Last night I went to a lecture series hosted by the Janelia Farm Research Campus of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The talk, on the evolution of human color vision, was terrific—and I was given the opportunity to take a tour of their lab facilities.
(Click the image above for a small gallery of additional pictures).
Continue reading Janelia Farm →
I have a thermal imaging camera made by FLIR Systems. These cameras are really interesting devices; they pick up long-wavelength infrared radiation (wavelengths of 8-12μm, versus 380-750nm for visible light). We’ve all seen objects heated until they’re hot enough to glow visibly, but it takes a lot less heat to glow in the infrared spectrum!
Why, you might ask, do I have a thermal camera? Because. That’s why. Actually, there is a reason.
Continue reading Adventures with Infrared →
If you’re not a pretty serious gadgeteer, this post isn’t for you. Nothing to see here; move along…
The intersection of hardware and software has always been an interesting place, even more so when security engineering is involved.
I recently bought a Rigol DS1074Z oscilloscope. It’s a neat gadget and I’m really pleased with it.
Continue reading Bad Crypto and a Good Oscilloscope →
So I’m waiting for a package to be delivered via FedEx SmartPost. SmartPost is designed to reduce costs associated with the “last mile” of delivery. Stuff travels via FedEx to the local post office, then the U.S. Postal Service handles the actual delivery.
My experience with SmartPost service has been terrible, but this was bad even by dealing-with-the-post-office standards.
Continue reading Do You Know Someone Named “Old Lady?” →
I spent a fair bit of time today chasing down a disturbing problem.
One of my clients reported they were seeing terrible performance on a cloud-hosted application despite having a speedy Internet connection.
A bit of investigation revealed this to be true.
Continue reading So Where Do You Think the Demand Comes From? →
I just got an email from Kickstarter, the popular crowdfunding platform. They were writing to let their users know that they’ve joined the ranks of the companies who’ve suffered a data compromise.
I hope that they’re well-treated by their users during this crisis, because they’re doing a really good job.
Continue reading Doing It Right When Security Fails →
I’ve run this website since 1996. I haven’t updated it frequently, in part because it’s never been really easy to do so. A few minutes ago, I noticed that the last major update to the landing page was made in 2002, over a decade ago.
So I’m going to attempt to promote the tools I’d used for a few blog postings (the last of which was, embarrassingly, in 2008) to be the primary content management mechanism for the website. I’m hopeful this will be an easy process—because technology upgrades are never more complicated than expected, right?
I’ve long been a user of the Asterisk open-source telephony software, using it as the core of my home and office telephone systems.
Recently I’ve been experimenting with the Raspberry Pi single-board computer. This is a device that has a half-gigabyte of RAM, an ARM-based processor, USB, and Ethernet. It uses a common SD card for its disk and costs $35.
Continue reading Portable PBX →
It’s possible to construct a wheel out of bricks by using little wooden wedges in between the bricks to make the whole production sort of vaguely round. But no sane engineer would be proud to have designed such a thing.
That’s what I think of every time when I look at the landscape of security “solutions” for credit card payments.
Continue reading Bricks and Wedges →
I’ve had a couple of opportunities this week to reflect on the reliability of complex systems. None of these thoughts are especially profound, but they’re nonetheless interesting.
Earlier in the week, a line of powerful thunderstorms rolled through the DC area. At one point, over 25% of the region was without power. Most of the outages were brief, though there are a few places that are still awaiting power restoration two days later.
Continue reading Weak Links →