Fresh install, posts imported

I’ve nuked everything the Brainstorm Warning web site, installed a fresh copy of WordPress, and imported all posts. User accounts did not carry over, but please hold off on registering again until I can confirm that the root cause of the malware infections has been resolved.

I’ll post updates as they become available.

Google Malware notification

I’ve discovered that Google has blacklisted Brainstorm Warning as infected by malware. I have reviewed the site code, found no evidence of malware, and requested a review from Google using their Webmaster Tools.

I’m guessing that my previous battles with SQL injection attacks (involving base64_decode ¬†and several hours of cleanup) landed me on the blacklist.

I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. I will post again after I receive word back from Google that Brainstorm Warning has been cleared.

“Access forbidden” error on Straight Talk

My wife and I recently switched from a basic phone plan with AT&T to Straight Talk’s unlimited talk, text, and “web browsing” plan. Almost from day one, we’ve repeatedly encountered an “access forbidden” error message when trying to pull up a web page in Chrome or the default Android web browser. Other apps that require Internet access also fail to connect (e.g. Amazon AppStore, Google Play Store, Facebook, etc.). The issue is not constant, but I encounter it approximately half to two-thirds of the times I move out of wi-fi range and into an area with HSPA+.

And it seems I’m not the only one with this problem. The following threads were posted to the Straight Talk Wireless Forums starting Sept. 22 and on:

Galaxy Nexus (ATT-sim) Web access forbidden

Access Forbidden

Access forbidden issue – a look behind the scenes

“Access Forbidden” each time I try to use the internet

“access forbidden”

Access Forbidden

“access forbidden” (internet over 3G)

There are similar threads on other sections of the ST Wireless Forums and all posts are met with the same response: A user claiming to represent ST asking the customer to contact them via private message.

Customers on other forums have reported the same issue:

 access forbidden

“Access Forbidden” message in browser

Having a very weird issue with data and phone?

It’s apparent this is a widespread issue and I’ve yet to find one fix that works consistently (or at all). Straight Talk has not provided a public explanation or solution, suggesting they either are unwilling or, more likely, unable to resolve the problem.

It’s possible that this issue is not specific to Straight Talk, but also affects other AT&T MVNOs. It’s not unreasonable to suspect that AT&T is purposely crippling their MVNO users’ data to push them back toward a post-paid plan with a subsidized phone, higher cost for the consumer, and greater profit margin for AT&T.

I’m strongly recommending that all Straight Talk customers that encounter this issue file a complaint against ST with the Florida Office of the Attorney General. Until customers put pressure on Straight Talk to resolve this issue, they likely won’t put any pressure on AT&T and we likely won’t see a solution.

Heartbreak

My wife had a miscarriage Sunday, July 1.

The days leading up to the miscarriage were terrifying. The days following the loss were devastating.

My wife and I prayed fervently when she started spotting. We wept together when it was clear that the child was lost. I experienced anger, resentment, terror, confusion, grief, and a whirlwind of other terrible emotions.

I do not understand why this horrible tragedy took place. I can not make sense of it, no matter how hard I try. I have a strong tendency to attempt to conjure satisfactory explanations for the trials and tribulations of my life, but I could find no reason sufficient to justify the loss of an unborn human life. I could find reason in mature Christians, strong in the faith, suffering cancer and dying young, all the while glorifying God, but I could not and can not find reason in this.

Nevertheless, I privately pledged when I first learned my wife was pregnant that I would not turn away from my faith should the worst come to pass. The pledge would be impossible to keep in my own strength. Left to my own self apart from the strength of God, I would likely throw myself wholly into any available distraction to drown out the pain; I would look away from the excruciating question of God's sovereignty in the suffering of believers. I confess I did all those things and fear I will do them again.

If there was no God, if I were simply an assembly of random particles, if there was no design and no Designer, then what would be left after such an earth-shattering loss than despair, distraction, or madness?

I know that I will continue to wonder if some sin of mine cost my unborn child his or her life. There are days since the miscarriage when I suspect and fear and almost certainly know that if I would have not done something I should not have or done something that I should have that the child would have been born safely. In my more lucid moments, I dismiss the theory, but, unless God should intervene, I will suffer the doubts for years to come. It may be that Prosperity Gospel and triumphalism dug its roots into me deeper than I once suspected. It may be that Satan or demons are hard at work to drive me to a crippling guilt. It may be that there is merit to this admittedly terrifying suspicion. I can not yet say anything with certainty and I suspect it may be years or even a lifetime before these tormenting questions are answered with finality and authority.

Despite my doubts, I have chosen to hold firm to my faith in the sovereignty of God. I still believe He is omnipotent; He could have saved my child's life if He chose to. I still believe He is still a just God, as Scripture says. And I still believe He loves me.

Certainly, to one who has not recognized one's own sinful nature, repented, and accepted God's gift of salvation, such talk must sound like madness or wishful thinking. Those who share my faith in a great God will understand such belief is anything but foolishness.

What hope can we, as Christians, offer a suffering world if we ourselves do not suffer? How can we expect to point people to Christ through what we do and who we are if we only follow Christ in times of prosperity and joy? What value is a belief that crumbles at the first hint of opposition?

I grieve for the loss of my unborn child. A precious human life was lost and nothing I do can rewind time or save that life. Nothing I did and nothing I said was powerful enough to prevent my wife's miscarriage. I have often said that "control is an illusion," though I never wanted to be so wrong as the Saturday before my wife miscarried. I stubbornly hoped there was something I could do or say to ensure my wife carried the child to term.

I do not expect to wake up one day and be "over it." There are days where I can carry on, business more or less as usual, my co-workers and others oblivious to the tragedy my wife and I endured and are enduring, and put it out of my mind for a while. Yet there are moments when I feel I can hardly breathe and I can only choke back tears by fear of the embarrassment of crying publicly. More than once I have remembered C.S. Lewis writing, "I never knew grief felt so much like fear."

In the days following my wife's miscarriage, it was sometimes difficult to hold my daughter without crying because she has been and continues to be such a precious gift. I often told my wife, "This child's awesome. I want another." And I still do. I have not given up on giving my daughter a little brother or sister and ask for your prayers that, if it is the Lord's will, that my wife's next pregnancy would go smoothly and lead to a healthy full-term baby.

Following the miscarriage, in my selfishness, I desired to remain silent. I did not want to hear words of comfort when I knew no human could provide lasting comfort. I did not want to share a matter so deeply personal, especially since I tend to be a very private person.

Yet more than that, I desired to honor the life that was lost and, even more importantly, glorify the God that has saved me from the penalty of sin, is saving me from the power of sin, and will one day save me from the presence of sin.

I pray I will never have to experience such loss again, but I also seek to submit to God's will for my life. I also pray for others who have experienced the same loss and offer what must seem like such a paltry consolation: To pray with you when I myself still struggle daily to work through my grief. Know that you are not alone and do not turn away from a God who still loves you in the face of suffering. I speak to myself as much as, if not more than, I speak to any other.

In closing, I would like to point anyone else experiencing suffering or loss to the message Suffering in the Believer's Life by Alistair Begg. The message has helped me in my attempt to keep my focus on Scripture and the Author of the Word through this terrible time. I have never known Begg to "tickle the ears" of his listeners, instead preaching the Word of God with authority and clarity, and this message is no exception.

Aspire theme removed, WordPress virus cleanup

I received the following e-mail today:

The daily antivirus scan of your blog suggests alarm.

http://www.brainstormwarning.org

Notify message by AntiVirus for WordPress http://wpantivirus.com

I’ve spent the last two and a half hours cleaning up the site, removing all themes, installing a fresh copy of the default theme, and cleaning the database of any potentially malicious code.

If you’d like to see a different theme for Brainstorm Warning, please post a comment with a link to download the theme.

Links: Recap of the first 4 books of A Song of Ice and Fire

I checked A Dance With Dragons out from my local library today and found myself struggling to remember plot elements from a book I read 7 years ago. (ADWD picks up where A Storm of Swords leaves off, but with a different cast of characters than A Feast for Crows.) Fortunately, I found this excellent 4-part recap of the first four books of the series:

Now I feel like I’m prepared to get back to reading the 1,000+ page behemoth that is A Dance With Dragons.

How to play Soma Bringer on the Nintendo DS in English–legally

Want to play one of the greatest action RPGs ever but can't read Japanese and don't want to break the law? Then read on for instructions on how to play Soma Bringer for the Nintendo DS–legitimately.

Step 1: Buy a flashcart. If you have an original DS or a DS Lite, I recommend the R4 DS Revolution. If you have a DSi or DSi XL, I recommend the Acekard 2i.

Step 2: Buy a copy of Soma Bringer. You can purchase a new copy from Play-Asia.com (recommended) or a used copy on eBay.

Step 3: Back up your Soma Bringer cartridge. This step is a tad complicated, but there's an excellent step-by-step guide over at RomUlation.

Step 4: Download the Soma Bringer Open Translation patch. You can read more about the patch at its official thread on the GBATemp Forums.

Step 5: Apply the patch to your Soma Bringer backup file. Instructions are included with the patch download linked above.

Step 6: Copy the patched Soma Bringer backup file to your flashcart.

Step 7: Insert the flashcart into your DS and play!

I hope to post similar tutorials for American gamers after Xenoblade and The Last Story are released in Europe and after the Pandora's Tower fan translation patch makes further progress.

4 trouble codes on 97 Nissan Maxima: 0325, 0400, 0500, 0600

Originally posted to Nissan Forums:

My check engine light recently came back on in my 1997 Nissan Maxima SE. I took it to AutoZone, an employee checked for codes, and found the following:

0325: Knock Sensor Circuit Malfunction

0400: EGR function – no/low flow detected

0500: Vehicle speed sensor circuit fault

0600: AT Communication error

I’ve seen at least 3 of these 4 codes previously (possibly all 4; my memory fails me) when dealing with a recurring issue: My speedometer would sporadically not activate (for lack of a better word) when driving. The issue started occurring more frequently until I finally took it to a mechanic, who gave me two options: A quick but likely temporary fix at a lower cost or a more expensive but permanent fix. I opted for the less expensive fix and didn’t experience the issue again for several months.

I started having the same issue again recently (speedometer not activating), but smacking the dashboard directly above the speedometer would sometimes temporarily force the speedometer to work again.

I haven’t noticed the car handling any differently and haven’t had the speedometer issue in the last week or so, but I’m concerned that the AutoZone employee found 4 trouble codes. I’m not that concerned about driving around town, but I sometimes visit family out of town and I don’t want to take my Maxima on the highway without first knowing that it’s safe.

As for many others in this economy (and terrible, terrible job market), money is tight right now, so I don’t want to spend more than absolutely necessary to resolve these issues once and for all; however, I also don’t want to neglect my or my family’s safety.

What would you all advise?

How I Spent Last Year’s Gift Money (2010 Edition)

Merry Christmas, everyone!

I wanted to thank everyone for their wonderful gifts this year. I heard at least one family member express a desire to know how my wife and I spent our gift money, which reminded me to post how I spent the gift money I received last Christmas (2009) and on my birthday earlier this year.

Click past the break for a list of items I purchased with gift money this last year.

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