Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category
For quite a few years I resisted the temptation of setting up a wireless network at home. Story after story suggested that WiFi is a crappy, unstable, and awfully insecure set of technologies. Finally though things seemed to have settled down, and with WPA2 the wardriving stories ended.
So a couple of years ago I went against my instinct and embraced the convenience of wireless networks. I thought I had secure setups, using WPA2 only, but recently I found out this is not enough.
I switched away from that lame ISP called Rogers to ElectronicBox (a DSL provider), and I returned the wireless router to Rogers. To replace it I bought a new router and set up a new network with the same SSID and password.
What a shock I got when every WiFi device in the house with the exception of my Slackware laptop happily connected to the new hotspot! That basically means that if someone else set up a wireless router with the same SSID – all my devices would happily send my password to that hotspot. Yay! Even if the password is hashed – that is some scary shit.
Now I have to spend hours reading about Wireless security again, and require PSKes or something to avoid such nonsense. Piece of shit stupid crappy garbage technology..
I was planning to go on a long trip on my bike, and I needed to bring luggage. The trip was long enough and I needed enough stuff that putting it all in a backpack wasn’t doable.
I shopped around for such a rack but didn’t find anything at a price I was willing to pay, so I built one myself. It was really a piece of cake, anyone can do it with just basic tools. Here’s the result (it was dark when I finished it so this is the best photo I have):
It held up for over 6000km of rain and shine, highway and gravel, so structurally the design is sound, and the colour you can pick yourself :)
- 1×1 aluminum angle from home depot
- The same or 1×1/4 metal angle for the cross-bars
- A piece of plywood
- 6 bolts with nuts
- Primer intended for wet surfaces
- Mitre box
- Hack saw
- Wood saw if your wood isn’t the right size
- Power sander
- Paint brush
Whatever you decide to do – remember the rule about measuring seven times and cutting once. This was my plan, I used the cardboard piece as a measuring helper:
Step 2: front bracket
There are two main pieces to the structure: the rectangle-shaped supports. The two are not the same, this following one I used for the rear:
You have to be careful cutting stuff with the mitre box – best to draw a line for your cut, just to make sure you’re using the correct slot. When doing the two cuts making a V – make sure to leave a bit of room, so the two cuts don’t touch. Maybe just a bit less room than I left.
Then you bend it by hand. The aluminum is definitely breakable, so bend it slowly and only do it once. If you have to unbend it – it will probably break off. Luckily the cut you made will guide the bend so this is not hard to do properly.
Step 3: rear bracket
The rear piece is much simpler, two 90-degree cuts instead of four 45-degree ones. here they both are:
Step 4: triangles
In order to have it solid like a rock – you need to make triangles. So these two rails are almost enough but not quite. Together with the bike frame and the wood they make a rectangle, so we just have to add a diagonal line. (in the photo below it’s clamped to the wood just to help me make a nice hole):
Step 5: platform
If I had a grinder I would have rounded the corners. I was worried that they would rip a bag or clothes, but I got lucky and they didn’t. Now for the platform:
I drilled the holes wherever I felt like, but after tying the bags to it with bungee cords I realised I should have measured the distance between the hole and the edge of the board based on the size of the hooks on the ends of the bungee cords. Still, this worked.
I knew it would get rained on a lot, and given that it’s plywood I didn’t trust it to stay together after that. So I bought the most water resistant primer I could find, sanded the plywood really well, and put 3 coats on. After it was dry I painted it from a spray can, but you can use any kind of paint.
That’s it! My bags were heavy but not too heavy so this setup worked. If I wanted to put much heavier bags on – I would have added another triangle behind the rear bracket, to make sure the plywood doesn’t crack.
As part of an exercise in a course I was taking I was required (or at least strongly encouraged) to create a Twitter account and learn to use it. I figured why not, might as well see what it’s about, maybe there’s something I’m missing. After a few days I decided I wasn’t missing anything and stopped using it.
Then I get an email from Twitter saying something like “Hey, you haven’t been using Twitter enough, come use it more, it’s great!”. Oh I don’t like being talked down to, especially by a stupid algorithm from a stupid service. So I went back and made sure I clicked the “don’t ever bother me again” checkboxes. Annoying, but what are you going to do, most users are idiots and unfortunately crap like this actually works.
A few days later – I get another email, almost identical to the first. Now I’m pissed. Now it’s doing things I explicitly asked it not to do, and that’s supposed to attract me? Pfft.
Now my twitter account is going the same way my Facebook account went – deleted. I don’t even see a reason to ever try it again.
A set of circumstances have left me with a lot of time on my hands. I’ve spent some of several days reading back posts on Garth Turner’s blog. He got kicked out of the conservative party so probably isn’t a total asshole.
I started reading it because of my interest in real estate, and the obscene rise in housing prices in the last several years. But reading his rants for a few months back I’ve now got even bigger concerns.
I’m sure everyone has seen the “save your money” commercial (even I have, though I don’t watch TV). And I bought the idea. My risk tolerance is zero, and I’d 100% rather not lose money and not gain interest than take risks on investment portfolios that may return 10% or may cost the same.
But things have changed since I started building up my savings. The savings account interest has been at 1.5% or lower for years, but the inflation is steady at 3%. That means I’m losing 1.5% of my savings every year.
To add insult to injury I’m paying taxes on the 1.5% interest (even though it’s actually a 1.5% loss). So after taxes I’m making 0.9%. That means after taxes I’m losing 2.1% of my savings every year.
That makes me want to cry.
What choice do I have? Get a portfolio and risk losing everything quickly, or slowly lose everything over a long period of time?
I guess I shouldn’t complain too much, there are plenty of people who lost their life’s savings in the stock market, at least I have.. 100/2.1.. roughly fifty years to lose it all. I should research how compound negative interest works :)
I don’t think it’s a great idea to blog about my finances but this one surprised me so much I’ll share this personal piece of info with the internet: on the 29th of January this year I had an ING Direct account.
Last saturday (in the middle of the night) I wanted to log in to ING Direct. I don’t remember why, but that doesn’t matter. The website would not allow me to log in, at all. It gave me the following message:
ING DIRECT – save your money
Sorry for the inconvenience…
ING DIRECT is currently undergoing a planned temporary outage for maintenance on our web site.
If you have an urgent issue, please call us at 1-800-464-3473. If it is more convenient, please return later today to complete your transaction.
Alternatively, if you have an ABM card and you require immediate funds, you can access your money at any of the 40,000 Interac® connected bank machines across Canada.
We value your business and apologize for any inconvenience. Thank you for your patience during this time.
Nous sommes désolés de cet inconvénient
ING DIRECT a interrompu temporairement son service afin de procéder à l’entretien de son site Internet.
En cas d’urgence, veuillez communiquer avec nous par téléphone à 1-800-464-3473. Si vous préférez faire vos transactions par Internet, nous vous invitons à revenir sur ce site un peu plus tard dans la journée.
De plus, si vous êtes détenteur d’une carte de guichet automatique et que vous avez un urgent besoin de liquidité, nous vous rappelons que vous avez accès à votre argent par le biais d’un réseau de quelques 40 000 guichets automatiques InteracMD répartis à travers le Canada.
Nous sommes fiers de vous compter parmi nos clients et nous nous excusons de tout désagrément qu’une telle situation peut engendrer. En vous remerciant de votre patience, nous vous prions d’accepter nos plus cordiales salutations.
And so you don’t think I’m kidding, here’s a screenshot:
I didn’t know what to think. There’s the green bar, so it was likely the real website. But surely “planned maintenance” was a bunch of bollocks. A branchless bank that has a single interface to its users (the web) cannot possibly have such an antiquated website that they need to take the whole thing down for maintenance?
It’s been down for hours at least. Can you imagine Google or Facebook or any other major internet website going completely offline for so long? And why should they? There are plenty of (now old and established) technologies and processes that allow live maintenance, upgrades, repairs, and even disaster recovery. How could it be that ING Direct does not use these?
And if it was planned, why did they not let me know in advance? It was not an emergency but I did call them to ask what the fuck is going on, the guy basically refused to tell me. He claimed this is common regular maintenance and it happens about once a month. Really? And if it’s planned, why did I not get any notice about it?
I googled several parts of the text in that error message. Found one reply to a thread in 2008 mentioning it. And that’s it. Does this really happen every month and noone bothered to mention it in a blog post or discuss it in a forum of some sort? Were they forced to take their posting down? They better not try such crap with me.
I suspect this was a major system failure, quite likely to do with security. It’s a bad idea to keep your users in the dark about major problems. I have savings there, and they may be CDIC insured, but I’m not looking forward to try and claim my savings from some agency I never had to deal with before. The last thing ING should want is me wondering (in public, on my blog) whether my savings are safe, whether the ING Direct website is secure, and whether their IT staff are completely incompetent.
I’m not even saying full disclosure was necessary. But don’t treat me like an idiot by claiming this was planned website maintenance. Shame on them. I can’t wait to get rid of my savings (buy a house maybe) so I don’t have to worry about such bullshit.
I have to do research for school. I’ve been told many a time don’t use Google. Now Google is giving me a reason to be pissed off.
When the search results come back with PDF files – I don’t get to see the link to the PDF where it actually sits, the link I get is in this form:
Are you joking? What is the purpose of this? Is it to make me google it every time? Is it to track when I click on the results? Did some asshole think this protects IP? Rather than reformatting that URL for my records I might decide using the library is easier.
In newsgroups and many mailing lists top-posting (putting your reply above the text you’re replying to) is a big no-no. You’ll get flamed even if what you say is very useful, constructive, and nice. I’ve never quite understood the zealotry, but I figured: whatever, it sort of makes sense – someone says something, and then you reply to it.
But in regular email I have noticed many, many people write their reply at the top of the message. Until recently I had no idea why.
Last week I got a Blackberry. It’s a nice device, but it has a really small screen compared to a computer. When you open an email on a smartphone, you want to read what matters (the reply in most cases) right away. Scrolling to where the reply begins is painful and very time consuming.
Hm, I nearly posted something educational rather than inflamatory on my blog.. Now if I can just find a way to write blog posts from my Blackberry I may actually post more than once per month. And don’t give me that retarded Twitter crap.
I’ve been pondering how one may be able to get rid of spam. Not just what comes into my mailbox, but most spam everywhere. And I found such a simple solution it’s amazing I haven’t heard of it before. But of course it will never happen, so that probably explains it.
Spammers rely on that sending even extremely large volumes of spam is nearly free. It takes some effort to find a nice relay and/or create a small botnet, but following that every message a spammer sends is free. I don’t have the statistics handy, but the ‘positive’ response to spam is something like one for every hundred thousand messages sent.
Now imagine it cost five cents to deliver an email. That means to send 100k of messages the spammer would have to pay 5000$, which would make the business not feasible. How easy a solution is that!
And yeah, I know – gmail filters all the spam for you, and the wrong infrastructure is there, and some people would actually mind paying 5 cents to send an email, but I think it’s a great idea anyway, even though it is unlikely to happen in this form in my lifetime.
Some people don’t get this, and they’ll never read this blog post, and there are too many of them to contact individually, so this is just me complaining with no purpose.
When I give you my email address – I give you my address. I only give it to people because I have no desire to filter spam manually, and I have an even lesser desire to have automation delete important mail.
It’s ok if you share it with someone who would like to get in touch with me. It’s not ok to put it into any website that’s not a webmail. I recently got an invitation to facebook. Now facebook knows my address, and I have a feeling some place somewhere it publishes it, or it gives it out to third-party marketers. Or maybe facebook is unusually nice, but you get my point. Do you know what happens as soon as an email address is available in plain text on a public website? I get start getting spam, that’s what.
I have disposable addresses – asmithXX and I bounce the number whenever the ammount of spam becomes unbearable. It does happen. my asmith15 (which is published all over the net on mailing list archives and such) now gets 200 spam messages a day, I stopped reading it completely.
Why do you have to fuck up the one address that doesn’t have a number, the one address that cannot be changed unless I change my name? You insensitive pricks.
Yes no kidding – I feel strongly about this. But no, this isn’t the only thing bothering me right now. Expect another post once I figure out how I can express my dissapointment without giving out any details I would rather keep to myself.