Ditching simple passwords isn’t all that simple

Wednesday, 23 July, 2014

The use of simple, or weak, passwords isn’t so bad, nor for that matter is using the same password on multiple websites. Only in certain circumstances though, for instance where the web service you are using is deemed to be “low risk”, say a group of Microsoft researchers.

Email and bank or finance applications are obviously examples of high risk websites that require complex pass codes, but it might be – and who knows – that the password for your tennis club’s online discussion forum isn’t.

While the use of strong, or complex, passwords is encouraged, there’s a limit to how many we can remember though, and forgetting, and then having to reset, too many of these codes can soon become more trouble than they are worth.

The trio argue that password reuse on low risk websites is necessary in order for users to be able to remember unique and high entropy codes chosen for important sites. Users should therefore slap the same simple passwords across free websites that don’t hold important information and save the tough and unique ones for banking websites and other repositories of high-value information. “The rapid decline of [password complexity as recall difficulty] increases suggests that, far from being unallowable, password re-use is a necessary and sensible tool in managing a portfolio,” the trio wrote.

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Being depressed… how does it actually feel though?

Wednesday, 23 July, 2014

A number of London based depression patients discuss their day to day experiences of the disorder… it’s one thing to understand the symptoms of depression, but another to know how it must actually feel.

Depression for me is not liking yourself, having no confidence in yourself, seeking reassurance, hanging onto anything that you can, pretty much anything emotionally, get your hands on. Lacking courage.

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Charlie’s Country

Tuesday, 22 July, 2014

3 and a half stars
Charlie's Country scene

Charlie (David Gulpilil), an Indigenous Australian living in Arnhem Land, is in a bind. His overly dependent family relies on his pension money, and his house, leaving Charlie to live in a makeshift shed. Government regulations meanwhile prohibit him from owning a hunting rifle, something that makes living off the land difficult.

Determined however to embrace a traditional lifestyle, Charlie sets up camp deep in the bush, and for a time is content. After illness strikes though, he is sent to a hospital in Darwin. He soon discharges himself and connects with the city’s Aboriginal community, but it is an association that quickly leads to strife with local police.

Charlie’s Country, trailer, the third collaboration between Gulpilil and Australian director Rolf de Heer (“Bad Boy Bubby”, “Dingo”), in taking a subtle, almost tableau like, approach to the points it is making, often goes wide of the mark. This is still compelling viewing though, on account of Gulpilil’s brooding, dignified, performance.

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Pluto, what we know now is not what we’ll know in twelve months

Tuesday, 22 July, 2014

NASA’s New Horizons space probe is now only one year out from its scheduled encounter with former planet Pluto, in the outer reaches of the solar system.

While astronomers have gleaned much information about the distant dwarf planet from Earth based telescopes, it is likely a fair bit of what we know, or think we know, will be turned on its head as New Horizons draws closer. In fact, far from coming up with answers, the abundance of new data brought forth will likely only pose even more questions.

New Horizon’s Pluto visit will transform the science of this small body in a matter of weeks, and it will likely take a long time before all of the data it provides will be unpacked. The only thing that would truly surprise the science team at this point would be if they find no surprises on Pluto, said Stern. It’s a safe bet to assume the probe probably won’t be definitively answering scientific questions so much as raising interesting new problems and providing researchers with many decades of mysteries.

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Photography inspired by nightmares, but nothing to lose sleep over

Tuesday, 22 July, 2014

Disturbing. Unsettling. The stuff of nightmares. This collection of works by US photographer Arthur Tress, based on the bad dreams of children, is a combination of all three.

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Hot bananas, the universe is an incredible place

Tuesday, 22 July, 2014

If the Sun were made of bananas it would be just as hot as it is presently. Seems incredible, but it’s apparently the case. Then again though, there is little that is matter of fact about the universe, when you think about it.

If the Sun were made of bananas, it would be just as hot. The Sun is hot because its enormous weight – about a billion billion billion tons – creates vast gravity, putting its core under colossal pressure. Just as a bicycle pump gets warm when you pump it, the pressure increases the temperature. Enormous pressure leads to enormous temperature. If, instead of hydrogen, you got a billion billion billion tons of bananas and hung it in space, it would create just as much pressure, and therefore just as high a temperature. So it would make very little difference to the heat whether you made the Sun out of hydrogen, or bananas, or patio furniture.

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Filming the aerobatic maneuvers of the USAF Thunderbirds

Monday, 21 July, 2014

Sergeant Larry Reid Jr is a photojournalist tasked with recording the aerobatic maneuvers of the USAF Thunderbirds air demonstration squadron. It’s not a job for any photographer though considering you’re moving at speeds of 800 kilometres an hour, at altitude, and your subjects may only be but a mere metre away.

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Here’s one way to get to know New York City… follow its taxis

Monday, 21 July, 2014

A Day in the Life, by US developer and data junkie Chris Whong, is a nifty visualisation that tracks the movements of a New York City taxi cab over a twenty-four hour period. I don’t know the city all that well, in fact I’ve never been there, but watching this taxi wend its way around the city was still fascinating.

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An author’s salary… going up, or going down, what do you think?

Monday, 21 July, 2014

The median income of British authors last year was £11,000. That’s about $20,000 in Australian currency. The two main points. One, and this is no surprise, that’s not enough to live, and two, the figure is down by almost a third since a similar survey of writers was conducted in 2005.

As shown by a survey last week of almost 2,500 professional writers, there are no cushy careers in fiction now. Figures from the Author’s Licensing and Collecting Society show the median income of a working author last year was only £11,000, lower than the amount needed to live on, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, and down 29% since the last survey in 2005. It is more telling still that in literary quarters the surprise was that the figure was so high. Many writers privately admit they earn half that in a year, although this discrepancy could be because the survey offers a typical income rather than a mean average.

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The camera never lies, but what when they see… optical illusions?

Monday, 21 July, 2014

The camera never lies, or so we are told. Still, you may not be quite sure what to make of the images captured by Berlin based photographer Erik Johansson’s camera.

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