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I believe I’ve solved my problems with UPS October 3, 2014

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it came to me when I bitched out the agent at the UPS depot, refused to identify myself or sign for the package.

One of the things I said to her was “What, do I have to paint the house number in big neon numbers so the driver can find the place?”

So I printed out an 8.5×11 sheet of paper that said:

“Attention UPS Driver”

“This is”

“My address”

And I tape it inside the window that faces where the driver pulls in to the business next door. And sure enough I’ve had THREE packages delivered by UPS without issue.

I guess they now know that I’m not fucking around. I expect the packages to be delivered.

But again, I had to go to what I consider extraordinary measure to get those packages delivered.

MBTA slow as shit past few days October 3, 2014

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This isn’t the MBTA or MBCR’s problem though. The issue is with Amtrak and more specifically their signalling system.

Apparently there was a failure of the switch elements near Canton Junction – at least judging by the number of Amtrak vehicles and personnel I saw this morning.

Now what I suspect caused the problem – we had three straight days of rain. Water and electronic and electric gear do not play well together.

But this told me we’ll never see true TGV or Shinkansen like speeds on the northeast corridor. The switching network is far too fragile.

Of course there are also co-workers of mine who say the tracks are too curved. But that’s the thing, the Acela trains were built with the ability to tilt into curves. ANd the power car is more than capable of speeds exceeding 200MPH. As I may have said before the power car is built by the same company that built the TGV in France, a company called Alstom.

So almost all the elements are in place for true high speed – but today I was reading that the next phase of the Japanese Shinkansen line will be a Maglev or Magnetic Levitation system. The thing about Maglev is that it has to be in a straight line, so they’re tunneling underground to build the new system. And it’s top speed will be somewhere in the 300MPH+ range. That is awesome. But we’ll never see it in the U.S. because for one, our politicians have no vision. And for two we insist that speeds below 200MPH are high speed. No they aren’t.

And the high speed – not just limited to the Acela trains. The big locomotives are more than capable of hauling ass at 150MPH themselves. It’s what you get when you hybridize a train.

Rediscovering Punk Music September 28, 2014

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My favorite of course from Punk’s conception in the late 1970’s to early 1980’s.

That was back when The Clash and The Cure were still sort of punk sounding.

But then there were The Misfits:

The Dead Kennedy’s (The name of the group alone was pretty tasteless!)

Suicidal Tendencies

The Ramones of course!

Amateur Radio: Stealing the Thunder – Cheap DMR radio coming September 20, 2014

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I’ve been watching the digital modes on VHF/UHF shift around past couple years, WIRES, D-Star etc. But the radios are too expensive. I don’t want to ever pay close to $400 to $1,000 for a handheld radio.

t’s coming from Baofeng of course.  The new DA-77 is a full up DMR radio. And the price – $129. So I’ll jump in.

Now on to what DMR  – it’s a digital encoding based on 12.5KHz channels. It stands for Digital Mobile Radio. A bit of misnomer but then a handheld is in fact a mobile radio. If you want to go you can read the protocol specifications here.

It’s interesting that the ETSI who controls the DMR standards insists on calling it a “…licensed land mobile…” service. Amateur Radio in the United States isn’t just restricted to terrestrial use – there are a number of satellites whizzing around in the sky right this moment. Plus there is an amateur radio presence on the International Space Station. So Amateur Radio in the United States isn’t a land mobile thing.

But for the capabilities and price – once the DA-77 is available I’m buying one. The reason I think DMR will win in the long term is that the others I mentioned are WIRES (Yaesu) and D-Star (Icom). But they don’t play because they are proprietary protocols. But DMR is open in the sense that ANY manufacturer can use the standard. So there will in fact be a whole lot more DMR radios than WIRES or D-Star out there. if price is the driving factor that is. And believe me, it is!

How to destroy a hard drive September 19, 2014

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Or more specifically after you’ve used some Torx head screwdrivers and extracted the platters from you hard drive.

Anyhow smaller drives tend to use glass platters. And sure as shit the dead hard drive I removed from my Linux box had glass platters. You can test this – just hold a magnet to it. If the magnet is attracted to the platter it’s metal, otherwise glass.

In the case of metal – a 20 to 50 grit sandpaper is your friend. In fact for both metal and glass a vigorous rub with sandpaper will render it unreadable.

But in the case of glass you can go one step further. Smash the shit out of it with a blunt object. You’ll end up with something similar to this:

20140919_221947[1]Of course afterward I used a metal rolling pin to further turn it to dust. If you can recover data from that I’d like to meet you.

Uggh – it’s getting darker and cooler September 19, 2014

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I hate this shit – you can have the cooler weather and darkness. After close to half a century of it I’m done. I want the fuck out of northeast.

Right now I work in Cambridge, MA. They do seem to have their shit together vis a vis public works and care and feeding of deciduous trees and plants. So I’m guessing I’m not going too far out on a limb to suppose that they’ll have nice cleared sidewalks when the time comes when the snow starts.

I am hopeful though – it’s been a relatively dry summer so I’m thinking we may be in for a snow free winter in the northeast.

After all I did get the sidewalk snow removal statute in Providence, RI enhanced quite a bit. I got tired of property owners either feigning ignorance or flaunting the weaker statute. So now you don’t clear your sidewalks there are escalating levels the worst of which is a lien against your property by the city. So of course it’ll be a light snow winter.

Plus I’ve got my city councilor all trained now – two things I suggested, one of which I know is in place, the other we’ll see. The leaves haven’t fallen off the trees yet but I see they haven’t mucked out the storm drains yet so I’m hopeful. But at the very least the sidewalks on the overpasses of I-95 in the ward – they get cleared of snow by the city now.

I do my part to help make it a little less half assed where I can.

Footwear Choices September 14, 2014

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So I’m pretty basic when it comes to footwear. Sneakers or hiking boots for winter. And more to the point Reeboks and Timberlands.

I cannot do regular shoes. They tear the shit out of my feet. But sneakers and hiking boots work for me. The sneakers tend to be more flexible but the pair I have now and the ones I plan to buy aren’t good for wet conditions per se. And we’ll be upon Winter sooner than later so waterproof Timberland hikers do the trick.

And that’s the other thing – I can get away with those footwear choices because of the field I’m in, namely Senior Linux Engineering. In fact through my entire 20+ years in the I.T. field in general the dress code has been pretty lax. Usually jeans, t-shirts and sneakers. I take my comfort seriously.

This extends into the shoes too – my feet really dig Reebok sneakers and Timberland boots. I can’t explain it, they just do.

Now If I could only get Reebok to ship via USPS I’d be a thoroughly happy camper.

Crap – dead hard drive on my personal machine and how I love Bluehost. September 14, 2014

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So I went to use my personal machine and it was powered off. Strange – I hit the power button and get the message no disk found. I gotta download Ubuntu on a USB stick and boot it, I bet the MBR got hosed and if that’s the case I can recover data from it. The drive was after all 3 to 4 years old which is the outer edge of the safe zone for it. Plus being run 24×7 for a couple months and never being put into sleep or hibernate probably did it. But that got me to thinking.

SSD drives are getting less expensive. I can get a 250GB for a tad under $200. I may just go that route. The speed increase would be nice but I realize I’m limited by the speed of the SATA bus on the machine. But still a fuck load faster than a mechanical head seeking across a metalized platter.

Plus I’ve got the work laptop I’m using right now. So there’s no great urgency. And thanks to Google Chrome all my bookmarks etc. are preserved.

The one fly in the ointment – I went to ship a package on USPS. And of course I do so infrequently enough that I blew the password. So I clicked the recover password link and used my business email. Except I couldn’t get to my business email because, you guessed it I forgot the password to Bluehost.

Now this was early on a Saturday morning, approximately 07:00 hours eastern daylight time. So I called Bluehost, was connected to a human being almost immediately explained the situation and withing five minutes I was using their webmail product. Perfect! Got the password recover link from USPS and was in business.

Now even though Bluehost has it’s limitations, particularly if you’re going to do bulk emailing it’s still a damned fine hosting provider. I recommend them without reservation. If you’re looking for a place to host a web site, some email accounts, a database server, etc. then give them a visit.

And I should mention I’ve used Bluehost for campaign email accounts, and a whole bunch more.

Gay Romance – I’m done September 13, 2014

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I’ve read a number of gay romance stories. All start with a tortured protagonist. That tortured protagonist meets the love of their life and then the love of their life has problems.

The theme starts well enough – but I’m done. On to something else to read.

Where were you? September 11, 2014

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Thirteen years and one hell of a shitty presidency have gone by. The presidency I reference is that of George W. Bush.

Anyhow that political dig aside – where were you when the events of 9/11/2001 went down?

Me, I was the Information Technology Director at the Rhode Island Department of Attorney General. Our first inkling that something was up was when we noticed out net connection was experiencing heavy delays. So I went upstairs to the Director of Administrations office and she was there along with a bunch of people all watching the small tv in her office. I got there just in time to see the second aircraft slam into the other tower.

Needless to say not much got done that day. We were all clustered around offices with televisions because the net service was as I mentioned, belly up.

But here’s the interesting part. Within a day or two we had a listing of every single Arab or Persian national in Rhode Island. Plus  after the attacks we were getting emails of weaponry that could be used on another aircraft hijacking.

Then a few months later we’re all headed down to DC for the SEARCH conference. When we get to the airport we had our official ID’s When the woman at the desk saw those her first question was “Are you armed?”. She got a big old no to that one.


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