Thursday 26 March 2009

Unisex connector

As well as being a software engineer I am a keen (strictly amateur) sound engineer for my church. We use XLR cables for a lot of stuff, microphones, amps, keyboards. I occasionally can't find quite the cable I'm looking for, would this solve some of my problems? I think it might.
Of course the real question is how much it costs - there is no point shelling out twice as much money as for a 'normal' XLR connector (you might as well buy two normal cables). We do use Neutrik connectors on most of our cables and any connectors that get broken get replaced with Neutrik ones.
Neutrik also make Speakon connectors which I have used once or twice. Speakon are used for Loudspeakers, these seem like the best product around for this purpose. I would happily replace all our speaker connectors with Speakon - especially if anyone from Neutrik is reading this I could do with 6 off 4-pole chassis connectors and 6 off 4-pole cable connectors (that would be grand) or some of the unisex XLR ones to try?
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Thursday 19 March 2009

How secure is secure?

Picture by: Ian Britton - - Computer Keyboard
Two separate research teams, from the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne and security consultancy Inverse Path have been studying the electromagentic emmisions of keyboards. Every time a computer keyboard is tapped, it produces a small radiative emmision. It turns out that this keystroke radiation is actually pretty easy to capture and decode -- if you're a computer hacker-type, that is.
The idea of someone sniffing out keystrokes with a wireless antenna may seem ripped from the pages of a spy thriller, but criminals have already used sneaky techniques such as wireless video cameras placed near automated teller machines and Wi-Fi sniffers to steal credit-card numbers and passwords.
The Ecole Polytechnique team did its work using an oscilloscope and an inexpensive wireless antenna. The team was able to pick up keystrokes from virtually any keyboard. With the keyboard's cabling and nearby power wires acting as antennas for these electromagnetic signals, the researchers were able to read keystrokes with 95 percent accuracy over a distance of up to 20 meters (22 yards), in ideal conditions.

If pulling keystrokes out of thin air isn't bad enough, another team has found a way to get the same kind of information out of a power socket. Using similar techniques, Inverse Path researchers Andrea Barisani and Daniele Bianco say they get accurate results, picking out keyboard signals from keyboard ground cables.
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Friday 13 March 2009

>Click breaks the law

A report due to be broadcast on the BBC News channel will demonstrate journalists breaking the law.

The BBC News programme Click, which is "The BBC's Flagship technology programme" really should know better. In order to expose the risk of cyber crime, Click managed to acquire its own low-value botnet after visiting chatrooms on the internet.

Click claim that "If this exercise had been done with criminal intent it would be breaking the law."

However this is not just misleading it is wrong.The computer miuse act section 1, clearly states it is an offence of
Unauthorised access to computer material
(1) A person is guilty of an offence if—
(a) he causes a computer to perform any function with intent to secure access to any program or data held in any computer;
(b) the access he intends to secure is unauthorised; and
(c) he knows at the time when he causes the computer to perform the function that that is the case.

  • They accessed programs running on the computers - they must have been to create or use the Botnet
  • The access was unauthorised
  • They knew it

That by the definition of the Computer misuse act is an offence regardless of intent. It take a lot to make me cross. This has made me cross. Very cross.Link
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Wednesday 4 March 2009

Even Fairer Trade

According to the guardian website, "Britain's most popular chocolate bar, Dairy Milk, is to become Fairtrade certified in Britain and Ireland in a move that will double the amount of cocoa bought from smallholders in the developing world under the sustainable farming scheme.
The decision - the highlight of Fairtrade Fortnight - will transform Fairtrade chocolate from a niche preference to a mainstream ethical benchmark, bearing the sustainability kitemark on 15% of chocolate sold in Britain. Cadbury's chief executive, Todd Stitzer, said he plans to convert the group's other chocolate brands to Fairtrade "as soon as we can do it". Dairy Milk is the first mainstream chocolate bar to be sold with a commitment to pay cocoa suppliers the "Fairtrade premium" of $150 (£105) a tonne above market prices. When the bars go on sale this summer the value of Fairtrade chocolate sales in Britain will leap from £45m to £225m. Cadbury's pledge to buy 10,000 tonnes of cocoa under Fairtrade terms will triple certified sales from Ghana."Link
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Tuesday 3 March 2009

Sculpting Nature

I saw Alastair Heseltine’s art at Treehugger which is one of this sites I have in my RSS reader.
Alastair is a Canadian sculptor plying his craft in the Pacific North West. He designs and photographs cool stuff relating to the environment. According to his website, Heseltine’s imagery is “guided by the inherent nature of material and by construction systems evolved through mindful observation and play.” He also draws “from the full spectrum of routines and activities that support my practice: Design, craft production, farming and rural life.”

He describes himself as working with mixed media relating to the environment and being inspired by the inherent nature of material and by construction systems evolved through mindful observation and play.

Ain't that the most visually descriptive wood pile you've ever seen? Take a peek (below) at more examples of his natural art. Link
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