Archive for PEBKAC

Proud to be a twit

You can see what’s wrong with this asshat in a matter of seconds:

My website host reset my password. However, they sent the new password to my old email. They will not relinquish the new password to my current email address (which they currently use for billing) and I cannot access my site. Is there legal recourse?

You can’t get much more obvious than this, said I:

And you never gave the host the new email address because — why, exactly?

It’s rather pointless to speak of “legal recourse” when it’s obviously your fault.

Now this is hardly a problem anyone would call “unique”; in half an hour you can find a dozen or more wackos who fail to comprehend the simple fact that it’s their responsibility to keep everyone in the chain informed. Rather a lot of such folks generate throwaway addresses, fearing that someone might find out who they are, and they deserve the failures they get.

Missing the point, incidentally, is also a failure:

Nope. I own the domains and I own the email address and i want some of my property off the domains (which I own). Why can’t I have my property, when I can establish that it is my property? Seriously!? For years the host has sent me bills for the domains to my current email address. They are USING the current email address for business purposes, to direct payments. And they don’t know this — why, exactly?

Billing records and domain records are not necessarily united under a single database, and you might not want them to be, lest some vandal get all your information at once.

The two hilarious things about this guy:

  • He claims to be an empath;
  • He doesn’t follow his own question, meaning it doesn’t appear in his profile question list, meaning he wants plausible deniability in case he wants to disavow any knowledge of its existence.

It’s always lots of fun to see people work their very hardest to avoid responsibility.

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She’s only trying to help

Night before last, a couple of us converts to the iPhone faith were discussing the machine’s disembodied voice. I did not admit at the time what my first question was, but I can reveal here, I think, that it was asked on a Friday: “Hey, Siri, how old is Rebecca Black?”

After about 0.5 second, Siri popped some text onto the screen and chirped, “Rebecca Black is twenty-two years old.”

“Thank you,” I said. It became a habit: for whatever she fetched, I would express gratitude. From what little I know about digital assistants, which is terribly little indeed, they’re not actually capable of processing those two little words unless, as Alex Trebek might say, they were in the form of a question. But now I wonder: does anybody else do this? And does it make any difference?

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In need of alignment

I have a three-block email signature that contains entirely too much crap. It does, however, serve the purpose of keeping me off this chart:

(Via Language Log.)

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Never-ending loopiness

In less than one hour, this loser posted five damn-near-identical questions:

What is the best web design?

What is web design all about?

How can I become a professional in web design?

What does a web designer do?

What is the web design?

Suffice it to say, this character isn’t getting near anyone’s database any time soon.

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Flipped away

And now a second flip-phone bites the dust:

This was … spendy. (I went with the iPhone 7, the one US Cellular had, because I didn’t feel up to shopping around; I wanted one by this weekend when I have some travel ahead of me). And there’s the rise in the price of the monthly plan ($25 to about $45, but there’s also the “rental” on the phone; I might later just purchase one and give this one back).

And it’s HARD to figure out, the learning curve is quite steep if you haven’t used a smartphone before. I scribbled down my different passwords and hope I remember which one goes with which thing (or at least that the phone remembers them). It was hot and I was tired and I suspect not in the best frame of mind for things.

I suspect the people in there were laughing at me after I left because I knew so little. Then again, the woman who worked with me said “I don’t use an iPhone, I use Android” and I admit I thought with annoyance “then why not send over someone who DOES use an iPhone.”

To compare notes:

  • My data plan runs $50. (My former non-data plan was half that.)
  • She got a new 7; I bought a not-necessarily-gently-used 6s. On the upside, there’s no rental fee.
  • The learning curve is indeed steep.
  • The woman who worked with me apparently ascertained my exact level of newbiehood and adjusted the palaver accordingly. Ten minutes in, I was reassured; twenty minutes in, I wanted to marry her. (Thirty minutes in, I was halfway home.)

And I called up a rather large number of my contacts, just to make sure I’d transcribed the numbers correctly. So far, I have.

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There’s always another jerkoff

Literally so, apparently: When you buy a used laptop, how can you make sure it isn’t contaminated with dried semen?

I’d hate to see this guy’s touchpad, if you know what I mean, and I think you do.

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In lieu of biometrics

I think I’ve been through this a couple of times myself:

Sarah A. Hoyt has a fine rant about accursed petty bureaucrats. I tried to leave a comment telling her what I thought, but WordPress wants a password. My browser remembers the password to every other website I have ever visited, but not WordPress. Fine, make up a new password. Sorry, you’ve used that one before. Try a different one, same response. Finally write a sentence full of cursing and it accepts that one. Doesn’t matter, because whoever is in charge of remembering passwords will surely forget this one as well.

I don’t have a perfect record at password retention, but I don’t obtain them via rectal extraction either.

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War on Google?

This happened last night:

I followed with a screenshot:

But no, the good folks at Malwarebytes had not actually declared war on Google:

This is why I pay for this stuff.

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Don’t you know who I am?

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard this: “Don’t give a real email address to any Web site. It’ll bring you spam, or worse.” And so Lord Dingleberry makes up an address on the spot.

And then this happens: Twitter says this is the email provider I used to register. @t*.**.*** I’m stumped. What could that possibly be?

Hard luck, your Lordship. You pulled that out of your colon; now you have to climb back up there to see the source. Fortunately, your head is already in position.

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Shoe fly

Sneakers for professional gamers? Well, technically, they don’t actually sneak, but otherwise:

Playing video games for a living is hard work. You need skill, endurance, and, according to sneaker maker K-Swiss, the right footwear.

The clothing you wear when you’re sitting down for hours at a time is important, as any frequent flier knows. Dress too nicely and your clothing becomes a prison, but looking like a total slob isn’t ideal, either. The same is true for the marathon gaming sessions that professional streamers and esports athletes regularly engage in. Enter the MIBR One-Tap, a new sneaker from K-Swiss that’s being marketed towards pro-gamers.

The esports athletes at the Immortal Gaming Club (IGC) helped K-Swiss design the shoe. Made in Brazil, or MIBR), is one of IGC’s teams and the shoe’s namesake. Just looking at the shoe gives you an idea of its gaming bonafides.

One-Taps by K-Swiss

Considering what gamers pay for hardware, these shoes, at a mere $125, seem downright cheap(ish).

(Via LegallyBae.)

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XP in three-quarter time

There are still defenders of Windows XP out there, and on behalf of those intrepid souls, we are happy to bring you this:

Of course, if you’d rather we went all the way back to Windows 95

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Boxlessness

You have to wonder how this nitwit got into this predicament in the first place: Is there a way to still comment and use YouTube if you’ve been banned from being able to own an email account permanently by court order?

Let’s call him halfway home: he can go to YouTube and look at any non-restricted video. But he cannot comment, or see restricted items, because he’d have to login with a Google account, and Google doesn’t sign up users without an email address.

And inevitably, I have to wonder what sort of grievous offense is most appropriately punishable by barring all access to email. It’s a swell idea: being an asshat on social media requires first that you apply for an account, which will require an email address. (We assume that the ban applies to all the guy’s existing accounts as well as any new ones he might want to create.) And there is an upside: no one can spam him.

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Live from the Googleplex

At least once a day, someone wanders forlornly through Quora asking how he can keep Google from spying on him. Now and then, I am sufficiently moved to report “You can’t.” And this is why you can’t:

Gizmodo’s Kashmir Hill took on a “monumental challenge,” according to the latest from Forbes, of not merely giving up Google’s many services, but actively blocking all communication with every single one of Google’s services on all her devices.

In other words, Hill didn’t just stop using Google Search, YouTube, Gmail, Waze, etc., she got “the help of a Motorola engineer who designed a custom VPN (virtual private network) that restricted all of her devices — laptops, phones, smart speakers, everything — from talking to Google servers.”

The result? It pretty much broke her access to the internet.

Within a matter of hours, non-Google applications she was using phoned home to the Googleplex fifteen thousand times. And you think you can do better? See you on that uncharted desert isle.

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Timed release

I had this desktop custom built about four years ago; it runs Windows 7 Home Premium, and how it differs from every other version of Windows 7, I couldn’t tell you.

I can, however, tell you this: about every fourth Tuesday, Microsoft serves up a plateful of updates and then pesters me until I restart. If I let it do its thing, the “Logging off” screen appears, and the little percentage indicator comes on. It gets to 30, always 30, and then shuts down. One power-up self-test later, you get the cute little Win7 light show, and the numbers start again at, yes, 30. I figure this is purely arbitrary, but I may never know for sure, especially since Microsoft says it will quit supporting Win7 after the first of the year. I have already downloaded a Windows 10 install and paid for a license. (Please don’t ask me which version.)

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An order to go

China blocking Web sites? Not new. China seizing phones to install Apps from Hell? That’s new:

Foreigners crossing certain Chinese borders into the Xinjiang region, where authorities are conducting a massive campaign of surveillance and oppression against the local Muslim population, are being forced to install a piece of malware on their phones that gives all of their text messages as well as other pieces of data to the authorities, a collaboration by Motherboard, Süddeutsche Zeitung, the Guardian, the New York Times, and the German public broadcaster NDR has found.

The Android malware, which is installed by a border guard when they physically seize the phone, also scans the tourist or traveller’s device for a specific set of files, according to multiple expert analyses of the software. The files authorities are looking for include Islamic extremist content, but also innocuous Islamic material, academic books on Islam by leading researchers, and even music from a Japanese metal band.

Should we assume that this doesn’t work on iOS?

As usual with Communist regimes, the locals get it worse:

In no way is the downloading of tourists’ text messages and other mobile phone data comparable to the treatment of the Uighur population in Xinjiang, who live under the constant gaze of facial recognition systems, CCTV, and physical searches. Last week, VICE News published an undercover documentary detailing some of the human rights abuses and surveillance against the Uighur population. But the malware news shows that the Chinese government’s aggressive style of policing and surveillance in the Xinjiang region has extended to foreigners, too.

Google Play, your usual source for Android apps, has nothing to do with this one:

Once installed on an Android phone, by “side-loading” its installation and requesting certain permissions rather than downloading it from the Google Play Store, BXAQ collects all of the phone’s calendar entries, phone contacts, call logs, and text messages and uploads them to a server, according to expert analysis. The malware also scans the phone to see which apps are installed, and extracts the subject’s usernames for some installed apps. (Update: after the publication of this piece, multiple antivirus firms updated their products to flag the app as malware.)

Like the Chinese care if you flag their app.

(Via Joseph Cox.)

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Nearing the Edge

As gall goes, this is at least partly mitigated:

I wonder if I still have a copy of Netscape around here.

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Of historical interest, anyway

This cute little darb is the IBM 5100 Portable Computer, unleashed on the world in 1975, six years before the machine normally called the IBM PC. The base version, with 16 KB of actual RAM, could be had for about $10,000; fortified with a whole 64 KB, it was about twice as much. I have to admit, I’m pretty impressed with that QIC tape backup.

IBM Model 5100 computer

What’s it worth today? Ask this guy: How to go on YouTube, Facebook or Twitter on a 1977 IBM-5100?

I don’t think I have the heart to tell him. After all, it’s a ten-grand (or more) machine.

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Because we said so

How Big Tech became Big Brother:

In all probability, they will exhaust themselves trying to stamp out dissent, which means things will get much worse. Apple, for example, is now censoring speech within chat programs like Telegram. Microsoft is promising to moderate speech over Skype. The people behind these efforts are driven by hatred and self-loathing, so they lie awake at night thinking about this stuff.

The trouble is, it is expensive. The latest YouTube banning probably cost the company $10 million dollars to organize. It’s pretty clear they invested a lot of manpower in reviewing specific videos. The return on that investment was mostly bad press and greater awareness by regulators that there is a problem. That’s a lesson from the old days too. No matter how right they were to regulate users, the forum moderators were always looked upon unfavorably. They were the prison guards of the system.

That last bit is probably key. A decade ago, Apple was a cool brand run by an equally cool genius who liked wearing black turtlenecks. Now it is seen as a Chinese electronics company run by an angry homosexual. Similarly, YouTube used to be a place where young people could express themselves. Now it’s where old Jewish women yell at young people for using naughty language. With every censorship effort, the reputation of the oligopolies declines. Silicon Valley is now the universal villain.

That’s the thing about hatred and self-loathing: it replicates in several directions at once. The catch, of course, is that they can never loathe themselves as much as the rest of us loathe them.

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This LAN is your LAN

Don’t ask Wi, try their Fi:

Possible wireless-connection names

(From Bits and Pieces via Miss Cellania.)

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And it just sits there mutely

One problem with relying on a digital assistant occurs when the digits don’t add up anymore:

An afternoon storm caused a power outage. The outage corresponded to a very loud pop from the next room, the room where all the Internet hardware is located. When the power came back on, the Internet didn’t.

Now, losing Internet for a bit isn’t really that big of a deal. It’s even softened a good bit when the phone still can connect, so I wasn’t completely cut off. But, home Internet is more of a big deal now that I’ve added some smart devices around the house.

“Hey Google, turn on the air conditioner.”

“OK Google, turn off the kitchen light.”

“Hey Google, what’s the weather?”

That doesn’t sound like much, but when you get used to it, it’s kinda jarring when it’s gone. And Google was gone.

One could argue, I suppose, that avoiding such devices in the first place neatly averts the possibility of suddenly having to do without them, but there’s a practical limit to how far the clock can be turned back without propelling oneself into the Preceding Century, or even farther. (Blessed be the name of Willis Carrier.)

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Renewing the world’s oldest profession

I’m reasonably certain no one is actually surprised by this:

Apps like Facebook and Tinder are fuelling the “soaring industry” of online prostitution and sexual exploitation, according to a worldwide study published by a French anti-prostitution group on Tuesday.

Prostitution has moved “from the street to the Internet,” where pimps recruit young girls via Snapchat and Instagram before prostituting them in apartments rented on Airbnb, said anti-prostitution group Fondation Scelles.

“Here’s the DUH! statement: every time technology improves, one of the first beneficiaries is nookie. Always.” — Kim du Toit, last week.

“Shopping, sex, and shopping for sex propel all new technology.” — Penn Jillette, early 1990s.

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Very hard not to laugh

I mean, the silly twit brought it on himself: I gave facebook a fake phone number, now I can’t log in?

It’s probably obvious, but here’s the way he tells it:

I was tired of the nag message, so I gave them a fake number. Now they want me to give them a code they sent to a phone that does not exist. I reported this to them twice, no response.

Telling lies is always more work than telling the truth: if you’d given them an actual working number none of this would have happened.

“But I didn’t —” Doesn’t matter now, does it? Now try to start a new account and see how fast Facebook crushes you like a bug.

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I’d rather have bots

Last time I was ranting about the abomination unto the Lord that is Google’s reCaptcha, I stayed within the bounds of Generally Speaking. Today we get a bit more specific.

And my major target is Yahoo!, which set up reCaptcha on several of its subsections, including Answers. It’s implemented badly: Google’s demand for a place for its mischief resulted in an unbordered box to that effect, stuck more or less in the middle of the page, whether or not there’s actual text there.

Bad implementation of worse software

It won’t hurt to experiment, I reasoned, and so I blew the dust off a copy of Internet Explorer 11 and went back to the same page. No tomfoolery.

And then I attempted to answer a question, and got hit with the dreaded nine-square Select All The Pictures With [Whatever] challenge.

“God damn you,” I said in approximately the same voice that Charlton Heston brought out after seeing the half-buried Statue of Liberty. I’ve answered 17,564 questions for these yobs, and this is how I am repaid. Unless they clean up their act in a big farking hurry, that’s the last one ever. And I hope they choke on billions of bots, which are undoubtedly even now being tweaked to get past this ill-conceived obstacle.

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Yagity yak

Those of us who were around at the dawn, or at least the mid-morning, of UHF television already know this: What is the actual purpose of using directional yagi antenna?

Someone who knows explained:

Directional antennas have “gain” along their main lobe. You’ll get a stronger signal in the desired direction, and better signal rejection, off-axis.

The questioner was evidently disappointed:

so it doesn’t provide any free internet

[insert Picardian facepalm here]

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Downtime to come

Thia is supposed to happen today:

On May 29th, between 4:00pm and 10:00pm PST, we will be performing a few upgrades on your shared MySQL server, [name redacted].

We expect the process to take up to 30 minutes total, and once this has completed, your MySQL server will be running Ubuntu Bionic and MySQL 5.7.

You may notice that your MySQL databases are unreachable for brief periods, or your website may behave unexpectedly while we complete the upgrade. This is normal, and your sites and databases will be back online as soon as the upgrade is complete!

Having watched these guys at work for the last 17 years or so, I’m figuring on 15-20 minutes of Wacky Misbehavior.

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Nice backend there

Being the analytical soul that he is, Francis W. Porretto points to a plausible enhancement to today’s rather rudimentary teledildonics:

I predict the emergence of a new industry: the sex worker behind the sexbot. Such positions could be extremely remunerative, though obviously they would demand a certain kind of personality … and the ability to multiplex conversations (and shopping trips) among many [customers] simultaneously, as a one worker per sexbot ratio would be cost-prohibitive. The preferred applicant would be sexually knowledgeable although not necessarily deeply or widely experienced, would possess a convincing female personality, and would be just as incapable as a typical young woman of saying exactly what she means.

Hm. It seems the personality behind the sexbot would have to be a young woman (or a really weird guy). Well, at least she wouldn’t have to do the “icky part,” which, after all, is the reason sexbots have been developed. So young women of America: get into training! As there will surely be intense competition for these new, demanding, but probably highly lucrative positions, prepare yourselves early for your place in this new and challenging field. Among the spinoff benefits, that way you won’t need to maintain your figure or develop expertise at any other positions. That part, we can confidently leave to the engineers.

First thought: Would these, um, assistants have to work in a so-called “clean room”?

Second thought: How hard would it be to implement a system of, um, hot-swappable appendages and such? I have to figure that some customers will have wilder imaginations than others.

Side thought: In my pony story The way she used to be, there’s a scene in which it’s revealed, far outside canon of course, that changelings, being the world-class shape-shifters that they are, might make a living on the seamier side of Equestrian cities by assuming exactly the appearance the customer might desire. (Our protagonist is no angel, but he gives the idea a hard pass.)

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Policy announcement

A few of you have heard this before:

Not even @SwiftOnSecurity can change my mind, and normally I follow Tay around like a lost puppy.

And Google apparently did this deliberately:

The problem has arrived since a few days ago. Up to now Google worked perfectly well on Pale Moon with NoScript, with no problems, for years. Now this is happening on both Pale Moon and the latest Firefox, but NOT on Chrome!

I would like to know if this is a problem of Pale Moon having lately changed the user-agent string, or whether Google have modified their search-screen to penalize everybody except Chrome.

And just to exacerbate matters, you can’t Inspect Element and then select Block: it just reappears farther down the list.

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Because I said I was

When the question is easy, you may assume the questioner is dumb: How to post transparent images on WordPress?

The complaint:

I am a graphic designer and I make templates that can be uploaded, when I post the images on WordPress it seems to add a white background, when the images are saved from the site they are no longer transparent.. what can I do to maintain the transparency of these images when posting to WordPress

If this guy is a “graphic designer,” I’m a farking gymnast. WordPress doesn’t have any effect on transparent backgrounds. So I’m going to guess that he was told, or that he read somewhere, to “optimize” the images, and a JPEG is likely to be smaller than a PNG — and JPEG doesn’t support transparency.

A kindly chap pointed out:

How exactly are you posting these images? Uploading PNGs to the Media Library will keep the files as-is; I’ve never had WP add any kind of background.

Neither has anyone else, not nobody, not nohow.

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Business undone

If I spend long periods of time on the toilet, there’s something wrong with me. And this isn’t it:

So here it goes I’ve been looking for answers and cant find any please professional answers only.. so I was in the bathroom and I decided to try and look at porn while on the toilet. But once I reached the site it said it was blocked and didnt let me go through… I then realized I was connected to the company wifi as I stated above it doesnt require any credentials to log in it just comes up with a page that says you have to agree to there terms and hit accept and your in… my worry is would the IT administrator be able to track it back to me like literally track it back to me and say hey you did this. Once I went to the page it said blocked and wouldnt let me view it but my concern is would the IT guy be able to see someone tried to visit porn and then literally track it back to me say through my IP adress or my MAC adress I posted this on another site and got different answers I’m looking for something solid and definite. Here are some details I used a Samsung galaxy s9 and my phone name is just galaxy s9 it doesnt say my name or anything I never was able to access the site it was blocked but I’m wondering if they could pinpoint it to me or would this be hard to do would they need a court order and things of that nature to actually go through the process of getting to me… please help I’m worried I’m gonna lose my job thanks a ton for real and professional answers

The really hilarious aspect of this, you’ll note, is that the silly fool is looking for “professional answers” when his problem is that he was trying to watch porn from the corporate restroom. The one true “professional answer,” of course, is “You’re fired.”

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If you’re going to San Francisco

Be sure to wear — aw, heck, it doesn’t matter what you wear, just as long as you are there, because the Board of Supervisors doesn’t want to know what you look like:

Legislators in San Francisco have voted to ban the use of facial recognition, the first US city to do so.

The emerging technology will not be allowed to be used by local agencies, such as the city’s transport authority, or law enforcement.

Additionally, any plans to buy any kind of new surveillance technology must now be approved by city administrators.

Opponents of the measure said it will put people’s safety at risk and hinder efforts to fight crime.

Those in favour of the move said the technology as it exists today is unreliable, and represented an unnecessary infringement on people’s privacy and liberty.

In particular, opponents argued the systems are error prone, particularly when dealing with women or people with darker skin.

I concur with that “error-prone” judgment, but the idea that San Francisco sees itself as a guardian of privacy and liberty is utterly hilarious: you want privacy in the Holy City, you live behind a gate, or you take a dump on the sidewalk. None other need apply.

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