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1  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Matchstick - A streaming stick using Firefox OS [Kickstarter] on: August 03, 2015, 04:37:59 PM
They killed it. https://www.kickstarter.c...-firefox-os/posts/1266549

Unfortunately, we are unable to continue on this journey, and we will be refunding all Matchstick pledges.

After struggling with the DRM development based on Firefox OS for most of this year, we realize continued development of DRM, though showing early signs of promise, will be a long and difficult road. We have come to the conclusion that we will not be able to reliably predict the completion date of the DRM development without significantly more research, development and integration.

This seems kinda fishy, since many, many backers didn't even want DRM in the first place. Why not go ahead and ship without that, then? I would have been happy.

Anyway, they say they're refunding everybody's money.
2  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Beware: A Dangerous Windows 10 Ransomware Scam Is Spreading Online on: August 03, 2015, 02:26:59 PM
Anyone want to summarize a "magic bullet" method of separating the fake ones from the real ones?

Check for spelling and grammar errors. I have never seen a phishing or scam email that didn't have such errors. But a company like MS is going to have everybody from their marketing department to their lawyers proofreading anything they send, it's not going to have such errors.

It seems that the folks who engage in scams like this are the kind of people who think they can get by without having to do their own work, and so they never did their own studying back in school, either.
3  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: AV testing: Is your antivirus app doing its job? on: July 27, 2015, 02:51:14 PM
even legit sites that you'd keep whitelisted might be compromised

As the manager of a web development team, this is something that I'm always paying attention to, much to the annoyance of some partners and even customers. You might be surprised how many third parties want us to directly reference js code that lives on somebody else's servers (for example, to show fancy interactive product info from the manufacturer).

My position is that my users have agreed to trust *me*, but they don't even know that they'd be implicitly trusting *you*. I don't have the authority to transfer my users' trust like that, so I simply will not allow your code to run in my site.

We've made a couple of sort-of exceptions. If they'll give us the code to verify ourselves, and host on our own servers, it's much less of an exposure. At least I can still have control over the stuff that I have responsibility for, rather than just abdicating that security consciousness.
4  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: AV testing: Is your antivirus app doing its job? on: July 27, 2015, 01:21:46 PM
regardless of the efficiency of the security software used, it invariably comes down to the user being presented with a dialog

Read the referenced article. They specifically address this, and the test results shows what portion of the results are dependent on the user making the right/wrong decision, and which ones are the result of the software making the correct choice automatically. Hint: the top AV programs were handling it correctly on their own, in almost all cases.
5  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Peer Review and the Scientific Process on: July 09, 2015, 01:46:07 PM
Bravo to IainB for the above discussion. I'd like to extend it a bit farther, if I might.

Some factions in our culture take the position that scientific results should directly drive public policy. So, for example, a finding that income inequality has increased, or that obesity is a health threat, should automatically lead us to institute policy to combat that problem.

But this belief is mistaken. Identifying a problem, or finding a correlation, is science. Determining whether something ought to be done, and indeed, whether that action should be executed by the government, is another question entirely, and one that cannot be answered by that same science. Before we can make that determination, we need to consider (I don't mean to argue on either side of these issues, I just mean to show that there are questions that must be answered before action is appropriate):
  • Is it actually a problem that society as a whole should have any say in? This generally is determined by personal values, and so reasonable people are likely to have different opinions. For example, given that obesity threatens my health, is it not my personal decision whether I prefer to have a shorter life of gustatory pleasure, or a longer ascetic life? Thus, the scientific outcome doesn't automatically mean that something *must* be done.
  • Would the costs of doing something exceed the costs of the problem itself? In the climate change debate, for example, we hear a lot of bickering about the evidence. But I don't see so much cost/benefit discussion about the likelihood of various outcomes, and the actual human cost of each, especially discussions that directly compare the cost of implementing greenhouse gas reductions.
  • Is the government the right agent to affect the change? Forcing everyone to act a certain way is a very blunt tool to use, and thus possibly ineffective. Even when the government can do something, it may be that the best approach is just to set up an appropriate system of incentives so that the private sector can work out the details.

Thus, a statement of the form "scientific studies show X, therefore the government must implement regulation Y" are flawed.

And I'd like to take that a step farther, too. In political discussions we frequently hear things like "candidate X isn't intelligent enough to be President", or even outright name-calling intended to disparage a candidate's intelligence (e.g., "dumbya"). I submit that science is the job of the scientists, and not the job of the President. There's no need for the President to understand biochemistry or chaos theory or orbital mechanics; as the country's Chief Executive, the holder of that office needs to be able to execute, and that involves being a good manager: knowing how to find the best people to handle an issue, and delegating to them. Beyond a basic threshold, raw IQ points aren't what we need in our Chief Exec, we need a specific management skillset, one that has nothing to do with the sciences.
6  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Firefox and Cyberfox release 39.0 stable on: July 06, 2015, 12:42:39 PM
It almost seems like that and extension signing are designed to break extensions.

This is really frustrating. Luckily, you can pretty much disable this annoyance. Check out the add-on "Disable Add-on Compatibility Checks":

While it used to be possible to disable add-on compatibility checking entirely, by setting the extensions.checkCompatibility preference to false, it is now necessary to set a different preference for each new application version. This add-on re-enables the functionality of extensions.checkCompatibility irrespective of the current application version and disables checking by default. Checking can be re-enabled by disabling the add-on (which can be done without a restart) or by toggling the preference.

I have yet to find anything that gives me trouble after setting this.
7  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Matchstick - A streaming stick using Firefox OS [Kickstarter] on: June 11, 2015, 02:58:46 PM
But it says all we have to do is download the latest...   mad

I suppose that they're (a) talking to developers and (b) letting us see a pulse. But it's awfully tone-deaf for them not to realize just what responses this will evoke from those of us that funded it.
8  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Comparison of FREE Cloud Storage services. on: June 08, 2015, 02:07:12 PM
As an amateur photographer with 100s of GBs of photo files, I was excited to see Amazon's announcement of free unlimited photo storage.

This seems like the perfect thing for me, but after researching further it seems like it's all but useless. They only support up- and down-loading photos *explicitly*, and the tool for bulk uploads is reported not to work very well either. To make it perfectly clear: their app doesn't do any updating at all. You can only upload single files or whole directories.
9  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Automakers Want to Outlaw Gearheads From Working on Their Own Cars on: April 29, 2015, 01:43:07 PM
I hate to get political here, but yes: Cash for Clunkers was an epic failure.

It didn't help the economy. Studies show that almost half of the money went to people who were going to buy new cars anyway.

And it was bad for the environment. By destroying a pile of moderately used cars that got traded in, the price of other used cars rose significantly (as was noted above). The result is that poor folks can no longer afford to replace the really old rustbucket they're driving, so the worst polluters are staying on the road instead of being retired.

The law of unintended consequences can't be avoided, even by - especially by - governments.
10 Software / Find And Run Robot / Re: Latest FARR Release 2.221.01 BETA - April 22, 2015 on: April 23, 2015, 12:57:48 PM
[Feature] On History Options you can now choose to have FARR automatically add all applications that you launch outside of FARR (that have foreground windows), automatically added to FARR launch history; this makes them visible in main window on display, and makes them faster to find.
This is a fantastic addition, I'm very much looking forward to it.

[Feature] New option to require search words to match on left hand boundaries of words (whether contiguous enabled or not) -- can be useful in reducing spurious matches.
Will this be invoked by something in the typed search text, like "^mysearch" or something? Or is it a global option that you set for everything.
11  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Automakers Want to Outlaw Gearheads From Working on Their Own Cars on: April 22, 2015, 12:27:09 PM
I have a hard time seeing how this can fit into copyright. You're not actually making a copy of the software/data, you're just modifying pieces of it in place.

This is even more innocuous than making backups of your own music, because with cars, there is no copy. You're not changing form, as if you want to be able to hear your CD on an MP3 player. No, you're going to continue to use the original software/data on precisely the one device that the manufacturer sold/licensed it to you for.
12  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Why are car stereos so flimsy? on: March 31, 2015, 12:40:03 PM
I haven't noticed a "flimsy" problem in car stereos. That especially true because moving parts are almost extinct. The motors, servos, etc., that were necessary in the classic autoreverse cassette deck, or CD players/changers, are much less useful today. My current car I've had for a year, and I have yet to put a CD into it, even though that's supported. All my music comes from Bluetooth, or a flashdrive, or radio. So the only moving parts are the buttons and knobs.

But what I have seen is that while the demands on the stereo's user interface and overall usability of interaction has increased, the makers haven't kept pace. The UI on my car stereo is just awful, I swear it must have been developed by a summer intern.
13  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: New Bill Would Repeal Patriot Act on: March 25, 2015, 01:19:47 PM
I also haven't read it yet. But if it's as described, this is probably the most important potential legislation we'll see for years. Although DC isn't the best place for the discussion, I'd urge all of you to call your legislators and urge them to get on board.
14  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Robert A. Heinlein - atmospheric processor question on: March 20, 2015, 03:51:34 PM
This doesn't answer your question, but....

In the novel Red Mars, Kim Stanley Robinson discusses an approach that is probably both faster and more efficient.

They distribute a lichen everywhere they go on the planet, leaving behind the means to pump oxygen into the atmosphere. Every one of these little things grows and multiplies, powered just by the existing environment and sun. And that multiplication means that once things get going a little, you've got a huge mass of little factories converting atmosphere for you, all for free and at an ever-increasing rate.
15  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Sorry, Ebooks. These 9 Studies Show Why Print Is Better on: March 09, 2015, 04:02:13 PM
The reference book bit really hit home with me, so true.  It is a painful experience.  However, I do have to say that on the flip side, I have found it extremely handy to be able to take screenshots or clip text and such things like that.  Interesting.  I wonder how this will go in the do we marry the two together?

One thing that I do find pretty useful in this vein is Evernote. I can copy out interesting pieces from various sources, including images, and tag them appropriately. When I want easy access between them, I can just search for the appropriate tag(s) to focus on just those. But I don't want to derail the discussion into note taking (for which there are already a zillion threads around here) - I just mean to acknowledge your point, that the digital realm does have some good solutions in this area.
16  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Sorry, Ebooks. These 9 Studies Show Why Print Is Better on: March 09, 2015, 02:43:56 PM
For fiction and other pleasure reading, I'm all-in for ebooks. I use my Kindle almost exclusively for this. However, I do have a bunch of shelves of treasured books, mostly hardcovers, that I just feel good having near me.

On the other hand, I find the ebook experience for reference material - like programming manuals - completely awful. I find that I'm always wanting to flip back-and-forth between pages, and even have multiple books open simultaneously. Paper books laid out on a desktop, with bookmarks at important spots, accomplish this very well. It seems like this is an experience that ebooks *could* emulate, but I haven't found anything that does so well.
17  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Matchstick - A streaming stick using Firefox OS [Kickstarter] on: February 07, 2015, 10:01:55 AM
I understand delays, and I always thought their February promise was optimistic. But it really sucks that they'd wait until three weeks before it's promised in our hands to announce a 6-month delay. With a delay of this scope, it had to be something they've known about for quite a while; why wait so long to tell those of us who financed the project from the start?
18  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Windows 10 Announced on: February 05, 2015, 11:41:58 AM
Thanks for the screenshot. I'm glad to see that the developers finally have control of their Caps-Lock key, so the menus can have lowercase letters as well! This has been one of the two things I hate most about the current version.

(The other thing I hate about the current version is that you can no longer set Outlook to show the first few lines for only *new* messages.)
19 Software / N.A.N.Y. 2015 / Re: NANY 2015 Release: WhenLast (Android app) on: January 23, 2015, 09:26:07 AM
Dumb question: these aren't coming through in PlayStore updates. Should I delete my playstore version while you're still testing, and load the APK that's referenced from the topmost post in this thread?
20  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: "Secure Email As a Potential Terrorist Indicator" ??! on: January 19, 2015, 05:28:37 PM
What about kiddie pr0n?

But does that actually fall under the umbrella of "free speech" ?

Yes, as long as people are prosecuted for just being in possession of a photo, absent any evidence of being involved in any actual abuse. Heck, you'll get prosecuted for photos of adults made to look sufficiently like children, or photos that are pure CGI.

And I think that you asking the question proves my point. It seems that *everyone* draws the line somewhere, and to that person (or to people from that culture), that line is obvious. "Well, sure we want free speech, but *that* is just so far beyond the pale...").

Every culture has their sacred cows. And from their own perspective, they don't look like cows at all.

And since we can see that we ourselves fall victim to this, we need to be careful when criticizing other groups who just choose different cows.
21  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: "Secure Email As a Potential Terrorist Indicator" ??! on: January 19, 2015, 10:48:10 AM
@Renegade - I'm not disagreeing with you, but at first this may sound like it does:

What about kiddie pr0n?

This seems to be the ultimate sacred cow in America, where virtually everyone agrees that free speech stops before it gets to this, and that virtually any amount of encroachment is justified in preventing this.

So, two questions:

1) How confident are you that this type of speech is fundamentally different? Or are we just like every other society on the planet, just setting the line a bit differently?

2) Can you see any way to avoid the abuse of children in this manner, while not explicitly attacking the speech that communicates it?
22 Software / N.A.N.Y. 2015 / Re: NANY 2015 Release: WhenLast (Android app) on: January 14, 2015, 07:26:49 PM
For me, the critical feature is that it will re-start the countdown only when I acknowledge that I've completed the task implied by the first alarm. So if I'm using the app to remind myself to refill my medication every 30 days, and I'm out of town for the week that it triggers, I want to do it as soon as I return - and because my insurance forces me to space orders by 30 days, I have to wait that long even though I was late on the refill. Similarly, if I want to water my plants every 4 days, and I'm 3 days late, I don't want to water today, and have it remind me again tomorrow.

To actually answer the question, though...

I always have a tendency to try to push too much in, and this may be an instance of that. But I think that for nagging, each reminder should have an nag frequency attribute. You could set this to one of these values:
  • One and Done - just remind me once, and then assume I'll take care of it
  • Weekly - remind me one week from the first reminder, and once a week thereafter. This would be for low-priority tasks like changing the filter in the HVAC
  • Daily - remind me once a day until I say I've done the task

And then, just to really over-complicate things, maybe I could open the app, and for a task that's triggered buy I haven't acknowledged yet, I could say "remind me again on Saturday" (without changing the fact that it's a 180-day cycle) so I can get to Home Depot to buy those filters.
23  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Beware of download sites on: January 14, 2015, 02:41:46 PM
Similarly, I still use MajorGeeks, and I believe them to still be above-board. But I may be wrong.
24  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Congratulations Terrorists, You are getting what you want! on: January 13, 2015, 01:18:38 PM
Author Charlie Stross posted the best retort to Cameron's idiocy.

Our glorious prime minister, failed TV company marketing director David Cameron, has proposed banning all forms of encryption that can't be broken by the security services. I'm not the only person who thinks this policy is beyond bonkers and well into criminal insanity (even his own deputy prime minister has reservations), but for the record, let me lay out why this is such a bad idea.

Worth reading the whole thing.
25 Software / N.A.N.Y. 2015 / Re: NANY 2015 Release: WhenLast (Android app) on: January 12, 2015, 01:04:48 PM
Next planned feature is timed reminders

I would have payed double - or more - your $0.99 for this!

It'll remind me
  • When I need to water the houseplants
  • When I need to check swimming pool chemistry
  • When I should rebalance the investments in my 401k
  • And probably a ton more I haven't thought of yet
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