My inner geek awakened…

Now, to be clear – I always hated Ensign Wesley Crusher (sorry Wil!). While well known among my various groups of friends as a “trekkie”, few of them ever watched it. The occasional times that my parents, brothers or friends would happen to sit down in the sitting room while ST:TNG was on, I’d often try and talk the show up. Then, along comes this lanky geeky child character navigating the fucking USS Enterprise and saving the bloody universe. Credibility, please try not to break the glass as you fly out the window. Thanks.

While googling around the other day, I came across a couple of blogs by Wil Wheaton – better known among us geeks as Ensign Wesley Crusher. I never knew what became of him since ST:TNG and my curiosity was aroused (if you don’t know what ST:TNG means then stop reading now!) .

Now, to be clear – I always hated Acting-Ensign Wesley Crusher (sorry Wil!). While well known among my various groups of friends as a “trekkie”, few of them ever watched it. The occasional times that my parents, brothers or friends would happen to sit down in the sitting room while ST:TNG was on, I’d often try and talk the show up. Then, along comes this lanky geeky child character navigating the fucking USS Enterprise and saving it at the last bloody minute. Credibility, please try not to break the glass as you fly out the window. Thanks.

There were so many blood curdling and embarrassing scenes containing Wesley Crusher that I only prayed and hoped that the actor shared my embarrassment as I watched through slitted eyes.

Turns out, he sort of did! Well, some of the time. While Wesley Crusher was never the object of “hero worship” for this particular geek, he was still on ST:TNG and as such he carries a certain currency with me. And this is why it was so… exciting (yes, I’ve admitted it!) for me to stumble across his sites. It’s rare to be able to get so “close” to the actors we watch or have watched so often on screen and I’ve even gone and purchased his two books from Amazon – what the hell, in for a penny, in for a pound.

From what I’ve read so far, he seems interesting, a Linux user and a geek (!), very open and honest and he throws in the odd story about Star Trek too; in particular WILLIAM FUCKING SHATNER Part I and Part II – well worth a read if you’re a trekkie. He’s now earned a spot on my (small and insignificant) Blogroll. You’ll find Wil’s old stuff at www.wilwheaton.net and his newer stuff at WWdN: In Exile.

As an aside: Unfortunately for Wil, the producers went and got it right for the next series in the character of Jake Cisco played by Cirroc Lofton.

The Not So Short Introduction to LaTeX

Following a recent thread on ILUG, I was reminded of what I consider an invaluable resource for LaTeX: The Not So Short Introduction to LaTeX (or LaTeX in 139 minutes – you’ll have to read it to discover why 139).

This document held a place of esteem on my desk during my research years in UCD and I am very grateful to its author, Tobias Oetiker. I think I still have a coffee stained version somewhere in the house…

Is It Anyone’s Business Whether or Not I Read Their E-mail?

I got an e-mail today from a third-party on behalf of a mutual customer. This person wanted to remind me that his e-mail to me the day before “was opened 22 mins 7 seconds after [he] sent it to [me]” and he was wondering if I had made any progress.

How did he know that? There was no message box advising me that the sender had requested a read receipt and asking if I wanted to send it. There was however a warning from my e-mail client (KMail) advising me that there were external references embedded in the HTML e-mail message. Like a fool, I disregarded this warning and clicked to display these references the first time around.

When I got his reminder I went back and examined the HTML content. At the end of the message was a link to an image on http://img.msgtag.com/. When this image is loaded, it notifies the sender that their mail has been opened along with the time elapsed from sending the mail to when it was eventually opened. MSGTAG is the company that provides this service in this instance.

I was annoyed about this. Damned annoyed. Someone e-mailing me had surreptitiously embedded an external image in an e-mail to for the express purpose of identifying when I opened his mail _without_ my permission and in violation of my privacy. It’s nobody’s damned business when or even if I have read their e-mails.

That information should be requested via the long established mechanism of requesting read receipts allowing the recipient to decide whether or not to notify the sender that their message has been read. In my case it’s not that hugh an issue – generally speaking I would not load external references. But what about the 90% or more of less informed users who would or whose clients wouldn’t even ask first?

With my somewhat limited knowledge of the Data Protection Act I am quite convinced that this is in breach of it. I’m not a lawyer and would love the opinion of one on this.

Back On-line

Hello folks,

After almost a years downtime, I have resurrected this blog (now under new software – WordPress) and re-populated it with my old posts.

The last ten months have been pretty hectic. I started a new job with an Irish telecommunications company and helped create their ISP from scratch. I also purchased a house in Dublin and completely renovated it. All of this kept me away from my blog and other hobbies.

Hopefully I’m back for good. Stay tuned for some rants 😉