Archive for June, 2008

Jun
23

Free Money Management Tool

TerMate

I am releasing for free a Windows application called TerMate developed while I was at Renaissance Laboratories Ltd. The company has since closed shop, but I have the rights to distribute this application in its place. The program is a personal money management tool designed to help people budget correctly and track their expenses.

Principally designed for students, it caters for term/semester based budgeting, but works equally well if we want to plan our expenditures over a fixed time period (e.g. over a month, or a year). For a full list of features, go to the TerMate page.

Anyway, I hope that you all enjoy it. I certainly enjoyed writing it. Lets hope that somebody somewhere will find it useful 🙂

Jun
23

Giant Hail Stones

We just had a very heavy hail shower. This is a picture of one of the hail stones that landed on my balcony.  Downstairs there were some larger ones, but I didn’t want to get hit on the head or damage my camera.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen hail like this before.
A very big hail stone

Jun
15

Happy Birthday Munich

Yesterday, my home city of Munich had its 850th birthday party.

Jun
9

Stop spam using cats and dogs

Asirra is a serious piece of Microsoft research, and is a highly effective tool for preventing spam bots from filling up your blog with adverts.
Spammers are becoming increasingly sophisticated and are able to bypass many captcha‘s.  My own blog has been inundated with spam despite asking users to answer maths questions to validate their comments.  Even image based captchas can be fooled and they now serve only to slow the spam down….slightly.

Asirra interests me greatly because it is a symbiosis of two projects.  Their aims are quite different, but they are able to collaborate for a common gain.  When a user wishes to add a comment, they are asked to identify a series of photos and to categorise them as either a cat or a dog photo.  The photos come from an animal adoption web site with a large image database and receive free advertising (perhaps when you write your comments you’ll decide to adopt one of the animals in the pictures).

Spam bots can perform image analysis to a quite sophisticated level it seems, able to read obfuscated text.  Lets see how the fare analysing pictures of small furry creatures.

A WordPress plugin is also available, and it was pretty easy to install.  I will let you all know in a few weeks how the experiment goes, and if I receive any spam.

Jun
9

Spanish Ham

This is a picture taken in Granada. The small white umbrellas are to stop drips of fat falling on to the floor/customers.

Jun
7

Viñales Panorama

This is a panorama of the mountains in Viñales, western Cuba. I also added it to the Cuba article.

Jun
5

Silvio Rodriguez

Has a very nice song called “Y nada más”. I hadn’t heard it before going to Cuba, but it’s really something special.

Jun
5

Wrist Control

Self defence

Jun
4

Cuba

I’ve just uploaded some photos to a new article about my recent holiday to Cuba. I’ve tried to be as realistic and honest about my experiences as possible.

I’d be interested to hear about other peoples experiences.

Jun
3

I’m back baby

WordPress died on me a little over one year ago (I think, I actually lost track of the downtime).  I just procrastinated fixing it because I was busy at home and work and well… lets face it, I don’t exactly have a religious following of readers to worry about.

After taking a much needed three week holiday, I come home to find that not only have my plants died from lack of water, but my email has also passed on.  It seems that lack of payment for the hosting will cause hosting services to cease.  This fact did not suprise me terribly, afterall, who wants to host for free?  What did suprise me was that it only took them 2 weeks from the first email of notice to having my account suspended.  I was mildly annoyed that I may have lost some emails, and decided that while I was working on domain problems, I should spend some time fixing the old blog.

Well, here it is folks, the exact same posts as before in all new, “default theme” colours 🙂  Enjoy….

God I love it when I lose hours of work to the ether.  It feels like the time and energy has somehow been absorbed by a hungry beast and that, the beast being fed, will leave me to continue life for another year.