*be sceptical - take nothing for granted!
Unless otherwise indicated all photos © Richard McKie 2005 - 2019

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With the extraordinary revelations coming out of England’s regarding ‘The News of the World’, personal privacy had suddenly hit the headlines; at least in the non-Murdock papers.  

But of more concern than having one’s telephone tapped, is the risk of having one’s computer tapped.  Private papers, photographs and other files as well as your bank accounts and other ecommerce connections are particularly vulnerable to anyone with direct or remote access to our computers and/or personal devices.           

How might we prevent a ‘private investigator’, ‘investigative journalist’, ‘hacker’ or other criminal getting access to our files and invading our privacy?    

And how secure is the Internet that most of us use everyday?

 

 

 

 

Over the years I have written many small applications and utilities.

 

In order of sophistication these include:

  • Simple HTML web pages
  • Command line scripted utilities and batch (BAT) files
  • Embedded Java code in web pages
  • Word and Excel macros typically written in Visual Basic for Applications VBA
  • Simple databases with VBA or Visual Basic (VB) VB frontends
  • Database related SQL queries batch data manipulators, templates and structures
  • Simple stand-alone utilities in in VB
  • Windows utilities written in plain C++ or using the Microsoft Foundation Classes (MFC)
  • Fully featured relational databases using SQL Server and VB
  • Complex applications written in C++

 

Some examples include:

  • Automatic footers and metadata updater code for Word and Excel; optionally to bring up a dialog to ensure file naming conforms to a standard.
  • A utility to process business financial data to reveal a variety of comparable ratios indicative of business health.
  • An applications to change registry settings and to install and run files on desktops and servers across a network.
  • A library (DLL) of simple encryption routines that add no overhead (don't change the file size) that can be used on any file; or encrypt in URL friendly characters to secure URL strings sent to web pages.
  • Several applications based around this library that can easily be called by applications written in languages other than C (VB, VBA, Java, C# etc).
  • File manipulation software for archiving, file moving and general file management; providing scripted batch processing archiving and reporting.

 

I'm happy to provide more information on any of these on applications or tools.  Use the contact facility on this website.


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Travel

Cambodia and Vietnam

 

 

 In April 2010 we travelled to the previous French territories of Cambodia and Vietnam: ‘French Indochina’, as they had been called when I started school; until 1954. Since then many things have changed.  But of course, this has been a region of change for tens of thousands of years. Our trip ‘filled in’ areas of the map between our previous trips to India and China and did not disappoint.  There is certainly a sense in which Indochina is a blend of China and India; with differences tangential to both. Both have recovered from recent conflicts of which there is still evidence everywhere, like the smell of gunpowder after fireworks.

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Fiction, Recollections & News

Chappaquiddick

 

 

 

'Teddy, Teddy, I'm pregnant!
Never mind Mary Jo. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.'

 


So went the joke created by my friend Brian in 1969 - at least he was certainly the originator among our circle of friends.

The joke was amusingly current throughout 1970's as Teddy Kennedy again stood for the Senate and made later headlines. It got a another good run a decade later when Teddy decided to run against the incumbent President Jimmy Carter for the Democratic Presidential nomination.

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Opinions and Philosophy

Climate Change - a Myth?

 

 

 

Back in 2015 a number of friends and acquaintances told me that Climate Change is a myth.

Half a decade on and some still hold that view.  So here I've republished a slightly longer version of the same article.

Obviously the doubters are talking about 'Anthropogenic Global Warming', not disclaiming actual changes to the climate.  For those of us of a 'certain age' our own experience is sufficient to be quite sure of that the climate is continuously changing. During our lifetimes the climate has been anything but constant.  Else what is drought and flood relief about?  And the ski seasons have definitely been variable. 

Beyond our direct experience everyone, including Greta Thunberg, has to rely on others: parents; teachers; books; and so on.

Some things confirm what we are told others do not. So I like to let the grandchildren play with my microscope to see for themselves. Similarly, the existence and complex functioning of your mobile phone confirms much of modern physics in a single device and quite a bit of chemistry too. But it's existence is a bit ambivalent on the accuracy of ancient climate history. So for that I must rely on the reports of scientists who have themselves examined ice cores or tree rings or sea level records or other physical evidence that can be dated.

So I'm prepared to believe aspects of quantum theory and I'm prepared to believe the scientists who have determined sea levels showing that fourteen or fifteen thousand years ago a hypothetical Australian could walk from Hobart to New Guinea or an Irishman all the way from Galway to Denpasar in Bali.  Indeed it now seems likely that our Denisovan cousins/ancestors did exactly that during a cold snap around 65,000 years ago. Yet I'm a bit sceptical when it comes to the attributes of the god Ganesha or the efficacy of prayers to St Anthony.

 

Changing sea levels during the past 20,000 years
 Source Wikipedia: Early Human Migration & Sea Level change

 

It seems to me that this rise has not stopped.  During my lifetime the average sea level in Sydney Harbour has risen by nearly a foot, in keeping with long term trends.  More water in the Harbour on average obviously has temperature and therefore microclimate implications.  There are thousands of well documented examples of changes like this that have climate impacts.

But like the tides there is great variability that masks the underlying trends.   For example 2014 was a record warm year in Sydney.  But in mid 2015, when climate scepticism was at a peak, we were going through the longest cold spell in 45 years.  It snowed in Queensland!  Now in 2019 we, like California, have high temperatures; little rain; and the worst bushfires ever.

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