You are currently browsing the Breaching The Web blog archives for August, 2004.


August 31st, 2004

A few months ago, I was overwhelmed by the amount of spam landing in my inbox — I was up to 500-1000 e-mail messages a day, 95% of which was spam. First I shut down my catchall mailbox, which reduced the spam by about 50%, but it was still unmanageable.

I’ve been using Mailwasher to manage my e-mail for about 2 months now, and I like it so much that I upgraded to Mailwasher pro. Mailwasher works by reading the first 21 lines of every e-mail message off your mailserver before you download it to your computer. From this sample, the program’s filters and blacklists identify known-spam, potential-spam and viruses and allow you to delete unwanted messages before you download them — an important feature if you’re on a dialup connection or want additional protection against viruses.

You can also bounce unwanted e-mail back to the sender so that your e-mail address appears to be invalid — potentially removing you from the spammer’s list of targets. The learning filters are easy to train so that over time, the program will get better at recognizing spam.

Since I’ve been using this program, my spamload has settled at a manageable 75-80 messages a day, with periodic surges to 200-300. I highly recommend Mailwasher.


August 30th, 2004

A new study finds that some carbs are good for you — carbs that are complex and break down to sugar slowly are actually good for you, in part because they tend to be higher in fiber. The trick is to pick carbs that have a low glycemic index — that is, carbs that have a smaller effect on blood sugar. A diet rich in low-GI carbs has been associated with a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes. So go ahead and eat your bread — just make it whole wheat.

Purple haze

August 23rd, 2004

Ever wonder what happened to all the folks in Prince’s 1984 Purple Rain? I didn’t either until I happened upon this article in the Minnesota Star-Tribune. But I found it interesting nonetheless.

Far away

August 23rd, 2004

A homing pigeon that got lost during a 200-mile race turned up 3,000 miles away in Canada. Since pigeons can only fly about 500 miles without rest, its owner assumes that it hitched a ride on a ship.

Wouldn’t you?

August 20th, 2004

In the Sudanese capital city of Kassala, monkeys are running amok and attacking people. They are breaking into homes and stores to steal food.

Locals blame the attacks of deforestation, which is eliminating the monkeys’ food source. The attacks appear to be orchestrated, with groups of monkeys making a sustained offensive against a single target. The monkeys open refrigerators to take food out, or steal food that is laying on counters. Bakeries appear to be a particular target.

I’m simultaneously terrified by the idea of monkeys breaking into my house, and impressed by their skill at theivery.

Other times, not so much

August 17th, 2004

Coloradans will vote on an amendement to their constitution [warning: invasive LA times registration required] this November that could be the beginning of something big.

Amendment 36 would allocate Colorado’s 9 electoral votes proportionally to the popular vote. This means that a candidate that won 2/3 of the popular vote would get 6 of the electoral votes, while a candidate that won 1/3 of the vote would get 3.

Proportional representation is the fairest method around of allocating votes of any sort to candidates. It allows for more diversity in representation, and empowers small groups of voters. PR ensures that everyone’s vote counts — not just the votes of those who favored the winner. PR allows elected representatives to focus on representing rather than winning.

In a modern nation, PR also allows for the emergence of natural interest groups, rather than forcing us to rely on meaningless geographically-defined interest groups — it made sense 200 years ago to think that neighbors had common interests, but for most people today that is no longer the case. I can’t even tell you what my neighbors look like.

I’m all for proportional representation, in Colorado and elsewhere.

Sometimes I think I’m Superman

August 16th, 2004

The Disinfopedia is a fantastic resource for checking out all those folks quoted in the news. Sponsored by the Center for Media and Democracy, it’s “a collaborative project to produce a directory of public relations firms, think tanks, industry-funded organizations and industry-friendly experts that work to influence public opinion and public policy on behalf of corporations, governments and special interests.”


August 15th, 2004

I’ve been very impressed with Fatnews, an analytic weblog focused on health and weight-loss. I found it while googling for information about Dr. Artemis Simopoulos, which turned up this interview with Dr. Simopoulos, which is worth reading for an overview of her research on fats rich in omega-3s.

I wish Larry Hobbs, author of Fatnews, focused less on weight-loss drugs; however, the site is very even-handed in its treatment of the various weight-loss methods, with no clear bias. I suspect this is deliberate, and probably makes the site helpful to more people.

I’ll be checking out Fatnews regularly — you should too.


August 13th, 2004

Julia Child died today at age 91. Julia taught us that fine cooking isn’t brain surgury. She inspired people to expect more of themselves and their food. Her humor and heart were a lesson in living meaningfully; and her cooking was lesson in eating well. I guess the two aren’t really that different from one another.

Olympic Poker

August 11th, 2004

In a publicity stunt (but one that I find funny), an internet gambling site has launched a campaign to get poker recognized as an Olympic event.