Archive for PEBKAC

Trailing the pack

During the latter years of the Obama administration, it was a fairly common trope on the political right to assume that anything put out by the Bureau of Labor Statistics had been cooked to a fare-the-well by a corps of faceless operatives, loyal to the Bureau first and the President second and the American people somewhere around fifty-fourth.

Which is not to say that the Trump administration did a great deal to change those apparent priorities. In fact, it might simply be that the Bureau, in our data-hungry age, is still just barely beyond the abacus. For example:

The BLS website uses JavaScript to bring you various features. JavaScript is a software technology needed on most web pages for buttons, online forms, and other content to work properly. Important: Disabling JavaScript will cause some sites to not work properly. Click on the name of your browser to view instructions for enabling JavaScript.

And here are the choices you get:

Browsers recommended by the Bureau of Labor Statistics

Netscape, fercrissake? And version 7, released in 2002, at that?

More dramatic, perhaps: Firefox 1.5.x. The current stable release is 55.0.3.

And near the bottom of the page, this revelation:

Last Modified Date: August 14, 2008

Well, thank you, George W. Bush.

(Via Ellie Kesselman.)

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You can’t get here from there

Or maybe it’s the other way around:

There is no cure save to pull the plug. Or several plugs.


Breakup alert

You always wonder what someone like this is up to:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Can i see private facebook timeline?

The correct answer, already given, is “What part of “private” don’t you understand?”

And so our forlorn questioner tries again:


And this time he proffers an excuse:

My wife blocked me from seeing her secondary profile.

Which leaves only one question: “Can this marriage be saved?” I’m thinking hell to the no.


A knock at lower volume

Last week, word got out that the Justice Department was seeking to force DreamHost, the home of several hundred thousand Web sites, this one included, to turn over any and all server records having to do with a leftish site called The company vowed to resist.

And here’s what’s happened since then:

After we went public with our concerns, the wave of public outcry from concerned citizens, judicial pundits, and commentators of all political backgrounds seemed to sink in. By Monday evening, the Department of Justice had relented and filed an amendment to remove some, but not all, parts of the data demanded in their warrant that we considered to be troubling.

We noted that the government took the relatively conspicuous step of filing its paperwork late Tuesday afternoon in what we can only speculate was an attempt to avoid further coverage by news media.

This late-in-the-game re-scoping of the request for data by the DOJ was a step in the right direction, but it didn’t go far enough. In fact, we filed a sur-reply [pdf] with the court in response [Wednesday] afternoon.

The public hearing took place yesterday, perhaps coincidentally while a DDoS attack was being mounted against all DH sites.

In the end, the judge agreed with a much-modified version of the motion to compel, and some of those modifications are serious:

The court has asked the DOJ to present it with a “minimization plan.” This plan is to include the names of all government investigators who will have access to this data and a list of all methods that will be used to comb through it in search of evidence.

The production of evidence from this trove of data will be overseen by the court. The DOJ is not permitted to perform this search in a bubble.

It is, in fact, now required to make its case with the court to justify why they believe information acquired is or is not responsive to (aka: “covered by”) the warrant.

The court will then seal any information that is acquired but then deemed to be “not responsive.” After that point, this information will not be available to the government without a court order.

Further, the Department of Justice is forbidden from disclosing the content of this responsive information to any other government agency. This is an uncommon step for the court to take, but it speaks to the sensitive content of this site and the First Amendment issues raised.

Comply with all these, said the court, and you can inspect what’s left. I have to figure that DOJ is not at all happy with this, but they’re not about to say so.

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Many more birds

I suspect this is not the only person who’s come to this conclusion:

I checked; it’s owned by the social-network site, not by the birders.


Should have gotten that prescription filled

Seriously demented-sounding individual wants to put up a video-sharing site:

What are the chances of it becoming like Youtube?

Update: What if i told you i have that “hook” store somewhere in my main computer? …

Now what would the chances be?

Update 2: What if i could even use that “hook” on other software i could create. Like maybe another Social Website like Facebook or Twitter or Snapchat. Yeah i could even use that “hook” on Theaters.

Update 3: Imagine the fortune i would have. Yes … i am not lying. I have the software and source code. I created it all by myself.

Problem is i don’t know where to even start. I know i would need investors. Then i would need to settle out somewhere. I live in Texas but i want to move out to California. Yeah. To where every Tech company goes. Silicon Valley. Wonder if Facebook or Google will come down chasing me. You know. To buy my software. I don’t want to sell it. I want to use it and make it grow.

Update 4: I could even use it on Holograms.

0_0 … i could make it to be the richest man in the world.

They probably know already. Or the Illumanti. Knows. They send me a message on my email. I never share my personal email. THEY SOMEHOW send me an email.

They know it could be worth Trillions of dollars.

Update 5: I don’t want the fame i just want the money and the company i am simple man.

Actually, they wanted you to learn how to spell “Illuminati” correctly, you dimwit.

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Unfillable position

I mean, literally, no one can meet this requirement:

Okay, maybe one:

They can’t afford you, Tay.

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In lieu of actual improvements

Why did I keep my car after the insurance company declared it totaled? Because it has most of the stuff I need, and hardly anything like this:

Since we are on an Interstate highway, I would like to engage the cruise control. I don’t want to have to keep watching the speedometer and adjusting my speed to accommodate every little change in the road’s incline. Yes, we are in Iowa, and Iowa is very flat, but even the slightest grade can affect the car’s speed. I am pushing the envelope on what the cops will tolerate and I don’t want [to] push it too far. It would be easy to do. The road is flat and straight and the speedometer goes to 160 MPH.

There is a little mini-control-panel on the right spoke of the steering wheel and the top right button is labeled CRUISE. I push it and little green CRUISE word appears on the instrument panel. I try pushing several of the other buttons to see if I can set the speed, but nothing happens.

The upper left button appears to be a stack of paper (pages?) and pushing it causes the center display between the speedometer and the tachometer to change. I think there are four pages. Pushing this button allows you to cycle through these pages. Eventually I figure out that you can get the cruise control to engage only if you are on the correct page. I don’t know whether this is a feature or a bug.

In general, that sort of thing is considered a feature by its developers and a bug by those who must endure it out in the Real World™.

And this is pretty much the way cruise control works on my car, but the speed is set by accelerating to the desired speed and pushing a button marked SET. The sort of people who want the dashboard to answer their damn phones do not want a button marked SET. For them, even a ’17 Hyundai Sonata, which can be worried up beyond $30,000 with enough features bugs, is insufficiently bedecked with electricks.

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Knock, knock

Who’s there? Why, the Feds, of course:

For the past several months, DreamHost has been working with the Department of Justice to comply with legal process, including a Search Warrant [pdf] seeking information about one of our customers’ websites.

At the center of the requests is, a website that organized participants of political protests against the current United States administration. While we have no insight into the affidavit for the search warrant (those records are sealed), the DOJ has recently asked DreamHost to provide all information available to us about this website, its owner, and, more importantly, its visitors.

Regular readers may recall that DreamHost has been bringing my site to you since the last day of 2001. So my interest in this case is not entirely theoretical.

Chris Ghazarian, our General Counsel, has taken issue with this particular search warrant for being a highly untargeted demand that chills free association and the right of free speech afforded by the Constitution.

The request from the DOJ demands that DreamHost hand over 1.3 million visitor IP addresses — in addition to contact information, email content, and photos of thousands of people — in an effort to determine who simply visited the website. (Our customer has also been notified of the pending warrant on the account.)

That information could be used to identify any individuals who used this site to exercise and express political speech protected under the Constitution’s First Amendment. That should be enough to set alarm bells off in anyone’s mind.

I’m pretty sure I’d be on the opposite side of the fence from the site’s operators and most of its users. But that doesn’t matter. This does:

The internet was founded — and continues to survive, in the main — on its democratizing ability to facilitate a free exchange of ideas. Internet users have a reasonable expectation that they will not get swept up in criminal investigations simply by exercising their right to political speech against the government.

We intend to take whatever steps are necessary to support and shield these users from what is, in our view, a very unfocused search and an unlawful request for their personal information.

The DOJ has appealed to the D. C. Superior Court for an order to force DreamHost to turn over all this data; DreamHost has filed arguments in opposition, and a hearing will be held Friday.

Addendum: DreamHost co-founder Dallas Kashuba is interviewed on NPR’s All Things Considered.

Update, 17 August: The hearing has been moved to the 24th. It is open to the public.

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Verifying the conspiracy

Only just started last night:

Twitter blocks a tweet critical of Google

Twitter, like Google, evidently has no use for that “Don’t be evil” crap.

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A bookmark for retainer

This is billed as “The World’s First Robot Lawyer”:

And here’s the guy who came up with the idea:

How this came about, by Glenn “Instapundit” Reynolds:

A lawyerbot called Do Not Pay helps people contest parking tickets. In London and New York, it helped people overturn 160,000 tickets in its first 21 months. Its creator, 19-year-old London-born Stanford student Joshua Browder observed: “I think the people getting parking tickets are the most vulnerable in society. These people aren’t looking to break the law. I think they’re being exploited as a revenue source by the local government.”

There’s not much doubt about that. Local governments pretend it’s about safety, but use traffic fines for revenue. Those fines fall hardest on poor people, for whom a $150 fine is a financial disaster and for whom an appearance in court is frightening and awkward. Often, a few citations, with interest and penalties accruing, can be the beginning of a downward spiral leading to bankruptcy or jail.

This, of course, validates the observation by Derek Bok:

“There is far too much law for those who can afford it and far too little for those who cannot.”

Amen to that.

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)

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Dripping with adolescent angst

This is what happens when you have more technical skills than social skills, but not a hell of a lot of either:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: How can I retrieve an instagram dm conversation I SWIPE deleted - read desc?

And he thought he was so damn clever, too:

I really need to retrieve it so I can unsend some stuff. I swiped deleted the conversation and then realized it won’t delete on there end. I tried searching their name to get the conversation back and it didn’t work. how can I get the conversation now?! I need to unsave stuff. when I started a new conversation with that person everything was gone. I just need to clear our conversation on her end and mine. she’s inactive but stuff is going to happen so I need to clear it. HELP

Sorry, Charlie. Life doesn’t give you do-overs. It’s probably just as well you learn that now and get it over with.

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It speaketh, yet it understandeth not

The National Weather Service runs a network of FM radio stations, about a thousand of them, in the general vicinity of 162.475 MHz. Most of them are totally automated, with a computerized voice “reading” the scripts. Some of them sound better than others. One we had here for a while has intonation not unlike Arnold Schwarzegger’s, and “Arnold” is occasionally still pressed into service when the “regular” voice, which wouldn’t sound entirely out of place on NPR, isn’t working correctly. There is one ongoing problem with the “regular” voice, though: it can’t distinguish between “winds,” what the guy does with his wrist watch now and then, and “winds,” which will blow over your rubbish bin at 60 miles per hour. The former word, of course, is unlikely to be part of a weather forecast, but it will show up more often than you’d think.

Which is not to say that automated voices not run by the government are any better. This standard-issue heartwarming story turned up on YouTube with a fake female voice:

The text appears to be identical to what’s here, though the fake female is evidently baffled by the call letters of that Houston television station: she renders “KHOU” as “coo.” And her keeper isn’t the most articulate, either:

I make story videos, everytime and everywhere. Subscribe this channel for new stories :)

Fourteen thousand subscribers in less than a year. Evidently some people are a lot less bothered by this than I am.

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Rectangular banshee

About 10:30 Thursday night, my Uninterruptible Power Supply suffered an interruption, and it announced that incident with some of the most godawful noises on earth that didn’t actually involve injured elephants. “Replace battery,” the blinking red light demanded.

There are eight outlets on this UPS, but only five were in use. Now: what do I have that will give me five outlets late at night?

The answer is PowerSquid. Doesn’t actually have surge protection in this model, but I can shop for that later.

And as I got the last device connected, the Oklahoma City Dodgers game (KGHM radio) went weirdly silent. And no, the radio is on a wholly different circuit.

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From the Tumblr Terms of Service:

No individual under the age of thirteen (13) may use the Services, provide any personal information to Tumblr, or otherwise submit personal information through the Services (including, for example, a name, address, telephone number, or email address). You may only use the Services if you can form a binding contract with Tumblr and are not legally prohibited from using the Services.

A binding contract? A lot to expect from a 13-year-old.

In slightly smaller print, on a slightly darker background:

You have to be at least 13 years old to use Tumblr. We’re serious: it’s a hard rule, based on U.S. federal and state legislation. “But I’m, like, 12.9 years old!” you plead. Nope, sorry. If you’re younger than 13, don’t use Tumblr. Ask your parents for a Playstation 4, or try books.

So there.

Comments off

Buy for me the reign

There is no shortage of mountebanks who offer to make you a veritable king in the land of Google. This one hit the spam trap t’other day, and spilled rather a lot of beans:

LinkLifting isn’t your typical Web optimization software program. In actual fact, it isn’t software program in any respect. As a substitute, LinkLifting is a completely managed service carried out by our crew of skilled Website positioning professionals, all of whom have in depth expertise working with small companies and massive manufacturers alike.

Here’s how LinkLifting works. All you’ll want to do is enter your web site and goal Web optimization key phrases or phrases within the kind above. Our system will routinely recommend probably the most related pages of your web site for promotion, in addition to recommending a month-to-month funds to realize your outcomes.

On daily basis, our crew will scan out huge database of tens of hundreds of top of the range donor web sites to seek out efficient backlinking alternatives. As quickly as we discover a match on your webpage, we’ll add a robust, extremely related backlink pointing straight to your goal web page.

There’s no want so that you can ship e mail after e mail to webpage house owners and bloggers

There’s no have to pay an Search engine marketing company enormous charges for a fraction of the outcomes

There’s no want to fret about your web site by no means transferring up within the rankings

There’s no farking command of the English language. And these people want to run database searches for you? They couldn’t find a fart in the restroom of a Taco Bell.

As a substitute of spending your money and time on Search engine optimization methods that don’t ship outcomes, you earn nice hyperlinks from extremely related web sites at a fraction of the associated fee you’d pay an Search engine optimization company for decrease high quality, much less related hyperlinks.

High quality backlinks are the singular most essential component for profitable Search engine marketing. Regardless of how nice your on-web page content material is perhaps, with out nice backlinks, it’s by no means going to rank for extremely aggressive, beneficial search key phrases that may generate leads and gross sales for your small business.

Our hyperlink constructing service takes the effort and time out of constructing hyperlinks to your webpage, letting you spend your time working your small business as a substitute of constructing hyperlinks manually. Simply create a LinkLifting process, set your price range and watch as we report each day in your website’s Search engine optimisation progress.

This drivel was linked to someone’s Fiverr page, which can mean only one of one thing: some shlub is getting paid a pittance to spam it all over the universe. If you see it, be sure to delete it if you can, and laugh at it if you can’t.

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A big machine in the sky

Email yesterday brought this blatant pitch:

I just finished going through your article here:
Thanks for the resource!

All 1200 (since 2006) articles? Wow. But I know better than that.

My colleague Ritika recently put together a pretty comprehensive piece on web hosting. There is a ton of information out there; our guide was designed to cut through the noise a bit.

The post is here:

Would you consider linking to it in the article of yours I mentioned above? I saw you linked to in there, so I figured I’d see if you’d link to mine as well. Perhaps your visitors find it helpful, but hey, it’s up to you.

Well, yeah, since I write those guys a check every year to keep this place running.

That said, though, I did read the article in question, and it’s actually a pretty decent overview of the state of the affordable Web-hosting art — through its fall-2016 publication date, anyway — which justifies giving them a link.

As for “colleague Ritika,” she won me over with this observation of hers on her own site:

Sunflowers are to Van Gogh what romantic comedies are to Hugh Grant. There are other artists who have done the same thing, but it just doesn’t look quite right.

Heck of an opening. Of course, if you’re supporting yourself with your writing, you need a heck of an opening just about every single time.

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No place for a MAC address

And that place is on a coffeemaker:

The important thing here is, that no computers that are infected are connected to the internal network. So they don’t instantly get infected again after reimaging.

Everything is going well, all the computers are re-imaged and the monitoring system is back up and running. I’m about to close this case when one by one they start getting infected again. Which should be impossible, because the PLC’s cannot be infected by this malware, and the monitoring system consists of 4 computers and he re-imaged them all.

So at this point, the operator mentions that he could really use some coffee. So I tell him it’s ok for him to get some coffee while I try to figure out why these computers keep getting reinfected. Only then he tells me, he wasn’t able to get coffee, because all the coffee machines were showing the same ransomware attack message.

So long story short, the coffee machines are supposed to be connected to their own isolated WiFi network, however, the person installing the coffee machine connected the machine to the Internal control room network, and then when he didn’t get internet access remembered to also connect it to the isolated WiFi network. The operator contacted us about his monitoring system not working but forgot to mention the coffee machines were showing the same error.

The external company responsible for managing our coffee machine got an angrily worded letter for getting all those machines infected, and all their clients were without working coffee machines for a couple of days.

Coffee is too important to entrust to a network.

(Via @InternetofShit.)

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A site even older than mine

By not quite a year, in fact.

Today, it’s “You’re kidding. They sell books too?”

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The fastest man alive

Oh, I’m sure he can be beaten in the 100-yard dash by any number of folks, but I must praise this guy for being attentive to his customers.

Every post that comes out of here also comes with a tweet beginning with the phrase “Newly posted.” This process is automated by a plugin called WP to Twitter. I find the process sufficiently arcane that I felt I’d be better off not debugging things myself, and so I signed up for the Pro version, which costs some money but will presumably get the attention of the programmer.

At 3:00 Saturday I turned in a trouble ticket: at some point the Pro functions had been disabled, perhaps because I’d done something dumb, and could you please help?

At 3:02 his autoresponder, well, autoresponded.

At 3:12 he answered back with the solution. Turned out it was at his end: he’d released an updated version, albeit with something awry. He noticed it quickly enough, but anyone who’d downloaded the update during that brief period got the bad package. “Just download a fresh copy and install,” he said, and that was the end of that.

Our hero here is Joe Dolson of Accessible Web Design. He has several plugins besides this one. I’d recommend anything he does.

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Rather familiar

Nawaz Sharif has served as the 12th, 14th, and (currently) 20th Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. We may assume that he don’t like this:

The Panama Papers — a collection of documents leaked from off-shore law firm Mossack Fonseca in 2014 — included documents that appeared to indicate that Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had accumulated a substantial fortune far beyond what he and his family legitimately earned. The Pakistani Supreme Court set up a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to determine where the money came from. Sharif produced documents to show that the money had been legitimately acquired, but the authenticity of those documents was in question. Daughter Maryam Sharif appeared to have signed forged documents to try to cover up the truth.

And how was the truth of the matter ascertained?

How was the forgery detected? A document purporting to have been written and signed in 2006 used Microsoft’s Calibri font. While Calibri was originally designed in 2004 and was available in betas of Windows Vista and Office 2007 throughout 2006, it didn’t actually ship in a stable version of Windows or Office until 2007. As such, its use in a document dated 2006 is extremely suspect. It’s not impossible that, for some reason, beta software was used to prepare the documents. But it is more than a little unlikely.

At least no one’s claiming they were done on an IBM Selectric.

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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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