How to get your users to install JCE

Friday 2015-09-04

220px-Lorenz-SZ42-2In every Java project where I need to do strong cryptography, I run into these dreaded unreadable stacktraces which send you into the woods. After a long search I usually discover that the Unlimited Strength Java Cryptography Extensions are not installed. To prevent frustration of users of your software, you can simply add a bit of informative logging to help him/her solve it when the solution is known.

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Ashley Madison in perspective

Monday 2015-08-24

lady justiceHowever I disagree with sites like Ashley Madison and the way its owners scam people, last week I have noticed something far more disturbing. As I understand, Ashley Madison was charging people for their profiles to be deleted, and then did not (promptly) delete them. I guess some of it’s “hackers” got caught up in this and decided to attack Ashley Madison for that. Up to this point, merely a quarrel between two parties which may have better been solved by legal procedure.

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Hand me a napkin

Saturday 2014-08-16

wheelchair jokeIt’s not until you or someone very close to you becomes dependant on a wheelchair until you notice that the world is not as wheelchair friendly as you might think. Hotel rooms are wheelchair accessable, but the lobby can only be reached by stairs. People with kids can take strollers all the way up to the airplane seat, but people in wheelchairs need to magically heal themselves and leave the wheelchair at the gate.

But this is not a rant about inconsiderate travel company employees. This is about helping people with “a challenge”, as our funny American neighbours tend to call it. And no, this is also not a rant about helping in a big way, raising a million for a cause, getting all the local supermarkets to give away groceries to people in wheelchairs, or TV shows selling tear-jerking advertisement minutes while building a house for a familiy who really needs it.

No, this is about the little things. Things that make you and me different. Things that require only a little twitch of a muscle for healthy people. Quirky things like aligning the napkin to the edge of the table, or petting a cat, or getting a different color straw because it doesn’t match the color of your shirt.

Imagine you had to ask somebody to align your napkin to the edge of the table. That person would find you demanding, and because he doesn’t see what’s solved by doing that, it’s very likely that the napkin will never move. Soon, you will stop asking people to do the little things that used to make you who you were.

It’s a tough choice. Loose friends because they think you’re too much of a demanding prinsess, or loose friends because you stop being you.

When you see or know somebody in a wheelchair, remember that their mind still wants to do those quirky things that make them who they are. It’s okay to say no, but please consider this little blogpost when somebody asks you to straighten their bracelet or clean their glasses.

The world does not need one-time big-mouthed Facebook-selfie heroes. The world needs polite people who can discretely hand over a napkin without asking what’s it for.

How big is 5 Zettabyte?

Sunday 2013-06-23

Spy vs SpySince the interview of Edward Snowden with the Guardian, the discussion about privacy and companies storing and sharing unencrypted private data is picking up. Particularly Americans are worried about what it does for their National security and their private data. But that’s actually a naive thought, given the NSA stores worldwide data.

In a recent coverage on (a rather tabloid-looking news station in the U.S.), the interviewers are shocked to see that the NSA spies on “every American”.

This is a limited view of the world and failing to see the importance of spying on people outside the U.S., but lets start with technical side of things first. What data are they storing and how big is their hard-disk?

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Morse Code is not dead (yet)

Tuesday 2013-04-09

International_amateur_radio_symbolNot everybody understands why I am trying to learn morse code on Maybe I’m not even sure myself. But most people seem to think morse code is absolutely dead. I could tell you that’s not the case, but it is far better to find out for yourself. To be able to do that you need access to a radio which can receive CW (continuous wave) signals somewhere between 8MHz and 15MHz. This is the place where HAM Radio Operators hang out and try to talk to eachother. Morse code is still used there, mainly for DX-ing.

So how do you do that? With the power of the internet and a few very enthusiastic people in Dwingeloo, you can now receive radio signals right on your computer using radios all over the world. Lots of links in this article, have fun!

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The world is not a Green Field

Sunday 2012-12-02

The real world

Devoxx 2012 was nice. 3400 nerds invading Antwerp to talk about new frameworks, languages, and geek out over a set of RaspberryPi‘s. But it also confirmed a new “pet peeve” this grumpy old architect is developing.

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Mortgage Awareness

Sunday 2012-04-01

This weekend I tinkered around with Apple Keynote. I thought I’d make something useful. In this video I’m trying to show you how much money the bank makes on your mortgage. Banks like you to pay a low monthly fee on your mortgage because it keeps the loan higher for a longer period of time. This way the bank can cash in on the interest rate, and then cash in again at the end of the mortgage contract, when you are still hopelessly in debt.

“Financial advisors” working for the bank will throw sand in your eyes, saying that keeping your debt high gives you all kinds of tax breaks. But in the end, it’s them who get better of that construction, not you. Don’t fall into this trap. Understand your mortgage contract, learn how the model works, and check your model against the bank’s model (without that financial advisor or the lady at the helpdesk talking to you). You have more room than you think. Use it.