Email Spam

Email spam, as everyone knows, has gotten completely out of hand. I use a system called DSPAM which works amazingly well. However, today I decided to upgrade to the latest version. The configuration on the program is a royal nightmare. I wanted to remove the hacks I put in place for retraining false positives as they’re hard to maintain each time I upgrade. This turned out to be a loser proposition. After several hours trying to find hints on the net and reconfiguring, I finally gave up and put my hacks back in. (Basically the web CGI for re-training doesn’t seem to work right and puts the mail into a blackhole instead of delivering it.) If anyone knows an easy way to install DSPAM on Linux with sendmail, please let me know. However, I want to invoke it with procmail and not directly from sendmail as I want the ability to have certain filters act on mail before DSPAM gets it; DSPAM wants to classify certain senders as spam even though I know they’re not.)

Update on Sirius radio

After discussing my complaint about Sirius radio with someone else today, I realized that while my complaint is still valid, overcoming it is extremely hard. Sirius is a one way broadcast and there is no way for the receiver to tell the broadcast that it missed some day. However, there still must be a way to handle this without all the dropouts.

Server Downtime this morning

My server was offline for a few hours this morning due to no fault of my own. My cable provider had some network issues that finally got resolved by around 8 am. I called them (Time Warner Cable) around 6:15 am when I woke up and discovered the issue. When I spoke to the help desk, the tech (national help desk) was pretty useless. He ran the standard diagnostics, but luckily didn’t ask me to reboot my computer as I know that would have been a waste of time. I specifically asked if their were network problems and he said he didn’t know of any. I received a call around 10:15 am from a tech in the local office and he said that they resolved the problem around 9:45 am. I appreciate getting calls back from them when I have issues, however, when I call and speak to the national help desk, they’re not always helpful. Overall, I’m pleased with Time Warner as a provider…they just need to give their techs updates on network issues.

User Interface

Yesterday I had the privilege (or was it?) of having Missing Sync for Palm OS reviewed by a user interface guru at Apple. He had some good ideas on how we can improve the user interface that I think will be quite beneficial to the product. It is quite intimidating having the product I’ve been working on for more than a year and a half critiqued and ripped apart. After thinking about some of the things said, I have to respectfully disagree with some of the comments made as there isn’t one type of user interface for all applications and even Apple’s own applications seem to contradict many of the things the guru said.

I really appreciated the time that was spent reviewing the app; however, it was only slightly more enjoyable than going to the dentist.

Misinformation in TV Shows

My wife and I are fans of CSI (Las Vegas), but the summer has re-runs, so we’ve being using our TiVo to record CSI:NY and CSI:Miami which can no way compare to the original one. Most people don’t watch the shows thinking that everything they say is factually correct which is good, because there is so much stuff in the shows that almost make you laugh. In last night’s episode of CSI:Miami, they were looking at an LED (Light Emitting Diode) and the tech said that they’re used in TVs. I’m not sure about you, but I’ve never seen a TV consisting of LEDs. If a TV was made up of LEDs, it would be like a LightBrite which would be kind of funny to watch for a few minutes. Nice try, CSI, but you might want to check your facts.

The president should stick to written speeches

It seems that every time the president of the United States, George W. Bush, opens his mouth and says something that isn’t written in his speech, he fumbles. I was watching “Most Outrageous TV Moments” last night and couldn’t help, but laugh at this clip of the president. Did this country really elect him President? Twice?

Apple’s Transition to Intel

In June, Apple announced the move to Intel processors with Steve Jobs saying on stage that the transition would be relatively easy for most developers. While this is true for simple applications and applications that have been cross platform for ages, it is not true for what I develop. I took a simple program, TimeRecord, and had it running natively on Intel in about 10 minutes. Not bad, but the application doesn’t have hooks into any other program, doesn’t connect to websites, doesn’t transfer data, nor take advantage of any cool features.

The main program I work on these days is Missing Sync for Palm OS and one of my tasks is to figure out how to move it to Intel. I came up with a brilliant (if I do say so myself) whitepaper on the transition. Implementing what I wrote, however, is going to be quite difficult as endian issues had never been taken into account and a requirement is that old, CFM conduits are supported. Apple’s current strategy doesn’t permit us to transition to an Intel native binary and support CFM conduits. So, we’re going to have to come up with some ingenious way to tackle this. One way, outlined in the way paper, may not work. So it could be back to the drawing board.

Missing Sync for Palm OS has upwards of 50 separate components that get compiled and will have to be tested on Intel. This will be no easy task. I’m always up for a challenge, but this one gives me a headache.

Sirius Radio

My wife received a Sirius Sportster R from her parents for her birthday. While I’m not a huge fan of paying for radio or having another monthly recurring charge, it’s nice to see her being able to listen to what she wants without flipping the station all the time. I’m a bit disappointed with the technology, however. Whenever we go under a bridge or are near some overshadowing trees, it cuts out for a few seconds. Some probably say that this can be expected; however, I just took possession of a Slim Devices Squeezebox 2 for our home audio system and as I was playing with it, I turned off the server and found that it kept playing for about 2 minutes. So, I think that Sirius should have about a 2 minute delay and buffer 2 minutes of audio on the receiving end. This would allow the slight blips to be handled without skipping a beat. Seems simple enough, but someone who designed or implemented the digital system forgot about this (or thought it would cost too much).

Home Audio System

I decided a few months ago to get a whole house audio system so that we can listen to music throughout the house. I decided on the components I wanted and found a local dealer. I picked the Russound CA6.4i 6 zone system and found out that the warranty is void if the product isn’t purchased through a local dealer, Music and Movies by Mastercraft. So far, I’ve been quite happy with the dealer as being honest and straightforward about what I needed and what fit in my budget range. I’m waiting on the speakers and will have wires pulled by our contractor’s (my wife’s friend’s husband) cousin before I can actually use the system. The speakers are backordered and should arrive in a few weeks.

Russound will only sell through authorized dealers and won’t allow them to sell retail, mail order, or online sellers. This seems like a crock as technically savvy people like me can figure out how to get things working. Luckily my local dealer gave me a discount for just buying the equipment and basically agreeing not to contact them to configure it. That’s fine with me as I did most of the system design (I added a few sub zones and an extra volume control on a separate set of speakers). To make matters worse, two of the components I ordered require 24 volt DC power supplies; if I want the warranty, I have to buy the power supplies from my Russound dealer; the power supplies are about $150 each! A power supply can’t be more than a $35 part and the component doesn’t work without it.

I’ll post some pictures of all the components later; I got Cat 5 jacks for the control, gang boxes, power strips, and lots of other pieces. My office is a mess as I keep putting all the pieces in there to see what this not so cheap system contains.