Friday, September 13, 2013

Bill's Still Banged Up But Fighting Back

If any of you read my post about "Where's Bill Been Hiding" you know I got really sick and just about died a couple of times.

Then I got much better, was almost completely healed, or so it appeared at the start of 2013.

Weaning. So the docs started weaning me off all the medication as it's kind of harmful as well but the disease was still too active it seems and weaning was once again premature. I had just finished getting weaned off all the medicine, didn't have much energy, but that was to be expected. Takes a few weeks or months for all the effects of all those medications to be reversed and resume a somewhat normal existence.

However, nothing normal happens anymore.

Relapse. I was in Florida in Feb, 2013 for a brief vacation and business trip combined when my legs and feet started to come unraveled. It started on the plane ride to Florida when I had some massive edema event. When we landed and I took off my socks it was a 'HOLY SHIT!' moment. Stuff was oozing from my legs and some skin was feeling loose and near peeling. Joy. Wasn't sure if I should panic or not and was three thousand miles away from any doctors that could do anything about it. So stupidly I waited to see if it was just an odd occurrence or relapse. Sadly, it was relapse.

By the time I returned to California there were 2 gaping holes in my ankles, a big erosion on top of one foot, and erosions below the knee all over both legs.

Very painful, excruciating, not pretty.

Medicated Again. The docs put me back on all the medication but lower doses just to try to maintain my status and reverse the damage. The lower doses appear to work well and not have such bad side effects but healing is much slower.  However, that strategy seems to have paid off as everything healed up except one spot on my foot that I know call my "zombie bite". Yeah, I know "zombie bite" might sound stupid at first but if you ask someone if they want to see your wound vs. a "zombie bite" one gets the obligatory "yuck" while the other gets a "hell yeah! let's see it!".

Showers were a screamfest.  I started showering with socks on just to keep water from directly hitting the open wounds. Even with mitigating water access to the wound during the shower, coming out into the open cooler air after the shower was a trauma all of it's own which could take up to an hour to get the foot to calm down in the beginning. It eventually got better and now I shower with no socks.

Socks. Used to be something I wore when wearing shoes. Now it's something worn 24/7 to keep the foot clean and the "zombie bite" from getting cold or dry. Otherwise, I'd be screaming in pain and popping pain pills all day. Luckily the doc finally figured out how to manage the pain because even the socks didn't help when it got cold at night or coming out of a shower.

Pain. Getting the pain managed was a good thing because I was starting to lose my mind. When you start to fear showers and 50F degree weather you know something has to be done. Took a couple of months before we figured out what worked and what didn't but now the pain is under control. Side effects, do those matter as long as you're not screaming in pain?

Numbness and Shaking. My foot feels like a big numb squishy stump when I walk on it. It's almost completely healed, just a little gap left, but I can't feel shit. I feel it if it's touched but the pain was totally squashed with neuropathy drugs. Problem is those drugs make my hands shake. Sometimes everything is fine as I seem to be adapting to those drugs, and then out of nowhere the hands shake like crazy for minutes or hours. My doctor recommended I put them in my pocket. I like the way he thinks!

Electric Carts. First time I've ever used those electric carts at the store but with 3 big holes in my feet I figured it was best to skip walking, let it heal faster, and avoid any additional damage. Some would say just stay home but I was hellbent to maintain some level of normality, just in an electric cart. Strategy seems to have paid off as I wasn't using the carts more than a few weeks before I was healed enough to walk again. Not perfect mind you, just not so painful that I wanted to scream at each step.

Blindness. One of the drugs I'm taking can cause cataracts. My eyes weren't good in Feb. but I could still see well enough to drive. Within 3 weeks of going back on the drugs I had severe cataracts that just got worse to the point I was beyond legally blind. Increased my screen to 120 DPI, had to crank up the font size on my computer, then zoom in the browser 3x-4x, then use the magnifier in Windows 7 to show text like the Times Square Jumbotron on the top of my monitor at 400% larger than all that. It was about as extreme as you can imagine and I was struggling to read even at that.

SmartPhone Salvation. My Android phone was my lifeline for more reasons that you can imagine. The camera in the phone works as a magnifier so I could read stuff out in the real world. More importantly, it allowed me to bring things close enough to my face to see. Prices on a shelf too far down or two high was easy, take a picture of it and look at the picture. People's faces across a room, same thing, look through the camera to bring it close to my face. From across the room things were a big blur but the camera could see it and I could see the camera screen an inch from my face.  The phone could also read out loud using TalkBack so all that tiny text it would read to me and I could reply via voice input. Without the smart phone I'd have been completely lost.

Tablet Triumphs. My Nexus 7 was another great tool for the vision impaired. Triple tapping brings up a big full screen magnifier that allowed me to easily read stuff I couldn't read on the smart phone. Why the smart phone version of Android didn't have triple tap magnification I have no clue, maybe it's the vendor's option, but not having it on the phone sucked. Additionally, I could actually see video on the tablet because I could get the screen close to my face so it was preferred over TV or even the computer for watching video. It also supported TalkBack but didn't support many of the "driving mode" voice activated and text to speech options the phone had which sucked but it was better than nothing.

Cataract Surgery Freakout. When I was finally stable enough I got one cataract removed so I'm not blind anymore. First couple of days after it looked great, I could see everything, then I wake up on the 3rd morning after and I'm having reading difficulty, the next day it's even worse, day after that I can't read shit. Back to the Jumbotron. Went back to the eye doc and he takes a look and tells me my cornea is fucked up plus it's dry as hell. Now I need to put eye drops in all day long to keep it wet and I can see just fine. Think of a wilted plant, you water it, it perks up. My eye is the same, I lose focus, you water it, I get focus, I'm being watered like a fucking plant. But I can see just fine is the take away here, just wet. Looks like I'll get the other eye done in October and that cornea is fucked as well so nothing easy coming my way it seems. The bright side is I found out most people with this skin problem I had end up blind as the corneas are totally fried so I'll take slightly fucked and seeing well vs. fried and blind.

Round Two Complete? The foot has just a sliver of an erosion to heal, nothing much, but it's been 7 months already, enough is enough, again. Now it's been a few years of this shit and enough is really enough. Time to get past it and move along. However, I don't look forward to being weaned off the medicine again as I'm not sure I could handle a round 3 of this shit so I hope it goes a bit smoother than the last time.

Status. One eye fixed, soon to be both, and other than a little bad spot on my foot I'm basically back to normal and working away. Assuming you define normal as no fingernails, no toenails, no hair and watering your face like a plant 6-8 times a day and always carrying eye drops and pills everywhere you go. That's my normal and I can tell you normal becomes anything you have to do day after day for weeks or months, like wearing bandages, it's a little nutty.

However, I'm still here and kicking and isn't that all that really matters?

Being messed up does have it's perks in handicapped parking.

I get all the best spaces.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Blocking Data Center Report on New Blog at

I've been playing around with WordPress on and there's a pretty good article over there about Blocking Data Centers, a real smoking gun type of report. Check it out.

Not sure what the fate of this blog will be, whether I'll import it into WordPress, leave it as-is, or what. The WordPress thing is just an experiment at this time and anything could happen so keep your eye on it as I've got plans.

Some cool shit :)

BTW, getting my eye fixes on Aug 12th so maybe I can get busy when I can finally see what I'm doing again as I'm running pretty blind at the moment. Even partial vision will be nice as these cataracts are really bad, haven't driven in months, just type and hope it comes out right!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Link Buyers Beware: How Google Monitors BackLink Traffic

Let's take a quick look at how Google has installed traffic monitoring systems all over the web, not unlike traffic cameras on the street, and they can collect enormous amounts of traffic information, probably the most extensive on the planet as they track across jurisdictions, networks, borders without any hindrance whatsoever.

Everything Google does is quite literally just another traffic monitor and they offer up all sorts of free stuff that webmasters and users alike greedily grab and stick on sites. What the webmasters and users don't realize is that all this free stuff gives them the power of knowing everything happening on the web although it seems benign in the beginning.

Think of Google's offerings as seismic monitors but instead of tracking tremors they track traffic on the web. Just like the USGS, they've installed a shitload of seismic monitors so they can track the slightest movement of traffic. Maybe more importantly for our discussion, they also track the lack of traffic which I'll explain later.

Examine some of the traffic tracking sources:

  • Google Search: Google knows how you got there and they track where you went when you leave
  • Google Analytics: By offering webmasters an invaluable traffic tracking tool Google also has access to everyone coming and going from your site and they know how they got there.
  • AdSense: Publishers and Google both earn money but Google also gets the same data they would from Google Analytics for all pages with AdSense so it's a traffic data goldmine
  • Blogger: Offering publishers a free place to publish also gives Google yet more traffic data mining opportunities
  • YouTube: More of a destination than a traffic tracker, but people following links, viewing embedded videos, etc. are providing even more traffic data albeit somewhat expensive
  • Google+: Blogger on steroids and those G+ buttons all over the place are just more traffic monitors.
  • Google Maps: Embedded maps on virtually every About or Directions page on the planet tracking traffic.
  • Various other products, APIs, etc. all contribute to the total.
What webmasters don't realize is when  you participate in link schemes that are designed just to pass page rank that Google's monitors placed all over the World Wide Web know that those pages DO NOT generate any traffic. Using the seismic monitoring metaphor again, they know those paid link pages, directories, etc. are not on an active fault because no people, aka tremors, ever come from those pages.

This is why you should really fear Google's capabilities because neither Yahoo nor Bing had the foresight to create such a massive traffic monitor with programs like AdSense and Analytics so now those search engines are incapable of making the same kinds of changes to their index because they simply don't have the traffic data therefore they are still open to being gamed with link buying schemes. Perhaps if YPN! had been successful, or any of them had the foresight to offer free analytics, but the truth is Google has outsmarted the competition, the webmasters and the users as they are so entrenched at this point extrication could be impossible.

Just think of all those pages out there with AdSense, Analytics, embedded YouTube, G+ buttons, embedded maps, so on and so forth all collecting traffic data 24/7/365.

Google knows if those pages where your backlinks reside generate traffic or not, they know how to value links from those pages, and more importantly, if your site shows up on those pages they can look at everywhere else your site shows up and unravel the entire link building network. Compare all the sites that show up on the same pages and devalue them as well. Suddenly, the whole thing unravels like a puff of wind hitting a house of cards.

Don't think they aren't doing this very thing as Panda and Penguin are evidence it's happening.

To complete the comedy, Google gave webmasters a disavow tool so you can help them pinpoint locations that they weren't sure about and it probably outs everyone else that buys links from those disavowed sites. I can't even fathom what goes through the minds of anyone using that disavow tool. It can't be anything intelligent or they'd avoid it like it was flesh eating bacteria. Disavow reminds me of McCarthyism (MattCuttsyism?) and how people were suddenly eager to turn on their neighbors and claim they were communist just to save their own asses. Disavow.

My bottom line is don't put your links in places designed just to pass PR as I'm pretty sure those days are over and if they aren't, they soon will be because it's simple data analysis to find these shady places. Not because of what they do, because of what they don't do, they don't send visitors anywhere.

While I don't know how smart the boys at Bing are, but it would seem they could extrapolate some good information from the sudden changes in the link graph and figure out which sites Google has exposed. If that happens, which is very possible with just a little analysis, link schemes could also be easily devalued in Bing and Yahoo as well, assuming they're smart enough to identify the sites.

Think about it and link responsibly because Google is watching and Bing may be as well.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

PHP Error Reporting in Plesk 10.x

Seems like I always run into some new bullshit every time I upgrade servers, control panels or a new version of PHP. Nothing ever works as expected, it's never just a simple upgrade no matter how much the marketing worms say it's compatible with the previous version, it's not.

I know a lot of people have this same fucking problem because Plesk is a POS (piece of shit) so I thought I'd make sure to post the same information here a) so I don't forget it and b) so it's easier for others to find because it took me a while to locate this tidbit.

Sometimes, if you're lucky, you can find answers like this on StackOverflow except the fucking moderators always close the thread before the actual answer is posted with some bullshit excuse like it's "too narrow in focus to be of general interest" when in fact there are millions of Plesk hosting accounts out there but I'm not an all-knowing StackOverflow moderator so what the fuck do I know.

Anyway, after digging and digging I finally found a fucking answer...

If you can't get PHP to display errors in Plesk your need to set a custom error reporting value of "6135" in the PHP permissions tab for your domain in the Plesk control panel. Also, set the option "display errors" to ON.

There you go, now you should be able to control the error display in your script with error_reporting(E_ALL) to show errors or error_reporting(0); to turn it off.

Still don't have a solution to why flush() doesn't work as every solution to the problem doesn't solve it and I've tried everything. It's not just PHP either as Perl isn't able to flush() either so it's definitely something in the Apache config fucking it up but that's another post when I figure it out.

Another silly surprise I got was older versions of PHP 5 allowed trailing spaces to be present in IP2LONG() so " " would actually work. In PHP 5.4 it just blows a fucking gasket. Why in the fuck wouldn't a number conversion function just trim() the goddamn string in the fucking function instead of forcing me to do it and bloat the goddamn code? Seems like there's no harm allowing IP2LONG() to trim() preceding or trailing spaces but who am I to wonder why it's better to leave more little potential ways for the code to bomb for no fucking reason and why they changed it is a mystery to me as it certainly wasn't broken before but it was obviously a bug up someone's ass so they made the change and the one place I forgot to add a trim() brought the goddamn software to it's knees.

 I know shit happens but why do I seem to get more than my fair share of the shit?

Spread it around, let others have some shit too, don't save it all for me.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Dumb as a Post Restaurant Host

When the restaurant host, that person stationed at the front of the restaurant, sees me park right in front of the door, in the handicap parking spot, and limp inside, that should be clue number one.

When I ask to be seated close to the front, that should be clue number two assuming you ever pay attention to what your customers say because I'm pretty fucking sure it goes in one side of your dumb fucking bleached blonde head and out the other.

When you take off with an armful of menus and race across the building and turn around and I'm lagging way behind, like maybe almost at the front door, maybe that should be clue number three.

Do you turn around and try to seat me at a table I'm near and hobbling past?

Fuck no.

You stand there with your stupid bleached blonde powered jaw moving up and down like I can fucking hear whatever vapid shit is spewing out of your brightly lipstick encrusted mouth from across the goddamn restaurant.

And when I finally hobble all the way to where you're still defiantly standing, you then have the balls to ask me if I'd rather be seated closer to the front, you're lucky I don't smack the shit out of you and then smack you for shitting just for being so fucking stupid.

Pay attention to your customer.

Ask them where they'd prefer to be seated before bolting off like a race horse pulling a cartload of menus.

Especially when you see someone limping along, sheesh.

Also, it would be nice if you could seat all the people bringing their snotty little screaming misbehaving heathens all in one section and give other people the option of sitting as far away from them  as possible so not only isn't our dinner ruined by their crying, yelling, running back and forth in the aisle, but we have a chance of not catching whatever version of H1N1 is dribbling out their little noses that they brought home from school.

I will  give props when props are due as two Chinese buffet hosts actually seat me in the back closer to the food so I don't have to walk so far from the buffet to the table. Sometimes being seated in the back is appropriate. Kudos to those that know the difference.


Ratings are Broken: Trusting Reviews from Stupid Reviewers is Insane

Most reviews and ratings are worthless garbage because typically only whiny bitchy joyless people post on review sites just to rain on everyone's parade.

I'm pretty critical of everything and well known to be a cynic but there becomes a point where the bitching and whining of the average idiot isn't helping, it's often off topic, and doesn't add any value to the process whatsoever except just to let the little bastard whine and think they've done something special by crapping on a hard working business owner.


Seriously, do you think giving a restaurant a one star rating just because it's so popular you can't get seated makes any sense? It's obviously a 4 or 5 star place or there wouldn't be 50 people waiting to get a seat every night at 8pm so go ahead and show your ignorance giving them 1 star because your ego can't get past the fact you couldn't flash your snatch and get seated.

Another favorite of mine are people that give negative reviews for something that the food or service is actually supposed to do! For instance, the Brazilian Steak House or Churrascaria is supposed to be salty as they rub salt over the meat when they put it on the rotisserie yet ignorant morons all say it's too salty and give it bad ratings when that's exactly how it's suppose to be and those just clog the system and make ratings useless.

The one that blows my mind is a very popular local place which is busy as shit, always booked to closing by about 7pm, gets negative reviews from idiots like "We drove 40 minutes to go there because it's so good and couldn't get in when we got there.". Who's poor planning caused that problem you fucking idiot! I live 40 minutes from that same place and I always get seated when I go because I get there when it opens at 3pm or I simply don't go!


I'm sitting in a diner enjoying the morning breakfast fare of an omelet and fried potatoes, both quite tasty, when suddenly one of my dining companions who happens to be suffering from a cold, loudly blurts out "This food has no flavor!". I know everyone is entitled to their own opinion but when it's dead ass wrong and the other two people at the table agree they're wrong, it's the cold interfering with their taste. However, had we not been there this person might have written a horrible review of the food which was perfectly fine.

Another time I was out with friends and was asked "What's good here?" and after telling them, they ordered something 180 degrees in the other direction. Later declared what they ordered sucked at which point I kind of lost my shit because first, I was asked what was good, and second, you don't go to a place known for steaks and chops and order seafood. Sure they offer seafood on the menu as an option for people that opt not to kill a cow, but it's certainly not their specialty and I tried to steer (happy pun) them away from it. To be fair, the place now serves fantastic seafood but back in the day it really wasn't their forte whatsoever.


Going mildly off topic but something my own mother did frosted my ass so bad I'm surprised I didn't go off like a nuclear warhead. We were having lunch in a very nice upscale gourmet sandwich shop which has all the makings of disaster with Mom. Everything on the menu sounded incredible to us but of course Mom can't find anything so she finally defaults on the hamburger. When lunch is over I notice that the fucking hamburger has barely been touched and when I ask why I'm told that she doesn't like Thousand Island dressing and it was on the burger. Losing my shit. IT SAID THOUSAND ISLAND DRESSING ON THE MENU! YOU TELL THEM TO LEAVE IT THE FUCK OFF THE HAMBURGER! Which was very good by the way. Now mind you, people like my Mom ordering shit off the menu as-is when they know they don't like it before they order it are writing these reviews.

I have a similar story about someone that doesn't like pepper ordering the Peppercorn Steak and didn't like that restaurant either. What a fucking shocker.

Stupid is as stupid does and then they review sites based on their own stupidity.


What I'm thinking is there will ultimately have to be a set of people with super reviewer privileges, in other words people that are smart enough to know what's what, that can assess the skills of the other reviewers and flag them as mental midgets. Then we can get two ratings, the raw rating data which is usually useless unless you have a very large number of submissions, and the filtered ratings with all the morons filtered out so you can see what truly objective and sentient beings have rated vs. morons that don't know shit from shinola.


It's really a case of "take it with a grain of salt" especially Brazilian Steak Houses. If the reviews mostly sound legit, then go with the majority. But keep an eye out for those idiots that rate it too low or high because of stupid shit. I honestly think some people are just evil fucks that try to tear down everyone and everything to make themselves feel better which is really sad because very few places I've been to deserve that kind of treatment. You'll know when you find one that does because everyone will be dumping on them, not just a couple of losers that probably got bad service because of their bad attitudes (you know who the fuck you are too)!

I tend to see if anyone is enjoying it but not raving about it but giving it 3-4 stars, those are the reviews I tend to trust the most as nothing is perfect and hardly anything totally sucks, so I go with the middle majority. If there is no middle majority posting for something, then I probably won't give it a try because the negative posts are probably spot on.