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…

In which every bad tech support call I’ve ever taken comes back to haunt me. Twice.

Because I still don’t feel like substance, even if it would appear the things what I was figuring on getting done today aren’t actually going to get done, have a one of these. You can take some comfort in the fact most of the things on that list I can safely say even in my unpaid work as the family geek I’ve never heard. However, my favourite–where favourite equals if I hear it one more time I’m going to break a nearly half finished bottle of vodka over somebody’s head–is one I can safely say I hear way, way too much. It’s also the last one on the list–go figure.

Tech Support: “All right. Now click ‘OK’.”

Customer: “Click ‘OK’?”

Tech Support: “Yes, click ‘OK’.”

Customer: “Click ‘OK’?”

Tech Support: “That’s right. Click ‘OK’.”

Customer: “So I click ‘OK’, right?”

Tech Support: “Right. Click ‘OK’.”

Customer: “I clicked ‘Cancel’.”

Tech Support: “YOU CLICKED ‘CANCEL’?!”

Customer: “That’s what I was supposed to do, right?”

Tech Support: “No, you were supposed to click ‘OK’.”

Customer: “I thought you said to click ‘Cancel’.”

Tech Support: “NO. I said to click ‘OK’.”

Customer: “Oh.”

Tech Support: “Now we have to start over.”

Customer: “Why?”

Tech Support: “Because you clicked ‘Cancel’.”

Customer: “Wasn’t I supposed to click ‘Cancel’?”

Tech Support: “No. Forget that. Let’s start from the top.”

Customer: “Okay.”

(15 minutes later)

Tech Support: “All right. Now, are you ready to click ‘OK’?”

Customer: “Yes.”

Tech Support: “Great. Now click ‘OK’.”

Customer: “I clicked ‘Cancel’.”

And this, right here, is pretty much every tech support call gone wrong in my entire professional and unproffessional career. Except with a few dozen choice explitives under the relative protection of the mute button, copious amounts of coffee, and rather liberal consumption of the afore mentioned vodka upon a return to the apartment and relative safety from, uh, other people. It still got me paid, and in still getting me paid I had a hell of a time finding the ability to care, but reading this now, I find myself amazed I didn’t actually do something regretable–like be completely honest while the offending annoyance was still on the phone. I do have *some* class, on occasion. It’s just not all that frequent an occasion.

That type of call is only topped by a thing I can safely say I’ve only ever, as in ever, received a grand total of once. I was working nights, which is what I spent most of my time working at Dell doing, and I get a call from a customer in Texas. Sweetest person you’re ever gonna talk to, and I can tell she meant well. She just… Well. There’s no polite way to describe it–she could really have used an education in basic common sense before being allowed within 50 feet of a computer. Or at least a basic education in how technology worked. Things like no, ma’am, your computer is not linked to the hive mind.

Tech Support: “How can I help you?”

Customer: “I just wanted to know. Uh, are your computers down?”

Tech Support: “Uh. N.n.n.no. Why would we be down?”

Customer: “Oh, I don’t know. But my system hasn’t come on all day and I was wondering if yall were having problems.”

Tech Support: “Sounds like you might have a pretty major one. You’ve tried turning it on?”

Customer: “Oh, yeah–tried every so often. It just doesn’t do anything but sit there. I hit the button you’re supposed to hit and nothing.”

Tech Support: *about to become an all too well documented statistic* “Do me a favour, alright? Let’s just make sure no one’s walked by and unplugged you here. Make sure the cable from your tower–the thing you need to turn on before your computer will actually do anything–to the wall is secure at both ends. Just in case. It could be that minor.”

Customer. “Oh. Now why didn’t I think to check before calling?” *puts down the phone, rummages for a few minutes, comes back* “Everything’s connected. The chord goes from the computer in behind the desk and to the wall. I even unplugged it and plugged it back in just to be sure, but it still won’t turn on. Was that supposed to reset things?”

Tech Support: *internal, dramatic sigh of relief* “No. But, you did confirm what I suspected. You’ve got a thing here.”

Because the internet of things can come crashing down and take the world of innocent bystander systems with it. Or something. I never quite got my head around exactly how A fit into B, as in at all. I probably should have had her explain that to me a little better, but I was sort of occupied with replacing her power supply and motherboard–and trying to find creative ways to tell her what I was doing without opening myself up to the inevitable questions about that being how Dell monitors things to make sure all the appropriate updates are installed and to make sure no one goes and does nasty things with the internets–or something. I honestly have no idea. I kind of stopped listening to that side of the conversation after she figured I was the guy that fixed all the things so she could get her email, or something. No, ma’am, I promise–I’m just the Dell guy. The Dell guy that happens to be holding your motherboard and power supply hostage until you stop playing 50 questions long enough for me to get info from you, and hand you same, but still just the Dell guy. At least she didn’t make me glad for vodka. Just coffee. Lots, and lots, of coffee. And I’m pretty sure I took my lunch break early that day…

$15 quadrillion, or the cell phone gets it.

I’ve seen–and, er, been responsible for–some wicked high cell phone bills. Mostly back in the days before unlimited northamerican long distance was a thing. And, uh, once when I moved and subsequently didn’t have internets for a few days. Oops. But it’s pretty safe to say none of my cell phone bills, on their own anyway, ever added up to approximately the amount required to bail out a solar system. Solenne San Jose, on the other hand, could probably do it twice with hers. She was originally told she’d be charged a termination fee for killing her contract before it was supposed to die, but what amounts to a breakdown in communications–and, quite probably, a bit of morons disease on the part of the phone company–meant the US could very easily stop borrowing from China and take out a “please save our asses” loan from Bouygues Telecom. They sorted it out, and the actual bill–after the curing of the afore mentioned morons disease–was at a much more reasonable, if still not entirely proportional, sub-$200 US. Or, in other words, John Q. Citizen’s monthly visa payment. Sorry, France. Looks like you’ll still be taxing the royal begeses outa the moderately wealthy. Oh, and, enter the snicker-worthy. The bill that would save the universe? Yeah, ’twas in France. The things they’ll do for a little budget balancing. Suddenly, the $1000 I legit worked up just doesn’t seem like quite so much fun.

Looking for a reason to quit smoking? How about because no one’ll hire you?

That’s the situation now in a few Florida cities after their governments instituted bylaws against employees smoking even during their off hours. Companies can and are having people sign statements declaring themselves to be free of tobacco for 12 months prior to the application date. Also, in at least one city, employers are authorised to conduct random testing and to fire people who don’t pass that test. No idea how that doesn’t get smacked with a constitutional challenge if nothing else, but you’ll have that. Positive side, for a few: it’s cigarette smoke they’re targetting. So you with the joint? You’re safe–well, local and state laws against that kinda thing pending. Everyone else? tho thorry, thir. But hey–somebody somewhere might just see that as a reason to quit smoking. Or quit their job, but whichever.

Better late than never: TD Bank takes 4 months to tell me no.

I haven’t applied for a job since moving to where I’m living now. Mostly because I’ve been fighting with things of a school related nature, but also because it hasn’t gotten me very far. But at least on days wherein it hasn’t gotten me all that far, it’s usually taken maybe two weeks for someone to tell me to please play again. TD Bank apparently likes building up the suspense factor, I guess?

From: donotreply@td.com
Sent: January 16, 2013 3:40 PM
To: my@email.address (I’m alergic to spam)
Subject: Thank you for your application on TD Opportunities – Full-Time Customer Service Officer

Dear James,

Thank you for your interest in employment opportunities with TD Bank Group.

We received your application for the position of Full-Time Customer Service Officer at TD Bank Group. We wish to advise you that this position has been filled and as such, we will not be proceeding further with your application. Your online profile information will remain available for future reference.

Please continue to visit the Careers/Job Opportunities section of www.td.com to update your personal details, review current job listings and apply for new opportunities.

Thank you for your interest in TD Bank Group and we wish you success in future endeavors.

Human Resources
TD Bank Group

Dear TD Bank Group,

Thank you for letting me know you were at least still considering. I’m sorry to hear that it took you somewhere around 4 months to finally fill this position. I don’t suppose now is the correct time to point out that it would have taken you significantly less time to do so had you just elected to hire me. I won’t be offended, however, at the fact you instead took this long to say no.

Deciding what to pay someone with my level of geek can sometimes be a tiny bit tricky–especially if you’re also trying to figure out how best to avoid paying someone with my level of geek and not, at the same time, shoot yourself in the foot. It’s a bit of a balancing act, made even more so by the fact you must not have had a whole lot of actual, honest to goodness interest in the posting–either that or your automated “thanks for coming out” system is just really, really backlogged. Still, it’s nice to know you’re thinking of me. Perhaps I’ll check in in another 4 months. Here’s hoping you’ve found second gear by then.

Sincerely,
James Homuth

All you can eat: not quite what it used to be.

Maybe this is just a thing I never stopped getting used to after living in BC. I have absolutely no idea. But when I think of an all you can eat restaurant, I think two, maybe three helpings and you’re needing a forklift to get you back to your vehicle. I was also fairly active back then, so my definition of a helping was probably different than most. Still, when you go to all you can eat joints around here, you can have your two or three helpings–this time, I mean the more commonly understood definition of the word–and inside of 10 minutes, you’re wondering if you actually did just get finished with supper. It’s more than just me with that complaint–as evidenced by the fact pretty much no one goes to that type of restaurants around here. And it’s more than just an Ontario thing, as evidenced by one restaurant owner’s reaction to two customers trying to solve that problem in Brighton, England. His idea? Call them out for it in front of the rest of his customers, then toss them. The restaurant, a Mongolian BBQ joint, charges $19 a head for an all you can eat buffet, and these two frequented the place for around 2 years. Now, granted, we don’t learn exactly how much these two had eaten, or how much they usually eat when there, but we do learn something vaguely useful. All you can eat doesn’t mean what it used to. We’ll just add that to the list.

Tech support license: revoked, sucker.

When I lived at the other apartment in Ottawa, every so often we’d get calls from nonsensical numbers that couldn’t be called back, blocked or even properly traced. They’d call for one of two reasons. Either to try and sell us tech support (me and the former roommate are both more than capable of our own tech support), or to offer us air duct cleaning service (we lived in an apartment and didn’t actually, uh, *have* air ducts). Oddly enough, our number was on the DNCL (Do Not Call List). Come to find out, we weren’t the only ones with the problem–and two of the companies responsible have been slapped. The smackdown went global, with the US and others joining in the festivities earlier this year. Of course, by now that phone number isn’t even in service and the new one hasn’t been slapped in any lists of that variety, as in ever, but it’d be interesting to see if this actually had any kind of affect. I mean beyond being some wicked little poetic justice if one of those guys was the one what rang me. In the meantime, I think we’ll be keeping our current phone numbers the hell off the DNCL, thankya please. I’m not interested in tech support for my very much not infected machines.

Some folks just don’t know how to have fun. … And keep it off Facebook.

Tega Cay, South Carolina, must be one hell of a boring place to be. Absolutely nowhere halfway decent to throw a barely coherent party. That’s okay, though. Gives the locals an excuse to test their resourcefulness. So one shouldn’t be surprised, then, when a couple kids decide to borrow someone else’s house for their party. And it was going so well, too. The owners didn’t even realize their place had been borrowed. Small problem, though. These kids were apparently never taught. What happens in a borrowed party pad stays in the borrowed party pad. So naturally, the highlights made it to Facebook. And helped to rather, well, bust the borrowers. Pro tip, guys. Maybe next time stick to good old fashion photo albums? Ah well. At least they had the good sense to clean up after themselves.

Proof positive: the thought of a man named Bush with the nuke launch codes? Least of your worries.

For pretty much the entire duration of Bush Junior’s presidency, the running joke had to do with who in their right mind would let him anywhere near the launch codes for the US’s nuclear missiles. That was a favourite dig from pretty much anyone who didn’t much care for bush just based on the fact he was a republican, even before he started pulling completely brainless stunts that actually gave people reason to have a major problem and a half with him. As it turns out, that’s kind of the least of the US’s security worries. What people should have been getting twitchy about after all were the guys what were supposed to be actually paying attention to all things nuclear. Maybe if they’d done something a little closer to that, the facilities what house the things would be just slightly more resistent to 82-year-old nuns and their handyman friends. And if you thought that’d send any government official worth his salt out shopping for a new contractor, boy are you in the wrong universe. What they do, instead? Well… uh…

A Department of Energy report (PDF) on the incident found ‘troubling displays of ineptitude in responding to alarms, failures to maintain critical 2 security equipment, over reliance on compensatory measures, misunderstanding of security protocols, poor communications, and weaknesses in contract and resource management.’ The contractors have been put on notice, (PDF), but they still have the contracts.

And that, folks, is national security taken seriously. Although, I guess with all those terrorist children the TSA manages to stop, they can place a little less importance on, you know, securing the shit the terrorists might actually have it in their heads to get after. Yeah, why not? Let’s run with that. Because quite honestly anything else just makes my brain wanna supernova. And I’m gonna need that for later.

In which Bell Canada and a crappy modem team up to break my brain. Twice.

I have caffeine. And I have a bit of free time. That means geek entry. If technical things make your brain do melty things, there’s other stuff coming. Or, you can flip through some of what’s already posted. On the other hand, if brain damage is your thing, keep reading (Warning: long post is long). I don’t disappoint.

—————–

Folks who’ve been reading me for a while know this already. But for the new ones, or the ones who haven’t yet found the time to go wandering back through really wicked old entries, a background. I used to work for Dell, back when Dell used to be cool and actually wanna pay me. Naturally, that meant insane amounts of exposure to large doses of the kind of stupid that would be lethal without the proper equipment. Or an international border. whichever was more convenient. The kinds of breakage I had a front row seat to, and the wicked nifty cool shapes my brain had to fold itself into just to figure out 1: how in the 7 levels of hell $person actually ended up breaking their thinggy what I’m being paid to fix, and 2: how in the 7 levels of hell I was going to fix it without a small miracle, copious amounts of caffeine and an IV drip of vodka–only one of which was actually practical while sitting in a call center in the middle of freaking Kanata, made origami look like something your 2-year-old pulled off in his sleep last night–appologies to anyone who’s 2-year-old may or may not have just been mildly offended. I’ve even seen software–and some hardware–who’s manufacturers make an honest attempt to break things by default (see: standards, Microsoft’s lack of). Usually, that kind of is an out-of-the-box flop, though. And usually, I’m the shmuck that gets to appologise to the customer because there really is no way to fix that broken, short of replacing the defective–not something you want to tell someone after they’ve just plunked down $400 for that self same defective. Now, I’m that customer. And Bell Canada gets to play the part of Microsoft.

I do all manner of geeky–and sometimes freaky–things from behind this network. Including helping May with setting up and administering an FTP server. Sometimes, it involves extreme amounts of stress testing. And sometimes, it just involves a simple hey, can someone from outside this network access $service on $port, or do I need to smack me a modem? Up until a few days ago, that was a simple process if you were me. Or, hell, if you were May, who’d tell you herself she’s not quite as technical-minded as I am but she’s kind of busy catching up on posting to her site at the moment. All either May or Myself had to do was pull up a chair and connect. Well, more or less. From behind the network, we could still pull up the external hostname, bounce to it from inside the network, and have it route the connection back to the network on the appropriate port. So basicly, it’s like picking up the landline and dialing your own phone number rather than *98 (or whatever your US equivalent is), and seeing if your voicemail picks up. At some point last week, though, Bell decided to turn off that ability.

I have no idea what the hell they changed, but they apparently pushed an update to the modem we’re using–we’re using Bell’s “Connection Hub”, if you’re curious–that pretty much broke standard networking. Now, if I’m sitting at the machine I’m using right now, behind an otherwise fully functional network, and I try to pull up a service I know is working as expected, I get nowhere. Or, rather, I get somewhere–it still tries to connect to the external hostname. It just times out, as opposed to connecting. Going back to the comparison from earlier, it’s like calling your own phone number, knowing you should be hearing your voicemail, and instead the phone just keeps ringing.

Thinking the modem just developed amnesia–they do that sometimes, I go in and have a look. Sure enough, it ate the settings I’d whipped up to actually allow the public to access things from outside this network. I’d seen this once or twice so was actually kind of expecting a whole other set of issues–amnesia of that variety is usually asign you’ll be soon replacing your modem. So while reimplementing the settings that let things be visible to the greater internet, I was internally preparing to have that conversation with both my ISP and my girlfriend. And only really not looking forward to one of those conversations. so I reminded the modem that yes, in fact, this is a friendly thing, and please to be letting John Q User play with it thanks much. And then I hoped like hell the damn thing wouldn’t forget me 10 minutes after I left the room. I tried connecting externally again, same result. Then we lost internet briefly. Well hell. Here comes 2008 all over again, it looked like. Still, when we came up, I smacked the reboot option–just to cover my ass. And because, hey, if it was 2008 all over again, we’d already lost our settings so what was I hurting? Another reconnection later, and I figure okay, let’s play find the server. Again, dialing my own phone number, expecting to hear my own voicemail, and instead hearing ring ring. Not cool, network. And not the standard performance, either.

Still suspecting the modem might be on its way out, I check again. Nope, all of our settings are there. The modem’s just being a Microsoft product (*). What the blue? So fine. I have access to a server that’s well beyond this network–hint: WTN’s sitting on it. So let’s go see if the service is even visible. Connect to the server, fire up two different FTP clients. Connect from the server, back to the network, to May’s FTP server–the thing I couldn’t reach by the external hostname from the local machine. Doesn’t it work like there’s nothing wrong in the slightest. I can connect, do what I do, then bail. No problem. Alright, next test. C’mere, CanYouSeeMe. Do we exist, at this IP address, and on this port? We do? And you say that more than once? Awesome. So John Q User can play with the thing after all. We just can’t bounce off the hostname anymore. Cute. So why the hell not, and can we fix it?

As it turns out, I don’t actually have an answer for that first question–I’m guessing Bell pushed out an update, but as locked down as that modem is (hint: Google doesn’t turn up any super nifty administrative access levels, a la the modem we had at the old apartment through Rogers), that’s just a guess over here–though that would be the only reason for the modem’s temporary bout of amnesia, assuming it’s not trying to warn us it’s going to fail tomorrow. As to the second question? After about 15 minutes poking around in the thing, it looks as though that has potentially no written all over it. Actually, poking around inside this modem tells me you can’t actually fix, or turn off, much over here–enter breakage the second.

The modem they gave us when we signed up for internets is one of those router combos. Because of the speeds we’re getting and the fact it’s fiber, this is kind of the only modem we can get from Bell–and I’ve not found an equivalent outside of Bell that I can be reasonably confident won’t crap itself in 6 months just on account of the connection expecting too much from the hardware. But so far as router combos go, even the ones provided by the ISP, the thing’s crippled. Problem the first: no bridge mode. As in, at all. At least, not in the sense that you can tell the modem to just be a dumb modem and hook up your own damn router. You can turn off DHCP and wireless access, but that’s about as far as it goes. Why? Part of it’s because, stupidly in my honest, Bell uses this exact same modem for its TV service–not much use to us at the moment, but a trivia type thing I found while poking. So, truely bridge mode would break that in several interesting and not so fun ways. That also means I can’t bypass Bell’s breakage and go buy me a new router–too bad, too, as there are several that’d do the trick quite nicely. But the modem would still be handling the trafick from the router, and playing cop where necessary–or rather, where Bell thinks it necessary, thus defeating the entire purpose of a second, better, more stable router. And problem the second: What access Bell gives you to this modem is, well, basic at best. You can configure wireless network settings, open whatever ports you need (see above for situations wherein that might not be practical), and set up management for dynamic DNS in the event you don’t want to have to fight with a client for doing exactly that (I don’t, personally). And that, right there, is about the extent of your access. Add an exception to the firewall so the router doesn’t block your mystery packet transfer? Not happening. Set it up so specific services aren’t available during certain times of day, or days of week? Not happening.

Rather than having the option of becoming a dumb modem, Bell handed us a dumb router. Then they broke it with an update. Awesome, yeah? And between the two of them, my brain suffered two very significant meltdowns. And I still don’t get to just say screw it and run my own damn router.

(*): The comparison may or may not have had a small something to do with the fact I just got done fighting with Outlook. Maybe. Or was that this morning? Oh well.

Update:

I’m not crazy! This caught someone else too, or at least one other someone else, pushing me just a little bit further towards the theory an update broke it. Awesome job, Microbell. Now when do ya get to fix me?

This month’s Facebook cop: your local judge.

I’m still catching up on mockery from September. It’s what happens when life tosses me a curve, followed by a fastball, followed closely by a change-up. But, that having been said, I’m not sure if Paula Asher or the judge in her DUI case is the bigger moron. Yes, driving while drunk is idiotic. So is laughing about it on Facebook. Then again, so is ordering someone to delete their Facebook account for laughing about it. She posted this on her Facebook page after being convicted.

“My dumb bass got a DUI and I hit a car…LOL”

For that, the judge ordered her to delete her account. She ignored him, and for that, she got slapped with jail time. In a stupid contest, I’m not entirely sure which one of them would come up a winner–or whether or not winning would imply the winner was more or less stupid than the loser. But, if she’s got a functioning brain cell, she’ll decide to post about her next stupid stunt on Twitter. Judges don’t tend to spy on that quite as closely yet.