Today’s Thoughts . . . Sept. 29, 2013

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As most of you know by now, EPautos got badly hacked the other day. Dom spent the better part of Saturday recovering data, fixing corrupted files and getting us back up. This was the second time in a month we’ve been hacked.hacked pic

Without Dom, EPautos would be dea-uhd.

Which prompted this question from one of the regulars here:

“Dom, how much does it cost to have one of those monitoring services do the grunt work to protect the site from attacks?”

We are looking into this.

The problem, of course, is that there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. It will no doubt cost us something – we hope not too much – to have automatic/full-time monitoring. We’re also going to be doing back-ups of the entire site much more often – as a “just in case.”

We’re trying to balance everything, post-Google.

So far, we have acquired one new advertiser – the precious metal dealer on the top right of the main page. We’d very much like to get some additional advertisers – so if you know anyone at a business that might be interested, please let them know and have them get in touch with us.

Meanwhile, we’re still dependent on reader support. Please pass the word on that, too.

Throw us a few bucks, if you can – if you like what goes on here.

Here’s the link to our donate button.

Remember: Clover’s got unlimited time – and resources.

We, unfortunately, do not!

Thanks!

-Eric

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65 COMMENTS

  1. Is anyone else still unable to log on? My user name still comes up as invalid, and I can’t find anything on the site that would allow me to re-register. Not complaining, just asking. I understand that the hacker caused serious problems and that you guys have gone above and beyond in patching things up.

      • Thanks, Ed, but I can’t find anything on the site to allow me to re-register. Probably overlooking something simple, cuz that’s the kinda guy I am. lol

        • Mike, I realized after I responded that I missed the whole part of your not seeing the way to register. In the upper left, where you see the login line, I tried a login and got the message of an invalid user name. The registration link was contained in that message, If I remember correctly.

          • Thanks again, Ed. I don’t get that choice: when I try to log in, the message says that my user name is invalid, but the only choice given is to click “Ok”. It must have something to do with my computer settings. I’ve cleared the cache, deleted history, cleared active log-ins, and deleted the saved password for this site. Must be overlooking something.

      • Hi Ed (and everyone else) –

        Yup, thanks to the hack of last weekend, everyone who was previously registered must re-register. The hacker ate the file!

        Sorry for the hassles… just imagine what Dom has been dealing with!

  2. Plot Summary for
    Little House: The Last Farewell (1984)

    In the series finale, the town of Walnut Grove is revealed to have been built on land owned by a railroad tycoon. It’s 1901, and the citizens of Walnut Grove learn that land swindlers are now about to take over the town. Not being able to fight it, Hero Township decides that while the swindlers can have the town, they can’t have what is on it. The citizens blow up the town.

    The land baron has by various means acquired the rights to the Mesabi iron range in Minnesota. He has most of the land he wants, but there are several towns in the area. His solution is to send his hireling to the towns to scope them out, then go there himself and claim all rights to the land underneath the towns. The towns can continue, but everybody in them will now work for him.

    The land grabber waits for church to spring his surprise. Great consternation ensues as the land grabber shows he owns every square inch of dirt under Walnut Grove and will evict everyone who doesn’t go to work for him). He even has a U.S. Army regiment to back him up, using the same sort of logic that was used in various Government grabs of Indian territory. The townspeople back down – but Laura, who has done very little up to this point, expresses her frustration by smashing all the windows of her house so the land grabber can’t get to them. This gives another town resident, who already works for the iron mines, an idea – the land grabber can have the land under Walnut Grove, but he won’t have one useful stick of the city.

    In ritualized settings of dynamite (starting with the Wilder mansion) the entire town goes kaboom one building at a time. The Army colonel grins as he tells the land grabber the self-destruction was perfectly legal, and residents of other towns who have been invited to watch the hostile takeover prepare to fight in similar fashion. The land grabber leaves with his tail between his legs, and the townspeople go off to start new lives elsewhere.

    LHOP – The Last Farewell
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6-7p8QD13k

  3. The Drudge claim can’t be too far from the truth. My brothers house had a water heater in the attic that had a leak and caused approx 75K in damages. He opened an account for the house repairs with a insurance company check. Paid the contractor 10K to start the job and in 2 weeks another 10K. Approx a week later wrote a check for 11K and then got a call from a bank representative. The conversation was quite short. The FBI has noticed suspicious activity in your account and they want to talk to you. After providing the supporting documents, his account was un-frozen.
    I would say the claim may have some validity.

    • @Curtis – That gold and silver thing is making more sense all the time. It ain’t yours unless we say it is. If you bitch we will just mouse-click and take it. Get back into the pen and shut-up you cow.

      The California Franchise Tax Board has done that to me twice, and I never owed them a dime either time. I had to spend 1/2 a day at the courthouse & pay for certified copies of their own State leins and levies that they filed using a mouse and keyboard, but denied existed. “We didn’t do it” was the response. Only after I sent certified copies of the court documents to them would they release the leins. No appologies or names of those responsible. The stanglehold is now worse than East Germany was.

        • @DS – Everything you own is in digital form with government and banking. They have access to all of it at their whim. Exactly like a stolen bank debit card, or identity theft, they can take it all and there is no one to call. No court or due process needed. I learned the hard way.

          • No doubt about that, Garysco.

            [Edit out what I’d do.]

            I once saw an episode of The Little House on the Prairie, the last one, where the towns people blew up the town on their way out rather than allow the bastards to have it.

            I thought that was cool.

            “This message has been intercepted by the NSA: the only branch of government that listens.”

  4. My two cents worth: If this siteware is so easy to hack and disrupt, why not dump it altogether? The way the comments nest and the long scripts that run in order to include each link, page button and video imbed are real conversation killers.

    You have to subscribe to email alerts for a discussion or you’ll miss comments directed at you, unless you scroll up and down looking for areas within the nested comments, because the little “what’s happening” block only holds the latest 5 comments.

    This is the only discussion site I use that hangs me up for several minutes at a time just looking for new comments to read. I was thinking that maybe my browser isn’t sufficiently fast or my computer needs more RAM, but then it occurred to me that the problem only exists here. Even on the EPAutos forum, which I assume is hosted on the same server, there’s not a single problem with loading time or looking through threads.

    As the Christopher character on “The Sopranos” might have said: “Maybe you should prepare yourself for the possibility that WP sucks”. I’d take it a little further and say that WP definitely sucks out loud for a fat man’s ass.

    • Hi Ed,

      We’re looking at various options to fix the issues you’ve raised. The Forum is definitely more user-friendly as regards comments/threads, but it has its downsides, too. The site has been much more successful – in terms of reaching a wider audience – since we went over to the WP format. With VBulletin, it was for years a handful of “regulars” – and not much headway made.

      Now, we’ve got upwards of 100,000 people coming here every month – which brings with it a new set of problems (such as the site being hacked).

      But, I’d rather deal with those problems than the problem of being an Internet backwater.

      Clover and his crew are attacking us precisely because we’ve become a threat to their kind.

      People are waking up.

      It’s now a horse race between sites like this … and them.

      • “The Forum is definitely more user-friendly as regards comments/threads, but it has its downsides, too. ”

        As it stands, the forum doesn’t even count. There’s so little activity there that it’s dead for all intents and purposes. Oh, well. Whatever.

          • “The thing we’re trying to do now is make the comments threads here easier to use.”

            No offense, but that’s just polishing the turd intead of flushing it. Saying that the web traffic has grown since the WP siteware was installed is probably confusing correlation with causation. I can’t see how using the siteware increased web traffic, unless the use of the siteware entitled users to massive promotion on other sites.

            Providing a link to a commentary forum at the end of each article such as , “To comment, join the discussion here” could work. It would also stop a lot of the shills and drive-by shit talkers who currently have such easy access to the discussions.

            • None taken!

              One problem (of many) with the Forum is it looks like scheisse. Very limited in terms of photos/video. Just a wall of text. Which works for a small community of already like-minded people who just want to talk to one another. As for example, a community dedicated to four-wheelers or some other thing.

              But – in our experience – it just doesn’t work insofar as attracting a broader audience.

              We played with it for years; never got more than a handful of regulars coming.

              Now, we average close to (and sometimes more than ) 100,000 visits a month.

              Granted, correlation isn’t causation.

              But having a site that looks nice – like a professional product, an online magazine, with photos and videos, etc. – is probably essential in this age.

              We have in many ways the best of both worlds. We have intelligent commentary – and imagery. These days, people tend to want both.

              Just text is a turn-off for the under 40 crowd.

              In any event, we are working the problem.

    • The “What’s Happening” recent comments is the biggest killer for page load speed on this site. I love the forum layout and usability. We tried it for YEARS and nobody would use the damn thing.

      P.S. Drop in backups are now enabled.

          • @Dom – As Capt. Kirk said “Where’s my dedicated mirrored servers? More power Scottie!” 🙂
            Just musing, but a quick look at forum topic activity and the ability to switch back and forth is something I would do. Both sides have value, and maybe we could be trained to do more of the rambling conversations on the forum side.

          • @Dom – Sorry Dom. Been reading too much of Neil Stephenson’s Snow Crash and The Diamond Age lately. I Must force myself to come back to 2013. 🙂

          • Ha, you’re being narrow in scope. I was thinking earth and moon. S’all good. I need to start spending more time on site usability

      • The way this cite is usable for discussion is to log in and use the comment icon in the top bar. Can’t follow it otherwise. I’d toss the “What’s Happening?” in the woods if it causes that much trouble. 🙂

        I don’t know why all blog and forum software is so bad for discussion. The pre-web internet perfected this with usenet and the newsreaders for it. How hard could it be to copy slrn or something?

          • @DS – Oops, there goes the house and bank accounts. Got to make those co-pays to the IRS. Of course when your jobless and homeless it will be a fairly good health system. Unless the death pannel says no.

            My plan is to brown bag it and camp out at the emergency room door. What’s yours?

          • @Garysco, Plan? The Plan Is: to wing it.
            …And stop aging.
            How do you turn this aging thing off?

            – skip –

            Really dom? You think it’s not true, or are you just saying that?

          • It’s an infowars story based on the facebook post of some guy.

            While I don’t doubt government sends out threatening messages, I have trouble with this story for what should be obvious reasons.

          • @5to1 Yeah I’m just saying that. Like I tell Eric almost everyday, “I’m not surprised.” Nothing surprises me anymore. 75% or better of the population in America are completely connected to the system clovers. There is no fighting it. We are outnumbered and there is nothing we can do but watch it all play out. No matter how smart or good an idea is it makes no difference. Logic, reason, right, wrong, morals, good, bad, none of that is even a factor in the equation. There is no reasoning with pure evil. I am not a religious person by any stretch of the imagination, but I do know we’re headed for hell on earth. Not a fucking thing we can do!

            I mean, but other than that I’m pretty optimistic.

          • That was well put, dom.
            And funny too.

            I get where BrentP is coming from, but at the same time, I no longer give the gooberment the benefit of the doubt.

            Where’s that leave us?
            Only time will tell?

            Yeesh, like dom mentioned awhile back, I’m having a hard enough time trying not to think too much about how life will be when all the sewers in the city stop working.
            I’m in the city.

          • @Dom – @Dom – Ayn Rand said many times not to argue with those who won’t use logic or reason. Her advice was to basically ignore and drive around them. And that was 40 years before Idiocracy really set in.

            • At the gym, the TeeVeee is constantly on and one cannot help hear the jabbering between Team Red and Team Blue over Obamacare. Not once did any commentator ever even hint at broaching the white-hot topic whether the “health care” of Jones is the rightful business of Smith. Just blather about from Team Red and Team Blue overt which “plan” of theirs will best “reduce costs” and “improve access.”

              What about reducing costs by leaving people free to say no?

              That’s verboten.

          • @Garysco, @everybody – but how do you ignore and drive around The Blob?

            I mean, it’s one thing when it’s small, it’s quite another when it’s larger than that big mushroom in Wisconsin.

          • RE: “@DS – I was hoping you knew how.”

            Well, if one can’t avoid it. Build up speed and drive right through the center.

            That’d be my best guess.

            Either that, or duck and cover.

            Both ways gets you slime’d though, so wear a heavy duty jacket.

            In the meantime I guess I’ll do the best I can to ignore it.

            [Ignore The Blob? Yeah, right!]

            At the very least, I’ll withdraw my consent.

          • @Eric – No discussion because the elephant in the room is that it has noting to do with healthcare. That is what doctors do, not governments. Hillary Clinton and her secret cabal tried to backroom Obamacare in the 90’s, including jailing doctors who would dare take cash for their services. She got her political ass kicked back then.

            Obama man’s first mandate was to get this passed, so he did, before anyone could read it. It had been sitting on the shelf since the 90’s ready to go. There will be no “healthcare” unless you live in a shopping cart or your car. It is a takeover and control of the 1/7’th of the economy, a money grab for the fascists. That is why the IRS is the enforcer. All else we have been to is pure lies.

        • To be perfectly blunt?
          It’s FUCKING JAVASCRIPT and “Web 2.0!!!” and all the SHIT that goes with that.

          I keep trying to get the crap off my sites (Work stuff). No one listens. But, get a real expert – there are alternatives, though they might be “obsolete.” Usually “obsolete” means it worked, but wasn’t flashy enough.
          iFrames were a good advancement, had their issues; frames are good, too. Depends on rewriting the whole site using code you might need to write out yourself, instead of the cookie-cutter garbage these blogs provide….

          No offense, Dom – Hope you don’t misunderstand.
          Load the page in YSlow in Firefox, or use Dynatrace AJAX for both IE and Firefox. Not sure about Chrome, but it has its own YSlow add-on. (I’d guess you know all this, but other people won’t. 😉 )
          Helps diagnose root causes sometimes; Fiddler might help, too, if it’s server-side.

          Fun stuff. Might not allow you to fix it, either, which really sucks. Developers aren’t all they think they are. 😛

          • No offense taken. It might be time to really consider a custom CMS. This cookie cutter crap is fucking garbage. It’s a damn resource hog for no good reason. I really like vBulletin and there is an addon CMS for it I’ll check out.

        • “The way this cite is usable for discussion is to log in and use the comment icon in the top bar.”

          Yep, that’s about the only way to view a longer string of recent comments. I’m still stuck with long delays in page loading and with the problem with nesting that takes away the reply button. The siteware really kind of sucks.

  5. I advise performing your own backups (FTP & PHPMyAdmin – just about every hosting package gives you these tools, or the equivalent). It’s so easy you could pay your kids to do it or even automate it.

  6. If you ever find the bastard who hacked you, I’d be glad to string him up, the coward.

    On a side note, took the bike out for a “stroll” last night. About 1400 metres from home I decided to open it up. Been a while since I felt the sting of a fistful of throttle.

    Naturally, the moment ya do such things there’s a bluey in the vicinity and our eyes locked on each other. I was already cooked, but with me always doing about 50 calculations a second, I wondered how long it would take me to get back on private property.

    I’m not even sure if the cop bothered to chase, but some 15 seconds later, most of it spent on braking for an intersection, it was over. I had a blast and no knock on the door. Bet they’ll be scanning for me now. They don’t take kindly to 250 k’s on a main street.

    At least I have the law of probability on my side. It could have been me or not. I’m innocent until proven guilty and, I don’t have to prove anything. I’m now contemplating the cost of a rear tyre of all things.

    But FECK it was fun 🙂

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