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Education and Net Access – stamp out conservatism April 16, 2014

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I just saw this during the weekend.

So the thought occurred to me – all these militias in the U.S. They’re almost  all against the government, Jews and Black people. Why is it that they cannot connect the dots and see the corporate oligarchy/plutocracy. If they had more than two brain cells among them they’d see who the real targets were, the rich! 

I also note a lot of the militia types – they tend to side Republican even Tea Bagger. 

But I want to share something I learned about the voters in Rhode Island. Yesterday I decided to do the following query, show me all users that supplied email addresses and break it down by party affiliation, Republican or Democrat. 

Here’s the results:

Democrats with Email Addresses: 9496 43%

Republicans with Email Addresses: 2283 10%

Unaffiliated with Email Addresses: 10159 46%

Total with Email Address: 21,938

Extrapolation using percentages against unaffiliated voters

Democrat:  9496+4368 = 13864 63%

Republican: 2283+1016 = 3299 15%

Subtotal: = 17,163 with a difference of 4,775 (22%) true independent extrapolated. 

It’s the extrapolated numbers that are interesting – of the entirety of the database only 3,299 Republicans in RHode Island supplied email addresses. I really should have scraped dates of birth in that mix too. I’ve done similar analyses before and found that those over 65 tend to trend Republican and don’t have net access. 

I think net access makes a huge difference. I can’t quantify it but the fact that you have an email says you have some savvy about things. 

Now wouldn’t it be interesting if we could push net access to EVERYONE in the United States. Everyone. The young, the old and everything in between. Echo chambers like Fox News would have a pretty tough time surviving. And so too the neo-conservatives, tea baggers, Randians and other ilk of the conservative movement. 

Linux and Old Gear April 14, 2014

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The server I just built – it date to 2006. Which makes it at this writing eight years old. It’s had some upgrades etc. probably as late as 2009. So it’s of mixed age. But still perfectly functional. 

That’s the thing – try installing Windows Server 2008 on this and it’ll puke. But put Ubutu Server 12.04-4 on it and miraculously it works. All that’s needed from this box is one year. I fully expect it will work because the until has sat for near three years un-powered. So this brings it down to only five years of actual operational time. 

You get new life out of old hardware. This is sort of why I proposed recycling state I.T. gear – machines still usable wipe the disks and put Ubuntu on them. Older machines strip down and send for metal extraction as there’s quite a lot of gold in them. State would get residual value out of all of it and then not have to pay to warehouse it. Win-win. 

Networking an IBM x306 3386 April 13, 2014

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So I had plugged in my Alpha 802.11 external to the IBM x306 8836. But I realized I needed to have wpasupplicant on it. So I brought it near the router and plugged it in via patch cable. But no IP. Now reading all the IBM documentation it showed that Ethernet 1 was toward top center while Ethernet 2 was below and to the right of it. But this system had a dual Ethernet card in the riser too.

So I plugged into the Ethernet 1 port figuring Linux identified this as eth0. Nothing. No link, dhclient couldn’t connect. So on a whim I took it out of that jack and plugged it into the right most on the riser. There we go. It goes backward. That’s eth0. Grrr.

Finally managed to connect and did upgrades etc. and of course what did I forget to do before I powered the server off? Forgot to install wpasupplicant. Next time.



The end of frustration April 12, 2014

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So for the past two days I’ve been trying my damnedest to build a server to handle email and web services. Tried Debian – that failed. Tried CentOS – major fail. Couldn’t find the disks on the system. Read a whole bunch of documentation on an IBM eServer x306 Model 8836. It’s basically a PC underneath it all. 

So I decided to try an experiment. I have two of the x306′s. I snapped the drives out of the one that wasn’t powered and put them into the powered chassis. Voila – disks show up now. Debian install not so much – kept getting corruption issues trying to install grep, and a few other packages. And then I remember, Ubuntu does a Server version – so I downloaded and burned it and installed it. Doing first boot sans CD now. 

Two days and foiled by one or more bad disk drives. They’re 3.5″ SATA drives so easy and cheap enough to replace them. So for $100 I can get two 500GB SATA drives. That’s way cheap enough. 

Always been a fan of German engineering April 10, 2014

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The Germans and to some degree the French have always been phenomenal engineers. Now Italians are good for making things beautiful. 

There’s the old joke about in hell:

In Hell: the cooks are English, 
the policemen are German, 
the mechanics are French, 
the lovers are Swiss 
and the bankers are Italian.

But I seriously love German cars – particularly those from the region in the eastern part between Stuttgart and Bavaria. The cars they produced are this side of fucking awesome. Drivers cars. I’m speaking of three cars here – the Porsche 944, the Volkswagen Jetta, and the BMW X3. I’ve driven the last two and was very impressed by their performance. But then think about it, German cars are built for the speeds and conditions of the Autobahn in Germany. 

That’s the other thing the Autobahn. The standards for building that highway system are much deeper than what we have here in the U.S. The roadways are built for speed and a long lifetime. In the U.S. our highways, particularly in the northeast were built to suit political whim and nothing more. 

But German cars need to be able to do a respectable speed. For instance today I had a BMW X3. It’s a medium to small sized SUV. Refined as all hell. Does take a little getting used to as the radio controls are on the center console not the dash. And the gear selector – to go into reverse you hold down the button on the side and tip the handle forward. To go into drive you tip the handle downward. And then it has this little feature where you can select between sport mode and eco mode. I think you can figure out what they do. But I’ll elaborate – in eco mode the vehicle performs admirably. But put it in sport mode and it becomes a very responsive monster. Just touch the gas pedal and you’re zooming away. I like! 

Coming back from Cambridge, MA I had a long stretch of road to push it up to 70, 80, 90, and 100MPH. Cars built in the U.S. and Japan will shimmy like mad above 80MPH. But this BMW X3 was SOLID on the road. Simply amazing. And even the base model of the X3 can tow 4,400 pounds. That’s pretty wild. 

Now a new one will cost you $50K. But used and a couple years old the price drops precipitously. So maybe I might picked a used vehicle. A 2007/2008 with relatively low mileage is about $10K on average. Mazda may think they have the zoom zoom – but they’re kidding themselves. The X3 had the mother fucking zoom. 

And today I had a suit on – and the Keyron says the car – it’s a car basically – all the creature features, bells and whistles. But he says it fits me. Now I like small cars – a Mazda 3 or even a nicely restored Porsche 944 would suit me. But the X3 has the wow factor, actually that’s being too mild about it, it had the holy shit factor. And if there’s one thing I REALLY like it’s rapid acceleration and that feeling of being pushed back in your seat. Oh yeah!

I do wish the U.S. would adopt the practice of what is this: The left lane is for ludicrous speed. The German language has a term for it but it’s not what we in the U.S. would think. It is Verkehr rechts halten aka Traffic Keep Right. The assumption of the word ‘slower traffic keep right’ is inherent in the German term. The left lane is only for ludicrous speed! 


And the solution April 9, 2014

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A dedicated business class connection for $80 per month with dedicated IP. An IBM e-Server with Debian 7.4 installed and the latest iteration of Qmail installed. 

I’ve already told the campaigner.com story. And Constant Contact still hasn’t gotten back to me. So we roll our own. 



Another option for bulk emailing April 9, 2014

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So today I lamented that Campaigner.com and even ConstantContact weren’t really set up for mass mailings from a list and they both have poor understanding of what constitutes a paid for list. 

One of the options I had suggested at the outset was just get a Cox Business account. But memory from 2006 said a 2mbps VAN was $200. So I called them today – $70 per month for dedicated 30/15 service and $10 for a static IP address. $80 per month. 

That’s the way we’re going. I’m downloading Debian 7.4.0 right now and I’ll burn it to a couple of discs. Then I’ll take one of my IBM e-servers that was destined for the public wifi MESH project and make a Qmail email server out of it. Then we can email away to our hearts content. No bullshit, no stupidity. We’ll have to move our domain over to the new connection and away from Bluehost. But that’s easy enough to do – just change the MX and A records and we’re off and running. 

So the only thing we’re waiting for Cox on is the install. Then I can plug in the server – point all the domains and fuck off email houses – we’re our own email house. 


Avoid Campaigner.com if you’re using a public record email list April 7, 2014

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So I posted earlier how on Sunday I logged into campaigner to find they said they’d received too many complaints and suspended us. So their resolution side reached out asking me about or list – I told them that:

a) Can Spam does not apply to political entities 

b) The relevant section of RI Law that says voter info is public information

c) The fact that when you get the list from the state – you’re paying for the medium and the time necessary to burn the list to disc, not the actual information on the disc. 

But Campaigner is based in Canada. And their internal regs say no purchased lists. And they have a weak understanding of U.S. Federal Law and State Law. 

I did reach out to Constant Contact – I know they’re more expensive but I did ask them the question – what is their view of a disc with public info about voters, including email addresses which the RI Central Voter Registration Database does. I recall I specified that when the discussions were going on. I’m awaiting an answer – it’s going to be about $70 per month more expensive but if they get back to me in writing saying using that list is fine, then they get our business. 

But I’m really disappointed in Campaigner.com

Their treatment of this issue is callous and bovine. Perhaps I should have been deceptive in answering their questions but then that wouldn’t have made it any better. So instead I’ll advise anyone running a political campaign – stay far, far away from Campaigner. Our experience with them was fraught with asinine stupidity – our first email blast was held for, and I kid you not ‘compliance’ issues. They couldn’t tell us what it was but they cleared it after a delay of 24 hours.

And what kicked off this Odyssey of cancellation of our account was the complaints. Before we go locked out I had downloaded the email addresses and names of those who complained. I’ve got to run a query against the database – I’ll bet a lot of them are Republicans. Not only that – they use AOL or Yahoo for email. I mean I would publish the list here so we could shame them but that’s pointless now. But still – this demonstrated that AOL users are think skinned and don’t belong on the net at all.



Bulk Mail Services that are too touchy April 5, 2014

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I’m going to ding campaigner.com here. They were the least expensive for what we needed to do – that is get 20,000+ emails out there.

But first we go to send and we’re told the message is non-compliant. They couldn’t tell us WHAT exactly was non-compliant though I have my suspicions.

Now tonight I go and log in and a big message as follows:


I called and talked to Paul at Campaigner. I told him this is the second stumbling block we’ve had with Campaigner and that I’m really starting to reconsider using them. It’d probably be considerably cheaper to just get a business net connection, I’ll throw Qmail on one of the IBM eServer’s I’ve got and we’d be in the bulk mailing business.

I also explained to Paul that most of the complainants were in fact AOL users who as a general rule are the dregs of the net and also very thin skinned. But more interesting, there were a total of sixty six complaints, the vast majority of which came from AOL and a few from Yahoo. There’s a reason I’ve always hated AOL users and this just bears out my dislike of AOL in general.

Bulk emailing even if it is for a political campaign is a pain in the posterior.

Let’s Play Rate the Democratic Candidates for Governor in Rhode Island April 5, 2014

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We’ll start with the Democrats. Ratings shall be five points from 1 to 5. This is in no special order just as they come to mind:

1) Todd Giroux – I like his platform idea to steer a billion dollars away from Wall Street and back into the economy in Rhode Island. He also has a plan to keep the state prosperous going forward. That is what I like to see. And ObDisclaimer – I am the Data Analyst for his campaign. Rated 4.5

2) Clay Pell – he’s definitely got the money but I think the brain power is slightly lacking in his case. First there’s the debacle with the missing Prius – who leaves a car unlocked in the city of Providence or environs thereof, and more doesn’t have a second set of keys to the car, and third hasn’t the white matter in their head to think to just lock the car and call a locksmith. This doesn’t give me a whole lot of confidence in his ability to use the bully pulpit to better Rhode Island. Rated 2

3) Gina Raimondo – she is a Wall Street demon spawn. With her at the helm as treasurer I’m pretty upset about the way she’s handled benefits for retirees etc. And it would only get worse once she’s in the bully pulpit. Rated 2.5

4) Angel Taveras – currently Mayor of Providence his most deft move was closing city pools last summer. Plus he’s really stuck it to union retirees and he gets on my shit list for having the tenacity to say that the tax breaks given to the big property concerns created jobs. Really? Of course he wouldn’t answer when I asked “What jobs?” I’m sorry there are no negative numbers allowed because this candidate would be in the dumps. 


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