Tuesday, August 23, 2005

I got spammed

The other day I was having a look at this blog, and I noticed that one of the posts had a comment on it. Previous comments had been made by my sister, but after a few of those I decided I didn't want people I knew reading the stuff I put up here. And so I changed the url, and didn't let anyone know (an earlier post discusses this further).

So I was initialy pleasantly surprised by the comment. It suggested that someone had read what I'd written, and thought it worthwhile to respond. And then I read the comment, which had nothing to do with what I'd written but plenty to do with the wonderful features of some obscure make of car. It was spam.

I've deleted the said comment, as it doesn't contribute anything, and keeping it would just encourage that sort of pissantness to continue.

Spams an annoying thing that has developed on the internet. First on BBSs, then email, and later websites, forums and blogs. Soon there will probably be podcast spam. And the vast volume of it continues simply because people make money from it. Sending emails is cheap, and if only one in ten thousand end up buying something, the spammer is still getting back a lot more than they pay in sending the spam.

Given human nature and the lucrative nature of spamming, technical measures to prevent spam will never completely succeed. Now admitedly mail filters now seem to work pretty well, and my gmail inbox hasn't had a spam in quite some time, but the spam folder is pretty full. The way to stop spam is to take away their money, which is what their in it for. All spam is selling stuff, and they accept payment by credit card.

So who are the people able to shut down spam once and for all. Visa, Mastercard, Diners Club, American Express. The credit card companies. Stop letting spammers get payments by credit card, and they will shrivel up and die. If they can't make money, they'll find something else to do with their time. I've seen one propsal where credit card companies set up a few spam detecting card numbers, and let people use those to make purchases from spam they recieve. Then when the spammers try and claim the money for the sale, they know exactly who's spamming the masses and can tell them to get lost. Unfortunately, I suspect that credit card companies enjoy their share of credit card purchases from spam too much to take such drastic measures.

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Writing time: 17 minutes

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The title goes here

A few weeks ago I had dinner with my uncle and grandmother. And while I was there we were watching the news and there was a bit about how Italy was bringing in laws making it illegal to cover your face in public. I was a bit outraged and was all sort of, 'that's very uncool, we shouldn't be restricting peoples rights for non-existent gains in security'. And then my grandmother said that people shouldn't cover their faces in this climate of terror, and generally coming down on the side of paranoia.

This is the first time I've ever really taken a greatly different political position with another family member. Admittedly I haven't really spoken all that much politics with the generations before me, but they've always given the impression of moderation and reasonableness. Now I'm left to wonder what else do we disagree on.

My politics aren't very rigorously defined, but ultimately they come down to the side of personal liberty and social responsibility. Let people be free to do as they will, but ensure they don't get screwed over by others. I think corporations have too much power, or more accurately are too unconstrained, and that essential services such as health and education are at the moment not sufficiently funded. I also have a strong dislike of extremism. By that I mean taking things too far. Everything becomes dangerous if taken to an extreme. There's a book I've read called Jennifer Government, where corpratism is taken to an extreme, and society as whole has become much more dysfunctional. Perhaps the problem with extreme solutions is that they only work when things are very black and white, whereas the world is a large spectrum of grays.

When it comes to politicians, I think the first principle to apply is one that doctors live by, first, do no harm. The world today is a complicated place, and lots of stuff happens all the time, some good, some bad. Not adding more to the bad pile is a good place to start. That's why I think the state premier isn't too bad, because he hasn't gone around doing stuff making things worse for people. The prime minister however, has brought in a whole load of bad things. The messed up treatment of refugees, the complete and utter willingness to go along with anything America proposes (I'm not saying everything America proposes is good or bad (but recent stuff hasn't really been to our advantage), it's the going along without any real consideration or consultation that isn't good), the changes to higher education, the war on terror bullshit, and other messed up stuff.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2005

A lot of talking

I recently had a very long talk with a friend about past romances, hers and mine. Overall neither of us have had much success. It was an interesting experience talking about such things, as I don't really open up all that much. It confirmed some conclusions I'd already come to, namely that next time some sort of romantic interest develops a middle path should be followed. The first time I messed something up, it was by going to far to one extreme, and the next time I went too far the other way. Next time I will attempt a more balanced approach.

Another thing that came up was that my friend thinks I'm paranoid. A combination of bitterness and cynicism which I'll happily admit to may work together to produce some mild paranoia, but I'd never thought of myself as such. But then a few days later I did an online quiz about what do you think the right thing to do in various circumstances and I got a fair few wrong because I chose answers that were too uncompromising, so perhaps there is some claim to the statement.

Work is ok at the moment, but I got a bit depressed the other day when it turned out I got the best results for call quality in my team. It wouldn't have been quite so bad except for that month a bit of a competition was going with the winner getting some dodgy cap celebrating the introduction of call recording, so an email went around boldly proclaiming the fact. Now don't get me wrong, I don't intend to do a half assed job, but I really wasn't planning on becoming exceptionally good at the job. The other worrying aspect of things is that all the things I got bonus marks for was me going through short cuts to save some hassles with the person on the other end of the phone. At least it should mean they'll be a bit lenient about the fact I didn't meet the required average call length for the month, although I think that because I got put on the newbie kpis, this month I might actually be a bit under the official number, but I've been trying to meet the standard one, which is 20 seconds less than the one I think I'm on, but I ended up being about 10 seconds over.

Today is also the end of an era. This evening I will be upgrading my computer, which will effectively be a replacement of my current one. Although it will still be in the same case, the only component that came with it from the store when I bought it is a cd burner. Today I'm changing the motherboard, ram, cpu, graphics card, one hard drive and a dvd burner for a cd burner. The new cd burner is going because its stopped opening and closing properly, and seems intent on ruining cds that are put inside it, so it's going. The original hard drive died a few years back, and the current sound card and network card are being replaced by onboard versions.

This will be the fourth computer I've had. The first was an apple IIc that Mum bought a year or two before I began school, on which I learnt to program. Many years later that was replaced with a brand spanking new pentium 100, which was good for it's time. I'm still actually using the harddrive from the pentium 100, just as a temp directory because it's a whopping 1.6GB in size. That came with me down to uni, but was replaced in the middle of second year for my current computer, which is a pentium III 800. And tonight I will gut that machine, and like a phoenix it will be reborn, bigger and better than before (all going well of course).

End Post
Write time: 40 minutes