Ramblings & ephemera

A wallet returned after 60+ years

From KOMU’s “Sarah’s Stories – Wallet Memories” (KOMU: 4 January 2007): MEXICO [Misouri] – A local resident enjoyed an early, unexpected Christmas present. Ray Heilwagen, an 83-year-old World War II veteran, has a story that stretches from France to his front lawn. … During war, a wallet can be a soldier’s most prized pocession, full […]

Why we can easily remember jingles but not jokes

From Natalie Angier’s “In One Ear and Out the Other” (The New York Times: 16 March 2009): In understanding human memory and its tics, Scott A. Small, a neurologist and memory researcher at Columbia, suggests the familiar analogy with computer memory. We have our version of a buffer, he said, a short-term working memory of […]

Incompetent & they don’t know it

From Erica Goode’s “Incompetent People Really Have No Clue, Studies Find: They’re blind to own failings, others’ skills” (The New York Times: 18 January 2000): Dunning, a professor of psychology at Cornell, worries about this because, according to his research, most incompetent people do not know that they are incompetent. On the contrary. People who […]

Providing an opening for criminals without realizing it

From Bush, Kerry cross paths in Iowa (BBC News: 4 August 2004): US President George W Bush and his Democratic rival John Kerry have spent the day hunting votes within blocks of each other in the state of Iowa. Mr Bush met supporters at a rally in the town of Davenport, while Mr Kerry held […]

Banks have more to fear from internal attacks than external

From electricnews.net’s Internal security attacks affecting banks (The Register: 23 June 2005): Internal security breaches at the world’s banks are growing faster than external attacks, as institutions invest in technology, instead of employee training. According to the 2005 Global Security Survey, published by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, 35 per cent of respondents said that they had […]

From P2P to social sharing

From Clay Shirky’s “File-sharing Goes Social“: The RIAA has taken us on a tour of networking strategies in the last few years, by constantly changing the environment file-sharing systems operate in. In hostile environments, organisms often adapt to become less energetic but harder to kill, and so it is now. With the RIAA’s waves of […]

How patents ruined the Wright brothers

From Robert X. Cringely’s “Patently Absurd: Why Simply Making Spam Illegal Won’t Work“: Nobody can deny that the Wright brothers were pioneers. Their use of a wind tunnel helped define the science of aerodynamics and had influence far beyond their time. But their secrecy and litigious nature held back the progress of flying, and eventually […]

OmniPerception = facial recognition + smart card

From Technology Review‘s’ “Face Forward“: To get around these problems, OmniPerception, a spinoff from the University of Surrey in England, has combined its facial-recognition technology with a smart-card system. This could make face recognition more robust and better suited to applications such as passport authentication and building access control, which, if they use biometrics at […]

Face recognition software as an example of “function creep”

From Technology Review‘s’ “Creepy Functions“: Consider one example of function creep. The Electoral Commission of Uganda has retained Viisage Technology to implement a face recognition system capable of enrolling 10 million voters in 60 days. The goal is to reduce voter registration fraud. But Woodward notes that the system might also be put to work […]

Walke describes the Battle of Island Number 10

From “Operations of the Western Flotilla” by Henry A. Walke, Commander of the Carondelet, describing the Battle of Island Number Ten: Having received written orders from the flag-officer, under date of March 30th, I at once began to prepare the Carondelet for the ordeal. All the loose material at hand was collected, and on the […]

Dead for 3 years

From The Telegraph‘s “Skeleton woman’ dead in front of TV for years“: A woman’s skeleton was discovered in her flat three years after she is believed to have died, it emerged today. Joyce Vincent was surrounded by Christmas presents and the television and heating in her bedsit were still on. The 40-year-old’s body was so […]

Trusted Computing: security for whom? from whom?

From Bruce Schneier’s “Trusted Computing Best Practices“: The language [in the Trusted Computing Group’s best practices document] has too much wiggle room for companies to break interoperability under the guise of security: “Furthermore, implementations and deployments of TCG specifications should not introduce any new interoperability obstacles that are not for the purpose of security.” That […]

Thieves use Bluetooth to find laptops in cars

From “Phone pirates in seek and steal mission“: MOBILE phone technology is being used by thieves to seek out and steal laptops locked in cars in Cambridgeshire. Up-to-date mobiles often have Bluetooth technology, which allows other compatible devices, including laptops, to link up and exchange information, and log on to the internet. But thieves in […]

A 4000 year old ship in the desert

From “World’s oldest ship timbers found in Egyptian desert“: The oldest remains of seafaring ships in the world have been found in caves at the edge of the Egyptian desert along with cargo boxes that suggest ancient Egyptians sailed nearly 1,000 miles on rough waters to get treasures from a place they called God’s Land, […]

Better technical security increases personal risks

From The New York Times‘ “They Stole $92 Million, but Now What?“: Just one week ago, Colin Dixon, the manager of a depot where bank notes are stored, was driving home on a quiet Tuesday evening when what he thought was a police car with flashing blue lights pulled him over. It was the beginning, […]

How a 75-year-old jewel thief did it

From MSNBC’s “75-year-old jewel thief looks back“: When Doris Payne went to work, she stepped into her fancy dress, high heels and donned a wide-brimmed hat. Her creamy, mocha skin was made up just so, her handbag always designer. Sometimes a pair of plain gold earrings would do. Always, she looked immaculate, well-to-do. … New […]

Robot on the run

From The Age: Scientists running a pioneering experiment with “living robots” which think for themselves said they were amazed to find one escaping from the centre where it “lives”. The small unit, called Gaak, was one of 12 taking part in a “survival of the fittest” test at the Magna science centre in Rotherham, South […]

The printed book results in more handwritten mss

From “William Caxton“, at The Science Show: More than 500 years later a copy of Caxton’s first edition of Chaucer became the most expensive book ever sold, knocked down at auction in the 1990s for 4.6 million pounds. But in the 15th Century, the obvious appeal of the newly printed books lay in their value […]