Thanks For Asking! -- 11/25/15

This week's AMA thread and the podcast to follow are brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:

The easy-peasy process:

  • Ask me anything (anything!) in the comment thread below this post; and
  • I'll answer you in comments, on this weekend's podcast, or both.

Bada-bing, bada-boom, and so on and so forth.

I Have to Admit, Donald Trump is Making Me Re-Think the Whole "Deportation" Issue

In fact, I'm leaning toward the idea that all Trump supporters should be deported to North Korea where things will be more to their liking.

But I'm also kind of Romneyish on it. I'm cool with "self-deportation."

Why I Love Hostgator, Redux

I'm sure I've mentioned this before -- if not, I certainly should have -- but I love Hostgator. No, that's not an affiliate link. But I do recommend them.

I didn't love them this morning, but that was a temporary thing that was, as always, resolved by their excellent customer service once the matter got to a live person. And that's been the case over and over in the eleven years or so that I've been a customer.

It started with a clearly automated email this morning, right after I put out the day's edition of Rational Review News Digest. An excerpted/redacted digest of the email:

Unfortunately, we have been forced to temporarily restrict access to MySQL for knapp on [nameserver redacted]. Please take a moment to review this email in full as it contains important information and resources to assist you in resolving this issue. ... Why did this happen? Per our terms of service ( a single hosting account may use no more than 25% of the entire server's resources. Accounts are typically not actively restricted until they exceed those resource limitations exceptionally. Unfortunately, in this instance, we were forced to place a temporary restriction on your user to prevent service issues with the server's over-all system performance.

Accompanying the message were some logs, which told the story: One of my sites (RRND, actually) was under attack, with bazillions of MySQL queries coming in, many of them for stuff that didn't actually exist (the small number of valid ones were presumably real visitors). The message didn't include any IP information on where these queries were coming from, and as part of the lockdown, when I went to "raw logs" in my cPanel dashboard there was no information there, either.

So I was under attack, Hostgator had shut me down through automation rather than human examination, and I had no way of just blocking the attackers by IP (assuming there were limited IPs they were coming from -- if it was a botnet, I was screwed on that anyway).

I got real hot under the collar, real quick, not just at the attackers but at Hostgator. Let's just say that I was looking at other web hosts while I waited for my a response to my multiple nastygrams in reply to what became multiple instances of the above.

But then the sun peeked out from behind the clouds ... as soon as a human being at Hostgator got my nastygrams, I got this response:

This does appear to be a directed attack against your site. Unfortunately this was caught by they automated system which is simply unable to make that distinction. I have lifted the restrictions on your site and [redacted -- he did some stuff that I won't reveal because why give the bad guys information that might help them next time?] to prevent these from being a continuous issue ...

That's customer service, folks. Yes, it took a few hours, but then again the whole thing started at oh-dark-thirty and I'm sure there were plenty of other customers with similar things going on. They got to me pretty quickly, and resolved the issue perfectly as soon as they did.

It's also a wake-up call in one respect. I try to run clean sites in terms of not being a resource hog (e.g. W3 Total Cache), but RRND isn't on CloudFlare yet. I tried Cloudflare a few years ago when it was brand new and had some problems. Since then, I've successfully implemented it with a different site, but hadn't gotten round to trying with RRND again. I'll be doing that over the long weekend. Cloudflare will be yet another layer of caching and security to minimize my load on the server and help stop attacks before they really get going.

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, 11/22/15

This episode of The KN@PP Stir Podcast is brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:

In this episode:

In this episode:

  • Thanks For Asking! (What if Hitler ..."; Tom is a Wobbly; Bernie WTF);
  • Garrison Center update (50 pickups this month already, three top-50 US newspaper pickups in the last month!).
Bleg: This episode was recorded using the Spreaker "dashboard." Please let me know in comments how you think it sounds versus other episodes (volume, distortion -- sound quality).

Scott Cleland Says "defend the Internet digital commons from the reach of sovereign authority and ac

It's only Sunday, but there's already a strong contender for Dumbest Thing I'll Read This Week.

Yes, he actually seems to really think ubiquitous strong encryption is a bad and dangerous thing, apparently on the basis of a bizarre and completely evidenceless belief that the purpose and/or effect of "sovereign nations' law-enforcement and intelligence capabilities" is to "investigate and prevent terrorism and crime."

I'm wondering if maybe an April Fool's Day post got put up early by accident or something. Nobody's really that naive, right?

Chrome Extension Recommendation: The Great Suspender

One recurring problem I've experienced with my Chromebook and Chromebox -- and have heard others complain of as well -- is low memory. Not surprising. Most ChromeOS devices come with only 2 gigabytes of RAM (I get a weird feeling any time I use that "only," given that my first computer, a Commodore VIC 20, came with 4.5 KILObytes, and I experienced an embarrassment of riches when I got the 16k expansion card). So of course, what happens when you have a whole bunch of tabs open is that all those tabs consume a bunch of RAM and things slow down.

The Great Suspender addresses this problem quite nicely. When you have tabs open that you haven't actually looked at for awhile, the tabs automatically "suspend" and release your RAM back to you. When you come back to one of those tabs, you can click to reload it. You can set the wait time before suspension manually, and you can "whitelist" domains so that important tabs that you use a lot never suspend.

In the week or so that I've been using The Great Suspender, the slowdown problem has pretty much gone completely away for me. Highly recommended for ChromeOS devices. I expect I'll keep it even when I get around to expanding my Chromebox to its maximum 8 gigabytes of RAM. Assuming (I can't tell for sure) that the extension is also available for the Chrome browser for Windows and Mac, you might want to try it on those platforms as well. I've never known anyone, no matter how powerful his or her machine, who didn't occasionally complain about memory-hogging apps slowing the thing down.

Garrison Center: More Cool Numbers

Tonight's numbers are: 50, 3 and 50 again.


So far in November, I've identified 50 reprints or citations of Garrison Center op-eds in "mainstream" newspapers and non-libertarian political media. Fifty happens to be my baseline goal for the entire month, so it's really nice to hit that goal only 2/3 of the way through the month.

3 and 50 again:

One month ago, on October 21st, my Garrison Center op-ed on Julian Assange ran in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Then on November 5th, the Dallas, Texas Morning News ran my "'Papers, please' demand is un-American."

And this morning, my op-ed on Florida's "campus carry" bill appeared in the Miami, Florida Herald.

What do these three newspapers have in common? Two things:

They've all run a Garrison Center op-ed in the last month.

And they're all among the top 50 daily newspapers in the United States as ranked by circulation.

The Garrison Center is libertarian outreach that works. It deserves your support, and since it's not really an organization as such, the way you support it is by supporting me. Which you can do from over in the sidebar using Patreon, PayPal, Bitcoin or Litecoin.

Concerning Trump

Specifically his "not ruling out" required registration of Muslims in a special government database and noting their religion on their government IDs ...

There's an app for that! It's actually a fictional app, but a stirring story, attributed to King Christian X of Denmark.

It's really simple: If the government of the United States orders all Muslims to register as such and to carry special IDs, we should -- all of us who don't hate America -- put the kibosh on that fascist idiocy by reporting for registration as Muslims whether we are Muslims or not.

Quick Recommendation: I'm Saying no to the Asus Chromebit

Hat tip to David Klaus for calling the new ChromeOS offering to my attention on Facebook ...

The Asus Chromebit is a new take on the "tiny computer on a stick" phenomenon. It plugs into the HDMI port of a monitor or television and runs ChromeOS, just like a Chromebook laptop or Chromebox desktop machine. The retail price runs to ~$85 USD.

I'm still a ChromeOS fanboy, but I don't even need to try the Chromebit to reject it and to explain to you why it's not a good deal.

The Chromebit comes with 2Gb of RAM and 16Gb of flash storage. That's the baseline configuration for most Chromebooks and Chromeboxes, too (you can get models with more RAM or storage, and you can upgrade both, but the minimal model is 2/16). No problem there, really, except that you probably can't upgrade.

But here's the thing: You can get an Asus Chromebox for about $150 or an Asus Chromebook for about $200. Both are superior machines for not much more money.

The Chromebook includes its own display and touchpad. The Chromebook and the Chromebox include multiple USB ports and headphone jacks. The Chromebox comes with two display ports (they vary from machine to machine; my Asus Chromebox has a DVI port and an HDMI port), allowing the user to run two monitors (I started doing that last year and it is nice).

The Chromebit plugs into an HDMI port at one end and has a single USB port at the other end. That USB port isn't something you can use for whatever you want -- it has to be used to power the Chromebit. So no peripherals. You're going to have to use a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard. If you want headphone audio, I guess you'll have to hope your display device has a jack for that.

Why would I pay $85 for a gimpy thing like the Chromebit when I can get a full-blown ChromeOS machine for $150-$200? The only way that would make sense to me is if I wanted to use ChromeOS as a second system and run the Chromebit from my other computer through a remote desktop app or whatever.

But ChromeOS isn't something I'd use as a secondary system. A decent Windows or Mac machine already does everything the Chromebit can do, including running Chrome.

To me, the "secondary system" thing runs the other way:  I've considered getting a "Windows machine on a stick" and accessing it via a remote desktop from my Chromebox to do things that ChromeOS can't do (like play Starcraft).

I guess if I try really hard, I can come up with a reason to run the Chromebit as a secondary system. Maybe I don't want to browse using my PC because I fear malware or whatever, but I really need that Windows machine to run proprietary software for my work or whatever. But that seems like a pretty narrow demand niche to me.

The Chromebit just doesn't make sense to me. If you're looking to get into ChromeOS, I recommend shelling out a little more for Chromebook or Chromebox.