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Month: July 2007

Road trip to Malmö

After talking about doing it for a long, long time, last weekend Jens and I finally went on a road trip to Malmö, Sweden, to visit Morgan and Alfred, of course. Friday evening was quite a nice day for this 4 hour drive, but the trip back on Sunday was a bit on the wet side, if not to say that my boots still aren’t dry today, 2 days later. We enjoyed ourselves with some good swedish traditions, such as sausages and “kräftskiva” (wikipedia), with the obligatory snaps (I reall liked the Västerbotten cheese), and of course, it wouldn’t be us without a bit of nerdishness. Hopefully, next time will take less talking and more doing. Great trip all around!

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SpamCop considered harmful

Once upon a time, there was the Internet. The grass was green, the sun was shining, and everybody was happy. Along comes human nature. How much easier is it to make money by tricking people than taking an honest job? Yes, spam comes along. In the early days, mailservers were configured to just accept anything from anyone to anyone. This was quickly abused by spammers to use other peoples resources to send mail, so called open relays.

Next on scene: blacklists. Very effective in the beginning. I was one of the people to start the Open Relay DataBase, ordb.org (now defunct). In fact, some blacklists were so effective that the bad guys went on to use other ways to send their malware, and the ordb blacklist was no longer effective, and shut down.

Spammers have became so good in hiding their tracks, that blacklists aren’t effective anymore. They find a way to mix their rubbish with perfectly valid mail, and just refusing to accept mail from a specific IP-address will surely get you less spam, but you’ll also lose a lot of mail you did want to receive. Lots of other techniques exist to filter out spam from ham. Personally, I use a system based on Bayes’ statistics that “reads” my mails and from a statistical analysis of previous mails, which I told it I did or did not want, determines if it’s something I want. Also, there are a number of scoring techniques that assign a score to several criteria, this can be bayesian statistics or a number of blacklists or any other character of the message, and when that score gets over a certain threshold, the mail is refused or quarantined.

Now, why is SpamCop considered harmful? SpamCop has existed for a long time. It started by a comminity based blackist. Anybody in the community could submit an IP-address for blacklisting. This community is everybody with an internet connection. Do I trust everybody on the whole internet? Do I trust them to be knowledgeble enough on the techinical aspects of email filtering to determine which address should be listed? Most certainly not! SpamCop should never be used to refuse email. Maybe one might use it for scoring, but never should a SpamCop listing be used to refuse mail.

Today, I found out that SpamCop also added spamtraps. Even more, they are secret. A message to a friend of my got denied because of it and further examination showed that my “System has sent mail to SpamCop spam traps in the past week (spam traps are secret, no reports or evidence are provided by SpamCop)”. Aha! Evil me! But where is the evidence? Where did I go wrong? How do I fix it? Clearly, I am guilty unless proven innocent.

So I cannot repeat this enough. If you value your email, if you value your friends/collegues/etc. to be able to contact you, do not use SpamCop for blacklisting.

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Anti-terror red tape

How the west was won…and how the war on terror was lost.

After my passport got stolen last week, the police were very helpful filling out the right forms for stolen identity papers (not the same papers for a burglary), even on a Saturday. After the weekend was over, it was time to figure out how to get a replacement. A call to the consulate in Ã…rhus. They were closed for vacation. Bugger. Call the embassy in Copenhagen. I could try the consulates in either Aalborg or Fredericia, both about 100km from Ã…rhus, one to the north, the other to the south. Let’s try Fredericia. A very friendly consul explained the procedure and made fun of the insanely detailed new rules for the picture. Remember, this is for your safety only!

He explained that he had a cooperation with a photografer in Fredericia and gave me the address and route. So, I took half a day off and off I went. Oh no! The photografer was closed for vacation as well. Well, go to the consulate and see what we can do about it. No other photografer in Fredericia knew the dutch rules or couldn’t even make pictures with a grey (not white, as the rest of the world) background. Remeber, this is for your safety only!

After a lot of calls, the consul couldn’t find out which photografer i Ã…rhus the consulate there was working with, because then I would have been able to go home and send the picture to him. Oh well, not much else to do then go to Odense, where the nearest consulate was, only another 60km. So, back into Fredericia for some lunch, time was running late, and onwards to Odense. Low and behold, the one guy at the photografer who knew about the dutch rules, had a day off! After some discussion, this wasn’t necessarily a problem. Another one could take the picture, and then when the other guy comes in tomorrow, he can edit it in PhotoShop so it fits the dutch rules. This now means, that the picture is taken, then electronically edited, then printed, send to the embassy, then scanned to be added to the very super extra secure chip on the passport. I’ll leave it up to the reader to determine how secure this new procedure is. But I almost forgot. This is for my safety only!

All in all, I just used a whole day and over 300 km (200 mi) to get a new picture for my passport, which I could have made myself in PhotoShop. Looking at the bright side, the weather was fantastic (expect for the wind and the occasional tunder and hail shower) for a motorbike ride. The fresh air hopefully has done me good.

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79. Dampfbier

3,1kg Danish pilsner malt
1,4kg Munich malt 20L

Mash for 60 min between 65,0 ad 76,0°C
2ml lactic acid in mash (pH 5,8)
6ml in sparge water

60 min boil.
50g 2,8% Hallertauer Hersbrucker for 45 min.
25g Hallertauer Hersbrucker for 0 min.

WLP300 Hefeweizen Ale Yeast
OG: 11,9 brix (1.048)
FG: 5,9 brix (1.008)
21L

Bottled with 107g corn sugar 19/8.
Leaving the beer for over a month in the primary fermenter had the yeast settle out completely to the bottem leaving a very clear beer on top.

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Burgled

What seemed impossible, has shown to be possible anyway. Somebody found a way of crawling from the 1st floor window in the staircase through my kitchenwindow. It must have happened somewhere last week, but I only noticed that a cakeform had fallen off the wall by the window, and attributed it to the wind. Nothing else seemed to be disturbed. I couldn’t find my GPS though, but as I had been playing with it some days before, I probably had left it in some pocket and forgot about it. Until today. I went for a better look, and noticed that my “safe” (a small fire resistent and locked box) was missing as well! Holy cow! That contains everything of value, passport, residence permit, cash from AaUUG, foreign cash, etc. etc. Also, my iPod, bluetooth headset, ancient Nokia 3210, and just about any gadget they could find are gone. Luckily, my new mobile phone, credit cards and such were in my pocket at work, so I still have those. Also, my new camera arrived the day after, so that’s still here as well. But the biggest issue is, that as they crawled through an open window on the 1st (american 2nd) floor, the insurance considers it theft and not a breakin, which means that almost nothing gets compensated. Back to work, I guess.

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Tall Ships Race 2007

This year, the Tall Ships Race starts from Ã…rhus, right in from of my doorstep. On Thursday, Anders, Brix and me decided to go for a walk and see some of the ships. Alas, before they reached me, the rain had started again and it became a short, and wet, trip. Yesterday, Fin came down and we met up. The weather had cleared and turned out to be very comfortable, but cloudy evening. Lots and lots of ships, including the worlds biggest sailing boat, Kruzenshtern from Russia. On board the mexican Cuauhtemoc, they put up quite a show, and in front of it, they made some of the best chilli con carne.
Sailing throught the harbour, gave some good views. Ever seen the Ã…rhus Ã… from the other side? Hey!, that’s where I live! Max Mols is quite a mouthful from down below.
My new camera also passed the test. Over a 100 pictures within the first day. Of course, a bit of playing around with the new features as well, but it’s not everyday you get this view from your living room.

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