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Archive for June 2007

Daily Kos on London Bombs

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Here’s a very nice article, reflecting exactly my thoughts on the recently foiled car bombs:

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/6/29/11274/0754

Judging from the overreaction to this non-incident I think we can safely conclude that Osama Bin Laden will remain holed up in Pakistan and let the fear mongers at CNN, MSNBC, and FOX do the dirty business of scaring the shit out of people.

Edit:  New comment on theregister:

 http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/06/29/more_fear_biscuits_please/

 … the device could not have detonated. Not under any circumstances. You see, the terrorist wannabe clown who built it left out a crucial element: an oxidiser. The device was pure pre-teen boy fantasy.

Written by jk

June 30, 2007 at 10:06 am

Posted in London, UK

Correlation between Water hardness and council tax in UK

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This afternoon while working hard on my project I made a discovery: On the back of my detergent a map displays the water hardness in the UK. Quickly, I googled up a map of the income tax, visualized as colored island. The data speak for itself.

Council tax:

income.gif

Water hardness:

Written by jk

June 29, 2007 at 8:58 pm

Posted in offtopic, UK

Rules of thumb for detecting spam

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The only ultimate way to get rid of spam is to educate people not to buy spam products. Now, without hard facts, I suppose people who are not technically inclined and/or of the older generation make up the majority of these buyers. I simply can’t imagine that a CS graduate (or any science graduate for that matter) falls for a spam mail.

But what makes us decide that a specific mail is spam? For us younger people, who grew up with the internet, it’s a matter of seconds to make the right decision. For the older generation this decision is not that easy, though. I see it with my parents; they had to ask me already multiple times whether this or that mail is spam.

What follows now is a simple list of questions, which do not need any technical knowledge, which help you decide (with extremely high probability) if a certain mail is spam. Go through this list, everytime you can answer a question with yes the probability that the mail is legitimate decreases by 50%:

  1. Mail sender is someone you don’t know
    It’s unlikely that you get a single, unexpected and important mail from someone you don’t know. If it’s important he/she will send it again.
  2. The mail wants to sell you something
    Real businesses DO NOT just send mails to stranger to advertise their product — and if they do it’s a crappy firm.
  3. Did you win the lottery/money?
    If the mail claims you won the lottery you can be sure it’s fake. There is no lottery which would contact the winner by email. Basically, every mail which is about money is fake.

    Say you passed these three questions but you are still not sure whether it is legitimate or not. Then continue questioning:

  4. Look at the subject
    What does the subject say? Real subjects are short (max 4-5 words), concise, written in one language, and especially make sense. If the subject is only garbage, you can be very sure it’s spam. If the subject is sexually oriented, you can be very sure it’s spam.

    Let’s say you are still not confident enough to delete the mail, continue with these harder criteria:

  5. Look at the sender mail address
    Say the mail claims to be from the firm ABC Inc. Now you have to look at the sender mail address and check whether the sender has an email address of the form <name>@abc.com, for example. If the firm name does not repeat itself in the email address in one or the other way, you can be extremely sure it’s fake. Any mail pretending to be from a firm but sent from a yahoo, gmail, gmx, lycosmail, etc. is very unlikely to be a good mail.
  6. Look at the body of the mail
    Is the body (the main text) well formated? Does it look like a normal letter or is it wild, unorganised or has partly text in different languages or plain garbage? If it does not look and read like a normal letter, it’s spam.
  7. Lookup the sender / firm on google
    You made it down to here and still didn’t delete your mail yet, then the mail has to contain at least a firm name and a contact person. Now go to google.com and enter the firm name in the search field and look at the results. Click on the links from google to visit their website (DO NOT click on the links in the mail itself, always go via google). If you can’t find their website (e.g. ABC.com as stated in the mail) or the website sells strange things then it’s spam. Do the same procedure with your contact person.

If you follow this list for every mail you are unsure of then you can be confident that you won’t become prey of spammers. I can positively say that not a single spam mail slipped past these 7 steps in the last (and first 🙂 ) 10 years of my time spent with the internet.

Written by jk

June 27, 2007 at 6:35 pm

Posted in offtopic

Surprise Surprise

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I passed my MSc exams 😉

Written by jk

June 27, 2007 at 3:27 pm

Posted in QMUL

Flirt with a 999 operator

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Reading the following column reminded me of a story I heard from a friend.

Now to the story where this trick could have been handy 🙂

Some months ago a friend got kocked out on the street while some teenagers robbed his girlfriend (they took her purse). He ran after them (very bad idea) and they (only) hit him in the face – he was knocked out, unconscious.

His girlfriend then called 999 (police) and explained the situation. The following is the transcript of the punchline:

operator: “has anyone been stabbed?”

she: “ehrm..no”

operator: “has anyone been shot?”

she: “no! But my friend is lying on the floor unconsciously.”

operator: “ok, in this case you have to wait 1.5h until we arrive at the scene. We can’t do anything for you now.”

Written by jk

June 26, 2007 at 10:26 am

Posted in London, UK

Mission Impossible: Opening a bank account

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Seit gut einem Monat versuche ich einen Bankaccount hier zu eröffnen. Das tönt einfach, ist jedoch als Ausländer erstaunlich umständlich. Bei zwei Banken habe ich mein Glück versucht:

NatWest: Leider kann ich hier keinen normalen Account eröffnen, da ich noch nicht 3 Jahre in der UK lebe. Somit habe ich nach langem hin und her die einfachste Möglichkeit gewählt — jetzt besitze ich eine Solo Karte. Das ist jene Karte welchen Ex-Häftlingen und 11-Jährigen angeboten wird. Damit werde ich bestimmt nicht in einem Laden bezahlen!

Barclays: Mit Barclays ist die ganze Sache ausgeartet. Da ich nicht denselben Fehler nochmals machne wollte (eine Solo Karte zu erhalten) habe ich extra das “International graduates” Programm ausgewählt. Um dieses Konto jedoch zu aktivieren muss man einen ziemlich grossen Betrag auf dieses Konto überweisen. Als Beispiel sagen wir mal 1000 Pfund (es sind jedoch mehr als das). Dass ich weiss auf welches Konto ich das Geld überweisen muss, wurde mir meine neue Account Nummer auf einem Blattpapier (sprich Fötzel) aufgeschrieben! Hier das Bild:

67.jpg

Ich habe nirgens eine Bestätigung erhalten, dass das wirklich mein Konto ist — ich soll einfach die 1000 Pfund darauf überweisen, danach werde mein Konto aktiviert und ich erhalte ich meine Karte.

Um die Sache kurz zu machen, 2 Wochen nach der Ueberweisung habe ich noch keine Karte erhalten. Ich rufe der Hotline an und erkläre die Situation. Die Dame erzählte mir, dass die 1000 Pfund eingegangen sind, jedoch mussten sie auf Grund der Internationalen Ueberweisung 6 Pfund abziehen und somit sind es keine 1000 Pfund mehr und das Konto sei inaktiv ……

Written by jk

June 24, 2007 at 4:49 pm

Posted in London, UK

Firstborn get the brains

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A new study (reports in forbes and nyt) carried out on male brothers came to the conclusion that “The eldest children in families tend to develop higher I.Q.’s than their siblings

hmm … shit.

Written by jk

June 22, 2007 at 7:21 pm

Posted in offtopic