Thursday, April 13, 2017

Borders and Power Solutions

This is just me maundering a bit about a topic that came up in convo earlier this evening; the US border with Mexico.
The southern US border is about 1,989 miles long. I don't know how wide it is. That info seems well-buried among other facts and fictions.

But if it's even 100 yards wide on the US side, that's a LOT of undeveloped acreage between cities. Seems to me that empty space could be used in some manner that would make the US some money.

Wind and solar installations require a lot of acreage. Those companies could inexpensively lease border sections and install their generators on that unused land. The power generated could be sold in both the US and in Mexico.

Security wouldn't be an issue in those sectors. The companies would make rounds to check their installations and there'd be camera eyes on their projects at all times. There'd probably even be some live-in guards.
Electricity in Mexico isn't as available, cheap, and dependable as it is here. Mexicans would become happily dependent on quality cross-border US electricity. They'd also rat out any who'd harm that power system in a heartbeat, just as they protect their overloaded (and often illegal) connections in Mexico City and elsewhere.

There could still be a wall eventually, but with so many watchers in so many places, successfully sneaking across the border would likely become a lot more difficult.

I'm sure there are people who'd automatically object to this idea, if only on a 'NIMBY' basis, but unless the objectors can offer truly better and cheaper ways to entice the installation of hordes of border sentries, they really ought to sit down and shut up.

Would the windmills occasionally become targets for idiots with rifles? Sure. Armor the motor housings the way we bathtub-armor the cockpits of A-10 aircraft. No problem.

Would the solar installations also come under fire? Probably, until enough vandals didn't make it home after an attempt. (I'd shoot them just to thin the bad-guy herd a bit, but that's probably not what would actually happen to the ones who surrendered peacefully.)
Chances are that chain gangs would make a comeback in some places. Litter patrols, for miles on end. Shovel brigades. Road crews clearing brush. Those sorts of things.

Anyway... Pres. Trump, congrats on getting that job, even if it is just a thankless temp position.

If you happen to get a copy of this missive, please give it some thought.
You could make the border issue become a fat profit instead of a huge loss.

Regards,
Ed
Ed Howdershelt - Abintra Press
Science Fiction & Semi-Fiction
http://abintrapress.com (blog)
http://abintra.elementfx.com (ebook site)
https://howdershelt.000webhostapp.com/Get-Linux-Song-Project.htm
Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B004HD344A

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Abintra Press Move

Abintrapress.com now points to this blog because it seems to require no user maintenance.

My usual websites ( https://howdershelt.000webhostapp.com/ and http://abintra.elementfx.com ) require monthly logins, which might soon be very difficult due to my advanced COPD.

If those sites disappear because I'm hospitalized or worse and can't login, this blog can at least preserve my other links for a while.

Amazon handles my non-Paypal book sales: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B004HD344A is my author page.

PS: the original purpose of this blog is located here:
http://fourboxesofliberty.blogspot.com/2010/03/actual-quote-is.html

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Sent to Gazette as
"Invalid Bank Validations"
02Apr15
I opened an account at a local bank and signed up for electronic banking. Their system immediately robo-called to issue me a random "security" code number to enter in order to get to my account.
Because I don't allow my browser to store cookies between sessions, the bank computer will call me every time I login.
Sound good so far?
It isn't. Here's why:
If you're robbed of your laptop or notebook, chances are excellent the thief will also take your cell phone.
What if you only use a land line?
If someone robs your home, they'll probably check out your computer. A password sniffer can quickly get around a Windows login, you probably have the bank in your bookmarks, and the thief can answer the phone when the bank calls.
The bank's only alternative procedure is to email their code number, but that's even worse.
Too many people let browsers automatically handle logins and passwords. The thief would visit your email account, then copy and paste the bank's code number.

Whoever provided that security software sold the bank a handful of magic beans.
I'd prefer to think they fooled the bank than think the bank is also marketing this silly procedure as security.

My suggestion for a security code:
At enrollment have the customer choose a number between 30 and 100. That number would remain on file unless the customer changes it.
I'll use 62 as an example.
The bank's computer would call or email with a random portion of 62, such as 37. The correct response would be 25.
If someone can't type the right answer with 3 tries, deny access to the account until the customer can be personally contacted by a bank representative.

My suggestion simply changes the nature of the bank's current validation system from 'useless' to 'functional'.
If a bank computer can barf up a random number and blithely tell it to whomever answers a phone or email, it can just as easily present a truly functional security number.

That's all I have to say on this matter, so thanks for the use of your eyeballs.
If you truly need to contact me directly, use the email address on my website.
Ed
Ed Howdershelt - Abintra Press
http://www.AbintraPress.com

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

When things go all to hell...

When things go all to hell, have a backup plan...

    A lady friend named Sandy owns a nearby bar. When she began screaming one late-October afternoon, a number of us abandoned our pool game and rushed to her back room office. We found her raging at her almost-new Dell laptop.
    She'd just tried to save an afternoon's work and the file had apparently disappeared when the program shut down unexpectedly. When she clicked on various icons, nothing worked.
    I stopped her from turning off the computer and offered to try to fix things. She asked what my idea of 'fixing' meant exactly.
    "It means I might be able to salvage your data files, but if you turn the computer off and back on the way it is, it'll probably destroy them when it tries to reboot."
    Sandy wanted to know how I'd do it. I said I had a disk that might let us save all her data files before the machine could destroy them. After some hesitancy and a few questions, she let me take a shot at it.

How I dunnit...

    I went to my bike (Vulcan 1600) and retrieved my own laptop. In its case I keep copies of PCLinuxOS, Puppy Linux, and the Trinity Rescue CD. My first act was to boot her Dell with Puppy, which runs completely in RAM and never touches the hard drive unless you tell it to do so.
    Once Puppy was running, I clicked the icon for her hard drive, located her data files, and asked for a blank flash drive. Within about half an hour I had all the files and their 'temp' files that had been in use when the computer died on the flash. We examined the files using programs that are included with Puppy and found them to be the right files.
    Sandy had been about to send restocking data to distributors, so I downloaded Firefox, imported her 'Favorites' and some other personal info into it, and left her to log onto various websites and upload the info. When that had been accomplished, she wanted to print copies of things. Puppy had her printer on its list, so printing was no problem.
    That left the task of cleaning or restoring her Dell's highly proprietary operating system (the one that starts with 'W'). Before we tackled that, I had Sandy spend some time locating and backing up any other files and folders she might want to keep. While she did that, I went out front and shot pool.
    Only twice did she have to call me in for instructions, and both instances were just matters of terminology. Her operating system called an action one thing and Linux called it something else. After another hour or so, she had everything she wanted on the flash drive and called me back into the office.
    Removing the Puppy Linux CD, I put in the Trinity Rescue disk and turned on the computer. After examining her hardware and booting some essential tools, Trinity Rescue presented us a screen offering a number of actions. I chose to scan her hard drive for common diseases. Trinity found the drive to be very infected. It offered cures with the caveat that some files might be damaged in the process.
    That's when I called a halt and asked, "Do you use this computer for anything but business?"
    Sandy said yes, but as she told me what else she did with it, I told her which actions required programs and which were accomplished through her browser. At the end of her list, I told her Linux could handle all the things she'd mentioned, and that if she was happy with the results, she could forget about her old operating system.
    She didn't want to be without the system she already knew fairly well, so after Trinity finished scrubbing out her hard drive, I defragged it to create some uncluttered space. After I installed PCLinuxOS alongside her old operating system, I told its dual-boot 'grub' to make PCLinuxOS the default boot.
    When we restarted Sandy's Dell, we were presented with a menu offering both operating systems and thirty seconds to choose. If no choice was made, the Dell would boot to PCLinuxOS.
    I created a place for Sandy's folders and files and copied them from the flash drive, then turned the Dell over to her so she could test drive the new system for a while before I left the bar.
    Half an hour later she called me to the bar to give me a check for $100 and a fresh beer. I took the beer, but told her I hadn't intended to charge her for hanging around her bar all afternoon.
    She said, "Just take it. The last time I had a virus, the shop charged me twice that much and they lost everything when they put on a new copy of my operating system. Besides, it looks like I can return my (old operating system starting with 'W') to the store for a refund, so it's almost free money."
    Yes, I took the money, and as a final touch, I downloaded Linux versions of her games and added a fancy edition of Mahjongg, which she loved at first sight.

And then...

    Apparently Sandy did quite a bit of show 'n tell about her new setup, because several people from the bar had me add PCLinuxOS to their laptops and computers during the first week of November. None seemed to want to tackle the job themselves, even though a few of them watched me add Linux to laptops at the bar.
    I only charged $20 for each installation if there were no problems with hardware or previous operating systems. After installations, I tested each system by making a copy of the installation CD.
    If they wanted a copy of the Trinity Rescue CD, I charged $5 extra, but I also let them know they could download it. In fact, I recommend downloading it, just to keep up with changes.
    A few had been told -- or somehow otherwise got the idea -- they should have Ubuntu Linux. No problem. I downloaded a copy at the bar and made a CD, then installed it when requested. They soon found it had certain limitations like being unable to play MP3 files without downloading extra programming, but so far there haven't been any insurmountable issues with Ubuntu.
    Some have asked for copies of Puppy Linux, but an equal number have downloaded the .iso file and made their own. Only one has asked me to install it as a third boot option; the rest seem to want it as a backup because they know I used it on Sandy's Dell.

Upshot of all this...

    If you're running (operating system starting with 'W'), chances are excellent a malicious bug will get you sooner or later.
    Antivirus programs are almost useless against truly new bugs; they only know variations of bugs that have attacked before.
    There's no good reason not to be prepared. While your (operating system starting with 'W') is still working, download a free copy of a rescue disk and burn a CD.

    Because most people aren't really very religious about making backups, I won't even mention them seriously here, but you'll want to be able to at least try to save your important files if you can't boot your (operating system starting with 'W').

    Download and burn a CD of the latest Puppy Linux. It's absolutely easy to use. Just click a drive icon to go there and find your files. Put your flash drive or CD in and drag stuff to it with your mouse. You can also use Puppy as an emergency operating system to get online and do almost anything else you can do with any other system.

About PCLinuxOS, Ubuntu, Puppy, and others...

    They're powerful and they're free. All you have to do is download them and burn a CD or DVD.

    Linux versions in public use today use clickable icons and no longer require command line typing for routine stuff. For the most part, they run just like (operating system starting with 'W').
    Help is also free. A Help file comes on the disk and more help is available at discussion forums dedicated to whichever version.

    One huge advantage to using Linux is the fairly vast number of people who rip into and study every little bit of Linux programming. That's one of the reasons there are so few viruses for Linux; even if someone let a new one loose, someone else would catch it, report it (and very probably kill it) almost immediately.
    That can't be said for (operating system starting with 'W'). A tight group of secrecy-minded people handle all aspects of development. They seem to release only device-specific bits of code to licensed periperal makers. When a new (W) virus appears, it can spread around the world long before a cure can be developed and made available through highly-proprietary companies.

    You've probably seen a commercial wherein the guy pulls another whole car out of the trunk of his wreck. That's what it's like if you have a Linux operating system on hand when (operating system starting with 'W') craps out.
Ed
Ed Howdershelt - Abintra Press
Science Fiction & Semi-Fiction
http://www.AbintraPress.com

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Must have done something right... again.

Hi, there.
This looked good enough in an email, so I decided to post it here as well.

Some of you know I took a month off from writing that turned into 14 months.
Apologies if necessary, apparently I needed more time away than I'd anticipated.
At any rate, I sent my new title '3rd Word Products, Book 15' up to Fictionwise on June 1, 2011.
When it didn't appear for sale that week, I emailed and found the conversion dates weren't what I remembered.

Big sigh and wait until 14 June.
The book appeared on my Fictionwise sale page on that day and I called that job done.
However...
On 18 June, one of my readers emailed congrats that my book was on the Fictionwise Bestseller page in 3 categories. It's still there, today (12 July) in 4 categories.
http://www.fictionwise.com/topstories.htm

Having not pubbed anything for over a year, I was actually a bit surprised it got to that page so quickly.
Not too surprised it got there, though.
A minor brag:
All of my SF titles and all but 3 of my non-SF titles have appeared on that page.
My '3rd Word Products, Book 1' appeared on FW's All-Time Top 50 page.

So I must have done something right.
Another big sigh, though... I'm still waiting to get rich from ebooks. :)
Ed
Ed Howdershelt - Abintra Press
Science Fiction & Semi-Fiction
http://www.AbintraPress.com

Sunday, April 4, 2010

2nd Amendment thoughts

"A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State,
the right of the People
to keep and bear arms
shall not be infringed.
"

That statement was carefully crafted to be easily understood by common people.

'The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed' is the most important part of the Second Amendment for the simple reason that militias can't exist without armed citizens.

Many people who consider themselves far above 'common' try to 'interpret'
the Second Amendment to suit their own political agendas.
Never trust anyone who attempts to subvert the Second Amendment in any manner.
Their true goals are not in your best interests.
The Second Amendment needs no 'interpretation'.
Ed
Ed Howdershelt - Abintra Press
Science Fiction & Semi-Fiction
http://www.AbintraPress.com

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The actual quote is...

The actual quote is:

"There are four boxes to be used in defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury, and ammo. Please use in that order." - Ed Howdershelt

It's a simple concept, y'all. Stand together and act to prevent tyranny.
Enough people like the quote that it's all over the Net in sigs and blogs, sometimes even with proper attribution to the author.
Yet some people manage to get it wrong.
Or they try to add a box or two.
Someone inserted 'mailbox', but that's covered under 'soap', as in 'making yourself heard'.

In another blog, some guy is trying to add 'the moving box', which he defined as moving away from threats to liberty.
What Crap.
How is running away a form of defending anything but your own cowardly ass?

I laugh when I see my quote on a rabidly left-wing website or blog.
Seems to me the lefties would only be capable of carrying things to the third box before they scatter and hide.
Unending torrents of words and ridicule are their weapons. If things ever reach a point where the fourth box is required, chances are excellent the ever-yapping lefties will have incited the situation.

The right-wingers tend to better understand my quote, but many of them seem to want to believe we've already reached -- or are only moments from reaching -- the fourth box.
Why? Is armed conflict such an attractive prospect?
Box four should not be regarded as a quick fix.

When we fought the Brits, everybody used black powder rifles and cannons.
Things are different today with high-tech detection devices and weapons.
Don't assume 'we, the people' would win a short war against today's military hardware.
Better to use the vote to straighten things out while votes still matter.

On the other hand, we learned a lot from Charlie in Vietnam and from others since about unconventional warfare, so there's no good reason to think it would be a short, decisive war.
That's something politicians should probably keep in mind.
Nobody's truly out of reach.
Ed
Ed Howdershelt - Abintra Press
Science Fiction & Semi-Fiction
http://www.AbintraPress.com