Showing posts with label Observation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Observation. Show all posts

Friday, November 17, 2017

Sell-out? Pragmatist?

So, am I a sell-out or just a pragmatist?

Long ago, nearly ten years before Linux was released, I enjoyed the simple, no-nonsense, high-performance properties of the UNIX/Linux culture.  The belief that a tool should only be as complicated as required by the task and no more, truly resonated in my young mind.  Being a down-home, poor farm boy, I had very little appreciation for "bells and whistles".  And, as such, over the years I have enjoyed Linux.

Unfortunately my inner pragmatist needs to come out of the closet.  Why?  There are two hobbies that I would like to enjoy more fully: photography & ham radio.  Certainly there are great programs that run in Linux for both hobbies.  Unfortunately, aside from a few exceptions, I must admit, the better applications run under Windows.

Still on the fence, I evaluated my complete set of needs.  Certainly, programs running on Linux could support my basic list of user requirements.  There are some ham radio programs out there.  There are some great photo utilities like RawTherapee and ImageMagick on Linux.  Still walking that fence.

But there is one additional requirement...  I want to spend some time honing my C# and .NET skills.  Sure there is MONO on Linux; spending an afternoon with MonoDevelop and MONO pushed me in a different direction.  There is no way I could hone my C# skills using MONO.

So...  I re-evaluated...  Sure, Linux has RawTherapee, but Windows has ACDsee, the Canon DPP and a host of other photo management and manipulation programs.

Certainly, there are some great programs under Linux for amateur radio, but I want to get back into PSK31 and maybe SSTV and HSCW.  The programs in Windows are far more flexible than those for Linux IMHO.  And, honestly, there are no decent, up-to-date logging programs for Linux.  Certainly there are some ham radio logging programs for Linux but they don't meet my requirements.

And so...  I made a change.  Earlier this week I backed up my Linux machine and installed Windows 10.

Honestly, it has issues that I will write about later, but I am not ashamed.  Already I have ACDsee Studio running for photo management and DPP & RawTherapee installed for image development and manipulation.  OpenOffice runs well and I have Microsoft VisualStudio 2015 installed for programming and honing my C# skills.

No, I am not a sell-out.  I am a pragmatist.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Google, where for art thou?

So, Google...  Why aren't you indexing my blog?

I see traffic from your spider (or crawler or whatever you young folks call them...), but when I google specific, uniquely identifiable strings in my posts, the results don't show my blog.

Sure, Google shows my different index tags and in general shows the blog but not the specific posts.  I remember running Razor's Edge and To Farm Again, and firmly believe every post was indexed.  Nearly a decade ago I ran a website that indexed terrestrial radio stations that streamed online... I received more traffic on that website in a week than I have ever received on this blog.  Why? 

I have a Privacy Policy...  I don't post lewd, titillating or illegal content...  Why, oh why????

After some reading, a few things have come to my attention...  1) I do not post here regularly.  2) People don't know about this blog and therefore don't link to my content.  3) I don't attempt to push SEO.  4) Perhaps this blog doesn't have as much focus as it should.

So...  Maybe I shall start posting more frequently, try getting some publicity, read some things about SEO and focus my posts a little more.

Or maybe not...  Hey, I did make a whole $100 from Google over the course of five years on those other blogs and really wasn't tying to drive traffic.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

My Brain

From time to time my brain does a self review of interests and projects, some inactive, some abandoned, some retired and yes, some still active.  Over the last several decades this list has grown quite a bit.  Unfortunately I tend to abandon interests rather than retire them.  It's like an operating system running a bunch of programs.  Retiring a program means shutting it down and performing garbage collection, releasing it's resources for other things to use.  Retired projects will likely never be restarted.  Abandoning a project means leaving its image in memory and only releasing any reserved CPU time.  There is a slim possibility abandoned projects could be restarted.

So...  Here is my periodic list of interests and projects in no particular order...

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

All the Data Bloat

A little foreward...  This is not a 'bitch' post, it is merely a set of observations.  If anyone takes offense, perhaps they should be reviewing how they code and store data.

96 bytes.  That's all I need.  This specific information I want for the next three days and nights can be represented in 96 bytes.  Could someone please answer this question?  Why are these 96 bytes wrapped in 144,383 bytes of HTML, JavaScript and CSS?  Additionaly, this doesn't count the over 20,000,000 bytes for images.

Let's factor in transfer and render time.  A transfer of 96 bytes, with its necessary TCP/IP communications protocol overhead, is quite fast.  Even from Antarctica to here, a 96 byte transfer is VERY quick.

Rendering what this 96 bytes represents is equally quick.  Rendering a 20,000,000 byte page in a browser requires decrypting stuff and processing CSS layout information and running JavaScript code and converting images into bitmaps for display and handling any necessary animated graphics.  My particular computer at this time, an eight core AMD Vishera FX CPU, 16 GB RAM and 15MBs internet connection requires maybe 5 seconds to retrieve this page and display its graphical representation.

96 bytes?  Nearly instantaneous.

What do these 96 bytes represent?  It is the current local weather conditions, and the forecast for tonight and the following three days and nights.  12 bytes for each day/night.
Precipitation Percent: one byte
Sky Conditions one byte
Weather Condition: one byte
Temperature: one word
Wind Speed: one byte
Barometer: float (four bytes)
Wind Direction; one byte
Visibility: one byte

Other things might be OK to add; perhaps humidity, barometric trend, watches and warnings, sunrise, sunset, moonrise and moonset.  Still, after adding these items, the 96 bytes would become a still slim 152 bytes.

My benchmark page, weighing in at a hefty 20MB is here:  New Boston, Illinois Wunderground

Rather than slim and narrow, wide is apparently a 'thing'.  Are all the additional abstraction layers and frameworks and graphics and tracking completely necessary???

Please...   Think about slimming the data when working on your next project.

Remember, the old maxim 'Less is More'  holds especially true in the world of computer programming.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Too Much Codez!!! WHY?!?!?

Why must some programmers place as much code into a single file as they can?  Seriously?  Is this some sort of challenge?  Is there some advantage unknown to me by shoving all of a program's code into a single file?

Really, I am not a huge fan of the MVC pattern.  It places, sometimes, arbitrary guidelines regarding what should be placed in the Model, the View and the Controller.  However, it is better that the SEIOF pattern!  (Shovel Everything Into One File)

In my opinion, a logical separation of interests is best and basic.  One file for the GUI, one or more files for the application or business logic and one or more containing global types, classes, utility code, etc...

Placing all that into one large bucket can be confusing.  Please...  If you are a programmer, please, please separate your code a little bit.  Help save the next programmer's sanity.

Oh...  And those long methods/functions/procedures...  While in college I was taught that a method, function, procedure, subroutine, what-have-you, should be less than a page of printed code.  While that isn't always possible, it is still a guideline that I try to observe, and firmly believe other programmers should as well.

Happy Friday!!!

Monday, May 29, 2017

WeatherUnderground Is Selling WHAT???

So there I am, innocently checking the forecast for today on wunderground, when what to my wondering eyes does appear?  BOOBS!  BREASTS!  HOOTERS!  (etc... etc..)  YES!  What has happened???  I wanted to know if our local lake would have weather agreeable to walking along the beach this afternoon and, while my primary goal was achieved, I also experienced an eyeful.

The advertisement on their page was not selling pornography, please don't think that; this advertisement was selling clothing.  Specifically, high-end blouses that are quite see-through!  I'm not a prude by any means, but is this a website that should include this sort of advertisement?

Deep in their Terms Of Service, there are references to 'Network Advertising Initiative" and "behavioral advertising" and the "Digital Advertising Alliance."  My reading of their many pages on privacy and data collection and cookies brought my fuzzy mind to one conclusion: they don't care much and leave it up to the users to either accept it, use some sort of tool to opt-out of certain advertisement programs, use an ad-blocker or use another weather website.

Honestly, there is NO reason any advertising algorithm would accurately believe I might be interested in seeing overpriced see-through blouses.

Is this a matter of corporate greed or desperation for a few more pennies of advertising income?  Is this a failure of AI and/or "behavioral advertising" code?  What worries me about this is, what if a precocious five year old used his mom's computer to check the weather and saw...  BOOBS???  At least PG-13 boobs.  When I was a kid, these might even verge on the edge of a "Rated R" evaluation.

Continue reading for screen shots.  Fair warning...  these are likely not safe for work.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Anyone Else Tired???

So, this is my "on-call week" for week.  That means I need to be available constantly from 8AM Monday through 8AM on the next Monday to fix things at work.  Usually not much breaks; us programmers don't like to piss-off the other programmers when they are on-call by writing shit code.  And...  none of us want to get 'the call' from any of our bosses.  Seriously, we are all professional and most of us have worked where I am employed for the last fifteen years.  Personally, I am at nineteen years later this year.

Anyway, being on-call occasionally requires waking up at any hour of the night to fix something that is broken.  Two nights ago something little broke at about 5AM.  It was a simple repair but I couldn't go back to sleep.  Last night I had trouble falling asleep and this morning had to wake up at 4AM to assist with a software roll-out.

I'm tired.

Over the years I have created a list of activities that are verboten on days such as these.  This list includes: buying things online; bidding on items in online auctions; signing anything important; investing; handling power tools; motorcycle riding (or bicycle riding for that matter); boating; building bon-fires and working on the household electrical system.

This morning I added another item to my list of verboten activities...  updating computer operating systems.

I foolishly thought updating my Debian Linux machine would be a no-brainer...  Log on as root and apt-get update and then apt-get upgrade.  Several packages did indeed update.  Even saw a few comments about a kernel upgrade.  No biggie.  I just sat back, focusing on my coffee and the software rollout, allowing the upgrade to continue.

Coffee break.  I check the upgrade and YEA, it is complete.  I then start  my backup script; just a mount and then a call to unison.   BBBZZZTTTTTT!!!!!!!  I see an error...

mount error: cifs filesystem not supported by the system

You see...  I have a Verbatim NAS I use as a hot backup for all my PCs.  My Linux backup script simply uses mount to connect to the NAS and unison to perform the backup.  After the update/install it was just not going to work!  I scrambled...  My Windows machines could connect to the NAS.  My other Linux computers could connect as well.  I was pissed.  I searched and poked and tried different things for hours.

Then...  after several coffee's and a few ef-bombs, something occurred to me...  I hadn't rebooted the machine.  Shit!  I rebooted and SHAZAM, all is good in my Debian Linux world.  Nap time... that's allowed.

Friday, February 3, 2017

What to do with all that speed???

So, computers based on quantum physics are already being planned, designed and in some cases even being created.  The electronics used in quantum computing do not rely on relatively slow semiconductors; they use near instantaneous quantum technology.  No, I don't know the details, but I do know that once some developers get access, there will be abstractions upon abstractions upon abstractions built, to the point where a quantum computer will perform about as well as a 80386 running OS/2.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Simple Is Still Simple

Yes, contrary to the conventional state of technology and computer programming, simple is still simple.  Well, at least it should be.

Quite frequently I read different articles about programming in an attempt to maintain professional relevance.   Some are well written articles on good programming techniques.  Some are poorly written but the core material is still good.  Some are well written pieces about some fluff fad and then there are occasionally the poorly written article about some programming technique or library or concept  that has 'bad idea' written all over it.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Solution to DDOS Attacks from the IoT

Last Friday, October 21st, the company DYN was the recipient of a rather massive DDOS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack.  Companies and tinkerers won't like this simple solution because it causes them to do a little extra work.  If this potential solution doesn't solve the problem, it would certainly mitigate it.

It's simple.  For those old enough to recall free AOL disks, remember how many included an account password printed on the CD/disk case?  Well, the same thing could be done for IoT devices.  Manufacturers of these things could simply print two random English words on a label and stick it on the IoT Device.  This password is burnt into the device as its factory default.  There is no standard factory default.  Let's face it...  The bulk of people using and installing IoT devices either don't know there is a password on their new-fangled refrigerator, or they just don't care to change it.



These passwords would be so much better than admin or system or the ever-popular password.

Friday, August 26, 2016

"We WANT to Protect You..."

Imagine this, if you will...

Your daughter and yourself own and operate a small jewelry repair and gift shop in an old brick building on a busy old street.  Most of the business have been there for decades.  There's the deli and coffee shop, and the used book and curio shop, and the pharmacy, and the motorcycle repair and accessory shop, and the sporting goods store, and the small bank branch on the corner.  The town has a bustling core of tourist traffic that supplies ample amount of financial support.  This tourist business is solid but does cause a few issues with fraudulent credit cards and so forth.  The merchants do what they can but accept this as a typical danger of being in business.

You notice one day, some merchants are installing these new loss-prevention machines that really seem to be stopping all credit card fraud.  Unfortunately they are hesitant to discuss the details and are somewhat unhappy, saying foot traffic is down significantly even though the number of tourists in town is increasing.

One day a couple of fellows come into your store and offer this new system to you.  They offer to place a detector and door lock on your front door free of charge.  All they ask is that all purchase transactions you make go through them, 'for security purposes.'  They will hold all money for three days in their bank account for transaction validation, then release the funds to your bank account.

Here's the big catch...  only people who have registered with their service can enter your store.  Sure, they can look in your window, and if they ask, you can let them in if they haven't registered, but they don't recommend it.

"Everyone else on your street are using our system and LOVE it!  No one has had a fraudulent purchase since our systems have been installed," they say.  You tell them you will think about it.  They give you their card and leave.

One month later you are balancing your books and realize fraud is up by 20%!  Generally foot traffic and cash flow has increased but not enough to cover the new fraud.  You call the two fellows selling the anti-fraud solution and have it installed.

That's what seems to be happening to E-Bay.  Buyers can look at the items but unless they are PayPal users with validated accounts or addresses or whatever, they can't even put a bid on items.  You aren't a PayPal customer, you are shit-outta-luck.

That's how it works...  There's fraud happening so E-Bay offers this great service to a few merchants.  It's a little shady and locks the buyer base but it works.  As more and more merchants use this service, fraud becomes focused on those merchants who don't use it.  So, those merchants are pressured into using the service for 'protection'.

Here's what I did.  Yesterday I browsed E-Bay looking for deals on used lenses for my Canon Rebel.  BINGO, I find a lens and try to put in a bid.  I don't use PayPal so...  BZZZZTTTTT...  I can't even enter a bid.  I try entering a bid for another lens.  BZZZZTTTTT... same thing.  Another?  Same thing.


Here's what will probably happen in the future...  Customers will not like this requirement to be 'verified'...  Foot traffic in E-Bay will start declining...  E-bay will need to change their validation.

Just my half-asleep $0.02 worth.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Just a Little Old

So, using a five year old PC is 'sad,' eh?  According to Apple's Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, Phil Schiller, about 600 million people are using PCs that are over five years old... "This is really sad."

Sad, eh?  A computer is a tool.  If that tool suits the user's need, why change?  Ya, I am a high-tech, hip, cool, well-informed geek of fifty years old but have been using the least expensive cell phones on the least expensive plans I could find; that is, until two years ago.  That was when we moved out to our little rural house on the lake, with barely any cell signal.  That was also when my personal interests turned to landscape and documentary photography.  My main camera, a Canon EOS Rebel T3i doesn't support geo-tagging, so I specifically bought a phone that had good RF power, supported geo-tagging photos and was on a carrier with proven coverage in our rural little hideaway.

And...  after 35 years of using computer screens, my eyes tend to strain with small screens, so I opted to get a 'new & improved' Android cell phone with larger screen.  And, I am happy I did.

In my garage there exists a hammer; a tool.  It is likely 20 years old.  It fits my key requirements: hammer a nail while allowing my hands to grip it properly and not cause undue strain on my wrists.  Why would I want to purchase a new tool if this one works?

My philosophy of PC upgrades is the same...  If the PC fits the requirement, why upgrade?  Only this year did my little HP Mini-110 stop working.  I didn't upgrade because it suited a certain purpose: small size, fully functional for web browsing, would run a word processor and was incredibly easy to throw in my motorcycle's saddle bag or car's trunk when going somewhere.  It was six years old this year.

We have a six year old desktop running as a media machine - it plays DVDs, streams video and music, and functions as a data-backup computer for the other PCs in the house.  Ya, it's six years old but why change???  It works fine!  A newer computer would offer nothing more given these required functions.

I have an old HP desktop from the early 2000's running Debian Linux.  That old fella is used for things like learning C++, ImageMagick and Python and experimenting with the wild side of Linux's low performance world.  It is perfect.

Why is the action of not upgrading a computer more than five years old "...really sad?"  Simple...  The person who make that statement receives a paycheck at least partially based on people upgrading more frequently than every five years, whether they need it or not.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Da' Truth!!!

So, there I am; innocently driving our ferret back from a veterinarian visit when what in my wondering ears should echo???  The ranting, irritating, disingenuous voice of Sean Hannity on our local AM radio station.

Now, I am neither liberal or conservative; neither republican or democrat.  I am a proud independent.  That stated, never have I listened to the Sean Hannity show when something was said that didn't make me giggle because of...  well...  Here's what I heard on the trip home from the vet...

Sean is ranting about how President Obama and Hillary Clinton were both "friends" with the Reverend Al Sharpton;  how Reverend Sharpton is a rabel-rouser, a firebrand, an agitator.  Those things, I just don't know and honestly don't really care.

Here is what made me LOL...  One of the voice tag lines for the show had something to do with the "Truth";  something like "Only the Truth!" or something like that.  OK...  Still don't care...  but then the LOL hit.  According to Mr. Hannity, the President and Ms. Clinton both "Kiss Al Sharpton's Ring."  Really?  I mean, did they kneel?  Were they all sitting?  Did they bow?  Was it one-on-one or a threesome?

Mr Hannity???  Pictures?  "Only the Truth" but you say they kissed his ring?  Do you have a reference for this?  Can you prove they kissed his ring???

Years ago these type of radio shows irritated me.  Now they simply provide my inner child with comic relief.  Keep talking!!!  I need the laughs!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

More than 110M People have already upgraded...

WOW!!!  According to the "ad-ware" pop-up message that seems to appear more and more frequently on my computers, more than 110 million people have upgraded to Windows 10...  and for FREE, none the less!!!

Did they do it on purpose?  Or...  did these people really look at what they were getting?

On a slight tangent...  Apparently in recent history an incorrect assumption was made somewhere in my cerebral cortex...  I assumed Windows was NOT "ad-ware".  I thought this was commercial software that was to be free from advertisements.  Oh, sure...  This COULD be construed as simply being a somewhat irritating upgrade message.  More that somewhat irritating at times perhaps.

And why would the tagline "More than 110 M people have already upgraded..." be a motivating factor for myself, a computing professional, to switch operating systems?  I am a critical thinker (most of the time),  and, as I get older, am gaining a slight disdain for rapid change.  Not long ago Windows XP was phased out.  Now...  I am being brow-beaten to upgrade my Windows 7 machines to Windows 10?

Seriously, 110 million people...  Let me see...

  • According to the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, about 1.1 billion people smoke cigarettes.
  • According to the Huffington Post, 70% of all men in the US, and 30% of all Women watch pornography.  That calculates to about 153 million people in the US.
  • According to, there have been 700 million iPhones sold throughout the world.

No...  Number one, I am not going to take up smoking; Number two, porn is boring and I get more action that I can handle from my better half; and Number three, I like my Android phone.

And...  No, I am not upgrading to Windows 10 until I absolutely MUST.  Now...  Buzz Off, Microsoft!

**Microsoft, Windows, iPhone (etc...) are all owned by their respective owners...  I don't want them.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Goodbye Facebook

Yup...  See ya later.  Apparently the fine folks at the world's most prominent social media site don't believe I am who I say I am.  Fifteen years ago, if Facebook was around, I wouldn't have blamed them one bit for being a bit suspiscious; but now???  I am ME...  really!

But not according to Facebook.  Here's what their little help page shows me...

Why was my account disabled?

Your account was disabled for violating the Facebook Terms.

Our Policies

  • Your account must list your authentic name.
  • Personal accounts must represent individual people only. It's a violation of our policies to use a personal profile to represent anything other than yourself (ex: celebrities, pets, ideas, objects, etc.).
  • Impersonating anyone or anything is not allowed.
  • Maintaining multiple accounts is a violation of our policies.
  • Accounts created for the purpose of spamming or harassing others are strictly prohibited.
(The above is from the page at
Well... My name on Facebook was not EXACTLY my authentic name but close.  I mean, really...  how many people use their 'authentic name' on most internet sites?  Are they saying a person with a name like 'Josephina Hope-Rosetta Kellerman-Patrinskia' must use that exact name on Facebook?  Wouldn't 'Jose Kellerman' work just as fine, so long as the person isn't trying to be deceptive?

"Personal accounts must represent individual people," they state.  What about this profile?

My only activities over the last year have included interacting with my daughters and one or two friends.  How often?  Hell, I only logged onto Facebook maybe once a week.  Real life is where the fun is happening!

At any rate, now the fine folks at Facebook, according to the information at ( want me to scan and upload a government ID that contains my name and date of birth or name and a photo, or two non-governmental IDs that contain my name and date of birth or name and a photo, or some combination of different IDs...  Honestly, I didn't read much past the first two options.

Sure, they do state that things like Social Security Numbers, credit card numbers, etc...  should be covered up, blurred or otherwise obscured.

Still...  Facebook...  You just aren't that important.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Basic Skills, Please People!


Programmers really should know the basics of a language and platform before coding something that is used in a production environment.  Knowing the cool tricks of a language is nice but not knowing how the basics work is just irritating.

Take for instance a little optimization I just finished...  A SQL query was returning about 800,000 rows where about 799,700 were duplicates.  Adding a distinct to the SQL made the page load about 80% faster.  Why did the programmer not use that distinct keyword???  Maybe because they didn't know the basics.  Maybe because the programmer was sloppy.  Maybe the programmer didn't completely understand what was requested.  Don't know.

Then, while looking at the rest of the code I saw several string arrays defined; arrays that, after populated, contained hundreds of items.  To build these arrays, Array.Resize was used to add items.  Now THAT just might be inefficient.  Array.Resize copies the entire array and adds another element.  The programmer probably should have used a List<> or some other dynamic structure.

Hmmm...  now I am curious...

Friday, July 10, 2015

Early Beer Friday

So, it's Friday...  How do you know this day is just right for an early beer?  Answer YES to more than three of these items and you just might want to crack open a cold one.

  1. Your daughter informs you that college shouldn't be so bad this semester...  $600 each month isn't bad, is it???
  2. Your neighbor is building a new back porch.  The contractors wake you at 5:30 AM with their power tools.
  3. You walk into the kitchen to make your coffee but fail to realize the dog spilled their entire food dish, efficiently distributing the entire contents across the kitchen floor.
  4. You wake up to find a hole in the back porch's screen and see all the house cats out roaming around in the back yard.
  5. You give more than ten minutes consideration to the possibility of building your own operating system, language, communications protocol, etc...
  6. You firmly think about changing professions; becoming a roadside mowing & snowplow driving person.
  7. You wonder why this month's family prescriptions cost nothing, then realizing you reached your family's out-of-pocket medical insurance maximum of over $10,000 and it's only July.
  8. You don't want to go outside, even if the weather is good, because putting on shoes and a hat requires too much effort.
  9. You leave your art piece on the easel overnight, only to find it perforated by cat claws the next morning.
  10. You find out that your boss is taking the next two weeks off, but then hear from the VP that she has 'just the perfect little project' for you to work on for the next three weeks.
  11. You had to interact with anyone from sales and/or marketing.
  12. You look in the refrigerator and giggle when you see that can of whipped cream you bought for 'happy-fun-time' with your special someone.  Then, you just hang your head and close the door after realizing you bought it three weeks ago and is still not open.
Ya...  Early beer day for me.

Thursday, July 9, 2015


Here's how it works...

  • The scammer looks at real estate websites for properties that are for sale.
  • They find a house with plenty of pictures online.  All of the photos and property info is downloaded.
  • Then they search online records and find the name of the current owner.
  • With that information they create a Craigs List (or other on-line service) rental advertisement, posting all the pictures and property information.  All communications with this scammer is through e-mail or a burner cell phone.  (In our case, the scammer was using a Phone/text/SMS anonymizer service.)
  • Requests to view the property by prospective tenants will result in a response like, "I am not available to show it to you, but there are workers there that will let you in."
  • When the tenant feels it is time to move to the next step and put down the deposit, the scammer will e-mail customized lease documents (from a junk Yahoo or GMAIL account).  At this point, the scammer may say there are others interested in the property and that the prospective tenant should hurry the remainder of the process.
  • The prospective tenant will be asked to sign and email the documents back as quickly as possible.
  • Then, the scammer will ask for the deposit and first month's rent up front through a wire transfer or Western Union.

And... **POOF**  The prospective tenant is out about $1000!

All of the above happened to my daughter, except for the last two items...  The lease agreement looked fishy and that is what made us stand back and say 'whoa!'  Fishy how, you ask?  Here's a list...

  1. The lease asked for the deposit and first month's rent by the end of the day, but keys would be exchanged at a later date.
  2. The legalese in the paperwork looked OK, but having signed several leases myself before, there seemed to be many parts missing...  like where to send the monthly payment, contact information for maintenance & service, an arbitration clause, references to other documents not included in the e-mails, etc...
  3. The person's email signature looked like it came from a valid company in Tyler, TX.  I looked up the company and they didn't have an office in Tyler.
  4. The lease agreement had the "landlord's" signature with a Texas notary stamp & notary signature.  BUT!!!  The notary stamp had no notary registration number.

SO, I looked up the previous real estate agent's MLS listing for the property and called her.  Sure enough, she had received several reports of possible rental scams on that specific property.

Then, I called the Texas Secretary of State's office and asked them to confirm the notary's name.  No confirmation - that person was not a notary, and they confirmed there should be a notary registration number in the stamp.

The scammer sent two documents; a welcome letter (.doc) and lease agreement (.pdf)  I scanned them for viruses and after being sure they were clean, opened them up to find a different name...   The DOCdocument was last modified by "Philip Ijem".  The PDF document was authored by "Philip Ijem".

Heck, we are probably lucky the police weren't called or we weren't shot at when we went to look at the property last Tuesday.

All of you looking for something to rent, BE CAREFUL!!!  Check, check & check again!!!

I hope "Philip Ijem" doesn't come face-to-face with my daughter in the next few days...  She is PISSED!!!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

8 Reasons for a New Operating System

Many years ago you could find me sitting in front of my computer wearing one of my well-worn Linux t-shirts or baseball caps, just programming my brains out, secretly wishing the universe of computers ran on one flavor of Linux or another.  Today, well, I am happy to simply have my Windows 7 machines humming along in front of me for at least a week without pause or crash.  Anyway...  over time I believe Linux has migrated from an OS that performed well & was fairly simple to install and operate, intended to make any computer geek giggle with delight, to something somewhat sloggy and overly complex that now give those same computer geeks headaches and the occasional nightmare.

Anyway, not that I have the technical ability in my current state, I would love to write a new operating system.  Why?  Here are eight reasons:

  1. Performance gains from increased hardware capabilities have been severely strangled by poorly performing code and the belief that the faster hardware will compensate for less than stellar code.  A new operating system should centrally focus on core performance at the expense of general purpose functionality.  
  2. Malware...  Viruses...  Keystroke Loggers... Spyware...  One of the key reasons this crap is proliferating is because we have the same-old operating systems and code and utilities.  A new operating system should have some basic security in mind when designing basic low-level functionality.  And, simply by nature, a new OS would be impervious to these nasties for a while.
  3. Current OSs are COMPLEX!!!  They try to be the do-all, know-all solution to everything.  Someone (or something) that tries to do everything will never do anything specific very well.  A new operating system should focus more on doing computery things, rather than everything under the sun.
  4. Developer environments and tools for Windows and Linux are fragmenting so badly, researching solutions and problems, depending on the situation, can be a near-futile exercise.  A new operating system could provide a new & clean slate.
  5. The windowing OS paradigm is dying.  Yes, I said it.  Don't get me wrong, the windowing paradigm will be around far longer than I.  However, it is my firm belief that virtual reality, tactile and audio human/computer interfacing will be the future.  A new operating system should have a low level text base interface for baseline operations, maintenance and debugging, and perhaps a windowing interface for coding, but should focus at these newer human/computer interfaces.  And, just as a note, all functions capable of being performed by the computer, should be allowed through the text interface.
  6. The Keep It Simple and Stupid concept has been, for the most part, thrown out by most modern operating systems and development tools.  A new operating system should embrace the KISS concept.
  7. Ever notice the slow access to directories with thousands of files?  OK, there may be solutions but it just peeves me off when I have 10,000 or 20,000 files in a directory and handling this many files is so slow (in both Windows and Linux) I can take an afternoon of coffee & smoke breaks.  A new operating system should minimally have the ability to support fast handling of large number of files.
  8. Provide a more rich computer eco-system.  Sometime I think Apple and Windows and Linux devs are getting lazy, just hunting for and polishing the low-hanging fruit.  A new operating system that performs well, has a vibrant development environment will place pressure on existing ecosystems and provide evolutionary pressure.
What are you waiting for???

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

A Little Nostalgia - And What the Hell Happened to Performance?

Right now I am sitting at a computer with 16GB of RAM, 500GB of SSD main storage and a 300GB 7000 RPM hard drive for data, all being controlled by an Intel Core i3-3240 CPU running Windows 7 Ultimate.  Not a blazing gaming machine but I can comfortably work all day and make a decent living.


As long as no update is processing or it doesn't attempt to digest a bad update or some mysterious internal process isn't sucking up resources like a sump pump in flood season.

Then, using this piece of hardware is not only a large pain in the ass, but sometimes causes days of poking and prodding to back-out an update that went wonky.

First I had the little Timex Sinclair ZX-81.  Great little machine with it's 2.25 MHz Z-80 processor and 32KB Ram.  Yes...  Kilo-Byte.  The OS was burnt onto ROM or EEPROM, so before the TV caught it's video sync, the thing was booted up.

On the down side, there were two computer languages (that I knew about anyway), a crappy version of BASIC and Z-80 assembler (that I never really got to work well).  OK...  This was not a shining piece of computer hardware, nor a fine example of performance...  but it did boot fast!

Then, my third machine...  A Commodore 128 - actually a Commodore C64 and Z-80 driven CP/M machine in one box.  Connect a hard drive and a modem and you could surf the world.  Oh, sure, the web was dominated by ARCHIE and GOPHER and FTP and simple E-Mail, but one could accomplish what one needed; and quickly as well.  I distinctly remember downloading a C compiler for CP/M and writing an IBM-370 assembler on that thing.

Maybe I am getting old, but I would REALLY rather have something that just worked than something glittery and new and expensive that is amazingly fast, so long as the CPU is clicking off NOPs.