Geek Stuff category archive
Even as the public falls on the fainting couch over the NSA, Arthur Dobrin says, “Give it up already.”
The reality is that almost everything about you is already known, if not by the government, then by business. Every time you get on an airplane, you are scanned. Every time you search for a product online, the information falls into the hands of retailers who want you to buy their products.
Last year an indignant father accused Target of maligning his daughter by sending her coupons for baby items. It turns out Target knew better than the father. The girl hadn’t yet told her father the news. Data-mining did the job.
My wired network has stopped working. The wireless seems fine, but the wired has gone MIA.
Today is a troubleshooting day.
I think I’ve identified the problem, but, while I am testing my way to certainty, I will be preoccupied from annoying people via the internet.
I love shooting trouble, when it belongs to someone else . . . .
I hate troubleshooting.
It’s the hunt that is annoying, because, to do it right, you have to do it one step at a time, working from macro to micro, ruling out possible causes with certainty at each step. And, with a wired network, that means juggling wires, lots of wires, often in difficult-to-access locations.
It’s simple (if you understand wires), tedious, and time-consuming. Mostly time-consuming.
A cable tester is your friend.
I have spotted the enemy and he has been routed.
Learn about the wonderful world of free and open source.
What: Monthly TWUUG Meeting.
Who: Everyone in TideWater/Hampton Roads with interest in any/all flavors of Unix/Linux. There are no dues or signup requirements. All are welcome.
Where: Lake Taylor Transitional Care Hospital in Norfolk Training Room. See directions below. (Wireless and wired internet connection available.) Turn right upon entering, then left at the last corridor and look for the open meeting room.
When: 7:30 PM till whenever (usually 9:30ish) on Thursday, June 6.
Lake Taylor Hospital
1309 Kempsville Road
Norfolk, Va. 23502 (Map)
Earlier this year, Psychology Today carried an interview with a man who makes people disappear.
He can’t use an eraser, because once it’s out there, it’s out there. So he uses misdirection.
Usually I’m hired by people who want to hide something embarrassing online or by wealthy people who fear abductions—so a predator trying to plan a kidnapping won’t find any real information about their family on the Net. I take my client’s name and create fake digital identities for it with Facebook and Twitter accounts, blogs, business websites. The idea is to make the false identities dimensional and give them a strong Internet presence. Then I take the content to be hidden and manipulate it. If something negative happened to Joe Johnson in L.A., I make it Chicago, then spread it online. I make it appear that the negative info is about Joe Johnson in Chicago—not the one in L.A.
A fascinating read.
(This post arose from George Smith’s comment here.)
Microsoft and Apple have used two different strategies for marketshare: “lock” vs. “lure.”
Microsoft, which has never innovated anything ever, bought promising software and re-engineered it so it only worked with Microsoft products. IE and the infamous “optimized for Internet Explorer” websites were probably the most successful example of this strategy. Eventually, though, the law and the escalating complexity of the engineering caught up with them. The silly *.docx format was probably last gasp of this.
Microsoft is now reduced to trolling Android patents for revenue.
Apple hasn’t innovated anything of note, either, at least not since the Apple II. Tablets, web-enabled phones, and music players were around before iJunk, but Apple did it prettier. Despite the eulogies, Steve jobs was not a tech genius. He was a marketing genius.
Apple build an orchard full of flowering fruit trees, invited people in, then closed the gates to the orchard behind them. And the fruit trees are so pretty that most Apple fanbots don’t even realize that their garden has a wall.
In many ways, Android is similarly locked down, but Android devices typically cost half what equivalent iJunk costs and Google, for all that it’s not a paragon of web virtue, is not nearly so predatory as Apple. Google also wants an open web–open so that they can peek in the windows, true, but open nonetheless.
There are a number of reasons I’ve migrated almost completely to Linux (I do have one Windows computer, over there, in the corner, but right now it’s booted into Linux Mint, which is where it spends most of its time). Among them is that Linux, once you stop thinking in Windows, is simpler and easier to use, more configurable, and ultimately more logical than Windows.
A big one though, is cost: Not just the dollar cost for software ($0.00), but the cost translated into time and freedom.
When I set up a computer with Linux, it is mine to use as I see fit within the terms of the GPL. I am not prisoner to unreadable EULAs; no manufacturer can suddenly revoke my “license” and make legal software (which, in Windows world, I may have paid big bucks for) inaccessible to me.
I don’t kid myself that Linux will be the next big dog. Most computer users have never and will never install an OS. It’s not difficult, but they are petrified by the prospect. Most Linux installers, because their designers know that they may be used by persons who are unfamiliar with the process, are, indeed, designed to be easy to use, but how would persons new to Linux know?
Until a prospective user can see and test Linux as easily as he or she can see and test an Android phone or tablet (how many persons know that Android is Linux?), Linux for home use will continue to be the domain of software engineers, sysadmins, and knowledgeable hobbyists.
Another brainstorm from the folks who would sell you things you don’t need at prices you can’t afford. From MarketWatch:
How else to explain the announcement from Hammacher Schlemmer, the 165-year-old catalog dedicated to “offering the Best, the Only and the Unexpected,” that it’s now selling an “iPad Commode Caddy”? The $99.95 chrome-steel stand holds both a roll of toilet paper and an Apple iPad, thereby eliminating “the clutter created by magazines and newspapers,” as Hammer Schlemmer general manager Fred Berns explains.
Picture, if you give a damn, at the link.
If this thing catches on, it’s only weeks until some bozo releases a hack for the iWebcam. And a dollar to a doughnut it will be called “iSpy.”
Phishing comes to cell phones.
Like “phishing” scams, which seek personal information over the phone or via e-mail, “SMiShing” uses text messages, technically called “Short Messaging Service,” to fraudulently acquire sensitive personal information.
Sorrell’s office is reminding consumers to be wary of text messages and calls they did not initiate. And consumers should never give out personal information to an unverified source.
All the computer security in the world can’t overcome stupid.
Heh (emphasis added).
Manager of the Space Operations Computing (SpOC) for NASA Keith Chuvala is on the record saying, “We migrated key functions from Windows to Linux because we needed an operating system that was stable and reliable — one that would give us in-house control. So if we needed to patch, adjust, or adapt, we could.”
Since I decreased the comment window for posts to seven days and closed all pages to comments (“Other Stuff” on the sidebar), the amount of comment spam that Akismet catches has decreased significantly, averaging under a dozen spam comments a day.
The amount of overhead in my MySQL database has dropped from three to four megabytes every few days to kilobytes, so much so that I’ve increased the interval between instances of database checks/repairs/optimizations/backups, which involve logging into my hosting provider and almost five minutes of clicking, from every couple of days to every three or four days.
When I get a round tuit, I want to change the comment link to inform visitors that comments are closed after seven days and that, if they have a comment on an older post, they should email me. This will involve mucking about in the CSS and in the theme files and a lot of testing on my test system (the logical place for testing), so it might be a while before I tackle it.
First, I have to record my next podcast for Hacker Public Radio, do a test recording for Librivox, and update my Debian box, which serves as my file and media server, to v. 7.0, Wheezy, which was released last weekend (Debian releases are named after characters from Toy Story), not necessarily in that order.
My local rag reports that area schools are starting to pay attention to their twittering twits’ twittery. (The story notes that one local high school–high school, mind you–player has over 800 “followers.” There’s a whole nother post lurking in that bit of trivia.)
Coaches, teachers, and administrators are concerned, in particular, that athletes might damage their standing and their scholarship pro$pect$. One of them contributed this gem: