Tuesday, February 28, 2006

PIN Busting

This paper by Mike Bond Steven J. Murdoch and Jolyon Clulow from the Computer Laboratory at the University of Cambridge, was published a while back and even made it to the BBC News site. Steven was on my course at Glasgow.

Since I recently received one of the PIN letters using Hydalam's technology, I thought I'd have a go using Photoshop CS2. I scanned in the PIN section using my flat bed scanner at 2400dpi and 48 bit colour and saved as a TIFF, loaded in Photoshop and followed their instructions reasonably closely. The threshold I found was the most important function, Gaussian blur helped to make it more readable and a tweak of the levels producing quite amazing results. Whilst I didn't get the whole PIN I got 2 of the numbers correct, 1 was a similar glyph and the last was plain wrong.

I'm sure a few more attempts with the scanner and Photoshop and I would have probably got the whole number.

Interesting experiment and quite surprising that this was possible using a 50 pound scanner!

del.icio.us bookmarks via spotlight!

Here's a posting from the download squad which allows you to search your del.icio.us bookmarks through spotlight. It seems quite integrated as a search for "palm" on my computer now reveals 46 entries under Bookmarks! Very simple to use and logs in when you boot up your mac. Combined with the del.icio.us firefox plugin and this spotlight plugin I no longer need to visit del.icio.us again (unless I'm on my XP machine).

I found this article originally from the TUAW here
The Download Squad article is here
And "delimport" is here

Anagram Underground Maps

Since the London Underground Map names were all made into anagrams a few weeks back, many more underground and train maps from around the world of been altered. It's Glasgow's turn now - I found it on Boing Boing and the image is below:

I particularly like Partick's Crap Kit!!


Friday, February 24, 2006

Friday Joke

I heard this joke courtesy of my father-in-law:

A top surgeon was braggin' in the pub about how he'd saved the hands of one of his patients that day. They'd lost all their fingers in an accident and they have now fully recovered as a concert pianist.

Well, that's not as good as my patient - he lost both his legs in an accident and now, after being reattached, he's a hundred meter medalist!!!

The third guy looks at the both of them and says they're nothing in comparison to what he'd done. A man was riding his horse down the railway tracks and a train, coming in the opposite direction, hit him leaving only the horses arse and a cowboy hat as the remains. The doctor proudly announces - he's now President of the United States!!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

New RSS Feeds

I've got new RSS feeds for this site which now run through feedburner. Please resubscribe using either the big button on the front page in the "My Blog" section, or the following link:


Pirated DVD Advert

I purchased a DVD last night at Costco (Ocean's Twelve), not seen it yet and it was only £5 so I thought that was quite good!

The first thing that fell out after opening was the above leaflet telling me (below) not to purchase a pirated DVD... Before the movie starts I was also subjected to a five minute advert on why pirating is bad placing it on a par with stealing a car! I couldn't skip forward or back during the advert so I had to watch it...

I think a better tactic would be a thankyou note showering me in thanks for purchasing the DVD after the release date and not pirating it off the 'net. Not one forcing me to bin a paper advert, write a blog post and waste 5 minutes of my time.

It all just makes me want to buy another...

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Lost and Found Camera...

A lady on holiday in the US recently lost her Camera in Hawaii and reported it to the local Park Ranger. After returning home the Park Ranger called giving her the name and number of somebody who claims to have found her camera!

She called the number and identified the camera down to spare batteries, case and memory cards. However the person at the other end decided not to return the camera!! Apparently their nine year old son likes the camera so much they don't want to take it from him... "he was recently diagnosed with diabetes, and he's now convinced he has bad luck" so they don't want to give him more bad luck by taking the camera from him! To add salt to the wound they "had to spend a lot of money to get a charger and a memory card"!!

As far as I remember diabetes is far from a fatal disease, but a mere condition which people can quite happily live with for the whole of their lives - I don't see how teaching your kid that stealing is good and "finders keepers" balances this out.

The linked blog has all sorts of comments about whether she should name and shame the thieving couple.

It would seem the police won't do much in this case because it is between the US and Canada, so I think media attention and blog attention will be far more useful. I wouldn't post a name, but I would post a town the thieves live in, describe the camera in detail and contact their local press - get them to run a story on it.


Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Igor Pasternak has thought of a new type of cruise airliner which is essentially a dirigible which takes off and lands vertically, but contain all the facilities a traditional cruise sealiner would have.

It reminds me of Joe Haldeman's "The Forever War" where nuclear powered dirigibles constantly circle the earth with the general public embarking and disembarking the vessels as they wish.

Igor is hoping to get his Aeroscraft up in the air by 2010!


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Blair Rejects a Tax!!

Tony Blair's Taxathon would seem to have come to an end (at least for today anyway). He has rejected an additional tax "to put tax on" air travel to cut pollution. Presumably Tony Blair hasn't bought a ticket recently as my last flight cost more in tax than in travel...

According to the Daily Telegraph article, Tony Blair stated:

It would take a "fairly hefty whack" for people to cut back on flights, adding that it would be hard to sell such a move.


Thursday, February 02, 2006

An interesting read...

Particularly given the current situation in Gaza - and the their most interesting cartoon of the month:

Akhbar al-Khalij, January 29, 2006 (Bahrain)
As the Islamic world reacted with anger to caricatures of Muhammad in a Danish newspaper, this cartoon claimed the controversy was a result of “The Penetration of Zionism to Denmark.” The cheese, shaped like a Star of David, is labeled “Danish products.” The text on the far left reads, “Boycott it!”

Some links to related articles are below:

O Mohammed, Where Are Thou (Humour)?
Support Denmark
Free Speech
Depictions of Mohammed Throughout History