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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

Hong Kong and Shenzhen China

 

 

 

 

 

Following our Japan trip in May 2017 we all returned to Hong Kong, after which Craig and Sonia headed home and Wendy and I headed to Shenzhen in China. 

I have mentioned both these locations as a result of previous travels.  They form what is effectively a single conurbation divided by the Hong Kong/Mainland border and this line also divides the population economically and in terms of population density.

These days there is a great deal of two way traffic between the two.  It's very easy if one has the appropriate passes; and just a little less so for foreign tourists like us.  Australians don't need a visa to Hong Kong but do need one to go into China unless flying through and stopping at certain locations for less than 72 hours.  Getting a visa requires a visit to the Chinese consulate at home or sitting around in a reception room on the Hong Kong side of the border, for about an hour in a ticket-queue, waiting for a (less expensive) temporary visa to be issued.

With documents in hand it's no more difficult than walking from one metro platform to the next, a five minute walk, interrupted in this case by queues at the immigration desks.  Both metros are world class and very similar, with the metro on the Chinese side a little more modern. It's also considerably less expensive. From here you can also take a very fast train to Guangzhou (see our recent visit there on this website) and from there to other major cities in China. 

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Fiction, Recollections & News

The Meaning of Death

 

 

 

 

 

 

'I was recently restored to life after being dead for several hours' 

The truth of this statement depends on the changing and surprisingly imprecise meaning of the word: 'dead'. 

Until the middle of last century a medical person may well have declared me dead.  I was definitely dead by the rules of the day.  I lacked most of the essential 'vital signs' of a living person and the technology that sustained me in their absence was not yet perfected. 

I was no longer breathing; I had no heartbeat; I was limp and unconscious; and I failed to respond to stimuli, like being cut open (as in a post mortem examination) and having my heart sliced into.  Until the middle of the 20th century the next course would have been to call an undertaker; say some comforting words then dispose of my corpse: perhaps at sea if I was travelling (that might be nice); or it in a box in the ground; or by feeding my low-ash coffin into a furnace then collect the dust to deposit or scatter somewhere.

But today we set little store by a pulse or breathing as arbiters of life.  No more listening for a heartbeat or holding a feather to the nose. Now we need to know about the state of the brain and central nervous system.  According to the BMA: '{death} is generally taken to mean the irreversible loss of capacity for consciousness combined with the irreversible loss of capacity to breathe'.  In other words, returning from death depends on the potential of our brain and central nervous system to recover from whatever trauma or disease assails us.

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Opinions and Philosophy

On Hume and Biblical Authority

 

 

2011 marks 300 years since the birth of the great David Hume.  He was perhaps the greatest philosopher ever to write in the English language and on these grounds the ABC recently devoted four programs of The Philosopher’s Zone to his life and work.  You will find several references to him if you search for his name on this website. 

 

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