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Topics - The Gorn

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My wife's 2012 vintage Windows 7 Dell Vostro PC fried this last weekend. Mainly it's for Facebook, occasional Word/writing, and email.

So she needs a new computer. (I'll start a second thread about the fried PC. It's a peculiar situation I have never seen before.)

What experience do any of you have with refurbished PCs with Windows pre-loaded?

She's open to Windows 10 and I think that would be a good move to have one current OS in the house.

We went out this weekend and actually bought a refurb at a Micro Center.

But I am returning the SOB tomorrow because I am not happy that the machine's reported specs when started do not match the stated sales specs.

This unit:

(Set your store to Sharonville, Ohio if it doesn't show inventory or the device.)

The system WE received, when booted, showed a 160 GB hard drive (confirmed as a WD model starting with WD1600... that is only 158,000,000,000 bytes)
and only 4 GB of ram.

The box was supposed to have 8 GB ram and 500 GB hard drive.  Curiously the box the PC was packaged in from the refurb place showed 8GB and 500GB. Apparently the refurb place is either bait-and-switching or made an honest and sloppy mistake.

Out of curiosity I went on Amazon and found multiple marketplace deals from certified refurb places for the same configuration and model of PC but with a 1 or 2 TB drive, for $185. About 45 less for the same or more system. We can certainly wait 2 days for shipping.

I'm pissed with Micro Center over this and they will have to earn my business back.

Can someone advise if a refurb is a good proposition for a light home user who would prefer to keep the computer for at least 5 years? I know that I can't even buy a bare hard drive, mobo, and CPU for this price much less a copy of Windows 10. New is out of the question for her use and our budget. I'm having to replace a lot of electronic shit in our house at the same time and I want to put as little as I can into this.

These are off-lease machines leased by businesses. I noticed at a doctor's office today that the nurse had exactly the same low-profile PC on the floor under the desk that this thing is. They must be sold or leased by the millions.

So, can we buy a refurbished PC with confidence that it will last at least 3+ years? At this price level I expect some "Kleenex" like dynamics  but if it lasts longer, great.


First of all, don't use the attachments capability of the board. It has too many restrictions and gotchas to be useful. I should hide those controls under every message editor window. I don't host any user images, with the exception of tiny, fast loading personal icon images and glyphs.

Secondly, you have to host your image or have it hosted already on the web somehow, in a way that any website like this can display it. For those of you with no website space because you don't have your own web sites, this means You don't have to register. You should be able to post an image anonymously. Save the link which you will need in order to post the image on this board.

Lastly, the image will only be displayed in your post when you have the image link in your message, BUT!  you have to surround the link to the image in an image tag.

The easiest way to do this is:

Paste your or other image link into the posting editor as text.

Then select the link with your mouse.

Then click the button above the posting editor, the miniature "Mona Lisa" to the right of the F in the red circle. If you hover the mouse over it, it says "insert image".

Pressing this button will build the image tags around your image link.


Really good, tasteless, but controversial memes for the viewing pleasure of the sophisticated and intelligent freethinker, and no others. :P  Politics and Society.

The individual who used to post here and is still a full member has not been seen in over a year here.

Some time ago the guy subscribed me to his mailing list. I don't think I did it. His emails are along the line of business intelligence and meta about current affairs and ideas affecting business. He sends it out to his business prospects for his own IT related business.

It was passingly interesting but long winded stuff.

I emailed the guy a few weeks ago and said "hey, cuz you subscribed me to your emailing list which I don't think I requested but I don't mind, I'd love it if you stopped in to this board."

His reply was he was too busy with projects to even consider it.

I'm sure it's more personal - he was one of many who bailed here when I made the horrific mistake of revealing my political leanings.

So very many people are not my friend now for reasons.

Anyway, I decided to unsubscribe.

It's like - buddy, you won't give me 2 seconds of your time, why the hell should i do the same with you?

Increasingly I view this board the same way. People only post here to wail about their own problems and are never seen for conversation unless it's some outrage that triggers them.

All Technology & Tech Help / Linux backup: What's now working for me
« on: April 21, 2018, 05:17:25 am »
Here is what is currently working for me, which I have been using since early March several times:

- The file compression utility package "dar." Dar is included in the package manager for Linux Mint. for more info.

- The backup utility backup-manager. See for details. Also seems to be part of the Mint package set.

DAR has HUGE advantages over all other backup formats. It saves file attributes, and the data storage format is designed to be recoverable even in the event of errors in the archives.

Here is my backup regimen:

Manual, using a portable hard drive. It could be easily automated if I were continuously connected to backup media.

I have created a series of content-specific config files. If you run backup-manager without any arguments it uses a default /etc based config file. Otherwise you can have per-task configs that you pass it on the command line.

I have chopped up backup into about 5 major groups based on total file sizes. The initial master backup of each group took a couple of hours apiece, at least.

- All "business" files: home based directories for email, Quicken/Quickbooks data, website archives, client work directories.
- All "self created media" files: images I take, video clips, etc.
- All downloaded media such as TV programs and movies we watch through streaming
- All Virtualbox hard disk files.
- A backup of /home/gorn but only files NOT covered by above backup groups.

Here's the relevant, important config file statements from the backup-*.conf files hat support my backup style.

# The mounted backup hard drive. Never changes.
export BM_REPOSITORY_ROOT="/media/gorn/SeagateBackup/linuxdesktopbackup"

#This forces incremental backup plus DAR archives (DAR captures all Linux file attributes like ownership, etc
#so I can use any external media such as vfat, SSH based remote drives, etc) Tar does not support many features of DAR.
export BM_ARCHIVE_METHOD="tarball-incremental"

# I left encryption off!

# Example of inclusion of files for a specific backup cluster
export BM_TARBALL_DIRECTORIES="/home/gorn/html /home/gorn/clients /home/gorn/accountingdata /home/gorn/personal /home/gorn/swprojects /home/gorn/agent-email

# For the /home/gorn catchall backup ONLY, I must exclude all of the file paths specified by other backup config files.
# So the following exclusion  statement in the /home/gorn file will look like this:

export BM_TARBALL_BLACKLIST="/home/gorn/images /home/gorn/music /home/gorn/html ...

There is no order in which the various backup configs may be applied. You may also backup some sets of files more frequently than others.

Last night, having an established set of backups already on the external hard drive, I had backup times for each script measuring from a couple of minutes, to 20 minutes for one, to an hour and a half for the 12 GB of changed data for the virtual machine files.

I'm making a content decision ... threads about technology policy will go into the public technology discussion forum. This includes but is not limited to discussion about social media policies and policy makers.

Discussions - Public / Using Fiverr for a real project
« on: March 26, 2018, 09:08:42 pm »
This stub post is provided for the benefit of search engines.

Only cool people who register and log in get to see the real meat of the thread at

A few months ago, I was asked in a thread:

> Encryption -- just check the default when you install and you're done (why CryptKeeper?)

The user meant check the encryption for the hard drive.

I don't think encryption for the hard drive is necessary or desirable. But there is always a need to cloak personal, financial and business files.

Also, I want to make that decision of what and how much to encrypt on the fly, not dedicate a fixed portion of the drive to an encrypted partition.

Cryptkeeper is a Linux system utility (with user interface accessories) for creating and mounting an encrypted virtual folder, say to your /home directory.

The programs Veracrypt and Truecrypt (discontinued but available in old versions) are available for Linux.

These programs, along with "rsync", are responsible for causing my PC to reboot or stop/power off for no good reason.  I have heard of something called a "kernel panic" which forces an OS shutdown. I am guessing these apps cause such a kernel panic even though they are user mode programs.

Rsync will quite often crash my system if I attempt to do a task kill of an rscync process (I ran into this a lot when debugging rogue backup processes.)

When Veracrypt has a drive mounted, my system can crash at any time when accessing that mounted volume.

Cryptkeeper has an entirely different method for mapping a file system compared to the usual encryption tools. This different method ensures the safety of the stored data. And, oh, I haven't had one crash attributable to Cryptkeeper.

In Veracrypt, you have one large file system file that contains the entire encrypted volume. Corrupt that file and you may lose the entire volume.

In Cryptkeeper, if you create an encrypted volume called, say, /home/fred -

The software creates a parallel hidden folder named .fred_encfs

When you mount /home/fred, every file you then create and work with is saved to an encrypted file with an encrypted name within the .xxxx_encfs folder. Folders and subdirectories are created in parallel within the encrypted file space directory, again with encrypted individual names.

It looks like this:

The important thing here is that only individual stored files, not all of the files, are subject to loss.

Also it's more efficient for backup/restore: a backup or restore can operate just on changed files, not by literally re-saving an entire encrypted volume that has changed.

Discussions - Public / Ok, So I Made Some Changes!
« on: March 16, 2018, 08:23:06 pm »
Inspiration struck last night. Then I spent intermittent hours repairing the damage caused by my inspiration. :P

New domain name:

My inspiration was simple: "Tech Career Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition". It hit me that this short phrase is the crux of what the forum has been about for the last 5+ years.

Not pie in the sky pseudo opportunities, not feelgood, but rather enduring and perhaps prospering some from IT during our civilization's end phase of capitalism.

The Wordpress site is now

I fell out of love with the "LifeAfterTechCareer" moniker once this new idea hit me. Life-After-tech-Career was too restrictive, and pedantic, and too much like self-help.

Tech Career FUBAR captures the idea of humorous cynicism, It's the spirit of nodding along to some company's bloated empty mission statement announcement while you attempt to catch a well deserved 40 winks in the back row of the employee auditorium.

This forum is

For at least the next year, will seamlessly redirect all article links and pages to the corresponding page of this site.

We needed a change. You guys hardly use this site. We badly needed a clarified mission, reflected in the title, plus some minimal graphics to rise above the aspie geek monotone of Verdana type everywhere.

Discussions - Public / Explanation of Changes to Board Areas
« on: February 26, 2018, 06:45:55 pm »
I did some content curation this evening. I believe the board will be more attractive to old members who should come back, current members, and possible new members, by creating broad but extremely specific subject matter areas.

In other words Brother Unix believes we had too MANY sections, but I went and added EVEN MOAR SECTIONS! BWAH HAH HAH!

I brought back some content-rich sections that I had for whatever reason buried several years ago. I also combed through the Public and the Logged in Member groups for subject specific posts. Lastly, I moved many topics that are not really sensitive or which fit one of the categories to their respective places.

I went through both the Public general and the logged in member general boards and moved stuff going back into early 2017 to subject related boards.

One other objective I have here is to increase the amount of stuff that Google will pick up, to drive traffic.

So here's the lineup now:

Discussions - Public
same agenda as before

Discussions for Logged In Members
same as before. Like the Public group, generalized but made hidden to visitors and web search.

I may ditch this section or I may not. I gutted it by curating its content to subject related sections so it doesn't have that many topics now.

B2B, Contracting, Consulting, and Real Business
A resuscitated board. Visible only to logged in users to promote frankness.

FTE, Job and Career Discussion
A resuscitated board. Visible only to logged in users to promote frankness.

All Technology & Tech Help
A resuscitated board. Public visibility. This is intended to be omnibus for ALL tech, from career related IT, software and programming to consumer electronics reviews.
Politics and Society
Same as before but now membership and visibility is only for members, who are added manually by admin. Ask and ye will be added or removed at will.

Private By Approval Discussion Area
Same as before - as always membership and visibility is only for members, who are added manually by admin.)

This is a technical experiment with the content from this board.

As you guys may know, this forum software (SMF) has a "Who's Online" display. (It's a link at the bottom of the home page of the forum in the "Info Center" block under a heading labeled Who's Online.)

Ordinary users see only a cut down version of this display without IP addresses (for privacy's sake).

A moderator or admin sees something that looks like the following:

Mostly this displays bots and search engines constantly visiting the forum. It's also always changing. But if you look at this image you'll see a couple of lines in the "Action" column labeled "Viewing the topic".

I've noticed that during the day these "topic" lines can be fairly numerous - perhaps 8-10 on each viewing.

Today I realized something significant: the visitors viewing these topics MAY be an expression of interest from real visitors, which may be funnelled through some search engine that is spidering the site.

I've noticed that when I click through these linked articles, they're often fairly classic, lengthy threads we had here a few years ago.

This might be a key to understanding how to attract more users to this site: monitor which threads are being requested the most.

So, I just built a simple shell script that is running every 10 minutes on my Linux desktop as a cron job:

1) It requests the URL of "Who's Online". (using wget)
2) The text from that page is run through grep and sed, in order to locate all lines containing the "viewing the topic" text and then strip out the URL.
3) The URLs being collected on each pass are appended, along with a time stamp, to a file containing the collected links.

I could put the script on one of my internet hosting servers to run 24 hours a day,  but at night the activity dies down and therefore having it run while my PC is active is just fine.

I'm noticing that almost every thread being viewed by bots, search engines or whatever is pretty high quality and interesting to revisit.

If anyone is interested I'll post a cleaned up list to the private section.

Discussions - Public / Amusing or Outstanding Image Memes
« on: February 22, 2018, 05:54:17 pm »
These CCF - approved image memes from unknown, possibly copyrighted sources may be used indiscriminately for social media, shitposting, and harassment of others.

Feel free to add to the thread.

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