Archive for November, 2013

Many years ago, I was intrigued by an instrument on TV that was unlike any I had ever seen. You didn’t even have to touch it to make music! Later I learned about Leon Theremin and his 1928 invention, the ‘ætherphone‘ aka. ‘theremin‘. Here in Belgium the best known application of the theremin is probably the soundtrack of the detective series “The Midsummer Murders“.

Image:Francis Dzikowski/Esto

Image: Francis Dzikowski/Esto

Anyway, this article on the Wired website shows “12 Amazing Theremins That Look Like Chummy Robots“. Clearly, these are not just instruments but beautiful objects and a joy to look at. I have never tried playing a theremin, but these intriguing works of art make me think about buying one ;-)

If you haven’t seen what it’s like to play the theremin, check out this video to hear and see the theremin at work: “Celia Sheen plays Midsomer Murders on Theremin“.


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Jathan Sadowski notes:

There’s no shortage of articles and how-to guides tips for securing privacy, with headlines promising “Five ways to stop the NSA from spying on you.”

But the means mentioned in such articles are not always (or even far from) easy for the non-initiated in cybersecurity, nor accessible to all. Thus “Stop Thinking That Tech Hacks Will Fix Our Surveillance Problems” concludes:

The task of defending privacy from surveillance should be taken up by all citizens, together.

I hope everyone understands that this will take more than the ‘correct’ vote in the next election!

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From the Afghan Box Camera Project website:

Afghanistan is one of the last places on earth where photographers used a simple type of instant camera called the kamra-e-faoree for means of making a living. The hand-made wooden camera is both camera and darkroom in one and generations of Afghans have had their portraits taken with it, usually for identity photographs. At one stage it was even outlawed when former rulers of Afghanistan, the Taliban, banned photography, forcing photographers to hide or destroy their tools.

The aim of the Afghan Box Camera Project is to provide a record of the kamra-e-faoree.

Kabul, 2002 - (c) Jean-Marie Jud

Kabul, 2002 – (c) Jean-Marie Jud

Although it may seem like a whimsical subject, the website is sufficiently rich to illustrate many parts of Afghanistan’s economical, political and cultural history of the last century. I like that approach a lot, and I have already been exploring the site – both the pictures and the text help to (re-)construct a part of the Afghan reality that is fading away.

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Here’s a Kickstarter project based on the Raspberry Pi: “Kano“.

Kano: A computer anyone can make

Kano: A computer anyone can make

A computer and coding kit for all ages, all over the world. Simple as Lego, powered by Pi. Make games, learn code, create the future.

If you have youngsters about that want to learn about computers, programming and/or electronics, this could be an excellent investment. And at the same time, you may be helping others with less opportunities to do the same.

In the mean time, Raspberry has already produced and sold more than 2 million Pi’s – an impressive number altogether.

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If you care about your online privacy, then you have to know a little bit about cryptography. You’ve probably heard about RSA and AES – or at least you should have seen these abbreviations show up on your screen when dealing with SSL. But:

…RSA is not the ideal system for the future of cryptography. In an ideal trapdoor function, the easy way and the hard way get harder at the same rate with respect to the size of the numbers in question. So we need a public key system based on a better trapdoor.


Here’s “A (relatively easy to understand) primer on elliptic curve cryptography“, which explains why elliptic curves may be a much better solution.

Sidenote: “relatively easy to understand“, yes indeed – if you’re a math student. Anyhow, you will need to schedule a serious reading session to get to grips with this subject!

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In his blog post “Access journalism taken to its limit” Dave writes:

It’s only natural as our economies integrate, so do our political systems. This evening-out is probably the larger force behind the move of the US to become a surveillance state. If our trading partners do it, the incentive is there for us to.


I’m not sure those statements can be proven correct by historians and/or sociologists. But what is certain, is this: there is no such thing as “national moral integrity“.

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Ars Technica writes: “Smart TV from LG phones home with user’s viewing habits, USB file names“. Quote: “It sounds like the premise of a Philip K. Dick story, but it’s not. A blogger has offered evidence that his Internet-connected television has been transmitting detailed information about his family’s viewing habits, including the times and channels they watch and even the names of computer video files stored on connected USB drives“.

(c) Andrea Roberts

(c) Andrea Roberts

If you thought that only governments would be spying on you, think again – go read some more Philip K. Dick stories. And do your thinking before you buy a new TV – or learn how to reconfigure your router ;-)

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