In which I am pissed off and embarrassed at the same time

I haven’t been able to log in securely (which is to say, at all) to download Gmail mail from Outlook 2010 on my desktop since something like February 17.  I actually had to switch mail accounts over to GoDaddy in order to get my personal mail.  (I use a forwarding service for my primary email address, so I can forward that anywhere I want.)  And even at GoDaddy I couldn’t use SSL for logins.  It was maddening — all I was getting was an error that said, “Your server does not support the encryption type you have specified”, and the connection would fail.

And yeah, it worked fine in the web browser and on my phone and iPad the whole time.

It was a conundrum.  I knew there was nothing wrong with my certificates or anything like that, and what’s worse, Outlook 2010 running on another Windows 7 machine in my office (but hooked up to different accounts) was working fine.

So there matters sat for the last month.

I got to searching around again today for a solution to the problem, and I just completely and accidentally ran across someone saying they had to turn off email scanning in their anti-virus software in order to get rid of this error.

And I thought, fuck me.  I upgraded my AV software a little over a month ago.  But only on my main machine, not on the other one where things are still working fine (and which isn’t running the same anti-virus suite, for reasons that will soon become evident).

So I opened my copy of F-Secure Client Security 12 (I get a free license for it from the company I work for, that’s why — and only one, so that’s why the other machine doesn’t run it) and looked at the settings.  Yes, “Scan and remove viruses from e-mails” was checked.  And way over to the side was a URL-ish link that said “Protocols”.  Hmm.

I clicked that and was presented with a list of port numbers to scan for POP3, IMAP4, and SMTP.  “OK,” said I, “let’s turn off POP3 port scanning,” so I set it to 0, clicked OK, and went back to Outlook.

Worked fine.  All that non-existent hair torn out for nothing.

What was truly interesting was that I could SEND email through Gmail just fine.  But that’s because I was using TLS instead of SSL, so I wasn’t sending it on port 465, I was (and am) sending it on port 587.  And that also explains why I couldn’t make IMAP work on the desktop, either.

I kept beating my head against the wall on this for a month because I really needed to get it working, because I had become used to being able to check my mail on my handheld devices and still download it at home in Outlook (which is where I do most of my email composition anyway; those tiny keyboards don’t work with my fat fingers).  The problem with moving things over to GoDaddy is that they only support IMAP on their expensive “Ultimate” Workspace Email product, and I’m using the freebie account that came with my hosting — and they don’t support TLS for outbound SMTP connections, which is really annoying in this day and age.

So in the end, I just turned off the damn email scanning altogether in F-Secure.  And I’m embarrassed to say that I should have thought of that in the first damn place, but in partial mitigation, I felt like shite from Christmas till after Valentine’s Day and probably wasn’t thinking all that clearly at the time.  It wasn’t till February 24, ironically the day I went to the doctor for my regular checkup, that I actually felt like I’d recovered from whatever I had all that time.  And by that time, I’d sure as fuck forgotten all about when I upgraded the AV suite and how that connected with my sudden inability to log in anywhere securely with Outlook.

And besides — who expects a product that’s designed (in part) to keep your email safe to keep your email safe by NOT LETTING YOU LOG IN TO GET IT IN THE FIRST PLACE?

Jesus. Wept.

The most important thing about Masonic secrets ever written

was at the tail end of The Builders, by Rev. Bro. Joseph Fort Newton.

“When is a man a Mason? When he can look out over the rivers, the hills, and the far horizon with a profound sense of his own littleness in the vast scheme of things, and yet have faith, hope, and courage—which is the root of every virtue. When he knows that down in his heart every man is as noble, as vile, as divine, as diabolic, and as lonely as himself, and seeks to know, to forgive, and to love his fellow man. When he knows how to sympathize with men in their sorrows, yea, even in their sins—knowing that each man fights a hard fight against many odds. When he has learned how to make friends and to keep them, and above all how to keep friends with himself. When he loves flowers, can hunt the birds without a gun, and feels the thrill of an old forgotten joy when he hears the laugh of a little child. When he can be happy and high-minded amid the meaner drudgeries of life. When star-crowned trees, and the glint of sunlight on flowing waters, subdue him like the thought of one much loved and long dead. When no voice of distress reaches his ears in vain, and no hand seeks his aid without response. When he finds good in every faith that helps any man to lay hold of divine things and sees majestic meanings in life, whatever the name of that faith may be. When he can look into a wayside puddle and see something beyond mud, and into the face of the most forlorn fellow mortal and see something beyond sin. When he knows how to pray, how to love, how to hope. When he has kept faith with himself, with his fellow man, with his God; in his hand a sword for evil, in his heart a bit of a song—glad to live, but not afraid to die! Such a man has found the only real secret of Masonry, and the one which it is trying to give to all the world.”

I adopted this as my own Masonic philosophy when I first read it, quoted at the tail end of the Indiana Monitor I received when raised a Master Mason. I am too hard-headed and pragmatic for the mystical/alchemical/Egyptian mystery religion/Kabbalistic connections that many of my brethren have (although I don’t mean to dissuade them from their studies — we all have different approaches to Masonry, and that’s fine). I simply apply Occam’s Razor to the Fraternity, and what I come up with is very similar to what Newton did.

I struggle every day to become that Mason. As we learn in the 14th Degree, it is not given to man to attain perfection; but if he honestly strives for that goal, the rewards are incalculable. This is similar to what Rabbi Tarfon taught:

“The day is short, the labor vast, the toilers idle, the reward great, and the Master of the house is insistent. It is not incumbent upon you to complete the work, but neither are you at liberty to desist from it.” (Avot 2:20-21)

Once again proving that Bernie Sanders has the economic understanding of a shellfish

So this was on Facebook today.

Yeah, sure, Bernie.  I’ll bet the IRS would be surprised to learn that.

This wealthy induhvidual [sic] who likes to play up his common-man progressive credentials hasn’t got the brains to pour pee out of a boot with instructions printed on the heel.

Major American corporations — the ones that really bring in the dough hand over fist — pay plenty in taxes.  The difference between them paying taxes and me or you paying taxes is that they build their taxes into their pricing structure.  Every time you buy a newspaper, or a candy bar, or a fancy meal, or a car, or a house — you’re helping the corporation(s) that brought you those products pay their taxes.

And every time some dumb son-of-a-bitch like Bernie Sanders succeeds in making them pay more of “their fair share”, prices go up on all those products for the people who are least able to afford the increase.  Multi-billion dollar oil companies, wanna stick ’em with windfall profit taxes?  Price of gas goes up and it gets harder for people to go to work.  Big soda-pop company, wanna stick ’em with a sugar tax?  The price of a soda goes up and people lose their jobs when sales volume falls off.  And it’s not just taxes — want to force big companies to pay $15/hr minimum wage?  Prices go up and people lose jobs suddenly made too expensive for companies to provide.

Bernie’s right about one thing:  America’s not broke.

But he’s damn wrong about who is and isn’t paying their taxes.

Hey Bernie — how can you afford those three homes you have?  Maybe we should take a look at YOUR tax returns.

You want more Trump? Part I dunno what.

So, this happened.

New GOP Star Born When California Dems Forcibly Remove Vietnamese Senator for Criticizing Tom Hayden

Sen. Janet Nguyen (R) was the star of last weekend’s California GOP convention because she was forcibly removed from the floor of the Senate on Feb. 23 for criticizing the late Sen. Tom Hayden (D), who was honored by his former colleagues two days before.

I’m going to make it plain that I am lukewarm as hell about Trump, even if I think most of the things he is pledging to do need to be done (and wouldn’t get done with a more “conventional” GOP president, and may still not if the “conventional” GOP Congress doesn’t start playing ball).  And I hope people understand that when I repeatedly say, “if you want more Trump, this is how you get more Trump”, I mean, stupid moves like the one linked above are how the Dems unintentionally solidify GOP support, i.e., “more Trump”.

All the protests and the heckling and the sit-ins and the crocodile tears from the press and the unfunny assassination jokes — that’s how you get more Trump.  And you’d think the Dems would be able to wrap their minds around that and find a different, more adult way of dealing with their loss.  You know — like the right did when Obama was elected.  We weren’t happy about it, and we snarked about it, and certain idiots came up with conspiracy theory after conspiracy theory about him, but in the main, the right does things differently from the left — primarily, it doesn’t act like a spoiled baby with a poopy diaper when it doesn’t get its way.

At this point, the left is just damaging itself to no good purpose.  If you think this hasn’t resulted in the creation of a ton of closet Trump Democrats, kind of like there used to be Reagan Democrats, you haven’t been paying attention.  And the last thing I’m going to say about that is that the American Republic is not a healthy place if the balance of power swings too far either direction.  I can get along with a Kennedy Democrat, or a Scoop Jackson Democrat, or even a Zell Miller Democrat.  It’s these far-left socialist redistributionist anti-capitalist Democrats that I have a problem with.  This country was designed to be run from the center, and we’ve almost completely lost track of that.

It’s time for compromise, and neither side will ever have a better chance to do that than right now.  That’s what Trump is all about:  The Deal, which by definition requires compromise.  If you don’t want to compromise, don’t expect to get more than short shrift from him.

So, huh.

Went to the doctor yesterday.  We have this issue with my weight.  It’s too fucking high and I fully admit that.  We’ve been trying to get it down for months, and I think between stress and the near-total impossibility for me to get any exercise (I walk 15 feet to work every morning, and not much at all during the day since I sit at a computer), I’ve been lucky to keep the magic number under 300.  And I don’t care what anyone says, I’m too short and too old to carry that much weight around.

So the doctor said, how would you feel about trying an appetite suppressant?  Basically that’s a stimulant (so, controlled substance, and not covered by my insurance, but only about a dollar a day — it’s as cheap as Weight Watchers), so you have to be careful to take it early enough in the morning that it doesn’t keep you up at night.  I said, sure, what do I have to lose?

So he prescribed one, and I took the first one this morning at around 8:30 AM.

Normally I’m up and around and prowling the kitchen several times during the day, and giving the refrigerator door a workout (or the snack cabinet, or whatever).  Not today.

I’ve had

  • Toast with butter for breakfast
  • A string cheese stick for a snack
  • Ham, bacon and swiss on rye, cottage cheese, and a Fiber One brownie for lunch
  • A single-serve bag of pretzels and a single-serve tub of nacho cheese dip for a snack

and it’s nearly 7PM and I haven’t been hungry for dinner till just now.

Amazing.  I hope this works.  If I can lose 25-30 pounds, I’ll probably feel like doing some workout again.  This plus using the elliptical pedal thing under my desk and getting in my “steps” every day (5000 is my daily goal — low, but you sit at a desk at home all day and try to get in more than that) and maybe that’s doable.

ETA:  I had half of a 12″ pizza for dinner.  And at 8:30PM, I started yawning so badly that I fed the cats and started getting ready for bed.  That shit really is a 12-hour doszzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…..

General rant, TL;DR

Sorry, I just have to vent somewhere.

We’ve been moving Mom and my stepfather into assisted living because after stepfather’s last stay at the hospital, the senior community where they were living said they either had to go into assisted living or they’d have to move somewhere else because of the liability issue.  That was about three weeks ago.

Stepfather’s daughter then got involved since she is his legal caretaker, and unilaterally arranged for them to move into assisted living at another community on the other side of town, for about the same amount of money they were paying in the other place. Which was huge, because a) their rent comes out of a trust stepfather owns, so we don’t control that anyway, and b) his daughter lives nearby and her husband is retired so he can help drive them around when needed (we’re trying to get Mom to give up her car — another story). Moving them into assisted living with 24/7 caregivers available gives me and the wife the warm fuzzies, because the old place didn’t have a nurse or doctor on staff, let alone 24×7 (and they do assisted living there — go figure how they do that without local, dedicated medical staff).

Mom, of course, has been fighting this move the whole way, primarily because she didn’t get a say, and also because she maintains she doesn’t need assisted living. To which my wife and I are both privately saying, “Tough shit, and you’ve fallen so many times that you damn well DO need assisted living.”

Case in point:  We don’t even really know if either one of them were getting all their proper meds, because wife and stepsister found loose pills all over the apartment.  At the new place, the aides come around to the apartment and make sure they get their pills.  Well, stepfather, anyway; Mom is resisting letting them do that for her.

So they got moved in last Sunday, and stepfather came over from rehab to join Mom in the new apartment. All seemed well.

Stepfather had what appears to have been a stroke yesterday and is in the hospital. Mom is not freaking out, but might as well be.

So.

This morning at work, we had a major crisis that had to be fixed “immediately, immediately, immediately — and I didn’t get a harumph outa that guy!” I found out about this at 8AM when I logged in and started trying to wrap my head around that problem.

Mom called at 8:30. “Did I wake you up?” “No, but I’m working, and we have a big problem, and I can’t talk right now.” “Oh, well then, never mind.” CLICK.  As if it were my fault.*

So I kept working on the problem at work, tried to call her around 10:30 and she wasn’t there (I imagine she was at the hospital), and we just finished fixing the problem about a quarter to noon.  I’ve tried to call her twice since, I guess she’s still at the hospital.

But I’ve been sitting here fuming about it all day while trying to fix a major problem that affected half of our hosting customers, while fielding angry emails from the boss the whole time to boot.

If this is excitement, I much prefer the sedentary life.

___________________

* To provide a sense of proportion, the major crisis was only affecting half of our hosting service customers, none of whom could reach their hosted services.  You don’t screw around for family crap at that level, you fix the problem and then you worry about the family crisis.  Sorry, but I need my job worse than I need to deal with my mother’s problems at this point.

Someone at the WSJ needs some military education.

Good, solid WSJ article this morning about how Jim Mattis is fitting in as Secretary of Defense “despite policy differences”, which is WSJ-headline-speak for “there’s a little tension between Trump and Mattis because Mattis wants to appoint people in DOD who aren’t/weren’t necessarily Trump fans, but who, regardless, would be the best people for the job.”  Of course they go on to say that Trump seems to listen more closely to what Mattis has to say than he does to what his other political appointments do.  The writers say that “the defense chief seems to have had the most success in prodding Mr. Trump away from some of his positions.”  OK.  Makes sense.  He didn’t appoint Mad Dog to be his military butt boy, he appointed him to do a job that badly needs doing and that Trump doesn’t even begin to understand.*

A reasonable, balanced story, nevertheless.  Except maybe for this graf:

To a degree, Mr. Mattis’s divergence with the White House reflects his lack of political experience. He is a retired Marine four-star general, and military officers, American officials note, don’t always have much experience with the political aspects of their jobs.

Say what?

I don’t think the writers have much military experience, even if one is based in Baghdad.  Because once you get past a certain level in the American military, EVERYTHING is political.  I suspect that’s partly because of the mandatory lobotomy undergone by all candidates for the rank of major, but it’s also because once you reach that level, unless you are actively deployed (and maybe not then), everything is political because everything can affect your future advancement.

Anyone who thinks Jim Mattis doesn’t understand politics is badly mistaken.  He didn’t want to be president because he didn’t want to deal with the politics, not because he didn’t understand them.  And as a Cabinet secretary, he apparently believes it is better to speak bluntly and realistically rather than cozy up with what would be a more political approach.  Again, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t understand politics; it means he hasn’t got the time or the patience for that kind of bullshit.

I’m no military expert, but I’ll bet that’s the response you’d get from any Marine.

_______________

* This is part of the genius of Donald Trump.  Most think it shows weakness.  It doesn’t.  Trump knows what he knows, and knows what he doesn’t know, and he knows that Jim Mattis knows more about the military in his little finger than Trump knows in his entire body.  And he’s showing great intelligence and savvy by choosing the right man for the job, pointing him at the problem, and staying mostly out of his way.  He did the same thing with McMasters, whom he probably should have appointed NSA in the first place, but every administration (including the “sainted” Obama’s) has its bumps and potholes.

New hosting

I’ve switched hosting providers and this should be a lot more snappy now.

People with Windows 7 problems mystify me.

I’ll never understand the problems people have with Windows 7. I’ve never had a problem with Windows 7 that couldn’t be attributed directly to failing hardware. We run an exclusively Windows shop at work and we just don’t have these problems.

A friend posted a warning on Facebook whose provenance I haven’t been able to track down, but apparently there MAY BE a new hack out there for Internet-connected Windows XP machines, that downloads a file that crashes your machine.  Apparently this happens even if you have Windows Updates turned off on XP, which should be your first clue that whatever this is, it isn’t coming from Microsoft.  He posted this picture of the dialog box that appears asking you to OK the download:

Which to me would be automatically suspect and set off a number of mental alarm bells, particularly if it popped up out of the blue.  I’d click “cancel” on that so fast, I’d probably break a nail.  If I had an Internet-connected XP machine, that is.  Which I don’t.*

Then he goes on to say, essentially, screw XP, screw Microsoft since he’s never been able to get Windows 7 to run without crashing, and hello, Apple, I’m off to MacOS.

OK, rather than get all religious and anti-fanboi here, let’s break this down a bit.

If you are still running XP and connecting to the Internet, you get what you deserve.  And that’s because Microsoft very specifically warned people that there would be no more software updates for XP after the extended end of life.  It’s not like they just up and abandoned you; they pleaded and begged and all but got on their knees in the dirt asking you to upgrade to Vista or Windows 7 before XP end of life.  They even extended their usual support lifetime for XP by a couple of years when it became clear that people (generally businesses with large farms of XP machines) were clinging to XP.  Continuing to support an obsolete operating system that was over a decade old when they finally said, “enough” cost Microsoft a shitton of money.  Who does that?  The answer is that nobody does that.  But Microsoft did, because they knew the switch to Vista or Windows 7 was going to be a pain in the neck for users (which it was, because there was no simple upgrade path to Vista or Windows 7 from XP, but at least it was a one-time pain in the neck).

And after that, people wonder why they literally wrote automatic “upgrade me to Windows 10” code into Windows 7 and tried (and in many cases, succeeded) to force people to upgrade. While I completely disagree with their method — which to me was sneaky and probably actionable, even if Microsoft was offering an upgrade for free that would later cost $100+ — given the XP debacle, I can fully understand their business case for doing it.**

And the one Windows 10 machine I have? It’s going to be kicked back to Windows 7 as soon as I have the time. And I’ll fight attempts to upgrade until it isn’t feasible to run Windows 7 anymore. But I have three years left 🙂

_____________________

* I have one XP laptop left, and it’s only used for packet radio.  It never connects to the Internet, not even to my own local intranet.  It’s strictly a “sneaker-net” machine today.

** I also very quickly found the GWX Control Panel software that stymied Microsoft’s attempts to upgrade my work machine to Windows 10, which would have been an absolute debacle, and still would be.

Children should not be allowed to vote.

This kind of thing makes me more and more convinced that Robert Heinlein was right and we need to require intelligence tests with a reasonably high passing grade to qualify to vote.  He suggested the solution of a quadratic equation which would be randomly generated and shown on a screen before you got to the ballot.  He also suggested that there should be no minimum voting age; if a 13-year-old girl could solve the quadratic, she should be allowed to vote.

Heinlein also suggested that voters should be military veterans with an honorable discharge in order to vote.  Which would disqualify me since I never served, but that’s on me, not anyone else.  (Besides, Heinlein left open the possibility that anyone could serve a term, discharge honorably, and obtain the franchise.)  For some reason this position got Heinlein labeled as a Nazi — or worse — by the soi-disant cognoscenti, few of whom ever actually read Starship Troopers and didn’t understand the logic behind it.

The childish minds at work in this video cannot possibly encompass the intelligence or the moral discipline to evaluate properly the issues of the day and cast a ballot accordingly.  Want to secure the ballot?  Start ensuring that the people who cast them can actually articulate their personal political and moral philosophy.  Mooning the Trump Tower in Chicago doesn’t rise to that level.  Kids and drunks do that kind of thing, not intelligent adults.

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