The New Holocaust

Jan - 22 2017 | no comments | By

Guest post by Hallie Dolin
__________________________

Let me tell you a story. It’s violent and it’s not pretty, but it needs to be told.

My paternal grandmother’s mother was from a family called Sereichik, named after their hometown of Sereija in what is now Lithuania. My dad has a sheaf of documents, full of my grandmother’s meticulous research, attesting to the fact that the town was a center of learning. Sereija boasted one of the best yeshivas (Jewish schools for children, almost always boys) in the area. In fact, my great-grandmother earned her passage to America by writing letters for illiterate people, for which she was paid.

Somewhere around forty years after she left, my great-grandmother’s mother Pesse Baile Sereichik, her two daughters who hadn’t managed to get out of the country, and their husbands and children were rounded up over the course of two days in September 1941. They were taken to the edge of town and, by the testimony of surviving townsfolk, were forced to dig their own graves. They were then lined up at the edge of the pits they had dug and shot so that they fell in. Murder and burial in one convenient step.

This is the family of ONE great-grandparent accounted for – an EIGHTH of my ancestry. Every single one of my ancestors, even my maternal grandmother’s American-born parents and her immigrant grandparents, had family back on the continent they were forced into by the Romans and ghettoized within (which is why I go freaking ballistic if you call me white, by the way). They lived in the Ukraine. Poland. Lithuania. Romania. Russia. A scant train car’s ride away from Stutthof, Kaiserwald, Koldichevo, the six extermination camps of Poland. One in six Jews killed in the Holocaust was killed at Auschwitz, and it’s likely that at least some of my family went there.

I’m telling you this story because the people who shot them were not Nazis. The SS didn’t dirty their hands with backwater towns like Sereija. No, my family’s murderers were their own neighbors. Lithuania was one of the bloodiest countries in terms of Jews murdered by their own countrymen. In fact, about ninety-three percent of Lithuania’s 210,000 Jews were killed. Much of this predated the gas chambers. Imagine the sheer hatred, the sociopathy in the upper echelons that goaded these people to foaming rage and let them shoot hundreds of thousands of their own neighbors between the eyes because of their ANCESTRY. Thousands of mass executions in God knows how many unmarked graves.

That is what I’ve seen in these two days of The Orange One taking office, and in the months preceding it. The short story I wrote back in 2008 that explored my fear of what might happen if MCCAIN won doesn’t seem so far-fetched now. The religious right wants much of the country dead. So does any Angry Calvinist businessman who thinks that people who don’t or can’t conform to a fairly recent model of productivity deserve death by no help at all.

Make no mistake, I am not talking just about Black people, Muslim people, immigrants of all stripes, or same-sex-attracted people like my fiancee and me. I’m talking about Jews. I’m talking about being scared as hell that we’re next.

Nearly every pro-Trump gathering that I’ve seen involves that same rage at Jewish people. There is an armed march being planned, specifically against the Jewish people of Whitefish, Montana. Armed march. Does the term “Kristallnacht” ring a bell?

I’m telling you this because we will be among the first to go. Maybe not by Trump and his cronies, who will turn their heads and focus on people who are “less desirable” than us horrible lizard people (yes, I know all the euphemisms that Nazis use). No, Bannon is going to quietly smile as thousands of our neighbors turn against us and reawaken centuries-old racial and ethnic prejudice – yes, I said racial against US, no matter how well some of us pass – to do what they’ve been longing to do for years.

Look me in the eyes, if you know me. Look at my photo, if you don’t. Somewhere in this country is a human being with the fortitude to face me head-on and put a bullet through my brain. I’d even wager that there is more than one.

Help me. Help others like me. FIGHT HIM.

Fifty Shades of White

Jan - 09 2017 | no comments | By

A Short Tale of Betrayal

I have built a reputation for honest work and trustworthiness. People rely on me to help them recover their passwords, rescue locked email accounts, salvage their lost files, clean up and speed up their computers. Last Friday, I was fired from a job I held for nearly ten years. Seems that my computer skills are no longer needed, and that’s all I was good for. (I have some other thoughts….)

I wanted to clear the office computer of files and software that no one else would know what to do with. I was not allowed to finish the job. This made the computer very unhappy, I am told. I do not feel that this was my fault; my intentions were only to remove things that might be confusing. Had I been allowed to do it completely and systematically, there would have been no trouble. Paranoia born of ignorance can cause more problems than it could possibly prevent.

One thing I left behind was my personal web browser — chock full of cookies! Because of this, I have been forced to change passwords for a forum I visit frequently, Facebluk, Gmail, and anything else I might have checked into. Yes, I should have known better than to stay logged in, lol.

It is well known that firing the hacker can have unpleasant consequences. However, I had no intentions of taking any vengeful action. If the princess who took over management last year thinks otherwise, she is dead wrong. The funniest thing is, her IT pet still hasn’t changed some passwords. [eyeroll] I logged into wordpress as another user and removed my personal login, because I like tidying things up.

I removed myself as admin of their Facebook page (which of course I had created, along with a Twitter account and other good things that I am now locked out of). I also created a new FB page for the organization that previously owned my workplace, because I still help them out.

Life goes on; I made many friends in that job, and they are still my friends. They will still trust me with their computers. As for the princess, I wouldn’t trust her as far as I can throw “Leviathan,” my favorite computer. That’s not far at all, the damn thing is heavy.

Menonymous

Oct - 28 2016 | no comments | By

Cheapest quick last-minute Halloween costume evah.

selfie in mirror

anonymirror

Full Metal Petal

Sep - 10 2016 | no comments | By

Origami Lotus Flower with slight modification
silver lotus

A bit of background first. Twenty-odd years ago I was heavily into origami. Because my health was poor (as a result of poverty) and my low-paying job was exhausting, I needed something to do while mostly doing nothing. Origami was my key to couch occupation.

Since then I’ve forgotten a lot, including some original models that I didn’t bother to diagram. But it’s coming back with a bang. Now that I can afford to buy pre-cut paper, and can order online, I have material to fuel my passion to new heights. So far I haven’t accomplished any noteworthy feats, but my reclaimed skill increases with every fold. And I am diagramming anything that I give a personal twist to. This is about one of those little modifications.

In order to fold a Lotus Flower from three-inch paper, I simplified the method a bit. Skipping one round of corner fold-ins allows me to produce a respectable lotus without straining my not-so-young eyes and fingers.

Here is my diagram, created with Inkscape:
lotus_simplified.pdf

3261c

3263c

3265c

3268c

One thing I found difficult at first was pulling out the main petals. This Youtube video helped me:

Now I often do this step with my eyes closed, the better to feel the movement of the paper. It almost never tears when I don’t watch.

small lotus flowers

More small lotus flowers

Youtube didn’t exist when I first leaned origami; I had nothing but diagrams in books. However I do find videos helpful and recommend them to all beginners.

Happeh Geekness

Jun - 08 2016 | no comments | By

Not getting too much done on this site, but I set up another for a friend last weekend. Used WordPress, with a theme called Universal. It’s a beautifully tweakable theme that is friendly to all devices. I tested it on a phone just to see how it went.

He’s pegging away at adding content now. Check out the Well Laid Stone (and don’t be surprised if stuff is changing!).

Brickwork 2010

The phoenix rises

May - 03 2016 | no comments | By

My previous web hosting lacked security, and gradually my site became a party zone for script kiddies. Not only littered with unwelcome files, it was impossible to clean up because file permissions had become unchangeable. Support ticket? Forget it.

So, last night I grabbed some recent logfiles and torched the whole thing. Well, scorched it, anyway. Now hosted by A Small Orange, the site can regenerate. It won’t be the same, so if anyone has bookmarked specific pages, those bookmarks will never work again. Heh, sorry, but site happens. The old material will be restored after cleaning, which will take some time.

Slow Computers

Feb - 27 2016 | no comments | By

Why Your Computer Is Slow–The Real Reasons

PC_tower-melting(A Slightly Tongue-in-Cheek Look at the Fine Art of Maintenance)

1. It was made that way. You wanted cheap, you got cheap. Manufacturers like to sell quantity, not quality, because they can turn over more stock faster. Walmart employees are paid to sell you stuff, not to know a lot. You looked at the price, not the bones and muscle, and you were impressed by the fat — that is, bundled snareware that you thought came along free, and other useless software.

2. It’s burdened with Windows, a notorious resource-hog. Since your cheap box has a puny processor and the barest minimum RAM to run Windows, it naturally horks up if you ask it to chew gum at the same time. It would probably be much happier running Linux.

3. Too much junk is running at startup. Not only all the normal default Windows bloat, but that lovely Norton or McAfee that came with, the other pre-installed junk you don’t use, and the 369 odds and ends that you let your printer (or other peripheral device) disk load on. A new video or sound card can be another great source of bloat. All you need is the drivers, Buddy; the rest of the load is 99% garbage.

4. You never think about maintenance until the poor thing can barely crawl. You’re always in such a hurry that you don’t even shut it down, you hibernate so that it comes back up faster. Then the humonguous hibernation file starts rotting and everything goes to hell. Temporary files? I bet you have 3GB and some of them are starting to smell.

5. On top of all that, you let installers/updaters do what they want. You hunt for popular stuff and download music and movies with Internet Explorer. Then you start trying out every computer tune-up program that comes into sight because your poor computer keeps getting slower because you (go back to the beginning of this paragraph, rinse and repeat).

I have a pet paranoid theory that malware programmers pay computer manufacturers to hobble their products, in order to encourage downloads of rogue cleaners etc.. Go ahead, laugh.

What Can You Do?

1. First, check whether your problem is slow computer or slow internet!
http://computerlearnhow.com/how-to-tell-if-you-have-a-slow-computer-or-slow-internet/

2. Maintenance! Clean regularly. CCleaner (get the “portable” version that you just unZip and run) is a very safe cleaner. Nuke the temp files othen. Clean the Registry once in a while; it’s not a big deal unless you do a lot of installing/uninstalling. Don’t defrag frequently, and when you do, clean first!

3. Get rid of pre-installed junk that you don’t use. Especially if it runs at startup and is always updating itself. Protect your computer with a HOSTS file. Use an ad-blocking browser extension. Do NOT use Internet Explorer. It is the #1 vulnerability of Windows. Firefox has better add-ons anyway.

4. Learn how to find safe downloads, and how to take care of your computer. Use DuckDuckGo instead of Google — you will not be tracked and shown “sponsored” links (ads) related to your searches. Even Google is often better than Yahoo or Bing. A search engine that runs on payola will give you what it’s paid to show first.

5. Don’t be a Software Cat Lady. Don’t run around picking up every new toy whether you need it or not. Research, find out what you really need, what works, what to watch out for. Find out what you can do with what you already have. Don’t just grab at anything that offers to do it all for you with no effort, no learning curve. There ain’t no such thing.

5A. You don’t need screensavers. You don’t need special smilies for your email. You don’t need Facebook games. Nobody needs toolbars or weather spy-bugs or shopping “helpers.” Grow the eff up.

6. Advertising is EVIL! NEVER use any computer speed-up or registry cleaning software that you see advertised anywhere. NEVER click on web-page pop-ups that tell you that your computer needs blah-blah, or is in danger of so-and-so. DO NOT DOWNLOAD from CNET, Tucows, Softpedia, FileHippo, or just about any major big-name download site if you can help it. They all bundle crapware. Sometimes you can find a small text link for a clean download, if you look hard enough. Most often, you will download a downloader which will then try to download a load of garbage and toolbars before it gets you the program you wanted.

If you end up with a crap-bundle-pack, Watch Closely! Quite often they use scary “Cancel” buttons that make you think clicking them will cancel the whole install. So what if it did. Do whatever you have to do to keep the crapware from installing. If it gets away, use JRT (Junkware Removal Tool) and/or Geek Uninstaller  (free version works fine) to get rid of the pests. You might need Malwayrebytes too. Do not let Malwarebytes get away with the premium trial trick, however (yeah, it never ends).

7. There are safe sources. There is good freeware. Most software authors’ sites are fine; just make sure that’s where you really are. LOOK at those search results closely. Some, alas, only redirect to CNET.  MajorGeeks, while not entirely bundleware-free, is at least still HONEST. Read everything before you click. FreewareGuide doesn’t have direct downloads, but tries hard to provide clean links; very few bad ones slip by. Ad-blocking will help anywhere, eliminating dangerous Big Green Download Buttons and flashing click-mes.

As for music and movies, legal downloads are safest but good ad-blocking in a decent browser will take you far…. At least you won’t get hit from so many “drive-bys” if you don’t use IE. Maybe you don’t need to collect so much anyway. Yanno?

8. Befriend honest geeks. Beware friends who think they know it all. And stay away from BestBuy and their often worse-than-useless Geek Squad.

9. Don’t let friends and family use YOUR computer! Especially if, like most lazy users, you run as Administrator. Even if you are careful, they may have sloppy habits, dangerous preferences, and an insatiable need for instant gratification of every desire.

10. Pay for what you use every day. One of the best ways to reward those who devote their time creating wonderful free software is to help them with a donation. It doesn’t have to be a lot — what you can, when you can. If everyone chipped in just a little, there would be less need for ad-blocking. Stay away from Starfucks a while and buy the other guy a coffee.

11. Install Linux. Your computer will breathe a huge sigh of relief. Ubuntu and Mint are extremely easy to use. Forget all you’ve heard about having to use esoteric commands; it’s all menus and eye-cons these days. And it’s all free! You won’t need to search out in the jungle for extras; you can get almost anything you want through your operating system’s own software channels. If you do need some Windows software, you will probably be able to install and run it with little more effort than in Windows.

Besides, then you can have a lol on the scummy scam callers who claim to be from Microsoft and tell you that your computer is “generating a lot of suspicious activity” or has been reported to be infected blah blah. Before I hang up in disgust, I tell’m, “I’m a hacker, I run Linux!” Doesn’t do much good for the machine calls, but the live ones — often rather amateurish — can be embarrassed.

CENSORED

Jul - 23 2015 | no comments | By

I followed this link from Twitter, enjoyed it immensely, retweeted it, and tried to post it on Facefuck. I was prevented from doing so. FINE! I will share it even more. If you think it is offensive, don’t share it.

3 Dads

I’ve encountered Facecrap’s nannying before, and I will never condone it. Why stop people from posting good things, but allow bullying and bullshit?

Wow I’m So Cool

May - 17 2015 | no comments | By

Yep, changed my site password and forgot to tell WordPress.

Office Clipboard

Apr - 29 2015 | no comments | By

For years I suffered from stuck clipboard in MS Office 2010, especially when setting up newsletters in Publisher. I finally got off my butt and found out what the problem was.

^#&$@#&%$ Office has its own &%^$^$$ clipboard. Sometimes, when you’ve been doing a lot of copy/paste within the working file, it sticks on the last copied item and won’t paste an item copied from another source.

The solution is to clear the Office clipboard — but they hid it so well that it might as well be an “Easter egg”. I always put my favorite commands, at least those that I don’t know a keyboard command for, on the Quick Access Toolbar. Today, I decided to see if I could do that with the well-hidden clipboard. It was so easy, I’m embarrassed.

Hers’s the skinny for those of you who are ribbon-challenged:

First…

Ribbon - Home

Ribbon – Home

Then, find the damned clipboard, and right-click on the nearly invisible corner-arrow-thingy

Find Clipboard

Find Clipboard

Do it!

Right-click menu

Right-click menu

And there it is

Quick Access button!

Quick Access button!

Click your new button to make the clipboard appear and disappear. Click “Clear all” for instant relief of Clipboard Constipation.

Clipboard

Clipboard

These screenshots are from MS Word, but the menu is the same for Publisher or Excel. I’m hoping it’s the same in Office 2013.

There is a keyboard shortcut, but it’s relatively complex. Much as I like using the keyboard, even I find the mouse version of this trick faster.

I’m still flinging out the not-so-rhetorical question: Why the HELL didn’t they make it more obvious in the first place? Why have something that is supposedly useful so well hidden, and with no option to turn the whole bloody thing off, when it can be such a butt-pain?

Quick-n-dirty screenshot series by IrfanView

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