Main

December 25, 2006

Safety

Here's a good reason to RTFM with those presents these holidays: setting those WPA passphrases to stop hackers (and possibly neighbours, depending on circumstances) can be a rather useful thing to get done.

November 2, 2006

Offline, finally...

It's probably been the biggest annoyance with Google's Jabber implementation, the lack of offline messages. I only use my Gmail-based accounts occasionally, but I do send messages to a lot of Gmail-based or hosted Jabber addresses via my own server, so hopefully it really does work; at least I tried one message to a friend just now telling her about my Christmas plans and it seemed to not complain anymore about 503, service not available, or something like that.

On a note, it appears from what I can tell that offline isn't available yet for sending messages via the Gmail webmail interface. Hopefully soon.

That is good. If it weren't for my worries about how I'd transfer my Jabber roster over to them and keep subscription information, I'd probably be using hosted Gmail for my e-mail and Jabber service already. It's fun running my own server, but does require quite a bit of work to keep it sane. Worst case, if I can't be bothered running my own server anymore, it should be quite an easy effort to move the roster semi-manually. Just re-requesting subscriptions will be annoying. Sigh.

October 6, 2006

His Majesty King of Interface -- oh, and Telecom implies that Jabber is peer-to-peer stuff

Right, two things, while I should be doing work/finishing off at Women's Studies for the university year: my friend Donald Gordon is now King of Interface, or, put simply, a life member, and (in an unrelated madness) the open standards-based Jabber instant messaging protocol is a peer-to-peer technology, Telecom Xtra implies. Egads.

September 8, 2006

Now, if only...

...Google Maps had street level coverage of my street. (Now, if you don't want my mini-essay which I wrote for my own amusement, you may want to skip straight to the thoughts I have on my latest batch of scanning for S27(1)'s scanned books collection. Hehe!)

They do do street maps -- it's just got no satellite imagery at street level for my suburb and then some: a good chunk of Lower Hutt is missing from the coverage (at time of writing).

With the new address to location translation on offer, it would be nice if the, uh, hole (no pun intended) in coverage were fixed. (Incidentally, the Windows version of the Google Earth client isn't much better when looking at Lower Hutt [see also below]; it appears to currently use the same data set as Google Earth for Lower Hutt -- you could also try these same coordinates in Google Maps if you can be bothered.) If it were, maybe I could put together some nice mapping stuff.

But then, there's a million other mapping websites with New Zealand coverage around, with at least one with apparently better street level aerial coverage (as in no holes in coverage, actual image quality being another matter -- hey, at least it's consistent!), and most that I use for every day purposes are developed in and for the local market here. That's not to mention the city council's property information database has really good images of individual properties. Some, though, concentrate on street maps as opposed to aerial maps or satellite imagery, but make up with their trip planning features (two, Metlink and Yellow Pages, claim they do walking directions, too).

I wonder if I should re-learn some programming to get myself away from all the stuff I'm doing for graduate school for a nice little bit of recreation and perhaps do a localised mapping thing (Jabber map stuff sounds like an idea here) for amusement.

Anyway, here's what Google Maps currently looks like to me with its gap in street level satellite imagery coverage when I search for Lower Hutt. Here's a closeup of what Google Earth sees of Lower Hutt at the moment -- note the change in detail. Now, here's the extent of the gaps in street level coverage of Lower Hutt in Google Earth at the moment; it's currently the same as Google Maps.

And, another book scanned

On other matters, I scanned another book today. Yay for high speed multifunction photocopiers that e-mail on stuff in PDF! Which while I'm on that subject, I've done the same for a few other books that will be released on to Project Gutenberg Distributed Proofreaders on September 20 as birthday texts for proofing.

I'll announce what those ones are closer to the day, but in the meantime, I've scanned A Plea for the Criminal (1905). It's a response (and on first skim through while scanning it, a critical response) by an ordained minister to a book I got through PG earlier that sounded to me like something on eugenics, and that went by the name of The Fertility of the Unfit (1903).

I'm debating if I want to have images up as I've done so previously, or just have the PDF (that the photocopier spat out at me) available -- or both. Feedback would certainly be appreciated on this. (Thanks in advance!) If someone wants A Plea for the Criminal before I get around to properly posting it online, let me know and I'll either email it through somehow, or actually get around to posting it. I blame grad school for my lack of alacrity. Heh.

It doesn't mean that my attempts to find additional sources for material to scan (legally, of course) that is Section 27(1) compliant is bearing some success, necessarily, or even at all -- I do hope it does -- but I have found some stuff that should keep me occupied while I do look for things more relevant to my grad school study and research -- though today's scanned book is very much related in some aspects (say, related to the eugenics stuff someone found in a text I'd also scanned and put through PG).

ibiblio server move

The wonderful folks (ibiblio) that host Section 27(1), the dr-fun-changes mailing list, this diary you're reading right now, the SCM e-book editions, and even some teddy bear satire (which I must admit is not really being updated at the moment, partly due to worries over chewing up ibiblio's precious disc space), are having some stuff happening from Saturday, 9 September at 10am (NZST) until Sunday, 10 September at 10am (NZST). Apparently there may be some interruption in service; mail will be down for a wee bit and I won't be able to post, but the site should stay up.

One more time, thanks people for the hosting! Trying to host lots of scans of books to show the publisher's original intent (something I don't think a formatted e-text like what Project Gutenberg do) is rather (though methinks for the value of the intent, not unreasonable or overly onerous) disc intensive (not to mention slightly more demanding on bandwidth and traffic if you get the Slashdot effect or even a comparatively minor 'Public Address effect'), so everything's appreciated. :)

August 31, 2006

Sold your phone lately? Or checked your antivirus program lately?

So, you erased the information as the manual said? Seems like flash memory on phones is a little bit more resilient than you'd want it to be in this situation. Also from MSNBC today:

  • Write an e-mail that actually gets read -- one (opinionated?) person's view on the matter.
  • I'm glad my only potentially difficult encounter with a cell phone company (Vodafone New Zealand) over a billing issue (I was happy to pay the money in this case, I should add, so there wasn't a dispute there) wasn't hard to solve -- one phone call and I never (as they promised) heard back. Apparently it's no fun at all in a certain other place. Mirroring that, credit reports aren't either.
  • Last up for me, there's a debate about the ethics of creating variants of viruses for a consumer test. This is an interesting one -- I can see how creating variants can help antivirus vendors develop better heuristic logic and so on, but it just doesn't seem right.

I've also had a bit of an enlightening day on some new sources of volumes for scanning from for the Section 27(1) books today. If it comes to something, I'll write again.

July 22, 2006

One reason you wouldn't want to bother with getting broadband in New Zealand

Why wouldn't you want to bother? Why wouldn't you want to dare switch your DSL-based ISP to another one once local loop unbundling is ready? Now there's another reason. In some areas, there isn't enough space in some telephone cabinets, not to mention that it's just as bad in the main exchanges.

This isn't just the rural or supposed 'lower income' areas. Remuera supposedly has a significant waiting list, and one person in New Plymouth has been told to wait four years.

Hmmm. Charming.

I'm not sure what I would do.

Meanwhile, the ISP bidding war continues.

July 20, 2006

More books soonish

Hot on the heels of finally getting my Jabber server back up, I'm settling on a few possible books to put on the S27(1) and PD Books pages. At this stage, it'll possibly be some of the documents surrounding An Act to specify the circumstances in which contraceptives and information relating to contraception may be supplied and given to young persons, to define the circumstances under which sterilisations may be undertaken, and to provide for the circumstances and procedures under which abortions may be authorised after having full regard to the rights of the unborn child (or, the Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion Act 1977 for short). The related Royal Commission inquiry report might be a bit of a push with my current time commitments, so I'm considering a look primarily at the select committee reports instead. I am, nonetheless tempted to try scanning the Royal Commission report. Time will see! :)

I'm still also looking in to some 1950s-era stuff (such as Mazengarb's report, of course, but I think at this stage that I've covered the vast majority of what I'm interested in.

June 22, 2006

Postgraduate school

Yeah well, it will be over for the term by Monday. Methinks.

Which is what I've been up to. 'Regular service will resume shortly.'

On other matters, my Jabber server, greta.electric.gen.nz, is back up! Turns out all I needed was five minutes to read through and configure jabber.xml, and then three more minutes to generate a certificate and turn on port 5223. Easy! Why I didn't do it sooner... sigh. All this getting busy at postgraduate school seems silly if it was only going to take this little time.

Just in case it comes in handy for anyone else consider a move (albeit on jabberd 1.4), I'll write up the painless experience next week. (Actually, it was painful. Once I realised how simple it was.) At this rate, maybe I'll look at ejabberd as well and open registrations a little more for fun.

See y'all Monday evening, hopefully. :)

June 26, 2005

It's all expensive

The US situation: Beyond Wi-Fi: Laptop Heaven but at a Price. Plenty of technologies can get you online wirelessly these days, but there's always a catch. Wi-Fi Internet hot spots are fast and cheap, but they keep you tethered to the airport, hotel or coffee shop where the hot spot originates.

June 25, 2005

Rats! Lines Companies! Rodents! Telecom!

So, it was a rat, after all, and lines company contractors. And now it's time for Telecom to talk compensation for themselves. This will be fun for them.

And there's little demand for business DSL upstream speeds faster than 128? Someone tell me that Telecom are joking. Really. They must be.

June 21, 2005

Rat blamed

Um, a rat isn't exactly a road contractor, though a (possible) rat and a electricity contractor hitting a cable probably is. I don't even want to know the cost of the fibre cut. Things were a bit crazy around town, after all.

June 20, 2005

Sliced fibre, anyone?

All right, who smells that Xtra's and Telecom's problems today are thanks to someone (last time I remember something similar, it was a road contractor, but of course it doesn't mean it was them this time) slicing a little bit of Telecom fibre optic cable?

If it was just one cable, perhaps having a backup route might actually be a good idea...

I'm typing this over dialup. Helps having backup connectivity off a provider that avoids the telco that provides your usual network access. :)

June 19, 2005

Burke defeats Burke

Sometimes life doesn't seem fair, does it, like being defeated in a grand electoral steeplechase by not only a landslide, but getting defeated by a namesake as well. Aside from the ABC, the victory rates a mention in the NZH. (How odd -- the ruling party now has nearly three times the seats of the opposition. Even to a politically neutral spectator like me, that just looks big.)

Elsewhere, in the New York Times: What Is Google, Anyway? Is Google a media company? One answer is: Sure, Google is a media company, except when it isn't. The other answer is: It doesn't really matter anyway. In the NZH: you may have a grave problem getting a plot for yourself when you die -- at least in greater Auckland, anyway.

June 13, 2005

The Northern Territory Government doesn't exist any more

Here's a lesson in why you need secondary nameservers outside of your network. As I write, the whole of the nt.gov.au domain is currently lame, as neither of the two nameservers can be reached at the moment. I guess a bit of e-mail as well as the usual web traffic (I'm trying to get to one of their websites at the moment for something trivally important) is down. That's on the whole domain, from what I can tell.

As far as I can tell, the folks who appear to be their provider, Optus, seem to have trouble with the peering point with Telstra in Melbourne or thereabouts. Unfortunately, both of the NT Government nameservers appears to be behind that link (well, quite likely, as both nameservers appears to be on the same Class B subnet). So nothing appears to be working for nt.gov.au at the moment. Oops, perhaps, for at least .

In other words, isn't it nice to swap secondaries with other people, or at least having one nameserver coming in from another Internet provider's connection? At least then MX records can be read and mail deferred.

Oh well. Guess some things get thrown aside in the need for expediency. If this looks like bagging a government agency, go dig some random domain names' nameservers, and you'll see it's a common practice. Even with some big Internet providers' own domains! In New Zealand, paradise.net.nz come to mind, among many, many others. Perhaps another way to see it is that best practice seems to change. Or at least common practice.

June 4, 2005

Smoking banned in Indian films

From the ABC:

[Listening to: Radio New Zealand International]

May 24, 2005

Christian porn filter seen as censorship

From the NZH: Christian porn filter seen as censorship.

Anti-porn software developed for schools by a company with links to fundamentalist Christians has been criticised for blocking students' access to leftist political forums and websites on sexuality and health.

Education Minister Trevor Mallard approved the Watchdog Corporation's CampusNet filtering software last year, as part of a $9.5 million package to help schools screen out hackers and objectionable material such as pornography.

I wonder if my Section 27(1) and public domain books page will be next? :)

A neutral thought here: perhaps it's better to not block information sites so students can get both sides of arguments, so they can research these views? Perhaps doing so, and providing some teacher guidance anyway for any Internet access, would help students form balanced and fair assignments and personal world views and opinions?

May 22, 2005

Final presentation

I have (if I have added my papers -- courses, if you will -- and points right), I have the final assessment piece for my major tomorrow. There are some ancillary bits such as a literature review and reflection to also do that are due on 27 May, but other than that, I am done.

May 16, 2005

College Libraries Set Aside Books in a Digital Age

From the New York Times: College Libraries Set Aside Books in a Digital Age. Some shades of Cambridge High School anyone, but perhaps at least in a more positive (and, well, American, geographically, as opposed to New Zealand) setting? And to imagine if VUW tried this... and to think of the digital rights management costs, especially with those non-one-off licence payments! Still, the basic principle shows much promise. Interesting, this all -- will be equally interesting to see how it turns out. Outside the world of education, I do wonder what uses there may be.

Time will tell.

On another note potentially stupid note, I managed to coax my DVD-ROM drive here to play the Brooke Fraser DVD, though not using my preferred software video player. But in any case, I'm playing it a few times now in case I don't get a chance to do it again on this computer. It's an improvement on the results of my last attempt to play the disc, anyway.

[Listening to: Saving The World, Lifeline, Arithmetic and Better -- Brooke Fraser -- What To Do With Daylight: Special Edition (Disc Two: DVD) (18:51/19:09)]

May 14, 2005

Brothels in Kent

According to the venerable site that is The Register, a search for brothels near postal code TN12 7EA shows a police station. Also mentioned is a pointer to Dutch academic research material archives, and a new way to use Skype for the classic scam. Yes, the 419. In other possibly equally venerable (or otherwise; I'm not intentionally judging them) spots:

On a different tack, I ended up buying the 'special edition' of Brooke Fraser's album. Unfortunately, the bonus DVD suffered pretty much the same fate that Centre Stage (which I can't seem to find right now) suffered on my computer -- it wouldn't play. Odd. It did when put into the television, so I'm still happy. Just someone don't tell me I need to send the computer in again for warranty service. The lack of a local authorised warranty centre gave me quite a shock in courier charges. The transportation charge was peanuts, but once the postal worker got to the compulsory insurance bit... apparently whole computers are quite a risk.

More books will be scanned from about Monday week. Watch the bookshelf. As for the quick table, it wasn't much of a success, but I might keep it anyway.

May 7, 2005

Raspberry Coke

More marketing madness: Coca-Cola with Raspberry. When will this endless marketing end? And what about Cherry Coke again? Someone?

In Internet-related stuff, Australia seems to be making motions with its upcoming ENUM trial. In education, evolution and creation come up again, this time in Kansas.

[Listening to: All I Need -- Bethany Dillon -- Bethany Dillon (03:16)]

May 4, 2005

Scanning more books

Thanks to a suggestion from someone obtained from an SCMA-sourced contact, I've started scanning a book from a William Allan Chapple, as well as a response to that book written by someone else. I expect I'll finish these by mid-June, though there are no guarantees, of course.

More details to follow. After some discussions with a local university library, I am also likely to have another select committee report from the 1920s scanned in addition to Venereal Diseases in New Zealand (1922). This will be likely to occur during the mid-year break at VUW.

[Listening to: On My Knees (LP Version) -- Jaci Velasquez -- Heavenly Place (03:49)]

Some more education-related articles from mostly the NYT and the BBC:

All right. Sleep seems good now.

[Listening to: Legacy -- Nichole Nordeman -- Live At The Door (04:16)]

[Listening to: My God (LP Version) -- Point Of Grace -- Steady On (05:04)]

April 25, 2005

More

New York Times:

  • Pope Benedict XVI Formally Installed: At a Mass in St. Peter's Square on Sunday, the new pope officially took control of the Roman Catholic Church.
  • Shall I Compare Thee to the King's Library? It might seem unfair to King George III, but recently, as I surveyed Liberace's collection of vintage automobiles, fur coats, feathered capes and antique pianos in the Liberace Museum here, I thought of the King's Library in the British Museum.
  • A Boldface Name Invites Others to Blog With Her: Arianna Huffington is starting up a Web site, the Huffington Report, that will feature blogs from celebrities like Arthur Schlesinger, David Mamet, Nora Ephron, David Geffen and Walter Cronkite.

April 20, 2005

Starbucks today

I was down at the Willis Street Starbucks in Wellington today, deciding to try and get their shiny new-ish Telecom Wireless Hotspot Service running on my computer.

Put it this way, the competition did much better. It actually worked, as opposed to obtaining an IP address and not doing much more (directing me to a login page would have been nice).

A nice touch though was when upon telling the cheery staff that their hotspot didn't seem to get me anywhere (such as a login page in a web browser), they smiled and gave me a CD. It was titled Telecom Wireless Internet Access: A Guide to Getting Started, with the friendly suggestion that I Call 0800 952 695 for Telecom Wireless Hotspot Help. I might have done that, if I weren't actually busy talking to someone at the same time about school-related stuff (and sending off an e-mail message he suggested). Oh, and running a Jabber client, of course.

The Windows instructions on the Flash-littered disc were basically what the instructions on Telecom's hotspot site. Still no luck.

My conclusion is that a system reboot may have helped, but unless one wants to be rude to the person one is talking to about school-related matters, it's not really an option.

Still, it was an interesting experience, not least the discussions I had on my Section 27(1) project. I now have an official Starbucks coaster, Xtra and Starbucks logo on it, too.

April 12, 2005

Patent reviews

Here's an interesting note from someone claiming to be an IBM employee on their internal review processes for patents.

On another note, today I came across an online directory called The Asterix Annotations. While I knew a lot of the puns already, this would have been useful years ago!

March 29, 2005

And you thought New Zealand 'broadband' had issues?

Thought that, whatever you might call New Zealand's 'broadband' market, that it's having problems? Well, they're having broadly similar problems with the broadband market in the United States. However, the biggest problem seems to be whether one should have to pay for a phone line with one's DSL.

I suppose on first quick impressions, over in the United States, there's more of a problem due to the apparent popularity of cell phones and Internet telephony over the broadband lines that's a problem. I imagine it's quite possible this sort of thing might become an issue in New Zealand in the future, with cellphones starting to replace landlines.

Fibre to the front door of your home, anyone? There's probably still room on them electricity poles outside, unless the TelstraClear cables have taken all the room. Which is likely. The Telecom poles look decidedly sparse, though.

March 24, 2005

Happy Easter!

Assignment handed in. Sleep is now on the agenda. Happy Easter!

Oh yeah, and so is some work on helping write some Jabber client documentation, and another assignment. Once the sleep thing (and thus that annoying tiredness thing) is out of the way.

March 6, 2005

Signs malware and spyware are both getting out of hand

Here's another sign (courtesy of Slashdot) that malware is getting out of hand: at least 23 megabytes of bandwidth used up without asking. Not to mention in the same story someone discovering that they've been had for no less than 65 megabytes for a .NET Framework installation they never asked for, excluding the adware, malware and advertisements that came with it.

I wonder if Microsoft AntiSpyware and Norton AntiVirus will come out with definitions against the web page markup that does this, if not already... as someone on a byte cap, this is not only below the belt, in a very uncomfortable spot, but quite probably unethical.

I guess I have to be very careful what websites I visit, now. Grumble. Not that I wasn't already, however.

February 12, 2005

Nameserver queries up markedly

For some odd reason, the queries on two different secondary nameserver providers for electric.gen.nz have been markedly up from a several thousand a month (September 2004) to either the high tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands (October 2004 to this month to date).

How odd -- and that's just for two of the providers. Maybe it's time to take a closer look at the site logs again.

I did have some maelstroms on the odd occasion of varying levels of annoyances, so perhaps it's something to do with that.

I wonder if I should do a graph of it?

February 2, 2005

The publicity effect

Seeing the Close Up story last night on TVNZ publicising the Mount Wave Cam as a place for voyeurs has me speechless a little. I'm not sure what to think. There is a video clip of their report that's around six-odd minutes long, if you can manage it.

Seems like whoever's controlling the Java applet at the moment is trying to find women to zoom in on (it's on full zooom right now, too). No such luck, really. It's obviously raining pretty heavily, by the looks of things.

Whatever one's views, it does look slightly alarmist but the report, whether or not it is indeed alarmist, does raise some privacy issues. It is a public place, on one hand. Maybe warning signs might be appropriate. Perhaps.

It's going to be a mine field to work through, no pun intended.

In other news, Gopher access is back on greta.electric.gen.nz on a pygopherd daemon, so it's also available once again in non-Gopher browsers. I need some content to put on there, though. I wonder if photographs from my trip to Hamilton would be of use?

My Jabber work should also continue, from late February, once my school timetable is finalised.

January 26, 2005

The Game of Life!

From the NZH: John Conway and his Game of Life!

I'm sure pointing out individual banner ads doesn't violate my new website host's request that one doesn't place banner ads on their pages. So, on the subject of sexuality education in NZ, here's yet another ad from a certain Microsoft instant messaging program. It's from the No Rubba, No Hubba Hubba campaign:

Here's that banner advertisement from the abovementioned Ministry of Health education campaign.

(And, this is one more reason to use Jabber. Virtually no banner advertisements in most clients, if at all. If it weren't for annoyed friends using Microsoft product that demand to be able to use all the nice little toys in the said products, I'd have switched all my accounts onto the appropriate Jabber transport ages ago. Which reminds me, I need to get my Jabber server back online. Soon.)

January 8, 2005

A new project, and a new location!

Well, to cut a long story short, the power house has indeed changed locations. For now, at least, but that said, it's not an experience I want to repeat any time soon.

Sorry for the long entry, too. Got heaps to mention.

(Yes, kids, greta.electric.gen.nz is still experiencing trouble. Sorry. I'm working on it with Philip as time allows either of us. :) Thanks for everything, definitely, Philip!)

Part of the reason is that I've decided to take on a new project, digitising books that come under Section 27(1) of the Copyright Act 1994 (NZ). So far, I've only done 1954's Mazengarb Report, but I think there's some good, promising targets for the Section 27(1) treatment. (It's going through the Distributed Proofreading process to become a Project Gutenberg e-book, too, which coincidentally -- read on for the coincidence -- is also hosted on ibiblio.)

As a result, I'll be spending less time on esoteric things, and mainly talking here about the books I republish on the Section 27 pages, both on the Section 27 project itself, and commenting on the books I post. I'll be creating a category presently for all that stuff.

TypeKey authentication is, for the time being, compulsory. My web host for the dr-fun-changes list and the Section 27 pages has suggested it. And, yes, it's the fine, gentle creatures at ibiblio. (I like their self description on their front page, the public's library and digital archive, incidentally -- fits in with PG and Section 27 quite well, methinks.) Thanks, guys, for taking my pages on for hosting.

It was actually for the dr-fun-changes list to be closer to the people who host the Doctor Fun pages that I originially decided to move. Then I came up with the Section 27 project, so after a bit of consultation with librarians, my university's copyright officer (even though I didn't use and don't intend to use VUW books for the time being), and a couple other allied experts, it appeared that ibiblio was also a good fit for digitised books that have no copyright in New Zealand.

You'll find more gormless information on the Section 27 page.

There's much more in the way of news I want to mention that I haven't while tph has been down, but I'll save that for a bit later. Such as the fact that a lot of inter-entry links are hard coded for the previous location. Never mind. They might get fixed, some day, if I have time. I knew I should have used relative links...

But, to cut things short, I'm back in business! At least completely so once my Jabber server has Internet connectivity again. :) I'm doing new projects now, so old ones may fall by the wayside, but that's another story, too. I'll keep you all updated.

November 9, 2004

Obselete!

I guess my photograph of the old Karori Public Library building will rather soon be a bit out of date, especially when they're rebuilding the place.

Must take another look around there, some time soon. And get some of my more recent photographs uploaded.

Oh, the joys of looking through Google results. Maybe a bit more sifting will uncover a rather good Jabber avatar for me, though I do like my current ones.

October 23, 2004

Comment spam again

Yes, tph -- and thus everything else running off greta.electric.gen.nz (which includes my Jabber server) -- is currently suffering a comment spam maelstrom, once again. Grumble. There were somewhere between 40 and 60 spam messages/comments. (I'd give an exact count, but they were coming in fast enough to annoy me.)

Spammers: when will you realise you're losers for making people's lives (say, mine) harder just to sell stuff?

In other thoughts, I notice that it's mainly .info domain names that they seem to be using. Maybe it's due to the free .info domain names offers I've seen floating around the Internet lately. Argh.

On another thought, I really need to move stuff to the other box I have on this network to prevent some of the issues.

[Listening to: Jewel -- A Night Without Armor: Poems by Jewel]

October 2, 2004

Work, work, work...

I'll be dead for the next few weeks. Bear with me...

When I'm back, hopefully there'll be more photography up.

September 2, 2004

New box

I'm currently building a new box with a view to using it on Philip's network as at least a spam filter and virus scanner. Currently it's being used to relay mail between the gateway and greta.electric.gen.nz, but I have a feeling this (the spam and virus stuff) is actually something I should have another go at persuading greta to do on her own.

In the meantime, the load average issue on greta has pretty much disappeared, so the lag issues on the Jabber daemon have gone. Back in business!

August 23, 2004

Unicode and EndNote

Damn! I can't do macrons for Māori in EndNote!

This sucks. Especially when most of the titles in the reference list I'm building right now use common Māori words.

[Listening to: Everywhere -- Michelle Branch -- The Spirit Room (03:36)]

On the subject of Unicode, I'm finding that a lot of other programs, such as many Jabber clients, don't like the Windows 'New Zealand Māori Keyboard Definition'. Either the macron input is ignored, or if I even try to paste in a macron, it's ignored. This from some programs that are claiming they have Unicode support, too. However, I don't know all of the ins and outs of Unicode, so I can't offer solutions just yet. :(

Update, 12.15: Yes, I'm using EndNote 7. But I don't expect VUW to bother getting a more recent volume licence unless someone important who needs Unicode support raises a stink about it. Oh well. The EndNote lot claim that a certain SP2 for a certain OS doesn't exactly like their latest offering, anyway.

August 18, 2004

Windows XP Service Pack 2

Just finished installing Microsoft Windows XP SP2 over the last three days. No problems yet, as I am still able to access network shares and the like so far with minimal reconfiguration, with existing settings and with the new defaults.

[Listening to: I Never Loved You Anyway -- The Corrs -- Best of the Corrs [Australia Bonus Track] (03:54)]

July 30, 2004

I'm shy

Yikes. I seem to have made it into InternetNZ's annual report, just in time for today's AGM. The photograph I ended up sending them was taken by a school friend nearly four years ago.

[Listening to: The Right Time -- The Corrs -- Best of the Corrs [Australia Bonus Track] (04:08)]

In other electoral news, I finally found out today a friend got elected to a general position on the student union executive (congratulations!), and the results of the last JSF membership votes are available.

[Listening to: Only When I Sleep -- The Corrs -- Best of the Corrs [Australia Bonus Track] (03:51)]

July 24, 2004

A crazy day

Wow, those EDUC 312 readings are intense. And then I still haven't decided if I'm going to the Kohanga ball tonight yet. Then when I got told that I appear in the newspaper, having had a crazy day overall, I thought at first perhaps someone got arrested and tried to use my name.

Anyway, the conversation goes something like thus. Mark asks did you see yourself in the Herald? I wonder if someone's misidentified me with my NT namesake (that's the Northern Territory of Australia, not a certain Windows OS flavour) politician person -- and no, I'm not related to any politician in Darwin -- and that last time I thought I appeared in the paper was two years ago on the Dominion Post's second day of publication. Mark then advises me that the New Zealand Herald's Web week column people have been looking around the power house:

One big blog: This tech blog seems to run on for ever with postings about all sorts of issues affecting its owner and the world of technology at large. Good for infrequent browsing.

Run on for ever? Now that's a new one. Though it's probably accurate. :) Perhaps I should actually write about electricity policy at some stage. Education theory and policy is far more sexy at the moment, though... (I wonder what good for infrequent browsing means for this site? Not that I expected anyone to read this, but cool if they do, hey?) :)

Anyway, for those who have been visiting, I should probably mention pretty much the same thing as David: I don't update this blog every day or anything, and it varies a lot between random irrelevent rants and occasionally politics and even more occasionally some vaguely technical notes. Occasionally. However, I should add that I am more likely to wonder about education issues more than geeky stuff nowadays. After all, it is more, uh, attractive for me to write about at the moment. (Which reminds me, my Jabber server's JIT gateway is still apparently stuffed, even though the daemon happily restarts on demand. Oh dear.) There's also the minor issue at the moment that, for example, <q> and </q> tags don't have any effect whatsoever in IE at the moment. Though (in a slight plug) Mozilla browsers (and other clients) do.

But what is this diary about? Firstly I don't like the name 'blog' or 'weblog'. This is more of a diary to me, than a, uh, 'log', though more public. I write about random stuff. I have an interest in both education and teaching issues, and the odd geeky thing I've learnt (all of which culminated in me joining the InternetNZ council, where I keep an eye on all sorts of stuff, but most of all education issues). I also tend to write long soliloquies like this one over the course of a few moments, instead of several small entries. Go figure. I probably should write more about this, but I'll leave it until later.

(In the meantime, I wonder if I'm one of the 4 out of 6 that fishy knows? Small world, I know. Mmmmmmmmmmm.)

The best part about this whole exercise, though, is that I've discovered some interesting (figurative) neighbours. Groovy. And thanks to the New Zealand Herald, too. Ka kite. :)

In other news, I've done my JSF membership voting for this quarter. Mostly renewals that were solid, but still a pleasure as usual. Which also reminds me, I need to check on that Wiki of mine and somehow force it to allow self-created logins... either that or I just let anyone edit, but then I need to keep an eye out for vandals... I can't ever win. Oh yeah, DPF's little dabbling in wireless networking reminds me of the Network Stumbler sessions I've had lately. Compared to a few months ago, more and more people have discovered turning on encryption is a damned good idea, but still a fair lot of people around The Terrace through to Lower Hutt aren't doing it yet. But at least the majority are now, compared to my Network Stumbler logs from March. Essentially, the police's and New Zealand Herald's Auckland conclusions pan out in Wellington, too, as far as I can tell from my limited trips. Home users really do need to note that their networks need better-than-defaults setups. Or maybe they really do want their broadband bill to be at risk, just to make things easy for them? :S (And no, I didn't try to get free access off any AP.) Oh well, off to bed, now. :) Enough of a mega entry. Really. :)

July 22, 2004

School notes

Not much time to write, but a note to say that I'm still here, and Jabbering when I can! :)

Well, I've had my first four lectures and first two tutorials for the new (sort of) trimester (why the heck VUW chose 'trimester' over 'semester' is beyond me, as people not familiar with non-maternity-related uses of the word tend to give me odd looks) for both EDUC 229 and EDUC 312. I'm finding the papers informative (already 229 has stretched my views on life challenges for youth and how they might cope with stuff), while 312 is giving me new viewpoints on ethnicity, building on the stuff I caught up on at WCE.

On that note, it's likely I'll be visiting WCE today with the Kohanga people.

Which reminds me, I need to put in my JSF membership votes in, quick smart! :) Looks like it's a good list to look at, as usual.

July 12, 2004

Without advertisements

I've had some fun coaxing Gmail into displaying their advertisements and related pages links next to e-mail messages, lately. Seems like it's great for mailing lists one reads -- the links provided tend to be relevant. But when one gets to personal e-mail messages where one discusses a variety of topics, it starts going all over the place a little. The personal e-mail message I'm looking at right now has stuff as varied as concert tickets, and related links to constitutional bans on marriage in the US, something on when Star Trek meets bad psychology, and something on constitutional authority in the US, none of which were relevant at all.

Here is an example of Gmail's Sponsored Links and Related Pages sections.

[Listening to: Without You -- Brooke Fraser -- What To Do With Daylight (03:00)]

The spam filtering, however, isn't doing David Goldstein's mailing list (which I administer) too well yet. For sure it'll get better, but in the meantime, the odd message is still getting tagged as a false positive.

On Jabber-related things in my life, one of my transports is currently down. The JIT one seems to be acting up, marking itself 'offline' and not budging despite a restart. No time to look at it carefully at the moment, unfortunately. Hopefully later in the week, even though I'm back at school.

[Listening to: Song To The Siren -- Amber Claire -- Love and Such (03:46)]

July 2, 2004

David gets a pay rise

Well, we never did have a report on the spam workshop in the end. But not to worry. We got some good discussion in on other matters.

Speaking of which, earlier in the day (before lunch), yes -- we did vote DPF and the other officers a pay rise. And it wasn't a case of stuff being passed around -- from what I can tell, the nature of DPF's job, for example, has changed, but the president's especially.

But I don't like talking about money. So I'm leaving it there.

[Listening to: Disc 02, Track 13 -- Philip Pullman -- The Amber Spyglass [Dramatisation] Disc 2 (03:56)]

Things to do with a CityLink connection

One is to check out the streaming CityLink webcams. They appear in almost full motion, as far as I'm concerned. Top webcams I think are the Zephyrometer and Cuba Mall ones -- at Cuba Mall, one can see the 'don't walk' light on the traffic light currently located in the middle of the image flash in pretty much full motion. Mmmmm. (Well, in truth, it's not full motion, probably 15 frames per second, looking at it in an offhand way, but motion enough to see planes start to descend in the Zephyrometer webcam, and people's leg movements in Cuba Mall.)

It also seems to work well with Jabber in terms of latency. Most lag now is on the cable modem (and the associated firewall) that greta.electric.gen.nz hides behind.

But in the meantime, I'm eagerly awaiting the video clip streams from the spam workshop from R2.

(On another note, before the Bearcom forget, the latest photo shoot has Albert overeating SPAM, and regretting trying.)

The more important thing, however, about being here at InternetNZ today is, of course, the council meeting. We're currently looking at the Interop Programme, not the spam stuff yet. But I think this is a good thing -- we need the funding stuff sorted, quick smart.

InternetNZ council meeting

I'm at another InternetNZ council meeting. Nothing out of the ordinary, apart from two proposals from the previous meeting getting a mention. I'll write about them once the minutes go up, as time permits.

Pete (our executive director) is to giving us a summary of the spam workshop after a five minute break. Should be interesting.

June 27, 2004

Briana's back in business!

Potentially good news! The world's worst chatbot, using off the shelf binaries (I feel lucky -- and risky!), Brie (aka Briana), is back in business for now. Feel free to send her Jabber messages within reason, but please read the instructions first.

Also, you may wish to keep in mind that a real human does, on idle occasion, read the logs, to see how Brie puts up with swear words and rude words... :)

June 25, 2004

Workshop notes

Having gone to the Wednesday night NZCS event, it felt as if I had the recap before the big workshop on Thursday. But no matter, as it was useful to hear the stuff beforehand.

What I didn't hear beforehand from Andrew Maurer was some detail about what was meant in Australia's Spam Act 2003 by inferred consent. As I (still) haven't read it for months (I suspect possibly even before it was passed, as well), it was interesting to see how wide a net they have cast to avoid innocents being caught up. Anthony Wing also had a few important messages. The interesting bits though were that his agency has issued 130 warnings so far, and a suggestion not to reinvent educational material. (I've heard similar things with regards to Internet safety, too, in the past.)

More on this and the InternetNZ submission later.

As if by coincidence, I received an e-mail message from Dell this morning, asking me to 'confirm' consent, for the purposes of the Australian Spam Act 2003, for staying on their books as (presumably) a marketing target, which I was happy (I know, I'm a sucker) to do, as I am pondering whether to replace a computer that seems to have a rather dodgy thermometer somewhere in it.

Thanks muchly to the kind Jeff Barr of Syndic8.com, I now have a Gmail account. The part of most interest to me was the spam filtering function. But, alas, now having my paws on a 'virgin' e-mail address is so tempting enough to consider not publishing it online to see if harvesters pick it up and start spamming it...

[Listening to: All You Wanted -- Michelle Branch -- The Spirit Room (03:38)]

June 24, 2004

Spam workshop today

Well, it's just hit midnight, which means I am off to the anti-spam legislation workshop that InternetNZ are running today. Yesterday, though, I got the opportunity to attend a joint NZCS-InternetNZ meeting in Wellington, with some of the speakers at today's workshop making an appearance. I have to say I now have an appreciation for the policy decisions the Australians made that I wasn't too keen on, courtesy of Andrew Maurer and Anthony Wing. The most important one to me is the civil remedies, as I was thinking for a while it'd be better to get black marks than financial pain (though it never was a deal killer for me). It's great that we got these two fine men along to the workshop: if their contribution today is anything to go by, they'll be great tomorrow for helping with formulating the submission to the MED. Also a good time to meet them and some of the other people involved, before the workshop, too.

Once we can get the legislation in place, I'll be very happy, and I'll feel much better about putting my efforts in the direction of educational resources for schoolchildren. Groovy.

In the meantime, there's an interesting New York Times article on some developments in technology-based verification solutions. More related stories and comment to come later in the day, when I get back from the workshop.

June 22, 2004

Some toilet humour, a systems update, and some school results

Perhaps someone needs to select better acronyms?

On other matters, greta.electric.gen.nz is back up, until the second week of July, Philip tells me, so more overloaded load average madness on my Jabber and Mailman box is to be had until then. (Actually, it was up all the time the downstream server it hides behind was being worked on, but hey, even I couldn't access it during the downtime.)

I've also calculated what I think is my likely mark for EDUC 234, based on adding up my marks (ah, the joys of internally-assessed university papers). No such luck yet with the SOSC 111 paper I randomly picked up. That had an exam, so I'll be waiting for a while. Now, unfortunately, it's time for me to sort out my papers for next trimester. Yuck, as I smell degree planning up ahead in bright lights. Ugh, indeed. Incidentally, I see the VUW School of Education has decided to change its website. Hopefully this time the information is updated often enough, though even in its previous state, the information was still useful.

Time for bed now, methinks. I was going to write about the upcoming InternetNZ spam workshop, but I've decided to leave that until afterwards as I gather up ideas. (And yes, I'm still working on that unit plan. I might trim it for brevity, though.)

June 18, 2004

greta.electric.gen.nz downtime

FYI: Due to some changes on the network on which greta.electric.gen.nz resides, most of its services will be unavailable for a few hours or so tonight. And then, I'm told, probably the second week of July, too.

Thanks, as usual, to Philip Dowie, for keeping the server up. :)

June 17, 2004

How to Jabber safely (apparently)

Being a read the manual type of person, reading a fact sheet on 'safe' IM practices was kind of amusing. But, that said, serious at the same time.

A while ago, I was contemplating running an academic experiment using a chatbot I'd cobbled together using existing parts -- centericq and some external plugin implementation of Eliza. I'd have to say it did work kind of well when I were testing it -- if one were supervising it (it has a habit of suddenly causing a crash by increasing processor overload, at least last time I tried it). It did fool the odd person, but there were two problems -- it processed each message individually, and it couldn't join conference rooms, because it would reply to everything in the room, right down to the join messages. (I imagine, though, for the latter I could have used a grep or something.) I can't seem to get past the ethics issues, though, but that's mainly because I haven't had time to work on it in the last several months. Still, it was of some amusement at WCE.

What does this tell me? Like my join message on jdev@conference.jabber.org suggests, I'm not hot by any means at programming, and I worship off-the-shelf binaries from apt-get. But I like writing documentation-like stuff, which is what I suppose I can contribute to Jabber.

In the meantime, however, I'm working on a unit plan for teaching schoolchildren safe choices with regards to junk e-mail and instant messages. I've deferred work on it, however, until a workshop next week...

So, incidentally, I'll be going to an anti-spam legislation workshop in Wellington on 24 June. It should be interesting to see what sorts of stuff come up. Sure most of the spam we get in NZ comes from overseas, but we still don't want people to perceive our country as a soft touch. At least in the meantime we have a good Internet Service Provider community who tend to (by my experience or two getting a spammer run in; other people's experience may vary, I suppose) terminate spammers pretty quickly.

[Listening to: Disc 3, Track 09 -- Douglas Adams -- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy [Audiobook] Disc 3 (03:08)]

Update: while typing this, someone asked me to put my chatbot back up. Turns out its home directory was a bit full, so creating a fresh account seems to have done the trick for now. Currently it's Jabber only, but I'll add back the other protocols if I see it's gonna be useful. I'm not sure if I'll leave her on all day, though. I'll have to think about that.

[Listening to: Disc 4, Track 01 -- Douglas Adams -- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy [Audiobook] Disc 4 (02:57)]

First Wiki page

Well, my first substantial Wiki page has been written, but as usual, it's a work in progress, listing non-English conference rooms, as well as phrases to paste into a room to alert people of certain languages to rooms that actually speak their language more often. Only four languages thus far, but I expect more as we get the people coming through.

Most of this really probably should be integrated into ChatBot queries, really. But this is a start. After all, I do procrastinate a lot. :)

June 16, 2004

Learning new stuff every day

Today's cool word I find while randomly browsing the online Oxford English Dictionary: New Zild, the adjective form of it being defined as Of, relating to, or designating distinctive New Zealand speech or language; of or relating to New Zealand (esp of something viewed as typically characteristic), among other definitions.

And I've learnt how to persuade Movable Type to make some XML feeds for the power house; I thought it'd be a good touch to finally get around to it after someone suggested I do so, to make putting me on Planet Jabber a bit easier, should I ask to be added. Not sure I do, but if I am added, I wouldn't object. :)

On other matters of 'learning', I've finally realised the joys of a certain travel book, albeit by CD. For the past four years, since getting a copy of the US edition of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire on CD, I've found audiobooks much easier to take in than books in print form. Alas, the Harry Potter audiobooks as sold in NZ are rather expensive. Looks like I'll have to curb the habit and continue reading the print versions (like I did with Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix). Damn.

[Listening to: Disc 2, Track 17 -- Douglas Adams -- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy [Audiobook] Disc 2 (03:05)]

June 12, 2004

Firing up a Wiki

Well, I've finally done it. I've forgotten the vandals that say something stupid. Okie, so I've simply reinstalled a Wiki on greta, PhpWiki to be exact. I've set it up to allow editing from self-created logins for now.

Right now, the only use I have for it is for some quick end user documentation for Jabber users. Why? To be idealisitic, a quick FAQ-style site so I don't have to remember the answer to the same question without having to refer to a newsgroup posting or an infrequently updated website (hey, Emacs takes forever to load on my server).

And so I can compare it against Faq-O-Matic to see which I want for the job. (Well, if I can persuade it to work, which I can't right now.)

Personally, I think it'd be far easier to load more terse statements into ChatBot, so it pops up for users immediately, rather than a web page. But time will tell.