Cannibals you say?

Recently, a large corporation hired several cannibals to increase their diversity, You are all part of our team now," said the Human Resources rep during the welcoming briefing. "You get all the usual benefits and you can go to the cafeteria for something to eat, but please don't eat any employees". The cannibals promised they would not.

Four weeks later their boss remarked, "You're all working very hard and I'm satisfied with your work. We have noticed a marked increase in the whole company's performance. However, one of our secretaries has disappeared. Do any of you know what happened to her?" The cannibals all shook their heads, "No." After the boss had left, the leader of the cannibals said to the others, "Which one of you idiots ate the secretary?"

A hand rose hesitantly. "You fool!" the leader continued. "For four weeks we've been eating managers and no one noticed anything. But NOOOooooo, you had to go and eat someone who actually does something!!!"

Virus detection upgraded at Gray Online

A number of people use my mail server to filter their ISP mail. In other words, mail from their ISP is redirected to my server, which then scans (viruses and spam...among other things) then delivers it to a Gray Online mailbox. I'm proud that most of the people using my server have noticed a significant difference between my filtering and most ISP's. Namely, my filters ACTUALLY WORK! Why? Simple - I've been basically a full-time e-mail and Unix administrator for the better part of the last decade. I know e-mail and I've seen the rise of spam and viruses. Consequently I've been able to adapt my filters in small evolutionary steps, rather than having nothing and having to revolutionise my mail systems (like most ISP's seem to have done).

Enough trumpet blowing, the core of my mail system's "brains" comes from one open source package;

However it is ClamAV I'm most impressed with at the moment.

Many people would be aware of the recent "Storm Worm" outbreak that has been hammering the Internet and any unprotected mailboxes. It seems that the humble guys developing this open-source virus scanner have trumped nearly every big player in the commercial virus scanning market and had detection signature distributed almost as soon as the Storm Worm unleashed its fury. Here's a snippet from the ClamAV website:

A huge virus surge of a new Storm Worm variant is flooding email inboxes and evading many antivirus programs. In my tests of 31 programs, only four reported a virus. Postini, an email security company, says that over the last 24 hours it has seen about 55 million virus emails, about 60 times the daily average. [...] At 2:30pm I uploaded the attachment to Virustotal.com, which uses many different antivirus programs to scan uploads. Of 31 programs, only four – ClamAV, eSafe, Kaspersky and Symantec – reported a virus.

Source: http://www.clamav.net/2007/04/13/quick-reaction-to-new-storm-worm-variant-outbreak

You can read the full article over at PC World if you are interested. The main reason for making a note about this achievement is two fold:

  1. I wanted to inform my users that they have world-class mail filtering protecting them from the latest nasty floating around, and
  2. I really think the ClamAV team deserves some coverage for their outstanding effort both with this most recent worm threat and for all their hard work over the years to get ClamAV where it is today! Well done!

Site Upgrade

Happy Easter! Welcome to the new and improved Gray Matter. What? You can't tell the difference? Sheesh! The lack of gratitude is insulting :P Seriously though, all the changes are in the back-end and have very little effect on how the site looks. The upgrade has vastly improved spam detection for comments and track-backs along with a number of other security fixes. Kudos to all the developers over at Geeklog! I've also clarified the copyright for all the work on this site and added a short warning to all potential bandwidth leechers on the 'About Us' page. You leech, your site will have a referrer ban slapped on it :) Anyway, just wanted to put a quick note to explain the downtime yesterday (if anyone noticed) and say happy easter! Take care y'all.

New Domain!

You may have noticed that The Gray Matter has a new domain. I've registered "gray.net.au " recently and have now moved everything to the new domain. Along with the new domain, I have installed a new (and vastly improved) gallery to house all our photos. As before, only registered users can see the full-size images in most of the galleries, so if you haven't already registered, now is a good time! Let me know if you find any broken links or weird happenings...there were plenty over the weekend and I can guarantee I haven't nailed all the bugs :P

We're back!

I don't normally broadcast when we're heading away for a week or so (I have to think about the security of my unoccupied house!) so I'm announcing our return from Cairns! We decided that it was a good time to steal a week and see my parents and my brother and his family. Considering my girls hadn't seen their "Pa" since early this year, and Elise had never met him, it was a great trip purely from that perspective. We got up to other things too...

Read more…

FREEBIE! For real - no I'm not kidding.

Just a very short article to link to one of the best FREE virus scanners I've seen to date. Written by a company called "Comodo" their antivirus product is free and extemely featurful. So go and get it! No excuses now for not having a good virus scanner. Comodo Antivirus

From Comodo's web site:
 

"Comodo AntiVirus 1.1 beta, subsequent beta versions, and the final release version will each be available to businesses and home users at no charge. After installing the program, just register with us and you will be sent a free license. Once activated, this license will never expire.

Unlike some vendors that offer stripped down versions of commercial products for free, this is the full, completely functional version of the product."

Why the DMCA is evil...

Normally I don't write articles about technology news - there's plenty of others doing that and besides, I don't want to compete with my brother over at the Rooster's Rail! ( Hi Dave). However, this time, I'm making an exception because it affects Australia, and more importantly, the average "Joe" on the street.

There's this nasty piece of legislation in the USA called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). They (the USA) are keen to see it spread. The way they are doing it is by wrapping it up in trade agreements other countries sign in order to trade with the USA. Australia sold out it's copyrights to the USA in our most recent trade agreement. Now it seems Canada is going down a similar road.

Nothing news worthy there, and lets face it - who wants to actually read the DMCA to try and figure out why it is so damn evil?! Not me! So Michael Giest has written a really good day-by-day count down to Canada's DMCA adoption called 30 days of DRM (DRM is Digital Rights Management and is the practical working of the DMCA). It's easy to read and rather startling once you realise how invasive, restrictive and dangerous the DMCA is to average people and how they use different forms of media. Please read Michael Geist's page.

So you've read about the DMCA and want to make some noise? Sure, go sign up with Defective by Design who campaign against DRM and the DMCA in all its forms. Mainly centred in the USA, by they organise demonstrations, petitions etc, where ever there are enough people. So go sign up, get involved and let these media outlets know what the consumers think of being told what they cn and can't do with the media they paid for in good faith!

Finally - technology brings us together!

Technology has promised many things over the years, and sadly, very few have actually become a mainstream reality. Sure there's lots of new content being created (webogs or podcasts anyone?) but has any of that really made a personal impact in your life. I'm not referring to how much time you spend blogging, or surfing, or fragging your mates; I'm talking about the sort of moments that you sit back and ponder over, then smile. Tonight was one of those nights. Tonight my brother an I hooked up with Skype and had a little video chat. Nothing new or exciting about that. However, we both brought the rest of our families in on the conversation and for the first time in over eight months, all eight of us were face-to-face.

It was great to talk to my nephews and sister in law (Kate) and see how much they have changed. Kate recently had laser eye surgery and for the first time in my life, I saw her without glasses; she looks great! The boys are growing so fast and Angus is real live wire :)

It was good for Dave's family to see my girls and Nat for the same reasons. Dave and Kate both commented on how much Emily (my eldest daughter) has grown. This was the first time they saw an animated Elise too; before tonight they had only seen photos!

So here I am, sitting back and pondering how truely wonderful it was to have technology span thousands of kilometres and bring us together. Sure we weren't physically in the same room, in that we couldn't physically interact, but what is being together really about? Isn't about sharing news, experiences and laughter? Emotionally, we could have been physically together and I guess that exactly what a face-to- face technology like video conferencing does - seeing the body language and watching the smiles makes a whole worlds of difference. For once, technology did not disappoint.

It's getting warmer - time to venture out again!

Last weekend was great - the weather is warming up (slowly) and the wind stayed away which meant it was a good opportunity to go out with the girls.

We tootled down to Kiama and introduced Emily to the Blow Hole. Her response: "scared". I guess the "whoompa" that it makes would be a little off putting for a 2 year old, still, she didn't run and hide, but had fun climbing on the rocks.

After the Blow Hole we went down to the park and Emily had a ball running around and wearing herself out. She was having SO much fun we couldn't coerce her into leaving...not even for ICE CREAM! Which means Nat and I didn't get any either :(

We managed to drag Emily away for a walk which was a good chance to get her to burn off any remaining energy. That night she slept like a log! Heheh.

In all of this, Elise was delight. Nat had her in the papoose where she was warm and snug. She woke up occasionally, had a bit of a look around, then went back to sleep. Which was a nice change becuase she's had a bit of a shocker this weekend. Ah well - we take it one day at a time. Usually she is really good and an absolute pleasure to have around. Then some days, she just cries - thankfully though, she has been a really good nocturnal sleeper :)