Thursday, May 29, 2014

How to get your credit card info stolen

There was an article in the Bergen Record about a police chief who had his credit card info stolen. He said,
“I still can’t believe how easy this way for her,” Russo said. “I’m almost intrigued by this. I want to know how she did this. I’m dying to have these questions answered.”
While I don't know how that particular crook did it, this is the picture they included:
Let's see that up close:
Maybe the next crook will just read the paper!

While he was "clever" enough to cover up the last two digits of the card, only 10 possible combinations satisfy the credit card checksum. Of those, only three (do the calculation yourself!) have rounded top-left corners in the first of the last two digits. This guy's a prime candidate for the @NeedADebitCard Twitter feed.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

More microscope pictures

So I covered my freshly cooked rice with some plastic wrap and this grew!

Checkout the right eye of this bug which is in focus, you can see the compound eye.

And this is a lunometer (a bit of foreshadowing about a blog post in the distant future)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Adventures Buying Facebook Likes

I'm starting a community of people fighting injustice and promoting ethical treatment of UUIDs ... or so it says on the Facebook page. Actually that's pretty much all its says on the page which you can see here. The website links to (as of this post).

I really wanted to buy some likes for my new page but apparently Facebook frowns upon this – so instead I spent a couple bucks on real Facebook ads with the expressed goal of garnering likes. It turns out they are pretty cheap and really effective at getting "likes"

I'll let it slide that they rounded down pretty heavily here to get the "$0.01 per like" measure breaking every engineering principle that would have rounded 0.019 to $0.02

Anyway, at the point of this posting, the page less than a week old already has 839 likes – that is more than double the Facebook page for my bicycle horn project which has been up for more than a year.

The only post on the page says "the twitter page is up!" (see below) ... and following the link to twitter reveals a single tweet "the Facebook page is up!" (as of this post)

A large proportion of these likes come from dubious profiles of people who've likes thousands and thousands of things. This profile (NSFW) had 17 friends but liked a total of 1756 things. Other profile photos looked suspiciously like celebrities. So far there is only one legitimate comment on the CAUSE Communities Facebook page – a particularly redundant "I LIKE IT"

In any case I highly doubt these 800+ people are as concerned about the abuse of UUIDs as I am. Why are they liking the page? For more on why Facebook ads will be bad for your business see the Veritasium videos here and here.

Anyway, this UUID adventure is just beginning...

The amazing picture is by Moyan Brenn on,

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Lag BaOmer In Southern California

This past week I was at Camp Pendleton at the ExFOB event (Here are some videos the Marine Corps posted from the event, I will post more in the future as they do.  Hopefully some will have me in them).  Camp Pendleton is in northern San Diego County, and as you may have heard there are some fires.  So to start you off I will show you some pictures of ground squirrels in the middle of the field where the event was held.

I will follow this up with pictures of MV-22 Ospreys I saw flying at Camp Pendleton.

Friday morning I woke up with my rental car covered in ash, and while driving home after the event I noticed that it was 110 degrees outside.

Now that I have spent all this time building up to it I will show you why no one will be lighting bonfires for Log BaOmer in my area.

 This fire was about six kilometers from where I was, and there where a few times that I saw flames.

 The ash and smoke from these fires made it all the way to Los Angeles (about 100 miles away) where there are air quality warning in places.
This is the results of a small fire that occurred on the side of I-5 after a vehicle collision last Wednesday, that closed I-5 northbound.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Spoiled food is good for you


  1. I'm not a doctor, just a hungry googler turned pontificator (experts please comment)
  2. When I say "good for you" I don't mean that spoiled food is better than non-spoiled food, rather its good for you in an energy and nutrient giving life-sustaining way just like fresh food.

Photo credit: Ian Macca

I recently read this article about spoiled food basically saying that – excluding meat or seafood* – the bacteria that are eating your meal before you get to it are not harmful. So if you find some food past the expiration date - or in my case if you leave a relatively dry perishable item out of the fridge for several weeks ... cook it an eat it!

This may seem gross at first, but consider these rotten food items you might enjoy

  • Wine  spoiled grape-juice
  • Spoiled milk → cream, yogurt, cheese... + mold = artisan cheese
  • Sauerkraut  spoiled cabbage
  • Beer  spoiled grain soup (mmmm grain soup)
  • ... (add a comment)
Spoiled strawberries and blueberries? Terrifically delectable! You may have even eaten some pretending they were normal, or not noticing until the delicious explosion.

Basically the point of this post is to say that Eli should have drank that tropicana orange juice a couple weeks ago.

*another special case to watch out for is very anaerobic places where botulism toxin might be produced

Monday, May 05, 2014

Incomprehensible detour map

A street near me was closed for a few days not too long ago. In preparation the city sent us an amazingly detailed map... which didn't actually show which street was closed.

One of my pet peeves about it is that there is no compass bearing to let you know that north is approximately to the left. In fact there isn't even a legend to let you know what all the different lines and arrows mean.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

I am still here

Long time blog readers may recall that 6 years ago I was on Google Street View. Since then, they collected new imagery and my place in history was lost. Well, thanks to a new Google Maps feature, I'm back!
View On Google Maps