Older blog entries for berend (starting at number 161)

It seems a lot of spammers and viruses are using my email address as the reply address... Got swamped by messages saying I have a virus. I therefore decided it was time to start signing my mail seriously. Upgraded to the latest GNU Privacy Guard (GPG), and the latest mailcrypt. Uncommented the lines in my .emacs and my mail is signed from now on. Put a URL in my signature to my public key. There does not seem to be a field in a message header for it.

Software that replies when it thinks I sent a virus will probably be disabled pretty soon. As well as the replies that an email address does not exist, or that the mailbox is over its size limit. Sigh. The end of email is near I'm afraid.

We really should have a server were people can send their email address and public key too. When a mail server receives a message claiming to have a reply address from someone, it should check with that server to see if that email address exists. Next it should validate the public key for the message. That would make it impossible to forge email addresses, if that server is reliable. To make sure the email addresses on that public server are reliable, we need to employ some trust. I.e. you can only store an email address and public key if another person, or two, can vouch for you. Perhaps use the existing public key servers and trust rings??

Lately, I have become pessimistic about antispam techniques. I no longer believe Paul Graham's approach to fight spam is going to work. Bayesian filtering is pretty easy to defeat if people start to use it seriously. If I was a spammer I just would hire a few hackers to distribute a few viruses that allow me to sent email all over the world. Next I would use the infected machines for some serious spamming: just send serious messages to everyone in the world. Take messages from mailing lists at SourceForge or Yahoo Groups. If people start to move those messages to their spam archives, they will slowly but surely decrease the effectiveness of their Bayesian utilities. And just by the sheer volume they can guarantee that messages get through, as long as they're varied enough. My spamfilter might block things about gardens or popmusic, but sure doesn't block messages about Eiffel yet.

Bayesian tools might have worked, if not for Microsoft and basically for the entire computer profession. It's all sloppy coding and use of sloppy languages that can't even guarantee you don't have a buffer overflow. Writing secure code is already hard enough even if you don't have to worry about mistakes with some pointer or a statically allocated array. We have so many infected computers now, that Bayesian filters simply can be spammed to death. Berend's law: what can happen, will happen.

Follower, have noticed the effect as well.

And I saw it. At 21:51 (9:51pm as the locals say here), I was outside. Woke up the two kids that had expressed an interest. The little girl liked it, but after a while she began giggling continuously until I put her to bed. And the next day that little girl was very angry that daddy hadn't woken her up. She had to believe us when we told her that sure we had done so. But it was very hard for her. She didn't remember a thing anymore. It does not seem likely she will get a chance to see it again in her lifetime.

This must be the most ridiculous headline of the Mars frenzy: Mars visible with naked eye (Dutch news site). You must be a journalist to write such a headline without any alarm going off in your head. Sure one of the lowest points in journalism, the profession where writing about things you know nothing about is ok. Where has this guy been living for the last 5,000 years?

In other Dutch news: Dyke breaks in driest year on record. You wonder what will happen there when they really get some water. I suggest people evacuate while they can!

ARC Ratepayers Rebellion website now has its own domain. And I detected that redirecting can be done properly with Apache. No wonder its the highest ranking web server. Thanks a lot to the Apache team.

Sorry, I must quote this. Completely unintelligible if you do not live in New Zealand. Completely unintelligible if you don't have a interest in NZ politics. Completely unintelligible after a dozen years. But extremely, extremely witty:

United cannot afford to be a lion on the beach and a lamb in parliament.

Richard Prebble in Letter from Wellington.

Released new software last Saturday: alpha 1.9.3 of eposix and version 0.5.2 of emc, my Bayesian antispam package for people who use an IMAP server and don't want to be tied to a particular email client.

Mark Steyn, brilliant as always:

To date, two US soldiers are believed to have succumbed to the heat in Iraq, whereas over 10,000 people have succumbed to it in France.

And what does Chiraq?

Jacques Chirac, en vacances just up the road from me in North Hatley, Quebec, took time out of his three-week holiday to issue a statement on events in Baghdad, where 20 people died on Tuesday. But he didn't bother to interrupt his vacation to issue a statement on events in France, where so many people have died, the funeral homes are standing room only and they're having to store bodies in the freezers at the fruit and veg markets.

And a big cause of this:

But Big Government inevitably diminishes its citizens' capacity to take responsibility, to the point where even your dead mum is just one more inconvenience the state should do something about.

This is so true. If you find this hard to believe, just work in a home for elderly people for a while:

"Some, he said, informed of the death of relatives, postponed funerals, not to interrupt the August 15 holiday weekend, and left the bodies in the refrigerated hall." Au bord de la mer? Ou au bord de ma mère? Hmm. Tough call.

Ben, I did not say that New Zealand is communist. In the past, the 80s and 90s, New Zealand did really well. Currently we're number 21 or so at the OECD list. And dropping. The ruling party, The Party we might say, is debating to take away property rights. They attempt to abolish the court of last appeal, the Privy Council. Soliciting is now legal. Crime has never been so high. You see, they're hard at work at solving this countries most pressing problems.

And about communism? Don't get me started at people who say we haven't seen real communism or socialism or whatever crap yet and that the USSR was not the true example of that. Yes, let us see real communism. What will that be? 1 billion dead people instead of the 100 million attributed now to this philosphy?

The issue is if the state knows better to spend your money than you or me. Heck, without guns, socialism wouldn't work. Only with the threat of force they can conduct this experiment. Look at the heavy handed way the Auckland Regional Council responds: we will sell your house if you don't pay. I assume it's still better than a labour camp. But if they had that option, they would mention that as well I'm sure.

What about a system where you pay for the services you get? If you want a car, you buy it. If you don't want a car, you don't buy it. If you use the road, you pay for it. If you don't use the road, you don't pay. If you want to go to a concert, you pay for it. You don't go? You don't pay. Easy. Fair. Weeds out a lot of stuff nobody wants.

What kind of government is prepared to take away the last money of its elderly? To force them to pay hundreds to thousands of dollars more every year for services they don't use and pet projects they never will profit from? This absolutely baffles me. But one calls it fair.

To the defence of the socialists, I must say that even they are opposed to the new rates system. Probably because the people who give us jobs, pay less in the new system.

Tried to improve the HTML interface for my legacy integration engine the last two weeks. Javascript compatibility between the three major browsers, Mozilla, Opera, and IE is still low, very low. Gave up on Opera 6 and bought Opera 7. A lot better. What was interesting is that it is possible to do some nice tricks in HTML now. Refreshing comboboxes for example without resubmitting a form.

Expect to see a lot more Javascript the next weeks. Have to write some tree mapper window or field to field mapping code with it.

Joab Jackson has written a good article about Eiffel. When he approached me, I admit I was a bit sceptical what kind of article it would become, but it's good and complete. Job well done.

Gone live with a FAQ about the protest against the ARC rates increase. The ARC has hit the poor and elderly especially hard. If you are on a pension and you suddenly have to pay hundreds of dollars, or even more, every year, imagine that! No way to increase your income, or perhaps you can work at McDonalds or so. And the rates will go up the next 7 years. Anyway, that's the idea. This council will be voted away in the biggest turnout next year. But the protest wants to have the rates reset this year. I'm quite confident that goal will be reached. There's just too much socialism and communism in New Zealand at the moment. Why can't the government leave people alone to live there own lifes and catch some criminals for a change?

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