Chaos from Order, Take 2

A while ago, I got very paranoid about my computer being bugged, and so developed a series of paper and pencil ciphers that I published on this blog. After letting them sit for a while, my favorites from the bunch are FibonaRNG, a stream cipher seeded from three words which has formed the basis for the Human encryption mode in PassLok, and Snake, which achieves something close to the absolute impregnability of the one time pad by using a simple piece of text. In this article, I go through additional calculations related to Snake, and find that this cipher appears to be even better than previously thought. Read More

I have been pwned!

Yesterday a friend came to me in a rather vehement state of frenzy because people were getting spam from his email account. A quick trip to haveibeenpwned confirmed that, indeed, his email address was listed in recently discovered breaches. Fortunately, his password had not been compromised so the damage was relatively minor. But when I checked my own “low security” password that I still use in a number of places, the test was positive. This means that a hacker could just waltz into those accounts and order ukuleles that I don’t want, or impersonate me in some forgotten forum that nevertheless still has followers (including the FBI), and get me into a heap of trouble. So I decided to change all of those passwords and get it over with. Read on if you’re curious as to what happened. The picture should give you a hint. Read More

PassLok Chat for All

For quite a while now PassLok Chat has been one of the ways you can set up a real-secure real-time online meeting. This was done through the Chat option in PassLok, which generated an encrypted link to PassLok Chat. But now you can also enjoy PassLok Chat without the encryption step. This little app will generate a new chat link every time you click its “Make Chat” button, without asking you for any  passwords or accounts of any kind. Share the link to enjoy free, unlimited, direct peer-to-peer conferencing without any accounts or servers in-between.

Here’s the link again: Read More is live!

VideoSkip, my video-editing app written during the COVID-19 lockdown, was in need of a nice domain for a while, especially now that it’s gaining some popularity. Because it is based on a not-for-profit community effort, I thought a .org domain was most appropriate. But, alas, was already taken, so I had to make it do with This is no longer necessary because the previous owner of, Jeremy Plsek, has been kind enough to transfer it to us at no cost, since he’s wasn’t using it. Here’s a big thanks to Jeremy, on the right, the first donor to the VideoSkip effort. And there’s more to it; read on if you want to know. Read More

Fastest way to learn the ukulele

If you have been following this blog, you certainly know that I’ve been kind of crazy about the ukulele for the last three years (though perhaps not as much as George Harrison, in the picture). Now, locked up at home because of the coronavirus pandemic and with more ukuleles within reach than cats in the home of a British spinster (no relation to George), I’ve finally sort of put it together, perhaps for your enjoyment and even moderate edification. The result is no less than what I believe to be the fastest route to learning to play an instrument at a mature age. It may come in handy for the many folks who, perhaps because they comb white hairs already, are in no hurry to leave their hiding holes and breathe the (arguably pathogen-laden) fresh air. Read More

How “high” is your ukulele?

Well-known fact: the standard-tuned ukulele is pitched higher than a guitar. In fact, one of the ways you can get a ukulele of sorts from a guitar is by putting a capo on the 5th fret (and avoiding strings 5 and 6). But did you know that there are other ukulele tunings, some of which are higher, while others are lower? In this article, I try to put some order in this mess, coming along the way with a number that might help you decide how to tune your ukulele. Read More