1. Clockwork automata on the micro-scale.

    25 July 2007

    An article in the New Journal of Physics this month postulates a novel use for the not-yet-extant technology of nanotechnology: Building clockwork computers on a microscopic scale. The idea is that electronic circuitry isn't suitable for some environments but difference engines constructed on a microscopic scale might be because they would be far more precisely engineered and constructed with more durable materials. Sure, they'd be slower than conventional integrated circuits, but for some applications (like monitoring engine timings) you don't need a processor that can play Doom 3.

    I hate to break it to them, but this isn't a new …

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  2. Lynch's Law #4.

    25 July 2007

    No anonymity network is fully operational until the following three things have been successfully made available:


    1. A copy of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

    2. The King James Bible.

    3. Porn.

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  3. Cellular PDAs with RATs in the datawalls.

    24 July 2007

    RATs meaning remote access tools, that is. Malware that conceals itself in a system and lets someone on the outside with the right application and credentials connect and manipulate the system remotely. The classic such utility is Back Orifice by the Cult of the Dead Cow, and was probably the first of its kind which let you do such things as mess with the mouse cursor and typed text, flip the display upside down, access the webcam, and open or close the CD-ROM.

    It seems that combination cellphone/PDA's are now advanced enough to be targeted. Nowadays many cellphones have …

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  4. Backing up PalmOS devices using open-source software.

    24 July 2007

    When using the Pilot Link toolset with an open source operating system to back up a PalmOS device such as the Palm Treo 700p, remember two things: One, when you connect the phone to your system using the USB cable, it will create two devices in the /dev directory, /dev/ttyUSB0 and /dev/ttyUSB1 (assuming that there is only one Treo plugged in at a time). You'll want to reference the second device file, /dev/ttyUSB1. Secondly, press the hotsync button on the cable or activate the hotsync function on the device before running the pilot-link utility. This is the …

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  5. A long week, a late night, and so much to write...

    23 July 2007

    Well, let me see... it's been interesting times the past couple of days, which has left me precious little time to write about what's actually been going on with my day to day life lately.

    First off, early last week Alphonse Elric, Lyssa's primary machine and workstation at home packed it in. One moment he was cunching merrily away, the next utterly locked up. No amount of rebooting or jiggling was able to bring him back online, though we did notice that the components inside of his silver chassis (as well as the exhaust fans and chassis itself) were horribly …

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  6. Cleaning the screens of laptops.

    19 July 2007

    The premoistened towelettes that you can buy to clean the screen of your laptop computer (or at least the ones made by 3M, anyway) are basically lint-free disposable sheets soaked in a little water and isopropyl alcohol. Save your money and use a lint-free cloth and a little rubbing alcohol to clean your screen.

    The cleaning pads you can buy, however, have the advantage of being sealed and thus portable while abroad.

    Rubbing alcohol is also good for cleaning the chassis of computers, as well as the keyboards and heat sinks.

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  7. Cryptographic history hit-and-run.

    19 July 2007

    Someone in Italy has a real German Enigma machine from World War II up for auction on eBay. The Enigma machines were the mechanism used to implement the famous cryptosystem that protected German radio communications up until Allied cryptographers were able to figure out how it worked. With today's technology (in particular, programming languages) it isn't too difficult to implement one yourself once you know the principle, but if this is legit, it's a real piece of World War II and crypto history. Not many Enigma machines survived after the war was over; the few that are left are in …

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