Wednesday, November 30, 2005

How to ID Spammers

People are asking how I ID'ed the spammer in a previous comment. It works like this: when a person registers a domain he or she has to provide contact information. That information is publicly available and can be accessed through what's called a WHOIS lookup. When you go to a website that offers a WHOIS service you simply type in the domain name and it can tell you who registered it. Now, many websites that offer a WHOIS lookup don't give you the registrant's contact info anymore. Here's one that does. Note that sometimes registrants lie or make up contact info, or they've started using business addresses instead of personal ones. But when you do get the individual's address, then that's a bonus! When someone spams your blog, look at the domain they're trying to lure people to and do a WHOIS on that domain name. If you get their home address or email, then you can Google the email address and see if they've been posting on forums... you can get all kinds of personal info. Using the address you can get their property tax info from their appraisal district. You can probably do even more, like if they're a registered voter, but I think that was enough to make my point. In fact, the spammer I exposed a few days ago appears to have changed the WHOIS contact info to a business address. I can only hope I instigated the change. Heh.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Crime rate stats & lies

According to the news, over the Thanksgiving weekend there were eleven homicides in Houston. Instead of raising salaries for Congressmen and redrawing voting districts, it would be nice to see our elected officials spend that money on increased police forces and plans to turn things around before we end up like New Orleans. Or is it too late? Someone sent me this; I include my own observations, because the numbers are either misleading or wrong:

There have been an average of 160,000 troops in Iraq during the last 22 months, which has a firearm death rate of 60 per 100,000. That's disregarding the Iraqi victims--in from May through July this year, there have been reported 1,169 shootings deaths in Baghdad; and reports of more than 70 shootings a day.

The rate in Washington D.C. is 80.6 per 100,000. Actually, according to the Washington Post, D.C. posted a homicide rate in 2004 of 35 per 100,000 residents. Baltimore and Detroit had higher rates -- 43 in Baltimore, 41 in Detroit, according to preliminary statistics. By comparison, Boston, which is about the same size as D.C., had a rate of about 10 homicides per 100,000 residents.

That means that you are 25% more likely to be shot and killed in our Nation's Capitol, which has some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation, than you are in Iraq. No; American soldiers are still twice as likely to be shot in Iraq as a citizen is in our nation's capitol.

Conclusion: We should immediately pull out of Washington, D.C. That's just stupid, but it's true that we should do more to combat crime.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Harry Potter 4--disappointing

Saturday evening I saw the new Harry Potter movie with Nora. As usual, good special effects, engaging action, etc. But the ending was so weak! I'm not spoiling anything by telling you that someone is sneaking around and plotting against Harry (no surprise there). And when he or she is exposed at the end and gives the Scooby speech ("Yes, I did it! And I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for you meddling kids!"), look at what that person was trying to do, and at the Rube Goldberg strategy that person put in place to do it, and ask youself if any of it makes any sense. It doesn't. If that was the plan all along there were easier means, right? Sigh.

Those blue uniforms were cute in a drill-team kind of way.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

New Laptop

First, the wireless card went out. Then after a while, the CPU fan sputtered and died. I know this because the laptop suddenly got awfully quiet. So I ran a diagnostic test and here's what I found:

Yikes! For the processor I had, 65 degrees celsius is knocking at the meltdown stage. I checked into replacing the fan and was quoted minimum prices of $250 just to mail it off to the factory. For two weeks. I found one local guy who said he could look at it but it would cost $300 just to open the case and he wouldn't guarantee me any results. I imagined my machine bluescreening during an exam as the processor fried. Grr. So I went to Best Buy, whipped out a credit card... well, you can guess the rest.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

SpiderMan 3

A couple of days ago they officially announced the new villain for Spider-Man 3. As the rumors indicated, Thomas Hayden Church will play the Sandman. He looks pretty good--but we'll have to wait until May 2007 to see how it all turns out. I wasn't so excited about Doctor Octopus but that turned out well. Something about that shirt makes me want to sing the "Blues Clues" song, though....