Great new technology!

April 1st, 2009

Google just released the newest, greatest technology for E-mails today! It’s taking auto-responders to the next level! You should check it out!

Prime Numbers

March 22nd, 2009

Boy, oh boy, have I been having fun lately! I’ll tell you the short version of the story:

I needed an RSA algorithm (to perform asymmetrical encryption) for a PHP script I’m writing. I couldn’t use the OpenSSL module because I wanted the script to be portable. So I searched and searched for a purely PHP implementation of the RSA algorithm, but couldn’t find one anywhere. So I had to learn how it worked so I could implement it myself.

I found the most amazing math article I had ever read and after hours and hours, I had a key generator that was capable of generating keys upwards of 2024 bits!

But during those hours and hours, I fell in love with prime numbers! So for fun, I posted (well, I tried to post it. I ended up uploading a text file that is now available for download) a list of 83,641 prime numbers, generated by yours truly (well… by a script that yours truly wrote at least).

So that’s that. Prime numbers. If you’re having the same issues with finding RSA in PHP, here’s a link to my classes. I didn’t really make them to be portable (EDIT: I rewrote the code. It is now portable and you are free to use it how you wish), so in the RSA_Handler class, there are a few things that I did my own way (mostly in the generate_keys and encrypt functions), but you should still be able to see how it works. If you want the most basic usage, use an RSA_keymaker object and the make_keys function. The function will return an array of keys (in number form) where $keys[0] is the public key, $keys[1] is the private key and $keys[2] is the modulo. The keys generated with the default function are around 1024 bits (a 310 digit modulo).

Laws of Morality

March 18th, 2009

The title doesn’t do the post justice, but a good title would be too long. Here’s an alternate title:

Is there a difference between laws based on morality and laws based on getting a large group of people to be able to live together in harmony?

I’ve reading in Exodus lately, and I’m getting to the point where God starts giving the people all kinds of laws and regulations. Growing up, I always assumed that the laws in the Bible were for moral purposes: telling us what’s right and wrong. But the more I read some of the laws in the Old Testament, the more I question that stance.

It seems to me that God gives two different types of laws: Moral and Governmental. Moral laws would be those like the ten commandments where God says “Thou Shall Not Kill.” That law is not saying anything about getting punished for kiling someone… it’s just saying “Don’t do it ’cause it’s wrong.”

Governmental laws, on the other hand, are laws like “If you have a slave that you gave a wife to, then after 7 years, you have to let the slave go, but not necessarily his wife, and the slave can stay if he wants.” That seems a lot less like it’s telling us what’s right and wrong, and more like it’s telling the Isrealites what the laws are.

Any time you have a group of sinful people together (*ahem* any of us), there must be rules about how to conduct ourselves so that life is somewhat fair and nobody gets hurt. The speed limit is one of those laws. Is it morally wrong to drive a motorized vehicle at more than 90 miles per hour? No… but if everyone were allowed to do that, there would be a lot of accidental wrecks that caused a lot of death and damage. Therefore, the speed limit is a governmental law designed to keep us safe (By the way, I believe it is morally wrong to break the law, as per the beginning of Romans chapter 13, but that’s another story).

Until Saul was annointed king in Israel, their form of government was a Theocracy. Literally a government where the person in charge is God. Therefore, the government (God), had to make rules that weren’t necessarily based on morals, but were designed to keep people safe and settle disputes. In fact, in the last couple centuries, a lot of the “silly” laws in the old testament (Like not combining meat and dairy) have been found to be a good idea for overall health and wellness. So is it morally wrong to eat meat and cheese together? I have no idea. This post is more about asking questions than answering them.

I guess I believe that there is a difference between the moral and governmental laws in the Bible. The main difference, I think, would be their longevity. Several of the laws for the nation of Israel are made obsolete by other laws that our government has in place, and rightly so. But there are moral laws in the Bible that our government can never replace or modify, because they are based on what is right and wrong, and the nature of God. And since God is unchanging, those basic moral laws are also unchanging.

Banana Double-Suicide

February 18th, 2009

Banana Double Suicide
I’m not sure what got into them… but I guess they’d just had enough. Poor little guys…

Stevish DataBase

January 31st, 2009

Or SDB for short.

I’ve begun (ok, I have more than 100 hours in it) to design a secure online database program (in PHP) for a new mission organization. I originally thought that it would be a quick and painless thing, but as security is an issue, and I want it to generate pretty PDF documents as reports, it’s turned in to quite a job. But I have learned a ton from it! Among other things, I have learned:

  • All about having a user login system, and what it takes to make it somewhat secure
  • A new way of storing information that gets passed from script to script (like all the variables that make up the huge form the user just filled out, so they can go back and edit it instead of starting over) which uses a (semi) temporary MySQL table
  • All about encryption, including symmetric and asymmetric uses (including how to use GnuPG from the command line AND from php)
  • A bit about compressing files and creating ZIP archives
  • Why custom software costs so frickin much!

Along the way, however, I picked up another job! The person who is funding this whole project wants me to adapt it to be used in a different (albeit similar) institution. So that got me thinking: What else could I do with all this hard work?

I’ve decided that after I get the two databases set up, I will undertake the project of making it more customizable, and release it as an open source project. In the past few years I have benefited immensely from the open source community, and this could be my chance to give something back! If anyone reading this would like to contribute to this plan (by helping me adapt the code so it’s more easily installable, or helping me form the legal documentation that needs to accompany a piece of open source software, or anything else you can think of), feel free to drop me a line. I doubt if I’ll turn away any help.

Now, after saying all that, it’s quite possible that (especially without help) this project will fizzle out long before completion, but I’d like to think that I could stick with it for a while. I do enjoy coding for a purpose, and this is one of the most admirable purposes to which I’ve ever employed my coding efforts.

I’m sure I’ll let you know how it goes. 🙂

Something about Election day

November 4th, 2008

Even though I’ve already voted before today, there’s still something about election day. Something that inspires hope. Something that tells me something good is coming… something different.

I’m talking, of course, about political commercials. After today, they’ll finally be gone! Even the ones that I agree with are just plain annoying! Who’s with me? Is anyone else looking forward more to the cessation of these political commercials than to the election of a new president?

Roach Coach 2.0

October 22nd, 2008

A few weeks ago I posted about the amazing Mexican food I got from a guy in a vendor’s truck. Later I found out that trucks like that have received the slang term “Roach Coach,” implying that they are dirty and roach infested. Now that is definitely not the case with this particular truck, but nevertheless, I will use the name for the purpose of recognition.

I learned something new about my favorite Mexican Roach Coach: There’s another one! But it’s not a coach at all. It’s actually a restaurant down in Security, CO called La Flor De Jalisco. I can only assume that the food at the store is as good or better than the food from the truck. So some time I’m gonna go down there and check it out, and you can rest assured that I will post about it.

Until then… look for a little hole-in-the-wall place in your neighborhood, and if the food is good, leave a comment and let me know about it! Even if it’s not near Colorado Springs. It’s fun to read about mom and pop establishments.

Couch for sale!

October 20th, 2008

We’re selling our couch. You should buy it.


October 3rd, 2008

Picture yourself inside a Wendy’s in a preppier part of town. In walks a hispanic man, dressed in a way that’s very obviously Mexican. The cashier happens to know a little spanish and he places his order. For a few minutes, you, the other white American, and the hispanic man wait for your food in complete silence. You don’t say anything to him, because you assume he speaks little to no english.

Now picture yourself as the hispanic man. That’s how I felt earlier this week when I visited a small Mexican vendor.

It’s basically just a truck (one that’s built for food vendors) in an empty parking lot. I had driven past it nearly every day and I decided to stop and see how the food was. There were two hispanic men already there waiting for their food. And, as I described above, not a word was said. Why would we try to communicate when all observations indicated that we didn’t speak the same language?

It was an interestin experience to be in the minority, and in the other guys’ comfort zone. The service was understandably lacking, due to the language barrier. But the pork burrito with everything on it was about the best I’ve ever had in my entire life. I guess there have to be compromises.

So if you ever want some good authenticly Mexican food (from people who were probably there recently), you should definitely check this place out. The truck is in Colorado Springs on Union between Palmer Park and Constitution.

Phoned-in Order

September 18th, 2008

I just thought I’d write to let you know I’m using my phone to write this… while listening to music from the phone through stereo headphones… which become a hands free headset when someone calls me. Basically I’m experiencing the opposite of “buyer’s remorse,” and it feels pretty good. Thanks, Ben!