October 2004 Archives

6.44%

That's the percentage of GTA San Andreas that I've completed after close to 9 hours playing. The bad thing is that I'm kinda stuck right now because the first OG mission is a series of dance moves at a beach party and I just can't focus on the rhythm because I regulary have to check what buttons are where - crappy PS2 controllers - and chasing a train with a motorcycle ain't that hard, but if Big Smoke would just focus on shooting the idiots on the train, I would pass the mission.

Instead he often just refuses to shoot for some weird reason, even when I right next to the frirst carriage, as required. Making money is way harder as in Vice City if you ask me, although the pimping missions generate good cash. Randomly robbing people still works, but most of them have either no, or very little cash on them it seems. I'll work my way up though, but it takes lots of time.

Now, that is something that I got it seems. It only 22h37 right now and I should stay up till 03h00 or even later coz I work nightshifts next week. Off to play some more I guess.

Kick, stab, run

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I've slept like a baby - that is if babies sleep long, well and silently. I'm quite rested at this point and I got up quite late, in order to shift towards a night shedule for next week. Played GTA : San Andreas for about 2 hours or so last night, and I enjoyed it a lot. Still getting used to the controls though as these are my first real steps on PS2 and I've never really bothered to get those damn controllers figured out. I'm much more used to playing on PC, but as SA probably isn't gonna be released for PC, I had to settle for PS2.

Now, let's see. I have to get out and buy enough food to last till tuesday afternoon, because monday everything will be closed due to some official holiday that has something to do with remembering dead people. I don't really pay much attention to details like that - the meaning of official holidays that is. Most of them are religious anyway and if there is something that I'm not...

What else? Oh, last night Joco shot some photographs when I was reading to Alex and as I was entertaining Michael. I don't know if they're up and the Coulon Family blog yet, but I think they'll appear sooner or later.

Weekend - phew

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Just finished a long - although not terribly busy - day at work and I'm pretty tired. After work I stopped over at a shop to pick up my preorders and then set off to Joco & Eef's place to suprise Joco with a little gift for his birthday. I had been feeding him tips all week long and this morning I received his three guesses as to what it was. All of them were wrong - and not even close - but they did match most if not all of the tips.

The funny thing is that he had been telling Eef about his assumptions each night, and she really had to try to keep a straight face, since she knew what the gift was. Apparently, they both enjoyed the week of puzzling.

Now... what can I say? When I actually handed him his gift and he opened his eyes, he went something like "Yeah! fuck! cool, wow!" when he noticed a copy of the GTA : San Adreas PS2 game in his hands. Yepz, it was released today and I made sure I got two copies of it - hence the preorders - and I'm glad I did... it's sold out as far as I know!

Enjoyed a good meal, played with Alex and little Michael who is growing fast and I'm home now. I'll check my mail and the start playing San Andres myself. Yes, on a brand new PS2 slimline console. Lucky me.

New releases

The first release candidate (RC1) has been released for Firefox and a final release is expected on November 9th. Mind you, if you are currently running the PR build, and you don't feel like being annoyed because a bunch of extentions don't work in the current RC1, don't upgrade but rather wait for the final release.

PuTTy has been updated to version 0.56 to fix a serious security hole in SSH2, and since FileZilla relies on PuTYy technology for its secure FTP connections, FileZilla has been patched to version 2.2.9.

Ethereal is onto version 0.10.7, and Eudora 6.2.0.8 is available as a beta release. A new stable release (1.2.6) of GnuPG is available, and a new version (v3.23b) of GPGkeys - part of GPGshell - has been released to fix two slightly annoying but non-critical errors.

If you use any of the programs mentioned above, I suggest looking into upgrading. I would rate the FileZilla and PuTTy upgrades as essential because of the security implications, whereas the Eudora, GnuPG, Ethereal, Firefox and GPGKeys updates are not really critical right now.

Remember the rule : don't fix what ain't broken. Keeping that in mind, I did install Firefox RC1, Ethereal network Analyzer 0.10.7, the FileZilla update as well as the GPGkeys patched version. I'm a geek, what can I say?

Election joys

I'm sure most of you have either read or noticed that the "official George W Bush" website is not accessible to non-US or Canadian people. Yes, that is correct : Georgey and his team have deliberately chosen to exclude everyone but American and Canadian visitors. Sure, there are ways to avoid the filtering, in fact simply using an american proxy will allow you to bypass the ban, but what is the point of it all?

Do you really trust a president who considers himself the "Leader of the Free World", yet gives the rest of the world population the finger? If that's the way it's gonna be, we all know what's gonna happen when he gets re-elected, don't we? Me, me, me, us, us us. Or should that be I, I, I, US, US, US?

If you're non US or Canadian, try reaching the George W Bush official site. If it fails, simply use this IP address instead (I wonder how long it'll take before they close that loophole) : http://65.172.163.222.

If you want to have a laugh instead, read GeorgeWBush.org

Laughing with minorities

These jokes are probably not policitally correct, but neither am I. If you think you might be offended, don't read them.

Son to his daddy : "Dad, what's a transvestite?"
Dad : "An intelligent woman."

A huge Moroccan bloke, athletically build, reaching a height close to 2m, weighing in at just under a 120 kilo, is sitting in his favorite pub when suddenly a gay man enters the pub.

The gay dude - in awe about the phantastic looks and sun burned appearance of Jamal - sits himself next to him and orders a Bailey's.

After a couple of minutes he gathers all his courage, scrapes his throat and whispers in the ear of Jamal : "would you like me to give you a blowjob?"

Jamal reacts in a split second and punches the gay right in the face, throwing him of his stool and flat onto the ground. Our Moroccan stands up, and kicks the gay bloke out of the pub, as if he were taking penalties.

Once outside him kicks his ass even more so the gay man is left for dead next to the garbage container. Finally regaining his composure, Jamal re-enters the pub and sits back down in his favorite spot.

Then the pubowner says : "Damn, Jamal, I've never seen you so mad before! What did that gay dude say to you to make you go beserk like that?"

To which Jamal answers : "I don't think I totally understood, but it was something in regard to getting a job."

Going deep, going wide

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Philips 28inch/70cm Real Flat TV So... hold your breath as you take a look at my new TV. I was originally going to get myself the Bluesky 72cm real flat TV, but as the Philips set was only a bit more expensive and provides better quality, I caved in. Good work by the salesman I'd say :)

Even though I was pretty tired yesterday evening I set everything up, which included moving some furniture around because this baby wouldn't fit without making some alterations. It's a world of difference though when compared to my - well, actually my sisters' - tiny TV that I had before. Somehow all the channels switched position so I'll either adapt myself to the new presets, or have to manually switch them around. I may look into that today. Hooking up the VCR and DVD player wasn't too difficult - yay for scart connectors - but I had to cut some cardboard to be able to feed them to the telly.

Yes, yes, I finally joined the era of widescreen TV.

Human Behaviour

Being employed "in the field" I must say that I agree a hundred percent with the statements that Bruce Schneier makes below. The best camera system, validation zone or ID check is totally worthless if you don't have alert people manning those systems and that personnel is trained to stop, question and re-check anything that seems out of the ordinary.

Unfortunately, human behaviour is to adapt to changing conditions, and if the client wants a speedier pass through, less strict checks or allows a more lenient attitude, the security concept as a total fails. Now on to Bruce's article :

Mountain View, CA, Oct. 22 (UPI) -- The World Series is no stranger to security. Fans try to sneak into the ballpark without tickets or with counterfeit tickets. Often foods and alcohol are prohibited from being brought into the ballpark, to enforce the monopoly of the high-priced concessions.

Violence is always a risk: both small fights and larger-scale riots that result from fans from both teams being in such close proximity -- like the one that almost happened during the sixth game of the American League Championship Series.

Today, the new risk is terrorism. Security at the Olympics cost $1.5 billion. Some $50 million each was spent at the Democratic and Republican conventions on security. There has been no public statement about the security bill for the World Series, but it's reasonable to assume it will be impressive.

In our fervor to defend ourselves, it's important that we spend our money wisely. Much of what people think of as security against terrorism doesn't actually make us safer. Even in a world of high-tech security, the most important solution is the guy watching to keep beer bottles from being thrown onto the field.

Generally, security measures that defend specific targets are wasteful, because they can be avoided simply by switching targets. If we completely defend the World Series from attack and the terrorists bomb a crowded shopping mall instead, little has been gained.

Even so, some high-profile locations, like national monuments and symbolic buildings and some high-profile events, like political conventions and championship sporting events, warrant additional security. What additional measures make sense?

Identification checks don't make sense. Everyone has an ID. Even the 9/11 terrorists had IDs. What we want is to somehow check intention; is the person going to do something bad? But we can't do that, so we check IDs instead. It's a complete waste of time and money and does absolutely nothing to make us safer.

Automatic face recognition systems don't work. Computers that automatically pick terrorists out of crowds are great movie plot devices, but don't work in the real world. We don't have a comprehensive photographic database of known terrorists. Even worse, the face recognition technology is so faulty that it often can't make the matches even when we do have decent photographs. We tried it at the 2001 Super Bowl; it was a failure.

Airport-like attendee screening doesn't work. The terrorists who took over the Russian school sneaked their weapons in long before their attack. And screening fans is only a small part of the solution. There are simply too many people, vehicles and supplies moving in and out of a ballpark regularly. This kind of security failed at the Olympics, as reporters proved again and again that they could sneak all sorts of things into the stadiums undetected.

What does work is people: smart security officials watching the crowds. It's called "behavior recognition," and it requires trained personnel looking for suspicious behavior. Does someone look out of place? Is he nervous and not watching the game? Is he not cheering, hissing, booing and waving like a sports fan would?

This is what good policemen do all the time. It's what Israeli airport security does. It works because instead of relying on checkpoints that can be bypassed, it relies on the human ability to notice something that just doesn't feel right. It's intuition, and it's far more effective than computerized security solutions.

Will this result in perfect security? Of course not. No security measures are guaranteed; all we can do is reduce the odds. And the best way to do that is to pay attention. A few hundred plainclothes policemen, walking around the stadium and watching for anything suspicious, will provide more security against terrorism than almost anything else we can reasonably do.

And the best thing about policemen is that they're adaptable. They can deal with terrorist threats, and they can deal with more common security issues, too.

Most of the threats at the World Series have nothing to do with terrorism; unruly or violent fans are a much more common problem. And more likely than a complex 9/11-like plot is a lone terrorist with a gun, a bomb, or something that will cause panic. But luckily, the security measures ballparks have already put in place to protect against the former also help protect against the latter.

(Bruce Schneier is a world-renowned security technologist. His latest book is "Beyond Fear: Thinking Sensibly About Security in an Uncertain World," and he publishes the monthly "Crypto-Gram" newsletter. He can be reached at www.schneier.com.)


If you're interested in human behaviour in a security context, I can recommend Kevin Mitnicks The Art of Deception, describing the tactics and tools used by social engineers. Both fascinating and scary at the same time.

Grin

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Just spent about 2 hours getting my ass to the center of the city, go check some prices over at Media Markt, a huge store filled to the brim with most electronic devices one can imagine. However, as they are usually pretty cheap, not to say the cheapest, this time they really dissappointed me. Maybe I shouldn't compare the in-store brand of shop A with the welknown brands that are being sold in Media Market, but still... a difference of 25% is pretty much if you ask me.

Too bad that in shop A they had run out of supply, so I'll have to go back tomorrow evening (after work) or postpone my visit till wednesday. I think the latter option is better anyway as I'll be beat tomorrow evening and I probably wont' feel like struggling with a huge 50 kilo large box.

Oh, the vagueness, don't you just love it?

As I was over at the supermarkt just a few minutes ago, a mum was there whith her adult daughter. They were standing in line behind me and suddenly the mum was discussing something and it went like this :

"Not too big, not too large, not too huge or to too tall. ...to be just fine" to which the adult daughter sighed and told mom to be less difficult. At that point the checkout lady as well as I bursted out in laughter, and then the checkout lady said to me "they were talking about boxes", and the daughter (not a classic beauty but a tall good looking blonde nonetheless) said to me "oh, yes... we were talking about boxes!". I just smiled and walked away. Apparently the three of them got the idea that I thought they were talking about me. Not that I would have minded to get to know her a bit better, but honestly, it didn't even cross my mind.

And guess what? Only now - at home - I come up with a witty reply like "damn, too bad" or something like that. I really got to kick my wits back in gear and dare to speak up more often. How else am I ever gonna find a sweet lady to love?

Kalknagels: hoe Novartis de wet omzeilt

Sorry, I'm only providing the dutch version of this article, because it is related to the book ("De Cholesteroloorlog - waarom geneesmiddelen zo duur zijn" by Dirk Van Duppen) I'm currently reading.

De verwachtingen of zelfs eisen van de pati�nten kunnen het voorschrijfgedrag van de artsen be�nvloeden. Iets waar de farma-industrie handig gebruik van weet te maken. Zo was recent op televisie een spot te zien die opriep om bij schimmelnagels een dokter te raadplegen. Deze campagne wordt voorgesteld als een initiatief van de VZW Hodie Vivere, maar in werkelijkheid wordt de hele zaak gestuurd door Novartis. Dat is de producent van Lamisil (terbinafine). De tabletvorm van dit geneesmiddel wordt vandaag beschouwd als het meest afdoende middel tegen schimmelnagels ("kalknagels"). De VZW Hodie Vivere heeft vroeger ook infocampagnes opgezet rond zwaarlijvigheid. Toen zat daar de firma Roche achter. Juist, de fabrikant van Xenical, product om af te vallen!

Lamisil in tabletvorm is een geneesmiddel op voorschrift. Publieksreclame is dus verboden. Wat doen farmaceutische bedrijven dan? Reclame maken voor de ziekte! Bijvoorbeeld door de aandoening "schimmelnagels" in de aandacht te brengen. Niet meteen een ziekte die wegens onderbehandeling doden maakt of voor veel leed zorgt. Schimmelnagels zijn onschuldig en hoeven maar zelden te worden behandeld. Wie echter het afschrikwekkende TV-spotje heeft gezien, zal meteen naar de dokter hollen en een behandeling eisen.

Een goede arts zou moeten uitleggen dat een behandeling niet per se noodzakelijk is (tenzij in zeer speciale gevallen) en de pati�nt wijzen op de bijwerkingen van Lamisil: vaak onschuldige, maar in een aantal gevallen ook vrij erge bijwerkingen. De meeste artsen zullen echter gewoon meteen het middel voorschrijven, zo werkt dat nu eenmaal. Te meer dat Novartis alle artsen heeft gecontacteerd om hen op de "voorlichtinsgscampagne" te attenderen. Kortom, via een op het eerste gezicht neutrale informatiecampagne kan een geneesmiddelenproducent zijn omzet flink vergroten. Novartis is hiermee niet aan zijn proefstuk toe. Zo zorgde een gelijkaardige campagne over kalknagels in Nederland voor een verdubbeling van de omzet van Lamisil. Lamisil is een terugbetaald geneesmiddel.

In Belgi� bedroegen in 2002 de netto-uitgaven wat de verplichte ziekteverzekering betreft voor de geneesmiddelen tegen schimmels bijna 16 miljoen euro, waarvan Lamisil 78% voor zijn rekening nam. Deze "info-campagne" kan het Riziv dus een aardige duit kosten. Het ergste is wel dat het hier gaat om gemeenschapsgeld dat wordt gespendeerd aan een aandoening die absoluut niet levensbedreigend is en heel vaak alleen een cosmetisch nadeel geeft ("het oogt niet fraai"). Dit terwijl er geld te kort is voor zware aandoeningen.

Deze campagne is een schoolvoorbeeld van de wijze waarop farmabedrijven het verbod op publieksreclame voor geneesmiddelen op voorschrift handig omzeilen. Het resultaat blijft voor hen gelijk: er wordt meer van het middel verkocht, en daar is het hen om te doen. Of ook de volksgezondheid daar bij gebaat is, is een andere zaak. (Bron : Test Aankoop)

Oh, one of those days!

I'm sure you've all had them as well, one of those days when you go to the bank to withdraw Plenty of Money™, go shopping and come home with No More Money™, yet you still don't have what you needed in the first place. To make things worse, while shopping you've pledged to Spending Even More Money™.

Yes, it's been one of those days. But... the good thing is that it'll bring me - and others - great pleasure. And that's much more worth than a couple of euro.

Going postal? Not today...

Thanks for all the concerned comments on the entry below people! I'm doing better and it's not that bad after all, now that the initial pain is gone and there's only some discomfort left. I guess a lot is due to the fact that most people keep their lips slightly moist, thus the skin doesn't dry out or cracks up. Everything should be healed in about a week or so...

Things to do tomorrow (random order) :

- Call E. (Done)
- Check oil level in car and possible add some oil (Done)
- run errands, get groceries (Done)
- check availability of some things (Done)
- check various models of other things (almost done)
- wake up early'ish (Done) and go to bed early
- clean the carpetsharks cage
- be annoyed because of postal strike (Done)
- file papers and stuff (Done)

Advice

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Does anyone remember the song by Cliff Richard "Lucky Lips"? Mine are not that lucky it seems. In fact, right now they're pretty numb but starting to hurt as time goes by. What happened you might wonder?

Let us just say that putting a fork that has been in a hot frying pan for a couple of minutes in your mouth is not a good idea. I was frying some meat and left to go check something on the telly and when I returned I picked up my fork, and did the dumb thing described above. As I heard the sizzling of my flesh when it came into contact with the hot metal, I knew something was quite wrong and even though I sucked on an icecube for a couple of minutes, the damage was/is done.

Good thing I now know - thanks to my first aid course last week - what first, second and third degree burns look like and how to care for them. Knowing what they look like is quite different from experiencing a first degree burn though, and to be honest, I wasn't really counting on having such a first hand experience. Ouchie.

All fixed up and ready to rock

Finally had my doctors appointement today - we have to be checked every 6 months - and everything checked out fine. In fact, it was confirmed that I lost 5 kilo over the past 6 months, and my blood pressure dropped from 17 over 9.5 (which was way too high) to a more acceptable - yet still on the high side - 14 over 9.

I think that if I keep on dropping weight, my bloodpressure should also stabilize at a lower level, possibly even getting back to my 12 over 8 pressure that I used to have for the first 20 or so years of my life.

My blood's off to the lab to run full tests on it, but unless I hear something back everything is fine with it. Mind you, these are normal/regular tests and we all take them. After today I'll also be allowed in the hot zone again - when the job requires it of course - because I lost access to it a couple of days ago due to the constant rescheduling of that doctors appointement.

Kim stops juggling Lleyton's balls

While I normally wouldn't post anything about things like this, I found my title too funny - har har - to pass up the opportunity. Kim and Lleyton broke up, and there will be no wedding. Now that I was able to share my remarkably funny title with the world, let us remember that the how, what or why is something that belongs in the private and intimate relation between people. There is no need for the "media" or "the public" to know details. If the both of them wanted you to know, they'd have told you in person.

Kinda busy yet not really.

I'm watching The Bourne Identity while at the same time giving someone a hand downloading and installing Wordpress, and I'm starting to feel tired as well.

Apart from that, I should finish the book I'm currently reading (Kevin Mitnick's "The Art of Deception") because I also have "Fences and Windows" by Naomi Klein to start in, and I'm expecting "De Cholesteroloorlog" (about the pharmaceutical industry) any day now. In the mean time I hope to be relaxing with the two Scala CD's I ordered - thanks to Joco for introducing me to them - although I've got yet to get confirmation that one of them (the limited edition double CD) was shipped.

Lists, part 2

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101. Gotten a tattoo
102. Found that the texture of some materials can turn you on
103. Rafted the Snake River
104. Been on television news programs as an "expert"
105. Got flowers for no reason
106. Masturbated in a public place
107. Got so drunk you don't remember anything
108. Been addicted to some form of illegal drug
109. Performed on stage
110. Been to Las Vegas

111. Recorded music
112. Eaten shark*
113. Had a one-night stand*
114. Gone to Thailand
115. Seen Siouxsie live
116. Bought a house
117. Been in a combat zone
118. Buried one/both of your parents
119. Shaved or waxed your pubic hair off*
120. Been on a cruise ship

121. Spoken more than one language fluently
122. Gotten into a fight while attempting to defend someone
123. Bounced a check
124. Performed in Rocky Horror
125. Read - and understood - your credit report
126. Raised children
127. Recently bought and played with a favorite childhood toy
128. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
129. Created and named your own constellation of stars
130. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country

131. Found out something significant that your ancestors did
132. Called or written your Congress person
133. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
134. ...more than once? - More than thrice?
135. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
136. Sang loudly in the car, and didn't stop when you knew someone was looking
137. Had an abortion or your female partner did
138. Had plastic surgery
139. Survived an accident that you shouldn't have survived
140. Wrote articles for a large publication (depends on what you define as large)

141. Lost over 100 pounds
142. Held someone while they were having a flashback
143. Piloted an airplane
144. Petted a stingray
145. Broken someone's heart
146. Helped an animal give birth
147. Been fired or laid off from a job
148. Won money on a T.V. game show
149. Broken a bone
150. Killed a human being

151. Gone on an African photo safari
152. Ridden a motorcycle
153. Driven any land vehicle at a speed of greater than 100mph
154. Had a body part of yours below the neck pierced
155. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol*
156. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
157. Ridden a horse
158. Had major surgery
159. Had sex on a moving train*
160. Had a snake as a pet

161. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
162. Slept through an entire flight: takeoff, flight, and landing
163. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
164. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states (not that hard since I'm not from the US)
165. Visited all 7 continents
166. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
167. Eaten kangaroo meat
168. Fallen in love at an ancient Mayan burial ground
169. Been a sperm or egg donor
170. Eaten sushi*

171. Had your picture in the newspaper
172. Had 2 (or more) healthy romantic relationships for over a year in your lifetime*
173. Changed someone's mind about something you care deeply about
174. Gotten someone fired for their actions
175. Gone back to school
176. Parasailed
177. Changed your name
178. Petted a cockroach
179. Eaten fried green tomatoes
180. Read The Iliad

181. Selected one "important" author who you missed in school, and read
182. Dined in a restaurant and stolen silverware, plates, cups because your apartment needed them.
183. ...and gotten 86'ed from the restaurant because you did it so many times, they figured out it was you
184. Taught yourself an art from scratch
185. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
186. Apologized to someone years after inflicting the hurt
187. Skipped all your school reunions
188. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
189. Been elected to public office
190. Written your own computer language

191. Thought to yourself that you're living your dream
192. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
193. Built your own PC from parts
194. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn't know you
195. Had a booth at a street fair
196: Dyed your hair
197: Been a DJ
198: Found out someone was going to dump you via LiveJournal
199: Written your own role playing game
200: Been arrested

High stakes

Something really sucks, but I can't/won't go into more detail right now. Let's just say that whatever option I'd have picked, I would feel bad about it. It's not even really a matter of picking between two bad things, it's more a matter of how involved one (should) get(s) in a game with pretty high stakes.

Your daily FK fix, now guaranteed!

As I noticed a problem with the main friedkitten.com domain earlier on, I took the necessary steps to provide a backup domain pointing to the same content : friedkitten.be.

While this doesn't solve problems with the main hosting account that serves multiple domains and content, it should provide enough back up in case the domain redirection fails somehow. Something that is far more likely to happen than my host going down for a long time.

Make sure you bookmark friedkitten.be in addittion to friedkitten.com - I wouldn't want you go cold turkey when you can't get your daily FK fix!

FK Photogallery

Just spent quite some time bringing my half-assed botched Gallery install back up to date. Ever since a few upgrades went totally wrong, I have been experiencing problems with it, but it seems I was finally able to fix most of them.

Unfortunately, one album somehow disappeared into thin air, so I had to remove it from the list. I may or may not reupload all the missing photographs but for the time being it's not on my to-do list. At least not in a very high position.

I'm gonna leave the install as it is - if it works : good, if you experience errors : too bad - and possibly drop it all and get something else installed. Depending on disk space issues it might be removed completely over time.

Oh, to make things even more interesting, there have been no new photos added, which only shows that it ain't being used much by me.

Waiting sucks

Getting up this early when I'm doing a late shift really sucks, especially when the reason I'm up is that some people are coming over to check the heating meters... somewhere between 08h00 and 12h30. Why the fuck can't they be more specific? This way I'm forced to get up early, and stay home till they get here and leave again.

I've got other things to do, you know? Like running errands, buy groceries and all of these others enjoyable chores. At least I used the last 45 minutes well as I've been picking up things all over the place and either relocated them to their proper place, filed them, or threw them out altogether. The place looks much "cleaner" now.

Lists, lists...

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To make up for my long assed boring technical entry before, here's a long assed less technical boring entry. Lists lists and more lists. Everything I've done is in italics. Things I plan on doing somewhere next year have an asterisk next to them.

01. Bought everyone in the pub a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said 'I love you' and meant it
09. Hugged a tree
10. Done a striptease

11. Bungee jumped*
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Stayed up all night long, and watch the sun rise
15. Seen the Northern Lights
16. Gone to a huge sports game
17. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
18. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
19. Touched an iceberg
20. Slept under the stars

21. Changed a baby's diaper
22. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon*
23. Watched a meteor shower
24. Gotten drunk on champagne
25. Given more than you can afford to charity
26. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
27. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
28. Had a food fight
29. Bet on a winning horse
30. Taken a sick day when you're not ill

31. Asked out a stranger*
32. Had a snowball fight
33. Photocopied your bottom on the office photocopier
34. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
35. Held a lamb
36. Enacted a favorite fantasy
37. Taken a midnight skinny dip
38. Taken an ice cold bath (it was in a swimming pool, does that count?)
39. Had a meaningful conversation with a beggar
40. Seen a total eclipse

41. Ridden a roller coaster
42. Hit a home run
43. Fit three weeks miraculously into three days
44. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
45. Adopted an accent for an entire day
46. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
47. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
48. Had two hard drives for your computer.
49. Visited all 50 states
50. Loved your job for all accounts

51. Taken care of someone who was shit faced
52. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
53. Had amazing friends
54. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
55. Watched wild whales
56. Stolen a sign
57. Backpacked in Europe
58. Taken a road-trip
59. Rock climbing
60. Lied to foreign government's official in that country to avoid notice

61. Midnight walk on the beach
62. Sky diving*
63. Visited Ireland (nothern ireland, actually)
64. Been heartbroken longer then you were actually in love
65. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger's table and had a meal with them
66. Visited Japan
67. Benchpressed your own weight*
68. Milked a cow (lol, I did attempt it once... and failed)
69. Alphabetized your records
70. Pretended to be a superhero

71. Sung karaoke
72. Lounged around in bed all day
73. Posed nude in front of strangers
74. Scuba diving
75. Got it on to "Let's Get It On" by Marvin Gaye
76. Kissed in the rain
77. Played in the mud
78. Played in the rain
79. Gone to a drive-in theater
80. Done something you should regret, but don't regret it.

81. Visited the Great Wall of China
82. Discovered that someone who's not supposed to have known about your blog has discovered your blog
83. Dropped Windows in favor of something better
84. Started a business
85. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
86. Toured ancient sites
87. Taken a martial arts class
88. Swordfought for the honor of a woman*
89. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
90. Gotten married

91. Been in a movie
92. Crashed a party
93. Loved someone you shouldn't have
94. Kissed someone so passionately it made them dizzy
95. Gotten divorced
96. Had sex at the office
97. Gone without food for 5 days*
98. Made cookies from scratch
99. Won first prize in a costume contest
100. Ridden a gondola in Venice

Gone Phishing

Just received a phishing mail, trying to obtain my citibank credit card number, user ID, password and ATM PIN code. While this scam was above average, I immediately spotted the fact that it was fraudulent. I'm not a citibank customer after all.

Let's take a look at the site the scammers set up - follow the link only if you know what you are doing! it is a FAKE/FRAUDULENT SITE.

http://221.4.199.31/citifi/

The scammers did quite a nice job impersonating the real citibank site, but a bunch of things really don't match up : Your information is transmitted using 128bit SSL encryption. but I don't see any https protocol being used, nor is there a security certificate. They have cleverly "borrowed" some images from the real citibank site though, in an attempt to make it all look more legit.

Now let's take a look at the ip address used. It belongs to the IP pool of a company called China Network Communications Group Corporation, located in Beijing, China. Do you really think citibank uses a chinese host to serve pages to their customers? Let us verify and see if the IP address is known from previous spam or scam operations. It does show up when querying spamhaus.org because it's listed in their SBL.

In fact, the range has been used before by Robert Soloway - Newport Internet Marketing, but I'm not saying that he is behind this phishing mail. It is a strange coincidence though to have a known ROKSO spam gang and a phishing group, use the same address range, without them being related, wouldn't you say?

Now that we know all this, let's take a closer look at the host for the site : China Network Communications Group Corporation. Spamhaus has 10 entries in relation to CNC, and of those ten entries, 3 are related to ROKSO activity. What this means in everyday language is that this host has been involved in spam related activities at least ten times and in three cases they were (ab)used by professional spam gangs.

It's not that hard to look up some info if you have doubts about something and while I don't expect you to do so, the one thing you have to keep in mind is very simple : no one should ask for your password, account number, Pin code or things like that. Not by mail, not by phone and not on some website you are pointed to.

Yes, I did report the mail to the abuse center of the real city bank corporation, even though it doesn't affect me.

Note to self

I'm a sexy biatch - I just don't always recall that fact.

Off to the pub

later tonight to watch table soccer competition. I'm a replacement - call-me-when-needed-and-its-all-lost-anyway - player anyway, but I go more for the hanging out with my friends part than to actually kick that little ball around. Who knows, there might even be hot chicks around... that's more interesting, wouldn't you say?

Doing some calculations

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Had a meeting to look at various refinancing options, and I was a bit surprised yet disappointed as well. It seems that if I go for long term security (fixed rate) the amount I can save monthly is not earth shaking. I was hoping for more, but I guess that only is possible if I'm willing to take some risk and allow for possible rises.

When we took out our mortgage about 5.5 years ago - has it only been that long? - we (the ex and I) both decided to play it safe. I still (partially) feel the same way, even though there are benefits for taking risks. Ain't there always?

The good thing is that in my case, the bank would almost without a doubt accept my application, and have no additionnal requirements such as opening an account with them, using their insurance offers and such. Which is a great thing because I'd hate to change banks, account numbers and things like that. And taking on another account and bank just for the mortgage doesn't make sense, I've got plently of accounts and banks do deal with as it is.

Hm... I need some input of you people - keep in mind my current monthly payment is 534.76 :

Option 1 :
Case A : refinance and pay 508.90 monthly for 15 years (fixed)
Case B : refinance and pay 463.73 monthly with possible rise to 537.74
Case C : refinance and pay 460.65 monthly with possible rise to 548.53

Option 2 :
Case A : Refinance + quite some cash, pay 461.21 monthly for 15 years (fixed)

Option 3 :
Case A : Refinance and pay 370.76 with possible rise to 467.31 (20 years)
Case B : Refinance and pay 373.96 with possible rise to 454.81 (20 years)
Case C : Refinance and pay 429.64 for 20 years (fixed)

I've already scrapped the options I won't consider (either because they are too long term, or the monthly payment could rise to much), but I left them in to give you a complete list of options.

Bleh

Some days I just don't feel like it. Usually when I have to get up way too early and went to bed way too late. Like last night, arrrggh. Rain and showers are expected... Have pity, poor me.

As promised

Finished the first aid course today around ten, followed by a 10 question written exam and I think I managed the get at least somethings correct, or partially correct. It ain't easy to have a bunch of information on wich you have no prior training crammed into your skull in a time span of 20 hours, where the course used to take 40 hours. I'm pretty sure though that I learned a bunch of useful things, and I managed to revive our unconcious test doll that had stopped breathing and had no pulse.

Stopped over at the police station to pick up the document I requested last night and sent it off to the office. I had been waiting for my official ID card for the past 6 months but as I knew it could take a while I wasn't worried. Only when a colleague that took the initial course at the same time as I did told me he had his ID card for quite a while, I knew something was wrong. Sure enough, the peeps at the office "forgot" to take the necessary steps to get me a badge, so if I didn't enquire, it could have taken another zillion years before anyone would do something. Of course, due to their cock-up, the initial documents I filed with them had expired - they're only valid for 6 months - and I had to go running around for a new valid set. Apparently I'm still a law-abiding citizen since I got the documents I asked for without problems.

Tomorrow and friday are working days - early shift - I've got an appointement with the doctor at work tomorrow morning, and in the afternoon after I've finished my shift I have one to take a look at my mortgage. I'm home over the weekend, on monday someone comes over to get the readings on the radiators, and monday afternoon I start my late shift.

What this means is the following : if I wanna play some Port Royale 2, I gotta do it today. Bye!

No update

I may have more to post tomorrow, depending on how much time I want to throw at updating this blog.

The rules

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Found this at another blog and considered it funny enough to post here. I've italicised (is that even a proper word?) those that I found real beauties.

We always hear "the rules" from the female side. Now here are the rules from the male side. These are our rules!

Please note... these are all numbered "1" ON PURPOSE!

1. Learn to work the toilet seat. You're a big girl. If it's up, put it down. We need it up, you need it down. You don't hear us complaining about you leaving it down.

1. Sunday sports. It's like the full moon or the changing of the tides. Let it be.

1. Shopping is NOT a sport. And no, we are never going to think of it that way.

1. Crying is blackmail.

1. Ask for what you want. Let us be clear on this one: Subtle hints do not work! Strong hints do not work! Obvious hints do not work! Just say it!

1. Yes and No are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every question.

1. Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it. That's what we do. Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.

1. A headache that lasts for 17 months is a problem. See a doctor.

1. Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument. In fact, all comments become null and void after 7 days.

1. If you won't dress like the Victoria's Secret girls, don't expect us to act like soap opera guys.

1. If something we said can be interpreted two ways and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one.

1. You can either ask us to do something or tell us how you want it done. Not both. If you already know best how to do it, just do it yourself.

1. Whenever possible, please say whatever you have to say during commercials.

1. Christopher Columbus did not need directions and neither do we.

1. ALL men see in only 16 colors, like Windows default settings. Peach, for example, is a fruit, not a color. Pumpkin is also a fruit. We have no idea what mauve is.

1. If it itches, it will be scratched. We do that.

1. If we ask what is wrong and you say "nothing", we will act like nothing's wrong. We know you are lying, but it is just not worth the hassle.

1. If you ask a question you don't want an answer to, expect an answer you don't want to hear.

1. When we have to go somewhere, absolutely anything you wear is fine... Really.

1. Don't ask us what we're thinking about unless you are prepared to discuss such topics as baseball, the shotgun formation, or monster trucks.

1. You have enough clothes.

1. You have too many shoes.

1. I am in shape. Round is a shape.

1. Thank you for reading this. Yes, I know, I have to sleep on the couch tonight; but did you know men really don't mind that? It's like camping.

I think I've gotta use some as taglines in my outgoing mails... Oh, and just so you ladies understand : We know we often act like little kids. We're perfectly fine with it.

Saving lives

And off I go on a course to learn how to save people. Two and a half day (20 hours) of medical techniques, handling stretchers, bandages and such. Should be fun, and even more importantly, come in handy.

You have the freedom to shut up

I doubt most of my readers care about it, but I really think they should, at least if freedom of speech and free news collection and journalism means anything to you.

What am I talking about? The seizure of two indymedia servers on wednesday morning when Rackspace (one of indymedia's hosting providers) was served with a subpoena. Apparently, the court order originated from governement sources in Italy as well as Switzerland, but as of now, Indymedia still has not been informed why the servers were taken down, nor has it any clue what the charges are. With the two servers gone, at least 20 local indymedia sites have been silenced, amongst others all Belgian indymedia sites, all of France, Poland, Portugal, part of Germany etc.

What disturbs me most is the fact that Rackspace is not allowed to disclose information about it all, they only stated "In the present matter regarding Indymedia, Rackspace Managed Hosting, a U.S. based company with offices in London, is acting in compliance with a court order pursuant to a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), which establishes procedures for countries to assist each other in investigations such as international terrorism, kidnapping and money laundering. Rackspace responded to a Commissioner's subpoena, duly issued under Title 28, United States Code, Section 1782 in an investigation that did not arise in the United States. Rackspace is acting as a good corporate citizen and is cooperating with international law enforcement authorities. The court prohibits Rackspace from commenting further on this matter.". (Taken from the indymedia site)

Actually, when I started a LiveChat session with a Rackspace employee, and asked about the URL for the press release in regard to the indymedia servers, his answer was "I'm a sales person, I'm not aware of our press releases." When I inquired further as to who'd I have to talk to then, I was promptly served with a Page not Found error in the LiveChat window. How convenient.

Does this make sense to anyone? When did anyone lose the freedom to tell others what is being done to them? When did we give that up? If I'm ever being served with whatever lawsuit, intimidation or threats imaginable, I won't back down and shut up, since that's just what they want. If no one knows about it, how can anyone back you up, support you or even discuss the case?

Friends

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Went out last night with some very cool people - you know who you are - and had tons of fun, great food and I really enjoyed the evening.

Not today, please

So much things I just wanted to get out of the way, but I feel too tired to continue. Went over to Bob & Hilda's new place today - finally! - and hung around and chatted for a couple of hours. Quite a nice place they've got there, and mighty convenient when it comes to traffic jams. Not that I really benefitted from it, as it took me way over an hour to get home, something that would probably only have take me 45 to 50 minutes around 14h15.

Next week is three days of training, two early shifts and then working together with another team for the coming weeks so I can get even more training. I already warned them that I'd prefer to "assist" for a few weeks to really work the ropes and get more accustomed to the system and the specifics of it all, but it seems they're neglecting my suggestion. I've got no problem with the technical side of it all - it's plain multitasking, nothing more or less - but there is so much to do that requires a good knowledge of the site, the people working there and quite some background of it all. Things you can't accomplish in about 6 months time.

Jess let me know she had a bit of an accident with her car today, but she's fine and no one is injured. Only her car has a few new dents and bumps but nothing her insurance won't take care off. Phew for knowing she's fine.

Tomorrow is party time with Joco & Eef, but I first have to meet up with Viviane and Mike around 14h00 to give her some courage and tips in regard to the course she's taking. Shouldn't be too hard.

I really wished a certain someone would either let me know she's still alive and well, or tell me to go fuck myself right away. I hope for the first, but fear I won't even get the latter. Bleh.

Received my two DVD's that I ordered a couple of days back, which really suprised me as I didn't even get the expected - and promised - confirmation mail about my order. They just showed up on my front door today. For those that know the band, or are willing to look them up, I got Bitchcraft and The Bitch O'Clock News, both by Rockbitch.

Second attempt

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Due to recent changes in current mortgage offerings from various banks, I've requested a new appointement with De Immotheker to see what options I have to change/refinance my mortgage. I've had a talk with them before (july 2003) but at that point in time I was out of a job and thus would have been rejected by pretty my all banks except for one.

The situation is quite a bit different now, so that should give me much more options to save some money.

Update : Appointement made for next week on thursday. Yay.

Oh, the irony

when that same teamleader that called me yesterday had to be called himself today around 05h45. His first words on the phone were something like "oh fuck, hell crap shit". That sums it up quite nicely I'd say.

Two more colleagues in our team, I wonder if one of them will be late tomorrow - it would show some awesome solidarity, wouldn't it?

Oops

I was kind of awake this morning when suddenly my phone rang - I jumped out of bed, wondering who'd call me at 4 in the morning, as this is way too early for anyone to be up unless there was some kind of emergency. I pick up the phone, and hear a familiar voice saying "it's quite bad news if you pick up the phone at this hour, ain't it?", to which I reply "bad news, how's that?". The answer was an eye opener though : "well, it's 5h55 right now, does that ring a bell?"

Oops... I start work at 05h45 - officially only at 06h00, but I usually get in pretty early - and there I was, talking on the phone at home, in the nude (yay, too much information for some people, lol), to my teamleader. The drive to work takes about 35 minutes when there is next to no traffic and without including getting dressed, grabbing good, washing, securing the apartment, walking to the car and such. I made it out of my place and into my car in less than 8 minutes - fully dressed that is! I arrived at work at 06h45 coz traffic was quite a bit more dense as it is at 05h00. First time I'm late, but I think it still sucks as it means a colleague had to stay late. I plan on going in real early tomorrow to make up for it.

Not that doing so will help me recover the lost hour (45 minutes, but I guess they'll deduct an hour from my paycheck) but I think the colleague may appreciate the fact that he can leave early.

What else is new? I heard we (Team 2 that is) got a meeting with the site chief as well as with someone of the company on thursday, after our shift has ended and I don't really know what to expect of it. It's my first such meeting as I'm the new guy on the team and lets just say that there has been some frustration and irritation overall. Not that it really affects me, as I'm not (yet?) high enough up on the food chain to be included in workplace politics, which suits me fine. I hate those things anyway. I value people for who the are and what they do, not for what others say, think or advise me. Oh, and the schedule that was posted up till the 20th of this month has been retracted and should only be correct up till the 17th.

An upcoming - and delayed I believe - revision is the cause of all of this, and thus could change lots of things around. Next week three days of first aid training (monday to wednesday) and then I should be fully up to par with customer requirements.

New function enforces comment limit

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Even though MT-Blacklist is doing a very good job protecting this blog from comment spam, I've just installed an additional script to close comments after a certain amount of time and inactivity. While this means readers won't be able to comment on pretty old entries, that doesn't really matter as hardly anyone does. It's very rare to get comments on archived entries, apart from spam comments that is.

The benefit of the script is that the time window for spammers becomes smaller, because there'll be less comments to spam on, and a higher chance of me noticing such an occurence. All this text to inform you that if you click on a comment link but don't get an option to actually leave a comment, this is quite normal and intended behaviour. It shouldn't happen on "recent" posts though. As always, if you notice problems or run into trouble, feel free to let me know!

In other and slightly related news, I've decided to discard all mail not arriving at the official FK e-mail address. I used to have a catch-all activated, but since spammers just love(d) to fuck up my domain(s) there is no other solution I think. Since a few seconds, all non-official e-mail address using mail goes straight into the bit bucket. This includes some of the previous addresses I created, but that were never used. They may still be mentioned on the blog in older entries though, but you shouldn't use those anymore.

Updates

Crap - Forgot what I was gonna write. Firefox 1.0 has just been patched to 1.0.1, go grab your update. My own (work) shedule has been updated as well.

Oh... I got this spam mail that had a hilarious opening line if you ask me. It went like this :

"Hello, a conclusion is just something you reach when you're tired of thinking."

Could life be that simple?

Opens eyes...

Hey, I'm back at home it seems, cool! This means I made it through the day so far which is suprising to be honest. When I got up this morning, I already realized that it would be quite hard to stay awake, and staring at 24 monitor/TV's all day long didn't really help.

When my 8 hours shift was done, I drove over to a different site for an additional one hour shift, and since today was the first weekend I did there after they "stripped" it - those in the same line of work as me will understand - resulting in doing the extended weekend round for the first time. According to some people, one should be able to do it in 29 minutes, and to that I say fuck off, impossible!

The shorter round we do during the week takes me about 31 minutes, and todays extended one I ended after 45 minutes because my shift ended. I got up to strip 36 although I'm sure I missed some and got some out of order. I wonder why no one so far has gotten the brilliant idea to put numbers next to the tags, that way you can at least verify you got the correct one. You got to admit that (this is a fake description) "east basement emergency door Z51" doesn't say much when you're in a pretty large basement full of doors and rooms labelled Zxx. Sure, it's unique and precise but is it clear and understandable? I doubt it very much.

Apart from that, here's my take on strips : "use strips, get strippers". In other words, instead of actively looking around, checking for things that might be out of the ordinary or that need attention, we have to focus on strips hidden in the most impossible places in a building. Secure? My ass. Combine that with the "pay peanuts, get monkeys" fact and a strict time registration and you can imagine the gross result, can't you?

Earlier on, I arrived about 20 minutes early, had figured out a route that brought me through the complete building and could focus on what was important. I didn't mind starting early, even though I knew they wouldn't pay me for it. Now I arrive exactly 1 to 5 minutes early, punch in just in time and chase strips throughout the building. If the clock strikes, my shift ends and I go home, no matter where I ended up on the round.

They are definitely getting what they bargained for, and I'm not the only one thinking this way. If they don't want to invest in people but instead invest in "control and measurement/checking" the performance of those people - their capital and way of generating profit - it all becomes very counter productive, believe me.

Typical male shopper?

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As I was cruising the supermarket today, I came across Underworld in a Limited Edition DVD version for quite a nice price so I picked it up. I ain't seen the movie yet - was planning to see it in the theatre but alas that didn't happen - so I just hope it's worth it. I think though that they took the Limited a bit too literally as it's a regular box, with a DVD but not a single leaflet or anything in it. I would at least expect a booklet about the movie, or just a leaflet but this one has nothing, nada.

Anyway, I admit it. It was the cover of the box depicting Kate Benckinsale in a dark tight fetish-like goth costume, shortish black hair and with an aura of mystique surrounding her that made me notice and buy it. Yes, it's true, I'm a typically male shopper : slap a hot woman on it and I'm sold. Well, that's not totally true because I'm fairly difficult when it comes to women yet I am not when it comes to advertising it seems. I'm a contradictio interruptus in terminis.

Another month gone

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Time really flies recently if you ask me. Maybe it's due to the fact that I work odd days and times and thus have less of a "regular" sense of time, coz I can't really come up with another reason why it would seem like it.

October has just started and already X-mas is around the corner. Gotta do some shopping today (after I've slept that is) and some chores around the place. I'm gonna give Joco a call to see if he's working from home and if so I'll pop over to say hi to him, Eef and the kiddo's.

Off to watch some more TV, read a few pages in my book and get a good rest. Oh, and I wished that a certain someone - I think she knows who I mean - would be more - I can't find the correct word here - open to new things.

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

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