Tag Archives: tom scott

Can YouTube run out of Video IDs? Science, Technology & Curiosity 22 MAR 2016

As you would have noticed by now if you regularly visit YouTube in a browser, each and every video has its own identifier, as seen by the string of letters and numbers at the end of every video URL (e.g. ?v=gocwRvLhDf8).

Technology speaker and tinkerer Tom Scott (whose videos I almost always find interesting) poses the question “Will YouTube Ever Run Out Of Video IDs?”, given the fact that last time Youtube mentioned stats, it was something ridiculous like 400 hours worth of content being uploaded per minute!

Theoretically of course you could, but practically it is near impossible. Plus, YouTube lengthened the odds even more in their favour by using base64 numbers as identifiers, which as Tom so succinctly explains, packs a lot of data in a really small string!

So no. Probably not then.
youtube logo

Related Link: Youtube | Tom Scott

What is an Hash Algorithm and What are Hash Collisions? Tech News 29 JUL 2015

Tom Scott, who I think is particularly adept at explaining complex computing concepts in very understandable and relatable ways, joins up with Computerphile to explain what exactly the idea behind hash algorithms are, how they can be used to confirm a file’s transmission for the most part, and what things called hash collisions are.

Great, so just in case you were still using MD5 for something meaningful then, best you move over to something a little more modern, no?

computerphile

Related Link: Youtube

Things to See in Germany: Tropical Islands Resort Travel Attractions 23 JUL 2015

The biggest uninterrupted indoor space on the planet, Tropical Islands Resort is a tropical theme park located in the former Brand-Briesen Airfield in Krausnick, in the district of Dahme-Spreewald in Brandenburg, Germany, 50 kilometres from the southern boundary of Berlin. It is housed in the former CargoLifter airship hangar (known as the Aerium), the biggest free-standing hall in the world. (The hall belonged to the company CargoLifter until its insolvency in 2002.)

tropical islands world's largest indoor waterpark in germany 1

Tropical Islands was built by the Malaysian corporation Tanjong in the former airship hangar known as the Aerium. The hangar was originally designed to protect large airships from the elements. It was purchased by Tanjong on 11 June 2003 for €17.5 million, of which €10 million was a subsidy from the federal state of Brandenburg. The building permit for constructing the theme park inside the hall was granted on 2 February 2004 and Tropical Islands officially opened its doors on 19 December 2004.

tropical islands world's largest indoor waterpark in germany 2

Inside the hall, the air temperature is 26 °C and air humidity is around 64%. Tropical Islands is home to the biggest indoor rainforest in the world, a beach, many tropical plants and a number of swimming pools, bars and restaurants. It is open around the clock, every day of the year.

tropical islands world's largest indoor waterpark in germany 3

On entering the hall, visitors choose between different basic admission options with different prices. Inside the hall, payments are made using an electronic chip wristband. Tropical Islands is divided into two main areas, each with its own admission price: the Tropical Sauna & Spa complex, and the Tropical World. Visitors can move from one area to the other by paying an additional daily charge. Additional charges also apply for areas such as the water slide tower, crazy golf course, African Jungle Lift, evening show and internal accommodation area. The entertainment programme comprises a gala evening show, smaller shows during the day (variety acts, kids’ entertainment) and various events.

tropical islands world's largest indoor waterpark in germany 4

Tropical Islands has a number of different themed areas:

...

How NOT to Store Passwords Tech News 20 JUL 2015

British presenter and tech personality Tom Scott (whom I’m quite fond of featuring here on my little blog thanks to his likable personality and way of clearly and concisely explaining things) joins up with Computerphile to bring this great 10 minute video on how software developers should not be storing passwords.

The fact is, most of us in the trade would probably have implemented pretty much all of these erroneous methods at some point in our careers! (I know that I certainly have)

Definitely worth watching if you are in charge of writing some or other access-controlled system.

Take away points: Passwords should never be encrypted using a two way algorithm. Passwords should be uniquely salted in order to get differing hash values.

Worth remembering!

username password login screen

Related Link: Youtube

Why Google Translate wasn’t particularly useful in Japan Tech News 24 MAY 2015

Ryan and I managed to navigate our way around Japan pretty well over the course of our whirlwind holiday last year.

However, this wasn’t because some useful translating tool like Google Translate was making everything understandable to us, nor more importantly allowing other people to understand us.

No, it was entirely due to the helpful course that big cities have undertaken in an effort to open up Japan to more foreigners – by putting up the romaji (literally Romanization of Japanese characters) versions of names everywhere!

In fact, Google Translate was pretty much completely useless to us over there. (A point made painfully apparent when we tried to converse with Terrance’s new parent-in-laws and after a half hour of trying the tools, resorted to hand gestures, nodding and waving)

Anyway, British presenter and tech personality Tom Scott and Gretchen McCulloch put together this great little video explaining just why it is that computers seem to suck so badly at translation. (Hint, it is not their fault)

Makes sense to me.

translate-bubble-icons

Related Link: Youtube | Tom Scott

Green Screens of Old and Green Screens on the Cheap Science, Technology & Curiosity 08 MAY 2015

If you aren’t aware as to what Green Screen or Chroma key compositing is (which is great if you don’t, because of course, this technique is meant to be seamless), our old friend Wikipedia gives quite a good rundown:

“Chroma key compositing, or chroma keying, is a special effects / post-production technique for compositing (layering) two images or video streams together based on color hues (chroma range). The technique has been used heavily in many fields to remove a background from the subject of a photo or video – particularly the newscasting, motion picture and videogame industries. A color range in the top layer is made transparent, revealing another image behind. The chroma keying technique is commonly used in video production and post-production. This technique is also referred to as color keying, colour-separation overlay, or by various terms for specific color-related variants such as green screen, and blue screen.

Chroma keying can be done with backgrounds of any color that are uniform and distinct, but green and blue backgrounds are more commonly used because they differ most distinctly in hue from most human skin colors. No part of the subject being filmed or photographed may duplicate a color used in the background.”

These days computers and algorithms are the kings of this trick, but of course, this is something that has been done in film long before computers ever became mainstream. British presenter and tech personality Tom Scott produced this well oiled little video explaining some of the technique that those video pioneers relied on in the past to get the Green Screen job done:

Given the advanced state of the technology and multitude of commercially available computer software such as Autodesk Smoke, Final Cut Pro, Pinnacle Studio, Adobe After Effects, these days it is quite possible and in fact relatively easy for the average home computer user to create green screen videos – simply by using the “chromakey” function in conjunction with affordable green screen or blue screen kits.

In fact, as Australian comedian Sam Tucker (of Samtime News) goes on to show, you can do your own green screen pretty easily on the cheap:

Cheap but effective! (In other words, if you are a Youtuber, what are you waiting for!)

woman in high heels and a bikini armed with machine guns in front of a green screen with a fan

Related Link: Tom Scott || Samtime News || Wikipedia

The British Power Plug is actually a damn good Design Science, Technology & Curiosity 22 APR 2015

British presenter and tech personality Tom Scott dives a bit into just why the British plug is considered such a superior and safe design as opposed to some of the other power plugs around the world.

(Pleasingly, some of those features mentioned are also found in South Africa’s Type M plug standard as well – that’s got to count for something, right?)

If you couldn’t be bothered watching the video, here’s the run down as to why the British plug is so good:

Prong Design: Like standard U.S. grounded plugs, the U.K. wall plug has three prongs. But the design of these prongs makes it nearly impossible for you to shock yourself accidentally. Unlike in U.S. plugs, half of each prong is coated in insulation. Because of this, even if a plug is not fully inserted into a socket, touching the exposed part of the prongs can’t give you a shock.

Socket Design: Any kid with a fork or a screwdriver can light his hair on fire in the United States by jamming it into a wall socket. Not so in England, where it would take at least two screwdrivers to manage the same calamitous trick. The U.K. plug is designed so that the grounding prong is slightly longer than the prongs responsible for transferring current. Like a tumbler in a lock, this grounding prong is responsible for “unlocking” the socket, giving access to the more dangerous live and neutral terminals.

Built-In Fuses: During World War II, a copper shortage resulted in the British government putting fuses into every plug, instead of wiring them directly. Although the built-in fuse adds bulk to the U.K. plug design, it’s also safer: In case of an unexpected electrical surge, the fuse simply blows and the electricity shuts off, preventing fires, electrocutions, and other accidents. It also makes U.K. plugs easier to fix.

Circuit Design: Finally, there’s the wiring inside the plug itself. Not only is it extremely intuitive, but it has been thoughtfully designed so that if the plug is tugged and the wiring frays, the live and neutral wires are the first to become disconnected, while the grounding wires—the ones responsible for preventing human electrocution when they come in contact with a circuit—are the last to fray.

british power plug

Clever. Hurts like hell if you step on it though.

Related Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEfP1OKKz_Q