Category Archives: geek stuff

HTML formatting in email is EVIL!!

i know, i’m fighting a losing battle here, but it has to be said… ๐Ÿ˜

when you send email, the person who receives it has to play along with your rules, or they don’t get to read what you had to say. that’s the bottom line.

when you send an email that is formatted using HTML, you are assuming that your recipient has an email client that is “smart enough” to interpret the HTML, otherwise the message looks something like this:

<body>
    <table width=3D"620" cellspacing=3D"0" cellpadding=3D"0" border=3D"0" a=
lign=3D"center"><tr><td bgcolor=3D"#F0F0F0">
      <table width=3D"578" cellspacing=3D"0" cellpadding=3D"0" border=3D"0"=
 align=3D"center">
        <tr>
          <td height=3D"16"></td>
        </tr>
        <tr>
          <td>
            <img src=3D"http://s.ytimg.com/yt/img/email/digest/email_header=
.png">
          </td>
        </tr>
        <tr>
          <td height=3D"16"></td>
        </tr>

        <tr>
          <td align=3D"left" bgcolor=3D"#FFFFFF">
            <div style=3D"border-style:solid; border-width:1px; border-colo=
r:#CCCCCC;">
              <table width=3D"578" cellspacing=3D"0" cellpadding=3D"0" bord=
er=3D"0" align=3D"center">
                <tr>
                  <td height=3D"22" colspan=3D"3"></td>
                </tr>

                <tr>
                  <td width=3D"40"></td>
                  <td width=3D"498">
                    <div style=3D"
  font-family:arial,Arial,sans-serif;
">
                                <table cellspacing=3D"0" cellpadding=3D"0" =
border=3D"0">
    <tr>
        <td bgcolor=3D"#FFFFFF" align=3D"left" width=3D"50">
          <img src=3D"https://yt3.ggpht.com/-qroilmK3p5o/AAAAAAAAAAI/AAAAAA=
AAAAA/iFjUrN4F6lA/s50-c-k-no/photo.jpg" height=3D"50" width=3D"50">
        </td>
        <td width=3D"16"></td>

      <td>
        <div style=3D"
  font-family:arial,Arial,sans-serif; font-size:18px; color:#333333; line-h=
eight:24px;
" height:"59" dir=3D"ltr">
         =20
<a href=3D"http://www.youtube.com/attribution_link?a=3DUIzdYgZkFkg&u=3D/cha=

most people could probably read it, if they took a while, but it’s really frustrating…

also, HTML formatting takes a simple phrase like “i’m on my way. see you soon.” and turns it into two or three pages of, for lack of a better term, GARBAGE to one who doesn’t have an email client that is also a browser…

now i know that most email clients these days have software that renders HTML incorporated into their inner workings, including mine… but the important difference is that while my email client came with the ability to render HTML turned on by default, one of the first things i did was to turn that ability OFF, and here’s the primary reason i did so:

if you write an email message that is formatted by HTML, when you put in a URI, you also put in some “descriptive phrase” that is “automatically” linked to the URI, like this — <a href="http://www.somewhere.us/">descriptive phrase</a> — you don’t actually write the code out any longer, because the software does it for you these days, but that’s what it amounts to…

so, if i were to put a link to microsoft in my HTML-formatted email message, it would end up looking like this — <a href="http://www.microsoft.com/">microsoft</a> — and because of the HTML rendering capability of my email client, it would look like this in the resulting email message: microsoft.

those of you who are observant may notice that, while my link says “microsoft”, the link actually points to MicrosoftIsEvil.com. for those of you who aren’t so observant, click on the link, or (because of the fact that you’re reading this in a browser) mouse-over the link and look in the lower left-hand corner of your browser window, and you’ll be able to see the link in a pop-up window…

however, in my email client, and, as far as i know, in most other dedicated email clients, there is no such pop-up window. i could have created a special URI that automatically opens a “back-door” to your computer, and sent that URI to you in an email message with the “descriptive phrase” being something that you might be interested in reading… and because of the fact that you read it in your email, when you clicked on it, thinking that you were going to get an interesting article, you would never know that i had opened the “back-door” of your computer and now have the ability to send email, AS YOU, as well as doing other things like stealing your identity, installing viruses and malware, denying service to other web sites, pirating software, and any number of other things that you Don’t Do To Other Peoples’ Computers®

things may be a little different if you’re using IMAP and a “WebMail” application, but the underlying concept is the same: some evil person impersonates somebody else (whose computer they have already compromised) and sends you a specially designed URI in HTML-formatted email, and because IT APPEARS TO BE from someone you trust, you click the link without looking at where it points to first, and…

BOOOOOM! you’ve got a big mess that you don’t have the first clue how to clean up… and, because of the fact that i’m a computer geek, i get more than my share of phone calls saying “hey, can you help me? my computer is broken…” ๐Ÿ˜

and about 95% of the time it’s because someone wasn’t paying attention when they opened an email message.

so PAY ATTENTION, because i have a tendency to “fix” peoples’ computers by installing linux, which doesn’t have anywhere near the same vulnerability to viri that windoes’t or mac does. ๐Ÿ‘ฟ

and, while linux is a smart operating system, it doesn’t automatically fix stupid users.

unicode geekery

the most current version of UNICODE, (v.7.0) has an emoticons block, which has, predictably, been incorporated into the most recent versions of your most popular operating systems in your most popular “mobile devices” (i.e. cell phones, tablets, etc.)…

but, because of the fact that they’re emoticons, i.e. pictures, rather than words, the interpretation of the emoticons in this block is, apparently, open to wild speculation about what they actually “mean” or “represent”…

which makes things A LOT more confusing, rather than clearing things up, as emoticons were intended to do…

for example, U+1F624 FACE WITH LOOK OF TRIUMPH looks like this, according to UNICODE:

U+1F624

looks like this in Mac OsX and iOS:

U+1F624

and, honestly, to me it looks like a “haughty” face rather than a “triumphant” one… either that, or it’s someone with an outrageous mustache…

another one that is even more confusing is U+1F632 ASTONISHED FACE, which looks like this, according to UNICODE:

U+1F632

and looks like this in Mac OsX and iOS:

U+1F632

which looks to me like a DEAD face… seriously, why don’t they make his eyes OPEN and not X-ed out… ๐Ÿ˜

and then we get into non-real (for people in the west, anyway) glyphs, such as U+1F472 MAN WITH GUA PI MAO, which is in the “Miscellaneous Symbols and Pictographs” block and NOT the “Emoticons” block — a confusing aspect that is shared by a lot of the other “emoticons” in the version of unicode that the general public uses — which looks like this:

U+1F472

and in iOS it looks like this

U+1F472

i guess it is somewhat more understandable if you know that GUA PI MAO is a type of Chinese skullcap, but even knowing that doesn’t make it particularly useful to a western person…

and a lot of the things that pass for emoticons, but are something else, according to the UNICODE standard, are weirder than that… for example, the world-famous U+1F4A9 PILE OF POO, which, according to UNICODE, looks like this:

U+1F4A9

and, according to apple, looks like this:

U+1F4A9

i can think of a few select circumstances where the PILE OF POO glyph might be actually useful, and a whole bunch more that would definitely be silly, but why it got included in UNICODE is so far beyond my understanding that i am totally baffled.

hrmph…

yeah, i’m still here…

i was cleaning up in the workshop today and i found the keys to the thule box, which i had to have new ones made several months ago when i wanted to use the thule box for something and couldn’t find the keys. they were sitting on the surface of my secondary workbench, under a massive pile of other projects (at least 5, going back to last summer) which either got abandoned, or the detritus from finishing never got cleaned up. i didn’t finish cleaning up, but i made a significant start. maybe tomorrow.

i’ve got my DX7 on my desk, because i want to work with reason to find some synth voices that i don’t have to tweak, so that the next time i go to bellingham i’ll have something ready to play live. about half of the time that i spent playing music last week was actually tweaking the voices to get something that didn’t sound like it was part of a pop song. i would use the DX7 voices except for the fact that the internal battery is dead, and i have to take the synth completely apart to replace it. fortunately the battery is really common (i have a couple of them that are still in their blister pack), but replacing it is something that i think i want to have help with, much in the same way that i needed help replacing the brake pads in my old car… not that i don’t know how to do it, but someone who knows how to do it to make sure that i don’t do things incorrectly, and to help if something breaks.

this is after taking my piano to bellingham, in the hopes of being able to use that, but one of the first things that was done to it after i left was that one of the tines was broken (number 50) and, until a replacement is found, the piano is currently in storage in the attic, which is doubtless a lot safer place for it than where it was, under the window in my living room.

but, as much as i would like to, the probability that i will be going to bellingham in the next few weeks is low, because of the looming moisture festival and its surrounding chaos.

the moisture festival is approaching at an appalling rate, and i am, once again, playing in three out of the four bands at the palladium: The Fighting Instruments of Karma, Snake Suspenderz and The Fremont Philharmonic. i have rehearsed and/or played with snake suspenderz (or significant portions thereof) and the fremont phil enough recently to know that we’re probably going to do okay, but we could use more rehearsal, and i haven’t played with the FIOK enough to be absolutely certain that we need more rehearsal, but probably aren’t going to get it. i’m still ambivalent about my participation in the moisture festival, but my vocal ranting has been dissipated somewhat by the inclusion of snake suspenderz in the lineup of show bands… but i didn’t donate $100 last year to get a star on the wall, like i did two years ago, and, unless the “stipend” is well above where it was last year, it’s not likely that i’m going to donate this year either.

today has been a banner day for people or robots trying to crack my shit… once again, i will advise you that if you try to login using anything other than the correct username and password, you get two attempts and then you are IP blocked for two weeks. after that, you get two more attempts and then you are blocked for a month. here’s a final hint: the username is NOT admin. ๐Ÿ˜›

Proposed Legislation Could Federally Legalize Cannabis

Proposed Legislation Could Federally Legalize Cannabis
Joseph Lemiuex
23 February, 2015

On Friday, two congressmen have put forth bills that would ultimately end the federal prohibition of cannabis.

Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) introduced the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act. This act would remove marijuana scheduling from the Controlled Substances Act, and put marijuana under the control of the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives). This move would regulate cannabis no different than alcohol on the federal level.

The Marijuana Tax Revenue Act introduced by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) would set up a federal excise tax for regulated marijuana.

The bills would not force any state government to legalize marijuana, but it would set a framework for states that are interested. This framework, if passed, would expedite states legalization if they choose to legalize. Cannabis has been making its mark upon the American people, and many are now in support of legalization.

So far, the U.S. has 4 states that out right legalized marijuana, 23 states have legalized marijuana for medicinal use, and 11 others have legalized marijuana in a restricted shape or form for medical use.

“While President Obama and the Justice Department have allowed the will of voters in states like Colorado and 22 other jurisdictions to move forward, small business owners, medical marijuana patients, and others who follow state laws still live with the fear that a new administration โ€” or this one โ€” could reverse course and turn them into criminals,” Polis said in a statement Friday. “It is time for us to replace the failed prohibition with a regulatory system that works and let states and municipalities decide for themselves if they want, or donโ€™t want, to have legal marijuana within their borders.”

Even though many Americans and states look favorably upon cannabis, it is still a federal crime. While federal guidance has been going easy on the states that have legalized, people are still going to federal prison for marijuana related convictions. This makes you wonder, if these bills pass, what will become of the already convicted felons of marijuana possession? Will the federal government release these inmates, or continue to hold them for a crime the government now deems legal.

Blumenauer called the federal prohibition of marijuana “a failure” that has wasted tax dollars and ruined lives. He also said itโ€™s time for the government to forge a new path ahead for the plant.

“As more states move to legalize marijuana as Oregon, Colorado, Washington and Alaska have done,” Blumenauer said, “itโ€™s imperative the federal government become a full partner in building a workable and safe framework.”

spam comment update

i adjusted the settings on my Limit Login Attempts plugin again, so that the first attempted login as “admin” (or anything other than the correct login name) results in a 720 minute (12 hour) block, and the second attempted login results in a 672 hour (28 day) block…

and STILL i have an estimated 5 attempted logins per day, and about half of them are blocked for 28 days… ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

and, not only that, but two IP addresses — both from baghdad — have been blocked a total of 18 times (one has been blocked 10 times, and one has been blocked 8 times) since i installed the plugin, about 6 months ago.

and, so far, nobody has guessed the correct login name. ๐Ÿ˜Ž although there have been some fairly obvious attempts, and some attempts — like “QhYQFvutnN” and “DouglasSevy” — that make me wonder what is really going on…