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Archive for March, 2006

Spam, egg, spam spam, bacon and spam

I have an old email account that I’ve had since 96 / 97, perhaps even earlier. About 3 years ago I gave up checking it regularly due to huge amounts of spam it got. When I used to run my Quake website I plastered my email address all over the place (try finding my current one on here!) and it became a spam magnet.

For some reason back in September I decided I wanted to see if it had any useful email. So I downloaded a trial of Cloudmark Desktop. Its a plugin for Outlook that checks all your email accounts for spam as emails come in. If an email is spam it chucks it in spam folder for you to check or nuke. Its pretty simple really, the toolbar gives you all the options you need:

Cloudmark1

At Cloudmark’s end is huge database full of various types of spam. The contents of which are actually built up by Desktop users. Each user has a rating. As emails are marked as spam, they check to see if it really is. If it is, it gets added to the list and the users rating goes up. If its not, the opposite happens. Its nice way of making sure people report spam properly.

My trial ran out after a month so I subscribed at $3.99 a month. As it turns out I had an email from Friends Reunited sat in amongst the crap and I ended up meeting up with an old friend I’d not seen for 7 years. He’d been trying to contact me for nearly 2 years! So I was chuffed with that.

Just for fun I decided to see what it was picking up…

Cloudmark2

Not bad! Pity I can’t make a claim to the spammers for the money Desktop has apparently saved me.

Mr. Akismet Speaks

Let me introduce myself, I am Mr. Akismet. I work behind the scenes here at Pauked.com. Normally I’d keep myself to myself, but given the coast is clear, I fancied a natter. Most of the time I’m allowed to sleep in my cosy bed with its plush blankets made from PHP, HTML and CSS. See my job is pretty simple. I’m either asleep or eating. Thats all I do.

What do I eat I hear you ask? Ah well thats a good question with a simple answer. Spam! I eat all kinds of it. From big juicy chunks to the smallest, tiniest bits. I’m not picky, anything goes! I just love spam. I luuuuuv the SPAM! Yes, yes indeed. Even when I’m asleep I think about it. Its the bestest thing in the whole world wide web.

What’s that you say, spam isn’t that good? Ha ha, you’re thinking of the reformed meat product made from pigs arses and trotters. No silly, I mean those tasty emails that contain gibberish telling me how much they love our web site and that their casino will make us all million, billion, trillionaires! Those crazy jokers!

The last few days though, whew, let me tell you I have been busy! I fear I’m going to become a porker. We don’t have a big site here and I’m only used to small deliveries of 4 or 5 a week, but in the last two days I’ve had over 50! But boy have I enjoyed them. I’ve felt like a pig in shit. Its been fantastic!

Anyway, I can’t stand around here all day yapping to you lot, I’ve got spam to eat. Toodle pip!

Currently Reading…

Since I’m lazy ass and don’t have time for a proper waffle session, heres what I’m currently trying to read:

I mentioned the first one earlier in the week, I’ve not got much further with it!

Armageddon is a weighty tome detailing the last 2 years of World War II. I’ve read quite a few books on the subject and I find it really engrossing. I’m looking forward to getting into this book.

Out of the four, I think I’m least likely to finish Velocity. The premise is interesting enough (bloke gets anonymous notes saying if you go to the police I’ll kill X, if you don’t go to the police I’ll kill Y) but its not particularly well written and its slow paced to boot. I’m about 70 pages in and I couldn’t really give a stuff about the main characters. I’ll carry on though, see if it picks up.

Mind Gym is one of those self help guides to help make better use of your time. Worth a punt I thought!

The End is Nigh… (again)

Bal updates twice in two days! Its a miracle! I have to say actually his Sphere Headed Robot – B1-Bot is pretty damn sweet.

B1bot

So this post is dedicated to him / her :)  Check out Bal’s site for the full size images.

College – Computer Communications

I’m well into the final part of my Internet and Information Technology degree (ordinary level) with just one evening class to complete, computer communications. I have another module to do, minor research, which is something I can do in my own time. Unlike databases in the previous semester I’m really enjoying computer comms. I’ve found that the subjects I know little about are the ones I’ve enjoyed the most (excluding programming related ones).

Last week I bought a copy of the lecturers suggested course book, Data Communication and Networking, which from skimming through seems very good. Its certainly a lot more readable than the official syllabus book, Data Communications, Computer Networks and Open Systems, which incidentally was the same book I had for my HND (many moons ago).

The latter is one of those books that makes you feel like you’d be really intelligent if you could actually understand any of it. Its far too technical for people with a computing background and seems aimed more at those with an engineering background. The former looks to be the opposite. 

Amusingly the lecturer didn’t want us to buy the book he was using. I thought it was because it would be like the syllabus book, too technical… Nope, it turns out its because his class slides and notes are lifted directly from the book!

Firefox memory blues

I commented on Firefox’s memory leak thats actually a feature a while back and its now cropped up on Coding Horror today. Looks like Jeff suffers from the problem far worse than I do! I tend not to have Firefox open for longer than a few hours, not because of its memory usage, but because of how I work. I switch around between the apps I’m using and close what I don’t need. A sizable majority of my browsing is done in FeedDemon when I’m reading blogs. Thinking about it, if FeedDemon had better tab management I’d probably not use Firefox (or any other separate browser).

Bahrain Grand Prix

The Formula One season has started back up and what a gripping start it was too! Due to one thing and another I didn’t get to watch as much I would have liked (Kate and I were away visiting relatives).

The new qualifying format is much better. Two 15 minute knockout sessions where each time the six slowest cars get kicked out. Then there was a 20 minute session where the remaining 10 cars compete for pole position. The first two sessions were great, but I didn’t quite get the logic of the final session. The cars were fuelled with race fuel levels and seemed to lap round for 18 minutes until they decided to get their arse’s into gear and put in a flying lap. Perhaps it’ll become clear in time?

It was a pity that Michael Schumacher was on pole but it just goes to show he hasn’t lost his edge. What really amazed me was that Massa was second! Given his lack of experience I suspect its the car and setup that helped him get there. It looks like Ferrari have put 2005 behind them and worryingly (for non-Ferrari fans, i.e. me!) built a good car. Jenson was a sound third and I was happy to see Alonso fourth. I was curious to see how he’d do given he’s already announced his switch to McLaren in 2007 (which can’t be good for morale at Renault) and whether he’d have the motivation.

My worries were misplaced. Alonso put up a good fight and due to some slick timing managed to snick past Schumacher after his final pit stop. He then easily kept Schumacher at bay to finish the race 1st. Jenson had a terrible start and wasn’t able to get 3rd place back. He really needs to work on his starts. Kimi had an excellent race to finish 3rd considering his awful starting position (22nd).

Steve Ryder was OK presenting ITV’s coverage. He fluffed and looked at the wrong camera a few times, but I’m sure he’ll get the hang of it. The fact that he loves motorsport goes in his favour.

The final podium looks like a good indication of the season to come. The top teams seem to be on form from the beginning and the change from V10 to V8 engines hasn’t phased them. I had to laugh at Gerhard Berger saying that BMW Sauber would be very reliable in the race because they were still using V10’s. I therefore took great joy in watching Villeneuve’s Sauber grenade itself down the back straight!

Can’t wait for the Malaysian GP next weekend :)

Useful Utils #4 – TrueCrypt

If you’re a paranoid, mistrusting type or just someone who has a vested interest in keeping your data secure, then this will certainly be of use.

TrueCrypt can create a virtual encrypted disk within a file and mount it as a real disk. It can also encrypt an entire hard disk partition or storage device.

It allows you to create a file that from the outside looks like gibberish but inside contains a drive volume, the contents of which are encrypted. TrueCrypt can then mount them and they appear as normal drives to Windows. Any volumes you create can be easily managed via TrueCrypt main screen.

TrueCrypt1

I’ve used it for various things such as storing source code or random data on pen drives. For my pen drives I’ve got it so that a sizable chunk of the drive is a TrueCrypt volume. I then copied TrueCrypt across and set up an autorun.inf file so that when its connected to a machine it automagically opens up the volume. This post on Scott Hanselman’s blog explains what to do.

Creating a volume is incredibly easy via the built in wizard. There are several encryption algorithms to choose from and you can even benchmark them for extra geekyness.

TrueCrypt2

I’ve tended to use Blowfish since it came out top in all the benchmarks I’ve run. Actually that was one of my initial concerns, how fast would it be? I figured it would be ok for running random files off a pen drive, but for holding source code it has got to have fast access if you’re compiling and building programs. Well it is, I didn’t notice any decrease in performance. Pretty amazing I thought.

There are further options for managing your volumes. You can set them as favourites so that TrueCrypt will remember to mount them on Windows startup (you’ll need to enter a password). There are also tools to check and fix volumes, but touch wood, in the six months I’ve been using it I’ve had no problems.

Again, like Keepass its open source and therefore costs nowt. Who says you can’t have something for nothing? Highly recommended if you want that added bit of security.

Public Farter Alert!

This classic post from dooce on Wednesday had me in stitches. I too live with a Public Farter. Kate (the lovely wife to be) will gladly go along with that statement. I’m one too. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being able to let one rip when you damn well please.

We have a stupid thing (actually its mostly me) that if we feel one bubbling up, as it were, we run over to the other person and errr… fart on them. I see it as a form of subtle massage. Do I get told off? Nope, because Kate’s curry farts can strip wallpaper and kill all living plant life within 30 yards :) Its all about compromise. Anyway, after a while you get used to it. Thats just true love for you! 

live.com

So I go to live.com, which is meant to be the eventual replacement for search.msn.com. Upon loading I get AJAX crap overload!

Live

After lots of clicking, I end up with this:

LiveFixed

Much better. If I could scrub out the footer and text on the right, it’d be super. Although I still think MSN Search looks nicer.

MSNSearch

Regardless of looks, it would help if the search worked. Lets, at random, try a search on one of my favourite food types… pies!

LivePies GooglePies

So live.com’s first result is Product Information Exchange Standard (PIES). Oh ha ha very good. Not really relevant is it? And what is going on with that search layout? Thats a rant in itself. Anyhoo, Google comes back with Pukka Pies. So Google 1, Microsoft 0. Better luck next time!

Looks like I’m not the only one not keen on live.com’s looks, see this Arstechnica news post.

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