Wednesday 27 July 2011


I finally got around to watching Fringe, after a year or two of constantly meaning to. It's a macabre but fun show where you have to suspend quite a bit of disbelief - they're always reading the memories of corpses, teleporting around, and growing single cells to the size of a greyhound. Sometimes they push my limits, but I've mostly been able to enjoy it. Then I saw this.
In their Operating System (that consists entirely of fancy maps and scrolling text), they have an IP address where every octet is over 256. This was a bit of a surprise, so I went back through the scene a little more carefully to glean a few more facts about their computer.

The text might be a bit small, but his computer is s a PIV 2.8 MMX cpu running at 3.2kMHTZ with 128000 memories. There's what seems to be a typo on the next line with the 'Plug and PLay' bios, and the rest is a nice mixing-pot of acronyms that occasionally make sense. 

Here's more of the same address type: all IP addresses, but nearly all of the numbers involved are way too big. This time they've thrown in a few token two-digit numbers, but they're clearly not using IPv4 as we know it.

It's hard to read, but that top window is full of extra IP adresses... this time consisting of 5 pairs of numbers. They've added a whole new octet but limited themselves to numbers below a hundred, which doesn't give them much more IP space to work with. The only reasonable option I can think of is that these guys are working with base 10 computers and I've uncovered a major plot point later intended for later.

It's reminds me of a cargo cult. Whoever did this knows what a computer should look like, they vaguely remember the boot screen and they liked that map in Goldeneye. It's so close at the casual glance, but wrong in every single detail. Mindbogglingly, they had to use a computer to create all of this. At some point in the process, people who know what an IP address is must have been involved. They stood by and watched somebody fake a a whole boot sequence for no good reason.

If you want to see the whole scene, you can find it here.

On the plus side, they have a rather nice Hard Drive sound effect.

Gmail forwarding security reminders

Since Gmail was first released in 2004, it's led the field in webmail security. They were the first big player to pioneer systems like two-factor authentication and geographic checking, and they've still got a few nice settings that nobody else has implemented yet - like demanding immediate verification if user activity seems suspicious rather than notifying you after the event.

But with everything else, they've always had a bit of a hole in their account security: Forwarding. Hidden away in the gmail options is a setting that will silently forward a copy of all your received email to an email address. It's incredibly useful (I've been using it since 2005), but it's a setting few people pay attention to. All an attacker would need is two minutes of access to your account - say when you wandered off to get a cup of coffee or answer the phone - and they'd have access to all your incoming emails for the indefinite future.

As of today, google seems to have addressed the issue: If you have with forwarding enabled, when you sign in there's a notification bar at the top of the screen letting you know just what those settings are and asking you to double check that they're correct. It's a fairly understated but you also can't dismiss it manually.

If you click on 'why is this notice here?' you get an explanation:
You’re seeing a notice to help you confirm that the forwarding setting that’s active on your account is accurate. If your account has this feature enabled, you should see this notice ... For about a week, this notice will appear for a few minutes each time you sign in to your account. Displaying the notification in this way helps ensure that you have a chance to see the notice, rather than someone who might try to gain unauthorized access to your account and use this setting improperly.

It's a great start, hopefully after the initial week is up it'll turn into one of their occasional reminders rather than being scrapped completely.

Wednesday 6 July 2011

CD shelving

Got a pile of old CD racks lying around taking up room? Need some quickly configurable shelving space for small items? Finally, we have a solution!

CD Rack
Some old crystal CD cases.

Place CD cases in CD rack at intervals. put things on them.

Finished Product:

It's surprisingly nice having shelving you can completely reconfigure in a couple of seconds. I'm guessing it'd work really well with one of those 100+ cd units - you know the ones.