From Pine View Farm

Geek Stuff category archive

Facebook Frolics 0

Delusions of grandeur frolics.

There’s a reason I seldom log into Facebook. (When I do, it’s because that, if you want to do reach-out, you must reach out to where the people are).

Facebook as a company–remember, it’s company that desires profit, not a community–is a vortex of [de/il]lusion.

Even as it preys on its users, Facebook pretends that it is a community.

It’s not.

It’s a milking-machine for profit. It’s a really well-designed milking-machine, but a milking-machine that is suckling on your anatomy none the less.

Do not fool yourself into thinking otherwise.

Adventures in Malware 0

I suspect the mope is having second thoughts right about now.

After a three-day trial this week, Mittesh Das, 48, of Atlanta, Georgia, was found guilty by a jury in North Carolina of knowingly transmitting malicious code with the intent of causing damage to an Army computer used in furtherance of national security.

Specifically, Das deliberately introduced malware – seemingly designed to delete files and knacker services – into the US Army Reserve payroll systems after his employers lost the contract to provide the technology. The military estimates it cost $2.6m to fix the damage.

Gaming the Google 0

That seldom works out well.

Geeking Out 0

The Enlightenment v. 21 desktop environment* on Mageia 6.


*Some contend that E is a window manager. They’re wrong for this reason: Enlightenment configuration is managed using GUI tools, not text configuration files. That lifts it out of the “window manager” category.

Meta: Maintenance 0

My hosting provider has notified me that it will be doing maintenance on my VPS (and, I suspect, numerous other VPSs) starting this evening. The site may be unavailable for short periods over the next 24 hours.

Stray Question 0

Who is Google anyway to presume to tell me what items in my Gmail inbox are “important” and which are not?

Read more »

Facebook Frolics 0

The trolls come out to frolic.

Geeking Out 0

Slackware 14.2 with the Window Maker window manager.

Window Maker

Click for a larger image.

Window Maker is the one major *nix window manager I haven’t played with, other than the tiling window managers, which are not to my taste. I’ve used Blackbox (there once was a Blackbox for Windows but the maintainer’s site got hacked and he abandoned the project, but it was a pleasure to use); IceWM; Fluxbox (my favorite window manager); and even TWM, the oldest (some would say “most primitive”) of all.

Window Maker is much more versatile and configurable than I expected. It’s been around for a long time and is still actively supported.

I expect to have fun playing with it.


Window managers are unknown on Apple and Windows; their default interfaces are “desktop environments.” If the terms puzzle you, this may help.

Geeking Out 0

Slackware 14.2 with the old FVWM desktop environment. Fifteen years ago, FVWM was in vogue because it could be used to make a Linux distro look (sort of) like Windows 95. I’m running Slackware –Current on this here computer, but I have 14.2 in a VirtualBox virtual machine because I’m considering taking another shot at LFS.

Several years ago, I used FVWM for a while on Debian just for fun, but KDE or Enlightenment it’s not.

FVWM is still around and still supported, but not very popular any more.

Slackware with FVWM


I’m using KDE on all three of my computers right now. One is running Magiea, one is running Debian, and one is running Slackware. (I’m a Slacker at heart–Slackware always works and never breaks.)

I guess I’m just a KDE kind of guy.

Make TWUUG Your LUG–Special Pizza Event 0

Learn about the wonderful world of free and open source. Use computers to do what you want, not what someone else wants you to do. Learn how to use GNU/Linux and its plethora of free and open source software to get stuff done with computers.

It’s not hard; it’s just different.

Tidewater Unix Users Group

When: Monthly TWUUG meeting at 7:30 p. m. on the first Thursday of the month (September 7, 2017).

There will be no pre-meeting dinner. Free pizza and soft drinks will be supplied for this meeting.

Who: Everyone in TideWater/Hampton Roads with interest in any/all flavors of Unix/Linux. There are no dues or signup requirements. All are welcome.

Where: Lake Taylor Transitional Care Hospital in Norfolk Training Room (map). (Wireless and wired internet connection available.) Turn right upon entering, then left at the last corridor and look for the open meeting room.

The Power of Google, Reprise 0

Several days ago, I noted Josh Marshall’s musings on Google’s dominance of the Inner Webs and his concern that, with great power comes great temptation to abuse that power.

For example.

Have Cake, Eat It Too, Bitcoin Dept. 0

If it acts like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, and persons treat it like they treat ducks, why, then, clearly it must be a mongoose.

The Power of Google 0

Josh Marshall has a long and thoughtful piece on the power of Google (and, by extension, other concentrators of influence). The piece was prompted by allegations of Google’s bullying a website the views of which Google found distasteful (no, it wasn’t one of those websites that have been so much in the news lately). Rather, it seems from the context of Marshall’s remarks, which are all I know of the situation at this point (links are in the post) to be a website that questioned the concentration of power in the hands of corporations, including digital outfits such as Google.

I have always found Josh Marshall to be a careful and deliberate thinker and commend the post to your attention. Here’s a bit:

But what is more interesting to me than the instances of bullying are the more workaday and seemingly benign mechanisms of Google’s power. If you have extreme power, when things get dicey, you will tend to abuse that power. It’s not surprising. It’s human nature. What’s interesting and important is the nature of the power itself and what undergirds it. Don’t get me wrong. The abuses are very important. But extreme concentrations of power will almost always be abused. The temptations are too great. But what is the nature of the power itself?

Facebook Frolics 0

Ersatz frolics.

Manage Your Android with AirDroid 0

I have a new podcast up at Hacker Public Radio, this time about AirDroid, an Android application for managing your smartphone from your computer.

Files on phone as viewed in the Konqueror file manager via AirDroid.

“. . . and All the Ships at Sea” 0

Badtux has two posts up about the collision between a USN destroyer and an oil tanker near Singapore.

One addresses the undermanning of Navy ships, a legacy of President George the Worst; the other argues persuasively against the theory that, in some way, the guidance system of one of the ships was hacked. I commend them both to your attention.

Cloudflareup (Updated) 0

Cloudfare pulls its services from the Neo-Nazi website, The Daily Stormer, even as the Cloudfare CEO expresses qualms about his power to do so. A snippet:

“The Daily Stormer site was bragging on their bulletin boards about how Cloudflare was one of them and that is the opposite of everything we believe,” (Cloudflare CEO Matthew–ed.) Prince said. “That was the tipping point for me.”

Still, Prince said he was not comfortable with the way he exercised his power, describing his choice to withdraw services from the Daily Stormer as arbitrary.

“It was a decision I could make because I’m the CEO of a major internet infrastructure company,” he said. “Having made that decision we now need to talk about why it is so dangerous. No one should have that power.”

Follow the link for more details and for the rest of Prince’s quite thoughtful musings on his own action.

This action makes The Daily Stormer vulnerable to DDoS attacks, which can knock it off the internet. (There is nothing particularly sophisticated about DDoS attacks; they work by overwhelming a site with so many hits that the site eventually becomes unable to respond. In other words, they knock on so many doors so rapidly that the website can’t answer them all and runs away to hide under the bed.)

Addendum, the Next Morning:

In a larger article about the pushback against America’s Neo-Nazis, TPM reports that The Daily Stormer has moved to the Dark Web because it can’t find a hosting provider.

Addendum, Later That Day:

There are other reports that The Daily Stormer now has a dot-ru (for Russia) domain. I have been unable to verify this, and I’m damned sure not exploring the Dark Web.

Read more »

“Error Creating a Database Connection” (Updated) 0

I got the dreaded above-named error tonight. Fortunately, a quick trip to phpMyAdmin at my hosting provider to do a check, repair, and optimize fixed it and all is back to what passes for normal.


I use GoDaddy. Their tech support is superb, and I say that as someone who wore a headset for six years.

Addendum, the Next Morning:

This morning I got a MySQL socket error. I ended up rebooting the VPS and everything seems to be working again. If you notice any wackiness, please drop me a note via the email link over there on the sidebar. —————->

The Bickersons Go Electronic 0

El Reg reports:

A fella in the US is suing his ex?wife, alleging she broke federal wiretapping and privacy laws by snooping on his email during their divorce.

The case, just kicked off in an Illinois district court after six years of wrangling, pits Barry Epstein against his former spouse of 46 years, Paula Epstein, who filed for divorce in 2011. During their separation, Paula obtained, read and used his emails as leverage to get a favorable settlement, it is claimed.

Frankly, I don’t see how the “wiretapping” allegations can hold water between a married couple, even if they were in the midst of a divorce, but I do find it disturbing if, as clained, she shared communications between her husband and his lawyer with her own lawyer. I find even more disturbing that her lawyer didn’t tell her to stop.

Then, again, she may have done none of these things. It may just be the husband flailing about. Lots of flailing goes on during bitter divorces.

More at the link. Learn about and listen to the Bickersons. (Audio is in RealPlayer format.)

Always Wrong 0

Google seems to think it is competent to decide which of the Gmail emails I receive are “important.”

Experience indicates otherwise.