Custodes Strong Encryption Technology

Something that has been brewing for a while is the Custodes (Yes thats another non-SAP project of mine) Encryption Technology. I’m of the opinion that it’s unbreakable. So I’m issuing a challenge to all the crypto-heads out there. I’ll even tell you that it is a rapidly changing OTP with shortcut libraries. If you can de-crypt it you can have 100% share in the company – you will own Custodes! Good luck – you’ll need it.  Sorry you only have until the 25th March 2013.

computer5

OK so here you go:

%AECHWALZCCL%2B"}:?3:27?9573:6A:X5(>

Have fun – but don’t get too obsessed with it. Like I said – it’s unbreakable and no – it’s not nonsense, it’s a valid message.

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Oscar Pistorius is Guilty, but of what?

That’s right. Oscar Pistorius is guilty of killing Reeva Steenkamp. There can be no dispute on this point. He fired at her and killed her. Whether it was an “accident” (There are no accidents when shooting someone, only negligence) or whether this was a jealous rage – well that’s for the courts to decide.

Frankly – and if he passed his firearm competency he would be aware of this – shooting when you have no idea what the target is or where it might be, is criminal. Literally criminal, not figuratively. In my not-so humble opinion people should be jailed for this.

The law states CLEARLY that you may only fire your weapon to protect your life or the life of someone you are protecting and there must be an attack IN PROGRESS where you fear that you may be killed. There is something called the “reasonable man” test. Would a reasonable man shoot through a closed and locked door in order to protect himself?

Obviously none of those conditions were satisfied in the shooting so I believe (my opinion only – I’m not a lawyer) the very lowest charge – by his own admission – should be culpable homicide. He needs to go to prison and hopefully this will send a message to equally cavalier gun owners that we don’t need them in our community. We need safe, mature and responsible gun owners not idiots like Pistorius. And I’m probably being kind here. Let’s hope he is just an idiot and not a calculating cold blooded murderer.

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Why animals must fear humans

2013 is here and since I’m wearing my sustainability hat today I thought I would share some important conservation thinking . The most important point that needs to be made is that ALL wild animals are dangerous. There are many documented incidents of “Bambi” attacking people for various reasons.

Beware deer attacks

So here’s the thing. You may think that the monkeys that play on your lawn (We have a lot of that here in KZN, South Africa) are desperately cute. You then think that you should help them by leaving fruit out for them and one day even feeding them by hand. What a thrill! It’s a very human trait to want to care for animals so don’t feel too bad about it. We also have a terribly bad habit of wanting to give animals “human” characteristics or anthropomorphising. It’s all well and good, but it could get your pets, your children and even you badly injured or killed.

Aggressive Vervet

This happens because of the old truism “Familiarity breeds contempt”. The animals lose their instinctive fear of humans. This almost always ends in a disaster and usually means that a wildlife control officer must destroy the entire troop.

Don’t try to “tame” wild animals, don’t feed them and do not ever try to befriend them. They are not your friends. They are not your pets (who have been domesticated over thousands of years) and they are not human, they don’t have human morals or restraints and if your 4 year old stands between them and food, they will not worry about killing your 4 year old.

So please folks if you really love wild animals then we must allow them to retain their natural fear of humans. For their own sake.

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What are Assault Weapons?

Well it looks like El Presidente in the USA would (if he is re-elected) like to re-instate the Clinton “Assault Weapons” ban. A lot of news people and people without a good knowledge of guns nod vigorously when the topic is brought up. After all no-one wants people wandering the streets with “machine guns” threatening the lives of the terminally unprotected!

Well know there are two points that beg to be made here. Firstly there is no coherent meaningful definition of an assault weapon. If, for example, you would like to say that it is the same weapon that the military uses – you’ll probably be a little surprised to find out that they are already strictly controlled and you would need special permission to own one. This has been the case since the 1930’s in the United States. Simply put – a military weapon is capable of full automatic fire. That is – I pull the trigger once and as long as I keep my finger on the trigger, the weapon keeps firing – sometimes at a very high rate of fire. You may not own a fully automatic (machine gun) in any State in the United States and in most countries throughout the world – unless you have special permission.

So this is where I get confused – what is Obama trying to ban? “Assault Weapons” by this reasonable definition are already controlled (in effect banned).

Is he perhaps trying to ban Military looking rifles? In this category we have semi-auto AR15s and AK47s. Functionally however, we also have the Ruger 10/22, any auto loading shotgun and automatic pistol which are the same as these rifles.

So is he trying to ban the look of a rifle? Is it scary looking? If I put a tripod onto my highly accurate 30-06 Howa Hogue hunting rifle, it will look a little like an M24!  God forbid I put a suppressor on the end of the barrel (perfectly legal in South Africa) to save my ears and to try to be environmentally responsible.

But here’s another take – maybe these AK47 rifles are just too powerful- after all I’ve been told they can “blow a deer apart” .  Um well..no. An AK47 (7.62×39) round is considered quite moderate  for hunting and while it will take a deer at 100 meters – I wouldn’t take it much beyond that.

I own a Marlin 336c chambered in 30-30. I can cycle through all 6 rounds in a few seconds and each one is more powerful than an AK47 round. If I start talking my 30-06 or a 300 Winchester Magnum they are incrementally more powerful than any current infantry assault weapon. These are ordinary hunting rifles.

The “terrifying” AK47

 

 

 

 

 

 

The good old “Cowboy” rifle in 30-30

 

 

 

So to sum up, this sounds a lot like political smoke blowing. Or a step towards more gun control which Obama has openly admitted to being his ultimate aim.

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Grand Power K100 Mk 7 Review

I’ve just come back from one of my favorite gun stores, Ihawu in New Germany (just outside of Durban). We were invited to try the new range of Grand Power polymer pistols chambered in 9mmx19. These are branded as the STI GP6 in the US, but there is no difference apart from the branding.
Grand power k100

They come nicely packaged in a plastic box with 2 magazines as you can see in the photos. I suppose the first thing I would do is get a decent box, since a $400 watch can come in a decent wooden or aluminium box, I’m always disappointed in gun packaging these days.

Predictably the place was crawling with our friends from law enforcement (SAPS, Road Traffic Inspectorate and Metro) and they were all very complimentary of the Grand Power and compared them favorably to their Glocks. The big difference is that they were happier with the external hammer which gave them more comfort carrying in condition 1 (Cocked and Locked). The junior officers carry CZ75’s which they are looking to replace with the harder wearing polymer pistols. The GP has been torture tested in much the same way as the Glock and has come through with flying colors.See Reliability Test and also Torture Test  for all the pictures.

The Mark 7 comes with replaceable grips of different sizes, like the Glock 4th Gen. This is great for a smaller handed shooter.

I particularly liked the rotating barrel concept, which noticeably reduces recoil in the smaller frames.

Range Session

I shot 50 rounds standing and managed to get all but 3 inside the center mass section, so I’d say this was as accurate as you need it to be. The trigger was crisp with around a 3-4lb pull. The X-caliber was not for shooting sadly and I was shooting the mid-size frame. The X-Caliber is great value for money as it’s a competition gun out of the box.

Recoil was not unpleasant due the rotating barrel and the fifty rounds didn’t seem to tire me much. I probably could have shot 200 happily. The sights are white tritium type dot sights. The competition versions have fiber sights. The ammo given to me was FMJ and not the highest quality, but true to expectations it cycled perfectly every time. I was shooting Single Action, but you can of course shoot Double Action. There is a side safety which shows red when safe. You can also “lock” the gun with a special key.

As you can see in the photo it does have an underbarrel rail for light or laser.

The K100 is completely ambidextrous.

K100

 

Conclusion

The Grand Power is already winning competitions and is in use by the Slovakian Police and other agencies. It’s good value for money at around $100 cheaper than a comparable Glock. Would I recommend one? Yes – without hesitation. If you want a polymer pistol that will be ultra-reliable and has an external hammer – this is the way to go. This competes squarely with the S&W SD9 or M&P and the ubiquitous Glock.

Downside? I’d like to see .40 or .357 Sig or .45 ACP. At the moment the Mk7 is in 9mm x 19 only.

 

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When should you shoot…

Or rather – when you shouldn’t. The law in South Africa is fairly clear – your life or the life of someone you are trying to protect must be in immediate danger.

Let’s run through a few scenarios. You hear someone trying to break into your car at 2am. You grab your firearm, lean out of the window and blam! the perp goes down. In this country and in most others including the US, you would go directly to jail. Was your life in danger? No. What should you have done? Call the police and your security company. Try to get a good description of the alleged thief and be a good witness. Why was it wrong to shoot. 1. You were not sure of your target or what was beyond it. 2. This could easily have been a case of mistaken identity (more on that soon). 3. You want to execute someone for stealing your car? Really?

Let’s replay this scenario a couple of different ways. Firstly, let’s pretend your bank has messed up. Your last two car repayments didn’t go through and you’ve been too busy to check. The finance company tried to get hold of you but they have an out of date cell number. The guy you have just shot and killed was legally re-possessing your car. Oops. Enjoy jail for the next 20 years. Sadly there is one even worse than this – and this one is true. A well known rugby player was awoken by the sound of someone opening his car door at 4am. Macho man that he was, he did exactly what the scenario says. He leaned out his window, shot and killed the “perpetrator”.

Who turned out to be his daughter who had an early meeting with her boyfriend. His life is over in so many ways. http://mg.co.za/article/2004-05-24-rugby-player-shoots-and-kills-daughter-by-mistake

Scenario number 2 is more challenging. A lady at home hears someone enter the house at 1am. She grabs her firearm and shoots a rather unsavoury looking man coming in through the door, which she forgot to lock. Again, true story. The old man suffers from dementia and got confused about where he lived. He lived 3 houses down the road.

The thing is this – identify if the so-called attacker has a weapon. If you can, retreat into another room or out of the house altogether. Call the police, call security. Only when your back is literally against the wall. You have no way out and the attacker is clearly armed and clearly intends to do you harm, then shoot. Not a bloody warning shot (what a load of rubbish), but a proper shot, centre mass or Mozambique drill. Double tap chest, single to the head.

If you are out and about and witness someone being attacked by a man with a gun, what should you do? Draw your own and fire of course…NO! As happened recently the man with the gun was a plain clothes ATF agent who had just apprehended an armed robber. You are not a policeman! (unless you are of course). It is not your job to decide which is a lawful or an unlawful attack. In the scenario above the man was killed by an undercover policeman who had a negligent discharge while trying to apprehend the ATF agent! http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/01/nyregion/off-duty-atf-officer-is-killed-intervening-after-robbery.html?_r=1

The main point here is that if you are not 700% sure that this is an unlawful attack – you know the drill – back away, phone the police, be a good witness.

Get Good Quality Training

If you have a firearm, get good training, read some Jeff Cooper books http://www.jeffcooperbooks.com/and always use it as the absolute last resort. Try to think about how to get away first. Once that trigger is pulled you can’t recall that bullet. You are responsible for everything that it does until it comes to rest.

Be sure of your target (I hope these scenarios help you think about that) and what is beyond it.

 

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Complicated is not clever

There are many reasons why projects fall behind or fail altogether. I’ve talked about them before. Management and Employee buy-in. (Organisational Change Management) – bad Data Migration Practices and so on. If it is a technical project it can fall foul of “we don’t know how big it is, we don’t know how complex it is, but we know when it must be finished” syndrome. If you have a project that falls into this category you’re already at a severe disadvantage. You will uncover the real scope of the project as you go along so you have to start compromising early on.
Statements like “this will not fit into our timescale” should be par for the day. Reduce the scope to fit and make it clear upfront that this is the way it will be managed. If this is not acceptable and extra resources (not always a practical solution) can not be added, it’s time to walk away from this project.

I’ve mentioned the triple constraint before so I won’t labour the point here.

One way you can reduce the scope in a subtle way is to reduce the complexity. Complexity is a poison that eats into projects, increases TCO and can make a project a nightmare to coordinate, integrate and deliver. An Architects job should be to reduce complexity. period. If he or she can do that then half the battle is won.

A good developer is not, as some would have you believe, one who can deliver functionally rich, complex and “clever” solutions. Clever solutions are simple, elegant solutions that are easy to use and even easier to understand. There was a saying in the 60’s and 70’s that went along these lines:

If you can explain your system to your Grandmother – it’s a good system.
If your Grandmother understands it – it’s a much better system.
If your Grandmother designed it – it’s the best system.

In other words – it’s simple, elegant and to the point. Some complexity these days is unavoidable (security, for example). Most is completely avoidable.
A good developer and a good architect avoid complexity like the plague. They will argue long and hard to simplify processes.

If you are a client, let them simplify things as much as possible. Ask the question – “is this really needed?” – often.

Some complexity is acceptable – some people go as far as to call it “good complexity”. Personally I wouldn’t. Adding functionality that differentiates and puts your company ahead of others is acceptable complexity, but it must itself follow the rules of simplicity to become an elegant function.

The Global Simplicity index http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Global_Simplicity_Index puts an estimate of $1 Billion dollars a year lost by the worlds largest companies, purely due to complexity.

That’s a lot to pay for someone to think you’re clever.

Leonardo da Vinci once said “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”.

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Speech Recognition vs touch

With the imminent release of Windows 8, the focus is on touch computing and how it will change the world. Apple have been forerunners with multi-gesture and now it’s seems the world of the PC will soon be catching up. The mouse may be consigned to the museum.
All of this is great – but one commentator wrote off speech recognition as an archaic attempt at computer interfacing. Well – I’m here to tell you he could not have been more wrong. Speech is being developed and continues to make huge strides. It wont be long before certain aspects of computing are given back to us as a speech response and a graphical display, depending on the need.

We already have some of this on phones (iPhone and BB) where we can give verbal commands. and this comes in very useful some times. The point I’m making here is that there plenty of room for a speech interface – they have become better and they will become even better.

On Wednesday IBM showcased the IBM Watson in Louisville, Kentucky. It can play games and solve real-world problems in areas such as Healthcare, Business Intelligence, Life Sciences and a host of other areas.

Photo Credit: IBM

Have a look at the link through to IBM – This is impressive stuff and the takeaway is that it’s pretty premature to write off speech recognition. In fact quite the opposite in my opinion.

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Knives – why can’t we ban them or at least license them

As we have seen http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-jersey-14523741 there has been yet another attack with these heinous weapons.

 The fact that anyone can just walk into a shop and buy something that is designed to cut and slice is unbelievable. Knife-nuts keep spinning the tired old line about these dangerous weapons being tools and only for use as cooking utensils and other nonsense.

To me the solution is obvious – if you need one of these dangerous and deadly weapons for use in your kitchen then you should apply for a license, have your fingerprints taken and have a background check. Even then they must be secured in a safe somewhere so that people who are not authorised cannot access them.

This will bring down the knife crime rate without a doubt – and of course it will prevent the terrible scenes that have played out in Jersey recently.

I’ve also heard of people shooting high speed and lethal arrows at targets for SPORT! These weapons are designed to kill. This needs to be the next step – banning or licensing bows and arrows!

Hang on…hang on… does sound a little off the wall to you?

Now you understand how the drivel spewed by A C Grayling (I’m ashamed to say he went to the same school as I) and others sounds to us. I’m not trying to make light of the terrible events in Jersey. We need, however, to look at the fools – and make no mistake Grayling is an over-educated, self publicising fool – who jump on the tragedy band wagon (Norway) and try to blame the weapons themselves in order to push their own agenda.

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2011 – Predictions

I can’t believe that we’re already into November (still depressingly far away from payday though) and the end of the year is around the corner!

Well that means it’s time again to look forward to the new year.

  • Tablet Wars – It started (or should we say rebooted) with the iPad in April. I always marvel at the time to market of the likes of Samsung who already have the Android based Galaxy Tab on sale. It’s a little rough around the edges – some software doesn’t work well for example. The same cannot be said for RIM and their new Playbook due out in Q1 2011 (See picture). This boasts a POSIX based OS which will enable true multi-tasking , a 5mp camera and an automatic Blackberry phone sync and a new App Store to mention a few features.

    The new Blackberry Playbook

Don’t expect Apple to rest on their laurels though – I think we will see an added camera to the 2nd generation iPad. There could be even bigger things in the pipeline from them.

Microsoft Tablet Prototype (c) Gizmodo

Then we have Google weighing in with a possible Google tablet, Steve Ballmer announcing that Microsoft is back in the tablet game (see other picture), we have the Dell Streak, HP Slate and a bunch of others coming in. So expect this then: 2011 is going to be the year of the Tablet Wars.

I think, based on the public memo by Microsoft’s Ray Ozzie, that we can see some serious focus on tablets coming from Redmond. Stylus and Multi-touch on the same device?

All in all it’s going to be a fun year for tablets and the consumer will benefit.

I think the Kimble will die a natural death though – sorry Amazon!

  • Cloud Computing – I don’t expect this to become full mainstream yet, but I do expect some fairly serious development to be done in 2011. I think that 2012 will be the year of the Cloud as providers really start to gear up and IT departments start to spend again. As we see the uptake in Mobile taking off, and believe me it will, the whole cloud discussion becomes more pertinent. I expect to see a lot more being done on private clouds, but we should see some interesting public clouds popping up as well – think news streams, weather streams, finance etc. Of course the advertisers will make sure we see their message somehow.
  • Some sneak previews from SAP? Well expect to see big things with in-memory databases. HANA (for Advanced Analytics) and some cool stuff coming out of our alliance with Sybase.
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