Archive for PEBKAC

Dumbass with the heart of a smartass

The operative word, of course, is “ass,” and this is what this particular ass wants: “I’m not getting the answers I’m looking for …?”

The last time I asked these questions, everybody ignored them. I asked these questions so people could answer them, not ignore them.

I’d ignore this jerk myself, but I feel the need to make an example of someone.

Sometimes when I’m using my computer, it’ll freeze, and I’ll get a caption that says “A script on this page may be busy, or it may have stopped responding. You can stop the script now, open the script in the debugger, or let the script continue.” This caption features buttons that say “Continue”, “Debug Script”, and “Stop Script.” What does this mean? What do I do when this happens? By the same token, sometimes my computer will freeze, and I’ll get a caption that says “Not Responding.” Can I get a repairman to come in and change things around somehow to where these things never happen again until the end of time? Thank you in advance for your answers.

Jeebus. It means what it says it means: a script is not responding properly, and these are your options. You have no others. And pretty much everyone who’s gotten beyond Windows 3.1 has seen this before and has learned to deal with it, though not exactly happily.

Then again, this is how this dimwit identifies himself:

I hate being single

You got to figure he’s been living with that for a long, long time.

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Situation wanted

An old friend is facing a new need:

Okay. So. The job I have had for six years is gone. I was not replaced, they just decided to eliminate the position entirely. (Guess I programmed everything they needed a little too well.)

Anyway, I am hunting for work. I made this little website at

It has my résumé, and a nifty “Virtual Tour,” wherein you move a small avatar of me through some doorways, into rooms decorated with details of my work history. You use your arrow keys to propel me left, right, back, or forth. (If you’re on a tablet or something with no arrow keys, you can still tap on the little doorways, I’ll probably take the hint.) And the spacebar makes me jump like Mario.

And even if you don’t need that much eye candy, wouldn’t it be cool to have someone around who can do it?

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Why are we hearing from these people?

If social media are to be believed — and I’m not saying they are — multiple handbaskets are being readied for our trip to the hot nether regions.
The Daily Brief happened upon this comment, and maybe it explains things:

I have often considered that there are a lot more people who have degrees of mental illness out there than we generally realise. Most of the time they can function relatively OK, if surrounded by good people who try and keep them on the path of sanity, however if they are steered in the wrong direction — their inherent bias towards fantasy thinking will mean they go down the wormhole when a more sane person who stop and think “Hang on a minute here!” I think the reason we are seeing more of the misdirection now is the internet — it’s all there on everyone’s Facebook and Twitter feeds, and 100% accessible to all, whereas in the past such people would probably never have been exposed to such twisted thinking. Now they are, and they lack the critical faculties to determine what is true and what is false.

For all I know, there are still people out there who believe that you can’t say something untrue on television, because of federal law or the Seal of Good Practice or whatever. God forbid they should get caught up in the 24-hour cable news cycle.

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This is not the Zoom-Zoom I had in mind

Just the title is scary enough: You Can Hack Some Mazda Cars with a USB Flash Drive. And it’s not so difficult, either:

Mazda cars with next-gen Mazda MZD Connect infotainment systems can be hacked just by plugging in a USB flash drive into their dashboard, thanks to a series of bugs that have been known for at least three years.

The issues have been discovered and explored by the users of the Mazda3Revolution forum back in May 2014. Since then, the Mazda car owner community has been using these “hacks” to customize their cars’ infotainment system to tweak settings and install new apps. One of the most well-designed tools is MZD-AIO-TI (MZD All In One Tweaks Installer).

These chaps, at least, are doing this to enhance the capabilities of the system. And while there have been no reports of malicious activity, Mazda quietly patched the system back in May. New bugs, of course, will be found later, if they haven’t already.

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If choice it be

A pet peeve that’s long outgrown its cage:

[A] phenomenon that’s grown more and more frequent over time: the stupendously annoying coercive forced-choice. It is presented by the pop-up window that offers you something you don’t want and didn’t ask for — be it an update or a service or a product or a website link — and then gives you a choice of responses. But the responses aren’t a simple “yes” or “no. And definitely you never get to choose “go away and leave me alone forever.”

Instead, you get a variant of something snide and sarcastic, where the supposed “no” response reads something like “I don’t want this wonderful free service because I’m a moron.”

Road & Track used to do this a lot on its Web site: they’d promote some piece on, say, The Most Exciting Cars of the 1990s, and then give you the negative option in small print: “No, I’m far more interested in dull, unexciting cars.” I haven’t seen them doing it lately, though.

And there’s one other scheme: hide the X that’s supposed to close the pop-up window. Upper right corner, right? Not necessarily. I’ve seen them stick it two inches away from that corner, inside an otherwise-transparent border. I’ve even seen it in a different corner entirely — upper left, anyone?

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A jaunty little data cap

And a penalty for tossing it aside. From yesterday’s mail:

Your Cox High Speed Internet service currently includes a data plan of 1 TB (1,024 GB). Beginning 07/06/2017, if you exceed your monthly data plan we will automatically provide additional blocks of data for $10 per 50 gigabytes (GB), as needed. This will not impact 98% percent of customers, but instead only charges the heaviest Internet users.

To help you get accustomed to this change, you will be provided a grace period for your first two billing cycles after the effective date. You will not be charged if you exceed your data plan during this grace period.

I checked the online Data Usage Meter, which is pretty consistently around 50 GB a month; if I wanted to hit the threshold, I suppose I could stream Netflix 24/7 for weeks at a time, except for the minor detail that I don’t have a Netflix subscription.

And there are times when I wonder just how serious they are:

Cox Internet troubleshooting panel

If service is interrupted, I might find it just a tad difficult to reach this troubleshooting panel.

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Rocket scientist spurns tech

Overwrought tech, anyway:

Our Honeywell died, so I’m looking at thermostat reviews, and holy moly can you spend a lot of money for a thermostat that does things I have no use for. I guess if I lived in an area of weather extremes, and had both air and heat, I might care about having a vacation option that would heat or cool the house before we got back from a trip, or the ability to control it from my phone, but I really really don’t want my house to be part of the Internet of things.

Replied one of his commenters:

I live in Seabrook, Texas. My own house is fairly well sealed and insulated. I have an eighteen dollar, non-programmable thermostat that I keep at 74 degrees day and night, year round. Why 74 degrees? That is the temperature at which the wife and kids don’t bitch about the temperature, day or night, year round. Why don’t I vary the setting between night and day? Nobody is there during the day after all. Because it is actually cheaper to keep the house at a steady state, than to let it warm up during the day and then cool it at night. Some would argue that, but I have the electric bills to prove it.

This is also my experience, several hundred miles north of the Houston metro. (Our rocket scientist dwells in one of the more comfortable zones of the Los Angeles metro.) At this setting, my bedroom, which occupies its own wing of the house, will generally stay between 71 and 77 regardless of what’s going on outside. And yes, my thermostat, the classic Honeywell eyeball, is as non-programmable as they come: you turn the dial and set which device feeds the air handler, and that’s it.

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Guaranteed unbreakable

Well, not exactly.

A site at has posted “The worlds most secure password for websites, games and private data. Researched and developed by leading encryption specialists in Europe”. I’m not going to copy it over here, but this string boasts:

  • Upper- and Lowercase Characters
  • Numbers
  • Ambiguous Characters
  • Symbols
  • 20 unique Characters

Downside: Once word gets around that this password is Secure AF, the bad guys will promptly add it to their brute-force cracking schemes, and you’re worse off than when you began.

Of course, this whole effort is bogus, but the password offered does have one legitimate advantage: it’s a hell of a lot better than what you’re probably using now, especially if what you’re using is something like “123456.”

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When there’s no other way

Gerard Van der Leun is about to attack a problem I myself took on nine years ago. It’s going to be a little harder for him, though:

With the duct tape and chewing gum wads of the Movable Type software that holds this site together slowly falling apart, I’ve no choice but to move the type here to another platform: WordPress. This means that I have to do what nobody my age ever wants to do: learn a new program. Result? Posting here shall be light through the weekend as I try to set up a new home in space.

All I have to do is move over 30,000 items from one planet to another. Confidence is high. Repeat: Confidence is high.

I got this task done over the equivalent of a weekend in 2008, but I had only 4061 items to move. And it took me several passes to import all those posts. Still, it did work, sort of, the first time out, and I’m content enough to spit in the eye of anyone who suggests another migration.

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Big Blue shrinks at your expense

A bright idea, or so she seems to believe, from IBM chief marketing officer Michelle Pelosu, is not so damned wonderful at all, reports Jack Baruth:

Thousands of IBM employees who have worked remotely for their entire careers have been given ninety days to sell their homes and move to one of six “collaborative” cities. IBM will pay their moving expenses, but it will not cover the costs of moving to some of the hottest real estate markets in North America.

Very few of these IBMers earn more than $100,000 a year, but they have just ninety days to cash out and move to places where the average home costs between $315k and $1.5m. If they have families, then chances are that they are one half of a double-income couple. After all, that’s the only way anybody can afford to have children now. So Ms. Peluso’s arrogant decree doesn’t just turn thousands of homeowners into renters or house-poor bubble-mortgage slaves; it also forces thousands of people to quit their jobs and start over somewhere else.

The irony here is that IBM has pioneered multiple studies showing that remote workers are happier, more productive, and less expensive than their “agile workspace” counterparts. But Ms. Peluso is not going to let the facts interfere with her emotions. After all, she works in New York, and it’s no trouble for her. Why shouldn’t everybody have to come work with her? Why wouldn’t people want to move to the most exciting cities? Why wouldn’t they want to spend an extra three hours a day commuting to jobs where the first person to leave the office every day will be nonchalantly added to the top of next quarter’s layoff list?

I doubt she has entertained the slightest whiff of a notion that people who don’t earn several million dollars per year might have trouble making a ninety-day relocation to places where a family-sized apartment rents for $10k a month. She almost certainly has not thought about what an extra three hours of day worth of commuting means to the families and children of her employees. Like most C-suite types, she considers the eighty hours a week that she spends on private jets, in limousines, and at multi-billion-dollar resort facilities to be “work.” Surely everybody below her should be required to put in the same hours — and what difference does it make if they start and finish those hours driving a clapped-out Corolla ninety minutes in each direction from the only places they can afford a balloon mortgage?

Let them work in the best spaces! Holy shit, that’s worse than Let them eat cake.

“Everybody back into the office!” said Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer, and we all know how well that worked out.

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You are wrong, copy-protection breath

You can hear Cory Doctorow snickering in the background:

Lexmark has spent nearly 20 years fighting the war on carbon, trying to stop you from refilling your laser printer cartridges. In 2003, they attempted to use the DMCA and DRM to argue that it was an act of piracy (the courts didn’t buy it) and then in 2015, they went all the way to the Supreme Court with the idea that you were violating their patent license terms if you treated the cartridges you purchased as though you owned them.

[Tuesday], the Supreme Court told Lexmark it was wrong. Again. Saying that when a patent holder “chooses to sell an item, that product is no longer within the limits of the monopoly and instead becomes the private individual property of the purchaser, with the rights and benefits that come along with ownership.”

The Supremes were almost unanimous: Justice Ginsburg concurred in part and dissented in part, and Justice Gorsuch, who was not present for the original hearing, took no part in the decision.

Purely by coincidence, I spent Tuesday installing my first-ever third-party cartridges in one of my printers. Results were sort of meh.

(Via Fark.)

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Windows on the world


Hey, at least they’re polite.

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Ancient memory

A look at personal computing online in the UK, a mere third of a century ago:

You can learn a bit more about this from a history of Prestel.

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Let the chips name the paint

Seemed like a good idea at the time:

So if you’ve ever picked out paint, you know that every infinitesimally different shade of blue, beige, and gray has its own descriptive, attractive name. Tuscan sunrise, blushing pear, Tradewind, etc… There are in fact people who invent these names for a living. But given that the human eye can see millions of distinct colors, sooner or later we’re going to run out of good names. Can AI help?

For this experiment, I gave the neural network a list of about 7,700 Sherwin-Williams paint colors along with their RGB values. (RGB = red, green, and blue color values) Could the neural network learn to invent new paint colors and give them attractive names?

Short answer: Yes, but no.

Slightly longer answer: Look at these and judge for yourself:

Paint colors invented by a neural network

Neither Sherwin nor Williams, I suspect, has much to worry about.

(Via Ars Technica.)

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Word salad with no dressing

Most comment spams are incomprehensible.

Most personal ads are incomprehensible.

Now combine the two and you have this thing, dropped into my mailbox this week:

Smart, crazy, funny, wanting and eventually still mature. I’m 5-3 midium built with stunted wavey black hair. I smell good. I pet good and yes, I am attractive. With very light peel (IRISH) and Honeybrown eyes (Mexican) I have a greats ense of humor and when your sad or up-end, I will shape you laugh. Looking looking for joy and excitment, would infatuation to arrange pleasure I am finishing up my considerably in college, dearth to have nonsense in between. Not looking in the direction of A LTR.

The rest is sufficiently disquieting to justify throwing it under the jump:

Read the rest of this entry »

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Calling all fourth-graders

I bet you could answer this one:

In AutoCAD, if you want to make text one-fourth the size of the decimal units for your drawing, should you type .25 or .40?

What’ll you bet me the guy also pirated the software? He’s manifestly too dumb to be in a position where he can afford a four-digit license fee, or to work at a place that can.

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Kernel panic

You spend enough time debugging, and eventually the apocryphal seems like God’s Own Truth:

Of course I’d be entirely unsurprised to hear the story being quite apocryphal, but sometime back I did hear of a computer tech with a seriously active pagan(ish) background, where on one occasion he was dealing with some variety of computer equipment that had been assessed and poked at forwards, backwards and upside down, and the contraption still would not behave.

And at some point as he was glaring at the assorted issues, someone had a passing comment about sacrificing a chicken. The tech stared into space for a bit, then wandered off to borrow someone’s lunch, given the theory that regardless of the cause, dead chicken is dead chicken.

A few minutes later he wandered back with a bucket of KFC, intoned something appropriate for the occasion, ritually waved the bucket about in the vicinity of the recalcitrant circuitry, and then headed off to return the donation. The computer is stated to have then booted up just fine, all assorted bits and pieces in perfect working order.

Colonel Sanders. Is there nothing he can’t do?

Apparently not:

Book acquired, for the sake of, um, research. Yeah. That’s the ticket.

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Why aren’t there more female programmers?

A student asks the crowd at Yahoo! Answers:

I’m a university student studying game and graphics programming and I’m a girl. In my class there are a lot of guys but only few girls, only two or three of us. I also heard there’s a bit sexism when it comes to applying for programming jobs for women. Is it true?

A Level 6 answerer (highest is 7) replies:

I’m a female software developer. I’ve been doing this for over 30 years, and I have to admit that there are a lot less women in the job now than there were when I started and even I’m not sure why.

I work for a global organization, of which I think about 5% of the software developers are female. Most of the women working in our various IT departments are in project management, business analysis, quality testing or frontline support.

When I first started programming, at university, I guess about 40% of the class were female. In my first job about half the programmers were female. Even as recently as the late 1990s about one third of the programmers I worked with were female.

I really don’t have an answer on the decline. The only thing I can think of is that, when I started, object oriented languages and PC development weren’t really a thing. We wrote code in languages like COBOL on mainframes. There was a whole other team of computer operators whose job it was to look after the mainframe, run backups, look after operating system patches and disaster recovery wasn’t really something people thought about. Now, developers are much more expected to be conversant with server architecture, web configuration etc. It’s like that old adage that women are hopeless at programming their video recorders. I must admit I struggle with the server configuration side of things but it’s part of my job now and I get by. But I am much better at the core logic of writing code, which unfortunately only takes up about 20% of my working day these days. Maybe that’s part of the reason.

This latter problem, I suspect, is due to ever-diminishing staff: the gods of commerce have decreed that if a task can be completed with a staff of ten, it’s even better to do it with five or six.

And while not everything can be explained away by sexism, there’s plenty of it out there.

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Going through the motions

The Space Pope’s advice — “Don’t date robots!” — notwithstanding, there are some advantages to the purely synthetic partner, says Fred:

Consider the charm of a sexbot. She will be not only beautiful, indeed perfect, but perfectly beautiful just as you want her to be. She will have an “Off” button. She will have user-selectable personalities instead of changing wildly and unpredictably as happens with human women. You can choose sweet, furiously lustful, kinky to taste, shameless hussy, Honkytonk Angel, whatever floats your boat. She won’t do relationship talk. She will do quickies and nooners without complaint, never have a splitting headache, and never have three-day huffs that no man can figure out. Fast, easy, back into her closet, and you can get to work again.

Variety appeals. It will be unlimited. There will be streaming services. offers “Extra Faces.” Feminists sneer at this as mere masturbatory fantasy. To which a guy might respond, “What you mean mere, Sugar Britches?” Anyway, America was built on self-reliance.

I see a potential problem here. For one thing, music streaming services impose limits on skipping tracks. (Why? “Because if you could skip unlimited songs, there would be no reason to get a premium account. You would just be able to keep skipping till you found something you like, and nobody would purchase a premium account.”) I’d expect similar limitations on fembots.

Actual women, some of them anyway, will not much like this situation:

While women are more sexual than men — the better ones are, anyway, usually Democrats — men are more urgent about it. This gives women great power as they are the only sexual outlet men have, except in Scotland. Now they watch the coming sexbots with the unease of a McDonald’s worker watching the installation of an automated burger-flipper.

I’ll take Fred’s word for that business about Democrats, inasmuch as I have insufficient personal experience to the contrary.

Still, if this is going to be the future of sexytime, I’d just as soon do without the hardware: give me an operating system with the voice of Scarlett Johansson, and I’m fine.

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Whatever the traffic will bear

Drizly vehicle in metropolitan Boston

Drizly was founded by Nick Rellas and Justin Robinson, two Boston College graduates, in 2012 when they encountered the question of why almost anything was available through an app — except for beer. They realized the alcohol business had not changed its ways since Prohibition ended, and they began to figure out how to integrate technology into the industry. The company launched its service in the greater Boston area in 2013, then expanded to New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.

I don’t expect to see them in this market any time in my lifetime.

(Photo by Craig Sprout.)

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The one with the ever-widening hole in it

I was rather startled to see this:

[E]very Intel platform with AMT, ISM, and SBT from Nehalem in 2008 to Kaby Lake in 2017 has a remotely exploitable security hole in the ME (Management Engine) not CPU firmware. If this isn’t scary enough news, even if your machine doesn’t have SMT, ISM, or SBT provisioned, it is still vulnerable, just not over the network. For the moment. From what SemiAccurate gathers, there is literally no Intel box made in the last 9+ years that isn’t at risk. This is somewhere between nightmarish and apocalyptic.

First a little bit of background. SemiAccurate has known about this vulnerability for literally years now, it came up in research we were doing on hardware backdoors over five years ago. What we found was scary on a level that literally kept us up at night. For obvious reasons we couldn’t publish what we found out but we took every opportunity to beg anyone who could even tangentially influence the right people to do something about this security problem. SemiAccurate explained the problem to literally dozens of “right people” to seemingly no avail. We also strongly hinted that it existed at every chance we had.

What do all those letters mean? Active Management Technology, Intel Standard Manageability Escalation of Privilege, and Small Business Technology. I found those in Intel’s security alert, issued a few hours after the SemiAccurate release. In the standard jargon:

There are two ways this vulnerability may be accessed please note that Intel® Small Business Technology is not vulnerable to the first issue.

An unprivileged network attacker could gain system privileges to provisioned Intel manageability SKUs: Intel® Active Management Technology (AMT) and Intel® Standard Manageability (ISM).

CVSSv3 9.8 Critical /AV:N/AC:L/PR:N/UI:N/S:U/C:H/I:H/A:H

An unprivileged local attacker could provision manageability features gaining unprivileged network or local system privileges on Intel manageability SKUs: Intel® Active Management Technology (AMT), Intel® Standard Manageability (ISM), and Intel® Small Business Technology (SBT).

CVSSv3 8.4 High /AV:L/AC:L/PR:N/UI:N/S:U/C:H/I:H/A:H

What does all this mean? To me, nothing: I’m using an AMD box. At work, well, I’ll just have to review some inventory. Says S|A:

The problem is quite simple, the ME controls the network ports and has DMA access to the system. It can arbitrarily read and write to any memory or storage on the system, can bypass disk encryption once it is unlocked (and possibly if it has not, SemiAccurate hasn’t been able to 100% verify this capability yet), read and write to the screen, and do all of this completely unlogged. Due to the network access abilities, it can also send whatever it finds out to wherever it wants, encrypted or not.

While these capabilities sounds crazy to put on a PC, they are there for very legitimate reasons. If an IT organization needs to re-image a system, you need to be able to remotely write to disk. Virus cleaning? Scan and write arbitrary bits. User logging and (legitimate) corporate snooping? That too. In short everything you need to manage a box can be exploited in ugly ways.

Intel is already supplying a firmware fix for at least some of the affected platforms.

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Apple wants you to know that they are totally emotionally committed to the idea of recycling. What they don’t want you to know is the depth of that commitment:

Apple’s new moonshot plan is to make iPhones and computers entirely out of recycled materials by putting pressure on the recycling industry to innovate. But documents obtained by Motherboard using Freedom of Information requests show that Apple’s current practices prevent recyclers from doing the most environmentally friendly thing they could do: Salvage phones and computers from the scrap heap.

Apple rejects current industry best practices by forcing the recyclers it works with to shred iPhones and MacBooks so they cannot be repaired or reused — instead, they are turned into tiny shards of metal and glass.

Glass, unless you swallow it, is fairly benign. Not so much some of these metals:

Kyle Wiens, the CEO of iFixit, notes that recycling “should be a last option” because unrecyclable rare earth metals are completely lost and melted down commodities are less valuable and of generally of a lower quality than freshly mined ones. Repair and reuse are much better ways to extend the value of the original mined materials.

But hey, that doesn’t encourage the guy who might be able to afford a secondhand iPhone to go out and buy the latest and greatest.

(Via Joanna Blackhart.)

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What happened yesterday

Some time around noon Central, this site — indeed all my sites — went south, and I mean at the level of Tierra del Fuego. Did this have something to do with the upgrade to a Virtual Private Server last week? Well, kinda sorta: the sites did get moved, but the DNS change, which frankly I did not anticipate, went through yesterday. So basically we had to wait for the DNS change to propagate to your DNS provider: until it did, you got either a 404 or a generic Down page. OpenDNS, my own DNS provider, wasn’t apparently in any hurry; some of you were able to get in before I was.

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One step forward

I have moved off my original shared-hosting account, where I’ve spent the last decade and a half, to my first Virtual Private Server, which gives me the appearance of a machine all to myself and a whole 30 gigabytes’ worth of solid-state drive. (Same host, just a higher rung of service.) This move was motivated by (1) a higher number of server reboots in recent weeks and (2) a substantial price cut, not necessarily in that order. (The new service is 38 percent pricier than the old service, which is currently priced at half what I paid for it fifteen years ago.)

So far, things seem a smidgen faster, though not enormously so, and I have some options that weren’t open to me before. Then again, it takes two machines to run WordPress, the Web server and the database, and I’ve only upgraded the Web server — so far.

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IPv4 fanfiction

I don’t believe a word of this, but it’s a heck of a narrative. Holly — no, not our Holly — claims:

I found a way to pinpoint exactly where someone is EVERY time they use their phone and it is through Netflix. Just saying.?

Suspension of disbelief begins to fail … NOW:

So my ex bf does not have Netflix on his phone. He only has it on his smart tv and his computer … that I know of.

He kept taking off at odd hours and I noticed he was bringing condoms. I actually counted them for a month bf doing this. Anyway I went to his Netflix acct and then to history. It has option there for IP addresses. I clicked that. It told me his IP address EVERY time he used his phone … it had nothing to do with netflix. It also corresponded to the times he kept taking off. I highlighted and copied the IP addresses into a gps converter app I got from google play. It took those IP addresses and gave me the exact gps coordinates of where he was at as well as the time he was there (Netflix IP history). It showed him many times in the middle of the woods on an army base and on a dirt road (where his missing condoms were found on the ground). I waited until he left and went to the place and caught him with a male prostitute. He is now my ex. Oh and he is an FBI agent in sex crimes division. Sooo … that is how you do it :-)

If he doesn’t have Netflix on his phone, why would Netflix have a list of the IP addresses on his phone? For that matter, why would the guy’s desktop have a list of the IP addresses on his phone? If you ask me, he’s better off as far as possible from Femaleficent there.

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Something less than fab

Cristina reveals the reasons — a baker’s dozen! — she’d like to quit Instagram, even though it’s essential to her career as a shoeblogger. This one struck me particularly hard:

If we’ve ever met, chances are I’ve talked about how much I dislike typing on my iPhone. And how much I miss my old school Nokia 3310, where I felt I could type a million words a minute (yes, I’m that old, thank you very much!). But something about Apple’s teeny-tiny keyboard doesn’t cut it for me.

I’m constantly struggling with jelly fingers, resulting in many more “shits” than “shots” & “fab” vs … well, a derogatory term I would never use but my phone seems to auto-incorrect for me. I believe it’s time for Siri & I to have a little chat. Or possibly go Android. Yes, shocking!

I had one of those little Nokia candy bars, and I didn’t type worth a flip, so to speak, on it.

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The lone and level sands

Remember when the idea was to build something that would last? Forget that nonsense:

Whether you call it the technological age or the global age, these are just polite terms for cosmopolitanism, scaled to the supranational. In the city, you don’t build, you hustle. You don’t own, you rent. Nothing is permanent because a stationary target is an easy target. Instead you make what you can and you move onto the next thing. If you can shift the burden onto someone else, all the better. That’s how the game is played because in the city, everyone is a stranger.

That’s the new economy we are experiencing. No one thinks about the long term, because that’s a sucker’s play. The money is in the short hustle. You make your money and move on. The game is to pick the fruit, squeeze out all the juice and then toss away the rest, leaving it for a sucker to clean up later. The housing bubble is a good example. Everyone involved knew it was a grift. They are too smart to not have known. The game was to make money and not be the sucker left holding the bag.

Oh, and remember these guys?

I used to know someone who worked at Lotus in its heyday, so I had an interest in the company from the early days. I recall the owners turning up in local news a lot and they were brimming with confidence. I wonder if those folks from the glory days of Lotus don’t look back with sadness at what happened to their company. They are rich men and did very well for themselves after Lotus, but still, I bet they would trade a lot to be able to walk past their old building with their old sign still over the door.

I watch Lotus IBM Notes boot up five mornings a week, and the only references to Lotus are an old copyright statement and a serial number that starts with L. And I’m not too sure that L means anything at all.

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Somehow this is not intuitive

Presumably it does, however, meet the requirements of the vendor:

You can't do an online reservation online

I’d say something smartassed about Turkish Airlines, but it’s been 42 years (exactly) since I’ve flown them — SZF-IST, if you’re keeping score — and they might have hired new personnel since then.

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Waste time with a wounded hand

As a public service, Sippican Cottage offers a rule of thumb for gauging future Internet success:

Twitter is really, really creepy. Uber was creepy long before you found out exactly how it was creepy. The only human thing about anyone who worked there was their hamhanded attempts to grope the help, now that I think of it. When that’s the top of your interpersonal heap, Dante Alighieri should write your yearly reports. Facebook, and the avaricious little twerp that runs it, is the creepiest thing I’ve ever encountered on this world, and I’ve renovated apartments that had a dead body in them. Google is creepy turtles, all the way down.

Snapchat prospers, if you define success as the ability to use up borrowed money for a longer period of time than your creep competitors before the laws of supply, demand, and plain old addition and subtraction start to apply. Snapchat gives their users the impression they can get away with being a creep on their service. Being creepy is the appeal. Google Glass failed because they lied, and said it wasn’t supposed to be creepy. Snapchat makes the same thing, and touts creepiness as a feature, not a bug. That’s how you do it fellows. You’ll be able to borrow another half-a-tril with that approach.

Then again, the baseline for creepiness creeps (of course) upward all the time. Twitter keeps looking for new ways to be creepy in a desperate attempt to keep the venture-capital wolves from the door. (See, for instance, their alleged “safety” squad, Marxist to the core, a blatant attempt by @jack to avoid doing his job.) Facebook has seemingly all the money in the world, and is willing to spend it on new ways to be assimilated by the Zuckerborg Collective. And I figure Snapchat, which boasted that one’s texts would disappear after a certain period, is working on a way to disable the ever-popular Print Screen function.

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The Cone of Silence descends

About four o’clock Central, this place will be going (temporarily) dark(ish):

We will be working to improve service on your MySQL server this Wednesday, March 22nd, starting at 2PM PDT. This maintenance is estimated to take up to 2-3 hours to complete with a total of roughly 2 hours of downtime. Databases will not be available during this 2 hour period.

As part of this improvement, we will be upgrading your MySQL server to improve stability as well as patching it for potential vulnerabilities. There should be no data loss, but connectivity will be affected by this maintenance, and changes to your databases should not be made until the maintenance is complete.

I’m interpreting this to mean that a cached copy of the front page will still appear, and all the old static pages will remain available, but the latest and greatest will be even later, if not necessarily greater.

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