Monthly Archives: March 2013

Collected Articles on Code Reconstruction, Katharine Swift, 1976, as announced in CRYPTOLOG

The National Security Agency has declassified a number of issues of CRYPTOLOG, their in-house magazine. Here's an example from 1977, announcing the publication (for anyone with a Top Secret Codeword clearance) of Katharine Swift's "Collected Articles on Code Reconstruction".  "It is hoped that managers as well as book-breakers and programmers, and senior analysts as well as neophytes, will find material that will help each in making his individual contribution on the job."

Screen shot 2013-03-29 at 10.42.31 PM


Michigan 87, Kansas 85 (OT)

Michigan goes on to the Elite 8 in the 2013 NCAA March Madness tournament.

I was watching Twitter and saw this


so I tuned in using TuneIn with just a little bit of overtime left. It helped of course that #goblue was trending on Twitter.

MGoBlog’s postgame “Elite Eight Muppets” celebrates the victory.

March 28, 2013 North Quad flood

North Quad at the U of Michigan had a flood today, causing classes to be cancelled and students to be evacuated from their rooms. There is no estimate of the damage at this time, but it’s extensive.

The University of Michigan School of Information has a flood information page with reschedule and relocate information for classes and talks.

All media inquires about the flooding should be directed to Kelly Cunningham in the UM Public Affairs Office:, 734-936-5190.


Photo by Heidi Skrzypek, UMSI staff

From the Michigan Daily “Flooding forces cancellation of classes in North Quad“:

According to Ken Campbell, North Quad’s maintenance mechanic, a broken joint pipe on the building’s fire suppression system was responsible for the flooding. The break occurred in the East Stairwell on the fourth floor of the building, he said. When the pipe lost pressure, the system automatically turned the water pump on to add pressure, exacerbating the flow from the three-inch pipe.

Campbell estimated that “thousands and thousands” of gallons poured from the pipe before it was turned off 20 minutes later.

From the Nearly 100 students displaced by flooding at University of Michigan’s North Quad

Jeff MacKie-Mason, dean of the U-M School of Information, sent an email to the school community stating that the The Ehrlicher Room in North Quad sustained major damage in the flooding.

“We will not be able to use it for some time, perhaps several months (the ceilings may need to be replaced, walls may need repair, the carpet and our extensive electronics equipment may need replacement),” MacKie-Mason wrote in the email.

From the Ann Arbor Chronicle: nothing.

From the Ann Arbor Journal: nothing.

2 of of 4 isn’t bad.


Related articles

North Quad Community Open House, Thursday March 31, 2011, 3p-6p
And This is Why Ann Arbor Is Obsessed With Itself
Living With Floods: How you can minimize the damage

A slow moving version of Twitter: always hand write your tweets before sending them.

A slow moving version of Twitter: always hand write your tweets before sending them.

Bright idea? Write it down, photograph it, transcribe it, then (and only then) post to the network.

It’s OK to wait quite a long time between initial idea and eventual posting. This also works for blog postings, or at least it should. Twitter happens to make it easy to do in one step for short posts.


How will lunch work on Thursday at a new place? (A2B3 lost its regular restaurant, Eastern Accents, and we’re meeting at Conor O’Neill’s instead.) Caroline is manager.

What do you want to have stored up so that you can respond quickly to something new after having already thought through it at leisure?

How important is the drawing? (Very.)

Can you focus on something long enough to make it worthwhile to construct a lengthy effort to assemble media to support it?


Adam Grant’s book Give and Take. Jerry Davis is interviewed. Look in the March 31 NY Times Magazine.

Suggest it at the Ann Arbor District Library once I get online. It’s too hard to fill out the suggestion form from my teeny tiny phone screen.

Jerry Michalski suggesting a similar piece on “bursting vs plodding” and the benefits of each, written by Steve Pavlina.

I’m listening to electronica by Valdis Krebs.



“I think Buddha is one line of work.”

From ephemeral vacuum particles and the fluctuating speed of light

Do I understand this? No. But this is a blog called Vacuum, and this is my service to that task.

Two forthcoming European Physical Journal D papers challenge established wisdom about the nature of vacuum. In one paper, Marcel Urban from the University of Paris-Sud, located in Orsay, France and his colleagues identified a quantum level mechanism for interpreting vacuum as being filled with pairs of virtual particles with fluctuating energy values. As a result, the inherent characteristics of vacuum, like the speed of light, may not be a constant after all, but fluctuate. Meanwhile, in another study, Gerd Leuchs and Luis L. Sánchez-Soto, from the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Light in Erlangen, Germany, suggest that physical constants, such as the speed of light and the so-called impedance of free space, are indications of the total number of elementary particles in nature. 

Read more at:

Open every tab, close every tab

I'm testing a new theory of work within a tabbed browser, using OneTab to help manage things.

The thought is that at some times I'll be working and opening a lot of tabs to do that work, and that another time I'll be finishing up things and closing tabs down.

The goal of a tab-closing session then is to type something meaningful into every open tab (or to pinboard that tab) and then close it out. When I'm done, there will be no open tabs, and everything will have moved forward just a little bit.

Worth a try!

Outages, cable failures, and postmortems: sources for information

If you, like me, are interested in how systems work and when they fail, here are three good sources to look at from the internet persective on global network behavior.

The outages mailing list (outages at describes itself as follows:

The primary goal of this mailing list ("outages") is for outages-reporting that would apply to failures of major communications infrastructure components having significant traffic-carrying capacity, similar to what FCC provided prior to 9/11 days but they seem to have pulled back due to terrorism concerns. Some also believe that LEC's and IXC's also like this model as they no longer have to air their dirty laundry. Then again, this mailing list is not about making anyone look bad, its all about information sharing and keeping network operators & end users abreast on the situation as close to real-time information as possible in order to assess and respond to major outage such as routing voice/data via different carriers which may directly or indirectly impact us and our customers. A reliable communications network is essential in times of crisis. 

There's always good information about bad news to be found here, with a typical exchange being "I lost some circuits to city X" and the reply "Company Y has a fiber cut in city Z". 

A second excellent source of global routing information about failures and reconfigurations of the global internet is the weblog that's written by the company Renesys. The Renesys Blog has as of this writing details about network connectivity problems to North and South Korea, a fiber cut in the Black Sea that disrupted traffic as far away as Oman (3000+ km away), and details of a submarine cable landing in Cuba. 

Finally – though there is not really a finally in this world where part of the Internet is always under repair – there is a "Postmortems" discussion group on Google Plus where reports come in after the fact of people describing just what went wrong with their complex system and (usually) what they plan to do next to avoid the next round of similar failures. From squirrel-induced cascading power failures to denial of service attacks to runaway email systems, there's a new lesson to be learned from each after-action review of failure.

All of these groups overlap somewhat with the RISKS Digest, one of the oldest mailing lists still around on the internet, that covers risks to the public from computing technology.