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Windows

Journal: Reminiscence XP 6

Journal by jawtheshark
As I said in my previous journal entry, I'd install Windows XP Home (OEM) in a Virtual Machine today in order to commemorate the death of XP. I documented it with screenshots. Yes, I know, it's Facebook album, but it's public. It was the quickest way to get something online.
From VM creation and installation from SP3 OEM ISO to fully patched in 1 hour and 30 minutes. Not all that shabby.
It also indicates that XP will most likely die totally when they turn off the activation servers. I don't think they'll hand out the promised "no activation patch", ever. (Well, I always heard they'd promised such a thing, it might simply be legend.)
Cloud

Journal: On the dreaded phrase: "I have an idea for an app" 9

Journal by jawtheshark
In the past few weeks different people came to me with the dreaded phrase: "I have an idea for an app". If you feel targeted, you probably are, but you're not the first, and you won't be the last. Some even trusted me enough to tell me what their great idea was. Many, though not all, couldn't code their way through a paper bag and thus they look for someone "to code the app for free".

You even might find someone like that, and if you do, it's someone with a lot of time on their hands like a student with not much experience.

What those ideas (if I get to hear them) all have in common is that they need infrastructure behind it. Uploading pictures, movies, heck, even simple text need a place to be stored. That's definitely not your phone, especially if others need to be able to access it. Yeah, you can start off with hosting a little database and web front end on your DSL line (if you have one), but in the long run this will require some serious money. I'm not even talking about the people managing and creating it for you. I'm just talking about bandwidth, storage, electricity.

So, if you have an app idea, assess where you want to store what: if you have no concrete answers to those questions, shelve your idea until you do.. An app is nothing magical, it requires real resources, real work and thus real money.

Security

Journal: LuxTrust on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS 3

Journal by jawtheshark

Intro: I was complaining on social networks that the LuxTrust hardware tokens are forced upon all teachers in my country. That's a huge problem because I got my mother in law on Linux and this thing is very very badly supported. Officially the website say "Ubuntu 10.04" supported. Funnily enough, their website also doesn't mention Windows 8 as supported. Anyway, they're a useless company in my eyes... I wish them the most ill possible.

Here is my little test run:

So, I decided to test the LuxTrust support under Ubuntu GNU/Linux 12.04 LTS i686[1]. I installed a virtual machine from the ISO, and from that blank slate, I wanted to try how "easy" this is. Well, there you go, I downloaded their "middleware".

The good news: Ubuntu Software center presented it as installable and it installed it without apparently problems after clicking the Install. Good! If this were enough, I'd say "it's supported"[2]. Let's test it. So, I go to CCP-Connect, one of the few banks known to work well with LuxTrust under Linux. The thing needs Java[3], and I as expected, and I don't have it installed. I get redirected, at once to http://www.oracle.com/java. The sheer number of options is intimidating. If I weren't very familiar with Java, I wouldn't have a clue what to select. Now, this might be P&T Luxembourg doing it wrong, but the site you should send end-users to is http://www.java.com/. Never send an end-user to a developer site, it's a horrible mistake.

Anyway, I do what is needed and surprise[4], there is no Oracle Java for Ubuntu. A RPM and a tar.gz. Now, if I weren't who I am, I would be blocked again. So, I download the tar.gz and I'll be honest to you, dropped right to the command line, tar zxvf later to /opt, and doing an update-alternatives --install of the new java, oh, and while we're at it, make a symlink for the plugin [5]. Now, of course, I understand it's Oracle whom I have a problem with, but I bet that you won't get this documentation at LuxTrust and they sure as hell can't walk you though this. Of course, the way I did this, I'm now responsible for updating my Java. Of course, there is a PPA, but can I trust that? (I'll have to, if I want automatic updates, but you get the point, no?)

Now, going back to the banking site, it seems to run. I get to the point where I have to select their product and then a screen saying there is no signing stick. (Obviously, I don't have one.)

For kicks 'n giggles, I tried OpenJDK/JRE with the icedtea plugin. No surprise, but that doesn't work: gray pane instead of the applet, but other java applets works fine. So, Oracle Java mandatory. Heck, even Minecraft runs op OpenJDK for crying out loud!

At least their middleware didn't install some kind of daemon, which I what I would have expected with something called "Middleware".
Funny also: The Oracle Java VM warns you from running applets all the time, even the test applet on the java.com site. Scary. Well, not to me, but to a normal end user.

[1] i686 for a good reason, from what I read getting it to run is significantly harder on amd64.
[2] I knew that it wasn't going to work
[3] Wait, isn't that what dependencies are for... Naaaah, dependencies. Who uses that?
[4] Not really, I've been here before
[5] Probably better use update-alternatives for that one too!

Portables

Journal: Poster child of Android tablets' 2

Journal by jawtheshark
Galaxy Tab 2 is the poster child of Android tablets out there, right? Well, let's just say that I ain't impressed. Boyfriend of MiL got one, to read his newspaper. Well, we didn't manage to do that, partially, I think due to wort.lu screwing up. Partially, because the default browser just says "downloading" and that's it. What exactly happens after that is unclear and unless you know that a tiny download icon shows the download, and if you swiped away that, where to find the PDF... you ain't gonna go far. Apart from boyfriend of MiL not (wanting) to understand the difference between an app, a website and a PDF, it ended up being an exercise in frustration.

Unable to help on that front, he asked if he could read his email. Naively, I said, of course you can! So, I set up his (national, very standard) ISP email address. Well, I followed the wizard. Big mistake, I ended up on POP3, which of course is a standard that should have been banned years ago. Damn, I hope you didn't have important emails. I set it up again as IMAP. Works fine, really... Except it doesn't show any email. None... I specifically sent email to him. Shows nothing... I assure you, the settings are correct. I used the same as those, I used on his iPhone. Besides, they do show on his iPhone
No way to make it work. On a related note: the POP3 did not delete his email from server. At least that was good.

Then, I want to show him to install apps (Despite me hating the word). Choice between the Samsung App Store, which most likely works but you want the Google store. So, Google Play. Okay, do you have a Google account? No... Ah, no problem, let's set one up. I follow the wizard, up until it asks for a secondary email for "lost password" situations. I could type in whatever I wanted, but the "Next" button never got enabled, stopping me right in the track to create the account.
Yes, I know, I could just go to a computer, create him a Google account and be done with it. Still, isn't this simply a scandalous bug?

So, I try to help and end up having I to explain that tablet browsers are second-class internet citizens (a site he uses failed to work. How do you explain that to a non tech, eh? Nothing I did worked as expected and I'm supposed to know what I do.

Okay, I might simply have become obsolete and have become unable to troubleshoot modern devices. Perhaps it's a hint I should stay in my basement with my servers and "real" computers. I don't know... It must be me. Everyone loves their Android tablets....

The IBM purchase of ROLM gives new meaning to the term "twisted pair". -- Howard Anderson, "Yankee Group"

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