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Global satellite images []

Now this is cool. You can check out interesting and recent satellite images form all around the globe. You can pretend you are in the CIA and still be home in time for dinner!

07:43 PM, 30 Dec 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Star Wars Humour

I was clearing away some old email folders, and came across this Star Wars gag from an email I recieved in 1999. I laughed my pants off at the time. Then I found it again 7 months later and remember laughing so loud in the BCG Auckland office that people came to check if I was OK! So for posterity and your enjoyment, I present to you:


1. A tremor in the pants. The last time I felt this was in the presence of my old master.

2. You are unwise to lower your pants.

3. We've got to be able to get some reading on those pants, up or down.

4. She must have hidden the plans in her pants. Send a detachment down to retrieve them. See to it personally Commander.

5. These pants may not look like much, kid, but they've got it where it counts.

6. I find your lack of pants disturbing.

7. These pants contain the ultimate power in the universe. I suggest we use it.

8. Han will have those pants down. We've got to give him more time!

9. General Veers, prepare your pants for a surface assault.

10. I used to bulls-eye womp-rats in my pants back home.

11. TK-421. . . Why aren't you in your pants?

12. Lock the door. And hope they don't have pants.

13. Governor Tarkin. I should've recognised your foul pants when I was brought on board.

14. You look strong enough to pull the pants off of a Gundark.

15. Luke . . . Help me take . . . these pants off.

16. Great, Chewie, great. Always thinking with your pants.

17. That blast came from those pants. That thing's operational!

18. Don't worry. Chewie and I have gotten into a lot of pants more heavily guarded than this.

19. Maybe you'd like it back in your pants, your highness.

20. Your pants betray you. Yours feelings for them are strong. Especially one. Your sister!

21. Jabba doesn't have time for smugglers who drop their pants at the first sign of an Imperial Cruiser.

22. Yeah, well short pants is better than no pants at all, Chewie.

23. Attention. This is Lando Calrissean. The Empire has taken control of my pants, I advise everyone to leave before more troops arrive.

24. I cannot teach him. The boy has no pants.

25. You came in those pants? You're braver than I thought.

10:05 PM, 22 Dec 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

A new BeOS, and a new OS model

Here is another group of BeOS fans working on a project that has made significant progress. BlueEyedOS attempts to provide all the BeOS api and user experience goodness on a base of the Linux kernal and the XFree86 graphics api.

I will watch this with great interest - there is a bootable demo CD that you can download which I will try. Apparently ex-Be developers should be able to do a fairly simple recompile of their code, which could mean lots of nice multimedia apps very soon :)

Also note that you may see references to a proprietory License - but the project has infact just switched over to the LGPL in order to attract more developers.

Although I like the sound of the linux kernal approach, OpenBeOS is actually showing quite a lot of progress, with nearly all of the major code segments in beta or late alpha...

08:16 PM, 22 Dec 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Microsoft boning up on Linux

As reported by NewsForge, a Microsoft department is running some surveys on Linux users. There is one for home users and another for business users.

These surveys have been so publicised in the Linux press that I imagine the results will be next to useless, but I went and filled it in anyway.

The Linux press is making a big deal about how the results of the survey won't be published. I don't really see that as an issue - it's a voluntary commercial survey - they can do as they darn well please with the results.

I did fill in the survey (it's kinda long and annoying - I usually avoid surveys like the plague - especially phone ones that will "only take 5 minutes of your time", I always transferred them to Tim ;)

There are some silly multiple choice options in the survey, possibly there to filter out stupid respondants, like:

What organizations would you recommend use Linux?
   Organizations that want to send a message to the greedy computer industry

The highlight of my responses is my answer to the freeform question:

List the top one or two possible improvements that you would like to see made to Windows Server.
   * more standards compliance
   * less kb articles giving a solution as "this is by design"

Feel free to comment with your responses.

05:53 PM, 22 Dec 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

You call that a hard drive? THIS is a hard drive...

Or have I got my sizes the wrong way round? Take a look at the worlds smallest shipping hard drive. I guess we can forget about flash media cards now.

07:45 PM, 21 Dec 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Mac Eye for the Windows Guy []

Five Mac Men, out to change the world one Windows guy at a time.

07:43 PM, 21 Dec 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

GNU-Info Bad, Man(1) Good []

I abso-tootin-lutely agree with this advogato entry It has perplexed me for years that people are so desperate to replace man with GNU-info. Man is completely useful for it's purpose, and info is so confusing I would rather search for a web page.

I mean, I use emacs for goodness sake, I'm not averse to confusing interfaces with oodles of key combinations to remember ... when it delivers positive benefits. info may have some nice features, but for the purpose of concise software manuals, it offers me none. Ever tried to print a manual in info and have it look nice?

man in a shell is great - it's piped through less so I can search it, scroll back and forth etc.

xman sucks - a good X man browser that let you search within the man page and jump to headings or click on references would make it really useful.

I love change. I hate change for the sake of using the politically correct (read GNU) tool.

06:16 PM, 18 Dec 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

The ultimate nerd

Amit Singh has to be the ultimate nerd. Ok, so I a a lttle jealous of his accomplishments... His website lists the following accomplishments:

06:03 PM, 17 Dec 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

the lesser of two evils

VMWare has just been bought by SMC - a large monolithic company that has bought up three IT companis in the past five months, but seemingly one without evil intent - as opposed to Microsoft ;)

VMWare was in talks with Microsoft about a potential takeover earlier this year, but an agreement was never reached. Just as well too - VMWare is probably the best server virtualisation product in town, and is very good at running quantities of Linux, BSD and Windows servers on big servers.

I know there are pro-Microsoft or even Microsoft-neutral people reading this thinking "wow - he's a raving open-source/Mac person", well, just take a look at what has happened to Connectix VirtualPC since Microsoft bought it. VirtualPC is a similar virtualisation product to VMWare but is known best as the software that lets you run Windows on a Mac.

Guess what client operating systems the new version released by MS supports? Linux? Nope. Solaris x86? Nope. FreeBSD? Nope. OpenBSD? Nope. BeOS? Nope. QNX? Nope. Windows? Why of course ;>

07:12 AM, 17 Dec 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (2)

modem madness

Thank goodness my Telstra cable is back up and running - it's been down 5 days and I don't think I could take any more modem access.

I'm not looking forward to the bill either - if I knew it would be so long I probably wouldn't have used my Compuserve global dialup roaming account...

06:26 AM, 17 Dec 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Big Mouth Billy Bass hacking

At last a practical use for embedded linux, turning Big Mouth Billy Bass into a interactive conferencing peripheral! Making him talk like Homer Simpson or Bill Clinton is a good start...

For those unfamiliar with Big Mouth Billy Bass, it's a cheap animatronics toy fish mounted on a trophy plate that wiggles it's tail and sings (with lip sync).

The goal of the Big Mouth Billy Bass hacking project"is to use any Linux device--desktop or embedded--to make the Big Mouth Billy Bass say or act any way you want! That's right, we want to convert Big Mouth Billy to the least expensive peripheral you'll ever buy."

The original project proposal contains somewhat loftier goals:

By adding this functionality to the bass, in addition to networking protocols, the bass will be transformed into an H.323 compliant video teleconferencing host. It will be possible to use Microsoft NetMeeting or CUSeeMe to connect to your bass at home and talk with your loved one ones!

09:10 PM, 16 Dec 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)


Hardly full of amazing information, but it's always fun to read about someone's experiences with A/UX - Apple's other Unix.

The site also has nice info and pictures of cute Mac history. I always wanted an Outbound when I was a kiddie: Macintosh set your mind free. Now, set your Macintosh free. Lightweight. Powerful. Affordable. Don't settle for deskbound when you can be... Outbound.

06:36 AM, 11 Dec 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Sony History

Thanks to Tram Town, I have enjoyed reading this official Sony history. Highlight chapters include Not Quite Suitable for the Home - the U-matic VTR :)

Tram Town pointed out that the official Sony history omits some interesting failures such as the Elcaset.

This led me on an interesting (but time wasting) internet trawl for discarded audio recording technologies. Of course everyone's favourite is the 8 track cartridge :) I would love to get my hands on one of these 8 track players.

Some of the 8 track fanatics are a bit crazy, I mean "accordianed tape can be carefully ironed straight with a not-very-hot iron, when the tape is protected on both sides by cloth or paper." ?! Hmm, except I can actually imagine myself doing that...

05:59 PM, 09 Dec 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Frozen Bubble []

Man, if my boss wasn't me, I would lose my job playing this game in business hours!

It's open source, and it's as addictive as I remember Tetris being when it first came out. It's actually a very similar concept - kind of like tetris upside down with discs that have gravity fields.

RedHat users will find pain free installation RPM files at this site:

The main site downloads page includes versions for Windows and MacOS X, but I haven't tried them yet...

10:59 PM, 04 Dec 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (2)

Successful reverse psychology spam

I got an email in my inbox. It was from someone I have never heard of. It's message title was:

Can you resist not opening this e-mail

As simple as that. I looked at it for about 10 seconds... and then opened it. It was, of course, spam. But I had to be sure.

Damn reverse psychology.

05:20 AM, 04 Dec 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

What Bill Gates says about security journalist Lynn Greiner has written a piece commenting on what Bill Gates and other Microsoft staffers had to say about the security of their software at the recent Microsoft Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles.

She didn't have to do much other than quote Bill to make an interesting article, so that's what I'm going to do!

Bill: You don't need perfect code to avoid security problems ... there are two other techniques: one is called firewalling, and the other is called keeping the software up to date.

I can just imagine Dr. Evil or Homer Simpson making quote marks with their fingers like an advertising exec while saying "firewalling". Who does he think we are? True a lot of networks are embarrasingly lacking in protection, but to use a condescending phrase like "one is called firewalling" is just plain rude.

My other favourite quote is this next one - I think I understand what he is saying, but you can never be too sure...

Bill: Actually, all the forms of Unix (as well as Linux) have had more vulnerabilities per line of code. They don't propagate as much because they're not as dense as our system is, so the things that prevent the propagation are particularly important for our world.

So is he saying that Windows is bloated and has way too many lines of code? Is he under the misapprehension that installing a Windows operating system turns the users PC into a small collapsed star? Or is he just saying that Windows is plain stupid? If Unix has less lines of code and, undeniably, similar levels of functionality, then it's code is actually more dense...

To be fair, the people employed by Microsoft because they actually know what they are talking about when it comes to security distanced themselves from Bill's "You don't need perfect code to avoid security problems" stance, with sensible stuff like:

Software should be secure by design, secure by default, and secure in deployment. ... There are two major kinds of security defects, Input trust issues, and everything else.

As Lynn suggested, I think Bill probably earned himself a few words from his security business unit. One comment on the article said "Stop Pointing Fingers at the User and Competitor". Yeah. It makes holes in the air and the Angels fall out.

05:07 AM, 04 Dec 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

tcl 8.4 goodness

I learnt about some new exciting syntax in tcl 8.4 today - for example you can now correctly compare strings with { "foo" eq "bar" } - saves typing string_equal_p in all my openacs code :)

Of course to get tcl 8.4 I will need to upgrade to AolServer 4.0 :( but then I will get package support as well :)

08:58 AM, 03 Dec 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Misfortune is funny ... if it's someone else

This made me laugh!

01:53 AM, 03 Dec 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Comments aplenty

I noticed that the 5th highest exit page of my site is the registration page, and I surmise that people want to leave a comment, but couldn't be arsed registering.

So to assist the lazy and paranoid, you can now comment anonymously! Note that you can only edit your prior comments if you created them as a logged in user - you also still need to register to post to the forums.

In addition, I have also enabled commenting on book reviews, so comment away :)

12:16 PM, 01 Dec 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (1)

Newton Mania []

This was cool back when Newtons were cool. Now it is dedication beyond the call of duty!

This link ( is served to you by an Apple Newton 2100. You may need to reload it once or twice to make it work.

If you don't know what a Newton is or why this is cool, then I won't try to explain, or it will make your head hurt.

Ok so I'll try ;) Imagine a palm pilot, but designed many years before - with natural handwriting recognition that is only now being equalled in some handheld devices (most, like current PalmOS devices, are getting worse...). Then imagine running a public webserver on it.

If you still don't see why that is cool, then you are truly not a geek (but then you're probably quite glad about that).

Note that:

He currently works on projects involving kernel hacking and low-level cross-debugging. When the stupid debugger doesn't crash, he often needs to stop the server to use the two PC-Card slots.
so if it doesn't work at first - try again tomorrow ;)

Reminds me of the potato powered webserver. Yes the much publicised one was a hoax - but this one appeared to be the real deal. Unfortunately it is now offline after the owner had had it with rotting potatos!

09:26 AM, 01 Dec 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

The JFK conspiracy is a conspiracy! []

Wow! I have read parts of the Mitrokhin Archive, but I must have missed this gem of information!

It turns out that the publisher of the book "Oswald: Assassin or Fall Guy?" (one of the earliest starting points of the JFK conspiracies in 1964) received subsidies totalling $672,000 from the Central Committee of the Communist Party in the early 1960s!!! This and other information nuggets are held in the Washington Post article linked above (You need to complete a quick survey to view the article for free).

Thanks to Phil's Blog for the pointer.

Conspiracies sell!! The advertiser link at the bottom of the linked Washington Post article (debunking the conspiracy theories) is a JFK Conspiracy book, promising "Startling revelations from MD who tried to save JFK" for just $16.99! available, of course, on!

01:15 AM, 01 Dec 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Feedback in the online generation

If you have any titles published and available to buy from - take a look at what people are recommending as companion titles. You might be surprised.

I'm sure Michael Jackson's lawyers won't be too happy seeing these top ten customer recommendations listed against the new Michael Jackson best of CD (which I will buy, since I love his music).

I must say, I am quite surprised there is a book with the title "The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things" on the shelf!!

Thanks to Phil's Blog for the link.

12:05 AM, 01 Dec 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)


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