RIMU Rules

In an effort to put an end to the endless time sink of hardware problems on the small cooperative ISP I run, I’ve decided to outsource the responsibility of actually taking care of hardware and move most of the operations to a virtual private server. Part of our hosting is actually already on a VPS, but the service there has been lackluster: sometimes disk space is mysteriously unavailable; we don’t always get the promised amount of memory; throughput is slower than we’d like; customer support usually gives us cryptic responses about what was wrong and how they fixed it after a few hours; etc.. (Not to give them too bad a name, but the provider here was SPRY.)

We decided to find a new provider. Lots of people had good things to say about RIMU Hosting, and after just a day it’s becoming clear to me that they are an excellent provider. Tech support (even before we signed up) was incredibly responsive; the packages of virtual servers or dedicated hardware seem like an excellent value; and my first impression is that there is none of the VPS flakiness that seemed to permeate our prior provider. It looks and feels like a real machine: top provides an accurate task list that reflects the memory we really have, dmesg gives realistic kernel-like output, etc.

In such a short period of time, I can’t genuinely claim that RIMU Rules, but I will say that they rule so far. They also have a Debian developer discount, as well as a discount for hosting multiple machines with them.

Low Blogging Frequency

I haven’t been blogging lately. I do have a running list of ideas and topics, but my blog is going through a bit of an identity crisis. When I was a law student, it was easy for this to be a ‘law student blog,’ but now that I’m practicing I haven’t figured out how to find a balance between the personal and professional (and, perhaps on a third axis, the technical). Also, since I had a daughter, my time has been pretty scarce and I’m not sure that blogging is the best use of it.

I’ll probably pick up in frequency before too long, but in case anyone is wondering, I’m still here.

In the meantime, my Webloyalty is a Scam entry continues to get more traffic than anything else on this blog—close to 31,000 hits at the time of this writing, and nearly 1,000 writebacks (plus nearly as many personal emails to me on the topic). See also this follow-up post. One guy has even started a blog dedicated solely to criticizing Reservation Rewards—but now the link seems to broken.

When I write these consumer protection entries, I inevitably get comments from low-level company insiders defending their practices (see, e.g., U-Haul Responds). These writebacks are often a much better condemnation than I could ever come with. For example, the following was apparently written by a “WLI Call Center Rep.” The POST request came from the same area of Connecticut as where Webloyalty is located, and it seems pretty genuine:

I’m a rep in the call center at Webloyalty. I have no pity for any of you people. You’re all suckers, plain and simple. Didn’t anybody ever teach you that nothing is free? When all of you idiots made your purchases on whatever website you did business on at the end of your transaction there was an offer asking if you wanted to save $10, or get award miles, or whatever. When you clicked on that link you were not automatically signed up. What happens is that you’re brought to the Reservations Rewards website. On that website it tells you that you are on the website for Reservations Rewards. You see, you can tell that because the banner at the top of the site says “Reservations Rewards”. Unfortunately you were too stupid to notice or remember. It then gives you instructions on how to redeem your “reward”. At that point you are instructed to enter you email address in twice and click accept. Now you have to manually type in the email twice in those boxes. No cut and paste is allowed. Then it tells you to click accept. Now, if you had any fucking brains in your head you would have noticed that right above the box where you enter your email mail address its says, in regular sized type, in plain sight, right out in the open, that entering your email twice will act as an electronic signature and that by clicking accept you are accepting that the website you just made a purchase on can share the billing information with Reservation Rewards. Also in the big box next all of this it gives the exact details of what you are signing up for, again in regular sized print, in plain sight, right out in the open. If you are too stupid to take the time to notice all of that then you deserve what you got. which was a membership in a overpriced bullshit ptogram.

Webloyalty depends on idiots like you to not notice this stuff. To be blinded by the idea that you are getting something for “free”. To not look at you credit card statement so charges go through every month. Its unbelievable the amount of dummies out there that fall for this stuff. Even if you do catch the charges eventually, and get a refund they still made money off of you by collecting interest on your money when they had possesion of it. Stay a member or cancel its win-win for webloyalty.

So, anyway I hope all you dummies learned a valuable lesson and wont fall for this again. I’m sure many of you will, though. You’d be shocked at how many people are repeat members where they canceled the service a while back but fell for the scam again a few months later.

Seven Things I Would Be Happy Never To See For The Rest Of My Life

  1. IDE ribbon cables
  2. IDE jumpers
  3. Slave/master issues
  4. BIOSes that can’t boot to large partitions (I would be happy not to see this in the afterlife, either)
  5. Long, uninterruptible POST
  6. dma_timer_expiry
  7. Cilantro

Actually, I don’t really dislike cilantro, I just wouldn’t miss it if I never saw it for the rest of my life. The other stuff, though, is definitely getting in the way of me dying happily.

This is not a list that would resonate with most people, but I expect most of my readers are not representative of the general population.

Pit Bulls and Profiling

Malcolm Gladwell· (probably best known as the pop-sociologist author of The Tipping Point·) has an excellent piece in this week’s New Yorker· on what pit bulls can teach us about profiling·. The argument boils down to one about common tendencies in misinterpreting data and drawing the wrong (or “unstable”) generalizations from apparently recurrent phenomena.

Everyone’s favorite security guru Bruce Schneier· has made similar arguments in the past·, but Gladwell’s style in this case is more compelling. I particularly liked this passage about The Godfather:

In July of last year, following the transit bombings in London, the New York City Police Department announced that it would send officers into the subways to conduct random searches of passengers’ bags. On the face of it, doing random searches in the hunt for terrorists — as opposed to being guided by generalizations — seems like a silly idea. As a columnist in New York wrote at the time, “Not just ‘most’ but nearly every jihadi who has attacked a Western European or American target is a young Arab or Pakistani man. In other words, you can predict with a fair degree of certainty what an Al Qaeda terrorist looks like. Just as we have always known what Mafiosi look like — even as we understand that only an infinitesimal fraction of Italian-Americans are members of the mob.”

But wait: do we really know what mafiosi look like? In “The Godfather,” where most of us get our knowledge of the Mafia, the male members of the Corleone family were played by Marlon Brando, who was of Irish and French ancestry, James Caan, who is Jewish, and two Italian-Americans, Al Pacino and John Cazale. To go by “The Godfather,” mafiosi look like white men of European descent, which, as generalizations go, isn’t terribly helpful. Figuring out what an Islamic terrorist looks like isn’t any easier. Muslims are not like the Amish: they don’t come dressed in identifiable costumes. And they don’t look like basketball players; they don’t come in predictable shapes and sizes. Islam is a religion that spans the globe.