I’ve been buying this organic bread recently. I’m not a big organic guy (could you guess?) but it’s low-carb and yet doesn’t taste like cardboard. Several times, however, the bread has gone moldy within a day or two. Yuck. So I took some back to the store all indignant about how I only just bought this bread and now its moldy. The clerk explained it to me—heh, it’s organic—no preservatives, get it? Oh, that’s what preservatives do. I will never question civilization again.

— Alex Tabarrok

Zen koan nowhere

Creative Labs has announced their new iPod Mini killerclone, the Zen Micro. It comes in ten different colors (face-plate only, and they all have a blue border), is slightly shorter and thicker, adds an extra gigabyte of storage, and includes FM radio, voice recording, and a removable rechargeable battery, all for the same price as the Mini.

Oh, yeah, and it’s hideous:


Good news, bad news

Good: releasing Aladdin on DVD. Bad: including a video of Jessica Simpson singing “A whole new world”.

“Hey Rocky, watch me pull a foreign policy out of my ass!”

“That trick never works.”

John Kerry, International Man Of Mystery

Least convincing spam subject line of the week…

As seen on CBS News!

’nuff said.

On the finding of weapons of mass destruction

Sometimes, it takes a hurricane or three to uncover leftover bombs. Left over from World War II, that is.

Quick take: Seven of Seven (Shichinin no Nana), disc 1

This is a fluffy, squeaky clean little series about a teenage girl named Nana and her six personality-differentiated clones, who appeared after an accident that involved her mad-scientist grandfather, his latest experiment in high-tech prisms, a microwave oven, and a cherry tree. Our Heroine has one goal in life: to pass the high-school entrance exams so she can get into the same school as the boy she has a crush on. Unfortunately, her new sisters share that crush, and that’s not all…

It’s almost painfully cute, with an opening theme to match. Disc 2 just came out, and I’m going to have to buy it.

Update: apparently the associated manga is a bit more fan-service oriented. Obviously I’m going to have to confirm that…

Update: Oh my, yes. The manga version is definitely aimed at a male audience.

Update: Just finished watching disc 2. It’s still cute. I’ll buy the next one.

Okay, this is cool

Mamiya has just shown off a 22 megapixel SLR body with a 36×48mm CCD. That’s twice the physical area of a 35mm film frame (which should produce visibly higher quality than the high-MP Canons and Nikons), although it will still have some magnification when used with Mamiya’s 6×4.5cm medium-format lenses, and even more when the digital-back version is used with their 6×7cm body and lenses.

Dicing with passwords

Last year I posted a reference to Arnold Reinhold’s Diceware page, and included a copy of my favorite passphrase generator, which attempts to generate pronouncable nonsense words.

I’ve always been a big fan of pronounceable nonsense, even in the days when passwords were limited to eight characters, but I think it’s particularly useful for long passphrases. My problem was that it can actually be pretty difficult to get a good nonsense phrase out of the original table. So I made my own.

Now, the instinctive reaction to someone creating their own security tool instead of using one created by an expert is (or ought to be) an anguished cry of “Noooooo, you fooooool!”. This is a special case, though, because the beauty of the Diceware scheme is that the contents of the table don’t actually matter, as long as each cell is unique. You could fill the first column with colors and the rest of the cells with the names of different superheroes, and the resulting passphrases would contain just as much entropy.

So here’s my new favorite method of generating passphrases. Roll three six-sided dice (one to choose a consonant, two more to choose the rest of the syllable), repeat at least ten times, and assemble into a phrase.


Update: Sorry if I didn’t make it clear. Split the results up with spaces to create two- or three-syllable “words”.

Also, a word on the relative strength of passphrases. Each syllable contains ~7.75 bits of entropy (log2(6*6*6)), so ten syllables produces a 77.5-bit passphrase, which is likely good enough for data that isn’t kept under lock and key 24x7 (e.g. login password on a laptop). See Reinhold’s FAQ on passphrase length for details. Note that the dictionary-based Diceware system requires longer passphrases to get the same strength (5d6 per word versus 6d6 for nonsense syllables).

“Need a clue, take a clue,
 got a clue, leave a clue”