Monday, March 24, 2014

Digital Historia Numorum currently offline; need advice

I took my digital copy of Barclay Head's Historia Numorum offline.

I started getting email from my provider that my web site was using large amounts of transfer. I looked at my server's logs, and found hundreds of requests for a valid URL, followed by / and some other part of the web site, like this:

… 1000s more …

I suspect that what is happening is some Bot is downloading a page, seeing my relative URLs to elsewhere on the site (e.g. ../bmc/index.html"), but then throwing away the .. and miscalculating the link as /bmc/index.html. But on my site, anything after a valid filename.html returns the same filename. The Bot thinks it is spidering a giant site but as actually getting the same page over and over.

Anyone know how to get Apache to 404 requests for / ? I have been running this site for ten years. If I can't get it working I will move the whole site to Amazon S3, but I'd rather not take that step this month.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Patents related to ISIS coin authentication

A few weeks ago we linked to information on the Royal Mint's ISIS technology.

A recent thread on links to a patent on Metallic materials with embedded luminescent particles. The abstract:

Formation of an authentication element by deposition of a metal layer with embedded particles on a metal substrate, wherein the embedded particles are configured to convert energy from one wavelength to another. The embedded particles may be upconverters, downconverters, or phosphorescent phosphors, which can be detected and measured with analytical equipment when deposited in the metal layer. A metal substrate may include coinage.

Adam Davis writes

Essentially they are embedding inorganic fluorescent compounds into the metal plating on the coin. When a certain spectrum of light is shone on the coin, these particles absorb that energy and emit a different spectrum. So, depending on the particle they embed, the detector may be as simple as a UV LED and a light sensor at a specific wavelength.

By integrating different ratios of different particles they can differentiate between different coins, for instance.

Further, the patent explains that the plating process generally includes many layers of plating. They can add different mixes at each layer, and thus tell how well-used a coin is, by how many of the upper layers are removed. Aging the coin can be useful to determine when to take it out of circulation before these particles are entirely removed.

This technology can also be used in automotive parts, and technology equipment to defeat counterfeiting. For instance if you replace your iPhone screen with a counterfeit part, unless the counterfeiter goes to the trouble of matching the exact luminescent profile, Apple may be able to detect that you broke your phone's warranty, should Apple choose to use such technology to protect themselves from counterfeit products.

The technology doesn't include any sort of serial number or tracking component, so tracking coins through the system is unlikely, but perhaps other techniques they apply to the coins could be used for that purpose.

Although Mr. Davis doesn't think the coins could be tracked, imagining only measuring the ratios of different particles, it seems possible to scan the entire coin and compare it using a Scale Invarient Feature Transform. An encoding of the particles might be much larger than a serial number, but should easily fit in today's computers.

Friday, March 21, 2014

“This was like a moonshot for us”

Kyle VanHemert describes the US Mint's baseball commemorative for Wired Online.
“This was like a moonshot for us,” says Stephen C. Antonucci, manager of digital development for the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia. “It stretched the bounds of everything we knew about coin development.”
Yes, there will be a half dollar. It will be clad.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Cisco AnyConnect was overwhelming my Mac

Recently my Mac's battery life fell to about an hour. I repaired the problem, but didn't see it reported on the web, so I will post it here so Google can find it.

The Activity Monitor app showed acwebsecagent and ReportCrash using about 15% of the CPU. The Console app showed the messages

3/8/14 10:36:22.543 AM acwebsecagent[1049]: Config : The service only loads an obfuscated configuration file
3/8/14 10:36:22.543 AM acwebsecagent[1049]: ERROR : Failed to load Configuration file
3/8/14 10:36:23.516 AM acvpnagent[75]: 'acwebsecagent' service process , pid 1049, terminated
3/8/14 10:36:25.579 AM ReportCrash[1024]: Saved crash report for acwebsecagent[1052] version ??? to /Library/Logs/DiagnosticReports/acwebsecagent_2014-03-08-103625_....crash

The problem seemed to come from Cisco AnyConnect.

The fix was

sudo /opt/cisco/anyconnect/bin/

I don't know why it worked!

Friday, March 07, 2014

iSIS aRMour

The Royal Mint (UK) has designed a new coin process said to make make forgery impossible.

2 minute video.

The technology, called iSIS, is apparently a special material that can be added to the aRMour technology that electroplates a 25 micron coating on coin blanks. No details on what the material is. A PDF nomination to the International Association of Currency Affairs I found online explained that there will be low speed 'simple iSIS' detectors at point-of-sale (in shops) as well as 'advanced iSIS' high speed detectors in banks.

The Royal Mint's iSIS page.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Seminar in Central Asian and Middle Eastern Numismatics this weekend

Readers might be interested in the Sixth Annual Seminar in Central Asian and Middle Eastern Numismatics at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY this weekend. Hempstead is on Long Island, about 25 miles East of Manhattan. There is a train to Hempstead, but it takes a long time, and I have never taken it. The drive isn't bad.

I went last year and it was great. Very advanced. If you have a chance, go.