Sunday, November 13, 2005

Java 6 Release Candidate is out

I missed it. A Java 6 Release Candidate, build 60, was released November 10th. I've downloaded and installed it on both Windows XP and SuSE 10. I have, of course, started up my current NetBeans 5 Q-build under 6 on both platforms, and it performs quite well. The only complaint I have is the startup speed: NetBeans 5 10/31 Q-build starts slower under RC than it did under Beta.

The other big change, at least for Linux, is that the native Gtk support is much cleaner than I've seen for quite some time (see below).

As you can see, Java has clearly picked up the Gnome desktop theme I currently have. In the past the Java Gtk theme defaulted to some horrible grey-and-line-based look. This actually looks good for stock JFC client applications. Unfortunately, turning on the GTK style for NetBeans 5 still leaves a lot to be desired. Which is a shame, since NetBeans 5 on Windows XP has a beautiful theme that matches the Windows XP theme. What's more, sub-pixel anti-aliasing is now on by default, so the command-line switch required earlier is no longer needed.

Working with graph examples in NetBeans 5

After downloading and building graph, I decided to see if I could create a graph example project in NetBeans 5. I started to create a Java application that would incorporate the sources, but that failed. What I quickly discovered is that I could just open graph/examples as a project. I was surprised by this because when I tried to open graph by itself (before I downloaded the support projects nbbuild and openide) it would fail. This time it opened without a hitch. I was even able to open the run dialog in Matisse.

What I also discovered is that double clicking on the editor's tab for a given file expands the editor to fill the entire IDE window. That may sound trivial, but it's very nice to just hide everything but the file you're working on. One feature I really miss from the current emacs emulation is the ability to split screen, and then move back and forth between them via the keyboard. You can split the screen horizontally by grabbing an editor tab and moving towards the top or bottom as needed, but the keyboard method is faster.


I spoke too soon. Here is an example of two views of the same file, side-by-side. This is what I like about emacs. I achieved this by selecting a document and then dropping it on the right side of the IDE to get the vertical split. Then I selected the document and executed Windows | Clone Document. It's a little more elaborate than I like, but I'm looking into binding key strokes to menu actions.

Building the NetBeans 5 graph project

There's an interesting NetBeans 5 project called graph.
Graph Library has been designed to support visualization and editing of node-edge structures using drag'n'drop style of work.

The library has been used in the Visual Designer in NetBeans Mobility Pack 4.1.
The directions for how to acquire and build graph are a bit cryptic. What follows are the steps I followed to download and build graph.
  1. Create a top-level directory to hold everything. In my case I created one called 'netbeans'.
  2. Change directory into netbeans, and log into the NetBeans cvs: "cvs -d :pserver:[login-name] login". Note that you'll have to register and have a login-name to start with.
  3. Checkout three modules; graph, nbbuild, and openide: "cvs -d checkout graph", "cvs -d checkout nbbuild", and "cvs -d checkout openide". When you're finished, you should have three directories named graph, nbbuild, and openide under your current top-level directory.
  4. cd down to nbbuild and run ant. Ignore any errors at this point.
  5. cd down to openide/util and run ant.
  6. cd down to graph/lib and run ant. You should successfully build the jar file. The jar file is back under nbbuild, in the directory nbbuild/netbeans/extra/modules.
  7. cd down to graph/vmd and run ant. You should successfully build the jar file and it will be in the same location as the library file.
  8. cd down to graph/examples and run ant. Not only will the application be built, but the application will run and display a run dialog (see right).
And that's about the size of it so far. I will say that it was easier and faster to just use the command-line cvs tool rather than the built-in cvs capabilities of either NetBeans 5 or Eclipse. I did have to use the better browse feature of Eclipse 3 (3.2 M3) to look at the repository and find out which additional modules to check out, based on the initial dependency failures when building graph for the first time. Once you set up a cvs checkout, you can use NetBeans 5 to keep it up to date. But getting it going exclusively through NetBeans is still quite a bit rough.

But that's really beside the point. I'll make it work because of what that package has to offer. One of the selections is DND (Drag-N-Drop), which you see a screenshot of below. I can quite easily see where it would fit into a project I am currently involved with. Not just the graph module, but even using NetBeans 5 as a rich client platform, and even throwing in some of the more interesting widgets on the SwingX project.

I need a GUI application that allows me to quickly build up a schematic showing relationships and information flows between elements and then to use that schematic to 'program' a larger system-of-systems to perform a task. The SoS needs to be flexible enough that it can be pulled apart (like Legos) and rebuilt to do something else with a mere restart of the overall system.

Every time I think I have NetBeans all figured out and ready to wash my hands of it and stick with Eclipse, they go and pull out something like this. And this is a good thing.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

A report on NetBeans 5 10/31 Q-build

Although I reported here that I had pretty much abandoned NetBeans for Eclipse, I still feel the need to look at it and gauge its progress. It's foolish to ignore anything as complex and sophisticated as NetBeans, and just because it doesn't work for me right now doesn't mean it won't work later, and it certainly doesn't mean it won't work for others. For this look I downloaded and installed the October 31st Q-build on both SuSE 10 Linux and Windows XP SP2. All of the following comments come from my using it under Linux.

I grabbed the Q-build rather than the daily because the dailies are just too unstable. For example, I grabbed the November 8th daily and discovered it wouldn't even install. For a decent combination of bleeding-edge features and stability, the Q-builds are probably your best bet. For extensive testing on Linux I also grabbed the Mobility Pack and Profiler M9. I installed everything and then went and picked up some modules I'd found useful in the past. I'd also installed the latest Java 6, build 59, which is now officially a beta. I am running NetBeans 5 on Java 6 on both Linux and Windows.

When I started up NetBeans I went to tweak something via the Options dialog. That caused an immediate exception dialog. Having had earlier experience with NetBeans 5 dev I did the standard NB5DEV two-step tango to determine this problem. First I deleted ~/.netbeans/dev which contains my NetBeans preferences and other cached information, and restarted NetBeans. I still got the Options exception. Then I completely un-installed NetBeans 5 and started over, installing one piece at a time and then testing. Sure enough, I discovered that installing Profiler M9 caused the Options dialog to fail. So I finished re-installing NetBeans without Profiler and went on testing other features.

As you can see in the following dialog, I'm running on Java 6, Linux, and an x86 processor.

I'm running NetBeans with Java 6 to get Java 6's text sub-pixel anti-aliasing. I turned that feature on with the command-line switch -Dswing.aatext=true. That simple switch makes NetBeans 5 a lot easier to look at on notebooks, especially mine.

The first "real" task I attempted was to import a fairly large Eclipse 3.1 project. I have, for some time now, OpenMap 4.6.2 as an Eclipse project. I imported it because I was using it as part of an even larger project, again under Eclipse. I made sure that I had loaded the Eclipse project import module through the Update Center. I then went looking for a way to import the Eclipse project. I found it under File | Import Project | Eclipse Project... I would have expected to find it by right clicking on the Projects view and importing from there (like Eclipse), but it's not there. This seems to violate, in a minimal way, the rule of least surprise. Especially if your an Eclipse user, since you can import projects using those steps. The next surprise was that it failed in my first attempt (see below).

The clue to what I did wrong was in the error message: the importer was looking for a workspace, not an individual project. You'd think I'd have correctly read the instructions at the top where it asks for a workspace, not a project. But then it goes on to say "or the project folder to import". I think that the engineer responsible for this needs to either correct the directions at the top of the wizard or fix the ability to import a single Eclipse project.

It was simple for me to just back up to the workspace folder. When I did, I was presented with a list of projects in the workspace folder.

I selected the project to import and supplied the NetBeans project root, then clicked finish. During the importation process I got a pop-up describing a problem with the project. I was referencing a JDK from the Windows partition that it didn't understand, and it told me it was using the default NetBean's JDK (platform). Since there wasn't much I could do, I clicked OK and it finished the import.

As I wrote earlier, I re-installed this version in order to get Options to work. And it was a good thing. I used the Options dialog to select the Emacs key bindings and to change the look of the editor. I started with Fonts & Colors and selected the City Lights profile (basically light text on a black background). I then went in and tweaked some of the colors so it looked pretty much like my color selections on Emacs.

I also turned on line numbering off to the side.


The stability and speed of this release of NetBeans 5 is excellent from the little I have worked with it, especially running on Java 6 build 59. In addition to importing from Eclipse I also opened up some older NetBeans 5 projects, such as my collection of Matisse UI projects. Nothing seems to have changed over the last few months, and I did not have any problems viewing or working with them. One last point to make about importing Eclipse projects. The project files were created in my NetBeans project area, but the source files were not copied over. I would strongly advise that import perform a copy, or else provide a check box so that you can explicitly perform a copy. In my unique case the project remains on the Windows C drive under Linux, which is unfortunate in that it's on NTFS and the Linux drivers do not allow file system writes except under very explicit circumstances. I've gone to the trouble to manually copy the entire project over and I've now got a modifiable NetBeans project. Other than that surprise, NetBeans appears to be on track for an excellent release in the near future.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The promise of World Wind realized

In this posting I complained about NASA's World Wind application. I then went googling for the Mono version, and found Miguel de Icaza's blog entry about a re-implementation that runs on Linux. He wrote about it running with Mono, but he also had a link to a version written in Java at BerliOS called WWD2. So I downloaded it, followed the directions for setting it up, and execute it. And boy, was I pleasantly surprised. It actually works, and it works really well. Look at the two screen shots that follow and compare them with the Windows World Wind version. While the Linux version doesn't have all the bells and whistles, it does the key things right, especially when you zoom in. One other thing: the two screen shots are again of Orlando International Airport. The images look to be identical, down to the individual aircraft on the taxiways. In the case of WWD2, there are no annoying 'Google' copyright notices plastered all over the place. And the image actually looks better. So I take back what I said about Google Maps being superior, at least for Linux.

The first image capture (above) using WWD2.

The second image capture from Google Maps. I have noticed how much of the screen is taken up by whitespace, especially off to the left. The WWD2 version, in contrast, devotes all its window area to displaying the image.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

The mess we're in

Two stories that point out the mess the world is in: one concerns the US and one concerns Europe.

In the US John McCain, Republican senator from Arizona, has vowed to add an amendment to every bill going before the President that bans torturing prisoners of war by U.S. interrogators.
Speaking from the Senate floor, McCain said, "If necessary - and I sincerely hope it is not - I and the co-sponsors of this amendment will seek to add it to every piece of important legislation voted on in the Senate until the will of a substantial bipartisan majority in both houses of Congress prevails. Let no one doubt our determination."
How did we get into this mess? John McCain himself was a prisoner of war in Vietnam and was tortured by the North Vietnamese. I'm a Democrat, but I have always respected and admired John McCain, both for what he's lived through as well as how he's lived his life. I'm waiting for the Republican lapdogs on talk radio to denigrate Mr. McCain, to tear down the man on nothing more than rumor and innuendo. They do that so well in defense of the current administration.

In Europe they seem to have a serious problem. Mark Steyn, writing for the Chicago Sun-Times, talks about the "Eurabian civil war." He points out why the Europeans, in particular the French and Germans, did not want to get involved with the Iraq war;
If you had millions of seething unassimilated Muslim youths in lawless suburbs ringing every major city, would you be so eager to send your troops into an Arab country fighting alongside the Americans? For half a decade, French Arabs have been carrying on a low-level intifada against synagogues, kosher butchers, Jewish schools, etc. The concern of the political class has been to prevent the spread of these attacks to targets of more, ah, general interest. They seem to have lost that battle. Unlike America's Europhiles, France's Arab street correctly identified Chirac's opposition to the Iraq war for what it was: a sign of weakness.
The article might have a strong conservative slant (the phrase "complacent and blinkered as John Kerry" sort of gives you that feeling), but the truth of the matter can't be hidden. The rioting has been going on in France since October 27th with the accidental death of two Moroccan youths. They've been burning cars, churches, and stores; they've been attacking police and civilians. It's a state of anarchy that's been brewing for a long time. It's not just limited to France, but it's a problem in every major European nation. A problem that compromises any trust we could put in the old NATO alliance nations. And a strong indicator of why America allegedly went open-loop when it decided to invade Iraq. We might have been wrong about WMDs, but who could we really count on for honest intelligence? The UN? The Europeans? We've already seen how far the oil-for-food corruption has penetrated into the UN and other European nations. And fodder for Al-Qaeda violence surrounds just about every major city, holding Europe hostage.

What a mess.

World Wind just so much hot air

Nasa's World Wind is a fat-client application that allows you to view the earth, moon, Mars, and Titan using satellite information to render "terrain in visually rich 3D, just as if you were really there." I downloaded the latest from the World Wind website ( and installed it.

I installed the application while running on Windows XP SP2. It in turn installed 'managed' DirectX 9, which was basically DirectX 9c. After the installation was complete I had two icons on my desktop. One was for World Wind 1.3, and the other was for World Wind Moon 1.3. Which leads to a problem with the application (at least for me): it's written in C# and the version supplied by Nasa will only run on Windows. There is, however, activity afoot to port it to Mono on Linux.

I opened up both applications, first the moon, and then the earth. When both initially open they present a beautiful 3D view of the moon and the earth. And the interface is easy enough to learn so that I was both panning and zooming within five minutes of starting the applications. But I quickly learned that World Wind has poor resolution at high zoom levels and consumes 100% of the CPU at those high zoom levels.

Using the earth viewer as my prime example, I attempted to zoom into two areas on the earth that I'm somewhat familiar with: Orlando, Florida where I live, and New Orleans where an aunt and uncle of mine lived for nearly 20 years. In both cases World Wind could not resolve anything of significant detail at either location. Instead, I had to use Google Map to resolve details which World Wind could not.

First, we look at Orlando International Airport with World Wind.

Then we look at Orlando International Airport with Google Map.

Next, we look at New Orleans and the Louisiana Superdome with World Wind.

Then we compare that with Google Maps, this time looking at the images taken after Katrina.

As you can see from my screen shots the World Wind close-up resolution is horrible. I might concede that it's due to operator error, but even if I could correct the resolution, the system impact after zooming in close makes using World Wind pointless. When zoomed in to the levels shown in the screen shots, World Wind was consuming 100% of the CPU. Google Maps with Firefox, by comparison, only spiked briefly to around 70% as map tiles were being downloaded and displayed on the map. Otherwise the Google Map/Firefox combination had no impact on the system at all.

Nasa's World Wind is, from my perspective, bloated, poorly designed and written. For maps and satellite imagery we're far better served by Google Maps.

Java upgrades and releases

Perusing the Sun Java site, I came across the latest version of Java 1.4.2, release 10. There's a set of release notes that cover 59 fixes across a wide range of subsystems. The bug fixes continue with Java 1.4.2, which should make those who are of a conservative mind feel easier. I'm still waiting for Java 5 update 6. That release was hinted at by the NetBeans 5 bug site in one of it's numerous drop-down list boxes.

Java 6 continues on with Build 59. It was dropped November 3rd. It's the first build that I've installed that comes with the complete Java installer. I had to be careful this time not to install the JRE. I run Java 6 with Java 5 and make sure not to install multiple JREs. It just makes it easier that way. Based on my prelimary runs of various applications, it's performance continues to get better and better. What's more, running the Windows XP look-and-feel makes the application look like a native Windows application. That look, coupled with Java 6's very fast startup and high execution performance makes Java 6 applications look like native Windows (C++) applications.

The same can't be said for the Linux side of things. I've been testing Java 6 with SuSE 10 and its performance is not as great for Linux as it is for Windows on the exact same hardware platform. Further, the look-and-feel support for GNOME (2.12) is horrible. Flame all you want, but Windows provides a superior Java experience over Linux, especially if you're writing client applications.

Speaking of NetBeans, The QBuild for October 31st is out and available. Unlike the much older beta that was released the last week of September, this version has quite a few bugs squashed and quite a bit more stability than either the beta or the bleeding-edge daily drops. I still don't believe NB5 is going to be useful until Java 6 is released, but if you're curious as to what they're up to, then go download a copy and install it.

IBM has just released its version of Java 5 for Linux. The only problem is that it's only for Linux. One other note. Don't use the Download Director to get the download. It's Java-based, poorly written, and a mess when executing inside of Firefox (a bit ironic, ain't it?). It's faster just to get the download via HTTP. I haven't had a chance to install it yet on SuSE 10 and run some benchmarks, but I'm curious to see if the IBM implementation of Java 5 on Linux is any faster than Sun's.

Eclipse also dropped another milestone Friday, November 4th. Milestone 3 is the latest release in the upcoming 3.2 series. While NetBeans stives to add features to compete with Eclipse, Eclipse continues to add polish, stability, and more speed to the existing excellent platform. You should check out the New and Noteworthy section for a complete list of important changes and features. I was intrigued by the addition of OpenGL support to SWT widgets. This is going to make building graphics-intensive plugins and RCP-based applications very interesting, and is a solid answer to Sun's Java 2D and 3D implementation.

I've pretty much abandoned NetBeans. For day-to-day Java development Eclipse still provides a superior environment. The only area where Eclipse lacks is with regards to widget layout on forms. Matisse appears, at first blush, to provide a much superior layout facility to that found in Eclipse. But as I've discovered time after time, it's implementation on NetBeans 5 is flawed and unstable, rendering the promised superiority of Matisse moot. I'll look at it again when NetBeans is finally released, but NetBeans will never replace Eclipse on my machine, and I have a feeling that it won't on a lot of other machines. It might be installed side-by-side with Eclipse just to use Matisse, but I'm not even sure I'll do that. If I've got to go to that much trouble, then I'll buy a commercial UI tool or Eclipse plugin and do the job right.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

No Sony for me!

I am not a big fan of Sony. I have resisted buying Sony products for years because of the poor quality of just about everything they sell and their drive to force consumers to use Sony-specific peripherals, such as their overly expensive Memory Stick. Not only has their poor quality effected consumers who directly purchase Sony products, but it has also effected other manufacturers who use Sony OEM products in their consumer products. In the later category is the recent CCD quality control issue that effects Fuji Film, Canon, Nikon, Konica-Minolta, Ricoh, and Olympus.

Now it's being reported that some of Sony's music CDs contain Digital Rights Management (DRM) software that installs a rootkit on your Windows machine. In an article by Mark Russinovich, Mark provides extensive details on how, without any notice, Sony software installed their rootkit on his machine to control how the Van Zant brother's Get Right with the Man could be played on his PC. You should follow the link and read every word, and pay special attention to what he had to do in order to rid his system of the Sony provided rootkit. Sony is rapidly becoming a company that is not to be trusted in any form.

This paranoia towards consumers and a desire to have total control over their preciousss content resonates with another article written by Jon Stokes at ArsTechnica. The article, titled Waiting on a Revolution: a look ahead at the next-generation console wars details his ideas on what to expect when Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony ship their respective game consoles. What caught my eye was his theory on what Sony was after with their PS3 console, and why:
As for Sony, I'll just ask a simple question: who here has ever used a Sony device that connected to a PC? If you have, then you know where I'm going with this. The PC software side of Sony's "connected" devices is just awful. The company is obsessed with digital piracy, and the PC interfaces for their digital devices are invariably buggy, intrusive, slow, and almost seem to be designed to make the user just give up and buy Sony physical media.

Regarding the network angle, Sony has nothing like Passport or Windows Media Center, but even if they do manage to make the PS3 interact somehow with the PC then what are the odds of the experience not being bad? Actually, I'll tell you the odds: they're zero. That's because the PS3 isn't made to be connected to PCs, which are nasty little piracy-enabling devices that Sony's media arm doesn't trust with its precious music and movie content. Better to keep that stuff off the PC entirely and have it move in its own separate Sony ecosystem.

To this end, the Playstation 3 is made to connect with two things:
  1. Other PS3s and/or various Cell-based and Sony-blessed (if not Sony-produced) entertainment devices such as DVD players, TVs, etc.
  2. Sony's "Playstation World" online service.

Sony therefore envisions an alternate, proprietary universe of its own making, consisting solely of devices that are DRMed to the gills and that connect in a trusted and secure manner to each other and to Sony's online entertainment hub. Sony will use the PlayStation 3 to invite you and your credit card into that alternate, sealed-off universe and to live, play, and consume content, all via the security of Cell + HDMI + Blu-ray + Sony only knows what else.

The advent of the PS3 and the coming wider array of Cell-based products signals that Sony is tired of trying to make their products and content work securely with the PC, so they've decided instead to have a go at simply replacing it. The PS3 isn't a convergence device, but a sort of anti-PC that takes Sony's practice of proprietary everything to the next logical and global, networked level. Sony is through trying to get along with the Internet and the PC, so they'd like to take their toys and leave.
Yep. That just about fits in with the rootkit episode and my own dissatisfaction with the Sony-way-is-the-only-way attitude towards peripherals I can easily purchase and add to Sony gear. And that's rather sad. I really like the PSP. I've actually held one in my hands and had it demonstrated with a game, and I have to admit it is pretty slick. But not slick enough to get me to part with my hard-earned cash. The movies and games that can play on the PSP come on proprietary micro-disks, and the movies won't play anywhere else except on the PSP.

As an old guy, I grew up in a generation that built electronic hardware from Heathkits and other such manufacturers, that built their first personal computers from scratch, and that grew up thinking we'd always be able to get inside and down to the metal of just about anything electronic we purchased. And we also grew up thinking that when we purchased it we owned it. But over the decades that basic right as been eroded to the point where all we do is pay for the media and the distribution labor. According to major players such as Sony (and even Microsoft) we don't actually own the content, and we can suffer great retribution if we don't use the content exactly as they demand. And that's where I draw the line. Call me silly, or call it cutting off my nose to spite my face, but I don't have to buy from Sony or anybody else with such an attitude (i.e. Apple). Because of the RIAA's legal rampages against the file sharers, I no longer purchase music CDs (and I slowed down anyway a long time ago because the music was crap). Because the MPAA is trying to follow in the RIAA's footsteps, I've cut back considerably going to movies (of course, once again poor quality, every higher ticket prices, and the 15-20 minutes of commercials before each movie has also had an impact).

And now Sony wants to up the ante by extending their dominion over my personal computer because I gave them money to purchase one of their music CDs. I think I've reached a point where I'm tired of Sony quality, Sony movies, Sony music, and Sony everything else. Once upon a time it was neat to own Sony. Not anymore. I hope Sony gets their head handed back to them next year in the upcoming game console wars. I hope that Microsoft and Nintendo are quite successful. Sony has replaced Apple at the top of my list of consumer electronic companies to avoid at all cost.
While I was writing this, BetaNews published Sony to Help Remove its DRM Rootkit. The company that created the rootkit for Sony, First 4 Internet, will publish a patch to help remove the rootkit on the Sony BMG site. But it still doesn't change anything. It should have never gotten this far in the first place.

Now the Iranians are after me.

First the Royal Bank of Scotland wanted to give me a large sum of money. Now the Iranians are trying to best the Scots. The Scots, cheapskates that they are, only wanted to give me 15 million. The Iranians want to give me 28 million. Isn't it a wonderful networked world we live in?
Dear Friend.

Assalamu Alaikum, My name is Abdul Saheed, a business man in Tehran - Iran. I have been diagnosed with Esophageal cancer . It has defiled [sic] all forms of medical treatment, and right now I have only about a few months to live, according to medical experts. I have not particularly lived my life so well, as I never really cared for anyone (not even myself) but my business. Though I am very rich, I was never generous, I was always hostile to people and only focused on my business as that was the only thing I cared for. But now I regret all this as I now know that there is more to life than just wanting to have or make all the money in the world.

I believe when God gives me a second chance to come to this world I would live my life a different way from how I have lived it. Now that God has called me, I have willed and given most of my property and assets to my immediate and extended family members as well as few close friends.

I want God to be merciful to me and accept my soul, I have decided to give alms to charity organizations, as I want this to be one of the last good deeds I will do on earth. I need help from a reliable and honest person I can trust in the name of Allah the merciful. Considering my present predicament and the political situation in Iran, I now seek your assistance to help me clear Twenty-Eight million US-Dollars (US$28,000,000.00) that I have with a recognize bank in Europe and I will want you to help me collect this deposited fund and dispatched it to charity organizations as I will instruct you to do.

I don't need any telephone communication in this regards because of my health and some of my relatives around me. I don't want them to know about this new development and with Allah the merciful, all things are possible. As soon as I receive your reply I shall give you the contact of my lawyer in Europe and I will also issue you a letter of recognition through my lawyer that will prove you as the next of kin to this fund base on my instructions. I want you to always pray for me and I have set aside 18% for you for your time. Please send a reply through my below email address with your full contact information for more private and confidential communication and note that any delay in your reply will give me room in searching for another person for this same purpose because you are the only person I have contacted for now. Please, inform me that you will act according to what I told you.

May great Allah be with you.

Mr. Abdul Saheed,
Tehran, Iran.

Frankly, I don't know what's worse about this particular email: The sacrilegious use of the Lord for a scam, or the lame attempts to garner sympathy for the poor man with the incurable disease. A reality check here, folks: any individual with that amount of money will have already fallen under the watchful eyes of their country's tax authority, especially in Iran. And because of bills such as the Patriot Act, any movement of money larger than 10,000 will automatically trigger alarms and immediate government surveillance, especially coming from someone in Iran. But then I guess that if you send out enough of these scan emails, the law of averages is on your side: someone, somewhere, will actually be stupid enough to fall for it. And all it takes is a few suckers to pony up enough cash or other valuables to make this worthwhile.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Update to Mozilla Firefox 1.5, Beta 2 to RC 1

I just got a surprise update to my copy of Firefox 1.5. I've been using Firefox 1.5 since beta 2 came out on SuSE 10 OSS. Tonight I got a message saying that the latest release, Release Candidate 1, had been downloaded and was ready to update my Beta 2 installation. I exited Firefox and then restarted it, and sure enough it came up with an RC1 page and the title no longer has 'Beta 2' as part of the window title. I checked the area where I have Firefox installed, and sure enough there are a number of new core modules with a data of November 1st on them (and no, I don't run as root, I run as a normal user).

I'm of a divided mind as to whether this is a Good Thing or not. It's great not having to uninstall Firefox and then re-install the latest version. I've been waiting for that feature for a long time. But it's disconcerting having it done behind my back. This very same feature is available on Windows XP, and I have it turned off. In particular I have Adblock Plus installed side-by-side with Firefox and I've already had one episode where Adblock was disabled because it was incompatible with an earlier version of Firefox. It's been fixed of course, but the idea of loosing Adblock again is disconcerting. I just about shut down surfing until I got the Adblock update.

I think I'm happy to have the latest version. I just need to turn off fully automatic updates. I'm paranoid about auto updates.

I can just hear the pipes

I received the following in my Yahoo message inbox today. After getting such messages from the Middle East and Africa, it's refreshing to see that the Scots now want to play this con game.
Mr. Cliff Robson
Royal Bank of Scotland


Do accept my sincere apology if my mail does not meet your personal ethics. I will introduce myself as Mr. Cliff Robson, a senior executive in the Accounts Department of the above Bank here in United Kingdom. One of our accounts with a credit balance of USD15, 000,000 (Fifteen Million United States Dollars) has been dormant and has not been operated for the past 4 years.

From my investigations and confirmations, the owner of this account, a Foreigner by name Mr. Robert Chapman died in August 2000 and since then nobody has done anything as regards the claiming of this money because he did not declare any next of kin in his official papers including the paper work of his bank deposit. Also Information from the Immigration states that he was also single on entry into UK.

I have secretly collected all information relating to this account and the funds and I thus propose to do business with you, standing in as the next of kin to the deceased so that this fund can be released to you after due processes have been followed. This transaction is totally free of risk and troubles as the fund is legitimate and does not originate from any fraudulent act. On your indication of interest, please get back to me through my personal email address or call me on my private phone number.


Cliff Robson
Royal Bank of Scotland

Now that's what I call real class. I mean, he even says I can call him on his private phone number. Wait... wait... Hey, just what is your private number, Mr. Robson? No matter. You'll forgive me if I elect to send my personal representative to deal with you in this matter. His name is Bond. James Bond. And he has a license to kill con artists like you.

Have a nice day.