Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Independence Day

Happy 89th birthday, Finland! There's of course a party tonight, starting quite early, which cuts the working day short - we need to get the venue set up and most importantly set up the weblink so we can watch President's Reception from Helsinki. It's one of those traditions that seem perfectly normal, until you go abroad and try to explain it to someone.

"Well, yes, so we don't actually celebrate independence ourselves, we just watch a party on TV. Or, not so much a party but a queue of 3000 people in their white ties and ball gowns making their way to shake hands with the president. Then there will be interviews and lots of photos are taken and the ball gowns are being discussed and rated etc. And yes, there's a military parade and we light some candles."

Yet, it's one of the most important days of the year and something we are all very proud of.


So, some progress at work: the research centre report is ready. The student project brief isn't, as I ended up revamping some analysis protocols (or re-writing them, rather), as this new version can then be copy-pasted to the thesis almost as it is. Time well spent, I think, as it will hopefully form a part in our library of teaching modules that we are developing as well. This also ensures that there's some continuity in this line of work, even after I relocate myself to a less rainy environment. :-) Or, it could be yet another cunning plan to put off having to go through that data...


Spam. Funny thing that. 80% of the email traffic of the world is spam. Luckily my spam filters are pretty good. There's one layer of defence at the university server, it probably kills 90% of what tries to get in. The second layer is in Thunderbird, my email program. I have no clue how much gets filtered by the first layer, but I can see the stuff being caught by the second. And sometimes it is too eager. For instance our student association was sending so much email in the beginning of the term that it decided it was spam. (which was mostly true, luckily they now took my advice and are compiling daily newsletters instead of sending everything bit by bit.)

There has been an evolution in spam, and while loads of it endorses generic viagra and body part enlargements, the majority is now about stock. The so-called pump-and-dump -schemes. Someone has bought cheap shares, and are now trying to get other people to buy them so that they can then sell their lot with a profit. And when they dump their shares, the value falls through the roof, and the brilliant investment only materialises for those who initiated the scam. Another new development is that the actual spam messages are more often pictures. The text in the message is copypasted from a book or is just random, legitimate words to fool the filters to think it's legit. Also, the topics and headers are made to look like the message is actually a reply to a message you sent. But, the filters are kept up to date, and so the amount of spam actually making it through to the inbox is very small.

Why an earth, then, did a message that was sent by "Satan" from the email address "" get through? Mind boggles...


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