An unobservant bozo ran into the side of my beloved BMW
on a roundabout, last weekend, but fortunately my ruinously expensive
fully comprehensive insurance policy has provided a rather opulent
Mercedes C270 while repairs are being made. Of course, this has resulted
in everybody who has seen me getting in or out of it in the company car
park informing me that I'm obviously being paid too much, and even after
I've explained that it isn't actually mine they still seem sceptical. It
seems odd that they're happy to accept a twenty-something wide-boy
salesman in the same sort of car (and, believe me, as a sysadmin I know
exactly how little time most of our salesmen actually spend working,
as opposed to sending animated pictures of bouncing boobies to each other
via email) but apparently can't adjust to a hard-working senior techy
possessing the same sort of luxury. We are not a highly-valued breed, on
the whole, are we!
The real irony, though, is that apart from the colour,
the courtesy car is almost exactly the same model that ran into my BMW!
It's probably some sort of karma thing...
Meanwhile, elsewhere - at the excellent
Unconventional Airsoft, useful information on various versions of the
Dragunov sniper rifle, and on KSC's replica of the
M11 machine pistol. The site is a comprehensive and interesting
Cube cases make a revival -
reviewed at Tom's Hardware, an impressive set of cases from
Mountain Mods. It
almost makes me want to re-build
<sigh> Maybe next year!
Via The Register, last week -
boss can't wait to sue British file sharers. I was warning a teen
acquaintance that he couldn't count on downloading free music for much
longer (at least not with the current technology) and this seems to bear
that out. Well, it was only a matter of time...
I'm going to have to update the
griping pages as soon as I have a
moment, as over the last couple of weeks I've encountered another pair of
companies for whom customer service is merely something they once heard a
Over a month ago, now, I ordered an ADSL router from
Zion Media to use when I finally
move house and abandon the old BT-managed box. I received a flurry of
automated status messages over the next two days, and then... nothing.
After a while I sent an email asking for a status update - and then
another, and then another, and then another... All were completely
ignored, until finally I fell back on the old favourite angry e-customer
technique of CCing every address given on the web site. This eventually
produced a reply from the managing director himself, apologising and
The action arrived the next day, in the shape of a
single line of text (which nevertheless managed to contain two spelling
mistakes) from an unknown author, explaining that the router I had ordered
had been discontinued by the manufacturer, and that they would provide a
replacement. Now, call me fussy if you must, but actually I really wanted
to know exactly what they proposed to replace it with - I had
chosen the particular model I ordered after long and comprehensive
research and, besides, well, I admit it - I am fussy about my
network hardware! Needless to say, no further information has been
forthcoming from the company, so this evening I emailed the MD again
(along with everyone else I'd ever been in contact with there, just to
make my point) and we will see what transpires over the next few days.
The second disappointment has been the GPS hardware
specialist NavCity, the online trading
name of Tottenham Court Road electronics supplier R.I.A Technologies Ltd.
I placed the order for a Navman GPS unit on the 11th of September, at the
weekend, and when my credit card was debited promptly on Monday morning I
naively assumed that it was a promising sign for a speedy delivery. Hah!
In fact, I heard nothing at all from them for more than two weeks, with
seven email messages (the last few also CCed to hell and back) and two
faxes completely ignored. Today I finally got a response to yet another
fax (although presumably only because this one mentioned the small claims
court) when a very polite man phoned to explain that they'd had a faulty
batch of hardware and were waiting for replacement stock. They may be able
to get me my Navman before I actually need it for the journey planned for
this weekend, but frankly I'm not especially confident.
Now, in both of these cases I don't really care whether
the excuses given are true (problems do arise in the supply chain,
I know, and the reasons given may well be 100% accurate) but actually that
is completely irrelevant to me. In this day and age it takes only a few
seconds to send an email message, and a company who doesn't even have the
basic standards of courtesy to reply to a customer's enquiry until threats
of legal action are made does not know how to run a business. To me, an
explanation for the delay makes all the difference between a
disappointment and a major annoyance - I can and will forgive a late
delivery, but what I will not forgive is having to drag order
status information out of a company using chains and hooks!
I do not expect to have to send email after email, fax
after fax, without any response at all - and making me do so is the best
way of ensuring that your company ends up featuring in my
griping pages along with the
others. NavCity and Zion Media - I will not be shopping from you
Meanwhile, my space-head friend Mike has reminded me
that tomorrow SpaceShipOne is scheduled for
the first flight
in the pair required for the Ansari X Prize. Rutan's team, apparently now
referred to as
Mojave Aerospace Ventures instead of being named after the
manufacturing company Scaled Composites,
is the clear leader at present and I think it's likely that that they will
win the prize by a considerable margin. However, nothing is certain in
space flight (just ask NASA!) and we will all have to wait and see...
Elsewhere, another of those tests - this time to see if
you can tell the difference between
dog toys and sex toys.
For reasons that escape me, the two actually tend to bear a remarkable
resemblance to each other, but fortunately I had an almost perfect
recognition rate and so apparently I'm deemed safe to be left in charge of
a dog. Oh, goody!
Anyone who somehow still isn't sure of the direction
that the US government is taking, these days, will be enlightened and
informed by this link from yesterday's
Eccentricity: Because Cat Stevens is back in the news, one of my
colleagues at work was reminded that she had not yet replaced one of her
old Cat Stevens record albums (which she'd had since she was 10 years
old) with the CD version. She went to Hastings here in town last night
about 7 p.m. and bought a copy on her credit card. At 9:15 last night,
she received a phone call from the "Regional Homeland Security Office"
asking why she bought that CD.
George Orwell's 1984 is twenty years late, but it's
sure as hell here today. Chilling...
Meanwhile, on a lighter note... Anyone who followed up
the link to John Cleese's web site,
last month, will probably have received email today announcing the
official launch on the 17th October. Curiously, one thing missing from the
announcement was the address of the site itself, and as I couldn't
remember the URL off-hand, a wild stab in the dark took me to
johncleese.co.uk - where I
discovered instead the home page of someone who purports to be a
professional Cleese look-alike and impersonator, but who doesn't actually
seem look very much like him at all! I think it's quite restrained of the
real Cleese to have resisted the temptation to snatch the domain from him,
actually - it's a blatant case of "passing off", and I'm sure the UK
registrar Nominet wouldn't hesitate to reassign the name if requested...
GMail Notifier -
lives in your system tray, and makes a fuss when new messages arrive in
your GMail box. Probably a very useful thing if you're using GMail as a
primary account. And, talking of email, a Spanish company is offering a
parting shots service, allowing you send final email messages
(complete with video clip or photo attachments) to loved ones, friends or
even enemies, after your death. Hmmm.
Earth martial arts - an interview at sword geeks site
Sword Forum (who knew!), explains how
considerable pains were taken to give the different races in the LotR
movies a fundamentally different fighting style. I've only seen the first
two films once each, as yet, so these nuances have completely escaped me,
but that's exactly the sort of attention to detail that makes a great film
from a good one...
Powering computers with spinach? Oh, come on... A team at MIT are
using proteins from spinach in a composite sandwich of glass, gold and an
organic semiconductor, to make a kind of photosynthetic fuel cell. This
kind of technology is a long way from being anything even slightly
useful, at this stage, but will certainly be big in years to come.
And, finally, modding site PimpRig has
a guide to covering your PC in fabric - for that Martha Stewart
Living look, presumably, and whilst it's an interesting idea I don't
think I'll be rushing to cover my
tinted Perspex windows any
time soon. Well, not until they're completely unfashionable,
One of the unquestioned benefits of the recent boom in
weblogging and live journals is that, when one is wallowing in
misery/nostalgia/teen angst/unrequited love/whatever, and playing sad
songs to maximise the self-inflicted pain, at least one can do one's
damnedest to spread the gloom to everyone else as well. If my web server
was online, rather than safely packed away in a box full of bubble-wrap
ready for the move, I could even provide a soundbite - but as it is we'll
just have to survive on a fragment of lyrics alone...
And I said, "What about
'Breakfast at Tiffany's'?"
She said, "I think I
remember the film,
and as I recall, I think
we both kind of liked it"
And I said, "Well that's
the one thing we've got"
- Deep Blue Something, "Breakfast at Tiffany's"
Elsewhere, via the Odd Toys feature in the current
Fortean Times, what else but odd toys:
Teddy Scares has a collection of
the most unpleasant teddies I've ever seen, including a sack-clad
axe-murderer and one made from spare parts;
Toxic Teddies has mutants,
suicides, druggies and perverts;
Toy Vault has the
soft, cuddly Lovecraftian horrors mentioned here before and, finally,
well, real shrunken heads. Who would have thought it!
Microsoft launches new anti-spammer suit - this time they are
targeting a web host describing itself as a "bullet proof" home for junk
mailer, if but presumably not for long! It should be noted that Microsoft
are currently fighting
more than 100 lawsuits against spammers, worldwide - is any other
private organisation doing so much?
nerds facing off - Red Hat's VP Michael Tiemann and Sun's President
Jonathan Schwartz are bitch-slapping each other online over the costs of
ownership and management of each other's respective operating systems.
It's fascinating to watch, really... :-)
Today's modding project - mounting a small LCD into a 3½"
external drive bay. Rather a clever idea, actually, and surprisingly
not one I've actually seen before. I still have
a Matrix Orbital unit that I need to do something useful with, when my
life settles down a little again...
The first hotfix for WinXP Service Pack 2 has been released already -
it's the fix for a performance problem and a connectivity issue in the VPN
service, and, for the first time, is only available to users with a
properly licensed and validated copy of the operating system.
Now, this is a game I want -
Evil Genius, due out next
month, casts the player in the role of a Bond-style super-villain... Build
your secret lair, recruit and train henchmen, construct a doomsday device,
and fight off the secret agents and government troops when they come
calling. I'll be keeping an eye out
for this one...
- a neatly done, hard-hitting political animation,
And, finally -
a mobile phone ring tone that makes one's boobies bigger? Hmm. I don't
think so, Tim...
Today's email brought an invitation from Microsoft to
attend a gala shindig organised by
Great news! Exchange Server 2003 has been
short-listed for a top award at the forthcoming Computing Awards for
Excellence - and it's all thanks to Xxxxxxx!
We used the
Xxxxxxx case study as evidence of the productivity and efficiency
benefits that Exchange Server 2003 can bring and the judges have put us
through to as one of three finalists for the Network &Communications
Product of the Year Award.
We have reserved a table at the awards and would
like to invite you (or a colleague if you cannot make it) to join us for
a night of celebration.
Well, what do you know! Just when I thought that all
the fuss had died down, here we go again... I don't think I'll actually
attend (unless I can persuade them to make room for a friend, too, in
which case it might be fun) but I have to admit that I'm rather pleased at
the invitation. Being a high profile beta tester for Microsoft has been a
experience, all in all!
Elsewhere, out of the limelight and safely back in the
shadows again - the quickest of quick links:
Laptop skins -
designer. The latter are actually being given away free in very small
numbers, but you'll have to track down the correct URL yourself!
unusual holsters - shotgun scabbards, and shoulder rigs for SMGs and
machine pistols. Marvellous stuff... :-)
After last month's
an absurd mouse - filled with water and complete with a free-floating
plastic fish, but you'll have to take my word for it as for some unknown
the URL that went to a review, this morning, now goes straight to the
FBI's web site instead!
Hybrid airsoft prototypes - Arnie's Airsoft has news of some
very unusual replicas, with a trigger-operated electric solenoid
controlling the gas delivery valve. A sign of things to come, perhaps?
And I thought last week at the office was busy...
Janet Jackson's boobie costs CBS $550,000 in fines - approximately $1
for each of the 542,000 complaints received by the FCC. It
really does seem to me that there are more important things to make a fuss
about, though - if half a million people had written to the Supreme Court
complaining about the way they allowed Dubya to steal the 2000 election,
Courtesy of PC Stats, a guide to understanding
and avoiding the Windows
Screen Of Death. I wasn't expecting much, I have to admit, but
actually this is rather a useful guide, with common sense explanations of
some of the more frequent BSOD messages.
- a wonderful idea, the classic Pong computer game reincarnated as an
electro-mechanical device. It's completely pointless, beautifully
executed, and is probably even more fun to watch in action than to
actually play. I thoroughly approve!
under fire for fakes and forgeries - the auction site has always
claimed that it can't be held liable for items sold via its service, but
this "common carrier" status could be questioned a lawsuit from fine arts
house Tiffany comes to fruition. It's another sign of a disturbing trend,
Quick links from
release slimmed-down Playstation 2 - the imaginatively named PStwo.
opt-out exploit - as if confirming your email address wasn't bad
Jeeves goes up against Google - one of a growing number of
re-vamped search engines.
get mass surveillance cameras - but will it beat Newham, my local
Links! Git yer links here! Luverly links! Get 'em while
Sasser author given job in IT security - Sven Jaschan, author of the
NetSky and Sasser worms, has been employed by German security company
Securepoint as a trainee software
developer working on security products such as firewalls. I can't believe
how irresponsible this is - we need to be sending a clear message to virus
writers that the IT industry has no place for them, and not encouraging
the next generation of script kiddies looking for a fast-track to a job in
security. I'm sending mail to Securepoint expressing my concerns, and I
don't imagine that I'll be alone...
A million monkeys? - A company called
eProvisia is offering a unique
spam-filtering solution: they detect spam not by using clever algorithms,
but instead an army of human beings! The special introductory offer is
only $20 per year, which is certainly extremely reasonable - but the
confidentiality implications would need careful thought...
[Update: This now appears to be a well executed hoax]
Found Some Of Your Life - after finding the memory card from a digital
camera in the back of a New York taxi, this charming blogger has decided
to post the images one by one, every day, together with commentary of his
own devising. However, although there were actually 227 pictures, he seems
to have stopped after only a few months - did he come to realise that it
was in very poor taste, I wonder, or did somebody point out the potential
legal problems... ?
Kerry on science and technology - an article in Nature magazine poses
15 key questions, ranging from climate change to stem cell research via
the political manipulation of science, and then gives each candidate's
response. It has to be said that both sets of statements are long on
political rhetoric, but to my mind Kerry comes across as a clear winner.
to sue IBM for fraud - Just when you thought it was safe to go back in
the server room, now it's really getting complex... SCO seems to be
about to claim that back at the end of the ill-fated Monterey Unix
project, IBM deliberately initiated and then abandoned a secondary Unix
development just to acquire licensing rights from SCO to use in their war
against Sun. Oh, boy! As I've said before, this one is going to run and
code thief caught? - a 20 year old English man has been arrested in
possession of what is believed to be 800Mb of source code for Cisco's IOS
router and switching systems, stolen from Cisco's internal development
servers earlier this year and briefly made available on a Russian cracking
site back in May. The UK's Computer Misuse Act under which he has been
charged is a relatively toothless law, so it will be interesting to see
I upgraded to the latest version of
Winamp, yesterday, and while I was
looking for a replacement to the
analogue VU meters I used to enjoy on the old version 2 (I didn't find
one half as good, by the way) I stumbled across the excellent
R4 visualisation package.
I've been fond of this sort of sound-to-light eye candy since the days of
the BBC Micro, and used to spend
many happy hours in front of
Cthugha until its development stalled and a series of video card
upgrades gradually left it behind. R4 is definitely a worthy successor,
though, with an impressively wide range of smooth, complex and pretty
animations. Something that really sets it apart from its predecessors,
though, is the ability to be controlled remotely - when running it acts as
a web server, publishing a list of thumbnails representing all the
available modules, and also provides basic control of Winamp - play and
pause, volume up and down, etc. This is a very nice touch for someone with
a wireless enabled laptop, and once I've moved house and have re-installed
the S-Video cabling between the PC and the television it's going to make a
very neat toy for unwinding in front of at the end of a busy day at the
Kong Exchange - Everything you ever wanted to know about the most
excellent movie Big trouble In Little China, including all the
usual FAQs, trivia, downloads, and merchandise. Indeed!
releases beta CD - this really made me laugh... "The project,
which is led by open-source advocate Bruce Perens, aims to give businesses
a high quality Linux operating system that is accompanied by
certifications and support options, but without the price and licensing
policies associated with Linux distributions from commercial vendors".
Does anyone else find this deeply, deeply ironic?
implicated in air traffic shutdown - A three-hour system outage
affecting South California's airports was apparently caused by a techy who
failed to reboot a server when scheduled - the report claims that the
Windows-based replacement for a previous Unix system needed to be reset
every thirty days "to prevent data overload"! Presumably this is
some kind of egregious resource leak in the application, though, and I
really don't think that it's fair or accurate to blame Microsoft for what
sounds like a low-quality, amateurish, unfinished development project.
writers ask AV industry for job - the authors of the current MyDoom U
and V flavours have embedded a message in the code that states "We
searching 4 work in AV industry". If they're serious, then they're
deluding themselves - I think I can state with a fair degree of certainty
that no reputable company would touch the little shits with a bargepole.
Or with somebody else's bargepole, for that matter...
Children in Nicaragua give birth to new language - in the absence of
any formal instruction, deaf children have invented their own language, a
sophisticated and flexible system of signing that has matured and grown
over the twenty five years since their school was founded. Opportunities
to study the evolution of a new language are so rare as to be almost
non-existent, and language theorists everywhere are probably foaming at
the mouth with excitement.
LA porn industry
stung by first condom fines - two production companies, Evasive Angles
and TTB Productions, have been fined more than $30,000 for allowing their
actors to perform without condoms. The legislation under which they are
being charged was implemented earlier this year, after five actors were
discovered to be HIV+, and the Californian OSHA says that porn actors have
the same legal right to a safe workplace as employees in more conventional
First, a reminder - tomorrow, Sunday, is the annual
Talk Like A Pirate Day.
I usually forget about this until after it's been and gone, so I'm pleased
that this year I spotted a reminder at
in plenty of time.
In the meantime, though...
Symantec are to acquire security firm @Stake - Ok, now, let's get this
straight, people: this is not a "security consultancy firm" in any
conventional sense: until their rebranding exercise a couple of years ago,
it was the hacking group L0pht, creators of the infamous L0phtCrack
password decrypting and capturing tool designed for breaking into NT-based
networks! Since donning their veneer of respectability, however, @Stake
have applied a matching veneer to their software products, repositioning
them as auditing utilities rather than the hacking tools they were
originally designed to be, and in doing so the company has somehow managed
to achieve an element of respectability in the security community.
The acquisition is another sign of Symantec's voracious
to own every software house that hasn't already been bought by
Microsoft, and in this case specifically to acquire appropriate products
with which to fight the perpetual war against long-time rival
McAfee/Network Associates. Everybody fusses about Microsoft's acquisitions
(although actually they have been few and far between in recent years) but
for some reason Symantec has been allowed to gobble up any number of once
independent software houses without a single eyebrow being raised.
Applications that are now their flagship products, but which were acquired
as part of a corporate takeover rather than being developed in-house,
include WinFax, Brightmail, ProComm, Partition Magic, pcAnywhere, and, of
course, the Norton range that originally started the trend so many years
ago. It is traditional that once a product has been re-branded into the
company stable, though, development slows down, support dries up, and the
end-user's experience is normally the worse for it...
Elsewhere, a Microsoft employee has preserved every
single spam message and virus mail received since mid-1997, and has now
presented the results graphically for our edification and delight. I
guess, even at Microsoft, some people have far too much time on their
Pretty pictures notwithstanding, though, the whole spam
thing is really starting to get me down. Our filters at the office are
still something of a work in progress, and this means that unfortunately I
have to manually process a large quantity of spam looking for false
positives. Norbert Wiener suggested that if one competes with slaves one
eventually becomes a slave, and there is something similarly
degrading about competing with spammers. To spot spam quickly and reliably
I have to understand all the little tricks and twists they use to disguise
their content, and in best hunting serial killers fashion this
seems to involve trying to get into the mind of the spammer himself - and,
frankly, I want to spend as little time inside the minds of spammers as
possible. So I am really, really looking forward to the time when I
can leave the entire email filtering process to the automation, rather
than a long, tedious chore to be ploughed through every morning. If I see
one more advert for "V1agra", I think I'm going to scream!
Evidently I've been feeling all literary, today, as
I've had had a few lines from a poem running endlessly through my head.
It's the start of "Impossible To Tell", written by US poet laureate
Robert Pinsky, and is a haunting and fascinating piece of writing -
complete with two jokes...
Slow dulcimer, gavotte and bow, in autumn,
Bashõ and his friends go out to view the moon;
In summer, gasoline rainbow in the gutter,
The secret courtesy that courses like ichor
Through the old form of the rude, full-scale joke,
Impossible to tell in writing.
If you have Real Player,
you can listen
to Pinsky introducing the poem and then reading it, together with
several other poems, during a 1997 presentation at UNC Chapel Hill. It's
not an especially good quality recording, but literature is often best
when read by its own author and I think its worth it anyway.
Note that I would make a definite exception to that
rule for science fiction grand master Isaac Asimov, who reads his own
works (and presumably anyone else's, too) so badly that there just isn't a
term to describe it. The strong Brooklyn accent doesn't help, of course,
but there's something about his delivery that kills even the best of his
short stories stone dead...
Meanwhile, back in the more mundane world of hardware
Oooh, look at this!
A virtual window
cunningly made from eight LCD panels. Another great science fiction idea
come to life, and I love it! It gives a better effect than a single large
panel, from the look of the pictures, and probably at a fraction of the
price. Clever stuff.
More crappy locks - after
the recent expose that many Kensington and Targus laptop security
locks can be defeated with ease, now it seems that
expensive Kryptonite cycle locks are just as bad - and another
headline at Security.Org claims
that suitcase locks are equally flawed. Oh dear, oh dear...
start with a barebones "white box" system from Asus, and add your own CPU,
memory, hard disk and peripherals. I'd be interested to see information
prices, though, which seems to be missing from the article...
Microsoft's Sender ID - they blame "lacklustre industry support",
which is rather a self-fulfilling prophecy, unfortunately. As I said the
other week, it's becoming apparent that the anti-MS bigots would rather
drown in spam than have any dealings with the company - a case of cutting
off their noses to spite their Gates... [Ba-boom!]
Large zombie network shut down - Scandinavian ISP Telenor has helped
trace an illicit network of 10,000 "zombie" PCs... But these things are
extremely tenacious, and unfortunately the network is probably already
back up and running from a new central node.
Wikipedia's shortcomings trumpeted - far from
"making universities obsolete", say critics, it is nothing more than a
poorly indexed collection of random and somewhat dubious trivia - and, as
if to prove the point, a Slashdot poster
exposes the lack of reviewing by inserting false data... Indeed.
Google adverts - if you know the value of e, the base of
natural logarithms, you can start to apply for a job at the ultra-trendy
search engine company... although first you must solve a series of
puzzles, each more challenging that the last! <sigh>
War Of The Morons continues - following the formal charging of Sven
Jaschan, author of the Sasser and NetSky worms, the authors
of the "competing" MyDoom virus are using their latest creation to
poke fun at him. Damn, but I wish these idiots would get girlfriends, or
something - it might take their mind off these destructive, stupid,
immature little games for ten minutes or so.
Microsoft throwing its weight around again - they are attempting to
force a last-minute agreement with record labels over the future of
copy-protected CDs, apparently, and whiles it's not yet clear exactly how
stringent the measures will be, I'm afraid that it doesn't look
Chip And PIN causes small-scale crime wave - the sudden flurry of
replacement credit and ATM cards being sent out in the post has caused
something of a boom for the criminals who are intercepting them and using
them to empty out the bank accounts of their victims, many of whom weren't
actually expecting a new card and so remain blissfully ignorant until the
next statement arrives!
"UK workers are apathetic and unskilled", says a survey
commissioned by Hewlett Packard. My reply to the executives who feel this
way is thoroughly unprintable, but fortunately the letters page at The
Register is full of more coherent arguments - and, indeed, full of
criticism of HP and their fellow corporates, who by mistreating their
employees for so long and in so many ways, have ensured that the blame for
any apathy that does exist can be laid firmly at the door of
management itself. The utter, utter bastards...
best quote, on the
investigation of the iTunes online music service: "Apple may not
quite be in bed with the RIAA/BPI or whoever 'they' are, but Jobs is
certainly perched on the edge of the stained mattress of DRM taking his
shoes and socks off".
Phew! What a day! It started the moment I arrived in
the office, and discovered that the main server that holds the bulk of the
company's documents and databases had frozen during the small hours of the
morning. This server has been misbehaving all through this year,
unfortunately, with months and months of flawless operation followed by a
couple of days where it dies at the slightest provocation, and so far
nothing has helped. With nothing helpful in the system logs and no real
clues to how it started, it's a bit of a puzzle... However, the day went
pretty much straight downhill from there on in, so tonight I have no brain
for anything except some random links.
Talking of links, the
UK Airsoft Community site has a new set of reference pages online,
including comprehensive contact details for both
suppliers. Very useful.
From Mike, who already knows far too much of the
language for the good of his throat lining - a German TV station is now
news reports and audio clips in Klingon. Ghuy'cha'...
It turns out that most of the popular security locks
for PCs and laptops are
inherently flawed, and can be opened with no particular skill or
specialised tools. Oops! Full details are apparently at
TwinCities.com - once you've registered, that is - or at
Security.Org - if you're prepared
to pay. There doesn't seem to be anything at all on the manufacturers' own
web sites, though, as yet!
Microsoft have released a patch (or, more accurately, a
large set of patches) to fix
a nasty flaw
in the GLIB image library. A major component of both Windows and all
the MS Office applications, the buggy GLIB will allow the usual arbitrary
hostile code to be run from a specially crafted image file. Given the
number of programs and modules affected by the bug, unfortunately I think
it's going to be an awkward one to fix in a corporate environment...
I find the bug itself fascinating, though, as it comes
only a few days after
apparently very similar vulnerability was announced in the Linux IMLIB
graphics library! Does this mean that the Windows and Linux image viewing
modules are compiled from the same (or at least similar) open source code?
It seems very likely - and if so that has to be the funniest thing I've
heard in ages... :-)
pontificates on stupidity - and in passing points to a wonderful
story of greed and
betrayal in an online space trading game. It's a long read, but
fascinating - some people take this stuff very, very seriously indeed!
A new release of the
voluminous graphics card comparison guide at Adrian's Rojak Pot - and
my Radeon 9800 Pro, the quickest card on the market when I bought it a
year or so ago, is now looking decidedly antiquated. Fortunately, however,
to my surprise and delight it still seems to be performing very nicely in
the real world, thank you very much!
And, finally, it looks as if genuine 3D computer
displays are almost here at last. I've been reading reports on some
impressive technology demonstrations over the last few years, and now
article at Tom's Hardware Guide describes yet another prototype seen
at the Siggraph show. Any time now, I'd say - although I hate to think
what the price tag will be for the first commercial examples...
Ok, enough of that... Normal service will now be
Anyone who remembers my
protracted difficulties with Area51
Airsoft earlier this year will probably be surprised at the latest
developments... This week has seen threads discussing the company started
on the forums at both
Arnie's Airsoft and the
UK Airsoft Network, and the general attitude there is unexpected
to say the least.
Six months ago, when I chose to criticise A51's
customer service on this web site, I was insulted, threatened and
generally flamed lightly all over by supporters of the company - but now
it seems that almost overnight their former fan club has changed into
their worst enemies! The level of venom directed at Dee Sheldrake, the
original manager of the company, and at new manager Arnie (he of
Arnie's Airsoft) is actually rather disturbing, with their
personalities, motives and qualifications criticised and called into
question - together with a re-emergence of the bizarre allegation that
Arnie and Dee are actually one and the same person!
I can refute the latter, of course, having
met the pair of them when they came to
personally deliver my M4 SE hardware, and although I can't speak with any
authority on Dee's ballistics qualifications, I like to think that I know
quite a lot about firearms and it was clear to me that he knew
considerably more. It's also clear that nobody should under-estimate the
value of Arnie's contributions to the airsoft scene in England:
his website is one of the
best airsoft sites in the world, and in the two years since I discovered
the hobby I have always found it to be the most informative, helpful and
accessible of resources. Unfortunately it has has been suffering from
considerable technical difficulties in the last few months, but I've been
very pleased that the problems now seem to be over and following a
complete re-vamp the site is back online and better than ever.
The same cannot be said about Area 51 itself, though -
although neither Dee or Arnie has been involved in the vicious thread at
UKAN (a very wise move, in my opinion, as there's no chance of winning in
a discussion that is already that hostile), earlier today an announcement
appeared on their web site
stating that the company was being wound up. The reasons given involve the
UK's highly restrictive and convoluted forearms legislation, and given the
complexity of the laws and the horrendous penalties for even innocent
transgressions, they are good reasons indeed... But one has to assume,
however, that the sudden turning of the tide of public opinion has at
least precipitated that decision.
It might come as a surprise to some to see me defending
A51 here, after having written many thousands of words criticising the
company... But I have to say that I found both Arnie and Dee to be very
friendly, pleasant and knowledgeable people, when I met them, and whatever
the problems I've had with their company in the past, I do not like to see
them under such fierce personal attack from people who obviously don't
know them even to the small extent that I do - especially when so much of
it seems completely ill-informed and unwarranted. I'm afraid that, when
the mood of such an easily-excitable online community shifts, it tends to
shift from one extreme to another.
Strange times, indeed...
Tonight's Epicycle is
brought to you courtesy of Bobby Vee, singing "The Night Has A Thousand
Because, you know, it really
Ros left today, after a
relationship that (somehow!) lasted for twelve years. She's going to build
herself a house on the west coast of Scotland, approximately as far from
me as it's possible to be without leaving the country. It's a big, scary
thing for her, though, and I wish her the very best of luck with it all...
We've been splitting up for
almost exactly nine months, untangling our affairs and selling the house,
so it isn't really a surprise - but somehow that doesn't make it any
easier to cope with now that the day has finally arrived. It's only been a
few hours since she left, but the house feels empty in a way it never has
before, and already I miss her like crazy.
So tonight Epicycle and I are
If you know me, send me a happy
thought - I need them, right now.
Something that has continued to surprise me over the
last few years is the apparently endless series of Hollywood science
fiction movies based on the novels and short stories of the late
Philip K. Dick. On the face of
it, Dick's stories don't seem a natural choice for a mass-market movie -
the plots are often bizarre and complex, the heroes are rarely
particularly comfortable characters, and the issues addressed are not
typical of mainstream films: loss of identity, drug use and abuse, mental
illness - in fact, many of the problems that Dick himself struggled with
during his most
productive years as an author.
Nevertheless, more of his stories have been filmed than
any other science fiction author, living or dead... Aside from the seminal
Blade Runner, inspired by
Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep (nobody really understands quite
how Ridley Scott ever came up with the new name), over the last fifteen
years we've also seen the little-known Screamers, based on the
short story Second Variety, the Schwarzenegger blockbuster Total
Recall, inspired by We Can Remember It For You Wholesale, and
the recent Impostor, Minority Report and Paycheck
based on the stories of the same names.
In fact, when I was checking the list for this segment,
I discovered that yet another film is being made - shooting has just
A Scanner Darkly, starring Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder and Woody
Harrelson. Oddly, I was discussing Dick's stories with a friend only a few
weeks ago, and opined that Scanner would never be filmed - the
drugs-centric plot would just be too controversial, and the interactions
between the characters too bizarre and complex. Well, I'm sure that the
story will be thoroughly sanitised and emasculated by the time it reaches
the cinemas, but of course that doesn't actually mean that it won't be a
good movie. Time will tell...
Furthermore, the film rights to five more of his
stories have already been sold, together with a further four under option
- including the short story The Short Happy Life of the Brown Oxford,
and I have absolutely no idea how anyone could film that strange,
whimsical little fable... There's just no accounting for Hollywood, it
seems, especially given the huge body of work from SF authors who on the
face if it seem far more approachable - any of the early
Robert Heinlein "juveniles"
would make a marvellous film, I think, especially given the current
revival in child heroes prompted by the Harry Potter obsession.
The end of the week, at last... and for once I managed
to get out of this weekend's scheduled work, the annoying, sweaty and
thankless process of relocating an entire department to a different floor
as the first part of the building refurbishment. My manager will be taking
care of wiring the switches into the backbones in my place, and although
he's an ex-techie, he's spent the last few years shackled to his desk
pushing papers and I'm not going to be surprised if I get an anguished
phone call at some point over the weekend: "What's this grey bit? Oh,
it fell off! And it won't go back on again... Hey, now there's smoke
coming out from underneath!"...
Isn't it always the way - no sooner had I come across
references to a marvellous
1/10th scale flying model of a B52 bomber, than I also discovered that
it had just crashed horribly...
security flaws in Linux - buffer overflows in the IMLIB and LHA
components could be exploited by specially-crafted image or archive files
to compromise the entire system. So much for the peer-review of open
source removing the chance of security issues... And talking of which,
released a patch for fifteen (count 'em, fifteen) flaws in OS X -
"including many originating in the software's open-source components".
Please excuse the smug, self-righteous expression on my face, right now...
results from the House Judiciary Committee - moves to establish
criminal penalties for installing illicit spyware are good, but provisions
to allow more government involvement in the entertainment industry's fight
against alleged copyright violations are very definitely not... :-(
The boot on the other foot - legitimate P2P distribution company
Altnet, part of the Brilliant Digital media group, has sued the RIAA over
alleged patent infringement. I'm not convinced that they have much
of a case, but I approve of their general tactics 100%.
Ars.Technica on the growing trade in zombie computers - I pay a
lot of attention to spam headers, these days, in my role as a submitter to
Spamcop.net, and it's quite obvious
that a significant quantity is coming from individual home PCs. We
really need the ISPs to act now, and to act in concert.
Queuing up to sue Infinium Labs - a small document production company
is taking the beleaguered games console manufacturer to small claims court
after they allegedly failed to pay for a print job.
Penny Arcade at their most cutting, on the downfall of games
Well, phase one of the various house moves is now
complete, with 95% of Ros's possessions packed into a forty foot shipping
container ready to travel to Scotland, and all my own brought back from
our annoyingly expensive storage
facility and ready to move - as soon as my own house purchase finally
completes, that is, as it has been progressing at a positively glacial
speed over the summer holiday period and at this stage I still don't have
any dates at all. I could kick a cardboard box in frustration, really I
Meanwhile, elsewhere... Although the media was
Epson's tiny robotic helicopter, last week, Dan at
very firmly reminds us that the Epson model is neither the smallest or the
lightest. The real record breaker is the remarkable Pixelito, which weighs
only 6.9 grams including the battery, compared to the Epson's relatively
elephantine 8.6 grams without. In flight, the Pixelito looks
effortless, although in actual fact I suspect that it's a real bitch
to control... It's extremely Impressive work, though, definitely.
Via Ars Technica,
small victory in the war against spam, as ISP Savvis, owner of Cable &
Wireless and home of a significant number of major commercial spammers,
has finally given them the boot. The management of Savvis have shown their
true colours, though, as leaked documents show that they were hoping to be
able to simply hide the spammers from view by changing their
assigned names and IP addresses! Some reports suggest that the 148
spammers were paying Savvis a total of $2 million per month, though, so
unfortunately it's certain that they will soon find a home elsewhere - in
fact, most of the have probably done so already. :-(
Meanwhile, back on the High Frontier... The spirit of
sixties space colonisation pioneer Gerard
O'Neill is alive and well, it seems, in a group by the name of
Permanent. I can't bear to expand
the annoyingly tortuous acronym that forms their name, but their lofty
ambitions are a direct descendent of O'Neill's L5 Society - although it
remains to be seen whether any of them ever come to fruition... However,
check out the site of the Ansari X Prize
for the latest news on the second race into space: as expected, most of
the teams have fallen behind in one way or another, leaving only two
plausible competitors - Burt Rutan's
Scaled Composites, with an equivalent manned flight already under
their belt, and the as-yet untested
Project, recently re-named "The GoldenPalace.com Space Project"
after their new sponsor, an online casino. Rutan's SpaceShipOne is due for
its first competition launch on September 9th, with Da Vinci's a few days
later on October 2nd. It's a tense time for all concerned, I'm sure - but
also wonderfully exciting!
No entry yesterday, as the entire evening was taken up
with decommissioning Ros's part of the network and packing it all safely
into boxes ready for its voyage to Scotland. Not the best way to spend
one's 38th birthday (especially after a hard day at the office filling in
for two absent team members!) but these are strange times, indeed...
Last month I mentioned
hardware that I was being forced to accommodate, and to add insult to
injury it all arrived this week. I know that back in the '90s they
used to be extremely cool, powerful computer systems, but in 2004 they're
just a pile of old junk - and I have the feeling that I'm going to be
apologising to every contractor and engineer who visits the computer room:
"Hi, come in... Mind the step... Sorry about the Alphas..."
As my director commented, they really lower the tone of the room.
And talking of obsolete hardware, the wonderful
Archaeological Institute poses the question: "What was the first
personal computer?". As usual, they travel waaaay back into the mists of
time, and although I'd heard of the model that they actually identify as
the first, the majority of the early systems they pass en route are
completely unknown to me! Elsewhere, here's an interesting
Personal Computers - although, annoyingly, the final chapter (covering
my own salad days from 1977 onwards) is only available for a fee!
Meanwhile, I can't help being suspicious about the
recently publicised WinZip security flaw... Given that the software is
probably one of the most heavily-pirated utilities in existence, it does
seem very convenient for the company that nearly all of the old versions
are vulnerable to the flaw - and as (quite reasonably!) WinZip are only
releasing a patch for the current version 9, anyone who actually wants a
safe version of the tool is going to have to upgrade to that version and
so might actually consider paying for it at last! One does wonder...
render-farm that produced the digital graphics in The Lord Of The
Rings is for hire - the system comprises 504 IBM blade servers, each
of which contains two 2.8 Gigahertz Intel Xeon processors, 6 Gigabytes of
memory and 40 Gigabytes of storage. That's a lot of horsepower, by
a Vespa scooter with
an onboard PC? Re-arrange these words to make a sentence - much on
time have some their hands too people far... You have to admire the
sheer effrontery of the idea, though!
Quote for the day:
"To tell if George Bush is lying, check to see if
his lips are moving" - Xan,
The office is full of builders, today, gutting the
fifth floor in readiness to move the the various departments up there one
at a time while their own floors are being refurbished over the next year,
and half-way through the morning I was approached by a large man with a
crowbar, asking whether I was "the computer guy"... I usually put my hands
up to that description, as in spite of the fact that the entire IT
department could reasonably be stereotyped in that way, I'm geekier than
the rest of them put together and so I'm nearly always the one people mean
when they use the term...
Having confirmed that I was, indeed, the droid he was
looking for, he invited me up to the fifth floor to look at "a cupboard
full of green lights" that he'd found - and as you can imagine there was
no way I could resist that sort of lure. It turned out to be a niche
stuffed to the gills with half a dozen
Netgear switches, completely overlooked when our now-defunct R&D
department vacated the floor during their move to France or redundancy,
and still whirring away happily for almost a year in spite of having
nothing connected at either end. I have no idea why their techie didn't
mention them when he was handing over the rest of the network systems, but
he didn't, and thanks to my acquaintance with the crowbar I was able to
spirit them away from the encroaching destruction in the nick of time.
That sort of hardware is nothing special, especially as I have more Cisco
Catalyst hardware that you can shake a
CAT-5 o' nine
tails at, but it's nothing that I want to see thrown in a skip either
and I'm sure that I can find them a good home...
Elsewhere, the Large Hadron Collider project that I
mentioned a few days ago has spawned another computing system designed to
process the thoroughly excessive quantity of data that will be produced.
The Large Hadron Collider
Computing Grid is a network of over 6,000 computers at 78 sites
worldwide, managed by a team at the UK's Rutherford Appleton Laboratory -
but by the time the LHC experiment comes online in 2007 it is hoped that
the grid will contain 10,000 computers in the UK alone. Not too shabby!
Oh, I've just noticed that the person who
hi-jacked eBay Germany last week has been arrested. In what seems to
have been one of the few genuine innocent pranks amongst this kind
of hack, he re-registered the DNS record to himself and redirected it to
ISP Intergenia. Obviously, he should never have been allowed to transfer
the domain without the consent of the existing holder, so somebody really
slipped up and I imagine heads will probably roll - but I have to admit
that it doesn't really look as if the perpetrator himself had any actual
Interestingly, though, he is from the small German town
of Niedersachsen, also home to Sven Jaschan, the teenage author of the
Sasser and Netsky worms.
Jaschan is being blamed for 70% of virus activity in the first half if
this year, but as he was (just!) under eighteen when the worms were
released he may well get away with a relatively light sentence. Bah!
The diesel generator tests ran through smoothly enough,
this morning, to my great relief... The UPS effortlessly took up the
load of the entire computer room for the few moments until the generator
cut in (although its control panel lit up very prettily in red and green
when we actually cut off the site's electrical supply) and then we ran the
generator for three hours to make sure that it would keep ticking over
that long. Apparently it was only delivering about 40 amps of its 180 amp
capacity, so there's plenty of room for future expansion.
The only excitement came when the test was complete and
we tried to switch back to the electrical supply again... Apparently part
of the main switch panel started to smoke and spark, and although it
turned out to be just a build-up of grease in the relay contacts, it
certainly seemed to cause some excitement amongst the site services
The next phase of the tests, scheduled for later this
year, will actually involve extended run-time from the UPS itself - and
that is likely to be a little more stressful for my team, so there's
plenty of time for that move to plumbing, yet...
Microsoft... damned if they do, damned if they don't - after years of
complaints that the ActiveX browser plugin technology is inherently
insecure, the considerable improvements brought by the recent WinXP SP2
are now attracting criticism from developers. The whole service pack is
being treated this way, really, and I imagine such a critical reception is
proving to be rather a depressing experience for the Microsoft techies
concerned... They have my sympathy.
And just to prove (again!) that it's not just Microsoft
security flaws have now been discovered in the immensely popular
WinZip utility. And they go back a long way, too, as issues are
present in versions 3.x, 6.x, 7.x, 8.x and the current version 9.x... The
main bug is a buffer overflow accessible from the command line, which as
usual with this kind of flaw could run arbitrary hostile code with
industry swine post record profits - performing rights giant BMI has
returned a profit of $673 million for the last fiscal year, an increase of
nearly $43 million or 6.8% over the previous year. This is truly
miraculous, considering the music industry's constant ranting and raving
about piracy and file sharing - and it's a sure bet that none of the
artists they represent are seeing anything like that kind of pay rise...
This is not a one-off, though - BMI has seen a 9% average growth every
year for the last 10 years, which surely must cast real doubt on the
claims that are being used to justify the legal destruction of the
consumers' fair use rights. It's a damn shame.
And talking of the destruction of fair use... The US
Copyright Office have
presented a new draft of the villainous Induce Act, which was intended
to serve as a compromise between the excessive demands from the law's
architects, Senators Hatch and Hollings, and the rights of hardware
manufacturers to actually manufacture hardware. However, there seem to be
a number of problems with the new proposal, too, and most consumer
associations agree that the basic idea is just too flawed to be
considered. I do have a bad feeling about all this, though...
speed record to aid particle physics - the high speed Internet 2
backbone has been used to set a new record for bulk data transfer, moving
859 gigabytes of data between CERN facility in Switzerland, and Caltech in
California 9,800 miles away. The transfer took less than 17 minutes,
giving a rate of a rate of 6.63 gigabits per second. This colossal data
pipe will be vital for distributing and analysing the output from the next
generation of particle physics experiments, such as the Large Hadron
Collider at CERN, which will produce around 15 petabytes of data
per year once it is commissioned in 2007. Gosh!
And finally, thanks to a link at
a gallery of this year's
best crop circles. They're getting better and better, it seems, and
many of the recent ones are absolutely stunning. Some people definitely
have too much time on their hands - but the results are well worth it.
What a day! It started out pear-shaped, then went
through through prune-shaped, pomegranate-shaped, and finally
persimmon-shaped before I managed to recover a little in the last half
hour - by the time I left at four o'clock I'd repaired the static route
entries on our central router (earlier in the week it lost them all, for
no readily apparent reason), re-registered the main firewall (the license
code mysteriously expired, also for no readily apparent reason), and
succeeded in installing the first Office 2003 Service Pack 1 update via
SMS after all the previous attempts had failed, for (you guessed it) no
readily apparent reason. I was beginning to feel that I might have Lost
Still, tomorrow morning we're running a live test of
the UPS and standby diesel generator, so there's plenty of opportunity for
everything to go all fruit-shaped once more... And if it does, I guarantee
that I'll finally make good on my traditional threat to cross-train into
plumbing. It's just been one of those weeks.
Meanwhile, elsewhere... thanks to my friend Mike, the
oft-mentioned space enthusiast, here's a link to
more technically informative article on the SETI signal that is
currently stirring so much interest. As could easily be predicted, the
scientific community has divided into two neatly polarised camps, and even
though the signal has been observed for less than a minute in total, it
seems likely that the arguments over its source will run for years or even
revealed - the Science Museum in London has begun special tours of its
extensive store rooms, never before seen by the public. Although only a
small part of the 170,000-odd items held in storage, the collection
nevertheless fills six floors, and comprises exhibits ranging from a
series of dentists' chairs through the ages, through an array of
telescopes used by famous scientists and explorers, to part of the Comet
passenger jet in which metal fatigue was first discovered. This has
to be worth a look...
fanboys whining about Microsoft again - it looks as if the lawn
dwarves would rather drown under spam than work together with the Redmond
Devils, to the detriment of us all... The pointed complaints about
Microsoft's attempts to protect itself from future lawsuit opportunities
particularly annoyed me, though - now that taking Microsoft to court has
become the IT industry's number one business model, it seemed quite
reasonable to me...
I watched a documentary on this year's 50th
Sidmouth Folk Festival, the
other night, and it seems that I'm definitely mellowing in my middle
years. I grew up in Plymouth, just around the corner, but even as an
ardent folk music enthusiast (as well as a die-hard heavy rocker!) I was
very careful not to go to Sidmouth - to my contemporaries and I, that
particular festival embodied everything that we didn't like about English
folk music. It all seemed so antiquated, trite and boring: the big hats,
the finger firmly in the ear, and songs along the lines of "Hurrah for
the life of a country boy, to ramble in the new-mown hay"...
Instead we liked the more adventurous electric
folk-rock groups, particularly the 1980s incarnations of Fairport
Convention and Steeleye Span. Their style was more heavily amplified
electric fiddles than a cappella, and if any country boys did
feature in their songs, they were most probably being slaughtered by elves
or drowned in shipwrecks, with almost no rambling going on at all.
Twenty years later, though, I found myself watching a
collection of people with excruciatingly big hats and fingers firmly in
ears, and thinking how much I would like to be there to watch them in
person. To be fair, there were a number of badass fiddle players too, and
I was greatly encouraged by how young some of the musicians were, but when
I found myself nodding along to a song by
The Watersons themselves, famed for country boys and rambling of all
types, I knew that I was lost. The long-time organisers of the Sidmouth
festival are retiring, this year, so apparently there will be a hiatus -
but a new team is taking over for 2006, and I expect I'll probably be
there. In the meantime, I'm off to listen to
The Kipper Family -
think of it as an inoculation against hats and fingers...
Elsewhere, some science - well, pseudo-science, at
SETI signal - coming from a point between the Pisces and Aries
constellations, it has been picked up three times by the giant
Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico.
Tellingly, the signal is on the 21cm Hydrogen wavelength, long considered
to be the frequency on which to send out an interstellar signal.
Blade Runner is scientists' favourite movie - and their favourite
SF authors are the likes of Isaac Asimov, John Wyndham, Ursula Le Guin,
Ray Bradbury, Frank Herbert and Stanislaw Lem. I was interested that they
were nearly all more speculative, whimsical authors, rather than the
significant number of writers who also work as scientists - Greg Bear,
Vernor Vinge, Gregory Benford, Charles Sheffield, et al.
"Black Triangle" sightings on the rise - saucers are passé,
it seems, and these days everybody is seeing large, slow, low-flying
triangular UFOs instead. A recent analysis of the reported sightings by
aerial phenomenon specialist NIDS (a privately funded organisation of
unknown provenance) seems to suggest some unexpected patterns, though...
on gravity waves - British gamblers are so sure that scientists will
discover gravity waves by 2010 that bookmakers Ladbrokes have slashed the
odds it is prepared to offer from 500-1 to 6-1. However, I think this may
say more about the scientific ignorance of the British public than
anything about science itself.
Well, if I thought last week at the office was busy,
this one makes it look like a holiday... The last time I was this
stressed, a couple of years ago before I got my second PFY, all my grey
hairs fell out.
Just links, then - and quick ones, at that...
Maxtor offering longer warranties - having dropped to a one year
warranty back in 2003, now they're following the trend back up to three.
New iMac -
looks neat, I must admit, but costs a fortune. You could buy three
cheap Dell desktops for the price of the entry-level iMac...
Verisign never says die - after the recent ruling went against them,
Verisign are suing ICANN over their wretched Site Finder service again.
still playing hardball - online digital radio firm strikes another
blow against the consumer's fair use rights.
desktop system - when only massive overkill is good enough, choose
$100,000 worth of Fedora-hosting Transmeta-powered workstation goodness
Spoofing for caller ID - a new service will allow carefully only
selected organisations to hide their telephone numbers - at least until
less scrupulous equivalents start to emerge...
magnets - not the first, but certainly the first to work above 10
degrees Kelvin. Researchers at Durham University admit that practical
applications are still far away, though...
Silicon snake oil - a new polyester-based lubricant will help hard
disk manufacturers to protect the data-bearing surfaces from damage,
promising higher density storage and fewer failures.
Steep fines for
cellphone use - using a phone in a library in California's Huntington
Beach could cost up to $1000 for a repeat offence. Seems excessive, to me,
I have to say...
And, finally... anyone who
mounts a jet engine to a wheel chair and then proceeds to ride it to a
terminal velocity of 60mph deserves everything he gets. Oh, and
this brave lunatic seems to have acquired one of the absurd
experimental Bell jet packs that the US military rightly abandoned in the
1950s - and he probably deserves everything he gets, too.
Not a bad month in the stats, approximately equalling my
previous high points - and at some time in the last week I passed the 50,000
visitor mark, too. I still seem to have my handful of regular readers, as
well as the countless hordes who come via Google, so I guess I must be doing
Feel free to vote - or not... As I said here last month,
Australia stats are forged to the point of uselessness, these days, and
as the sysadmins still don't seem to care, neither do I... I wonder if
there's anywhere else I can use to massage my ego?