February, 2003

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Not-so-random

Wednesday, February 12th, 2003

After getting yet another “random Vietnamese E-mail” from the same person (again entirely in unaccented Vietnamese) I’m ready to conclude someone is just trying to mess with me.

Another random Vietnamese E-mail…

Monday, February 10th, 2003

… message appeared my Hotmail inbox this morning. Apparently it’s from someone in Saigon (officially Ho Chi Minh City), who signed the letter with “nho anh nhieu” which means “miss you very much”. Naturally I have no idea who this person is, how she found my E-mail, nor who she thinks I am. She’s obviously mistaken, as I don’t think I know anybody who’s over there.

Adding to my frustration is my inability to decipher all but a few phrases of the message. The task is made all the more difficult since the E-mail, sent using only the standard English alphabet, contains none of the accents normally found in Vietnamese text—so the only way to unambiguously read most words is to infer from context or recognize a familiar phrase… a fairly hopeless task for my basic (Vietnamese) reading skills and even more basic vocabulary.

Anyway I replied with what little Vietnamese I could manage, explaining that she’d probably written the wrong person, and that I wasn’t able to read all her message due to the lack of accents and my limited literacy. All I could do was try my best to make myself understood, with a little bit of help from this handy English-to-Vietnamese online dictionary I found. I sure wish AltaVista’s Babel Fish could translate Vietnamese, though… The message contained a few embedded icons that suggested a romantic tone, and my curiosity is piqued.

Happy birdy vtluu.net

Thursday, February 6th, 2003

I was reminded, while verifying the status of the domain registration for vtluu.net, that www.vtluu.net has now been online for a year.

That being said, I’ve had a web site/home page on the World Wide Web for almost ten years now, starting in late 1994 when I first started at Waterloo. Those were the heady days of NCSA Mosaic, before the arrival of Netscape, while Internet Explorer was nothing but a glint in Microsoft’s monopolistic eye.

Unfortunately the Internet Archive‘s “Wayback Machine” holds no records of any of my web pages prior to 1999, ironic since I think that the height of my Internet notoriety was back in 1995-1997 when I created and ran the Why Windows 95 Sucks web site. Luckily another Internet brainchild of mine, the mathNEWS site, survives and thrives to this day.

A bad start…

Saturday, February 1st, 2003

… to the New Year as I woke up around noon today to the news that the space shuttle Columbia had been lost on re-entry. Since then I’ve been getting up to speed on the tragedy, from CNN, NASA and other news sources.

One of the few events I remember from my childhood was the loss of the shuttle Challenger. I remember first hearing about it from a friend on my way home from school for lunch, and relating the news to my mom who realized the enormity of the event.

In a way it feels like I grew up with the space shuttle—the missions started around the same time I became “aware” of the world around me and things like space exploration. But as I grew up and technology changed all around me, the space shuttle remained pretty much the same as it ever was. These days it feels old, the best of its days long past… I really hope that this accident will push forward efforts towards building a replacement for the shuttle.