Book review: Ending Spam—Bayesian Content Filtering and the Art of Statistical Language Classification

For a lot of people, thoughts about spam are limited to a burst of bad language and perhaps a brief marvel at the sheer volume of organisations that want to help fix aspects of other people’s genitalia. However, there is more to spam than expletives. Spam doesn’t just magically appear in your mailbox, it has a history and so does the battle against it. There are some pretty interesting and innovative weapons available to combat the evil that is spam. And some of those weapons are examined in Ending Spam: Bayesian Content Filtering and the Art of Statistical Language Classification

Working together and sharing code with TLA

If you ever worked on a free software project or if you have ever worked as a developer, you probably know that managing source code, patches, and software release cycles is not the easiest task to perform. Things get even worse if lots of people are working on the same project: more code to manage, more people to coordinate, more patches to integrate and mainstream. Even if you don’t write software or have never worked on such projects, I’m sure that as an addicted computer user sometimes you felt like “hey, why didn’t I make a backup of that document”, or “hell...

Legals jumping on the free software bandwagon

I, being currently involved with free software, see it being mentioned so often in publications that specialise on the subject and which target sad geeks like myself who have nothing better to do. However, an advertisement caught my eye in my non-technical local newspaper—Cambridge Evening News (That is Cambridge UK, not the one in Mass). It was entitled...

"Free software—but at what price?"

LinuxWorld London Expo 2005

On Wednesday, October 5th, my alarm clock went off at an exceedingly uncivilized hour, whereupon I quickly donned some clothes, hurriedly grabbed some breakfast, all in order for me to race to an early train so that I might arrive at Hall 2 in Olympia, London for the 9.30 a.m. start of the 2005 LinuxWorld Expo. I arrived a few minutes early, and due to my registering for the event earlier through the internet I had a pre-printed pass in hand representing a waiver saving me the £15 registeration fee.


Well, I’ve never kept a “blog”, and I’m still trying to decide whether I can tolerate the name, or feel compelled to insist on “weblog”. In any case, though, I think it is appropriate to provide a first post which tells a little bit about me, so that in the future, people can refer to it.

Book review: Samba-3 By Example, 2nd Edition by John H. Terpstra

Humans often learn best by example, and the Samba documentation team has responded with this very admirable collection of example Windows networking projects with Samba. I liked the design of this book, and although you will obviously need to access the Samba-3 howto for reference purposes, I would personally recommend buying this one and reading the howto online, if you must choose. This is essentially a cookbook, but it also has a consistent context which makes the examples hang together.

Samba-3 By Example, 2nd EditionSamba-3 By Example, 2nd Edition

A look all your own

Why would you install your own copy of Linux just to have it look like everyone else’s copy? With such a wide array of themes available, there is no reason not to try out a few on your Linux PC.

GNOME-Look is a great source for wallpapers, window decorations, splash screens and everything else you need to customize a Gnome based distribution (such as Fedora or Ubuntu). Thanks to the wide selection, the possibilities are almost limitless.

Disaster relief and free software

Technical needs in the immediate aftermath of the South Asian tsunami disaster of 2004 put software development and distribution methods into sharp focus for relief groups. When volunteers were immediately available to help coordinate relief efforts, access to software slowed them down. It was evident that traditional commercial software distribution had broken down. It was untenable.

Free software is the problem for Microsoft

Free software, not just Linux, is a major problem for Microsoft. It’s a big mistake thinking they don’t understand free software, or its mechanics.

They understand it all too well, and they don’t like it - not one little bit!

The problem Microsoft has with free software is that it benefits the customer directly, not the software IP holders. The ways to make money from free software are:

  • to use it (Google, Amazon etc.);
  • to service the guys using it (RedHat, IBM, SuSE etc.);
  • to include it as part of your product (Linksys etc).

Games in captivity

For those of us who grew up in the 80s, playing games in arcades or on our computers and game consoles was a major part of our childhoods, and we often have the nostalgic desire to replay those beloved titles. Others not only want to play, but have dedicated their scholarly attention to the study and preservation of videogame history. Sometimes companies who own the copyright to these games are able to repackage them and make them available on the shelf; there are countless “Games in a Stick” mini-consoles and plenty of “Arcade Classic” compilations for the PC and modern consoles.

Why do companies outsource?

The crusty old geek with 30 years of experience can’t get a word in as Adam, the 19 year old hot-shot system administrator, tells everyone how to do their jobs. “Your opinion really doesn’t matter, dude, you’re like old”, he says, as he adjusts his Linux World t-shirt. As BrokenToothpicks.Com stock soars to $300 a share and its 24 year old high school dropout CEO lashes out against the “old way of doing things”, Adam just might be right. People start to listen to these new brainiacs and Dot Com Rockstars who can do no wrong. Adam thinks he’s God. How can he not?

Let’s take care of our memory

It was late at night in Sydney. I was at John Paul’s house—the man behind MySource. We hadn’t seen each other for years, and we had spent the whole day helping his parents move house, so we did what old friends do: we talked about anything and everything. The conversation somehow turned to neural damage and freak accidents (our backs must have hurt).

Book review: Computers & Typesetting Millennium Edition by Donald E. Knuth

Professor Donald E. Knuth doesn’t need an introduction: he created TeX (a powerful typesetting system) and METAFONT (a program to design fonts). He also designed a font family, called Computer Modern, which is the default choice of TeX.

The cover of Computers & Typesetting Millennium editionThe cover of Computers & Typesetting Millennium edition

Mr. Knuth is known to write sharp and enlightening books. His books about typesetting are no exception: he wrote five books dedicated to these topics, and Addison-Wesley now sells them all in one box, entitled “Computers & Typesetting Millennium edition”...


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