Sunday, 22 June 2008

Tales from the referral log

A few people have navigated to my blog after googling "Duggar sin in the camp". For those that follow the saga of the Duggars they will be aware of a much-repeated anecdote of an interview with Jimbob Duggar after he lost his bid for the senate. Apparently, Jimbob was asked as to what he attributed the loss, at which point he glanced at oldest son Joshua (then about 14 years old) and replied 'sin in the camp'. I am not sure if this was a written article or a video, and I have never seen it myself so I can't vouch for its accuracy or whether it simply an internet meme (purple monkey dishwasher). However, enough people believe this interview actually took place and speculate about the nature of the sin.

Some speculate that Joshua was caught masturbating, or looking at pornography (after all, he has his own media room and seems to love computers. It is feasible he could find a way around their internet filter.) Another theory floating around is that Joshua was betrothed to a daughter of a family friend, Jim Holt (also a Gothardite politician). The story goes that this betrothal was broken off after Josh was caught touching a girl as she slept (some stories have it that this girl was a family friend, others tell it was one of his own sisters). Many point to this posting for supposed insider confirmation (scroll down to April 04). This forum posting might be what sparked the whole rumour as it slowly spread to other forums discussing the Duggar family.

It is rumoured now that Joshua (now 20) will announce his engagement on upcoming Duggar television specials. Some have speculated that he is again bethrothed to the Holt girl. Time will tell.

If I was googling for porn it would have made sense

I think I would rather have a virus myself than have a computer virus. There are few things in my life more frustrating than computer viruses. I tend to get a bad one every year or so, and each time I curse myself for not backing up my system and I wonder what files I would be losing if I have to reformat (family photos? eTax records? my year-long action research project?), before beginning the arduous process of scanning, googling, printing off removal instructions so that I can do things in safe mode, rebooting, rebooting, rebooting.

On Thursday I was googling "Viggo Mortensen Lore of the Rings" trying to locate some photography that Mr Mortensen took during the production of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The collection was called Lore of the Rings as far as I could recall, but I wasn't sure if it was ever released as a book or if was just a magazine article. (Aha, after some more googling it seems that the collection of images were from his book SignLanguage, and perhaps 'Lore of the Rings' was an article about said book. Or maybe my mind conjured the memory out of nothing). (AHA! Found it! 'Lore of the Rings' was the title of an article from Flaunt magazine)

This was the image I was searching for, that had stuck in my brain for six years:
Eerie. I love it.

But in searching for it earlier this week I stumbled acorss dead links and expired domains. As usual, I had teatimer switched on. All of a sudden 10 registry change boxes appear, and I deny each one. My browser shuts down, my desktop disappears, my tool bar, my start bar, my task manager all disabled. All I have is a blue screen and some black command prompt boxes.

I reboot in safe mode and am able to get into windows explorer. I scan with spybot and find myself infected with over 2 dozen viruses, from smitfraud to zlob to virtumonde. Spybot is able to get rid of a few, I use SmitFraudFix to rid myself of a couple more, and use hijackthis to clear out most of the rest. (Note: hijackthis should never be used without caution. I know a little about what I am doing but what I do is still mostly trial and error. One of these days one of my errors might just destabilise my whole system. If you find yourself with viruses that you can't get rid of, get hijackthis, run a scan, and post you log to a support forum. They will tell you which files to delete. Proceed with caution.)

I had one problem that I couldn't get rid of: win32.tiny.abk. I googled around and found many people struggling with it but no clear answers on what to do. The only people reporting success were those who just gave in and reinstalled windows. I found a few pages of removal advice, but the directions involved deleting files that I didn't seem to have. I struggled with it for about 48 hours but I seem to have it beaten now.

What win32.tiny does is it uses your computer to mail out spam. You'll be able to tell because you internet will have slowed to a crawl. Port 25 is the email port, so disabling that is a good idea (I am still receiving email, but I haven't fully tested my ability to send email. I might have to unblock the port. I'm hoping that now that my computer is scanning clean it won't be a problem).
Gmer was very helpful, especially as the virus had disabled my registry editor. In safe mode I would start gmer, go into services and take note of any files displayed in red. I would then go to files, browse to these red entries, delete them, and then go back to services to delete the entry there. I used teatimer to block processes and registry changes, and then used the teatimer log to go into gmer to find these files for deletion. Eventually spybot was scanning clean and teatimer was not having to block anything.

Now I have learnt my lesson and am using Mozilla Firefox.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

We're all going to hell

I've gotten somewhat obsessed with the old PC game Diablo. Back in 1997 it always creeped me out to play it (I blame the eerie music), and I never got beyond level three. The storyline is fairly simple: a hero comes to a medieval village that has been left practically deserted after an evil took over the local cathedral. The archbishop had become possessed and he kidnapped the prince to appease his master. The townspeople were oblivious to his conversion, and he led them down into the catacombs under the guise of rescuing the prince, but he was leading them to their deaths. In the meantime, the king went mad with grief for his son, and started executing villagers. This story unravels slowly as you speak to the half-dozen remaining villagers, and venture into the dungeons below the cathedral. The graphics are very basic, but it's very dark and you usually cannot see what is in a room until you enter it. Combine that with the atmospheric music and the occasional sound effects of distant screaming and maniacal laughter and it makes for one creepy game.

I've made it past the Cathedral levels (1-4), and gone deeper down in the Catacombs (5-8) and am now on the first level of the Caves (9-12). Just four more levels until I reach hell itself and face Diablo! (13-16).
I've been reading the comments on this news article about rate rises with some interest. On one hand, I feel badly for people who are in danger of losing their homes, people having to choose between food and electricity, people having to slave away at overtime and not spending time with their families, and people who are facing the reality of no longer being able to afford a family. It sucks, there is no denying that. There are a lot of unhappy people out there right now.

On the other hand, these are the people who rode the boom of the last decade. Getting bigger houses and bigger cars, working up credit card debt and going on overseas holidays. Now the tide is turning and they accuse the government and the reserve bank of being discompassionate. There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding about how macroeconomics work. Is it just me, or do a lot of Australians seem kind of dumb?

"Interest rates dont help
I dont see how lifting interest rates can help inflation. It can help, but its not the answer. They need to look at other ways to combat inflation. High interest rates only hurt the people who can least afford it."

Lifting interest rates is the way to lower inflation. If it doesn't work, that means we are in stagflation and we are all screwed. So I think the RBA have just got to keep rising them and praying it starts to work, because that's the only thing we've got. There is no plan B.

"Rate rises
The RBA needs to look at who is doing all this spending, it certainly isn't us homeowners who are struggling to make ends meet with mortgage payments increasing, petrol prices skyrocketing and general grocery bills getting higher. I say lets look at the younger generation who are still living at home spending up big on mobile phones, ipods and ridiculous amounts of money being spent on downloading music and ringtones. I wish I had money to throw around on ringtones......raising interest rates is not the answer, you need to hit the pockets hard of those who are actually spending the money!"

Those damn recession-inducing ringtones! I knew that $4.99 per message was going to land us all in hot water! As for downloading music: that costs money? That's news to this young person. God bless you, interwebs, with your free exchange of other people's creations.
It is interesting though that so many of the posters don't seem to classify buying homes as spending. People getting a loan of $450K for a 3 bedroom house is not spending for the purpose of fuelling inflation, but some hipster kid spending $5 for a Death Cab for Cutie ringtone is.

"Interest Rates Increase Inflation not decrease it.
This is pure greed not inflation. Do those 'wealthy' reserve bank board members not have enough already. They are greedy people. All they want is MORE. More of YOUR homes, so THEY and their greedy mates get Greedier and Greedier, by canabalising on the vulnerable. The interest rate rises are passed on in the form of HIGHER prices. That is inflationary, not battlers trying to feed their families and aiming for the Great Australian Dream..............oh, these greedy people have now made the dream a nightmare....Id rather rent and spend on all the good things."



I think this person is a little confused about what the RBA actually does.

Natural economic cycles aside, I do think we are all heading for bad times. Fuel is just going to keep going up, and no one seems to be calling for alternative fuels, they are just whinging to the government to take off 4 cents a litre in tax. I read an article some years ago predicting that the energy crisis of the near future would result in small communities centred around railway lines, with agriculture nearby. We would all eat local and seasonal foods, because transporting fruit and vegetables halfway around the world would no longer be feasible. Everything would be locally produced, no more factories in China. Things would cost more, people would own less. All those sprawling suburbs would fall into disrepair. People would raid them for the copper wiring and the rest would be left to crumble.

Seems a little bleak, right?

I don't think it has to be that way. If governments could force the oil companies to release the patents for those efficient electric cars that they buried years ago, we could start changing over. We could have wind farms to provide the electricity and life as we know it may survive. That's not to say we don't need to change. Shipping pears from Argentina is just stupid, and paying China to have children produce cheap trinkets with a by-product of mass pollution should be criminal.

Right now I should be working on my digital portfolio. I have an appointment with my course convenor tomorrow to check that I am on-track with it. What have I done? Zilch. Zippo. Nada.

And yet I am not concerned. I have this terrible over-confidance when it comes to getting things done. I never hand things in late so I just assume that come this weekend everything would have been completed and handed in and I can get on with my post-semester slacking (only slightly different to my mid-semester slacking in that I am procrastinating doing things like laundry and vacuuming my car as opposed to procrastinated essay and reports). I am trying to remind myself that I still have three big things to do this week:

  1. Digital portfolio
  2. Action research proposal
  3. Collect and organise all forms for submission to the practicum office.

So I better get cracking.
Or I could try to get to level 10 on Diablo!