Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Thoughts from the airport

I'm sitting writing this blog entry in the airport on my way to a meeting in another country. The meeting is to introduce one friend of mine to another friend of mine... with mutual interests. Sounds like a long way to take a flight to make an introduction? In this part of the world relationships are very important and making introductions can make all the difference in the world. So this sort of meeting is actually very important, and a critical part of my work here.

I have completed the multi-language DVD project at last working in Arabic, Farsi and English subtitles. I haven't solved the dual layer problem, that's for another day, but I did fix all the language/subtitle/multiple video problems. I was really pleased with that. We have now send it out to a number of people for checking.

DVD Studio Pro is a very good product and one that I am very pleased we now have. To do this project I had to use 'scripting' which is a more advanced feature than any of the other DVD authoring packages we have had in the past. We tread a difficult line: Final Cut Studio is a very expensive package indeed, but we have spent so much time fiddling about with other packages and hardware that having this really saves a lot of time.

Pete was back in the office and seeing all the things we have done over the summer... but we still have problems with infrastructure... by that I mean water! Our offices are in the top floor flat and we have been having very high water bills. Over the summer we found that the two flats were connected together. The day a friend came to sort that out was the first day of the official holiday period here... so all the plumbers merchants are shut for two weeks. They are open again this week so hopefully that will be sorted.

Also the toilet is having problems... a leak on the water inlet. We have had this fixed 3 times in the last year, but to no avail. Its just too old so we will have to replace it. In theory this is the landlord's responsibility, but because he wants to sell the property at some stage he will not do any expensive maintenance, so Pete and I decided we just have to get it done.

Second day back Pete discovered we are playing a cat and mouse game with the email spammers. Earlier in the year we had introduced a 'gleylisting' system for email which had radically reduced our email. 'greylisting' is a system which says to a new incoming sender of email 'please come back later we are busy right now' and if they do so more than 7 minutes later we accept it. The reason this worked was that legitimate email senders did come back later and spammers did not, because their aim was to dump millions of emails as quickly and possible and if they couldn't be delivered at once they didn't bother.

But... now the spammers are coming back later. Peter discovered they were coming back 10 minutes and 15 seconds or 10 minutes and 30 seconds later - presumeably because most greylisters have set their time-out at 10 minutes. So we have advanced our timeout to 11 minutes. Cat and mouse... I have no doubt they will change their timeouts too and we will be playing this game again and again.

We also started a new short term worker this week who is writing country profiles for one of out websites. So the office feels busy again with four of us in the office every day and two others in on other days.

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