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vsergu (505)

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Journal of vsergu (505)

Tuesday February 18, 2003
02:51 PM

SpamAssassin thinks I'm a porn spammer

I've been playing around with SpamAssassin and discovered that e-mail containing URLs to one of the sites I help to maintain matches its PORN_4 test. You see, contains an obscene three-character string. Now I know how Bruce Schneier feels.

Better check to see whether the test is the same in the bleeding-edge version.

Friday November 08, 2002
03:28 PM

Election Risks

The first two articles in the latest issue of Risks Digest are about the recent US election and the headlong rush to implement poorly tested, unauditable, opaque voting systems:

The general consensus among election officials and voters seems to be that the all-electronic machines are a great improvement, relatively easy to use, and inherently able to prevent overvotes. The general consensus among knowledgeable computer security experts seems to be that almost all of the existing all-electronic systems could relatively easily be rigged by internal fraud in the software and external manipulation of the local polling-place configurations and could also be subject to undetected internal errors, because of an almost complete absence of meaningful audit trails and independent verification of the consistency of votes tabulated with votes cast. Just because an all-electronic machine looks like it might be working, how do you *KNOW* it is doing the right thing? From a RISKS perspective, a perceived potential lack of integrity is a serious obstacle to democracy.

—Peter G. Neumann

On the bright side, I seem to be starting to have more to talk about with my conspiracy theorist brother-in-law (and fewer disagreements).

Thursday November 07, 2002
12:32 PM

Microsoft humor

From knowledge base article Q138365:

If you configure the Autodisconnect option to -1 at the command prompt, Autodisconnect is set to the upper value in the registry. This is approximately 8,171 years (not tested), which should be long enough to be the equivalent of turning Autodisconnect off.

Monday October 14, 2002
04:52 PM

Microsoft tries own switch campaign, fails miserably

Microsoft put up its own switch ad today, "Confessions of a Mac to PC Convert", complete with a photo of the unidentified supposed switcher that someone determined was actually a stock photo. Most of the claimed Windows advantages are things that Mac OS X has as well.

After overwhelming ridicule from the usual suspects on Slashdot and Metafilter, Microsoft took the page down, and it's now available only from Google's cache.

Saturday October 12, 2002
08:12 PM

Defying death

I've just done my brave deed for the day: eating dinner at an outside table at a DC restaurant. Of course, it's safer than stopping at a gas station in the suburbs.

The bhindi masala (okra curry) was good, and there were no signs of sniper-carrying white vans.

Thursday October 10, 2002
12:34 PM

Microsoft amazed by 80/20 rule

"We've been amazed by the patterns revealed in the error reports that customers are sending us," Ballmer wrote. "About 20 percent of the bugs cause 80 percent of all errors, and -- this is stunning to me -- one percent of bugs cause half of all errors."

"Microsoft says 1 pct of bugs cause half of all software errors"

Another news flash: Microsoft discovers people aren't interested in buying computers crippled to keep Hollywood happy.

Wednesday October 09, 2002
01:36 PM

Advertisers are not like you and me

More evidence. The sad thing is that some morons probably did buy the service after getting the insult (the same people responding to spammers and telemarketers).

08:08 AM

Always check user input

The latest issue of Risks Digest brings the stories of a teacher who received an unexpected bonus and, right after it, the accidental sale of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of stock (caused by confusion between "million" and "billion").

At least the erroneous stock sale was at the right price, unlike this one from last year, in which the price and number of shares were switched, resulting in a $100 million loss.

Monday September 30, 2002
11:36 AM

Buffy the theologian

Nat's nominee for UN secretary-general has been named theologian of the year by the Christian satirical magazine The Door .
Friday September 06, 2002
07:49 AM

... but I play one on TV

The winner of Fox TV's "American Idol" competition will be singing at the Lincoln Memorial September 11. Earlier, callers to Operation TIPS (the denounce-your-neighbors program) were routed to the "America's Most Wanted" hotline.

In other news, homeland security czar Tom Ridge has tapped the producers of "Big Brother" to coordinate domestic surveillance efforts, and Anne Robinson will be helping to ferret out the weakest links in the intelligence agencies.