6 May 2012, by Chris Williams
Welcome to the next in our series on Softwire’s coding challenge! Last time, we discussed the winning answer to the second question. This time round we’ve got a cryptography question for you (although you won’t need to know anything special) – I’ll post the winning answer and some further discussion in a week or so.
Truly Unbreakable Security
- Short summary of the encryption: XOR each byte of the plaintext file with the next byte produced by a new instance of System.Random in C#
- I have linked the source code of the encrypting app as Vernam.zip (NOTE: you do not need to read this)
I would like you to decrypt secret.dat (feel free to unzip it manually first).
To aid you in this, here are the 7 most common “magic numbers” from Wikipedia. These are byte sequences which appear at the start of a file to mark the file format:
CAFEBABE class 47494638 gif FFD8FFE0 jpeg 89504E47 png 4D546864 midi 25504446 pdf 504B0304 zip
As if that weren’t enough, you also get these two enormous hints:
- There are two constructors for System.Random – the default no-args constructor uses Environment.TickCount as a seed
- I rebooted my system less than an hour before encrypting this file
Best of luck with this one, we’ll post the winning solution and the answer in a couple of weeks!
30 April 2012, by Chris Williams
So, in our last speed coding post, we set you the second question in our challenge. Here it is again, just to remind you!
23 April 2012, by Chris Williams
Welcome to the next in our series on Softwire’s coding challenge! Last time, we discussed the winning answer to the first question. Here’s question 2 for you to try, which may require a bit of mathematical knowledge – I’ll post the winning answer and some further discussion in a week or so.
16 April 2012, by Chris Williams
Last time out, we set you the first question from our recent Speed Coding Challenge, giving you the opportunity to answer it yourselves and compare your efforts to our winning answer. Here’s question 1 again, just to remind you what it was!
11 April 2012, by Zoe Cunningham
Not only do we have great developers here at Softwire, but they all have secret talents.
In particular we have a lot of great photographers, from talented amateurs to semi-professionals. When we needed some new artwork to decorate our growing office space, we found a great way to harness this talent, and include everyone in the decision-making process.
9 April 2012, by Chris Williams
Softwire recently hosted their second speed coding challenge, after the inaugural competition proved to be a resounding success. The competition was open to current employees (and recently departed interns) and was designed to give everyone a chance to show off their ability to code solutions to a variety of problems in as short a time as they can!
Over the course of the next few months, I’ll be adding some details of the questions that were asked and discussing the winning answers (as well as announcing the eventual winner). In this post, I’ll explain the format of the night and the scoring system used and will give you the first question, so you can give it a shot yourself!
6 March 2012, by Chris Harris
However, the highlight of the evening was the performances by eight brave Softwire employees, all doing stand-up comedy for the first time! I’ve included a video of the highlights below.
We raised £325 for Mind, so thanks to everyone who came to support, and particularly to the performers: Yemi Olagbaiye, Camilla Watson, Sam Carr, Andy Smart, Zoe Cunningham, Andrew Bisgrove, Tej Birdi and, er, me!
28 February 2012, by Geoff Evans
In 2012, Softwire entered the Sunday Times Best Small Companies to Work For awards for the second time. Our first entry, the previous year, had ranked us at 16th, making us the best small software company to work for in the UK.
Our position was only to be announced on the night when three lucky employees (from right to left: me, Luci Apostolou and Camilla Watson), would have the pleasure of attending the awards ceremony.
We did, however, know our score, which was higher than the previous year’s, though this was not necessarily enough to guarantee we had beaten 16th. Just for fun, we held an auction sweepstake (in aid of WaterAid). The most sought after tickets were those for a finish around 9th place: better than last year.
Those of us at the ceremony were welcomed with champagne before sitting down to a three course meal – with more champagne! – and a few speeches by the powers that be at the Sunday Times followed by the Top 100 countdown. All through this, we kept the office up to date through our Twitter feed and provided live coverage of the Top 100 countdown.
The results exceeded our expectations: Softwire pushed up to 6th, significantly better than the previous year and even better than the sweepstake bidding had predicted. And, for the second year running, the best small software company to work for in the UK!
Top 5 for 2013?
27 February 2012, by Chris Arnott
At Softwire, we’re keen to keep our employees happy and an important part of that is finding out what they want. One method we use in order to gauge employee feelings about various aspects of the company is to hold dinner forums.
A dinner forum is a casual event where seven or eight employees discuss the company over a meal, which the company pays for. Attendance is optional, but everyone is encouraged to go about once every couple of years.
I recently attended my first dinner forum, where 8 of us had a meal at Pizza Express in Kentish Town. The questions asked at the forum were all related to the company, but covered a wide range of topics, from people’s views on the recent company Christmas events to more abstract ideas like “What if the 8 of us started a software company? How would we run it? What would we do differently?”
30 December 2011, by Dan Corder
At Softwire we’re lucky in that we celebrate Christmas twice each year. Once with a very long lunch just for employees, and once with a slightly more sophisticated evening meal to which we can invite guests.
Here’s a peek into what we get up to at these events. Merry Christmas!