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August 4, 2011

Are you a hippie?

Screen Shot 2011-08-01 at 6.03.54 PM

Me, I'm 30% of the way there (above).

Take the quiz (free, the way we like it) and find out how you rate.

[via J-Walk Blog]

August 4, 2011 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

ReaderKleen — Cleans credit card reader magnetic stripe


Somewhere Jack Dorsey is smiling.

From the website:


ReaderKleen is designed for cleaning magnetic heads on point-of-sale credit card readers, access control/ID card readers, time badge readers and more.

Similar in size and appearance to an actual credit card, the ReaderKlean card has a non-abrasive cleaning surface.

Each is individually packaged and pre-moistened with an effective and safe cleaning solution.

The cleaning action takes place automatically as the card reader attempts to "read" the ReaderKleen card.


Pack of 12: $12.99.

August 4, 2011 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Who invented the one-time pad?


It's long been believed to have been invented during World War I by AT&T engineer Gilbert Vernam and Joseph Mauborgne, later chief of the Army Signal Corps.

Now comes a chance discovery that takes the origin of the mighty cipher back 35 years into the late nineteenth century.

Below, excerpts from John Markoff's July 25, 2011 New York Times story about the serendipitous convergence of the right person in the right place at the right time that led to the remarkable unearthing of a metaphorically buried treasure.

If not for a computer scientist's hobby of collecting old telegraph codebooks, a crucial chapter in modern cryptography might have been lost to history.

The collector is Steven M. Bellovin, a professor of computer science at the Columbia University School of Engineering and a former computer security researcher at AT&T Bell Laboratories. On a recent trip to Washington he found himself with a free afternoon and decided to spend it at the Library of Congress, looking for codebooks that weren't in his collection.

But when Dr. Bellovin hunted though the card catalog, his interest was piqued by an 1882 codebook whose title included the word "secrecy."

"I thought, 'O.K., let me go see how they did it,' " he recalled. "When I read the two-page preface, my jaw dropped."

He could plainly see that the document described a technique called the one-time pad fully 35 years before its supposed invention during World War I by Gilbert Vernam, an AT&T engineer, and Joseph Mauborgne, later chief of the Army Signal Corps.

Although not widely used today because it is relatively difficult to work with, the one-time pad is still viewed as one of strongest ways to encrypt a communication. The technique is distinguished by the use of a random key, shared by both parties, to encode the message and decode it; the key must be used only once and then securely disposed of.

It was the Soviet Union’s misuse of the technique — code clerks were occasionally reusing the one-time pads instead of discarding them — that led to the Venona project, the collaboration between the United States and British intelligence services that yielded code-cracking coups during World War II and the cold war.

The 1882 monograph that Dr. Bellovin stumbled across in the Library of Congress was "Telegraphic Code to Insure Privacy and Secrecy in the Transmission of Telegrams," by Frank Miller, a successful banker in Sacramento who later became a trustee of Stanford University. In Miller's preface, the key points jumped off the page:

"A banker in the West should prepare a list of irregular numbers to be called 'shift numbers,' "he wrote. "The difference between such numbers must not be regular. When a shift-number has been applied, or used, it must be erased from the list and not be used again."

That sent the astonished Dr. Bellovin to the Internet to try to find out whether Mr. Miller’s innovation was known to the later inventors.

The results of his largely online detective work can be found in the July issue of the journal Cryptologia. Born in Milwaukee in 1842, Mr. Miller attended Yale and then joined the Union Army, where he fought at Antietam and was wounded at the Second Battle of Bull Run.

He was transferred to the Army inspector general's office, where he became a member of a squad of detectives investigating Lincoln’s assassination — perhaps his first contact with cryptanalysis, Dr. Bellovin speculates.

According to several independent specialists in cryptography, Mr. Miller was undoubtedly the first to propose the concept of the one-time pad.

Dr. Bellovin found no evidence that either Mr. Vernam or Mr. Mauborgne ever met Mr. Miller, but he did uncover one more tantalizing clue — in the society pages of The San Francisco Chronicle, of all places. At a military ball at the Presidio in 1907, Mr. Miller met Parker Hitt, a cryptographer who was a student and colleague of Mr. Mauborgne's.

"It is quite certain that if Hitt knew of Miller's system," Dr. Bellovin writes, "he would have shared that knowledge with Mauborgne when they were together at the Army Signal School in Fort Leavenworth." But as he acknowledges, that is still a big "if."

Read Bellovin's Cryptologia paper here.

Generate your own one-time pad here.

August 4, 2011 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

RGB Clock



[via Svpply]

August 4, 2011 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Camels are not always what they seem


In the photograph above, the real camels are the little white lines.

The dark shapes are their shadows.

The picture was taken late in the day by the inimitable George Steinmetz.

[via Joe Peach and National Geographic Türkiye (sic)]

August 4, 2011 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Karate Lettuce Chopper



From the website:


With this black belt lettuce knife you'll be the sensei of your kitchen.

Give your lettuce a swift chop and whip up a fresh salad in seconds.

Made of dishwasher-safe high-impact [it better be!] plastic.

4" x 11.25".



$12 (instructions not included).

[via The Awesomer]

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good head of lettuce must be in want of a knife.

Having nodded in the direction of thelizabeff, let me add that the debate about whether to cut lettuce — with either a plastic or metal knife — or tear it by hand is by no means settled.


August 4, 2011 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: Learn anesthesia at home in your spare time


Got an iPhone or iPad?

Just download "Essence of Anesthesia Practice: Diseases A-Z" and you're ready to push the propofol and sux.

Just be sure you know how to manage an airway, though, because within 60 seconds your patient is going to stop breathing and become completely paralyzed for about 5 minutes, until the sux wears off.


No ventilation by you = cardiac arrest = Code Blue = CPR, and the outcome is not likely to be good.

I'm just saying.

Bonus: the app is free, the way we like it.

But there's a small catch: for free you only get 5 of the over 300 recipes for anesthesia cooked up by doctors Fleisher and Roizen.


Not to worry — you can be a specialist.

[via Richard Kashdan — I wonder which five he's decided to focus on?]

August 4, 2011 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Sparrow Key Ring with Birdhouse — Just the thing for the person who can never find their keys


All you have to do is remember to do what sparrows do and go to your house whenever you're in the area.

You can't do that?

Are you a birdbrain or what?


From a website:



Let the little sparrow be your best friend.

He will be everywhere with you.

He can whistle to make noise and ask for help in an emergency.

And as soon you come home he puts your keys in a safe place.

The little birdhouse is self-adhesive on the back.




August 4, 2011 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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