Archive for September 17th, 2009

Somebody has a sense of humour

A quick shout out to whomever it was that registered a user account on this blog earlier today under the name “Barack Obama” using an email address starting with “liarpresent”.

I’m most amused, thanks for that.


September 17th, 2009 at 06:28pm

How much of your information is Facebook sharing with your friends’ applications?

You may be surprised by the amount of data about you, is made available to the applications installed by your friends. This video explains, and also shows how to limit the availability of such information, albeit with the loss of some functionality.

Paul Fenwick, creator of the video, has more information on his blog, and bizarrely enough, in a Facebook group.


September 17th, 2009 at 04:33pm

50 years of unlicensed driving

The New South Wales Police really do produce some amusing press releases in between the continual stream of carnage.

Shortly before 8am on Monday, 14 September police were conducting enforcement operations at the intersection of Park Road and The Northern Road at Luddenham.

Police stopped a car which had failed to stop at the stop sign and spoke to the driver.

The 67-year-old Wallacia man told police he had never held a licence during the 50 years he had been driving. He was charged with not stop at stop sign/line and unlicensed driver never held. He will appear at the Liverpool Local Court on 5 October.

If it has happened in the ACT, the press release would have been very different. It would have droned on and on about “compliance” and “lives at risk”…and the number would probably have been lower than 50 years. In New South Wales, they recognise it as such an annoying regular occurrence for Police that it’s hardly worth the extra effort of press release paperwork unless the number is a big one.

In the ACT, we would have also heard about how the wondrous technology of number plate recognition is getting these people off our roads on a daily basis…they may be right, and I have no doubt that it is harder to get away with unlicensed driving now than it used to be, but I am continually amused by the different approach used by New South Wales and ACT Police on the matter.


September 17th, 2009 at 02:33pm

Alan Jones back soon

According to Alan’s fill-in Jason Morrison, via The Right Aussie, Alan Jones will be back on air on Monday the 28th.

This will be good news for 2GB who lost ground in every daytime rating slot in the latest radio ratings, however still remain number one in every slot except for Drive, and will be keen to move Jason Morrison back to Drive to boost the ratings again.


September 17th, 2009 at 01:20pm


Google are very pleased with themselves at the moment as they recently purchased reCAPTCHA, one of the many organisations behind those squiggly sets of letter and number which attempt to make you prove that you are human and not an evil spamming robot.

CAPTCHAs, in order to work as intended, rely on the fact that computers have a hard time reading the squiggly text, but Google and reCAPTURE seem to want to make it easier for computers to recognise the squiggly text.

Since computers have trouble reading squiggly words like these, CAPTCHAs are designed to allow humans in but prevent malicious programs from scalping tickets or obtain millions of email accounts for spamming. But there’s a twist — the words in many of the CAPTCHAs provided by reCAPTCHA come from scanned archival newspapers and old books. Computers find it hard to recognize these words because the ink and paper have degraded over time, but by typing them in as a CAPTCHA, crowds teach computers to read the scanned text.

In this way, reCAPTCHA’s unique technology improves the process that converts scanned images into plain text, known as Optical Character Recognition (OCR). This technology also powers large scale text scanning projects like Google Books and Google News Archive Search.

In this way, reCAPTCHA’s unique technology also improves computers’ ability to read CAPTCHAs, therefore defeating the whole process…although, it could already be defeated. If the letters are coming from ancient scanned newspapers, and reCAPTCHA is relying on you, the human, to teach it what the letters are, does that not therefore mean that reCAPTCHA has no idea what the letters are in the first place, and will let you in regardless of what input you provide?

Presumably reCAPTCHA is providing a combination of characters that it does and does not know in each capture, requiring you to enter the known characters correctly and hopefully the others correctly as well…but this still defeats the purpose of the CAPTCHA, as by teaching the computer how to read the squiggly text, CAPTCHAs would have to grow in complexity over time in order to stay ahead of the reading ability of computers.

And surely it is just a matter of time, if it hasn’t already happened, until malware starts taking note of what you enter for a given CAPTCHA, so that the bad guys have a CAPTCHA based Optical Character Recognition database of their own.


September 17th, 2009 at 12:19pm


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