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Blog Archives for November 2006

In Soviet Russia, MP3 downloads YOU

Wednesday, November 29th, 2006 - Comments (0) in Life, Music, Nerd Stuff

I read an interesting article this morning saying that Russia agreed to the US's RIAA's request to shut down AllofMP3.com. This is very unpleasant news. AOMP3 is a Russian operated website where you can purchase music. The big deal is that the music costs typically less than 1/10 of other popular online music stores (iTunes). AOMP3 has a pricing model based on bandwidth rather than just a flat (outrageous) fee per song. This means an 8 minute song costs more than a 2 minute song, and the higher the quality (the bigger the file size), the more money it costs. They also had a very wide selection of music available. I wrote a spiel about AOMP3 a few months ago: http://joereid.com/2006/04/28/buying_music_online

I had about $12 left on my AOMP3 account when I read this story this morning, and I quickly used as much of it as I could while the site is still up. Since Russia agreed to this horseshit, it'll probably take a few days for them to get to the operators of the site to take it down. I'd rather have a balance of as close to $0 as possible when the site does go dark.

I wonder if the RIAA really thinks their sales will go up by forcing this site offline. Like people will suddenly go, "OH, AllofMp3 is down, I guess I better drive to the store and buy the CD I was going to download!" Not a chance in hell. If anything it's going to force people to go the P2P route again and not pay anything for the music. I still can't believe a company (or group of) can bully, extort, threaten and sue its customers and stay in business. That isn't a great business strategy. You can read about their previous antics on slashdot.

There is also some good info on this blog: http://recordingindustryvspeople.blogspot.com/. It's maintained by a couple of lawyers who've defended a bunch of people in RIAA suits.

Zombies Beware!

Monday, November 27th, 2006 - Comments (2) in Life
Zombie Zombie Master
(81% survivability and 54% kickass-ability!)

It's comforting to know that should there be an outbreak of zombies in the future, whether it's the result of nuclear radiation, the Umbrella Corporation releasing the T-virus or a Sumatran Rat-Monkey running amuck, I'll be able to handle the situation. This is all assuming The Non-lame Zombie Survival Test is accurate.

Fortune for You!

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006 - Comments (1) in Life

We ate at Aja Noodle tonight because we had no food in the house and had no desire to go anywhere near Wegmans the day before Thanksgiving. Rachelle got an amusing fortune in her cookie:

"You are the crispy noodle in the vegetarian salad of life."

Start Over

Tuesday, November 21st, 2006 - Comments (5) in Life

I have TWC's digital cable at home and recently when changing the channel I've noticed a little popup that says "hit select to start over". I assumed it was some DVR-related functionality, and they are putting it on for all their digital cable subscribers to entice the non-DVR customers to get DVR service. I was wrong; I just saw a commercial advertising this new feature. Apparently this is not a DVR function, but works with all digital cable set-top boxes. If you change to a channel that supports it, you can "start over" and have the show start playing from the beginning again. Basically it's like they added on-demand functionality to most channels.

Time Warner Cable is definitely more expensive than I'd like it to be (especially since I have their All the Best plan), but I have to admit they do push out some cool feature (Caller ID on TV) and I can't remember the last time there was an outage with any of their services.

Fight Spam with a Fake MX

Wednesday, November 15th, 2006 - Comments (3) in Computers, Email, Nerd Stuff, Work

I just can't seem to get ahead of the spammers. I'm constantly looking for new techniques and little tricks to catch up to them. I usually do for a little while, but as time goes on they keep pulling ahead.

For those of you who don't know how email actually works, here's the quick and dirty version. Say you want to email user@example.com, you compose you message and hit "send" in your email client. Your client will connect to your email server (most likely your ISP's server) and send the message there. Once that server has the message it looks up the MX record for example.com. An MX record simply tells you what server(s) handle mail for the domain. You can (and really should) have more than 1 MX record with different weights. The server will then connect to the server with the lowest weight and pass the message along. From there it might get passed along (relayed) a few more times internally before it lands in your mailbox, but that's just about it. If the lowest weight MX doesn't answer (is down or busy) the sending server should then try an MX with the next higher weight and so on until the message is delivered or returned.

This whole idea of using the lowest weighted MX first and then moving up is set by the RFC (standards) for the Simple Mail Transport Protocol. Spammers don't use standards; in fact they usually do the complete opposite.

Yesterday I was reading about a trick that I haven't yet heard of, the idea of a fake MX. Basically you just add an additional MX record for your domain with a really high weight. All legit email servers should use the lower weight servers to deliver mail, and never touch this fake MX. Spammers on the other hand will sometimes use the highest weighted MX record first on purpose because they are usually just backup mail servers with less spam filtering. Then you simply set the mail server on the fake MX to tempfail all incoming mail. This basically means the server will reply with a "I'm busy, try again later" message and reject the email. Again according to the standards, legit email server will try again later and continue to for a number of days before returning mail as undeliverable. Spammers don't retry, at least most don't. They are all about sending as much spam as fast as possible. If they get tempfailed they usually just move on and don't come back.

I thought that was a pretty good idea. I haven't set this up yet, I'm trying to figure out a way of testing it to get some numbers without actually rejecting email, at least until I'm sure it's actually working.

I'm a Little Cyan Today

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006 - Comments (2) in Computers, Life, Work

The color laser printer in the Art lab has been proclaiming its lack of blue toner for a while now. It usually just flashes a warning that says "Order C Toner" when you're running low but not out, so you have a chance to get more before. An old trick to get more out of your toner cartridges is to take them out, shake them up and put them back in the printer. I guess one of the art teachers tried doing this, but in the process of taking the cartridge and drum out she flipped the lever to release the cartridge from the drum. Yeah that equals toner all over the place. She failed to mention this to me until later. So since all the remaining toner spilled on the floor, the cartridge was completely empty when I checked the printer this morning. I put a new cartridge on, and noticed a little loose toner on the outside of the drum. Thinking it was only a little bit, I tried blowing it off over the garbage can. It was significantly more than a little (because of the spillage) and my little blow produced a cyan colored cloud of death. I looked like the newest member of the blue man group when the dust settled. I'm exaggerating a little, but it was a good thing I had on jeans and a blue shirt today. Later in the day I blew my nose and found some cyan boogs in the tissue.