The Compiler crew will be taking the rest of the week off, resuming our regular coverage on Monday November 26.
How are we spending our holidays, you ask? Scott’s busy scouting locations in the Smoky Mountains for an epic machinima Civil War drama starring the voice talents of Judd Nelson and Leonard Nimoy. I (Mike) will stay at home — I’m trying to figure out how to get ZFS running on my first-gen iPod shuffle. If that doesn’t work, I’ll probably just put some Les Rallizes Denudes on it and walk around San Francisco instead.
Feel free to send us tips over the weekend in case we get the urge to blog. Otherwise, be excellent to each other and we’ll see you next week.
Photo of "the dirty bird" by Brave Heart via Flickr
The fate of the world may not hang in the balance this time, but a team of engineers have resurrected Bletchley Park’s famous Colossus computer, the World War II code breaking machine widely recognized as one of the first programmable digital computers. It took fourteen years to reconstruct a Colossus since the machines were meticulously broken apart and destroyed after the war.
A new contest, The Cipher Challenge, will pit the rebuilt Colossus’ code breaking skills against modern machines running Colossus emulators. The contest is part of fund-raising drive for the British National Museum of Computing.
Perhaps the most interesting thing in this BBC article is that Tony Sale, leader of the Colossus rebuilding project, says that “a virtual Colossus written to run on a Pentium 2 laptop takes about the same time to break a cipher as Colossus does.”
Gadget Lab posted this morning on a recently discovered anti-caps lock feature on new Mac keyboards. Essentially the new keyboards make it easy to avoid accidentally triggering the caps lock key by forcing a time delay on the keystroke.
That’s a great feature, given our long-standing dislike of the caps lock key, but since the caps lock key is essentially useless — comment trolls and some programming languages not withstanding — why not just remap the key to something more useful?
If you’ve got a Mac and you’d like to re-map the caps lock key to something more useful — say crtl or cmd — check out the freeware utility Double Command, which allows you to re-map all sort of keys into more useful functions.
Long URLs are a pain, which is my the many URL shortening services cropped up a few years back, but what if you want a short URL and you want to keep prying eyes out of your bookmarks? That’s the scenario behind Hidelinks, a new service that offers a shortened URL and the option to lock it with a password.
The service is dead simple to use, just head to the site and paste in the URL you want shortened. Then enter a password and it hit the “Shorten Link” button. Hidelinks will spit out a shortened link which you can copy to the clipboard or bookmark in your browser.
When someone tries to access the URL using the link, they’ll be asked for the password before they are permitted to see the page. For instance, here’s a link to Compiler generated with Hidelinks (the password is “wired”).
The New York Times announced yesterday that it is opening up the premium Times Select portion of the site to the general public. First launched in 2005, Times Select followed the standard, outdated approach to putting print news on the web — it charged viewers a subscription fee.
Apparently someone over at the Times has finally realized what the rest of the internet had figured out long before Times Select first launched: thars money in them thar ads. Not that Times will admit it was wrong, a spokesperson tells PaidContent.org “This is what is really important — it did work. It’s just a matter of as compared to what.”
In other words, Times Select was so successful they changed the entire business model.