August 2003 Archives

For techies

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It's been a while since the last (boring) technical post, so I decided to come up with some new things.

This is might be intersting for techies that often find themselves using notepad, yet miss some functionality. A couple of months ago, I ran across Metapad 3.5 thanks to someone at a technical forum recommending it. I downloaded it, played around with it for a while and promptly forgot about it. However, because I needed "line count" ability for the second part of this techy post - neither notepad nor wordpad have that function - I remembered Metapad.

After using it for a few minutes I decided to replace notepad completely and use metapad instead. Since I don't really like using "Open With" all the time, I completely replaced notepad.exe with metapad. Works like a charm and as predicted in the Metapad FAQ, Windows XP complains about an unknown system file but you can easily make it accept the replacement. If you find yourself using notepad to code quick snippets of anything, or use it as a quick 'n dirty debugger, definitely check out Metapad - you'll be amazed by it's extra functions!

Secondly, I upgraded popfile 0.19.0 to 0.19.1 and performed the MailWasher Pro hack again (to prevent either no history, or too much history and double entries) but apparently something went wrong as MW seems now unable to retrieve messages through the PF proxy. Weird! Either I find out what the problem is, or I revert back to 0.19.0 (I've done some tests and went back to 0.19.0 for the time being - even without the MW hacks it didn't seem to work).

This means nothing to meeeee

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ooooh Vienna, pom pom... Sorry, I was just singing along with Ultravox and I happened to type what I was singing. Yeah, weird indeed.

Just so that you all know : I'm gonna win the lottery tonight. If you wanna risk your life and grab those 2 million euro, well you're risking your life. Don't come crying that you weren't warned!

Nadia and Jay : you two are obviously not very creative thinkers. That photo of Britney and Madonna is hot. Don't try to think of the video or TV images you've seen of it - just let the emotions and visuals of the photograph sink in.

Jay : I don't care whether or not you sound or don't sound queer - which makes me wonder if that sounds any different from anybody else? - but you're saying the picture doesn't do anything for you "because you know it's Madonna and Britney". Would that mean that two other (or unknown) women kissing would do something for you? Hey, this is a legit investigation and question.

Nadia : If I'm correct you mean to say that exactly because they go for the "shock effect" it loses its shock value? Almost like it was expected in a way? Oh, and the question that I asked Jay, can be answered by you as well :)

Ok, what else? Nothing. In the neeeeeem of loooooofffffff, whaaaat mooooore in the neeem of lof... (U2 playin', did you notice?)

MTV VMA (can it get more cryptic?)

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Apparently Madonna kissed both Britney and Christina during her American Life performance. While everyone (should) know that it's done for the "shock value" and just to boost sales, I wonder who is shocked about it in this day and age? Even if it's just marketing - apparently the rule of thumb is "You can kiss girls all you like, but if you don't eat pussy, you're not a lesbian" - you gotta admit that the photo is hot - and in 1024x768 wallpaper format size as well ;).

As some comments were made in regard to biometrics and passports, it really got me thinking. How far will they (government, police, data gatherers) go, and how far will "we" let them go? How valuable is your privacy?

It's all those little things that add up to a complete profile of your life : who you are, who you meet and how you think. Our lives are being mined, and to be honest : I think I'm more than just another resource.

Passports with biometrics - I got a little carried away earlier on - will be the answer to fraud, deception and abuse, at least if you believe the arguments. Arguments given by governments that "spice up" reports concerning weapons of mass destruction, censor the investigations regarding the september 11th attacks on the WTC. Let's presume that all the arguments are valid, that iris-scans, fingerprinting and - why the hell not - DNA profiling is embedded in the passports. What happens if the system goes down? No iris-scan available, fingerprints can't be checked... however, a security officer can still manually verify a photograph.

I'm a terrorist, I grow up in a rogue state and my family and relatives all know I'm going to be a terrorist. Now, I can go totally undetected and not register for any government issued proof of ID, so they won't even know I'm alive. Or I could emigrate to some country that is flooded by economic and political immigrants every year, and with some careful planning and a good story I can assume pretty much any identity I want. This includes getting a passport with every security measure embedded. Did the system fail? Not at all, because all these safety procedures are active. However, I've beat the system right from the beginning. There is no such thing as 100% safety, nor matter what you invent.

I did a very quick check on the web in regards to fingerprinting, and this is the first article that shows up : Doubt case on fingerprint security. Sure, experts will say that it's an old study (May 2002) and that modern systems cannot be fooled anymore in such ways. Do you think those who are out to beat the systems have been sitting on their ass all that time? As systems are improved, so do the ones beating the system.

What I'm trying to tell you, is that the only one suffering from these "high security" procedures is you. The professionals will always slip through the mazes of the net.

The most common argument that comes up at this point is "Why are you against it? If you have nothing to hide, you don't have to be scared about it". It's the mother of all arguments I guess, since it cannot be fought with logic, as it is a subjective statement. What exactly is scared, or afraid? It would be different for everyone and this not really definable.

And let's take a look at the "nothing to hide" part of the argument. What exactly is "nothing to hide"? If I go out during the day, drink a whole lot of beer, do I want to have CCTV following me throughout the city? Do I want to be seen entering a bar? Do I want people seeing what I buy in the supermarket? What I do and how I live is my business.

The same goes for governments intruding in the personal relationships of people, but that's another story altogether. It all comes down to privacy and allowing others to monitor (and as such) control your life.

Think about it.

Around the world

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After the USA started forcing foreigners to comply with their new biometric visa program in April 2003 (under the Homeland Security Act of 2002) the UK has now followed and has started a test period in which all visa applications done in Sri Lanka will need either fingerprints, iris or facial recognition scans. Starting 2005 all UK passports should included biometrics.

One could say that it is just technological advances being used in everyday life. Although I'm not too sure about the actual data being gathered, it is of course open for discussion. Some see Big Brother (and I'm not referring to the popular TV show) appearing clearly in the sky - and not with any diamonds surrounding him either - whereas others see nothing but the benefits. Open for debate, no doubt about it.

However, there are some weird things going on as well. As of August 15th, all Canadians who wish to receive a passport should present a photograph in which they show a "neutral" look. In other words : they are not allowed to laugh, smile of frown their eyebrows on a passport photograph. I'm sure the idea behind it all it to prevent anyone from being joyful and have a good time while travelling. After all, you don't want anyone looking happy in your airports, do you?

Papers, papers, papers

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It's a few minutes past 12, yet I have already accomplished some things. Yes, I know... I'm good :)

First I went off to get an unemployment stamp, then I dropped in at the ABVV office to have some questions answered and pick up some documents. I stopped over at a small shop to have some photocopies made, which I needed later on.

When I got home, I checked the mailbox and it contained the tickets for Saltimbanco (yeah!) so no worries there. The new Ecopower PowerPost was in the mail as well, and it also contained an proposal to use them as an energy supplier. They've got a rather interesting tariff, but it's only available to stockholders for now, and after some calculations I made I've come to the following conclusion : unless you use less than 2000 kWh/year, Ecopower is not really interesting. If you use less, it is very interesting due to the fact that they don't have a fixed fee.

Next was a letter to RVA because I needed to supply them with proof that I filed a claim against my former employer, and that FSO has received such a claim. That's the reason I needed those photocopies made. I've learned my lesson : never send original documents! Which reminds me : If any of my former colleagues read this (and I know some do), keep in mind you might still have to do the same! Sure, there is still enough time, but why not do it right away if you got all the documents. I used the "extract" of the ruling of the Court of Commerce I received a few weeks ago, and the note from FSO stating they received my claim as proof.

I think those statements should be enough. Questions? You know where to find me!

The Dream Team

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Smirnoff Black Ice and ServMe Bald Head join forces

Belgium, Antwerp. For immediate release. - Today definite proof has come forward that the rumours are true after all. The relatively new and hip drink Smirnoff Black Ice had been reported in the vincity of ServMe Bald Head on numerous occasions, but never was there such undeniable proof of them teaming up. One of our undercover photographers was able to capture the moment on film seconds before an alert ServMe Bald Head noticed and chased our photographer away. She got away unharmed and with the proof presented below.

Neither Smirnoff nor ServMe - owner/operator of the infamous friedkitten.com website wanted to make official comments when confronted with the photographic evidence. Inside sources however claim that ServMe Bald Head is looking for at least one more bald partner in crime. Since we were not able to get any official statements from ServMe, we can only make an estimated guess :

The most probable individual to team up and become partner in crime would be the infamous Joco, who was last reported to be deep into financial transactions for an international organisation. However, there might be some small problems that need to be overcome before he can join The Dream Team. Reports have shown that the E.E.F (Enhanced Erotic Female) might not yet be satisfied with the required changes.

We have had the chance to take a look at some yet-to-be-published studies, which show that self-induced baldness is an extreme turn on for many hot women. Whether this argument might convince the E.E.F to agree with Joco joining The Dream Team, or that it is exactly the cause of the delay, remains unknown. (From our reporter : F. Ake)

Smirnoff Black Ice & ServMe Bald Head join forces

There you go...

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It is gone, happy now?

Convention Report

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As promised, a short overview of my experience at the Good-Fellas 2nd Tattoo Convention, Arnhem 2003.

HighLevel picked me up at 10h30, and after a drive of just under two hours we arrived in the city of Arnhem. It took us some time to find the exact location of the convention, as neither of us had written down the address. When we found the Musis Sacrum location, we immediately noticed a lone line of people waiting to get it. The organisation was prepared for it though and they had a second person selling entrance tickets to allow people to enter faster. At an €12.50 entrance fee it wasn't cheap, but in hindsight, totally worth it. Three floors filled with booths, clothing books, where does one start?

We did a few quick rounds through the place to get familiar with the building and what we could find and seemed interesting. In the mean time we also kept an eye open for Sleeve and Dutchweirdo, and were looking for Calypso Tattoo because I knew Free was around. Of course Calypso Tattoo was at the top level, almost the last booth and while going back downstairs we ran into one of the first IAM people : Free. Chatted a bit and then went on our way looking at the rest of the things. Lots and lots of different artists, not only different in style, but also geographically different. We noticed shops from Germany, Holland (makes sense, since the convention was in Holland), Belgium, France, UK, USA, Switzerland, Argentina, Croatia, Scotland, Israel, Teneriffe, Austria, Australia and Borneo. And the Japanese artists (Hori Hiro, Yellow Blaze Studio, Horiwaka, Miyazo) did impressive work with their often manual inkings. It was fascinating to see the masters at work.

At 16h00 Mo'o (Mo'o Tatau) and Tuane (Stingray Tatau) gave a seminar about Maori, Polenesian and Samoan tatau and how the art originally given to women by the gods, has spread all over the world. Even though it was only about 1 hour long - due to the heat in the small room - they explained history, changes and differences in style, culture and related topics. Very very interesting and I was very glad I attended. More info about Ta Moko can be found at www.tamoko.org.nz - very interesting resource!

After meeting up with more IAM/BME people (Amen Ra and two of his friends, Nicaxed, Sleeve and Dutchweirdo) we called it a day around 19h00. Keep in mind that we entered the convention around 13h00, and not one second we were bored. Unfortunately, most of the photographs I took are fucked up due to bad lighting conditions and too much long distance shots (or too much zoom), otherwise you'd get some idea of the atmosphere. The traditional firedance performance (I seem to recall it was Thaitian?) was simply stunning as well.

A convention packed with culture, education and a wonderful mixture of the "old" ways and the "new" ways in regards to tatau/tattoo. I had a blast and will be going back next year!

Short update

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The tattoo convention was fabulous, I might write a longer entry about it tomorrow. However, I need some feedback on something else as soon as possible.

Those of you that know me in person, also know my current haircut - which is pretty short. However, short can always become shorter, so I wanted to know what shorter would be like. See for yourself (unless you're easily scared, don't click on that link. I'm no responsible for anything).

Now, my question is the following : short - shorter - shortest? Should I take out the trusted total shaving solution and razorblade and take it all off? A quick Yes/No in the comments section would be much appreciated!

Oh, no need to tell me I'm crazy insane or insane crazy... I am aware of that fact. It's just that I have nothing to take into account when taking decisions like this : I'm single, people are used to me with short hair, and I have no employer to bug me about it. And if it's really bad? It'll be back to my regular length in about a week, two weeks tops.

Fuck

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I just realized that the time HighLevel was gonna pick me up wasn't 09h30, but 10h30 instead. Oh well, only 15 minutes left to keep myself busy. I could have slept longer though, but since I'm (fully) awake now, it doesn't matter any more.

Another useless post brought to you by your friendly neighbor god geek.

Can someone open my eyes?

Fuck. I'm out of bed before 8AM on a sunday. I can't really call it awake, since I'm convinced my brain and eyes are still asleep. Prepping for the convention that I'm off to in about 2 and a half hour.

Gotta go to the bakery and pick up a bunch of "koffiekoekskes" for the Dutchies who don't have access to those fine things, at least not in the way we have. Showering, shaving and taking care of the ferrets is also on the list before I leave. I better hurry!

Scarlet is incompetent!

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I can't do much else but state it loud and clearly : avoid Scarlet (former Planet Internet) at all costs! While I haven't got a clue how "good" they are connectionwise as an ISP - I haven't used them over the past 2 years - but they certainly suck when it comes to mailservers and e-mail security.

I keep on receiving between 5 and 10 Sobig.F (or Sobig-F if you prefer) virus e-mail every few minutes. I've now contacted Scarlet/PI support to kill at least one of my aliases on the mailbox in the hope it'll at least diminish the constant stream of mails. Unfortunately, Scarlet/PI is unable (or doesn't want) to take acting against the virus, whereas they could easily block all mails containing a .pif extention at serverlevel. It would lower the irritation level of their customers, prevent bouncing the messages right back (more traffic), and prevent possible further spreading of the virus.

I know Belgacom/Skynet has implemented such a solution within hours after the mass mailing started, so don't tell me it's technically impossible.

My conclusion? Scarlet is incompetent!

Blue nosed reindeer

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My sleeping shedule is now officially totally fucked up, although maybe the fact that I was wakened by the mailman this morning could help me get it straightened out again. I usually go to bed somewhere between 01h00 and 02h00 but then keep on tossing and turning till at least 3 o'clock, if not later. Of course resulting in not waking up until noon, although usually I manage to be up by 9. I'm really really trying to get out of bed at a regular time, but sometimes I fail.

Something completely different now : yesterday I received a letter stating that the FSO received my claim concerning the paychecks and benefits my former employer still has to pay. It's actually good to know that they received everything, as that is a prerequisite for them to start looking into everything. The only thing that worries me is the following : "When the files of the company and your individual file are complete, we'll take a decision within 3 months."

I know for a fact that my dossier is complete, but I'm not so sure about the one of the company. With the amount of luck we've all been having lately, it'll probably turn out that some things are missing, only adding more time to the delay. Oh well, let's look at it from a positive point of view : they received everything, it's a start.

I'm really looking forward to sunday, when I'm off to the Good-Fellas tattoo convention in Arnhem, Holland. I'll be meeting up with HighLevel, Dutchweirdo, Inge, Sleeve, FREE and her husband Dan.

Now I'm off to read in my new book, "Water Wars : Drought, Flood, Folly and the Politics of Thirst".

Oh, just a quick question : is it impolite to blog while having breakfast? I know it's usually not such a pretty sight when talking and eating at the same time, but blogging and having cereal seems to mix quite well.

Mumble mumble

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I'm only awake for about an hour or so, maybe a tad bit longer and already I'm tired. What have I done in that short amount of time? Deleted mails, read some mails, answered some technical support question and chatted to some peeps. Nothing that makes your terribly tired, I agree.

OK, now to answer some questions that Shelley was wondering about. I used to be with ISP "A" when I first connected to the internet, now some 12 years ago. I still have that account and the webspace that goes with it. Some of my domains point to that webspace as well. A few years back I switched from dial-up to a DSL connection, and switched to ISP "B" because ISP "A" didn't offer DSL at that time. However, I had not cancelled my account at "A" since it was still in use.

Therefore I technically have two ISP's : one I recently started using and is my main connection to the internet, and the old one which still serves me mail (and mostly spam). Add to that 29 TLD domains, and about 11 ccTLD's and you can imagine the amount of crap flowing in every now and then. Luckily, a large portion of those domain are not (yet) developed and thus don't add to the problem.

Most of the domain related mail is forwarded, redirected and routed to other accounts, but I admit that I should really clean up some of the domains, change mail addresses and such. I could also drop ISP "A" since it's not really in use anymore, but the problem is that the mail address connected to that service has been used for a zillion things, and I don't recall all the passwords for those after 2 computer crashes and not feeling like recovering all the data.

This year I've been busy moving all domains to the same registrar (actually two since TLD and ccTLD are different) and only 1 webhost. I hope to have completed all of that mid next year. It would make things easier to handle. Then I suspect I'll drop ISP "A" as well.

Switch to webmail...

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Another tip to prevent downloading virus infected attachements - even if you are protected - is to switch to a webmail interface so you can do quick visual check on the mails waiting to be downloaded. Most - if not all - major ISP's offer webmail to their customers. It would save on network traffic and downstream volume, and thus be much faster.

I just noticed that Belgacom Skynet has implemented a "temporary" antivirus measure on their mailservers to prevent users downloading infected mails. If only Scarlet/Planet Internet would do the same. I just received 266 infect messages and it's been less than 2 hours since I last checked mail. I've reverted to webmail for all accounts for the time being.

Microsoft patches/updates for august 20th : 817778 (Advanced Networking Pack for XP SP1 - IPv6), MS03-33 (MDAC, rating : Important).

Scary? Sure!

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I just read an article over at The Register who picked up this : Slammer worm crashed Ohio nuke plant net, written by Kevin Poulsen of SecurityFocus. If you feel like reading the complete article, head over to either of both sites, but I'm gonna give you some excerpts (comments in between are mine):

...
From the business network, the worm spread to the plant network, where it found purchase in at least one unpatched Windows server. According to the reports, plant computer engineers hadn't installed the patch for the MS-SQL vulnerability that Slammer exploited. In fact, they didn't know there was a patch, which Microsoft released six months before Slammer struck.

How can anyone who claims to be a computer engineer responsible for a nuclear plant LAN not be at least aware of a patch???

By 4pm, power plant workers noticed a slowdown on the plant network. At 4:50pm, the congestion created by the worm's scanning crashed the plant's computerized display panel, called the Safety Parameter Display System.

Oh, it was only the display that went out?

An SPDS monitors the most crucial safety indicators at a plant, like coolant systems, core temperature sensors, and external radiation sensors. Many of those continue to require careful monitoring even while a plant is offline, says one expert.

Aha... the display who monitors critical safety indicators... oh, not important!

FirstEnergy declined to elaborate on the incident. The company has become the focus of an investigation into last week's northeastern US blackout. Though the full cause of the blackout has yet to be determined, investigators have reportedly found that it began when an Ohio high-voltage transmission line "tripped" after sagging into a tree. An alarm system that was part of FirstEnergy's Energy Management System failed to warn operators at the company's control center that the line had failed.

Hey, we couldn't see it! We may have caused a couple of million people to go through a blackout in the USA and Canada, but it was only our alarm system that failed. We think.

"I have not heard of anything like that," added Schneider. "The alarm system was the only system that was not functioning."

In that case, everything is OK I suppose.

Note : of the last 51 messages I noticed on my POP3 mailbox, 47 were virusinfected with Sobig-F. A staggering 92%! Could everyone PLEASE update their antivirus programs, signatures and patch their system - always a good idea. Thanks in advance, suckers!

Faster, Harder, Sobig!

Nice infection rate Sobig-F has... I just checked my mail and 53 out of a total 90 messages were virus infected. Luckily I'm well protected : the first anti-spam tool has a successful detection rate of 98.66%, combined with the second one it gives me a nice 100% and it's only after those two plus a visual check are passed that any mail is able to reach my inbox. Which is protected by a realtime virusscanner, and my mailclient is not one of the more common ones ie. Outlook/Outlook Express.

Anyway, here's a tip to recognize Sobig-F attachements easily : they all are around 100Kb and (currently) the mails use a multitude of subject lines. For a full list of details, check the link I provided in my previous post.

Dimi, while that IT manager will be in some kind of problem, he is sort of correct. It is a worldwide infection, but it can be fought successfully. Janssens Pharmaceutica for instance suffered from the Blaster disinfection worm Nachia (aka Welchia or Welchi) and had a bit of a hard time due to the extreme network traffic it caused on their networks, but they were able to contain and clean up.

As they admitted, due to their excellent and always on call IT departement they managed to isolate the problems quickly, but if it happens to a smaller company with no specialized IT staff, it's like shooting fish in a barrel.

New (cyber) terrorism

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While a new worm does it's rounds, spreading at an alarming speed, a truck filled with explosives has detonated in the United Nations Headquarters in Bagdad, Iraq.

While I can tell you how to clean up and prevent your computer from Sobig-F, I cannot do much about the physical attacks that are conducted throughout this world. However, one thing I know for sure : stating that the terrorists and their communities are fighting the civilised world is not the right solution. It is basically the same as saying that the terrorists are uncivilised, maybe even barbaric societies, and I doubt that is the right way to react to such an attack.

I'm sure that september 11th was a wake-up call for a lot of people, but it seems some still haven't gotten the message. So this is my message to dear president Bush :

By claiming to be a superior nation, policing the world as you see fit and crushing whomever you consider not walking in line with your subjective views of international politics, or calling them uncivilised, you are not helping anyone.

Unless of course todays "terrorist attack" on the UN headquarters was planned and financed by corporations and people who have a major interest in destabilizing that region even further.

Which reminds me : we are still waiting for an uncensored version of the reports of 9-11, and could you show us the weapons of mass destruction please? Right.

Start of rant

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Comment you fucking idiots! Even if you don't have anything interesting to tell me, use the damn comment function! After all, I don't expect anything intelligent from anyone, seeing as I don't write intelligent posts either.

End of rant.

To Do / Done

I worked through the mail that arrived today and did the following :

- filed my taxes (online)
- replied to a letter concerning employee benefits from Fortis AG
- Updated ABVV/BBTK concerning my current employment status
- Paid some bills

Things I still need to do :

- Get stamps and throw the letter to Fortis AG into the mailbox

The mailman had to work hard

Mailman just rang my bell to deliver some order - suprisingly, it was the amazon order I did last week. They gave me an estimated delivery date of september 1st - 16th, but the first part of it already arrived! Pretty cool, not?

Then there was some other mail, including a letter from the curator, but it didn't contain what I needed. He just confirmed in writing what paychecks I had received and what wasn't paid out to us. Not really much of a help because it still doesn't give me the necessary data to file a correct tax form. Oh well, I'll just file one on the data I have then and see what happens.

I also received 3 small booklets about energy saving in the household and during building and possible taxrefunds for those. I'll check them out later today.

Unrelated link : The United States of Whatever (Liam Lynch) [Windows Media Stream, 300K, 1.31 minute)

Gifts - Share knowledge

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I just did some international shopping for other people, and did some earlier this week for myself. If only I could remember what I ordered! Luckily Amazon.com has a nice feature to review your order(s). So, here are some details :

For Others :

On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society (Dave Grossman)
Building Stone Walls (John Vivian)
Landscaping for Wildlife (Carrol L. Henderson)

For myself :

ModCon: The Secret World Of Extreme Body Modification (Shannon Larratt)
Water Wars: Drought, Flood, Folly and the Politics of Thirst (Diane Raines Ward)

In case you wonder what else is on my Amazon.com whishlist, you can take a peek here. If you spot anything interesting and would like to suprise me with it, by all means, feel free to order it and ship it to me.

I just added some new titles that look very interesting to me... I love getting gifts, especially books.

Note : For non-american readers, you can also use Amazon.ca, or any Amazon branch closer to Europe, Belgium. Just send me a mail and ask for shipping details, as those sites will not recognize my amazon.com whishlist. If you can find a book on my list somewhere else, no problem. Just order it there, ship it to me and I'll remove the title from my whishlist manually. Mucho thanks in advance!

The ladies, Oh the ladies

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After working in the garden yesterday - not my garden - I totally crashed a few minutes past eleven last night. Very unlikely for me since I usually go to bed much later.

Maybe the combination of only sleeping 3 hours the night before - damn Vice City - getting up early and working all day long had something to do with it. Anyway, I thought I was would be able to catch up some sleep today but one of the neighbors was ringing my bell at 09h15, waking me from a sleep and a dream where I was doing all kinds of cool things, of which I now of course don't remember anything. But the ladies loved me...

Off to help out tomorrow

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Just got a mail a few minutes ago to ask me if I could help out at my dads place tomorrow, and whether I preferred early morning or later in the evening to avoid as much sun as possible. I just called my dad and told him to pick me up around 08h00 or 08h30. He almost fell off his chair :)

Yeah, we have a bit of a problem getting up early, but I figured that if he arrives around 08h30, we'll be at his place around 09h00 and when we're finally starting it'll probably be around 09h30. If we want to avoid the heat of the day, we shouldn't start much later.

And, by starting early we can complete some other less sweaty tasks in the afternoon in case those need to be done too.

Have you been loved today?

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In other words : have you noticed unusual behaviour on your Windows NT, 2000 or XP machine? Has RPC been giving you a hard time, rebooting your machine?

YOU FUCKING DESERVE IT!

Sorry, I had to get that out of my system. Let me explain :

- July 18th : MS issues critical patch for RPC vulnerablity (Win NT, 2000, XP and 2003)
- August 11th : Various antivirus institutions warn for W32/Blaster aka LoveSan
- August 12th : Lots of machines get infected and mainstream media broadcast warnings
- August 13th : even more dumb computer owners run into problems.

My advice? If you don't know how to operate a computer, or stay up to date, don't use it. However, not all is lost.

Step 1 : Download a little tool from the Sophos website (here)
Step 2 : Run the tool according to the instructions
Step 3 : Go to windowsupdate.microsoft.com and install all critical patches
Step 4 : Sign up for free for the Microsoft Security Bulleting (here)
Step 5 : Sign up for CERT advisories (Intended for professional IT admins)
Step 6 : If you run a *nix OS, laugh your ass off
Step 7 : If you patched your MS system on July 18th, laugh your ass off as well.

Now excuse me, I'm gonna continue to laugh my ass off. Yes, I can truely not feel sorry for victims right now. However, if you're stuck with it and I know you personally : gimme a call. I'll gladly help you out at my regular rates :)

Be Warned

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Today I received two letters from Domain Registry of America (aka DRoA) in which they reminded me that two of my domain names are "soon to expire". Actually, the first one would be due November 5th, the other one November 25th. If that is "soon to expire", why don't they send notices about domains that I recently renewed? Those are also "soon to expire"... in a year!

Anyway, there has been quite a fuzz about DRoA and them sending out letters trying to get people to transfer from their current registrar to them. I do admit the letters look (jpg format, 66KB) like a bill, but in at least two places they state "You are under no obligation to pay the amounts listed below, unless you accecpt this offer" and (in bold) "This is not a bill".

So, it's a bit of a shady setup : they make a (clear?) statement that it's just an offer and not an obligation, yet they make it all look like a bill. If you just skim through your mail without reading it, you'll probably fall for things like this. But then again, who pays bills (or things that look like it) without verifying they're legit? If you do, you're the idiot :)

Well, apart from the fact that I knew about the DRoA scam before I received these letters, they give it away themselves : They failed to include my complete address! Just a name and a town with a zipcode normally doesn't really benefit the case if you're trying to appear like a professional institution. How about including a street and number next time peeps?

So, should you get this kind of letters as well, read them closely and decide for yourself. Don't come complaining that you didn't know about it in advance, or that you failed to read the letter completely. I know some people have registered domains at various registrars, and if you want to move, just ask me. I'm used to this kind of stuff and can help you pick a registrar that doesn't walk a thin line.

Last but not least : the prices DRoA lists are twice as high as I what pay right now, and the registrars I use (both for TLD's as well as ccTLD's) are not the cheapest on the market, yet they offer excellent service.

Kim kicks some major ass

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Eat that Serena! Last night Kim Clijsters beat Lindsay Davenport - her sixth win this year - and moved straight to the number 1 position in the WTA rankings.

Additions

| 1 Comment

While doing some browsing, I ran into a few blog related sites that seemed interesting. I added a BlogChalk to friedkitten.com, and entered my data at BlogTV. The latter is not yet live but will be so on august 18th. Haven't got a clue what they'll be doing exactly, but if I don't like it, I'll just yank my data back out :)

Oh, and it's craptasticly hot once more : 33�Celsius and I'm really starting to dislike these high temperatures. Wednesday might bring some rain and thunderstorms, so if that happens I'm gonna be out, dancing in the rain.

I was bored, what can I say?

I say and you think...

01. Miss America:: Hollywood
02. Cherubs:: WTF?
03. Shark Week:: fun for all
04. Sunflowers:: Van Gogh
05. Sorority:: fun
06. Grilled chicken:: tasty
07. 100:: degrees
08. Tickle monster:: sex
09. Veronica:: TV
10. Slurpee:: Beekse Bergen

Festivals and techy stuff

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I just got back from the Willrock festival, which was kinda good. Didn't know any of the bands, and the headliners (Plastic Buddha) really sucked, but the group Humb was rather good. They really played the crowd and got the people up and moving in no time.

Afterwards we went out to get something to eat - pitta anyone? - and they went down to a coctailbar called "Sips" in Antwerp that Jess saw something about on ATV, a local TV station. The amount of different coctails they have makes it hard to pick one, but in the end we all made a choice : Joco had a Pinacolada, Jess settled for a Daiquiri, Johan got a plain coffee, Eef picked a non-alcoholic fruit-punch (she was our designated driver, thanks!) and I got a Kamikaze which consisted of Absolut Wodka lemon, Cointreau and lemonjuice. Pretty good thing!

I just got home, received a mail from Aaron at http://www.proles.net/ who has a problem with his blog and IE6 - it smudges when scrolling through it - and since he uses the same template as I do, although mine has been majorly hacked and tuned, he asked me for some advice. I took a look at his code and will check some more tomorrow. Unfortunately, we all know IE sucks major ass and when looking on the web for "IE6 + bug" you get a pretty much endless list :)

While browsing I did stumble upon an old post on Phil Ringalda's blog about problems when pinging weblogs.com and the quite common time-outs that have been occuring lately. I followed his advice and changed my setting from the default 15 seconds to 25 seconds. Look in mt.cfg if you feel like doing the same.

While at it, I also added a line in my preferences to ping blogrolling.com as well. The more pings, the merrier :)

Namedropping?

I'm less than an hour awake and I'm discussing recipes for Croque Monsieur, Croque Madame, Croque Canibale and Croque Hawaii with Dinacolada, a 17 year old woman living in Sydney, Australia.

In the same post were referrals to OpenOffice and how to run it in combination with an MS suite, but those were a reply to the tips of theSearcher (Canada) regarding that, and some questions about the OO HTML editor and the Arachnophilia HTML editor for Bigtattoo (USA). Now I'm gonna reply to an IM from ello (UK) about all kinds of things, since it was too late last night to continue the conversation (I went to be around 4, remember? I was 3 for her, as she lives in the UK).

What else is left? Amberfication (Melbourne, Australia) is waiting for a witty reply on what to name her mouse (tigerstriped) and it should preferably have something to do with Glassjaw, a band I've never heard of in my life. Since she doesn't know whether it's a he or a she mouse, that does complicate things slightly :)

Zzzzzz

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Fuck, I should really go to bed now... it's just past 3h00 and I feel my eyes closing down a bit more with each character typed. Screwed up sleeping shedule, me? Nah :)

Update : It's just past 4 in the morning and now I'm REALLY heading off to bed. Apparently, it seems like a family-wide thing we have - none of us go to bed early. Sleep tight lil' sis!

Battle for Protruding Nipples

Read this story and laugh out loud, or cry, as you see fit.

While you think it's funny it's pretty sad at the same time. How can a pair of nipples cause complaints or people to be offended? Come on, get a life! You got them, I got them, everybody has them!

I don't blame Angelina Jolie to be angry at the studio for - digitally - removing her nipples from the posters, she has nipples after all, why would she accept some dumb decision to "hide" them?

In support for all "real" people out there, I call upon thee : SHOW YOUR NIPPLES!

And to give this support-action a firm start - or drive it right into the ground - I'm gonna be the first one to post. Here are my nipples and I'm proud of them :

Battle for Protruding Nipples Gallery

Wanna join the "Battle For Protruding Nipples" (BFPN for short)? Take a picture of your nipples (one, both, whatever) and send it to [email protected], and I'll post every entry right as they come in. Male, female, young, old it doesn't matter! We all have them, be proud to show them!

Tip : jpeg file preferred, everything up to 1600x1200 accepted, I'll resize to 400x300 to keep bandwidth usage manageable. Maximum 2 pictures to be posted of anyone, with credits if you want (name + URL).

Uh, ello?

| 3 Comments

I really gotta stop doing shit like last night. According to some forum that I follow online, it's been less than 6.5 hours ago that I logged in over there, and seeing that it's not yet 09h30 right now, that says enough about how late it was yesterday, doesn't it? And I gotta make my sentences shorter.

Anyway, the temperature has dropped considerably today - so far - and thanks to some strategic window opening last night I got the place cooled down to 25� Celsius, finally. Now in normal conditions I'd still freak out when it was that hot, but I think I've gotten used to it.

I'm off to read up and study some tasks I want to automate.

Whahahaa

I just received this spam mail that was so to the point : "Fat melts away", and I couldn't agree with them more. In this unsustainable heat not only fat melts away I suppose, but that doesn't make the spammers sell anything. The spammer that targets Europe these days with airconditioning, would be sitting on a goldmine though.

Apparently some suppliers can't keep up with the orders and when you get a unit that needs to be installed by a crew, delays of up to 2 months can be expected, even with all installation teams working overtime. In other words : why bother? This heatwave will end sooner or later (although some italian weatherforcasters claim it might continue into September) and the rest of the time airco is pretty useless in Belgium.

But, when looking a the bigger picture, global warning and the changing of the climate, it could be a good long term investement. On the other hand, airco consumes quite a lot of power, often produced (inderectly of course) with nuclear energy or burning of fossil fuel, which just adds on to the problems. Therefore it might be wiser to invest in double glazing to prevent the heat from coming in in the first place. Those are measures that don't affect the environment as much, while still being effective both in winter and in summertime.

Maybe an energy-audit might come in handy, especially when the governement continues their taxprofit grants for it. Well, of course all of that will have to wait till next year, or the year after.

How do you spell dumb? S E R V M E

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Allow me to explain : Today I received a bill from Electrabel, my energy supplier. Nothing weird about that, as I receive those at a regular interval, but this time the bill was about 80% lower as usual. After looking at the details, it turns out they deducted a payment of € 80 for no apparent reason.

So, I called them to find out what was happening, and why the deduction was done. They claimed to have received a payment by cheque on May 13rd, which appeared on their bank accounts on May 16th. They deducted the payment from my bill, for which I am rather grateful, since it wasn't me that paid that amount. I always pay through banktransfers, but of course they couldn't tie an account number to that payment. I explained that I was suprised but that payment was not done by me. To be sure I checked my bank statements, but I was very certain that payment wasn't mine.

I got transferred to their payment processing division and they told me to pay the remainder of the bill (as I received it) while they conduct a search to see to what account the payment was supposed to be.

Well, if I hadn't called I'm rather sure that they might have never found the error, especially not if the person that did the payment had not complained (yet) either. In short, I suppose I should have shut up and not wonder what was wrong and call them... but hey, that's not the way I work.

If I get a bill, I want to know the details of every amount listed beause that's the only way you can be sure it's correct.

Note : Due to the extreme weatherconditions, the folkwoods festival has been cancelled. Well, we ain't going, so we cancelled it :) The festival itself is still happening I presume.

Weird,

I seem to have lost a day? Apparently I didn't blog yesterday, but that might have been due to the fact that nothing interesting occured at all, and today has been pretty much the same. I've slept till 11h30 or something like that when I was woken by the bell - some chick distributing "free discount flyers for multimedia", something I wasn't interested in. And it makes me wonder : if they were free, why not just drop them in the mailbox?

After getting the place as heat proof as possible I've been reading up on perl and php scripts, as well as .htaccess and mod_rewrite modules. It seems you can do pretty nifty things when combining all those things, and to be honest : it's the only thing I managed to do today. It's too bloody fucking hot! Unfortunately, the temperature won't drop much during the night according to forcasts and tomorrow we might have to endure temperatures up to 39 degrees celsius.

Unless someone really wants people and animals to die, I suggest this damn weather quits already!! I just went into my bathroom to check the temperature there and it seems to be the coolest room around here. So, I'll be moving the fuzzies there in the morning.

Suprise!

| 8 Comments

I've always thought I lived in a boring neighborhood where never anything happened. Either I was completely wrong, or the heat is making people do strange things. Let me explain.

Last night I was watching some TV around 01h00 at night when I heard some voices on the street, pretty loud and obviously discussing. I stepped out onto my balcony and I saw a young guy with a woman next to him, and he kept on asking her "so, did you meet someone over there? Did you, did you?" while she was in tears and telling him that if that were the case, she wouldn't be walking next to him, would she? He didn't take that as an answer and pushed her around quite a bit, even slapped her.

I yelled down and asked whether pushing and hitting her really was necessary. He became totally infuriated and threw everything he was carrying on the pavement, ran up closer and took off his shirt, challenging me to come down since I had - according to him "a big mouth". I knew better as to go down, come on, I've got better things to do as pick fights with infuriated idiots in the middle of the night.

He kept calling me names, telling me I was a coward and such. To which I each time replied that I didn't feel any need to hit a woman. This infuriated him even more, and he started yelling that it was HIS woman etc etc. It lasted about 15 minutes or so and when he realized that I wasn't gonna come down anyway, he mumbled some insults and left. The woman had by then already disappeared.

Maybe I should have gone down, but what would that have solved? A fistfight doesn't solve anything, but I hope the idiot thinks twice before reverting to physical violence next time. However, to be honest, I don't think so. I'm not calling names here, but some "inhabitants" of certain regions in Belgium think women are property, they have to behave all the time while the men can do pretty much whatever they want. And that's why I called out to them. If you want to integrate here, live as we do. Which doesn't mean that I wouldn't have called out if anyone else was having such a fight in my street, of course. Besides, I only noticed his race when he took off his shirt and stepped into the light.

So, that was yesterday. Today I was once more on my balcony around 21h00, taking out some trash when I noticed this couple stepping out of their car. They walked up to the middle of the street where they hugged and kissed (his move) and after they were done he almost fell over and had to take quite a few steps to regain his balance before he was able to stumble into the general direction his girlfriend/wife was headed.

It turns out they live nextdoor coz when she entered the building - he was about 2 meters behind her - he stopped, pulled down his pants on the sideways and waved his dick around for a few seconds. With his pants down onto his knees, he stumbled into the building.

Sooo... is it the heat that's making people go all bonkers, or have I been totally mistaken and are things going on around here? If it's the heat, I'm gonna have to carry around my camera at all times, coz there's at least another 3-4 days to come in this heatwave!

Taxes, so much fun!

| 3 Comments

I got an answer from my tax consulent yesterday in regard to my question concerning paying taxes on paychecks one never received. He said it I have to ask for a new document 281.10 which reflects the true situation and takes into account the paychecks that were not paid after all. Since I've heard all kinds of things so far, I also decided to stick my head into the lion's mouth and call the "Centraal Taxatiekantoor Antwerpen - Distrikt III" - those are the people responsable for checking my taxes and doing an audit on them.

I received pretty much the same answer. Request a new document 281.10 and use that to correctly file my taxes, otherwise I'd be paying for something I never received. I've just send out a fax to the lawyer handling the bankruptcy requesting such a form and now I'll see what happens. Since I'm using tax-on-web, I've got enough time left to wait for the documents to arrive.

Oh what a wonderful pile of shit this all is ;)

New release : honeypot.be

| 5 Comments

A few days back I released Honeypot.be - Spamtracker into the world. While this is a site that has no real meaning to most of you, I've put it out there to track the movement and IP addresses of spam harvesting bots that grab e-mail addresses.

Yes, that's pretty technical, I know. Let me try to explain it in a less geeky way. A spambot or e-mail harvester surfs zillions of pages on the internet. Whenever they get to a page, they scan for e-mail addresses and add those to their database. Either later on, or in real time, the e-mail addresses are spammed with the things we all love : spam mails. Technically speaking, these bots don't work much different as your average search engine spider.

So, what I did was this : whenever an agent (User Agent, UA) hits the page, their IP address is included into the e-mail address presented on the page. The UA starts reading the page and stumbles upon that unique e-mail address. They add it to their database and/or use it to send their spam immediately.

Now, I don't read the messages send to those addresses, but I strip the IP addess of it when they come in. Thanks to the fact that the spam harvester bots are dumb, they have actually send me a mail saying "Hey, I'm a spam harvesting bot, and I accessed grabbed your e-mail address from this IP address at this exact time". The only thing I need to do, is publish that IP address on the site - in case others want to block access to it as well, and add it to an .htaccess file that denies access from that IP address.

What's the catch? There is a possibility that the IP address that I logged wasn't the one of the spammer, but one of a proxy, or a hacked machine. Now, to me, it doesn't matter. The IP address was used in a e-mail harvesting session, so if I want to, I can block it. I can even serve a special page to those addresses explaining why they have been blocked.

Still not interesting for the average websurfer, I agree. However, the more spam harvesting UA's that hit the page, the more IP's I can block and publish on the site. Which could allow you to prevent those bots from harvesting your pages/e-mail addresses as well, which will in the looooong run, make e-mail harvesting a pain in the ass for the spammers, or they'll need to move to new IP addresses more often.

How can you help out? Easy, just add a link to "http://www.honeypot.be" to your site or blog, even if it is for one day. The more search engines and users that pick up on it, the more likely it is that spammers will hit it and divulge their evil ways.

Note : Yes, I'm fully aware that the setup can be abused. However, this is not a fool proof setup, or a tightly secured technical operation. If this somehow pays off (time invested vs data gathered) I will add more details and automate it even more, allowing others to easily benefit from the knowledge gained.

Fuck everyone...

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A few hours ago, a discussion was brought up on another website I visit frequently - daily to be precise - about degoratory words, racism and insulting jokes. I really am amazed how the "political correctness" influences the current use of language in some scenes.

I wonder : Is is wrong to call an african american "black", oriental people "asian" or a caucasian person "white"? Generalisation is never ment to single out one person or void their views on society, or their behaviour. If I make a "racist joke" I expect the audience to know and realize that the facts presented are not necessarily correct. Sure, some people might not understand it, and believe that the truth is depicted in that joke, thus seeing some of their views validated.

It's exactly those diffences that make this world such an interesting place. if everything were grey and we all walk in the same direction, looking alike, what would be left for us humans to challenge us?

Is it up to me, the joker, to take all of that into consideration? I think not. Everyone is responsible for their own education and views on life. Think for yourself, goddammit! However, being all politically correct means - for me at least - that you rob people of their ability to think and decide for themselves. Insults are only insulting if you let them insult you.

That's why I don't like political correctness - the world is not perfect at all, nor will PC change it. If I'm white and you're black, what's the first thing we'll notice when we meet? The fact that the color of our skin is different. Does that define either of us as a person? I really doubt it.

Advice :

| 3 Comments

Don't blog when drunk, tired and even more tired. Lol, it'll take you at least two login tries before typing your complex password correct. Eef, you should have been there, breezer was plentiful, but we'll take you another time, ok?

I'm off to bed now, thanks for the lovely evening, Jess, Johan, all the Banana Moon girls... It's been a great time, even though the DJ sometimes sucked major ass.

Party

| 6 Comments

In about 40 minutes I'll be off to some 70-80-90's party in Edegem, together with Jess & Johan. We called Eef but she wasn't feeling too well, even though she sort of wanted to go out. Well, don't worry Eef, we'll go out with you another time, and next weekend we're off to the Antilliaanse Feesten so a good time will be had then for sure.

Cleaning up all the rubbish this morning was kind of a breeze and in about 2 hours we were completely done. Yeah, we're good! I just got out of the shower, shaved everything that needed shaving, trimmed everything that needed trimming and now I'm off to entertain the ferrets for a while - and vice versa. I think I'll have something to eat as well as I only had breakfast this morning and some grapes tonight.

While showering I was thinking about fasting, or at least trying it out. I'll have to look into some information about that tomorrow, as it's not something that you want to do out of the blue. I'd like to know what to watch out for, what side effects might occur and how my body might react to it. It's not a religious thing - I don't believe in anything but myself - but it seems like an interesting thing to try out. How did I get that idea? I wouldn't know to be honest. Maybe because of all the water in the shower?

Don't say it, you think I'm weird. And I don't blame you.

Do It Yourself Title

| 1 Comment

It's freakishly early for me to be up and awake but in about 45 minutes Johan will be here to pick me up. Today we'll be shoveling a lot of rubbish and taking it off to a dump. That'll be the last we have to do for the terrace for now. Luckily we are starting early, coz predictions are that it's gonna be damnh hot today and we have been adviced not to do any hard physical labour during the hottest part of the day.

I guestimate that we should be able to clear the pile of concrete and roofing in 2-3 hours, so if we start at 10, we should be done around noon. Just in time for a siesta :)

Later on tonight we'll be off to some sort of 60-70-80 party probably. We'll be taking Eefje along with us, but she doesn't know yet. Last night I went out to shoot some pool with Joco, and we met up with Johan & Jess but after trying to figure out what to do, we kinda all went seperate ways and crashed early. We're soooo streetwise when it comes to pubs, not! ;)

All cried out...

| 6 Comments

I returned from the vet about 2 hours ago or so, and even though only one of my fuzzies is no more with me, there is a certain void in the house. I'm totally out of tears right now but my heart tells me I've made the good choice. Of course, when we arrived at the vet - thanks Hilda - Happy was doing relatively well, so it hurt me a great deal to tell Joke to put him to sleep.

He had been eating just before we left and on the way over he ate some more. All signs that he was a normal, healty ferret, but I know he was not. I've asked for an autopsy, I always do since I figure that the knowledge they can gain from it might someday save other ferrets, and I gotta call back on monday to check for the results.

Now I'm off to try and eat something, and take care of the remaining boys and girls. Happy, I'll miss you.

Happy, I will miss you

The end

I've just given Hilda a call - and disturbed her while she was painting - and we're off to the vet. I've taken my decision as Happy just started suffering from yet another attack - worse as yesterday - and I can't let him suffer any longer. It's hard, but as I said... the right thing to do.

Update

| 1 Comment

I've got terrible headache and haven't slept too well, which should be no suprise I suppose. However, when I woke up this morning Happy was happily asleep and seems to be doing better. I woke him up and he looked and reacted all normal, which is good of course, but it doesn't make the situation any easier. I also noticed that he had eaten quite a bit, something that he quite possibly didn't do as much as he should have over the past few days.

I guess we'll be going through up and down days from now on. I'm gonna keep a close eye on him throughout the day to see if anything changes. Life, why does it have to be so complicated?

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This page is an archive of entries from August 2003 listed from newest to oldest.

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