Seldo.Weblog: December 2006

Light a candle

December 1st is World AIDS Day and in honour of it, Bristol-Myers Squibb is donating a dollar to AIDS research every time someone goes to their Light to Unite website and moves the match to the candle and lights it.

Spread the word; looks like this is the real deal.

Hacked

So, around 7pm Friday night UK time, a person or persons unknown used a vulnerability in one the scripts powering one of the sites I host to install a shell kit, and then subsequently a bulk emailer program and two fake websites in directories called "www.a****n.com" and "www.e**y.com". They then proceeded to fool innocents into visiting these sites hosted on my domain after following email from my domain into relinquishing their usernames and passwords.

A little over 11 hours after it started, my hosting company automatically detected the suspicious activity and immediately disabled my account, which was exactly the right thing to do. Since then I have regained access, reset various passwords, and been slowly repairing the damage, but it will be a while before everything is working. It's also quite possible that despite some hatchet work on my part, when my account was re-enabled the hole they used to get in was also re-enabled, as I'm not sure exactly what happened yet. In which case, they will come back and this may happen a few more times before I work out how to stop them.

Obviously, I'm extremely upset about all of this. Quite apart from the downtime, which takes out five or six other people's sites whenever it happens, I've also been the unwilling accomplice in the work of some rather nasty criminals. So there are going to be some upgrades in the name of security and stability around here, which may involve various people's blogs being migrated over to seldo.org to prevent everything collapsing all at once when my .com domain (which attracts the majority of attacks) goes down.

My blood's not good enough

As many of you who are UK resisdents are probably aware, the National Blood Service in the UK, a fine organization which does in many respects a wonderful job, has one major stain on its record: it does not allow gay and bisexual men to donate if they have ever had sex. Whether oral or anal, whether it was yesterday or a decade ago, if you are a man and you've had sex with another man you can never give blood again.

This ridiculous and discriminatory policy is plainly visible in their blood donation test, specifically this question. They weasel out of this policy being discrimination by claiming it is "behaviour based" (hence the question about sex acts rather than strictly sexuality). But it doesn't bear any scrutiny: why should the gender of the person you have sex with affect the dangerousness of that act? Their explanation of their policies does nothing to explain.

So now you have the capability to sign an electronic petition asking the Prime Minister to overturn the ban. The petition is hosted by Number 10 itself, so you can be sure they're really listening.

Trixie

05 December 2006
Don't forget girls who've slept with men who've been with another man.

Do other countries follow the same guidelines.

Hugh Anchor

05 December 2006
Meh, in the US they won't take my blood because I've lived in the UK for more than 9 months. Their loss.

HA.

Ade B

06 December 2006
girls who've slept with men who've slept with men have a 1 year ban, not a permanent ban.

My main issue with this is the permanent ban.

It is still true to say that men who have sex with men are in a far higher risk group then men who don't. Should we have a right to give blood? it's a difficult debate.

The main problem is that hte blood service has a shortage of blood, so shouldnt be turning away people who are safe to give blood. they should have far better models of risk and should be willing to regularly review their policies based on science (they don't do this often enough.)

The anti body test is over 95% accurate after 5 months. Now after a year the risk of HIV+ blood not being detected should be at about the same level as HIV not being detected in a man who doesnt sleep with men (with no delay after sexual activity).

A posisble (although not ideal) compromise would be a 1 year ban.

The current system is totally indefensible.

Ade B

06 December 2006
Interestingly this is one of the areas that THT and Stonewall totally disagree on.

(THT support the policy, you might want to ask them why)

Robert

06 December 2006
While I think it is a touch ludicrous to ban you for ever, I'm not sure I like the idea of there being a right to donate blood. Rights are really funadamental things, and I think we run the risk of devaluing real rights (freddom of speech, association, private life) by over extension to more spurious "rights".

At one stage I had four reasons not to donate...

Laurie

06 December 2006
I didn't say that there is a right to give blood. I simply said that there's no way of justifying this ban. Some people shouldn't give blood, but "all gay men" is not granualar enough.

Max Hammond

09 December 2006
I was involved in a very detailed discussion of this question some years ago (on uwarwick.misc I believe), and the answer from the NBS at the time was that it's an entirely statistical thing; male donors who had slept with another man had a significantly higher chance of testing positive for something nasty.
Note that there's no causality here - just a correlation between a question they can ask and something they want to avoid.

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Wii! So I had a go on Steve's Wii this afternoon at Dan's sumptuous paella-fest. I am by no...

Wii!

So I had a go on Steve's Wii this afternoon at Dan's sumptuous paella-fest. I am by no means a console player -- I've never owned one, or played any game on one for more than about 10 minutes without getting bored -- but that thing is a whole new ball game. Playing tennis that feels like playing tennis, from the motions you make to the sounds on the court, is so totally different from the usual button-A-means-you-jump dynamic that it needs a different name: low-fi virtual reality, or something.

So in summary: they're amazing, and even non-gamers will want one. Well done, Nintendo, for making a console game seem interesting to me for the first time since, well, the original Nintendo system.

Jason

11 December 2006
You lie! Last time you were in the states, you played Katamari Damacy for over 10 minutes, I'm rather certain. :)

Laurie

11 December 2006
True :-) Okay, but it was still not the hours and hours other people play...

Hacked again :-(

I was hacked again. Aaargh. This time I was ready and caught on much earlier, and also found how they were getting in. So hopefully that should be the last of it.

Now to pick up the pieces...

"So, when are you leaving?"

I have been asked this question at least once by every single person to whom I have mentioned I'm moving to San Francisco. I don't know, okay? Moreover, nothing is going to happen to change my not-knowing status until at least the 4th of January. So until then, like me, you'll all have to live with some uncertainty. Sorry about that.

In other news: I finished my christmas shopping, on time but wildly overbudget. Luckily, I like giving people stuff.

M

13 December 2006
I can't believe you've finished your christmas shopping before me! Whats that all about? ;)

x

ed

13 December 2006
What am I getting? I want a pony.

So.... when are you leaving?

Chez

13 December 2006
As it happens the "when are you leaving?" question was exactly why I came here.. good job :D

Um.. christmas shopping? "on time"? This smells of planning, Voss. I've got as far as accepting that yes, christmas will happen this year.

Mehragon and oh, I'm gone

Went to see Eragon with Mikey today. It's... well, it's the kind of movie that only I could like. If you can concentrate entirely on the visuals, it's a very pretty movie. Shame about the plot and the dialogue, so the actors tried their best, bless them.

In other news, I'm off to Tobago, then Trinidad, then Tobago again for a bit, the whole lasting two weeks, back in time for NYE. Me and my potential tan will see you then!

My Island Paradise

Not much time to upload photos at the moment, but one will say a thousand words for me:

Mount Urvine beach, Tobago

Hope you're enjoying all that fog, London!

edan

21 December 2006
The fog's pretty cool actually (provided you don't need to get on a plane any time soon), it's the biting cold I'm not so sure about.

Oldest Brother

22 December 2006
Irvine not Urvine...

Laurie

23 December 2006
Is it? Whoops.

Textual intercourse

A quick note: for those of you who have received texts from me from my Trinidadian mobile number, it seems the number can send but not receive international texts -- so please send any messages to my UK number, which can receive and reply just fine.

P.S. It's still hot and sunny.

The year-end review

This year's review was significantly complicated by the fact that the archives of this blog have been totally inaccessible for most of the year. So today I made use of some valuable holiday-time to correct the database corruption that was responsible1. So the archives are back, and now I can review them. Here's last year's review. I'm a little bit premature doing this review on the 26th, so let's hope nothing majorly newsworthy happens between now and the 31st, hey? This year, major events and better pieces of writing on this blog included...

January

February

March

April

  • I developed a nasty allergic reaction to some washing powder. Opportunistic infections followed and turned into a gigantic mess that had me itching frantically for almost 3 months. A really shitty bit of year.
  • April continued its historical trend of being my quietest blogging month. I go outside in Spring.

May

June

  • I considered leaving London for a new challenge. At the time, I was considering moving back to Trinidad, but dismissed it.
  • Trinidad and Tobago qualified for, participated in, and were knocked out of the World Cup, with the whole nation screaming ecstatically for the entire month. As Y! was a sponsor of the cup, work was similarly awash with football mania, leading to a temporary spike in my levels of heterosexuality.
  • I visted Ukraine and enjoyed myself enormously, taking hundreds of photos.
  • I also broke up with my boyfriend of five months sometime around here. I didn't mention the start or the end of it on this blog, and that's how things are likely to continue. I'm not big on personal privacy on this blog, but my romantic life is not something I talk about here.

July

August

  • Castro began his slow decline. He's not likely to last 2007, and it will be interesting to see what happens to Cuba next year.
  • I'd mentioned the terrible depths to which the Israeli-Palestinian situation was sinking the month before, but I underlined that both parties are equally reprehensible and washed my hands of the whole thing (an action which threw the geopolitical scene into turmoil, obviously). It will somehow manage to get worse this year, I've no doubt. Maybe someone will nuke Jerusalem (please)?
  • The terrorists successfully destroyed our decadent Western lifestyle by making international air travel an almost unbearable chore. 2007 will see a plot involving exploding pants, and then the whole tourism industry will pack up its toys and go home.
  • I liked the Orson album. Back in May I was digging the Snow Patrol album, to the horror of my more musically hip friends. Other musical favourites of 2006 included Muse, Sufjan Stevens (again), Larrikin Love and the Fratellis.

September

October

November

December

For the geeks: my host's configuration of mySQL now automatically updates the first TIMESTAMP field to the current time whenever that record is updated. The first TIMESTAMP field in my schema is the creation date of the record. So a bunch of month-parent records of my blog all decided they were in October, and so only looked for entries from that month... so every month became October. Yes, it's poor template design on my part, but also a rubbish feature of mySQL to turn on by default as of (I think) version 4.1...

Matt

28 December 2006
Oooh, Seldo ... When oh when are we going to see gaygeeks.org back online? :-(

Hope you had a great Christmas, and a Happy New Year to you ;-)

matticus

Possibly newsworthy...

So you know how I said I hoped nothing majorly newsworthy happened between the 26th and the end of year? Well, James Brown died, as did Gerald Ford, and also Saddam Hussein in a rushed-through travesty of an execution.

It's still only 11am on the 31st. Stuff can still happen.

Happy New Year!

And once again yay free tubes, yay Ken!