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Fedex scanning

Chris Christie wants to track legal immigrants like Fedex packages

Fedex scanning

Republican presidential candidates apparently are in a feverish race to show how extreme they can be, and thus somehow grab headlines away from the media vortex that is Donald Trump. Chris Christie is the latest. He proposes to welcome legal immigrants to our country by somehow branding them, then monitoring them like a Fedex package. Somehow he thinks Fedex will be happy to do this for the government. No word yet on whether tourists visiting from other countries will be required to enjoy our freedom and democracy by being constantly tracked, but I’m guessing yes.

Fedex of course has relatively few locations. Packages are scanned at them. The Mouth from Jersey proposes that potentially millions of scanning stations be set up nationwide so the government could know that a legal immigrant went to a subway in Manhattan for lunch. This crucial piece of information could certainly help prevent, oh wait, it wouldn’t really help prevent much of anything would it. But hey, once such a system was in place then it would be simple enough to mandate that US citizens must use it too, all to protect us of course.

Chris Christie, speaking at a town hall meeting in New Hampshire on Saturday, compared legal immigrants to FedEx packages, arguing they should be tracked continuously by the government. Christie even promised to bring in FedEx founder Fred Smith to set up the system.

“At any moment, FedEx can tell you where that package is. It’s on the truck. It’s at the station. It’s on the airplane. Yet we let people come to this country with visas, and the minute they come in, we lose track of them,” Christie said.

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Hey, it makes a great PR slogan.

Google router requires giving Google access to your net

Hey, it makes a great PR slogan.

Hey, it makes a great PR slogan.

Google’s new router is indeed innovative. It has thirteen antennas, switches constantly to find the best channel, and more. However, it does automatic updates and monitoring from the Google mothership, and apparently quite a bit of seriously creepy snooping around. End users have no control over what Google does, what it looks at, and what data it sends home. Cringely says, if you’re ok with Google having complete access to your network, then go for it. He’s not so sure, saying “Whether Google is the best outfit to trust with that tuning and those updates is another story.”

Comments to his article from a Google router tester are illuminating and disturbing. The Google router tricks vpns and appears to take special interest in what it thought were Russian and Chinese networks. Inquiring minds want to know if the router is just more of Google and NSA being embedded together.

I was an evaluator for a third party of the box. Although all of my report is not for public consumption, here’s some highlights I found. Please note that this could change at any time since Google can update all or any of their routers:

1. DNS was fixed to Google public DNS. You had no choice.

2. Certificates go through Google.

3. VPNs appear to have a relay through Google that is undetectable to the VPN software end points. I found a latency between two end points on the router that could not be explained.

4. We placed it behind a firewall and into 9./26./29./30./ (I’ve only shown the IP V4 examples) networks to see what it would do when it found itself inside a “simulated” IBM, AT&T or DoD network on the wired side. We also tried Russian and Chinese IP V4 simulated networks. It went nuts transmitting discovery packets and some other encrypted payload packets. I believe that if your network addressing or topology is of interest, they’ll go after it through the wired connection.

I suspect they’ll insert advertising in the future and force search engine and storage selection.

I’d firewall it from any wired networks with devices performing sensitive functions or containing sensitive data.

Is this a router or spyware?

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Las Vegas never stops reinventing iself

Las Vegas never rests. The casinos are always renovating, innovating. 64% of Strip casino revenue now comes from non-gaming activities like entertainment, shopping, food, nightclubs, etc. In a way, casinos are like startups, not afraid to reinvent themselves or try something new.

The Tropicana sale for $360 million has been approved by the Nevada Gaming Commission. The previous owners redid it completely and brought a crumbling casino back to life. The new owners plan more renovations.

We definitely should salute Mr. Alex Yemenidjian [one of the sellers] for doing what many people thought was nearly impossible – he transformed the Tropicana from poop drooling, maggot infested, dirty bunghole of a casino, into a vibrant, fun, clean resort offering great rooms and decent gambling at a competitive value. Bon voyage!

The tired, aging Las Vegas Club in the downtown area has been sold to the Stevens brothers who bought the aging Fitzgeralds and turned it into the modern D Las Vegas, which is also downtown. The 86 year-old Las Vegas Club closed its 400 hotel rooms a few years ago and has clearly been staggering. It differentiated itself from other casinos on Fremont Street Experience by having a mostly naked hottie dance on the bar counter at the entrance to lure gamblers in, a ploy that clearly didn’t work.

Mandalay Bay now has 2 million square feet of convention space (and 20 acres of solar panels on the roof.) Vegas in now the biggest convention city in the US.

The biggest casino / hotel in Las Vegas is the combined Palazzo / Venetian, with over 7,000 rooms. The big casinos are small cities, with thousands of employees.

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Facebook Political Unfriending and Blocking Meter

Facebook introduces Political Unfriending and Blocking Meter!

Facebook Political Unfriending and Blocking Meter

Facebook is ready for the coming tumultuous presidential campaigns. Haterz gonna hate, and when you post in a heartfelt manner about the sanctity of your cause and candidate (and the idiocy of the opposition) only to be met by a tsunami of attack dogs, bots, and trolls, well, dealing with such dunderheads is time-consuming and pointless. It’s much simpler to unfriend or block them. Now you can watch in real-time the number of unfriendings and blocks after significant campaign events. Thank you, Facebook, for this important service!

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Florence Supermax cell

Ireland refuses to extradite to U.S. due to inhumane prisons

Florence Supermax cell

24/7/365 confinement. No human contact.

An Irish High Court Justice is refusing to extradite an alleged terrorist to the U.S. because our Supermax prisons are so inhumane they amount to “cruel and unusual punishment.” Ali Charaf Damache served five years in an Irish prison and says he wants to get on with his life. The US wants to prosecute him further and Ireland has said no.

U.S. Supermax prisons mandate virtually no human contact. Anmesty has called them torture and in violation of international law.

In her 333-page decision, the Irish justice said there “is compelling evidence” the Colorado prison is inhumane, citing affidavits from human rights groups and other records.

“I am satisfied,” Donnelly said, “that prolonged exposure to involuntary solitary confinement exacts a significant physiological toll, is damaging to the integrity of the mind and personality, and is damaging to the bodily integrity of the person.”

Thus, long-time allies of the U.S. are choosing to go their own ways.This trend will continue as our pretense of being a moral leader for the planet become increasingly ludicrous.

The Irish court’s refusal to extradite Damache adds to a growing trend of nations that opt to exercise their own sovereignty amid pressure from powerful American influence.

Such nations are increasingly moving to decide issues for themselves as they refuse to be persuaded into following the orders of a more powerful empire.

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Dogger Bank wind farm location

U.K. plans ginormous offshore wind farms

Dogger Bank wind farm location

When built, two 1.2 GW offshore wind farms jointly will be one of the largest in the world. Britain already has more offshore wind than the rest of the planet combined and now is building more. Meanwhile, the U.S. has labored mightily and finally built the first platform for an offshore wind turbine.

The U.K. authorized the Forewind consortium of four European utilities to build the joint-largest offshore wind project in the world.

The two 1.2-gigawatt wind farms, called Dogger Bank Teesside A&B, total almost four times the capacity of the largest operational project. They won development permission from the Department of Energy and Climate Change, according to a statement e-mailed Wednesday by the Planning Inspectorate.

If built, Dogger Bank Teesside A&B will include as many as 400 wind turbines, support hundreds of jobs in northern England and provide enough electricity for 1.8 million homes,

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dinosaur

Converting paleolithic DOS-based apps to Windows

dinosaur

Many companies, big and small, still run mission-critical database applications that were written in the 1990’s and run in DOS. Really! These apps won’t run in modern Windows, so the companies need 2003 Windows servers to keep these dinosaurs going. I’ve been working on a conversion for such an app for two years and it’s about to go live. The client just signed off on the final bug fix. Woo-hoo!

The client is a household name. The application performs crucial tasks for them. Because the code is so customized, it was not possible to buy off-the-shelf software in Windows to duplicate what it does. The system prints highly customized forms that must be perfect and which are used by thousands of their employees each year. A team of twenty does data entry and processing. The forms are created from user-created templates which merge the templates with HP print codes and often highly complicated function calls to generate the data, which is then written to a text file and printed. Whew. The code is complicated but it works. This is one of the challenges of such conversions. Sometimes legacy code must be used because of functionality that cannot easily be duplicated elsewhere.

Could the forms printing be done used modern tools? Yes. But this would have entailed a ground-floor rewrite and costs much higher than how I did it. Also users are used to how the system works now. One thing I’ve  found is users really want a new Windows interface however they want the data entry screens and procedures to look and work like the old system. I give them that (unless there is a pressing reason not to.)

Truly, I do get to look at a lot of hideous code while doing such conversions. My favorite was the original programmer would access lookup tables based on the current procedure name four levels down. If the code was moved, the routine would break. This hot mess has been replaced with dropdown menus.

So, if you have a dinosaur app that needs to be migrated to a modern platform, let me know!

PS My client has two other similar apps that will eventually need converting and already has a list for Phase 2 of this project!

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Building demolition

Battle lines being drawn. Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong

Building demolition

Something really disturbing is happening here. Polarization in this country is way worse than in the 1960’s. There’s no sign it will lessen anytime soon. More likely, the splits, rifts, and dividing lines will deepen. Yes, we all have our views and beliefs. But when opposing viewpoints are consistently demonized and vilified, when character assassination is the first choice of weapon, not the last, when our media deliberately fuels divisiveness because it’s click-bait which means advertising revenue, then Houston, we have a problem. This, I think, is what Buffalo Springfield meant by “Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong.” As we scream at each other, the abyss beckons.

The oligarchs and ruling class worldwide are for the most part corrupt if not degenerate (just look at the continuing pedophile scandal in the UK) and certainly are a major part of the problem. They don’t much care what happens to the rest of us so long as they make money and amass power.

In the 1960’s, even as cities burned and leaders were murdered, there was never a sense the country might split into permanent warring factions. Yet that seems to be what is happening now. Paranoia is striking deep indeed, along with paranoia’s good friends anger and fear. Toss into that mix millions of heavily armed people and chances are, unfortunately, there will inevitably be serious violence because sooner or later some group will nut up, causing a chain of counter-reaction violence.

Sometimes countries do fall apart. It doesn’t have to happen here. But I’m no longer convinced it couldn’t.

“There’s something happening here
But what it is ain’t exactly clear
There’s a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware

There’s battle lines being drawn
Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong
Young people speaking’ their minds
Getting so much resistance from behind

What a field day for the heat
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly saying, “hooray for our side”

Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you’re always afraid
Step out of line, the man come and take you away”

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Parowan half marathon

Parowan UT Half Marathon

Parowan half marathon
It’s 7 AM in Utah and the Parowan Half Marathon just started. This will be my fourth time running it. Don’t be fooled by the sylvan scene in the photo with the level road. The course starts at 8,200 feet elevation and goes down a steep canyon road for 13.1 miles ending in Parowan at 6,000 ft elevation. The scenery is spectacular much of the way, with big red cliffs on both sides. Woo-hoo!

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No more free rides

We all need to financially support websites we like

No more free rides

Ad revenue that used to support websites is plummeting. Vastly increased competition, sharply lower advertising rates, and ad blockers are the primary reasons. We all need to financially support content creators we like, especially smaller ones. If we don’t, many of them will simply vanish. The dream that the web can always be free, supported by ad revenue, was just that, a dream. The web can’t and won’t be free forever.

Tech video blogger Chris Pirillo has been delivering quality tech content since 1996 and is now using Patreon to attract people who will pay for his content. Prices start at a mere $2 a month. He says one webmaster tells him his page views are up 40% while ad revenue has dropped off a cliff. This is the problem many websites are facing now.

Getting attention for ANYTHING is challenging enough with valuable content available everywhere, but layering on top of that the problem of ad blocking, and you’ll see why indie publishers like myself are turning to ongoing crowdfunding campaigns to further sustain our efforts and offset our absolute costs (let alone, the cost of our time).

So, if you haven’t realized it by now: the only way I’m going to be able to continue to do this is by appealing to my core supporters. I currently only have one campaign on Patreon, but am working on bringing that value closer to my own domain and adding private forums for those who want me to continue doing the things I’ve been doing for them for quite some time.

Pirillo is not alone. Pando Daily has switched to a subscription mode for $10 a month. The No Agenda podcast fund-raises each show and after years of hard work and quality content you won’t hear elsewhere, probably averages about $6,000 a week, split between Adam Curry and John Dvorak. They have no advertisements.

I support Pirillo on Patreon, donate to No Agenda, and will be joining Pando soon. Support your favorite content creators with donations and contributions now.

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