A few years ago when I registered my first domain name, digitalheroine.com (no longer in use), I received a letter that really got to me. This letter was from a rival domain registrar to Dotster, the company I have chosen to manage all my domains through. This letter offered me “cheaper” domain registration, even though it was in fact far more expensive than the registrar that I was already using.

This morning a letter arrived from the US and I thought it was going to be another similar letter. I studied the envelope carefully and considered throwing it out until I took a close look and realised it was from America Online (AOL). Some will remember my small gripe with AOL (October 23, 2005) after they closed down Mailblocks, the mail service I had used and trusted for quite some time.

One of the things that came about during the time when I was pissed off was a promise from AOL to refund what I had paid for my “Pro” account. I went through the steps, filled out the form and never believed for a moment that the day would come that I would actually see my check. So this morning when I go through my bank statements, open up my new books from Amazon and find the letter from AOL, I realize that I’ve don it! I FUCKING WON! I BEAT AOL! I have a check in my hand for $24.95 and the feeling is so satisfying that I am not going to cash it. I will keep it for all time, a tribute to the occasion I managed to get something out of AOL. The bastards.

AOL Refind   AOL Refund
AOL Refund   AOL Refund

Firefox Extensions

I’ve used Firefox for a long time now and tried out various extensions to make life easier. Some I have deleted, some I have kept, but here is the list that I have found most useful.

General/Utility Extensions

  • Sage would have to be the best newsreader I have ever used, and the fact it’s inside the browser makes it doubly useful.
  • Foxmarks Bookmark Synchronizer allows me to synchronize my bookmarks between Windows/Linux and my USB drive when I am away from my computer.
  • Gmail Manager notifies me when I receive new e-mail to my Gmail account.
  • VideoDownloader is an extension that allows you to save the video files viewed on Youtube, Google Videos etc.

Blogging Extensions

  • JustBlogIt makes writing my A-sides a very simple task. This plugin allows me to make quick entries to my blog, automatically creating the links you see on the right of the website.
  • del.icio.us allows me to add links to my del.icio.us account for viewing on the right hand side also.
  • Google Notebook is what I use to collect notes when I am writing. It’s an online scrapbook of thoughts.

Development Extensions

  • Web Developer allows me to live edits of CSS and view valuable information about a website when I am designing.
  • Colorzilla, an eyedropper for a website, it allows me to quickly grab and change colors when I am designing.
  • MeasureIt is a plugin I don’t use often, but it helps me when I want to know how wide a div/span is or a banner needs to be.
  • IE Tab allows me to see what my site looks like in the shitty browser known as IE.

Paranoia Lurks

I remember learning to hack in high school and to circumvent certain Windows and *nix security by my computer teacher, Mr. Smith (no the name isn’t made up). I learned from him the basics of hacking, real hacking. I wasn’t a “l33t hax0r” or a script kiddie, he just insisted it was important to understand these vulnerabilities to be a smarter computer user and to understand computer security. He also insisted that it wasn’t for reading other peoples e-mail or planting malicious code. “The only secure 100% computer is a computer not connected to the Internet or a LAN, but no computer is secure if you can physically get to it,” I remember him saying.

In grade 8 we watched two movies; Sneakers and Hackers. Sneakers has mildly realistic hacking scenes, with Hackers being so far blown out of proportion with a graphical hacking environment that the whole thing is laughable. Both movies shared the same message; true hackers aren’t evil, but hacking can be used for bad things.

Throughout high school most students didn’t use their computer accounts for anything very interesting. Some didn’t have the knowledge or desire to do so, but some knew that I would be able to gain access to their account if I wanted to and feared it. Just for the record; I could, but never once did. I found the situation pretty funny considering that I also had administrator access granted to me for the purposes of study, but didn’t bother to tell anyone that.

The later years of school is when “hacking” became a term used almost every night on the news. Stories of how script kiddies have bought down a server or managed to guess someones credit card details would circulate, while calling these people “hackers.” I knew there was something wrong with this and began to notice that all my online friends who studied hacking began going underground.

Hackers began calling themselves Computer Security Experts and script kiddies began calling themselves hackers. The world changed before my eyes and before I knew it The Mentor, someone I was mildly familiar with, was arrested and he wrote the Hacker Manifesto. It talks more about the psychology of a hacker, the curious computer user, but since has been used in films like Hackers.

Suddenly the hacker culture is gone and has been replaced by some form of wannabe culture, a culture that is “too cool for school” and has shaped what modern hacking is. The problem with this culture is the fact that it has created a culture in mainstream society of paranoia and it’s the very paranoia that drives these “hackers” to succeed. Think of when you were back in high school and your parents would say, “just ignore them and they’ll leave you alone.”

Now the biggest reason I write this is because while looking around digg as I often do, I came across this news presentation (watch the video that is attached), which is possibly one of the most paranoid views of the modern computer world I have seen in some time. It pigeon holes internet talk (a.k.a. l33t sp34k) as something dangerous to society and encourages parents to do everything short of anally probing their children to make sure they know everything they say and do on the internet.

Parents, lighten up for crying out loud, it’s an MSN conversation, not a plot to take over the world. While I understand that the internet makes it slightly easier for children and teens to communicate without their parents knowing, it’s no different than taking the cordless phone to the bedroom, chatting about things out or earshot or at school, or simply making a verbal code for when parents are around. Parents will often talk about “C.H.R.I.S.T.M.A.S.” in front of their children by spelling it out, do they honestly think their children will not one day be smarter than them and find their own ways of communicating in this fashion?

Majority of the acronyms used on the internet are to save time and not to undermine anyone. I would honestly rather write “lol @ Dave,” than, “oh wow Dave, your humor has gotten me once again and I must admit I just let out a rather loud chortle!” PAW (Parents Are Watching) was around when I was a kid, but I never once had to use it. Why? Because my parents gave me the freedom to explore the internet and enjoy my teenage life without putting a microscope up my ass. And given that fact, I am not an imprisoned hacker and I am a part of a majority, not a minority.

I think most parents these days would remember times when they had done something they didn’t want their parents to know about. I am furthermore sure that at least one of these times their parents nearly found out from a friend, but they managed to give the appropriate signal (a wink of the eye, gesture of the head or just a “shut up” look) to terminate the conversation. Would they seriously deny their children the same adolescence?

Hackers, real hackers, are not a danger to society. Internet talk or l33t speak is not a danger to society. Can the world just lighten up a little and take it with the appropriate measure of good sense. It’s the fucking internet, not a terrorist playground!

Just Being Mitch

Sitting at home on a Saturday night gives a funny feeling these days. Most Saturday nights I am surrounded by my friends at a bar, having laughs and winding down from the week I’ve just had. It’s usually a lot of fun, but it costs a lot of money and usually causes a bit of trouble and sometimes I’d just rather be at home geeking out or visiting Mik. Unfortunately I didn’t think early enough to call Mik, but the point remains that I spent the Saturday just gone chilling and geeking out.

Saturdays agenda:
1. Chatting
I haven’t gotten on MSN and chatted to friends in such a long time. Having a chat to Kevin really made me realise what a great friend I have in him and it felt good to just have a few laughs with him and catch up. Personally, the highlight of the conversation was the finish:

) by http://www.flickr.com/people/bananasontoast/ on flickr.com

Be Evil 🙂, originally uploaded by Mitch Malone on flickr.com.

Also had a nice chat with Selina (sundayx), the sweetest and most beautiful London girl there is, she is honestly fantastic!

Just put the finishing touched on MMdN , my latest online project. After letting http://www.mitchmalone.com/ expire and become a flower shop (wtf?) I have decided to register the new domain http://www.mitchmalone.name/ instead. The new site is purely a résumé and will soon become a portfolio of my online works and projects also.

Looked at some design ideas for the future of bananas on toast. I am looking at taking the website back to code and completely redesigning the interface of it, including some exciting new ideas to make the site prettier and easier to navigate. This will be a long time down the track, but it’s exciting none the less.

3. General Geeking Out
Playing PSP, downloading lusic on iTunes, watching Prison Break re-runs on my PC, reading geek news websites, packing my bag full of mp3 goodness for work and watching (oh no, run!) Star Trek.

Oh yeah, it was a good night.

3 Reasons to Query Your Telco Bill

Tonight I logged on to check my phone bill and noticed it was a bit large and went through some documentation I had here in hard copy. I found a bill saying that I had around $80 overdue on my account and figured that is why it was large and called my Telco (I won’t drom names) to say “whassup?!” It turns out that my charges were legitimate and I just use my phone to much, but the coolest thing happened afterwards.

The operator on the phone asked me politely, “may I take a few minutes of your time and ask your some questions about your service with [Telco]?”

This is where I am supposed to say that my capped plan is awesome and I love making phone calls and text I don’t have to pay for and laugh in the operators face. Instead I realize that the only thing I have to look forward to tonight is trying to code some PHP with a headache so I humor him. “Sure,” I say smoothly and prepare my replies for when he offers me shitty ways to “reduce my bill”.

“How would you like to pay $10 less per month, get another $300 worth of calls, get less expensive calls, be one of the first to try out the 3G network in Australia, AND get a new Nokia N70 phone?”

My wit escapes me and my replies all seem like discarded palm cards as I stutter, “what’s the catch?”

The operator laughs and cooly says, “the same catch we always have here at [Telco], you just have to sign for another 12 months!”

Now, for those of you who are uninitiated: I am a mobile-a-holic. Seriously. I text a lot, I talk a lot and I love the idea of being in touch with people and I use my phone for almost everything. So offering a free phone that has all the latest gadgets to a technophile and a mobile addict is like putting cake in front of a fat kid.

So, the three reasons to query your Telco:

  1. Cheaper shit
  2. New, free and cool phone
  3. I won indoor soccer

Clearly 3 has nothing to do with anything, but I had to put that in there. Take that you little 17 year old twats, we smashed your asses and I feel like such a hero in my own lunchbox!

Sincerely yours,
Signing off,

P.S. Rawk! m/

//www.flickr.com/people/bananasontoast/ on flickr.com

Nokia N70, originally uploaded by bananasontoast on flickr.com.

Fuck AOL

At the risk of being seriously cliché and hating AOL, I just had to say it. Fuck them, fuck them in their stupid asses. I have used Mailblocks e-mail services for a long time and even invested in buying the pro account, which after conversion to US dollars, cost me quite a bit. I did so because I loved the spam protection they had to offer.

Well about 6 months ago, AOL acquired Mailblocks and said that they would keep the service and maintain the website. As of about 2 weeks ago I have been informed this isn’t the case and I am downright pissed off.

My email address has been MitchMalone [at] mailblocks [dot] com for almost two years now. It’s easy to remember, most of my friends have it and it’s mine. Now I have to settle for the next best alternative username provided by AOL’s terrific system: MitchMalone08398@aol.com. Why don’t they just assign me the email, WeTookYourMoneyAndYourEmailHAHAHAHA_PWNED_LOL@aol.com. Pricks.

Now I am off to configure SpamAssassin and hope for the best. Wish me luck my fellow spam haters!

What the fox with firefox?

Firefox has been my choice of browser for quite a while now, but I never understood just how great it was until I discovered the power of the extensions available.

Anyone currently view my weblog in Internet Explorer will be tollerating a banner at the top of the page advertising Firefox and probably even seeing a few small differences in the way the site is supposed to look. This is because as much as I have tried to be cross-browser formatter, sometime IE just sucks.

Here are a bunch of Firefox extensions that I use on a daily basis I thought I’d share with anyone who either hasn’t had a look at extensions or just hasn’t looked at the ones that I use. And if you haven’t even downloaded Firefox yet, shame on you!


Bookmarks Synchronizer – A great utility that allows you to upload your bookmarks to an FTP space somewhere. Terrific for backing up and making sure you can have your bookmarks wherever you are.
WebmailCompose – A great way to compose email simply and easily when you use webmail rather than a program like Thunderbird or (*puke*) Outlook.

Blogging Extensions

del.icio.us postdel.icio.us allows you to make a collection of links for use in weblogs and other only applications, but del.icio.us post makes it easy for you to add the links.
JustBlogIt – This simple plugin allows you to make a new weblog entry with a link to the current page you a using. Especially good if you are using WordPress and Asides.
Sage – Possibly the best news aggregator. Ever.

Design and Development Extensions

BBCode – A simple way to add HTML/XHTML/BBCode to your text entry boxes. No more trying to remember how to bold your text or how to make a list.
ColorZilla – A great way of getting colors from webpages. The latest site redesign would have taken another 10 days without this puppy!
IEView – A great way of instantly opening up an Internet Explorer window. As much as I hate it, sometimes dumbasses don’t program for Firefox.
Web Developer – Easily the most handy development tool made for Firefox. Instantly edit CSS, outline elemtents, validate HTML and much much more!

Scenery? Shutter up!

Today I had the pleasure of opportunity to play with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ30K, one of their latest digital SLR cameras. It tries very hard to bust into a market that is predominantly owned by Canon and Nikon, that market being low to medium range SLR digital cameras. The camera itself didn’t impress me at all and a lot of it really disappointed me, but a few things made me laugh.

The first thing is that it claims to be an SLR (single lens reflex) camera, however it uses an LCD to display the viewing image. The second being some of the more exotic scene modes including; Portrait, Sports, Food, Scenery, Night Scenery, Panning, Night Portrait, Fireworks, Party, Snow, Baby, Soft Skin, Starry Sky, Candle. What the hell is with all of those? Do people honestly take so many photos of candles and “soft skin” that they require their own shot mode? I doubt it.

In honor of their wonderful scene modes, I made up a few of my own. A few that have some practical uses in the real world and people would actually use. Panasonic, if you read this and use my ideas, I don’t ask for much: One… Hundred… Billion… Quabadazillion dollars! Okay, so here goes, Mitch’s scene modes.

Porn mode – Pretty obvious, it enhances the skin, makes dicks look bigger and helps your girlfriend look less like she is faking it. Also has an advanced image stabilizer that adapts to your sexual rhythm and allows you to take better shots.

Perv mode – All the lights outside go off and all sounds deactivate. The Sunglasses (sold separately) use a laser to “paint” the target in order to locate it, the camera does the rest. No more awkward moments on the beach when your aunt asks you if you just photographed her nude!

Bitch mode – You’ve just run into your girlfriend who insists you are still friends and you “just have to get a photo together!” Bitch mode will have her looking like an ugly trollop and have you looking like Don Juan Delanooch! Please note, the camera improves the looks of the person holding the camera, make sure you take a self portrait or you too could have egg ass on your face.

Dick head mode – No, it’s not the male equivalent of the bitch mode. Simply put; your taking a photo of the guy who gate crashed your party, it puts a dick on his head.

Spew mode – While taking photos of vomiting friends at parties, the camera listens for the token “HUUEAAAHHH!” and snaps a shot the instant the carrots fly! No more getting angry because all you got was a set of bleary eyes and a puddle that looks like a dropped pie, catch every spew shot at your next kegger!

Teen shot – Whether your 16 or 17, you are bound to be taking photos of your eyes, tits, bits and pieces, lame shoes, stupid hair, “emo” looks, pasty white boyfriends/girlfriends, angsty drawings, animals that weight less than a kilo, or a billion other things. This setting will make sure that your shots turn out grainy like a webcam shot at a crap resolution and all ready to be uploaded to your latest online “rate me” site.

How to…

…make the LCD panel work that you believed to have been faulty for 3 and a half months, and made you curse your server every single day since it “broke down”.

Step 1. Make sure power cable is connected.

This “How to…” was proudly bought to you by bananas on toast and Mitch Malone, and has been a public service announcement.

I’m a GQ playa!

I'm a GQ playa! by http://www.flickr.com/people/bananasontoast/ on flickr.com

I’m a GQ playa!, originally uploaded by bananasontoast on flickr.com.

According to Melpo, I am a GQ playa. For those who are lame (like me) and have no idea what this means, check this shit out…

UrbanDictionary.com defins GQ as; “Used to describe a guy who is dressed nicely, very sleek, or very sexy to the ladies. The term comes form the men’s fashion magazine named GQ. Example: Damn nigga, you all GQued up 2nite, huh?

…that’s right peoples, how fine am I?! TOO FINE! Hahahaha.