March 25, 2009

High level languages (don't) byte

My primary development language is Java, which is a pretty good high level language, in that it offers lots of useful features and expansive libraries even if it does take some of the finer control out of your hands.  It's even got some very handy libraries for arbitrarily-large integer and floating point math (i.e. BigInteger and BigDecimal).  All of that put together makes it a pretty handy language for doing math type stuff.

... or so you'd think.  Java lacks one crucial element for doing serious math/crypto work directly: the unsigned byte.  The thing java calls a byte contains signed values in the range from -128 to 127.  This is an amazingly frustrating thing to discover in the midst of attempting to implement any algorithm that requires real bit twiddling.  You can still do it, but you constantly have to work around the fact that you're working with a signed byte, and the fact that Java will refuse to assign it a value like 0xff.  The frustrating thing is that it wouldn't have been hard to add an unsigned byte to Java as a primitive type, but for some reason the Sun guys thought they could do without.  I managed do implement RSA in Java well enough, but I tired rather quickly of trying to do AES with it, and ended up going to MatLab.

Yeah, I know, copout on my part.  It was a class assignment, though, and the language chosen didn't matter, only that the steps were illustrated, and finding MatLab code for AES was trivial.  Next time, though, I'm ready.

Posted by: leoncaruthers at 08:33 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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March 03, 2009

How the auto industry got here

“One of the methods used by statists to destroy capitalism consists in establishing controls that tie a given industry hand and foot, making it unable to solve its problems, then declaring that freedom has failed and stronger controls are necessary.”

—Ayn Rand, 1975

CAFE, crippling taxes, and government-backed organized crime (i.e. UAW), leading right up to now, when articles like this can be written and taken seriously. Deliberate? No, I'm not saying there's a conspiracy here, but damned if it didn't just sorta end up that way.

Posted by: leoncaruthers at 05:36 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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March 02, 2009

Surprising upsides to the population doughnut of Detroit

On a positive note, Detroit's homicide rate dropped 14 percent last year. That prompted mayoral candidate Stanley Christmas to tell the Detroit News recently, "I don't mean to be sarcastic, but there just isn't anyone left to kill."

More here.

Upside? My '02 Altima has a higher blue book value than the median December home sale price for Detroit. This is a city run by democrats for longer than any of its residents has been alive. I'm sure it's just a coincidence that it's an absolute shithole.

Posted by: leoncaruthers at 12:24 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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