More Ramblings from a Los Angeles Programmer

January 24, 2009

SSL Certificates in real life

Filed under: daily life, delirium, humor — Josh DeWald @ 4:51 pm

Lately I have thought it would be really nice if there was a way to actually confirm that identiy of someone and, more imporantantly, the organization they claim to be from.

The actual example that keeps coming up for me is when I see people outside of Rite Aid or Ralphs or whatever claiming to be from a charity that I have never even heard of. It’s literally a guy with a piece of paper and a box for money. Anyone who has seen Fred Claus or, I am ashamed to admit, True Beauty knows how easy is to just pretend to be from a charity. How am I to know that these people are legit?

Some of these folks don’t even attempt to look presentable or trustworthy (tying your shoes would be a good start).

It would be great if I could simply ask them for their Charity Chain of Trust documentation and be able to validate it up to the charity itself (and then on to the government, which actually grants tax-free non profit status).

I really don’t know how a system like this would actually work. Most likely it would have to be similar to how our money system works, whereby there are printed “watermarks” and security measures which are resasonably hard to fake for the average joe just trying to make a buck. Then I suppose there could be a website where you enter the hash printed on the certificate to confirm it’s authenticity. That would only work for relatively small values. Better yet it would need to be in the form of a barcode that could be “scanned” using a normal mobile phone camera.

The Salvation Army guys I tend to believe, because otherwise who would actually willingly put on the pseudo-military uniform 🙂

April 23, 2008

Old Philosphers as Quacks?

Filed under: books, daily life, delirium, history — Tags: , — Josh DeWald @ 12:46 am

I was watching some show on the History channel about Alchemy and how there was (still is) a lot of very serious search for the “sorcerer’s stone” (yes, the one made famous by the Harry Potter book) that would turn “base metals” into gold and provide for long lasting life.

It got me to thinking… how do we know that all these books we find weren’t just the new age quacks of the day? Go into a bookstore right now and I can pretty much guarantee that you will find plenty of books that describe how you can… make amazing amounts of money by doing no real work and live “forever” through some vague medicines or diets. The average person would not take these things seriously, yet we assume that “back then” this was all completely mainstream. I’m just not so sure.

There’s certainly the argument that today it is significantly easier to get a book published, but having money doesn’t mean that you’re sane. If anything, it’s often the nutters who have managed to mass enough money to publish whatever pops into their whacky brains.

Same goes for a lot of historical stuff that we take as being just how people thought back then. Who knows, perhaps the majority of Greeks and Romans though it was pretty ridiculous to think (as we do now) that there were a bunch of gods living up in the mountains who would come down in the guise of humans (and animals). Perhaps it was just the totally zealous ones who put mosaics and floor coverings and wrote poems on it.

It’s only the people with strong opinions that generally feel the need to talk about it.

March 25, 2008


Filed under: delirium, humor — Tags: — Josh DeWald @ 3:20 pm

In my random stumbling around the internet I think I’ve found the source of the Weekly World News “batboy” image. In the process I also found out that WWN apparently folded a bit ago.

bat boy?Bat boy!

(source of the boy image:

(source of the bat boy image:

 Yes, it has been a while since I’ve written and it’s sad that this is my return…

What do ya think?

January 30, 2008


Filed under: delirium, mathematics, technology, uk life — Tags: , , , , , — Josh DeWald @ 11:13 pm

Lately I have been more and more amazed by two things:

  1. Gravity
  2. Magnetism

Sure, we have a bunch of equations for their effects (i.e. the force they impart), but do we really truly understand how they could actually come about?

Think about it, our Earth is completely locked into orbit around an object 93 million miles away. 93 million. Heck, Pluto is 3.6 billion (3.6 thousand million for the Brits out there) miles away and it ain’t even going to break away. That is pretty damn amazing and we totally take it for granted.

One of the more entertaining things to do for us simple-minded folks is to take two magnets and try to push their like-poles together. Those puppies will really fight you! You can use the effect and move another magnet around a table. Japan uses this for friction-less high speed trains. Kids play with magnets from the youngest age, and it’s always fascinating, but it is completely taken in stride.

It is very interesting that another instance of moving things without touching them, telekinesis, is complete hogwash (presumably…) despite there being electric currents running all through us.

Maybe this is why every guy has, at some point in his life, been convinced the he could use the Force.

Don’t even get me started with quantum entanglement (aka “spooky action at a distance”). The world around us is truly stunning, even when we can “explain” it.

Update:Had 36 thousand million instead of 3.6

May 1, 2007

A numerical recipe.

Filed under: delirium, technology — Josh DeWald @ 4:59 pm

A long time ago I was only 09 years old.

What is the F9 key for anyway?

Is ’11’ considered a palindrome?

You represent a byte with 02 hexadecimal digits.

I live in apartment 9D. I actually don’t.

74 is not prime.

We used to go to E3 and pretend it wasn’t just to play new games.

Vela-5B was a classified satellite run by DARPA

Do you want D8 me? Ha.

41 is just about the answer to the Life, Universe and Everything

56-bit RSA was known to be weak.

The Sinclair C5 is a sweet looking electric vehicle

63 is both a Woodall and a Harshad number. Ain’t that interesting.

56-bit RSA was cracked by distributed effort.

IG-88 was a bounty hunter droid in Star Wars:The Empire Strikes Back

Apparently ‘C0’ is the IATA identifier for the Polish Centralwings airline.

April 20, 2007

NES-playing AI

Filed under: ai, coding, delirium, technology — Josh DeWald @ 5:19 am

Perhaps I’m just delirious from lack of sleep but given that you can have “perfect information” from within an emulator, it should be possible create Mario, Zelda, Contra, etc playing “bots”!

If you don’t want to “cheat”, it can be based on the screen image (like a human would get) but this would be significantly more difficult. I’d be really impressed if you could make something that navigates a signal level through “vision”.

That would make a damn good master’s thesis/senior project I think.

Some quick googling didn’t turn up anything, but I wouldn’t be surprised if such a thing already exists. Any takers?

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