+++*

Symbolic Forest

A homage to loading screens.

Blog : Posts tagged with ‘internet’

Bank holiday weekend

In wich we know what people were looking for

The great thing about a three-day weekend is that it means you can fit two days’ social events into the weekend, and still have a day over to relax and recover before getting back into the office. And, of course, to try and make sure you have plenty of blog posts in draft ready for the following week.

In the meantime, it’s been a while since we’ve had Search Request Round-Up. So, here are some of the better ones:

did nostradamus predict bird flu – no.
have you tried turning it off and on again – ohhh, yes. Many, many times.
takin over the asylum dvd – I have no idea if it’s been released or not, but it definitely should be, and I’d buy it if I found a copy.
not to be loose or hump shunted is a phrase you see painted on the sides of railway wagons. In essence, it means “careful – don’t bash it about”.
rachel whiteread cubes what will happen to the – I’d assume they’ll all be melted down, because they do look recyclable. Unless, of course, anyone has a spare derelict power station to re-erect it in.
has suzie dent got a boyfriend? – I really have no idea. Try asking Des Lynam.
how do you make chocolate cornflake cake? – I can’t remember the details, but essentially you just mix cornflakes and melted chocolate, and try to resist eating the mixture before it sets.
pasquale’s italian edinburgh – I don’t think we ever did work out if Pasquale’s chippy on Clerk St – the one all the students bought their deep-fried confectionary from in my day – is still there or not.
photograph of drunk people on glasgow underground – I know I, for one, have been drunk on the Glasgow Subway, so they can’t be in that short supply
local paper cleckheaton – I assume it’s covered by the Huddersfield Daily Examiner. Don’t believe everything you read in the papers, though.

And that’s enough of that for a bit.

Viruses, and other geekery

In which we still have no satellite internet, and encounter a virus

Quite a few people, recently, have come to this site looking for information on Aramiska, the European satellite ISP which apparently collapsed last week. Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be any information, anywhere. The company promised to release a statement on January 30th; it never appeared. Their disappearance is still a mystery.

Moving on, this email came in to one of our work addresses yesterday:

I noticed whilst browsing your site that there were problems with some of your links, when I tried again with Internet Explorer the problems were not there so I assume that they were caused by me using the Mozilla browser.

Very nice and helpful, you might think.* However, if you read on, you might get a little more suspicious…

I have enclosed a screen capture of the problem so your team can get it fixed if you deem it an issue.

Hah. If you’re not suspicious yet, you probably shouldn’t be allowed near the internet. If you look a little closer, the attachment is a .scr file – which could, I suppose, look like “screenshot” to the non-technical. If you try to open it,** then: congratulations, you have a virus, one known as W32/Brepibot. It’s a “backdoor”, a tool that then enables hackers to connect into your computer and harness it for their own nefarious purposes. Well done.

* As our work website was designed by an apparently-clueless PR chap with no previous knowledge of website design at all, it is also entirely believable.

** and you’re using a Windows computer, and don’t have up-to-date virus protection

Out like a light

In which the internet disappears without warning

At the office, our main internet connection for many years has been a satellite broadband link, from Dutch company Aramiska. When the directors first wanted broadband, it was the cheapest solution. It’s slower than ADSL, and a lot more expensive,* but it’s still more reliable. Well, it was, until this rather surprising email arrived this morning:

We regret to inform you that Aramiska and its services are shutting down and the company will be unable to provide you with internet access after today, 27th of January 2006

Yes, that is the entire email.** It’s repeated on their website as a Customer Care Announcement, but otherwise their website is up as normal. They’re not answering the phone. Noone seems to be able to find out what has happened. Their executives have promised a statement next week, but for now they’re not admitting anything.

Luckily, we have – I mean had – two broadband links at head office now. So, after a bit of reconfiguration,*** I think we’re safe now. I feel sorry for the people in my position who didn’t have a fallback, though.

* Several thousand pounds a year – but it’s still the cheapest option in some rural areas.

** And it turns out that not everyone received the email, even.

*** Geek footnote: our main problem was that all our MX records pointed to Aramiska’s SMTP relay. In fact, they still are, even though we got on to our registrars about it this morning. They’d better sort the bloody thing out.

Microsoft accuracy

In which we check the junk mail folder

Bill Gates clearly knows what he’s talking about. Two years and one day ago, he said that by now, email spam would no longer be a problem.

To be honest, in one way he’s right. Junk email isn’t actually a problem for me, personally. Not because it’s disappeared, though, but because I changed my address. I still have the old address – for a lot of people it’s the only contact info they have for me – but I rarely use it. I skim through it about once a week, or so, to see if there’s anything important in it.

The reason I stopped using it: even with filtering, it gets too much spam to be usable. Altogether, it gets around 100 to 150 junk mails per day. Whether that counts as “no longer a problem” in Bill Gates’ terms, I’m not really sure. Somehow, though, I think he’d probably admit that his prediction was slightly off.*

* and, to be fair, in the past few years, Microsoft has been putting a lot of time, money and effort into suing professional email spammers out of business.