All posts by Steve Novoselac

Director of Digital Technology @TrekBikes, Father, Musician, Cyclist, Homebrewer

Shut Up And Dance: Scammers using hacked passwords to extort money

Below is the email I received yesterday. Posting here so hopefully others will google and find and know this is a scam. Do not pass go, do not transfer 200 bitcoin.

For those that have watched Black Mirror – this reminds me of this episode.

Let’s cut to the chase. I do know is your password. Most importantly, I do know about your secret and I have proof of this. You do not know me and nobody paid me to examine you.

It is just your misfortune that I discovered your misadventures. The truth is, I actually setup a malware on the adult vids (porno) and you visited this site to experience fun (you know what I mean). When you were busy watching video clips, your web browser initiated functioning as a Rdp (Remote control desktop) having a keylogger which provided me access to your display screen as well as webcam. Just after that, my software gathered your complete contacts from messenger, social networks, as well as mailbox.

After that I gave in more hours than I probably should have into your life and generated a double display video. 1st part displays the recording you had been viewing and second part shows the capture of your web cam (its you doing inappropriate things).

Frankly, I am ready to forget about you and allow you to move on with your regular life. And my goal is to offer you two options that can accomplish that. Those two choices are with the idea to ignore this letter, or perhaps pay me $2700. Let us explore these two options in details.

Option One is to ignore this e mail. Let us see what will happen if you take this path. I will certainly send out your video recording to your entire contacts including relatives, colleagues, etc. It does not shield you from the humiliation your family will feel when relatives and buddies uncover your sordid videos from me.

Option 2 is to send me $2700. We’ll call it my “privacy tip”. Let me tell you what happens if you choose this option. Your secret remains your secret. I’ll destroy the recording immediately. You keep your lifetime that nothing like this ever happened.

At this point you may be thinking, “Let me call cops”. Let me tell you, I have taken steps to ensure that this e mail can’t be traced returning to me and yes it will not stop the evidence from destroying your health. I’m not looking to steal all your savings. I am just looking to get compensated for efforts and time I put into investigating you. Let’s hope you’ve decided to produce all this disappear and pay me my confidentiality fee. You will make the payment by Bitcoins (if you don’t know how, search “how to buy bitcoins” in google)

Transfer Amount: $2700
Receiving Bitcoin Address: 1HbpwLWbk4a*WjTsB272WquDq1eRnoxsHaA ( You must Remove * from this string and note it carefully)

Share with nobody what will you use the bitcoin for or they will often not give it to you. The procedure to have bitcoin may take a couple of days so do not procrastinate.
I have a special pixel in this message, and at this moment I know that you’ve read through this email. You now have two days to make the payment. If I do not get the BitCoins, I will definitely send out your video to all your contacts including relatives, coworkers, and so on. You better come up with an excuse for friends and family before they find out. Nevertheless, if I receive the payment, I’ll erase the recording immediately. It is a non-negotiable one time offer, so do not waste my time and yours. The clock is ticking. Let me remind you, my software is going to be sharing the actions you take when you’re done reading this email. Let me assure you that If you do something suspicious I will send out your sextape to your friends and family, co-workers before time finishes.

I wonder how many fall for this scam. The password was a password I used, maybe 7 years ago on a site that got hacked, before I used a password manager and had unique passwords on every site.

My feeling is that reporting as SPAM or Phishing in gmail isn’t enough here. There should be some way to report this to a broader type of scam.



Internet Explorer YouTube Embeds Duplicate Closed Captions

Ran into a funky issue recently with Internet Explorer, YouTube embeds and duplicate closed captions (CC)


Videos that you use closed captions (CC) on work fine in Chrome, Firefox, even Microsoft Edge, but some videos, some times, in some areas of the video would duplicate closed captions in Internet Explorer 11.

The fix for this is to use an iframe embed for Internet Explorer and you will no longer see duplicated CCs. The more you know!

Garmin 1000 – USB Mass Storage Mode

This past weekend, I decided to do a bike ride from Sun Prairie to New Glarus.

I have ridden my bike from Sun Prairie to Madison plenty of times so I knew the route about half of the way. What I didn’t know was the best route from Madison to New Glarus, as there are many routes.

So I got a few routes from @chdbrwn via MapMyRide. I exported them out and tried to get them on my Garmin 1000. No dice. Hooked up to the computer, Garmin wouldn’t show up. Tried a few different computers, nothing.

Then it dawned on me.. am I using the right cable? Well, turns out I wasn’t. I have a ton of USB cables and I was using one of the many, which with the Garmin 1000, would charge it if hooked to the computer, but it wouldn’t show up as a device or sync with Garmin Express. Syncing is fine since I usually sync over wifi or via the phone connection.

I found my “official” Garmin cable and it showed up right away. Now, to get the files on there. Previously on the Garmin 810 you could just copy into “Courses” or “Rides”, etc and files would show up. Turns out on the 1000 you need to put the files in “NewFiles” folder on the device and reboot, and when it comes back it, the Garmin will process them and they show up on the device. Great!

But, the file I exported from MapMyRide turns out didn’t have any cues (basically turns), so I was riding just looking at the line on the map the entire ride.  I could have used RideWithGPS to add cues, but I tried their “Write to Garmin” and it wasn’t working, not sure it was putting things in NewFiles either.

Seems like turn by turn and mapping/routes shouldn’t be this complicated in the year 2015.

Bottom line, make sure you have the right cable, and also set up your cues on the route file before importing. Happy Riding!

Testing Hardware – QA and the Nest Thermostat 

I have had a Nest thermostat now for 3 years. For the first year it was great. Then, something shorted out in our furnace or something and it went haywire. 

Problem was, the furnace blower would try to start when the A/C was on. Not good.

A bug fix was to just disconnect the heat wire during the summer. But I am getting sick of that. 

And how can I prove that it isn’t a botched wire job or a screwed up Nest?

Most HVAC companies still don’t know much about Nest and that’s a shame, but their first line of defense would be to blame the Nest anyways.

Tonight I ran and picked up a $25 programmable thermostat and wired it up. All wires. To try to replicate the problem 

Well I hook it up and no problems. My guess is the Nest is borked. Now on to try to prove that.

In any event here is my test harness :)

So now the question is. Try to get it fixed/replaced or just buy a new one. After I get it sorted I will update this post.

Microsoft Business Intelligence Now and Into The Future

10 years ago, it was SSIS/SSAS/SSRS

Then in 2007 SharePoint, PerformancePoint/SSRS

Then in 2010 Power Pivot in Excel/SharePoint, then Power View in SharePoint

Then in 2013 Power BI … Power Pivot, Power View, Power Query, Power Map.. In Excel and Office 365.

Now in 2015 Power BI Version 2. Not in Office 365, separate. Power BI Designer, or use the Power BI web site to set up your dashboards, mobile, etc.

All the while, the existing solutions that have been available previously are still there and available, making things… well, confusing to say the least.

Most shops .. It all depends on when they started going heavy BI with the Microsoft tools, on where they land. Also, how well they could move when things change, as well as how much they want to stay up to date with the tools.

If you started 10+ years ago, you probably have a good base of ETLs written in SSIS, as well as many multi-dimensional (MD) OLAP cubes in SSAS, and SSRS reports off your cubes and data warehouse, running in SSRS Native Mode. You started with SQL 2000 if you were lucky, with cubes and dts packages, but then SQL 2005, then 2008, 2008 R2, 2012, 2012 R2 and now are on 2014. You really liked 2005 SP2 and 2008 R2 for the BI features :). This setup is like the VB6 or .NET Winforms of BI. It will probably be around forever in some way shape or form but not a ton of updates and Microsoft has moved on.

If you started a little later you might have SSRS in SharePoint mode, and some Performance Point dashboards. You might have even used Performance Point for planning/budgeting (and loved it?) until Microsoft killed it. Then you had to look for alternatives for that, or use OLAP Cube Writeback. In my opinion, SSRS in SharePoint and Performance Point are dead. Not dead as in they don’t work or won’t be supported, but I see them as the wrong path, life supported direction. If you are still using these heavy I would look for alternatives.

Now it gets interesting. You started with Excel 2010 and PowerPivot (no space!) and had SharePoint 2010 setup and Power View in SharePoint. You created V1 Power Pivot models, they were limited, you could do some things, but still it was limited. You still needed to get data somewhere so SSIS ETL’s or something to get data in tables you can use. If you are using Power View in SharePoint, I would hurry up and look for alternatives, it is dead (my definition of dead like SSRS/PP in SharePoint). Excel 2010 is long past and V1 PowerPivot is dead too. Seems like this era was short lived and just a stepping stone.

Then, in 2013, Power BI. So they added a space to Power Pivot :) .. And made it better, v2. Added missing features, Tabular SSAS cubes even! And Power View could be used in Excel. They both came by default in Excel (depends on version) but turned off. Power Query came out of nowhere and is awesome and Power Map, while buggy, was better than nothing. But what do you do with all these solutions you build? Where to publish? Not SharePoint on prem? But Power BI in SharePoint Online.. So you need Office 365 and Power BI subscription. You set up Data Management Gateway so you can get to your on prem data sources. You can refresh once a day or manually. You can do some pretty cool things, create workbooks with pivots and Power Views.

But you are missing things. Missing things like the ability to schedule a report to run and email someone, like SSRS. You are missing awesome formatting abilities for every pixel like SSRS. You wonder when SSRS is going to come to Power BI or what your options are… you hope you see iterations and features released to Power BI as that is the path, but then..

New Power BI Preview comes out in 2015. It has a standalone Power BI Designer (reminiscent of the Performance Point designer) that lets you create reports, dashboards and save a file to publish to the NEW Power BI portal. So you have two Power BI portals.. New and old. They don’t overlap or talk to each other, the licensing is different, etc. The old Power BI lets you connect to SQL on prem with refresh with the DMG and other data sources, etc. The new one does not. The new one lets you connect to GitHub and SalesForce and Marketo, but not other data sources that the old Power BI did. The new Power BI lets you connect to on-prem TABULAR SSAS cubes with refresh, but not MD ones (yet). The new Power BI lets you connect to excel data in OneDrive/OneDrive for Business. So could one publish a data file out to ODFB to faux refresh? I have yet to try. The new Power BI lets you publish dashboards to the iOS Mobile apps and also  embed (up to 10 MB – which needs change to be bigger) on websites. New Power BI has an API that lets you create your own connectors / REST API for things. And the list goes on and on.

So where does that leave us? Well, of you invested time and money in BI the last 10 years, you might feel like Microsoft is abandoning you. It kind of seems that way. You need to change or get left behind. But what do you change to? Change your MD cubes to Tabular? Rethink your architecture? Sync data to Azure?  Power Pivot/Power Query? Abandon SharePoint as a BI tool? Move your reports from SSRS to something else or Power BI (if you can?) I am unsure. Still trying to figure it all out.

One thing for sure is, it will always keep evolving. Me, I would say, tabular first if you are on prem. Try to use Power BI where you can. Minimize SSRS reports. Use SSRS native instead of SharePoint. Stop using PerformancePoint if you are still using it or thinking about it. I bet at some point SSRS comes to the new Power BI – there is an item on the UserVoice forum already asking for it. Try the Power BI Designer and Website and see what you can do. Always be trying to get something going in the newest and latest technology/tools available.

Have Fun with Microsoft BI now and what is yet to come!


No More Attachments

What is one of the biggest time sucks in corporate information workflow?

Email Attachments.

Let’s go through an exercise.

Person A sends out an Excel document, Word document, PowerPoint presentation – choose your poison. They send it to 6 people. They ask each person to update a section and send it back to get merged.

First off, this is very 1999ish. We have better ways to do this. But let’s continue.

Person 1, 2, 3 start to update their sections. Person 1 replies directly to Person A, Person 2 replies to all. Person 3 though needs feedback from people not on the original chain. So they cut out their section, create a new document, and email it to Person X and Y. Person X updates something and sends it back to Person 3 but also CC’s Person B. Person Y updates the SAME part and sends back to 3 and X.

Confused yet? I am.

Person 3 then needs to merge sections but there are conflicts. So more back and forth on that with more attachments and revisions. Naming files CoolFileName_Rev5, Rev6, etc.

Meanwhile, back to our original 6. It has been a few hours, or a day, and Person 4, 5, 6 have been updating their stuff but haven’t sent anything back. But wait! Person 1 realized they didn’t have some critical info in the document, so they create a new revision themselves, this time with changes incorporated from Person 1 and 2, but not 3, and new changes from Person A that they forgot. They then send that revision back to Person 1-6 again and say sorry, but figure out what I changed and update your sections again. We go back to zero.

I could keep going here but you get the idea. Before you know it, there are multiple copies (10? 15? 20?) floating around, none of which are the master. It ends up being way more work for everyone involved.

I said earlier this is a better way. But what is it?

Well, using collaboration tools the way they were meant to be used would be a great start.

How about this? Person A saves their document to SharePoint (or insert your favorite collaboration tool here). In the document library they save it to, they turn of document revisions. They then send out the same email but without the attachment, instead a link to the document. The instruct Person 1-6 to try to “edit it Office Online/Web” so they can edit at the same time and not run into having file locking issues.

Person 1-6 then start their edits, and they can see the others working on it. Person 3 asks Person A to share the link/document library with Person X and Y, and they join in as well. Person X then asks for Person B to be included, and that happens too.

When Person A realizes they forgot some key info, they just update the master and send out a note that they update it, but everyone working on the document sees that too, and better yet, revisions are saved as time goes on, so they can see edits over time.

Which way do you want to work?

I choose the latter. Let me hear it.. “but so and so doesn’t know how to use tool X” or “it is too hard to get it going” etc. Well, I would choose a little pain up front the first few times using this new way of doing things instead of the perpetual nightmare of attachments forever.

Can we all agree, that “no more attachments” would be a good mantra? Who is with me?

First @trekbikes Hackathon

Last night was the first Trek Bikes Software Development Hackathon.

A modest turnout, we had fun. Two teams, we worked on different parts of a revamp of an internal web service we all would like to see work better.


One team focused on the front end and API and one team on the data and service bus.


Hopefully this is just the start and we do these regularly. We had people from not just IT but other parts of the business as well. Everyone coded, everyone committed to source.


Pizza from Sal’s, Good WI Beer, Soda as well. Success. Even Ella came out and did some hacking (on the Surface RT… with Fresh Paint :))



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