I had an interesting idea for a personal security/cryptography product (and a corresponding market niche) recently, so I’ve been doing some reading about the CLR’s crypto classes. VisualStudio Magazine has some decent articles here and here and here. Food for thought… #

Wired has a good piece about the RIAA‘s attempts to shut down Kazaa, and Kazaa’s attempts to resist. This is deeply cool: networks of off-shore front companies, crypto, edgy software, decentralised networks, worryingly foreign-sounding names. Think data havens. Think Cryptonomicon. Bruce Sterling. Neuromancer. Entire business models liquefying into obsolescence like melting ice. Starving record-company execs begging on the streets for the price of a can of Special Brew… #

Anyway *cough* where was I? Ah yes, crypto. Adi Shamir, who muddied the waters a few years ago with Twinkle, is now describing an faster, hardware-based implementation of the Number Field Sieve factoring algorithm. He claims that his new device, called Twirl, should be able to factor 1024-bit RSA keys in under a year with a $10M cost. Frankly, I don’t have the maths to even begin to understand his paper or whether it might scale-up to, say, military-strength 2048 bit keys; but if it does then its goodbye banking system. I’m waiting for Bruce Schneier to tell me what to think about this one.


Good article on mobile blogging in Business 2.0. Apparently we’re supposed to call them “moblogs”. I mentioned this subject a couple of weeks ago. #

Classic science paper of the day: As We May Think by Vannevar Bush. Written in 1945, this is the original paper on hypertext, human-computer interaction, and many other fields. It also influenced amazing people like Ted Nelson, Alan Kay, and Douglas Engelbart. I first read this paper as a graduate student over ten years ago and it was such a pleasure to find it again. Another classic tomorrow. #

(I promised myself I’d keep the War/Bush stuff to a minimum today, but this one from is just too good!)

Eve of War

Can’t wait for Gulf War II? Then play the game. Great stuff. #

Oh wait, the real thing might already of started. Plenty of happenings “with possible British involvement” being reported here. #

The Herald Tribune has a thoughtful article on the coming war by William Pfaff:

“The difference between European and American views is more sensibly explained in terms of an irresponsible and ideology-fed enthusiasm of Bush administration advisers and leaders for global adventure and power, fostered by people with virtually no experience, and little seeming imaginative grasp, of what war means for its victims.”  Europe and America: Some know more about war #

Finally, here’s your very own cut-out-and-keep list of handy links for when you see that suspicious-looking crop-duster circling the city centre:

Patterns of Global Terrorism, brought to you by the US Dept of State Counterterrorism Office.

Center for the Study of Bioterrorism and Emerging Infections at St. Louis University.

TOXNET: Materials on toxicology, hazardous chemicals, and related areas from the US National Institutes of Health.

State of Michigan Biodefense Resource Centre.

Can Terrorists Build Nuclear Weapons? From the Nuclear Control Institute. They also have the entertaining Nuclear Terrorism – How To Prevent It.

UK Resilience, from our own dear government.

New Photos

I’ve just added a new set of photos taken back in 1987, when I walked the Coast to Coast path. There’s a couple of me looking very young. Ahh, those really were the days…


Is Everett Worth the Switch? Not to me it isn’t, especially as it seems that most of the good bits will be available as separate free downloads anyway – you just don’t get the IDE integration. I’ll definitely upgrade when Yukon is released. I mentioned Everett last November. #

Become a wireless ISP: for ?300. I really, really like this technology. #

The tool of the day is Reggie. A better regsvr32. #

The United States Army is branching out into online video gaming (yes, really). Getting decent reviews. If I were living in the middle-east right now I’d find this pretty bloody insensitive. God bless America. #

And finally, from the stale links department:

Good stuff: The Guardian Century news archive (1899-1999). Beautiful landscape photographs by Charlie Waite.

Silly stuff: Gallery of classic British TV test-cards. Dictionary of Australian slang – bonzer! A lipsum generator.

Downright strange: Database of payphone numbers. Happy Tree Friends (warning: cartoon violence/gore).

Patent Madness

Yikes! A company called SBC Intellectual Property is claiming to have a US patent covering the concept of navigation bars (like the one on the left-side of this page) in web sites. Now they’ve started demanding licence fees from small e-commerce sites. The patent seems very broad and un-innovative to me. Hopefully, like BT’s attempt to patent hyperlinks, it’ll be struck-down.

Related madness: RIM are sued for transmitting emails over wireless networks. And Palm go down to Xerox over its graffiti. So lets get this straight – the idea of writing in a “single, unbroken stroke” is new and innovative is it?

Global village war

Another bad week in the global village war. Ricin in North London, Bush is running out of patience, Blair can’t make up his mind, Fylingdales gets to work for the man for a couple more decades, and over on the other side of the city that I live in, an ordinary policeman dies with a knife in his chest.

I lived in Crumpsall for three years. I must have walked, biked, or drove past that house hundreds of times. I’ve also walked on the moors surrounding Fylingdales many times. And we’re driving down to North London tomorrow to visit Debra’s family. This is getting horribly close to my little life.

Maybe this is how it starts: a few little events, getting closer. And then, if you’re us, buildings are falling and people drop in the streets. And if you’re them, you get to watch B52s carving contrails across your sky while the bombs fall and the food and medicine run out and the rats grow fat. #

A recent poll tells us that one in two Americans now believe Saddam was responsible for the attack on the World Trade Centre” – The United States of America has gone mad, by John Le Carre.

Personally, I’ve never met an American that I didn’t like. And I’ve met quite a few. I like their sense of fairness and justice, their pride in individuality and self-reliance, and their sense of optimism. I like Americans. But I’m starting to suspect that this is because I’ve only ever met the minority who are open-minded enough to travel abroad. #

We have about 60 per cent of the world’s wealth but only 6.3 per cent of its population. Our real task in the coming period (will be) to maintain this position of disparity. We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford the luxury of altruism and world benefaction … the day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are hampered then by idealistic slogans the better.
– George Kennan, head of U.S. State Department Planning, February 24, 1948. #

Surfing the Apocalypse. Cool video from the Guerrilla News Network.

Java vs. .NET

I sense a great disturbance in the blogosphere. An informative – but also quite amusing – blog-mediated Java vs .NET flame-war seems to be starting between some guy called Carlos Perez and Developmentor’s Jason Whittington. It seems to have started over at and Carlos’s blog. Jason posts some pro-dotnet responses, and the comments hit the fan. Worth a read.

For what its worth, I definitely side with the .NET camp on this one. The technology’s advantages over Java are just too compelling: in particular, language neutrality, the superb toolset, the ability to write rich, responsive client apps, and support for legacy COM components. Even if Microsoft is forced to ship Sun’s Java runtime with its future OS’s, I think Java’s days are numbered.

Tiny hard-drives

Consumer hardware news: Dirt-cheap, removable, hell-even-disposable, 2.5″ and 1.6″ hard disks using the new iVDR and Serial ATA standards. Also, Microsoft’s is announcing a new portable media player called “Media2Go”. Press release here and speculation from HardwareGeeks here. Presumably this is to compete with the iPod, which is rumoured to be getting multimedia capability soon.