Harry

Almost a Blog

Month: May, 2005

Oxford Dictionary

I noticed tonight that the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is being replaced by www.webster.com.
How do I know this? Well, have a look for
ClAMOUR
what on earth do they mean chiefly British variant of CLAMOR
BOLLIX. What they should really mean is
CLAMOUR
proper spelling of our americanised terrible spelling of CLAMOR
All jokes aside I use webster.com almost religiously and have even adopted color over colour. Having looked at the OED website it’s little wonder why people are now using the webster.com dictionary over the OED. The OED has pushed a small search box over to the right hand side corner and filled the screen with:
1: A word of the day
If I wanted a word of the day I would go looking for it. Its a bit daft to place this “nice feature” above the dictionary.
2: A quote From.
I own the “Oxford Dictionary of Quotations” and if I am after a quote I am not looking for a Dictionary.
3, A word From (some foreign language).
Who cares how the French say “shit”, wheres the ENGLISH dictionary …..(I o)
I think the OED is selling itself short. I know that for some people Webster is the be all and end all but I am still a believer in the OED. I would like the OED to retain the definitive English dictionary crown but judging from their website this looks unlikely. They should really place more emphasis on it than they do or they risk becoming runner up to webster.com or some other more techno savvy company.

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fortune 500 feeds

I was bored yesterday……………………………. so whats new?
the difference this time was that I decided to do something about it and build yet another website (moan).
The idea!
I like to read certain types of news and for the most part the news I am interested in seems to gravitate towards big companies ie, the A list, more commonly known as the Fortune 500. I am not sure why this is the case because there is plenty of really interesting stuff taking place in small companies but for the most part Google seems to steer me up rather than down. Perhaps I am a headonist (please forgive my humour) and don’t know it.
Anyway.
I don’t have a blog roll because I don’t regularly read any blogs on a regular basis. I think this is because people tend to be either eclectic 1 or eclectic 2:
Eclectic: (from webster)
1 : selecting what appears to be best in various doctrines, methods, or styles
2 : composed of elements drawn from various sources; also : HETEROGENEOUS
neither of which lends towards regular reading. Unfortunately E1 is particularly rife amongst the blogging commnuity so some strong filtering is required. Thankfully E2 is much more readable than E1 if done correctly which for the most part is true but if I am to read something regularly then I would prefer something along the lines of E2 but with a general topic in mind.
So with all the above crap in mind I decided that we all need another website (not) that will take the collective wisdom of the fortune 500 and produce dynamic feeds from it.

Ransom-Ware

Just read a very interesting article on Bruce Schneier’s blog.
The most alarming part for me was the following:

Internet attacks have changed over the last couple of years. They’re no longer about hackers. They’re about criminals. And we should expect to see more of this sort of thing in the future.

Unfortunately the above is only too true and we are going to see a marked increase in cybercrime. When you think about it you can almost take any of our old style crimes and with enough imagination and know how make it work over the wire.
Take blackmail.
Using a similar method you could break into someones PC and look for something the owner would really not want shown in public. The criminal then downloads the files and blackmails the owner. If you don’t find anything you might be able to hold his files for ransom anyway.
You could also use it to destroy someones reputation. Lets say John is the CEO of a large corporation with some less than honest competition who would love to see the company damaged in any way possible.
One of the competition hires a cracker to gain access to Johns machine. This would most likely be the home machine since if they managed to break into the work machine then I am sure there are other things that they could do that would cause much more damage.
The cracker then downloads lots of child pornography to Johns machine and makes the logs etc look as if John is a regular child pornographer. Of course the times would need to coincide with John being at home but this sort of information is easily obtained from the machine itself.
The cracker then deletes all trace of him being in and even updates the Virus checker and secures the machine for John so that, when the investigation takes place the police cannot see how the machine could have been cracked.
A phone call to the police on an anonymous line from a child professing that John sexually assaulted them and he would then be under investigation for sexually assaulting a minor. This would lead to confiscation of his machine and of course they are going to find plenty of stuff on it to keep them busy for a while.
Regardless of whether they determine he was set up or not Johns good name is being dragged through the gutter and a certain amount of damage is done.
I am sure that the criminals out there would be able to come up with more imaginative ways than the above to do these sorts of things but as Bruce said we are going to see more of this sort of thing in the future. What frightens me is that we are going to see much more damaging crimes than ransom-ware or identity theft.
As our dependence on computers grow so does our vulnerability and there are criminals with no conscience about what they do or how they do it and I am not including terrorists in this bunch.

I Need a Job

My contract here runs out at the end of July and I am now looking for employment. I will be putting an updated CV online soon or at least as soon as I have got it onto a few of the major search engines.
I am also considering putting it on UKlug since it gets a fair few hits and I own the site.
Wish me luck.

Heroin Take Away

I just noticed the following in an article on the BBC. I admit the article was written quite a while ago but it still struck me as stating the bloody obvious.

Youngsters in Luton can now get a fix of heroin delivered faster than a pizza, a community drugs project has warned.

so whats new. I was under the impression that it pretty much the same everywhere. Only just yesterday I saw a drug deal take place on the way home from work. I regularly smell “Grass” when walking through Luton town center, particularly at night.
The articles also goes on to say

drugs use was on the rise among Asian communities in the UK.

Again, whats new. Its on the increase everywhere. To top it off though I also liked the following statement.

They also warned that drug dealers were seen by teenagers as role models.

Do I have to ask “whats new” again. Why should teenagers not look up to people who drive around in brand new BMW’s and Merc’s. When ‘Dad’ says
“Son, drugs are bad! Don’t do them and don’t sell them!”
‘Son’ then sees dad catch the bus to work while Mr drug dealer sales past with the roof down in a BMW convertible.
What message are we sending to the kids when this happens.
“Thats society won’t tolerate drugs.”
Errrrrrrrr, wrong answer!
As far as most kids are concerned they see flash cars and bling on the drug dealer, looking at his dad he sees sweat on his brow and a worn out suit on his back.
We are not sending the right message to the teenagers by allowing drug dealers to walk the streets. Lock them up and throw away the key. Of course it costs a lot of money to put people in prison so we tend towards leniency. God forbid we would be too harsh on our criminals and cost the taxpayer more money!

Blog Spam Success

Quite a while ago I wrote a spamassassin plugin for movable type and have been using it with great success for quite a while.
Just recently I had to move my blog from one machine to another and they had incompatible Bayes database types. This meant that the Bayes database needed to be started from scratch again and I was quite worried that this would take a while. Luckily for me I was off on holiday for 2 weeks which meant I had no access to a PC to watch my comments fill up with the usual spam. On return from my holidays I then used all the spam I had received to teach the Bayes filter again.
I have been quite surprised at how little spam I have received considering I have added less than 200 spam entries to the database. The only time I get new spam now is when I ping sites when I have added a new entry which is a good indication these sites are being spidered for recent entries etc.

microsoft.com jobs feed

I have just added all of the microsoft.com jobs to the Rss Jobs search engine. They have now been indexed.
Now all I need to do is find several more large corporates to add to UKlug. If anyone has any suggestions then please feel free to let me know.

Scuba Diving in Key Largo

I finally got around to getting my PADI Open Water diving qualification while I was on holiday. Its something I have meant to do for a long time.
We decided to go to Key Largo to do it. Jenny made a few phone calls and to be honest the prices where all quite similar, $400 to $450 each. We eventually phoned Pleasure Diver.
Jenny asked them if they could squeeze us in the following day and they said they could, they also offered to lend us their DVD player so that we could watch the PADI DVD’s in our room. This extra effort on their part sold them to us and although we did not know it at the time we had really landed on our feet.
What we liked about Don and Janet was the fact that they had paid attention to lots of the details and that they went out of their way to help us. It was a real personal service and judging from what I have heard about larger dive outfits this is quite rare.
Everything was very relaxed and when we went out on the boat if the visibility was bad we would move somewhere else. We could have quite happily have dived in the areas and got the qualification but as far as Don and Janet was concerned getting the qualification should be fun which means you should be able to see wildlife or anything else you wanted to see while doing it.
It was also made interesting each time because instead of going through the motions and coming up we would do some exercises and then go looking at the wildlife and then do some more etc etc. This took the monotony out of the course while consolidating the pool work.
Another thing I didn’t expect was to have Chocolate Brownies waiting for us after each dive. They also laid on complimentary refreshments. After breathing all the dry air an ice cold bottle of water and a chocolate Brownie was exactly what the doctor ordered.
We both noticed that a lot of effort was put into customer service. We did not know it at the time but they had owned a B&B in Virginia which meant they really knew there stuff when it came to looking after guests and it showed in everything they did. The fact that they limit passengers to 6 on a 40 foot boat is a good indication that they know what it means to travel in comfort.
We spent 4 days there and I want to go back to dive with them again. For anyone interested in diving and thinking about the Keys then I could not recommend Pleasure Diver enough.

Jet Lag

I always wondered what it was like to feel the effects and to be honest I thought that it was a bit of a myth and that people made it out to be worse than it really is. I can confirm that it is every bit as bad as they say it is.
I got back to the UK from Sanford at 5:55am on Sunday and most of the day was spent trying to get to sleep but my body was having none of it. Managed a few hours that night. Monday was spent at work trying to focus on the monitor. Monday night was abysmal, passed out then woke up again at 3am and was unable to get back to sleep. I phoned in sick and then passed out again until 15:30. I am going to try to go to bed at a normal time tonight and see what happens.
It must be pretty bad for those that go to Australia.

passive ftp and iptables

For those that encounter problems when trying to get passive ftp working with iptables make sure that the following 2 modules are loaded.
ip_conntrack_ftp
ip_nat_ftp
This can be done as follows:
/sbin/modprobe ip_conntrack_ftp
/sbin/modprobe ip_nat_ftp