Patrick's Rants


Design By Humans

3/1/2015

Rooted an LG Spectrum

Filed under: Geek News and Stuff — site admin @ 9:42 am

So my LG Spectrum – getting quite long in the tooth at over 2 years old – was beginning to really, really annoy me. Yes, I could still text and email, but when I was trying to make phone calls the darned thing would reboot. After it did it three times in a row I decided it was time to update the phone. Verizon doesn’t have any updates available. Add a discussion over on Slashdot about vulnerabilities in webview libraries that Google isn’t going to fix and I was ready for a “fix”, load my own, or someone else’s own, custom ROM. I had already “rooted” my phone using the script I found on the Android Forums. I had tried a few others, but the phone that I have, running Android 4.0.4, or Ice Cream Sandwich, did not get rooted using any of those methods. I had actually used ES File Explorer to uninstall some of the apps that come with the LG Spectrum from Verizon, NFL Scores and other things like that that I won’t ever use, also the Verizon backup app since I moved my phone to another carrier. The only way to uninstall those preinstalled apps is to have the phone rooted.

After the multi reboot scenario, I had totally had it with this phone. I wanted a newer OS so I tried one set of instructions, then another and ended up more or less bricking the phone and ended up at the store to get different one (different model, a bit lighter on software/bloatware, newer – but not newest – OS). I would plug it in and the button lights at the bottom would just flash. I ended up reflashing using the LG_Tools file LG Mobile Update from this thread(Direct link to LG support pages you can actually download software for quite a few different devices). The LG Tools required me to go over to the Windows 7 laptop whereas everything else can be run from my regular Debian box. So the Spectrum was now recovered to the latest OS version that Verizon had available. The OS, of course, now relocked as originally shipped. Now, with a working phone and my now backup phone, the Spectrum, I could tinker at will. Having tried various methods that didn’t work for me, I tried the method in the unlocked bootloader thread. This one worked! I now have a Spectrum running the CyanogenMod bootloader and Android 4.2.2. Due to the licensing of Google Apps, the Play Store and couple of others, I had to install an additional package from the CyanogenMod page to match the version of CyanogenMod running on my phone. And then, because I haven’t been able to get a newer version of CM to install, I had to find and install a newer version of the PlayStore app (mine would open and then close). I sideloaded the PlayStore and now have a very clean, very lightweight install on this phone. Now, what to do with it?

Oh, and my “new” phone? I didn’t take the time to research if I could install custom ROMs beforehand and it seems like I can’t. It’s a Kyocera Hydro C6750 that all my after-the-fact research shows has a really, really locked bootloader so custom ROMs aren’t likely. I will do more research before I purchase a newer phone. It can be rooted, though, so a simple install of App Quarantine keeps the things I don’t want from running. I could uninstall those apps since I have root, but sometimes bad things can happen on a factory installed ROM.


Local files:

9/30/2014

What’s your best email address?

Filed under: Geek News and Stuff,It's funny — site admin @ 7:27 pm

I just went to download a pdf report and like so many others it asks for my name and email address. Unlike so many others in the email address box are the words, “Please enter your best email address”. So I entered yourbestemailaddress@ this site… that’s what they asked for, right?

6/24/2014

Supreme Court Takes a Step to Partially Invalidate Patents on “Ideas”

Filed under: Geek News and Stuff — site admin @ 8:10 am

In an interesting, if long, posting over on VOX reviews the recent Supreme Court ruling regarding software patents. Take a trip over to read The supreme court doesn’t understand software and that’s a problem. Should there be a patent on 1+1=2? That’s the most basic form of this question.

6/21/2014

Filed under: Geek News and Stuff — site admin @ 7:25 am

Note to self: If you want the name of the fail2ban filter to show up in the email reports you have to spell the word “name” correctly.

6/10/2014

The Failure of a Mailing List

Filed under: Geek News and Stuff — site admin @ 8:27 am

Recently, I was asked if I could host a mailing list for a non-profit organization. Of course I told them yes. There has been a lot of back and forth discussion over six months or so to get things configured “just so”. Well. Things were not configured “just so”.

The thing is, all of the people whose email addresses we used were on a list provided by a governmental agency. Two things had to happen for someone’s email address to make it to this list: they had to actually provide it to the agency in the first place, they had to leave a box empty next to words similar to “do not share my email address publicly.” In other words, if you didn’t want your name and information to make it to this list you had to specifically ask that the information not be shared. I have filled out this application – and marked do not share. So my own information is on the full list but not on the publicly released list. And companies use this list for marketing and other purposes every single day.

This day was unlike any other day though. When the first email hit the wire (it was sent using Mailman mailing list software) I noticed a substantial slowdown of this server (well the server that this one replaced) immediately. The list had 21,000 email addresses on it. I was seeing loads of over 20, spiking at well over 30. When the load is at 5 things start to slow down. For a little perspective the load (as I write this) on the new machine is 0.00 0.03 0.00. There is one configuration check box on Mailman that would have made this an announce only list – which is what it really was being used as. That box was not checked.

Most normal people, me – and I hope you – would have treated this as an email to discard if you had no interest in the subject matter (it was for continuing education) and clicked on delete or even marked it as spam on their email program. Most normal people would have even recognized which list their email address was on due to the subject matter. In a group of 21,000 you will get folks from the whole spectrum. And maybe just a little less than normal. What actually happened was a few people hit reply (did I mention that the sender’s address was stripped and replaced by the mailing list alias?) Each reply of “take me off your list” went to 21k people. The cascade was at times humorous and at times sad. A simple, “hey would you stop sending me these emails?” was responded to by “I’m not sending you emails, I’m getting them too.” Times 21k.

One, very abnormal induhvidual, did the very clever thing of responding to each of the other eight or twelve responses with profanity and threats. The threats were mildly amusing in the amount of effort it took to track down names of people he felt were responsible and who might have influence. He called business offices of members of the board for the non-profit. He tracked my domain registration information and threatened to have my registrar “shut me down” on my voice mail. Well. I think he was smart enough to annoy people, but not smart enough to understand the law. The email, while annoying, did not reach the legal definition of “spam”. Yes, I have a lower tolerance for what I would consider spam, but we were well within the legal limits and only actually sent one email. It was the people clicking on reply who added to the storm. Yes, the list was misconfigured and should never have been set to allow posts by anyone other than the list administrator. I click delete on so many unwanted emails, I mark the ones that are clearly spam (made up addresses on my domain that come to the catchall address – I even have a few addresses sprinkled around this site to catch the bots) and shuffle them off so Spamassassin can learn from them. I don’t respond. If this were real spam, the act of responding is the real problem. Now someone knows the inbox gets read.

It took some fast typing on my part to get the machine wrestled into a more manageable state. I eventually set the list into emergency moderation mode (via command line – the web interface was non-responsive) and we started the cleanup process of not only the list, but of the server itself.

4/17/2014

Stomping on My (Red) Hat

Filed under: Geek News and Stuff — site admin @ 7:36 am

After much thought and (I thought) much research into the matter I decided to move to an Active Directory implementation for the office. It was not a decision made lightly and there are a few more pieces that have to be added to make everything work the way I want it. I was looking forward to group policy management, adding computers and users to the domain without have to spend too much time configuring accounts. Done right, Active Directory allows a single location for handling permissions and passwords. That’s the main thing I’m looking for – well that and some kind of certificate signon for our remote desktop logins.

My biggest concern was getting bogged down in the Windows Server 2008 implementation so I started by reading the Samba wiki Windows doesn’t like an external DNS, but I have a very customized DHCP/DNS server for the LTSP and I’m not moving that into Windows.

I managed to get Samba upgraded on the CentOS box and then…. Redhat Samba doesn’t work. At the time that I was attempting this, the encryption backend was still being worked on by Redhat and was incompatible with Windows. Really!? I ended up reverting to the prior install of Samba, which broke and I had to go through some magical incantations to remove cruft files and finally get Samba running properly again. I was so mad that I’ve only just now gotten to writing about it and some of the details have fallen out of my head*. Sorry. If you are going to use Active Directory on Redhat, just wait. It’s not ready yet.

One last glitch of installing Active Directory is Microsoft knows better than I do and disables Terminal Services because, you know, it’s safer that way. While I don’t disagree, that’s why I was trying to put AD on CentOS, that’s the only fuggin reason that I have Windows – to be able to use Windows (via Terminal Services). MS instead wants to force another server on me. Thanks, but no. We spent enough money on this server and I want it to do what I want it to do. It works for me. Maybe. There is a setting, buried in there somewhere (Google is your friend) that will allow you to re-enable the Terminal Services login.

So far I like the ability to join computers to the Domain and manage accounts and passwords in a central location. Create an account on the Domain and I can manage which computers the users have access to and I don’t have to go around creating accounts on laptops. If the laptop joined to the domain all a user has to do is login to it – if their account has privileges for the laptops. I have not joined my CentOS box to the domain, that is a task for another day. I do not, do not like. Absolutely hate might not be strong enough to express my vile hatred of Active Domain to actually do what some web sites say it can do (and I would love it if it did) and set policies so users would have a default printer and/or links on their desktops. This might work – I could have the wrong level of AD configured, but if it doesn’t work in the level I have it set at why the hell is the option there in the first place? It’s like having manual windows on your car, for future functionality the car company added the power window switch but the switch isn’t actually wired and the motor isn’t in the door cavity.

This is the kinda crap that makes computer Admins go absolutely nuts and joining some online role playing game where they hunt down Bill Gates or a likeness and beat him nearly to death but keep him alive so his suffering can continue. Cause you know, in real life it takes a lot of hams to get the gators to eat the body.

Just to be clear – in case I wasn’t – Samba should be ready to take on the AD role. Redhat broke it due to incompatible encryption libraries. Windows still fails in at least three ways that I normally would be using this software. (And I have a hard time figuring out where the hell all the configuration posts on the ‘net are referring to. Yeah, I’m an AD noob. When it takes 27 mufuggin clicks just to get close to where my screen looks like the one online – and mine still breaks!?… or doesn’t work, just as bad.)

*My initial draft was January 2, 2014.

4/13/2014

How’s This For an Honest Resume?

Filed under: Geek News and Stuff,Jobs — site admin @ 3:44 pm

The below email hit a mailing list that I subscribe to. If you are looking for a developer or looking to train someone to do things the way you do them consider David. He’s in the Phoenix metro area: newsletters@thetoolwiz.com

Hey, gang

I’m looking for someone who’s willing to save a ton of money by hiring a seasoned senior developer with a degree in math/CS at junior rates for 6 months while I learn something new.

I need some temporary work NOW — or even something that will lead to a perm position. I can do 1099, C2C, or W2 with full bene’s.

I’ve got $100 in my bank account and am behind on all of my bills. I’ve been out of work since late July and unemployment ran out at the end of March. I’m breathing fumes.

The problem is I’ve gotten pigeonholed and can’t even get interviews. I’ve got TONS of GREAT experience, just not the “right combination” of tools and recent experience that anybody is looking for.

(This is the downside of spending too many years doing one thing and working for employers who value that but won’t let you work on anything other than that. I’ve done stuff “on the side” but none of it seems to count because it’s not “on the job” experience.)

EXPERIENCE

I’ve managed Linux servers; written lots of php code that spits out HTML (mostly 4.0); patched WordPress plugins and themes; written protocol drivers and stacks; configured systems and networks, and fixed networking problems that nobody else could figure out; set up lots of web servers and websites from scratch; have experience on cPanel, Plesk, and other control panels; lots of MySQL and other SQL DB experience.

I spent many years doing embedded systems development and machine control stuff. I love it! I’ve got real-time in my blood. (This is particularly beneficial when it comes to designing databases because I naturally tend to cluster data based on temporal coherence, which most database designers ignore. This alone can have a significantly beneficial impact on database performance.)

I’ve written tons of scripts in c-shell, k-shell, and Bourne shell, using most of the common *nix tools like awk, sed, grep, diff, regex, etc. My perl skills aren’t too good, and I’ve got no ruby or python experience. My javascript is so-so, although I see it as mostly just an interpreted variant of ‘c’ (with which I’m fluent); just a little experience with js libraries.

My web skills can be described simply as this: I do back-end stuff — php and SQL, filtering, parsing, the usual data shuffling; not anything that relates to eye-candy. (I’m NOT a graphic artist, don’t know ANY Adobe tools, and have absolutely NO aspirations to go in that direction. There are PLENTY of GREAT graphic designers out there; the world doesn’t need one more. Partner me with someone like that and we’ll kick butt!)

STRENGTHS

My strengths are software architecture, analysis, design, and development in and around OOP platforms: c/c++ and Delphi (object Pascal). I have some C# and .NET, but not enough to make anybody want me, although I’m happy to learn more. (It’s not a steep learning curve IMO.)

In particular, I’m very good with any kind of design that needs to work at several different levels — not just standalone apps, but apps that need to read databases over the web, do remote updates, distributed applications, real-time filtering and data extraction, and so forth.

I’m a quick learner.

I ran configuration and release management for a couple of years on several comercial projects. After that I worked on an IEEE/ISO standards committee that defined a Guide to Software Configuration Management (IEEE/ISO 1042), and I got experience with every version control tool on the market at that time (late 80’s – early 90’s). Since then, I’ve yet to see a VCS that’s not a variation on one of three basic themes. (I could set up an SCM and release policy for your company or some projects, for example)

I’ve got 2+ years of Agile/SCRUM experience; have managed projects of up to 5 people; have taking ideas from back-of-the-napkin sketches through to production release — on-time and under-budget — and everything in between. No customer support or QA, however. I’d be happy to be a SCRUM-master or Project Manager (or apprentice).

I can read Java but have never written any; again, I’m happy to learn. (There are so few Delphi books around that I have to read Java and C#/.NET books to learn about the latest programming paradigms that apply equally well in Delphi.)

I’ve set up a a few dozen websites that sell stuff online, using several different scripts. They all used PayPal to process payments, but I didn’t write the code for that part. I’ve also worked with a couple of commercial shopping cart scripts; no open source ones, tho.

I’ve got TONS of Wordpess experience, having worked with lots of free and premium plugins and themes. I’m a member of WPMUDEV if it matters. I’ve set up multi-user / networked WP sites, membershp sites, had custom plugins developed, and have tweaked plugins and themes.

GOALS

I’d love to get into mobile app development, but I don’t have sufficient java or Objective-C experience (although I’m totally willing to learn).

Actually, if you know of anybody who needs mobile apps built from scratch but doesn’t want to pay for two developers (Apple and Android), have them call me — I can deliver both apps from the same source code base (Delphi) at half-price and probably less time than either of the others. (And no, I have not published anything on either the AppStore or the PlayStore yet, but it’s not a big deal from what I can tell.)

Ultimately I’d love to get back into an Architect role — that’s the kind of work I enjoy most. Taking an idea, building a vision around it, then giving it birth.

Obviously, I’m over-qualified for every junior position out there, yet not quite qualified for anything anybody is looking for at the senior level.

I NEED TO LEARN SOMETHING NEW that gets me some “on-the-job experience” so I can get out of this frigging hole I’m in.

Here’s a copy of my resume for anybody who’s interested:

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/8250004/DPSchwartz_2014-Resume.pdf

I *REALLY* need to find someone who’s willing to hire a seasoned senior developer at junior rates for 3-6 months while I learn something new.

Surely there’s a start-up or somebody in this city who’ll see this as a screaming deal all the way around!

Thank you for your willingness to help out a fellow traveller!

-David Schwartz

PS: feel free to re-post this on other lists / newsgroups if you think it will help. Thanks!

PS: If you’re a RECRUITER: find someone who’ll interview me FIRST, THEN call me. Out-of-state positions will require relocation assistance.

3/26/2014

Sort of Takedown Notice

Filed under: Geek News and Stuff — site admin @ 8:00 am

I got an email asking me to remove a link or to mark it as nofollow from someone who runs a website that I linked to in a fairly old post. The email was polite enough, but I was “threatened” with:
/Regretfully we will be forced to submit, websites not complying with
our request, to Google using their Link Disavow procedure. *This may
have an adverse effect on your site.*/

Oh really? Disavow? Sounds like Ethan Hunt’s instructions just before the playback media self-destructs. Since I wasn’t sure why someone would want a link removed, especially a footnote to an article/post that I wrote on a totally related subject, I decided to look up the technical contact for the domain in question using whois and emailed the technical contact regarding the request. I was assured that the request was valid, but the original sender didn’t appreciate me circumventing his email address, Why would you email my partner when I sent you an email from the same domain as the link to remove? I didn’t actually respond to this query, the answer wouldn’t have mattered to him.

After a few back and forth emails, I finally responded that I believe the links are covered under fair use and that I wasn’t going to change them. The post in question actually was related to the linked to site and I used material from the site to help form the opinion in my post. How is this detrimental? Not sure. According to Google’s Webmaster Tools answer page on their disavow backlinks tool one should not just use the tool at risk of great peril

This is an advanced feature and should only be used with caution. If used incorrectly, this feature can potentially harm your site’s performance in Google’s search results. We recommend that you disavow backlinks only if you believe you have a considerable number of spammy, artificial, or low-quality links pointing to your site, and if you are confident that the links are causing issues for you. In most cases, Google can assess which links to trust without additional guidance, so most normal or typical sites will not need to use this tool.

Perhaps they don’t like something else I wrote on the site or even some of my opinion in the post (all covered under the first amendment) and they can do what they will with their own site, just, you know, Google says don’t. 🙂

2/3/2014

Asus Windows Tablet thingy

Filed under: Geek News and Stuff,Goofy Commercials — site admin @ 7:54 pm

If you believe the commercials disparaging the Chromebook that Microsoft has been running lately then the ASUS (one picked at random) totally beats a Chromebook because you can’t use the Chromebook without the internet and you can’t install Office on it either. So now Microsoft is trying to leverage Office to force people to continue using Windows? What a twist from back in the day when Microsoft illegally leveraged the monopoly of Windows to force Internet Explorer and Office. I’m no fan of the race to the cloud (which Microsoft is doing too, by the way) but looking at this description of the Chromebook:

“Chromebooks run Web-based apps, not traditional PC applications.
Chromebooks are designed to be connected to the Internet. You can create documents and spreadsheets or edit photos on a Chromebook using Google apps designed for these purposes. The Chrome operating system will not load and run traditional PC software like Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop. However, files created in these applications can be viewed and edited using Google apps on your Chromebook or cloud-based applications like Microsoft’s Office web apps.

However, files created in these applications can be viewed and edited using Google apps… or cloud-based applications like Microsoft’s Office web apps.

Yeah. So you “can’t install Office on it”? So what? And you can’t use it without an internet connection – WiFi. Not completely true, but when was the last time you tried to send an email without being connected to the internet?

Kind of a lame attempt Microsoft. It might ring true with some people, but not here. Don’t get me wrong, Google is becoming the Goliath, too. I don’t want my documents on Office365 or in Google Docs.

5/20/2013

Easy Debian Install

Filed under: Geek News and Stuff — site admin @ 5:16 pm

Only a couple of steps to have a dual boot machine running in no time. I haven’t actually checked my Windows XP partition because everything is working smoothly.
Debian win32-loader works great. Click on the link to download, then install and run. It asks you to reboot and then runs through the install process. It’s easy. I was extremely surprised. I had Debian installed on a newly purchased surplus machine and it’s running quite happily – and my office is sooo much quieter.

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