John Nash’s Letter to the NSA


The National Security Agency (NSA) has recently declassified an amazing letter that John Nash sent to it in 1955.  It seems that around the year 1950 Nash tried to interest some US security organs (the NSA itself was only formally formed only in 1952) in an encryption machine of his design, but they did not seem to be interested.


All in all, the letter anticipates computational complexity theory by a decade and modern cryptography by two decades.  Not bad for someone whose “best known work is in game theory”.


Creepy Pregnancy Test

The NYT has a nice piece on how tracking your shopping habits allows marketing firms to determine if you are pregnant and how far along you are … even if you don’t know.

And there is a followup from Forbes.

Money Quote:

What Target discovered fairly quickly is that it creeped people out that the company knew about their pregnancies in advance.

“If we send someone a catalog and say, ‘Congratulations on your first child!’ and they’ve never told us they’re pregnant, that’s going to make some people uncomfortable,” Pole told me. “We are very conservative about compliance with all privacy laws. But even if you’re following the law, you can do things where people get queasy.” – NYT

– Forbes

Visualize Your Password Reuse

There is a nice Firefox add-on that lets you visualize your password reuse.

Green dots (nodes) are passwords, blue dots connected to them are all the websites you use this particular password on. If two passwords are similar but not the same they are connected by orange edges.

My password reuse visualized

My password reuse seems quite low except for the orange spot in the middle and the small cluster in the lower left. 🙂

Get rid of OS X ‘Quarantine Events’

So it seems OS X keeps track of all your downloads (even if you are using the Incognito/Private Browsing mode of your browser).

It stores the information in the following files:

  • ~/Library/Preferences/ on Lion
  • ~/Library/Preferences/ on Snow Leopard

They are SQLite databases and can be manipulated with the right tools.

So to delete all the contents you need to open the file for your version of OS X (Lion in my case).

sqlite ~/Library/Preferences/

In the SQLite console delete all entries in the one table it contains.

delete from LSQuarantineEvent where 1=1;

This statement works in either file, but if you have Lion you might as well get rid of the old file.

rm ~/Library/Preferences/

60% Within 30min … Respect

Sony takes the cake in insensitive and shameful actions:

As much criticism as record labels receive for how they treat artists, Sony Music might take the cake. The company pulled the ultimate in shameful activities this weekend by raising the price on Whitney Houston’s Ultimate Collection album on iTunes and Amazon within 30 minutes of her death on Saturday.