Really, now.

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21 January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

Facebook reaches beyond satire.

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16 January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

The Guardian’s Oliver Burkeman thinks “Facebook at Work” is a bad idea. I would consider it beyond bad.

A snippet:

Facebook, as you know, is already almost surreally confusing to use, unless you’ve given up trying not to be confused. Its plethora of privacy controls are impossible to keep track of, even in their newly simplified form, so you can’t ever be certain about who can see what. Meanwhile, since posts on the Newsfeed are selected by an algorithm, there’s no way to be sure your friends will see a post even if you do want them to, nor that you’re seeing theirs. You see what Facebook wants you to see.

Adding a Facebook at Work account more than doubles the potential for confusion; it squares it. How long before someone gets themselves fired – or, worse, outed – as a result of not knowing which network they were using? Or maybe we’re too cautious for that these days, and we’ll simply get even better at never expressing a thought or posing for a photograph that might undermine our workplace brand. Which isn’t, really, all that much less dispiriting.

Any workplace that chooses to enter the Zurkerdome deserves what happens to it.

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12 January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

When the writers created Linux Voice, they promised that, nine months after an issue was published, they would make that issue available under a CC-SA license and they’ve kept that promise.

You can download Linux Voice Issue One and Issue Two at no charge.

Full Disclosure:

I contributed to the LV Indiegogo campaign to found the magazine and am a subscriber. I contributed in appreciation of their fine podcast and continued my subscription because it’s an excellent magazine.

It’s the first computer mag I’ve subscribed to since PCMag went online only about 15 years ago. It’s worth it if only for the tutorials.

Heck, it was worth it for their vim tutorial alone, which is on page 106 of Issue One. There are oodles of tutorials for vim on the inner webs, but this was the first one I have seen that I found at all intelligible.

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11 January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

The “sharing economy” loses another early supporter.

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The Zuckerborg plus a selfie equals a rescue.

Officials say a 911 dispatcher in training used Facebook to locate a Northern California hiker critically injured after falling a 150 feet down a cliff while hiking near Lake Berryessa.

You still won’t find me logged into the Zuckerborg.

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An acquaintance of mine called me for help with her Win 8.1 computer; it had gotten really slow since New Year’s Day.

When I got there, I found the kind of Windows malware mess that you read about on rabidly partisan Linux websites–adware and pop-ups just flooding in, a true cavalcade of spots. It took me three and a half hours to wrestle that puppy into submission.

More »

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06 January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

The rush to blame North Korea for cracking Sony Entertainment’s network is increasingly looking misguided. In Japan Times, Leonid Bershidsky considers the weakness of the attribution:

Are North Korean spies so stupid that they couldn’t predict the explosion of interest in “The Interview” after the hack? I doubt it: no one should be so dumb. Certainly not the U.S. government, which itself triggered a kind of Streisand effect by making a highly public accusation and then withholding the evidence on which it was based.

Now, the hacking and anti-hacking communities will forever doubt the FBI’s judgment and alternative versions — especially the well-developed one from Norse, the reputable security firm, involving laid-off Sony employees — will circulate.

Whoever hacked Sony — and this point, it’s wise to reserve judgment — the lesson for governments and other hacker targets, is that there is no point in publishing one’s suspicions unless a lot of detail can also be released.

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06 January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

High-cholesterol twits.

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05 January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

Because our Fearless Leader is sick, the meeting has been rescheduled to Thursday. FL expects to be better by them.

Learn about the wonderful world of free and open source. Learn how to use computers to do what you want, not what someone else wants you to do.

It’s not hard; it’s just different.

Tidewater Unix Users Group

What: Monthly TWUUG Meeting.

Who: Everyone in TideWater/Hampton Roads with interest in any/all flavors of Unix/Linux. There are no dues or signup requirements. All are welcome.

Where: Lake Taylor Transitional Care Hospital in Norfolk Training Room. See directions below. (Wireless and wired internet connection available.) Turn right upon entering, then left at the last corridor and look for the open meeting room.

When: 7:30 PM till whenever (usually 9:30ish) on Thursday, January 8. (Note: TWUUG normally meets on the first Thursday of each month.)

Directions:
Lake Taylor Hospital
1309 Kempsville Road
Norfolk, Va. 23502 (Map)

Pre-Meeting Dinner at 6:00 PM (separate checks)
Uno Chicago Grill
Virginia Beach Blvd. & Military Highway (Janaf Shopping Center). (Map)

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03 January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

The TechBros at Uber step in it again.

They do seem a charming lot, do they not?

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29 December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

I saw a local police car recently. Since the last time I had a close view of one, they seem to have grown license plate scanners pointing in every direction.

James Lileks has some wonders about those license plate scanners.

I’m not paranoid on this issue. I don’t brace the paper-delivery person every morning and say “how do you know I live here?” I can see why the police would want a searchable database of everything that ever happened. Your profession colors your view of what’s reasonable and necessary. . . .

But there is the small matter of protecting that database of license-plate pictures. You know how this will go: City announces gigantic 40 terabyte database of license photos “so secure God himself could not hack this file, and I say that fully aware that such a taunt led to the sinking of the Titanic.” An hour later a group called iC3B3RG puts every license plate picture online.

Discovery in divorce trials could romp through the data and uncover so many things.

By the bye, Lileks has some great collections of memorabilia on his website, which I first stumbled over back in early days of the innerwebs.

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Seriously? There’s a Bitcoin Bowl?

It’s sponsored by BitPay, a company that attempts to leach its income off bitcoin users. (I wonder whether the promoters accepted payment for the sponsorship in bitcoins?)

Don’t be fooled. Bitcoins are a mug’s game.

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22 December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff, Mammon

Uber alienates another fan. Thanh Tan, columnist for the Seattle Times, joins the ranks of the fed up.

This company I’ve defended in previous blog posts (and in a CBC interview just last month) is beginning to remind me of the old boyfriend who acts so nice and humble at first. But once he gets what he wants, he reveals himself to be self-serving and immature. Uber dreamy? More like uber jerk.

Even worse, Uber has morphed into the guy who won’t take no for an answer; the man who believes he is entitled to the entire cake.

I wonder, is it possible for an entire company to have Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

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21 December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

After almost a decade and a half, I’m kicking the Opera browser to the curb.

I saw this coming when the President and founder of Opera was ejected from his company, reportedly over different visions of the future of the Opera browser.

I have seen the vision of the future of the Opera browser with Opera v. 26 for Windows and it is not pretty.

Most of the features that I most liked about Opera–its configurability, the integrated mail and RSS client, the integrated sidebar notes–are gone (though the mail and RSS client has been released as a separate program for Windows and seems to work quite nicely).

Over its history, Opera invented (and did not get much public credit for) many features that users of other browsers now take for granted, such as mouse gestures, the Speed Dial, integrated notes, and tabbed browsing, to mention four that have become second nature to my browsing habit. It’s “vision” seems now to involve gutting the product.

Since the management shake-up, Opera has ignored its Linux users. The most recent release for Linux, v. 12.16, was released nearly a year and a half ago (I guess I should be thankful, as it still retains the functionality that made me a loyal user and proponent of Opera for so long); nevertheless, more and more frequently I’ve encountered bumps along the information superhighway that have required me to open Firefox or Konqueror to view various websites.

Seamonkey home pageI have moved to Seamonkey on the recommendation of one of my fellow LQ members. It also has integrated mail, RSS, newsgroups, and IRC (which I don’t use–I guess I’m not an IRC kind of guy).

Seamonkey is from Mozilla, as are Firefox and Thunderbird, but I find it preferable to either or both.* By installing plugins, I’ve been able to get mouse gestures, speed dial, and notes working in Seamonkey (the “notes” plugins I’ve tested are inferior to Opera’s sidebar notes, but I can live with that).

It’s been a good run, but it’s time for Opera to take its curtain calls, because the fat lady has sung and the Opera is done.

______________________

*In particular, I’ve never liked the Thunderbird interface; I find it klunky (that’s not a criticism; it’s just a matter of taste).

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As my two or three regular readers know, I’ve long said that the internet is a public place and that those who forget that do so at their peril.

In addition, there is no such thing as absolute security. If someone wants to break into any ole house, your good security system will send them to your neighbor’s house. If he or she absolutely positively wants to break into your house regardless of the cost, your house is breached.

Before I get to my list of links, I must remind you that Sony has a history of poor security practices and incompetent response to the resulting breaches. They have also attempted to infect their customers’ computers with malware. As regards security, note that “big” and “bumble” both start with “b.”

The last reminder is this: Don’t believe the gee-whiz reportage on network security from the establishment press. For all their good will (and sometimes their lack thereof), most of those folks know nothing about how networks work and are not competent to evaluate the statements of the persons they interview. If some bozo in a three-piece suit were to tell them that Uncle Fester’s phase-lock loop light bulb represented the next breakthrough in physics, they would report it without question.

I’ve rounded up some posts about the Sony kerfuffle from persons who usually know what they are talking about.

Bruce Schneier, preeminent network security expert, says it’s important to know who you are dealing with. A snippet:

Your reaction to the massive hacking of such a prominent company will depend on whether you’re fluent in information-technology security. If you’re not, you’re probably wondering how in the world this could happen. If you are, you’re aware that this could happen to any company (though it is still amazing that Sony made it so easy).

To understand any given episode of hacking, you need to understand who your adversary is. I’ve spent decades dealing with Internet hackers (as I do now at my current firm), and I’ve learned to separate opportunistic attacks from targeted ones.

China Hand (I don’t know who he is, but he seems to be a reasonable sort of guy) is skeptical of the North Korean connection; he’s suspects it’s a knee-jerk reaction (more at the link):

Unfortunately, cyberattacks don’t lend themselves to quick attribution or, for that matter, even ultimate attribution. And for a government that does not want to make a spectacle of its impotence, waiting on due process and evidentiary niceties to produce the conclusion, “Well, the circumstances argue this, but we could never prove it in a court of law” doesn’t really cut it.

I have a suspicion that the United States has an app for that: blame somebody, preferably somebody unpopular, as quickly and categorically as possible.

George Smith thinks that Sony didn’t know when to hold them, didn’t know when to fold them and has composed a ditty in Sony’s honor.

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19 December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

Just how public is a private Facebook page?

(Pretty damn public, actually. “Privacy” and “Facebook” contradict each other. Also, this is yet another case of “the one thing is not like the other,” and saying it is don’t make it so.)

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14 December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

The San Jose Mercury-News reports that employers are rushing to surveil their employees.

Employers are rushing to embrace the Internet of Things, with its array of smart gadgets, to keep watch on their workers. Studies contend that these devices help reduce theft, boost productivity and weed out lazy, incompetent or abusive employees. Many managers swear by them, including Eric Weakley, owner of R&A Trucking in Oakland, who has outfitted his vehicle fleet with onboard recorders that alert him if the trucks suddenly brake or do something else unusual.

(snip)

But other studies conclude that such monitoring can be so intrusive it undermines an employee’s work and well-being, producing anxiety or even depression. The U.S. Office of Technology Assessment, a now-defunct advisory branch of Congress, warned that the trend might lead to poor office morale, staff turnover, worker slowdowns and even “employee sabotage.”

In another life, I did management training. Fundamental to good management is trusting employees to do their jobs, then, as the saying goes, “working the exceptions.” Employers who do not trust their employees will find that they have created untrustworthy employees. Persons tend to meet expectations, and, when you expect misconduct, you will get misconduct.

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02 December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

Learn about the wonderful world of free and open source. Learn how to use computers to do what you want, not what someone else wants you to do.

It’s not hard; it’s just different.

Tidewater Unix Users Group

What: Monthly TWUUG Meeting.

Who: Everyone in TideWater/Hampton Roads with interest in any/all flavors of Unix/Linux. There are no dues or signup requirements. All are welcome.

Where: Lake Taylor Transitional Care Hospital in Norfolk Training Room. See directions below. (Wireless and wired internet connection available.) Turn right upon entering, then left at the last corridor and look for the open meeting room.

When: 7:30 PM till whenever (usually 9:30ish) on Thursday, December 4.

Directions:
Lake Taylor Hospital
1309 Kempsville Road
Norfolk, Va. 23502 (Map)

Pre-Meeting Dinner at 6:00 PM (separate checks)
Uno Chicago Grill
Virginia Beach Blvd. & Military Highway (Janaf Shopping Center). (Map)

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01 December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff, Too Stupid for Words

An email exchange is not a conversation.

That is all.

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