Archive for November, 2008

Donghaksa and Gyeryongsan

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

Some photos from a recent trip to Gyeryongsan near Daejeon:

2008-11-22-Gyeryongsan

I’ve not been taking enough photos of late and I found some photos of a quick trip to Mouuido in July on the camera as well:

From Mouuido

Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

I am reading Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations at the moment. He had a rather Spartan outlook on life (to say the least), but his thinking is attractive nonetheless. I cannot say that it will change the way that I live my life, or that I feel compelled to live like a true stoic, but it does remind me to ignore the less important ephemera.

I should admit that I have come to this book from a brief reference in “The Silence of the Lambs” and the character in the movie “Gladiator”, rather than as a result of some learned classical education. I find the character in the second movie particularly amusing.

The final line of “Gladiator” is something along the lines of “What we do in life echoes in eternity.” I guess that the slave rebellion story and the early democracy were to flatter a modern western audience: the way we live now is similar to the way it was then. Transporting modern values to a previous age in fiction is at worst dishonest propaganda and at best boring; if I wanted to know about today, I could look out of my window.

I have not found much like that in Marcus Aurelius’ writing. The opposite is to be found in fact. He repeats over and over how the events and trials of our lives are insignificant compared to the eternities before and after our lives and how everything gets washed away in the flood.

A Hollywood movie that made that the central point of the plot might be interesting, but I doubt that the hardness of the Stoic philosophy would sell as well as schmaltz and being told that our current system of government is in some way universal and eternal.

Obama

Sunday, November 16th, 2008

Everyone that I meet who cares to share their opinion seems to be very excited about Barrack Obama. This is understandable, he appears to have the potential to be a great president. However, effervescently singing the praises of anyone in power is never a sane thing to do.

The most dangerous part of the Obama cult seems to be the way that people project whatever they want on to him. He said that he would be prepared to send troops and planes over the border from Afghanistan into Pakistan in order to chase suspected terrorists. This has made him unpopular in Pakistan. However, some of his supporters insist that this threat was just empty rhetoric to convince conservatives that he is not a pussy. If you question his fondness for protectionism, people will insist that it just rhetoric to attract blue collar voters.

A politician who has been singing his praise even when they think that he is lying seems like a very great danger.

He promises to create 5 million green jobs by spending 15 billion dollars per year for 10 years on his Green New Deal. How anyone can create that many jobs for 3000 dollars each is beyond me, but we shall see if it has some of the desired effects.

A country that is galvanised by hope for a peaceful, prosperous, and green future is a beautiful sight, and I don’t want to be a party pooper. Big government projects have achieved great things in the past. They’ve also been wasteful. The worst consequence of an environmental Keynesian package (e.g. government money being spent on solar panels in cloudy and lefty Portland, Oregon) are probably not as bad as doing nothing. However, a package that spends billions of tax dollars and makes people feel good about themselves without having any measurable impact on carbon dioxide emissions would be ghastly.

Resurrecting Coelacanth

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

I registered a project on Google Code months ago called Coelacanth. I’ve had a few different ideas about what my intentions were for the project but I’ve decided to use the name for a secure password management system.

To get the ball rolling, I’ve put up a very simple random password generator. This can be downloaded from:

http://code.google.com/p/coelacanth/downloads/list

This is my first C# program, so be kind.

I’ve written this using Microsoft Visual C# Express Edition 2008, so if you have that program installed, checking out the trunk and double clicking the Coelacanth.sln file should give you access to the source. If you want to study, compile, test, develop or extend the code in a different environment, please tell me about your experiences.

This is a very open ended project for me with no pressing time-frame. The program exists to help me with a specific problem.

I’ve only tested the program on Windows XP Pro with the Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 installed. If you want the program to run on a different platform (e.g. on Mono on Linux), but this release does not work, please submit an issue on the Google Code site.

One area where I would like to extend this project would be to do with saving the passwords in some sort of secure data store. For example, in a file in an encrypted file system. I’m not terribly interesting in this store having any sophisticated access control. I only intend Coelacanth to be a single user system. It’s hard to see what value any other sort of system could be in this domain. So saving the file in an encrypted file system and assuming that anyone who can access that file system can access any password in the file is fine by me.

Another area that the project could be extended would be to give the user some sort of warning about how long a password has been in use. If a password is given an expiry date, then after that date the user should be alerted to update the password.

I was quickly reminded as I was putting this simple application together that once an idea is transferred to source code, it takes on a life of its own. Limitations become apparent and extensions become attractive. A Google Code project for a program as limited as this might seem like overkill, but hacking a little app, posting it on my blog, and then forgetting about it, did not seem to do it justice either.