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  1. more fun with btsync

    I've already gushed over the amazingness that is btsync, but it just solved another problem for me, so here I am again.

    My new VPS provider (yes, that is an affiliate link; sue me) recently announced that their backup interval would be increasing from weekly to monthly. I'm coming from a daily backup environment, so weekly was already uncomfortable; it was time to set up my own backup system. But my primary machine (and therefore backup host) is Windows--am I supposed to set up some kind of rsync service? Muck about with Scheduled Tasks? Ugh. Headaches all around ...

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  2. on algorithms and boundaries

    I'm taking the Algorithms I class from Coursera that just started up again. (I'm going to finish it this time.) (No really!) The first programming assignment has students building a Monte Carlo simulation for the percolation problem, using a weighted quick-union algorithm. We'd already covered union finds and the internals of a WQU during the lectures and exercises, so the assignment focused on applying it efficiently.

    I built a slow prototype that mostly worked, then made it a decent amount faster, then fixed an edge case that I'd broken while making it faster, then got stuck ...

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  3. pernicious kingdoms

    From Seven Pernicious Kingdoms: A Taxonomy of Software Security Errors

    One of the first studies of computer security and privacy was the RISOS (Research Into Secure Operating Systems) project [in 1976]. RISOS proposed and described seven categories of operating system security defects...:

    • Incomplete Parameter Validation
    • Inconsistent Parameter Validation
    • Implicit Sharing of Privileges / Confidential Data
    • Asynchronous Validation / Inadequate Serialization
    • Inadequate Identification / Authentication / Authorization
    • Violable Prohibition / Limit
    • Exploitable Logic Error

    The study shows that there are a small number of fundamental defects that recur in different contexts.

    Heh. You could say that, yes. Here we are, 40 years later, dealing (or more ...

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  4. who left the burner on?

    Researchers in Uppsala, Sweden, accidentally left a reaction running over the weekend and ended up solving a century-old chemistry problem. Their work has led to the development of new material, dubbed Upsalite, with remarkable water-binding properties. Upsalite promises to find applications in everything from humidity control at home to chemical manufacturing in industry....

    When one mixture was accidentally allowed to react over a long weekend, researchers came back to find a gel. It turns out the gel was formed because methanol molecules had been trapped within the material. When heated to 70°C, which is above the boiling point of ...

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