Google search is really good

I read this article at the New York Times a while back, and I wanted to locate it again. I typed in a search query into Google:

trump covie-19 repeated warnings

Google first figured out that I meant “covid” rather than “covie” and then proceeded to list results, the first of which was the one I wanted.

Maybe that one was easy, and I have visited that page many times, but Google just keeps getting it right. I take it for granted, but it’s really amazing.

Posted in Internet, Technology | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Another day, another email scam

The latest scam seems to be emails that appear to come from me to me. The sender email is spoofed as my own. The spammer than makes the claim that they have hacked my email account and found all manner of nasty things on my computer.

The one today has the same premise but a different story line. For entertainment purposes only, here it is (reformatted for readability):

Hello, I work as a Private Investigator.

Our agency received a case with an objective of hacking into your email, phone, cloud storage, network and collecting intelligence. We work with hackers from China for tasks like that, and they are the best. As you can see, they did a good job. Your accounts and devices are compromised.

But we do have an ethical protocol in place. After checking the background of the person who paid for the hacking and investigation on you, I have decided to come forward and offer you to buy the information about that person (name, contacts, emails and other proof). You will also get a report on yourself (including a list of compromised accounts, devices, logs, screenshots, photos and documents). Normally, we do not disclose sensitive information about our clients, but in this case we will be.

Upon reviewing this case, I found that something illegal was planned against you. The materials we have collected on you are very sensitive and can be easily used to blackmail you. We usually address personal and corporate espionage cases, but this case is different.

We have received a prepayment of 50% for your case from that person (total agreed upon cost was 12500 USD). However, I will give you a discount (without any profit for the agency), if you decide to buy this information. After we get the payment, I will get back to you. You have 2 business days to make the transfer. It will cost you 40% of the unpaid balance.

We will process $2,500 payment through bitcoin. In case you have trouble with bitcoin, google how to fund it. Send BTC to this wallet [redacted]

It will be up to you what to do after you get the information. We will delete all files. The original client will get nothing and will never know about our deal. Please keep in mind, because I need to pay Chinese contractors, and if you decline this offer, I will have to go to the original client and send all intel to cover the costs. But at least you know that now and have a free heads up of what’s coming.

Reported to SpamCop of course.

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My New image

Initially this website was pretty lame.

Then I got a somewhat more streamlined version:

This one was quite nice, and going back and seeing this image, it reminds me of a photo that I would take not long afterwards on the Elbe River in Germany.

Technical problems, and the desire for something wider led me in 2012 to move to the WordPress 2010 theme.

I liked that image because sometimes when I’m trying to get to sleep, I imagine walking down a road like this (technically it was a dirt road in Alabama, and not as pretty as this). Anyway I was hoping to find am image of my own.

The current image is one I took at the Maymont Japanese garden in Richmond, Virginia. I have been to Japan and seen real Japanese gardens, but this photo seems to work well. Perhaps I may start cycling themes during the year.

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Tesla Full Self-Driving Computer

Tesla called.

My 2018 Model 3 was manufactured about 8 months before Tesla started including the Full Self-Driving (FSD) computer in all its cars. Those of us bought the FSD Capability option are entitled to an upgrade. My car came up on the list and Tesla called to schedule the installation. It will happen on February 3, and they say it will take most of the day. This should be interesting.

I’ve published a few “transition” articles here at Blog Or Die, and I’m going to chronicle this upgrade because it’s part of the transition from “not full self-driving” to “full self-driving.” I’ve found very little content on the Internet on the transition. There are YouTube videos about the upgrade process, but not about how the car behaves differently later. One video talks about the differences a little, bit it’s an old one (before Beach Buggy Racing 2) and the things he tested were totally uninteresting to me.

What I know now is that my current Hardware 2.5 computer is not capable of handling video from all 8 cameras; it only supports 4. The FSD computer is capable of adding the two front facing cameras and two side cameras also front facing. Cars with the FSD computer today have additional visualizations on the touch screen for traffic cones and traffic signals. I should start seeing those immediately. My first big question will be how well the FSD computer and the new neural net handle curvy two-lane highways, which represent half of my daily driving. Is it what I need to handle a few rough spots, or is that something I’ll have to wait for?

The upgrade has been finished. When I picked up the car the service person started to explain to me that the new computer had to be calibrated. I interrupted to say that I knew about that, that the car calibrated when it was new, and that it recalibrated when I replaced the windshield. He explained that this would take longer because more cameras had to be calibrated. I have read that the process requires driving 50-100 miles. Mine calibrated in about 10 miles.

I expected to be able to write a nice article on the new computer, but really there wasn’t much to say. Maybe auto lane change was a little better, but I’m not sure. It drives pretty much the same. I turned on visualization preview and the car displays stop signs, turn lanes, traffic lights, traffic cones and trash cans–lots of trash cans. I also got error messages: One said the left front fender camera was blocked, another said multiple cameras were blocked. Both went away. Tesla says not to worry, that the car is really OK. The message doesn’t necessarily mean that the camera is blocked, but that it could be blinded by bright lights.

One thing was different today. I drove a road segment that I drive frequently, and consistently, the car fails to make a sharp turn at one spot. Today the car made the turn, just running over the line into the oncoming lane a little bit, and then corrected. This bears further experimentation. Perhaps the car was just following the car in front this time.

So now, I’ll just have to wait for “feature complete” full self-driving and the rewrite of the neural network.

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Tesla voice commands

Tesla cars had a few voice commands, and a promise from Elon Musk that one day, almost everything could be controlled by voice. Well, Merry Christmas!

I was originally planning to compile a list of commands, but (silly me) a crowd sourced project encompasses everything I knew, and 10 times more. So here is the V10.2 Voice Commands List. There are about 100 of them.

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Mac & Cheese 1.0

I do love a good Mac & Cheese, but you never know what you’re going to get in a restaurant. Some of it is pretty awful, so I thought I would make my own, with the thought in the back of my mind of aiming for something like my mother made.

Mac & Cheese recipes abound on the Internet, but as I went through them, they had ingredients that I didn’t have, like condensed milk, canned Alfredo sauce and such. I decided to just make something without a recipe. Also those recipes were huge in quantity anyway. My wife is out of town, and I really don’t need to feed eight.

I chose to start with 8 oz of macaroni. I boiled that for 5 minutes (1 less than the minimum on the box directions) in a lot of salted water. While that boiled, I started a roux. I used 2 tablespoons of butter, melted in a pot on medium high heat into which I stirred 2 tablespoons of all purpose flour, stirring constantly with a wire whisk until the mixture started to brown. I then added 2 cups of 2% milk and some fresh ground black pepper, then continued to stir, adjusting the temperature to keep the mixture at a minimum boil. Then I stirred and stirred and stirred. Once the mixture started to thicken (stuck to the whisk), I added about a teaspoon of mustard powder and a little onion powder.

I put the cooked macaroni in a baking dish, but thought it was a little too much, so I put part of it in a ramekin. I microwaved some sliced Conecuh Sausage and added that to the macaroni (this can be purchased at grocery stores in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Southwest Virginia or online from Amazon or direct from Conecuh). Then I poured the roux over the macaroni and topped with a generous layer of grated 5-cheese mix I got at Costco.

Then I baked the whole thing for 35 minutes at 350 degrees F. I think less cooking would be OK. Now it’s done and cooling. It looks like this:

Update: It’s cooled enough to eat, and if I say so myself, it’s pretty good. I’d be proud to take this to a church dinner. I would make one change, omit the sausage. I really like Conecuh sausage and I think it adds flavor to lots of dishes, but in this case it slightly overpowered the subtle flavor of the macaroni. Next time I’ll cut the bake time to 30 minutes.

I miss Mom.

Version 1.1

Pastor Meredith preached about comfort this morning, and that reminded me of comfort food, which Mac & Cheese certainly is, so today for lunch I’m at it again. This time I made basically the same recipe without the sausage. I can always have sausage on the side 😉

The whole recipe actually fit in the one baking dish, so the ramekin wasn’t used. This time the cheese was all cheddar. We’ll see how it turns out.

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The Tesla “Dog Mode” bug story

It’s all over the Internet: Tesla’s “Dog Mode” has a serious bug; it doesn’t work if the AC fan is set to manual. One headline said “Musk vows to fix.” But is there really such a bug?

Dog Mode is a cool feature Tesla added to run the AC when no one is in the car. It displays a image of a dog on the touch screen along with the car’s interior temperature, so passers by won’t be worried about the pet. I’ve used it myself a couple of time and it worked great. Of course any responsible pet owner checks up on the temperature anyway with the Tesla App.

People love their pets, and any threat of them is big news.

It all started on Twitter.

Elon Musk replied with one word “fixing.” I don’t call that confirmation, but damage control, and a commitment to fix a bug if there is one, but here’s what’s on the Internet:

So what’s wrong with this story?

First it’s impossible. With the current version of Tesla firmware (I have 2019.24.4), you can’t put turn on Dog Mode with the AC fan set to Manual. When you turn on Dog Mode, the car automatically sets the fan to AUTO. I tried it. Further, if you do set the fan to Manual after turning on Dog Mode, it still works just fine. I turned on Dog Mode, set the fan to manual, exited the car and watched it cool to the set temperature on the Tesla App. I tested this on a 2018 Model 3 and a 2016 Model S.

None of those stories said anything about confirming it. I consider this highly irresponsible. Maybe there is a bug, but my cars don’t have it. Who knows? Certainly not all the writers of these articles.

Update: The “Fix”

Tesla is rolling out a “Dog Mode” improvement. I got mine today (Aug. 7) in firmware 2019.28.2 along with a Chess game, volume control improvements and game controller support for Beach Buggy Racing 2.

The “fix” is to disable the AC controls (except for temperature) when Dog Mode is enabled. I still haven’t figured out what the problem was is unless it was to prevent the driver from turning on Dog Mode, setting the AC fan to manual, and then lowering the fan speed so far that it couldn’t keep the car cool. I guess we could call this fix “idiot proof dog mode.”

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