MikroTik CSS610

Build Log:

About two years ago, I bought and put into service a MikroTik CRS317 10GbE router/switch. At the time I also bought several SFP modules to consolidate several Gigabit connections, since the switch supports that and I was consolidating only a few.

In that review, I wrote that consolidating Gigabit connections in that fashion is really only cost-effective if you’re consolidating a few. The cost of the modules would fast overtake the cost of a Gigabit switch beyond a handful. It’s similar to having Power-Over-Ethernet (PoE) injectors versus a switch. Though I’d argue needing more than one (1) PoE injector necessitates a switch simply due to cabling.

And it was installing PoE security cameras that necessitated a more divided setup to my home network infrastructure. I have an injector, allowing me to test cameras when I acquire them. But I bought a PoE switch before buying the second camera. Review on that might be coming later, though there isn’t much to really say on it.

A Gigabit switch with one or more 10GbE uplinks is the more ideal setup for consolidating Gigabit connections into a 10GbE backbone. This avoids taking up space on a 10GbE switch. And the uplink allows those Gigabit connections to talk to the rest of the network at full bandwidth.

Which brings me to this:

The MikroTik CSS610 is an 8-port Gigabit switch with two 10GbE SFP+ cages. This allowed me to consolidate all of my Gigabit connections without needing to buy a bunch more SFP modules. And move the existing Gigabit connections I had going to the 10GbE switch, reducing that switch’s power consumption and freeing up the SFP modules for later use, or just sell off.

It’s small. 200 x 167 x 46 mm, or 7-7/8″ wide, a little over 6-1/2″ deep, and slightly over 1U tall. I have mine sitting on a rack shelf next to the PoE switch, and two of these can easily fit on a rack shelf next to each other.

It’s passively cooled as well, having no fans inside, meaning it’s silent due to its very low power consumption. Perfect if it’s going to be sitting on a desktop instead of tucked away into a rack cabinet or networking closet.

And it just works. I didn’t bother doing any setup or configuration. I just pulled it out of the box, plugged it in to a 12V power source, and connected it to my 10GbE switch. It is a managed switch, using MikroTik’s SwOS, but I’m not using any of the managed features, and don’t have a need for them – though it’d probably at least be a good idea to update it to the latest firmware. I’ve had it since November 2020, and so far it’s just worked.

MSRP is just 99 USD, though I paid 78 USD plus shipping through EuroDK. Amazon lists it for about 115 USD as of this writing, which is about overall what I paid to ship it from EuroDK.

Why two SFP+ ports? There are several uses for it. One is chaining together several of these with a 10Gb trunk without resorting to a 10GbE switch while still not limiting bandwidth between them. Alternatively you could have one or two servers with 10GbE NICs connected to this. Or some combination thereto. It all depends on how you design your network layout to minimize contention.

Now what if you have more than 8 Gigabit connections? A couple options are available.

Unless you have more than 16 Gigabit connections, I’d say to just buy two CSS610 switches and connect both into your 10GbE switch. Which is what I’ll do if I need more Gigabit ports.

If you need to consolidate more than that, look at the MikroTik CSS326. (Amazon, EuroDK) The complication there is you may need to bond the 10GbE ports to combine their bandwidth if you expect traffic to that switch to ever exceed 10Gb.

Otherwise if you’re in the market for a switch that consolidates Gigabit connections to a 10GbE switch, I don’t think there is a better choice out there when it comes to price, even if you don’t use any of the management features. So check it out and see if it’ll fit your needs.

Quasi-diskless Linux installation with iSCSI and no PXE

So let me set the scene.

On my rack I have Nasira, which is a FreeNAS server with about 30TB effective storage. It’s connected to a 10GbE connection, built on an AMD FX-8350 and 32GB ECC RAM.

I also have a few loose machines. One is a GPU compute box for BOINC, sporting three NVIDIA graphics cards. Another is another GPU compute box sporting two AMD graphics cards for Folding@Home. And the thought came to mind that I didn’t want to put an SSD in either. But I don’t have any spare SSDs at the moment and didn’t feel like buying any.

But I do have a few spare USB drives lying around. So I wondered if I could get a quasi-diskless server up and running without setting up a PXE server, with all the time and complication that comes with that.

And since you’re reading this, you can pretty readily assume that the answer is… Yes, right? Well, read on and find out.


Briefly, I’ll discuss iSCSI here. It’s basically remote storage across a network similar to a file share. The exception is where a NAS is visible to your computer as a filesystem, an iSCSI share is treated as if it’s a physical drive. Just through a network connection instead of a SATA port or USB plug.

It has numerous advantages to a regular network file share, including being usable as direct storage for installing an operating system.

Since setting up an iSCSI share varies based on the NAS software, I won’t go any further here. All I’ll say is to make sure to set up your iSCSI share so it points to a file instead of one of the physical drives attached to the NAS.

Making it work

So what’s the catch? Why the USB drive? Well something needs to hold the /boot partition and the bootloader. (And /boot/efi if you’re setting up using UEFI.) I used a 16GB USB drive, but I see no reason why this can’t work with smaller capacity drives, likely even as small as 1GB if not smaller.

But is there a catch? Well there is one big one: the Linux distro you select must be able to link to an iSCSI target during installation. (Unfortunately that means Ubuntu and Debian are both out.) How to set that up varies based on distribution. I’ve done this only with Fedora and CentOS, so I can only speak directly to those and will use only those for demonstration herein. (Note: With CentOS, make sure to enable the network connection before you try to select an iSCSI target or it’ll say your login credentials are bad.)

(Note: In the screenshots below, I’m using VirtualBox for demonstration, so where you see “VBOX HARDDISK”, that’s the USB drive.)

The main thing here is you cannot use any “automatic” partitioning. You instead need to use a custom partition layout. The /boot mount (and /boot/efi, if applicable) needs to reside on the USB drive. Everything else (swap and / at minimum) resides on the iSCSI target.

Note as well that, at least with CentOS (I don’t recall seeing this with Fedora), when you set your /boot mount (and /boot/efi, if applicable), it may try to assign that to both the iSCSI target and USB drive. So if you see “and 1 other” under “Device(s)”, click Modify and click just the USB drive, then Select to save it.

And the USB drive needs to be set as the boot device. Obviously.


So if you want to set up servers to boot from iSCSI, this is a way to do it without setting up PXE and all the complications that come with it. Just enable iSCSI in your NAS, set up the targets as you need for each server, install Linux as described above, and you’re golden.

Sure it’s not a true disk-less setup, but it’s enough for my needs. It’s quick to setup. And a lot easier to setup as well compared to creating a PXE server and getting that working. (Plus that server becomes an additional point of failure in your network along with another target for ongoing maintenance.) And if you don’t have spare hardware you can use to make a PXE server, it’ll likely be cheaper to just buy a few USB drives if you don’t already have a few lying around.

It’d be great if I could just enable iSCSI in the UEFI for each server, but that’s probably not coming to consumer motherboards any time soon, if ever.

The unspoken side of student loan forgiveness

Ah student debt cancellation. Typically there are two camps to this. Those in favor who say “It’ll help the economy!” and those against who typically play the fairness card. I’m more to the latter, but there’s more to this discussion than just that.

It isn’t about getting people out of debt

The idea of forgiving student debt isn’t about wiping away debt. Never has been. It’s about making room for those borrowers to take on other types of debt. In other words, rather than getting them out of debt, it’s about changing the kind of debt they hold.

This is where the “it’ll help the economy” gambit comes from. They want student debt forgiven to saddle these borrowers with mortgages, car loans, and credit cards. It’s similar to all the investment firms who write articles telling people to hand their money over to them instead of putting any extra money you might have (over savings and an emergency fund) against your mortgage or other debts, including your student loans.

Lost future revenue

This is the other major thing no one is talking about. If the Federal government forgives that debt, that is interest and principal revenue they will no longer be getting. Billions of dollars per year in revenue gone. Think about that.

Oh but they already have a plan to recuperate that lost revenue. Tax people like me a lot more.

It’s about buying votes…

…by making you guilty to vote for anyone BUT Democrats down the line. “If you had a student loan, you now owe us your loyalty.” And if this were to occur, it wouldn’t surprise me if there will be lies spread down the line that Republicans will reinstate the forgiven loans, despite such being impossible. I mean we see it all the time with slavery and Democrats saying that Republicans will or want to bring back slavery, despite such also being impossible.

But since when do propagandists let small details like that get in the way?

There’s a better way

One of the properties of student loans that are oft-cited is the extreme difficulty to discharge them in bankruptcy. I’ve said before we need to make that easier. And if that were to happen, we’d also fast see those loans dry up because lenders are going to be a lot less willing to write loans without some kind of guarantee they’ll get paid back.

At the same time, though, even if they could be discharged in bankruptcy, that doesn’t mean you can just declare bankruptcy and get those loans discharged. You still have to abide by the bankruptcy code, meaning you have to show you are unable to pay back your debts and won’t be able to for the foreseeable future.

Bankruptcy isn’t easy. By design. Because bankruptcy law isn’t about creating an “easy out” for your debts, including your student loans. But a lot of people want that easy out, which is why politicians are willing to capitulate on student loan forgiveness.

Just remember, though: it was never about getting you out of debt, only ever about putting you in a position to take on even more debt, while at the same time saddling you with guilt should you ever decide to vote for someone who isn’t a Democrat.

Copyright infringement scam

This is new to me and the first time I’ve received this type of e-mail. I’ve redacted all names since the photographer on whose behalf this email appears to have been sent is a reputable photographer in the Bay Area.

Dear Sir/Madam:

I’m a representative of [REDACTED]. The purpose of this notice is to notify you that several graphic and/or visual works shown on the web site property associated with your legal entity are in reality the intellectual property of [REDACTED] who actually is a skilled digital photographer. [REDACTED] reserves and is the owner of all proper rights to the works in question. You’re able to browse the infringing works by sticking with this particular hyperlink:


Since you have not asked authorization to utilize, nor to make or/and distribute, offer, lend or rent all these works, you are therefore in violation of the 1976 U.S. Copyright ACT Title 17 of U.S. Code, Sections 102(a), 106-121.

You’re now warned to CEASE AND DESIST any and all additional illegal behaviors of copyright infringement by promptly removing the offending graphic and/or pictorial materials from public availability on the net intellectual property connected with your entity.

Failure to comply with the following notification within one (1) working day is going to be reasons for filling up a civil action suit against you and/or your legal entity, seeking monetary damage and compensation for court and lawyer’s service fees charged as a primary outcome of your unlawful activities of copyright infringement.

It isn’t our intend to hunt legal recourse, however, kindly note that no more warnings will be given should you neglect to abide by our authorized demand within the time given.

If you personally lack the specialized skillset to carry out the demanded activities, we recommend immediately getting in touch with the maintainer of the internet property and instructing these to comply with this CEASE AND DESIST letter on your behalf. You are strongly recommended to forward this document to them in order to achieve this task.

You are also permitted to route this notice some other engaged stakeholders and/or decision makers within your business as necessary.

Please remember to discover the info regarding the illegal materials to be removed via this link below, and act quick to avoid further penalties.


Sonny O’Connor

I tried looking up the name of the person who allegedly sent the message and could not find a lawyer with this name. But apparently this is a somewhat common scam, just with different message text. So… I guess they’re adapting.

Update: I forwarded this email to the photographer on whose behalf it was allegedly being sent. This is the reply I received:

Hello Kenneth – Yes, it has been brought to my attention that someone is sending emails claiming to be my legal counsel and is distributing cease and desist letters regarding copyright infringement on my behalf. Please note this is a scam, this individual is illegally using my name, and I have not authorized such representation or legal action on my behalf. It is also important to note that my accounts have not been hacked or compromised in any way. I appreciate you letting me know you received such a notice.

Hopefully there’s something they can do to get out from under this, since this has the potential to damage their reputation as a photographer – the main reason I didn’t put their name on this.

Direct-water connection for espresso

For the last 4 years, I’ve owned an ECM Technika IV Profi, and I’ve been loving having it. And the main reason I bought that machine is the ability to plumb it into the water line. It’s just unfortunate that I haven’t been able to do so until now.

So before going further, let’s go into the bill of materials for this project. Your mileage may vary depending on how you decide to do this.

Bill of materials

Here’s the final set of plumbing parts I used:


  • ½” PEX

Yeah, it’s a little… complicated. And yes, I’m using Sharkbite fittings because I don’t want to buy more tools. Speaking of, you’ll also need (if you use the same materials I did):

  • PVC/PEX pipe cutters
  • Pipe thread tape
  • Water pressure test gauge

And obviously your bill of materials may vary based on your circumstance and espresso maker.


A few things to bear in mind when you select parts for this.

1. Have two water shut-off valves

You’ll notice in the bill of materials above I have two valves. The first comes off the cold water supply under the sink. The other is on the counter.

Don’t rely on just one shut-off valve.

2. You don’t need an expensive pressure regulator

Pressure regulators are available through companies that sell espresso makers and parts. They have the upside of typically having a ⅜” or ¼” inlet and outlet – perfect for espresso makers – but at a significant cost.

My local hardware store had a pressure regulator with an output range of 10psi to 70psi (0.68bar to 4.83 bar), fitting my needs, but with ¾” inlets. I didn’t want that large of inlets since that would require adapters coming off the ½” PEX line under my sink.

But I was able to order in the pressure regulator listed above. Initially I found it through Lowe’s for around $40, but I canceled that order and found it through eBay for a little more. I canceled it because three days after the “estimated pick-up date” it still said “Order Received”. The eBay seller took a few days to actually ship the item, but at least they shipped it.

The downside to the regulator I selected is needing to support its weight so it wasn’t just hanging off the plastic filter housing.

Assembly and Discussion

If you’ve done any plumbing work in the past, this should go together pretty easily. Especially since you’ve got my bill of materials as a starting point for figuring things out. Let your specific circumstance determine what parts you buy, but I don’t think yours will be too far off from mine.

I have two ½” PEX tubes coming into the kitchen under the sink. I recently replaced my dishwasher, and replaced some of the fittings under the sink since they looked corroded from hard water – a water conditioner is in the plans for later. So that guided much of my plans on this.

Now I easily could’ve just bought a long-enough braided hose for going behind the dishwasher. That certainly would’ve been easier than trying to snake PEX behind there, and probably less expensive overall as well in terms of fittings. But I wanted to maintain the larger diameter tube going to the pressure regulator. Every braided hose I found has a thinner inner-diameter.

Unfortunately the clearance behind the dishwasher also meant I needed to do some… fitting voodoo to connect to the pressure regulator. A braided hose definitely would’ve been easier here. PEX is flexible, but not enough to reach how I needed it. Everything’s attached to a 1×4, which is ¾” thick, so something like this would still have been necessary even if the filter and regulator were attached to the back of the cabinet directly.

And yes, I have the pressure regulator sitting on a small shelf to support its weight. I already had the angle brackets and scrap 2×4, so this worked out. “I’ll take ‘Ways to give plumbers heart attacks’ for $400, Alex.” Especially since I used a pair of Sharkbite elbow fittings to connect the incoming PEX line to it.

I also intended to connect the pressure regulator directly to the filter housing. Thankfully I only needed the bushing plus the nipple to do that. Coming off the water filter is a ⅜” MIP to ⅜” compression elbow, making this about the same as the water delivery to my dishwasher.

Through the countertop is a ½” MIP nipple. 4″ long, I believe, which is a bit longer than it needed to be, almost a little too long, but fortunate since I was screwing on the hose from inside the cabinet. So definitely don’t get one that’s just “long enough” to get through the counter. Give yourself plenty of room to make sure you can screw down the ½” FIP end of the hose all the way. Probably should’ve had the hole about 1″ more to the left, though.

And on top of the counter is where the fun really started. Most washing machine valves are NOT certified lead-free, so can’t be used for this. So to get a setup that can, I used ½” FIP to ½” push-to-connect elbow into a ½” push-to-connect washing machine valve. To secure the valve, I have ¼” spacers underneath with #8 screws going into the countertop.

With that in place, it was a matter of calibrating the pressure regulator to about 20psi.

Connecting the espresso machine

Let me just say this up front: finding the right kind of adapters to make this work was a pain in the ass.

The espresso machine comes with a ⅜” BSP compression to ⅛” BSP braided hose, along with a ⅜” BSP compression male to ⅜” flare adapter. So a bit of fitting voodoo: ¾” MHT to ½” FIP, ½” MIP to ⅜” flare, and ⅜” flare swivel coupler. Except for some reason, I couldn’t get a leak-tight seal.

So I thought, “Let’s find an NPT to BSP adapter”. McMaster-Carr to the rescue! Unfortunately finding a ⅜” BSP to NPT adapter in lead-free brass was impossible. So I had to go with 304 stainless steel here. And that combination may be causing you to shout “galvanic corrosion”, except everything I’m finding online said the combination should be perfectly fine. I spent several hours pinning this down before putting in the order.

The adapter, though, is ⅜” BSP to ⅜” MIP. So getting that connected to the valve required two additional fittings: ¾” FHT to ½” FIP, and a ½” MIP to ⅜” FIP bushing. This put things in place for what should’ve been the final conversion. Except I couldn’t find a fitting that could go from ⅜” BSP female to ⅜” BSP compression male. I thought I found one through EspressoParts.com, but it converted to ⅜” NPT compression.

Having overnighted that part in, and realizing the night it shipped that it wouldn’t do what I’d hoped, I had another thought: look at the water inlet on the machine.

I lifted the machine up on a couple short 2x4s. It looked to be an adapter fitting going into a rotary fitting. I figured it was another British thread. And getting it out, I thought its size looked familiar.

It was ¼”-19 BSP, a.k.a. G¼” for those familiar with PC water cooling. Back to McMaster-Carr! Where I found a ⅜” BSP male to ¼” BSP male reducing adapter. Thankfully I didn’t need to pay extra to overnight the part since they’re just up in Omaha. Anyway…

So that adapter along with the ⅜” BSP female to ⅜” NPT compression meant that I could just buy a standard water supply hose from Home Depot. In fact, the same supply hose I have going from the water filter to the ½” MIP nipple going through the counter.

So one last trip to Home Depot, where I bought a ¾” FHT to ½” MIP adapter and another supply hose.

Despite all the expense going with it, the back and forth trying to figure out the right set of adapters, actually worked out for the better in the end. This final setup is simpler compared to… what I could’ve had. And the hose I ended up using in the end is larger in diameter compared to the one supplied by ECM.

But there are two ways this could’ve been simpler still, provided I could’ve sourced these parts:

  1. ¾” FHT to ⅜” NPT compression hose (for potable water) to eliminate the hose adapter on the valve, or
  2. ¼” BSP male to ⅜” NPT compression fitting adapter to eliminate the adapter combination on the water intake.

Which Koolance, a computer and systems water cooling company, used to sell the latter, but I’m sure they would’ve told me it was not suitable for potable water.


As of when this article goes live, I’ve had the direct water connection for a few days now. So how does it compare? Not much different from before. But I didn’t expect it to be much different.

The pressure gauge was the first thing I noticed. When operating from the boiler, it’ll typically rest at 0 unless you’re pulling a shot. Now it should reflect the line water pressure. In my case it’s about 1 BAR, or about 14.5psi, which is optimal for my machine.

I also noticed it a little higher for pulling shots. About 9.5 BAR instead of 9 BAR, in my instance. So this means you may need to dial-in your grinder again.

Otherwise I’m glad this project is done as it means I don’t need to be hunched over in one of the lower kitchen cabinets for anything anymore. At least until the next time the dishwasher or garbage disposal need replaced, which hopefully won’t be for another decade as both are pretty new.

Oh wait… I will need to replace the filter in about 6 months. Damn it…

Don’t just abruptly quit

Over on Reddit’s “Am I the Asshole” subreddit, this question came up a couple days ago:

I had a boss who was a real turd. He labored under the delusion he was an excellent boss and couldn’t put together that his behavior and the crappy pay was why he had such a hard time keeping employees. He also thought it was acceptable to call his female employees hun, sweetie, and sugar. He was a condescending asswipe who consistently passed over more qualified women for promotions in favor of promoting less qualified men. I had to stay until I could find a better job because I enjoy eating, and couldn’t afford to leave unless I had something else. I got an interview with a competitor who hired me on making more than I made with him. I turned in my two weeks and he said “oh sweetie, you know you can’t leave.” I said I absolutely am leaving. He got the smuggest look on his face and said “Well, I’m not accepting this, sugar. Guess you’re here to stay.” I got so furious and decided that was it. I said “well screw this then, I quit. Effective immediately.” Called my new job, explained what happened in front of him as he sat there slack jawed and agreed start the next day. I packed my stuff and left. A former coworker said it was an asshole thing for me to just up and quit on the spot, but if he refused to accept the resignation he could easily have tried to screw me over when my last day did come. My new boss says he deserved it and I’m not the asshole for quitting like I did. My boyfriend says he can see how other employees might feel like I was an asshole by making them cover my absence, but sees how I’m not the asshole for walking out of that toxic environment. So just because I’m curious, I thought I’d ask here. AITA?

Yes, she’s the asshole here. So is her boss, don’t get me wrong. But her boss being an asshole doesn’t justify her actions.

Your manager can refuse to accept your resignation

This is the main point that needs to be made. Several people have pointed out that your resignation is not “asking permission to quit”, which is true. It is a notice that you will be leaving. But does your manager have an obligation to accept that resignation? No.

Now this doesn’t mean you can’t leave. Unless a contract says otherwise and your employment is “at will”, you can quit at any time for any reason or none. But remember that how you leave has consequences. Consequences the OP obviously didn’t consider when she let her emotions kick her reasoning abilities out the door so they could steal the show.

More on this later.

Never send your resignation to just your manager

Your resignation really needs to be going to three people in the company: your manager, your HR representative, and your manager’s manager. It really isn’t a good idea to send it just to your manager. And if you don’t have a good rapport with your manager, they may not inform HR of your resignation on your behalf, even if they do “accept” it.

Which opens up a whole new can of worms.

The OP is right when she said this: “if he refused to accept the resignation he could easily have tried to screw me over when my last day did come”. If you believe your manager will try to screw you over on your way out the door, sending your resignation to your HR representative directly along with your manager’s manager makes it a lot less likely that can happen. It doesn’t take the risk down to zero, but it drops it substantially.

Don’t just walk off the job

So what can happen if your manager doesn’t accept your resignation?

Again, he/she may not notify HR that you’ve resigned. And that’s why it’s always best to tell them directly. And if HR isn’t notified that you resigned, if you do leave without them knowing, it looks like you quit abruptly and walked off the job. Not the appearance you want to give. Especially if you expect to use them as a possible reference later. Because if a future prospective employer calls them to verify employment, they can and may tell future prospective employer that you walked off the job.

And you won’t be able to refute that.

And in this instance, if OP finds herself in that situation knowing she did walk off the job, it’ll fast look like she’s badmouthing a previous manager, which is a huge recruitment faux pas. It’ll also look like she’s making shit up since she won’t be able to prove anything she claims. Both of which will torpedo any chance she has. So she’d better hope her now-previous employer doesn’t tell any future prospective employers that she just up and quit. Especially since it sounds like she just left without telling HR why. Which would’ve given her a chance to make a statement about her manager, documenting her claims.

The advance notice (two weeks typical, three if you’re a manager, four or more for executives) became standard to allow for transition and continuation of business with as little disruption as possible given the departure. If you leave abruptly, you leave your employer and team in a precarious situation that could’ve been avoided.

As such, I’ve really got to question the idea the new boss said he deserved it since both are obviously ignoring the collateral damage. It’s like bombing a village to kill a single terrorist: the terrorist might have “deserved” to die, but did everyone else in the village also deserve to die?

As such, did her coworkers and anyone else directly affected by her departure deserve to be put in the situation she left them in?

You have to think beyond just yourself when making these kind of decisions.

But… the boss is a sexist, condescending pig!

That largely doesn’t matter in this circumstance. The boss being an asshole doesn’t justify her actions. The coworker and boyfriend are right. It was an asshole move to abruptly quit on the spot given the precarious situation it left her coworkers.

The right move would’ve been to take her resignation to her manager’s manager and HR. Either walking it to them directly, by e-mail, or however. And letting them know at the same time about the move her direct manager tried to make and letting both of them handle it from there. Given her boss is a sexist, condescending pig, she also could’ve used that to file a formal complaint if one had never been filed against the manager. Which, given his continued conduct, is quite likely since he sounds like a sexual harassment suit just waiting to happen.

Instead she let her emotions get the better of her, and she likely forever tarnished her reputation with that employer, something she may not realize until several years down the line if she intends on leaving her now-current employer.

As such, for the reasons stated above – letting emotion get the better of her and completely ignoring the impact her departure would have on her coworkers and anyone else directly affected – the OP is an asshole.

Context matters

When I received the below solicitation, I really couldn’t believe what I was reading.

Dear Kenneth

I hope you are safe & well during this extraordinary moment in history.

I see that you cite USGovernmentSpending.com on Observations… here.

I’m writing because we’ve a launched a tool at [REDACTED] dot com which I think your users may find useful.

It’s an animated world debt clock, covering 40+ of the world’s biggest economies (from the US to Australia). Unlike the page you currently cite, our debt clock is visual, fully responsive & looks great on mobile (as used by 40-50% of your users in 2020!)

You can take a look here:-


Do you think the link would make a useful addition to your page on kennethballard.com, perhaps?

Thank you for your time, Kenneth.

Best wishes,


PS. Our site has been cited by CNBC & The Huffington Post, and I’d be thrilled if we’d be able to add Observations… to that list, too 😉

And I can’t care that you’ve been cited by CNBC and HuffPo. I’ve been quoted by the BBC. It doesn’t really mean all that much.

So some context…

The article they link is my refutation to a 7-point list of Obama’s “accomplishments”. On my refutation to point 4, I link to USGovernmentSpending.com to show the per-year Federal budget deficits for FY 2005-2015. The site has all kinds of other information about Federal government spending, so check it out if you’re interested and don’t get easily overwhelmed by a lot of numbers and charts. I think I’ve linked to them several times on this site.

So Joel comes around and sees that I link to USGovernmentSpending.com on that article, ignores the context for that link, and asks me to link to his “debt clock”. He doesn’t even properly represent the context of how or why I’m linking to USGovernmentSpending.com. He just says “link to my site”. Which the specific resource in his link (redacted for obvious reasons) was a debt clock for… get this… the UK national debt. Wow…

As someone with a business degree who also studied marketing… this is really sad. Beyond sad actually.

If he’d actually read the article to get the full context around why I linked to usgovernmentspending.com, he would’ve seen quite clearly that his request was nonsensical. Again it’s a link to the per-year Federal government budget deficits and the article doesn’t even mention the total accumulated national debt. It would’ve shown him that his e-mail was a complete waste of time, which is why I largely ignored it and his follow-up till now. And I’m only bringing it up so I actually post something while finishing up a few things I still have in draft.

Beyond that…

I’ve mentioned before this site barely hits the triple-digits in views in a single day. There really is no reason anyone should be sending me these kind of solicitations, as they’ll just end up as another article on my blog showcasing how lazy some people can be. It was Joel’s solicitation that led me to add the blurb at right: that if anyone wants me to actually consider any of the ideas that get sent my way for this site, include it as the message to a non-refundable payment to my PayPal, and then I just might give it the light of day.

But at least I can say that Joel’s request isn’t the most… lazy or stupid I’ve received. That one came back in 2017. I’ll post that one at a later time.

Are they all using the same form letter?

In January 2019, I wrote an article called, quite pointedly, “At least read the article before sending a solicitation“. Well this morning I received an e-mail that, on a second glance, I realized looked… familiar.

Dear Editor,

My name is Jo and I’m an Editor at Happy DIY Home. I was doing research on the Alaskan Malamute vs Siberian Husky and just finished reading your wonderful piece: https://www.kennethballard.com/?p=5621

In that article, I noticed that you cited a solid resource that I’ve come across in the past: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alaskan_Malamute

We just published an updated, comprehensive guide on the similarities and differences between the Alaskan Malamute and Siberian Husky on our sister site, [REDACTED]. It is completely free and you can find it here: [REDACTED]

If you like the piece we’d be humbled if you cited us in your article. Of course, we will also share your article with our 100k newsletter subscribers and followers across our social platforms.

Either way, keep up the great work!


So they note an article in which I posted an e-mail solicitation I received, and then use nearly the exact same e-mail template as what the preceding solicitor used. Seriously? This tells me that “Jo” never read the article. Hasn’t even seen my blog, since that article also hasn’t had any hits in all of 2020.

Instead here’s what likely happened.

A search engine crawling service went looking for web sites that mention “Alaskan Malamute” (which the preceding post did) or “Siberian Husky” (something not mentioned on this site at all till now). The searches are likely limited as well to pages that link to another, such as the noted Wikipedia article. Then an automated service blasted out e-mails to domain owners based on a form template (what used to be called “mail merge“) in which the noted person, “Jo”, claims to have read the article (I know that didn’t happen here) to bait the target into adding a link to their article to boost their site’s search engine placement.

To get more clicks.

Meaning more ad impressions.

And more money.

I wasn’t born yesterday. I know quite well how this works.

And yes, that link to the “mail merge” article is intentional, an attempt to bait another automated system as another test of that hypothesis. If I get a solicitation about “mail merge” or something related to it noting this article, I’ll post that here as well.

In the mean time, I’ll just leave you with the reply I sent back – on which I doubt the e-mail it came from is actually a monitored inbox. (Something else I should consider testing by flooding it with replies.)

Ms Miller,

I can tell quite clearly from your message (quoted below) that you didn’t read the article you note, as I would hope it is very obvious just how nonsensical your request is.

Take a good look at that article if you’re confused by this reply. And while you’re there, look to the right-hand side of the page and you’ll see a section called “On Solicitations and Inquiries”.

Thank you, Duracell

I’ve mentioned before on this blog that I’m a hobbyist photographer. Back in December I had a photoshoot with a then-10 year-old girl at a local park under Christmas lights. Knowing I’d be using my flash, I bought an extra set of AA batteries – specifically the Duracell Optimum AA 4-pack.

Didn’t need the batteries during that shoot, so I just held onto them. Fast forward to a couple Fridays ago. I had another night photoshoot with a local graduate. And during the shoot the batteries in my flash kept overheating. So I opted to try to switch them out for the spares, the aforementioned Duracell batteries. But when my wife and I went to open the packet, we discovered the batteries had corroded. An unopened, unused set of batteries.

So a couple nights later, I wrote in to Duracell through the online form. (Unfortunately I didn’t copy off what I sent.) And I attached a few pictures of the batteries and the packaging.

I’ve always believed that what sets a company apart isn’t whether they managed to distribute defective items, since that’s an inescapable reality, but what they do when a customer reports having one. In this instance, Duracell sent me a replacement set of batteries, which I received tonight.

An 8-pack replacement set of AA Duracell Optimum batteries.

Responding to a knife with a firearm

LA Times Letters to the Editor: “Why do police officers keep shooting people armed with knives?

Oh this is a good one…

To the editor: I read with interest Steve Lopez’s column on another police shooting of a man armed with a knife. These shootings first caught my eye in 1979.

At the time, I was in law school when two Los Angeles Police Department officers shot Eula Love multiple times. The 39-year-old Love was holding a steak knife and arguing about why her gas was turned off over a $22 bill.

After reading of these incidents over 40 years, I have picked up a couple of themes. First, officers across the country are permitted to use combat fire, where they empty their guns at the suspect irrespective of opposing risks.

Second, police do not resort to alternative weapons, such as bean bags or even .22-caliber short bullets, often enough. Each LAPD squad car is loaded with special technology; is a 9-millimeter semiautomatic handgun the only option?

If we agree a solution is needed, and we do, my first suggestion is a requirement to hire only college graduates with a degree in criminology.

Kevin H. Park, Westlake Village

It’s interesting that he’d call out “.22-caliber short bullets”, which I presume he means the .22LR, as if it’s somehow less lethal than a 9mm pistol. Out of the right firearm, it’s actually MORE lethal.

But let’s get to the base question: why do police officers use their firearms against a threat armed with a knife? For much the same reason they will shoot someone carrying a firearm if that person refuses to follow orders. When someone is armed with a deadly weapon, on which I hope we can all agree a knife qualifies, the only logistically-sound way to neutralize that threat is with deadly force. And the best deadly force for neutralizing a threat while still keeping distance from that threat is… a firearm.

How villains use knives in movies is far different from what happens in reality. In reality, a person armed with a knife can close distance and kill or seriously injure a target very quickly. Even in the hands of someone who isn’t all that skilled, a blade weapon can pose a significant threat.

This video is older, but it still shows the reality of how quickly a situation can change when you don’t know the person is armed with a knife. But even if you know they have one and the knife is in plain view, it’s still possible to get surprised and ambushed.

And that is why police officers respond with deadly force.

Police shootings are still very much in the spotlight after several high-profile shootings in recent years. And while it has rightly caused people to question the use of deadly force by police, it has also revealed the ignorance of the general public with these type of circumstances. Since many believe a person armed with a weapon that is not a firearm, or isn’t armed at all, cannot be a deadly threat to a police officer or civilian. And such is evident in the above letter to the editor, and the continual emphasis on “unarmed” with regard to Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin.