Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Generation Screwed.. again.

Just found out that the concessional contribution cap for superanuation has been reduced for the >50's.  So all the baby boomers who have been stacking the cash away and getting a reduced tax rate are sitting pretty... but us poor sucks comming along behind get taxed at a higher rate.

Yet again the party is over before we get there...

Logically I can rationalise that this may have been an interim plan to try to encourage more boomers to actually save for their own retirement rather than landing on the pension... but as part of a pattern of favoring the generation above while we in effect pick up the tab.... it sucks the big one.

This is really just another little way for us to pay boomers to have a good life and then, only those who are wealthy enough to make voluntary contributions over $25000 per year.  Clearly people who need help.

Amazon's suckiness

Honestly, I should know better.

Why do I keep buying stuff on the internet?  Is it the unsatisfying allure of cheapness? Is it the myth of easy availibility? Is it the rank promise of access to otherwise unavailible stuff? 

Or was I just desperate?

I think about half the purchases I have made remotely have had some sort of unwanted aspect to them.  Scammy products, shitty service, crap delivery time, rip-offs and missing parts.  The other half have been fine.  Usual over the counter transactions from people who are honest, forthright and are trying to do a fair deal.   You know those little businesses, specialists in something or other that have found a niche on the internet and are just working it.

Then there is Amazon.  The 3 million pound something in the room.  Its not a business... its a blight.  Don't get me wrong, I have endless uses for Amazon.  Their catalog is fantastic.  Their ideas a brilliant, their marketing is top notch.  Their follow-through is funcking horrible.

I can only assume that they tend to service their customers in the US better, and as there is an Amazon.uk, their british customers get similar treatment.  But for some reason, being at the top of the world as we are out here.... makes it much harder to actually deliver a fucking product that on their lying, two faced fucking web page, with dynamically updated information and a massive back room of smart cockroaches ( I can only assume) they cannot actually figure out how to deliver that which they have promised.

If I give you an address and some money... and you have a product and a guy who carries shit from your place to other peoples places... it doesnt seem so hard to get A to B.  Especially if you do it hundreds of thousands of times a day.  You get good at it.

I can forgive the whole... "Oh suddenly its out of stock" routine when its a tiny mom and pop shop that has not heard of computers... but fuck me... Amazon is a computer.  They have supply chain managment down to a tee.  For them to promise to deliver something when they take the money.... then three fucking weeks later send me an email saying they are finally dispatching a couple of bits of the order..... really pisses me off.  I know that they knew... at the second my money left my account,... they knew that they could not deliver on their promise.  And they did not fess up.  So, I like a dickhead, have been left with the assumption that the package would arive any day. 

Even shonkey shit from Ebay coming from Hong Kong gets here in under a week. Bloody Amazon are just lying sacks of shit.

First rule of business... don't sell something you don't have.  It involves both gambling and lying.

This is fine when you have a contractual obligation with someone else to deliver that thing on a specific day... then you can sell based on that knowledge.... but to just not have shit... and not even have a plan for getting shit... and still selling it.... thats outright fucking lying.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Recruiting Strategies


This is an interesting and well illustrated article on a honeypot project with a good analysis of the results.  Very nice.


In a melancholy moment, I thought I would create a timeline of my computer history...

Microbee - When I was in primary school in ... well a long time ago. (About 84-85 IIRC) I was selected as a computer teacher to tutor other students (and a few teachers) in the basic operation of the systems. 

Atari 2600 - Friends game system.  So many hours spent. (Late 80's?)

Apple IIc - Friends first computer.  Many hours spend playing Wizardry...explored my first computer graphics.... wrote simple games from a book I found at school and learned how to hack saved game files.....

Commodore 64 - An older student brought one of these to school and impressed us all. (85?)

Apple II - This was the first machine at highschool.  (86?) We learned Pascal programming on them. 

Apple Macintosh - The school picked up a bunch of these.  I built my first game using Hypercard.  It was a graphical adventure game... before I even knew what adventure games were.  We were playing Trolls Tails and Where in the world is Carman Sandiego.... so they probably seeded the ideas.

Apple IIgs - I remember we had one of these in the computer room.  It was a bit special and I don't remember doing much with it.  Mostly used Macs all through high school.

IBM PC??? - We were taken to the Industrial Arts room and allowed to look at the only PC in the school. It was running a plotter!!!  Whoot.  It was about all I knew about them for years.

TAFE years

486sx - My first computer that I owned. (Not counting calculators and watches etc)  I bought it for $500 bucks and if memory serves it has a 100MB HD and some nominal amount of RAM.   This got upgraded to a 486dx2 66 chip at some point, had more RAM added and finally a bigger 500MB HD.  It had part of the wiring harness terminated backward which blew the fuse on the big HD when it was turned on.  That HD cost more than $500 at the time, so you can only imagine the utter shock.  Thankfully I knew this hardware guy who managed to return it as defective and got me another one... which did exactly the same thing before we figured out what was going on.... I just about fainted when my computer killed the second one.  They figured it out and I cut the offending wires out of the wiring loom myself....

Generic Compaq/Dell/Gateway machines in the labs very non-descript and totally forgettable.  I learned about Windows 3.1 and 3.11 with Novel Netware as the Network OS. How to work my way through the network configuration and boot scripts to get the damn things to boot and be stable.  I did so many certificates and diplomas in quick succession that its a bit of a blur.

My personal machines grew and evolved...

586 -> Pentium.  More RAM, Bigger Disks, Better Monitors, new Motherboards as I killed the old ones...

Pentium II at some point.  Then I think I got into AMD chips around this time...

I think they are all still in the garage except the 486dx2.

I finally upgrade to an AMD Athlon 64 which was my last hand built PC.  It had a couple of graphics cards go through it, various RAM and HD's.  It was a workbench type computer... mostly had its guts hanging out and a couple of 19" HP monitors.  Its where my love of dual head computers started.

For the past couple of years, I have been on HP laptops from work.  They are nice and stable but lack a little of the crazy early years of needing to jiggle cables or re-run an audio casset to get a program to start.

I now maintain a small network of media centers and servers with various OS's using all recycled bits at home.  The kids are getting bigger and have outgrown their first laptops.... I will be building them their first workstations soon....

My parents have moved from an origional IBM 8088 to (I think...) a 486 or very early pentium running Windows 95 at the moment.  They still use a tractor feed dot matrix printer and it does what they need.

My work machines have grown in capacity, with my current box being a i7 running a quad-head configuration with Win7 Enterprise.  It's nice and does what it should (mostly... part from the network adapter not waking up sometimes from sleep mode) but it still not much different from where I started.  The hardware is quite identifiable... the software still uses the same models.... the concepts are the same..  Its faster and more stable thankfully and I have not lost work to a crash or bad backup in years.... but.... honestly.... very little has fundamentally changed.  Most of the skills I learned are still relevant.  Lots of details have changed over the years, the bugs have evolved and the viruses are more invasive.... Oh and I still can't affor "cutting edge" gear....

Monday, July 2, 2012

...Whoah! Blue Pill?

Strange file behaviour.

I VNC'ed into a Ubuntu server and was happily doing some work... all the while copying files out of the same server to another windows machine via windows share from Samba. To which I was also in a VNC session. No problem.

I tried to copy a particular file from one machine to the other from the Windows machine... and got an error about "Cannot copy File. Check that the file is not in use etc"  on the Windows machine.  Weird?  I though that nothing was using the file... so I checked everything on the Ubuntu machine and it looked good.  The file had been there for days and the last process to use it had finished cleanly.
Then in the VNC session, I copied(duplicated) the file on the Ubuntu machine and moved the copy into a new folder just to prove to myself that I could work with the file.  File duplicated ok. I then tried again to copy it to the windows box... again with the same error about file in use... blah blah.  Stranger.

I then tried to open the file on the Ubuntu machine... the player did not have the correct codec...so that didnt work.  I then did some other work... and looked back at the VNC window and a new file had appeard with the same file name and some random seeming characters appended to the end.  Looked like a temp file or a cache or something.  I selected the new file in the Ubuntu session and watched the file size tick upward as some process wrote to the new file.... it stopped at about ~450MB and seemed to be done. All quiet for a while....

I then did some other work... came back to the VNC session and all three files were gone.  GONE.  I had not deleted them.  One was a duplicate in a different folder... WTF?

I checked the trash... I looked in all the other folders incase I had accidentally dragged them somewhere... they were write protected from the windows share... WTF?  The new folder was still there.  All the copy operations had already failed.  There were no files at the other end.... Seriously...WTF?

Something ate my file... and then ate the temp file and then hunted down and ate the copy of the file I had stored elsewhere.

The only thing I can think of is that Anti-virus on another machine saw the Share, scanned the files and decided it was evil for some reason and then killed it and ditto the copy; but its not in the history of any of the AV's on the network.... so I'm still at ..WTF? Where's my damn blue pill?

Edit: Later.

Yep.  It was an antivirus program on another machine proactivly scanning.  Found a trojan codec downloader embedded in the video. Usual scam crap.  Anyway, mystery solved. Not sure why it took so long to show up in the logs.... Thats probably the bit that bothered me the most.  I just could not find anything that would admit it was involved. 

Now I have backtracked to the torrent and found comments on another site about it being a scam file.... back to reality I guess...