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Welcome to my blog, which was once a mailing list of the same name and is still generated by mail. Please reply via the "comment" links.

Always interested in offers/projects/new ideas. Eclectic experience in fields like: numerical computing; Python web; Java enterprise; functional languages; GPGPU; SQL databases; etc. Based in Santiago, Chile; telecommute worldwide. CV; email.

© 2006-2013 Andrew Cooke (site) / post authors (content).

LPIR - Steganography in Practice

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How I Am 6

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Sat, 19 Jul 2014 15:26:32 -0400


Now 20.5 months from being diagnosed.  19.5 months on Betaferon.

In general, nothing particularly new.

Biggest problem has been tendonitis (right achilles), which is not a direct
result of the MS, but something I've struggled with for years, and exacerbated
by regular running (which *was* motivated by the MS - try to exercise every
non-injection day).

Physiotherapy, no walking, and reducing running distances failed to fix
things, so bought a bike to have an alternate method of exercise.  That
helped, but had to travel for work / parents which made things worse again.
Now back home and hope things will improve.  The bike is fun, but I am wary of
using even that too much.

This last week things have been weird.  I guess it's just a cycle of
re-mylenization (it could be progressive MS, but I don't really have the
cumulative evidence of things getting worse).  Random aches and twitching.
Yesterday I felt the strap of my bike helmet under the chin "for the first
time".  Today I seem to be more aware of a constriction around my chest (a
place where I've had symptoms before).

My right hand is very slightly better than before.  The best description now
is that it feels "tired" and "slightly stiff" with mild PN / waxiness in the
fingers.  Still some related numbness on the rght upper arm.

Under the thighs remains odd - an uncomfortable feeling when sitting.  I don't
think that has ever been OK.  Recently trousers round my thighs have felt

But no clear new outbreak.  I continue to wait...

Hello to future self.  Keep on rockin'



Clear Explanation of Verizon / Level 3 / Netflix

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Thu, 17 Jul 2014 19:40:56 -0400


In particular,



Teenage Girls

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Wed, 16 Jul 2014 20:03:15 -0400


Sounds awful.



Formalising NSA Attacks

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Thu, 10 Jul 2014 08:08:12 -0400


Is formalizing a word?  Anyway - a precise (ish) description of attacks from



Switching Brakes (Tektro Hydraulic)

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Sun, 6 Jul 2014 07:57:41 -0400

My new(ish) bike is an American import, which means that the right brake lever
controls the rear wheel.  UK bikes are reversed (right is front) which means
that instinctive braking tends to lock the rear (when you brake hard you need
to use the front, since that's where the weight is; for me that means using
the right hand which locks the rear instead; the instinct on locking the rear
is to release the left brake and apply more to the right...).

The brakes are hydraulic and contain a reservoir of oil on the "top" side of
the lever assembly.  This means that they cannot be simply disconnected from
the bars and swapped, as the reservoir would be upside down.

So instead, the hoses must be unscrewed and swapped.  To do this:

 - Remove the front wheel (to be sure you don't get hydraulic oil on
   the disks) and place a wedge between the brake pads so that they will
   not close shut if the brake is applied.

 - Slide off the plastic cover where the hose meets the lever assembly.
   This will reveal an 8mm nut.

 - Remove the grips from the handlebars, loosen the assemblies and slide
   them off the bars.

 - Carefully unscrew one hose from its assembly.  Make sure to keep the 
   connection point higher than the brake and, as soon as the two are
   separate, keep both "pointing up" so that no oil escapes.

 - Work out how to keep both "pointing up" while you separate the other
   hose and assembly (I tucked the free hose behind the bars and balanced
   the assembly on a nearby stone).

 - Reconnect hoses and assemblies, swapped.

 - Replace on bars, replace grips, and replace wheel.

All the above is pretty obvious.  The main point is that, at least for me, it
was possible without losing a significant amount of oil, and without
introducing air into the hydraulics.  The brakes worked just fine afterwards.

But I did have a hydraulics service kit with new oil read just in case.



Naim NAP 100 (Power Amp)

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Sat, 5 Jul 2014 20:05:34 -0400

Just connected up the new amp.  I haven't done any blind tests, but it does
seem to sound quite different to what we had before (Arcam Solo) - more
"bouncy" and better stereo imaging.

Here's the current setup:

  Computer (mp3 via mpd/ncmpcpp)
   + Music Fidelity V-Link (USB buffer to optical)
      + Optical splitter
        + Audio-GD NFB3.1 (DAC)
        |  |
        |  + Music Fidelity V-Can (headphone amp)
        |     |
        |     + AKG K702
        |     + AKG K550
        |     + Sennhesier HD25-II
        |     + Sennhesier HD555
        |     + Grado SR60
        + AudioEngine D2 (wifi sender)
           + AudioEngine D2 (wifi receiver / DAC)
           |  |
           |  + Roksan Kandy K2 (integrated amplifier)
           |     |
           |     + ATC SCM7
           + AudioEngine D2 (wifi receiver / DAC)
              + Bottlehead Crack (valve headphone amp, used as preamp)
                 + Naim NAP 100 (power amp)
                    + Speaker switch
                       + Mission 700LE
                       + Quad 11L
                       + B+W 602S2

The headphone amp and B+W speakers are in the office; Roksan and ATCs are in
the bedroom; ancient Missions in the kitchen and Quads in the living room
(there's a lot of cable hanging off the speaker switch).



AKG 550 First Impressions

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Sat, 28 Jun 2014 21:59:16 -0400

The bad news - on forst listen there seems to be an ugly emphasis in the upper
mids.  And it makes saxophones and trumpets grate.  Which is bad news if you
want to listen to jazz on these.

Also, when I ran a frequency scan, there's some weird unmatched jump to one
side in a narrow high frequency band (I guess around 1kHz).  I don't think
this is audible, and since I've never done the scan on any other headphones I
don't know jow unusual it is.  But it seemed odd.

In general, when I first listened to these (on very limited equipment - the
best source I have while travelling is an ASUS netbook) the music seemed flat
and unexciting.

The good news - now I'm getting used to them a little (an hour or two of
listening in) and they're sounding much better.  The bass isn't emphasized at
all, but it's certainly there (more so than the 702s).  The treble isn't
perfect (these are the closed headphones that are supposed to sound open and
then don't, imho) but it's perhaps better than other closed cans (it certainly
feels better than I remember of the HD25s).

The build quality is great (although really the headband is just a band of
thin, springy metal, when you look at it, the padding makes it seem solid) and
I have had no issues with getting a good seal (for the bass).  The isolation
is pretty good.  And it's comfortable (but people with small heads, try before
you buy; I have a large noggin and the band is hardly extended at all).

When I take them off, I notice the pleather is warm and a little sweaty.  But
I don't notice any heat when they're on (then again, it's bloody freezing here
in Yorkshire at the end of June).

And switching back to jazz now, the upper mids sound better.  It's amazing how
you ears / brain adapt.  I'm really having to strain to hear what seemed so
bad at first.  If I didn't know better I'd swear these needed to burn-in :o)

Imaging is retricted - everything is inside your head - but individual
instruments are nicely located.

Pootling through Kind of Blue on YouTube and this sounds pretty damn good.
Neutral, balanced, well-defined.  Only the very top end is missing space.



Facebook manipulates emotions (no really)

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Sat, 28 Jun 2014 11:38:43 -0400

The title sounds like a troll, but then when you think about it, is IS kinda
creepy.  Which makes more money for them?  Happy or sad users?  Maybe sad
people spend more to cheer themselves up?  If so, would that imply about
Facebook's likely future actions...




Map Reduce "No Longer Used" At Google

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Fri, 27 Jun 2014 03:17:31 -0400

Article has links to some interesting papers.  Basic idea is just that things
have become more general.




Removing RAID metadata

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Thu, 12 Jun 2014 19:08:57 -0400

Trying to reuse a disk that was formerly part of an md raid and Linux is giing
me a hard time, saying it's in use, etc etc.

The solution is here http://forums.fedoraforum.org/showthread.php?t=261617 (at
the very end of the page).

In short, metadata were detected an an empty raid started automatically, so:

  mdadm --stop /dev/md127
  mdadm --zero-superblock /dev/sdb1



New Bike (Good Bike Shop, Santiago Chile)

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Sun, 8 Jun 2014 10:01:00 -0400

Panic decision yesterday - my achilles tendon isn't getting better and I have
a trip to Europe in a few weeks.  So switch exercise to a bike.  So I need a

Searching around, it seemed like 350.000 CLP ($700 USD) is about the price of
a bottom line, but decent imported MTB, something like I had had before
(simple sprung fork, possibly with lockout, Acera or Alivio or S-Ram comp,
mechanical disk brakes).  The choices seemed ot be between Cannondale/Mongoose
at Intercyles (Las Condes), Kona (Oxford, Vitacura), Focus (Vitacura), or
Marin (Vitacura).

Intercycle's web site advertised a last year's Trail 4 at 380.000, which would
have been excellent - a model up from bottom at a very good price.  But the
site was wrong (and they were out of this year's Trail 5 in my size).  They
did have the Mongoose, which was fine (lock out fork), but kind-of tacky
looking.  And it's basically a Schwinn... :o( The Intercycle shop was huge - a
bit like abike supermarket, but the people seemed decent.

So then Focus.  Their Highland Peak seemed pretty solid (as the least famous I
guess they're pushing most) and so that became my fallback point.  The shop
was just one guy, who seemed OK, but it was basically an importer of boxes
with bikes.

Next, Kona.  Things got complicated.  They had a new Lana, in lime green, with
29" wheels.  It looked like so much fun and I was pretty won over.  But the
components were probably the worst of the bunch.  SRAM, no lockout.  The
guyette(?) didn't seem that enthusiastic and the shop came across as mainly a

Finally, Marin (next door to Kona/Oxford).  This was a scruffier place
(especially for Vitacura), but obviously a "rea bike shop".  A pile of
second-hand bikes and components for sale.  The bokes seemed solid, the owner
and a mechanic (yeah, a real bike shop) helpful, and they were more than
flexible on the pricing...  So I ended up with a last year's Iron Springs,
which is a model or two up from basic (Deore rear derailleur and hydraulic
brakes) for 400.000 ($800 USD).

At first I was torn.  I am pretty sure 26" wheels are on the way out, and the
Kona looked sooo cool.  But the Marin is growing on me.  I spent yesterday
evening peeling off or taping over logos and now it's looking pretty bad-ass
in it's own way.  Seat's at the right height and angle.  Brake leavers rotated
slightly.  Handlebar lowered one space.  Suspension pre-load backed off.
After breakfast I'm out the door.  Only problem - it's raining!


PS Also, the Marin is the best assembled bike I've seen.  When you look after
bikes yourself, you notice things.  Like, the tyre logos are all aligned with
the valve (and the reflector opposite).  The logos on the headset spacers were
aligned.  The gear changers and brakes were matched, and close, but didn't
touch.  The front derailleur height was within 0.1mm.  All the tiny details
were right.

But god, it had a lot of logos!