Grey bar Blue bar
Share this:

Wed, 9 Jan 2008

Casper and hidden IE windows..

OK.. so it was a long time ago, and old code is supposed to embarrass you.. but i pulled casper.exe form our webpage today to test something for the project im on..

interestingly it runs pretty ok, and actually doesnt look from the outside as ugly as it is underneath..

if you never used casper, take it for a quick spin.. if nothing else u will be suprised by how many invisible windows currently live on your desktop..


Sat, 29 Dec 2007

Another time sink-hole..

A while back some of us discovered and subsequently lost days to "The Python Challenge". Well.. prepare to write off a little more time, and check out "Project Euler". From its about page:


What is Project Euler?

Project Euler is a series of challenging mathematical/computer programming problems that will require more than just mathematical insights to solve. Although mathematics will help you arrive at elegant and efficient methods, the use of a computer and programming skills will be required to solve most problems.

The motivation for starting Project Euler, and its continuation, is to provide a platform for the inquiring mind to delve into unfamiliar areas and learn new concepts in a fun and recreational context.

Give it a whirl.. it will activate parts of your brain you have probably ignored since university..

Sun, 23 Dec 2007

Amazon SimpleDB - Outsource your database??

Amazon announced the beta of Amazon SimpleDB without that much fanfare, but it is an interesting trend to watch..

Essentially amazon are giving the power of a database to people used to excel and simple queries, backed by their massively optimised infrastructure. It will make popping up a web shop even more trivial than it has been in the past, and i guess continues along the growing trend of allowing "content to be king". i.e. u dont need a sql geek in your corner, just a good idea .

Now this will obviously work only for simple queries in the short term, but it is a big score for a pay per use hosted db service. It obviously raises privacy questions but this is a trade off im sure many will happily make..

(it also raises the interesting question of sabotaging someone, by simply running multiple queries on his site.. i.e. since the site owner is paying amazon based on db usage, a simple wget script that fetches the price of an item recursively could end up costing the site owner a small fortune! Now this is a similar problem to the one google had with ad-words, but ad-words self regulate based on pricing.. i.e. if i have an ad and am willing to pay $1 per impression today i am happy because i have calculated that i get an x% conversion. Some monkey wgets my add 9999999999999 times effectively uppign my cost of the advert.. but.. this also affects my value.. because my conversion rate just went down.. so i will be willing to pay less for the ad.. the db usage cost (from the little ive seen) is fixed.. which means it costs me, but never amazon.. (in an extreme, it would pay amazon to hire ppl to surf apps that are hosted through simple DB) ;>)

Thats just me the pessimist speaking.. for now.. its cool, and bears watching!

Tue, 18 Dec 2007

The coolest thing this weekend...

Ok.. so being the cautious geek i am, i had bought a mac mini a while back before jumping into the OS X waters.. Unfortunately it was probably the last PPC mac mini's sold, which means it has limited options (unless i convert it to yellowdog or somethign of the sort).

About 4 months ago i bought a (huuuuge) tv.. unfortunately i quickly figured out that the reason i never bothered with one before is that there isnt really anything decent on tv, and deels and i still spent more time watching googlevids than anythign else..

Enter gurgle-tv (gurgle was the name of the old mini)

" (gurgle booting - picture in portrait for some reason)

So it sits there, with a little bluetooth applemouse next to it (which is enough for navigating to media and starting it). i do wish that this version of the mini had the little apple remote.. i thought it would which would have been uber..

Instead, i enabled "Desktop Sharing" on the machine.. So now, if i look for it in finder from my laptop i see:


It appears to be using a hacked version of VNC, but for what i need here its perfect.. This allows me to drive gurgle perfectly from any of the other machines..


(note the std flurry screensaver in all its glory)

Now i clearly need to cut some cables so i can hide the vga cable running from the tv to the mini, but it should be pretty easy going.. and i finally made use of my TV this weekend!


This is probably old news for most of the ppl who have been running HTPC's for a while, but it surprises me how close it takes us to Star-Trek/futuristic sci-fi movie style connectivity..

A decent IM/Voip client and we can have our calls interrupt our viewing and come up on the screen.. Voice to speech means we can relatively easy get around to "computer, find me the address for XYZ" and let google do the rest.. and of course you-tube / have just taken on a life of their own..

ahh.. the things u do when u should be report writing..


Fri, 14 Dec 2007

I just dont have the time to...

This came up during discussions today and i found it fortuitous to catch it on "Raganwald"s blog tonight:

"I can change any time I want to, I just don't want to.

Does that sound like anything you've heard before? Perhaps from a smoker? Or someone who does not exercise?

Or maybe someone who says they could learn new things, but they are too busy right now keeping on top of what they already know? Or the converse? Someone who is too busy playing with new things to buckle down and work hard with what they already know?

Change is brutally hard. Nobody finds it easy."

This has been a pet peeve of mine from long before i even knew that peeves made good pets... on that completely ridiculous note, i will now proceed to rant..

Back when i as in University i was an absolute sports nut.. i never watched or spectated much, but i played everything! Organized football more than 3 times a week, Gym at least 5 nights a week, Squash in between and once managed to even compete in a Triathlon. At the time, i was amazed (and mildly annoyed) by pot-bellied aquaintences who would mention how "they just dont have time to exercise". You hear the excuse from lots of people. My brother in-law used to tell me "you can do that while you are single, but it changes when you marry". I know marriage brings new compromises so i took his word for it.. 3 years into my marriage i noticed i was still gyming and squashing, but then he said "you can do that as a young couple.. but not when you have kids.. ".. i think i start to see a pattern here..

If anyone knows me, they would probably know that i read a fair bit.. Deels and i often spend the better part of a Saturday or Sunday sipping coffee and reading. I am often told however that this is a luxury afforded me because [we dont have kids|my job encourages it|insert reason here].. i think the pattern is obvious..

*Quick almost pointless interlude* About 2 months ago during pretty regular conversation Deels asked me "Did you ever think you would grow up to become unfit?" The words literally shook me to my core. One of the problems i suspect most males have is that we kinda form a body image in university and keep it in our heads despite all evidence to the contrary.. Interestingly to soothe the sting of her (honestly innocent) comment, i almost said "i just dont have the time.."

I honestly believe that you can make time for anything.. When you say you dont have the time, what you really should be saying is "i dont really want to spend time doing _that_ right now". There is nothing wrong with this.. I was prepared to spend more time on physical activity in my teenage years than i am now.. Its a choice i make but the different phrasing holds a world of difference. One lays the "blame" for my rounder figure squarely at my feet, while the other makes excuses for my choice and looks for some other scapegoat..

You dont have time to read? Why? i manage to find the time every day.. oh.. i dont watch TV and generally sleep <= 5 hours a night at most.. "but i need my 8 hours!".. no.. you choose your 8 hours.. and this isn't bad.. but it _is_ your choice..

We have interviewed people in the past who mentioned how they havnt read infosec / technical material for a bit because [they were tired|they were...].. i call bull#@$@ They haven't because they made different choices.. Again.. im not judging the choices either way, im just saying that one shouldnt externalise the reasons for the choices one makes..

If you have been sitting on an excuse like this, ill end with something i read recently in a Tom Peters book. He said something to the effect of "Making a change is easy.. its actually easier than you think.. its maintaining the change thats hard.. Want to start exercise? Just do it.. Go for a run right now.. The change is made.. Whether or not you maintain it will require a different skill, but the change has been made"


PS.. sorry for the long blog hiatus - i have just been too busy to blog! PPS. Been hitting the gym again regularly for the past month, and Bradley and i make sure we get in our once a week squash :>>