"Still Moving The Text Around"

Month: February 2006 (page 2 of 5)

ShutDown After. A Cute Timer

Ever wish you had a snooze button for your PC?

For example, you have a job running that you know will take about an hour to run, so you’d like to be able to tell your computer to shutdown after 2 hours. While this can be done with the task scheduler (which will be the subject of an upcoming post), it’s far easier to use a small, dedicated utility to perform this kind of function.

Enter Stage Right to thunderous applause…

Vicky’s Cool Softwares ShutDown After V1.0

Quite handy to have around.

Impediment To Productivity: Play Infocom Adventures Online

It has come to my attention (thank you reader) that the Zork link I mentioned way back in August 2005 isn’t working reliably.

So if you want a nice quiet game try
Play Infocom Adventures Online

The games run in Java and are still as much fun ( slippery little concept that fun one) as they ever were.

Here is the list.

Zork I: The Great Underground Empire
Zork II: The Wizard of Frobozz
Zork III: The Dungeon Master
Zork: The Undiscovered Underground
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
The Witness
Leather Goddesses of Phobos
The Lurking Horror

Also be aware that SAVE and RESTORE may not available due to various security restrictions (applet, your browser, the phase of the moon), so do a test save before you get too far down the track.

Also watch out for grues in the Zork games.

Monday Morning “Impediment to Productivity” – 20060220

Here we go again.

Lets begin this week once again with Blame.

This weeks “Dont Blame Me, It’s {insert poor unsuspecting victims name here} Fault” is courtesy of Karen.
A pithy (oh grow up) enough email

“At the risk of being blamed… ”

Well you were. and I found it hysterical… but that’s me

And here is an entry from Scotland, This time we “Blame” Jason (although if he want’s to slip us a bottle or two of single I feel sure we can all deny everything… I digress).

Jasons contribution is and I fell off my chair laughing. You really really really dont want your systems people to see this (oh wait. that’s me. Consider yourselves busted). I loved dinosaurs.
Continue reading

LEGO Difference Engine

Andrew Carroll is mad. I don’t mean that in a pejorative sense but I ask you, what else do you call someone who builds a working LEGO version of the Babbage Difference Engine No.2.

Lego Difference Engine
Before the day of computers and pocket calculators all mathematics was done by hand. Great effort was expended to compose trigonometric and logarithmic tables for navigation, scientific investigation, and engineering purposes.

In the mid-19th century, people began to design machines to automate this error prone process. Many machines of various designs were eventually built. The most famous of these machines is the Babbage Difference Engine.

Babbage is another in the long tradition of eccentric British genius. He was born in 1791 and invented amongst other things the speedometer (yes now you know who to blame for the speeding fines), the cowcatcher (British Rail now having lost the excuse of cows on the tracks is forced to resort to “leaves on the track” or the “wrong type of snow” to explain away the late trains) and he figured out the relationship between tree rings and weather. Clever little bunny what?

In 1821 he and John Herschal (who was an astronomer) were examining a set of maths tables that were used as the basis for astronomical, engineering and building works. The generated flaws in the Navy tables which probably caused over a 100- shipwrecks and accidents. The tables were calculated by hand (no… they didn’t have a pocket calculator) and the errors were simply human error.

So Babbage decides to build a steam powered (Electricity is hanging around in the corridor waiting for someone to notice it) calculator and fix the errors. So after stiffing the British Government of the day for nearly 18,000 pounds for Babbage Difference Engine No1, (by the way it needs around 25,000 parts, weighs fifteen tons and stands eight feet high) he figures out it isn’t going to work the way he wants it to. So he designs Babbage Difference Engine No:2 but the government took it’s money and went home. For 18 grand they could buy two battleships back then.

The difference engine was immortalized in the William Gibson and Bruce Sterling collaboration of the same name (and one of my favourite reads), and it would appear that it’s a perpetual source of hacker fascination (Ada Lovelace, Lord Byron’s daughter, financed the Analytical Engine project and invented the idea of software for it because she was interested in handicapping horse races). Computers and gambling… some things just don’t change.

Though Babbage was never able to get his design working (Simon Singh has a some pages about Babbage in his “The Code Book” also a good read),

The Babbage Difference engines construction had to wait until 1991 when the Science Museum in London decided to build the Babbage Difference Engine No.2 for an exhibit on the history of computers.

Babbage’s design could evaluate 7th order polynomials to 31 digits of accuracy but the Lego model can only compute 2nd or 3rd order polynomials to 3 or 4 digits.

Andrew probably ran out of bricks. (Maybe a quick chat with the British Government for some finance… hmmm maybe not).

Ultra High Security Password Generator

Sometimes you need really serious passwords , for routers, wireless access points, securing databases. You know… serious stuff.

Generating long, high-quality random passwords is not simple. So Steve Gibson has made it easier here is some totally random raw material, generated just for YOU, to start with his Ultra High Security Password Generator

Each time the page is displayed the server generates a unique set of custom, high quality, cryptographic-strength password strings which are safe for you to use:

Some Examples below.

64 random hexadecimal characters (0-9 and A-F):

63 random printable ASCII characters:gC ‘Vn]`’Wr ‘YmdXyxB{*&=:gY1c&”1_?mJJ!~om)h(>6:6}QGG%!ov(Zz~$D:

63 random alpha-numeric characters (a-z, A-Z, 0-9):

Useful, if a little obscure.

How The Internet Works

Geek Alert
Steve Gibson and Leo Laporte have been podcasting for a while now. Just at the moment they have a couple of pieces about How the Internet Works, Part 1 and Part 2

During episode 25, Leo and Steve briefly discuss the ‘Kama Sutra’ virus that will become destructive on February 3rd. A discussion of PC World Magazine’s recent ten top anti-malware systems. And finish of with part one of a close look at the history and detailed operation of the global Internet.

Episode 26 has part 2 of “How the Internet Works,” they discuss the operational details of the Internet’s two main data-carrying protocols: UDP and TCP.

Do you care? Probably not but it’s still good stuff.

Options for downloading (are these guys completists or what)?

You can have it as a

High quality 64 kbps mp3 audio file
Quarter size, bandwidth-conserving, 16 kbps (lower quality) mp3 audio file
A web page with any supplementary notes
A web page text transcript of the episode
A simple text transcript of the episode
Ready-to-print PDF transcript (your very own dead tree version)

Feeling intimidated by that level of organisation? I know I am.

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