Wikileaks publishes DNC emails

Yesterday, Wikileaks published almost 20,000 emails that were purloined from the Democratic National Committee. You may search the emails on this page.

Overnight, evidence was discovered within these emails of

  • a conspiracy within the DNC to hinder presidential candidate Bernie Sanders;
  • a close relationship between DNC and the mainstream media.

Twitter is jumping with revelations from these emails. Apparently Hillary Clinton and the DNC are taking legal action to plug this leak. Of course, it’s too late.

Google reviews must include text

I tell my SEO (Search Engine Optimization) clients that “Five-star Google reviews are like gold”. One client listened and encouraged customers to write reviews . . . which his customers did. Unfortunately, while they scored my client as a five-star vendor, their reviews included no text. None.

These five-star reviews with no text are, as far as I can tell, worthless. Google places them at the end of review lists, and seems to give them no value. They seem to provide no SEO benefit.

Moral: To receive SEO benefit, ensure that your customers include some text when they create a review of your business. A review of three or four sentences is fine.

Copy many large files from phone to SD card

When I replaced my Android phone, I needed to copy files from an old micro SD card to a new micro SD card. I used a Windows 7 computer with the phone (with old SD card) attached to a USB port on the PC and the new SD card attached to another USB port on the same PC.

This large copy operation worked fine except with files larger than 400 megabytes. Windows Explorer’s drag and drop copy function would fail after copying several hundred megabytes. Without warning the new SD card would vanish from Windows’ device inventory and the copy operation would stop.

I wrote an article in 2009 about Windows’ copy problems. The robocopy command line utility seems to fix many of these problems.

I used Windows 7’s ROBOCOPY command line utility with the /XO and /W:5 switches.  This way, even if the robocopy operation fails, it won’t try to copy files that already have been copied. It worked, even when the new SD card would vanish from Windows’ device inventory.  The restarted command would simply resume copying from the point at which the last attempt failed.  Voila!

 

ES File Explorer devolves into junkware

I’ve become fond of — maybe addicted to — ES File Explorer on my Android phones. It allows me to quickly manage folders, files, drive space, etc. I wrote a gushing article about it in early 2014. However, the latest version (v 4.5) is a mess. Apparently the company changed ownership last year, and we now see the new owners’ values. It’s an old story in computer software: the original developer carefully perfects his baby ’til he sells it, then the new (often clueless) owner tries to cash in and ruins the product.

I’ve stored earlier versions of ES File Explorer apk files that you may download and install:

  • Version 3.2.5.5 is a rock solid release of ES File Explorer from early 2015. It’s my favorite version. Its older user interface requires fewer keystrokes than the newer user interface.
  • If you’d like, you can try the newer version 4.05. It has a new user interface, but hasn’t yet devolved to the awful state of version 4.5.

To install either of these apks, you’ll need to go to your device’s Settings / Security screen and temporarily allow installation of applications from unknown sources.

Who and what visits government websites?

Have a look at analytics.usa.gov. You’ll see statistics for the aggregate of most federal government websites: Number of Visits, Top Pages and Domains, Visitor Locations, Top Downloads, Devices, Browsers, and Operating Systems.

Thanks to Steve Gibson of grc.com.

The Quote Investigator

While verifying quotation authenticity, I found a useful — and delightful — website, quoteinvestigator.com, which tries to chase down the origins of quotations.

W._C._Fields_1935 300w
W.C, Fields in 1935

The most recent entry quotes an aging W.C. Fields, when discovered reading a Bible, explaining,

I’m looking for loopholes.

.

Election hacking

A 2016 HBO documentary, Hacking Democracy, discusses voting irregularities and the ease of hacking the results of electronic voting systems:

It introduces Bev Harris, a 52 year old grandmother who stumbled upon evidence of vote tampering. She went on to create Black Box Voting, a nonpartisan investigative reporting and public education organization for elections.

Apparently these Diebold machines employ a Windows NT operating system.  Here’s an excerpt from a Security Analysis of the Diebold AccuVote-TS Voting Machine: “Simply put, many computer scientists doubt that paperless DREs [Direct Recording Electronic voting systems] can be made reliable and secure, and they expect that any failures of such systems would likely go undetected.”

Despite these problems, we believe that it is possible, at reasonable cost, to build a DRE-based voting system—including hardware, software, and election procedures—that is suitably secure and reliable. Such a system would require not only a voting machine designed with more care and attention to security, but also an array of safeguards, including a well-designed voter-verifiable paper audit trail system, random audits and forensic analyses, and truly independent security review.

In this video, Clint Curtis, a Florida-based computer programmer testifies to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee about vote tampering in software:

It’s much easier to audit a paper ballot system. Computers are faster than paper, but, to at least some degree, vulnerable to hacking.

New Samsung SM-G360T phone

My trusty Samsung SGH-T399 phone began to flake out last week. First it insisted that a number of apps needed to be reinstalled, then some apps lost their data. These sound like memory failures. Within a few days, the phone refused to re-start.

samsung galaxy core prime
Samsung SM-G360T

I replaced it with a low-cost Samsung SM-G360T, for $140 from the local T-mobile store. T-mobile calls it a GALAXY CORE Prime™. It’s small (4.5 inch screen), includes LTE, a quad core CPU, 8 GB of memory, 5 megapixel camera, replaceable battery, and a slot for a micro SD card up to 200GB. To keep costs low, Samsung seems to have deleted the magnetic sensor, the automatic screen illumination control, and lighted “back” buttons. I can live without these niceties.

The phone includes Android 5.1.1, which in most respects is an improvement over my old SGH-T399’s Android 4.

I notice on T-Mobile’s website that they’re now discounting this phone for $99. I recommend it, if your needs are similar to mine.  At that price, I may buy a second SM-G360T, as a backup phone.

WordPress adds encryption

letsencrypt-logo-horizontalI notice that this blog now by default provides its content to visitors in encrypted form, using the HTTPS [Hyper Text Transfer Protocol over SSL (Secure Sockets Layer)] protocol. This is great news. I congratulate WordPress.com. They’ve used the new Let’s Encrypt Certificate Authority, which removes the relatively high cost barrier of encrypting websites.

A big “thank you” to both WordPress.com and Let’s Encrypt.

Remove the Windows 10 upgrade popup, updated

If you’re using Windows 7 or 8.1, and you’re sick of being nagged by Microsoft’s pop-up to upgrade to Windows 10, go to the Ultimate Outsider website and download and install their GWX Control Panel. It’s received rave reviews. Cost: gratis. Here’s the full description.

Microsoft Strikes Again – How to NOT Upgrade to Windows 10

 

New and Improved Method

Update, April 3, 2016: Steve Gibson, founder of GRC (Gibson Research Corp), has written a great little freeware utility that also blocks upgrades to Windows 10. Steve writes most of his code in assembler, so his utilities are tiny. He calls this newest utility Never10. He’s created a page dedicated to Never10, where you may download it for free. It’s only 81 kilobyes in size and doesn’t require installation on your Windows PC.  You need just run it once to turn off upgrades to Windows 10, and run it again to allow upgrades to Windows 10. Short and sweet, it’s just what the doctor ordered.

Mark Steyn on multiculturalism

I like Mr. Steyn’s witty observations in this video and his skillful use of language. I agree; multiculturalism is a denial of reality.

Update, in the wake of the bombings in Brussels: In his March 25 2016 article, Mr. Steyn highlights the stupidity of the EU’s suicidal immigration policies (if you can call them that): “Europe would rather destroy itself than retreat from the delusions of multiculturalism.”

Speed is relative

Einstein taught that time and speed are relative to our frame of reference. I experienced this in the swimming pool recently. I’m working hard to swim at less than one yard per second. It feels fast to me.

hof poolThe national swim teams from Hungary and Italy have been training at my local swimming pool. While swimming my (fifty yards in sixty seconds) laps, I looked up to watch several Hungarian swimmers swimming lap after lap, with no pause. One was swimming backstroke 50 yard laps in 14 seconds. That’s more than two yards per second — lap after lap. Gulp. That’s way over twice as fast as I swim freestyle. These guys are flying.

Their coach later explained that these guys are headed to the Olympics and most are under twenty-one years old.

I can’t blame this speed difference on Einstein. These swimmers are young, gifted, and train hard. It just seems like they’re in a different universe.

Garry Kasparov on innovation

I’ve admired retired world chess champion Garry Kasparov for his mastery of the game of chess. Mr. Kasparov broke multiple chess records and met (and lost) a challenge from IBM’s Deep Blue. He’s also an anti-Putin activist, eloquent writer, and thoughtful political analyst.

I thought that Kasparov confined his commentary to the former Soviet Union, but he just published a thoughtful DailyBeast article titled Hey Bernie don’t lecture me about socialism. I lived through it. He’s seen both capitalism and socialism from their insides and I respect his opinion of both. He argues that only capitalism encourages innovation, which enriches everyone.

What happened in Chicago?

When I was a young teenager, listening to shortwave radio broadcasts from many countries taught me that the news that’s presented by what’s now called mainstream media (MSM) is rarely the whole story.

Thanks to Twitter, YouTube, and other Internet based outlets, now we can hear firsthand accounts from eyewitnesses without the MSM filters. Here’s one firsthand report on reddit: What really happened at the Chicago rally

George Martin dies

One of my favorite music makers, George Martin, the producer of most of the Beatles records, has died at age 91. Until Martin — then a recording engineer for Parlophone Records — recorded them, the Beatles were a local Liverpool phenomenon. But for the relentless promotion and grooming by manager Brian Epstein and the tasteful recording direction by George Martin, the Beatles may never have broken out of Liverpool.

The Beatles, and the world, owe George Martin a big ‘Thank You’.

Hillary’s I.T. guy

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Bryan Pagliano, the I.T. specialist who apparently was paid by Hillary Clinton to set up her email server, has been granted immunity from prosecution by the Department of Justice. A lawyer friend tells me that this means that a grand jury is reviewing evidence and that Mr. Pagliano will be testifying as the Department of Justice prosecutes someone. Is that Hillary Clinton? Probably. Maybe others.

imageit seems that the DOJ had a strong case against Mr. Pagliano for multiple counts of conspiracy to violate federal records preservation regulations and the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act), as well as restrictions on “moonlighting” while employed by the State Department. To avoid prosecution, he struck a deal. Now he’s the DOJ’s witness against whomever.

I don’t yet know the details of either Hillary’s private mail server or that of the State Department, but it seems likely that Hillary may have given Mr. Pagliano her login credentials. My guess is that this is a serious violation of State Department regulations.

Reportedly the FBI has two teams of investigators looking into Mrs. Clinton’s private mail server and the Clinton Foundation’s quid pro quo arrangements with Mrs. Clinton while she was Secretary of State. It’s rumored that the FBI will recommend that criminal charges of violating the Espionage Act be brought against her.

In view of the number of disappearances of witnesses in the Clintons’ past, I hope that Mr. Pagliano has a full-time bodyguard. I want to hear his story.

Scam the phone scammers

In this video, listen to the Jolly Roger Telephone robot waste telemarketers’ time.

Do you receive frequent annoying telemarketing calls? Here’s How to send YOUR telemarketers to this robot. It’s designed to keep the telemarketers on line as long as possible, to waste their time.

This clip is just one of many from Jolly Roger Telephone, which is the creation of Roger Anderson. This robot comes close to passing the Turing test. I think that it’s built on an Asterisk phone server (which is Linux-based).

Blondie video: Hanging on the Telephone

Smartphones will track bus movements

Our county’s public transport authority promises that this Spring, county buses will report their real-time locations and estimated times of arrival. Read MyRide Broward – Broward County Transit’s Real Time Program.

By using MyRide to know when the next bus is going to arrive, you can minimize time spent waiting for a bus. You will know when to leave home or the office in order to meet the bus.

In addition to using the dedicated smartphone app, I hope that riders may use universal apps such as moovit to display arrival information.
The system sounds terrific.  According to its vendor,

ISR FleetTrack Passenger Information Software is a flexible system for the creation and broadcasting of transit related content to provide dynamic passenger information at stops, shelters, in-vehicle, terminals and any other point of presence such as:

At work or at home – real-time information via the Internet
On the way to the stop – real-time information via cellular phone
At the stop –real-time information on electronic display and by means of audio announcements
On the bus/in the tram – real-time information on electronic display

The information is transmitted from the ISR FleetTrack Server to the SPM (onboard computer) online via cellular communication, then passed on to the information display. This includes information such as:

Route – entire route path and destination stop is represented, not just the next stop.
Journey times – passenger knows how long his trip is predicted to take.
Transfer advice – informs the passenger of the possibilities for changing to different modes of transport.
Transfer times – indication of the next transfer times for buses, trams and trains simplify the journey for the passenger.

Features Include:

On-Board passenger voice enunciation such as current and next stop
External voice enunciation within bus stop and terminal
On-Board passenger route progression or intersecting routes display
Route and destination display on front and side bus signs
Passenger information displays at bus stops
Multi-Route display of next two bus arrivals

The system is being installed by Integrated Systems Research Corp., a company that’s headquartered in Israel. Their U.S. headquarters is in Baltimore, and they’ve opened an office near Fort Lauderdale. Also, isrfleettrack.com Here’s ISR’s video:

I know nobody within the Broward County Transit Authority, so I’m just guessing based upon what I can find on the web. Apparently this kind of system is called an intelligent transportation systems (ITS). It appears that ISR’s ITS is a complete fleet management system that will include

  • improved bus maintenance scheduling
  • “CAD” (computer aided dispatch)
  • route planning
  • security.automated vehicle location (AVl)
  • real time passenger information (RTIS)
  • automatic passenger counters (APC)
  • automatic voice annunciators (AVA)
  • interactive voice response (IVR) systems

This system — if it works — could be terrific. We’ll see. If it succeeds here and elsewhere, it could help fix our transport mess.

The True Nature of Time

The True Nature of Time video documentary on YouTube, with physicist Michio Kaku:

Another excellent production by BBC. Michio Kaku explains complex ideas in easy to understand terms. (In my opinion, the best video presentation of time and Albert Einstein’s theores of relativity was produced in 1997 by the BBC.)

Do you think that Einstein’s theories of relativity don’t apply to our everyday world? Think again. Our GPS (Global Positioning System) wouldn’t work if it didn’t include compensation for the effects of both Einstein’s Special and General Theories of Relativity. If GPS assumed classical Newtonian models of time and space, our GPS receivers would accumulate about six miles of inaccuracy each day. Einstein’s Relativity and Everyday Life

Video (8 minutes): GPS & Relativity

T-mobile updated my SGH-T399 phone

(Originally published December 9, 2015) Last week,  without warning,  my Samsung SGH-T399 Galaxy Light phone from T-mobile began to download and update its system software to version T399UVUAOH2. Stagefright Detector now reports that my phone is no longer vulnerable to the Stagefright virus.

My phone’s About screen reports that its Android operating system remains at version 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean), but its kernel is now dated August 25, 2015 (Korean standard time).

t-mobile stagefright 480w

  • Tip: If your Android phone is vulnerable to the Stagefright virus, you can reduce (but not eliminate) its vulnerability by, within the Messaging app, turning off the Auto retrieve setting. The Stagefright virus arrives within an SMS (short message service) multimedia message, so if your phone is vulnerable, you do not want to download these messages.

Update, February 27, 2016: T-Mobile again updated my T-399 phone. It still reports Android version 4.2.2, but now reports baseband version T399UVUAPA1 and is dated January 4th, 2016, 20:32, Korean Standard Time. According to T-Mobile’s note that accompanied the update, it improves voice over LTE (VoLTE) and unspecified security features.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

 

 

Mt Everest climbing history

I’ve been interested in mountain climbing since reading Jon Krakauer’s epic Into Thin Air tale of the disastrous 1996 Mt. Everest climbs. It’s what got me hiking. This well-done video documentary on YouTube contains footage of Mt. Everest expeditions from 1921 (with George Mallory, dressed in sport coat! ) through 1996 (Rob Hall, Scott Fischer, et al, R.I.P.):

Despite all the mod cons used by today’s climbers, Mt. Everest still kills. (It has killed many, but Pakistan’s K2 is the deadliest Himalayan peak.)

The Victorians wired the world

Before the telephone, there was the telegraph. For the first time in history, messages could travel faster than a galloping horse and eventually they would cross continents and oceans. The information age began with the telegraph.

Here’s an excellent 1998 book with a similar theme: The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century’s On-line Pioneers

Run computers. Don't let them run you.

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