Jack's Corner
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Jack's Corner

I'm not an exciting person, but anything that crosses my mind that I care to share with the rest of the world will appear here.

Thursday, February 23, 2017


I feel taller

I'm experiencing a sensation akin to vertigo, but less severe.  When standing and looking down at the floor, I feel like that distance is greater than it was yesterday.  Sitting behind the wheel of my car, the steering wheel is further away, as is the instrument cluster and the windshield.

For the first time in 35 years, I'm viewing the world without glasses.  Even three weeks ago, when I got my first cataract removed from my non-dominant eye, I still wore my glasses because I needed perfect vision through my dominant eye.  Yesterday, the dominant eye had its cataract removed, and now, I can no longer wear my glasses.

Without the magnification of those lenses, objects seem a bit smaller - a bit further away.  The ground seems further away when I'm standing, giving me the illusion of increased height.

In anticipation of that second surgery, I bought a dollar store pair of reading glasses with a slight magnification, just so I could read small print.  But, once my eyes heal from the surgeries, I will be happy to get a fresh pair of bi-focal glasses - to clear up my astigmatism and give me the ability to see properly at a distance and close up without putting on and taking off glasses.

Thursday, January 12, 2017


Virtual Reality SNAFU

This was so funny, I couldn't resist putting it in the blog.  Some day in the distant future, I'll come across this post, and it will make me laugh all over again.

Have you ever stood in front of your bathroom mirror and then placed another mirror behind you?  What you get is a seemingly endless stream of identical images.

Apparently, a 6-year old girl in Dallas Texas asked her "Alexa" to play dollhouse with her.  Sweet, isn't it?  Well, Alexa ended up ordering an expensive dollhouse and one other weird item from Amazon!

This, of course, was not the intended response, so the child's parents reported this to their local news outlet.  When the news outlet reported the story, several Alexa owners who were tuned into the news broadcast reported that their Alexa units overheard the TV and responded by ordering the same dollhouse!

Friday, January 06, 2017


FUD - the enemy of reason

This entire election cycle, and its aftermath, has been tainted by FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt).  The US intelligence apparatus has gone out of its way in attempting to "prove" that Russia was behind the hacks of the the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and have concluded that may have indirectly resulted in a Trump win.

Let me start by saying that I am not privy to the complete information in the hands of the intelligence community.  However, I am involved in computer security as a profession, and some of the claims I've been hearing about the "proof" are laughable.  Some of the "evidence" in their possession has been made public.  No doubt, more will be made public in due course to help shore up their conclusions.

Based on what has been released to the public, here's what can be said:

  1. The software used to "hack" the DNC was written by a hacker in the Ukraine (the Ukraine is *not* Russia).
  2. The software was written several years ago and is an old variant that has been circulating for years in the open market - i.e. you can go online and get this software yourself - it is *not* the product of a spy agency
  3. The IP addresses identified by the intelligence community as being the "attack points" are not Russian
  4. Claims that a Vermont power station was infected by this virus turned out to be untrue, and were reported as being untrue in a recent news release

As further "proof" that the Russians were involved, news reports today reported that the Russians were overheard "celebrating" Trump's victory.  Well, I imagine that people in Israel are also celebrating the victory.  Does that make them responsible for Clinton losing the election?

Let me be clear... since I don't have all the information available to the intelligence community, I cannot say with absolute certainty that Russia did *not* have anything to do with the hacking.  All I can say is that the evidence released thus far does not prove Russia's involvement.

Information for this post came from a series of articles on the WordFence blog.

Monday, December 26, 2016


Winning the battle and losing the war

I rarely watch football games.  And when I do, it's usually the disappointing Detroit Lions that have me perpetually hoping.

Yesterday, I caught the fourth quarter of the Ravens / Steelers game.  The Ravens needed a win to help their playoff chances.  The Steelers, with a win, would guarantee a playoff spot.

With just over a minute to play, the Ravens were trailing the Steelers by three points, had a third down with one yard to go on the Steeler's 10 yard line, and had the momentum required to tie or win the game.

I'm sure the Ravens' strategy was to burn as much of the clock as possible by getting that first down, and running down the clock to the point where they would either score the winning touchdown or at worst, score the tying field goal with no time left to play.

Instead, the Ravens got a "heroic" second and even third effort from Kyle Juszcyzk on that third down play, and somehow, he found his way to the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown.

With that touchdown, the Ravens handed Ben Roethlisberger the ball with 1:38 on the clock, and the rest, as they say, is history.

To be fair, Juszcyzk did what players are supposed to do.  Play hard, strive for the goal line, and put forth that extra effort.  But sometimes, players need to have a better situational awareness of the game, and sacrifice their own personal glory for the overall benefit of the team.  Had Juszcyzk gotten the first down and not scored on that play, odds are the Ravens would have eventually scored and won the game.  But, we'll never know for sure.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016


That's fast

Computers can work with very big numbers, and large computers (a.k.a. supercomputers) can do things the mind cannot comprehend.

I just took a look at the latest list of the world's fastest supercomputers.  The fastest is from China.  The second is also from China.  Third place goes to the United States.

What makes this list so fascinating is that the fastest is three times quicker than number two.  And number two is twice as fast as number three.  From that point, capabilities of individual computers relative to their nearest competitor is measured in a few percentage points.

So, just how fast is the fastest supercomputer?

Let's see if I can put it into perspective.  The speed of light is 186,000 miles per second!  There are 5,280 feet in a mile, so the speed of light is 982,080,000 feet per second.  Express that in inches, and the speed of light is 11,784,960,000 inches per second!  That's nearly 12 billion inches per second.

How fast is the fastest supercomputer?  Speeds of supercomputers are measured in the number of mathematical computations they can perform in a single second.

The fastest supercomputer is capable of performing  93,014,600,000,000,000 calculations per second.  I'm not sure how to pronounce that number, but it's over 93,000 trillion calculations per second.

That's fast.  Of course, there is no single computer that can run that fast.  Supercomputers are built by combining many individual computers into a cluster that shares computational duties among themselves.  The fastest supercomputer has a cluster of 10,649,600 individual computers working in unison.

Using computers of this speed, is it any wonder that some scientists believe computers can be programmed to mimic human behaviour, or break any password you might be able to come up with?

I wonder if any of the security analysts in the "western world" are concerned that China's fastest computer is six times faster than the "western world's" fastest computer?  Are you?

Tuesday, August 30, 2016


Is this what it feels like to have alzheimer's

Right this minute, as I write this post, I am suffering from memory loss.  Hopefully, it's fleeting.

One sentence into this post, I've already changed what I wanted to say, because the words to express what I'm really feeling elude me.  I was in the middle of reading an online news story on the Canadian Jewish News website about a Water-themed art exhibit in my home town.  The photo accompanying the story showed many members of the community - virtually all who are familiar to me.

And I couldn't remember a single person's name.  I have this memory trick for remembering names.  I close my eyes, and go through the entire alphabet, visualizing people's names as if they appeared in a Rolodex.  It never fails to work - if I don't remember someone's name (assuming I was familiar with them - not just a casual acquaintance) this method always works.

Indeed, it worked today as well.  But working your way through the alphabet is only useful if you're trying to remember one or two names.  This photo featured nearly 20 people, most of whom I should know, and the names just weren't popping into my head.

In the time it has taken me to get this far in the post, my memory has returned.  Even though I'm not looking at the photo, the images are now coming to me, including everyone's name.

That was scary.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016


Trumped up charges

Before I begin, let me confess I am a right-leaning Liberal.  What does that mean, exactly?  It means I agree with elements of both Liberal and Conservative political agendas.  I want a government that will not let me go wanting for the necessities of life (and I include government paid healthcare in that definition).  While I personally don't agree with a woman choosing to have an abortion, I do believe it's her right to decide that for herself.

I believe in the American's constitutional right to bear arms, but don't think that should include all classes of arms.

So, you get the idea.

When Donald Trump announced he was running as a Republican candidate, I chuckled.  Like so many others, I felt he didn't have the experience, grace and wisdom to be successful.  And like so many others, I was proven wrong.

After eight years of milktoast Democratic leadership, I wanted the Republicans to win the election.  And as I saw Trump defeating all other comers one-by-one, I hoped he would regain his sanity and unite the Republican party going foward toward the election.

You may remember, earlier in the primary season, when Trump declared he might run as an independent if he didn't win the Republican nomination.  And then he signed a pledge stating he would not run as an independent after all.  Despite winning the Republican nomination, it could be said that Trump has decided to run as an independent regardless.  How else do you explain his audacious behaviour and total lack of concern at the embarrassment he is causing within his own party?

We are at a point in history where the US needs a "crazy man" at the helm - much like the tough-talking Ronald Reagan who saved the US from the humiliation of the Carter presidency.  I just don't know if Donald Trump is too crazy for the role as commander in chief of the deadliest army on the planet.

Believe it or not, I still want Trump to win - that's just how disillusioned I am with the prospect of Hillary Clinton in the Whitehouse.  Still, although history is mostly against the probability of a democratic presidential hopeful succeeding a two-term democratic incumbent, having Donald Trump as the alternative tends to cancel that improbability.

This will certainly be the strangest and most entertaining election of my lifetime.  God help us all - no matter who wins!



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