Posted on November 11th, 2008 No comments
Posted on October 13th, 2008 No comments
Reprinted with (explicit?) permission from xkcd:
Posted on August 30th, 2008 2 comments
My landlord recently built storage lockers in our basement, and I dug through my junk drawer to find an old combination Master Lock to secure mine. I had forgotten the combination. Not to worry, as it’s not too hard to crack one if you have about 10 minutes to try up to 100 different combinations using this technique:
- Set the dial to 0.
- Pull up and maintain pressure as if you’re trying to open the lock.
- Let up just enough pressure to let the dial turn until it stops.
- Wiggle the dial back and forth. It will have one number’s-width of play in it, and it will either move from one whole number to the next or from one number’s half-position to the next number’s half-position. For example, it will move from 3.5 to 4.5. In that case the number we want is 4. Ignore positions where it “straddles” a half number, like if it moves between 3 and 4.
- There are 5 of these numbers. Write them down. All of them except one will end with the same digit, e.g.: 2, 12, 22, 27, 32. The one that doesn’t fit this pattern, 27 in this case, is the last number in the combination.
The first 60 seconds of this video demonstrates the technique to find the numbers:
This Python script makes it pretty quick to list the 100 possible combinations once you’ve isolated the last number using the above technique:
last = int(sys.argv)
remainder = last % 4
first = [remainder]
while first[-1] < 36:
first.append(first[-1] + 4)
if remainder == 0:
second = 
elif remainder == 1:
second = 
elif remainder == 2:
second = 
elif remainder == 3:
second = 
while second[-1] < 36:
second.append(second[-1] + 4)
for f in first:
for s in second:
print f, s, last
Just pass the script the last number in the combination, and it will spit out a list of all 100 possible combinations, like so:
python masterlock.py 7
Of course, this shows that combination Master Locks are really only secure if someone can’t spend 10 minutes messing around with your padlock without getting caught. And it means that if you have ten minutes, and something to write with and on, you can open someone else’s padlock. Don’t be a jerk.
I haven’t confirmed this, but I’ve heard that Master Lock redesigned their locks within the last couple years so that this trick doesn’t work anymore. My padlock was purchased before that.
I know that my padlock really isn’t protecting my stuff very well, but considering that the storage locker “walls” are made of chicken wire, the padlock isn’t the weak part of the system. The lock’s just there as a deterrent to keep my (hopefully) honest neighbors out of my stuff.
Posted on August 20th, 2008 No comments
I was one of 29 people that lent him money, and today he repaid his loan in full. This is the first Kiva loan of mine that’s been paid back, (no defaults yet, either) and it’s cool to see the system working.
Posted on August 6th, 2008 1 comment
That’s a pangram, a sentence that uses every letter of the alphabet at least once. They should teach that instead of the “quick brown fox” one.
[printartist on Twitter]
Posted on August 1st, 2008 No comments
Robert Zubrin, an aerospace engineer, wants us to quit chasing after the much-hyped “hydrogen economy.” I can’t say that I disagree.
From his article “The Hydrogen Hoax“:
What is needed is government action to break the vertical monopoly on the automobile fuel supply currently held by the petroleum cartel. This could most efficiently be done simply by mandating that all new cars—whether of foreign or domestic manufacture—sold in the United States be “flex-fueled.” Such cars, which can run on any mixture of alcohol or gasoline, are currently being produced in the United States for little more (typically an extra $100 to $200) than the same vehicles in non-flex-fueled form. But they only command about 3 percent of the market, because there are so few high-alcohol gas pumps to serve them. Conversely, the reason why there are few high-alcohol pumps is because there are not enough flex-fuel cars on the road to warrant them. If you own a fuel station with three pumps, you are not going to waste one distributing a type of fuel that only 3 percent of cars can use.
Yet within three years of a flex-fuel mandate, there would be at least 50 million cars on the road in the United States capable of using high-alcohol fuel, and at least an equal number overseas. This would be a sufficient market to create a widespread network of high-alcohol fuel pumps. Moreover, this dramatically increased demand for alcohol fuels would greatly exceed the supply capacity of American corn-ethanol producers, which means that we could drop our current tariffs against Latin American sugar-ethanol. A similar circumstance would pertain in Europe and Japan, enabling the elimination of their protectionist measures against Third World agricultural imports. This would solve the problem of trade barriers against farm products that scuttled the recent Doha round of international trade talks, thus benefiting rich and poor nations alike.
By simply exposing the oil cartel to competition from such alternative fuel sources, we could impose a powerful constraint on its ability to run up prices. Combined with an unrelenting tariff policy favoring alcohol over imported oil, we could destroy OPEC completely, and effectively redirect over $600 billion per year that is now going to the treasury of terrorism to the global agricultural and mining sectors. Instead of sending our money to the Islamists to spread fanatical ideology, we could give our business to the world’s farmers, coal miners, and other people who actually work for a living. Instead of selling off blocks of stock in Western media companies to Saudi princes, we could be selling tractors to Honduras. Instead of funding terrorism, we could be using our energy dollars to finance world development. That’s what a serious energy policy would look like.
Posted on July 30th, 2008 3 comments
This post has been moved to the Move Aware blog.
Posted on July 7th, 2008 No comments
The FISA Amendments Act (FAA) is a bill that would radically expand the presidentâ€™s spying powers and grant immunity to the companies that colluded in his illegal program. This is a video interview with Daniel Ellsberg (The Pentagon Papers) where he explains in practical terms what this legislation would mean for our country.
Posted on July 1st, 2008 No comments
From now on, every time I pick up the phone and order delivery food, I have to go to my cookbooks or online and find a new recipe to cook myself. That should be enough motivation to wean myself from an expensive habit and do myself some good at the same time.
Posted on June 29th, 2008 No comments
It’s a couple of years old, but I finally had a chance to watch the documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car?”. Nothing about the history of the GM EV1 surprised me, including GM’s destruction of the entire EV1 fleet.
The documentary includes mention of hydrogen fuel cells, which appears to be more of a stall technique by those invested in fossil fuels than the promising innovation that it’s often portrayed to be. It’s decades away and several times more expensive than gasoline or electricity.
Consumer demand is the only force that will result in plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles being manufactured in this country, and before you can demand it, you have to know that it is possible and already exists with today’s technology.
Here’s the trailer for the documentary: