My Broken Links

One wants to find bad links on one’s sprawling disorganized site. The best thing I found was the truly excellent XENU’S LINK SLEUTH, but it wouldn’t find broken bookmarks! — i.e., the “within site” links between my various wandering pages. ... The author emailed it would be “a lot of work” — i.e., finding each and every single bookmark could get tedious in http time I suppose.... But all I want to do is find bad bookmarks on my own pages in hard-drive time, so here’s my LINKOID (~50K with C source), which will find missing bookmarks and other local links on my local site — but not on yours, unless you are very very lucky. ... Now I can turn Xenu loose on my actual site up there in cyberspace, content in the probably totally-unreliable assurance that Linkoid has found my broken bookmarks. (Thursday, July 19, 2001 11:26 am: Got that right, i.e. wrong; apparently linkoid wasn’t finding some of my broken bookmarks! ... Work ongoing.... Ok all fixed now 12:02 pm, version ngi is perfect! // And then Tuesday, July 24, 2001 3:29 pm version ngn I fixed missing files on a different server that honored case differences I hadn’t been detecting! ... So the beat goes on....)

JGWRAP: Mutilate Your HTML

Just to be complete, here is my first and most-recent HTML utility JGWRAP (includes C source) — I wrote it twice, this later version of course incomparably superior to my original feeble effort. ... It wraps HTML to reasonable lengths so it can be mutilated with ease in an ASCII text editor — because all HTML editors like to produce enormous long lines, the excuse being efficiency — you save all those CRs every time you exchange a CRLF for a space — but in reality they just don’t care and, in the case of the average public-spirited concern, they’d just as soon it was difficult to edit the stuff so you don’t go in there and learn things you shouldn’t....

JGWRAP also converts boring straight quotes into cute little curly quotes — and so much more. ... But then (12/6/03) I ran across some web snoot who explained how unutterably repulsive curly quotes are and indeed offered a “demoronizer” program to get rid of them! Just can’t please ’em all. ... Whatever; JGWRAP, like all the Owen Labs software, is guaranteed to format your hard drive and set your pets on fire, so advance as always with caution. ... And indeed the poor little thing did destroy much of this site as it merrily broke-open quoted strings inside angle brackets, which it wasn’t supposed to do. All fixed now of course. ... Caveat emptor....

And What Was All That Stuff About Components?

The short story: in my careful years of tests, I have learned you should never develop components for your own software. Components should be purchased just like other software: carefully and infrequently.

Naturally the books, stupid magazines, vendors — definitely including Borland — told us all how wonderful it would be to develop your own components. ... So once when the world was dewey with newness I did a Delphi component, only to discover over the weary years that when you change the version of Delphi — hey presto chango your component automatically updates — NOT!!! ... Nope sorry folks, you have to laboriously rewrite, and of course now and then they change something so you can’t! — this from the Delphi 5 README [with my comment/translations]:

    DSGNINTF and deployment [in Delphi 5]

    DSGNINTF.DCU is no longer shipped with Delphi [apparently it’s used by many components including mine, at least judging by pitiful complaints on the web, and was shipped with previous versions; at least with my version 3]. Thus, component developers should consider segregating design-time code into separate units from runtime code. Runtime code should not refer to those units [i.e. rewrite your component].

    If this approach is not feasible, you do have the option of compiling DSGNINTF.PAS (located in your \source\toolsapi\directory). This should be considered a stopgap measure, however, and may not be available as an option in future releases. [We’ll screw you anyway; and in any case, the source is not available in the standard aka “cheap” version: i.e., pay up or we’ll destroy your existing component.]

    You are also reminded that under the terms of your license agreement, you are not permitted to distribute DCUs based on source code owned by Inprise Corporation, no matter how that code might be made available to you. For complete details on licensing restrictions, see the LICENSE.TXT and DEPLOY.TXT files that accompany this release. [we’ll sue you if you actually try to use your component, even if you figure-out how to get around our sabotage.]

There we have it. Another inspiring enterprise spits on its customers. ... This might explain why Anders Hejlsberg went over to the dark side.

So, What About Components?

It’s really like fixing your own car; even if you know what you’re doing, you still don’t have parts, insurance, or economies of scale. The guys who flog components do it full-time — or at least they’d better, which is why you should be just as careful if not more picking components as picking compilers/programming environments.

So What About All Those Other Components?

Here in my declining years, it occurs to me it’s all a scam. ... Java, Delphi, ActiveX, NET — are all elaborate code reuse techniques that provide obvious benefits and hidden costs. ... I.e. it’s the same dubious idea as code-reuse in general, which is that someone can build just the right general-purpose transmission to use in any car, and then no-one will have to design a transmission again.

... It’s not that you can’t re-use code. ... It’s that every time you have to think i.e. work: you have to make a careful decision, and by no means assume that re-use is the right answer. But the software companies and their suck-up magazines don’t want you to do that: they want you to take the EZ fun route, and buy stuff — but while components look cute, they’re not cute to fix or maintain or, as I found out, heaven forbid you should want to use the next edition of your compiler/IDE/visual environment with yesterday’s component. ... It’s just another variety of the planned obsolescence exemplified by the Parade of Windows, except directed at programmers instead of end-users. ... So go ahead! Use these intimately-coupled gadgets in your product and it’ll look really cool, work with all kinds of software (i.e. ActiveX yammer yammer Word/Excel/etc. automation) and do anything — and it’s so inexpensive! ... Except for the minor possibility that your entire company will depend on the component vendor next month....

... And they all do it. To state this problem another way, cute plug-in components are cool; both Visual Basic and Delphi were wonderful because of them; but they have hidden costs which the vendor can activate pretty-much at will or random, whenever he feels like making your life miserable and your code obsolete. ... Obviously Microsoft has more power in this area than Borland — but that doesn’t stop the latter from trying! ... And even without vendor malevolence, component complexity means they will decay even by themselves; they require more support from the vendor or someone, so even if they just feel like moving-on — as Microsoft is obliged to do with NET — too bad about all that incredibly complicated stuff you bet the company on!

... I knew I should’ve stuck with assembler....

// And now Wednesday, June 27, 2001 12:20 pm my favorite troublemaker Ron Burk editor Windows Developer’s Journal:

The Doomed-To-Repeat-It award this month goes to InfoWorld, for their May 4 article announcing that code reuse is about to start happening Real Soon Now. ... My hat’s off to publishers who are willing to pay people to write the same article over and over again until it comes true. Best quote from this year’s rerun is “developers have toyed with the concept of reuse for nearly as long as software has existed”. Thank god that “toying” phase is over, and we finally know how to do it right!

— page 6, From the editor, WDJ 7/01

Of course Mr. Burk departed WDJ after the next issue....

//Monday, July 21, 2003 11:09 am. From Visual Studio Magazine: Buyers Guide ... 2003, page 20:

The software industry has been embroiled in the great buy-vs.-build debate through the last decade.... Is it better — more time-efficient, cheaper, or more reliable — to buy prepackaged, generic components in which someone else has invested the development and testing effort? ... Or, is it better to develop components in-house, allowing you to customize them for a specific purpose? ...

This in aid of a “third-way” derive alternative now possible in the exciting new super NET environment. ... But notice what no sane with-it responsible up-to-date programmer is even capable of answering none of the above, just say no, avoid components. ... One would hardly expect less in an issue devoted to extensive advertisements for software components, and to a certain extent it’s probably true that it’s impossible to program for Windows anymore without some kind of components. But that doesn’t mean you have to like them....

The OwenShow Components

And then while wrestling with my precious OwenShow, I sadly learned yet again the component lesson. The “CLX” (Windows/Linux) Delphi 7 components aren’t bad; but not nearly as good as the normal Delphi bunch. ... And today Tuesday, November 16, 2004, I finally conceded defeat to the CLX TListView; I had been fixing this and that weird behavior with even weirder code, but finally I just couldn’t go on and gave up. The OwenShow file select will wander a bit forever; I can struggle no more. ... (Actually I went back and fixed it some more, but it is definitely the weirdest code in the program ... which is saying something....)

Of course, all the Delphi components, CLX or not, are probably going away, demonstrating the other thing wrong with components. ... Borland will enhance them no more, and in the next edition of Microsoft’s operating system — or Linux — or the one after, they will falter, and finally fail.

How to “Share” Your &*)(*&)(*& Windows Drive C:

I lie of course; I can’t possibly tell you, we aren’t immortal and there isn’t time or screens enough in the world of light and shadows. ... I mean, after you’ve screwed-around with all the ridiculous GUIy junk that you’re supposed to, you still won’t have “permission” to do something like “dir \\stupidnetworkname\c”. That is, after you’ve gotten it to the point where “net view stupidnetworkname” shows you drive c. ... So what I did this morning 1/5/14, and probably before, at the end of desperation, is

  • On the target computer, get an administrator CMD window.
  • Go “cacls c:\ /E /G Everyone:F[1]

That’s on the machine you wish to see from the other machines. ... And then everything’ll work perfectly of course. ... Well except needless to say a ring of fire will spring-up around your computer, your home, and probably the entire neighborhood, consuming everything within it in a burn burn burning flame, if you are so foolish as to actually do this obviously forbidden thing. ... And be sure to see about McAfee....

And then @ 1/19/15, in the usual exciting effort to bring one of these things to life (see my heartfelt appreciation of win8) I was trying to “see” it on another computer, and got the dreaded

c:\adir>dir \\acer2\c
Access is denied.
c:\adir>dir \\acer2\c
Volume in drive \\acer2\c is Acer
Volume Serial Number is FE87-33AA

Directory of \\acer2\c

08/22/2013 10:22 AM <DIR> PerfLogs
01/19/2015 06:17 PM <DIR> Program Files
01/19/2015 06:56 PM <DIR> Program Files (x86)
01/19/2015 04:15 PM <DIR> Users
01/19/2015 04:17 PM <DIR> Windows
0 File(s) 0 bytes
5 Dir(s) 953,379,586,048 bytes free

and the beautiful green asterisk * above is where I typed the cacls magic in an “admin” cmd window on the new computer — after of course doing the “share” stuff first — and voila! I can see files! Oh be still my heart. ... And I did it again with another drive! Mr. Bill must be feeling nervous....

Ooops, forgot net share!

I forgot the best part! Somewhere along the weary way while usux was dribbling over Windows 8, the share thing disappeared from the explorer / my computer / whatever it’s called this week menu. At least on one of my crates and probably more. It is still in the disk management thingey (right-click “My Computer” / etc., “Manage”, then “Disk Management”, and right-click the drive to find the lost sharing ... this week).

But I’ve been doing it with UAC administrative access and

net share c=c:\ /GRANT:Everyone,FULL

which is so much more satisfying; and likely to work as Usux™ wanders into ever-newer and cryptically mutilated operating systems. ... And appears to actually work, not necessarily true of the other approaches. ... And of course will incinerate your home and pets....

XP Rendition

So I got a $110 used-of-course Dell XP laptop so I could once again peruse my Oxford English Dictionary CD, copy-extorted beyond the reach of mortal Windows 10 or even Vbox, and there

  • cacls c:\ /E /G Everyone:Fdidn’t work, at least not on my beautiful antique Dell. Gobbledygook error message. ... But
c:\mkdir a
cacls c:\a /E /G Everyone:F

does. So simple so EZ eh? ... This must’ve caused so much chaos they actually made it less stupid in succeeding Usux™ abortions....

  • “net share etc.” likewise. So I went and shared c:\ with various properties sub-menus etc. warnings and confusions via “My Computer”, and that did it. Maybe; at least I could see the drive @ net view from other computers. Note that nothing, apparently, will make XP work reliably on my precious ethernet, which is indeed how I remember it in olden days....

  • Well net share c=c:\ /UNLIMITED might do something....

... More

Stuff I forgot which might work this week:

  • Control panel / network and sharing center / Change advanced sharing settings: Where you go to fix the stupid defaults usux set-up for your “Work” network (Windows 7 Friday, February 28, 2014). I think you have to mutilate the “Public” network in the same way (for ethernet, q.v.). ... This might also be on the “manage computers” lost sharing menu.

At 5/16, after doing both the net share and cacls thing, it wouldn’t show-up until I checked “enable file sharing for devices that use 40- or 56-bit encryption” and “turn off password protected sharing”. But before that I tried....

At 11/16, after Usux™ thoughtfully garbage-graded my win10 system up to glorious new level of garbage, Usux™ of course reset all my settings. ... I mean, how could they do otherwise?!?!?!? ... And “Access Denied” until I checked “Turn off password protected sharing”. Without — gasp! — rebooting!!! ... See the summary advanced tip ’n’ trick below....

  • Directories you create before you manage to beat Microsoft into sharing your C: drive will not be shared. Directories created afterwards might be. ... The cacls thing might fix that...?

  • I was just abusing a windows 7 PC, and even after all the caclcing I could think of, it wouldn’t let my copy program create directories until I went into the stupid drive, properties, sharing / advanced shring / something, and explicity changed permissions from “crippled” to “everything whatever you want” somehow.
  • I just Sun 3/23/14 spent more than an hour trying to share drive “x:\” — but I made a fatal mistake: I kept typing “net share x=x:\* /GRANT:Everyone,FULL”. Can you see the fatal error? I couldn’t. For an hour. Of course you’re young and beautiful and immediately noticed the errant extra asterisk I idiotically and repeatedly typed. Naturally the command-line system offered no peep of complaint. And naturally doing it the usux beautiful GUIey way, repeatedly right-clicking/properties etc over and over again had absolutely no effect. ... It’s all so EZ!!!! ... Well I did have to go to at least one of the higher-level subdirectories and go — in adminstrative super-user giant brain mode — “cacls * /E /G Everyone:F” or something; I have it in a FIXCACLS.BAT file. ... This so Usux™’d let me look at these top-level subdirectories through the ethernet....

  • Everything: And then I was doing this again, and in the fabled Network & Sharing Center I realized I was still forgetting things, so I just turned-on everything that looked less safe, which indeed made the windows 10 directory magically appear on another computer! ... Life is so grand! ... & I’ll be doing this for every win10 upf--k™ it seems ... so it’s

    • Control Panel
    • search for “network”
    • The vile “Network and Sharing”
    • “Change advanced sharing settings”
    • “All Networks”, then
      • “Turn on sharing so anyone with network access can read and write” blah blah
      • “Enable file sharing for devices that use 40- or 56-bit encryption”
      • “Turn off password protected sharing” what’s probably the prize....

Public & Private: While I’m at it, I should note that windows has for some time insisted that my wi-fi is the “private network” — because I suspect those are Usux™’s hope$ & dream$ — and that my peer-to-peer ethernet is the public network. However I must admit that I only finally discovered at this (5/18) sabotage episode that’s why I’m setting “advanced / public” settings to “turn on network discovery” & “Turn on file and printer sharing” and just the opposite for the “private” settings. ... I suppose it’s like in the golden groves of academe and google et al, the ethernet is the internet and therefore public, and I suppose the wi-fi is the private network just because of leftover binary stupidity. I’ve never figured-out any way to set or change their public/private status because of Usux™’s fungus-like stupidity. ... And then, just in case I thought I knew something, a different Win10 crate had usux™ed both the wireless & enet to public. ... So I guess I’ll just be singin’ a song side by side with my psychotic usux™ cutey. ... I googled “changing network public private” and found some chitter claiming to do that and maybe I’ll look into it someday. Of course it’s undoubtedly 10 or twenty minutes old and will be totally inapplicable....

5/18. One stormy night on the road my beloved told me to

  • Right-lick on the wifi thingey on the taskbar.
  • “Open Network & Internet Settings”
  • “Status”?
  • “Change Connection Properties”

and that had public/private radio buttons. But I couldn’t check it then. .... 9/19. And it turned-out she really meant

  • Click on the wifi thingey on the taskbar to bring up the little list of wifis & whatnot.
  • Then right-click on the wifi of your dreams, properties, and a beautiful random menu shows-up =>.
  • But I still haven’t figured-out how to do my beloved ethernet that way.
  • And of course this recipe only works on Windows 10.

But then again, apparently the first one worked too — of course only on windows 10 and without any ethernet properties. ... So my sledgehammer approach of setting both the public and private networks to come-on-in open-house still seems the only workable route.

  • Windows 10 of course trashes my the network settings whenever it updates, in this case Sat 11/4/17. I couldn’t tell how long the fall creators f-up took, because of course my internet monitors reported it absent for at least half an hour. Although to be sure, it still pinged. I suspect it was the “everything”, at least after I did that it sprang to life again. Whewww. ... 5/15/18: The April upf--k: definitely “everything”. Such fun! So stupid! Too bad about usux™ progammers early toilet training. ... 5/17/18: a different win10 laptop got upf--ked....

10/29/18: Another usux™ Win10 upf--k, another network wipe. It’s consistent. ... And they put a cute little Edge browser icon on my desktop, Heaven help the poor idiot cretins. ... And of course destroyed winhlp32....


And never forget that the computer of course may be broken. I was agonizing over a crate I could ping occasionally. Since it’s Windows, I of course assumed it was counting the names of God very slowly with its tiny antiquated CPU, or perhaps trying trying trying to connect to the upgrade tit of all broken upgrades and the glorious Windows 10,[1] which I had strictly forbidden — but no! ... I managed to hook-up a USB ethernet thing — used the one that came with an installation CD, remember those? — and all is forgiven and everything works perfectly of course.

I Serenely Countenance Utter Chaos

I should make it clear that I have no clue as to how why or if any of this stuff works, and/or what horrible effects it has on anything. I want my ethernet and I will not be stymied by some stupid security junk or foolish modérne operating system. Your experience will undoubtedly involve dramatic fiery explosions and chaos.... And be sure to see latest creative effdate news....

— the kindly feckless programmer


1. WIN10 PEER-TO-PEER ETHERNET LOCKDOWN? At Fri 5/6/16 I went “cacls c:\ /E /G Everyone:F” in a windows 10 admin command-line, the system replied “access denied”, and indignantly closed the window in a huff. I managed to activate the super-secret hidden “admin” account, and it also “access denied”, but didn’t close the window. These things of course worked as well as they ever do in windows 8 and other previous Usux™ atrocities. // But @ 9/16/16 all is forgiven and my hand-me-down Win10 laptop executed the command without tears or hysteria. ... This was most likely the evil McAfee syndrome....


My successfully ethernetted Win10 system was not my previous upgrade failure, where I attempted to let usux have its head and convert a derelict windows 8 laptop into the glorious windows 10. ... No, it was a laptop that came with the exalted Windows 10 — always a more likely prospect in my limited experience, where, since Windows 98, all Usux™ OS upgrades have failed. ... And in my years before the mast, it is typical Usux™ behavior with a new operating system to have super-high new gobbledygook levels, and in a few weeks or years or whenever Windows 10.37™ comes along it might get fixed, but of course they’d really prefer you install a Windows $erver product, $9,995 at your local extortion outlet. ... So @ 5/16 the derelict Lenovo “yoga” laptop got wiped back to its marginally-more tractable Windows 8 — I’m actually surprised Windows 10 didn’t annihilate the Lenovo hidden partition where the “restore” OS/malware was kept — but my latest Windows 10 hand-me-down soldiers-on @ 9/16 ethernetting away serenely....

SAD 4/1/17 (appropriately) UPDATE aka MCAFEE IS EVIL

So Windows 10 regressed. At least, a brand new beautiful Lenovo desktop wouldn’t let me cacls the rut. I could cacls/share various subdirectories, but of course this is pretty-much useless in a network if the directory structure doesn’t work. And it doesn’t.

... I began to doubt any Windows 10 system ever worked, at least rut-cacles-wise, but then I found it (“asus7” is my network name, for my future reference), with the mouse-pad tapping totally enabled — it’s an asus after all — but drive c: still visible on the network....

But Wait! ... Oh precious glorious victory!?!?!

  1. I uninstalled McAfee (!?!?!) — I was trying to copy psexec.exe, a supposedly super mumbo-jumbo command-line system fixit thing from Russinovich/System Internals/Microsoft, McAfee balked, and after I told it to stop bothering me, I then uninstalled McAfee. Which I always do anyway, and use Windows Defender (or MSE in the old days) but I just hadn’t gotten around to it. That might be the charm....

  2. Administrative window (I think)

  3. “Takeown /F c:\*” [I’m pretty sure this didn’t do anything, but?]

  4. “Takeown /F c:\” [I’m pretty sure this didn’t work before]

  5. “cacls c:\ /E /G Everyone:F” [i.e. the usual — AND IT WORKED!]

And it DIDN’T GO “access denied” as it did 37 times before. ... I’m betting on mcafee; it wanted to help....

Evil McAfee

I like the Evil McAfee theory better every minute; I’ve despised McAfee ever since the days when I had to obtain nuclear fission materials to dislodge the vile pestilence from Windows, and the founder’s subsequent psychopathic lunacy didn’t improve its reputation. ... And it explains so much: my recurrent experiences of trying to cacls the rut and failing, but eventually somehow mysteriously succeeding. Which I’d attributed to Windows’ reckless updates, but now that I ponder, fits perfectly the essentially random McAfee uninstallation. I mean I’d always uninstalled it eventually, of course.

... And the single Windows 10 laptop that didn’t balk? It was one I didn’t wipe when I received it from the local hand-me-down source, who had already uninstalled McAfee! As everybody does, except the pitiful ignorant victim class. ... And the Windows 10 upgrade I did, which exhibited the rut-access balk? — I hadn’t uninstalled McAfee, which of course Usux™ had thoughtfully installed, even in the upgrade, because Usux™ wants people to be safe in a wonderful safe cuddly world....

And it’s probably why I couldn’t change the supplied “WORKGROUP” to the chic “OWENLABS”; it was grayed-out. A setting which is completely without effect in the wonderful windows world of today, and which became malleable aprés McAfee. ... But that and the stupid rut uncaclsness were probably major malware threat avoidance strategies in the days of Windows 95....

Windows 10 Creators-Effdate

And then my beloved Windows 10 system did its beloved Creators Update — or maybe it was just the Practicing-for-Creators Update, or just routine Usux™ chaos — it’s the one where the control panel disappears — and of course it reset all the precious things I described above. Back to safe secure zero ’cause you won’t want the wittle little user to get hurt do you nasty ol’ bad blah. ... It reset my thing where I switch the caps/control, and reset all the network settings so they were nice and pure and useless, yes it did! ... I’m amazed it didn’t reinstall McAfee.... But the LOL showed me how to get back the Control Panel by begging cortana or search or whatever it is; it vanished from the right-click stupid10 icon. ... In a 2nd atrocity, or of course it could’ve been a different one, there are so many in the Wonderful Windows 10, I think the crucial step was the advanced network sharing destruction I had to re-wrought, and perhaps just disabling the passwords near the end, which one must always do to use your network except in the approved totally-uselessUsux™ cute cuddly little tiny cute 9*&))))(*& (distant echoing pitiful screaming whimpering)....

Astronomy: the Telescopes, the Magazines

Hear my whine! As I commemorate the inspiring 4’’ Tasco’s final starry journey to the Goodwill and, for all I know, the landfill. ... Hear my pean, oh virtuous ones, before all others’ tasteful silence: of the oh so STEM-worthy astronomy racket; the beautiful magazines, and the useless telescopes....

Let me assure my high-minded readers the actual socialist government working astronomers toiling in the fields and vineyards aren’t all that telescopically gung-ho. Indeed, the central problem of the magazines’ telescope sales “model” is that hardly any expert ever looks through a telescope; nor even the well-heeled amateurs. ... Instead, like everyone else in our modern up-to-date vale of tears, they, and we, stare at decent computer images of beloved things. ... This is apparent from reading the magazines!

... But that doesn’t stop them from advertising exquisite inspiring instruments, or promising the breath-taking beauty of the stars. ... I was taken in, so many years since, about long-enough to get hold of a beautiful ’scope which is all the advertisers can hope for after all, and well worth it for them. And eventually, a few more, truth be told, but by the second it was mostly my bitter jest, and I’ve acquired occasional additional devices as the whim strikes, because they do look lovely, symbolizing all the might and majesty and fraud of our majestic frontal lobes and the liberal enlightenment that shapes them. ... And actually, real astronomers don’t even look at images so much anymore, but, again like everybody else, stare at & process computery junk, graphs, numbers, tables — odiously boring stuff — no beautiful majesty nothing except the precious ideas which, having no market restraint whatever, grow ever further from any rational context, exploring multiple universes and string theory and worse. ... And (crank crank) the magazines used to have a lot more amusing telescope/optics ads — but they are gone, to the starry frictionless effervescence of the internet I suppose; or nowhere, if there’s a difference....

The simpletons among us can always just go outside and look at the night sky. If it’s overcast and dimmed by light-pollution, as are most of our night skies at least here in the land of the free and home of the urban/suburban demographic, your beautiful telescope will work so much better (i.e. it’ll be more useless).

The Fundamental Scam

The bottom line is the sad and demoralizing scam I depict in the two pictures <-. ... There is doubtless some intellectual thrill apparent to the chosen, but the rest of us just see blobs. I will advertise this sad truth, but no astronomy magazine and no rabid astronomy fan; like all the great — and lesser — fads, fraud is the first rule....

Binocular Beauty

But I must say at least one of the magazines allowed, in a latter-day issue, how a lot of people just skip the ’scope and stare at the sky and/or use binoculars. This has always been a theme amongst the amateurs, but I detect an attitudinal lightening over the years. It used to be a good “kiddie wheels” type thing you poor sub-amateurs might do; now it’s admittedly something perfectly knowledgeable people do, if they feel like it. ... So I bought a pair of “astronomical” binoculars; they’ve gotten way cheaper since the good old days (it was ~$70 amazon). ... Supposedly I won’t see fuzzy blobs like the illustration, because the things aren’t designed to magnify that much, but I’ll still get my fill of light pollution and clouds. ... And then I realized later that these cheaper binocs are just the old-fashioned manual kind. I could still pay $500-and-up for the new “standard” image-stabilized flavor. ... It’s all so simple, once we understand....

Where Are We?

And then I remembered what finally happened to the astronomical delusions: the GPS in everybody’s phone. ... Since literally the dawn of mankind until a decade or so ago, one still-relevant excuse for the average youth to take up arcane star-gazing was because you could use it to find your way on a dark night. Even after radio location finding gadgets got cheap-enough for the average pleasure boat, youths could still get lost at night, and if the stars came-out, they could get found. This was never terribly reliable, what with weather and youthful tendencies, and indeed it’s so unreliable that the average cellphone’ll beat it. And did. And that’s all she wrote, leaving the field to the legions of “anti” cranks advocating starry location-finding “just in case”, old reliable long-division because you may not have one of those new-fangled calculators, sonny — and of course dressing your own meat in case of the universally-beloved zombie apocalypse....

NASA Inadvertently Comments

And this just in! It’s a really remarkable picture from this NASA site which probably might not be there next week, so I’ve preserved it forever for just me ’n’ you. It’s a “time-lapse ‘movie’ of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, recently shot at record-setting distances with the Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) on NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft”, and it looks exactly like my example blobs above. Amazing! Actually I scaled it down half; if you view the picture full size it’s even blobbier (in Firefox, I can right-click and select “View image” to do that). Of course it is zillions of miles away. ... But then, so are all the starry blobs....

Sky & Telescope Magazine!

They puff “an astrovideo camera [which] reveals objects in the night sky as unambiguous galaxies, nebulae, and star clusters, rather than as the vague smudges they often appear in an eyepiece” (Electronic Eyes, p 66, 3/16). Out o’ the mouths of babes....

— 4/16

The Passing Years

2/20. And then, on the occasion of purchasing another useless telescope, I realized the great historical sweep of astronomical BS, gathering steam in the 1920s up to the 60s & 70s, and characterized by the ability of the amateur astronomer to see better stuff through the telescope then in printed pictures — which was certainly true in the 20s/30s, but then grew less & less so, especially @ the advent of cheap color printing somewhere around the 80s/90s, when the magazines & then the web signed their own hobby death warrant by printing these ridiculous beautiful color pictures of stars ’n’ galaxies what no human being can see with the naked eye through any machine, no matter how powerful — well, unless it’s another digital gadget, as in a$trophotography, which is itself still easily outdone by stuff flying around in space. ... Such is the sorry history of the art & mendacity of astronomy, its rise & downfall....

Another Telecope: the Celestron 127EQ

2/12/20. I missed the tasco gaping at the empty ceiling, and in the wandering years low-rent telescopes’ve got smaller/cuter, I don’t know why, although falling demand is probably a factor. ... To accompany the mystery ’n’ magic I acquired a toy astrolabe, and I already have a beautiful sextant-in-a-box which I can deploy in the newly-designated astronomy empty-ceiling room. ... The telescope had a youtube set-up video which was better than the usual ludicrous pamphlet it came with, but still wrong. And I don’t like videos anyway.

... Just to round-out our all-encompassing tour, here’s a fellow who is fiercely negative about my beautiful meaningless symbol. ... He helpfully explains why it’s so cute. ... I bet he didn’t like the tasco either. ... But here’s a positive puff (complete with broken links) which is also depressing about collimation, but the other guy says it’s impossible. ... The positive guy has wondrous links if you wish to devote your entire life to your telescope — which apparently all decent telescopists do — I mean the negative guy’s got links too, some of which doubtless work.

The Purpose of Telescopery — Collimation. It turns out the big problem with my 127eq is its particularly difficult collimation, which is normally an easy-peasy process telescopists must perform every day if not every 15 minutes, and which is so simple it can never be explained in anything less than astounding quantities of opaque insiderist mumbo-jumbo, text and/or video. ... And astonishingly, the 127eq is even worse.

... Returning to my dreamworld, in life I lived on Long Island with an attic and a basement, and the telescope in the basement was particularly poignant. ... In paradise I have only one floor, so I have to try harder. ... And I apparently never realized what the equatorial mount was supposed to do. ... Or at least I was startled when I adjusted it to a “correct” 26° (?) latitude here in paradise, and the result was the ’scope’s rotatable axis pointing only a little above the horizon. ... Who knew? ... The “eq” mount is supposed to make it so one can use useless high magnification to see beautiful distant objects, and correct for the comparably-magnified rotation of the starry sky with relative ease, and which in paradise whirl around a point next to the horizon. ... Fortunately I had star walk on my ipad to lecture me about the location of the north star Polaris in paradise, so I don’t get clutched....

On the Level

But then, a final act of grace: I got a bubble level from amazon which attaches to the beautiful meaningless symbol magnetically, and it was already on-the-level — bubble right in the center. ... So all is well in the world & the skies....

Wild Popularity

And then the American Science & Surplus fellows emailed me about a super bargain telescope Polaris 127MM what looked identical to my beautiful symbol of triumphant science except for the disgraced bankrupt “Meade” logo what is right there on the tube, and only $10 more than my Amazon purchase!

... And then I noticed the included “erect image optics” 20mm eyepiece, really more plausible than the higher magnification 4mm thingey I just stuck in ’cause I found it first, and then I could look at trees! So I have looked through my kiddie-wheel can’t-collimate telescope. ... And the amazon price had gone down!

A Dissenting Voice in the Wilderness!

So this guy actually defends “pretty pictures”, in a Sky & Telescope web article. This is an advance over the until-now (as far as I know) omerta policy of total silence on the topic, and suggests that enough might-be astronomy fans have been p-ssed-off about this blatant deception that the practice must be pro-actively defended ... for a change. ... Fascinating as the novel admission is, I wasn’t interested-enough to log-in and point-out that the ultimate still-undisclosed purpose is fraud — to sell magazines, and telescopes, which obviously still-heretical sentiment shows-up nowhere in the lengthy comments....

The Universe at Last

Both of my telescope magazines — Astronomy and Sky & Telescope — are non-profits now, and in a vaguely celebratory mood I guess, what with the end of life as we know it in the covid plague, Astronomy’s got a slam-bang January cover topic what’ll fascinate us all. To my exquisite gratification, their knowledge is absolute and precise, although there is at least one pitiful picture caption somewhere in it which suggests that, hey, it could be totally different, you know? ... But I guess going non-profit has scuppered all that wandering unease about nobody knowing where all the dark matter’s got to.....

Stupid almost-dead Netgear™ Vuezone™

Netgear Vuezone is dead! ... My beloved 2011 Vuezone remote camera thingey knew me not @ Fri 9/18/15 — it said I wasn’t yet activated! And when I finally fought my way to the email “help”, it knew not my model “GW2010”. ... 1367 days it worked, more-or-less. But Amazon says “VueZone products have been discontinued and are no longer sold by NETGEAR”. And then @ 9/22/15, an Official Vuezone Email announces sadly that “VueZone services are currently unavailable” — which of course was the signal that it was working, at last. ... And the rule is, no official technical communication must ever tell the truth, no matter how incidentally. ... So they’ve been spamming me since then, supposedly because I haven’t responded to their thoughtful queries about my “support request” — you remember that one, the entire network was down for a week? ... So while I’m at it,

  • The $70 Foscam didn’t work, at least not in three hours of stupid software — and iPhone only, for those of you who love those queasy touchy keyboards.

  • D-link was better for a little while, with their $30 DCS-930L camera which did work. But recently (5/17) it’s been hard-crashing a windows 7 laptop I’m fond-of, and it’s probably obsolete anyway. And today 6/30/17 the service performs the endless “install updated driver” loop and never connects.

  • For a while, I thought “dropcam” was a Netgear product, and I’m still not absolutely certain it wasn’t, but today’s story is Google bought the independent dropcam and renamed it “nestcam”. My lazer-like geezer certainy was probably misled by some-equally in-the-dark Amazon commenter. ... Anyway, the new Netgear product, for which Netgear landfilled Vuezone, is the “Arlo”. ! ? ... And the “Nest” brand doesn’t have a wonderful reputation at least with me....

S--t-canned @ 12/17

The only amusing thing is while they announced the s--tcanning, they puffed whatever garbage they’re replacing it with, so you can get your next disappearing-in-the-night service. Good plan; excellent recommendation.

But then ...

At Wed 7/20/16, after “overwhelming feedback from our VueZone customers” — presumably legal threats — “we have heard your passionate response and have decided to extend service for the VueZone product line. Although NETGEAR no longer manufactures or sells VueZone hardware, NETGEAR will continue to support existing VueZone customers beyond January 1, 2018.” ... Which just goes to show that when you’re planning to kick the customers in the teeth, first detach in some legally-defensible way your offending entity and thoroughly bankrupt it. ... Which of course may yet happen with the beloved Netgear....

3/17: But I must report, after replacing a vuezone camera battery, the system still works much better than the d-link thing ever did. That’s of course why it was trashed. ... It doesn’t update itself every 15 minutes with new firmware — the caring feeling compassionate company will tell you they do that to keep you safe but I’m reasonably confident most of it’s desperate churning in an attempt to add new features / kill-off competition etc. ... The poor zombie Vuezone hasn’t updated its firmware in years....

5/17: And now, I just (5/17) went to amazon and looked for “Vuezone” and by golly, there it is, again, resurrected!

6/17: Oh well it’s still being discontinued. Hope sprang eternal. Amazon’s first 1-star review is the letter from Vuezone announcing the whole thing’ll just c--p-out @ 12/17.

You Want a Subscription

I know it seems hideous, but there are two alternatives:

  1. You just buy a camera with no additional fees, and then in a few years or minutes it stops working and they lie to you.

  2. You buy a camera with a subscription. Of course they still lie to you, but at least you can stop paying the subscription.

You gotta pay to play. There used to be delusional schemes where you’d set-up your wireless as a host so you could have all your computers converted into zombie slave robots of russian hackers colluding with trump and hillary, but the stupiditariat don’t advocate those much anymore....

A working camera we found is the one we could buy from our security service, to whom we pay $200/year. It’s a pretty good fish-eye color camera — far better than all my previous suspects, and sees in the dark — and has worked several times without updating anything.

— the video-loving programmer