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Topics - Eóin [ switch to compact view ]

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Developer's Corner / Bjarne talks about C++11
« on: February 05, 2012, 06:28 PM »
I'm biased because I'm a huge C++ fan, but I hope everyone out there can agree that this is an excellent talk and well worth watching no matter what language you code in.

Developer's Corner / Herb Sutter's brief look at C++11
« on: October 31, 2011, 02:51 PM »
Herb Sutter, Microsoft's head C++/CLI guy and author of the famous Guru of the Week columns, has nice little overview of some of C++11 new features over on this blog. It's really worth checking out.

The C++11 standard offers many useful new features. This page focuses specifically and only on those features that make C++11 really feel like a new language compared to C++98, because:

  • They change the styles and idioms you’ll use when writing C++ code, often including the way you’ll design C++ libraries. For example, you’ll see more smart pointer parameters and return values, and functions that return big objects by value.
  • They will be used so pervasively that you’ll probably see them in most code examples. For example, virtually every five-line modern C++ code example will say “auto” somewhere.

Seems the original story was faked: BBC - Internet Explorer story was bogus.

Original post below...

Thought this was a hilarious survey result -

"There was a clear indication ... that the subjects using any version of Internet Explorer ranked significantly lower on an average than others"

Living Room / Is this the worlds most elegant keyboard?
« on: March 03, 2011, 12:19 PM »
I'm pretty sure it's not :D

I particularly love the use of Comic Sans.

Via Pharyngula

Developer's Corner / To persist with Windows 2000 support?
« on: February 23, 2011, 01:36 PM »
I used to be happy to limit the target platform of my Windows applications to Win2k and higher. I figured it was pretty safe to give up on the Win9x family, particularly as I wanted to support Unicode yet the idea of messing with TCHAR's, etc, really didn't interest me (nor is it recommended anymore it seems).

I was happy with that decision, indeed I was quite proud to be able to support a 10+ year old OS.

Now however, MS have dropped support for Win2k and WinXP pre-SP2 in the Visual Studio 2010 runtime. There is some discussion regarding the troublesome missing functions, Encode/DecodePointer, over on StackOverflow, but even if the hacks suggested work, they are just hacks. Also, looking at dependencies, I noticed another export missing, one which would be much harder to get around.

Now admittedly you can actually use the VC++ 2008 toolset in Visual Studio 2010, but you don't get the newer C++0x features, such a lambdas or auto, which really make C++ programming so much nicer.

So this leaves me in a quandary, such I stick with older C++ just to maintain Win2k compatibility, or ditch it and embrace the newer, better, programming world?

General Software Discussion / Windows 7 SP1 released
« on: February 22, 2011, 03:10 PM »
So the rumors were right, SP1 has been released today!

edit: Offline install Download Center link.

Living Room / SSD usage recommendations
« on: February 21, 2011, 05:03 AM »
SSDs have been discussed here a bit recently. I'm now looking to get a 120gb one and do a full reinstall of Windows (7 x64). I wondering what partition layout, filesystem, etc is recommended.

Here are my own initial thoughts -

  • Obviously Windows and Program Files go on the SSD as they're fairly static.

  • Temp?
    That's a hard one, if I had more than 8 gbs ram I'd consider a ram drive, but could I get away with one as it is?

  • Development work?
    This is the really hard one, I primarily use the machine for dev work, and compiling C++ programs is processor and disk intensive so I'd love to get a speed up. Also compiling binaries seem to suffer horrendously from fragmentation, so here an SSD could shine. On the other hand though, would the excessive use kill the drive?

  • Documents?
    I suspect these should go on a a mechanical drive, I'd need the extra space anyway.

  • AppData?
    This is a bit harder, most AppData is small config file, I really feel like they'd benifit from the SSD. On the other hand, one unruly program using it's appdata folder as a workspce could really mess things up.

Those seem to be the key decisions. Anyone have thoughts, is there anything I big I've missed?

Living Room / Hilarious DailyWTF
« on: February 17, 2011, 10:35 AM »
The DailyWTF is always good, but todays is particularly golden.

Genital Syncing, Accentricity, & More Support Stories.

Well actually maybe the second one isn't funny, or perhaps I'm biased ;D

Living Room / Password Brute Forcing and Geometric Series
« on: January 05, 2011, 08:01 AM »
There's been lots of talk about secure passwords recently. I was a bit bored and so decided to do a little math. The math relates to working out how long it would take the brute force a password while also taking into account Moore's Law. I first saw mention of this in a very early version of the 7-zip help file. It's no longer present in the new versions. Note this is just me musing, I'm not a cryptographer.

Let's simplify the math initially, so while Moore's Laws talks about transistor counts doubling every 18 months or so, we'll completely misrepresent it and claim that the number of passwords that the "technology of now" can brute force doubles every year. Next we'll also think of password lenghts in terms if bits so that we can can directly relate the increasing the length of the password by 1 bit to doubling the search space. For example in a lower-case alphanumeric password where each character comes from one of 36 possibilities, every additional character adds over five bits.

Ok, now onto the fun bit. So let's say that computers today can brute force about 1,000 passwords a year and that we have a password of 10 bits which gives a search space of also about 1,000. Now lets say this is a rather important password and I want to ensure what it protects stays safe for 15 years. One thought would be to add 4 more bits which would increase the search space by 16. But, the problem is over these 15 years the computers are improving. Indeed next year a computer would be able to brute force 2,000ish passwords, the following year that could be 4,000. Indeed by our simplified Moore's Law we see that in 4 years: 1,000 + 2,000 + 4,000 + 8,000 = 15,000. So though we increased the search space by 16, we really only added just over 4 years to the brute forcing effort, we've actually only seen a linear improvement.

This pattern is known as a geometric series, and to rob a Wikipedia graphic, there is a formula for calculating the sum


Here a is the number of passwords that can be brute forced now and r is the rate at which that increases.

So let's do a little test and ask how long would I need a password to be (in bits) today such that it'd stand up to 30 years brute forcing. We'll do the math in steps of months rather than years. To use somewhat real figures, I looked at CodingCrypto's page on Engineyard's Programming Contest. One of the results they quote is that a Quad Core 2 @ 2.4Ghz could compute 47,603,960 SHA1 hashes/second, which becomes a rather mind boggling ~ 1.2339 x 10^14 per month.

Ok, so let's do the math :Thmbsup:
  • If r over 18 months is 2, then r for one month is r = 2^(1/18) = 1.0393
  • We want to survive 30 years brute forcing so n = 30*12. Therefore the geometric sum x = 2.6709e+007
  • The value a we are taking to be 1.2339 x 10^14 passwords per month, giving the total, t = a*x = 3.2956e+021 over the next 30 years.
  • So what size in bits would a password need to be to stand up to that? Well the length l = log(t)/log(2) = 71.4810, so at least 72 bits.
  • Now what size lowercase alpha numeric password would we need? Well now we have l = log(t)/log(36) = 13.8263, or 14 characters.

All in all 14 lowercase alpha numeric characters isn't too long a password. But 30 years is a far cry from the thousands, if not millions, of years normally quoted for such password lenghts (and no, I don't have a citation to back up said quoted figures ;) )

Anyway, as I say, I'm just musing and maybe totally wrong. Also assuming Moore's Law to hold up over such timescales, or longer, is a bit fanciful  :-[

Developer's Corner / Mono for Android
« on: January 04, 2011, 11:26 AM »
Oooooh sexy. From Miguel de Icaza's blog, Mono for Android has begun a preview program.


Now that we feel that we have fixed all the embarrassing bugs in Mono for Android, so we have opened up our Mono for Android preview program to anyone that wants to take it out for a spin.

Mono for Android brings the full Mono VM to Android.

Developer's Corner / Strangest language feature
« on: December 09, 2010, 11:13 AM »
Fantastic question (thread?) from over on stack overflow. Plenty of things in there I never knew about. For example:

In JavaScript:
'5' + 3 gives '53'
'5' - 3 gives 2

From reddit originally

Developer's Corner / Some thumbs up for C++
« on: November 23, 2010, 03:50 PM »
This is an interesting blog post, Green Computing with C++, about some real world projects which moved away from language X to re-implement their software in C++ and saw huge performance improvements.

Have you heard of green computing? It’s basically the concept of lowering the energy requirements of computers in order to reduce the carbon footprint of datacenter operations and desktop/mobile applications

Disclaimer: this isn't meant as flame bait, I know there is no one best language, but still sometimes it can be good to highlight concrete examples from industry. Also the author is clearly pro C++, so there is inevitably more emphasis it's strengths, for example in another post he goes to town on a C++ Hater (also a good read).

General Software Discussion / IE 9 and Flash 64bit betas
« on: September 16, 2010, 12:33 PM »
Two cool betas out this week, Internet Explorer 9 and Flash Player 10.1 64bit.

Haven't tried them myself too much, only just installed a short bit ago. But everything I have tried works fine.


They're worth giving a test drive! P.S. sorry for the non-standard theme in the screenshot

General Software Discussion / Truecrypt defeats FBI
« on: June 28, 2010, 09:14 AM »
Here's an interesting article I've read over at The Register about a Brazilian banker.

Putting particular case aside, I don't actually take much joy in seeing a crooked financial businessman getting away with crime. What interests me is how much this speaks for the credibility of Truecrypt. For starters it pretty much cements the fact that there is no backdoor in the program. Now admittedly being opensource such a door would be hard to find but nonetheless this is most reassuring.

It's also a testament to the quality and robustness of the cryptography within Truecrypt as often when security like this is compromised it's down to bad implementation and not weaknesses in the algorithms

Living Room / WeTab - Linux based iPad competitor
« on: June 11, 2010, 11:19 AM »
This is an interesting product, used to be called the WePad. Seems pretty neat, physically bigger than the iPad, but then bigger screen too. Not sure I'd go for it, not really in need of a tablet PC, but impressed by it's specs nonetheless.


I know I'm going straight for a bit of Apple bashing here, but I find this bit of the technical details quite funny:


Go back 2+ years and the idea that a product of this sophistication would feel the need to point out it supports such well established technology would make you laugh. Oh how times are a changing...

Living Room / Let me Google that for you
« on: May 11, 2010, 07:55 AM »
Only came across this today :D

Typical annoying question: "I can't find Donation Coder!"
Sarky Answer: "Here you go:"

Living Room / The little bug who grew up to become a feature
« on: April 05, 2010, 02:23 PM »
This is a cool little story about a programming arithmetic bug which caused such a cool effect it became a feature. It's a post Bug or feature? from Shawn Hargreave's blog.

Living Room / PDF the Most Common Malware Vector
« on: March 22, 2010, 10:35 PM »
From Herb Sutter (who got it from Schneier who got it from F-Secure  ;D )

It's almost non-news, because it’s been obvious for years that this was coming. Malware writers target the common programs and formats. Several years ago, I talked to senior developers from a major software company on multiple occasions about memory safety and secure coding, and at the time they weren’t interested because exploits didn’t affect them (yet). As an example, I pointed out: “Look, do you think software like Acrobat Reader needs to care about secure coding? – But of course it does. Isn’t it obvious that it’ll be targeted sooner rather than later?” Moral: If you write popular software, the need for secure coding affects you and your product; if it doesn’t today, it will tomorrow. (Obligatory note: This isn’t just about C and C++. Every mainstream language lets you write exploitable security flaws.)



Living Room / How GPU came to be used for general computation
« on: March 18, 2010, 07:43 AM »
A very cool and interesting article from MS blogger Igor Ostrovsky.

The story of how GPU came to be used for high-performance computation is pretty cool. Hardware heavily optimized for graphics turned out to be useful for another use: certain types of high-performance computations. In this article, I will explore how and why this happened, and summarize the state of general computation on GPUs today.

Living Room / Microsoft Browser Choice Screen Update
« on: March 10, 2010, 07:47 AM »
Interesting to see this appear after hearing so much controversry about it for so long. Also nice to see it unticked by default. I for one shall not be installing it, now to go hide it in fact :)


Microsoft Browser Choice Screen Update for EEA Users of Windows 7 for x64-based Systems (KB976002)

Download size: 102 KB

You may need to restart your computer for this update to take effect.

Update type: Important

Install this update to access a Choice Screen which lets you select whether and which Web browser(s) to install in addition to Internet Explorer. After you have installed this software update it cannot be removed.

More information:

Help and Support:

If I rip any CDs I do so as FLACs but my small Zen doesn't support that format so I have to convert to MP3. I don't mind doing so but most codec conversion programs are big swiss army knives. Also not all support preserving tags when you convert a file.

So does anyone know of a neat small app that would fit this job.

General Software Discussion / Game-play always beats graphics
« on: February 16, 2010, 09:20 AM »
Many may remember the old classic, UFO: Enemy Unknown. Well I recently came across a version for Windows Mobile, PocketUFO. It's largely identical to the original and as it's every bit as addictive I've been totally hooked. Fantastically there's a PC version and you can copy your saves back and forth between the phone and PC and continue your campaign on either.

You gotta laugh though at how all this is in spite of the graphics, just look at how small the game window is sitting on my desktop.


Developer's Corner / GUIDs...
« on: January 28, 2010, 05:42 AM »
Anyone else ever feel like everytime they generate a GUID that they've just used one up?

Don't know what it is but I feel guilty if I generate a GUID and then don't use it, it's like I've just wasted one of a finite and precious resource.

Ah well, back to more important matters...

Living Room / Face of the Future
« on: December 05, 2009, 10:20 AM » - this is too much fun. Upload a picture of yourself and try changing your race, age or just different artistic styles!

fotf.png    phpGTczXs.jpg    phpkjqIc0.jpg

General Software Discussion / BgPatterns - tiled background designer
« on: February 24, 2009, 06:50 PM »
Came across this neat web app. Excellent for quickly making cool looking tiled backgrounds.


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