More fake “IRS Notification” voicemails

I get these synthesyzed-voice fake “IRS Notification” voice mails from time to time, and decided to share them with you.

Here’s the MP3 recording (female voice) and here’s the transcript:

This is officer Catherine Richardson badge number FBi 0 0 2569 from the federal bureau of investigation this message has been sent to you as a final notification against your case with the department of tax and crime investigation right now your physical address is under investigation and an arrest warrant has been issued under your name for further queries and resolving this case contact the loan number of the tax and crime investigation department 561-2044 889 one I repeat 561-244-8891. Thank you.

And here’s a second one:
MP3 Recording (male voice) and transcript:

From criminal investigation division of irs the matter at hand is extremely time sensitive and urgent as after all that we found that there was a fraud and misconduct on your tax. Which you are hiding from the federal government this needs to be rectified mediate. Lee so do return the call as soon as you receive the message the toll free number is +1-866-978-6618. I repeat again one eight six six nine seven eight six. 618 thank you.

A third:
MP3 Recording (male voice) and transcript:

Revenue services you were under federal investigation because of the misconduct and suspicious activities in the audit report, so you need to call us back at 206-456-1825, and if we didn’t hear anything it would be taken as individual of penance from your side either call us back at 206-456-1825.

The PC Pursuit Net Exchange BBS, and my introduction to the Internet

I’m up late tonight, did some digging, and found the very first contributions I ever made to the Internet!

I grew up in Anadarko, Oklahoma – a small town of about 7,000 people, and the county seat of Caddo County. We weren’t close enough to have “local” calling to Oklahoma City, and there were no local BBS (Bulletin Board) systems that I could dialup with a modem and access – everything was long distance. That is, until I ran across a 1-800 number for Telenet’s PC Pursuit service. The pay-by-the-hour service let you call into a local number (if you had one) and connect to a remote modem bank in another city, from where you could make a local dial-out call to a BBS.

I couldn’t afford to actually use the service, but I found that dialing into that toll-free 800 number (using my trusty HP 110 “laptop” with 300 baud modem), tell it “C PURSUIT”, and connect toll-free to the “Net Exchange” BBS, run as a customer service and user forum. It also had some “general chat” sections – specific forums for C64/Amiga/Atari/PC, and one that was a gateway to/from the Usenet group comp.dcom.telecom. I was able to sign up for a user account on the system, and it became my only “online” hangout for 2-3 years.

After the HP 110, I “upgraded” to an Atari 520STfm and used with a Hayes Smartmodem 300, then later a 1200. The Atari subforum of the Net Exchange BBS was not very active, so I ended up “hanging out” in the Amiga section most of the time although I didn’t own one of the systems. A number of the guys there looked kindly on this 15-year-old in their midst, hatched a plan, and somehow got in touch with my mother. A couple of weeks later when I got home from school, there was a large box in the middle of the living room floor. Mom said, “It’s for you. Open it!”

The first thing I saw upon opening the box was a letter. It said something to the effect of “We couldn’t stand to see a bright kid with such potential, stuck using an Atari system. So, we got together, all pitched in, and got you an Amiga. All we ask is that in the future, when you’re able, that you do the same thing for some other bright young kid who deserves a decent computer.” They’d gotten me an Amiga 1000 with RAM expansion, sidecar RAM expansion, external second floppy disc drive, a BUNCH of software, and an adapter that let me use my Atari ST monitor until I could get something nicer.

I ended up using that system a TON during my last 2-3 years of high school; did my Pascal programming work in some version of Amiga Pascal, did character gen and titling work (using a VHS VCR hanging off the composite video out) for our local public-access-cable high school news show, and took the entire system to school a couple of times to show off this thing called “Multitasking” to other people in the computer classes. By this time I’d taken all of the computer courses my school offered, and ended up pretty much being the resident “fixer” and network/system admin guy in the labs for a good third of each day.

I dug around and found a couple of posts I made to comp.dcom.telecom (using the BBS gateway).
Click for full-size images.













The “Moderator’s Note” on the second post makes me grin, now. I actually got to meet Patrick Townson some time later (between 1991-93) when I attended the FBLA national convention in Chicago, after winning first in a programming competition at state level. He took me on an afternoon tour of the city, and I got to ride a subway for the first time! I ended up winning at state level three years in a row, and got to attend national conventions in Anaheim, Chicago, and Washington DC; placing in the top ten at nationals all three years.

I still rebuild/refurbish old systems whenever I can (at least 3-4 a year) in order to give computers to kids and families who are less fortunate. It’s the least I can do in return for those guys that took a chance and did a good thing for a rural Oklahoman hacker (and my mom who was raising two kids on her own).

Book Block – custom notebooks!

April 2016 Update: I was promised a notebook with custom artwork in exchange for helping promote this Kickstarter, but never received any response after submitting my artwork, or for any of the inquiries thereafter.

I came across this KickStarter for Book Block, offering custom printed Moleskine-style notebooks with cover art of your choice.

I’m ordering one (at a great price of around $16 USD each), and will review it here once it arrives.

Sr. Systems Admin Looking For Work

(Update: as of February 23rd, I am gainfully employed once again. Thank you for the emails and notes of encouragement!)

I don’t often bring personal matters onto the site, but I was affected by a “Reduction In Force” due to “Changing Market Conditions” and laid off from my employer of the past twelve years this past Wednesday. As a result, I’m looking for employment in the Houston area.

I’m Sun and Red Hat (RHCE) certified, have worked with all major flavors of UNIX and Linux, and am heavily versed in running infrastructure applications – Sendmail/Postfix, BIND/DNS, the LAMP Apache/MySQL software stack, shell scripting, building open source software from source code (or installing packages) and so forth.

I also have heavy experience working with NetApp network storage hardware and software, virtualization environments such as VMWare vSphere/ESXi and Linux KVM.

I “do Windows” as well and have experience with IIS, SQL Server, and Active Directory, in addition to integrating Windows and Linux environments using Samba and other third party tools.

Well, that was fun.

e89eb2739d317a3add03de4d2230566c_viewI’m still here! Just been very, very busy with a massive relocation project at work that started in April (although the planning began in 2013) and finally finished in early September.

We moved around 500 users, their associated desktop systems, multiple computer labs, and most of an entire-floor datacenter/server room from one facility (in multiple buildings) to a newly-remodeled/built-out area in another building about four miles down the road.

This all had to be done with a minimum of disruption to production systems, and at the same time I had to move our DNS and LDAP infrastructure from systems housed in that datacenter to VMs running at our corporate datacenters – so that it wouldn’t be affected by the move.

Lots of long hours, and then the final move phases itself – the first weekend I spent 32 hours at the office, and the weekend after that I was here for 22 hours. Then three days later my mother had surprise emergency heart bypass surgery and I had to spend a week in a hotel in Oklahoma City while she pulled through and started recovery.

However, all that’s done, and my insane stress level is slowly, slowly coming back down to normal now that the holiday season is here.

Why I read Baen Books

Inspired by Brad Torgersen’s “Why publish with Baen?” and Larry Correia’s “Why I publish with Baen, too”, here’s a side of the story from one of their readers.

I first encountered Baen Books in junior high school (late 80s), and started paying attention to the publisher “because the stuff they’re putting out is REALLY good”.

In 2001, I was bored, and encountered the Baen Free Library, and specifically, John Ringo’s novel “A Hymn Before Battle“. I gave it a shot, reading on my PC during lunch hour – and went to Book People (in Austin) that evening to buy the paperback.

I proceeded to start devouring everything I could by Ringo (one of the few authors who I would buy their works in hardcover, because I didn’t want to wait for the paperback), and by exposure through the Free Library, read other Baen authors. In most cases, I read one of their works through the BFL, then went out and bought the rest of the series in hard copy.

I started buying other Baen hardcover titles solely for the CDs inside the back cover, full of ebook versions of various Baen titles that weren’t up at the Free Library yet. You can still download most of those at The Fifth Imperium – thanks to Toni and company for allowing those files to stay online!

The majority of my book purchases are now electronic, and Baen is a publisher that I can trust with $15 for an e-ARC of the latest title from a favorite author, knowing that it’s NOT going to suck – and that it’s DRM-free so I can convert and read it on any device I want. While there’s been one or two titles over the years that have been sub-par, mostly where a new fledgling author has taken over an established series from a major author’s outline, those have openly been acknowledged by the main author and promised better results in the future. I’ve never been outright unhappy with any title I’ve bought from Baen.

My wife unfortunately passed away in 2009. The first time I laughed and smiled after that was while reading a passage in one of Ringo’s “Legacy of the Aldenata” novels. I wrote up a quick blurb, explained why, and sent my thanks to Mr. Ringo. I never expected to hear back from him, but I did! It wasn’t much, but it was one of those little things that inspire loyalty in fans. Five years later, my last name was even used for a very minor character in one of his latest books! As I said, tiny little things, make a huge difference.

Through John Ringo I discovered Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter International and sequels. Bought the ebook, ordered a signed paperback and a few MHI patches, and was overjoyed to have direct communication with Larry a few times. Got at least three friends hooked on the series as well.

What struck me most was that I’ve *never* gotten a “I’m the big author, you’re just a reader” vibe from any of the Baen authors (or Toni, the publisher, who has directly commented on a couple of my Facebook posts talking about Baen) in communications. Larry comes across as an aw-shucks guy who likes his guns and just happened to get lucky with a story he wrote. MANY books later – he still has that same attitude, as do most of the Baen authors I’ve encountered.

Through Larry I’ve now discovered Brad Torgersen, and have become a fan of his work as well and look forward to his book coming out on Baen later this year.

As a kid in junior high (I’m 39 now) I never thought that I could have near-instantaneous communication with the authors and publisher of most of my favorite books. This post explains but a tiny few of the reasons why I’ve been a Baen fan for more than twenty-five years, and why I don’t plan on that stopping anytime soon.

falling in love with my wife, v2.1

This was originally a post on the “Geeks” mailing list from May 2002, archived here

Amy passed away suddenly in June of 2009, from complications caused partially by PCOS.

If you or your loved ones have sleep apnea or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, please get proper medical diagnosis and treatment.
It can change (and save) your life.

Warning: long sappy story ahead. Ignore if you’re more concerned about NFS packets or OpenGL acceleration.

Over the past week, I’ve fallen in love with my wife, for the second time.

I met Amy in February of 1998. We met on an IRC channel, and were also both members of a mailing list I ran at the time (SWGoths; a group that I am no longer associated with). Anyway, we ran into each other on IRC. I was a server operator at the time, and almost /killed (disconnected) her because I thought her nickname (TurtleX) was a bot (automation).

Luckily for me, I hesitated. She handed me a cookie. Things went downhill from there. 😎 (just kidding)

We’ve been together since 1998. For all of that time, we’ve basically been married in each other’s eyes, but we only officially did all the paperwork and exchanged rings, etc, just a bit over a year ago (March 31st, 2001, in Chattanooga, TN). Only difference really is that we have rings now and if we ever get divorced, she gets half my shit. 😎

Anyway.. For the past couple of years, behind the scenes, things ain’t been going so well in Bradfordland. We went from starcrossed lovers fucking like wild monkeys, to basically being roommates that happened to sleep in the same bed. People talk about the spark going out – well, this one was hit by a full load of halon. We fought. (about everything.. money, cars, stuf she wanted, stuff I wanted… everything). Nothing ever seemed to help. We were both cranky. As I said, basically we just shared a house.

In February 2001, things started to get better. I was diagnosed in late November 2000 with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which explained my LOUD (not just loud, but LOUD – the sleep study tech called it “Extreme”, and they see people snoring for a living) snoring, so bad that Amy had started to sleep in a separate room. It also explained my constant being exhausted – I would sleep 12 hours, but then get up and fall asleep in the shower, or while typing. Nothing more embarrasing than the head of your department at work waking you up because your head is on your keyboard and its beeping and everyone around you is looking into your cube…

Anyway.. I was diagnosed with sleep apnea. They called it “severe”. Normal diagnosis.. Sleep apnea is when you have 4 to 7 “events” (obstruction of breath, stopping of breath, etc) an hour. Insurance kicks in and pays for treatment at 47 events/hour. They “clocked” me at 112/hour. I was getting NO (none at all) REM sleep, and got down to 87% oxygen blood saturation (where normal is 98% or so). This had been going on as long as I could remember, but started getting extreme (the exhaustion) around 1998.

In February 2001, they finally got the insurance bit sorted out, and put me on a CPAP (constant positive air pressure) mask. This is basically a mask that I wear over my nose (or with two “nozzles” inserted directly into my nostrils, making a seal) that blows pressurized air (12cm) into my airway while I sleep at night, keeping it open and letting me breathe normally. Not only does this stop my snoring, but it lets me get full deep REM sleep, and get rest “like a normal person”. The first night i was on it, Amy came in to check on me three or four times, fearing that I was dead because she didnt hear ANYTHING – no snoring, etc, at all. Thats how different it was. I slept four hours that first night, and got up feeling like I was on crack and had drank a pot of espresso. Everything was bright and shiny again. I had energy. I could live life again.

I’ve been on CPAP since then. Minor annoyance at times, but we’ve gotten used to it, and its worth it. I dont care if I look like darth vader at night – I can sleep, and that makes it worth it. The reason I mention it is an example of how something very relatively simple can make a HUGE change in someone’s life.. Modern medical technology is a great thing. We’ll both tell you that – read on for the other side of the story.

On to Amy. Things were fine after we met.. for a while.. Then, she started to get cranky. Irritiable. Downright bitchy and mean occasionally. we’d have bad fights – but nothing that would make either one of us leave; we’re both too stubborn for that. We’d be screaming at each other, then ten minutes later, “hey, lets go for ice cream… ” “okay!” However, despite the good times, we had just as many bad times.. caused by a lot of things, from my bad habit of spending too much time on the computer, to being cranky in the mornings, to her being self-centered and bossy and demanding. We got married a year ago, after I got on the CPAP, but that didnt solve things – we still fought, but not as often.. discontent was still present. We got married because we both love each other – we both knew SOMETHING was wrong, but didnt know what it was or how to go about fixing it. We both believed that whatever it was, we could find it and fix it.

The discontent wasnt restricted to here at home – it flowed out onto the mailing lists (or whatever/whoever was the nearest target) as well. You’ve seen it – one minute Amy would be fine, and the next minute she’d be mean, viciously ripping someone to shreds over a tiny insignificant detail. I chalked it up to “amy just being amy”, she would be like “hey, I’m honest, fucking deal with it, I’m not going to change.”

Two months ago, however, things started to explain themselves. Amy went to a doctor for strep throat. The nurse who saw her took a look at her and asked if Amy had ever heard of or been diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). She said no, she’d never heard of it, and never been looked at for it. An appointment was made with a local endocrinologist to have some exams and tests done.

(in short, they sucked, so she went to a different doctor..)

On May 5th, the second set of test results came back from the labs. More or less, they ruled out everything severe, and confirmed what the adult nurse had suspected from ten seconds of looking at her and one line on a medical chart – Amy had PCOS.

PCOS is more or less an endocrine disorder. She doesent get enough estrogen (female hormones) in her system. Therefore, the testosterone that is in her system (yes, women have it too, just not as much as men) dominated her personality. Instead of being nice and sweet and feminine, she was a raging pissed-off bitch. Without the estrogen to “balance” things out, she was basically having permanent eternal PMS. This went on for decades before a kind nurse saw something and made a suggestion. That kind suggestion ended up changing her life – and mine too – for the better.

The endocrinologist put her on a standard normal cycle of birth control pills, which has balanced out and returned her hormone levels to “normal”.

Within 48 hours of her getting on these pills, it was amazing. She was COMPLETELY different. I even asked her once, “Okay, who are you, and what have you done with my wife?” She was SO nice, SO different from before, that I got paranoid. I was convinced that she was just being nice to me for some other reaosn, that she wanted something or was hiding something. Good to say,I was totally wrong. 😎 The Amy that I remembered, that I had originally fallen in love with four years ago, was back. She’s nice. She’s kind. She greets me at the door after work with a hug and a Coke with ice. Heck, she doesent even yell at the pets anymore! She says that now its hard to get mad – when before, something even minorly out of whack would cause her to completely fly off the handle without reason and be a raging bitch. From talking about things, apparently when we first fell in love, the endorphins served the same function as estrogen – and “masked off” the anger and temper she had.. so when we “settled down”, that went away, and she was no longer “balanced”…. Mentally, figuratively, physically, everything.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve fallen in love with my wife all over again. Its like a different world – she’s less grouchy; in return I’m less grouchy. We get along better. We TALK A HELL OF A LOT MORE. LOTS more. We laugh. We cuddle (yeah, like you wanted to know that). We go driving around just to explore. I teach her about cars (soon to be stick-shift driving lessons) and old 1970s computers. She teaches me about her favorite music.

Its an entirely new world. Its amazing. THE SUN IS SHINING AGAIN. I’ve fallen back in love with my wife. She’s fallen back in love with me. Things couldnt be much better at this point, I think.

I know in the past that Amy’s temper has caused some “dissention in the ranks” here on the geeks list (and rescue too, for that matter). People have unsubscribed, or been forcibly unsubscribed, because of her pure anger on what should be minor debates or fun discussions. I dont blame them – keep in mind that I had to LIVE with it from day to day, and not just in email. I had stuff thrown at me (fortunately, her aim sucks!) 😎 (had to replace a couple of remote controls, though..)

I know these are “my” lists. I know that I can do whatever I want with them. However, you guys (and gals) are a community. I value this community, because I dont have many friends – you people are my friends and family. I value your opinions and thoughts.

I’ve come to ask. Would anyone mind if Amy comes back on the geeks and/or rescue mailing lists? I miss her commentary, and female point of view on a lot of the things we talk about. I talk to her every day – but enjoyed her being on the lists as well. I promise you that her blinding furious anger is GONE now – she’s a completely different person (and will freely admit this to anyone who asks).

I’m asking as another list member, not as the guy who runs everything. I dont consider myself a dictator, or anything like that – I just happen to be the person whose machine everything is hosted from.

So, what do you say? Thoughts, comments, anything, appreciated. Please feel free to let me know, either here, or private email.

Thanks for listening to my huge long 160-line rant. Other than Amy, you people are some of my only friends.


(footnotes: and, for more information on our conditions..)

Best spam I’ve gotten all week

This made me laugh for a good five minutes. Very obviously scraped from Facebook page titles.

Date: Fri, 7 Jun 2013 20:49:34 +0530
From  Fri Jun  7 10:31:16 2013
From: Shirley Jones <>
Subject: Launching Bill's Online Backup - Potential Partnership


My name is Shirley Jones- and I'm trying to get in touch with the person at Bill's Massage Parlor and PC Repair who supervises the selection of new products Bill's Massage Parlor and PC Repair offers its customers. SOS specializes in helping businesses like yours launch a fully managed and rebranded offsite backup service for your customers.  E.g. Bill's Online Backup.

Thoughts on Kickstarter

I’ve found that the more over-funded a Kickstarter project is, the higher the probability that delivery of perks and products will be delayed or have problems.

In my experience over the past two years, I’ve seen a number of Kickstarter projects I funded where the project creators got bogged down after deciding to add features not originally specified at the time of funding, or continually “tweak” features that then result in delay after delay.

Looking through my backing history, some examples (out of 56 total projects backed):

  • Honey Badger BBQ sauce: first run had bacterial problems. Had to send out new batch months later.
  • Electricity | The Life Story of NIKOLA TESLA: “Oh, that perk you chose, is out of production, if you want something equivalent to it you’ll have to send even more money”. Nope.
  • L8 SmartLight The SoundLess Speaker: “Ooops, we forgot about CE/FCC certification…”
  • NeuroDreamer sleep mask: “Oops, battery problem.” Funded July ’12, finally shipping June ’13?
  • Ouya: ETA was March ’13, now it’s 3 months later and I finally have a tracking number.. we’ll see.
  • HexBright – funded July ’11, upgraded model delivered Feb. ’13.
  • IronBuds earbuds: Funded Aug. ’11, sent “freebie” 3-piece earbuds Sep. ’12, still haven’t sent the 6-piece IronBuds originally advertised as rewards.

The projects that I’ve seen with the quickest “fulfillment” and so forth? Custom sets of playing cards.