Telescopes are cool…

Contrary to appearances, I actually try to read blogs of people who are perhaps a bit different than me. I do this to help fight against the perception (mostly my own) that I’m a monochromatic personality, interested only in a few geeky topics. Lisa Williams is such a blogger, who writes about a number of subjects which are near to my heart even if I lack the skill to write meaningfully or interestingly about them myself. Nonetheless, tonight I read that she managed to sneak a peek at M13 through a beautiful telescope at Wellesley. I was lucky enough to participate in the restoration of a large historic telescope here in Oakland, a 20″ Brashear refractor. It is now housed at the Chabot Science Center and is available for public viewing on weekends. Drop in and have a peek if you are ever in the area.

Addendum: the image on the right is a recent picture of this telescope in operation at Chabot. I’ll try to upload some more of my pictures to this gallery over the next few days.

The Basics Work…

Enigma, on the Atari 2600

Well, a couple more hours of debugging has made the basics of my Atari 2600 project work. Have I mentioned what it is yet? No? Well, it’s an implementation of the German World War II three rotor crypto machine commonly known as the Enigma. I wrote a simulator of the machine in C a few years ago as part of my attempt to crack the ciphers in Simon Singh’s Crypto Challenge as part of his book The Code Book. As of today, there still is some work to be done, but my 2600 version works, deciphering messages that are encoded with my C implementation.

How to tell if you’re a racist…

Some stories just make you shake your head.

“I’m not racist or anything,” he said. “It’s just, some people I hate, some people I don’t get along with. And black people just happen to be the ones because they think they’re better than everyone else.”

How can you tell if you’re a racist? If you have to explain to others why you’re not a racist, you probably are one.