Archive for the Nerdy Stuff category
September 13th, 2010
So the other day I got an email from some guy I don’t know asking me to contact this lawyer to help him out with some IT issues he’s been having. I looked up the lawyer, and he’s located in Nevada somewhere, so I was a bit confused as to how he got my info and why he was contacting me in the first place.
The original email was addressed to me by name, and I actually do some IT support for people from time to time, so I didn’t think it was some sort of spam or scam. But it was odd. So after a few emails back and forth, he realized he made a mistake:
My apologies!! Wrong spelling of Mader….
Strangely enough, there’s a guy named Rob Mader who also is an IT guy. Except he’s in Nevada. After a bit of googling, I found his website, www.irobmader.com.
What a weird and confusing coincidence.
July 23rd, 2009
Up until a few months ago, I was running SquirrelMail on my own server to handle all of my email. I have been using SquirrelMail since way back in 2004, and I always liked the simple interface. Over time, the spam situation got worse and worse, and I got fed up trying to get Spam Assassin or any other filtering software to help decrease the amount of spam that was getting to my inbox. It got so bad that I was routinely getting hundreds of spam and especially backscatter messages coming to my inbox every day. My email basically became unusable because of this.
Eventually, I realized there was no point trying to play server administrator, because the hassles just weren’t worth my time. So back in April, I moved my email hosting to Google Apps. It’s free for personal use, and was fairly easy to get set up. Now all of my robmaeder.com email goes through Google’s servers, which do an incredible job of spam filtering. All my email is read through GMail, which is so much better and easier to use than any other web-based mail software I’ve tried.
Since making the switch, I can recall only seeing 3 or 4 spam messages actually reach my inbox. My spam folder currently has 27,931 emails in it from the past 30 days. That’s getting close to 1000 spams per day. I highly recommend Google Apps for this sort of thing. It’s way easier than rolling your own, and you don’t have to worry about updating software regularly, since it’s all taken care of for you. Thanks to Google, my email is now usable again.
September 10th, 2008
Large Hadron Collider
I’ve been hearing a lot about the Large Hadron Collider
lately, not entirely knowing what it is or what it’s supposed to do. I did a little research last night and learned quite a bit about this giant crazy science project.
The LHC is a particle accelerator that shoots beams of protons at each other at nearly the speed of light so they collide and explode into little subatomic particles like quarks and gluons. It doesn’t make a lot of sense unless you’re a physicist, but the thing’s incredible, nonetheless.
Basically, it’s a giant 27km long circular tunnel buried 100 metres underground, occupying parts of both France and Switzerland. There’s a bunch of pipes, huge superconducting magnets, giant sensors to detect the presence of dark matter and other crazy shit, and it’s all cooled by 96 tonnes of liquid helium to reach a temperature of -271 degrees Celsius, which is just two degrees above absolute zero.
The 27km long circular tunnel was created in the early 80′s, and the LHC construction began in 1996. To date, the project has cost about $6 billion! It’s a joint effort, with thousands of physicists, engineers and technicians from over 80 countries taking part in the construction, operation and analysis of the LHC.
Scientists hope the LHC will answer a lot of questions relating to matter, antimatter, gravity, extra dimensions and all kinds of stuff that sounds like it came out of a Star Trek episode. This has been a long time coming, and now that I know a bit more about it, I’m pretty excited. The LHC is the biggest scientific achievement of our time, just like the moon landing of my parents’ generation.
Here’s a few more quick facts about the LHC:
- at full power, the LHC will use about $100,000 worth of electricity per day
- the LHC will generate enough data to fill a CD every second
- protons will make 11,000 laps around the 27km tunnel every second
- each proton will cross the France/Switzerland border 44,000 times per second
August 1st, 2008
It’s time for me to jump on the Cuil-bashing bandwagon. I first heard about the search engine after reading the Toronto Star Tuesday morning. When I got to work, several non-technical people were asking me about it, so it obviously got some serious hype in a short time.
At first, I was like, WTF is this? How do you pronounce it? “Quill”? “kwee-uhl”? Is it French? Maybe “soo-ill”? I never would have guessed “cool”. I’m no branding expert, but right off the bat, the name just doesn’t seem like something that will catch on easily.
Functionally, the site hasn’t had very positive reviews. They claim to index more pages than Google – over 120 billion. However, looking up very simple words often brought no results, and as of two days ago, searching for “Cuil” returned no results related to the site itself, either. If they can’t find themselves in their own search engine, who’s going to trust them for anything?
A search for "Cuil" returns nothing related to itself
In a timely fashion, the guys at Google’s blog had a post last Friday mentioning they’ve indexed 1 trillion unique URLs on the web. Take that Cuil, with your measly 120 billion…
It makes me mad to see some ex-Google employees drum up 33 million dollars over a bunch of hype. I hope the investors lose their money. They deserve it.
June 5th, 2008
Last week I went to log into my robmaeder.com webmail account, and I was greeted with a little message saying “Hosting for this domain has been suspended”. Perplexed, I checked some of the other domains I host, and they were all working fine. I contacted my hosting provider, and I was informed my account had been compromised and a bunch of shit was being uploaded to my webspace.
After digging around, I realized I was using a pretty old version of WordPress, and it contained some security holes that were exploited by someone who thought they could use robmaeder.com for their nefarious purposes.
The entire domain was locked down to prevent any further problems, and I spent a good hour or two cleaning up the mess that was left behind. Lucky for me, nothing was deleted, but a bunch of weird files and scripts were uploaded all over the place. Once that was all fixed, I upgraded to the latest version of WordPress, and also installed the Automatic Upgrade Plugin to make future upgrades easier.
Once WordPress was upgraded to the latest stable version, I noticed the theme I was using was broken, since there were some major changes made to the software. That’s why I’ve got this spiffy new layout here now.
I learned an important lesson: keep your blog software up-to-date. WordPress is open source, so it’s always being updated and fixed up. But there’s also new exploits and security issues being found all the time, so it’s important to get the latest versions, which will fix bugs and patch up the security holes.