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Topics - The Gorn

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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.

Credit Linux system tools with this, actually.

The groundbreaking magna opus featured in this post:'s-1999/

1) I found this gif on someone's page.

2) I decided that the Hampster Dance tune from the idiotic web site from 1999 would fit the action in the GIF perfectly. (Note: real animals are called hamsters. The website page is called Hampster Dance.) This was complicated by the fact that almost every version I could find was a techno remix, not the original tinny DIsney movie style tune.

3) I finally found a faithful clone of the oldest site on this page:

4) I dicked around with the inspector in Firefox and finally located an include of a JSON file.

5) The JSON file source had the reference to a WAV of the tune which I then downloaded. (up to here is  the hardest part! )

6) I then opened the WAV file and played it (on my Linux desktop.)

7) I opened the PNG file and the file viewer in Linux displays the animation.

8) I decluttered the screen and opened the PNG to about 1/3 the screen.

9) I opened "Screen Recorder" from Linux which records a window plus sound.

10) Specified the rectangle of the PNG viewer and started the screen recording. Making certain to not get my mouse or anything else in the recorded rectangle.

11) Saved the recording, an .mkv file, and uploaded it to Youtube.

In other words I didn't use any video compositing tools or something like HandBrake. I did this in a quick a dirty "kluged" way.

The PNG quality is so low and so is the WAV that I believe no quality was lost.

Discussions - Public / Anyone Watched Star Trek: Preaching (Discovery)?
« on: February 12, 2018, 07:48:51 am »
I watched the entire season. TORRENTED. No way I will pay for their politically correct dreck.

They have nice subliminal nods to the rest of the franchise and even to the seriously underrated "Enterprise" series. Even incorporated classic TOS series bridge sound effects into the background noises.

But too pompous exposition about social issues and idealism. Weird, silly, fantastical plots. The mirror universe story arc felt fantastical. Star Trek always made even far fetched scenarios somewhat plausible if you allow this and that but they went 10x beyond that just to over-use movie grade special effects.

It's been called "too gritty" but that's not the issue I have with Discovery. Rather the opposite. Too perfect, too manicured, too "woke for 2018".

^ I was going to suggest EXACTLY the same thing.

I've now been using Linux as a primary desktop for almost 4 months. I recently considered moving back to Windows as the boot OS. Right now I really don't want to do that!

I bought a very cheap copy of Windows 7 Pro from a seller on Ebay ($30) and installed and activated it as a VM under VirtualBox. I need Win7 for Quickbooks, Quicken, and, soon, TurboTax.

Linux has MANY UI and usability quirks that turn me into a raging madman. Also I insist against what aspies may declare, that Linux's UI is consistently slower than Windows. Just not as crisp.

But above all the core of Linux is *predictability*. No forced-upgrade bullshit and no continual battle for my machine and data against Microsoft's fiat imperatives.

This afternoon this individual joined the site:

The IP address of this new person resolves to the University of California Office of the President:

But what was very strange was that the "Guest" (not-logged-in) visitor count escalated around that time to over 80. That is extraordinary and there's no reason for it. This is a small unpopular site.

...Except that  there were dozens of visitors visiting one single post on this forum. There were maybe 4 or 5 posts each of which had many "visitors" landing on those pages.  And I kept seeing "Attempting to register" statuses.

It was too much of a coincidence for me.

I deleted the account of this "Sumprit" asshole with the Hotmail address. Who is probably a marbled mouthed SE Asian spammer.  I'm assuming that Sumprit was scoping the board out in preparation for spamming or an attack and that he was responsible or tied to the invasion of bots. 

I then located a plugin for SMF that lets me throttle the number of unregistered guests. I set the limit to 10 guests. It will still let search engines in.

It makes me angry how many utter jerkoffs there are on the internet. We dont' even have anything worth stealing here, and someone wants to rip us off anyway.  >:(

Bitcoin is distinctive for fiat currencies in that the cost to create one of the symbols of currency has a huge real world cost in computer equipment and electrical power.

The cost to create a unit of BTC currency approaches a large fraction of the current highly inflated market value of the unit. In some cases the bitcoin's minting cost approaches 50% of its market value.

THAT'S not an insane bubble? It would be like a $20 bill costing $10 to print.

According to a new analysis compiled by the Crescent Electric Supply Company, Louisiana could be the most appealing state in the country, based on one unusual metric.

Why? It’s cheaper to mine bitcoin there than in any other state in the U.S., based on the different electricity rates in different regions of the country.

Mining a single bitcoin costs $3,224 in Louisiana, a relative bargain considering the digital currency BTCUSD, -1.54%   last traded at $17,652.30, up 6.8% on the day, which brings its year-to-date rise to a massive 1,723%.

The most expensive state, in contrast, is Hawaii, where the cost of electricity brings mining costs up to $9,483, meaning it is nearly three times more expensive to mine bitcoin in Honolulu than New Orleans.

Rather than buying expensive bitcoin mining machines, criminals are seeding the computers the world-over with malware like "Fareit," which then implants bitcoin mining software on victim machines, sending the results of the mining process to intermediate transactional bitcoin wallets, which are harvested on a regular basis, moving bulk collections of bitcoin shards into anonymous bitcoin wallets not obviously connected to the intermediate harvesting wallets.

The result is criminals are able to extract the cost of production from the bitcoin mining process, making bitcoin mining almost infinitely more profitable for law-breakers than law-abiders.

How it can happen: I received a security alert email from "Wordfence", a popular security plugin for WordPress websites, that indicated that several plugins on's site have been taken over (purchased usually, by new developer-owners) and modified  in order to do Bitcoin mining calculations. The plugins when recognized get banned immediately as malware. I'm assuming that if the plugin is contaminated, the web hosting account that serves someone's WP site starts performing distributed BTC calculations.

Finally, the immense waste:

According to a research conducted by a U.K.-based energy comparison tariff service called PowerCompare, the average electricity used to mine bitcoin this year has surpassed the annual energy usage of some 159 countries. Specifically, the global average energy spent on bitcoin mining has far exceeded the electricity consumption in Ireland and most African nations.

I've gotten an impression that the computational effort to mine Bitcoin will increase asymptotically (IE, toward infinite or extremely large energy requirements) as the end of the possible BTC set is reached. So it will not get better.

Discussions - Public / My board identity
« on: December 22, 2017, 08:30:09 pm »
I've decided to keep up with the times by pivoting to crypto-currency.

Hence I have rebranded as Blockchain Gorn.

All Technology & Tech Help / Adventures in Phone Number Porting
« on: December 16, 2017, 08:44:30 pm »
I hereby declare myself a phone number porting ninja. I just rearranged my cell numbers and in the process resolved a long standing pain in the ass issue with my main business number I've had increasingly for several years.

I did everything I set out to do. But I found as a by-product that website information from random nobodies is often complete misleading horse shit.

First of all, my cell phone setup looked like this for the last year and a half:

- Business phone number on a BLU HD 6 smart phone, which is an increasingly wheezy and slow 2014 design running Android 5.0. No path to upgrades. And (since I didn't know what I was doing when I bought it) extremely skimpy 8 GB memory for apps, which turned out to only be 5.6 GB available after the OS's needs. I constantly ran out of room to install apps and I was constantly chasing memory use with a memory optimizer. (on that version of Android you can't transparently use an SD card as part of system memory, and when apps upgrade themselves they always move back into the limited phone memory.) I had had this phone number since 2000 when the line it was on was a Sprint line that was part of a dual ISDN data pair. After I got rid of ISDN I kept the number as a landline, I had it ported to Time Warner cable a few years ago, and then onto a Straight Talk cell account.  The BLU phone is extremely awkward to use for normal calls because of its size, so I always had to use an earpiece which worked OK but was one more piece of junk.

- Personal cell number, on a cheap $13 Verizon prepaid flip phone. 300 min or texts/mo for $15+tax, which was all I needed. I had the cell number since 2012 and several people in my life have the number.

Here's the deal with the two phone numbers. I had placed my business number on my websites for years, and also the phone number had started life as a land line. So in the last couple of years I would easily get 10+ spam calls a day on that line. Constantly: business loans, payday loans, marble mouthed Indian scammers, scammers with "arrest you if you do not respond" scam calls, electric providers, etc.

My business line was almost unusable for incoming calls because I never took any rings seriously due to the spam. And the existing apps I found did not do a great job of handling or detecting spam calls. Example: Should I Answer? app. It worked OK but got in the way every time a legitimate call came in.

My personal cell line has always been extremely quiet and only very rarely did it receive spam - usually misdialed calls. I've never publicized that number, ever, and only a few individuals have it. I got the flip phone because the BLU smartphone is impractical as a walk-around day to day phone. It's really in phablet size territory and can't be pocketed with most garments. And it's hard to hold in actual phone use.

But here is another thing driving this change of phone numbers. I upgraded my smart phone to a Moto G5 which has been exceptional, and is much easier to handle and carry and much better battery life and performance than the BLU HD. I realized after using it for a couple of weeks that I was not using the flip phone any. So I was wasting the payment on a second cell phone.

But I still had that suck business number on the nice new smartphone.

I want to keep the business number because it's registered with credit cards, and with tax agencies as a point of contact. But it had gotten useless for incoming calls because most calls are spam.

Here was my idea:

1) Move the business number off of Straight Talk onto a Google Voice account. Google charges $20 one time for porting in. This would spam proof the number, and also, GV has really good controls for things like ringing the phone only during business hours of the work week if you like.

2) With my smart phone now presumably dead with no plan, move my personal cell number from my cheap flip phone I stopped carrying, and onto the smart phone and onto a new plan.

3) My smart phone now has a *private* number with no record of spam, and I stop needing to manage two different cells. So I stop looking like a drug dealer with a burn phone, or a married man having an affair using a second cell phone.  :P >:D

Also - Google Voice can be used on an Android phone directly as  a secondary phone number, for dialing out and also inbound calls. I've tried it and works really well and the calls sound like normal calls. So I lose nothing with this change.

That's the goal. Here's how it went.

The difficulty I'm finding with porting phone numbers turns out to be acquiring the account number for the provider of the current cell service for the phone number that you wish to port to your new carrier or service.

That account number is not easy to acquire as an end user in certain situations, with some providers.

Sic: If I move off of Straight Talk, I need to know the account number, plus a PIN that you set as a user in their web dashboard, in order to have a successful port. (Straight Talk turns out to be fairly easy and transparent.) Same for any provider.

The old phone number provider won't respond to the porting-out request if the PIN or the account number are incorrect or invalid.

So, I ordered a new Straight Talk SIM card set from Walmart ($0.99) and once it arrived (so I could port to the smart phone ASAP) I got to work.

I found some conflicting info about Straight Talk's account ID. The preponderance of information seemed to say that your account number for porting purposes is the current carrier's SIM card number (actually the last 15 digits of it.)  (This is for a "bring your own phone" situation where you used a SIM that Straight Talk provides. There are other cases where you buy Straight Talk's own phone, where you provide the MEID of the phone instead.)

I went into Google Voice, paid my $20, and initiated the port using the SIM card number as the account number. This was around 1 AM.

By 9 PM the following evening my smart phone was inactive and my Google Voice account showed the ported business line. Yay! So I guessed right.

The REAL challenge was porting my phone number away from Verizon. This is where I ran into absolute website bullshit from internet bullshitters and idiots talking out of their asses.

The issue with Verizon Prepaid is that VZW makes it almost impossible to speak to a customer service rep as a prepaid customer. Their phone system runs you in circles with canned rote recorded bullshit such as instructional audio on setting up voice mail.

And, with prepaid you never receive a paper invoice or bill with an account number. Also, the web interface does NOT show an account number.  You need to ask one of those impossible-to-reach customer service people for your account ID.  In theory.

So most customers have no practical way to acquire their Verizon prepaid account number. You CAN in theory but you have to fight with their phone system.

So I first tried to figure out the account number on my own to save time. One idiot stated that you could open the page source of your VZQ user profile page, and your account number would appear in the source code. I found this, a 10 digit number. Also the same idiot said you append -00001 to the end of that number. (Verizon normal post paid cell accounts have the pattern of -00001 as trailing digits.)

Great, so I used that account number guess to try to port into Straight Talk from VZW.

After waiting a day and a half my phone account on ST was showing "port in progress."

And, oh, yeah. When you request to port your phone number, your existing carrier (the one you're trying to move off of) won't tell you if a porting attempt failed. And, the NEW carrier you're going to may tell you nothing either. As was the case here.

In general: I'm finding in the last couple of years that this process for cell to cell moves either happens in 24 hours or less, or, there is a problem stopping the process and you must find out what it is. If more than a day elapses with no change, you should call the carrier you are porting into and ask them what the problem is.

I got on chat that evening and found that my provided account number was incorrect and therefore the other carrier rejected it. So I guessed right.

Fine. So I ran the poor guy at the other end through several account numbers. It turned out that they could re-submit the request in real time and tell me the result in a few minutes.

The other guesses I found online based on idiotic web advice (which VZW all rejected) were:

The phone number (area+number).
The last four digits of the number.
I also tried the web site source code value without the -00001.

Nothing worked. And one of these tips was written by Verizon staffers on their community forum site!  >:(

Later that evening I found instructions on how to get through to a VZW prepaid wireless rep in a real phone call. You have to enter certain numbers at specific times in their "script". (Note to the board: if you want these instructions offer me something of value like a paid gig. :P I worked hard to find this, damnit!) Hint: the key was pressing 7 when the phone bot asks you to describe your problem.

Once I got that procedure, I called, was connected in a few minutes to a nice lady rep who spoke clear English, and I got the account number.

For VZW Prepaid it's a 12 character sequence with a leading alpha. Nothing in the number matches any info I found anywhere in my possession.

Clearly Verizon wants to lock in prepaid customers. Jerks.

I got on chat again with Straight Talk, and after a lengthy assed wait because of their system, provided the "good" account number.

The rep had apparently looked at my ticket and asked me "are you sure this is the right number" because of the earlier false tries. I made it clear that I wasn't guessing this time.

They applied the number at like 2:30 in the afternoon. They said it cleared OK and that my phone should be working by 4 PM. It had a signal and I was able to make a call by 3:30.

Later that evening I had a voicemail from Straight Talk on my home phone telling me that the port succeeded and that my phone should be working, which it was. Completely unnecessary and I would have preferred they had been as proactive when the attempt failed earlier.

Straight Talk did their job - I avoided talking to the dreaded time wasting phone support rep in India - BUT - they aren't very helpful if things go wrong.

You the customer must stay on top of the process. Which is probably why most people lose their cell number when they change carriers - hassle factor and passive aggressive vendors like Verizon.

I felt pretty good about wading through all that crap and achieving a desired result.

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