RD Tuna – A Local Perspective

Posted in Dangerous on September 8th, 2009 by MadDog
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Since I am not a citizen of Papua New Guinea, it is appropriate that I be circumspect in my comments concerning national and local politics. Circumspect, but not silent.

I don’t want to dilute the importance of this message, so I’m going to forgo all of my usual ego stroking images and stifle the hot air.

There is no person in my acquaintance that likes RD Tuna. That doesn’t mean the sentiment is universal, it just means that I don’t know everybody – nowhere near everybody. The reasons for dislike vary widely, as you might expect. Most centre not on the idea of development, but rather the type of development that we should seek. Others question why local people have little or no say in these decisions that affect huge segments of our economy, culture and habitat. I covered this issue in The Pacific Marine Industrial Zone – Who Decided?

Jennifer Baing of The Coral Reef Alliance posted this on her Facebook page this morning. I commented that I would put it on Madang – Ples Bilong Mi.

If you’re not a resident of PNG, then it may seem of little interest. Take a few minutes anyway. If you think about the problems, you may find you have more at stake than you first imagined:

Thanks, Jennifer, for bringing this piece to our attention.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more of the same old claptrap.


The National – Fixing Their Site? – Time Will Tell

Posted in Dangerous, Mixed Nuts on August 25th, 2009 by MadDog
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As I reported some time ago, The National,  one of our major daily newspapers has been infected by a virus since at least the 29th of July. The virus is called HTML/Framer, but that’s probably of little interest to you.

I visited the site (I’m well protected) a couple of days ago (don’t remember the day) and my AVG threw up the same old warnings. Today the story is different. I was just preparing to remove it from my list of “Try These Links” when I decided to give it one more shot. This is what popped up in Firefox:

The National is off-line. Are they getting rid of the virus?

The site is completely off line. I hope this means that they are fixing the problem. I called the system administrator as soon as I discovered the virus. He never returned my call. I’m going to give the person the benefit of the doubt and assume that he was too flabbergasted at the moment to talk to me, but I am suspicious, nevertheless. I’ve been rebuffed many times when I had a solution in hand and tried to help out a webmaster or a system administrator. Many simply can’t believe that someone calling on the phone to report a virus could possibly know as much about it as they do.

Anyway, I find it abominable that they didn’t take the site down the minute that they discovered the virus. Practically everybody knows that maybe over 90% (note the wacky estimation technique) of the computers that can get on the internet in PNG are probably unprotected and already spewing out viruses by the bus load to any other unprotected computer. Every single flash drive that comes into our building from outside is infected. That’s why I forbid them to be inserted into an office computer until I have de-loused them.

I find it irresponsible of the management of The National  to allow their web site to remain on line for such a long time knowing that it was spreading a virus to every unprotected computer that visited it.

Any rebuttals? Corrections? Comments?

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The Blue Bottle Jellyfish

Posted in At Sea, Dangerous on August 3rd, 2009 by MadDog
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On Sunday up at Blueblood I was enjoying a particularly fine conversation with a friend while being comforted and nourished by my cheap cigar and a cold brewski. This is one of my favourite of all times and places to follow dear brother Bob Marley‘s advice to, “Don’t worry. Be happy.” It works for me.

Suddenly Eunie came hippity-hopping up out of the water crooning, “Ouwy, ouwy, ouwy, ouwy . . .” I heard somebody yelling, “Blue bottles!” Eunie chased all of the kids out of the water and came to me to put some hydrocortisone cream on the red streaks on her arm.

If you’re going to be stung by a jellyfish, you couldn’t do much better than a Blue Bottle.  This jellyfish is known elsewhere as the Portuguese Man of War. Though it feels as if you’ve drenched the area in napalm and set it on fire, nobody dies from it. You might, however, temporarily long for death if you get enough tentacles stuck to you.

Here’s a typical warning on an Australian beach:

A Blue Bottle Jellyfish warning on an Australian beach

Though we only saw possibly a hundred on Sunday, they can blow up for miles on beaches. Check this image that I filched from a National Geographic site:

Blue Bottle Jellyfish on an Australian beach - filched from National Geographic

After treating Eunie’s stings and making sure her wine glass was full, I went jellyfish hunting. It wasn’t difficult to find a specimen:

Possibly the Blue Bottle Jellyfish that attacked Eunie

It’s a fairly good image, so click it so that you can see it larger. You can see that the single tentacle is quite long. Large individuals can have tentacles as long as ten metres. We are often stung by tentacles of dead jellyfish when no jellyfish can bee seen. The tentacles remain poisonous long after the organism has died.

As with most marine stings, you don’t want to rub the area of the sting. We always keep vinegar on the boat, as it helps to neutralise most common venoms. I also keep hydrocortisone cream to apply to stings as it seems to calm down the pain and inflammation very quickly.

I’ll end up the post with a pretty sunset that we enjoyed on Friday evening as we went out on Tab Anchorage  to Pig Island  for a little swim:

A lovely sunset on Friday evening on Tab Anchorage

Fortunately, there were no jellyfish.


The National Newspaper Has a Problem with a Virus

Posted in Dangerous on July 29th, 2009 by MadDog
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I’ve got all kinds of problems of my own in my IT shop today, but I’m taking the time to notify my readers that one of our newspapers that runs an online version has a virus on the web site.

The National,  one of our two major newspapers has an infection of the HTML/Framer virus which is reported by AVG as such.

Here is the warning page that Firefox throws up:

The Firefox warning page for the HTML/Framer virus

And here is the AVG Threat warning window:

The AVG threat warning for the HTML/Framer virus

Okay, why am I doing this?

Yesterday, Eunie said that the newspaper site was infected. This morning I checked it out. I looked up the HTML/Framer virus and came away scratching my head. It is a strange one, for certain. I’m still not sure exactly what it can do to your computer. So, since I know that there are a lot of my readers who may have dubious virus protection, I’m putting up this notice to let you know that, unless you have bullet-proof anti virus protection, it would be unwise to visit The National’s  online version until you can be certain that the infection has been treated.

If you KNOW that your anti virus is working and up-to-date, then you can try the site. You will get some kind of warning if it is still infected. If you are not CERTAIN that your anti virus is A-OKAY, then I’d advise not visiting the site until the problem is fixed. You might not get any warning at all if the site is still infected. Also, I can’t tell you what it might do to your computer. The references that I looked at this morning were not very helpful in that area and I don’t have a lot of time to devote to the issue.

As soon as I was certain of my information, I called The National  and tried to speak to the webmaster. He wasn’t in yet. I left a message for him to call me, but it is nearly 11:00 and I haven’t heard from him. Therefore, I’m putting up the notice. I’ll make an update to this post as soon as I’m sure that the infection has been cleared up.

NOTE PLEASE: For users who are not sure what’s going on here, nothing that you see in this post means that your computer is infected by this virus or that my site is infected. The images that you see are just screen captures from my attempt to visit The National’s  web site. You have nothing to fear from having read this post.

UPDATE: Here is a portion of an email that I received from Kyle Harris this morning. Obviously, this exploit is a nasty piece of work:

Just saw your web post on the National Newspaper site.  Sounds a lot like the bug that hammered my site last week.  Look up TSPY_KATES.G via Google. Basically it puts a java script in the index.php file in your startup menu that attempts to load the virus onto any machine that visits that site. Then it adds the iframe code to each and every file on the site with the name “index” or “home”, rendering those files useless.

I had AVG on my machine but when I tried to visit my site, it downloaded the virus onto my machine anyway.  Don’t know what was happening with AVG.  Took almost a day to clean out my computer.

The web site is still off line until I can figure out how to repair all those compromised files.  It hammered both my blogs and my main site (cms). Make sure that your WordPress site is upgraded and that you have everything backed up.

I have no idea how it got onto my site.  I have a highly secure password for that the site and had not been on for a couple weeks.  I am wondering if
since I am a shared hosting user if it got in via someone else’s site.

Thanks, Kyle, for the information. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. I’m hoping that, since AVG spotted the exploit on my machine from The National  web site, that I’ll have a bit of protection. I’m also going to contact Hostmonster.com to see if they are doing anything to keep an eye out for their clients.

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The Poisonous Playground

Posted in Dangerous, Opinions on July 18th, 2009 by MadDog
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Maybe it’s the weather. I don’t know. I seem overly grumpy and prone to critical thinking lately. Here is how it looked this morning out over Tab Anchorage:

Brooding sky over Tab Anchorage

You’d be grumpy and out-of-sorts too if you had to see that and compare it with the same image in the post here.

But, that’s not what I’m here to complain about today. If fact, I have something far more serious to complain about. Have a look at this:

Poisonous Playground

On first inspection, it seems to be only some rather decrepit looking playground equipment. It’s not the seemingly poor condition of the equipment that’s the problem. Mould will grow on anything and everything here. Things get mouldy and nasty looking very quickly. If you stand still long enough mould will glue you to the ground. No, it’s not the mould that I’m complaining about.

We went through a mild season of hell when our friend Val Jerram was arranging for the free playground equipment to be sent up through Rotary International as a gift to the children of Madang. As with most such operations, everything that could go wrong did go wrong. Finally however, the playground equipment was installed and happy kids were using it.

So what thanks for such generosity was provided by the so-called caretakers of our town?  See the nasty looking jumble of colour a few metres from the playground equipment? That is the horrible, disease-laden garbage from the town market a couple of squares away.

What a perfect spot for it. It’s right next to the lily pond and just at the end of the botanical garden. If the kids get bored playing, they can probably find a snack to keep their energy up.

No wonder I’m grumpy.

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Up In Smoke – Burns Philp Moresby Lights Up

Posted in Dangerous, Mixed Nuts on July 14th, 2009 by MadDog
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Good buddy and Madang- Ples Bilong Mi  reader Rich Jones shot me an email this morning with photos of the Burns Philp fire in Port Moresby.

This from Rich Jones:

We were sitting on the balcony drinking wine and saw a huge plume of smoke from downtown. Like any good PNGer we immediately raced towards the disaster and saw the final moments of the famous yet flammable Burns Philip building, once home of the excellent Tribal Den nightclub and currently under, um, renovation. There were vast and knowledgeable crowds who were remarkably close to the action and a few brave firemen trying to save Westpac with some very leaky hoses.

Check out Jenn’s chairs in the heart of the fire.

It was quite a communal affair. Well ordered and quite solemn at times.

Rich sent some shots of the fire along with the email. The Sunday night fire, which rated a short blurb in the Post Courier’s online rag, was apparently spectacular and a great crowd pleaser:

Burns Philp in Port Moresby lights up

The building was under renovation at the time of the fire. You can plainly see the scaffolding.

Here it is getting well and truly under way:

Burns Philp in Port Moresby lights up and stays lit

I’m not familiar with Port Moresby (and I can’t say that I’m a big fan either), so I don’t know what we’re looking at in this shot:

Part of the Burns Philp fire in Port Moresby

A lot of money burning up, I’d say. Rich explained to me on the phone that the firemen did manage to save the bank next to the blazing building, but doesn’t give huge credit for that, since the wind was blowing the other direction quite strongly.

Here is a shot showing the mystery chairs, which were, by all accounts, amazingly fire resistant. Sounds like a handy thing to save your home in case someone spontaneously combusts while napping in front of the tellie:

The "Mystery Chairs" in the Burns Philp fire in Port Moresby

I recall several huge fires here in Madang. The first that I remember, strangely enough, was the Burns Philp warehouse fire way back when. Then Binnen Bakery burned down, followed soon by the Lutheran Shipping Fibreglass shop. That one was very spectacular. There were 200 litre drums popping like bombs and rocketing many tens of metres into the air trailing orange flames. A terrific show which we could easily watch from our house.

Probably the most well remembered fire in Madang is the old Chemcare shop. Here’s our old buddy Greg O’Keeffe looking a little bewildered as his shop burns to the ground behind him.

The old ChemCare store burning in Madang

The Fire Service makes an easy target, since the equipment is laughable, and the record of success rather thin. I can’t recall a single fire in Madang at which the Fire Service made much impression on the fire. Maybe it’s just my poor memory.

Lest we pick on the poor Fire Service fellows, let’s remember that they are about as effective as any other government operation. Let’s not single them out for abuse. There’s enough to go around to everybody.

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Swimming with Baracuda

Posted in Dangerous, Under the Sea on May 27th, 2009 by MadDog
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I’m getting homesick, so I’ll take a break from the On the Road category today.

Back in June of 2008 I had the golden opportunity to swim at Planet Rock near my home in Madang, Papua New Guinea among hundreds of Pickhandle Barracuda (or Blackfin Barracuda, as you please). Local names are useless for identifying fish. The taxonomic name is Sphyraena qenie.

Here is what I saw as I approached from below the circling school:

Pickhandle Barracuda (Sphyraena qenie) - coming up below the shcoolAs I approach I move around to the side so that they can see me. You don’t want to surprise them. If they can see you and get used to your presence for a minute or two, they will let you swim with them:

Pickhandle Barracuda (Sphyraena qenie) - coming around to the sideI move around just under them to get inside the circle and the slowly approach them:

Pickhandle Barracuda (Sphyraena qenie) - getting in closeNow I try to nudge my way into the stream of toothy, metre long underwater missiles. As long as I don’t spook them, I’m okay. This looks dangerous and it is  a genuine adrenaline rush, but I’ve never heard of anybody around here being harmed by these barracuda:

Pickhandle Barracuda (Sphyraena qenie) - trying to be a barracudaAnd now, my friends, I’m experiencing a joy that few have shared. I’m swimming with the barracuda! In fact, I feel very much like a barracuda:

Pickhandle Barracuda (Sphyraena qenie) - I'm a barracuda! Whoopie!I hope that you enjoyed seeing this one ten thousandth as much as I enjoyed doing it.

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