Ancient and Modern (aka “Digital Printouts” and Writing Secure Systems)

Ancient and Modern (aka

Digital Printouts.
I often find it funny to use the old reflex camera with films, but I mostly use it as if it was a digital one: I make many shots, some are good some are bad – I don’t bother printing them, I just let it develop and I scan the pictures I like from the film (several ones are even posted here this way).
I have even been talking about this with fellow flickerer’s:…

On the opposite, it often happens that I want to print some photos made with the digital camera. So I take them to the shop on the Compact Flash, or more often on a USB pen drive.

Today, tough, something strange happened: the machine they use to print digital photos (some very big professional system for printing on photographic paper with a proprietary application which manages it) hanged while it was trying to load this one photo which was on the USB pendrive.

The guy at the shop got panicked: he said a week earlier a guy got the machine infected with a Virus through his USB pen, and he had to stop working for three days, spend a lot of money to get the system reinstalled…

I tried to tell him to close the application but he did not even get what I was talking about. He was saying that the system was not responsive… I was pretty sure the system WAS responsive, it was just the APPLICATION which was hanging, and since it looked like an NT-based system I tried to guide him through CTRL+ALT+DEL, to start “Task Manager”, kill the application (this whole procedure took several minutes, and I had to show him which keys I was talking about as he was abel to find “ALT” but he had never hear of CTRL, left alone “DEL”). It was a Windows2000 Professional… so I wondered how did he logged in if he did not know that key combination….. I asked how did he get in when he started the machine…. “it opens automatically” he said. I see. I though it must be configured for autologon then. After killing the application he asked “how do I get out of this now??” “This” being Windows Explorer… I mean, the desktop. I pulled out my USB pendrive he was afraid of, I helped him reboot. He was nervous and he said it took much longer than normal to start up (I don’t believe ONE word of it, it just took much less time than my laptop with Vista takes to start up… but he was worried and that makes one anxious and makes time flow slower). He was afraid and nervous that the “thing” could have been broken somehow by trying to load a JPEG…
NOTHING made him confident about me: I tried to reassure him I am an IT Professional, that I work for Microsoft (unfortunately I did not have my business cards with me today, that would have probably helped!), that I put my hands on much more complex and “missioncritical” systems, that I would not bring him any virus whatsoever and I am paranoid about computer security…
Nothing. Nothing worked to re-assure him that there wasn’t anything to worry about my pen…

While the machine started I saw it doing AutoAdminLogon with Administrator… with a password of TWO characters.
Oh my god!
Then he wonders that he gets viruses from strangers. He runs as Administrator all the time!!!

But then I though and asked… “is there maybe a LIMIT on the SIZE of the file?”. “Of course there is!”.

Since the photo I wanted to print is actually a composition made of two photos pasted together, and each of the original was a 8 Megapixel photo, the resulting is a 16 Megapixel picture, a JPG file of roughly 8 megabytes in size. Well, this days it isn’t much anyway. We nearly have cameras which produce files with that high resolution…
..but if THAT application has a limit… WHY on earth doesn’t it CHECK for the bloody SIZE of the file BEFORE trying to load it ?

I mean, those are professional systems which – he said – cost around 150 THOUSAND of Euros… which they let run with an application which does NOT do any input checking/validation, runs the whole time as Administrator… while letting people bring in their own CD-ROMs, USB pens, flash memory cards….
and they expect it to be safe?

Now the guy was panicked and wouldn’t let me plug my pen in the machine again.

Then he’s keeping his shop closed in the afternoon since it is saturday, and I need that photo (and other ones) printed for tomorrow, because tomorrow it is my grandad’s 91st birthday and I wanted to bring them printed for him and framed as a present!

Morale: I have to find another place to print them in the afternoon, in a rush, because some company sells print systems which are written like crap, which need to run as Administrator and won’t do any input validation in their code. This is one of those situations where a design flaw matters.

Boishakhi Mela in Rome

Bengal Woman 

The start of the new year according to the traditions of Bengal, being welcomed by bengal and indian immigrants in Rome.
Is a great opportunity for integration.
You don’t really see many italians walking around, but there are some who do come and talk.

This is happening in Rome, right now, started last sunday and goes on until the end of the month.

For more information:

These are YOUR Places

Paolo Coelho has written in his last book, “The Zahir”:
“[…] One day, I am going to write a travel guide containing only maps, addresses of hotels, and with the rest of the pages blank. That way people will have to make their own itinerary, to discover for themselves restaurants, monuments, and all the magnificent things that every city has, but which are never mentioned because ‘the history we have been taught’ does not include them under the heading ‘Things you must see’. I have been to Zagreb before. And this fountain does not appear in any of the local tourist guides, but it is far more important to me than anything else I saw here – because it is pretty, because I discovered it by chance, and because it is linked to a story in my life […]”.

When reading this last night I have been thinking that he does not need to write such a guide: this is already happening on the web these days. Right now. You don’t just buy a tourist guide anymore. The Internet can act as a guide. Other people’s comment about places, and their stories, can guide you.
It’s not anymore just buying a guide from some publisher, it is being part of the publication as well. And contributing back what you discover.

This is what happens on 43places, for example. See what the are saying over there: – “These are YOUR places” – “If you’re new to 43 Places you may not realize that all the places on this website have been added by users. Once upon a time, all we had were country names and a few major cities. 43 Places is a community effort where users are actively filling up the site with their favorite spots and the places they want to visit.

Along these lines all of us users can also correct and enhance data on 43 Places […]”

43Places fits perfectly with the example of the tourist guide. But there is more than just a tourist guide. The great news is that the web is becoming an immense platform for sharing stories, experiences, feelings.

Hugh MacLeod describes this aspect (that is: the evolution of the web in the way it lets people and companies interact) on his famous blog:
“[…] Dotcom basically built glorified Yellow Pages. You go, you get the info you need, hopefully you buy something en route. The relationship between the user and the website is impersonal, not unlike the realtionship between the Yellow Pages and its readers. They show, you select. They give, you take.

The architecture of Web 2.0, however, is about people giving away their stuff i.e. “sharing”. Whether its a well-written blog post, or photos uploaded onto Flickr, or videos uploaded onto YouTube, the act of you giving is every bit as important as people other people receiving. This is why the number of blog readers isn’t that much larger than the number of blog writers. Writing is as important as reading. Giving is as important as taking.

Suddenly for the first time in history, the world’s most powerful form of media is about giving, not taking. The implications are vast.[…]”

Amma @ Heathrow airport

Amma @ Heathrow airport

Amma @ Heathrow airport, uploaded by Daniele Muscetta on Flickr.

A coincindence meeting?

I don’t know, but I’ll tell you a story:
I have been in england all week for a training: I left on monday and I came back yesterday (friday).
When I booked my flight to go to england I should have come back with the flight that takes off at 8:00pm. It would have been late (coming back home to midnight) but there was no place in the earlier one (4:40pm). Then my ticket was disappeared. Not “physically”, because it was an electronic ticket. Just its presence in the computer system of Alitalia was vanished. The booking on my name appeared strangely “cancelled”, and both Alitalia and the American Express agency that had booked that for me could not explain me WHAT actually went wrong with my ticket.
It looked like it had been requested, but the process stopped half-way through and never ended, it never spat out my ticket (don’t remind me of the concept of TRANSACTION, please).

So, at the last minute, in order to leave on monday (I *really* wanted to attend this training, and furthermore the hotel WAS booked and I could not cancel it anymore without paying a penalty), I had to buy another ticket at the airport. But at that point there was not place anymore on the evening flight for the return. So I had to take place in the 4:40pm one (hey, wait a minute: wasn’t THAT FULL as well, when I tried to book it myself, earlier ??).

So when I came back, look who’s at the airport.
I was not even sure it was Her, and I did not really dare come much closer. Both because I was afraid I could disturb, and also because I was scared of airport security (you are not supposed to take pictures in airports, I have already been told off other times, and with the current paranoia in London I really did not want to take the chance…).
She was about to travel, and was writing down the text of some bhajan with her followers and her singers and all the other people who travel with Her.
Also a woman, who was working in a shop just in front of this scene, not having any customer in at that moment, was looking at the scene with curiosity but (or at least I thought I could read that in her eyes) without prejudice.
Nice surprise.

PS – If you don’t know who Amma is, please visit or

Time Capsule

Yahoo has done it again. Yet another cool photographic site: Time Capsule.
They show every day that they really GET the community thing. Thumbs up for them.

On a side note, I honestly ignore why do you need to UPLOAD photos there and you can’t just LINK or REFERENCE photos you’ve already uploaded on Flickr (isn’t it a site they bought ?). So I don’t see the effort in any INTEGRATION here. I don’t get why. If I had a photo platform like Flickr I would use its Web API to let registered users just “PASS OVER” some pictures from one site to the other.

But, hey…. regardless… looks really COOL. It really does. More cool than actually USEFUL (it reminds me of Intrusion Detection Systems… but I digress), but that’s how this amount of community things are. It’s not useful for your business, but it is good for your heart.

Some people are doing new things

Playing in a band in Rome ? Want to get the best people to help you record your music ? Some friends of mine have opened a recording studio: Monkey Studio.
Monkey Studio

Also, my dad started leading some turistic trips and excursions with an association of friends. If you want to visit Rome and have a great turist guide who knows what he talks about, give them a try! The association also leads some trips in the countryside, to enjoy the nature.

Old and new demonstrations, War keeps sucking

Peace Demonstration in Amsterdam - 15th february 2003

It was already more than three years ago and they are still fighting.
I can remember it well, the start of this Iraq war, because they attacked on the 20th of March – that is my bday.

The photo is of the huge demonstration that was held in Amsterdam. Actually it was kept in a lot of countries, and they were all huge.
Still they did not listen, they went further, and fought this war anyway, regarless of people’s will. It’s always time to remember.

I get this old memories, also to say that tomorrow it is “Festa della Repubblica” in Italy, and in Rome they want to carry on this idiotic military parade they have been doing for some years now.

But there’s also a counter-demonstraion of people that dislike the military forces and that want PEACE.
Guess which demonstration will be more colourful and HAPPY ?

I’ll try to get there tomorrow and take some photos too. But I am not sure I’ll make it…. my kid has got a basket match first that he cares about. So I’ll go there, and then I’ll try to go to Rome, park *somehow* *somwehere* (it will be madhouse) and catch the “Peace-Parade” that will be already started of course…..

I’ve reached 200 photos on Flickr….

….and now I would LOVE a Pro Account.
Only I am not sure I will actually purchase one. Why ? Because even if it’s cheap, I really have to save every penny or I’ll get covered in debts. I just don’t make it.

So far, just not to loose visibility of the old pictures I’ve posted there, I’ve decided to cross-post the photos that are on Flickr to my MSN Space. Check them out there…. (I am still in the process of posting them, as I write this, so that is not complete yet, but it will eventually be).

Capodanno Bengalese a Roma

Capodanno Bengalese a Roma

Yesterday evening we’ve been to the event that the Bangladesh, Indian, Pakistan, and other Asian people that live in Rome hold every year to celebrate the beginning of their year – according to an old traditional calendar of those places.

It is absolutely fantastic, it was like being in a piece of India inside Rome. People were extremely friendly and the food was delicious.

In case you are in Rome and you’re interested, this still goes on till tomorrow, you can find more information here (in italian):

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