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Posts Tagged Rants

Encrypted Email: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

So this arrived from an email address similar to, yet not quite the same as, the URL of a physician’s office where I had an appointment a few days hence:

Encrypted Email Message
Encrypted Email Message

My email client is set to prefer plain text, disallow remote content, and not open attachments, so that’s as far as it got. Donning asbestos work gloves and face mask, I pried open the message and its attached HTML file with the appropriate tools and found, as expected, scripts doing who-know-what.

Called the office and, also as expected, was told my appointment time had been changed.

Showed up, mentioned it to the doctor, and was told the office must check off many boxes to demonstrate its HIPAA compliance.

Bottom line: HIPAA now requires patients (a.k.a., us) to open random attachments from random senders, all in the name of privacy.

Banks do that, too.

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Firefox + uBlock Origin vs. CNN Autoplay Videos

Set up these filters in uBlock Origin, per some hints:

||registry.api.cnn.io/assets/fave/theoplayer$domain=cnn.com
cnn.com###large-media

All those annoying CNN auto-play videos will vanish, along with any videos you might have wanted. For me, it’s a reasonable tradeoff, as most (useful) videos will be available on Youtube or elsewhere.

The built-in browser controls you might think of activating, as I have, don’t work on CNN videos, because CNN uses theoplayer, a “universal” Javascript-based player. It’s not Flash, it’s not HTML5, it’s not a specific video thing, it’s a way to work around all those blocking mechanisms.

Mostly, I don’t get news from CNN, but occasionally a link will lead there, a video appears, and instantly gets muted.

Burn them. Burn them all.

Update: Some sites run auto-play videos through JW Player, which you kill thusly:

||jwcdn.com
||content.jwplatform.com

That blocks the source of the player, which seems to not depend on the site using it. So far, so good.

2 Comments

Dutchess Rail Trail: Maloney Rd Trailhead Ruts

It seems the DCW&WA SUV makes regular trips through the “No Motor Vehicles” bike access:

Maloney Rd Trailhead - 2018-11-07

Maloney Rd Trailhead – 2018-11-07

If it’s not them, then it’s somebody following their example.

Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should … but, of course, the ordinary rules apply only to little people, not public servants.

Someone in the bike advocacy apparat once told me I’m the most cynical, bitter person they’d ever met, at least on the subject of getting along with public servants. As I see it, I came by my attitude honestly.

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1 Comment

Congratulations!!

This just in (clicky for more dots, but not clearer dots):

Spam image - xxx

Spam image – xxx

Yes, the attachment was named xxx.jpg, presumably so I wouldn’t suspect it of containing anything untoward.

The name-dropping definitely adds verisimilitude: not just Microsoft (or Micro Soft) Windows and Google, but Yahoo, too. Be still, my heart!

It’s unclear how I would contact their “fiduciary agent in LIMA PERU” by dialing a 909 area code in California or sending an email to, um, eaaj@europe.com, but, hey, why not? Perhaps another version of me in a parallel universe used the Peruvian Internet?

This must be one of those scams where, if you’re bright enough to notice the problems, they won’t need to waste any time on you.

You’re welcome to my identification numbers. When you get the check, slip me maybe 100 large, preferably under the table, and we’ll call it square.

Sheesh

4 Comments

Amazon Unit Price Anomalies

Backstory: we get Kirkland almond butter from Amazon, because it has consistently good quality at a reasonable price. Kirkland being the Costco house brand, we’re obviously buying it from someone arbitraging the Costco price. The nearest Costco is over an hour away, so spending $60 for a membership (*) just to get almond butter doesn’t make sense.

However, I’ve discovered Amazon’s “buy it again” prompting generally doesn’t offer the best deal, so I start each purchase cycle with a general search. The current results proved interesting (clicky for more dots):

Amazon - unit pricing FAIL

Amazon – unit pricing FAIL

Let’s go through this slowly.

The first result shows the “unit pricing” isn’t done automatically, because it’s completely wrong:

Amazon - unit pricing puzzle

Amazon – unit pricing puzzle

I can figure half of $27.52 isn’t $9.17, but dividing $27.52 by three really is. Dividing by two, the actual size, says the correct “unit price” is $13.76 each. Oddly, searching a day later showed the price went up to $28.69, with the same incorrect divide-by-three unit pricing error.

The “Amazon’s Choice” result simply means a bunch of people bought from that listing, not that Amazon has an actual involvement apart from raking in their take. There’s no unit pricing, but each jar works out to $13.59.

The last result confirms Amazon’s unit pricing bogosity by (correctly!) dividing $26.23 by two, but then claiming the unit price is “per ounce”.

Weirdly, everybody selling the two-pack prices it that way:

Amazon - unit pricing consistent FAIL

Amazon – unit pricing consistent FAIL

We’re surely not looking at half a dozen heads of the same hydra, so this bogosity derives from the commingled UPC (ASIN, whatever) warehouse stock technique giving Amazon a way to avoid responsibility for counterfeits. Somebody (presumably at Amazon) selected the calculation to produce the unit price, but fat-fingered “per ounce” rather than “per each”, and now vendors just bid for that UPC without sweating the details.

You’d (well, I’d) think a bit of Amazon’s much-vaunted machine learning would go a long way toward sorting this out, but it doesn’t.

Word: any sufficiently advanced stupidity is indistinguishable from malice.

(*) Right now, it’s $8.79 direct from Costco online and their 5% non-member surcharge seems survivable.

4 Comments

Maximum Strength Homeopathic HGH: Not

Spotted at an exhibition for Olde Fartes:

Somaderm homeopathic HGH

Somaderm homeopathic HGH

I think they just blew up the bottle label to human size, with no attention to the resulting pixelation.

One can find Somaderm on the Interwebs, which leads to the “Active Ingredients” list:

Somaderm homeopathic HGH - Active Ingredients

Somaderm homeopathic HGH – Active Ingredients

Looking up their NDC number helps translate the bullshit Latinesque nomenclature:

  • Glandula Suprarenalis Suis = boar adrenal glands
  • Thyroidinum = cow thyroid glands
  • Somatropin = human growth hormone

They’re exceedingly proud of that NDC number, touting “SOMADERM Gel is the only transdermal, FDA registered product”. Indeed, it’s registered, about which the FDC has this to say:

Assigned NDC numbers are not in any way an indication of FDA approval of the product.

and

Marketing Category UNAPPROVED HOMEOPATHIC

With that in mind, consider the dilutions:

  • Glandula Suprarenalis Suis = 1 part per million
  • Thyroidinum = 10 part per billion
  • Somatropin = 1×10-30 = there are no words

Homeopathic “drugs” never list the starting concentration or amounts in the product, but diluting something by a factor of ten-to-the-thirty ensures not one single molecule of the original compound will make it into the bottle. This, of course, means the HGH is at “maximum strength”, in the homeopathic way of magical thinking.

You’ll surely find some molecules of pig brain and maybe even a few molecules of cow glands, but I suspect they’re not buying the “active” ingredients in shipping container lots. In round numbers, one pig adrenal, one cow thyroid, and one drop of actual HGH would supply their needs well into the future.

I would like to see how they dilute those ingredients, because I doubt they have legions of trained homeopaths succussing bottles against elastic surfaces.

Of course, such dilution requires careful attention to detail, lest a stray molecule make its way into the final product, which surely justifies the punch line:

Somaderm homeopathic HGH - Price

Somaderm homeopathic HGH – Price

There is also a $150 “Membership Price”, suggesting a multi-level marketing scam running in parallel. Some rummaging on their website reveals cryptic phrases confirming the suspicion: “Be the change that will inspire others to follow” and “Information on how to become a distributor“.

Ya gotta admire ’em for not even blinking.

A note on commenting: there is zero evidence of efficacy¸ so don’t even try to advocate homeopathy. If it worked, it’d be medicine, not a MLM scam.

13 Comments

Dutchess Rail Trail: Maloney Rd Trailhead vs. SUV

The driver gave us plenty of room, which is always nice:

Tire tracks at Maloney Trailhead - DCWWA SUV on Maloney 2018-08-20

Tire tracks at Maloney Trailhead – DCWWA SUV on Maloney 2018-08-20

But then the SUV turned into the Maloney Rd entrance to the Dutchess Rail Trail:

Tire tracks at Maloney Trailhead - DCWWA SUV entering - 2018-08-20

Tire tracks at Maloney Trailhead – DCWWA SUV entering – 2018-08-20

Which was specifically designed to exclude motor vehicles:

Tire tracks at Maloney Trailhead - DCWWA SUV tracks - 2018-08-20

Tire tracks at Maloney Trailhead – DCWWA SUV tracks – 2018-08-20

Later, I was told it’s an “allowable access” for Water Authority vehicles and, in any event, because their SUV didn’t leave the biggest ruts and tracks, they think it’s all good:

Tire tracks at Maloney Trailhead - 2018-08-20

Tire tracks at Maloney Trailhead – 2018-08-20

The ramp joins the trail at an acute angle, so the SUV required some backing & filling to get around:

Tire tracks at Maloney Trailhead - Tight Turn onto DCRT - 2018-08-20

Tire tracks at Maloney Trailhead – Tight Turn onto DCRT – 2018-08-20

Then it’s an easy drive to the water meter about 2500 feet down the trail:

Tire tracks at Maloney Trailhead - Dutchess Water Authority SUV - 2018-08-20

Tire tracks at Maloney Trailhead – Dutchess Water Authority SUV – 2018-08-20

There’s an Official Vehicle Access gate one mile south of the Maloney ramp that’s about 3800 feet from the water meter. I’m told they use the Maloney ramp to reduce the distance they drive on the rail trail; evidently, destroying the entrance Just Doesn’t Matter.

I’m trying to develop an attitude between Zen and apathy, with just enough indifference to not care when somebody tells me how wonderful things will be in the future.

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7 Comments