Latest Posts

Jordan’s Christmas Wish List 2014

by Jordan Spencer Cunningham on

It wouldn’t be Christmastime without the annual Christmas Wish List. This year’s theme is a bit of 8-bit nostalgia. As always, this is done mostly for kicks and giggles. Below is an embedded PDF. To scroll through it, simply place your mouse somewhere over it and use your scroll wheel (or alternatively click and drag the scroll bar on the right side). Also, most of the list item descriptions are also links to a product page for that item, and they’re clickable. Go ahead. Try it.

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Q&A with Ray Tomlinson on Creeper “Virus”

by Jordan Spencer Cunningham on

In the course of writing a research paper on possible new methods to reduce and eradicate computer virus threats, I came across a bit of intriguing history whose available details did not satisfy my curiosity, and I needed to know more than what the internet had to offer. The event in question was the creation of Creeper, a piece of software created in 1971 by Bob Thomas that has since been commonly accepted as the world’s first computer virus. What Wikipedia and the rest of the internet will tell you is that Creeper was created to “infect” computers running the TENEX operating system on ARPAnet, the predecessor to the internet. It would cause the machine to print “I’M THE CREEPER. CATCH ME IF YOU CAN.” Then Ray Tomlinson created Reaper whose sole purpose was to seek out and remove Creeper from the machines it had “infected”– so all at once, the first virus (more accurately a worm, if that) and the first helpful worm were created.  However, I’m beginning to think journalistic sensationalism has turned Creeper into something it’s not, especially by today’s standards– that is, malware. Regardless, this was all still interesting.

Ray Tomlinson -- Creator of email and the Reaper "virus"I wanted to know more, though. Why was Creeper created in the first place? Did it cause problems? Was it an annoyance?  Should it really be considered the first virus? So I found contact information for Ray Tomlinson, asked him if I could ask a few questions about Creeper and Reaper, and he very kindly obliged. Below is an email Q&A session with Ray himself, and I think the details he reveals about this piece of history are very interesting and enlightening; they also cast it in an entirely different light. Also, Ray sent me a link before I asked him my questions that contained the best information I could thus far find online; this information helped me form some of these questions in a better way as it helped me realize that Creeper wasn’t a malevolent or even jovial practical joke as it is sometimes painted. The link he sent is available here.

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Cracking an Electronic Safe with a Raspberry Pi

by Jordan Spencer Cunningham on

I happened to lose the five-digit code for a SentrySafe (model KSW0510) that we had bought. Looking up the company’s website let me know that I could get the factory default combination from them again with a notarized form proving that I am who I say I am as well as $30. I knew of a couple of other things on which I could spend that $30, and I knew that the safe’s electronics were likely rather simple, so I opted to take the funner way out and use my programming and electronics prowess to crack the combination myself. This post outlines in good detail how I cracked the combination using a brute-force combination cracker I programmed in Python that interfaced with the safe using a Raspberry Pi. If you’re not very tech-savvy and just want to see the safe cracker in action, click here to skip ahead to the video of the finished product.

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Human Data Overload Part II: Fixing It

by Jordan Spencer Cunningham on

See part one explaining the problem here

Since the dawn of the modern office, the common man has increasingly had to deal with the stresses of too much information causing him what is known as information overload. According to a study performed at the beginning of the internet’s explosion, “information overload occurs when the amount of input to a system exceeds its processing capacity”. The processing capacity of mankind has been pushed to its limits in the years since that study, and now society is facing unprecedented problems with stress, unproductivity, laziness, and even unfaithfulness all due to the vast increase in the overload of data having to process through the average human brain.

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Human Data Overload Part I

by Jordan Spencer Cunningham on

The 21st-century world is perpetually flooded with more information and data than it can hold, and society is driven to consume as much of it as possible both in lieu of occupation and by choice. In the realm of technology, a computer can only process so much information at one time. Each device—from the simplest microwave to the most advanced supercomputer with dozens of nodes—has its limit of how much data can be pumped through its chips before it bottlenecks or even halts absolutely. So, too, the human psyche has its limits and will similarly degrade in productivity or even stall when confronted with too many stimuli and input. Its causes are various and widespread. It’s not just a personal problem; when an individual suffers, so does everything around him: his family, friends, work, social tendencies, and other devotions. With too many points of focus, no points will receive adequate attention.

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Phone Call Fit for a Dog

by Jordan Spencer Cunningham on

I recently filled out some junk online forms with fake information using the name Julie Doggie, who is a real person and just so happens to be my dog. I made the mistake of using my Google Voice number for this junk form. The other day I received a call from a number in my local area code. After picking up and giving a greeting, I heard a lady ask, “May I speak with Julie?”

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