February 2004 Archives

Fast forward

Slept in late, or at least later than I intended to. Off to Joco and Eef later tonight to watch "24" and quite probably my sis will be there too.

Shall be fun.

A new world order!

I just finished watching The Messenger : The Story of Jeanne D'arc (aka Joan of Arc), starring the incredible Milla Jovovich as Jeanne. Wonderful movie, that must say. I bet that when you see it in a theatre it's even more impressive as it was on my small TV.

Certain images and shots of Milla reminded me of Tanja Dexters, a babe that really appeals to me. She's got a certain look that I totally dig so to say. Well, Milla had that same something in Jeanne D'arc sometimes.

Apart from that, the movie and story is quite interesting to say the least and one thing has become quite clear to me : the one who controls religion, controls people. After all, religion is nothing but a tool to have people do what you want them to do, as there is no objection possible, unless you can to be cast out of whatever you think you're part of.

If you think for yourself and are a true believer in yourself instead of some shady character that exists only in myths and legends, and to whom various prophecies are attributed, you are far more dangerous to those seeking the power to rule the world than anything else. Because you (can) see past all the fabrications, facts and spins - something they'll try to avoid at all times.

Mark my words : this world is heading for a new war of the religions, whether it'll be Islam versus Christianity, Christianity versus Judaism, Hinduism versus Taosim, or Buddhism versus something else. It doesn't really matter. Free thinkers will always be a thorn in the side of those who aim to use religion as a tool for world domination.

Preparations have been going on for quite a while and you should have noticed that instead of moving people together, everything and most people move more to the extremes, leaving no more room for negotiation or even acceptance of other ideas. You're either for or against, there is no more middle ground and reason.

New pictures

If you can't bring the fuzzies to the snow, bring snow to the fuzzies - a new album in the friedkitten Photo Gallery, conveniently under the Ferrets section.

I already got my hands on photocopies of my drivers license and identitycard, I'll have photographs (mugshots?) taken either this weekend or early next week, and I know when I can see a doctor for a medical exam.

More updates

Still no trams, but at least the mailman found a way to get throught the piles of snow to deliver some correspondence that I was waiting for. I just the a letter from Group 4 Falck that I've been invited to participate in their interview and psychological tests on thursday March 4th, in Zaventem. Yay!

Now I gotta go to the doctor for a medical checkup, the photographer for a set of ID photographs and have copies made of my identitycard as well as my drivers license.

Whoa!

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I was thinking about taking the car out and do some things that I gotta do anyway, but after taking a look outside, I'll be using public transportation for at least one thing, and walk for another. I'm not risking my set of wheels in this weather unless I really need to.

Damn snow! Damn snow!
Damn snow! Damn snow!

All my friends, family and other peopel I care about : if you gotta go out today, please BE CAREFUL!

Snowy update

Apparently the photo's that I shot from my balcony are not telling everything. When I stepped outside I was really suprised to see how much snow was actually covering the roads and pavements. This was not the typically Belgian 5cm of snow, but rather 15 to 20cm! Instead of heading off to the tramway I decided to check on the car first and clear that of most snow. It even started after a while so I let it run for a few minutes while I plowed myself through more snow. The car is not snow free at all, but at least it's available now in case I decide to use it later today - something I don't plan on doing though.

After chatting with the neighbors for a while and greeting other people in the street as I headed to the tramway, I noticed something very odd : no trams to be seen anywhere. I let my eyes wander over the tracks, or rather the lack thereof : no tram has passed here in the last few hours, while they normally run every 10 minutes. Scratch that plan I guess... I'm home now, gonna do a quick check on the site of the public transportation company to see if they have any announcements, and depending on that, I'll take out the bike or walk my ass off.

The number to call for updates on service availability is not busy, yet rings twice and then is connected with the eternal bitbucket it seems. In other words : get connected, but no answers. The site itself says nothing at all about problems. Off to check the newspaper (online) now to see if they have anything on it.

Yay for snow, not?

I know about it.

Received word today that my payment arrived - finally. Prints will be shipped this afternoon or friday morning. I hope to get them next week. For those who are curious and want to take a guess, head over to chapter9photography - Jerome Abramovitch and tell me what you think I ordered.

In case you wonder about the "MT::App::Comments=HASH(0x810ad1c) Use of uninitialized value in sprintf at lib/MT/Template/Context.pm line 1187." error that you get when previewing comments, I know about it. It seems to be a glitch in MT2.661 and has to do with the application wanting to return an ID that has not yet been assigned because the comment is not yet stored in the database. This error seems to have been around for quite a while, but I never experienced it before as I don't use the preview that often.

So far, there has been no official comment or acknowledgement on this error from the MT developers, Ben and Mena Trott. A temporary fix has been proposed in the Movable Type forums, but it is nothing official nor final. If you want to check out the solution, start digging in the forum.

I hope MT3.0 alpha phase starts rather quickly (it was announced on January 30th) so they can move to a public beta release and - cross fingers - follow it up with a stable 3.0 version soon after that. That's just wishful thinking on my part though.

A Zoo

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It's snowing again! Not much though, but it is snow. I slept in later than I was planning to do (got up around 10h15 instead of 08h15) so I now have to move my ass into gear and start coding things. When I take a break from that I can reply to some mails concerning another project, and check my snail mail.

Just got a reply from Jerome about my prints, but it seems the wiretransfer I did on friday still hasn't arrived in his account. I don't get it, it's all electronic money anyway, so why does it take over 3 days to subtract some figures from my account and add them up in his? Wait... the subtraction part worked fine, that was almost instant. So what frigging bank is holding my/his cash for a few days in order to make even more profit? Capitalist pigs :p

(Rubs eyes)

Got up early (few minutes past 8) because there was a bunch of work waiting for me. Caught up on e-mail that came in during the night (nothing important) and then started working on the layout and rough graphics for the menu/navigation section of a site. Luckily I had the sense to take some paper and pens with me when I went to the info session, so when I arrived almost 40 minutes early, I sketched out various possibilities of the site layout on paper. As far as I can recall, this is the first time ever I've done such a thing, but now my quickly scratched down notes and sketches help me a lot.

Not that I really recall doing it, but apparently I did even jot down what advantages and disadvantages each choice would have, and even more suprising is that those notes still make sense today!

Off to roughly code some more things, then I'll be taking a short break to have something to eat and goof around a bit.

Good news show?

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Just got a call from Jess, giving me some info in regard to stock she investigated and thinks is interesting. I've taken a look myself, but I don't think I'll be putting any cash into stock right now. I've been going for funds lately, because they are more diverse and grow slower by cutting out the high risk factors. I know you can't ever be certain but still...

More good news : Ecopower and SPE got the environmental approval for the installation and operation of 11 windmills in the harbor of Ghent - and theoretically there's space for another 80, although 40 would be very welcome and more realistic. Ecopower has a 20% share in this project, so when the windmills are built and renewable energy is flowing in, they'll have more than doubled their production capacity.

Current (wind based) production facilities : 4.2MW

Lijdijk and Verheylegat are Enercon E66/70 mills (1.8MW)
Honderdbunder (Zandvleuge) is an Enercon E-44 mill (600kW)

Projected additional (wind based) production facilities at the start of 2005 :

20% of 11 (2MW) mills in Ghent harbor : 4.4MW

Although getting the environmental approval is only a first step in a long process, it is a very crucial step that has to be taken. Now they can hopefully get the building permits soon so construction can commence!

Play time

Just got back from an infosession over at VDAB, same problem as last time : too much people interested and too few open spots. Ah well... I'll see whether or not I can move onto the testing phase (next week) and then later on possibly start the course.

Borrowed from Mil0 : load up all your songs into winamp (or something alike) then randomize them and post teh first 50 songs on your page. Oh, before I forget : no editing out embarrasing tracks!

1. (Billy Joel) - Goodnight Saigon (6:59)
2. (Paul Oakenfold) - Starry-Eyed Surprise (3:48)
3. (Tatu) - All the things she said [119 Club Vocal Remix] (8:15)
4. (Madonna) - Material Girl (3:52)
5. (Moloko) - 100% (5:14)
6. (Bachman Turner Overdrive) - You ain't seen nothing yet (3:50)
7. (Peter Gabriel) - Sledge Hammer (5:10)
8. (Clannad) - Theme From Harry's Game (2:24)
9. (Bette Midler) - Beast of Burden (3:44)
10. (Eminem) - Guilty Conscience (2:21)
11. (Loituma ) - Kultaansa ik�v�iv� /There is my lover (4:24)
12. (Team sleep) - The Passportal (2:57)
13. (Metallica) - Some kind of monster (8:25)
14. (Moloko) - Blow X Blow (3:12)
15. (EMF) - Unbelievable (3:30)
16. (DJ Testosterone) - Summertime plz (68:02)
17. (X-Marks the Pedwalk) - Abattoir (Razormaid mix) (5:54)
18. (Marilyn Manson) - This Is The New Shit (4:22)
19. (2 Live Crew) - Pretty Woman (3:20)
20. (DJ Morgana) - Distorted Frequencies v03 2003-08-23 (53:13)
21. (Baccara) - Yes Sir, I can Boogie (4:32)
22. (X-Marks the Pedwalk) - Helpless (Depressed mix) (4:03)
23. (Santana) - Oye Como Va (4:16)
24. (Skinny Puppy) - Deadlines (4:42)
25. (K4) - Ik ben een klein geil sletje (3:14)
26. (The Klinik) - Arrogance (7:11)
27. (Skinny Puppy) - Intro (Live in Winnipeg) (2:07)
28. (Michael Jackson) - Blood on the dancefloor (4:13)
29. (Linkin Park) - Session (2:25)
30. (Inkubus Sukkubus) - Eternity (4:19)
31. (God Module) - Reverse Inversion (4:33)
32. (Paul Oakenfold) - Three Drives On A Vinyl - Greece 2000 (Original Mix) (6:30)
33. (DJ Morgana) - Distorted Frequencies v06 2003-10-04 (45:54)
34. (Tears for Fears) - Shout (6:30)
35. (DJ Testosterone) - Morning Commute (52:31)
36. (Missy Elliot) - Work It (4:58)
37. (Metallica) - Nothing Else Matters (6:28)
38. (Dead Can Dance) - The Snake And The Moon (edit) (4:14)
39. (Paul Oakenfold) - Tilt v. Paul Van Dyk - Rendezvous (Quadraphonic Mix) (3:58)
40. (Inkubus Sukkubus) - Vampyre Erotica (4:49)
41. (Los del Rio) - Macarena (3:41)
42. (Chris De Burgh) - Lady In Red (4:15)
43. (2 Live Crew) - Do Wah Diddy (4:02)
44. (Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft) - Rote Lippen (2:43)
45. (Sean Paul) - Dutty Rock Intro (2:24)
46. (Skinny Puppy) - Sleeping Beast (5:57)
47. (The Klinik) - Plague (6:13)
48. (The Animals) - The story of Bo Diddley (5:44)
49. (Bots) - Zeven Dagen Lang (5:12)
50. (Buggles) - Video Killed The Radio Star (3:16)

I just looked outside : it's frigging snowing!

This was my day

The computer fair itself was nice, but not really interesting. The DVD writer I was looking for was totally unavailable - only the previous Benq model was being sold - so I didn't get one. There were lotsa other drives available though, but I didn't budge : I want that Benq DW800A.

I did get myself a nice Sandisk Cruzer Mini though, which holds a nice 256MB of data and is powered by USB 2.0 (1.1 compatible). I've been wanting such a handy device for a long time, especially as it'll help me move data around quickly when needed, and help me out when I need to transfer data between two systems and no network or cd-writer is available.

After the fair I dropped off my dad at his car, and then Joco and I headed off to his place where we hung around, had dinner and watched "24". A good time was had by all I think, and little Alex completely crashed in his bed because we played with him quite a lot. I love that kiddo...

DVD here I come!

I've been doing some looking into DVD recorders, so that I can back up my data in a more manageable way. CD's still work quite fine, but some things are getting so huge that DVD's will be better.

I've always been in love with Plextor cd-writers (after the Philips disaster that my first cd-writer turned out to be) and I was seriously thinking of getting the Plextor PX-708A, just because I know Plextor drives kick ass, although they are a bit more expensive, they always deliver and they have a great firmware and support cycle.

Luckily for me, the latest C'T Magazine had a test of 8x DVD writers, and it arrived just in time, as I'll be going to a computer fair tomorrow (joined by Joco and my dad). In that test, the Plextor drive tested very well, but it performed very weak when it came to error correction on damaged disks. And we all know that it doesn't take long to have a disk with a scratch, fingerprints all over it etc.

I read the complete test a few times and made up my mind : it'll be the Benq DW800A - the tests were great, it's resonably cheap, and at the end of January Benq released a new firmware version that makes the drive also do 2x DVD-R and DVD-RW instead of only DVD+R/DVD+RW. Some more digging on the web revealed more Benq DW800A tests (with more recent firmware as in the C'T test) and reports were still good.

Let's just hope I'll be able to find it tomorrow.

Not your problem? Think again!

What quite some people - me including - have been suspecting and thinking all along, seems to have been proven today : there is a strong connection between spammers and virus distributors. While you might still argue that the oppurtunity makes the thief, I think the article below shows clearly that spammers and virus distributors are becoming more professional and join forces to accomplish their goals.

This is the original C'T Magazine article (in german) and here are english translations of it : Uncovered: Trojans as Spam Robots, Trojans and Spam.

As you might have noticed, I specifically said "virus distributors" not "virus creators" even though that in some cases, they might be one and the same person. However, what we see more and more is that the creation is done and the code published as proof-of-concept by the author, where other parties distribute the code and bring the virus to life in a real environment. Whether that was or wasn't the intention of the virus author remains to be seen, and while the statement "if you create a virus you will want to release it too" seems to be the most popular right now, I'm not sure I agree with it.

Cars can be used to transport from point A to B (and save people), but they also can be used as weapons (mass destruction, anyone?) and take lives. It's not the object itself that is "evil" or "bad" but the way it is used that causes a certain result. Same goes for viruses as far as I can see. While right now most virus code is (ab)used in damaging way, I'm certain quite some technical characteristics of the code can be used for good things too.

Well, I got a bit side-tracked there, didn't I? What point was I trying to make? Ah... I remember. The professionalisation of spamming. Back in the days, a spammer got himself (or herself) a dial-up account, and started sending out UCE and UBE (spam) mails to thousands of people. Now that official institutions are putting (so far inefficient) laws into place, and companies are launching spam blocking software and filters, spammers need to revert to other options. After they started running their own networks and set up their own ISP's, the next step is a constant abuse of unprotected resources on the internet.

More and more machines are permanently connected, but although the machines have become faster and more stable, the users have not, even on the contrary. Each day thousands if not millions of new machines join the web, but the owners/users have had no training, or don't have a clue about where they stick their head in. Whether or not that is due to the flaws of computers and their operating systems, or due to the stupidity of the users, or a lack of "official" education is besides the point, because the end result is the same : another resource ripe for picking and abuse.

As spammers need this new can of resources to stay open and remain accessible at all time, they need a constant flow of new exploits as well. Since they can't do it themselves (yet?) they rely on others to do the dirty work : infect the machines.

As I said before, right now there still are three parties involved :

virus creator - virus distributor - spammer

but how long will it take before the virus creators realize that their "hard work" is abused by both the distributor and the spammer? Quite a few authors will stop publishing their proof-of-concept code on the web, or provide it for analysis to AV companies before they publish it openly. Others will cut out the middle man and request payment from the spammers and/or create specially crafted code for a hefty price. After the code/virus is written and sold, the spammer calls in the distributor to let the beast loose.

Where do we start in fighting all this? I honestly wouldn't know, but legislation is not the answer. Professional spammers don't care about laws, that should be obvious. I think the only way to get a grip on the problem is to educate the users... but that is not a simple fix or short term solution.

It'll take at least 2 generations to change the attitude, so don't expect spam to go anywhere in the next 50 years. Except in your inbox that is.

He does indeed have a point

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Heiko Hebig wrote this on January 24th :

Please, can someone explain to me why 90 per cent of all females in social network communities are "committed", "in a relationship" or "married"? That's no fun, girls. Can we have a social network for, uhm, people without friends? Not like that would lead to anything... well, you get my point.

Well, this brings up another point : where the hell do you go to meet someone, being a Geek yourself? You either meet them at a non-Geek event and you'll probably end up chasing them away, or bore them to death, or you meet them at a Geek event, where the male to female ratio with some certainty is 100:1, and then - providing you come in contact with a compatible unit - you do Geeky things, but romance or something like that is far, far away.

Geeks power and advance technology, but they will become (or already are) the dinosaurs of society - soon to be extinct. What consequences are there for society as a whole, should the Geek species be wiped of the face of the earth?

If we agree to the statement that Geeks power and create advancement in technology, the disappearance of Geeks will slow down technological advancements to a crawl, or even to a grinding halt. Technologies that humanity needs to save itself as the general population keeps on expanding. This leaves us with two options :

1. over the next 25 years the world population stays equal or starts to shrink,
2. population expands at a much faster rate as technological solutions, resulting in the demise of mankind until a new balance has been reached.

So unless Geeks are accepted as a part of society, and they have the option to procreate and produce new Geek units, only option 1 seems possible. If you - non-Geek - want to have kids some day, expand your family and give them a "good" life, make sure your friendly neighborhood Geek is accepted and has sex - preferably plenty of it.

Save the world - have sex with Geeks!

Female applicants should send me an e-mail with the following data : age, IQ, mention one recent event that you found interesting and explain why (science, political, social, personal, it doesn't matter).

Why not?

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I just ran into the question "What's on your computer desk right now" at tine's blah blah blog and decided to play along. Prepare for a long list. Remarks : I've started going from left to right, as I sit in front of my screen, and I've not moved things around to reveal things under other things... yeah, it's a bit of a mess.

Set of screwdrivers (small)
Stack of CD's and two boxes of CD's
Address book on top of that
More CD's (boxed this time)
18 DVD's stacked on top of the boxed CD's
Even more CD's, empty jewel cases and a bunch of stickers and trading cards.
Coins, mostly american (from my trip long time ago)
Empty CD spindles, webcam on top of them
Two loudspeakers (flat models) with 17" screen in between.
Two puppets on top of screen (penguin & sheep)
Bunch of pens, markers and notes in front of screen, and a golf ball (?!)
Keyboard
Phone, and mobile phone (not in use anymore, don't even recall code)
Printer (HP LaserJet 6L)
Mice (yeah, I got two attached)
Microphone (unused I think) and compact flash cardreader
Two more stacks of CD's, notes and PHP and MySQL book on top
Bank statements
Project notes
Analog modem, ADSL modem, on top of UPS in need of replacement
Bunch of business cards, car keys

Quite a lot, don't you think? That's actually only the first part of the desk, as it extends itself over the complete length of the room. I won't go into so much detail there though : More notes, Printer (HP DeskJet 610C), visa statements, more CD's (assorted this time and properly filed), desk lamp, huge stack of CT magazine, posters, box of motherboard (empty as in "without motherboard" but with drivers etc in it... I think), light duty outdoor casing with webcam, bunch of bank statements (properly filed etc), number of boxes with forms, contracts and general paperwork, a joystick (hasen't been used in 8 years?), and finally a huge stack of neatly folded and cataloged administrative things.

Let's not go into what's under the desk or stacked against the other wall. I've got a small office/room and too much stuff :)

Oh my

Is it an indication of being a Geek, if you find posts like this funny?

My days, my nights

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Went to the bank to get them all the data they needed for the wire transfer to Canada, and if all goes as planned, my prints should be shipped early next week, and then arrive within 4-5 days. Nice.

Fixed the ocCommerce installation, and managed to get one of the modules running, although only partially. For some reason unknown to me, it refuses to load the proper CSS, which makes the site look real bad when the module is enabled. The more I play with the installation, the more I see it's strong points and how versatile it is, but also how much of a mess it is to change simple things.

if you want to change 1 character, you gotta dive into templates and code, and if you want to enable,disable or change a function even slightly, you're manually editing at least 2,3 or even more templates. While Dimi and I might be able to get the hang of it in the long run, this probably also means that no one else can dive in to change something in case of emergency. While those situations shouldn't occur at all, everyone knows Murphy, right?

I might be checking out the computer fair tomorrow or on sunday, depending on whether or not other people feel like going as well. I mailed Jess, Joco and my dad, but neither of them have replied at this point. It wouldn't suprise me that the skynet mail server is crapping out again...

Fuck

I just managed to mess up my installation of osCommerce again while installing some mods. I really should learn to backup files before I edit them, even though it all looks like very simple copy/paste operations.

Ah well... at least I'll become very proficient at installing the thing. Too bad I messed up my config file, it would have saved me a lot of hassle if I would be able to recall what I filled out where.

I guarantee you : some day, I'll learn... some day. maybe

Long meeting

but we did good work I think. I arrived a few minutes past 9h30 and Dimi showed up around 10, so we were in full meeting mode at 10h05. We had lots of things to check, anamyze, double check and rethink.

As we all kinda suspected, there were some flaws in our initial business plan and way of handling things. Around 12h00 we took a break - Hilda made some fine pancakes - to talk about something else for a while. Around 1PM we moved back to our meeting table to rethink and look into more details. It was something like 14h30 (or even 15h30?) when we called it a day.

Did we solve specific problems today? Probably not, although we checked all kinds of possibilities to see what could work, won't work, or might work. After getting that analysis out of the way, we can now define the technical issues and requirements to put out what we need. Now the real work starts, although analyzing workflows and shopping routes is hard work too, let there be no mistake about it.

My mission - should I decide to accept it - is to :

- look into and create a working solution for online server based PDF creation, combined with on-the-fly data insertion that is pulled from a database.
- compare and shortlist a number of online payment systems, bank transfers and get an idea about their pro's and con's, as well as the requirements, and fees.
- test the electronic download module when combined with manual money transfers, to understand the details of every step, and test it's viability.

It sounds like nothing, but I'm sure I'll run into a lot of snags that are not expected. Luckily enough I've got the WWW to look for existing solutions, reviews and suggestions.

Tired...

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In a few hours I gotta be at a meeting with Hilda and Dimi, so I guess I'll better head off to bed, but I don't wanna leave you all neglected. Here are some fun links for your enjoyement :

Anorexic Robot, More Penguin bashing and Find the ball (in japanese).

Weird news facts

* Local Muslim leaders in the district of Dyamir, Pakistan, had 7 schools for girls set on fire on saturday. The leaders seemed convinced the foreign charities that founded and funded the schools were against Islam.

"I think you don't like me or my religion, so let's burn things!" I wonder, are there other ways to make even more of an idiot of yourself? I guess not. Instead of fighting education, they should be promoting it. Maybe that's just a little to much to ask from people that consider themselves "leaders"?

* Campaign leader for Howard Dean, Steven Grossman, has announced that unless Dean wins the primaries in Wisconsin tuesday (today), he'll step out and offer his services to John Kerry.

That makes sense, doesn't it? You're a campaign leader for a candidate that manages to lose in all primaries, so you offer your services to the candidate that has won 14 out of 16. Why do you think he'd need a campaign leader with a bad record like yours? He obviously has a good one!
Note : I'm well aware that there is more to it than just campaign leaders, but that is beyond the scope of this post.

* The Departement of Finance has made plans to "abandon" 54 buildings in the province of Antwerp, Belgium. This is only a part of the 272 buildings that would be freed in the country in order to centralise services and personnel. "This is a one time operation to get extra funds" seems to be the underlying reason. However, renting new centralised buildings would "eat" the income of this operation entirely within 8 years.

And those idiots are allowed to run the financial operations of a country? No wonder we've got a deficit of 265.08 billion euro for only 10 million inhabitants in Belgium. Every single living human over here carries a debt of € 26.508 - from the day you are born.

Update W32/SoSmall-A

Analysis of the (possible virus) sample I submitted has started.

Update : Analysis has been completed, it's confirmed as a new virus. Yay, I discovered a new virus... as you can see, it's quite important that even if you have an AV solution to stay alert and think for yourself. Here's the information as provided by the techies at Sophos :

Description:

W32/SoSmall-A is an internet worm which spreads by emailing itself to addresses found within files on the local hard drive that have extensions of DBX, EML, IMM, IMH, MSG or V03.

The subject of the email is randomly selected from:

"Is this the Smallest C++ MassMailer????"
"I don't understand"
"I can't recall what happened but"
"SoBig SoSmall"
"Virus Alert: [email protected]"
"Shit happens"
"Happy Birthday"

the message text is selected from:

"Is this what where all about?"
"MessageLabs are the first to report of the new Nodoom Internet Worm
Please install the patch attached in this email to prevent outbreaks"
"Can you recall what happened at the party last friday?
I'm having serious problems, i really should stop smoking!
Maybe the picture files attached will explain it to you..."
"SoSmall, SoCold, SoNice, SoGood, SoWarm.."
"please explain me this attachment, it confused me.."
"Here are the files you asked for, cheers"

and the attachment filename is Setup.zip.

The "From:" field contains an email addresses randomly chosen from those
found on the local computer.

The worm attempts to exploit a known vulnerability in Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.01/5.5, so that the attachment is run automatically when the email message is opened.

When first run, the worm copies itself to the Windows System folder as ctsls.exe and creates the following registry entry, so that ctsls.exe is run automatically each time Windows is started:

HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run\Ctsls=SYSTEM%\ctsls.exe

A file named Ynit.tmp is created in the Windows System folder to store a
base64 encoded version of the worm.

Some versions of this worm display a message box with the text "Error", "Start" and when attempting to email themselves display a message box containing the randomly selected subject line and a message box containing the randomly selected message text.

Anyone trying to infect me?

I just received a mail that was sent from another customer at my ISP. All my personal virus triggers went off by looking at the layout, headers and attachment filename, but my - otherwise very good - virusscanner didn't notice anything out of the ordinary. I've submitted the sample to Sophos for testing and analyzing. Here's the mail - with stripped headers - as I received it.

Return-Path: <[email protected]>
Received: from inav004.isp.belgacom.be (inav004.isp.belgacom.be [195.238.3.237])
by ten.skynet.be (8.12.9/8.12.9/Skynet-MAILSTORE-2.14) with ESMTP id i1GBvUqB003912
for <adress stripped>; Mon, 16 Feb 2004 12:57:30 +0100
(envelope-from <>)
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SoSmall, SoCold, SoNice, SoGood, SoWarm..


Attachment : Setup.zip
---------------------------------------

Could this be the next installment of the SoBig series? The "SoSmall, SoCold, SoNice, SoGood, SoWarm.." line could be a pointer, who knows? Anyway, what really confuses me is that neither my scanner, nor the RAV solution that my ISP uses has detected anything strange. It passed all these checks without triggering anything - so it's either brand new and so far unknown virus, or a false alert.

Looking at the headers - and I'm not an expert at all - it tells me the thing has mailed itself from a broadband user to me, avoiding the ISP SMTP server to send itself. This leads me to believe that whatever lurks in setup.zip has it's own SMTP engine...

I hope for the latter, but on the other hand, I'd be exited to know I helped stop a new epidemic.

Did MS04-004 break your SSL?

Have you been a good surfer and updated/patched your IE6 browser with the critical MS04-004 (832894) cumulative patch that was released february 2nd?

Well, have you tried accessing SSL protected sites since that day? Have you experienced problems accessing shopping carts, checkout pages or secured sites? Search no further : MS04-004/832894 changed the way IE resends data to a website when the initial connection request was closed or reset. You might as well see this happening in other applications that rely on the wininet functions from IE, and believe me... lots of 3rd party applications use those.

Check out KB831167 at the Microsoft site to find a cure/fix/patch. Products affected :

Internet Explorer 6 SP1 (version 6.00.2800.1106) on one of the following versions of Windows : Windows XP SP1 - Windows XP 64-Bit Edition SP1 - Windows XP - Windows 2000 SP2/3/4 - Windows NT Workstation, Server, and Terminal Server Edition 4.0 SP6a - Windows 98 and 98SE - Windows Millennium Edition.

Hello world

Woke up and got out of bed a few minutes after eight, even though I only went to bed around 1 - I think. I do remember being pretty beaten yesterday evening but I kept tossing and turning around for quite a while. Ah well, waking up early makes my days longer :p

Good morning world!

Wow!

| 1 Comment

Todays has been 'interesting" to say the least. I went over to my dad's place to see if we could find and fix the leaking of water into my car - we took half of the car apart and only could confirm that it sometimes leaked and then suddenly it stopped.

We've sealed off the points we think might have been the culprits, but we were both really stunned by it. It's very bizarre and as you might know, water always finds it's way through things... I've removed most of the carpets and soundproofing material (which was soaked) from the drivers side to let it dry, and I hope to be able to confirm whether or not it's fixed at the first rain - since I live in Belgium, that can't take too long :)

My sister also popped in and later on Nadia also turned up. Had long talks with all of them and dinner as well. Oh, thanks for the work on the car, Dad! I kinda forgot to thank you in all the commotion.

Nonsense title

You know what? It sucks when people keep on calling you because they can't figure out their new PC and OS, right when you're in the middle of a turn-based game.

Off to watch the news, entertain the fuzzies - I love them : happy V-Day Max, Bono & Tisha - and eat spaghetti. I made a lot of sauce yesterday, and I've frozen two 2-day portions and will be eating the other part today and tomorrow. Yummy.

Oh... I got a mail fro E. today. It's good to know she's still alive, and hopefully we'll all be meeting again soon.

Cross my fingers

| 3 Comments

I hope to get a good deal on some wonderful art, without selling the artist short. If that happens, I'd be a very happy man and have possibly found myself the best birthday presents ever.

Update : I've just gotten a reply from the artist/photographer and while $700 USD might sound like a lot, I'm prepared to pay that to get my hands on these wonderful artworks. I now got to finalize the deal and find a good way to transfer the money. It'll probably take a few days to work out all the small details and then have the prints shipped to me. Don't expect an update or photograpic evidence of the art itself to be posted here before they arrive and I've had them framed.

Working

Upgrading the photogallery to a newer release, and I killed the eCommerce package for the time being until I can work on doing a manual reinstall of it.

I've seen some weird things happening with the automated cPanel install routine, and that doesn't really help to figure out how to configure and customize it. I'll probably attempt a manual install tonight or tomorrow.

Not that it influences or even has anything to do with the blog, but I had to write something, didn't I?

Yes, more please!

| 2 Comments

Today has been good so far. If good things keep on happening to me at the current rate, I'll be well off financially, and I should be living in my dream house with a certain lovely someone by the end of this week.

I probably just cursed my luck by writing that, but hey... I'm an optimist. It's kinda funny to see how events from last year have influenced the way I look at things now. I take nothing for granted anymore and whenever the opportunity arises I work on expanding all kinds of buffers to safeguard me in case of hard times. It's been an attitude that I've not regretted so far and it has proven it's merits - so I'll continue working towards it.

Busy

| 4 Comments

Been working on replacing and transferring data from an old machine to a new one all day long, then drove home, shopped and answered yet another support call on the phone that rang just as I got in. It seems to be a "phoney" day today!

Also got a call from my granny stating that I had to meet her tomorrow at 11, so I called Eef to see when she needed a ride from her place to the garage, and if possible at all, I'd like to tackle some osCommerce problems today as well.

So far I've had no time at all to work on those, but as I hope to have a meeting about the project somewhere next week, I better see if I can get some things fixed or at least analyzed properly. There are still a few things unclear in the "business plan" that I need to understand completely before I can - hopefully - translate it into a good technical setup. When I went to bed last night there were some ideas floating around in my restless brain, but I forgot to write them down :(

I'll make sure I've got pen and paper nearby when I go to bed tonight.

Note : I really need a manager that takes care of billing customers for my services. I'm an idiot to work 6 hours for € 50,- ain't I?

Naked and dripping wet

| 3 Comments

is how I'm currently standing at my PC. I just got into the shower when someone tried reaching me on the phone. While I do posess a cordless phone, it is hardly waterproof so I didn't try taking it into the shower with me. I jumped out, grabbed a towel and ran over to my office to get the phone. It seems like Murphy was awake already : fractions of a second before I picked it up, it stopped ringing.

Drip drip, wet wet. Don't call me this early, and especially not while I'm showering, unless your name is Little Wabbit and you're calling to tell me you're coming over to shower with me.

Why so slow? :(

I frigging HATE dns propagation delays. I just upgraded my current web account to stuff one more mySQL database onto it, so I could play around with some scrips that require a database. That went without a hitch, as I just had to send a mail to my hosts support team and within minutes it was added.

Then I proceded to create (yet another) subdomain on one of my main domains to keep all my testing separated from live sites and I installed the script through the control panel. It was a breeze...

I finished the install, logged with the admin account, no problem. In the middle of checking out all the options and changing some of the settings my browser starts complaining the subdomain can't be found anymore. Crap. There I am, stuck again because the DNS changes now first gotta reach my ISP's DNS servers before I'll be actually be able to continue my work. And unfortunately, I *know* that my ISP propably has the lamest DNS updates imaginable.

Oh well... off to work some more on the analyzing portion of the project I suppose.

Zzzzz...

Off to bed soon. Just got back from my dads place after he called me around 19h00 to tell me he kinda messed up his PC after upgrading XP Home to XP Professional.

It ran into a snag, and refused to boot into windows later on. They instead installed XP Pro on another drive and then attempted a repair and reinstall of the fucked up version. Nothing worked, so I was called in today.

Took me a few hours to get it reinstalled (it was beyond repair) and get most of his software back onto it. Then Netscape 7.1 refused to install. I reverted to 7.0.1 and that worked. Then got all his old mails back (although he's pretty used to losing all those - it's not the first time he's managed that) and installed the most important things like AV software, GFX soft, Office etc etc.

Had a long talk about some business we might set up and it sounds mighty interesting, although I'm not convinced I'll be able to carry my part in it all. Will need to think and talk with others to see what is required and how to tackle various problems. I'm not a programmer, even though I know something about it. I guess I'll really have to dive into PHP, or focus on the security and automation part instead.

Sleepy. Sleep. Zzzzzz....

Note : Don't upgrade Windows XP Home SP1 to Windows XP Professional without SP1. It could end up in a non working OS.
Note 2 : Oh, update your windows installation with the critical MS04-007 patch. Do it today.

Intervention

I'm off to see if I can "save" the computer of a certain someone who upgraded from XP Home to XP professional and has now ran into all kinds of problems, and doesn't want to lose all his data (again). He's getting used to losing his e-mails though :p

Be back somewhere late(r) tonight.

WTF?

I just go down to empty my mailbox and there's a letter from the guy responsible for the building in general. He kindly asks us to pay an additional € 150 (about USD175) before the 16th because "some bills got in at the same time and the current savings won't allow them to all be paid". Well, well well...

Sure, things like that can happen, but I'm definitely less than pleased with it! What's it gonna be next time? In december we all (9 households) paid around € 675 to make sure the roof could get fixed, we all still pay € 100 each month for general maintenance and costs, yet the available amount of cash is not enough to take care of bills? It's weird, let me tell you that.

I doubt that he's scamming us or doing less than legal things, but stil, I don't get it. I've been living here for nearly 5 years or so, and my monthly payments have always covered the bills so far, in fact there was always money left. At the end of last year I had paid € 400 more than my expenses were, so I didn't pay for two months to bring it back to only € 200. I know for a fact that others have also paid too much so we should have plenty of extra cash.

Sure, the plumber that's been working on a leak at the end of December needs to be paid too, but I don't accept the fact that he claimed to have fixed it 3 times, yet it kept on leaking. I'll be paying the extra cash, but a note of it has been made and when the time comes to review the bills and expenditures at the end of the year, I'll dig real deep.

Forcasts

| 1 Comment

Yay, today I got back in touch with a nice ex-colleague of mine who apparently moved closer to where I live, and if all things go as planned, we should be meeting again soon. Possibly even have dinner and catch up on everything that happened since the last time I saw her.

Tomorrow I'll be off to a friends house, and later on some drinks, and tonight I'm babysitting Alex. Gotta pick up some papers tomorrow, stop at the post office as well and get some food (not at the post office though).

Bird transforms into Fox

| 2 Comments

After having Mozilla (the full suite), Mozilla Firebird (the standalone browser) and Thunderbird (the mail client), things are changing. Today version 0.8 of Mozilla Firebird was released and baptised "Firefox". This was - according to the press release - done to avoid confusion with other OSS projects.

I don't care how they call it, as long as it works - I'm off to install the new, foxy application. The Mozilla Firefox product page can be found here : Mozilla Firefox - the next generation browser. Please note that downloading can be a bit of a hassle right now, as the page is flooded with requests for the latest version.

I had more success by using an FTP client and logging in to the FTP server (ftp.mozilla.org/pub/mozilla.org/firefox/releases/0.8/) right away.

24 hours

is damn long when you wake up early - of course the amount of time remains the same, but the perception of it changes.

I've been surfing the web a bit and as I was playing various tracks I suddenly stumbled upon God Module. Not a clue where I got the tracks, but I liked them, so I set out to find more info on the band. I was rather unsuccesful in finding more tracks to download so that I can decide whether or not I should order one or two of their CD's but I did find DJ Morgana, who runs a weekly 1 hour show called Distorted Circuitry on RantRadio.

It good to see that EBM and industrial minded DJ's get airtime and support. She has all her previous shows for download, so you might wanna check that out, or tune right in at RantRadio Industrial.

Quickie

| 1 Comment

Yikes, lots and lots of wind, rain, and other things falling out of the sky. At times it almost resembles a fullblown hailstorm.

I'm sure I also noticed thunder and lightning at some point during the night. I just did a quick check but everything seems to be fine, so I'm back off to my cozy bed.

Improvements

I got up kinda early and after checking mail, sites and some other things, I set out to do some chores I could (should?) have done long time ago. I went over to Hubo, got myself a pair of new windshieldwipers for the car (and I already installed them), and a better cilinder profile to go over the lock on my door.

I replaced the old - and worthless one - with something that'll at least stop anyone from forcing the cilinder to break in order to gain entrance to the appartement. Not that there was any reason or cause to do it now, but ever since I took that security course in 2002, it's been bothering me to know how it should be, yet still be stuck with a - security wise - worthless setup. So that's fixed today.

I also got myself a new TL lamp coz I think the one in my computer room is about to fail any moment. I'd rather have a spare laying around instead of cursing and being forced to spend a lot of time here with bad lighting.

Good news : on monday evening I get to babysit (not so little anymore) Alex, yay!

If you gotta work,

| 1 Comment

avoid clicking these links, they are too addictive.

Doom Funnel Chasers!
Pong 2000
All kinds of games
Penguin games : Poke the Penguin

One word

| 4 Comments

Yummy.

Blah blah blah, no sex.

| 2 Comments

Sorry to disappoint you, but the background wasn't as "exciting" as one might have hoped. In fact it was a photo of her mother and her new boyfriend. Hubby didn't like it too much, so I was called in to get rid of them - well, background wise I mean.

As I was there I had to do some other checks, cleaned the PC of spyware, updated on patches and virus signatures etc. The full maintenance run, you know. As I was going through pictures on the PC because we were looking for a specific one she said "just browse through them all, there are no sex photographs of us/me in there" - you think I should have given a witty reply like : "so, then where do you keep them?" or "let me go grab my camera and let's get nasty..." or maybe even "video is so much better these days".

Ah, maybe I should have. Who knows to what it might have lead :p

I'm off to Joco's tonight for a friendly visit as it's been a while since I've seen him. He's been quite busy and when I called him two weeks ago he wasn't home, on friday I was at soccer competition but he wasn't due to a injured shoulder, and we just seem to keep on missing each other. It's not like I've been avoiding him, but things just didn't syncronise.

Indecisive anyone?

I'm contemplating sending out a nice breakfast basket gift thingy next week, but I haven't decided on it yet. It would require some organization and prior arrangements that would spoil the suprise - combined with the... ah forget it. I'll think about it some more and in the end probably don't go for it anyway.

I gotta go and fix someones computer in a few minutes, as she called me a couple of days ago complaining about the desktop background that had changed to something "unwanted". As far as I couple figure out on the phone, it sounds like one of the sons has been surfing pornsites again and installed/changed some stuff that he shouldn't have. I don't know what exactly the desktop background is portraying, but it seems like mum isn't too pleased with it ;)

Maintenance Notice - Optimizing MT install

I'm working on various parts of the back-end of this blog. It has both become sluggish in commenting, updating and rebuilding and when I logged into it with FTP today, it was unable to show me all archive files due to the mass of them.

I've started moving the archives around and ordering them in dirs per year to make (and keep) things more manageable as it was quickly getting out of hand. Expect some things to be broken over the next hour(s) while I work my way through everything and determine what has to remain, move or can be deleted.

After some hard thinking I decided to move the monthly and daily archives into a structure like this :

%Y/Monthly/%Y_%m.html (for monthly archives)
%Y/%m/Daily/%Y_%m_%d.html (for daily archives, d'uh)

This seems be a good mixture to easily distinguish archives, yet don't go too far with splitting things out. I've also removed 1595 individual entry files that were - as far as I can tell - no longer used. Instead of deleting them, I rar'ed them and stuck them in a temporary directory for the time being.

Stand by for a complete rebuild! Some quick calculations tell me that I've saved about 15MB in space, which is definitely not bad.

[They're coming down seems like an appropriate lyrics excerpt from the Front 242 track W.Y.H.I.W.Y.G to go with this entry, don't you think?]

OMG - Nipple searching websurfers!

I wake up this morning - those guys are still working on replacing the roof, so I can forget a quiet snooze in bed - and log on. I check the site stats. 58 hits so far.

I continue my morning routine and then I rub my eyes. Look at stats again. What? Impossible! It seems the search engines have picked up my Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake halftime performance on the recent Superbowl post that I made 2 days ago. And there are lots of people out there looking for "information" about the "clothing malfunction", the pierced nipple with the nipple shield.

In fact there are so much people looking for it that I'll gently point them to the close ups and video files I put online in the original post - it'll save them some time looking for the correct content :

Whahaha! (aka Janet shows pierced nipple on Superbowl)

Luckily my hosting allows for this kind of extravagant increases in traffic.

So true...

I would like to think that in this day and age people would know better than to open executables in an e-mail. I'd also like to be able to flap my arms and fly to the moon. Opening attachments in e-mail is one par with group needle-sharing after having unprotected sex in a Third World orgy. Yet, with an estimated 30 per cent [peak] of world-wide e-mail traffic being Novarg, it is clear that millions are willing to blindly point-and-click their way into infection while a tempest of white noise rages in the part of their brain where conscious thought should be.

I couldn't have said it better. Read the full article.

Yummy

I'm having red paprika filled with tunafish, straight from the fridge. It's delicious yet easy to prepare.

I just (electronically) mailed out another job application - let's hope this is a succesful one.

1 down, 1 to go

Just got back from a quick check at the car. The newspapers that I put in the trunk to spot more water leaking in have been dry for over 24 hours now. I think it would be safe to assume that's solved. The drivers seat leak isn't though.

As I last used the car on sunday around noon, it's now been parked for nearly 48 hours, which pretty much rules out water from the road splashing in when driving to cause the carpet on the floor to be wet all the time. I just replaced the newspapers there, they were still soaking. This must mean the water is flowing in from elsewhere. When I checked the levels of coolant in the heating system yesterday, they seemed lower than they were on saturday. When I checked today, they are about the same, but it's hard to tell coz there is less of a reference point now.

I think I'll fill the system up and then take the car for a drive tomorrow - I've got things to do anyway. Then check back on thursday and when they've lowered again, I think I can make a rather final conclusion.

No replies to (any of) my applications yet. Mailman : stop hiding my letters!

When I woke there was lots of noise outside and it's been continuing since 9 am or so. They started replacing the roof on the apartement building I live in. Finally, I'd say as it was scheduled for early january instead of februari. It seems this entry is about nothing but leaks and water, doesn't it?

Patching time again

Critical advisory for IE : Cumulative Security Update for Internet Explorer (832894) aka MS04-004 - Issued: February 2, 2004

Systems affected :

* Microsoft Windows NT� Workstation 4.0 Service Pack 6a
* Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 Service Pack 6a
* Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 Terminal Server Edition, Service Pack 6
* Microsoft Windows 2000 Service Pack 2, Service Pack 3, Service Pack 4
* Microsoft Windows XP, Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 1
* Microsoft Windows XP 64-Bit Edition, Microsoft Windows XP 64-Bit Edition SP 1
* Microsoft Windows XP 64-Bit Edition Version 2003
* Microsoft Windows Server� 2003
* Microsoft Windows Server 2003, 64-Bit Edition

Components affected :

* Internet Explorer 6 Service Pack 1
* Internet Explorer 6 Service Pack 1 (64-Bit Edition)
* Internet Explorer 6 for Windows Server 2003
* Internet Explorer 6 for Windows Server 2003 (64-Bit Edition)
* Internet Explorer 6
* Internet Explorer 5.5 Service Pack 2
* Internet Explorer 5.01 Service Pack 4
* Internet Explorer 5.01 Service Pack 3
* Internet Explorer 5.01 Service Pack 2

Whahaha!

| 2 Comments

Has anyone seen the american Superbowl? Did you notice Janet (Jackson) and Justin (Timberlake)'s performance where Justin rips off a part of Janets clothing at the end of the song?

Oh my god... it showed her left right breast - with pierced nipple - in front of several million american people, on national television. According to CBS who was broadcasting the show, they received "lots of angry calls" in regard to the incident. The NFL said that MTV - who were responsible for the half-time show - would not be asked to do more work for them in the future.

Now take a look at the clip yourself (DivX5, 1.3MB), and I ask you : "what is all the fuzz about?" All humans have nipples, they serve a few distinct purposes and whether or not you like seeing them, they are a reality. Now get a frigging life and stop being shocked. One nipple on TV causes more controversy as a 100 deaths - talk about bad priorities.

What I find rather "daring" is the fact that Janet chose to wear a spiked nipple shield. If you take a closer look (Overview, closeup) at the size of it (the shield I mean), those spikes don't seem to rest at her skin, in other words : far from a nice tight fit.

Imagine Justin reaching too far under the bra with his fingers and actually pulling both the bra as well as the shield off. Now, that would have been a painful, bloody and unplanned for performance. In order to prevent that, they must have rehearsed the "grab 'n pull" quite a few times to get it right. Good to know : Janets new album is sheduled to appear March 30th.

Oh, and I've replaced my desktop wallpaper with something new that I quickly threw together. You know where to find a link to it, don't you?

Domain names

| 5 Comments

I've gotten quite a lot of domain names over the past years. Today I decided to start dropping some. I just renewed 15 domains, and decided to drop at least 9 others in the .com, .net and .org TLD's. I just can't keep on renewing domains that I don't intend to develop or sell anytime soon.

Drool?

Halle Berry as Catwoman (Quicktime 3.5MB)

Drool! One sexy lady, don't you agree?

I can only agree

| 2 Comments

with this statement that a fellow techy made a few seconds ago :

Some people should not be allowed access to the more dangerous forms of technology... like telephones and sliced bread.

I replied.

I totally agree :) If only life were IRC :

ServMe sets mode +o CT
ServMe sets mode #life +m
CT sets mode -v (l)users

Ah, well...

| 3 Comments

I just got back from puldercity where a good and enjoyable evening was had - the one thing missing was Dimi, Jess & Johan for a full family reunion. As promised, I cooked and even though some people were not too enthousiastic at first, they all told me that they liked the food quite a lot. Those things please me :)

We worked at the car, hopefully managed to seal off the rear light (after three attempts) but only time will tell I suppose. I've taken my dads suggestion and took out the carpet in the trunk to put it in the garage so it can dry. If the trunk remains dry, that's one less thing to worry about.

We also fixed the steeringwheel that was a bit strange (also three tries to get that straightened out) and looked at the water problem in the front, but so far, that remains a mystery. First signs show no leakage of the heating installation, although I'll have to check water levels over the next days to confirm. The problem is of course, that if that ain't the cause, what is?

Two steps forward (rear light and steeringwheel), so we had to take one step back : as a serious storm developed over Belgium, windspeeds really picked up. While we were inside we suddenly heard some sounds that weren't normal. That low heavy duty plastic garden chair that was "parked" on the terrace, got scooped up by strong wind, and thrown down... right onto the hood of my beautiful car :(

Three (are you seeing a similarity here?) dents in my car hood and one garden chair that is ready to be thrown onto a pile of garbage.

Car vs Garden Chair : 1 - 0

Of course both Bob and Hilda were very sorry that it happened, but they shouldn't worry about it. Shit happens and if it were a 15 day old car, I'd mind. But for a 15 year old car that only should take me from point A to point B in a reliable and dry way, I don't give a damn. The paint ain't scratched, it's just dents. No chance for rust developing there, so what's the problem?

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This page is an archive of entries from February 2004 listed from newest to oldest.

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