The Good Old Days: Networking in UK Academia 25 Years Ago

For those of us who were lucky enough to be around in the UK academic community in the late 80’s and early 90’s there’s a nice reminder of just how, well, interesting things were in the paper “The Good Old Days: Networking in UK Academia 25 Years Ago” by Jim Reid (who was at Strathclyde then) from the 7th UK Network Operators’ Forum in 2007.

Those were the days when we had to think about obtaining RFC’s by email rather than FTP (no, there was no WWW in 1988) and waiting until 2am to play MIST at Essex, hoping not to get disconnected from JANET 15 minutes later because of the Aberystwyth Ethergate of Death. 🙂


00 00 Call Disconnected

It’s the Planet, Stupid

I think it’s time for a new catchphrase in politics, as we currently have the Labour Party umming and ahhing over the impact of carbon trading on NSW and VIC’s dirty coal generators and jobs, the Liberal Party saying “do nothing, quickly” in the hope of appeasing their corporate paymasters under the guise of protecting the economy and the Nationals being very quiet, probably working out how to square the impact of increased drought on their rural electorates with not falling out with the Liberal party.


If you waste time faffing around trying to not damage the economy (which isn’t a given) and not addressing the issue then it very much looks like there’s not going to be much of a country left to worry about!

CSIRO & BOM report – “Drought: Exceptional Circumstances” (not)

For those looking for the joint assessment by the Bureau of Meteorology and the CSIRO that’s all over the news at the moment, you can find it on the MAFF website. There is also a web page listed for the data and analysis in the report, but it’s not working yet (I guess they forgot the webmaster doesn’t work on weekends).

It’s about 35 pages long and is fairly technical, but not overly daunting. The content, however, is pretty scary. For us in Victoria is it predicting:

  • by 2010-2040, exceptionally hot years are likely to affect about 75% of the region, and occur every 1.3 years on average;
  • by 2010-2040, exceptionally low rainfall years are likely to affect about 10% of the region and occur about once every 12 years on average;
  • by 2030, exceptionally low soil moisture years are likely to affect about 11% of the region and occur about once every 9 years on average.

Historically it says that Victoria and Tasmania are down 109 mm in rainfall since 1950 and average temperature is up by almost 0.8C over the same 50 year timescale.

The most worrying thing is that these predictions are based on a lower level of CO2e emissions than we are currently tracking towards.

Observations since 1990 show that we are tracking the highest IPCC emission scenario, called A1F1, but climate simulations have not been performed using the A1FI scenario. Most climate research institutes around the world did simulations using the mid-range emission scenarios, called A1B and A2. Hence, in this report, projections for the next 20 to 30 years are based on simulations using mid-range emission scenarios.

So if we carry on how we’re doing now, then the reality could be much worse..

Melbourne’s Water (or lack of it)

From todays Weekly Water Update:

Storages are now 29.6% full (524,546 million litres) compared with 31.5% (558,019 million litres) for the same period last year. This is the first time in 2008 that storages have dipped below 2007 levels and coincides with a one-in-30 year storm in late June 2007, when reservoirs saw some of their largest one-day gains on record.

So we’re now the bottom line on their graph..

Vacation Released!

I’m happy to announce the release of Vacation

This is a complete rebase of the current Vacation code base from the closely related version at which had been released under the two clause BSD license (no advertising clause).

This means Vacation finally links legally with the GPL’d GDBM (something I don’t believe people previously realised)!

New features in this version are:

  • Vacation will not reply to emails that have the SpamAssassin “X-Spam-Status: Yes” header, thanks to Roberto Piola.
  • It uses the OpenBSD secure string handling functions strlcat and strlcpy and use of sprintf has been changed to snprintf to enhance resilience.
  • Vacation now uses Eric Raymonds rfc822.c library from his Unix Cookbook for much better parsing RFC2822 email addresses.
  • Should (hopefully!) compile on FreeBSD thanks to Marshal Newrock.
  • Vacation will silently create its database if it is missing (previously it just crashed!).
  • Lots of bug fixes!

This version (still) does not implement support for folded headers for those headers it worries about (From:, Reply-To:, etc), that requires a major reworking of the code that is currently underway in the trunk of the Subversion repository.

Thanks to all those who’ve submitted bug fixes, requested enhancements and sent patches, especially Roberto Piola, Marshal Newrock and Daniel Pittman.

You can download the program from