More Junkmail from Bob!

Saturday, March 24, 2001
Important Stuff.

It's Spring Break! That's why I'm a bit late with this.


Mir is history. It's on the bottom of the ocean like the titanic, at least what's left of it. But it's in a different ocean than the titanic. Mir "landed" in the South Pacific at about 150W 40S. Its pieces were scattered over miles of ocean.

A guy named Alex organized a charter flight for people to ride an airliner in the area and see the Mir's re-entry. The group stayed on Fiji. They hopped on the plane to go see the Mir's fiery descent. Except there was a slight problem. They headed out in the wrong direction and missed it. Meanwhile, everybody on Fiji had a great view. Oops!

Taco Bell offered to provide a free taco to everyone in the U.S. if the Mir landed on their floating target
out in the South Pacific. It missed. The odds were not promising.

Here's what Mir looked like last week. It looks pretty good, but the recent crews seemed to spend a lot of their time making repairs and trying to keep the place habitable.


Details, if you can read Cyrillic

The bandwidth seems a little limited on this site.


Do you know how much money was lost last year due to computer viruses? I don't. But I don't think anybody else does either. I agree with a guy named Rob who wrote this article:

The fact is, nobody really knows how many people get "infected" by a computer virus. So they estimate. I would guess the number could be off by a factor of 10 in either direction. Then, nobody knows how much productivity was lost, on average, by the virus victims. So they estimate. I would guess this number would normally be overestimated by virus experts to hype their business, maybe by a factor of 2 to 10.

Based on these two assumptions, the number you read regarding the money lost due to computer viruses may be 100 times too big. Or it could be 5 times too small.

Usually the numbers you read don't specify whether they account for lost productivity or potential profit loss. I'd guess most of these numbers are based on the assumption that virus victims would not be using their computers to chat or play games or something that's not financially productive.

One thing for sure is that my assumptions are scientifically based on wild guesses. The difference between my numbers and the experts? I admit mine are wild guesses.

Computer Virulogical Warfare

Anti-hacking software is getting pretty sophisticated. There are hacking tools available to scan for security holes in networks, but there are programs that detect when one of these or similar hacking tools is being used on a network. The information packets from the hacker can then be tracked, although it's not as effective as a telephone trace. Yet.

Now there's a program called Stick that overwhelms the intrusion detection systems. The author agreed to delay its release to the general public for a few months so network protection people can get prepared for it.,4586,2697767,00.html

This is all a lot more complex than I make it sound. There is a lot of it I don't understand very well. I don't want to take the time to learn all the details because I know it will change in two or three years. That doesn't mean I'm getting old and lazy, does it?

The FBI has gotten into the act with the National Infrastructure Protection Center. The government is a little worried about an organized hack attack on U.S. networks. I think those worries are well founded. Military organizations from most countries, including the U.S., have been working on ways to attack the computer networks of potential enemies. I guess I prefer that type of warfare to shooting people.

A Deal for Staples is a spin-off of Staples, the office supplies superstore. They separated their web business from the main business about a year and a half ago, the height of the internet boom. Shares of were sold privately at $3.50 a share at the time.

Now, with dot-com valuations at a fraction of their price then, Staples is buying back the stock at TWICE the price -- about $7 per share. Why would they do something that stupid? It's simple. The CEO will make about $3,000,000 profit on the deal. 27 Staples executives and directors will get $37,000,000 in the deal.

Investors outside the company aren't too happy. David Dreman, who's investment firm owns a whole lot of Staples stock (3,400,000 shares or so), calls the deal "ludicrous." Scott Black of Delphi Management prefers the term "disgraceful." The Staples boss says the deal is "justified." The end "justifies" the means, right?


A few weeks ago, we parked on this airstrip at Gibraltar. I thought it was in an odd place. I also want to try to land there someday, if the British military will let me.

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This has been a pretty controversial place lately. It seems that both Spain and the U.K. claim ownership of the isthmus connecting the rock of Gibraltar with the rest of Europe. The airstrip is on that isthmus.

The European Commission was trying to pass a "single sky" law so that planes can fly all over Europe easier. I think this means you can get clearance for a flight from one country through other countries all at once, instead of having to get clearance for each country as you approach it. I'm not sure about this, though.

At any rate, the Single Sky law was supposed to be a pretty big deal. The entire deal was derailed because the British and Spanish wouldn't agree on how to handle this little airport. I'm just guessing, but I'd say some politicians were involved.

Pictures of Today!

Since I was a little weak on the pictures last week, here is a bunch.

I tested out some open-cockpit photography from the Aircam this week. Here's a pasture.


... and here's an island in the wheat:


Reflections at sunset -- I couldn't decide which of these to use, so here's both of them.

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During Spring Break, thousands of humans travel along I-70 to and from the mountains of Colorado, a migration comparable in form and inferior in intelligence to those of the monarch butterfly and the Arctic tern. Here is I-70 and Dillon, looking east from Buffalo Mountain.


Here's the same view, with some foreground clutter.


Here are some trees and some snow.


In celebration of Spring Break, Ms. Burger demonstrates proper snowshoe technique.


She apparently acquired this technique from M. Bigotto in last winter's Junkmail.


These are both in the Ten-Mile Range, near Breckenridge.

That's it for the Pictures of Today. For extra credit, go listen to Stravinsky's Rite of Spring.

)c(  All rites observed. Any unauthorized production, reproduction, contribution, or distribution of this fine piece of attempted literature is uninhibited by the European Single Sky law.

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My name is Bob Webster, and I reside at