Sep 30, 2013

No SpamStupid Spammers hijack Group email address:
Stupid Spammer Trick number #202 - Some particularly brilliant spammer (Not!) hacked someone's Yahoo account, and decided to send spam to one of the 'Group Accounts' associated with that Yahoo account. As a result, everyone who subscribes to that 'Group Account' received an obvious scam email. This particular Stupid Spammer trick illustrates two maxims of spam. 1: Spammers are stupid. 2: Yahoo accounts are easy to crack. Seeing this spam actually made me smile. Spammers are 'So Stupid' :-)

I really hope you get this fast. I could not inform anyone about our trip, because it was impromptu. we had to be in Manila, Philippines for a program. The program was successful, but our journey has turned sour. we misplaced our wallet and cell phone on our way back to the hotel we lodge in after we went for sight seeing. The wallet contained all the valuables we had.

I am sorry if i am inconveniencing you, but i have only very few people to run to now. i will be indeed very grateful if i can get a loan of $2,350 or whatever you can afford to spare me from you. this will enable me sort our hotel bills and get my sorry self back home. I will really appreciate whatever you can afford in assisting me with. I promise to refund it in full as soon as I return. let me know if you can be of any

Denver Gamers Association

This brilliant spammer (Not!) Even went so fare as to sign the spam using the 'Name' associated with this 'Group Account' address. Every subscriber to the Yahoo group was then notified that the Denver Gamers Association had likely had their account hacked... It happens. It hasn't happened to me yet, but I won't be too surprised if it does. Since Yahoo accounts seem to be a favorite of spammers/crackers, I changed my Yahoo password to something ridiculously long and complex several years ago. So far my account hasn't been cracked. I reported this issue to the group that owns the address. I have other ways to contact them. Presumably the group wasn't storing any email contacts in their Yahoo account, because I haven't received spam at the account associated with that Yahoo group. FYI: If you're storing any email addresses/contact information in your online Yahoo account - Stop! Yahoo accounts get cracked, and then all your stored contacts are targeted for spam.
<http://www.robsworld.org/index2.html#fightingspam>
<http://www.robsworld.org/stupidspammers4.png>
<http://www.spamcop.net>

iOS 7.0Apple releases iOS 7.0.2:
It hasn't been long, but Apple managed to release two updates for the latest iOS. The iDevice operating system is running on version 7.0 at the moment. Released on the 18th of Sep, 2013. A point update (7.0.1) was released on the 19th of Sep, 2013. 7.0.1 was released to fix some bugs on the iPhone 5C and 5S. I didn't see that update at all (still using my iPhone 4S at this time). On the 26th of Sep, 2013, Apple released version 7.0.2.

The adoption rate for iOS 7 was quite high and quite rapid, reaching 35% in just one day. After just four days (by the 22nd of Sep), the new OS was installed on more than 200m devices. According to Apple iOS 7 adoption was "the fastest software update in history" - I'm not quite sure what that means, but it didn't mean everyone was happy. As soon as the new OS was released, Apple started receiving complaints, and the press started reporting them. Thankfully, it didn't take Apple very long to address some of the concerns and patch most of the bugs. The 7.0.2. update was designed to patch some security flaws, fix a few bugs with the Touch ID sensor (a lock screen bug) and App Store purchases. It also reintroduced a Greek Keyboard layout for users who needed that.
<http://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202827>
<http://www.apple.com/ios/whats-new/>
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IOS_7>

Government Shutdown - 2013Preparing for the government shutdown:
Is this real? Why am I receiving email (at work) regarding the possibility of a government shutdown? Can it really be possible? Can our leaders care so little about our nation, about the people they serve? The reality of politics in America - "Fxxk em' if they won't agree with us!" "Just shut it down - Shut it all down! That'll teach 'em a lesson!" This attitude has got to change. The politics of this position are clearly NOT in the best interests of our nation. So, I'm getting ready - Ready for the day when I won't be able to work, because some politicians are unwilling to do their job. To compromise on a budget deal for our country.

According to a recent press release:
WASHINGTON, Sept. 23, 2013 - Although Defense Department officials believe a government shutdown can be avoided when the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1, they want DOD employees to be prepared for the possibility, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in a memo issued to the workforce today.

The fiscal year ends Sept. 30, and Congress has not passed a budget. If Congress does not approve a budget or pass a continuing resolution, the portions of the government funded via appropriated funds will be forced to close.

"The department remains hopeful that a government shutdown will be averted," Carter wrote in the memo. "The administration strongly believes that a lapse in funding should not occur and is working with Congress to find a solution."

Congress still can prevent a lapse in appropriations, but "prudent management requires that we be prepared for all contingencies, including the possibility that a lapse could occur at the end of the month," the deputy secretary wrote.

The absence of funding would mean a number of government activities would cease. "While military personnel would continue in a normal duty status, a large number of our civilian employees would be temporarily furloughed," Carter said. "To prepare for this possibility, we are updating our contingency plans for executing an orderly shutdown of activities that would be affected by a lapse in appropriations."

President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel understand the hardships such a shutdown could cause civilian employees, the deputy secretary wrote.

"The administration strongly believes that a lapse in funding should not occur and is working with Congress to find a solution," Pentagon Press Secretary George Little told reporters today. "The secretary has made it clear that budget uncertainty is not helpful for us in executing our budget efficiently, and a shutdown would be the worst type of uncertainty. A shutdown would put severe hardships on an already stressed workforce, and is totally unnecessary."

Carter vowed to provide more information as it becomes available. The Office of Personnel Management's website has more information.

DoD officials believe a shutdown can be avoided - Yeah, 'Can Be' and 'Will Be' are two entirely different things. They want DoD employees to be prepared for the possibility. I've started making a list. What expenses will I cut? What services will I cancel? What are we (my wife and I) going to do without? How long will this shutdown last? Will we be forced into bankruptcy? Will we have to sell our house? - Do these politicians care? Hell no! If the shutdown actually happens, it won't be the first. We've had two others. The first in 1978 lasted 18 days. The second in '95-'96 lasted 21 days. I'm not old enough to have experienced the first shutdown, but I lived through the one in '95-96 - There was a period of time where I wasn't paid, but I was still expected to work! I've been making a list of things we will have to give up, and my wife has been extremely angry at me for putting everything on the list - Including things that she enjoys. Great - The government's inability to get their act together is actually causing some serious problems in my marriage, and it hasn't even happened yet... Should I simply ignore the threat and not do any planning? Should I lie to myself and cross my fingers?

On the 27th of Sep, 2013 - I received another message foreshadowing the imminent government shutdown:
DOD Continues Prudent Planning for Government Shutdown

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 27, 2013 - DOD officials believe a government shutdown will not occur when current spending authority expires Sept. 30th, but continue prudent planning in case it does.

Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter released a memo today entitled Guidance for Continuation of Operations in the Absence of Available Appropriations.

An attachment to the memo provides instructions on how operations and personnel would be affected if Congress fails to approve a continuing resolution or an appropriations bill in time for the new fiscal year that begins Tuesday.

There are functions of the department that must continue even in the absence of a funding stream. These are operations "necessary for the safety of human life and protection of property, including operations necessary for the security of our nation," Carter wrote in the memo.

In the absence of funding, military personnel will continue to report to work as will some civilian DOD employees.

"Civilian employees not engaged in excepted activities will be furloughed," Carter said. This means they will be placed in a non-work, non-pay status.

Now DoD officials are indicating that 'Civilian employees not engaged in excepted activities will be furloughed' - This means that many (hundreds of thousands of employees) civilian employees will be affected. Note that 'excepted activities' is not the same as 'excepted service'. While many employees working in an 'excepted service' status; that's an employment status and it affects the person's pay and/or position. (as handled by OPM (Office of Personnel Management) - Hiring, promotions, pay, etc are all affected by their employment status). It's not the same as the activity that they work in. So now the DoD will have to define who is working in an 'excepted' activity. It sure sounds to me like many government employees are going to be furloughed.
<http://www.robsworld.org/memopreparesdodemployees_governnentshutdown2013.png>
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_federal_government_shutdown_of_2013>
<http://www.robsworld.org/memododplanning_governmentshutdown2013.png>

End of SummerAutumn Arrives:
Huzzah! - Here comes Autumn! Arriving with the autumnal equinox on the 23rd of September, this year Autumn arrives with a long drawn out yawn. Pretending to be summer in its golden sunsets and warm weather. We won't be fooled for long. Soon enough the season's change will announce a subtle yet certain fact. Summer's come and gone. Get ready for winter. I don't know about you, but I for one am a fan of fall. I like the colors, the smell, the crisp edge to the air, the flannel sheets and the cool evenings of summer's end. If only we could stave of winter with an extra long autumn...
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autumn>

AppleTV updateMajor AppleTV update - causes big problems for some users:
On the 22nd of Sep, 2013, Apple released a new AppleTV update. This version 6.0 update was released in conjunction with the release of iOS 7.0 (see below). This update was supposed to deliver numerous improvements and new features (see table). Unfortunately, this update was immediately yanked from the website/made unavailable. It was bricking some Apple TVs.

Thankfully, I didn't get home in time to apply this update. Applying an update that bricks your device is a surefire way of ruining your day. I've got three Apple TVs and I'm quite happy with their performance (overall). Apple released this update and pulled it on the same day (21 Sep, 2013). I'm still running Apple TV software version 5.3. I'm sure it won't be long before Apple fixes the update and re-releases it.

Feature

Summary

iTunes Radio

Allows you to create your own radio stations and listen to them ad free if you're paying for iTunes Match ($24.99 a year) Only available in the United States (for now).

iTunes Music Store

Allows you to browse, purchase, and play music directly from the iTunes Music Store. 

iCloud Photos

Adds the ability to play videos from a shared photo stream and viewing of photo streams from multiple contributors.

AirPlay from iCloud

Apple TV will play content from iTunes in the Cloud instead of your AirPlay device when possible. This will reduce device to device bandwidth congestion and CPU load on connected AirPlay devices. Requires iOS 7 on AirPlay device.

Podcasts

Sync your podcasts and podcast stations across Apple TV and all your iOS devices. I'd be amazed if this actually works.

iMovie Theater

Stream iMovie creations in high definition from iCloud. Requires the latest version of iMovie for iOS or Mac and an iCloud account.

Subtitles & Captioning

Automatic subtitle selection based on Apple TV language setting. Customize closed caption style.

Conference Room Display

Lock Apple TV into Conference Room Display (for business and education environments) and show onscreen instructions for using AirPlay.

Software Update

Keep your Apple TV up to date by automatically installing software updates when available. Sounds great, I really tire of doing these updates manually.

Setup

Use an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iOS 7 to automatically transfer network settings, your Apple ID, and language preferences to Apple TV (3rd generation). Not available on iPhone 4 and iPad 2.

In addition to all the new features, this update also delivered numerous security fixes and updates. Sixteen specific fixes and a huge list of seventeen memory corruption issues present in WebKit. These issues were addressed through improved memory handling. It was a large number of security patches, including removal of some trusted root certificates. These patches come about as a result of several individuals and developer teams working across the industry at Google, Apple, HP and various other firms.

After reading through numerous forums, I get the feeling that this 'bricking' occurred with users who quit the update before it was allowed to complete. I waited a few days before I updated my three Apple TVs (on the 25th of Sep, 2013). Guess what? The updates took a long time, but I didn't notice any problems. After the update, all my devices are working properly. It may be possible that there was a bad update. Apple may have pulled that update and replaced it with a 'corrected' version. It's difficult to know for certain. It's working fine for me. FYI: Those 'bricked' Apple TVs were restored by a restart, or in some cases the user had to connect the device to a computer (via micro USB) and restoring the software via iTunes.

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 don't own/haven't evaluated other options), I find the overall AppleTV experience (primarily the user interface) superior to that of the Roku player. If you want variety in channel 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!
<https://www.apple.com/appletv/whats-on/>
<http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4448>
<http://www.apple.com/appletv/>

Software favorites:
Another batch of updates for my favorite Graphic editor. GraphicConverter moves ever forward. As usual, 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. Another set of updates is a refresh to the Bruji trio of 'collectibles' applications: DVDpedia, CDpedia and Bookpedia.

Graphic ConverterGraphicConverter:
Thorsten Lemke (of Lemkesoft) completed work on a few updates over the past week. I recently saw/downloaded the following update: 8.8.1 (b1338). 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/>

DVDPediaDVDPedia:
DVDPedia is a great little application for cataloging and displaying your movie collection, and I'm running version 5.1.7. It's list of features is impressive, and it keeps getting better with every update. The database is capable of generating statistics, you can keep track of multiple collections, you can easily add titles by typing the name of the movie or you can scan the barcode (using your iSight camera or a barcode reader) right off the movie box (it then searches the internet, and displays choices). It has customizable HTML export capabilities, a 'borrowed' feature with address book integration, the ability to play movies in full screen mode, and many more features which make an awesome addition to your software library. I use DVDpedia to generate HTML listings of my movies and movie reviews.

The 5.0 upgrade was a paid upgrade/new version of the software (The new version only runs on Intel architecture machines and it requires Leopard or better as an OS). This version has been over a year in the making with lots of changes big and small to make the programs even better. What's new? Lots of new search sites including Wikipedia, Freebase and Doghouse, the Pedias' own media server built by and for Pedia users. New custom fields for broader cataloging options: TV series for DVDpedia, comics for Bookpedia and board games for Gamepedia (I may have to buy a copy now) as well as new custom fields including dedicated date fields, check boxes and multi-value fields. A 10-star rating system with half-stars; click twice on a star to make it a half. Swipe gestures for the CoverFlow and Add/Edit window to move back and forth as well as pinch-to-zoom in the Grid view. A new filter feature for the Details view and Statistics to quickly find entries with that same value. And much, much more… Below are links to some of the pages I created using this software.
<http://www.robsworld.org/iphonemoviecollection/index.html>
<http://www.robsworld.org/mymovies/index.html>
<http://www.robsworld.org/reviews.html>
<http://www.bruji.com/version5.html>
<http://www.bruji.com/dvdpedia/>
<http://doghouse.bruji.com/>

CDPediaCDPedia:
CDPedia is a great little application for cataloging and displaying your music collection, and I'm running version 5.1.7. It's list of features is impressive, and it keeps getting better with every update. The database is capable of generating statistics, you can keep track of multiple collections, you can easily add titles by typing the name of the artist, album, or track. You can scan the barcode (using your iSight camera or a barcode reader) right off a jewel case (it then searches the internet, and displays choices), or you can import lists of music from iTunes. It has customizable HTML export capabilities, a 'borrowed' feature with address book integration, and many more features which make an awesome addition to your software library. I use CDPedia to generate HTML listings of my music.

The 5.0 upgrade was a paid upgrade/new version of the software (The new version only runs on Intel architecture machines and it requires Leopard or better as an OS). This version has been over a year in the making with lots of changes big and small to make the programs even better. What's new? Lots of new search sites including Wikipedia, Freebase and Doghouse, the Pedias' own media server built by and for Pedia users. New custom fields for broader cataloging options: TV series for DVDpedia, comics for Bookpedia and board games for Gamepedia (I may have to buy a copy now) as well as new custom fields including dedicated date fields, check boxes and multi-value fields. A 10-star rating system with half-stars; click twice on a star to make it a half. Swipe gestures for the CoverFlow and Add/Edit window to move back and forth as well as pinch-to-zoom in the Grid view. A new filter feature for the Details view and Statistics to quickly find entries with that same value. And much, much more… Below are links to some of the pages I created using this software.
<http://www.robsworld.org/iphonemusiccollection/index.html>
<http://www.robsworld.org/mymusic/index.html>
<http://www.bruji.com/version5.html>
<http://www.bruji.com/cdpedia/>
<http://doghouse.bruji.com/>

BookPediaBookpedia:
Bookpedia is a great little application for cataloging and displaying your book collection(s), and I'm running version 5.1.7. It's list of features is impressive, and it keeps getting better with every update. The database is capable of generating statistics, you can keep track of multiple collections, you can easily add titles by typing the name of the author, book, or isbn number. You can scan the barcode (using your iSight camera or a barcode reader) right off the book cover (the application searches the internet, and displays choices). It has customizable HTML export capabilities, a borrowed feature with address book integration, and many more features which make an awesome addition to your software library. I use Bookpedia to generate an HTML listing of my favorite books.

The 5.0 upgrade was a paid upgrade/new version of the software (The new version only runs on Intel architecture machines and it requires Leopard or better as an OS). This version has been over a year in the making with lots of changes big and small to make the programs even better. What's new? Lots of new search sites including Wikipedia, Freebase and Doghouse, the Pedias' own media server built by and for Pedia users. New custom fields for broader cataloging options: TV series for DVDpedia, comics for Bookpedia and board games for Gamepedia (I may have to buy a copy now) as well as new custom fields including dedicated date fields, check boxes and multi-value fields. A 10-star rating system with half-stars; click twice on a star to make it a half. Swipe gestures for the CoverFlow and Add/Edit window to move back and forth as well as pinch-to-zoom in the Grid view. A new filter feature for the Details view and Statistics to quickly find entries with that same value. And much, much more… Below is a link to a page I created using this software.
<http://www.robsworld.org/books.html>
<http://www.bruji.com/version5.html>
<http://www.bruji.com/bookpedia/>
<http://doghouse.bruji.com/>

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 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. I recently made a few updates to our community website:

  • Welcome: The website's opener. A page containing an introduction to our community website. Here you'll find all the latest news and announcements.
    • I rearranged the banners and announcements on the front page - It's something I do to indicate a change (updates) in the content.
    • Updated the dates for an upcoming Tollgate Crossing HOA meeting date. Next meeting date is 16 Oct, 2013.
  • Events: A detailed listing of upcoming and recurring events in and around Tollgate Crossing. Here is more detailed information regarding some of the events you may have read about on the 'Welcome' page. It's also a place to look for long term/recurring events.
    • I updated the announcements regarding the next Tollgate Crossing HOA meeting. As usual, the meeting will be held at our clubhouse.
  • Info: A page of links, phone numbers, email addresses and other information pertinent to the residents/community of Tollgate Crossing.
    • I posted an agenda for the upcoming Tollgate Crossing Metro District meeting. The Metro District encompasses all the communities inside Tollgate Crossing.
    • I removed info regarding the swimming season/pool hours for the year. The pool will be shut down until next year.

FYI: My 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 graciously 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; not the MD or HOA board or the management company. 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>

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 and close ties with the local Police Department in order to help keep the residents safe and neighborhoods crime free. Over the last couple of weeks I took some time to update some of the web pages.

  • Welcome: The website's opener. A page containing an introduction to the Neighborhood Watch program and it's volunteers.
    • I updated the page to add a banner/announcement for our next/upcoming neighborhood watch meeting - The next meeting will be held: 3 Oct, 2013.
  • Current: A web page dedicated to the most recent news, announcements and information.
    • I updated the page to add a banner/announcement for our next/upcoming neighborhood watch meeting - The next meeting will be held: 3 Oct, 2013. The meeting will be held at the Foxridge Middle School, starting at 6:30pm.
  • eMail_lists: A listing of all the email lists that I run for the South East Aurora Neighborhood Watch. Residents of numerous South East Aurora communities may subscribe to many of these mailing lists in order to stay informed, alerted and up to date on issues that affect the safety and security of residents.
    • I corrected a link to a pdf document which provides details regarding our website and the SEANW mailing lists. This handout can be used by Area Coordinators and Block Captains as an aid when explaining the website and mailing lists to community residents.
  • Events: A listing of upcoming and recurring events in you Southeast Aurora Neighborhood. Events sponsored by or relevant to our Neighborhood Watch.
    • I updated the information about our upcoming Neighborhood Watch meetings.

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>

Sep 20, 2013

iOS 7.0Apple releases iOS 7.0:
This new OS (for Apple's hand-held mobile devices) was previewed during the 'World Wide Developer's Conference' on the 10th of June, 2013. The release was slated for Autumn of 2013. On the 18th of September, 2013, Apple released the latest version of their Mobile Operating System. iOS 7.0. This new operating system will work on Apple's newer devices (iPhone 4 and up) as well as many of the older devices. The number of available devices and iOS compatibility complexity has now risen to the point where some sort of matrix would be necessary to determine which devices this new OS will work on. As usual, this operating system delivers some needed improvements and a few mouth watering new features. Here's a recap of some of the new features and improvements:

  • Control Center: Quick access to the controls you need now (swipe up from the bottom of the screen). Apple updates the Control Center to make it more useful. Swiping up from any screen (including the lock screen) gets you to the Control Center. With one swipe you'll have access to Airplane Mode, Wi-Fi controls, Brightness, a flashlight, a timer, a calculator (thank you!) the camera, music controls, and lots more.
  • Notification Center: Keeping you informed and up to date on all the little tasks that demand your attention - Without taking you away from what you're doing. That's the challenge of Notification Center. Updates to this capability with additional updates, more control over the notifications, and a new feature called 'Today' - which provides a summary of the days chores. Access the notification from any screen (including the lock screen) by swiping down from the top of the screen.
  • Multitasking: Doing more than one thing at a time has always been a challenge on your iDevice. Apple's iOS 7 makes it easier as it learns you app usage habits. If you always check your email five minutes after your AM alarm, iOS will pre-load your Mail application just before you check it. If you always check the stock market around 7AM, it'll pre-load new content just before 7AM. This multi-tasking improvement will put the information at your fingertips when you need it, not five minutes after you ask for it! To see what apps are open double tap the Home button. Now you can quit any of the open apps by swiping them up from a preview pane. You can do all this with your thumb. No need to juggle your phone or break your thumb in order to quit an app. Multi-tasking will see when you're wi-fi connected and use the opportunity to keep your apps and podcasts up to date. Saving you from the perils of a limited data plan while simultaneously keeping you up to date.
  • Camera: Significant functionality updates come to the Camera under iOS 7. Multiple formats (still, video, panorama, square) are now front and center. In addition to the formats accessibility feature, another feature puts filters (Mono, Tonal, Noir, Fade, Chrome, Process, Transfer, Instant) at your fingertips. You can preview the effect, apply it or remove it (from Square and Still format photos) as your mood suits you.
  • Photos: Building on the Camera improvements is a slew of new features in the Photos app. The ability to view 'Collections, Moments, and Years' allows you to group your photos in whole new ways - Making it easier to find the shot you're looking for. Organization is joined by improved iCloud sharing in the Photo app. Now you can create shared photo streams with other iOS users. Updates to that Photo Stream are automatically updated.
  • AirDrop: Sharing everything and anything is one of the goals built into iOS 7, and AirDrop helps get that done. Sending photos, videos, contact info, and documents is easier than ever. Now you don't need to draft an email or attach a document to a text message. You can transfer the documents directly to other nearby iOS users through AirDrop. Sensing other users nearby (using BlueTooth), Apple's AirDrop allows you to share files (via Wi-Fi) in a safe (encrypted) and quick way with one or multiple users simultaneously. The content shared with other users shows up in the App it's designed for contact information shows up in the 'Contacts' app, a Photo shows up in the 'Photo' app and so on.
  • Safari: Improvements to Safari in iOS 7 mirror those made to Safari in OS X Mavericks. The Safari browser on iOS keeps buttons, bars and tabs hidden unless you intentionally scroll all the way to the top of the screen. The search field is now unified with the URL field. Tabbed pages are now displayed using a vertically aligned 'CoverFlow' display. Unwanted pages can be closed by swiping them off the side of the screen. You can share URL links with other iOS/Mac OS users. The reading list is revised to allow seamless scrolling through all the items in the reading list. The new iCloud Keychain (see below for additional details) is integrated into the Safari browser.
  • iTunes Radio: A whole new experience. Apple is adding a music discovery app to iOS and the desktop. The new iTunes Radio will feature streaming radio 'stations' which allow you to personalize, pick and choose the music you want to hear. Available for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Mac, PC (through iTunes), and Apple TV. The free service will allow users to discover and purchase music in a whole new way (look out Pandora!). If you pay for Music Match there won't be any ads on your iTunes Radio stations.
  • Siri: New and improved. With a new look, a new sound (new male and female voices), and new capabilities. The new voice is easier to understand, faster with responses, and checks more sources (wikipedia, bing, twitter). Siri also gets more to do with this update. Now it can return phone calls, play voice mail messages, control iTunes Radio and more. Siri now indicates that it's listening and processing your request. Siri doesn't shove your search results into Safari, you can see them on the same screen with the Safari interface; no matter what application you were using when you invoked Siri.
  • App Store: In iOS the app store gets a few updates. One interesting update is the 'Apps Near Me' functionality. This shows you what Apps are being run in your vicinity. Maybe you'll discover a useful app using this feature. Automatic updates is a new feature that I know I'm going to love. Updating apps is just one more annoying task I have to endure on a daily basis. Apple's already vetting this software in the store, and there's nothing more I can do to make it safe, so why should I need to manually authorize each update?
  • Find My iPhone: I know I've already been thankful for this app on at least one occasion. O.k. so the iPhone was only in the car, but being able to instantly locate the phone was an massive boost to my well-being. iOS 7 introduces a few new features to make it even better. You now need to enter your Apple ID and password in order to disable the feature. The app also has a new capability to display a custom message - Even if someone manages to 'Erase' the device. Finally a message will be displayed if your iPhone somehow makes it back home. If you get your phone back, you can enter your Apple ID and a password in order to reactivate it and restore all the data you might have erased.

All the new iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches will ship with the new iOS. This release clearly shows Apple moving iOS and Mac OSX closer to each other in functionality and user experience. I believe this strategy is a good one. There are plenty of apps and features in iOS that I'd like to see on my Mac, and there are lots of capabilities on the desktop that I'd like to see on the mobile devices. This update should keep the blogs and review sites busy for the next month.
<http://www.apple.com/icloud/features/documents.html>
<http://www.apple.com/ios/whats-new/>
<http://support.apple.com/kb/HT5934>
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IOS_7>

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 update: 8.8.1 (b1335). 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>

Marriage Equality SymbolDOMA declared Unconstitutional:
The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was enacted on September 21st, 1996. The legislation for this law was passed by both houses of Congress, when there were large veto-proof Republican majorities. It was signed into law by Bill Clinton (If he had vetoed it, Congress would likely have overturned his veto with a 2/3rds vote). It's a U.S. federal law that many states referenced in their refusal to recognize same-sex marriages granted under the laws of other states. Section 3 of the Act states: In general - Chapter 1 of title 1, United States Code (USC is (basically) the federal laws of the US), is amended by adding the following: The Definition of 'Marriage' and 'Spouse' - According to U.S. federal law... "In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word 'marriage' means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word 'spouse' refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife."

This particular law was only enacted in 1996, and it defined, for federal law purposes (Note that it was not specifically binding on any States. It was only applicable when considering federal laws and regulations) what constituted marriage and a spouse when it came to federal agencies and federal laws. That meant determinations for federal benefits and legal standing under federal law. This law codified federal 'non-recognition' of same-sex marriages for all federal purposes.

In 2013, Section 3 of the Act (which was the section which defined marriage and spouse) was ruled unconstitutional by a 5 to 4 vote of the Supreme Court on the 26th of June, 2013. Bill Clinton and many other legislators later advocated for the repeal of DOMA. In 2011, the Obama administration announced that it believed Section 3 of the law was unconstitutional. It stated that the federal government would continue to enforce the law while it existed, but the administration would no longer 'defend' the law in court. The law was challenged in a US Supreme Court case. United States vs. Windsor. In that case, the law was declared unconstitutional under the due process clause of the 5th Amendment.

By September of 2013, the federal government had instructed all agencies to change all policies containing references to, or refusing benefits under Section 3. of the law. The law remains on the books, but the remaining provision of relevance simply states that no state is required to recognize same-sex marriages performed in any other state. It no longer has any impact on federal benefits, regulations or personnel directives.

My opinion? Good! The federal government should not be in the business of determining what is or is not a legally acceptable 'marriage'. People who love each other should be able to marry each other, regardless of their gender.
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Title_1_of_the_United_States_Code>
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defense_of_Marriage_Act>

iTunesiTunes updated to version 11.1:
Recently (September 18, 2013), Apple updated iTunes to version 11.1 As far as most people knew, this release was another bug fix release. As is sometimes the case with Apple's software releases, the official update notes were extremely vague. Missing from Apple's release notes were a few interface and feature changes. Notably, the iTunes Radio feature appeared in this release. Now Apple is offering streaming music for free. If you have a 'iTunes Match' subscription you'll be streaming their 'stations' without any ads. You need to be in the US or have a US iTunes account in order to access this feature (for now). The iTunes Radio feature is also available on mobile devices via the recent iOS 7 update. Another change is the addition of a new 'Genius Shuffle' option, which seems to be an adequate replacement for the eliminated iTunes DJ feature. Finally, there are changes to podcast features in the new version of iTunes. Now you can group your favorite podcasts into 'stations', which automatically update with new episodes. Supposedly the podcast updates/changes are supposed to improve the podcast syncing capabilities. I'm not sure whether it will make things better or worse. I think I'll wait a few more days before I download it. This is really starting to piss me off. My confidence is waning, and release notes that consist of one sentence don't help the matter. Come on Apple get your act together!
<http://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202814>
<http://www.apple.com/itunes/>

Colorado WeatherBusiness trip to the United Kingdom:
Since I started my new job, I expected that I might be selected to go on a business trip every now and then. Unfortunately, for the first year and a half (appx), my work environment wasn't the greatest... Everyone in our office (literally every employee in the same category as me) had gone on one or more business trips. For some unknown reason (never explained to me), my boss decided not to send me on any business trips. That was just one of the reasons why I volunteered to accept a 'temporary' assignment outside that branch - That temporary assignment became a permanent one after a protracted period of additional personnel issues, but that's a different and much longer story. Today's story is about a business trip to the U.K.

Now that I'm working in a new branch, my contributions, skills, knowledge and leadership abilities are actually valued. This was my third business trip since moving to a different branch/office. I was selected to accompany a small group of personnel (four of us) from our office to participate in a series of technical discussions and face to face meetings with some of our customers. The time zone difference makes it difficult for us to maintain proper customer relations without an occasional face to face meeting, so this meeting was necessary. It's been many years since a meeting of this type has occurred, and our leadership has decided that its time to rebuild our relationship with this important group of customers.

The trip lasted six days and we had a great set of productive meetings in the UK. While we spent most of our time in meetings with our customers, we did have some down time during the trip. Since I was the last to drive a right hand vehicle (on the left side of the street), I volunteered to do the driving. Unfortunately, one compact car for four people is way to small. Next time I'll request a larger vehicle. Our hotel was a charming historic building (it seems like every building in England is 'Historic' - Which kind of means 'Old') and we spent plenty of time crawling about the town from pub to restaurant to hotel. The jet lag coming back was quite a bear, but I lucked out on the trip. No travel issues, no car crashes, accidents, or tickets. I even managed to snap a few photos.
<http://robsworld.org/galleryphotos/index.php/England---Sep-2013>

Colorado WeatherIssues with SSL certificates:
A recurring problem returns. Lately (since I updated to Mac OS 10.8.5?), I've been experiencing some 'technical issues' with my Mac. It's been quite difficult to pin down, but the issue is related to SSL certificates. I've been experiencing some serious connectivity issues with applications and services which use SSL certificates to establish secure connections. I'm currently unable to use any chat, email or web services (web pages) which require SSL certificates. This isn't the first time I've experienced this problem. In the past, I've typically found that I could 'restart' or get around the problems with a 'permissions repair' followed by a reboot. Unfortunately, this doesn't seem to be working. I find myself scrambling around on the internet, looking for some secret remedy for these problems. Hopefully I'll find a solution soon. I'd like to use my computer to connect to secure websites, conduct chats using secured servers and check my email! Once again technology isn't easy, and finding an easy fix isn't always easy... I'll keep working to resolve the issue. Hopefully I won't need to 'reinstall' my entire operating system!

Colorado WeatherTorrential Downpour!
As the season approaches the closing days of Summer, we got slammed with rain! - Of all things. Inundated is the word I would use. Out of all the months of the year, it seems that someone has decided that late summer would be a good time to let loose with the mighty torrents. Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain! It sure did. Over a six day period we saw near constant rain. We don't get a lot of precipitation around here, so any amount is appreciated. From the 10th - 15th, we saw rain, thunderstorms and more rain. A considerable amount of precipitation:

10th - Rain and Thunderstorms: 1.85", 11th - Rain: 0.74", 12th - Rain 2.18", 13th - Rain: 0.51", 14th - Rain and Thunderstorms: 1.73", 15th - Rain: 1.54". Total = 11.14"

Thank goodness for the precipitation - Up until this event, Colorado had been in the midst of a drought. This is a huge amount of rain - I'm not kidding. In the period from 7 Sep 2012 to 7 Sep 2013, we had a total precipitation accumulation of 13.82 inches. Now, in the span of less than a week, we've accumulated 11.14"! That's just ridiculous for this part of Colorado. So much rain that the Governor (and the President) issued a 'State of Emergency'. Significant flooding inundated numerous parts of the state. You may have heard about it on the news!

[From Wikipedia] Starting on September 9, 2013, a slow-moving cold front stalled over Colorado, clashing with warm humid monsoonal air from the south. This resulted in heavy rain and catastrophic flooding along Colorado's Front Range from Colorado Springs north to Fort Collins. The situation intensified on September 11 and 12. Boulder County was worst hit, with 9.08 inches recorded September 12 and up to 17 inches of rain recorded by September 15, which is comparable to Boulder County's average annual precipitation (20.7 inches).

Like I said - We got a lot of rain!
<http://www.wunderground.com/history/airport/KBKF/2013/9/9/CustomHistory.html?dayend=16&monthend=9&yearend=2013&req_city=NA&req_state=NA&req_statename=NA>
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_Colorado_floods>

Deaf at the RockCentury Link - Liars!
Door to door sales - That's how this particular encounter with the professional liars began. On a typical sunny Sunday in beautiful Colorado. I was sitting in my living room, enjoying a refreshing beverage (Kim made some 'Zippy Lemonade') when the doorbell rang - Ding Dong! Immediately I suspect the worst (Well, not technically the worst, but figuratively I went to the most likely scenario - Someone trying to sell me something). Why, why must we be tortured on such a lovely day?!

I made my way to the door wondering what sort of sales pitch would it be today? When I got to the door, I found the smiling 'Century Link' representative. I went out onto the porch - I'm not going to stand there with the door open, and I'm certainly not going to invite them into the house... When I get out onto the porch the person asks what sort of internet service I have. I tell him I've got Comcast, because it's fast.

Yup - That's just the hook he's looking for, so he takes it and runs. He begins to spout off about Century link building out their 'Fiber Optic' network in my neighborhood. He tells me how all my neighbors are signing up for high-speed internet that makes Comcast pale in comparison. How I can get upload and download speeds up to 1GBps for less than my current internet service. He's parotting the recent media releases that indicate Century Link is going to make fiber available to residents in the Denver area. I've seen the commercials and read the add copy.

It all sounds good, but it's all a Lie! and I know it. Just that week, I had been online checking to see whether Century Link had built out their fiber optic network into my neighborhood. They haven't. They've got a tool/form, where you can enter your address and it'll tell you the maximum speed available for your address. So I stop him mid-sentence, and I tell him "You're lying, you can't provide me with 1GBps or anything faster than 12MBps in this neighborhood" - He looks shocked... I tell him that I just checked on the availability of fiber in this neighborhood, and there isn't any. I asked him to name one of my neighbors who signed up for this 'super-fast' broadband deal he was trying to sell. No answer. I tell him that I know the names of all my neighbors, I'm heavily involved in the Neighborhood Watch, and I'm involved in the HOA. I know my neighbors and their addresses. Name one who's getting more than 12MBps... No answer.

He comes back with a lame response. "I assure you that you can get faster speeds than 12MBps" - I stop him again. "So you're telling me that the website is lying? That you know better than the online tool? If that's so then give me the name of one neighbor who's getting the fiber hook-up." I continue. "Maybe I could get better than 12MBps if you ran multiple phone lines into my home." You could bind the lines together to get a speed beyond the normal 12MBps. That certainly wouldn't be less than the cost of comparable Comcast speeds. He must realize that he's been outmaneuvered. He takes a step backward off my step as he says "I guess you're happy with Comcast" - Whatever, I may not be 'Happy' with Comcast, but I'm not going to listen to this guys lies.

After he left, I went back online to check on the availability of fiber in my neighborhood - Nope. No signs of fiber in this area, and no estimate on when it might be available. I'm not sure why this jerk decided to 'sell' fiber in our neighborhood - It's not available here. What was he going to sell me? I'm already getting faster speeds than Centurylink can offer in this neighborhood...
<http://www.city-data.com/forum/denver/1883021-internet-service-comcast-century-link-2.html>
<http://www.centurylink.com/home/internet/>

Deaf at the RockGoing Deaf while Eating Out:
Typically, when Kim and I go out to eat, we're looking for a pleasurable experience. One that includes some good food, a friendly atmosphere and maybe a drink or two. What we're not looking for is deafness, or an environment that might make us deaf. Unfortunately, despite our best intentions, the atmosphere at 'The Rock Restaurant & Bar' in Aurora Colorado was much louder than we could stand. A locally owned/operated restaurant near our home, the Rock is one of the places we've been to before. The food is O.k. - It gets 3 out of 5 stars in most reviews, but the prices make up for the average menu selections. On this outing we ordered something that would be quick to prepare and fast to eat. We didn't want to spend a minute more inside than we had to.

Why didn't we want to stick around? LOUD - That's why. The restaurant was so loud, I thought I was going to go deaf. It was so loud it made my ears hurt. The place was packed, but they obviously didn't have any type of noise abatement materials anywhere in the restaurant. After we got to our seats, we order some drinks and an appetizer. I immediately pulled out my iPhone and fired up my sound meter. After a minute or so, the App recorded the average noise level as 92dB. That's loud! For comparison, a motorcycle at 25ft emits noise in the range of 90dB. An operating newspaper press reaches typical levels of 97dB. Standing next to a running lawn mower exposes you to a level of approximately 90dB. 90dB is four times as loud as 70dB, and hearing damage is likely to occur from prolonged exposure (6.1 hours) to sounds exceeding 92dB.

We ate our food and left as quickly as we could. It wasn't the loudest restaurant we've eaten at, but there's nothing that will ruin my dinner worse than an unbearable amount of noise. I don't think we'll visit 'The Rock' for quite some time, and if we do we'll come at a time outside the weekend dinner crowd. I feel for the wait staff, they certainly can't use ear-plugs while they take your order. They're forced to endure this noise day in and day out.
<https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=STANDARDS&p_id=9736>
<https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/audio-meter/id655860711?mt=8>
<http://rockrestaurantandbar.com>

Sep 10, 2013

iPhone 5sThe new iPhone:
New iPhones were just announced by Apple! The new iPhone 5S and a surprising new product the iPhone 5C. The new iPhone 5S features a 64bit A7 processor (designed by Apple). The iSight camera (back of the camera) has an 8MP sensor, and a new dual flash to improve exposure. The phone also has a touch ID security sensor built into the 'home' button.

With a 64bit chip powering the phone, developers can create faster apps. This is a significant leap in the 'smart-phone' category. Previously reserved for desktops only, the 64bit processor is a beefy beast, capable of significant feats of computing prowess. Gamers will definitely welcome this move, as will anyone who runs more than one app at a time. Doubling the CPU and graphics performance is a powerful step forward in the smart-phone arena.

In addition to the hardware upgrade, the iOS updates are significant as well. Control center and Notification Updates join AirDrop, enhanced Safari, Siri and iTunes capabilities. Combine the CPU upgrade with a 'Touch ID' and you've got a winning combination. The improved camera sensor (the all new 8-MP iSight camera has a larger aperture, a larger sensor with smaller pixels, and better low-light sensitivity mean I'll spend less time lugging my point and shoot around. Having one device that does it all is the ultimate convenience. As Steve Jobs once said "An iPod, a phone, an internet mobile communicator… An iPod, a phone, an internet mobile communicator… An iPod, a phone, an internet mobile communicator… Do you get it? These are not three separated devices. This is one device, and we are calling it iPhone."

The new iPhone 5C is basically an iPhone 5, but made of plastic... A lower cost choice that makes use of unsold phones in a repackaged wrapper. I like the new colors, but the real winner is the new iPhone 5S. I'll be buying a new one as soon as my contract comes to an end.
<http://www.apple.com/iphone/compare/>
<http://www.apple.com/ios/>

No SpamDear ICANN, please stop the Spammers!
ICANN - The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. A non-profit organization in charge of the Internet. They're responsible for coordinating the overall maintenance and methodology of the public internet. In charge of assigning, arranging and granting permission to registrars so that they can register, sell and maintain the domains, networks and websites that constitute the internet. Basically they're the cops charged with keeping the internet stable and secure. Maintaining standards, databases, registrations, enforcing the standards and collecting the fees that keep it all running. While ICANN isn't directly in charge of doing anything about spam, they are responsible for registrars, the companies that dole out, maintain and host various domain names. Names such as 'reallycheapcanadiandrugsforyou.com' and 'spankmybottomunderagehookers.com' (not real domains). When a company registers these domains, they are required to do so using verifiable and legitimate contact information. Like a real address and a real phone number and a real email address. If the organization registering the domain is planning (or currently engaged in) some nefarious activity, they might register the owners name as "Juan Carlos" or "Joe Smith" at "1234 Somewhere St., Anytown, CA 90012" phone number: (200) 837-5309" and an email address of "spammyjoe@example.org" - If a registrar permits this sort of behavior, they're violating the rules/terms of service between them and ICANN. If someone complains that they can't contact the owners of the website: "spankmybottomunderagehookers.com", ICANN is required to conduct an investigation, demand compliance, fine the non-compliant operators and shut down those that simply refuse to operate iaw the rules... So what could go wrong?

The answer? Plenty - (Note that this is all my opinion) If you rely on money to keep going - Just because its a "non-profit" doesn't mean they don't make any money - then you need and want money to keep going. If you cut off your supply of money you go out of business. If the biggest clients are also the biggest spammers, then you've got a big problem. How do you continue to take their money, when you should be shutting them down? I know - You pretend to be shutting them down! You pretend to do investigations, you cover for them any way you can. You point in the other direction. You blame the people who report problems. You hire people who aren't capable of doing investigations. You refuse to provide information. There's plenty of ways you could put on a show (again - this is just speculation and opinion).

During the month of September, 2014, I sent an email to the Ombudsman (someone who is supposed to act as a liaison between the general public and the bureaucratic miasma that is the internal machinations of ICANN. Someone who's supposed to bring our concerns (those of the unwashed masses) to the all-mighty rulers of the ICANN. (my opinion/interpretation). My letter basically asked ICANN to enforce the compliance of Registrar violations (in effect shut down those registrars who harbor spammers). At the end of my letter, I restated the problem and my request:

My name is Robert L. Vaessen. I am a domain registrant, an internet user, and a recipient of abuse at the hands of individuals who have taken advantage of lax 'internet enforcement' in order to send me spam, forge my email address, steal my identity, implicate me in spam messages sent to others, and target my domain hosting services for flood attacks. Spammers and criminals who hide behind false WHOIS registration information, lax enforcement (by ICANN) and complicit registrars are destroying the internet in order to profit off the sales of illicit services and illegal goods. The only authority in a position to stop these 'bad actors' is ICANN. Without strong oversight and enforcement by ICANN, we will never defeat this scourge of the internet.

On the 9th of September, 2013, I received a 'reply' from the ICANN ombudsman. It was a mass email, sent out to several people who had complained during a declared 'comments' period. The email gave me some hope. Hope that ICANN's ombudsman might actually conduct an investigation, might actually keep me informed, might actually work to ensure that our concerns (those of people who have been abused by the system and those who take advantage of lax enforcement) are heard by ICANN.
<https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/correspondence/bruen-to-chehade-22apr13-en.pdf>
<https://www.icann.org/resources/pages/affirmation-of-commitments-2009-09-30-en>
<http://www.robsworld.org/lettertoicann_08sep2013.png>
<http://www.knujon.com/icann_compliance_2012.pdf>
<http://www.robsworld.org/index2.html#fightingspam>
<http://www.robsworld.org/whybother.html>
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KnujOn>
<http://www.damnspammers.com>
<http://www.knujon.com>

GPGMailBitmessage on my Mac:
I have an interest in encryption. Many people are interested in privacy and encryption. Personal privacy is important. Corporate privacy is important. Keeping your communications secure is important. In the past spammers used to routinely target my digital identity by forging messages to look like they came from me (I used to get a lot of spammers shut down, back in the early days of the war against spammers). I don't spend as much time fighting spammers and scammers as I used to, but I've learned a lot about protecting my identity. One way to protect your privacy through email is by using encryption. A recent interest is something called Bitmessage.

[From Wikipedia] Bitmessage is a decentralized, encrypted, peer-to-peer, trustless communications protocol that can be used by one person to send encrypted messages to another person, or to multiple subscribers. Bitmessage encrypts each users' message inbox using strong encryption and replicates it inside its P2P network mixing it with inboxes of other users in order to conceal user's identity, prevent eavesdropping and protect the network from any control. The Bitmessage communication protocol avoids sender-spoofing through strong authentication, and hides metadata from wiretapping systems. [/From Wikipedia] - So it's a decentralized peer-to-peer messaging service. Each users inbox; yes the entire inbox - is encrypted, bundled into a single message, and delivered to everyone hosting the peering service. There is no single place where the service resides. There's no way to 'shut down' the service as there is no single server hosting the the service. All peering machines conduct the encryption, message routing, and decryption. The encryption is strong: Using ECDA (elliptic curve digital-signature algorithm) algorithms for encryption. The message and all headers are decrypted. Each peering machine must 'do work' in order to generate and send encrypted messages. This helps prevent use by spammers, as generation of thousands of encrypted messages would take far too much CPU cycles to be worth the effort - As long as there are traditional methods (bot nets of compromised machines, email accounts and weak email servers) available. Bitmessage makes use of the public key model for exchange of client to client communications. The model includes receipt exchange, allows for TOR networking and uses broadcast capabilities for mailing lists/public forums in a subscription model.

I originally installed and used the bitmessage peer-to-peer mailing list/mailing list client. It took considerable effort to install all the binaries, libraries and link all the files on my Mac. Maintaining a working copy on my Mac was impossible. As soon as new versions came out I found myself facing a new round of linux style installs, which didn't always work properly. Troubleshooting followed, then cursing, then completely starting over, the more frustration, then downloading of stand-alone pre-compiled apps, then those failed to work. Now I'm left with a pile of files woven into my OS that I can't extract, can't get to work, and can't update. A disaster in the making. I used the peer-to-peer messaging/mailing list capability for a few months. During that time I discovered a vast, uncensored channel of varied voices. Unfortunately, all the channels eventually devolved into the lowest common denominators of name calling, pseudo spamming and intellectually barren diatribes of racism, hypocrisy and conspiracy. I've since given up on the peer-to-peer messaging capabilities, and settled on the more useful but less entertaining private messaging capabilities of Bitmessage.

[From Wikipedia] Bitmessage.ch, also known as Bitmessage Mail Gateway (BMG), is a service that allows you to use your E-Mail client (or the webmail) for sending and receiving Bitmessages over clearnet, Tor, and I2P.This allows sending and receiving of email anonymously, to email addresses inside and outside these networks. Bitmessage.ch offers webmail, pop3, IMAP and SMTP access to email clients. [/From Wikipedia] The Bitmessage Mail Gateway is a way to anonymously send and receive Bitmessages (encrypted using the peer-to-peer decentralized communications protocol). This application of bitmessage doesn't require users to install binaries or libraries on their personal computers. Even after the peer-to-peer messaging app (PyBitmessage) completely ceased to function, I was (am) still able to use the email end of Bitmessage in order to send and receive encrypted messages anonymously You can set up unique/anonymous Bitmessage accounts (email addresses) on the Bitmessage website. Then send email through the gateway (use either open, TOR or I2P networks). You can check/receive messages using the gateway or your traditional email client application.

I'm not an expert on this stuff (encryption, peer-to-peer networking, shared work, and key exchange), but I enjoy education myself about these efforts to keep email secure. I plan to use these bit message email services and addresses in order to securely communicate with various individuals while maintaining my anonymity. What's my bitmessage email address? Well, if I publish it in the open, and associate it with my open identity (i.e. Robert Vaessen = BitMessage.ch), I would completely eliminate my ability to use it anonymously. If you'd like to communicate with me securely, just encrypt your message with GPG/PGP and send me an email using an identity/email address that is tied to your public key. If that's all too difficult for you then you might want to do a bit more research before you attempt secure communications.
<http://bitmailendavkbec.onion/squirrelmail/src/login.php> (You'll need to use TOR to access this link)
<https://www.gnupg.org/documentation/guides.html> (Learn more about email encryption ang Gnu Privacy Guard)
<http://anonymouse.org/cgi-bin/anon-email.cgi> (An anonymous email gateway)
<http://www.robsworld.org/encryption.html> (My public keys)
<http://www.robsworld.org/feedback.html>
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bitmessage>
< https://bitmessage.org/wiki/Main_Page>
<http://bitmsg.cc>

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. I recently made a few updates to our community website:

  • Welcome: The website's opener. A page containing an introduction to our community website. Here you'll find all the latest news and announcements.
    • I rearranged the banners and announcements on the front page - It's something I do to indicate a change (updates) in the content.
    • Updated the dates for an upcoming Newbridge At Tollgate HOA meeting date. Next meeting date is 1 Oct, 2014.
    • I removed the pool is 'Open' announcement, and removed the picture of our community pool.
  • Events: A detailed listing of upcoming and recurring events in and around Tollgate Crossing. Here is more detailed information regarding some of the events you may have read about on the 'Welcome' page. It's also a place to look for long term/recurring events.
    • I updated the announcements regarding the next Newbridge At Tollgate HOA meeting.

FYI: My 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 graciously 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; not the MD or HOA board or the management company. 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>

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'. That's the case this month. I recently received an email from the 'FBI'. Of course your first reaction to an email from the FBI is going to be 'it gets your attention'. They don't send out trivial jokes, friend requests, recipes or FaceBook postings. You're probably not on their mailing list, and am email from America's Federal Bureau of Investigation is definitely going to get your attention. Especially if you live in the U.S.

Here's a glimpse of the ridiculous message I recently received (27 Nov, 2012). It's filled with typos, bad grammar, and humorous spammers tactics. It's so preposterous in fact, that I'm almost convinced that it's just a spoof. A quick check of the internet reveals that I'm not the only one to receive this ridiculous spam message.

Stupid Spammers

Aside from the preposterous premise that the FBI is helping me claim the $10.5 million dollars that have been 'manifested' in my name. The money is related to terrorism, money laundering, and drug trafficking, but the FBI wants to help me get my money. I just have to pay the FBI $678 dollars in order to get my release documents! Sometimes spammers just make me laugh. :-)
<http://www.robsworld.org/stupidestscammerever.png>
<http://www.robsworld.org/index2.html#fightingspam>
<http://www.robsworld.org/whybother.html>
<http://www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/e-scams>
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KnujOn>
<http://www.damnspammers.com>
<http://www.knujon.com>

Green AppleApple's Green Initiatives:
Lately Apple's been beefing up it's efforts to 'Green' the company. A recently announced initiative by Apple (the iPhone Trade in Program) puts a gift card in your hands if you turn in your old iPhone when you buy a new one. In an effort to bolster its numbers for recycling of iPhones, it's willing to give people a discount on the purchase of their new iPhones. The whole deal is a bit constrained. You get a gift card if you turn in an old iPhone. You can only use the gift card to purchase a new iPhone? You have to bring your old iPhone to an Apple Retail Store to get the gift certificate. The 'iPhone Reuse and Recycle Program' began on the 30th of August, 2013. There's a lot of requirements to use the program. You must bring your old iPhone to an Apple Store. The phone must be on contract, the new phone must be activated in the store. You don't get any choice/competition in the price/discount you get for the trade in. The EasyPay contract is the only option. The sales person shows you the offer, and you either take it or leave it. Of course you can always leave it and get a better offer from some other company, but that's less convenient. Then you have to deal with all the hassle of shipping and waiting for your check to arrive. You get a gift card in the store, but it has to be used towards the purchase of a new iPhone - You have to buy it the same day... You turn in the old iPhone, they (backup optional) transfer your data to the new phone. You keep the old SIM card. Then they activate the new phone. Finally, they process your transaction and get a discount... It's all a bit complicated, and I may have gotten the sequence wrong, but if your set on a new iPhone, and want to get rid of your old one, this process will save you a fair chunk of change and the hassle of having to sell or recycle your old iPhone.
<http://9to5mac.com/2013/08/27/apples-iphone-reuse-and-recycle-trade-in-program-detailed-begins-rolling-out-this-week/>
<http://store.apple.com/us/iphone/reuse-and-recycling>
<http://store.apple.com/us/browse/reuse_and_recycle>
<https://www.apple.com/recycling/gift-card/>
<http://store.apple.com/us/help/recycle>
<https://www.apple.com/recycling/>

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: 8.8.1 (b1323), 8.8.1 (b1329). 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/graphic-converter/overview-of-new-features-and-versions/>
<http://www.lemkesoft.de/en/products/graphic-converter/key-features/>
<http://www.lemkesoft.org/files/graphicconverter/notes/1200.html>
<http://www.lemkesoft.org>

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>

D&D iconD&D updates:
Like all D&D campaigns, our campaign has gains and loses. Over the last few months (Jan - Apr) we saw at least six players announce their departures from our campaign. After dealing with all those changes, I still had one vacancy I was trying to fill. Keeping the campaign fully staffed is a full time endeavor. After that disruption in our campaign, I fell far behind on the "Rob's World!" website. I'm still updating, but I'm way, way, way behind. I'm writing this September 2013 entry in July of 2014, and catching up is something I may never do, but I'm trying. At the moment, I'm going through my notes and I see that I posted some new D&D material back in September of 2013. That material was something new for the campaign - A 'Clues Gallery':

Clues Gallery:
A new feature for the D&D campaign. Given the fact that there's no limit on the amount of storage space I'm permitted to use (for the website), I decided to start posting scans of the clues I produce for the adventures/adventurers. The Clues Gallery are several scanned clues from the current adventure. In an effort to help the players and provide some content for fans of the D&D campaign, I've posted these scans online. You can view four pages of clues online. Right now I've only got clues from the current adventure, but I plan to update the gallery as more clues are discovered; eventually adding whole new catalogs for separate adventures.
<http://www.robsworld.org/sewerclues/sewercluescatalog.html>

3rd Edition Campaign:
I updated the date of our next meeting - Our next meeting will take place on the 14 Sep, 2014 (It's a meeting that's come and gone, as I'm writing this in the future... Sort of - Wow that would be difficult to explain, so just ignore these comments). 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 still looking (again) for one additional player to join our campaign. If you think you've got what it takes to be a 'Hallowed Knight' (or a member of 'Nothing but Trouble') send me an email.
<http://www.robsworld.org/3ecampaign.html>

These updates follow one of our meetings in August of 2013 (sort of). You can keep up to date with our adventures by continuing to visit "Rob's World!" for all the latest campaign info. I'm trying to keep these documents up to date for the benefit of our current players, former players and lurkers of all sorts. 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://robsworld.org/mailman/listinfo/dndcampaign_robsworld.org>
<http://www.robsworld.org/3ecampaign.html>

Music CollectionSeptember's Sonic Blast:
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 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 / the music industry wants 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, 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 major label 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, Audiolizer, Presto, Jango or GrooveShark?). 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 (Sep of 2013) I downloaded 55 tracks (from eMusic) at the low cost of $23.08... I'm paying a $19.99 monthly fee, so that makes the tracks even cheaper (~$0.36 / 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 available 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.

*All of this and Nothing - The Psychedelic Furs: (14) A favorite band from the 80s. Here's a compilation containing many of their best hits. I believe I've got all their albums (I had 'Book of Days' but can't find my copy anywhere), but I mistakenly thought this compilation contained tracks I hadn't heard before. Silly me... Still a great band.
* Killer Sounds - Hard-Fi: (19) A new album by one of my favorite groups! New to me -New to many. Released in 2011, this album follows a four year break in the bands activity. This album is much better than the 2007 release - Once upon a time in the West. Hopefully its a good sign. Hopefully we won't have to wait four more years for the next release.
* Give 'Em enough rope - The Clash: (10) Right - You can pretend you don't know who the Clash is, and if you're 20 years old, I might believe you. No one can mistake their sound for any of the post-punk posers who pretend to harness angst in an 'artsy' manner. I love this album. Highly under-rated.
* O.k. Computer - Radiohead: (12) My first and only Radiohead album. It's a bit dense, with far more going on than I was bargaining for. There's a lot of sonic subtlety here. I guess I'll have to 'tune-in' in order to get all of it. If you're looking for simplicity this is the wrong band. This one is an eMusic editor's recommendation.

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://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_online_music_databases#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>