Bad Things Come in Three’s, Right?

In the past week, the following has happened.

  • The media server, Valhalla, was mysteriously infected by Ransomware but no note was found; only encrypted files.
  • The main NAS for my network is reporting hundreds of “File System Errors” but is unable to tell me any more information and all the data is accessible.
  • There was a storage failure (and subsequent automatic recovery) of the VMware server in the middle of the night and that caused four (4) virtual machines to fail; cause of the failure is completely unknown.

I really hate things that break.  Tune in for more as this story develops.

Blocking the Ad-Blocking

The game of cat and mouse continues at full throttle.  Since the beginning, a fact of the Internet has always been advertisements.  That is what makes the Internet (mostly) free for everyone.  Large corporations pay content providers for advertising rights and in return the visitors must watch some (brief) product placement.

Fast forward to a few years ago and the first “ad-blocker” came on the scene with the promise to eradicate all annoying advertisements from the viewer’s screen.  I remember even an Android app that did this for your phone/tablet.  That was pretty sweet when it worked (Google has since removed it).

As usual with things that seem too good to be true, the success was not permanent.  The larger content sites and even the smaller ones can detect ad-blocking services and will refuse to display the content until you disable your browser plugin.  See screenshot example below.


Who knows what is next to come, but I doubt it will be with the viewer’s best interests in mind.  Stay tuned…

Big Phone to Small Phone to Bigger Phone (Part 3)

This post is about the final chapter of my quest for the right smartphone in August of this year.  The purchase has been made and the honeymoon is in full swing.  I have purchased the Google Nexus 6P.

droid_turbo2_iphone5_nexus6pDroid Turbo 2 > iPhone 5 > Nexus 6P

Originally I was going to purchase the new Moto Z Droid Force and start “modding” it with accessories.  However, the pricing for the Moto Z was not attractive.  Gone are the days of the “affordable” (and customizable) Moto X.  The Moto Z Droid Force (64 GB) I wanted was $770 not including accessories.  Unfortunately Best Buy wanted to sell me the 32 GB version for $800.  Yes I wanted to retire my Droid Turbo 2, but this was getting seriously expensive.

I think it was through an advertisement in an e-mail that I was alerted to the special promotional price of $400 for a Google Nexus 6P (64 GB).  I literally stayed up for two hours past my bedtime reading all about the reviews and life with the Nexus 6P.  Originally when the device launched it cost $650 making it not affordable, as well as being manufacturered by Huawei.  I was not excited about giving my money to a foreign company.  However, now that Motorola was owned by Lenovo, I officially decided to “pick my poison”.

After using the device for a few days now, I am very happy with its speed, simplicity, and fingerprint reader.  The camera is very impressive so far as well.  I don’t expect to be impressed after a year of apps and updates slow it all down, but for now I can finally stop worrying about my smartphone.  I am still searching for the right case to protect the (breakable) screen but in the meantime a nice matte Skinomi protects it from fingerprints and body oil.

Thanks for reading my thoughts.

Big Phone to Small Phone to Bigger Phone (Part 2)

This is a continuation of my previous post regarding my smartphone experiences of July and August of this year.

Yes, I said it.  For 1 and a half weeks, I used a fully-functioning Apple iPhone 5.  Sure, I wish it could have been a new iPhone 6S, but for being free I cannot complain.  I have used iPhone’s before and supported the devices for many years in my personal and professional life.  This was the first time I had an extended usage duration with the whole Apple ecosystem.

I am going to confirm what I have been saying for literally years: I respect Apple and what the company has done to the smartphone world, however it is simply not the device for me.

The iPhone is simple, easy to use, (for the most part) reliable and safe, and very close-minded.  Yes I can accomplish most of the same goals I could on Android, but I had to do these tasks a certain way.  It was satisfying to know that my unofficial review of the iPhone device that I have been reporting for years has been confirmed with actual use.  I almost thought to myself it was a poorly-executed and copied BlackBerry ecosystem, but highly successful.  Most people harshly criticize BlackBerry for forcing tasks a certain way, but iPhone is just as guilty.  Meanwhile, simply saying, Android allows for so much more unique configurations and commands.

There is one thing I definitely enjoyed about the iPhone 5 and that was its size.  I could easily operate it with one hand and it was very comfortable to hold, even if it was only glass and metal and had sharp lines all over it.  Sometimes I miss the simplicity and effectiveness of a flip-phone and the iPhone 5 had similar qualities of dimensions that could help ease the transition from a simple device to a smartphone.

Every now and then when I become so frustrated with Android and the fragmentation of the ecosystem, I romanced the idea of abandoning ship and purchasing a new Apple iPhone.  This quick fling with the opposing team has solidified me in Android.  Sure, it may be much more complex and difficult to setup and backup and maintain, but Android simply does more.

Big Phone to Small Phone to Bigger Phone (Part 1)

The past month has definitely been a difficult month for smartphones.  It all started out when I purchased my Motorola Droid Turbo 2 shortly after launch day last year.  The phone was marketed as having a “shatterproof display” and even carried a dedicated 4-year warranty exclusively for the display if you found a way to damage it.  I quickly found out that even though most people have said it’s a marketing gimmick, the screen indeed does not break.  It has been the first phone I have carried without a case and while the phone itself suffered bumps and bruises, the screen was flawless.

Unfortunately while the screen was flawless, the internal parts were not.  After a long honeymoon period, the phone began shutting off randomly, then always when it fell on the ground.  Then more frustratingly it sometimes did not power back on immediately.  This left me in a panic a few times as I was left without communication.  Fortunately I had my ever-reliable BlackBerry to help me through a few sticky situations.

Contacting Motorola (not Verizon), I obtained a replacement new device (Moto-Maker) and vowed to treat this phone with utmost respect and would not let accidental falls happen, no matter how durable the screen is.  Much to my dismay, the phone still shut down and rebooted on its own, and had difficulty starting back up.  The longest it was down was four days (with the battery charged, if you were curious).  Same again, I contacted Motorola and I was sent a new phone.  But here’s the interesting part: For the 1 and a half weeks that my Turbo 2 was inoperable, I used an Apple iPhone 5.

If you want to comment on my Turbo 2 woes and experiences, comment on this post.  For my thoughts about the Apple iPhone, see the next post.

Windows 10 Anniversary Update

A year has come and gone.  Windows 10 is one year old.  To celebrate, Microsoft has ceased the free program and released a comprehensive update that (possibly) adds features to your existing installation.  Just like any update, it involves a multi-gigabyte download followed by a verification followed by at least three restarts.  When you login again, your computer welcomes you (again) and is happy you’re here.

My computer welcomed me with a constant BSOD that was caused by my ASUS motherboard’s USB 3.1 controller.  A Google search found the solution.  Hopefully your update experience will be flawless.  Thanks Microsoft.

Vehicle Maintenance and Service Tracking

It occurred to me that the world needs a PHP/MySQL vehicle maintenance and service tracking script.  There are plenty of geeks that love cars and maybe even have two or three of them.  As any used car owner knows, maintenance and rebuilding is very important.  I just simply want a web front-end open-source script that allows the user to enter details about their car and have a ticket-based system to track things that need to be fixed on their automobiles.  Do you agree?

We Are Now Secure!

Thanks to a fantastic new effort called Let’s Encrypt, this website is now utilizing SSL encryption.  Since there is not an official client for Windows, I used a Github project called letsencrypt-win-simple.  It was super-easy to run and within a matter of seconds, the certificate was installed and bindings updated.  It was stupid simple!  Let’s Encrypt’s goal is to get the Internet encrypted.  There are many benefits of this endeavor.  I’ll be working to encrypt the remainder of my websites soon.