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So, I visited two of the holiest sites in cryptography (as well as… - nil.enroll(aetheric_username, quantum_class_id)
yljatlhQo'! QIch lo'laltbebej!
adric
adric

So, I visited two of the holiest sites in cryptography (as well
as philology and computer science) this weekend.



    Brit
  • Egypt

    • alot of dead people and their grave goods

    • information on hieroglyphics, and later writings
      (demotic? )

    • the Rosetta Stone, proof the hieroglyphs
      were language and greatest crib in ancient language (argue?)



  • Celtic Britain

  • Roman Britain

  • Medievil(sp) Europe

  • Reading Room

    • a fantastic library in a huge dome-topped atrium
      building in the middle of the Great Courtyard

    • primary collection is accessible to the public:
      just find and sit down to read

    • a few (Dell) workstations running the museum's
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<p>So, I visited two of the holiest sites in cryptography (as well
as philology and computer science) this weekend.</p>

<ul>Brit
<li>Egypt
<ul>
<li>alot of dead people and their grave goods</li>
<li>information on hieroglyphics, and later writings
(demotic? )</li>
<li>the <b>Rosetta Stone</b>, proof the hieroglyphs
were language and greatest crib in ancient language (argue?)</li>
</ul>
</li>
<li>Celtic Britain</li>
<li>Roman Britain</li>
<li>Medievil(sp) Europe</li>
<li>Reading Room
<ul>
<li>a fantastic library in a huge dome-topped atrium
building in the middle of the Great Courtyard</li>
<li>primary collection is accessible to the public:
just find and sit down to read</li>
<li>a few (Dell) workstations running the museum's
<a
href="http://www.thebritishmuseum.ac.uk/compass/"">
COMPASS</a> system and library catalog</li>
<li>I found the linguistics section :)</li>
<li>I read the first chapter or so of:
<dl>
<dt>The Decipherment of Linear B</dt>
<dd>John Chadwick's description of the
completely insane way Linear B was cracked (by
??).
Insprirational and informative to philologists
and cryppies alike.
ISBN 0-521-39830-4</dd>
<dt>Reading the Past: Cuneiform to Alphabet</dt>
<dd>An anthology collecting the books
Cuneiform, Egyptian Hieroglyphs, Linear B &amp;
Related Scripts, The Early Alphabet, Greek
Inscriptions, and Etruscan
ISBN 0-7141-8077-7 (oop!)</dt>
<dt>Chinese</dt>
<dd>The RtP Chinese book, too new for the
anthology, which also left out Mathematics &amp;
Measurement, Maya Glyphs, and Runes.
Explains what SMC is and how many "dialects" are
still commonly used with a handy map.
Explained tonal system and started to
unravel kanji design in respect to
homonyms.</dd>
</dl>
</li>
<li>The museum bookshop (around behind the library) had
the RtP: Linear B, Cuneiform and Chinese books, but I
was informed that the RtP anthollogy is out of print and no
consideration of another run is being made of yet.</li>
<li>A historical bookshop had the anthology in stock,
but I couldn't afford it this weekend. I'd like to go
back for it. It is a fantastic book, and she had it for
13 GBP, only 2 quid more than the cover price..</li>
</li>
</ul>

<p>On Sunday, I again managed to get up at noon and rush off to the
train station. Almost three hours later I was at
<a href="http://www.bletchleypark.org.uk">Bletchley Park</a>, base of
the British cryptographers and mathematicans who broke the ENIGMA
machine cypher, thus ensuring Allied victory in World War Two (and
inventing computers and computer science as we know them in the
process).</p>
<ul>
<li>ENIGMA machines, including one to beat on</li>
<li>an exhibit based around the recovered Abwehr Enigma, it's
theft, ransom, oddness, and recovery</li>
<li>the Bombes, cryptanalytic computers (think brute force)</li>
<li>Colossus, the first electronic computer (good sized
room all to hisself, still being worked on / reassembled )</li>
<li>the <a href="http://www.retrobeep.com">Retro Computer Museum
at BP</a>, whose displayed collection includes:
<ul>
<li>PDP-8 and PDP-11</li>
<li>Vaxen</li>
<li>teletypes and print terminals</li>
<li>Sinclair z-80s</li>
<li>TRS-80</li>
<li>Apple II, Lisa</li>
<li>Mac 128k, SE, II, LC II, Quadra</li>
<li>numerous early TV display machines from passed on
OEMs</li>
<li>Atari ST</li>
<li>Acorn workstations</li>
<li>an early Sun workstation</li>
<li>an early portable (luggable)</li>
</ul>
</li>
</ul>
<p>I geeked around with the tech in the retrobeep museum, and
quite earnestly offered to help network and web-ify the kit that could
be. I tried to emphasize how it could be done with discarded hardware,
noting the firewalls and servers I build out of 386 and 486 class
machines (We commiserated about obsolecence.) I hope he / they contact
me, but I doubt it :( They don't yet have an Internet connection to the
museum yet (*gasp*). Until they get that I won't be much help, but once
they're on, I can do a lot of useful things remotely (...).</p>

<p>I had tea in the Crypto Cafe (!), and I managed to buy an
Enigma @ BP bookmark (1.25 GBP) before walking back down to
the rail station. (In my exuberance to investigate the
bombe running on a small workstation in the crypto museum, I
missed the flyby of some WW II era fighters (although I did hear
the air-raid siren and the planes passing over). I had thought
that it was the Polish doing the flyby, as this weekend was some
kind of big deal for them (Polish cryppies and mathematicans
made the first break in German Enigma traffic, allowing all the
work at Bletchley). I later heard there was a Spitfire in the
mix. Oh well, I got to twist rotors and beat on the keys of an
actual Enigma machine!</p>

<p>Recap: the Rosetta Stone, quite as big as crib as any diplomat's
enciphered transmission of local news paper stories (Yes, they actaully
do that. Look at the Egyptian campaign of WWII around El-Alamein, if
memory serves..) <br>)
and Bletchley Park, where the first electric and electronic computers
(specifically, Colossus is the first programmable digital computer)
were built to crack a machine cipher called Enigma, two of cryptology's (et al) greatest
shrines.</p>
<p>And last night I read through the introduction and first two lessons
of the self-guided Quenya (cwen-ya) [Elvish] course, after glancing
over <ljuser=conlangs> and seeing about a dozen new (con) languages (!).
(Link to conlangs LJ, then to conlangs geocities (ich) site,
bottom left for <em>i quenya</em> [the Elvish]). I got an MP3 of
J. R. R. Tolkein reading an Elvish poem, but I haven't gotten to hear it
yet (I emailed it to m'self).</p>
<br><br>
<p>adric, roehampton.ac.uk, 22:27 14 July 2002</p>
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