All posts by cryptosmith

Writer, educator, and consultant in cybersecurity; author of three books.

100 years of my childhood neighborhood

neighborhood

My neighborhood went through dramatic changes while I grew up. I was 10 miles from Washington, DC. Changes are even more dramatic since I left, about 40 years ago.

I went to the US Geological Survey and collected every map I could find of my neighborhood from 1890 through 1994. I lined them all up and made it into a video. It could be better, but it’s interesting.

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Gorgeous turn of century color

This Baroque fairyland is Berlin circa 1900. The Publisher Taschen has published 2 coffee table books of Photochrom images. These are black and white photos that were colored in for reproduction. The results are gorgeous.

The books list prices are around $150 each. I was still tempted till I visited my friends at the Library of Congress who have a lovely collection, too. Free. Online.

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Mushrooms and Thermostats

Ecobee 3I’m installing Ecobee 3 thermostats. I really like the one at our lake house (1990s heating plant) so I started installing them in our regular home (1900s heating plant).

Things did not go smoothly. I’m mixing late 20th century and early 20th century electrical technology. The simple job became complicated. This is called the mushroom factor  in some old-house maintenance communities: surprises in the infrastructure can make a normally easy task mushroom into a major project.

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Kohl’s doesn’t really do Apple Pay after all, I suppose

Kohl's doesn't read customer service queries[Update: Kohl’s has distributed new credit cards that actually work with Apple Pay]. Kohl’s and Apple have been merrily posting all sorts of stuff about how Apple Pay now works with Kohl’s charge card.

In my own experience, this celebration is premature.

I attach my interchange with Kohl’s “secure communications” to their credit card group. This is also consistent with a telephone conversation I had with one of their customer support people: nobody at Kohl’s knows anything about Apple Pay support.  

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“Happy Birthday” Freed! Next should be Mickey Mouse

Original melodyYesterday, a federal judge summarily ruled that the infamous song, “Happy Birthday To You” is not copyrighted. Time-Warner bought the company that bought the company that bought the company that bought some rights to the song in the ’30s. The paperwork was vague, so the lawyers interpreted it to make lots of money for the alleged copyright holder.

The royalties currently add up to about $2 million a year. The plaintiffs in the copyright case are starting a class action suit to recover some of the royalties that Time Warner and its predecessors collected improperly.

The point of copyright and patents is to encourage people to create things. The copyright gives a legal monopoly over the work for some number of years. Modern patents last about 20 years. Copyrights used to last 28 years. Now they last 70 years past the death of the author. Clearly this has nothing to do with paying authors. It has everything to do with selling a DVD containing black-and-white Disney cartoons.

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Vintage Selfie, 1970

Vintage Selfie, 1970I’m reposting this photo because someone asked to reuse it. It is also posted on Flickr. I provided it to someone for an article about selfies a while back. I’ve posted it to Facebook, but my other online copy disappeared when I moved my online photos to Flickr.

Creative Commons License
Vintage selfie, 1970 by Rick Smith, Cryptosmith is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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Major Honey Heist in Hastings (A Parody)

POLICE REPORT: Despite active efforts by busy teams of workers, three hives were looted of honey yesterday afternoon. This is a sad closing to a busy summer of honey making. Large, ungainly creatures dressed in white and wearing funny hats removed numerous combs of honey. One worker hid herself in a creature’s clothes and took revenge, but this did not halt the crime.

Observers estimate that half of each hive’s honey may have been taken. Meanwhile, no statement has been issued by the queens or drones of the affected hives.

The scene of the crime

PHOTO: The scene of the crime. The large, empty box bears silent testimony to the cold-blooded theft of many large combs. Note the red wagon used in the getaway.

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