A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.




 

The Changing Value Of π & A Breakdown Of Security
Monday, December 29, 2014





The one undeniable and irrefutable fact that has emerged in the chaos that this last week has been has been that pi to four decimal places is 3.141. My dyslexia and other factors beyond my control should have sent me to another dimension where that figure would not have been the correct one.

My overture to install a password to my computer a week ago (the value of pi to four decimal places) caused my computer to crash. My windows XP is now history and will soon have to deal with the complexity (not an improvement in my opinion) of Windows 7 plus that I will be pouring out of pocket for a digital and slightly more impervious solid state hard drive.

In my effort to protect my wife’s iPhone 4 form unwarranted attention by a visiting teenager I showed how easy it was to install a password on my iPhone 3G. I keyed in pi to four places and everything was fine for almost a day. To my horror when I attempted to type 3141 on my phone the phone told me it was the wrong one. Further attempts led the phone to lock up and make me weight, 5, 10, 15 minutes and finally one hour and a half. I gave up in horror knowing the only fix was taking my phone to an Apple Genius who would electronically dismantle my phone (all data lost).

But in the morning yesterday (I write this on January 1, 2015) I keyed in 3146 and the phone opened. As soon as I could figure it all out I took out the code and my iPhone is happily working.

The word password has been in my mind now for some days and I thought about the Spanish equivalents. It is far more interesting in Spanish. During the long war to push the Moors out of Spain the Spanish army had to devise safety protocols for sieges and when opposing armies where close to each other. The first method was to give out a “nombre”. More often it was the name of a saint that the Moors would be ignorant of.  In time that password became a “santo”. As soon as the Moors caught on the Spaniards imposed a second password, a counter-password or contraseña which was called santo y seña  which was later simplified to contraseña.

I wonder if the banking term to counter sign does  not have some relevance to the above.

This has been a week of ever changing passwords (I have abandoned Eucledian Geometry) as I go from my laptop to  Paul Leisz’s-lent computer as I navigate Twitter, facebook , skype or the dashboard to this here blog.  Most of my passwords have involved the name of long dead cats (and so often remembered during these computer failures). Perhaps as this new year will bring the almost certain desctruction of all the former  email addresses in my old computer I will begin the year lightly and treading carefully with my santos y señas.



     

Previous Posts
The Humanity Of Freckles

An Epiphany Of Light

John Ireland Never Wore A White Hat

The Grandeur Of the Big - The Charm Of The Small

Nochebuena 2014 Not So Buena

That Red Line Of My Lifespan

My Dogged Cat's Will To Live

The Age Of Fidget

Why Bach? - A Coda by Marv Newland

Our Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii & The Sw...



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12/18/16 - 12/25/16

12/25/16 - 1/1/17

1/1/17 - 1/8/17

1/8/17 - 1/15/17

1/15/17 - 1/22/17

1/22/17 - 1/29/17

1/29/17 - 2/5/17

2/5/17 - 2/12/17

2/12/17 - 2/19/17

2/19/17 - 2/26/17

2/26/17 - 3/5/17

3/5/17 - 3/12/17