Thursday, May 26, 2005

DDOS for Non-Geeks

A couple weeks ago, I posted a Geeky Friday story about a successful defense against a distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attack. Today I've come across a BBC story in which they describe on video how a computer can become infected. It's not nearly as technical and I think it's a pretty accessible explanation about what can happen to your computer if you're not careful.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Shooting In My Neighborhood

I just heard that a shooting happened in my "exclusive D.C. neighborhood" this morning -- see coverage from a local news station. It's kind of spooky. The good news (for me anyway) is that the suspect is a relative of the victim and it's not a random act.

The video does have some nice shots of how nice my street looks covered by the foliage of the 60+ year-old willow oaks lining both sides.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Right and honorably

Following up on my most recent post, I googled for "wavigo skype" to see how other people compared Skype and Wavigo. I found the quote "Wavigo is Skype done right and honorably" (or "the honorable way") a few more times (here, here, here, here, etc) and all done by a user calling himself (herself?) Bohdana.

In fact, of the top ten results in the "wavigo skype" search, all either have this phrase or are on the same site as one of these other top ten. Is Bohdana working for Wavigo or is s/he just very happy with the service?

I'll be approaching Wavigo cautiously.

(Searching google for "Bohdana wavigo" presents some results in Czech. If anybody out there reads Czech, I was wondering how to say "right and honorable" in Czech.)

Skype and system resources

Via TinyApps blog, Marc Eisenstadt writes a lengthy blog post on how Skype can monopolize your computer's resources. This borders on the sort of thing I usually save for a Geeky Friday post, but I think the content is at a high enough level that it shouldn't scare you away. Better yet, Eisenstadt quotes from (and links to) three source, one "highly technical article", one "less technical article" and one "in-depth discussion" (actually the slashdot comments on the "highly technical article").

It's worth a quick read and there are two things I'll do now:

  1. Make sure that I only run Skype when I'm actually going to call somebody (corrollary: if you want to call me, ping me by IM or email first)
  2. Investigate Wavigo, a comment on this article referred to Wavigo as "Skype done right and honorably".

Friday, May 20, 2005

Geeky Friday: ipodder and ITConversations

I've been using iPodder for about six months now to explore some of the many podcasts. One of the best I've found is IT Conversations. As the title suggests, they podcast interviews, speeches, presentations, etc about information technology subjects. It's all well and good, but they're too prolific for me -- in the past week they've published eleven shows for around six hours of listening. I don't have that kind of time.

To deal with this, I sometimes visit their archive page, use Firefox's Aardvark extension to print a nice copy of the descriptions of recent shows, go through these with a red pen and identify which I really want to listen to and which to remove from my iTunes/iPod using ipodder's cleanup pane. Since this is a little too much work, I've come up with two ways to change this process, one that I can do now and one that requires a change to ipodder.

The one feature that ipodder lacks which would make this process easier is a way to show the text associated with each feed entry. IT Conversations includes a paragraph with each describing the speaker and the topic, Coverville includes a playlist. With this, I could designate which shows to cleanup from within ipodder. Alternately, I could designate which shows to download in the first place.

Since this feature doesn't yet exist, I'm going to opt for the other option -- don't download IT Conversations podcasts with ipodder. Instead, I've subscribed to their RSS feed in bloglines and when I see the description of a show I want to hear, I will click on the "enclosure" link and save it using iTunes. I fear that this won't be a simple as I think it could be, but I'll try it for a while.

(Yes, this is another case of a user of an open source product whining about a missing feature that I could probably add myself if I put myself to the task. However, I don't have the time to do so this month. I promise to donate to the project if it gets added by another person, though.)

I've got some thoughts to post about other podcasts I'm listening to, in the meantime, if you'd like to see a list of what I'm grabbing, see the "Podcasts" portion of my blog roll.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Twenty Questions

This completely blew my mind. is a neural-net based game of twenty questions which has been building its knowledge base for something like 17 years. I've played it three times and it successfully guessed what I was thinking of each time ("shoelace", "juggling club", "pacifier"). My jaw dropped and I spun my office chair in awe.

I found this via Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools blog where he shows off the portable version of this game. The Cool Tools site is worth following, it only has 2-4 posts per week and the write-ups on the tools are good reading.

The Cool Tools piece gives more history of 20q than I could find on the 20q site itself. However, when I googled for the creator's name, Robin Burgener, I found this article which gives some more details.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Muppet Radio

If you can slog through the advertising and work around the blocked pop-ups and still launch the player, you can listen to Muppet Radio on (via

Friday, May 06, 2005

Suggesting a feature to Gmail

The Unofficial Google weblog writes about a new feature in gmail (not yet publicly announced) that give you an option to always show the images from the sender of the message you're reading. This is a lot more convenient than having to click "display external images" everytime you open your "Daily Dilbert" every day.

Speaking of new features for gmail, in case you haven't already discovered this, Gmail's suggest a feature page has 15-20 checkboxes for specific features. I assume these are the most frequently requested features. I'd guess that the number of votes for these is included in their prioritization discussions.

So, click on the link above or from gmail, click "Help", then "Contact Us", then "Suggest a feature" and vote for your favorites.

Geeky Friday: Whiz Kid vs Online Extortionist

Seen on slashdot, How a Bookmaker and a Whiz Kid Took On an Extortionist — and Won. If you like gripping, readable yarns like this sort, you'd probably also like The Cuckoo's Egg by Clifford Stoll, but you've also probably already read it.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Monday, May 02, 2005

I'm Linked In

Last week a co-worker mentioned to me, referring to it as somewhat like friendster, but more professionally oriented. It sounded intriguing, but I didn't actually sign up until I read Fred Wilson's post on his "A VC" blog that I grokked? how this site could be of more use. Fred finds it useful for reference checks for potential hires, due diligence, etc.

Anyway, I'm linked in and now have 185,500+ people connected to me by 1-4 degrees of separation.