Shivering on the 49th Parallel
Saturday, October 28, 2006

Chris sent this link through the ex-soto's Yahoo Group. It's an ad for a washing machine for clothes, but it's SO COOL. It actually makes you want to go diving! Fortunately for me, all I gotta do is go downstairs to do it, but for those of you who are landlocked (or temperature locked) it's the next best thing. Whoever envisioned this was a smart cookie, but whoever Made It Happen (tm) is a friggin GENIUS!

The clip is in quicktime, and it takes a minute or two to load, but DAMN is it worth it!


Saturday, October 28, 2006 7:22:20 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [2] | Links | Underwater#
Friday, October 27, 2006

Rip Curl has announced their H-Bomb wetsuit that has two "powered" heating packs built into it! It uses two polymer lithium ion batteries (I have an old Dell laptop battery now that mine's been replaced in the recall... could I use THAT too? :) )to power two heating packs that sit sort of over your kidneys to keep your core warm. Two settings, Keep Me Warm and IT TASTES LIKE BURNING. Nothing on the Rip Curl website yet, just their E-Bomb and F-Bomb suits so no word on price. More importantly, no word on whether it's suitable for use in a SCUBA application, or if they're just 'wet-resistant' for surfing and kayaking and things like that. I also don't know what thickness of neoprene it is. If it's only a 4/3mm suit, then it really wouldn't be warm enough for temperate diving anyway, heating pads or not.

Friday, October 27, 2006 8:23:30 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Gadgets | Underwater#
Thursday, October 26, 2006

Not that i'm complaining about it, but here goes: last week I saw a headline for an article in the new York Times (I think). It was while I was going through some RSS feeds and I clicked it to see what it was all about. It was all about how women tend to be less inhibited at Hallowe'en, that one night a year when they could "not be themselves" and convince themselves that they werent REALLY like that, it was JUSt Halowe'en. (down here in Cayman, the girls on vacation call it "Friday"... or Monday, or Tuesday, or Wednesday, Thursday and sometimes Saturday or Sunday). The article (seemed to be complaining?) that women's costumes had gone from Wonder Woman to Wonder Bra. Like that's a bad thing...

Then I see this video this morning and thought it was pretty funny... When he got to the "Sexy Pharmacist!" costume, I busted a gut laughing (as those of you who were here in Cayman a few years back will remember Halowe'en block parties at the Seaview, Sunset and Blue Parrot) and had to share it.

This year, there's a resurgence of the "Block Party" mentality at Rackham's and Hammerheads. There's a big costume party at Beach Club as well, and Z99 is having a Rocky Horror Picture Show party at the Hard Rock. Ratskyn is playing at Rackham's, so I'll be there as I'm contractually obligated :) See y'all out and about! (I won't be in costume this year, unless someone has a baggy yellow tracksuit they can lend me this weekend)

Thursday, October 26, 2006 8:11:51 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Cayman | Misc#
Monday, October 23, 2006

I'm just sayin... Saw this on Digg this morning and couldn't resist passing it on.

#2: Be direct. Geek guys tend to be in a shell. They are generally defensive and aloof. They aren't cold in the least; they're just extremely polite. Geeks tend to live by "do unto others". A geek guy who doesn't kiss you is worried about forcing himself. Grab him and plant one. Let him stagger and shake it off, but if he shows signs of recovering too quickly, grab him and plant one again. Subtlety and coyness completely fails with geeks; they'll be confused and expect that you're not on Pon Farr or are a nun or something. Where other guys need no provocation, a geek guy has to be brained on the noggin a couple of times, then he'll get the idea.

You can read the rest of Penguin Pete's tips here.


Monday, October 23, 2006 10:22:01 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Links | Tech#
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Go on, pop my balls in your mouth. You know you want to... :)
Sunday, October 22, 2006 11:27:59 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Food#
Thursday, October 19, 2006

Did anyone other than me watch that Tv show last year called "Surface"? I didn't think so. I saw some talk/buzz about it on last year so I tuned in. Turned out it wasn't as scuba-involved as I thought, but it was about this new species of vertebrate that was 'discovered' living in the ocean. They were hatched from eggs, had some sort of built-in taser device, were omnivorous and oh yeah, they could heal themselves, so they were practically invincible and immortal. It turned out to be a secret gov't genetics experiment gone awry and then the whole conspiracy/cover-up that dogged the main protagonists as they fought to discover the truth. In the end, because they could control weather patterns, they managed to trigger tsunamis while growing large enough to eat an entire fishing cruiser in one bite. Ultimately they became the new dominant species on the planet and they faded to black and didn't come back for a second season, but I digress.

About a month or so ago, Johnny Rotten got himself impaled on a stingray's barb out at Stingray City. He'll heal, but for now he's got a 3/8" hole in his leg that's slowly healing from the inside out. Three days after his incident, Steve Irwin got stung by a Bull Ray in the chest and died from it. In John's case, he was knocked/pushed over by a fatty cruise shipper and impaled himself on the barb. In Irwin's case, they've spun it so it sounds like an unprovoked attack, but no one REALLY knows what happened, so I'll not speculate on that. Now this morning there's a report on CNN about an 81 year old man getting stung by an Eagle Ray near Lighthouse Point, 30 miles north of Miami. Despite getting a barb (eagle rays have three in a row on their tails) RIGHT IN THE CHEST, he's going to make it, after surgery to remove it. That's one tough old guy! This incident happened in the intracoastal waterway... that's right, according to CNN, the ray leaped out of the water, INTO THE BOAT and nailed him.

I've had the opportunity to be up-close and personal with a juvenline eagle ray as it was feeding in the sand out in front of the wreck of the Oro Verde. Generally eagle rays are more skittish than southern atlantic stingrays (like the kind at Stingray City) and won't come near people. They're also larger than southern atlantic stingrays. They have a shovel-shaped nose that helps them dig in the sand to find little crustaceans and mollusks to eat. That's right, no teeth. On the other hand, I have seen eagle rays breaching in North Sound. The water in the sound is very shallow, I think the deepest it gets is about twelve feet deep and the shallowest is about knee-high at Stingray City Sandbar. Usually we'll be cruising along all of a sudden you see a splash and a brief glimpse of a tail. Probably the eagle ray was sleeping and the boat scared the bejabbers out of it and it accelerated up and breached. I have heard stories of them coming completely out of the water though.

What more than likely happened was the same sort of scenario: shallow, murky water in the intracoastal, sleeping eagle ray, boat scares it, it takes off, breaches and in this case lands IN the boat. As it's thrashing around trying to get back into the water, this 81 year old guy takes a shot in the chest. So while yes it is within the realm of possibility, it is, as the Fire Dept Lt. put it "A real freak thing". Not the ray's fault, it isn't even like Bart & Lisa Simpson saying "Im just windmilling my arms, if you walk into it and get punched, it's not MY fault".

Or is it? it's 10257 miles from Darwin Australia to Grand Cayman. Is there some sort of Stingray conspiracy going on where they're planning an all-out assault on humanity? Could it be that the stingray that John fell on somehow sent out a telepathic signal to the bull ray in Australia who then went after Steve Irwin in response? Could the eagle ray 'attack' be a public relations stunt by the Stingray Liberation Organization to show what kind of weapons they have at their disposal? There are enough whackos in the world who will believe anything, so it wouldn't surprise me if another conspiracy theory cropped up around stingrays now. The biggest question is "Who is pulling the strings and are they going to attack while George Bush is still in office?" :)

Update: Holy crap, there ARE whackos out there who believe in the conspiracy!

Thursday, October 19, 2006 7:44:32 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [5] | Underwater#
Wednesday, October 18, 2006

If you haven't already checked it out, click over to and check out their video podcast(s). If this is the future of the Internet, the future looks bright indeed.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006 7:45:40 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Links | WWW#
Monday, October 16, 2006

Every now and then I'd get an email saying that I had received a "trackback" which is when someone else links to one of your articles in order to quote it, dispute it, or something like that. I don't get them very often, so when an email comes in that says trackback, I would click the link and see who was linking to me.

Every now and then, I would see a trackback that went to some link-farm so I'd delete it. Sometimes people would leave a comment on an old article and either put a link in the body or use the website box to make their name a link to some link farm. A month or two ago, I got a slew of trackbacks all at once, about 20 spam sites all linking to the same page of mine. I went to the page they had linked to and deleted them all. What a pain in the ass.

Then it happened again a couple weeks ago when I was at home. I took the ten minutes to sit there and delete them all. I also started noticing on my activity page that the page views would shoot up to to 600, 700, 900 per day, which is a far cry from what I normally get. I found out that there was a blacklist function in the DasBlog configuration, so I added the pertinent terms. The next day would be more of the same but this time would be a refinance push instead of a drug push. Then casinos, then Texas hold 'em... you get where this was going. Everytime I added that day's terms, they would switch up and attack a different term the next day. It's proactive and a losing battle. I just ignore it now and gave up wondering what my REAL traffic is per day.

This morning, I was in a training session and we took a break to get up, wiggle around, stretch our limbs, go to the bathroom, whatever. I checked my email. :) First thing I noticed was that there was about 30 emails, all with the same timestamp, all trackbacks to the same page. I went to the page and deleted them all, and then went back to Outlook and deleted the notifications. When I clicked refresh, my blood chilled... up at the top, it said 1-35 of 691. I quickly went through it and saw that I had 680 splog trackbacks and 11 emails. FUCK ME IN THE GOATASS! What the hell? I suppose I should be flattered that someone thinks my website is important enough to target for spamming to help raise their profile in search engines, but then the reality of it says "no, you're just a random target" :)

For now, I've turned off the trackback service, decreasing the functionality of my website. If the comments start getting spammed in earnest, I'll shut them off, too.. decreasing the functionality and value even further. There's a way to turn off the referral stuff in a newer version of this software, but there is no RBL for splogs built in... yet. Now that I have my email under control, this is the last thing I need to 'harden'.

Monday, October 16, 2006 7:52:15 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [2] | dasBlog | Rants | WWW#
Friday, October 13, 2006

I'm just getting ready to go out, I'm meeting Johnny Rotten & the gang up at Calico Jack's. There's a band playing tonight, I'm not sure which one, I think it might be the "new" one, Smooth Bill Annie. They're pretty good, so it should be a good night.

My Packet8 phone rang just as I was getting dressed. I checked the caller-ID first, because usually when people call that number, it's a long phone call. The Caller ID says PCS Phone FL and was a 727 number, which is St Petersburg. Who the hell could that be? It might be someone that I used to work with, when we had a reservations office in St Pete, so I answered it.


"Hey, Junebug?" (thick Latino accent)

"Who? (snicker) I think you have the wrong number."

"Junebug's not there?"

(Trying not to laugh) "No, there's no Junebug here. Maybe in the summer. I'm pretty sure you have the wrong number."

"Oh, hokay, mang. bye."

SO, I guess somewhere in Tampa (my Packet8 phone number is a Tampa 813 area code) there's a drug dealer named Junebug who's phone number is probably one-off from mine.

Friday, October 13, 2006 5:54:23 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Misc#

While I was away in September, the National Roads Authority "finished" the bypass extension. If by finished you mean chip and spray with concrete forms and pylons and no lighting.

Nevertheless, the road is open from 6am to 7pm with a speed limit of 25mph. The new road starts at the Galleria roundabout and extends behind Lone Star, through the old Hyatt parking lot, around behind The Strand and then over Cayman's first-ever bridge over the lagoon at the Ritz Carlton and extends on through Governor's Harbor and ends rather abruptly at Indies Suites.

I can't vouch for how much of a difference it's made for AM West Bay traffic, but the first morning I went back to work after getting home from vacation, I thought maybe it was a public holiday. Instead of gridlock in front of my apartment, there were maybe three cars zipping along at 40mph.

I tried the new road out last Friday when I came home from work. I left at 5:05pm which should have meant that traffic would be backed up to at least the roundabout by the cinema. It wasn't. I sailed all the way through to the stretch behind the Galleria where it widens into two lanes, then went straight through on the extension. There were maybe three or four cars waiting at the mini-roundabout on West Bay Road. I turned off at Safehaven and came up alongside the Ritz-Carlton and then realized I had to cross both directions of traffic, and there was a fair bit at this point. I also realized that my Jeep is slightly longer than the middle lane is wide, which made for a pretty hairy close call when someone didn't want to stop just because a car was partially blocking his lane. Since then I go a little further north to the Lime Tree Bay roundabout and double-back a 1/4 mile. Way less stressful.

I took the new road on my scooter a couple days later, and kept to the 25mph limit because the road is loose gravel, with some tracks worn into it where the cars wheels had been. Not the best surface to be riding a two-wheeler on. On the scooter I do turn at the Ritz, because I CAN wait safely in the middle lane when trying to cross both directions of travel.

Our lease is up in November here at the Rock Star Palace, and we're hoping we can re-sign for another year, but if we HAVE to move, then living further north along the beach won't be such a bad move now that the traffic situation has been alleviated.

Friday, October 13, 2006 5:49:26 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [1] | Cayman#
Thursday, October 12, 2006

For the past few years, I've been using Cloudmark Spamnet for my spam-filtering needs. It works pretty darn well, too. Very rarely did any spam get into my inbox, and even more rarely did a real email get marked as spam. I think it was $39/year subscription, but I had the first year (of paid filtering) at half price because I was on the beta team for it.

The only problem I had with it is that it worked at the client level, when I checked my email through Outlook. If I was at work or on the road and went through Outlook Web Access, then I had to manually scan through all the spam looking for legitimate email. Not such a huge thing, but it put a huge damper on wanting to check my email on my phone, or heaven forbid setting up push email on Exchange 2003 SP2 to automatically send it to my phone, Crackberry-style

On average, I was getting about 500 spam messages per week. I would un-officially keep track of it by emptying the folder every Sunday night. Talking to Rich (who was hosting the server) the SMTP logs were in the neighborhood of 15-20mb PER DAY. That equated to over 60,000 SMTP connections per day. Yikes. That's WAY more than we get at work, where we're supporting over 350 mailboxes.

About a month ago, I noticed that a couple weeks in a row, the spam dropped to about 250-300, or almost half. I asked Rich if he had done anything and he said yes he was trying out Trend Micro ScanMail for Exchange and the Real-time connection blocking filter. Suddenly, the spam shot back up to 500+ per week. Turned out that the RBL was a 30 day free trial.

While I was at home last month for Ork's wedding (pics to follow, a few are on Flickr) Rich was telling me about a new service that he was going to try out, called Basically it's an SMTP proxy service. You change your MX records to point your email at their servers, they scan and filter it via a wholey crapload of virus engines and of course, spam filtering using various RBLs, DNS blacklists and even a Bayesian filter and lexical analysis. You configure your Exchange server to ONLY accept connections from Mailroute's IP range, and the ONLY emails you will get will be ones that have been 'scrubbed' by Of course, there's always an outside chance that one could get marked falsely as spam, so you can log in and review everything that's been quarantined for the last few days.

We turned it on for the mail server last Thursday. Even taking into account the delay for DNS propagation, I noticed on Thursday that my mail volume dropped drastically. In the last seven days, I've had 43 emails come through from Mailroute and get tagged as spam by either Cloudmark or Outlook's built-in junkmail folder. Even being lazy with the math, that's only 10% of the email load the Exchange server has had to deal with, and that I've had to download. Suddenly, running Outlook in Exchange Client mode using RPC over HTTPS can work and Push Email comes into the realm of possibility (aside from not doing it because the Cable & Wireless data plans are too expensive)

So my spam has been reduced by over 90%, I've had no false positives and the Exchange logs dropped from 30mb per day to 6mb per day, and after pointing all the MX records to Mailroute's servers, the SMTP connection log has dropped to 600Kbytes. Not only does Mailroute work as advertised, but the decreased demands on the bandwidth, processor cycles and storage lower the return on investment time period. I don't know how long Mailroute has been in business, but I wish I had a solution like this five years ago. :)

Thursday, October 12, 2006 5:00:34 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Tech#
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