If anyone from T-Mobile is reading this, you guys blow.

When I set up my cell phone with them almost a year ago, I specifically said I needed text messaging because I’ve set up my web servers to automatically call my phone with a message if they’re in trouble. It’s a great arrangement, and lets me respond immediately to any problems. Of course, this doesn’t happen often (and when it does it’s almost always a false alarm), so I only need a half-dozen or so text messages per month.

The woman I spoke with last May said she’d set me up with 30 free messages per month. Great, that’s more than I need… I’m set. Today when I was reviewing my bill I noticed I’d been charged twenty cents for four messages last month. Apparently those 30 free ones weren’t per month; they were in total. Now, every time my server cries out for help, I’m billed a nickel for the e-mail to my phone.

I called T-Mobile and asked about this, seeing if they could either give me a handful of free messages each month, or perhaps slap another 30 on my account (which will last a while). The guy said that was just not possible. Yeah, right. Even though the woman last year did it, now he’s powerless. He pointed out that it’s only five cents per message, or I could sign up for 300 messages for three bucks a month. I insisted I only needed five or so messages, he continued to tell me he “wasn’t supposed to” throw me a handful of freebies.

So now I’m quite literally being nickeled-and-dimed by T-Mobile, because of a misunderstanding last year. Losers.


Man, spam sucks.

I have an elaborate set of mail filters that automatically categorize incoming messages into folders based on who they’re from, the content, and so on. One of the filters checks my address book and shovels anything from someone I don’t know into a “suspected spam” folder, which I can then check for anything legitimate.

The problem is that I get a hundred or so a day in this folder, and I have to scan them to look for anything real. Take the example here. One of these messages is legitimate; the others aren’t. Argh.

I wonder sometimes how many opportunities I’ve missed because someone writes to me and I simply discard their message with all the other trash.


My friend Derek sent me an article comparing the civil rights struggle of last century– and its fight against the Ku Klux Klan– with the present-day insurgency in Iraq.

The civil rights movement, described in the article, finally emerged victorious over the KKK “insurgents” because the population finally got tired of what was happening. To quote:

“The Sixteenth Street Church bombing was a wake-up call for northern whites. The deaths of four little girls in white dresses was too much even for whites who hadn’t cared about civil rights.”

So the “solution to the problem”, in this case, was for the general population to get fed up with the crap going on around them, and stand up for something.

Similarly, in Iraq, the solution will occur when (if?) the population decides the insurgency’s day is over, and fight back. Right now I suspect most people are living quietly in their homes, doing whatever they can to avoid the next car bomb or kidnapping incident.

The important thing I want to stress here is that the presence (or absence) of U.S. troops does precious little for this situation. One might argue that the insurgents aren’t quite as brash as they might otherwise be, knowing that some Marine sniper might be around the next corner. But overall, I don’t think the insurgency much cares about the U.S. forces. They run pell-mell through the streets, yanking people out of their cars or driving through the front door of a police precinct.

A billion dollars a week from us isn’t making the elections any safer.

Now, I’m fully aware that I’m sitting in my comfortable home writing this message– I’m not hiding out in a shack in the Baghdad suburbs wondering if my wife is going to make it back from the store today. It’s easy to assess a situation as an armchair quarterback, and I know the reality is far tougher. But my grandpa, who was a bomber pilot in World War II, said of the Jews who were buried in mass graves, “The Germans lined them up and made them dig their own graves, then shot them all. If I’d been one of those poor Jews, I’d be damned if I’d dig my own grave. Let them shoot me and dig it themselves.” He had spunk, to be sure, but the reason I bring this up is that it demonstrates a shift in attitude that will be necessary if the insurgency is ever going to be put down.


Who knew I’d ever agree with something Senator Kennedy says? Today I do:

“We now have no choice but to make the best we can of the disaster we have created in Iraq. The current course is only making the crisis worse.”

Kennedy is calling for the immediate withdrawal of 12,000 American troops, and a complete reduction in force by the end of the year. Good for him.


It’s so inspiring to hear the leader of our country say things like:

“I’ve, you know, heard the voices of the people that presumably will be in a position of responsibility after these elections, although you never know.”

This guy went to Yale?


Laralee and I were watching Phenomemon and discussing the nature of intelligence and, more specifically, curiosity. I find that very few people I know are as curious about things as I am. Laralee says she would be more curious, but since she seldom has the time nor inclination to find answers to the things she wonders about, it dampens her curiosity. Personally, I think that laziness and curiosity aren’t necessarily related: you could be both.

In any case, I remember a long time ago (early high school, I suspect) when I became curious about how the body makes energy. I mean really makes energy; everyone knows that food is converted to energy that drives your muscles or whatever. What I wanted to know is how that energy is converted, stored, and then released… on the molecular level. After a bit of research, I learned about ATP– adenosine triphosphate– and how the body “builds” these molecules and then breaks them down (turning ATP into ADP) to release the energy stored in the atomic bonds. Wow. It was amazing stuff, and I even took the chemical formula (C10H16N5O13P3) and figured out how the molecule was structured. Then the phosphate groups made sense, and I really understood how the body made energy.

It’s these sorts of thoughts– I can think of many such seminal moments throughout my life– that keep me interested and learning. There’s so much amazing stuff around us, and so much more to learn than I’ll ever know. I find it a little disappointing that more people don’t share my curiosity, but that just means they have to listen as I explain to them (in excited tones) about the latest thing I’ve wondered about or learned.


From an article in today’s edition of The Register:

According to Dell’s lawyers – old hands at this sort of thing – the owner of Dellwebsites is committing “an act of parasitism” and “creating a risk of confusion” between himself and the online PC vendor Dell. It wants the domain signed over to it, at the owner’s cost.

The theory runs that as soon as someone sees or hears of www.dellwebsites.com, they immediately think “oh that lovely company that sells cheap but well-built PCs has got into web design”. They are then overwhelmed with revulsion when they find out it’s nothing to do with Dell the PC maker.

Yes, incredible as it may seem, the name “Dell” did exist before 1984. You may think this was obvious since the company is named after founder Michael Dell. If nothing else, his parents would have used the name before him. Does Michael not realise that other families may also the same surname? He probably does, but tough businessman that he is, he’s not afraid to screw over his own kin.

In this case that is one Paul Dell. Paul lives in Spain and, incredibly, makes websites for a living. Paul thought the Internet domain dellwebsites.com was therefore a pretty good description of what he was up to online (apparently, dell.com had already gone).

But while Mr. Dell (Paul, that is) was pleased with his purchase back in April 2001, it now appears that he was trying to rip off Mr. Dell (Michael) and his enormous US company. Quite what the enormous impact Paul’s website has had on the PC giant is hard to gauge.

For the first half of this year, Dell’s revenue actually went up 20 per cent to $23 billion. No mention of Paul Dell’s web design business has appeared in its financial results as having a negative impact on these sales.

Nonetheless, it’s not just about the money, it’s about the principle, isn’t it? Which perhaps makes it hard to understand why it was that Dell backed down the last time it tried to take dellwebsites.com off Paul Dell. Yes, Paul Dell has been through this charade once before, in April 2002. Dell was still adamant that it rightly owned the domain, but when Paul Dell make it clear that he wasn’t prepared to cave in to pressure, the company walked away.

Why didn’t it take him to a domain arbitrator or a law court, you ask? Most likely because it didn’t stand a chance of winning the case. And so jump forward two-and-a-half years and we’re here again. What has changed?

Not much it seems: “You continue to use the denomination DELL WEB SITES as trade mark, company name, trade name or shop sign to designate your activities,” roar Dell’s lawyers. Er, yes.

“Alike you continue to use the denomination DELL WEB SITES as domain name and within the copyright notices to which the Site links.” Well, that’s because that’s where I run my business, haven’t we been here before?

“Finally, you modified the copyright notice to ‘Copyright 2004, Paul Dell, Dell Web Sites’ in order to include your first name.” That’s it! They’ve got Paul Dell bang to right because – get this – he included his first name as a copyright notice on his own website.

This would be funny were it not so worrying for the individuals and small businesses that find themselves at the end of such unwarranted demands by powerful legal firms and international businesses.


In a press conference today, Bush said:

“In the long term, our children and grandchildren will benefit from a free Iraq.”

I don’t know about benefit, but with his request for an additional $80 billion to support the war efforts, it’s a good bet my children and grandchildren will be paying for it!


A long time ago, Steve gave me a subwoofer for some reason (probably because it was broken or something, or maybe because he bought a better one). I dug it out of the closet the other day and jacked it into the stereo receiver that’s hooked to my computer(s). Now I can listen to my tunes while I work, and get the throbbing beat from the sub. Sweet!

I haven’t yet cranked the trance stuff (streamed from internet radio of course) and gone upstairs to see if it rattles the floor or anything…


I’m working on my taxes for 2004, and as usual I’m asked the big question:

Do you want to contribute $3 to the Presidential Election Campaign Fund? This will not change your taxes in any way.

Every year I wonder what this is all about… it doesn’t change my taxes, which means I’m not making a direct contribution. Where does the money come from, then? If I choose “yes” will the IRS treat my tax return differently?

All that aside, we saw in this last presidential campaign that both candidates spent something on the order of a quarter billion dollars– so I don’t think I should be sending another three bucks. Sheesh.