Hot Air Balloon Logic

A man piloting a hot air balloon discovers he has wandered off course and is hopelessly lost. He descends to a lower altitude and locates a man down on the ground. He lowers the balloon further and shouts, "Excuse me, can you tell me where I am?"

The man below says, "Yes, you're in a hot air balloon, about 30 feet above this field."

"You must work in Information Technology," says the balloonist.

"Yes I do," replies the man. "And how did you know that?"

"Well," says the balloonist, "what you told me is technically correct, but of no use to anyone."

The man below says, "You must work in management."

"I do," replies the balloonist, "how did you know?"

"Well," says the man, "you don't know where you are, or where you're going, but you expect my immediate help. You're in the same position you were before we met, but now it's my fault!"

This reminds of some employers I've worked for...who shall remain nameless - you know who you are!

Double-demerit weekends

With the advent of the Easter long weekend, (yay!) the NSW government have continued their love affair with double-demerit points for driving offences. This is a weird way to ensure safer driving, in my opinion, as statistically, public holidays are no more dangerous than any other time to be on our roads. However, after driving down the freeway into town this morning, I couldn't help but make some observations now that double demerits are in force.

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Southern Cross Cable Damaged

I've just received an e-mail from an ISP we manage at work that the Southern Cross Cable has been damaged due to storm activity. So if anyone notices a slow-down between Australia and the USA, this would explain it. I will be curious to see if InterNode's investment in bandwidth via Asia to the USA shields their customers from this most recent Southern Cross dilemma. Internoders.....comments??

The curse of old software

After spending a fair amount of time yesterday getting my Mac Mini rebuilt as my desktop machine (it has spent the last 18 months of its life faithfully as the Gray Matter mail, web and everything-else server) I was most disappointed this morning when I couldn't get Apple Mail to stay up long enough to read a single message. After about an hour of googling I decided that none of the fixes seemed to be applicable to my situation.

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When good ideas go bad

As many people know, I run a mail system for myself and a few other family members and friends. Up until this week it used a very robust backend being driven by Mac OSX and postfix, mailscanner, spamassassin and clamav. However, in my day job I've been gaining a lot of experience and respect for a bundled open source platform called Zimbra. So I thought I could kill two birds with a one nuke and drop Zimbra onto a new Linux-powered machine. In principle, this was (and still is) a good idea.

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Catching up....

Having resisted the pressure from friends I finally caved in and joined Facebook. Yeh, yeh, I'm now a web 2.0 (sic) whore and all that. The good thing is that I've made contact with some long-lost friends from high school and other people who I worked with the aviation industry etc. Whilst this website is good for posting my personal thoughts and happenings, it's rather "isolated" in that I'm the only one here. I'll continue to update this site and it will still be my main outlet but for those less important notes and ramblings, head over to Facebook.

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, which uses many different antivirus programs to scan uploads. Of 31 programs, only four – ClamAV, eSafe, Kaspersky and Symantec – reported a virus.


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!