Hoping for a happy Winter

Yesterday after work (and a nap) I figured I’d make my bleak Blackberry a bit more merry for the season.

This is the most cheerful this phone will ever get, I fear

This is the most cheerful this phone will ever get, I fear

I still haven’t been able to get rid of Bing (which wasn’t there when I first got the phone) thanks to Verizon sneaking in crapware, but aside from that, being my primary email phone and second line, it’s doing pretty well. Battery life is still abysmal though and I’ve been told this is an existing problem in the 9930 and 9900 series. Lovely!

Meanwhile my voice phone is the Samsung Galaxy Stellar which, contrary to nay sayers is actually pretty good despite not being as powerful newer models. I got it free with my renewal plan.

And this was taken with the Blackberry’s allegedly superior 5MP camera.

And these are the same lighting conditions. Can you believe it?

And these are the same lighting conditions. Can you believe it?

Grainy and out of focus? Check.
Tweaking settings have no effect? Check.

When Blackberry builds better products and stop riding on the coattails of its past achievements, it will be a successful company once again. I won’t be holding my breath.

Reception of the Stellar is on par with the Blackberry. I even lose high-speed internet, and all the bars even, at exactly the same locations while on the train (before the tunnel’s in sight). 4G — and Blackberry’s 3G — is confined to my apartment most of the time, when I don’t need it, and only at certain spots in New York. Because Verizon lies through its teeth about the 4G coverage. I noticed this happens mainly around Crestwood, back to full strength at Tuckahoe and Broxville, down again at Fleetwood and Woodlawn, back again at Williamsbridge through Botanical Gardens, somewhat spotty at Fordham and finally down again at Tremont and Melrose.

After Harlem the train is right about to enter Grand Central underground so naturally there should be no signal. Yet somehow, I get 2-3 bars around 10 seconds after we enter the tunnel.

I guess poor people really don’t need 4G.

Edit.

Just realized, this post’s ending was anything but happy, so here’s the balcony decoration my neighbors put up. Think they went a wee bit overboard?

It's a deer!

It’s a deer!

Meanwhile in Amish country…

Hope everyone had a Merry Indoor-Pine-Tree-Wrapped-In-Paper-Mache-With-A-Star-On-Top Day! I tend to celebrate IPTWIPMWASOTs with plastic trees only because I have girly hands that are girlier than most girls’ and pine needles are absolute murder on them. I’ve had a bout with Pericarditis a few years ago and I’d much rather go through that again than have to stick my hands in a pine tree.

My mom got me a bottle of Inca Kola. BEST GIFT EVAR!

I got dragged into the shopping foray over Thanksgiving despite not feeling well (who in their right minds would turn down a free chocolate cake even with a fever?) I’m sorta glad I did, because it’s not often I really go shopping on the count of my severe allergy to commercialism and fixing-things-that-ain’t-broke. An old friend of my mom brought me along to go shopping at the Danbury Mall in Connecticut. I’ve been here before when the iPhone first came out.

The Crappening

I came across these stalls where women would apply toxic chemicals in vials of goo in an effort to look more beautiful superficially by destroying their natural beauty, because (God forbid) a presence of personality and charm haven’t been bottled yet. I’m sure Avon is working on it though.

There was an eerie silence as I waded through clothing isles punctuated by the sound of me gasping at the creepiest thing I’ve seen in a while. This is the sort of thing I’d expect to come across in a cemetery at night. I’m the kind of person that can shatter a mirror just by smiling at my own reflection and it still caught me off-guard.

It's the New England Chupacabra!

It’s the New England Chupacabra!

Clearly, it looks human. Sort of. I quickly went past that… whatever it was and came across the men’s watches section. Is it just me or are these getting bigger and bigger for no discernible reason? Are men’s eyesight getting weaker somehow or are our penises getting smaller? I mean, I know men do have bigger wrists… well not me; I look like a hairy 16 year-old girl with a face that could turn Medusa to stone, but these were approaching ridiculous sizes.

Is that case made of Depleted Uranium?

Is that case made of Depleted Uranium?

This thing really does weigh more than a small moon

These things really do weigh more than a small moon

These were almost the size of my whole bloody palm! It’s a shame that good taste in appearances have gone out the window and it’s not just in the West. Although I most certainly can’t afford one, and I know taste is subjective, I think Bell & Ross is one of few brands that have the ideal appearance for men’s watches mastered. They’re clear (the chief function of a watch, in case people forgot, is to tell time), have good Swiss movements, simple and above all else are tasteful.

Well, this was the mall so onward…

I then came across a picture of an actor with a beard wearing simple, quaint, clothing selling a heater that Amish people don’t make.

Did they make the cabinet or the heater? Or neither? Still not clear on the details.

Did they make the cabinet or the heater? Or neither? Still not clear on the details.

I can’t lie; I do like the idea of having one of these in my cabin, but the power demand will still be unacceptable considering the small roof size for solar panels. Plus the pellet stove will be more effective for heat anyway.

I popped into the Verizon store to get a new Bluetooth hands free set since mine got stepped on at work (yeah, someone will lose an ear when I go back to work). I’m reminded this is still Danbury, I.E. New England country bumpkin territory when I came across this.

Sure love em corn dogs done right, but I ain't riskin mah fingers!

Sure love em corn dogs done right, but I ain’t riskin mah fingers!

There’s been a lot of hoopla over the “War Christmas” which is ironic since Christmas has been waging a war on Christians since the advent of commercialism decades ago. The Lexus ads call it the “December to Remember Sales Event”, but I think calling it the “Buy-More-Useless-Junk Event” is more appropriate. The above iGrill really drove the point home to me that the “War on Christmas” people really have their priorities misaligned.

I got into an argument with someone over this very point right before Christmas. He’s one of those people who claim that somehow everyone coming together and enjoying the holidays in their own way is somehow detrimental to the spirit of Christmas. When I tried to explain to these people how their beliefs are quite safe, because, well… they’re their beliefs (unless the aliens come down to Earth and reach into their minds to brainwash them into clicking on PSY’s Gangnam Style video over and over until it reaches 1 Billion views on December 21st thereby initiating the End of the World… which didn’t happen), I usually the get irate retort :

WELL, WHAT ABOUT YOU, HUH? WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE IN?!

Chocolate and Donny Osmond.

No, seriously. Hear me out.

For every problem you may have (short of being able to fly an airplane during a hailstorm while being attacked by chimps tripping on acid) you will find an answer in either Chocolate or Donny Osmond.

Consider this :
If you’re faced with the problem of choosing between charity and avoiding troublesome in-laws, Donny Osmond would say to face them with your heart open and you shall overcome whatever adversity may strike you. I have followed this whenever I meet family and Donny’s advice (that he never gave me personally, but came to me in a vision through Crazy Horses) has never let me down. If this is not enough, chocolate will be the ideal peacemaker between all. And if that fails, well… Chocolate and Donny Osmond work in mysterious ways.

I have to start work again tomorrow, sadly, and even though I do have the coming weekend off, I’ll probably be spending time with family. So if I don’t get to post until after the 1st…

Happy New Year!

A Scientology Christmas Carol

It’s a day late, but after I read a conversation post by Brianna, this just popped into my head.

Says E-Meter and auditer
TC, came upon a midnight Clear

Observe, MEST, ye Thetan playdough
Will, did you know?

Engage R6 implant level III…
‘O Christmas Tree.

You shall reach OT level II
Pew! Pew!! Pew!

P.S.
Just a little joke, Scientologists. Don’t go all Operation Freakout on me.

An Encrypted Christmas Greeting

A little while ago, I wrote a simple one-time pad utility in JavaScript that can be used to send encrypted messages with relative security. One-time-pad is technically cryptographically secure, however it’s only as secure as how it’s used and the strength of the random number generator used to create the pad. My script must rely on the strength of the psudo random number generator of the browser scripting engine, so security is relatively weak and this must be taken into consideration before using it for anything important.

I’ve been getting some emails asking about using the utility and I think there was some added confusion since my version uses numbers as well. We’ll here’s a little tutorial on how to use a one-time pad…

Encrypting the message

Take the following simple message for example, and take the corresponding number from the values list on the one-time-pad.

 

M E R R Y C H R I S T M A S
13 05 18 18 25 03 08 18 09 19 20 13 01 19

 

Now, using the one-time pad, I got the following set of random characters and their corresonding values.

 

D 9 D F D B L M L W W 8 8 A
04 35 04 06 04 02 12 13 12 23 23 34 34 01

 

If I take the corresponding value of each character from both lists and add them together, I can get the new ciphertext that can be sent securely to the recipient. Obviously we can’t use the numbers in green because our list of available characters only go up to 36, however, we can subtract 36 from these numbers (mod 36) so it will cycle back to the available pool.

 

13 05 18 18 25 03 08 18 09 19 20 13 01 19 +
04 35 04 06 04 02 12 13 12 23 23 34 34 01
17 40 22 24 29 05 20 31 21 42 43 47 35 20 =
17 04 22 24 29 05 20 31 21 06 07 11 35 20 mod 36

 

This new set of numbers can be turned into the ciphertext using that same values list.

 

17 04 22 24 29 05 20 31 21 06 07 11 35 20
Q D V X 3 E T 5 U F G K 9 T

Decrypting the message

So, our recipient got the encrypted ciphertext, QDVX3ET5UFGK9T, and now he/she must take these charaters and turn them into a list of values in order to decrypt it.

 

Q D V X 3 E T 5 U F G K 9 T
17 04 22 24 29 05 20 31 21 06 07 11 35 20

 

Then, using the same one-time pad key values (since they’ll both be using the same sheet) the recipient will get the random characters and their associated values. Same as above.

 

D 9 D F D B L M L W W 8 8 A
04 35 04 06 04 02 12 13 12 23 23 34 34 01

 

The recipient will then subtract the one-time pad values from the encrypted message text. Basically the reverse of what the sender did. Again, this may result in some numbers going out of bounds of the available values list and become negative (marked in red), which we can fix by adding 36, again the opposite of what we did above, to bring it back to the available character pool.

 

17 04 22 24 29 05 20 31 21 06 07 11 35 20
04 35 04 06 04 02 12 13 12 23 23 34 34 01
13 31 18 18 25 03 08 18 09 17 16 23 01 19 =
13 05 18 18 25 03 08 18 09 19 20 13 01 19 mod 36

 

And when we turn those numbers back into the original text using the values list, we get :

 

13 05 18 18 25 03 08 18 09 19 20 13 01 19
M E R R Y C H R I S T M A S

 

… And a very Happy New Year!

Best Wishes from Captain Haddock

Of all the delights of reading Tintin, one of the best has to be the expletives by Captain Haddock. Hergé‘s brilliant tip-toing around the delicate nature of censorship and common decency certainly adds to an already entertaining series.

Haddock is a great character and, in many ways, more realistic and human than any others in the series. Aside from the drinking and smoking, I can certainly relate to him. As an individual with many, many flaws, I’m at least trying to be a better person, damnit!

Since Wikipedia, in its infinite wisdom, declared that his list of curses was non-encyclopedic in nature, I’ve taken the liberty of replicating them here. Credits go to the Tintinologist and David Brooks.

Merry Christmas and a happy cursing!

A

B

  • Baboons!
  • Baby-snatchers!
  • Bagpipers!
  • Bald-headed budgerigar!
  • Bandits!
  • Bashi-bazouks!
  • Bath-tub Admiral!
  • Beast!
  • Belemnite!
  • Billions of billious barbecued blue blistering barnacles!
  • Billions of Billious Blue Blistering Barnacles!
  • Billions of Blue Blistering Barnacles!
  • Black beetles!
  • Black Marketers! Blackamoor!
  • Blackbird!
  • Blackguards!
  • Blistering Barnacles!
  • Blistering blundering birdbrain!
  • Bloodsuckers!
  • Blue blistering barnacles!
  • Blue Blistering Bell-Bottomed Balderdash!
  • Blunderbuss!
  • Bodysnatcher!
  • Bootlegger!
  • Borgia!
  • Bougainvillea!
  • Brat!
  • Breathalyser!
  • Brigands!
  • Brutes!
  • Bucaneers!
  • Bully!
  • Butcher!

C

D

E

F

  • Fancy-dress Facist!
  • Fancy-dress Fatima!
  • Fatfaces!
  • Filibusters!
  • Fourlegged Cyrano!
  • Freshwater swabs!
  • Fuzzy wuzzy!

G

H

I

J

K

L

M

N

O

P

R

  • Raggle taggle ruminants!
  • Rapscallion!
  • Rats!
  • Rhizopods!
  • Roadhogs!

S

T

V

W

Z