June 2002

What’s that crash I hear…?

by Michael Alderete on 6/28/2002

About 45 years tardy, one of our nation’s courts ruled that adding “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance turns it into a state-sponsored (or mandated) prayer, and therefore makes it un-Constitutional.

Now everyone near a microphone or a TV camera is shoving people aside to go on-record as being for the Pledge, and against the non“common-sense” judges.

The fact is, any time Congress is voting to add the word “God” to anything, it’s probably a violation of the separation of church and state.

Dumbya’s assertions notwithstanding, the legal foundation of the United States of America is the Constitution, and if you’ve read it, you may know that the word “God” does not appear anywhere in it.

Senators are rushing to put together a Constitutional amendment to allow the Pledge. Between that and the power grab perpetrated by Bush and abetted by Ashcroft, that crash you hear may well be the shattering of the finest piece of legislation ever enacted.
God Stoppers

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Better spam killer

by Michael Alderete on 6/27/2002

Update: I no longer recommend SpamFire, having found much better tools; see my Personal Survey of Anti-Spam Tools for more current recommendations.

I wrote about a utility called Mailfilter here a while back. While I liked it, after a while I found it to not be flexible enough, and there was no safety net. If it thought a message was spam, it would delete it, and the message was gone forever.

I’ve switched to something called Spamfire. Today it’s Mac OS only (both Classic and Mac OS X), but they are working on a Windows version as well. Except for a few stability issues, Spamfire is just about the perfect personal spam filter.

Spamfire is a commercial product, unlike Mailfilter, but at less than $20 for the “Lite” version it’s well worth it if you’re getting a fair amount of spam in your e-mail inboxes. The things you get with Spamfire, that are not in Mailfilter include:

  • A very well-designed graphical user interface, which makes installation and configuration a breeze
  • A pre-defined suite of effective filters, professionally created by the vendor (with Mailfilter you roll your own)
  • A flexible scoring system (each matching filter adds to a message’s cumulative score), and an adjustable threshold for triggering mail deletion
  • Recoverable mail deletion — just Rescue a message from the Spamfilter application, which holds all deleted messages until you permanently delete them yourself
  • With the Pro version ($29) you get automated (or manual, if you prefer) updates to the application and the spam filters for 12 months (renewable thereafter)

I’m extremely satisfied with Spamfire. Because I can recover from false positives, I can set the filtering to be much more aggressive, which leads to substantially less spam. With Mailfilter I had to be careful, and only delete things that were certainly spam, which meant Mailfilter only cut down the amount, instead of virtually eliminating it.

Highly recommended if you’re tired of spam in your inbox.

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by Michael Alderete on 6/18/2002

Rochelle and I watched Memento off our TiVo last night. Phenomenal movie, truly, along the lines of The Usual Suspects. Highly, highly recommended.

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Attack of the Clones

by Michael Alderete on 6/17/2002

Yes, I finally saw it. It is a little slow/awkward for the first half of the movie or so, and there’s some scenes I’d have left on the floor, but overall the film redeems itself, and ends up being quite a lot of fun. Recommended.

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Making the Web smaller

by Michael Alderete on 6/2/2002

This is a brilliant idea.

The web service TinyURL allows you to take really long URLs and convert them into much shorter ones. This makes it a lot easier, for example, to send links to people via e-mail, where long URLs tend to get munged by e-mail clients.

This is only one of many possible uses, this is a great, flexible service. You can get a feel for how it works right here:

Enter a long URL to make tiny:

If you’ve ever tried to cut-and-paste directions to someplace out of Yahoo! Maps and into an e-mail message, you now know a better way.

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RSS Auto-Discovery

by Michael Alderete on 6/2/2002

I’ve added RSS Auto-Discovery to this site, by modifying the source for monaural jerk, the software that runs this site.

It was a simple add, and the change in output is small, but this is one more ingredient in that very exciting soup I talked about a while back.
RSS Auto-Discovery
monaural jerk
Exciting Stuff

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