Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Pakistani Gun Market

YouTube, and video sites like it, continue to impress me as the alternative to traditional television broadcasting. I grew up in the 50's and 60's in USA when television was created. I'm now witnessing the birth of its successor.

This video ( is a fascinating tour of a gun market in Western Pakistan on the historic Khyber Pass.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Desktop Searching Tool

Wow. I justified to myself to get myself a new laptop. The family had a need for another in the family—to support my wife in her college career. I had my eye on the Sony TZ series. While absurdly expensive it is just what I want (small, light, long battery life, full-featured).

As part of the journey to that machine setup and running (it takes weeks to get a new laptop setup!), hesitated installed Google Desktop Search. And I never liked Microsoft's search tool either, even on Vista. I subscribe to James Fallows's blog (a writer best known for his work for The Atlantic), and he mentioned his supreme satistfaction with X1. See

I trust Mr. Fallows. I've been reading his work for years. He's on my list of people I'd love to have dinner with some day. So I downloaded the trial version of X1. It's terrific. They will get my $50 license fee.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Google's Gmail Spam Filter is Suddenly Too Aggressive

I forward incoming mail to my home/business account to Google's Gmail so that I can easily access copies of my mail while travelling. This avoids me having to set up remote access to the mail server inside the firewall.

Worked well until this week when most of the forwarded mail received by Google is identified as "spam" and moved into their spam folder. I don't have a clue about what changed. I get "tons" of spam mail direct into the Google account simply because it exists. But I don't understand why all of the sudden there are so many false positives. And I don't understand why I don't seem to have any settings to change to help fix it.

I guess I will stop using this approach.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Out of Control Pig Disease in China

Today's Washington post covers the story of a devastating disease of pigs in China. "

"The Chinese government has admitted that the swine deaths amount to an epidemic but contends that the situation is under control."

Given their skills managing SARS and choosing to paint toys with lead paint, this is not good for the world.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

We need To Think About Value-Add When We Create Jobs

The Scotsman reports today that 40 jobs will be lost due to ending of tolls on the Forth Road Bridge ( I do hope all these people will shortly find more rewarding employment elsewhere. I also applaud removing these tolls as I can't begin to think of any good reason why it makes economic sense to continue to incur the toll-collection costs considering the marginal value-add of the tolls themselves.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Bias of the BBC

As a resident of the UK and a BBC license-fee payer, I have the privilege of enjoying the full resources of the BBC on television, radio, and increasingly on the Internet and my iPod. It is a tremendous resource and I do not wish it to disappear anytime soon, despite the not-insignificant annual cost for the license. At the same time, over the years I have grown more irritated when I notice obvious biasness in the BBC news reports. Sometimes they just don't know what they are talking about—or maybe it's me? I can't have missed that much in my life to believe those assertions by the BBC report which clashes so much with my understanding of the world. It therefore is somewhat reassuring when I read how the BBC itself is aware of that bias (to what extent is still a mystery) and that it's written about. See "Confessions of a BBC Liberal" in today's Sunday Times, authored by the person who wrote "Yes, Minister".

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Mobile Phones Causing Bees to Disappear?

The Independent, bastion of outstanding and unbiased British reporting, reports in today's paper the assertion that mobile phones might be the root cause of the disappearing bees. See

"The theory is that radiation from mobile phones interferes with bees' navigation systems, preventing the famously homeloving species from finding their way back to their hives. Improbable as it may seem, there is now evidence to back this up."

There is a serious issue with bees disappearing. We must have bees to survive as a species.

Of course mobile phones wiping out bees will be a world-changing discovery if this is to be proven. At the same time, what is so special about mobile phone radiation? We have had radio transmissions originating from our planet for over a hundred years, and bees have survived over that period. We have been bombarded by radiation originating from space since day one of the universe. Bees have survived that.

What is different about mobile phones to be worthy of this accusation?

Friday, April 06, 2007

Samba Domain Control in Fedora Core 6

I found I needed to upgrade the server from Red Hat 7 (or 8) to run a more contemporary version of Linux. Main reason is that the machine running Red Hat simply refused to restart after replacing the LAN card. I simply wanted to upgrade from 10 mbs to 100 mbs. That led down a long and tortuous path to build a new server, based on Fedora Core 6.

Everything seemed to get installed and started just fine: Sendmail, Apache, Samba file shares, etc. However, getting Samba to act as a domain login controller just would not work. I'm convinced there is a bug. I guess I will try to collect the information in the logs and send it off to the Samba developers.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

SSL Email in Python?

I've figured out how to send email via a Python script using the email module. But I find how to setup an SSL connection which is required to use the Gmail SMTP server. Anybody know?

Friday, January 05, 2007

Proprietary is Not Necessarily Secret!

The term "proprietary" should mean "something that is owned by someone". Even people who create software (or hardware) that then license under what they consider "open" and therefore non-proprietary licenses are kidding themselves. They own it. They created it. They chose to license it. Even after licensing it, they *probably* still own it (unless they gave up ownership in the license).

Proprietary does not mean secret, non-open, or anything like that ... despite that, I agree that's how the word seems to be now used. I guess it's ok that words evolve, but the definition of the word "proprietary" has evolved faster than it should given that this evolution has confused the topic of software licensing.

CERIAS Weblogs � Vulnerability disclosure grace period needs to be short, too short for patches

CERIAS Weblogs � Vulnerability disclosure grace period needs to be short, too short for patches

This is a terrific article which presents numerical analysis in the assessment of risk. So rare these days.