15 November 2007


A survey of the spam situation on my main Email address:

Orange, my ISP, stores Email in a webmail system before I collect it with my regular Email program, Thunderbird. It has an optional spam filter. Yesterday there were 7644 Emails in its 7 day Junk folder, 45/hour. About 3/hour get through.
There are very few false positives, mostly receipts for shopping online. Orange also seems to use an IP blocking database, so I've had to whitelist a few friends.

What Orange misses are recent spam types such as Image only, so I have my own filter built in to Thunderbird, which reduces that 3/hour to 3/day.

Googling around I found that resetting Bayesian filters and giving them fresh spam to eat can help. So I have, and we'll see if things improve.

26 October 2007

Halloween updates

In a 26 October 2006 post I noted that an AVG anti-virus program update had fixed some Email problems. It just happened again! Spooky...

The latest AVG update (7.5.503) appears to have not only restored the Email scanner without disabling PGP but also cured the problem I was having with not being able to send Emails via my ISP's server, though weirdly the Google Gmail server was fine. I've had my Email accounts happily Emailing each other PGP encrypted messages anyway.

08 September 2007


This Orange Multi Media Message was sent wirefree from an Orange MMS phone.

Blogged from the pub! Back home, here's another - Gingernut modelling an XL Clambake shirt.

Reports elsewhere, but it was an uneventful event.

28 August 2007

Hello world

...or blog anyway.
Having acquired a camera/phone/txt/USB/blog/Email thing, I spend a happy weekend persuading it to do so, acquiring another pageful of passwords, secret codes and stuff along the way.

Facebook cleverly cross referenced my mobile number which it knew with the number of the phone that was calling it and linked up without needing confirmation. Clever but spooky as it didn't tell me it could do this.

Blogger wouldn't reply though. It seems Orange affix the international code when messaging abroad and then won't accept incoming messages using that code, which is dumb. I had to Email Blogger for help, which they quickly provided.

PC Interface OK, except that it wants to Synchronize with programs I don't use. Oh well, at least deleting messages is a lot easier on a PC monitor than on a phone screen.

23 August 2007

False positive

For the first time in Vista, AVG found a virus this week. Or... it was a trojan in the DLL and EXE for a popular install program, so I had several copies scattered in Temp folders going back six months to the modem driver install. That seemed unlikely.
There are several online virus checkers for suspicious files. I tried a couple and the files came up clean, so this was an AVG only alert.
I typed the name AVG came up with into Google, and several forums were discussing Generic6.UMS already. It looked to be a 'false positive', an error which we'd all downloaded with that day's AVG auto update, and sure enough the next day's update removed it.
So AVG working correctly then, and this is the first time I've had it do this. I expect there are lots of reformatted hard drives and new installs out there now!

21 August 2007

Medieval II - Total War (2)

The default shortcut provided goes to Launcher.exe, a small program that accesses the Internet to provide details of updates and mods. Unfortunately Launcher on Vista takes 50% of CPU doing absolutely nothing and the main program fails to unload it, even when exited. It has to be turned off using Task Manager.
The solution is to create a shortcut to medieval2.exe.

Creative's sound driver for Vista remains buggy after 9 months, they seem to be unable to fix it. They did come up with an EAX patch, so that kind of works with Windows and more importantly with the range of games that don't have a 'plain vanilla' Soundblaster setting such as Medieval II. And then, knowing they had hordes of pissed off customers of Mongolian proportions, they charged $10 for it.

The game? It's fine, lots of epic battles.

Another rabbit hole

A favorite website of the anti-Scientology crowd is Religious Freedom Watch (RFW), a 'Dead Agent' website which vilifies enemies of the Church of Scientology. It is so nasty and over the top that only crazy culties could imagine that anyone aside from themselves would believe it.

This month a blog appeared here called joelphillipsreligiousfreedomwatch. It purports to be written by Joel Philips, the owner of RFW, though the contents suggest it is a parody of Mr Phillips' rantings. I assume this is the material referred to on RFW's front page under the 'Harassment Notice' header, wherein Mr Philips denies being the author.
The first post on the blog, 'Why I Hate Russia', first appeared elsewhere, causing speculation as to whether it was genuine or just disinformation.

So is this another rabbit hole? We have a reference to Wiccans, Indonesians and Russians. The Wiccans, two people claiming to be British black witches who have posted to ARS for several years threatening to cast spells on cult leaders, would seem to predate RFW. Certainly Mr Phillips, happy to attack others, reacted immediately to their brief attack on him by offering a still valid reward of $5,000 for information about them.
The Indonesians and Russians look to be part of the blogger's alternate reality, not Mr Phillips'. But maybe the blogger is just throwing us clues...

How did I find out about this blog? I had an Email from Joel Phillips!
"Hartley you should update your FAQ about these people. Joel"

08 August 2007

More fun in space

My carebear trader character is leaving a totally safe space station in her cargo ship. But nowhere is safe in Eve...

Oriella undocks, a small ship warps in and blinks red at her

[ 2007.05.06 12:36:44 ] (notify) ACiD360: You have foolishly engaged in criminal activity within sight of sentry guns and must suffer the consequences.
[ 2007.05.06 12:36:46 ] (notify) ACiD360's Ishtar has started trying to warp scramble you.

WTF? I'm taking damage, but not a lot. Maybe I should repair shields or something? Oh nevermind, here they come...
A squad of police ships warp in.

[ 2007.05.06 12:37:06 ] (notify) CONCORD Police Captain has started trying to warp scramble ACiD360's Ishtar


ACiD360 > lol
ACiD360 > damn
ACiD360 > this aint lowsec
ACiD360 > im so stupid
Oriella Trikassi > er.... yes
Oriella Trikassi > especially against a transport
ACiD360 > yep
ACiD360 > shit happens^^
Oriella Trikassi > nearly spilt my beer there

21 July 2007

Another Joanna blog

Documentary video vlogger talent appears to be on a networking MySpace lookalike called Ning. It has three members who may not be real, but the fourth is Joanna. She has several posts which seem to lie chronologically between the original set and Deconstructing Judas, June 3-14th. They talk of making videos about her obsessions.

03 July 2007

More from beyond the veil

Deconstructing Judas is a second blog from the author of Babble's evil twin, see earlier entry.

The supposed author now believes Judas to have been an earlier incarnation of L Ron Hubbard, whereas her ex or possibly fantasy lover was Adam, St John the Evangelist and Ludwig II of Bavaria.

I remain fascinated and puzzled. Who else could possibly be reading these blogs? What are their purpose? Is this one of those Alternate Reality games that I've stumbled into? The Game is a favorite movie of mine. And Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius a favorite story.

The first blog is presently invited access only.

16 June 2007

Safari for Windows

Apple’s Safari for Windows wins first battle in browser war

Microsoft Windows users are rapidly downloading Apple’s Safari Internet browser, with more than 1 million downloads in the last 48 hours. But will this be enough to compete against Internet Explorer and Firefox?

So I did too, but because that will enable me to check webpages I've written with Safari which is the most used browser on Apple computers. I'm assuming the actual HTML/CSS coding is the same between Windows and OSX of course.

Javascript isn't working properly yet, otherwise everything looks OK.

13 June 2007


"You should be on Facebook", The Guardian said.

So after an hour wrestling with yet another bloggy interface I am, but no you can't see it unless you too have a Facebook page and we are friends. That's how networking works. You can see the Photo Album bit of it though, with some annotated picket pictures.
In a narcissistic piece of programming you can also get your blog to copy onto Facebook automatically, so this note entry will shortly be appearing there.

You can also check your Address Book to see who is already on Facebook. To my surprise, some people were...

Medieval II - Total War

I buy computer games rarely since I prefer open ended long lasting ones, just Civ IV and Zoo Tycoon 2 recently. However the local wargames group said it was best thing since Attila the Hun...

Vista note: it's fine. It guessed my optimum settings wrong and the sound was stuttering, but I knew what that was - as previously noted the Creative audio driver doesn't like pushy graphics. Dropping quality to medium cured the stutter and enabled me to push the resolution up to normal as well.

The graphics are impressive, whether the AI is as good remains to be seen. I seem to be winning but in the style of Pyrrus rather than Alexander.

08 June 2007


The Edinburgh Fringe will include a show from Collapsible Theatre:
Xenu is Loose is a new satirical Sci-Fi Musical based on the beliefs of the Cult of Scientology.

Jennifer, a young, beautiful high-school student finds her life transformed when she discovers the purifying power of L Ron. Hubbard's Scientology. But when Xenu, Alien Overlord and timeless nemesis of all that is good, escapes his ancient galactic prison; she and handsome Scientologist Troy must summon every ounce of cunning and resourcefulness to save the world from, like, Total Atomic Destruction.

A combination of live rock music, spectacular laser combat, cutting-edge multimedia projection and stunning design will make this the most exciting new musical on the fringe!

Good Grief. Is nothing sacred?

06 June 2007

Babbles has an evil twin

Barbara 'Babbles' Schwarz is alt.religion.scientology's mad baglady:

Yes, I know the Wikipedia article looks like fiction, but it's real.
Now we have a parody blog, written in an alternate universe by 'Joanna':

This is wonderful stuff. 'Joanna' is fixated on 'Mark Rowberry', which is an amalgam of two well known names in Scientology. His photo website is

She met Mark in 2001, and believes that Hubbard is controlled by Jesus.
They are all out to get her of course.

Whoever is writing this knows all about Scientology and Babbles. She knows about England, lots of local references - I live a few miles away. It's recent, with references to Panorama. And I've *no* idea who did this.

27 May 2007


I forgot to blog this, it actually happened last month.
After several lengthy cutouts my broadband connection finally went down altogether. The modem diagnostics program said I was 'desynchronized'. So I phoned the Orange call centre, and after the usual long list of irrelevant questions we came to 'do test'.
"The test says your connection is desynchonised'.
[Yes, that's what I said half an hour ago]
"I am going to ask BT to do an intrusive check. Please leave your modem plugged in and switched on but do not try to connect for four hours".
This worked fine, evidently the BT Engineer located the fault. Orange even phoned me the next day to make sure I was indeed synchronised again.
Call centres do work, you just need the patience of a saint.

Where does that expression come from? Saints were often irritating, impatient and eccentric people who annoyed the regular clergy no end.

22 May 2007

Did we not kill them?

How do I introduce this one? It's a conversation overheard on a chat channel within Eve, my online game. In a star system in a distant galaxy two spaceship pilots are in conversation, unaware that I'm listening...

KtB > Hey sam :)
sammual > hye man
KtB > How ya doing
sammual > great u
KtB > not bad not bad man
sammual > cool
KtB > Right, when i say :)
sammual > kk
KtB > rdy?
sammual > ye
KtB > hardeners on.
sammual > ye
KtB > Go go go

{they set off bombs in the hope of blowing up larger ships in a surprise attack. This alerts Concord, the police, who warp in and blow their ships up. They are now, Darth Vader style, in their escape pods}

sammual > argh
KtB > Lmao!
KtB > did we not kill em?
sammual > er no
KtB > eh lol
sammual > damn
KtB > have you gotta target em? lol
sammual > i dunno
sammual > maybe
KtB > holy shit look at concord lol
sammual > lmao
KtB > lmao
KtB > eh wtf
sammual > k lets go back to station
KtB > lol
sammual > lol
KtB > confused lol
KtB > erm
KtB > ive got a mining drone
KtB > stuck to my pod
sammual > lmao
KtB > :S
KtB > can you see it?
KtB > look at me when ya get to station
sammual > man we suck
sammual > lol
KtB > haha i know lol
KtB > how did it not work :S
sammual > dunno

{and this is why I play these games!}

16 May 2007

1 second of fame

Yes, I was there on the Monday 14th edition of Panorama. Near the end, the guy in the red anorak and placard in Tottenham Court Road picketing the Scientologists. And I've spent the past two days trying to keep a webpage up to date with the storm that resulted which shows no signs of dying down.

It was worth it though. To be accused of being 'orchestrated' by the BBC was hilarious.

29 April 2007

YouTube - Scientology Yellow Tent

YouTube - Scientology Package

This is an excellent Video from Josh M Peterson in which he visits the Volunteer Minister Yellow Tent that tours around the world advertising the Church of Scientology.

14 April 2007

Vista Aero

Aero is a fancy GUI for Windows that is optional for Vista. Switching it off seems to have cured several persistent bugs for me, as well as freeing up a chunk of memory.

The Creative Audigy soundcard had a stutter that became continuous when running DirectX in a window. It's gone.
Firefox had a nasty though infrequent memory leak that became a disk rattling virtual memory fight after a few seconds. It seems to be gone.
The Internet connection has almost stopped dropping out.

22 March 2007

Vista modems

The saga continues...
I have an old 'green frog' Speedtouch ADSL modem that is not going to have Vista drivers as part of the 'throw away your old junk, buy our new junk' drive. So I bought a cheap Zoom ADSL and downloaded their just out of Beta Vista driver. The install notes were long and if followed exactly worked.
Except that the line kept dropping. I tried this and that and the other, until one day I plugged into a different USB port... and the dropouts stopped.
I poked around in Device Manager. There are two USB Hubs on my machine, one 'full speed' the other 'high speed'. That must mean 1.1 and 2.0 USB. I'd switched to 1.1 - the slower connection!
The Data Rate meter says I'm not losing out, so I plain don't understand this one. I have the current Speedtouch modem on its way and its Beta driver ready and waiting, but I may have wasted my cash on it.

So all I need now is... more memory. 1Mb plainly isn't enough, Civ IV and Vista start to fight over memory around 1950 game time. Eve isn't bothered, it used to memory leak but this has been stamped out.

14 March 2007


My power supply fried my motherboard. This was a sign from God, or possibly Bill Gates. I bought a Vista PC (Athlon Dual 3800, Nvidia 7300).

It's been a fun week. Vista is still in Gamma and I had some retro Blue Screens of Death and one total panic - I mean Vista panicked and wanted to System Restore, but I knew all it needed was a reboot.

Nvidia has a way to go. The current driver is slow, and DirX 10 has only reached the 8300. Setting for other than max Performance causes upsets. The Creative Vista sound driver stutters now and then but doesn't crash, and it can't cope with Direct Sound in a window at all.
There are no Vista modem drivers in the UK. I had to download... oh. I had to phone my sister and talk her through downloading one for me. "The one with the logo and the three green lights at the front please". Thank you Wendy, you were as always a treasure.

Some old peripherals are junk - Zip drive, scanner. One new buy I can recommend, an external USB hard drive case from X Craft. It whirred away transferring all my old data into the new machine very quickly.

On the software side, most XP programs just have mildly annoying bugs. AVG won't scan Emails, Firefox crashes now and then, Winamp won't Drag n Drop.

The big test was Eve Online. I went for the full 631Mb download, crossed fingers, and it ran first time. FPS are better but nothing exciting, and it seems stable. Full marks for the Devs there, though I gather it's pot luck with graphics cards still.

The GUI I'm just tinkering with, it is of course prettier but 430Mb???

01 February 2007

Xenu Day International!

Xenu Day International is on Saturday March 10th, 2007.

Are you a Xenu sympathizer? A drunk? An irate ex-scientologist? A freezoner? An ElRon apologist? A cacophonist? A Santarchist? A trouble maker?
Then XENU DAY Is just the event YOU'VE BEEN LOOKING FOR!

In the spirit of the Cacophony Society and Santarchy, a fun new yearly bar crawl and troublemaking event is planned for L RON HUBBARD'S birthday.

25 January 2007

iframe (2)

Firefox was happy with OBJECT menus, MSIE was not - it ignored target="_top" and thought I wanted to replace the menu with the page. Fortunately it did accept targetting with IFRAME.

And the really annoying bug in MSIE that keeps warning me about unsafe Javascript that becomes safe when uploaded is driving me nuts.

13 January 2007

iframe, scrollbars and mozilla

I wanted to embed a menu on all the pages of a website so I wouldn't have to change every instance of it. This can be done using IFRAME, but not content with that I wondered if it could be done with OBJECT since strict HTML doesn't have IFRAME.

It turned out to be possible:

<object data="sidebarframe.html">

The size of the object could be set in the website's Style Sheet. The problem then became the scrollbars that I didn't want. IFRAME has a scrolling="no" style setting, but OBJECT does not. Some CSS in the BODY of the frame solved that, complete with a Mozilla hack:

<style type="text/css">body {border:0; overflow:visible; }</style>
<style type="text/css">body {overflow: -moz-scrollbars-none;}</style>

10 January 2007

A very obscure bug

I found that bit of javascript that creates snow falling down the screen. Actually I found two versions, one had the snowflakes as tiny GIFs, the other as ASCII stars. Too late for this Xmas, but next year I'll be annoying people with them (they eat CPU time).

Except that the ASCII version didn't work in Firefox. After steadily cutting out the usual suspects - other javascript for example - the culprit turned out bizarrely to be the URL part of the DTD:
!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN"

So there you are, my first trivia for the year.