Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

Heaphy Track wry weather reporting

Saturday, March 29th, 2008

I recently walked the Heaphy Track. If there’s only one or two tramping trips you ever do in your life, then one of them has to be the Heaphy. Stunning changes of terrain, landscape and vegetation provide a continually changing experience.

The Department of Conservation (DoC) manages the track and all of the huts on the track. As huts go these are mostly very well equipped with gas cooking facilities and even pots and pans.

On the second day we stopped at Saxon Hut for lunch - and enjoyed the weather forecast that was supplied by the hut warden on a blackboard. The blue text was the most accurate - as you’d probably expect.

Weather forecast at Saxon Hut

Beautiful waste - the photography of Chris Jordan

Sunday, March 16th, 2008

How do you bring statistics to life? Especially when the numbers are so big as to feel meaningless.

Chris Jordan uses photography to illustrate what I’d call the statistics of waste. As he points out, the works are large and should be seen directly, however, you can get a sense of the scale from his website.

Check out “Running the Numbers - An American Self-Portrait“.

Thanks to Rosie Kaplan for alerting me to this.

One Minute Guide to Planet Earth

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

You can say a lot in a minute. The clip above won a Jury Commendation: here are more examples from Filminute.

What relevance to No WOMBATS? One of the Action Meetings Ground Rules is “be concise”.

The horse was unharmed

Friday, February 29th, 2008

This report from the New Zealand Herald of a road fatality is sombre reading - apart from the curious detail about the state and location of the horse. What about the driver of the four-wheel drive?

Margaritas are like buttocks

Monday, February 4th, 2008

Having just one is ridiculous.

This deep insight came to me while on the holiday that is now, sadly, over.

So - no more levity - we’re back to the serious business of dealing with WOMBATS - and there are plenty around - for example, yet another rail crossing death.

Maybe I’m grumpy ’cause I’m back from holiday but the TV ads exhorting us to celebrate Waitangi Day by eating pig and dropping in to “get a bargain” cheapen and detract from our national day.

A Christmas Message

Monday, December 24th, 2007

Drink, don't drive - Xmas message, Isobar, Island Bay

Merry Christmas and a successful (WOMBAT-free) 2008 to you all.

The “real reason” for climate change?

Sunday, December 2nd, 2007

Watch Polar Bears, a 1 minute movie that proposes the “real reason”.

Recognise the voice? None other than John Clarke, aka Fred Dagg, who also wrote it.

The second verse of ‘God Save The Queen’ is commonly omitted.

Friday, November 9th, 2007

“O Lord our God, arise,
Scatter our enemies,
And make them fall;
Confound their politics,
Frustrate their knavish tricks;
On thee our hopes we fix:
God save us all.”

I think I can see why. Full anthem here.

Responsive antivirus

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

I was very grumpy about my antivirus software failing to catch the ucleaner malware. However, all credit to them on the follow up.

Part of the email response “Ultimate Cleaner is what is classed as rogue anti-spyware. They generally purport to find and remove spyware from computers. However, it is actually a poor performance product that use false positives to goad users to purchase their program. Generally they are installed via a direct install of another program, fake update or patch. A user needs to explicitly install or agree to install the coupled software or infection that allows Ultimate Cleaner to run itself.”

I sent the offending file VideoAccessCodecInstall.exe to the local distributor who passed it on to HQ.

A couple of days later this response came back “I’ve been told that the detection for the sample you sent through has been added. It has been pointed out to me that the executable is repacked and recoded several times a day to avoid detection/scanning.”

I’m impressed - the system works from down here in NZ up to Head Office - and clearly these Ucleaner guys are rogues.

Lesson: complain - responsive organisations take complaints on board and use them to reduce repetitive failure.

Protection Rackets on your desktop

Saturday, September 8th, 2007

I lost half a day this week getting rid of a piece of malware that not only disabled my machine but attempted to induce me to pay for the privilege of fixing it. The whole frustrating exercise was a WOMBAT that exposed me to the seedier side of the internet.

My first disappointment was the end of the quaint notion that my paid-for “world’s most effective” antivirus software that monitors all incoming traffic would detect this - but these racketeers happen to have expertise.

Trouble started with the appearance of a bogus Windows Security Alert dialogue box. Bogus Windows Security Alert

Then an increasing number of icons in my task bar started turning orange - and damn popups all over the place and IE starting up and offering me an adware removal site (Note: Don’t download anything from this site! Your antivirus should warn you - but why take the risk?)

adwarebg300.jpgThe popups were soon followed by a takeover of my desktop background with this little beauty. Not only was it not pretty but the whole of the desktop became a hyperlink to the website. Result - an unusable machine.

Next step - find a reputable adware/spyware search and destroy program. Trawled some forums and came across this “review” - yes, I should have known better - but I head straight for XostSpySE Scan - after all, FREE sounds pretty attractive. All is going well - run the scan and it detects all the right things and I click on the Remove (or similar) button and guess what - it wants a chunk of money for the “remove” function. Nice one - they know I’m desperate and now the sucker punch, pay up or else. No way do I pay - that kind of commerce deserves no rewards (I’ve searched their website and see no information anywhere on the real price - only inducements to “free downloads” - in my book that’s misleading and shonky).

Compare this sleight of hand with AdAware who are up front and clear from the outset about cost.

What did I learn?

  • I need an adware/spyware programme as well as my antivirus
  • the internet’s darkside is only a download away
  • there are methods for persuasion that really suck (an extreme form of this?)