gmail-hack-day-2

Modifying the NIST Password Entropy Algorithm

Experience teaches us that many users, left to choose their own passwords, will choose passwords that are easily guessed and even fairly short dictionaries of a few thousand commonly chosen passwords, when they are compared to actual user chosen passwords, succeed in “cracking” a large share of those passwords.

Make it up as we go?

Given the lack of any definitive standard when it comes to measuring a password’s strength, we as developers must simply play the hand we’ve been dealt. This typically means assigning a numeric value to represent its strength. This can be done by a variety of methods, but most common (and generally most accurate) is by calculating password entropy.

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Hercules wrestling with Death for the body of Alcestis - Lord Frederick Leighton

Coming to grips with my own mortality

SPOILER ALERT: Everyone dies in the end.

Even you, the unsuspecting reader of this article, will one day cease to exist. Your body will decay, and your elementary particles will be returned to the ecological system of which you were a part. Then, after some indeterminate length of time, your name will fade into antiquity. As time progresses, your memory will be retained by fewer and fewer people; until some day, it will be forgotten completely. This brevity, this impermanence is the only true absolute of life.

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Fat Cupid

February: The month of April

To the uninitiated, the title of this post may seem misleading or downright erroneous. While it does contain a fair amount of ambiguity, it is neither erroneous nor misleading if you understand the context. Everyone knows that February is the month of love and matters of the heart, yes? What some of you may not know, however, is that just 2 short days after Valentine’s Day is my wife’s birthday; my wife’s name is April. Ergo, February is the month of April.

I wanted to do something special for April this year, as I know I don’t tell her often enough how much she means to me. So, rather than writing a lengthy and intimate love note and slipping it into her purse (which was my first idea, actually), I’ve decided to take a more public approach. I guess you could equate this with shouting it from the rooftops, as it were.

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Goofy and the gang

The end of an era

Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.

Last night I quit my job.

Well, technically I put in notice a while ago, but last night was my last night on the job. Without going into specifics as to the original reasons behind the transition, I’d like to make an important point: I was angry… Angry at my employer. This is important because regardless of my disdain for my boss, I still felt an incredible sense of loss and longing the moment I stepped out the door for the last time.

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starwarsrocks_1280x800

The Evolution of my Musical Preference

Most people can attest to the fact that the music you hear during adolescence inevitably shapes your musical preferences as an adult. However, it’s not always a cut-and-dry case of “my parents listened to genre X, and now I do too”.

The early years…

My entire childhood was spent listening to Garth Brooks, Travis Tritt, Brooks & Dunn, Dwight Yoakam, and the like. Yep, you read that correctly… I was raised on country music. When I was younger, I didn’t really have any sort of negative opinion of country music. In fact, there was a time when I would actually sing along with some country songs! What I couldn’t have known then was that this stage in my life was shaping my musical preference into what it is now, just not quite in the way one might expect.

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Leetspeak, Acronyms, & Internet Vernacular

Even those of you who consider yourselves to be somewhat computer-illiterate are most likely familiar with many of the popular slang terms created for or derived from the internet. Many of these terms have now become part of our everyday lives in the physical world instead of being constrained to only digital mediums. Terms such as LOL, OMG, and n00b have now invaded our spoken vocabulary. And from the looks of it, (for better or worse) they’re here to stay. So let’s take a look at where and/or how these terms originated.

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To grow a beard (pt. 1)

A beard is a lighthouse to lost, beardless souls, seeking true manhood.

I’m doing this, dammit!

After first getting clearance from my wife, I’ve made the decision to grow a beard—a REAL beard! I’ve kept a well-trimmed goatee for… hmm… Well, ever since I got out of the Army, over 11 years ago… Although I did “attempt” to grow a beard once before, I only made it a month or so before the itching became so unbearable that I shaved that shit off! However, this time I’m taking it seriously. No half-hearted efforts here; No, sir! I will grow a beard, or I will be the only person in history who doesn’t shave for a year and remains clean-shaven.

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Alone in the Night

It is sometimes said that scientists are unromantic, that their passion to understand the world robs it of its beauty and mystery. But is it not stirring to understand how the world actually works—that white light is made of colors, that color is the way we perceive the wavelengths of light, that transparent air reflects light, that in so doing it discriminates among the waves, and that the sky is blue for the same reason that the sunset is red?
It does no harm to the romance of a sunset to know a little about it.

To stand in awe

As an atheist living in the bible belt, I’m often asked how I can have such a bleak outlook on the afterlife—or more appropriately, the lack thereof. But I don’t see my outlook as bleak by any stretch of the imagination. As a matter of fact, I see it as quite uplifting and deeply spiritual. And while I may not believe in an afterlife in any religious sense, I absolutely believe in science and human observation, and these tell of an afterlife more poetic than any of the religious canons.

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Hello World!

Current Usage

Despite the myth that “Hello World!” is the first thing to be output by all computers, its prevalence in nearly all facets of technology is undeniable; as anyone who has used WordPress can attest. A “hello world” program is often used as a simplistic introduction to programming languages, as it’s generally quite self-explanatory, and simple enough that even those with little or no programming experience can understand its function. However, do not mistake its simplicity for a lack of utility. The program needs a functioning language compiler and run-time in order to accomplish its task. This makes it ideal for a quick and easy sanity test for new systems.

A Brief History

Early on in the history of computing, it was necessary (as it is now) to run sample programs to test the viability of newly developed systems and technologies. The key difference, however, was that in technological antiquity, the emphasis was placed on persuading a target audience that computers were the way of the future. This is evident in the first run programs used in early systems pre-1970’s. John Presper Eckert and John Mauchly first used their ENIAC for ballistics calculations, while Alan Turing used the Manchester Mark 1 to compute Mersenne primes, and John von Neumann used the EDVAC to run a custom merge-sort algorithm.

After the adoption of digital computers by the United States government and large corporations, their usefulness was self-evident. This eventually led to first-run programs being less about enticing adoption, and more about quick and easy testing of system architecture. The first known case of “Hello World” being used to serve this purpose was in Brian Kernighan’s A Tutorial Introduction to the Language B, in which it’s found as an example of using external variables.

Kernighan later (1974) wrote a similar function in the budding new language “C”, which he included in an internal memo at Bell Labs called Programming in C: A Tutorial. This example, however, is more widely referred to as the “first” usage of a hello world program, and used as the basis for other language variations today.

Conclusion

While it may seem almost trivial, the “Hello World!” program represents a paradigm shift in society’s day-to-day operations. We as a society have accepted our technological future, and (for better or worse) embraced it with open arms. So the next time you’re shopping for a computer, consider the lengths that people like John von Neumann would’ve gone to in 1945 to prove to you that digital computers would soon replace tabulating machines.