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Richard Coyne

The cultural, social and spatial implications of computers and pervasive digital media spark my interest ... enjoy architecture, writing, designing, philosophy, coding and media mashups.
Richard Coyne has written 366 posts for Reflections on Technology, Media & Culture

Decode this

Political statements come coded: “I think there’s blame on both sides. I don’t have any doubt about it and you don’t have any doubt about it either.” That was Trump on the white supremacist contingent at the Unite the Right demonstration in Charlottesville this week (with violence resulting in deaths and injury). The statement sounds … Continue reading

An anti-hacker puzzle

Following on from my previous post … Here’s a simple puzzle challenge. The SHA256 hashing algorithm (see earlier post: Immutable data) converts any string of text (integers or letters) into a (near) unique 64 character long string of numbers and letters. Using this algorithm the string “301253” (someone’s birthdate) translates to the string of characters … Continue reading

Why hackers have to work hard

A 4 digit mechanical combination lock is designed so that a person trying to break into your locker (a padlock hacker) would have to try on average 5,000 combinations (104/2). That’s about 2-5 hours work, which is a big investment in time, and by the time the hacker exhausts all iterations he or she may … Continue reading

Immutable data

An application on the exorbin.com website can convert any block of data into a near unique 64 character string of characters. Fun with SHA256 So “abc” converts to ba7816bf8f01cfea414140de5dae2223b00361a396177a9cb410ff61f20015ad My name, “Richard Coyne”, converts to ba7c5c9e90f05540084e798effd0389b60ec98677662017065d34a0b880778a7 Here’s some Shakespeare “To be, or not to be — that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to … Continue reading

Dark web anonymity

I downloaded a bitcoin wallet to my smartphone on 3 July 2017, and filled it with £100 of bitcoin procured via my debit card. The transaction cost £3. A bank transfer would have been free, but I was in a hurry. (With currency fluctuations, and 3 weeks later, my wallet today contains £110.19. So I … Continue reading

The sarcophagus at the end of the Anthropocene

The recent ransomware attack hit some of the monitoring systems at the defunct Chernobyl nuclear power plant. (See Guardian article.) The malware locks the data on your computer and you have to pay $300 in bitcoin to a specified account in order to receive the code that unlocks your computer. As it happens, the malware … Continue reading

Postcard from Chernobyl

Chernobyl is a site of melancholy. It’s not just the grief, the loss, the cost and the risk of extinction. Chernobyl and Pripyat’s melancholy is inscribed in the landscape. Forest takes over the agricultural and industrial ground plane. Apartment blocks stood proud on this stratum of Soviet achievement. But the horizon breaks through, symbol of … Continue reading

Wasting time in the bit economy

One way to demonstrate your wealth is to show how much free time you have. Freed from the drudgery required to keep fed, secure and comfortable, the wealthy have time on their hands to sit around in coffee shops, take long holidays, indulge in unprofitable hobbies, and acquire esoteric skills and affectations that are surplus … Continue reading

Is the Internet really evil?

Vast technological infrastructures rely on global capital. They also sustain it. As wealth is accumulated by the few, the rest are lulled into the role of acquiescent consumers, buying products they don’t need or can’t afford, in order to preserve existing concentrations of capital. Digital systems further exaggerate inequalities, providing new channels for exploitation and … Continue reading

Digital money

Digital money attempts to keep financial transactions reliable and trustworthy without the need for a bank. To achieve this it does two things that computer networks do well: distribute and encrypt. If I create a painting then it’s a one off. If I sell it then I pass on ownership of the painting to the … Continue reading

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