30th June

Damn, but that was a tiring day... Decommissioning old Compaq servers, planning a GPRS gateway for sixty PDAs, testing a second-hand tape changer, and configuring our SNA printing gateway ready for yet another attempt at migrating to a new hardware platform. Busy busy!

Elsewhere, more strange goings on at Infinium Labs, courtesy of Where Is Phantom? - a two part article speculating on the youthful indiscretions of CEO Time Roberts reveals some startling possibilities... Meanwhile, Infinium prepare their marketing assault on Europe - although I think actually having a product might help, there.

Following the success of Microsoft's reward for information leading to the arrest of the Sasser worm's author, the FTC is considering offering a bounty for information on spammers who don't comply with even the minimal strictures of the CAN-Spam Act. It has to be worth a try, surely?

Finally, Apple is under fire from a small shareware developer for allegedly copying his work. Apple are very quick to accuse others of plagiarism, but do have a habit of borrowing intellectual property themselves... Leaving the original Xerox PARC banditry aside, there have been accusations that the lauded iMac 2 design was copied from a concept posted on an Apple fansite a year or so earlier, for example.  <sigh>  I wish people would recognise that Apple are no longer the happy band of geeks that they were in 1984, but just another greedy, amoral corporate.


29th June

I've been positively lusting over this on eBay, recently - a slightly obsolete but still extremely viable Sun StorEdge RAID disk subsystem. This particular one comes with dual fibre channel controllers to interface with the host system, and fifty (count 'em, fifty!) 18Gb 10,000RPM SCSI disk drives. That's 900Gb of storage, before RAIDing, which is more than enough for even the most ambitious collection of pirated DVDs and pornographic movies...

Hardware like this is sufficiently scary and unusual that only the most hardened techies would contemplate installing it on a home network (Ok, Guv, you've got me bang to rights, I'll put my hands up to it!) and most corporates wouldn't touch second-hand storage arrays with an anti-static barge pole... I'm not at all surprised, therefore, to see that there has only been one bid so far, and I will be even less surprised if that lone bidder wins the auction for the £499 he started at. The same seller is offering a similar unit with a mere 510Gb of disk, starting off at half the price of its bigger brother, but I figure that if you're going to buy a giant, obsolete disk array you might as well go for the max! The StorEdge A3500FC model is less than four years old, right now, and as the original list price for the larger configuration would have been several hundred thousand dollars, someone is going to get a real bargain.

Having had a good look at the pictures on Sun's site, the hardware actually appears identical to the MetaStor system that I used to have at work, until we retired it a couple of years ago to upgrade to the E2400 series. My experiences with that unit were mixed, in that although for the vast majority of its lifespan it worked perfectly with no fuss or bother, on the couple of occasions it did start to misbehave  it was an absolute nightmare. Eventually (fortunately, after it had been retired) it malfunctioned in such a confusing and persistent manner that in the end I relocated the disks elsewhere and threw everything else in a skip! It's almost unprecedented for me to actually give up on exotic hardware of that ilk, so you may have some idea of how frustrating it had become to inspire such drastic treatment...

Nevertheless, it's still extremely tempting, and if I wasn't on the point of moving house I would be bidding with some considerable enthusiasm. However, the idea of having to store and then relocate a full-height cabinet filled with extremely dense disk units, and batteries that take two people to install has tipped the balance - so although I'll be watching the closing stages of the auctions with both interest and envy, I won't be bidding myself. How very restrained of me!

Elsewhere, a new release of the ReactOS NT-compatible operating system. This build promises significant improvements across the board, especially at the higher levels of the system, and from what I read the project is progressing extremely well. I think I'll take a look at it, next time I have a few spare few hours and a PC with nothing much to do.

And, finally, something that anyone who remembers a certain episode of "Blackadder" will find very hard to take seriously: the American FDA has approved the use of medicinal leeches, for applications such as removing blood pooled under skin grafts, or to restore circulation in blocked veins.

Doctor: An extraordinary new cure has just been developed for exactly
    this kind of sordid problem.
Edmund: It wouldn't have anything to do with leeches, would it?
Doctor: I had no idea you were a medical man.
Edmund: Never had anything you doctors didn't try to cure with
    leeches. A leech on my ear for ear ache, a leech on my bottom
    for constipation.
Doctor: They're marvellous, aren't they?
Edmund: Well, the bottom one wasn't. I just sat down and squashed it.
Doctor: You know the leech comes to us on the highest authority?
Edmund: Yes. I know that. Dr. Hoffmann of Stuttgart, isn't it?
Doctor: That's right, the great Hoffmann.
Edmund: Owner of the largest leech farm of Europe.
Doctor: Yes. Well, I cannot spend all day gossiping. I'm a busy man. As
    far as this case is concerned I have now had time to think it over
    and I can strongly recommend
[in chorus] a course of leeches.
Edmund: Yes. I'll pop a couple down my codpiece before I go to bed.
Doctor: No, no, no, no. Don't be ridiculous. This isn't the dark ages. Just
    pop four in your mouth in the morning and let them dissolve slowly.



28th June

So I was watching a documentary on exotic civil engineering projects, last night, which included a segment on the proposed bridge over the Straits Of Gibraltar. To illustrate one of the risks inherent with the design, some nameless computer graphics artist has created a beautiful simulation of an oil tanker colliding with one of the bridge's supporting pillars, and he or she revealed their interest in science fiction with the name on the supertanker's bow - Weyland Yutani, the proper name of "The Company" in the Aliens movies. Neat!

Closer to home, if still in space... more details have emerged of the ground-breaking but problematic sub-orbital flight of Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne last week. The article also reveals that the flight will not be the first of the two required for the Ansari X Prize, and speculates that given the problems another test flight may be scheduled before official notification is given that the pair of flights will be carried out.

Elsewhere, a nasty bug in Apple's OS X - the first one to be found in Apple's own code rather than in the underlying FreeBSD system, and it's a significant security flaw. Apple released an update last week, but according to the experts some of the issues have not actually been fixed. Oops!

Windows XP Service Pack 2 - lots of things are going to break, according to TechRepublic. I have to admit that I am a touch anxious about this upgrade - the security improvements will be extremely beneficial for the office network, but all the reports have suggested that it will be a can of worms labelled "Extra Wriggly"...

On a lighter note (pun most definitely intended!) a tip-off yesterday pointed me to Animusic, computer generated music accompanied what are apparently some stunning and imaginative computer animated musical instruments. The concept is strongly reminiscent of the showpiece animations of the early nineties, but another ten years of development seems to have brought all the expected improvements and I think I may splash out on the DVD of this one...

Finally, a couple of reviews of CoolerMaster's new Stacker PC chassis. Although it's a fairly conventionally-sized tower case, it has an unprecedented eleven front-accessible 5¼ drive bays. The case has some quirks, it seems, but overall it's certainly a nice piece of hardware.


26th June

Just quick links, tonight...

"Gonna have to face it, you're addicted to MMOG" - why online gaming may be the next legal minefield for the computer software industry.

Here's something that doesn't happen every day - a freak accident in a soft drink vending machine released dangerous phosgene gas. I'm still trying to work out the chemistry of this one!

Scientist sees space elevator in 15 Years - that sounds wildly optimistic, to me, carbon nanotubes or not. For a start, who is going to pay for it...?

Speaking out on file sharing - the RIAA lawsuits just aren't working, according to an editorial in The New York Times. Lots of facts and common sense - in marked contrast to the music industry's rantings and lies.

How not to make money from the Internet - a man is facing charges of federal extortion and wire fraud after trying to blackmail Google with threats of releasing software that would skew their on-site advertising figures.

Utah bill to ban spyware blocked - evidently the ability to install hidden software for the sole purpose of spying on someone and stealing their personal information is protected by the constitution.

Computer pioneer Bob Bemer dies - one of the creators of the ASCII standard (and I can remember the days before ASCII was widely adopted, so I can testify how important that was!), and of COBOL; inventor if the escape sequence and the backslash; one of the first to speak out on the risks of the Y2K issue. It's sad to loose another of the genuine old-timers...

And, finally - for some reason that I evidently don't quite appreciate yet, this motorcycle is running a custom built Linux computer. If I'd tried that on my Kawasaki Z1000, twenty years ago, the vibration would have destroyed the hard disk (and probably everything else too!) in seconds, so I guess bikes have progressed as well as computers...   [Aside: There's a great page of classic bike pictures here]


25th June

There's a new type of trojan spreading through UK computers, this week, which connects its victims to premium rate or even international numbers and proceeds to rack up their phone bill to hundreds or even thousands of pounds. Unlike the previous scams along these lines, which worked in the background when the computer wasn't already online, this one changes the telephone numbers used to connect to popular ISPs such as AOL to the premium rate number, which then forwards on to a genuine AOL number so that the user is none the wiser!

Unfortunately my brother's PC seems to have become infected with this wretched thing in spite of his competent defences against malware, and it had already added around £60 to his phone bill before he noticed that anything was amiss. BT have not been particularly helpful, unfortunately, as although an advisory on their web site states that victims of known dialler frauds will not have to pay for the charges incurred, this is definitely not what my family were told when they rang to ask for assistance yesterday, and instead they were offered an expensive call barring facility! They use AOL as their ISP, and unfortunately their helpdesk proved equally unhelpful - the best advice they could offer, it turns out, was to convert to broadband and thus avoid the vulnerability. Hardly useful advice when a user is having a crisis with their PC!

Fortunately it looks as if my brother has managed to clean his PC by now (as so often, knowing that there is a problem is half way towards fixing it) and I've sent down a CD with SpyBot S&D and Ad-Aware to get rid of any lurking remnants - but it doesn't seem that either BT or the UK's biggest ISP actually cares very much about this kind of scam, and without genuine support from them this problem is not going to go away.

Meanwhile, elsewhere...

A site devoted to the life and works of Mick Farren, rock musician, science fiction author, journalist, sometime-lover of Germaine Greer and Julie Birchill, and possessor of the most remarkable afro ever seen on a white man. I've been enjoying both his music and his stories for two decades, but without knowing much about the man himself, and so some of the snippets on the site are absolutely fascinating. Farren has his own weblog too, it turns out, which is also an interesting read.

An interesting site devoted to gyroscopes, which also has a shop selling all things gyroscopic. They have one of those spooky Levitron devices, too, which I've been intending to write about for a while - watch this space for the story of a hamster named "Tisha".

De Vere anniversary revives Shakespeare debate - not content with the common allegation that Sir Francis Bacon actually wrote the plays usually attributed to William Shakespeare, the quintessentially English De Vere Society is proposing yet another candidate. It's interesting, certainly, but at this stage I don't think it's actually very important.

And, finally, a new form of dating, making use of the now ubiquitous Bluetooth-enabled cell phones or PDAs. Given the likelihood that the basic mechanism that permits this service is on the point of being hijacked by spammers and virus writers, I can't see this making any significant headway...


23rd June

So, it seems that Monday's record-setting flight of SpaceShipOne was actually rather more problematic than we originally thought. As well as the mysterious bang during the last stage of the ascent, and the equally mysterious dangling bits observed on landing, right after motor ignition the craft rolled 90 degrees to the left then immediately 90 degrees to the right - as Melvill put it, in the classic dry tones of the test pilot, "It has never ever done that before"...

In fact, it seems that there were so many other glitches that Rutan himself described the events as "the most serious flight safety systems problem that we’ve had in the entire program". Nevertheless, the backup systems functioned exactly as intended, and nobody seems to think that the pilot was in significant danger at any point - well, no more danger than is usually involved in high-altitude experimental flights, of course! These problems, together with the fact that the flight actually failed to reach 360,000 feet as originally intended (it fell short by 31,509 feet) make me wonder whether Rutan will actually try for a second flight within the X Prize's stipulated two week period. There's no significant risk of being overtaken by a competitor, I'm sure, and at this stage it may well be best to play it safe.

Having said that, though, there is some speculation that NASA itself will institute its own multi-million dollar prize programme for milestones in private space flight - possibilities include the first soft landing on the moon, or retrieving a piece of an asteroid. It will be interesting to see whether anything comes of this, as large quantities of cash are exactly what the fledgling private rocketry projects need so badly...

Closer to home, if not by much - biker Gary Eagan has travelled the 5,632 miles from the northernmost road in Alaska to the southernmost tip of Florida in just 100 hours, setting a new record for the run. Although he encountered all the usual and predictable problems en route (including suspicious border patrol agents, traffic jams, torrential thunderstorms, and being forced off the road in Alaska by a truck!) he apparently managed to avoid speeding tickets: "You don't have to really ride that fast to do a record like that", said Egan. "You just have to stay on the bike and be efficient".

Finally - and I'm still trying to work this one out: Lesbian GNU-Linux. I think it's a joke, but if so it's evidently one that is only funny to Unix lawn dwarves. Strange stuff, indeed...


22nd June

My PFY brought in a neat little USB wireless adaptor, today, so this afternoon I plugged it into a spare laptop running NetStumbler and had a bit of a wander around the building looking for the rogue WLAN access point we noticed last week. Somewhat to my surprise it rapidly became apparent that there were actually at least five access points within range, on two separate networks - and after a while I realised that as far as I can tell none of them were located inside our building! Instead they seem to be associated with the B&Q DIY store a hundred yards away behind our car park. A large DIY warehouse is a perfect environment for a wireless network, of course, and my hypothesis is that they've installed several high-gain directional antennae at one end of the building in order to cover the adjacent garden centre area without having to install access points out of doors. Unfortunately said antennae would point directly at my office building, which would neatly explain the rather unexpected access point visibility and signal strength patterns I observed while wandering around my own site.

There may not be much that I can actually do about this, but I'll try to track down a techie within B&Q to check the SSIDs and MAC addresses of the networks I've seen. I'd like to know which devices are definitely their systems, primarily, so that in future I can ignore them when I'm carrying out surveys of my own site. Also, as we're obviously going to have to coexist in the radio spectrum in this area, it will be best to set out some ground rules about which channels we'll each use sooner rather than later.

One thing that stood out while I was wandering around the building, though, was that my users seem to be far more aware of wireless network technology than I'd expected. Usually when I'm out and about with some curious looking bit of hardware I get mostly stupid smart-ass comments - "Oooh, don't drop it"; "You working for NASA now?"; "Don't get those wires crossed" etc etc... This time, however, almost everyone immediately said "oh, are you looking for WiFi adaptors?", which I did find a touch disconcerting. I suspect that as more and more of my users install broadband at home, they're becoming thoroughly familiar with the integrated DSL router / wireless access point units that are now so common, and the network adaptors that link to them. My PFY was dubious, but I'm inclined to think that the more the users know about computers, the better off we'll all be - there are drawbacks caused by the proverbial "little knowledge", of course, but overall I suspect that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. Time will tell.

Elsewhere - Tug-Of-Whale Suspended, from Reuters via Yahoo news...

Efforts to capture and relocate a lost killer whale on Canada's Pacific Coast were suspended temporarily on Friday following objections from Native Indians who say the animal may be the spirit of a dead chief and who want it to stay where it is.

The tug-of-love between scientists and a native group over the whale created a circus-like scene this week in Nootka Sound, a ocean inlet on western Vancouver Island, where the animal has lived alone since 2001 after it became separated from its family pod.

The Mowachaht-Muchalaht Indians thwarted efforts to capture the whale, nicknamed Luna by scientists and called Tsu 'Xiit (sook-eat) by the natives. They used canoes and traditional singers to lure the curious animal away from the boat officials were using to try to lure it into a capture pen.

Marilyn Joyce of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans said after meeting with the band's leaders that the capture effort had been put on hold until at least early next week to allow the Indians to spend more time with the animal.

I don't think I can add anything to that...


21st June

One down, one to go... test pilot Michael Melvill released SpaceShipOne from the White Knight carrier aircraft at a height of 47,000 feet, then burned the vehicle's rocket motor for 80 seconds to propel it to an altitude of 62 miles and officially earn his astronaut's wings. After about three minutes of weightlessness at the top of the suborbital arc, during which Melvill filled the cockpit with floating M&M chocolates, he re-oriented the craft for descent and made a safe landing on the same runway from which he took off around an hour and a half earlier.

All was not completely smooth, however, as Melvill reported hearing a bang during the high-altitude portion of the flight and after landing something could be seen hanging from the bottom of the craft - there seemed to be damage to or near the left rear landing gear, but it isn't not clear as yet if this was actual connected with the noise! Presumably the full story will emerge soon... Opinion seems divided on whether they are intending to attempt the second flight required to win the X Prize at this stage, or whether he'll take advantage of his significant lead over all the competition and make the pair of scheduled flights later in the year. This may depend on the exact nature of the damage to the vehicle, of course, but given Rutan's notoriously tight lips we may not know until it actually happens!

As I write this the Scaled Composites web site is crawling under the load of millions of interested space geeks, but actually there doesn't yet seem to be any significant coverage of today's flight! There are some video clips on the news sites, though, for those in a hurry, as well as the usual detailed and informative coverage at Space.Com.

Meanwhile... When I wrote about the Induce Act, yesterday, I didn't realise how incredibly broad and intrusive its effects could be. In theory, the bill would outlaw anything that could be used to infringe copyright, including TiVos, VCRs, CD writers etc, and would make the manufacturers of these devices as liable as anyone who actually misused them under the terms of the law! Horrendous stuff! Ars.Technica has the full story...

Elsewhere, after various setbacks in their Federal suits to outlaw the P2P file-sharing networks, the  RIAA are targeting individual states with the argument that file-sharing is harming consumer interest. Although this is an unlikely arguement it nevertheless represents a plausible strategy, because although the state legislatures have no bearing on copyright infringement, they are charged with protecting the health of their consumer markets. It's a worrying development, especially as it may well be the sort of tactic that we're about to see in Europe.


20th June

Thunderbirds are go!

Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites team is all ready to launch their SpaceShipOne vehicle for an assault on the $10 million X Prize for private space flight - and they're going tomorrow! To win the prize a successful three man flight (although the rules permit weighting to simulate the two crew members) has to be followed by another within two weeks, and given that it is only a month since SpaceShipOne's last test flight this seems to be a thoroughly achievable goal.

SpaceShipOne gliding in to a landing - Image copyright Scaled Composites

Among Rutan's competitors is the Black Armadillo project from Armadillo Aerospace, backed by games creator John Carmack. The Armadillo team are still working with sub-scale test vehicles and are many months away from any significant test flight, but  their craft is technically very advanced - reminiscent of NASA's remarkable DC-X project in its ability for vertical take-off and landing. I don't rate Armadillo's chances for the X Prize (even if Rutan fails in some horrendous disaster, the prize itself expires around the end of the year) but I expect great things from them in the future, anyway.

Meanwhile, elsewhere...

Yet another anti-piracy bill - and yet another concerted attack on Fair Use and the rights of the consumer. The "Induce Act" is sponsored by the ever-annoying Senator Orrin Hatch, and is intended to attack the file-swapping networks illegal by effectively making everybody connected to the networks legally liable for any copyright violations.

Mind-controlled video gaming - in an experiment at Washington University in St. Louis, four epilepsy patients with electrodes implanted in the surface of their brains to monitor seizure activity have learned how to use them to control a computer cursor and play a simple game. This is an exciting breakthrough, I think, and the potential benefits for paralysed and disabled people are boundless.

Spooky processing at a distance - quantum computing rears its ugly head once again, with two independent teams of researchers managing to "move" information between pairs of beryllium atoms. If you listen carefully, you can hear Mr Albert spinning gently in his grave...

And, finally, Vinod Khosla, co-founder of Sun Microsystems and leading Silicon Valley vulture capitalist, has warned that the burgeoning nanotech industry is ripe for fraud. Commenting on the imminent IPO of Nanosys, the first nanotech company to float publicly, Khosla says "whether they are doing it knowingly or unknowingly, there is a reasonably high likelihood that they will defraud the public market." Strong words indeed - but he knows whereof he speaks...


19th June

Very best wishes to my friend Colin, critically ill in hospital, and to Ali who right now can only watch and wait and hope. My thoughts are with you both...

horizontal rule

Ahhh, users - don't you just love them... We were hard at work yesterday (or what passes for work at the end of a Friday afternoon, at least) when one of my PFYs suddenly noticed that his laptop had locked onto a wireless LAN operating somewhere in the building. Now, officially we haven't actually implemented any wireless systems within the company, as to date there hasn't been a good enough business case to compensate for the massive security issues that inevitably arise the moment you move away from physical cabling. Because of this, it was only because by chance said PFY had neglected to remove the wireless card he uses when the laptop is at home that we actually spotted our rogue. Tracking it down has so far proved awkward, as although we have various oddments of older wireless hardware left over from various technology evaluations, the only modern 802.11g system capable of seeing the unknown access point was that one laptop - and unfortunately its 3Com network card isn't compatible with most of the popular WLAN sniffing utilities. When I left at four o'clock my colleague was wandering around the building with the laptop in hand, watching the signal strength gauge to try to narrow the culprit down to at least a particular floor and office area...


The moment security geeks have been waiting for - the Cabir virus attacks the Symbian operating system running on many modern smartphones, including products from Nokia, Siemens, Samsung, Sendo and Panasonic. Although the worm has flaws in its current form, and no significant payload (it can be thought of mostly as "proof of concept" code) it has the ability to jump from handset to handset via Bluetooth without either of the phones' users being aware of it. Apart from distributing spam, the obvious payload for a virus like this is to dial a premium rate number overseas, and with allegations of criminal gangs being involved in virus creation these days I don't imagine it will be long before that's exactly what we see. I think I'll be sticking with my boring, obsolete, over-sized and safe Motorola Timeport.

And while I'm on the topic of computer security and misuse:

Canadian spammer apologises and promises to reform... He won't send any more spam, he says, and has gone off to join a rock band instead. Given the disparity between the income of a major-league spammer and a minor-league drummer, I have to admit to being unconvinced...

Another Linux flaw - a bug in the kernel can be exploited by a few lines of C code to crash the system completely, but "it's not very serious", according to the gurus.  <sigh>  The dual standard maintained by Linux evangelists is outrageous.

SASSER informant also a suspect - the informant who tipped off Microsoft about  worm creator Sven Jaschan is under investigation as a possible suspect himself. Hah!

Akamai attack over-hyped - the DoS attack on Akamai earlier this week was no big deal, according to... well, according to Akamai, actually. But surely they would say that, wouldn't they?

Anti-spyware bill passed - intended to ensure that users are warned about all functions of the software they install, and to oblige manufacturers to provide complete and accessible uninstalling routines, nevertheless some experts are dubious that the law is appropriate and useful.

Free protection for home computers - enterprise computer security company Prevx has released a cut-down version of their intrusion detection and protection software, free for home users! I haven't used any of Prevx's products before (Ok, I hadn't even heard of the company until now!) but this is almost certainly a case of anything being better than nothing. Good for them!

Unsolicited faxing to get green light - a bill to significantly modify the 1991 Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, which prohibits unsolicited faxes and provides a legal mechanism to prosecute junk faxers and advertisers, is currently under examination in Congress. Unfortunately it's just another example of the US government unashamedly putting the demands of big business ahead of anything else.  :-(

Spam prosecutions pointless? - Thomas Greene, writing at The Register, questions whether there is actually any point in prosecuting spammers considering the current state of the legal system and the anti-spam laws. It takes so much work and time to sue a single spammer, costs so much, and has so little effect overall, that many ISPs are becoming disillusioned with the whole process.

The continuing war against Fair Use - beleaguered media backup company 321 Studios, prevented from selling their DVD copying software earlier this year, is now under fire from the games manufacturers. It looks likely that this will be the end for the company, and represents another successful attack on the rights of the consumer to use the products that they have paid for.

And finally, a marvellous show-piece rack server in a transparent Perspex case. It really is very pretty, but I think I'll stick to my black and gunmetal PowerEdge boxes...


17th June

I pointed one of my colleagues towards the ever-popular Think Geek catalogue, earlier, and we spotted all sorts of neat new things... One was an IPV6 version of my classic "There's no place like" T-shirt, which I think is marvellous, and while I was in that section I noticed another TCP/IP in joke - a T-shirt with SYN on the front, and ACK on the back; very clever! Best of all, though, was the USB desktop Aquarium - a motor generates a current in the water, allowing two model fish to swim around the 3½" high tank. At night the it is illuminated by a bright blue LED, and in the pictures the whole thing looks extremely cute. I'd certainly like to see one in the flesh...

Elsewhere, the multi-talented Dan Rutter is pontificating again, this time on the development and future of Augmented Reality. Even at this stage the technology is already more like the sunglasses in Gibson's "Virtual Light" than the gargoyles in Stephenson's "Snow Crash", and really the next step will be making the data available to the hardware - useful everyday information already exists in many disparate forms, but if it can be piped to a context-aware, location-aware wearable computer system (and advances in metropolitan area wireless networking make this quite plausible), the sky is literally the limit. Fascinating stuff!

Meanwhile, Nokia have come up with a new PR campaign for their network systems, and one of the characters has had my PFYs giggling at the resemblance they see to me... the vertically-haired Mr "I Have Security Issues", advocate for their firewall appliances, has a catchphrase that they find eerily familiar: "Is it safe?". I have decided to be charmed by their giggles, rather than simply deleting all their data, revoking their admin rights and changing their passwords to something both rude and unguessable... Obviously I'm mellowing in my middle years.

"Father of Nanotechnology" retracts Grey Goo scare - twenty years after his prophecies of potential doom and gloom in the canonical "Engines of Creation", Eric Drexler has admitted that maybe his worse-case scenario isn't something to worry about that much after all...

NASA needs to change - now, where have we heard that before? According to a Presidential Commission, NASA might be wise to subcontract spacecraft launches to the private sector. Even though there are clearly deep-rooted problems at the heart of the organisation, somehow that idea still manages to make me feel extremely sceptical indeed. Implementation is always the bugbear, with these private sector programmes...

RFID number plates to be introduced in the UK - just when you think you've heard everything, the government comes up with something even more scary and intrusive. The hardware manufacturer claims that the embedded tags could be read up to 100m away. Especially interesting, though, are the comments left by readers of the article. Although there are still a few of the usual "if you don't have anything to hide..." idiots, most people seem to be as chilled and annoyed by the concept as I am - a refreshing change.

And whilst on the subject of intrusive, repressive governments - two new technologies, about to be offered for sale to military and law enforcement, offer an equivalent to a Taser stun gun that can be used to incapacitate an entire crowd at a distance. Aside from the potential for excessively indiscriminate use during political demonstrations etc, human rights groups are concerned that no independent safety testing has actually been performed!

Tuesday's loss of connectivity to the major Akamai-hosted web sites seems to have been a concerted denial-of-service attack aimed at the DNS servers. Akamai's network is outrageously redundant and resilient, and at this stage it isn't clear whether a specific flaw was found and targeted, or whether the DDoS attack was on a scale unprecedented to date. This one is worth keeping an eye on...

And, finally, another plug for the Ruminations archive - an excellent collection of witty soundbites and off-the-wall aphorisms. My favourite is still one of Scott MacDonald's offerings:

Why do birds suddenly appear, every time you are near?
I mean, seriously, can't you do something about it?
That bird thing really creeps me out.

Well, it made me laugh!


15th June

Dan burps and emits more letters - and once again I am amazed by the breadth of his knowledge. This time he answers questions on modified X-Boxes, various sorts of batteries, and the space shuttle's main engine ignition sequence... Is there anything technical he doesn't know about?

More on the developing Infinium Labs / Phantom console saga - this time various company officers seem to have been lying to the US District Court that will be hearing their case against online tech journal [H]ard|OCP. I hadn't come across the Where Is Phantom web site, before, but it does seem to be the canonical source on Infinium.

Spam spam at Internet comic FoxTrot - another new one on me, but that particular cartoon made me smile...

Son of Patriot Act - with further sweeping powers for the FBI and provisions to hand out jail sentences for anyone who discloses that the act has been used against them, it's like the RIP on steroids. Unfortunately, this is a classic example of Goering's Maxim in action.

Oops! on a grand scale - major web hosting service Akamai dropped off-line completely for a few hours earlier today, taking with it the four biggest web sites in the world; Yahoo, MSN, Google and Microsoft.com. It isn't clear at this stage exactly what went wrong, but 100% resilience has always been one of Akamai's claims so I imagine there are a number of heads rolling even as I write this.

User Friendly on blogging - and as it's not too complimentary, I have decided to redefine Epicycle as a journal for the duration of the sequence. It starts here, and progresses for the next few days - "this 'blogging' is nothing more than degaussing your own coil!"


14th June

Hot, hot, hot! Some links to start the week:

Hard maths problems - Louis de Branges de Bourcia, a somewhat controversial mathematician working at Perdue University, has claimed to have proved the Riemann hypothesis which states that prime numbers are scattered completely randomly along the number line. Other mathematicians are dubious of his announcement, however, and if they are right instead then it may be possible to predict where prime numbers are likely to fall - which could have a significant impact on modern encryption systems, many of which rely in some way on unpredictable prime numbers...

Popular wireless routers buggy - two of the common home broadband router models from Linksys and NetGear have serious security weaknesses. The issue affecting the NetGear WG602 is particularly serious, and also particularly funny - during development, one of the company's subcontractors built in a back door administrator login with a fixed user ID and password, which can be accessed via both the Internet and the WLAN. Oops!

Intel's 486 CPU is fifteen years old this year - launched in 1989, in spite of Intel's extravagant PR the 486 was essentially only a 386 with a bag on the side. The bag contained an integrated floating point unit and 8Kb of on-die "pipeline" cache, allowing upcoming instructions to be retrieved ahead of time and stored in the fast local memory ready for use. Mike and I had a good bout of reminiscing about the old Intel CPUs, earlier, but it makes us both feel so ancient!

Near-monopoly British Telecom has issued a press release detailing their plans for the country's communication infrastructure over the next ten years or so. Their plans include migration away from the current switched and ATM networks to a system based on IP and Multiprotocol Label Switching, and the long-awaited fibre-optic cabling to bring "proper" broadband straight to the front door. Well, they can talk the talk, certainly, but unfortunately long and bitter experience suggests they may not be able (or willing!) to walk the walk...

A couple of links at the UK modding site Bit-Tech - an update on the stunning Orac Perspex case project, and the second part of a fascinating article written by a long-time Windows enthusiast discovering a Mac PowerBook. It's interesting to see which differences the author finds easy to adapt to, and which ones he gets totally hung up on.

And, finally, apropos of nothing at all - earlier on I suddenly thought of the annual Talk Like A Pirate Day, and spent five minutes wandering around saying "Arrrrr!". It's not until September 19th, though, so I've got plenty of time to completely forget about it as usual.


13th June

As soon as the flowers on one of my cacti started dying back, another started to bloom. It really is the season for it, too, as my mother's rather more extensive collection has burst into flower as well over the last few weeks. This one, I think, is a Rebutia iseliniana - although as before identification is a little uncertain. Interestingly, these flowers close up completely in the late afternoon, and then re-open again the next morning - not really a reaction to the ambient light, as it was still extremely bright and sunny when they started to close, but in response to some mysterious internal rhythm of their own.

Meanwhile, the RIAA is banging the same old drum again, this time demanding copy protection to be built in to digital radio broadcasts - evidently they're just not going to be happy until every single piece of music on the planet can only be listened to on a pay-per-use basis. One thing that we can be sure of, though, is that the artists themselves won't be any better off if the RIAA gets its way - the music publishing companies it represents seem to be getting better and better at siphoning money away from the people who really deserve it, whilst at the same time claiming that they're doing it to protect them! Don't you just love global corporate enterprise...

Elsewhere, two spyware utilities are compared at ASELabs - the classic Ad Aware and the new SpyBot S&D. I've just started using SpyBot (following my recent inadvertent brush with the current market-leading malware), and it's certainly an impressive utility -  but as the review suggests, for best results, especially on a heavily infected system, the two should be used together.

Finally, a mouse with blue LEDs and a built-in fan... Designed to cool a sweaty palm, not only does it not actually work, but it also seems to be a really cheap and nasty mouse anyway. Ah, well...


12th June

Every few weeks I get email from somebody who has seen something I've written here and wants clarification, or advice, or assistance. The questions are highly varied and often quite complex to answer in words - how to fit a tactical sling to an assault rifle, how to connect the disk LEDs on the X5DAL motherboard, how to configure a DRM-5004x CD library... you name it. The only common factor, really, is that after taking the time to write a reply (and sometimes even to take photographs or draw diagrams to illustrate the fine details) I usually don't get any response at all!

I must admit to being rather surprised and put out by this, but the general attitude seems to be depressingly common, and possibly I'm even doing better than most... My friend Mike has written an extremely popular add-on for a space flight simulator, for example, and for his pains has received a significant quantity of abuse, scorn, and rude demands both in email and on the public forums! Talk about serpents' teeth!

I'm not going to stop answering questions, though - I like to help, really, and it's all good for the ego - but dammit, people, even if I've been of no help at all a quick "thanks" wouldn't hurt... And if you think that what I've told you is completely wrong, the ravings of an idiot - well, if you fancy an argument you're quite free to tell me so. But say something, at least!

Meanwhile, elsewhere...

USB disk "library" - Dan has reviewed a couple of these before. They're clever gadgets, but I'm not really interested in something that can't actually read the data as well as just indexing the disk.

NT Backup help - everything you every wanted to know about the free but somewhat frustrating backup utility that ships with Windows. An invaluable resource if you're trying to achieve anything significant with this app...

Systemometer - an interesting graphical system monitoring utility. The reviewers are likening it to a radar display, but to me it looks like an oscilloscope trace of a non-linear electronic circuit.

Sphere 3D GUI  for Windows - imagine you're sat at the centre of a sphere, with your application windows plastered to the inner surface all around you. I've yet to be convinced that any of these alterative interfaces are more than a gimmick, though...

Ad company wants Spyware Control Act blocked - pop-up spammer WhenU.com is protesting that Utah's new legislation is infringing its freedom of speech. That defence just doesn't fly, for me...

Spiral ring reveals ancient complex machines - a Harvard physics grad student claims that precise spiral patterns carved into a jade ring show that Chinese craftsmen were using quite complex machines more than 2500 years ago.

Greedy hackers can hog Wi-Fi bandwidth - apparently the Linux operating system runs the 802.11 MAC layer in software rather than in the firmware of the network interface itself, and so a tiny change can over-ride the usual contention process to monopolise the available bandwidth.


11th June

Ah, the end of the week... I'm really not feeling very inspired, though, so it's just random links again...

Amusing place names close to where you live - enter your post code, and discover that you live just round the corner from Cock Pond, Pratt's Bottom, Titsey Park and Thong. Who knew!

Dan on audio rip-offs again - and a new record price for hi-fi patch leads, at more than £4300 for a pair of two metre cables. Boy, but some people have a lot more money than sense...

User Friendly on Sun's "hardware will be free" announcement - almost too true to be funny... but not quite.  :-)

The Prescott Survival Kit - AMD's marketroids making fun of Intel. The fan to protect against over-heating is pretty rich, for a company that didn't use to incorporate thermal protection into their CPUs...

Apple G5 not the world's fastest personal computer - it's official, now, so I guess my dual 3.06GHz Xeon can breath a sigh of relief.  <sneers>  G5, hah!

ISPs and abuse of copyright - an ISP's response to allegation of copyright violation may not be at all appropriate. The article also links to a web site covering your rights online - at least in the US...

McAfee class action suit result - I hadn't come across this before, but if you bought VirusScan V3 or V4 in the US, you're entitled to free software to compensate for the lack of promised upgrades.

SCO revenue cut in half - firing everybody except the attorneys can't be helping, there, and in the long term guarantees their complete failure as any kind of a serious computer company...

US spammers turn to Russian criminals - as the the ISPs crack down and the prosecutions start to bite in America, the most dedicated spammers are buying time on networks of zombie PCs.

Microsoft appealing against Eolas - as well as asking for the patent itself to be re-examined, MS are also asking for the unprecedented $565 million award to be reversed or at least reduced.

And, finally... how not to have cybersex - I remember linking to one of these before, but the canon seems to have expanded since then and some of the new ones really brought a smile.


10th June

I'm very glad that the temperature has eased a little today, as one of my UPSes overheated yesterday. In the middle of the evening I started hearing an odd intermittent chirping noise that was obviously a hardware alarm of some kind, but it proved really hard to track it down. In the general direction that the noise was coming from there are two PCs, a tape library, a printer, three UPSes and various other oddments, and it took me an hour or two to decide that it was actually the little Back-UPS Pro 1400 that feeds the network hardware - especially as the noise continued even when the UPS was shut down!

Once I moved the UPS out from under the desk, though, the excessive temperature became extremely obvious - the metal base, directly under the batteries, was actually too hot to touch comfortably. In fact, it was still too hot to touch (and didn't actually seem to have cooled down at all) after two hours out in the evening air of the garden. Although to seems to be working Ok now, I suspect that the high temperatures will have reduced the battery life significantly - sealed lead acid cells really don't like getting too hot - and I'm expecting the worst when I come to test the run-time at the weekend.


Stanford and JPL are collaborating on a robotic climber - "Lemur" is destined to climb cliffs on Mars and help rescue earthquake victims, and can already follow a human climber up an irregular surface without any external control.

There is already malware to exploit the two recent Internet Explorer flaws - the I-Lookup addon purports to be a toolbar utility, but actually brings advertising pop-ups into the victim's system. Apparently Microsoft is considering legal action against the company.

Bruce Sterling on the State of the Net - the digital revolution has turned into a digital mess, says Sterling, and computer users need the U.S. government to crack down on the thieves preying on the Net. I have mixed feelings about that, of course...

Dan reviews the Time Machine clock - I really love all the ramps and balls and levers, and I've wanted  one for ages... They do seem to be rather less expensive than I'd remembered, now, and having read Dan's article I think I may actually treat myself.

Virtual Hideout has a brief history of case-modding - ah, and it feels like only yesterday when I first cut a pair of giant holes in the front of a PC case... These days both pre-modded cases and modding components are available over the counter at the most unlikely places, though, and I can't help but feel that some of the fun has gone out of the hobby...

Fedora bug squeezes out Windows - under some circumstances, apparently the new build of Red Hat's Fedora desktop Linux disables Windows partitions on the same drive. Imagine if a new Windows build had disabled Linux partitions - the lawn dwarves would be screaming conspiracy and monopoly and crimes against humanity!


9th June

The weather is still thoroughly sticky and unpleasant, it's the middle of a busy week, and the fish heads have spoiled in the heat. I guess that just leaves random links...

Thanks to Ars.Technica - the definitive solution for that annoying glitch when Internet Explorer saves all image types as BMPs. As most of us have worked out, by now, the fix is essentially to empty the cache and reboot...

And talking of bugs in Internet Explorer - security consultancy Secunia has released details of two new IE6 vulnerabilities. No patch exists as yet (although the upcoming Windows XP SP2 is likely to remove the issue) but Secunia recommends disabling active scripting support for all but trusted web sites. Meanwhile, Microsoft have quietly released patch KB839643 via Windows Update, for a rather less significant vulnerability that can allow an attacker to crash a DirectX game... I won't be losing any sleep over that one.

Microsoft have also released an add-on for their beta Operations Manager 2005 systems monitoring suite. While MOM is watching your servers, applications and network systems, the tool watches MOM, and you watch the tool... Next, presumably, is a tool to watch the tool, so you don't have to.

Elsewhere, Dan has unleashed another pair of letters columns, and returns to the subject of outrageously over-priced audio cables. In passing, he links to a site that debunks a number of the silly myths surrounding hi-fi, which makes very interesting reading. If you're the sort who is easily influenced by consumer electronics salesmen, I suggest you take a look before you contemplate spending several thousand pounds on a power lead...

On a lighter note - via The Sideshow, music made by playing the default Windows sounds (the Beep, the Ding, the Chimes, etc) through multiple instances of Sound Recorder. It sounds much better than you'd think, and actually has rather tickled me. It has... uh... "character".

On an even lighter note - I stumbled across the Satanic Hamster Dance, parodying the famous original. The creator of the original is not amused, however, and has threatened legal action. Sheesh, some people are so sensitive!

And finally, lighter still - thanks to Ros, the canonical definition of a bastard.


7th June

Damn, but it's hot in London right now! My PFY put a thermometer out on the windowsill of our office, this morning, but had to bring it back in at lunchtime in case it melted in the heat... Even the computer room was uncomfortably warm, thanks to our growing rack of Dell PowerEdge 2650 servers - I wonder if it's time to upgrade the aircon again...

Meanwhile, an article at The Register brings news of an interesting flavour of music sharing. Created by Mercora, a company owned by Srivats Sampath, the founder of anti-virus company McAfee, the free software streams music from a user's hard disk onto the net, effectively turning a broadband-connected PC into a amateur internet radio station. The quirk is that the company has acquired various music performance licenses, principally a "non-interactive digital audio webcasting licence" under the terms of the DMCA, and Sampath claims that as long as users only broadcast music that they have already bought on CD then all is above board. It remains to be seen what the RIAA et al will think of this claim, and it is also unclear exactly where the revenue for the business model will come from - but it's certainly an idea that bears watching.

Elsewhere, Windows XP wireless networking issues - there seems to be a well documented problem with the Zero Administration subsystem in WinXP, and it's causing a whole bunch of fuss. I actually encountered this problem myself a few weeks ago, although I didn't understand what was actually happening and worked around the issue by installing the hardware manufacturer's own management utility. There is a relatively painless work-around for the built-in utility, though, first documented at Ars.Technica.

Dan reviews Lian Li's new PC-V1000 case - and it's refreshingly different. I really like the look of the over-sized PC-V2000 myself, though.

The iBIZ virtual keyboard - another idea straight out of science fiction, projecting a glowing red keyboard outline onto a suitable flat surface, and then reading the position of your fingers as you type on it. It's not actually on the market as yet, though, so I am awaiting the first real reviews before allowing myself to become enthusiastic...

A dedicated remover for the evil CoolWebSearch browser trojan - this malware is particularly insidious and hard to remove, as well as being updated extremely frequently, so it's nice to know that the white hats are there to help.

Man-made private islands - an archipelago of 300 artificial islands off the coast of Dubai, laid out in the form of the continents of the world. The web site doesn't mention anything as sordid as money, of course, but the article I saw quoted starting prices in the millions...


6th June

So, Ronald Reagan has died... And just as when Nixon died, it seems that everyone in the mainstream media has conveniently forgotten all the wretched, loathsome, corrupt aspects of his administration and is holding him up as a sadly-departed distinguished elder statesman. So, just to keep things in perspective, this is the man who:

Spent one trillion dollars on defence, in spite of the fact that the US was nominally at peace... Although he had no compunctions in invading Grenada, bombing Libya, and giving significant financial and military support to brutal dictatorships in El Salvador and Guatemala and to brutal right-wing guerrillas in Angola, Mozambique and Afghanistan.

Was guilty of, at the very least, extreme negligence and foolishness over the monstrous and convoluted Iran/Contra affair, which was ultimately responsible for the current high levels of crack cocaine usage in American inner cities. Ironically, he also poured funds and resources into the pointless War On (Some) Drugs, with all the grief that brought to the many people who's lives it has shattered.

Tripled the national debt, to pay for his military adventures, his failed domestic policies, and the doomed "Star Wars" programme - and then attempted to blame it all on his predecessor Jimmy Carter.

Presided over federal agencies like HUD and FEMA, which now stand exposed as cesspools of corruption, as well as supporting the law that triggered the subsequent Savings and Loan scandal.

Completely ignored the spread of HIV and AIDS until in practical terms it was too late, in order to appease the religious right wing fundamentalists who considered it god's punishment for homosexual behaviour.

Was an FBI informer in the days of the Hollywood blacklist, and had his campaign aides steal President Carter's briefing papers ahead of the crucial 1980 TV debate.

Scheduled most of his presidential activities based on advice from his wife's astrologer, and believed since the early seventies that a literal biblical Armageddon was just around the corner.

Had a penchant for including in his speeches wildly inaccurate statistics or complete falsehoods in order to grab headlines and provoke dissension and bigotry.

Left as his legacy a widely-held public opinion that liberal beliefs and politics are weak, corrupt, detestable and even anti-American - and in the long term this may be the worst of all, for both the US and the rest of the world.

And finally - he really, truly was as dumb as a stick. The soundbites prove this, and it is only because subsequent luminaries Dan Quayle and Dubya are even more dumb that we've tended to forget the Reaganisms...


4th June

Que es mas macho? Dagenham, o Bellochantuy?

I think we all know the answer to that question...


Meanwhile, 959 new viruses were spotted last month according to Sophos. I agree with [H]ard|OCP's staff writer Steve Lynch, here - that's 900-odd people who badly need their asses kicking.

Hotmail loses some poor sap's data - and apparently most of the other big online service providers have managed the same trick in recent years. It's a salutary lesson - put not your faith in other people's backups, or you shall be caught out big-time sooner rather than later...

Health scare from computer dust - several groups studying environmental and health issues relating to computers have suggested that polybrominated diphenyl ether fire retardant chemicals (also used in other electronic devices including televisions, audio systems, and household appliances) may present a risk to health. This certainly bears watching.  [Update: additional coverage at Ars.Technica]

Pop-up adverts are getting more sneaky, according to a comprehensive article at News.Com. No real surprises there, of course, but it will be interesting to see what happens when Service Pack 2 for Windows XP arrives in the summer. SP2 will add a popup blocker to Internet Explorer, and although the browser's complete market dominance may threaten the existence of pop-ups as a useful technique, on the other hand it will also mean that the advertisers only have to find a way around a single blocking technology.

80% of spam now comes from zombie PCs - a study by network management firm Sandvine suggests that home PCs infected with viruses such as SoBig and Migmaf are the source of most of the world's spam. We really, really need the ISPs to take action over this RIGHT NOW - any PC sending mail directly rather than through the ISP's own SMTP server should be flagged and investigated.

Network Associates are to include a software firewall and intrusion detection system in the next version of their VirusScan Enterprise client. As an admin of their corporate AV systems I have to admit to mixed feelings - I approve of anything that increases the security of the desktop systems I support, but the client-side installation is already rather bloated and fragile and I'm concerned that these additions will make things considerably worse.

And, finally - I'm not quite sure of the background to the story, but this thread at RoakokeLanParty has wonderful pictures of an office cubicle and all its contents totally, completely and utterly covered in aluminium foil. A practical joke on a colleague, green ink paranoia, or installation art? You tell me...


3rd June

I have come here to chew fish heads and post links. And I'm all out of fish heads.

At least, I think that's what he said...

Dual-core CPUs from ARM - I have a soft spot for this company, as before they were Advanced Risc Machines they were Acorn Risc Machines - and before that, just plain Acorn, creator of the Atom and BBC Micro home computers that I grew up with in the late seventies and early eighties. It brings a warm, fuzzy glow to know that (in one form or another) the company is still in business.

NASA seeks robots to fix Hubble Telescope - suddenly the media is buzzing with this story. For reasons I never really appreciated, when the decision to axe the Hubble Programme was announced the general public were outraged, and the prospect of a reprieve has proved very popular.

SpaceShipOne next manned set for June 21 - only a sub-orbital, and still only with a single pilot, but if all goes well this time the pair or 100 kilometre fully-manned flights required to win the X-Prize could easily be planned for the late summer.

Forget splitting atoms, split a banana - a study funded by the Australian government is investigating the possibility of using fermenting bananas as a source of energy for housing estates. Apparently bananas provide a better source of methane than other fruit, and as up to 30 per cent of the nation's banana crop doesn't survive to reach the consumers, it could be a lucrative prospect.

Massive black holes common in early Universe - black holes are far more common than was previously thought, it seems, but most of them are sneakily hiding in dust clouds. Hah - ever since reading Gregory Benford's Eater, recently, I knew they couldn't be trusted!


2nd June

Midweek, and a busy one at that, so just some quick links...

In the future, computer hardware will be free... We've heard that before, of course, but if both Sun and Microsoft are saying so, then it might even be true! Like the proverbial free lunch, though, the costs will be concealed elsewhere - in this case, in the licensing terms for the software you rent to run on the free hardware. And note that usage of the word "rent" - that's the critical factor, here, I think...

Also at Ars - what will the future hold for the PC BIOS, and will it be open source or proprietary? With Intel, Phoenix and Microsoft all doing a strange, three-cornered dance of contradictory press releases, the way forward is not exactly clear!


Finally, Tom's Hardware Guide has just released their dual CPU management tool - but unfortunately the performance gains from dedicating particular apps to particular processors seem to be relatively insignificant, even with their utility! The article did answer a question that I've puzzled over before, though - in a HyperThreading PC, such as my hard-working dual Xeon system shown above, the first two graphs are the real CPUs, and the second two are the virtual processors.


1st June

According to Channel 4's Rich-O-Meter, at my salary I am among the 5.82% richest people in the UK! There are around 3,364,330 people richer than me, apparently, and about 54,435,670 people who are poorer. Now, I don't think of myself as particularly well off, so that is a eyebrow-raising set of figures - the curve after me, up towards the people on salaries of a hundred thousand or more, must be incredibly steep! To make things worse, though, the worldwide statistics are sobering in the extreme - even on my modest salary, 99.05% of the people in the world are worse off than I am...

There seems to be something of an obsession with salaries in the media, today, as on this morning's BBC news I heard that the difference in income between men and women doing the same jobs has actually been increasing! The employers responsible for this should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves - but unfortunately it seems that corporate Britain has no ethics or morals any more, and instead they're probably delighted that the bottom line of the accounts is looking so rosy. New Mercedes all round, chaps!  :-(


It's amazing what the threat of a lawsuit will do to a website's stats... Together with some linkage from a couple of far more popular weblogs, the extra attention from people interested in my dispute with Area 51 Airsoft has brought a record number of readers. It's interesting to note, though, that increase in the number of page views was almost exactly the same as the increase in the number of viewers - in other words, most people only stayed long enough to read one page! The ingrates!

I'm going to have to do something even more outrageous next month to top this - but in the meantime feel free to encourage me by voting at the Tweakers Australia Top 50. And if you don't - well, bear in mind that the next griping page could be about you...



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