Superfluous Matter
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Well, I may have lost my uptime, but it was worth it. My new hardware appears to be working great in both Linux and Windows, although I haven't burnt a DVD yet. I am currently posting this via my WIRELESS network connection in Linux, and while I do so I am burning some random crap to a CD-RW on the DVD burner. I am quite pleased. Especially cool is how quiet the DVD burner is. I can't hear it at all.

In case you are wondering, the wireless card is the D-Link DWL-G520 (rev A2). Note the revision number, only certain revisions (like A1 and A2) work in Linux. You can find out the revision number by looking at the serial number of the card on the outside of the box it comes in. My burner is the NEC ND-2500A, which is supposed to only be available in the UK and a few other non-North American countries, but Canada Computers has them and they are supposed to be quite good.

My weekend was also cool, I actually went to Toronto to buy the stuff on Friday, and then took a Greyhound back to London that night. On Saturday I did a lot of relaxing, I didn't do a single productive thing. In the evening I went on an actual date with Kim (we don't get out on those much) where I even paid for stuff (with the assumed money I should be getting from income taxes, which is the same way I paid for the new hardware). We went to Jack Astor's for supper and they had a new menu which was fun. I got the Thai Chicken Coconut Curry, Yay Curry! Even if it is from Jack Astor's. Then we went to Galleria Mall downtown to see Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (represses large shudder) which Kim has been wanting to see for a while. Unfortunately we got there too early so we just wandered the mall for a while and talked and it was fun. The movie was alright (as good as it could have been at least).

Today when I got back to Waterloo I really felt like cleaning for some reason, so I did that until Matt came by and then we went with Adrienne and Andrew (new friend of Adrienne's) to the Egyption restaurant in the Plaza. It was pretty good, lots of vegetarian dishes and some good stuff for dessert. To drink I had some sweet sweet Mango juice that was really really really good. When we left they had a case just lying by the entrance and I really wanted to ask them how much they'd let me buy it for.

Then we went back to my house for usual Simpsons and stuff and I installed the hardware (and it works, the burning just finished), and now I think it is time for bed.

Oooooh, classes are almost done too, always fun to have changes. Except that exams are yucky.

Oh, one other thing that I forgot. I got a 12 month lease for a townhouse in the Fall with Jen, Kelly and Ryan. It is really close to the University and should be an alright place to live for the year. I'm just glad I don't really have to think about stupid housing stuff anymore.

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No time to update now, must install new hardware! Yay, DVD burner and wireless PCI card! But it makes me sad because I will wreck my uptime (now at 39 days). Oh well, here it is (along with my bandwidth for the month):

Uptime combined with bandwidth, yay new records.
Uptime combined with bandwidth, yay new records.
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Stuff rules. I'm not as busy anymore, for some reason all my work went and got finished and there wasn't any more work to replace it. Somebody must be slacking off somewhere.

Last weekend was cool, Kim came to Waterloo to visit and we got up early (5:55am) on Saturday morning to catch a Greyhound to Toronto to look for a house for the summer with Adrienne and Matt. We found a sweet sweet place which happens to be pretty close to work for all of us. Yay! I'm really looking forward to the "Toronto experience" and I hope my job goes well too.

Not much else fun is happening right now, um, I have to do my taxes and that is sorta exciting because I think I will get a fair chunk back and if so I'm going out to buy a wireless network card and a DVD burner for my computer. I should find out for sure next weekend.

My computer has been on without reboot for almost a month now, see:

mclausch@duffman:~$ uptime
19:37:52 up 25 days, 4:45, 2 users, load average: 0.11, 0.16, 0.15

I'm amused because this is the longest I've ever had it on without rebooting. Doesn't seem that long except that I dual boot Linux and Windows so I have to reboot whenever I need the other OS. What does this new longevity mean? That's right, I don't have any use for Windows currently. Maybe I can keep my computer on until the end of the term, that would be fun.

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It's a pickle!

A Pickle, most likely Dill
A Pickle, most likely Dill
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Matthew's number as listed below appears to be too long to display without going outside of its comment box. That is unfortunate. I've decided not to do anything about it though. Support for causing long words to break in two inside of a CSS box is being added to CSS3, which no browser currently supports. Thus I'm not going to bother putting it into my stylesheet yet. Microsoft has a CSS property that would do what I want in IE, but it is not part of the W3C standard and so I am refraining from using it. The other alternative is to actually break the number in two with a space, however that would obscure meaning and that isn't very good either. So for this month, unless you have your monitor set to a very high resolution, my website will have a horizontal scrollbar. Enjoy.

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We just recieved our last cryptography assignment for the term, and lo and behold the first question wants us to factor a 512 bit RSA modulus. This is generally considered quite hard. Fortunately for us, we were told that the two primes were consecutive (no other primes between them) and so factoring is made a bit easier. And by a bit I mean a lot. Less than a second in Maple.

So, my new favourite number is the RSA modulus we were given and which I present to you here. In case you are wondering it is 155 digits long which is equivalent to 512 bits. The number is:


And since I was successful I can also tell you that the two prime factors of this number are:


They are really close together and both really close to the square root of their product which makes them easy to find.

I think I will call the number "Matthew's number" and its factors will be known as the disciples of Matthew's number.

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I recently read two books by Cory Doctorow, both of which he freely distributes (plain text, no DRM anywhere) online, and both of which were pretty good. They are realistic Sci-Fi, by which I mean that none of the technology in the books is unbelievable. Eastern Standard Tribe is a book set in the not too distant future in a world of increased globalization and slightly increased technology. Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom is set a bit further in the future, in an almost utopian society where death and illness have been mostly conquered and the worth of a person is measured by the esteem they garner in others (its called Wuffie).

I originally read both books because the author has a non-traditional viewpoint on copyright issues, and was willing to experiment by freely releasing his novels while also selling "dead tree" versions in book stores. The experiment for him was a success; he sold thousands of copies in the real world, and his books were also able to reach many more people online than they ever would have been able to in bookstores alone. I know that I probably wouldn't have randomly bought either book from a bookstore, but I read them online and am now considering purchasing them for real.

I feel that this is the sort of model that needs to be adopted by people who produce content (literature, music, movies) in the modern world. Piracy will continue despite the best attempts of many smart people. By embracing the Internet as a distribution medium, content producers can reach a greater population (unbounded by geography, financial status or age) and as such have the potential to generate a larger customer base for their work. Sure, many people will consume their work without compensating the artist, but without the Internet, most of those people would not have consumed the work at all. And for most artists, creating the art for the delight of their fans is more important than the money. Similarly, appreciative fans will recognize the importance of compensating the artist for their work and will do so accordingly. If they don't then the artist will assume their art was not accepted and be forced to pursue other work to make ends meet. Supply and demand style.

Cory Doctorow released his book under a Creative Commons licence permitting non-commercial redistribution of his work by any party in any format so long as the original freedoms are unrestricted and he is acknowledged as the author. By not restricting himself (or his publisher - the very progressive TOR books) to be the sole distribution point for his work, he does not have to absorb all of the costs associated with the distribution. However since the licence requires his name as author be preserved, he has the potential to gain customers indirectly. Currently, most artists can not afford the costs associated with content distribution and as such attempt to sign on with the appropriate organization (book publishers, the RIAA, the MPAA). The ensuing oligopoly in each medium is unhealthy for the continued advancement of art since the organizations have the power to enforce what is popular by selectively restricting/promoting the distribution of certain works (for example - why was Britney Spears popular? Because she got air time on the radio because the RIAA felt they could make money off of her. Not because someone felt she made good music). The Internet gives the oppourtunity for an artist to be their own distributer and promoter, and as such eliminates the need for the oligopolists. Costs can come down and art from anywhere in the world can be accessible to all. That seems like a good thing to me.

Ranting is fun, I should do it more often. Just as a counter point to everything I have said, a lot of these ideas depend on the decency of common human beings, something which can be questionable from time to time. Its kinda communist even, and everyone knows that didn't turn out.

Anyway, read Cory Doctorow's books if you like Sci-Fi (or if you don't, they're free remember, you don't have anything to lose) and if you like them, consider buying them. If you arn't interested in owning a "dead tree" edition, he also recommends buying a copy and donating it to a local library or second hand book store.

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Look, its March! I have updates in February that you might not have seen because I posted on the 29th, which is barely a day at all.

2004-02 | 2004-04