Sunday, August 31, 2003
Is human evolution finally over?: "However, such arguments affect only the Western world - where food, hygiene and medical advances are keeping virtually every member of society alive and able to pass on their genes. In the developing world, no such protection exists."
Thursday, August 28, 2003
Wednesday, August 27, 2003
Thursday, August 21, 2003
Much Ado About Options: "it is hard to understand why investors would favor an incentive package that is more appealing to employees when the corporation underperforms the historic market"
Thoughts on W32.Sobig.F@mm and spam
Thoughts on W32.Sobig.F@mm and spam
I have a spam filter tuned like those Honda Civics you see with a lowered suspension and a 400 horsepower motor. It's not pretty, but it works:
- I stay current with the latest version of SpamAssassin.
- Every email address in my address book, except my own, is added to the whitelist.
- The threshhold for being flagged as spam has been cut in half (2.5) from the default (5.0).
- I've thrown tens of thousands of messages at the bayesian classifier, including my archive of email receipts, mail from friends, etc.
- I have a procmail filter to look for the signature of windows executables (probably a worm) and file them into the Spam folder (might not be a worm).
I get about 200 messages per day in my spam folder. I get 1 or 2 pieces of spam per month in my inbox. False positives are about as common as false negatives -- invariably a mailing from some commercial site with which I'm doing business -- and easily trained away.
I haven't really worried about spam since this got going. Every time I get a false I retrain it, and it's definitely getting better over time (e.g. false positives used to be closer to 5 per month). I do encourage everyone who can to set up a similar system. I feel sorry for those who can't, and kind of wonder about those who can but don't.
A while back, before this setup had really hit its stride, I went through my site and fixed up the email addresses to all be non-functional without some human intervention (try clicking on a link to see what I mean). This had absolutely no effect on the amount of spam I received. My guess is that spammers already had my address in their lists, so all I was preventing was the address being picked up by new scans.
However, I haven't received a single instance of the Sobig.F virus. I've received bounces from it, but no copies of it. From this I deduce:
- The virus is not working from a set list of targets. It's making a target list from local information and forging from and to addresses (i.e. if you are infected it will not send out as you, but it will send mail from and to all the addresses it can find on your hard drive).
- The worm does not care if mail bounces to the to: recipient -- a bounce will then go to the from: address.
- Not having your email address on your web page will make it much less likely that this worm will send you mail.
- Update: Derek reports the worm constructs its address list by scanning your hard drive for email addresses in various file types including cached web pages.
So the long and short of this is, if you want to avoid this kind of worm:
- Run a spam filter with all the bells and whistles.
- Filter for Windows executables and treat them as spam.
- Don't leave your email address lying around online.
and if you want to avoid sending this kind of worm:
Sobig is biggest virus of all: "The virus carries its own e-mail sending program and does not use Outlook to despatch infected mail."
Wednesday, August 20, 2003
Mortgage Markets Are Out of Control: "We wouldn't see these wild undulations in interest rates if they had already been hedged"
Tuesday, August 19, 2003
Why Humans and Their Fur Parted Ways: "As soon as the ancestral human population in Africa started losing its fur, Dr. Rogers surmised, people would have needed dark skin as a protection against sunlight."
The sad tale of a security whistleblower: "He didn't exploit the vulnerability, encourage or conspire with others to exploit it. He didn't reveal the vulnerability to an underground hacker organisation. He told the affected people. For this, he went to jail."
Monday, August 18, 2003
Universe is fading away, say astronomers: "Although none of us will be around to see it, our own corner of space could be one of the last as our galaxy will be among the few bright spots left as darkness falls across the universe."
Sunday, August 17, 2003
Attack of the Smartasses: "The only way to compete is to appeal to a niche, whether it's bondage, or fetish, or black, or gay. His niche could be 'interesting' people, but if he doesn't like 'interesting' people ...."
The New Diamond Age - "these stones will bankrupt the industry"
Saturday, August 16, 2003
Twilight Zone Economics: "But while the growth and new claims numbers were good news, they didn't tell us that the economy is improving. All they said is that things are getting worse more slowly."
Friday, August 15, 2003
Unboilable bug points to hotter origin of life: "Magnetites are produced where 'iron-breathing' micro-organisms exist, and they are therefore good evidence of the presence of life."
Wednesday, August 13, 2003
Mount Rainier called a threat: "The bad news is that the window of opportunity is now open. ... The good news is that the window is 500 years long."
Tuesday, August 12, 2003
SCO not exactly the lovable little guy : "Among the many bizarre things about the complaint, though, is that SCO itself used to be a Linux company called Caldera, and as such eagerly distributed free of charge the very same software it now is claiming infringes its copyrights."
Ladies: Guys Like THIS Hairstyle Best: "At least in our study, gentlemen do not prefer blondes.
Quantum logic gate lights up: "Although qubits have been made with trapped photons, atoms and ions, it is generally thought that it should be easier to build working devices with solid-state systems."
Dear Blogger, the new version of your Blog This! tool no longer lets me choose the format of my entries. At your behest I have forsaken my - for the less elegant but perhaps more gramatically appropriate:. This makes me sad.
Monday, August 11, 2003
If You Liked the Web Page, You'll Love the Ad - "This is a very important trend, particularly for Web publishers who've had a hard time selling out their banner ads"
Friday, August 08, 2003
Your home: Worst-case scenario: "And though there's never been a nationwide decline in real estate prices, individual markets have suffered plenty"
Musical roots may lie in human voice: "musical intervals are better predicted by the acoustic quirks of the human vocal tract than by mathematics"
Cold Waters along the Atlantic Coast: "Thermometers in the surf near Nags Head, North Carolina show a temperature of 60 degrees Farenhieit%u2014it%u2019s typically close to 80 at the end of July."
'C' word use shocks IT industry: "How exactly do you make big money on disk storage when it costs less than $1 a gigabyte? Good question, especially if your business model was developed in the halcyon days when a terabyte fetched $1m."
Thursday, August 07, 2003
Recall Gary for Governor!, He's the right leader for these times. Why he's our man.: "Everywhere we went, we found ordinary folks desperate for a People's Candidate, someone who really connected with the voters. (Well, that and people who haven't ever voted, wouldn't think of voting, or cannot vote because they are currently on parole.)"
Wednesday, August 06, 2003
Outsourcing: Make Way for China: "IBM has signed deals to train 100,000 software specialists in various Chinese cities over three years."
Monday, August 04, 2003
Ground-breaking work in understanding of time: "I have only read the first two sections as it is clear that the author's arguments are based on profound ignorance or misunderstanding of basic analysis and calculus. I'm afraid I am unwilling to waste any time reading further, and recommend terminal rejection."
Irrational Physics: No such thing as a moment in time?
Someone's got a new theory: there's no such thing as an instant in time. I like this, intuitively, if there's no such thing as a precise position or a precise velocity, how can you have precise time (in fact the first two might imply the third). Further, if it is correct then I'm guessing you can toss string theory -- you only need it to deal with the conflict between relativity and quantum physics when dealing with relativisitc speeds on the planck scale. But such things don't happen if time isn't precise enough to bring them into conflict.
Sunday, August 03, 2003
The Probability That a Real-Estate Agent Is Cheating You (and Other Riddles of Modern Life): "He represents something that everyone thinks they will be when they go to grad school in econ, but usually they have the creative spark bored out of them by endless math -- namely, a kind of intellectual detective trying to figure stuff out.''