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Thursday, September 18, 2003

Letter Order Meme Experiment

“By now, you’ve probably read the “Aoccdrnig to rsereach...” meme floating about the web. [Yes, my colleague send it to me today.] I talked about it last Friday. Since then, the meme has exploded on the web, and further propagated by Slashdot today.

What I didn’t mention the other day is that I was using this as a very informal experiment. I originally received the paragraph by email on Friday. But then I changed it to post to my site. The original version I received was:

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by it slef but the wrod as a wlohe. (...)

Before I posted my version, I checked that there were no versions on the web that began precisely with “Aoccdrnig to rscheearch”. I also checked on my second rewrite to confirm it didn’t yet exist. So now I can use Google to see how far my versions have propagated.

At time of writing, my Friday version is found by Google on 106 sites. The Monday version is not yet found anywhere else. So basically, this shows that my Friday version spread pretty quickly through blogspace when it wasn’t yet floating all over the web but the latest version which has only had a day to propagate in an already saturated web, hasn’t made any impact, presumably because everybody already knows about it or people are just linking to the entry without copying the text now.”
– David Harris, My meme experiment (David Harris’ Science & Literature), September 15, 2003

Google Answers Researcher Ephraim further messes with the Google brain...

“I’ll note with some amusement that when I tried this search, Google responded with the unintelligible but hilarious suggestion, “Did you mean: “Acocdrnig to an english university” “, which again proves that this “quote” has been modified many many times in order to propogate like a virus through the web.”
– Ephraim-ga, Google Answers: University Study - Letter order in reading, 16 Sep 2003

My Mailbox (Possibly Yours) – Swen aka Gibe

Amazing how my mailboxes are spammed today. I started to move emails with the following text in the subject straight to the trash can:

  1. "Microsoft Update"
  2. "Latest Microsoft"
  3. "Microsoft Critical"
  4. "Critical Update"
  5. "Failure Message"
  6. "New Upgrade"
  7. "Newest Internet"
  8. "Internet Update"
  9. "Latest Network"
  10. "Security Upgrade"
  11. "Bug Message"
  12. "New Upgrade"
  13. "New Net"
  14. "Net Security"
  15. "Security Patch"
  16. "Latest Security"
  17. "Security Update"
  18. "Current Network"
  19. "Network Critical"
  20. "Critical Pack"
  21. "Letter"

I think it's always this one:

Microsoft Customer

this is the latest version of security update, the "September 2003, Cumulative Patch" update which eliminates all known security vulnerabilities affecting Internet Explorer, Outlook and Outlook Express as well as five newly discovered vulnerabilities. Install now to protect your computer from these vulnerabilities, the most serious of which could allow an attacker to run executable on your system. This update includes the functionality of all previously released patches.

"The bug, which has been alternately dubbed Swen and Gibe.F, appears to exploit a flaw that Microsoft first disclosed in a March 2001 security bulletin.

Ken Dunham, manager of malicious code intelligence for Reston, Va.-based iDefense, said that Swen preys upon people's best intentions, appearing as an e-mail that purports to be a security update from Microsoft.

"The worm is programmed to send an official-looking e-mail that says it contains a "cumulative patch" for several Internet Explorer, Outlook and Outlook Express vulnerabilities."
– Ina Fried, New virus preys on old IE flaw (CNET, September 18, 2003

"A new mass-mailing virus is on the loose on the Internet, this one masquerading as a message from Microsoft Corp. about a cumulative security patch. Known as either Swen or Gibe, the virus is mainly found in Europe right now, but anti-virus experts say it has the potential to spread quickly and widely.

Like some other recent worms and viruses, Swen attempts to spread through several different methods, including peer-to-peer file sharing networks and IRC channels. It takes advantage of a two-year-old flaw in Microsoft Outlook and is capable of automatically executing the infected attachment once the message is opened."
– Dennis Fisher, Virus Masquerading as Microsoft E-Mail (eWeek), September 18, 2003

"It included links to recent Microsoft patches, the attachment was named as if it was a MS "hotfix". It was an executable q370344.exe containing the W32/Gibe-B@mm worm. You could have all the patches in the world installed but if you execute the attachment they will not help one bit.

This worm is nasty if you get it like the spybot worm I wrote about recently. It disables regedit and task manager and launches multiple copies of itself renames itself and uses several methods to run the "hidden" versions."
– Philip, Mail from Microsoft NOT! (Just Playing), September 15

"W32.Gibe.C@mm is a variant of W32.Gibe.B@mm. The worm attempts to spread through Email, KaZaA, and IRC. It uses Microsoft Outlook to email itself to all the contacts in the Windows Address Book. W32.Gibe.C@mm will display a message titled, Microsoft Internet Update Pack," if the computer has already been infected with this worm.

The email message has a randomly chosen subject, message, and attachment, which will have either a .exe or .zip file extension. W32.Gibe.C@mm may send itself to some specified new groups, whose URL are carried by the worm.

This threat is written in Microsoft Visual Basic (VB). The VB run-time libraries must be installed on the computer to execute."
W32.Gibe.C@mm (Symantec)

For me, the problem is not so much spam or a virus I need to start manually (who'd do this anyway?)... but spam with large attachments that fill my inbox (making it impossible for other mail to get through).

Hotmail Protection

If you have a Hotmail account, you should quickly try to prevent your 2 MB to be taken to the limit, if it didn't already happen. You can set up spam filters. (Login to your account. Click on "Options", then on "Custom Filters". Here, choose "Create New", and enter above lines into the "Identify incoming messages which have have [x] in the subject" and check "Delete these messages".)
However, after 10 filters you have reached your filter limit. You will notice that this is not enough. (Nor is the 255 senders list you can block.) You might want to delete all incoming emails that contain any of the follow words/ phrases: Microsoft, Update, Critical, New, Newest, Security, Upgrade, Failure, Latest, or "(none)".
But even then, there's enough mails coming through, which might make it necessary to delete all incoming mail that's not from anyone on your safe list. Which is what I did, so I cannot be reached unless you're on my safe list (or you use "Google" in the subject line, but I'm still playing with this feature)!

Google Image Machines

“Since its rollout began in January, Google has installed “dozens” – [Google fellow Urs Hölzle] would not say specifically how many – of NetScaler 9800 Secure Application Switches. The boxes sit at the front end of Google’s Image Search Web presence, where the boxes balance traffic among Web servers and search engine boxes.

“Our image search is one of our most performance-intensive apps,” Holzle says. “Each search result has at least 25 with images. And we receive thousands of requests per second. The NetScaler boxes do well with that.”

While the NetScaler boxes have Gigabit interfaces and can handle several hundred megabit/sec of Layer 4 to Layer 7 traffic processing, Holzle says, “we’re not exploiting that.” Most of Google’s traffic consists of bursts of traffic, instead of long, sustained packet flows. “Bandwidth is not a limitation for our applications,” he says.”
– Phil Hochmuth, Speedy Returns Are Google’s Goal, September 18, 2003

“Google, the omnivorous search engine with a silly name, is gobbling images and information from websites as it transforms internet use.

Stephanie Perrin, principal of Montreal-based Digital Discretion, believes Google is a threat to personal privacy because it harvests images and information to serve up to anyone with a computer and internet access. (...)

People using the internet to meet a partner must be aware that pictures they used, especially if they were intimate, might be used against them later.”
– Richard Pamatatau, Prying Google seen as a risk, 19.09.2003

Groogler: A Google Browser in .Net

Groogler is a .Net project interfacing the Google Web API. It’s a project directed at developers (there’s no installation routine I could find).
Description from the Sourceforge project homepage:

“Groogler allows you to enter a term and see related terms visually in a (interactive) graph. The term is sent to Google as a search via the Google webservice and it returns some web pages. The titles of the web pages are parsed for noise words and terms that have been put on the canvas before, what remains is put on the canvas as new nodes connected to the search term. If you double click on some node in the graph, that node is used for a new search ad infinitum.”
Groogler Project Homepage

Google Web API: No Synonyms Support

After trying to get synonyms to work in the Google Web API I have to conclude that it’s just not supported at the moment. (And the official Google Web API reference doesn’t mention the “~” tilde character.)

Guess the Movie Quote (Google Knows)

Guess the famous movie phrase* – Google knows the Answer!

*If you got some more in store, please drop me an email. For some more movie trivia see the OpenTrivia movie quiz.

A: Humphrey Bogart
B: Peter Jackson
C: Stanley Kubrick

Few URL Parameters Best

GoogleGuy says that few parameters in a URL (one or two) are better than many to get indexed good:

“If possible, I’d try to keep the number of parameters small (one or two is best).”

“Lots of parameters means that it’s harder to guarantee that they’re important.”
– GoogleGuy in WebMasterWorld

For example... Authorama

In Authorama, I stick to two: book-title and sub-chapter. E.g.:

Most of the pages on get indexed fine, even though copies of the texts might be available at other places (as they’re in the public domain). To get rid of multiple parameters, one could set up a htaccess file on Apache servers.


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