August 2004


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Archive for August, 2004

TV worth watching

Posted in Media on August 11th, 2004

I was watching Between the Lions with my daughter this morning when they devoted part of the show to the dangers of opening unknown email, virus infections, and how to use antivirus software to cure them. I was very impressed, since my daughter does have access to the computer (even though she is always supervised when online.)

Score one for PBS Kids!


Posted in Media on August 9th, 2004

You’re in for it now folks – I got bored the other night and did some writing. Having nothing better to torture you with, I decided to link it here.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Fun with scripting

Posted in Geekery on August 7th, 2004

I was reading through the latest edition of Linux Format last night, and I ran across a handy little shell script for Linux that works with KDE really well. It’s a one-click dictionary lookup. Heres the code:

NAME=`dcop klipper klipper getClipboardHistoryItem 0`

Save this as ‘’ someplace in your home directory, make it executalble and create a link on your desktop. Highlight a word somewhere and click the link, and it will open Konqueror up and get the definition for you. The sheer simplicity of this amazes me.

Change the http:// link to for another good script.

Stealth Wallpaper

Posted in Geekery on August 6th, 2004

Article: Stealth wallpaper keeps company secrets safe | New Scientist

I’ve always been big on security. For a couple years, I was even seriously considering starting my own business as an electronics surveilance expert. My education in electronics gives me a great understanding of this relatively simple field, and movies like Sneakers just egg me on.

Now a company in England is offering something I’ve thought about before: wallpaper that will block wireless signals in a specific spectrum. The article elaborates:

A type of wallpaper that prevents Wi-Fi signals escaping from a building without blocking mobile phone signals has been developed by a British defence contractor. The technology is designed to stop outsiders gaining access to a secure network by using Wi-Fi networks casually set up by workers at the office.

It is the work of moments for an employee to connect a paperback-sized Wi-Fi base station to a company network. That person can then wander around the office with their laptop while remaining wirelessly connected to the internet.

But it is also the work of moments then for an outsider to breach that company’s computer security using the Wi-Fi connection. Unless the Wi-Fi base station is protected by security measures that most amateur users would not bother to set up, it gives anyone up to 100 metres away the chance to bypass the corporate firewall and wirelessly hack straight into the network.

Until now, the only way to ensure people are not illicitly gaining access to company secrets has been to turn offices into a signal-proof “Faraday cage”, by lining the walls with aluminium foil, and using glass that absorbs radio waves in the windows. This ensures all electromagnetic emissions are absorbed, but it also means that no one can use a cellphone in the building.

The technolgy is simple to design, but slightly harder to manufacture – at least, it was before now. Anyone familiar with Faraday’s work knows that radio signals are waves of energy that travel in a straight line from the antenna. Each frequency has it’s own wavelength, which is described by a physical measurement. This wallpaper is designed with cross-shaped ‘holes’ designed to only allow specific wavelengths through those holes, blocking all others. Since the FCC has regulated what services can use certain wavelengths, it is a simple matter to calculate the size of hole you need to block a certain signal.

It is true that part of the WiFi spectrum is also used in some cordless phones, but this won’t be an issue, since the phone’s base station will be inside the wallpaper ‘cage’. You just won’t be able to take the phone with you when you step outside for a smoke.

At about $900 (500GBP) a square meter, however, I doubt you’ll be seeing this offered at your local home improvement store.

Gunshots wound 5 at party

Posted in Life on August 2nd, 2004

Here’s The Oregonian’s article on the shooting last night:

Five people were wounded — one seriously — during an early-morning incident involving multiple gunshots today at a private hip-hop party in Northeast Portland.

Portland police reported shots being fired at 12:36 a.m. at 332 N.E. San Rafael Ave., a building that is rented for private parties and music events. The most serious injury was suffered by a 21-year-old pregnant woman who was shot in the lower back. She was listed in serious condition at Legacy Emanuel Hospital & Health Center.

Brian Schmautz, a Portland Police Bureau spokesman, said that an officer in the vicinity heard shots fired at 12:36 a.m. and that a 9-1-1 emergency call was received a minute later.

“Early indications are that there could have been more than a dozen rounds fired in a short time,” Schmautz said. He said because of the number of people at the scene and the number of injuries, police did not determine immediately whether shots had been fired in more than one direction.

Among the less-serious injuries, Schmautz said one victim was hit in the left shoulder, two in the buttocks and one in an ankle. Names of all victims, age 18 to 26, were being withheld until police had a chance to interview them.

Schmautz said the scene of the shooting is known as the International Club and is rented for private parties and shows. He said tickets had been required for admission to the Sunday night event that ended with the shooting.

You heard it here first

Posted in Life on August 2nd, 2004

At roughly 00:35 this morning, I was sitting downstairs watching Bil Engval on Comedy Central when I heard a VERY distinctive sound: that of someone firing off a number of 9mm (or smaller) rounds, a short pause, and then three more.

I’m not sure how many there were, and after talking with some of my neighbors down the street I may have heard an odd echo of the actual firing sequence, but the fact remains that the russian club behind the dojo across the street from me was the scene of a shooting today.

There are currently many cops in the area plus at least one chopper over head. You’ll probably need to read the paper to get a more detailed account.

The interesting thing is that I went down to the 76 station for a fresh pack of smokes afterward and talked to the attendant about it. He had been called in to work about an hour previous because the scheduled person “had a bad feeling about tonight” and called in sick. Just before the shooting happened, three girls pulled into the station for gas, all saying they left the club due to a “sick feeling in their stomach”.

Psychic phenomena or coincidence? I couldn’t say. I can say that this isn’t the first time I’ve encountered similar reactions minutes before extreme violence broke out. Listen to your gut, folks, nad keep your head down when driving on MLK.