the wall between us all must fall

Nov 9th, 2009 Posted in computers, history, music | no comment »

…is a line from a 1993 Living Colour song, and a sentiment that was likely on the minds of many Germans when the Berlin Wall finally did fall, 20 years ago today.  The anniversary is being noted by newsoutletsall… over… theworld.  If you get a chance, check out the excellent movie The Lives of Others, which deals with the spying that the East German Stasi did on its own citizens prior to reunification.  Today, Germans can request to review any files that the Stasi compiled on them, which is no doubt a chilling experience.

And an interesting computer science problem, it turns out.  The Stasi made a hasty attempt to destroy many of their records through shredding and old-fashioned ripping paper up by hand.  Software is now being used to recreate the original documents from scanned images of the pieces.

Meanwhile, the fall of the wall and the demise of Communist governments across Eastern Europe inspired a lot of optimism in early 1990s music.  Classics include:


“Right Here, Right Now” by Jesus Jones


“Wind of Change” by the Scorpions


“Crazy” by Seal

Finally, as with all such significant historical events, people are still debating what the real outcome of it was.

the diabolical bench markie

Jul 15th, 2008 Posted in computers | no comment »

Over the years, I’ve taken to running the Ars Technica benchmark on nearly every machine I’ve gotten my hands on since around 2000 or so. While the applicability of this benchmark (or any benchmark, for that matter) to reality is questionable, it is interesting to see how a bunch of machines have fared on the same tests over the years. Here, for your entertainment, are the results.

freebsd encrypted disk images

Mar 19th, 2008 Posted in computers | no comment »

A few months ago a need arose to create an encrypted disk image on a FreeBSD system. While this is trivially done under Mac OS X (using Disk Utility to create an encrypted .dmg), the process for doing it under FreeBSD is a little more involved. Here are some notes that I wrote up on the process at the time. Please let me know if you come up with a better solution.