I was hacked! Someone brute-forced their way into an account and did something that took the entire site down.
I had reports of a high number of failed log-in attempts, but hadn’t made it a priority to look into. So they finally got through before I looked into it.
It’s really pathetic that someone would go to all that effort to get into a site that is basically dormant and hasn’t seen an new post in months. But they use bots to do it, so they don’t care.
Usually, it is done to gain some kind of advantage in website rankings. Google and other search engines look to see how many other sites mention (link to) a site and boost the rank accordingly. So they like to hack sites to put fake links in to them to make it look like there is a lot of buzz about their page.
They also use links in comments to do the same thing. I have all comments held for approval, so they don’t show up. I cleared out several hundred spam comments yesterday.
So I got the site back up and running. They couldn’t really do much to it, but found a way to make it look like it was offline. I’ve changed passwords on every account and the one they got into no longer has any privileges. I can see what logins they try to use, so I know what they are trying. The obvious ones are gone. Let them fish.
And for what it’s worth, this page is so little used, if it becomes a problem, it will just vanish.
Sad News has not been a stranger to this blog. Once again, I have the sad task of reporting of the death of my son. Sons are supposed to outlive their father and bury him, not the other way around, but here I am for the second time. My second son, Francis, has died as the result of organ rejection after his lung transplant.
That sounds horrible, but a better way to put it is he lived five years longer because he received a transplant and they were mostly, wonderful, glorious years where he lived as if he never had a problem.
Like his brother before him, he was a Cystic Fibrosis patient and the disease had progressed to the point where his lungs were failing. Imagine life where you had to stop and breathe when you walk from the couch to the kitchen, a distance of ten feet. He had only weeks, probably to live if he had not had the transplant when he did.
The whole story is elsewhere in this blog. Go back and read it, if you are interested.
I don’t really feel like writing this, but for the sake of giving the end to the story, I am. It was a long voyage and most of it was wonderful. I got to spend a lot of time with Frank as we traveled back and forth from his Doctors in NYC.
We met up in Arizona one summer at his cousin’s wedding. He took the trip of a lifetime across country by bus, stopping to visit friends and make new ones along the way. We drove and met up out there. Spent great days at his Aunt’s and visiting the Grand Canyon. He was like a new person.
But, eventually, he caught some infection and started to reject his new lungs. Every transplant is a tightrope walk of balancing medicines between their side-effects and interactions with the body, and protecting the organs from rejection. Every change upsets the balance, and while the doctors are very good at tweaking things, it doesn’t always work.
Anyway, his new lungs were damaged and could no longer sustain his active life. He deteriorated to the point where he was bedridden. But he faced it with a great positive attitude and made the most of it. After all, it was all time he would not have had otherwise.
There is a whole other story about the group of friends that supported him throughout the whole time, and maybe I’ll tell that story later, but for now, this is about all I can write.
Well, I haven’t been posting much here lately and most of my thoughts and rants have been going on Facebook.
They make it so easy, so seductive, to just put a short couple paragraphs or just a comment on someone else’s thoughts. It becomes too easy to spend time there.
But, once again, I’m in Facebook jail.
I don’t know why. They say I posted something that violated “community standards.” They gave me no details and I don’t remember what it may have been. Just suddenly, I can’t post anything. I can’t leave a comment. I can’t even like a photo of a furry cat.
I dug around and found – with some difficulty – a reference to their deleting a post.
I can’t tell from the little thumbnails what it was, or what about it they didn’t like. I have a “Page” where I post things. Things about Trump, our government, and politics. I started the page so I could keep those things off my personal timeline and let only those who want to read them see them. I was being considerate to those who might be offended by anything critical of our illegitimate president.
And, ordinarily, I avoid anything offensive. I lean towards the ironic, humorous, or satirical commentary.
95% of what I post is graphics – cartoons, memes, photos, and articles from major news sources. I mostly “share” not “create.”
And, yes, it’s mostly anti-Trump, anti-conservative, anti-GOP, etc. because, well, how can any moral, thinking person not be?
So, I am in the corner, getting a three-day time out from Facebook. Like that is supposed to teach me a lesson, whereas not telling me what the offense is does…
My experience with these things (I have known others who have also suffered the same fate) is that you usually get these things as a response to someone’s complaint. They are either processed by some algorithm or some person who reviews hundreds per hour. No deep thought is put into it. And there is no way to get a meaningful review. You can click a box that asks them to look into it, but I have not received a response.
From the thumbnails, I can tell it was a cartoon. That’s about all. I routinely download and keep the images I post, rather than just hit share. I do that because I want to break the chain of “So and so shared so and so’s post where they shared so and so’s…” I also sometimes copy and paste commentary along with it that I think the person may not want to have attributed to them. Public figures, I quote with full attribution, I spare the average friend.
So I checked through my collected images and did not find that one. It doesn’t mean it didn’t come from me, but it’s odd that I did not keep a copy. It might be left on a different computer that I don’t normally use. I only checked my laptop and phone. You can bet, if I do find it, I will post it here!
And, I did. I could not find it on any of my computers, but a couple of them have been reworked recently and may have been erased. But with a little Google-Fu and some help from Tineye, I found it.
That’s it. That’s the “offensive” post. I vaguely remember it. It was quite a while ago, so either they dug deep, or someone is going around looking for that particular picture.
This photo was found many times on Twitter. It was on Reddit. It was on Instagram and Pinterest, so it clearly doesn’t cross any lines for most places. It was totally used to target my account. There was also a version of it with a ghostly figure, possibly Jesus, leaning over 45.
So, I supposedly “violated community standards” by posting a graphic that came from the community. Hmmm…
Looking at the timing of it, where we are in the middle of the peak of the Trump impeachment Senate hearings, one has to wonder if it isn’t part of an organized strategy to use Facebook’s’ policies against anyone openly critical of him? Right now, silencing a bunch of his critics for three days without any hearing or recourse, would be huge. You almost wonder if it’s not a new wave of Russian hackers turning to suppressing criticism instead of posting pro-Trump propaganda?
I don’t flatter myself to think that I am that important, or widely influential to garner special attention. So, the explanation of a widespread organized process makes more sense. I just got caught up in it.
So, Facebook put me and possibly many others in Facebook Jail. I’ll live. Actually a three day break will do me good. After all, it got me back to my long neglected blog…
Over the years, the quest for a good morse code keyer has been on the mind of many Hams. I remember the first keyer I ever saw at a friends shack while I was still in high school. It was the latest thing with “Iambic” or squeeze keying. He demonstrated using his Brown Brothers paddles how it would alternate making dits and dahs when both paddles were held. It was homebuilt using RTL logic.
Over the years improvements came along. Memories that could store canned messages. Weight and beacon settings. Serial numbers that auto-incremented for contesting. Back before computer logging took over, a good contest keyer was a necessity.
Then contest logging software took over the CW sending and the keyer was on the back shelf for use in casual QSOs or when the logging computer crashed. But eventually, computers got too complicated and too fast and busy doing other things to send decent CW without it getting choppy. Of course, we were demanding more out of the logging computer – controlling two radios, sending/receiving spots over the network, etc.
So along comes K1EL and his Winkeyer. It took all the timing issues away from the main computer and let a little PIC chip handle them. It worked like a charm and became the standard for most contesters. And you could plug a paddle into it and use it as a simple keyer too! I have one and love it.
But Hams being Hams, never sit still and other choices came along. Of course, not everyone cared about contesting or they needed a keyer that had other features. A number of people published keyers that used small microcontrollers. The Microchip PIC chips were popular and a number of Hams created keyers using them. The Embedded Research Tick keyers brought them down to a single chip you could embed into your homebrew rig or build into a case. I built one the size of a keyfob for your car.
But eventually, people discovered the Arduino and how easy they were to program. I’m sure many programs were out there and I’ve played with a couple, but the one that has come to the forefront was written by Goody, K3NG. I’m not sure when it was first released, but by now it is quite mature and has an extensive feature list, including incorporating the K1EL Winkeyer2 functionality. It continues to be updated on a regular basis today. You can read about it at https://blog.radioartisan.com/arduino-cw-keyer/
I don’t even remember where I first heard about it, but I know I had played around putting the code into an Uno and making all the connections on a breadboard. But I really got into it when I saw the DJ0MY kit that lets you put it on an Arduino Nano. The Nano is a small Arduino board about the size of a large postage stamp. I had been using Nanos and Minis for some other projects, so I knew what it could do. I ordered the kit from Germany and when it came, I built it. The program gave many options and I had a blast changing things and trying them out.
So, it makes a fantastic keyer. I can’t list all the things it can do here because it is too long of a list. Read the link above if you want. But the problem was, there was so many features that they can’t all fit in the limited space in the Nano’s memory. The way Goody wrote the code allows you to turn on or off sections of the code when it gets compiled. You pick and choose the features that you really want and if they fit, you’re golden. If it doesn’t, you have to give something up.
But the code will run on any Arduino. What if there was one that had more program space and could accommodate more features? Well, there is. The Arduino family tree is pretty big, even just the official branches. One stood out as perfect for making the ultimate version of the K3NG keyer. It was the Arduino Mega 2560. It offered more than eight times the program space as well as double the number of I/O pins. The only drawback was it was twice the size of the Uno and completely dwarfs the Nano.
Nonetheless, people started talking about making a PC board, or shield, to make the Mega into a keyer. It was a great idea and some people homebrewed them.
Then someone said “What about these Mega 2560 Mini boards we see on EBay?”
Someone had taken the same chip as used in the Arduino Mega 2560 and put it on a much smaller board. All the I/O pins were there, and since it is the same chip, the memory size is the same. It just no longer fits the shield layout that the Uno and Mega share. It ends up being wider than the Nano but not much longer. It’s not official Arduino, but is comaptible with the software. Since the whole Arduino project is open source, they encourage others to develop them. Official, full sized MEGA 2560s are in the $35 range, with imported clones being about $15. The Mega 2560 Pro Mini is under $10 direct from the manufacturer. There are also other similar Mega 2560 reduced size boards out there, but the layout differs slightly.
It was such a good idea, that two groups are developing projects around it simultaneously. K5BCG on the Radioartisan groups.io boards are making a board available. This is the support group for the K3NG keyer code.
At the same time, the CalQRP group (also on groups.io) is making and selling very similar boards. There are differences between the two projects, mostly in displays and interfaces. But both run the K3NG Keyer code and should allow a much more complete set of features to be incorporated at once.
Both projects have published the PCB CAD files, schematics, and full BOMs to make it easy to reproduce.
I was considering picking up a proto shield for the Mega2560 (full size) and building the keyer circuits on it. It would be a feasible project. I have a couple of the Mega boards on hand. But I heard about the Mega-Mini sized boards and decided to wait. I’m glad I did. I’ll end up building one of the above projects for sure.