January 27, 2006

late night…

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:30 am by a11en

Well, a late night for the Alenmeister… in 2 labs, working on work to show my prof. tomorrow at Group Meeting, and have a stack of papers to grade, as well as a meeting in the morning at 10am. Fun Fun.

Some Yerba Mate in the cup to help this all along…

Earworm: “All Through The Night” performed by Ella Fitzgerald from the album The Cole Porter Songbook (Disc 1)

Thinking about: Orientation Domains in Copper Indium Diselenide. Wondering if it might be the reason for my x-ray diffraction results… oh well, SIMS will help answer this question a bit…

January 25, 2006

Don’t you love installers that screw things up?

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:33 am by a11en

Apparently Adobe’s CS suite installer (or at least the Illustrator installer) fubars the /tmp/ folder in your hard-drive. You must be an administrator to remove and replace this folder in order to allow thunderbird to send mail again as well as preview.app to create new files again. Fun and joy. Why can’t they just do it properly?


Ahh!! TAship!

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:48 am by a11en

Ah!! Why does it all seem to go crazy all at the same time? And it all happens about the time you need to focus on one thing. Prelim is seriously hurting due to TAship commitments this week, and it’s driving me nutso. I may have to go on little sleep just to get somewhere meager this week.


It also seems to me that TA’s are always running in crisis mode. There’s always something that needed to be done 2 weeks ago (perhaps because we learn our appointments 2 weeks late??).

Oh well. Life is never overly kind, is it. It farts and burps and slithers on the ground sometimes… and it doesn’t really care what you think of it. 😉 Guess I better learn to cope!! 🙂

January 21, 2006

Victor Wooten

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:10 pm by a11en

absolutely rocks. Bassist for Bela Fleck and the Flecktones… here he is with his own version of Amazing Grace…

[Wooten On Grace]

January 20, 2006

Dashboard Widgets for Blogs…

Posted in Mac at 6:47 am by a11en

since it looked like some hits were coming in regarding dashboard widgets for blogs, I will post here two dashboard widgets I have used to write here in the past, and a few comments regarding them as well…

One point of clarification- Dashboard does not equal Dashboard.  😉  Meaning… Dashboard (WordPress)… we’re talking Dashboard on the MacOsX Tiger (10.4.x) Dashboard.  [For those who are using linux/KDE, there is some ability to install/use Tiger’s widgets in KDE as well.]
i) “dashblog”

My comments- works with wordpress, however features are quite limited and currently no way to catagorize your post. Plus- it’s quite small in the dashboard, making it easy to have up all the time for random brain-farts.

ii) “RapidMetaBlog”

Pro- takes categories from wordpress. Con- Absolutely huge realestate on the dashboard. I still have it up there, but it’s insanely large.

Finally, there’s a third which I haven’t tried yet which appears to promise the best of (i) and (ii) above: “WordPressDash” (will try this soon, and report back).

A small note regarding configuration, the following url will be required for you to interface with the writing portion of wordpress internals: https://searching4arcadia.wordpress.com/xmlrpc.php (login with username and password in sections on the widgets that ask for them)

Hope this helps someone!

Brainfart: wondering why CrystalDiffract continues to crash on me while zooming etc. with a 3 phase mixture and filled patterns checkmarked

Earworm: “You Should Belong To Me” performed by Ray LaMontagne from the album Live-Double Door, Chicago, IL

January 18, 2006

The new prohibition…

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:04 pm by a11en

is all about tobacco. We can’t smoke here, can’t smoke there, can’t smoke anywhere anymore. Why? Because of hyped up faked statistics. [Read the journal articles if you really want to know the skinny.] SHS is as much a hazard as the local diner’s grill…

And so few have died in comparison to alcohol related deaths. Why aren’t they doing the same thing with Alcohol? Because it’s been tried before… and well, that didn’t turn out so hot, did it?

My mini-rant for the day…

Earworm: “Blue Monk” performed by Thelonious Monk from the album The Essential Thelonious Monk

January 17, 2006

Today’s peeve…

Posted in Mac at 6:49 pm by a11en

after installing the osX version of Thunderbird 1.5, I can now no longer use the “Get Mail” button, or get mail every x minutes. Wonderful wonderful. So I have to manually check my mail now. This is insane. Why in the world would the release not improve the beta distribution? I tried to deprecate to the beta release, but something has corrupted I fear… as the beta version is now doing it as well…

Wonderful wonderful. Just what I need today…

Fixed!- turns out the .msf files in the profile must have gotten corrupted somehow, so I removed them, and restarted thunderbird- all fixed. 🙂 Me = happy.

Some improvements Apple could make…

Posted in Mac at 3:55 am by a11en

1) Preview app shouldn’t zoom in so large that a single word fits on a 1000×960 screen. At least let us turn this off.

2) You should be able to use the down arrow to retreive previously spotlighted items. Why is there now cache for recent spotlight searches?

3) Calendar widget should be able to show ical events, todos, etc. for the day which is selected. The number on the calendar widget shouldn’t be a quarter of your screen size… at least let us chose the size displayed.

And anyone who hasn’t installed Quicksilver should definitely go do so. It’s an amazing tool which has almost done away with the finder for me for most simple tasks.


Posted in Lifehacks at 2:19 am by a11en

could possibly be a solution to procrastination. I am the world’s worst procrastinator. It’s a horrible thing, unfortunately, and affects everyone and my work. So, it’ll be something that I try to change most likely for a long long time. I just discovered this approach, which mimicks my father’s suggestions regarding work. 🙂 Here it is:

S- Select 1 Task
T- Time Yourself
I- Ignore Everything Else!
N- No Breaks!
G- Give Yourself A Reward

So, here goes the first attempt to implement this… 20 minutes, on the X-ray results- double-peak gaussian curve fitting hopefully will follow shortly…

[BTW, kudos goes to 43Folder’s Forum and Matt’s Idea Blog for this one…]

January 13, 2006

Personal security can be improved…

Posted in Encryption, Mac at 7:04 pm by a11en

but no one seems to be asking for the items which can help with this from the companies they deal with on a regular basis. A prime example of this is the banking system. We live in an age where computing power for every day tasks so exceeds the requirements that processor time is spent now on transparencies and pretty buttons instead of the specific daily tasks required by the masses. This is a good thing. However, it apparently doesn’t translate into the real world. We are still using credit cards without any type of digitial signature and rarely even a physical signature needed. This essentially means that if someone snags your credit-card you might as well start praying to the gods of plastic that they can stop your account in time before the number makes its way across the country or globe for various cell-phone and computer purchases [items of high resale value].

In this day, with our technological advancement, should we really accept this? Back in the day when I watched “Beyond 2000” on the Discovery Channel, I remember seeing a show where a guy was fishing and making a banking purchase using a public-key system. This was around the time public key encryption was discussed in the public [my memory ain’t so hot these days, so pleas forgive mistakes here]… in anycase, it essentially suggested that key encryption could prove very useful to banking systems for confirming ownership/identity. I completely agree with this sentiment.

A simplified example of how this system would work is as follows: (i) purchaser owns a special credit card which includes a touch key pad similar to those old slim calculator business cards (new systems are even slimmer, or possibly used via external keyboard systems) (ii) purchaser calls up some company or is there in person, and requests a purchase (iii) seller gives purchaser a number which purchaser keys into his card (iv) purchaser keys in his personal passphrase (to unlock the private key inside his card), and card gives back a number which purchaser reads off to the seller (v) seller confirms identity of purchaser and purchase is authorized.

The beauty of the above, is that each purchase can only be made when authorized by the owner of the card by unlocking and signing/encrypting the purchase via the number given by the seller. It’s a single-use key which allows the purchase to be made. Even if someone is listening to the whole thing, they can’t determine the purchaser’s key and therefore cannot run amuck with purchaser’s identity for his own devices.

A system like this could seriously hinder the rampant identity theft [of which I’ve been a victim in the past].

Now a few extra points: some will say biometrics will solve this issue. Unfortunately, a good portion of the biometrics are actually hackable (look up laserprinting and thumbprints). I may agree here if you use iris scans which check for pulsing of blood in the eye and iris movement. Each of these systems is, however, only as good as it’s weakest link. If there is a portion of the system in the clear, or editable, it’s quite possible we could “loose” our identity of the data is lost or tampered with. So, no matter what level of security, the system should not be fully trusted. On another front- why in the world would companies keep tapes of various customer information completely in the free and clear? Most frustrating: a recent bank lost a tape of customer information in transit. A huge security leak. Will these people be safe or have their identity trampled through the mud? Some of this problem comes from the way credit reporting companies work. Don’t kid yourself, you still can’t change all the data. I was unable to correct flags on my credit account which were made by the ID thieves in attemps to purhcase various items on credit, as both the credit reporting company and the company who made the requests for credit information claimed they didn’t know how to remove said items. Great! So, my credit still is not completely fixed due to no one willing to admit they have a flaw in the system that should be fixed. Now, these companies are doing their best, I guess, but shouldn’t it be a law that we should have complete and open access to our own information at any point in time for observation and correction as needed? They instead require you to purchase this ability from their companies, except for a single once a year ability to check this information. With the ID theives storing information for 6 months and re-attempting use of said information, this yearly check up would seem quite naive and not sufficient for keeping information correct.

And finally, a problem no one talks about: the use of Social Security Numbers as identification. This should be fineable on a federal level. It is not an identity, and is clearly not secure. I had a second name on my SSN record, whether it was due to transposition or due to maliciousness, I have no idea, but the use of this number should be stopped. Just because someone tells you a number over the phone (that’s relatively easy to find out) does not mean said person is who he says he is. For every time this number is requested, a similar public key encryption routine as discussed above can be used to positively identify the owner in a secure manner. In fact, even without releasing the identity of the user. An amazing thing, public key encryption is. Why it isn’t pervasive in our current society is beyond me.

Some useful/helpful links: [Public Key Encryption via Wikipedia], [Frank Abagnale’s Website], [Bruce Schneier’s Website],[2], [GPG], [PGP]

in regards to allowing comments- we’ll see how it works. 😉 If the spammers come, comments will be removed.

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