To lie or keep in hiding, as for some evil reason.  To move or go in a mean, stealthy manner.

Tuesday November 9, 1999

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More skulking with robots

In yesterday's issue WebSkulker mentioned that he had played with a Sony Aibo robot dog, and a little about it's owner's interaction with the virtual pet.  Let us tell you another story about the owner because it seemed familiar at the time, but WebSkulker couldn't place why until later.  The Aibo has a button on top of its head that is kind of like the single button on a Mac mouse, i.e. big and flat and slight pressure activates it.  This is used to either punish or pet the Aibo.  The owner explained that you click it down and up several times quickly as a punishment, or hold it down for a couple of seconds as a petting type of reward.  When WebSkulker heard this, he immediately clicked the button several times to see what would happen.  The owner got upset and stressed that the button must be held down to pet Aibo.

WebSkulker thought this was weird because it was only a robot so what difference does it make if it is petted or given a punishment signal?  Why did the owner seem upset that his little baby was being punished inappropriately?  But this all seemed familiar and after talking it over with his cat, WebSkulker finally remembered why:  at one time he and his cat weren't on speaking terms so he downloaded a dog and a cat Petz for his Windows desktop from  (Note: at the moment we are writing this we can't get through to that URL, but it is correct and hopefully will work for you.)

Petz are pretty sophisticated robots, but purely in software, and are fun to play with for a while.  Like Aibo, they can be trained by rewards and punishments as they do different behaviors on the desktop.  WebSkulker spent a lot of time training them to do tricks and not be destructive.  When a visitor would punish the Petz dog or cat inappropriately, WebSkulker would get upset -- just like the Aibo owner did -- because it was screwing up the programming!


Skulking around DVD copy protection

You may have seen in the news that two European programmers have cracked the encryption method used for copy protecting DVD movies.  A couple of jr. skulkers suggested that we write about this, but there is already so much available that we will just give you some links.  Here are a couple of good introductions to the story:,1282,32249,00.html,1282,32263,00.html

We skulked around and found several sites with much more technical information about the DeCSS utility and other DVD-related utility programs.  These sites also have download areas and gee, we wonder what you might happen to find there?  And gee, by the time you read this, how many of these sites will be shut down?

Know who is calling while skulking

Jr. Skulker Tracy Airhead (whose nickname is appropriate because he actually likes Macs) asked us if we knew anything about a device he saw at a computer store to alert you if a call wait signal came in on your modem line while you were skulking the net.  We haven't seen these, but if all they do is alert you to the call wait then we have a better suggestion for probably less money: a talking caller ID box that handles Call Waiting ID.  Our favorite manufacturer of these is Classco at:

Either their model CIDney 560CW ($49.99) or CIDney 9500CW ($99.99) will do the job.  The main difference between them is that the 560CW just speaks the phone number or says that the id is unavailable or blocked or a preset category, while the 9500CW lets you record up to 20 brief announcements in your own voice and associate these with phone numbers of people who call you frequently.  Each recording can be associated with more than one phone number, so if the same person calls from differently numbers, only one recording of their voice is needed.  The 9500CW can also speak the caller ID directly into the phone line instead of, or in addition to, talking over the loudspeaker.  This can be useful with a cordless phone if you are far away from the speaker.  Also the 9500CW can be programmed to give short outgoing messages to several specific phone numbers, but it is not an answering machine and will not take incoming messages.

WebSkulker has a 9500CW and tested it as a call waiting indicator for a modem line.  It worked, but the modem lost the signal long enough that it hung up the phone.  The call waiting alert boxes in computer stores probably send the modem a dummy signal while the caller ID data is transferred so it won't hang up.  We believe that it is possible to program your modem using special "AT" commands to tolerate the short signal loss without hanging up, but don't have time right now to research and test this.  If any jr. skulker buys a talking caller ID box and uses it with a modem line, let us know and we will then take the trouble to figure this out.

Note:  If you want a talking caller ID for normal phone calls, not for a modem line, then the Nortel 9516 CW that we mentioned in the 11/2/99 issue is a much better buy if you can still get the closeout special at Radio Shack for $79.95, catalog number 43-5814.

Also consider getting a DSL line or cable modem instead of using a dial-up modem and you won't need to worry about this whole issue because the voice line will be available even as you skulk the net at T1 speed.  And don't forget the Internet Call Waiting possibilities we wrote about in the 10/20/99 issue.

Skulkettes are invitated (sic)

Mr. Airhead also suggested these sites by a Turkish guy who is looking for American women who are invitated (sic) to go to his country for a visit.  These are great and you have to check them out whether you want to go on the trip or not.

(Jr. Skulker Ms. 1133 suggests that female jr. skulkers should be called "skulkettes" hence the title of this article, but WebSkulker thinks that's too sexist.)

This made WebSkulker laugh

Submitted by Jr. Skulker Ms. 1133

While waiting at a bus stop for a bus, a woman stepped onto a weight machine that told your fortune and weight for a quarter. She put a quarter in, and out came a card that read, "Your age is 32, You weigh 135 lbs., and you play the fiddle."

She found the fortune amusing, since she didn't play the fiddle, but it did have her age correct. About that time, an old gentleman walked up carrying a fiddle. She asked him if she could see his fiddle. He agreed, and to their amazement, she started playing the fiddle with great natural skill.

She wondered if the fortune machine had actually known something about her that she didn't. She thought about it, and decided to try the weight machine again.  She put another quarter in the machine, and out comes the card that reads:  "Your age is 32, you weigh 135 lbs., and you have gastritous."

She found this one to be absurd, as she was in perfect health, so she goes back to the bus-stop to wait for her bus. While sitting there, she develops abdominal pains that continue to get worse until all of a sudden she farts.

She wondered about the fortune, and again was curious if the machine was capable of knowing stuff about her that she didn't know. She puts another quarter in the machine, and out comes a card that reads: "Your age is 32, you weigh 135 lbs., and you are about to have sex."

She laughed out loud, as she had been trying to find a decent guy to screw for weeks, with no luck. She is sitting there waiting for the bus, when this attractive young man sits down and immediately their eyes locked, and they both knew that they were right for each other. They quickly ducked down an alley and began to screw like two teenagers.

The woman was so simply amazed at the ability of the machine, that she had to try it one more time. She stood on the machine, put her last quarter in, and out came a card that read: "Your age is 32, you weigh 135 lbs., you've fiddled, you've farted, you've fucked around, and now you've missed your bus."


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