Surface Authentication

No two natural surfaces are equal so characteristics of each can be combined for authentication.

This is a system so secure that not even the inventors would be able to crack it since there is no known manufacturing process for copying surface imperfections at the necessary level of precision.

Excellent idea although I am not sure whether it's a mass market technology or not.

Back from Camping

Just got back from 3 days of camping at the New Brighton Beach in San Jose. Campsites were so so and morning weather was foggy and windy but the beach is great and weather is great from noon til evening. Also, it's only a 45 minute drive to Monterey. We typically just loiter around our campsite but we had my close Korean friend's family with us so we went to Monterey to enjoy the seafood, shops, and the aquarium.

Anyway, I am tired now and have a large pile of work still to burn away so it'll be light blogging for a few days.

Corruption vs Privacy in Korea

Biggest news out of Korea in the past few days is the leak of illegal recordings of conversations between Hong Seok-hyun, Korea's current ambassador to America, and Samsung officials (Hong and Samsung's chairman are related by marriage) for a few months preceding 1997 Korean Presidential Election.

Corruption

The recorded conversations were about distribution of illegal campaign funds to Lee hwae-chang, former judge and the favorite conservative in the election. The money was coming from Samsung but the delivery was being made by Hong, in cash. The really disgusting part is that Hong was then CEO of Joong-Ang Ilbo, one of the biggest Korean newspapers. So what we have is a billionaire and owner of a major newspaper giving illegal money to a former judge. If that's not corruption, I don't know what is.

Privacy

Here is the other side of this fascinating coin: the recordings were made illegally by a government agency: National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Korean equivalent of CIA. It turns out there are more than 8000 such recordings made by a secret NIA unit called Mirin which had 3-400 agents working around the clock to record conversations of key Korean businessmen and politicians. They started with wiretapping and bugs but moved on to recording cellphone conversations.

The kicker is that this illegal activities started under Kim Young-sam and supposedly continued under Kim Dae-joong, both of whom suffered wiretapping and more by dictators in thier pursuit of democracy in Korea.

Now the problem is what to do with all that recording. If you had to choose between revealing corruption and protecting privacy, which would you choose? While the ideal solution is to have someone upload the recordings accidentally, but I doubt that will happen, not with Korean cyberpolice's uncanny ability to track hackers down.

Debugging Win32 Shell Extensions

It's been a while since I wrote a Win32 Shell Extension. FYI, shell extensions are used to extend Windows Explorer and Internet Explorer. By extension, I mean custom context menu items, property pages, detail columns, shell namespaces, etc.

Like everything, shell extension is a double-edged technology. While it enables deeper integration with Windows, buggy implementations can ruin user experience severely. For example, TortoiseSVN, which integrates Subversion nodes as shell namespaces, occasionally causes Explorer to crash.

Anyhow, I learned a new debugging trick this time (adding a custom detail view column and a custom property sheet for executable files) which made debugging much easier.

  1. Open 'Turn Off Computer' Dialog (Start>>Turn Off Computer).
  2. Press Cancel button with ALT-CONTROL-SHIFT keys down.

This shuts down current Explorer.exe cleanly. With your shell extension project set to use explorer.exe as debug target application, just launch and debug. When you are done, repeating the above steps will end your debug session. Just killing your debug session also seems to cause little problem. I know that there are other debugging tricks like configuring Explorer to launch new instances for each window but I found them to be confusing in practice.

Note that the instance of Explorer launched by Visual Studio will be owned by Visual Studio so it will shutdown also if you shutdown Visual Studio, causing Windows to relaunch Explorer. You should keep a pair of script files to register and unregister your shell extensions.

Open for Contracts Again

My current primary client for the past year and a half is now airborne and climbing fast so I think my equity is reasonably safe enough for me to move on. This means I'll have about 100~125 hours per month open for offsite contracts within two weeks. Let me know if you are interested in the keeping me occupied. While I can plow ahead like a one-man army, I prefer having a small army at my fingertip. Part equity contracts are welcome if your venture is promising enough.

Second London Bombing

It looks like all four copycat terrorists might have gotten away although one man wearing a backpack was seen being taken into custody. In at least two of the incidents, an asian man was seen running. In one incident, a man's rucksack exploded and the man cursed. I wonder why no one jumped the bastards? Anyway, looks like their bomb maker screwed up something.

Update: One was chased by people but not sure what happened afterward.

Ohjang-dong Naemyun Sauce Recipe

Ohjang-dong is a neighborhood in Seoul, Korea famous for spicy cold noodle named after the area: Ohjang-dong naeng(cold) myun (noodle). Ohjang-dong naengmyun is a type of Bibim (mixed) naengmyun which originated somewhere in mountainous Korean states (I am not sure exactly where). Whenever I am in Korea, I make sure to visit Ohjang-dong frequently just to eat the spicy noodle, even if I have to travel more than an hour. Yum.

Anyway, here is the recipe for the famous Ohjang-dong naengmyun with comments from my wife (don't ask how she got this supposedly secret recipe). The recipe is in Korean, btw. If someone else can translate it, I'll post that as well.