Incoherent ramblings

Attack took out my godaddy hosted wordpress blog for most of a day.

May 29, 2020 Incoherent ramblings No comments , , , , , , , ,

Guilty admission: The title of this post is click-baity, as the attack was not likely on my blog, but something colocated on the server that my blog happened to have been hosted on.  In particular, the math, physics, complaining about COBOL, rants, and other random garbage that you’ll find on this blog does not likely warrant a DOS attack.  This isn’t the story of my offending somebody enough to get DOSed, but is just the story of a painful interaction with godaddy customer support.

I used to use a wordpress hosted blog, and eventually decided that I wanted flexibility enough to pay for hosting.  I experimented a bit with amazon hosting, but the variability in price scared me off, and I ended up buying my hosting from godaddy.  I don’t remember anymore what other options I considered, nor why I ended up settling on godaddy’s “managed wordpress” offering, over any others, although low initial cost was a factor.  That hosting has generally been problem free, but their IT support, when there is trouble, has proven to be less than desirable.  Here’s that story in case anybody else is considering using godaddy for their own hosting.

Yesterday, I happened to notice that my blog was completely unresponsive.  I only noticed this because I wanted to make one small change to one of my pages.  All told, to get this resolved, I spent about 3 hrs with their IT support (1/2 last night, and the other 1/2 today).  Ironically, by the time I got to the fifth support professional, the problem resolved itself.  I am glad that I don’t run any sort of business off of this site, as the downtime was at least 16 hours.

My 1.5 hrs on the godaddy IT chat support with Parjeet, Jaspreet, and Shibin was a complete waste of time.  Parjeet (who’s name I am probably butchering, since I didn’t keep a copy of my chat log with him) managed to get the blog restarted.  However, it appears that he also disabled all the plugins at the same time without telling me.  He also didn’t identify the root cause.  Jaspreet insisted that the issue was the content I was hosting, even though that content was not an issue before yesterday.  He gave me various self help options (plugin tuning, …) despite the fact that the blog was performing abysmally even with all plugins disabled, and had been okay prior to the reboot, and despite the fact that even the admin pages were slow, which have nothing to do with the content being served for normal blog page or post content.  He also was not able to identify the root cause, and I insisted on dealing with his manager at that point.  That claimed-manager was Shibin, who was helpful seeming, but was not able to do anything, nor able to find somebody who had access to the server logs to diagnose the issue.  When I gave up for the night, he promised to email me the results of his investigation, but no such email materialized.

I was busy with work all morning, and at one point when I had a pause in my day, I thought of checking whether the response time issue had cleared up.  It had not, and the blog was still effectively down today, with 30 second response time for any page access.  Because of the complete ineffectiveness of godaddy’s 24/7 IT chat support, I opted for a half hour on hold to be able to talk with somebody directly.  With headphones available, that time on hold wasn’t a write off, since I was able to keep working the day job — but I have to say that godaddy has some of the worst “on-hold” music that I’ve ever heard!  Once I was finally off hold for the first time today, my support guy (I got today’s support guys names mixed up, and only recall that one of them was named Joshua) investigated what he could, and ended up having to pass the buck to their tier II support, because he didn’t have access to the server logs.  That put me on hold for another hour or so.  When I finally got to deal with somebody who had access to the server logs, the blog coincidentally became responsive without any intervention.  It turns out that there was an attack on one of the servers.  Either that attack, or the godaddy throttling that was instated as a response to that attack finally abated when I was on hold waiting for the tier II support.

The godadday response to an attack is pretty deficient.  If the server that your blog is running on is attacked, they throttle the performance of that server to mitigate the effectiveness of the attack.  The idea is that the attacker will eventually just give up.  That is done apparently done at the server level, and not just for the instance that is under attack.  It seems pretty dumb that godaddy doesn’t migrate the VMs that happen to be unfortunately colocated with attackee onto another physical host.  That’s not a good sign for anybody that wants a service that requires continuous uptime.

When I bought godaddy’s hosting initially, I do remember that it was one of the most cost effective options.  The godaddy hosting price went up considerably sometime after the first or second year of initial service, but I haven’t taken the time to figure out how to migrate to something else.  Perhaps amazon is worth looking at again? Basically, I’m allowing myself to be exploited financially a bit because the time cost to figure out how to migrate to other hosting is probably higher than the monetary cost of the blog hosting itself.

The support interaction that I had over the last two days might be enough of a kick in the butt that I’ll take the time to look at other hosting options, and how to do a migration.  One thing that I do recall was nice about amazon was they offered ssh access to the machine.  I only get sftp access on godaddy, which can be a pain in the butt, and is very inflexible.

You might wonder why I even bothered switching from wordpress.com hosting, which was free.  I did that to have the flexibility to install my own non-wordpress.com sanctioned plugins.  For somebody who is crazy enough to blog a lot of mathematics, that was very worthwhile, as I’ve been able to run a customized version of the Mathjax-Latex plugin, which renders very nicely, and allows me to replicate many of the latex macros that I use.  That streamlines my latex-to-wordpress conversion considerably, and has saved me many many hours.  That saving is in comparison to the time that would have been required to blog the same mathematics with the default wordpress.com latex plugin.  Recently, I also installed the Mathematica Toolbox plugin, which looks like it will allow some fun interactivity, much like the original Wolfram CDF plugin had before it became useless and eventually was no longer supported (i.e. it only worked in 32-bit browsers.)  So, I don’t think that I’m going to go back to wordpress.com hosting, but it’s definitely worth some investigation of the options.

How absurd: facebook marketplace has promoted me to arms-dealer.

April 7, 2020 Incoherent ramblings No comments , ,

I tried giving away some of Lance’s old model rocket stuff, but facebook has determined, even after appeal, that I am an arms dealer:

My listing description was:

Rocket launching base and trigger, a few engines (2x B6-6 and 2x 1/2A3-T4) and igniters, and some recovery wadding. The metal post that was originally on the launching base got lost somewhere along the way, but any straight conductive rod of the same diameter should do the job.

Available for porch pickup (M4X1C2, cabbagetown: Parliament and Wellesley)

The message from them, after my appeal, specifically says that this has been determined to be a weapon:

It’s been a long time since I’ve been in trouble with the law for weapons sales (there was that time back in grade 3 when I made the best ninja stars in my school and opened a little business for myself.)  I used to call myself a drug pusher when I worked for Bowles pharamacy, making sure that all the little old ladies (and that super stinky guy at 59 Edgewood) got their fixes.  Now I can add arms dealer to my resume along with drug dealer.

Incidentally, if you want some old model rocket stuff, including 4 weapons grade engines, please send me a message, and you can have it.

Inka brand “coffee”: a silly nostalgic find

March 10, 2020 Incoherent ramblings No comments , , , , ,

Dad was never functional before his morning coffee.  He usually headed down to the “Goof” for his fix.  He’d complain bitterly that it was horrible coffee, but that didn’t stop him from drinking it daily.  When he didn’t go to the goof for his fix, he’d stand beside the percolator like a zombie waiting long enough that he could interrupt it and pour his first cup of the day.

Dad, who survived on coffee and cigarettes while seated long hours at the glass blowing torch must have known you could have too much of a good thing.  So, when he’d finished mainlining coffee for the day, he switch to Inka brand “coffee”, a roasted grain beverage.  I didn’t know the brand was still in business, but blundered upon it today at the local grocery store:

I was looking to buy such a roasted grain “coffee” mix today anyways, as I’m now old enough that coffee after 7:30 pm equates to a high probability of a night of insomnia.  Finding dad’s old brand triggered a surprising number of memories, and provided the perfect way to cross off that shopping list item!

Falling victim to youtube clickbait: Sociologist claims “Math is racist”

January 24, 2020 Incoherent ramblings No comments , , , ,

I made the mistake of listening to the following stupid interview while eating lunch today:

This was a stupid interview, and was probably just designed to piss people off:

  1. The premise itself is asinine.  There have probably been racist applications of all fields of study, but that does not imply any intrinsic racism.  Individuals can be racist, but it takes extraordinary circumstances to make a subject racist.
  2. The interview format was ridiculous.  If one makes the unlikely assumption that there is some sort of nuanced view to the thesis, how can somebody be expected to explain it in 4 minutes in an aggressive and confrontational interview?

Sadly, it sounded like the interviewee actually did want to make the claim that “math is racist”.  However, she was actively trying to bend language to her will, redefining racism in the process, which is both lazy and pathetic.  It seems to me that it is profoundly immoral to attempt to use words that have historical baggage, words that invoke an emotional reaction because of that history, and then do a bait-and-switch redefinition of the word under the covers.  It’s like playing the magician’s game, distracting somebody with the left hand, while the tricky right hand palms the coin.

What would racist fields of study actually be?  How about the research programs of the Nazi doctors, or US military radiation experimentation on blacks in the ’50s [1].  Those I’d call racist research programs.  To use abuses of math to call the subject itself racist weakens the term to the point that it is meaningless.

The 4 minute constraint on this interview was also pointless.  I don’t have any confidence that the interviewee would have been able to provide a coherent argument, but this sound bite format made that a certainty.  Calling that an interview is as ridiculous as the thesis.  Kudos to the interviewer for quickly calling her on her BS as it was spouted, but he should be ashamed of trying to fit that “discussion” into a couple of minutes.

<h1>References</h1>

[1] William Blum. <em>Rogue state: A guide to the world’s only superpower</em>. Zed Books, 2006.

Some adverts from 1930’s and 1940’s Argosy pulp magazines

December 29, 2019 Incoherent ramblings No comments ,

I have a whole pile of 1930’s and 40’s era pulp fiction magazines that I bought when I was a kid.  I’d read all the Tarzan books and was also raised in a Scientology household where LRH was revered, so I hoped to buy some of the original Argosy pulp fiction mags that I understood featured both these authors.

I asked at my local used bookstore if they had any such magazines and was told yes, but “If you want them, you buy the whole box.”  The bookstore owner didn’t want to haul the box out of the back storage room, have me flip through them, not find what I was interested in, and then have to put them all back.  I basically had to buy the whole lot sight unseen.  For $15 I ended up with a giant box that had a whole bunch of Argosy magazines as well as a whole bunch of “Blue Book” (a “magazine for boys and men”.)  I didn’t score the Burroughs nor the LRH that I was hoping for, but they were pretty neat nonetheless.  Plus there were a couple 1910’s era magazines that I also scored, which I thought were worth the $15 just by themselves.

Despite how cool I thought these mags were, the bulk of them have languished in boxes (kept from degrading in comic book bags), for years in various basements.  When my latest move was pending, I thought it was time to get rid of some of them.  They didn’t move on kijji nor facebook-marketplace, but I gave a few away to people who came by the house, and have now also started sprinkling some of these around various Toronto “Little Free Libraries” in the new neighbourhood.

The aspect of these magazines that I like the best are the ads.  Here are the ads from two 1936 issues and one 194x issue (both of which now live in a neighborhood little free library.)

weird match.com identity theft?

November 29, 2019 Incoherent ramblings No comments , , , ,

My gmail inbox was filled with “Like” emails from various guys this morning, and it appeared that somebody had created a new match.com profile using my gmail address:

Weirder still, the identity using my email address, was that of a woman:

I don’t understand the motivation of using my email address, since I was able to use that email address to submit a password change.  At that point, I was able to see that the profile was for somebody purporting to be an Australian.

In the time between changing that passsword to lock out the originator of this profile, and switching it to ‘not visible’, the password appears to be reset again.  I’m not sure how that would be possible given that the password change confirmation emails were going to my gmail account.

This made me wonder if match.com is populating itself with fake profiles, and they’ve now switched this one to use a different email address?  That theory seems to be substantiated by the following article about an FTC law suite against match.com for the use of fake profiles.  Looks like their angle is getting people to purchase paid subscriptions after seeing that there was interest in the fake profiles they generated:

“According to the FTC’s complaint, Match sent emails to nonsubscribers stating that someone had expressed an interest in that consumer. Specifically, when nonsubscribers with free accounts received likes, favorites, emails, and instant messages on Match.com, they also received emailed ads from Match encouraging them to subscribe to Match.com to view the identity of the sender and the content of the communication.”

Assuming that this case is not yet resolved, it’s pretty clumsy of match.com to continue to play the same scam.  It’s also pretty clumsy of them to use a female identity for me, but I guess my name is non-standard enough that they didn’t know what to do with it (either that, or they just take a lazy 50/50 chance when creating their fake profiles.)

 

EDIT: managed to re-reset the password, long enough to figure out how to shut down the identity.   Before I did so, I grabbed a screen shot of “my” profile:

I see that the “Profile Hidden” that I selected the first time I logged in was still selected.  I also tried changing the email address associated with this profile to one that I use only for spam, but match.com won’t allow that without also knowing the birthday that they used to create the fake profile.

Celebration of “killing in the name of” day.

November 11, 2019 Incoherent ramblings No comments , , ,

November 11th, known as “Remembrance Day” in Canada, is pretty much intolerable on social media.  We are inundated with flags and blind patriotism, pictures of veterans posing in the formations of their original invasion pictures, inane comments like “he died so I could live”, “the price for freedom” and other similar obfuscated war propaganda.

This is the day for the inhuman celebration of the killing of the unnamed enemy, forgetting that that enemy had a face.  This is a day for forgetting that the enemy was also coerced into fighting in the name of their worthless governments or country, just as the veterans of North America were.  This is a day for forgetting to do causal analysis for why the wars were fought.  This is a day for forgetting that war is actively sought for profit, and how evil political puppets of war profiteers lie their way into wars on behalf of their countries again and again, regardless of what side they are nominally on.

We’ve all been touched by the wars of the 20th centuries in many ways.  My VanaEma (grandmother) and my dad effectively lost most of their family, their homes and their heritage, and were refugees in Finland and Sweden.   Having lost his real father, my dad ended up abused and damaged by his first step father, a drunken beast who thankfully died in a fishing accident.  If there had been no world war, he would have had a home, his real father, his country and family.  Dad lived a lot of his life seeming displaced, and not fitting in.  VanaEma’s final husband was stuck mentally in his WWII experience, and talked of nothing else, reliving that trauma again and again by inflicting it on anybody around.  I think that is why my VanaEma ended up needing a hearing aid — so she could shut off her husband.  I don’t celebrate the war that led to all this trauma and displacement.

I don’t think that I personally know any North American veterans of the war, but know of three in my family circle that were made to fight on the German side of the war, all damaged mentally.  Two of those men went on to damage their family as they lived out their PTSD, initiating a cycle of abuse that still has an impact today.  The thing that we should remember is not the valor and the glory of war, but the evil of war.  This should not be a day of triumph and celebration of victory over the enemy, or flag waving, or the mindless propagation of the fable of the “Good war”.  We should remember that we had two times in the last century where millions of people fell for the propaganda and coercive conscription imposed by their governments that had them fight and die for wars that should never have been fought at all.

There is no good side in the mass mobilization of men for war, only death.

 

A mostly useless Jeffrey Epstein document from the FBI

October 18, 2019 Incoherent ramblings No comments ,

The FBI appears to have made a mostly useless document release about Epstein.  The only non-trivial, non-redacted content that I could find in the first 16/21 of these documents was a black ink purchase order and letter describing it.

The three last documents appear to have some interview notes that might be of investigatory interest, but it appears that, in the interest of protecting a dead pedophile, the FBI has redacted almost anything that could possibly be incriminating.

Jeffrey Epstein Part 17 of 21:

pg 91

went upstairs
stayed downstairs
introduced herself
Jeffrey came down in robe introduced himself
paid 200.00
paid 300.00
paid 200.00
and told her

pg 167:

A friend
do you want to make 200.00

go to million or billion
house

pg 169:
JE said that he knew models
that was the reason
he was going to

pg 170:

times each friend
told then
They went on it

171:
want to go back
won’t do it again
w/ a week or two
called
Gave # to JE

172:
JE provided advice about
– What to eat – salad
not ????/or drink
drink lots of water
exercise

173:
JE paid 200.00

174:
He asked her to

175:
they would want me to
didn’t like

176:
went to JE
given to me from cell
anymore

==============================
Jeffrey Epstein Part 18 of 21:

pg: 10
Help him
Holiday break – X mas
JE purchased ticket
tickets to
Picked her up
Inverviewing?
Bottle of champagne
casual asking @ schools
new … about it
talked @ traveling to help w/ school
bathroom in residence later
office
limo

pg 11:
have … for dinner
limit
went home to
JE
JE
unconfortable
left
don’t worry about school
Theought that meant he would pay
talked to

pg 12:

Got to know you better
finalize plans for summer
bought ticket -> ? paid for it
someone picket her up she did not know
Friday -> Sunday
little drive
Some discussion about where she was going to be staying
JE said she will be staying with US
thought JE

pg 14:
Bought popcorn/cokes
seeing them again -> doign the trip etc
did not want to mess up things for
herself and/or
before x-mas > Months prior to flying to NM
JE called once
$4000.00
+ few hundred dollars

[there is more in this particular pdf to review — more notes from interviews.]

==============================
Jeffrey Epstein Part 19 of 21:

– a bunch of photos (recieved 2011), scanned in black and white instead of grey scale. What isn’t redacted is pretty much impossible to see.

 

Are mandatory #AmberAlert messages less than useless?

October 2, 2019 Incoherent ramblings No comments , , ,

I received two supremely annoying Amber alerts on my phone yesterday.  They appear to be specifically designed to maximize intrusiveness, which is quite counterproductive, as the natural response is to shut down the incessant pinging as quick as you can. I’ll elaborate on why I consider that these alerts have no value (actually negative value) below.

The thought and action process to deal with the alert is modeled by the following internal dialogue: “Gaghg … what the hell is that noise!?   Grab, swipe, clear.  Thank god I wasn’t wearing my headphones!”  I got a passing glance at the message in the process, enough to see that it was an Amber alert, but no more.

This was pretty much the same process as dealing with an accidental press of that stupid red panic button on a car key fob — you know the one, it’s always triggered because you are trying to hold your keys, phone, and two dribbling travel mugs in one hand, and a backpack, garbage from the car, and a bag of groceries in the other.  Like the Amber alert, the panic button just triggers more city noise that is ignored by everybody.  It’s been 30 years since car alarms have had any value, but for some reason, instead of just getting rid of them, the manufacturers have supplied an easy way to trigger then accidentally — but I digress.

When yesterday’s second Amber alert triggered, I knew the drill and was able to silence it quickly without even having to look at it.  It was time to turn to google and see if there was a way to avoid these.  It appears there’s a way to do that on an android, but for the ancient discarded iPhone-6s that I bought for $50 USD (and probably even newer models), I appear to be out of luck.  There’s a CRTC ruling that mandates these messages, and phone providers are not allowed to provide a mechanism to disable it. They are also sent with a priority so high that their intrusiveness is off the charts.

Ironically, making the message so intrusive, means that the rush to shut it off means that you loose any chance to actually look at the message.  This is a classic example of a government policy backfire, as the policy has the exact opposite effect than the intention.

Later in the day, having struck out with google, I noticed a an #AmberAlert hash tag beside my twitter stream.  My thought was, “Perfect, there’s got to be people who know how to deal with this there”, and I posted

There were a couple helpful responses, and the rest basically conformed to expectations that one has for the worst Jon-Ronson “So You’ve Been Publically Shamed” style twitter responses:

Reading those reactions, you’d think that I’m an advocate for kidnapping and abduction, perhaps child sex trafficking, and pedophilia too.  How could I be such a piece of shit heartless fucking bastard?  Why would I want to avoid a tiny inconvenience when kids lives are at stake? Sigh.

It is striking to observe first hand how easily people are willing to take up arms to shame somebody for a cause, despite not knowing anything about their thought process, or any possible nuances that underlie the perceived offense. It’s truly thoughtless mob mentality.

Understanding that so many people are unfortunate victims of media stranger-danger fear-porn, the vitriolic reactions of the people above make some sense.  Like useless car alarms, we’ve had 30+ years of the media pumping it’s danger is everywhere story.  Fear sells exceptionally.  However, all the worry that’s been drummed into us about the black van at the school taking off with the kids has been shown again and again to be unsubstantiated.  Most kidnappings are by family members, largely related to custody issues.  Kidnapping is the conflict resolution strategy for desperate white trash trailer park inhabitants who aren’t smart nor sober enough to realize that a split second decision of that nature will only backfire and result in no access to your kids, plus considerable jail time.

Unlike car alarms, media stranger danger carping is not just an annoyance, but has massive social consequences.  I’ve now lived in three Markham subdivisions in the last 20 years, where walking the streets would make you think that you are living in a retirement community.  There are no kids playing.  The parks and the streets are empty on weekends and after school.  Kids are kept corralled in their houses, or only let out for carefully supervised play.  This fear has also become institutionalized.  I know one mother who was afraid to let her 10 year old son out to play at the park alone or try to recruit friends for unsupervised park play, because she was worried that she would be vulnerable to a child protective services induced confiscation of her son.

I know that the media and fear of CPS aren’t the only factors that are keeping kids from outdoor play.  Video games, TV, and phones now also compound the problem.  We have a couple generations of effectively lost kids, who are all experts on the characters in the 10 Netflix or YouTube series that they’ve binge watched, in countless video games, or other useless knowledge sets.  They aren’t kids who know how to  play with each other, start conversations, get into fights and make up, or even look each other in the eyes.

The AmberAlert, in my eyes, is just another conduit for media related fear porn.  It is also useless.  I’ll never know anybody who’s name flashes by in an AmberAlert, not on my phone, on media, or one one of those highway signs.  I’ll never know anybody who knows somebody related to an AmberAlert.  The chances of one of these messages being relevant is effectively zero.  I probably have a better chance of winning the lottery.  If I look at 50 Amber alerts, there will be a 50x times more chance that it is relevant: 50 x 0.00000000001 = 0 — just like buying 50 lottery tickets.

You can find plenty of Amber alert advocates that claim they are effective, but it’s not hard to find research that shows the opposite.  One such example is this “After 20 years of AMBER Alerts… Are They Worth It?” research gate interview with Timothy Griffin, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Asked about the success rate of the program, he states: “However, in my reading of the data, the number of children whose lives have been saved by AMBER Alert ranges from zero to something very close to zero.”, and as expected “These cases do not appear to typically involve apparently life-threatening abductors. Rather, they are far more often deployed in familial/custodial disputes and other cases not suggestive of life-threatening peril to the abducted child(ren).” I defer to that interview for other interesting facts, none of which were surprising to me.

The truth of the effectiveness of Amber alerts probably lies in between the glowing stats of the Amber alert advocates, and the more data driven conclusions of Prof. Griffin — but I’d guess the facts are much more strongly skewed towards the conclusions of Prof. Griffin.

Regardless of the effectiveness of the program, not allowing an opt out mechanism for these messages, nor any way to regulate priority, is a strategic mistake by the CRTC, who appears to be pushing the value of this program. Setting inappropriate priorities gets you ignored. In a corporate environment, think of the pencil pusher who sends all his ISO-9001 process conformance emails with urgent priority.  You set up a rule in short order to put all emails from that person directly in the trash.

Even if you believed that these alerts were helpful, Amber alerts depend upon an “everybody sees it” strategy that is actually crippled by making these messages mandatory and in your face. The end result is that people will delete without reading, just to silence the offending noise. The probability of even the limited possible success of the alert program is thus sabotaged. The small subset of people who will actually read the Amber alert text, and feel that it is important to do so, is made even smaller by the CRTC policy that enforces “can’t be ignored” and “can’t be prioritized”.

Book sales stats: slow and steady

September 2, 2019 Incoherent ramblings No comments

I don’t have full stats for all my kindle-direct sales, but am surprised how steady the sales for the GA book have been

Jan 1- March 31 2019 April 1 – June 30, 2019 June 4 – Sept 1, 2019

Geometric Algebra for Electrical Engineers

24 24 26

Statistical Mechanics

3 2

Relativistic Electrodynamics

2

Classical Optics

4

Quantum Field Theory

2 2

Condensed Matter

1

Graduate Quantum Mechanics

1

Some of the earlier sales were to family members who wanted copies, but the rest are legitimate.