quirky things you can learn from having a blog

Yes, this is self indulgent, but I’m doing it anyway.  Why? Because this is kind of interesting to me… and maybe I’ll take a similar look in another few years and see if any of it changes.


Well, not sure these really count as things I’ve learned from having a blog.  More like some things I can wonder about, some things I can guess at, and some things that are obvious.

  1. it appears a lot of people are still using OS X Mountain Lion.  And that a lot of people are still having problems with it’s DNS Cache.
    • suggestion:  try a system update folks.  at least get the security updates, there are recent ones available from 2015.
  2. folks from the Bahamas, Jamaica, and the Cayman Islands don’t spend a lot of time reading obscure blogs.
    • I’m going to assume they’ve found better things to do.
    • If I were there, I would have joined them rather then write this.  🙂
  3. folks from Russia are not real big on Apple products.
    • not really a surprise, given Moscow’s approach to most foreign corporations.
  4. my blog consistently gets two to three times the traffic from Germany (population 80 million) than from India (population 1.2 billion).  In fact…
    • German traffic has been one of my top five country sources since starting this blog.
    • and, German traffic has been higher than almost all other “non english speaking” country sources combined.  I know Germany has very high english literacy, but the stats are still interesting.
  5. some posts about managing Apple IDs have actually seen traffic double over the same time the rest of my traffic has dropped off.
    • although aging, those posts are accounting for a very significant portion of my traffic, and the stats keep increasing.
    • in addition to views/visits, I’m getting a lot of search hits and click throughs on those posts.
    • feels like a lot of people are getting frustrated with Apple’s haphazard way of managing IDs across Apple services, stores, devices, and applications.
    • wonder how much traction I’d get if I did an updated series including descriptions/guides to how all of the wacky two-factor-authentication variations currently work.  Actually, I don’t think I could… unless I enlist some additional people.  Some (er, many) of the Apple ID Authentication scenarios vary based on hardware and iOS version, and cannot be recreated in the Xcode simulator.
  6. Big surprise ( /sarcasm ), Google really dominates search.
  7. Web Crawlers generate so much comment spam that I thought they would account for a lot of views/visits… but not so much… actually a minuscule amount of traffic.
  8. Apparently VMware and Excel spreadsheets are both quite popular.  Fortunately, VMware related traffic edged out the Excel related traffic.  LOL.
    • Unfortunately, Excel edged out serious security topics.
  9. Wow, if I’d enabled Apple App Store bounty links (kinda like Amazon referral links), I could have reaped, hmm… carry the three… I could have reaped about $0.03 in referral bounties this summer.  LOL.
  10. Cross posting (WordPress Sharing) to Twitter yields dramatically more blog views than Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.
    • Twitter yielded more than the other three combined.
    • That one surprised me a bit; but then I’ve never really gotten into the twitter client usage.  I usually bail out and go back to information sources which use sentences and paragraphs. ( /snark )
  11. Overall, most of my posts are literally just notes on how I performed some specific technical task.  Occasionally I take notes (which don’t contain any customer proprietary information) and post them in case I might need to refer back to that sequence again six or eighteen months later.
    • those HowTo / InstallConfig notes account for more than 95% of my views and visits.
    • I’ll pretend everyone found those notes really helpful.
  12. A couple of my posts with the best traffic were closer to being long form articles.  Despite being very heavy in dry technical topics, the traffic and comments were quite positive.
  13. Fortunately, on my blog at least, a mention of laser beams beat out a mention of YouTube.  There is hope for humanity after all.  LOL.

Well, that was interesting review.  I’ve accumulated hundreds of notes on various design, development, testing,  installation, configuration, and maintenance issues.  It appears that it would be worthwhile to sort thru and find a few dozen relevant items for posting.  queue things to do on the eleventh snow day.

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T-Mobile Binge On free video streaming? How about free system, security, and app updates?

Free video?  I’ll be impressed when a carrier enables free system, security, and application updates for all devices connecting to their network.


Ok.  I get why people are going to think the T-Mobile “free” Binge On video streaming is great.

But, do you know what would be really good for users?

Free OS and App updates over mobile data plans.  Yes.  Really.

Show me a carrier with a data plan that doesn’t burn your quota against downloads and updates from the app stores out there.  A good beginning would include the mobile app stores from Google, Apple, Motorola, Samsung, Microsoft, Blackberry.  When fully deployed, this should extend to any and all devices connected to a mobile hotspot.

The top carriers already have the kind of infrastructure needed to build this.  It would be easy compared to T-Mobile’s streaming video solution.  By combining “CDN” infrastructure with “QoS/MPLS” traffic management features, carriers could allow app stores to deliver device updates in the background at a lower priority than other data streams. Carriers and app store operators would both be able to shift most of the update traffic to non-peak network times, thereby avoiding the need for additional network capacity (at least in most areas outside of LA and NY).

The carriers stand to gain enormously from the increasingly number of connected devices entering the market.  And if the “Internet of Things” (IoT) is to really get off the ground with even a mediocre chance of remaining secure and reliable, then carrier provisions for free OS and security updates should be considered a core requirement.

As for our typical cell phone and tablet usages… here’s a common situation, and an alternative.

scenario one (the status quo):

CUSTOMER:  my phone doesn’t work right, it’s acting weird.

CARRIER REP:  have you updated it?

CUSTOMER:  uhm, how?

CARRIER REP:  uhm, ?  (mutters a lot of gibberish)

scenario two (carrier’s mobile data allows free updates): 

CUSTOMER:  my phone doesn’t work right, it’s acting weird.

CARRIER REP:  have you updated it?

CUSTOMER:  uhm, how?

CARRIER REP:  Uhm, turn it on, and let it connect to the network, and click ok when it offers to update your software.


Given that many people and organizations have strong concerns about the security and reliability of the networks they allow their devices to connect with… the carrier who implements a strong solution for system updates, security updates, and app updates is going have a substantial advantage over those who continue to pretend they have no customer facing responsibilities for this issue.

Apple App Store problems – expired app certificates are causing installed purchases to break.

As described by AppleInsider today (2015 November 12), the Apple App Store is creating problems for users due to expired app certificates.

I unknowingly encountered this yesterday (2015 November 11).  While opening Bento, I was prompted to authenticate with the App Store with a message that “this app was purchased on a different computer.”

Today, I’ve received the “this app is broken or damaged” message when trying to open BBEdit, Coda, and Sketchbook Pro.

Although the error messages were different, each of these apps have one thing in common.  They are older apps which are no longer available for purchase on the app.  Yes, I can “re-download” them from my purchases history… but this does increase my concern about how Apple treats past purchases of apps which are no longer sold or updated by their developers.

An additional annoyance… I’m currently traveling, so re-downloading these apps requires tethering the macbook to a wireless hotspot or phone and consuming a data service which is currently costing $10/GB.

This is not the first time Apple users have experienced problems due to app certificate expirations.  Until Apple solves this problem, this issue should raise concerns for anyone needing long term reliability from their software purchases.  What happens to users and businesses when the next batch of affected apps include password keepers, electronic healthcare apps, or the app which unlocks your home security system?

Post EMP refrigeration

A high profile security consultant recently wrote a book (fiction) that was set in a post-apocalyptic situation which occurred after an EMP burst obliviated modern electrical systems.  The premise plays pretty loose with the laws of physics, but people seem to like these kind of stories.

If you’ve been wondering how modern life could continue if electricity systems were interrupted, here are a few ideas for keeping your cool.  Don’t blame me if worried neighbor sprays you with a fire extinguisher.

Refrigeration without electrically driven compressors is trivial.

Below is a primer on using chemicals.  Time Magazine had an article in 2005 about a guy in Hawaii that made ice by channeling wind thru a pipe to induce heat transfer (idea known as Ranque-Hilsch vortex tube).  Or you could rig your exercise bike to the compressor motor’s shaft.

You can find more ideas by googling “ice without electricity”.  Or ya could just buy a $49.99 surge protector.
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Ammonium chloride.    (NH4)(Cl)
Ammonium nitrate.      (NH4)(NO3)

Mix either one with water to create an endothermic reaction and freeze things.

The (NH4)(Cl) can be bought n stored; or you can make it with household ammonia and hydrochloric acid.  The  (NH4)(NO3) is common fertilizer.  Most gardeners already have this sort of stuff on hand.

Before trying this at home I’d watch some MacGyver reruns and find a chemistry student  or H.S. Chem Teacher to advise on mix ratios and containers and demonstrate.

An observation about status report templates

Seems every project involves someone’s preference for a collection of document templates.  After about 120 projects for 80 different clients, I’ve had the opportunity to reuse templates exactly… never.  Not even once.  The people who create templates can’t resist the urge to revise them, and the people who collect templates can’t resist the temptation of new ones.

After experiencing many such status templates, I’d happily resume using SMEAC, BAMCIS, and Five Paragraph Orders, but most civilians doesn’t know what any of those are.

Can you imagine how efficient business would actually be if everyone in this country spent a year in a public service corps… 3 months training, 9 months service… organized by mostly retired Marines.  Ok, maybe not efficient, but everything would be painted 🙂

Anywho… back to reality.

Boot lacing “2-1-3”

Keep the boot snugly laced.  It’s important that the boot be laced tightly over the instep and around the ankle, which allows the leather behind the anklebones to seat properly.  Snug is good, snugger is better.To prevent the infamous “bite” on top of your instep, lace your boots in the 2-1-3 method as shown in the photo.