Archive for March 13th, 2006

More spam stories

In the last 24 hours I have noticed a trend where the spammers are moving away from the tried and tested (and blocked very easily by spam filters) method of using short bits of random text, to having long extracts of weird and nonsensical stories. Here is the one that came in this evening, and is undoubtedly the best one so far.

same thing happened. ‘Are you trying to get in my way on purpose?’ screamed Ivan, infuriated. ‘ You’re the one I’m going to report to the police!’ Ivan tried to grab the choirmaster by the sleeve, missed and found himself grasping nothing : it was as if the choirmaster had been swallowed up by the ground. With a groan Ivan looked ahead and saw the hated stranger. He had already reached the exit leading on to Patriarch’s Street and he was no longer alone. The weird choirmaster had managed to join him. But that was not all. The third member of the company was a cat the size of a pig, black as soot and with luxuriant cavalry officers’ whiskers. The threesome was walking towards Patriarch’s Street, the cat trotting along on its hind legs. As he set off after the villains Ivan realised at once that it was going to be very hard to catch them up. In a flash the three of them were across the street and on the Spiridonovka. Ivan quickened his pace, but the distance between him and his quarry grew no less. Before the poet had


March 13th, 2006 at 11:10pm


This morning’s sunrise had a rather pretty effect on the clouds. Here it is as seen from my house.
Clouds during sunrise


5 comments March 13th, 2006 at 05:01pm

The Telemarketing, House Visiting, Cheap Furniture Con Artists

The fact that the title for this post is a good summary of a dream I had, is quite a worry, and a testament to the abilities of the unconcious mind to imagine.

Yesterday afternoon I had a nap, and during this nap I had a rather disturbing dream, which I have described below.

It was the early evening and I was in the lounge room sitting down having a cup of coffee, as was mum. Dad and Nattie were not in this dream, it is quite possible that they had gone for a walk. Anyway, the phone rang and I walked over to it and answered it, I said “Hello” and a man on the other end of the phone started asking me if I wanted to buy chairs and tables for $10. Suddenly it became very clear to me in my head that this person was a dangerous criminal telemarketer as the news had been filled with stories about him, so I yelled down the phone for him to “go away and don’t ring again”.

I was just about to ring the police when a group of men appeared at the front gate waving chairs and tables and yelling in a moaning type of voice about them being for sale for $10. They opened the gate and started to walk towards the front door. It is worthwhile pointing out that these men had slightly disfigured heads which looked like a mildy exagerrated version of your stereotypical vilain in a “western” movie, they were also wearing suits and chequered flannelette shirts, and some were wearing worn out hats.

I rushed to the front door (wooden door open, wire door closed, as per usual during the day) to ask them to leave, mum followed me to the front door, and I realised that the wire door was unlocked, I reached for it to lock it, but before I could lock it, the leader of the group started to open the door, mum and I grabbed the door handle and tried to pull the door closed, but the group of men started to pull it open and slowly succeeded.

There was a lot of yelling and screaming going on as the men started to try and pull mum and I out the front door. As I was trying to get out of the grip of one of the men who was trying to pull me out of the house, the next door neighbour, George, stepped out of his house to see what all the commotion was about, I spotted him and called out “Call the police George”. George went back inside and the struggle continued, suddenly two police cars appeared and the police dragged the group away. One policeman stayed with mum and I while the men were being dragged away and made a comment about it being good that they had finally caught the dangerous men, and I made a comment about the lock on the wire door.

It is interesting to note that I have been receiving an unusually high number of calls from people who can barely speak english trying to get me to attend a seminar about blinds, awnings and shutters. The first time I spent a few minutes on the phone trying to work out what they were talking about, told them that I wan’t interested and eventually hung up when they just kept trying to persuade me to find out more about blinds, awnings and shutters. The second time I told them I wasn’t interested and not to call again and hung up, and the last two times I have yelled at them that I told them not to call again and hung up.

It is also interesting to note that when I finished my nap this afternoon and went to take Nattie for a walk, the front wire door was unlocked, with people of the household sitting near it.

So far there is no sign of real life telemarketing, house visiting, cheap furtniture con artists, and I think I’ll keep it that way.


3 comments March 13th, 2006 at 02:26pm

Australia Post Statistics

One of the interesting things about Australia Post is that it is possible to generate statistics based on forms they give you copies of, when you fill them in. This is made possible by the serial numbers applied to the services the forms are used for, being in numerical order.

One such form is the Registered Post form, which gets filled in for every article sent via Registered Post, Australia Post’s insured post. Each Registered Post article is given a unique serial number, known as the “Registered Post Number”, this number is prefixed with the letters “RL” as is issued in numerical order. It is therefore possible to calculate how many Registered Post articles have been sent in a certain period of time based on these numbers.

On a recent check of the filing cabinet I found an old Registered Post form, from the year 2003, I also have two recent registered post forms.

  • 3 November, 2003: RL29793824
  • 6 March, 2006: RL37594801
  • 10 March, 2006: RL37594835

Because I don’t have the exact times of each article being posted, and because having times would make the calculations too messy for quick use, some assumptions need to be made about the times of postage which do, unfortunately, add a small degree of error to the calculations. For the purposes of these calculations we will assume that each article was the last one posted on that day, which means that we need to subtract one item from each calculation to have “full day” figures.

For example, if item 15 was the last item sent on Monday and item 50 was the last item sent on Wednesday, a calculation of “50-15” would be a calculation of one item from Monday, and every item from Tuesday and Wednesday. A calculation of “50-16” would be a calculation of every item posted on Tuesday and Wednesday…this is effectively the same thing as subtracting one item from the “50-15” calculation.

Now that we have the theory behind us, we can perform some calculations:

  • From the start of 4 November, 2003 to the end of 6 March, 2006, a timeframe of 854 days, 7,800,976 Registered Post Articles were sent, an average of 9,134.63232 Registered Post articles per day (rounded to five decimal places).
  • From the start of 4 November, 2003 to the end of 10 March, 2006, a timeframe of 858 days, 7,801,010 Registered Post Articles were sent, an average of 9,092.08625 Registered Post articles per day (rounded to five decimal places).
  • From the start of 7 March, 2006 to the end of 10 March, 2006, a timeframe of 4 days, 33 Registered Post Articles were sent, an average of 8.25000 Registered Post articles per day (rounded to five decimal places).

The last figure does seem somewhat erroneous, and I suppose that it is possible that the numbering system isn’t entirely sequential, perhaps giving specific computers a block of numbers at a time. Regardless, the system is at least mostly sequential, and it would be unwise to expect perfect statistics from an external source anyway. Australia Post undoubtedly would have access to the true figures, and I would be surprised if they differ much from the ones above (with the exception of the last figure).

One interesting statistic from the Australia Post Annual Report for 2004-2005 is the number of items posted, which for the 2003-2004 financial year was 5,307,500,000 and for the 2004-2005 financial year was 5,363,100,000, a total of 10,670,600,000 from the start of 1 July, 2003 to the end of 30 June, 2005, a period of 731 days, which makes an average of 14,597,264.02189 items posted every day (rounded to five decimal places).

If we use that average to estimate the total amount of mail posted from the start of 4 November, 2003 to the end of 10 March, 2006 (a period of 858 days), we can estimate that 12,524,452,531 (rounded to nearest whole number) articles were posted, which makes registered post (a total of 7,801,010 articles for the same period) a mere 0.06229% of Australia Post’s mail.

If one was willing to work out the number of days post offices were open during this period, it would also be possible to work out the average time between postage of each item, and each Registered Post item, sent through Australia Post.

I personally found that quite interesting, I hope you did too.


3 comments March 13th, 2006 at 11:40am

Samuel’s NRL Tips: Round 1: Results

I think the best way to summarise my tips for Round 1 would be to call them “shocking”.

I picked 1/7, which is 14.29%.


2 comments March 13th, 2006 at 08:10am

Editorial Echoes #1

Editorial Echoes
Editorial Echoes #1 for Monday March 13, 2006 is online. Today’s topic is mobile phone charges, how they’ve become too complex, and what can be done to fix it.

Many thanks to Chuck A. Spear who suggested the “Editorial Echoes” name, and thanks to everyone who suggested names.

Editorial Echoes hs its own email address,
The podcast feed can be found at
iTunes subscribe link coming soon.
The Editorial Echoes page, with a listing of all episodes can be found at

Future posts about future Editorial Echoes episodes will not contain the logo, and will be much shorter than this one.


21 comments March 13th, 2006 at 03:10am


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