the whole world burns


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Glorious esolang where programs can be written as power-ballads, e.g.:

A poetic number literal begins with a variable name, followed by the keyword is, or the aliases was or were. As long as the next symbol is not a reserved keyword, the rest of the line is treated as a decimal number in which the values of consecutive digits are given by the lengths of the subsequent barewords, up until the end of the line. To allow the digit zero, and to compensate for a lack of suitably rock'n'roll 1- and 2-letter words, word lengths are parsed modulo 10. A period (.) character denotes a decimal place. Other than the first period, any non-alphabetical characters are ignored.

  • Tommy was a lovestruck ladykiller initialises Tommy with the value 100

Facebook's autocorrection of password typos


Apparently old news but new to me. Facebook employs a brilliant method to improve password usability:

My understanding for Facebook is that if you fail to log in, they make 3 extra automated attempts:

  • Swap capitalization on first character
  • Swap capitalization on whole input (e.g. caps lock left on)
  • remove last character of password. (e.g. If you hit \ when trying to press enter)

So your password is still stored securely as a salted hash, they just automatically attempt 3 extremely similar passwords if your initial attempt didn't work.

Genius. See also pASSWORD tYPOS and How to Correct Them Securely, with numbers on types of error and security impact of accepting them.

Bedford and the Normalization of Deviance

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Fascinating article about a Gulfstream crash and the succession of seemingly unbelievable pilot errors preceding it. But these errors make sense in a culture where failing to follow correct procedures has been normalized:

Social normalization of deviance means that people within the organization become so much accustomed to a deviant behavior that they don’t consider it as deviant, despite the fact that they far exceed their own rules for the elementary safety. People grow more accustomed to the deviant behavior the more it occurs. To people outside of the organization, the activities seem deviant; however, people within the organization do not recognize the deviance because it is seen as a normal occurrence. In hindsight, people within the organization realize that their seemingly normal behavior was deviant.


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Like typosquatting, but caused by bit-flipping. Interesting!

History of the Movie Trailer

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Fascinating overview of the history of the movie trailer, e.g. the uniform style of older trailers was because they were generally prepared by the monopoly National Screen Service.

Untrusted - a user JavaScript adventure game


Cute RPG where limited parts of the level code itself can be overwritten to solve puzzles (e.g., in one level, changing the behaviour of a door such that opening it does not remove the key from the player's inventory).

Worm: A Serial


Unreasonably compelling page-turner about a young supervillain. Probably my favourite portrayal of capes since Watchmen and the first book in a long time that has made me hungry for more -- and that's after reading all 1.75 million words in about three days.

alert(1) to win - JavaScript injection game

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Fun game of practical XSS. Some amazing tricks there and I am confident I have left some of these holes open in the past.

Xerox scanners randomly alter numbers in scanned documents


Incorrect application of JBIG2 compression (which builds a dictionary of image "patches" such that similar areas can be compressed into a reference to a single patch) apparently leads this Xerox scanner to silently mangle documents -- the patch size is such that it confuses 6, 8, and perhaps other glyphs.

Unsplash - copyright-free photos for your website


Free (do whatever you want) hi-resolution photos for your website. 10 new photos every 10 days.

Ultimate Tic-Tac-Toe

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Essentially: a normal Tic-Tac-Toe grid, where each space holds a separate game of Tic-Tac-Toe. Win three of the inner games in a row to win the outer game. The trick to it is that you have to play on the inner-game indicated by the opponent's move (i.e., I go in the middle, your next move is on the centre board).

Michael Pollan's Favourite Food Rules

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Pithy food advice. My favourite, that I have now been quoting for years: "If you are not hungry enough to eat an apple then you are not hungry."

One Book, Many Readings


Discussion, analysis and visualizations of Choose Your Own Adventure books.

Milton Glaser - Ten Things I Have Learned [PDF]


On avoiding toxic people:

Perls proposed that in all relationships people could be either toxic or nourishing towards one another. It is not necessarily true that the same person will be toxic or nourishing in every relationship, but the combination of any two people in a relationship produces toxic or nourishing consequences. And the important thing that I can tell you is that there is a test to determine whether someone is toxic or nourishing in your relationship with them. Here is the test: You have spent some time with this person, either you have a drink or go for dinner or you go to a ball game. It doesn’t matter very much but at the end of that time you observe whether you are more energized or less energized. Whether you are tired or whether you are exhilarated. If you are more tired then you have been poisoned. If you have more energy you have been nourished.

Stargate Studios Virtual Backlot Reel


Fascinating to see the use of greenscreens even for commonplace scenes. The Ugly Betty example is amazing: easier/cheaper to film street and add an actor to it later than actually film them on location! Also interesting that the 2012 reel has fewer screens. Background replacement must be getting easier.

Space Oddity in space


The David Bowie song, covered by Commander Chris Hadfield aboard the International Space Station. I'm pretty jaded this days but this is one of the most wonderful things I have ever seen.

If Your Childhood Board Games Were German


Place of Candy

Sweet, smooth and tempting... are all of the attributes you must try not to think about when you are tasked with running a productive and profitable candy factory.

Femtitvå - "So here's ten games I made."


Ten games to play with traditional cards, inspired by modern games such as Ticket to Ride and 7 Wonders.

Small things, links and miscellany, sparkling with light. Sam's tumblelog.


July (1)


May (1)


January (1)


April (2) July (1)


March (3) June (10) August (1) October (1) December (1)


April (1) June (1) October (2)


February (1) May (2) August (4) September (2)


January (5) February (15) March (2) April (1) May (2) June (2) September (3) October (2) December (3)


January (7) February (3) March (7) April (4) May (15) June (11) July (3) August (5) September (1) October (9) November (10)


January (11) February (8) March (7) April (12) May (6) June (8) July (7) August (8) September (2) October (11) November (3) December (2)


January (20) February (35) March (15) April (21) May (41) June (40) July (32) August (25) September (16) October (15) November (12) December (10)


January (17) February (12) March (9) April (12) May (15) June (12) July (18) August (24) September (29) October (20) November (24) December (24)


January (29) February (25) March (43) April (55) May (28) June (28) July (38) August (28) September (16) October (17) November (17) December (16)


July (3) August (10) September (2) November (11) December (9)