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The End! June 8, 2006

Posted by dhar in Uncategorized.

This blog will no longer be updated. Kindly remove the RSS feed from your readers. In the words of Jim Morrison: 

This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end
My only friend, the end

So long, and thanks for all the fish!


Microsoft’s Anti-Virus & Anti-Spam June 7, 2006

Posted by dhar in Misc.
1 comment so far

Those interested can get a trial version of Microsoft's anti-virus and anti-spam product: Antigen.

Malicious Cryptography June 7, 2006

Posted by dhar in Security, Technology.
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Security Focus is running an interesting article on Malicious Cryptograpy: how crypto is being used to produce sophisticated viruses. From the article:

A virus employing techniques to avoid or delay the analysis becomes what is called an armored virus. The first public armored virus fulfilling this goal was called Whale and first spread sometime in September 1990. It combined several techniques:

  • Polymorphism: both the binary and the process were ciphered (there were 30 hardcoded versions).
  • Stealth: several interruptions, including debugging ones, are hooked by Whale, and it also hides in high memory before decreasing the max limit of memory known by DOS, which was prominent at the time.
  • Armoring: the code changes depended on the architecture (8088 or 8086), had intense use of obfuscation (useless code, identical conditions, redundant code, and so on) and had what is known as anti-debug (if a debugger is detected, the keyboard is blocked and Whale kills itself).

Read the part one of the article here and the part two here.

Google Spreadsheet June 6, 2006

Posted by dhar in Technology.

OK, this is exciting! I feel an online MS-Word like product might not be far off now. That said, here is a list of Google Spreadsheet features:

  1. You can import your .xls or .csv files and according to Google the formulae and formatting will be preserved. Cool!
  2. Define users who have read / write access to your spreadsheets.
  3. Export your work as an .xls or as a .csv.

Sign-up here.

Misc. Interesting Stuff June 6, 2006

Posted by dhar in Misc.
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A new Microsoft relay service which allows services built using Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) to connect over P-to-P networks through security devices such as firewalls and network address translators (NATs).

Eric Drexler's Engines of Creation is available free online.

Stephen Wolfram's A New Kind of Science also available free online.

Book Meme June 3, 2006

Posted by dhar in Books.

Tried one of the book memes floating around on the Net and realized surprisingly that I haven't even heard of a few titles. Anyway, the way I have categorized stuff is as follows: 

Read / Currently Reading: Bold
Planning to Read: Italicized
Havent Heard / Not planning to read / Given Up: Strike Out 

And here is the list: 

The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy – Douglas Adams

The Great Gatsby – F.Scott Fitzgerald
To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter 6) – J.K. Rowling
Life of Pi – Yann Martel
Animal Farm: A Fairy Story – George Orwell
Catch-22 – Joseph Heller
The Hobbit – J. R. R. Tolkien
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
Lord of the Flies – William Golding
Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
1984 – George Orwell
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Book 3) – J.K. Rowling
One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Book 4) – J.K. Rowling
The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter 5) – J.K. Rowling
Slaughterhouse 5 – Kurt Vonnegut
Angels and Demons – Dan Brown
Fight Club – Chuck Palahniuk
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Book 1) – J.K. Rowling
Neuromancer – William Gibson
Cryptonomicon – Neal Stephenson
The Secret History – Donna Tartt
A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Book 2) – J.K. Rowling
Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
American Gods – Neil Gaiman
Ender’s Game (The Ender Saga) – Orson Scott Card
Snow Crash – Neal Stephenson
A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis
Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides
Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
The Lord of the Rings – J. R. R. Tolkien
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
Good Omens – Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman
Atonement – Ian McEwan
The Shadow Of The Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway
The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
Dune – Frank Herbert
The Unberable Lightness of Being – Milan Kundera
Hey Nostradamus! – Douglas Coupland
The Nature of Blood – Caryl Phillips
Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules – Ed. David Sedaris
The Last Continent – Terry Pratchett
The Book of Skulls – Robert Silverberg
The Beekeeper’s Apprentice – Laurie R. King
Persepolis 2 – Marjane Satrapi (Havent been able to lay hands on this one yet…)
The Sound & The Fury – William Faulkner
A Wild Sheep Chase – Haruki Murakami
The Fabric of the Cosmos – Brian Green
Philosophy & Social Hope – Richard Rorty
The Long Emergency – James Howard Kunstler
The Jesus Incident – Frank Herbert and Bill Ransom
The Wide Sargasso Sea – Jean Rhys

Answers to the SFF Game June 2, 2006

Posted by dhar in Books.

Here are the answers to the SFF Game I posted a few days back. Vivek pointed out, the phrase "too tough" comes to mind, but these are some of the best books in the SFF genre. SFF for too long has come to mean just Asimov, Clarke and Tolkien.

Pick up these titles and you will realize there is more to SFF than just these three authors. Here is a small post I had written about this while I was at ISB. Anyway, the answers:

1. Low Key Lyesmith: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

2. Hiccup Forest: Hard to be a God by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky

3. Ansible: Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

4. Planet IX: Dune by Frank Herbert

5. The Unthinking Depths: A Fire upon the Deep by Vernon Vinge

6. Progris Riport: Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keye

7. Kinakuta: Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson

8. H.O.L.M.E.S IV: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein

9. The Luggage: The Discworld Series by Terry Pratchett

10. Time Tombs: Hyperion by Dan Simmons

11. Grok: Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein

12. Sparrowhawk: A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula le Guin

13. Pilman Radiant: Roadside Picnic by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky

14. Saidin and Saidar: A Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan

15. Mazer Rackham: Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

16. Melange: Dune by Frank Herbert

17. Number Ten Ox: Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart

Sci-Fi and Fantasy Game May 28, 2006

Posted by dhar in Books.

Warning: For Sci-Fi and Fantasy buffs only. 🙂

Here is a small Sci-Fi and Fantasy game. The funda is simple. Each clue points to an excellent but not necessarily famous Sci-Fi / fantasy novel. Use to clue to guess which one.

1. Low Key Lyesmith

2. Hiccup Forest

3. Ansible

4. Planet IX

5. The Unthinking Depths

6. Progris Riport

7. Kinakuta

8. H.O.L.M.E.S IV

9. The Luggage

10. Time Tombs

11. Grok

12. Sparrowhawk

13. Pilman Radiant

14. Saidin and Saidar

15. Mazer Rackham

16. Melange

17. Number Ten Ox

Answers within a couple of days. A score of around 5 should be average, anything above 8 is excellent and crack above 12 probably means you are a cyborg. 

My Problem May 28, 2006

Posted by dhar in Misc, Technology.

All over the blogosphere, people raise their voices for or against some issue. A number of people raised their voice in the IIPM fiasco, while others protested the Reservation issue. Some protested the way Da Vinci Code was being treated.

Quite a few of my friends use their blog to talk about issues close to their heart. And talk passionately and with unwavering belief, they do. My problem is that somehow there is nothing I seem to be bothered about, nothing I care about immensely to blog about.

The only things that bother me, even slightly, are usually tech related. Network Neutrality, for instance. While I support the High Tech Broadband Coalition's view, I am always left with a nagging feeling there might be some small merit in what the telcos have to say.

Wonder if there is something abnormal about this kinda behaviour?

Photoshop: Transform your Landscape Shots May 24, 2006

Posted by dhar in Photography.

Sometimes the landscape shots I get are dull, dreary and grey. The scene is pretty good and you dont want to discard the picture. For instance, this picture I shot was pretty useless.

But you can use Photoshop to transform such shots into something enchanting and captivating. Here is the final result of my manipulations of this image in photoshop:

I have posted a short tutorial on how you can achieve such results. You can read the tutorial here.