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The world truly is smaller

The alternative title to this blog entry is "The Dastardly Duper gets Done in Dubbo" ;)

According to this Australian Associated Press report, an Australian man has been arrested in rural NSW in association with the Nigerian Bank Scams. It seems that some people were indeed gullible and foolish enough to fall for these hoaxes that caused the rest of us much amusement at their silliness.

The power of the Internet on global commerce extends through all facets of life - even the illegal. It is amazing to think that a man who lives in a town outside of Dubbo can con people in Europe and the US to think that they are dealing with a former African head of state/businessman/banker etc. To the length that they parted with (presumably a total of) hundreds of thousands of dollars.

It will be sad to no longer receive emails from Barrister Williams Akim the lawyer to the widow of the Late Gen. Sanni Abacha former Nigerian Military Head of State who died mysteriously as a result of Cardiac Arrest and his cohorts. Sadly I suspect that someone will fill the shoes of the current scammers - in fact it is likely that more than the three arrested people are perpetrating the scam around the world (it's hard to patent an illegal scam - but i'm sure it's not impossible ;)

06:15 AM, 31 Oct 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (2)

Life in North Korea

There is an amazing article in today's SMH about North Korea - I will post a summary when I get home.

In the mean time, here is the article: On the road to nowhere

03:53 AM, 29 Oct 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

And the winner is Sydney...

This is where I go to relax when my computer get's the best of me. If l ever forget why I moved to Sydney, this reminds me of at least one of the reasons!

Speaking of Sydney and sporting events, has anyone else been following the rugby world cup? How much does everyone love the Georgian Prince, Victor Greenwich Dadianov?! Apparently if not for heightened world cup security, his ceremonial get up would include a dagger, sword and ammunition pouch (according to todays SMH). I would hope NORMAL security would prevent that!

ooh-here comes my meal ;)

03:33 AM, 29 Oct 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

The view from my window

Well here is my first photo blog from my phone - a full 3 feet from my computer, the view from my window!

Next i might go for a walk to give you a closer view of the bridge :)

12:03 AM, 29 Oct 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

gzip encoding enabled

In the pursuit of reduced bandwidth and faster performance, I have enabled http gzip encoding on my server. This means that all the html and css files your browser gets from my server are gzip compressed, which is "a good thing"®

I think I have the relevant hacks in place to avoid compressing files sent to buggy browsers (like IE5), but if you have any wierdness please let me know.

Also I am about to cut in half the length of history shown on my homepage. If you want to read more entries, you just need to click on the Blog tab at the top of the page.

08:35 PM, 28 Oct 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Feature changes

Well the news feeds were fun, but they chewed up unnecessary bandwidth - so they're gone.

But, in testing right now, is live photo-blogging from my shiny new 3g phone (more about the phone later).

In essence, I can take a photo from my phone and email it with some text to a special address at my server - where it will be automatically blogged here. (There is more to it than that, like passwords, user matching etc, but that's the gist of it).

It should be up and running this afternoon in a functional way - but it's pretty hacked right now. Ultimately it will be an extention to the OpenACS weblogger package (and use the content repository and all the other OpenACS goodness).

Watch this space!

07:57 PM, 28 Oct 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Disused underground stations

I love the London Underground (or The Tube as it is affectionately/derisively known). You can see some photo's I took when I was in London earlier this year in my photo album (Underground Photos).

I just stumbed across a very cool website devoted to the disused platforms and stations of the tube by a guy called Hywel Williams (cool name). The main website is at this link. It's so comprehensive I haven't had time to read it all yet, but my favourite so far is his tour of the disused platforms of Holborn stations which include offices and a dormitory used during the second world war - very cool!

08:50 PM, 27 Oct 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Farewell our supersonic friend

Today marks the sad close of (for the forseeable future) supersonic passenger air travel. Concorde posted it's final commercial fare paying flight, from Heathrow, London to JFK, New York. Unfortunately I have never had the chance to fly on it :( when news broke earlier this year it would be retiring, I tried to book a frequent flyer seat - unsurprisingly they had all gone.

Amazing Concorde facts (courtesy of ba.com and other sources):

  • She stretches up to 10 inches in flight
  • The wingspan is less than that of slower passenger jet's due to the use of vortex lift
  • Her four Rolls Royce engines make more than 38,000 lbs of thrust EACH (with after burner)
  • She is travelling at 250 MILES PER HOUR groundspeed before she even leaves the ground! That's over 400 kilometers per hour!!! Sure would give my Honda S2000 a run for it's money down the straight ;)
  • Travel time from London to New York is less than half that for a conventional passenger jet - combined with the time difference you land in New York before you left London.
  • Concorde has clocked up more supersonic flight hours than all the Air Forces in the world.
  • You can read all the current news surrounding this flight with this google news search: external link.

12:31 AM, 24 Oct 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Occam's Razor

As often, the correct answer is the simplest answer.

I was alreasy cursing OpenOffice, my affinity for beta versions, even an instance of aolserver that was chewing cpu for my inability to add an extra bullet point to my document.

The problem was, it turns out, that one of my disks was full. Deleting some ancient repositories in my CVS tree put it all back to rights.

I need one of those new 300 Gb hard drives!

Yes I know - this example isn't really a great example of Occam's Razor, but it made for a snappy title ;)

02:35 PM, 21 Oct 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Is this funny?

Am I missing something? Can someone explain why this website (titled Matrix XP), has any interest value at all?

DB from Tram Town says

I'm not sure that I fully understand this, but folks better read than me probably will.
but i'm not so sure...

11:50 AM, 20 Oct 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Irony, Pepsi, Steve Jobs, John Scully and iTunes

Those of you who lack the joy of a thorough knowledge of Apple Computer history will miss the irony in the advertising deal between Apple/iTunes and Pepsi (read more about the deal in this Mercury News link).

It is an incredibly shrewd plan, in my opionion, which should secure the windows installed base of iTunes, and thus boost iPod sales (which seem to be the very profitable main beneficiary to Apple of the iTunes online store - selling more than two a minute at last report).

Thank's to DB of Tram Town for the link. I must go dig up a good Apple biography to read again. DB (or Semi - I forget who's pseudonym is which) if you are reading, can I borrow one off you next time I'm in Melbourne?

11:45 AM, 20 Oct 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (1)

New site functionality: comments and ratings

You can now comment on and rate just about everything!

You will also notice a new "Recent comments" box to the left of this page. Clicking on the link will show you the object that was commented on and the comment itself.

11:24 AM, 20 Oct 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Handy Unix admin tips

This unixreview article has a couple of useful tips. Like "A method for finding the top 10 files (by size) on a file system" - always handy.

11:20 AM, 20 Oct 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Welcome to the new OpenACS Core Team

The OpenACS Core Team (or OCT for short) elections completed last week, and the worthy elected members took effect as of today.

Congratulations to all the electees! The election results can be viewed at this link.

OpenACS is a democratically managed open source project, and the OCT is elected to make key decisions pertaining to the direction and management of the product. More information on OpenACS (a version of which is used to run this site) can be found on the openacs.org website.

10:49 AM, 20 Oct 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

New site functionality: News Feeds

I've been meaning to add this for a while, and it's not finished yet, but here it is anyway.

You will notice there is now a News tab at the top of this page. Based on the OpenACS news-aggregator package by Simon Carstensen (now of Collaboraid). The changes (apart from cosmetic ones) are mostly to make a public set of feeds available to all site readers (the standard news-aggregator package is designed to let all users maintain their own set of news feeds, this functionality may come to mark.aufflick.com one day...).

Feel free to let me know if there are any news feeds you would like me to add :)

05:10 AM, 20 Oct 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (1)

Microsoft puts Longhorn on the moon

or something like that. Actually, Bill said

developing its next generation of Windows operating system software will cost as much as it cost the United States government to put a man on the Moon (not an actual quote)
as pointed out in an Inquirer.com article, there has been 35 years of inflation since then, so the dollars aren't really comparable. What stands out is that Bill somehow thinks that the two events are somehow comparable.

Yeah, because mankind has never produced a graphical computer operating system before...truly groundbreaking stuff that.

In other quoteable quotes from the same off the cuff interview, Bill answered a question about whether Linux featured in his dreams with

if Alex (the interviewer) meant did Linux comprise a threat, well at one time the Armies of OS/2 said they were coming (not a real quote)

08:33 PM, 15 Oct 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Maintaining Linux filesystems

Roderick W. Smith has continued his excellent series on NewsForge about maintaining linux file systems with an article about Recovering Linux files and filesystems.

The previous articles (such as Resizing and defragmenting Linux filesystems) are all available by clicking the "Last time" link at the start of the article.

08:09 PM, 15 Oct 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Microsoft turns the world around...

..the wrong way! Thanks to Rusty, we have another entry for the StupidBase:

Microsoft Knowledge Base Article Q131109

When you run Explorapedia and use the Exploratron to look at the Earth spinning, the Earth rotates in the wrong direction.

Exploratron - sounds like something the new governor of California might drive around in ;)

07:40 PM, 15 Oct 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

A long time between blogs

The last few logs have been increasingly far apart. Partly because of a deluge of client work, and partly because of the impending version 5.0 release of OpenACS (OpenACS people - don't forget to vote this week in the Core Team elections!).

But partly, because it's hard to pick out and summarise interesting stuff when there's just too much of it! From SCO vs. IBM to the Matrix being released in IMAX format to insane legislation being passed throughout the US... the world is busy!

So I must get back to work - time to write a to do list...

07:19 PM, 15 Oct 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

home is where the emacs hacks are

Now that I have upgraded my workstation, it is the painful time of finding and installing the usefull bits that make your workstation home.

First, I had to deal with the instability of sawfish under gnome-2. There appears to be a specific gnome-2 version of sawfish - but it is at version 0.0 and I couldn't get it to ./configure without errors. Too boot, it appears unmaintained... It turns out, however, that 1.3 works ok, and is easily compiles from source (although my favourite win3.1 theme still has minor problems with the transient window style :( ).

Next, my attention was drawn to emacs. GNU emacs of course. See this link for one view on the GNU Emacs vs. XEmacs holy wars. Note that I have no recollection about why I chose GNU Emacs over XEmacs - I think it just felt like "the right thing to do"! As opposed to why I chose Emacs after over a decade of using vi/vim - Emacs makes you more productive, period.

Anyway, back to the point, after copying and pasting some juicy bits from my backed up .emacs file (thank goodness), I remembered that the standard gnuserv/client wasn't up to chop, and that I had been using someone's re-package of the more advanced client/server functionality from XEmacs. In case anoyone (like me) ever needs reminding, Melynda McDonald & Martin Schwenke have some very fine emacs hacks on their website.

That should keep me happy for today (I have real work to do...), but I am still searching for a replacement window-list widget to replace the lame gnome-2 one (as per my previous rant).

01:55 AM, 09 Oct 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (5)

A PDA to replace my Newton?

It seems that my Apple Newton 2000 finally has a potential successor. Although I have recently become quite fond of the handwriting recognition of my Newton, grafiti 2.0 is still my favourite input method.

Don't be so shocked! One of Jeff Hawkins' masterstrokes in developing the original palm pilot was that everything was well road tested. His famous block of wood (i tried very hard to find a picture of the block for you - if anyone has one - please post a comment!) proved the physical form factor, and graffiti as a popular input method was poven by the runaway success of the graffiti for newton commercial software package (it probably also made a tidy sum of money to boot). It was subsequently included in the Apple Newton Enhancement package, and I'm sure Apple paid a pretty penny for that.

Sadly, it seems Graffiti is on it's way out. This business week article gives us some interesting facts: New PalmOne devices already use Graffiti 2 (which isn't really Graffiti due to a wierd lawsuit from Xerox). And all new Handspring devices will use keyboards because they are more popular than graffiti driven devices. With who? An ancient breed of monkeys with 2.5mm diamater fingers?

Anyway, back on topic - the PalmOne Tungsten-3 is one sexy pda. the screen is getting bigger (a Newton-replacement requirement) and can be rotated into landscape (another requirement). Of course all the fixed external keyboards won't play with landscape mode - but there is always the external Newton keyboard with adapter ;) (assuming you can still get serial cables for Palm's)

It also has bluetooth built in, so forget about cables to sync with your PowerBook or dial-up with your mobile - now you can irradiate intimate parts of your body while your pda and mobile happily chat to each other via Gigahertz band wireless...

08:02 PM, 02 Oct 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (3)

An upgrade, at last!

Well, I have finally upgraded my IntelSGI workstation. I first installed RedHat 9, which would have been a breeze if I hadn't been to stingy to download the third cdrom .iso image ... it took me about 8 attempts to build a package selection that didn't need disk 3...

Then I cross-graded to Ximian Desktop 2, which was almost a breeze with their cute

wget -q -O - http://go.ximian.com |sh
install - except there was one package conflict that meant i had to manually un-install a whole bunch of ximian packages (plus the single offending RedHat gsf package - ignoring dependancies) before I installed again. xargs to the rescue! That would have been easy if i hadn't decided to reboot in between ... since a few choice packages were missing I had to force init down to run-level 3 and use twm - blech (no Rusty - twm is NOT the best window manager ever designed. olvwm is! ;)

So all is well! I didn't like metacity much, so I have switched to sawfish (the gnome 1 default window manager), but unfortunately the win3.1 theme that i fell in love with doesn't work properly with current versions of sawfish :( and the sawfish-ui preferences app is a bit broken. I guess I will have to compile it myself as I suspect the redhat sawfish rpm doesn't quite understand the Ximian installaion of gnome.

All in all I am now a happy camper. Oh, except the gnome 2 window list applet blows... and despite Havoc's insistance that it does everything you need, try puting it in a vertical toolbar - yuk.

And if you are still reading, I am truly sorry for boring you to tears with my computer shenanigens! (Ok, so that was just a good excuse to use the word shenanigens!)

06:17 AM, 02 Oct 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

There's something wireless in the state of Denmark

Not that this is a new idea at all, but it's good to see more of it - and it's in Denmark, where the pastries are so good it's hard not to want to write about it. Oh, and the people are pretty cool too! (Hi Lars, Peter and Maria :)

But the link itself: Denmark Gets Wi-Fi " tells us that a compnay called RedSpot has started targeting non-DSL areas with WiFi, starting in Aarhus (I can hear the automated train announcement already...).

RedSpot reckon they need 20 subscribers to set up an area - I wonder if they actually make a profit at those numbers. One suspects not, unless they do something funky like setting up the base station at one of the subscribers houses, or they have a very good deal with the power pole company...

Update: Speaking of Denmark, I'm pretty excited about a forthcoming venture: Skrifter - The best of Denmark for your Home & Family. More news as it comes to hand :)

05:56 AM, 02 Oct 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

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