Rik's Ramblings

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Whale Watching - A rebuttal to Fantomex

Whale Watching with Fantomex

My comic-book hero friend Fantomex[1] is currently whining because we went whale watching in Monterey and we saw no whales. Actually, it's almost a year ago since we went, but that's by the by. Obviously still holding a grudge that it cost him $40 and half a day :-)

He's put the following picture up on his "site". Presumably he's having a dig at me because I'm always going on about how great California is and we have everything, whereas Leeds just has rain, homeless people and a tier 2 footy team.

Click for full size image
lock ness monster

It amazes me that he totally failed to see the pre-historic monster off the port bow. Should get his super-hero super-vision checked maybe :-P

[1] - Actually, he's no hero, he's just delusional.

Where's my Gmail account?

It's not fair! I deserve - nay, DEMAND - a Gmail account!

I practically invented the Internet for god's sake, therefore I should always be first to get anything kewl and geeky.

If someone doesn't send me a Gmail invite soon I'm going to have a flipping tantrum.


p.s., I have PayPal and I'm willing to spend $10 if I have to!

Monday, June 28, 2004

Shooting Through the Rings of Saturn Space Probe May Answer Mysteries

Shooting Through the Rings of Saturn Space Probe May Answer Mysteries:

    "Big Stone Gap, Va. -- Space science enthusiasts will be glued to the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) web site Wednesday evening to determine if the American-European made space probe Cassini-Huygens has swept through the colorful rings of Saturn intact and fully operational after the seven-year, 2.2-billion mile flight through space."

What a stupid idea! You're telling me it's taken seven years to get there and the first thing they do is fly it through a minefield!

Please explain why space geeks!? Ain't there a less hit-and-miss approach!

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Lounging Out Back

Saturday afternoon around 3pm.

This is the life! Just lounging in the back yard with the dog and my fifth Budwizer of the day.

Had a yard full of people round this morning. One of Ben's friends (and her family) is leaving the area to go back East :'-(

I suppose we should get used to people coming and going living around here. I suppose Ben will, this is the second time in his little 4 year lifetime that a friend has moved away (we're talking 3 time-zones away, not moving down the street here!).

Being from a small town in Yorkshire you get used to living in the same house with the same neighbours for 20 years. It's a bit sad for Debbie and I when people that we've just got used to 'suddenly' up and leave.

Anyway, we had a nice old party round at our place for them. I've had a few beers - though the plan was to not pig out and drink too much.

Rest of the day probably will be a write-off.

The dog's been good. Despite a garden full of pre-school kids and their parents and tasty food he was happy to be sat under our orange tree on his blanket with his toy.

He certainly seems to be resigned to constant harrassement from kids wanting to "stroke the big doggy".

Friday, June 25, 2004

One Man and His Dog

Portugal 6 - 5 England

The ref must be blind
The Ref with his Guide Dog, 24 June 2004

Yes, it's a great day for soccer related humour in England.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Yahoo! News - Largest ISPs Attack 'Zombies'

Yahoo! News - Largest ISPs Attack 'Zombies':
    "The Anti-Spam Technical Alliance, which includes America Online Inc., Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq:YHOO - news), Microsoft Corp. and EarthLink Inc., urged all Internet providers to police their networks more aggressively and cut off machines suspected of being launching pads for spam."

Damn good idea if you ask me. Having said that, it'd be good if someone could suggest a nice deamon I could run on my servers that does the job for me!

Friday, June 18, 2004

BBC - Cult Television - Roobarb (and Custard)

Original episodes of Roobarb, all the way from 1974, for your viewing delight. Click on a link below to watch an episode.
BBC - Cult Television - Roobarb (and Custard)

Ahhh, I used to love this when I was a kid! Apparently a new episode will be added each week. And it's a full episode, not just a stinking 30 second clip.

Must force Ben to watch 'em all and become edumacated. I'm sure he'll think it's boring and unsophisticated, compared to his hi-tech computer generated cartoons though.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11

I'm really looking forward to seeing this film ... assuming the government will allow it!

USATODAY.com - No more Moore!:

"Fahrenheit 9/11 ... attacks President Bush's rationale for the war in Iraq and accuses him and his administration of manipulating the Sept. 11 terror attacks and fostering fear for political gain."

Michael Moore, June 9, (c) AP

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Test Cloud

This is a test ...

Wow, it appears to work.

By the way, this is my 'official' Internet Cloud. I use it in all my powerpoint presentations.

God I'm such a geek.


I have to say, American real-estate has 'bodge-job' designed right in up front. You can't do anything in a structured and well engineered 'reversible' manner. For example, houses in California.

Made out of wood, dawbed with 'stucco' to keep out the rain. So when you want to run some wires (erm, cat 5) how do you do it? You can't! You can't chase a channel in to the plaster, you can't pass 'em along a cavity wall, you can't run them behind a skirting board. You have to nail the wire to the outside of the house, drill a hole through to your room and wang the wire in. Nailing to the outside ain't exactly childs play 'cos all the woods covered with stucco to stop the termites eating it.

Whatever you do, the result is an unsightly mess of wires running on the outside of your expensive 'shed'.

God, how I long for a nice bit of brickwork drill into.

Monday, June 14, 2004

How crap is that England team?

How can you be 1-0 up 90 minutes into a soccer game and STILL manage to loose!

Oh the French must be chuckling at us tonight.

All they had to do was stall for a minute or two and it was in the bag.

Very dissapointing ...

Saturday, June 12, 2004

San Gregorio Store

Had a great time last weekend camping up in the redwoods at Butano State Park, up in the hills near Half Moon Bay and Pescadero.

Took Friday off from work, so I had three days of relaxation up there. Debbie stayed home with the dog, so I was responsible for Ben! First time we've been let out on our own for more than a couple of hours!

Had a great time cooking burgers and marshmallows on the log fire! Didn't do much washing :) Went on the beach some, climbed trees a little.

On our way home on Sunday we called in at San Gregorio Store.
San Gregorio Picture

I always like to go there if I can find an excuse to be up on that part of the coast. There's always a good live band playing on a weekend and the atmosphere always makes me feel like a cowboy.

Damn shame we had to return to "civilization".

Friday, June 11, 2004

Run Forrest Run ...

Yes, I know, I'm sure my title for this entry is a very tired joke around the Apache Forrest team!

I just discovered Forrest as a documentation tool. I'm working with it for my latest (top secret) project at work. It has to be said, I'm getting pretty excited about using it.

It's a tool that helps you build a website our of all the HTML snippets that you have laying around.

Forrest takes care of the 'style' issues, things like your menu bars, tab list, fast "breadcrumb" navigation buttons. Meaning rather than having to refactor your entire website when your design department change the corporate style guide, you just change one template and re-build the site.

Kind of like what some people can do with Dreamweaver I believe, but

  • without the annoying WYSIWY!G editor.


Anyway, enough of this post. Check out Forrest.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Another M$FT blunder

A great day for lovers of contrived software hacks! Take a look at this page (or this) that describes a newly found vulnerability in IE6.

Two new browser vulnerabilities have been identified in the process.

As someone who writes software for a 'living' I know first hand that it's not always possible to identify every sloppy construct in your code, nor predict how arbitrary combinations of flaws might work together to completely blow open the security of your computer.

But it was f@*king obvious what was going to happen - even 8 years ago - when Microsoft started down this road of browser/OS integration and total omission of a security model.

Yeah, it's a neat trick that you can integrate and automate your contact database, spreadsheet, and email client using teen-friendly BASIC scripts - but what price convenience? Our security got sold out just so Bill could show off some 'neat tricks' with his Mozilla-killa. How convenient is it now to install a 10Meg security patch every month?

Anyway, go download the latest copy of Mozilla until this current storm blows over. By which time you might just be so hooked on the Tabbed Browser Window that you'll never go back :-)

Personally telnet to port 80 is my favorite way to get online.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Co-ordinating a terror attack

People talk about how terrorists use the 'net and newsgroups to co-ordinate terror attacks and other nafarious stuff.

I always thought they'd be using their own sites. I thought "That'd be easy(ish) to monitor and shut down the servers". But after some random searching last week I stumbled on an idea.

If you do a search (on google) for sohardtopicksn@aol.com you get dozens of message-board/feedback-form hits. The 'email address' appears on hundreds of unrelated sites. The content of the posting is apparently garbage.


One of the principle design goals of the Internet was Be resiliant to an attack or outage to a single node. Meaning someone can take-out one router or cable and the US gov doesn't loose it's comms network - all installations/nodes are still accessible. Traffic that would ideally go over the link just taken out uses an alternative path.

This is redundancy. Hmmm, those sohardtopicksn@aol.com messages have a similar level of redundancy. You have clean-up dozens of notice boards if you want to prevent the 'message' getting through.


When you don't want someone to read your messages cryptography is a way to 'scramble' the message in a way that makes it (approx) impossible to read.

The US gov doesn't want us to have access to strong cryptography - they want to be able to crack the 'scambling' on our messages. They want the ability to read them when they think we're terrorists.

My buddies at the EFF (http://www.eff.org) don't like that idea - they think we all have the right to privacy and must be allowed to use strong crypto to protect our love letters.

Those seemingly garbled messages sent by sohardtopicksn@aol.com might actually be encrypteed texts.


Pissed-off individual
+Message boards
= Co-ordinating a terror attack?


Maybe the US government is right to restrict access to strong cryptography. Perhaps they do need a backdoor to unlock and read our love letters.


Perhaps people who run newsgroups / discussion groups / blogs should remove all the garbage messages that are on the list. Don't be so lazy and untidy with your lists. Don't just assume it's a message that got "mangled" in transit.


FYI: messages can't get mangled in transit with IP+TCP+HTTP transport.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004


It's been a stressful weekend at sagarville. Made worse because it was a 3 day weekend.

The new dog (lucky) has driven us crazy. Yes the honeymoon period was short lived! The wife almost had me take him back to the pound on Sunday night.

I'm not a dog person, so I don't know what's good and what's not. But his current list of shortcomings are:

- Taking food off the table
- Pulling hard at the lead on walks
- Barking at (and trying to chase) squirrels, birds and cats
- Barking at anything that passes us while we're in the car

The latter woke Ben up from a sleep which was something that really pissed me off. I was ready to throw him out of the car as we drove along the freeway. And I can open that trunk from the driver's seat, so he needs to watch out! :-)

So Lucky is now on probation. We plan to get some training - doggy and parents - to see if we can get these problems fixed. I think he's on a timeline though! He needs to get fixed before too long!