Bedtime Book for Parents

via GalleyCat on 4/25/11

To cheer up exhausted parents with an over-energetic child or collicky baby, Akashic Books will publish Go the F*** To Sleep in October.

What do you think? Author A.J. Jacobs called it “the most honest children’s book ever written.” Adam Mansbach (The End of the Jews) wrote the book and Ricardo Cortes illustrated.

Here’s more from Amazon: “a bedtime book for parents who live in the real world, where a few snoozing kitties and cutesy rhymes don’t always send a toddler sailing off to dreamland. Honest, profane, and affectionate, Adam Mansbach’s verses and Ricardo Cortés’ illustrations perfectly capture the familiar—and unspoken—tribulations of putting your little angel down for the night, and open up a conversation about parenting in the process.” (Via Buzzfeed)

Last gasp of the Gatsby house

via Jacket Copy on 4/22/11


A Long Island mansion said to have inspired F. Scott Fitzgerald in writing his classic American novel “The Great Gatsby” has poured its last drink, rolled up the dance floor and kicked out the guests for good. No more parties, no more gazing out of windows. Heck, no more windows. The once-elegant mansion has been razed.

Continue reading “Last gasp of the Gatsby house”

BBS Games, Tournaments and RetroNet

via on 4/18/11

The House of Lunduke BBS launched October 19th, 2010 (just a few short months ago)… and we have just passed the 4 thousand call mark.  Which rules.

(You can connect to the house of Lunduke via telnet at or via the Flash terminal.)

To celebrate, I’m doing a few new things on the little BBS that could:

1) We’re going to have our first TradeWars 2002 tournament.  The start date is set for April 25th.  If you want to influence the tournament settings at all, head on in to the BBS and make your requests in the “TW” message base.

2) I’ve reset the current TradeWars game to be a 5,000 sector game with no turn limits.  None at all.  This instance of the game is run completely independently of the upcoming tournament and is designed to run very long term.

3) I will begin hosting files in the file area of the BBS.  These will be files specific to running and connecting to BBS’s.

4) RetroNet.  I’m looking at starting a BBS message network.  Want to join your current BBS?  Want to start a new BBS and join up?  Jump on in to the House of Lunduke and head in to the “RetroNet Discussion” message base.

Why am I doing all this you ask?  Because it’s a blast.  See more of my thoughts on the matter here.

Expensive wine and cheap plonk taste the same to most people

In a blind taste test, volunteers were unable to distinguish between expensive and cheap wine

An expensive wine may well have a full body, a delicate nose and good legs, but the odds are your brain will never know.

A survey of hundreds of drinkers found that on average people could tell good wine from plonk no more often than if they had simply guessed.

In the blind taste test, 578 people commented on a variety of red and white wines ranging from a £3.49 bottle of Claret to a £29.99 bottle of champagne. The researchers categorised inexpensive wines as costing £5 and less, while expensive bottles were £10 and more.

The study found that people correctly distinguished between cheap and expensive white wines only 53% of the time, and only 47% of the time for red wines. The overall result suggests a 50:50 chance of identifying a wine as expensive or cheap based on taste alone – the same odds as flipping a coin.

Richard Wiseman, a psychologist at Hertfordshire University, conducted the survey at the Edinburgh International Science Festival.

“People just could not tell the difference between cheap and expensive wine,” he said. “When you know the answer, you fool yourself into thinking you would be able to tell the difference, but most people simply can’t.”

All of the drinkers who took part in the survey were attending the science festival, but Wiseman claims the group was unlikely to be any worse at wine tasting than a cross-section of the general public.

“The real surprise is that the more expensive wines were double or three times the price of the cheaper ones. Normally when a product is that much more expensive, you would expect to be able to tell the difference,” Wiseman said.

People scored best when deciding between two bottles of Pinot Grigio, with 59% correctly deciding which was which. The Claret, which cost either £3.49 or £15.99, fooled most people with only 39% correctly identifying which they had tasted.

In 2008, a study led by Adrian North, a psychologist at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, claimed that music helped boost the flavour of certain wines. North, who was commissioned by a Chilean winemaker, reported that Cabernet Sauvignon was most affected by “powerful and heavy” music, while Chardonnay benefited from “zingy and refreshing” sounds.

“Windows Activation” Ransom Trojan

We recently came across a ransom trojan that prompts the following:

Windows license locked!


The trojan claims that “you should complete activation” and provides several phones numbers.


The numbers:

  •  002392216368
  •  002392216469
  •  004525970180
  •  00261221000181
  •  00261221000183
  •  00881935211841

While these numbers may look like generic service numbers, they aren’t. They go to various countries (“00” is the prefix for international dialing). The countries are: São Tomé and Principe (239), Denmark (45), Madagascar (261) and Globalstar Mobile Satellite Service (8819).

The trojan claims that the call is “free of charge” but it isn’t, and the trojan author will earn money from the call via a technique known as short stopping. This method involves rogue phone operators who route the expensive calls to cheaper countries.

After three minutes or so, the caller is given this unlock code: 1351236.

The unlock code appears to be the same every time the number is called.

It’s a pretty clever bit of social engineering and some victims may never even realize that they’ve been scammed.

Here’s a video demonstration on the Labs YouTube channel, which also includes some discussion of other ransom trojans.

The GPcode screenshots referenced in the video can be seen here and here.

We detect this trojan (md5: 9a6f87b4be79d0090944c198a68012b6) as Trojan.Generic.KDV.153863.

A full audio recording of our call to the ransom number is here (MP3, 4 minutes).

On 11/04/11 At 02:57 PM

Husband plays funny fake news prank on his wife

via Boing Boing on 4/2/11

Pete says:

roswell.jpgI know my wife has this “AP Mobile” news app on her phone and receives text message alerts whenever something big is happening around the world, I decided to play a little prank on her.

This morning I changed my name in her contact list to “AP Mobile” and sent her a short and sweet message and waited for her to turn her phone on. Her mouth almost came down to the floor.