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Eunoia, who is a grumpy, overeducated, facetious, multilingual ex-pat Scot, blatantly opinionated, old (1944-vintage), amateur cryptologist, computer consultant, atheist, flying instructor, bulldog-lover, Beetle-driver, textbook-writer, long-distance biker, geocacher and blogger living in the foothills south of the northern German plains. Not too shy to reveal his true name or even whereabouts, he blogs his opinions, and humour and rants irregularly. Stubbornly he clings to his beliefs, e.g. that Faith does not give answers, it only prevents you doing any goddamn questioning. You are as atheist as he is. When you understand why you don't believe in all the other gods, you will know why he does not believe in yours.

Oh, and after the death of his old dog, Kosmo, he also has a new bulldog puppy, Clara, since September 2018 :-)

Some of my bikes

My Crypto Pages

My Maths Pages

LP of the week
LP of the week, 9/19, Dauner & Mangelsdorff.
Sunday, June 15, 2019

Lockpicking 101

Another scurrilous gift, a beginner's lockpicking set, which you can pick up on Amazon for a couple of small Euronotes or your local currency equilavent.

Before you do so, make sure that ownership, transportation and use is legal in your country; some countries/states are uptight about this, others require you to register or get a licence. Example : In the UK, there is an offence of "going equipped" for a robbery, burglary etc. Lockpicking tools would certainly get you in trouble with the law if found on you as you travelled around. Here in Germany, just go ahead as lockpicking for fun and amusement is a perfectly legal hobby. Misuse, however, to break in somewhere uninvited IS illegal, of course, so when I have the lockpicks on my person in public (e.g. going to a lockpicking competition [yes, these are a thing]) I make sure I take a written invitation with me ;-)

The beginners' kit consists of 17 tools and two transparent locks to practice on.

The easiest lock to pick is this 7 pin padlock. It is made with a transparent acrylic body so that you can see what you are doing. Once you get down to opening times of under one minute on a regular basis, just cover up the plastic with dark insulating tape and proceed to doing it by feel and listening for the clicks as the pins get set.

The next step up in difficulty (I found) was the door lock. Also transparent to get you started easily and with only 5 pins. Both demo locks have sloppy tolerances, I found and so are easier to open than regular steel/brass locks of this type.

The picklock toolkit consists of a dozen rakes and hooks and a choice of 5 torque wrenches. The type of tools you use will depend on the type of lock you are facing. Start with the small torque wrench tool and a rake or a slight hook.

Of course, sometimes you don't even need any tool because people don't even lock up their stuff properly. This photo shows an invitation to a scooter theft :-(

Once you get down below the one minute mark ( just a few seconds) you can enter a lockpicking competition - curiously these are mostly held on university campuses - where the sort of challenge you will face at the beginners' level will look like the photo shown above. Fastest opener, aggregated over several locks, wins :-)

If this might be a hobby for you too, there are instructional videos on Youtube (ignore the ads), and a channel worth following there by the lockpicking lawyer :-) In reality, you will need to extend your toolkit as you advance to more complex locks.

For obvious reasons, never show a photo of any of your keys online, that's as bad as listing your passwords or credit cards' numbers there. A photo suffices if the thief has access to a CAD program and a 3D printer :-(

Since learning this skill, I have upgraded my doorlocks so that I can't pick them ;-)

Have fun!

Comments (2)
Cop Car wrote " From an early age I learned that locks only serve to keep honest people honest; thus, I would deprive you of the glee of picking my lock by never locking it. (Of course, the government didn't subscribe to that theory, so I had to learn to lock stuff up while employed!)" You and me, too :-)
Ed (USA) wrote "NEVER visit me!"Okay, man :-)

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Home-drawn T-shirt for me

Another personally made present for my 75th birthday, this T-shirt was drawn for me by Marion - the lady who wrote the chronicles book about our motorcycle club in 2018. She took a recent photo of my current motorcycle from my blog, made a sketch of our bulldog Clara from a photo somewhere in SWMBO's blog and rounded it off with my 75 years; a personalised present and much appreciated :-)

Comments (1)
Cop Car wrote " Marion seems like the sort of friend to have. She came up with a winner of a gift. BTW: I liked the puzzle cylinder, too." That was from Yasmin.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Labyrinthine cylinder puzzle

Yesterday I promised to show you some of the more scurrilous presents I was given for my 75th birthday. This unique one was from young Yasmin. She is studying engineering (subset mechatronics) and has access to a 3D printer. So she made me a cylinder which is particularly hard to open. The 5 inch blue hexagonal cylinder has a notch inside somewhere under the white cap, obstructing the irregular 'thread' of a screw.

As I undid the white 'screw' thread, a labyrinth came into view which interacts with the notch on the inside of the blue cylinder. So you can't just 'unscrew' the white part, but have to find out where the unobstructed path is. So yes, I went down several dead ends :-) In fact it took me 5 days of intermittent unsystematic attempts and I still hadn't found the unique path.

Finally, on wednesday, I saw Yasmin again, who undid it for me (out of my view); so now I could see the whole labyrinth and backtrack it.

After that, I could backtrack the whole labyrinthine 'screw' and so could open the container from scratch myself to find the birthday card scroll inside :-)

That was a nice (and unique) present, Yasmin, thankyou !!!

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Hipy Papy Bthuthdth Bthuthdy

Saturday saw me turn 75, so we had a little garden party where a couple of dozen friends came over for an afternoon of fingerfood and reminiscences, talking biker-bullshit and having a good time.

Mostly biker friends, lining the street with their motorcycles.

At 75, I'm the oldest, but we're all turning gray (except the ladies ;-)

Just finger food and a half doz. crates of drinks. Dogs were well behaved!

Some scurrilous presents, to be shown in a later blogpost.

And if you're wondering about the strange headline, it's a quotation from Winnie the Pooh. Wol was not good at spelling ;-)

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Chinese SciFi

One of my nephews now lives in China; he and his mom, my SSIL (senior sister-in-law), have been raving about a chinese science fiction writer Cixin Liu. Since I myself cannot read chinese, SSIL has got hold of english translations of his trilogy for me :-)

The Three Body Problem trilogy, by Cixin Liu.

Cixin Liu is the leading science fiction writer in the People's Republic of China. He has won the China Galaxy Science Fiction Award nine times and the Nebula (Xingyun) Award twice. He also won the 2015 Hugo award for best novel.

These 3 books are huge. The first of the trilogy is 437 pages long, the second 550, and the third a whopping 724, so this'll take a while.

I haven't started reading them yet, so you'll have to wait if you want my opinion. However there are Chinese and Korean names used (so surnames first and given names last), so I may have a problem keeping the characters apart in my head, but that's a cultural problem of mine, not the author's fault. The list of characters up at the front may get used a lot ;-)

If any of you blogreaders have already read this SciFi trilogy, please send me your opinions for the comments below.

Comments (2)
Cop Car wrote " Thanks for the suggestion, Stu. Our local library website tells me that we have all three of the books you show, plus Ball Lightning. I'll give them a go when I finish this weeks' books (three by Baldacci, one by Atwood). The library listing gives the author as "Liu, Cixin" - which I assume is backward. I've always had to ask the Chinese with whom I've worked which name was which. Here in the States, it's anyone's guess; although, many have made it simpler for people like me by adopting an "American" given name while retaining a Chinese surname. " I'm getting behind in my reading;there's quite a queue, so it'll be a while before I even get started. I used to average 3 books per week, then it dropped to 2, now it's down to 1.
Peter (UK) wrote "Hi Stu, it seems the trilogy is on audible plus a bunch of others, half of which have four star ratings...." Good to know :-)

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Man is the measure of all things

Around 460 BC, the world's first professional sophist, Protagoras, came up with individual relativity : "Man is the measure of all things" and certainly measures of time, length, and weight, were so defined throughout many centuries. Examples : A second was defined as the period of a simple pendulum of a certain length, a cubit was defined as the length from (the king's) elbow to fingertip, the old (900 AD) english Wey was the weight of a man (14 stone or 76.5 kg) but the wey itself varied over time and by location. The history of unit definitions is amusing.

The seven measures we have nowadays have been abstracted almost beyond recognition, see here for details. The most recent redefinition is of the Kilogram.

In 1792 the meter was defined as one ten-millionth of the distance from pole to equator. In 1983 it was redefined as a certain fraction of the distance light travels in a vacuum during a second. The second was redefined as a certain number of Cesium atom oscillations because the rotation of the Earth varies too much (which is why we have leap-seconds sometimes). The kilogram used to be the mass of a platinum-iridium cylinder in Paris. However, measurements between 1989 and 1992 showed that the original Kilo had drifted apart in mass from its clones. So now (since 20/5/2019) it has been redefined in terms of Planck's constant instead of a physical macro-object. No-one has explained HOW the mass drift happened :-( Dark matter maybe?

Of course any system of units can be arbitrarily defined as long as the unit definitions are consistent. Donald Knuth did a satire on the NEED for such a system of measures in Mad magazine #33, defining the Potrzebie (=Polish word for 'need') as the thickness of Mad issue 26 to a ridiculous level of precision (2.2633484517438173216473 mm). Volume was measured in ngogn, mass in blintz (equal to the mass of 1 ngogn of halavah, which is "a form of pie [with] a specific gravity of 3.1416 and a specific heat of .31416"), and time in seven named units (decimal powers of the average earth rotation, equal to 1 "clarke"). Knuth's system also features such units as whatmeworry, cowznofski, vreeble, hoo and hah. Needless to say, it did not catch on, although Google's calculator can perform conversions from the Potrzebie system to other units ;-)

Of course, most standardisation efforts were not as ridiculous as Knuth's. They were serious but just appear antiquated nowadays. Example? Back in 1627 the famous astronomer Johannes Kepler (who discovered that planetary orbits are elliptical) was tasked with defining standards for the city of Ulm and its surrounding areas. He came up with a decorative bronze bucket, interior diameter one Ell, exterior two Shoes. The volume was the measure for wine and the weight of the empty bucket defined a Zentner. Measurements were defined as being taken at the Mint in Ulm, where the empty bucket was also defined to hold 200 Cologne Marks, a standard for silver. Alternatively 64 fillings defined 90 Imen of wheat. But it took metrification (1792ff) to get rid of such units as Himte, Scrupel and Drachme etc. But beer resisted this and stayed with pints, pitchers, chuebel, seidele, hump etc etc. BTW, the special amount of alcohol which was a ration for monks is still known as a Caritas (which means charity ;-)

And so we came to today's seven standard measures: second, metre, kilogram, ampere, kelvin, mole and candela. FWIW, note that the Mole does not appear to be related to any other units and the Candela may not be elementary either; so, a wobbly base still ???

Recent Writings
Lockpicking 101
Home-drawn T-shirt
Labyrinthine cylinder
Happy Birthday
Chinese SciFi
The measure of all things
Eurolection results
Rain, rain, go away!
Voynich Manuscript
CO2 emissions
That New Baby Smell
Boker Oldtimer meeting
Chewbacca is dead :-(
Leonardo Da Vinci
Sammy Miller's Museum
Yamamoto downed
Black Hole : first photo
Scarecrow Maths
The Times They Are...
POW steganography
WW2 fighter pilot code
Mueller Report, redacted
Spring has sprung :-) strike
World Recycling Day

Ain Bulldog Blog
All hat no cattle
Balloon Juice
Cop Car
Earth-Bound Misfit
Fail Blog
Finding life hard?
Greg Laden
Mostly Cajun
Observing Hermann
Starts with a Bang
Yellowdog Grannie

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FWIW, 153 is a triangular number, meaning that you can arrange 153 items into an equilateral triangle (with 17 items on a side). It is also one of the six known truncated triangular numbers, because 1 and 15 are triangular numbers as well. It is a hexagonal number, meaning that you can distribute 153 points evenly at the corners and along the sides of a hexagon. It is the smallest 3-narcissistic number. This means it?s the sum of the cubes of its digits. It is the sum of the first five positive factorials. Yup, this is a 153-type blog. QED ;-)
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