Friday, November 30, 2007

Where did I go?

OK - I have not done this before. This being posting-while-a-bit-drunk. Ah fuck it, why not?

So I'm sitting here at work after Friday-night-drinks-after-work - everyone else is long gone - I think I'm on my fifth beer - I've actually lost count - but I know it's way more than I'm used to. I've figured out how to get my iTunes onto the office stereo (thanks, Chris for making me the DJ tonight!) and I'm listening to my favourite songs REALLY LOUD - just for me.

Funny how the soundtrack of your life takes you back to moments in your life that are now long gone.

And I'm thinking... where did I go?

Where did that dynamic, adventurous me go? Why isn't she here any more? What am I doing with my life? Where am I heading? And what's it all for?

See - you can tell I've had a few too many to drink - these thoughts only invade one's consciousness when one is slightly worse for wear.

I remember as a teenager replying in the affirmative to every invite - out of fear that I'd miss out on something if I didn't say "yes". These days I've said "no" so many times they don't ask me any more. Or else they're all too busy having babies they don't have time to ask me any more. *sigh*.

I went over to my "meet-someone-on-the-internet-cos-you're-such-a-loser- you-can't-meet-people-in-RL" website this evening - which I haven't visited in ages - and found myself messaging people without really caring whether or not they messaged me back. Interesting... maybe that's a good thing.

I know there's something missing from my life, and I'm guessing it's a PERSON - but I'm so un-used to sharing my life with anyone, that I'm really not sure if I remember how to do it any more.

Most of the time I am easily able to push any and all of those feelings down, and I'm able to forget they even exist, but sometimes, just sometimes, like today, they come bubbling up to the surface again, and I'm not entirely sure how to deal with them. Writing them out of my system is as good a way as any, I suppose.

I remember when I had boyfriends. I remember when I interacted with people on a closer than "colleague" or "friend" level. I think I remember what it was like to be hugged. I think I remember. I dream about it sometimes. I miss it. Thinking about being hugged brings the tears to the surface now. God I miss that physical contact with another human being - a human being who wants to hold me because they like me enough to want to be close.

Drinking too much is NOT a good thing. It makes me maudlin. It makes me cry.

I don't know what else to say. Shall I be alone for ever now?

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Go Aussie, Go!

So the Howard era in Australian politics is finally over - after eleven and a half long years. Hooray!

Australians can now look forward to a swift ratification of the Kyoto Treaty (at last!!!), the beginning of withdrawal of Australian troops from Iraq (about time too!), a return to fairer contract and working conditions for workers, and hopefully a review of the nation's attitude towards and treatment of its indigenous people.

w00t! The ABC has a bloody AWESOME website covering the election. Check it out!

What a great result! Congratulations Kevin Rudd! I hope you do everything you have promised - and more.

It's VERY interesting to note how strong the Green vote was across the country. In many seats, the preferential voting system (where voters number the candidates on the ballot paper in the order of their preference) has seen the Green vote helping the Labour candidate to cross the line ahead of the Liberal - even, in some cases, where the Liberal received a higher number of primary votes.

The system isn't perfect - the small National party won 10 seats across the country with only 5.5% of the vote, compared with the Greens who won no seats and yet received 7.8% of votes nationwide - and won more primary votes than National! How does that work? Can someone who knows more abut Aussie politics than I do please explain that to me?

But still - it's very good to see Labour defeat the Liberals at last - and even better to see the Green vote increase - reaching the heady heights of 13.3% in ACT and 13.5% in Tasmania.

It will be interesting to see what happens with the proposed (and deeply unpopular) pulp mill in Tasmania. The 5 Labour victories out of 5 seats in that state were most definitely helped by the transfer of the substantial Green vote - particularly in Bass where without those votes, the Liberal candidate would have won, and in Franklin and Braddon, where Labour and Liberal were running neck and neck. Time will tell whether Labour will repay the favour by doing what the Greens (and many of the voters) want them to do - prevent the pulp mill from going ahead.

Oh - and if John Howard does lose his own seat of Bennelong - which as I write this seems entirely possible - after 33 years as the representative of that constituency - he will be only the second Prime Minister in Australian history to suffer such an ignominious loss.

I know that the War on Iraq has been far less important to the Australian voters than it will be in the US next year - domestic issues have taken centre stage in the Oz election - but I can't help thinking back to those pictures of Bush and Howard at APEC in Sydney and smiling to myself a little. The company you keep will always come back to bite you in the bum someday.

Wishful thinking - Howard and Bush behind bars.

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Drowning in a sea of spam

Since Thursday afternoon I have received around 3,000 pieces of spam in my inbox. Some computer-savvy little bastard has appropriated my email address (with random names before the @) and placed it in the "from" line of their millions of spam emails, instead of their own address.

The spam I'm now getting is the thousands of bounced emails coming to me from the recipients of the original spam who have spam filters (auto-responders) on their servers. And there appears to be nothing I can do about it.

I called ihug on Thursday evening when it first started, and the help desk guy initially went into a mad panic, told me to switch off my computer straight away, change my password, blah blah blah, "...because someone's hacked into your computer and is using it to send spam emails!" "Oh really? Does that happen often with macs then?" I asked. After he'd calmed down a bit he went to ask his supervisor what he should do to help fix the problem, came back and told me he'd stop the spam, and concluded our phone call.

The next morning there were over 1000 pieces of spam in my inbox. Hmmmm. Maybe he didn't fix it after all...

I called ihug again. The help desk guy couldn't find a record of me having called the previous evening (which means the first guy didn't bother to log the call), and we spent the next 30 minutes on the phone trying to figure out what he could do.

The first thing he did was go into my inbox and trash ALL my mail - without asking me first. As I had been checking my email on my browser at work that day, rather than downloading it to my computer at home, this meant I lost a bunch of legitimate email I hadn't downloaded the previous day, plus anything that had come in overnight that I hadn't even had a chance to check for and sort out from all the spam. Great. If you emailed me yesterday and I haven't replied, that'll be why.

His next suggestion was to change my email address. Er yeah, that's a brilliant idea! NOT! My email address is derived from my primary domain name, I've been using it for 12 years and it's how every person I know in the world contacts me. Not going to change it, Mr ihug man!

After half an hour of him trying to figure out what to do, he came to the conclusion that ihug can't do anything about it, because I have the "catch-all" setting activated on my account (by choice). Any email sent to is accepted by my inbox. I do this because I'm on a bunch of mailing lists, group emails etc, which tend to get filtered out if my actual name doesn't appear first on the "to" list - or if the "to" list has been compiled under a different title by the sender.

Seems to me that ihug needs to get their act together here. I can change the "catch-all" setting online via my account login at ihug's website. I can reject or redirect emails coming to Why can't I also enter a range of subject lines that I want to reject? Most of the bounced emails I'm getting have similar subject lines - like "Delivery Failure", "[SUSPECTED SPAM] failure notice", "Returned mail: see transcript for details" etc - why can't I choose to reject these? At least in the short term while I'm being subjected to spam avalanches like this one?

It would cut down on the volume of spam I'm having to wade through, and I don't mind missing the odd legitimate failure notice along the way. It's certainly better than having to continually empty my Junk mail folder at home. And it would definitely be way better than having to delete a thousand emails one by one off ihug's fancy new javascripty browser-based email interface because it's too damned slow to be able to handle the sheer volume of email I'm trying to get rid of.

I suppose the other thing I want to rant about (while I'm at it!) is the selfishness of the way many companies' spam filters (auto-responders) have been set up. By bouncing the email to me instead of checking and deleting it themselves, they are not only creating YET MORE spam that clogs up the "tubes", but they are also passing on the responsibility to me to check and delete their bounced email instead of doing it themselves. Here's SpamCop's take on it.

Bloody hell. Hopefully the avalanche will slow down and stop over the next few days (it's happened to me before and that's usually the pattern). In the meantime I think I'll call ihug every day just to see if I can persuade them to add more functionality to the way we can filter our email inboxes.

And while I'm at it, I think I might mention the fact that, from a usability point of view the "please give us feedback on your helpdesk experience" form on their website absolutely SUCKS. The form field where you make your comments is literally only 3 lines deep and about 200px wide. It's ridiculous! I guess they made it that small to put people off writing too much. I wrote an essay anyway :)

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

What I think about the New Zealand "terror raids"

I wrote this post on the Public Address blog the other day, and because it pretty much sums up what I feel about the new TSA legislation, the raids themselves, the likelihood that we have "terra" here in little old NZ, - and pretty much everything else to do with this contentious issue, I thought I'd add it to my blog, too.

The thing that's really niggling at me (amongst all the other things that I'm concerned about with this case...) is the whole "we had to use the TSA in order to get a warrant to bug/video/listen in to people's private conversations - because otherwise we wouldn't have been allowed to do that" from the police.

Now I'm not entirely sure whether that's an assumption that people have made about the police's reasoning behind using the TSA, or if that's a paraphrase of a direct quote from the police - but if it's the latter, then that really worries me.

Because what that's saying is "we wanted to get evidence about a bunch of people in a way that the laws of New Zealand don't normally allow (bugging etc). The only way we could do it is by invoking a very very serious law (the TSA), that deals with a very very serious crime (terrorism)."

As we all know, the Solicitor-General felt there was not enough evidence to meet the high threshold required to authorise prosecutions under the Act, which means that whatever evidence the police obtained during their year-long bugging operation wasn't sufficient to show that the Urewera 17 (and their mates) were actual, you know, terrorists.

So we have a number of people (who knows how many) whose private conversations have been listened into for a year by police. Nothing any of them has said is sufficient for them to be charged under the TSA. Their right to privacy has been breached, some of them have been remanded in custody for a month, and those 17 individuals will most likely never be able to travel overseas without tremendous hassle if at all.

I'm veering away from my point here - let me pull myself back to it...

My point is... it feels to me as though the TSA has been used to justify a fishing expedition in which our individual right to not have the police listen into our private conversations has been breached.

It's all back to front - to me, it seems wrong that the police were able to invoke the TSA in order to get evidence that they hoped would convict people under the TSA. Seems to me, you shouldn't be able to use the TSA to bug people unless you already HAVE a bunch of evidence which VERY strongly points in that direction anyway.

Otherwise you're using a law that may not actually apply to your suspects in order to gather evidence in a way you normally wouldn't be allowed to do in New Zealand.

And that, to me, is wrong, wrong, wrong.

I'm in the same camp as Stephen Judd with the monkeys flying out of one's butt thing. (heh) If the price we as a nation have to pay to "protect" ourselves against the (IMO) teeny weeny threat of "terrorism" in this country, is a gradual and insidious loss of our rights to privacy, our civil liberties and our freedoms to express ourselves and engage in legitimate protest, then I for one think that's way too high a price to pay. (See USofA as a perfect example of where I do not want to end up...)

My first post (this one) is on p10 of the blog comments.

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