Monday, 20 November 2000

Entry #128

Listening to:

Alkan. Preludes, impromptus, études and other piano works. Alkan is a French composer (1813–1888) who wrote for the piano, and was a bit of a recluse. He died when a bookshelf fell on him. (Owning books is a dangerous business: first you get behind in reading them, and then they gang up on you for not paying them enough attention, and then, pfft!) Alkan’s music is very elegant in a Chopin-esque kind of way.

Still reading:

London: portrait of a city. The author credit for this book is compiled by Roger Hudson. The bulk of the text is extracts from various first person accounts and pieces of fiction and poetry about London. It’s a bitty read, but quite an enjoyable one. I’ve just got out of the 17th century, the era of diarist Samuel Pepys. One of his entries says:

I went out to Charing Cross, to see Major-General Harrison hanged, drawn, and quartered; which was done there, he looking as cheerful as any man could do in that condition — 13 October 1660

Harrison was executed for his involvement in the killing of Charles I during the English Civil War, which execution Pepys had also seen.

Calvin, Hobbes and Encryption

The Calvin and Hobbes page has recently changed its look, including the URL you use to get the latest strip. Web-sites change their look a lot more frequently than newspapers, and to about as much overall effect, I’d say. Just give me the content as fast as possible. Of course, it would almost certainly be illegal to try and figure out the URL for the image file of the strip alone, and link to that inside a page of one’s own devising, but it’s sorely tempting at times.

A brief article describing the recent competition to select AES, the son-of-DES, a new standard encryption algorithm in the US. (And of course, if the new algorithm becomes widely deployed in the US, there’s a strong chance it will in the rest of the world too.) One of the final five contenders was partly developed by Ross Anderson, a member of staff at the Computer Lab. It didn’t win though; instead a system developed by two Belgian academics did. The system is called Rijndael, so let’s just hope it continues to be known as that rather than just AES, which is pretty character-less really.