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July 16, 2004

A fine Microsoft euphemism

This page ingeniously describes the Express versions of Microsoft's Visual Studio as having a "streamlined" user experience.

This actually makes the cut-down UI in Express sound more attractive and productive than the "full" user experience on offer in the more expensive versions. Nice one.

July 16, 2004 in Software | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 15, 2004

Evidence that the Voynich manuscript is a hoax

Gordon Rugg in Scientific American: "In 1912 Wilfrid Voynich, an American rare-book dealer, made the find of a lifetime in the library of a Jesuit college near Rome: a manuscript some 230 pages long, written in an unusual script and richly illustrated with bizarre images of plants, heavenly spheres and bathing women."

Sadly, Rugg doesn't go very far into the fascinating history of attempts to decode the Voynich manuscript (William Poundstone's Labyrinths of Reason has a great chapter on the optimistic and frequently delusional efforts of Voynich students), but his account of how he managed to produce a Voynich-like text does suggest that a hoax of this sophistication would have been within the reach of mediaeval scholars. He points the finger of suspicion at Edward Kelley: Kelley was a famously fraudulent associate of John Dee, and they were at the court of the Holy Roman Emperor around the time he purchased the manuscript.

He doesn't address some of the information-theoretical reasons for believing Voynich may be genuine, but no doubt an analysis of Rugg's text would identify similar regularities to the original manuscript and dispose of this objection.

Sigh. Voynich was a beautiful mystery. Then again, it's still beautiful...

July 15, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Due process is a security measure for the rest of us

Bruce Schneier: "Even during World War II, German spies captured in the U.S. were given attorneys and tried in public court. We need to carry on these principles of fair and open justice, both because it is the right thing to do and because it makes us all more secure... Unchecked police and military power is a security threat -- just as important a threat as unchecked terrorism."

July 15, 2004 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 06, 2004

Blair says WMD 'may never be found'

BBC News quotes Blair: "They could have been removed. They could have been hidden. They could have been destroyed."

Or, in the chaotic aftermath of an ill-prepared invasion, they could have fallen into the hands of terrorists who pose a genuine threat to Western citizens.

July 6, 2004 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack