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The malware situation was definitely an entirely new and modern approach to Tattler suppression, though. And it really must have been something of a challenge. The platform I use is called Blogger, and it is a part of the vast Google empire. Planting malware on a Google property like Blogger had to have been difficult. Google has been up against such serious players as the Peoples Republic of China. They take security very seriously, and have spent many millions of dollars protecting themselves against people who long to insert bad digital juju into their systems. Systems that are worth many billions of dollars and are at the heart of one of the wealthiest corporations on the planet.
The way it was done is as follows. Until yesterday I had a digital clock on this site. It was a gadget I had picked out months ago from the grab bag of such things Blogger offers to site owners like me. Somehow that digital clock, which I now believe must have had a third party origin, was recently infected with a malware virus. Probably within the last two weeks.
It was no threat to you, there was no real way the virus could have been downloaded from my blog onto your computer. It didn't even infect my computer. But what it did do was set off alarms at various Internet Service Providers. The screenshot above was sent to me by a reader who had been completely blocked from accessing this blog by his ISP. Instead he got a message telling him to stay away. The Tattler was being quarantined.
And it did work. Traffic on this blog had been cut by about 40% over the last two weeks as more and more people were either blocked from accessing The Tattler, or just scared off by the warnings. Which I assume was the purpose. After all, what possible good is a blog if it has no audience? Without readers this would be a pretty absurd exercise. We'd just be talking to ourselves.
After receiving that screenshot from my concerned friend yesterday, I contacted Blogger/Google and let them know what was going on. It took them about 2 minutes to locate the problem and cure it, though they continue to try and figure out the source. They apparently don't like malware very much, and in their eyes this was a problem. Hopefully whoever created it left some digital fingerprints.
We are now back in business, and plan to stay that way at least through the upcoming City Council election next April. After that I am going to rethink this project. I might take this blog regional, or I could go find something else to do. I don't know. Five years is a long time.
So now City Hall wants to hire a Prop 218 consultant?
We might have gotten to the point where residents need to start questioning the sanity of the people working at City Hall. They just keep hemorrhaging money in ridiculously large amounts.
As you may recall, the last time there was Prop 218 vote on a rather large water rate hike, hundreds of resident produced ballots were collected at City Hall and counted by the City Clerk and some volunteers. The cost was minimal and, while the result wasn't quite what a lot of people were looking for, at least the City didn't spend a fortune to get it.
But apparently this time the City wants to spend that fortune, and in the process completely remove the residents from any participation. This from the City of Sierra Madre website (link):
The process that is currently required by law, is less expensive than what is required under SB 553. If the current process is used, the estimated direct costs are $8,000 for printing, mailing house, and postage. If the process prescribed by SB 533 is used the estimated direct costs for printing, mailing house, and postage are $16,000. At the high end, staff costs are estimated at $16,000, based on the amount of time incurred during the last Proposition 218 process. It is also possible to retain the services of an outside consultant to conduct the entire process, at an estimated cost of $20,000 to $35,000.
The obvious objections to the ridiculous amounts of money being so casually discussed here aside, how can the services of staff cost an additional $16,000? Don't we already pay their salaries? Why does it cost an additional $16 grand to hand them some envelopes, glue pots, stamps and xeroxed sheets of paper and set them to mailing out the people's business?
There is an entirely different form of reality existing inside that building.
Now here is a rather bold solution to staffing issues
This from InlandPolitics.com (link):
San Bernardino: Mayor moves to eliminate police, fire departments - The San Bernardino City Council Agenda now has an interesting item listed for Monday, October 21, 2013.
Items 7A reads as follows: Direct the City Manager to begin the process of soliciting proposals for contracting fire and police services to outside agencies, including, but not limited to, Cal Fire and San Bernardino County.
The move comes after Fifth Ward Councilman Chas Kelley’s resignation on Thursday. Kelley resigned after pleading guilty to a single felony perjury charge, related to his campaign finance reports.
Kelley’s departure now shifts the balance on the seven-member Common Council.
City insiders must feel they now have 3-3 tie, to contract out, with Mayor Patrick Morris as the tiebreaker.
Difficult times demand bold decisions.