Serious about cryptanalysis? Learn a programming language!

June 30, 2009
Example of cryptanalytic program written in Perl

Cryptanalytic program written in Perl

I’ve been a computer programmer since the early 70’s, about the time I became enamoured with cryptanalysis.  Writing computer programs to aid my cryptanalytic research has been invaluable to me throughout this entire period.  Sure, I have spent delectable hours solving ACA-type cryptograms by hand.  When I worked on more serious ciphers in university, however, computers have always been invaluable and time-saving. Read the rest of this entry »

No RSS Feed on a Site? No Problem!

May 1, 2009

I have a confession to make: I am a hi-tech late adopter with a high threshold for pain.  So long as I have a low-tech method for performing a necessary task, I’m content to use it, sometimes for years on end.

When I started this blog a few months ago I encountered many sites I wanted to monitor on a regular basis.  For example, I wanted to monitor several pages deep within the NSA web site for changes.  Unfortunately, most of these sites have a common problem: they have no RSS feeds.  So I used the same method I’ve used for years: periodic manual checking.

At some point even I threw up my hands.  The work involved in checking an ever-growing list of sites was becoming too painful.  At that point I searched for, and found, a better and free solution:  It’s changed my life and I’d like to share it with you. defines itself as follows:

At your request, we monitor any website page for text changes. If a change is detected we send you a notification email. We also maintain a log of recent changes to the page and allow you to see the difference between any two versions of the page.

After registering yourself with, monitoring any Web page is simplicity itself.  Select the “monitor a page” option, enter a page address, give it an e-mail address to send notifications to, tweak optional features, and you’re done.  And you can monitor any number of pages to your heart’s content.

When any of your monitored pages change, you will be notified of the exact changes by e-mail.  The service also records the full history of this site, showing you all changes (or inactivity!) over time.

Another great feature is the ability to enable visitors to your web page to register for notification when your page changes.  If your site lacks a built-in RSS feed, if you’re too lazy to maintain one, or if you want to enable non-techie visitors to know when your page changes, just insert some HTML code that provides a simple-to-use interface (see my Chaocipher Clearing House site for such a feature).  You can even tell how many people are currently monitoring your web page.

Although I’m a late adopter, when I finally adopt some technological feature I know I need it and I’m happy with it. has changed my blogging experience, enabling me to concentrate on blogging,   Don’t leave home without it.

NSA/CSS declassified documents

April 7, 2009

The National Security Agency (NSA) and the Central Security Service (CSS) periodically release declassified documents or indexes to these documents to the public.  This is all part of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) which allows for the full or partial disclosure of previously unreleased information and documents controlled by the United States Government.

If cryptology and cryptanalysis are your cup of tea, just browse over to NSA’s Declassification Initiatives web page and dive in.   You’ll need a few hours to do this justice, so plan on returning a few times.

Here are some juicy finds: Read the rest of this entry »