Clever encoding

Another scam message came to my inbox today, and it used a rather clever encoding. It looks like plaintext, but it isn’t. It uses high-order 32-bit Unicode codepoints (encoded as UTF-8) to construct the text. The codepoints specifically are part of the Mathematical Alphanumeric Symbols group.

So it looks like plaintext. You can read it like plaintext. But it isn’t plaintext. And the codepoints being higher than the UTF-16 boundary means that WordPress’s editor screws up trying to handle it. Nodepad++ had no issues with it though. I’ve posted a screenshot below, and attached the redacted source text from the e-mail.

Click (or tap) the image to see it full size.

* * * * *

And the plaintext (the Bitcoin address was the only part NOT encoded in those high-order Unicode characters):

I am aware, REDACTED, is your password.

I require your full attention for the coming Twenty-four hours, or I may make sure you that you live out of shame for the rest of your lifetime.

Hello there, you do not know me. Yet I know everything concerning you. Your personal facebook contact list, mobile phone contacts and all the virtual activity in your computer from past 175 days.

Which includes, your self pleasure video footage, which brings me to the primary reason why I ‘m crafting this particular e-mail to you.

Well the previous time you went to see the porn webpages, my malware was activated inside your pc which ended up shooting a eye-catching video footage of your masturbation act simply by activating your webcam.
(you got a exceptionally unusual taste by the way lol)

I have got the complete recording. If you feel I am playing around, simply reply proof and I will be forwarding the particular recording randomly to 9 people you’re friends with.

It might be your friends, co workers, boss, mother and father (I don’t know! My system will randomly pick the contacts).

Will you be able to look into anyone’s eyes again after it? I doubt it…

But, it doesn’t need to be that way.

I want to make you a one time, no negotiable offer.

Buy $ 2000 in bitcoin and send them on the below address:

15Bnu6MkM6tjaRwfSRmhcBe8WDz*JXW5hsF
[CASE SENSITIVE so copy & paste it, and remove * from it]

(If you do not understand how, look online how to buy bitcoin. Do not waste my precious time)

If you send this ‘donation’ (why don’t we call it that?). After that, I will go away and under no circumstance contact you again. I will erase everything I’ve got concerning you. You may very well carry on living your normal day to day lifestyle with no fear.

You’ve 24 hours in order to do so. Your time starts off as quickly you check out this e mail. I have an one of a kind code that will alert me once you see this mail therefore don’t try to act smart.

So yeah, that’s definitely something new. I knew that Unicode can go out to 32-bit codepoints, but never saw anything like that used in this fashion. But it’s just another scam e-mail of the same variety I’ve posted here before.

IKEA BESTÅ wall-mount (or free-stand) rack cabinet

Looking online there are plenty of options for a wall-mount 19″ rack. Open frame. Enclosed cabinet with doors and accessible sides. And there are plenty of options on eBay as well that go for much less than what you’ll find most anywhere else.

But they all suffer from the same flaw: they stand out. Hang one on your wall or use it free-standing and it’s quite obvious that it’s a network cabinet.

My wife and I recently bought a house. And after a lot of planning and research for how to wire up the network in my home, I had a couple ideas in mind. The central network hardware in my home is a MikroTik CRS317 10GbE switch (buy it at Amazon or EuroDK) and my ISP’s router, both connected to an uninterruptible power supply. I have a separate wireless access point (Tenda AC1900), but it is located elsewhere in the house at the moment, and I’ll probably buy a second one to have full coverage in my home.

I also have a few sets of rack rails left over from some previous projects I’ve since taken down, so I initially planned on just building an open rack. But given that where I put that rack is likely to be in plain sight, that would’ve been… unsightly. And most any prefab option – whether it’s open frame or enclosed – again would’ve stood out wherever I hung it in the house.

But I didn’t go full DIY either. Kind of… in between.

IKEA’s BESTÅ system includes several cabinet frame options, two of which have measurements almost perfect for making a 19″ rack. They’re 600mm (23-5/8″) wide by 640mm (25-1/4″) tall, and 200mm (7-7/8″) or 400mm (15-3/4″) deep. Perfect for light-weight equipment, such as switches, routers, and patch panels. And they can either be used free-standing or mounted on the wall with the corresponding suspension rail.

The shallower cabinet works for patch panels and PDUs and other very shallow equipment – e.g the Bitscope BR04A. But the deeper option is great for lightweight switches that are 12″ or shorter, such as the aforementioned MikroTik switch.

Adhering to standards

The cabinet has an internal width of 22-3/16″ (~563mm to 564mm). The proper spacing for the mounting holes is governed by the EIA-310 standard. Since the rails I’m using are similar to what I used in a previous attempt to build an open frame rack cabinet from 2x4s, I already know to space the rails to about 19-3/16″ or 19-1/4″ (~488mm).

Meaning 1-1/2″ on each side for mounting the rails. Can you get any more perfect?

Additional materials and tools

Along with the cabinet and 12U rails, you’ll need these materials:

  • 2×2 boards (1.5″ x 1.5″ nominal), one for each rail cut to the length of the rails
  • 1/4″-20 lag bolts, 1″ length, at least 2 per rail
  • #4×1.5″ wood screws – such as Everbilt #808631 – or M3x1.5″ wood screws, at least 2 per rail

Building the cabinet

Assemble the cabinet frame as normal, including the back. If you’re going to be hanging this on the wall, add the suspension rail hardware to the cabinet as well.

Then it’s just a matter of attaching the rail to the 2x2s and attaching that to the inside of the cabinet. And it’s on that which I have suggestions from my experience.

The cabinet frame comes with two (2) screws, about 50mm long, for joining two of these together, and they go through the shelf peg holes on the inside of the frame. That they go straight through means they are perfect for holding a 2×2 to the inside of the frame. But to know where, you need to put the screws through two of those holes going out, that way you have a full pass-through for pushing back in.

The holes I selected were these two (click on the image to view it full-size):

If I were having more equipment in this than just two switches and a patch panel or two, I’d have probably 4 screws each securing the 2x2s to the sides just to be safe.

I mounted the rails to the 2x2s using 1/4″ lag bolts through the #2 and #11 rack units. This all went together for me in less than an hour.

Conclusions

Yes, the cabling is a mess, currently, as I haven’t consolidated all connections here yet.

I built this to consolidate the networking equipment for my home. It allowed me to run networking cables from the two offices through the basement and up through the floor in this closet. The blue cables are OM4 optical fiber, and there is also Cat6 cable in there, too. That is a GbE switch as well, giving me the option of using various devices off RJ45 instead of wireless – e.g. my work laptop.

This looks better than most pre-fab options, in my opinion, and was less expensive than most pre-fab options. I could’ve used wood that blended in better to the outside, such as oak 2x2s instead of the poplar, or lined them with veneer that matches the cabinet. But since this was going to be out of the way and mostly out of sight, I wasn’t concerned.

So this became the central networking cabinet for my home, where I moved my 10GbE switch and ISP router. With how far out the front the cables stick, unfortunately I wasn’t able to take advantage of one of the doors available for the cabinet. The switch, router, and uninterruptible power supply all fit into this without issue. Now I just need to finish consolidating connections.

Back to AMD

Build Log:

Mira started life back in late 2016 as my first foray back to Intel in… 17 years. Here’s a rough timeline:

  • 1998: 486 DX2 (used Gateway machine)
  • 1999: Cyrix 200MHz
  • Later in 1999: AMD K6-II 333MHz
  • 2001 (I think): AMD K6-II 500Mhz
  • 2003: AMD Athlon 800MHz (cartridge)
  • 2004: Athlon XP 2500+
  • 2007: Athlon X2 4200+
  • 2013: FX-8350

Then in 2016, rather than waiting for the first generation of Ryzen processors, I decided to jump to the Intel X99 platform with the i7-5820K. Now in 2020, it’s back to AMD with the 3rd generation Ryzen.

Old specs

For immediate reference, here are the prior specifications:

  • Processor: i7-5820k (6 core, 12 thread), OC’d to 4.3GHz
  • Mainboard: ASUS Sabertooth X99
  • Memory: 16GB EVGA DDR4-3200

The rest of the system is remaining the same. I’m not upgrading the storage or graphics card since… I just don’t feel the need to do so right now.

Why the switch?

For some reason the mainboard decided to give up the ghost. It wouldn’t detect the RAM, continually illuminating the DRAM_LED, and plugging in the USB port for the TUF Detective app on my phone wouldn’t connect. So the board is, in effect, dead. Might try for a resurrection later. We’ll see.

And for some reason, listings for it are several hundred dollars, used:

Seriously? Over 400 USD for a refurbished desktop mainboard? That’s more than I paid for mine when I bought it. New. Yeah, no thanks.

New specifications

So how far up the Ryzen tiers did I go?

I initially considered a B450 mainboard, and reserved one with my local Micro Center – specifically the ASRock B450 PRO4. But after doing a little more research into the board, I discovered that I’d need a little more headroom than what the B450 could provide.

Along with the GTX 1070, I also have a Mellanox 10GbE card, Samsung 950 PRO NVMe SSD, plus four (4) 1TB HDDs in RAID-0 that I use for additional storage. With the B450 board I was considering, that’s basically running right up against the limits of what that can handle.

The X470 board, on the other hand, has plenty of room with some space left over. I can use all of the SATA ports plus both M.2 slots with none of it sharing bandwidth. Plus there is plenty of room for the graphics card and 10GbE card since the X470 board has a PCI-E 2.0×16 slot, leaving the other PCI-E 3.0×16 slot open for a second graphics card or something else.

Overall it was the better way to go for my setup, and it’ll be the way to go when I upgrade Amethyst later this year. Most, though, would likely be happy with a B450 mainboard. If you have just a graphics card and M.2 SSD, go with the B450 chipset.

Note on ASUS X470 and B450 mainboards: if the box has a red dot near the UPC, it’s BIOS has already been updated to support the 3xxx-series Ryzen processors. Learned that when I bought mine at Micro Center.

Water block

Thankfully most waterblocks are made to be cross compatible. They have coldplates large enough for most desktop processors. So the only consideration is the mounting hardware. With most blocks, the manufacturers make available the mounting hardware separate from the block. This allows you to switch platforms without having to buy a whole new block.

So for my Watercool Heatkiller IV, I just needed to buy the AM4 mounting hardware – part no. 14072 – which was thankfully available through Performance PCs.

Unfortunately, though, I couldn’t keep the same block alignment I had with the X99 processor, since AMD’s mount isn’t square. This also meant I needed to replace the tubing. I didn’t have any clear tubing left over, and I didn’t want to buy a 10-foot box of it when I only need about 18″. But I did still have some UV Blue tubing left over from the maintenance on Desert Sapphire last year, so I opted to give my system a little more color.

Initial Benchmarks

The last benchmarks I have recorded are from two (2) years ago. My 5820k was running at 4.1GHz at that time, and I had about the same overclock on the GTX 1070 as I still have now.

  • Unigine Valley (Extreme HD): 4326
  • Unigine Heaven (1080p, everything maxed): 2612
  • 3DMark Firestrike: 16936, Graphics: 20101
  • 3DMark Sky Diver: 40476, Graphics: 66493

Here are the benchmarks for the Ryzen 7 3700X with a boost to only 3.8GHz on the stock Wraith cooler:

  • Unigine Heaven (1080p, everything maxed): 2523
  • Unigine Valley (Extreme HD): 4254
  • 3DMark Firestrike: 17660, Graphics: 19686
  • 3DMark Sky Diver: 45845, Graphics: 64486

Okay that’s a little interesting. Let’s see how this fares with an overclock.

Overclock

High core count CPUs are not great overclockers. That’s just the way of it. Though periodically you do get lucky – the full GHz overclock I was able to pull off on my 5820k without touching the voltage. (I do wonder how high I would’ve been able to go before having to touch the voltage.) But with this Ryzen 7 chip, without touching the voltage, I could take it only to 4.1GHz.

And as you can expect, the benchmarks weren’t all that impressive compared to stock.

  • Unigine Heaven (1080p, everything maxed): 2514
  • Unigine Valley (Extreme HD): 4199
  • 3DMark Firestrike: 18196, Graphics: 20028
  • 3DMark Sky Diver: 47098, Graphics: 64749

A little more impressive on the Firestrike overall score, with the graphics score on par with the X99 scores. And the Sky Diver score saw a bit more distance from the X99 score as well, though the graphics score there is a little… interesting.

Temperatures were also very impressive. Now I have an overkill and somewhat unusual water cooling setup. But that setup also meant it was nearly as easy swapping out the X99 for the X470 as if it were on air. Under load with OCCT Small Data Set, the CPU maxed out and held at 60C, reaching toward 61C but not quite getting there.

The 5820k would max out in the low to mid-80s. But I also discovered the IHS had a bow to it similar to what JayzTwoCents discovered about one of his processors that he lapped before delidding:

The risk of that defect is higher with soldered CPUs, since solder solidifies when it cools, giving no play should it be applied too thick.

Had the processor not had that defect in the IHS, it likely would’ve been able to run much cooler than it was. I planned to lap my 5820k about the time the X99 board decided to give up the ghost.

Precision Boost Overdrive

And then there’s gem from BuildZoid:

Summarizing the changes relevant to my system:

  • Enable DOCP – already had it enabled
  • Precision Boost Overdrive: Manual
    • PPT Limit: 300
    • TDC Limit: 230
    • EDC Limit: 230
    • Precision Boost Overdrive Scalar: 2X

And did I see any improvement? Nope.

Setting the multiplier back to “Auto” and enabling these settings in all places where you can configure the Precision Boost Overdrive (of which there are THREE), the processor was able to automatically boost to 4.1GHz across all cores. But it also drew significantly more power and raised the core temperature by 20C. So a lot more heat, but no more performance.

Ugh…

Next step: Asus AI Suite.

Asus AI Suite III

An article on Asus’s Edge Up mentioned the AI Suite as a means of also tuning the CPU. And since that tweaked the voltage along with the multiplier, it was able to pull the CPU up to 4.3GHz. How did scores compare?

  • 3DMark Fire Strike: 18052, Graphics: 19874
  • 3DMark Sky Diver: 47201, Graphics: 64180

And… not much of a difference to benchmarks. This was enough to convince me to just… stick with the 41x multiplier. Especially since the AI Suite also pushed the CPU temperatures up well over 70C due to the added voltage. So not much of a performance gain, but a jump in temperatures and power consumption.

No thanks.

Conclusion

So to summarize, I went from X99 and 6 cores/12 threads to X470 and 8 cores/16 threads. The new processor runs on less power and produces less heat, yet performs about the same or better.

Glad to see AMD is back. And I’m glad to be going back to AMD.

Update 2020-04-19:

I decided to revisit overclocking the CPU, and was able to bump it up to 4.3GHz. The key was disabling Precision Boost Overdrive in the BIOS. So if you’re going to manually overclock your processor, that should be step 1: disable Precision Boost Overdrive in the BIOS. Tried to get to 4.4GHz, but it crashed almost immediately in Cinebench R20.

And the 4.3GHz manual overclock took the 3DMark scores a little higher (stock, overclock):

  • 3DMark Firestrike: 18277 (17660, 18196), Graphics: 19989 (19686, 20028)
  • 3DMark Sky Diver: 48009 (45845, 47201), Graphics: 64821 (64486, 64749)

So it was good seeing those scores actually improve with a better overclock.

Still the same scam…

This one came into my junk folder earlier today:

Your password ιs [REDACTED]. Ι kηοw a lοt mοre thηgs abοuτ you τhαn thατ.

How?

Ι plαced a malwαre oη τhe pοrn websιte αηd guess what, yοu visiτed τhιs web site το hαve fun (you κηow whαt Ι meaη). While you were wατchιηg τhe video, yοur web browser αcτed as an RDP (Remοτe Desκτoρ) αnd a κeylοgger, whιch ρrοided me access το yοur disρlαy screeη aηd webcam. Right αfter τhat, my sofτwαre gαthered all yοur coηtacts frοm yοur Messenger, Fαcebοok αccοunτ, aηd email αccouηt.

Whαt exactly dιd Ι do?

I mαde α sρlιt-screeη video. The first part recorded the νideο yοu were vιewing (you’e gοt αn exceptiοηαl tαsτe haha), αηd τhe ηexτ pαrt recοrded your webcam (Yep! τ’s you \ dοιηg nasty τhings!).

Whαt shοuld you dο?

Well, I believe, $2000 is α faιr price fοr our liττle secreτ. You’ll mακe τhe ρaymenτ νιa βitcoin tο the below αddress (ιf you dοn’τ kηοw τhιs, seαrch “hοw τo buy Βιτcοiη” iη Google).

βiτcoin Address:bc1qg97suky3qqt97mztfzca0xcn0g5u75k9fera3v
(Ιt is cAsE sensιτιve, sο copy aηd paste iτ)

Ιmροrtαηt:

You haνe 24 hours to maκe τhe ρaymeηt. (I hαve α unique pixel wiτhιη τhis email message, and rιghτ nοw I κηοw thaτ yοu hαve read thιs emaιl). Ιf Ι dοη’t geτ τhe ρaymenτ, Ι will seηd your νιdeo τo all of your coηtacτs, iηcludiηg relatiνes, coworkers, αηd sο fοrτh. Nonetheless, if Ι dο get ρaid, Ι wιll erase τhe vιdeo ιmmediaτely. If you wαnτ evideηce, reply wιth “Yes!” aηd I wιll send yοur vιdeo recοrding tο yοur five frιends. Thιs is a nοη-ηegοtιable offer, sο don’t waste my time and yοurs by replying το τhis emαιl.

Arsenii

Update: In the time since I posted this, I’ve received quite a few more from different senders with different names attached, all with the exact same text otherwise:

The sheer number that I’ve received, including four (4) alone within a 24-hour period, along with the fact they all use the same text, is evidence enough it’s entirely vapid.

More stupid technology predictions

I really wish that writers would stop creating lists of “obsolete technology” that is based entirely on what they personally use.

I first responded to one such article almost 9 years ago in which a list in the New York Times, of all places, listed a number of “Gadgets You Can Get Rid Of“. Included on that list were desktop computers, cable TV (depends), point and shoot camera, camcorder, USB thumb drives, and digital music players. Of all of those items, how many are still around? ALL OF THEM! Yes, even digital music players and point & shoot cameras.

And almost 8 years ago I responded to an article called “15 current technologies my newborn son won’t use“. And on that list? Wired home Internet, dedicated cameras and camcorders, desktop computers, remote controls… You get the idea. All stuff that is still around even today.

So since it’s been quite a while since I last tackled something like this, let’s go through a list I found of… 35 “Common Objects That Will Be Completely Useless In Just A Few Years“. Because Paige Steinman thinks that what she doesn’t use won’t be around in a few years while displaying a profound inability to think about contingencies – what will you do when the technology fails? I’ll skip over the ones on which I have no disagreement.

1. Keys

Just like workplaces have chips or use other technology to sign in each day, pretty soon homes will rely on similar functions, whether that be key fobs, fingerprints, or Bluetooth technology.

Yes and no. The issue with digital locks is they don’t work when the power fails or the batteries die. I have a digital lock on my back door. And on the walk-in door to my detached garage. Both have key backups. Because if their power fails, I still need to be able to get into my house.

And if you’re response is “well just keep an eye on the batteries”, imagine you’re gone from home for a week and come back to find the batteries died while you were away, and never gave any warning before you left. Now imagine that lock has no physical key backup and no way to enter the code since… the batteries have died.

2. Parking meters

Many cities have already begun to implement online options for parking meters, where drivers can log onto an app and pay their parking fees right from their cell phones, and that trend is only expected to catch on.

They’ve actually started to accept credit cards. Most paid parking garages and lots now accept credit cards for payment. I don’t expect apps to be the primary way people pay for parking anytime soon. I don’t know of any here in Kansas City that use an app or accept an app.

3. Side View Mirrors

Today, more and more cars come with the option to use cameras that show the driver what is behind them, instead of traditional rear view mirrors. Some predict that car dealers may give the side view mirrors the same treatment, letting drivers use video cameras instead, and helping them avoid those dangerous blind spots.

Vehicles aren’t getting rid of mirrors. Yes a lot of vehicles do include cameras along the sides of the vehicle – they tend to also be more expensive – but they still include the mirrors and will always include mirrors. Since it’s a lot easier to glance at a mirror than a camera display. And you can do that without taking your eyes off the road!

Seriously if you think regulators are going to allow cameras in place of mirrors, you’re sorely mistaken.

4. Passwords

Experts predict that in the next few years, using scans of thumbprints or even our own faces will take the places of passwords. And unlike written passwords, it is pretty hard to forget either of those things.

Yeah… no. And what “experts” are predicting “in the next few years” that passwords will be… gone. It isn’t happening. While biometrics methods of authentication will continue to grow, passwords won’t be completely displaced. Fingerprints can be duplicated – the Mythbusters demonstrated that – and facial recognition can be fooled as well. High security settings will still use passwords as one part of a multi-factor authentication setup.

Plus not all devices allow for biometric entry. Imagine that! I don’t have biometrics on my desktop computer, for example. And not everyone can use biometrics for authentication.

5. Headphones with cords

With the introduction of Airpods, Apple solidified the death of corded headphones once and for all.

Many said the same thing about wired keyboards and mice, yet both continue to persist on the market, and both sell quite well. Because neither require batteries, for one. Same with wired headphones.

Airpods won’t replace my $200 headphones. Airpods won’t replace wired headphones at all. Especially since I can’t use Airpods or anything like that due to problems I have with my ears. And I have wireless headphones that I use at work. I prefer the sound I get from my wired headphones I use at home.

6. Wallets

With new programs like Apple Pay and Apple Wallet, soon enough having a wallet will be unnecessary.

Two things you’re forgetting: forms of identification and insurance. You still need a wallet for both. IDs aren’t going to be phone apps. And while proof of auto insurance is available in phone apps – I have GEICO specifically – health insurance hasn’t gotten there yet.

And I don’t expect government-issued IDs to ever be there.

8. Pennies

In the foreseeable future, those little copper pennies might only be available in our memories.

The only way this would actually happen is if we got rid of coins entirely and printed currency with face values of less than a dollar. There was once a time where that happened, but I don’t expect us to return to that.

10. Cash registers

In a short while, the cash register itself will be added to the list of everyday items that are totally out of date. And anyone who has been to a farmer’s market or boutique lately has probably already noticed.

The cash register has merely assumed a different form. Technically speaking, a cash register is a “point of sale system”. And it started assuming a different form even before the end of the 20th century.

11. Phone Chargers

Yes, folks, she thinks everything is going to be charged wirelessly.

Thank goodness, some tech experts say that phones might soon be self-charging. Although so far no one is exactly sure what that might look like, phones could soon come with the ability to charge just by being connected by WiFi or by other wireless means.

Wireless chargers are way too slow and way too inefficient compared to wired chargers, and they will never be at parity simply due to the physics involved.

Instead the portable chargers are going to become more common than they already are. They’re already everywhere, and it wouldn’t surprise me if a lot of households have several of them.

12. Drivers License

Instead, we are saying that the future might not mean that teens will receive a physical drivers license. Instead, these documents might be available online. And who knows, will self driving cars coming out, we might not need a license at all.

And what happens if your phone dies or you don’t have an Internet connection? This is why wallets and physical cash won’t go away either. Making government-issued identification “available online” only is just asking for trouble in that regard as well. I mean, what if your phone dies and you get pulled over on your way to get it repaired or replaced?

14. Video cameras

With video recording functions on just about every phone, everyone has a built-in camcorder right in their pocket that is not nearly as bulky as an old school video camera.

The camera on your phone is also quite limited in its capability, since it’s locked to one aperture and focal length. Zooming in on your phone is a digital zoom, not an optical zoom – and no, they are not the same.

Until phones start coming with optical zoom capability, dedicated cameras aren’t going away. Plus the sensors in camera phones are smaller than even in point & shoot cameras, meaning low-light capability will never be as good. And there’s also the fact the camera is just another app, meaning other apps could interfere with trying to record a video.

15. Lines

Standing in a never-ending line might be one of the most frustrating experiences. And do not even get us started about those lines that truly never seem to move an inch. But instead of being one of those people who cuts the line, maybe in the future we can cut lines out entirely.

Again this is a case of something merely changing form, not going away. For example, many government offices give you the ability to wait in a virtual line – e.g. the Johnson County, KS, Treasurer’s Office via QLess.

16. Printed Books

The fact that actual physical paper books are becoming less popular should come as no surprise, as bookstores have been closing down at a pretty alarming rate. But pretty soon, we could be in a whole new world where one has to “turn on” a book rather than opening it up. And that’s a pretty scary story.

Which is why we’ll never get there for a lot of different types of books. Reference books being one. I also have the physical copies of several e-books I also own, such as Stunning Digital Photography by Tony & Chelsea Northrup.

Plus printed books don’t require a power source.

17. Paper

There was once a time when thinking about paper as obsolete would have been seen as absolutely ridiculous.

We’re still in that time. We will never be able to completely get rid of paper, and it’s shortsighted to even consider such a possibility given all the ways paper is used today. You might not use it much anymore, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be “completely useless”. Especially since physically writing stuff down is better than typing it in a phone.

18. Digital Cameras

Oh not this again.

We are going to go ahead and guess that it has a lot to do with smartphones, and the fact that now everyone has a surprisingly capable camera prepackaged into their phones. Some of the cameras in smartphones have even surpassed the quality of your average digital camera. So when it comes to digital cameras, take a picture. It will last longer.

Again camera phones have a fixed aperture, so you can’t control depth of focus and the amount of light to the sensor. Software can mimic depth of focus, but it isn’t anywhere near the same as doing that with a physical lens. Digital zoom in a cell phone is not the same as an optical zoom. Plus the smaller sensor means it won’t function nearly as well in low light.

Plus the digital camera has GROWN in popularity in recent years. Photography has become more popular as a hobby, and while a camera phone will get you started, you’ll fast run into its limitations: again, fixed aperture and focal length, and the smaller sensor.

19. Hard Drives

Was anyone even technologically up to date in the early 2000s if they did not have their own personal hard drive to lug around? We think not.

This wasn’t even close to commonplace.

Instead, anyone who wants to back up their information no longer has to carry around a big hunk of metal. Concepts like the Apple Cloud or Google Drive will take care of all of that without any of that heavy hardware as people move forward into a new era of computer memory storage.

So long as you don’t lose your Internet connection. Again that’s the one thing so many seem to forget about the “cloud”: what happens if you lose your Internet connection?

23. Needles

And now her ignorance really shines through. I’m pretty sure she’s likely already been yelled at by doctors and nurses for this.

For years, scientists and other medical professionals have been working on developing an alternative to vaccinations through injections.

Okay she really needs to read about vaccines. I’m not a medical professional or vaccinologist and even I know how wrong this is. A lot of vaccines are intra-muscular: they are injected, via a needle, into muscle tissue. Some vaccines administered are orally or nasally, but those are the exception.

Beyond that, to say that vaccines may be administered via an alternate route doesn’t mean needles are going to be “obsolete”. I hope a few doctors and nurses have metaphorically (or even physically) slapped her silly for this. There is still plenty that will require needles, since it’s the only way to administer via the intravenous pathway.

25. DVDs

How long has the death of physical media been predicted?

With streaming services like the aforementioned Netflix, along with Hulu, Disney+, and HBO Go, DVDs have become obsolete, and overall just unnecessary.

What if you want to watch something that isn’t available through any of the online services? I have quite a bit on my media server that isn’t available anywhere online for free or as part of a subscription service. So I’m not at the mercy of what the online services decide to make available and when they decide to pull it.

And courtesy of it all being on my home network, even for what is available online, I have better video and audio quality compared to online streaming. Plus it doesn’t rely on my Internet connection, so it’s always available. And as I also have the physical copies, I can still watch it even if my server isn’t cooperating.

And the same for CDs.

This also means I can copy those files off onto one of my laptops or a USB drive to take anywhere I may want to watch them.

27. Television Remotes

Many devices like Apple TV and Roku allow for users to download a remote control onto their cell phones using apps.

And universal remotes have existed for quite a long time. Remote controls allow you to control a device remotely. This is yet another case of a new form adopting an existing function, similar to the point of sale system or “cash register”.

28. GPS Devices

People are no longer plugging in a GPS device on long road trips, but instead they are using their phones for Google Maps, Apple Maps, Waze, or other apps. And when it doubt, many cars now come with built in GPS devices.

GPS devices have the benefit of not needing to rely on an Internet connection to determine your location. While they may not be necessary in a lot of places, they are still invaluable devices for those who travel or live in places where a good data signal to a cell phone isn’t available – perish the thought, I know.

30. Check books

That is because people just are not writing checks anymore like they used to. At work, many businesses are utilizing the direct deposit option, erasing the need for checks. Otherwise, sites like PayPal or apps like Venmo have made it so that exchanging money can be done in a way that is much easier and no longer requires anyone whipping out their check books.

Not everyone accepts online or electronic payments.

So while check books have mostly gone the way of the dodo, checks (bank drafts) have not. For example I still use checks periodically, but I have them printed and sent through my banks bill pay service.

31. Long distance charges

It might not be long before long distance calling charges are a thing of the past. More and more often, cell phone carriers are including at least a few minutes of long distance calls to their phone plans.

In the 15 years I’ve been an AT&T customer (the first few years of it with Cingular), I’ve never paid for long distance. If your cell phone plan does not include long distance calling, then change it. Even prepaid cell phones should allow long distance minutes as if they were local minutes.

34. Thumb drives

Again with the cloud!!

So why is something that is so useful and easy finding itself becoming useless? Well, the only thing easier than carrying around data in a pocket is not carrying it around at all. By that we mean that new technology like cloud storage makes it so that thumb drives are no longer necessary.

There’s a simple question: what will you do if you don’t have an Internet connection?

Thumb drives make it stupid easy to carry data with you. This is sometimes necessary for times where you won’t have a (reliable) connection to your cloud storage. Plan for it. Thumb drives are stupid cheap anymore.

Prove you’re not cheating

This was from Reddit’s AmITheAsshole forum:

Me (34m) and partner (33f) went on a holiday to Bali with two of her friends and their husbands. On the second day the girls went shopping, the husband’s went for a massage and I stayed around the pool. Turns out these massages had a very “happy ending” and somehow their wives found out.

My partner then started to question if I was with them, I laughed it of and told her I was at the pool. After talking to her friends she started questioning me again. I asked if the other men said I had, she said no but maybe they’re covering for me!!! I refused to answer anymore question I had done fuck all wrong. We never spoke that night and I stayed away from the rest of the group, who seemed to be over the whole thing and was having a great time now!!!

I remembered I had all the signed receipts from the pool for all the food and drinks I had charged to the room and all had the times on. Absolute proof that what I said was true, I decided not show her them. If I did it would have eased her mind and we could of moved on and had a good holiday but why should I!!! The next day she was moody with me, having quiet conversation with her friends and then ongoing questioning to me which I refused to answer as I already had. Later that night I asked her one more time if she actually thought I did and she said she didnt know. I booked a flight and left that morning earlier than planned leaving her behind.

Am I arsehole for not just proving my innocents and easing her mind? I did nothing wrong but then again I know her friends was putting doubt in her mind.

EDIT: So I’ve had to add this because a lot of people presume I just booked a flight a fucked off. I never we had a discussion about it for a while and come to the mutual decision that maybe it’s best we had some time apart, a hotel room isn’t the best place to be during this type of stuff. Since we was only in Bali for five days that was an easier option.

And he’s absolutely NOT the asshole in this. That anyone disagreed with that notion, and the consensus labeled him such, shows a massive fault in logic as pointed out in the comments, such as this:

Your partner doesn’t trust you.

Showing her the receipts wouldn’t change that. It would just show that she was wrong.

While the OP could prove his innocence this time, what if the next time there is an accusation (and there likely will be given what occurred) and he doesn’t have timestamped receipts? There’s also the question of whether the girlfriend would’ve actually accepted the evidence or otherwise found some way to explain it away.

Because people are strange like that.

In my article on “micro cheating“, I said this: “The mere thought or insinuation that your significant other is cheating can be enough to completely erode your trust in them.” And with the above post, the trust is completely gone. The OP expanded that the friends who were “inside her head” she sees only a couple times a year, yet they held enough sway to push the girlfriend to essentially jettison all trust in him. Because that’s essentially what happened, even if she won’t admit it.

Going back to my article on “micro cheating”, I continued with this:

They, in turn, will lose their trust in you with the mere allegation and their defense against it. Because now your partner will wonder how anything he does will be interpreted by you.

This is why innocence should always be presumed and never have to be proven. This is why it’s fallacious to demand someone prove their innocence rather than you proving their guilt. When it comes to infidelity, it destroys trust.

The only thing the girlfriend had was the word of the two wives. A mere allegation. Nothing else. Despite the two guys who openly admitted to getting a “happy ending” at the massage parlor saying he wasn’t with them. Yet with that mere allegation, the girlfriend demanded the OP prove he wasn’t there.

He has the receipts this time, but next time he may not. He could prove his innocence this time, but next time he might not be able to. Remember, suspects aren’t arrested and convicted for lacking an alibi, but on evidence proving they were at the crime scene. In the above situation, the girlfriend didn’t even have that, but did have assertions showing the boyfriend wasn’t at the massage parlor and had the boyfriend’s alibi.

Yet on the mere assertion he might have been there from two people who definitely weren’t there, she accused him of cheating.

Trying to prove one’s innocence becomes tiring very quickly. I have personal experience on that. Especially since the tendency in the face of being proved wrong is to double down, not admit fault. In other words, when presented with the receipts, what can be expected is the girlfriend to somehow manufacture a way for her allegation to still be true despite the evidence to the contrary.

That is why I’ve said numerous times the mere allegation of cheating is enough to destroy a relationship. It becomes a continual battle wherein the boyfriend will now need to always prove he isn’t cheating, and the girlfriend will always wonder whether he is.

My advice to both would be to break up.

Japan isn’t an argument for gun control

Article: How Japan Has Almost Eradicated Gun Crime

Whenever someone mentions Japan in the context of gun control, there’s always a quick test I do on an article to determine whether it’s going to make a viable argument. And it’s quite simple: look for “General Order”. If that phrase isn’t in the article, the author is being disingenuous.

“General Order” refers to General Order No. 1, the first order given by Gen. Douglas MacArthur following the Japanese surrender. With regard to gun control, this paragraph is of note from Article I:

The Japanese Imperial General Headquarters further orders its Commanders in Japan and abroad to disarm completely all forces of Japan or under Japanese control wherever they may be situated, and to deliver intact and in safe and good condition all weapons and equipment at such times and at such places as may be prescribed by the Allied Commanders indicated above.

In other words, the Allies ordered the Japanese disarmed. Since the whole idea of a surrender is to, also, make sure your enemy can’t come back at you. We also occupied Japan for about 7 years following the surrender to ensure compliance with all Allied orders. And we were using them as a military staging ground for the Korean War during the latter years of that occupation, but I digress.

Along with the complete disarmament of the Japanese (with exception to the police forces), the Allies also rewrote Japan’s constitution. If you look at the Constitution of Japan from that era, you’ll notice one thing missing: no protection for the right to bear arms.

So with Japan starting with a clean slate and having a new Constitution that doesn’t protect the right to keep and bear arms, is it no surprise that they don’t have anywhere near the gun problem as the United States or… any other country for that matter? Seems pretty straightforward.

But it also means Japan can’t be used as a model for gun control in the US. Since we are never going to get to complete disarmament here. Nor should we try. Though plenty of people on the left are definitely trying.

Another slight variation

And for accessibility (without the character manipulation):

i am aware ******** one of your passphrases. Lets get directly to point. absolutely no one has paid me to investigate you. You don’t know me and you are most likely wondering why you’re getting this email?

i placed a malware on the xxx vids (porno) website and there’s more, you visited this site to have fun (you know what i mean). When you were viewing videos, your internet browser started out working as a Remote Desktop having a key logger which provided me with accessibility to your display and also web camera. Just after that, my software collected your complete contacts from your Messenger, social networks, and emailaccount. after that I created a double video. First part displays the video you were viewing (you have a fine taste lmao), and next part displays the recording of your web cam, and its you.

You get not one but two options. We will understand these options in aspects:

First alternative is to neglect this email. in this situation, i will send out your actual video clip to just about all of your contacts and thus visualize concerning the humiliation you experience. and definitely if you happen to be in a relationship, exactly how this will affect?

2nd alternative will be to pay me $1979. Let us refer to it as a donation. Subsequently, i most certainly will right away remove your videotape. You can go on your daily routine like this never happened and you will not hear back from me.

You will make the payment by Bitcoin (if you do not know this, search ‘how to buy bitcoin’ in Google search engine).

BTC address:

[QR code that translates to 15HjorJv19mpYKMP7Jjj59wPPPC882FAfF]

Scan the QR code with mobile to get the address.

if you may be making plans for going to the law, very well, this mail can not be traced back to me. i have dealt with my actions. i am just not attempting to charge a fee very much, i simply prefer to be paid. You now have two days in order to make the payment. i have a special pixel within this e-mail, and now i know that you have read this email. if i do not get the BitCoins, i will definitely send out your video to all of your contacts including close relatives, co-workers, and so on. Nevertheless, if i receive the payment, ill destroy the recording immediately. This is a non-negotiable offer therefore do not waste my time and yours by replying to this mail. if you really want proof, reply with Yup! & i will certainly send your video to your 10 friends.

So, yeah.

DotTune for a Sigma lens

Tuning the autofocus is one of the major benefits to owning a Sigma lens. My camera is a D7200, and it allows for AF fine tuning in the body. Calibrating the lens to the camera is important for sharp and accurate auto-focus.

The reason for this is simple: there are two autofocus sensors on your DSLR. One is used by the viewfinder, and the other is your camera’s sensor. (This is where mirrorless cameras have the obvious advantage.) Fine tuning the autofocus on cameras that allow it is about bringing those two sensors as close to parity as possible. If the viewfinder sensor isn’t calibrated to match the camera sensor, you’ll end up with pictures that may look sharp enough, if they look sharp at all, but not as sharp as they could be.

So how do you bring them into parity?

The “DotTune” method I’ve found to be the fastest method for doing this. But in my initial attempt with it, I was having a hell of a time and getting some wild values. Why? In large part because I was actually trying to measure the distance to target using a tape measure to the sensor-plane indicator on the camera body. And, it turns out, the distance scale on the lens isn’t… entirely accurate. (Insert ID4 meme.)

So while DotTune works great, it doesn’t work when you need to rely on a specific focus distance according to the lens. Instead, the method requires some… tuning. Specifically to step 2 of the process: “Establish critical focus in Live View”.

Remember that tuning your autofocus is about bringing your viewfinder’s sensor into parity with the camera’s main sensor. Why this has to happen with each lens is beyond me, and why Sigma and Tamron’s lenses require it at multiple points on the lens is also beyond me, but…. moving on. Live View let’s you determine at what point the camera says you’re in focus for a particular distance. So when establishing critical focus using Live View, you need to check the distance scale on the lens.

Then it’s just a matter of adjusting the distance, closer or farther back, engaging the autofocus each time, until the the distance marker lines up to what you need. In the above picture, I was lining up for 0.7m. As you can see, I’m a little too far back, so I needed to steadily move the camera closer to the target until the autofocus set the lens to about as exactly on 0.7m as I could get.

Note: when you adjust the camera distance, make sure to move the lens focus ring to infinity, and if you’re adjusting for infinity, move it to <1m. This way you’ll know that you’re at the right distance when you engage the autofocus in Live View.

Since this was now “critical focus” for that focus distance, the rest of the DotTune steps followed from here, using the “AF fine tune” to determine the tuning value for this focus distance.

After I confirmed values for the needed focus distances (not really worrying about infinity at this moment), I programmed the lens using the Sigma software with the determined values and delete the “AF fine tune” value saved for this lens.

Then it was a matter of repeating steps 2 to 4 to confirm the programmed values and adjust accordingly, dialing in the values if needed until a half-press of the shutter on step 4 produces an instant, solid dot at each focus distance.

One thing to note, obviously, is that Sigma’s numbers for tuning and Nikon/Canon’s numbers aren’t equivalent, so the numbers from the camera should only be used as a starting point for dialing in further. But it should get you in the ballpark. In my instance, the numbers for 0.4m and 0.7m were close enough that the half-press gave an instant, solid dot confirming the adjustment. Doesn’t mean that’s the optimal setting, and I could dial it in further if I really wanted. However the 1.5m number I initially set (+15) was too high according to the viewfinder sensor, so I pulled it down to the number you see above and that worked.

Taking some test shots afterward worked great as well, and that’s ultimately what matters.

Can’t wait to try this on my 150mm-600mm!!! (Yes, that’s sarcasm…)

Worthless endeavors

Recently I received the below from a guy named “Bryan”. I’m willing to bet he won’t see this, since I highly doubt he’s actually seen this site, or looked up statistics for it in any venue, or he would’ve known the fruitlessness of his request before even making it.

Hi,

I am writing to you as we are trying to build up our connection and network with other top websites in the industry like yours.

We would like to pay for a link placement on one of your existing pages.

It would be a great help to be a part of your site! If you are interested it would be great to hear from you with a thought on price.

I can arrange payment to you ASAP.

Hope to hear from you.

Definitely sounds like a form letter. I feel like sending a snarky response asking for $10,000 or some silly number that’ll easily get him questioning whether I’m serious, but I’ll just ignore this one again like most of the rest. He’ll probably send a follow-up in a few days asking if I’ve seen his e-mail, in which case I may send a snarky response back. Wouldn’t be the first time I’ve told off someone whose come knocking like this.

As I’ve said several times, there is no point in anyone asking me for any kind of advertising or paid content. This blog on average gets about 100 hits per day and has never gotten more than a thousand hits in a day across the entire 10+ years it’s been around. I don’t make any money with this blog – all hosting costs are offset but not overtaken significantly by the Amazon Associates and eBay Partner Network programs (see required disclosure to the right). And I don’t have any intention of making money with this blog either.

Which is why I always find it hilarious when I receive form-letter solicitations for it.