On This Day in 1962...October 29th, 1962, marked the end of the Cuban Missile Crisis, when U.S. President John F. Kennedy stood firm and we forced 2 Nikita Khrushchev, head of the Soviet Union, to withdraw its nuclear-capable missiles from Cuba after fifteen tense days that marked the worst period of the Cold War. There's a terrific summary of what transpired at the Beeb. If you're looking for a film about this period, I found Costners' Thirteen Days quite excellent and gripping.
Google encroaches on Amazon.com territory?As an author, I sure find this sort of news interesting! This is as reported in Publishers Weekly:
"With Amazon getting all the ink for trying to become more like Google, the search-engine company has been doing something perhaps almost as notable: trying to become more like Amazon. For the last few months, Google has been courting publishers, hoping to convince them to turn over book content that could be used in Google's database, say people close to the discussions."What would this mean for me as a content provider? Hopefully yet another venue for selling more books, but if this is all about repurposing content for the benefit of publishers but not the author, well, I can't see that I'm going to be very supportive of this new effort from the team at Google. It'll be interesting to learn more details, won't it?
Help with Fighting Spam / SpamAssassinJust wanted to add a pointer: I've just completed reformatting the Guide to Writing your own Add-On Rules for SpamAssassin to help people who are lucky enough to have access to SpamAssassin learn how to write good rules and maximize the effectiveness of their spam fighting techniques. As a testimonial, I have had wonderful luck with SpamAssassin myself and have to say that it's really saved my sanity, with the 300+ spam I receive daily. Please feel free to link to my document if you have customers or visitors who use this great tool.
Rebuilt photographic portfolio: feedback wantedI've rebuilt my online photography portfolio, which you can find at http://www.intuitive.com/portfolio/. It started out as a couple of scripts thrown together and now it's a fairly sophisticated image display and presentation system. Rather than go on about its technological underpinnings, though, I'd rather invite you to go check it out and see some of my photographs. I'm particularly pleased with the Vail in Autumn series, and think you will be too. Don't forget to click on any of the thumbnails to see much larger images. :-)
Congratulations to Chinese Astronaut Yang LiweiThe last time another nation appeared on the space scene the United States panicked and youthful President John Fitzgerald Kennedy pushed us into a space race and ultimately to the moon. Sputnick started the sequence of events in 1957: suddenly a "Commie" satellite was orbiting overhead, watching us all. Then four scary Cold War years later, in 1961, Soviet Yuri Gagarin became the first man to orbit the Earth (American Alan Shepherd beat him off the Earth, but Shepherd never went above suborbital). At the time, Kennedy said: "all of you have lived through the last four years and have seen the significance of space and the adventures in space, and no one can predict with certainty what the ultimate meaning will be of mastery of space." [ref]
And today we welcome China to space with the successful 21-hour flight of Chinese astronaut Yang Liwei on the Shenzhou V. Fourteen full orbits around the Earth. As the People's Daily says, "Please remember this great and glorious day! October 16, 2003 was the day when the Chinese nation's thousand-year-old dream of flying to heavens came true. Be proud of our motherland! China has become the third country, after Russia and the United States, which has the ability to carry out the manned space flight activity!"
We live in interesting times. Who knows, perhaps the entry of China into the league of space-faring nations will help the United States expand our space program too? Regardless, my congratulations to astronaut Yang Liwei for attaining the dream of a nation!
Good one, Yahoo Groups!Just looking at the source to a spam message and I noticed that Yahoo Groups is now adding a set of headers to help track the origin of spam:
This particular message isn't a spam message, but very interesting data here nonetheless. Check it out, and if you do get any spam through a Yahoo Groups list, include it in your spam report and let's see if they act on it too.X-AntiAbuse: This header was added to track abuse, please include it with any abuse report X-AntiAbuse: Primary Hostname - cpanel2.nocspeed.com X-AntiAbuse: Original Domain - yahoogroups.com X-AntiAbuse: Originator/Caller UID/GID - [32051 552] / [47 12] X-AntiAbuse: Sender Address Domain - cpanel2.nocspeed.com
Free Press Release Distribution: PRWEBIn the past, I've ponied up the $200-$300 per press release to get key announcements about my companies on the news wire, hoping to get a story or two out of the experience. Most recently, I paid for two news releases, one for AnswerSquad, and one for ClickThruStats. The first garnered some good local Colorado coverage, but the latter didn't produce a single blip. Not a phone call, not an editor query, nada. So PR Web is an interesting alternative to explore...
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Hmmm... what's 700km from Pakistan?And in the "good news" department (not!) today Pakistan successfully test-fired a surface-to-surface ballistic missile, the Shaheen-I, according to the Pakistani Daily Times. The Pakistani government public relations service ISPR stated that "Shaheen-I is capable of carrying all types of warheads up to 700 kilometres". That means nukes, in case you're wondering, and, yes, Pakistan is already purported to be a nuclear power.
So what's within 700km miles? According to my estimates, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, China, Nepal and, of course, India. But don't worry, they won't use this new weapon (of course, weapons are made for theoretical research only, right?). Pakistani Major General Shaukat Sultan said "These tests do not have any connection to relations with India... These tests are to meet the technical requirements, that is all." And we're worried about North Korea being a powder keg?
Getting Online at the Magic KingdomI've traveled a fair bit and have used hotel-based "Lodgenet" and similar high-speed net access points, so when I read in All-Ears News, the great Disney newsletter from Deb and gang at the Walt Disney World Information Guide, that Disney was rolling out high-speed Internet access in their resorts across the next 12 months, it caught my eye. However -- and this is the weird thing -- they are apparently going to be requiring that you bring your own Ethernet cable to hook up.
I can just see visiting a Disney memorabilia shop on the Boardwalk or Downtown Disney to browse the souvenir pens, sweatshirts, cars, and... Ethernet cables. And surely there'll be a funny name for them too? Perhaps a "PlutoNet" cable? (after all, you know that the Disney computer store would already have Mickey Mouse's on the shelves, and perhaps even Minnie-USB hubs too...)
Watching the trees torn asunderA few houses down the street the old place was sold a month or two ago, after being part of our neighborhood forever. It's what they call in the real estate business "a scraper", so this week they brought in a big excavator and within no more than about four hours the old house was completely gone. Now they're digging a basement and expanding out the footprint of the house. Interesting to watch.
But this afternoon G- and I went over to watch (he's three, so having an excavator working just down the street is like a glimpse of heaven to him) and saw the heavy equipment shred a beautiful 25-foot maple in full fall colors, then literally pick up and tear the stump out of the ground. Watching this aggressive, destructive method of removing the tree was remarkable. I'm not a full-out tree hugger, but I felt the pain of the tree and was close to tears, watching years of slow growth, springs of hopeful green, summers of beautiful shade and autumns of gold all thrashed, literally pulled apart by the steel maw of the excavator as I'd pull apart a head of broccoli prior to cooking. But there wasn't anything vaguely nourishing about this destruction. I just hope the new house built there is worth it.
It was inevitable...blogspamI finally finish building my spam filtering solution last night, including a custom spam browser, and this morning there are three new comments on my weblog from spammers of various sorts. It's the problem of having a popular software package: movable type is tremendously popular in the blogging world (and with good reason, it's a terrific software package) but that makes it easy for people to write tools that look for, for example, mt-comment.cgi, the default application included with Movable Type for adding comments. Identify that and there's no reason you can't inject comments into a weblog without actually participating in the community itself.
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Interviewed by the Canadian Information Processing SocietyIt's a nice interview and you can certainly learn more about my background and previous professional experiences than on my bio page: go to the CIPS newsletter for the full interview. My thanks to Stephen Ibaraki for his well-edited piece. Makes me sound coherent! :-)
As spam filters get increasingly sophisticatedGeoff Kleinman, an entrepreneur on one of the mailing lists I'm on, shared the results of some research into why his email newsletter wasn't getting through to AOL subscribers. Apparently it wasn't that his ISP was blocked, but that there were certain URLs within the message that were on a blocked list. So his messages vanished without a trace into the big AOL /dev/null bucket. On the one hand this is quite surprising because he runs an opt-in newsletter called DVD Talk and those messages should get through, theoretically.
On the other hand, with my own antispam setup, I have found that I can't just scan headers to identify inappropriate or unsolicited email, so I have > 500 rules checking for URLs, phrases and other constructs within the body of the message to best identify spam. When found, it's all routed into a separate spam mailbox (yes, there's a user called spam on my system. Hormel eat your, um, heart out) and then deleted after a quick check to ensure nothing has been misflagged.
But it's an interesting example of how the corruption of technology - in this case email - causes legitimate businesses to suffer, more than the people pushing the envelope and otherwise subverting the system for their own gain...
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