5/14/8: Tech Support 

My company has been trying out dozen anti-spam products to see what will work and what won't work for our company. We haven't really been being all that picky, but one thing we won't be trying is a challenge response system.

I was attempting to explain this to them, but I ran into the following.

Olesya: Hello!
jettero: hiya
Olesya: How can I help you?
jettero: how do you disable the challenge response system?
jettero: hello?
Olesya: sorry, do you mean the pop-up window that asks you if you are 
    still on site?
jettero: no... we're demo-ing this anti-spam system and I don't 
    believe we can use it. It seems to employ an antiquated challenge 
    response system (http://www.google.com/search?q=challenge+response); 
    which is a wrong headed technology that's being phased out everywhere...
jettero: I'm looking for a way to disable it, since there's no 
    possible way we could use this product (even for free) the way it is.
Olesya: sec
Olesya: do you mean the impossibility of logging in through ssl?
jettero: wow, no...
jettero: I'll try my tech contact via email. Thanks for your help though.
—tech support chatlog

I did revert to email following the discussion.


3/3/8: Possum 

I posted this a few years ago on an unrelated message forum. I'm posting it here for someone at work. This really did happen to me, pretty much just like you're about to read.

So... I took my dog out for the last walk of the night. She took off like a shot toward the back of my yard, chasing something grey. Well, something maybe. It was dark. It appeared to hide and she dragged it out from under the logs at the back of the yard.

Knowing that you can catch worms from eating rats and things, I called the dog in and jumped around excitedly, with the dog, telling my wife that our dog is a vicious killer. What did she kill? Dunno, but it had a real long tail.

So she sends me back out there with a trash bag and I operate my flashlight and discover that it was in fact, a possum. An ugly dead one with giant vicious teeth. I don't know much about throwing out animals, but I know you shouldn't put alive ones in the trash. So I kicked it. Didn't seem dead. I turned it over and over with the shovel. Didn't seem dead, but wasn't alive. Rigger mortis? [sp?]

I'm not what you'd call a great outdoorsman. Whatever. I decided to skip the trash bag and tossed out the alive/dead possum -- I have a giant 60 gallon trash container.

Yeah, I'm inside explaining this animal to my wife. What a dreadful creature. She said, "was it bleeding or anything?"

Then it occurs to me: When they were talking about those evil CIA agents that strung up that Iraqi prisoner with the broken wrists that wasn't responding and the CIA agent was like, "he's faking" and they were like "no" and he was like "he's faking." And the guard thinking the guy is dead says, "If he's playin' possum ... then he's real good at it." I'd never heard the expression before, but I meant to look it up on the net. Do possums play dead?

Did I throw away an alive possum?

So I race back out there. The trash can is making all sorts of noises. Using the shovel I tip it over. Drag out some trash. More trash. There's no ffffing possum in here. More trash ... WOAH. There's a pissed off possum in my trash can!

It raced into the garage and under my car. Meh. I'm off to bed. The garage door is open a little bit. I think my wife took pictures, but it's dark. I could hear her laughing because she opened the window so I could hear her laughing.

—paul@monkeybox 12/15/2005


1/29/8: Heegner Numbers 

I've been reading a book on abstract algebra (ISBN-0387948481) and I ran into something shockingly strange.

It came up while learning to picture field extensions as vector spaces. For example, say we have a field extension K/F where K=ℚ(√2) and F=ℚ. ℚ(√2), in case you don't know, is numbers of the form a+b√2 — really, it specifically includes their reciprocals, but they can be re-written as a+b√2.

It is because all the numbers in ℚ(√2) can be written as the linear combination of two elements in ℚ(√2), and that both of the coefficients (a and b) are in ℚ, that K=ℚ(√2) forms a 2-dimensional vector space over the field F=ℚ. Well, that's the short version of the story anyway.

It turns out Guass (1777-1855) was interested in field extensions like this. He was particularly fond of one flavor of them. Apparently, as a hobby, he was looking for all values of d such that ∀q∈ℚ(√-d) (where q is also in ℤ), q can be written uniquely as a product of prime numbers.

It took a while for people to accept Heegner's 1952 proof, but there are apparently only nine such values for d: 1, 2, 3, 7, 11, 19, 43, 67, 163. They are called Heegner Numbers

Isn't that remarkable!?


11/8/7: Do Not Call 

The national do not call list really does work. I can count the number of tele-calls I get in a month on a single hand. Some of them are illegal, but I've never exerted the effort to do anything about it. I just read on slashdot that the FTC will be doing that for me. At least someone in the government is representing me.

If congress doesn't make the thing permanent, it's just more evidence (like we need more) that they're for sale to the highest bidder; in this case, the telemarketing lobbies. In fact, this is probably the best example there is. Why would there be any resistance to something consumers definitely do want (as evidenced by their signing up for it).

Furthermore, there shouldn't be any exceptions from the list for anyone that says they don't want any exceptions. No political calls, no polls, and no previous business relationships, thanks.

Leave me alone,


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