I really wish this were a gaming post, but it isn’t so…
Mechanics. I always hear people talk about how they know a good one, but they never seem to want to give up that name, so most of use have to drive our broken cars to the local auto shop and prepare to be ripped off.
Let me just get this out there. Every single auto mechanic I have ever been to has always been nice and is probably knowledgeable and not a complete thief, but their business model is terrible and shitty and it makes me think of them as crooks.
So, my car is busted. Doesn’t matter how, there is something not working or it is making some sort of sound. I take it to the shop. I tell them the problem I am experiencing and they agree to look at it. They give me a complimentary ride home. Later they call and say, “$800.” I say, “Fix it.” Then they call back, “While we were looking at that thing, we noticed this other thing. $300.” I say, “Fix it.” Again they call, “So we pulled out the thing to fix the thing and found that the noise we couldn’t identify from before is coming from over there. $400.” I think about it, push some numbers around in my head, “Fix it.” They call again, “Turns out that the original issue wasn’t just a little broken, it was totally broken, so it’ll be $200 more.” “Okay, fine.” “Oh, and since we are already charging you $400 in labor to dismantle the whosiwhatsis, we looked at the thingamabob and it’s broken. If you fix it now, $300, but if you fix it later we’d have to charge the $400 labor for dismantling again, so?” “Go ahead and fix it.”
I’m up to $2,000 now, on a car that is only worth about $1,500. But I’m okay with that. It beats having a monthly payment since fixes like this only come along once every couple of years. Then they call again, “We’ve got your car up on the rack and noticed that you have a bunch of other problems, all of which are going to lead to your immediate death should they not be fixed, $2,000.” Now I’m angry.
If I had been told, up front, they would charge me a couple hundred to do a complete systems check and give me a full accounting of problems and come up with a $4,000 price tag, I’d have gladly paid them the couple hundred bucks and bid them a good day, sell the car for scrap and get a new (used) car. But the nickel and dime stuff, slowly climbing from a reasonable cost to a bearable cost to a completely unreasonable cost is for shit. Why in the hell would I spent $4,000 to fix a car that isn’t worth $1,500 in full working order?
So here I am, paying $2,000 to half fix a car when I probably could have taken that $2,000 and bought myself a used car that was in better working order. Mechanics, this is bad and you should feel bad. You might have successfully gotten my money, but you have lost my business, and now I’m going to go around bad-mouthing your store, America’s Service Station in Woodstock Towne Lake. I used to like you guys, you did alright by me for a few years, and now you’ve lost my business forever. Suck it.
And to top it off, when I explained my position to the office staff there, they just shrugged and said it isn’t their place to take the value of the car into consideration when repairing it, and they also don’t do complete systems checks because, and I quote, “they are a waste of everyone’s time.”
I remember it was cold out. Not like dead of winter cold, but enough that I was wearing a long sleeve shirt. So it was either toward the end of the first semester, or it was nearing the middle of the second. I was sixteen. It got dark early, so it was definitely during the standard time and not the daylight saving time. Whenever it was, it was report card time. I got home before my parents every day, and I had been checking the mail with purpose, because I knew there was damage that needed to be controlled.
I could go into the longer, deeper story, but I won’t and I’ll just say that I was a solid C student. My parents had been trying for years to get me to do better. I simply had no desire to do more than was required to pass. However, this particular report card was different. Among the usually assortment of Cs was a lone F. For the first time ever I wasn’t passing a class. I was on top of it, keeping an eye out for the report card and then… I don’t know. My sixteen year old brain was probably thinking I could alter the grade, turn the F into a B or something, like they do in the movies and on TV.
I came home, checked the mail and went to my room. My parents came home and went about their normal end of day routine. After a little while, my father calls me downstairs. I go. “Get a shovel and meet me in the backyard,” he says.
“Great,” I think, “yard work!” I was being sarcastic, of course, but yard work usually did mean getting some extra allowance. I get the shovel and meet my father in the backyard. He’s stand in one of the “islands”, you know, where they’ve put pine straw down between trees to keep from having to mow there. There are plants around the edges, flowers mostly, but this one is fairly barren in the center.
“I want you to dig a hole,” he says. “Two feet wide by two feet long and about a foot deep.” And then he walks off, back to the house.
I’m confused, but I start digging. It’s chilly out, and I didn’t get a jacket, so I’m trying to dig quickly, keep my body moving so I can stay warm. After a while, I’m nearly finished when my father strolls back out. He barely looks at the hole I’ve dug and says, “Now I want you to fill it back in.” And he heads back to the house.
I’m more confused, but I start shoveling again, filling the dirt back into the hole. As I finish up and am patting down the last of the dirt, my father returns. It’s dark now, the yard illuminated by the lights from the house. He is a silhouette as he approaches, his breath puffing out to the side as he walks. He points a finger at me, gaining my full attention.
“If you don’t improve your grades, this is the kind of work you’ll be doing for the rest of your life.” He stands there for a moment. He shakes his finger at me, once, twice, like he’s counting out the cadence in his head, maybe there is something he wants to add. Finally he says, “Put the shovel away and come back inside.”
That night I eat my dinner in silence, and after I go to my room and do my homework. I start doing my homework most nights. At the end of the semester I’ve pulled up my grades – the F becoming a C and even one or two of the Cs turning into Bs.
There is much more to my educational history, and not all of it is good, but I will always remember that it was my father who finally figured out how to get through to a kid who didn’t think school was worth doing well at.
The name makes me want to gently rest my face in the palm of my hand. Really? “Zafehouse”? But then I went on to read the features, look at the screenshots and watch the video. Annoying name aside, I’m in.
In the Zafehouse: Diaries you control the fates of people picked to live in a house during the zombie apocalypse to see what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real. Real World: Zombie Apocalypse! Hmm.. I just thought of a worse name than Zafehouse. Anyway, you start with your people, and you assign them tasks, and then they do them. A turn is an hour, and how successful they are depends on their own skill and their relationships with the rest of the people. When you finish, you get a nice AAR of the whole ordeal to share with your friends.
It’s available for sale now, but I’m on holiday lockdown – no buying anything for myself until the new year. I look forward to being able to give this a try, even more so if they manage to get approved for Steam, because I love having all my games in Steam.
In the meantime, seeing this reminds me that I have that pack of screenshots from Rebuild lying around that I need to do the writing for…
… we interrupt this silence with a bit of posting.
So, the server on which my website resides is having hardware troubles. It is being fixed, and in the meantime the are running and loading backups or some such… all I know is that I get a big notice in my control panel that says they are doing stuff and apologize for the inconvenience. Thus, I have avoided trying to post things in fear that something will go wrong and they’ll revert to a backup that is missing the latest stuff.
Until they get it all sorted, I’ll go back to hiding.
In my new resolve to post more often, I’m going to attempt to also revive my old habit of posting zombie related things on Wednesdays. So, for this, the first of the All New Same As It Ever Was Zombie Wednesday, watch this music video.
I just love No More Kings. There are one of the very few bands who, in my opinion, have no bad songs.
I’m not really telling you to commit voter fraud. Very little voter fraud is actually committed by the voters – although Republicans would have you believe that all voter fraud can be eliminated by requiring proper identification at the polls. No, most fraud, if there is any, occurs in the counting and tabulating. Boxes of mail-in votes lost or “forgotten”, counting being handled by clearly partisan people, early votes being “invalidated” and the voters not notified or not allowed to re-vote, and so on. Voters don’t really commit fraud, political parties and corporate entities do… you know, the things that don’t actually vote, and thus don’t need an ID.
Beyond the malarkey of voter ID, you should, if at all possible, vote. There is no reason not to.
Don’t like either of the major party candidates? Then consider voting 3rd party to vote “against” the major parties. Sure, those 3rd parties aren’t likely to win, but every vote they can get helps them become more established and maybe next time, in 2016, they’ll actually get invited to the debates unlike this year’s lockout. Even if you don’t agree with the 3rd parties, vote for one against the major parties since you don’t like them either. Right now, the current goal is for one of both of the biggest 3rd Parties, Libertarian and Green, to get 5% of the popular vote. At 5%, a party qualifies for public money in the next election. And if you ignore all the pitfalls of campaign finance, qualifying for public funding is a major step is being accepted as legitimate, or being actually seen by more people, of getting on more ballots, of getting media attention, of changing the way our system works (or doesn’t work). A vote for a 3rd Party isn’t a wasted vote.
Just when you think you are safe, you realize that the shared server you have all your web stuff on gives people who also share the server a little more access than you’d like, meaning that you are really only as safe as they are.
With things like WordPress and other CMS, there are files that need to remain writeable, if not for use then for automated updates. It’s these files that are vulnerable to getting edited and slipping malware, site redirects and other problems onto your website.
Well, if you have telnet access to your account, and you should. Here are a couple commands you can use to see if you’ve been hacked and which files you need to clean to fix it. Additionally, you can change the security on these files so that they are not writeable, but you’ll have to remember that and go change them back before taking advantage of some automated updates.
In both cases, you’ll get back a list of file names that have matched the patterns (i.e. contain “eval(base64_decode” or “<script>s=”). You should download those files, edit them to remove the hacked code, and upload them. It’s possible, though unlikely, that you may get hits on valid uses of these patterns. So be sure you know what you are doing.
Basically, what each of these is doing is either redirecting your visitors to somewhere else, or pulling code in to be displayed on your website. Of course, the most common files to get hit with these are index.php and index.htm/index.html. If you are infected and visit your own site in Chrome (I don’t know about other browsers) and you haven’t disabled the feature, Chrome will warn you that the page is doing something that might be malicious and ask if you want to proceed anyway. That’s a sure sign that you need to do some cleaning.
Anyway, that’s a quick way to clean your website or two problems. If you don’t modify the file permissions, you should probably run these weekly just to be safe and catch problems as quick as you can.
I don’t know who Adrian Snell is, but I may have to buy this album just to support such cool cover art.
I logged into the site this morning, to the WordPress dashboard, and saw the graph of my site stats.
For nearly an entire month, the traffic here was triple or more where it usually peaks. Of course, that was due to putting up a post every day about a horror movie with a Halloween tag on them. The biggest draws being the posts about vampires. The Nosferatu post alone doubled the traffic in a day.
On Halloween itself, the traffic dropped to half what it had been. And then yesterday was back to regular levels, where I suspect it will stay until December, when I might go on a Christmas movie reviewing spree.
However, those lofty heights of getting nearly 400 hits per day has strengthened my resolve in one way – I need to post more, and consistently. I may not succeed in daily postings, but I’m going to try very hard to keep October’s posting momentum through November.
At the very least, coming to post here every day this month will give me an opportunity to say things like – Day 1 of NaNoWriMo and I got 2,236 words. Probably my best start ever.