Friday, 04 February 2005

A year ago, I posted a blog entry about a family that had just named their child "John Blake Kusak 2.0."

Now, one year later, weird headlines tells the tale of another family and their just-turned-one-year-old son, "Jake Matthew Thompson Two Point Zero." Apparently some companies are having a hard time getting the kid's name right. Go figure.

Argh. Something scary when parents call their kids "upgrades."

Someone check in with these kids when they turn 18, and see how well/badly things turned out.

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Friday, 04 February 2005 10:26:10 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Freudian slip
n: a slip-up that (according to Sigmund Freud) results from the operation of unconscious wishes or conflicts and can reveal unconscious processes in normal healthy individuals

I recently started using passphrases instead of passwords for my various computer accounts. So far I have found only one place where it just doesn't work.

I'm calling it a success so far.

Using something akin to natural English - complete with with spaces, punctuation and natural capitalization - makes passphrases very easy to remember and (despite their longer length) often easier to type than convoluted "strong" passwords.

But something funny happened to me on the way to my computer the other day, when I was playing with test passphrases in preparation for making the Big Change. I've discovered that passphrases may tell more about the person using them than one might realize.

Let's say, for example, I choose a passphrase (and this is very hypothetical) like:

How the heck did you do that Dude?

It's easy to type because it's just a sentence, easy to remember because it's conversational, secure because it's long and complex. Obviously, moving away from a simple plain-language phrase like the example above can be strengthened further by throwing in non-natural characters, phrase structure, etc., just like with passwords.

But I digress... In my hypothetical example passphrase above, what do you imagine would cause me to keep typing the passphrase incorrectly?

As it turns out, there's a tendency to think not about the exact wording, but instead about what the phrase communicates. So, in the above example there are two words I might keep screwing up.

The first problematic word is "that." The tendency here is to type "this" instead of "that," as in "How the heck did you do this Dude?" or "This is a really cool thing you're doing." Natural human speech tendency.

The second problematic word is a little more colorful (and Freudian) in its psychological adaptation. Take the word "heck" and figure out how many similar words a person might use. Depending on mood (which seems to be a real factor affecting outcome in my case, heheh), the person typing the passphrase might type "hell" in place of "heck." It has the same two first letters, and so it's a natural tendency. But take the word "heck," apply some life or personal stress, and then take a look at the last two letters of the word, and I'll leave it up to you to come up with another four-word replacement that shares those last two characters, and also fits into the passphrase (conversationally and in a rude kind of way).

You get the idea. Anyhow, I only locked myself out of that test account once.

Freud would probably be proud. But hey, that figures - he was a drug addict and a freak.

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Friday, 04 February 2005 09:05:34 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Wednesday, 02 February 2005

Because great things come from the people, Rory has started a new project and invited the whole world in. It's called NeoWikiDiki... Anyone can participate. That means you.

"This is a wiki based dictionary that sucks. It sucks because none of us know what in the hell we're doing or talking about, but we're all contributing to this big thing at the same time.

"Some of us will use spell checkers. Others won't.

"Some of us will ensure correct definitions based on others stolen from existing and reputable references. Others won't.

"Some of us will only edit definitions in the nude. Others won't.

"Others will come here to actually look words up.

"These people... These people, we will call 'victims.'"

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Wednesday, 02 February 2005 20:17:38 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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A few fixes and some general cleanup went into a beta code refresh for people already addicted to the MSN Toolbar Suite. Download available.

Below is from BetaNews:

MSN Updates Desktop Search Beta
By Nate Mook, BetaNews
February 1, 2005, 1:47 PM

While the new MSN Search was the center of attention Tuesday, Microsoft developers have silently refreshed the MSN Toolbar Suite, which includes the company's Desktop Search Beta. The updated release offers a number of minor fixes and performance improvements, including better indexing of e-mail attachments.

In the initial beta, a number of MSN Desktop Search users received antivirus warnings each time an e-mail attachment was cataloged, due to the software creating a temporary file. Developers note, however, that "no virus would occur as a result of this because the file wasn't opened, but it was annoying to get the pop-ups."

To correct this behavior, developers have modified the IFilter, which are DLLs used by MSN Desktop Search to index a particular file type.

The new release also enables the indexing of Outlook items, even if Microsoft's e-mail client is not set as the default. Other improvements including the clearing of Deskbar text after a search, as well as bug fixes that improve the "overall stability and robustness" of MSN Desktop Search.

"We are not planning to Autoupdate existing users, but if you are seeing any of the problems above or want to be running the latest and greatest bits download it today! You don't have to uninstall your existing version," wrote MSN program managers Paul Steckler and Bubba Murarka in a Web log posting.

MSN Toolbar Suite Beta version is available for download via FileForum.

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Wednesday, 02 February 2005 07:35:23 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Tuesday, 01 February 2005

Wow. Check it out.


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Tuesday, 01 February 2005 17:47:45 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Monday, 31 January 2005

How do you save a few bucks on McDonald's drive-through staff in Oregon?

Outsource them. To North Dakota. Click for more...


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Monday, 31 January 2005 17:34:30 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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