Freedom Summer: Against The Hyperregulation Of Everyday Life

I do find most self proclaimed libertarians to be little more than self interested, [W:cherry picking], bigots (it’s what you do rather than what badge you wear that counts) whose inane ranting only distract from issues which need serious discussion but the Manifesto Club (which evolved out of the Revolutionary Communist Party) do seem to mostly avoid the silliness and tackle the serious stuff with style and wit. Their Freedom Summer should be worth keeping an eye and/or ear on.

Play time

A few days off from work presents one with the exciting prospects of doing absolutely nothing. Of course actually doing nothing would be a far too difficult, bordering on the impossible, task. It may appear to others that what you are doing is nothing although you are fully engaged in some activity that, seemingly, has neither purpose nor produces anything worthwhile. The description by [W:R Crumb] of his working patterns strikes me as being pretty good template…

“It’s necessary to “waste” a certain amount of energy in order to allow new ideas to emerge from the random spinning off of doodles, scribbles, worthless foolishness, playful notions, silliness, aimless meandering, wandering down dead-end streets, a few of which may turn out not to be dead-ends. As I say, this is necessary activity… It’s not healthy to always be devoted to a specific direction, a certain idea… The mind becomes rigid, stifled… Sooner or later it’s necessary to break out, to goof off… This isn’t to say that during these relaxed periods you should allow yourself to be passively robbed of your energy [by others] such as TV, books, etc… Part of the time, at least, must be devoted to randomly wandering about in a creative way which may possibly lead to new discoveries within yourself!
It’s difficult to explain… forget it…”

There is a splendid talk by Stuart Brown from a recent TED conference about the importance of play…

So that will be me for the next few days… just pottering about doing a whole lot of “nothing”.

Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted. – [W:John Lennon] (attributed)

Revolution video & WordPress 2.7.1 upgrade fixes

While exploring Runtime Revolution I was unable to view the tutorial videos. I had the audio content but a blank green screen replaced the video content. It turns out the problem is solved by disabling the Perian plugin for Quicktime.

I also was unable to do the WordPress automatic update thingy. This one was solved by disabling the WordPress Automatic Upgrade plugin which was conflicting with the automatic updating process :-/

I just mention these in case you are looking for a solution to similar problems.

Namesco and the strange case of the missing FTP

I used to have a broadband connection with Namesco but their amazing (lack of) customer service put an end to that. They managed to break it twice within six months. The nice man on the telephone assured me that they would “As a goodwill gesture…” not charge me for correcting their cock ups. I hung up.

This site is hosted by them. I have just renewed, after seriously contemplating moving it elsewhere, the hosting package. Yesterday things stopped working. There was no warning. There was no notification of what was going on. Having been a customer for some time I have become use to their somewhat cavalier attitude to customer service. So I rummaged around on their website and found this…

14 Jan 09

13:54:22

FTP Password updates

As one of the UK’s leading web services providers, we pride ourselves on offering the highest levels of security and protection.

As you may be aware, the number of attempted security attacks in the UK has recently been on the rise, and yesterday we detected a higher than usual number of attempts to break into websites hosted on our network. Our systems remained unaffected as we invest heavily in the security of our infrastructure.

However, as a precautionary measure we immediately disabled a segment of our customers’ FTP passwords. Furthermore, we have changed one of the rules for password length from being 6 characters to 8 characters. To reactivate your FTP access you will need to login to your Online Control Panel and create a new FTP password.

“Our systems remained unaffected”… but we are going to disable your [W:FTP] service and delete your password but not bother to tell you what we are doing.

Thanks!

Amazingly their billing department can send out reminders that they want you to give them your money months before the actual due date, and they will keep on sending them until you pay up. They even have warnings appear on their Control Panel when you log in…

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…but they are unable to find any means to notify you when they disable your account.

Fortunately they do have a Tell The Boss page. Fortunately there are other hosting companies….

The Amazing Bouncing Spam

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At 6:30 on Thursday (17/04/08) evening about 10 bounced spam emails arrived – someone having used my domain to send their spam. I had had a flurry of similar activity last year but that soon dried up. Over the next couple of days the number would edge towards 4500. On Friday 200 an hour were arriving.

Alarmingly some were “Out Of Office” auto-responses. I assume if anyone actually replied to the thing it would come back to me but replying to spam is never a good idea.

Several used some form of filtering service like Sendo or MailMarshal.

Most had the body of the message removed but from the few that had it intact it was apparently a link to bonmerfiket.net or Legal RX Medications as they like to be known. They have a splendid Anti Spam policy but you would not want to type your details into their form nor enter any financial details into their online order form – even though they claim years of experience, which is really impressive, but probably not too many customers in their early days.

Samuel Stimms seems to be somewhat elusive but if he actually existed he is probably related to Alex Polyakov who is usually high on the Spamhaus most wanted list.

If only everybody used a Mac we could be spared such things 😉