Category Archives: technology


story pole update –according to what george braddock says, they didn’t have any native assistance during the design part. i think that’s horse-shit, but george is one of the people who would know, so i’m torn… although i’m leaning heavily in the direction of horse-shit. also, david lewis, the cultural anthropoligist from the confederated tribes of the grande ronde, obviously doesn’t know that there actually were haida people involved, and that they’ve got the blessing of both haida and kalapuya elders. not only that, but the kalapuya, who are native to the area, didn’t have permanent art, because they were nomads, so it’s not really any kind of cultural appropriation. it sounds very much like this guy is in the camp of the lady who is behind this whole thing. 😐

and so, once again…

and so, once again, the battle of (someone else’s) computer has come to an inconclusive end.

i still have one open ticket with the VPN folks: they updated the VPN software for the tablet, which means that now it’ll connect after i reboot it, but if it comes disconnected for some reason, the only way to get it to reconnect is to reboot the entire tablet… which, while better than not being able to connect at all, is still a major hassle. i’m not holding my breath that it’s going to get fixed soon, as my current tablet can’t be upgraded beyond a version that is three full versions behind the current one… 😐

my email works — or, rather, isn’t giving me timeout errors every time i send email. monique’s email is working again, although she’s lost her address book and her signature files, and the two mailing lists of which i am in charge, seem to be working, with third-party verification. i’m also paying about twice as much as i was with the old host provider, but, with the new host provider, i’m actually an “official” reseller, which means that, now, i have access to WHM, which i never have before… but i’m not sure, at this point, whether or not it’s a “good” thing. at this point, i have updated all of my domains’ MX records to the new host provider (something i was never able to do before), without knowing for sure whether or not i have done the right thing. at this point, two days later, it still works as far as i have been able to tell, nothing has broken as far as i can tell, and nobody has complained to me that their shit isn’t working, so i’m nominally calling it complete, but i wish there were some way that i could be sure…

the battle…

the battle of other peoples’ computer started before i left for the fair.

about a week before the fair, my (now former) host provider decided to move the machine on which all of my web sites live from californa to florida. in the move, they somehow freaked out my VPN, because it started giving me an error that said “socket operation timed out” whenever i tried to send email. i could receive email just fine, but no sending.

and, because of the fact that the VPN isn’t SUPPOSED to interfere with normal network functions, i didn’t suspect that was the cause.

then my clients started reporting intermittent email failures. so i contacted my (now former) host provider and inquired about answers to what you would expect to be their problem (since they are, now “were”, my host provider).

as the week progressed, there was also concern that my scheduled web maintenance (which i wanted to have happen before the fair) was not possible, because of the ongoing problems with the web server, combined with the host-provider-support-drones who couldn’t speak english, answered (or not) only one question at a time, and who persisted in giving me scripted instructions for how (not) to fix the problem on a windoesn’t machine.

fortunately, most of my clients were also at the fair, and couldn’t access their email anyway. i gave up after being there one day, and only getting spotty WIFI coverage on my personal hotspot.

when i got home, much to my surprise, the ticket i had opened to fix the problem had been closed, but there had been no “fixing”… they closed the ticket because i hadn’t responded to it in three days, not because they had fixed the problem. almost as though they thought, if i wasn’t there to harrass them, there wasn’t a problem that they needed to work on.

i reprimanded them, and proceded to deal with my, now worsening, email problem. macque couldn’t access the list, monique’s email was spotty at best, a number of people said they had “given up” on getting messages to the list, and i STILL could only receive email, but not send.

i tried to deal with the now former web host for another week, getting less and less actual information, and more and more frustrated with my inability to communicate in anything like english (which strikes me as somewhat odd, given that it’s a british company, located in london). finally i had enough, and switched host providers…


it’s been about five years since i switched to EZPZ and ended my spree of switching host providers about every 6 months for a couple of years, and, at first, they were cheap AND excellent host providers… but in the past couple of years, i guess they must have outsourced their support, or something, because suddenly their tech support got CONSIDERABLY worse, and their language skills steadily decreased to the point where i would have to, DELIBERATELY avoid asking more than one question per ticket, in order to get anything close to a complete answer…

so, i switched host providers about a week ago. they quickly diagnosed my VPN problem, and got monique’s email working, sort of… but i forgot that i don’t have complete control over all my domains (Rev. Guido DeLuxe is actually the owner of two of them), and, instead of getting better, monique’s email problem actually got worse…

and the new host provider — ionblade — had conveniently forgotten to add “mailing lists” to my cpanel, so the two mailing lists i manage were completely offline…

and, meanwhile, i had to explain to macque that sending to “official-list-owner” sent mail to me, while sending to “official-list” sent mail to the list, and, because of the fact that i couldn’t send email, i couldn’t actually do something sensible, like forward his message… and even if i had been able to forward his message, i would have gotten a bounce also, because the FUCKING EMAIL LIST WAS DOWN!!

i actually helped them diagnose the VPN problem: i learned that i could access webmail at hybridelephant, but that it forwarded me to their server, and i could send from that, which i did for about a week. then the VPN updated, and quit working all together on my tablet, which meant that i had to do the “run-around” on my linux box when i absolutely HAD to respond to someone. basically, i took the message to which i had to respond, responded in my email client, copied the message, switched to a browser with webmail open, hit “compose new message” and pasted the message into that, in order to be able to send. when i couldn’t do that, either because my computer was down for the night, or i didn’t have access to it, i would use the browser on my tablet to respond. at some point within the past few days, it dawned on me that if i could send from webmail from port 80, even though my VPN was up, maybe the VPN was getting in the way, so i tried disabling it, and — lo and behold — the message went through. i enabled the VPN again, tried sending a message, and “socket operation timed out”. disabling the VPN made the message go through almost immediately.

so, i opened TWO tickets at the VPN provider, one about my tablet, and one to find out if there is some way to un-block my SMTP service on port 465. i (FINALLY) convinced the (new) host provider to re-add “mailing lists” to my cpanel, and, like magic, i suddenly had email lists that work (i think) again.

i (still) have two open tickets with the VPN provider, but my impression is that if they’ve got a bug that affects the connection of my tablet, it has probably struck a lot of people with similar tablets, so they’ve got a lot to deal with.

and i’ve still got web updates to get to, but the web update guy says that they can wait for a month or so, at which point there will probably be more anyway…

raghr! 😠

i got back from OCF to discover that the email problem i had when i left was still there, and EZPZ had closed the ticket, because i wasn’t there to egg them on.

it’s still broken, so i decided to switch host providers… AGAIN! 😑

some day, everything will just WORK, and there won’t have to be providers that don’t know how to fix things… 😐

i’m really glad…

the computer industry has been a-twitter for the past few days, concerning a zero-day “bug” in micro$lop word, which gives an attacker full execution control of the victim’s machine — a Very Bad Thing®.

this reminds me of a couple of things that i experienced, more-or-less first-hand, while i was working at micro$lop, and is the PRIMARY REASON why i’m really glad i don’t run machines with their software on them.

there’s this, which outlines what the “bug” is, and how it allows an attacker to take control of a victim’s machine (i put the word “bug” in quotation marks because bugs are usually things that appear in the code by mistake, but it is my impression that micro$lop put this in deliberately, without realising the potential damage it could do)… which brings up the fact that they have known, particularly, about security problems with OLE (which went through a stage where they were referring to it as “ActiveX”), at least since my friend, and computer-god fred debuted The Exploder Control in 1995, which did a clean shut-down of any machine unfortunate enough to be running Windows95 — PLEASE NOTE: the Exploder Control is not harmful, and will not run correctly unless you’re running Windows95 and Internet Explorer version 3, which, by this time, presumably, you’re not. fred’s premise was, and still is, that if you have a method of excersising THAT MUCH control over a machine, it better well be FULLY AND COMPLETELY SECURE, otherwise people WILL take advantage of it.

i worked at micro$lop when the first Word Concept Virus was discovered. it was unique (at the time) because it allowed an attacker to infect a victim’s machine over email, without actually having to have physical contact with the target machine. it worked by utilising micro$lop word’s “” template, and required the victim to have macros enabled by default. the new, most recent word problem doesn’t require macros to be enabled, and doesn’t work if the application is running in “Protected View”. so, the solution micro$lop has come up with is to recommend that you run word in “Protected View” in order to avoid this particular vulnerability.

it is significant, to me, that the primary reason we have things like active antivirus software on our computers today is because of actions taken by the micro$lop corporation when i worked there. when i was working there, they were the largest manufacturer of computer software in the world.

and it reminds me of the solution micro$lop came up with to avoid another “bug” in another one of their “excellent” programs, internet explorer: version 3 exhibited a flaw in the way that it displays URIs in the address bar, and by opening a specially crafted URI an attacker could open a page that appears to be from a different domain from the current location. the solution? “Do not click any hyperlinks that you do not trust. Type them into the address bar yourself“… despite the fact that one of the features of all web browsers is that you can get from one source of information to the next, easily, without having to type in long, unintelligible strings of code.

Rule of thumb — Every time Microsoft uses the word “smart,” be on the lookout for something dumb.
     — John Walker

A little detective work revealed that, as is usually the case when you encounter something shoddy in the vicinity of a computer, Microsoft incompetence and gratuitous incompatibility were to blame.
     — John Walker