Dammit, Oracle

I don't want the Ask toolbar.  I've never wanted the Ask toolbar.  I've said no to the Ask toolbar each of the dozen or so times it has been offered in Java security updates.  Stop asking me about the Ask toolbar.

Algorythmically, how hard is this?

IF (<this is an upgrade of JAVA>)
 ANDIF (<the installed version of java shipped with the Ask toolbar option>)
 ANDIF (<the Ask toolbar isn't installed>)
   THEN ( the user probably doesn't want the Ask toolbar, so don't offer it )
  IF (<the Ask toolbar isn't installed>)
    THEN(offer the Ask toolbar)


This is almost as bad as Adobe's insistence that I want a big, steaming pile of Adobe Reader icon plopped on my desktop during an upgrade of that.

I really wish I could just jettison java and be done with it.




Major Hayden of Racker Hacker wants us to use Selinux. So he's created a site to shame us into using it.

My reply:

Seriously? Your simple solution to educating people is a 52 minute video? I don't have time to watch a video to figure out selinux. 
Why do I disable selinux? Because so many of the things I install include that instruction for setting things up. If the developers of these things won't take the time to learn how to make them work in a selinux environment, why should end users be expected to do this development work -- individually, meaning a lot of duplicated and inconsistent effort? 
It is like expecting end users to put in SQL input sanitizer routines in their web apps. You are targeting the wrong community. 
Yes, a system with SELinux is, all other things being equal, more secure than one without it. But a system with one-time passwords is more secure than a system without. Security is not just a question of "more is better". System administration is a case of balance, of trade off between utility, usability, and manageability.

If you can run in a selinux-enforcing worl, I have huge respect for you, because in the past I have tried and failed. 
But until I can install the tools I need/want and have the developers support me with selinux enabled, I have more important things to do.



Standing Desk: 4th Iteration

I thought I had a picture of the third iteration of the standing desk, but I don't.

What happened was that a co-worker decided he needed a third screen because of what he is doing, so the boss got him one.  The boss asked me if I wanted one, so I jokingly said "sure" because I didn't expect it to happen.  But it showed up in January with other stuff for some new hires, and I'm not going to say no to new gear -- so presto, two screens.

I had them together on the cabinet on the desk, with two little Dell monitor stands underneath them, and this lifted them up to a height that was convenient for me to see.

The second thing that happened was that I lost my glasses.  This forced an emergency visit to the optometrist, and new prescription in hand, I went and got new ones.  So now, I can read the small print on the laptop LCD screen from where I stand.

So now I'm using things like this:

I'm not sure where the penguin came from.
I did have the keyboard on another two inch monitor stand briefly, but that got repurposed into a monitor stand for the two-monitor layout.  That left the keyboard a little uncomfortably high, and the mouse on the lower level.

Over the winter I went around in socks only for the most part, since the $10 shoes I was using were about $20 too expensive (if you know what I mean).  Since boot weather has more or less gone, I'm just wearing my shoes on the straight floor because the pad tile I have is too small to shuffle around on.  I am considering finding a larger mat to stand on, but with my day-to-day shoes I can stand straight on the floor.

I find I move around while standing, even if it is just shuffling back and forth on my feet while working.  And standing up makes it trivial to just step out of the cube when I need a micro break.

If I need to think, I'm still sitting down, especially in the afternoon.  This lets me stare out the window at the parking lot, which removes the distractions of the screens from my view.  There's also a white clear board I can doodle on in my line of sight, which helps.

But one good thing -- I happened to be on a scale last week, and I'm down 10 pounds from where I was at my last physical -- which predated the whole standing-desk thing.  So maybe it is paying off in terms of fitness, a little bit.

One thing is for sure, I've stuck with it a lot longer than I thought I would.

(Previously: 1, 2.)


Endless Circling

Dear Google,

When I click on Google+ in my web browser, the first thing you show me is a list of people I might want to put into circles.  Well guess what -- this is usually the same group of people you've shown me every time for the last six weeks (or however long this change has been active).

You are smart -- if I have not circled these people by now, what are the odds that I'm going to circle them now?  (Hint: it is the same shape as a circle.)

Stop showing me the same list of people.

Better yet, stop showing me a list of people.

If I want to circle people, I'll go looking for people to circle.  If I'm looking for Google+ , let me get to Google+ without the additional annoying click.

There are only two possible outcomes from you continuing this: either I'll just tune out the page completely and automatically click the "continue" button, or worse, I'll eventually get so mad I'll go ARGH! FUCK! and just stop coming here.

And you wouldn't want that, would you?

Didn't think so.

Love, me.

Dilbert On Being The Firewall Guy

It is rough being the firewall guy.  People always blame the firewall, probably because A) it is a box which by design prevents things from happening, and B) the average end user has no control over.  So as a firewall guy you end up fixing a lot of completely non-firewall-related issues because that's the only way to prove that the firewall isn't at fault.

And yet, some of us voluntarily choose to be the firewall guy.  Possibly because you can "accidentally" prevent people who are mean to you from getting at the internet.  Not that ever happens, no, people tend to be nice to this firewall guy.

Now, anyways.


Things I Learned (a continuing series)

The animators responsible for the Dire Straits video Money For Nothing, Ian Pearson and Gavin Blair, went on to found Mainframe Entertainment, who produced other ground breaking works such as Reboot! and Shadow Raiders.


Being Sad: Trying A Couple RSS Options

Dealing with being sad in a post-Google Reader world has led me to try a couple of RSS feed readers.

When looking around, I automatically excluded readers which depended on the Google Reader back-end to do their data storage and feed management.  I may try them after Google Reader is shut down, but right now there's no point in finding something I like only to be let down again when they don't update to another back end (either immediately or, as is the case for some iOS apps, ever).

On the iPad, I've been using Feedly.  Feedly uses the Google Reader back-end, which yes should disqualify it.  But they claim to be building their own back-end to replace it so that the transition will be invisible to end users.  Initially I was turned off by its magazine-style flipboard which shows only a few articles per page; however I've played with the options, and a recent rebuild of the app added a mode which seems to display more stories per "page".

Feedly is painful to use in a desktop browser, though.  I'm highly suspicious of these Chrome plug-in things, and Feedly wants to be one of those -- I suspect it is trying to manage a local cache of all my feeds rather than having me hit a central server for them.  (Which makes me wonder how the iPad app actually works.)  The real killer, though, is that Feedly seems to be littered with duplicate articles.  The sorting seems haphazard, and there just isn't the same article flow that was in Reader.

So for the browser, I've set up an instance of Tiny Tiny RSS on my private server.  And for a private instance it isn't too bad.  And as a side-effect, I've pruned my RSS subscription list down from more than 300 to just a hair over 200 -- a few broken feeds that I decided I don't care about, feeds with no updates since 2011 (or earlier in some cases), or just plain 404-ing feeds.  It works OK in the browser, and I've come to grips with the configuration options that are presented.

It'll do a number on the bandwidth usage that my server uses, though.  We'll just have to wait a couple weeks to see how running the updater twice an hour will impact my data transfer numbers.

But on the iPad, the mobile interface is just plain painful.  Or at least, on my iPad.  There's a ton of hesitation and reloading and spit-you-back-to-the-default-page-load that makes it almost unusable.  And since a non-trivial percentage of my feed reading is done on the iPad, this is a problem.  And running it in the iPad Chrome browser is an order of magnitude worse than that.

Oh, I'm also a bit put off by the TTR dev's attitudes which seems to be "we're not changing TTR to be like Google Reader, so piss off".  Which is fine if you like where the boat is going.  And normally I would agree with them, it is just their attitude is lacking.  I do think that expecting end-users to do their updates with git, claiming "the trunk is usually stable and usable," smacks a little bit of not caring about how others see your tool.  The install is the first time a lot of people see your tool, if the install is rough they are more likely to give up on it and be less tolerant of other rough edges.

Downsides: I thought that I could deal with seeing articles in both TTR and Feedly, but I'm less happy with that than I thought.  And there's the whole problem of managing RSS subscriptions in two places -- there's no trivial way for me to duplicate my feed trimming in Feedly from TTR.

I've been trying hard to not go back to Google Reader, since that won't be an option in the future.

I'm not sure what I'll end up doing in the long term.  But I'm not exactly thrilled with how things are going right now.