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Messages - tranglos [ switch to compact view ]

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N.A.N.Y. 2012 / Re: NANY 2012 Release: Ethervane Echo
« on: February 11, 2012, 07:50 PM »
I'd like to know if it's possible to introduce regular expression in Quick View Filters?
In my case, I'd like to remind IPs for example...

I was hoping it wouldn't come to that :-) Yes, I can add regular expressions; I'm just not certain how it will affect performance when generating a view. SQLite does not have its own regex engine and it relies on callbacks instead. So it will trigger a separate callback for each record in the database - that's in addition to evaluating the regex. We'll see how that works!

I've been mostly away from DC a few days and will be for a few days more, so please excuse me if I take a while to reply. I'm trying to re-do the website so that Echo has a permanent home, and I just hate doing that (see here, here, here and here). And if you look at the date on these posts, yes, I've been doing that since before 2007. I hope to get something done this year. In fact, I hope to get it done this weekend!

Living Room / Re: Main hard drive in my PC died today suddenly
« on: February 06, 2012, 05:21 PM »
I went through that experience less than a year ago, as chronicled here. I don't run real-time monitoring, because it does put additional strain on the system, and as my experience tells, you're likely to hear or otherwise feelthe drive failing before the software tells you:

My WD Raptor system drive died the other day after about 4 years of great performance. Lesson One: when the SMART warning kicks in, it is already too late! One moment I run the WD diagnostic tool and SMART checks out fine, a mere two hours later Windows tells me the drive has failed and needs to be replaced asap, data throughput speed drops to something like a 1.44" floppy, and you know it's going to die on you any minute.  Good thing I saw it coming hours before SMART did and made a fresh image just in time. Lesson Two: listen to your hard drive! :-)

Lesson Three: system image is a wonderful thing.

That's how it went. I noticed some operations were taking much more time than they should. After eliminating several possible causes, I realized the bottleneck was in writing data to the system drive. So I ran tests then, and they didn't detect a thing, but I knew something was very wrong. I had a recent drive image, so I backed up whatever else I could (there's no personal data on my system drive, which helps a lot), and even managed to create a full system image as well. Within two hours, the drive went into agony, and it was only then that Windows and SMART began screaming at me. Two hours too late, because at that point booting into Safe Mode took maybe 20 minutes and it was impossible to do the simplest tasks any more.

So a drive image of the system disc is a wonderful thing. Fifteen to thirty minutes and you're back in the saddle (not counting the time needed to go get a new drive). But monitoring and diagnostics utilities, not so good.

Living Room / Re: Would you buy me a $0.99 track on Amazon?
« on: February 05, 2012, 01:57 PM »
Are there any other outlets you can use, like 7Digital?
Based in the UK, so the chances are better.

Yes! Thank you! You sign up, they take cc or PayPal, and let you download an album directly as a zip file with mp3s at 320 kbps. The whole thing took less than a minute, and that includes signing up for an account. The prices are in GBP and way higher than Amazon or other places (0.99 GBP is about $1.5 per track), but at least it works exactly the way it should.

How about Rhapsody? I don't think you need to be signed up to buy tracks, and it doesn't look like it uses Amazon for the checkout.

Unfortunately, no go. US-only and they require a monthly subscription.

Living Room / Re: Would you buy me a $0.99 track on Amazon?
« on: February 03, 2012, 08:10 PM »
And here is where it all began. You can listen to about 15 seconds of that song, before the talk begins, on one of my favorite-ever radio programs, "Flashpoints" on KPFA with Dennis Bernstein. Every few days Bernstein invites the singer/guitarist Francisco Herrera to co-host the show, and on those days he starts off with his song in place of the regular signature music. Most recently, on January 27:

(Go ahead, try it. It's legal, a daily podcast from KPFA :-))

Living Room / Re: Would you buy me a $0.99 track on Amazon?
« on: February 03, 2012, 06:47 PM »
@tranglos: Is Amazon complaining because:
1) Your IP appears from outside the USA?
2) Your account shows that you live outside the USA?
3) Your means of purchase, (ie. credit card), shows you're outside the USA, (which really shouldn't matter)?

Who knows. I guess it's not the IP, since if it were, they might just not show the listing to me at all. It's not the cc number, because they haven't asked for it yet (though they have it on file). I browse logged in, and they almost let you complete the purchase, until the page where you would enter or pick your cc. So I suppose it's (b).

When I browse (which is also Amazon) logged in, they don't show the audiobooks not available to me. But does, the teasers that they are.

Something to try next time.
1a) Use a free VPN, (eg. TunnelBear).
2a) Change your home/delivery address, (FakeNameGenerator).  Address doesn't matter for digital download.
3a) Purchase a Gift Card and then change your home/delivery address.

I suppose one of these could work. For (1a), I would be wary of completing a secure transaction through an unknown (to me) entity's network. (2a) doesn't work; I tried that once when I wanted to buy a Kindle book that was "US only" as well.

But I have an ethical (kind of) block against workarounds like these. Perhaps using the combined brainpower of Donation Coder regulars (and ir-) we can figure out a way to make this happen. Whatever we came up with, it would have to involve lying to Amazon about who the buyer is, so in the end it might be problematic in one way or another. But more importantly, we should not have to do this in the first place!

It's like discussing personal privacy against state and corporate snooping. Techies will say, just encrypt your email, or use Tor - and yeah, it'll work (up to a point), but it will only work for the techies and those lucky enough to have friendly techies nearby. If we have to resort to these sorts of techniques, we've already lost. Everyone has.

Do tell me if my horse is high enough already :-)

Living Room / Re: Would you buy me a $0.99 track on Amazon?
« on: February 03, 2012, 06:30 PM »
Hmm..I'm just wondering...under the provisions of these laws...are threads like this one now also illegal since they're discussing ways to get around distribution restrictions?

It doesn't matter. What matters is we don't know whether it is or it isn't. That serves the purpose.

Not in the USA unfortunately. "Ignorance of the law" is not allowed as a defense argument in US courts - although it is sometimes viewed as an extenuating circumstance when determining penalties to be imposed.

Oh but that's what I meant. The fact that we even wonder about this with some seriousness serves the purpose of those who don't want us to do the kind of thing we're talking about. Even if it's still somehow legal.

And it certainly is not unethical. In my little experiment I want to buy the track, or the album. My only condition is I want to pay for the track (or the album), without having to sign up for umpteen Euros a month for a service I don't want.

It would be easiest to send my money directly to the artist, but I a pretty sure this is precisely what the powers behind ACTA/SOPA fear the most.

Living Room / Re: Would you buy me a $0.99 track on Amazon?
« on: February 03, 2012, 06:29 PM »
A long time ago there was a discussion about the breaking of the "CSS" aka the "Content-Scrambling System" of DVD's. Discussion arose that if a working copy was illegal, how many steps could you remove the algorithm before it became legal? There were music songs, tshirts, and more made.

And before that, there were signatures (and t-shirts) with shortest-possible versions of strong encryption algorithms whose export from the US was banned. That was when Phil Zimmermann was dragged around courts for his PGP. Same story, except now we all are or are about to become Phil Zimmermanns, in a way. Not that I could ever code something as cool as PGP, but the funny thing is, you don't have to.

Living Room / Re: Would you buy me a $0.99 track on Amazon?
« on: February 03, 2012, 06:03 PM »
Hmm..I'm just wondering...under the provisions of these laws...are threads like this one now also illegal since they're discussing ways to get around distribution restrictions?

It doesn't matter. What matters is we don't know whether it is or it isn't. That serves the purpose.

If it's illegal to attempt to circumvent, it might now be considered an act of conspiracy to even suggest ways. Even if they're presented with the old "purely for educational purposes" disclaimer and warnings.

As I understand DMCA (but IANAL and I probably don't), it's illegal to attempt to circumvent technical measures. Is it a technical measure? 

Amazon doesn't sell Kindle Touch outside the US. (Well, today they do, but until last night they did not.). So if you bought a Kindle Touch as a gift for someone abroad, would that count as some sort of infringement? Reasonably, it should not, and if you mailed it, there would be a customs duty to pay, but reason has little say when corporate profits are at stake. Personally, I can't really see how **not** selling a product shores up profits, but like I said, reason has no domain there.

Other than that... I cannot delete threads on DC, but if Mouser does, as maybe he should, the story will be complete :-)

Living Room / Re: Would you buy me a $0.99 track on Amazon?
« on: February 03, 2012, 05:22 PM »
And would you believe (of course you would) that this thread is already indexed by Google? It's the top link for "Rovi Corporation crapware" :-)


(And link #4 is to Wikipedia. Does that mean Wikipedia agrees with me that Rovi makes crapware?)

Living Room / Re: Would you buy me a $0.99 track on Amazon?
« on: February 03, 2012, 05:07 PM »
It shouldn't exactly be a crime, I don't recall the laws outlawing (yet!) that the purchaser must be the listener.

Right, so as long as you promise not to listen :)

However the funny part is, "how do we deliver it to you?"

Email, if it's not too big (it's a single 3-minute track; not sure what bitrate Amazon uses).  If you have a website, you can upload it under some convoluted name. As long as nothing links to it, it won't be accessible from the outside. Or I can create an account on my ftp server where someone could upload the track (no public access there). Or it could be attached to a private messge on the DC forum, but (a) PMs don't support attachments here, and (b) we don't want Mouser to end up like Kim Dotcom, that would just be harsh. I even feel dirty discussing this purely theoretical concept here!

Living Room / Would you buy me a $0.99 track on Amazon?
« on: February 03, 2012, 04:48 PM »
On the margins of the recent wonders of SOPA / ACTA... I buy tons of (e-)books from Amazon, and every so often I check whether they let me buy anything else. There is one track (pretty niche) I specifically want to buy, but no, I can't:


That's free market for ya. A friend recommended I try They have the album, but (a) they want me to install their crapware first (it's Rovi Corporation, it cannot not be crapware) just so that I can download their mp3s, and (b) they don't just let you buy an album, you must buy a "plan", beginning at €12 a month. No can do to both.


From iTunes I wouldn't buy a cup of water if I was stranded on the Kalahari, because they are fascist and they make you buy the cup and the cupholder and you can't drink anybody else's water in their drinkware or their water in anyone else's glass - but, politics aside, they don't even have that track on iTunes. Good for them!

So would you buy me a single $0.99 track on Amazon? For DC credits or a PayPal transfer? And would that be a crime?

N.A.N.Y. 2012 / Re: NANY 2012 Release: Ethervane Echo
« on: February 03, 2012, 01:15 PM »
New PREVIEW release February 03! (Version 1.0.7 build 116)

This is not an official release (so no link at the top of this thread). This one is primarily for testing, since I've made quite a lot of internal changes to accommodate a few recent requests. Changes in this release are all about editing clips. The download link is at the bottom, please read about the changes first :-)

(Stable release available, see below.)

N.A.N.Y. 2012 / Re: NANY 2012 Release: Ethervane Echo
« on: February 02, 2012, 09:39 AM »
I totally agree!  I just wasn't expecting it to be so "slick/professional" in the short amount of time after I asked if it was available. 

Okay, now is my face is red! The PDF is just a click of a button in Help and Manual, really :)

Meanwhile, a new release is coming with some more requests implemented around the clip editor. Among other things, Echo can now keep capturing clips when the editor dialog is open. And the editor now has a "Save as a new clip" button, which does just that.

General Software Discussion / Re: How I fought Firefox and won
« on: January 31, 2012, 01:46 PM »
-thanks, tranglos.
But still, "fixed this and fixed that", but what do the addon do?

That's on the "Home" page:

The custombuttons extension gives a possibility to create custom toolbarbuttons.

General Software Discussion / Re: How I fought Firefox and won
« on: January 31, 2012, 01:45 PM »
Also, the addon with the very long name Mozilla Archive Format, with MHT and Faithful Save, has a "title save", but I no longer remember "pro & cons".

Thanks, Curt! I remember having seen it before. Does it save mht format only, or can it saves as plain html as well?  I don't want mht, because it takes much more space, isn't as easily searchable and may not be viewable in Firefox or Chrome (it wasn't before; don't know about now. I need the files saved as plain html without any of the additional baggage.

And the ability to use selected text as title is also quite useful, because plenty of blogs and even news magazines still do not put article titles in the html title tags, so each article would be saved as "Someone's blog.html". Instead, I just select the actual title, press Ctrl+S and am done.

General Software Discussion / Re: How I fought Firefox and won
« on: January 31, 2012, 01:38 PM »
-this Custom Buttons site is too weird for me - I don't understand what it is; No files, no descriptions. Nothing.

I agree, it's not friendly at all, but it's there. Click "Installation" on top, you'll see a list of releases. Click a link to install or right-click and save the xpi file to disk.

For some reason the xpi says it's compatible only up to FF 7, but after saving the xpi file locally I could install it in FF 9.0.1 without even modifying the compatibility info in the extenion's install.rdf file.

General Software Discussion / Re: How I fought Firefox and won
« on: January 30, 2012, 03:21 PM »
Please test CoLT (Copy Link Text), to replace "c)"  It also supports right-clicking on the page and copying page title & URL, etcetera. It even comes localized for 22 languages.

Awe-some, thanks! The great thing is that I can create my own copy formats *and* menu commands right in the extension's UI. This one is better that CopyURL+, and miles better than hacking JavaScript.

General Software Discussion / Re: How I fought Firefox and won
« on: January 29, 2012, 04:31 PM »
BTW, there's one really annoying thing when you are modifying the JavaScript code of an extension. It used to be that you could edit the code, re-package the .js file into the .xpi extension file and restart the browser to test your changes. Not any more. Firefox 9 detects that an extension has been modified and simply blocks it. There's no special error message, either. FF just claims the extension is incompatible with it, which is misleading and may send you looking for bugs in your extension code that just aren't there.

So, to see if your code works, you have to uninstall the extension first, then manually re-install it after every change. That includes the wait countdown every time. Security, I know, but it makes little tweaks like mine quite aggravating.

General Software Discussion / How I fought Firefox and won
« on: January 29, 2012, 03:04 PM »
I held out as long as I could, but when every other site tells you your browser is outdated, it's time to give up and move on. So I switched, very recently, from Firefox 3.6 to 9. And well, you know what happened next :-)

Sure, I expected problems with extensions, but not to the point where just lying to Firefox about the extension's version compatibility would no longer work. It no longer works. Something changed dramatically in how Firefox handles menus and toolbars, so each and every extension that added a menu item or a toolbar button is now dead. Completely.

Now, this isn't going to help everyone, but perhaps some DC readers will find it useful. I can give up on a lot, but there are several extensions and modifications that I absolutely cannot live without. They are:

  • "Paste and go" in the address bar and "Paste and search" in the search bar.
  • A Save button on the toolbar for File -> Save Page As command.
  • A context menu command to copy current page title, selection (if any) and address to clipboard.
  • A modification of how Firefox saves pages to disk: (a) use page title instead of the document filename, which is usually "index.php" or something equally useless, and (b) use the selected text, if any, as filename.

For all that I had relied on a bunch of extensions and self-made modifications that I had always been able to carry over from one FF release to another. Until now. With FF 9, I've had to re-do them all from scratch or find alternative solutions. Here's how I did that, FWIW.

(a) "Paste and go" in the address bar and "Paste and search" in the search bar.

This one was easy. The "Paste and go" extension is no longer supported, but its functionality has finally been added to the Firefox core. No doubt it was because Google Chrome had thought of it earlier; the FF developers had never figured out by themselves that the #1 reason to paste anything in the address bar... better late than never! IE still doesn't get that.

(b) A Save button on the toolbar for File -> Save Page As command.

This one required some work, but was easy. The old way no longer seems to work. Happily, there is a new extension that's even better: Custom Buttons. This one lets you create buttons inside the browser, and it is not limited to a predefined set of functions. Instead, you can assign any JavaScript code to a button you create - from a single FF function to a script of any complexity. You can pick your own button image as well, of course, and set a few other options. I'm not all that conversant with Firefox's internals, but the extension home has a detailed FAQs and a user forum if you need help. So after some looking stuff up and tweaking the code, I ended up with a button definition that looks like this:


...and a Save button on the bookmarks toolbar:



(c) A context menu command to copy current page title, selection (if any) and address to clipboard.

This one took some more work. Previously, I had used an extension called CopyUrlPlus. It would add a submenu to FF context menu, with commands like "Copy Title and URL", "Copy Title, Selection and URL", etc. Exactly what I needed. There were not many options, but you could tweak the extension's JavaScript code to add your own related commands or modify their behavior. This one is of huge importance to me, because I run my old, creaky bookmark manager set to capture URLs with titles from clipboard, and I use it to archive almost everything I ever read or want to read later. Well, the extension no longer works at all, as the mechanism for adding commands to the context menu in FF has changed. I suppose I could learn that part and update the extension, but instead I went looking for a newer equivalent.

I found it in QuoteURLText. It does almost the same as CopyUrlPlus used to do, but "almost" makes a big difference in this case. It would only copy current selection and page URL; and if there were no selection, it would do nothing at all. Plus, it would add "field" names before each line, such as "Address: " or "Source:". I don't want that, because it breaks the URL and title recognition in my app. So, JavaScript time again!

I did a horrible hack with that. It was already late and I wanted to get the results I needed as quickly
as I could. I ripped out some prefs I do not need, such as copying with HTML formatting, and changed the code around to suit my purpose.  Instead of two or three separate commands I now have only one. If some text is selected, the extension copies the selection and the URL. If no selection is present, it copies page title and the URL. It does not copy all three, but with some more tweaking it is certainly possible.

I won't post my code here, because I'm not even sure if QuoteText license would permit that, but if anyone wants my modifications, just PM me.

(d) A modification of how Firefox saves pages to disk: (a) use page title instead of the document filename, and (b) use the selected text, if any, as filename.

I really cannot understand why FF does not do it already. It actually contains code that does at least (a), but for some reason that code is never used. As a result, FF saves pages with unhelpful filenames.

Alas, no extension ever did that part, and I don't think it even could. To get what I want, I've always had to hack Firefox's internal JavaScript. Under FF installation folder there used to be a file called toolkit.jar. A .jar file is just a .zip file with a different extension, so it can be easily browsed. Inside it, there's a piece of JavaScript called "contentAreaUtils.js", and in it there is a function named "getDefaultFileName()", which does what it says: generates a filename Firefox uses when you click File -> Save Page As. I have a snippet of JavaScript code that I would simply put on top of that function, copy the .js file back into toolkit.jar and that did the trick.

So I had a near breakdown when I saw the latest FF does not even come with a "toolkit.jar" :-) After some digging, it turns out that several .jar files have been merged into one, now called appropriately "omni.jar". And sure enough, contentAreaUtils.js is inside it, under "chrome\toolkit\content\global". It still contains the getDefaultFileName() function, but its parameters have changed and its code is now different, but never mind. The old trick still works. Put the following on top of that function, and Firefox will instantly become much smarter when saving files:

Code: Javascript [Select]
  1. if (aDocument) {
  2.     // use selection, if any
  3.     var mjSelText = aDocument.getSelection();
  4.     mjSelText = mjSelText.replace(/(\n|\r)+/g, " ");
  5.     mjSelText = validateFileName(mjSelText).replace(/^\s+|\s+$/g, "");
  6.     mjSelText = mjSelText.replace(/ +/g, " " );
  7.     if (mjSelText != "") {
  8.       return mjSelText;
  9.     }
  11.     var docTitle = validateFileName(aDocument.title).replace(/^\s+|\s+$/g, "");
  12.     if (docTitle != "") {
  13.       // Use the document title
  14.       return docTitle;
  15.     }
  16.   }

First, it checks whether any text is selected, and if so, it replaces any illegal characters with spaces and returns the result. Second, if no selection, it does the same with the page title. If neither works, it gives up and Firefox takes over with its own code. Later on Firefox actually checks for docTitle and uses it, but for some reason the function always returns earlier, so that code never runs. I just put it on top of the function instead, preceded only by the check for selection.

Of course Windows will complain badly when you try to replace "omni.jar" under Program Files with your own, but eventually you'll get your way.

And it's all good now.

Living Room / Re: Google Ends Privacy
« on: January 29, 2012, 12:47 PM »
There's a thread on Google's privacy killer on Dave Farber's "Interesting People" mailing list. Though somewhat tangential, I highly recommend this reply from Tim O'Reilly (yep, *that* Tim O'Reilly).

(And I should say I disagree with his first paragraph. Whether or not Google goes and does evil stuff with the data it gathers is almost immaterial; what's important is being at their mercy. You just don't give someone the ability to do evil and count on them being kind enough to never use that ability. So I strongly disagree with that part. But the real payload of O'Reilly's response comes in the paragraphs that follow.)

N.A.N.Y. 2012 / Re: NANY 2012 Release: Ethervane Echo
« on: January 29, 2012, 12:09 PM »
By chance is there a pdf of the help?

Why not :-) 

Download the PDF here.

Just in case someone don't know activAid - A GUI for AutoHotkey

Thanks AbteriX! It's the first I've seen activAid. Going to check it out now.

is there a text autoreplacer/correcter/expander that works with regex?

I don't know of any, but it might be a performance killer. Every time you press a key it would have to evaluate as many regular expressions as you have created to find one that matches. It's impossible to know the real performance impact without actually trying, but intuitively it looks iffy to me.

It's not just perceived performance from users' point of view, either. When an application uses a keyboard hook, like a text expander must, Windows 7+ imposes a strict limit on how long the application can take to process a keypress. It's a fraction of a second. If the application takes longer, Windows immediately kills the hook, so that the app can no longer function.

So there is a very concrete limit on how much processing you can do in a text expander. Regexes might be too sluggish for that, especially if you have a hundred of them, or if they are complex. Again, this is only my unproven gut feeling, but it might be one reason why you don't see text expanders with regex matching.

Living Room / Re: Google Ends Privacy
« on: January 29, 2012, 09:02 AM »
I think a lot of these boil down to reasonable expectations for privacy and the like.

I'm not sure about that. I've seen "expectation of privacy" bandied around on Slashdot for over 10 years now and used like it settles the score. I disagree. For one thing, expectation of privacy is highly sensitive to place, time, culture, etc. But laws are the same everywhere, and not just within a single country or state anymore. When Google does something, it affects everyone the same way. Ditto when ACTA gets passed. The only sensible thing one can say at that point is that there is no expectation of privacy at all, so as such the concept becomes meaningless.

For another thing, I don't think we could even agree on what it meant in the first place, back when it might have still applied. Again from my slashdot experience, there was a fairly common understanding that you have no expectation of privacy out on the street. I always thought it was silly. Downtown in a city of a million people, you have nothing *but* privacy! Everyone can see you, sure, but absolutely no-one knows who you are, what your name is, what you do or what you think. A small village is a different thing, to be sure. But I'm putting this forth as an example of how unstable the notion of "expectation of privacy" is. It sounds reasonable, but I think it only serves to obscure what might really be significant disagreements in how we understand privacy.

Living Room / Re: Google Ends Privacy
« on: January 29, 2012, 08:47 AM »
Nice, Godwin's Law.  ;D @ above
But accurate.

Yeah, Godwin's Law should be properly called Godwin's Theorem. Then we could avoid the common misunderstanding when it gets interpreted as a law-that-you-get-punished-for-breaking. It's merely a statistical / social observation. It does not (or was not meant to) regulate discussion.

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