Monday, December 27, 2004

Now I know you're making it up

Okay, Australia does have a reputation for importing animals that destroy the local ecology. I know about the bunnies that now wash across the outback in massive seething tides. I know about the foxes that were imported to control the bunnies, but developed a taste for the slower-moving wallaby and left the bunnies alone.

I even know about the golden eagles that have forgotten how to hunt, preferring to lounge around the dingo fences and wait for the bunnies to pile up.

Faced with these disasters, you'd think the Australians would have learned their lesson, but no, there's also the cane toad, which they imported to control insect pests in the sugar cane crop, but which no local species will eat because they are actually poisonous.

Nor are these the only examples.

But, c'mon. Half a million feral camels? Yes.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Camels and Rubber Duckies

This is what happens when you follow random links. I was at the Accordion Guy's page (see previous), and there was this link on the side labeled Camels and Rubber Duckies. I ask you, would you have been able to resist?

Anyway, that took me to Tucows' developers' page, The Farm, and the above image (wouldn't that make great wallpaper?), which in turn links to an essay called, not too surprisingly by this point, Camels and Rubber Duckies. The surprise is that it's by Joel Spolsky, whose Fog Creek Software markets the excellent web site management program I use, CityDesk.

Joel may think this article is about pricing software, but actually it's about pricing just about anything.

"The internet has helped to polarize people."

Here's a look at the 2004 election in which the words "cowboy," "Vietnam" and "red/blue" are never spoken. It's quite refreshing, and fascinating. Joey deVilla, the "Accordion Guy," presents his notes from the Internet+Society 2004 Conference, held Dec 9-11, sponsored by the Berkman Center at Harvard Law School.

(The participants in this panel are: Chair: Prof. Heather Gerken, Harvard Law School; Chuck DeFeo, eCampaign manager, Bush-Cheney '04; Zack Exley, Director of Online Communication and Organization, Kerry-Edwards 2004; Prof. Sunshine Hillygus, Harvard University; Dan Gillmor, journalist, San Jose Mercury News and

Friday, December 17, 2004

Microsoft may start charging extra for software that works

Yes, that's Fark's headline for this story, and I wanted to say "Don't you think that's overreacting?", but the more I read, the more I agree. - Microsoft may charge extra for security software
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Microsoft Corp. disclosed plans Thursday to offer frustrated users of its Windows software new tools within 30 days to remove spyware programs secretly running on computers. But it might cost extra in coming months.

In a shift from past practice, the world's largest software manufacturer said it may charge consumers for future versions of the new protective technology, which Microsoft acquired by buying a small New York software firm.

...Microsoft's tool, expected to be available within 30 days, initially will be free but the company isn't ruling out charging for future versions. "We're going to be working through the issue of pricing and licensing," Nash said. "We'll come up with a plan and roll that out."
Linux developers, get ready. Your window of opportunity (so to speak) is imminent.

LATER: What do you mean, we don't actually own the software? We bought the company!

Friday, December 10, 2004

Holiday Self-Promotion

ARTC will be appearing at Memorial Hall at Stone Mountain Park to share a few of our favorite Christmas memories. Showtimes are 2pm and 4pm on Saturday and Sunday, December 11 and 12.

I might also observe that radio drama makes an economical and unique gift.

LATER: Just took advantage of Blogger timewarp to move this entry up. It looks like we're doing darned near a three hour Christmas marathon. And at that, we're going to have to leave out some scripts to make it fit. It'll be a fun show: Drop by.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Sunday morning protesters

Actually, that's not an insult, or a reference to Sunday (or Monday) morning quarterbacks. It's the literal truth. Photodude has something to say about the upcoming 51 Capital March, in which literally dozens of outraged voters will march on all fifty State Capitols, and the Federal Capitol, to protest the widespread fraud that created and perpetuated the absurd illusion that George Bush actually won the Presidential election.

Specifically, Reid observes that the organizers fit the stereotyle of Godless liberals, since they've scheduled their protest for noon on Sunday, December 12th. Either they wanted to keep the church-goers away (they would have been overwhelmingly Republican anyway, right?), or there simply are no church-goers among the organizing committee to have noticed this conflict.

I posted a comment there, but I'm so in love with the sound of my own voice that I'll post it again here:
I’m sure they were going for the synchronicity of twelves (the date is 12/12, the announced time is 12:00, and who’ll wager that the recorded beginning of the protest, or else a moment of silence, is set for twelve minutes after the hour?), just as local Veterans’ Day activities were scheduled for 11:11am on 11/11. They hope to make the event look more Significant by so doing. People love meaningless numerical convergence. (Are they correcting for different time zones?)

Yes, this particular group of Democrats is obviously not composed of church-goers. It is my perception, though, that politicians and activists at either end of the spectrum only mention God when they think He will deliver votes.

Who do they figure is going to be at the State Capitol on Sunday morning to witness them? If a placard falls in the middle of a rally and no one sees it, does it make a sound?
Maybe I'll set the VCR to catch the Sunday noon news to see if anyone does a live remote.

Friday, December 03, 2004

I know it's not spam 'cause it says so

After all, it says I signed up to receive this e-mail, and they wouldn't lie, would they?

It claims to be "From Microsoft and the team!" and it tells me that I've won an X-Box. Of course, I never signed up for any X-Box giveaway, but the page hints that this particular prize was added later, and there are any number of sites that require an e-mail address, so I might have given it to someone who's giving away an X-Box. (This particular mail came to the address I give to people I don't want to have my address...)

Anyway, it almost looked credible. The e-mail mentioned a "pass code number" I'll need to claim the prize. The destination page wants my address. Well, that makes sense: How's it going to mail me anything without my address?

I'm going to have to pay shipping, it says, just to prove I'm an adult and eligible to win contests. On the form, the payment method says "debit card" (interesting default) but it's in a drop down box so I should be able to choose the disputable credit card... And when you click the drop-down arrow there's no other option. Interesting. The form goes on to ask for my debit card number, expiration date and PIN red alert red alert red alert...

Well, I'm glad it wasn't spam.

The page is gone now. I wonder whose "team" this will be from the next time I see it?

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

The good news is, dialups are relatively safe

PC Authority | Unprotected PCs fall to hacker bots in four minutes
The lifespan of a poorly protected PC connected to the internet is a mere four minutes, research released this week claims. After that, it's owned by a hacker.

In the two week test, marketing communications firm AvanteGarde deployed half a dozen systems in "honeypot" style, using default security settings. It then analysed the machines' performance by tallying the attacks, counting the number of compromises, and timing how long it took an attack to successfully hijack a computer once it was connected to the internet.

The six machines were equipped with Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003, Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 1 (SP1), Microsoft Windows XP SP1 with the free ZoneAlarm personal firewall, Microsoft Windows XP SP2, Macintosh OS X 10.3.5, and Linspire's distribution of Linux.
Surprisingly, most of the machines resisted attacks for the two weeks of the trial, the XP machines because of the firewalls (yes, even the one that comes with XP works if it's turned on), Linux because it's, well, Linux, and the Mac because, although numerous bots tried, and many of them could have succeeded, all of them were Windows-targeted. One good Mac hacker could destroy the illusion that Macs are immune to such things--but who wants to put that much time into crippling 2% of the market?