Spam, spim, spit

A week of IT

Spam, spim, spit

One of the insights former US presidential cybersecurity advisor Richard A Clarke gave when he visited New Zealand recently was that spam is now being propagated by means other than plain old email. There's such a thing as Spim, or spam over instant messaging, he told the audience at a breakfast in Auckland. And according to our US sister publication InfoWorld another form of spam, called spit, is also emerging — spit stands for spam over internet telephony and is something for VoIP sites to watch out for. Thankfully, New Zealanders have so far been relatively unaffected by spam over SMS, an emerging annoyance that we referred to in a story last year as UCT, short for Unsolicited Commercial TXT.

Not-so-serious storage

Storage and humour don't generally go together, but storage vendors Brocade and StorageTek have had a go at lightening up their important but terminology-heavy trade. They put out a media release recently which began "No SAN is an island". Very droll, guys. What other puns can be made from storage terminology? SCSI logic is one that springs to mind and let's not forget EMC and BMC's deal over BMC Patrol last year, which created the opportunity for headlines playing on the similarity of the two vendors' names.

That tree is frying my brains

Cellphone companies, it seems, will do anything to hide their transmission towers even to the extent of disguising one as a church steeple complete with a crucifix. “Can you hear me now O’Lord,” commented Boingboing.net when it noted a website that specialises in photos of such installations. At least one company in the US, Larson Camouflage, specialises in hiding the towers. They’re disguised as building additions, pine trees, palms, and cactii, depending on the climate of the locality. The greater number of branches or arms the flora has, the greater the number of channels the tower handles. Cellphone equipment as even been installed in a public park disguised as a huge boulder. It has a hatch on top for servicing.

Saved by phone

A mobile phone saved a man's life when it stopped a crossbow bolt in Australia. Michael Brown escaped with nothing more than an injured finger in the attack near Brisbane, reports the Herald Sun (via Ananova). Prosecutor Tim Ryan told the Surpreme Court that Mr Brown, 33, was targeted by a man who thought he was working for the police. Robert Scanlon, 31, was sentenced to 12 years' jail after pleading guilty to attempted murder and drug possession. Scanlon planned the attack after Mr Brown approached him to buy 4.5kg of marijuana. He bought the crossbow at an archery store and practised before hiding it in bushland. But when he finally fired a bolt in anger, it stuck in the mobile phone Brown was carrying in his shirt pocket. Scanlon ran off but was later arrested and charged.

Boys' own website

Executives of a publishing company that set up a successful first portal for British teenage girls, Mykindaplace.com, are keeping their fingers crossed as they prepare to launch a similar website for notoriously fickle teen boys called Monkeyslum.com. Teenage boys are in the vanguard of an internet publishing revolution, says Guardian writer Sean Hargrave, but it’s not an easy row to hoe. "Teenage boys are notoriously difficult to reach," admits Charlie Redmayne, managing director of Monkeyslum and the girls’ site Mykindaplace. "They get into a particular hobby and devour magazines on the subject but don't find a commonality of interests like girls do. A girl might be into horses, say, but will still be into fashion, music, gossip, makeup and boys." Redmayne says his company believes it's the right time to launch a general site for boys. "They're now far more interested in lifestyle than they used to be because they get involved in the lives of their football or film heroes and want to know what clothes they're wearing, who they're dating, which clubs they use and what they drink, and so on," he says. The idea behind Monkeyslum is to give the boys all the football, cars, computer games and general interest content they could ever want under one roof, says Hargrave.

I spy

Every wondered why, when you read the newspapers or watch TV news and current affairs programmes, you sometimes feel a bit uneasy about whether or not what you’ve just learned is true, partly true, or even a lie, or that perhaps key facts were withheld (Computerworld excepted, of course — Ed). Censors may have been at work and that’s of particular interest to Sonoma University in California which has a interest in censorship in all its forms. It's put the issue under the microscope in a study appropriately called Project Censored and published on its website what it says are the top 25 censored media stories of 2003-2004, albeit with a US emphasis. Examples: the media can legally lie; wealth inequality in 21st century threatens economy and democracy; new nuke plants: taxpayers support, industry benefits and forcing a world market for GMOs. Caveat: some of the web pages may not be available perhaps because they’ve been censored!

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