MIT Blogging Survey

I just finished the MIT blogging survey… can’t rember how I got the link… It was probably from Jo’Blog or one of the DotNet.Org.Za blogs….

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

General Internet/Links

Discount PDA/SmartPhone games…

I read a news article on which said that PDAMill are giving 35% discount on three of their games (and if you buy one of them you get 30% discount on some of their other games)… Unfortunately there are only 2 smartphone games available on discount, the 3rd game requires a pocket pc (like the iMate JAM) But its super cool to get the games at a discount.

Most people who got an iMate phone from MTN will have a whole bunch of their games on their phones already…


“WBS[/iBurst] cuts off mail users”

After my blog about this previously I was a bit peeved at WBS’s lack of response.  I assumed it would have some negative consequences that I wasn’t aware of, and I guessed at some of them.  One of which was that their mail server would die (which it did for a while on monday), anther was that SenderID/SPF based spam detection would be kinda messed up by this sudden change on their behalf, and the final thought was that it was definately not a standard solution by ISP’s.

Today I read an article on IT Web entitled “WBS cuts off mail users” which basically confirmed all three of my concerns.  I really like the iBurst service, but I’m also getting more and more annoyed with how WBS is treating its customers.  From what the IT Web article hints at, I could have legal grounds to cancel my contract with them because they’re no longer providing the service I signed up for because they’re blocking ports (and causing my mail to be more likely to be classified as spam).

I’ve written a slightly frustrated e-mail to FusionReactor who sold me my iBurst modem and connection, and I’ll write an updated blog when I hear any more news.  I’d hate to leave WBS/iBurst but I’m very unhappy with the way things seem to be going.  I think if WBS just had some slightly more clued up technical guys they would be able to implement the same solution that all the other ISP’s in SA (and I’m guessing worldwide) have implemented to resolve the problems of having critical IP’s blacklisted by anti-spam organisations.

General Humour

Google Wierdo’s

So this mornign I listened to a Monday’s episode from a few weeks ago where Rory Blythe did a “Google Wierdo’s” segment… its basically a look at what weird, wonderful and disturbing search phrases people entered in their search engine that lead them to his site.

I took a look at my logs for this month and I have some oddballs here – it seems that this month there were a lot of depressed people coming to my site (well, it could be one of the other blogs on the site) anyway here they are:

“days till i die”
“die for my sister poem”
“small blisters on the arm”
Ok, I can manage to ignore the first two but for this one… Go see a doctor dude! 

“sainsbury posters”
“leadership style in sainsbury”

First thought “WOW, someone wants posters of *my* family?”  Second thought “I’m getting the idea that they’re not talking about my family, maybe its that UK food store.”

Too much info
“manhood poem”
“python sick and tired”
“pee buzzer distraction”
Hrm… I’m not sure if my site is the best resource for low self esteem, erectile dysfunction, or urinary problems… but I sure hope those guys get the problems solved.

From the Geeks
“what makes a good star trek story”
We all want to know the answer to how to make stories with star trek like intrigue – personally I like the “infinite number of monkeys with an infinite number of typewriters“ theory.
“coffee drinking stats”
Wow – was there a coffee census I missed out on?  Damn, I knew I shouldn’t have switched to decaf!
“just being a geek”
How silly is that – if you have to google to find out how to be a geek, you’re already waaaaay past any hope of being one…
“group by having sql code gender”
This one’s a bit silly because I’ve never heard of any SQL code having genders… although that could explain why our server gets so moody at times.  I’ll have to go check to see if its cyclical.
“beep dong or ding visual basic”
I’m sure there are plenty of C# coders out there who would share the same sentiments!  @#$*&% visual basic!

Who woulda guessed
“email petitions blog maths“
Wow… someone actually looked for that stuff… I wrote a rant about how useless e-mail petitions really were and gave some stats behind them to “prove“ my point… I never thought anyone else in the world would try googling for them…
“sadeveloper t-shirt photo”
Ok, so which of you SA Developers is trying to get a sneak peak at the latest in fashion?  Or are we really such an innovative and leading group of people that there are other’s out there who just want to look like us?


More bad Customer Relations…

When you get an e-mail from someone that has as part of its title “Final Notification”, do you expect to have at least had one previous notification?  Calling something a “Final Notification” when its the first notification isn’t inaccurate or technically incorrect… It could both the first and last time they’re telling you.  But in my mind the branding “Final Notification” is usually reserved for use as a last resort after warning people a few times has failed.  It commands some level of urgency, and a bit of a “You’ve been naughty. You haven’t done what we asked and now you’ll be in trouble if you don’t listen to us” type tone.

So today I got an e-mail from my “favourite” customer service department (the one at iBurst)  which told me that “Due to excessive incidents of spamming on the iBurst network and the corresponding risk of being blacklisted by the various anti-spam organisations, we will be implementing certain preventative measures on our network.”  Now I got the mail at 1:18pm on Friday the 24th of June… Their e-mail also states that these measures will be implemented on Monday 27 June 2005.  They then go into a whole bunch of technical talk about how “All subscribers will only be permitted to relay outgoing mail through our authorised relay server”.  Now to the average user that would be greek – I can hear them thinking “I’m not relaying mail, I’m sending it”.  From what I understand from their e-mail, they’re bascially going to block all port 25 traffic unless its going to their smtp server.

Now I fully understand that there are probably a bunch of people on their network who’s PC’s are spam zombies and are sending out spam at massive rates.  Heck even my poor PC fell prey to that when I first connected with them, and I had a firewall and an antivirus product running on my pc, and my PC was pretty up to date with patches, and I ran at least 2 anti-spyware programs to keep my pc clean.  (I have some theories as to how my pc got infected… but I can’t verify any of them)

Anyway, back to the point… while I understand the problem that they face, I don’t really like how they’ve chosen to sort it out.  Basically their entire customer base now has 2.5 days (two of which are over a weekend) to sort out their mail settings.  Luckily my company uses its IS line to send its mail, and uses its iBurst connection for web surfing.  So our “techies” won’t have to be here on the weekend making changes to their settings… but I do know that they were hoping/dreaming about the possibility of moving away from the IS line entirely and using only iBurst for our whole company.  I guess this “lets treat our customers like mindless slaves” type incident won’t help their dreams.

I don’t mind changing my mail settings to use but I really liked using my own mail server to send my mails – at least I’m in control of my server unlike wbs’s.  But I DO mind being given a deadline 2.5 days away without any previous warning.  Any half decent company plans ahead, and actually understands that these things might take time for some people to understand.  What if I was on holiday – I could have taken a long weekend, and I’d never have seen their mail until it was too late.  What if our company’s mails were sent out via our iBurst and they didn’t send their mails via  Since WBS sent the e-mail to the customer’s one email address, the “techie” who gets those mails could have been away this weekend, and on monday our e-mail service would have died, and we could lose business. I’m sure we wouldn’t, but it could happen… But WBS seem to be unable to think about what the consequences of their decisions will be.  I’m not sure about you, but I was taught as a kid that my actions have consequences both for me and for others.  I know that not all businesses seem to be aware of that life lesson, but I was kinda hoping that in general we’d moved beyond that phase in business.

I half expect that on monday their mail server will fall over, nobody will be able to send mails, and their help desk will still be asking “Are you sure you have the right MTU settings?”.  It frustrates me to even think about it.  So I’m going to go and call FusionReactor quickly to see if I can’t perhaps use their mail server instead of WBS’s – going by the quality of their tech support guys I’m sure we can arrange something – even if it is just reassuring me that nothing will go wrong.

Geek food General Internet/Links

Coolest keyboard…

I was just listening to Monday’s (a funny yet sometimes crude podcast done by the guys from and they were talking about Das Keyboard.  Its Uber cool – its like a normal keyboard but with no writing on it… so only uber-geeks can use it. πŸ™‚  Anyway, listen to Episode 22 (The Starwars Episode) and around 50 minutes into the show you’ll hear them talk about the keyboard.

PS: I was using my i-Mate and the memory stick I got from Leaf to listen to the show, its seriously better than listening to the radio during the 1.5hrs I spend in the car each day… Oh, and while I’m on the topic of radio shows, check out DotNetRocks – episode 110 (I think) has Kimberly Tripp talking about SQL Server 2005 – and for a chick, she’s darn clever. πŸ˜‰  Just kidding, but its kinda refreshing to hear a female geek speaking about tech stuff – there are so few of them out there!  Check out Episode 110 its cool.

General Humour Internet/Links

Awesome blonde joke

Just saw this and its gotta be one of the best blonde jokes ever.  Its the first time I’ve heard it and its aparently been around for ages (and has a long history).


GMail POP3 access

After my issues with my pc yesterday… still not sure how the inbox returned.  I had actually looked at the inbox files that Thunderbird uses and there was no sign of any of my e-mails in any of them yesterday.  So there’s no way that Symmantec’s antivirus program could have detected any virus in them today and hence tried to quarantine it… and its even more impossible that it could have somehow quarantined the OLD version of the inbox.  But anyway enough of that trauma.

Aubrey suggested in a comment to the blog that I should just use GMail for my spam filtering…  Its a cool idea, so I tried it out.  But there’s one problem.  On my work PC I have it setup so that it downloads the mail but doesn’t delete it, and then at home my PC downloads the mail and only deletes mails that are more than than 7 days old.  That way I’ll always have all my e-mails at both my work and my home.  The problem is this… GMail seems to  delete the mails as soon as you’ve downloaded them – well, it can keep a copy in your GMail account (or it can archive them or trash them).  But even though I have my GMail account setup to keep it in my inbox and my Thunderbird is setup to leave the mails on the server the messages still disappear from the gmail POP3 server.  So its a “read once” type system, which doesn’t work so well for me.  The one cool thing is that GMail really filters spam well.

So until I find a better solution, I have my e-mail accounts keeping one copy and forwarding another copy to a GMail account.  At work I collect mail directly from my mail server, and at home I collect the mail from GMail… At least this way I will have a permanent history of all my mails (on my GMail account), I’ll get my mails both at home and work and I’ll no longer be downloading the spam at both work and home (GMail will remove the spam before I download it at home).

I’ll keep trying to see if I can make GMail keep a copy on the POP3 side until my mail app asks it to remove it, and I’ll update this if I find any solutions.

Oh… I almost forgot to say that the POP3 access to GMail is pretty fast – I’ve had slower downloads off local mail servers.  So that’s pretty cool too.


Thunderbird lost my inbox

Yup… Thunderbird just “lost” my entire inbox.  I know that sometimes Symmantec Antivirus used to find a virus in my inbox and it would quarantine the entire inbox file and I would say “bye bye inbox” until I got Symmantec to un-quarantine the file – it hasn’t done that for ages though, it now scans the mails as I’m downloading them so it removes the virii before they even reach my mailbox.  But today my inbox went missing.  Symmantec’s logs say it did nothing to it, the event log on my PC says that nothing happened to it.  But my Inbox file is now 0bytes in size.

I use Thunderbird because of its cool bayesian junk mail filtering, but I think I’d rather deal with junk mail manually than run the risk of losing my entire inbox again.  (And thanks to the fact that I’ve not had a working pc at home for about 3 months I don’t have copies of the mails at home – usually I’d at least have the mails at both home and at work.)

So now I think I’m going to go back to using Outlook Express.  I got a copy of Outlook 2002 with my i-Mate, but I can’t seem to get it to get setup so that each of my 3 mail accounts has its mail delivered to a different inbox.  I don’t want to mix my personal mails with website related stuff and my wife’s mails…  I want them separate.  I can do that in Outlook Express and with Thunderbird but for some reason I couldn’t seem to get Outlook 2002 to do it.

Anyway, if you know of any good anti-spam products that would work for Outlook Express please let me know. πŸ™‚

[Update: I switched on my PC this morning and Symmantec popped up a message to say that it had just quarantined my Inbox. (Its logged date for the quarantine was around 9am on the 22nd of June 2005.)  So I told it to un-quarantine it, and lo and behold when I opened up Thunderbird all my mails were back!  I have no idea how they managed to disappear yesterday and reappear today or how Symmantec managed to quarantine a copy of my mailbox this morning that didn’t exist yesterday. Anyway, its back… Yay]

General Internet/Links

Big news…

Ok, so I’m a bit of a geek but I’ve had *GREAT* frustrations since PayPal stopped accepting SA payments some time in 2001.  I used them in 2000 and when it came to 2001, it just stopped working. (No warning’s were sent which just annoyed me even more)  But since then I’ve come across SO many sites that use it, and most of them just assume that PayPal works worldwide.  I’ve managed to educate a few of them that PayPal actually didn’t like SA and they’ve worked around it by using the Amazon Honour System.  But there’s been stacks of things I’ve wanted to donate to or buy but I can’t because the site only uses PayPal and PayPal doesn’t do SA. (Aparently one of their founders was from SA)

Anyway, today I almost shouted for joy when I read Jo’Blog‘s entry entitled “Great news for shoppers” which linked to an announcement by PayPal that PayPal now accepts payments from South Africa!