Nope, it’s not Rumplestiltskin…

After spending some quality time in the lavatory yesterday I begged off a meeting I had this morning.  The other guy was very understanding, but I couldn’t help wincing a little as I greeted him on the phone to ask for a rescheduling.

You see…

…his name…

…is…

…Ralph.1

  1. I wish I were kidding. []

Another glorious day in February

Not.  This has been a miserable month.  On top of everything else today I started to feel a little off, and then sick, until…  I’ll spare you the details.

In looking for the silver lining, I would note that after I’ve been sick and I’m on the mend, I feel like a million dollars.  I feel young, strong, energetic, and healthy.  But, that day seems like a whisper of a possibility in my current state.

So, um, in other good news – my fingers obviously work since I’m typing here!  So, yeah, that’s good, right?

My roommate in grad school hated February – saying something bad always happened to him.

Anyhow.  Onwards and upwards!

I’ve gotten e-mails from people asking how I’m doing – the frequency of posting here1 has suffered along with me this month.  So, thank you for inquiring!  I am by nature a reasonably optimistic2 guy and I think that despite 2011’s crappy track record3 good great wonderful amazing and awesome things are around the corner.

Thingiverse has been a happening and hopping place of late.

It’s late and I need to sleep. 4 5

P.S.6

  1. And, to be quite frank, elsewhere as well []
  2. And, not without cause, I believe []
  3. 1 for 2, if you’re keeping score []
  4. Perchance to dream. []
  5. Aye, there’s the rub. []
  6. P.S. I actually have some half dozen posts I started over this last month, but never got around to actually finalizing.  I’m hoping to publish them, even if they turn out to be woefully irrelevant. []

Oh, WordPress!

My dear dear friend – has it really been so long?

Tonight I had the opportunity to dive back into a few old plugins.  Fun!

Domain Name Squatters

Here’s an e-mail I received today:

Dear Jay MakerBlock,

Our registrar is in the process of acquiring makerblocks.com. We are sending this email to everyone who might benefit from owning this domain.
If you are interested in buying makerblocks.com you can make an offer here http://ekodeliver.com/527749pogomu

After successful acquisition of the domain we will contact the person with the highest offer.

Thank you for your time,
Ekodomains Team
234 Hudson Ave
Albany, NY 12210

When I registered MakerBlock.com I also registered MakerBlocks.com.  I like this domain name better, so I kept it.  I didn’t have an interest in keeping the other, so I let it go.  Now some internet troll wants it?  Pssh.  See, the funny thing about domain names is that they rely on the “bigger fool” theory of monetization.  They’re hoping that someone will put a higher value on the domain name they’re sitting on than the amount they paid for it, in effect banking on a bigger fool to come along and take it off their hands.

We are sending this email to everyone who might benefit from owning this domain.”  Seriously?  There’s a list of people you think might be interested in my old domain name?  Pssh.  Okay.  If you guys really do have such a marketing list, I say shoot me an e-mail ’cause I’ve got a great idea.  I’ve got all sorts of other junk I’m not using.  Apparently you’ve found a population of people who really like the crap I throw away.  I say let’s work together and we’ll both make money off of them!

What’s up with your website any how?  The “search for domain names” doesn’t work for anything at all.  Totally available names are not listed as available.  It doesn’t even work for MakerBlocks.com.  It doesn’t work for giggleygagglewibbleywobbleytimeywimey.com.  Seriously guys, is this your very best effort at a business model?  Honestly, it looks like you’re just e-mailing newly expired domains in the hopes that someone will want to pay you more than the registration cost.  Ah!  I see your silly tricks now!  <Thank you view-source!>  You want people to start typing in a domain name because all your system does is populate the search box with a list of the domains you already own!  How droll!  You know, now that I look at your system I don’t think it would take very much at all to build a scraper to pull out your entire list of domains.

“After successful acquisition of the domain we will contact the person with the highest offer.”  Really?  You want to hold something, of dubious value, hostage when you don’t even have it yet?  I’ve got news for you – I just let the name expire.  I could go back and get it if I really wanted.  Seriously, that’s the one of the least friendly e-mails you guys could have sent.

I have a counter proposal for you, Ekodeliver aka Ekodomains aka domain name squatter and domain name troll.  You hold on to MakerBlocks.com and try to find someone willing to pay more than $10 a year for the name.  Go on now, just try!

Heck, if anything, I’ve actually damaged the domain names MakerBlock.com and MakerBlocks.com by continuously posting a stream of nonsense.

The only thing funnier than trying to sell me something I don’t want is having shelled out your own cash in the hopes of selling it back to me.  That’s like dumpster diving at my place and then showing up on my doorstep to ask me if I want to buy some used kitty litter.  “Yeah, um, NO.”

I’ll leave it with this – get the heck out of my dumpster and stop e-mailing me.

Facebook, why you so creepy?

I’m always shocked when Facebook shows me people I actually know as possible friends.  I almost never use the site and when I do it’s to get someone’s e-mail address so I can e-mail them directly.  Somehow they populate that list with people I rarely speak to and have zero public connections to.  I mean, I don’t even know of these people through anyone else, so I don’t get how they’re able to suggest them.

Shudder.

Impecible logic

A conversation from bedtime:

  • “Did you ever break a toy when you were a little boy?”
  • Yes, honey, sometimes I did.  And my daddy was pretty good at fixing things, but we didn’t have a robot.
  • “I have an idea!”
  • Oh?  What’s that?
  • “We’ll get a big box and a pulley and a rope and tie one end to your house when you were a little boy and pull on it and put the other end in my house and then you’ll have a robot when you’re a little boy!”

Well, that didn’t work

As a last ditch effort, I just tried to swap the hard drives from my Dell Mini10 into my craptop case.  The screen on the Dell Mini10 is really that bad.

In doing so Windows said I needed to re-activate it.  Why?  Just because I swapped hard drives?  Are you kidding me?  I tried to reactivate via automated phone,  system no go – it claimed my 36 digit code was invalid.  Then I tried via live MicroSoft Indian support.  Here’s the thing.  I’m Indian and I can’t stand Indian support.  It’s not the accent, it’s the constant confirmation and affirmation and interruption.  They’re always too busy saying, “Yes sir, thank you sir, I understand.  Your problem is X.  Please <insert instruction here>”  The problem is that if you have any question that deviates from their script things quickly spiral out of control.  The thing that’s almost amusing is that the base operator’s method of dealing with things is to simply repeat their script.  *sigh*

Eventually they confirmed that the code on this perfectly legitimate copy of Windows from a factory-direct Dell computer was not recognized by their system.  So, I just swapped the hard drive back into the Dell and put the craptop’s hard drive into the enclosure.  If I can’t boot from it, I’ll just treat it as a big external drive.  Thankfully, I’m running a portable copy of Thunderbird which means I could run it off that drive without a problem.

Almost 4am.  Ugh.

The long road to recovery

I’m trying to recover my laptop drive from a ridiculous malware infection.  It’s something called “System Tools” and it does everything.  Browser hijack, disallows Ctrl-Alt-Del, disallows access to most system functions, disallows Task Manager, disallows the running of anything that even looks like it could be helpful in removing it.  It shows the most insanely over the top message about your system being infected:

System Tools screenshot courtesy of BleepingComputer.com

System Tools screenshot courtesy of BleepingComputer.com

I’m scanning through that drive using Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware tool.1  Oh, and the program was kind enough to completely corrupt the NTLDR on the root of the drive ultimately making it unbootable.  Since the file was corrupted, I couldn’t install a new file over it.  I ended up doing a disk scan of that laptop’s drive, fixing those errors, copying a fresh version of the NTLDR file over to that drive where the corrupted one was, and hours later I’m still scanning through that drive using Malwarebytes’ software.

It’s 2AM my time and there’s no real end to the scan in sight.  Even after I’m done scanning and fixing and deleting those files, I’ll need to reinstall that drive into my laptop and see if it will boot.  If not, I’ll need to copy out all of my e-mail files from Thunderbird for use on another computer.  It’s not ideal by any means, but at least I’ll be (eventually) able to access my e-mails.

MWB has located 11 infected files so far.  I’m thinking it’s nearing the end of its scan because it’s now on the Windows directory and it was appearing to work in alphabetical order. 2 Still, the Windows directory is enormous.

So…  while I’m waiting for it to finish…  There’s really only so much you can do to prevent something like this.  Obviously, patching and updating your operating system, browsers, and security software is a must.  As Cyrozap suggests, frequent backups are critical. 3  You could switch to a Mac or Linux/Ubuntu/Debian.

I’d consider switching OS’s, but networking with the PC’s in my home as well as using my network printer seems like they’re right at the top.  Most of what I do these days is (a) e-mail via Thunderbird (b) web surfing and blogging via Firefox (c) word processing and spreadsheets via OpenOffice and (d) printing via ReplicatorG.

Okay.   Malwarebytes says it’s removed 11 threats.  What a rogue’s gallery.  Blech.  Time to disconnect the drive, pop it back into the laptop and see if I can boot it up.  For the sake of you, dear reader, consider this the bit on a cooking show where something that takes me time to prepare is instantaneous for your viewing pleasure.

Okay, Windows says the file “hal.dll” is missing or corrupted.  I’ll copy it over from this computer.

Dang.  I did that.  I’m getting a repeating pattern of boot, windows start options (safe mode, etc), windows loading, BSOD (blue screen of death) flash, and back to boot…

Dang.  I can’t break this cycle and the BSODE flashes way too quickly for me to tell what file it might be causing the problem.

Hoo boy.  This isn’t going to be fun.

  1. It’s an anti-malware tool by Malwarebytes for removing malware using anti-malware techniques to for malware byte removal. []
  2. I would have started in reverse chron, but whatever.  I’m not a malware expert.  I just play one on this blog. []
  3. Dang.  It’s not going in alphabetical order. []