Almost Wrapped

Another year, this time 2021, is nearly complete. It was an interesting one as the product I’ve been working on since 2016 finally arrived for some folks in limited quantities: the PlayStation 5.

It was also another year of covid lockdown. This curtailed many of the activities that I would have been doing, including flying. On the flip side, I’m much better at video conferences than I was a year ago, so that’s something?


Hacked? Not Likely

After years of manual tweaking, maintenance, sub-par hosting, outages and hacks I decided to pull down my long running website (this one) and switched to a local install of WordPress. The goal: to eliminate a lot of pain doing software upkeep and to eliminate an attack vector for opportunistic internet individuals looking to make a quick buck.

Did it work? Well the site you are looking at now is all static pages, so there’s nothing more to attack. All scripts and executable code has been removed to my local install where it is relatively safe, then it is rendered out to plain HTML and uploaded here. From what I can see, the amount of attacks and issues that I previously experienced have already gone down.

However, there is this nice reminder of the old times, which arrived in my inbox just 24 hours after this site was updated:

I nearly fell out of my chair when this arrived. Not only did I just change up everything that could have been “hacked” into on the site, but this was a straight up extortion email asking for USD $2000 in order to “keep from destroying my reputation” based on information they somehow found in my “sites database”. Which wouldn’t normally be funny except for the fact that the site has neither a database nor any reputation damaging information on it.

It’s a nice reminder that the internet can be a pretty nasty and inhospitable place if you are running insecure or badly managed services on it. So be careful out there, kids.

Cars Humor

CCC Part 1

My Craigslist Crapshoot Car search continues.

This is the story of a guy selling a 2006 IS350 for $11K. He lives about 45 mins away from me, so some planning must go into travelling to see the car. Yesterday as I was driving to see the car, he cancelled the meet while I was half way there. Later that day, he tried to reschedule for 8pm in a dark shopping center parking lot, which I declined. So late last night we finally agreed on a meeting this morning at 10am. I decided to arrive early this time, and again he emailed me about a half hour before the meeting asking to reschedule. I told him no, I was already there waiting. So about 10 minutes after we were supposed to meet, and after his second attempt to skip it, he finally showed up.

As soon as the car rolls up, I think I can see why his preferred meeting times are after the sun sets. The car is not in the same shape as the photos. If I had to guess, the photos were from when he first purchased the car a few years ago. The car before me has many more miles of wear and tear than the photos that were posted showed.

There are many visible scratches on the driver, passenger, front and rear of the car. They mostly appear to be rubbing or car vs object rashes of some kind. Fine, it’s got some wear, so I’ll do the walkaround check out anyway.

I notice that the car is still running, so I asked him to shut it off. He refuses and muttered some kind of excuse that I didn’t catch. I start asking about service history, fluid changes, that sort of thing. He says he *thinks* the oil was changed recently but can’t be sure. He has no service records he can show. He says he’s the second owner and did no mods to the car, but I can see several of them.

The front bumper is falling off on the passenger side of the car. I ask about an accident. He says its probably from parking scuffs. Right, because light taps on a curb rip screws out of things.

The wheels are some kind of oversized aftermarket thing, and they are scraped up on all four corners. I ask if he has the originals, he says no, and that he also asked for them from the original owner, who changed them.

He mentions something about the tires being too big, which looks odd to me because the sidewall profile looks right. Then I look past the tires and see that most of the wheel well cladding is missing from both front wheel wells, and some is missing from both rear wells. I ask about this and he gives me a shrug and says that the original owner said that the wheels were rubbing, so his fix was to rip out the material it was rubbing on… not to change the wheels back.

I keep investigating, looking for leaks, oil stains, etc. Coming to the driver side I find the rear wheel and the front wheel are both missing one lug nut each. I ask about this and again get some kind of muttering about the car occasionally shakes, but that’s just how it is. He then remarks that he had a flat and had to change it, so that’s probably why the lug nuts are gone.

Finally, I come to the interior of the car. In place of the top of the dash, there’s some kind of cloth cushion cover thing, spanning the entire dash area. I ask about this and inquire about the melting dash, which is a known Lexus thing. He says no, he doesn’t have this problem, but this was put on for protection. I can take the cover off, he says. I try, but find that there’s a giant strip of Velcro that spans the entire front top of the dash, door to door, to hold onto this cover.

At this point I’d had enough, packed up my stuff, and got back in the truck. He asked if we were going to take a test drive and I said no, I wouldn’t drive a car in the condition that this one is in. He wanted to know if I would make an offer on it. I said I’d think about it.

I did think about it, for about 15 seconds. There’s no way I would buy a car that is that poorly maintained with that little care given to it. I now understand why it’s on Craigslist and not AutoTrader or

Site News

Hacking (of this website) sucks

Well this bites. I just found out that this website, my personal one, had been hacked or attacked and spammers had filled the pages with ads for who knows what. What was interesting is that I couldn’t notice any of this by visiting the site myself. Only after viewing the search results page on Google or Bing or DuckDuckGo did I find it.

Since this is a shared hosting setup, all of the other sites I managed were also hacked, and that’s where the real problems were. The other sites have far more traffic, and thus were bigger targets for the hackers. They were so well broken that in the end I opted to move them to another host and start over (with the core software, not the site) rather than battle with Google over the “Clean or not” state of the site.

All in all, a pretty terrible thing to find out. Hopefully it doesn’t happen again.

Site News Work

Next New Thing is Coming

I have a new job, but it isn’t real quite yet. More about that later.

Site News Work

On to the next thing

My time at the GM job has come to an end. What comes next is anyone’s guess, but if I have to be honest I am hoping for at least a little bit less snow and cold.

Rants Technology

Updating / Downgrading Windows 7

In preparation for the arrival of Windows​ 10, I did the unthinkable and re-installed a hard drive in my system and re-loaded, from DVD no less, Windows 7. It was a painful experience that I don’t recommend to anyone, but I learned some things that were lost for a while:

  1. Hard drives as your primary boot disk suck. I had forgotten this in the move to SSD drives a few years ago. Everything you do is slower on a hard disk. If you aren’t running an SSD as your main drive, go out and and buy one RIGHT NOW.
  2. Additionally, I had the second 2TB Western Digital (WDC) SATA drive die in about a week, as I did this process. That meant that not only are hard drives slow, they also fail all the time. I haven’t had this problem with a single SSD yet, and they are in some cases older than the HDDs they are replacing.
  3. Installing Windows from scratch is unnecessarily lengthy and painful. On several systems I have had to setup Ubuntu or Linux Mint from scratch and in all of them I was fully operation within an hour or so. Win7, on the other hand, took all day to load, reboot dozens of times, accept EULAs, patch and update.
  4. If you have to scratch install Windows, please use WUInstall. It is a time saver (after I found it) and made the many hours of updates run with very little human intervention.
  5. Modern PCs have lots of complicated and specialized hardware. Running an older OS required downloading driver installers for everything, and many of them required service packs and add-ons from Microsoft. Sometimes to move ahead we need to leave the old behind, and device driver installers should be left behind. Run new OS’s, people.
  6. Considering how painful this upgrade process is, I have a better understanding of why the PC industry continues to shrink. Compared with the pain of updating, patching, installing and fixing all of my hardware was, running out to buy the latest phone or tablet is blissfully simple. And when the OS updates come over-the-air for those devices, they are many times smaller and faster than any PC update process known today.

In short, don’t do what I did unless you have a lot of time and patience or enjoy searching around the internet to learn why your shiny new PC doesn’t work properly.

House Technology

Tough Year for Hard Drives

In the past 8 months I’ve replaced no less than five separate hard disk drives, all SATA and all relatively modern vintages.  Not sure what’s happening, exactly, except that all but the most recent two were under warranty at the time.  Maybe the new Michigan climate isn’t compatible with long lived drive life?


General Humor Web Links

My entry…

… into the current “Sad Batman” meme craze that’s sweeping the internet.  Enjoy?


Sad Batman is sad at the dragon Corvette
Sad Batman is sad at the ‘dragon’ Corvette.

Cars General

3 Cars to 1 Car

It has been an interesting 24 hour period when it comes to vehicles.

Starting on 4/25, I sold the 2005 Infiniti FX45, my treasured commuting and skiing companion during the end of my California tenure.

Then on 4/26, I sold the 2006 Chevrolet Corvette Z51 coupe, my first true, new from the factory car and my weekend fun vehicle. It was my occasional valley carver and fun day toy.

Now I’m down to the current company vehicle, a 2014 Chevrolet Silverado LT truck.  It possesses neither of the FX’s or C6’s charms, but is a useful hauler of people and stuff.

I enjoyed my time with both the FX45 and C6, but I hope that I have helped them find good, new homes. Both will be missed.


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