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goobster  ·  12 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The Internet was a mistake

I think this video misses the key point. (Like all of the pithy web video stuff produced by people who weren't there when it happened, pontificating on What Went Wrong.)

Here it is in a nutshell: AOL is to blame.

Back in the day of the early web, there were isolated islands of network interaction, that didn't really cross over very much. BBS. Fido. Gopher. AOL. WWW. Telnet. Archie. eWorld. The WeLL.

Each of these interactive tools were synonymous with the communities that used them. You used the Fido tool to log in to FidoNET. You used Gopher to find Gopher servers and transfer files and mail. AOL, eWorld, and The WeLL were servers you logged in to, and participated with those communities in those spaces.

The World Wide Web broke this model, and HTTP-based sites were now able to share files and data between the different tools and servers. You could write an HTTP front end to your FidoNET server, and people could use NCSA Mosaic to log in to your FidoNET, and see/transfer files in a visual tool, rather than command-line only.

Everyone using the World Wide Web had their own site.

Every single person was a CREATOR of some sort.

Maybe it was a list of porn sites. Maybe it was a list of parts for old BMW airhead motorcycles. Maybe it was ASCII art pictures.

Whatever it was, the same tool you used to browse other sites, was the tool you used to create your own site.

And, by default, everyone's Bookmarks List was public. That's how you found stuff. You went to someone's site, clicked on their Links page, and saw what sites they had links to. Click, click, click... rabbit hole!

Along came AOL.

America Online was originally just email. But they also created a custom, curated environment, where people could get movie listings, read news, and send messages to each other.

They business model was to charge by the hour, for the connection to AOL's servers. So they wanted you to stay logged in, and clicking around their properties, so they got to charge you for the access.

After much debate, AOL opened up their "walled garden", and allowed their users to VIEW and BROWSE the world wide web.

The change happened almost overnight.

People (like myself) had their own web servers running. Mine was on an old Mac SE I had in the corner of my bedroom, with a dedicated modem and phone line.

Suddenly, my $15/month phone bill for that line, and service, shot up to more than $50/month.

Other people, who had been serving their web sites for years, were suddenly hit with thousands of dollars in service fees from their ISP due to huge traffic spikes.

ALL of this activity was from the AOL people, who were not CREATING anything. They saw the internet as TV, and just consumed, consumed, consumed all of our paid-for content, for free.

Sure, AOL subscribers paid their AOL access fee, but AOL paid us web sites ZILCH, and we were forced to shut down, or monetize our sites to pay for the bandwidth AOL's looky-lous were consuming.

This is where the utility of the web ended.

Now, you needed to monetize your site. You had to measure "views", and run ads, and give up space on your site where CONTENT used to be, and serve flashing GIFs that advertisers paid you a fraction-of-a-cent per click.

Once that happened, the altruistic, creative, and generous nature of the web was destroyed. If you offered quality content for free, you were on the hook for enormous ISP hosting bills. If you monetized your site, you were in a constant war with your users that still continues today.

AOL fucked it by inviting "spectators" to simply look, without participating.

AOL turned the internet into TV.

goobster  ·  128 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: April 11, 2018

We all have doubts about ourselves. If we didn't we'd all be dicks like Trump.

Doubt isn't a bad thing in and of itself. But it shouldn't hang around. Don't feed it.

Look it in the eye, evaluate it with a clear head, learn what you can from it, and then discard it. Doubt is a reminder to look inward from time to time, and make sure you are who you think you are.

Doubt is a fortune cookie fortune: Interesting in the moment, but useless in the long run.

(And by the by... the "sad panda" visual that appeared in my head almost made me spit out my coffee, it was so funny! Thank you for that!)

goobster  ·  186 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: February 14, 2018

Hey Pubs. Just a water for me, barkeep... I'm still not remembering to drink enough water every day.

Keto.

I can deny it no longer... I have actually lost more than 20 pounds now. That means that - for the first time in my life - I weigh less than I did before.

From a skinny 175lbs in 1987, to 269lbs at Christmas 2017, I have always gotten heavier. Amortized over time, that's only about 3lbs/year, but of course the weight did not gracefully grow over time. It grew rapidly, then leveled out for a few years at the "new normal" weight, until something happened and it went up again.

For the first time in my life, my weight is going the other direction.

I had to put several pairs of pants into storage. (Note: I wanted to get rid of them. But my wife insisted we keep them until we know whether I am going to keep the weight off or not.)

I am maybe 2 months away from departing the land of XL, and purchasing L shirts... for the first time since the 1990's.

I feel better.

I don't "crash" at 2:PM every day.

I no longer eat two antacid tablets every night.

I don't fart prolifically anymore.

My diet has changed significantly, and I now strongly identify with Michael Pollan's quip, "Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much."

I haven't started working out or stretching regularly. Which I planned to do Feb 1. Not sure why I haven't started, but I need to get on that.

The road to "Fit and 50" is looking pretty good right now.

Food Perspective.

Mushroom hunters talk about "putting on their mushroom eyes" when they go mushroom hunting.

You go out to where the mushrooms should be, and you see nothing. Damn. Wrong place? Was someone already here? Am I at the wrong elevation?

Then they just go calm and stop moving for a few minutes. Scan the landscape. Be still.

POP! Oh! There's one! ... and another!... oh! there's another one!... woah... they are EVERYWHERE! Holy crap I am STANDING IN THE MIDDLE OF SO MANY MUSHROOMS!!

With my new diet, which generally avoids most carbs and sugars, I have my "Carb Eyes" on.

Vending machine? Nothing in there edible.

Coffee shop? Nothing in there either, except black drip coffee, espresso shot, or an almond-milk latte.

Restaurant? Side dishes start to look REALLY tasty... and main courses look heavy and unpleasant. "Can I just get these two sides, and a steak?"

And now, I will post this message, and walk out into the lobby where my company is providing everyone with ... Valentine's Cupcakes. And I am going to enjoy the shit out one of those carbo-sugar bombs.

Because carbo-sugar bombs are AMAZING treats.

But that's what they should be: Treats. Not Food.

goobster  ·  494 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: rd95's poorly written, crummy career advice

There's some good solid advice in there. And I think I can add something valuable to what you said: Perspective.

You don't hear people 30-plus years old asking this question. Because they realize it isn't the right question to ask. By the time you are in your 30's, pretty much nobody you know will be working in the field/job that is written on their college degree.

Life is a river. You start off trying to build a dam, and make the river conform to your view of what it should look like. But water is consistent, persistent, strong, and devious. Your every effort to make life conform to your view will fail, and eventually you will get swept downstream.

Some people try to stop. They bash into rocks. They grasp at low-hanging branches and try to stop the water from dragging them further downstream.

Other people go "woohoo! whitewater rafting!!" and look downstream and try to pick a line that looks like the most fun.

These are the people who inspire you. They are the people enjoying life, and who seem to have amazing opportunities drop in their lap.

Schooling, clubs, hobbies, and interests are what you build your boat out of.

Then you get thrown into the water and head downstream.

What skills do you have? Do you communicate well with other people? Do you like to learn? Do you keep your word? Are you an enjoyable person to be around?

Then your boat will float, and you will find the journey enjoyable. The more flexible and amenable you are to life and it's ever-changing dynamics, the more opportunities that will be presented to you, and the more chances you will have to find something that you truly enjoy.

The less flexible, personable, pleasant you are, the less opportunities will come up. Because you are narrowly skilled, and unpleasant to be around, and therefore fit into only a small portion of the available roles out there in the world.

From where I'm sitting, just short of 50 years old, I can tell you that the river widens, slows, and empties into a big placid lake, where you can kinda paddle wherever you want. If you built a good boat.

I don't even recall all the jobs I have had, the places I have worked, the people I have fallen in and out of love with... all that is back there, up the hill, in the rapids on that river somewhere.

Looking back up that river, I can see the path I took now, but it was not apparent to me at the time. I was simply presented with interesting opportunities because I had a wide range of skills, I was funny, and people liked talking to me. They liked having me around, so they would overlook any technical/skills limitations, and just said, "Eh. You'll learn it on the job. It isn't hard."

This is, of course, my advice based on my experience.

Like RD95 says, life isn't lived in a house you built in college; it is a long series of building projects that you live within while building. Some rooms you may never visit again. Some you may crack the door open 30 years later and find a new passion for, and others you may visit every single day.

The only constant is change. Either find a way to embrace that, or live frustrated for the rest of your life.

goobster  ·  568 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: 0 of 38 members of the Texas congressional delegation support the border wall

Oh, there's no question it won't get built. For 3 reasons:

1. It's impossible. The reason there is not a contiguous wall now, is because the terrain does not allow a contiguous wall to be built. Something like 900 miles of that border is simply the Rio Grande River. Rivers move. Walls don't. So if you build the wall far inland inside of America (thereby walling off any American access to the Rio Grande itself, bythefuckingway), to try and put the wall far enough away from the river that the river doesn't eventually wash up against the wall and undermine it and make it fall over.

2. It will make the US smaller. You can't build the wall in Mexico, because you don't own Mexico. But there are thousands of American's property who bump up against the border. Now you need to pay every one of those people to take their land (and build a 50-foot wall on the south side, which will block the sun and cause your lawn to die), or even better, seize their land using Eminent Domain! Now, I don't know how well you know Texans, but they ain't gonna take kindly to the U.S. Government coming in a seizing their land and building a big fucking wall (that they don't want) on it. That ain't going to go well for anybody.

3. It's a bogeyman. The "problem" the wall "fixes" is apparently "illegal immigration". Thing is, for the last fifty years, illegal immigration has been going down, and in the last 8 years - due to Obama's truly nasty treatment of immigrants - there is a net outflow of illegal immigrants from America. We LOSE more illegals every year - by their own choice, not through deportations - than we gain.

80% of illegal immigrants arrive in America by fucking airplane, anyway! I don't care how tall or "yuge" your wall is... it ain't stopping airplanes.

A wall can't do anything about the thousands of tunnels that bring people and drugs UNDER the border into America. And this happens in places where we HAVE a well-defended wall, and Border Guards! Build a 50-foot wall in the boonies, and you will find 51-foot ladders. (There's a great Border Guard podcast that talks about when the current wall was raised from 13 to 20 feet. They collected so many 21-foot ladders they ran out of ROOM at the border guard's dispatching offices.)

Not to mention that every single agricultural business from Arizona to Ohio is going to have a fucking conniption when they can't get enough seasonal workers to pick their harvest before shit goes bad. Because I guarantee you that perky little cheerleader Madison and high school track star Curt, aren't going to pick cabbages for $20/day.

No, in short, the wall will never be built. Because at some point, some business has to place a bid for the project (or their part of it). Their engineers will go out there, look at the terrain, design something that will kinda hold up under most conditions (see: New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina to see how well THAT works out) and the numbers don't balance.

Illegal immigration MAKES the US an enormous amount of money. Cutting off that flow of money will affect big business, and those people will go knocking on the Oval Office door, and have some very nasty words to say to Tinyhands McDickpunch.

The economy is the American God. If you fuck with the economy, you go down. Period.

goobster  ·  592 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: January 4, 2017

I read through the whole thread, and all of your responses, and I see one thing that has not been mentioned: Agency.

You had no agency in "cheeks" asking if the man with you was your dad.

You have no agency in the actions your brother is taking on your behalf.

Rest assured, Cheeks will lose his job. I have friends who are in both Management and Training at Goodwill, and one strike is enough to put you on the black list. They aren't hiring the cream of the crop at Goodwill. They are giving people an opportunity to pull themselves out of whatever hole they are in, by providing free job training, counseling, and other services people need to get back on their feet. So they have a very quick fuse. If you cause any sort of problem, you are out. There is always another person waiting behind you for the opportunity, and Goodwill needs to get people through the system and trained so they become productive employees, as opposed to unproductive trainees.

This man will now lose access to that opportunity permanently, because there was a claim made against him.

Goodwill will do the right thing and talk to your brother about the experience, and will do most of this verbally instead of in a written format, because it is a discovery process.

However all of these actions and activities are being taken on your behalf, because your brother has robbed you of your agency in this situation.

You chose to simply ignore Cheek's request. That was you taking the action you felt was appropriate to the situation.

I have no horse in this race, or have a position to defend in this situation. I'm just stating the facts in a way that might encourage you to take an active role - to regain your agency - in this situation.

I equate your brother taking action on your behalf as equally as demeaning to you as Cheeks' initial comment hitting on you. These are two men who have acted in their own interest, with you as the fulcrum.

Personally, I would not be happy in that place. I would feel used. That's my $0.02.

goobster  ·  774 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: 9.3M Patient Records Hacked

I used to work at F5, so I got to be in some really scary meetings where people talked about a variety of attack types.

Ransomware and other attacks like it are still just basically the digital form of smash-n-grabs. It's like the late-night attack on the jewelry store, where someone bashes in the window, takes a fistful of shiny, and disappears into the night to sell that shiny to someone else.

What's scary are the tactical attacks.

CyberFighters were the first that I am aware of. They knew that banks had insurance against attacks. So they would DDoS the bank's site and charge a rate slightly less than the insurance would pay out. Sustained attacks over hours and days would eventually get the banks to cough up cash.

Blunt, but effective.

Then another group started launching DDoS attacks against banks, but it turns out these were just a front for the real crime, which was happening behind the scenes. A bank's web site gets DDoS'ed, and everyone is scrambling to redirect traffic to Akamai, profile the attack packets and teaching their ADC's to dump packets matching those attributes, etc.

And the phone rings constantly.

On one of these calls, "Eugene" with a weird accent, is on the phone from the branch office in New York is getting whacked and can't get access to his DNS. So he asks for the IP Address for the back end system they are re-routing traffic to, as a quick-fix to get around the DNS.

Shit. Eugene tries to log in, but his login isn't working because the Active Directory server needs to talk to the DNS, but the DNS is saturated by the ongoing DDoS. "Do you have a login that works without Active Directory, so I can get in?"

The hassled sysadmin has nine different Terminal sessions open on six different machines, and Akamai is on the other line, and the phone keeps slipping off his shoulder... so he gives Eugene the credentials to log in, bypassing the DNS and tunneling around the ADC directly into the control server or firewall in the DMZ.

... and five months later, a junior sysadmin is running some cleanup on some hard disks which were mis-configured in this old server over here, and they notice a couple gigs of text files in a weird numbered directory. Looks like log files, but, she goes ahead and TOPs the first hundred lines of the first file and sees... names... social security numbers... addresses... doctor's names... prescriptions...

She greps the directory for text strings in the format xxx-xx-xxxx, and gets hundreds of thousands of hits.

The junior sysadmin locks down the permissions on the disk. She copies the log files over to her personal directory. Checks the accesses... huge numbers of IP Addresses that start with 5.8.x.x ...

Eventually someone figures out what happened, and the DDoS attack was a distraction for the social-engineering hack from "Eugene", who then got behind the back doors, and made himself comfortable inside their data center, siphoning off data constantly for months.

These attacks aren't new. They are ongoing today.

It's just nobody talks about them because of what it would do to their stock prices. So everyone keeps these breaches under wraps.

And this is going on all the time.

goobster  ·  790 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: So I'm going to Kosovo??

Congratulations! I lived (in Prishtine) and worked in Kosovo (at Film City) for a while when I was a civilian contractor with KFOR.

Kosovo was rough then - 12/13 years ago - and really the ass end of the world. Power for a couple of hours a day, every third or fourth day, often no running water, and the Albanian mafia running basically everything. (The whole thing in Kosovo was a proxy war between the Albanian mafia and the EU, and largely unrelated to the problems in the northern parts of the Balkans. The Albanians were trying to annex the land by trafficking shitloads of Albanians in, and claiming they had "always lived there", and the EU/US were just trying to get everyone to stop shooting long enough that they could have a reasonable conversation with Serbia about the region, and wondering what the fuck the Albanians were going on about.)

The one power plant was coal-fired, and it made the snow was bright yellow from all the soot and pollution in the air.

My friend ran the - what was it called then? International Security Center, or whatever? - where they housed and tried all the criminals. Nice guy from Texas, ex-cop, ex-military, and a grandfather. Talk about a shitty job, man. Working in a craptastic place like Kosovo, doing a thankless job, for an organization that wished he didn't need to exist, a public that was against him, and genuine war criminals were the people he got to hang out with on a daily basis. Man... that was hard work.

Good luck with it. The bureaucracy is inconceivably Byzantine (appropriate, considering the history of the region) but I expect the best introduction to the current situation there is understanding how it went from Yugoslavia to the mess it is now, and the best way to do that is to read my friend Adam LeBor's book, "Milosevic"

It really will be a good primer to understanding the tribal underpinnings of everything you are getting into there.

Good luck. And thank you for doing the good and important work that needs to happen there. I did my part with UXO awareness, but that was all I could manage before I got out.

goobster  ·  849 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Stephen Fry's Blog post on Social Media.

I've been online since the early 1980's. Bulletin Board Systems. Email. The WELL. Usenet. Hand-coded web sites. eWorld. Tribe. LiveJournal. MySpace. Blogger. The original incarnation of Tumblr. Facebook. Blah blah blah.

What every commenter has missed in this thread, is the fact that Stephen Fry's article has nothing to do with technology... it's a love song to the rebellious nature of youth. And that it is the rebels who move the world forward. Not the sheep following along single-file behind the leader. He mourns the loss of the rebellious spirit of youth.

Women wore pants to rebel.

Rebels rejected the 2.5 kids and a white picket fence "nuclear family" and embraced communes, roommates, and living alone.

Punks tried to tear down every societal norm to rebel.

Metal heads applied skill and craft to rebellious ideas and tools and developed a finely honed precision to their rebellion.

Grunge rejected the precision of metal and went sloppy. Both in clothing and technology.

Rap rebelled against the structure of a band, and the assumption the front man should sing.

Every single one of these things were driven by the young, rebelling against the ways of the old.

Stephen Fry makes the simple point that the most common thing - the thing that Advertisers love, the thing the mass media has fully embraced, the thing even your parents are doing - is Social Media. So the most rebellious thing you could do is dump these tools of the modern bourgeoisie, and go analog.

Talk in person.

Make things with your hands.

Don't buy in to the machine and become a cog in their wheel... opt out! You don't HAVE to be on social media. You don't HAVE to have email.

The case he makes is that people like he and I have lived in both worlds, and by personal experience we know that both are valuable. But being electronically connected is now the norm. Adults today have grown up with screens and internet connections. These are today's Normal.

But rebellion is about fighting against the norm.

So the most rebellious thing one can do now is opt out of the digital advert-verse, and engage people in a real way. Face to face. Don't offer up your eyes, your mind, your time, and your soul, to advertisers, just to get another momentary endorphin jag.

The comments in this thread are really pretty funny to me. And a bit sad and pathetic at the same time... seeing people clutch so hard to something, as it cuts into their hands and the blood runs down their arms and they cry "I'm fine! Don't touch me!" and cower in the corner...

The internet is a tool.

A needle is a tool.

Put heroin in the needle, and you'll become unhealthily obsessed with the tool.

Put yourself on social media, and your internet becomes an obsession, rather than a tool. Now YOU are a tool of the advertisers. Rebel. Don't offer yourself up to be lied to. Go where they can't get you. Rebel.

goobster  ·  853 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Daydreams of leaving

kleinbl00 called me out because I am an American who pulled up stakes and moved to Budapest, Hungary on a whim, and stayed there for the better part of a decade.

So here's the trick. Both of you become certified English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers for Berlitz. (Or get an ESL certificate.)

Now you have a job anywhere you want to go in the world. You can walk into any Berlitz school and pick up a few hours a week. That will grow into more and more hours, and you will basically make a good college student-level salary.

The key thing is that you will MEET AND LIVE WITH THE LOCALS.

The big mistake that every single American thinks is that they have some sort of exalted way of life, or quality of life that is unmatched in the world, and that's just pure bullshit.

When you make a college student salary in any other country in the world, you are making a living wage. It's basic, but you have enough money to do the basic stuff. And since you are not going to the American Tourist spots, you are paying local prices for your needs... food, clothing, etc.

So you hang out in Prague for three months. Then you hop the train a couple hours south to Bratislava and hang there. It's cheap, and fun, and you love hiking in the hills, so you wind up staying for a year or so.

Then you go to Budapest and do the same thing. Or maybe zip over to the Baltics for the summer, and live it up in Tallinn in Estonia, then beat it down to Croatia for the winter.

Anytime you go anywhere, you jump on a train. You pay $20 to $90 to go anywhere. Or you find a RyanAir flight deal, and pay 20 GBP to fly to someplace crazy, like Morocco and chill there for a bit.

English is everywhere. And there is nothing you can't do without some goofy pantomime, some broken English, and some good-natured foreigner. (The ONLY time I got stumped was when I told a guy I was from San Francisco, and he tried to ask about earthquakes, and I just couldn't get it. Then the tram came, we laughed, got on board, and he slapped me on the back and we parted with a hearty smile.)

You and your wife are both good at something. You don't need a degree to prove it, but you will probably need a degree to get the right to stay permanently in any country. Fortunately, all school is free (and in English) in both the Netherlands and Sweden, so, shit... go there for a couple of years, enroll in school, get an education while working at whatever college students do there, and then go ANYWHERE.

And, being professional Nomads is WAY EASIER THAN YOU THINK. Especially if you have each other. Because the only problem my nomad friends have, is they sometimes feel lonely, and want to share a deeper experience with someone else. You and your wife have each other.

Here's the shitty part. This is incredibly fucking easy. You are going to agonize about it, and worry every detail, and make sure you buy exactly the right pack, and pocket knife, and notebook, and underwear... and you will travel for a week, and it will be stolen. And you'll never get it back. And you will have to wing it on the road, and scramble to replace things with whatever you can find, and there's no REI so you can't get those great socks anywhere, but there's this guy you met from Australia who told you about this place over in the Garment District of this city near by, and you can get there for, like... how much does that exchange to? Two dollars?... and you go, and you find things that work just as well, and you continue on your journey... and realize that YOU GOT THIS. Life can throw anything at you, and you don't even speak the language, but goddamnit motherfucker, I GOT MYSELF TO THAT NEIGHBORHOOD AND I BOUGHT MORE GODDAMN SOCKS!!! I AM A KING!!!! COME AT ME WORLD!!!

And shit will CHANGE in your brain. And you will become a citizen of the whole goddamn WORLD, not just one dopey little country that thinks it's shit don't stink.

And then you will look up and realize that it's been 4 years, and you could go ANYWHERE ON THE PLANET, and you get to CHOOSE now where you want to go. Your life is not dictated by keeping up with your high school friends, or whatever reality TV bullshit is driving the sale of those highwater pants, and you have friends you can visit in Perth, or Cape Town, or Minneapolis, or Hvar, or Berlin, and you travel, and see your friends... and then suddenly you have a job at a cool little startup in Barcelona. And then they want to give you an equity stake in the business, and then... hey... maybe I'll sell my motorcycle and stay in Barcelona. And then it's 7 years after that, and people visit YOU and wish THEY could do the amazing things that YOU AND YOUR WIFE have done, and how BRAVE you must me, and....

You will just shake your head at them sadly and vaguely remember when you thought that, too.