Mark Turner : Multitasking Is Killing Your Brain |

February 06, 2016 02:01 AM

Sort of like dumping a lot of articles on one’s blog, eh? :-)

Our brains are designed to focus on one thing at a time, and bombarding them with information only slows them down.

MIT neuroscientist Earl Miller notes that our brains are “not wired to multitask well… when people think they’re multitasking, they’re actually just switching from one task to another very rapidly. And every time they do, there’s a cognitive cost.”This constant task-switching encourages bad brain habits. When we complete a tiny task (sending an email, answering a text message, posting a tweet), we are hit with a dollop of dopamine, our reward hormone. Our brains love that dopamine, and so we’re encouraged to keep switching between small mini-tasks that give us instant gratification.

This creates a dangerous feedback loop that makes us feel like we’re accomplishing a ton, when we’re really not doing much at all (or at least nothing requiring much critical thinking). In fact, some even refer to email/Twitter/Facebook-checking as a neural addiction.

Source: Multitasking Is Killing Your Brain |

Mark Turner : The millennial work ethic – Baltimore Sun

February 06, 2016 01:57 AM

Some of my older friend scoffed at this column, but any mocking comes at one’s own peril, because this is how it will soon be.

The bar has been raised. If you as an employer want to attract the best and the brightest of the millennial generation, you will have to treat your employees a bit better than you once did.

Once upon a time, employment was for life. Joining a company meant you were looked after until retirement and even beyond. Then companies found that having massive layoffs and gutting these generous employee benefits appealed to Wall Street. Generations of workers became expendable to employers and learned wisely. The game had changed and job security was redefined as “how quickly one can get another job.”

Now the pendulum swings in favor of the worker, particularly the knowledege workers building our digital economy. This generation is building our new economy and the opportunities ahead of them and the awe-inspiring imagination they bring are like no other. This generation is responsible for the dizzying, accelerating pace of change in our world. They will hold you to your promises. They won’t play by the old rules. They demand a better way and they have the hustle and moxie to get it.

Laugh now if you choose, but soon you’ll be living in their world. Employers who understand this will help build this world.

Dear Previous Employer,

You may think that you have gotten the best of me, but you have not. I am a millennial. You may think that you have put me in a bad spot, but you have not. I am a millennial. You may think that you can threaten me, but I am not afraid. I am a millennial.

I didn’t write this letter on a program that I installed with a disc on my computer, I wrote it on the cloud. I didn’t grow up hungry during the Great Depression, I grew up safe and comfortable. I didn’t walk to school uphill both ways, I took a bus.

Source: The millennial work ethic – Baltimore Sun

Mark Turner : Hillary Clinton is going to really regret saying these 4 words about Goldman Sachs – The Washington Post

February 06, 2016 01:22 AM

Hillary Clinton spent an hour talking to CNN’s Anderson Cooper and a handful of New Hampshire voters in a town hall on Wednesday night. For 59 minutes of it, she was excellent — empathetic, engaged and decidedly human. But, then there was that other minute — really just four words — that Clinton is likely to be haunted by for some time to come.

“That’s what they offered,” Clinton said in response to Cooper’s question about her decision to accept $675,000 in speaking fees from Goldman Sachs in the period between serving as secretary of state and her decision to formally enter the 2016 presidential race.

The line is, well, bad. More on that soon. But, the line when combined with her body language when she said it makes it politically awful for her.

Source: Hillary Clinton is going to really regret saying these 4 words about Goldman Sachs – The Washington Post

Mark Turner : Hillary Clinton’s Wildly Unrealistic Puppies and Rainbows Plan – MattBruenig | Politics

February 05, 2016 07:00 PM

Hillary Clinton’s supporters like to say that Bernie Sanders stands little chance of getting his initiatives through a Republican Congress. They overlook the fact that Clinton’s odds are just as dismal.

The funniest thing about pro-Hillary punditry is the claim that her proposals are achievable while Bernie Sanders’ proposals are not. This has been all over the punditry of late, especially in the oldsplaining get-off-my-lawn punditry aimed at the rude teens who support Sanders. For an example of it, look no further than the New York Times official endorsement:

In the end, though, Mr. Sanders does not have the breadth of experience or policy ideas that Mrs. Clinton offers. His boldest proposals — to break up the banks and to start all over on health care reform with a Medicare-for-all system — have earned him support among alienated middle-class voters and young people. But his plans for achieving them aren’t realistic, while Mrs. Clinton has very good, and achievable, proposals in both areas.

This is frankly insane. Hillary Clinton’s legislative agenda has a 0% chance of passing through the GOP-controlled Congress. None. Nothing. Zilch. This is true, not only because the GOP fundamentally disagrees with her proposals, but also, crucially, because the GOP pursues obstruction for its own sake. It has been very explicit about this. The GOP has (probably correctly) determined that helping a Democratic president pass things of note benefits the Democrats and hurts the Republicans.

Source: Hillary Clinton’s Wildly Unrealistic Puppies and Rainbows Plan – MattBruenig | Politics

Magnus Hedemark : I can quit any time I want to

February 05, 2016 05:48 AM

This single tweet has been my undoing.

Both pens have been on my radar for years, and because of the costs involved I’ve never really risked buying either one.

Now I have both.

And sure enough, both of them have been exquisite. They are my two favorite pens now out of what must be over two dozen (admittedly far less expensive fountain pens).

Both are going with me to my top secret writing location to work on “Two Seconds of Your Time”. I’ve been breaking them in and they are definitely up to the task.

Also, I’ve started reading Anansi Boys. Thanks again, Neil.

Mark Turner : Ubuntu upgrade kills network

February 05, 2016 02:26 AM

I recently applied some software updates to my Ubuntu 14.04 desktop. I noticed right after I did that that the NetworkManager applet disappeared, leaving my laptop unable to automatically connect to the network.

When I tried running nm-applet manually, I got this message:

(nm-applet:6238): nm-applet-WARNING **: Failed to register as an agent: (2) The name org.freedesktop.NetworkManager was not provided by any .service files

(nm-applet:6238): nm-applet-WARNING **: Failed to register as an agent: (2) The name org.freedesktop.NetworkManager was not provided by any .service files
^Cnm-applet-Message: PID 0 (we are 6238) sent signal 2, shutting down…

I know how to run

dhclient eth0

… and plug in an Ethernet cable to get back onto the network, so I did and then did some sleuthing. It turns out that I had the trusty/proposed repository enabled, and that a network-manager package in that repository has a bug. This resulted in the following error message when one tries to run NetworkManager manually:

root@savannah:/etc/init.d# NetworkManager

(NetworkManager:6288): GLib-WARNING **: GError set over the top of a previous GError or uninitialized memory.
This indicates a bug in someone’s code. You must ensure an error is NULL before it’s set.
The overwriting error message was: Key file does not have group ‘connectivity’

According to this bug report, the initial fix was to downgrade network-manager (according to this page). However, a fixed version of network-manager has since been placed in trusty/proposed. If you do

apt-get upgrade network-manager

… your Ubuntu system should fetch a working network-manager.

This is all just in case my fellow Linux geeks run into this same issue.

Mark Turner : Calling all Time Warner customers to unite against its dreadful customer service | News & Observer

February 04, 2016 02:15 PM

Former Raleigh City Councilor Barlow Herget wrote to the N&O about his abysmal recent experience at the Time Warner Cable office.

Mr. Herget asks if the City Council could change the law to go back to local control of cable TV franchises. Local control went out the window in 2005 when a group of “business-friendly” Democrats in the state legislature successfully passed the “state franchise for cable television” bill into law for their friends at Time Warner Cable. This stripped control of cable franchises from city and county governments and placed it in the hands of the state. It’s easier to pay off state leaderss rather than local leaders, it seems.

I predicted this would happen back in 2006 and time has proven me correct. I just wish I could’ve convinced more state legislators at the time.

I recently had the dreadful occasion to visit Time Warner’s office in Raleigh. We needed a “box” for a new television. It was a hot 95 degrees outside, and inside the Atlantic Avenue office, there were 35 to 40 people waiting, including one crying baby.

The room was the size of a typical school class. We took a number and asked how long we should expect to wait. Thirty minutes. We luckily found two chairs together and sat down.My fellow subscribers were lined along the walls, a few standing, more coming in. Mostly patient, the steam was starting to rise in some of these customers. There was an inane game show on a big screen TV that a few were watching.

One lady came in carrying a big box, saw the crowd and asked how long she had to wait. Told 30 minutes, she declared she was on her lunch break and, after waiting 10 minutes, departed, muttering, “Some people have to work for a living,”

Source: Calling all Time Warner customers to unite against its dreadful customer service | News & Observer

Mark Turner : What Would Sanders Do? An Analysis of His Proposals

February 04, 2016 01:10 AM

Senator Bernie Sanders has proposed an ambitious program of social reform, including regulatory changes to raise wages and protect workers’ rights, progressive tax reforms, and universal health insurance (Improved Medicare for All). Taken together, these policies would not only dramatically increase employment and national income, but would also raise wages, reduce poverty, and narrow the gap between rich and poor Americans.

Source: What Would Sanders Do? An Analysis of His Proposals

Warren Myers : dave winer is wrong

February 03, 2016 01:10 PM

Or maybe he’s right. But for the wrong reason.

Over on Medium, which is where I saw his post, Dave said:

“The problem of requiring HTTPs in less than 140 chars: 1.Few benefits for blog-like sites, and 2. The costs are prohibitive.

There’s actually a #3 (sorry) — 3. For sites where the owner is gone the costs are more than prohibitive. There’s no one to do the work.”

While this was more-or-less true-ish in times gone by, with the advent of truly-free SSL (and not merely the manual free edition you could get from StartSSL) from Let’s Encrypt (see my how-to), automated, hands-off maintenance of your SSL-iness is possible (and encouraged).

There are, potentially, good reasons for saying SSL won’t be required. But blaming costs, upkeep, and “few benefits” are not among them. If anything, SSL-ifying your blog will help with some (not all) attacks launched against self-hosted/-managed services where login data can be otherwise captured in plaintext.

Dave, I like you. But you’re wrong on this one.

Mark Turner : The Water Next Time: Professor Who Helped Expose Crisis in Flint Says Public Science Is Broken – The Chronicle of Higher Education

February 03, 2016 12:50 AM

When Marc Edwards opens his mouth, dangerous things come out.

Edwards, a professor of civil engineering at Virginia Tech, has been investigating dangerously high lead levels in the Flint, Mich., water supply. “The agencies paid to protect these people weren’t solving the problem,” he says. “They were the problem. What faculty person out there is going to take on” the government? In 2003 the Virginia Tech civil-engineering professor said that there was lead in the Washington, D.C., water supply, and that the city had been poisoning its residents. He was right.

Last fall he said there was lead in the water in Flint, Mich., despite the reassurances of state and local authorities that the water was safe. He was right about that, too.

Source: The Water Next Time: Professor Who Helped Expose Crisis in Flint Says Public Science Is Broken – The Chronicle of Higher Education

Mark Turner : The Case for Very Hot Water | Science News

February 03, 2016 12:48 AM

For years, conservation advocates have told consumers to turn down the thermostat on their hot-water heaters — largely to save energy, but also to avoid scalding showers and baths. At least for some people, however, this green tactic could prove dangerous, new studies indicate.

The number one cause of waterborne disease outbreaks in the United States,” says environmental engineer Marc Edwards, “is not contaminants leaving the water treatment plant (we do a good job of killing those). It’s the pathogens that grow in home water heaters.”

Source: The Case for Very Hot Water | Science News

Mark Turner : If You’re Liberal and You Think Hillary Clinton Is Corrupt and Untrustworthy, You’re Rewarding 25 Years of GOP Smears – The Daily Banter

February 02, 2016 05:31 PM

Bernie Sanders will never be president. Let’s just get that out of the way right now. He stands very little chance of pulling down the Democratic nomination and no chance at all of winning a general election. His rabid acolytes can argue with this all they want but they’ll be wrong for several inarguable reasons: because the “political revolution” Bernie Sanders needs to advance his campaign and agenda is pie-in-the-sky thinking that simply doesn’t occur in representative democracies like ours, where change always comes incrementally and our entire system is designed so it can’t be remade in one fell swoop; because he’s a one-note candidate who concerns himself with nothing other than his admittedly noble lifelong obsession with wealth inequality; because America isn’t evolved enough to elect an avowed socialist, democratic or otherwise, and it unfortunately won’t get near someone who openly eschews religion; and maybe most importantly because once the GOP considered Bernie a sworn enemy rather than the perfect foil it can use to destroy Hillary Clinton, it would eat him alive. Eat. Him. Alive.

Source: If You’re Liberal and You Think Hillary Clinton Is Corrupt and Untrustworthy, You’re Rewarding 25 Years of GOP Smears – The Daily Banter

Mark Turner : Hillary Clinton Is Not Telling The Truth About Wall Street

February 02, 2016 05:29 PM

Clinton’s attack on Sanders is as simple as it is untrue: Unlike Sanders, Clinton has argued, she is willing to take on “shadow banking” — a broad term for various financial activities that aren’t regulated as strictly as conventional lending.Sanders has in fact proposed attacking shadow banking in two principal ways: by breaking up big financial firms that engage in shadow banking, and by severing federal financial support for shadow banking activities by reinstating Glass-Steagall.

These would be substantive changes. A lot of shadow banking takes place at firms with traditional banking charters, like JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America. Some of it takes place at specialized hedge funds, or at major investment banks like Goldman Sachs. Breaking them up would not eliminate the risk shadow banking poses to the economy, but it would limit it. Risky shadow banking activities cannot bring down institutions that are too-big-to-fail if there are no too-big-to-fail institutions.

Yet the Clinton campaign has repeatedly said Sanders is wholly ignoring shadow banking, accusing Sanders of taking a “hands-off” approach to it that would not apply to firms like Lehman Brothers and AIG. This barrage has come from Clinton’s press aides, campaign CFO Gary Gensler, and Clinton surrogate Barney Frank.

Source: Hillary Clinton Is Not Telling The Truth About Wall Street

Mark Turner : Why Wall Street Loves Hillary – POLITICO Magazine

February 02, 2016 05:26 PM

According to a wide assortment of bankers and hedge-fund managers I spoke to for this article, Clinton’s rock-solid support on Wall Street is not anything that can be dislodged based on a few seemingly off-the-cuff comments in Boston calculated to protect her left flank. (For the record, she quickly walked them back, saying she had “short-handed” her comments about the failures of trickle-down economics by suggesting, absurdly, that corporations don’t create jobs.) “I think people are very excited about Hillary,” says one Wall Street investment professional with close ties to Washington. “Most people in New York on the finance side view her as being very pragmatic. I think they have confidence that she understands how things work and that she’s not a populist.”

Source: Why Wall Street Loves Hillary – POLITICO Magazine

Mark Turner : The Clintons Really Are Out Of Our League.

February 02, 2016 01:49 AM

A good look at Hillary and her penchant for carrying the water of the financial services and defense industries.

It is reasonable to infer from Head’s relatively straightforward article, which succeeds in collecting in one place a great deal of information that has been reported elsewhere, that anyone running against Hillary Clinton is also, in a manner of speaking, running against the richest and most powerful corporations in the world, the entire US defense and financial services industry, and even the interests of foreign billionaires and governments. The question is if she is elected, would ordinary Americans be competing against similar odds.

Source: The Clintons Really Are Out Of Our League.

Tarus Balog : Add a Weather Widget to OpenNMS Home Screen

February 01, 2016 09:29 PM

I was recently at a client site where I met a man named Jeremy Ford. He’s sharp as a knife and even though, at the time, he was new to OpenNMS, he had already hacked a few neat things into the system (open source FTW).

Weathermap on OpenNMS Home Page

One of those was the addition of a weathermap to the OpenNMS home page. He has graciously put the code up on Github.

The code is a script that will generate a JSP file in the OpenNMS “includes” directory. All you have to do then is to add a reference to it in the main index.jsp file.

For those of you who don’t know or who have never poked around, under the $OPENNMS_HOME directory should be a directory called jetty-webapps. That is the web root directory for the Jetty servlet container that ships with OpenNMS.

Under that directory you’ll find a subdirectory for opennms. When you surf to http://[my OpenNMS Server]:8980/opennms that is the directory you are visiting. In it is an index.jsp file that serves as the main page.

If you are familiar with HTML, the JSP file is very similar. It can contain references to Java code, but a lot of it is straight HTML. The file is kept simple on purpose, with each of the three columns on the main page indicated by comments. The part you will need to change is the third column:

<!-- Right Column -->
        <div class="col-md-3" id="index-contentright">
                <!-- weather box -->
                <jsp:include page="/includes/weather.jsp" flush="false" />

Feel free to look around. If you ever wanted to rearrange the OpenNMS Home page, this is a good place to start.

Now, I used to like poking around with these files since they would update automatically, but later versions of OpenNMS (which contain later versions of Jetty) seem to require a restart. If you get an error, restart OpenNMS and see if it goes away.

Now the weather.jsp file gets generated by Jeremy’s python script. In order to get that to work you’ll need to do two things. The most important is to get an API key from Weather Underground. It is a pretty easy process, but be aware that you can only do 500 queries a day without paying. The second thing you’ll need to do is edit the three URLs in the script and change the location. It is currently set to “CA/San_Francisco” but I was able to change it to “NC/Pittsboro” and it “just worked”.

Finally, you’ll need to set the script up to run via cron. I’m not sure how frequently Weather Underground updates the data, but a 10 minute interval seems to work well. That’s only 144 queries a day, so you could easily double it and still be within your limit.

[IMPORTANT UPDATE: Jeremy pointed out that the script actually does three queries, not just one, so instead of doing 144 queries a day, it’s 432. Still leaves some room with 10 minute queries but you don’t want to increase the frequency too much.]

Thanks to Jeremy for taking the time to share this. Remember, once you get it working, if you upgrade OpenNMS you’ll need to edit index.jsp and add it back, but that should be the only change needed.

Warren Myers : electric power at every wheel

February 01, 2016 01:07 PM

It seems odd to me that most, if not all, electric vehicles don’t put individual drive motors at each wheel.

It’d seem like doing so would be a more efficient transfer of energy from the electrical generation / storage system to propelling the vehicle than having centralized drives like IC-based cars.

Or maybe they do, and it just isn’t obvious?

Magnus Hedemark : Fountain Pen Addendum: Neil Gaiman made me do it

January 31, 2016 11:47 PM

In a recent blog, I shined a little bit of a light on something that I found both curious and validating. No, I’m not mad for wanting to try writing a serious literary work with a fountain pen. Neil Gaiman does it all the time. But that seed took root and bore sweet fruit.

The Pilot Custom 823 had been on my radar before, but like most other pens over $25, it wasn’t likely to happen. My cheap pens write pretty well. Some of them write very well. But I was indeed looking for a pen so comfortable that I could write with it all day without tiring, and with such a high ink capacity that filling it up at the beginning of the day would hold all the ink I could need no matter how much writing I did that day.

I’d also been journaling quite a lot in Rhodia dot grid notebooks, and the spacing is pretty small. I’m happy to write small, within the dot grid, but the medium nibs on these Chinese pens were too big for the task.

I’d recently tested upgrade nibs on one of my cheapest of the cheap Chinese fountain pens, and the JoWo EF nib works pretty well in my Rhodia. But surely I could find something finer than this.

Meet the new boss

I’ve got a new boss at work. She’s new to the company, and I’m just getting to know her. In our first one-on-one meeting she saw me pull out my Jinhao 159 and got excited that I was using a fountain pen. She then showed me her Pilot Vanishing Point. She invited me to write a page or two in my journal with it to see how I liked it. While the ergonomics of the pen did not favor my large hands, the nib was so fine it could slice the hair on a baby’s head lengthwise. This was the final straw.

Back to Neil

Within minutes of publishing the first article, I’d gotten a tweet from Neil that was encouraging. We’ve since exchanged a few tweets, and he’s been very friendly and supportive of my curiosity about the Pilot Custom 823. While one of the benefits of being autistic seems to be that I don’t fanboy and lose my composure around celebrities, that doesn’t mean I don’t have an appreciation and enormous respect for the time that he puts into connecting with his readers on social media.

His gentle and understated support for my journey helped a lot, not because of his celebrity status, but because of the practical experience he’s gained as a prolific author who writes his first drafts with a fountain pen.

Why would you spend $265 on a pen?!?

The Pilot Custom 823 is a pretty fantastic pen. This isn’t a pen blog so I’m not going to review the pen itself. But I do appreciate that it’s kind of remarkable to spend in excess of $250 on a writing tool not much more sophisticated than what my great grandfather used at my age. Some of the materials in the Pilot were not available back then, but the fundamental technologies in place are only incrementally improved over what he would have had.

My day job is in the computer industry. But that’s not been my only line of work for quite some time. When I worked at IBM, I was moonlighting as a bouncer just to learn more about people, to observe them, to see them at their best and at their worst. For a number of years I’ve also worked as an artist either anonymously or under temporary pseudonyms. And more recently, I’ve been writing. Initially it was just blog length and magazine length for other sites, sometimes under my name, sometimes not, but often for pay. And it’s something that I enjoy doing.

Then came NaNoWriMo. This was pretty scary for me. I had to write a 50,000 word novel (novella, really) within the boundaries of the month of November. I did a little bit of prep work before the month began, just setting up an outline and some character sheets, etc. When November began, I was off like a banshee. I found little bits of time before work, during my lunch break, after work… and taking advantage of my insomnia, I wrote into the night. Partway into the month, I was feeling ill and I took off two full days and half-assed a third. I’d make up the time. 17 calendar days into the month, with only 15 of them spent writing, I’d finished my first draft. I’d “won”, as they say. That story is one that I don’t want to start my career as a novelist with. So it’s on the back burner.

And then I began writing “Two Seconds of Your Time”. It’s a piece of science fiction where an A.I. must figuratively look himself in the mirror and contend with a crisis of conscience. That work was going well, but something felt off.

Even though the story was to take place about 25 years from now, writing it with a computer seemed wrong. The words came out too fast. And even though the story’s main character was an A.I., the metering lacked a certain humanity that I really wanted to convey. I know that writing with one of my old mechanical typewriters, or with a fountain pen, puts me in the right headspace to write this story.

But all of the pens that I have are low in ink capacity, and I don’t want to screw around with refilling empty converters all the time. I was ready to invest in myself, in my success, to have a pen that was special and would just work so I could write and not worry about running out of consumables.

Why does a computer software engineer use a $3,000 laptop computer? Because when you spend so much time using a tool, you want a tool that’s not going to let you down. It’s okay to spend extra on a key tool that you’re going to use in your craft. I still love my cheap pens. No worries. I still use them quite a lot. But for my work, I’m going to have special tools around.

Raleigh to Tokyo, come in Tokyo

The 823 is only available in amber color in the US, but it’s also available in a smokey translucent black as well as clear colors in Japan. I found the eBay shop of a reputable exporter in Japan and plunked down my $265. Sure, you can get it cheaper from Japan. But none of the cheaper sellers could promise me that I’d have my pen in less than a week. I ordered the pen late at night on January 26, and was writing with it the afternoon of the 3oth. It worked great. I’ve written quite a few pages with it since then, and it’s been wonderful.

What’s next?

Out of respect for Neil Gaiman’s role in this, I’d like to read one of his books before I reboot my efforts on “Two Seconds of Your Time” with my new pen. To that end, I’ve ordered a copy of Anansi Boys for my Kindle and will bury myself in that until it’s done.

I’ve got a very large and a very small Leuchtturm1917 notebook set aside for this project (the big one is for the manuscript, and the little one is for any notes or character sheets or ideas that I want to record as I go). And I’ve got a special place off the beaten track to help immerse my imagination in this story’s world.

I’d originally thought “Two Seconds” would be a short story, but once I’d gotten into writing it the first time around, it told me it wanted to be at least a novella. I’ll be sure to share with you all here when my story is ready for others to experience.

And just know this when you read it: it was first written with a fountain pen, on paper. And while Neil didn’t make me do it, his support certainly helped to allay any doubts about this path. Thanks again, Neil!

Mark Turner : attempts to install malware

January 31, 2016 02:54 PM

This morning, my wife returned to her Google Chrome web browser to see the following tab had been opened: attempts to install a fake Adobe Flash player attempts to install a fake Adobe Flash player

The text reads:

WARNING: Your Adobe Flash Player version is out of date. Your computer is prone to malware attacks! Please update the latest Flash Player version

At the bottom of the page is this:

About | End User License Agreement | Contact | Privacy | Terms of service | Download Manager | How to Uninstall

By downloading, you accept our Terms of use and Privacy Policy. This free download is done via download manager which may offer other applications you can decline or uninstall. This site and the download manager have no relationship with the author. Software may also be available for free from the original author’s site. © 2016 | All Rights Reserved.

It uses Javascript to ask if you’re sure you want to leave this page, after which the page refreshes to the below dialog, looking nearly identical to the real Flash upgrade dialog: is now distributing Adobe Flash. Seems legit, right? :-) is now distributing Adobe Flash. Seems legit, right? :-)

A Google search for only shows 5 results, most of them simply domain registration tracking websites. Looks like I’ll have to do my own research on this one.

I did a whois search on

Domain ID: D2728855-CLUB
WHOIS Server:
Referral URL:
Updated Date: 2016-01-20T13:13:53Z
Creation Date: 2016-01-20T13:13:50Z
Registry Expiry Date: 2017-01-19T23:59:59Z
Sponsoring Registrar: NameCheap, Inc.
Sponsoring Registrar IANA ID: 1068
Domain Status: clientTransferProhibited
Registrant ID: C2728853-CLUB
Registrant Name: WhoisGuard Protected
Registrant Organization: WhoisGuard, Inc.
Registrant Street: P.O. Box 0823-03411
Registrant City: Panama
Registrant State/Province: Panama
Registrant Postal Code: 00000
Registrant Country: PA
Registrant Phone: +507.8365503
Registrant Fax: +51.17057182
Registrant Email:
Admin ID: C2728851-CLUB
Admin Name: WhoisGuard Protected
Admin Organization: WhoisGuard, Inc.
Admin Street: P.O. Box 0823-03411
Admin City: Panama
Admin State/Province: Panama
Admin Postal Code: 00000
Admin Country: PA
Admin Phone: +507.8365503
Admin Fax: +51.17057182
Admin Email:
Tech ID: C2728854-CLUB
Tech Name: WhoisGuard Protected
Tech Organization: WhoisGuard, Inc.
Tech Street: P.O. Box 0823-03411
Tech City: Panama
Tech State/Province: Panama
Tech Postal Code: 00000
Tech Country: PA
Tech Phone: +507.8365503
Tech Fax: +51.17057182
Tech Email:
Billing ID: C2728852-CLUB
Billing Name: WhoisGuard Protected
Billing Organization: WhoisGuard, Inc.
Billing Street: P.O. Box 0823-03411
Billing City: Panama
Billing State/Province: Panama
Billing Postal Code: 00000
Billing Country: PA
Billing Phone: +507.8365503
Billing Fax: +51.17057182
Billing Email:
DNSSEC: unsigned
>>> Last update of WHOIS database: 2016-01-31T14:06:44Z <<<

So, the domain is listed anonymously. What about where it’s hosted?

$ nslookup

Non-authoritative answer:

Let’s see who belongs to. A whois query shows this:

% This is the RIPE Database query service.
% The objects are in RPSL format.
% The RIPE Database is subject to Terms and Conditions.
% See

% Note: this output has been filtered.
% To receive output for a database update, use the “-B” flag.

% Information related to ‘ –’

% Abuse contact for ‘ –’ is ‘’

inetnum: –
netname: NL-LEASEWEB-20120124
descr: LeaseWeb Netherlands B.V.
admin-c: LSW1-RIPE
tech-c: LSW1-RIPE
country: NL
remarks: Please send all abuse notifications to the following email address: To ensure proper processing of your abuse notification, please visit the website for notification requirements. All police and other government agency requests must be sent to
mnt-lower: OCOM-MNT
mnt-lower: LEASEWEB-MNT
mnt-lower: LEASEWEB-NL-MNT
mnt-routes: OCOM-MNT
mnt-routes: LEASEWEB-MNT
mnt-routes: LEASEWEB-NL-MNT
mnt-domains: OCOM-MNT
mnt-domains: LEASEWEB-NL-MNT
created: 2012-01-24T10:32:05Z
last-modified: 2015-09-28T14:57:19Z
source: RIPE # Filtered

A generic web hosting company in the Netherlands. I will report the malware site to LeaseWeb and have already reported the site to Google Safe Browsing. Hopefully it won’t show up in anyone else’s web browsers.

The amusing thing is that the dialog box appeared in Google Chrome, which has its own Flash renderer that cannot be upgraded outside of Chrome’s regular updates. I don’t think for a minute that Chrome’s Flash is vulnerable since Google updates it constantly.

This all reminds me that I need to set up a good honeypot system to capture and test malware like this.

Mark Turner : Don Felder Gives ‘History of the Eagles’ a Mixed Review – Hollywood Reporter

January 30, 2016 11:49 PM

Just watched “History of the Eagles, Part I” today. It was an entertaining look into the life of a rock and roll band when it was on top of the world.

Don Felder, one of the long-serving members of the band, talked about what the documentary didn’t cover.

So it was with considerable trepidation that Felder, now a solo artist who recently released his second album, Road to Forever, sat down to watch Allison Ellwood’s two-part History of the Eagles documentary, commissioned by Henley, Frey and longtime manager Irving Azoff and broadcast on Showtime. Nonetheless, he found plenty to appreciate in the authorized film.

Source: Don Felder Gives ‘History of the Eagles’ a Mixed Review – Hollywood Reporter

Mark Turner : Raleigh woman, part owner of Tir Na Nog, still shaken by mugging | WNCN

January 30, 2016 01:08 AM

I feel sad for Ms. Nice and want these thugs serving some time for this. That said, some commenters on this story have said “well, if she was armed this wouldn’t have happened.”

The woman was hit over the head. I don’t think she was expecting to be hit on the head. I doubt she had much time to do anything at all other than collapse in a heap. In fact, if she had a weapon on her it’s quite possible that these dirtbags would’ve stolen it with her other stuff, too.

I hate crime as much as anyone but guns are not some magic cure-all. They just aren’t.

I hope they catch these punks.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A Raleigh woman was hit over the head, thrown to the ground and mugged – all just feet from where she lives.

“All you’ve taken away is my little bit of security,” said the victim, Annie Nice.

Nice is still shaken up talking about the mugging that sent her to the hospital. It happened at 8 p.m. Tuesday on East Davie Street in downtown Raleigh. Nice said she was just walking from her car at the time.

“It felt like a piano has fallen out of the sky and hit me over the head. You know it’s unbelievable,” Nice said.

Source: Raleigh woman, part owner of Tir Na Nog, still shaken by mugging | WNCN

Mark Turner : I worked on Wall Street. I am skeptical Hillary Clinton will rein it in | Chris Arnade | Opinion | The Guardian

January 30, 2016 12:56 AM

I owe almost my entire Wall Street career to the Clintons. I am not alone; most bankers owe their careers, and their wealth, to them. Over the last 25 years they – with the Clintons it is never just Bill or Hillary – implemented policies that placed Wall Street at the center of the Democratic economic agenda, turning it from a party against Wall Street to a party of Wall Street.

That is why when I recently went to see Hillary Clinton campaign for president and speak about reforming Wall Street I was skeptical. What I heard hasn’t changed that skepticism. The policies she offers are mid-course corrections. In the Clintons’ world, Wall Street stays at the center, economically and politically. Given Wall Street’s power and influence, that is a dangerous place to leave them.

Source: I worked on Wall Street. I am skeptical Hillary Clinton will rein it in | Chris Arnade | Opinion | The Guardian

Mark Turner : Wounded Warrior Project spends lavishly on itself, ex-employees say – Houston Chronicle

January 29, 2016 10:33 PM

Friends don’t let friends donate to the Wounded Warrior Project.

Since its inception in 2003 as a basement operation handing out backpacks to wounded war veterans, the charity has evolved into a fundraising giant, taking in more than $372 million in 2015 alone – largely through small donations from people over 65.

Today, the charity has 22 locations offering programs to help veterans readjust to society, attend school, find work and participate in athletic endeavors. It contributes millions to smaller veterans groups.

But in its swift rise, it has also embraced aggressive styles of fundraising and personnel management that have caused many current and former employees to question whether it has drifted from its original mission.

Source: Wounded Warrior Project spends lavishly on itself, ex-employees say – Houston Chronicle

Warren Myers : knoppix remastering virtual appliance

January 29, 2016 02:39 PM

In preparation for an upcoming post on remastering Knoppix, I have made a VirtualBox virtual appliance based on the Knoppix v7.6.1 DVD all set for remastering.

/dev/sda holds the raw files.

/dev/sdb1 is a swap partition.

To use the appliance, download the Knoppix 7.6.1 DVD. You’ll need a boot environment for remastering, and Knoppix has the tools you need to remaster it.

Make sure you mount /dev/sda somewhere memorable. And that you run a swapon /dev/sdb1 before you start.

Have fun.

Download the .ova appliance from me here.

Mark Turner : Amazon’s customer service backdoor — Medium

January 29, 2016 02:23 PM

Everything you do to secure your Amazon account Customer Service can undo in a heartbeat. A scary tale of how easily Amazon’s customer service can be socially engineered.

As a security conscious user who follows the best practices like: using unique passwords, 2FA, only using a secure computer and being able to spot phishing attacks from a mile away, I would have thought my accounts and details would be be pretty safe? Wrong.

Because when someone has gone after me, it all goes for nothing. That’s because most systems come with a backdoor, customer support. In this post I’m going to focus on the most grievous offender:

Source: Amazon’s customer service backdoor — Medium

Mark Turner : A fake diary of the Y’allQaeda siege

January 29, 2016 02:20 PM

My friend Van Alston had been writing a fake diary of the Y’allQaeda/Vanilla ISIS siege. It is hilarious!

Diary, Day 11

Things have been sort of up and down. I thought I was going to come out here and get to shoot my gun, bully some secretaries and make unpopulated areas safe for white men and cows. Nope. One of those Bundy fuckers made me go out in the cold and work on fences for three hours yesterday. If I wanted to work. I wouldn’t be using my unemployment to move out here and bitch about the government, would I? On the plus side, I do believe the locals are coming around to our way of thinking. At first they didn’t much care for us, even the two dipshits that went to jail for burning the field didn’t want to associate with us. All that has changed. When the townsfolk heard that our snack bar had no snacks, they got together and sent us a few big ol’ bags of food. Never heard of the place before, but this Chipotle stuff sure smells good.

Diary, Day 12

This is not working out at all. Yesterday they had me out working on fences in the freezing cold. I complained and today they had me building a website. I know less about building a website than I do about women. Believe me, if I knew anything at all about women I wouldn’t be out here with these fuckwits. The Bundy-in-Charge must be related to Dick Cheney. All I heard for weeks leading up to this was how we would be welcomed with open arms, how the locals would rise up and support us, how the women would adore us (yep, there’s my ignorance-AGAIN) and how there would be a shit ton of snacks.

Well, the two guys in jail we are trying to free have disavowed us. The locals want us to leave. The only difference between here and Iraq is that no one ever lost a toe to frostbite in Iraq.

The snack bar we took over is out of snacks. One of the Under-Bundys, some whiny dork named Ritzheimer (sounds like a Jew to me, but hey, I’m no Bundy), put out a call to fellow patriots asking them to send us snacks. Because the government we are protesting is, uh, delivering our mail in a timely fashion, we started receiving the snack packages today.

It is so weird. Most of the packages we open are filled with dildos and vibrators. The whiny Jew threw ’em all in a bag and told me to have all I wanted. I mean, damn, what am I supposed to do with a bag of dicks? Eat ’em? DOES HE WANT ME TO EAT A BAG OF DICKS?

Diary, Day 13

Tempers are getting short. There have been a couple of fist fights. Two of the Under Bundys got drunk. One of them took the other’s pistol. Unfortunately, the guy had an emergency pistol in his boot, and shot the first guy. It’s not just the snack shortage. Turns out that some of these guys are just crazy as hell. I thought we were going to come up here and shoot it out with the government. I thought it would just be a bunch of Patriots. I didn’t have a clue they were gonna let crazy people in here.

I’m starting to get a little peeved, too. That fence that the Head Bundy made me tear down has been repaired. Turns out the rancher didn’t want his cattle wandering off onto the government land. That Ritzheimer guy keeps saying I’m an Anti-Cement, which makes no sense out here in the damn woods.

It’s gonna get better, though. The evil government is still delivering mail and today, along with another bag of dicks, we got some movies. The Bundy with the weird face said we were gonna watch a cowboy movie. I heard it stars that Joker guy.

Diary, Day 14

I found out today that I am NOT cut out to be a soldier. Bundy with the Face sent me out on patrol. Now, most of the other guys like me, who aren’t Bundys or in the elite corps of Under Bundys, just go out there and jack around, smoke cigarettes and practice their quick draws. I take my shit pretty seriously. I’m attentive and have awesome camo clothes. Which is why I was so surprised when two guys, Geoffrey and Winthorp, jumped me out there on the perimeter.

Man, I know I am in way over my head when two birdwatchers wearing tweed suits and smoking pipes take me by surprise. They took the magazine out of my gun and emptied it (they called it a clip, but I was in no position to correct them) and then basically read me the riot act. Talking about cranes and shit. I finally stomped on Geoffrey’s foot and ran like a scalded dog.

We’re in the middle of the damn woods. Yesterday I’m anti-cement. Today I’m anti-cranes. When I drove out here I didn’t see a damn thing being built for a hundred miles in any direction. Who do I look like, The Lorax? I’m starting to think the whole damn world has lost its marbles.

I was happy to be out on patrol, though. I didn’t get much sleep last night, and what sleep I did get was with one eye open. We watched the debate and everybody got all testosteroned up, whooping and hollering every time Trump made fun of the Canadian or that whiny Cruz guy. So, the debate ends and someone pops in that cowboy movie.

I sure hope this ends either peacefully or with me dead. After what I heard last night, I am absolutely sure I would rather be martyred than spend time in jail with any of these fellows.

Diary, Day Sixteen

It’s been a big weekend. There’s a woman coming. A constitutional scholar, no less. After the movie debacle the other night, a woman is just what this place needs. I haven’t seen her podcast, but Bundy with the Face has, and he says she’s hot as hell. Everybody is talking about taking showers. This is a good thing. I might start a woman rumor every couple of days just to help cut down on the stench around here.

We found a bunch of government trucks and one still had the key in it. One of the Bundys put me in charge of the motor pool, which in my mind was sort of a promotion to Under Bundy. Until then, I mostly took orders. Now I got to boss the trucks around, or at least the truck with the key. My promotion didn’t last long. One of the hermits stole the damn truck and took it to the beer store and got arrested. Arrested for stealing the truck. Shit, if you can’t trust a guy that lives in a hole in the forest in order to protest that the government won’t him live in a hole in the forest, who can you trust?

So, I was back to taking orders. I got ordered to go find a ladder and some tools. I loaded up one of our own trucks and went with the electrician to take down some FBI spy cameras that the local residents said were intruding on their constitutional right to something or another. So, me and the one-eyed electrician snuck off the reservation, followed by seventeen reporters and a news helicopter. Really, there wasn’t much to tell about the whole covert operation. I’m pretty sure that the reporters only came in hopes that the one-eyed electrician would fry himself like a squirrel up on the pole. Nope. He shinnied up that pole, disconnected the cameras, and slid back down. Never spilled a drop of his Miller Lite.

Geoffrey and Winthorp showed up with some of their buddies and started preaching about spotted owls and snail darters and something more about cranes. We got out the bullhorns and sirens and drowned them out. No one is going to ruin our right to free speech, that’s for sure. I stayed toward the back, though. I’ve seen what those bird boys can do.

We heard there was a big storm coming in, but no one is really sure. Once we got back from taking those FBI cameras down, it seems that there is no more current weather information available and the locals are all mad at us again for who knows what.

Oh well, wish me luck and send pomade. I can’t wait to meet the constitution lady.

Tarus Balog : Dev-Jam 2016 Dates Announced

January 28, 2016 09:55 PM

Yay! We have settled on dates for the eleventh (!) OpenNMS Dev-Jam Conference.

Dev-Jam 2015 Group Picture

Once again we will descend on the campus of the University of Minnesota for a week of fun, fellowship and hacking on OpenNMS and all things open source.

Anyone is welcome to attend, although I must stress that this is aimed at developers and it is highly unstructured. Despite that, we get a ton of things done and have a lot of fun doing it (and I’m not just saying that, there’s videos).

We stay at Yudof Hall on campus, and while that can scare older folks I want to point out the accommodation is quite nice and I’ve been told they they have recently refurbished the dorm. If you want to stay on campus the cost is US$1500 for the week which includes all meals.

If you prefer hotels, there are several nearby, and you can come to the conference for US$800.

Registration is now open and space is limited. If you think you want to come but aren’t sure, let me know and I’ll try to save you a space. We’ve sold out the last two years.

Oh, sponsorships are available as well for $2500. You will help us bring someone deserving to Dev Jam who wouldn’t ordinarily get to attend, and you’ll get your logo and link on for a year.

Dev Jam!

Mark Turner : The most elegant solution to Denial of Service (DoS) attacks I’ve ever seen

January 28, 2016 02:52 AM

OMG. This is network security poetry. It is the most exquisitely beautiful solution to Denial of Service (DoS) attacks I’ve ever seen. If excessive connections are made to select ports in a certain timeframe, the source IP is added to an escalated list of iptables rules which eventually lock that IP out for over a month!

Initially I blocked attacks on an IP-by-IP basis, but this resulted in hundreds of separate iptables rules which as you can imagine became unwieldy quickly. Next, I implemented iptables rules using the iptables recent module (ipt_recent), which stopped attacks in a certain timeframe but did not prevent the same IP address from starting a new attack a short time later, scot free. The solution below keeps a long-term memory of offending IPs and thus really punishes attackers by putting their zombie hosts on the sidelines for a long time. It is also better than the IP-by-IP way I used to do it because after the longest ban (monthlong or whatever) expires, the IP is trimmed from the list.

Brilliant! I will soon adapt my rules to implement these clever ideas.

I have previously written a bit about using IPTables to limit brute-force attacks. For the past month, that system has been working quite well. The typical attack pattern resembled that in [graph 1, graph2]. A few days ago, however, an attack was implemented which ‘fell under the radar’, so to speak – instead of being a short-lived, high volume (60/min for 5 min) attack, this one was a slow and prolonged attack (1/2 min for 11 hrs) [graph 3, graph 4].


Due to this, I have decided to augment my IPTables ruleset somewhat. There are a couple of points I found lacking in the previous revision. Firstly, repeat offenders did not have any extra consequences – whether you attacked for the first time or the tenth time, you were treated equally. Secondly, a slow attack was not effectively dealt with. Thirdly, the nature of the attack (quick vs slow) was not considered in the consequence. Finally, I wasn’t that pleased with the logging implementation – the log file was not exclusive, and no log rotation was setup. All of the above are addressed in this revision.

Source: Escalating Consequences with IPTables « That’s Geeky

Mark Turner : Script kiddie fail

January 28, 2016 01:45 AM

Watch out, we've got a badass over here.

Watch out, we’ve got a badass over here.

Some bored kid out there has taken to brute force attacking my webserver in the early morning. I just noticed this referrer entry on the URL:

[Redacted IP] – – [19/Jan/2016:03:33:28 -0500] “POST /wp-login.php HTTP/1.1” 200 3416 “-” “–user-agent=Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Ubuntu; Linux x86_64; rv:39.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/39.0”

Catch that? Whatever script Dr. Evil is trying to run here sets the referrer value by using –user-agent= as an argument. Instead, our boy genius is passing…

–user-agent=”–user-agent …”

Brilliant. Simply brilliant.

Mark Turner : Principal Asks Parents To ‘Take The Time To Get Dressed’ For Drop Off – Scary Mommy

January 27, 2016 11:12 PM

This blog post generated some lively discussion on a friend’s Facebook page, both pro and con. There were lots of defenders of the UK principal’s position but I’m not one of them.

School starts way too early in the United States. Ungodly early. I don’t think it’s fair to expect anyone to put two thoughts together before the sun even comes up, much less to be looking their best.

If you’re dropping kids off at school and never leave your vehicle, no one should care what you look like. I agree with the author here: the principal needs to relax.

A UK principal wrote a note to parents to ask them to please “take the time to get dressed” in the morning and stop doing drop off in their pajamas. She insists the letter has been well received. Mkay. I’m an adult and I do what I want. And that includes wearing whatever the hell I can get on my body before I get the kids packed up for school.

Kate Chisholm, headteacher at Skerne Park Academy, Darlington, wrote to all parents imploring them to “dress appropriately” in day wear. “I have noticed there has been an increasing tendency for parents to escort children to and from school while still wearing their pajamas and, on occasion, even slippers,” reads the note The Telegraph managed to get a copy of. “Could I please ask that when you are escorting your children, you take the time to dress appropriately in day wear that is suitable for the weather conditions?”

No. No you cannot.

Source: Principal Asks Parents To ‘Take The Time To Get Dressed’ For Drop Off Scary Mommy

Mark Turner : Offensive lineman John Urschel starting PhD at MIT – Business Insider

January 27, 2016 10:45 PM

John Urschel

John Urschel

I am in absolute awe of this.

Continuing to show he is one of the more unusual (and impressive) players in the NFL, Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman John Urschel announced via Twitter his plan to start his Ph.D. in mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology this year, ESPN reported.

Put another way, the 24-year-old, 305-pound lineman got into the No. 1 ranked graduate school for mathematics, all while having a full-time job in a field other than math.

Source: Offensive lineman John Urschel starting PhD at MIT – Business Insider

Warren Myers : haiku appliance

January 27, 2016 01:36 PM

I have been a fan of Haiku for years – and BeOS since way back in the 90s. I run a Haiku mirror, and try to pay attention to the project’s updates.

Today I am making available a Haiku-OS r1 alpha 4.1 virtual appliance!

Download it from me here (created in VirtualBox, but in .ova format, so should work “anywhere”). Download links for current editions (for new releases of Haiku-OS) will be maintained on my Projects page.


  • 1G RAM (could’ve easily gotten away with 512M or even 256M, but given everyone should have 1G free (especially if running VirtualBox), went with this size)
  • 20G storage (dynamically allocated, of course), formatted BFS (because it’s better than NTFS – and doesn’t “actually” format the disk (it does, but only kinda – it’s akin to lazy zeroing in VMware)) in VMDK format (if you care)
  • 2 CPUs
  • 32M video memory
  • network: NAT’d

Appliance [download] size :: ~250M.

Warren Myers : sap bapis and hp oo

January 26, 2016 01:37 PM

Couple quick notes:

  • SAP is not designed for automated / programmatic access – their “BAPI”, or binary application programming interface, requires additional licensing beyond just the product to use
    • I made the naive assumption that a “BAPI” was like a WSDL – and it is, but it’s proprietary, not open (and it’s binary, not plaintext XML)
  • HP Operations Orchestration requires an additional, ie not out-of-the-box, content pack and wizard to import SAP BAPIs to make operations

That said, the power of OO can be brought to bear with SAP and imported BAPIs – with the following gotchas:

  • You can only have one BAPI call in a given flow
  • If you want to call more than one BAPI for a given task, you need to have them split into their own subflows, and call the subflows

Hopefully you won’t need to know this. But if you do, I’m happy to save you some of the headaches I have experienced interoperating with SAP & OO.

Mark Turner : Google Search Console fail

January 26, 2016 02:13 AM

Google gets it wrong

Google gets it wrong

I got a helpful email from Google today (and, yes, I checked the headers. It is indeed from Google), alerting me that my blog is apparently running a version of WordPress which is five years old. This is news to me since I regularly update WordPress (currently on version 4.4). I’m not sure how the all-knowing Goog got fooled into thinking I haven’t updated my blog platform for five years. It’s a rare miss for this ubiquitous search company.

Tarus Balog : OmniROM 6.0

January 25, 2016 10:18 PM

For the last few days it has been hard to remain true to my free and open source roots. I guess I’ve been spoiled lately with almost everything I try out “just working”, but it wasn’t so with my upgrade to OmniROM 6.0 on my Nexus 6 (shamu).

I’ve been a big fan of OmniROM since it came out, and I base my phone purchases on what handsets are officially supported. While I tend not to rush to upgrade to the latest and greatest, once the official nightlies switched to Android “Marshmallow” I decided to make the jump.

Now there are a couple of tools that I can’t live without when playing with my phone. They are the Team Win Recovery Project (TWRP) and Titanium Backup. The first lets you create easy to restore complete backups and the latter allows you to restore application status even if you factory reset your device, which I had to do.

[NOTE: I should also mention that I rely on Chainfire’s SuperSU for root. It took me awhile to find a link for it I trust.]

When I tried the first 6.0 nightlies, all I did was sideload the ROM, wipe the caches, and reboot. I liked the new “OMNI” splash screen but once the phone booted, the error “Unfortunately process has stopped” popped up and couldn’t be cleared. Some investigation suggested a factory reset would fix the issue, but since I didn’t want to go through the hassle of restoring all of my applications I decided to just restore OmniROM 5.1 and wait to see if a later build would fix it.

Well, this weekend we got a dose of winter weather and I ended up home bound for several days, so I decided to give it another shot. I sideloaded the latest 6.0 nightly and sure enough, the same error occurred. So I did a factory reset and, voilà, the problem went away.

Now all I had to do was reload all 100+ apps. (sigh)

I started by installing the “pico” GApps package from Open GApps and in case you were wondering, the Nexus 6 uses a 32-bit ARM processor.

I guess I really shouldn’t complain, as doing a fresh install once in awhile can clean out a bunch of kruft that I’ve installed over the past year or so, but I’ve come expect OmniROM upgrades to be pretty easy.

One of the first things I installed from the Play store was the “K-9 Mail” application. Unfortunately, it kept having problems connecting to my personal mail server (the work one was fine). The sync would error with “SocketTimeoutException: fai”. So I rebooted back to Omni 5.1 and things seemed to work okay (although I did see that error when trying to sync some of the folders). Back I went to 6.0 (see where TWRP would come in handy here?) and I noticed that when I disabled Wi-Fi, it worked fine.

As I was trying to sleep last night it hit me – I bet it has something to do with IPv6. We use true IPv6 at the office, but not to our external corporate mail server, which would explain why a server in the office would fail but the other one work. At home I’m on Centurylink DSL and they don’t offer it (well, they offer 6rd which is IPv6 encapsulated over IPv4 but not only is it not “true” IPv6 you have to pay extra for a static IP to get it to work). I use a Hurricane Electric tunnel and apparently Marshmallow utilizes a different IPv6 stack and thus has issues trying to retrieve data from my mail server when using that protocol.


I tried turning off IPv6 on Android. It’s not easy and I couldn’t get any of the suggestions to work. Then I found a post that suggested it was the MTU, so I reduced the MTU to 1280 and still no love.

So I turned off the HE tunnel. Bam! K-9 started working fine.

For now I’ve just decided to leave IPv6 off. While I think we need to migrate there sooner rather than later, there is nothing I absolutely have to have IPv6 for at the moment and I think as bandwidth increases, having to tunnel will start to cause performance issues. Normal traffic, such as using rsync, seems to be faster without IPv6.

That experience cost me about two days, but at the moment I’m running the latest OmniROM and I’m pretty happy with it. The one open issue I have is that the AOSP keyboard crashes if you try to swipe (gesture type) but I just installed the Google Keyboard and now it works without issue.

I have to say that there were some moments when I was very close to installing the Google factory image back on my Nexus 6. It’s funny, but the ability to shake the phone to dismiss an alarm is kind of a critical app with me. Since the last time I checked it wasn’t an available option on the Google ROM, I was willing to stick it out a little longer and figure out my issues with OmniROM.

Heh, freedom.

Warren Myers : enable virtualization in the bios of your lenovo t450s

January 25, 2016 01:57 PM

If you install VirtualBox, like I did last week, [at least] under Windows 10, and you have not gone into the BIOS ahead of time to enable virtualization, you will be limited to 32-bit guest OSes.

Enable virtualization, and the 64-bit options become available.

Not sure why you have to enable the hardware virtualization extensions to get 64-bit guest support (nor why it isn’t enabled by default on laptops like the Lenovo T450s which are aimed at business users), but you do.

Thankfully, you can enable virtualization after the install, and you don’t need to reinstall (which wouldn’t be a huge deal, but certainly an annoyance).

Magnus Hedemark : Automobile Retrospective: 2012 Subaru Forester

January 24, 2016 05:54 PM

About four years ago, I went to the local Subaru dealership and purchased a brand new 2012 Subaru Forester. This probably had something to do with Whole Foods opening up near my home. There’s something about that place that makes people walk around in the city like they are preparing to ascend a mountain or go on a canoeing expedition or something, just to get their non-dairy ice cream and baked kelp crisps.

The stereotypes about this car abound. It’s the lesbian answer to the minivan. It’s the car of choice for people who own sporting dogs. It’s the car for people who procrastinated and never got around to buying that diesel Mercedes to run on used kitchen grease.

Well, I’m sorry to disappoint, but unless English bulldogs are considered sporting these days, I might not be the target market for a Forester. Or am I?

I’ve got a wife and three kids, and a few times a year we all pile into the Forester for a road trip. I’ve got two dogs, but they are hardly ever in my car. Most of the time, this car is used for commuting from my home in Raleigh to my job in Durham. I occasionally take it on solo adventures on the weekend, sometimes really showing off what the Subaru can do.

Let’s get something out of the way first: this is not going to be a review. This is going to be a retrospective. I’m looking back over the last four years, reflecting on the experience of owning a 2012 Subaru Forester, calling out both the good and bad aspects, and leaving Subaru some action items on things that they could have done better (if they haven’t done it already in later models).

The car has been remarkably free of trouble. I’m not exactly on top of my regular maintenance. I take it to the local oil change joint and have them change the filter and I do use synthetic oil. I’m still on the original tires, though I expect to have to change them this year. I’m still on the original brakes, battery, pretty much everything (minus oil & filter). The wiper blades need to be replaced. That’s about it.

In the first few weeks after I took delivery, it did have to go back to the dealership once. I’d been getting great fuel economy, much better than I expected, but one day the engine computer went into a limp home mode and the dash lit up like a Christmas tree. The dealership assured me it was safe to drive it in to have it checked out. They updated firmware on the engine computer and it’s run fine ever since, though the fuel economy dropped measurably.

Speaking of fuel economy, how is it? Well, I don’t drive it too carefully. But I don’t drive it like it’s stolen, either. I tend to go with the flow of traffic, which means on a 65 MPH highway I’m going somewhere between 70-74MPH (not wanting to drive it more than 9MPH over the posted limit). Most of my miles are on a commute mixed between suburban primary roads, major highway, and urban streets. I typically pull about 22MPG on a tank. On long road trips with the family, where most of the miles are on the highway and I’m driving a bit more carefully, it’s good for about 26 or 27MPG.

What else has broken?

  • The plastic tether that attaches the gas cap to the body of the car was the first to go. This was just a cheap and terrible design, and I’m surprised that Subaru was still doing this as recently as 4 years ago.
  • The hinges to the glove box seem to have broken loose. It still shuts but there’s extra unwelcome movement now when you open it. I rarely use the glove box so I’m not sure how it got this way so easily.

A note on intermittent failures

  • The seat warmers are fantastic. But sometimes they don’t work. If a few minutes goes by and the seat isn’t getting warm, toggling the seat warmer off and back on again usually gets it working.
  • Bluetooth. Bluetooth is my nemesis. It’s so great on paper, but so klugey in practice. Usually it works great. Sometimes, not so much. I think a lot of this might be iOS on my iPhone, but it’s hard to say. The owner’s manual didn’t have correct or good documentation on setting it up, so the dealership awkwardly handed me a stack of printed looseleaf, stapled in the corner, which was the bluetooth instruction manual.
24U server rack fit in there! The Dell 24U server rack is perhaps the ideal illustration of just how much you can fit in this car.

What do I love about it?

  • For a small car, it’s very roomy. I’m 6’2″ and have only a 31″ inseam, which means I have a really long torso. This makes it super uncomfortable to sit in a lot of cars that have a lower roofline. The Forester is very tall. My wife has observed before that my head still looks like it’s close to hitting the roof, but I’ve not had a problem with this. I’ve also sat in the back seat, which was remarkably comfortable. I’ve had a family of five in there on 12+ hour long road trips, and aside from the expected sibling rivalry, things went remarkably well.
  • Cargo capacity is insanely good. There was that one time I stuffed a 24U server cabinet in the back. I’ve also used it for a number of photoshoots where the car was stuffed with cases of lighting gear, camera equipment, and a large roll of white seamless vinyl backdrop that just barely fit, with one end inches from the stereo, and the other end inches from the tailgate.
  • It’s amphibious. Or nearly so, it would seem. In the first week after taking delivery, I drove the car from Raleigh, North Carolina to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was nearly monsoon level rain most of the way up. The Subaru didn’t care. “Is that all you’ve got, bro?” One other time, I drove it through the Great Dismal Swamp with a model to get to a photoshoot location. Talk about scary! This was probably a foolish thing to do, but I drove it through the swamp up to the doorsills in muck and water. Every time I felt a tire slip, the car worked out where to redirect power to regain traction. It was brilliant. It just kept going.
  • It’s great on ice. I’ve owned many 4×4’s over the years and there was one thing they were universally bad at: driving on ice. Raleigh doesn’t get a lot of snow, and when it does everything is closed, anyway. So I don’t really drive it much in the ice & snow. This weekend we had a moderately severe ice storm where untreated road surfaces were encased in a thick layer of slick ice. I was feeling a little cabin fever, and yes I was curious about experiencing the Subaru’s legendary winter driving competence. So, get ready to laugh at me, I drove it to Whole Foods. Yeah, yeah, I know. No, I didn’t wear my North Face parka. I don’t even own one. But the guacamole fix was great.
  • In almost all driving conditions, it inspires confidence. It’s not a sports car, of course, but for real world every day driving conditions including the really crappy stuff this car is fantastic. I’ve owned an insane number of cars over the years, and none of them have engendered such a feeling of pragmatic competence and capability. You’re going to get there. I don’t care if it’s raining buckets. I don’t care if it’s snowing. Take your time, enjoy the seat warmers and the music, and trust that it’s going to get you there.
  • The sunroof. This feature sold itself. The sunroof on this car is… Biblical in proportion.
  • Ground clearance. My old Jeep Wranglers and Ford Broncos had more ground clearance, sure. But this is a relatively smallish car. And I’ve had it out rock crawling. I’ve actually gotten a $200+ parking ticket for taking it further back into a state park than I should have (again, for a photo shoot). Yes, I sometimes make irresponsible decisions in the name of making art.

What could Subaru do better?

Styling is something that Subaru has long struggled with. Their very best looking cars are merely homely. Their worst looking cars are downright fugly.

I’m not sure if a rear spoiler was available when I got this car, as I don’t recall seeing any, but the car would benefit from one.

The tungsten headlights are increasingly anachronistic and not as wonderful as some of the modern alternatives.

The car is high enough up from the ground, and so are the headlights, that driving lights would be a really great thing to add. I know this was an option, and if I’d gotten this car over again I’d opt for them. There is an overall theme here of make the lighting better. And make the better lighting standard equipment.

I should note that I was going to buy the top level trim model, but had to abort when my vegan daughter pointed out that she’d never be able to ride in my car. Please divorce the leather seats from the rest of the trim package, make them a standalone option. Vegetarians and vegans like nice things, too. But being forced to take “dead animal seats” (as she would say) just to get everything else is cutting out an important segment of your customers from the upsell.

Regarding the roof rack… I asked for one, and I got a pair of rails. But no crossbars. I know the rest of the industry is guilty of the same thing, but come on guys. Those rails are useless on their own. Don’t make me go to another place and spend hundreds more elsewhere just to finish what you started.

Will I get another one?

I have zero regrets about buying this car. If I could do it over again, I would. I will say: the dealership I bought it at seemed to be averse to stocking turbocharged models. I don’t get it. Looking around at a sea of Subarus, you can spot the turbo models pretty quickly from the hood scoop. There were none. I asked about driving a turbo model and they had none to offer. I can’t say I would have gone with the turbo model, but I wish I’d had the chance to at least try it out. The Forester is never going to win any races. It’s got enough power for day to day commuting, for long road trips, etc. But it’s a very practical car. Sometimes too practical.

That said, I’m ready for my mid-life crisis car. I figure I’ll keep the Forester another two years, and then I’ll be 45 years old. We’ll see if Subaru brings back the WRX STi hatch between now and then. But they got rid of the hatchback and only have the incredibly ugly sedan model. It looks like something a 12 year old boy would fantasize about driving, and not like anything a grown adult would want to drive. Where’s the STi for grown ups? I want to have fun without looking like a total knob.


No. Just… no.

It blows my mind that Subaru would drop the hatchback from the WRX series just as the global auto industry was getting really invested in hot hatches. Subaru was pretty much the reigning king of this category and then abdicated the throne just as things were really heating up.

Unless Subaru does something amazing in the next couple of years, my next car is likely to be a Ford Focus RS. Maybe after I get that last bit of youthful testosterone out of my system, I’ll return to the Subaru family.

I really do love my Subaru. This is the first car of many cars in 25 years of driving where I’ve felt some sense of wanting another car from the same manufacturer. Volkswagen, Ford, Jeep, Dodge, etc. have all left me wanting out long before the car was paid off.

Mark Turner : What to do During an Electrical Outage

January 23, 2016 04:27 PM

After an extended power outage during a winter storm, your heat pump refrigerant will be sluggish when the power finally returns. To avoid damage, you should run your unit on supplementary (or emergency) heat for the first few hours. Not doing so could damage your heat pump.

Also note that in older neighborhoods, the sudden demand for electric power might cause power quality issues that might also damage your heat pump.

Read more:

If your home is equipped with an electric heat pump, special care is needed when turning the unit on after an extended outage. It takes a period of time for the lubricant in the refrigerant to warm-up. This is approximately one and one-half hours per ton of cooling capacity. This could vary from brand to brand and a call to your dealer could prevent problems. During this compressor warm up time you should use the supplemental or emergency resistance heating elements of the heat pump to heat the home.

Source: What to do During an Electrical Outage

Mark Turner : When the Boss Says, ‘Don’t Tell Your Coworkers How Much You Get Paid’ – The Atlantic

January 23, 2016 03:42 PM

If your boss tells you you cannot discuss your salary, your boss is breaking the law.

When you make minimum wage and have to fight for more than 30 hours per week, tips are pretty important, so I sat down with my managers to discuss the controversy. That’s when they told me not to talk about it with the other baristas. The owner “hates it when people talk about money,” my manager added, and “would fire people for it if he could.” I sulked back to the espresso machine, making my lattes at half speed and failing to do side work.

In both workplaces, my bosses were breaking the law.

Under the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 (NLRA), all workers have the right to engage “concerted activity for mutual aid or protection” and “organize a union to negotiate with [their] employer concerning [their] wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment.” In six states, including my home state of Illinois, the law even more explicitly protects the rights of workers to discuss their pay.

Source: When the Boss Says, ‘Don’t Tell Your Coworkers How Much You Get Paid’ – The Atlantic

More from NPR.

Warren Myers : lock screen slideshow in windows 10

January 23, 2016 02:14 PM

In similar fashion to what I wrote about for OS X last year, and spurred by this article from Microsoft, here is my brief guide for doing the same on Windows 10.

Click your Notifications button near the clock.callout

Now click All Settingsnotifications

And you’ll see this


Click Personalization, then Lock Screen. Select “Slideshow” from the dropdown.lockscreen

There you go.

Mark Turner : Winter storm Jonah dumps ice on Raleigh

January 23, 2016 02:21 AM

After watching this storm as it formed over the past week and hearing talk of potentially 13 inches of snow falling on Raleigh, all we get is ice. Sleet began falling between 6 to 9 AM before changing to freezing rain after lunch. I watched in wonder as the rain on the screen outside my window solidified into ice. I also watched he crape myrtle tree build up an impressive glaze of ice right before my eyes.

We’ve made it until 9:16 PM now without any power issues. The lights flickered a few brief times about 6:30 tonight but we’ve had no other issues. I was feeling confident this afternoon that we’d get through without any further problems but I am hearing that our neighbors down the street in Belvidere Park have just now lost power. We could be next.

I have an industrial-sized UPS that needed batteries. Anticipating power issues, I ordered a fresh set of batteries Wednesday night that got delivered less than 24 hours later. We now have two separate sources of inverter power that we can use to keep warm. The plan is to power the blower fan on our gas fireplace should we the ability to run our central heat.

It may be an interesting night. We’ll see where we stand this time tomorrow. I hope everyone else who’s dealing with the weather tonight gets through it safely and securely!

Warren Myers : burger king “coffee” isn’t

January 23, 2016 01:21 AM

I went through a Burger King drive-thru recently on my way to a customer office to get a drink. It being relatively early in the day, I thought getting a coffee would be a Good Idea™.

It was not.

It was bad. Really bad.

It was coffee-colored and -scented hot water.

I cannot recall the last time I had something so mislabeled sold to me.

Mark Turner : Both Hillary and Bernie Will Struggle to Push Their Agendas as President if Republicans Hold the House

January 22, 2016 11:46 PM

And I don’t necessarily disagree with any of these arguments. It would be a long pull up a dirt road for Sanders to get anything done along the lines he proposes in his campaign. This is why, at every stop, he reminds people that he can’t do it alone. That is what his whole “political revolution” riff is about.

And here’s the thing he doesn’t mention: It is unlikely that President Hillary Rodham Clinton is going to get much of what she wants, either.

Source: Both Hillary and Bernie Will Struggle to Push Their Agendas as President if Republicans Hold the House

Tarus Balog : OpenNMS at Scale

January 22, 2016 09:31 PM

So, yes, the gang from OpenNMS will be at the SCaLE conference this weekend (I will not be there, unfortunately, due to a self-imposed conference hiatus this year). It should be a great time, and we are happy to be a Gold Sponsor.

But this post is not about that. This is about how Horizon 17 and data collection can scale. You can come by the booth at SCaLE and learn more about it, but here is the overview.

When OpenNMS first started, we leveraged the great application RRDTool for storing performance data. When we discovered a java port called JRobin, OpenNMS was modified to support that storage strategy as well.

Using a Round Robin database has a number of advantages. First, it’s compact. Once the file containing the RRD database is created, it never grows. Second, we used RRDTool to also graph the data.

However, there were problems. Many users had a need to store the raw collected data. RRDTool uses consolidation functions to store a time-series average. But the biggest issue was that writing lots of files required really fast hard drives. The more data you wanted to store, the greater your investment in disk arrays. Ultimately, you would hit a wall, which would require you to either reduce your data collection or partition out the data across multiple systems.

No more. With Horizon 17 OpenNMS fully supports a time-series database called Newts. Newts is built on Cassandra, and even a small Cassandra cluster can handle tens of thousands of inserts a second. Need more performance? Just add more nodes. Works across geographically distributed systems as well, so you get built-in high availability (something that was very difficult with RRDTool).

Just before Christmas I got to visit a customer on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. You wouldn’t think that location would be a hotbed of technical excellence, but it is rare that I get to work with such a quick team.

They brought me up for a “Getting to Know You” project. This is a two day engagement where we get to kick the tires on OpenNMS to see if it is a good fit. They had been using Zenoss Core (the free version) and they hit a wall. The features they wanted were all in the “enterprise” paid version and the free version just wouldn’t meet their needs. OpenNMS did, and being truly open source it fit their philosophy (and budget) much better.

This was a fun trip for me because they had already done most of the work. They had OpenNMS installed and monitoring their network, and they just needed me to help out on some interesting use cases.

One of their issues was the need to store a lot of performance data, and since I was eager to play with the Newts integration we decided to test it out.

In order to enable Newts, first you need a Cassandra cluster. It turns out that ScyllaDB works as well (more on that a bit later). If you are looking at the Newts website you can ignore the instructions on installing it as it it built directly into OpenNMS.

Another thing built in to OpenNMS is a new graphing library called Backshift. Since OpenNMS relied on RRDTool for graphing, a new data visualization tool was needed. Backshift leverages the RRDTool graphing syntax so your pre-defined graphs will work automatically. Note that some options, such as CANVAS colors, have not been implemented yet.

To switch to newts, in the file you’ll find a section:

###### Time Series Strategy ####
# Use this property to set the strategy used to persist and retrieve time series metrics:
# Supported values are:
#   rrd (default)
#   newts


Note: “rrd” strategy can refer to either JRobin or RRDTool, with JRobin as the default. This is set in

The next section determines what will render the graphs.

###### Graphing #####
# Use this property to set the graph rendering engine type.  If set to 'auto', attempt
# to choose the appropriate backend depending on org.opennms.timeseries.strategy above.
# Supported values are:
#   auto (default)
#   png
#   placeholder
#   backshift

If you are using Newts, the “auto” setting will utilize Backshift but here is where you could set Backshift as the renderer even if you want to use an RRD strategy. You should try it out. It’s cool.

Finally, we come to the settings for Newts:

###### Newts #####
# Use these properties to configure persistence using Newts
# Note that Newts must be enabled using the 'org.opennms.timeseries.strategy' property
# for these to take effect.

There are a lot of settings and most of those are described in the documentation, but in this case I wanted to demonstrate that you can point OpenNMS to multiple Cassandra instances. You can also set different keyspace names which allows multiple instances of OpenNMS to talk to the same Cassandra cluster and not share data.

From the “fine” documentation, they also recommend that you store the data based on the foreign source by setting this variable:


I would recommend this if you are using provisiond and requisitions. If you are currently doing auto-discovery, then it may be better to reference it by nodeid, which is the default.

I want to point out two other values that will need to be increased from the defaults: org.opennms.newts.config.ring_buffer_size and org.opennms.newts.config.cache.max_entries. For this system they were both set to 1048576. The ring buffer is especially important since should it fill up, samples will be discarded.

So, how did it go? Well, after fixing a bug with the ring buffer, everything went well. That bug is one reason that features like this aren’t immediately included in Meridian. Luckily we were working with a client who was willing to let us investigate and correct the issue. By the time it hits Meridian 2016, it will be completely ready for production.

If you enable the OpenNMS-JVM service on your OpenNMS node, the system will automatically collected Newts performance data (assuming Newts is enabled). OpenNMS will also collect performance data from the Cassandra cluster including both general Cassandra metrics as well as Newts specific ones.

This system is connected to a two node Cassandra cluster and managing 3.8K inserts/sec.

Newts Samples Inserted

If I’m doing the math correctly, since we collect values once every 300 seconds (5 minutes) by default, that’s 1.15 million data points, and the system isn’t even working hard.

OpenNMS will also collect on ring buffer information, and I took a screen shot to demonstrate Backshift, which displays the data point as you mouse over it.

Newts Ring Buffer

Horizon 17 ships with a load testing program. For this cluster:

[root@nms stress]# java -jar target/newts-stress-jar-with-dependencies.jar INSERT -B 16 -n 32 -r 100 -m 1 -H cluster
-- Meters ----------------------------------------------------------------------
             count = 10512100
         mean rate = 51989.68 events/second
     1-minute rate = 51906.38 events/second
     5-minute rate = 38806.02 events/second
    15-minute rate = 31232.98 events/second

so there is plenty of room to grow. Need something faster? Just add more nodes. Or, you can switch to ScyllaDB which is a port of Cassandra written in C. When run against a four node ScyllaDB cluster the results were:

[root@nms stress]# java -jar target/newts-stress-jar-with-dependencies.jar INSERT -B 16 -n 32 -r 100 -m 1 -H cluster
-- Meters ----------------------------------------------------------------------
             count = 10512100
         mean rate = 89073.32 events/second
     1-minute rate = 88048.48 events/second
     5-minute rate = 85217.92 events/second
    15-minute rate = 84110.52 events/second

Unfortunately I do not have statistics for a four node Cassandra cluster to compare it directly with ScyllaDB.

Of course the Newts data directly fits in with the OpenNMS Grafana integration.

Grafana Inserts per Second

Which brings me to one down side of this storage strategy. It’s fast, which means it isn’t compact. On this system the disk space is growing at about 4GB/day, which would be 1.5TB/year.

Grafana Disk Space

If you consider that the data is replicated across Cassandra nodes, you would need that amount of space on each one. Since the availability of multi-Terabyte drives is pretty common, this shouldn’t be a problem, but be sure to ask yourself if all the data you are collecting is really necessary. Just because you can collect the data doesn’t mean you should.

OpenNMS is finally to the point where the storing of performance data is no longer an issue. You are more likely to hit limits with the collector, which in part is going to be driven by the speed of the network. I’ve been in large data centers with hundreds of thousands of interfaces all with sub-millisecond latency. On that network, OpenNMS could collect on hundreds of millions of data points. On a network with lots of remote equipment, however, timeouts and delays will impact how much data OpenNMS could collect.

But with a little creativity, even that goes away. Think about it – with a common, decentralized data storage system like Cassandra, you could have multiple OpenNMS instances all talking to the same data store. If you have them share a common database, you can use collectd filters to spread data collection out over any number of machines. While this would take planning, it is doable today.

What about tomorrow? Well, Horizon 18 will introduce the OpenNMS Minion code. Minions will allow OpenNMS to scale horizontally and can be managed directly from OpenNMS – no configuration tricks needed. This will truly position OpenNMS for the Internet of Things.

Warren Myers : i’m a medium plogger now*

January 22, 2016 04:37 AM

(*Though most people would call me an XXXL blogger.)

Following in the steps of Dave Winer, I am now plogging (sorta) on Medium.

And, like Mr Winer, I’m doing it via IFTTT (though not via RSS, I’m doing it via the WordPress channel).

If you’d like to do the same, use this IFTTT recipe.

Mark Turner : Charles with the Obamacare Open Enrollment Center

January 21, 2016 07:23 PM

Last week I got this scam call in on my mobile number. The Caller ID said 347-215-3027 which, as I know from my years of telemarketing scam sleuthing, is almost certainly faked. Calls also come from 813-365-3765 and possibly others.

Here’s the recorded message that was left, made to sound spontaneous. People all over the country have gotten the very same message:

Yeah, hi. This is Charles, and I’m calling from the Obamacare Open Enrollment Center in your … uh … local neighborhood here … um I have your number here on my desk to give you a call … uh … basically … uh … let me see here … uh, the number … let me see … E477 that’s your registration number for the, uh … Obamacare … uh … insurance, so … just go ahead and give me a call back I want to go over a few things with you to get you set up so you don’t have any tax implications. You can call me DIRECT at 888-575-1448, again my number is 888-575-1448. Thank you!

I’ll have an audio clip to post later today.

Warren Myers : remember to vote – myers 2016

January 21, 2016 07:10 PM

Here’s a quick reminder for all you voting types out there – vote for Myers 2016, “I suck less than the other guy”.

Magnus Hedemark : Neil Gaiman writes books with fountain pens?

January 21, 2016 03:30 AM

Yup. His tastes are a bit more expensive than my own, though both pens are fantastic and I’d write with either/both if I could stomach spending that much on a pen.

When he originally tweeted this, I was pretty pleased with his taste in pens. For myself, I’ve given some amount of thought to investing in a Pilot Vanishing Point, in large part because of the Extra Fine Nib that is available with it for long writing sessions in one of my notebooks. Most of my pens have medium or stub nibs, which can be a bit thick for my tastes if I’m writing long form (at which point I wish to write smaller).

The Lamy 2000 has been on my radar, but Lamy’s finest nib in this pen is still not very fine by Japanese standards. In the end, I’m likely to investigate finer nib options for my cheap Chinese pens and call it a day.

Feature image original source:
Neil-Gaiman-Signing-Ely-Cathedral 85

Mark Turner : Iran’s return of American sailors

January 21, 2016 02:30 AM

Riverine Command Boat (RCB)

Riverine Command Boat (RCB)

Let me start off by saying that last week wasn’t my Navy’s finest hour. When news came in Thursday night that ten U.S. Navy sailors had “drifted into Iran territorial waters” and had been detained, there was a sense of deja-vu. I thought about the collision in 2001 between a reckless Chinese fighter pilot and a Navy EP-3 surveillance plane. Known as the Hainan Island Incident, 24 sailors were detained for eleven days, interrogated at all times of day and night. The incident was George W. Bush’s first international crisis and it wasn’t clear things would be resolved amicably.

The Navy tends to avoid entering unfriendly waters (well … most of the time!). The Persian Gulf (or Arabian Gulf as the USN refers to it) is tiny as far as bodies of water go. Our sailors are well aware of who occupies the eastern shore of the Gulf and know to steer clear of it. That doesn’t mean that encounters between Iranians and Americans don’t still take place. I vividly recall how surreal it was to lock eyes with curious Iranian ferry passengers as they motored slowly by my ship once in the Gulf. It was clear at that moment how ridiculous the bluster of our respective governments was.

In 1991, the GPS on my destroyer was literally the size of a microwave oven. Today GPSs are in watches, phones, computers, and a lot of other devices. A world of satellite imagery can be carried in one’s pocket. What’s more, satellite phones can communicate from literally anywhere on the surface of the planet. The typical civilian shipborne radar in the Gulf can light up half the shoreline.

The U.S. Navy has been operating continuously in the Gulf for well over half a century. Our sailors know the neighborhood. They have the best navigation tools available and the best communications equipment. Is it any wonder that Iran was incredulous of our boats’ incursion into their territorial waters? This isn’t supposed to happen. Yet it did.

Initial reports from the Department of Defense claimed one of the boats suffered mechanical difficulty. This explanation was soon walked back, though no other explanation was offered. We still don’t know why it happened, only that it did.

The Navy’s slang for falsifying reports is called gundecking. Someone in the chain of command is gundecking here. The boat was said to be disabled, then it wasn’t. The best navigational and communications equipment couldn’t keep our sailors from straying into Iran’s well-known territorial waters. No communication was sent to the fleet, either. How is this plausible?

To Iran’s credit, they kept their word and released the sailors as they said they would. Hillary might not like it (and that is why she fails … sigh) but they deserve our thanks for returning our sailors and stuff. We screwed up, clearly. Now it will be interesting to see whose career ends because of this debacle.

Tarus Balog : Triggering OpenNMS Notifications Based on Event Parameters

January 20, 2016 09:03 PM

I recently had a client ask how to notify on an event where they wanted to match on certain event parameters. I decided to put this on the wiki with the hope that people would find it useful.