Monthly Archives: August 2006

GMail drowns in spam

It seems the spammers now have the edge over GMail’s antispam algorithms. It appears to be down to spam that contains lots and lots of random text, with an image containing the actual ad. (If enough spammers generate random text for long enough, will one of them eventually send Shakespeare to somebody?)

I’m not sure how many have been arriving, but there’s certainly a large number sneaking through into my Inbox, and counting those that consequently get thrown (by me) there, the Spam Folder now contains over 6500 spam, going back about a month (which is how long Gmail holds them before auto-purging).

That makes over 200 per day, which includes those directed at my old email accounts that now get directed to Gmail. Perhaps 20 of those are arriving in the Inbox. Of course, I’d rather they get through to the Inbox than any false positives go to the spam folder.

It’s probably not helped by Google Groups refusing to obfuscate the From address when posting onto Usenet. I don’t know how many addresses still get harvested off Usenet, since most users know full-well to munge their addresses, but I bet it’s quite a few.


Am I the only one that continually gets a warning about newer format of PDF files, even though every time it comes up I tell it “Do not show this message again” ?

Acrobat warning

I know I’m a version behind on Acrobat. Version 6 is the corporate version. I’ve never known it to matter, and I’m happy with what I’ve got. Please stop bugging me to upgrade.

Windows Vista startup sound

There’s a lot of fuss about this idea of Microsoft’s to have a non-customisable, non-removable Windows Vista startup sound. That is, real startup, as the logon screen appears.

I reckon that’s one of the stupidest ideas they’ve had in a long time. At least nobody had to buy Microsoft Bob. At least you could (eventually) turn off Clippy. Not that anybody has to upgrade to Vista either, but you can bet it’ll be very difficult to get anything else on a new PC by this time next year, and not all of us want to migrate to Mac or Linux.

As Ed Bott says, there are lots of reasons you might not want an unstoppable sound when starting up the computer. Sometimes you just want the computer to be silent (there’s a reason some people disable sounds in web browsers) and you may not be able to get to the volume control/mute quick enough to shut it up. In fact, some speakers don’t have volume knobs; it’s all done within Windows, after you logon.

How many times in the past have you heard someone setting up Windows and it blaring out the startup sound during the first boot? Imagine that on every boot, and not adjustable. Bleuch.

If they go ahead with this plan, it’ll be just another reason for me to hold back and avoid upgrading… at least until someone works out a hack for it.

Are you my mummy? (Hugo award winners)

Awarded a few hours ago: 2006 Hugo Award winners.

Very pleased to see one of the greatest 90 minutes of television I watched last year, the Doctor Who story “The Empty Child” / “The Doctor Dances” got a geurnsey for best dramatic presentation: short form.

PS. Monday morning. Paul Cornell on the shock of Doctor Who beating Battlestar Gallactica for a Hugo.

PPS. Thursday. Video of the award ceremony:

Outlook sigs out of sync

Using Outlook, but your signatures are going a bit funny? Turns out it keeps multiple copies of them, in RTF, HTML and TXT format, and sometimes they get out of sync. They’re in Documents and Settings\Username\Application Data\Microsoft\Signatures — if you check what’s there and delete any old ones, you should be okay after that. (Thanks Dave)

The importance of accessibility

Raymond Chen on why accessibility is not just for disabled people. It’s also of huge benefit to automation, for testing and integration purposes (including such diverse uses as screen scraping and speech recognition).

You bet. It’s the lack of consideration for this kind of thing that gives me my pathological hatred for web sites developed entirely in Flash, or some other mutant horror of leading-edge technologies. Too often you’ll find some whiz-bang heavy commercial ad-merchant has somehow got in control of the site design for some company that should know better, and rendered the whole site unusable…

  • with the keyboard
  • by the blind
  • let alone the blind using keyboards
  • by anybody without IE6
  • or who has a popup blocker
  • or likes to use the web in silence
  • or is trying to get around the fact that the site has no RSS or web services or any other hooks, and is trying to screen-scrape/parse the HTML

Of course I can’t stop these idiots putting pages up. And they take no notice of anything anybody says about them. But in most cases I don’t have to do business with them.

One of the side-effects of sticking to accessibility and restraint in the technologies you use is that the designs tend to be more future-proof. While some web sites are breaking under Firefox, I reckon a lot more will break under IE7 when it gets pushed out to millions of XP users.

Wizard School

I think Stevey’s living in a dream world. Coding is not just the thing. For some reason, there’s maturity involved in there too. And I don’t think you can be trained up for that. Security Sistem

From: HSBC Bank PLC
Subject: Security Sistem

Dear HSBC Member,

We have reason to suspect that your HSBC account may be in use by an unauthorized party.


I think I should click on the link to check out this sicurety pblum. What do you think?

Phones are too complex

Mobile phone companies have a problem: price competition is causing dropping call revenue. Solution: push phones that do data services.

Thing is, I use my phone to make phone calls. Oh, and as an alarm clock. Seems that lots of other people are only interested in mobile phones as telephones too. These people are destroying civilisation by being unprofitable consumers.

Freebie PDF creation

I gave PDF Creator a go last week. It’s pretty good for a freebie, quite easy to use, and has some configuration and so on.

Trying it with Word documents it did seem to have problems with some fonts/styles though (generally for users other than me looking at the PDFs), so it’s worth being wary if you rely on accurate PDF-rendition. In my case, the (alas not free) Acrobat works better.

Ultimately I suspect for “industrial-strength” PDF-creation it’s best to stick to the genuine-but-expensive Acrobat Standard or Pro. The cheaper (or free) alternatives are pretty good, but don’t quite seem to cut it when the going gets tough.

Mind you if you’re not prepared to pay for Acrobat (AU$400+ for standard… pah, their time will come) I don’t see a compelling reason to get a cheaper one when PDF Creator is free.