Happy Babbagemas Everyone!

Turns out that the day after Newtonmas is Babbagemas, the annual celebration of Charles Babbage’s birthday on 26th December 1791. As well as having something to do with computers he also had a good understanding of your common or garden politician and their scientific understanding:

On two occasions I have been asked, Γ’β‚¬β€œ “Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?” In one case a member of the Upper, and in the other a member of the Lower House put this question. I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question.

It is traditional (starting from now) to celebrate Babbagemas by blogging on the day.

Protect Your Family with the Kogan Portector!

If you’re worried about spam and scams coming through the Internet Portal (thanks to Stephen Conroy for pointing that threat out) then get yourself a Kogan Portector! Here’s their advert for it on YouTube..

Of course you must be sure to read the disclaimer..

DISCLAIMER: The Kogan “Portector” Internet Filter is not a real product. This product is in no way affiliated with Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, The Australian Labor Party, or the Australian Government. Incorrect use may result in uncensored Internet content, freedom of speech, freedom of choice, freedom of thought, and protection of your civil liberties.

Phew, thanks Kogan for saving us!

Awesome Nutterdom

If you had never been convinced that Steve Jackson Games knew about the forthcoming 9/11 tragedy in 1995 and decided to warn the world by embedding the information in their highly successful Illuminati: New World Order (INWO) card game (rather than issue a press release or something equally as boring) then read this absolutely fabulous page (warning: Geocities quality web design)!

Subtitle: In nine pertinent playing cards of the “Illuminati New World Order” Game, how did the inventor know — in 1995 — the three events comprising the 9/11 attacks? How did he know also the correct plan in the near future? Why do his cards predict the appearance of Antichrist and the Rapture as the last two events of the Illuminati Plan?

They argue that the real cause of the Secret Service raid on SJG in 1990 (5 years before INWO) was not over GURPS Cyberpunk and Phrack but instead to put them out of business before they could think about producing INWO! You have to read the whole thing, I still can’t work out if it’s a clever spoof or if the author really means it.. πŸ˜‰

Hat tip to Chris Borthwick for the tip off of another loony page on the same site that led me to this..

I can see the fnords!

Taxing Questions for Liechtenstein

I was listening to the BBC From Our Own Correspondent Podcast which had a great piece by John Sweeney about murky going ons in Liechtenstein. Part of it made me think that they’ve been going to the same school as Microsoft:

The next morning we heard that there was a banking seminar at the university on openness. This being Liechtenstein, the openness meeting was closed, at least to us.

John also has a wicked sense of humour..

Imagine my disappointment on discovering that Liechtenstein was, in fact, the most boring place on earth. I’m used to boredom – I work for the BBC, for heaven’s sake – but Liechtenstein was as dull as ditchwater, no duller. They bank behind closed doors. They create fuzzy trusts behind close doors. They make false teeth. And then they go to bed. The person who most looked like a ruthless killer was Howard, and he was the BBC producer.

Well worth a listen.. πŸ˜‰

Extreme Ironing

You’ve heard of lots of extreme sports by now and probably the Extreme Games, but you’ve probably not heard of Extreme Ironing..

The sport that is ‘extreme ironing’ is an outdoor activity that combines the danger and excitement of an ‘extreme’ sport with the satisfaction of a well pressed shirt. It involves taking an iron and board to remote locations and ironing a few items of laundry. Our Guinness World Record attempt will be for the most number of divers underwater ironing at the same time.

It’s being done to raise money for the UK’s lifeboat organisation (and registered charity) the RNLI and is on the 10th January 2009 at the UK National Diving & Activity Centre near Chepstow.

Book Meme

Seeing as everyone else on PLOA is doing it.. πŸ™‚


  • Grab the nearest book.
  • Open it to page 56.
  • Find the fifth sentence.
  • Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.
  • DonÒ€ℒt dig for your favorite book, the cool book, or the intellectual one: pick the CLOSEST.

So here’s mine:

This was spotted quickly, and a patch was shipped, but almost a hundred U.S. government systems in Germany were using unlicensed copies of the software and didn’t get the patch, with the result that hackers were able to get in and steal information, which they are rumoured to have sold to the KGB.

That’s from “Security Engineering: A Guide to Building Dependable Distributed Systems” (second edition) by Ross Anderson. I’m on page 76 of 891..

It’s the only book I have with me here for SC08 in Austin, Texas, so you can’t say I rigged it! πŸ™‚