Site maintenance

Some time in the next couple of weeks, there’s a possibility that some/all the Slovenia snowboarding photographs will be unavailable – sorry about that. As part of moving house and the odd (to my mind) way PIPEX handle house moves, I have to completely cancel my old account, then create a new one from scratch – a bit of a bugger.

Unfortunately, for reasons of space, the Slovenia photographs are stored on the webspace that comes with the PIPEX broadband account, rather than on the server. Lou took a backup today, and will be able to restore the pictures to their new location as soon as the new account is activated, but I probably won’t be able to update the code reflect the new address until I get back from Palm Beach.

Finally. I hope to (somehow) make use of the upload facilities on the server to upload any reasonable pics I take whist I’m in Palm Beach (the company’s firewall blocks outgoing traffic on port21, so I can’t use FTP) and link them somewhere in this journal.

Catching up

It’s been a week of catching up on the drinking front. When I say ‘catching up’, I mean that it was Mistress Shepster’s birthday last week, but as she was running the London Marathon on Sunday, she was unable to partake in a celebratory birthday tipple… so had to celebrate all over again this week, when she could join in too! Last Sunday was a surprisingly beautiful hot day – great for spectating the marathon. Was most disappointed to miss Sarah running though… probably something to do with the 30,000-odd other runners, but here she is shortly afterwards in the pub, looking amazingly recovered and healthy, and of course, wearing her flora medal with pride:

Well, due to a stressful couple of weeks on the attempt to move front (ie. current landlord giving us a bad and untrue reference thus failing us in reference checks for new place / handing over cash to current landlord in exchange for a decent ref / prospective landlord’s suspicions over legitimacy of upgraded ref, etc etc) we decided to take it easy over the easter holiday. Was I the only person on this planet who’d never played on a Play Station? At least that’s been rectified now thanks to PaRappa-The-Rapper.

Last night was another belated birthday celebration: went to Banana Cabaret at
The Bedford Arms in Balham. The best, and funniest, acts were Marion Pashley and John Fothergill (a Yorkshire bird and Geordie bloke, funnily enough…). It’s £13 on the door for an excellent night which includes several hours of stand-up comedy followed by the cheesiest of cheddartastic discos! Pretty tasty food is served too – a big plate of gorgeous thai curry for a fiver even ‘put us on’ ’til going home via the kebab shop…

Happy Easter one and all!

Stuff to do over easter

Easter. The time of love, faith and dancing naked through the spring fields. Or stuffing yourself full of chocolate and moaning at the telly (“Moonraker? Again?”) – its up to you. Me, I’ve got plans, exciting plans, and as it’s lunchtime and I’ve stuffed myself full of carbohydrate, I’m going to tell you so I don’t fall asleep.

First up we have do a bit of packing. We’ll be moving house shortly, so its best to start early, don’t you think? All the fun things that need to be done – cancel phone service, cancel DSL service, order phone service, order DSL service, move bank accounts, credit cards and other registrations. Why some people move from house to house without a pressing reason is quite, quite beyond me.

Then there’s the anorak. I need to add a “publish?” option to the mini-CMS that controls the weblog & frontpage. I need to fix a design flaw in the photo galleries that means clicking the “gallery” link when you’re viewing a picture isn’t a great idea. I need to change the <Title> tags sitewide to get rid of the spacing – I’ve decided it looks crap. I have a zillion new photos from a variety of occasions to format, process & upload. I’d like to change the way in which the various photo sections interact with the database – for ease of administration really. I need to write some code to actually make changes to the database, without having to up/download it each time – cos its a faff, and would encourage me to improve my SQL. I have to finish installing Gentoo (see this entry, and note that KDE is in but not tested…) and possibly install Lycoris on Lou’s computer.

Will I do all of these? No. But it’s nice to make lists, isn’t it.

Comedy king of spam

This is really old news – I actually remember when it happened, but I was reminded of it again having received Bruce Schneier‘s excellent Crypto-Gram newsletter this morning.

Crypto-Gram is “A free monthly newsletter providing summaries, analyses, insights, and commentaries on computer security and cryptography.” and is generally both worth reading, and not impossible for the mathmatically-challenged (that’s me, by the way).

This month, the lead article is about Alan Ralsky, a “spam king” who managed to grab the attention of Slashdot’s readers. In December he gave an interview to the Detroit Free Press in which he (rather foolishly) mentioned his new $750,000 house in West Bloomfield, Michigan. This was then posted to Slashdot, and one enterprising reader managed to track down his new postal address. Cue a subscription frenzy, with readers exacting revenge by subscribing him to “thousands of catalogs, mailing lists…” and such like.

Apparently, he now receives an obscene amount of junk mail – “hundreds of pounds [lbs] per day”, and has difficulty finding real mail amongst it. Ahhhh.

The feature in Crypto-Gram then goes on to talk about the prospect of automating this sort of attack through Google’s catalog search – a sort of automated revenge system for the technically competent?

FOOTNOTE: Ralsky apparently attempted legal action, which seemingly failed, and put his lawyer under the mailing-list spotlight as well! I guess some people just can’t take a joke, can they?

Boring techy stuff

At least some of yesterday and today have been spent beginning an installation of Gentoo Linux. Gentoo Linux is a build from source distribution which (in theory) allows you to fully customise not only the sofware you wish to install, but to optimise it for your particular hardware through the use of compiler switches and flags.

Its initially a fairly small download for a broadband connection, but don’t let that fool you – it takes a loooong time to install. For example, after leaving the machine running most of the night on Sunday, and a couple of hours work tonight, I now have a basic command line Linux installed (which unfortunately won’t boot properly from Grub – although if I enter the grub command line and set options manually, it will).

I’m now building X – which I suspect will take ages given that the compressed source code is 25Mb! Ah well.

UPDATE: X built, and after some tweaking appears to work. So I decided to build KDE. When I shut down the machine this morning, it had been building for about 6 hours and was roughly half-way through the list of packages,although hopefully some of the chunkier ones – the libraries for example – were in those 6 hours. All I can say is it had better work.