27 December 2004

Sir Arthur Clarke

Arthur Clarke reports he is well in Sri Lanka following the regional disaster. According to LA fan Bill Warren, friends of Tim Lucas (Video Watchdog) are in contact with Clarke and obtained the following statement as well as permission to circulate it to anyone interested. Guy Lillian III was the source of this copy of Warren's e-mail.

Clarke writes:

"Thank you for your concern about my safety in the wake of Sunday's devastating tidal wave.

"I am enormously relieved that my family and household have escaped the ravages of the sea that suddenly invaded most parts of coastal Sri Lanka, leaving a trail of destruction.

"But many others were not so fortunate. For hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankans and an unknown number of foreign tourists, the day after Christmas turned out to be a living nightmare reminiscent of THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW.

"Among those affected are my staff based at our diving station in Hikkaduwa and holiday bungalow in Kahawa - both beachfront properties located in areas worst hit. We still don't know the full extent of damage as both roads and phones have been damaged. Early reports indicate that we have lost most of our diving equipment and boats. Not all our staff members are accounted for - yet.

"This is indeed a disaster of unprecedented magnitude for Sri Lanka which lacks the resources and capacity to cope with the aftermath. We are all trying to contribute to the relief efforts. We shall keep you informed as we learn more about what happened.

"Curiously enough, in my first book on Sri Lanka, I had written about another tidal wave reaching the Galle harbour (see Chapter 8 in THE REEFS OF TAPROBANE, 1957). That happened in August 1883, following the eruption of Krakatoa in roughly the same part of the Indian Ocean."

Arthur Clarke 27 December 2004

23 December 2004

Guilty plea in AOL spam case rejected

"NEW YORK - A federal judge refused to accept a guilty plea Tuesday from a former America Online software engineer accused of stealing 92 million e-mail addresses and selling them to spammers."


Read the full story...

21 December 2004

PCWorld.com at Yahoo - Browser Wars

You've heard Internet Explorer is no longer the only game in town. But is an alternative Web browser really in your 2005 plans?
by Michael DesmondRead the full story...

14 December 2004

WORM_ZAFI.D - Description and solution

"As of December 14, 2004 8:13 AM (PST), TrendLabs has declared a MEDIUM risk virus alert to control the spread of this mass-mailing worm. It has been found spreading in Germany, France, and Spain."Read more about the WORM_ZAFI.D at the Trend Micro Website:

12 December 2004

I got a job!

...or actually, a choice of two....just in time for the holidays...and they're government jobs...I can show up for work next week and do absolutely nothing until the 2nd of January....yay!

27 November 2004


This is the beginning of a list of things that are counted down (or up):

How many shopping days are left until Christmas?

When is the next Rocket or Shuttle Launch?

Countdown to RETIREMENT clock!

Please add your countdowns to the comments.


24 November 2004


It all started in July at a grocery store promotion. "How large is this turkey?" the local grocery store asked. Guesses ran to 30 pounds or so, but actually it was 42 pounds. This was, needless to say, a "large" turkey. But in July, no one wanted the turkey, and it was put in the freezer till a more auspicious time.

And so it came to pass that Mom was in the store just before the Holidays in 1994, and since she is a naturally talkative person, she struck up a conversation with the butcher at the counter. "I need a kind of big turkey for my family coming," said Mom. To which the butcher replied, "Well, if you are looking for a big turkey, I may have just the thing." And he hauled out the 42- pound bird for Mom.

"Nice big bird," said Mom, "but it would cost far too much for my fixed income budget."

"Here's the deal," said the friendly butcher. "I can't move this bird at all at the usual price. No one wants a bird this big, so tell you what I'll do. I'll sell you this turkey for 49 cents a pound."

Mom, being nobody's fool, thought that such a purchase would be entirely reasonable. After all, twenty bucks for a really BIG turkey would be a reasonable price. And besides, of such stuff are Really Neat Family Legends made. (Little did she know.)

"Sold," said Mom.

It took four days to thaw out.

I showed up in Fargo two days before, and Mom was all a-twitter with ideas for how to put on a family dinner tour de force. We are talking "major" stuffing here. And so, off we went to the various stores to purchase dinner-making stuff.

Let me point out something important here. No one makes a roasting bag to handle a 40 pound turkey. And few roasters can handle it either. So we bought one of those nifty open aluminum roasting pans, figuring to cover it with, oh, an acre or two of aluminum foil.

But there were some other interesting engineering problems to deal with. Like how to lift it. "No problem," said Mom, "we'll just get some cheesecloth, wrap the bird in a kind of sling, and lift it that way." Elegant solution. Mom, methinks, has missed her true calling of engineer.

And so, the Night Before, figuring we'd need a really long cooking time, we stuffed, slung, positioned, covered, vented the bird, and popped it in the oven at about 1:30 a.m. And so to bed, for a long winter's nap. Wrong.

At 3:15 a.m., I heard my Mom calling my name. Now you have to understand, when things are going well, I am "Don" to everyone, including Mom. But when that is not the case, I become "Donald." And Mom has a special way of saying Donald. "Donald," she said, "oh, Donald!"

I responded groggily. "What? Whatsamatter?" I know Mom, and waking folks at 3:15 a.m. is just not her style.

"Donald," she said, "we have a problem."

"What," I responded, "problem do we have?"

"Our turkey is running over," said Mom. The shift from "the" turkey to "our" turkey was subtly done, in retrospect. At the time, it was effective. This was now a joint crisis.

For those who do not see such things clearly, it turns out that turkeys, in the process of cooking, release large quantities of juices, which for normal birds often later becomes gravy. For this bird, it had become a flood, and had overflowed the all-too- shallow roasting pan into the bottom of a hot oven.

Smoke. Small apartment. Smoke detectors at 3:16 a.m., roughly corresponding to opening the oven door. And cleaning turkey juices from the bottom of a hot oven at 3:19 a.m. is No Easy Thing, I can assure you. Many towels, not of the paper variety. Even some other cloth materials I still do not recognize. Mom is ready for any crisis of spill, it seems.

And so it got cleaned up. The towels got put in the washer at about 3:30 a.m., the fans blew the smoke out of the apartment. The smoke detectors got reset, and so to bed, for an altogether shorter winter's nap.

Wrong again.

The turkey overflowed again at 5:20 a.m. Same scenario, in all relevant ways. We tried to suck up some of the juices from the roaster, but the turkey baster bulb was bad, and wouldn't create a vacuum. Smoke alarms, much general good-natured grousing, and Mom standing around saying gratuitous things like "If I had known this would happen, I never would have bought that darned turkey."

There is no way an eldest son can respond to that appropriately, other than with variations on a theme of, "Oh, it's all right, Mom. This is just Another Neat Adventure on the Road of Life, and Someday We'll All Laugh At This Together." So we each played our preordained roles in the crisis, and by that time, it was time to shower and shave and get ready for the siblings, grandchildren, etc., and just hang out.

By about 11:30 a.m., the tiny kitchen was crowded with sisters, each moving in a mysterious choreography, getting in each other's way, using the Very Dish That I Needed for things like glorified rice and other holiday dishes, and the general buzz of Big Holiday Meal Preparation.

And when the time came to lift the bird, out it came in Mom's cheesecloth sling, just as nice as you please, and if I do say so myself, it looked like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting on its platter.

Much frenetic activity followed, including the required Making of the Gravy from what remained of the copious turkey juices in the bottom of the pan. Mom is not one of your cornstarch gravy people. She does a flour paste, mixing it thoroughly and putting it in a bowl, thereafter to be stirred into the gravy juices for several minutes, and it really is quite wonderful.

Now I have to tell you, I was standing right there, and I don't know how it happened. But somehow, the white glass bowl with the flour/water mixture in it ended up on top of the stove. On a burner. Which was on. The bowl was opaque white glass, not Pyrex, and not made for this kind of insult.

And the bowl exploded.

I don't mean cracked and fell apart, I mean "exploded," with a loud bang, and the throwing waist-high of glass splinters mixed with flour and water all around the kitchen, including onto the aforementioned hot burner, which promptly gave off a cloud of smoke, setting off the aforementioned smoke alarms yet again, which caused the smallest children to panic and cry -- well, you get the idea.

Rising (well, stooping actually) to the occasion, I:
a. turned off the burner
b. threw everyone out of the kitchen
c. disconnected the smoke alarm
d. opened the windows
e. started to clean up the mess

Mom had been standing there all this time, watching this happen with an air of almost mystic detachment. I was looking directly at her when she recovered her equanimity. "Darn!," said Mom, "That was my last flour. I'll have to go to the store and get some more." And she put her coat on and out the door she went.

Leaving yours truly to once again reorganize the scene. And when she got back with flour, about 15 minutes later, all was again In Order, and the day progressed more or less uneventfully.

The dinner was magnificent. The quantity and quality of the leftovers were astonishing. It was, in every possible way, An Event of Significance.

But (you may already have surmised) it was Not Yet Over.

Afterwards, the sisters took over the kitchen, cleaning everything up and generally fulfilling the role of Dutiful Daughters (no sexism implied, as I had already fulfilled the role of Dutiful Son for most of the previous long winter's night), packing the dishwasher, putting stuff away, etc.

And, as it turned out, Turning On the Self-Cleaning Oven.

Now, for those not familiar with the technology, SCOs heat themselves up to a relatively high temperature, lock themselves (this is important) with a solenoid so that no one can open them again, then heat WAY up and literally burn the stuff off the inside, reducing it to a fine ash that can easily be wiped out or even sucked out with a small vacuum cleaner.

Remember the turkey juice that had overflowed?

Well, there was still a fair amount of it left on the bottom of the oven. We had not gotten around to sponging it out, and the late-arriving sister didn't know that needed to be done.

So, oven REALLY hot and locked, turkey juice on the bottom, and a vent for excess heat.


Not just a little smoke; we are talking SMOKE here -- billows of smoke, clouds of acrid smoke, really serious smoke.

And the aforementioned smoke alarms, causing little children to panic and cry.

Open windows, and smoke billows out. Open doors to hallway, and smoke fills the entire apartment complex. Which, of course, has its own smoke alarms and automatic fire department call relays.

And we can't open the oven, which takes a while to cool down, and still pours smoke out the vents.

So, smoke, alarms, neighbors, fire department folks. We gave them all some fudge, put fans in the windows, and assured everyone that The Situation is Temporary and Really Under Control. Mom moved wraith-like through it all, and kept saying "Boy, we're going to remember this one for a long time."

Author Unknown

Previously published by RootsWeb Genealogical Data Cooperative,
RootsWeb Review, Vol. 1, No. 24, 25 November 1998. You may visit
RootsWeb's main Web page at http://www.rootsweb.com

17 November 2004

30 October 2004

And Worms...

As of October 29, 2004 9:40 AM (GMT -7:00; Daylight Saving Time), TrendLabs has declared a Medium Risk Virus Alert to control the spread of WORM_BAGLE.AU. TrendLabs has received several infection reports indicating that this malware is spreading in US, Japan, Sweden, Germany, Mexico, France, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, and Canada.

Like other BAGLE variants, the success of this worm may be attributed to its plain and brief email messages that bear the following details:

Subject any of the following
• Re:
• Re: Hello
• Re: Hi
• Re: Thank you!
• Re: Thanks :)

Message body: any of the following
• :)
• :))

any of the following

with the following extension names

This worm scans an infected system for files with certain extension names to acquire its target recipients. It then uses its own SMTP engine and the domain servers of its harvested email addresses for its mailing routine. Unsuspecting users may then receive email messages from trusted acquaintances and readily execute the attachment, thus launching this worm.

For more information on WORM_BAGLE.AU, you can visit the Trend Micro Web site.

29 October 2004

Another Bagle...

As of October 29, 2004, 2:07 AM (-7:00; Daylight Saving Time), TrendLabs has declared a Medium Risk Virus Alert to control the spread of WORM_BAGLE.AT. TrendLabs has received several infection reports indicating that this malware is spreading in Japan, Sweden, China and Germany.

This worm uses its own SMTP engine to propagate via email. It arrives as either of the following attachments:

This worm searches the drive for folders with names containing the string "shared". It then drops itself in these shared folders using certain file names.

For more information on WORM_BAGLE.AT, you can visit the Trend Micro Web site.

25 October 2004



Or you can visit his web site. Don't forget to say hello to Ramona while you're there.

23 October 2004

Machine Dreams - Oct 15,2004

"When software runs inside our brains, what will happen to us? Ray Kurzweil, who helped invent the IT present, explains to Web Editorial Director Art Jahnke how humans fit into the IT future. You may not like it.
INTERVIEW BY ART JAHNKE"Read the full interview at CIO Magazine...

19 October 2004

Bush Misleads on Flu Vaccine

During the presidential debate last Wednesday, President Bush said the problem was that "we relied upon a company out of England."1 That isn't true. Chiron Corp., the company whose vaccine plant was contaminated, is a California company - subject to regulation by the U.S. government - that operates a factory in England.2
Read the full story at Misleader.org: Daily Mislead

17 October 2004

Personal Technology -- Personal Technology from The Wall Street Journal.

Browsing safely: I suggest dumping Microsoft's Internet Explorer Web browser, which has a history of security breaches. I recommend instead Mozilla Firefox, which is free at www.mozilla.org. It's not only more secure but also more modern and advanced

Read the full article on computer security by Walt Mossberg...

Current Electoral Vote Predictor 2004

View up to date poll summaries here

Kerry is ahead in electorial votes. And he has the big MO...

16 October 2004

Historians vs. George W. Bush

A recent informal, unscientific survey of historians conducted at my suggestion by George Mason University’s History News Network found that eight in ten historians responding rate the current presidency an overall failure.

Read the full article...

01 October 2004

Arthur C Clarke receives Heinlein Award

The Heinlein Society's Fourth Annual Robert A. Heinlein Memorial Dinner was held Friday, September 3, 2004 in the Belvedere Ballroom of the Hilton Boston Back Bay Hotel. It coincided with the 62nd World Science Fiction Convention in Boston, Massachusetts.

The evening began with a reception and cocktail hour followed by dinner. At 8:15 PM, an Internet audio video connection was established with Sir Arthur C. Clarke... Continue Reading

24 September 2004

Hurricane abuse

You guys are gonna get in trouble for hogging all the cool hurricanes this year...

Ireland Cracks Down on Internet Fraud

DUBLIN, Ireland - Ireland has become the first country on earth to cut off direct-dialed calls to entire nations in a bid to crack down on Internet-based fraud.

The crackdown, announced this week and due to come into force Oct. 4, will block calls to 13 locations - all but one all but one of them far-flung islands - to deter fraudsters from breaking into people's computers and hijacking their modems for profit. Continue Reading... EarthLink - Technology News

JPG vulnerability

First, go here and read the bad news:


Next, go here, and grab the little tool:


Upon running the tool, you will get an output will look something like this:

C:\WINNT\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v1.1.4322\gdiplus.dll Version: 5.1.3102.1360
C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Ink\gdiplus.dll Version: 5.1.3097.0 <-- Vulnerable version
Scan Complete.

If you have no red entries, yer good to go. Now here's the kicker--the scanner may find a copy somewhere that actually is the bad old version (see above sample). You may also notice after reading the Technet bulletin that Microsoft will only tell you which of their products are affected. So guess what....you have no way of knowing which app you have (or had) installed on your box put that copy of gdiplus.dll there. In the example above, I simply copied the good version over the bad version...nothing broke, but you can get away with that in Windows 2000....Windows XP File Protection may or may not like that action--your mileage may vary. AV software may put up a fuss, too.

Good luck.

20 September 2004

Open source patch releases

...and the best thing is, we didn't have to wait 'til the first Tuesday of the month to get it...

06 September 2004

We Survived!

That says it all! The house is fine... (thank you, Eric, for checking). Melody is on the way to work and will let us know how her house did when she gets home.

But we survived!! Still no power in Orlando, and no power or phone at home. We will stay here till we have one or the other AND the fuel supplies are renewed.

Four letter word is next... IVAN?!?!?!?

02 September 2004

Technology helps scientists map Floyd's fury

Technology helps scientists map Floyd's fury

Uh... just because a hurricane's eye hits land at one spot, doesn't mean the rest of the area is hunky dory. From this, it looks like all points NORTH of landfall are the real danger zones.

You will note, this is for Floyd -- the last storm we ran from.

Running is goooooood!

Storm Surge

Storm Surge

Let's talk about this! do we have a shallow slope off the coast or a steeper continental shelf?

Which side of the storm really pushes the water? Enquiring panicky minds want to know.

28 August 2004

Voncile and her computer return...

Most people would travel away from a storm... not us! We had to take the cat for his knee surgery post op visit. And I promised to help Voncile with her computer and to get her new ISP online.

Charley had other plans. Yes, that Charley -- the hurricane. We lost power about 11 pm Friday, right after an electical surge that sent the APC Back Ups into high squeals.

So poor Voncile has been begging computer time from all the relatives for the past two weeks, just trying to keep her nose above email. Tomorrow she gets to dive in and really swim through it. I finally have everything working properly for her.

Oh, before heading over here this morning, Melody called. She wanted me to come over and fix her computer (she deleted something vital and can't figure out how to get it back). Poor Melody... I had to tell her that the line forms at the rear...


25 August 2004

Russian Planes

Maybe we should send them a FBI forensic team....I'm sure two planes crashed minutes apart for no apparent reason with no rebel/terrorist help....if so, I'll be down at the corner store with my newly-liquidated stock cash buying Lotto tickets...

19 August 2004

The JibJab Times

The JibJab Times

If you haven't seen JibJab, this won't make a lot of sense. If you have seen it, you'll know the fame is deserved. Finding good humor in this election takes real talent.

18 August 2004

MajorGeeks.com - Download Freeware and Shareware Computer Utilities.

MajorGeeks.com - Download Freeware and Shareware Computer Utilities.

Similar to TuCows, CNet and ZDNet. Very user friendly.

Hi y'all!

Thanks for the invite, Patrice/Patty/Pat/girlie/hon, your invite was of course stuck in my spam filter right between "BiGger mAnhOod" and "Refinance Mister dino". After I wrote out and mailed the check to the enlargement/enhancement folks, I promptly signed up here. Joe, thanks for the link to the Japanese news site--my partner at the office has had to physically drag me out of the cafeteria at times due to some programming genius' decision to put the beach volleyball on during business hours (all this technology and they can't tape- or digi-delay it?). Of course, my interest is purely technical...
Now, in the Worst Kept Secrets Dept., here's a site I consult at least once daily to keep me abreast (insert Beavis/Butthead laugh here) of impending and occurring security issues:
I found that site a few jobs ago and haven't looked back since...obviously I still hit CERT, SecurityFocus, et al, but incidents.org is updated at least daily and more often during large virus outbreaks, worms, DDOS attacks, etc. And before you ask, I have Mozilla, Firefox, and IE installed on the Windoze boxes I use regularly, Mozilla and Firefox on the Linux boxes. My problem with Microsoft is not that their stuff is any more vulnerable than other products, it's that since they've consolidated their updates and patches to this idiotic one-per-month schedule, you could conceivably wait 29 days for a patch to be issued for a detected (and admitted-to) vulnerability. At least with the open source software, that wait is lessened drastically; in some cases, patches have been issued hours after a vulnerability is found. And these days, the time bloc between announcement of a vulnerability and exploit code being written and made public is getting smaller all the time.
I was just informed the second pot of coffee is done brewing...now I'm faced with the difficult decision....ESPN or CNN (Daryn Kagan)....at least THAT part of my brain still works...

12 August 2004

10 August 2004


I am finally here and sat down, & have time to read! My mother is laughing at me because I am a first time homeowner and had to install wire shelves in my bedroom closet, and guess what?? It collapsed! HELP... HELP... I think I need a new screwdriver... or maybe I should sit and drink a Screwdriver! It surely gets me very frustrated!

The house is a big challenge for me because I never painted or fixed my parents' house, my dad always did it!

AVN Online :: Web Exclusive News

AVN Online :: Web Exclusive News

More problems for Internet Explorer.

09 August 2004

meryl's notes: Mozilla Is Fallible

meryl's notes: Mozilla Is Fallible

Mozilla and FireFox has a security issue. But as soon as we heard about it, the fix was available and the steps to verify it has been implemented are simple. More than we can say for....

[This is a very interesting article that weighs the most common objections to leaving IE]

29 July 2004

MessageLabs Threats And Analysis: Threats - Overview

MessageLabs Threats And Analysis: Threats - Overview:

"MessageLabs Intelligence provides a range of information on global email security threats. The service has live data feeds from our control towers around the world, which scan millions of emails everyday, and therefore provides the latest and most comprehensive data and analysis available."

I rather like this one which lets you see the volume of the various threats and annoyances.

26 July 2004

McAfee Inc.

McAfee Inc.

You can't keep track of the players if you don't have a scorecard. Constantly updated.

24 July 2004



This should answer all your questions about Eudora and MAPI (Messaging Application Programming Interface).