Ephemerides

A Daily Diatribe by a Pompous Git

Who is that fat bastard? A Sturm's Eye View, Guaranteed Free of Harmful, or Potentially Harmful Chemicals -- but Watch Out for the Ideas! Some of them are Contagious! 

A journal of sorts to record Jonathan Sturm's (and others') thoughts and observations on things worth thinking about. Feedback welcome, but be aware that unless you prominently say you want your communication kept private, I may publish it.

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Monday 4 March 2002

You might find the following websites "interesting". 

HTML exploits here:

http://www.liquidwd.freeserve.co.uk

and explained here:

http://security.greymagic.com/adv/gm001-ie/

The exploits worked on some friends' machines, even behind corporate, industrial-strength firewalls. The Pompous Git had no problems. I am running IE 5.0 without the Win2k post SP2 security rollup, but I do have security settings at maximum and to ignore font size settings.

A couple of hints when setting up WinNT/Win2k. Do not install to drive C: A badly written exploit will assume that your system files reside there. After installation, change the name of the Administrator account. This gives a hacker two things to guess, not just the password. L0pht apparently can't guess a password containing Alt-0254 by the way.

-oOo-

Today's tasks include fixing the leak in the roof that has returned and finishing the bookcase I started to construct yesterday. At 2.4 metres wide by 2.1 metres high, it will hold most of our book collection. The lowest shelf will hold my collection of vinyl records. The temporary office/guest bedroom will have a temporary bookshelf for the computer and reference texts I use for writing. Hopefully, there will be sufficient book space that I will no longer lose books I want to reread after SWMBO's annual purges.

Thought for the day:

Reading is a basic tool in the living of a good life.

Mortimer J. Adler

Current Listening

Kevin Ayers -- Shooting at the Moon


Top

Tuesday 5 March 2002

From Bill Grigg:

Trade Mark infringement is a pretty weird subject. How a colour can be trade marked is beyond my comprehension. Sadly Austin Nichols will have lots of precedence on their side so look for a new label soon. Bush Turkey isn't all that much different than Wild Turkey, similar enought that (IMHO) a judge will rule on behalf of Austin Nichols. I've been third party to a couple of cases, in both examples restaurants.

One was owned by a guy named Chevy, naturally General Motors had to sue him for naming his diner after himself (Chevy's Diner). He had themed it after the fifty's (waitresses on skates) and promoted the classic 55, 56 & 57 Chevrolet Bel Air Sedan. Big mistake, now it's called the 50's Diner and shows Ford, Dodge, Nash, Rambler, in fact anything but a Chevy. But nobody wants to go to a restaurant called the 50's, so business is down.

The other was named Deniro's after Robert deNiro the actor, and featured scenes from his movies. The woman who owns it had to change the name (now it's call On Stage) and no longer mentions Robert, who in all likelihood never even heard of it. Reminds me of Dennis Miller's tale of how nothing is worse than an actor in a restaurant being recognized by everybody, with the exception of being in a restaurant NOT being recognized by anybody.

On the gripping hand, Paul Simon was once about to be sued by Kodak for using the trade mark Kodachrome as a song title. Clear cut case of using a product name without permission, you could hear the lawyers chortling with glee. Some bright eye in marketing noticed that sales of Kodachrome were up in areas where the song was a hit and managed to head off the suit, and Kodachrome became a household name overnight. Nikon apparently realized that free positive publicity was worth more than gold and kept quiet and history was made.

Cheers,

Bill Grigg

 

Australian bush turkey           American turkey

Of course it can be pretty hard to tell the difference between an Australian bush turkey [left] and an American turkey [right]. Beak at one end, tail at the other, feathers! Mind you, Thanksgiving wouldn't quite be the same with our bird on the table ;-)

-oOo-

I recently was invited to join the Aussie Blogs webring and put the HTML code in my redirector page that gets most of my readers here. When checking the code with W3C, I discovered that the Aussie Blogs HTML does not comply with HTML 4.0. So, I wrote to the ringmaster. His reply:

None of the codes are HTML4.0 compliant, unless an
individual HTML code was specifically customized to
be. We can't possibly ensure compliance with every little validator out there. If compliance on your Index page is THAT vital, then use a different page as your entry/ring page.

One wonders what the point of having a standard is.

-oOo-

Apropos the HTML exploit I mentioned yesterday, it only works on IE 5.5 and above, so my decision to stick with 5.0 appears sound. Another method of foiling badly written exploits is to install the OS to some other directory than WINDOWS or WINNT. Be warned, this works for most applications, but may cause problems with some. Renaming your command processor to something other than command.com or cmd.exe will also help. Remember though that Win2k will attempt to foil this so be sure to rename the backup copy in DLLCACHE.

-oOo-

My son Thomas attends a college that uses a fairly mediocre computer bulleting board system. When he offered to finish off the PHP-based BBS he has worked at for the last nine months for their use, they accepted. For the last three weeks, he put every spare moment into finishing the administration console, the final stage. Today the system administrator emailed him to say they will not take up his offer because they believe he will have put in a backdoor that would enable him to compromise the colleges network! Needless to say, he feels bitterly disappointed, especially since he has reported security holes in their system on several occasions over the last year.

Thought for the day:

Trust men and they will be true to you; treat them greatly and they will show themselves great.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Current Listening

Faust -- IV


Top

Wednesday 6 March 2002

Fran came by this morning and we managed to fritter away a couple of hours walking around my property. The water in the dam is much clearer than in the spring, most of the murkiness being due to organic matter. We propose to grow some aquatic plants to take up the nutrients and also introduce some fish. Eventually, we also want to turn the southernmost four acres into a recreational area and build a floating jetty at the edge of the dam. In some ways this would have made a better house site, but the cost of the much longer driveway mitigated against it. Also, we would have needed to pump water from the dam, rather than rely on gravity. There are many large rocks covered with beautiful lichens and mosses, so we could have made a prettier garden. I suppose I could borrow a tractor and trailer to move them, but they are very heavy.

In the afternoon, I cut the grass around the house and orchard before some light showers arrived. The ground has become very dry and if enough rain doesn't arrive, I will need to irrigate the gardens.

Yesterday, while finishing the woodshed, a pot of rancid fat fell on my head. SWMBO had put it on the roof of the shed "for the birds to eat -- where the dog couldn't get it". Needless to say, I was not amused.

Thought for the day:

You are never given a dream without also being given the power to make it true. You may have to work for it, however.

Richard Bach

Current Listening

Ash Ra Temple -- Rosie


Top

Thursday 7 March 2002

My ISP, DingoBlue, announced today that they cease doing business in the near future. I asked a colleague for the name of a reliable ISP. His reply: "no such thing!"

Thought for the day:

Nothing ends nicely, that's why it ends.

Tom Cruise

Current Listening

Shake Sugaree -- Huon Delta Blues


Top

Friday 8 March 2002

Don Armstrong writes:

Well, insofar as it is possible at all ....

Telstra BigPond is what I use. It works, they have a number (1900? 1800?) which is a local call fee Australia-wide, and I can go to about 150MB per month before I get hit up for excess charges.

I also use TPG. They don't do the no-toll or low-toll number, but they have about (I think) 400 points-of-presence Australia-wide. They've taken a lot of the business from the Commonwealth "Networking the Nation" money that's been flying around, so the numbers are expanding all the time - there's some chance that there's a local-call connection from where you are. I use a service they call Nightrider, which basically is available from 1am to 8am for NO CHARGE. No email, no download limits, but only two hours per connection. I'm in Bathurst, where they do have one of what they call their access points (in the computer room where I work, as it happens), so it works for me. When I visit the family farm, that's near Grenfell, where they've picked up the local Shire's "networking the nation" business, so it still works. From 1am isn't terribly attractive, but if one is up early then to 8am can be useful.

However, Telstra is available local-call-charge throughout Australia. Twenty-odd dollars a month does add up, but let's face it, that's only about five dollars a week (plus local call charges per connection). Of course, I tend to burn a little when connections drop out, but lets face it - that really would happen occasionally anyway.

Oh yes - the real reason that brought me down on the side of Telstra - I get the charges added to my telephone bill. that means I CONTROL WHEN TO PAY WHAT. No debit authorisations, no automatic deductions of whatever they've decided it is this month from my credit card - they invoice me, then I pay (or have the capability to not do so if something outrageous has happened). Anyway, I don't have to give someone else the authority to suck whatever they want to out of my bank account. Remember those people who were getting monthly authorised debits sucked out of their bank accounts long after OneTel had gone belly up?

Best wishes, Don Armstrong

I have used Telstra's BigPond 150 and it's nice and fast. BUT their mail servers leave a lot to be desired as far as reliability. Also, when you are used to 24/7 and DL around 500-1000 MB/mth they do not offer enough. 

-oOo-

My sister arrives from interstate for the weekend with her (relatively) new boyfriend and his daughter. I suspect that means little time for updating these pages, but you never know.

Thought for the day:

An advantage of poverty, your relatives gain nothing by your death.

Hebrew Proverb

Current Listening

Tom Rapp -- The Use of Ashes


Top

Saturday 9 March 2002

I spent a significant portion of the day moving our books from the cottage over to The House of Steel. Over the years, SMBO initiated many purges of the collection, so the number was smaller than one might think. Still, they fully occupied the rear of our Subaru Liberty wagon (Legacy in some parts of the world). It struck me how few authors enthused me sufficiently to keep more than one of their books. All of Frank Herbert's Dune series, John and Mary Gribbin's writings on science, Richard Feynman's physics lectures, Stephen Jay Gould's collected essays on evolution, Tolkien's works, John Seymour's writings on "The Good Life", Charles Dickens' and Thomas Hardy's novels...

Many books disappeared over the years, the worst loss occurring in 1970 when I first arrived in Tasmania. My then girlfriend suggested I store my collection in her father's basement. He, as a good Jehovah's witness, burned them all since all one needs to know is in the Bible. Many of them I purchased second hand from white elephant stalls as a boy in UKland. Receipts for the Amateur Scientist by Spon, The Complete Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Complete Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Trollope's Barchester Chronicles... mostly works of the 19th Century, bound in heavy covers and printed on real paper, not wood-pulp. I miss the smell of those books, not just the words on the pages.

Thought for the day:

People seldom do what they believe in. They do what is convenient, then repent.

Bob Dylan

Current Listening

Jimmy Little -- In a Field in France (to be released on 25 April)


Top

Sunday 10 March 2002

We spent the day visiting the rainforest in south-west Tasmania. The spot we usually used to find ourselves alone, or almost so on a busy day, has become a tourist magnet. The Forestry Commission built an air-walk through the tree canopy and it provided considerable entertainment for an hour or so. To avoid the madding crowd, we returned to the nearby village of Geeveston for a barbecue lunch in the deserted park adjacent the shopping centre.

I missed the quiet solitude of a walk in the forest, though I enjoyed the novelty of walking in the treetops. I enjoyed embracing my friend Robbie who looks after the retail area of the new visitor centre. I hadn't seen her for several years. The changes mean many dollars coming into an impoverished district and that can only be a Good Thing. But I felt strangely dislocated seeing food sold in the same stone building where we used to barbecue food we brought with us.

Thought for the day:

Change means movement. Movement means friction. Only in the frictionless vacuum of a nonexistent abstract world can movement or change occur without that abrasive friction of conflict.

Saul Alinsky

Current Listening

Paul Simon -- Songs from the Capeman


 

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Jonathan Sturm 2002

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Jonathan Sturm 2002