Brief Hiatus

I’ll be having a brief hiatus from posting here for the next few days, as I’m about a thousand words into an article I’m writing on an interesting new type of multiplayer online game. I’ve been looking forward to writing it for over a month and so far it’s not looking bad, although it’s finished form will probably bear no resemblance to what I’ve written.

Unfortunately, I seem to have caught a cold from while I was in Australia. I suspect that I actually had it for some time while I was there but it lay dormant, suppressed by the copious amounts of good food and sunshine I experienced. Naturally, as soon as I returned to the incessantly gloomy and rainy UK, it surfaced in chattering glee and cursed me with a sore throat and blocked nose. While theoretically neither of these symptoms should prevent me from writing at full speed, they joined forces with my jetlag to ensure that I just didn’t feel like working until today. Although that doesn’t sound much different from usual…

I’ve just about beaten the cold and it should be on its way out tomorrow,and not a minute too soon either, otherwise how would I manage to perform on the karaoke at my birthday party on Saturday? In any case, I managed to stop blowing my nose today long enough for me to sit down and do a bit of writing. To make up for the hiatus, I’ve updated my About page so it’s a little less out of date than usual.

Of course, I make no guarantees about returning here when I get bored from writing…

Email

Today (one day early) my Cambridge email address was deactivated because I graduated last month. This means that you can no longer contact me via ah328@cam.ac.uk. Instead, my new active email address is adrian@(nospam)vavatch.co.uk, and my new permanent forwarding address is hon@(nospam)cantab.net. What this means is that if you ever want to contact me in the indefinite future, an email to the hon@(nospam)cantab.net address will always forward it to me. However, the address that I will send emails from is adrian@vavatch.co.uk.

Oz

On Friday morning I’ll be flying off to Australia, via Singapore, for just under four weeks. I anticipate lots of fun and frolics and hopefully I’ll be able to update this weblog, which will be a change from the usual. If the resources are available, I’ll also upload some photos as I go along.

Back again

I returned to England on Monday, and almost immediately went to Emmanuel College May Ball, which was great fun. I’m currently a fair bit sleep deprived, but once I’ve recovered I’m going to start work on writing a report of my trip to the TEDMED3 conference. Some teasers:

– Be SHOCKED as Adrian is almost denied entrance to the conference

– MARVEL at Marvin Minsky giving a really weird presentation and dissing neuroscientists and psychologists

– FIND OUT what David Macauley, Dean Kamen, David Bodanisky and others said to Adrian

– READ the true story of what really happened when President Bush fell over the Segway…

– …and SEE Adrian charging around on a Segway

– GASP at the excesses of conference goers when Fedex offers to ship anything, anywhere, for no charge

– Check out Adrian BAG O’ SWAG from the conference

– Can IBM Life Sciences and Cigna throw good cocktail parties? Read about them… only at mssv.net.

Junk

Readers of mssv.net will remember my ill-fated expedition into Mozilla Mail 1.3. There was only one reason behind the expedition – to get rid of the 50+ junk mails that I receive per day.

In itself, the junk mail is not that much of an annoyance compared to other things in life. However, it is something that should be easily fixed and given that there are things like Bayesian analysis and Spam Assassin out there, I was always irritated not only by having to delete the spam, but also about the fact that I couldn’t use these spam killing mechanisms.

Today, while checking up on some websites I run, I was delighted to find out that Pair.com have finally implemented Spam Assassin on their mail servers. I immediately enabled it on newmars.com and it has been pretty good at filtering the junk away. Not perfect, but better than nothing.

However, being the sort of person that I am, I have three active email addresses that all run on different servers. One of them, the university mail server, uses IMAP and has no provision for spam detection (I did read that they intend to install Spam Assassin in the near future though). The other one, vavatch.co.uk, does not have Spam Assassin and I don’t see it being installed anytime soon.

Feeling in a bit of a combative mood, I went and downloaded SA Proxy. SA Proxy basically intercepts your POP mail before it reaches your local email client and runs Spam Assassin on it. Best of all, it runs on Windows. SA Proxy always struck me as being an inelegant solution, but I decided desperate times called for desperate measures.

Setting up SA Proxy was relatively straightforward although I am certain they could make the instructions clearer (alternatively, I could just read them slower). Time will tell whether running SA Proxy will make me feel happier; I suspect that it will need some tweaking before it performs optimally. I may also shift newmars.com over to SA Proxy (turning the server-run SA off, obviously) for greater flexibility.

However, even if I still get a few pieces of spam coming in every day – and it’s certain that I will do, since my uni address is completely unfiltered – at least I will have the satisfaction of knowing that I am doing something about it.

N. S.

Browsing through my website logs and stats, as I am wont to do when there is nothing else going on, I’ve just discovered that the most searched-for term for my website is “Neal Stephenson”; other such irrelevent terms as “Adrian Hon” come in a distant fifth. Of course, this is because Neal Stephenson is a much more well known person than I am and given that I wrote an article about a lecture given by him a while back (he never gives lectures), it’s downright predictable.

Anyway, in this Stephensonesque mood, I found a website that has links to all of his short stories, some of which are online, and some of those I hadn’t read. I have to admit that none of the ones I hadn’t read were particularly good compared to his later work, but it’s fun to see how far back his ideas for distributed republics, encrypted private electronic cash and the metaverse go. It’s also enjoyable reading them from the omniscient perspective of almost ten years after they were written; In The Kingdom of Mao Bell is particularly good, although the accuracy of many of his predictions still remains to be seen.

Xylophone

Saw four people busking with xylophones and glockenspiels in Cambridge city centre today – I think it’s been the first time for years that I’ve felt compelled to give a street performer some money. Their performance of Blue Danube was pretty damn impressive.

On another note, I have two long posts that I have in progress for mssv.net which, as usual, are mostly done but not finished. I should be able to start posting a bit more frequently now – I’ve broken the back of a huge pile of work and other stuff that’d piled up recently.

Going to see a talk called ‘Artificial Intelligence and religious belief’ tomorrow, by the Cambridge Humanism Society – it promises to be good.

Films

Not many updates recently, alas. I’ve been watching The Princess Bride and reading The Code Book, both of which I heartily recommend. I’ve also been emailing my crew mates for my upcoming mission at the Mars Society Desert Research Station in December and writing content for the MetaFilter wiki. I plan to write a couple of book reviews soon, and I’ve had some ideas brewing around (uh oh) in my head about a three-part essay series looking at the future of psychology, the Internet and gaming.