Dec 31, 2013

Airport TimecapsuleAirport Time Capsule - Failure / Update:
As part of my recent Computer update/upgrade (see below), I purchased a new Airport Time Capsule. Apple's Time Capsule is a wireless network product sold by Apple Inc., featuring network-attached storage (NAS) and a residential gateway router. Essentially, it's an AirPort Extreme wireless router with an internal hard drive. Apple describes it as a "Backup Appliance", designed to work in tandem with the Time Machine backup software utility. I've owned one since 2009 (they were introduced in Jan of 2008), and it was time to update mine. So, I purchased a new one. I purchased one of the new 5th Generation versions. The shape has changed from a short square device (similar to a Mac Mini or the original AppleTV) to an extruded cube shaped cylinder. The new Timecapsule featured a simultaneous dual-band wireless network capability which uses 802.11 DSSS 1 & 2 Mbit/s standard, 802.11ac (draft)/a/b/g/n. The new 802.11ac protocol promised greater wireless connectivity speeds, and stronger signals with a beam-modelling feature which would automatically figure out where your 802.11ac capable devices were, and shape the wireless beam to optimize strength and connectivity between the router and the connected device(s).

Unfortunately, the new Time Capsule (with a 3TB hard drive for Time Machine backups) failed to perform as expected. I wrote all about that failure last month. As a result of that failure, I had to demote the new device to backup duties only. It now occupies a 'back-up' position on my network, as a node connected directly to my Mac Mini, it's functioning as a network bridge (allowing me to connect other devices to my network - such as a Roku player and an Apple TV) and time machine for back-up of my Mac Mini. I had to promote my old 1st generation Time Capsule (with 500GB hard drive) back to a primary router/base-station role. It still functions properly, but this means that I can't take advantage of the new Time Capsule's 802.11ac speed bump.

Getting the old router back into it's role as my primary base-station took considerable effort. After several days of troubleshooting, it was configured in a role that wouldn't serve me properly. It took me another two days of troubleshooting in order to get my home network back on-line. <rant>Here's a situation where Apple's support and warranty basically failed me. I purchased a new product, I expected it to perform in accordance with the advertised specifications, but it didn't. Apple did not follow through on their promises to me. I should have pressed the matter more forcefully, but this is one instance where I had enough. I just wanted to get on with life. I went several days (3 days on my own, and another 3 days with the Apple technician) without any internet connectivity, and I was tired of explaining what was happening, completing every conceivable troubleshooting step, and trying to make this brand new Apple device work with my existing network and my Apple devices...</rant> With the old TC back in the primary router role, I no longer experience periodic device disconnects. Various devices on my network were getting booted off the network approximately 1-5 times per day. I spent a considerable amount of time trying to keep all my devices connected to my network. Thankfully, the old Time Capsule is still performing properly. It doesn't seem to have any complaints that it may have to serve as my primary router for another five years.
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AirPort_Time_Capsule>

XmasHappy Holidays/Merry Christmas:
Over the last two days (25-26 Dec, 2012), Kim and I celebrated another year of thanks-giving. On this festive occasion, Kim and I would like to take the opportunity to wish all our visitors a Happy Holiday Season, a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, a Joyous Festivus - Whatever flavor of holiday spirit trips your trigger. We sincerely hope that you and your family had a fantastic time during the last few days. We wish you prosperity and health throughout the year to come. Thanks for being our friends and family. We wish we could have made a trip out to see all our friends and family for the holidays, but we couldn't arrange it this year. Maybe we'll see you in 2014.

Aside from the usual pile of goodies, we did our best to save money this year. Damage to the Volvo (twice), furnace repairs, exterior painting and an expensive computer upgrade (that we saved five years for) combined with the uncertainties of sequestration and a contentious congress. All these issues kept Kim and I guessing about our financial situation. In October, the government actually shut down - and I was furloughed. Talk about a shock and an unbelievable situation - Serious financial concerns consumed our thoughts day and night. I dusted off my resume, and started considering the very real possibility that I might have to find a new job! Unlike previous years, this year we didn't do much traveling. In May/June we drove to Wisconsin to visit with family. In July we enjoyed a 'StayCation' for Kim's birthday. We skipped the Annibirthday (Anniversary and my birthday) celebration while we took stock of the furlough aftermath. Thankfully, we survived the year and we're still counting our blessings.

Even with all that economic uncertainty, we still managed to give to a couple of charities throughout the year. This year we gave more than $500.00 to the Vietnam Veterans of America. As usual, I dedicated more than 100 hours of work to a non-profit community oriented group (The South East Aurora Neighborhood Watch). We hope your year will be happy, healthy and wealthy as we move into 2014.
<http://robsworld.org/galleryphotos/index.php/Wisconsin---May-of-2013?page=1>
<http://robsworld.org/galleryphotos/index.php/Damage-to-Volvo---2013>
<http://robsworld.org/galleryphotos/index.php/Exterior-Painting---2013>
<http://robsworld.org/galleryphotos/index.php/Kim-s-Birthday---2013>

Hotmail Hates HostRocketHostRocket hates RobsWorld!:
Over the past two months, I've been experiencing considerable issues with my hosting provider. I use a service provider called 'HostRocket' to host several websites, mailing lists and my email services. Over the last two months, I've been receiving numerous email bounces from email sent by HostRocket's email servers. The email being affected is being sent by the mailing list service running on more than one of their shared hosts. I use these shared host for mailing lists (because my hosting provider doesn't configure the mailing list and email service to filter by incoming domain/IP and I can't afford/don't pay for a dedicated IP address/space). My Neighborhood Watch, RobsWorld, and Tollgate Crossing mailing lists are all hosted on these shared hosting servers.

See below for additional details on this particular issue... It's a thorny problem made worse by incompetent admins and uncaring bureaucrats. After completing some forms, and attempting to work with the hotmail/msn/outlook.com email admins, I'm once again trying to resolve things by talking to the admins at HostRocket (my hosting provider). So far they've been unwilling or unable to help me with this issue. I'm now resorting to the 'barrage' tactics - Send email to anyone and everyone at HostRocket. The 'trouble ticket' route didn't get results, maybe I can tickle or piss off the right person by throwing out a plea for help to a larger audience.

While this problem began when Hotmail started bouncing my email, I'm now convinced that the real problem is HostRocket. Upon reporting a problem (from me and Hotmail), the admins at HostRocket should have immediately sought out the source of the spam/address space mining and shut it/the spammer down. Instead they focused on me - because I reported the problem, and seemed more vocal than their other customers. After moving my mailing list to a different server that server also ended up on Hotmail's bad actor list. The 550 SC-002 errors from the Outlook/hotmail/msn/live.com servers continue; and I still can't deliver email to the people who rely on my mailing lists for Neighborhood Watch information. Not only did the HostRocket admins incorrectly interpret spam messages, they shut off all access to my websites because they thought that I was the spammer. A bit of log monitoring/analysis would clearly show that none of the log-ins and accesses used to send this spam were originating from my residential IP or used my log in credentials.

After consistent calls to the help center and trouble tickets, it looks like the admins at HostRocket are beginning to investigate the root causes for all my issues with bounced email. They finally discovered that the spammer wasn't me. That the spam, bounced email, black listing, and namespace mining issues are all being caused by a spammer who has installed a dovecot exploit on their servers. Whoever this person is, they've managed to work their way into HostRocket's network/servers, and they're using bogus credentials to install software, send spam and make a royal mess of things. My ability to access my web services (email, mailing lists, web pages, cPanel, ftp, ssh, etc) are all being impacted. Services go up and down without warning, the IP address of my hosted domains keeps changing, my access is blocked then unblocked, my websites are online then offline, then back online. Most of the IP addresses associated with my domains are now blacklisted, and HostRocket seems unwilling or unable to stop this spammer from causing more damage.

Software favorites:
Another batch of updates for my favorite Graphic editor. GraphicConverter moves ever forward. As usual, the developer has been busy updating this application. All the updates are free for those who own a license (for the most recent version). If you need a powerhouse converter, editor, and browser for your graphics, grab a copy of GraphicConverter - You won't be disappointed.

Graphic ConverterGraphicConverter:
Thorsten Lemke (of Lemkesoft) completed work on a few updates over the past week. I recently saw/downloaded the following updates: 9.0.2 (b1518), 9.0.2 (b1523), 9.0.2 (b1527). GraphicConverter is an image converter and editor. A fantastic piece of shareware that is well worth the price (~$40.00). I use it to convert image formats into web standard formats; to create and edit image maps and other graphics. I've been singing GC's praises for many years now, and I'm not sure what I would do without it. The best part about GC is it's author. Thorsten Lemke is completely committed to his customer base. Constantly and Continuously responding to customer recommendations and bug reports. GC is a dynamic, evolving, application. Always on the cutting edge, an absolute must in any web developers tool box. At a fraction of PhotoShop's cost (and no monthly subscription fees!), this photo editor puts a huge wrench in your toolbox. The full release version: 8.6 (b1200) finally introduced layers proper to the toolkit; putting GraphicConverter on an ever closer footing with the likes of PhotoShop, at a fraction of the price. A highly versatile application with all the bells and whistles of the top end editors.
<http://www.lemkesoft.de/en/products/graphicconverter/overview-of-new-features-and-versions/>
<http://www.lemkesoft.de/en/products/graphicconverter/key-features/>

With this software update, I've updated my Software Favorites page. It's primarily dedicated to web publishing for the Mac user. Not meant for the professional, It's my hope that home users and hobbyists will find it useful. It's a listing of applications that I find useful in publishing my web pages.
<http://www.robsworld.org/myfavs.html>

Dec 21, 2013

Hotmail Hates HostRocketHostRocket hates RobsWorld!:
Over the past two months, I've been experiencing considerable issues with my hosting provider. I use a service provider called 'HostRocket' to host several websites, mailing lists and my email services. Over the last two months, I've been receiving numerous email bounces from email sent by HostRocket's email servers. The email being affected is being sent by the mailing list service running on more than one of their shared hosts. I use these shared host for mailing lists (because my hosting provider doesn't configure the mailing list and email service to filter by incoming domain/IP and I can't afford/don't pay for a dedicated IP address/space). My Neighborhood Watch, RobsWorld, and Tollgate Crossing mailing lists are all hosted on these shared hosting servers.

See below for additional details on this particular issue... It's a thorny problem made worse by incompetent admins and uncaring bureaucrats. After completing some forms, and attempting to work with the hotmail/msn/outlook.com email admins, I'm once again trying to resolve things by talking to the admins at HostRocket (my hosting provider). So far they've been unwilling or unable to help me with this issue. I'm now resorting to the 'barrage' tactics - Send email to anyone and everyone at HostRocket. The 'trouble ticket' route didn't get results, maybe I can tickle or piss off the right person by throwing out a plea for help to a larger audience.

While this problem began when Hotmail started bouncing my email, I'm now convinced that the real problem is HostRocket. Upon reporting a problem (from me and Hotmail), the admins at HostRocket should have immediately sought out the source of the spam/address space mining and shut it/the spammer down. Instead they focused on me - because I reported the problem, and seemed more vocal than their other customers. After moving my mailing list to a different server that server also ended up on Hotmail's bad actor list. The 550 SC-002 errors from the Outlook/hotmail/msn/live.com servers continue; and I still can't deliver email to the people who rely on my mailing lists for Neighborhood Watch information. Not only did the HostRocket admins incorrectly interpret spam messages, they shut off all access to my websites because they thought that I was the spammer. A bit of log monitoring/analysis would clearly show that none of the log-ins and accesses used to send this spam were originating from my residential IP or used my log in credentials.

Not only that, but a little testing on my part discovered that despite my attempts to configure DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) and SPF (Sender Policy Framework) for my domains, HostRocket doesn't actually have DKIM enabled. I enabled the service through the cPanel, but a test using external services shows that DKIM isn't actually being used, despite the settings in cPanel. My attempts to work with the HostRocket help desk usually don't result in positive results, and it doesn't seem like they are doing anything to resolve the issues I'm experiencing. It seems like I have to explain myself and my problem every time I call the help desk. Why do I have to put up with this? If you're wondering how long I'm going to put up with this incompetence - So am I. The drama continues...

Software favorites:
Several updates to some of my favorite software applications came in during the later half of November. Most of the updates were spurred by Apple's release of two Operating Systems over the month The new desktop OS (10.9 / Mavericks) and the new iOS update (7.0). GraphicConverter moves ever forward. As usual, developer has been busy updating this application. over the last month or so, Thorsten released several updates for the product that's always getting better. All the GC updates are free for those who own a license (for the most recent version). If you need a powerhouse converter, editor and browser for your graphics, grab a copy of GraphicConverter - You won't be disappointed. In addition to the GC update, there's another set of updates to refresh the Bruji trio of 'collectibles' applications: DVDpedia, CDpedia and Bookpedia. Apple updated their own applications - the iWork suite of products: Keynote, Pages and Numbers. And finally; there's an updated version of Transmit available.

Graphic ConverterGraphicConverter:
Thorsten Lemke (of Lemkesoft) completed work on a slew of beta releases over the last week or so (mid Dec, 2013), and now we have a brand new major release. Thorsten has finally released the 9.0 upgrade (upgrade for $25.95/full version $39.95). The new application is a roll-up of several incremental improvements over the last few years. With the recent release of Mavericks Mac OS X 10.9, the developer had to re-engineer some of the applications capabilities. New features include: 'Non-destructive' undo and editing capabilities, support for the 'App Nap' feature of Mavericks. The ability to display the 'Photostream' in the application's browser, and many more application improvements.

GraphicConverter is an image converter and editor. A fantastic piece of shareware that is well worth the price (~$40.00). I use it to convert image formats into web standard formats; to create and edit image maps and other graphics. I've been singing GC's praises for many years now, and I'm not sure what I would do without it. The best part about GC is it's creator/author. Thorsten Lemke is completely committed to his customer base. Constantly and Continuously responding to customer recommendations and bug reports. GC is a dynamic, evolving, application. Always on the cutting edge, an absolute must in any web developers tool box. At a fraction of PhotoShop's cost (and no monthly subscription fees!), this photo editor puts a huge wrench in your toolbox. The full release of version 8.6 finally introduced layers proper to the toolkit; putting GraphicConverter on an ever closer footing with the likes of PhotoShop at a fraction of the price. A priceless application with all the bells and whistles of the top end editors.
<http://www.lemkesoft.de/en/products/graphic-converter/key-features/>

BBEditBBEdit:
BBEdit is a high-performance HTML and text editor for the Macintosh, and I'm running version 10.5.7. It's designed and crafted for the editing, searching, transformation, and manipulation of text and code (several different flavors of code/languages). BBEdit provides a vast array of general-purpose features which are useful for a wide variety of tasks, and includes many special purpose features which have been specifically developed in response to the needs of Web authors and software developers. It's an absolute must for any HTML author, code developers and hardcore Mac enthusiasts. My needs for BBEdit no longer revolve around HTML editing. While I still use BBEdit for some of my HTML coding, I primarily use it for plaintext editing. It's ability to search, find, compare, replace text and handle documents is simply unparalleled. The 10.5.7 was a minor update, released to fix a small number of customer reported issues.
<http://www.barebones.com/support/bbedit/arch_bbedit1057.html>
<http://www.barebones.com/support/bbedit/updates.html>
<http://www.barebones.com/products/bbedit/>

With these software updates, I've updated my Software Favorites page. It's primarily dedicated to web publishing for the Mac user. Not meant for the professional, It's my hope that home users and hobbyists will find it useful. It's a listing of applications that I find useful in publishing my web pages.
<http://www.robsworld.org/myfavs.html>

Tollgate CrossingDish disses Customers:
<rant>If you're a Dish network (or DirecTV) subscriber, you're used to the poor treatment. You're used to getting 'dis-respected' by these two giant entertainment providers. If you don't live in an area serviced by cable, or you choose the satellite providers for price (certainly not customer service), then you're used to the prices going up every year. Yup, it's kind of a thing with these two. They seem to always raise their prices despite all the 'Competition'. You'd think that all this competition (I'm being sarcastic - In case you didn't know) they would be improving their service and lowering their prices - NOT! Get ready for another round of price hikes. The price hikes over the last few years have been predictable consequences of the problem with competition in the US Market. With the markets so locked down and competition so non-existent. The providers feel like they can rake their customers over the coals any time they want.

For example - Take this latest price hike by Dish (DirecTV raised their prices too). The price hike for me will be a $5.00 increase (starting in Feb of 2014). Apparently the fact that our economy is in a slump is all the more reason for these companies to soak us for more money. Because they demand higher profits - or the content producers are demanding more money from the carriers (such as Dish and DirecTV and Comcast and TimeWarner, etc). Not that they're improving their service or anything like that, just because... Well, I'm sure they've got plenty of 'reasons' why they have to raise prices.

Another annual tradition with these douche-bags is the pre-Christmas price hike. Just before Christmas they announce their price hikes - Merry Christmas to you 'Consumer'! We know you haven't got much choice - Especially the suckers in poorly served areas (where there's no cable and you're too far from a metropolitan area to get HD over the air). Dish just completed a ~16% price hike at the beginning of 2013; now they're raising prices again. In less than a year they've raised their prices by approximately 20%. They'll tell you that they're trying to build a Nation-Wide network while competing with the likes of Netflix and Hulu. What? Netflix and Hulu don't operate a distribution network, and why should you raise prices 20% in order to 'build' a Nation-Wide network? Isn't that something that you should be doing with your current profits? We know the real reason you're raising profits. It's because you have to appear profitable to your investors, and the market will penalize you if you don't continue to generate ever-increasing profit margins - on the Backs of working Americans.</rant>
<http://variety.com/2013/biz/news/dish-to-raise-rates-in-2014-keeps-blaming-programmers-for-hikes-1200980477/>
<http://money.cnn.com/2013/12/24/technology/dish-directv-price-hike/>

Hotmail Hates HostRocketHotmail Hates HostRocket:
Over the past two months, I've been experiencing considerable issues with my hosting provider. I use a service provider called 'HostRocket' to host several websites, mailing lists and my email services. Over the last two months, I've been receiving numerous email bounces from email sent by HostRocket's email servers. The email being affected is being sent by the mailing list service running on more than one of their shared hosts. I use these shared host for mailing lists (because my hosting provider doesn't configure the mailing list and email service to filter by incoming domain/IP and I can't afford/don't pay for a dedicated IP address/space). My Neighborhood Watch, RobsWorld, and Tollgate Crossing mailing lists are all hosted on these shared hosting servers.

See below for additional details on this particular issue... It's a thorny problem made worse by incompetent admins and uncaring bureaucrats. After completing some forms, and attempting to work with the hotmail/msn/outlook.com email admins, I'm once again trying to resolve things by talking to the admins at HostRocket (my hosting provider). So far they've been unwilling or unable to help me with this issue. I'm now resorting to the 'barrage' tactics - Send email to anyone and everyone at HostRocket. The 'trouble ticket' route didn't get results, maybe I can tickle or piss off the right person by throwing out a plea for help to a larger audience.

Anyone who can help me.

I am a HostRocket customer experiencing an issue which isn't getting resolved, and the HostRocket admins have now shut down access to my web sites as a result of their 'investigation'.

Since November of 2013 (reference host rocket tickets: 752125, 928448, 556203)

I have been experiencing issues sending email to any hotmail/msn/live.com email recipients. I've been receiving 550 SC-002 bounces whenever I use my personal MTA or HostRocket hosted mailman services to send email to hotmail/msn/live.com email recipients. Essentially this bounce message (550 SC-002) indicates that someone using a HostRocket IP is 'probing' hotmail/msn/live.com servers in order to validate a list of hotmail/msn/live.com email addresses. As the hotmail/msn/live.com servers notice this, they place the entire IP block: 216.120.224.0/19 on a blacklist. As a result, I (and all other affected HostRocket customers) cannot send email to hotmail/msn/live.com email recipients.

Can you please help investigate this issue, as it doesn't appear as if the HostRocket admins/customer support reps that I've been dealing with (through the support portal: https://support.hostrocket.com) have been effective in resolving the issue.

Please see the two messages below and further messages available in the referenced tickets (most recent ticket is: 752125).

Yes, you read that correctly - The admins have now 'shut down access to my web sites' - They've decided I was the person responsible for the 'namespace mining - Even though they've been unable to provide any evidence to support this theory, and they didn't bother telling me why they shut down my account. I now find that I cannot access my own account, and my websites are offline. Yes, my websites - Not the mail services running on a totally different IP space, the web services - Which don't send or receive email. Brilliant! Since the basic techs seem unable to help me, I did a whois query to find some new email addresses. Armed with a dangerous number of email addresses, I loaded up the email and sent out a blast (show above) asking for help. Maybe someone on the receiving end will read their email and stir things up?

Here's an email from a lame admin regarding his 'investigation':

Hi Robert,

It looks like the namespace mining flag is actually being raised by emails originating from southeastaurora-neighborhoodwatch.org. Checking our outgoing mail system, I've found thousands of emails over the past couple of days that are sent in bulk to addresses ending in .com.br. I've denied all access to the site's directories to prevent further abuse. Please let us know when you are ready to investigate the account for insecure mailers so we can restore access to the site files. We will not be able to reconfigure the sending IP at this time.

-Josh
HostRocket Support
We value your feedback. Feel free to rate the support you received by clicking the stars in the bottom right of the ticket interface!

I was not pleased with these findings. I called the 'help desk', and had to explain what was happening. I asked to speak with Josh, but he wasn't available. I spoke with a 'PJ' at length, and eventually discovered that the email addresses from 'southeastaurora-neighborhoodwatch.org' to '.com.br' recipients weren't actually from 'southeastaurora-neighborhoodwatch.org'. They were coming from the same server that my domain is hosted on, but they weren't being sent by me. I don't understand why these admins don't look in the mail logs to find out who logged in/authenticated and sent these messages. Doing that clearly confirmed that the messages weren't being sent by me. Yes - Their are numerous websites hosted on the same server, many of them share the same IP space. I don't like the shared hosting environment, as it makes these types of mistakes possible. After a few hours, my account was unlocked and my websites visible again. Why do I have to put up with this? If you're wondering how long I'm going to put up with this incompetence - So am I. The drama continues...

Mac OS XMac OS X updates:
Something I've often done on my website - I've posted about Mac OS X updates. Whenever Apple would release a new operating systems or an update to that operating system, I would blog about it. When I started my blog (back in 1996) there weren't many people doing that. You had to search about for information about Apple's newest releases; if you wanted an unbiased opinion. Of course you could always go to Apple's website(s) to learn about the newest releases, but you couldn't always get independent reviews and information. Now? Now that's different. Now you can find numerous websites where information and reviews are available. There's plenty of places serving up that kind of information. Since that 'space' is well served, I'm going to stop with the Apple updates and reviews. If there's an update to one of my favorite pieces of software, I'll update my 'Favorites' page, but I won't be posting about the updates quite as frequently. As the updates roll in, I'll keep my computer and software favorites pages up to date, but I no longer see the need to make separate posts about such routine updates. If the update or new release is especially significant I may still blog about it, but most of the time the releases and updates are routine. From this point forward, I won't be blogging about those routine software releases or updates.
<http://www.robsworld.org/computer.html>
<http://www.robsworld.org/myfavs.html>

Tollgate CrossingUpdates to the Tollgate Crossing website:
I participate in some community focused events, but I don't have the time to serve on any of our community boards, so I do what I can to help the neighbors who live in my community. I volunteer with our local neighborhood watch, and support our community by maintaining the Tollgate Crossing website, mailing lists and online bulletin boards. The Tollgate Crossing website is focused on the Tollgate Crossing community, with a few links to the Neighborhood Watch website.

Recently I've decided that I will no longer post updates on Rob's World! regarding my Tollgate Crossing website. I will continue to update the website and support my community; providing email services, mailing lists, and other 'tech' support to hundreds of residents in Tollgate Crossing. Posting the 'Tollgate Crossing' updates to my Rob's World! blog (you're reading it now!) is part of the reason I've fallen behind. I'm updating the Tollgate Crossing website, and then I'm blogging about it on my Rob's World! website. They aren't directly connected, so I'm going to stop with the blogging about it part. If there's a significant update or event in the Tollgate Crossing community (including the website) then I'll blog about it. On the other hand, if I stop blogging about it on my Rob's World! website, I just might find some time to blog about other stuff - Stuff that's more pertinent to Rob's World!?

My community website (the 'Tollgate Crossing' website) is a personal website that I use to keep the residents up to date on all matters regarding our community. I ask for and appreciate the cooperation of the HOA and MD boards in this effort (as neither has/maintains a website where residents can obtain such information). I do not work for the board or the management company. I do my best to serve the community and it's residents. If you are a resident of 'Tollgate Crossing' (in Aurora, Colorado), you might want to check out the website, mailing lists or bulletin boards. They're loaded with information about our community, provide multiple venues for communications, community interaction and interactive ways to stay connected in Tollgate Crossing. If you'd like to help out by being a moderator, provide feedback, or help me with my coding efforts, please let me know. I'm open to your suggestions.
<http://www.tollgatecrossing.org/Welcome.html>

Hotmail Hates HostRocketHotmail Hates HostRocket:
Over the past two months, I've been experiencing considerable issues with my hosting provider. I use a service provider called 'HostRocket' to host several websites, mailing lists and my email services. Over the last two months, I've been receiving numerous email bounces from email sent by HostRocket's email servers. The email being affected is being sent by the mailing list service running on more than one of their shared hosts. I use these shared host for mailing lists (because my hosting provider doesn't configure the mailing list and email service to filter by incoming domain/IP and I can't afford/don't pay for a dedicated IP address/space). My Neighborhood Watch, RobsWorld, and Tollgate Crossing mailing lists are all hosted on these shared hosting servers.

See below for additional details on this particular issue... It's a thorny problem made worse by incompetent admins and uncaring bureaucrats. After a monumental effort (no joke) I finally managed to submit my 'issue' using a Windows Live 'Junk Mail Reporting Partner Program'. Maybe this will help? My ISP/WebHost isn't providing any support, so I'm attempting to find a solution by writing to the admins who manage the Hotmail/msn/live.com email servers. After filling out the form, I was contacted by a 'Praveen' who works with the 'Hotmail Deliverability Support Team' - He received my request, and then informed me that I would have fill out another form before he could help me.

So I filled out the 'Outlook.com deliverability support form' on the 15th of Dec, 2013. I had to try five different browsers on two different operating systems before I finally got the form to work properly. I eventually stumbled upon the Opera Browser (version 12.16 Build 1860) under Mac OS X System 10.9.0 as the winning combination. FYI: The 'captcha' device on the form is a nightmare. 9 out of 10 attempts to enter the displayed 'characters' fails; even when the characters I've entered are clearly the same as the characters presented. The audio option (as an alternative to the displayed characters) speaks too quickly and the static and distortion makes it nearly unintelligible (when it actually works (I had to try three different browsers before I found one that actually sent the audio to my device/speakers)). Does anyone really think that a Robot can complete this form?

As I was saying. I completed the form as requested (see email below) and I was hoping to start a conversation about the problem I've been having. I'm not a spammer, I'm a user of shared hosting services, and all the people (with hotmail/msn/live.com email addresses) I send email to (through my mailman mailing lists) are unable to receive any email from me (mailing list or personal email) because the hotmail/msn/live.com servers have blacklisted entire blocks used by my hosting provider. I use SPF and DKIM in my email. Is there any way that I can personally be whitelisted? Is there anything I can do to ensure that my email is delivered?

They reply from Bhaskar? of the JMR Partners Management Team? "Thank you for your patience. Please reply to the response which you have received for the new request , so that a Hotmail Deliverability Support Agent will be able to address your query. Best regards, Bhaskar The JMR Program Management Team".

I've discovered an infinite loop in Hotmail's support 'team'. These people aren't talking to each other. They're not communicating with me, and they seem to think that filling out more forms will 'help' resolve problems. Now I know why some people 'go postal'

Dec 14, 2013

Trapped in my garageTrapped in our garage!
With Kim's car in the shop, we've been carpooling back and forth to work. This morning when we went to leave the house we encountered a problem. I pressed the button to open the garage door and it only went up a foot or so. That's it. The garage door wouldn't open. I tried several times, and not believing me, Kim had to try too. I thought there was something wrong with the motor on the garage door opener. O.k. that shouldn't be an insurmountable obstacle, I'll just lift the garage door manually.

I disconnected the screw drive from the door and attempted to lift the garage door by hand. Normally this would be an easy task. As the spring helps me lift the door I should have had no problems lifting the garage door. My attempts to lift the door were completely useless. My two stall garage door ways far too much for me to lift above my head, and it's now apparent that the spring is not helping at all. Great! The spring is busted, that's why the garage door won't open. That thing (16'x8' made of wood with steel framing/support) must way close to 360 pounds. I'm not prepared or equipped to lift that thing over my head. We're trapped!

We were due for work in a little less than 30 minutes, and we were stuck in the garage. Well, we weren't stuck, but the Volvo was stuck. I couldn't get the main garage door open, but there is a third door on our garage. That smaller door doesn't have a garage door opener attached, and the door ways far less (under 100lbs) than the big double door. I could/can/have easily lifted it over my head on many occasions. We don't have three vehicles, so that door doesn't get much use - Today it looks like we're going to be using it - maybe...

Now comes the hard part. How to maneuver the Volvo, inside the garage, until it's lined up for an exit by way of the third door. No easy feat given the size of the Volvo, it's turning radius, and the confines of the garage. Now the garage is quite large and roomy (appx 28x25ft / 688sqft); especially now that there's only one vehicle in it. Then again, the Volvo is a beast. It's not a compact SUV by any stretch (15'8"L x 6'3" W x 5'10" H). 32 point turn?

It took quite a bit of maneuvering, and I had to move a bunch of junk (The stuff that eventually clogs up your garage, just like cholesterol clogs your arteries), but eventually I managed to line up the Volvo just right... Or so I thought! Once I started to exit the garage - Damn! I ran up against the garage door frame. I mashed the Volvo up against a pointy thing. A bolt protruding from the garage door frame/rails pressed against my Volvo. It damaged the plastic trim on the passenger side door (in the front), and it left a nice nasty hole right in the metal of the door. It didn't go all the way through the metal. The steel construction of the Volvo is no laughing matter, but it did cause damage.

I backed up and tried again. This time I made it out of that door with approximately 3 inches to spare, divided by either side of the door. Unfortunately, I had to drive right over the rose bushes. Kim was quite upset, and I wasn't in any laughing mood either, but we were free of the garage. We'll have to call the repairman as soon as we get to work. Replacing one of those heavy duty springs is no matter for amateurs - not to mention the damage to the Volvo, and the damage to the screw drive (garage door opener). Damn, this is going to be one expensive 'accident'. Sometimes life throws bad luck your way - You just have to keep on driving!
<http://robsworld.org/galleryphotos/index.php/Power-Washing---2013>
<http://www.robsworld.org/volvoxc90damage_dec2013.jpg>
<http://www.robsworld.org/iphoto/ourhouse/Pages/70.html>
<http://www.robsworld.org/volvoxc90_2005.jpg>

Hotmail Hates HostRocketHotmail Hates HostRocket:
Over the past two months, I've been experiencing considerable issues with my hosting provider. I use a service provider called 'HostRocket' to host several websites, mailing lists and my email services. Over the last two months, I've been receiving numerous email bounces from email sent by HostRocket's email servers. The email being affected is being sent by the mailing list service running on more than one of their shared hosts. I use these shared host for mailing lists (because my hosting provider doesn't configure the mailing list and email service to filter by incoming domain/IP and I can't afford/don't pay for a dedicated IP address/space). My Neighborhood Watch, RobsWorld, and Tollgate Crossing mailing lists are all hosted on these shared hosting servers.

Unfortunately for me, someone is using theses shared hosts to send spam (or so it appears to Hotmail servers). Apparently, someone is abusing the HostRocket servers in order to send spam. They've figured out a way to compromise the servers and send spam, and the system administrators haven't figured out who's responsible, how they're doing it, and how to shut them down. In the meantime, Hotmail (aka live.com, msn.com, outlook.com, hotmail.com) has decided to mark all email originating from the affected IP addresses/email servers (the shared host/machine/IP addresses that are affected) as being spam! Hotmail tags the IPs as sources of spam based upon something called 'namespace mining'. The Hotmail servers see someone (an email server) making multiple/simultaneous connections to the their email servers and then attempting to deliver thousands of email messages to thousands of different hotmail recipients - While there's a lot of hotmail subscribers on my mailing lists, the number of subscribers I'm attempting to send to (appx 30-50) shouldn't trigger a namespace mining alert, and namespace mining alerts are only triggered by 'non-existent' hotmail users. My mailing list would have to contain thousands of Hotmail addresses and most of them would have to generate bounces, then a 'namespace mining' alert would be triggered. A spammer generates a list of thousands of possible email addresses (ex. joe@example.com, joe1@example.com, joe2@example.com, joe3@example.com... joe999@example.com) then attempts to deliver 'null' messages via hotmail email servers. That's what causes 'namespace mining' alerts/errors. Not a mailing list with 50 valid hotmail subscribers!

Due to this issue - I believe someone inside the StableHost IP space (amongst the shared hosting space) is conducting actual namespace mining. Unfortunately for me, this means the shared hosts are on a block/black list, and I can't send email (via the mailing list) to any of the mailing lists subscribers that use Hotmail (aka live.com, msn.com, outlook.com, hotmail.com) for their email services. That's thousands of subscribers. Hotmail doesn't just stop me from sending email to hotmail, when they put the StableHost IPs on a black/block list, other email services block me. Many email providers use Hotmail's block/black list. This means I can't send email to most of the people subscribed to our South East Aurora Neighborhood Watch, my personal RobsWorld mailing lists, or the Tollgate Crossing community mailing lists.

Mailing list subscribers do not receive my messages (messages from the mailing list) and I receive a bounce message (when I'm the originator of the mailing list message) from Hotmail. Not only are these subscribers unable to receive email from my mailing list services, my domains are being implicated as sources of spam, because they all trace back to that shared host (by way of the mailing list servers). I've written my hosting provider, but they seem unwilling or unable to deal with the problem. For that matter, I don't think they actually know what's happening. It's a direct consequence of the low pay they dole out to the personnel that manage their services. Thankfully I'm still able to send individual email messages, because the 'authenticated' email (not the mailing list process) goes through a different block of IP addresses that are set up specifically for email; unlike the webhosts which are used in conjunction with the mailing list processes.

While I continue to troubleshoot and document the issue, the hosting provider seems content to let Hotmail besmirch their name and my name. After all, a lot of the blow-back is affecting my name (I'm the registered owner of many domains on the shared host). In the meantime, my hosting provider immediately suspects me of being the source of the 'spam' even though this isn't an actual 'spam' issues - Namespace mining is something altogether different. Getting answers or action from my hosting provider is just as difficult as getting Hotmail to respond or interact with me. The problems persist, and my displeasure with this hosting provider grows by the minute.

<rant>It's taken me forever to complete the hotmail/msn/live.com support request form. The form is buggy, doesn't function properly, is non-intuitive, and is 'supposed' to be filled out by the person/admin responsible for the machine responsible for the suspected spam. In order to complete this form (in order get Hotmail to respond to my support request) I had to download and install a Java Virtual Machine (mind you I despise Java - Don't really want it on my Mac). The form is dependent on Java and Internet Explorer. Of course it is! Why wouldn't the Hotmail services be dependent on vulnerable, proprietary, buggy code? I installed the Java VM, fired it up and launched an instance of Windows 7 and Internet Explorer 11 in order to complete the form. It took me 3 hours to complete this action, and I still didn't get a 'ticket number'. I must have the wrong combination of crappy dependencies. Maybe I need an older, more vulnerable version of Windows, Java or Internet Explorer?

Since I don't actually own/control the machine/IP block/address, I doubt that Hotmail will even respond to my support request, but I've got to try something, my hosting provider isn't doing squat about the problem. I think I filled out the form correctly. I didn't get a good 'feeling' about the results from clicking the 'submit' button. HostRocket did move me over to a different IP for a period of time, but then - not at my request - they moved me to another IP address. Another 'Bad' IP address, one that the spammer was using, so now I'm back on the Hotmail 'spammer' list. Arrggghhh! This is the third time they've done that. Excellent work HostRocket - Not!</rant>

Elgato video captureVHS Conversion Project - Back up and running:
Back in October of 2010, I started a new project. An ambitious project to convert all my VHS videos to digital format. I thought/dreamt about it for several years, and I finally made it happen in 2010. The inspiration came from a previous success. Back in 2007 I managed to digitize my entire cassette collection,. That led me to imagine a day when all my movies (VHS and DVD) could be stored digitally and watched on my television without needing to get up from the couch - How many amazing products come as couch potato inspiration?

A project to convert my VHS library to digital was a bit more ambitious than that music conversion project, this project would require the purchase of some hardware, and a rather hefty (or so it seemed in 2007!) hard drive. My VHS library currently sits on a shelf, quietly growing older, decaying, disintegrating. Those VHS tapes weren't designed to last forever, and they aren't getting any younger. Buying DVD copies of every VHS movie could prove costly, so this project should save me considerable money, and make my movie watching habit far easier to manage from my Italian Leather Sofa (actually, it's American leather), but I digress...

Back to the project requirements. Initially, I thought I'd use a 1TB Seagate NAS drive , but that piece of hardware turned out to be wholly unreliable and unusable for much of anything. I've since replaced it with a Buffalo Technology LinkStation Pro Duo 4 TB (2 x 2 TB) RAID Network Attached Storage solution. This ethernet/network attached server is configured to serve up Music, Movies, Books, Television shows and other files to users on my network (I even managed to configure the server for internet based web access). This 2TB drive should prove adequate for storage of my digitized video collection. It's media server capabilities may also prove beneficial when I want to view those movies from various network attached devices. The second component for this project was something capable of digitizing and encoding my video collection. I purchased an 'Elgato Video Capture' device from Amazon for $80.00, and I've been using this little piece of hardware to digitize my rapidly aging VHS collection.

The project was slow going at first (due to problems with my storage solution (that Seagate drive), and various other reasons) but it seemed to be moving forward at an acceptable pace until July of 2012. By then I had managed to digitize more than 100 movies (see my monthly movie reviews for titles (look for the VHS covers)), and my rate was increasing as I became more familiar with the software and I refined my process. At first there weren't any issues with the digitization software, and the only real issue was watching the movies all the way through at 1x speed and. With a bit of good luck and a good dose of patience, I was on the fast track to digitize all those VHS tapes before the end of the decade! Unfortunately, that was before the Elgato digitization software/hardware stopped working.

On the 29th of Nov, 2013, I submitted a support request via Elgato's support website: <http://help.elgato.com/customer/portal/emails/new>. In a very detailed message I described all the troubleshooting steps I took, and the reasons why it took me so long to report the problem (Computer upgrade just after the device failed).

Back in October of 2010, I purchased a copy of Elgato Video Capture via Amazon (paid $79.95). I immediately started using it to digitize a collection of VHS movies. I managed to digitize 115 movies between August of 2011 and July of 2012 (I had some problems with a NAS/my storage which delayed the project). In July of 2012, the Video Capture device stopped working.

I conducted some troubleshooting, but I couldn't find any reason for the device to not function. The software kept telling me to connect my 'Elgato Video Capture hardware' to any USB 2.0 port.' The software simply would not recognize the hardware. I had the cable (composite end) connected to the back of my VHS player/recorder (A Panasonic NV-FJ4620PX - Which works perfectly). The other end (composite to USB) was connected to a USB port on the computer, but the software wouldn't recognize the hardware connection.

I was originally using the Elgato Video Capture software/hardware on my Mac Pro (a Mac Pro 4,1(Early 2009) with 2 x 2.26GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon 5500 series (Nehalem) processors and 20GB of memory). The software/hardware ran fine (Under Mac OS X 10.6.8 (Snow Leopard), 10.7 (Lion) and 10.8 (Mountain Lion)) until appx July of 2012. That's when it stopped working and I couldn't figure out why. I tried logging into a clean 'troubleshooting' account and running the software, but I still encountered the same error. The software kept insisting that I plug the hardware into one of the computers USB 2.0 ports (the only ports available on the Mac Pro were 2.0 USB ports). It was working with the USB plug connected to a an external hub, but I kept trying with direct connections to the computer; as I was certain all those ports were USB 2.0.

I decided to put off my VHS digitization project for a while. I was planning to upgrade my computer in November, so I thought I would wait until then and give it a fresh start. Now it's November and I've got two new computers to try the Elgato Video Capture software/hardware on. I tried using the Software/Hardware on my new iMac (an iMac 14,2 (Late 2013) with a 3.5 Quad-Core Intel Core i7 processor with 32GB of memory). I tried launching the Elgato Video Capture software on my new iMac (after all the 'migration' and software updates were complete). Unfortunately, I encountered the same error I saw on my Mac Pro. The software was insisting that I connect the hardware to a USB 2.0 port. The USB ports on the new iMac are 3.0, but that shouldn't be a problem as they're backward compatible. I tried disconnecting all other USB devices, and the software still couldn't see the Elgato Video Capture hardware.

Since I couldn't update the software (The only option offered when the software can't see the hardware is 'Quit'), I went to the Elgato support site: <http://www.elgato.com/video/video-capture/support/update-mac> where I downloaded and installed the latest version of the Elgato Video Capture software (1.1.2). I tried again to launch the software, but it still insists that I have not plugged in the hardware to a USB 2.0 port. Once again, this is a 'troubleshooting' account with minimal additional software running. I tried plugging, unplugging the USB cable in different ports; before launching the software; after launching the software; while the software was running, etc, etc, etc... It just won't work on my new iMac running OS X 10.9 (Mavericks).

I don't see anything on your website which would indicate that the application won't work under Mavericks, and the software does launch, it just doesn't see the hardware.

I then tried installing the software on a Mac Mini (Mac Mini 4,1 (mid 2010/server model) with a 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and 16GB of memory) running OS X 10.6.8 (Snow Leopard (server)). I installed the software from my original installation disk, registered it, and attempted to run the software. After I connected the VCR and all the cables, I launched the software only to be greeted by a pop-up that asked me to connect the Video Capture Hardware to a USB 2.0 port. The error message insisted that my Mac Mini's USB port was a USB 1.1 port. All the ports on this model of Mac Mini are 2.0, but I tried all the USB ports (with nothing else connected), just to see. The software kept insisting that I connect the hardware to a USB 2.0 port; that the port it was connected to was only 1.1?

The account I was running the software under was a fresh install of Snow Leopard server (Mac OS X 10.6.8), and the user account had admin privileges. The account didn't have very many extra applications running (Finder, Safari, Apple Works 6.2.9, and System Preferences). I kept troubleshooting for another hour before I gave up. At this point I'm thinking that the hardware is damaged or malfunctioning. Is there any way I can test it? Every time I try to launch the software I get a pop-up which asks me to connect the device to a USB 2.0 port - Despite the fact that I do/did/it was connected…

After submitting this support request (on the 30th of Nov, 2012), I decided to simply purchase a new copy of the software/hardware. Amazon had the product 'Elgato Video Capture Device' available for $79.99. With two day Prime shipping, I was hoping that I'd be up and running in no time at all.

On the 2nd of Dec, 2012, I received a message from the Elgato Systems Technical Support Desk. According to Elgato: "From your detailed description of the problem, it sounds like your unit has developed a physical problem." They wanted to ship me a new unit. I wasn't actually expecting a reply. I guess I just assumed that I wouldn't get any service for a product I had purchased more than two years ago. I responded to the support technician by indicating that I had already purchased a new unit from Amazon. I also asked about the warranty, because there wasn't one anywhere on the box, in the box or in the instruction manual. I provided my address, but reminded them that I had already ordered a new unit.

The case got forwarded to up the chain to a more senior representative. He assured me that they would honor their warranty, even though I couldn't find one packaged with the product. He asked for a copy of my receipt, provided an RMA number, and the address where I should send the defective hardware. They would send me a replacement unit as soon as they received the defective unit. On the 5th of Dec, I went to the UPS store and shipped the defective unit (with a copy of my Amazon order invoice) back to Elgato Systems, LLC in San Francisco, CA.

While waiting for the replacement part from Elgato, the new device from Amazon arrived. After connecting the VHS deck and digitizer to my new computer (an iMac 14,2 (Late 2013) with a 3.5 Quad-Core Intel Core i7 processor with 32GB of memory), the application (the software) ran perfectly. As I write this (Dec 8th, 2013) I am digitizing my VHS copy of 'Fantasia' by Disney (the 1999 release of the 1940 classic). No issues noted whatsoever - It's working properly. I took the time to write a four star review of the Elgato Video Capture Device on Amazon. I also wrote Elgato to let them know that the unit from Amazon is working properly.

On the 11th of Dec, Elgato notified me that they had received the defective unit, and they would be shipping a new unit to me shortly. I received the replacement unit from Elgato within a week, and I'm planning to either sell the replacement, or give it as a gift to a friend who wants to digitize his/her VHS collection. Elgato's customer service was excellent. Despite the fact that the unit was more then two years old, they honored my return request because I clearly demonstrated (in my troubleshooting documentation) that the hardware unit was defective. The device and software do work well (as proven by my recent digitization of 'Fantasia' - Yes I own a license for the VHS tape, so a backup is permitted under U.S. Copyright laws), and now I can resume my VHS digitization project. FYI: I use the following additional pieces of software in order to digitize and catalog my old VHS tapes: iVI Pro and DVDpedia.
<http://www.robsworld.org/whatsnew/wn2007/wn2007_jan.html#atodconversion>
<http://help.elgato.com/customer/portal/emails/new>
<http://www.robsworld.org/reviews.html>
<http://www.robsworld.org/movies.html>

Dec 7, 2013

Adobe HackedAdobe Hacked / Update!
On the 4th of October, 2013, I learned (through the press/news) that Adobe had been hacked. Since I'm an Adobe customer this concerns me. I initially received an email notification from Adobe on the 7th of Oct, 2013. That's when they notified me that my Adobe ID, password, and email address had all been compromised. So I did what millions of other people should be doing/need to do - I changed my password and the email address I use when I do business with Adobe. Thankfully they notified me... Eventually these companies will simply stop sending these types of announcements. They hurt stock prices, and create negative stigma in the eyes of consumers. The executives will eventually over-rule the legal departments. They'll argue that the loss in sales is greater than the legal ramifications. After all, they've got 'no fault' and 'forced arbitration' baked into their end user agreements and terms of service. Consumers couldn't possibly hold them responsible for the financial loses incurred as the result of a hack. They don't have any legal requirement to actually protect your credit card data...

Back to the story. I had more than one Adobe account. I purchased more than one piece of software from Adobe... Kind of. Long ago I purchased some software (An early version of Dreamweaver) from a company called Macromedia. That company got bought out by Adobe, and all my information was transferred over to Adobe when the purchase was completed. I had completely forgotten about the Macromedia connection, until... I received another email from Adobe. In that email message, they admitted that someone had executed an attack on their network. That someone had obtained a bunch of data. They're writing to let me know that nothing bad actually happened? Here's what the email said:

Important Password Reset Information

As we announced on October 3, Adobe discovered sophisticated attacks on our network involving the illegal access and removal of a backup database containing Adobe IDs and encrypted passwords. We are writing to let you know that your Adobe ID was in the database taken by the attackers -- but, importantly, your current password was not . As a result, we did not reset your password. We have no reason to believe that your Adobe ID account is at risk or that there has been unauthorized activity on your account. The database taken by the attackers came from a backup system that contained many out-of-date records and was designated to be decommissioned. Adobe's authentication system of record, which cryptographically hashes and salts customer passwords, was not the source of the database that was taken.

However, if you use your old passwords on any other websites, you should change those passwords. We also recommend that you follow password best practices to help ensure your current password is secure:

  • Don't reuse passwords: Your password should be unique to your Adobe ID account. Don't reuse a password you have previously used with your Adobe ID or a password you are using on any other website.
  • Make sure your password is difficult to guess: Your password should be at least eight (8) characters in length. It should contain a mix of different character sets, such as upper case letters (A-Z), lower case letters (a-z), digits (0-9), and special characters (# $ % & - _ { }). It should not use all or part of your name or your Adobe ID.
We deeply regret any inconvenience this may cause you. We value the trust of our customers and are working aggressively to prevent these types of events from occurring in the future. If you have questions, you can learn more by visiting our Customer Care page, which you will find here.

Adobe Customer Care

According to Adobe, The attackers only took my Adobe ID? Yet they had access to encrypted passwords. How were the passwords encrypted? Exactly... There are huge differences in the ways in which passwords can be 'encrypted'. Hashed and salted doesn't really tell us much. Why didn't Adobe simply reset our passwords or lock us out of our accounts until we reset the passwords ourselves? According to Adobe, "if you use your old passwords on any other websites, you should change those passwords". In my opinion Adobe should have aired on the side of caution and simply suspended/disabled all the affected accounts. I've got the feeling that we haven't heard the last on this matter...

News Flash! According to the press: Adobe's email doesn't really provide much information. According to the press. This attack affects 38 million users (registered accounts). And, get this; the company is now saying that it appears that additional information was stolen. To include code for their Photoshop family of graphical design products. Oh my! Someone stole their source code! What Adobe announced on the 3rd of Oct, but didn't include in their email to me... The attackers stole the 'encrypted' credit card data from nearly 3 million customers - Damn! They had my credit card info. Now I'm really pissed off. I guess they didn't think it was important that I know whether my credit card info was stolen. After all the bank will cover me if there's any fraud. Right! What about damage to my credit score? What about the effort and work I will have to expend/perform in order to reset my password, change my account log in info, check my credit card statement, put a lock on my card, etc, etc?

Over the weekend (of 7/8 Oct, 2013) AnonNews.org posted a huge file called "users.tar.gz" - Apparently this is the list of user names and passwords (supposedly encrypted) that were stolen. The 3.8GB file contained more than 150 million usernames and passwords! So much for the originally reported 38 million users. Yes, I've already taken some actions. Like changing all my Adobe account details. Of course, so was everyone else. So it took me some time. At first I couldn't get into their site in order to change my login credentials. It took me more than a day to finally get in. After receiving the 3rd email from Adobe, I disabled the email address associated with the third compromised account. Yes I had three accounts with Adobe. Two of them had credit cards associated with them. I placed a fraud alert on my credit info with the three major bureaus. You can do that for free under some circumstances. Hopefully they'll notify me, or I'll spot any shenanigans with my credit card/credit info.
<http://www.theverge.com/2013/10/29/5042434/adobe-cyberattack-takes-38-million-passwords-photoshop-source-code>
<http://krebsonsecurity.com/2013/10/experian-sold-consumer-data-to-id-theft-service/>
<http://www.robsworld.org/adobehacked1.png>
<http://www.robsworld.org/adobehacked2.png>
<http://www.robsworld.org/adobehacked3.png>

MOGMOG acquired by Beats audio/ Update:
It's been a while since I wrote about MOG, but recent news spurs me to action. MOG is an online music service, a blog network, and a social networking website where users can listen to, read about, and discover music. Music + Blog = MOG. I've been enjoying MOG music service since October of 2010. <rave>In my opinion, it's an excellent streaming music service. Offering a huge variety (16 million+ songs as of Sep, 2012) of songs, I'm seldom disappointed by the variety. Given the fact that it started out featuring independent artists, it still has an excellent selection of my kind of music. It's available for free or pay. The service is available on numerous devices. I can access the MOG music service using a Mac specific app on my desktop computer, on my Squeezebox (a portable streaming device), or any of my Roku's scattered about the house. The only thing I don't pay for is the download capability for iPhone use. That's $9.99 a month, but I'm fine with the add free service for $4.99.</rave>

So what's the news? In July of 2012, Beats Electronics, LLC (Founded by hip-hop producer Andre "Dr. Dre" Young and Interscope-Geffen-A&M Records chairman Jimmy Iovine) bought MOG for $14 million. Beats bought MOG's music collection, but not it's blog and advertising network. The MOG Music Network (blog and advertising network) was sold to the radio and online media company Townsquare Media (in August of 2012) for a rumored amount of $10 million. So MOG has been sold; divided into two parts. This month I received email confirmation from MOG that Beats Music is due to launch in Jan of 2014. That means that the music collection will be moving over to Beats as the base of the new Beats music service. MOG likely won't survive long without that music base. It's possible, but unlikely, that MOG as a music service will survive until such time as Beats (as a music service) supplants every market where MOG was/is. In other words, if Beats begins operations in the U.K. MOG will cease to operate as a music service in that market. I've claimed my Beats username, but I don't know whether I'll be migrating over to the new Beats music service. I don't like some of the prices plans I've seen, and I still don't know what's going to happen to existing MOG customers. Will we be offered a special deal? The $4.99 monthly service is something I'd like to see, but it's a step back from the industry standard of $9.99 a month. In my opinion, this takeover is a perfect example of profit trumps service. I will miss the MOG music service. It did everything I wanted at a very low price.

MOG subscribers can play any song from the catalog (over 16 million tracks) on their computer (through their web browser or a Java powered desktop application). The music streams are 320 kbps mp3 files (very high quality (for an MP3)); on a mobile device (provided you pay $9.99 a month) through MOG's applications for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and Android platform; on your television/multi-media receiver, through MOG's Roku channel (included with the $4.99 service). MOG also allows users to access aggregated editorial content from thousands of music blogs, user posts, and in-house editors. Awesome!
<http://www.musicweek.com/news/read/remaining-half-of-mog-music-network-sells-to-townsquare-media-group/051510>
<https://mogsupport.zendesk.com/entries/22005906-How-many-total-tracks-are-available-at-MOG->
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MOG_(online_music)>
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beats_Electronics>
<https://mogsupport.zendesk.com/home>
<http://www.mog.com>

Word ErrorWord needs to close:
Any piece of software as large and complicated as Word for Mac is sure to have it's share of bugs and problems. Here's another instance where poor error reporting makes my life less than bliss. Microsoft's Word for Mac is one of those indispensable pieces of software that many Mac users are forced to install. When I say 'forced' I mean - they really don't have a choice - Work, business, even many educational institutions offer Mac owners no alternative. You will use Word, you must use Word. We use Word, you will use Word - No we don't care that you have a Mac. No we won't accept pdfs, are you out of your mind!? We don't care if you have an application that can read Word or output Word - You will use Word! Shut up Slave! Perhaps you've had a conversation that included some of those 'words'? So you buy Word, and you install it on your Mac. You cross your fingers and hope it will work. In my experience (for the most part) the new Office for Mac 2011 works pretty well. Except when there's an error. When Microsoft products encounter an error, they traditionally throw up an exception / error message that's difficult to interpret. Such as:

"Microsoft Word has encountered a problem and needs to close. We are sorry for the inconvenience".

<rant>This isn't exactly informative. The error message might as well say 'Error!' That would suffice in this instance. It's just another example of poor coding. I'm certain there must be something more informative that Microsoft could display. The error is repeatable. Every time I try to launch the application I'm getting this error. It's just another example of why I despise Microsoft applications. I'm forced to use them at work, and sometimes (in the case of Word and Excel) I'm forced to use them at home. At work the Microsoft OS and applications cause me numerous problems. The amount of productivity lost troubleshooting MS induced problems is unfathomable. When it happens at home I'm doubly troubled because it's an application I installed, and I can't get by without it because other people insist that I use the MS application... Very frustrating.</rant>

This error first occurred on the 3rd of Dec. After days of troubleshooting and research, I think I've found a solution. I had to completely remove Microsoft Office 2011 from my Mac. I had to print out the instructions - All five pages of instructions! To remove Office - Yes, you heard correctly; five pages of instructions to remove Office! That's insane. Does Microsoft realize how many pages of instructions it takes to remove a normal Mac application? Listen up Microsoft! 'Drag application to trash' There - you're done. That's the normal way to delete a Mac application. Yes - Drag application to trash. Not five pages worth of instructions, just four words. Daft - That's what Microsoft is. It actually takes five pages of instructions in order to remove Office from my computer. I can't simply delete Word either. It's so tightly wound up with all the other MS applications that I have to uninstall all of them. It actually took me 2.5 hours to uninstall Office.

Now that I've completed the troubleshooting, research, uninstall and reinstall of Office, Word is once again working. Now I have to do some updates. Why? Because the MS applications are so crappily designed that none of the updates came with my re-install (Apple has long since done away with the disk based downloads and updates. When you install or reinstall an application, you download it and get the latest version. All in one step. No need for disks followed by downloads). I have to re-install all the legacy updates that I had previously installed for this copy of Office.

  • I installed the new/updated version of MS Auto Update (version 2.3.6) first.
  • Followed by the MS Office for Mac 2011. The new version (14.1.0) took 'forever' to download. The update was only 247mb! but it took me more than 2 hours to download. I started the download at 1745 on the 6th of Dec, and it didn't finish until appx 1945. I don't know the exact time because I gave up watching after an hour. I did a download 'speed check' during the download - Not an optimal way to check your download speed. During the download I was getting 23.7mbps download speeds. At that speed (provided the MS server bandwidth was adequate) I should have downloaded the application in ~10.42 seconds!
  • After downloading the 14.1.0 update, I had to download another update. The Office 2011 for Mac 14.3.9 update weighed in at 113.7mb. That took another hour to download.

Office 2011 sucks<rant>All in all, Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac is a pain in the 'you know what', but social conventions require me to install and use it. I wish I didn't have to. Apple's Pages application satisfies all me needs in a Word processor/page layout application. Why can't people get over themselves and allow others to use whatever application gets the job done? If I have to write a paper and send it to you - so you can read it! - why should it matter what application I used to write the document? If I can send you a pdf and you can read it, why should it matter that it's not a 'Word' document? Really, your bank can't read PDFs? Seriously? Perhaps you're just a lemming who can't make decisions? Perhaps you're being forced by your IT staff or lame brained managers to tow the line? I feel sorry for you. It took me approximately 2 hours to troubleshoot and research the problem. After I located the proper resources (references), it took me 2.5 hours to uninstall Office, and another 4 hours to re-install Office. In total - 8.5 Hours of lost productivity for an error message that couldn't be corrected without a complete uninstall and reinstall. I sure hope it doesn't happen again - Although I'm betting it will. After all we are talking about a Microsoft product.

Imagine how many times this happens in a work environment. How much is 8.5 hours of lost productivity worth to your business? Multiply that by the number of employees that encounter this error. Imagine if it happens four time in a year. What is Office costing your company?</rant>
<https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/2693802>
<https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/2398768>
<http://www.robsworld.org/worderror.png>

Neighborhood WatchSoutheast Aurora Neighborhood Watch website:
I participate in some community focused events, but haven't found the time to serve on any boards, so I do what I can to help the people who live in my neighborhood. Volunteering with our local neighborhood watch, maintaining the Southeast Aurora Neighborhood Watch website and mailing lists. The South East Aurora Neighborhood Watch serves the residents of South East Aurora by providing information to resident and maintaining close ties with the local Police Department in order to help keep residents safe and neighborhoods crime free.

Recently I've decided that I will no longer post updates on Rob's World! regarding my Neighborhood Watch website. I will continue to update the website and support the Neighborhood Watch (providing email services, mailing lists, and other 'tech' support to tens of thousands of residents in the South East Aurora Neighborhood Watch area (Areas 26 and 27 of Aurora)) as their webmaster, a block captain and a deputy Area Coordinator for the Tollgate Crossing community. Posting the 'SEANW' updates to my Rob's World! blog (you're reading it now!) is part of the reason I'm falling behind. I'm updating the NW website, and then I'm blogging about it on my Rob's World! website. They aren't directly connected, so I'm going to stop with the blogging about it part. If there's a significant update or event in the Neighborhood Watch (including the website) then I'll blog about it. On the other hand, if I stop blogging about it on my Rob's World! website, I just might find some time to blog about other stuff - Stuff that's more pertinent to Rob's World!?

If you are a resident of Southeast Aurora, you might want to check out our Southeast Aurora Neighborhood Watch website (Serving the following communities: Tollgate Crossing, Sorrel Ranch, Wheatlands, Beacon Point, Southshore, Tallyn’s Reach, Saddle Rock - North, Serenity Ridge, Black Stone and Heritage Eagle Bend). If you're concerned about the safety and security of your community, you might want to join our group, or subscribe to one of our mailing lists to receive periodic alerts, updates and information.
<http://www.southeastaurora-neighborhoodwatch.org/eMail_lists_files/websiteandmailinglists.pdf>
<http://www.southeastaurora-neighborhoodwatch.org/Welcome.html>

iTunes ErrorsiTunes Errors Vex this Vaessen:
Any piece of software as large and complicated as iTunes is bound to have it's issues and problems. I'm sure I'm not the only person who's had or will have problems with this monstrous piece of software. Troubleshooting problems with iTunes is extremely difficult for a couple of reasons. One reason it's difficult is because of the bloat - iTunes does so many things. In the opinion of many (myself included), it does too many things. The software dates back to 1999 - It was originally conceived of as 'Jukebox' software (with it's adaptation from Soundjam). Unfortunately (in the eyes of some), it's grown so much over the years that it no longer does any one thing well, and by doing a mediocre job of doing many things it's making life miserable for those who have to troubleshoot problems with the software. Sure when it works properly it's great - because everything is located under one umbrella. You don't have to learn several different pieces of software. You don't have to purchase, download, install and run several different pieces of software in order to do everything. On the other hand... Well, I think you get the idea.

Lately, I've updated my computer, iTunes, my Mac OS, the SMB (File sharing protocol/software on the Mac) protocol, and the iOS operating system on my portable devices - More than once. There's been a lot of updates this year, and all those updates introduce new problems and sometimes they bring back old problems. This time I find myself facing a myriad of issues with my iTunes music collection. This time the problems revolve around the name of the iTunes music folder. Apple decided to change the name of the default 'media' folder. As iTunes changes from software focused on Music to software which encompasses all 'media'. As a result I had to change the name of my 'Music' folder to an 'iTunes Music' folder. I'm sure that's not politically correct - Apple wants me to call it an 'iTunes Media' folder but that can cause issues with other software - Namely, my Logitech Squeezebox Radio (Officially discontinued by Logitech - Thanks you big jerks!). The Squeezebox also looks at my 'music' collection, and it doesn't care if I've got movies and television shows jammed in there. It's content with the old name, but Apple isn't and now I've had to change the name of a folder that worked fine the way it was...

In changing the name of the folder, I had to reorganize the the folder on my 'Media Drive'. I don't keep my 'media' folder on my iMac. I keep it on a NAS (Networked Attached Server) so that other iTunes applications, my Apple TVs, my Logitech device, and my Roku can all see and share my music. Unfortunately, this external existence is something iTunes doesn't prefer. As a result, keeping your 'media' collection external to the device that runs the iTunes software. Troubleshooting any problems involving an external media collection can be complicated, and the additional issues of software as complicated as iTunes makes the problems bigger. In renaming the external directory, I found that iTunes no longer wanted to 'see' my 'media' folder. It took several hours of work to make iTunes behave. In the end I ended up losing many tracks. Thankfully I've got some back ups, and eMusic allowed me to re-download some tracks. In the end I managed to get it all working, but I'd be much happier if Apple would break this software up into several different applications. It sure would make troubleshooting much easier.
<http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/09/what-is-itunes-the-56-things-apples-behemoth-does/279831/>
<http://www.cnet.com/news/logitech-leaves-squeezebox-fans-wondering-whats-next/>
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Squeezebox_(network_music_player)>
<https://www.apple.com/support/itunes/>
<http://www.apple.com/itunes/>

Music CollectionDecember's Digital Downloads:
Here's a list of some of the music I recently acquired. Where do I get all this stuff? Well, I used to find/discover a lot of free (actually free) music by visiting several music web sites (Pandora, 3hive.com, musicalfamilytree.org) and music blogs (Analog Giant, Brooklyn Vegan, Fluxblog, Gorilla vs. Bear, etc), and listening to a few different music podcasts. Used to... Now? Now (As of Oct of 2010) I subscribe to an online music streaming service called MOG, and I've recently (as of Sep 2011) started using eMusic 'Radio' stations for music discovery. Combined together, these two services provide full-play access to more than 35 million tracks! (16m on MOG (as of Sep, 2012), >19m on eMusic (as of Aug 2013)) Two fantastic ways to discover music, and no need for illegal downloads or pirated tracks. I occasionally use a few of the other methods (music blogs and podcasts), but MOG now serves as my Primary Music Discovery source.

Artists want you to Hear their music - If you like it, you'll buy it, or maybe you'll buy some concert tickets. The major labels of the music industry want you to pay for their product. - letting you hear it for free is contrary to their business model. Well, guess what? I won't buy the music if I can't listen to it first, and no one listens to the radio anymore (I don't because of all the advertising, interruptions, lack of new music and lack of information - you can never figure out who/what is being played) The major labels are killing themselves with their restrictive distribution and dissemination policies. If you like new music, you can do a web search to find your favorite artists web site, a new music web site, or an archive of free music. Free music is available - Legally! Don't believe the propaganda of the major labels - Not all free music is illegal. You can legally download and listen to all sorts of music for free (Have you heard of Pandora, Audiolizer, Presto, Jango or GrooveShark?). I download (purchase) most of my music from a couple of commercial sources (eMusic and iTunes), but I occasionally download tracks (legally) from various websites, newsgroups and blogs in order to satisfy my craving for music.

Here's a listing of some of the music I legally downloaded - and paid for!

eMusic monthly downloads:
Every month I download ~50 tracks from eMusic.com. This month (Dec of 2013) I downloaded 53 tracks (from eMusic) at the low cost of $23.38... I'm paying a $19.99 monthly fee, so that makes the tracks even cheaper (~$0.38 / track). Unlike some music outlets, eMusic doesn't have any DRM and they don't insert unique track id's into the ID3 tags. Their terms of service are consumer friendly. eMusic allows you to burn as many CDs as you like and copy downloads to an unlimited number of your computers and portable MP3 players. At less than $.50 a track (I'm currently paying $19.99 for $22.99 worth of downloads per month (Note: As of Feb, 2013, you no longer have to be a member/subscriber to access the site or buy music, and the membership prices (per album) are compared to the non-member prices right up front)). eMusic offers a really good value for your download dollar. iTunes and Amazon still charge more. eMusic offers more music for your money, and the variable bit rate recordings make for exceptionally high quality recordings. If you still want your own copies of the music, check out eMusic.

* Trans-Continental Hustle - Gogol Bordello: (13 songs) Gogol Bordello is an acquired taste, an oddball in the world of Alternative. Their upbeat accordion music combined with biting lyrics and old-world European flavor make for a band that exemplifies a celebration of life without the need for synthesizers and digital. I can just imagine the plates smashing as the crescendo rises. This album just increases my desire to hear more of their sound. First discovered through the MOG music discovery service (back in Jan, 2011).
* Live - Get Out of It!!: (18 songs) Discovered by listening to MOG music recommendations. Here's some good ol-fashioned Punk for ya! One of the early Punk bands that emerged from England in the late 70s. Here was a band full of angst, anti-establishment anthems, political diatribe and pounding instrumentals. The tracks are laced with numerous influences - hard rock, dub, reggae, punk, and more. Unfortunately the bands lead singer (Malcolm Owen) overdosed on Heroin, ending the bands prospects for future greatness. The raw power of this album exemplifies the power encapsulated within the early punk scene of the late 70s and early 80s.
* React - The Fixx: (13 tracks) Here's a live album - The first official live album from this British New Wave sensation. This live album was originally released in 1987, and I owned a casette version of that release. I don't know what happened to the casette, but I recently rediscovered the release on eMusic. Recorded during two concerts in Canada (during 1986), the band's performance live wasn't quite as good as the studio recordings. Thankfully this collection includes some of the band's best songs. The keyboard driven pop was always a hit with the college crowd and I too added it to my collection. This album has rekindled my interest in the band, I'll have to see what else I can find.
* Summer of Indifference - Black Wine: (9 songs) Discovered by listening to Don Giovani label sampler (free from eMusic). Here's a band that seems to have re-discovered punk rock; or at least some part of it. The instrumentals are powerful, unpretentious and exploding. The bass is deep and pounding, layered over speed-metal guitar riffs. The lyrics are stacked over the instrumentals, but its clear that they're not the star in this band's repertoire.

These are some of the items I added to my music collection during this month. Since revamping my music collection back in September of 2005, I've been slowly adding, revising and updating the collection. If you have a comment, question or correction regarding my music collection, please don't hesitate to send me an email. Please keep in mind that my collection isn't for sale, and I'm not interested in giving you any copyrighted materials. I'd rather not go to jail for music piracy. :-)
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_on-demand_streaming_music_services>
<http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/2008/07/emusic-lets-the.html>
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MOG_(online_music)>
<http://www.robsworld.org/music.html>
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emusic>