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User Journal

Journal: Soylent News 4

Journal by TheRaven64

I've not been posting on Slashdot much this week, because I've been trying out Soylent News, which is using (and old version of) Slashcode (with some improvements) and lacks corporate overlords. It seems to have captured most of what I like about discussions in Slashdot, although is suffering slightly from not having nearly as many active users (50 or so comments is still the norm and it probably needs 100+ to be sustainable).
If you've not visited yet, I'd recommend giving it a go.

I'm TheRaven over there.

User Journal

Journal: In praise of e-cigs 9

Journal by hairyfeet

I had tried everything. I tried the patch, the gum, the pill that made the smokes taste nasty, and nothing. No matter what I kept on smoking. Now after 30 years I FINALLY was able to throw away the cigarette...thanks to e-cigs.

For anyone who wishes to try quitting using e-cigs some advice. 1.- Do NOT use the ones that look like a cigarette, not only are the batteries VERY weak but trying to get one of those to drag like a cigarette will just leave you frustrated. 2.- Get what is called a "510 thread" or "Ego style" unit, these can be had for as little as $25 online. 3.- Watch some of the excellent tutorials to find which tips are right for you, a good place to start would be "indoor smoking" on Youtube.

Hopefully this will inspire at least one other person to give it a try and if this old dog can learn a new trick and give up the butts? Then you can too!

User Journal

Journal: Over 9000?

Journal by hairyfeet

You ever wonder what would happen to privdog privacy guard if it went over 9999? Well if you want to see for yourself head over to "musicvideosthatsuck.net" as so far my privdog has managed to roll over TWICE and IT IS STILL GOING. I think I may have found the spammiest spammy spam of sites in all of creation. Anybody find any worse?

User Journal

Journal: Phone scams 6

Journal by hairyfeet

I know that we geeks tend to laugh at such things but PLEASE REMEMBER that just as many of us can't do open heart surgery or rebuild our car engines, so too is there many that don't have our experience with scams. Currently there are several "$1000 Gift Card" scams that are going around, Best Buy and Walmart are two of the biggest right now. Please warn your less tech savvy friends and family about such things and point out that a REAL winning entry in a contest would be contacted by something other than a txt. I have had to warn several older and less savvy customers in the past few weeks because of this scam so its going around pretty heavily. remember to use your computer savvy for good and help your fellow man keep from being ripped off.

User Journal

Journal: Getting a Job 4

Journal by TheRaven64

Someone on Slashdot recently claimed I hadn't read Keep the Aspidistra Flying because I thought the ending was depressing. After I finished my PhD in 2007, I've managed to avoid the same fate and have successfully avoided having a real job for almost five years. I've done freelance programming and written four books, and had a lot of time to post on Slashdot (as you can tell from the fact that, so far, I've posted more than anyone else this quarter) and do open source stuff (Ohloh ranks me in the top 2,000 geeks with no life^W^W^W^Wopen source developers).

That's about to change though. I had two interesting job offers recently (I seem to get job offers from banks very often, but I have a very low tolerance for tedium, so I'd probably have been fired around day 3 if I'd taken any of them). One was from Google in Paris (yay!) but working on boring things (boo!). The other was from Cambridge University, which is about as well paid as you expect in academia (aww!) but basically involves working on the same stuff I do for fun (yay!) with some very intelligent people (yay!). Oh, and it's in a city where a quick search found four tango classes (yay!) and property prices not much lower than London (oops!) and which is both small and flat enough that I can cycle everywhere (yay!) and so does everyone else (look out!).

So, in a few weeks I'm moving to Cambridge. I'll miss looking out at the sea, but being able to dance tango more than once a week should be some compensation. There also seems to be a lively salsa scene, although having to learn yet another set of names for the same Rueda steps is going to be a little tiresome...

When I visited, I went for drinks with some of the makerspace guys the night before my interview (I have no idea how much I drank, but it didn't seem to affect my interview performance too badly...) and met someone who worked on the C++11 atomics spec (which I was in the middle of implementing at the time) and someone who had ported 2BSD to a 32-bit PIC with 128KB of RAM, so it definitely seems like a city with no shortage of geeks...

User Journal

Journal: Wow, I Need to Get a Life 5

Journal by TheRaven64

This weekend (I think, maybe earlier), Slashdot published some statistics about the most active people. Apparently I am in the top four most active commenters for the past month and the past quarter. This is quite depressing.

In happier, and unrelated news, my FreeBSD commit bit was approved this weekend, so I can now cause untold destruction on the Internet at large...

User Journal

Journal: What Phone? 6

Journal by TheRaven64

My current phone is a Nokia N80. I've had it a few years and I'm reasonably happy with it, but it has a fault with the charging circuit and it's pretty bulky, so I'm thinking about replacing it. Unfortunately, there seem to be about 3,000 different options with no competent way of way of working out which one is sensible.

I mainly use my phone as... a phone. So, the most important feature for me is the ability to make and receive calls. Because I am a cheapskate, this includes SIP (and WiFi), since my SIP provider charges a lot less than my mobile provider when calling landlines. I really like WebOS in terms of UI, but that seems to rule the Pre out because the only WebOS SIP client is alpha quality and doesn't integrate with the address book. This is something that Nokia does really well - the SIP client is fully integrated, so I can just select someone from my address book and select Internet Call to make the call. No extra skill required.

Beyond that, the only thing I really need is to be able to sync contacts via bluetooth and to use it as a modem via bluetooth - both pretty standard features, I'd assume, since my last three phones have had them.

In terms of smartphone features, I'm not that bothered. A programming environment that supports native code so that I can port my ObjC runtime would be nice - I have no interest in VM-based crap - but aside from that I don't have any strong requirements.

I would, however, like decent battery life and a small size, and ideally a nice camera. The bulk and poor battery life of my N80 means that I quite often leave it at home.

So, any suggestions?

Windows

Journal: Vista/Windows 8 Hype Log. 1

Journal by twitter

All the usual hype is flowing about Vista 8. This mostly means that Vista 7 was a failure, but I decided to log it for laughs. Vista 7 did not sell as well as Vista did and Vista 8 won't sell any better than Vista 7. Vista failure has really killed Microsoft. The upgrade inevitability myth is six feet underground, traditional desktops are becoming a thing of the past and everyone looks to Google, Apple even IBM for cool and reliable computing. Despite that, Microsoft brings out the same old lines and strategies.

2009

  • 05/29 - Steve Ballmer tries to freeze the market by announcing an early release date, only to have Micrsoft quietly rebuff him. In reality, OEM outrage at Microsoft's limitations and power grab pushes Vista 8 release out of 2012.
  • 06/02 - A fawning article from business insider. We get all the usual BS, "riskiest OS ever," "biggest step forward in more than 20 years, when it pushed Windows as the replacement for DOS", "underneath that layer is the old Windows that users are accustomed to. It will run old Windows apps", Linux and Apple are too jarring, expensive and suck, and so on and so forth.
Chrome

Journal: XSS or something worse? 1

Journal by hairyfeet

I have a customer that surfs those "porntube" style sites and I kept getting emails from him consisting of a single link, obviously randomly generated. Now since I had just cleaned this machine and knew it to be good I asked "WTH?" and he swore up and down that the ONLY thing he had done was watch some videos on those porntube sites. So I figured he was probably lying, so I figured "I've just made a disc image, have AV and NoScript, lets experiement". So I went to several porntube style sites, DrTuber,XHamster, etc, just clicking links to bounce from one to the other when sure enough about an hour later I started getting emails from myself along with everyone in my address book!

Now since it was the yahoo account that I only use as a spam dump I didn't care about that, what I DID care about is it looks like every. single. person. that looks at any of the porntube sites is vulnerable to having their Yahoo addresses stolen! I tried Chromium and FF 4, I tried with NoScript enabled, no matter what I did after surfing those sites for an hour or less, even after using CCleaner first to make sure there wasn't any info in the cache, there it was.

Now all I can tell you is that it doesn't seem to affect GMail or Live Mail, just Yahoo, but with Yahoo Mail it seems to be pretty damned consistent no matter what the user does! So has anyone else run into this, know how it works, or know how to stop it? I wish I could tell you the exact site but I was looking for the effect more than the cause, but if you start at DrTuber and XHamster and start clicking on video links leading to affiliates you WILL end up seeing it first hand, just don't use a Yahoo account you care about! Although since I saw the effect WITHOUT logging into Yahoo and WITH private browsing on who knows if you'll be able to stop it? I'm starting to wonder if the new yahoo beta isn't storing your address book unencrypted in the browser somewhere for speed. If it is the case we are talking a serious security flaw here folks!

Windows

Journal: Windows in Decline, as More than 1 in 3 PCs Ship Without 7

Journal by twitter

As the Linux Foundation wins new friends and influences people, sharp reporters at PCWorld notice that Windows sales as a fraction of PCs shipped are in a steep and accelerating decline. Woody Leonhard of Infoworld does the math on Microsoft's numbers,

Between launch and June 30, 2010 -- a period of 251 days -- Microsoft sold 0.78 Windows 7 licenses for each PC sold. Between July 1, 2010, and April 22, 2011 -- a period of 275 days -- Microsoft sold 0.67 Windows 7 licenses for each PC sold: 175 million Windows 7 licenses, and 260 million new PCs. To turn the numbers the other way around, in the past nine months, more than one-third of all new PCs sold didn't have Windows 7. ... it's entirely possible that 40 percent of all new PCs in the past nine months shipped without Windows 7. Maybe more.

So, the Windows 7 PC sales "refresh" is over. Business adoption rates are still under 10%. Kanthryn Noyles of Computer World interprets that as a Win for gnu/linux

I think it's fair to assume that a good number of them are running Linux instead. Preloaded options, after all, are increasingly common, and the reasons to switch are more compelling with each passing Patch Tuesday.

Android/Linux, is another reason for the decline. Why sit around mom's basement with a big, noisy PC when you can drop the net in your pocket? PCs are less important and Windows is downright archaic.

Microsoft's bottom line sags with its cash cow. There was good evidence in 2010 and January of this year that Windows 7 was not driving sales. Roughly Drafted now looks at Microsoft's quarterly report and shows that Windows profits are down since 2008 back when they were trying to sell Vista which many people dumped in less than six months.

Advertising

Journal: What is Florian Mueller telling Slashdot? 7

Journal by twitter
A list of things that Microsoft lobbyist and software patent advocate, Florian Mueller has been telling Slashdot.

Florian Mueller has thrust himself into the news a lot over the last couple of years, mostly to the detriment of Microsoft competitors, and has been particularly successful at getting Slashdot to copy his message. Roy Schestowitz, of Techrights, noticed him early because Boycott Novell was on Florian's journalist mass mailing list. So was Groklaw. Both rejected Florian's message and both are now smeared by him. Techrights has this index and PJ has this about bad behavior in 2005, this, this and more. Florian waged a Twitter/Social Media FUD campaign against both "Groklie" and Techrights in retaliation. Even Slashdot submitters have called Florian a "gadfly" and noticed he's behind anti-Google FUD. All of Florian's media manipulation has earned him special mention by actual lawyers who advise those threatened by lawsuits to ignore him and people like him.

The best way to understand what Florian has been doing is to make a list of it. Here then, is a list of what he's been telling Slashdot readers over the last year or so, with context and links to refutations as time allows.

Android/Google Spin.

Red Hat FUD

IBM FUD

Novell's Patent Hoard.

Reframes Microsoft's attempt to tax Motorola's use of GNU/Linux and Android.

This issue should not be separated from general anti-Google FUD but Florian does this.

That's 16 articles in less than a year and each represents dozens of Microsoft press echos. All of it says something bad about Google, Red Hat, IBM and other free software users. When he's not busy smearing Microsoft competitors, he's telling us that they Love Microsoft and are working with them towards some noble goal.

People speculate that Muelller is fed inside information as part of Microsoft's coordinated campaigns against free software and Microsoft competitors. PJ of Groklaw thinks that Microsoft hoped that a community of deluded coders would form around Florian, but only Novell employees and Mono boosters pal around, while the larger free software community ignores him. His recent praise of the SCO Gang and smears of PJ places him among the most disgusting of Microsoft company.

United Kingdom

Journal: Sale of Goods Act beats AppleCare 2

Journal by TheRaven64

A little while ago, someone on Slashdot pointed me at the Sale of Goods Act in relation to purchased electronics. The act, for those unfamiliar with it, requires that goods be 'suitable for the purpose for which sold.' This is a fairly broad term, but it basically means that they must be able to do anything that the seller claims that they can do. Under this law, you have 6 years from the date of purchase to file a lawsuit if the item does not match the claims.

This was relevant to me because my MacBook Pro is now out of warranty and the battery is dying. Looking in the System Profiler, its full charge capacity was showing up as 1476mAh after 56 charges. When new, it was 5500mAh. These numbers don't mean anything by themselves, but Apple claims that their batteries retain 80% of their full charge capacity after 300 charge cycles. Claiming this means that a battery that does not retain 4400mAh after 300 charge cycles is not suitable for the purpose for which sold, and they are legally required to refund or replace it (irrespective of the time that has elapsed, although I can only sue them if they don't within 6 years of the time of sale).

I called their support line and was put through to an Indian woman, who explained that the warranty had expired. I quoted the relevant parts of law to her, and (after being kept on hold for a bit), was transferred to someone senior. He very quickly agreed to send out a replacement battery.

Interestingly, he did not ask that the original battery be sent out, nor that I provide a credit card number where I would be billed if the battery turned out not to be defective. I've had two batteries replaced in warranty, and this was standard procedure then, so apparently I get better service out of warranty. I don't have a great deal of use for a battery that only lasts about 35 minutes on a full charge, but I'll probably keep it as a spare.

As always, it pays to know the law. It's a shame that Apple, which claims to be a customer-focussed company, doesn't educate its support team about this though. Possibly the Indian call centre deals with people from everywhere English speaking, while the Irish one only deals with people in the UK and Ireland, so the people there are more familiar with British law, but if I had not quoted the relevant act then I would have been charged £99 for a battery, on top of the £1.50 it cost to call their support line for half an hour.

Windows

Journal: ZDNet Author Dumps Vista for GNU/Linux 1

Journal by twitter
J.A. Watson of ZDNet belatedly joins the Vista Sucks Chorus. He makes up for his tardiness with zeal and by moving to GNU/Linux.

I simply can't believe how awful Windows is, and (unfortunately) how gullible I am. [my laptop] came loaded with Vista Business, and a "fallback" DVD for XP Professional. I tried running Vista on it. I really tried, I really wanted it to work, and I said exactly that in my blog here. But it didn't. Every time I tried it, things started out looking promising, and after a month or two it would go belly-up. Three or four times I reloaded Vista from scratch and tried again, hoping that the latest Microsoft Updates would fix it. Eventually I gave up, reloaded one last time with XP Professional, and ran that with no problem for two years.

A month or so ago, through my own carelessness, I wiped the disk on this laptop. I had to reload everything from scratch, so (like a fool) I thought well, Vista SP2 is out, everyone says that it is "all fixed up now and works great, and reliably", so I'll try that again. I loaded Vista from scratch, added all the updates to SP2 and beyond, and I've been running it that way since. Until today. ... Windows is unreliable garbage, it always has been, it always will be, and if you use it you should be willing to accept that risk. I am no longer willing to accept that risk, even part-time as a secondary operating system on this laptop. Windows is gone, it has puked all over its disk for the last time here, and I will not reload it. I am in the process of transferring the data to one of the Linux partitions - yes, Linux is quite happy to read the partition that Windows says is hopelessly corrupted.

Please, PLEASE, unless you want to hear a very long string of words that I learned during my military service, do NOT tell me that the "solution" to this problem is to give Microsoft even more money and "upgrade" to Windows 7. ... if Vista is not stable, or reliable, then Microsoft should withdraw it and either offer a free "upgrade" to Windows 7 or offer a refund of the purchase cost. ... I absolutely don't believe the Windows 7 is any better, any more stable or any more reliable than Vista. They come from Microsoft, they are utter garbage...

This is a sign of things to come for Windows. Windows 7 was predictably just as bad as Vista was. People no longer are falling for Microsoft's promises of "this version fixes everything."

"I got everybody to pay up front...then I blew up their planet." "Now why didn't I think of that?" -- Post Bros. Comics

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