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Randsco News

It takes time to create blog entries and not everything that happens, merits an entry. So, we've created this 'news' section, to keep readers up-to-date with our misadventures and accomplishments. Read about it here FIRST, before it makes it into a blog entry.

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Dear Facebook

May 21st, 2013  · stk

NewsBrief: [Dear Mark Zuckerberg] Why Facebook fails when it comes to malware or malicious software detection. Warning users not to download and run software from untrusted sources is good. Forcing users to download and run software from Facebook, in order to log-in again, is bad.

news

Open Letter to Facebook

Dear Mark Zuckerberg - I thought I would write to you Mark, since you are both the creator of Facebook and its public face (even though I know that it has grown and there's no way you can put your personal stamp on everything). I am writing to let you know of an ironic problem with your service, which I have come to utilize on a nearly daily basis (congrats on making something so relevant and useful).

What the system needs to know is that using a URL-shortening service (which takes long, ugly links and make them appear shorter) does not mean that I have a virus on my personal computer. Seriously. I am a web developer. I know a thing or two about malware, viruses and SPAM. A tad more than your Facebook service does ... like ... a LOT more.

So, when I reply to someone with two sentences and add a shortened link (e.g., http://fe.gd/wIk) it is not malware or SPAM, nor does it indicate that my personal computer is infected with a virus.

I have tried to tell you this many times before. When the system said: "Warning: The link you are trying to use has been blocked because it looks like malware, SPAM or may contain a virus. If you think this message is in error, please contact us" (paraphrased). Countless times I explained that a shortened URL is not SPAM, malware or imply a local virus infection. Obviously, the time I spent doing this was wasted.

It used to be that when Facebook "detected" SPAM or malicious content, it would degrade gracefully, suggesting that I check my computer for virus, but offer an opportunity to reclaim my account. No longer is this the case. This morning when it (again erroneously) assumed that a shortened URL was malicious content or a computer virus, I was ungraciously logged off of Facebook and led down a garden path. When I logged in, I see the following message:

For security reasons your account is temporarily locked

Unfortunately, your computer may be infected with a virus.
Don't worry. We'll help you find and remove any infected files right away.

 

Hitting the "Continue" button yields an ironic message:

How you might have been infected

Often, users who are infected with malware are tricked into running a malicious program, which infects their machine with malware. Remember, you should never run programs from sources that you don't trust.

 

The irony, of course, is what happens on the very next screen. Your system - after warning users never to run programs from sources they don't trust - ironically says I have a virus and (as an the only option) must download and run some software, in order to proceed! LMFAO!

I mean, we all TRUST Facebook, right? (How many SPAM "Farmville" notifications have I received, applications that post my personal information to "friends" or other untrustworthy behavior? ... TOO MANY!) But now, I'm supposed to believe Facebook when it says I have a virus and that I should download and run software that it CLAIMS is from McAfee? What a ridiculous proposition! (Especially given the message on the previous page!) Asking visitors to download and run software that is claimed will "fix" your personal computer is the oldest SCAM on the internet (next to cheap medications and promises of making millions while working at home)! LOL

Mark, where's this option: "The Facebook system screwed up, I swear I don't have a virus on my local computer and can I PLEASE just log into the account I was happily in 5 minutes ago?"? Pity it no longer exists and instead you force users down some shady garden path.

No, not pity ... more like PITA

I mean, I'm glad you partnered up with McAfee and everything, but (a) IF I thought I had a virus (which I do not), I'd pick TrendMicro or BitDefender as my scanning solution, not McAfee and (b) I don't have a virus and it is your bloody Facebook system that's the hang up here ... so don't shove software at users they don't want it (or trust it), sending them down a work-flow path that is both time-consuming and (in the case of shortened URLs) completely unnecessary. Your user's time is more valuable than you give it credit.

On the other hand, I waste too much time on Facebook anyway. Maybe I should thank you for locking me out of Facebook for no reason! I need to refocus energy on my blog anyway! :p

Sincerely, A User who got shortened out of Facebook

PS - Though I tried renaming my personal computer, clearing my cache (and my cookies) ... I could not log into Facebook. (Hmmm, I should try a different browser - Edit: Switching browsers worked! Must be a browser-dependent virus then, eh Mark? LOL). Maybe I'll just wait and see how long it takes until Facebook assumes my PC is "magically cured". LOL.

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Johnstone Strait Sea Kayaking

September 2nd, 2012  · stk

NewsBrief: [Kidless Kayaking] Scott & Rachel took advantage of the fact that Alex is off with her maternal grandparents, visiting Watch Lake & riding horses with her cousins. They went on a 5-day sea kayaking trip, leaving from Telegraph Cove and paddling down Johnstone Strait and out to the Indian Group.

johnstone strait sea kayaking adventure - black bear

Paddling the Wild Life

Rachel & Scott just returned from a 5-day sea kayaking trip in the Broughton Archipelago area of Johnstone Strait. Wildlife was amazing! lots of orca, humpback whales, porpoises, black bear, bald eagles, sea lions, harbor seals and ... even a grey wolf (fleeting view) ... plus they were serenaded by the wolf as they packed up camp!

"Best sea kayaking trip so far!" exclaimed Rachel.

Paddling Area

Full journal and pictures coming soon. In the meantime, you can listen to the grey wolf (2-3 min recording made in camp). Haunting! (This grey wolf showed himself on the rocky, fog-shrouded bluff, near our campsite on the northern side of Crease Island. He darted for the woods and then serenaded us for the better part of 40 minutes, while we packed up camp. We cobbled together this 2-3 minute audio recording for your listening pleasure.)

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Updated: 8-Oct-2012
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New Year Speed

January 5th, 2012  · stk

NewsBrief: [Need for Speed] We're in the middle of revamping our website so that it's much speedier to access (links to tools & techniques) • [Happy New Year] What's planned for 2012 (besides finishing a myriad of projects)?

Need for Speed

Maidenhead, England - Those who follow Randsco.com know that news has been slow-coming during 2011. In an effort to get 2012 off to a good start, we've been busy working behind-the-scenes. One of the areas of focus over the past few days has been website page speed. You can say, "We've felt a need - for speed!"

Ironically, this blog hails not from Canada, but from England (randsco.com is currently hosted on an Apache server in Maidenhead, a tad west of London). Hopping over the pond - even electronically - isn't the fastest connection, but thankfully, electrons move quickly! The server location speaks more to economy, than speed (read: We're lucky and are currently hosted for free).

Despite the electronic distance, there's still lots we can do to help speed up our website. This past week, we've been busy learning about all these nifty things ... and putting many into action. Here's the big list:

We've also found some nifty tools that help to evaluate page load speed. We use Pingdom to monitor server uptime. We learned they also offer a free tool for testing the load time of a web page (includes a waterfall diagram, performance grade, page analysis & keeps a history chart).

Another good tool is Site Load Test. This no-nonsense tool quickly shows areas that can be improved, to make websites load faster (identifies potential savings from minify'ing CSS, JavaScript and combining small images to make CSS sprites ... reducing the number of server calls).

All good stuff and part of our commitment to positive visitor experience. (We ALL hate slow-loading websites!)

Randsco.com ... it's a work "in-progress", eh?

Happy New Year!

Hutton House - We want to wish everyone a healthy, happy and prosperous 2012!

On that note, we took stock of our own situation right after the new year. Alex and Scott started the New Year by being sick! Joy.

Scott also quickly realized that he started off the New Year behind on most everything. (Rachel might say he started it of as a "big behind", but I digress).

The list of Scott's unfinished projects is long:

  • Rental trailer renovations
  • Chicken coop renovation
  • Pumphouse reno
  • Kitchen reno
  • Utility room reno
  • Woodshed #2 construction
  • Camper improvements
  • Upstairs bath reno
  • Hot tub / deck
  • Raised bed garden(s)
  • Orchard & watering system
  • Firebox heat ducting
  • Boat repairs
  • Auto repairs
  • Kayak repairs

The list goes on and on!

Of course, this is all on top of maintenance, yard work, fire wood gathering, fire hall duties, at-home dad duties (cooking, cleaning, homework, etc), chicken farming, website work, blogging (who has time for THAT?) and "me-time" (rinse, repeat)!

So ... what resolutions for 2012? It may be the year of "finish stuff"? ... or maybe ... the year of "don't worry - be happy"? Scott is hoping for a bit of both, including more time to enjoy life & update the blog.

We're all hoping for a little less death in 2012. (2011 was bad in this regard, as we lost Scott's grandmother, a business partner and friend, our trailer renter & our cat of 19 years.) :(

Do you have any New Year resolutions?

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Broken Arm Update

June 22nd, 2011  · stk

NewsBrief: [After Six Weeks] An update on Alex's broken-dislocated arm, after her bicycle crash on May 7th. It's been six weeks and the bones appear to have mended, but the news from the doctor isn't that great.

After Week Six

Hutton House - The bones appear to be mended, but the elbow still looks 'fat' and the ROM is still not 100%.

Reporters gathered on the Randsco campus on Tuesday, to celebrate the summer solstice and to find out how Alex was doing after she suffered a fracture & dislocation of her right arm in a freak bicycle accident, in early May.

"I'm fine," she told the assembled group, holding up her right arm (still bent at a slight angle).

"As always," reported mom, "her spirits are good, despite the fact that she still looks like she has a 'broken wing'.

Alex crashed her bike into a steep ditch on May 7th. Her parents rushed her to the emergency centre at Nanaimo Regional Hospital, where she was prepped for surgery only a few hours later. Dr. Malone performed a closed reduction, while Alex was under a general anesthetic. The fractured bit of bone seemed to "fall back into place", so Alex was placed in a tensor bandaged 'half-cast' for a week. The cast came off after a week and she was encouraged to 'use her arm'. At about week three, it was evident that Alex was not regaining full motion in her arm. The doctor prescribed physio-therapy, where they measured her loss of range of motion at 55%. Working diligently the past 3 weeks, (joylessly) doing prescribed exercises, Alex made rapid gains - 20% on contraction and 15% on extension.

Unfortunately, just after six weeks, Alex has hit a tad of a 'brick wall' on her ROM. It seems that she's lost about 15% of extension and cannot straighten her arm, despite exercising.

Dr. Malone's take?

"That's just the way nature works. It's a functioning arm, so it just might be something that she has to learn to live with."

Say What?

Parents were disappointed to hear this news and thought it was poor bedside manner to give up so soon and also to plant seeds of doubt in such a young, bright mind.

"The doctors might be giving up," Scott told reporters, "but we're not!"

Scott plans on building a pull-up bar on the Randsco campus, from which Alex can hang. Hopefully, using her body weight will help to gain back that last 15% of extension.

"Nooooo!" Alex said, reacting to the perceived pain of stretching her tendons.

Alex doesn't like working her arm and she seems to have adapted to its limited range of motion. For starters, Alex is a 'lefty' and it was her right arm that was broken, so she doesn't use it as much as she would if she were right-handed. The pain of the break and dislocation is also fresh in her mind and she winces each time Rachel or Scott assist with 'exercises'. Stretching tendons reminds her of this pain and she holds back and whines.

"Her arm is still really 'fat' too," said Rachel, "The physio-therapist told us that the size of her elbow will gradually diminish, over the next six months or so. Alex took a very serious blow and there's still lots of swelling and irritation."

"Thanks to everyone that has wished Alex a speedy recovery," added Scott. Members of the North Cedar Fire Hall, where Scott volunteers, bought Alex a book on "How to Draw" and sent a (Shaw Cable) "Care Bear" stuffy. Members of our local Credit Union sent Alex a get well card and "Penny the Owl" goodies. Alex's "Fairy God Mother" in Seattle asks after Alex on a regular basis and sends hugs over the Internet. Grandparents, Uncles, Aunts and great-Aunts have all sent cards.

"Alex is doing fine, but we're not quite out of the woods yet," said Scott.

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Bike Crash Update

May 27th, 2011  · stk

NewsBrief: [Bike Crash Update] It's been nearly three weeks since Alex broke her arm in a freak bicycle accident. Here's an update on her progress ...

After 20 Days

Alex with her broken arm in a cast

Hutton House - Twenty days ago, Alex crashed her new bicycle into a ditch near the house. It wasn't a particularly steep ditch, nor was it filled with big boulders (like further up the roadway). She just landed awkwardly and then the bicycle landed on top of her.

When she walked down the driveway, she said, "I think I broke my arm!" as she sobbed.

She hadn't a bruise on her, nor a scratch. Dad thought for sure she was OKAY ... till he felt her arm.

"We better take off your jacket," he said.

Sure enough, it looked like Alex had dislocated her elbow. Rachel rushed her off to the Urgent Care facility in Ladysmith where, as a precaution, they took an X-Ray, before any attempts to put it back in place.

An initial look at the X-Ray seemed to indicate that Alex had only dislocated her elbow, but upon closer scrutiny, they decided it might be broken, as well. They recommended that Alex head up to Nanaimo Regional Hospital, in case surgery was needed.

After visiting the Emergency Room, doctors in Nanaimo decided that it was indeed a break and because there were operating theatres available, that the operation would take place that very day. She was admitted, prepped for surgery and underwent a general anesthetic which put her out cold. It was only afterward, that we learned that a closed reduction (relocation of the elbow, without cutting any skin) was successful and seemingly snapped the bone back in place too.

This was good news, as it meant that Alex wouldn't have to "go under the knife".

Her arm was wrapped in a fibreglqass "half-cast", which held her arm in a bent position. The cast was wrapped and held in place by a long Ace bandage. Alex was groggy, after the surgery, but her spirits were good. She was sent home after several hours of observation.

The cast was on for a week (and then left on during the weekend, as we embarked upon our annual 'Fire Hall Fishing Derby' camping weekend, up at Nanaimo Lakes). Better to have the cast on, protecting Alex's arm whilst playing and then off at night, whilst sleeping.

Alex didn't seem to be in much pain, but as one might expect, she didn't have a great range of motion with her elbow, either.

It's now been nearly three weeks since her accident and she's been out of the cast for some time. She's been instructed to try to straighten her arm as much as possible, but it pains her to do so and she still has limited motion. (She can barely touch her shoulder with her right hand and still can't straighten her right arm ... missing about 20-degrees of movement).

She had a follow-up visit to the doctor just after one week. The bone fragment that broke is roughly in the same position as it was after the closed reduction ... sitting just a tad further away than it was originally. The surgeon says this shouldn't cause much problem and will probably result in a slight thickening of her elbow - nothing more.

Alex has another follow-up visit this coming Tuesday and we'll be eager to hear what he says about the (continued) limited range of motion. Alex doesn't like trying to straighten her arm - "because it hurts," she says and hasn't been working at it as diligently as she could, as a result. Because she'd predominantly left-handed, having her right arm out of commission doesn't seem to bother her too much, as she carries it around like a broken wing.

Anxious parents want the assurance that she won't have a "broken wing" for life and are eager to see her healed with a full and complete range of motion.

Meanwhile, in other news ... both Rachel and Scott reported spotting loads more grey hairs on their heads this past week. Neither know why this might be. Any ideas?

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Updated: 22-Jun-2011
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