Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   pirated software is safer than this
Monday, December 7 2015
Early this afternoon I went down the Stick Trail to the place I'd gone yesterday and salvaged 101 pounds of fairly good, fairly dry Chestnut Oak. By fairly dry, I mean that the rotten sapwood was damp but, when split, the heartwood was dry.
Today was Sarah the Vegan's birthday, and, after some deliberation and consultation with Gretchen, I decided my gift for her would be a microSD card filled with television shows obtained via Bittorrent. Then I went wading through my SD cards, finding that yet again some of the crappy ones I'd bought on eBay were behaving even more crappily than they had the last time I'd tried to use them. I really needed a 16 gigabyte card for the quantity of video I had in mind, though all I seemed to have in that format were 8 gigabyte cards. So I thought perhaps I could downsample the episodes of Jessica Jones, which were bigger for their play length than the others. This sent me onto the web to find a program allowing me to resample video files. I soon came upon one called Any Video Converter, whose download link promised "No Malware, No Spyware." Wasn't that nice? But when I went to install it, the default installation claimed it would replace the homepage of my browsers with some other homepage and that all my searching would start happening through something called SearchMoreKnow. There may be people out there for whom it's no big deal to change homepages and search engines, even when the new regime promises more advertising and less relevance, but I am not one of them. I unchecked that option and allowed the installation to proceed. Then, during my first run of the program, it cheerfully informed me that a new version of the program was available. I then disabled the option that checks for new versions (I first like to know if something is broke before I look to fix it). But (much like Skype, which has actually been going so far as to message my colleagues about my failure to "upgrade") it continued complaining so much about the absence of my upgrading that I gave in and let it upgrade. The program is slow and has a terrible interface, but it did the job. Unfortunately, to get the episodes down to the size I needed required settings that made them unwatchably-ugly, so I abandoned and uninstalled Any Video Converter. As I did that, I saw that SearchMoreKnow had indeed been installed despite the absence of my consent. I also found that the search engine and homepage of all my web browsers had been changed. For my installation of Chromium, the search engine change was so insidious that it couldn't be reversed; I ended up uninstalling the Chromium itself (since I don't actually use it). Since I'd already been tricked by these programs, I didn't trust their uninstalls to remove all their parts, so I had to do it myself manually using Regedit. It's good to know this page will be findable using Google searches for things like AnyVideoConverter and malware, adware, crapware, spyware, fraud, help, and rage, but that wasn't good enough, so I opened a ticket at Any Video Converter's website stating the following:

hello, any-video converter!

i just installed your program and was careful to make sure your search engine and homepage replacing defaults WERE NOT CHECKED. but then your crafty program insisted on "upgrading" my installation, at which point you changed my search engine and homepage and left a bunch of shit all throughout the registry of my computer. you can be sure i will be posting a google-findable account of this experience as soon as i find the time. thank you for giving me something enraging to write about!

--another enraged (and very brief) customer

[Any Video Converter got back to me later and tried to placate me by giving me a registration code, which I will post for others to use, since I have no use for it:


After all that, I found that all my Chrome plugins had been deleted, so, yeah, it was a learning experience. The upshot of this is that pirated software downloaded from Bittorrent is less likely to install viruses on your computer than freeware recommended by

This evening Gretchen and I picked up Ray and Nancy and drove out to Kodomo, the Japanese restaurant in that grim 70s-style shopping plaza just north of the Home Depot on 9W. Last time Gretchen and I headed towards Kodomo, at the last minute we decided instead to go to the Olive Garden (also in that plaza). Today, though, we carried through on the plan, meeting up with the birthday girl, Sarah the Vegan, as Gretchen and Ray grabbed some last-minute supplies at Mother Earth's Storehouse next door. Gretchen and Sarah are still on their no-processed-grains diet, so they ordered vegetable plates with tofu and brown rice, whereas Nancy and I got veggie sushi. I forget what Ray got, although the chilled sake he ordered looked really fancy and came with a special chilling bowl (unlike the little bottle of hot sake Gretchen and I shared). Warm drinks seemed more appropriate on a chilly evening, and I even suggested that Sarah and Nancy should have ordered their prosecco warm. Most of the gifts Sarah received were large hardcover books, though I'd put the microSD card in an SD card adapter and wrapped it as a tiny package using silvery plastic from a bulk pack of Frontier Herbs chamomile. I'd then decorated it with a tiny hemlock cone and the world's smallest birthday card. Unfortunately, Sarah had no experience with SD cards and acted like she'd never seen one in her life. And none of us at the table could remember whether or not MacBooks come with SD card readers. I'd just assumed they were as common now as floppy disks were in 1989. It seems I'd assumed wrong.
As for the food, it was pretty good except for one glaring problem: in both Gretchen's and Sarah's dishes, huge chunks of eggplant were part of the stew, and they didn't seem to be well cooked. I've never seen eggplant present this way. Even though I like eggplant, I found these chunks barely edible. Gretchen, of course, has a congenital aversion to eggplant, and she kept finding more pieces to put on my plate.

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