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Occasionally I get forwarded email.  Not just the junk that some people pass around, and not even the good stuff that people pass around.  This tends to be a legitimate forward of information I want or need, coming from people who are a bit technically challenged.  I can tell this because I can’t immediately see the forwarded email – it comes in as a text attachment.


Inside, it looks messy  (yes, names, addresses, and IPs have been munged).

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I go through my Gmail spam every so often.  Google is pretty good at parsing what is junk and what is good, but they aren’t perfect.  So I look in the spam bucket and clean it out occasionally.

Tonight I found a subject line that made me laugh.


Now my new friend Greg ought to know that I don’t live near navigable water.  I’m not a boater.  I don’t need 52% more surface area in my sails.

But boy, that Greg sure knows how to make it easy to put up a blog entry.

Thanks, Greg.

Sometimes you hear an echo, your own words coming back to you.

Sometimes the echo is a bit distorted, not exactly what you said.

Sometimes it’s coming from someone else, and is malicious.

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I’m staying away from politics for a while – I find that I get bothered easily.  So here’s something from the real world that bothers me.

I’m part of a FreeCycle group.  People post to the newsgroup when they have something they don’t want anymore, rather than pitching it.  I’ve seen everything from egg cartons to projection TVs.  People can also post with wants – a family gets burned out and needs new furniture.  A kid wants a particular doodad for a school project (the last one I saw was for hearing aids).  Lots of people offer excess plants.  We have been the beneficiary of multiple things, never posted a want, and have supplied at least one person’s want.

This want was astounding.

WANTED: Laser for a 40 caliber handgun

Thu Jan 24, 2013 8:42 am (PST) . Posted by: (redacted)

Springfield 40 caliber hand gun, I read it is attached to the barrel rod? Need it for training.

Well, then.  That makes sense. This person has applied for a job somewhere and wants someone else to donate a $350 piece of hardware.  If the donor has it, they bought it on purpose – this isn’t a plant that self-propagates or an egg carton that has outlived its usefulness.

Earlier this year, when we were cleaning out our shed, we came up with a bicycle, an electric mower, and a metal cart that we didn’t want/need anymore.  We took them down to the street, taped FREE signs to each of them, and let the market work.  We were gone that Saturday, and when we got back, the items were gone.  Somebody benefited from our generosity.

But begging for a $350 specialized piece of equipment?  Naah.

Another aspect: if they need this for their job, it’s part of job start-up costs.  Count that in when you apply.  At my old job, I needed a piece of software so that everyone could upgrade their software easily.  I wrote up the business case and we purchased a worldwide license for Beyond Compare.  I switched jobs, but the software didn’t.  Last month I bought my own copy (personal) for my workplace.  I can use it, work and home, forever.  I bought it, and I plan on using it at my current job for the rest of my work life.  My employer didn’t owe it to me.  The world didn’t owe it to me.  I wanted it, and I bought it.

And I’m staying away from politics.

Note: details of the want ad are munged for privacy.

I like computers, and I like my new job.  It’s not so new, I guess, since I have been there over five months.  I still like it.

I get to dig down deeper into applications and computer systems than I did before.  I get messy (metaphorically) working on all sorts of different things.  At times, when the solution doesn’t present itself quickly enough, you have to dig a little bit.  Go down beneath the shiny GUI, past the middleware, and get down into the guts of the thing.

If you have used the internet (you know, like maybe for reading this blog post), you have used Unix/Linux boxes along the way.  It may be directly (yes, your Android phone is running a version of Linux), indirectly (most web servers run Apache, probably on Linux), or in desperation to resolve a problem.

One of the places where Linux differs from Windows is in its use of the command line instead of Windows, Icons, Mice, and Pointers (WIMP – an acronym chosen by the Linux folks, I’m sure).  As you may have seen in the desperation link, disk drives get mounted – they aren’t just there.  Windows probably does something similar, but it is hidden in another layer you don’t usually see.

A news article reminded me of all this recently.  Iran test-fired a rocket containing a monkey, which supposedly came down safely.  The news story contains an explanation of why they showed pictures of two monkeys when there was only one in the rocket.


I have my doubts about the well-being of the monkey on the rocket.  I hope Iran learned from the failure of others and mounted a scratch monkey.

I don’t know why this guy calls himself daft – he’s pretty brainy and rational, if you ask me.

He appears to be unnamed.  He is not untalented.  I used his altitude finder for Google Maps to locate how far up and down I had walked on Saturday.  Google maps doesn’t offer terrain maps – that option (which I have used before) is grayed out.

So cheers to Mr. Daft – long may his applications run!

Today’s tool isn’t for everybody.  More specifically, it is for people who do computer support.  TeamViewer is a program that lets you see (and optionally control) somebody else’s screen.

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In addition to January 1 being a time for new beginnings, it’s a Tuesday, and I just found a new cool tool!

2012 was a strange year, full of medical situations and job changes for both Bettie and me.  In the midst of the running hither and yon, some of the smaller things in life were missed.  Usually, Bettie is our photo curator.  She will download pictures from the camera to her computer (since we aren’t geeky enough to use a wireless SD card, even though they are available), group them by subject matter (a day could have multiple subjects), rename the folder to make for easy Picasa searching, and then transfer them to my computer.  In 2012, that didn’t happen.

What I did get was a big data dump of every picture she had, as a way of safe-keeping (belt and suspenders: the best backup is duplicated).  What this did was to give me a large chunk of pictures that I already had.  As in tens of gigabytes of duplicated images.  I’m still using spinning disks – haven’t yet made the jump to Solid State Disks – but even with a tebibyte hard drive, there’s only about 25G left.

Sure that I had some duplicate files in there, I went looking for a duplicate file finder.  After a couple missteps, I ended up with Auslogics’ Duplicate File Finder.  This free software comes from Sydney, and works easily.  Download it, install it, run it.  You can tell it to ignore the file name, and to ignore the file date and time (I did both).  DFF uses the MD5 hash to verify that the files are indeed duplicates.  Pick which drives or directories you want checked, and let it go to work.  It can find images only, or all files.  I created a known duplicate, and let it locate it – and it did.  Backed up a couple directory levels (the programs I tried that didn’t work couldn’t find deeper matches), and it still worked.  Crank it up to looking in My Documents for all pictures, and it found lots.  Many, many lots.

So it was time for the big test.  Look at my entire 1T C: drive, starting at the root, and looking for any duplicate files.  If I was going to be serious about this clean-out, I wanted to do a good job.  Then I went to a New Year’s Eve party, so I can’t report on how long this took.  It was done when I returned at about 2AM, so somewhere less than 6 or 7 hours.  And did it find duplicates?


Auslogics DFF

If you don’t want to click through to the pic, that’s almost 88,000 duplicates, totaling over 130G.

I now have some choices to make.  The files are listed in descending size order, so you get your heavy hitters up top.  You also have your choice of how to deal with the duplicates, of deleting them to the Recycle Bin, or removing them directly, or sending them to DFF’s Rescue Center (their own, non-deleting version of the Recycle Bin).  That last is the option I chose – and I haven’t finished my efforts.  I would prefer to work more at the directory level rather than the file level, and use a bigger machete to cut through all the duplicate brush.  So I will be running this multiple times, seeing what the biggest offenders are.

My only thing for the wish list is that I’d like to export the results.  Auslogics has put in some nice selection options – select all, deselect all, invert selection, pick one file per “duplicate group”, pick all duplicates (leaving one unchecked) – and at the end, you can delete what is selected.  But my preference is to create a big batch file and do the work myself.  Of course, I’m not your average bear, nor their target audience.

Auslogics’ Duplicate File Finder – a good program, for which I haven’t found a duplicate.

To a computer near you: Google Drive.

That’s right, Google’s 5 gigabyte answer to Dropbox, allowing you to store files, pictures, movies, documents and anything digital up on the web.  It’s coming soon.  Like next week.  Of course, it has been coming “next week” for about a month now.

So, it’s not here yet.  Not for regular users, anyway.  But if you poke around a bit, you can find traces, like I did:

(Note: I saw a comment on a news article talking about this, so the idea isn’t original.  The research and screen shot are mine.)

Way back in the day, somebody was trying to sell a server with just enough operating system to start up and then run something else.  They called it, appropriately, JEOS, but they pronounced it “juice”.

Today I’m telling you about JES, Just Enough Security.

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