Leap Day

Welcome to the not exactly every four year calendar oddity known as leap day! Just follow these three simple rules:

1 – Add an extra day every four years
2 – Except for years that are divisible by 100
3 – Unless that year is also divisible by 400, in which case you do add the extra day

Turns out that February 29th, 2000 was a special type of leap day that won’t happen again until February 29th, 2400.

Here is the visual version:

For the etymologists in the room check out the word bissextus.

Identical Twins, Not Identical Fingerprints

Turns out there is a physical trait of identical twins that isn’t identical. Fingerprints, here is why:

Because fingerprints are influenced by environmental factors during intrauterine life.

Although very similar, the fingerprints of identical twins are nevertheless unique because they are not completely determined by genetics: they are an example of phenotype, which refers to the physical characteristics of an individual that are determined by the interaction of genes and the environment.

The New York Times covered this back in 2004:

While a fetus is developing, the ridges along these patterns are influenced by a number of factors, including bone growth, pressures within the womb and contact with amniotic fluid.

For all the talk about how no two people have identical fingerprints, I hadn’t thought about the specific case of identical twins. Are there any other physical tests that you can do to tell the difference between identical twins?


Recently Zach Klein mentioned ImportHTML for Google Docs:

So I tried it out on the Supreme Court Nominations page ( on senate.gov ):

=ImportHTML( "http://www.senate.gov/pagelayout/reference/nominations/Nominations.htm", "table", 3 )

I was impressed with the result.

Windows 3.1 Programs Online

If DOS malware isn’t your thing, how about Windows 3.x software? From the announcement on this collection:

We’ve now added over 1,000 programs that run, in your browser, in a Windows 3.1 environment. This includes many games, lots of utilities and business software, and what would best be called “Apps” of the 1990s – programs that did something simple, like provide a calculator or a looping animation, that could be done by an individual or small company to great success.

I’ll suggest one: Wintrek:

Malware Museum

The Internet Archive once again preserves a fascinating bit of computer history, from the MS-DOS era:

The Malware Museum is a collection of malware programs, usually viruses, that were distributed in the 1980s and 1990s on home computers. Once they infected a system, they would sometimes show animation or messages that you had been infected. Through the use of emulations, and additionally removing any destructive routines within the viruses, this collection allows you to experience virus infection of decades ago with safety.

Now be honest, of all the things that you thought might show up in the Archive at some point, was a malware museum really on your list?

Another angle used for evil during that same period were ANSI bombs. Some times it is safer to have fewer features rather than more.

Unmet ARIN

With the free pool of IPv4 addresses empty at ARIN, they’ve setup a waiting list for unmet requests:

When an IPv4 block becomes available, the oldest waiting list request that has specified a minimum acceptable block size equal to or less than the available block will be filled and the request will be removed from the waiting list. ARIN will re-verify the organization’s justified need to make sure nothing with regard to the organization’s justification for resources has materially changed since the original request was approved.

Someone has been holding out for a /15 ( though they’ll accept a /16 ) since 10 Jul 2015.

The Reverse Apple and FBI Conspiracy Theory

By now you’ve no doubt heard something about the FBI getting a court order compelling Apple to help access the iPhone from one of the San Bernardino murders. Apple has publicly opposed the order.

There is no shortage of opinions and articles flying around on who is in the right here. If you are looking for a strange little detour into the conspiracy realm check out Robert Cringely’s take on this: The FBI v. Apple isn’t at all the way you think it is. Lots of lead up to this theory:

So if you are a President who is a lawyer and former teacher of constitutional law and you’ve come over time to see that this idea of secret backdoors into encrypted devices is not really a good idea, but one that’s going to come up again and again pushed by nearly everyone from the other political party (and even a few from your own) wouldn’t right now be the best of all possible times to kinda-sorta fight this fight all the way to the Supreme Court and lose?

Instead of the classic conspiracy theory that the government is secretly up to no good, Cringely goes with the rarely seen reverse conspiracy approach. The government is secretly trying to do something good by leveraging the current judicial dynamics.