Saturday, December 15, 2007

Quantum Computing

ZDNET Australia reported yesterday that

"Researchers from the University of Queensland have taken a significant step in the quest to build a quantum computer, creating a light-based quantum circuit capable of basic calculations and moving quantum computing closer to a becoming a reality."

link to original article)

This big stuff. A "quantum computer" can factor numbers linearly. What does this mean? Consider the following Slashdot post, written by "swilver":

"What a lot of people fail to realise is that encryption can be made unbreakable even by brute force by simply choosing a large enough encryption key. What people also fail to realise is that 256 bit encryption doesn't take twice as long to crack as 128 bit encryption. It in fact takes 2^128 times as long to crack.

Let's for a second assume that 128 bit encryption is crackable by your own personal home computer in a period of 1 hour.

136 bit encryption would take 2^8 times as long (250 times as long)... so we use 250 computers, and crack it in 1 hour still.

144 bit encryption takes again 250 times as long, so instead we use 250 superpowerful server computers and crack it in 1 hour.

156 bit encryption takes another 250 times longer, so we use a top-secret government super computer the size of the Pentagon and still crack it in 1 hour.

164 bit encryption takes.. you guess it, 250 times longer to crack. All the governments in the world pool their top-secret super computers and crack your content in.. 1 hour.

172 bit encryption takes 250 times longer to crack. We use all the computers on the entire planet and manage to crack it in 1 hour.

180 bit encryption takes 250 times longer to crack. We use all those computers, but let them run 250 hours (10 days) instead.

188 bit encryption takes 250 times longer to crack. We let those computers run 6 years to crack your password.

192 bit encryption takes 250 times longer to crack... never mind, we're not THAT interested in your personal photo album.

( Link to original post)

Very well said. The linear addition of bits to a cipher causes an exponential increase in processing time - if your processing power is running on a traditional bit of computer hardware. If you're using a quantum- based computer, however, a linear increase in bits only results in a linear increase in processing time.

So if it takes you 1 hour to crack a 128 bit cipher with your quantum home PC, a doubling of the nuimber of bits would only double the time it takes to crack.

Big stuff, indeed.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Crunch Time!!!

I've noticed a rather alarming trend in my scholastic life. Crunch time (invariable related to writing assignments) leads to great epiphanies in visionary concepts. Unfortunately for me, the concepts are far afield from what I'm supposed to be studying.

This week crunch time has hit in a big way. My Senior Paper is many month behind schedule, and is going to be due very soon. Consequently, I'm experiencing amazing visions of how currently available technology has the potential to generate a massive paradigm shift.

In past semesters, I've grasped the concepts of automated (computer assisted) legal research, global news reporting that's customizable for your particular bias, and something vaguely internet related. This time around, though, it's a bit more disruptive:

Software Defined Radio

I've been reading bits and peices about SDR for a few years, but never really undrstood it - the radio spectrum is completely analog, and methods of tuning (that I could understand) require an analog adjustment to a resonance cycle. I didn't understand how you could replace the analog method for tuning to a particular frequency until I came across the GNU Radio Project -

A "conventional" radio tuner works by taking the electrical current induced in an antenna and selectively filtering out that particular frequency, and amplifying it. The amplified signal is then fed into a signal processor. For AM/FM radio, this converts the analog signal to sound, for TV it converts the analog signal to a CRT scanning signal, for HDTV it processes the digital signal as an MPEG stream.

An SDR does the same thing. Intead of selectively filtering out right frequency via an analog amplifier, it converts the entire spectrum to a digital stream with a (relatively) basic Analog-to-Digital converter, then separates out the desired analog frequency from the digital stream.

There's a couple of pretty heady implications with this. First of all, because the entire spectrum has already been digitized, multiple analog signals can be separated simultaneously with the same set of hardware (Just like TiVo!). Secondly (this is where it gets really cool), since the digital stream covers the entire spectrum, you could theoretically use one radio reciever to access any radio signal. With one device, you could recieve and transmit AM, FM, Shortwave, Ham, TV, HDTV, Satellite TV/Radio, Walkie Talkies, Cell phone, cordless phone, Emergency Services, Police/Fire bands, GPS, and wifi. And garage door openers, car remotes, and that wireless thermometer thingamabob.

With one unit, you could recieve and transmit on multiple channels. Simultaneously. In any portion of the spectrum. This is NCC 1701-D deflector dish type stuff, in real life.

I'm picturing a universal communications transceiver card that I could put in my laptop to get access 802.11a/b/g wireless networks, watch TV, place and recieve phone calls, and get GPS info. When a new wireless standard comes out (WiMAX?), I can already access it without needing any new hardware - all I need to do is get the frequency/format data (publically available) and plug it into the SDR, and I'm connected. Without even missing a commercial break.

Oh, did I mention that the whole shebang, start to finish, from the software source code to the hardware schematics to the PCB layouts, are available for free under an open-source license?

Aaaaaand.... back to the crunch.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Dickens on Patents

In 1850, Charles Dickens wrote "A Poor Man's Tale of a Patent," outlining the expense and difficulty of the English patent system. A choice quote:

'John, if the laws of this country were as honest as they ought to be, you would have come to London — registered an exact description and drawing of your invention — paid half-a-crown or so for doing of it — and therein and thereby have got your Patent.'

The full text can be read on the Patent Law Blog.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Rappelling off the Training Center

Thursday evening we had the opportunity to go rappelling off the top of a 10-story building in downtown Oklahoma City. Pictures can be found at:

It was fun.

- Jonathan

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Complete Online Integration

I'm at a friend's house, and I'm trying to make the most use of my time by working on a school paper via Google Docs. I don't often use Google Docs for document authoring, but it's convenient and accessible.

I'm discovering new features like "email as attachment", "Publish to web", and "Publish to Blog". Oh, and I noticed a few months ago that I have the option in gmail of opening attached documents in Google Docs.

I could do (almost) all my document management via google. It's a bit of a paradigm shift. For example:

Prof. emails me an assignment as a word document, I open it in google docs. I now have a copy of the document in google docs, and never again need to open the attachment from the email. I view the assignment in one tab of the browser, work on the text of the assignment in google docs open in a second tab. Changes are saved automatically, and I can roll backwards and forwards version-wise if I make any mistakes. After the assignment is completed, I email it to the professor as an email attachment (doc, rtf, odf, or pdf), and I'm done. All online.

I don't have to keep a local copy of the instruction document, I don't have to use a local word processor to create write the assignment, I don't have to keep a local (versioned!) backup of the document. All I need is an internet connection and a web browser. And Google Docs.

I'm kinda pumped about this. The primary "missing piece" for me is headers and footers. And maybe footnotes.

I'm looking forward to seeing where this goes.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Parapalegic Cockroach

Once a scientist conducted an experiment on cockroaches. First he caught a cockroach and put on a table. Then he cut off one of its legs and commanded it to walk. The poor cockroach tried to escape, but didn't get very far.

The scientist continued his experiment. He cut one more leg off the cockroach and again commanded it to walk. The cockroach again tried to escape, but couldn't get away.The scientist continued his experiment, cutting one leg at a time off the cockroach, commanding the cockroach to walk after each amputation.

The cockroach was able to propel itself forward after each amputation, right up until it became legless. After the last leg was amputated, the scientist again commanded the roach to walk. This time, it didn't move.

The scientist's conclusion?


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Friday, February 09, 2007

It's Friday!!!

And it sure feels like it.

(Wooo!!!! 17 minutes left!)

It's really not a negative feeling, just kind of... unproductively goofy. It feels like a Friday.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

What an awesome one-word sentence.

I took my Wills and Trusts exam this afternoon! It's done!

Two down, one to go.

I should celebrate or something.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Business Organizations is Finished!

For the time being, anyway.

I took the final exam for Business Organizations this afternoon. It was supposed to be a three hour test, so I was a bit surprised when the computer came up with a 2 hour time limit - it turned out the exam file I got from the college was slightly erroneous. But we got that straigtened out.

I'm sitting in Panera Bread right now, enjoying a (short) evening out.

It's nice.