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Gumbar Attack

Fri 29 January 2010

It's day 3 and my e-mail seems to be back to normal after a hacker enabled e-mail forwarding and disabled my ability to stop mail forwarding. The more I think about it the more I'm convinced it was a teenage hacker somewhere ii Europe. Why a teenager you ask? Well, teenagers have free time, many are very smart, and they like to be a bit fiendish just for fun. I'm impressed with the technical ability some teenagers have to do such things. Maybe they'll go somewhere else next time - one can hope.

I've been downloading some movies I think I'd like to watch via my Bittorrent client. These are movies others have uploaded to a sharing site where folks like me can download them. However, one must be very careful you get just what you're seeking to get without a virus or Trojan tagging along. Naturally I scan each file with security software before I dare open it. The kind of stuff I'm getting probably has a low chance of infection compared to software or games teenagers might want to download.

Yesterday when I clicked on a 'torrent' site I got an "alert" saying my computer was infected and that I should click on the alert to scan/fix it. Fortunately for me, I immediately knew what was going on - it was a "Gumblar" attack. The final payload of this attack could either be a FAKEAV or BREDOLAB malware infection. FAKEAV variants display fake virus scanning results, persuading users to purchase a rogue antivirus program and putting them at risk of information or identity theft. Bredolab malware downloads additional malicious files, which in turn download other malware. Some of you who are reading this I know have been attacked because I've helped to get rid of it.

Because of my previous knowledge about this nasty infection I knew that clicking on anything would start the download. You should just close your browser before the download begins but you can't just close it by clicking on the red box with an X in it. While an alert is opened your browser will not close until the alert is handled first. The trouble is you can't dismiss the alert without starting the download. What to do? If this happens to you, open your Task Manager then click to end the Internet Explorer process which will close opened windows. If Yo do get it, I know how to get rid of it.

John is in town for the weekend to attend a big fish fry at his buddy, Jamie's house - the two of them are going fishing in the river as well I think. My expectation is John will wake up at the break of noon then probably head over my way for a visit or possibly lunch. He requested I get the two seasons of "Breaking Bad" from the ACM channel via a torrent which I have done. Hopefully he remembered to bring his external hard drive.

Speaking of external hard drives, the 160GB My Passport hard drive is already full with TV series I've downloaded. Today I found a great buy on a Toshiba 500MG external hard drive so I ordered it - my thinking is I can fill these up with movies or TV series rather quickly. I especially enjoy the mystery series from the BBC.

Posted at 09:18 am in General | Comments (0)

I've Been Hacked!!

Wed 27 January 2010

My e-mail account works again! Have I got a story for you about the e-mail problem I've had for 11 days now. Here goes.

Mail sent to my b.cherry at Comcast.net account stopped getting to me on Sunday the 17th. I could send but not receive mail and it's been that way until about 11AM this morning. Of course I called Comcast when I first discovered the problem and I have called 7 different times on different days. The Comcast Service desk couldn't help me but they said they'd move it up to a different level. When it got to a higher support level the techs could not find a problem and that's because they were looking at the Florida e-mail account established when I moved. It turns out my old Atlanta e-mail account had not been transferred but I could get mail anyway. So we have one week wasted.

Monday I started calling again and I've called everyday - I was told my e-mail account from Atlanta needed to be transferred to Florida which is true but it didn't explain why I was not receiving e-mails. Finally I convinced a service rep to connect me to a real technician after she saw I'd called 6 times and had 4 open "service tickets". The technician spent almost 2 hours on the phone as she wanted my to logon on here and there as well as test different settings in my e-mail program. I tried to explain my e-mail program had nothing to do with my problem because mail wasn't getting to my account in the first place. She concluded the account was working and the e-mail was been forwarded to b.cherry@operamail.com - an account I did not establish. Of course I did not enable forwarding but someone did. I've been hacked.

Now that we identified what was happening both the tech and I tried to logon to my account settings to disable forwarding but we both got kicked out before we could make changes. The hacker somehow disabled our ability to get into the account. There was this mostly transparent screen which covered the real page but when we clicked to remove the screen we got sent back to the original logon page. I could see the settings and I did see forwarding was enabled. Here's where my experience with coding web pages really helped.

When I was on the page but couldn't get to the settings through the screen, I could view the page source coding for the page. I looked through the code until I hound the secure (https) link to the page to disable forwarding. So I copied and pasted the link just to the forwarding setting and shazam...I got to a window which allowed me to disable forwarding and then once that was done, we could logon to the settings page. The technician was totally blown away when I figured out how to do that - she had no idea how I was able to do that but I did.

Now I can get my e-mail again. I've of course changed my passwords to that account. I expect the account to be transferred to my Florida Comcast account this week. I've sent an e-mail to support at operamail.com requesting my mail back or a way to log onto the b.cherry@operamail.com account. Although I explained everything, I'm not at all confident I'll get my mail -stay tuned, the office is in Sweden.

It is my belief a hacker was involved rather than just a stolen password. It would take a hacker to both steal my password and disable my ability to get into my e-mail account management page. Now I wish I had kept a copy of the source code of the hacked page so I could try to figure it out. Now I'm left wondering how this happened in the first place and why? It seems to me this was an evil trick perpetrated by a mischievous teenager somewhere. What should I do next to prevent it from happing again? I'll think on that.

Posted at 03:19 pm in General | Comments (0)

My Laptop

Tue 26 January 2010

Yesterdqay I said I might re-wire my computers, install the KVM switch, and connect the back-up battery for my computer, modem, and router - I've not done any of that yet. As is often the case I got off on a tangent which occupied all morning and into the afternoon. I'll get around to the re-wiring I just don't know when.

These laptop issues got me thinking about just re-installing Vista from my CD which should give me a clean start. But then I got to thinking, why not install Windows 7 instead of Vista again? So I did my usual research discovering you should do a "clean install" and not an upgrade - there are tons of comments on forums about upgrade failures. I also discovered a CD is better than an online download of the operating system - once again there are pages of posts about the corrupt downloads from Digital River (the download vendor).

I'm going to see how my laptop performs on my next few boots. If it has issues then I think I'll go to Best Buy to purchase the retail box of Windows 7 Home Premium 64Bit. There may be some programs I like which will not work on the 64bit system but eventually I'm sure they will - the 64bit OS is the thing of the future. In this research process I discovered the minimum RAM is 2GB which is what I have now. You know me, more is better so I ordered 2 new 2GB Samsung memory sticks to upgrade to 4GB of memory which is the max for this laptop. Then all my computers will be maxed-out [sic] in the memory category which of course means I'll need a new computer to get more memory.

My "comments" are disabled here because I've not found a fix to the CAPTCHA problem yet. I might just leave them disabled or I might just remove the CAPTCHA function - not an easy task but I'm up to it. The reason I installed the CAPTCHA system in the first place was to cut off the tons of spam posting in my comments. These worthless postings were coming via a bot and bots can't read CAPTCHA. My alternative fix is to put all the offending IP's into my .htaccess file on my website which will block any IP in the file. As the saying goes, there's more than one way to skin a cat.

My Comcast e-mail is still broken - I called again today. It seems an engineer is in the process of transferring my Georgia account to my Florida account which should have been done 2 years ago. Once transferred we can then proceed with a fix. Maybe the transfer will be the fix. I'll call back late today or tomorrow morning.

The Inspector Morse torrent download has been going for 26 hours but does seem to be going a bit faster today. I think it will be completed by tomorrow morning if not sooner. Patience is a virtue I really express - I want it now!

Posted at 12:59 pm in General | Comments (0)

Still No E-mail

Mon 25 January 2010

Jeez! My Comcast e-mail account is still dead after the calls I made last week so I naturally called again this morning. This time I got someone who said I need to be calling the Atlanta area Comcast service desk because my e-mail account is still there - it should have been transferred two years ago but was not. So why didn't the two service reps and rep manager not tell me this last week? It did make sense to me so I called Atlanta, got someone who could not help but transferred me to someone who could. The lady I talked to today was clearly very alert and knew her stuff - at least it seems that way.

The latest Comcast rep and I talked and tested a few things. Sure enough e-mails were not getting to me although the send might think they were. I'm thinking at this point my mailbox is likely full because I've not been able to retrieve any. So the first thing the rep said to do was to actually transfer the e-mail account to my Florida Comcast account and transfer all the e-mails in my inbox at the same time. She said the "ticket" she opened for me explained the account was not receiving e-mails. This process should take about 24 hours and then once done, I might just get e-mails again. If e-mails don't get into my inbox, I'm to call back again after the account transfer to Florida and try again to fix it. Stay tuned.

As I mentioned last week, my website project is done for now although I know there are some items I should do. At this point it's up to the owner to give me additional information needed to fine-tune the web pages for search engines. So at the moment I'm self-unemployed again until the next project comes my way. What I've been thinking about doing to totally re-wiring all my computers adding in a 4 way KVM switch which will permit me to use the same keyboard, monitor, and mouse on all the machines by simply switching between them. I can also connect up to 3 UBS devices to the switch allowing all computers to access the same devices from the switch like my printer and external hard drives - at the moment the printer & external hard drives are connected to just one computer. I also can install my new back-up battery which has been sitting in my closet for about 2 months now. Then maybe I'll just wait, who knows?

Syp has informed me the "comment" function on my website does not work. The CAPTCHA function denies posting a comment because of an incorrect word input - the trouble is the word is correct but the function can't read it. I contacted the Brit who wrote the CAPTCHA script and then tried his suggestions - nothing worked. I wrote him again so maybe he'll have something new for me to try tomorrow. I smell at rat at the server where my site is hosted. You see I have the same CAPTCHA function in two different accounts in different directories and neither works. So for the moment, I've turned off the ability to post comments all together until I find a solution. Maybe this is my next project?

I've been downloading episodes of some of my favorite British programs including Midsomer Murders, Lovejoy, and Poirot via torrents. In fact this weekend I watched two Lovejoy episodes, two Midsomer Murders episodes, and one Poirot episode. These .avi files render beautifully on my big screen TV - they are all digital files I play from the computer I have permanently hooked to the TV. Today I found another British series I used to like called Inspector Morse which played here in the US on public TV years ago. Someone has bundled all 33 episodes into one torrent file 23GB in size - I started downloading this morning and now my torrent client tells me I only have 4 days before the download will be complete. Jeez! Some torrents have taken over a day but this is the longest of them all. The problem is that at the moment 682 people are trying to do the same thing. Can anyone say bandwidth? It may be the end of the week before it's done but I hope it will be sooner.

Posted at 03:08 pm in General | Comments (0)

Tone Deaf

Sun 24 January 2010

Yesterday I took Captain Matt's old college computer I refurbished and upgrade to Starr to replace the all but useless computer she has been using. With years of junk on it from John & Alec, Starr's machine is slower than molasses in the mid of winter. I'm sure it's full of crap, viruses, malware, and God only knows what else. It would take over a minute just to open a file. Now that both John & Alec have their own laptops, I thought the humanitarian thing to do would be to give Starr a clean machine on which she can do her work. Initially I just transferred the files on which she needs to work and installed the drivers for her HP printer. The printer drivers did not want to install but after disabling the AVG security suite in "systems" I did get it installed. Once she's used it for awhile and believes she wants to continue using it I'll transfer the rest of her files. Then with her permission I'll take the old machine to clean it up for the next person needed a computer.

My car detail guy came yesterday and as before, did a great job on my car. It looks like a new car and if I keep having it detailed it will continue to look like a new car. Steve really knows his stuff although he has a bit of a problem with punctuality - no worries, it's worth the wait.

This morning I watched the Sunday political talk show just to see what sort of spin guests would put on the win by Scott Brown in the Senate race. Obama sent 3 of his top aids to cover ABC, NBC, and FOX on these shows. To my astonishment, the Obamaites still don't get it - they think the people of this country still want what they're selling but are simple unhappy with the process. Wrong! People don't want anything to do with the massive government takeovers and terminally disastrous health care bill. People are sick and even scared of the huge Obama deficits and out of control spending in Congress. To make a bad situation even worse, all three White House goons once again blamed everything on President Bush who, by the way, has not been in office for over a year now. Obama refuses to take any blame for the double digit unemployment or soaring deficits - it's all Bush's fault!

The Obama-Pelosi-Reid totalitarianism-style of governing is a failure and totally rejected by the American voters. I'm baffled as to why they don't attempt a change in direction for they expect support for us common folk. Are they that stupid and tone deaf ? It will be interesting to see what happens in the common weeks and months before the 2010 elections in November.

My Comcast e-mail account is still broken - if you wish to send mail use billcherry(at)gmail.com. I'm getting rather pissed off now at the failure of Comcast to remedy my problem which they caused. I'll report when I get it back assuming I do get it back!

Posted at 11:20 am in General | Comments (0)

Dog Rescue

Sat 23 January 2010

Most of you know this but in case you don't, I'm a hopeless animal lover - I love cats and dogs especially sauteed in butter & garlic. It's a joke. It's a joke. I really do have a care and concern about cats & dogs especially those in trouble, malnourished, hurt, homeless, etc. Well yesterday afternoon while I was dutifully watching the FOX News channel, they started covering live the rescue attempt by the LA Fire department of a dog caught in the LA river - a viaduct with 50 feet high vertical walls flowing thought LA for flood control. There was a Shepard-like dog caught with in the water flow with no escape possibilities. It was very clear the dog was stressed, scared, and tired - it would die without human intervention. The LA Fire department brought in a rescue helicopter from which a man was dropped by cable to grab the dog and take it to safety. This lasted for about 45 minutes and was very dramatic keeping me and tens of thousands other viewers on the edge of our seats. The dog bit the rescuer but both are alive and well this morning. I love happy endings. This story made it to the UK - you can see the video here .

Speaking of happy endings, I'm still on cloud 9 because of the defeat of progressive liberalism by Senator Scott Brown this past Wednesday. You see, he didn't just defeat Martha Coakley, he defeated all that for which liberals stand - big government, over-reaching regulations, ever increasing taxation, take-over of private business - the list goes on and on. This was in my correct view a true America victory in that that the lowly underdog with a snowball's chance in hell of winning did indeed win in this most liberal of all states where liberals out rank conservatives 3 to 1. Here we have a no name guy with a family and small business, with zero support from the big Washington political machine, driving around the state in his truck talking to voters about lower taxes, no socialized medical care, transparency in government, and creating non-government jobs - this guy beat the liberal political machine and single-handedly defeated the "Obamaization" of America. When in your lifetime has anything like this ever occurred before? The answer is never! He's a true Godsend - I'm anxious to see him in action.

This morning Steve the detail guy is coming over to detail my car. It rained some yesterday but today it is sunny and very pleasant. I want to take Matt's old computer out to Starr this morning and then be back in time to have my car here for Steve. I'll be back soon with more incredible pearls of wisdom and insight - stay tuned.

Posted at 09:18 am in General | Comments (0)

No E-mail

Fri 22 January 2010

First, for those of you who are desperately trying to get in touch with me via my Comcast e-mail account I sadly have to report it still is broken. If you send a mail, you likely will get a "box is full" return even though there's nothing in my e-mail box at Comcast. I've called 3 times since Monday morning and each time I got a different service rep who could not help other than submit a "ticket" on my problem. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to be a general problem but instead one unique to me at the moment. I say that's bad because I'll have to get into the queue with others who have a singular problem. I think it can be fixed but I have no clue as to when.

Starr & Alec came over yesterday so that Alec and I could boot his new laptop for the first time. All went very smoothly as expected - Alec is of course not new to computers. Have you noticed how much stuff the manufacturer wants to sell after you buy your computer? Many of these offers seem good and without experience these offers almost seem essential to have for your shinny new computer. The truth is they are not needed and there are many much less expensive alternatives if you did want one. Alex was very pleased with his laptop.

I've completed the project I've been working on for about two weeks - some of that time was spent trying to learn how to do something I did not already know. This learning as you go process is how I've gained the knowledge since my first computer purchase 7 years ago. My brain is so full of totally useless information I can't keep on adding information I do not need. I wish I could defrag my brain to purge the volumes of esoteric information.

Starr is going to come back this morning to bring we goodies for my belly - beef stew & fresh grapefruit. She tells me Alex and some friends went to Orlando last night at 10pm to listen to some band. Never ever in my life did I leave at 10 pm to drive 100 miles just to listen to a band. I don't know anyone who's done that either. Sure, I might have driving to West Palm for a concert but that was in the day. Young people today certain are on a different path as they grow up then the worn (and they would say boring) path my generation took. Oh, well.

The guy I use to detail my car was to come over this morning but alas it's raining now. We could use a little rain and my car can wait a day or two. The guy I use did a wonderful job the first time he detailed my car in September so I'm hoping he'll do the same great job. Having someone come to you is nice, very nice.

Now that I'm basically done with my project, I think I'll go watch some TV before I start another one.

Posted at 11:44 am in General | Comments (0)

Scott Brown Wins

Wed 20 January 2010

My Comcast e-mail is not working at the moment - e-mails sent since Sunday have not been received. Use BillCherry(at)Gmail.com

Yesterday I had one of my headache events starting in the morning then getting progressively worse in the afternoon until I had to get into bed around 4pm to close my eyes and hope I did not get sick to my stomach as I sometimes do. This is the "usual" pattern for me - this morning I'm better but not over it just yet. Yesterday afternoon I had to get into my strong pain meds but fortunately that's not required this morning...at least not yet. I did feel nauseous yesterday however I made it through the night. Damn these headache events are a pain (pun intended) - the good news is they are short-lived and reasonable treatable with pain meds.

One thing which helped me through the evening was the game-changing seismic change in the political word by the astonishing win Scott Brown had in Massachusetts last evening. The only thing for which disappoints me is the margin of victory was only 5 points - I was hoping for a double digit margin. Those of you who called me yesterday before the voting ending know I expected a win for Brown and conservatism over the obnoxious proletariat-style rule of the Obama-Pelosi-Reid autocracy. The victory by triathlon athlete Scott Brown represents a defining moment in the political landscape of America. By the way, I found out this morning Senator Brown runs, swims, and bikes miles every morning starting around 5:30. Cool!

Today the liberals will be spinning last night's victory by Senator Brown in all different directions. I heard a commentator described what will no doubt be a lot of finger pointing by the liberals as a "circular firing squad" - one can hope the firing squad is successful! It is my hope Senator Brown's victory will get the attention of the liberal kooks in Congress to the extended they starting listening to the people they were elected to represent rather than the supercilious Obama-Pelosi-Reid triad. I'll of course have more later.

This website project I've been working on for almost two weeks is still on my front burner. I've received feedback from the website's owner as to the edits and changes he wants on the 24 page site. Most changes deal with positioning of text & mages while the edits are for spelling errors and some added text. I should have round two completed today for his review.

One of the new challenges for me was to learn how to put an interactive Google map on his site with a balloon pin at his location - this was not as easy as it should have been in my opinion. It required a fairly good understanding of coding - it definitely was not a simple copy & paste of code. My biggest problem was to find the exact correct latitude and longitude and the Google tool provided failed to do so. I tried several different things but none worked - I was either using the tool incorrectly or it was sick. I tested it against a known result and it worked so something else was going on. There is more than one way to skin a cat so I used a different online service to get the numbers which did work. In fact, David said I got the pin exactly at is office location in Piedmont Square - frankly more luck than skill.

The computer Starr and I ordered for Alex arrived yesterday so I'll likely take it out to him today. As I mentioned earlier, my migraine headache caused me to want to stay in away from the light. When I go out, it is my plan to take Matt's old computer for Starr to use now that Alex will have his own. If she likes it, I'll ask her if I can take her old virus-infected, slow computer to clean it up like I did Matt's for the next needy person. I'm in the computer recycling business it would seem.

Posted at 10:07 am in General | Comments (0)

Voting Tomorrow

Mon 18 January 2010

Tomorrow is the day the People's Republic of Massachusetts will hold their special election for the US Senate - the outcome is very important for the future of our country. Nothing has happened to change my optimistic view that Scott Brown will win. This morning I heard on the news a poll shows him still having a slight lead over the Obama-Pelosi-Reid myrmidon, Martha Coakley. Obama went to Massachusetts yesterday to campaign for Coakley but the speech he gave was to an audience who will vote for Coakley anyway - it's the independent vote which will likely control the outcome of this election. I'll be watching tomorrow night to see how things look.

This past weekend I helped my cousin Alice the baker set up her new laptop - setup upon the first boot is really rather easy. The big deal for her was to get her important stuff off her current laptop to this new one. Using a 4 GB flash dive I transferred everything from My Documents and her favorites. The new Windows operating system seems very cool to me based on what I did with Alice's computer. It reminds me more of XP than Vista so anyone with Windows 7 should be able to make the transfer without too much trouble.

Seeing Alice's operating system in action confirms I still would like a new machine with Windows 7 but I can't bring myself to spend the money - the machine I have is rather good even thought it's over 18 months old. I already have an Intel Core 2 Quad processor at 2.4GHz, a 500 GB hard drive, and 4 GB of RAM. I'm not sure a move up in processor speed would be very useful to me although I'd like to try it. If I were a gamer then more speed would be nice. I'll buy a new computer I just don't know when.

According to FedEx, the computer Starr & I ordered for Alec should be here tomorrow. I'm sure Alex will be very pleased and very surprised. With the design courses he's taking at IRSC, a laptop with horse power will be needed. Reports to follow.

Of late I've not had any headache issues but they can come out of nowhere even before this day is over. Actually I'm in reasonable shape for the shape I'm in - things could be a lot worse.

Posted at 10:15 am in General | Comments (0)

Brown Edges Ahead

Sat 16 January 2010

In just 24 short hours, US Senate candidate from Massachusetts - Scott Brown - has pulled slightly ahead oh the Obama-Pelosi-Reid lapdog, Martha Coakley (see picture). It seems the momentum is on Scott Brown's side and appears to be growing. I continue to be very hopeful he will win the Senate seat which in turn will take away the liberal's super majority. Never have I seen a political race carry so much importance as this one. On the Drudge Report this morning there were several articles explaining why Coakley is falling behind Brown and some liberals are already setting up the spin if she loses - I pray she loses. A leading Massachusetts Democrat was quoted as saying :

I don't think it says that the Obama agenda is a problem. I think it says, 1) that she's a terrible candidate, 2) that she ran a terrible campaign, 3) that the climate is difficult but she should have been able to overcome it, and 4) that Democrats beware -- you better run good campaigns, or you're going to lose."
Kind of sums it up huh - she is a terrible canidate.

To make matters worse for her, the FOX News network reported yesterday evidence of her incompetence as attorney general has surfaced - she's refused to prosecute certain people for hanis crime because pure political reasons. Frankly, I think even the mainstream Massachusetts Democrats are fed-up with all this pervasive behind close doors deal making. I'm not suggesting liberals will vote for Brown but they may not vote at all which will lead to a Scott Brown win. One of the things I know with absolute certainty is pissed-off angry people tend to be motivated and will vote. Should be exciting next week especially if Brown wins.

Remember my problem a few weeks back when I attempted to add another GB of memory to my desktop? I ended up sending the new memory sticks back in exchange for the original memory sticks. I installed them this morning and they worked the first time. The real trick is to make certain the new memory boards are installed all the way into the slots. Thus far, everything seems to be working just fine but I've not noticed any increase in efficiency but then again I've not done much yet.

Last evening I uploaded the 25 page website I've been building over the past week to server space I lease for BillsView.com in order to do real online testing. Some of the pages are coded in .PHP which is a 'server side' language thus it will only execute on a server - I've not installed a server application on any of my computers yet. It seems to be working well although I've sure the client will want to make some changes once he sees it - that's to be expected. What I'm really proud of with respect to this site is it passes 100% the gold standard for websites - W3C HTML 4.1. (go to the link then input any URL - I'll bet you can't find a single website to pass). There are very very few sites on the internet which achieve this standard - TanzaniteAmerica.com is one of them. It shows your readers that you have taken the care to create an interoperable Web page. Frankly, browsers are very forgiving of bad coding thus a visitor really won't see a difference between my first coding effort and the last version which is flawlessly coded. It does make me feel good all the same.

Posted at 10:09 am in General | Comments (0)

Scott Brown - White Knight

Fri 15 January 2010

If you're a regular visitor to BillsView.com then you no doubt know my correct political opinions on many things and especially the out-of-control extreme left-wing socialists elitists who are control of Congress and The White House. These people are so over the top even I have a head time describing just how bad things are and worst yet, how much more abominable things are likely to get with Obama-Pelosi-Reid triad forcing their anti-American socialist agenda upon us. With the absolute majority in Congress and the man-child self-center egotistic Obama as President, there seems to be little most of us can do until the 2010 selections in the Fall. I continue to believe we are in deep sh*t!

All of a sudden there is a white knight that could come riding into the US Senate to save the day and that white knight is Scott Brown, candidate for the US Senate in the People's Republic of Massachusetts. He is running against the Obama-Pelosi-Reid lapdog, Martha Coakley, to fill the seat vacated when Ted Kennedy died last year. Up until a few weeks ago, Coakley was a shoe-in but not now. Scott has come up from 25 points behind to be in a statistical dead even race against Coakley. If you haven't seen Scott Brown, you'll be impressed when you do IMO. He is sharp, articulate, intelligent, level-headed, conservative, and a colonel in the National Guard - the kind of candidate I want to support.

For the first time since I started voting I've come to the conclusion that my vote can make a difference - in this case I'm talking about my vote in the form of a financial contribution to Scott Brown's campaign. In the past when I voted it was for someone in the state in which lived - which is important of course - but there where citizens across the country doing the same thing meaning even if my candidate won, he may not be able to be a game changer. But now I can support someone who if elected will be the 41st conservative Senator and thus a real game changer - his vote along with the other conservatives can stop the socialist liberal kooks in the Senate. This one man could help save America against the frontal assault by the Obama-Pelosi-Reid triad.

I've never asked others to send a contribution to a political campaign but there's always a first time and that time is now. I've already gone online to contribute to Scott Brown's heroic effort to beat liberal myrmidon Coakley. I've asked others to do the same thing and they have. If you a right-thinking like me, you too can make a difference by contributing to Scott Brown. Time is of the essence - the voting will be on Tuesday in Massachusetts but you can vote today at : Scott Brown's fund raising site. The money you send today could save you thousands of dollars in the future if the socialists get their way. Clearly it is the right thing to do (pun intended).

Scott Brown's Website

My Project

Wed 13 January 2010

So I guess you've been wondering where I've been and what I've been doing, huh? My status as self unemployed has kept me particularly busy in the past week and that status is likely to continue for awhile longer. I've been actively doing something from about 5:30 am till I go to bed around sometime after 10 pm. What is that all about you ask?

The main focus is this 25 page website project I started in earnest about a week ago - I think it was last Wednesday. It's this 25 page site I'm building for an architect turned lawyer in Atlanta who wants his Powerpoint slides coded into web pages. The biggest part of the project was to make a home page with the title, graphics, colors, gradient, spacing, navigation bar, and text font which complied with that which he wanted - a virtual copy of his Powerpoint presentation. It took from Wednesday of last week until late Monday afternoon before that goal was aconite - you see it is the home page which will be the template for all other pages. Yesterday I started on the next 24 pages but this should go faster.

It's been unusually cold here in Vero in fact, some of my landscape plants got damaged by the cold - no worries, once cut back I think they will grow back. We've had over a week with temperatures not getting above about 60 so if that's Vero, it must be butt-cold where you are at the moment. I talked to TB yesterday about his groves & tree farm - he reported he has not found much damage yet so he's very hopeful he won't find damage. Much of the state set record cold temperatures including Tallahassee where John's going to school.

Starr has been coming by a good bit lately and on Monday she brought me a container full of homemade chili - I really like chili. Her recipe is wonderful! The chili was full of large chunks of meat & vegetables with a nice bit of heat in the taste. I was surprised there was any left to bring to me with Alec and his buds camping out at Starr's house playing games. She also brought me the 2010 version of her brother's (Steve) home made barbecue sauce which is also wonderful. I do appreciate these culinary delights because they are things generally don't make and when I do, my results are not as good.

Later this afternoon, my baker cousin, Alice, is going to pick me up for a computer buying try to Best Buy here in the Vero Mall. She has recognized my expertise in the area of computer hardware and software thus prudently decided to ask me to go with her. She seemingly has found what I think is a good buy but you never know until you get there. I hope it is not a "we've run out of that laptop but for a mere $350 more you can have..." type trip. Also ads in the paper often talk only about the good things and leave out some important things. For example, the ad for this HP laptop talked about the 4GB of memory and 500GB hard drive but forgot to mention the processor's speed - anyone who knows about computer functionality knows the processor speed is very important. Heck, I'd even go so far as to say the processor is probably number one on the list of important features. Memory is cheap - going from 2GB to 4GB can be accomplished for about $50 or less. But going from a processor speed of 2.0GHz to 2.2GHz or higher could cost hundreds of dollars especially on the high end. So, we shall see - stay tuned.

Posted at 07:59 am in General | Comments (0)

Am I in Florida?

Sun 10 January 2010

Damn...if I didn't know better I'd think I was still in Atlanta. Yesterday afternoon it was in the 30's with a light, cold, bone-chilling rain - the good folks of Vero are not used to this type of nasty cold weather. Rumor has it that Orlando at a bit of snow or sleet. I got it...it must be caused by 'global warming' don't you think? How can anyone not believe in global warming? Jeez! By the way, I have a bridge in New York I want to sell to you.

On the positive side, it's warmer her than back in Atlanta where I understand it is bitterly cold. I remember on Christmas about 20 years ago when the daily high in Atlanta did not get above 8 degrees with a wind chill factor of -12 - now that is cold. No matter how hard I tried, I could not get my house warm because of all the glass. I wanted colder weather around Christmas - I guess I should be careful as to what I want, huh?

The big project I'm working on is coming along - I'm still trying to nail down the template so as I can start building the site. As I mentioned, this project started with nothing but an image fro which to work. I've had to code everything from scratch but it has been a learning experience for me. I'm getting o the point where I don't remember all the code I need but I do know what to look for and where to find it. Just knowing what to look for gets me 80% there. I think I'll be able to actually start building the site this coming week.

I now have all of the Midsomer Mystery series and about 80% of "Lovejoy" - another BCC series I like. These two series take up about 100GB on an external hard drive. If I continue to download things like this, I can easily see needing more storage. Because of these new downloads, my main back-up external hard drive is about 85% full and it hold 500GB! Jeez..weho would have thunk [sic] it?! Of course the Western Digital 'My Book' external hard dive has all the data from my first and second desktops as well as all these video files. Not to worry...I just bought a Samsung 'Story Station' which will hold 1TB of data. Never in my wildest imagination did I ever think I'd might want and ultimately need a full Terrabyte of storage - that's 1,000 Megabytes for God's sake. I've not hooked it up yet but I will soon.

Starr came over so that she and I could order a new laptop for her son Alex to use in college. We ordered him a new Dell Studio Laptop with a good bit of horsepower. It has a Duo 2.5GHz processor, 4 GB of RAM at 800GHz, and a 500 GB hard drive. With a HD monitor, built in web cam, and 2 DVD/CD drives I think he'll have all he needs. We were able to get the machine with shipping and taxes for less than $1000 - it should be here before the end of the month. I know you can get laptops for less but with his field of study - graphic design - I think he'll be happy with the power of this machine. It should be able to run two or three Adobe applications at the same time. Alex doesn't know it's coming so don't tell him.

Posted at 10:55 am in General | Comments (0)

My Newest Project

Fri 08 January 2010

You've missed me again haven't you? I know how important my wisdom and incite is to you and when it's not available some of you panic, go into deep depression, or withdraw from the world. So, although I've not got much time this afternoon, I thought a few comments will help you through the rest of the day and into Saturday.

Why have I not posted you ask? Well, it's this new project I've been working on almost non-stop since Wednesday. It's the 25 page website I'm going to try to build for an Atlanta architect turned attorney. For the last couple days I've been trying to build the template from which the rest of the site will be built - the pages and info will change but not the basic layout of the title, navigation bar, and footer. So what's the big problem you ask?

For the first time I was given images from which I was to build a site which when rendered in a browser will look like the image. Basically I had that down in the first day except the gradient background did not look good on the owner's monitor although it looked fine on mine. So I first tried to make a new gradient background with an image editor but no matter what I did it the results didn't work for him.

The next thing I tried after doing a lot of research is to create a gradient background using JavaScript - that actually looked good to him. At this point I ran into a roadblock because the navigation bar I made also uses JavaScript as most all navigation bars use to animate the drop-down links. The BIG problem is you really can't use two JavaScripts on the same page - they conflict with each other making the navigation drop-down to fail. Now what?

Being resourceful, I found a way to make a gradient background differently without a big image or using JavaScript - I thought I'd hit a home run. But wait - the new background still did not render in his browser and at this point I smelled a rat! You see, the pages looked fine in the 3 computers and two different browsers in which I tested them so what's up with that. I asked the owner to check the settings for his monitor and bingo...I identified the problem. His color setting was at 16 Bits instead of the standard 32 Bits and when he changed it to 32 Bits the problem was fixed. I was trying to remedy a problem with my coding & design when the culprit was his computer. I'm very relieved after 3 days to get a template page on which the rest of the site will be built.

So that's what I've been doing - sounds like fun, huh? Actually I learned a bunch of new stuff in the process which could be useful to me in the future. I almost always learn something when I take on these projects - I like that.

Starr is on her way over so we can get a laptop for Alex . I'll sign off for now but in those famous words, "I'll be back!"

Posted at 04:44 pm in General | Comments (0)

Another Migraine

Wed 06 January 2010

I've had a level 3 migraine which started on Wednesday morning and is still with me now - it is 5:30pm on Wednesday. I've had two take two of my strongest pain meds during the day but maybe that will be it. If things go as they usually do, I'll be over this current event by noon tomorrow. Reports to follow.

The major project I mentioned a few weeks ago is now back in full swing meaning I'll probably not be as attentive to my daily updates for a few days. This project is to build a 25 page website from images I've been given - usually I just start from scratch so this is an all new challenge for me and I love it. The BIG deal is to get the home page just like my 'client' wants it and then use that as a template for the rest of the site. The biggest problem thus far is he wants a gradient background with a smooth transition from side to side and top to bottom. Unfortunately, a gradient background is an image which means it will render differently on other computers based on the screen resolution of the monitors being used. Unlike a regular image, a back ground image expands or contracts to fit the screen and with a gradient image unsightly lines may appear. I've spent most of the day on the background but I've decided to stop and start fresh tomorrow.

When completed, this will be my biggest project to date and I'll have learned some new techniques in website coding - this stuff is fun for me. Additionally, I like the guy I'm trying to help so I'm willing to take what ever time it takes to get it right. When I breakdown my compensation based on the hours I spend I'm not sure I'll get to minimum wage! However, that's not the goal - the goal is to learn and have fun completing the project. Just wait, you'll see.

It's been colder than a witch's titty in a steel bra for the past few days and will remain cool. I wanted cooler temperatures so I got what I wanted. My HVAC system has been running almost constantly to keep my house warm - there have been record lows recorded for some of these days. Starr said she couldn't get her house warm enough so I loaned her my two ceramic heaters I used back in Atlanta. Even my urban outdoors men buddies have had to come in out of the cold. Oh well, it sure has been nice.

I've been continually download torrents of Midsomer Murders and the "Lovejoy" series from the BBC. I've got one season let to get on Midsomer murders and 3 seasons on Lovejoy to get then my collection of these series will be complete. I may go watch one episode now rather than watch all the political crap on TV.

Georgia Tech lost last night to Iowa - the Yellow Jackets couldn't score against the Iowa defense. Last night, Iowa was clearly the better team. Oh well, I'm still most pleased with Tech's record this year and there is always the 2010 season only 9 months away!

Posted at 06:40 pm in General | Comments (0)

Orange Bowl Tonight

Tue 05 January 2010

In case you may have forgotten, Georgia Tech plays Iowa in the Orange Bowl tonight - kick off is at 8:15. Damn I hate night games especially bowl games which tend to last longer with more commercials. Of course I'll have to watch it until my hair hurts because Iowa is beating the Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech is a slight favorite but I know that mistakes, fumbles, and interception can be the downfall of any team. If both teams play well, it should be close but if one makes a lot of mistakes the other is likely to win.

After tonight, college football is over but I'll be anxiously awaiting with pregnant anticipation the arrival of the 2010 college football season 9 months from now. I wonder if I'll have morning sickness? I'll like want to consume more ice cream to help me cope until September. Actually I'm glad there is a season - I'd likely get board if it was a year around event like baseball seems to be.

Update on my memory board problems - yesterday I returned the two Samsung boards along with a request for a switch to the original Samsung memory boards instead of the updated ones. With four 1GB boards all being the same, I should not have a problem adding memory. Perhaps I'll get the order next week then try an install once again.

Starr is coming by today for a nice gab session - when she's working it's hard for her to relax and have time to absorb the warm glow of my aurora as I radiate bliss (or is that bullsh*t?) It's a nice sunny day here in Vero but the coolness is still in the air - I like that. Perhaps Starr & I will go for lunch over on the beach and watch the Yankees swim in what must be very cold water. Stay tuned.

My house keeping folks are going to clean the carpet in my bedroom suite on Thursday. It's only been down for 2 years but during that time construction was still going on generating drywall dust. Then of course Sally Cat has deposited two years of cat hair - no matter how often the carpet gets vacuumed, there is always cat hair left behind. Charlie says he wants to do this as a favor to me but I feel I should pay him and I'll try to do just that. He just wants to express his appreciation for the website I built for him but the difference is I like building websites - does he like cleaning carpets?

Ther's a rumor that the Ramblin Reck may make an appearance tonight in the Orange Bowl - that would be really cool.

Posted at 11:40 am in General | Comments (0)

Computer Problems

Sun 03 January 2010

From about 10 am yesterday until around 4 pm yesterday I spent on my main computer in the process of trying to add 1GB of memory to bring it up to the maximum of 4GB - I already have 3GB. I was told I needed to install memory boards in pairs so I ordered two 1GB Samsung boards to replace the two 512MB already installed with two 1GB boards. I've installed memory before so this was not a new adventure for me - what was new is I could not get both of the two new 1GB boards to work. When I put the two in, my machine said it still had 3GB but did not see the 4th 1GB memory board.

For the next few hours I installed, uninstalled, moved the install location, and tried every thing else I know to do to get the 4GB installed. I cleaned the plugs where the memory boards plug in with compressed air incase there might have been dust. I uninstalled them and then put them back thinking I might not have all connecting points on one of the boards not pushed in far enough which by the way is a common error.

Then I was thinking that because the speed of the new boards is 800MGz while the old boards are 666MHz this could be the problem but have research on websites I discovered they should work together but not for me. After a few hours I was beginning to think one of two new boards was bad but at that point I was tired of trying. So, I e-mailed the place where I purchased them requesting that the two I bought be replace with two 1GB boards of the original speed and manufacturer - I've not heard back from them yet.

So I put back all the original memory boards and guess what...my computer would not boot. I uninstalled the boards and then installed them again until my computer worked once again. Because of the difficulty I had with boards I know to be good, I'm thinking I might should trying the new ones again - maybe the connects were not good. At this point I'll wait to hear back about the exchange because it could be one of the new boards is bad.

When I did get my computer to boot, I could not get my files or certain Microsoft built in programs like the Task Manager to open. Jeez! I think I may have broken Explorer.exe which is used to open files and some programs because non Microsoft programs I tried to open did open albeit slowly. Time for System Restore but unfortunately even that did not work until I went back to 4 days ago and finally I got my files and programs to open but slower than they used to open for some reason. I did a chkdsk run which yielded some issues so I had to run it again at boot so it can fix the issues. Now my machine boots at it's usual fast speed but sometimes it takes longer than what it used to take for explorer.exe to function properly. For now I'm done trying to break this computer until I find out something about the memory board exchange.

This whole event was a learning process but in this case I didn't have much fun. At one point I thought I might have created a valid reason for buying a new computer but I failed at that too. BTW, I have all of my data stored on an external hard drive so if my computer was broken, I would not have lost data. If you don't have your files backed-up, you ought to do it now.

Posted at 11:37 am in General | Comments (0)

Identity Theft

Sat 02 January 2010

So the colder weather I wanted for the Christmas - New Years holidays has now arrived here in Vero. The temperatures for the next 15 days are going to be on the cool side meaning I'm not sure the highs will get much above 70 and the lows down in the 40's or perhaps even 30's. For me, a bit of colder weather makes things seem more 'normal' after the cold winters I experienced in Atlanta for 43 years. I remember one Christmas when it was about 0 on Christmas day - so cold you couldn't even get your key in a car door to open it. So cold that diesel fuel turned to jello thus cars would not start. With the wind-chill factor, it 'felt' like -12 degrees. With all the glass in my Atlanta house, my furnace was running 24 hours a day trying to heat my home. Vero is not like that - that's a good thing.

Earlier today I was going to a Facebook page of one of my Facebook friends and all of a sudden my security software through up an alert blocking access to part of the page's data. The alert said my MasterCard number was being sent out of my computer without my permission to an unsecured site. Actually what happened is the URL of a picture that was to load on the Facebook page had a sequence of numbers which matched the last for digits of my MasterCard numbers - it was not an evil attempt to steal my card number.

These security alerts are very rare and in each case in the past were either legitimate or a false alarm like the one today. This alert was a good reminder as to why I have security software to protect my computer and protect confidential information from being stolen from my computer. In today's environment of identity theft, you can never be too careful IMO. The software I have will block any data I chose from leaving my computer without my permission - data like credit card numbers, social security number, passwords, username, or anything else I want it to watch. I've had this feature for sometime now but never paid much attention to it until my last AmEx credit card compromise about 6 weeks ago. This security feature is in my software so why not use it? If you have software which will do this blocking, I'd suggest you might want to use it - it certainly can't hurt.

If I wanted to be a thief, identity theft is the way I'd go. This sort of illegal action is non-violent and seemingly rather easy with as much of it going on as there is. Heck, I'm cautious with my credit cards yet my AmEx card has been compromised about 4 or maybe 5 times in the past few years. When I use it online, it is always on a secure (https) website with encryption and when I use it in person, the card almost never leaves my hand as I just swipe it through a card reader. Yet the card number - never the card itself - has been stolen. I don't like jail so I think it's best for me to stay on the right side of the law.

The best bowl game thus far has been the Auburn - Northwestern game in which Auburn won 38 -35 in overtime. What made it particularly great is all the strange plays - when you thought a play was good, it got called back. The Florida game was boring so I didn't watch much - I'm happy Florida did win. The ACC teams have lost 2 out of the 3 bowl games in which they played - I hope Georgia Tech can improve on the win - lost record Monday night.

Posted at 10:38 am in General | Comments (0)

It's 2010 Already!

Fri 01 January 2010

My how time slips by as you get older - yet another year has pasted so quickly. I've wondered why that is because when I was young, years went very slow - maybe I was waiting for Christmas all the time. Actually, as you get older, each passing year represents a smaller part of your entire life. When I was 10, a year was 1/1oth of life. But when I was 50, a year was only 1/50th of my life and thus each year you get old represents a smaller time span compared to the years you lived. I think this is why years go by so quickly as we age which by the way is better than the alternative.

It's been two weeks and two e-mails since I asked what I thought was going to be a new website client for information and opinion. It could be he's just busy with the holidays and work but I'm thinking he may have decided to go elsewhere. That's his right of course, he has no obligation to me in any manor what so ever. I've learned a good bit of things since I started the project as it relates to a Powerpoint file - learning new stuff is fun for me. Perhaps he didn't want to pay my standard fee referring to find someone else who claims to be able to meet his goals for a smaller fee. As you folks know, I do this website stuff because I like it not because I'm paying my bills with it. The only thing I would have liked is he telling me no thanks if he decided to move on. I'll be able to tell of course because I know what the site looks like now so I'll watch for changes.

Many of you know Marilyn back in Atlanta and for those who don't she is a friend I met through Wendy. Her profession - design work - was hit like many others in the last year but two days ago she told me she has a new job. She also has a name she'll use with respect to her design work - SpecSolutions. She asked me about getting a 'business' e-mail address and maybe even a very small website - she came to the right place. In the last 36 hours I hooked her up with a URL - specsolutions.net - and a business e-mail address - mpaulson@specsolutions.net...she is most pleased. I was happy to do it for her and in the process save her a good bit of money as compared to using an online site for the things she wants. She will be shocked when I tell her how very little it will cost for host server and e-mail addresses. The next thing is do put together a small site for her which of course I'll do for free. For those who know her, send her an e-mail at her 'business' e-mail address she'll love it.

Yesterday I was looking at the pictures of the year in the online Press Journal one of which was a picture of a guy holding a tarpon he'd caught - a 200 lb. tarpon. For some reason, it occurred to me I'd like to put Drew's face on the guy who actually caught the fish. Have a look at today's image - what do you think? Once again, I love the learning process of how to create such an image. Although I have Adobe's Photoshop I still don't know how to use it so I used Paint.NET which I've used for years. I'll get around to teaching myself how to use Photoshop one of these days - it is very complex.

I got a new Samsung external hard drive that is very highly rated and was offered at a price I could not refuse by Newegg.com - I use this online store as one of my 3 online sources for stuff. BTW, the other two stores I use are Buy.com and Amazon.com. Here's the kicker...it is a terabyte hard drive! Why so damn big you ask, you can't have that much porn you ask. Well, I've found that the movies and TV series I've been downloading take up a lot of space - the Midsomer Murders will be over 65 GB once I've downloaded them all. Plus, I think I want to store everything which formerly was in "My Documents" to the external drive so as to free-up space on my computer's hard drive. Really, it was a great deal which I just had to buy - you know how much I like to shop!

Today is the granddaddy of college football games so of course I'll likely watch a some of them. Georgia Tech plays in the Orange next Tuesday night at 8pm - I hate those night games.

Posted at 10:46 am in General | Comments (0)