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The Linux Launderette


(?)Short Launderette this month...
(?)Inside the minds of 419 scammers
(?)English lesson of the day: affect/effect
(?)Paranoia on the net
(?)Broadcast flag
(?)CSS humor
(?)No way (#2)
(?)Interview with the author of "Just Say No To Microsoft"
(?)(forw) Pascal's Wager and me

(?) Short Launderette this month...

From Jimmy O'Regan

Not because of a shortage of items, but the opposite -- there simply wasn't enough time to mark all of them up!
There is a long thread from last month and a long thread from this month though.

(?) Inside the minds of 419 scammers

From Jimmy O'Regan


(?) Frappr

From Benjamin A. Okopnik

Oh, this is fun.


It would be a rather nifty thing if you folks wanted to participate; I find myself travelling a lot, but often forgetting who's where (I was just in Chicago last week, and remembered, too late and with much chagrin, that Chris G. lives there.) A visual reminder just might be a handy thing for any of us who can't recall all the written info ("say, wasn't there a pin somewhere around here?")

Anyway, I've got my pic in there... TAG, you're it! :)

(!) [Thomas] I'm added. Note that in order for me to become visible on that map, I had to add something into the "Shoutout" box...

(?) Odd. Well, they did mention that it's beta software. Opening that API is one of the nicest (and smartest) things Google ever did.

(!) [Pete] <aol>Me too!</aol>
Where's your photo then Adam?
(!) [Thomas] I dunno, Jewel [1]. But if you look at the authors page for me, you'll see me.
(!) [Pete] Surely that's going to be half the fun, seeing if people look like how we've imagined them (apart from article contributors, where a photo was provided). :)
(!) [Thomas] Reluctantly, there is one for me.
[1] I am sure you meant "Thomas" -- but I thought I'd continue in the spirit of using your surname. :)
(!) [Pete] Lol - yep, it's been a long weekend. Cutting a long story short, I've been going through all our possessions working out who's is whose, or rather, who is keeping what. Tiring in so many ways.
Oh, and it's Jewell <--- it always amazes me how attached I am to that extra L. :)
(!) [Pete] I wish konq would work with Google Maps - it's about the only thing I have to use firefox for these days.
(!) [Jimmy] Salve! (I saw this on the Nova Roma list too[1] :)

(?) Heh. I kinda figured you'd poke your nose in there eventually - what with the Academia and all. Salve, amice, et Caius Minucius Scaevola salutem multam dicit!

(!) [Jimmy] Hmm. I was looking at this stuff earlier... Marcus Caio Minucio Scaevolae salutem plurimam dicit!

(?) [long whistle] Well *done*! 'Cept 'Marcus' isn't distinctive; the cognomen (or even the nomen, but that's sorta like saying "the McGregor") works better in private conversation.

(!) [Jimmy] Yeah, but like I said, I can't remember what I chose in the end :)
(!) [Jimmy] Damned thing doesn't understand my surname... grr!

(?) Waitaminit. Which Damned Thing? If it's a Nova Roma damned thing, then I - as the recently-invested Magister Aranearium need to know about it. If it's a Frappr damned Thing, well, fake it till you make it. :)

(!) [Jimmy] Frappr. It doesn't understand the apostrophe.
(!) [Jimmy] [1] Application still pending. There was an issue with my choice of cognomen.

(?) If you've been reading the Main List, you definitely know why. I suppose I'm lucky: all my nomina can be conjugated in proper fashion, so I'm not affected - but, oh, the tempest in the teapot...

(!) [Jimmy] Yeah... that all happened seemed to happen after I sent in my application. I can't remember what I chose in the end, and I'm not too worried either (I didn't have much input into my existing name :)

(?) That's what I've been chuckling about from the start of this. The Censores and the Latinists have taken on a hell of a load - essentially, they'll be either qualifying or picking (in most cases, IMO, and perhaps several times over) the names for every single person who joins NR. I'd offer to write something that could do basic vetting, but I've got better things to do. :)

(!) [Jimmy] I do remember that I got the thumbs up for whatever I picked second time around, just not what it was.
(!) [Sluggo] Um, if I add an entry, can I change or delete it later? It doesn't seem to have a password or any kind of "Change" button.
(!) [Jimmy] The FAQ says "Contact your Frappr admin". That would be Ben.

(?) Ah, I was wondering. The phrasing on the site was ambiguous. In any case, feel free to let me know if you want any of'em changed or deleted.

(!) [Jimmy] ...but you can change your photo by adding another "shoutout".
(!) [Brian] and lurking next to Ben I find (due to text wrapping in fun places) Jay Ashworth Saint, with Saint in gray, so it reads like
Jay Ashworth, Saint.
This presumptuous bloke is from someplace called Petersburg. Hey, wait a minnit....
Maybe I'd better worship him anyway, just in case...
(!) [Jimmy] sigh A common misconception among non-Catholics: you don't worship saints, you pray to them for their intercession on your behalf before God. Big difference :)
(I'm currently going to Church every Sunday, but only because my son is making his First Communion next Summer. If I'm gonna encourage him to celebrate Samhain...)
(!) [Breen] But if he's from a Russian city (and prolly wearing sunglasses) worship is probably only prudent...
(!) [Sluggo] And (at least in the Orthodox tradition), asking a saint to pray for you is no different than asking anybody else to pray for you. They are merely peers whose devotion to God is widely recognized, and venerating them is a traditional form of honor/respect. As to how can the dead pray for you, they are "conscious" and awaiting the judgement (viz. Revelation under the throne, "How long must we wait?"). You can pray for them as easily as they pray for you, although it's not traditionally done.
As for "Who is a saint?", it's basically the people who knew them treating them as such, and lobbying the officialdom to recognize it.
(!) [Rick] http://linuxmafia.com/~rick says: ICBM: 122.19781°W, 37.43162°N, 27.4 metreslevation (When you care enough to send the very best!)
Feed that into xearth, and lo!
(!) [Jimmy] Hmm.

See attached frappr.pl.txt

Pipe "lynx -source http://www.frappr.com/linuxgazette|frappr.pl" into xearth, and see if it works (I don't have a copy to try it myself)
(!) [Jimmy]
>                 print "$long $lat \"$name\"\n";
Damn. Should be
print "$lat $long \"$name\"\n;
and you might want to use sort and uniq on the pipeline if you're running it against other frappr maps.

(?) Didn't work for me, not sure why. I suspect that the long regex failed somewhere.

#!/usr/bin/perl -wn
# Created by Ben Okopnik on Mon Oct 31 11:03:20 MST 2005

if (/openMarker/) {
	printf "Lat: %12s Long: %12s  ", $1, $2;
exit if /marker_status/
ben@Fenrir:/tmp$ lynx -source http://www.frappr.com/linuxgazette|./frappr
Lat:   -81.299917 Long:    29.865078   Ben Okopnik, Editor-in-Chief Saint Augustine (FL)
Lat:   -1.4157985 Long:   50.9169545  Thomas Adam Southampton, England (United Kingdom)
Lat:    -0.974663 Long:    51.455809   Pete Jewell Reading, England (United Kingdom)
Lat:     11.57346 Long:    50.936322   Karl-Heinz Herrmann Jena, Thuringia (Germany)
Lat:   -7.8210065 Long:   52.6826165   Jimmy O Regan Thurles, Tipperary North Riding (Ireland)
Lat:   -82.736602 Long:    27.821921   Jay R. Ashworth Saint Petersburg (FL)
Lat:  -76.7774515 Long:   38.9807345   Brian Bilbrey Bowie (MD)
Lat:   -0.2179705 Long:   51.9105095   Neil Youngman Stevenage, England (United Kingdom)

(?) xearth -pos 'fixed 37.43162 -122.19781' -mag 10

"And lo, San Fran and the vicinity were dark with the passage of the Terminator, and the despair of inadequate resolution was upon all who viewed it."

Too bad "xearth" doesn't show any reasonable level of detail... sucks that it doesn't allow you to plug in a better database.

(?) English lesson of the day: affect/effect

From Sluggo

I had to look up affect/effect to figure out which one to use here:

"There are exercises with light weights that have the same affect|effect as calisthenics."

The meanings sounded just barely different so I looked them up.

The answer is "effect". Something that affects or effects causes an effect. Affect (noun) is a specialized term in psychology. #3 says this confusion goes back at least to the 1400s, and has an interactive quiz.

(#2 fails to note that effect (verb) is formalese. "The temperature reversal effected a major slowdown in the bacterial growth rate." Normal people would say "caused" instead. "The temperature reversal caused a hurricane.")

(!) [Ben] The distinction for me is that "effect" means "cause or accomplish", whereas "affect" is "act upon or pretend". As well, "affect" as used by psychologists isn't very different from one of the common meanings of the word: "to affect an uncaring air" is to create an external impression of an internal state. The major difference, as I see it, is that the former is involuntary while the latter is consciously created; otherwise, the meanings are similar.
(!) [Thomas] This is one of my pet-hates with English. A lot of people confuse the two, and it annoys the hell out of me.
(!) [Ben] Oh, come - there's a LOT more to hate about English than just _that._ Stupid pronunciations that have no relation to how the words are written, that's my pet peeve. "Recipe"? "Queue"? "Though the tough cough and hiccough plough him through"? Sheesh. Then there are the words that are made to be mispeled: "wierd", "tounge", "beleive", and so on - and words that damn near no one (noone?) can spell without staring at a dictionary for a while (Mississippi, miscellaneous, Cincinnati, extraordinary). And is it councillor or counselor or councilor? (The answer is, of course, "yes".) Just insane. But for those of us who like to play in the stuff, it's home. :)



Queue -- four vowels together.

Eighth -- four consonants together.

I have some friends that work at an industrial/goth club called The Vogue, and one day a promoter distributed some fliers that misspelled it The Vouge. We wondered how to pronounce that, then started calling it "The Voozh" as a joke.

(!) [Jimmy] Polish is infamous for having words with lengthy blocks of consonants: Grzegorz Brzęczyszczykiewicz[1] though 'y' is a vowel in Polish, that's still pretty scary.
[1] Yep, it's a tongue-twister. More here: http://www.alphadictionary.com/fun/tongue-twisters/index.html My favourite is the Tagalog tongue twister: Bababa ba? Bababa.

(?) Paranoia on the net

From Jason Creighton

...modern cyberspace is not the friendly, open, trusting, safe place it
was back in February. Modern cyberspace is a deadly, festering swamp,
teeming with dangerous programs such as "viruses", "worms", "Trojan
Horses" and "licensed Microsoft software" that can take over your
computer and render it useless.
                -- Dave Barry
Recently, I began using my box to connect directly (okay, it's dailup, but as opposed to being behind NAT) to the internet. So, naturally, I set up iptables to do NAT for the rest of the LAN and be fairly strict about what it accepts. (Anything going out is okay, anything coming in has to be ESTABLISHED or RELATED or else it's logged and dropped).
So when I started seeing weird UDP packets being dropped, I thought I must have my DNS set up wrong or something, because it's highly unlikely anybody's trying to get in to my system, right? Well, ulogd and tcpdump tell this story: (IP addresses censored to protect the innocent)
10:59:04.381707 IP XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX.32774 > XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX.1026: UDP, length: 469
	0x0000:  4500 01f1 0000 4000 2f11 531c ddd0 d002  E.....@./.S.....
	0x0010:  ceb7 7a55 8006 0402 01dd b0c0 0400 2800  ..zU..........(.
	0x0020:  1000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000  ................
	0x0030:  0000 0000 f891 7b5a 00ff d011 a9b2 00c0  ......{Z........
	0x0040:  4fb6 e6fc 488a 7a85 6220 f0c2 99aa 852b  O...H.z.b......+
	0x0050:  63e8 0095 0000 0000 0100 0000 0000 0000  c...............
	0x0060:  0000 ffff ffff 8501 0000 0000 1000 0000  ................
	0x0070:  0000 0000 1000 0000 4652 4f4d 0000 0000  ........FROM....
	0x0080:  0000 0000 0000 0000 1000 0000 0000 0000  ................
	0x0090:  1000 0000 544f 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000  ....TO..........
	0x00a0:  0000 0000 4101 0000 0000 0000 4101 0000  ....A.......A...
	0x00b0:  5354 4f50 2120 5749 4e44 4f57 5320 5245  STOP!.WINDOWS.RE
	0x00c0:  5155 4952 4553 2049 4d4d 4544 4941 5445  QUIRES.IMMEDIATE
	0x00d0:  2041 5454 454e 5449 4f4e 2e0a 0a57 696e  .ATTENTION...Win
	0x00e0:  646f 7773 2068 6173 2066 6f75 6e64 2035  dows.has.found.5
	0x00f0:  3520 4372 6974 6963 616c 2053 7973 7465  5.Critical.Syste
	0x0100:  6d20 4572 726f 7273 2e0a 0a54 6f20 6669  m.Errors...To.fi
	0x0110:  7820 7468 6520 6572 726f 7273 2070 6c65  x.the.errors.ple
	0x0120:  6173 6520 646f 2074 6865 2066 6f6c 6c6f  ase.do.the.follo
	0x0130:  7769 6e67 3a0a 0a31 2e20 446f 776e 6c6f  wing:..1..Downlo
	0x0140:  6164 2052 6570 6169 7220 5265 6769 7374  ad.Repair.Regist
	0x0150:  7279 2050 726f 2066 726f 6d3a 2077 7777  ry.Pro.from:.www
	0x0160:  2e72 6567 6669 7875 702e 636f 6d0a 322e  .regfixup.com.2.
	0x0170:  2049 6e73 7461 6c6c 2052 6570 6169 7220  .Install.Repair.
	0x0180:  5265 6769 7374 7279 2050 726f 0a33 2e20  Registry.Pro.3..
	0x0190:  5275 6e20 5265 7061 6972 2052 6567 6973  Run.Repair.Regis
	0x01a0:  7472 7920 5072 6f0a 342e 2052 6562 6f6f  try.Pro.4..Reboo
	0x01b0:  7420 796f 7572 2063 6f6d 7075 7465 720a  t.your.computer.
	0x01c0:  0a46 4149 4c55 5245 2054 4f20 4143 5420  .FAILURE.TO.ACT.
	0x01d0:  4e4f 5720 4d41 5920 4c45 4144 2054 4f20  NOW.MAY.LEAD.TO.
	0x01e0:  5359 5354 454d 2046 4149 4c55 5245 210a  SYSTEM.FAILURE!.
	0x01f0:  00                                       .
Looks like Windows Messenger[1] (not MSN Messenger) spam. I can only wonder what "Repair Registry Pro" does. I would guess that some of it involves send out lots of (probably spoofed) UDP packets...
[1] http://grc.com/stm/shootthemessenger.htm
(!) [Pete Savage] I myself used to pick up very similar logs, and recently a family friend of mine's boxen, got loaded with mail spoofing software. I had an email from the ISP, (I setup the account) asking if I was aware of this activity. 678 MALCIOUS objects later, and the machine was clean. Phew
Makes you wonder just how much is out there

(?) Broadcast flag

From Mike Orr

[For News Bytes]
http://lwn.net/Articles/154288 LWN writes about the broadcast flag's return from the dead (coming soon to a legislator near you), and a similar initiative in Europe (Content Protection and Copy Management: CPCM). The new proposal would give the FCC the authority to enforce the broadcast flag in TV-receiving devices and on "digital networks". This isn't quite the FCC "regulating the Internet", but it's a step in that direction that could be exploited by those who see the Internet as "one giant copying machine".

(?) CSS humor

From Deirdre Saoirse Moen

The comments are even funnier than the original post.
"Relatively positioning an elephant is easy. Good luck getting one to float though."

(?) No way (#2)

From Mike Orr

' When I took Latin in high school, we translated "amat" as you love and "amatis" as y'all love. Mind you, this was in Niceville, Florida (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niceville%2C_Florida).'
From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:English_grammar
(!) [Jimmy] Both my French and German teachers used 'ye' for the second person plural :)

(?) Interview with the author of "Just Say No To Microsoft"

From Jimmy O'Regan

"What lessons should the open source community learn from Microsoft's success?
Open source developers should ignore Microsoft's so-called "success" which is based on predatory business practices. They should not be afraid to take on Microsoft. This is the lesson they should learn, not from Microsoft, but from OpenOffice.org, the Linux vendors, and Google.
What would you say desktop Linux has to work on before it will have mass appeal?
Linux will gain in mass appeal as Web applications (such as Ajax-style apps) and custom applications lighten the burden of needing any traditional desktop applications that are compatible with Microsoft Office and Windows. A bit more marketing would help as well!"

(?) (forw) Pascal's Wager and me

From Rick Moen

It was just a chance, throwaway remark on Usenet, and it was eight years ago. Yet I still keep coming across people quoting it. Watch out; you might end up being famous for something freaky like that, too.

Footnote #3 is to an elaborate and very funny parody piece ("alt.Shrugged"), in which the author imagines all the regulars of the referenced newsgroup, including yr. humble correspondent, enacting roughly the plot outline of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged . It should be amusing even if you don't get the plentiful in-jokes like my being infamous for dropping foreign phrases into the conversation.

(!) [Jimmy] Yeah, you get two of the funniest bits:
'Rick Moen spread his hands regretfully. "Sodomy non sapiens, dear."'
        "Andrea?"  He didn't try to put a hand on her shoulder; he knew
better than that.  "Just remember:  Nolite te bastardes carborundorum."
        She looked up in exasperation, fighting back tears.  "Rick,
_will_ you speak English for once?"
        He smiled in genuine amusement.  "Don't let the bastards grind
you down."
(!) [Jay] I've always heard that as "illegitimi non carborundum" (or, for the pedants, "illegitimati"), though of course neither is "real" Latin.
(!) [Jimmy] Hmm. On third inspection, that doesn't seem to hold up[1]: I'm pretty sure there should be an 'if' in there ('si'?). And isn't 'sapiens' think (homo sapiens = 'thinking man')? I thought 'Science' came from the Latin 'to know'.
'Learn some Latin' is one of those things that's been on the TODO list for way too long. The last time I started, I got derailed at the 'pronunciation' section[3]. I think I'll start with "Talkin' Like the Ancient Romans" (http://www.byzantinecommunications.com/adamhoward/latin.html), just because of the tagline: "Latin: Because You Never Know When You'll Find Yourself In Ancient Rome."
(!) [Ben] If you want an excellent education in Latin, Nova Roma's "Academia Thules" just started another year (the praeceptor, Avitus, is an incredibly knowledgeable Latinist, perhaps one of the top Latinists in the world.) It's free,
(!) [Jimmy] Woohoo!
(!) [Ben] although some minimal expenditure for books is required;
(!) [Jimmy] I would have expected that, given how much I've spent on Polish books so far.
(!) [Ben] I'm also given to understand that you're significantly better off if you speak French, since one of the best language references for Latin is published in that language.
(!) [Jimmy] And, um, because it's a Romance language? :)
I can't remember how to speak French beyond the basic survival stuff, but I can still read it.
(!) [Ben] Sign up at http://www.academiathules.org .
(!) [Jimmy] [1] You know: first glance = "Eh?", second glance = double take & laugh[2] (& c 'n' p), third glance = my copy of my mail.
[2] There was a Polish college student working with me this summer. I took delight in throwing in Polish words and phrases into conversation every now and again to see that reaction.
[3] See question 8 of the 'Occasionally Asked Questions' here (http://www.math.ohio-state.edu/~econrad/lang/latin.html):
"Q: My teacher says Caesar is pronounced "Kai'-sar", my priest says "Chay'-sar" and my parents say "See'-zer". Who's correct? A: It depends. If you want a good approximation of ancient Roman pronunciation, then your teacher is correct. For liturgical purposes, your priest is correct. If you're talking about Caesar in English, then your parents are correct." [4]
[4] And of course, question 9: "Q: Why do academic types always answer a simple question with "It depends."? A: It depends."


Date: Thu, 29 Sep 2005 19:16:53 -0700
Subject: Pascal's Wager and me

At the top of article <pwgVe.7612$e96.5058@trndny09>, which you crossposted
across alt.fan.bob-larson / alt.true-crime / misc.legal [1], you wrote:

   > That's very nice, but what do you presume to say to God when you
   > stand before Him at the Final Judgement?

   I will adopt Rick Moen's Strategy: "In the unlikely event of losing
   Pascal's Wager, I intend to saunter into Judgement Day with a bookshelf
   full of grievances, a flaming sword of my own devising, and a serious
   attitude problem." I'm guessing Ken will have a similar strategy.

I'm delighted to have given people ammunition in the eternal war against idiocy.

But the astonishing thing is that it was absolutely an offhand remark that I made one day in 1997 in -- of all places -- the Robert Jordan SF/fantasy newsgroup (rec.arts.sf.written.robert-jordan).[2]

That newsgroup was and almost certainly still is an amazingly literate and funny group of slightly cranky people[3], who use Robert Jordan's logorrhoeic epic fantasy series as an excuse to shoot the breeze on almost everything. Almost. We had the misfortune to suffer an invasion of "witness-bearing" envoys from the Jesus Christ Church of Latter-Day Saints -- who had somehow taken it upon themselves to straighten us out about the Book of Mormon and their church's creative approach to American paleo-history.

Their entrance and quest were entertaining for about five minutes, but then they became repetitious, tedious, and insulting to everyone's intelligence. The regulars proceeded to have a field day taking apart their archeology, their logical consistency, and their theology .

I happened to be mopping them up over religious ethics, when I dropped the quoted sentence as an afterthought. (Mind you: I have no problem with people basing their ethics on religious principle. I object only when the outcome of that process is illogical, and especially if it is both that and morally reprehensible.)

And, to my amazement, that sentence was immediately quoted... well... just about everywhere, became the thing I was best known for, for at least the following five years -- and keeps showing up. Go figure.

[1] http://groups.google.com/group/alt.fan.bob-larson/msg/194cc645875445da "Crossposts from hell, #295 in a series."

[2] http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.sf.written.robert-jordan/msg/934608fa971abdc7


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Published in Issue 120 of Linux Gazette, November 2005