More Junkmail from Bob!
Sunday, May 05, 2002
Get with the Plan!
U.S. Homeland Security Director Thomas J. Ridge came out with some color-coded security alerts a few weeks ago. We are now on yellow alert. This means there is a "significant" risk of terrorist attack. That's 3 on a 5 point scale. We've been on yellow since they invented the color coded terrorist alerts.
At first I thought this alert level stuff might be something simplified enough to make CNN headline news, and in the process simplified into something pretty meaningless. Then if Governor Ridge needed some press, he could just change the terrorist alert status. Then I remembered hearing on the radio that "things are different now" and "our lives will never be the same." Governor Ridge couldn't be building a political empire. Things are different now.
I admit, I haven't really been getting with the program. My life is pretty much the same for me today as it was a year ago and two years ago, except computers are getting a lot faster. But I'm willing to give it a shot. After all, I'm at "significant risk", halfway up the scale.
First, though, I have to figure out what this yellow alert thing really means. In Tennessee, it could mean a boar attack
. Governor Ridge was asked to clarify this. After some minutes of dignified rambling, he went on to mention that everybody in the U.S. needs a plan, no matter what the risk.
So here I am, sitting in Pryor, Oklahoma, a place that most likely no terrorist has ever heard of, let alone plans to attack. But I need a plan. As you might guess, I've been a little negative about this terrorist risk business. But being the open-minded, uncynical individual that I am, I'm going to develop a plan.
The first thing I need is a theme song. Something along the lines of "Duck and Cover" from the 1950's:
This song undoubtedly would have saved untold billions of lives had "the bomb" actually dropped. Maybe I'll just use the same song -- it's kind of catchy. I wonder if the music video is still around.
Next, I need to get ahold of some stinger missiles. I figure if the terrorists come all the way to Oklahoma, they'll probably be in Beech Bonanzas. Or a Ryder truck. If I see a suspicious looking Bonanza flying around, I could send up a couple of stingers just in case. I realize the government occasionally outlaws general aviation here and there. I also realize that even in Oklahoma there are F16's prowling the skies in search of errant Bonanzas. But you just can't be too careful. Things are different now.
And like Paul Revere, I'll have a plan whether they come by land or by sea. I'm going to have to pick up some land mines and torpedoes. I wonder if Walmart carries those yet. I expect I'll be sinking some barges on the river if it looks like they're carrying terrorists. Land mines will be in order for all likely terrorist thoroughfares, such as Elliott street and 9th street. Yes, it might be a little inconvenient for us to drive around (or through) the minefields, but things are different now.
If there's really a "significant" risk of terrorist attack here in Pryor, Oklahoma (and who am I to doubt the director of U.S. Homeland Security?), then I've got a lot of work to do.
My middle kid Steven and his friend Daniel have the right idea -- rockets on a Dodge Neon.
No suicide bomber in his right mind would go for that car.
Paris, 75 Years Later.
Erik Lindbergh, grandson of Charles, flew a Lancair non-stop from New York to Paris last week, close to the same route that Charles Lindbergh flew 75 years earlier.
He was promoting the X Prize, in addition to celebrating the 75th anniversary of his grandfather's flight. The X-Prize is a $5,000,000 prize for the first privately funded space travel. Maybe I could use the Neon...
Here's an interesting story about new internet ads, and how they're intrusive. It's kind of funny that when I went to this site, "Popup Stopper" beeped at me, which means the abcnews site tried to stick me with a popup advertisement.
There are a couple of ways to slow down the "active" internet ads. First, use Popup Stopper or a similar program to stop popup windows from appearing.
Second, you can get rid of Macromedia Flash to stop the animations that fly around on top of the screen before you get to the web site you're trying to see. Internet Explorer has some options to turn off animations and stuff, but they options don't work too well. I use IE 5.0 and 5.5, and both of those completely ignore the animation options as near as I can tell.
Opera, an alternative to Internet Explorer, has options to disable popup windows and animation, and these options really work. Unfortunately, a few web sites don't work right under Opera.
Web sites keep getting bigger and bigger, and a lot of that is ad images. Large companies are often the guilty parties, frequently having web sites 200K to 500K in size. That takes a LONG time to load using a modem, but those ad execs don't seem to realize that. I would guess that most of their dial-up customers exit the page before it loads.
Over the past week or so, I've gotten dozens of copies of the Klez email virus. Even my mom was nice enough to send me a copy this morning.
Klez is interesting. After it infects your computer, it grabs a random email address from your address book and puts that address in the "From" field of the email that it sends to another random person in your address book. That way it looks like the virus you sent was from someone besides you.
If you get a strange email with no body and a couple of attachments, it may be the Klez virus. You can see who it really came from by looking at the email header. In Outlook, for example, bring up the message and press Alt-V then P. The real return address is at the top of the header. It will be different from the address in the "From" field of the email. Don't open the.exe attachment or bad things might happen to your computer.
You can keep from getting the Klez virus using Norton Antivirus or something similar. (I don't use Mcafee anymore because they made it too big and cumbersome to suit me. They want to own my computer.) If you use Outlook as opposed to Outlook Express and if you have the latest security patches installed, the Klez virus won't work.
If you get the Klez virus, you can get it off your computer by running the Symantec Klez removal tool:
Klez won't let you install Norton Antivirus after Klez has infected your computer. You have to use the removal tool.
Last Junkmail I had a couple of pictures of some oil rigs. I have been corrected by a couple of people. The picture I said was an oil rig under construction was really a complete jackup rig, manufactured by Marathon Le Tourneau. Those rigs are fully constructed (less some final touch-up work) before being towed to the offshore site. You can see the derrick behind the third pier in this picture.
I thought this one was a completed oil rig, but it's a production platform. It collects oil from already-drilled wells and sends it off, probably through an undersea pipeline. The flare is for unwanted natural gas.
The submarines from last time are the Daniel Webster and the Sam Rayburn, decommissioned ballistic missile subs now used for training.
Here's an interesting collection of "famous" software bugs. I haven't checked it out, but I think most of this is correct.
Last Tuesday a couple of people in Penrith, Australia decided to steal some money from an ATM. Knowing that ATM's are kind of hard to break into, they got smart and took the entire ATM. The ATM was a little heavy for two people to carry, so they chained the ATM to an 11-ton truck they stole just for such an occasion, and went driving off.
Being very intelligent thieves, they realized they should put some distance between themselves and the scene of the crime. Using up most of their intelligence on that point, they neglected to realize that an 11-ton truck dragging an ATM along the street makes quite a bit of noise and attracts a certain amount of attention.
They also neglected to realize if you drag an ATM down the road for a few miles, the friction makes it really hot. In this case, it was hot enough burn up all the money inside.
"Anyone who saw the truck, a white 11 tonner with blue stripes, has been urged to contact police."
Plane spotting is a hobby for some people in Britain and elsewhere. They go around to airports, military and otherwise, to photograph and log plane sightings. It's a little like bird watching.
There's even a group called "Touchdown Tours" that organizes plane-spotting trips.
In November 2000, the group went to Greece and visited 18 military bases and logged about 700 planes in 5 days.
In November 2001, a similar touchdown tours group of 14 people got an invitation to visit some Greek military airbases. They were arrested for spying and spent 37 days in jail.
People generally expected them to be released after a certain amount of face-saving criticism by the arresting officials. But instead it went to trial.
People then generally expected them to be charged with something minor and sent home, but instead 8 of the 14 were charged with Espionage and sentenced to three years in prison. They are currently free on appeal.
I don't think I'll be doing any bird watching in Greece, let alone plane spotting.
There's a new pyramid in Egypt. Actually, there's an old one that some people just found. I didn't realize it, but there are now 110 known pyramids in Egypt. Those people were builders!
Here's an interesting story about a high-tech con man who took in a former U.S. Senator and some big-name companies including Blockbuster and Intel. This is a pretty funny story.
In Washington D.C. you can get a traffic ticket for running a red light or speeding without ever being stopped by the police. It's automated with sensors and cameras. This technology has been in use in Europe for a long time. Most places in the U.S. don't have. People say it's unconstitutional, unethical, and fattening.
I think it will be spreading to other parts of the U.S., though. Why? Money.
From August 1999 to February 2002, Washington's red-light cameras collected over $15,000,000. Now they've started automatic speeding tickets. For these, the system is mounted in a car manned by off-duty police officers. The speeders are photographed and the citations are then mailed. In only 7 months, the automatic speeding ticket system has collected over $9,000,000. The companies that install the automatic systems get to keep around 1/3 of the fines. That seems a little scary to me.
I would guess that a lot of cities and states won't turn down that kind of money for long. I don't particularly like it, but it appears to be "coming soon to a location near me."
Pictures of Today!
A barn and 4 residents.
Claremore International. When Mike and I started flying 6 years ago, the only things there were a pay phone and a port-a-potty. The airport's come a long way.
Hubble is back in action, new and improved. Here are some results:
Here's some information on these images:
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