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Lighten Up 27 September 2002 Edition
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Back by popular demand -- it's Aardvark's weekly dose of levity and lunacy from the backwaters of the web.

If you though defragging your hard drive was a difficult and potentially dangerous operation then perhaps you haven't read the Data Docktor's description of how to Defraggle your motherdisc!

In a similar vein is this little exposé on how to cheat at the Counter-Strike computer game.

Unless you're a long-distance runner you probably never knew there was a demand for such esoteric products as NipGuards(tm) did you?

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And here's what happens when you don't use your brain, you get cobwebs in your head.

What A Week
Well, what a week it's been and this on-again, off-again cold has slowed me down significantly so it's time for a status report on some of the projects in progress.

First up -- the final installment of the rural modem shootout will be online early next week. You'll be able to read about the Dynalink option and how it compares to the Maestro I reviewed a week or two ago.

Readers Say
(updated irregularly)
From Yesterday
  • TDMA... - Tom
  • Spam Filtering Software... - Brendan
  • Spam filter... - Bahu
  • An NZ ISP does provide... - Barry
  • Spam Filters... - Paul
  • always requires review... - Tom
  • Your variant?... - Martin
  • Personally I don't think it... - Philip
  • spam filter... - Sam
  • Have Your Say

    Secondly -- the Aardvark Tivo-like PC-based PVR project is about to move into its Linux phase so I'll be publishing an update that deals with the various PVR software options I've evaluated for the Windows platform.

    The nice guys at Hauppauge in the USA have sent me (through their Australian reseller) a review sample of the WinTV-PVR-250 Tuner/capture card. The main benefit of this card over the Pinnacle PCTV unit is that it contains *hardware-based* MPEG encoding.

    I'll be reviewing it and publishing the results in a week or so's time.

    I notice that our friend "deathr0w" is back in business again -- this time hosting his little warez site with a free webspace company who appear happy to endorse such activities.

    I'm flattered that he was nice enough to mention me too!

    He's learning though -- now he's promoting the site as a "DVD Review Site" but it still carries that same give-away disclaimer and a new list of titles including a few that are yet to be released on (legal) DVD.

    You might want to read Paul Brislen's take on this story as well.

    I had quite a bit of feedback on yesterday's suggestion that ISPs ought to consider using TMDA as a method of protecting their customers from unwanted spam.

    A few suggested that the need for someone to confirm the first email they sent to an account protected by TMDA could act as a disincentive where the message might be a bonafide business enquiry. Well if that's a worry then instead of publishing your email address, publish the URL of a "contact" form on your company website as the first point of contact.

    It's good practice to use a contact form in preference to publishing an email address anyway because, within weeks (or even days) of an email address appearing on the Web, chances are that a spammer's robots will have spotted it and added it to their lists.

    As people have probably noticed, I don't publish my email address (why should I, it seems that Mr deathrOw is happy to do that for me ;-) preferring, even in my usenet posts, to direct people to this form. If they can't be bothered filling out the form then their message can't have been too important -- or was probably just spam.

    Others suggested that spammers could circumvent TMDA simply by writing an autoresponder that replied to the confirmation request.

    Yes, that's true -- but then they'd have to use a bonafide email address in the first place so it would become very easy to either shut them down by complaining to their ISP/mail-provider, or complaining to their upstream supplier -- or you could simply filter all emails from the offending sender (or their entire domain).

    My real point was however, that if *every* ISP adopted this system, spammers would be effectively put out of business. The extra email traffic generated by the additional confirmation requests and acknowledgments would be far less than that currently generated by spam and the huge number of bounces it produces.

    Now it's time for me to go back to bed.

    If you want to have your say on the contents of today's column then please do so. Only comments marked "For Publication" will (if I have time) be published in the readers' comments section.

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    Security Alerts
    Flaw in Word can allow file theft (TheAge - 13/09/2002)

    File-name flaw threatens PGP users (ZDNet - 06/09/2002)

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    Security flaw hits Windows, Mac, Linux (NewsFactor - 7/08/2002)

    Virus Alerts
    Linux server worm exploits known flaw
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    Worm spreads through KaZaA network, again (TheReg - 22/08/2002)

    Apher worm: From Russia (ZDNet - 22/08/2002)

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