Friday, December 30, 2011
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
From American Digest
This is an absolute truth. I also own a MITS-Altair 8800B computer. And I still have some programs stored on IBM punch cards, which go back still further.
That means that either
- I'm older than I feel, or
- The computer age much less the internet age isn't all that old.
Sunday, December 25, 2011
I heard Paul Harvey tell this story on the radio at Christmas time a few years ago. I liked it then, and it's only grown on me since. But my attempts to find a copy of the story were unsuccessful until earlier this year, when I found a similar (but different) story. That enabled me to find the one I remembered, at last. It's still worth sharing.
Paul Harvey: A Modern Parable
As read on the radio
Unable to trace its proper parentage, I have designated this as my Christmas story of "The Man and the Birds." You know the Christmas story, the God born a man in a manger, and all that escapes some moderns mostly, I think, because they seek complex answers to their questions, and this one's so utterly simple. So for the cynics and the skeptics and the unconvinced, I submit a modern parable:
Now, the man to whom I'm going to introduce you was not a Scrooge; he was a kind, descent, mostly good man, generous to his family, upright in his dealings with other men. But he just didn't believe all that incarnation stuff which the churches proclaim at Christmastime. It just didn't make sense, and he was too honest to pretend otherwise. He just couldn't swallow the Jesus story about God coming to earth as a man.
"I'm truly sorry to distress you," he told his wife, "but I'm not going with you to church this Christmas Eve." He said he'd feel like a hypocrite, that he'd much rather just stay at home, but that he would wait up for them. And so he stayed, and they went to the midnight service.
Shortly after the family drove away in the car, snow began to fall. He went to the window to watch the flurries getting heavier and heavier, and then went back to his fireside chair and began to read his newspaper. Minutes later he was startled by a thudding sound, then another, and then another, sort of a thump or a thud. At first he thought someone must be throwing snowballs against his living room window; but when he went to the front door to investigate, he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow. They'd been caught in the storm, and in a desperate search for shelter had tried to fly through his large landscape window.
Well, he couldn't let the poor creatures lie there and freeze, so he remembered the barn where his children stabled their pony. That would provide a warm shelter, if he could direct the birds to it.
Quickly he put on a coat, galoshes, tramped through the deepening snow to the barn. He opened the doors wide and turned on a light, but the birds did not come in. He figured food would entice them in, so he hurried back to the house, fetched breadcrumbs, sprinkled them on the snow, making a trail to the yellow-lighted, wide-opened doorway of the stable. But to his dismay the birds ignored the breadcrumbs and continued to flop around helplessly in the snow. He tried catching them; he tried shooing them into the barn by walking around them waving his arms. Instead, they scattered in every direction, except into the warm, lighted barn.
And then he realized that they were afraid of him. To them, he reasoned, I am a strange and terrifying creature. If only I could think of some way to let them know that they can trust me, that I'm not trying to hurt them, but to help them. But how? Because any move he made tended to frighten them, confuse them. They just would not follow; they would not be led or shooed, because they feared him.
If only I could be a bird, he thought to himself, and mingle with them and speak their language! Then I could tell them not to be afraid. Then I could show them the way to the safe, warm . . . to the safe warm barn . . . but I would have to be one of them, so they could see and hear and understand. At that moment, the church bells began to ring. The sound reached his ears above the sound of the wind, and he stood there listening to the bells pealing the glad tidings of Christmas. . . . And he sank to his knees in the snow.
Wishing you all a blessed Christmas!
Image thanks to ZIP
Friday, December 23, 2011
A friend of mine once had his e-mail through a (now long-defunct) organization called flash.net (How many of you even knew such an outfit existed!?) He also had his web hosting through them. The e-mail address continued to be active even as flash.net was bought out by others including Prodigy and (most recently, even though that was years ago) AT&T.
This year, AT&T decided it didn't want to support these "legacy" accounts any more. They notified everyone their web hosting support was going to end. With plenty of warning, my friend moved his web hosting to another organization — after verifying that the e-mail account (which had long since been passed to yahoo) would be unaffected.
Then, this week, he received a very suspicious e-mail, reproduced here:
Given the level of attention AT&T had previously given to former flash.net users, he figured they might not be aware of these messages. He figured he ought to tell them about what he'd received. He went to the att.com pages and found where a sub-page said to report security concerns. He forwarded the suspicious message to them at the e-mail address identified there. His message said:---LAST WARNING---
Tuesday, December 20, 2011 12:18 PM
From: "AT&T Mail Service" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This sender is DomainKeys verified
Due to the congestion in all flash users and removal
of all unused flash Accounts, flash .net would be
shutting down all unused Accounts, You will have to
confirm your E-mail by filling out your Login
Information below after clicking the reply button,
* User name:
* Date of Birth:
* Country Or Territory:
After following the instructions in the sheet, your
account will not be interrupted and will continue as
normal. Thanks for your attention to this request.
We apologize for any inconveniences.
Warning!!!: Account owner that refuses to update
his/her account after three days of receiving this
warning stands the risk of losing his or her account
permanently.No virus found in this incoming message.
Checked by AVG - www.avg.com
Version: 8.5.449 / Virus Database: 271.1.1/3768 -
Release Date: 07/16/11 06:56:00
Thought you should know about this.
(Just in case you didn't already.)
The message bounced. He checked some more and, figuring it was just a glitch, re-sent it like this:
Once again, his message bounced. Once again, he got a message like this:Thought you should know about this. (Just in case you didn't already.)
email@example.com is the address identified to use for this purpose on the
web page http://www.att.com/gen/general?pid=19318
Tuesday, December 20, 2011 4:55 PM
This sender is DomainKeys verified
Sorry, we were unable to deliver your message to the
<firstname.lastname@example.org>: Remote host said: 553 information.
--- Below this line is a copy of the message.
I'm not sure what this means. But if the e-mail address AT&T advertises for reporting security issues doesn't work, that seems to say AT&T doesn't really want to know about them.
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Seventy years ago today, the United States Pacific fleet was attacked by Japanese naval aircraft. Twenty ships were damaged or destroyed, including four battleships sunk or destroyed.
Seventy years later, the USS Arizona still weeps.
There is an interesting sidelight to the attack and the sinking of the Arizona. In battle, the Japanese navy used torpedoes and naval artillery to sink enemy ships. They apparently did not have penetrators armor piercing bombs available for use. In the Pearl Harbor attack, the primary objective was to sink all the U.S. battleships and aircraft carriers or as many of them as they could. They would want to use their bombers in that effort as well as their torpedo planes. To do that, they made their own penetrating bombs, adapting 16" artillery shells for that purpose. It was one of these improvised bombs that destroyed the Arizona and turned it into a cemetery.