To lie or keep in hiding, as for some evil reason.  To move or go in a mean, stealthy manner.
ISSN: 1527-814X Tuesday September 5, 2000

WebSkulker Newsletter
I had too much to skulk last night

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Skulking around other people's files

Aimster is a yet another Napster sort of program that lets you share MP3 files, etc., with other people currently online.  Aimster is getting a lot of press lately because of its cute name and its tie-in to AOL's Instant Messenger (AIM) program, although Aimster is not in any way associated with AOL or the programmers of AIM.  When you first install Aimster, it checks to make sure that you have a current copy of AIM installed and then makes some kind of change to AIM's settings to let the two programs work together.

When you run Aimster and tell it to perform a search for MP3's or whatever, you specify with a check box whether you want to search only the files being shared by your AIM buddies who are online, or whether you want to search the universe.  If you check "buddies", then Aimster looks in your AIM buddy list to see who is online, then checks to see if any of these people are running Aimster.  If they are, it will communicate your search terms to the copy of Aimster on their machine and tell you the results.  If you check "universe", then Aimster passes on your search to the Scour system at to see if any online Scour users have the files.

If you think about it, Aimster is kind of a waste of time because you could download the Scour client directly from the website instead.  The only thing Aimster adds is the ability to limit your search only to the files of your AIM buddies, and in most cases that doesn't seem too useful.  If you are a big AIM users and want to share files only with your fellow jr. skulkers, then you might like Aimster.


On a similar topic, Jr. Skulker Matt Miszewski runs the Napster Freedom Website. "This is a site dedicated to the free exchange of all ideas regarding Napster, its legality, digital freedom and the future of digital music. We welcome everyone to the discussion and whether you want to just have fun or get some stuff done, enjoy the site."

How to stop skulkers

Jr. Skulker Uncle Brucie suggested the first link for information about how to fight back against telemarketers who intrude while you are busy skulking.  The site talks about the laws regulating telemarketers and how you can use these to your advantage, tricks you can play to torment telemarketers who bother you, sound files of pranks being played on telemarketers, and much more.

The second link above is a catalog page showing two gadgets that connect to your phone line and can help block these unwanted calls.  The first plugs in between a telephone instrument and the line.  It watches for the phone to ring and get answered.  It then immediately plays the same three tones that you often hear before the recording when you call a disconnected number.  Read the web page about why this can prevent the most common type of telemarketing call.  The second gadget plugs in to a phone line and has a single button on it.  When you answer a call and it turns out to be a telemarketer, just press the button and hang up your phone.  The gadget holds the phone line for a few seconds as it plays a recording telling the telemarketer that you don't accept this type of call and please don't call again, then it hangs up the line.

Skulkers who make skulkers

You may have seen news reports last week about a team of computer scientists at Brandeis University who wrote a program that would simulate a robot performing a simple real-world task.  The program would automatically try out different designs for the simulated robot and come up with the optimum design for the task.  There is nothing new about this so far; lots of things are simulated and computer-optimized nowadays.  But this program went one step farther and gave detailed specifications to a "3D Printer" to build the parts for the machine it had designed.  Human intervention was still required to assemble the parts and supply power, but this is one step closer to the science fiction scenario where robots design and build robots better than themselves.

The first link above describes this robotic project.  The second link is to a description and a download area for a screen saver that designs robots like this.  Download and install this as your screen saver, and then whenever your PC is inactive, it will participate in a network of other computers to design new robots.

WebSkulker wasn't so interested in the robots as he was in the concept of a "3D printer".  What in the heck is that?  Here is an article about one such device that plugs into a PC and is cheap enough to consider purchasing for home hobby use.  It can manufacture small parts from 3D drawings that you make yourself on the PC.  The two links after that are to manufacturers of this type of device:

Speaking of robots, Honda, the car company, is working on a robot that can stand upright and walk just like a person, including walking up and down stairs.  Read a brief introduction and watch a video here:

Get more information and watch more movies here:

Young skulkers in love

This is a 9-minute streaming media film that is a satire on George Lucas and how he got the idea for the StarWars movies. "Young George Lucas has writer's block. If he doesn't finish his screenplay in three days, he won't graduate from USC Film School. What he doesn't realize is that his story is all around him. His stoner roommate obsessed with 'the force,' his evil neighbor with Vader-esque asthma, and his diminutive professor with a habit of talking backwards all fail to spark his script. Then he meets a beauty with hair buns, and everything changes. Not rated, suitable for all ages."

This made WebSkulker laugh

Submitted by Jr. Skulker Dan Dunkel.  Although this is oriented towards aircraft owners, it should be amusing to anyone who works with tools.

Aircraft Owner's Tool Kit

It has been said that one of the most dangerous things in general aviation is an owner with a Phillips screwdriver. As a result of owner-performed preventive maintenance, technicians often find themselves working on something that an owner tried to fix, but only made worse. Clearly, some guidance for homebuilders and owners contemplating work on their aircraft is necessary. With that in mind -- and with tongue firmly in cheek -- AVweb presents this list of definitions for common tools that should be a part of every homebuilder's and owner's tool kit. 

HAMMER: Originally employed as a weapon of war, the hammer is used as a kind of divining rod to locate expensive parts not far from the object we are trying to hit. 

ELECTRIC DRILL: Normally used for spinning rivets in their holes until you die of old age, but it also works well for drilling mounting holes just above a fuel line. 

PLIERS: Used to round off bolt heads. 

HACKSAW: One of a family of cutting tools based on the chaos principle. It transforms human energy into a crooked, unpredictable motion, and the more you attempt to influence its course, the more dismal your future becomes. 

VISE-GRIPS: Used to round off bolt heads if nothing else is available, they can also be used to transfer intense welding heat to the palm of your hand. 

OXYACETYLENE TORCH: Used almost entirely for lighting various flammable objects in your hangar on fire. 

WHITWORTH (Metric) SOCKETS: Once used for working on older British engines and airplanes, they are now used mainly for impersonating that 9/16-inch or 1/2-inch socket for which you've been searching the last 15 minutes. 

DRILL PRESS: A tall upright machine useful for suddenly snatching flat metal bar stock out of your hands so that it smacks you in the chest and flings your drink across the room, splattering it against that freshly painted aircraft part you were drying. 

WIRE WHEEL: Cleans rust off old bolts and then throws the bolt somewhere under the workbench with the speed of light. Also removes fingerprint whorls and hard-earned guitar calluses in about the time it takes you to say, "Ouch!" 

HYDRAULIC FLOOR JACK: Used for lowering an airplane to the ground after you have installed your new tires, trapping the jack handle firmly under the landing gear leg. 

EIGHT-FOOT-LONG DOUGLAS FIR 2x4: Used for levering an airplane upward off a hydraulic jack. 

TWEEZERS: A tool for removing wood splinters. 

TELEPHONE: Tool for calling your neighbor to see if he has another hydraulic floor jack. 

TROUBLE LIGHT: The mechanic's own tanning booth. Sometimes called drop light, it is a good source of vitamin D, "the sunshine vitamin," which is not otherwise found under airplanes at night. Health benefits aside, its main purpose is to consume 40-watt light bulbs at about the same rate that 105-mm howitzer shells might be used during, say, the first few hours of the Battle of the Bulge. More often dark than light, its name is somewhat misleading. 

PHILLIPS SCREWDRIVER: Normally used to stab the lids of old-style paper-and-tin oil cans and splash oil on your shirt; can also be used, as the name implies, to round off Phillips screw heads. 

AIR COMPRESSOR: A machine that takes energy produced in a coal-burning power plant 200 miles away and transforms it into compressed air that travels by hose to a pneumatic impact wrench that grips rusty bolts last tightened 60 years ago, and rounds them off. 

PRY BAR: A tool used to crumple the metal surrounding the clip or bracket you needed to remove in order to replace a 50-cent part. 

HOSE CUTTER: A tool used to cut hoses 1/2-inch too short.


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