Tag Archives: malfunctioning computers

yawn

nothing has been happening.

nothing has been happening politically, nothing has been happening socially, nothing has been happening musically, nothing has been happening in regards to the COVID virus… i now have A LOT of “free” time: every other week i have a one-hour appointment with kate, and every week i have my one-hour circus class, but that’s it. 😩

i’ve been spending a lot of time hiking on taylor mountain.

i shipped out two incense orders, today. i’m averaging between two and six orders a month, and, before i got cracked a few months ago, i actually had over a thousand dollars in my bank account… but then i got cracked, and spent it all on replacement hardware and a pile of recovered, possibly useful data.

i have expanded ZIP files for about a tenth of my fonts collection, from the recovered data. mostly TTF files, and just a small fraction of the fonts i used to have. fortunately, my recollection is that my entire >10,000 font library is backed up on CD, somewhere… i’m sifting through the rest of the recovered data slowly, and more or less randomly: it’s totally discouraging to look at this huge pile of recovered data, which took me a couple decades to accumulate, but which is now many, many schrödinger’s cats with random file names, EVERY ONE OF WHICH has to be opened to determine whether or not it’s corrupt, and if it’s not, what general pile it goes in, which all have to be sorted again, later on, and then, probably, sorted at least once more before they’re back in more-or-less the place where they’re supposed to be. 😒

so, it’s something to do, but, literally, i would rather be doing ANYTHING else… 🤬

i ordered some “performance masks” from J.W.Pepper a few weeks ago. they were back-ordered (without my knowledge), and, when i talked to a customer service drone on monday last week, i was assured that they would be shipping out later that week, but i still haven’t seen or heard anything. they’re called “performance” masks, because they look like you’re wearing a mask, but, in reality, the mask has a hole in the front, that your mouthpiece goes through, which makes it practically useless as an actual mask… but the new rule at the market is that the only buskers allowed MUST BE masked, so it’s either wear a “performance” mask, or don’t busk. 😒 but i can’t busk at all, until the “performance” masks are delivered, and, as far as i can tell, at this point, they’re still on back order, and who knows when they’re going to arrive. 😞

however… 😒

one distinct DISadvantage to having a new, working cloud drive, is that there have been two different occasions within the past two days, where i thought of something, and went to look for the source files, thinking that i knew exactly where they were located, only to discover that they were on the OLD cloud drive… 😒

god DAMN whatever anonymous skript-kiddie that caused this! 🤬👎‼

hope? — dashed?

sorting through the mess of recovered data is heartbreaking.

i’m finding all sorts of stuff that, once i actually see (or hear) a bit of it, i know exactly what it is, and i’m starting to get things organised enough that, some of the time, i even have a place to put it, once i’ve discovered what it is…

but, then… everything doesn’t come crashing down, but…

i haveHAD a CDR album called “We Bore 2“, which was one of my favourites. it was produced in 2003 by Toast & Jam Records, which has, since, gone out of business, and their web site is now a japanese porn site… it was a “various artists” compilation of electronic, experimental, glitch music, and it was AWESOME!

i found a .RAR archive with the .mp3s for “We Bore 2”, and i was, like, “COOL!”… i expanded the archive, and put it in the place it had been taken from in my collection, and went on to the next archive.

today, for the first time, i actually LISTENED to “We Bore 2″…

yeah, all the tracks are there, but track 1 is NOT what was there the last time i listened to “We Bore 2″… and track 2 is also the same way, to a lesser extent… and track 3 is pretty messed up… and track four is mostly there, except for a patch in the middle which is totally missing… and track 5… and track 7… and track 8… and track 9… 😭

pretty much all of the tracks have something wrong with them…

and i can’t get another copy of the CD, because i originally downloaded it as a .rar file…

and, i’m pretty sure (given the huge quantity of .rar and .zip files that got recovered) that more than a few of them are going to have exactly the same problem. 😭

ETA: all is not lost… well, for “We Bore 2” anyway… it turns out i actually have the original CDR for this album… but i’m fairly sure that is NOT going to be the case with a majority of the .rar and .zip archives i have…

new nas

lord buckley would love this…

but, unfortunately, lord buckley was part of the data that either wasn’t recovered, is corrupted, or i haven’t found it yet because i’m dealing with sixty gazillion files that are named something like 0SVP8382U794.mp3 or 3O1458DNLWO.jpg, because all of their meta-data has been deleted. 😒

anyway, the new NAS is up and running, although not completely configured yet. i have an “app” on my phone and tablet that gives me access to the cloud drive, and i can access it through a web browser on my antique mac and my linux box.

ETA: and accessing it through a web browser is an entirely new experience for me, because, despite the fact that it’s in a web browser, the “pages” are things like the file center, which allows me to “drag-and-drop” files from my local computer, to upload them. basically it acts like a window, even though it’s technically a web page. will wonders never cease?

although i’m fairly sure linux has a more direct way of accessing the cloud drive, the guy who came by to set it up wasn’t a linux geek, and, apparently, has never met a linux geek in the general public. he was astounded when i told him that i had been running linux for 20 years… 😉

but the new NAS is WAY cooler than the old cloud drive, primarily because it is, apparently, possible to edit files while they are still in the cloud, rather than having to download them, edit them locally, and then over-write the old file on the cloud. if what i have already experienced with audio files is true, the likelyhood of my losing any MORE music is practically eliminated. also, it appears to be possible to install executable code on the NAS, and run it locally, which would make things EXTRA SUPER COOL, but i’m not 100% sure of it, yet. 😉

ETA: the NAS has, apparently, either configured itself, or something has been installed remotely that allows it to communicate with my linux system via a number of different protocols, including SMB, MTP (whatever that is — Media Transfer Protocol… who knew?), HTTPS, and bluetooth… which is really odd, because my computer doesn’t even have a bluetooth reciever, so i kinda wonder where the “Bluetooth” icon in the remote network directory came from… unfortunately, i have been unable to connect with anything other than HTTPS, even though the SMB instance takes my password and doesn’t say it’s wrong, it just won’t log me in… which is something to take up with the configurators tomorrow.

the “twisted pair” who are whipping my computers into shape doing my configuration are going to be finished up tomorrow, at which point i hope to have the more direct method of connecting on at least the linux box (if they aren’t able to figure out the antique mac, i understand). i’ve already got a lot of stuff sorted out of the recovered data, including a whole bunch of music, embeded in .zip archives, which appears to be uncorrupted, so, initially, it appears that i may not have lost everything. oh, i also discovered a bunch of CDs that have the date 4/20/13 on them, that appear to be raw .wav files of my first three cassettes, originally produced in the 1980s. if they are as pristine as they appear, then i MIGHT NOT have lost all my old music.

AND western digital FINALLY got back to me — i originally reported the loss on 210624, and, since then, i have sent the drive to texas, waited two weeks, and had the people in texas deliver the drive back to me, which arrived ONE WEEK BEFORE the western digital team (which “values your data”) got around to contacting me… 😒 they said they couldn’t help me unless i uploaded the system logs, but when i plugged in the drive, it wouldn’t even mount on mac, which means that they couldn’t even talk me through the process of recovering the system logs, at which point the issue was “escalated”, and they are, alledgedly, going to call me back monday or tuesday. at this point, i would estimate that it’s NOT particularly likely that western digital is going to call me back before 210731, which is when their web site says i have to have contacted them regarding a data loss from CVE-2018-18472… because after 210731, they don’t have to do anything about it. 😒

mrgmf!

so, according to the latest theory, a script kiddie found out about, and took advantage of CVE-2018-18472, but the bug doesn’t just allow anyone with the IP address to login as admin…

the bug allows anyone with the IP address to login as admin AND DO A FACTORY RESET!! 🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬

what this means is that the files weren’t just deleted, they were OVERWRITTEN… a factory reset reformats the drive and re-installs the operating system.

which means that the files that are gone, are gone for good. there’s no getting them back, at this point… 🤬😢🤬😢🤬😢🤬😢🤬😢🤬😢🤬😢🤬😢🤬😢🤬😢🤬😢🤬😢🤬😢🤬😢

i have resurrected ganesha the graphic

140215 Panchamukhi Ganesha The Car
140215 Panchamukhi Ganesha The Car
last night at about 10:30, i found a couple of .eps files of the graphic for my car.

vector renditions, i.e. infinitely expandable and contractable, keeping the same line quality.

today, i confirmed that they are the original, and my modified versions of the graphic, which is excellent, because, otherwise, i wouldn’t have artwork for my NEW car…

whee? 😕

oh, definitely whee… the new car is a hybrid that gets almost 50MPG, and is only slightly smaller than the current car, although it’s white, and not black…

such is life.

i got the data

good news: i got back (most of, as far as i’ve been able to tell, so far) my IOTM club records, including, most importantly the records of who paid when, and what they have received.

bad news: i’ve checked the largest adobe illustrator documents i can find, and they’re all corrupt, which means, very likely, that the artwork for my car is no longer, and when i get a new car (which might be a lot sooner than i expected), i will have to come up with new artwork for it.

i still have A LOT of files to evaluate… like more than a week, of solid 8-hour days, doing NOTHING but evaluating files… possibly as much as a month of 8-hour days. 😒

and that’s NOT listening to music and watching videos… that’s opening files, to make sure that they’re not totally corrupt, and listening to no more than 5 or 10 seconds of the music or video, to make sure that they’re not TOTALLY corrupt, and then rough-classifying the file based on the contents i’ve seen… and then going to the next file in the list.

which, of course, is leaving me with files where all but the last 5 or 10 seconds of music or video is corrupt, but the rest of it is fine, which is almost more frustratingly irritating than if the entire file was corrupt. 🤬🤬

also, more bad news: there were NO .ogg, .flac, .aif or .aup files recovered AT ALL, which means that NONE of the music that i have recorded since 1983 made it. 😢

i MAY still have the cassettes on to which they were originally mixed down, but they haven’t been played for at least 20 years, and i don’t hold out much hope. ken may have some of my stuff, because he is a music hoarder, and i have played music with him since 1985 or thereabouts, but he lives in bellingham. and i can download .flac files from bandcamp for all of the CDs i have made, except for the one that was made right after my brain injury, which isn’t all there on bandcamp… 😒

but, at this point, it doesn’t look particularly encouraging, and i strongly suspect that i’m going to have to re-rip ALL of the physical media i own, which is another couple of months of solid 8-hour days, at least. 😒

and that doesn’t even begin to address the HUGE quantities of music of which i have purchased and downloaded ONLY electronic copies, like the 40+ albums from ergo phizmiz which i have been collecting for AT LEAST 20 years.

it feels good to have created a way out of this mess, but it’s heartbreaking to think of how much quality work i have done that has been lost. 😢

ETA: i don’t know whether this is as good news as it could be, but i got a zip file full of business logos from my web designer, and there are a couple of high res graphics that are, basically, what i used on my car… and i actually found a couple of .eps files (which, i believe, are vector, and native to illustrator) of the graphic on my car… i haven’t checked, yet, because it’s late, and i really should be in bed, but, well… 😒 AND i am, officially, buying a new car (a hybrid, hyundai ioniq), which means that i’ve got to move my graphic, anyway.

updated answer

the answer costs $600, not $800. 👍

the answer is two 4TB disks in a RAID1 array, not 2TB disks, in a RAID1 array. 👍👍

i know that the cause of all this was the (potential) loss of all my data, but, at this point, i like where it’s all going A LOT more than i did two weeks ago… for that matter, i like where it’s all going a lot more than i did a month ago, before this all started happening. 😉

the answer

the answer is a 4TB NAS, two bays of 2TB each, in a RAID1 array.

this serves a dual purpose: the NAS is my “cloud drive”, and the RAID1 array is my backup.

i can “backup” the backup, to “the cloud” or to an external 2TB device (like a flash drive) on a regular basis if i want, at that point, for extra security.

the answer costs around $800, for them to come in, set it up, get all my devices talking to it, from the antique mac to the bleeding edge kubuntu box, and hand me the keys.

i can afford the answer, without having to get “household funds” involved.

why?

because someone send me almost $1,200 for one of my huge boxes of incense, that’s why. 👍

in other news, i paid them $600 and they’re mailing me back the remains of the old NAS, and a disk full of either data, or not-data. 😒 whee.

aarrgh… (which is a²r²gh for those of you keeping track)

i want to make a bootable kubuntu 20.04 USB flash drive, but i don’t know how (never done it before) to install from a USB flash drive… and “installing from a CD” is no longer an option.

and, apparently, cheapbytes.com is no longer in business… 😒

so, i go to https://averagelinuxuser.com/make-a-bootable-usb-drive-in-linux/ which contains step-by-step instructions for how to do it.

after spending half an hour figuring out which is the USB flash drive i want to put it on to (/dev/sdc — which i found out by removing all the other USB disk from my system, and typing “sudo fdisk -l”), i try to wipe /dev/sdc and reformat it (because it is formatted for mac), but when i type

sudo wipefs --all /dev/sdc

it says

wipefs: error: /dev/sdc: probing initialisation failed: Device or resource busy

so, i try

umount /dev/sdc

but it throws the same error…

i DO NOT UNDERSTAND!! the device is NOT “busy”, you dumb machine!! 🤬 but then i realise that the machine isn’t the dumb one here, and if it’s giving me an incomprehensible error, it must be because it has been given incomprehensible commands… by me… 🤬

so, i type:

sudo dd bs=4M if=/home/salamandir/Documents/Install/kubuntu-20.04.2.0-desktop-amd64.iso of=/dev/sdc status=progress && sync

and, eventually, it gives me

2643034112 bytes (2.6 GB, 2.5 GiB) copied, 163 s, 16.2 MB/s
630+1 records in
630+1 records out
2643034112 bytes (2.6 GB, 2.5 GiB) copied, 163.442 s, 16.2 MB/s

but after that, it hangs up. when i press "enter", after a LONG delay, it gives me

^C

and, after that... nothing.

i don't have the patience to learn all this again... i just want it to work... 😒

after another HOUR of futzing about, i figured it out... but it's REALLY frustrating, and i really don't have the patience to figure it all out without significant stress.

and, when i booted with the new system, it was UGLY, and i know FOR A FACT that i'm going to have to spend as much time tweaking the system to my preferences as i am going through endless stacks of numbered files, and re-filing them in more-or-less the right place, for about the next 3 years.

just another reason to give up computers all together and become a hermit. 😒

news

i heard from the data recovery people. they said:

There’s ~4 billion sectors on the 2TB drive. Head 0 died with ~55 million sectors left to read (very small percentage). It’s at the end of the drive so it was probably zeroes anyway. The main issue is that the metadata has been overwritten and the directory structure and file names are gone. This means that the files will have the correct extension but no names and no parent folders.

so, what they recover will be, essentially, files with their proper extensions — .ai, .otd, .doc, .otf, .txt, .mp3, .mp4, .html, .pdf, .eps, .jpg, .flac, .gif, .etc… — but with numbers, instead of file names… and if, as with the files from audacity, the project file uses ancillary files in the same directory, then the project files won’t open until ALL the ancillary files have the correct names, and are in the correct directory… 😒 they said, because of the way i was attacked, actual file recovery is not guaranteed, and recovered but corrupt files are billable, which means that i MIGHT end up with no readable data at all, and STILL have to pay for it. they said their “standard” service costs $600 and takes 5+ days, whereas their “expedited” service costs $1,000 (like moe said, everything costs $1,000 😒) and takes half that amount of time.

i contacted the place that built my last computer, InfoTech, when they opened, at 10:00 this morning. i gave them the specifications for a new computer (pentium G6400 4GHz, 16GB DDR4, Intel UHD 630, 2TB SATA HD, with the 1TB SATA SSD i’ve had since 2018 installed), and they said that they were going to send me an invoice, but, as of 3:00 this afternoon, i haven’t seen an invoice from them. once i’ve got the actual computer taken care of, i’ll ask them about a replacement for my WD cloud drive… although, i think i may avoid further western digital products, at this point. 😒

miraculously, i seem to have all the parts for this month’s incense of the month to be sent out with a minimum of hassle. i suppose that’s a good thing.

more computer headaches

so, i still haven’t heard from ace data recovery, because of the holiday weekend, but i decided to get my computer ready to take the new old data (if it still exists), by installing the 1TB SATA drive i’ve had sitting on my desk since 2018, which is the first time i thought i was going to need it…

however, it turns out that, because i got the “low profile” case, the last time i bought a computer (which, according to the label on the back, was 2015), there isn’t enough room to install the SATA drive, despite the fact that it’s ⅓ the size of the “normal” IDE drive.

i have two options. i can either buy a not-low-profile case, and pay someone to transfer all the internal shit (because i’m not skilled enough to do it, any longer), OR, for about $200 more, i can just buy an entirely new computer. 😒

it would cost around $700, give or take, to get a new computer, and have the 2018 SATA drive installed (thus making it a 2 HD system right off the top), and, at that point, i could hook up the hard disk from the old computer, via USB or something, and probably have enough space…

and moe sez it’s okay for me to spend that amount…

so, i guess i’m getting a new computer, as well. i remember when i would have been really excited at the prospect of a new computer, but, at this point, it’s JUST ANOTHER HEADACHE! 😠

let’s get on it, then! 😒

today, i got the following message from western digital:

Western Digital is working on a Data Recovery recovery program and allow us some time for the program to be put in place. I understand you sent the drive to a Data Recovery Center. If he (sic) would like Western Digital to assist with the recovery cost, we recommend to wait for the program to be active.

Some My Book Live devices connected to the Internet are being compromised by attackers and in some cases, the attackers have triggered a factory reset that appears to erase all data on the device.
We are here to help. Although this product family is no longer sold or supported by Western Digital, we know some of our customers have been impacted and we want to help.

If you have lost your data because of these attacks, we will provide data recovery services which will be available beginning in July.

We know how important your data is to you and are committed to helping you protect it.

We will provide details about how to take advantage of this program in a separate email.

For more detailed information and updates, please refer to the Security Bulletin listed below.

WDC-21008 Recommended Security Measures for WD My Book Live and WD My Book Live Duo
https://www.westerndigital.com/support/productsecurity/wdc-21008-recommended-security-measures-wd-mybooklive-wd-mybookliveduo

the problem is, i NEED that data. it was driven home to me how much i need that data when i realised (this morning) that all of my federal tax records are on that drive… and they’re due soon… 😒 i DO NOT have the time to wait around for a “Data Recovery recovery program” that hasn’t been developed yet. 😒

“If he (sic) would like Western Digital to assist with the recovery cost, we recommend to wait for the program to be active.”… if “who” would like WD to assist…? I would, very definitely, like WD to assist with the recovery cost. unfortunately, i NEED that data NOW (actually, yesterday would have been better 😠), also, well, this IS july, now, and i haven’t received any indication that this recovery program is much more than a pipe dream.

my plan is to continue at the rate that i’m already going with the “recovery plan”, and if WD has any problems with my plan, they can shove it up their ass, and pay anyway! 😠

i JUST got email from the data recovery place, which says:

Thank you for choosing ACE Data Recovery. We have received your device in our lab.

We will be contacting you soon after the diagnostic’s results will be ready. Usually it takes one to two business days.

my impression, at this point, is that WD is GOING to “assist with the recovery cost”, whether or not they think they are now. it’s just a matter of how hard we (the class of people who lost data because of this negligence) are going to have to try to convince them. 😠

so…

the cloud drive is on its way to dallas, to the temple of the computer wizards, who seem to think that they can actually retrieve data from a drive that has been wiped. whether they can, or not, remains to be seen, and if they can, actually, retrieve data, there’s no telling how much, but the expense increases with every file they retrieve, and i’ve got A LOT of files on that drive.

the current conjecture is that an anonymous, malicious, mindless, skript-kiddie found out about the bug that they’ve known about since 2018, but haven’t done anything about it because it’s a “legacy” device that hasn’t been upgraded since 2015 (despite the fact that MANY WD cloud drives are still in use all over the world), and wrote a script to search out all the IP addresses of MyBook drives it could find, and wipe them…

because they can… 😒

L0L! 🤬🖕🤬🖕🤬🖕🤬🖕🤬🖕

but, according to the latest theory, they didn’t overwrite the data, they just removed the allocation tables… they did a “quick” erase, not a “complete” erase… so the data is, probably, still there, as long as something hasn’t overwritten it, and, since the first thing i did when i couldn’t login was to shut it down, the chance that it’s still there is relatively high. it’s up to the experts, and whether or not i have enough money, to determine whether or not i see any of that data again.

and, as far as remediation goes, i think i’ve learned enough to install the 1TB drive (which is not big enough to store 2TB of data) that i’ve had sitting on my desk since 2018, but i haven’t done it yet, and i haven’t even started to search for a replacement cloud drive, or a backup system, because i’ve been going through an existential crisis, AND temperatures that have been an average of 35°F hotter than they have ever been, which has, essentially, shut down any hope of doing anything other than hiding and hoping it’s all going to be over soon. 😟

but climate change is a myth, created by china! 😒

it’s 25°F cooler than it was yesterday, but it’s still 10°F warmer than normal, for this time of year, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be getting better any time soon.

oh, just wonderful! 🤬

so, my Western Digital MyCloud Live bit the dust the other day. i spent most of yesterday stressing, and figuring out what was wrong, and beginning to figure out how to fix it (and not getting very far, because of the stress).

then, this morning, i wake up to this: CVE-2018-18472

Western Digital WD My Book Live and WD My Book Live Duo (all versions) have a root Remote Command Execution bug via shell metacharacters in the /api/1.0/rest/language_configuration language parameter. It can be triggered by anyone who knows the IP address of the affected device, as exploited in the wild in June 2021 for factory reset commands…

and Action Required on My Book Live and My Book Live Duo

Western Digital has determined that some My Book Live devices are being compromised by malicious software. In some cases, this compromise has led to a factory reset that appears to erase all data on the device. The My Book Live device received its final firmware update in 2015. We understand that our customers’ data is very important. At this time, we recommend you disconnect your My Book Live from the Internet to protect your data on the device.

the only hope i have is EITHER that the MyCloud IP address was unknown, unknowable, or “small potatoes”, OR that this is for My”BOOK” Live, and what i’m dealing with is a My”CLOUD” Live, and that CVE-2018-18472 applies to the My”BOOK” and not the My”CLOUD”…

but what is the probability of those things happening? 🤬

(actually, now that i think about it, the probability is fairly low: i BOUGHT the MyCloud device in 2014, and i’m pretty sure that i received firmware updates well after the 2015 date that they mentioned here, but… it’s still worrying.)

actually, i couldn’t POSSIBLY be that lucky… i was looking at the back of the device, and it very clearly says “MyBook Live”… 🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬

word now is that western digital has known about this since 2018. 🤬

some good news, for a change… i’ve written for a quote from Ace Data Recovery, which is a partner with western digital. i’m as confident as i can be (which isn’t much) that they have a MUCH better chance of actually recovering my data than anything i could do. of course, because of the fact that it is currently after business hours on friday, central time, and the fact that they don’t work on weekends, i’m probably not going to hear anything until monday, at the earliest. however, this gives me some time to work on the problem of where to put it once it has, actually, been retrieved.

zoinks

my cloud device is not a cloud device.

it was working fine two days ago. by the time i discovered it wasn’t working, yesterday, it was too late to get tech support on the line, so i got them on the line today.

what they said is that my WD MyCloud Live is old enough that it’s considered a “legacy device” and they don’t offer service for it any longer.

so ALL of my hybrid elephant records, ALL of my “Incense of the Month” records, ALL of my appointments, ALL of my digital artwork, ALL of my pictures, ALL of my music… EVERYTHING is gone.

😟

ETA: i talked to the folks at western digital this morning, and what i learned was encouraging and discouraging at the same time.

i bought it, and had it configured by 140127, so it has only been six years, not the eight that i was complaining about originally… doesn’t make me feel any better about losing access to that data. 😟

the device is a WD MyCloud Live device, which is a “legacy” device which is no longer serviced.

the fact that i had the drive partitioned four ways, and primarily used it on linux, means that, even if it were able to be serviced, they wouldn’t do it. they support windows and mac, but not linux.

despite the fact that western digital disks are used on linux systems ALL THE TIME… 😒

it MIGHT be accessible directly, by plugging it directly into the computer, instead of a router. i plugged it into my mac laptop, and a new icon appeared on the desktop called “MyCloud Live”. it contained four “public” folders (documents, pictures, music, and another that i don’t remember), but they were all empty. also, it said i was logged in as “guest” and my disk doesn’t have a “guest” login, so my guess is that mac logged me into a new, blank partition.

which means that i MIGHT be able to access it from linux, if i can get it to log me in as something other than “guest”…

when in trouble, when in doubt, run in circles…

ask if anybody has a clue on kubuntu forums dot net

the guy there said that, in all likelyhood, it is running an embeded linux OS, and, if nothing else, i could take it out of its enclosure and add it as a new hard disk on my computer, as long as it works.

however… 😒

at this point, i’m going to HAVE TO get a new cloud server to replace the old one (more goddamn money spent on this damn technology… 😠), and i don’t want to do ANYTHING with the old one until i have a new place, however temporary, to store all <900MB of shit. AND i just happen to have a samsung 1TB SATA disk — had it new, in the box, since 2018 — but because i don’t actually know how to install a new hard disk on a linux machine, i haven’t done so.

so, MAYBE everything isn’t gone, but it’s going to be a few stress filled days until i get it all figured out and get everything settled down to what passes for “normal” these days. 😟

i might have known…

so, the weird weirdness with my web site was ENTIRELY caused by the osCommerce web site…

which i haven’t even thought about since 2016, because the previous web designer was supposed to have deleted it, once i had successfully migrated to wordpress…

but which wasn’t deleted (despite the fact that it was one of the things i paid her to do 😠), and continued to “function”, without a “head”, for FIVE YEARS

if nothing else, i suppose, it says something about osCommerce’s resiliancy and ability to continue to function despite being headless and updateless for the past 5 years. i wonder if i could treat wordpress the same way, and expect the same result. i suspect, probably, not.

it’s still there, physically, but it has had it’s hooks into the system removed, so it is no longer functioning. the next step is to figure out which parts are wordpress parts and which parts are osCommerce parts, and delete the osCommerce parts.

in other news, ezra has come up with an idea that needs internet and a web host to work, and, well… i’m the next best thing to a web host, these days… apart from the FUMTU with osCommerce… 😉

bat out of database hell, sideways

in a new twist, the web designer that i worked with prior to the current web designer i work with — the one who blew a gasket for some still-unknown reason — was, as a part of what i was paying her to be a web designer, to delete the old web site files, once i had successfully been migrated to my new site.

unfortunately, apparently she blew a gasket before she actually did that.

and i didn’t know until… well… today.

my current web site is running PHP5, but there was an error which showed up in the log which was an uncaught variable that doesn’t exist in PHP5… in fact, it doesn’t exist until PHP7.4… and, upon further investigation, we discovered that it came from a document that is from osCommerce, which lead to other osCommerce documents, which lead, basically, to the entire osCommerce web site, which has been trying, and failing, to run PHP7.4, and generating WEIRD errors.

it had been beheaded — i.e. it didn’t have an internet-facing interface — but it is all still there.

it should be deleted. 😠

database hell updated

quoth the web developer: I’m going to guess, they’re going to come back and tell us they see nothing wrong. However, they will modify the server and then when I get back in there to test it again, it’s going to work. They just have a problem admitting when they’re wrong so they’ll fix it but tell us that it works fine.

quoth i: i don’t care how it’s fixed, i just want it to be fixed.

they have access to the dashboard, but they’re in a different time zone, so i have to be patient. 😒

ETA: i just got an email notification that says: A user with username “webhost-python” who has administrator access signed in to your WordPress site.

and then a note from YET ANOTHER technician who i HAVEN’T TALKED TO BEFORE (😠), who, apparently, tried the login, looked through the ticket history and decided that they don’t know enough to do anything about it, saying “I will assign this to our developers and they will get back to you.”

so, it begins…

tomorrow… 😒

ahhhh! now we find out…

my newly redesigned site uses the enfold theme, which has faulty (under certain circumstances) caching and optimisation routines, so we use lightspeed cache, which doesn’t have those (particular) faults, and works better (under certain circumstances).

except, last year, prior to my site being redesigned (when i was still using the avada theme), i was told (by SOMEONE) to disable lightspeed cache, because it had some sort of incompatibility with… something…

so, i went through the site redesign with a disabled lightspeed plugin. no problem, until i put in the enfold theme, and whatever circumstances that cause the caching and optimisation routines to fail, were happening, which was the cause of the first go-round.

turning on the lightspeed cache fixed the first go-round, but whatever incompatibility i was trying to avoid by having the lightspeed plugin disabled, took effect, which was the cause of the second go-round.

which was further confused by the fact that part of my routine for fixing the first go-round was good enough that it fixed the second go-round well enough that i didn’t find out about it until it was too late.

what i found out, today, via my web developer, is that the people who make the lightspeed cache and webhost python (my host provider) have their own battle going on: on webhost python’s servers (which include mine), the lightspeed plugin causes expired transients to multiply and duplicate. lightspeed says it’s python’s fault. python disagrees…

on the record…

OFF the record, python agrees that there is a bug in their system that they haven’t found yet… compounded by the fact that it was THEIR ERROR which caused the third go-round… 😠 but it’s not for me to say “i told you so”, especially with my already somewhat precarious position with this particular host provider…

and so, i’m caught in the middle. 😒

apparently, for the time being anyway, the plan is to disable the caching modules on both enfold AND lightspeed, keep an eye on the database (which hasn’t blown up since implementing this plan), clear the expired transients manually, and examine other options for a cache.

😒

oy! why won’t this just go away?

at midnight (which was 3:00 in the morning, florida time), i got a message saying that the database was blowing up again. they said it was 183 GIGABYTES

because of the fact that i was asleep (thankfully), i didn’t actually read the message until 7:00 my time (10:00 florida time). i immediately logged into my web server, and discovered that the MySQL disk usage was lower than i have ever seen it before, which is to say 253 MEGABYTES

what this tells me is that there’s something else going on besides this whole “enfold-theme-not-caching-correctly” horseshit.

which is bad.

it also tells me that, whatever it is, we haven’t actually found it… we may have found another problem, but not the one for which we’re looking… yet…

which is bad, but not as bad as it could be.

it also tells me that, whatever it is that is going wrong, the cronjob that we put in place to solve the problem, works, REGARDLESS of the actual problem.

which is good.

but, when it comes right down to it, it is not good for me to be so stressed out about something over which i have very little control.

which is bad.

something has to be done. this is ridiculous.

oh, but it couldn’t have ended there, now, could it?

and the answer is, a big, fat, OF COURSE NOT! 😒

i woke up this morning, and couldn’t log in to my web site… at, like, SEVEN in the fucking morning, i was wide awake because i couldn’t log in to my web site.

at NINE, the web designer gets back to me. he can’t login either. apparently the host provider has disabled the config file that makes everything work — i login using SSH, and there’s the file… everything LOOKS okay, but… the host provider apparently did SOMETHING to my web site. as far as i can tell, everything works, sort of, until you get one or two pages deep, at which point it gives me a “unable to connect to database” error.

😠

so, i file a ticket with the host provider. a couple hours later, (all the while, i’m sweating bullets) they get back to me, apparently, the database blew up AGAIN. they disabled the config file so that nobody could use the web site, because the database was growing by gigabytes A SECOND.

😠😠

eventually (seriously, they took most of the day to UN-disable the config file), the web designer went in and turned off everything having to do with the built-in, screwy, does-not-work, enfold caching and optimisation routines, turned OFF “store transients”, and set a cronfile to delete three rows of a table in the database, every hour.

😠😠😠😠‼‼‼

this better be the last of it for a while, because i’m just about ready to throw in the towel.

database update

the database is fixed. 😌

what happened? that’s complex.

recently, i had my web site redesigned. the new design uses the “Enfold” theme, which uses a lot of what they call “transients” to maintain the look and feel of the site, regardless of the platform on which it’s being viewed. “transients” are sort of like cookies, except that you can’t opt out of them, and they don’t contain any personally identifying information. some of these “transients” expire immediately when a person leaves the web site, and others persist, for a few minutes to several days. they persist on your computer AND on my server… in the one of the tables in the database…

the “Enfold” theme has automatic caching and garbage collection routines that are supposed to handle these expired “transients”, but, because it’s a wordpress theme, it doesn’t do all the jobs very well… or, sometimes, at all… which is why i also use a caching plugin that actually, you know, works ALL the time, and not only some of the time… 😒

except that, for some reason, prior to my site upgrade, “someone” (and i have yet to identify who, but it was either my web designer or my host provider) recommended that i disable the caching plugin, because of some issue with the new version of wordpress… or something like that… as i said, i don’t remember. i distinctly remember disabling the plugin on someone’s recommendation, i just don’t remember exactly who, when or why. 😖

one way or the other, my caching plugin was disabled, which meant that, when i installed the new theme, it was relying on the not-working-the-way-it-should, internal cache… which, basically, didn’t work, causing the table in the database to expand beyond my disk space allocation. 🤯

it didn’t show up in my cPanel because i wasn’t looking at the SQL disk space, which is “below the fold” of my browser, and i just didn’t scroll down far enough to see it. 😕 during the nightly automatic backup, it was overwhelming the server for everybody, not just me. i had to pay my web designer for two days of poking through piles of arcane SQL code and deleting bits and pieces of it. it was not fun.

the solution was to enable the caching plugin(!), and to install a “transient manager” plugin, so that i can delete the expired transients from the wordpress dashboard, and not from the SQL database,… which requires A LOT more “knowing what to look for” and “knowing how to delete stuff without damaging other stuff” than i have on board, personally.

databases

my first direct experience with databases was in the late 1980s or early 1990s, when i got a “job”, “working” for this… guy…

i don’t remember his name — possibly “henry” — but i remember his attitudes: he was always right, nothing he thought of had ever been thought of before, he was the richest, smartest, trendiest, most “on-top-of-it” dude that ever hit the face of the planet, and GAWD HELP YOU if you EVER got in his way.

needless to say, the “job” didn’t last long. it started with him demonstrating how generous he was, by buying me a disk caddy, so that i would have somewhere to keep all of the disks i was going to accumulate working for him. then he started asking me about computers. at the time, i was NOT a “computer geek”, nor did i want to be one (my father was one of the original “computer geeks” and i DID NOT want to be like my father), but i knew about computers because i had been working as a typesetter for a few years. he asked me what i didn’t know about computers, and one of the first things out of my mouth was “databases”, so he signed me up for a week of training with “FileMaker”…

what i learned was a bunch of recycled stuff from my already ample knowledge of microslut word and excel, with a bunch of “hypercard-like” stuff which i sort of vaguely understood (but nobody i knew used hypercard for anything, so i never really knew what i had missed until years later), and, at the same time i was doing this training, i was helping this… guy… clean out his house, because he was going through a divorce, or some awful shit like that, and he, basically, had to move EVERYTHING that was “his”, out of one house and into another, that was a few houses down the street…

which is where i learned that his “rich” persona was heavily financed by several HUNDRED overdrawn credit cards — he had been using one credit card to pay off another credit card, and when he ran out of credit cards, he would just start up a new one, and use it to pay off the previous ones… FOR YEARS… — at which point i decided that working for this guy might not be such a good idea, if i wanted to get paid.

quite apart from the fact that working for him was REALLY annoying…

so, ultimately, i spent a week learning really complex software that i never got to use for anything, and that was it, until i got my job at software.com, testing email servers, in 2001.

and, for all of my work with databases at software.com/openwave, i still don’t have a really solid grasp of what they are… where they “live”, what they do, how they work… anything… all i know is that, under the right set of circumstances, you can give “commands” to a database, and it will perform certain functions with a variety of different “objects”, the outcomes of which can be used in a multitude of different ways, depending on what is contained in your database.

i get the impression that databases are a lot like the world wide web, in that they both have a lot of objects (web sites) that are linked together in a somewhat-haphazard, but definitely organised way.

so, you can imagine that it was something of a surprise when, the other morning, i woke up, checked my email, and discovered two somewhat alarming notices. the first was warning me that i had used up 90% of my disk space on my server, and the other was warning me that a “table” on my main database was malfunctioning… or something… and collecting 251 GB worth of data… which, somehow, was NOT showing up in my cPanel, which says “Disk Usage 18.43 GB / 292.97 GB”…

and, of course, it happened on a sunday, when nobody’s in the office, and on mothers day, when even fewer people are in the office, and during a PANDEMIC… 😒

so, first thing this morning, after waking up to a broken heat pump, and a wife who wrenched her back, i wrote to my web designer, who said, oh yeah, we’ve seen this kind of thing before, it’ll cost between $200 and $500 to fix it…

and I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT’S WRONG… 😖

my wonderful pet, frank zappa the cat

my wonderful pet, Frank Zappa, the cat, innocently playing with a cat toy in a patch of sunlight, like a good kitty...
my wonderful pet, Frank Zappa, the cat, innocently playing with a cat toy in a patch of sunlight, like a good kitty…
my wonderful pet, Frank Zappa, the cat, honoured my presence (and the fact that i had just fed him) yesterday, by waiting until i had a full bottle of beer on my desk, and then jumping into my lap and doing the happy-cat-dance, which involves swirling around and waving his tail in such a way that it impacts the bottle of beer on the desk, spilling the contents into my keyboard.

😒

because of the fact that i have worked in several companies that actually, physically MADE keyboards — they really do wash partially finished keyboards in a household dishwasher before assembly — i wasn’t as upset as i could have been, but, nevertheless, i spent the entire rest of the evening taking my keyboard apart, cleaning the beer (and assorted dust, feathers, cat hair and other detritus) out of it, and re-assembling it…

only to discover that only half of the keys actually work. and not in a normal “right half works, left half doesn’t” way, but in a more random “half the keys in this line sometimes work and sometimes don’t” way, which indicates that some moisture probably got inside the four or five layers of waterproof linings — seriously, keyboards, these days, are practically impervious to spills… not like when i was a kid… — either that, or there was something that didn’t want to get bent, that got bent in the process of disassembling the keyboard: i tried to be careful and not bend any of the parts that looked like they might be upset if they got bent, but i may have bent them, anyway, without meaning to.

in any event, i have an alternate keyboard, just for such emergencies, which is the same model, but different colour keys. i have occasionally ransacked the alternate keyboard for spare parts, like when my “B” key’s spring broke, and the F2 and F3 keys died, so it doesn’t get used for anything, anyway… so i decided to make a frankenkeyboard…

in honour of my wonderful pet, Frank Zappa the cat.

frankenkeyboard
frankenkeyboard

grr update 2

akregator has taken up the task of crashing about half the time, again. i guess it just needed some time to settle, after having the debug packages installed.

i reported the bug. it was a duplicate of bug #382575, which is actually a bug with Qt (which i always thought stood for “QuickTime”, but, apparently, i’m wrong), and it was originally reported in july of 2017. it will be fixed… eventually… 😒

grr update

i installed the debugging packages for both kontact and dolphin, thinking that would help me get a better idea of what’s going on.

it’s a little difficult with dolphin, because it doesn’t actually crash, it just gives me an “unknown error” message.

with kontact/akregator, it made a considerable difference, but i’m not sure how much it helps: now, instead of crashing about half the time when i middle-click on a link (which would produce the backtrace for which i installed the debugging packages), it doesn’t crash at all… it still does nothing when i middle-click on a link — now 100% of the time — and it still works exactly as advertised when i right-click and choose “open link in external browser”… 😠

ETA: this is the primary reason why, if there was ANY other alternative, i would use that instead of linux: i looked at the URI in dolphin, after it gave me the weird “unknown error”, and it said “smb://@/” which i thought looked kind of odd… so i put the username for the drive to the left of the @ sign, and the name of the drive to the right of the @ sign…

and it worked. 😕

no clue how it got that way, no clue why it worked before, with no username in the picture, and doesn’t now, no clue what the error messages mean, i have absolutely NO CLUE why it works now and didn’t before…

but it does. 😕

grr…

i’m still having random annoying problems with bionic beaver:

when i start it up in the morning, it loads my desktop wallpaper image with a “blur” in the background, which is not what i want. i have to right-click, choose “Configure desktop”, choose “blur”, hit “apply”, choose “Solid color” and hit “apply” before it correctly shows a solid colour background around my wallpaper images. 😕

sometimes, randomly, the “Device Notifier” shows me the three USB hard disks i have inserted, and mounted, even when i am doing nothing that involves any of them. i don’t know why.

akregator randomly crashes when i try to open a link with the middle mouse button (which is normally set to “open in external browser”). it works okay if i right-click and choose “open in external browser” from the context menu, but if i middle-click, sometimes nothing happens, and sometimes akregator crashes. also, it doesn’t give me enough information in the trace to make the bug reports any good. i wrote to the KDE-PIM users list, but not with this problem, because i hadn’t figured out exacly what happened at that time. now i get the very strong impression that the response will be to upgrade to a more recent version, but that version hasn’t been added to the upgrades for bionic yet, so i’m kinda stuck.

dolphin allows me to make icons for places i go to regularly, and organise them in the left hand side of the window. i set up some network folders, by selecting “Network”, then selecting “Add Network Folder” and setting up a micro$not windows folder at smb://salamandircloud.local. it worked fine for about 3 days, but now, when i select any of the network folders at salamandircloud.local, it tells me

Internal Error
Please send a full bug report at http://bugs.kde.org
Unknown error condition in stat: Unknown error 8216

only sometimes, instead of “Unknown error 8216” it says “Unknown error” or “File exists” or “Software caused connection abort”. i went to http://bugs.kde.org and discovered a duplicate bug that says it’s “solved”, but it doesn’t give any clear indication of how it was solved. the end result is that now i no longer have access to my cloud drive from my linux machine. 👎

because of the fact that i can’t access salamandirCloud, i can’t access my music from my linux machine, but even when i could access salamandirCloud, amarok couldn’t access my music files. apparently it wants them on a local drive… and, because of the fact that, when i could access my cloud drive, it was through a SMB connection, i can’t use the standard NFS to automatically mount the drive at startup. i wrote to the amarok users list, but nobody’s home there, and i don’t expect an answer any time soon. 😠

i keep going back to the advice i was offered by Ralf Mardorf on the debian users list, back in 2012, when i was playing around with (and failing to install) a debian live disk. he said

Because I needed new hardware I couldn’t keep a stable Linux install that satisfied my needs.

Never change a winning team!

If there’s no need to update, keep a stable install, make backups and to test newer Linux versions at least have a dual-boot.

If I could use my old stable install, I still would use it. In your case I would reinstall the old Ubuntu that fit to your needs and I would install a second Linux and try to get it working, when ever I would have time to do it.

You know it yourself, I don’t need to write this words to you ;).

which, to me, means “IF IT AIN’T BROKE, DON’T FIX IT!”

except, of course, trusty was broke, it was just broke in different ways than bionic is. now all i gotta do is figure out what the fixes are. 😖

if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

a wise old linux guru told me this, a few years ago, and i’ve found myself smack in the middle of what happens when you follow that maxim… and it doesn’t feel entirely comfortable, at this point.

i have been happily running kubuntu trusty since 2014, which means that, now, there are TWO LTS releases to bring me up to date… Bionic Beaver, and the interim release, Xenial Xerus, which had some notable problems that were notable enough that i decided that… IF IT AIN’T BROKE, DON’T FIX IT.

now, i’ve actually heard some good things about the new LTS release, and, strangely enough, Amarok broke about two weeks ago (and the amarok user list has gone quiet the past few months, which makes me wonder who to contact), so i’ve been having to resort to qmmp to play music… so i decided to upgrade.

i’ve had some AWFUL experiences upgrading operating systems, and linux is no exception. the last time i upgraded linux, it took me three days to get my computer back. in an attempt to avoid that possibility this time, i have finished uploading my ENTIRE /home directory to the cloud, and am in the process of uploading my ENTIRE music collection to the cloud.

then, on the advice of the linux gurus over at Kubuntu Forums (who have saved my ass more than once), i’m going to go out and get a 2TB SSD on which to install bionic.

the only problem is that i still am not completely sure that my email is going to transfer, because i know that kontact was one of the notable problems i read about with xenial that made me want to avoid upgrading… and i’m not sure the standard “back up everything including the hidden directories from /home” is going to work this time, because i’ve heard that bionic uses something other than akonadi, which was, apparently, the source of the problems with xenial… which would mean that potentially i could lose 7 years worth of email and contact information. 😒

so, we’ll just have to see how it goes… 😐

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…

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 “normal.dot” 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

grr…

i was going over some updates with the new web site designer. because of a couple of component updates, some of my templates were deprecated and needed to be updated. i figured i could probably update them, since all that was needed was for me to determine which templates needed to be updated, download the updates, FTP to the site and replace the old ones with the new ones. in the process of finding out which of the templates needed to be updated, i came across a random, and somewhat unexpected error with my SSL certificate. the web designer said the host provider needed to fix it. the host provider said that the web designer needed to fix it.

😑 ‽‽‽‽

it was getting really late last night, when the host provider said that the web designer needed to fix it, and he wasn’t going to be available until tomorrow. i told the geek at the host provider that it sounded to me like it was a problem that the host provider was supposed to fix, and the geek proceded to break it even more. i was blocked out of my own site, temporarily, and when i was able to log in again, instead of being able to log out, i was redirected to a page that told me i was temporarily blocked from access… regardless of which browser, or which platform i used, i was able to login successfully, but was unable to log out.

😑 ‽ 😑 ‽ 😑 ‽ 😑 ‽

today, i contacted the web site designer. i agreed to give him $150, and he agreed to fix my site, and update it with the right templates.

grr… 😕

god damn it!!!

i have an ipad, so i can keep farcebook off of my real computers.

i don’t know whether it’s the ipad itself, or whether it is farcebook, but i’m getting really pissed off at the behaviour i’m seeing:

1) it randomly crashes: the screen freezes, then goes black, and then it gives me the “desktop” screen, and then, when i restart the farcebook application, it automatically goes to my “News Feed” rather than to the “Most Recent” page, where i normally read stuff. this happens a lot more frequently when i am reading a “link” that someone posted, but it also happens when i am simply reading farcebook.

2) it takes FOR-FUCKING-EVER to load a “link” from the farcebook application, and even when it says it’s finished loading, frequently it freezes until the entire page actually loads, which is sometimes as much as two or three minutes later. this is a lot more common on links which contain videos, although YouTube links usually load fairly quickly, which makes me suspect that there’s something else that is gobbling up bandwidth.

3) in the farcebook application itself, it frequently freezes for a couple of minutes, and then goes back to “normal” behaviour.

4) frequently, when i go to a “link” in the farcebook application, it loads completely, and then the screen gets a grey tinge to it, and the entire page is overlayed with an advertisement of some kind, and unless i touch EXACTLY the right place, which changes semi-regularly, instead of getting to read the page that i intended to, i have to wait for farcebook to put another, complete, entirely unrelated page, the advertisement, on the screen, which frequently takes up to five minutes, before i can go “back” to the page i was intending to read.

4½) a related problem is that, frequently, when i touch a place that should be a link of some kind (like a URI) it doesn’t do anything at all, and other times, when i am “scrolling”, it interprets my “touch” as a “click” and loads something in which i wasn’t interested, and then gives me a lot of difficulties (involving one or more of the previously enumerated items) getting back to where i was.

to make matters worse, the specific problems outlined above don’t happen individually: they frequently come in batches of two, or three, and, frequently all four of them at the same time.

as i said, i’m not sure whether it is due to bugs in the farcebook application, or bugs in the hardware, but it’s getting to the point where i feel like throwing the device against a wall, or out the window or something.

i’m fairly sure that this is NOT the way it is supposed to work. 😠

told ya so… 8P

told ya so… 8P

it doesn’t completely work the way i want it to, yet, but it was 2% working yesterday, and today it’s back to 95%

while i’ve got my email back, it’s not completely working yet, and i’m still having to deal with peculiarities with which i’m not exactly familiar. they’re peculiar enough that, it’s my professional opinion that they may be caused by demons, and may work themself out on their own eventually… one of my email accounts apparently uses a password i don’t remember. gramps works, but it still thinks the media is on the non-existent disk… i still don’t have the fonts straightened out…

but it’s one hell of a lot closer than it was yesterday, when i didn’t have the task bar icons that i usually have, and the K-menu icons that i usually have, and my email didn’t work… and i didn’t even have to convince it to mount the big hard disk, which wasn’t even showing up as being capable of mounting until i jumped through a 3-step hoop in order to mount it, yesterday…

it’s fixed enough that i am not even worried about going to bellingharm tomorrow, but i probably won’t spend the night.

UPDATE 10:30 pm i got email working. it was a combination of trying things in a new way, and demons in the pipes. i’ve even got my sigrot working, although i don’t know whether cron is taking care of running it every 5 minutes. also i got dropbox working again. now all i gotta do is figure out where my fonts went to…

snrg

for a couple of years now the fan in my computer has been making an evil buzzing noise when i first turn on the machine. i discovered that if i take a bottle of canned air and squirt it into the fan, it stops… after a while…

fast forward a couple of years, and multiple cases of canned air from costco (i.e. at least 10), and it’s actually been taking longer and longer to get the fan to quit buzzing, and the buzzing has been getting more loud and evil sounding, especially since i re-oriented the box, so i finally decided to open it up and see if i could fix it.

i found a lot of dust… which i cleaned out outside, because i’ve had previous experience with trying to clean dust out of a computer while inside, and it results in making everything taste like the inside of a computer for a couple of weeks… πŸ˜›

but it didn’t stop the buzzing, so i broke down and bought a new fan.

it cost me $9.00. 😐

i don’t know why i don’t just put my computer in a place where it’s relatively easy to disconnect and clean, apart from general laziness and lack of caring, and i wonder about the habit i have of stacking stuff on top of the computer, and/or putting it in obscure, difficult to remove places even more when the solution to my problem ALL ALONG cost me less than $10.00… 😐

i’ve been working in the computer industry long enough that i should have known it was going to turn out that way… 😐

SHELLSHOCK UPDATE

Shellshock: ‘Larger scale attack’ on its way, warn securo-bods

Apple FINALLY patches the ‘don’t worry’ Bash Shellshock vuln

Apple Releases Patches for Shellshock Bug


Every Mac Is Vulnerable to the Shellshock Bash Exploit: Here’s How to Patch OS X
— i upgraded from v.3.2.51(1) to v.3.2.53(1) according to their directions for pre-mavericks computers, and, according to the test i posted last week the system is no longer “vulnerable”, but, because of the fact that it doesn’t actually give a response other than “this is a test”, i can’t tell for sure whether or not they’ve actually patched shellshock, or whether they have just turned off the error message… it would be really nice if i could just upgrade to the current GNU release, which is v.4.3… this is why i am no longer a mac-head… 😐

Apple patches "Shellshock" Bash bug in OS X 10.9, 10.8, and 10.7

SHELLSHOCK UPDATE

Firms BASH Bash bug with new round of Shellshock patches

Cisco splats Bash bug in busy swatting season

i’ve run three rounds of security updates in the past three days, and bash was updated in every one of ’em… eventually they’re gonna fix it for real… maybe i’ll just revert to using csh… or zsh (which was written by paul falstad, my former manager and coworker at openwave) 😐

SHELLSHOCK UPDATE

UPDATE: Bash Vulnerability AKA SHELLSHOCK

The ‘Shellshock’ Bash vulnerability and what it means for OS X

Apple: Most OS X users safe from ‘Shellshock’ exploit, patch coming quickly for advanced Unix users — which, of course, is a blatant falsehood… all macs are as much at risk as -x was, and -x had a patch yesterday… this is why i am no longer a mac-head… 😐

Apple working on “Shellshock” fix, says most users not at risk [Updated] — which includes the following information:

Mac OS X uses version 3.2.51.(1) of GNU bash, released in 2007; the current GNU release of the shell is bash 4.3. However, the current version is released under the GNU Public License version 3 (GPLv3). Apple has avoided bundling GPLv3-licensed software because of its stricter license terms, even dropping the open-source Windows networking service Samba from OS X server in 2011 because Samba had shifted to a GPLv3 license. Therefore, although patches for the vulnerability have now been pushed out for most open-source operating systems, Apple executives may feel they have to have their own developers make modifications to the bash code.

this is the explanation why i haven’t been able to get SAMBA to work on my mac… grumble, mutter… 😐

Still more vulnerabilities in bash? Shellshock becomes whack-a-mole

shellshock update: linux has been patched, mac not so much…

‘Shellshock’ Bug Spells Trouble for Web Security
140925
by Brian Krebs

The bug is being compared to the recent Heartbleed vulnerability because of its ubiquity and sheer potential for causing havoc on Internet-connected systems β€” particularly Web sites. Worse yet, experts say the official patch for the security hole is incomplete and could still let attackers seize control over vulnerable systems.

The problem resides with a weakness in the GNU Bourne Again Shell (Bash), the text-based, command-line utility on multiple Linux and Unix operating systems. Researchers discovered that if Bash is set up to be the default command line utility on these systems, it opens those systems up to specially crafted remote attacks via a range of network tools that rely on it to execute scripts, from telnet and secure shell (SSH) sessions to Web requests.

According to several security firms, attackers are already probing systems for the weakness, and that at least two computer worms are actively exploiting the flaw to install malware. Jamie Blasco, labs director at AlienVault, has been running a honeypot on the vulnerability since yesterday to emulate a vulnerable system.

“With the honeypot, we found several machines trying to exploit the Bash vulnerability,” Blasco said. “The majority of them are only probing to check if systems are vulnerable. On the other hand, we found two worms that are actively exploiting the vulnerability and installing a piece of malware on the system. This malware turns the systems into bots that connect to a C&C server where the attackers can send commands, and we have seen the main purpose of the bots is to perform distributed denial of service attacks.”

The vulnerability does not impact Microsoft Windows users (ed. for a change), but there are patches available for Linux and Unix systems. In addition, Mac users are likely vulnerable, although there is no official patch for this flaw from Apple yet. I’ll update this post if we see any patches from Apple.

The U.S.-CERT’s advisory includes a simple command line script that Mac users can run to test for the vulnerability. To check your system from a command line, type or cut and paste this text:

env x='() { :;}; echo vulnerable' bash -c "echo this is a test"

If the system is vulnerable, the output will be:

vulnerable
 this is a test

An unaffected (or patched) system will output:

 bash: warning: x: ignoring function definition attempt
 bash: error importing function definition for `x'
 this is a test

US-CERT has a list of operating systems that are vulnerable. Red Hat and several other Linux distributions have released fixes for the bug, but according to US-CERT the patch has an issue that prevents it from fully addressing the problem.

The Shellshock bug is being compared to Heartbleed because it affects so many systems; determining which are vulnerable and developing and deploying fixes to them is likely to take time. However, unlike Heartbleed, which only allows attackers to read sensitive information from vulnerable Web servers, Shellshock potentially lets attackers take control over exposed systems.

“This is going to be one that’s with us for a long time, because it’s going to be in a lot of embedded systems that won’t get updated for a long time,” said Nicholas Weaver, a researcher at the International Computer Science Institute (ICSI) and at the University California, Berkeley. “The target computer has to be accessible, but there are a lot of ways that this turns accessibility into full local code execution. For example, could easily write a scanner that would basically scan every Web site on the planet for vulnerable (Web) pages.”

Stay tuned. This one could get interesting very soon.

blood pressure through the roof… 8/

i installed the daily security updates, and it removed my ability to send and receive email. 😑

it’s getting towards time for me to re-evaluate my dependence on computers.

ETA: so i decided that it was time to upgrade distributions, because precise is coming up against its EOL in a year or so. i upgraded to trusty, and things got distinctly WORSE: i am now looking at a “system loading” screen that has had a “progress” meter (which is just an animated graphic that has 5 dots that go from one colour to a different colour, and back, one dot at a time, to show you that “something’s happening”) for about half an hour with no change…

i posted once at kubuntu forums but there has been no response yet… 😐

i wonder how long it’s gonna take this time? 😑 if it’s anything like the last couple of times, it could take as much as a week to get things back to “normal” again… 😐

smb

i figured out stumbled across the method of making my mac accessible to my linux box that doesn’t include sftp, but does include smb. theoretically, i’ve got smb running on my linux box, as well (thus the ability to access my mac), but for some reason, my linux box doesn’t show up on my mac.

it’s nothing new. my mac has always shown up on my linux box, and my linux box has never shown up on my mac. the fact that i stumbled across the method of making my mac visible on my linux box indicates to me that it should be fairly easy to make the linux box visible from the mac…

but, so far, it hasn’t happened yet… 😐

why is this happening?

several of my web hosting clients have been having trouble with their email not getting through, recently. i went through a frighteningly similar situation last year, which ended up with my moving my web sites, lock stock and CGI scripts, to another server with a different IP address… same host provider, just a different IP address. the reason was that, for some unexplained reason, the IP address kept getting listed in the CBL… which means that someone using that shared-hosting machine (not me, or any of my clients) was using it to sent spam.

the same thing has happened again. i complained, they suspended someone, it didn’t fix the problem, they told me that it takes time to propagate, i waited, it didn’t fix the problem, i complained again, they told me that it was an exim misconfiguration, that didn’t fix the problem, i complained again, they told me that they had written to the CBL to get answers…

well, guess what?

copied from the CBL home page: “There is no supporting data or “evidence” file available for any given listing, and no mechanism to ask why any given listing took place.”

so i wrote back to them, and said “whatever is causing the IP to be relisted hasn’t gone away, and won’t go away with you guys waiting for a response that won’t come.”

whereupon they closed the ticket with no further response.

maybe it’s time to start looking for a cheap VPS… 😐

the most recent iteration of the battle of the computer is winding down…

i got my dropbox fixed. i still don’t know why or how, but at least it’s working. 😐

i just discovered that the issue with my “Recently Used Documents” menu is due to a bug in KDE4.11.0 which is why they’ve already released KDE4.11.1, but that doesn’t come until later… because apparently the KDE for kubuntu 12.04 is 4.8.5, which may mean that there’s something else bizarre going on… means that i have kubuntu backports ppa enabled (because of a problem that i was having with amarok, about a year ago) in my repositories list, and i’m not going to turn them off now… 😐

there’s a whole bunch of “new” information, via hobbit, regarding the linux compose key, which while not “new” to the world in general, is very new and interesting to me… and with a minimum amount of twangling, i got it set up. unfortunately, it doesn’t work when publishing to the web (which is not particuarly surprising), so a demonstration of it on this page would be extremely disappointing. πŸ˜‰

battle

so, the battle of the computer is largely over, but there are a few weird things, that i suspect are going to be more and more annoying as time goes on and they don’t get fixed, but at the same time, they are practically impossible to describe, and i don’t know how i’m ever going to fix them if i can’t even describe them reliably.

there have been some peculiarities that i have been able to adjust: my default browser changed from firefox to rekonq in the System Settings, but nowhere else, and it went back to doing what it was supposed to once i changed it, but i had to check two or three other places, because it wasn’t changed in my email client or ANY of my browsers.

also, immediately after i recovered from “the disaster”, i noticed that some, but, curiously, not all of my email filters weren’t working. when i went into the “Configure Filters” dialogue, all of the filters were there, but they didn’t do anything. once i re-established the things that each of them were supposed to do, they all worked the way they were supposed to.

however, there are some things that worked fine before, are non-functional now, and i don’t have the first clue how to fix them:

before the disaster, when i opened a URL from my email client, it immediately switched to the browser, and proceded to open the URL without making any sound. after the disaster, it opens the URL in a new browser window, but it doesn’t immediately switch to it, and sometimes (but not always) it makes a “swishyswishy” sound that i haven’t been able to figure out where it’s coming from, and (naturally) haven’t been able to figure out how to turn it off.

before my disaster, i had the ability to change my volume by pushing buttons on my keyboard, but since the disaster, my sound system settings are completely wonky, the buttons on the keyboard no longer work, and i can’t figure out how to make them right: instead of having two channels in my “Volume” settings (in the systray), one of which controled the volume for everything, i have three, or four if there’s a youtube video in my browser, and one channel controls the settings for the system bell, another channel controls the volume in amarok, and one channel controls the volume in the youtube video… i believe that, when i’m using something like VLC Media Player, i can show another channel in my mixer.

task-barthere’s one, in particular, that i already find fairly annoying: i have a “K” menu (rather like the “Start” menu in windoesn’t, but not so confusing) in my task bar, which has a “Recently Used” tab – recently used
but the fact is the recently used documents part of the tab hasn’t updated since i recovered my data… the recently used applications seems to work as expected, but the recently used documents hasn’t updated at all since i recovered my data.

i have a “0 B Removable Media” that appears to be a floppy drive in my devices menu, but i don’t have a floppy drive at all… i seem to recall being able to turn drives that i don’t have off in the devices menu, but there’s nothing in System Settings -> Removable Devices that does anything. also, my secondary internal drive, which should mount automatically at boot time, doesn’t actually mount until i click on it, at which point it demands a password before i can access any of its contents.

my “Dropbox” folder is no longer linked, and i can’t figure out how to re-link it. it was “moved” when it went from /media/home/salamandir/Dropbox to /media/salamandir/home/salamandir/Dropbox and when i finally figured out how to get it back to /media/home/salamandir/Dropbox it still told me that my dropbox folder wasn’t installed in the correct place, and instructed me to reinstall dropbox, but when i did, it didn’t do any good, so i “unlinked” my linux box from my dropbox account, and now i can’t figure out how to re-link it… BUT, for some unknown reason, my “Fremont Philharmonic” dropbox is still working the way i expect it to… which is REALLY weird…

sigh…

i’m installing clean. it’s too much of a hassle, and i’m too old and tired to be FUCKING around with a machine that doesn’t do what i want.

BUT unlike last time, i only lost my address book… and all of my old emails back to 2009 (which is the last time it happened). and, because of the fact that i backed up all of my email directories, i MAY not have even lost them, but if i did, so be it. it wouldn’t be the first time.

bother

i need the 3rd trombone part for a march that we are playing in the Ballard Sedentary Sousa Band. i have searched all over internet for it, and finally i found a place that offers it for sale — by itself (i.e. i don’t have to buy the entire score) — but they only offer it through “digital print”, which is to say, i pay money, and they offer me a way to display it on my computer screen (i.e. “digital”) and supposedly print it once from my screen… which is fine, i can display it on my screen without a problem. the problem is when i come to print it, the software downloads, but then it flashes a message that says “There has been a download error. Do you wish to try again?” and doesn’t get any further than that. 😐 so i call them up, and tell them what browser i’m using and they recommend that i use internet exploder

hah… hah… 😐

apparently their software that prints from an adobe acrobat file is ONLY usable on “windows and mac OS”…

cool, i have a machine that runs mac os… unfortunately their software doesn’t run on that, either. so i try a windows VMWare box on my wife’s computer (which is a mac)… with internet exploder no less, but it doesn’t work there, either… 😐

so i call my friend rick, who owns an actual windows machine, with internet exploder, and ask him to see if he can get the software to print. after some seemingly encouraging preliminary tries with the software, i even went and picked him up and brought him back to my place so that we could use my printer, because he doesn’t have one… however, it turns out that it doesn’t work on a dedicated machine running exactly the right software, either.

when i talked to the guy on the telephone, he said that “digital print is a new application that they’re trying out” and that “it doesn’t work for everyone”… at this point, i would be surprised if it worked reliably for anyone, but that’s also taking into account the fact that, when i was a software tester, all i had to do was be in the same room with a test machine in order to make it malfunction in some unexpected and entirely un-reproducible way…

at the same time, i understand that sousa was one of the founders of ASCAP, and that he was one of the progenitors of what we now know as copyright law, but at the same time, it was my impression that most of, if not all of sousa’s music was in the public domain, so i don’t really understand why this company can get away with being the ONLY source of this particular 3rd trombone part… and also i really wonder why they can ONLY sell me a “digital print” version, but they can’t send me a printed copy or a .pdf file that i can print outside of their defective web-based program.


i looked online to find out if there’s anybody locally that carries acqua della madonna, which made the extra fancy blue bottle out of which i made a water pipe. apparently, “THIS BRAND HAS BEEN DISCONTINUED“. the company that makes it, Acetosella, has a web site that is entirely made out of shockwave/flash applications, and when you click their “Acqua della Madonna” link, they come back with “Pagina in costruzione”… which, considering that the bottle i’ve got seems to indicate that it was filled in 1999, makes it very likely that they no longer make acqua della madonna…

to me this is an indication of one of two possibilities: the first possibility is that i keep the bong water pipe for myself (which is extremely likely, since it is a very cute bottle-bong)… the second possibility is that i sell it for $75 pr more, because it is no longer made… which would be nice, but i don’t expect it to happen.