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Spam As A Source Of Entropy?

Published on Oct. 8, 2009 at midnight by XC

I really want to win the lottery. To do this, I need good random numbers. When I need those numbers, I don’t want to wait forever for something blocking to finally get them to me. I like to ‘pick’ just before buying a ticket .. just like I throw salt over my left shoulder should some spill. I can’t afford one of those fancy quantum RNGs that deliver numbers based on light noise.

Enter G-Mail, and its relentless pursuit to keep a large SPAM archive for me with easy IMAP access. Have you noticed that a large percentage of your SPAM has a time stamp in the future? I did, that makes it valuable as a source of entropy.
So now I’m working on a gizmo that fetches my SPAM, looks for candidates, gets a sum from some dates and feeds me an endless stream of unsigned, random, 32 bit integers.

No way is it cryptographically secure, after all, we all get the same SPAM. But, its good enough for my new super secret magic lotto picker
There, I finally found a use for SPAM. This is what happens when I get bored while waiting on the output of other people.

Maybe, just maybe the good folks in Nigeria really are sending me millions with no strings attached!

Category: Gizmos

Web Pages As Graphs

Published on Dec. 28, 2008 at midnight by XC

Have you ever wanted to get a great, easy to read visual of any HTML document? This is the tool for you. The applet will analyze the semantics of any HTML/XHTML document and ‘come to life’ as it represents the document’s structure as a graph. The graph starts out as a star burst and quickly settles down to something neat and useful.

A graph for this blog looks a lot like any other WordPress blog. If you have three minutes to spare, its worth checking out .. even just to play. Here’s a graph of our favorite advertising overlords, Slashdot.

It should be fun to put in the URL to your Internet Provider’s ‘start page’, blue dots indicate links that they hope you will click.

Be sure to scroll down to just below the graph, so you can see the legend that describes what all of those colors mean.

Category: Gizmos

Yahoo Boss – Good Move

Published on July 10, 2008 at midnight by XC

If you have not heard, Yahoo wants you to take full advantage of their search API without the need to give any credit. BOSS (or Build your own search service) allows developers access to the Yahoo index, use of the ranking and relevancy algorithms and more. You can use it to build anything you like, completely white labeled (Yahoo remains anonymous and behind the scenes).

This is the single biggest leap to foster innovation in the search and advertising industry, bar none. In terms of ‘cloud computing’, its your cloud, Yahoo supplies the rain and you get to label each drop as your own. You can’t (as a search giant) get any more open than that.
Want to build the next best thing in search technology? Yahoo has already done most of the work .. make your applications, make them scale, add the BOSS API and your own special sauce. You’re done.

Kudos to Yahoo, this was really needed. This move will really put Yahoo on the front lines of development, likely leaving Google and MSN in its wake.

Hurry, try it now before Carl Ichan figures out what it does and starts whining. Luckily, that should take a while.

Category: Gizmos

The Coolest Coffee Table Ever!

Published on Oct. 5, 2007 at midnight by XC

Some mad scientists have devised some really neat ways to get the most out of your coffee table. They stuffed tables full of motion sensing super bright LED panels. Not just any LED panels, these panels are ‘smart’ and create a very neat and lingering motion trail effect. Take a look for yourself, watch the video and you’ll see why I like these things.

I’m not the only one who likes them, recently a short write-up about these gizmos was featured in Popular Science. The cat in the video seems equally fascinated perched on top of a moving puddle of light. You don’t have to use the panels in your coffee table, they are sold as kits and can be put in nearly anything.
The lighting effects can be clearly seen even if the panel is in full sunlight, the LEDs themselves however aren’t so bright that they blind you.

To really capture my heart, you’d need to find some way of projecting a laser touch remote control on top of the table, so that I could tap a certain place on the table to control a TV or other things. Making the panels (and their effects) change color as a reaction to heat would also be really neat. If I set a hot cup of coffee on the table (after all, it is a coffee table) the LEDs and effects should be varying shades of red, vs a bowl of ice cream which would be blue.

Take a look, watch the video, if nothing else for the amusement value of watching a very perplexed cat.

Category: Gizmos