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I see where representatives of Google, Amazon, Apple, AT&T, and others testified before congress today to implement federal legislation to “… protect consumer privacy.”
The only reason companies like the above clamor for federal legislation is to protect their own positions. While they made it clear they believe federal legislation should override state legislation (thus only having to lobby Washington rather than 50 state capitals), the overriding objective for such companies has always been to inhibit the creation and growth of competition. Guaranteed any new federal rules and laws will do nothing more than to make it more difficult to create and launch new companies, potentially competing against the big ones. Big companies are never taken down by another big company, but by the little startup that figures out how to provide a product or service that negates the established guys position. Inhibiting new companies, new ideas, and new business models, only serves to protect the entrenched interests.
Although I had been threatening to get the new server up since August, the confirmed death of HAL and fall storms convinced me it’s time to get the new platform running.
Our backup server, based on an old Dell I acquired from Freecycle, was also showing the effects of age and the dreaded Dell capacitor rot. After yanking out the failing capacitors, we had to use a small desk fan to keep the insides from overheating and shutting down.
Late last week, I finally got the last bits in, FreeBSD installed with Apache, PHP, and MySQL. One function I’ve been wanting is both a backup solution, and access to a ‘cloud server’ I could trust. (Based on their terms and conditions, I don’t trust Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Apple iCloud, or any of the other ‘free’ services.)
With the drop in hard drive cost, I added three 1 TB drives, and recompiled the FreeBSD kernel to use the Oracle ZFS filesystem. With the ZFS filesystem, configured “RAID-Z’ for redundant storage protection, the three 1 TB drives gives us just short of 2 TB storage. Working with the basic Apache stack and the ZFS filesystem, along with some additional PHP modules, I was able to add on Nextcloud to our system for storage, backups, and data access anywhere.
The system is working fine, as you’re reading now from our new server. Still working on adding the ‘apps’ to the cell phone to access our own cloud, but they are mostly working fine as well.
As you saw on my last post, our original family website server died. It served us well for many years, stretching back to just before Joyce and I were married. This was the system I started my own business on, and launched another business, before joining my current laboratory.
Hal then was repurposed as the kids’ original computer (with a new power supply and motherboard), and lived again for several years until the kids outgrew the platform. He was again repurposed, dumping windows for FreeBSD to run the website (and other functions) you are reading now.
Tests on the system showed both the motherboard and power supply had gone bad. I don’t know which one went first, and took the other with it, but all the memory, drives, fans, and USB interfaces could be salvaged. The new server is coming along well, hope to get it done and on-line soon.
Well, that was a bit of a scare. We’re currently running on a backup server, after the kids old ‘HAL-9000‘ we had been running on failed. So of course, the backup server overheated and went down yesterday afternoon. Just got it restored earlier this evening, and got the database and directory structure backed up to my desktop system.
Found this gem in our comments from the main family webpage:
Did you know that if you stare at the sun for 15 minutes a day, that you won’t need to eat food anymore? You will literally gain superhuman abilities and feel like an enlightened person. Obviously you would need to stare at the sun during the early morning or late evening when the sun is at it’s lowest brightness. But NASA did a study and proved that people who engage in this sun-staring practice achieve a state of high spiritual and mental enlightenment. Full information here (link removed).
Not sure if they were looking for someone that gullible, or just trying to get clicks by posting outrageous nonsense. Either way, no links from us, bunko.
Over the past few weeks, our webcam has been rebooting at various odd times. I’ve checked it for loose power plugs, but it otherwise seemed fine. Then last Monday, someone tried to post the webcam’s administrator account name and password on our main page. They didn’t leave their name, but IP address goes back to an ISP in Tennessee, most likely somewhere around Kingsport. It seems that I’ve violated my own security rules, in that I left the default accounts on the webcam server. In particular I had left the account with administrator privileges named as ‘admin’. Thank you, ‘Anonymous’, for pointing this out to me.
Interestingly, site logs show visitors from the Russian Federation about the same time ‘Anonymous’ tried to post, along with the (routine) Sogou web spider from China and several odd URL scans from Google. Interesting.
While reviewing messages caught in the SpamTrap at work, this gem from a SEO operation in China fell out. Along with the rest of the message insisting we give them our credit card number so everyone could find our website, they provided the warning:
“If you fail to complete your domain name registration (for our) search engine optimization service by the expiration date, may result in the cancellation of this search engine optimization domain name notification proposal notice. ”
Doug and Dinsdale Piranha could not be reached for comment.
Found the following e-mail message in my in-box earlier today. Found it somewhat of a surprise as the filters typically catch such messages. Also found it a surprise as the wording was clearly not from someone at PayPal, or at least, PayPal here in the US. I thought the spammers were suppose to be getting more sophisticated.
From: Customer service
Subject:We’ve limit your paypal access
Date: 26 Oct 2015 16:47:17 +0700 (10/26/15 05:47:17)
Dear Customer ID : 290512775
We check account activity in the PayPal system regularly. Time checking account, we find that the activity you are breaking some agreement you have with us. Therefore, we have limited your account and can no longer offer service to you. You can still log in to view transaction history, but you can not send or receive payment. Please update your information promptly so that you can continue to enjoy sorry for any inconvenience caused by our security measurements
Case Number: PP-004-389-679-249
To remove this limitation, please login to your PayPal account Log In Here
After we receive and review your identity information, we’ll email you regarding the status of your PayPal account.
Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.
Mail headers show it as coming from a teleco in Jakarta, Indonesia, and then bounced through a throw-away domain. (I’ve changed e-mail address and link for this post.)
Sorry, spammer. We find that the activity you are breaking some credibility with us.
Since stripping out all of the Gnome desktop environment last October (see Upgrades and Downgrades), the Gnome project released Gnome 3. Reports on the FreeBSD website said Gnome 2 had too many problems, which were scheduled to be corrected in Gnome 3. So I finally took a deep breath, and installed Gnome 3 and the Xwindows support environment. So far, most of the Gnome 3 desktop environment is working fairly well.
The desktop looks like a typical desktop environment, with movable, resizable windows for individual tasks, looking like what Georgie calls ‘…a real computer, instead of the text only black screen.’ Applications are started through one of several interfaces, I’ve configured this installation with the equivalent of the ‘start’ button at the upper left.
Alternately, the ‘desktop’ can be partially collapsed, showing the equivalent of the ‘favorite’ applications on the left bar, and a column showing the multiple desktops available on the right. One extra desktop gets added every time an application is started on a previously blank desktop.
So far, Gnome 3 is working relatively well, although running the GUI does drag down the system overall. Still, giving that we’re running a web server, a mail server, a Minecraft server, and the Gnome 3 environment on a 15 year old computer, I’m relatively happy with the performance.