The SCP Foundation and SCP Reports in PDF format

If you’re just after the PDF format SCP Reports, you can download them all with this torrent file. Otherwise, read on for more info. about the SCP Foundation sci-fi!

About The SCP Foundation

I’ve recently started reading some online science fiction known as SCP Reports, from the fictional secret organisation, the SCP Foundation. SCP stands for Secure, Contain, Protect and the foundation works to capture, control and perform research on various anomalous objects, or entities with unusual, perhaps super natural qualities. The SCP Reports are the executive summaries of these objects, their containment procedures, unusual qualities possessed and any and all testing done on these objects.

Sometimes the SCP testing can be non-existent, sometimes it can be amusing or thought provoking, and sometimes it can start a full on series short stories involving multiple dimensions and travel to unknown worlds, in the case of SCP-093. What follows is a general introduction to the SCP Foundation from the SCP Foundation site itself.

SCP artifacts pose a significant threat to global security. Various agencies from around the world operate to maintain human independence from extra-terrestrial, extra-dimensional, and extra-universal threat. In the past humankind has been at the whim of these bizarre artifacts and similar phenomena, but we have now reached a point in history where we can begin to control and contain these defiances of natural law.

You are now working for the SCP Foundation. You have no need to understand how or why we operate. What you do need to understand is how vital your mission is.

Our Goals

  • Observe preternatural phenomena and develop new theories of science based on their observable behavior.
  • Contain potentially dangerous phenomena.
  • Develop safety procedures for dealing with all future phenomena.
  • Observe, detain, and destroy any one or any thing preventing us from accomplishing the above-stated goals.

SCP Reports
One of the most essential functions of the Foundation is to compile and consolidate information about artifacts in our possession, or observed outside of our scope of influence.

Special Containment Procedures are required for each and every observed phenomenon. It is amongst your top priorities to assist the higher-level officers in the research required for the composition of these reports. These reports are the foundation of the Foundation.

Also, it is imperative that these documents never leak to the public. If they are verified and traced back to the source by a party not privy to this information, it could spell disaster for the Foundation and all SCP artifacts currently under our control.

Source: About The SCP Foundation

PDF SCP Reports

For those already familar with the SCP Foundation, I’ve compiled all the available PDF versions of the SCP Reports into a convenient torrent file. Click the link below to download the torrent and please help to seed! 🙂

Download the SCP Reports in PDF format here

Linux, Internet Explorer and Work Motivation

Google Analytics logoThis title sums up the most popular articles on my site over the past 30 days (according to a mix of Google Analytics and Woopra statistics).

Linux posts are by far the most popular. Perhaps this is simply due to the large quantity of Linux related posts I tend to make on this site, although it could be due to the tutorial nature of many of these articles.

Here are the Linux articles which are really ranking highly:

  • How to do connection tunnelling via SSH – A reasonably quick and simple tutorial I wrote that briefly explains what SSH tunnelling is and how to make use of it.
  • Ubuntu’s Indicator Applet – A now relatively old post which I wrote regarding the indicator applet that came as part of Ubuntu 10.04, and aiding in notifying the user of new email or instant messages and allowed easy response and broadcasting of messages via e-mail, instant messaging or social networks.
  • Getting Spotify working in Ubuntu – This post focuses on getting the Windows version of Spotify (a popular streaming music client) working in Ubuntu Linux. This is somewhat irrelevant now however, as Spotify have released a native ‘Linux preview’ version, which tends to work a lot better… ignoring the fact they never made its volume control functional.
  • Avatar server farm – Avatar, the film, which I’m sure most readers have seen was rendered with a massive Linux server farm. The server farm’s main rendering machines all ran a version of the Ubuntu. As Ubuntu is my currently preferred distribution of Linux, I figured I would write an article relating to it.

Regarding Internet Explorer, I wrote about an unexpected security feature in Internet Explorer web browser which replaces locally submitted file paths with the unhelpful ‘C:\\fakepath\\’ string. The ‘motivation’ within this post’s title refers to a motivation in the workplace video I posted quite a while ago.

Work Motivation – Autonomy, Mastery & Purpose

I found this video by RSA Animate really interesting. It describes what motivates us to work and states how, for non-trivial tasks, higher monetary incentives tend to lead to worse performance.

This behaviour is apparently not too anomalous and has been replicated in many locations and by many different professionals in fields such as economics, psychology and sociology. For simple tasks, standard monetary motivators work, but for anything more complex additional monetary motivations do not work as usual. The video suggests one of the ways around this is to pay workers sufficient money such that monetary motivation is not an issue and not relevant.

Once this has been achieved, behavioural science shows that there are three additional factors that improve employee motivations.

  1. Autonomy – The ability to direct the course of one’s own life – the work that is performed.
  2. Self Challenge & Mastery – The overarching desire for people to improve themselves, gain experience and get better at what they enjoy.
  3. Purpose – The reasons you do what you do. Doing tasks merely for money and profit is not too motivating, but doing tasks to make someone’s life better, to make the world better, to have a well defined purpose to your work and to make money – now that is motivating.

Mark Gasson ‘Cyborg’ catches a Computer Virus

Dr Mark Gasson, from the University of Reading has had a virus infected computer chip implanted in his arm. Tests proved this virus could spread to external control systems wirelessly.

The BBC who initially reported this proof-of-concept ‘infection’ stated that Dr Gasson admitted that the test is only proof of concept but believe that there are significantly implications for advanced medical devices. In my opinion, such systems should be incapable of malware infection as a heavily important part of their design. Such real-time systems should not have the necessary capacity to carry and distribute, both in terms of storage space and system capability.

If you are running an (operating) system capable of malware reception* on mission critical systems (and thus required anti-malware measures), such as those used in nuclear power plants or reservoirs to regulate containment, there there is a fundamental problem with this design. This is akin to a school teacher wearing a condom during classes – while this technically provides additional safety, there is obviously something fundamentally wrong with this principle at a more basic level.

* I’m aware there is no system that is 100% secure from malware, but levels of security exist. For example, the mission critical systems discussed here do not require a full Microsoft Windows operating system, nor a full consumer operating system of any kind in fact. Such devices should be self-contained in most cases, with entirely custom code. Lesser mission critical systems may rely on a Linux kernel as the base operating system with the business/operational logic running on bespoke programs running ontop of this base system.

The BBC article and Mark Gasson goes into further details on the  security risks of advanced medical devices which may be subject to malware.

“With the benefits of this type of technology come risks. We may improve ourselves in some way but much like the improvements with other technologies, mobile phones for example, they become vulnerable to risks, such as security problems and computer viruses.”

He also added: “Many people with medical implants also consider them to be integrated into their concept of their body, and so in this context it is appropriate to talk in terms of people themselves being infected by computer viruses.”

However, Dr Gasson predicts that wider use will be made of implanted technology.

“This type of technology has been commercialised in the United States as a type of medical alert bracelet, so that if you’re found unconscious you can be scanned and your medical history brought up.”

We can all hope that security in these heavily critical devices is never designed alongside the principles of many general purpose computers.

Imagine an equivalent of the Storm botnet that, rather than infecting and making zombies of its host computers, infects human medical devices. In fact, that is not even a future I want to consider.

How to uninstall default applications on Nokia N97

Nokia N97 - Uninstalling default applicationsAlthough not all of the default applications on the Nokia N97 can be uninstalled, the following steps show you how to uninstall all the applications you are able to.

  1. Press the menu/applications button (bottom left of the phone).
  2. Tap ‘Settings’
  3. Tap ‘Application mgr.’ (Application Manager)
  4. Tap ‘Installed apps.’ (Installed Applications)
  5. You will then be presented with a list of all installed applications. Select the name of the application you wish to remove.
  6. Tap ‘Options’ and then ‘Uninstall’.
  7. You will be asked for confirmation as to whether or not you are sure you with to remove the application. Tap ‘Yes’ if you are sure.
  8. The application will then be removed. This may take a while, depending on how large the application is. Repeat these steps for all the applications you wish to uninstall/remove.

Note that for some applications, the ‘uninstall’ option is not available. As far as I am aware, this means the software is built into the system software and thus can not be uninstalled from the phone in any normal manner, without going to the extreme of flashing the phone with custom firmware.

SQL Check Constraints not supported in MySQL

I previously wrote about using SQL check constraints in MySQL. It seems however that the MySQL relational database management system (RDBMS) does not actually support the fundamental verification used by check constraints in other RDBMSs. This means that although you can add check constraints to tables without issue, they are not validated and data is inserted or updated.

The latest MySQL documentation (5.5) discretly mentions the fact these constraints are unfortunately not supported.

  • The UNIQUE and PRIMARY KEY information is about the same as what you get from the Key_name field in the output from SHOW INDEX when the Non_unique field is 0.
  • The CONSTRAINT_TYPE column can contain one of these values: UNIQUE, PRIMARY KEY, FOREIGN KEY, CHECK. This is a CHAR (not ENUM) column. The CHECK value is not available until we support CHECK.

Take special note of the final line I’ve emboldened. This is quite a shame that this constraint type is not fully supported yet.

Apologies to readers for the implication that this was functional in my previous post, and thanks to the poster of this comment for noticing the discrepancy.

Check constraints, of course, function fine in many other DBMSs, and to that end, the original post on SQL check constraints is still relevant, but sadly not if you are worked with MySQL.

Calculate and Offset your Carbon Emissions

I recently came across an interesting Climate Care website that lets you do you the following to help your environment with ridiculous ease.

  1. Calculate how much carbon your are using, be it in electricity usage, air flights, driving costs or other.
  2. Display the amount of money it would take to offset your measured carbon usage.
  3. Donate said amount to Climate Care so they can put the money towards offsetting your carbon emissions elsewhere with one of their projects.

The image below shows the carbon emissions calculator the website uses.

Carbon Emissions cost offset calculator

I personally think this website is a fantastic way to deal with carbon emissions, by donating a proportional amount of funds to other projects that attempt to compensate for the emissions that are generated. Here are a few quotes regarding climate change, carbon emission offsetting and global warming from the climate change website.

Climate Care logo climate changeWhy should you take action to avoid catastrophic climate change?

Global warming is happening right now in front of our eyes. Our weather is changing. Every one of the hottest 15 years on record has occurred since 1980. There is now huge consensus among scientists that we face serious climate change – we just don’t know what level of severity it will reach or when.

We probably have about 20-30 years left to sort this problem out and we need to spend our efforts and money on actions that deliver the biggest and fastest CO2 reductions possible. We all have a part to play and we all need to work together to spread the understanding of this issue and our determination to tackle climate change. Work out your own ‘reduce and offset’ plan today with our useful reduction tips.

What is climate change?

When fossil fuels and wood are burnt they release greenhouse gases that occur naturally in the atmosphere, making the average temperature around 15°C. Without this protective ‘blanket’ our world would be a much colder -18°C

However, the extra greenhouse gases that humankind has emitted have already significantly altered the composition of the atmosphere, adding to the blanket and increasing the average temperature of the Earth. This is causing human-induced climate change. To stop this spiralling out of control, we must radically reduce emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Effects of climate change

The real impact of climate change remains worryingly uncertain, with consequences for all communities, species and environments across the world. Effects include:

  • Changing weather bringing drought and flooding, affecting drinking water supplies and agriculture.
  • Irreversible loss of many species of plants and animals.
  • Rising sea levels, threatening freshwater supplies because of salt water intrusion.
  • Melting glaciers, threatening freshwater supplies for millions of people who depend on glacier meltwater for their water supply and irrigation.

We will all experience these effects but an appalling injustice of climate change will be that those people in the developing world, who have contributed little towards the problem, are at greatest risk and will be the hardest hit. They have fewer resources for coping with storms, floods, droughts, disease outbreaks, and disruptions to food and water supplies. This is an issue with the welfare of humans at its heart.

What do you think? How at risk are we? Will you be offsetting carbon emissions at all or do you believe the problem is bigger than this?

April Fools’ Day 2010 on the Internet

I recently posted quite a large article on my company blog regarding the various Internet pranks that went on this 1st of April 2010.

Google April Fools’ Day Pranks

Google went a bit heavy on the pranks this year, with each department seeming to produce its own set of pranks.

  • Google Animal Translate - Google have supposedly released an ever so sneaky version of Google Translate that can translate animal noises in to English! This is a mobile application, suprisingly for the Android platform and is (not) available in the Android App Store. Take a look at the video below.

  • Google renames to Topeka – ‘Early last month the mayor of Topeka, Kansas stunned the world by announcing that his city was changing its name to Google. We’ve been wondering ever since how best to honor that moving gesture. Today we are pleased to announce that as of 1AM (Central Daylight Time) April 1st, Google has officially changed our name to Topeka.’
  • Google Annotation Gallery – GAG is an open source libary for Java that allows programmers to easily express their emotions in the code… ‘The Google Annotations Gallery is an exciting new Java open source library that provides a rich set of annotations for developers to express themselves. Do you find the standard Java annotations dry and lackluster? Have you ever resorted to leaving messages to fellow developers with the @Deprecated annotation? Wouldn’t you rather leave a @LOL or @Facepalm instead? If so, then this is the gallery for you.’

ThinkGeek April Fools’ Products

ThinkGeek, a huge online store for geek wear, gadgets and generally geeky products released a few extra special products for April Fools’ day this year. This is very typical of ThinkGeek, but this year’s prank products were quite something.

  • Canned Unicorn Meat – Which is… well, exactly what it says on the tin, apparently.
  • iCade – An arcade machine shaped holder for the new Apple iPad.
  • moodINQ – A programmable electronic Tattoo system
  • Tell Me Your Secrets Bear – A cuddly bear which had a microphone and camera allowing parents to spy on their children and their secrets.

Your April Fools’ Pranks?

What was your favourite April Fools’ Prank this year, either your own or a prank you saw online?