15 Minutes of Fame

Google Analytics sent me an automated mail telling me that this blog had 1.7k visitors last month. That is less than I used to get in a single day a decade ago. The good news for Google / Blogger is that I don’t blame them for the decline, and won’t be showing up at their HQ with a gun. I am pretty certain that the loss of readers can be explained by the following factors:

  • I am writing much less now, 1-2 posts per week instead of per day.
  • I am not writing about a single topic, MMORPGs, any more, but about a variety of different things, which interest different people.
  • The original MMORPG topic of my blog isn’t of great interest any more.
  • Blogging, and hanging out on blogs, isn’t the medium of choice any more.

So basically I had my 15 minutes of fame, with highlights like being invited to a Blizzcon with a press pass around my neck and allowed to interview a Blizzard developer. Or getting free “review copies” of games (all of them disclosed on the blog) and stuff. I even got a few hundred dollars as donations over the years.

Blogging never was more than a hobby to me, it was obvious that quitting my day job for internet fame would have been an extremely bad idea. And then I am part of a generation that still believes that they are responsible for their own success or failure. My impression of younger generations is that they more often believe that success is owed to them, and that any of their failures must be due to evil acts from others. Now combine that with the fact that a YouTuber today can be a *lot* more famous than a blogger from a decade ago, and make a lot more money; and then you get closer to understanding why somebody might take a decline of internet fame so serious that she starts shooting people.

The internet has dramatically lowered the barrier of entry to self-publication and possibly fame. But that isn’t just true for you, it is true for everybody else as well. Thus fame is getting more and more fickle and short-lived. Being “internet famous” can be fun, but it appears that it can also be dangerous.

Sally Yates Calls on Americans to Rise Up in Powerful Op-Ed

“It is not enough for us to admire our nation’s core values from afar.”

Americans find themselves at a critical moment in their nation’s history, when they must decide what kind of country they want to have, according to former acting Attorney General Sally Yates.

In a searing op-ed for USA Today, the Trump foe reveals she tried to warn and help the administration, only to be thrown out of office. Now she is calling on her fellow Americans to uphold the “country’s core values.”

“Our founding documents set forth the values that make us who we are, or at least who we aspire to be,” Yates writes. “I say aspire to be because we haven’t always lived up to our founding ideals — even at the time of our founding. When the Declaration of Independence proclaimed that all men are created equal, hundreds of thousands of African Americans were being enslaved by their fellow Americans.”

She recalls the Jim Crow South when Americans were forced to choose between segregation and racial justice. And while we have often failed to live up to our ideals, we have always had a shared vision of what the country means and what is expected of its leaders.

Yates asks Americans to look back at the Preamble to the Constitution for inspiration:

“’We the people of the United States’ (we are a democratic republic, not a dictatorship),” she writes. “‘In order to form a more perfect union’ (we are a work in progress dedicated to a noble pursuit) ‘establish justice’ (we revere justice as the cornerstone of our democracy) ‘insure domestic tranquility’ (we prize unity and peace, not divisiveness and discord), ‘provide for the common defense’ (we should never give any foreign adversary reason to question our solidarity) ‘promote the general welfare’ (we care about one another; compassion and decency matter) ‘and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity’ (we have a responsibility to protect not just our own generation, but future ones as well).”

She goes on to explain that the Bill of Rights guarantees individual liberty and other rights that Americans often take for granted.

“But without vigilance, [they] can erode and slip away, such as freedom of speech (our right to protest and be heard); freedom of religion (the essential separation between how one worships and the power of the state); and freedom of the press (a democratic institution essential to informing the public and holding our leaders accountable),” Yates continues.

Yates also notes that one thing that separates the United States from an autocracy is the “strict separation between the Justice Department and the White House on criminal cases and investigations.” This ensures the public believes in the legitimacy of the criminal process.

“There is such a thing as objective truth,” she explains. “We can debate policies and issues, and we should. But those debates must be based on common facts rather than raw appeals to emotion and fear through polarizing rhetoric and fabrications.”

She closes with a powerful call to action:

“We are not living in ordinary times, and it is not enough for us to admire our nation’s core values from afar…So stand up. Speak out.”

 

 

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PPC – SomeOne SpenDing – SomeOne EarNing

We have the Internet that provides a huge platform for advertising products and services online. Advertisers around the world have shown a keen interest in making good use of the Internet that is omnipresent these days.

Contrary to the traditional advertising model, the recent methods of internet marketing involve innovative techniques to catch more eyeballs and pull online traffic to visit, listen, view, or buy a product or a service that is on offer. It is done through a model that is now being widely regarded as Pay Per Click (PPC). It is a successful model for internet advertising that directs online traffic to particular websites, where the advertisers pay the publishers a certain amount when their ad is clicked.

Pay-per-click (PPC), also known as cost per click (CPC), is an internet advertising model used to direct traffic to websites, in which an advertiser pays a publisher (typically a website owner or a network of websites) when the ad is clicked.

Entities Involved in PPC Advertising:

  • Product or Service Seller
  • PPC Advertiser
  • Landing Page Provider
  • Landing Page
  • Viewer or the Visitor

Take a close look at the illustrations below that depict the general roles of the entities involved in PPC advertising:

A product/service seller contacts advertisers for PPC based Ad programs.

PPC Advertiser creates Ads and provides landing pages for Ads.

Users click the Ads and visit the landing pages.

PPC – Bird’s eye view

Lets take a look at Terminology related to PPC:

Ad group
It is a collection of relevant keywords under one name. Maximum 20,000 keywords can be added into an Ad Group.

Ad Network
An Ad Network is an online business that specializes in matching up of advertisers to the websites looking to host the ad. Ad networks work as brokers for both suppliers (sites with content that can host ads, and buyers (the advertisers).

Ad Position
Ad position is the order in which an ad is displayed on a webpage. For example, ad position “1” means the ad is displayed first on the webpage.

Ad Rank
It is a value used to determine the Ad Proposition.

Call-To-Action (CTA)
This is a marketing term used for the action you want the website visitor to take.

Campaign
It is a series of relevant ad groups.

Click-Through-Rate (CTR)
It is a metric showing how often a visitor clicks your ad after seeing it. It can be defined as the number of clicks per thousand impressions. CTR contributes to Ad Rank.

Conversion
Conversion is the action the user wants when he clicks on an ad. It occurs when a visitor takes action. For example, the user makes purchases, signs ups, submits enquiry forms, views a page, or downloads, depending on the program’s goals.

Conversion Rate
It is the measurement of the success of a paid campaign. It is measured by the number of potential visitors performing any of the desired actions such as buying a product, filling a form, etc.

For example, if there are 100 visitors to a particular webpage via a PPC ad, and six of those 100 visitors buy the product the website sells, then the conversion rate for that particular ad is six percent. The larger the conversion rate, the more successful the website is.

Cost Per Action or Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)
It is the amount you pay for every lead, sign-up, or purchases.

Cost Per Click (CPC)
It implies the amount you pay for every single click on your ads.

Cost Per Mille (CPM)
It is the amount paid for every thousand views of the PPC ad.

Destination URL
It is where you want the user to land when he clicks on the ad.

Display URL
It is the name of a page of the website.

Geo-targeting
Delivery of ads to a particular geographic location of the users. It allows the advertisers to choose specific locations where they wish to show their ads.

Keyword
It is a search query made by a user. A word or a phrase of words entered in the search box by the user. The search engine matches your keywords and gives you relevant results on the Search Engine Result Page (SERP).

Landing Page
It is any standalone webpage distinct from the main website on which the visitor lands.

Negative Keywords
They are the ones for which you do not want your ad to appear.

PPC Bid
It is the maximum amount of fees an advertiser is ready to pay for a click.

Prospect
Prospect is a potential user who can buy a product/service being advertised.

Quality Score
It is a dynamic metrics assigned to each of your keywords and ads. It determines the quality of your keyword, ad, and the landing page. High quality score boosts the ad rank.

Creating a Keyword List

Keywords are the primitive entities of PPC ads. Choosing a correct and relevant set of keywords can help design a crisp and persuasive ad to fulfill the sole purpose of increasing the number of clicks on the ad.

You can use the given target model for keyword research and building a keyword list. The basic steps of building a keyword list are

  • Create a basic list (Seed List) of usual business terms
  • Expand the list using keyword research tools
  • Refine the list of keywords

Creating a Seed List

A seed list is nothing but the initial set of keywords of the seller’s business. Write down the six keyword categories in columns. Use a combination of brainstorming and investigation for categorizing the keywords into these six groups by keeping the brand and the product terms at the center of attention.

You need to build this list thoroughly, keeping in mind all the features of the product or service the seller is providing. You need to ponder and create a list of words about what all problems this particular product or service can solve.

Expanding the List

Initially, you need to think of only a few dozens of keywords, then expand, and finally refine. While expanding, you can add new potential keywords in the existing list so that the list is always up-to-date. For this, you need to:

  • Review the seller’s website for new or upcoming products or services.
  • Understand how people talk about the product and its features.
  • Identify unique and well-performing keywords that need to be added in the list.
  • Use keywords research tools for various suggestions.

Refining the List

While expanding, you may have added non-value adding or non-interesting keywords. Now it is time to refine the keywords list by eliminating the less interesting keywords and keeping only the best ones. There is no hard and fast rule to do this. Refining the keywords list is vital, as you need to take care not introduce any negative effect on the present list.

Keyword Research Tools

Keyword research tools help you to expand the list of keywords in most relevance of the seller’s product or service. These tools suggest numerous variations of the words from which we can select the appropriate one.

These tools include:

  • Google AdWords Keyword Planner
  • Word Tracker
  • SEO Book Keyword Suggestion Tools
  • Keyword Discovery
  • SpyFu

Writing a Killer PPC Ad

Refer the diagram shown below. To create an effective and compelling ad, the following methodology is helpful:

Elements of a PPC Ad

Refer the following image to understand the elements of a PPC ad.

Headline – This is the main title of the ad. It must be magnetic, crisp, and compact.

Display URL – This is the link of the relevant web page where the prospects will be taken onto. It is not required to be the exact landing page but it should be relevant. You can, for example, include your website with the top keyword in your Ad Campaign.

Description Line 1 and 2 – This is the body of the ad. It describes the product or the service the seller is offering.

Landing Pages

If you create a beautiful and catchy PPC ad with an effective Call-To-Action and do not link an appropriate landing page to it, then all your efforts go in vain.
Use of landing pages in the PPC ads helps to:

  • Increase conversion
  • Reduce Cost-Per-Click (CPC)
  • Reduce bounce rate

Elements of an Effective Landing Page:

  • Engaging and beautiful appearance.
  • Well-organized contents.
  • Tight coupling between advertise and page contents.
  • Simple, yet descriptive and informative.
  • Clear and discrete Call-To-Action and offers.
  • Capability of building trust about authenticity of a product or service the seller offers.
  • Capability of pursuing the visitors to take action.

PPC Bidding

Bidding is offering a competitive price that a bidder is ready to pay for a service. The term ‘bidding’ is always used in the context of auction. Bidding is very useful to set the value of an object, an art piece, a property, a commodity, etc. The amount itself is called as a bid.

In the context of internet marketing, the amount an online business organization allocates for PPC advertising is known as PPC bid. The bids specify the maximum amount that an organization is ready to pay each time a user clicks your ad. This is called the maximum Cost-Per-Click (max CPC).

Factors That Affect Bidding:

  • Advertising budget of the organization
  • The time the organization plans to use paid advertising.
  • Keyword popularity
  • Competition from other advertisers

What to Bid For?

With the help of bid management tools, you can bid for:

  • Conversion events such as video views, contact forms, store directions, the time of ad display, etc.
  • Keywords such as brand phrases, user phrases, direct response phrases, lead generation phrases, engaging phrases, etc.

Want to learn Digital Marketing?

Here is how tech companies are responding to the repeal of net neutrality

Save the Internet

Unless you’ve been in living under a rock the past several months, you knew that a vote on net neutrality was coming. It played out just as everyone suspected and the FCC voted to reclassify internet service providers like Comcast, Spectrum, and Verizon. The vote removed restrictions on the companies that many felt were vital to an open and fair internet.

Here are how some large tech companies are reacting the vote.

Google

Google is a proponent of net neutrality and has repeatedly voiced its support of it in the past. In a statement released to news organizations after the vote, Google pledges to continue to follow the policies of net neutrality. Here is its statement in full:

We remain committed to the net neutrality policies that enjoy overwhelming public support, have been approved by the courts, and are working well for every part of the internet economy. We will work with other net neutrality supporters large and small to promote strong, enforceable protections.

Facebook

Facebook is another company that voice support for strong net neutrality regulations. Many fear that with the repeal of net neutrality, world-changing companies like Facebook may never be able to sprout up. Facebook’s COO released the following statement after the vote:



Netflix

As the largest video streaming service on the internet, Netflix has a vested interest making sure people are able to stream their content. Even though the company has seemingly waffled on its net neutrality, it came out with a firm statement stating, “We’re disappointed in the decision to gut #NetNeutrality.” Here is the company’s full statement:

Amazon

Amazon is another of the tech giants that stood behind net neutrality. With its repeal, Amazon’s Chief Technology Officer took to Twitter to share his statement:

Microsoft

Microsoft is a staunch supporter of net neutrality, saying earlier this year, “Without an open internet, broadband internet access service providers gain the power to outright prevent edge content and services from reaching their customers, levy tolls on edge providers and customers for access to edge content and services, and pick winners and losers in the internet economy, thus subjecting edge provider success to the control of broadband internet access services providers rather than the forces of customer demand.” After the vote, its Chief Legal Officer made the following statement:

Reddit

Reddit bills itself as the “Front Page of the Internet”. It’s another company like Facebook that was started by a couple of kids and turned into a phenomenon. If you’ve used the site any time in the last few weeks, you’ll know that the site and (most of) its users are strong supporters of net neutrality. In a statement today, Reddit CEO Steve Hufmann (Spez) said in part:

It is disappointing that the FCC Chairman plowed ahead with his planned repeal despite all of this public concern, not to mention the objections expressed by his fellow commissioners, the FCC’s own CTO, more than a hundred members of Congress, dozens of senators, and the very builders of the modern internet.

Nevertheless, today’s vote is the beginning, not the end. While the fight to preserve net neutrality is going to be longer than we had hoped, this is far from over.

You can read the statement in its entirety here.

Comcast

Comcast is one of the companies that could seemingly benefit from the net neutrality changes. Many fear that companies like Comcast could wield its power to prevent users from reaching sites or streaming video content to benefit its own platforms.

But, According to a blog post by Senior Vice President David L. Cohen, Comcast believes that Congress should move to enact net neutrality laws. Its stance is that the rules enacted by the FCC were just governmental overreach, but it really supports net neutrality. Whether you believe that or not is up to you, but you can read the full blog post here.

Charter/Spectrum

Charter is the second largest ISP in the country and obviously had its eye on the FCC’s meeting. After the vote, the company released a statement on its website that read in part, ” Charter has been consistent and clear: we support a vibrant and open internet that enables our customers to access the lawful content of their choice when and where they want it. We commend the FCC Chairman and Commissioners for their action today that re-establishes the light touch regulatory framework that had been in place for decades when the Internet took root and grew into an important tool for daily life and a major engine of economic growth.”

You can read the rest of its comment here.

AT&T

AT&T repeated many of the same sentiments as Comcast and Charter. AT&T’s Senior Executive Vice President of External & Legislative Affairs, Bob Quinn, took to the web to express that the repeal of net neutrality laws isn’t that big of a deal.

In the post, Quinn states, “AT&T intends to operate its network the same way AT&T operates its network today: in an open and transparent manner. We will not block websites, we will not throttle or degrade internet traffic based on content, and we will not unfairly discriminate in our treatment of internet traffic (all consistent with the rules that were adopted – and that we supported – in 2010, and the rules in place today).”

You can read the full post here.

Verizon

Verizon hosts a Broadband Commitment website that states, “Verizon supports the Open Internet, and is committed to offering services that allow our customers to take full advantage of all of the lawful content and services that the Internet has to offer.” Speaking to Inverse yesterday, Verizon spokesperson Rich Young backed up that sentiment with this statement, “Verizon fully supports the open Internet, and we will continue to do so. Our customers demand it and our business depends on it.”

T-Mobile

T-Mobile released a very short statement after the vote. It reads, “We always have and will support an open internet that enables us to provide new and innovative services to our customers and keep them first! We will continue to provide amazing service and support to our customers each day!”

Sprint

Sprint’s statement on the repeal of net neutrality is longer than T-Mobile’s, but says just as little. It reads, “Sprint applauds the FCC’s efforts to simplify a complex and challenging issue, while balancing multiple stakeholder interests in this important proceeding. Our position has been and continues to be that competition is the best way to promote an open internet. Complex and vague regulations previously created uncertainties around net neutrality compliance. The Commission’s decision today eliminates those uncertainties and appears to allow Sprint to manage our network and offer competitive products.”


Which company had the best response?

Elemental Evil: Session 10

In the previous session the group had attacked Feathergale Spire, the first stronghold of the elemental evil cult of air. There they had killed the lord of the tower, his guest Glasstaff (a mage they had been chasing since several sessions before) and three knights, before escaping from the top of the tower with magical para-glider suits. While having escaped unseen, the attack hadn’t gone unnoticed. So while they were at breakfast the next morning in the tavern in Red Larch, a local poultry merchant came in telling the news: “Bandits” had attacked Featherscale Spire, and the survivors of the Feathergale Society had decided to quit the tower, leaving only a single guardian behind. The merchant was quite distraught over the news, as he had had a nice business selling provisions to the tower, which now needed much less of them.

Feigning concern the group then went to the tower, this time ringing the bell at the front door. As chance would have it, the sole guardian of the tower was Savra, a young noble, who knew Theren from Waterdeep. Being a novice of the cult and a bit naive and trusting towards somebody she knew, Savra told the group that “the prophetess” aka Aerisi Kalinoth (the lady on the cover of the Princes of the Apocalypse book) had come and taken the rest of the Feathergale Society with her through the magical portal into the temple below. Asking about the door the group learned that the cults knew there were 4 keys to open the portal, but as nobody had all 4 keys that was not the usual way to open it; instead the prophetess opens the door with the help of her magical spear. Savra has no means to contact the prophetess or the rest of the Feathergale Society, and was told to wait in the tower. While Theren was chatting with Savra, other group members searched the tower, but of course everything of value or incriminating had been removed.

From there the group moved towards the Dessarin River, with the idea to move north from there and find Rivergard Keep, the suspected stronghold of the elemental evil cult of water. Near the river they came upon a scene where a group of water cultists was harassing a bear, with the bear curiously shouting for help in common. A fight ensued in which the group slew the cultists and rescued the druid/bear. The rescued druid, Varigo, was very grateful and gave them his most prized possession, the Talking Bear Statuette, a magical item allowing a druid in wild shape to talk and even cast 1 spell per transformation. [DM’s note: Our druid needed a boost due to the weird power curve of the moon druid compared to other classes, which results him being powerful at level 2, but not growing in power much until level 6, while everybody else surpasses him at level 5. It also solves the stupid problem that moon druids sometimes would like to remain in animal shape between fights, but would then be excluded from discussing plans with the rest of the group.] Varigo also told the group that he was on the way to Scarlet Moon Hall to witness the Rite of the Wicker Giant, a ritual that is supposed to restore nature’s balance in the troubled region.

The next day the group reached Rivergard Keep. The keep was well guarded, with patrols on the walls. So after some discussion on how to approach the group decided to climb the wall during the night under cover of a silence spell. They killed the wall guard, and then entered through a door into the second floor of the keep. There they managed to kill 6 crushing wave reavers (the elite soldiers of the keep) without raising an alarm. Having thus successfully infiltrated the keep, we stopped the session there, to continue in the new year.

On a personal note, the player of the paladin was absent, so my wife played her character. That was the first time my wife played a real role-playing game. I don’t think she will play frequently, but it is nice that she now knows a bit better what we are doing when we play.

Trump’s Bizarre Love Affair With Putin Deepens: What Is He Hiding?

A Washington Post feature on Trump’s Russia fixation is oddly credulous: Is wounded pride really the issue here?

On Thursday, The Washington Post published a long article about how Donald Trump is dealing with Russia as president. It wasn’t exactly reassuring. The reason is not that he’s poised to start a war, as he seems to be with North Korea, but that he’s giving away the store to the other side. It’s disturbing because Trump doesn’t seem to be capable of even thinking about America’s relationship with Russia like a president at all. He gets so upset by the investigation into election interference and his subsequent actions that intelligence briefers reportedly don’t mention it as a priority, slipping it into the written material — which he’s said in the past he doesn’t need to read — or sliding it far down the list of items of concern to avoid provoking his ire.

The upshot is that the president isn’t able to focus on relations with Russia at a time when it couldn’t be more important to do so. Trump’s insistence that there was no election interference has taken on the character of a bizarre fixation that is inhibiting the rest of the government from doing its job. And it seems nobody has a clue what to do about it.

The article is full of interesting details about the inner workings of Trump’s national security team and how they deal with this mercurial boss.  For instance, he once assumed his highly qualified Russia expert Fiona Hill (the co-author of a major biography of Vladimir Putin) was a clerical worker. Trump asked her to retype a memo, became angry when she seemed confused by the order and demanded that national security adviser H.R. McMaster reprimand her — which, astonishingly, he did.

But then, none of that should be too surprising. Trump is no more respectful of world leaders with whom he doesn’t feel that personal kinship. He reportedly got bored in the middle of a briefing about Angela Merkel and went into the bathroom, leaving the door open and telling his aides to speak up while he primped in front of the mirror. We all saw his refusal to shake Merkel’s hand in front of the press and this derisive tweet from a couple of years ago:

He apparently doesn’t consider her an equal on par with strongmen like Putin or China’s Xi Jinping, both of whom he shows a deference that verges on obsequiousness.

The article is a portrait of a man-child, so deeply over his head that you wonder if he isn’t literally going to hold his breath until he turns blue before it’s all over. In that sense, it tracks with the recent New York Times article that depicted Trump tweeting from his pillow in the morning, wandering around in his bathrobe, drinking two six packs of Diet Coke and watching up to eight hours of cable news a day.

After reading both of these articles, you get the sense that somebody in the White House has decided that the best defense against charges that Trump colluded with Russia is for people to believe that he behaves as he does because he’s a narcissistic simpleton who can’t deal with the fact that he didn’t win the popular vote. While that description may be accurate, it doesn’t let him off the hook.

The Post’s reporters vaguely examine the possibility that there could be some blackmail material or kompromat hanging out there, or that Trump has some serious financial exposure somewhere in his past. But the article primarily relies on his aides’ portrayal of him as someone who believes in the power of his personality to bond with Vladimir Putin, and believes that together they will solve the world’s problems.

Furthermore, the authors seem to take at face value the assertion that Trump’s insistence that the Russians played no part in the election is because “the idea that he’s been put into office by Vladi­mir Putin is pretty insulting.” Trump is essentially depicted as a juvenile egomaniac who lacks the capacity or imagination to have done anything as sophisticated as collude with a foreign country.

This is spin that I often see reporters and pundits regurgitate on TV, as if this can all be explained away by the proposition that Trump is a buffoon who is constantly frustrated by people saying he didn’t really win. But this fails to account for all the sucking up he did toward Putin during in the campaign and his continued inability to say a bad word about him ever since. It’s not as if Trump is usually at a loss for a well-timed insult.

It also fails to account for the fact that Trump has shown not even minimal interest in doing a “deal” with Russia that would benefit the United States. While he repeatedly insults our allies and crudely demands that they pay protection in return for the U.S. living up to its treaties and commitments, he asked for nothing from Putin in return for lifting sanctions and putting up barriers to NATO expansion, other than a vague promise that everyone “gets along.”

The idea that Putin is the only man on earth Trump sees as a partner in bringing peace on earth just doesn’t pass the smell test. That the self-anointed master negotiator has not seized the opportunity to use the knowledge we have about election interference as a bargaining chip, and instead seems inclined to grant Putin his wish list for nothing in return, does not give one much confidence.

Trump lies about everything, so there is no reason to take him at his word on any of this. Of course he is upset about the Russia investigation, and of course it bothers him that people might think he didn’t legitimately win the election. But it’s hardly likely that he behaves this way because he’s an innocent man. In fact, it’s ludicrous. Everything we know about him suggests the opposite.

Whether it’s about Trump’s past financial exposure or the rumored salacious kompromat or some agreement over dirt on Hillary Clinton or a big hotel deal, there is definitely more to this. He doesn’t act like a man who has been unjustly accused. He acts like a man who’s hiding something and thinks if he blusters and blames he can hide his guilt from his staff and even from himself. He can’t.

 

 

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Don’t want to battle for Azeroth

World of Warcraft announced a 7th expansion called Battle for Azeroth. At this point in time I don’t feel any interest in that expansion. If it came out today, I wouldn’t buy it. As it is coming out in a year, there is still time for me to change my mind. But there is a greater than zero probability that this will be the first World of Warcraft expansion I’m opting out of.

New Wall Street Journal Report Might Totally Destroy Republicans’ Favorite Anti-FBI Talking Point

The GOP still won’t shut up about a “Deep State” conspiracy though.

A new report from the Wall Street Journal adds some needed context to FBI Agent Peter Strzok’s text message about the Russia investigation being an “insurance policy” in the event that Donald Trump won last year’s presidential election.

According to the Journal’s sources, Strzok’s talk of an “insurance policy” against Trump’s electoral victory “was meant to convey that the bureau needed to aggressively investigate allegations of collusion between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia,” and was not intended to “suggest a secret plan to harm the candidate but rather address a colleague who believed the [FBI] could take its time because Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was certain to win the election.”

In the original text message, which was sent to FBI lawyer Lisa Page, Strzok wrote of Trump that, “I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office — that there’s no way he gets elected — but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”

The text message had been seized upon by Republicans who suggested it revealed an agency-wide conspiracy to bring down Trump in the event of his election. According to the Journal’s account, however, it seems that Strzok was sincerely concerned about contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian agents, and wanted to pursue an investigation regardless of who won the 2016 presidential election.

Strzok was originally part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigative team, but he was removed by Mueller this past summer after the special counsel discovered that the FBI agent had disparaged Trump as an “idiot” in text messages.

 

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Netgear Orbi RBK50

Fiddling around with technology that doesn’t work makes me very nervous. On the plus side I am then mighty pleased when I finally get everything working. And so I am happy to report that after fiddling I managed to dramatically improve the WiFi reception in my home by installing a Netgear Orbi RBK50.

For the last few years I have been using a Linksys EA7500 WiFi router. That worked, but in spite of the promises on the box about covering a “medium household”, WiFi reception in my den was always feeble. The den is only two rooms away from the office with the router, but the room between is the bathroom, and so there is one tiled wall without an opening in the way. That appears to block the signal quite drastically, so it takes the long way around. It was okay for web surfing, but not ideal for things like Netflix streaming. And then I bought the Switch. The Switch has one major drawback regarding Wifi, in that it has the world worst WiFi antenna. When your tablet shows 2 bars instead of 3, the Switch already can’t find any signal at all any more. So I had to move the Switch next to the base station every time I wanted to download something. Time for an upgrade.

I surfed the internet for recommendations (which also told me that Linksys routers aren’t considered to be very good) and found that a lot of people liked the Netgear Orbi. Just to make sure I took the RBK50 system, which has both a base station and one satellite for range extension. I had tried a Linksys extender, which had worked to some degree, but failed to use the same SSID as the base station as promised on the box. With Netgear Orbi there was no problem. I could put the satellite in the den, and it would still get a good signal from the base station and then enhance it. So now I have 75 Mbit/s WiFi connection everywhere in my home! Even the Switch shows three bars of WiFi connection.

The fiddling was necessary to get my printers working, which didn’t like the Orbi switching to a completely new IP gateway address. So I had to change the Orbi to access point mode, which then mysteriously messed up everything and I had to factory reset my main router as well as the Orbi system to get everything working again. It is still a mystery to me why everything goes fast on a computer, except for network connections: Every time you reset a router or network card, it takes several minutes to establish a network.

Anyway, everything is working now, and at 15 times the speed necessary for Netflix HD streaming (or 3 times the speed for Netflix Ultra HD streaming, which I don’t have the Netflix streaming plan for). Which means that both me and my wife can stream video without a download on the computer slowing down by much. Nice!