Hoard of Stray Thoughts
Another heart to heart with a spambot

Got an instant messenger spammer on Skype for the first time; I’d usually only find them on AIM and Yahoo. Name was ‘purple_evasion’; I thought it might have something to do with my IM client (Pidgin/libpurple), but then realized that I wouldn’t have run Skype through libpurple… maybe it’s finally supported now? Anyways, that’s besides the point.

These bots have some interesting paths of logic, usually culminating in providing a redirect link to track ‘victims’ that click through and subsequently redirect them to shady ‘watch me on video’ type sites. They usually get ‘offended’ whenever keywords like ‘bot’ or ‘spam’ are used, wait between 15 and 45 seconds before replying, and are scripted to ask questions and provide realistic (and/or ‘tempting’), ‘catch all’ -type answers.

This one was different from others I’ve seen, though: it provided a surprisingly sassy response to its ‘I’m not a spambot’ filters. I’m sure it’s quite effective compared to the older tactics I’ve seen. Impressive, whoever wrote this one.

image


Nevertheless, ‘purple_evasion’ promptly fell for a trap I devised a few years ago; I’ve found that asking for the ‘link’ ‘again’ will cause most bots (at least all that I’ve tried it on) to completely jump script and ever so helpfully provide the URL they were programmed to spam. Frequently, asking for the ‘link’ several times will provide different permutations of the redirect URL, a new one for each and every ‘request’.

In the past, I think I’ve killed a few with SQL injection attacks, but that became mostly ineffective years ago.

Every time I see her, the world just fades from view.
But I learned today that she’s seeing someone else.


…at least I got the chance to ask.

Life is crazy.

I’ve traveled internationally twice without family (Canada doesn’t count). I’ve started and run a business for close to a year. I have an awesome beard and can actually pull it off well. I’m starting to believe that I’m actually kind of attractive… I’ve got at least two ladies that are trying to court me, and heck, I’m not oblivious to it this time around. I volunteer and do extra-curricular activities with two clubs at my college. I’m recognized and greeted on campus and elsewhere more than I thought was probable, and I’m still greeted and welcomed with enthusiasm and interest by ex-coworkers and management at my old workplace. I remember (most) people’s faces, and a growing number of names. I make an effort to match my clothes in the morning. My meaningful conversations happen in person, not texts or instant messages. I’m enthusiastic and proud to explain to people that my peculiar twists in stairwells and odd twitches of my eyes are my OCD and ‘tics’ when they even notice. My resume hardly fits on one page, and I’ve already run out of filler material to cull. I strike up conversations with strangers. I actually feel like I’m an interesting, respectable, and… well, awesome person. The people that know me seem to echo that notion.

None of these things seemed possible or likely to me just a few years ago, and yet… here I am.

…I’m kinda crazy about a new someone. Not one of the aforementioned ladies, heh. I think (and hope) she likes me back. I haven’t felt like this for quite some time, and I believe I’ll actually get myself to ask her on a date at whatever point in time we next cross paths.

I’m behind with some assignments in some of my classes, thanks to a cold and my spring break being spent elsewhere. This upcoming week will be hectic, but manageable. Having a GPA above 3.5 has me getting more conscious about my grades… I’m actually fretting a bit about getting As in my classes for once, whereas I used to simply float through and get them ‘often enough’.

I have three potential customers to get back to tomorrow… I’m quite glad I only have 50 minutes of class in the 24 hours after my flight home. Gotta hope that hour or two of group lab-report-writing afterwards goes smoothly…

I kinda hate Tumblr for being… well, Tumblr. One of these days I’ll actually move these personal ramblings to a blog I have real control over. I care not for reputation, as this is essentially a diary for me, but I am fully aware that this could be connected with my greater identity if enough effort were applied, despite my efforts to leave names, places, and specifics out of these posts.

Life is crazy.

Today is a wonderful time to be alive.

I’ve progressed from considering starting a business, through planning, actually starting, a slow first month-and-a-half, and a surprisingly successful second month-and-a-half. The whole experience has been feeling like a really intense roller coaster; I can’t really back out of the line once I give notice to my old job, can’t really get off the ride once I’ve filed the papers and taken my first job, and can’t do anything but wait and hope as I climb the first hill while things take hold for the first month or two. Odd thing is, the last month or so has felt simultaneously like the first drop or two and and the first climb at the same time; I’ve felt a constant rush of momentum and suspense at the same time.

I’m still having a hard time believing that I can actually do something I really enjoy on my own terms, genuinely help people, and make a bit of a living from it.

I’m having a harder time believing that I’ve already found something that fits that bill, all while being able to progress through college towards a degree that finally seems to fit just right.

I also thought that the “Awesome, [first/second/third] job!” feeling would wear off before the tenth… apparently not!

I’ve never really felt this respected, interesting, knowledgeable, confident, or (moderately) successful before. I feel like this has been something I’ve longed for without really knowing for most of my life. The kind of thing I often envied of some of my peers… not realizing that it was merely an act of theirs to garner attention in most cases anyways.

…And yet there’s a bit of an emotional void looming over me. I have my suspicions as to what that may be… unfortunately, if I’m wrong, the feeling will eat away at me. For now, only time has control of the reins.

A customer and I decide on a price for my services, I provide said services, and as I finish up, she asks how much she owes me, so I reply with the quoted price. I’d have been perfectly happy with the quoted price; however, she begins to re-negotiate the number.

Normally, this is a time to be a little worried. Normally, re-negotiating a price after a service is provided means that somebody wants to pay less than was agreed upon, and somebody else will probably get less than was intended.

The customer insisted that my quoted price was too low, and we soon re-agreed on a payment of more than twice what I had originally quoted.

I guess this means I’m doing something right… right?

In other news, I’m self-employed now, running a computer repair business. It’s been less than two weeks since I left my last (and first… almost five years) job, but I’m already averaging about as much income as I had before, even considering that I’ll be paying taxes on what I make and the running costs of business.

I’ve built myself a website with hosting and a nifty domain with email forwarding, bought a pair of car magnets, got all of the fancy papers and legal stuff sorted out, and had a bunch of spiffy business cards of my own design printed (with a new, improved design on the horizon… more on that later, maybe).

I already had most of the tools one would need to do most kinds of computer house-calls, but ordered a few ‘upgrades’ that I’ll be able to trust more than a few specific, older tools that I wouldn’t trust on anything I didn’t own. (My old job never supplied me with any tools, but I had most of these things well before that, too.)

All things considered, I’ll have plenty of time to focus on my (continuing) college classes, I won’t need too much work to maintain my ability to pay for my own college education (not a penny of college debt yet, and I’m proud of that!), and I’m already well beyond halfway to breaking even after my first two jobs.

Apparently it’s typical for many small businesses to take three years before they break even, if they ever do at all… I didn’t know that until today. I don’t need a storefront, I have no employees to pay, and I didn’t need much in the way of tools & supplies, so my starting costs were low and my running costs are close to nothing, but still… I’m already doing quite well for myself!

I’m not sure if I’ll ever put my website URL on this blog, though… it would help the Google rankings, but I feel that I’d lose some of the freedom to express myself on a personal level here when it relates to business matters, and personal expression is really the whole point of having this blog. I certainly never intended to ‘tumbl’ anything… I started this blog before I realized what Tumblr really was, and now I just deal with it.

On a similar note, I only ever give out links to this blog to people I really trust, and usually only in relevant situations to illustrate a point or project. I don’t anticipate any issues with this personal blog mixing into my now-professional life, but I feel it’s better that I clarify this anyways… even if only for myself.

Other people finding this from wherever you came from are welcome, too! I know they pass through here every now and then… please, do feel free to send me a message thing if you find one of my posts helpful. I know I’ve had a number of hits for Sansa Fuze line-out -related stuff already, and… hey, I can be curious, right?

So, I got myself a ‘Lapdock’, originally designed to be sold with Motorola Atrix phones, acting as a portable charging dock, netbook-sized screen, and keyboard/touchpad input for the phone. A number of people have also discovered that, as a side effect of using almost-standard connections, the device can function as a cheap, battery-powered HDMI monitor and/or USB keyboard/mouse. And, better yet, as the phone’s been discontinued and newer phones (or any phone but the one this was designed for) don’t have the exact port configuration and orientation (likely intentional on Motorola’s part), these things are going for about $50, used, on eBay right now.So, what’s the catch? Models that include a power adapter run a whole lot more than that, power adapters are uncommon and, (almost unreasonably) expensive, and the tip on such power adapters has relatively unusual measurements. Oh, and the cables needed to make it useful to non-Atrix devices are uncommon and either expensive on eBay or available only from Chinese export shops (complete with looong shipping times and relatively high prices, relative to similar, standard cables from the same places).
So, figuring I’d be waiting on a few odd adapters from China for a few weeks, I bought a non-power-adapter model and did some research. Based on my research, not much is available on what size plug is needed, what voltage or amperage is required, or much of anything of the sort, so I did my own experimenting and figure someone else might find this later on and benefit. You’re welcome? Just don’t blame me if you fry anything.
The ‘lapdock’, model  SJYN0737A, requests 19 volts at at least 1.58 amps, according to a small label on the bottom. A label near the barrel jack indicates a positive-tip polarity for the barrel connector.
Using a set of digital calipers (recent new toy… dunno how I lived without them!), I got measurements of the power socket itself, and have labelled such on the (remainder of an) index card in the picture above.
(For the visually-impaired and human-impaired, e.g. search engines and people who can’t load or see the images, that is: 4.1mm outside diameter, 12.18mm depth, ~1.3mm diameter inner pin, and the inner pin is recessed by about 4.1mm, so it needs a long-ish barrel plug).
After a bit of searching through my room, I found donor a barrel jack of about 11mm in length and 4.0mm in diameter, with an inner diameter that seems about right, but is something I don’t have the proper tools to measure. somewhere in the 1.3mm-1.6mm range, I imagine. I attached this through a makeshift adapter to a duplicate adapter-jack on one of those ‘universal’ laptop power adapters, this one is a Targus (model APA32US) rated at 19.5 volts (and 4.8 or so amps), but any adapter with a stable 19-volt output and enough amperage should work sufficiently.
Notes:
1) There are, apparently, several newer models of ‘lapdocks’ from Motorola for some of their newer phones, and I have no idea if any of this applies or not. I wouldn’t really bet on it.
2) I already had the universal power adapter sitting around, and I used a plug that I had absolutely no use for, but have the funky ‘adapter’ designed to keep the power adapter itself unmodified and useable for other purposes at will. If I didn’t have this sitting around already, buying an official Motorola power adapter from eBay would probably cost me fair bit less than buying the adapter I’m using.
3) I have yet to receive the aforementioned adapter cables, so I have no way of testing any of this outside of watching the ‘charging’ light slowly pulse (Apple-style, presumably by design… at least I hope so!) and seeing more lights light up on the ‘battery fill gauge’ thing.
Maybe I’ll post an update when I have the cables… maybe not. Only time will tell!

So, I got myself a ‘Lapdock’, originally designed to be sold with Motorola Atrix phones, acting as a portable charging dock, netbook-sized screen, and keyboard/touchpad input for the phone. A number of people have also discovered that, as a side effect of using almost-standard connections, the device can function as a cheap, battery-powered HDMI monitor and/or USB keyboard/mouse. And, better yet, as the phone’s been discontinued and newer phones (or any phone but the one this was designed for) don’t have the exact port configuration and orientation (likely intentional on Motorola’s part), these things are going for about $50, used, on eBay right now.

So, what’s the catch? Models that include a power adapter run a whole lot more than that, power adapters are uncommon and, (almost unreasonably) expensive, and the tip on such power adapters has relatively unusual measurements. Oh, and the cables needed to make it useful to non-Atrix devices are uncommon and either expensive on eBay or available only from Chinese export shops (complete with looong shipping times and relatively high prices, relative to similar, standard cables from the same places).

So, figuring I’d be waiting on a few odd adapters from China for a few weeks, I bought a non-power-adapter model and did some research. Based on my research, not much is available on what size plug is needed, what voltage or amperage is required, or much of anything of the sort, so I did my own experimenting and figure someone else might find this later on and benefit. You’re welcome? Just don’t blame me if you fry anything.

The ‘lapdock’, model  SJYN0737A, requests 19 volts at at least 1.58 amps, according to a small label on the bottom. A label near the barrel jack indicates a positive-tip polarity for the barrel connector.

Using a set of digital calipers (recent new toy… dunno how I lived without them!), I got measurements of the power socket itself, and have labelled such on the (remainder of an) index card in the picture above.

(For the visually-impaired and human-impaired, e.g. search engines and people who can’t load or see the images, that is: 4.1mm outside diameter, 12.18mm depth, ~1.3mm diameter inner pin, and the inner pin is recessed by about 4.1mm, so it needs a long-ish barrel plug).

After a bit of searching through my room, I found donor a barrel jack of about 11mm in length and 4.0mm in diameter, with an inner diameter that seems about right, but is something I don’t have the proper tools to measure. somewhere in the 1.3mm-1.6mm range, I imagine. I attached this through a makeshift adapter to a duplicate adapter-jack on one of those ‘universal’ laptop power adapters, this one is a Targus (model APA32US) rated at 19.5 volts (and 4.8 or so amps), but any adapter with a stable 19-volt output and enough amperage should work sufficiently.

Notes:

1) There are, apparently, several newer models of ‘lapdocks’ from Motorola for some of their newer phones, and I have no idea if any of this applies or not. I wouldn’t really bet on it.

2) I already had the universal power adapter sitting around, and I used a plug that I had absolutely no use for, but have the funky ‘adapter’ designed to keep the power adapter itself unmodified and useable for other purposes at will. If I didn’t have this sitting around already, buying an official Motorola power adapter from eBay would probably cost me fair bit less than buying the adapter I’m using.

3) I have yet to receive the aforementioned adapter cables, so I have no way of testing any of this outside of watching the ‘charging’ light slowly pulse (Apple-style, presumably by design… at least I hope so!) and seeing more lights light up on the ‘battery fill gauge’ thing.

Maybe I’ll post an update when I have the cables… maybe not. Only time will tell!

I made this GIF a year or two ago. Haven’t played Minecraft much since then… as it turns out, it’s usually more fun to play with a friend.
Though, to be fair… it’s also more fun when you have at least an hour or five to devote to the game when you do jump in.

I made this GIF a year or two ago. Haven’t played Minecraft much since then… as it turns out, it’s usually more fun to play with a friend.

Though, to be fair… it’s also more fun when you have at least an hour or five to devote to the game when you do jump in.