You can run me, you can starve me, you can beat me, you can kill me and you can blackmail me. Just don’t bore me.

I get something like this in my (spam) email folder ever week or so. In fact, I’ve been getting them off and on for the last year or so… haven’t really kept track. I’ve gotten two in the last 24 hours… different bitcoin address each time.

Well, I never have paid a single cent. Really don’t have much use for bitcoin. I am STILL waiting for whoever is sending me these to just hurry up and expose me! I’m really getting bored sitting here waiting for that other shoe to drop! I REALLY want all my friends and contacts watch those same cat videos I find so funny! But videos of me…? MAN, ARE YOU GOOD! You got videos of me and my desktop doesn’t even have a camera!

Oh… all those passcodes you have… could you send them to me? Seems I’ve forgotten most of them…

… and would you PLEASE clean up your grammar? How do you expect to be taken seriously when your sentence structure is so poor?

Contact Us has been fixed

Well, it seems yet ANOTHER WordPress plugin “updated” itself into being useless. We found out our Contact Us page wasn’t working. The cause? An “updated” plugin. We rolled the “update” back two versions and the form is working again. Reading more about the issue, I found that the developer does just like Microsoft… instead of taking responsibility for the issue, they pass the blame, in this case, to whoever developed the theme! How many times have I heard: “There’s nothing wrong with our app. It must be your setup.”

I guess they are following the old Microsoft adage:
Update it until it breaks. We won’t be happy until you aren’t.

Amazon pulls Anti-Vaccine Videos

Amazon has pulled several anti-vaccination videos from their offerings.

Now, I’m not saying vaccines are good, nor am I saying vaccines are bad. But I WILL say that YOU have a right to get information, pro OR con, and make the decision for yourself. Amazon wants to deny you that right in the name of political correctness.

Here are other links to the three videos banned that I know of:
We Don’t Vaccinate!
Shoot ‘Em Up: The Truth About Vaccines
Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe

Note to Amazon: I’m not big on censorship. Let people judge and decide for themselves. Don’t be a Nanny.

Sphider – PDO vs MySQLi

There are TWO editions of Sphider… the classic edition using MySQLi and the PDO edition.

Why are there two versions? The classic edition uses MySQLi and prepared statements. While MySQLi, by itself, does support prepared statements, there are a couple functions used in Sphider that require MySQLnd (the “nd” stands for “native driver”). These functions are used because they are the most efficient way of doing things.

MySQLnd has been the default driver since PHP 5.4. If you install a modern version of PHP and want MySQLi, you are going to get MySQLnd. Yet SOME hosting companies DISABLE MySQLnd for those using shared hosting. (I suppose they want people to shell out a few more bucks to get VPS or Dedicated hosting.) In those situations, the classic edition just ain’t gonna work! So, there is the PDO edition.

There are those who will tell you that PDO is what you should be using anyway. They will tout how versatile PDO is, how it can do anything MySQLi can do, only better. It is true the PDO IS versatile. It can work with many different databases, not just MySQL. But there ARE some things PDO just can’t do, at least not efficiently. And there is overhead. And memory requirements.

With PDO:              PHP <==> PDO <==> Your data
With MySQLi:       PHP <==> Your data

The classic version of Sphider is the better, more capable edition! The PDO edition is capable enough PROVIDED you aren’t trying to build your personal version of an internet search engine. It IS possible to tax the PDO edition to the point it chokes. (It is probably possible to choke the classic edition as well, but it takes more effort.)

Remember, the intent of Sphider was/is to index a web site for the benefit of that site’s visitors. In can be used to index a number of related sites for the same purpose. An individual may stretch Sphider for personal use to index MANY sites… but it is STILL just a small indexing tool and not a Google replacement!

NOW… the final point. If you REALLY need Sphider to stretch its capabilities to the absolute limit, maybe you should be using the classic edition and not PDO. If that is the case, shell out a couple extra bucks to your host so you can get access to MySQLnd. Don’t try to pull a 20′ travel trailer with a Honda Civic.

Holiday VPS woes

On Sunday morning, December 23, one of the worst nightmares of a web host came true. A VPS server suffered a hardware failure. The hardware was repaired quickly enough, but restoration of the VPS server was another matter.  The nightmares of the web host begat the nightmare of a webmaster. All four of the worldspaceflight sites went down. As restoration by the web host proceeded, worldspaceflight.com and sphider.worldspaceflight.com were functioning again Monday afternoon. Blog.worldspaceflight.com and forum.worldspaceflight.com were not so fortunate. There really wasn’t much that could be done until the VPS server restore was completed. For the uninitiated, restoring a VPS server is nowhere as simple of just copying a bunch of files back. IF ONLY! That restore was FINALLY completed Friday evening. Then it was discovered that the blog and forum were STILL not working. It turns out that for the blog (this site), there was a simple permissions problems which was quickly fixed. Three down, one to go. The forum is being stubborn. First, and entire cache directory (with needed driver files) was devoid of content. I THINK that is fixed, but now there may be ANOTHER permissions problem. We are working to resolve that. No guarantee there won’t be something else next, but hope springs eternal. The forum WILL be back.

Yeah, it has been fun, but PLEASE, let’s not EVER do this again!

The customer service rep…

Sometime back, I was talking on the phone to a customer service representative about some product or another. He needed to snail mail me some information.

Now the conversation went something like this (names changed but not the concept):
Customer Rep: Can I get your name, please.
Me: James Piper.
Rep: Diaper?
Me: No, PIPER!
Rep: Diaper?
Me: NO! PIPER! P as in Paul, i-p-e-r!
Rep: OH! Okay. Thank you.

A few days later I got the information in the mail. It was addressed to Paul Iper.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Why I hate Microsoft

I have a number of computers. My main desktop machine runs Ubuntu (currently 18.04), but I have another desktop running Windows 7. I also have a newer laptop (which I don’t use much) with Windows 10. I also have an older laptop, which rarely even gets powered on anymore, with Linux Mint.

Well, I have always had nightmares with Windows update. It seems always to need to do something right when it is least convenient, and is problem prone. As a result, I just disable the service and update ONLY when it’s a) been awhile since the last time, and b) it’s a good time for me.

Today, both conditions were met. I re-enabled the Windows Update service and checked for updates. It took nearly half an hour and discovered there were 6 “needed” updates. One was the totally useless Malicious Software Removel Tool, which runs a long time and does nothing. I deep sixed that one that one and proceeded with the other 5. Another half hour went by as the system downloaded 5 updates. Time to install. It worked, and worked, and worked… said it needed to restart. Okay, fine. “Configuring updates”. “Configuring updates”. … You know how that goes. Finally, it’s been “configuring for another half hour and it has reached 98% complete. Then, the very thing I just KNEW was going to happen, did. “Windows was unable to configure updates. Reverting changes”. CRAP! But not the first time I’ve ever seen that happen!

Anyway, while all that was going on, I was over on my Ubuntu box. I use that one every day, so it is pretty up to date. I figured I would check anyway, so I did an “apt-get update”, and there was one for Linux firmware. I installed it… no reboot needed. I went online and made a few tweaks to another one of my web sites, did some surfing, worked a bit in Libre Office…. Meanwhile, back at the Windows ranch, the “reverting changes” was getting underway. I had to go to the bank, which I did. I was hungry, so I went to get something to eat. Got back home and decided to boot up the old Linux Mint laptop. It had been AT LEAST six months, so you can imagine. It needed a gazillion updates, which I proceed to do. It definitely took awhile (no idea how many updates were actually done), but they all completed without any issues. No reboots were needed. I found some outdated apps and updated them. My Libre Office was still at version 5, so I upgraded it. Took a phone call, went back on my Ubuntu machine and did a bit more work. Then I played with the cat for a bit. After three hours of “reverting changes”, Windows was ready.

So Microsoft Windows took between four and four and a half hours…. accomplishing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!!!

I updated the Windows 10 laptop a couple nights ago, and that took a couple hours. Surprisingly, this time it actually worked.

After years of experience with Microsoft, beginning with DOS 2.11 up to now (I avoided 95/98/ME like the plague and was more into NT 3.51, 4.0, etc. – except Vista/8/8.1), and years with UNIX SYSTEM V, into Red Hat, and finally Ubuntu, I have learned this moral:

The quality of an operating system is inversely proportional to its cost.

Note that Ubuntu is free.

I compose this rant on Ubuntu.

Blog spammers revealed

Blog spam….

Askimet is a blessing as MOST spam I never even see. And practically all the rest ends up being flagged as probable spam, which it inevitably is. I’ve only had ONE legitimate comment I’ve had to rescue from there. While I simply delete the contents of the spam queue, I still like to track the WORST offenders. I thought I might share my (growing) list with whoever is interested. Most of the time, it is individual IP’s, but once in awhile I find an entire block of addresses that are infested with blog spammers.

5.3.0.0/16
5.35.67.28
5.62.39.251
5.101.140.237
5.157.7.155
5.157.11.84
5.164.0.0/14
5.188.210.7
5.188.211.170
23.81.229.20
23.90.36.193
23.90.36.206
23.90.46.0/24
23.94.162.0/24
23.94.162.185
23.106.237.0/24
23.229.69.201
23.229.114.88
23.236.132.210
23.250.23.114
23.254.83.219
31.145.42.190
37.115.0.0/16
37.153.168.227
37.187.96.78
37.220.22.131
37.220.22.178
45.59.156.226
45.72.23.245
46.118.152.0/21
46.119.114.237
46.161.9.0/24
46.161.14.99
46.188.211.170
52.178.197.34
63.3.203.161
63.155.88.80
64.31.242.114
67.197.224.240
68.180.75.18
72.255.26.248
73.201.55.118
76.179.207.40
78.203.146.14
81.2.240.252
82.117.72.0/24
82.244.207.109
84.127.31.247
84.238.38.57
85.10.51.18
85.57.128.0/17
87.239.248.8
88.150.182.240
89.32.251.0/24
91.200.12.0/24
94.46.177.153
94.102.51.78
95.78.0.0/15
95.216.141.155
96.8.115.24
98.144.161.18
103.197.168.17
104.227.32.28
104.250.226.0/8
105.184.5.170
107.150.23.219
107.152.161.202
107.152.173.94
107.161.31.202
107.172.15.136
107.172.35.248
107.172.45.253
107.172.181.98
107.172.255.40
107.173.68.0/24
107.173.241.237
107.175.38.0/24
107.175.151.41
107.184.214.228
108.174.59.119
109.230.220.6
109.230.220.218
117.0.0.0/13
130.185.153.253
131.161.8.0/22
134.19.65.254
134.119.189.54
134.249.51.228
134.249.141.24
138.128.13.46
138.186.137.232
146.185.192.0/18
155.94.234.218
165.231.45.11
169.50.62.0/24
172.245.73.13
172.255.83.0/24
172.255.83.140
176.109.241.177
176.109.176.146
177.73.212.192
177.83.254.232
177.125.20.176
177.140.100.200
177.193.58.134
179.157.13.111
178.159.37.18
178.159.37.112
179.210.129.125
179.217.27.0/24
179.218.80.118
183.111.197.226
185.36.102.0/24
185.44.79.247
185.93.183.185
185.122.170.25
185.122.170.111
185.158.107.140
185.182.48.6
186.31.113.122
186.42.185.94
186.220.76.119
186.205.68.217
186.221.203.67
187.23.230.171
188.72.96.193
189.60.121.0/24
189.63.147.37
189.122.235.69
191.101.108.191
191.176.58.191
192.3.24.114
192.3.142.86
192.3.203.58
192.3.244.12
192.168.160.163
192.126.168.176
192.186.159.239
192.186.177.251
192.196.157.9
192.210.165.2
192.161.163.190
192.210.185.248
192.227.209.254
193.33.187.70
195.154.233.33
195.181.160.68
196.196.92.245
196.196.94.210
198.12.68.49
198.12.104.59
198.12.123.132
198.20.172.68
198.20.182.179
198.23.177.90
198.46.225.4
198.46.225.7
198.46.228.250
199.21.115.68
200.107.253.130
201.52.196.252
201.82.173.17
203.245.8.0/24
204.86.19.245
212.92.107.0/24
213.87.249.138
216.116.9.58
217.120.94.39

The miracle of a modern education

I made a visit to the local Burger King the other day. My order totaled $10.63. I handed over a twenty dollar bill, a quarter, and four dimes. I knew that was a big mistake the moment I saw the cashier holding the coins in the palm of one hand, slowly pushing them back and forth with a finger from his other hand, a befuddled look on his face. He moved the coins about for about a minute, stared at the cash register knowing he had to enter the amount tendered, then finally he entered a number. I see the change due comes up as $9.57.  Sensing this just MIGHT be wrong, he asked the cashier next to him for help. Now two lines are being held up as this two try to figure out what to do next. Another minute passes by as the lines grow longer. Finally one of them asks a manager for help. She hands back the twenty and asks if the coins were my change. I explained they were my coins, but not the change. I hadn’t paid yet, that was just a part of the $10.63 I owed. She was confused and cancelled the order. I had to reorder. The lines are growing. Total is $10.63, change due is $9.37. I explain that no, it isn’t. You haven’t taken the five coins I handed over into account. Some more figuring. She hands back a ten.  Now we are making progress, but where is my other two cents? So I say I am still due two cents.  I don’t think she believed me, but tossed over another two cents just to get the lines moving again.

Normally, I wouldn’t care about two cents, one way or the other. But after spending about five minutes just trying to place a simple order, I wanted the two cents.

I know sometimes people can get nervous and forget how to make change, but this was ludicrous. The cash register is fully automatic. You enter an order, it pops up with the total due, in this case $10.63. No math involved. You enter the amount tendered, in this case, $20.65. The magic is done and it tells the cashier how much to give back, in this case $10.02. All that had to be done is to add $20 plus 25 cents plus 10 cents, plus ten cents, plus 10 cents, plus ten cents. $20, easy. It’s a twenty dollar bill. Now for the cents. Count 25, 35, 45, 55, 65. Was that really so hard?

If the three people involved were second graders, I would understand. They were all, presumably, high school graduates. What are they teaching now days?