Holidays notwithstanding, I've been in the office all
this week, alternating between the sort of useful but annoying tasks
that are best done in the absence of users, and plain old killing time...
During one of the latter periods I came across a very interesting graph
OS usage percentages, culled from
from Google's visitors. If the figures are accurate, and given Google's
lack of OS affiliation it seems quite likely, then far from an increase in
the numbers of desktop Mac and Linux systems out there, in fact the last
year's data shows no significant growth at all - and maybe even an overall
decline compared to the number of Windows systems!
Oh, yes, and apparently
with the current crop of iBooks, too... What with the melting PowerBooks,
the cracking Cubes, and the recent alleged battery problems with the iPod,
Apple's reputation for high-quality engineering is definitely taking
bit of a beating, these days. Their recent OS releases have been
far from ideal, too, it
seems, with a number of bugs causing
Insanely great, or just insane?
And talking of annoying computer systems... Only three
years after acquiring the company for $2.1 billion,
Sun has closed
down the last of the Cobalt RaQ server appliance product line. As well
as marking the last Cobalt system, this move also finalises their
involvement with Linux and the x86 architecture - all current server
systems will use Sun's own OS and hardware platforms. All is not quite
lost, however, as Sun have apparently released the Cobalt source code, and
it will be interesting to see if the 3rd party
Open Qube initiative produces
anything of use.
It has to be said that I came across the news about
Cobalt's demise when checking for security updates for my own RaQ 4r, and
I was rather annoyed to see that
a further six updates have been released since the last time I
performed this chore back in September. This does leave me scratching my
head, rather, as appliances like the RaQ are supposed to be such simple
systems - all it does is web, ftp, email and some internal housekeeping,
and the hardened, cut-down Linux employed for these basic chores should
surely be mature and stable by now! To find that it has been afflicted by
an additional half dozen assorted buffer overflow vulnerabilities in the
few months since the last batch, is really
rather a shame...
Oh, and when I rebooted after installing the last
patch, the RaQ suddenly decided to scan its disk drives (for no readily
apparent reason - it's on a UPS so is never shut down dirty!) and was
offline for around ten minutes while it slogged through the 80Gb mirror -
glacial, to say the least, compared to the far speedier NTFS disk checks
I'm used to on my Wintel PCs... <sigh>
Elsewhere, camel toes - fast becoming a cult icon, it
Camel Toe Racing
The Camel Toe Song
Rate My Camel Toe
My hunt for an affordable Aliens
Dropship kit continues to be thoroughly fruitless, but just to add insult
to injury I've just come across a spectacular pair of resin models by
Canadian firm SMT.
Made to 1:48 scale, the APC
is almost 8" long, and the matching
dropship is a
staggering 22". The pair would set me back over $230 once shipping charges
were added on, and I have no idea where I'd display models that large, but
they're certainly rather tempting. Must... resist...
Alien Technology store - apparently created mostly to tease
photography - I tried a little of this myself, ages ago, but
the technology has evidently moved on
somewhat since then.
10 adverts America
US won't see - they're a mixed bag, and some of them definitely won't
be missed... But Honda's "Cog"
ad is a real winner, I've always thought.
Meanwhile, in spite of the lacklustre reception given to the recent
Aftermath, fans of the old X-Com
strategy games are keeping the genre very much alive. As well as a
wealth of fan pages, there are now a number of open source re-writes and
3rd party equivalents of the games in various stages of development! Worth
a look are: Project Xenocide,
and Talon. There are
even the embryonic stages of an
version of the original game, which looks like it ought to be rather
So the London Underground system has suffered a
significant reduction in reliability since being part privatised at the
end of last year, according to
a report in the Guardian. Train failures increased by 23 percent in
2003, track problems rose by 20 percent and points failures were up 38
percent, the newspaper said, citing internal London Underground documents.
"Some of these figures are a surprise to me and to
recently appointed chief programmes officer Bob Janowski. "I
thought they would have been better".
So it's nice to see that he has his finger firmly on
the pulse, then...
In general, it's quite obvious that the Public Private
Partnership responsible for managing the London Underground system's
track, rolling stock and infrastructure has had a disastrous first year...
direct opposition to the wishes of both the Mayor and the
imported Transport Commissioner Bob Kiley, the private consortium
behind the PPP was granted 30 year contracts for the management and
maintenance of the tube system. Although Tube Lines and Metronet,
the management groups which took over the network, have so far received
£1.2bn of public money to invest in the infrastructure, at the same time
they have been fined £32m for failing to hit performance targets! Tube
Lines (owned by a consortium of engineering companies, one of which is
chaired by the ex Conservative mayoral candidate and PPP advocate
Steve Norris) has a particularly poor record, failing to reduce delays
on six of the eleven tube lines for which it is responsible.
It all sounds like another massive scam, to me - but
this time there's far more at stake than public money... When
accidents happen on underground rail systems, people usually die, and
giving responsibility for the safety of the system to a greedy corporate,
backed by a greedy government, can only be a bad thing.
Elsewhere, still no signal from Beagle II - but a close
examination of the proposed landing area by the orbiting Mars Global
Surveyor spacecraft has revealed
large crater, previously unknown and possibly hundreds of meters
deep, right in the middle of the targeted landing area! It seems
quite possible that Beagle II has either landed in the depths of the
crater, and so cannot establish line-of-sight radio communication, or has
been damaged or prevented from deploying correctly by the unexpectedly
rough terrain around the crater's rim. The search continues, however, and
a number of extremely
cunning measures are currently under way. I remain pessimistic, but
you never know...
Still no word from
Beagle II, but the Mars
Express spacecraft is
now in orbit around the planet and is now best placed and best
equipped to receive the missing lander's signals. The Beagle II website
gives a timeline of
opportunities for detecting a transmission from the craft over the
next few weeks, and an explanation of how the two systems will attempt to
locate each other. The lander may actually be in perfect working order,
according to the program's directors, but simply have touched down out of
its planned target area, or perhaps not have
opened up fully, or might just be facing in the wrong direction - but
only time will tell, and I have to admit that I'm feeling a touch
pessimistic about the project, now...
Closer to home, the Real vs. Microsoft farce proceeds
slowly through the legal bureaucracy. Nobody seems to have a particularly
high opinion of the orchestrator of the lawsuit,
founder and CEO, Rob Glaser, and I was interested to note that many of
the denizens of the Ars Technica
forums, not a community known for its unconditional love of Windows and
Microsoft in general, are
equally unimpressed by the company's software and policies
as I am... It will be interesting to see how this one
plays out in the courts.
gingerbread PC... How festive!
- in beer, of course!
Apple security flaw patched - yet another cockup for the Cupertino
prima donnas... It has not been a good year for Unix security in general,
it seems, and that applies equally well to Apple now that they're riding
on the Unix train. The sooner that various communities climb down from
their collective high horses and acknowledge that any networked
computer system is inherently insecure, whatever the OS and applications
in use, and will always need careful management and support to prevent
unauthorised access or data loss, the better it will be for the entire
global community of computer users.
So I put
my Father on the Interweb today, with one of my surplus Pentium II
systems to replace his old 486, and Ros and I have spent several hours
trying to cram him full of all the information he'll need to drive the
rather more up-to-date hardware and software systems. It goes against the
grain, but it seemed that for net access the best combination of value and
ease-of-use would be AOL, so I swallowed my geek pride and installed the
software - the first time ever on a computer I've had anything to do with!
I'm sure that there will be a number of confused and confusing support
calls until it all settles in, but he's been using computers (if rather
tentatively) for even longer than I have and I'm sure that won't take too
Meanwhile, there is still complete silence from
Beagle II Mars lander, and in spite of the
comments from the mission controllers the outlook is rather bleak.
NASA's Spirit lander due to touch down in seven days (and their
second vehicle, Opportunity, three weeks after that) the chances of
at least one successful Mars mission are still fairly high. If the
Martians are shooting the spacecraft down, this sudden
barrage of probes will certainly
be keeping them busy!
this make my boobs look crooked?" - not from where I'm standing...
Chinese Laser Cannons - why "cannons", I wonder? It's a highly emotive
term, and I'm sure was deliberately chosen as such...
acquired by Symantec - shouldn't somebody investigate them for
monopolistic practices, these days?
"Open Source" IE
patch is no damn good - you mean... Microsoft were right...?
dancing robots - they still look like Huggy Bear, to
The 21st Century approach to
unwanted christmas presents
- thanks to Downhill Battle,
a worthy organisation campaigning against the RIAA's legal bullying and
Censoring satellite pictures of US government buildings - although
some suggest this does
more harm than good...
Print your own TV screen - just what Ros has been waiting for!
It's been an excellent christmas here at Epicycle,
and we're all stuffed with huge quantities of delicious home-cooked food
and buried under copious christmas presents... One of this year's most
photogenic was a wonderful piece of kinetic sculpture (well, Ok then, a
marble run!) called
Rollerscape. Starting with a framework of interlocking spheres and
struts, one intertwines a double length of thin, flexible plastic tubing
to provide a track for the plastic marbles to negotiate. This is
most complex and ambitious marble run I've seen, and it takes some
thought and some careful fiddling to provide a reliable, interesting
route, but the result is definitely worth it. My second attempt is shown
below - standing about three feet tall, the marbles take over five seconds
to navigate about three meters of trackway.
Mine is the largest of the three sets available, and
comes with two ten metre track tubes and a generous quantity of the struts
and spheres needed for the supporting structure. It's a little short on
some of the components that connect the track to the frame, though, and I
was only able to run the track down around two thirds of the structure
above - I think for the very best results I'm going to need to acquire
some extra parts!
Elsewhere, the European
Space Agency's Mars probe Beagle II is still missing, and
although ESA will be
continuing the search with all available resources, the likelihood is
Red Planet has claimed yet another victim. After
NASA's failures over the last couple of years, and the loss of the
Japanese Nozomi spacecraft only a few weeks ago, that would be a damn
shame - so I'm keeping my fingers crossed...
In the occasional spare moments between fiddling with
computers and fiddling with
airsoft replicas, I also like to
build space models, and as I live in
constant hope of finding the time and energy to resume this hobby again
I've recently been stocking up on eBay. New acquisitions are the
space station, Testor's
UFO, and the
Sulaco spacecraft and
the movie Aliens. To go alongside the latter pair, I would very
much like the matching Colonial Marines
but this one is proving rather harder to track down - at least at a price
I'm prepared to pay!
Halcyon's kits from the Aliens movie are now out
of production (although another company owns the moulds and rights, I
gather, so this may change) and the remaining items are being marketed to
collectors rather than modelling enthusiasts. They're not actually
especially rare at this stage, as a
search on eBay will show an assorted handful of the half dozen
different kits at any one time, but they're being well-hyped and what they
certainly are is expensive! The average closing price on eBay is
currently at least £40, which I find uncomfortably high for a
plastic kit that cost less than a tenner when new only a few years ago -
but having realised that, I'm kicking myself for turning down the first
one I spotted, which I could have had for closer to £30... Many of the
kits are being purchased purely as investments, I'm sure, as a genuine
modeller doesn't usually care if the box is mint and sealed as long
as the contents are intact, and as usual this has lead to both an
artificial shortage and a serious case of inflation - which is not only a
waste, but also rather hard on people like me who actually want to build
I shall keep looking, though, and in the meantime - for
all things to do with Aliens collectibles, the aptly named
Aliens Collection site is a
first rate resource. Some of the full-sized
and hardware they showcase is absolutely marvellous...
is suing Microsoft for one billion dollars, with the usual claim that
the company has
abused its monopoly to gain an unfair advantage in the digital media
It's the same old story, and I'm so fed up with
it now... It seems to be a standard business practice in the IT industry
these days - if your product sucks and your company can't hack it in the
marketplace, blame everything on Microsoft and sue them for
anti-competitive behaviour in the hope of winning big and jumping onto the
gravy train for life.
In the case of Real, thought, this is especially
galling - firstly because as the vast majority of my own digital video
media collection is in their RM format (compared to a tiny proportion in
Microsoft's own WMV format!) it seems impossible that they have
actually failed to achieve the market penetration they need, and secondly
because their bizarre and alarming approach to the design of their media
players means that any genuine failure would quite definitely be of their
If Real made a player that didn't insinuate itself so
far into your PC that it needed to be uninstalled with
Vaseline and a
crowbar; that didn't come with a download manager, a systems agent, a
mini-browser, a radio player, a CD burner, a dedicated advert screen, and
who knows what else; that didn't
constantly display adverts
for it's own products and services, and act as a conduit for extra
3rd-party adware; that didn't
monitor and record your browsing habits and media choices before
sending the information off to god knows where... If they made a file
format that was even slightly open, so that you could use a
player without expressly violating the
format's conditions of use, indeed, if they didn't change the
format every time some 3rd party company even tried to make their
player compatible, and sometimes gratuitously just so that that they can
force an upgrade on their unwilling users... Well, maybe if they hadn't
done all that, people wouldn't
bitch about their player so consistently and
avoid it like the
plague wherever possible, and the company wouldn't be in the economic
doldrums that they apparently believe themselves to be in...
Even the "Lite" version of the current RealOne player
(just like all its predecessors!) that I use carries so much intrusive
bloat that it can bring
a slower PC to its
knees - if it doesn't crash it on the next reboot, of course, which
I've seen happen on a number of occasions. I've worked very hard to
disable everything possible in my own installed copy, and even so I would
much rather do without it completely except that the nearly all of the
online media I want is only available in Real's proprietary format!
Their lawsuit is bullshit.
So the British Board
Censorship Classification is running an open
survey on the levels of sex, violence, drug use, swearing etc portrayed on
UK screens. Censorship in all its forms is something I get pretty steamed
up about, and it's good to see that, in spite of their
wild vacillations over the
last few years, the BBFC is still at least paying lip service to
reflecting the desires of the population they claim to be protecting.
Their series of public meetings a couple of years ago helped towards the
relaxation of the guidelines on sex and nudity in films, and (following
considerable pressure from the invaluable anti-censorship group
FAC among others) the
creation of the R18 certificate, and so I think the survey is well worth
spending a few minutes on - just go to their website and either download
it as a PDF or
fill it out online.
Meanwhile - it's amazing what making a bit of a fuss in
public can do to encourage a company to fulfil their obligations, isn't
it! Only two days after I started making my feelings
known on Area51's
bulletin board rather than in private email, the first part of my
shell-ejecting airsoft replica arrived bright and early this morning. I
was told that it had definitely, positively been sent out ten days ago,
but as the parcel was dated yesterday that obviously wasn't the case.
Still, progress is finally being made, and I'm not going to bother
complaining about that now. Area51 have just announced that they won't be
dealing directly with the public, in future, and I have to say that I
think that's probably for the best...
The replica is a complete paperweight at the moment,
unfortunately, as I'm still without the BBs, shell cases and gas charging
rig (and also the manual and the two extra Bushmaster-style front ends,
one 16" and one 20", to provide some cosmetic variety) but the shells and
charger are promised for early next week so maybe I'll be able to see in
the new year by firing wildly into the air in the traditional manner of
the disaffected around the world. Actually, having watched the scenes that
followed the capture of Saddam Hussein earlier this week, I was struck by
how similarly young men in the Middle East behave when they're both
celebrating and protesting - either occasion seems to demand much shouting
and firing of AK-47s into the air, and on most of the news reports I just
couldn't tell which was which!
Work has been a bit soul-destroying recently, and in an
attempt to distract myself earlier this week, I was browsing at geek site
Tom's Hardware Guide. One of the
features that caught my eye was a
of the ShowCenter, a new multimedia set-top box from well-established
video hardware company
Pinnacle, and a few paragraphs into the article I was already
searching for UK suppliers in
another browser window. I've been interested in the idea of a media server
for a few years, now, and have been tempted by the
Turtle Beach Audiotron among others - but their audio-only
functionality has been too limiting and the ShowCenter's support for
audio, video and still images was just what I had been hoping for.
The ShowCenter doesn't hold any media itself, but acts
as a client to stream music and video from a PC acting as a server. The
server application can deliver video in the common MPEG, DV, Windows Media
and DivX formats, audio in MP3 and WMA formats, and JPEG, PNG and GIF
images. Most of these formats are streamed natively, others are transcoded
into a suitable intermediate format before being sent out to the player.
The onboard 100Mbit wired LAN connection is more than capable of
sufficient bandwidth for the most demanding video formats, but the
optional wireless LAN interface only supports the 11Mbit 802.11b standard
at present, which is definitely inadequate for high-resolution video. It
seems highly likely that 11g cards will be supported by an future firmware
update, but in the meantime I'm perfectly willing to run yet another CAT5
cable to support the wired interface...
Although the device is slim (especially once I'd
removed the rubber feet to squeeze it into an already stuffed hardware
rack) it has a solid, weighty feel - especially surprising when a look
inside the unit reveals mostly empty space! The design is 100% solid
state, with a network interface at one end and an S-Video / RGB television
interface at the other... Somewhere in the middle is Sigma's REALmagic EM
8551 media processor chip, which decodes the audio and video streams and
also displays the user interface. Interestingly, the latter is a standard
web client connecting to a set of PHP scripts running from a cut-down web
server on the host PC system, which suggests that fiddling and tweaking
should be quite easy - well, assuming that one understands PHP, of course,
which unfortunately I don't...
The potential for customisation is probably just as
well, actually, as some investigation of the discussion boards at
AVS Forum and
Pinnacle's own tech support suggests that the neither the firmware or
the server scripts are quite 100%, as yet... Pinnacle have already
responded with a
firmware update, though, and as I gather there is already
a SourceForge group
working on an open source replacement for the entire suite, it looks like
there will be a 3rd-party options available even if the manufacturer
doesn't deliver the goods themselves. [Update: I've just confirmed that
the streaming server for a competing product, the
Neuston Virtuoso MC-500,
will also work with the Pinnacle hardware - and has some definite
A quick test suggests that the basics are working well,
though, so I'll leave the server application indexing my vast collection
of audio and video overnight, and have a more extensive play with it over
the weekend. It has the makings of an interesting and useful new toy, I
think, and as always there's the additional cachet of having one of the
very first units in the UK. :-)
According to an article in the Dayton Daily News, the
US FTC is considering recruiting
an army of 18 year old computer nerds to acts as bounty hunters in the
fight against spammers... As an enterprise mail system administrator I
hate spam and spammers with a passion, but am I alone in finding this idea
rather chilling in itself? The last thing that IT professionals need, I'm
sure, is a task force of spotty e-vigilantes with puffed up self-righteous
egos throwing their weight around from the relative safety of their
Elsewhere, and fortunately quite a long way elsewhere,
a PC case
built from entirely from unwanted AOL CDs. Is there any other kind of AOL
CD, though, having said that?
Hmmm... Not actually
that shoots around corners, per se, but instead a kind of stock
and holder that reaches a pistol out around the corner and allows you to
watch where you're shooting on a little monitor screen... The article
waxes all enthusiastic about how wonderful it is, but it does seem to me
that the practical applications are limited to say the least - and
it costs up to $5000, too, even before you factor in the cost of the
Meanwhile, following their reviews of
self-heating food cans, UK airsoft forum Arnie's Airsoft brings
word of a
self-cooling beer keg - what will those cunning German engineers think
On the subject of airsoft, though, I'm becoming
increasingly exasperated with the failure of
Area51 Airsoft to actually
deliver the shell-ejecting M4 replica I ordered from them
over two months ago. I've had an apparently
endless succession of "it's ready to ship" and "it will be sent
out tomorrow", and at one point I was even given a tracking number
(which the Royal Mail refuses to acknowledge as being valid!) but in spite
of many email messages politely asking for explanations and updates, no
real information is forthcoming and there is still no sign of the replica
some six weeks after the promised delivery date. I'm always very tolerant
when it comes to small, specialist companies, but enough is enough and
I've now lost all patience with this particular one - and I'm obviously
not alone, either, as their
forum at Arnie's is suddenly filling up with unhappy customers,
their attitudes ranging from the angry to the resigned... Enough is
enough, though, and they don't have much more time to sort this out before
I start getting really stroppy. Kate and DeeDee, you have been
The real cost
of christmas revealed - soaring bird prices reflect economic recovery,
says PNC Bank.
Multiple-stage vapour-phase cooling - how does minus 100ºC
Google knuckles under to Sharman's DMCA notice over links to Kazaa
Lite sites... Talk about pots and kettles!
broadband speed testing service, courtesy of UK ISP Nildram.
Coo! Finally, a
company in the UK selling the so-called "Model Gun" replicas from
Japan, the highly realistic shell-ejecting blank firers often used in
movies. I really do prefer something that actually fires a projectile
(target shooting is a bit dull, otherwise), but if I wasn't so keen on
airsoft I'd have a whole rack of these...
And talking of which, this arrived today:
With a metal slide and frame, it's tough enough to take
the high pressure "green gas", and coupled with weighty .36g BBs it's
quite a beastie to shoot, causing serious damage to my heavily reinforced
target holder. It needs a touch of cosmetic work, and the aftermarket
Sheriff sights need a little fiddling (I'm shooting four inches high at
less than ten yards, which is just plain silly!) and as always it won't
really feel like mine until I've stripped it, cleaned it thoroughly
and rebuilt it again... but I already have a soft spot for it and even the
pretty pink Infinity trigger is growing on me. <blush>
[Later] This just in, thanks to Mike - apparently it
was a test message posted to the weather alert service run by
NOAA, the US National Oceanographic
And Atmospheric Administration, before they belatedly noticed that it was
in a publicly accessible area...
NON PRECIPITATION STATEMENT URGENT - WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE KANSAS CITY- PLEASANT HILL MO
1055 AM CST WED DEC 17 2003
UNUSUALLY HOT WEATHER HAS ENTERED THE REGION FOR DECEMBER... AS THE
EARTH HAS LEFT ITS ORBIT AND IS HURTLING TOWARD THE SUN.
ANDREW MO-CLINTON MO
1055 AM CST WED DEC 17 2003
...EXCESSIVE HEAT WATCH IN EFFECT FROM THIS AFTERNOON TO LATE
UNUSUALLY HOT WEATHER WILL OCCUR FOR AT LEAST THE NEXT SEVERAL DAYS AS
THE EARTH DRAWS EVER NEARER TO THE SUN. THEREFORE... AN EXCESSIVE HEAT
WATCH HAS BEEN POSTED.
STAY TUNED TO NOAA WEATHER RADIO AND OTHER LOCAL MEDIA FOR FURTHER
DETAILS OR UPDATES.
Remember - you heard it here first...
Wow - now this guy was genuinely ahead of his time:
into geek site [H]ard|OCP
show a unique home-modded Apple II from around 1983. Built into a
suitcase, it even has perspex windows...
Just as innovative, perhaps, if rather more up to date
- very, very
PCs from Japanese company Personal Media. The press release is mostly
in squiggles, unfortunately, but the tech specs can be seen quite clearly
- a 400MHz CPU plus full support hardware in a 5cm cube...
rather neat, too - a new video conferencing camera from Logitech,
which zooms and tracks automatically to keep your face centred in the
frame. It's very elegant, and reasonably priced, but I can't help thinking
of HAL 9000...
Meanwhile, someone who has obviously completely run out
of patience with the human race is trying to
sell the knackered chassis of a Honda CB500T motorcycle on eBay... His
description is a wonderful rant, but as I was reading through his
increasingly fervent complaints about the brain-dead types who inhabit
eBay, something he said about an odd repair to the frame's top tube struck
a chord - and having taken a closer look I'm fairly sure that I owned that
bike, briefly, sometime around 1987! The previous owner, my mate Andy, had
virtually destroyed it on a surprisingly tight bend in the South Wales
valleys, and after it had been kicked, bodged, bashed and bent back into
shape I ran it for a month or two before selling it onwards - from what I
remember very cheaply indeed, so considering that the bidding currently
stands at £5.50 I think it has held its value rather well! It's a small
world, though - it really is...
Today's EPICYCLE is brought to you courtesy of Tom
Rain Dogs album and Laurie Anderson's
Dick. I had to turn the volume way down for the latter, as on the
first couple of tracks Ms Anderson's hi-tech digital violin is so
incredibly bassy that it threatens to destroy my speakers - when we
saw her play it live at The Barbican a few years ago, it shook the entire
hall... the sound has an amazing power, depth and presence, and always
makes me shiver with pleasure.
Earlier today Ros was looking for the home page of
television self-sufficiency eccentric Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, and
when she mentioned that she'd found it at
started fuming. I've always had a bee in my bonnet about misuse of the
top-level domain names, especially in the ORG and NET hierarchies, and
this is another fine example. According to the
original ICANN specifications,
the NET domain was restricted to organisations in some way connected with
the fabric of the Internet itself, such as ISPs, backbone providers and
the various regulatory groups; while the ORG
domain was purely for the non-commercial community - museums,
charities, action groups etc. It's not that I blame Hugh, of course, as
his expertise seems to lie in pig breeding rather than computers, but a
.NET domain is completely inappropriate for his site and ideally he should
never have been allowed to register it. Unfortunately, while checking the
exact terms of the TLD specification I was disappointed to note that even
the ICANN has now relaxed the rules - the names have been so widely
misused that I suppose there's no point in flying in the face of such
common practice, and by now it's a thoroughly lost cause. Oh, well...
Meanwhile, this morning I finally had the opportunity
to do something that really tested the new motherboard's processing power,
and it was certainly impressive! Apart from the odd game, the vast
majority of my computer use is fairly banal, with the usual email, letters
and web surfing - and under this sort of load the
four CPU cores are barely ticking over.
Because of this I tend to forget that I have so much oomph under
the hood, as it were, so when I needed to splice together several dozen
short segments of video (using the extremely useful freeware
Real Join utility) I queued
them in and then started to leave my desk to get on with other chores
while it worked. As I was standing up, though, a flicker onscreen caught
my eye, and I sat down again to realise that the operation had finished -
the jump from 1GHz PIII CPUs to
3GHz HyperThreading P4s is exactly what this sort of CPU-intensive
operation is crying out for, and when coupled with the pleasingly fast
S-ATA disk subsystem to move the files around, what used to take several
minutes now takes several seconds, instead. Cool!
Elsewhere - the
Michael Jackson. Not cool... Not at all...
<yawns hugely> It's been one of those weeks - but
at least the SMS server still seems to be happy.
And now, the news:
attacks on SCO continue...
spammers busted in the US, and
a deluge of
complaints in the UK.
A nasty new
Mac security vulnerability - and a wonderful sound-bite from someone
as annoyed as I am by the misguided elitism of non-Windows users:
I was tired of the "We use Macs because they don't
get attacked by viruses and hackers" refrain from Mac nuts. I generally
counter with what is apparently a secret carefully hidden from Mac
zealots: "That's because only a fraction of the world uses Macs. What's
the point of attacking a niche market? No one will notice!"
But the mindlessly superior retort is always the
same, "No, it's because the Apple OS does not have the same holes as
Windows. OS X is just a better operating system."
Given this recent development, my question is,
"Will you be stuffing that superior attitude in your crow or eating it
But anyway, PC insecurity is not all Microsoft's
fault, at least according to
Elsewhere in the tech news - a tale of a
free-falling laptop (and
the "after" picture - the apparent damage is remarkably light,
mission to Jupiter's moons, a
Cruise Missile, a
development on the way to Bob Shaw's "slow
glass", and how to "tune" a standard VW compact to something capable
of 14 second
standing-quarter-miles using only a hammer, a Sawzall, and a large
screwdriver... It's not a pretty sight.
president was evicted from the UN Internet summit when they suddenly
decided to exclude observers - and he's hopping mad, as you'd expect. As
an organisation ICANN is
far from perfect, but expecting a
bloated bureaucracy like the UN to control something as fluid and nebulous
as the Internet seems like a bizarre idea, and I can't see that this
latest development is in any way a good thing...
Oh, and I just heard that
closing down - the original and arguably greatest cam girl is
pulling the plug at the end of the month, after seven years of life under
the Internet microscope. I remember when she first started, long before "The
Truman Show" and "Big
Brother", and it was really exciting to be involved (even
peripherally, as a voyeur!) in something genuinely new and adventurous...
I wish her all the best in her new, off-camera life.
|My new SMS 2003 server at
the office has been giving us a real headache, over the last couple of
weeks... Although everything seemed to be running extremely well for a
while, a brief loss of network connectivity apparently ended in a database
corrupted almost beyond repair, and it's taken many hours of
diligent research and inspired hackery on the part of our support company,
SynTech, before things started
coming right again. The system finally seems to be stable and functional
again this evening, thanks to all that hard work, but I have to admit that
my confidence in the product has been shaken somewhat... Considering how
stable and successful this year's
Server 2003 and
Exchange 2003 products have been, we were expecting the same from the
new SMS - but after all this trauma I don't think I'll really be
happy with the product until the first service pack.
a salutary lesson for those who still think that Apple are the good
guys - in these days of universal corporate greed, it seems that there
are no good guys, anywhere:
"For example, Allen has discovered that Apple uses a sophisticated
video-monitoring system to automatically count the number of customers
who enter the store, and to document their behaviour once inside.
According to Allen, Apple uses a ShopperTrak system to count the
number of people passing the store, the percentage who enter, and the
percentage of those who make a purchase. Allen declined to state his
source. An Apple spokeswoman confirmed that the company carefully tracks
consumer traffic and buying patterns, but wouldn't discuss its
So "insanely great" is now just insanely intrusive... Oh, well...
Now here's a strange thing indeed... Someone claiming
to be the creator of the original MS Word macro virus,
written a letter to UK computer paper
IT Week claming that (in best
it was all a terrible mistake:
"... I was employed to develop a Windows script to
retrieve data from a back-end database and incorporate it into
automatically-generated letters ... I wrote a set of Windows
routines that would execute when a document was opened or created, run a
payload routine, pop open a dialog box and copy the code modules to
newly saved documents or templates. The dialog box was labelled
"Concept", and later became known as the Concept virus. Of course, I
know the effects it has had over the years and that the code probably
escaped into the wild when a document was created on my development PC
and used on other, less isolated systems. But it was legitimately
written for one specific task, for one specific client. That it could
cause damage just by replacing my own payload is undeniable, but its
spread was just as clearly due to the vulnerability of Microsoft Word at
that time and was in no way intentional."
I have to say that I'm dubious - a quick check at the
McAfee Virus Information
Library has confirmed what I dimly remembered, that the very first
version of Concept, which replicated without causing damage to its host
systems, contained a payload of only one line - the comment "REM That's
enough to prove my point". Now that sounds like someone writing code
to see how well
it could spread, to me, and not a legitimate business application...
appointed a new anti-piracy czar in the shape of
Buckles, until recently the director of the US Bureau Of Alcohol,
Tobacco and Firearms. Buckles took over the directorship of the ATF after
the house-cleaning that followed the disastrous raid on the
Davidian compound in Waco, and has been at least partly responsible
for creating the procedural changes resulting from the subsequent inquiry.
Nevertheless, he has a reputation as a tough cookie, with considerable
influence in government circles, and I have no doubt that this appointment
represents another stage in the RIAA's apparently endless quest for power.
The EFF and others are
them, and ably, but the RIAA has
enormous wealth and influence and unfortunately it's an uphill struggle...
Finally, something that only a programmer could love -
we gave our friend Mike a
for his last birthday, but if this
actually existed outside of the web I'd definitely get him one for
christmas, to match...
Midweek... Just links...
revenue may abandon EDS - but is this possible? Doesn't EDS own the
hardware, the software and all the techies?
defection from Microsoft - but as this comes right in the middle of
negotiations for a reduced license fee, I think it's just a bargaining
Last call for
Wndows 98 and Office 2000 - nominally under Sun's "Stop Polluting
Java" suit, but probably a welcome excuse for Microsoft to sweep away the
driven offline - Sharman ups the ante again, changing the protocol and
insisting that ISPs remove Lite mirrors. How long will it last? Days, not
weeks, I'd say...
The RIAA strikes yet again - today's victims, the parents of a
thirteen year old girl... "It's not like she murdered someone",
A USB memory
stick shaped like a rubber duck - yes, really, a rubber duck. Would I
lie to you?
Microsoft gets bullish over "Lindows" trademark infringement suit -
and Lindows muddies the waters by alleging anti-competitive attacks on
Dutch computer retailers, which is not really the point...
Display a 500 foot SMS message on one of the world's landmarks - go
on, I dare you...
I've just watched the first program in the BBC's "Guns
and Gangs" season of documentaries, and as expected I'm fuming. This
particular program was concerned with the movement of arms around the
world, and concentrated on how weaponry from the Balkan states illegally
found its way into West Africa. As part of the follow-up to this, the
documentary explained how the wars in the Balkans have made guns and
violence endemic to the society, and illustrated this ingrained "gun
culture" by footage of UN raids on farming communities in northern
"This one farmhouse alone produced a massive haul of
high-tech military arms", the voice-over announced - while the screen
displayed a tin biscuit box half-full of a mixture of ammunition which can
only be described as junk: tired shotgun cartridges with visible creases
in the plastic bodies, beaten-up rifle ammunition with so many scuffs,
dents and scratches that I wouldn't actually expect to be able to
chamber it into most firearms let alone eject it afterwards, and
antique revolver rounds which appeared to date from approximately the
1930s. A subsequent visit to a "hidden arms cache" showed a small, broken
heap of sorry-looking
AK-47 assault rifles, so covered in mud, straw and rust that they were
more reminiscent of scrap metal than the "high-powered military arsenal"
described in the commentary.
Next the program revealed how these self-same weapons
were making their way into the hands of criminals in Western Europe,
showing a few short sequences of gangsters in Paris and London waving what
purported to be AK-47s - although as we were only shown fuzzy, monochrome
footage shot from a great distance by police helicopters, they could
equally well have been
To prove the point, though, we were treated to more police footage, this
time showing guns allegedly seized from criminals and terrorists in
Holland, probably intended for sale in the UK - and this time it was a
selection of thoroughly obsolete World War II weaponry, predominantly the
German MG-42 machine
gun and MP-40 "Schmeisser"
submachine guns! The former, especially, is chambered for an antique
calibre of ammunition that must be completely impossible to obtain
these days, and as both models are at least fifty years old there's very
little chance that they'd be in working order even if current shell cases
could be resized to fit. In fact, the only modern weaponry shown during
this entire second half of the program were the genuinely high-tech
HK G36 assault rifles
in use (apparently in great numbers!) by the
Most viewers, though, couldn't tell the difference
between a MG-42, an AK-47, and the aforementioned table leg; and most
don't realise that guns are actually quite fragile, temperamental devices,
which are very likely to malfunction if stored on the water-logged floor
of a ruined house in the Albanian mountains. I can't help but think that
the documentary's producers are very much taking advantage of this
ignorance, too... Just as in
America, the media seems determined to keep sales and circulation high
by scaring the living daylights out of the populace, and creating the
impression that a heavily-armed criminal lurks on every street corner
(right next to the ubiquitous paedophile, presumably!) is a very good way
of achieving this.
I'm sure that the police and Home Office are more than
happy, too - in spite of all David Blunkett's protestations, a thoroughly
scared and cowed population is significantly less likely to realise that
all their civil liberties are being gradually eroded, or to object even if
they do... and the current government seems determined to have their way
whatever it takes - so while I'm not really suggesting that they're
controlling the media in this respect, they're certainly making the
most of all the opportunities nonetheless...
Meanwhile, I was browsing the online shop of well-known
firearm accessory manufacturer Hogue,
looking for a replacement
screw for a new replica I've just picked up, and discovered to my
amazement that they also make toilet
seats! I know that any sensible company tries to diversify, these
days, but this is just silly...
The replica is equally implausible, too - at some point
in the past it was a metal-framed
SV Infinity, but has been modified by persons unknown to take an
aftermarket metal slide originally intended for a
Ordnance. It has a few minor issues - the trigger set screw is
missing, as is one of the (purely cosmetic) grip screws - but some
rummaging in the spares box and a little fiddling will take care of that,
and as it needs some attention it was extremely cheap for a full-metal
replica. I'll have to do something about that pretty-pink Infinity
trigger, though... Eeurgh!
in The Register, commenting on the recent ban on the use hand-held
mobile phones while driving, is really rather worrying...
Using mobile phones while driving may not be much
more dangerous than driving if your brain is infected with toxoplasmosis
this 2002 report, which finds that you are two to three times more
likely to be involved in a car crash than unaffected individuals. One in
three Brits, one in two Americans and eight out of ten French
(undercooked meat is the usual point of entry) have toxoplasmosis, a
parasitical disease which slows down the responses of its hosts and
which is thought to change the behaviour of the infected so that they
engage in more risky practices. Should we screen people for toxoplasma,
and stop positives from getting behind the wheel?
Increased risk of traffic accidents in subjects with latent toxoplasmosis,
really ought to be read only by those of a strong disposition... The
infection rates are scarily high, and the combination of decreased
reaction times combined with increased risk-taking makes me shudder!
Also in The Register, a rebuttal of the
hoax that has been making its way around the Internet in the last few
days. As usual, it's rubbish... [Update - and
On a lighter note, I came across an extremely amusing
Lord Of The Rings parodies, hosted at a fan-site for Orlando Bloom,
the heart-throb actor who played Legolas in the movies. Written as the
secret diaries of the main characters, they should definitely to be
avoided if you take LOTR as seriously as many seem to, these days:
THE SECRET DIARY OF ARAGORN SON OF ARATHORN
Ringwraiths killed: 4. V. good.
Met up with Hobbits. Walked forty miles. Skinned a squirrel and ate it.
Still not King.
Stuck on mountain with Hobbits. Boromir really annoying.
Not King yet.
Orcs killed: none. Disappointing. Stubble update: I look rugged and
Keep wanting to drop-kick Gimli. Holding myself back.
Still not King.
Elsewhere, another excellent
South Park Episode Guide, this time with extremely comprehensive
synopses of each episode - including the delayed second half of Season 7,
yet to air in the UK.
another Linux security flaw, and once again it's been used to
compromise servers run by a Linux distributor, this time the
Gentoo Linux project... Now, I don't
really believe that the Windows evangelists are poring through the Linux
source code for vulnerabilities to exploit (and if you believe the Lawn
Dwarves, they wouldn't have the skills anyway!), so that must mean that
there is a growing body of disaffected Linux users who would rather crack
than hack! Well, well, well...
Meanwhile, something that wasn't an intrusion,
but certainly looked like it - a prankster using the name "Mr Host"
acquired an obsolete domain name previously belonging to communications
company Bell Canada, and after some cunning network jiggery-pokery used it
to host a server named "bells-network-has-lots-of-security-holes-to-exploit"...
Owing to a lapse of attention on the part of Bell's techies, it seems that
this domain was still associated with a large block of IP addresses used
on their internal network, and any TRACERT or reverse lookup operations
showed these servers as part of the path. This emerged when network
problems affecting some of Bell's broadband users prompted them to examine
their network routing, and when these bogus server names were spotted it
seemed highly likely that that the issues were due to Bell's systems
having been severely compromised! This is not the case, however, and Bell
and the ARIN are currently clearing up the registration mess - but rather
to their annoyance, I think, the trickster hasn't actually broken any laws
and there's probably not much they can do about it. :-)
Elsewhere, SCO's CEO Darl McBride is still
foaming at the mouth... His latest stance is that the General Public
License (GPL) that underlies all distributions of Linux is
unconstitutional because it violates copyright and patent laws established
by Congress. Not content with this, he has also virtually accused the
Free Software Foundation and
Red Hat of what amounts to
un-American activities because of their arguments against U.S.
intellectual property law! SCO's behaviour is becoming more bizarre by the
week, but it's quite obvious that there's still a lot of ranting and
raving to come. Their financial backers have invested so much time and
money, and SCO themselves have alienated so many of their customers and
peers within the industry, that there's simply no going back - they're
finished as any kind of an IT company, so their only possible salvation
will be to win big in court, and having gone this far they have to
see it through to the bitter end. This one will run and run.
Lastly, the long-running
CD overpricing suit has finally been settled, offering a timely
reminder that it's not just Microsoft who can behave anti-competitively,
and on a related note the RIAA have once more proved that there is
no limit to their arrogant stupidity by suing a 79-year old man for
file sharing - when he doesn't actually own a computer. It really is about
time somebody did something about them...
I came across a marvellous snippet this morning,
extracted from an article in African Hunter magazine (Africa's
premier sport hunting magazine, I am assured!) on choosing the ideal
weaponry for hunting tigers...
"Always carry a handgun when following up wounded
cats. Pistoling a peeved pussy on top of you is infinitely easier than
trying to throttle it. If you are a complete chicken like myself, fit a
bayonet to your rifle. You can then keep kitty at a reasonable distance
while drawing your revolver - much better than giving it an arm to chew
Sound advice indeed, and I shall be sure to bear it in
mind next time I'm dealing with a peeved pussy - although however
strong the temptation, I should probably restrain myself from bayonetting
the cats belonging to my friend Ali the next time they jump on me in the
middle of... well, in the middle. :-)
Elsewhere, today I discovered rather belatedly that
linked by the infamous security geek and Unix evangelist Alan Bostick,
who was evidently less than impressed with my
take on the state of the desktop OS wars last month... Unfortunately,
Alan seems to have chosen to reply with an ad hominem attack rather
than intelligently disputing my opinion, and seems to be attempting to
undermine my credibility with sarcasm instead:
"You don't have to browse very far in Thomas's
blog to determine that he thinks Windows r00lz and that Linux is teh
suck. ... Keep drinking that Kool-Aid, Dominic."
Apart from the fact that he's just plain wrong (I
subscribe to the Three Dead
Trolls viewpoint when it comes to computers - "every OS sucks, and
blows, at the same time") I'm really not the sort of person who thinks
in such black and white terms - and anything more than his obviously
extremely casual inspection would have shown him that... As much as
he'd evidently like to think of me as a teenage wannabe posting from my
bedroom, with no real clue about real world computing and so perfectly
safe to ignore or ridicule, in actual fact I have twenty years
working experience in the IT industry on top of my misspent
youth as B1FF
and so I do consider myself qualified to comment on operating
systems with a significant degree of authority. I have to say that I'd
expected better from an established industry figure like Bostick. It just
goes to show...
Meanwhile, Ros has just had a very odd email...
It appeared to be a credit card receipt for an online purchase of an Apple
iPod (which she hadn't bought), from a company referred to as "UK Cards
Ltd" or "Huntingdon Mail Order" - but when she phoned the attached
telephone number to check up on it she reached the
Cambridgeshire police! They
immediately knew what it was about without asking, and revealed that
they've had hundreds of calls about this over the last few hours - so
someone has obviously attempted a denial-of-service attack against them,
presumably with some considerable success! I'm guessing that it will be
from a UK-based malcontent, as it seems like an odd target for an overseas
grudge, and if so I don't think it will be very long before they find him
and throw the book at him - the various
laws introduced over the last few years will very make sure of that...
rife that Dubya is soon to announce a fresh start for NASA, with a
completely new philosophy and ambitious new projects including manned
lunar landings, new lunar and planetary probes, and development of a
"flexible" manned spacecraft based on the proposed Orbital Space Plane.
Glory days, indeed, but the rumours are not being universally greeted with
such rose tinted glasses - the
Orlando Sentinel, for example, predicts a programme "long on
rhetoric, but short on new goals and money", and I have to say that
given the history of NASA funding levels over the last two decades
unfortunately there is bound to be an element of truth in even the most
cynical of opinions. It will be interesting to see what emerges, though -
and in any event it seems unlikely that a shiny new NASA could manage
less, or manage it worse, than the current flavour has...
Meanwhile, an article in the
MIT Technology Review claims that the perceived difficulties with
long-term data storage are probably exaggerated - in spite of the salutary
lesson of the BBC's 1986
trapped until recently on an obsolete video disk format for which players
no longer existed, writer Simson Garfinkel doesn't seem to think that the
situation is as bad as all that... One thing is sure, though - this is
literally a case where only time will tell!
A rather elegant modding project in the form of a
PC built into a
boom box stereo
The contract for the US Missile Defence
kinetic energy interception system has been awarded
The full skinny on déjà vu at
ACLU representing a student in a piracy case brought against him by
the RIAA. Now that's an interesting development...
And, finally, something else to
blame Microsoft for... Who would have thought that an Xbox would stop
a 9mm round, though!
I'm tired after the midweek rush, as usual, and was
only intending to post a few links tonight - but Ros showed me a letter
that she'd received from the Royal Mail and I just can't let it pass...
I would like to apologise personally to you for
the delay in getting your post due to the recent unofficial action in
your area. Now our postmen and women are back at work, we are working
together to ensure that your postal service is maintained in future. We
are sorry that our customer compensation scheme does not apply when
services are disrupted due to industrial action. However, we have
decided to make a gesture of goodwill on behalf of our customers.
Working with Postwatch, the customer body for postal services, we plan
to make a £1 million donation towards London's bid to host the 2012
Olympic Games. Again, on behalf of everyone at Royal Mail we are very
sorry for any inconvenience caused to you and your family during the
Allan Leighton, Chairman.
Now, I'm actually pretty cross about this... To begin
with, considering that the
strike action came about when the Royal Mail's management refused to
increase the London Weighting for its staff due to a claimed lack of
available funding, suddenly being able to pull £1 million out of thin air
for no particularly good reason is rather surprising. After all, that £1
million represents £50 each for every one of the 20,000 postal workers who
went out on strike...
Secondly, they have obviously failed to take into
account that by no means everyone in the London area is even slightly
in favour of the Olympic bid! Personally, I consider it to be a
massive boondoggle, likely to cause years of traffic congestion and
general disruption for tens of miles around my home in the East End, not
to mention the huge increase in council tax, estimated at anywhere from
£20 to £80 per year for up to twelve years - and payable by
Londoners only, for reasons that have yet to be adequately explained when
a successful bid would allegedly bring benefits to the entire country.
Besides, I'm convinced that most of the oft-mentioned new jobs and
improvements to local facilities and infrastructure will turn out to be
just as nebulous and implausible as those that were claimed for the
Millennium Dome project - another massive
scam, as we now know, and one for which London taxpayers are still paying
out in one way or another...
In short, then, I fail to see how the Royal Mail's
donation to the Olympic bid will benefit me in any way at all, and in fact
I suspect that it will do exactly the opposite! If they really wanted to
throw £1 million around, they should have given it either to the underpaid
postal workers or to the customers affected by the strike action - funding
the Olympic bid is completely
irrelevant to anything related to the Royal Mail or the recent strike,
and is purely and simply an attempt to buy themselves some
sorely-needed good publicity - with taxpayer's money, as usual. Shame on
Anyway - those links:
Homebrew PC water cooling setup - with fifty feet of copper tubing
buried underground in his back yard to act as a heat sink!
Wired's Holiday Geek Gift Guide - I was amazed by the toy DNA
sequencer at the top of the third page... It was only twenty years ago
that the entire concept was science fiction, and now the hardware is
available as a children's toy!
Another nasty security hole in Linux - found by the hackers first, and
used to compromise the Debian servers a few
weeks ago... which rather puts the lie to the claim that the public
scrutiny of open source software will prevent just that sort of nasty
New-style RAID controller - claims to beat conventional RAID-5 into a
cocked hat, but isn't really that new or interesting when examined
It appears that UK Customs & Excise are in the throes
of a major crackdown on importation of airsoft hardware. According to
Arnie's Airsoft and Area 51,
any accessories that might conceivably be fitted to a real firearm,
such as fore-grips, silencers, flash-hiders etc, are being refused customs
clearance or, in some cases, even destroyed out of hand. Similarly, any
internal components that could be used to raise the power output of an
airsoft replica to in excess of the loose one Joule limit, especially
high-power springs intended for upgrading AEGs, are being treated with
equal suspicion. There are suggestions that this crack-down stems from
discussion on various UK airsoft forums that could lead to replicas being
illegally modified, but if so I haven't seen any sign of it. Whatever the
cause, though, it's clear that this is not a good time to be
importing replicas or accessories from overseas, so if you can't find it
in the UK, it will definitely be best to wait awhile in the hope that the
fuss dies down...
Meanwhile, and talking of hardware modifications - high
on the list of computing projects that fly in the face of creation's plan
is this, a conversion of
the wretched "Big Mouth Billy Bass" talking wall ornament into something
that Man Was Not Meant To Meddle With... The site is a touch busy
at present, presumably because of [H]ard|OCP's
own minor equivalent of the Slashdot Effect, but it's well worth a look
when the fuss dies down in a couple of days - although I would recommend
having garlic and holy water to hand before you do...
US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has edged out
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Chris Patten to win the Plain English Campaign's
"Foot In Mouth"
award for the following gem, uttered at a press briefing during
the Iraq War earlier this year:
"Reports that say something hasn't happened are
interesting to me, because as we know, there are known unknowns; there
things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is
to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also
unknown unknowns - the ones we don't know we don't know."
The Campaign spokesman, John Lister, commented "We
think we know what he means. But we don't know if we really know."
Yes, indeed... Thanks to Ros for the pointer.
new law on using hand-held mobile phones in cars has come into force
today, and the police have already
handed out the
first fines. As someone who has only ever used a phone in a fully
wired-in car kit, I have to say that I have no sympathy for these people
at all - watching someone juggling a phone from ear to ear while trying to
steer and work a gearshift makes my blood boil, and one doesn't need to
studies to know that it just isn't safe... And as careless,
overconfident habits while driving usually tend to go together, when I see
these morons they are often in the process of overtaking me on the inside,
on a blind bend or in the middle of road works, and the risk to other road
users is just plain unacceptable. Given that, I rather think that the £30
fixed penalty is probably too low, especially when you consider that at
double the cost the £60 fine for speeding, equally dangerous according to
most official opinions, is often no deterrent at all!
removes adverts for unlicensed online pharmacies
DIY household robots
Fight back at
spam with Unsolicited Commando - at your own risk...
More letters at Dan's Data, and review of an
interesting web accelerator
And lastly, it seems that Dell builds the best
off-the-shelf mass-market PCs -
according to Information Week, at least. I have to admit that my own
experiences with Dell's servers and workstations have been very
favourable, though, and would I generally recommend them to most home and
Not a bad month in the old stats, again, but I'm afraid
that not enough of you are voting at the
Tweakers Australia Top 50, and I'm
currently languishing in the doldrums around number 30. I warned you last
month, and this time I'm really serious -
or I'll post a long treatise on the ins and outs of wiring PC cases... And
you'd better believe I'm serious, too - I have a full set of
Molex pin extraction tools,
and I'm not afraid to use them! [Eyeballs roll, foams
gently at the mouth]