Category Archives: pabulum

Pabulum– Stuff to Think About!

Facebook Ransom

[Draft: Money Matters, Aug 01 2019

Locked Out Of Facebook? Can I please reach a Human about this?
No. Here is Why, based on the ever valuable & interesting Statistics
Here, I am being conservative:
As of June 2019, there are 2.41 billion ‘active users’ (Define that though : ). 83 million of which are thought to be fake (but how?)
which though less than .03% has a disproportionate effect.
That’s also Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger which Facebook operates.

I am using the USA definition of Billion (1000 million not the UK a million million) AND This Calculator to help me.
1.6 billion of whom log on average once per day.
I’ll use the larger Active User figure, just cos I can.

Facebook has about 40,000 employees worldwide which means in its crudest form, one employee per 6000 ‘active accounts’ which log in an average of 20 minutes a day.

Facebook is “Free” for you and me. If Facebook is not a commodity you pay for, then, as they say, you ARE the commodity. You will be engaged and monetized with ads, etc, but no one can afford the slim margins spread over a vast array of users to talk to you personally even at third world rates of perhaps a dollar an hour for Facebook Tech Support.

So, much of the Security about fake accounts, hack attempts etc are managed by AI (Artificial Intelligence) algorithms that are constantly being tweaked to look for unusual behaviors or reports.

Machine Learning (Big at Google!) is a different beast and ‘learns’ from Past Experience of hacks… and its own simulations.
Such a strategy has had the oriental game “Go!” beat the world champion written by programmers who do not know how to even play “Go!”!

What to Humans do that machines have trouble doing?
If you have been Locked Out of your account you will find out.
You are liekly to persist through a number of means:
“Use your registered cell phone to get a code and verify it’s you”
Well– that avenue has been cracked by script hackers with bogus Texting Accounts online.
So the Text never gets delivered. So you try a few more times.
Then FB wants you to uplaod drvier’s license, etc, all of which can of course be done by machiens and faked… I could go on…
EVENTUALLY the algorithm may then pass on your dilemma in a link to an associate in the Phillipines who may review the site according to strict guidelines with FAcebook>>>

But, how did oyu get locked out in the first place?

  1. By an algorithm, automatically, it thought something did not look right
  2. Automatically, for the hell of it, kind of like an IRS audit without any particular triggers (1%!)
  3. Complaints. Legitimate or Otherwise– FB Does Not Care.
  4. Bogus Complaints by cyber saboteurs.
    (Amazon experiences this!)
  5. Your own failed Login attempts etc.My Advice? Persist and Move On!
  6. Consider the huge fines wages against FB and how they make money and why:
    – their first obligation is to their shareholders
    – Their revenue is threefold:
    Targeted ads
    Aggregated data
    Personal Data. It’s this last one that got their wrist smacked with a $1B+ fine
    Shareholder tried to get rid of Mark Zuckerberg but as he is a majority shareholder– they cannot

Google Edible Websites

Basics of making your site Found By Google
This is technically called “SEO” (search Engine Optimizing) about which tomes have been written.
But without these basics below- None of that will help you.

You are wasting time and money buying Google Ad Words etc.
if you do not first make your website attractive to Google’s organic (free) search algorithms,   and by inference, most other Search sites.
You would not stick a costly billboard in a ditch or swamp-
so do the homework, and do it with your own site.
We assume you have some sort of website UP already.
So Let’s Check it

As of May 2019: (things change rapidly!)

1) – You cannot afford NOT to have an SSL/Secure site certificate installed. you ONLY need a free Domain Certificate issued by the likes of https://www.letsencrypt.com   regardless of what you are doing at the site, even if you are not taking payments or using any forms. CHECK YOUR SITE using the SSL link:
httpS://yoursite… *AND* http://yoursite.
Site must work whichever you use.
Your Internet provider will help.
If they cannot or will not help, then they ave no business selling pages or hosting. It should NOT cost much or even anything to do it
More from Google Here

2) Check Redirections– if the non secure site http://yoursite… is used it should REDIRECT (301) any page visited to the SECURE version
Here is Google’s take on that. Try My Site: http://artoflogic.com
(Opens a new tab- close it after test)
Note it starts: HTTP:/… But redirects to HTTPS://

3) Ideally site would treat usage the same whether or not “www..” is in front of the name by redirecting as above, normally to the SHORTER name, but either way will do. Mine goes to “www…” for historical reasons : )

4) The site must have robots.txt and a sitemap.xml.
Ideally files have some clever entries but first and foremost–
must EXIST.
They are publicly readable on any site that uses them  which will be most of them.
You can find yours by using your Base Site, removing all page URLs and adding a slash and /robots.txt IE for My site, it’s:
https://www.artoflogic.com/robots.txt

5) Site must use at least one “Sitemap” which is a friendly Directory Page to help Google know what’s new,  important,  relevant or changed rather than their having to ‘crawl’ you site as in the old days
The default name is: sitemap.xml and contains considerable technical blurb, and may look odd if you try to view it. But it should EXIST
Try yours by adding /sitemap.xml to the end of your domain name
Mine is here, for example:
https://www.artoflogic.com/sitemap.xml

6) If you are using the likes of WordPress, Joomla!, Drupal, etc. much, but not all of this trivia is taken care of FOR you.
But Check Check Check it anyway, and assume nothing.
Plug ins and add-ons like Yoast!
take care of much of but not all of this
Sites like WIX, SQUARESPACE  tend to do this for all you anyway with no action required, but CHECK IT ALL ANYWAY

7) Buying Google AdWords is IN ADDITION to all the above and is a bonus way to gain hits… But BEFORE you do this, Goggle provides many free tools with names like Google Analytics.
You should learn about how Google sees your site already.
It is NOT a cat and mouse game as it used to be–
Google is quite helpful about how to best interest their search algorithms, ergo Google users.
You will not surprisingly need a free Google account to do this,
https://myaccount.google.com after which you can sign up for the free Webmaster Tools
https://www.google.com/webmasters
From there on follow Google’s instructions on how to verify you own site you are offering to them and then Add your verified site to the google  “Search Console”.

8) *TIME*. a New Website will need to be around awhile before it has some provenance and interest for Google, it’s not easy to force this issue, not should it be.

9) Links In: Page & Brin’s first patent on google- ‘Page Rank’
Find ways to get people or pages to link *IN* to your site as an ‘authority’ referenced by other well ranked sites.
If they are well-respected it will rub off on you. and Don’t Cheat or pay shysters with Promises. Scamming De-Ranks You!
From here on out it is a dizzying array of tweaks and suggestions about INCREASING your ability to be found-
I ALWAYS try using Google in Anonymous Mode in Chrome (so Cookies will not be used and I shall see Searches as a fresh visitor would) and even use a free VPN proxy to appear to come from ‘elsewhere’  (Free 500MB per month) on the Internet as some searches involve regional/locale  factors and you can see things as ‘others’ see them elsewhere this way

Learn from the Google Webmaster Tools what words people are using to find you. Consider that most searches are fairly generic and will NOT be looking for your special “Celo Polka Cola” website,
(it does exist and it’s not mine!)
so that it Should be findable as “Unusual cola” “rare soda brand” etc “novelty pop” etc– you get the idea..!

That’s Enough For Now.
Suggestions Welcomed!

Cormorants at Hoover Dam

While looking down the 700 foot face drop of the Hoover dam from the top and squinting at the swirly water coming out of the turbines far below,  just where it continues down stream, I noticed some rather inconspicuous black birds with narrow wings.

They were swirling around In the updrafts and air eddys from the strong wind rushing upstream over the river in the gorge  and lifting up the concrete face of that there dam.

They do not seem to be very good flyers and flapped like crazy but the updraft of air took care of everything and their tatty looking bodies, Feathers all ruffled, were whisked in ever rising circles dramatically ever higher towards me at the top

The movements were too erratic and they were too tiny to Capture on film so I just enjoyed  trying to figure out what they were as the each of about four whirled into view…

About the point where they zoomed over the crest of the dam & over my head, I marveled  to see that they were actually cormorants,

Normally deep diving and fishing skinny black waterbirds, weak flyers not known to make good use of the their air mode of transport, and definitely not soaring birds such as condors gulls And Eagles.

Several of them then shot behind the dam then downward into the calm waters Of Lake Mead below where they continued peacefully fishing and diving there.

Ironically they don’t have oil in their feathers so they don’t even float very well as ducks might

This is what makes them great divers.

I thought “Jonathan Livingston cormorant” for a moment

And then rephrased that in my head :“against all odds “

How these birds learn to do this is anybody’s guess but my feeling is that flying anywhere over that water they inevitably get blown up the dam face by the powerful up currents ..

Yet I saw no other birds doing this.

So they might as well enjoy and the outcome is not bad.

I guess they fly out away from the dam face to get down again, but I didn’t see this.

I doubt theirs is a one-way journey.

The dam itself being artificial is very smooth and there’s very little turbulence, unlike there would be on a rugged natural cliff face where they would be spun to death by the air rotors..

Natural selection at work?

Be interesting to stick around to see!

They have had since the 1930s to Get selected 🙂

[April 2019]

Las Vegas Confusions

Las Vegas confusion

I parked my RV in the circus circus RV lot for $20 a night and set out on foot at dusk to go look at the Strip,

aiming for the Luxor, That giant pyramidal  black building about 4 miles up north Las Vegas strip, Which has a powerful beam shooting into the night sky above. It’s visible from everywhere – a good landmark.

Or so I thought.

I believe it used to be a green krypton laser but perhaps it accidentally shot some planes down so now it’s just a powerful Arc-light of some sort

I took in & easily entered  the Bellagio, the Venetian and all usual spots and was gradually unnerved & immediately disoriented to the extent that I could Neither picture which direction I was walking nor how to get out, even by backtracking.

I have a very good sense of direction so I felt quite thrown

Google maps was thrown too because it is not good in large pedestrian areas

I asked various staff for the exit and they seemed a bit confused too.

Knowing what fire marshals would have to say about this even in the state of Nevada, I followed green EXIT signs but the only effect of this was to take me into some other concrete skyway or laboratory  of human confusion.

Sometimes I looking down on the street below that I was trying hard to reach again.

I suppose the idea was that if a fire broke out you didn’t have to continue gambling in that particular building but could continue throwing the money away elsewhere,

MGM Appears to own everything so perhaps it just doesn’t matter anyway

More or less at random at some point I found  myself back on the street again, Totally turned around and the Alien beacon of the Luxor was in completely the wrong part of the sky. It was an unaccustomed act of faith to assume that that remained the correct direction to walk..

Yet the fun was not over.

Being on foot I had to cross a number of intersections that were railed off against foot traffic.

Very reasonably an overhead pedestrian bridge was provided in several places, Easy to locate and use. However, once exiting the skyway on the far side back we were inside among the slot machines..

(– no,  that’s incorrect none of them take coins anymore – They are now all video poker and fruit machines…)

And a further disorienting experience.

How does one get back  down to the street having crossed it?

I want to be outside!

The answer appears to be, “at random” Because following exit signs does not have the desired effect at all.

I was never so preoccupied that I did not have plenty of time to observe my fellow wanderers And environment..

It’s an enormously  eclectic blend of humanity who also seemed happily disoriented, nobody going in any particular direction as you might expect ants to do,

but rather randomly jiggling around to and fro back-and-forth and intersecting each other, Seemingly purposeless, but with an over arching urge to be fleeced and entertained.

Here I am thinking and writing about it when the words of Hunter Thompson came to mind where he described “gonzo journalism”

as being the observer and the observed one & the same rather than an objective judgment.

I was not about to be fleeced, except mentally, and I was definitely in the belly of the the exact same beast As my fellow jitterbuggers.

I would not say there is fear and loathing here now because the Las Vegas I visited 40 years before, hitchhiking on my second trip to the United States, Was the one that Hunter Thompson knew- a scruffy dry dump prominently operated by the mafia for the sole purpose of shady gambling and indulging the prostitution unavailable elsewhere

Now it has a Disneyesque  feel Where all neon has been replaced with stunningly impressive giant LED displays , Over-the-top stage shows, Solid national conferences all the time for everything you could imagine And the ever present brassy  posters for prostitution where, however, no naughty bits may ever even be hinted at visually Let alone be shown uncovered.

(Later on, off the strip somewhat I found pole dancing supply merchants, lap dancing trainers and my favorite- A Taoist  restaurant)

Las Vegas is plagued with innuendo about winning, sexuality, self assurance and celebrity.

A loudspeaker outside a casino proudly announces over & over  that they would give you $20 back of the first $100 you lost there. This simple mind bending illogicality Is still ringing in my head.
Good old fashioned Carny hawking and shystering in doorways– now gone.

A discrete law-enforcement shoos away the homeless & the bankrupt, And city fathers utterly gentrify–Yet somehow never lose-the remaining tasteless job of separating anybody from his, her or its money.

Alcohol used to be the drug of choice here; now there are cannabis ads everywhere.

14 miles walk later I return exhausted to my RV and a shower while marveling how many extra miles were added by the circumambulations My fitness watch shows.

I lie thinking how I love loathing Las Vegas
I loathe that I love it, I fear-

I fondle it. For it express is my very own confusion and disorientation, What I could not reveal to myself.

This place is my nemesis, my brain hacking tool.

My brain track wrecker and habit smasher. Nothing here is as it seems.

It worked, and I thank it. And will stay away for another few years, digesting. my temple visit of being turned upside down over,

Next day I return to starry eyed wanderings in the remote desert just a few dozen  miles away,

Going north again

With my now less challenged so called self,

whatever that self now is become,

Where I don’t have to think

quite so much any more.

April 2019

Refurbish Reel to reel Tape Recorder

Under Construction! Blog!

The Project: I have about 20 reel to reel tapes from the late 50’s and then the 60’s s that belonged to my Dad who died in 1994, and about 10 of my own from the 1970s and 80s, but nothing to play them back on.
Enter the local Hospice Thrift and Gift shop and a slightly battered 1964 reel to reel tape recorder for $15.00 .
Though I used to service tube powered stuff years ago, any spares would have been a big deal as would the voltages involved.
(90+ DC!) But This was all transistors (“Solid State”!) Yea!
I located at least three separate sets of voltages used by the deck:
~22v V DC for the transistor record & playback amplifier,
~155 V DC to trip a large solenoid used to reverse tape direction
6V AC to power pilot lamps.

two large old capacitors for 2 power supply lines

This 1964 Panasonic  reel to reel tape recorder has several separate power supplies for its amplifier, relay electronics and more. I wanted to be sure its ancient transistor amplifier got a decent smooth DC voltage.  I measured and monitored   all voltages,  including what was coming out of the AC transformer


Lower right is the removed  inch square selenium bridge rectifier to convert 16V AC to 22 v DC for the amplifier;,
It had been screwed to the chassis to dissipate potentially (lethal!) Heat and discourage thermal runaway   (the peak of the AC is 1.414.times higher than the RMS “Average” value the meter reports as it sees ‘power’ not ‘peaks’)
these have questionable leakage characteristics and the pre

Old versus New: Rectifiers. (AKA:Diodes)

sent danger that if they overheat, noxious reeking selenium fumes would result.
No Thanks!
Upper right are four 1N4004 modern silicon rectifiers (1c/piece!) I am arranging in a square ‘bridge’ which is a full wave rectifier to replace the large selenium one. They can take an amp of current and withstand up to 400v reverse current. They drop 0.6v each so dissipate little power unlike selenium’s 1-3v.
Should do nicely as a current check showed circuit barely used 250mA- a quarter the rating


Home Brew Bridge Rectifier
Home Brew Bridge Rectifier

Lets solder those four together. AC leads from transformer are to the left- Heat shrink tubing keeps it all isolated. Silicon rectifiers seem pretty heat resistant yet I used retractors (lower right) to sink the soldering heat away from hurting the plastic / ceramic packaging.


Same Rating, 50+ years apart
Joining rectifiers to capacitor

 

Old versus New- about 1/20th the size! I had used retractors to sink the heat on the leads during soldering, Capacitors have liquid juice in them that  can get damaged by excess heat.

Post Mortem- the old capacitor. Signs of corrosion on its electrodes and Not Much Electrolyte Juice left in it. It still worked but had obviously lost a lot of its ‘capacity’ which does not bode well for stopping Hum in audio circuits! Newer capacitors can  have different issues where they can even burst long before their 50 years is up!

 

12 pieces of selenium rectifier
Corroded & dryish old capacitor


 

 

 


A similar process was repeated for a much higher voltage circuit: This one is used to actuate a solenoid which flips the tape direction mechanism.


This time, 110v AC line current is rectified and smoothed to deliver 155v DC. This time, an 8 Ohm power resistor was present before the solenoid  to mitigate the sudden current and back EMF from the solenoid that could damage the capacitor that powered it through a relay .
It had blown and was also replaced.
THIS IS LINE VOLTAGE, No Isolating Transformer!
and I maintained and replaced the shielding and insulation for this section better than the original. this tape unit, interestingly, had no Ground lead of its own, Grounding sockets only started becoming common after 1967 in the USA.That’s It. I reworked the original metal bracket with pliers and insulating tape to ensure nothing would be exposed or short out.

Early tests showed the amplifier was much quieter than before.
I used its line output to my Linux PC and kept the volume down to minimize distortion, relying on far more modern post amplification by the PC- Yet the machine’s own speakers and amp actually worked fine. I could see little or no 60Hz. noise with halted tape and at full volume using a Spectrograph App.!
Excellent. Don’t ask me about dB’s here-
Basically, I hear no Hum,.
I demagetised all the tape heads and swabbed ’em with Q tips and alcohol. No obvious signs of wear and they seem well aligned.
But that’s Another Blog.
Ah, the Nostalgia!

== Paule