Deskbank File Format

After looking into the file formats for bank transactions the other day, I was wishing that Westpac had some form of public API to call. When it struck me that one of my own family works on the Westpac DeskBank support team.

So I emailed off asking for information. I got the reply that yes the file format was documented. But no public access was available.

In case anyone is looking at the file format and wanting to understand it better, the support team seem to give the document away, but it can also now be found here.

Google MD5 searches

I have been getting a few search from Google on MD5 like this one, in which I noticed this freshmeat project, by Dave Hope.

So I download the code, and reviewed it. Brute force it correct, almost brute fumble, worst crime against CPUs every where is:

  • Converting the resulting hash to ASCII and using printf for each attempt.

Close runner ups are:

  • Then there is the multiple use of strlen, when you have an outer loop with an integer already holding the length of the string been processed.
  • Doing a string compare on the ASCII result string vs the original.

With those limitations in place, you can safely assume the code will never get past ~9 character passwords, thus you could re-shuffle the code as I did when I did this exact same thing. But publishing this code as a tool seems premature.

While picking on the sins, what with the #include “Functions.c” inside the main function. I can only assume this is yet another useful GCC 3.x feature, but is very ugly. Why not just put three prototypes before main (only one is actually needed) and put the block of code below.

<\Rant> back to work for now…

Well maybe not, just noticed on the English version of that search, that the freshmeat project is the first item, but is also 1 1/2 years old. sigh.

Block BBQ

The fine folks from Computer Concepts Limited held a block BBQ on Wednesday afternoon. It was good weather and a beer and some sausages went down well.

Having driven past their office a few times, it was cool to chat with the director Bruce.

Robert Cringley has had a series of articles (1,2,3 that I found from Rod Drury (nice shirt by the way)) about Google Containers, but the coolest thing was Computer Concepts have this exact thing. They worked out that it was cheaper to build a server room in a 20ft container than build a fire proof server room. It wasn’t completely internally self-contained like the Google idea, but it had external diesel generator and dual air conditioning. It looked really cool, and had glass sliding door behind the normal container doors, so you could see inside.

So we (there where a few of us there) now know what they do: High availability data hosting, server monitoring/maintenance, network and DBA work.

The Inmates Are Running The Asylum

I found it very inspiring. It gave me new vocabulary and mindset for looking at software development, the ideas of Personas and Goals.

For products at work and the products that were developed at ATR, I have seen where both these have been taken into account and not. I find the concepts give me new a framework to hang past success and the lack of these ideas attributable to failures/short-comings.

One thing I’m currently thinking is how to marry the upfront Interaction Design with methodologies like XP, but I think it works. The interaction objectives become the goals of the agile development, compared to features/tasks.

This new perspective has been interesting, already this week I have listened to feature requests not from the usual ‘how much time and effort’ and ‘what are they really asking to-do’ angles, but now also, ‘what is their goal, and how will the feature help in this’. When I stop and think about the personas using our application, what are their goals, I see how badly we are servicing some personas. There is so much more that can be done to assist the user the personas.

So in summary I’d recommend the book to users of software, but more over to developers.

New Dev Toy: HP iPAQ hw6515

Our new HP iPAQ hw6515 arrived today. It’s a great little device.

Very light in the hand vs. the JasJar.

Keyboard that feels usable compared to the iMates PDA2Ks, and the device is not going to break due to sliding the screen to access the keyboard.

Has built-in GPS.

Screen is smaller than JasJar, not even sure of it’s resolution, but it looks nice.

Here a couple of pictures of it as the backup battery charges (the main battery was full already) taken from the JasJar.

The funniest thing I’ve noticed recently with new devices is that you get warnings when the back-up battery gets to level like 25% or 50% saying “The battery needs replacing..” even though it is currently charging. The software need to check what direction the battery level is going. Small issue I know but funny.

HP iPAQ hw6515 from front HP iPAQ hw6515 from side