Thursday, November 24, 2011

Internet passwords

I am beginning to get pissed off about the requirements of some websites when you're creating a new account, when it comes to choosing your password. It's getting to a point where all the symbols on the keyboard must to be used, which makes passwords really hard to remember.

This isn't the worst I've seen...

I admit they make them really hard to guess, but whoever uses passwords that are "guessable" deserve to be hacked in the first place.

It's really easy to come up with a password that is only letters and that sticks to your head.

heymanitsmeletmein -> Secure, easy to forget, hard to guess, hard to find by brute force.

Randy22# -> Hard to remember, although secure online, easy to crack by brute force if it's a local file.

What's more, websites advise you to never repeat a password. So if I'm signed up to half a dozen forums, three email services, online banking, two gaming portals and wikipedia, how many upper-lower-case-number-and-symbol passwords can I remember before I forget one and have to go through the process of "recover your password" just to forget that one the next day as well?

Passwords should be whatever you want, and as such, at your own risk if they are too easy to guess. If you use your dog's name as the key to your important stuff, then it's your fault for being stupid when some guy signs in and starts sending spam to all your contacts.

I finish my rant with the classic XKCD strip that wraps it all up perfectly:

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Ozone, friend and foe

We've all heard talk about Ozone, the ozone layer, products with ozone, etc.. But how many of us know what it really is?

The ozone molecule is basically three Oxygen atoms bonded together, as the figure shows below.

The arrow in the figure represents that the molecule "mutates" between the two existing forms (which are just mirror images in this case since the molecule only has one type of atom), in what is called Molecular Resonance. A pair of shared atoms keeps shifting from left to right, and right to left, changing the polarity of the molecule along with it. What we have in practical terms is not a single or a dual bond, but something like a "1.5" bond between the atoms. This makes it quite unstable and reactive. It will easily oxidize most metals, with the exception of Gold, Platinum and Iridium.

One of the most interesting aspects of it is the duality of being essential to life but also harmful to it.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Make a wish

They say if you make a wish at 11:11, it comes true. Or at least an asian friend of mine said so.

In any case, happy 11/11/11! Make a wish at that time and it should be ultra empowered.

Don't wish for money or you might be buried under a pile of gold.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sonic Generations... back to 1991!

So today I have something for all of those nostalgic gamers like myself, especially those who had a Mega Drive (Genesis) while growing up. It’s Sonic Generations!

20 years ago Sega created a small, quick blue hedgehog to compete with rivals Nintendo and their Mario, and to showcase their new consoles capabilities. Here we are 20 years later and it's back to the past!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Keep your helmets on! 2005 YU55 near pass.

Tomorrow (tuesday the 8th of November) an asteroid the size of an aircraft carrier will pass us really close by. It's called 2005 YU55, and while astronomically we can call this a close miss, it will be 0.00217 AU (Eart-Sun distance) away, around 325,000 km or 200,000 mi. This is 15% closer than the distance at which the moon orbits (0.85 lunar distances).

Unfortunately, it will not be visible to the naked eye as it is not big enough, and since it is not a comet, it will not leave a visible trail. The object is approaching from the direction of the Sun, so it will be a daylight object, observable for astronomers who will surely be delighted pointing their optical and infra-red telescopes at it.
It poses no threat of collision, and by calculations, it won't do so for at least 100 years.

The next tracked object to come close to earth (0.6 lunar distances) won't come until 2028. Keep your helmets in good condition for that one as well.

Check out the original story at NASA's site

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The world in shades of bastards.

cor·rup·tion noun \kə-ˈrəp-shən\
  a : impairment of integrity, virtue, or moral principle : depravity
  b : decay, decomposition
  c : inducement to wrong by improper or unlawful means (as bribery)
  d : a departure from the original or from what is pure or correct

This is a word most of us are familiar with, and when applied to government or the ruling class of a country or state, it refers to the deviation of public funds for private enrichment, as well as the acceptance of bribes or generally speaking, forgetting about the greater good for personal gain.

It has always been a huge problem in human societies because, like it or not, we are many times driven by greed. It is not a good basis to function on, and it shows.

Is it possible to measure corruption? Well, with some surveys and studies, people certainly have tried. The folks at Transparency International compiled all the results into a simple graphical media where we can appreciate the severity of the problem, the Corruption Perceptions Index 2010 Results.

The countries are given a rating from 0 to 10, with lower numbers indicating more corruption and higher numbers indicating more transparency, based on several surveys conducted (at least 3 or 4, with as many as 10 for some).