January 31, 2013

Software favorites:
More updates to one of my favorite software application. GraphicConverter moves ever forward. As usual, developer has been busy updating this application. over the last week Thorsten released a handful of updates for the product that's always getting better. 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 couple of beta releases over the last week. I recently saw/downloaded the following updates: 8.5.2 (b1136). 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 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, this photo editor puts a huge wrench in your toolbox.
<http://www.lemkesoft.com/content/162/new-functions-and-versions.html>

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>

DangerRob's World! outage:
Recently (31st of January, 2013), Rob's World! and all the other websites I manage (tollgatecrossing.org, southeastaurora-neighborhoodwatch.org, damnspammers.org) went offline. An unexpected, unannounced and unreported outage. The server that hosts all my domains (a shared server) went offline (according to one visitor) at appx midnight on the 30th. I noticed the outage at 0400MST on the 31st. I was getting ready for work and checked my email as I always do. I couldn't connect to the "Rob's World!" email servers, so I checked the websites as well. Both were down. All my web pages/services were off line.

Investigating this issue soon revealed the full extent of the problem. None of my web pages/sites would load. I checked connectivity using a couple of different services (different DNS gateways) just to make sure it wasn't a problem with my ISP/DNS resolution. After confirming that the web sites were unreachable, I attempted to call 'Host Rocket' customer service. Unfortunately, no one answered the phone. It just kept ringing… That kind of made me realize that they might be working on correcting a problem, or talking to someone else.

I found their support portal (webpage) available, so I submitted a trouble ticket. Thankfully, someone saw my report. Thankfully someone worked on the problem. …That didn't take to long. By 0600 all my services were back on line. Here's a response from the customer support staff.

"Hi, Your server was being worked on, however it's coming back up right now. If you need anything else please let us know. Thank you for using HostRocket! -Don Schneider HostRocket Support"

Rob's World! (all my domains/web pages) was down for approximately six hours (0001-0600MST), and my webhost knew about the outage. Everything was up and running quickly, and they responded quickly to my trouble ticket. The support and level of responsiveness has gotten better since I signed up with this new webhost. Hopefully it'll continue to improve.
<http://www.webhostingjungle.com/hostrocket/index.shtml>
<http://www.hostrocket.com/support.html>
<http://www.hostrocket.com>

Dish Network SucksDish Network Sucks!
<rant>I'm not the only one who thinks that Dish Network sucks. Check it out. Do a search on "Dish Network Sucks", you'll find many links to like minded people. It's so bad in fact that someone has even gone so far as to register the domain name: dishnetworksucks.com. Do a Google search on "Dish Network Sucks" - When I did (10 Feb 2013), Google returned > 69,000 hits. My experience with dish network started when I decided to provide some satellite TV for my mother. She lives out in the woods (the north woods of North-Eastern Wisconsin, and there's no cable provider in range of her home. So, I thought I'd be a good son and sign her up for some satellite TV. Well, answering an add in the newspaper, I ended up getting a completely different package than the one that I thought I was getting. The reseller (Enjoy Better TV) made it sound good in the newspaper, but the reality was really something else. I didn't get the number of channels I thought I was getting. I didn't realize I was dealing with a reseller until later (when I noticed that things weren't what I expected). I didn't realize all the 'Hidden' conditions, fees, and restrictions until after they installed the equipment at my mom's place.

I've written about Dish Network in the past, but a recent incident has once again invoked my ire. Why does Dish Network suck so badly (in my opinion)? I've had nothing but problems since I signed up. The service is for my mother. I had Dish installed at her house. She lives way out in the woods, and without some sort of pay service, she wouldn't have any TV. So much for the 'Digital TV' transition. It transitioned me right into a monthly recurring charge. If I had to rate the things I hate in life on a scale of 1 - 10, Dish Network would rate up there as number 2 - Right after 'Paying my taxes'. Since signing up in 2008, the price of my 'basic' service has risen from appx $25.00 to more than $50.00 for the same 'basic' service. Their customer service Blows! Every time I have to call them my blood pressure goes through the roof. I wonder if anyone has sued them for 'Emotional Distress'? I'd like to dump them, but I doubt that Direct TV would be any better. I usually have to deal with the Dish 'Customer Service' two or three times a year. I dread the occasions when I have to call them, but it's inevitable. They're going to screw something up - It's a guaranteed fact of life. My billing, my service, the hardware - It's always something. I really wish there was some kind of competition in this industry. What other choice do I have? My mother lives in a very remote region, and cable is out of the question. She's too far from the HD broadcast facilities, so she can't get the broadcast signal, and you can't watch TV over telephone dial-up. My only other choice is another satellite provider, but I truly can't imagine another service being any better.

The latest incident involved their pricing. After struggling for months to have a DVR removed from her home, I finally managed to get rid of that piece of equipment. It's been costing me $7.00 a month to have a DVR in my mother's home. She's never used it. Doesn't know how to use it, isn't interested in using it, and really didn't want it in her home. Not only has it been costing me $7.00 a month, it's been costing my mother as well. Keeping it plugged in and powered up 24 hours a day costs money. That's right, on a fixed income (my mother's income), any device that requires 24/7 power is a drain on one's budget. She wanted it gone, I wanted it gone, Dish network wanted us to keep it. Yes, even after I told them I didn't want it anymore, they tried to convince me that it was a good idea. I could use it to record programs and even skip commercials. Apparently they weren't listening when I told them to remove it. Eventually I got my way (after a month of their shipping screw-ups).

So two months went by without the DVR. I managed to save $14.00, and my mother saved some money on her electricity bill. She still has a 'receiver' in place of the DVR, but the receiver takes less electricity than the DVR did. After two months of marginal savings, Dish Network announced their new pricing for 2013. Guess what? They're raising our the programming prices. Why? Well, it's due to inflation. Of course it is. What about worker wages? Any close examination of wages (in the U.S.) vs inflation will quickly reveal the fact that wages are no longer keeping up with inflation. Your 2.8% raise doesn't actually matter much when inflation rises 5%. The good news? If you own stock, if you're wealthy enough to have lots of stocks. If you're part of the 1% - Corporate profits are up again. Record profits yet again. Corporations are the big winners once again. Now that January of 2013 has arrived, Dish Network has announced their new prices. What does that mean for us wage slaves? $5.00 more per month. The basic Dish programming plan has increased $5.00. What used to cost $24.99 now costs $29.99. That's a 'modest' 20% increase. Hmm, that seems to more than cover the 2.1% increase seen during 2012. According to Dish spokesman John Hall said Dish "is introducing the 'modest' hikes because of significant increases in programming costs." "As an industry we have seen [rate] increases in double-digit percentages". While Dish hasn't raised prices in over two years, the amount of inflation over those two years in no way accounts for the 20% increase seen in January of 2013. The only explanation? Well, haven't you heard? Corporate profits are up. A downturn in the economy is the perfect time to squeeze consumers.

Lest you forget... The reason why they didn't raise their rates for two years? Oh yeah, that detail. They were ordered by a court (as part of a class action settlement) not to raise their prices for two years. If only my mother didn't live so far from the HD broadcast antennas. Oh how I hate Dish Network!</rant>
<http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2012/10/16/price-increases-outstripped-wage-growth-in-september>
<http://www.ripoffreport.com/satellite-companies/dish-network/dish-network-echostar-satellit-cfdyf.htm>
<http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2012-12-10/mysterious-case-americas-negative-real-wage-growth>
<http://www.cohenmilstein.com/cases/273/dish-network-class-action-lawsuit>
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dish_Network>

USAAUSAA is Awesome:
<rave>It's not often that you get a good feeling about your insurance company (unless your insurance company is USAA!). After Super Storm Sandy (SSS), the news briefly focused on the issue of home owners insurance. There were stories of insurance companies refusing to honor policies. Sad stories that typically began with the words "Not Covered". A lot of people and businesses discovered the fact that there's a difference between a 'Hurricane' and a 'Super Storm'. According to some news stories, we can all expect our insurance rates to rise. The talking heads on the news are always eager to bring you speculative bad news. I even heard a few friends bemoaning their fate in the aftermath of SSS. A few even claimed that their rates have already gone up.

I typically don't believe what I hear on the news (normal broadcast television news programs), but the tendency of for profit insurance companies to use any large scale disaster as an excuse for an across the board increase in rates wouldn't surprise me in the least. The reason these for profit insurance companies exist? To make a profit - You thought they existed to help homeowners? Come on, get real. "For Profit Corporation" is pretty much all you need to know. Anything that hurts a corporations bottom line is to be avoided at all costs. Insurance claims? Well, we have to say "No" because that would hurt our bottom line. Kim and I were a bit concerned, so we called our insurance agent.

We knew that our home owners policy was coming due in Feb, so we made a phone call to the folks who insure our property. The USAA agent who answered the phone was courteous and helpful. When I asked him if our rates were going to rise in February he said "Yes", but it hasn't got anything to do with SSS. It's because your home is worth more now. The housing market in Colorado has been heating up. As of January, 2013, the value of homes in Colorado has risen ~7.9% year-over-year. So, our home is worth more now than it was a year ago. That's good news. As a result our home owners insurance rates are going to go up... Our insurance agent wasn't willing to end the conversation there, he helped us find a way to lower our rates without reducing our coverage.

The agent went over all the typical questions, but then he started asking about our yard. Do we have a deck? No. Do we have any outbuildings? No. Do we have a pool? No, a hot tub? No. Any sort of outbuildings or improvements outside the house? No. It's just a yard with a fence around it. Some shrubs, a few boulders, lawn and an irrigation system (sprinklers). O.k. Typical home owner coverage includes coverage for out-buildings and improvements outside the house. The valued covered for property outside the house is 1/3 the value of the home, but we don't have anything that would necessitate that level of coverage. By reducing the coverage for property outside the house we were able to reduce our rates significantly. We reduced the rates so much that USAA would have to send us a discount on the remainder of our current policy and our next policy would actually cost less than our current coverage. That's great! Who would have thought that an insurance agent would help us reduce our rates.

USAA is an insurance company and a bank (United Services Automobile Association). It is 'NOT' a publicly traded company. It's an 'Association', the members are the 'owners'. It doesn't answer to 'stockholders', it answers to it's members. Military members and their families (past and present) constitute the membership. The company suggests products and services, but the members get to vote on all the big changes and decisions. They're focused on products and services which help members meet their financial needs, not services that generate the most income for the company.

This is one of the best companies I've ever done business with. I've never been steered wrong, wronged or misled by USAA. Their service has always been the best. I can't imagine another company which treats it's members like owners, always looks out for the interests of it's members, and doesn't seek to screw those it serves. If you know a company as forthright, honest, and responsive, please share it with me.</rave>
<http://www.mynewmarkets.com/articles/181203/superstorm-sandy-to-affect-property-insurance-pricing>
<http://www.bankrate.com/finance/insurance/will-sandy-boost-us-home-insurance-rates.aspx>
<http://www.psfinc.com/press/superstorm-sandys-insurance-considerations-briefly>
<http://www.zillow.com/local-info/CO-home-value/r_10/>
<https://www.usaa.com/inet/pages/about_usaa>

AppleTV updateAppleTV (2nd & 3rd gen) update:
On Monday (28 Jan, 2013), Apple released an AppleTV Software Update (version 5.2) Released in conjunction with the iOS 6.1 update. In April of 2012, I bought one of the new (3nd Generation) AppleTVs. It was my third AppleTV, and the first to have absolutely no problems with installation and network integration. I plugged it in, followed the onscreen instructions, and it just started working. Every iteration of this product is a marked improvement over the previous version, and this 3rd generation product tops out with absolutely no problems so far. Since that purchase, I've purchased a second 3rd gen AppleTV. I now have four AppleTVs. I've boxed up that old 1st gen AppleTV, and it awaits an uncertain fate in a cardboard box. Maybe a garage sale will give it a second chance?

This new software update (Apple TV Software Update 5.2) is delivered in conjunction with the iOS 6.1 update. This update brings a handful of security updates and a few new features:

  • iTunes in the Cloud update allows you to browse and play your purchased iTunes music directly from iCloud (only in the U.S. at release).
  • Bluetooth keyboard capability. Use a wireless keyboard to control your Apple TV. An awesome feature that I've already tested. I have a Logitech Solar Keyboard (model K760) which works perfectly with the Apple TVs new capability. The K760 has the ability to control up to three different devices. I've got it paired with my AppleTV, my iPad and my iPhone. It sure makes things much easier. With a bluetooth keyboard, my iDevices are much more productive. I can type on a physical keyboard far faster than a virtual/soft keyboard. Entering passwords has never been easier. Searching for videos on YouTube is a snap.
  • AirPlay audio for videos. This capability allows you to send stereo audio from movies, TV shows, and other videos playing on an Apple TV to any AirPlay-enabled speakers and devices (including AirPort Express and other Apple TVs). If your AppleTV isn't routed through a receiver (with better stereo/speaker capability), this capability may improve your audio experience.
  • Finally, there's the standard 'stability and performance' improvements.

It's a close call, but I now consider the AppleTV to be the superior set top streaming box. Slightly edging out the Roku player, I find the overall AppleTV experience (primarily the user interface) superior to that of the Roku player. If you want variety in choices, chose the Roku over the AppleTV. Having both gives me the best of both worlds. If only Apple would add more channel choices - like Amazon video!
<http://www.robsworld.org/appletvupdate_jan28_2013.jpg>
<http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1600>
<http://www.apple.com/appletv/>

iOS 6.1iOS 6.1 released:
Apple's iOS 6.1 was released on the 28th of January, the changes listed in Apple's download announcement are quite slim, but it's a bigger update than one would expect for so few updates. Weighing in at 107Mb, the update brings a few feature updates and plenty of patches to cover some security flaws. Finally, as is typical with every OS update from Apple; this update 'contains improvements and bug fixes' for all your iDevices (iPhone 3GS and later; iPad 2 and later; iPod touch 4th generation and later). Here's a brief recap of some of the updates/patches:

  • Enhances support for the 'Up Next' feature in iTunes 11 and iTunes in the Cloud.
  • Adds support for Bluetooth keyboards. Adds support? I was already able to use a Bluetooth keyboard with my iPad and iPhone. Perhaps they mean that they've 'improved' Bluetooth keyboard support. I'll have to test that out.
  • Since iOS 6 also powers the Apple TV, the Bluetooth keyboard capability in iOS 6 will likely be ported over to the AppleTV in an upcoming update
  • Adds the ability to buy tickets (via Fandango) using Siri. You'll need to have the 'Fandango' app installed to make this feature work (in the U.S. only at this time).
  • Improves upon error reporting in the Apple Maps application. The new 'Report a problem' button allows users to submit corrections directly to Apple.
  • Developers can use Apple Maps to find venues. I'm not sure what this means, but Apple's Maps app can certainly use some improvements.
  • Music control buttons that pop up on the lock screen (double click the 'home' button while iDevice is locked) are spaced out for easier control.
  • You can now download iTunes music over a cellular data connection. Hmmm, I thought you could already do that? After a little research, I discovered that you could, but the controls were broken. They didn't function properly. Perhaps this is a bug fix.
  • Improves security in iCloud enabled applications/functions.
  • Several bug fixes.

By the time you read this (unless you're a time traveler on the wrong track), you should be able to download the iOS 6.1 update for all your iDevices.
<http://support.apple.com/kb/HT5642>
<http://support.apple.com/kb/DL1624>
<http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1222>

January 25, 2013

No SpamScam? Not a Scam!
With all the scams floating around the internet and arriving by way of email and USPS, it's sometimes difficult to tell when you're about to fall for a scam. I'm not immune to scam, but a healthy case of skepticism can help you avoid the scams. In this case, I thought I was being baited by a scammer. As it turns out, I wasn't. It was legitimate, but who would have believed that it was real? Strap in for the long and complicated story of how Rob thought he was being targeted by a U.S. based 419 scheme.

The 'Scam' started back in July of 2013. I received an envelope from HSBC bank. The envelope looked legitimate, but the contents smelled a bit 'fishy'. The letter was written in ALL CAPS, and I couldn't remember ever having a bank account with HSBC. The letter claimed that the HSBC bank owed me $62.50.

"DEAR CUSTOMER, WE ADVISE THAT HSBC IS HOLDING FUNDS APPARENTLY PAYABLE TO YOU. UNDER THE ABANDONED PROPERTY LAWS OF THE VARIOUS STATES, OUTSTANDING CHECKS OR OTHER PAYMENTS THAT HAVE NOT CLEARED OR THAT HAVE NOT BEEN POSTED ARE CONSIDERED ABANDONED AND PAYABLE (ESCHEATABLE) TO THE STATE WHERE THE CUSTOMER RESIDES."

After some recollection - Now we're reaching back into the distant past... Back in 1996, Kim and lived in Sugar Grove, WV. We lived near a BP gas station and we applied for and received a BP gas card. This card was financed through HSBC. In 2007, after many years of use, we closed our HSBC/BP account/card. When we closed our account/cancelled our card, we were current on payments, there were no outstanding charges, and we had a zero balance. According to all my credit reports (According to an Experian credit report) our account was Paid, Closed, and never Late.

As far as I knew (in 2007 when I closed the account). We owed nothing on the card, and the account had been closed in good standing. So why would we be getting a letter four years later, claiming that HSBC owed us $62.50? In addition, the letter referenced an account number that didn't correspond to our BP card/HSBC account, I couldn't find any reference online to the person who signed the letter. The person didn't include a phone number or email address for contact, so I couldn't contact them directly. I called HSBC, and they (I ended up in contact with a call center in India) seemed completely unable to help me in any way. As we had closed that card back in 2007, I didn't believe this letter was legitimate. I believed we had a zero balance, and there was no reason to suspect that the bank owed us anything. There were things in the text of the letter that led me to believe that it may be an attempt to ensnare me in some sort of fraudulent activity. I saved the envelope and letter and reported the instance as possible fraud to the USPS (date Aug 5, 2011). I never heard back from the USPS, and HSBC never contacted me again.

I thought that was the end of that episode, until... Flash forward to Sep of 2012.

In September of 2012, I happened to check the 'UnclaimedMoney.com' website and Colorado's Office of the State Treasurer. I conducted a few searches and found that old claim by HSBC. Apparently, the bank actually did owe me money, and they reported that money to the government. <http://www.colorado.gov/treasury/gcp/> According to the Colorado State website, I could claim my money by filling out some forms and providing proof of my identity and address. I filled out the required paperwork, attached the required documentation, copied everything, wrote a memo for record, and mailed off my paperwork to the state of Colorado. I was quite optimistic when I thought I might get my money in a few weeks... On the 2nd of November, 2012, I received a postcard in the mail. Dated 2 Nov, the postcard came from the Colorado Dept. of the Treasury. According to this postcard

"Our office is experiencing a high volume of inquiries and claims; your claim may take 12 – 15 weeks to be completed. Time frames are approximate and may fluctuate depending on volume and workload. You can check the status of your claim by visiting our website at www.greatcopayback.com"

So much for a speedy process... On the 24th of January, 2013, I received a check in the mail. Dated 23 Jan, 2013, the envelope contained a check from the State of Colorado - Department of the Treasury. After thoroughly examining the check, I'm convinced that it's legitimate. So, the original letter from HSBC (which looked like a scam) was legitimate. Maybe they intentionally outsourced this part of their operation to Mognoblia? Maybe they're hoping that people will think it's a scam? The money would end up in State control, and the funds might never be collected? I wouldn't doubt it one bit.

I took the $62.50 check to the bank and cashed it. Hopefully that's the last I'll hear from HSBC bank. One thing I know for sure. I will never willingly do business with HSBC bank. If you do a quick search on the internet; search for 'HSBC Sucks', you'll quickly come to the conclusion that the bank is far from the best in their field.
<http://www.us.hsbc.com/1/2/home/personal-banking>
<http://www.robsworld.org/redactedcheck.png>
<http://www.robsworld.org/hsbcletter.png>
<http://www.colorado.gov/treasury/gcp/>
<http://www.unclaimedmoney.com>
<http://www.hsbc-sux.com>

No SpamStupid Spammers:
Some spammers are just plain stupid. eMail from spammers is almost always easy to spot (due to their unfamiliarity with the English language and proper English/American grammar). Sometimes it's laughable, sometimes it's downright 'Stupid'. Sometimes it's pure 'genius' as in 'evil-genius'; that's the case this month. I recently received an email from the management of ECO Bank. Presumably this is Ecobank of Nigeria. One of the commercial banks licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria, the national banking regulator. Apparently the ECO Bank management doesn't have their own email service, because this email came From: a Chinese Yahoo account...

So why do I consider this particular spam to be 'evil-genius'? Well, in reading the email, I found that they are targeting the victims of Nigerian 419 scams. That's right, they've targeted a proven victim. Someone who's already exhibited a high degree of gullibility and lack of common sense. It's a small audience (or is it?), but it's already proven itself to be gullible beyond belief. Easy marks that are sure to fall for this ridiculous spam campaign. Here's a small excerpt from the spammer's email message:

This is to bring to your notice that we are delegated from the UNITED NATIONS in Central Bank to pay 150 victims of scam $950,000.00USD. (Nine hundred And Fifty Thousand United States Dollars Only each).You are listed and approved for this payment as one of the scammed victims to be paid this amount,get back to this office as soon as possible for the immediate payments of your $95O,000.00USD. compensations funds.

Aside from the preposterous premise that the UN is working to compensate Nigerian 419 victims, we're also let to believe that ECO bank is going to pay out $950,000.00 to each of 150 victims. That's awesome. I wonder how they came up with that magic number? I think I'll hold out until they offer more compensation - Those damn 419 scammers took all my money, they should pay! The letter then goes on to assure you that the corruption of the Nigerian banking system will be offset by British oversight in order to pay out the UN funds to the victims of scams. All you need to do is provide the following information:

1) Your full name. (because they obviously don't know who you are...)
2) Phone, fax and mobile Phone #. (so they can contact you at any time of day...)
3) Company name, position and address. (so they will have some idea of how much money they can scam from you...)
4) Profession, age and marital status. (so they can effectively steal your identity...)

In closing the email, the spammer once again reassures all victims: "We shall feed you with further modalities as soon as we get response from you on how you intend receiving your compensation payment." I'm not sure but this may be one of the most awesome scam emails yet. You have to hand it to the spammer who thought this one up. What a perfect target for a 419 scam. Only the people who've fallen for it once could guarantee a second round of victimization. Note: Just in case your slightly confused about all this '419' stuff - If someone from Nigeria offers to give you money, your first reaction should be - Is this a scam? The answer - in 99.99% of the cases is "Yes".
<http://www.robsworld.org/index2.html#fightingspam>
<http://www.robsworld.org/evilgiusspammer.png>
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nigerian_scam>
<http://www.robsworld.org/whybother.html>
<http://www.damnspammers.com/>
<http://www.419baiter.com>

No SpamIPv6 and Spam via Comcast network:
During December of 2012, I reported on a disturbing new spam trend that I've noticed. Spam sent using IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6) instead of IPv4. In order to route traffic around the internet, computers use an addressing protocol called IP. IPv4 has been around since approximately 1981, and it's been the workhorse that allowed us to build the internet from a peer to peer bulletin board model into a multi-user, multi-access web of sites, email, voice, and data. The World-Wide-Web and all the e-Commerce built upon the internet wouldn't have been possible without IPv4. Unfortunately, it's running out of room. Due to the way that IPv4 addressing works (32-bit address), the maximum number of address it can express is 2^32 (4,294,967,296). When IPv4 was implemented, most experts believed that we would never need more than 4 billion internet addresses. With everything and everyone having more than one IP address, we've quickly used up all the IPv4 addresses, and now it's time to move up to IPv6.

My personal experience (so far) with IPv6 spam is currently confined to the Comcast network. It appears that the Cloudmark servers (used by Comcast and other companies (mostly businesses)) are incapable of filtering out the IPv6 spam. During the month of December, 2012, I saw the arrival (had some before that but only a few pieces) of IPv6 spam in a big way. During the month of Dec, 2012, this IPv6 spam accounted for 34% of my total spam intake. The amount was increasing. In Nov of 2012, IPv6 spam accounted for less than 10% of my overall spam. By the 21st of Jan, 2013, the amount of IPv6 spam had increased to 39% of my total spam intake. Not only was IPv6 spam accounting for a larger amount of my total spam volume, it was also responsible for an increase in the total volume. Total spam increased by 48% during the month of December, and that month racked up the largest amount of spam during the entire year. It was clearly time to do something. I was reporting this spam using 'Knujon.com' as 'Spamcop.net' has no way to parse the IPv6 headers (and refuses delivery of reports w/IPv6 headers). Unfortunately, based on a recent report from 'Knujon.com', it became apparent that the providers responsible for the IPv6 spam were not getting reported by 'Knujon.com', Comcast or SpamCop. Currently, this IPv6 spam just isn't being recognized by any of the big names, and none of them are talking about it. I'm betting that they're ignoring the problem because they don't know what to do about it. If they had a plan, they would have told us about it. Since they don't have a plan, they're ignoring it, and hoping it'll go away? Yeah, right; like spam is simply going to go away.

Well, I can't sit around waiting for these big ISPs/Service Providers to do something about it. I decided (in mid Jan, 2013), that I needed to do something. Thankfully the only ISP where I'm seeing this IPv6 spam is Comcast/Xfinity. Since I don't use my @comcast.net email address that often, I decided to take a drastic measure. I implemented a challenge response measure. While Comcast doesn't offer a standard 'Challenge Response' solution, they do offer an 'Auto Response' option. I turned on the 'Auto Response' feature, and crafted an email response that addresses this particular problem. When a person sends an email to one of my @comcast.net addresses (I've got a couple), they will receive a tersely worded auto-response:

"Due to the fact that Comcast/Xfinity has turned on (as of June 2011?) IPv6 routing (for email), I've seen (since November of 2012) a huge increase in IPv6 routed spam (which Comcast's Cloudmark Anti-spam service can't block). Unfortunately, this development has forced me to enable this ad-hoc 'challenge-response' measure. If you are a spammer - go away. If you are a real person, send your email to comcast-redirect X damnspammers X com (replace X with appropriate symbol/character). I apologize to any humans (not spammers) who are inconvenienced by this measure."

In order to prevent problems with certain automated email announcements (from Comcast) and some of my correspondents, I also created a whitelist and added a few email addresses to that list. I'll also update the white list if other humans (not spammers) decide to respond to my 'auto-responder' by sending email to my @comcast.net email addresses. This method is working (so far), the IPv6 spam has stopped, but I'm still getting email from Comcast. While some might consider that spam, it isn't anywhere as annoying as the fake pharma crap I was getting every single day. I've had quite a few problems with this ad-hoc challenge response technique, so I hope it continues to server as an ad-hoc measure.

Now that some spammers have shown their willingness/ability to use IPv6, others will follow. Currently (as far as I can tell) there is no solution to this problem. The problem (spam w/IPv6 headers) is going to get a lot worse. Get ready for the deluge. The war for your inbox is back on, and the ISPs are back to square one in this battle. It isn't going to be pretty. If you've got access to a 'Challenge-Response' filter (such as 'Boxtrapper'), I suggest you enable it (if possible). Unfortunately, not everyone has access to such a system, and some cannot use them due to practical restrictions. I'm really surprised that there isn't a business model to deal with this issue. IPv6 has been a standard for more than 10 years, and now the ISPs are beginning to roll it out as a live feature. Someone (like Cloudmark or Barracuda) needs to get ahead of this problem. Umm, the fact that I'm saying 'get ahead' is a bad sign. A bad sign indeed. Given the available number of unique IP addresses under IPv6, Spammers could effectively use a unique IP address with every email they send, that would be devastating (to any standard anti-spam filtering/measures). A standard 'blacklisting' approach simply won't work. By the time an IP address is identified as a bad actor, and replicated to various blacklisting servers (and the email servers that subscribe to those services) it would be too late. The spammer will simply use a new IP address the next time it sends a spam message.

While a list of billions (under IPv4) is manageable, it takes up room (storage space) and some effort to maintain. A similar approach with IPv6 simply isn't feasible. Where would you store a blacklist with 100 octillion IP addresses? (One IPv6 address requires 128 bits of storage, 100 octillion x 128 = 12.5 nonillion bytes. Currently, all the storage space on earth doesn't amount to more than 3ZB (Zettabyte = 10^21 bytes of storage). 12.5 nonillion bytes would require more than 999 Yottabytes (Yottabyte = 10^24 bytes) of storage. There isn't that much storage space on the entire planet (as of Dec, 2012), and we're only talking about IP addresses! How could you manage the reporting, filtering and replication of the increasingly larger and larger blacklists? This is going to be a BIG problem! (FYI: I make no guarantees regarding the accuracy of the numbers above. If you'd like to correct me feel free. I used Wikipedia and Wolfram Alpha extensively in coming up with these numbers).

If you ever need any help hunting down a spammer, don't hesitate to ask for my help. I'm willing and eager to help (IPv6 spam is currently a challenge beyond my capabilities). Just drop me an email. I'd put the email address here, but this email message is also posted online, where spammers could scrape the email off the web page. Damn those spammers!
<http://www.cloudmark.com/en/whitepapers/smtp-abuse-prevention-in-ipv6-networks>
<http://docs.cpanel.net/twiki/bin/view/AllDocumentation/CpanelDocs/BoxTrapper>
<http://mailman.nanog.org/pipermail/nanog/2012-June/048755.html>
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Challenge-response_spam_filtering>
<http://www.robsworld.org/index2.html#fightingspam>
<http://www.robsworld.org/ipv6spamsample.pdf>
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPv6_deployment>
<http://ipv6friday.org/blog/2012/10/ipv6-spam/>
<http://www.robsworld.org/whybother.html>
<http://www.damnspammers.com>
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPv6>
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPv4>
<http://www.spamcop.net>
<http://www.knujon.com>

D&D iconD&D updates:
The updates below covers our most recent meeting - January 19th, 2013. This most recent meeting saw some disturbing developments. One of the characters died! Allurean was the latest victim of poorly timed circumstances. She fell in battle while the party was battling a group of dangerous creatures known as 'The Gygax' (more on that later - after I receive a journal update). While battling these creatures, the party inadvertently activated a very powerful Stone Golem. During the battle, Allurean happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. With Todd's character gone, Chartruz (her familiar) left the group. That's not the only development. With the demise of Todd's character, Todd has decided to take a leave from our group. We currently don't know if or when he'll be back, but we'll certainly miss him. Todd wasn't the only player to step away from our table during the last session. Lee also informed us that he would also be leaving the group. Another loss that we'll have to cope with. Lee & Todd are both long time players in our campaign (since 2007). Their sudden departure from our campaign leaves us with three empty chairs to fill, and a hollow spot in our hearts. Hopefully we'll see them back at our table in the future, until then... It's time to game on! I've already plastered the 'InterWebs' with announcements of our open spots, so hopefully we can recruit some new players in the near future.

3rd Edition Campaign:
I updated the date of our next meeting - Our next meeting will take place on the 2nd of February, 2013. The next date isn't the only change to this page. In a spurt of creative energy, I created (using Art Text 2) a new banner for the page. I hope you enjoy it, and I hope the players enjoy their new T-Shirts emblazoned with the new logo! That's right - After creating the new logo, I showed it to the group. Everyone was so impressed with the design that I decided to purchase some T-Shirts from "uberprints.com". With all our year ending vacations over, our game should return to regularly scheduled meetings in the coming months. The "3eCampaign" page is the first stop for information on the campaign that I'm currently running. Here you'll find information regarding our next meeting, some notes, and an index of web pages and documents that are important to our campaign. You can also check out the latest group photo. - FYI: We're looking for one additional player to join our campaign. If you think what you've got to be a 'Hallowed Knight' send me an email.
<http://www.robsworld.org/3ecampaign.html>
<http://www.robsworld.org/3ecampaignheader.png>
<http://www.robsworld.org/3ecampaigntshirts.png>

Character Updates:
I updated the "Who's Who?" page; updating links for Allurean and Chartruz. A recent battle left Allurean dead and Chartruz free to choose her own fate. With no reason to stick around, Chartruz quickly assessed the situation, gathered up Allurean's remains and departed the scene. In addition to the loss of this character, we also saw the departure of two players. Todd - formerly playing Allurean has decided to take a break from the campaign. In addition to Todd's departure; Lee - playing Mortimer, has also decided to leave the campaign. I had to make some necessary changes to the "Who's Who?" page. I moved Allurean and Chartruz's short references to the 'Former' category, and removed the full character entries. I created a memorial pages for Allurean (That's where links for Allurean and Chartruz will point from now on). In addition to the changes necessitated by or Allurean's death and Chartruz's departure, I also updated the listing of former player characters; adding strikethrough styling to Allurean's listing. The strikethrough indicates former PCs who are deceased. The "Who's Who?" page is a listing of characters, both player characters and non-player characters.
<http://www.robsworld.org/3ewhoswho.html>
<http://www.robsworld.org/allurean.html>

Players in our campaign:
A recent battle left Allurean dead and Chartruz free to choose her own fate. The death of this character triggered two player actions I hadn't anticipated. Two players announced their departure from our campaign after the 19 Jan, 2013 meeting. Todd - formerly playing Allurean, has decided to take a break from the campaign. He doesn't know when or if he'll be back, but we will miss him. In addition to Todd's departure; Lee - playing Mortimer, also decided to leave the campaign. These recent departures make for changes on this and other pages. While we've been looking for a new player, the chair has been vacant for some time. Now we've got two additional chairs to fill. As a result, I started a renewed effort to replace the missing players. This weekend, I sent out player wanted ads to more than 3,000 gamers and updated static postings on six web sites. Hopefully this renewed effort will result in some interest. Many players have graced my gaming table over the years, some are old friends, some are new, but in the end - friends are what I call them. The players page contains a photo of our group and a short listing of who we are.
<http://www.robsworld.org/players.html>

These updates follow our meeting on the 19th of January, 2013. I hope to add a journal entry in the weeks to come. You can keep up to date with our adventures by continuing to visit "Rob's World!" for all the latest campaign info. If you're enjoying the story of our adventurers, I encourage you to write me and let us know. Perhaps you've got an idea you'd like to share, some criticism or praise. Either way, it'll be earnestly appreciated.
<http://www.robsworld.org/3ecampaign.html

Crazy Colorado WeatherCrazy Colorado Weather:
It's officially winter, and the crazy weather continues. From the freezer to the frying pan and back again. Another one of those crazy weather fronts moved through our area - It's headed east, so you may see it soon. The temperatures this week swung wildly from lows. In the negatives... Our state saw temps in the sub-zero range: -10°F, and then a new front followed that streak of cold days. This week we had temps in near summer range: 50s and 60s. I guess we shouldn't be too surprised. Last year around this time we saw the same extremes. As a matter of fact I remember it being even more extreme. In late January of 2012, our area of Colorado saw two fronts (just like these recent fronts) sweep through the area. It went from below freezing with snow, freezing rain and sleet, up into the 70s! Then it dropped again in the negatives! This freeze thaw cycle really doesn't seem all that odd if you've lived through the last few years of crazy weather. So, the crazy weather swings have become the new normal. Stay tuned for more crazy weather in the days ahead.

Software favorites:
More updates to one of my favorite software application. GraphicConverter moves ever forward. As usual, developer has been busy updating this application. over the last couple of weeks Thorsten released several updates for the product that's always getting better. 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 beta releases and one full release over the last couple of weeks. I recently saw/downloaded the following updates: 8.5.2 (b1125), 8.5.2 (b1129), 8.5.2 (b1134). 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 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, this photo editor puts a huge wrench in your toolbox.
<http://www.lemkesoft.com/content/162/new-functions-and-versions.html>

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>

January 12, 2013

D&D iconD&D updates:
The updates below covers our most recent meeting - January 5th, 2013. With all the holiday activities delaying journal entries and my web updates, Lee and I were a bit behind. With the holidays behind us, these updates should arrive more regularly. The party departed Whillip long ago, and several chapters of this latest adventure have already been written. Our heroes completed all their administrative tasks and chores, and decided upon their next adventure. After accepting a charge to quest for a lost tome of legendary power, the party was teleported across the world to Kester; a small mountain town on the edge of a vast wasteland. After talking with their sponsor, they set off to start this new adventure. After trekking south along an old trade route, the party entered the town of Parlonis. Here they sought more clues about the nature of the Dry Steppes, it's inhabitants, and the fabled city of 'Lingice-Enz'. Departing the frontier town, the party struck out into the desert. Here they encountered odd magical effects, ancient ruins, dangerous monsters, a crazy Gnome and the challenges of a deadly tainted realm. After nearly two weeks in this ruined land, the party discovered the ruins of Lingice-Enz. After defeating a guardian spider, the party has descended into the sewers of Lingice-Enz. Countless battles ensue as the party probes the depths of this strange sewer complex. Filled with crawling, slithering, flitting and skulking creatures, the sewers are alive with many creatures. While most are benign, and strive only to survive in this harsh environment, some are intent on making meals of the party. The predators in this environment have evolved to resist magic and standard attack forms; making for very deadly opponents. As the party limps from encounter to encounter, they search for the book, for clues, for some way to bring this quest to a speedy end. Will the party find the tome known as "Eivobrin's Incanabula"; or will they become another footnote labeled 'A group of adventurers sought the book, but never completed their quest'?Stay tuned for the exciting and continuing adventures of the H.A.L.L.O.W.ed Knights.

The Adventurers journal:
The tale of our adventurers. A series of journal entries from various party members. This document contains details of their encounters. Victory, defeat, desire and glory. Here is the tale of The H.A.L.L.O.W.ed Knights, a group of adventurers who set forth from Whillip, seeking fame, fortune and the defeat of evil in these lands. Thanks to some timely input from Lee, I was able to post an update from last weeks meeting. The party has been exploring the sewers beneath the ruins of Lingice-Enz for some time now. Recently, they discovered a hidden workshop filled with all manner of strange creatures and objects. After a dangerous battle with two guardians, the party has a short respite to explore the workshop in more detail. Check out the details in the party's journal entries.
<http://www.robsworld.org/ajournal09.html#jan05_2013>

Monsters encountered:
Down in the dungeon. Welcome to the Sewers of Oblivion. During our most recent gaming session, the party entered a phase of the campaign where they've delved deep into an entirely new environment. Here they are discovering new varieties of creatures. Some intent on just getting by; some intent on making a meal out of heroes. As a result, we've seen plenty of updates to the 'Monsters Known' page. Some of those creatures include: Olive Slime, and a Lava Elemental? The monsters page is a listing of monsters that the party has encountered, read about, or heard of.
<http://www.robsworld.org/monsters.html>

Where Now?:
With the party in the midst of a new adventure, I occasionally find myself updating some geographic/location links. This week I updated some links for various places around the realms. While reading through the notes in a workshop, the party discovered indications of a new land. This new land is called 'Greyhawk'. After a further examination of the notes, Solmar realized that this new land was actually a place that the party calls 'Oerik' or 'Ohnest'. They're all the same place; a continent far to the west of the Realms. The continent that they're on now is Greyhawk. They were teleported here by a powerful magic user. Until now, no one really knew that they were teleported to the other side of the planet. "Where Now?" is a listing of various places the party has visited or researched.
<http://www.robsworld.org/wherenow.html>

These updates follow our meeting on the 5th of January, 2013. You can keep up to date with our adventures by continuing to visit "Rob's World!" for all the latest campaign info. If you're enjoying the story of our adventurers, I encourage you to write me and let us know. Perhaps you've got an idea you'd like to share, some criticism or praise. Either way, it'll be earnestly appreciated.
<http://www.robsworld.org/3ecampaign.html

BonusHoly Crap - I got a bonus!
A few days ago (Jan 9th, 2013) I was called into the office by the chief of my division. ...gulp... At first I was a little bit hesitant to step into his office. It's the sort of situation where another person has power over you, and a private office where you might receive some very bad news. I detest these types of situations. He immediately said; "It's not bad news". He must have read my body language and expression. "Actually it's good news". He then told me that I was going to receive a bonus - Holy Crap! I had no idea that my employer actually handed out bonuses! I'd never heard of such a thing. When I worked for my previous employer (a defence contractor), the only type of bonus they gave out was recruitment bonuses. And those got smaller every year. Eventually they did away with them altogether. I guess the economy got bad enough that they didn't have to pay out any recruitment bonuses. The division chief explained how the 'performance bonus' works. Apparently, I was ranked quite high against my peers in our annual performance assessments. Really? My performance is being valued? Once again it's a shocker. The bonus wasn't immense - It's not like I work in the banking or finance sector! A small bonus actually. Approximately 1.5% of my annual salary, but that's way more than I anticipated. The division chief explained the minimum and maximum bonus paid out. After I talked to my supervisor about the bonus, she explained the bonus calculation in more detail. After taking all the factors into consideration (the size of my bonus, number of people in my pay grade and typical performance ratings), I estimate that my performance rating must have been in the top 5% of those in my pay grade. Hopefully I'll get a promotion in the next six months (that's about how long it takes to work through the promotion process). I'm very happy with my new job, my new supervisor, and my new position. Only 3 months left to go on my two year probation.

Oil and gas drillingOil and gas exploration in my Neighborhood?
FYI: This article contains reported facts, observations from residents, and some of my personal opinion. I do not represent or speak on the behalf of any local government representatives, oil companies, or organizations opposed to this oil & gas exploration. I am a concerned resident. <rant>Recently (back in August of 2012) I wrote about a company named Geokinetics, Inc. During the month of August, 2012, several community members (In Tollgate Crossing and other communities) received letters from a Geokinetics, Inc. The company claimed that they were "conducting a 3D seismic survey in Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert county(s), CO and hereby requests your permission, to the extent of your mineral rights, lease or mineral interests, to conduct this survey on properties described below". The letter then indicates your property as the 'property described below'. They also go on to state "The research our agents have produced at the court house shows that you retain the minerals and do not have them leased right now."

Like many residents in Arapahoe, Douglas and Elbert counties, I am concerned about this oil and gas exploration. I feel there are too many unknowns that could possibly affect me, my family and the other residents in my community. I'm concerned about water contamination (from 'Fracking'), the effect on property values, the impact on local wildlife, increased traffic, the industrialization of land in my community, and other quality of life issues. These oil and gas interests have already begun drilling for oil and gas on the 'Former Lowry Bombing Range' - That's the area around the Aurora Reservoir. An area full of new communities; full of young families, children, pets, schools, several playgrounds, some wild animals (coyote, deer, wild birds, etc), Aurora's drinking water! (The Aurora Reservoir), unexploded ordinance, and a nearby Superfund cleanup site. Can you think of a more dangerous place to drill for oil and gas? I can't!

That was August of 2012. Recently (Jan of 2013) they've stepped up their efforts to get at the oil and gas in the Niorbrara formation. A deposit of chalk and shale stretching through Canada all the way to New Mexico. The deposits were laid down 87 to 82 million years ago, during the late Cretaceous period. The rock formations are composed primarily from the accumulation of microorganisms that lived in an ancient Western Interior Seaway; an inland sea that divided North America during the Cretaceous period. One particular area of the formation; covering much of north eastern Colorado, as well as parts of Wyoming and Nebraska is particularly rich in oil & gas deposits. Is this area rich in oil & gas? Yes! In general, I am not opposed to domestic oil & gas exploration, extraction or production. I like the way my house stays toasty warm in the winter, I enjoy the power and range of the gasoline (and hybrid) powered vehicles that I drive. I, like most Americans tend to forget that petroleum is used in the production of millions of products on a daily basis. Our society (in its current form) simply can't exist without the oil & gas extracted from the Earth's many reservoirs. I am opposed to efforts that would endanger heavily populated areas, damage wildlife areas or expose residents to potentially harmful effects from untested (not tested, regulated, or approved by EPA studies) chemical processes.

In the continuing saga of oil & gas exploration in north eastern Colorado: Beginning in the first week of January, 2012, my wife and I started to notice the appearance of some strange looking sensors. I was curious, I wondered what they were, but didn't make the time to stop and investigate. On the 7th of Jan, I received an email from a community resident. The resident wanted to know if I knew what these 'measuring devices' were. I emailed her back, indicating that I did not, but I would investigate. On the 8th of Jan, 2012, I stopped at a couple locations in our community and took some pictures of the devices. One of the devices had a company name on it - "Geokinetics Inc." - Both had a 1-800 phone number on them. I immediately set to work with a series of internet searches.

I soon discovered what these devices were (see illustration). From my research, I was able to cobble together the following information: The device (collection of electronic devices and cables) is a data transmitter. The yellow rod is an antenna. In it's base is data collection circuitry. The red box contains a battery, and the wires will eventually/or were connected to numerous seismic sensors called geophones. Geophones embedded in the earth/soil are connected to this network of equipment by wires/cables, and the vibrations that they detect are transmitted by way of this equipment to a nearby recorder truck or van. The equipment is owned by a company called 'Geokinetics Inc.' The same company that sent letters to residents earlier this year. This company is conducting a Niobrara (a geological formation) seismic survey for oil and gas deposits in the FLBGR (Former Lowry Bombing and Gunnery Range) area. The survey is being conducted for a company called Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (they're an oil company).

Seismic charges or 'Thumper' trucks induce vibrations through the soil/ground, and sensors called 'geophones' detect the vibrations and reflections as they travel through the earth and reflect off of different layers of rock, soil, and pockets of oil and gas. The data transmitters send the seismic data to a collection point; typically a van or truck equipped to receive the short range/low power transmissions.

Upon discovering what these devices were, I responded to the resident's email, and posted excerpts of our exchange on my 'CrossTalk' email mailing list. This generated additional responses. One of the responses came from a member of our Metro District board. He reminded us... Many years ago (prior to 2010) our Metro District was approached by Geokinetics Inc. The matter was discussed at one of our Metro District board meetings (held weekly in our club house). I was there, I remember the conversation. The company wanted the right to do some oil & gas exploration within Tollgate Crossing. They wanted to do this within the community. Our Metro District (a quasi-governmental entity that acts on behalf of the city in a limited capacity) discussed the proposal with the residents that were present during the meeting. We expressed our concerns and opinions with the board members. A vote was called by the Metro District board. The board voted to not give this company permission to conduct any oil & gas exploration within our community. One of the primary reasons that they did so, was because the study was being done for private (not public) benefit.

Apparently, despite the fact that our Metro District (which had the authority to deny them permission) to them 'No', they decided to take their proposal to the City of Aurora. They asked the city management/managers for permission to lay their lines in the city's street right of way, without any compensation. The city approved it without thinking or understanding what they were doing. The oil exploration company decided that was a green light to put their sensors and equipment on Metro District property (the common area landscape tracts). They placed their equipment in the 'tree lawn' areas, because it lays within the city's right of way. Geokinetics laid these lines (placed their equipment) on Metro District property without prior notification or permission. It's possible that they may have placed some of their equipment on personal property as well.

Members of our Metro District board had contact a city councilman (Bob Broom/councilman for Ward IV of Aurora, CO) regarding this development. The city's representative who issued the permit acknowledged that they were misled and were not sure if they had the right to give this permission. As of 8 Jan, 2013, board members of our Metro District were looking into what else could be done to stop Geokinetics. Their actions appear to be an intentional, willful and wanton trespass (for which Geokinetics is receiving possibly millions of dollars for a private contract benefitting Anadarko). There may be grounds for a class action lawsuit based on trespass and unjust enrichment. The Metro District member who provided us (residents of Tollgate Crossing) about the Metro District's actions in this incident also recommended that residents take pictures if Geokinetics had placed sensors/lines on their property.

So our Metro District told this company 'No', but they wouldn't take 'No' for an answer. They went to the City of Aurora; who likely didn't have permission to reverse our board's decision (in this matter). Or, the company chose to interpret the City's permit in a manner which circumvented the authority of our Metro District board/authority. Why would they do this? Don't be naive - There are billions of dollars involved, they were hired to survey this area, and that's what they're going to do. It's strictly business. They don't care whether we object to their activities, they're here to do a job, and they're not going to let a puny Metro District board get in their way. In the bigger picture, we should look towards the state government. The State of Colorado are the ones who've leased the rights for oil exploration/extraction on the property in question (FLBGR and DIA property). They're hoping to use revenue from oil and gas exploration/extraction (from leases, licenses, permits, royalties) to pay for public schools and other projects that are underfunded or in danger of having their funding redirected/cut. The state of Colorado anticipates revenue of appx $1.5B from leasing and royalties on DIA and FLBGR property. Guess what happened the day after I posted/moved our conversation onto my mailing list server (it's archived there; available to the public, and indexed by crawlers (i.e. shows up in google searches))? Interestingly enough, all the sensors, transmitters and equipment disappeared from inside our neighborhood. According to others, the equipment was still visible along Gun Club (a nearby state highway).

In the end; We, the residents of this area can only 'hope' that this oil & gas exploration and extraction doesn't result in severe, catastrophic and deadly consequences. We can only hope that they don't start fracking. We can only hope that their activities don't disturb the 'Lowry superfund clean up site' that's less than a mile away. We can only hope that they don't contaminate or damage the Aurora reservoir (the primary storage facility for Aurora's drinking water). We can only 'hope' that they don't disturb any of the unexploded ordinance or hazardous contaminants in the Former Lowry Bombing and Gunnery Range. I for one would like them to explain how they plan to avoid, mitigate and respond to any of these concerns. I would like the State and the EPA to conduct studies on their proposed activities. Do I trust the oil companies and their contractors? Hardly, Do I trust the State and the EPA? Way more than the 'For Profit' oil companies. The practices of these companies (the oil company and the contractors that work for them) are far too opaque for my liking. Where is their outreach? What are they doing to reassure residents, to explain what they're planning to do? If you're not concerned about their activities and the potential dangers involved, you must not live here... </rant>

Here are links to the articles I read during my research:
<http://blogs.howstuffworks.com/2011/05/09/how-thumper-trucks-work-trucks-that-create-earthquakes-to-do-underground-imaging/http://blogs.howstuffworks.com/2011/05/09/how-thumper-trucks-work-trucks-that-create-earthquakes-to-do-underground-imaging/>
<http://www.niobraranews.net/seismic/geokinetics-plans-southern-niobrara-3d-seismic-survey-douglas-elbert-counties/>
<http://www.bizjournals.com/denver/print-edition/2011/03/11/anadarko-hunts-for-oil-near-i-70.html>
<http://www.bizjournals.com/denver/print-edition/2011/05/27/niobrara-leases-could-bring-15b.html>
<http://www.niobraranews.net/seismic/field-report-seismic-thumper-trucks-in-arapahoe-county/>
<http://www.niobraranews.net/seismic/geokinetics-conducting-seismic-survey-elbert-county/>
<http://www.niobraranews.net/niobrara-geology/anadarko-hunts-for-oil-near-i-70/>
<http://geosurvey.state.co.us/pubs/Documents/rtv13n1%204-15-11%20B.pdf>
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lowry_Bombing_and_Gunnery_Range>
<http://tollgatecrossing.org/pipermail/crosstalk_tollgatecrossing.org/>
<http://www.epa.gov/region8/superfund/co/lowry/index.html#2>
<http://joyce-road.blogspot.com/2009_10_01_archive.html>
<http://metrodistrictreform.com/metro_districts_overview>
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niobrara_Formation>
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydraulic_fracturing>
<http://www.robsworld.org/datatransmitter.png>
<http://www.geokinetics.com>
<http://www.flbgr.org>

Software favorites:
More updates to one of my favorite software application. GraphicConverter moves ever forward. As usual, developer has been busy updating this application. over the last week or so, Thorsten released several updates for the product that's always getting better. 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 beta releases and one full release over the last week. I recently saw/downloaded the following updates: 8.5.1 (b1110) and 8.5.1 (b1116). 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 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, this photo editor puts a huge wrench in your toolbox.
<http://www.lemkesoft.com/content/162/new-functions-and-versions.html>

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>

January 06, 2013

D&D iconD&D updates:
The updates below cover three meetings, from October through December of 2012. With all the summer activities delaying journal entries and my web updates, Lee and I have fallen a bit behind. The party departed Whillip long ago, and several chapters of this latest adventure have already been written. Our heroes completed all their administrative tasks and chores, and decided upon their next adventure. After accepting a charge to quest for a lost tome of legendary power, the party was teleported across the world to Kester; a small mountain town on the edge of a vast wasteland. After talking with their sponsor, they set off to start this new adventure. After trekking south along an old trade route, the party entered the town of Parlonis. Here they sought more clues about the nature of the Dry Steppes, it's inhabitants, and the fabled city of 'Lingice-Enz'. Departing the frontier town, the party struck out into the desert. Here they encountered odd magical effects, ancient ruins, dangerous monsters, a crazy Gnome and the challenges of a deadly tainted realm. After nearly two weeks in this ruined land, the party discovered the ruins of Lingice-Enz. After defeating a guardian spider, the party has descended into the sewers of Lingice-Enz. Countless battles ensue as the party probes the depths of this strange sewer complex. Filled with crawling, slithering, flitting and skulking creatures, the sewers are alive with many creatures. While most are benign, and strive only to survive in this harsh environment, some are intent on making meals of the party. The predators in this environment have evolved to resist magic and standard attack forms; making for very deadly opponents. As the party limps from encounter to encounter, they search for the book, for clues, for some way to bring this quest to a speedy end. Will the party find the tome known as "Eivobrin's Incanabula"; or will they become another footnote labeled 'A group of adventurers sought the book, but never completed their quest'?Stay tuned for the exciting and continuing adventures of the H.A.L.L.O.W.ed Knights.

3rd Edition Campaign:
I updated the date of our next meeting - Our next meeting will take place on the 19th of January, 2013. With all our year ending vacations over, our game should return to regularly scheduled meetings in the coming months. The "3eCampaign" page is the first stop for information on the campaign that I'm currently running. Here you'll find information regarding our next meeting, some notes, and an index of web pages and documents that are important to our campaign. You can also check out the latest group photo. - FYI: We're looking for one additional player to join our campaign. If you think what you've got to be a 'Hallowed Knight' send me an email.
<http://www.robsworld.org/3ecampaign.html>

The Adventurers journal:
The tale of our adventurers. A series of journal entries from various party members. This document contains details of their encounters. Victory, defeat, desire and glory. Here is the tale of The H.A.L.L.O.W.ed Knights, a group of adventurers who set forth from Whillip, seeking fame, fortune and the defeat of evil in these lands. Thanks to input from Lee, I was able to post some updates from five of our meetings. The party has finally entered the sewers beneath the ruins of Lingice-Enz. Now the hard part starts, locating the fabled tome. Check out the details in the party's journal entries.
<http://www.robsworld.org/ajournal09.html#oct13_2012>
<http://www.robsworld.org/ajournal09.html#nov10_2012>
<http://www.robsworld.org/ajournal09.html#dec08_2012>

Monsters encountered:
Down in the dungeon. Welcome to the Sewers of Oblivion. During our most recent gaming sessions, the party entered a phase of the campaign where they've delved deep into an entirely new environment. Here they are discovering new varieties of creatures. Some intent on just getting by; some intent on making a meal out of heroes. As a result, we've seen plenty of updates to the 'Monsters Known' page. Some of those creatures include: The Stunjelly, Shadowcloak Retrievers, Doppelgangers, a Gem Var and a powerful Stone Golem. The monsters page is a listing of monsters that the party has encountered, read about, or heard of.
<http://www.robsworld.org/monsters.html>

These updates follow our meetings from October through December of 2012. You can keep up to date with our adventures by continuing to visit "Rob's World!" for all the latest campaign info. If you're enjoying the story of our adventurers, I encourage you to write me and let us know. Perhaps you've got an idea you'd like to share, some criticism or praise. Either way, it'll be earnestly appreciated.
<http://www.robsworld.org/3ecampaign.html>

Software favorites:
More updates to one of my favorite software application. GraphicConverter moves ever forward. As usual, developer has been busy updating this application. over the last week or so, Thorsten released several updates for the product that's always getting better. 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 beta releases over the last week. I recently saw/downloaded the following updates: 8.5 (b1105), 8.5 (b1106) and 8.5 (b1109). 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 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, this photo editor puts a huge wrench in your toolbox.
<http://www.lemkesoft.com/content/162/new-functions-and-versions.html>

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>

Music CollectionJamin' Tunes for January:
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 of the new music web sites (Pandora, 3hive.com, musicalfamilytree.org) and several other music blogs (Analog Giant, Brooklyn Vegan, Fluxblog, Gorilla vs. Bear, etc) out there, 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 33 million tracks! (16m on MOG (as of Sep, 2012), 17m on eMusic (as of Jan 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 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 it unless I can listen to it first. 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 major labels propaganda - Not all free music is illegal. You can legally download or listen to all sorts of music for free (Have you heard of Pandora?). I download 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 (Jan of 2013) I downloaded 51 tracks at the low cost of $23.27. I'm paying a $19.99 monthly fee, so that makes the tracks even cheaper (~$0.39 / 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). 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. Since being purchased from VU (Vivendi Universal) Net in 2004, the prices on eMusic have been slowly creeping ever upward, and they're approaching the cost of Amazon tracks. If that happens, I'll probably switch to Amazon for my music acquisition needs.

* Maximum Security - Alien Sex Fiend: (10 tracks) This band is an amazing illustration of raw talent and avant garde expression. It reminds me of Johnny Rotten's best days with Public Image Limited, some very early Cure tracks and Lords of the New Church. Classified as 'Death Rock', this U.K. band has been making music since 1982. How I've missed them this long is a mystery to me. The gothic, industrial, dance loops with plenty of electronic dubs and dark lyrics. While the lyrics may be dark at times the instrumentals are light enough to create a satisfying contrast.
* A Weekend in the City - Bloc Party: (13 songs) My attraction to Bloc Party grew out of sidelong exposure to similar bands, and slowly I was drawn to this band like a magnet. I first started listening in 2008, and I've been slowly accumulating more of their material. Fortunately, eMusic has picked up the slack. They've finally started carrying a large assortment of their catalog. Pop-punk, dance-punk, Electro-hip-hop. Energetic brit-pop, with cascading instrumentals and smart lyrics. Gang of four wound up and turned loose. This second album is darker than Silent Alarm (their first album). The pacing is a bit slower, and the lyrics a bit more mature. I'll definitely acquire more of their music, and the eMusic queue is already waiting.
* Industrial Complex - Nitzer Ebb: (17 songs) Another industrial gem, this band comes to me by way of recommendations from a friend and confirmation in the way of MOG recommendations. My early exposure to Kraftwerk, Depeche Mode, Bauhaus, Killing Joke, New Order, Front 242 and other bands in the 80s finds me in comfortable territory with the sounds of Nitzer Ebb. Drum Machines, dance beats, and a dark goth beat. This particular album never relents. This band started out in the 80s and I'm really surprised that I didn't dig their stuff until my friend Troy turned me on to them.
* Civilized - Stellastarr: (10 tracks) This band doesn't have it's origins in the 80s, and the sound isn't a British mix of modern punk and German industrial. Discovered via MOG recommendations, I'm drawn to it's heavy rock roots and hard working instrumentals. Genuine guitar work and drums that keep things moving at a decadent stage diving pace.
* Never Miss a Beat - Kaiser Chiefs: (single) With a little over 50 cents left in credits, I turn to one of my long time favorites. I've been listening to Kaiser Chiefs since 2007, and here's a recent single sure to finds its way into their next album. With an infectious beat, and that ever so-British bass pounding drum line, this single never misses the beat.

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. :-)
<http://www.robsworld.org/music.html>