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Custom Solvers 2.0
Custom Software Development & Numerical Modelling
Custom Software Development & Numerical Modelling
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EXPERIMENTING WITH CRAZILY STUPID INDIVIDUALS (III & final)

During the current week, the activity of these crazily stupid spammers has been reduced a lot (the number of emails I got, I mean). They moved from over 20/30 daily samples of the purest and stinkiest form of pathetic crap to below 5 during the whole week! Apparently, these few exceptions were the result of a not-too-probable scenario allowed by the last quick modification I did. So, basically, they have kept doing exactly the same than so far by failing over 99.99% of the times, unless in the only scenario where, out of pure randomness, the generated HTML code was identical to the original, unmodified one.

Conclusions:
- They are definitively bots. Really stupid ones. Their "understanding" is based on looking for exact matches of the text being displayed to the users (e.g., "mail" on the LHS of the textbox where visitors are supposed to input their emails). Just some simple modification of the underlying HTML code was enough for them to not be able to send messages anymore.
- Additionally to their aforementioned tremendously limited "understanding" capabilities, they don't seem to have any kind of feedback/confirmation subsystem in place. Note that this form shows errors for both wrong input information and successfully sent messages. These bots don't seem to be reading that information (or are simply ignoring it), because they kept coming at more or less the same pace. So, the form got more or less the same number of visits from certain IPs than the previous week, but I got virtually no messages. They came, failed, didn't realise about their failure (or didn't communicate it to anyone or the one getting the notifications ignored them), tried again, etc.
- Whoever is behind this nonsense has spent some time (even just 1 minute seems too much for any not-too-stupid individual) adapting a set of bots to deal with the custom-made fields of the contact form in customsolvers.com. They have been running those bots for months non-stop, by sending really pathetic but regularly changing messages. They had a non-trivial subsystem in place updating their IPs (or the number of bots/computers is pretty relevant). But, after doing all that, they perform the most trivial, failure-prone HTML analysis and, when things change even a tiny bit, they enter in the infinite loop of stupidity try-fail-repeat?!
- Honestly, I wasn't expecting all this to end so quickly/easily. Yes, they are probably tremendously stupid/incompetent/unknowledgeable, but come on... we are taking about insultingly simple stuff! Just two minor modifications in the original form! The first one (random IDs for HTML entities which didn't have any effect because they weren't even caring about that) took me just some minutes. The second one (generating randomly modified versions of the HTML code associated with the text being displayed to the visitors) was less than 30 minutes. And I mean thinking about what to do, testing it, implementing it, etc. And I am talking about (very relaxed) Sunday minutes!!! Just clarifying that I did everything in PHP (almost all the dynamic parts of my two sites are done in the backend/PHP; customsolvers.com has some minor JavaScript reliance to show additional information when passing the mouse over links and some other secondary stuff).
- I will keep a copy of all the "contributions" during these last months (!!) for future reference. Anyone interested in knowing how the most pathetic, useless, ridiculous, incompetent, fanatic, etc. form of unadulterated craziness looks like might want to take a look at it.

Today (veeeery relaxed Saturday, almost relaxed Sunday kind), I went ahead and improved the last modifications, what took me around 10 minutes. Firstly, I removed the aforementioned low-probability scenario of finding a exact match of the text displayed to the users. Secondly, I increased the complexity of the HTML modifications in a relevant way. And lastly, I performed the only change having a minor impact on the visitor so far: the positions of the name/email fields are randomly changing now. In principle, this seems a pretty safe approach to avoid future stupidity. From now on, all the poor souls feeling like making complete fools of themselves by showing their ignorance through the customsolvers.com contact form will have to make an extra effort to accomplish their pathetic goals. Curiously, the varocarbas.com form doesn't get almost any crap (these idiots do know about it, because they have already sent some samples of their idiocy)!! Soooooo stupid at sooooo many levels!!! I will probably update the varocarbas.com contact form in brief too anyway.



My G+ account will stop working on 2-April-2019? OK. Neither excellent news nor the end of the world. In fact, this last set of posts about tremendously incompetent, arbitrary, invasive and crazily stupid "people" seems like an excellent last contribution here :)
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EXPERIMENTING WITH CRAZILY STUPID INDIVIDUALS (II)

Apparently, the first modification of relying on random HTML IDs hasn't been too effective. The crazily stupid requests have continue coming at more or less the same pace.

In principle, it does seem to make much more sense to rely on something like the aforementioned HTML, not-visible-to-users features rather than on probably-less-persistent visible text. But well... competence or common sense don't seem the kind of traits that should be expected from "people" involved in all this nonsense. So, not sure what to think. I am not even 100% sure about all this actually being done by bots. I guess that this is the case on account of the huge number of attempts, but when dealing with crazily stupid stuff like this there is no way to be sure.

Anyway. I have increased the difficulty of using the customsolvers.com contact form in an automated way one bit further. Now, the text being displayed to the visitors (e.g., "name" or "email") cannot be directly found in the underlying HTML code. The performed modifications are a bit tricky (+ random), but still relatively simple.

Let's see if this new update has an impact on the activity of these crazily stupid spammers or not.
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EXPERIMENTING WITH CRAZILY STUPID INDIVIDUALS

During the last 3-4 months, I have been getting a surprisingly high amount of crazy spam targeting the contact form of customsolvers.com (https://customsolvers.com/contact). And when I say crazy, I mean really crazy: most of the times pure nonsense, some very pathetic ads, links pointing to no idea where without a clear indication, sets of letters not forming any word in any language I know, etc.

At first, it was fun. Then, it became a bit pathetic. After that, very pathetic. And finally almost part of my daily routine (drinking my morning coffee while deleting the 5-20 crazy emails I got during the previous night). But I am not precisely a routine-friendly person and, additionally, I do feel a bit of curiosity about the kind of resources that these "people" are dedicating to such a pathetic endeavor.

During the last weeks, I have been noting down some of these IPs and banning them from my sites. The results of this first attempt have been kind of surprising: they keep coming more or less at the same pace! After having banned over 100 IPs!

So, let's make a summary of what these "people" have done to reach the current stage:
1- They have analysed the form of my site to know how to submit it automatically. Not precisely a big deal (not until now, at least :)), but still requiring some effort. Bear in mind that it is a custom-made form.
2- They have set up an IP-changing subsystem. Again not a tremendous deal, but not completely straightforward either. For example, a dynamic IP (the one that most of ISPs offer by default; note that I have to pay an extra monthly fee to get a static IP in my office) is usually changed every time the router is rebooted.

And don't forget the most important part: all this is to get the impressive prize of being tremendously ridiculous for a quite limited audience (= just myself)!!

Today, I decided to start gradually increasing the difficulty of using this contact form in an automated way. For fun. Just to know what these "people" are currently doing, how adaptable their system/knowledge are and how willing they are to continue with the ridiculous nonsense.

As far as I guess that their bots are mostly relying on the ids of the relevant HTML entities (bear in mind that the form does force to input valid-in-appearance values for each field), my first modification has been to set up random ids. A pretty simple correction which, by assuming a bit of knowledge and interest, shouldn't represent a too difficult obstacle, but let's see if they can deal with it!

I will write back in around one week to share what happened (+ next steps).
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IN CASE CUSTOMSOLVERS.COM OR VAROCARBAS.COM ARE DOWN

Bear in mind that I have developed both sites completely from scratch (no third-party implementations; just programming languages, databases and my work) and I am the only person managing them. I might eventually add some bits, but nothing too fancy/problematic. The web domain ranking part of varocarbas.com (https://varocarbas.com/domain_ranking/) is being regularly updated, but in an automated and very reliable fashion. So, the chances of any of my sites being down because of my negligence, a third-party resource problem/vulnerability (logically, vulnerabilities in PHP, JavaScript or MariaDB might affect my sites), etc. are quite low.

If you aren't able to access customsolvers.com or varocarbas.com (like a short while ago today 17-Jan-2019 13:00 CET, but it seems already fixed), the most probable reason would be that something went wrong with my hosting provider. At the moment, it is MDDHosting. They are usually quite quick at fixing anything and pretty communicative during the whole process. In case of problems, you might want to take a look at their Twitter feed (https://twitter.com/MDDHosting).

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END 2.0

You can find detailed explanations about what I mean with End 2.0 in the following pages:

- https://customsolvers.com/en/pages/attitude_2.0/end_2.0/ (English).
- https://customsolvers.com/es/paginas/actitud_2.0/final_2.0/ (Español).
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QUICKSEARCH CANCELLED

I have deleted all the publicly available resources of QuickSearch and will not continue with this development. To know more about the reasons for that decision, take a look its main page (English: https://customsolvers.com/quick_search/ Español: https://customsolvers.com/quick_search_es/).
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TOWARDS END 2.0

Some people might associate being self-employed or having a company with high income level. This isn't just inapplicable in quite a few cases (e.g., mine :)), but even irrelevant for most of people involved in all this. IMO, those starting their own company for the sole/main purpose of becoming rich are a minority and usually come from privileged, not-much-effort-required, already-rich environments. The most common goal is to be independent.

Some years ago, I had serious doubts about having chosen the best way to accomplish my goals. But after some kind of realisation (https://customsolvers.com/en/pages/evolution/towards_2.0/), I came back with renewed 2.0 motivation (http://customsolvers.com/en/pages/attitude_2.0/).

Now, I am completely sure about my misconception. All this time, I wasn't really looking for independence/freedom in an unconditional, generic way, but for absolute objectivity, fairness, honesty, etc. My error was assuming that any environment (+ enough effort) should eventually provide what I want because of being the best for everyone. This isn't the case, why keep making efforts to not get what I want? This is what the upcoming End 2.0 will be about: acceptation (+ ending).
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ABOUT BOTS AND OTHER MISCONCEPTIONS

As far as I have started talking about stupidity and today I had a pretty let's say... curious interaction with someone with a not particularly good understanding, I will write some ideas about what is evident to me but perhaps not to some other people. Not necessarily calling these other people stupid, just ignorant. The stupid appears when the ignorance isn't accepted and ridiculous bad-for-everyone decisions are made.

A bot, crawler or call it as you wish is a piece of software performing certain simple actions in internet/websites without much supervision. They can be tremendously complex or simple. Be part of an intricate network of peers or just a few. There are some methodologies to easily build them, but logically the resulting quality isn't particularly good mainly when dealing with complex scenarios (like crash courses to be an expert on something or to get rich quickly or to immediately get whatever dream you might have). Similarly to what happens with any other pieces of software (and virtually any other tool), they might also be used to perform not too honest actions (spread malware or do some kind of online impersonation). In summary, just the word bot doesn't mean much by itself, not even within the internet, web-crawling world.

So, any sensible person isn't able to tell much about what I am really doing if I only say "I am running some bots". If I add a link to their own (huuuuge) section in one of my sites (https://varocarbas.com/domain_ranking/), anyone with basic understanding skills should be able to get a better idea; namely, these are bots which I have developed completely from scratch and they are building a custom-made ranking of web domains, by being as respectful and having as little impact as possible (ignoring sites saying so via robots.txt and not storing any kind of relevant information, just counters to the given domain from random others). But this might still not be too clear for someone who has never done anything of this sort and the next logical step seems to take some look at the results (https://varocarbas.com/domain_ranking_search/) and use the search functionality or the multiple URL-based browsing alternatives. Gradually, that person would start getting some grasp about the true size/complexity of the project. At that point, most of people should start wondering (+ resolving their doubts by reading the numerous available explanations) about issues like coordination local/global, backuping subsystems, problematic situations (e.g., what I call dishonest backlinking), etc.

Basically, anyone with minor tech knowledge and interest in understanding the situation properly should be able to do so relatively quickly. At least, this is what I think. Perhaps and even despite my quite low hopes about random people in internet (see previous post), I am still expecting too much. Reading a whole page clearly explaining everything and linking to numerous further resources and/or using a friendly functionality? Perhaps, for some (necessarily quite ignorant) people, putting together some prejudices is more than enough to guess what might be the meaning/implications of the abstract word "bot".

The most ironic part is that, despite the domain ranking in varocarbas.com, what it entails (having developed/fixed/extended the bots, ranking system, coordination/backup systems, etc.) and even some of its side effects (e.g., https://varocarbas.com/domain_ranking/raw/extensions/) being by far the most time/effort consuming of my public self-promotional actions, it doesn't seem to have had a particularly positive impact on my online image. In fact, it seems pretty much the opposite. Even though you can't find many things on these lines in the whole internet and I mean at all. Not just looking at research, efficiency-focused, no hardware, no money, no benefit. I mean even big companies whose business is closely related to this kind of things. There are just a few big enough rankings/datasets which are copied/repeated everywhere.

When, some years ago, I decided to restart my online activity, presence and expectations from scratch (attitude 2.0 as I called it back then, now it sounds a bit I don't know... but it still does its work of clearly separating the before/after and defining the after); when I expected to just work hard (and for free! The price was properly transmitting what I wanted in the way I wanted!) to show some of my strongest suits; when I accepted that many people don't see things like I do, but thought that, eventually, I should be able to reach people like me, only caring about technical aspects, effort, hard work, etc.; back then, I was thinking that only two reactions were possible: people thinking like me, caring about properly understanding what I do as per my intention and liking it; and other people not liking it or not having the knowledge or not wanting to make the effort and just moving on. I was wrong. There is a third option with a pretty relevant (and completely arbitrary) impact: people not understanding it, usually with little-to-no specific knowledge and not doing even the slightest effort to compensate their limitations, but not accepting that fact and making decisions affecting me/them. I have even witnessed more active, beyond-understandable versions which can only be defined as pure fanaticism.

Long story short: after having spent lots of time and effort, not precisely under the most advantageous conditions, and reaching acceptably good stages (still too incomplete and with pending bits, but I know that I have done all what I could under the given conditions), I can say that I am quite proud of some of my public activity and it does reflect a big part of what I intended to transmit. Unfortunately, the target audience is much more difficult to be reached than what I ever expected; also the initially-irrelevant-but-gradually-tiring surrounding, invasive nonsense as defined above (ridiculous decisions made based on nonsensical misinterpretations of something on which I have ironically spent lots of effort precisely to make sure that it was a clear-for-everyone reference) isn't a nice companion.

I am not regretting anything. Just all the knowledge and clarity of ideas which I have acquired during this whole process are simply invaluable. I am really happy, perhaps a type of (fully-aware) happiness which most of people will never experience. But, some times, when I think about all the nonsense (able and willing, but arbitrarily forbidden to do by the ones who will be benefited the most; or so much effort invested, but mostly in myself and indirectly provoking problems to others via ignorance), I certainly feel a bit sad.
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FACEBOOK CURIOUS ANECDOTE

Today, I felt like reactivating my Facebook account to write the typical stupid post. Oh right... I have to explain it. I got tired of Facebook years ago and tried to delete my account, but realised that this wasn't possible. So, from that moment onwards, I have been reactivating the account once every 2/3 years to see if something changed and have been writing a quick irrelevant post. It has been a bit over 2 years since my last visit and that's why I went there today.

The interface has certainly changed since the last time I was there! Now, there doesn't seem to be a default posting public/everywhere option, but different modes. I found it pretty unfriendly, but I guess that they don't care too much about a non-user's opinion.

The unfriendly interface wasn't the curiosity, but the joined groups (or even photos)! Back then when I was actively using Facebook, I was (logically?) joking all the time and using it as an irrelevant, inoffensive distraction. My opinion about internet('s stupidity) was certainly different than now. I did certainly join many stupid groups for whatever reason (= just temporary fun). When logging in today, I got many alarms from some of these groups and went there to see what I had. And even despite knowing that, back in the day, I did join stupid groups for no good reason, some of them did sound a bit too weird to me. Completely unrelated to anything which I would ever do, even in the most jokish, irrelevant scenario! In the sense of not having any kind of relationship with any idea coming ever to my mind, but sounding like the kind of ridiculous interpretations that have been surrounding me for a while now?!

Might have been my long-time-ago-ignored and never-really-relevant-to-me Facebook account one of the sources of the pathetic nonsense surrounding me, mostly online? Might the irrelevant fact of joining (even though I don't recall it) a group in Facebook (= clicking OK to a title/picture, eventually seeing updates but mostly forgetting about it completely, mainly ridiculously stupid stuff with no relationship with anything of what I have ever done/thought/expected) have had any influence on my internet activity? On how a group of no-idea-how-to-call-them have decided to "interact" (regularly spamming me, sudden disproportionate reactions for no apparent reason, getting a regular flow of extremely weird visits in my two sites or being the target of pretty weird, sudden, apparently-unjustified decisions?) with me? And I am talking about an account that has been theoretically closed for over 5 years (eventually reactivated for some minutes to write a stupid post)!!

The main reason why I decided to stop using Facebook was precisely its completely anti-social character. I wasn't able to talk with most of my contacts, but they kept being there?! I couldn't see its point. Same thing since then with quite a few other sites/formats. Even though I have an online-based professional activity and internet presence is certainly relevant to me. On the other hand, I will never tolerate arbitrariness or any kind of (ignorance-based) imposition. So, you don't want to talk to me directly, to understand my ideas/position/knowledge? You want to have a safe way to get something from me, without risking anything, not even asking or making the effort of understanding? Just being there and getting a regular flow of easily-digestible ideas, not necessarily related to me at all? Do people like this seriously exist? Why? What is their exact point? Having nothing? LOL. In any case, I don't want to have anything to do with these individuals.

I was honestly curious about what might be the ultimate reason for all the nonsense which I have been seeing for a while. I was sure that my attitude (face-to-face, proper-understand, honest or nothing) had provoke some weirdness, mainly by bearing in mind that I am living in a small, isolated town where living (better: inventing) others' lives is all what matters (and well... other issues, but all of them related to the local peculiarities and their tendency to invent the reality). But I wasn't able to figure out the final link. I am over-explaining a lot everywhere. I couldn't believe that it was possible for someone, no matter how blind, ignorant, crazy(ly obsessed with me) might be to keep having ridiculous ideas about me on any front. There had to be some place for these individuals, some reference to somehow validate what wouldn't make the slightest sense anywhere else. A place where I haven't included all my over-explanations, where all the jokes weren't clearly tagged, where random words could be easily taken out of context. But how, where?...

It was Facebook!! My not-exactly-alive-or-dead link to the years-ago, partying, just-for-fun, inoffensive, irrelevant myself, still thinking that people couldn't be extremely stupid, fanatic, dishonest, to make up realities to fulfill their lacks and fears, mainly when being in group and in internet!! The only last place in internet where I wasn't working or explaining everything in detail. Where I was freely joking around and assuming that people was getting my jokes/liking them or not. I closed that account years ago! Or this is what I thought! Apparently, obsession, patheticism and the most stupid behaviours which I could ever imagine can feed themselves from really nothing!!

I have said many times that I am 100% over extreme stupidity. That I don't feel sadness or pity anymore. That I have seen (well... guessed because NOTHING, NEVER happens to my face!!! I only see the disproportionately weird reactions and bear the consequences!!) so much (better: so little) that nothing surprises me anymore. Even though I didn't see this one coming! Pfff... On the bright side, I am soooo sure about what I want and the way in which I want it that is almost painful. I certainly have no doubts regarding what anyone whose opinion will ever be even slightly relevant to me will have to do. Ignorance-, group-, prejudice-, misinterpretation-, obsession-based anything has a so tremendously little value for me! I really didn't want to write a new post on these lines here or anywhere else, but this realisation has been a true surprise for me!!
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CUSTOMSOLVERS.COM & VAROCARBAS.COM DOWN

The hosting provider of both sites (MDDHosting) has had an important outage during the last hours. This is a quite exceptional circumstance as far as their uptime is really good and always fix any issue very quickly. They are working hard to get everything back to normal ASAP. The only thing that I can do is waiting and trusting their professionalism. Sorry about that.

UPDATE: even though their attitude seems excellent, as usual, and I understand that problems happen even under the best conditions, it is taking certainly too long (the whole process: finding out the problems and fixing them). They have an excellent track record since I am with them some years ago and I am not considering to move somewhere else or to change my opinion about them; but this doesn't look good and I will certainly ask for more information about the exact problems. I cannot refrain myself from thinking that this is the result of various non-ideal (perhaps even bad) decisions whose main motivation was growing in size/reducing costs/earning more or perhaps just over-confidence/bad planning/bad understanding. I am happy with everything for as long as the results are fine. Today's events might indicate that this isn't the case, even that there might be some more serious issues under the hood. Hopefully, I am wrong and/or they will learn and remember what is the main reason for their success (small but quality-oriented and dependable). Otherwise, I might have to start thinking about looking for alternatives. I will never take punctual problems/errors seriously, mainly when there is a good attitude and not much could have been done to avoid them. Although I am not so understanding with bad decisions/policies, mainly when taken for bad, short-sighted reasons. Logically, I am still less understanding with dishonesty or those not taking full responsibility for their actions. Anyway, hopefully I will remember today just as an exceptionally bad day.

UPDATE2: still not back to normal, but I already know the reasons for the problems/huge delay. My previous assumption was kind of right (bad planning, crystalised in actual problems via an unfortunate event). Curiously, I participated in a discussion in Slashdot over 1 year ago when pretty much the same problem(s) happened to gitlab.com. My first impression is that these are pretty bad news because of denoting a lack of care of (very relevant) technical aspects. On the other hand, I think that these guys have an excellent attitude, feel really bad about all this and have got the best possible framework to get high-quality learning (= very tough conditions; their last 15 hours have been a true nightmare). So, for the time being, everything is fine with me. I see all this as a one-time thing from which they will learn a lot.

UPDATE3: still down, over 24h already. The ironical thing is that I have tons of backups (remember, kids: backup a lot, regularly and test the recovery process! My computer might break, my secondary computer might break too, all my external drives might get corrupted, my sites might be inaccessible, some of my cloud accounts might be destroyed and I might still keep all my data intact :)) and all what I need is to access my servers, but apparently (still not sure) I have to wait for the slow transfer of all this data. In fact, http://varocarbas.com has a huge database (mostly because of the web domain ranking) which might take quite long to be restored. I do update that database regularly (currently, every 3 days, it takes around 30-40 minutes), but my internet connection is quite fast and even the algorithm of the script I use is pretty optimised (a MySQL total import would take much longer). Quite bad situation, undoubtedly. Something which could (and should) have been avoided. But well... I reinsist in my previous ideas of this being a 1 time thing (I will certainly not be understanding with a second similar episode), liking the overall attitude of these guys and trusting that they will learn a lot from all this.

UPDATE4: everything is back to normal!! Finally!! Over 48h later! I have never had to tolerate something similar to that with any other hosting provider ever!! And even though I want to continue with MDDHosting and my opinion about them is quite good (I mean... this episode has somehow affected it; but time should heal this tiny wound)! Why is this the case might someone wonder? There might even be some people having the (tremendously-wrong) impression about me that I am not understanding with errors. What is the magic, the trick explaining such apparently-impossible behaviour might wonder some individuals (rarely wanting to properly understand)? Being professional, honest, committed to deliver the best, accepting their own errors, trying to systematically learn/improve, etc. Basically, what I deliver and expect from anyone else, but what rarely find anywhere. This is the magic that makes me being understanding with what, a priori, could even be seen as gross incompetence. Everyone makes mistakes, even big ones. Some people learn from them and grow even stronger, others see them as a problem which they make even worse through a bad management (lies, not assuming responsibility, not wanting to change, etc.). From all what I have seen until today (including their behaviour during this crisis), I think that these guys belong to that first group and that's why I don't see a big deal here. The beauty of the context: what might be horrible when done by some people might be acceptable done by others, even by being completely fair and objective.
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