Friday, August 26, 2005


I ran across a web site called "," set up by Stan Jones, an author in Alaska.

Litrix contains books and stories, most of which are in the public domain (those that are not are published with permission). He has captured many of my favorite stories and books, such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and other works by Mark Twain, The Man Who Would Be King by Kipling, Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles MacKay, and many, many others. The next time you feel the need to read some trash novel, read one of these, instead!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Uncle Mark Spammed!

Well, I'll be! Blogspot, who is graciously hosting this blog, has been having a slew of issues with "spam blogs" or... "Splogs." A splog is a blog created on a free blog service, like blogger/blogspot, and has a progran that runs periodically that just spews advertising on it. The blog then posts as new, and the search engines, like "google" and others, pick it up. What it does is pollute the blog world.

In Ask Uncle Mark's case, we got a "spam comment." Some lowlife saw the change on the blog, and auto-posted a comment selling worthless stock. I had thought that by limiting comments to registered "blogger" people, that that would cut that out. But no, the spammer had a temporary blogger account with which to do the deed.

To stop this abuse, Blogger has put in place some new safeguards. The first is to allow readers to flag a blog as offensive. This is not a bad idea, but is after the fact -- someone got offended by a blog. The one I am using to prevent spam comments is "word verification." You may or may not have seen this. If you decide to comment, you will be asked to enter a word into a form. The word (sequence of letters, really) is a graphic image, which us humans can fairly easily read, but which computers can't. A computer can play chess against Garry Kasparov and win, but it can't easily read a graphical rendition of letters. This will prevent spammers from automatically entering comments into the blog. I want people to comment, but not spam people!

Monday, August 01, 2005

UK Man Fined for Using Someone Else's Wireless Network

In an article in the BBC News, a man was fined for using someone else's unsecured wireless connection. In this case, the person who owned the network apparently didn't know -- the police saw the guy using his computer in his car in the neighborhood.

The article is worth reading -- in the UK, if someone has an open (unsecured) network, and you connect to it, it is considered a crime. However, there are lots of open networks that are open to the public. How can you tell the difference? Really, you can't.

I am not sure what the implications are in the US. I know of several people who cruise business parks and neighborhoods for open networks, and then connect up. Right now, there are so many open networks that are legitimate to use at coffee shops and book stores, that the matter is quickly becoming moot.

For your own wireless home network, the answer is not to leave it open. I owe an entry on securing wireless home networks -- that will be forthcoming...