Science Addiction

A dormant blog by Devanshu Mehta

Month: June, 2005

Firefox Support

Let me give you a lesson in the small part you can play in fighting the battles you believe need to be fought. I am a member of a website called “GoZing Surveys”:http://www.gozingsurveys.com which pays petty cash to participate in surveys. Yes, I know some people may find this intrusive but I like having enough free money for an ice cream in exchange for telling people whether I prefer Johnson & Johnson Q-tips to store brand. Read the rest of this entry »

The Commandments of the EE

This just came up in my fortune on my Mac:

The Commandments of the EE:

(5) Take care that thou useth the proper method when thou takest the measures of high-voltage circuits too, that thou dost not incinerate both thee and thy test meter, for verily, though thou has no company property number and can be easily surveyed, the test meter has one and, as a consequence, bringeth much woe unto a purchasing agent.
(6) Take care that thou tamperest not with interlocks and safety devices, for this incurreth the wrath of the chief electrician and bring the fury of the engineers on his head.
(7) Work thou not on energized equipment for if thou doest so, thy friends will surely be buying beers for thy widow and consoling her in certain ways not generally acceptable to thee.
(8) Verily, verily I say unto thee, never service equipment alone, for electrical cooking is a slow process and thou might sizzle in thy own fat upon a hot circuit for hours on end before thy maker sees fit to end thy misery and drag thee into his fold.

To Break Copy Protection, Ask Politely.

A few days ago, I had written about “a flawed copy protection scheme”:http://www.scienceaddiction.com/2005/06/09/copy-protected-cds/ on the new “Dave Matthews Band CD”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B00082ZSP2/galaxyfaraway/ which, if you have autorun enabled, installs itself on your computer and prevents copying. Key phrase is if you have autorun enabled. Also, it works fine on a “Mac”:http://www.scienceaddiction.com/categories/computers/apple/ – so maybe that’s the computer you should use :). I know I do.

Well, there’s an update to that story; apparently with a new technology (believe-it-or-not, it’s called First4Internet!), you can’t transfer the songs on to an iPod either UNLESS “you email Sony BMG and complain”:http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=581&e=3&u=/nm/20050616/tc_nm/media_music_cd_dc in which case you will get a nice email explaining how to circumvent the copy protection. Great- flawed technology for an unnecessary purpose built by people who tell you how to break it if asked politely.

Oooh MD5

“C-net’s News.com”:http://news.com.com/Microsoft+meets+the+hackers/2009-1002_3-5747813.html?tag=nefd.lede has an article about how “Microsoft”:http://www.microsoft.com apparently had a conference where they invited ‘hackers’ to help them discover security flaws. My first and humongous beef with the article is the usage of the term ‘hacker’; but that’s a whole ‘nother issue for a whole other day. Read the rest of this entry »

Fedora Core 4

I recently installed “Fedora Core 3″:http://fedora.redhat.com on my home PC to replace my old “Red Hat 9″:http://www.redhat.com and was over all impressed with the installation experience. The machine has been running well since, though I haven’t been doing anything extraordinary with it. I wanted to get “Debian”:http://www.debian.org but couldn’t spare the time for a proper custom installation.

All the time I was preparing to install, I knew FC4 was coming out soon- but I stuck with FC3 just because I knew I would never get around to it if I waited. And then I would have been stuck with RH9 still. And then where would I be. So with much fuss and ado “Fedora Core 4″:http://fedora.redhat.com has been released today to the general public; it’s a really good “Linux”:http://www.kernel.org distribution- especially for those who aren’t familiar with Linux (general public), or don’t have time to mess with bits in a more traditional distro (that would be me). I will soon write a full length article regarding my decision to use Fedora at home (pros, cons, other alternatives). Also, if and when I get around to it- my experiences with upgrading to FC4

P.S. “Here’s an easy way”:http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/YumUpgradeFaq to upgrade from FC* to FC4 using Yum.

A Story of Hope, Liberty, Equality and the Pursuit of Google

A few weeks ago “Wordlog.com”:http://www.wordlog.com put out a “request to all it’s readers”:http://wordlog.com/archives/2005/05/19/help-needed-with-google/ soliciting help to get listed on Google. This is a legitimate, popular and very useful (bloggers: it’s a must-bookmark) site for “WordPress”:http://www.wordpress.org users and it was a shame that it hadn’t been indexed by “Google”:http://www.google.com in it’s 1+ year of existence. “This web site”:http://scienceaddiction.com” has been up less than a week and it already has been indexed; “albeit erroneously”:http://www.google.com/search?q=scienceaddiction.com&hl=en. Now after weeks of suggestions, following through on superstitions and some fan action (including a message from yours truly to google about the travesty) “wordlog.com”:http://www.wordlog.com is finally “listed in google”:http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&safe=off&q=site:wordlog.com a total of 300 times “thanks to a well put together letter by wordlog’s Carthik Sharma”:http://wordlog.com/archives/2005/06/12/now-in-google/. He wrote a letter to Google and it paid off! “Some of the suggestions”:http://wordlog.com/archives/2005/05/19/help-needed-with-google/ he got are ludicrous but others are actually useful for people looking to get listed in Google. In my experience, the best way (unless you are as unlucky as wordlog) is to get linked from multiple reputable locations.

Top Five Science Books for Noobs

While I may be biased to certain sciences and am no longer unfamiliar with the sciences I love, I still do pick up the all-encompassing science books for ‘the rest of us’- i.e. people who do not have Ph.D.s in the subject of the book. I do plan on getting a Ph.D. in something sooner or later- unfortunately I will not have the time or the inclination to get one in all the subjects I love. Read the rest of this entry »

Star Wars from a Fresh Perspective

By way of “GalaxyFarAway.com”:http://www.galaxyfaraway.com/gfa we have a story from “the desk of Ghent”:http://blogs.starwars.com/ghent where the blogger’s 7-year old son has some fresh perspective on the original Star Wars trilogy having watched the prequels first! The “story”:http://blogs.starwars.com/ghent/15 has a lot of interesting observations that definitely didn’t cross anyone’s mind in ’77 least of all mine because I was -2.

Copy-Protected CDs

The new Dave Matthews CD, Stand Up (which I, admittedly, will buy at some point) apparently has some new fangled copy protection in place to prevent kiddies from making MP3s off them. According to the FAQ on SunnCom’s (the company responsible for this technology) web site:

…similar to other software and games, usage of the CD on your computer does require your acceptance of the end user license agreement and installation of specific software contained on the CD. It also requires your computer to be appropriately configured. Please review the Systems Requirements documented on the package of the CD you are trying to play.

The key quote on this page is that you cannot (so they say) copy it on to an iPod because “Apple’s proprietary technology doesn’t support secure music formats”. However, they fail the 12-year-old-boy test as described in this Playlist article. From the article:

It’s a fact. Boys are their most wily just before the onset of puberty. They’ve got all their faculties, have no notion of property rights, and—unlike males from 13-‘til-death—are not governed by their hormones. There’s nothing a 12 year old boy likes better than taking apart that which adults have deemed impenetrable. I’m well into post-puberty—and therefore confused much of the time—and all it took was me trying the disc on a different computer platform to crack this scheme. Imagine what could happen in the hands of little Scooter down the block.

The solution is to use a Mac. The CDs work fine on Macs, can be ripped in iTunes and copied to the iPod. Or just buy the songs from iTunes and do what you want with them.

Apple & Intel

MacWorld has a great rundown of all the facts (and some speculation) from yesterday’s announcement from the WWDC that Apple is leaving the PowerPC architecture for Intel by next year. A few things I gathered from Steve Jobs’ keynote:

  • Intel Macs will appear in early 2006.
  • They demonstrated how Mathematica was ported to the new platform within 2 hours with 20 lines of code changed. The complexity of the change will depend on how much the code depends on the architecture.
  • People from Adobe, Microsoft and the CEO of Intel assured the audience that the move will be smooth.
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