A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for October, 2015

Exposure Doesn’t Pay The Bills

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The Oatmeal posted an excellent comic yesterday (at least I first saw it yesterday). It directly addresses the bullshit of people trying to sucker artists into doing work for exposure.

As I’ve said, if you’re good at something never do it for free. And guess what doing something for exposure is? Free. Because exposure doesn’t pay the bills.

I run into my fair share of people trying to sucker work out of me for free. My sister is an artist so she probably runs into it a hundred times more than me (good thing our dad raised us right and neither of us get suckered into such scams). Because art’s value is primarily derived from creativity it’s harder for people to understand it has value than to understand something physical like a car has value. But anything worth doing is worth getting paid for and art is no exception.

If you look at websites, book covers, magazines, comic books, or the packaging on almost any product you’ll notice they all have something in common: art. Art catches the eye and is often the thing that causes somebody to initially notice a product. It’s the reason novels tend to have art instead of just the title and author printed on the the cover. I shit you not, the reason I initially noticed and checked out Whitechapel Gods is because the cover art is fucking fantastic. It turns out to be a fun read but if it didn’t have that cover art I probably wouldn’t have noticed it. This is why almost every product, including food at the grocery store, is packaged in something covered in art.

Manufacturers know art is important, which is why they pay artists to create it. The fact manufacturers pay artists to create art demonstrates art has value. Unless the person offering exposure is a seriously big name that can actually get your work in front of well known buyers willing to pay (I can’t emphasize that part enough) you they’re swindlers offering you nothing of value and should be ignored. If somebody really wants your art they’ll pay you money and if they don’t you’re wasting your time talking to them.

Don’t fall for the exposure malarkey (unless, of course, the person offering has some big chops that you know will get you in front of paying customers). Fuck exposure. Get paid instead.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 30th, 2015 at 11:00 am

Fix Things, Make Money

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Do you want to know a secret for making lots of money? Learn how to fix things! Seriously. Using this one weird trick you can actually save yourself a ton of cash in a short period of time.

As I noted yesterday, one of the hard drives in my server gave up the ghost. While I probably could have sent it into to Apple to have them charge me $300 to put a new drive in I opted to go the cheaper route and fix it myself. In fact that is always my strategy when something breaks and isn’t under warranty. This is why iFixit is one of my favorite companies.

In addition to creating excellent repair guides and selling a wide selection of tools, iFixit has been promoting the repair culture. Part of this promotion involves getting people over the mindset that they cannot fix things by posting articles about seemingly impossible or very difficult success stories.

But I promised a secret for making money, not saving it, and I should deliver. My fellow agorists are also looking for a way to make a few bucks under the table and knowing how to repair things is an easy way to do it. Compared to producing new products money gotten from repairing is easy to hide. Purchases of tools, spare parts, instruction manuals, schematics, and testing equipment can all be plausibly explained away as things you use to keeping your own equipment in running shape. In the case of personal electronics you don’t even need a place of business, you can either repair them in your home or your customer’s home. And when the job is finished there’s nothing left behind besides broken components that can be easily explained away.

Another benefit for an agorist repair business is it’s easy for an individual to beat their larger competitors. Consider the price Apple, Samsung, Dell, or any other electronics manufacturer charges to do a repair out of warranty. Can you honestly tell me you couldn’t beat their prices? Especially for repairs that involve little more than swapping a common component like a hard drive or RAM module. You can make a tidy profit and still beat their prices by a wide margin. This is why you see so many mobile phone screen repair businesses. The margins are still good when you’re undercutting the manufacturer and enough people drop phones to ensure a constant income flow.

Learn how to repair things. You’ll save yourself a lot of money and you can make a lot of hard to trace money with your knowledge.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 30th, 2015 at 10:30 am

Minneapolis Public Schools Solve Violence Issue Once And For All

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Minneapolis Public Schools have had issues with violence. But after a student brought a .38 caliber handgun in the administrators decided enough is enough. Measures have been taken to ensure violence never again bothers the students and faculty of Minneapolis Public Schools:

Promoting positive learning environments for students begins with ensuring the schools are safe, MPS said. Tedmon said the district’s schools are currently the safest place for kids, and they’re going to keep it that way.What do you think?

“Alongside families and community partners, MPS is declaring our district to be a weapon-, violence- and gang-free zone. Together, we can let everyone know: Not in our schools,” MPS said in a press release.

Finally! Now they can hand signs declared their schools violence-free zones right below the very effective signs declaring them drug-free zones!

Because of the ineffectiveness of gun-free zones most of us who advocate for the right to self-defense have jokingly said that places should just declare themselves violence-free zones and be done with it. Apparently our joke was heard by a school administrator who failed to recognize the subtleties of sarcasm. This person must have also missed the fact that drugs are pervasive in schools even though they’ve been declared drug-free zones and that kid with the handgun managed to go right past the signs indicating the school was a gun-free zone.

What should be concerning though is the people in charge are making our parody reality.

Nothing To See Here

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Instead of writing new articles I was working on a project:

dissected-mac-mini

That’s my old server (see, I wasn’t shitting you guys about using a Mac Mini). Unfortunately one of the drives died so I need to dissect it and put new drives in it. It wasn’t actually that bad of a project but the start of a cold or allergies (I’m not sure which) didn’t help matters any. Anyways, check back tomorrow.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 29th, 2015 at 10:00 am

Posted in Side Notes

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Know Your Revolutionaries

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People often make the mistake of assuming anarchists and sovereign citizens are the same. As an anarchists I’m tired of this. For those of you wanting to know the difference between the two let me summarize.

Anarchists: Believe nobody should rule anybody else.

Sovereign Citizen: If you say the right magical incantations, file the correct paperwork in triplicate, and sign government documents with your name in all capital letters followed by “under duress” the United States government will be forced to allow you to live free by its own rules.

I hope that clears things up.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 28th, 2015 at 11:00 am

Posted in Liberty

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Cyberfailure At The Cyberdepartment Of Cybersecurity

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Do you ever get the idea China’s ability to breach United States’ networks isn’t so much due to their skill as to their adversary’s incompetency? After the breach of the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) network it was revealed that government networks are woefully out of date. In fact China was focusing its efforts of non-milistary federal agencies. But even though other federal agency’s network security is lackluster we were told time and again that the Department of Defense (DoD) is held to a higher standard. That wasn’t true either:

The United States Department of Defense is still issuing SHA-1 signed certificates for use by military agencies, despite this practice being banned by NIST for security reasons nearly two years ago. These certificates are used to protect sensitive communication across the public internet, keeping the transmitted information secret from eavesdroppers and impersonators. The security level provided by these DoD certificates is now below the standard Google considers acceptable for consumer use on the web.

Few things amuse me more than when one federal agency, in this case the DoD, fails to abide by the recommendations issued by another federal agency, in this case the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). This shouldn’t be surprising though, the DoD’s e-mail servers don’t even support STARTTLS so any e-mails traveling between their servers are being sent in the clear. If the DoD can’t even take basic measures like that why would anybody assume they would utilize secure certificates?

We keep hearing about the coming cyberwar. When that finally comes the United States is going to be taken out in the initial volley. Every bit of news we hear indicates the computer security capabilities of the entire federal government are nonexistent.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 28th, 2015 at 10:30 am

Law Enforcement To Subjects: Don’t Have Fun On Halloween

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Halloween is easily the most fun holiday of the year. For adults it’s an opportunity to don a costume, head to a party, and get blitzed. Unless they have kids, because for kids it’s an opportunity to don a costume, fill bags with candy, and eat until the sugar rush turns into a crash. Since it is the State’s holy mission to turn nations into gigantic no-fun zones it’s no surprise that United States law enforcers are trying to make people fear Halloween.

I thought the economically nonsensical fear mongering over drug dealers handing kids hundreds of dollars worth of ecstasy was as pathetic as it could get but the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) has upped the ante. The agency best known for creating terrorists and then thwarting them is claiming that us evil anarchists are planning to kill cops on Halloween:

The FBI has issued an alert to law enforcement about a possible “Halloween Revolt” by a dangerous anarchist group, an official has confirmed to CBS News.

Federal officials issued a bulletin to local police departments about the potential for attacks against their officers, CBS News has learned.

As first reported by the New York Post, a group known as the National Liberation Militia may be planning to dress in costume, cause a disturbance, and then ambush police who come to help. The Post reports the group has recommended members wear typical holiday masks and bring weapons like bricks and firearms.

Us anarchists have better things to do on Halloween than harass cops (you know, that whole donning a costume and getting blitzed thing). This fear mongering exists solely to feed the nonexistent war on cops. It gives local law enforcement justification to thump skulls, because anything they do is justifiable so long as they can claim they felt their safety was at risk, and the tough-on-crime crowd something to excuse acts of police brutality on.

Don’t let the terrorists win. Go out and enjoy your Halloween.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 28th, 2015 at 10:00 am

This Lack Of Content Provided By A New Server

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The new server I ordered last week arrived yesterday. I spent most of the evening configuring the server and encrypting the drive. Needless to say the lack of content today is directly related to me fucking around with the server last night. Now that it’s mostly setup I’ll be moving a few virtual machines over to it so you may notice some interruption in this site tonight for a short while (it shouldn’t be long, I should only have to copy the virtual machine over and power it up).

If anybody is interesting in the super awesome server I ordered prepare for disappointment. It’s a new Mac Mini with a 2.6GHz i5 processor and 16GB of RAM. Why a Mac Mini? Because they’re very power efficient. My servers are rarely under heavy load and I’m paying to run them out of my own pocket so I might as well save money on electricity. Also, when it’s not longer a viable server, I can convert it to a client machine (probably a media server).

Written by Christopher Burg

October 27th, 2015 at 10:30 am

Posted in Side Notes

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The Source Of Venezuela’s Economic Woes

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It’s no secret that Venezuela’s economy is in the same place every other socialist economy ends up: the shitter. But unlike its predecessors, Venezuela has identified the source of its troubles! That source is none other than a website operated by an evil American capitalist pigdog:

Venezuela’s central bank has filed a lawsuit at a court in Delaware against the US-based website DolarToday.

It accuses the website of cyberterrorism and says its managers are sowing economic chaos in Venezuela.
The central bank requested both an injunction and damages, accusing the site’s managers of fanning inflation in the country.

DolarToday tracks the black market value of the Venezuelan currency, the bolivar.
It values the bolivar at a far lower rate than the official one.

It values the bolivar at a far lower rate than the official one.

I’m always amused by faltering socialist nations. Their leaders always blame their nation’s economic collapses on evil capitalists, speculators, and the black market. On the one hand they claim socialism is the ultimate economic systems while on the other hand claiming their economies are so pathetic that any capitalist can destroy it.

Expect the Venezuelan government to lash out and anybody and everybody as it collapses under the weight of decades of centralized controls. And expect to hear socialists around the world try to argue why Venezuela wasn’t socialist enough, evil capitalists sabotaged the people’s economy, and other commonly heard excuses for the inevitable failures of socialism.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 27th, 2015 at 10:00 am

FDA Doing Its Part To Protect Tobacco Companies

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With the number of restrictions placed on cigarettes as well as the general attitude the State seems to have towards them you would think it would give tremendous support to anything that helped people stop smoking. But those restrictions aren’t in place to stop people from smoking but to protect cigarette companies from competition. Electronic cigarettes have become very popular in the last few years, especially with people who want to stop smoking. In fact I would argue that electronic cigarettes have done more shake the cigarette industry than any government regulation. It is this effectiveness that has likely encouraged the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to write up regulations that will effectively destroy a majority of electronic cigarette sellers:

When Randy Freer was trying to quit smoking, he wanted to try vaping-—battery-operated devices that deliver nicotine by vaporizing liquids. (Some ex-smokers find the combo of the flavors and the ability to dial down the nicotine helps them quit.) But Freer found he couldn’t keep a supply of the vaporizers he liked—they were always out of stock.

So being the entrepreneurial type, he created his own e-liquids to vape. In 2012, he launched P.O.E.T. (Pursuit of Excellent Taste), a small business based in Seal Beach, California, that sells e-liquids. Three years later, he says his company sells to some 130 stores internationally as well as online, and has $500,000 in annual sales.

But all that could disappear if the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as expected, finalizes its rules on e-cigarettes and other vaping products. The rules would require federal approval for most flavored liquid nicotine juices and e-cig devices sold in vape shops.

“If that [FDA rule] goes through, it’ll put me back into the job market,” Freer says.

He and practically everyone else in the vaping business. According to one estimate, the approval process would require such an extensive data collection for each item that it could businesses cost $2 million to $10 million, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Anybody familiar with the medical market knows how expensive and time consuming getting FDA approval is. Most vape shops mix their own juices as a means of differentiating themselves from their numerous competitors. If they were required to get their juices approved by the FDA they would be forced out of business, which is likely the point of the proposed regulations.

Electronic cigarettes have been eating the traditional cigarette market by offering the same product, nicotine, in a much healthier and cheaper delivery method. If the FDA was interested in abolishing the traditional cigarette market it would leave things be but the State has always been a friend of traditional tobacco companies. The regulations that already exist on cigarettes have ensured established manufacturers remain protected from new competitors. It was only with the invention of electronic cigarettes, a radically different method of delivering nicotine, that a real threat entered the market. And soon that sole threat may be gone and traditional cigarettes will be able to stop worrying.

Fortunately electronic cigarettes and juices are simple to produce. In fact there is a huge do-it-yourself movement in the electronic cigarette market. Many people create their own electronic cigarettes and juices. Some of them start vape shops. If they regulations go through these people will likely continue doing what they’ve been doing and more people will likely pick up the do-it-yourself attitude.

Just keep in mind, if these regulations go through, that whenever the State bitches about traditional cigarettes causing numerous health issues that it was the single reason the most effective alternative was pushed out of the market.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 26th, 2015 at 10:30 am