Growing Up

I’ve done so much this last week, but I’ll get around to that later.

This is a special message for all of you who are using Windows Messenger (a.k.a. Microsoft Messenger (a.k.a. MSN Messenger)). It’s just a summary of all the reasons you shouldn’t be, and why you should be using ICQ instead. If you’re an MSN user, please take a moment to read through this post and make up your own mind.

Still got arguments? Scroll down to the bottom…


  1. Number one – top of the list, I feel – Microsoft eventually plan to charge you for using MSN Messenger. This probably isn’t the end of the world, because they won’t charge for all of it, yet – they’ll probably start by charging for video chats or some other superfluous feature. But they’re also trying to become an even more dominant instant messaging client… now ask yourself: why would Microsoft want a monopoly in something that isn’t making them any money?
  2. Secondly, security: did you know that for several months earlier this year, it was possible for any bright 13-year old to get your Passport password, the technology that supposedly prevents unauthorised users from logging on as you to not only Messenger, but also eBay, Microsoft Gaming Zone, your Hotmail account, if you’re stupid enough to have one, etc. Even having a Passport account put you at risk! This security hole has now been fixed, but do you trust Microsoft, with their history of security flaws, not to make another similar blunder?
  3. Thirdly, let’s start to look at some features – Messenger does not support, and probably never will support, offline messages. How many times have you Messenger users logged on to talk to a friend who wasn’t there and had to send an e-mail instead? How about when somebody logs off just as you were about to say something important to them? Both of these have been supported for years by ICQ.
  4. User naming on the contact list in Messenger is a joke – the names of your friends are chosen by your friends, not by you. This doesn’t sound like a big deal until you know two people called, say, ‘Richard’, and you have to hover over each of them in the contact list to identify which is which. There is no facility for you to rename them to something more meaningful. It also allows endless pranks – for example, change your name to ‘Richard (Blocked)’, and all your friends will think that they’ve blocked you from sending messages to them. In most sensible IM clients, including of course ICQ, the name that initially appears on your contact list when you add a new friend is the one that they specified, but the freedom remains with you to change it to whatever name you like – their real name, a nickname, or whatever. Oh, and did I forget to mention that you can ‘send contacts’ to one another with the click of a button?
  5. Messenger will only talk to Messenger. Other clients often talk to one or more other clients, too. The latest version of ICQ, for example, can also talk to users of AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), which also sucks, but hey, at least it helps you keep in touch with your unenlightened friends.
  6. Out of an abject fear of people being allowed to talk to people they don’t know, Messenger users can only ever talk to people who’s Passport-linked e-mail addresses they know. On the other hand, ICQ users are able to search for their friends in an online whitepages, or even for new friends – people with similar interests. And, of course, there is no security risk because your details are only published to the whitepages if you want them to be, and you can disclose as much or as little about yourself as you like.
  7. Platform independence! Messenger runs on Windows and MacOS (although many Mac-users are smart enough to use other systems, anyway). ICQ runs on Windows (all the way back to 3.11 and also on palmtops), MacOS, and PalmOS; and clients exist for Linux, BeOS, etc… and hell, if you’re on some other platform (or in a library or internet cafe or somewhere else you’re not allowed to install software) you can still use ICQ so long as Java is installed by going to ICQ2Go and using it right there from the web! This ensures that you and your enlightened friends can chat even when you’re on the road.
  8. And that’s not even beginning to mention such ICQ features as a spellchecker, contact list groupings, a smaller memory footprint and a faster program, file sharing (not just sending), the ability to build complex privacy rules (e.g. “people on my contact list are allowed to know my telephone number, except for Anne and Bob, and only people I specify can send me contacts”), features to store extra information about people (e.g. their birthday, if they don’t supply it themselves), birthday reminders…

All my friends are on Messenger?
Be the first to switch. They’ll follow you when they see the benefits. In any case, you can happily run ICQ and Messenger alongside one another, or install a third-party program like Trillian to use both at the same time (that said, Microsoft are trying to stop third-party programs from using Messenger, because, as I said above, they’re trying to make a monopoly of the instant messaging market).

ICQ is more complicated that Messenger.
That’s because it has more features. A car is more complex than a bicycle. However, if you want a little help easing into ICQ, try ICQ Lite, a simplified, prettified version. And when you’re ready for the deep water, you can switch to ICQ Pro effortlessly.

More people use Messenger than ICQ.
More people use Windows than any other operating system. Hell, 10,000 lemmings a year can’t be wrong.

I have a good reason to keep on using Messenger that you haven’t talked about.
Then drop me an e-mail already (or an ICQ instant message – to 113207058), or leave a comment here, and I’ll get to it as soon as I can. If I can’t make you see the light now, then the best I can do is hope that you do when Microsoft send you a bill for the service you’re using.

Thanks for listening;

Growing Up

The older I get, the more I become like those people my parents used to warn me about when I was younger.

It’s Over

It’s over to you:
I can’t find the answers when you’re gone.
And it’s over to you;
You can’t find the answers where you are.
I won’t tear you down!
I won’t tear you down,
To get into the world you wanted.
I’m kicking through the walls…
No-one can believe in the things that never change.

– “It’s Over”, The Goo Goo Dolls

I can’t sleep. Tomorrow’s a big day and I really oughta get some, and I’m knackered, but hey.

Tomorrow’s the first day of the Fresher’s Fayre. I’ll be selling hot dogs, alongside Kit and Paul, all day, in order to raise money for Nightline. Perhaps I just don’t feel like everything’s sorted yet. This last week I’ve spent most of my working hours at the office, and as a result the amount of planning and preparation that has gone into this three-day event has been a blur to me… perhaps that’s why it doesn’t feel ‘finished’ – because as far as I’m concerned, it never really ‘started’. This project… I’ve not really been a part of.

The plan is to meet up early in the morning and collect the remainder of our supplies – fresh bread, bacon, and other perishables – then go and set up in the Sports Cage on Penglais Campus. Then, having set up all of our stuff, we’ll go and check that the Nightline stand itself has been set up and see if the Nightliners who’ll be running it want a breakfast bacon sandwich.

My Local Education Authority contacted me to tell me that while they’ll offer me my usual student loan for this, my final year in education, they won’t pay my tuition fees. This puts me in a moderately complicated situation, as I’m not able to pay them myself out of my current income. Instead, my current plan – should my appeal to them fail – is to find an unsecured loan I can take out to pay for my studies, and pay it off after my graduation. Hopefully, however, they can be persuaded to pay, and that won’t be necessary.

This town’s fascinating this time of year. So many students reappearing… look down any street and you’ll see two young people struggling to carry a TV into a house. A stark contrast to the two weeks previous, in which it’s been a ghost town, or the weeks before that, when we were infested with tourists.

Claire’s come down with the Freshers’ Flu early – characteristic illness of University towns at that time of year when people from all over the country bring their local illnesses to one place all at once. There should probably be some kind of quarantine process or something. Like out here during the Foot & Mouth outbreak.

I’m going to go fridgesurfing then write some more code to the sound of Goo.

Sleep well, sweet Aberystwyth;


This article is a repost promoting content originally published elsewhere. See more things Dan's reposted.

This repost was published in hindsight, on 11 March 2019.

Sian wrote:

Just got back from me favourite sleepy seaside town, missing it already. Dumped my brother in Penbryn, caught up with Strokey in the Blue Creek Cafe (which now has my fave Aber hot chocolate), learnt the wonders of googlewhacking and disneyporn with Dan and Claire, and saw Derry for the first time in ages (and got a Hollywood, yay!). It was so nice to wake up with someone again. Nice lazy Aber day today. I know I’ve done the right thing with having a year out – I’ve got loads more confidence and money – but I did feel jealous seeing all the ickle freshers arriving all nervous and excited.

My cousin, who’s in the TA, has just been called up to serve in Basra, which sucks. He’s just turned 18. Ok, so it’s his choice, I’m sure he’ll be fine, and he’ll get loads of money for it, unlike the Iraqi civilians who had no choice in the matter, but it still sucks for his family. Ach well, that’s war for you.

I don’t recall this particular incident of googlewhacks and disneyporn, but I can imagine the conversation, in retrospect. The former probably came up in respect to my experiments around that time into Google Search’s quirks and googlebombability; the latter perhaps an attempt to squick out “Strokey” Adam.

Dsixeyla For Bneingers

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 that 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.

Cottage Pie

This morning, while picking up my microwavable Cottage Pie from Somerfield (the best microwave meal I’ve ever had – it’s really quite good considering that it’s re-heated mincemeat and dehydrated mashed potato), I noticed a new product – a similar item but in a slightly smaller container, as part of their “So Good” range. Upon examining the back of the packet, I realised that the major differences by weight ratio were that the “So Good” version – apparently better for you – had very slightly less salt, potato and onion, and worcester sauce added. It seems that the biggest reason this new product is better for you than the old one – and worthy of an increased price tag once it’s introductory special offer expires – is that there isn’t so much of it. I’ll be sticking with my normal cottage pie, thanks.

While I’m busy complaining, why is it that I have to work somewhere that’s to the East of where I live, which means that when I cycle to work in the morning the sun is in my eyes, and it’s still blinding me when I cycle back home in the evening? Bring on the winter, I say! Back to the blizzards and the short daylight hours when I was able to cycle both directions in the dark with no lights on. That’s the way forward!


Outside my office window is a large field, which several months ago was divided into three smaller fields, each of which was planted with a different mixture of grass and some other leafy plant. Yesterday, half a dozen sheep with large numbers sprayed onto their flanks were moved into each of these partitions. This morning, a number of postgraduate researchers from the Department of Rural Studies moved in and watched them for awhile. I’m told this is an experiment to see which food the sheep prefer. It’s still quite amusing to watch while I really should be working. I have lots of work to do.

I see that The Register is onto it’s third story relating to the VeriSign/DNS issue I mentioned the other day. It’s good to read that the internet community is ‘fighting back’. In addition, today’s UserFriendly has a sweet and subtle parody of the current ‘wildcard DNS’ situation. Geek humour only.

Term starts in just a few more days. I’m excited and glad to be returning to academia ‘properly’ again – and actually planning to get a degree at the end of this year. So long as I can keep my finances sweet, it’ll all be great.

VeriSign Kicking Up Yet More Of A Fuss

Still no word from BBC News on the bastards that VeriSign are being, but The Register are on to their second news report on the subject, and SlashDot have information about the technological “fight back”. What does a person have to do to keep their state news agency up to date these days?

Have you seen VeriSign’s web site at (only works thanks to their own controversial configuraion changes)

In other news, I’ve worked out how to set up wildcard DNS of my own in BINDs configuration files. Now all I need to do is buy an interesting domain name, and I could run the next IsGay or YouAreLame site. Which would be cool. I have a few ideas… suggestions welcome…

Darwin Was Wrong

The more and more humans I encounter, the more I come to the realisation that Darwin was wrong. The internet provides endless examples of humans so biosociologically defective that whatever it is that makes them tick should have died out eons ago. Us and our damned supportive society harbouring counterproductive genes will be the death of us. But hey, who cares.

In particular, is a great example of why some people shouldn’t be allowed to see sunlight.

In other news: I’m not getting enough work done. Back to it…

First Aid

Yesterday was a long day. After nine hours at work, had two and a half hours of First Aid refresher training at Aberystwyth ambulance station.

On the upside, I’d forgotten how subtly dark paramedics’ sense of humour can be… when one particularly overmoral woman expressed concern at a particular element of the training: “But they could die!”, one of the ‘medics responded, deadpan, with: “No; they’re already a corpse. They’re dead. They’re just lying there, being completely useless.” I like paramedics.

I have a lot of work to do this week – my final week full-time before starting again as a part-timer while I put some work towards graduating – and I’m getting bogged down in other people’s bureaucracy. I can’t get my client’s clients’ computers to connect to my client’s computer because my client’s network administrator has put a particularly secure firewall in the way, and he needs a list of IP addresses (unique identifiers for computers on TCP/IP networks, like the Internet) of all the servers on my client’s clients’ networks, but everybody’s got meetings at stupid times and I can never get hold of the people I need when I need them and… aarrgghh!!!

It’ll all be fine.

UserFriendly And VeriSign

Today’s UserFriendly cartoon strip plays on the issue highlighted by yesterday’s entry about VeriSign trying to take over the Internet. Really – the geeks are up in arms.

Still no word from BBC News, but the following other agencies have picked up on the story:

“VeriSign redirects error pages” from C|Net News

“VeriSign slammed for helping spammers” from ZDNet Australia

“ICANN up in arms over Verisign DNS hijacking” from The Inquirer, UK

And tongue-in-cheek technical debate on

Told you this would kick up a fuss. You read it here first.