Thursday, August 27, 2009

Fidelity password fail

I called Fidelity customer yesterday and was asked to authenticate by entering my ID and PIN using the phone's keypad. At first my mind was blank - what was my phone PIN? It turns out you use the same user ID and password as you use on

Convenient, yes? The problem is that this means the "secure" password I had chosen, which contained upper and lower-case letters and numbers, was actually being stored by Fidelity as a string on numbers.

For example, suppose your password is "MaGic8" . Using the phone keypad mapping for letters this becomes the number 624428. The sad thing is you can log in to using 624428 as your password. You could also type in "NCHHCU" since this maps to the same numbers.
In this example, there are 4096 (4^6) different passwords that an attacker could enter and that would all allow them access to your account.

Instead of 62 or more possibilities per character (uppercase, lowercase and digits), you're effectively using 10 possibilities per character. That's a drop in entropy of 10 bits (or a factor of 1000) for a 6-character password.

What's odd is that they don't seem to do the same thing for the user ID - typing in the numbers your ID maps to doesn't work.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Ultimate Yuppie Gym

I was amused to see an advert for a new gym in Bellevue that is due to open in the new Bravern building soon. The gym, the first West Coast location in the David Barton Gym chain, makes most five-star hotels look shabby. Not surprisingly, it will share The Bravern with Neiman Marcus (a.k.a. "Needless Markup"), and Microsoft.

Barton was quoted saying , “My new gym will be so inspiring that even techies will start looking like their fantasy characters.” For a look at what the new gym will look like, see the gallery on their website.

The terms "ostentatious" and "poor taste" come to mind, but I'm sure nouveau riche Seattleites will be keen to show off by going to this gym. Just another sign that some people have more money than sense.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Tea at Butchart Gardens

Victoria Trip 2009
Originally uploaded by Mr Snootyhamper
This is the spread *for one person*! Way too much food - we tred to slowly make our way through this over the course of an hour or two, washed down with copious amounts of tea, but alas some things had to go unsampled (like to chocolate truffle).

The ginger and cucumber sandwiches were especially good.

BC Parliament in Victoria

Victoria Trip 2009
Originally uploaded by Mr Snootyhamper
I like the way they light up the building at night!

Victoria Sunset

Victoria Trip 2009
Originally uploaded by Mr Snootyhamper
Here is a nice shot of the sun setting over the inner harbour in Victoria, BC. You can't really tell from the photo, but it was actually raining a bit when we took this.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Good times in Victoria, BC

{A} and I recently went up to Victoria, BC in a seaplane to celebrate our 1-year anniversary.
Here are a few highlights from our trip:

  • We had dinner and brunch at one of our favourite places in Victoria, ReBar. We first went to ReBar on our first Victoria trip several years ago, and their food is as good as always. Their fresh fruit and veggie drinks are also great (try the Sundance Kid!)
  • The Royal BC Museum had an exhbition from the British Museum titled Treasures, that was amazing. Worth the trip just to see this stuff...
  • We got to visit Butchart Gardens (finally!) Summer is definitely the time to go, although I hear the gardens are worth seeing in all the seasons. Some pics from the gardens are in the set on Flickr
  • We had an amazing tea at the gardens. From what I've heard, the tea at the Empress hotel is more expensive and not as good. (I've not been to the Empress myself though). Good things about tea in the Butchart Gardens: you can sit on the veranda and enjoy the garden views, great tea and yummy food, and it's reasonably-priced!
  • This list on pointed us at a few food places, which were all good. Notably...
  • Decent brunch at MoLe (worth another look), a place with lots of veggie options and some yummy smoked tuna eggs benedict.
  • Amazing cocktails and service at Solomon's. These folks take their drinks very seriously and have some fantastic, unique concoctions as well as making a great Sazerac. They also had great food, from tapas-style small plates to some interesting-looking main plates. A large table of chefs was there enjoying a tasting menu (it looked like they were tasting 10 courses!) - apaprently a regular gathering that I'd be happy to try duplicating next time I'm in town.
  • A delicious Italian meal at Pagliacci's with live gypsy/Yiddish music. It looks like this place is a real institution and has been going for decades. A cosy, lively atmosphere and some of the tastiest Italian food I've have had for a while!

Peter Cook and Dudley Moore

I was reminded today of the great comedy duo of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. One of my favourite sketches (which I was sure I had posted here before, but it seems not) is the pub sketch. Here it is: