Thursday, March 23, 2006

Prime Numbers

I know there are few that appreciate numbers as much as me. If you're not one of them, stop reading now.

Wikipedia is loaded with information on numbers. I have been focusing lately on prime numbers. Wikipedia lists 59 different "kinds" of prime numbers. A prime fits into a specific category if it is prime and has some other special characteristic.

For example, a prime (i) is a twin prime if (i-2) or (i+2) is also prime. That is, 5 and 7 are twin primes, but 13 and 17 are not.

Another interesting class of primes is "Illegal Primes". Illegal primes are numbers that are prime and also illegal. The web quotes only two numbers to be potentially illegal primes. The numbers could be considered illegal because their binary representation could be deemed illegal.

The example of this is the DVD decrypting program DeCSS. That is, the DeCSS application could be archived (merely to allow for padding, I guess). It's binary code could then be converted to the decimal equivalent of a prime number, thus making the decimal number illegal. (by decimal i mean base-10, not a number with a decimal point.)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Patriot Games

No, not that Clancy novel or movie...introducing, "The Patriot Act Game".

The Patriot Act Game

Eat your heart out, John Ashcroft.

Instead of play money, the game uses Civil Liberties. More often then not, you lose your civil liberty cards (more or less depending on your race) and end up in Jail--err--Guantanamo Bay. The game is very educational.

The game is freely available--the author provides PDFs that you can download and print out. Check out the site for more information.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Cell Phones at the Movies

I just saw yet another article about movie theaters wanting to jam cell phones. For those unfamiliar, this would mean that while in a movie theater employing this technology, your cell phone would have "No Service".

Obviously there are problems with this. First, what if something bad happens? If there is an emergency and people cannot use their cell phones, try not to drown in the flood of lawsuits.

That's probably why jamming devices are illegal.

Other reasons apply to those that responsibly use their cell phones. When a phone is switched to silent, I don't care what you use it for. If you are texting away, checking email, playing Nibbles or whatever--if it isn't distracting from the movie, why should I care?

Finally, there is a better solution. I suggest that theaters, churches, etc. install devices that send out a signal, telling the phones to automatically switch to silent. This would be awesome.

Just imagine...you walk into church and your phone, being smart and sophisticated, silences itself. After you leave church, your phone reverts to your crappy Super Mario Brothers ringer or school fight song. Then, you swing by the theater to see a movie, and the phone silences itself again. Sweet!

Of course this method has its problems, too. First and foremost, this technology doesn't exist. This task would require cooperation among phone makers. Fortunately, the method used to signal the phones does exist in many newer phones, Bluetooth (short range communication).

Of course this solution does not address issues with people who actually talk on their cell phones during a movie. While jamming would work in that case, I think a swift kick to the temple would be better. That's exactly how Chuck Norris would handle the situation, anyway.