Robert A. Uhl

Identity thieves abusing U.S. mail

Brian Krebs reports that the Secret Service has alerted law enforcement that the U.S. Postal Service’s Informed Delivery is being abused by so-called ‘identity thieves.’ From the first time I read about it, it sounded like a neat idea, but rife with problems. Glad that I held off jumping on the bandwagon. Also of note, ‘identity theft’ is a really bad name for the problem: people aren’t stealing identities so much as financial institutions are performing insufficient identity verification. Read more →

Multi-device end-to-end encryption & identity

I had an idea late last night about how to handle multi-device end-to-end encryption and identity. An issue with end-to-end encryption is how to support multiple devices: I may want to read messages on my laptop, my phone, my desktop and my tablet, but I don’t want a central server to be able to read those messages. This can be handled with encryption: when someone sends me a message, he encrypts it for all of my devices. Read more →

How to write a spelling corrector — in Lisp

Back in 2007 Peter Norvig shared a simple spelling corrector (last updated in 2016); I thought that I’d share my translation into Lisp, with some comments. Norvig’s original article explains the actual algorithm he’s using; I’ll focus on stuff specific to my own version.

I’m definitely not a Lisp wizard (although I’ve been using it for many years), so it’s entirely possible that I’ve messed one thing or another up — I’m glad to receive corrections or comments.

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Towards a dumber smart phone

Nathan Toups has an interesting set of suggestions for a dumber smartphone, intended to retain utility while reducing their potential for addiction. They’re good ideas, but I do have a few quibbles. I think that it’s fine to retain non-addictive entertainment, in order to use the phone with e.g. a Chromecast. Thus it’s okay to have YouTube, Hulu or Netflix, but it’s still good to get rid of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram &c. Read more →

I’m back!

Way back in 2003 I started a blog; I kept at it for nine years, but eventually trailed off and let it expire. Looking back through my archives is a bit embarrassing: I’ve changed a lot in 15 years. But there is some good stuff in there; I’ve decided to separate the wheat from the chaff and repost the bits which are still interesting — and maybe I’ll even get back to blogging some more, mostly on software topics. Read more →