Hypercubed Blog

Incoherent chatter on issues related to science, computing, and philosophy.
Random chains of thought from a scattered mind.

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Cloudmark, better then I expected
Posted Sunday, July 31, 2005 7/31/2005 11:37:00 AM

The other day I posted a (not so) short review of Cloudmark anti-spam software (read Cloudmark marks to much). I've now used Cloadmark for 1 week and I have to admit that it is working better then I expected. When Cloadmark filtered through my inbox it mis-marked a lot of my legitimate e-mail as spam. However, it seams to do a lot better on incoming mail. In one week I'm had only two false hits. I'm sure to some extent Cloudmark has "learned" from all the corrections I made after it went through my inbox but it appears to be handling new types of legitimate mail just fine. I still don't like the fact that I had two false hits. So while the application works better then expected I probably won't be shilling out $39.95 per year for this app. I guess in general I like to try new applications but rarely like to buy them.


Boing Boing: Microsoft "Genuine Advantage" cracked in 24h
Posted Thursday, July 28, 2005 7/28/2005 04:15:00 PM

Once again product activation does nothing but annoy the legitimate users.


Firefox? Maybe.
Posted Monday, July 25, 2005 7/25/2005 07:23:00 PM

So if you follow internet related news you know all the buzz these days is Firefox, Firefox, and . Personally I never really got the point. I had been using Netscape back in the days, then when IE started being included in windows (anti-competitive or good business?) I switched to IE because it was simply easier. Not to long ago I examined the Opera browser and found it so-so. It was a decent alternative to IE but what is the point of switching if they are almost equal? So being neither a MS fanboy nor a MS-hater what is in it for me by switching to Firefox?

So I thought I'd give it a try. My first impression is that it is a fast browser, has decent rendering on par with IE, and the tabbed system is nice. Then I checked the memory usage. It appeared that Firefox was using more memory then the same page IE. Well I think that is to be expected. With IE some of it's functionality is most likely hidden in other parts of windows, thus "hiding" the memory usage. Look here for a more detailed analysis of Firefox memory usage compared to IE. You will also see that Firefox is a memory hog that refuses to return it. Again I ask what is so good about Firefox?

So I didn't give up right away. I see that there is a book urging users "Don't Click on the Blue E!" that claims that Firefox will allow users to "browse faster, more securely, and more efficiently". Haven't see faster yet and don't know how it could possible be more secure. I see some efficiency improvement thanks to the tabbed browsing but from what I understand IE7 will have tabs. Is Firefox just a good alternative until IE7 arrives?

So why should I switch to Firefox? Well, here is a website that to give me 10 reasons to switch.
  1. Tabbed Browsing: See above.

  2. Popup Blocking: Maybe I missed something but my IE on XP has this same feature.

  3. Find Stuff Easier: Ahhhh.... Yes. The search feature in Firefox is nice. But it is almost exactly the same as I had in IE with A9 Toolbar installed.

  4. Simplified Privacy / Annoyance Eliminator: This is nice you can view cookies and such but did I really need to know that Amazon set a cookie to "KJHDKLQUWBCMNZUI"?

  5. Better Bookmarks and History: The bookmark manager is nice but I had no issues with the IE method of using the favorites folder.

  6. Accessible, Intelligent, Responsive: A bunch of shortcut keys I'll never use.

  7. Customizable and Extendable: This is really cool. Extensibility in Firefox is off the hook. If I just look at the shear number of extensions available on their website I am very impressed.

  8. Modern Download Manager: So far I've considered this a drawback. When you select "save to disk" from the download dialog box the file is saved to a preset folder. It was a while before I realized that all downloads were being sent to my desktop. Sure you can change this but I'm used to being asked each time I want to download something. Maybe I'll get used to this new method.

  9. Built for standards: That's right we all need standards. It is nice that Firefox conforms to all the W3C standards but Microsoft tends to be a standards setter not a follower. I'm sure when IE7 comes out there will be some fancy features that will only be in IE until an equivalent is incorporated into a standard and then into Firefox. Will developers wait that long? I doubt it. This same sort of thing hurt Netscape.

  10. KISS (Keep It Simple and Straight-Forward): Not sure what this means. I thought IE was pretty simple. Plus using the same system for file browsing and internet browsing seemed pretty straight-forward a simple to me.
I haven't given up yet. I t does seam that Firefox is a good application with more pluses on it's side then IE (for now). I really like the extensibility and the DOM Inspector. So I'm going to continue to try Firefox. I'm struggling to give it a fair shake and see if some of the issues are the fact that I need to retrain myself. I'm resisting the urge to "Click on the Blue E!" for now but we'll see what happens when IE7 arrives.

Cloudmark marks to much
Posted Sunday, July 24, 2005 7/24/2005 08:09:00 PM

I have several websites, a blog, and several of my e-mail address are on shown many websites across the web. What's more I have never liked the e-mail obfuscation (harshblogger_at_hypercubed_dot_com). Needless to say I get a lot of . On a given day I receive approximately 50 e-mails only 4 or 5 of which are legitimate (90% junk). To control the spam situation I use Outlook's junk e-mail filter. I've added a "Add Sender to Blocked Senders List" button to my toolbar so I can quickly go down the list, identify the spam, and add the sender to the blocked list. When I press the "Add Sender.." button the e-mails are automatically sent to the "Junk e-mail folder" and the senders e-mail address is added to a list of junk mail senders. Next time I receive an e-mail from the same sender it is automatically moved to the junk e-mail folder. This catches a few of the e-mails (maybe 50%) but those shady spammers are constantly changing e-mail address and half the time the senders e-mail is spoofed anyway. So with such limited abilities I've decided to try something else.

I downloaded Cloudmark; which, from the website, looked like a good solution. It is a plugin for MS Outlook that does essentially what the Outlook filter does, as I described above, but uses a bigger central database of spammers address. I installed the application on my machine and it ran through my inbox looking for spam. Now remember I had already filtered my message using Outlook filter so my inbox should have been fairly clean less a few stragglers. Well, Cloudmark filtered out 15% of my inbox as junk. Wow, did I miss that many? Well, no.... Looking through the "spam" folder I see that Cloudmark filtered e-mail from my bank, my student loan handler, my car insurance company, many online store e-mails (like legitimate Amazon and Dell mailers), many of my opt-in e-mail newsletters (like MSDN among others) , legitimate e-mails from paypal, and even a few e-mails from my wife (is she on their spammers list?). Actual of all the e-mail that it identified as junk only 30% was actual junk e-mail.

Seems like Cloudmark is a little over zealous. I had to then go into the spam folder and filter back in all the e-mail that I do want. Seems to me that I'm doing the same thing as using the Outlook filter except with Cloudmark I'm filtering in my legitimate e-mail rather then filtering out junk. But here's the thing, I know that when I'm flagging the junk in my inbox I'm going to miss a few. That's ok, maybe I'll catch it next time. But if I have to filter in legitimate e-mails missing even one can have consequences. That's the same reason that I wont use server side filtering. I'll try Cloudmark for a few more days and see how it works on incoming mail but will probably be un-installing it after that.

So what is the solution to spam? I really don't know. I often try to use e-mail address that can be discarded later when the spam gets to much but that doesn't seem to be helping. The only real way to stop spam is to get people to stop buying from the damn spammers. The spammers are not sending this stiff because they want to annoy you. They are sending it because it works. For every million of us that flags, filters, or deletes these spam e-mails there is some dumb ass out there that is buying that product (statistics from here). If you're one of those people I want to say: STOP IT DUMB ASS! Maybe this is evidence that we need minimum intelligent rules for internet access.


Time Cube
Posted Monday, July 18, 2005 7/18/2005 10:06:00 PM

Maybe I'm late on this but I just ran across Gene Ray's TimeCube website (wikipedia). I love everything cubic (especially Hypercubic) but this site is so whacked. It is some sort of rambling of a deranged lunatic with a wacky ass theory of everything. His theory is basically that everything is cubic (whatever that means). I mean this guys is so damn off it is insane.... literally.It would be impossible for me to go through all his theories and debunk them. Not because they are true but because they are incoherent (and awfully formatted). Plus we all know the theory of everything is that everything is hypercubic! Just for fun here is my fictitious argument with Gene Ray:

I think Cubic, I am wisest. You think self, you are evil.

Well, I think Hypercubic so I am wiser then you, Mr. Ray. If you are R and I am H then R=X^3 but H=X^4 which means H=R^4/3 so I am you to the 4/3 power.

I will give $1,000.00 to any person who can disprove 4 days in each earth rotation.

How about starting with the definition of a day according toMW: "The period of rotation of a planet (as earth) or a moon on its axis". You can keep the money for your psychology bills.

I am not allowed to lecture at the word animal academic institutions, for they fear my wisdom will expose and indict the pedant hirelings as betrayers of dumb-ass students - the dung heads who allow their freedom of speech to be suppressed without a whimper, unbelieveable. Word animals will feel the wrath of Cubic curse.

Maybe because we word animals know your are dung head schizophrenic lunatic.

My wisdom so antiquates known knowledge, that a psychiatrist examining my behavior, eccentric by his academic single corner knowledge, knows no course other than to judge me schizoprenic. In today's society of greed, men ofword illusionare elected to lead and wise men are condemned. You must establish aChair of Wisdomto empower Wise Men over the stupid intelligentsia, or perish.

Thank you. Proof that you have been diagnosed schizophrenic. Well, I'm Hyperphrenic... beat that!

There is no human entity, just human Cubics - as in 4 different people in a 4 corner stage metamorphic rotation - never more than 1 corner at same time.

Does that mean that you and I are the same person? But I proved above that I am you to the 4/3 power. I think that means we are both 1 (1^4/3 = 1) or is it zero (0^4/3 = 0).

Nature has no choice but to bring forth a hell upon evil cubelessness. Know it to be of your own making.

Again you are simply wrong by a power of 4/3. Cubelessness is evil, Cubeness is evil^3, convert to Hypercubism or you will bring forth hell upon your self. Hell, exists is a place we can't reach, namely a forth direction or dimension. That is where hell resides and will come forth from a forth direction.... you've been forth warned.

A mother and baby are the same age, as a 1 day old baby has a 1 day old mother.

Ok, I have to hand it to you Mr. Ray for this one. I agree entirely.

Honestly the mother quote is pretty good. Think about it. If you want even more fun take a look at the guys HTML. Played havoc in my WYSIWYG editor (outlook) when quoting it.


Norton SystemWorks product activation
Posted Saturday, July 16, 2005 7/16/2005 12:52:00 PM

I recently purchased Norton SystemWorks 2005 Premier. I've purchased Norton SystemWorks every year for probably the last 5 years but skipped 2004 and hesitated getting 2005 because of the product activation. I really don't like the idea of purchasing software that needs to be remotely activated on my computer. What happens when I need to reinstall the application on a PC after my wife cancels my broadband? What if my computer goes to crap and I need to reinstall on a new machine. What if I need to use it in a virtual machine without internet connection? What about after the upcoming apocalypse when I need to install NSW on the last available laptop in the world? So I realized that these fears are not very rational (at least the last one) and I had already given in with windows XP so I went out and bought NSW 2005, after all it is practically free. I opened the brand new box, installed the application, and started the product registration. The system then claims that I've used this product key on too many machines. What? It just came out of the box. I then had to call the Symantec tech support, filter through the phone system, give my e-mail, name, and phone number and the product key; SOPD-SBNV… no, no, no… B as in "Boy I hate product activation", N as in "Never again", V as in "Very Pissed"). The person that helped me was very polite and helpful (wish all customer service could be) and simple said: "Try it again it should work now". And it did.

So overall the experience not that painful and it works now but should I really have to make a phone call to use a piece of software that I bought in a store? Did I have to give my name, address, and e-mail? And why did the product registration fail in the first place? I think most likely it was that somebody has used this product key already. So if the Symantec people just reset the product key every time someone calls then what is the use? They had no way to verify who I was or weather or not I actually had purchased the product. What's the point? Doesn't seam like it is going to stop the pirates, is going to cause inconvenience for legitimate customers, and they have to spend money on the support staff to answer the phones. Is it really worth it?

SCIFI.COM | Battlestar Galactica
Posted Friday, July 15, 2005 7/15/2005 09:41:00 AM

I pretty much only watch two things on TV which is hardly worth my cable bill. The rest of my free time I'm either online or with my son. I watch G4's Attack of the Show daily and weekly. Battlestar has been in reruns lately but season two premieres tomorrow today (Friday July 15th). If you haven't been watching Battlestar I really suggest you check it out. I consider it one of the best sci-fi TV series' of all time. If you want to get into it now a good start is to go to SciFi's Battlestar site where you can stream, for free, the season one finale. I have to hand it to Sci-Fi for this. I really think this a great way to get people into this series once they see the quality of the episodes.

[Edit: Great plot summary here]


Optimus keyboard
Posted Thursday, July 14, 2005 7/14/2005 01:54:00 PM

The Optimus keyboard is so cool I had to repost it from Slashdot. This keyboard uses color OLEDs to display images on the keys. This the keyboard can change itself depending on the application you're running, user preference, or language. How about changing when shift or alt are pressed? I really hope this makes it to production and eventually a reasonable price. This is the way keyboards should be.

[Via: Slashdot]


Black as a thousand midnights
Posted Monday, July 11, 2005 7/11/2005 10:56:00 PM

As I was riding home from work today I hear the phrase "black as a thousand midnights" on the radio. I found it pretty strange to talk about blackness as something that can be superimposed. Isn't blackness the lack of color? If you look at the amount of light present in one midnight and add up a thousand of them I think you would get a pretty bright night. It got me thinking of what other silly phrases I can think of that have this same logic (or lack of).

As cold as a thousand ice cubes. (each cube is less then 0C (270 K) so 1000 should be about 270,000 C or 45 times as hot as the outer surface of the sun).

As quiet as a thousand mice. (a quiet room is 40 dB or 10^-8 W/m^2. If we take this as the intensity of a mouse then a thousand would be about 10^-5 W/m^2 or 70 dB, almost shouting).

As empty as a thousand vacuums. (can you get less stuff then nothing?).

Slow as a thousand turtles (a thousand turtles traveling at 4 mph all travel at 4 mph but if we add that would be 4,000 mph, about twice the SR-71 speed record).

As fast as a thousand beams of light. (nothing can travel faster then c so it must be c).

As dense as a thousand black holes. (Can you get any denser then a singularity).

As boring as a thousand English classes (ok, I can understand that one).

I show up late at the Skeptic's Circle Saloon (but it's not my fault)
Posted Wednesday, July 06, 2005 7/06/2005 11:35:00 PM

The twelfth skeptic's circle due out on July 7 at Unscrewing the Inscrutable has shown up early but in the wrong place. I attempted to attend the Skeptic's Circle Saloon but had difficulty finding it because of the confusion in time and location. Originally intended to be held at Unscrewing the Inscrutable the meeting was instead held a day early at the UTI Annex. If you read way down at the bottom you will see that I showed up real late, got a little too drunk, and began whining about the lies my mother told me.

Completely awesome skeptic's circle and yes I was late.


live 8 works (for the wrong people)
Posted 7/06/2005 11:04:00 PM

Protestors at the G8 summit made a lot of noise and were promptly ignored by the attendees. Another group of people that were promptly ignored were the organizers of the giant charity concerts . While many millions were entertained by the live 8 concert(s) very few took the time to sign the online petition. I say what did they expect? People attend these concerts to hear music not necessarily to support the cause. I don't understand why entertainers feel they can solve all the worlds problems by doing a charity event. Criticisms of faluire aside at least Live Aid raised real money. Live 8 is supposed to do what? Raise awareness and pressure leaders into increasing aid and cutting third world debt. It will most likely be a misguided failure. And according to polls it looks like most people agree. The world leaders, hopefully, are going to do make their decisions based on the advise of their advisors that are paid big bucks to sit down and weigh the facts and make informed decisions. I'm certain that none of them are going to be swayed Bono and company. In general I'm sick of entertainers thinking they can save the world by singing or speaking out against prescription drugs.

So what was the point of Live 8. Well, I suggest that it was to raise money. Unfortunately not to fight poverty but for the entertainers and big businesses. How can you have a "free" charity concert that is distributed "on demand and only on AOL" and on MTV presented by Vonage, via phone by Sun Microsystems and USA Wireless. Live 8 is sponsored by AOL, Nokia, Capital Radio, O2, Sun Microsystems, and USA Wireless. They are getting publicity and so are the entertainers. At least most of these sponsors are being couth about it but I was almost floored this morning when I heard a commercial touting "watch this historic charity event exclusively on AOL." Does anyone else see this as a little less then completely altruistic?

I Used To Believe : the childhood beliefs site
Posted Friday, July 01, 2005 7/01/2005 01:32:00 PM

While looking for evidence to debunk my mothers lies I encountered this website. It is a collections of childhood beliefs posted by adults (who hopefully don't believe them anymore). The funniest ones are in the sex section as I'm sure we all had many misconceptions about sex an where babies come from. Here are a few of my favorite "safe for work" ones:

When I was little my older sister told me if you swallowed chewing gum it would wind itself around your heart and stop it beating.
- Clare
I had a strange fear that if I closed my eyes in the bathtub, William Shakespeare would come up through the drain and kill me. I knew his name, but I had no idea who he was, so I just naturally assumed he was some sort of bathtub vampire.
- Dan
When I was little, my Mum told me that when the Queen went to the toilet, a lttle brush came up and scrubbed her bum when she had finished.
when i was little i used to always want to buy ice cream from the ice cream man, and sometimes my mom would give me money. but one time, when i asked for money she got fed up and said, "oh, that's the knife sharpening man! he comes around and sharpens peoples' knives to use to kill little kids who ask him for ice cream! please, whatever you do, DONT ASK HIM FOR ICE CREAM!" from then on, i was horrified at the knife sharpening man, aka the ice cream man. :P


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