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Wed, 05 Oct 2005

Spam plagiarism

Like a lot of people, I use a bayesian spam filter, trained to sift the crap from the mail I'm interested in. It's pretty good; I can't remember the last time I got a false positive, and most spam goes straight into the junk folder. One or two still get through, though. Appending random poetry to the end of the message worked for a while, but training makes that less effective. However, today I received a message with the following tacked on the end:

Watching anything from a Michael Moore documentary to a CBC investigative report, I know I like reality. So why do I hate (and I mean that with the full intensity intended by someone who rarely uses that word) reality television shows? Because reality TV isn't insightful commentary. Voyeuristic melodrama that is anything but real has no chance of being more than annoying and boring. I used to think blogs were to e-zines what reality television shows were to dramas. Now, I think the comparison would be more effective if blogs were perceived more like independent film. And reality television scheduled in between soap operas.

My first thought was that random poetry had become more sophisticated, and vaguely topical. However, as I read it I became less and less convinced. Turns out that this was in fact written by a human; a quick Google search reveals the original post on someone's Blogspot blog. This may have been going on for a while, but it's the first time I've seen it. I think it's an interesting development; the blogoshpere is providing spammers with a near-infinite supply of chatty, lucid (more or less) prose that's far more realistic than machine-generated text could realistically hope to be. I'm not sure how effective bayesian filtering will be against such techniques, but my guess is that it more or less neutralises the positive score as an indicator, meaning that the negative score is more important. I'm curious to see what happens.

Sun, 04 Sep 2005

JustZIPit - The bright side of hard disk failure

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On Sunday, the hard drive on my PC decided to give up the ghost. Fortunately, I managed to get the important stuff backed up before it went entirely, but it does mean I've had to buy a new disk, and spend far too long yesterday and today reinstalling things (fortunately, as I've got the iBook as well, I can do work in parallel, but it's still a pain). Anyway, I was casting about for a free (as in beer) Zip utility for Windows (2000 - I've not got XP), and I came across JustZIPit, a neat little piece of software that disposes of the overdone UI of WinZip and its clones, and replaces it with two actions; click on an archive to decompress it into a folder in the same directory, and select a context menu item to produce an archive from a file or directory. Nice.

Tue, 09 Nov 2004

FireFox 1.0 Released

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You may not have heard (they've been keeping it pretty quiet), but those crazy cats at the Mozilla Foundation have released version 1.0 of their lightweight browser, FireFox. Could be curtains for NCSA Mosaic...

Sun, 07 Nov 2004

Bloglines

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After being a happy user of NetNewsWire Lite, I've decided to try out an online news aggregator, namely BlogLines, in order to have access to feeds (and, more importantly, the list of which article's I've read and which I haven't) available in multiple places, across several platforms. A particularly nice feature of BlogLines is that they have several notifier applications, including a a FireFox extension, to let you know when there are new articles to read. I'll try it for a week or two, and then put up a post about how it's going.

Tue, 21 Sep 2004

Sensible Title Bars Under Windows XP

I made a simple but useful discovery today at work; it is possible to make the title bars on Windows XP a reasonable size without resorting to a thrid-party skinning tool or the "classic" look (yes, yes - I know the classic window furniture looks far less like it belongs around The Square Window, but the toolkit and colour scheme is far better in the XP theme). Just go to the "Appearance" tab of Display Properties, and click Advanced. Select a title bar in the illustration, and you can change the font and size, allowing you to make the title bar smaller. Selecting "System" (which is only available at 10pt) makes the title bar eighteen pixels, which is more or less the same as Classic. I've no idea why I didn't spot this earlier, but I'm glad I did.

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