Monthly Archive: December 2013

Prime Twins

This is fascinating. Which is funny, considering I got dragged kicking and screaming through the watered down calculus they offer people who aren’t math majors. Of course, that was partly a matter of it being mandated for my major, and partly my not seeing how it was necessary. On the other hand, in high school I almost got moved retroactively into the advanced math program because I was a geometry star in 10th grade. I tend to need to grok some of the principles before I can go on, and if I am disinterested, I won’t work at the nuts and bolts.

I recently taught my nine year old daughter what prime numbers are. She’s in third grade, being introduced to multiplication, except I introduced her to that long ago. She has become more interested in math at school, now that it’s gotten to that, except she’s already toying with division, and at home she and the younger two play with negative numbers and square roots.

What’s particularly interesting here, beside that I did not know there was a concept called twin primes, is that this touches on concepts in addition, that most basic of functions. I love that the solution is by a complete unknown, confusing the establishment by coming out of nowhere.

Then There’s This

NSA spying goes so far as to intercept packages to plant backdoors or other monitoring methods. It’s not enough to be offline, or to be on darknet, or to be on an alternative to the Internet. All unconstitutional, depending on how judges rule, which for all we know could depend on what they have on the judges in question, shades of the speculation regarding the Roberrts contortions on ObamaCare. And that speculation preceded the NSA revelations, and even the IRS scandal. But I digress into the non-technical, non-geek realm, if not into one that should concern us all.

What gets me is trying to picture how they do the physical interception. You order from, say, Dell, who ships it, say, UPS, then somewhere in transit to you the package is intercepted? Whatever is going to done to it happens, then it is inserted back into transit? Without the shipper knowing? Hard to imagine.


I have hundreds of them, and was completely unaware in the mid-nineties that they were, if such was indeed true, already on their way out. I wasn’t seeing signs of that until at least 2000, but when it snowballed, it was over fast. But then, my first PC (as in IBM-compatible) had a 5 1/4″ floppy drive. Have a lot of those around still, too, if nothing like the several hundred – perhaps over a thousand – 3.5″ ones I accumulated. Some have nothing on them, but I bought them a hundred at a time at computer shows in the nineties when I found them at a good price.

All of this was brought to mind by this LudditeCare article, regarding not only the technical problems with ObamaCare, but the roots of the problem: The federal government being slow and creaky at adopting newer technology (NSA being an apparent exception). This is an old story. I’d thought there’d been improvement, but if so, perhaps it hasn’t been enough. Certainly development of the ACA site went more like a traditional technology purchase, rather than more nimbly. For an agency still to use floppies does not surprise me in the least. The biggest problems with them are increasing obsolescence of equipment that can read them, and their size limits. Text files, doc files, even more modest PDF files or graphics might still be viable on floppies in small numbers, but people have forgotten about being efficient with their electrons and magnetized bits.


It’s an awesome program for editing things like HTML, CSS and PHP, for opening text files that aren’t in CR/LF format, and for search functions.

However, I am amused that the spell checker is in British English.