starting-blast landlocked

Category: oops

I now pronounce you legally croked.

I can’t say as I’ve ever had to go cleaning up a government snafu of this variety, but two people in a short amount of time don’t get to be so lucky. In Calgary, Tamille Holloway showed up for a doctor’s appointment only to be told she wasn’t supposed to be breathing. No explanation on causes, theories, or exactly who’s ass would be in a sling for gumming up the works, but there it was. The flesh said she’s very much alive, the paperwork said not even.

Skip across the border and all the way to Ohio. Here, Donald Miller got a lesson in what happens when you decide to up and skip out on child support payments. And what happens, more or less, is the government–or your ex-wife–decides to up and have you declared dead. He was in court to try and untangle that hot mess, but as Murphy would have it, death declarations–at least in Ohio–have a statute of limitations and he’s apparently well past it.

Never let it be said that governments and exes can’t team up to put a right royal screwing to your life. We should probably aughta rewrite the expression. Hell hath no fury like a government with amnesia or an ex with a grudge. I just hope if it ever happens to me they’ll invite me to my own funeral. I mean, they’re not gonna get much out of me for benefits, so they may as well let me mourn alongside them.

Here’s your sign, the sequel.

Remember me? You know, the guy that says he’s done with this whole radio silence thing and then falls off the blogging cliff for half of forever? Yeah. Hi.

Remember her? If not, I’ll remind you. She thought it might be fun to take the sidewalk in order to bypass a school bus. The judge she ended up in front of, well, didn’t. And for her efforts, she was handed an idiot sign.

Fast forward a good while. That self same judge is still doing his thing over there in Cleveland. And along comes Richard Dameron to take his turn at it. This particularly pleasant fellow called 911 with threatening the cops in mind. So as a repayment, Judge Awesome ordered him to park himself outside a police station carrying his own idiot sign.

“Actually, I didn’t want to do it,” Dameron told Fox. “But the judge said to do it, so I am going to be the man and stand up.”

Dameron was convicted of threatening officers in 911 calls.

“I was being an idiot and it will never happen again,” says the sign.

I’m long past having any hope this’ll set an example for the next one–I think I sort of thought that about little miss sidewalk, too. But I’m willing to take bets on whether Lugnut over there picked anything up on it. Although, reading that someone’s managed to put together a collection of these might be moderately more entertaining…

The only Heartbleed left now is the NSA.

So pretty much everything exploded this week. If you were paying attention, you were probably warned not to go near things like your online banking site, or pretty damn near anything that advertises itself as having a secure connection. This is because of a pretty lethal bug in the software that provides that secure connection, in several cases, that pretty well rendered your secure connection worse than no security at all. There’s a pretty nice, if a little technical, explanation for it written up by the guys I’m paying for the use of this server, but the cliff notes version is the hole’s a few years old, and can provide someone who knows what they’re doing with access to pretty much any information stored in the memory of a server with the buggy software. So if someone knew how to take advantage of that security hole, they could potentially have access to usernames, passwords, creditcard numbers–basicly anything that happened to be in that server’s memory at the time.

There’s an updated version of that software in the wild now that plugs this security hole (note: not that anything on the server uses secure connections at the moment but I’m running that updated software now anyway), so as people get around to applying it that should be much less of a holy hell what in creation have I done kind of problem. Which is awesome, for guys like you and me. A little less awesome, though, for guys like the NSA.

The internet is still reeling from the discovery of the Heartbleed bug, and yesterday we wondered if the NSA knew about it and for how long. Today, Bloomberg is reporting that the agency did indeed know about Heartbleed for at least the past two years, and made regular use of it to obtain passwords and data.

While it’s not news that the NSA hunts down and utilizes vulnerabilities like this, the extreme nature of Heartbleed is going to draw more scrutiny to the practice than ever before. As others have noted, failing to reveal the bug so it could be fixed is contrary to at least part of the agency’s supposed mission:

Ordinary Internet users are ill-served by the arrangement because serious flaws are not fixed, exposing their data to domestic and international spy organizations and criminals, said John Pescatore, director of emerging security trends at the SANS Institute, a Bethesda, Maryland-based cyber-security training organization.

“If you combine the two into one government agency, which mission wins?” asked Pescatore, who formerly worked in security for the NSA and the U.S. Secret Service. “Invariably when this has happened over time, the offensive mission wins.”

So when the smoke clears, the NSA will have at least a little bit less access to John Q. User’s data–at least until they end up mandating another hole in some other layer of security software. But until then, it looks like the fine folks at stalker central will end up being the only ones dealing with a case of heartbleed when it’s all done and dusted. Now if it was only that easy to switch off the exploits they helped introduce.

How I ended up firing Windows XP.

So for anyone who happens to be paying attention, april 7th is XP dies a death day. Microsoft has decided after what’s probably shot past the 10 year mark to drop support for the OS. Which, escentially, means if you’re still running that version of Windows, you’ve just officially volunteered your machine to play host to all manner of new and interesting malware creations–you have probably also had your spamming ass slammed by my oversensitive firewall, but that’s another story. Because it’s me, and because I never turn down an excuse to see how far I can stretch things until they break, my finally tossing XP wasn’t entirely a conscious “this needs to happen” type decision.

I’ll freely admit I put off switching operating systems until almost the last minute. Largely it was lazyness–I have a crap ton and a half of stuff that needs moved from one OS to the next, and when the thought crossed my mind initially I was in the process of throwing together a multiple-part archive of pretty much all of it so the machine I was using at the time could be wiped for the upgrade. But other parts included things like I wasn’t entirely sure I wouldn’t be replacing the machine I was using a ways down the road, or I couldn’t 100% guarantee Windows 7, which is where I was planning to migrate to, would run on that machine–I figured it would, because the thing originally shipped with Vista, but Vista was also 7 years ago so that wasn’t exactly a very stable benchmark either. So I was alternating between holding out until I could find a new machine, and doing the occasional bit of digging to see if my machine would collapse under the OS or not.

Things kind of happened in fairly short order after that. Plans developed that saw May getting herself a new machine, so the Windows system she was using–which at the time ran Windows 8 (don’t get me started)–sort of stopped having any actual use. My machine had started showing its age, and there was a point that I actually wasn’t entirely sure it’d last long enough for me to do what needed doing with it to keep my various crap from falling into system failure oblivion. Fine time for me to start experimenting with new backup systems, right? So I played around with that (that’s another entry), and managed to get things to a point where if the system spontaneously caught fire it wouldn’t do anything more than torch my corner of the office. Which, okay, would have sucked royally, but my stuff was safe.

Okay. So that’s one headache down. Now I was comfortable enough that if the system decided to fry every circuit going, or if Microsoft decided to change their mind, pull support early and launch an update that escentially disabled every system in the place still running that OS, I wasn’t gonna be hurting too horribly bad. That made the next steps very nearly natural. Since May’s new machine was here and set up, May’s Windows machine became my Windows machine. Since I will never willingly use a Windows 8 machine for anything other than something new to put Windows 7 on, my next project became wipe the machine, and toss on an OS that doesn’t make me want to consider buying stock in migraine medication. I spent the next couple days manually rebuilding the machine, including hunting up wireless network drivers that I could have swore Windows 7 had built in when we bought that damn card. Then it was take a better part of the next week or so downloading and restoring the backup from the old machine, and my eventual turned emergency OS swap ended up happening with only the removal of a couple strands of hair.

And for the last couple months or so, well before Microsoft flipped the switch what turns all your XP into hacker heaven–yes, this apparently may or may not include most ATM’s, I fired XP and haven’t looked back. I may kick myself for it in 6 months when I go looking for something I knew I had on the old machine and poof, it forgets to exist, but you’ll have that. And in future, I do believe I’ll start the upgrade process well in advance of potential catastrophic implosions. On the other hand, that was kinda fun. Perhaps I’ll do it again…

Fifty shades of gone.

So I take an age and a half off blogging, again, and that’s the best thing I can come up with? See also: why I shouldn’t take an age and a half off blogging. But since I did, and then I came up with this, I might as well do something useful with it. How about highlighting why it is you shouldn’t take seriously everything you read? Because clearly, taking everything you read as seriously as people in London clearly do results in a call to the fire department because you wanted your very own Fifty Shades of Grey award. The fire department, however, strongly recommends that maybe you should just not.

“I don’t know whether it’s the Fifty Shades effect, but the number of incidents involving items like handcuffs seems to have gone up,” said Third Officer Dave Brown. “I’m sure most people will be Fifty Shades of red by the time our crews arrive to free them.”

Since 2010, London firefighters have treated almost 500 people with rings stuck on their fingers, nine with rings stuck on their penises, and one man with his penis stuck in a toaster.

Rescue crews also helped five people with hands stuck in shredders and 17 children with their hands trapped in toys.

And now we know where today’s education system has lead us. For future reference, when the general rule is “do not try this at home”, they’re probably not kidding. Then again, I suspect neither is the guy with the toaster wang–anymore. Any guesses how many shades of gone in the head you’d need to be to consider some of these an option? I’ll give you 50.

Bad idea: coming away with $20000000 worth of tax fraud success. Worse idea: advertising it.

If it wasn’t for people like Rashia Wilson, I would have a very boring Sunday. Or at least I’d have one less reason to be sitting here snickering. She was probably Tampa’s most successful tax cheat, draining enough money from the government that throwing a $30000 birthday party for her daughter, who wasn’t even old enough to really appreciate it I’m sure, was as trivial to her as running off to the store and buying a case of pop would be to anyone who actually made money the somewhat honest way. Or at least she was, until she stood atop Facebook and declared herself officially the queen of tax fraud. Her highness was granted a reception more than befitting her status, and 21 years of solid servitude. Funny thing, that. Seems no one told her it’d be her doing the serving. But I’m sure that was a minor oversight.

Ottawa loses its mind. Again.

One of the things I miss when I’m behind on things is local braindeadness. Particularly local braindeadness to the tune of let’s screw with traffic more than normal because speeders. So I missed it when Ottawa’s council decided it would be a mighty fine idea to experiment last summer.

People don’t like to slow down in residential areas. This is a problem not just in Ottawa by any means. But Ottawa has decided to take it to new, interesting and quite probably moronic levels. Rather than posting signs warning of the speed limit on residential streets on, you know, the side of the road where–really, who knew–signs of any variety belong, they’ve decided they’d be more beneficial if they were right smack in the middle.

Now, I haven’t seen any major headlines of massive pile-ups on some of these streets where that was going on, but I’ll let you just rifle through any number of the several million possible scenarios wherein this proves to be an absolute dog of an idea. The signs were supposedly spring-loaded, so they could right themselves should a driver end up running them down, which tells me they’ve at least entertained the idea of one of those scenarios already. And yet, this is still a thing.

They say if the experiment goes well, they’ll make a return to doing exactly that starting this spring and on more streets. I love this city, don’t get me wrong, but christ jesus could we maybe talk about something that takes a tiny bit more thought? Like, let’s say, an actual police presence on problem streets? You know that expression there’s never a cop around when you need one? For validation of this expression, consult this brainstorm. Although I suppose if an accident is born out of some driver not expecting a sign to be straight in his path, that’d be one way of solving that problem, at least. But I kind of figured our government would be slightly better at not just replacing that problem with a higher priority one. That’ll learn me.

Criminology 101: some DIY required.

I often wonder if some of the folks who end up doing the kind of things what land them in handcuffs actually have people they go to for, you know, learning’s sake. I mean things like how to get in, get the junk and get out without being stupid enough to get yourself caught. And then I get to wondering, if there were an actual, honest to god educational course on the subject, what would it look like?

If the name wasn’t taken already, I’d think they’d hand it something along the lines of criminology. Hell, some places still might–I mean it’s the study of criminal activity, right? So does it matter much if it’s to study how to counter the activity, or how to pull it off relatively seemlessly? Or maybe they’re kind of one and the same–if you’ve taken the course, you probably know what not to do, so presumedly you wouldn’t be stupid enough to actually do it. Presumedly.

Then I took it a step farther in my internal buildings of the unofficial law breaker’s handbook. If there was an actual course geared towards helping people to be better, less braindead criminals, what kinds of things would it teach? What kinds of things would you already need to possess to actually get into the course? Presumedly you’d need to be the do-it-yourself type, at least for the most part and on at a minimum a basic level. You know, know how to cover your ass at least until you’re away from the place you just robbed and you can slap a bandage on the cut you walked away with after breaking in. Things like that. Some common sense might also be a pretty basic requirement for a course like that–for instance, if injury is obtained during the performance of the following activities, proceed immediately to an authorized–non-law-abiding–medical facility. Do not call 911. Calling 911 will result in your immediate arrest and withdrawal from the program. On the other hand, I suppose the folks what might have developed that idea are probably finding it a little tough to nab some of that there government funding…

Honest officer, I’m not growing weed. Smoking it, however…?

I’m starting to think maybe Tim Marczenko would have had an easier time of it if he’d just admitted to going for a stroll through a Durham area forest to check up on how his pot plants were doing. Sure it might have landed him in maybe a little stretch of legal hot water, but it probably wouldn’t have made him come off quite so much as though he’d maybe been enjoying a little too much of the end result. Instead, he took a sort of different path. He played the searching for Bigfoot card.

A Toronto man claims he was harassed for walking through thick brush in Durham region by a police officer who accused him of being a pot grower.

Tim Marczenko denies the claim, saying he wasn’t growing dope, he was investigating sightings of Bigfoot.

“He asked me, ‘What are you doing out here?’ I told him I was investigating a Bigfoot report and he said, ‘Wow, you’re a terrible liar,’ ” said Mr. Marczenko. ” ‘I know it sounds crazy but I’m not lying about it,’ I said. He kept telling me I was lying about the situation.”

Funny thing, that Bigfoot line, Tim. Couple guys used that one before you. They’ve probably got court dates coming up here shortly if they haven’t had them already. It’s almost like you folks up and got your fix from the same place…

That’s what ya do with a drunken traveller… (*)

So. I get all ready to mock the hell out of another city’s politicians for doing something absolutely braindead stupid, and instead they go off and throw some common sense at me. I mean what’s with that, anyway? Aren’t they all supposed to have given that up as a prerequisit for, uh, being politicians? So what’s the occasion? As it turns out, cab companies in Woodstock get an aweful lot of, shall we say, less than sober passengers on weekends. Who knew? Could probably say the same thing for, say, Toronto. Or Ottawa. Or Kitchener. Or pretty much anywhere that has bars and taxi services. Some of these passengers don’t necessarily have the ability to keep all the booze they’ve slammed before calling their cab where it belongs. Or, for that matter, keep just about any other fluid that doesn’t belong in the back of a taxi cab from, you know, being in the back of a taxi cab. According to folks that are pushing for this, it costs about $120 to have a cab professionally cleaned after one of these alcoholicly fluid-filled episodes. The city’s solution? You break it, you buy it.

The City of Woodstock is looking into imposing a $120 charge on anyone who vomits or leaves other bodily fluids in taxis.

Taxi companies in the southwestern Ontario city have been complaining about an increase in intoxicated passengers on Friday and Saturday nights.

A taxi industry representative recently told council that vomit and other body fluids must be dealt with as a bio hazard and the affected cab must be taken off the road until it is professionally cleaned.

That costs about $120.

The city plans to consult with its solicitor, police and bylaw enforcement officials before coming up with a report on how to deal with the issue.

Of course I wouldn’t place any money on not hearing about this again because someone’s taken the idea to court, but hey, if more cities did this they’d probably not need to be charging the responsible folks so damn much for, you know, being the responsible folks. Yeah, I know–I really aughta stop with this whole thinking thing. But since that’s not gonna happen…

(*): for maximum effect, sing the title of this post to this song and enjoy. Then, see if maybe your city does something similar. And for the love of all things sane if the answer is no, ask them what the hell they’re not thinking.

H2O is wicked evil dangerous! Related: the US education system strikes again.

I know, old story is old. But on April Fool’s Day, the last thing you probably want to be known for is being a town full of fools. Which probably means the last thing you want to do is flip your everloving lid when a couple of morning show DJ’s make the announcement that dihydrogen monoxide has been reportedly leaking from area taps and residents should use caution. And yet, in fort Myers this past April, the locals up and did exactly that, with the station they were on immediately and indefinitely suspending the DJ’s in question for broadcasting that water has been detected in the city’s water supply. And there was at one point discussion of possible felony charges for calling in a false water quality issue–further cementing that the administration in the fort Myers area is officially no more qualified to run the city than any of the folks happening to have called the thing in. Folks, I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. Yes, even people who’ve been put through the US education system. And then some fool or fools go off and pull one of these and all that doubt just kind of takes off in that there other direction. I mean I get these two got all technical fancy on you. And sure, okay, they maybe aughta not do that, or maybe be a little more gentle about it–you’re new to all this, I can see. But isn’t that why folks like the guys at Google invented things like, you know, Google? When in doubt, look it up. Or better yet, take 5 seconds and glance at the calendar already. And for the sake of all things sane, don’t dare let any of that dihydrogen monoxide get anywhere near you–it may very well impair what’s left of your otherwise amazingly good judgement, and well, we just can’t have that. You’ve already been doing so well.

It runs in the family.

Things you probably wouldn’t want to be admitting you come by honestly from the parental units may or may not include some of the obvious things. Like, for instance, your inability to bring in a steady income that didn’t come in on a wellfare check. Or an impressive inability to keep your mouth shut when the best possible thing you could do to save yourself, your friends and what little reputation you might possibly have left is to keep your mouth shut. That list may also include a tendancy to put yourself behind the wheel of a vehicle after having had a few too many. If you’re a 27-year-old from Innisfil who’s just been brought up on DUI, you’re probably not thinking you should probably give your mom–who would likely also be brought up on a DUI charge if she were on the road–a call to come bail your ass outa the clink for that very reason. You are therefore not, in fact, this guy. And I have that much more respect for you on basic prinsiple for it.

Police say it started when an officer pulled over a speeding vehicle in Innisfil, Ont., just before 1 a.m. Sunday.

Investigators say the driver, a 27-year-old Newmarket, Ont., man, failed a roadside screening test and was taken to a police station north of Toronto, where he was charged with impaired driving.

Police say when his 53-year-old mother came to retrieve him a few hours later, the same officer smelled alcohol and made her take a breathalyzer test.

They say she failed the test and has been charged with impaired driving.

I don’t imagine the “what were you thinking” conversation comes off altogether that authoritatively from the cell across the hall, mommy dearest. But, A for effort? My money’s on next time he’s on his own. In the meantime, at least he can say he got this one honest.

In Terrorland, quoting Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is a problem.

It’s been a while since I’ve gotten around to mocking the US’s nervous twitch when it comes to anything that has the slightest potential to come within a solar system of terrorism. Thank you so very much, Techdirt, for saving me from withdrawal and giving me this.

First, from the increasingly stupid United States of America, a story of how a teen’s life got flip-turned upside down. You see, he was just on the playground where he spent most of his days, minding his own business. You know, chilling out, maxing, relaxing all cool and sometimes with this friends he liked to be shooting some b-ball outside of the school.

WAIT. DID HE JUST SAY SHOOT AND SCHOOL IN THE SAME SENTENCE? ARREST HIM! Once you’re done laughing, know that that’s exactly what happened to 19-year old Travis Clawson because a doctor’s office called his voicemail to confirm an appointment, heard the above line, thought he was shooting people outside the school and called cops. Who arrested him first, then spent the 20 seconds it takes to realize it’s the theme song from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. No word on whether Carlton showed up to dance and everyone laughed at him.

Once you’ve had time to properly reorient your brain, I’ll let you consider this for a minute. Let’s assume, just for the sake of argument, the receptionist what made the phone call was… how can I put it… TV stupid. Let’s also assume, being that she’s TV stupid, she’s not once even by accident overheard that damn theme song. Can probably also assume she’s got a bit of a hearing issue, but I’ll let you decide to make that leap all by your lonesome. The Techdirt article takes the position that this could have probably been resolved by about a minute and a half of questioning. I’m going to take things slightly further–say, saving the cops the driving time. Receptionist has this guy’s phone number. gave the info to the cops, obviously. So, uh, rather than lock down an entire school district to find one innocent 19-year-old who *isn’t* TV stupid, why not just call the kid’s cell? You know, actually hear–and maybe record–the voicemail greeting for yourself. Then you, without having to leave the comfort of your own office, can decide he’s quoting TV theme song lyrics and that’ll just be that right quick. Of course this is probably also why I wouldn’t cut it in law enforcement, the blind guy thing notwithstanding.

Also: 3 hours to search a locker? Tell me it required congressional approval and to take the kid to a secure facility so he can hand out the combination code. Please?

Student descression is advised.

Being an academic is a drag. I can see that. I mean I’m just getting back into the whole thing from a student’s perspective and it’s threatening to give me a headache. I can only imagine the level of frustration your average professor must be dealing with. Physical stress, emotional, hell probably even sexual frustration–all that time spent on research instead of taking the politician’s way out and nailing your secretary after hours and praying to god she didn’t stick a camera in the corner. See? I get that. So naturally you might be looking for a little bit of a… how do we say it… sexual release. Naturally, being the only one in the classroom and, well, a long way from home–this one was from Belgium and visiting a Dutch university, you’d resort to the source most commonly tapped by people with lots of time on their hands and access to the internet–you’d go for the porn. Just, in future, you might want to possibly consider disconnecting your porn machine from the projector you were using for your lecture. I mean, it’s just a suggestion. but I figure if you’d rather the folks watching the lecture online didn’t actually stick around for the encore, that might have been the smartish thing to do. At least, it would have resulted in far fewer people getting themselves a free copy of that encore via one quick spectator taking and publishing a screenshot or two. But hey, at least you can say you’ve already got a new job lined up if this thing ends up costing you in Belgium. Or perhaps the employee of the porn site he was presenting who reached out to him was just suggesting an alternative means of releasing some of that frustration…

It’s time for another bad idea, worse idea.

Bad idea: getting cute with the judge for only setting your bond at $5000 when the reason you’re in court in the first place is for possessing xanax bars–related: xanax bars are a thing? Dear lord. Judges don’t usually much like the snark, unless they’re the ones wielding it or they really, really like the idea of your side of the story–hint: that’s not you, Penelope Soto, or you wouldn’t actually be tied to a $5000 bond. Judges actually tend to figure you’ve decided that’s relatively painless. This one decided since she isn’t too concerned over $5000, it’s now going to be $10000. Oops.

Worse idea: stepping it up a knotch or two and flipping off your judge on your way out.

Rodriguez-Chomat called her back and upped the bond to $10,000. Soto, looking a bit stunned, asked him if he was serious (“I’m serious, adios”) and she walked off, again, giving him the middle finger offering a her profane farewell.

He called her back to the bench. “Did you tell me to f— off? Did you say that?”

“Yes sir.”

She got 30 days for her efforts and melted after a week. One appology later, she’s back to being free on bail and hopefully a little less like those kids you see in shopping malls that make you kind of wish a parent had spent just a little more time parenting and maybe a little less on Facebook. but, you know, just in case I’m wrong…

the court case that put her in jail apparently has video. It’s apparently not all that great quality, but if you’d like to find yourself amused, it’s embedded below. RSS/email reading folks will have to flip over to the site if you want to watch–blame the technology. Also: is it bad that I watched this video and my first thought is “Hey, I know someone just like her…”?

Death of a 5-year weekend. Or, an epic crash course in college mobility.

I haven’t had a job or anything like it since the recession sent mine overseas. That was in 2008. Since then, I’ve been telling folks I’ve been on one continuous long weekend. Oh, sure, I’ve had the occasional interview that may or may not have resulted in a “don’t call us, we’ll call you”, but then it usually kind of just sat there looking pretty and that was pretty much that. There were education related things tossed in there as well, but they usually fell apart for one reason or another–I’m staring directly at places like Everest College. So since 2008, it’s been weekend.

Effective as of this past Monday, that weekend officially died a death. And my brain went right along with it–did I mention I despise math with the passion of a thousand suns? But the death of a 5-year-weekend was only part of the fun that was getting things started. The rest of it came about when I went to untangle exactly where it was I was supposed to be showing up to kill this 5-year-weekend. As it turns out, you’re not officially a blind college student until you’ve obtained, in your first couple hours on campus, an intense familiarity with the layout of the said campus.

Some background, for background’s sake. Algonquin College is awesome, for the most part–aside from their still unexplained requirement for a math. They’re also, at times, awesomely confusing. So much so that even the fully sighted have been known to admit defeat and occasionally just follow the crowd in the hopes the wall of people in front of them is going roughly in the right general direction for them to just kind of let go and be dropped in front of their classroom. So when I got a phone call last Friday what said I’d be tromping pretty much across campus from where I thought I’d be to actually get to class, I was prepared to do some early morning mapping. My class was at 10, which meant if I could get away with it, I was going to be on campus and trying to see how lost I could get by 9. so I show up at 8:30 to finalise things–apparently, spreading paperwork out so you’re finishing it the day you start classes is not actually unique to an official college program. And I’m told when I get there that no, the person who told me I’d be campus hopping was wrong and that I’d be going this other direction and finding this other room instead. Well. Okay, then. I mean annoying, but at least this other room’s in the same building–so no trompings to places in which one could become mildly confused just trying to aquire the general vicinity, nevermind the specific classroom. Awesome. So I’ll have some free time, says I, to go grab coffee and maybe see if other people are in so May and I can pick brains before I go to class and she does what she does. So I go and I find what I’m told is the new classroom. Not difficult to get to, thank christ. And away I go to get other things done so when the class is over the only thing I need to accomplish is get my ass the hell home and give my brain a rest.

So that gets done, we go about the business of finding and picking at other people to make sure things are in place so 1: I can take this course without falling on my face and 2: May can start her course later on without it blowing up in her face. We manage to mostly do that, then figure it about time for me to show up at class. Give me a few minutes before the start of class to actually have a hi how are ya with the instructor and figure out how we can make this thing happen in a way that ends up being doable for me and not migraine inducing for her. For the record, my instructor is a box of awesome, but more on that in probably a less novel-like post. So it’s back over to that section of the campus so I can get set up, start actually getting my work and yada yada blah. And doesn’t the person I spoke to when I got there catch me. “James,” she starts, “I’m so terribly sorry. It looks like you’ll be going over to this other room after all. Oh but don’t worry, you just go down this hall, make a left, then a right, then straight, and a left, and you’re there.” If I had more than 20 minutes to actually find the new class, I’d have very likely used some of it to throttle the right royal hell out of her. But I didn’t, so I didn’t. I did turn around and bail it the hell out of there before it got too tempting–and also because I only had 20 minutes in which to find a less brainmelting way to find my class and do any interesting little workarounds that need doing to make it happen.

So. I planned an hour for tromping across campus in the event I got my ass lost. I ended up with 20 minutes for trompings and no getting my ass lost room. And I still had little to no actual idea where I was going. Awesome. Okay, time to cheat a little. May knew most of the building the new class was in, just not the specific area my class would be. So, fine. So between the two of us, we got at least to the general vicinity. Then it was ping a random and have it point us in the general direction of the specific room. Fun times all around. And it somehow happened with about a minute to spare. Don’t ask–I have no idea. But before I even started class, my brain was twitching like a crack addict on a cold streak. Not bad for a Monday. Now, let’s have at the rest of this thing. Just, er, hold the general failure, deal? Well, I can dream.

How to confuse the automated bus stop announcement system: fall hopelessly behind schedule.

If you’ve spent any time in Ottawa at all, you’ve probably had reason to step foot on its public transit system. If you’ve done so at any point since somewhere around 2010, you’ve more than likely gotten to experience their automated stop announcements. Occasionally, as good as the system is, it’s been known to take a day or two off. At first, I just figured it was temporarily being unstable. Tap the driver on the shoulder, tell him/her it needs a swift kick, it eventually sorts itself out. Now, I’m thinking maybe a small part of the problems might be related to a tiny handful of confusion. Specificly, I sincerely wonder if maybe the system just hasn’t got the slightest idea where the driver is in relation to where he should be and eventually just says “Screw you, bud. You’re on your own.”. After tonight, if someone from OC Transpo were to hand me that kind of explanation, I’d probably buy it.

We were coming back home from grabbing a couple things. One of the buses we were supposed to catch was supposed to be to the stop we were at by a little after 6. We’d planned our trip home escentially with that in mind, figuring okay, a little over maybe 45 minutes later and we’d be home and have most of the crap we brought with us put away. Awesome. That still gave me time to catch the start of hockey–priorities, you know. The bus that was supposed to show up at we’ll call it 6:10 didn’t show up at 6:10. It did, however, show up at 6:30. Also known as about 9 minutes before the one we’d pretty much resigned ourselves to waiting for. Annoying, but you deal. We caught it, got comfortable, and crawled our way away from the stop at something a little bit more than a snail’s pace.

We’ve suffered slow drivers before. Not quite 20 minutes late slow drivers, but definitely the slow type. That’s nothing entirely too irritating on the surface. May and I noticed the stops weren’t actually being announced. Okay, a little more annoying, but the system’s been known to sort itself out after a while. Besides we were stopping so damn often we both had a fairly accurate read on where abouts we were to begin with. Still not entirely too concerning. About 3/4 the way to where we needed to get off, I got up and tapped the driver on the shoulder. Told him the system needed a swift kick.

If you’re a bus driver and you’re reading this, here’s a hint from a guy that sometimes relies on the automated stop announcements. When a guy that sometimes relies on the automated announcements taps you on the shoulder and lets you know the automated announcements aren’t actually announcing, the correct answer is not, in fact, “they’re coming through just fine.”. Yes, the guy we had behind the wheel here tried that. He got the snarky equivalent of no not really. I’m not entirely sure what if anything he actually did, except whatever he did made the announcement system repeat what it thought was the stop the bus was coming up to. Only one problem. The stop it announced was both very much behind us and at the very beginning of this bus’s route. And that was the only time we heard the system go off for the rest of the trip until we changed buses 20 minutes later (it should have taken 10).

Buses that were running the same route we were on were passing us like we were standing still. I can’t be entirely sure the driver ever actually managed to not be behind schedule even after we got off. I can be slightly more sure we just found an easy way to accidentally confuse the hell out of an automated system. And all it took was falling hopelessly behind schedule. Somebody somewhere really aughta file themselves a bug report…

You missed one, pooch. That’s fine; so did I.

Training a dog for explosives detection can’t be easy, by any means. Particularly if the dog can figure out what he’s being trained to find–there’s a bit of a self-preservation thing that kinda comes in to play, I’d imagine. so it stands to reason the dog will probably miss one or two of the training devices, especially if he’s new to the job. You’d think, though, that the guy doing the training would maybe do just a little bit better. You’d be wrong.

The device was missing for two days before the dog handler noticed and by the time Air Canada security was advised of the loss, the plane was on the ground in Toronto.

Most of the documents, obtained by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, contain a series of memos between RCMP and the B.C. transit police outlining what was done to find the device.

Dog in training: 1. Dog trainer: 0. And the win goes to Airport cleaning staff. Maybe the BC transit police will invite them to their next session? Hey–it was a thought.

Nap time, mommy. Daughter’s got Facebook to check.

Let this be a lesson for those of you with kids old enough to pull something like this off. If your kid is volunteering to run off and pick up milkshakes for the family, and you’ve just enforced a “no internets by 10:00 PM” rule, you might want to give serious thought to sending them with an escort. You might also want to give thought to that escort maybe not being your daughter’s friend, whom you’ve decided to let stay the night at your place. Failure to do either of the above might, just might, lead to an unfortunate series of events. And drugged milkshakes. And did I mention kids on the intertubes at well past their cutoff?

Police say, however, that one of the girls had parents with rules. As The Sacramento Bee describes it, the Internet was shut down at 10 p.m. every night at one of the girls’ houses.

Yes, 10 p.m. That’s at least 30 minutes before you can expect to hear the latest about whether Janice made out with Todd, the stoner from Vacaville.

So the allegation goes that one of the girls, aged 15, volunteered to pick up milkshakes at a local dining establishment.

When the parents began to sip and slurp, they allegedly found that these shakes tasted somewhat odd — “grainy” was one word the police reported.

This might have been because one of their ingredients was a prescription sleep aid.

Still, the parents drank enough to fall asleep. They woke up at 1 a.m. and felt rougher than postbender.

One might be tempted to ask why a 15-year-old can be trusted to go for milkshakes at 10:00 PM but not be online, where even at 10:00 AM she can get into all manner of naughty naughty if she’s so inclined. One might also be tempted to ask why a 15-year-old, trusted enough to be online at night or not, is going out for milkshakes at 10:00 PM. If that one is you, you are not going to turn out like these parents. But you might still want to keep an extra close eye on your teenager tonight. Especially if you’ve just taken them away from the internets. Meanwhile, somebody might wanna sit these kids down and have about 4 words with them. Drugs are bad, mm’kay?

Hell hath no fury like an insurance company misinformed.

Things I didn’t know: Manitoba’s car insurance is government run. More things I didn’t know: Manitoba’s government-run car insurance company can mysteriously and based on no actual confirmation accidentally declare you dead. A mighty fine way of getting out of work, or paying your taxes, or showing up for jury duty. But if you’re George Johannesen and intending to take a trip stateside, being dead can tend to have a rather cancelling effect.

The paperwork he received from MPI last week was addressed to “The Estate of George Johannesen” and informed him his drivers’ license had been cancelled the previous month. Since then, he’s apparently been driving without a valid license.

For a dead guy, that wouldn’t pose a problem. But Johannesen is still very much alive.

His enhanced drivers’ license also allowed him to enter the U.S. He won’t be able to make it down there now — he was thinking he might visit during the holidays.

Bright side: if ever he wanted to make damn sure his employer meant what they said with regards death benefits…

Because who needs building codes, anyway?

Beautiful thing about those there developing countries. Development isn’t just restricted to their economy. their regulations are also up for negotiation. So if you play the right cards and/or know the right people, you can get in on the ground floor of even that platform. What does that mean? Well, lack of common sense is perfectly excuseable, for one. It becomes perfectly fine to say you didn’t know you needed fire exits. Or even a decent sprinkler system. I mean–everything will take care of itself, right? People know how they got in–they can get out just as well. Well, except for when the 3 extra floors you probably shouldn’t have built come back to bite them, but who’s counting? Clearly not the two Bangladeshi business owners and one from Brazil who figured this was an awesome idea. I wonder who a guy’s gotta sleep with to land a gig like that. I could use the money. Building codes? So 90′s.

Piracy, with a side of malware.

I’m one of the many who’ve followed pretty much every one of Demonoid’s attempts at rebirth after a shutdown for copyright or other reasons, so when I saw a notice from some very generous members of Demonoid’s community that said they were bringing the service back as Demonoid2 or D2, I was more than a little curious. And more than a little teeny tiny bit skeptical. Apparently, with good reason–for the few minutes it was actually online, it was malware. But, because it amused me anyway, have the email I received in its barely edited entirety (links need fixing, y’know). If you got a similar email and thought about doing the clicky clicky, 1: good on you for not (you didn’t, right?). And 2: it’s deader than dead now, so clicking on it’s safe. Where safe = “This page cannot be displayed”. And now, because I can, the “Welcome to your new Demonoid!!!!!” email.

From: admin@d2-gatekeeper.net
Sent: May 8, 2013 12:25 AM
To: my@email.removed (I hate spam)
Subject: Demonoid rises from the ashes at last

Dear Demonoid Community Member,

We have all read the same news stories: The Demonoid servers shut down and seized in the Ukraine. The Demonoid admin team detained in Mexico. The demonoid.me domain snatched and put up for sale. The Demonoid trackers back online in Hong Kong, but then disappearing.

We all wanted to believe that Demonoid would be resurrected once again; but it seems that these events have spelled the end of Demonoid as we have always known it. We all waited to see if Demonoid would return, though its now clear that this time its really gone.

Now for some good news: The heart and soul of Demonoid lives on! Through an amazing sequence of unlikely events, the data on those Ukrainian servers has made its way into the safe hands of members of our community and has now been re-launched as d2.vu

Invitations to return are being sent out only to existing Demonoid members, which is the reason you have received this email. For the foreseeable future d2.vu will remain a semi-private site and no new invitations to join will be issued until we are certain that the system is stable. To login, click here and authenticate using your old Demonoid username and password.

Demonoid may be gone, but the community lives on at d2! Welcome home!

Sincerely,
admin

Here’s your sign.

I would very much absolutely love to shake this judge’s hand. A judge in Cleveland, in sentencing a woman for driving rather stupidly on the sidewalk to avoid a bus, decided it would be fun to have her advertise her full-blown stupidity. This on top of her having her license suspended for 30 days. So what does he do? For a couple days the next week, he mandates that she spend an hour standing at an intersection holding a stupid sign.

Court records show a Cleveland Municipal Court judge on Monday ordered 32-year-old Shena Hardin to stand at an intersection for two days next week. She will have to wear a sign saying: “Only an idiot drives on the sidewalk to avoid a school bus.”

And all the way to my next amusement I’ll have this in my head. All because of a judge with a sense of humour. Who says there’s never any justice?

If you used any of these passwords for, well, anything, please deposit your user’s license.

It’s a little late for best/worst of 2012 lists, but no one ever said I stuck to a schedule. Besides, this one amuses particularly because, well, server admin. So it’s kind of a big deal, if you get me. And also it beats the royal hell out of an entry wherein Amazon tries screwing folks over twice just for fun, which is probably nothing new by this stage. Of course that could also mean I’ll have nothing to write about in a day or two and get back to that one, but hey you’ll have that. As for now, you’ll have the worst passwords of 2012.

Like one of the commenters to that article, I’m very glad–and yeah, okay, a little surprised–that “admin” isn’t on that list. Personally “master” is almost as bad, but considering how many people almost never actually change the default passwords to things, and those default passwords are remarkably insecure as it is, that’s a thing. Equally disturbing is that passwords like “Jesus” actually exist and don’t cause impressive amounts of damage to the folks what use them. My personal favourite on that list is “welcome”. Why? No, as in, why in the hell? As a password, even if it’s an absolutely brainless password, that doesn’t make sense. As in any. As in at all. As in please, just stop doing anything computer right now, and go back to pen and paper. Typewriter, even. It’s safer. Plus I won’t have to fix you later.

Related: If you use a thing I maintain and have a password remotely close to any of these, I’m probably gonna wanna have a conversation with you. Of course by the time I find this out you’ll probably be wanting to have a conversation with me about exactly how it is we’re gonna unbugger the crap somebody who got hold of your password buggered while you were too busy up in the weak sauce–which will make the conversation I want just that much easier to have. I like it when things work that way. Of course I like it even better when the passwords belonging to folks I fix don’t end up on one of these lists, but hey, you can’t have everything. Just remember to leave your user’s license with me when you’re done and we’ll all be fine. Or better yet, just change your bloody password.

Did your internets grow a wednesday wabble? Here’s probably why.

What do you get when you take an ISP accused of being a spammer, the organization doing the accusing, the several security organizations defending the accuser, and one hell of an axe to grind? If you answered a wicked nifty cool DDoS attack, you get yourself a cookie. But since I have no cookies, you can settle for vodka. The attack in question started out just aimed at spamhaus, who manages an antispam blacklist for primarily mail trafick to prevent certain types of spam from hitting a mail server (disclosure: it’s one of the 4 I use, and use heavily). When a bunch of organizations jumped in to help Spamhaus minimise that attack, it escalated. The attack ended up aimed at the folks what provide a backbone to the internet (because someone’s going to ask, it’s explained better than I ever could).

The long and short version is, if one of the connections that make up the backbone of the internet ever takes a dive, large chunks of the internet can potentially take that dive right behind it–it happens every once in a great while, usually because somebody cocked up. But sometimes, it can be triggered for any number of reasons. On Wednesday, it was denial of service time.

Now, these things can typically handle a hell of a lot of trafick. They’d have to, considering pretty much any and all internet trafick eventually passes through them to get, well, anywhere. So you’d think they’d be pretty close to difficult to attack. And you’d be right, more or less–the attack from Wednesday measured at, well, about , eh?

So if you were growing an issue or two on Wednesday, it could have been your local technology. It could have been your ISP mucking something up. Or, it very likely could have been that someone really did just try and break the internets. I might actually be somewhat vaguely impressed–if the attempt at calculating that bandwidth bill didn’t just cause my brain to implode. I hope these folks had uncapped connections…

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