Jim's Inchoate Weblog
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hits since 18th June 2002
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We live in litigious times, so I should say that content reflects only my opinions!
Saturday September 13 2003
I used to use the nifty little free version of TheCounter on my old site. Sadly it seems the service is now defunct; there hasn't been a peep out of the statistics in months, and I've read elsewhere on the web that the whole service is in limbo. Shame. I think the era of free stuff on the web will be finite, as economics triumphs. Can't say I relish the prospect though. Wasn't this supposed to be the new egalitarian non-commercial frontier?
Posted at 10:26 pm by Jim Woods
Another nice urban exploration site.
Posted at 6:54 pm by Jim Woods
Friday September 12 2003
The free version of Blogger now has loads more features, and it was good before. A very painless way to get started blogging, if that's what you're after...
Posted at 8:37 pm by Jim Woods
1938 Homes and Gardens
Homes and Gardens ran a piece on Hitler's gaff in 1938, and here's the article (scanned). Oh dear oh dear. I bet they wish they hadn't been so complimentary about it now...
Not a bad shack though. Reasonably enough, it was demolished utterly after the war.
Posted at 2:07 pm by Jim Woods
I'm borrowing and recording with, with a view to buying, a Yamaha APX4A guitar at the moment. I always have good luck with Yamaha kit, of which I've had a fair bit, and this is no exception. It's as close to an acoustic lead guitar as I've ever seen, and I love it. If it sounds like your cup of tea, this is the tool.
Posted at 1:42 am by Jim Woods
Thursday September 11 2003
I am adding to the princely total of one article in the articles section by tarting up my recent rant on basic computer security. It'll be in much the same vain as my article on simplest-possible web design. And it'll be de-ranted in order to be more of a reference to the uninitiated and less a venting of my capacious spleen. I reckon it'll take me a few days (busy at the moment) to rewrite it, after which you'll find it with what I can now begin to refer to, optimistically, as the rest.
Posted at 9:10 pm by Jim Woods
Should you be moved to stick yourself up a mountain on the relative cheap this winter, you'll be interested to visit the Andorra portal. It's high in the Pyrenees, and the views both on approach and when you get there are amazing - I've been and I've seen and I'm saying.
Posted at 9:08 pm by Jim Woods
Wednesday September 10 2003
Hippies from Hell
You can freely download a 53-minute documentary about "a group of Dutch hackers, techies, artists, writers, and puzzlers" here. Very interesting stuff for anyone interested in hackers of the productive and creative type.
Posted at 1:31 pm by Jim Woods
Firewalls, eh? Dull as f*ck. The only neat thing is watching the toerags bouncing off them. If you can call that fun.
I've talked a little about firewalls here before, or at least I've talked about ZoneAlarm. ZA is free, and it works. Loads of people use it, independent reviewers rate it, and it passes the tests. Go to Steve Gibson for a scan to determine the state of your defences - you may be surprised. Now, the only thing that concerns me a little is that I seem to get badly-behaved Windows when I run ZA. Subtle stuff like sluggish response when doing certain things, inconsistently enough to make tracking the cause down a bit lateral. I'm sort of the kind of user who installs Windows (XP Pro for me) from a clean formatted hard drive and then installs a minimum of known good software step by step. I mean, we should all be like that if we want to know what's happening.
In practice I'm like the aforementioned paragon of computing virtue in a hurry. So I do the proper stuff - not throwing loads of stuff onto the system just because it's out there or I bought a magazine with a cd full of crap attached or my thieving mates want to give me kool warez. But I do need to get on, so sadly I really don't have the luxury of giving the whole shebang a good and varied runaround after every new install of a package. So I'm not pointing too bony a finger at ZA; the majority opinion is that ZA does the doings, but I'm not running it right now.
Sidenote: when I have a software orgy (as I did last week, you may recall) I have it in mind that I'll need to cleanly rebuild the system afterwards. So I do it as a burst of evaluation, then reinstall everything from the ground up. I mean, when I've got the time to sit about playing with loads of software I've also got four hours or so to clean my messes up afterwards. So no big deal there.
Anyway, firewalls. Windows XP comes with a firewall. It's even enabled by default when you create a new connection. So all well and good. I use it myself. But there is one snag. ICF, as Windows' Internet Connection Firewall is called, is completely effective at blocking incoming stuff. You have to do a little legwork to set it up to best effect, but it's not the end of the world. But what it does not do is exercise control over outgoing traffic. Which is to say that it will not prevent a nasty bit of software on your machine from sending what it likes out to the net at large. And there's plenty of stuff out there which kind of likes to sit on your machine and phone home. Could be logging your keystrokes to steal home banking logins or similar, could be telling someone where you're surfing, could be copying your email or raping your address book. Could be getting jiggy with your partner, but that's probably just me being alarmist. So we need to think more on this.
Advantages are that ICF is there (assuming XP, which I think at this point is what we all need, medievalists aside) and that it quickly and painlessly defends you from the outside in a stable fashion. But in order to rely on it we definitely need to know what's on the inside, and what it may do. In effect, this means being very careful about what we install. We should read up a bit, googling for background before installing a particular package. We should, as I'm always saying, run Spybot Search & Destroy as often as we can bear, particularly after installing anything. And keep it updated. Use a virus scanner.
Then and only then will you probably be all right just with ICF as a firewall.
Posted at 12:59 am by Jim Woods
My single-mother neighbour with the two noisy kids has sold her house. She was ok, and the noisy kids were harmless enough and quite charming. Trouble is that where I live is the kind of area where I'll no doubt get more yuppies for new neighbours :( They'll need to be tolerant and, well, deaf if they're to stay the course. I already have medium-scale war with one neighbour - her fault, ownership of stinking retarded noisy dog - and don't believe in fighting on two fronts.
Time will tell. Have acquired new guitar as first-strike weapon.
Posted at 12:55 am by Jim Woods
Tuesday September 9 2003
Today's selection of stuff
Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving is a vast resource, with good advice and LOADS of stories and articles; he's based in Sydney Australia, and there's really comprehensive stuff on the wrecks around New South Wales. Don't miss the Pacific dives either though, and in particular Bikini Atoll! Have a look at the picture on this site, and bear in mind that it's reality and not star trek - a must for retro style aficionados. Here's an article from Kansas on some really splendid weirdness. You'll have to read it to see what I mean... And finally HouseCall; this is an online virus scanner, should you need such a thing. Can't be too careful.
Posted at 10:59 am by Jim Woods
Monday September 8 2003
Two things I should have said about NoteTab, which you may recall is my top recommendation for simple HTML editing as well as all other text-editing jobs:
Firstly, it takes some of the sting out of using and scripting Windows' own text-mode FTP client. Simplicity and efficiency freaks will be clutching at their trousers with excitement over this. I am. A bit.
Secondly, don't miss the photo galleries of various places on the NoteTab site. Some great pictures of Scandinavia in particular.
Posted at 6:02 pm by Jim Woods
Dshield's a useful security resource. It's a site where people running firewalls can share information on intrusions, with a view to keeping better tabs on the threats that are out there. You can also look up whether or not your address has been logged as an attacker, thus establishing whether you're wormed up or not... There's also a really good little primer to introduce you to how the internet works.
Posted at 2:25 pm by Jim Woods
Sunday September 7 2003
I'm concentrating on some stuff that's not online at the moment, astonishingly, so it'll be a bit quiet here for the next few days. Or maybe not. In any case, I put up enough stuff last week to keep you in reading for a while I hope.
Posted at 1:43 pm by Jim Woods