September 16, 2005

Blog Move Imminent!

I'm getting ready to move the blog over to the new software right now (8:45pm Pacific, 11:45pm Eastern, on Friday Sept. 16). Please do not post comments here, or else they won't get carried over into the new system. Remember, the new blog link is It should all be functional by Saturday morning, and this old blog should redirect you to the new one.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 08:44 PM | Comments (0)

September 15, 2005

Changing Blog Software

At some point in the near future, I'm going to switch this blog from using MovableType to WordPress instead. I'm using MovableType v. 2.65, whereas the software has been upgraded beyond version 3, but now costs money to use. And I don't like the administrative interface or the way it has to rebuild every single page if you change the layout etc. WordPress has worked pretty well as the LiftPort blog software.

When I do switch things over, I'll move the location of the blog as well. The new URL will be (instead of /blog). I will leave a placeholder here, redirecting people to the new location. And I will post an announcement to the blog when the switchover is imminent.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 09:57 AM | Comments (0)

August 01, 2005

Can We Trust the Computer?

Over on BoingBoing there's a story about distrubing developments in Apple's transition to Intel chips ("Apple to add Trusted Computing to the new kernel?"):

People working with early versions of the forthcoming Intel-based MacOS X operating system have discovered that Apple's new kernel makes use of Intel's Trusted Computing hardware. ... The point of Trusted Computing is to make it hard -- impossible, if you believe the snake-oil salesmen from the Trusted Computing world -- to open a document in a player other than the one that wrote it in the first place, unless the application vendor authorizes it. It's like a blender that will only chop the food that Cuisinart says you're allowed to chop. It's like a car that will only take the brand of gas that Ford will let you fill it with. It's like a web-site that you can only load in the browser that the author intended it to be seen in.
For those reasons and more, I (and many many other people) are against things like the "Trusted Computing" project. It remains to be seen if it winds up being used in Macs, and to what extent.
Posted by Tom Nugent at 11:54 PM | Comments (0)

July 28, 2005

Tracking Laser Printers

PC World has an article on identification marks from color laser printers. Basically, most color laser printers (and perhaps other printers?) embed faint yellow dots across any page they print, and those dots encode the printer's serial number etc. So, if you use the printer to make counterfeit money, the government could perhaps trace the printing back to you.

The fear, of course, is that any old document could also be traced back to who printed it.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 12:07 PM | Comments (0)

July 05, 2005

Is the Laugh Annoying?

Normally I believe that background audio on a web page is annoying, because you can't stop it, and it's usually really crappy MIDI songs. But Elizabeth has snagged a short audio clip of Dorothy laughing, and we've put it as the background audio on the main page of the blog.

We're wondering: Can you hear it? Is it really annoying? Should we remove it? Or does it bring a smile to your face no matter how often you hear it?

Posted by Tom Nugent at 10:58 PM | Comments (2)

June 29, 2005

No More Casinos

The most comment word, by far, in the comment spam this blog receives, is "casino." It's usually somewhere in the URL. So, rather than dealing with adding each new URL as they come by, I've now made the word "casino" itself verboten in the comments. I don't think there's a need to use that word in the comments, but if a story warrants it and you find yourself restricted in posting a comment, just let me know and I'll deal with it. :-)

Posted by Tom Nugent at 08:35 PM | Comments (0)

June 15, 2005

When to Buy a New Mac

It seems to be common wisdom (e.g., Daring FireBall) that Apple is going to take a sales hit in their machines as people wait to buy until the new Intel-powered machines come out. But such a conclusion is not obvious to me, especially over the next 3-6 months.
As John Gruber at Daring Fireball says:

in an ideal world, on the day Apple begins shipping Intel-based Macs, all Mac OS X software will have been updated to run natively on both architectures
And all that software would be updated for free. Fat chance.

So, if Intel-powered Macs (an entirely new architecture) are starting to come out a year from now (and they're only starting with the low-end Macs; higher end ones don't come out until 2007), and the current software base is not fully upgraded and/or costs money to upgrade, why would you wait to buy a new Mac? I would much rather have a PowerPC Mac bought sometime in the next 6 months to hold me over until the transition had been worked out. Do you want to be a guinea pig? Who knows what kinds of bugs and kinks will need to be worked out in the new architecture? And who wants to put up with some of their "older" software either not working, or working at a much slower speed (as will happen with Rosetta, which translates old PowerPC code to run on the Intel chips)? Furthermore, software makers can produce "universal binaries" that will run on both Intel and PowerPC chips, so at least one upgrade of any existing software should run on both chips, so you won't even have to be stuck with older software.

As the release of the first Intel-powered Macs approaches, sales of existing PowerPC machines probably will decline, but should it decline right now? I don't see why it really should.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 09:45 AM | Comments (0)

June 09, 2005

Fight Phishing Scams!

Everyone has probably received "phishing" scam emails, where an impostor sends an email appearing to be from a legitimate site (e.g., eBay, your bank, etc.) and asking you to enter your login & password info to fix a problem in their system. The scam is that they now have your info and can impersonate as you, steal your credit card, etc.

I was catching up on Robert Cringely's columns this evening, and saw his excellent suggestion of how to stop the phishers: rather than relegating their emails to your spam filter, reply to those emails with false info. It is easy and low-cost for the phishers to send out tons of email in exchange for a decent profit. Instead, it should become much more expensive and difficult for them:

If you get phishing e-mail, go the web sites and enter false data. Make up everything -- name, sign-on name, password, credit card numbers, everything. Instead of one million messages yielding 100 good replies, now the phisher will have one million messages yielding 100,000 replies of which 100 are good, but WHICH 100?

This technique kills phishing two ways. It certainly increases the phishing labor requirement by about 10,000X. But even more importantly, if banks and e-commerce sites limit the number of failed sign-on attempts from a single IP address to, say, 10 per day, theft as an outcome of phishing becomes close to impossible.

No bounties are required, no cops, no parallel webmail systems that force us to log-in to e-commerce sites when they tell us to. Phishing just becomes a very unprofitable business, which it should be.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 08:40 PM | Comments (0)

Apple/Intel to Take On Microsoft?

Robert Cringely writes very interesting articles about the computer industry. He often has exciting ideas, and he knows lots of people in the industry. But he often makes predictions that are a bit extreme. So, I don't know whether or not he's right this week, but his discussion of Apple's switch to using Intel chips makes for a good read.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 08:08 PM | Comments (0)

June 07, 2005

Siracusa on the Apple/Intel Switch

John Siracusa has, as always, an interesting article about Apple's plans to switch over to using Intel chips.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 01:16 PM | Comments (0)

June 06, 2005

The End Is Near

Apparently the apocalypse is nigh: Apple is going to use Intel chips starting next year. I haven't read enough yet to figure out how this affects things like the 64-bit abilities of the OS, or whether this is a truly horrible idea given how poorly Intel has been doing in the chip design business lately (getting beat by AMD, from what I can tell). If I see any great reviews of the implications, I'll post them here.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 12:01 PM | Comments (1)

May 10, 2005

Drowning in Email

I've sent 28 emails so far today, and it's only 2pm. :-O

More later on what all I've been doing with LiftPort (which is the biggest hunk of out-going emails).

Posted by Tom Nugent at 02:00 PM | Comments (0)

March 09, 2005

Another Reason to Like Mac OS X

My computer has been up and running for 42 days, 2 hours and 27 minutes as of 3:33pm PST today. I'm shutting it down now because I need to replace the battery in my UPS (it's over three years old).

To be honest, I normally reboot my machine once per month, just to clear up the RAM because I like things to be neat and clear. But I'm sure this thing would just keep running for months on end without problems. I love Mac OS X!

Posted by Tom Nugent at 03:34 PM | Comments (0)

January 27, 2005

Blog Update

As you can tell from the recent entries, we now have internet access again - yay! We're still unpacking, so posting may still be a bit sporadic, but we can receive email.

FYI, I've also switched the time zone for the blog, so the time on all entries starting today will be for the Pacific time zone, instead of Eastern.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 10:32 AM | Comments (0)

January 02, 2005

Quotes Category

I'm creating a new category for the blog. The category title is "Quotes & Misc. Humor" and I'm starting it specifically for its first entry (you'll have to read that post to see what I mean).

Posted by Tom Nugent at 02:52 PM | Comments (0)

December 26, 2004

Comments Open Again

Now that the spam comments are somewhat under control, I've re-opened the ability to comment on blog entries. I went back and opened the comment ability on posts from the past couple of weeks, too. Go ahead and say whatever you want - I can take it. ;-)

Posted by Tom Nugent at 10:14 PM | Comments (0)

December 07, 2004

Spam Deleted

Thanks to Jay Allen's MT Blacklist I have now eliminated the 1,000+ comment-spams that hit this blog earlier today. I'll probably have to keep adding new blacklist words & URLs as new spammers try to hit my system, but at least I can leave the comments open, and deleting new spam is relatively easy (and can be applied to hundreds of comments at a time, rather than having to hit them one by one).

We return you now to your regularly scheduled day.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 02:57 PM | Comments (0)

Damn Spammers

Around 4:30am Eastern time today, some spammers discovered my blog, and began spam-commenting all across it. I've heard that other bloggers have had problems with asshole spammers posting comments to their blogs, but I had no idea how bad it could be. The spamhole must have an automated system, because there have been over 1,000 comments posted in the last 5 hours! :-O I've turned off the ability to comment on posts, and am going to try to clean things up. If anyone knows of an easy way to delete 1,000 blog comments, and/or a better way of turning off comments retroactively in blog posts (MovableType seems to only let me turn it off easily for future posts), then please email me. My address is "tomsubs" at the domain "". Thanks.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 10:28 AM | Comments (0)

November 30, 2004

Spammer's Holiday

Monday, November 29th, I received absolutely no spam. I don't mean that my spam-catcher caught it all - I mean that none came in! This lack of spam may have started on Sunday, I'm not sure. But for whatever reason, the end of the Thanksgiving weekend must have been a time for spammers to take a break. Maybe they'll take a permanent vacation some day...

Posted by Tom Nugent at 12:55 PM | Comments (0)

October 27, 2004

Category Re-organization

FYI, I've broken up the "Family & Children" blog category into multiple new categories, and re-categorized all postings back to May-ish. I may want to tweak the category names and divisions a bit more in the near future.

I created the new categories because the vast bulk of the postings to this blog are about "Family & Children" so that single category wasn't doing much good to differentiate between entries.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 02:57 PM | Comments (0)

August 07, 2004

Web Server Stats

I was checking on the state of our web hosting account for Apparently, someone's been uploading a bunch of photos or something, because we're using more than 300MB out of the 500MB we're allowed for this account. :-) Over the last few months, we've averaged about 60 visits per day, with total bandwidth usage being in the range of 400-600MB transferred per month.

[GI Joe ad voice]And now you know![/voice]

Posted by Tom Nugent at 08:20 PM | Comments (0)

August 05, 2004

Email Out the Wazoo

As of today, I have roughly 186 megabytes of email archived. That's just the text -- it is not counting attachments, etc. Some of this email goes back to 1995 (I had email before then, but wasn't saving it). A few years ago, Nick Papadakis pointed out that hard drives are growing so fast that there's no point in deleting emails, or perhaps even web pages -- you'll always have tons more space to save everything you ever receive in email, so why waste time deleting stuff? If only the computer could do a decent job of indexing things, you'd be set.

I do delete some emails, beyond just the spam. But unless it's completely useless, or a duplicate email, I usually save it. A couple of years ago, I think I had about 50MB of email. Since I started throwing out less and less (and being on more mailing lists), that's now grown to 185MB. I have an extensive set of folders to categorize the emails, although I'd prefer to have them all in a database, so that I could have multiple keywords to index emails by.

Many people clear out their inbox as much as they can. I try, but my inbox currently has over 1,200 messages in it. Many of these are years old, and I simply haven't filed them. But I gauge my "upkeep status" by looking at how old the message at the top of the screen is. For example, in my inbox, there's roughly 40 messages visible before I have to scroll up. If the oldest one (i.e., at the top of the visible area) is at least 3 months old, then I feel like I'm doing pretty well. Sometimes the oldest message is less than a week old, which means I'm letting too much crap accumulate, and need to deal with it.

At the moment, I can see back to mid-June in my inbox. That's not horrible, but not great. My outbox, on the other hand, is looking great -- I can see back to the beginning of April - 4 months old! The oldest message at the very beginning of my inbox, though, is from 1998. Maybe I should post a weekly report on how far back I can see, as a sort of embarrassment method for motivating me to clean out my email more frequently. I'm sure no one else really cares how much email I haven't filed. :-) But if it's posted online, then maybe you'll all bug me about it....

Posted by Tom Nugent at 11:22 AM | Comments (1)

July 31, 2004

Random Photo Link

I did it! The photo in the sidebar is now truly a random selection from the Gallery of photos. Every time you reload this index page, you'll see a different photo. The image is also a link to that particular photo in the Gallery. Yay!

Posted by Tom Nugent at 09:21 AM | Comments (0)

July 20, 2004

Rotating Images

As you may have noticed, I've started working on getting a random thumbnail image from the Gallery to appear in the sidebar of the blog. At the moment, it's all static, since I've only barely started mucking with it. Eventually it should be a new image every time you visit this page, but for now it's just the same image(s). So you don't have to bug me to tell me that the image never changes -- I know. I'll post an announcement once it's fully working.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 11:34 PM | Comments (0)

July 09, 2004

Anyone Having Trouble with the Blog?

Is anyone out there having trouble viewing some of the entries to the blog? For Caroline, she can click through to some entries, but not others. She's tried reloading pages, rebooting, etc. but nothing seems to work. For example, the entry called "A Special Gift" never works for her, whereas others (such as "Poison Boobs") always work fine. Has anyone else seen problems like this?

Posted by Tom Nugent at 01:48 PM | Comments (0)

June 19, 2004

Blog Preferences

For those of you who read this blog regularly (all 3 of you?), I'm wondering how you prefer the front page to be laid out. I used to have the entirety of each story included on the main page, but then I thought that approach wound up making the main page too long when I had long stories, and so people might not scroll down far enough to see older stories. So I've changed things so that only the first paragraph or two is shown on the front page, and if you want to read the rest of the entry, you can click through to see it.

Which layout do you prefer? Either post in the comments to this entry, or email me if you'd like to remain anonymous to the world.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 06:46 AM | Comments (4)

April 16, 2004

This Disc Will Self-Destruct in 5 seconds...

Check out this story about DVDs made out of paper. Quoting from the story:

"Japanese electronics conglomerate Sony Corp and Toppan Printing Co Ltd have developed a new optical disc, made mostly from paper, that they say will be compatible with next-generation DVD technology.

In a joint news release distributed late Thursday, the two companies said the new disc was comprised 51 percent of paper, enabling lower production costs."

It will also make rentable DVDs that you don't have to return even easier to make -- the laser in the DVD could burn up the DVD as it plays. No rewinding, though! ;-)

And of course, as I suggest in the title of this post, it could enable the "Mission Impossible"-type of recording which ends by saying "This disc will self-destruct in 5 seconds. Good luck." You'd even get the bit of smoke coming out of the player. Of course, the fire might melt the player, but that's the price of progress.... :-)

Posted by Tom Nugent at 11:39 PM | Comments (1)

April 02, 2004

March Bandwidth Usage

It seems that our bandwidth usage for went up a bit in March. In fact, it went from an average monthly usage of around 50-90MB up to 845MB! You can see the data on number of visits, number of pages, and number of kilobytes served in this image:


Don't worry about our server costs for the bandwidth usage -- we're allowed up to 20GB (yes, Gigabytes) per month, so we're still not even close to the limit. But thank you to everyone for making our website so popular! Or perhaps it's Dorothy I really should be thanking. :-)

And to kick things off for lots more bandwidth usage in April, there's a new batch of photos that we just uploaded.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 10:50 PM | Comments (0)

January 07, 2004

Too much coding

I'm not a programmer, either by training or by trade. But I do an occasional bit of web programming for various projects. I spent a good hunk of the day today working on some PHP code, and I'm glad I'm not a programmer by trade. :-) It's interesting at a high level, but when it comes to debugging, I get sick of it. The debugging wasn't actually bad at all today; perhaps that's why I was able to make so much progress. But I know that debugging drives me crazy, and the errors I make are often very simple, dumb ones, which is what makes them so frustrating to find.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 10:41 PM | Comments (0)

December 31, 2003

!&$! MS Word

Can someone please tell me again, why does Microsoft Word need to connect to the printer when I quit? I'm serious. MS Word does all kinds of stupid things, including "connecting to the printer" when I start it up (can't it just use the regular print services like all other programs?). But when I go to quit it, it again displays a message "connecting to printer" as it takes it's own sweet time to quit. What a freaking piece of bloatware....

Posted by Tom Nugent at 04:32 PM | Comments (0)

Old computer games

OK, first off: I suck. I forgot to make a posting yesterday, despite my promise last week. I'll see if I can make two today, to make it up.

Does anyone remember the old Apple II game "Choplifter?" I think it was also made into an arcade game at some point. Well, there's a great freeware version of it for Mac OS X called Chopper. It really brings back memories. The game is well-designed and runs very well. I highly recommend it!

Posted by Tom Nugent at 08:49 AM | Comments (0)