Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Comment: Re:Dear DICE (Score 1) 216

by AFCArchvile (#49732807) Attached to: Trojanized, Info-Stealing PuTTY Version Lurking Online

You're allowing Javascript? Why?

Install a plugin like NoScript and lock down as much as humanly possible. Then, take screenshots of all the half-broken webpages, send them to the webmasters, and tell them how much better their page looks without all of the CPU-sapping, privacy-violating scripts running.

Comment: Are you happy now, Sinofsky and Larson-Green? (Score 2) 109

by AFCArchvile (#49714375) Attached to: Microsoft Study Finds Technology Hurting Attention Spans

I like how this study is coming from the perpetrator of Metro tiles being foisted on anything and everything Microsoft (the non-touchscreen Windows OS, XBox, even Microsoft support websites, to a certain extent).

Oh, but the upside is that we're better multitaskers... very slightly, since we're so accustomed to seeing about 55 different tiles with two-word captions and stock image tile backgrounds. Unfortunately, that counts very little, as it doesn't make up for the depth one can reach with dedicated concentration on a single topic at a time.

Comment: Re:A poorly made point, but still a point (Score 1) 618

by AFCArchvile (#49712875) Attached to: Editor-in-Chief of the Next Web: Adblockers Are Immoral

I don't want to get rid of all ads, just ads that don't have standards of decency. One of the points you made about "why ads work" is "they don't require any sort of opt-in". Okay, that's sort of like an uninvited guest to a party; using that analogy, an "uninvited guest" who makes a good entrance and contributes something positive is a pleasant surprise, but a disruptive, patronizing, or malicious uninvited guest needs to be seized by the bouncers, hauled out of the premises, and forbidden from ever returning.

In short, we need better web advertising standards. What we have now is the foxes watching the henhouse, insisting that nothing is ever wrong, which has resulted in the constant arms race of ad frequency, ad pervasiveness, and ad disruptiveness. Additionally, we also have hackers and organized crime using third-party ad services as a conduit to launching malware and viruses. Therefore, this system has completely and utterly failed to serve the public interest.

I hesitate to say it, but YouTube's ad curation has been rather good, in terms of limiting the damage to the first 30 seconds in most video loads, and they've done a better job post-Christmas of choosing relevant content. (Those awful nationwide Nissan ad purchases seem to have lapsed; when those hit, I would just cover the browser with another browser window of another article I was reading at the time; that's probably the next target in the ad arms race, to pause ads when they're not the top window). Whereas what TNW is doing is a new nadir in static webpage advertising, to the point where I almost universally forbid Javascript, and fear that every other web designer is going to go that route because the "disruptive trendsetter I read for all my web news" is doing it.

That said, I doubt we're going to get closer to any kind of standards to ratchet the annoyance factor back, because the website owners are so far vested on the side of ceaselessly defending ads, the source of most of their revenue. I've already stopped visiting most of these websites anyway, and despite their protests, I've had no problems reading articles from the Associated Press, National Public Radio, and even some newspapers whose "faux-paywall" relies entirely on Javascript to obscure content already sent to the browser ("Oh, I'm sorry, my browser doesn't support Javascript... wait, no, I'm not sorry.").

Comment: Re:His viewpoint is staggeringly ignorant (Score 1) 618

by AFCArchvile (#49712735) Attached to: Editor-in-Chief of the Next Web: Adblockers Are Immoral

The psychological predatorial practices are exactly why we need the US equivalent of an "Advertising Standards Authority". It's a better alternative than "cutting out all ads", though the likes of Boris and Martin will still wail in horror at the very idea of ads being regulated. But we're already at the point where most ads have crossed the line of decency. Which is why I already took steps on my side, and blocked out almost all Javascript (but not necessarily targeting ads; there's a notable difference there).

That said, I think there's going to be a crash in websites once this ad ridiculousness reaches some sort of threshold. I don't know what it will look like, but I'm guessing it will be something out of Idiocracy.

Comment: If it quacks like an interstitial... (Score 1) 618

by AFCArchvile (#49712415) Attached to: Editor-in-Chief of the Next Web: Adblockers Are Immoral

Here's an ultra-condensed, slightly re-ordered version of the Q&A:

Q: Isn't this just an interstitial?
A: No. We donâ(TM)t like interstitials either. They sit between you and the content and require another click and new pageload before you can proceed to the article.

Q: How can I skip the Canvas ad and read the article?
A: As soon as the page loads you can move your cursor to the article and it will slide back over the Canvas ad. Pro tip: hit the âcâ(TM) key on your keyboard and the article will move in or out right away. Try it now to see how it works!

I'm sorry, how is this functionally different from an interstitial? And no, Boris, you may not answer "because it uses canvases," because HTML5 and Javascript can trigger reloads on their own.

My current default browsing environment is the following:
- Firefox with NoScript, Classic Theme Restorer, and Status-4-Evar
- Pale Moon with NoScript (I'm heavily considering abandoning Firefox entirely, aside from obligatory browser compatibility testing)
- In ultra-extenuating circumstances, elinks (this is what I have to use for my local newspaper's website when I have to perform the 1 odd search every 3 months for a police blotter story. Their website forces a navigation forward saying that the browser is broken, and elinks handles it in the most graceful fashion when I click the "Back" button. The Boston Globe is far less annoying for odd searches, and if a newspaper truly wants to paywall their content, they can go with the Rupert Murdoch method and refrain from sending the full article text in the base HTML.)

I had the page for the Q&A open, and I went to NoScript and clicked "Temporarily allow all this page"; what a mistake that was. It proceeded to chug, and take almost 25 seconds to load an abomination of 78 scripts among 21 external domains (20 if I count "tnwcdn.com" as internal), and it took 4 different stages of "Temporarily allow all this page" to allow everything. It's a veritable cross-site scripting nightmare, and the end result is a full-page ad (sometimes video or with semi-transparent animated layers) covering 92% to 99% of the page, with the far right edge consisting of the article dangling annoyingly in a sine-wave oscillation on the right half. It was so disgusting, I had to click "Revoke Temporary Permissions" to restore some visual sanity, and make me not want to "kill -9" Firefox out of spite.

I'm going to be brutally honest: this is the kind of website design that led me to browse the web the way I do now: Flash disabled unless I specifically enable it, and NoScript set with its ultra-agressive rules. I don't even need AdBlock, because NoScript takes care of the most annoying elements powered by the reckless abuse of Javascript in modern website design. If there's a regular banner ad that isn't Javascript, I'll see it, and if it's really good, there's a faint chance I might click it. If there's a page whose core content can't be rendered without any of these ultra-annoying elements, I leave, never come back, and tell all my friends how disgusting the page is (as I will do for The Next Web; there are plenty of other tech blogs that don't stoop this low).

I'm also getting really tired of the overuse of slide animations in HTML5/Javascript website design. If I were to make a listicle of the worst HTML5/Javascript abominations, The Next Web's design decisions here would be number 1.

I'm also insulted by TNW's proselytization about ads, because they've been so deep in the marketing tank due to their financial position (they have to get funding to keep their website running, and they're hopelessly stuck in the web ad arms race), their undying love for annoying touch-centric webpage design (their "about" page ( http://thenextweb.com/about/ ) has a static non-scrolling background in the top 20%; that's one of the oldest asinine elements of ultra-touch-hipsterish web design that has been plaguing websites since 2011; Vox is one of the other most prominent offenders), and their denial of the possibility of running a tech blog with a moderate-to-low amount of understated, non-annoying advertising. It's sad that classy sites like GigaOm have died off, and we're left with this HTML5 / Javascript / hyper-ad-infused junk like Vox, TNW, TechCrunch, and other asinine prisoner-to-fads tech news websites that I can't name off the top of my head because I stopped visiting them entirely for the past year.

And yes, I'm saying this knowing that Slashdot is now just a proxy for Dice to channel lots of job applicant market research. The number of stealth Dice articles in the past week has been disgusting.

Comment: Re:So far so good. (Score 1) 211

by AFCArchvile (#49591219) Attached to: Yes, You Can Blame Your Pointy-Haired Boss On the Peter Principle

Companies should be careful about misplaced pride for "promoting from within". When I was unemployed last winter, I remember being on a phone screen with one company who prided themselves on ONLY promoting from within. Of course, that shielded the flipside of the same coin: the only positions that had external searches were the bottom-of-the-barrel positions, in terms of pay. Even if the position required years of work experience, it was really only suitable for a kid straight out of college, living with their parents.

After hearing the paltry pay numbers, and the demands to use a personal phone for sales cold calling, and my car for constant business trips, I backed off. Then, I thought about the stance of "ONLY promoting from within," and of the Super Turbo Peter Principle ecosystem that this policy had probably created. And they took pride in that, as part of their company culture.

Comment: Re:Opinion of a Opera 12.x user (Score 1) 167

by AFCArchvile (#49203157) Attached to: Hands-On With the Vivaldi Browser

I agree on the "no title bar" con; UI flattening has already been abused, literally ad nauseam, by Microsoft (Windows 8) and Apple (OS X Yosemite). It looks insulting to window UI conventions... but at the same time, it reclaims some height space, and there's still plenty of titlebar handle to grab. That said, the actual functionality of the menu clicking feels glitchy in Windows 7, as though there are delays in rendering the highlights while hovering, and in drawing the menu while clicking. Was it really not worthwhile to use a standard Windows frame like everything else? (I guess that falls under "ugly UI, no native look"). Also, I'd love to see the option to disable all animations and blends; I find them to be a waste of time.

I also think that Vivaldi should shamelessly copy the NoScript per-server Javascript disable functionality. Firefox and NoScript have become my standard browser; I've seen far less memory usage, and far faster page load times. Sure, some pages load half-broken, but those are mostly JavaScript abominations chock full of web fonts, animations, and silly effects, and if I care enough, I'll enable only the domains I need in order to carry out the task I wish to execute by visiting the webpage. Bonus points for sites that continue to work almost completely even with Javascript disabled (including slashdot.org).

Comment: Re:Why are windows users so whiny? (Score 1) 516

by AFCArchvile (#49137427) Attached to: Users Decry New Icon Look In Windows 10

It's funny you say it that way, because with Windows 8's Start Screen default on all computers, Microsoft was effectively telling keyboard and mouse PC users that they were using the wrong human interface devices, and should have been using a touchscreen (perhaps a Microsoft Surface, hmmm?).

Since the run up to Windows 8, Microsoft's marketing plan for their OSes, and by extension, Visual Studio and XBox. This isn't by accident: you can tell the direction from the comments of Julie Larson-Green (creator of the Ribbon) at the 2013 Wired Business Conference: http://winsupersite.com/window...

"There have been discussions... meaningful discussion [of bringing back the classic Start menu]. But we believe fully in the Start screen and the model of having these live tiles. The [old] Start menu was never really built for multiple applications... the Start screen offers dramatic improvement. Windows today is so much more than launching applications... the [old] Start menu is not the be-all, end-all. [But] the button might be helpful to have on the screen. We're principled in the direction we're heading, but we're not going to be stubborn... It's not to spite you." [Laughs]

Yes, Hanlon's Razor applies here, but it feels like there's been a veritable conspiracy of intentionally orchestrated ignorance in Microsoft's UI design. There was plenty of resistance to the Ribbon when it was forced onto Office, but at least the legacy key combinations remained. But many of those UI changes, as well as the Metro marketing push, were force-fed onto the userbase, so I don't blame those users for complaining vehemently. We're at the point where UI duct-tape utilities like Classic Shell are compulsory for proper usability in content-creation scenarios for an operating system, and right now it looks like this is going to continue for Windows 10, as far as icons are concerned.

Comment: Re:Visual Studio (Score 1) 516

by AFCArchvile (#49137225) Attached to: Users Decry New Icon Look In Windows 10

Visual Studio has been a veritable breeding ground for bad design decisions, particularly the ALL-CAPS menus and monochromization of the entire interface in Visual Studio 2012. The now-fully-expected Microsoft PR cycle materialized: a salvo of Delay, Defend, Deny... http://blogs.msdn.com/b/visual... ...followed by an admission by Visual Studio product manager Brian Harry: "The implementation of the new UI in 2012 was a mess" ( http://www.itwriting.com/blog/... )

Probably the most damning quote from Harry is this: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/bharry... "...there was a bit of a 'cone of secrecy' around the new UI because we didn't want it 'leaking'. Even I didn't get to see it until months into it." That seems emblematic of the era when the Metro design team going full steam ahead with Metrofying every Microsoft product before, during, and even after Windows 8's buildup, launch, and colossal customer repudiation, as well as the ouster of main Metro proponent Steven Sinofsky. And yet even now, we continue with an MS PR demeanor that could be charitably described as "proselytizing" (yes, that's normal for PR, but that's only one part of their job; another part is to listen to customer feedback).

Comment: Re:Bad usability, man (Score 1) 516

by AFCArchvile (#49136973) Attached to: Users Decry New Icon Look In Windows 10

I wholeheartedly agree that the "flattening" and "thinning" of all of the icons has crippled usability for me. Sure, I grew up being stuck with DOS at home when I was a kid, while watching the Macs at schools progress to System 7 and their 3D buttons adding depth to the interface, back in the old days of UIs having to account for low-color displays (especially in the bad old days of Windows 3.1, where increasing the color bitdepth would reduce the amount of icons that Program Manager could hold in memory; I remember reading about that in the manual for a videocard, either Cirrus Logic or Number Nine). Windows 2000 brought in a really nice evolution of the 95 / NT 4 UI with drop shadows and menu fade-ins; on my Windows 7 PC, those are currently the only effects enabled (I've disabled minimize/maximize effects to eliminate the delay and distraction of those window sizing events).

However, with Metro, I feel that they've spearheaded a terrible trend, and put it on life support (with an assist by Jony Ive at Apple). Putting all of the touchscreen-centric exasperations aside (and I'm truly glad that Microsoft literally HAS put many of those aside in Windows 10), the Metro design language is too flat, too thin, and too sparse. First, the Segoe typeface is too thin. Yes, thin is trendy, and Jony Ive did the same thing over at Apple by putting Helvetica on an anorexia diet and making it the official typeface of iOS 7/8 and Yosemite. My second major gripe is the reliance on ultra-sparse XY grids of "icon boxes", with icons that are intentionally monochrome, so they can be vectorized (if you look at many trend-chasing websites these days, they use a web font to populate icons). I'm personally baffled, because multiple colors and depth add context that the human mind can interpret, and most OSes these days support high-resolution icons (Apple Icon Image Format supports up to 1024x1024; Windows icons go up to 256x256).

In the Softpedia screenshot of the Windows 10 Explorer, I don't mind the folder icons too much, though I do wish they could at least give them drop shadows in the icon itself, as was the case in Windows 7. But drop shadows are apparently forbidden because they would belie the "flatten everything" ethos of the Metro design language.

The way I see it, this will all phase away, much like another design era that was pervasive at the time, and had plenty of fervent proponents shouting down anyone who said anything negative about it: the 1970's era of bizarre typefaces and orange and brown everywhere: http://fontsinuse.com/tags/299...

I also find it hilarous that Microsoft used a George Orwell quote in one of their design blog entries: http://blogs.windows.com/blogg...

I'll volunteer another slightly altered Orwell quote: "If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on an interface -- forever."

Comment: Re:No wonder. (Score 1) 188

by AFCArchvile (#49132447) Attached to: Google Now Automatically Converts Flash Ads To HTML5

I agree; ads should portray a product or service in a tasteful, non-distracting manner. Unfortunately, those standards were thrown out the window entirely about 10 to 15 years ago, with an ever-escalating arms race:

- Popup ads
- Java ads (yes, remember those? The "Punch the monkey and win $20" banner ad from 2000 was one of the most notorious instances of this.)
- Flash ads (vector-based)
- Flash video ads (made more prevalent with the increasing consumer bandwidth)
- And now, HTML5 ads.

Most of these types of ads had some form of ultimate opt-out:

- Popup ads: from 2001 onward, an increasing number of browsers received either plug-in or native support to screen or fully disable popup ads. This ultimately made the "window.open" Javascript method taboo in most legitimate website design (and rightfully so; it was abused ad nauseam by ads like X10).

- Java ads: don't install Java. Unless you want to play Minecraft or use software which (unfortunately) requires Java, this is pretty easy. Alternatively, there are other ways to disable Java, including an Oracle-sanctioned method to disable it via the Java Control Panel: http://java.com/en/download/he...

- Flash ads: you can set Flash to "click to activate", and never activate it. I'm still waiting for Firefox to natively support HTML 5 playback so I can finally dump Flash on my Windows gaming PC.

- HTML5: .... .... *crickets chirping* ...yeah. Well, the ball is in your court, browser coders! I remember back in 2001, I switched over to Opera 5.11 (and purchased it!) mainly due to its tabbed browser functionality, and uncanny ability to block any and all unwanted popups. My ideal HTML5 control panel would be something similar to NoScript, which would block various levels of abuse of the audio, video, and canvas capabilities, on a per-domain or per-server basis. (Most canvas abuse is perpetrated via JavaScript, which makes NoScript an excellent tool for defusing annoying redraws, faux-paywalls, ad networks, and other cross-site shenanigans, but for the other HTML5 multimedia elements, I'd like stronger tools to prevent their abuse.)

Comment: Re:The obvious capitalist solution (Score 1) 270

by AFCArchvile (#49132257) Attached to: It's Official: NSA Spying Is Hurting the US Tech Economy

Baby steps; the first step is to use component manufacturers in Taiwan. Though yes, eventually tech component manufacturer will be one of the many, many things that the tech business landscape will need to reconcile while not jeopardizing civilization. That means no tech product hyperinflation, and a minimum on sweatshop hunting.

The way I see it, China is going to continue on this tack, which was probably planned years or decades ago (hmmm, 5-year plan, I remember hearing that terminology somewhere...). It's as irresponsible as assuming that everything will be fine if all the oil comes from the Middle East, or if all of the hard drive component manufacturers are in Thailand. Diversification pays off in the long run; as the old Navy SEAL proverb goes, "One is none; two is one."

Comment: Re:I've posted this 1312 times (Score 4, Interesting) 147

Installing NoScript onto Firefox is one of the best things I've done for Firefox memory usage. It's also more secure since it stifles most cross-site scripting connections, drastically reduces load times since said cross-site scripting isn't being loaded.

Then again, I'm still looking over at Pale Moon, and thinking that I should abandon Firefox entirely and shift my primary browsing over to Pale Moon. It accepts Noscript, and doesn't even need Classic Theme Restorer or Status-4-Evar installed, since it never messed with the UI, and never removed the status bar. (I don't know if Firefox 36 still has this problem, but Firefox 35, 34, 33, etc, all had an issue where a new window would sometimes result in the status bar not appearing. I like seeing a status bar in a windowed program, since it does what it says on the tin: provides status cues, as well as providing far less annoying insight than hovering the mouse over something and waiting for a tooltip to appear.

Comment: Re:Great if optimizing the wrong thing is your thi (Score 3, Informative) 171

by AFCArchvile (#49080735) Attached to: HTTP/2 Finalized

Most of that bloat you speak of is delivered via Javascript. A few weeks ago, I finally put my foot down and made my default browser Firefox with NoScript. I have a (very) small list of sites allowed to execute scripts, and most of the time I will browse a website in its broken state, since I can still see all the text and images. It even foils the news websites that use Javascript to "faux-paywall" their content behind canvases, as opposed to only sending part of the story content from the server (I'm still shaking my head as to who on the business side thought this was a good business stance since one can still read most of the articles for free, but that's another discussion entirely). But lo and behold, once I started a staunch NoScript policy, page loads completed much faster, cookie sprawl was reduced, and Firefox's memory usage stayed relatively low. I also started to learn which scripts from which servers were truly allowed for things like externally-served comment systems (disqus, etc.), and also noticed the way that some webpages end up triggering a cascading dependency of server connections due to scripts calling scripts on other servers, etc.

One of the worst instances of cascading Javascript sprawl that I've seen was a page from The Verge, with 33 domains allowed (including theverge.com) executing 133 scripts. The SBNation "eulogy for RadioShack" article had the "script counter" go over 160. Oh, and that's leaving out web fonts, which NoScript also blocks (which also reveals how often some websites use custom fonts to draw vector-based icons; you can see the Unicode codes for each character since the font isn't loaded). Vox seems to love abusing Javascript in their designs; it's most of the reason why I've abandoned reading Polygon (the other reasons being the banal editorial content, aside from a few notable articles). In comparison, Slashdot is currently asking for 21 scripts, but is running perfectly fine without any Javascript enabled (despite nagging here and there).

I've ended up moving YouTube browsing to Pale Moon, since it natively supports the HTML5 player without issues. I may end up moving all of my browsing to Pale Moon with NoScript, since it natively supports a status bar.

The whole situation with the Javascript bloat reminds me of the scene from Spaceballs where Lonestar tells Princess Vespa, "Take ONLY what you NEED to SURVIVE." We're stuck with a bunch of prima donna web designers who want to duct tape on more adverspamming and social spying avenues to their website, and not standing back and taking a look at how bad it's impacting the user experience, not to mention the bloat from the hundreds of extra scripts and objects loaded by the browser, as well as the tens of connections to third-party servers.

Comment: Re:Meta scores and user's meta scores (Score 2) 135

by AFCArchvile (#49035367) Attached to: Are Review Scores Pointless?

One example of Metacritic scores being contractually tied to bonuses was with Fallout: New Vegas. Gamasutra reported on it almost 3 years ago: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/...

I never played Fallout:NV, but I remember hearing Jeff Gerstmann describe it as "...very well written... and kinda broken." I also remember someone posting a Windows 7 Reliability Monitor graph, with the only crashes reported coming from "FalloutNV.exe".

One thing I really like about Eurogamer's approach is that they're simultaneously:

1. Moving away from a traditional arbitrary numeric score (which is among the old systems of 100-point, 10-point, 5-star, and academic-style scoring)

2. Retaining a set of summary badges where they can make it easy for readers to find the most notable games, and avoid the games that are broken (as much as the AAA games industry wants to deflect and deny it, broken games are released, and are marketed as though they are 100% functional and are the most outstanding game ever... because that's how all AAA games are marketed).

3. Forbidding Metacritic from aggregating their scores. This is probably the most important point here; Eurogamer is essentially saying, "Yeah, we're going to score our game reviews with an honest, non-traditional ratings system, and you can't subvert it for your commercially exploitative purchases."

I hope that more game reviewing outlets take this stand, in order to attempt to stem the worst aspect of Metacritic: its influence on game development. Of course, that won't stop the bigger problem of dishonest marketing plans (E3 shenanigans, mock reviews, cherry-picking outlets for review copies, or not sending review copies at all for games that are forecast to tank while customers who are none the wiser may still be eagerly preordering or obsessing over screenshot and video galleries).

In case of injury notify your superior immediately. He'll kiss it and make it better.

Working...