-out features seem to be related to public/private assymmetric ciphers: Digital signing, etc.

Archive creation and encryption is fully supported. You wouldn't notice the missing features if the come-ons weren't so obvious. And if you do need those, you'll probably be looking at GNU Privacy Guard anyway.

One caveat: SecureZIP silently, presumptuously and immediately (when first run) takes over all file associations it knows about, including ZIP. WinZip users take note!

WinZip 11.0 already offers most of this stuff, and it mentions digital signing (without showing you the grayed-out crippled buttons). On the other hand SecureZIP has snazzy modern icons.

I don't recommend any of this, of course. You need to keep track of passwords, to maintain access to your files. A touchy proposition, as the tickings and the tockings pile up, and your neurons quietly expire under the relentlessly calm assault of daily entropy. Personal encryption protocols become tedious very quickly, so unless you need this stuff, you're far better off to avoid it.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Happi Merikurisumasu!

Our Christmas tree went up a little late this year, but up it is. Just in time for the ice storms of December.

I found an old Japanese wallpaper with the cheerfully mangled message "Happi Merikurisumasu," but since it has moogles on it, I don't mind a whole bunch of much.


Sunday, December 09, 2007

Random thuds on cracking public key encryption

Lemme see now...

Let T be a plaintext which Alice must convey to Bob.

Let ¤ represent exclusive-or, or some similar operation which is reversible when twice applied (or at least symmetric, like TEA, where encode and decode work jes' fine.)

Let P be Alice's public key, and p be her private key.

Let PM¤p, where M is mysterious.

Let Q be Bob's public key, and q his private key.

Let QM¤q, where M is still mysterious.

Alice cleverly enciphers CT¤Q¤p.

Alice pops C into an envelope and sends it to Bob, awaiting anxiously.

Bob deduces Alice's private key, p ← (M¤p)¤(M¤qqP¤Q¤q.

Bob deciphers TC¤Q¤p.


Ok. This probably ain't how public key encryption works, but if it reduces to this case, kiddies, the jig is up!

M is not my favorite pseudorandom number generator, Mersenne Twister. M is mysterious! Like this.


Saturday, December 08, 2007

Time warp...

HugeCave.z8 has been around awhile. I was sort of baggled to realize I had to find an upgrade to Windows Frotz 1.10 to run such a well-patinated antique (until it produced a Stack Overflow in the vicinity of the Reservoir and a curiously out-of-place Darwin). How would I know if Windows Frotz 1.11 is the real current version?

This stuff ain't abandonware yet!?

There's another one called WinFrotzR53, even older. I run 'em all on Vista in Windows XP (SP1) compatibility mode.


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Visual C++ 2008 Express Edition (again)

This time, getting it installed (again) was relatively painless.
  1. All I had to do was figure out my Windows Live ID from last time.

    1. All I had to do was make IE7 my default browser

      1. Then reset my password (fortunately, MS still remembered my email address)

      2. Then change my password (to something I will now forget)

        1. Validate my new password
        2. Finally get Installation ID
        3. Enter the magic hooha into the Registration ID field

    2. Then make Firefox my default browser again

  2. And forget everything I ever knew about Windows Live ID all over again.
Much simpler. All this to compile GNU Go? Where's that manual...?


Monday, December 03, 2007

Still fun, after all these years...

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Eraser, too

Probably just as interesting as TrueCrypt, but more useful, is Eraser, at least for Vista. This utility is also pretty slack when it comes to Human Interface Guidelines, but once you get into it, you can't beat the functionality: Securely delete files, folders, entire volumes, free space on volumes (including cluster tips), the recycle bin, etc. All just a right-click away in the Explorer.

Eraser implements Peter Gutmann's 35-pass file wipe (and several other algorithms, some of them explained a bit in the docs.) Gutmann is the default mode for Apple Macintosh's secure file deletion, source available either from Apple, or from