Is this spam or what?

I received an email today, which is paraphrased below.

Dear ProxyBuster,

I am … from MAC Pharma Network, one of the leading health and pharmaceutical information portals on the internet.

You will be glad to know that it has been more than six months since your website was included in our very famous online health directory. You may or may not have noticed that your website has already been benefitting immensely from this inclusion. A theme based link from a high quality portal means a boost in your website’s pagerank and hence increases its rankings in all major search engines. This brings in targeted visitor traffic.

All pages of our health directory have a google pagerank between three and five. Your link is listed under the category Child Health on the following page:

All that MAC Pharma Network asks in return for this is for you to place a link to MAC Pharma Network in any suitable place on your website. To place a link to MAC Pharma Network please use the following information:

Title: MAC Pharma Network
URL: …

That’s pretty funny, when you consider that ProxyBuster’s main goal is to allow people to circumvent Web filtering tools to get at content that may otherwise be blocked. Funnier when you consider a site such as “Online Guardians (Provides free help, information and training to the public and to law enforcement agencies worldwide” is on the same page.

Nice to know that a site which proposes to provide an “online health directory” and a section on “Child Health” has links to sites which can be used by people to hide their tracks. Not, of course, that I am proposing any such thing; ProxyBuster logs all activity, anyway (just in case the Feds need me to provide information to catch crooks that use the service)…

From Seneca to Douglas Adams in less than ten minutes

It started out innocent enough. A friend e-mailed me a quote from Seneca the Elder, a Roman orator from eons ago:

“It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.”

I should have left it at that, but I didn’t. I could have read more quotes from Seneca the Elder, but instead, I was reminded of a quote from Yoda, the Jedi Master of Star Wars fame:

“Try not! Do or do not, there is no try.”

To get the exact wording, I did a search, and found a bunch of quotes from Star Wars. One of those got me giggling:

Han Solo: “I think my eyes are getting better. Instead of a big dark blur, I see a big light blur.”
Luke Skywalker: “There’s nothing to see. I used to live here you know.”
Han: “You’re gonna die here, you know. Convenient.”

Han was great with the one-liners. One of his quotes I’ve used in the past:

Princess Leia: “I love you.”
Han Solo: “I know…”

Many a relationship ended with that one. But I digress…

It didn’t take much to make the logical jump from Star Wars to Douglas Adams – author of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy of five books, the first which is being made into a movie – who is well known for his great quotes. One of the quotes is from a short writing by Adams some ten years ago, Adams on Windows ’95:

“The idea that Bill Gates has appeared like a knight in shining armour to lead all customers out of a mire of technological chaos neatly ignores the fact that it was he, by peddling second-rate technology, who led them into it in the first place.”

Leave it to Mr. Adams to say it better than anyone else. As he would say, “So long, and thanks for all the fish!”

Hacking 101 and the IRS

I’ve often told people that I could break in to most company’s computer networks by performing a simple task: Call a random (non-IT) employee in the firm, pretend to be an IT technician, and ask for their username/password. It’s simple…

Me: “Hello, I’m trying to reach Joe User.”
User: “This is Joe.”
Me: “Hi, Joe. This is Steve from the IT department. I’m sorry for the inconvenience, but we might have found some corruption in your e-mail box.”
User: “I haven’t had any problems.”
Me: “You may not have, but we want to make sure nothing happens. Could you spare a moment with me?”
User: “Sure…”
[Proceed to ask the user to reboot, then ask them to log back in to their computer and go to their e-mail “inbox.”]
Me: “How many messages are in your inbox?”
User: “147.”
Me: “That’s very odd — I am showing 99. Would it be OK if I connected to your e-mail box to verify this? I assure you I will not view, open, or delete any messages.”
User: “Sure, no problem.”
Me: “OK, I need your username/password…”

Apparently, the IRS – that stalwart government organization which knows about everyone’s finances – is just as gullible as the typical company. As reported by the Associated Press (and read on

The auditors called 100 IRS employees and managers, portraying themselves as personnel from the information technology help desk trying to correct a network problem. They asked the employees to provide their network logon name and temporarily change their password to one they suggested.

“We were able to convince 35 managers and employees to provide us their username and change their password,” the report said.

How reassuring is that?

Dog Helps Canine Friends Flee Refuge

A London animal shelter couldn’t figure out how the dogs were getting out of their kennels each night, so they set up surveillance cameras to catch the culprit.

The culprit was Red. Red is a dog. He would unlock his kennel’s door each night and open the kennel doors for his cellmates. A slideshow is available, courtesy of

Now, if this was my dog, she would escape her kennel and leave the other dogs locked up. At least until all the treats were eaten…

You can go back: Atari Flashback™ Classic Game Console

To prove that thirty-year-old technology still has a place today, Atari is releasing the Atari Flashback Classic Game Console – essentially a new console video game that has two controllers and twenty classic Atari games built right in. This is not intended to compete with the likes of the PlayStation 2. Rather, it is intended to give people who yearn for the retro games of the Atari 2600 and Atati 7800 something to satisfy their yearning.

Note that the games included are the video game console versions and not the arcade versions – meaning 16-color graphics and pretty stale gameplay will be the norm. Then again, if you throw on your bell-bottoms and find some old recordings of Wolfman Jack to put on the stereo, you just might be sent back in time some 20 to 30 years, and you just might enjoy yourself.

A few rounds of Froogle

The big news in technology today is Google’s IPO. To celebrate, I went to Google’s shopping site, Froogle. One of the fun things about Froogle is that it displays on the home page “A few of the items recently found with Froogle.” I refreshed the home page a few times and looked for fun an interesting items. Here’s a few:

  • kung fu hamster: Yes, you can own your very own Kung Fu Dancing Hamster! Apparently there are many different versions of this fun toy/killing machine. It runs for $8 to $10. No information if this search was originally submitted to Froogle by my friends over at AngryHamster.
  • spork: The legendary school cafeteria utensil and weapon, the spork clearly still has fans. Incredibly, the Froogle search for spork found not the garden-variety plastic version, but a titanium weapon for attacking your potatoes and flinging your peas. Priced around $9.
  • moon shoes: Just the pictures of these things bring back memories of Kiss. How safe does this sound: Put your pre-teen children (or adults) on 5 1/2-inch platform shoes that are super-bouncy then hop around like a moron. Not recommended for those weighing over 180 pounds, which sadly eliminates a significantly population considering the American obesity trends.
  • sb-50dx: Apparently it only took about ten refreshes of the Froogle page before finding someone who searches like I do: by entering the exact manufacturer’s part number of the item to ensure you only get matches for exactly what you’re looking for. This is apparently nothing more than a camera light, but it sure sounds futuristic with a name like “sb-50dx.”
  • rat zapper: If you (like me) were expecting some tazer-like device that zaps rats, you’ll be disappointed (like me). Apparently, Rat Zapper is a brand name for plain old rat poison.
  • pot rack: Like many of you, my first thought was some type of odd 60’s throwback marijuana doohickey. No such like; it’s just a pot rack.

Happy shopping!

Sell your ex-wife’s wedding dress on e-Bay

Yes, you really can sell just about anything on e-Bay. One guy is selling his ex-wife’s wedding dress, which he tells you he originally spent $1,200 on. (Or, as he says, “This dress cost me $1200 that my drunken sot of an ex-father-in-law swore up and down he would pay for but didn’t so I got stuck with the bill”.) The bid’s up to $15,100 as of the time I am writing this blurb. Check out the item at If the fact that someone would buy a used wedding dress originally worn by a large Texas woman for over ten times its original price isn’t ridiculous enough, just take a look at the pictures of the dress and the guy’s description of the item… and his updated description… and his yet again updated description… Clearly, lots of people have lots of spare time on their hands (and, as it seems, spare money).