Ankh Morpork's Finest Coder
Thursday, February 17, 2005

XBOX Power Cord Recalled
Microsoft is providing new power cords at no charge to replace the cords that originally came with some Xbox consoles. You will need your Serial Number and Manufacture date to verify if your Xbox Console requires a replacement cord. This is located on the bottom of your console. You will need your Manufacture date and Serial Number to order them at the website below.

Cool Gadgets 2

Imagine a machine which accepts CAD drawings, then produces a three dimensional prototype within a few hours for $100 - it now exists. The successful implementation of the technology points the way to this technology eventually finding its way into local bureau which produce while-you-wait samples as a service, and eventually to the home where designs could be downloaded from the internet and manifested at whim. [Website]

Danish scientists have made a scientific discovery with significant humanitarian and environmental potential. They have shown that it is possible to produce plants which change colour in the presence of specific compounds within the soil, opening the way for the first bomb and land-mine detection plant.

New type of passive lie detection technology has been developed which is claimed to accurately analyse voice patterns to detect levels of deception, excitement, stress, mental effort, concentration, hesitation, anger, love, lust and more. 95% accuracy claimed.

A new printing attachment for Braille printers promises a new world for the sight-impaired and those who share their lives, enabling Braille documents to be shared with sighted colleagues, teachers, friends and family. The PIA prints the corresponding ink characters above or alongside the Braille embossing and allows for images to be embossed and printed. Anything that appears on the computer screen can quickly be made into a raised, printed image on paper with software translation of text to Braille in Microsoft Word and Excel. [Website]

Cool Gadgets

Pens were created by the ancient Arabians in the Middle East towards the end of the slushee era before even paper had been invented. Thousands of years have since passed, and every great mind in recorded history has held one, yet most pen-related innovation has concentrated on the tip of the pen: fountain pens from Waterman, ball point pen from Laslo Biro, rollers from Japan. During the last century there have been approximately 150 patents granted connected with pens and improving the writing process. The shape of the holder though has remained the same, looking kind of familiar ... like the stick it was derived from. Until now that is, cos now there's the ergonomically-designed RinGPen.

The world's first practical submarine was built in 1620 by Dutch engineer Cornelis Jacobszoon Drebbel, under the patronage of James 1 of England. Drebbel built three submarines according to the sketchy information available from that time, each larger than the last and the third being capable of carrying 16 people, of which 12 were the oarsmen. No credible illustrations or accurate descriptions remain of Drebbel's submarine, though it seems the last of the three prototypes constructed was probably a decked over and heavily modified rowboat which was regularly seen in the Thames river undergoing trials.

If you're a creative professional, Wacom's new Cintiq 21 UX might just be the tool we've been waiting for. Users can draw directly onto the 21.3-inch screen, eight programmable ExpressKeys and Touch Strips for scrolling, zooming and changing brush settings with the touch of a finger. But wait, there's more, like 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity, 1600 x 1200 resolution, a 170-degree viewing angle, anti-glare coating, 24-bit color with ICC colour profile and a 400:1 contrast ratio. Expected in March, the Cintiq 21 UX is expected to cost US$2500 on the street.

A new RFID-enabled pen will be shown for the first time next week at the Paperworld exhibition in Frankfurt. Jointly developed by Dutch company Allwrite and Fisher SpacePen using SOKYMAT RFID tags, the pen offers a number of benefits other than the ability to write on paper. The idea behind the pen is that the RFID tag in it gives the owner a unique ID and can hence be used in a number of very useful ways. We're not so sure how useful it will be.

Wearable displays allow the user to visually interface with the omnipresent digital world whilst navigating their physical environment. It's no exaggeration to say that the SCOPO could very well be to the eye what the I-Pod was to the ear.

Over land, water, ice or snow - the hovercraft offers a cost-effective, multi-purpose vehicle for recreation and transportation with the thrill of travelling on air. And now Universal Hovercraft has marketed a range of affordable hovercraft kits to house up to ten people in this dynamic mode of travelling, including the striking Hoverwing XR with retractable wings.

Of Technology & Men
Automotive innovator Rinspeed has done it again. Each year Rinspeed releases one or more prototypes that push the edge of the automotive design envelope. This year, the company delved into the future again, with a car that senses the driver and reacts accordingly. The "Senso" actually "senses" the driver by measuring his (or her) biometric data, and then exerts a positive effect on him with the help of patterns, colors, music and fragrances. A person who is relaxed and wide-awake simply drives better and more safely.

Eye of the Tiget
A massive search for tigers in a wildlife reserve in India's western state of Rajasthan has failed to find firm evidence any of them are alive.

Three hundred forestry workers spent two weeks looking for tiger paw prints in the Sariska reserve, set up in 1979 as part of a tiger conservation scheme.

Environmentalists say 15 tigers counted there last May have disappeared.

Screen this!
Two cool screens to tell you about.

This is a Nano display added onto an IPOD. It makes the screen more vibrant and visible from all angles. I wonder how much power it requires as compared to the current screens.

This is a holographic projector being sold for 15,000 at Harrods. Looks amazing.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Interesting Tools
The first thing that came to my interest is the AlphaGrip 5. Its a 3d keyboard and mouse in a wireless controller. No more carpel tunnel? Website

The second thing that was interesting to me is this case mod. At CUbiC, our next state for the BookReader is the portable version. This seems like an interesting adaptation for that. Website

Why do a masters degree?
In my opinion, schools are an evil conspiracy of morning people. If you've ever wanted to switch your sleeping patterns, wake up whenever you wanted to, sleep whenever you wanted to, then college is for you. Forget going to class, forget going to the labs. Who cares about the exams. Sleep is the most important part of any college students life. Believe it or not, mine too. I have the wierdest sleeping patterns. Some days i'll switch to the mass public's sleeping patterns and other days they will be completely reversed.

I told a friend at school about how Napoleon used to sleep only a few minutes at a streach on a frequent basis. I've done everything to my sleeping patterns. Stayed up for days, slept for days, stayed up for hrs and slept for hrs. But I am yet to try the patterns that Napolen and other famous people are supposedly said to have. If not in college, where else. Viva La College!
Thursday, February 10, 2005

There goes the english language

Stem cell newborn heart aid hope

Now, when you read the above, what do you take away from the headline. The first couple of times I saw it, I really believed, they just randomly selected words and concatenated them.

Clones causing MRSA problem

Take this headline. More informative. Tells you whats being reported. Now, if you delve into the article, they don't mention what an MRSA is. Sure the "MRSA problem may be due to the emergence of highly contagious clones of the superbug." But what in the world does MRSA stand for?

Journalists are getting worse by the hour at their craft. Is there no pride left in one's work anymore?

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Evolution pioneer dies aged 100
Ernst Mayr, the evolutionary biologist who has been called "the Darwin of the 20th Century" has died aged 100.

The Harvard professor of zoology passed away at a retirement community in Massachusetts, US, following a brief illness, his family said.

Amongst many achievements, Mayr may be remembered most for pioneering the modern definition of a species.

Go Darwinism!

Discworld's Year of the Fruitbat
Well no. Its not he discworld and its not the Year of the Fruitbat and you won't be taken into it kicking and screaming. However, It is the Year of the Rooster and you might be taken pecking and crowing into it.

Malawian President Quits His Party
This is the first time I've ever heard of something like this happening. The Malawian president, Bingu wa Mutharika, has quit his party (The United Democratic Front UDF) on the national day of Anti-Corruption.

"I have decided to resign from the UDF with immediate effect because firstly I no longer have support within the party... my sin as far as the UDF is concerned is because of my anti-corruption stand," he said.

The president is a former World Bank Economist and from the southern tea-growing district of Thyolo [said Cholo]. Almost all politicians there are corrupt. At least this guy has some financial background and if anyone could have taken the country to a better place, it would have been him. Of course, in politics, no one likes a man who doesn't play the game like everyone else so he's been outcast by his own party on many occasions. He lost his post on COMESA once the previous president came to power. Malawi is so totally messed up which is so sad because its such a great place.
Monday, February 07, 2005

INSANE Photography.
Imagine a 4 Gigapixel camera and the kind of detail it can capture. Now go look at the http://www.gigapxl.org/

Imagine the Golden Gate Bridge.

Now imagine if you zoomed in on that image, what would you see.

Yeah thats one of the pillars of the bridge. Amazing detail. There are other image examples on the website's image gallery.
Sunday, February 06, 2005

Java creator James Gosling and his "beef" with .Net
James Gosling, creator of Java and CTO of Sun's Developer Products says that Microsoft’s decision to support C and C++ in the common language runtime in .NET one of the "biggest and most offensive mistakes that they could have made". Apparenlty, this “has left open a security hole large enough to drive many, many large trucks through".

1. Gosling seems to forget that Java was originally "Written" in C/C++.
2. Gosling forgets about JNI which allows java to do the same thing he purpots .Net to do.

Now, there are so many application and operating systems and programs which are written with C/C++. Does this then mean that those also have security holes "large enough to drive many, many large trucks through". If Gosling knows about this obviously big security hole, then why doesn't he first fix Java before knocking .Net.

I think this quote is quite apt for Gosling. "Let he who is without guilt cast the first stone."

My Conclusion - Gosling should stop demeaning .Net and try to improve on their work and make Java better than .Net and let him start with a better IDE!

What does your last name mean?
Last Name: bhatia
Indian (Gujarat, Bhatia): Hindu (Bhatia) and Sikh name, based on the name of this mercantile community. The Bhatias claim relationship with the Bhatti Rajputs. See also Bhatt and Bhatti.

Last Name: Bhatti
Indian (Panjab, Rajasthan): Hindu (Rajput) and Sikh name believed to be from the eponymous ancestor of the Bhatti tribe. Etymologically, the name is related to Sanskrit bhạṭta ‘lord’ (see Bhat). This tribe is by far the largest and most widely distributed of the Rajput tribes of the Panjab. There is also an area in the Panjab called Bhattiana, which was once ruled by the Bhattis. Bhatti occurs as a personal name in Sanskrit literature and was the name of a well-known Sanskrit poet of the 6th century.

Last Name: Bhatt
Indian: Hindu (Brahman) name, from Sanskrit bhạṭta ‘lord’, ‘learned one’, from bhartr- ‘lord’, ‘husband’, a derivative of bhar- ‘to bear’, ‘support’.

Well my family is from the north west region of india and apparently we are related to the Bhatti Rajputs. Rajputs were rulers of India. More on that below.

Rajputs Related: People
(räj´poots) [Sanskrit,=son of a king], dominant people of Rajputana , an historic region now almost coextensive with the state of Rajasthan, NW India. The Rajputs are mainly Hindus (although there are some Muslim Rajputs) of the warrior caste ; traditionally they have put great value on etiquette and the military virtues and take great pride in their ancestry. Of these exogamous clans, the major ones were Rathor, Kachchwaha, Chauhan, and Sisodiya. Their power in Rajputana grew in the 7th cent., but by 1616 all the major clans had submitted to the Mughals . With the decline of Mughal power in the early 18th cent., the Rajputs expanded through most of the plains of central India, but by the early 19th cent. they had been driven back by the Marathas, Sikhs, and British. Under the British, many of the Rajput princes maintained independent states within Rajputana, but they were gradually deprived of power after India attained independence in 1947.

If your interested to know what your last name means, check out Ancestry

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

The real story of Patching Browsers
Secunia, a security website details all the vulnerabilities of products out there. In an interesting twist, I found these graphs.

Mozilla 1.0

Internet Explorer 6

Seems like 33% of IE is unpatched compared to 83% for Mozilla. Oh No! Well fear not because that isn't the complete story.


Internet Explorer

So it seems as though the number of faults in IE is MUCHO GRANDE as compared to Mozilla. Of course i'd give both companies a rap on the hands for having Unpatched software. Bad IE! Bad Mozilla!

FYI - In case your interested in a product listing, check it out here.

French against increase to 35hr work week
The BBC is reporting that most french people don't want an increase to the 35hr work week that the current government is pushing towards. WHAT!!!

Arsenal take on Manchester United today. Winner of that game will take on Chelsea for the Champion's Cup. Go Arsenal!!

Williams, a caddy for Tiger Woods, had an accident in a stock car race recently. Morale of the story according to BBC, don't switch sports!

Current Temp in Phx - 49F

By the by, if you want to learn to ski in Arizona, here's how.

Cryptography Links
Here are some interesting things I came across.
  1. The Misuse of RC4 in Microsoft Word and Excel - http://eprint.iacr.org/2005/007.pdf
  2. CIA Crypto Sculpture (Langley Va) - http://elonka.com/kryptos/
  3. The army's Cryptanalysis handbook - http://www.umich.edu/~umich/fm-34-40-2/

Cryptography in .Net Framework 2.0: Design of the Cryptography Application Block
The Cryptography Application Block was designed to achieve the following goals:

Provide a simple and intuitive interface to the commonly required functionality:

  1. Encapsulate the logic that is used to perform the most common application cryptography tasks.
  2. Present a standard consistent model for common cryptography tasks
  3. Make sure that the application block is extensible
  4. Make sure minimal or negligible performance impact compared to manually written cryptography code that accomplishes the same functionality

Figure 1 illustrates the design of the Cryptography Application Block.

ISSUES? Definately. Why is the CAB (Cryptograhy Application Block) only providing Symmetric functionality? (Symmetric encryption is where the Key used to encrypt plaintext and decrypt ciphertext are the same.) What about Asymmetric functionality (Public/Prive key encryption)?

On the other hand the Cryptography Application Block will be updated to work with the .NET Framework 2.0 and may include additional improvements based on customer feedback. So feedback away!!