Review: Full Contact

There are a few things in my computing life that have been constantly chaotic. Top of the list: my contacts.

Looking at how my life has bounced around like a pinball, I have 3 active Google mail accounts, I have my Mac Address book, where all my added contacts from my iPhone dribble in to, and an old application and card scanner that wasn’t really compatible.

In short, it was a mess. Then I noticed that one of my twitter contacts is working for this company called “Full Contact” that promises to process all your various sources of contacts, to merge them, de-duplicate them, and then scour the various social media sites to fill in the gaps. Continue reading →

Dumb things I do

I am sure I am not unique, that I am not the only one who does stupid things.

Sunday, I did a 6.4 mile hike/walk. I had a small blister on my right small toe. As usual, I “popped” it, and went on with life.

Then Monday, I felt like doing another hike/walk. Bad idea. Small blister became agonizing, and a huge portion of the skin on the bottom of that pinkie toe peeled off.

Now, I am in agony. Completely self inflicted wound.

Yes, I am dumb

Getting my online properties in shape

Digital Ocean Header

Having started with my web hosting at Media Temple, and their managed offering, their “Grid” platform. Circa 2010, it was state of the art, and worked very well. Apart from some shared MySQL database that had a couple of hogs who affected performance early, it was flawless.

Then in late 2014, I got the notice that Media Temple had been sold to the pirates at GoDaddy. Having dealt with them running the website for Southern Arizona Greyhound Adoption, I had little love or respect of them, and their sleazy business practices. So, upon receiving the notification that Media Temple had been sold to GoDaddy, I decided it was time to take the VPS plunge. Continue reading →

2017 Predictions

Ah, the year clicks over from 2016 to 2017, and suddenly everybody weighs in with their predictions for the new year. I guess I should do some similar weighing in.

So, Swami Anderson places his clenched fist upon his turban, and predicts …

Politics

President Elect Trump has selected some truly awful, unqualified, and potentially corrupt cabinet members. From Jeff “The KKK is ok except for their drug usage” Sessions for Attorney General, to Betsy “wouldn’t know a public school from a dumpster fire” DeVos, to Ben “I once lived in public housing, so I know best” Carson for HUD, it is a truly awful set of advisors.  Of course they will all sail through confirmation. Continue reading →

Blogging History/Workflow

tools

Set the wayback machine to August 2009. I was in a pretty bad place work wise, and I created a blog on WordPress.com merely as an outlet. Shortly after that I dove into hosting my own blog, using my domain tralfaz.org, and the rest is history.

In between then and now, I have been through three (four if you count my work for Southern Arizona Greyhound Adoption) hosting / VPS providers, worked with WordPress from version 2 to the current 4.7, Drupal, Joomla! and Ghost. I have experimented with writing a custom site on the CakePHP framework. Continue reading →

It was a new day yesterday,

Ian Anderson

but it’s an old day now …

2016 is finally over, and 2017 has crossed the threshold. While we lost many of my Rock and Roll idols during 2016, and we finally had to say goodbye to Tate, our seizure greyhound, it wasn’t all bad.

Dealing with some of my domains, making a transfer in December, I found that my prized possession, the .com for Tralfaz was lying fallow. So, instead of leaving it parked, or using it for some experimentation (the last use I had of it was as a playground for CakePHP, a pretty robust framework), I just spun up a simple WordPress site, picked a pretty clean theme (Hello World from Themehaus) and setting it up.

But, what will I post here?  I already have a site at tralfaz.org with almost 800 posts. Many of those posts are trivial, or product reviews, or fun observations. I have thought about wading through and “cleaning” it up, reducing the noise. But that, in the words of Herr Drumpf, “Yuuuuuge.” Nope, apart from a complete restart, that is going to be a cesspool.

I do have a professional site The Product Bistro that I use for my product management, marketing, product marketing, and other serious topics. So that is covered.

Perhaps I should keep this serious, some posts on politics, on business, on technology or whatever.

Well, hang in there, and let’s see where this goes.

Waking up in a Libertarian US

The Gadsden Flag

A dream sequence of waking up in a Libertarian USA

Joe Conservative wakes up in the morning and goes to the bathroom. He flushes his toilet and brushes his teeth, mindful that each flush & brush costs him about 43 cents to his privatized water provider. His wacky, liberal neighbor keeps badgering the company to disclose how clean and safe their water is, but no one ever finds out. Just to be safe, Joe Conservative boils his drinking water.

Joe steps outside and coughs–the pollution is especially bad today, but the smokiest cars are the cheapest ones, so everyone buys ‘em. Joe Conservative checks to make sure he has enough toll money for the 3 different private roads he must drive to work. There is no public transportation, so traffic is backed up and his 10 mile commute takes an hour.

On the way, he drops his 12 year old daughter off at the clothing factory she works at. Paying for kids to go to private school until they’re 18 is a luxury, and Joe needs the extra income coming in. Times are hard and there’re no social safety nets.

He gets to work 5 minutes late and misses the call for Christian prayer, and is immediately docked by his employer. He is not feeling well today, but has no health insurance, since neither his employer nor his government provide it, and paying for it himself is really expensive, since he has a precondition. He just hopes for the best.

Joe’s workday is 12 hours long, because there is no regulation over working hours, and Joe will lose his job if he complains or unionizes. Today is an especially bad day. Joe’s manager demands that he work until midnight, a 16 hour day. Joe does, knowing that he’ll lose his job if he does not.

Finally, after midnight, Joe gets to pick up his daughter and go home. His daughter shows him the deep cut she got on the industrial sewing machine today. Joe is outraged and asks why she doesn’t have metal mesh gloves or other protection. She says the company will not provide it and she’ll have to pay for it out of her own pocket. Joe looks at the wound and decides they’ll use an over the counter disinfectant and bandages until it heals. She’ll have a scar, but getting stitches at the emergency room is expensive.

His daughter also complains that the manager made suggestive overtures towards her. Joe counsels her to be a “good girl” and not rock the boat, or she’ll get fired and they’ll be out the income.

His daughter says she can’t wait until she’s 18 so she can vote for change or go to the Iraq War.

They get home and there’s a message from his elderly father who can’t afford to pay his medical or heating bills. Joe can hear him coughing and shivering.

Joe turns on the radio and the top story is a proposal in Congress to raise the voting age to 25. A rare liberal opinionator states that it’s an attempt to keep power out of the hands of working class Americans. The conservative host immediately quashes him, calling him “a utopian idealist,” and agreeing that people aren’t mature enough to make good choices until they’re at least 25.

Joe chuckles at the wine-swilling, cheese eating liberal egghead and thinks, “Thank God I live in America where I have freedom!”

Continue reading →

The New Republican Healthcare Plan

The new republican plans for health care sure sounds like “just die quickly, and quietly” Well, as we expected, once the Republicans captured the White House (well, in 29 days now), their first order of business will be to repeal the ACA.

They have been talking about repealing it and replacing it for 6 years now, bloviating at every opportunity, and doing fuck-all in the House with 54 attempts to repeal or defund portions of the ACA (or the pejorative “Obamacare”) so this isn’t a surprise.

However, some of the rhetoric coming out of the Paul Ryan camp is interesting. Suddenly, instead of shutting it down on day 1, they are talking about repealing and delaying for 2 – 3 years until they can devise a “replacement” for it. Yeah, that sounds do-able. Continue reading →

Interesting Project – SSL on Digital Ocean

The advent of Let’s Encrypt means that there is no real excuse to not have SSL/TLS encryption enabled on your website. Now I do on my Ghost properties As someone who has long run his own websites, first with managed hosting, and now with VPS instantiations, I have wanted to take the SSL/TLS plunge. But, as a hobbyist, the cost to go HTTPS has just been a burden that I couldn’t justify. Sure, I can handle a half dozen VPS’s on Digital Ocean, as the bandwidth is modest, and I have yet to make a big splash (hit wise), it is truly a hobby. Registering a certificate with a top tier authority, for a simple website, was $120+ per year. So I lived with the unencrypted http protocol. Continue reading →

Fun and games – Cloudflare and SSH

As I mentioned in a recent post, one of my sites, a WordPress site to help a friend sell their house, got hammered with xml-rpc requests. It didn’t get hacked, but it did bring apache to a painful halt, and filled the memory.

To prevent that, I setup Cloudflare in front of it, to act as a CDN and a way to prevent it from being attacked. Thus, in the future, I should be able to regain control without too much pain and suffering.

However, I discovered one minor issue. Since I pretty much use ssh to login to the droplet almost daily, I quickly discovered that just didn’t work.

At first, I was scratching my head, thinking that I messed something up majorly. Then I recalled that I had switched to Cloudflare for my DNS and CDN, and it clicked. Alas, how they work is they hide your IP address, and then use the magic of their service to serve up your cracking good jams.

Unfortunately, the ssh request gets routed to the wrong ip address, and naturally, no response.

Not being able to ssh into my server is a really bad thing. But how to work around it?

First I tried to set a local hosts file to override the DNS, but that didn’t work. Bummer.

Second, I can ssh if I use the dotted quad IP address. It works, but, I am too old to remember that many dotted quads.

Third, and the one that I am using is to create a cname that points a prefix to the original address (in this case, I am using ssh so ssh.tralfaz.org will point to the TLD, and then I turn off the cloudflare redirect. Not optimal, but it works. It does leave me somewhat vulnerable, but alas, not many attack vectors happen to the subdomains.