Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Free Energy Crackpots

I shouldn't be, but I'm amazed that there are still gullible crackpots who are earnestly working every day toward achieving free energy. Not in a tongue-in-cheek, or steampunk-cybergoth manner, but in an actual effort to achieve the impossible of free, perpetual energy. A world filled with alleged friend-of-a-friend witnessing of a running perpetual motion/free energy machines and crazy plans.

Seriously, the number of assertions I see where someone says they are 'close' and only need a 'bit more work' to get a working bench model are dizzying. Of course, one wise person on the Intarwebs pointed out...

The Internet has been taken over by truth seekers and things like free energy, and then of course all the scams that I assume are funded by the oil companies hoping that people will buy in to them and get scammed and then never touch free energy again.

So, if you ever get burned by some free energy plans or schemes, just remember, it's the oil companies that are seeding disinformation.

In the meantime, give Idiocracy another viewing.

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Hacker Diet

This just in, eating food makes you fat, exercise makes you hungry.

The one thing that might be said about exercise with certainty is that it tends to makes us hungry. Maybe not immediately, but eventually. Burn more calories and the odds are very good that we’ll consume more as well. And this simple fact alone might explain both the scientific evidence and a nation’s worth of sorely disappointing anecdotal experience.

If you want to be thin, eat less. Yeah, the hacker diet works, but eating less is hard when food tastes so good.

Educating Users Doesn't Work

Marcus Ranum has an excellent article which I find myself going back to often, it's titled The Six Dumbest Ideas in Computer Security. My favorite is number five, Educating Users.

On the surface of things, the idea of "Educating Users" seems less than dumb: education is always good. On the other hand, like "Penetrate and Patch" if it was going to work, it would have worked by now.

This ties directly into password policies as users (in the aggregate) have shown themselves to be completely incapable of managing something as complex as passwords and authentication. For several years now I've been operating a lab with a very simple password policy. Your password is random and no, you can't change it. It works because every human I've encountered thus far, when asked to type in a string of 8 completely random symbols on a daily basis rather quickly memorizes it. For those who do not log in on a daily basis, they are the ones most likely to pick duplicate or otherwise insecure passwords, or write it down anyway. So, they have a slip of paper that says 'your password is:' anyway, it just happens to be a good one.

And yes, I have been tracking the number of password resets requested, and no, there aren't very many. Also, those that do get reset, are often repeat customers who never bother to keep track of their password in the first place.

Screwdrivers Are Not Animals

An excellent article, Animals Are Not Things which describes animal welfare from a very pragmatic point of view. My favorite quote:

I am not required to keep a pair of screwdrivers in my toolbox, so that they can socialize with other screwdrivers.

Although, I should point out that I have several dozen screwdrivers in my screwdriver drawer. Therefore my bases are covered should we discover that we are wrong about them. (I for one welcome our new robot masters.)

Statistics on the book industry

Para Publishing has a fascinating collection of statistics about the book publishing industry.

A successful fiction book sells 5,000 copies.

A successful nonfiction book sells 7,500 copies.

59% of the customers plan to purchase a specific book when entering a bookstore.

40% make impulse purchases.

2002: Of the $23.7 billion spent on books, only $10.7 billion is spent in bookstores. The non-traditional outlets sell more books.