September 2004

Background: is a newsgroup for posting copies of spam, so that the domains and servers involved become public record. Gradwell, run by the eponymous Peter, currently host Peter Gradwell objected to my posting copies of spam to the newsgroup because his machines appear in the headers of all my email. <lj-cut text=”Now read on…”>

  Date: Tue, 28 Sep 2004 00:11:16 +0100
  From: Paul Wright <-$P-W$>
  Cc: Peter Gradwell <>
  Subject: policy on .sightings postings (was Re: spam reports in usenet)
  On Mon, 27 Sep 2004, Peter Gradwell wrote:
  > You have reported a spam in
  In fact, I have reported several hundred, I should think, if not more.
  I've not counted then all.
  > Unfortunately, when customers do this it tends to backfire horribly as
  > the mail is seen to pass through our mail forwarding system and we
  > then get accused of spamming.
  Accused by whom? is for posting copies of
  spam with full headers. I tend to obscure my own email addresses so that
  it won't be picked up, but many other posters don't.
  > It takes a lot of time and resources to persuade our server colocation
  > providers that we are not spamming. Usually we are only able to enter
  > into these discussions after we have had our servers unplugged.
  The spam I have posted clearly does not originate at your servers, as
  the headers show it mostly comes via's forwarding service, and
  originates at open proxy servers (usually in the Far East). If your
  colocation providers are really so clueless, I would be concerned for
  the reliablity of your internet services, in any case.
  > I must therefore insist that you immediately
  >          - post a followup message to your posting pointing out that
  >          we have nothing to do with the origination of this spam and
  >          that you did not intend to cause us to be associated with it.
  For the avoidance of doubt, I make it clear that Gradwell's machines did
  not originate any of the spam which I have posted to
  I shall post a copy of this email to both and I hope that will suffice.
  >          - cease posting spam reports of this nature that include our
  >          mail servers in the headers.
  I shall certainly do so.
  > If we receive another spam report originating from yourself that
  > detriments our good standing in the community we will be forced to
  > terminate your account without further notice.
  Coo. I believe your policy is misguided but be assured I shall abide by
  it for as long as you continue to host my domain.
  Paul Wright | |
  Reply address is valid but discards anything which isn't plain text

Now, I would have been OK had he not made that threat at the very end. We could have come to an arrangement, or discussed the problem. As it is, come renewal time, I’m gone. I hear Black Cat Networks are cheaper. 😉

Update: of course, I’m still there as I’m far too busy to work out how to transfer the domain. Still not particularly impressed, OTOH, they’re technically competant and have a nice interface.

It was the year of fire. The year of destruction. The year we took back what was ours. It was the year of rebirth. The year of great sadness. The year of pain. And the year of joy. It was a new age. It was the end of history. It was the year everything changed.

The year was 2003. The place: Cambridge. Right, readers?

I started the Losing My Religion essay because I was angry. I finish it now because I am not (and because I happen to have a free Sunday, which also makes sense if you think about it). I’ve not really added much to the page itself: since so much discussion has gone on here, much of the new material is links to pages on LiveJournal. But in any case, the thing is done.

The talk continues, as always. livredor‘s posting about a Christunfriend’s blog leads us to a discussion of prayer in Christianity, and of whether Jews, Muslims and Christians worship the same God. Off to post some more.

Courtesy of someone who knew I’d like the quote:

Insofar as I may be heard by anything, which may or may not care what I say, I ask, if it matters, that you be forgiven for anything you may have done or failed to do which requires forgiveness. Conversely, if not forgiveness but something else may be required to insure any possible benefit for which you may be eligible after the destruction of your body, I ask that this, whatever it may be, be granted or withheld, as the case may be, in such a manner as to ensure your receiving said benefit. I ask this in my capacity as your elected intermediary between yourself and that which may not be yourself, but which may have an interest in the matter of your receiving as much as it is possible for you to receive of this thing, and which may in some way be influenced by this ceremony. Amen.

— Roger Zelazny, Creatures of Light and Darkness

Linkage: Beautiful photographs of Cambridge.

Via sjdr, who is a LJ-friend of a LJ-friend, comes a new rhumba for General Dancing: I speak of the top one listed here. Actually, it’s a little fast, but it’s a nice idea. While I was out searching for what that rhythm is actually called (I think it’s a bossa nova, myself), I found animations of ballroom dances. Neat, although expensive if you want to see anything other than the basic steps.

ladysisyphus writes that Jesus has laser beams. As does Aslan, which makes sense if you think about it.

It turns out that Macs have speech synthesis built in. It’s not bad, and it’s easily accessible to programmers. So I’ve spent an entertaining evening making my MUD client talk. That way, if the window is hidden, I still find out when someone interesting logs in. I’ve ended up using MudWalker, a free, open source MUD client for Mac OS X. It’s scriptable in Lua, and helpfully provides a speak function to Lua scripts. The thing prospective programmers will want to know is that your regular expression match groups (the things Perl would call $1 and so on) are arg[n] to the Lua scripts you can use to write triggers. For console use, I’d still recommend Crystal as a good MUD client, but it turns out to be a bugger trying to get that to talk (Crystal is supposedly scriptable in Lua, but my attempts killed it).

Also been looking at Twisted, Python’s marvelous asynchronous mouse organ networked application framework thingy. It seems that as well as being very clever, it’s actually reasonably well documented these days. The Perspective Broker and Avatar stuff seems to be a good fit for games where the players can write code which is not trusted by the system, since the choice of which methods allow remote access imposes some sort of capability based access control. If I ever wrote a MUD in Python, something I’ve been threatening for some years now, Twisted would be the way forward (indeed, it was originally created to provide multiplayer interactive fiction in the form of Twisted Reality, another addition to fine the fine Internet tradition of hugely ambitious, but largely unfinished, MUD servers).

It’d probably be easier just to do this in Java. Python’s restricted execution stuff is not really there, so if you wanted to allow players to program (which I think is essential for holding people’s interest once they’ve finished the game proper) you’d probably end up running untrusted code in another process and using PB to talk back to the server. Still, it’s a nice dream. I saw that the author of MudWalker has got a prototype MUD written in E, the capability-based security language, which might well be worth a look too.

I much prefer old, depressive-to-rival-Leonard-Cohen Counting Crows to new, happy Counting Crows.

It’s quieter now all those weddings and barbeques have subsided for a bit. Me and she had a lovely evening with Gareth and Emma the other night. Gareth is the Scourge of Uk.religion.christian, putting nutters to flight with his rapier-like logic. Or something.

I remember mentioning Leonard Richardson’s Guess the Verb interactive fiction game, Munchkin, and opportunitygrrl (whose interests include geology, interplanetary video feeds, Mars, and Christina Aguilera).

Speaking of interactive fiction, I remember I promised terriem some links to IF works recommended by S. terriem also pointed me at Kingdom of Loathing, which I’ve not tried yet. I played through Slouching Towards Bedlam and enjoyed it, although I did have to resort to the help a couple of times. Still, the story’s the thing in this one, not the puzzles so much.

S also recommended 9:05 (which is short and funny in a twisted sort of way), and Spider and Web (which I’ve played a little way, and which is apparently longer). Get them from Home of the Underdogs in their IF section. To play them, you’ll need an interpreter which runs the files. On the Mac, I got Frotz from Fink for the .z5 files and MaxTADs for the TADS ones. This page lists IF interpreters for Windows. There’s a selection of Beginner’s Guides to help with the conventions of the medium.

The TouchGraph LiveJournal Browser is a rather pretty toy. It uses LJ’s machine-readable user information to plot nice graphs of the friend and interest relationships (if you just want to see the friend relationships, nudge the max and min interest popularity settings so they’re close together). Double-click on another user and their friends appear, with the graph shuffling itself around to accommodate them. Load up someone with lots of friends and watch the thing grind to a halt. Super.

It’s written in Java, so it runs on my Mac (and presumably under Linux). If you’re not on Windows, use the command line from the batch file which comes with it, but replace the semi-colons in the class path with colons. It is, as numerous people have said, all good.

Had a gluttonous weekend, dining in a posh restaurant (well, it was a special occasion) and going to PaulB’s barbeque. My stomach has just about recovered now.