The basis for a great thriller?The Russian military isn't gaining any points for cleverness with the latest fiasco, the sinking of submarine K-159. An obsolete nuclear vessel, it sank Saturday under tow to an Arctic scrapyard, according to this CNN story. The details: "the sub went down in a storm, apparently after rough seas ripped off the pontoons that had been attached to it for towing." Um, if you were towing a submarine to an "Arctic scrapyard" wouldn't you anticipate the possibility of rough seas? But there's more to this story...
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Our friends at SCO? Not!My pal Dee-Ann LeBlanc has posted a really good set of links on her O'Reilly weblog all about the SCO vs. Linux community, IBM, etc etc case. Well worth checking out if you have any interest in this weird and oft-inane legal battle.
My perspective on the issue? I believe it's basically SCO grasping at straws. I was involved with the release of 4.4 BSD (the Berkeley Software Distribution of Unix) and can tell you that we went through extraordinary efforts to ensure that we rewrote every command and kernel module to have them free and clear of the then-restrictive AT&T license. This meant that no-one who had access to AT&T source (System V or SVID) was involved, so we 'black boxed' everything. My contribution? I rewrote hunt the wumpus in the games section. Ah, the glory days. :-)
Following the tracks of the Blaster virus authorAccording to The New York Times article, an 18yo named Jeff Parson was arrested by the FBI and charged with writing and distributing the Blaster.B virus. The article reports that the virus connects back to a system called http://www.t33kid.com/. Well, that wasn't very bright on his part, I gotta say. Pop over to Network Solutions and the record for that particular domain reports...
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The home office scene is wearing thin...After years of working at home, I'm beginning to have some serious focus problems. There's just too much distraction, and even though it's lovely to have about 800sf including a TV/DVD setup, a stereo, and, of course, an entire house right above my head, it's time to change my venue. So as of today I've started a search for a small office space I can rent, or a piece of a larger office I can share in the local area. Once I get that set up, I'll have a challenge ahead of me figuring out how to minimize the cost and maximize the flexibility of a two-computer two-office setup. But there's probably a book or three in that too, isn't there? Hmmm....
Eiffel Tower Removed for CleaningAlright, it's at DisneyWorld's Epcot Center, but still, what a great idea... just pull the Eiffel tower into the back lot and give it a good scrub and painting. Then, voila! It's new again. If you're on the way to Epcot, you'll doubtless notice it's missing, and will continue to be missing until December.
New Desktop Photo PortfolioI've finally had a chance to set something up on my Web site that not only shows off some of the great photographs that I've already taken with my Nikon D100 digital camera, but also generally offers a public photo archive of some of my better landscape and still life work. Please, check out my online portfolio and let me know what you think! Note that any and all of these images also make very good screensaver graphics too!
Keeping up-to-date with my book projectsIf you're interested in my book projects and updates to book-related news topics, please don't forget to occasionally pop over to Dave Taylor's Booktalk weblog, where all things book-related are happening! In the last few days I have answered some interesting reader mail about an HTML puzzle, talk about a new edition of one of my most popular books, and write briefly about some remarkable and exciting new developments at Sun Microsystems that'll impact all Solaris users. Check it out!
Virus what-if...As I delete the bounced message spam from the latest wave of virii claiming to send mail from me, it strikes me that if one of these virus writers ever decides to really push the envelope, it wouldn't be too hard to write what I'll dub a "Mail Multiplier" virus that'd really thrash the network...
Ask yourself this: What if a virus writer spent a few days searching the Web for mailing lists that aren't double opt-in (that is, you send a message to a 'subscribe' address and *poof* you're on the list without any further confirmation of identity) then write a virus that has that list of addresses in its little dataset? Disseminate the virus in the 'usual manner' and every time it finds an address book, it subscribes everyone therein to all the mailing lists it knows about. And then spawns itself to all of those people in the book.
Weblog worth checking out: The Tweney ReportIt turns out that long-time industry analyst Dylan Tweney has seen the weblog light (yeah, I know, that's a bit strong, but bear with me) and stopped his email newsletter The Tweney Report in favor of having it as a movable type-based weblog. Check it out - The Tweney Report - if you have a few minutes to spare. Welcome aboard, Dylan!
Dylan and I have know each other since we both wrote for InfoWorld, a weekly IT publication. We've bounced startup ideas off each other and almost started a company together once or twice...
Bookstore sales: The Harry Potter FactorPublisher's Weekly reports good news from booksellers today, including the following:
"B&N's comparable store sales rose 5.1% in July -- primarily on the strength of Harry Potter -- and 5.6% for the quarter. Comparable store sales even edged up at B. Dalton, rising 0.8% in July and 0.7% for the quarter. Borders had less dramatic growth, with same store sales rising 1.7% at the superstores and 3.7% at Waldenbooks."But the bookstores are quick to say that their sales are not due just to Harry, and, in fact, B&N reports that "deep discounting of the Harry Potter book held down profits."
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Digital cameras come of ageMy wife bought me a lovely birthday present a few weeks ago, a Nikon D100 digital camera. It's a 6.2M pixel single-lens-reflex (SLR) camera on which I've put a Sigma 70-300 zoom lens. When I bought the lens, I didn't realize that the digital SLR has a different focal plane so lens lengths are effectively 1.5x the standard film setting (that is, at a 300mm zoom setting, the camera is actually seeing a 450mm zoom equivalent of a film camera). Since I like zoom lenses because I can jump into the action, this has proven quite a boon!
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And suddenly, my spam is GONE!I've been working towards today for weeks and weeks. First I installed SpamAssassin and spent weeks fine-tuning my rulesets (I have over 1000 custom rules now). Then I installed procmail, which was a lot more difficult than it needed to be because of my having a Verio VPS account (for now). Finally got that working this morning, after having an email black hole for about an hour last night (it's weird to see messages arrive in the log file but not have them written to a file on the server).
And the final step: I am splitting off all my spam messages (typically over 250/day) to a new mailbox, and have created a new POP user account that's just the spam mail I receive. This means that it's not in my regular mailbox and I can finally receive my email without having 90% of it be junk offers. Hurray!
The very last step I took was to create a custom login page on the wonderful Mail2Web service, a free web-based POP mail system. So now whenever I have a few minutes to spare, I can log in there, scan through for any false hits (e.g., mail that was categorized as spam but isn't) and then pull the old 'e-flush lever' on the rest.
I'm a happy guy today!
This is weird....Maybe I should just create an x-rated weblog.... hmmm.... I'm looking through my Google referrals for the intuitive.com Web site and notice that there's not one, but two referrals where they've searched for pantiless on Google and ended up on my Web site! And, go to Google [Warning: explicit entries are matched on that search] and you'll find out, a previous entry in this very weblog turns out to be the #4 match to that search. That puts me ahead of stripteeze.com and thespankingcorner.com, among others. I mean, people pay money for that kind of ranking. It's just ... weird.
Useful tip for Microsoft EntourageI've been struggling with a larger and larger email database since I seem to have a pathological inability to ever delete anything I've sent or received. Last time I checked, my Microsoft Entourage email directory was over 3GB in size, which is darn huge! How do I know that? When I travel, I copy my "Microsoft Office Identity" to my laptop, so I have my entire archive and address book, including all pending mail messages. Simple, but wonderfully useful!
But much more importantly, I figured out why the directory was so enormous and cut down my mail database by over 70% with a simple command...
This stuff's supposed to make our lives easier, right?I have spent the last hour trying to get two colleagues in a Yahoo Instant Messenger chat room at the same time, unsuccessfully. I dutifully downloaded the latest version of their YIM Client for Mac OS X and all I can say is do they beta test these things?? I try to add one of my colleagues as a "friend" and as far as I can tell, clicking "ok" is synonymous with clicking "cancel": nothing happens, no message pops up, no status update, they don't (apparently) get a request of any sort, and I never see a failure message.
After much thrashing, I'm finally in a so-called "conference" room with one of the two of them, and they can't see what I'm typing. This makes ICQ look good, and that's quite an accomplishment. Blech. A pox on the Yahoo IM client for OSX team for wasting my morning!
How do people find a weblog?I've been exploring my blogshares entry (which isn't too bad, my weblog is calculated to have a worth of $37k!) and am quite interested to find that there are lots of people pointing to this site that I don't even know. It's sort of the anti-trackback mechanism, where people point to you, but you don't know about it. Here are a couple of the more interesting ones I found:
There are still some wierd effects of my having more than one blog too, of course, where the link from AP parenting is worth $550 in "blogshare bucks", as is the link from my booktalk site.
A good choice for your outsourcing needsI rarely point to other organizations for what could be construed as competitive work, but it's well worth exploring the talented team at PPI. In particular, note that they've quite a talented team. Is it any wonder it's out of Des Moines, Iowa?
Yet another cool Google siteI've always been curious about what search terms are most popular on Google, and while exploring different avenues for ascertaining that snippet of information, I bumped into the way cool Google zeitgeist page. Well worth visiting, it contains such fascinating snippets as the top ten gaining queries, top ten declining queries, queries by operating system (who'd have thought that Win 98 would still be so popular?), and much more of interest.
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