BlackBerry Curve review

In mid November, our contract with AT&T (formerly Cingular) expired. We switched to T-Mobile and got BlackBerry Curve phones. I was a BlackBerry skeptic for a long time. I didn’t think I wanted a phone with a full QWERTY keyboard. This changed when we looked at the phones available. It turned out that the Curve was only marginally wider than the average phone, perhaps a centimeter or so. It’s otherwise comparable to mid-range phones in size.

State department pwned, thanks to Microsoft

From AP via Slashdot and Yahoo: A break-in targeting State Department computers worldwide last summer occurred after a department employee in Asia opened a mysterious e-mail that quietly allowed hackers inside the U.S. government’s network. In the first public account revealing details about the intrusion and the government’s hurried behind-the-scenes response, a senior State Department official described an elaborate ploy by sophisticated international hackers. They used a secret break-in technique that exploited a design flaw in Microsoft software.

More Yahoo answers

Q: What are some good but not the usual types of dates? A: The Barhi date is superb in quality; the Deglet Noor is less sweet and somewhat dry in flavor. Q: Is it wrong to use Crisco as a lubricant? A: Yes, it’ll ruin your transmission. Q: what to use for black man hair loss? A: A Dustbuster? Q: What are some good tips to stop procrastination? […] Does anyone have any tips to help me buckle down and do some work?

Yahoo Answers

Yahoo added this area where people ask (mostly dumb) questions, and anyone can offer their (frequently uninformed) answers. It’s strangely addictive. It’s a bit like the Internet Oracle, without the stale old traditions said institution picked up over the years. I tend to alternate between useful and bizarre/smartass answers. Some examples of the latter: Q: What in your toilet can make the water blue? I haven’t put tabs in for months.

[Friends only]

Now here’s a funny thing: state agencies are now using the “PATRIOT” Act to obtain private profiles from web sites such as, for people applying for any state-related job. [Redacted] In other words: don’t count on your “friends only” or “private” postings not ending up in the hands of any government organization that takes an interest in you. While this example involved Facebook, I’d put money on other social networking sites doing the same and handing over your data with no questions asked—including LiveJournal, Yahoo, Orkut, MySpace and so on.

The spam problem part 2: The dismal science

In Part 1 I took a “from first principles” look at the spam problem, and concluded that the only way to actually solve the problem was to make people pay to send e-mail.

Now, it’s time to look at what I mean by that—because there are almost as many ways to implement “pay to send” as there are ways to implement filtering.

This is going to be a bit more technical than part 1. I’m going to assume you know basically how SMTP e-mail works. If not, there are tutorials available.

The trouble with LiveJournal

[For more cases of LiveJournal Abuse Team behaving abusively, check out]

For several years I was a paying user of LiveJournal. Now I pay for web hosting and run my own content management system. It’s not by choice; this is the story.

In a nutshell, following an altercation with a racist troll, LiveJournal suspended my account without warning, even though I had not breached their Terms Of Service. They didn’t suspend the troll’s account–instead, they announced that (contrary to their written terms of service) racist comments were in fact perfectly acceptable on LiveJournal.

Attempts at compromise to resolve the issue were ignored and rejected, even when I offered to delete offending comments. The money I had paid for the service they were refusing to provide was not refunded.

Bunch of Yahoos

In April 2004, a Communist Party official told Chinese journalist Shi Tao how to report the upcoming 15th anniversary of the Tienanmen Square massacre. Shi Tao took notes at the meeting, wrote up what he had been told to write, and e-mailed a copy to a pro-democracy web site in New York. Unfortunately, Shi Tao used Yahoo web mail to send his e-mail. When the Chinese government approached Yahoo and asked them to reveal the personal information of the person who had signed up for the account, they gladly did so.

Google chat

Google have launched Google Talk. It uses the Jabber protocol. Unlike MSN, AIM and the like, Jabber is an open standard, a series of RFCs that anyone is free to implement. If you are running OS X Tiger, iChat is a Jabber client. There’s also the open source OS X instant messenger Adium. Linux users have Kopete and Gaim. Windows users have Miranda, Exodus, Psi, Trillian Pro, and many more.

Schindlers’ List

Yahoo news: If you expressed your support to Terri Schiavo and her parents fight to keep her alive, you may begin to receive a steady stream of solicitations, according to a Local 6 News report. Terri Schiavo’s parents have agreed to sell their list of supporters to a direct-mailing firm, Local 6 News reported. Now, are you all done using each other? Good.